Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Triple Tier Brownies

These were really simple to make and very addictive! These are perfect for a fall picnic or tail gating. I used organic ingredients where I could. I also used my new favorite peanut butter, Earth Balance natural peanut butter with flax seed. You can't taste the flax seed and it doesn't effect the texture but you get all the wonderful benefits of the flax seeds. I'm not a big fan of canned frosting but I didn't have time to make my own to substitute. There is an organic canned frosting on the market but I used it once and thought it was only so so. You could also play around with this recipe and substitute different flavors of frosting or use cocoa krispies instead of rice krispies. I was thinking the addition of a marshmallow layer would also be great. To keep with the organic ingredients you can also use an organic rice cereal.

Triple Tier Brownies
  • 1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size) (I used organic)
  • 1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used Earth Balance Natural Peanut Butter with Flax Seeds)
  • 3 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 can (16 ounces) cream cheese frosting
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, chopped (I omitted)


Prepare and bake brownie mix according to package directions, using a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large saucepan, combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until blended, stirring occasionally. Stir in cereal; set aside.
Spread frosting over brownies. Sprinkle with peanuts. Spread with peanut butter mixture. Chill for 30 minutes or until set before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Source: Taste of Home

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza

I recently purchased Wolfgang Puck's cookbook, Pizza Pasta and More. I purchased the book more so for the fresh pasta recipes, however the pizzas looked great too. On a whim I decided to make this pepperoni and mushroom pizza this weekend. I made a few adaptions to the original recipe, my version appears below. I also used a store bought crust to save time. I used a crust I picked up in the freezer section of Central Market by Pizza Romana. It is a product from Italy and one of my favorite things beside the taste is that it only had four ingredients, no artificial ingredients or preservatives. This crust was every bit as good as homemade. I love making my own pizza crust but this one is definitely great to have on hand in a pinch. My husband enjoyed eating this pizza while watching football and we were blown away by how amazing it tasted. The layers of flavors created the best pizza we have ever had. I can't see ever ordering pizza again after having this one at home.

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza

As Adapted from Pizza, Pasta and More by Wolfgang Puck

2 tablespoons pesto
6 oz grated Italian cheese mix
1 Roma tomato, ends trimmed and cut into 7 slices
2 tablespoons Roasted Whole Garlic (recipe follows)
thin sliced-nitrate free pepperoni
1/4 cup Sauteed Wild Mushrooms (recipe follows)
1 Pizza Romana Pizza Crust

Roasted Garlic

4 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 365. Arrange garlic heads in small roasting pan and toss with olive oil, coating them well. Roast until garlic is tender 50-60 minutes. When cool, cut the head in half, crosswise, with a serrated knife and remove the softened garlic pulp. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate. Use as needed.

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound baby bellas, cut into bite size pieces
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Over medium heat, saute the mushrooms until crisp tender. Stir int he shallot, garlic and parsley and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Brush the inner circle of the pizza dough with the Pesto. Scatter the cheeses over the inner circle and arrange the slices of tomato over the cheese. Sprinkle the roasted garlic over the tomatoes and layer with the pepperoni and mushrooms. Bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barefoot Blogger's-Beatty's Chocolate Cake

This week's Barefoot Blogger's pick by Mary of Passionate Perserverance is one of my all-time favorite Ina recipes and the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever found. The addition of the coffee to this cake really enhances the chocolate flavor and the buttermilk produces a very moist cake. I've made this cake several times to rave reviews since first discovering the recipe. I have also posted about this recipe twice! Here is my first post about this recipe. I like Ina's frosting but it can be a bit time intensive to make. One day in a pinch I paired this cake with this Chocolate Sourcream Frosting and I fell in love with the pairing. The sour cream added a nice richness and tang to the frosting and gives it that good old fashioned chocolate cake taste!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Double Chocolate Pudding

This recipe redeems my Ina cake failure! Chocolate Pudding is one of my absolute favorite desserts. This pudding is rich, creamy and perfectly chocolate flavored, everything you would want a homemade pudding to be. This recipe easily goes with the most casual of meals to a fancy dinner party when served in a crystal footed dish. Simple, delicious, perfect! I served mine with homemade whipped cream on top. Sorry the whipped cream obscures the view of the pudding!

Double Chocolate Pudding
  • 6 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons very good cocoa powder (I used green and black organic cocoa powder)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1-ounce very good semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and thick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed. On low speed, add the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the chocolate mixture. Combine well, then pour the mixture back into the pan.

Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until thickened. If the mixture begins to curdle, remove it from the heat and beat it vigorously with a wire whisk. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream, and mix until the chocolate and butter are melted.

Pour into serving bowls. Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding, and chill thoroughly.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties, Clarkson Potter, 2001.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweet and Sour Brisket

I am absolutely loving the rainy, cloudy fall weather we are having. After many of these cozy days, I had a distinct need to braise a piece of meat! I decided upon brisket and came up with this recipe after a quick food network search. This is the first Ellie Krieger recipe I have tried and I must say it was a resounding success. I omitted the raisins from this recipe and substituted a pinch of allspice for the whole allspice berry. I made a 1.5 lb brisket but did not change the sauce proportions or cooking time and it was a perfect ratio of sauce to meat and the brisket was fork tender. This recipe would easily be adaptable to a slow cooker. This is the perfect meal for a football watching party or just a cold rainy day. I served mine with butterscotch and black pepper baby carrots and garlic mashed potatoes. Add in Ina's homemade chocolate pudding for dessert and you have one fantastic meal!

Sweet and Sour Brisket
  • 1 (3-pound) beef brisket, first-cut or flat-half cut, trimmed of any excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut in 1/2, then thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • One 15- oz. can tomato sauce, preferably no salt added
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 allspice berry

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pat the brisket dry and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or braising pot. Sear the brisket until it is browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and cook the onion, stirring a few times, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the vinegar, the raisins, peppercorns, and allspice and stir to combine well. Bring mixture to a boil, return brisket and any accumulated juices to the pot, spoon some of the tomato-vinegar mixture over the brisket, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the brisket is fork tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove the brisket from the oven, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes or, if serving later, cover and refrigerate the meat and sauce for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, cut the meat against the grain into 1/4- inch thick slices. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into the warm sauce. Return the sliced brisket to the sauce until heated through, then serve.

Yield: 10 servings, serving size: 4-ounces brisket plus 3 tablespoons of sauce

Source: Ellie Krieger/Foodnetwork.com

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These are very similar to my usual mashed potato recipe. I like the addition of the sour cream and the richness it gave to the dish. This is a perfect pairing for the rich gravy from the sweet and sour brisket.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 3 medium baking potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) whole milk, at room temperature or warmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan.

Add the butter, sour cream and garlic. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a fork until the ingredients are blended. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Source: Paula Deen/Foodnetwork.com

Butterscotch and Black Pepper Baby Carrots

This was a simple, easy and delicious way to prepare fresh baby carrots. A great weeknight side dish to have in your repertoire.

Butterscotch and Black Pepper Baby Carrots

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium skillet, heat the butter, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until smooth. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender and glazed. Top with black pepper. Serve hot or warm.

Source: Paula Deen/Foodnetwork.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers-Birthday Sheet Cake

The big birthday month in our house is October. We love cake though, so anytime is a good time to try a new cake recipe even if its too early to celebrate an actual birthday. I was somewhat hesitant about trying this month's Barefoot Blogger pick due to the really low ratings this recipe received on the Food Network site. Its rare for any Ina recipe to get less than 5 stars and even rarer for one to get as few stars as this recipe which received only 3 stars. After making this one, I concur with the thoughts on those that rated it low. There was really nothing exciting about the actual cake itself. I halved the recipe and adjusted the baking soda per the reviewers recommendations. I didn't have any problems with the actual baking of the cake but like I said its nothing anyone would rave about, mediocre at best. The frosting was easy enough to make but again very unexciting and not really sweet enough or creamy enough for my preferences. Not a recipe I would make again. The best part about this cake was how much fun my toddler had decorating it! If you want a stellar cake, the next Barefoot Blogger pick, Beatty's Chocolate Cake is a definite winner! Thanks to Susy of Everyday Gourmet for this pick, sorry I couldn't say I loved it. I guess even Ina has an off recipe, although before now I would not have guessed it!

Here is the link to the recipe, if anyone is interested. I'm not going to post the full recipe since its not one I would recommend or make again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Crisp Skin Salmon with Fiery Asian Slaw

This recipe was billed in the September 2009 issue of Cooking Light as a super fast meal and it lived up to the hype! I have long avoided coleslaw but recently I tried it again and discovered I really liked it. Since then I have been on a slaw kick. This slaw had great flavor and wasn't really that spicy, but had a nice bite. This was my first time using Sriracha and I can't wait to find more recipes to incorporate this sauce. My only compliant with this meal was I felt like it needed one more side to go with it but couldn't quite decide what a good match would be. Maybe a green vegetable or some bread. My husband gave this one rave reviews. If you need a quick weeknight meal, this one is perfect.

Crispy Skin Salmon with Fiery Asian Slaw

  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (16-ounce) package cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon fillets evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add salmon to pan, skin side down; cook 4 minutes. Turn salmon over; cook 3 minutes. Add orange juice to pan; cook 30 seconds or until liquid almost evaporates and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

2. While fish cooks, combine rice vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through honey) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and coleslaw; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Serve salmon with slaw.

Source: Cooking Light, September 2009.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Country Hashed Browns

I'm a big fan of home style potatoes. Although the recipe calls these hashed browns, these are much more reminiscent of the home fried potatoes I grew up eating in North Carolina and absolutely loved. This dish doesn't take much work and has so much flavor. This will definitely be appearing on future brunch buffets at our house! I used the recipe from Ina's Family Style cookbook, however, I recently watched an episode where Ina made these and added ham. If you were serving these for brunch and wanted to make it even heartier that would be a great addition.

Country Hashed Browns

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts

Melt the butter in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan. Add the potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally with a flat spatula, until the potatoes are evenly browned and cooked through. (Allow the potatoes to cook for 5 minutes before turning.) Turn off the heat and add the parsley, scallions and ham. Reheat on top of the stove or over a hot charcoal grill.

Cook's Note:You can peel and dice the potatoes early and keep them in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water. Drain them and dry them well with paper towels before frying.

Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Clarkson Potter, 2002.

Creme Brulee French Toast

Every now and then the idea of breakfast for dinner just hits the spot. This week was one of those weeks. I have been making this recipe for several years now. I first discovered this wonderful dish on the Whole Foods breakfast bar. I visited Whole Foods on many occasions just for this particular dish! I really wanted to make this one at home and was lucky enough to come across the recipe. Now, I can have this any day of the week without leaving the house! I love this recipe compared to other french toast casserole recipes because it doesn't have to sit overnight so you can decide to make it on a whim. The sweet caramel sauce on the bottom caramelizes beautifully and when combined with the sweetened orange vanilla custard produces a delicious breakfast casserole. I highly recommend using Whole Food's Challah to make this as it really makes the dish. I served this dish along with Maple Roasted Bacon and Country Hash Browns. This menu would be perfect for a Sunday brunch or just a fun weeknight dinner.

Crème Brulee French Toast

Makes 1 (9x9 inch) casserole

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

12 (1-1/2 inch slices challah bread)

6 eggs

1 cup half and half or whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar

Strawberries and whipped cream for serving.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x9 baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and maple syrup just until the mixture begins to boil and brown, like caramel. Pour into baking dish.

Trim off crusts from bread and arrange evenly over the caramel. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla, salt, orange juice and sugar. Pour over bread.

Let bread soak up liquid for 5 to 10 minutes. Bake for 35 minutes. Cut into square or slices and serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

Source: Whole Foods