Saturday, January 29, 2011

S'more on a stick

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Elliott's birthday was last weekend.  I wanted something yummy and quick to go with his cake, just as another food option.  I'm sure that this idea isn't new, but I was pretty impressed that I came up with it.  I made them two days in a row and then were crowd pleasers to say the least. 

So easy and yummy and mess free, this might be one of my more brilliant food inventions.

You'll need:
popsicle sticks
giant marshmallows
melting chocolate
crushed up graham crackers

Put the marshmallows on the stick. Dip in melted chocoate. Coat in graham crackers.

Eat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hasselback Potatoes

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So easy and yummy is this one.

All you need:
Russet potatoes, one per person
Garlic, at least one clover per potato
Butter, 1 tablespoon per potato
olive oil
coarse salt
pepper

Scrub your potatoes till they shine.
Thinly slice the potato into rings but DO NOT cut all the way through. The sliced need to stay hooked together.
Between each slice of potato stuff a thinly sliced piece of garlic.
Douse the potato in olive oil, salt and pepper and put a pat of butter on top.

Bake at 425 degrees for at least 55 minutes. You'll probably need to cook them longer than that though, because every 15 minutes or so you need to open the oven and baste the potatoes in the butter/olive oil that's floating around on the pan.

Once the potatoes are knife soft and thoroughly cooked, remove from the oven and tent with foil for 5-10 minutes. Add a little extra butter, salt and pepper and enjoy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Comfort Food

Everyone does it - has a few dishes, candies, treats that they eat when they just NEED it...comfort food.  That one thing (or in my case, dozens of things) that you choose to eat when your happy, sad, sick or whatever else.

Stuff like hot chocolate with ice cream in it, a chocolate shake, some chocolate frosting.  You see where I'm going with this?  Or, homemade chocolate frosting with some pretzels for dipping?  Yes, you definitely see where I'm going with this.

Sometimes though I like comfort food, not just comfort chocolate, when I'm neither sick nor sad.  My kids are sick and that's wearing on me a bit.  It's really hard to figure out what to cook for dinner when everyone is coughing and crying and snotting all over the place.  That's where the comfort food comes in...comfort for me anyway.  Last night we had balsamic marinated chicken for dinner with fried potatoes.

mmmmmmm, fried potatoes.

This you see, as I was diving in last night, is one of my comfort foods.  One of those things that always sounds good, that I'll always eat, something that warms me up and makes me happy.  They were absolutely delish by the way.

Go out and fry yourself up some tonight - the more butter the better.

Fried Potatoes:
4-6 Yukon gold potatoes
butter
salt and pepper

In a large pot on the stove top, boil your potatoes.  Depending on the speed of your range, you'll boil them at least 20 minutes, probably more.  You want them soft enough that a butter knife can cut through them easily.

Remove the potatoes from the water and drain in a colander.  Let them sit about 10 minutes to work off a little heat.  Once they are cool enough for you to touch, slice them up thin.  They will start to crumble a bit but that's okay.  You want the crumble.  Leave the skins on, too.

Once the golden beauties are sliced, melt some butter in a large skillet.  Okay, melt a lot of butter, a couple of tablespoons just to be safe.  When the butter is nice and melty and bubbling add the potatoes and spread them out as evenly as possible.

The potatoes have already been cooked so basically you're just browning them up and "crustifying" them.  Oh, I love crusty potatoes.  If I were you, I'd leave them about 7 minutes per side and flip them over.  Cook and flip until you've got them nice and golden.  Add a little more butter if they look sad.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sweet 16 Cake

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Right before the new year, my brother turned 16.  He wanted a parade and gangster rappers, and a masquerade ball with some llamas. He settled for 6 hours of basketball, Litza's pizza, and a homemade birthday cake.

When planning his cake, he wanted an extravagant 4 layers of chocolate and cherry chip cake with as decadent of icing as I could manage.  Once the big day came, and the basketball games got moved up 3 hours, I had to hurry.  We settled on two layers - cherry cake with cherry icing on the inside and chocolate icing with a chocolate ganache to finish it off.

Oh, it rich.  I think it gave everyone who partook a bit of a tummy ache -but it was worth it.

The interior icing was cherry butter cream.
The exterior icing was milk chocolate.  It was a basic chocolate butter cream but right at the end, you add 3/4 cup of melted milk chocolate chips to the mix.  I made extra and enjoyed it with salty pretzels the next day.
On top of that, was a bittersweet chocolate ganache.  Ganache is so simple, it's a shame people don't make it more often.

Milk Chocolate Icing:
2 sticks butter - very soft
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
mix the butter and cocoa together
alternate between adding a bit of milk (2 tablespoons) and 4 cups powdered sugar.
add 3/4 cups melted (still warm but not hot) chocolate chips.


Chocolate Ganache:
There are a lot of ways to do it, but I've always learned that you do equal parts cream and chocolate and that you shouldn't use milk chocolate.  Not sure why - but I'm sure it's because the cocoa content isn't as significant in milk as in bittersweet.

8 oz heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate

heat the heavy cream on your stove top.  You know it's ready when the edges start to bubble and there is a visible film on the top.  Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate.  Let the mixture sit a couple of minutes and then break out a whisk and mix the chocolate and cream together.  Then let it sit.  The longer it sits, the thicker it will get.  If you refrigerate the ganache for about 8 hours you can then make truffles.  If you leave it for 10-20 then it's perfect to pour over the top of a cake.

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

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I made these quite a few times over the holidays. They were simple and oh so yummy. I love cherry cordials so it was a natural fit to find this recipe and make it my own.

To start - take a chocolate cake and doctor it up anyway you'd like. In addition to the normal changes I made (sour cream, buttermilk and pudding) I added a butt load of maraschino cherry juice to the mix.

Bake and let cool.

The icing - oh how divine is cherry icing? Pretty close to heaven if you ask me. The icing was a basic butter cream but without vanilla. Start with two sticks of very soft butter and at least two tablespoons of cherry juice. Mix well. Then start adding the powdered sugar and a little bit of milk. You'll need about 4 cups of sugar, give or take, depending on how much milk you've added to keep it creamy.

Then, once the icing is mixed, add your chopped up maraschino cherries. Incorporate those by hand and add as many or as few as you'd like.

Next, pipe the icing onto your cupcakes with a pretty big tip because the cherry chunks can mess you up if you're not careful. Once cupcakes are iced, stick the whole batch in the fridge and let the icing chill for about an hour. Once that time is up pull the cupcakes out of the fridge and get them ready to dip.

Melt your favorite brand of chocolate melts (or chocolate chips) in the microwave in a large bowl. Once melted, dip your cupcakes one at a time into the melted chocolate, just covering the top of the icing. Do this for all the cupcakes.

Then your finished. Box them up. Eat them up. Share them with neighbors.