If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes
Monday, December 31, 2007
I've only made this twice, but it really deserves to be made more often. It's pretty easy, serves a large number of people (easily 12+), and is plain ol' scrumptious. We made it for our Christmas party this year, forgoing the traditional pies.
Cappuccino Cheesecake (San Francisco Encore)
Preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 9" springform pan with butter.
7 TB melted butter
1 ½ C chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
3 TB sugar
Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on a cake rack.
In a large bowl, beat until smooth and fluffy:
2 1/4 lbs. cream cheese
1 C sugar
1/4 C heavy cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Add, one at a time, beating well:
Set aside 2 1/4 C of the filling.
Mix together, stirring until dissolved:
1 oz. ground semisweet chocolate
1/4 C strong hot espresso coffee
3 TB coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
Add the coffee mixture to the remaining batter, and blend well.
Pour the coffee/cream mix into the prepared crust. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the rim of the cake is set. The center should still be soft. Carefully remove from the oven.
Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir into the remaining filling:
½ tsp lemon juice
Carefully pour around the inside of the rim of the pan where the cake is set. Allow the filling to flow into the center. Do not pour directly onto the center or it will collapse. Return to the oven. Continue baking until the sides rise and the center is just set, about 35 minutes.
Cool on a rack. When the bottom and sides are completely cool, remove the rim. Continue to cool at room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
What makes them so perfect?
- and EASY to make.
- Can be made well ahead of event.
- Freezer Friendly!
- They are DELICIOUS little morsels!
I've made these several times. They are always a hit. Next time I will probably triple the recipe, and flash-freeze them so they are ready to go when we have guests.
Something else to try with them: slicing them in half and adding a slice of thin cheese and prusciotto or salami. I got this from my friends, Nikki & John, who made a similar appetizer. Their recipe called for the slicing and addition of the meat and cheese inside. They were tasty!
Herbed Puffs (San Francisco Encore)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 2 baking sheets.
Combine in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
2/3 C water
1/3 C + 2 TB milk
1 stick (4 oz) butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
As soon as it boils, remove from heat and immediately pour in (all at once):
1 C flour
Using a wooden spoon, stir rapidly until all of the flour is incorporated and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Return to a low heat and cook for an additional minute.
Beat in, until the mixture is thick and smooth:
4 eggs, one at a time
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
2 green onions, minced
1 TB minced parsley
1 tsp dried dill
Spoon the batter into 1 ½” mounds onto the prepared baking sheets.
pinch of salt
and brush over the tops of the puffs.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.
These freeze well and can be reheated. (Since we had freezing temps, I did my flash freezing on the patio!)
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Never in my life had I ever heard of cakeballs until a year or so ago. On a message board I frequent, posters were raving about all the different cakeball combos they made. They talked of co-workers, guests, and family members devouring these tasty treats. Two seasons of talk passed me by before I finally caved in and tried my hand at making cakeballs.
There is nothing homemade about them. It's all about the boxed, pre-packaged foods mixed together with some fake chocolate. This cook-from-scratch girl did not want to like them. I hoped I wouldn't; but I did. They really are a perfect little dessert item for a party...bite-sized, non-messy, delightful little morsels.
So what is a cakeball, and how do you make them? It's really quite easy. You buy three ingredients: cake mix, a container of frosting, and Almond Bark (that would be the fake chocolate stuff). The flavors are all up to you.
Using a boxed mix, make a cake. Let it cool a bit and then crumble it up in a large bowl.
Mix in about 2/3 of a can of store-bought frosting. Mix up the cake and frosting until you have a well-mixed mushy mess.
Using your hands, scoop out a little bit of the mushy mess and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on a jelly-roll pan and freeze for at least an hour. (The purpose of freezing is so the balls will be harder/easier to work with.)
Once the balls are frozen, place about 3/4 of a package of Almond Bark candy coating* (generic is fine.....yes, there is generic Almond Bark!) into a small saucepan.* Over medium-low heat, melt the Almond Bark.
Line a counter or cookie sheet with wax paper.
Place a toothpick in a frozen ball, and dip the ball into the melted Almond Bark. Swirl the ball around until it's all covered. Place the ball on the wax paper. Continue on until all balls are dipped.
The Almond Bark hardens fast, so you'll need to work fairly quickly. Once the balls are covered and the Almond Bark has hardened, place on a platter for serving (leave the toothpicks in) or in an air-tight container. They freeze well, and can be made at least a couple weeks ahead of an event. I would imagine they'd store well frozen in a vacuum-sealed freezer bag indefinitely.
*Sold in the baking aisle, near the chocolate chips.
**Choose your smallest, yet deepest, saucepan. This allows for easier dipping.
Your cake balls should have a nice, shiny, smooth appearance. Do you notice that mine are lumpy*? Yeah, I noticed that too. Huh. Last year they were smooth. However, the lumpy bumpy-ness of mine gave me an idea that you could probably put something (nuts, candy pieces, etc.) in the melted Almond Bark. Or you could sprinkle something on your cakeballs before the coating hardens.
Flavor combos: The choices are really endless. Simply think of your favorite cake/frosting combinations. I know the Almond Bark comes in vanilla and chocolate, although you might find other flavors as well.
*The lumpy cakeballs are from this year (2007). The nice smoooooth ones at top are from 2006. Don't they look nicer???
Added an hour later:
I think I've died and gone to cakeball heaven! On a whim I googled cakeballs, and came upon these glorious pictures on flickr! Okay...ditch the toothpicks and start decorating! How FUN are those?!!
Just in time for New Year's Eve...the PERFECT party punch. What makes it so perfect? It's the right balance of sweet fruitiness with some zip from the Sprite. It takes the simple Hawaiian Punch/Sprite combo and kicks it up a notch or two.
To spike or not to spike, that is the question. For the designated drivers and the kiddos (should there be any present) I recommend leaving the alcohol out. You can always leave a bottle (or two) next to the punch bowl (see above photo).
The ice ring was made with this handy little Jell-o mold from Tupperware. Though a staple in the south, this particlular Jell-o mold is rarely used. It is kept in the back of the cabinet for the annual ice ring. (It also could be used to make Rice Krispie Treat Wreaths at Christmastime.)
Don't have a punch bowl? Then use your largest mixing bowl and a soup ladle. Last year I served it in this Tupperware bowl before I stumbled on my yard sale bargain of the year: a punch bowl complete with 36 matching cups, some cup rings, and a ladle. All for $7.50. The box it came in is labeled, "Good Junque." For $7.50 I quite agree!
Makes 16 quarts
1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
1 can pineapple juice
1 (1.89 liter) bottle cran-raspberry cocktail juice
1 2-liter bottle Sprite
2 oz. Grenadine
Pour some of this into a jello mold for an ice ring.
Garnish with lemon & orange slices.
Add vodka or rum if desired.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I've had this cookie recipe in my box for at least 10 years, but I've never made it. I actually have collected a lot of cookie recipes that have yet to be tried and tasted. This year I made it a point to make three new cookies, and this was one of them.
It was coming along quite nicely until I looked in the oven and saw the cute little "foldovers" had un-folded. In subsequent batches I twisted and smooshed the dough with all my might, hoping they would stay closed. Most didn't. After 3 pans I had a 30% success rate.
At this point I gave up on the foldovers and moved on to spirals, jelly-roll style! This proved to be much easier, a lot faster, and they stayed together (as long as the seam was on the bottom). So, from now on, these "Foldovers" will be "Spirals".
Taste: I especially liked the not-too-sweet taste of the fudge filling and the cream cheese dough. If I can get the spirals to look a bit nicer, they might have a place in next year's cookie exchange.
Fudge Filled Foldovers
Mix together, and refrigerate* until the fudge-filling is made:
1-1/4 C flour
3 oz. package cream cheese
softened 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1/2 C sugar
1 TB softened butter
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1/2 Cwalnuts - finely chopped
Roll out 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board or between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Use a pastry cutter to cut into 2-1/2 inch squares. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling into the center of each square. Bring 2 diagonal corners of each square together in the center over the filling and twist to seal**. Place the cookies 1/2 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Yield: 25 cookies
*These do not have to be refrigerated very long. Mine were in the refrigerator for a few days before rolling out, and I actually had to let it soften quite a bit before it was workable. It doesn't have to be as cold/chilled as pie crust or sugar cookies.
**Twist and smoosh, twist and smoosh!!
Roll out a bit of dough until you have it about 3" x 12". Spread the fudge mixture onto the dough, pressing in so it stays in place as you roll. Roll up the dough, jelly-roll style. Place on a baking sheet (it's easier to put th whole roll on the sheet & cut right there), and make 1/2" slices. The dough doesn't spread much, so you can have them pretty close together on the baking sheet.
Monday, December 10, 2007
One problem in our family is that while Katie, the vegetarian, loves beans of all kinds, her mother doesn't. I like the chicken in the soup; she likes the beans. Brian likes them both. We easily satisfied everyone's tastes by making two pots of the soup for our family: one with chicken and one with beans. Brian simply combined the two for his chili!
The recipe comes from Cooking Light's April 1997 issue. I love the flavor from the lime juice and tomatillos.
White Bean and Chicken Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast halves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped shallots*
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
1 (14 1/4-ounce) can fat-free chicken broth
1 (11-ounce) can tomatillos, drained and coarsely chopped
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
9 tablespoons (about 4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray. Add oil; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.
Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (tomatoes through cumin). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken and beans; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice and pepper. Ladle into bowls: top with cheese.
Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili and 1 tablespoon cheese)
CALORIES 247(23% from fat); FAT 6.2g (sat 2g,mono 1.7g,poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 23.3g; CHOLESTEROL 38mg; CALCIUM 171mg; SODIUM 593mg; FIBER 3.1g; IRON 2.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.4g
*We couldn't find shallots, and substituted leeks instead. Worked just fine!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Friends of ours held their annual cookie exchange party this afternoon. I love going to this because we come home with so much variety! This week we are all supposed to email the hostess with our recipes. This excites me, because there were some really yummy cookies in the mix!! So, as soon as the recipes come through, I'll share our family's favorites with you.
But to start off the cookie recipe posts, here is a real winner that I made for the party. It came in last year's Sunset Magazine (December 2006 issue). What I love about it is that it was an easy dough to make and work with. The Pampered Chef cookie medium cookie scoop made perfectly round cookies. And the frosting was so quick and easy.
Frosted Ginger Cookies
Slowly mix in dry ingredients with wet ones, and blend well.
In a ziplock bag, mix together:
1-2 TB water
Mix until the icing is lump free and will drizzle easily. If it's too thick, add a little more water...just a few drops at a time. Arrange all your cookies out in one area (works best if you can do them all at once!) Cut a tiny corner off at the bottom of the bag and start drizzling the icing all over the cookies.
They take about 30-40 minutes for the icing to dry (the time really depends on how thick the icing is).
Yield: Makes 40 cookies*
What I love about these cookies is that they taste and look great. We'll be making them again next year.
*Though the original recipe says the recipe makes 40 cookies, I only got 28 out of it! Perhaps my Pampered Chef medium cookie scoops were larger than the original "walnut sized" scoops the recipe originally called for. Anyway, using the larger scoop will also alter the nutritional information per cookie.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Every year I make some holiday home baked/made treats for our neighbors and friends. A couple years ago, I made these adorable Rice Krispie Wreaths for our neighbors and friends. They were very well received...I mean, who doesn't just love a Rice Krispie treat??? (OK, maybe those with braces, as they're not able to eat them...)
They were so fun and easy to make!
Rice Krispie Wreaths
Prepare a bundt pan (the Pampered Chef stoneware one works great!) by greasing the sides and middle cone with butter or margarine.
Sprinkle into the bottom of the bundt pan:
small handful of Holiday M&Ms (red, green, white)
Melt in microwave for 1 ½ minutes on high:
1/4 cup butter, margarine, or spread
1 1b. package of marshmallows
Fold the melted butter and marshmallows together.
Add the following and then quickly fold the ingredients together:
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp green food coloring
5-6 cups Rice Krispies
This step needs to be done quickly so the mixture is still soft when scooped into the pan. It becomes difficult to work with, especially if the mixture is stirred, not folded.
Scoop out the mixture into prepared bundt pan. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will be easier to press down, and will be less sticky if you wait a little.
Using a scrap piece of parchment paper (not plastic wrap, foil, or wax paper...parchment paper), push the mixture down into the bowl. Let is set for another 5 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate. Add a bow and your wreath is ready!