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Preview: ~ Deborah's Culinary Confections ~

~ Deborah's Culinary Confections ~





Updated: 2017-10-17T06:07:55.856-07:00

 



Coconut Macaroon Brownies

2011-03-01T10:43:33.261-08:00

This one is for my girl Emily, or "Work Emily" as I refer to her when I mention her to my husband, because I know quite a few Emilys.  She's leaving the office to start a new adventure in another department and I wanted to give her a sweet send off.  We share a love for all things coconut and have in-depth discussions about macaroons, so I thought it might be yummy to marry the flavors of a macaroon with a brownie.  The base of this is a brownie (I happened to use a box mix because I was short on time - you can use whatever mix you like, or make yours from scratch) topped with a layer of coconut cream cheese.  It was definitely rich, and I thought the cream cheese layer could have maybe used a little coconut extract for a boost of flavor, but all in all I thought it turned out pretty darn good!  Farewell Work Emily, lots of luck to you!  :)


COCONUT MACAROON BROWNIES


INGREDIENTS:
For brownie layer:
1 box Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownie mix
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 egg

For coconut layer:
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
12 oz sweetened flaked coconut, 1/4 cup reserved for topping

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl combine brownie mix, water, oil and eggs.  Stir until just combined.  Spoon into baking dish and spread evenly across the bottom.

3. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar with a hand held mixer until fluffy and well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  Place in large dollops as evenly as possible on top of brownie layer.  Spread carefully with a knife until coconut layer is even and covers brownie layer.  Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup reserved coconut flakes.

3.  Bake until coconut layer has set and top is just starting to brown, about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting into squares.




Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

2010-08-10T00:35:08.727-07:00

I have a problem.  I can't seem to find a good homemade chocolate frosting recipe.  The recipes I've tried have either been not chocolately enough, or taste too much like powdered cocoa, or just aren't RIGHT for whatever reason.  While looking for a frosting recipe for my daughter's 2nd birthday party I stumbled across a blog called Glorious Treats and saw her recipe for chocolate cream cheese frosting here.  This is a great, great recipe... it's rich and chocolately, with a little tartness from the cream cheese, and just the right sweetness.  It pipes beautifully (although my cupcakes weren't nearly as pretty as the ones from Glorious Treats - hers are downright perfect!).  I've also made the vanilla cream cheese frosting as well and it's great too!  While I'll keep looking for the perfect plain chocolate frosting recipe, this will definitely be my go-to for chocolate cream cheese frosting!  :)

CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
INGREDIENTS:
1 stick butter, softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
Milk, as needed


DIRECTIONS:

1.  Beat butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until well combined.  Beat in vanilla extract.  Add cocoa powder and beat until combined.

2.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until combined.  If necessary, add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.  Beat frosting until light and fluffy, about one minute.



Caprese Skewers

2010-08-10T00:10:54.622-07:00

Wow, it's been a long time since I've added anything to my little cooking blog!  Work and life with a 2-year-old takes up a lot of your time I guess.  I thought I'd start up my blog again with a great summertime appetizer: caprese skewers!  I made these for a friend's birthday party and they were an easy, yummy nibble that was perfect on a warm summer day.  I wanted just a small bite so I used small craft sticks for skewering (I found these at Joann's) with two tomatoes and one mozzarella ball per skewer.  I've seen caprese skewers that use whole basil leaves but I wasn't sure if the party guests, many of them children, would be up for that much basil, so I decided to slice the basil into ribbons and garnish the skewers that way.  These were so pretty arranged on the serving platter! 

CAPRESE SKEWERS
INGREDIENTS:
1 (8 oz) container fresh mozzarella balls
1 (8 oz) container cherry/grape tomatoes
1 bunch basil leaves, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. Skewer mozzarella & tomatoes, alternating ingredients to fit your skewers.  Arrange skewers on serving platter and sprinkle evenly with sliced basil.

2.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Garnish platter with whole basil leaves if desired.



Black & Blue Crockpot Chicken

2009-11-25T13:38:25.944-08:00

This was kind of a "oh crap, what do I make for dinner?" moment. I had chicken, and that was about it. Scrounging through the fridge I saw that we had a bunch of frozen blueberries left from this summer and I thought, "Chicken? Blueberries? Could it be??". This recipe is a combo of a bunch of different recipes for blueberry chicken I found on-line (yes, they have recipes for blueberry chicken on-line. LOTS of them!). Jeremy and I were a bit suspicious but we ended up liking it. It is fruity with the blueberries and blackberry preserves, so if you're not into meat/fruit combos you probably wouldn't like this, but the fruit mellows out quite a bit during cooking, and the vinegar and mustard add a little tang to it. I used spicy brown mustard because that's what we had, but you could use Dijon as well. We served this with rice and both agreed it needed another vegetable with it, maybe onion or green beans, I'm not sure. And although I tried to take a pretty picture of the dish, let's face it, crockpot food just isn't pretty. ;)


BLACK & BLUE CROCKPOT CHICKEN(image)
INGREDIENTS:
2-4 chicken breasts
1/3 cup blackberry preserves
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water


DIRECTIONS:

1. Place chicken breasts in crockpot. Combine blackberry preserves, rice vinegar and mustard. Stir in blueberries and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken is done and tender.
2. About 30 minutes before serving, combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then stir cornstarch mixture into crockpot liquid to thicken the sauce. Cover until serving. Serve over rice.



Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies

2009-09-18T11:02:09.392-07:00

Impulse items at the store (you know that odd assortment of goodies that line the checkout stands?) don't usually get to me. But I was doing some grocery shopping and they had these packages of Better Crocker cookie mixes as their item of the week at Albertsons - just add water and a little oil and bake, for a $1 each! I figured I'd give them a try, it might be nice to have on hand during a cookie emergency, so I bought a couple peanut butter cookie mixes. I got home and thought, "Well I can't just make cookies with these, what else can I do?" and decided to use them in a brownie recipe. This is my current favorite brownie recipe (rich, fudgey, deep chocolate flavor) on a smaller scale to fit an 8x8" pan, with big swirls of peanut butter cookie dough throughout. I added a little extra peanut butter to the cookie dough mix after I tasted a bit before baking and thought they weren't peanut butter-y enough. These are amazing - Jeremy was supposed to take them to work and promptly declared they would be going NOWHERE, and he planned to spend the next two and a half days eating them (I'm not sure how he calculated that timeframe, but he seemed very scientific about it). I literally had to hide these from myself (yes, I know where they are since I hid them, but having them out of sight is a good thing). They're very decadent, rich, and downright evil. Definitely do not overbake - I started checking them around 30 minutes and guesstimated on the overall cooking time. It's better to have them gooey and falling apart than overbaked, but isn't that true with most things? :)


PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH BROWNIES

(image)
INGREDIENTS:
For brownies:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2oz semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped

For peanut butter cookie dough swirl:
1 (8.6oz) package Betty Crocker Peanut butter cookie mix (snack size pouch)
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons peanut butter


DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8x8" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt and beat until just combined. Fold in chopped chocolate. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. In a medium bowl beat together cookie dough mix, water and oil until combined. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Drop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough mix onto brownie batter. Run a knife through both mixtures to slightly swirl.

4. Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean - about 40 minutes. Cool before cutting into bars and serving.




Roasted Squash and Bacon Pasta

2009-09-17T11:36:29.583-07:00

Ahhh, it's time for Fall! There's a chill in the air, cute sweaters and coats to buy, and warm comforting food to cook! I roasted a turkey breast for dinner and wanted to use an acorn squash I had for the side dish. Usually I just roast them with a little butter & cinnamon, but I wanted something a little different. This pasta dish was adapted from this recipe from Cooking Light. I made a few changes: acorn squash instead of butternut, onion instead of shallot, and I ended up using my own base for the white sauce. I tried the original version and it looked like wallpaper paste, so instead I made the base of a classic Bechamel sauce before adding the cheese. You might not think these ingredients would go together - squash and cheese?!? But it was really good! It was a nice blend of sweet from the squash and caramelized onions, smokey from the bacon, and creamy from the cheese sauce. Jeremy quite literally licked his plate clean (he was kidding around, but he really did like it!) and even our little girl ate a good amount for dinner. I'll definitely make this again during the chilly months ahead!

ROASTED SQUASH AND BACON PASTA
(image)

INGREDIENTS:
6 slices bacon, diced
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1 acorn squash peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, and roasted
8 oz rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 oz provolone cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a medium sized casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, reserving 1/2 teaspoons dripping in pan. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelized. Combine roasted squash, bacon, onions, and cooked pasta and set aside.

3. In a sauce pan, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine - cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, but do not brown. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly to remove lumps and heat until sauce begins to thicken. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in provolone and Parmesan cheese, cook until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Pour over pasta mixture.

3. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle top with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes until top begins to slightly brown.



Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2009-09-17T11:36:43.031-07:00

I made a batch of these to take up to my sister, who just gave birth to twins! Sometimes as a new mom you have to eat whatever is handy - I remember after Mikayla was born I basically lived off toasted english muffins for weeks. And sometimes, when you're sleep deprived and stressed and feeling frumpy, a cookie just makes everything better. ;) These cookies were adapted from this recipe from the Hershey website. I stayed close to the original recipe except I omitted the peanut butter chips (they were pricey, I couldn't justify paying almost $5 for a bag!) and added the equivalent amount of peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's. I thought they were pretty good, but I have come to the conclusion that I'm not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. They just never taste "peanut butter-y" enough to me, and the texture always seems a little off. Maybe I haven't found the right recipe though? But, lots of my friends and family members love peanut butter cookies, so I'll keep baking them! :)

DOUBLE PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and peanut butter until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. Drop by rounded teaspoons on baking sheets and bake for 10-14 minutes or light golden brown around the edges. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.



Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

2009-07-06T09:23:18.140-07:00

I've mentioned it before, my husband really loves blueberries. Ridiculously loves them! Fresh blueberries are usually so expensive though that I rarely cook with them, but now that they're coming into season they're a lot more affordable! I bought a big container of blueberries at the store and had intended to make a blueberry cheesecake but knew I wouldn't have the time over the holiday weekend, so I searched for a recipe with a similar taste but a lot less prep/cooking time. This is a recipe for a no bake Blueberry Cream Cheese pie that I adapted from this recipe from Allrecipes.com. It's good, really good. My husband ate one slice then immediately went back for another one. The cream cheese layer has the flavor of a cheesecake but a more fluffy, mousse-like texture, and the blueberry layer has the perfect amount of sweetness with a nice hint of lemon at the end. I don't think this pie is going to last long in our fridge, luckily it will be easy to make another one! :)

BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE PIE
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) tub Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread evenly into graham cracker shell and set in refrigerator to chill.

2. In a large saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth; stir in blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Allow blueberries to cool, then spread over cream cheese pie layer. Refrigerate until serving.



Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2009-06-02T20:55:28.809-07:00

Tuesdays are my Saturdays, so to speak. I work nights on weekends and part of the week, with Sundays and Mondays being my really late nights (I work til 2am on those nights -yuck!). By Tuesday, I'm done. Tired, missing my family, and in the mood to relax. What better way to start my "weekend" than to bake some goodies, huh? These cookies were adapted from this recipe on Allrecipes.com. After reading the reviews I made a lot of changes, including adding chocolate chips. Tasting the cookies today, I like them well enough. I'm not sure I'm sold on the oatmeal in them though, but I've have found that in general I tend to like things baked with peanut butter a lot better the next day, after the flavors meld and intensify a bit. We'll see if they go from good to great tomorrow!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla extract. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir gradually into the butter mixture. Mix in the oats until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake for 8-12 minutes until cookies are just browned around the edges - do not over-bake. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.


P.S. I only actually baked a few of these cookies today. The rest I scooped out onto a baking sheet and froze them, then put them in freezer bags to store. So later on if we need a quick cookie fix, it's 10 minutes to fresh cookies! :) I think I might start doing that with all the cookies I make. Aren't the cookie batter scoops cute, all lined up like little soldiers? ;)

(image)




Martha Stewart's Snickerdoodles

2009-05-26T13:57:21.895-07:00

I heard on TV that the most popular cookie among adults, according to the Mrs. Field's company, is the snickerdoodle. Apparently because it's a childhood favorite. My mom wasn't much of a baker so I never really had snickerdoodles during my childhood, so I didn't really get to appreciate the simple splendor that is the snickerdoodle until later in life. Jeremy LOVES snickerdoodles and gets them a lot at coffee stands, and after stealing bites of his cookies I've come to love them too.

This recipe was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe I found on Brianna's food blog Oishii. I didn't change much, just added vanilla and reduced the cooking time a tad - I like my snickerdoodles a tiny bit underbaked. These were wonderful, nicely sweet and a great soft, chewy texture. I'm calling these "Martha Stewart" snickerdoodles because Martha makes everything feel fancier. ;)

MARTHA STEWART'S SNICKERDOODLES
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For coating:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat in flour mixture until combined. In a small bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon for coating. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar coating. Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

3. Bake until puffed and just lightly golden, about 11 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.



Peanut Butter Bliss Bars

2009-05-18T16:16:42.512-07:00

I was in the mood to bake something, and found a random can of sweetened condensed milk in our pantry. I had seen a post for peanut butter bars on BakingBlonde's blog that used sweetened condensed milk, and since I pretty much had the rest of the ingredients already (except the peanut butter cups, although given Jeremy's love for peanut butter cups I'm surprised we didn't have those on hand as well) I decided to give it a try. I looked around online at different peanut butter bar recipes and came up with this, a combination of this recipe from About.com and the recipe from BakingBlonde's blog.

These were good, very gooey and sweet. I cut them into small squares, left a few for the hubby and am taking the rest to work - they're too dangerous to keep at home. They reminded me a lot of a 7 Layer Bar. I actually think they could have used a little more texture to them - maybe some coconut, or chopped peanuts for a little crunch. They're so gooey they can be a bit hard to eat so I'll probably chill them before serving - I had a hard time getting a nice bar cut for a picture. These were yummy though, and lots of potential for different mix-ins!

PEANUT BUTTER BLISS BARS
(image)

INGREDIENTS:
1 (14 0z) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttered, softened
6 Reeses peanut butter cups, chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, oats, brown sugar and baking soda. Add butter and mix until combined - mixture will be crumbly. Pour half of the mixture into the baking pan, spreading evenly and patting down to form a crust.

4. Bake crust for 5 minutes and remove from oven. Pour peanut butter mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly over the top. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle peanut butter cups and chocolate chips over the top and bake an addition 5-7 minutes - do not overbake. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares - you may want to chill bars before cutting.



Rich Chocolate Frosting

2009-03-08T20:13:48.804-07:00

This weekend we threw a surprise birthday party for my husband's good friend Mike. I said I would bake the birthday cake and asked his wife what Mike's favorite cake was, and she said German Chocolate Cake. Which interestingly enough is my husband Jeremy's favorite cake - they must share the same brain. I used a recipe for German Chocolate Cake that's already posted on my blog but I'm posting the recipe for the chocolate frosting which was adapted from this recipe from Allrecipes.com. I've made frosting from scratch before but never chocolate. This was definitely "rich" as the name implies - it had, and it pains me to say this, almost TOO much of a chocolate flavor. Next time I might cut back the cocoa a bit and replace it with a little more powdered sugar instead. It's a dense frosting with an intense cocoa flavor - it reminded me of a canned chocolate frosting but with a much better flavor, if that makes any sense. If you want a fluffy lightly chocolate flavored frosting this isn't it. If you want a rich chocolate frosting that might remind you of your birthday cakes as a child, this is it. The birthday boy loved the cake though, and said he could feel like arteries clogging as he ate it - ha! I think I did a pretty decent job frosting it too, if I do say so myself. ;)

RICH CHOCOLATE FROSTING
(image)

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup milk, approximately

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl beat butter and vanilla until light and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, cocoa, alternating with tablespoons of milk, until sugar and cocoa are incorporated. Beat until well combined, adding any additional milk necessary until frosting reaches desired consistency.



Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken and Shrimp Skewers

2009-03-05T22:16:59.920-08:00

Sometimes you're in the mood for chicken, sometimes you're in the mood for shrimp. Sometimes, you want both. This original recipe from Cooking Light uses chicken thighs, but I used shrimp and chunks of chicken breast on skewers for mine. The rub has a good amount of heat to it, balanced out by the sweet and tangy glaze you brush on while cooking. Jeremy and I both agreed that we liked it better on the chicken than the shrimp - I think it overpowered the shrimp a little. Next time I'll try it on boneless chicken thighs like the recipe suggests. I'm including the recipe just for the rub/glaze for you to use on whatever meat you fancy! :)

SPICY HONEY-BRUSHED CHICKEN AND SHRIMP SKEWERS
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vinegar
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Add meat (chicken, shrimp, etc) and toss to coat. Grill or boil until meat is almost cooked through - brush with honey glaze and continue to cook, brushing frequently with glaze, until meat is done.



Sweet and Spicy Orange Salmon

2009-03-04T12:50:18.238-08:00

I've been trying to change up our dinners a bit. It's been mostly chicken with some beef or maybe pork for a long time and it's getting a little boring. Jeremy LOVES fish, especially salmon. I don't dislike fish, but I'm not always the biggest fan either. I got a couple nice pieces of salmon at the grocery store and decided to try this recipe from Cooking Light. Now Jeremy is notorious (although he's getting better) for saying things like, "It's not bad" after he tastes a new recipe. That drives me nuts and eventually I had to tell him so - say it's good, or bad, but what is, "Not bad"??? After we had this he told me about 4 times how delicious it was and that I'd have to make it again, soon. Wow! I really liked it too.


The original recipe is called "Sweet Orange Salmon" but I felt like that was misleading - the rub definitely has a kick to it. I also omitted the coriander from the original recipe and added a splash of orange juice over the salmon just as it came out of the oven - next time I might simmer some of the leftover rub mixture with orange juice to make a sauce. I broiled this on a rack that is a couple notches down from the highest and it came out perfectly.

SWEET AND SPICY ORANGE SALMON
(image)

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 (6 oz) salmon fillets
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat broiler to high. Coat a broiler-safe pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl combine first 7 ingredients. Rub both sides of salmon fillets with spice mixture. Broil for 8-10 minutes or until salmon flakes when tested with fork. Drizzle with orange juice before serving.



Chewy Chocolate Drizzled Coconut Cookies

2009-03-04T12:28:52.687-08:00

So I'm kind of into little kitchen gadgets. I don't know why, but cute little kitchen tools that really only do one thing make me happy. I've had this little cookie dough scoop for awhile but it was really small, like barely a teaspoon size, so I mainly used it for truffles and tiny cookies. I'd been trying to find a bigger size forever but could never find one. For Christmas Jeremy found me a bigger sized cookie dough scoop and gave it to me as a stocking stuffer. I finally got to use it for this recipe and I LOVE it, man does it make things easier and faster, plus all the cookies are the same size so they cook evenly. I'd seen this recipe floating around different blogs and wanted to try it - the original source is from this recipe on Allrecipes.com. I made it exactly as-is, except I added a chocolate drizzle on top. Also, I doubled the batch from the original recipe and was glad I did, I doubt I would have had more than a dozen if I made the original quantity. These were really, really good - nice and chewy, sweet but not too sweet, and the coconut flavor was yummy - not to mention the smell of baking coconut was divine!

CHEWY CHOCOLATE DRIZZLED COCONUT COOKIES
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Semisweet chocolate chips, melted, for drizzling


DIRECTIONS:
(image)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, beating until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in flour mixture until combined. Stir in coconut. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets a few inches apart. Bake until lightly toasted on the bottom/edges, about 8 minutes. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.



Crockpot Beef Adobo

2009-02-17T03:05:27.952-08:00

Our grocery store was having a buy 1, get 1 free deal on beef roast so I stocked up on a few. I wanted to cook one for dinner, but wasn't really in the mood for pot roast. Plus, I really wanted to use ingredients I had on hand, so I decided to try cooking the beef in an Adobo style sauce. This was adapted from this recipe from Allrecipes.com - the original recipe uses chicken, and I made a few other adjustments like adding the bay leaves and a little water based on the reviews I read from other cooks. Initially I was pretty scared about all the vinegar it calls for, but my Filipino friend Christine told me to stick to the recipe and use it all, so I did. The first few hours of cooking my kitchen definitely smelled like vinegar, but by the time it finished cooking the vinegar smell and flavor mellowed out quite a bit. I really liked this recipe, the beef turned out super tender and the sauce was great over rice. If you like soy sauce, you'll like this. We decided it could use a little kick so we drizzled just a little hot chili sauce on our plates. I'll have to try this with chicken someday too!

CROCKPOT BEEF ADOBO
(image)

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 lbs beef roast
Black pepper
Olive oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
Sriracha Asian hot chili sauce (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Sprinkle roast generously with black pepper. Heat a large frypan to medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil and sear roast, turning every couple minutes, until all sides are browned. Place in crockpot.
2. Add soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, bay leaves and onion to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours until beef is tender and falls apart easily. Serve over rice, with hot chili sauce if you like.



Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2009-02-09T02:55:13.818-08:00

Retro, baby! We had another potluck night at work, and this time the theme was "Old Skool Treats". We were supposed to bring in a dish that reminded us of childhood. People brought in a lot of fun stuff: Chex Mix, Rice Krispy Treats, deviled eggs, etc. I made a strawberry pretzel salad adapted from this recipe on Allrecipes.com. To be honest, I've never had this dish before in my life. But growing up my mom made very little American food, so instead of bringing something that might frighten my co-workers I elected to scour the internet for something that smacked of retro. This recipe sounded perfect - it involves cream cheese, one of my favorite things, and JELL-O! C'mon, what's more retro than JELL-O??? Although the concept of this dish scared me a little I must admit it was really tasty when it was done. The salty pretzel crust with the sweet fluffy cream cheese layer and the strawberries on top is a great combo. I'm not 100% sold on the JELL-O part, but it was fun. I had a lot of co-workers tell me how they grew up on this stuff and how great it was to have it again.

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip whipped topping
1 (6 oz) package strawberry flavored JELL-O
2 cups boiling water
1 (16 oz) package frozen sliced strawberries


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

2. In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, 3/4 cup granulated sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip whipped topping. Spread evenly on cooled pretzel crust. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl stir strawberry JELL-O mix and boiling water until well combined. Mix in frozen strawberries. Pour over cream cheese mixture, spreading strawberries evenly across top. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.



Asian Peanut Sauce Crockpot Pork

2009-02-05T18:38:25.370-08:00

I love Thai food. I mean I LOVE Thai food. It's so colorful, flavorful, interesting and diverse. When people ask what my favorite type of food is I always say, "Korean and Thai". I'm part Korean, so I feel like I have to show my devotion to that part of my heritage (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE Korean food too), but I find myself craving Thai food more than anything else. This recipe was inspired by this recipe from A Year of Crockpotting. It's a pork tenderloin slow cooked in the crockpot in a sweet & spicy peanut sauce. I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, including adding hot chili sauce and different vegetables. I've also found that with the exception of potatoes for pot roast, I really don't like cooking vegetables all day in a crockpot. They just turn too mushy. Part of what I like about Thai food is how vibrant and fresh the ingredients taste, and I feel like you lose all that when you crockpot your veggies all day. So, in my version I elected to sautee the veggies and add them to the dish just before serving. This turned out really well, I like the sweetness of the peanut butter with the little kick of hot chili sauce. It's nowhere near the curries we get at our favorite Thai restaurant, but it's not a bad at-home version!

ASIAN PEANUT SAUCE CROCKPOT PORK
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs pork tenderloin or roast
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Asian hot chili sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 large red pepper, cored and sliced
2 cups green beans
lime wedges for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place pork in crockpot. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, hot chili sauce and peanut butter. Set on low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

2. Just before serving, in a large frypan sautee sweet onion, red bell pepper and green beans over medium high heat until tender. Stir peanut sauce until smooth, then add vegetables. Serve over rice with lime wedges for garnish.



Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Blue Cheese Tartlets

2009-02-02T10:08:09.870-08:00

Superbowl, baby!!! Okay, I'm a poser. I don't like football, I don't get football, but I am a fan of football FOOD! Jeremy texted me on Saturday night while I was working to say we were going to a friend's house for a Superbowl party the next day. Gee, talk about last minute! I try not to show up to a party empty handed so I put together this little appetizer. It's a little tart made from a refrigerated biscuit dough crust filled with cream cheese and topped with caramelized onions, bacon bits and crumbled blue cheese. It was a good excuse to use the mini muffin pan my husband got me that I'd never used. These turned out really well - the blue cheese was nice and mellow once it was melted and combined with the cream cheese, and the sweetness of the onions with the smokey salty bacon was a really delicious combination. I got a lot of compliments and requests for the recipe on this one! :)



CARAMELIZED ONION, BACON AND BLUE CHEESE TARLETS
(image)


INGREDIENTS:
4 strips thick cut bacon, diced
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (5 oz) container Blue cheese crumbles
2 (16 oz) containers refrigerated large flakey butter biscuits


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large pan cook bacon until brown and crisp. Remove onto paper towel to drain. Pour out most of the bacon grease, reserving about a teaspoon in the pan. Add olive oil and onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions begin to soften and brown. Add brown sugar and reduce heat slightly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are browned and caramelized. Remove from heat.

3. In a small bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder and salt until smooth. Set aside.

4. Open biscuit containers and separate biscuits. Cut each biscuit into quarters, and press one quarter into each tin of the mini muffin pan, making sure bottom and sides are covered. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture into muffin tins. Top with a small amount of bacon bits, caramelized onions and Blue cheese crumbles. Bake for 12 minutes or until biscuit dough is golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.



Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl

2009-01-15T13:30:30.962-08:00

I've been on a brownie kick lately. Nobody's complaining, least of all my husband (I think he got a little misty eyed when he got home and saw a big pan of gooey brownies waiting for him) and his co-workers, who get the benefit (curse?) of eating most of them. This recipe starts with a recipe for chocolate brownies from the Hershey's website, with a little added dark chocolate, swirled with a cheesecake mixture and raspberry preserves. Having made brownies from scratch a few times now, I have to admit homemade are better. These were REALLY good, probably some of the best brownies I've ever made. The brownie is dense but not heavy, super chocolately and rich, the cheesecake is smooth and creamy, and the fruity taste of the raspberry is a nice contrast to all the richness. Don't over do it when you're swirling the brownie and cheesecake together, you want thick swirls of cheesecake throughout the brownies. I'll definitely make these again, and maybe experiment with more "swirl ins"! :)


DARK CHOCOLATE BROWNIES WITH RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE SWIRL
(image)
INGREDIENTS:

For brownies:
1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 oz quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

For raspberry cheesecake swirl:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raspberry preserves, seedless

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt and beat until just combined. Fold in dark chocolate. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. In a medium bowl beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Drop heaping tablespoons of cheesecake mix into brownie batter. Drop heaping teaspoons of rasphberry preserves on top of cheesecake dollups. Run a knife through both mixtures to slightly swirl.

4. Bake 45 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars and serving.



Chocolate Marshmallow Fluff Fondue

2009-01-12T11:15:33.091-08:00

I recently started working the night shift at my job. It's a whole different animal when compared to working days - much more quiet, hardly anyone in the building, and the kookiest patients call us. One thing I miss is planning events with co-workers, we did that a LOT on day shift, so I decided to arrange a potluck at work. We had a dip party, and everyone brought their favorite dip. I made this chocolate marshmallow fluff fondue dip, because I've become aware that I'm seriously lacking in recipes involving marshmallow fluff. ;) This recipe is inspired by the gal who does the A Year of CrockPotting blog. I made some adjustments in the amounts of the ingredients and used half-and-half instead of whipping cream. It turned out really good, pretty sweet though, with just a hint of almond flavor.

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW FLUFF FONDUE
(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, half-and-half and almond extract in a mini crockpot. Set on low and heat for one hour, stirring frequently until chocolate is melted and smooth. Keep warm and serve with assorted fruit, angel/pound cake, etc. with skewers for dipping.



Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

2009-01-10T14:54:06.818-08:00

This recipe was adapted from BakingBlonde's cooking blog. It's a chocolate brownie swirled with a peanut butter cheesecake mix then topped with chopped peanut butter cups. In her version she makes the brownies from scratch, bless her heart, but with a 6-month-old I don't have the time or energy so I used a boxed mix. Her recipe is also for an 8x8 pan, mine is for a 9x13 so I've doubled the peanut butter swirl. Jeremy LOVES the peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's so we used those for topping, but Reese's would work just fine. These are crazy rich (I'm never one to say something is "too rich" but these are close) so I cut them into smaller squares than I normally would and sent them off with Jeremy to work. It got rave reviews! I'd recommend to make them a day before you plan to serve, it really enhances the flavor and texture. DOUBLE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE SWIRL BROWNIESINGREDIENTS:For brownies:1 box Duncan Hines Family Style Chewy Fudge brownies3 eggs1/4 cup water1/2 cup vegetable oilFor peanut butter cheesecake swirl:1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened1 cup creamy peanut butter2/3 cups granulated sugar2 eggs2 teaspoons vanilla extractPeanut butter cups, chopped, for topping (about 2 cups)DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.2. In a large bowl, stir together brownie mix, eggs, water and oil until just blended - do not overmix. Set aside.3. In a medium bowl beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat until just combined.4. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate brownie batter into prepared pan. Evenly drop 1/2 of cheesecake batter in dollups over brownie batter. Run a knife through both mixtures to slightly swirl. Dollop remaining brownie batter and cheesecake batter over swirled mixture. Run knife through the brownie and cheesecake dollups (not all the way through the already swirled layer) to create a swirled pattern.5. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, then sprinkle chopped peanut butter cups over top of brownies. Finish baking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting and serving.[...]



Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2008-12-18T14:18:19.423-08:00

I never had Brussels sprouts growing up. In fact, I never had a lot of stuff that "average" American families had. My mother is Korean so she didn't make a lot of typical American food. It wasn't unusual to find kimchee on the table at Thanksgiving! The first time I had Brussels sprouts was at a dinner at my mother-in-law's house, and I decided to give them a go myself. This recipe is for roasted Brussels sprouts - the high heat really brings out the sweetness of the sprouts, and the addition of smoky bacon and sweet onions makes it even better.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 small sweet onion, sliced
8 oz bacon, chopped
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small frypan saute onion and bacon until onions are soft and bacon is cooked about halfway through. Drain most of drippings. Add brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Transfer immediately to baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast in oven, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are tender, onions caramelized, and bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes.



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2008-12-18T14:02:28.903-08:00

I made these cookies for a holiday cookie swap. I've made pumpkin bread with chocolate chips before and I liked the flavor combo (it sounds odd, but it's actually pretty good) so I thought it'd make a good cookie. This is a soft, cake-like cookie that mixes sweet pumpkin, spices, and chocolate. I think it would also be good to add nuts to the mix to contrast to the softness of the cookie.
PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES(image)
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix well. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.



Nutella Thumbprints

2008-11-29T19:40:19.640-08:00

Ahhh, Nutella! I could eat this stuff straight from the jar (and have, I'm not ashamed to admit). If you haven't had it, Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread, and one of the most delish things ever invented if you ask me. I've wanted to find a way to use it in a cookie and figured it might make a good filling for a thumbprint cookie for a cookie swap. I love thumbprint cookies, it's like having a dessert within a dessert! Overall I liked this cookie a lot - the dough is a basic sugar cookie dough, not terribly sweet, which is good since Nutella has a pretty strong, rich flavor. I added hazelnuts for some crunch and to make it look a little fancier.

(image)
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jar Nutella spread
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add into butter mixture and beat until just combined. Form loosely into a flat disk and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until chilled.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. To prepare cookies - take heaping teaspoons of chilled cookie dough and form loosely into balls. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Return remaining dough to fridge to stay chilled until ready for the next batch. Using a small spoon or your fingertip, make an indentation in the middle of each cookie and spoon 1 teaspoon of Nutella into each indentation. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.