Monday, February 28, 2011

Peach Cobbler and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Has all this weird, warm weather got you wishing for summer?  Or at least, the desserts of summer?  Me too.  I decided that the best/quickest/easiest way to satisfy my cravings for summer-y desserts was to make my quick and easy Paula Deen peach cobbler.  I saw her make this on Food Network awhile back and all I thought was, "I can do that!"  It used frozen peaches and I already had some on hand at the time so I figured, "Why not?"  The original recipe was for a 3 quart baking dish (she used a 9x13 pan on the show) and I knew I didn't want that much so I halved the recipe and made it in an 8x8 pan.  The first time I made it, it had too much butter!  The outside of the cobbler was just saturated with butter so the next time I made it, I used half of the butter and it was juuuust right.  I added some pumpkin pie spice to my cobbler for that little extra spice.  Now, what goes with peach cobbler (or cobbler of any kind)?  Vanilla ice cream!  So I pulled out the ice cream maker I received as a wedding gift from my co-workers and whipped up a batch of my easy ice cream.  My vanilla ice cream is one of the best ways to show off my vanilla bean paste because you can see all the pretty vanilla bean flecks all throughout the ice cream!  Ryan says this is his number two favorite vanilla ice cream.  His #1 favorite?  Blue Bell - it's a TX ice cream.  I may be married to him but sometimes, a wife just can't beat out a childhood favorite.... but that won't keep me from trying ;)  (Okay, I admit... Blue Bell is really, really good.)

Peach Cobbler
(from Paula's Home Cooking tv show)

3/4 c. Self-Rising Flour (Market Pantry)
1/4 stick (or 2 Tbsp.) of Butter
1/4 c. Water
1 c. Sugar, divided
2 c. Peaches (fresh or frozen - if you're using frozen, do not thaw first!)
3/4 c. Milk (I use Skim)
3/4 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine peaches, 1/2 c. sugar, and water in a saucepan, mix well.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes (the mixture will not be thick).
Remove from heat.
Put the butter into your 8x8 pan and place in the oven to melt.
Mix remaining 1/2 c. sugar, flour, milk, and pumpkin pie spice with a whisk until smooth.
Pour mixture over melted butter.  DO NOT STIR!
Spoon peaches on top of the batter and pour in the syrup.  (Batter will rise to the top during baking.)
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (30 is perfect for me).
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Calories - 240 per serving (and that's serving 4!)

Vanilla Ice Cream
from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

2 c. Milk (I use Skim)
3/4 c. Sugar
1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
1 c. Whipping Cream

In a bowl, combine milk, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add whipping cream, stir.
Pour into ice cream maker and freeze ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions.

Calories - 190 (for 1/2 c.)

How yummy does that look??

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

I'm going to give you fair warning about this recipe - it's rich and the calorie count isn't pretty either.  Due to these reasons, the serving size is 1/12th of the recipe instead of that standard 1/8th or 1/10th (see below).  With that little disclaimer out of the way, I will tell you this cheesecake is delicious!!!!!  Honestly, it's so decadent, you'll be fighting with yourself to finish your small slice!  But it's well worth the effort.  Now, I shall try not to do what I'm about to do a lot.  I prefer to use ingredients that most people can find in their local grocery store because I always want people to not have a problem making these recipes.  However this is one recipe that will require a quick trip to your local Williams-Sonoma store (and my husband is asking, "There is a such a thing as a quick trip to W-S?"   He would be right.  I tend to spend lots of time {and money} there but I digress...) to pick up a jar of Dulce de Leche Milk Caramel made by Farmhouse La Salamandra (only $10 for one jar).  This is what it was made with both when I made it and when I tried it at the W-S store so I don't know how another jar of dulce de leche would work in this recipe.  If you have a dulce de leche caramel you like, by all means, use it!

The recipe originally called for this to be made in a 9-inch springform pan but it was easier to me just to grab a 10 serving graham cracker crust from the grocery store.  I cannot say this enough - you need the 2 extra serving graham cracker crust!  Do NOT use the regular 8 serving crust!!  The filling for this cheesecake is quite a lot and if you use the regular 8 serving crust, you filling will overflow and you'll have a big, big mess on your hands.  Next, plan ahead when making this recipe.  You'll need to bring your cream cheese to room temp and that usually requires around 2 hours of sitting out on your counter.  So if it's 5 and you're expecting guests at 6, forget about making this.  Make it the day before so it has plenty of time to chill and you'll be a-okay.  So now, the recipe!!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
(from Williams-Sonoma kitchens)

1 - 10 serving Graham Cracker Crust (*very* important that's it has those 2 extra servings!)
18 oz. Cream Cheese (Philly 1/3 Less Fat), room temp
3/4 c. Sour Cream (Daisy Light)
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. Sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
1 jar (16 oz.) Dulce de Leche (W-S also carries a Chocolate Dulce de Leche and this recipe would work great with either flavor)

Preheat the over to 300.
Using a mixer, mix the cream cheese until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the sour cream and sugar and blend until combined.
Add one egg at a time and then add the vanilla.  Remember to keep scraping the sides of the bowl while you're blending everything!
Reserve 1/3 c. of the dulce de leche in a small bowl.
Add the remainder of the dulce de leche and blend until smooth and is one uniform color.
Pour filling into your graham cracker crust.
Place cheesecake onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Now, what was the point of holding out that 1/3 c. of the caramel?  Topping!  Microwave the caramel for around 15 to 30 seconds and drizzle over the slices of cheesecake.

(Forgive the little air bubbles that formed.  Normally, I'd bang the pan on the counter but the crust was so full I didn't want to risk it!)

Calories - 466 per 1/12th slice (not including topping).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lady Brownies

Tuesday was Valentine's Day which meant CHOCOLATE!  But Tuesday had another meaning for me.  It was also my husband's birthday.  So now, it's story time.  Many people have heard the old adage - the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Well, it's an old adage for a reason - it works.  The very first time I met my husband, I made him my homemade spaghetti.  And, yes, it was awesome.  However, the first dessert I made for him didn't show up for another two months and it was these brownies (actually, I tell a lie - I think I had strawberry pie at the ready when he came the first time but the first time I made something from scratch at his apartment were these brownies).  Ryan found out very early on that Paula Deen was my favorite Food Network chef (still is).  So he wasn't surprised when I arrived at his apartment with my cookbook handy.  I had made these brownies previously for my best friend and they're some of my favorites!  Now, it wasn't until years later and Ryan and I had moved in together, when he said something to me that I found rather interesting... "You said these are Paula Deen brownies, right?"  I nodded.  To this he said, "So where's the butter?"  *cue confused look*  So I checked and rechecked the recipe.  Sure enough - no butter!  It must have been a misprint or something because Ryan and I found is so strange that Paula Deen (the woman who has FRIED butter y'all) would have a sweets recipe that did not include butter!  Misprint or no, these brownies work!  Give these butter-less brownies a shot and I promise, you won't miss the butter (I never did)!

Lady Brownies
(recipe from The Lady and Sons Savannah Cookbook)

2 c. Sugar
1 c. Canola Oil
4 eggs
6 Tbsp. Cocoa (Ghiradelli)
1 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
1 1/2 c. Self-Rising Flour (Market Pantry - Target brand {I'm out of KAF SR flour})
1 c. Chopped Nuts (optional - I'm not the biggest fan of nuts in brownies so I left them out of mine)

Preheat oven to 325.
Combine sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa, and vanilla bean paste in a bowl using a mixer!  (Please, please use a mixer - this batter is very heavy and it will give your arm a workout if you mix by hand.)
Add flour and mix.
Pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

Calories - 265 per serving (16 servings total)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy-Peasy Cheesecake...

... in an Oreo crust.  How can we go wrong?!

I. Love. Cheesecake.  Period.  I have a few good recipes for cheesecake and I have a couple of GREAT recipes for cheesecake.  This recipe is being filed under the GREAT recipe section.  I've never seen a recipe for cheesecake that 1- has so few ingredients and 2-is so easy to put together!  This is yet another KAF recipe but I promise the next one won't be. This recipe is a wonderful recipe to use if you have the vanilla bean paste (it's available at Williams-Sonoma stores).  When you mix everything together, you'll see all the lovely vanilla beans spread all throughout the cheesecake.  It looks as yummy as it tastes!

Easy Cheesecake

2 8oz. packages of Cream Cheese, room temp (Philly 1/3rd Less Fat)
2 Eggs
2/3 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
Oreo Crust (or the standard Graham Cracker Crust)

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl using a mixer on low-medium speed.
Put the crust onto a baking sheet and pour all the filling into the crust.
Put cheesecake into the oven and bake for 33-35 minutes.
Set the cheesecake on a rack to cool and once it's completely cooled, transfer it to the fridge until you're ready to eat it.

Note:  The center will not look set!  The center will set as the cheesecake cools.

Calories in 1/8 of the cheesecake - 148 (filling only), 248 (filling and Oreo crust)

(forgive the missing piece... I couldn't wait for it to cool before I tried it!)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Belgian Yeast Waffles

One of the things that I enjoy doing is whipping up a good breakfast for my husband, Ryan.  I'm a pet sitter so during the summer, a lot of times I'm not able to make a good, big breakfast for him.  But I was going through the Baking Banter Blog on King Arthur Flour's website (I told you - I'm a KAF junkie!) and I found this recipe for Belgian Waffles with a batter you prepare THE NIGHT BEFORE!  The angels sang when I read that.  My biggest issue with Belgian waffles has always been that you have to either whip egg whites and fold them in or you have to wait 30 minutes for the batter to settle.  So I was determined to try these waffles and they turned out so good that I just had to share it with everyone!  The other good thing about this batter?  If you have leftovers, you can throw them in the freezer to be saved for another morning!  With this recipe, I know I'll always be able to prepare a good breakfast for him that doesn't take a lot of time.  So, to the recipe!

Belgian-Style Yeast Waffles

1 1/2 c. Lukewarm Water or Milk (yes, this is important - yeast loves warmth!)
6 Tbsp. Butter, melted (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
2 or 3 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup (Archer Farms)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
2 Eggs
2 c. All Purpose Flour (King Arthur Flour)
1 1/2 tsp. Instant Yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, leaving plenty of room for expansion while the yeast works its magic!
Stir - it's okay if it's lumpy.  The batter doesn't have to be smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter rest at room temp. for 1 hour.  The mixture will start to bubble.
You can cook the waffles now if you want too or you can put the mixture in the fridge to sit overnight.
Preheat your waffle iron.  Don't have a Belgian Waffle Iron?  No worries - this makes great regular waffles too!
Spray the iron with non-stick spray and pour around 3/4 c. of batter into the iron.
Close the lid and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the baking time (usually around 7 minutes for a Belgian Waffle Iron).
Serve immediately!

Yields 4 waffles.

If you're freezing these, reheat them in a 200 degree oven.

Calories - 430 per waffle (using water)

Cake-Pan Cupcakes

Everyone needs a go-to recipe for chocolate cake.  This is mine!  The original recipe is actually called Cake-Pan Cake but I prefer these as cupcakes.  The cake supposed to be mixed directly in the cake pan itself and put in the oven.  Great - no clean up!  Well, except that if you make this in the cake pan, it sticks - a lot.  Not that that issue cannot be remedied by a bit of icing or ice cream on the dish to cover up your mistake.  To avoid this problem, I mix everything in a bowl and rely on the wonders of cooking spray to keep everything from sticking.  All I can find about this recipe is it was a wartime cake.  Now, I'm guessing WWII but I'm not certain but we'll keep calm and carry on with the recipe.

Cake-Pan Cake Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour (King Arthur Flour)
1 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Cocoa (Ghiradelli)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vanilla (Neilson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
1/3 c. Canola Oil (or Vegetable Oil)
1 c. Water (you could also use coffee or milk)

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
Make 3 small indentations in the mixture.
Pour vanilla into one hole, vinegar into another, and the oil in the last hole.
Pour the water/coffee/milk directly over the ingredients.
Combine until well blended.
Pour into either an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or standard 12 cup muffin tin that's been sprayed with cooking spray.  (Note:  If you're using an 8-inch cake pan, make sure it's at least 2" deep.)
Bake for 30-35 minutes (regardless of whether you're baking the cake or cupcakes).

This cake is great either by itself with some ice cream or with some icing!

Calories - 130 per cupcake (without icing)

Note:  If you're like me, you enjoy eating the cake batter just as much as you enjoy the finished product.  I would not recommend eating this batter.  The vinegar causes the batter to have a strange taste but I can promise you that after the baking is finished, this will be your go-to cupcake!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Scones

For my opening recipe, we'll start off with Cinnamon Chip Scones....

I've had an obsession with cinnamon lately.  Ever since I had the cinnamon chip bread at Great Harvest Bread in Raleigh, I've been all about cinnamon!  However, I was always unable to find cinnamon chips!  King Arthur Flour has them but I wasn't willing to pay shipping unless I was certain I could find them locally.  Last Christmas, Harris Teeter granted my wish!  I bought three bags of cinnamon chips and I wish I had purchased more!  I'm already over halfway through the three bags!  Cinnamon chips have become one of my most favorite things to use so next year, when HT has them again, I may just buy a big box of them!  So next Christmas, when you see Hershey's Cinnamon Chips, buy a bag - you'll fall in love with them!

Cinnamon Chip Scones
(from America's Bed and Breakfast Cookbook)

2 cups All Purpose Flour (King Arthur AP Flour)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1 stick of Butter (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) - you can use butter right out of the fridge for this!
1 c. Cinnamon Chips (Hershey's)
1 Egg, separated
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Neilson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
3/4 c. Buttermilk
1 packet of Sugar in the Raw (yes, it's an odd "measurement" but work with me)

Preheat over to 375.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles course meal.  (If you don't have a pastry blender, you can easily use two knives, which is what I use, to cut in the butter.)
In another bowl, combine the egg yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk. 
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a 10-in. circle (don't use a rolling pin - use your hands.  Try not to handle the dough too much because you don't want to melt the butter!).
Cut into wedges (I made 8 wedges but the recipes calls for 12).
Place scones onto an ungreased baking sheet or parchment paper (as I've done).
Lightly beat the egg white and brush the tops of the scones.
Lightly dust the tops of the scones with the packet of Sugar in the Raw (one packet is the perfect amount for these scones!).
Bake 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Calories - 269 per scone for 12 scones or 404 if you do 8 scones, as I've done.