Saturday, July 30, 2011

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Last weekend Josh and I drove up to his Grandpa Child's "acre garden" to pick raspberries. It's a HUGE patch and we were there picking for 3 hours-but we had dropped the children off at my mom's and I had a giant Diet Coke, so it was pretty much a vacation.

 We picked enough raspberries to fill 6 large boxes with the plans to make raspberry jam (which we happen to know nothing about).

 And we did-12 jars full: none (zero. 0.) of which set up. So now we have 12 jars of raspberry syrup-for which I will not be posting the recipe. But I did make sure to save enough fresh berries for these Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies from my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, and I was very deserving of the 5 that I ate.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 15 medium-sized brownies

Brownie Dough:
6 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used a cup of chocolate chips)
1 stick plus 5 Tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:
14 oz. cream cheese
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

Cream Topping:
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup raspberries, plus extra to decorate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
For the brownie dough: Melt the chocolate in the microwave by heating for 30 seconds, stirring, and heating for 30 seconds until smooth. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well until smooth. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the dough.

For the Cheesecake: Cream the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth and thick. Add one egg at a time, mixing well. The mixture should be very smooth and creamy. Spoon on top of the brownie base and smooth over. 
Bake 30-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm to the touch and light golden around the edges. The center will still be pale. Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight if possible.

For the Cream Topping: Combine the cream, sugar, and raspberries in a mixing bowl and whip with electric mixer until firm but not stiff. Spread the topping evenly over the brownies and cut into squares. Decorate with more raspberries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Mom's Potato Salad (with a SECRET INGREDIENT)

"This is it!! THIS is the Secret Ingredient to EGGS-A-RONIUS!" My brothers Jeff and Trav-were they to read this-are very embarrassed for me right now. And that is because, other than myself, they are probably the only ones on the planet to recognize that movie quote as coming from the movie "Ernest Goes to Camp". We were big fans of this show when we were kids, (and by "kids" I am referring to the time in which I was in High School), and any time I hear the words "secret ingredient" I think of that show. Moving along: 
My mom has been requested to make this potato salad for every extended family gathering for as long as I can remember. And that is because it is the best ever. It is the best ever because it contains her secret ingredient: pickle juice, Owen's favorite drink. Adding pickle juice to your potato salad will increase the creaminess and the flavor by a factor of 100, and that is a good thing. Know what I mean, Vern?

My Mom's Potato Salad
Serves 6

6 small, or 4 large potatoes, boiled and cooled
4 eggs, hardboiled and cooled
6 small or 3 large (but not giant) dill or sweet pickles
1/2 cup Mayo (Josh prefers Miracle Whip)
2 Tablespoons pickle juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lawry's Seasoning Salt

Peel and dice your potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Peel and chop the eggs, and add them to the potatoes. Dice up the pickles and add. Plop on the mayo, sprinkle with pickle juice, salt and pepper. Mix all together until coated. When ready to serve, sprinkle top with the seasoning salt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Salted Peanut Chews

I have a bit of a problem with visiting the gas station. I bribe my children a few times a week with a highly over priced treat, and then conveniently help myself to a giant-sized diet coke fountain drink. I normally have enough baked treats waiting for me at home, that I don't usually choose a candy bar for myself. Plus, I tend to stay away from treats that list the nutritional information right on the package-thus causing the calories to actually count and ruining the experience. However, when I was pregnant with Carson and obligated to fulfill any and all cravings, I noticed The Salted Nut Roll candy bar. Sweet...Salty...Crunchy...Chewy. I attribute 10% of my not-insignificant pregnancy weight gain on these bars. So when one of my very favorite food bloggers browneyedbaker made these Salted Peanut Chews, I knew they were the nutritional-label-and-therefore-calorie-free version. 

Salted Peanut Chews
Makes 16 large bars. (If these are not the only treat being served, definately cut them smaller-they're pretty rich.)

For the Base:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3 cups miniature marshmallows
For the Topping:
2/3 cup light corn syrup                            
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips (1-2/3 cups)
2 cups oats (browneyedbaker uses crisp rice cereal, but I didn't have any due to the incident pictured at right-just use whichever you have)  
2 cups salted peanuts
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat all the base ingredients except the marshmallows with an electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press the mixture firmly in the bottom of an ungreased 9×13-inch pan.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows over the base. Base 1 to 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows just begin to puff. Cool while preparing topping.
In a medium saucepan, mix all topping ingredients except oats and peanuts. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in the oats and peanuts. Immediately spoon the warm topping over marshmallows; spread to cover. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
What I happened to find Carson doing while I was preparing this post. It's an issue.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Butterbeer- 2 Ways

Yesterday I realized a dream. A dream I have had ever since first reading the word "Butterbeer" in the Harry Potter books.  If you are not a Harry Potter fan due to the rock under which you live, Butterbeer is a special drink Harry and his friends are always getting when they visit the wizard village Hogsmeade. In the books it is described as a warm butterscotch drink, and I have been fantasizing about it since 1999. Since the last Harry Potter movie is coming out this weekend, I felt it was my duty as a reader, mother and food blogger to make it. And I have further taken it upon myself to try two of the best-looking versions. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
I was attracted to the first version because it contains sweetened condensed milk. I am compelled to make anything containing this stuff, and it has recently crossed my mind that perhaps I should sneak a can with a spoon into the movie theater as my treat. (I opted not, after having visions of operating a can opener in the dark while spilling sticky liquid all over myself) While this version is delicious, easy, and completely acceptable-I found I preferred the taste of the second version. While a little more involved, it had a deeper and more complex flavor that was how I imagined butterbeer taste. The second version also included a cream topping that made the perfect foam-but you could easily add this to the easier version. And I'm telling you that you should.
Either of these versions can be served warm or cold-in the books, the drink is warm; at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter amusement park they serve it iced.
Version 1 on the left

Butterbeer #1-Quick and Easy
Makes 4 servings in 8-10 oz. mugs, or 2 servings in the giant mugs I used

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons butterscotch ice cream topping
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups cream soda
1/2 cup whipping cream

Combine the condensed milk, 1/2 cup butterscotch topping and butter in a heat proof bowl. Microwave 1 minute. Stir until butter melts into mixture. Divide the mixture between the mugs, and fill with the cream soda. Stir to combine.
For the creamy foam topping, beat the whipping cream with the 2 Tablespoons butterscotch topping until thickened, but not completely whipped. Top each mug with the cream, and stir to create a smooth foam.

Version 2 on the right

Butterbeer #2-More authentic in my personal opinion
4 8-10 oz. mugs, or 2 giant

1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
3/4 cup cream, divided
1/2 tsp. rum extract
5 cups cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the cream. Set aside to cool to room temp.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream. Using an electric mixer, beat until cream has thickened, but not completely whipped-about 2-3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar among the glasses-about 1/4 cup in each. Pour in a 1/4 cup cream soda and stir to combine. Fill the rest of the glass with more cream soda. Top with the cream, and stir again. The cream will stay on top and create a foam.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie

It seems to me people fall in two categories regarding coconut: fanatics and despisers. I, of course, am a fanatic-while Josh finds anything to do with coconut repulsive. Somehow, we are still married.
Recently my friend and cousin-in-law Mari asked me for a recipe for coconut cream pie. While I absolutely love the pie, I had never been able to get it to work-the last time I made it was a couple Thanksgivings ago, and everyone (except Josh, of course) was eating coconut soup out of a bowl. So I went on a personal quest to find a the perfect recipe, and I will tell you friends and neighbors-I HAVE SUCCEEDED. This pie sets up perfectly, and with the addition of coconut cream has TONS of coconut flavor. Josh wouldn't touch this pie with a 10 foot pole-and that is my kind of coconut dessert!

Coconut Cream Pie

9 inch pie shell, baked (store bought is fine, or I always use this recipe from Martha Stewart)

1 can cream of coconut (I use Coco Lopez)
1 1/2 cups half and half
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted*

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream of coconut, half and half, eggs yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Heat over medium low heat, while whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a low boil-about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and fold in the shredded coconut and the vanilla extract.
Pour into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate several hours, until firm (I let mine set up overnight).
For the topping, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and spread or pipe onto pie.
Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

*To toast coconut: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet, and bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

When I was my daughter Dylan's age (going into 1st grade), I loved reading so much I would spend hours trying to read through books on my own. When my grandma babysat us, I would pull out her books and see how many I could read before my parents came back to get us. Later in elementary school I would hide a book inside my desk where I could see to read, but the teacher couldn't see what I was doing (I will tell you privately that I still to this day do not know my upper 7, 8, 9, or 12 times tables).  While Dylan enjoys being read to, she gets burned out easily reading herself, and doesn't really love it. As a parent, it is my duty to force her to love the things I love-and so I have introduced: The Read-a-Thon. My most favorite thing ever from elementary school: an hour to silently read; with a pillow; and with TREATS.
I started making these peanut butter cookies last year after seeing them on one of my most favorite food blogs, I thought they would be a great cookie to eat out on the hammock for our read-a-thon. They're not thin and crunchy like most peanut butter cookies-they are thick, soft, chewy and rich. And I think I shall go have one for breakfast, now that I think about it. 

Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling and sprinkling-about a 1/2 cup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In your mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and mix until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stop the mixer and add the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix just until combined. 
Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfulls and roll into a ball with your hands. Roll in the granulated sugar and place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten with your fingers or a fork. 
Bake 9-10 minutes. When done, sprinkle with more sugar.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blueberry-Raspberry Pancakes with Buttermilk Syrup

I first had this life-changing buttermilk syrup when my friend Summer posted the recipe (served with pumpkin waffles) on facebook a couple years ago. I have since incorporated it into any and all special occasions with which breakfast could be in any way associated. LDS Conference Weekend. Birthdays. Presidents Day. The-Third-Night-in-a-Row-Owen-Did-Not-Pee-the-Bed-Morning. We have a lot of special occasions at our house. 
I thought for the 4th of July Blueberry-Raspberry pancakes would be the perfect opportunity to serve this creamy and decadent syrup. And I was correct. Since our tradition for the actual morning of the 4th is to have doughnuts and soda from the gas station for breakfast while we watch our town parade, I made these this morning. Which happens to be a special occasion day for Owen, because after carrying around an ad for fireworks for weeks-it is finally the day Josh is taking him to the magical white tent in the grocery store parking lot to pick some out. 

For the Blueberry-Raspberry Pancakes:
Adapted from The Complete Southern Cookbook by Tammy Algood

Makes 8 normal-person pancakes; 4 Tiffanie Hansen-sized

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon plus 2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries

Lightly grease a griddle or skillet and place over medium heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the egg, oil and buttermilk and whisk well to combine. Fold in the berries.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, (or 1 cup for giant pancakes) pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook until the tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute longer. Repeat with the remaining batter.

For the Buttermilk Syrup:

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (I have been told this is equally delish with whipping cream!)
1 tsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, buttermilk and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The baking soda will react with the buttermilk and foam up- you'll want to be using a large saucepan so it doesn't foam over. Serve warm.