Monday, February 28, 2011

Blueberry Rolls!

Messy, but yummy!
       Blueberries are one of my my most favorite fruits - they are just so good in smoothies, crisps, pie, or with yogurt.

  But today, I was wanting to bake cinnamon rolls. Alas, we are out of cinnamon. The horror! However, upon opening the fridge, I spy a lonely little carton of blueberries.

   And thus blueberry rolls were born! Well, I know that they aren't exactly a new recipe...But hey, let me delude myself into thinking I invented these babies. They really are that good. It makes about six huge rolls. I ate 2! Yes 2! Shhhh... No one has to know! I made them with a plain pink glaze, just powdered sugar, half&half, and some red food coloring :D They turn out messy, but cute! If you love cinnamon rolls and blueberries, I've got just the recipe for ya :)

Blueberry Rolls

2 c. flour (I like bread flour)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. margarine/butter
1-2 c. blueberries
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
3 c. powdered sugar
half&half or milk for icing
red food coloring for icing
cooking spray or oil for pan
white sugar for yeast

In a small bowl, add 1 c. not-yet-hot but not lukewarm water with package of yeast, and sprinkle with a pinch or two of white sugar. Wait for yeast to bubble and froth at the surface.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine flour, 1/3 c. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 
and 1/3 c. margarine. Once yeast bubbles, add to flour mixture. Add more flour if necessary. Knead dough 2-3 minutes. Return to bowl, cover with a hot damp cloth, and allow to rise until doubled in size, roughly 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small microwaveable bowl, combine blueberries,  1/3 c. brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds until sugar melts and forms a sauce with the blueberries.
When dough has risen, roll out on floured surface into rectangular shape, and cover in blueberries.
Roll from the top down toward you, like a burrito. Cut into 2-3 inch rolls.
Grease a cake or pie pan. Arrange rolls into pan.
Bake for 20-40 minutes, until golden but not brown.

While rolls are slightly cooling, we can make the frosting.
In a small-medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1-2 drops red food coloring. Slowly add enough half&half until mixture forms a frosting or glaze - whichever you prefer.
Frost the rolls. Serve warm, and enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake

    May I begin by saying that there is no ailment cheesecake cannot cure? Smooth, tangy, cheesy, creamy goodness. Whatever bad mood you're in, it just seems to warm your heart. And hey, if it's good enough for the Golden Girls, it's good enough for me!

       I do prefer a buttery graham cracker crust, but this particular recipe calls for an Oreo crust, which is - not so surprisingly - deeelicious. I purchased the ready-made Oreo crust, but you could make it yourself as well, or experiment with other chocolate cookies. Or just use graham crackers :P 
    For the cheesecake, you melt some white chocolate with half and half, blend it with eggs and cream cheese and bake in the crust. Top with some raspberry pie filling/topping and out comes probably the most tasty cheesecake you'll ever try! Here's a recipe - use with caution: this is extremely addictive.

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake
1 pre-made Oreo pie crust (or 2 c. cookie crumbs and 1/4 c. butter)
2 packages cream cheese, 8 oz. each (softened)
1 package white chocolate chips, 11 oz. or 2 c.
1/2 c. half & half
3 whole eggs
1 can raspberry pie filling, 21 oz.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
If making homemade pie crust, melt butter in microwave. Crush cookies in a bag with a rolling pin, or in a blender. Mix together cookies and butter.
In a medium size saucepan, fill 1/4 of the way full with water, bring to a boil. Melt white chocolate and half & half in a glass bowl above saucepan. DO NOT let water touch bowl. Cook with the steam. (I suppose you could also melt the chocolate and half & half in the microwave - it's probably easier.) 
In a separate bowl, blend soft cream cheese with eggs. To make positive there are no lumps, you could use a blender.
Temper the eggs by spooning a small amount of the melted white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Slowly pour the rest of the white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into pie crust.
I'd recommend a bain-marie (water bath). In an oven pan, fill 1/4 or 1/3 full with hot water. Cover bottom and edges of pie crust pan with foil. Place in center of bain-marie pan and bake.
Bake for 40-60 minutes, until set. Cool and cover with raspberry filling.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Granola

       Granola. Mmm. Crunchy. Healthy - yet delicious. Endless possibilities. You literally could throw anything in it, and it would probably still turn out irresistible. You could also make it extremely unhealthy, if you're not into that whole low-fat thing. 

      My favorite granola is my own chocolate peanut recipe, thrown together one day when I was jonesing bad for something sweet, salty, and crunchy. I had some oats, chocolate chips, salty peanuts, and honey on hand - and voila! I admit, I nearly downed the whole batch all by myself. To this day if anyone wants some, they need to fight me for it - I love it that much.

      Unfortunately, today I didn't have ingredients on hand for my old standby, so I went with some basics I had in the cupboard. Turned out sooo good! Attatched is a basic granola recipe, along with what I used for today's batch.

Basic Granola
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup nuts (I used cocoa roast almonds)
1/2 cup dried fruit (i.e. raisins, cranberries)
1/4 cup honey (or agave, even corn syrup)
2 tbsp. oil, such as canola
1/2 tsp salt
Extras (flaxseed, wheat germ, sunflower seeds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, mix together ingredients. Add more honey if you want a clumpier granola, or for extra sweetness. Spread granola onto cookie sheet or sheet of foil and place in oven. Turn oven to 325 degrees. Bake until golden and crunchy - approx. 45 mins.

       I'd recommend eating granola with some greek yogurt and berries, or with milk on top. Maybe even on oatmeal. Or - if you wanna get real creative, use it as a topping for apple crisp or berry crisp! Like I said, endless possibilities! 

And I promise, one day I shall post my magic granola recipe... Until then :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

    I long have believed that a death by drowning in a pool of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups would be quite the way to go (is that even possible? sign me up to test the theory.). That and dying at 99 during an escapade with my 20-year-old lover. Hey, it could happen. 

    Having said that, you can probably figure that a peanut-y chocolate-y craving occurs frequently over here. When I don't have some Reese's on hand, I really have to improvise. If I'm lucky enough to have ingredients for brownies and some peanut butter on hand, I whip up some swirl brownies. Today I only had the box mix at home. :'( Nothing compares to my homemade brownies, but I do admit, there's a chewiness to box brownie mix that you can't quite replicate at home.

   I did not want to wait for my sweets fix, so thank goodness this was quick and easy to make. I mixed up the brownies as directed on the box, then I took my tub 'o peanut buttah (there wasn't much left of it) and made it a little more runny by adding milk. I swirled that onto the brownies, and baked until the edges cooked and the center was gooey! :D

      Probably ate a little too much, but if you can convince yourself that chocolate and peanut butter are good for you, you're all set!

Hello, there!

You know you want some.

       Someone else please make these. Solidarity! Make me feel less guilty for eating them. Or maybe I'll feel more guilty for having turned you onto this stuff? Muahahahaha!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Great Cake Balls of fire!

      Today, I learned that a foodie should never go into Michaels unless she has a lot of money to spare. You could literally spend your life's savings in there. Damn their cute little knick-knacks that are absolutely frivolous yet completely, irresistibly...necessary! I was born with the lucky good gene of willpower, and stopped myself before going overboard in the seemingly endless aisles of loveliness.

      Before I stopped myself, however, I was able to snag everything (well, almost everything) I needed to make some cake balls. Cake balls?? What is that? And why do I feel the need to take a cold shower now? Well, now that the 13-year-old boys have left the computer due to fits of laughter, I can tell you what these little beauties are. 
      Cake balls are made by baking a cake - any flavor/kind - and mixing them with enough frosting to make a pliable mixture, which is then rolled into balls by hand. These balls are then dipped (or rolled) in a melted candy coating like Almond Bark, in a similar fashion to making truffles. You can drizzle chocolate on top, cover them in sprinkles, or decorate them with royal icing - whatever suits your fancy. Since it is around Valentines Day, I decided to go with a pink strawberry cake, strawberry frosting, and vanilla flavored Almond Bark. 

       If your mouth is watering, and you would like to make these for Valentines Day, or just to pop in your mouth for snack or dessert, I'll teach you how step-by-step (day-by-day...sorry, I had to...)

     You will need:

1 box cake mix (any kind/flavor you like)
1 tub of frosting (preferably complementing cake flavor)
1 package of candy coating like Almond Bark
Sprinkles, icing, decorations, etc.

Prepare the cake as directed on the box.

Cool cake. 
When cooled, crumble into a bowl, and mix in enough frosting until mixture is firm yet pliable to the hands.

Roll cake mixture into bite-sized balls.

In a microwave-safe bowl, empty contents of candy coating and melt as directed on package.

Place one cake ball into bowl containing melted candy bark. Roll using two forks until coated.

Continue with all of the balls.

Time to decorate! I sprinkled on some Valentines Day-themed sprinkles, but decorate them however you feel.

I chose to wrap them in little clear baggies, tie them with ribbon and put them into a gift box. I am sending my sister with these to her work, and sending out my blog, email and phone. I hope these can put me at least a little into the market. I am hoping to start doing this more seriously.

Enjoy, and happy baking!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black Bean Brownies: Ew? I think not!!

      Let me begin by informing you that everything is indeed delicious with Ghirardelli chocolate. Anything. Now I've been hearing about these 'black bean brownies' for quite a while, and whilst they did seem like a healthier way to get my chocoholic-chocolatey-chocolate fix, it is kinda hard to get past the fact that they are black beans. No matter how delicious they are wrapped in a burrito, or folded into some paella or arroz con pollo, they are black beans! Putting them into something sweet??? Are you nuts? I mean, I have myself said that Tabasco sauce is so almost orgasmically delightful that it would taste good even on ice cream, but does that mean I'm crazy enough to try it? Not quite.

    Well thank goodness I tried these little babies! Not only did they turn out fudgy and thick, but they've got absolutely zero black bean flavor trail (to the untrained palette I suppose). They're an almost dairy free and totally guilt free way to indulge your sweet tooth, without indulging your scale.

Smothered in a quickly improvised Ghirardelli frosting.

       If you are feeling daring and want to cross into the dark side, the brownies await you. Recipe found here.

Coming soon-ish, I shall reveal the meaning of life. Until then, these brownies shall suffice.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meatless Irish Stew

         Due to the constant cold, gloomy weather here in Oregon, I've been having a major craving for some good old stew. Not only is it cheap, but it's easy to make. Just plop the ingredients in the pan and simmer away until, tada! You've got a steaming pot of rich, glorious, almost gravy-like soup that fills all the little holes in your heart that the cold weather might have stolen.

      My stew of choice was a sort of Irish stew. Partly because I had already bought a Guinness draught that I hadn't quite found use for yet. I considered some beer-chocolate cupcakes, but I figured my family wouldn't quite appreciate it if I scarfed the whole end product and left them with crumbs. I am a sweets girl. 

   The recipe was simple.. You can choose whatever veggies you like for the stew, but some staples of Irish stew are potatoes, cabbage and leeks. The recipe below, however, includes the veggies I chose.

Meatless Irish Stew

1 bottle Guinness Draught Beer
1 carton vegetable broth
1-2 parmesan rinds (optional)
1 bunch leeks
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 bag baby potatoes, cleaned and halved
1/2 or 1 bag baby carrots
1/2 head of green cabbage
Handful of button mushrooms
Various whole herbs, sage/thyme/rosemary etc. (whatever you like)
Butter and/or olive oil, for sauteeing.
Salt to taste.
Parmesan and bread to serve.

In a large pot, add 1-2 tbsp. butter or olive oil. Heat to medium-high and wait until butter is melted. Add potatoes, carrots and herbs. Sautee until potatoes have a slight golden crust. Add beer. Add the rest of the ingredients except for salt. Turn to high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer until potatoes are fork tender - around 45-60 mins. Add salt to your liking. Remove whole herbs and parmesan rind. Serve with crusty bread and parmesan sprinkled on top.

      My dessert of choice was the eggless, milkless and butterless Crazy Cake (a favorite during the Depression). Recipe found here.