Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Amazingly Awesome Brownies

I came up with this recipe last month and have been meaning to post it ever since. I was looking through various brownie recipes in attempt to figure out the best way to get the perfect balance between the cake-like and fudge varieties. This is what I came up with:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Directions: Prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a double boiler, melt 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate and 1 stick of butter, whisk in instant coffee. In a large bowl with a paddle attachment, combine other stick of butter and sugar, beat until fluffy. Add dry ingredients. Once combined, add eggs one at a time. Add melted ingredients and sweetened condensed milk. Beat until well combined. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake approximately 30 minutes.

On Thanksgiving I served these with some freshly whipped cream and macerated raspberries. It was a big hit!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

My first semester as an MFA in creative writing student is coming to a close. So last night I took these festive cheesecake bars with me to class. Between discussing Borges's "Death and the Compass" and Saunders's "Sea Oak" (two discussions I ended up contributing nothing to, as I'm twenty-seven weeks pregnant and simply failed to be in the proper mood to discuss said stories -- at least I contributed a snack) my fellow prose-producing apprentices and I sampled the goods. The response was positive (more so to the bars than the stories), and this morning when I had one from the refrigerator, I thought it was even better. The only immediate alteration I would make is adding more butter to the crust. It was a bit dry.

16 graham crackers
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted (I would try using an additional 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature (I used the 1/3 less fat variety)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup eggnog
3 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine and pulse all crust ingredients until fully crumbled and moistened. Press crust into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add remaining ingredients, beat until well combined. Pour into crust lined pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the center has just stopped wobbling. Turn off oven, but leave bars in the oven with the door closed for 15 minutes. Then open the oven door and continue to let the bars cool approximated 20 minutes. The slow cooling process prevented my bars from cracking.
I topped my bars with 2 ounces of melted white chocolate and about a 1/3 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Protein-powered Banana Bread

Yesterday, I made it facebook official, so today I'll make it blog official -- I'm 12 weeks pregnant with my third child! It's been fun being pregnant again, especially this time around because I've felt absolutely wonderful (which is something I attribute to running). But something else I'll share is that I've never been one of those women who considers pregnancy a time to eat whatever I want. I take baby building seriously, as I take my pregnant health seriously because I'm a natural homebirther devoted to staying low risk. Thus, I follow certain food guidelines and try to get extra protein with minimized white flour and sugar in my diet. And this delicious banana bread is a great way for me to get what I need in a tasty, easy way. And even if you're not pregnant (like my husband), you'll appreciate the benefits of the healthy ingredients I've stealthily added. I say "stealthily" because this bread really is so moist and delicious, you'd never realize you were getting extra protein, flax, and wheat germ.

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, crushed
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (rehydrated with 1 cup water)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans (or some other nut), chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time; beat. Add crushed bananas; mix. Add dry ingredients and rehydrated textured vegetable protein (rehydrate tvp by cooking it over medium heat in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of water). Finally, mix in chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The food of New Orleans: freelancing about food

In May, I wrote a quick post about the freelancing I'm doing for Examiner.com on Attachment Parenting. Now, my fellow foodies, I'm writing about food in New Orleans. I've written three articles so far, so if you're interested in learning more about some of the best places to eat in Nola, check out my articles. And hop on over to Examiner to checkout what's new.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Key Lime Cheesecake

On Sunday, I made this cheesecake for dessert. It was for an extra-special seventh wedding anniversary dinner! Zach made shrimp scampi, and I made this tasty, tart number.

For the crust:
15 graham crackers
10 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

For the filling:
3 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest (Ideally, I would use more zest, but zesting key limes can be a bit cumbersome.)

In a food processor, crumble graham crackers; add sugar and pulse; pour in melted butter and combine until all cracker crumbs are moistened. Press crust into prepared pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese with sugar; beat in eggs one at a time; beat in flour; beat in key lime juice and zest. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake 55 to 65 minutes. After baking, leave cake in the oven additional 30 minutes with the temp off and the door open. Gradual cooling helps to lessen the chance of cracking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grilled Chicken, Plum & Balsamic Pizza

My husband was inspired to make this pizza after seeing Bobby Flay do something similar on his grilling show. I contributed by making the balsamic vinaigrette that we drizzled over the top, and I made the dough, but that was about it, so I can't be precise about the ingredient amounts Zach used. I'll give you my best guess, but pizza is one of those things you use personal taste to decide topping amounts anyway.

For the dough, I used my rosemary, basil pizza crust , sans the rosemary and basil. Instead, once it was rolled out, it got a nice sprinkle of salt and pepper.

My husband used one grilled chicken breast (sliced), about two sliced plums, one cup blue cheese, one and a half cups monterey jack cheese. Fresh chives and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette were used to top it.

The process of grilling the pizza gave the dough that flavor of smokiness that can only come from a grill. He grilled the rolled out dough before topping it. After the dough had picked up some grill marks and was fully cooked, he topped it and put it back on the grill until the cheese was melted.

I don't have the exact measurements for the balsamic drizzle, but I used approximately equal parts salad oil and balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, some dried Italian herbs, and about a tablespoon of sugar. The balsamic needed to be sweet in order to balance the tartness of the plums (the plums we got were pretty tart).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Having fun with my homegrown tomatoes: B,B&T Quiche, Creamy Tomato & Herb Soup, and Bruschetta

This year, in February, we started our spring gardening (yes -- it was warm enough in February to begin planting). And this has by far been our most successful tomato year yet! Our four better boy plants and two roma plants have yielded some very abundant results. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes using my fresh produce.

The B,B&T Quiche is a bacon, basil, and tomato quiche, though it also includes a few other ingredients. You can find my crust recipe by looking at my Elegant Quiche recipe.
Ingredients for the filling:
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve grease
1 medium onion, chopped
1 head garlic, diced
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons flour
approximated 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, I used a combination of roma and better boys
8 to 10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
other fresh herbs, such as oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

After preparing crust and fitting it to a round pan, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In reserved bacon grease, saute onion and garlic. Be sure to begin cooking the onion before adding the garlic to the pan, so you don't burn the garlic. In a large bowl, beat eggs, add heavy cream and cheese and flour; combine well. Add remaining ingredient to the mixture. Pour into the prepared crust; bake 40 to 45 minutes.

For the Creamy Tomato and Herb Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 chopped fresh tomatoes, I used better boys
8 or so leaves fresh basil
1 head garlic, diced
1 cup white wine
1 15oz can tomato sauce
pinch sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a stock pot, heat olive oil; add chopped tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down; add garlic; saute. Add flour, then wine and continue to cook over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients other than cream, which will be added once the other ingredients have cooked and melded together over medium heat. Lastly, stir in cream. Turn to low heat and serve when ready.

The ingredient amounts I use when making bruschetta changes depending on how much I have or how much I want. You will, of course, need some good french bread cut into approximately 1 inch slices (or however thick you like it). Then, I chop my tomatoes and basil. I like about two or three leaves of basil to one baseball-sized tomato. I drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over my tomatoes and basil until they are well coated. Then I sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and the final touch is sugar, which nicely brings out and balances the flavor of the balsamic. Spoon the tomato mixture on french bread, and you're good to go!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cake

I've been in Little Rock, Arkansas this week visiting the fam, and my grandmother celebrated her eighty-second birthday, so I was asked to bake her birthday cake. I had some time constraints on me, so I didn't get to really plan what I was going to do. I had suggested a simple chocolate cake, but then my mother reminded me that grandma doesn't like chocolate cake. She's from the pound-cake generation (not that I have anything against pound cake...), which seems to have an adoration for all things lemon in the confection world (not that I have anything against lemons...). I considered making lemon meringue pie, but I hate not making cake for birthdays. Instead, I made lemon filling and meringue and slapped it together with a box-mix yellow cake and some fresh vanilla frosting. My grandmother's cake didn't turn out to be so pretty (like an amateur, I attempted a layer cake), but my second attempt at this cake does look much nicer (the 9x13 inch pyrex did the trick). My mom, who use to be a great chocolate lover, can no longer indulge in chocolate for health reasons, so I made this second lemon meringue cake for her today. I'm heading home to New Orleans tomorrow, so she'll have this dessert as a little memento... for at least a few days...

For this cake make a box yellow cake as directed. After it cools, frost with vanilla icing. I made my icing from scratch.
Icing recipe:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a bowl with a beater attachment, cream butter. Add vanilla, then alternate adding powdered sugar and milk until you have a nice frosting. Frost cake; set aside.

For the lemon meringue portion:
For the lemon filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small to medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, water, lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until boiling. Add butter; stir; turn off heat. Add 1/2 cup of lemon mixture to beaten egg yolks. Do so slowly, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining mixture in the saucepan; return to a boil, while whisking. Pour into a bowl to cool. Once cool, spread over iced cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar and vanilla; whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over cake and bake approximately 5 minutes, or until the meringue develops touches of golden brown. Refrigerate to help with cake set up.
Grandma's cake... My brother said, "I won't eat that because it looks like a scrambled egg." I guess it does...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I just started freelancing for Examiner.com

My topic isn't food... But I am really excited about what I've been invited to write about -- attachment parenting. Because of my contract terms, my topic has to be location-related, so I'll be discussing attachment parenting activities that can be done in New Orleans. So if you're interested in attachment parenting, or activities in New Orleans, I'm sure you can glean something from my first article and articles to come. Here's a link to the first article, A walk in the park: New Orleans City Park. Feel free to leave a comment here or there!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baked Alaska

This is definitely one of the coolest desserts I've ever made (Haha -- excessively corny pun intended). The short amount of time this creation spends baking warms the cake base, which is delightfully contrasted by the cold, ice cream filling; and the firmness from the toasted meringue crust, which maintains a soft, marshmallow-like consistency, adds another dimension of texture and flavor. But even after this cake has been put in the freezer, supposing it's too big for everyone to finish, it's still a delightful frozen treat -- a sort of superior ice cream cake.

For the cake portion, I used half of my favorite chocolate cake recipe, which is an 8 inch round cake. For the ice cream portion, I used about 20 oz. of a coffee-flavored ice cream made by a company local to New Orleans. And for the crust, I made a basic vanilla meringue.

Ingredients for the meringue:
8 egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla

In a bowl with a whisk attachment, combine all ingredients and whisk until stiff peaks form.

For the Baked Alaska:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, place cake; top with cold ice cream. (It's best if you leave the ice cream in the freezer until the entire cake is ready for assembly. Meaning, you should have your oven heated and your meringue in the piping bag.) Try forming your ice cream into a dome shape. It doesn't have to be perfect because the meringue will conceal imperfections. Using a piping bag fitted with a star tip, pipe meringue over the entire cake. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until the meringue develops golden brown tips.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

I think it's safe to assume that everyone who regularly views my blog has his or her own favorite, basic pancake recipe. And I realize that I have a few pancake recipe variations on this blog already, but since I get a lot of keyword search hits via google these days, I thought it would be nice to post a basic pancake recipe for people looking for a quick reference.

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, beat eggs; stir in buttermilk and oil. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir just until large lumps disappear.
Grease a large, heated, non-stick pan or griddle until it passes the water drop test (which is when a drop of water sizzles and bounces off the pan, informing you that it's hot enough). Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook about 2 minutes or until the edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on the surface. Flip your pancake, and cook until golden brown.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Mmm... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. I last made this cake about a month ago. Though it wasn't the first time using this cake recipe, it was my first time frosting it with milk chocolate cream cheese frosting, which I believe to be the perfect compliment to this particular cake recipe. A quick note about the cake recipe: it is not my creation. It's the most popular chocolate cake recipe on allrecipes.com with, last I checked, over 900 five star reviews. It's also just as highly reviewed on foodnetwork.com. There you'll find it listed among Ina Garten's recipes. Here are the links:



So I won't bother with typing up the cake recipe. But I will share my milk chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe.

6 oz. milk chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk

In a double boiler, melt milk chocolate and butter until just melted. Whisk and remove from heat. In a bowl with a beater attachment, begin mixing the cream cheese and beat in melted chocolate. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and milk until you've achieved the desired consistency.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filled Cookie Cake

Though this creation is not terribly unique, I'll still classify it as a mad-science experiment because I threw it together in a moment of hungry, chocolate-lusting insanity. I had finished my last slice of birthday cake the day before, so the sudden absence of endorphin-inducing baked goodness resulted in this...

For the cookie:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, (but I think a full cup would be better)
For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round baking pan.
In a mixing bowl with a beater attachment, combine all the filling ingredient; mix well; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, shortening, sugar; beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients; then add the eggs; then add the vanilla. Mix well. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips.
In the greased baking pan, press half of the cookie dough into the bottom. Spread the filling evenly over the first cookie dough layer. Top the second layer with the remaining cookie dough.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Apricot, Pecan Energy Bites

You could, of course, make these as bars in a baking dish, but I like the uniform size that comes from baking them in a mini-muffin pan. These bites are great as pre or post workout snacks. Or, if your feeling some between-meal temptation, these will help fight the hunger without making you feel guilty because they are so good for you.

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milled flax
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup textured vegetable protein
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini-muffin pan (or a square baking dish).
In a small saucepan, rehydrate textured vegetable protein (TVP) with 1/2 cup water, cook over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, flax, wheat germ, brown sugar. Stir to combine. Once the TVP has absorbed the water, add the the mixture; stir to combine. Add honey, pecans, dried apricots and melted butter; stir to combine. Add eggs; stir to combine. Spoon even amounts into pan. Bake about 12 minutes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fried Sweet Potato Cakes (or latkes, or hash browns, or potato scallops, or whatever you like to call it) Topped with a Fried Egg and Pepper Bacon

While this recipe is my brainchild, my husband is the one who physically made this delightful brenner (breakfast for dinner). I was going for a late afternoon run, which became an evening run, so our hungry tummies could not wait for me to shower, dress, and then start cooking. You'll notice in the picture that I topped mine with fresh chives and blue cheese. My husband contends that the blue cheese in this dish creates too generic a flavor and overpowers the flavor pairing of the egg and sweet potato cake. I see his point, but I really, really liked the blue cheese.

Note: These are only approximations for the ingredients -- Zach doesn't measure; he just cooks.

1 medium sweet potato, shredded (makes about three cakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon dried Cajun seasonings: thyme, mustard, paprika, oregano, rosemary
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs (for the cakes)
1/2 package thick peppered bacon
2 to 4 eggs (for frying -- depends on how many you want to eat)

In a medium bowl, combine shredded potato, seasonings, 2 eggs, sugar. Strain this mixture to get out the excess moisture/liquid.
In a large pan, fry bacon. Set aside bacon, reserve drippings. In a medium pan, heat two to three tablespoons of bacon drippings. Make about three pancake style patties out of the sweet potato mixture. Fry each side until brown. In large pan, fry eggs until desired texture. We prefer ours runny in the middle. Now, plate it, top it with chives and blue cheese, and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sweet and Simple: A Cinnamon and Sugar Irish Soda Bread Toast Breakfast

For St. Patrick's Day, my lovely friend Anne made me a loaf of her oh-so-splendid Irish Soda Bread. She suggested that I eat it toasted with ample butter. So, I decided to take something that was good to begin with and dress it up a bit for an extra-special breakfast that was not too time consuming. All I had to do was cut a slice from the loaf, smear a large pat of butter over it, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar, and pop it in the toaster oven. Meanwhile, I whipped up some fresh cream to jazz up my morning coffee, which always has a tablespoon of sugar and some creamer in it (I like my coffee sweet).

The Irish Soda Bread, being more of a cake-like pastry was able to stand the heat of the toaster oven longer than a piece of bread, so I was able to accomplish a nice creme-brulee effect with the sugar . When I saw the sugar bubbling, I knew it was ready. The warmed bread soaked up the butter, making it perfectly moist. This tenderness was delightfully contrasted by the slightly crisped and crystallized topping -- creating a nice complexity of textures. So, if you were lucky enough to have a friend make you a loaf of Irish soda bread, I suggest making some extra-special cinnamon and sugar toast.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quadruple-Chocolate Guinness Brownies with Minty Green Icing, as promised...

Previously, I promised to post this recipe, so I am. But I've also decided that it would be prudent to blog about it because I'm likely to lose the recipe in one of my many notebooks that seem to float about my house only to be scribbled in and repossessed by my youngest son.

This recipe is very similar (almost identical) to the caramel Guinness brownies on this blog, which I wrote about approximately a year ago. So, I would call this recipe the perfected version. The minty icing is really the perfect compliment to the rich, dark-chocolate flavor of these brownies, which is enhanced by the coffee flavors of the Guinness.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 stick butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 oz milk chocolate
2 oz white chocolate
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
12 oz Guinness Extra Stout

5 tablespoons butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 or so drops green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a double boiler combine and melt butter and chocolate. In a mixing bowl beat sugar and eggs until fluffy. In a large mixing bowl combine cocoa powders and flour; whisk in Guinness. Add melted butter and chocolate to flour mixture; add the fluffed eggs and sugar, as well. When all ingredients have been well mixed, pour into baking dish; bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine and mix icing ingredients, alternating between additions of sugar and milk/cream.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Edible Etsy Item: Guinness Brownies

Just in time for St. Patty's Day, I've posted a new dark-chocolate lover's dream of a brownie at my etsy shop.


The recipe will be soon to follow!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I've opened and etsy shop and I'm listing edibles!

Hooray! I'm taking my baking to the inevitable next level by putting it for sale on the internet! I'll continue to post more items, but here's a link to my first:


My shop name is SassySouthernChic.

Take a look and pass it on!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cheesy Bacon and Mushroom Baked Macaroni

Last night's dinner was the essence of comfort. I confess, growing up I always enjoyed the blue-box variety of mac & cheese, but this grownup-foodie version is vastly superior in every way imaginable. Even my children thought so, which is not too difficult to imagine because there is something about the aroma of bacon that lets us know... this is gonna be good.

1/2 lb elbow macaroni
8 slices bacon
1 medium/small onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups cheese, I used a Mexican taco variety containing cheddar and asadero -- very yum!
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
black pepper
crust: 1/2 bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons butter

In a pot of salted boiling water cook macaroni. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees; and in a large pan, cook bacon until crisp. Once bacon is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Saute onions in bacon fat, once they begin to tenderize add mushrooms; cook until tender and brown. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cheese, milk, melted butter, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons flour; stir until well mixed. Once macaroni is cooked drain and toss in pan with bacon fat and sauteed onion and mushrooms. Turn heat to low and pour in cheese mixture. Stir to combine and bring heat back to medium. Stir in bacon. Bring mixture to a boil for a few minutes, stirring moderately. After the sauce has thickened, pour the macaroni into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and break up remaining two tablespoons of butter on top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the crust is browned. Let stand five minutes, then serve.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blackberry, Cranberry (and Vodka for Mom) Cream Soda

In college, I used to love getting Italian cream sodas at the cappuccino bar we had on campus. And my boys don't drink soda, so I thought it would be a nice afternoon treat for them to try a cream soda. And since I did so many chores around the house today and got in a nice 3 mile run pushing the boys in the stroller this morning, I thought it would be prudent to spike my soda with some vodka. Despite living in New Orleans, I don't usually day drink (especially on a week day), but today I made an exception.

1 cup of frozen blackberries, thawed and squeezed
cranberry juice
ice cubes
tonic water
heavy cream
whipped cream

In an 8 oz glass, I combined 1 oz blackberry juice, 1 oz cranberry juice, 1 oz vodka, three cubes of ice. I filled the glass about an inch from the top with tonic water, then I added the cream and about a tablespoon of sugar. I topped it with some freshly-whipped cream and a sprig of mint. I made the boys' drinks the same way sans the vodka.

Balsamic-Laced Butternut Squash Soup

I realize that I'm posting this recipe out of season, but since I've been so negligent of this blog, I thought I ought to resume posting with something that I just love, love, love. So, for the few people who follow this blog, please file this recipe away and try it next fall.

1 butternut squash (I didn't weigh mine, but they looked average in size)
For the squash preparation: salt, pepper, olive oil
1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes
2 to 4 sliced of bacon (preferably peppered bacon)
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 head garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Quarter butternut squash; remove seeds; brush meat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash skin side down in a baking pan large enough to accommodate squash; add enough water to the pan so that it is 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch high. Roast squash until fork tender, which will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours (it could even take a little longer with a larger squash). Remove tender meat from skin and puree in a food processor or bowl with an immersion blender.

In a stock pot, cook bacon and remove to a plate once crisp. The cooked bacon will be used to crumble on top of the soup. Saute onions on medium heat in grease rendered from the bacon. Once the onion is tender, add the canned tomatoes and garlic. Allow the tomatoes to cook for a few minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar. Once the tomatoes have started to break down a bit, add the pureed squash and chicken stock; stir to combine. Stir in heavy cream. Salt to taste. Serve topped with Italian cheeses, crumbled bacon, and chives.