Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

When I saw that the last recipe for December was a cheesecake recipe I was both excited and nervous. I've never made a cheesecake before, even though it is something that I've always wanted to try. So I was very happy to see this recipe, because I knew it would be the kick I needed to finally make this awesome treat.

I was so inspired by this recipe and how great it sounded that we decided to make one for each of our parents for Christmas, since my dad and Doug's mom are cheesecake fans. This was so good that all of our parents absolutely raved about it. This has a nice creamy texture and a light sweet taste to it. And it's really actually very easy to make (trust me, I've made it three times now counting the one I just made for us to keep). The most time consuming aspect of this is the baking and cooling periods. This recipe also freezes really well, when we made the cakes for our parents we kept them in the freezer for a couple of days to make sure they stayed fresh and they were perfect.

I think this is a great recipe for someone who is new to cheesecakes, it's simple to follow and tastes great. I will definitely be trying more cheesecakes in different flavors in the future, so stay tuned!

This recipe was picked by Anne of AnneStrawberry, check out this great blog.

This recipe is from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 235-237.

Monday, December 29, 2008

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today we got married! Doug loves me enough that he was willing to get married in the winter (which he hates) for me. I really like winter and the holiday season and thought it would be the perfect time for a wedding... and I think I was right. We had an amazing wedding with family and friends. It was a beautiful candle light ceremony followed by a lovely reception, it was a great night for everyone. So, since this is my blog and I want to celebrate, here are a few pictures (including our awesome looking cakes!).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Fell in to a Melting Ring of Tacos

I love looking at blogs to get ideas for new, interesting dinner items to break up our usual routines. So I get really happy when I discover that one of my cooking friends has a blog going. So I was doubly happy when I saw that my friend Maci had a food blog and that it was full of incredibly yummy looking dishes. This is my first attempt at making something off her blog, but I'm sure it won't be my last.

This taco ring was so easy to make but tasted so good. I used ground turkey, which I'm still pretty new to and I like having easy places to use it (but you could totally use ground beef instead). The one issue I had with this had absolutely nothing to do with the recipe: the stupid crescent rolls didn't want to roll out right, needless to say I will be sticking to Pillsbury from now on, saving a few cents was so not worth the headache the rolls gave me.

This is an incredibly easy and tasty meal that I totally recommend for a quick, weeknight meal. It will definitely be making more appearances in our dinner rotation. And check out Maci's blog, it's great!

Taco Ring

2 packages refrigerated, ready to bake crescent rolls (8 rolls each)
1 pound ground turkey
1 pack taco seasoning
lettuce, sour cream, salsa and cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F.
To make the filling: in a skillet, brown turkey and add taco seasoning. Follow directions on seasoning packet, using slightly less water than called for.
To make the crust: open one pack of crescent rolls and separate. Lay the crescent rolls in a circle around the pan, narrow side pointing out. You want to do this so that the angled side of the crescent roll is going the same direction around the pan (i.e. if your first roll has the angled side on the right, then continue laying the rolls so that the angled side is on the right each time). When you are finished, it will look like a sun.
Open the second pack of crescent rolls and separate. Lay one crescent roll, still with the narrow end pointing out, in between two of the previous crescent rolls. Line up the bottom of this roll with the bottom of the first layer of rolls (it will be on top of the first layer). You just want to make sure that the pointy end of this one is in the middle of two pointy ends of the previous ones. Continue until all the rolls are laid out.
Using a spoon, carefully add the meat to the wide part of the crescent rolls.
Once the meat has been added, fold the narrow end of the crescent rolls over the meat.
At this point, you can tear the narrow ends and tuck the top of the crescent roll into the bottom of the roll. Using the extra ends you've torn off, cover any open spots you may have between rolls.
Bake until the crescent rolls are a light golden brown.
Lightly sprinkle with cheese (just a small amount) and return to oven until cheese is melted and toasty.
Serve with all your favorite taco toppings.

Red Velvet Cookies

I love red velvet cake, so much so that it was my flavor choice for our wedding (Doug's was German Chocolate). I have never been brave enough to make one from scratch (I should add that to my list of Things I Want To Do In The Kitchen In 2009) but I usually have a mix in the cabinet. So when I volunteered to bring dessert to Doug's family's Christmas gathering and started thinking about what was in the cabinet I zoomed in on this cake mix. But I didn't want to just make a cake or even cupcakes, I've been making cookies all week and that's where my mind currently is. That's when I remembered the Funfetti Cookies I'd had once before. These cookies are incredibly easy, just cake mix, egg, and oil. So, after checking with my baking friends to make sure it was possible, I decided to make the Funfetti Cookies into Red Velvet Cookies.

I opted to not ice these because I think red velvet is pretty sweet on its own, but I did dust half of them with powdered sugar, which I think provided a nice extra kick of sweetness, but the ones I didn't dust were just as good. These seemed to be pretty popular and quite a few of them disappeared off the platter, and I have no problem eating the ones that are left. I will definitely be making these again.

Red Velvet Cookies
Based off the Funfetti Cookies recipe

1 (18.9-oz.) Package Red Velvet Cake Mix
1/3 Cup oil
2 Eggs

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.

Bake at 375°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

Frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in tightly covered container.

Holiday Sweets Exchange: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

The cooking board that I frequent (not sure that's a strong enough word!) had a holiday sweets recipe exchange spearheaded by one of the great members. I was really excited to do this again since I had a lot of fun making the divinity recipe I received last year. I was really, really happy with the recipe that I got this year. I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and peanut butter cookies, so this was a a perfect recipe for me!
I've actually already made these twice because we loved them so much. I made these this past Sunday night as a special treat for Doug and I amid all the holiday baking I was doing (since that was all for gifts and we couldn't eat it) and we loved them. Then I made another batch last night to take to Doug's parent's house today for our holiday celebration with Doug's grandma and family from Alabama. These were a total success! They were gone before we had even eaten dinner. Everyone who has tried these has absolutely loved them and I love them even more because they are so easy to make. This recipe calls for a peanut butter cookie mix, which I used because I was busy enough with holiday baking, but if you have a favorite peanut butter cookie recipe I see no reason why you couldn't use that. The one thing I didn't do to these was put the mini m&m's on top, because I kept forgetting to buy them, but I think they are perfect with out them, both in taste and appearance.

These are a great cookie and I'm really excited to have this recipe in my arsenal now, Doug says that they are his current favorite, so I will definitely be making these again.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Source: WC Holiday Sweets Exchange

1 package peanut butter cookie mix
1 bag reese’s peanut butter cups
Mini m&ms

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin wrappers.
Prepare dough according to the cookie mix.
Roll cookie dough into small balls and place in each individual wrapper.
Bake as directed on package.
Remove from oven and place 1 peanut butter cup in each cookie.
As chocolate melts on top add the mini m&ms.
Let cool in the pan.
I use a toothpick to help pull each cookie out.
Put a couple in the freezer to try them cold.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Meal That Made Me a Keeper

Well, maybe not really, but I'm pretty sure it helped. I made these incredible enchiladas for the first time more than two years ago and they are still one of our favorite meals. I love them because, though I've been trying to work on improving my eating habits, these don't have anything in them that I have ever avoided. Doug loves them because they are a delicious Mexican food item. We both love Mexican food but do not go out for it very often anymore, for one because it can get expensive and, two, because I can make these at home.

I found this original recipe on allrecipes.com and have tweaked it slightly to make it exactly what we like. I love this recipe because it is easy and fast to throw together, relatively inexpensive, and makes incredible leftovers the next day (we usually double this to ensure a few days' worth of leftovers.) So try these, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from allrecipes.com

4 cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese You can also use the Mexican cheese mix
1-2 Tablespoons Taco or Fajita Seasoning
1 (12 ounce) package flour tortillas
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa for eating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Shred the cooked (and seasoned) chicken breast meat, and place in a large bowl. Mix in sour cream and shredded shredded cheese (retain about a 1/2 cup for topping). Place a heaping spoonful of the mixture in each tortilla, roll up, and place rolled tortillas seam-side down in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and add remaining cheese on top.
Bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

I was a little curious when I saw this recipe. I had expected these to be like a thumbprint cookie, a buttery cookie with jam in the middle. Instead these have the jam mixed into the cookies. I decided to try strawberry preserves in this and it was really good. This is a nice, light cookie. Not necessarily one that screams Christmas time, but definitely good.
Heather of Randomosity and the Girl picked this recipe, check out this great blog. And don't forget to check out the TWD blog roll to see how everyone made these.
Buttery Jam Cookies from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 80.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Banana Bread

I love bananas in any form: bread, cake, muffins, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and even just as a plain ole piece of fruit. So when my grandma had some extra bananas that were about to be too ripe to eat and she said I could have them I knew exactly what I was going to make. This has been my go-to recipe for banana bread for a couple of years now. It's actually a recipe for muffins but turns into a really nice loaf of bread. It gets a great color to it and is nice and dense with a great flavor.

The reason why I haven't blogged this before is that I don't have the original source for it. I printed it off probably two years ago, long before I started blogging or even really knew about food blogging. Therefore I didn't bother to write down where I got the recipe, I'm pretty sure that it never dawned on me that I would need to know where this came from. But this recipe is so great that I finally decided that I need (yes need) to share it with you all. There are requests for banana bread fairly frequently on the cooking board I frequent and I finally decided that I wanted to have this recipe where I could easily direct people to it. So, if this is your recipe, or you think you know where it came from, please let me know so I can give you credit. Enjoy! Edit: we have a source! One of the great girls on the cooking board found this recipe for me on the blog dinner a deux. Thanks!

Banana Muffins/Bread
From this blog
Recipe Adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe

Makes 10-12 muffins or 1 Loaf

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.* Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly, but eat warm. *I pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD: Sugar Cookies

Ok, I'll admit it: I was really excited when I saw that sugar cookies were one of the recipes for this month. I love sugar cookies but don't make them often because Doug isn't a big fan and I hate to make something just for me. I've also been on the hunt for a great sugar cookie since I moved out of my parents house and thus away from my mom's cookbooks.

This recipe is really good, but I'll probably keep up the search. I ended up just making these as a drop cookie because I didn't have the time or patience to roll them out. These had a nice taste and texture and are really very yummy. I will definitely keep this recipe around to grab when I want something quick and easy, which this one definitely is.

This week's recipe was picked by Ulrike at Kuchenlatein. Check it out!

Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 146-147.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Sweet 100

When I saw this on Joelen's blog I realized I don't have as big of a sweet tooth as I thought!

How the Sweet 100 Works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and White Cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana Pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca “pearls”)
18. Dixie Cup
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavolva
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon/mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac Biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch Baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Creme Brulee
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire’s Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

I've only had 24 of these. I must work on this!