Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheesecake Brownies

Struck by the strong urge to not do my school work, I decided that a much better way to spend my time would be by baking something. So without much hesitation at all, I decided to try my hand at some cheesecake brownies from my trusty old Joy Of Cooking

Can you ask for anything better than the combination of brownies and cheesecake? I'm still trying to come up with something...maybe brownie ice cream? But thats a whole other post.

Cheesecake Brownies
courtesy of the Joy Of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8x8 inch pan with greased foil, allowing excess to hang over the edge.
Whisk together in a bowl and then set aside:
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Melt in the microwave in 30 second installments:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolates
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Let cool 'til barely warm. Add until well blended:
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Beat in one at a time until well combined:
2 large eggs
Stir in:
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until well blended and smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine in a food processor until well blended:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest.
Spread evenly over the chocolate layer. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until cheesecake is lightly browned and set in the middle, about 32 to 36 minutes. Cool completely, place in the fridge until well chilled. Remove from pan with overhanging foil, and cut into bars.

I found these to be a very fun recipe to make, a little difficult in my tiny kitchen, but that was just a little hiccup. Be sure to cut these nice a small, they are very rich and delicious! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homemade Soft Pretzels!

I love, really really love making yeast breads. They take too long since I'm an impatient person, but they are so worth it. Since there's only little old me in my apartment, I was reluctant to make a big 'ol loaf of bread. So instead, I made a big 'ol batch of soft pretzels...much better. 
Some years back, I got this awesome cookbook called "The Dough Maker's Cookbook" and I have used it as one of my favorites. In this wonderful book is an even more wonderful recipe for soft pretzels, another true love of mine. I have made these before, but they came out a little sloppy, and if you know me, I don't like sloppy. Although sloppy, they were absolutely delicious, so I had no reservations about making them again. As far as a yeast dough, they do not take very long at all to rise, only 30 minutes, so that was just what I was looking for. 

Dough Maker's Soft Pretzels
courtesy of The Dough Maker's Cookbook

4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup rye flour or additional ap flour
2 tablespoons malt powder or sugar
Two 1/4 oz packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon molasses (I didn't have molasses, I used honey instead)
1 1/2 cup hot water (12o to 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
Pretzel or kosher salt for sprinkling
4 tablespoons melted butter

In a large bowl combine the flours, malt powder, yeast and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, molasses and hot water, add to the flour mixture and combine. When the dough comes together, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and slightly tacky, about 10 minutes. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each about the size of a lemon. Roll each piece beneath the palms of your hands to form a 20 inch rope. This is easiest done on an unfloured surface with clean hands, the stickiness will help you. The dough will shrink, so when you are finished, go back to the first and stretch them a bit.

Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees Fahrenheit.

Shape the pretzels by making a U shape facing away from you, then cross and twist the ends, pinch the ends where they meet the base to seal the knot.

Fill a large bowl with the warm water and dissolve the baking soda. Holding the pretzels by the pinched ends, dip into the water for a few seconds and then blot on a towel to dry the bottoms. Place on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with pretzel or kosher salt and bake until golden, around 12 to 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter when they are still hot.

As stated above, I love the process of making yeast breads. The smell of them cooking is so incredibly comforting, I can just close my eyes and be back in my babysitter's kitchen, waiting impatiently for the deliciousness baking away in the oven. The entire process is a joy to me, and again, the smell! Making these pretzels was fun because I got to play around with twisting my very own pretzels. This time around, being the perfectionist that I am, I was very careful about twisting them into just the right shape. And I must say, they turned out beautifully, all golden brown and delicious. I will definitely be making these again sometime soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Farmer's Market

This is a shout out to Elizabeth, who has been badgering me to join her down at the local farmer's market in our home town for some time now. Since the market runs from 9-12 on Saturday mornings, I've been reluctant to join because I value my sleep-in time very much. But being one of my favorites, I finally agreed to meet her down there. For a small town market, it has really flourished in Granville, with a great variety of vendors from home made sausages and cheeses to all kinds seasonal produce and locally grown flowers. 

One of the vendors was a woman that made all kinds of beautiful pies and pastries, both sweet and savory. I was very excited by her variety of personal sized treats, they were all so cute! 

I have always loved the feel from farmer's markets, the raw freshness of it all, the smells. The pride on the faces of the people selling their produce. There is a level of respect that I feel they deserve, with their deliciously imperfect looking stock just waiting to be made into something wonderful. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Now that my senior year is in full swing, I'm getting the feeling that the frequency at which I will be posting is going to diminish. So with that ominous feeling, it looks like I'm going to have to dip into my reserve of posts (which are also very few!). I realized the other day that I have not posted one of my photography related posts in quite some time. Actually, this will only be the second one, so hopefully I can start to pick up on these and share some of my artwork.

For those who may not remember from my long ago post, these images that I am sharing are ones from last spring's advanced photography class at Ohio Wesleyan. I chose to do food photography (big surprise) and these are the results.

If you are wondering what exactly you are looking at, these are tomatoes. What I love so much about this body of work is the mystery of how certain foods are going to turn out. For these posts, I plan to include a recipe related to the food pictured, so here you go!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What to do with all these Tomatoes

One of my oldest friends Elizabeth has a lovely little garden, and in that lovely little garden, she has lots and lots of tomatoes. Just about all summer she has been graciously offering me tomatoes and other home grown vegetables. And it just so happened to take me until nearly the end of summer to take her up on that offer. The other day I was feeding my addiction on TasteSpotting and come across this blog that had a fantastic and beautiful recipe for a tomato and goat cheese tart. So without a moment's hesitation, I had made plans with Elizabeth to make this lovely tart. 

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
adapted from Nami-Nami blog

1 sheet of puff pastry
5 ounces soft and creamy goat cheese
4 teaspoons fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 ripe tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out puff pastry dough and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Carefully score a line about 1/2 inch from the edge around the entire pastry, be sure not to cute all the way through! This will help the edges to puff up and keep the filling inside.
Mix the cheese, garlic, chopped basil and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over the puff pastry, staying inside the scored lines.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and neatly place them over top the cheese mixture, being sure to stay inside the lines.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until pastry is golden and the tomatoes have dried up a bit.
Let sit for about 10 minutes then cut into squares and enjoy!

This was so much fun to make! I'm sure a great deal of it had to do with the fact that I was making this with a close friend, but either way. The ingredients were so simple and fresh, it was hard not to be excited about the outcome. It was such an easy recipe that took very little time to prepare, yet the final product was so elegant. And as for the was wonderful!! Elizabeth and I ended up eating most of it...we just kept going back and cutting off more. I highly, highly recommend trying this recipe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just Peachy

Well, as promised, I am still here and just so happened to have an abundance of peaches that desperately needed to be used, and were pretty much begging me to bake them into a pie. But I didn't stop there, not only did I use me some peaches, I also used me some blackberries. And can I just tell you how lovely the marriage between peaches and blackberries is? I'm not sure I really have to, but just in case there are those out there that are slightly unsure...peaches and blackberries were meant to be together. I find peach pie by itself to be slightly on the unexciting side, so tossing in some blackberries really got the party started. 

Using my trusty Joy Of Cooking I found the recipe titled "Any Fruit Pie." Now that's just the best recipe title, because the possibilities are endless!!! I use it quite often.  

Peach Blackberry Pie
Adapted from the Joy Of Cooking

Recipe for a two crust pie dough
3 cups peaches, pealed and sliced (fresh or frozen)
2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2-3/4 cup sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Prepare pie dough of choice, let chill.
Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour pie filling into rolled out bottom crust and dot pieces of butter all over the top of the filling.
Using your finger or a pastry brush, brush the edge of the pie dough all the way around the dish, to create a sticky surface for the two crusts to attach.
Top with top crust, seal all around and crimp together.
Cut steam vents in the top and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
After 30 min. reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes more.
Let cool for 2-3 hours before serving to allow the juices in the filling to set.

The above picture is what was left. Need I say more? 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm still here!!

To the few that may still possibly read my blog, have no fear, I am indeed still here. I just got back a few days ago from Montana where my brother lives. I've just been enjoying the last few lazy days of summer before the evilness of school takes over.

This is a picture of the sunset (obviously) on the last day of our stay on this beautiful lake. This is a view from the dock. While this has nothing to do with food, I think it's a wonderful place and seeing this picture just makes you feel good. Food posts to hopefully come soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brownie Cut Out Cookies

Quite a while back, I was checking out my beloved TasteSpotting and came across this blog that had a recipe for brownie cookies. I was immediately intrigued. Now what I usually do when I find a recipe that I would like to try, I copy and paste it to a word document that I have which is just full of recipes. But for some reason, I failed to do so with this particular recipe. So the other day when I went through my abundance of recipes and could not find it, the search was on.

As I have stated before, I love cut out cookies, but at times find sugar cookies to be a little dull for me. So this recipe is wonderful because I get to use my fun cookie cutters AND have an exciting cookie to go along with them!

Brownie Cut Out Cookies
Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup cocoa powder

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Carefully mix in the cocoa powder (it will puff everywhere if you're not careful!) until well combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture until the dough comes together.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Bake for 8 to 11 minutes depending on the thickness of the dough.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy!

These turned out great, and the smell of them baking was absolutely exquisite. I was a little curious as to whether these would just taste like chocolate sugar cookies or would they live up to their name. The name says it all, these tasted so much like little brownies that if you closed your eyes and ate one, you would never guess that they were cut outs. The dough was nice and easy to work with, and the flavor is so rich and wonderful that there is no need for icing. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ice Cream of the Week: Fresh Peach Sorbet

In my attempts to keep up with my ice cream of the week pledge, and along with the growing guilt of eating so much deliciously fattening ice cream, it's time for something a little lighter. 'Tis the season for peaches, so there is no better way to put these delicious little fuzz balls to work than by transforming them into a luscious sorbet. I have to say that I hold peach sorbet very close to my heart...I do believe that I pretty much lived off the stuff when I had my wisdom teeth removed two summers ago. I honestly went through about a quart every two days, delicious. In my quest for the right recipe, I was very selective in the one I chose. One thing that I had a hard time with was that a great amount of the recipes I found consisted corn starch...and I think corn starch is kinda yucky. But with further research I realized that I could easily substitute honey for the corn starch.

Peach Sorbet

4 cups peeled and sliced peaches (about 4 medium peaches)
2/3 cup sugar (I used about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend together. I suggest that you start by adding just a little bit of the sugar and add as much as desired.
Chill the mixture for about an hour.
Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually around 15-30 minutes. Once churned, transfer sorbet into a freezer safe container and freeze for about 3 hours to allow the sorbet to set.

The flavor of this was so wonderful, and while I know that sorbets are supposed to taste like their main ingredient, this sorbet really and truly tasted just like a frozen peach. It was not too sweet, so the true flavor of the peach really shone through. As mentioned above in the recipe, I was glad that I added the sugar in gradually while tasting along the way, some peaches may need more sugar than others. Since I found this recipe, I've already made this sorbet twice this week...I highly recommend you give this one a try. Enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A light Summer Dinner

As stated in a previous post, when lacking something do, I usually turn to the kitchen. So tonight, on my ever so exciting friday evening, I decided to take advantage of the fact that while staying with my parents, they are more then happy to provide any desired ingredients with which to cook. Since I usually end up making some sort of dessert, I was ready for a little change. I got the idea for this pasta while watching Everyday Italian (I love that show!). I didn't follow any recipe, but I knew I wanted a light, mild sauce for the pasta since it's been so incredibly hot here lately. The main base for the sauce was olive oil, so I have a feeling that this pasta could be served either hot or at room temperature, great for entertaining! 

Broccoli and Sun Dried Tomatoes with Bowtie Pasta

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 large florets broccoli, trimmed into bite size pieces
2 cups bowtie pasta
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box and with about 2 minutes left, add the broccoli to the boiling pasta water and cook until pasta's done.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a skillet.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, add the red pepper flakes.
When the broccoli and pasta are finished, transfer to the skillet and saute just until everything is combined. Add some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce if need be.
Add salt and pepper to taste along with any amount of cheese (I like lots!)

This was a great experiment, and I'm lucky that my parents volunteered so readily to be my testers. I was afraid that the sauce would be too oily but it turned out just right. It was a nice, light sauce with just a little kick from those red pepper flakes. It was a very nice refreshing switch from my usual sweet tooth in the kitchen. This dish would go along well with some grilled chicken brushed with a little olive oil and lemon juice for those who desire a bit of protein with dinner. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ice Cream of the Week: Cookies 'n' Cream My Way

After much hinting from both my boyfriend Kyle and my dad, I've "given in" and made them cookies 'n' cream ice cream. The hints started when my dad very strategically placed the newly bought package of Oreos where I could not miss them. Either way, this ice cream is a favorite of mine, and I'm trying to stick to my ice cream of the week pledge. The abundance of ice cream may also have to do with the fact that I have very little else to do besides sleep in ridiculously late and lifeguard old people at Denison University.

What separates this cookies 'n' cream ice cream from the others is the fact that I add the chopped oreo cookies in at the beginning of the churning process, therefore breaking up the cookies and creating almost a chocolate ice cream. What I find so "exciting" about this process is that it makes the ice cream base the cookie part of the cookies 'n' cream. This all started by accident when I made this ice cream in the past, but it was one of those lucky mistakes that ended up great.

Cookies 'n' Cream Ice Cream: Amy's Way

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oreo cookies, chopped

Combine sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the mixture, around 12-15 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and cool to room temperature. (I found that the fastest way to do this is by placing the bowl holding the mixture into an ice bath.)
When everything is cool, stir in the vanilla and heavy cream and chill for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, chop enough oreos to make 2 cups and have ready.
Just before beginning to churn your ice cream, add the chopped oreos. 
Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually around 15-30 minutes. Once churned, transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container and place in freezer for around 3 hours to allow the ice cream to set.

I love this ice cream because you never have to really search for the cookies, they're already part of the ice cream, and by some wonderful chance, not all the cookies mix into the ice cream, so you still have the look of the cookies 'n' cream part. It pretty much tastes the same, but I really like to look of it, the soft brown of the ice cream and then the strong contrast of the cookies pieces and the cream. Enjoy!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Staying true to the pure wonderfulness of home made ice cream, I've decided that to satisfy my absolute love for the stuff, I will be making one ice cream per week. Or at least thats my hope...we'll see how long my family goes along with it before they get tired of being "forced" to eat so much decadence. 'Tis the season for fresh strawberries, and upon request from my boyfriend and having the knowledge that it is my mother's favorite ice cream, I chose to make strawberry ice cream this week.

For a long time I was under the assumption that I did not like strawberry ice cream, but that may have had to do with the fact that I had never had really good strawberry ice cream. And let me just tell you...I like strawberry ice cream. I love the subtle pink color the ice cream acquires once the strawberries have been added, and the aroma that the fresh berries have. There is something about the smell of fresh produce, especially beautifully ripe strawberries. 

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint strawberries
1/2 cup sugar (I used more like 1/4 cup, but thats just me)

Combine sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the mixture, around 12-15 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and cool to room temperature. (I found that the fastest way to do this is by placing the bowl holding the mixture into an ice bath.)
While the mixture is cooling, mash the strawberries and sugar (I used a pastry blender).
When everything is cool, stir in the vanilla, cream and sweetened strawberries and chill for at least an hour.
Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually around 15-30 minutes. Once churned, place in the freezer for around 3 hours to allow the ice cream to set.

While the recipe called for 1/2 cup of sugar to be added to the strawberries, I really wanted a strong strawberry flavor, so I added a little bit less sugar. And it turned very nicely. I did however, get the "criticism" from my boyfriend that there were too many strawberries. Now I think thats just silly, because you can never have too many strawberries. But I suppose if you are serving this ice cream to those who enjoy finding things to complain about, I'm sure you could cut back on the amount of strawberries and sugar accordingly. Either way, I encourage anyone to try this recipe.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buttermilk Potato Bread

When I was little, I had this wonderful baby sitter. She is a family friend and baby sat myself and my brother along with several other pairs of children. Her name is Marge and she lives on a cow farm with an amazing garden. I have countless memories of that place and the cooking that she would do for all of us. One of my favorite things that she used to make was potato bread. Just the smell alone takes me back to standing in her kitchen watching her knead the bread and form it into loaves. Sometimes I wonder if watching her in the kitchen so often had anything to do with my current love for being in the kitchen. While this recipe is not Marge's, it is pretty darn good. I got it from the Joy of Cooking (the best cookbook in the world). I had some buttermilk that I've been trying to use up, and this was just the recipe for such a situation. I did however, cut the recipe in half, I figured that one loaf of bread would be enough. I will give you the full the recipe to avoid confusion.

Buttermilk Potato Bread
courtesy of the Joy of Cooking

3/4 cup cooked potatoes riced or mashed with a fork
8 tablespoons (1 stick) very soft butter
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk, at room temp.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons  sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 1/4-6 1/2 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose and it turned out fine)

1 egg beaten with a little bit of milk and salt for an eggwash

In a large mixing bowl, stir the butter into the still hot potatoes. 
Add the yeast, buttermilk, eggs, sugar and salt and mix well.
Gradually stir in the flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.
When the dough comes together, knead for 10-12 minutes by hand or with the dough hook until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Coat the dough with the oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Grease two 9 x 5-inch (8 cup) loaf pans. Punch down the dough, divide it in half and form it into 2 loaves.
Place seam side down in the pans. Cove with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush the tops loaves with an eggwash.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 40-45 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans to a rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This was a very wonderful bread to make, while it took the entire afternoon to rise and such, it was so rewarding to smell the whole process. I love the smell of yeast bread rising and baking, it is such a comforting smell. The dough was easy to work with and came together very quickly with no fuss. And the taste...subtly sweet with a slight hint of potato. The interior is so fluffy and seemingly delicate, but it is surprisingly hearty and I would imagine it would be a wonderful sandwich bread. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Artistic Twist

So let me explain. I did not try any cooking for this post, but I promise, this has a great deal to do with food. I'll start from the beginning. For the past three semesters at college, I've been taking photography, and while it is not my major...I absolutely freaking love photography. My dad does a great deal of it, my brother manages a camera store, and needless to say, it's quite the subject of discussion in my family. So anyways, for this past semester, I chose my focus to be macro food photography. What I did was take very thin slices of food, all kinds, and placed them on a film viewing table so the food was illuminated from below. The results that I got were absolutely amazing, it was so incredibly cool. The foods that I thought would look a certain way turned out completely different, it was like an adventure every time I chose a different food.  

Each week I focused on a different food or color of foods, such as red peppers and red raspberries, etc. The above photograph is of the rind of a lime. My plan is to share some of these photos along with a possible recipe using the featured food. So for today's recipe, I decided to stick with the summer theme and go with an ice cream recipe that I found here. Let me know what you think!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Feeling a little Patriotic

Let me start by explaining my love for cut-out cookies. For a while there I tried to start a collection of cookie cutters, and in my own defense, I do have some pretty cool ones. However, like most hobbies I try to maintain, this collection has not grown in a long time. I think what I love so much about cut-outs is their perfection, the clean see, I'm quite the perfectionist. I have also spent the past year or so in a quest for the best sugar cookie recipe, and while I may not have found the absolute best of the best, this one is pretty darn close. This dough is one of the easiest to work with that I have ever found, it may be my new favorite. I did find that the recipe could have called for a dash of salt, the cookies were a little too mild for my taste. The icing I used is also a new one, and I must say, I liked it very very much.

Patriotic Star Cookies
courtesy of The Cookie Bible

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour

Cream the butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
Gradually add the flour until fully incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, around 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes and bake for 8-9 minutes. Cool completely before icing.


2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I'd recommend using more like 1/4 of a tsp. The flavor was quite strong)
1/4 cup milk

Combine all the ingredients together. The consistency should be thin, like glue. 
Pour the icing into a bowl that is wide enough to allow you to dip the cookies in. 
Dip the top of the cookies down into the icing and allow excess icing to drip off.
Once the icing is set, it will be safe to package to cookies without the fear of your icing being messed up.

I really liked this technique of icing the cookies, it was fast and very nice and even. Since I didn't have any red food coloring, I used red decorating sugar and it turned out very well. I almost wish I had had colored sugar for all of the decorating, I liked the added texture. I will definitely be making these again. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nutella Ice Cream

As my sorbet post explained, now that it's summer, my frozen treat making is becoming more and more frequent. Last summer was when I did lots of the experimentation, so now I'm just making the favorites. Using a basic ice cream recipe, I have a blank canvas. On today's "blank canvas" I decided to use Nutella as my "paint." And all I can say about Nutella is that it is absolutely THE BEST THING EVER!!! I have an extremely ridiculous obsession with the stuff, and take great joy in finding different ways to cook with it. This recipe is great because it's not too overwhelmingly rich. The Nutella flavor is subtle and sort of sneaks up on you. It is also quite dangerous because, if there is no one else to help me eat it...I will eat it all, so thank goodness for boyfriends.  

Nutella Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chilled whipping cream

Combine sugar, salt, milk and egg yolks in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the mixture, around 12-15 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and whisk in the Nutella.
Cool to room temperature. (I found that the fastest way to do this is by placing the bowl holding the mixture into an ice bath.)
Stir in the vanilla and cream and chill for at least an hour.
Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually around 15-30 minutes. Freeze for at around 3 hours to allow the ice cream to set.

As I said before, be sure to have others around with which to share. This is addicting stuff!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Meatball Subs for the Boys

A few weeks ago, I was home for a couple of days and to occupy myself while my boyfriend Kyle and his brother Brian were working on their "big manly trucks" down at the shop, I decided to make them dinner. I don't know what it is, but I absolutely love cooking for him, especially him, and I'm always very particular about what I choose to make for him. Which is a little silly because he'll eat just about anything. Anyways, I found this recipe for Italian Sausage Meatball Heroes on a while back that I had made for Kyle once before, and I knew he liked them, so it was meatball subs I chose. They're pretty quick and easy, and absolutely delicious.

Italian Meatball Subs
adapted from

1 pound spicy or sweet italian sausage
1 24 oz. jar of marinara sauce, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

1 package Italian sub buns (you can find them with the hot dog buns)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Mix sausage, 1/2 cup marinara, Parmesan and two tablespoons each of the parsley and basil together in a large bowl.
Using wet hands, form the mixture into 16 meatballs.
Bring the marinara, remaining parsley and basil and meatballs to a boil in a large skillet. Cover, reduce heat and simmer over medium-high, turning often, until the meatballs are cooked through, around 15-20 minutes.

Toast the buns in the oven for around 7 minutes.
Each bun will hold about 3 or 4 meatballs, so pile on the meatballs with a few spoonfuls of sauce and top with the mozzarella cheese. Kyle likes A LOT of cheese, so I had to be extra prepared.

I apologize for not having a photograph of the finished product, but because I'm such a good girlfriend, I just brought the fixings down to the shop and let them do the building.  All in all, it was quite a success and I highly recommend giving these a try.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blackberry Sorbet

In response to this ridiculous heat spell that seems to have hit central Ohio with a vengeance, I thought that the best thing to make would be sorbet! I absolutely love sorbet, I'd even be so bold as to say that I enjoy it more than a big scoop of ice cream. I love how light and crisp if feels on your tongue and the way it melts, needless to say, I find it to be very delicious.

I also absolutely love using my awesome Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the ice cream bowl's just down right fantastic! Once the warm weather rolls around, my friends and family lovingly become my taste testers for the ice creams and sorbets I choose to make for them. So, to start off the frozen treats season, I highly recommend you try your hand at this recipe.

Blackberry Sorbet
Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 cups fresh blackberries
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, about 1 minute.

Add the blackberries to the syrup and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring constantly, until the berries are soft and beginning to dissolve, about 2 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the berries with the back of a spoon. Toss the berry pulp and seeds. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. (I did everything up to this point the night before)

Pour the blackberry syrup into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually about 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm and enjoy!!!!

This is such a quick and easy recipe to do if you have the proper equipment. And if you plan ahead and make the blackberry syrup the night before, you'll be enjoying your home made sorbet in no time! That, and I must say, I feel a little less guilty eating mass amounts of sorbet rather than going strait for the ice cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Well, starting summer classes has definitely taken away most of my free time, therefore, not quite as many cooking adventures will be taking place, much to my chagrin. However, last night I decided to set aside my mountain of reading and bake these cinnamon roll cookies for my boyfriend. I made them over the weekend and loved them so I had to make them again and of course take pictures this time.

I came up with this idea a few weeks ago and finally got around to making them. I cut corners though because I'm cheap...haha. I used a package of pre-made sugar cookie dough. Next time I make these I definitely want to use my own sugar cookie recipe, but if you're in a pinch, this is a very easy and quite impressive recipe. One thing to note though is that one package of the pre-made dough only gets you about 24 cookies. My guess is that when making them from your own sugar cookie recipe, you may have to double the cinnamon sugar filling.

The dough was a bit soft and hard to work with, but with some patience, they really do turn out quite well. And the smell!!! I'm telling you, there is nothing better than the smell of cinnamon, I LOOOOVE it. These cookies are great for those times when you're really craving something decadent like a cinnamon roll but the last thing you want to do is eat a ginormous, icing smothered cinnamon roll. This is also a great recipe because you can just make yourself a few logs and keep them in the freezer until you need them, and then just slice and bake!

The icing was just a simple glaze that satisfies the must have for cinnamon rolls. I chose to only ice half of the cookies because when I made them this weekend, there was much discussion and pondering over which one tasted better. My boyfriend ended up making quite the experiment out of the whole situation, therefore eating just about all of them in one day. He still has yet to come to a conclusion. I'll keep you informed of that decision. 

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
1 package pre-made sugar cookie dough
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat oven according to the cookie dough directions.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 18 by 10 inches (just make sure it's a pretty good rectangle).
Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the dough and run the rolling pin over the dough to lightly press the filling into the cookies.
Starting from the long edge of the rectangle, gently roll up the dough and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour.
Slice into 3/4 to 1 inch slices and bake for 6-8 minutes.

1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients until they reach a "drizzlable" consistency. Adding more sugar or milk when needed. 
Drizzle over the cookies once they have cooled.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wedding Shower Treats Pt. 1

One of my close friends from high school is getting married this June and I am the maid of honor. Therefore, it is my job to host the wedding shower...which is this weekend. One of my many tasks within this job is to make the food for the 22 people invited (even though no one RSVP back to me...thanks guys). One of the sweets I chose to have are toasted almond shortbread cookies. I got the recipe from Barefoot Contessa but I substituted toasted almonds for the pecans. 

I recently discovered my absolute love for shortbread, it is the perfect cookie, not too sweet  with that hint of saltiness...delicious. This recipe is so easy to put together and I found the dough very nice with which to work. None of that evil, unmanageable dough that fights you the whole way.

Toasted Almond Shortbread Cookies
Courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahraheit
With an electric mixer, blend the butter and sugar until just combined. Add the extracts. In a seperate bowl, sift together to flour and salt and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the almonds and blend until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. 
Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into any shape you like. Bake for 15-20 minutes (I found that 15 minutes was almost too long, so keep an eye on them).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First post!!!

After much encouragement from Erin, a fellow OWU student and food blogger, I have finally started my very own food blog. Having just finished my junior year at OWU, I am home for a week before summer classes begin. And while I have my own kitchen at my apartment at school, I'm usually too cheap to buy ingredients to cook anything exciting. So most of my adventures in the kitchen take place when I am at my parent's house where I humbly take advantage of the abundance of food. 

Anyways, having taken on my summer habit of staying up all night, I decided to make muffins the other night at around 1 a.m. Using my trusty Joy Of Cooking, I found a basic muffin recipe to use as my blank canvas. Remembering the muffins my mom used to make from the box with that awesome streusel topping, I then found a recipe for streusel with which to top my muffins. With all my ducks in a row, I set out to make better-than-the-box streusel muffins. The recipe called for an optional 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg which I substituted with cinnamon. The added cinnamon gave the muffins a nice spicy touch. Next time I might also add the nutmeg.

Basic Muffins
Courtesy of Joy Of Cooking

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used cinnamon)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk or cream
2/3 cup sugar or packed brown sugar
4 to 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. 
-Have a standard 12-muffin pan greased or lined with paper cups.
-Whisk the first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl.
-Mix the remaining ingredients together in another bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir just until batter is moist, do not overmix. 
-Divide batter into muffin pan, liberally top with streusel (recipe below)

Streusel I
Courtesy of Joy Of Cooking

2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I left this out and just added a little extra flour for binding)
2/3 cup sugar or packed brown sugar, or a combination of the two
5 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

-Blend all ingredients together with a fork or in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs.
-Top muffins and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Overall I felt that this was a successful adventure, however, I felt the muffins were slightly bland. Next time I think I would double the streusel recipe and mix half of in into the muffin batter itself, and top with the remaining streusel.