Sunday, March 1, 2015

English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones


First day of March and we're surrounded by snow and ice.

Church was cancelled due to hazardous driving conditions, and the children spend the morning doing one of two things: the older three were sledding on the ice-covered snow in our yard, while the little two were "swimming" in my bathtub. Ha!

We were supposed to have a fellowship meal after church today, with the theme being "Breakfast/Brunch". I was planning on trying a new scone recipe, one for which my sister Anna has received many rave reviews and frequent requests from her friends.

Well, since I had been thinking about these scones all week and quite anxious to try them, I decided a trial run must be necessary. After all, I might need a little practice to get them perfect before next week. (Read: I'll use any excuse I can think of to make scones.)

While most scones use cream or milk as the liquid binder, these scones are particularly unique with the use of orange juice instead. I'm sure fresh squeezed OJ would be absolutely fabulous, but I just used regular and they were still wonderful. You could even use a little orange zest for an extra burst of flavor if you wanted.

We absolutely adored these scones. Sweet, tender, almost melt-in-your mouth texture. Nothing like the dry, crumbly kind you often get with purchased scones. The hint of orange was delightful with the little chunks of chocolate scattered throughout each bite.

While oftentimes I make a glaze for scones, and I did contemplate making a simple one of powdered sugar and OJ for these, I ultimately decided to leave them plain (and save a few calories) and we didn't miss the glaze at all.

Note: I fully realize most people have no need for 24 scones. This recipe can be easily halved if you desire. However, you might be surprised at just how quickly these disappear. And you could always freeze the leftovers to pull out and warm for a quick breakfast treat. 

English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Yield: 24 scones (recipe can easily be halved)

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used half white whole wheat)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons salted butter, chilled and cubed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, miniature chips, or chunks - or combination
1 1/2 cups orange juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or silicone baking mats

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender or large fork to cut in the butter. I recommend using a large grater to grate the butter into the flour mixture , which makes cutting it in much faster and easier.)

Remove from food processor bowl and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in chocolate chips and mix in orange juice to form a dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 3 sections and pat each one into a large circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 wedges and transfer onto the baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool.


Source: Adapted from Allrecipes

Monday, February 9, 2015

Brocomoli Dip - SRC



During my growing-up years, my family never ate avocados. I don't think I even knew what one was, if you want to know the truth.
But somewhere in my adult years, I had my first taste of guacamole and I loved it.  It wasn't something I had often, but when I did, it was always a treat.

Several years ago, however, I developed some sort of sensitivity to avocados. One day after eating half of one for lunch, I had horrible stomach cramps and nausea for the next 8 hours. Didn't associate it with the avocado, just thought it was some sort of bug I picked up.
A few weeks later, the exact same thing happened. I realized the avocado connection and made the sad decision to eliminate them from my diet.

One time 2 years ago, I had a small bit of guacamole with a Mexican meal, like just a tablespoon or two, thinking that such a small amount surely wouldn't bother me. Same thing happened. Stomach cramps and nausea for 7-8 hours. Guacamole is definitely out of the picture for me. Boo.

So when I saw a recipe for Brocomoli on my assigned Secret Recipe Club blog for the month, I just had to try it.

I had the pleasure of browsing around Learning Patience this month, where Corey blogs about running and fitness, dealing with Type 1 diabetes, world travel, and of course, lots of food!

I would love to try her Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Romaine Veggie Salad, and I actually have the ingredients waiting in the fridge to make this luscious Mascarpone Cheesecake with Almond Crust.

But the Brocomoli was too tempting. I whipped it up in about 15 minutes and dove in. It's delicious!
Okay, so the kids didn't go crazy for it, but Grant and I declared it a real winner. Grant was skeptical at first, and although he won't replace guacamole in HIS diet for this dip, he was really impressed at how tasty it is and especially happy that I can have it too. :)

We ate it with crackers and corn chips, and Corey suggested using it as a spread for sandwiches too, which I'm sure would be great.

Brocomoli Dip
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets (use organic if possible)
juice of half a small lemon (I forgot to buy a lemon, used 1 T. bottled lemon juice)
zest of half a lemon
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small bunch of green onions, diced
1 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp. sumac (optional - I didn't use)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Steam broccoli until tender.
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend thoroughly.
Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Note: Can be served hot or cold. Serve with crackers, chips, pita bread, as a spread for sandwiches, etc. 

Source: Learning Patience 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Peppermint Mocha Cookies



Personal note first:

Our Christmas was lovely and we've been particularly blessed with good health this winter - for which I am exceedingly grateful.  I don't know how many of our friends have suffered through the flu. We do not get flu shots...but we do take lots of Vitamin D and C, try to eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and take probiotics.

My newest health kick is water kefir. I bought some grains from someone at our Azure Standard drop-off and have been brewing it ever since. We flavor it with fruit juice and call it homemade soda. :) The kids and I drink some every day and I'm convinced it's helping us stay healthy. What an inexpensive way to get probiotics!

Next step is milk kefir. I'm a little hesitant about it, since I've heard it's runnier and more tart than plain yogurt, which none of us like to begin with....but I guess you can make smoothies and not notice the taste too much. I'm still deliberating on that one.

So I'm a little late in posting....but I made these scrumptious cookies for an exchange before Christmas and just fell in love with them.

Featuring a soft and chewy texture, a slight coffee flavor accentuating the chocolate, and a sweet peppermint kick in each bite, this is a fabulous recipe for Christmas, Valentine's, or anytime you're craving a sweet treat.

Too bad they don't have probiotics too.....or I'd make them a lot more often! :)

Peppermint Mocha Cookies 
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun
Yield: about 30 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups peppermint baking chips, plus more for garnish if desired
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon sheets

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, and then the vanilla and peppermint extracts.

In a separate medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together. The coffee may not go through the sifter - if so, just dump in with the flour.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Mix in the peppermint baking chips and chocolate chunks.

Using a medium cookie scoop, portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Press a few peppermint baking chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of each cookie ball for a garnish if desired.  Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set.
The centers may look underdone - but don't overbake! Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then remove the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. These cookies will stay chewy for at least 3 days after baking.

Source: adapted slightly from Tracey's Culinary Adventures 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cappuccino Fudge


The countdown to Christmas is on for REAL at my house, y'all.

Every day I'm hearing kids saying things like "5 days and a wake-up!"

The pressure for last minute shopping is looming over my head. Primarily what we're lacking is the kids' gifts for each other. I had them draw names so they would only be buying something for one sibling, and so far, only the two little ones have their gifts bought.

 Because I bought them during our grocery trip. Ha.

I had every good intention of taking kids shopping yesterday, but the day just got too busy. I decided it would be the best evening to deliver goody trays to our neighbors, so I spending my spare hours of the day, aside from the five hours we spent at Corban's two basketball games, lunch, and some time with my parents, making treats like this fudge, Peanut Brittle, and Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles (which, for the record, I ended up modifying significantly because the original dough just wasn't very good).  I already had a double batch of my favorites, Hint of Berry Bon Bons, in the fridge, which I made on Thursday.

Ok, so this fudge. Wowzer!

Now admittedly, I've never met a fudge I didn't like. I love the different flavors, add-ins, whatever.
So when I saw this version, a fairly traditional recipe flavored with coffee or espresso powder, I was just dying to try it.

It did not disappoint.

Like any cooked fudge (assuming its cooked properly), it has a dreamy, creamy, melt in your mouth texture. No grittiness, no stickiness, just pure, simple smoothness.

I used instant coffee granules, a little more than originally asked for, and I found the coffee flavor to be really complementary to the chocolate. Not too overpowering, but certainly present.

There is an interesting addition of cinnamon, which I find mostly interesting because I can't taste it. Maybe its adding some complexity to the fudge that I would miss if it wasn't there????
I dunno. Well anyways, I won't omit it, because it's not like it costs much to toss in there.

So if you're looking for a simple, yet definitely different version of fudge to make this year, I highly recommend this one. I'm going to have to use some serious restraint to make sure we have some leftover pieces to share with my family on Christmas!

Cappuccino Fudge
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

7 (oz) jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Line an 8" square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the bottom with butter and set aside.
In a 2 qt. saucepan, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, cream, butter, coffee granules, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth.

Pour immediately into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Place on cutting board and cut into 64 1-inch squares.

Source: Adapted slightly from Annie's Eats

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies



It's Cookie Season! 

I'm sure you've seen more cookies than you know what to do with on Pinterest and everywhere else....but I figured I might as well contribute to the madness and post a couple of recent cookie recipes I've tried and had great success with. 

If you love chocolate and mint, these beauties will be an instant winner in your book. 
And if you don't love chocolate and mint, these might just make you a convert. 

I made these for a cookie exchange a couple of weeks ago and they were a smashing hit. With a soft, brownie-like cookie, a creamy chocolate mint frosting, and some festive sprinkles on top, they're hard to resist. 

My kids were quite unhappy with me for taking nearly the entire batch with me and would be delighted for me to make another round. Fortunately, since I found the Andes mints on sale, I bought enough for two batches, so another one may be appearing at our house soon. :) 

Marissa (9) is exceedingly interested in baking these days and thought it was great fun to help make these, especially the part with the mints and sprinkles. 

Note: Be sure to plan ahead, since the dough does require some chilling time. 

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun
Yield: 3-4 dozen depending on how big you make them

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 (4.5 oz) pages Andes mints


In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, water, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Pour mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer and allow to cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda. 

Using the paddle attachment on the mixer, blend in the eggs one at a time with the chocolate mixture. Add vanilla and stir gently. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 

Cover and refrigerate dough for at least one hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Scoop dough out by rounded tablespoons and shape into balls. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon liners 2 inches apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies are slightly crackled. Allow to cool for 1 minute (meanwhile, unwrap chocolates) then add 1 Andes mint to the top of each cookie. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then spread over the top the cookie gently with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. 
Decorate with sprinkles if desired. 
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow chocolate to set. You can speed up that process by refrigerating the cookies for a few minutes if necessary. 
Store in an airtight container.

Source: adapted slightly from Allrecipes


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pecan Pie Squares


For as long as I can remember, pecan pie has been one of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts. My grandma always made it for those two holidays and it was always served with heaps of generously sweetened homemade whipped cream.

Since then, I've tried some variations over the years. Caramel pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, and pumpkin pecan pie to name a few. And honestly, I haven't met one yet that I didn't like.

But this year for Thanksgiving, since we had a crowd of 24 people meeting up at my parents' home, 13 of which are the grandkids, I figured a traditional pie wouldn't be the best option. They're a little tricky to cut, kids would likely end up with more than they wanted and that precious pie might be wasted, plus a lot of people just want a small taste and not necessarily the commitment of a whole piece of pie.

These were a perfect solution. The recipe makes a 13 x 9" pan, so there's plenty to go around when you cut little squares. Dessert-seekers could grab one to sample and still have room on their plate (and in their stomach) to have some of the other dessert options.

Now, these pecan pie squares aren't exactly like pecan pie. They have more of a toffee, chewy texture on a shortbread crust, which is reminiscent of pecan pie in flavor but very distinctly different.

I thought some of us die-hard pecan pie fans would feel deprived of our tradition - but you know what? I didn't hear a single complaint. What I did hear was lots of compliments and requests for more.

Personally, I couldn't keep out of them. I was astonished at how addictive they were - and even non-pecan pie eaters enjoyed them. They're not messy, easily portable, small portions, and absolutely scrumptious.

I'm making them again for Christmas. Can't WAIT!!

Pecan Pie Squares
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Crust:
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping:
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans (chop first, then measure)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13 x 9" pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides. 
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, make crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly. 
  3. Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and vanilla.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the pecan filling on top, spreading to cover surface completely. 
  6. Return pan to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. 
  7. Remove the pan and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. 
  8. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut into squares. 
Store in a sealed container at room temperature. Bars will remain delicious for several days.  


Source: adapted slightly from Just a Taste

Monday, December 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Ganache - SRC


Most people find a pan of brownies pretty irresistible, right?

How about if you cover the brownies with a layer of peanut butter topping?  Oh, don't stop there, let's add a layer of whipped ganache frosting!!

This pan of decadence got 2 big thumbs up from my crew of eaters. I never saw them eat their soup so fast, knowing this was waiting for dessert.

The recipe came from my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, It's Yummi, where Chef Becca uses her culinary expertise to create and share from-scratch, mainly healthy recipes. She has a wealth of amazing recipes, like Key Lime Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust , Slow Cooker BBQ Baked Beans and one that Grant would cheer for  - Double Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Tart. 

(I need to ask for a tart pan for Christmas. Seriously, how have I baked for so long without one?)

All that to say, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing her blog and have found plenty of pin-worthy recipes to add to my list of things to try.

These brownies just sounded too good though. And they did not disappoint. I ended up halving her ganache layer ingredients - I mean, I LOVE ganache, but I figured we could cut the calories a little bit without sacrificing the flavor.

The peanut butter layer, which is just a package of peanut butter chips melted with some butter, hardened up more than I was expecting and I wondered if it would matter - turned out it added a nice texture variation and great flavor. Just don't expect it to be light and fluffy like a peanut butter buttercream frosting would be.

It still cuts fine with a sharp knife at room temperature, but I imagine if you chilled the brownies in the fridge, they would be harder to cut neatly.

These brownies were a huge hit and would be a great gift for that chocolate-peanut butter fan in your life.

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Yield: 9"square pan of brownies

Brownie Layer:
5 oz (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp) salted butter, room temperature
3.5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
3.5 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 oz (2/3 cup) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Peanut Butter Layer:
10 oz (1 bag) Reese's peanut butter chips
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter

Ganache Frosting:
5 ounces chocolate, finely chopped (I used mostly semi-sweet and some white chocolate)
4 ounces heavy cream

For the Brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line an 8 or 9" square baking pan with foil, extending up the sides by 2 inches. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Melt butter and chocolates in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next.
  4. Continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add flour and baking powder and stir just until incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with wet crumbs - about 20-25 minutes.
  6. When the brownies have about 5 minutes left to bake, make the peanut butter filling.
For the Peanut Butter Layer:
  1. Place the peanut butter chips and butter into a microwaveable glass bowl. Heat at medium power for 1 minute. Stir and continue to heat on medium power in 30 second intervals until the mixture is melted and glossy in appearance.
  2. When the brownies come out of the oven, pour peanut butter mixture over the top of the warm brownies. Spread evenly over the top. Cool brownies completely.
For the Ganache: 
  1. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a simmer (do not boil). Pour cream over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled, whisking occasionally.
  3. After ganache has chilled, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Spread on top of brownies.


Source: adapted slightly from It's Yummi

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