Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Caramel-Topped Chocolate Cheesecake Tutorial

I recently had a Pampered Chef party at my house. These get-togethers are the time to try out decadent dessert recipes because I know I won't be left with an entire cheesecake to eat by myself when it's over. So, I made a can of the Dulce de Leche from THIS tutorial and decided it would be the perfect topping to a homemade chocolate cheesecake.

Caramel-Topped Chocolate Cheesecake


Ingredients

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
One can Dulce de Leche from THIS tutorial (or 1 cup of any caramel sauce)
Chocolate Chips for the top


Step 1

Combine butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar; press on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. 

Step 2

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.

Step 3

Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. 

Step 4


Melt the 2 cups of chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals.


Step 5



Add the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and eggs, to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until combined.


Step 6


Pour the chocolate cream cheese mixture into the springform pan.


Step 7


Bake at 300 degrees for 65 minutes or until cake center is set. (I suggest a pan of hot water beneath the cheesecake to prevent cracking). When the baking time ends, turn off the oven and crack the door. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an hour to cool.

Step 8


Once the cheesecake is cooled, spread the caramel sauce over the top, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Step 9


Sprinkle with chocolate chips and serve.


Homemade Hamburger Buns Tutorial

This is my third attempt at making hamburger buns. My first try ended up in flat rocks. I ate them...but I didn't enjoy it. My second attempt was good but time consuming. This is a different recipe and I'm happy to report that they were PERFECT and didn't take much work at all! I ate them AND enjoyed it! What a novel idea, huh?

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk
8 Tbs butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 Tbs active dry yeast
4 1/2 - 5 cups of all-purpose flour
5 Tbs granulated sugar
1 Tbs salt


Step 1



In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter. Heat until butter is almost completely melted. Then turn off the heat and let the milk cool to about 105-110 degrees.

Step 2

While the milk cools, in a bowl, combine 4 1/2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.

Step 3

Pour the cooled milk into the flour mixture. Mix until the dough forms a ball (add the extra 1/2 cup flour if the dough seems too wet).

Step 4


Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic. About 7 minutes.

Step 5


Put the dough in an oiled bowl to rise. Cover with saran wrap or a clean towel and put the bowl in a cold oven (with oven light on). And let rise until double in size. About an hour.

Step 6


Once the dough has risen, turn it out on a floured surface. Roll it out into a 10X8 inch rectangle and cut into 8 or 10 squares. Tuck the corners of each square under to make a circle shape. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Step 7

Cover the baking sheet with saran wrap, and put it back into the cold oven to let rise again. About 40 minutes (until double in size).

Step 8

After the buns have doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees (leave the risen buns in the oven while it preheats). Bake the buns for 17-18 minutes TOTAL (that includes the time it takes to preheat). Bake until the tops are golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in the middle of the bun registers at 190 degrees). Cool on a wire rack. Cut the buns in half to use as hamburger buns.




Monday, January 30, 2012

Blackberry-Apple Brioche Tutorial


I'm not exactly sure if this is a true "Brioche" but it is made much like you would make a brioche, so I'm going with it.

This is one of my favorite special occasion breads. It's perfect as a gift, which is what I did with this batch. It was a thank you to the employees of the airport we toured for our first home-school field trip.

It's a bit involved but totally worth it.

Blackberry-Apple Brioche

For the dough:

1/2 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into small pieces)

Egg Wash:

1 tablespoon cream 
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Topping:
 
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced 
2 cups fresh blackberries



 

Step 1



In the bowl of your electric mixer, stir together the  milk, 1/2 teaspoon white sugar, and the yeast. Let this mixture stand 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Step 2
Add the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt and beat until combined.
Step 3
Add the egg and beat the dough for a few minutes.
Step 4

Using the dough hook gradually add small pieces of the softened butter.

Step 5


Turn out the dough onto a flour surface and knead the butter in until the dough is silky and soft. (The dough will fall apart but come together towards the end). Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (this will take about 1 1/2 - 2 hours).
Step 6
Once it has doubled in size, punch the dough down and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out, then press into a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet.


Step 7

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg and cinnamon for the egg wash. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).  
Step 8
In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is lumpy. Set aside.
Step 9
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has doubled in size, once again lightly brush the surface with the egg wash.  Evenly place the blackberries and diced apple on the dough and then sprinkle with the streusel topping.
Step 10



Bake for about 35 minutes or until nicely browned and cooked through. Cut into squares and enjoy warm!


Friday, January 27, 2012

My Wedding Pillow

My husband and I were married, um...uhhhhh, almost 7 years ago. His mother is a gifted quilter and one of my most cherished memento's from our wedding (other than my husband and my wedding ring) is the quilted Wedding Pillow my mother-in-law made me.

She used the picture of my husband "Kissing his Bride" for the inspiration. She took different fabrics and used them to recreate that special moment on a pillow. From my short red hair, white skin, ivory dress, handmade crown veil, and even my bouquet.

I wanted to share the pillow with you in case some other talented quilters needs inspiration for a wedding gift.





Monday, January 23, 2012

Cheesy Fried Chicken Breasts (FREEZER MEAL)

This freezer meal is great for families with kids. Takes 10 minutes to get them made and in the freezer! Sorry, I didn't take pictures when I made them on Freezer Cooking day. But the instructions are easy to follow.

Cheesy Fried Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (how ever many you want to freeze, we do one per person)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Melted butter or beaten egg (for dipping)
Saran Wrap

Directions

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and cheddar cheese.

Take a raw breast, dip in the butter or egg mixture, then into the bread crumb/cheese mixture. Make sure the whole breast is coated with crumbs.




Lay the coated chicken breast on a piece of saran wrap and wrap it up tight. Place breaded, wrapped, chicken breast in a labeled Ziploc bag. Continue until all the breasts are done. (You may need to add more bread crumbs and cheese to the bowl if you have several breast to do.

To reheat



Unwrap desired number of bread chicken breasts and place on a baking sheet. Put baking sheet in the fridge and allow the breasts to thaw.

When completely thawed, bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until brown (internal temp should read 170 degrees).

(If you plan on baking them straight from the freezer (not thawed), up the baking time to 35-40 minutes).


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sushi Night Tutorial

I. Love. Sushi. Really, like...LOVE sushi. But, know what I love even more than sushi? Not leaving my house to have sushi. Tonight, we had Shrimp Tempura, California Rolls, and Spicy Tuna Rolls and I didn't change out of my pajamas. Awesome.

Sushi sounds and looks daunting. But, really, it's not that hard! You don't have to be a trained sushi maker to make sushi at home. It doesn't have to be perfect (mine isn't) as long as it tastes good. Which it will!

Ingredients for Sushi Night


1/2 pound of fresh shrimp, peeled-leave the tail on
Tempura Batter mix (found in the Asian aisle)
Oil for frying
Sushi Rice
Rice vinegar
Nori (Seaweed Sheets) (I cut mine in half width-ways)
1/2lb fresh tuna steaks
Imitation crab meat
Cucumber
Avocado
Rolling mat (found at Asian markets)
Soy Sauce
Wasabi and/or spicy mayonnaise (found in Asian aisle)


Shrimp Tempura




First, you need to cut along the back of the shrimp and remove the vein. Ew.


Then turn the shrimp over and cut it down the middle (not going all the way through. You are "butterflying" the shrimp.


Prepare the tempura batter per the instructions on the box.  Dip the shrimp in, let the excess batter fall.


Drop the shrimp in 350 degree oil and cook until golden. About 8-10 minutes.


Preparing the sushi rice:


 In a small sauce pan add 1 cup of sushi rice. Rinse the rice with tap water until the water runs clear. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the rice. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let the rice simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.



Fluff with a fork and pour into a glass bowl. To the rice, add 2 Tbsp of rice vinegar. Mix together gently while fanning the rice. This cools the rice off, making it sticky and perfect for rolling.

Once your rice is ready, prepare your ingredients:

- Peel your cucumbers, cut in half, lengthways, and scrape out the seeds. Cut into sticks.


- Imitations crab sticks: Cut in half lengthways.


-Avocado- Cut in half (around the seed) with a knife. Open the halves up, hit the seed with your knife, twist and remove the seed. Run a spoon between the avocado and skin, scoop the avocado out and slice in the strips.







-Cutting the Tuna: You want to cut thin slices, against the grain. This makes it easier to eat when it's rolled up in the sushi.




 Assembling the California Roll



Take a half sheet of nori. Add 1/2 cup of rice. Wet your hands and spread the rice over the nori.




Add two crab sticks, cucumber stick, and two slices of avocado.



Begin rolling. Hold the back of the rolling mat with your thumbs while supporting the crab and avocado with the rest of your fingers. 


 Roll gently over, once. Making sure the filling isn't creeping out of the nori. Now, with your thumbs behind the rolling mat, support the roll with your fingers, and roll again. The ends should overlap slightly. Don't worry if they don't, mine didn't this time. 


 Dip a knife in water. Cut the roll in half, then each half into four rolls. 



Assembling the Spicy Tuna Roll



 

Take a half sheet of nori, add 1/2 cup of rice, two strips of tuna and a bit of the spicy mayonnaise (Sriracha works, too)




Roll gently, making sure the tuna isn't escaping.


Cut into 8 rolls.


Enjoy your sushi with soy sauce and Wasabi! Also, experiment with fillings. We make Philadelphia rolls with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Roll some of those shrimp tempura's for a Shrimp Tempura Roll, just have fun!