Friday, August 7, 2009

Blueberry Orange Cheesecake Bars

I love the wonderful fruits of summer! Too bad I have a picky husband who doesn't enjoy snacking on fresh fruits. :) Since the fruit in our home tends to go bad before I can finish it myself, I decided to prepare a fruity dessert we both can enjoy.

And because my fruit was so pretty...they deserve their own spotlight photos ;)

Blueberry Orange Cheesecake Bars
By Ashleigh
(Inspired by Tyler Florence Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 graham crackers)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ( 8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 orange juiced plus the zest of 1/2 orange
1 container blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and press firmly into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan to create an even layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium high until creamy, about 1 minute.

Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and orange juice with zest. Mix until creamy and well blended.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the graham cracker crust.
Sprinkle blueberries over the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes, until set and slightly puffed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator to chill completely.

Cut into bars.

Warm from the oven...before cooling and cutting.

The finished product!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Zucchini Bread

One of the best things about summer is all the fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables. I can't take credit for growing this lovely zucchini (it was given to me by a co-worker), but I will take credit for the bread. :) Of course I will also give credit to my wonderful husband who used his muscles to shredded 5 cups of zucchini for me to use and freeze. :) Thanks, Sweetie!

My mother-in-law makes the best zucchini bread! She has shared her recipe with me and I recorded it in my "virtual recipe box". I tried all morning to access the internet site were I keep my recipes; however, the server was down. Disappointed, I decided to "wing it" based on memory and a banana bread recipe my mom gave me (obviously substituting zucchini for bananas with a few other changes).
The result....delicious! :) I think my mother-in-law would be proud.

Zucchini Bread by Ashleigh
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 stick of butter, softened or melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 ½ cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powde, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, butter, eggs, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 45-55 min, or until a tester comes out clean.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cheesecake Filled Strawberries

I’ve been making this treat for years; however, I have become more “refined” in my assembly. In college, I use to make a bowl of the “filling” and throw some sliced strawberries on top! :) Delicious! It wasn’t until I was at a book store reading a cook book by Mary Berry (the name of the book escapes me) when I saw her recipe for filled strawberries. I thought “What a great idea to put the cream cheese inside!”
This is such an easy, yet delicious summer treat. Since I prepared these for Chris and I to eat at home, I left out the step of covering them with chocolate (trying to look out for our health you know :) ). Besides enjoying these at home on a lazy Sunday, these could be served to guests at a picnic or elegant dinner party.
They are best straight from the refrigerator (chocolate or no). You can play around with the amount of sugar to suit your taste. I prefer to use fresh lemon juice instead of vanilla if I have it on hand because it gives it a more cheesecake-like taste. I hope you enjoy!

1 container whole strawberries
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (half of a brick)
1 tsp. good vanilla or 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar)
Good Quality Chocolate (optional) *recommended Ghirardelli chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese, vanilla or lemon (which ever one you are using), and sugar. Mix to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.
Carefully wash strawberries and pat dry with paper towels. Remove the stems from the berries.
(*Follow directions for chocolate here if using)
Using a small paring knife, core the center of each berry being careful to leave the bottom intact. Fill a plastic baggie with the cream cheese filling. Fill each berry with
Line a small baking sheet with wax paper

*For chocolate coating:
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt dipping chocolate at 30-second intervals until chocolate is smooth and creamy. Dip each strawberry into chocolate, covering 3/4 of the berry. Lay on baking sheet. Fill a second plastic baggie with chocolate and drizzle over the berries in a pretty design. Chill.

Store in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grilling Sunday! Grilled Salted Cinnamon Sugar Apples

It's one of those wonderful days off from work when the sun is shining and your agenda is WIDE open! Chris and I decided to enjoy some lunch on the grill! In addition to our spread of grilled chicken and spicy potato wedges, I decided to bring a new twist: grilled salted cinnamon sugar apples! This really isn't a recipe per se. My inspiration came from watching the Giada at Home episode "California BBQ". Here Giada made fried apple and onion rings. I decided to make a version for the grill!

Hot grill
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
3 Pink Lady apples, *sliced and cored (slice each apple into 5 rings and pat dry with paper towels.)
Salted Cinnamon Sugar, recipe follows

Spray apples with cooking spray and dip in Salted Cinnamon Sugar mixture. Place on hot grill for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and enjoy!

Salted Cinnamon Sugar:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chipster-Topped Brownies: A treat to help ease my work week after a significant absence!

Hello again! I haven’t posted in a while so this is long overdue. After returning from an AWESOME week of vacation with Chris and our families….I decided to help make my weekly staff meeting more enjoyable for myself and others  When I saw this week’s Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, a brownie layer topped with a chocolate-chip cookie layer, I knew this recipe was for me (and Chris).

I made one small change due to lack of availability of ingredient :) I have noted my substitution in parenthesis below. Also, make sure you watch your bake time due to varying oven temperatures. Mine were done in 46 minutes.
The verdict…It definitely lived up to my expectations! Let’s hope these treats can make it to my meeting tomorrow!

Chipster-Topped Brownies
By Dorie Greenspan in Baking: From my Home To Yours


For the Brownie Layer:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the Cookie Layer:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (I substituted 4 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons shortening because I was out of butter) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store bought chocolate chip

Getting Ready
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan, line it with wax paper or parchment paper and butter the paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Brownie Batter:
Put both chocolates and the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, heat just until the ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. If the mixture get too hot, the butter will separate from the chocolates. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, still on low speed, add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the batter. Using the spatula, fold in the walnuts, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set aside.

To Make the Cookie Dough:
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Working with the stand mixer in the cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter and, using a spatula and a light touch, spread it evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cookie top is deep gold brown and firm and a thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

When the brownies are completely cook, carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper and turn the right side up onto a cutting board. Cut into bars about 2 inches x 1 inch. (You can cut larger bars if you're serving cookie lovers with Texas-size appetites.)

Makes 24 servings.

Serving: Ice cream, whipped cream and creme fraiche are all great accompaniments, as is a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Storing: Wrapped well or packed in an airtight container, the bars can be kept at room temperature for 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Playing Around: The cookie top can be varied easily be swapping peanut butter, butterscotch or white chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate. You could even use all of them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blondies: I'm ready for a Throwdown? ;)

I just finished saying to my husband “Why doesn’t the Food Network ever travel to OUR city or state for that matter! I have seen several episodes of shows like: Rachel Rays’ Tasty Travels, Road Tasted with the Neelys, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, etc. none of which are shot in Ohio. So I was super excited this week when I saw Bobby take on the founders of Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties in Columbus, Ohio. This Throwdown inspired my decision to bake a delicious pan of Blondies. I adapted Bobby’s recipe to fit what I had in my pantry at home. The result was DELICIOUS. The next time I am in Columbus I plan to visit Sugardaddy’s Sweeties.

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
11 ounces (one bag) semi-sweet (or milk chocolate) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish (decrease bake time for metal).
Combine flour, baking powder, salt in bowl, whisk with fork and set aside
Mix melted butter and brown sugar until combined. Crack open eggs in a small bowl and whisk. Add eggs and vanilla to butter and brown sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in dry ingredients using a fork (use spatula on sides of bowl) until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan , smoothing top with spatula.
Bake 25-30 minutes. DO NOT over-bake. Mine took 26 minutes. Top will be golden brown and edges slightly darker.
Cool to room temperature before cutting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Carrot Applesauce Spice Muffins

After searching several sites for a muffin recipe that contained carrots, but NOT coconut (I am not a fan of shredded coconut) I was able to find a few, but these had mixed reviews. I decided to “play it safe” and go with a recipe modified from one of my favorite foodie blogs- Annie’s Eats. If you have not visited Annie’s blog you should definitely check it out. However, a word of warning—do not visit while hungry! Annie makes some amazing looking dishes that are sure to jump start your appetite. :) Annie got this recipe for Carrot Spice Muffins from Dorie Greenspan of Tuesdays with Dorie. This was my other clue that I would not go wrong with the recipe.
As I mentioned before, I changed the recipe quite a bit to suit our tastes and also increased the ingredients to yield 24 muffins. I omitted the shredded coconut and added a bit more brown and white sugar. I also decreased the amount of oil and added some chunky applesauce for flavor and texture.

Inspired by Annie’s Eats (Original Recipe Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

Carrot and Apple Muffins
Makes about 24
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup golden raisins (I omitted due to our tastes)
3/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (I omitted due to our tastes)

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix both sugars with the eggs at medium speed until well combined, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the oil and the vanilla.

Stir the carrots, applesauce and raisins (if using) into the wet ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the pecans (if using). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top. Bake the muffins for 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pans and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar after transferring to wire rack (when slightly cooled)