Feb 28, 2011

Dark Chocolate Meringue Hearts with Caramelized bananas, Marshmallow fluff and Peanut Brittle

"Don't be a stingy little mama
You're 'bout to starve me half to death
Well you can spare a kiss or two and
Still have plenty left..."
  I've had Elvis in my head for the last four days. Its true.  Ive been annoying everyone including myself with my incessant singing of a Big Hunk of Love.  To make matters worse, I have never been an Elvis fan per Se.(My general dislike might stem from the fact that my the only time I was ever in Memphis I couldn't afford to visit Graceland...) Regardless, the king was on my mind when I was thinking about what I would make for this months Dessert Wars Challenge.  Last month I really brought it with my challenge so I knew this month I needed to come up with something to top homemade Nutella.  I brainstormed all month practically and even made a dessert that while was delicious was about as unappealing as well.. a big hunk of love. (BTW, screw you heart inside cupcakes, screw you!). What I came up with was a mouth full I might even say it got me all shook up.  If I was going to go farther I would say it had me throwing on my blue suede shoes and walking my hound dog and dancing to the jail house rock. (Did you have any doubt I was going to go farther?)
Without further adieu:

Dark Chocolate Meringue Hearts
6 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the egg whites in the cleaned bowl, beat at high speed until stiff. This process with take almost 8 minutes. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat. Slowly add the sugar. Remove the beaters and fold in the cocoa powder using a rubber spatula.
Using a piping bag pipe hearts onto the lined tray. Bake on the middle shelf for one hour and then turn off the oven and DON'T open the door for an hour! (DON'T DO IT, even though I know you want to!)
Did you really think I would stop there?

     Dark Chocolate Meringue Hearts with Caramelized Vanilla Bananas, marshmallow fluff , Dark chocolate syrup and Peanut brittle also known as " the Elvis."
     Each bite of this was a little bit of heaven. Seriously. The meringue and the brittle added a bit of crunch to break up the sweet soft texture of the bananas and the fluff and each bite honestly seemed to melt on our mouth.
Caramelized Vanilla Bananas
3 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup light rum
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add bananas and saute until they turn brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar and vanilla over the bananas and cook until the sugar melts, about another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour rum into skillet; ignite with a match and let the flames die out pour into meringues and top with a bit of marshmallow fluff, dark chocolate sauce and homemade peanut brittle.
     Thanks again to the wonderful hosts Reeni and Momma Cupcake!
Please see below for the wonderful list of prizes!
p.s. Do you think next month we could have a challenge of something that isn't brown? Taking pictures of brown things sucks my will to live!!!!

The February prize package includes:

Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
The Smartshopper Electronic Grocery List Organizer
Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans
Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes
Endless Vanilla and Cinnamon Extract
Unlimited Layers: A Recipe for Turning Your Passion into Profits
Organic Valley $50 Gift Certificate
Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate
Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate
BEKA Cookware Crepe Pan

Dessert Wars


Feb 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge: Panna Cotta and Florentines

First and foremost I LOVED THIS CHALLENGE! It was so fun and inspirational.  The hardest part of this challenge was deciding what flavors and combinations to make!
Originally I wanted to make SA the panna cotta and Florentines for Valentine's day, but life got in the way and I ended up procrastinating on the panna cotta.
The first Florentines I made I ended up opting to skip the chocolate and instead used melted cinnamon chips between the two cookies.  AMAZINGLY good.  Buttery, cinnamony and crunchy, some of my favorite traits in a dessert.
Cinnamon Florentines
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets. While the cookies are cooling melt your cinnamon chips until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stove top (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl). Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean). Spread a tablespoon of cinnamon on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the cinnamon.

Then we had a little dinner get together.  It was completely on the fly and I just served soup so I decided to really impress with the dessert.  It was time to bust out the panna cotta.
I ended up making a coffee scented cinnamon panna cotta with dulce de leche and white chocolate Florentines.  I wanted them to taste like caramel macchiatos.  I think I succeeded and they were well received by the friends we had over.

Coffee scented Cinnamon Panna Cotta
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet)  unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
8 coffee beans or 1 tsp. instant coffee granules

Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
Pour the milk and coffee beans or granules into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes.
Next, add the cream,cinnamon, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.
For the panna cotta I simply layered it with a layer of dulce de leche at the bottom, panna cotta and then more dulce de leche on top. For homemade dulce de leche please use this recipe.

Blog-checking lines: The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Feb 23, 2011

Pecan Pie Muffins

SA and I are trying to cut back on our spending so of course one of the first places to feel the crunch is our grocery budget. Grant it we live like two foodies who have no kids.  That being said, its probably a good place to cut back a smidgen.  I was a good girl.  I went to the store the other day and only spent $50.62 on seven days worth of food for us.  What does that mean? Well for one, less meat. (Not a bad thing!) and for two less of a budget for snack type things.  So far this has been fine and I have just made homemade hummus and carrot sticks, but tonight the sweet attack came over me.  Some days you just need that little sweet bite.  SA could go forever without anything except for ice cream but I love decadent tooth achingly sweet treats and one of my favorites is pecan pie.  Tonight, however, SA and I were on snow watch 2011 and indulging in a do nothing night watching Serenity and nerding out at its space opera wonderfulness and I had no time for what I was craving: Pecan Pie.
A quick google had me making these delightful gems and then reveling in both their simplicity and DELICIOUSNESS. Omg. I never thought a muffin could taste like a pie.  It's like two wonderful things rolled into one!
and as a side note:  These muffins taste even better while watching Serenity/Firefly.

Pecan Pie Muffins
delightfully borrowed and modified from
1 cup chopped pecans
1cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Pour into paper lined muffin tins and cook for approximately 15 minutes.

Feb 21, 2011

Moosewood Mondays---Rumpledethumps

I'm usually not really into the themed blogging days, but when I saw that Living in the Kitchen with Puppies  was doing a Moosewood Monday's day I was all for it.  I have loved the Moosewood books since I was a kid.  I would look through my Mom's reading the recipes (or just looking at the pictures when I was young!) and plan entire menus from the books my Mom had.  Now that I have my own Moosewood collection I still love to pull out recipes and make  incredibly delicious dishes from them.  Admittedly my favorite is apple crisp that you use orange juice in!
Tonight I wanted to keep our dinner quick, stocked full of veggies and...quick! I have been meaning to try this and I wasn't disappointed with it. SA left a sad little pile of cabbage on his plate and choose that moment to let me know he doesn't like steamed cabbage (too bad!) Funny name, but serious dinner! (forgive the picture, I know its not the best, but I was hungry!)


5 large potatoes (2-2 ½ pounds)
2 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
2 leeks, washed and chopped  * I omitted them :(
21/2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon mace
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup milk
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese

Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and boil them in salted water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the cabbage, leeks, and broccoli. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir in the mace. Mix this seasoned butter and salt and pepper to taste into the steamed vegetables.
Drain the potatoes and mash with 2 more tablespoons butter, the milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the seasoned vegetables and mix evenly. Spread in an oiled 13x9-inch baking pan. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the potato mixture. Sprinkle the top with the grated cheese. Place under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.


Feb 20, 2011

Garlic-Cheese Crusted Chicken and Savory Garlic Cream Pasta

Sometimes chicken is well... boring.  I mean don't get me wrong you can dress it up about a million different ways and parade it around but still it kind of bores me. This recipe however was anything but boring and stemmed from the fact that I saw asparagus in the store again. Oh and the fact that I went to look at fresh pasta in the cheese section (does that make sense?) and saw a new product from Philadelphia Cream Cheese that I really wanted to try.  Normally I'm not into fast fixes or shortcut kind of ingredients, but I do love me some cream cheese and I figured it would hurt to give it a try.  The end result was delicious and a recipe I will be going back to many, many times, I am sure!

Garlic-Cheese Crusted Chicken and Savory Garlic Cream with asparagus, tomatoes and basil pasta
1/3 cup melted butter

2 Tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 cup panko
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
     Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Combine melted butter with garlic and in another bowl combine panko with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, Parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Dip chicken in butter mixture and then in crumb mixture. Place in prepared baking dish and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Savory Garlic Cream with asparagus, tomatoes and basil pasta

2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 a pound of fresh asparagus cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tomato diced
1clove of garlic diced
1/2 onion diced finely
1 container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme Savory Garlic flavor
Cooked Pasta (reserve about 1/2 cup of cooking water)
shredded basil

In a skillet over medium high heat melt butter and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add in asparagus and cook until desired done-ness.  Mix in one container of Philadelphia cooking creme savory garlic and 1/2 a cup of reserved cooking water.  Heat without allowing it to boil, stirring frequently about five minutes or warm and then mix in diced tomatoes.  Serve over pasta and top with shredded basil.

Just to add in, I am by no means being paid by Philadelphia cream cheese, or Kraft, I just was intrigued by the ingredient!

Feb 14, 2011

Red Velvet Chicken Tenders

     First and foremost, HAPPY Valentine's Day to everyone out there in blogland! Second of all, could you ask for a more perfect Valentine? I'm not gonna lie, SA only got this picture because I was holding up a bit of cream cheese mashed potatoes over his head. Our golden Curry is the epitome of love and I just had to share.

     SA and I don't really go all out for Valentine's day, its not our thing.  Now don't get me wrong, we aren't one of those couples that bemoan all aspects of Valentine's, but nor are we ones that go buck wild for the holiday.  We have a system: one year I plan what we do for Valentine's and the next SA plans it all.  This year was SA's and I woke up to:
                                                                clings on the mirror!
                                                              Flowers and an Itunes gift card!
                                             and the best most quirky from my artistic husbands mind:
Yes friends, that is my sink.  Yes that is cinnamon toothpaste spelling out UR LOVED (with hearts). Yes, I adore my darling creative husband and I'm not gonna lie, through the cinnamon haze, I "might" of teared up a little.  He is the best.
     So that being said, how could I not make him something creative and amazing for dinner tonight.  Emphasis on creative. Thus I give to you:

Red Velvet Cake Fried Chicken Tenders
1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 drops of red food coloring
1 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 pound of chicken tenders
Flour for dredging
Canola Oil

Combine all ingredients except chicken tenders, blending until smooth and non lumpy. Heat Frying oil and dredge tenders in flour then dip in red velvet cake batter. Fry six minutes and flip half way.
Serve with cream cheese mashed potatoes.
Now I admit I am a bit embarrassed by this recipe... I mean red velvet cake on a chicken tender? How unhealthy could we get? But I will say, we only had two a piece and no dessert even on Valentines day! (So friends while this recipe might be what is wrong with America, it is all about portion control!)

And SA, just so you know:


Feb 13, 2011

Keeping the Southern Girl Card Biscuits

     Food blogging is a funny thing.  For me reading food blogs is kinda like going to the store on an empty stomach.  I like to sit down and read the new blog posts when I come home from work, but sometimes this can be detrimental to my own cooking plans! Its hard when you read about other peoples successes and look at their drool worthy pictures.  All of a sudden your simple meal is lack luster, or you start obsessing about making something that they made on their blog.  For me it was biscuits.
     Now for most people biscuits aren't a big deal, but for me they are up there with pancakes(highly desirable and one of the few things I absolutely SUCK at making!) I swear I almost lost my Southern Girl Card over not being able to make them, but Rachel over at Bakingtruehappiness (go check her out, her blog is new but her breads rock!~) made some delightful looking biscuits and got me thinking about biscuits. So much so that I had to make them! I researched recipes online until I found the one that I thought would give me what I wanted (tall flaky biscuits) and then decided that I wanted to add buttermilk. The end result was the best biscuits I have ever made and a DEFINITE keeper recipe!
(And yes people, I dorked out and made flower shaped biscuits---in my defense, I was inspired by Rachel's heart shaped ones.)

Keepin the Southern Girl Card Biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup butter -- let partially freeze and then grate with cheese grater!
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. With a knife or pastry cutter cut in, flour, baking powder, cream of tartar,salt, sugar and margarine. Cut in until it becomes course and crumbly. Whip together milk and egg with a fork. Mix with the flour mixture until it forms a soft dough. Add flour if the dough is too sticky. I made a well and stirred it as little as possible. Roll out dough with a rolling pin to about 11/2 to 2 inch thickness. I think mine were about an inch. Next time I am going to push it to the 1.5.
Cut out the biscuits. (I made flowers!) Place biscuits on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. (mine took 14-15) Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes and brush the tops with a bit of melted butter.

p.s. if you have been wondering why I haven't been blogging as much it is because I sprained my wrist and typing pretty much sucked my will to live!