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)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie for one please!

The weekend is here! I enjoy a productive Saturday morning when nothing is scheduled and I can catch up on cleaning, laundry, and of course BAKING! I have been craving peanut butter lately and decided mid week I would make a peanut butter pie this weekend.
After cleaning my kitchen floors this morning, the thought of crumbly pie crust flakes that result from cutting slices in a pie really made me cringe. (Slightly OCD...I know.) But seriously...does this bother anyone else? That is my biggest complaint with pies, lasagna, or casseroles. I HATE how they look once you start cutting into them! They fall apart, blend together, and just look down right MESSY.

Anyway, this is why I am a big fan of "individual serving sizes". I had the great idea of making "individual pies" rather then one large pie to cut down on the crumbly crust mess. :) These little treats turned out great. I plan to make them again the next time we entertain to keep my food more visually appealing. :)

The crust recipe comes from my grandma's recipe index (I copied it down and several others while staying with her a few weekends ago). The filling is simply "trial and error"- combining one block of cream cheese with enough peanut butter and sugar to make it yummy. :)

Individual Pie Crusts:
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
4 tablespoon shortening (Crisco), chilled
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup ice water (or less- will not use full amount of water)

Directions for crusts:

Place butter and shortening (Crisco) in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy. Add shortening(Crisco) and pulse another 3 to 4 times. Remove lid of food processor and add 2 tablespoon of water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add 2 tablespoon more water and pulse again, repeating until mixture holds together when squeezed (I used 6 tablespoons total but amount may vary). Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place one 12-cup muffin tin, well greased in the refrigerator to chill.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Unwrap and sprinkle both sides of dough with flour. Cover again with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 11 to 12-inch circle. Open plastic again and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, create 12 circles.
***I was able to get 8 rounds out of the first roll before gathering up scraps and rolling dough again into a circle.
Gently mold one dough circle into each of the 12 greased muffin cups. Poke holes in the dough with a fork and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Bake until golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes (mine took 11 minutes). Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup peanut butter + 2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 teaspoons milk
3 Reese Cups, crushed for topping (optional)

Directions for filling pies:
Whip cream with 1/4 cup sugar and set aside. Mix all other ingredients until smooth. Spoon mixture into individuals crusts (about 2 tablespoons per crust). Top with whipped cream. Microwave 2 tablespoons peanut butter for 1 minute (until melted). Drizzle melted peanut butter over individual pies and top each with crushed Reese Cups. Chill for several hours before serving. Makes 12 individual pies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Go Bananas!

Have you ever had one of those weeks at work that make you feel as though you are going to "go bananas"? This week has been one of those weeks for me. Perhaps that is why I have been craving something comforting. Banana bread is a real comfort food for me.
As a child, one of the things my mom made quite often...and made VERY well was banana bread. As I looked at her recipe I knew I had two options: 1. Make it as well as she makes it or 2. Modify it to make it my own. I chose option 2. :)
I decided to take my mom's banana bread recipe and make banana muffins. I added the cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and an extra banana (because I had it). I also substituted 1/2 cup of white sugar for brown sugar. Finally, I also added the cinnamon and sugar crumb topping after being inspired by my mom's cinnamon apple muffins she gave me in my Christmas goodie basket. These banana muffins turned out great!

The adorable Mother and Daughter Tea Kettle was a gift from my mom. :)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (I used 5 good sized bananas)

For the topping:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Lightly grease 12-14 muffin cups with shortening or butter. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and stir until well blended. Add dry ingredient mixture to banana mixture and stir just to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I was able to get 14 good sized muffins so I needed a full 12 cup pan plus two muffin cups  ).

Combine topping ingredients and stir with a fork. Mixture will form a crumb consistency. Sprinkle crumb topping on muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove muffins from pan.

**To make a Banana Bread loaf instead of muffins, Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

“A Taste of the Islands” Pound Cake

Chris and I just returned from another AMAZING Caribbean get-a-way! The 2009 Buckeye Cruise for Cancer Proceeds from the Buckeye Cruise benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Join us on the 2009 Buckeye Cruise to help fight breast cancer! Check it out!

While on the ship, Chris discovered his love for pound cake. He claimed he has never tasted it before this trip. When I informed him I could easily make this at home he was very excited. This recipe for Pound Cake was adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).
I decided to bring a little of the Caribbean into our home to remind us of an amazing time had last week. The mix of flavors is wonderfully fruity, yet subtle. I baked mine in a dark pan and it turned out just fine (the recipe suggests glass).

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon rum flavored extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavored extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8 1⁄2-by-4 1⁄2-inch loaf pan, preferably glass, and dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until blended. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and all extracts on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until just blended. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until both are just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap gently on the counter to even out and settle the ingredients. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Place the cake on one of its sides and continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cheating....It tastes so good! A Cinamon Roll Cake

I'm not talking about the "cheating" on a diet type cheating (I don't diet). As a self-proclaimed choc-a-holic, it felt like "cheating" when I told Chris that this chocolate-less cake may just be "the best cake I have ever made!" It's true. This is absolutely delicious!

Inspired by my FAVORITE cinnamon roll, Cindy's Cinnamon Rolls, this cake is moist and surprisingly light with nice buttery edges. It has a deliciously cinnamon swirl throughout and the icing is... well....for lack of a better word "the icing on the cake". If you like cinnamon rolls you will LOVE this cake.

These basic, buttery yellow cake and sugar frosting recipes are both ones my grandma gave me years ago. I added the cinnamon sugar layering effect to the cake and cinnamon to the frosting to create a cake that tastes like a Cindy's Cinnamon Roll. :) I like to microwave my piece for 20 seconds before eating. Mmmm...Enjoy!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan or 9 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream; beat until well blended. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the batter in the pan, leaving only a small amount in bottom of bowl. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan and sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes for 13x9 inch pan (check at 50 minutes- mine took 55 minutes) or 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. For Bundt pan, allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (Add 1/2 tablespoon at a time)
Cream sugar, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add a small amount of milk (1 to 2 tablespoons). Beat until fluffy. If frosting is too sweet add a little more milk.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Growing up I hated meatloaf (sorry, Mom). I've talked to several people who feel the same way. This is why I was shocked when my mouth was watering as I watched an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello.

This was a delicious and easy dinner! I took the "prep work" out of my actual dinner time by following the first few steps in the recipe to create my "mini loaves" before I left for work this morning. I changed the original recipe slightly. Mostly because I didn't have any fresh Parmesan cheese and I decided a sweeter topping might be more our tastes. I highly recommend this recipe to those who have been turned off by meatloaf of the past. :)

Adapted from Italian Meatloaf Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello on Food Network

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded, small diced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg (original calls for 2)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
1 cup grated Parmesan (I omitted)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (my addition)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt or regular table salt (I used almost 2 teaspoons since I omitted the Parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce Topping:
3/4 cup ketchup mixed with 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and cool.

When the peppers and onions are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together except for the sauce topping. Separate the meat mixture into 4 equal “mini loafs” or one large loaf shape on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Top with sauce topping (recipe above) making sure to spread evenly over the top.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes for mini loaves or 50 to 60 minutes for large size loaf or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not-So-Rocky-Road Brownies!

On this lazy, cold weekend afternoon I decided to whip us up a sweet treat. When I went to the pantry, I discovered a bag of mini marshmallows left from Christmas that I decided needed to be used ASAP.
For me, marshmallows are associated with three treats: fudge, rice krispie treats (or similar bar cookie), and smores. Since I still have fudge in my freezer and my pantry was without gram crackers and rice cereal it was time to broaden my horizons. I did a quick search on the Food Network and found this recipe. Since Chris and I share a love for brownies this seemed ALMOST perfect. I changed the recipe to create "Not-So-Rocky-Road" brownies by omitting the nuts since neither of us like nuts in our brownies. I also poured about 3/4 the mix in the pan, added the marshmallows and then drizzled the remaining mix on top. (I did this because I became nervous when some reviewers mentioned their marshmallows catching on fire...not really ;) )

Later on I served these warm with some vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce! I HIGHLY recommend it. Yummy!

Not-So-Rocky-Road Brownies
Adapted from Food Networks Tyler Florence’s Recipe

6 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
11/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows

To Serve:
Top with 1/2 cup caramel or chocolate sauce, store bought

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside (I used a 9x9 but agree these would be better if they were thicker).

In a glass mixing bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is just melted. Mix it up to melt the chocolate completely. Stir the sugar into the melted chocolate until dissolved. Mix in the vanilla and eggs. Stir in the flour and salt just until combined. Spread 3/4 the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over batter and drizzle remaining batter over top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A love of chocolate: Amano Artisan Chocolate Review

My husband says there is no inherent gene for a love of chocolate. I have to disagree (sorry honey). Our family seems to prove otherwise. My mom has passed down to me her love for all things chocolate. She claims this love came from her mother. Regardless of where the gene came from, I am happy to possess it. :)

There are those few foodie blogs I visit almost daily. Blake Makes is one of them. In addition to doing some really innovative things in the world of blogging, Blake often hosts give-aways. This delectable treat was featured as a giveaway in December and I was luck enough to get one!

This Amano Artisan brand Jembrana Chocolate is very close to the best chocolate I've ever tasted! This 70% chocolate has a smooth and rich flavor. It isn't sharp or biting like some dark chocolates. You can taste the hints of fruit, spice, and honey that the packaging proclaims is found naturally in this cocoa bean. It doesn't leave a strong, unpleasant aftertaste once you've finished. The sleek box and pretty gold foil that encase this chocolate also make you feel as though you are unwrapping yourself an extra special treat. :) I give it two thumbs up! Thanks, Blake!

I encourage you to stop by Blake Makes and read more about Jembrana chocolate and check out his other interesting posts.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cheddar Beer Bread

A big thanks to Annie of Annie's Eats for her "recipe rewind". I have been anxious to use my new Williams Sonoma loaf pans that I got for Christmas and our ham vegetable soup dinner was in need of sidekick. :) I discovered this recipe on Annie's blog earlier this week during one of my many visits (she does such a wonderful job). I made a few changes as a result of ingredients I had on hand. I used all-purpose flour (rather then wheat) and added some white sugar to suite our tastes. I also added 2 more tsp. of butter (which could have been omitted now that I've tried the bread). This bread is wonderful! I used Sam Adam's Light (my husband's favorite) brand beer. I highly recommend this as an accompaniment to a hearty soup. Thanks, Annie!

Adapted from: Annie's Eats Cheesy Beer Bread

Cheddar Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
12 oz. beer
4 tbsp. butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flours, both types of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine well. Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir lightly until just combined, and all ingredients are completely moistened. Add cheddar cheese and mix to combine. Place into a prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.