Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Baked Tex-Mex Cheese Dip

Dip ed

We were quite busy this past Labor day weekend.  I decided to kick the weekend off by canning 25lbs. of tomatoes from a local farmer's market.  It was my first experience canning and I quickly learned canning is a labor of love.  I spent many hours in the kitchen washing, scoring, blanching, peeling, slicing, stuffing jars, and processing in a water bath.  Although it took more time than I thought, the end product was totally worth it.  I'm working on a blog post for the canned tomatoes and a few other posts with recipes that incorporate them as well.

On Saturday we attended the first Husky Football game of the season in the new stadium.  The view from our seats is amazing.  I love football season, especially the excuse to try new recipes on our tailgate crew.

Kyle held his Fantasy Football draft party at our house on Sunday.  We were gone almost all of Saturday (tailgating is a day-long affair for our family), so I wanted something quick to feed to group of hungry guys.  I decided to make this Baked Tex-Mex Cheese Dip as the appetizer since it seemed easy to throw together and sounded delicious.  This dip did not disappoint.  Within 10 minutes of bringing the dip out of the oven it disappeared and everyone wanted to know what was in it because it tasted so good.  This dip has the right amount of heat and would pair nicely with homemade pretzel bites. 

Baked Tex-Mex Cheese Dip
Makes about 8-10 servings


1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
1/3 cup minced scallion
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more to garnish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving


Heat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon each of the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and stir until combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, then spread mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Garnish with additional cilantro and serve immediately.

Source: Cook Like a Champion

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Honey Graham Crackers

 G1 ed

I've come to realize that I really enjoy preparing homemade versions of what's typically processed food.  My goal is to quit buying processed foods that contain ingredients I wouldn't normally cook with in my kitchen - primarily whole wheat bread, canned beans and tomatoes, and Autumn's "puffs".

These graham crackers were high on my list of recipes to try.  I wanted something I could substitute for Autumn's typical "puffs" and an added bonus would be using the leftover graham pieces in a s'more ice cream recipe. 

The recipe is simple to pull together, just make sure you leave enough time to chill the dough before rolling and then again before baking.  Whenever I make a recipe that requires a good amount of chilling time (I'm one impatient gal!) I usually double the batch and freeze half (or in this case, just freeze half since it makes quite a few crackers).  I love using my freezer for recipes like this because I can whip up a batch of graham crackers in no time if we spend an impromptu late summer night with friends around the campfire.

Honey Graham Crackers
Makes about 4 dozen crackers


2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. (300 grams) all-purpose lour
1/2 cup (75 grams) whole wheat flour or wheat pastry flour
1 cup (176 grams) brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 tsp. (4 grams) kosher salt
7 Tbsp. (100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and frozen (at least 20-30 minutes)
1/3 cup (114 grams) honey
5 Tbsp. (77 grams) milk, whole preferred
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:
3 Tbsp. (43 grams) sugar
1 tsp. (5 grams) ground cinnamon


To make the dough, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse to blend.  Add in the butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal (this can also be done in a stand mixer or with a pastry cutter).

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the honey, milk, and vanilla.  Whisk to blend.  Add the liquid to the four mixture and process just until a dough has come together.  The mixture will be fairly sticky.  Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap, form into a saucer, cover tightly, and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to bake the crackers, line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.  Generously flour a work surface.  Place the dough on the work surface, flour the dough, and roll out into an even layer about 1/8 inch thick.  Re-flour as needed since the dough is quite sticky.  Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into your desired shape.  Transfer the cut outs to the prepared baking sheets, spacing at least an inch apart.  Re-roll (and re-chill) additional dough scraps as needed.  Chill the cut outs once more until firm, about 15-20 minutes in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Bake until evenly browned and just crisp, about 15-17 minutes total.  About 2 minutes before the crackers are done baking, sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Let the crackers cool on the pans briefly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Smitten Kitchen

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes
On Saturdays I try to make something outside of our normal routine which typically means pancakes or waffles of some sort.  I've made these pancakes a few times now.  They are quick to pull together and the texture is light and fluffy.

It's hard to believe the whole recipe only includes a limited amount of flour, but the end result is a soft, soufflĂ©-like pancake.  Rather than topping these pancakes with the traditional pure maple syrup this morning, I opted to use the leftover Fresh Blueberry Sauce from the Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes I made earlier this week.

Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce
Makes about 8 pancakes


1 cup sour cream
7 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Butter, for frying and serving
Fresh blueberry sauce, for serving


In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.  Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add the sour cream and stir until the ingredients are just barely combined.  Whisk in the egg mixture until just combined.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and melt some butter in a pan.  Drop the batter by 1/4 cup servings onto the griddle.  Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form on the surface and edges are starting to brown.  Flip to the other side and cook until the pancakes are cooked through (about a half minute or so).  Serve with warmed fresh blueberry sauce.

Source: Pancakes slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman, Fresh Blueberry Sauce from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

BC-1 ed

It's been awhile since I've baked cupcakes.  I used to bake a new cupcake recipe monthly, but this year has been crazy to say the least.  Running after a toddler and carrying a little guy who is due in the Fall can have that effect on you I suppose.

I looked at my calendar a couple of weeks back and noticed it was one of my co-worker's birthdays today.  I asked her what flavor of cupcakes she typically likes and she mentioned fruit or chocolate.  With the abundance of fresh blueberries in our fridge from my in-laws backyard I decided to bake these Blueberry Pancake cupcakes.

BC-2 ed

This recipe includes a buttermilk cupcake batter that is infused with pure maple syrup.  The cupcakes are brushed with more maple syrup while they are still warm and once cooled they are topped with home made whipped cream and blueberry sauce.  These cupcakes taste just like blueberry pancakes and are the perfect excuse to justify eating them at breakfast.

Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
14 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, plus more for brushing
1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

For the frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
6 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar

To finish:
Fresh blueberry sauce
Pure maple syrup


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to blend, then set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and maple syrup and whisk to blend.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition only until just incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula.  Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about two thirds full (I used a 2.25 inch ice cream scoop and it worked great).  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool briefly in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack.  Brush the still warm cupcakes lightly with additional maple syrup.  Let cool completely.

To frost the cupcakes, combine the cream and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag filled with a decorative tip.  Pipe a swirl of whipped cream on top of each cupcake.  Use the back of a spoon to scoop out a small dip in the whipped cream.  Fill each dip with a spoonful of blueberry sauce.  Drizzle with a small amount of additional maple syrup on top of the finished cupcakes.

Source: Annie's Eats

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies

This past summer I baked Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies for our church's softball team and everyone loved them!  You really can't go wrong when you have a brownie recipe full of rich chocolate, coffee, and a touch of flour.  This is another take on those same brownies. 
These are so good guys!  You can really use whatever you have in your kitchen.  I ended up swapping the semisweet chocolate for bittersweet since that's what I had in our pantry and used kosher salt to finish the top (instead of sea salt).
As a side note, if coffee isn't your thing you should still add the instant coffee granules to this recipe. Everyone who tried a brownie couldn't tell there was coffee in the recipe and it definitely deepens the flavor of the chocolate.
Salted Caramel Brownies
Makes 12 brownies
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 to 6 ounces of good caramel sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons flaked sea salt (I substituted with kosher and it still tasted great)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 x 12 x 1 1/2 inch baking pan.
Melt the butter, 8 ounces of the semisweet chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the chocolate mixture.  Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Don't over bake!!
As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it's pourable.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt.  Cool completely and cut into 12 bars.
Source: slightly adapted from Foolproof by Ina Garten

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream

CI-2 ed

CI-1 ed

I always get the "ice-cream making bug" during the summer.  This year I've held off making some due to a lack of freezer space, but luckily Kyle and I ended up buying an upright freezer (we've been looking into buying a used one for some time now).

Seeing all the open freezer space and planning a football draft party menu gave me the perfect excuse to whip up some recipes.  This recipe is very decadent.  My original plan was to try some Philadelphia-Style ice cream (ice cream without eggs), but halfway through the recipe I realized I opened to the wrong page and was actually making a custard-based recipe.

Although I had to spend more time cooking the custard the end result was totally worth it.  This ice cream is rich, thick, and will satisfy your chocolate cravings with just one scoop.

Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes About 1 Quart


2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.  Remove from the head and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth.  Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream.  Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of that bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla.  Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until cool enough to place in the refrigerator.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, ,whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

Source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes

snicker cupcakes

I made these Snicker cupcakes for my coworkers a couple of months ago and everyone raved about them!  One person commented on how gourmet and professional-looking they were (that's always fun to hear).

They are a little labor intensive, but totally worth it if you have the time.  If you wanted to make a quicker version of these you could omit the filling and just make the cupcake/ frosting/ garnish combo.

Snickers Cupcakes
Makes about 20 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup light cream
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
24 fun-sized Snickers bars, chopped

For the frosting:
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

For the garnish:
8 fun-sized Snicker bars, chopped


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.  Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce, in a heavy saucepan mix sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in 1/4 cup water.  Stir in cream and corn syrup.  Cook and stir until bubbly (mixture may appear curdled).  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Let cool slightly.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife.  Prepare the filling by combining the chopped Snickers bars in a bowl with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, and mix to coat.  Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.

To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed 1 minute until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla, caramel sauce, and salt until incorporated.

Note: the caramel sauce should be just warm enough that it is workable, but not warm enough to melt the butter in the frosting. 

Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and garnish with chopped Snickers bars.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats, caramel sauce from Better Homes New Cookbook