Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Week + Wisdom Teeth

Happy almost Thanksgiving!
I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday, all four of them. I'm still pretty loopy, and this post may reflect that :P

I made these brownies two weeks ago, for Chris's last football game. We've decided to start eating healthier, so these were our last hurrah- he requested "quadruple bypass brownies," and these were the most fattening I could think of.

These are my favorite brownies plus peanut butter yumness. If you're looking to mix it up this Thanksgiving, bring these to the table! I'm willing to bet you already have most of the ingredients in your house. I doubled the recipe and made a variety of sizes- one 9" round cake pan, a dozen mini cupcakes and a dozen regular cupcakes. Whenever I double recipes, I still make them in separate batches. Bad experiences... But it's your call! 
Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
Reeses Peanut Butter Cups- 4-6 (up to you)
Unsalted butter- 1 1/4 c (2 1/2 sticks)
Sugar- 2 1/2 c
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 1 1/2 c + 4 tbsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Large eggs- 4, cold
Flour- 1 c
{Peanut Butter Frosting- adapted from}
Butter- 1/2 c (1 stick)
Creamy peanut butter- 1 c
Powdered sugar- 2 c
Cream- 1/3 c
1. Chop peanut butter cups into small pieces and stick in freezer (~10-15 minutes).
2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (on medium heat) and stir until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot.
3. Remove bowl from saucepan and let cool for ~5 minutes. 
4. Stir in vanilla with a spoon or spatula; add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. At this point it should look shiny and thick. 
5. Stir in flour until completely blended, then stir vigorously, ~40 strokes.
6. Prep baking pans. If using a cake pan, line with aluminum foil. If using cupcake tins, line with paper cupcake liners (give 'em a quick hit of Pam to make it easier to peel after baking).
7. Baking pans: spread batter evenly and press chopped up peanut butter cups into the middle. Cupcake tins: spoon batter 1/2 full of each tin, then press peanut butter cups in the middle, then cover with additional batter.
8. Bake at 325 degrees F for ~20 minutes (pan) or ~15 minutes (tins). 
{Peanut Butter Frosting}
9. Cream butter and peanut butter on medium speed in an electric mixing bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar, then cream, until you reach the desired consistency. I wanted mine to be thin so as not to overpower the brownies. 
Enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Glazed Apple Cider Donuts

These donuts are wonderful!
I can't even put words together to describe their amazingness.

This is not a quick recipe. You'll need to block out at least 2 hours to do 'em right, and trust me, you want to do 'em right.

Make these this weekend. Enjoy a couple, then get them the heck out of your kitchen, because you will want to eat ALL of them. Not that this comes from experience or anything...

Apple Cider Donuts
Slightly adapted from The Washington Post via Ambrosia Baking
Yield: ~2 dozen donuts + donut holes
Apple cider- 1 c + 2 tbsp, separated
All-purpose flour- 3 1/2, plus extra for the work surface
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Baking soda- 1 tsp
Ground cinnamon- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Ground nutmeg- 1/8 tsp
Unsalted butter- 4 tbsp, room temp
Granulated sugar- 1 c
Large eggs- 2, room temp
Buttermilk- 1/2 c
Powdered sugar- 1 c
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. Pour 1 c apple cider into a small saucepan, and cook over medium or medium-low heat until it is reduced to about 1/4 c, ~20-30 minutes. Take off the heat and stick in the fridge to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg, and whisk together. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
4. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the reduced apple cider and buttermilk, mixing only until just combined.
5. Add the flour mixture to the batter, and continue to mix just until combined- be careful not to overbeat!
6. Line a baking sheet with wax paper, and sprinkle with flour. Scoop the dough onto the sheet, and sprinkle with more flour; flatten with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Stick the sheet in the freezer until it has hardened slightly, ~20-30 minutes.
7. Pull dough out of the freezer, and cut the donuts using a donut cutter. Place on another baking sheet lined with wax paper, and stick in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
8. Add vegetable oil to a deep-sided pan- the oil should reach about 3 inches high. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F (use a candy thermometer). Have a plate or two ready lined with paper towels.
9. While the oil is heating, make the apple cider glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp apple cider until smooth. A little extra apple cider might be necessary; you don't want this glaze to be too thick.
10. When the oil is heated, carefully add two or three donuts to the pot (depending on the size of the pot). The fry time will vary, I had them in the pot for 1 1/2 minutes on average. Don't let them get darker than golden brown. Remove from oil and put on paper towel-lined plate to drain. Dip warm donuts in the glaze, and serve immediately.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Healthy Food

I cannot take pictures of the food I'm writing about because I'm currently stuffing my face with it.
I'm deviating from my typical sugar-and-butter-fest to tell you about something healthy. That's right, healthy.

It's called Crispy Autumn Kale Salad, and it's from my favorite food blog, How Sweet It Is.

Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, get the hankies ready. Your baby officially loves salad.

After 21 years of HATING vegetables, I have finally found a salad that I find delightful. And a green leafy vegetable I actually get along with!

As the great Ron Swanson once said about salad, "as I am not a rabbit, no I will not have any."
I'm pretty sure even Ron Swanson would love this salad
Seriously, don't ask questions, just go get the ingredients for this salad.
Crispy Autumn Kale Salad
1 large bunch of kale, torn from stems and torn into pieces
Olive oil- 2 tsp
Fresh apple cider- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Pepper- 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg- 1/4 tsp
2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 shallot, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 honeycrisp apple, peeled and diced
Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
Pine nuts- 1/4 c
Goat cheese- 2 oz, crumbled
Pomegranate arils- 1/4 c (Note: don't handle a pomegranate while wearing anything but dark clothes)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place kale in a large bowl and massage with olive oil, apple cider, 1/8 tsp salt, nutmeg and pepper, for 1-2 minutes.
2. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes. Toss well and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes until slightly crispy but not golden.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until crispy and the fat is rendered (~2 minutes), then remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
4. Add shallot, garlic, sweet potatoes and apples to the skillet, and toss with cinnamon and remaining salt and nutmeg. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.
5. In a small saucepan, add pine nuts and toast over low heat for 5-6 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Set aside.
6. Combine kale with apples and sweet potatoes, pine nuts, goat cheese and pomegranate arils.
7. Stuff your face.

We'll go back to the super-bad-for-you-and-your-heart recipes tomorrow :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Hello friends!
I hope everyone who was in Hurricane Sandy's path is okay. We got a little rain and wind in the Shenandoah Valley, nothing major. My thoughts are with all of you who were affected.
Sorry I've been MIA. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are reeeaaalllyyy intense and stressful. Oy vey. I'm locking myself in my apartment for the next 48 hours. Meep.
I made this delicious cheesecake last weekend. There are several steps, but it's fairly easy. And it's amazing!
It's the perfect way to continue my apple kick. I'm making apple cider donuts tomorrow. Yum.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Crust, cheesecake, apples, streusel courtesy of Closet Cooking; Caramel sauce courtesy of Southern Living via Dough Puncher
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 stick), room temp
Brown sugar- 1/4 c, tightly packed
Salt- 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
Sugar- 1/4 c
Cream cheese- 8 oz
1 large egg
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
*2 Granny Smith apples- peeled, cored, cut into bite sized pieces
Sugar- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg- 1/8 tsp
{Streusel Topping}
Unsalted butter- 6 tbsp, room temp
Flour- 1/2 c
Old-fashioned oats- 1/2 c
Brown sugar- 1/2 c, tightly packed
Cinnamon- 1/4 tsp
{Caramel Sauce}
Brown sugar- 1 c, tightly packed
Butter- 1/2 c
Whipping cream or evaporated milk- 1/4 c
Honey or maple syrup- 1/4 c
1. Combine butter, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and rub together until crumbly.
2. Press the mixture into the bottom of an **8x8 inch baking dish lined with foil.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown, then set aside and let cool.
4. Beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth.
5. Beat in the egg followed by the vanilla.
6. Pour mixture into the baking dish on top of the crust.
7. Mix the apples, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle on top of the cream cheese layer.
{Streusel Topping}
8. Combine butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and rolled oats and rub together until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the apples.
9. Bake at 350 degrees F until the cheesecake has set, about 25-35 minutes. Let cool.
{Caramel Sauce}
10. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
11. Spread caramel sauce over cheesecake.
*I only had Fuji apples, so I reduced the amount of sugar in the apple mixture to just 1 tbsp.
**I used a 9x13 pan and it worked fine.

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