Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

As Christmas preparations wind down (or maybe speed up in a frenzy), here is an easy to make candy for gift giving or to have on your Christmas buffet ~

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Bottom layer ~ line a 8 x 8 baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil and melt together ~

1 - 4 oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate bar
1 - 4 oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar 60% Cacao

When melted, stir in 1 tsp peppermint extract and pour into the bottom of the lined baking pan.  Chill to harden.

When chilled melt ~

2 - 4 oz Ghirardelli White Chocolate bars

When completely melted, stir in 1/2 tsp canola oil and spead over chilled chocolate in the pan.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed candy canes on top and chill.  When cool, cut into small bite-size pieces.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chocolate Pizzelles

It's the weekend before Christmas and I'm finishing up my baking and adding the finishing touches to gifts.  These are one of things on my making list and they turned out delicious but I'll admit I did have some problems making perfectly round cookies.  I'm thinking about making Nutella sandwiches with them so odds are the slight imperfections will not be noticed.

Chocolate Pizzelles

3 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz chocolate, melted and slightly cooled ~ I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
3/4 sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream together eggs, oil, vanilla, cooled chocolate and sugar.  Add in flour and baking powder.  Make pizzelles per your manufacturer's instructions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turkey Broth

The thermometer said 16 but the wind chill was much colder and my car needed gas.  My way to warm up after that was to heat a cup of turkey broth that I had made on the weekend (and froze a bunch for later use) with a couple of dashes of Frank's Hot Sauce in it.  There's been a lot of new studies conducted on the benefits of bone broths to your joints and other areas.  I grew up with my mom making pots of beef broth and it was time I started making some of my own.  I use it all the time for recipes but forgot how comforting having a cup or bowl was. It was the perfect time to make it because my work had given away turkeys for Thanksgiving.  I'm not a dark meat fan so it took a couple minutes to break down the turkey and the breast was heading to the oven later on in the day.  It was a 13 pound bird so it made lots of broth.

Turkey Broth

Approximately 6.5" turkey dark meat, including legs
9 gallons water
1 onion, skin removed and cut in quarters
4 carrots, rough chopped
2 stalks of celery, rough chopped
1 head of garlic, halved
2 bay leaves
1 - 15 oz can tomatoes, drained

Bring the turkey and water to almost a boil.  Skim off the foam and add in the remaining ingredients.  Turn down the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 3 hours at least.  Strain the broth through a fine sieve.  Refrigerate and skim off any fat.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hamburger Wild Rice Hotdish

Another foggy day but considering it could be below 0 temperatures, 46 degrees is looking pretty good even with the fog.  I happened to have a package of white & wild rice on my kitchen counter and a pound of ground beef in the refrigerator so I decided to make a Minnesota comfort food staple ~ hotdish (or a casserole for everyone not from the upper plains area).  

Hamburger Wild Rice Hotdish

2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
1 cup wild & long grain rice
1 pound ground beef, seasoned and cooked
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup carrots, diced1 tbsp celery flakes
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth and butter to a boil.  Add in the rice, stir, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a half hour or until the water/broth has been absorbed.  Stir in the milk and sour cream.  Mix in the remainder of the ingredients and placed in a greased casserole.  Bake for a half hour at 350°.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Italian Cheese Ball

It's a football weekend here in the valley.  Congratulations Bison on your win today.  What better snack to watch football or any other sporting event with than a cheese ball?  Today's was a combination of 3 Italian cheeses.

Italian Cheese Ball

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano

1 tbsp parsley
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Mix together softened cream cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Add in the garlic and spices. Shape into a ball shape in bowl and cover
with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove and roll in chopped

Return to refrigerator. Remove 15 minutes before
serving.  Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

Growing up, hot fudge pudding cake was always a treat.  The crunchy cake top with the warm, thick pudding below topped with melting ice cream.  Decadent, sure but so worth it as occasional winter dessert.  I tweaked my family recipe slightly.

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

Bottom layer ~

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark cocoa (I used King Arthur Flour Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa)
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp canola oil

Mix together in a bowl and spread into a greased 9 x 9 pan.

Top with ~

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa

Combine in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Pour 1 3/4 cup of hot water on top.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mac and Italian Cheese

My refrigerator is always well stocked with cheese.  Lately there's been an abundance of Italian cheese and what better way to use them than with a comforting mac and cheese.  Extra creamy thanks to the Mascarpone and Fontina with a touch of saltiness from the Parmesan.

Mac and Italian Cheese

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour

1 small garlic clove, grated
2 cups milk
2 cups Cavatappi, or your favorite pasta
4 oz Mascarpone, room temperature
8 oz Fontina, grated

1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 4 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Allow to cook for a minute before adding in the grated garlic.  Cook for another minute.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in cheeses.

In a casserole, put cooked Cavatappi and cheese sauce.
In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp butter.  Add in Panko bread crumbs and spices.  Top macaroni mixture.

Servings: 8

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes