Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caramel Pecan Brownies

Here's another quick variation on a boxed brownie mix. It takes a little longer to bake than a regular brownie but I think it's worth the extra time. I've made it with caramel ice cream topping and again with the Kraft caramel pieces that you can get in a bag by the chocolate chips. They both work but I liked the caramel pieces better so for me it will be worth the advance planning to pick a bag of those little goodies up.

Also, USE PARCHMENT PAPER. If you don't you will lose all the edges as they bake to the pan in a solid chunk of brownie flavored toffee. Not that I know that firsthand or anything...

Caramel Pecan Brownies

1 brownie mix, 13x9 size
1 bag caramel pieces or 3/4 jar ice cream topping
1 cup pecan chunks (we prefer the smaller cookie pieces but any pecans would work...halves would be like turtle brownies)

Mix brownie mix according to package directions.

Line pan with parchment. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the pan and spread until it's even. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min or until the center of the brownie is firmly set.

Remove from oven and pour caramel over baked brownie. Sprinkle pecans over the caramel. Pour reserved brownie batter over the caramel and nuts and bake for an additional 25 mins.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Post linked to:
Themed Baker's Sunday

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raspberry Cheesecake Pie

I LOVE cheesecake but I am inherently lazy and if you add that to the whole "intimidated by the water bath/springform pan" issue that I had going on it adds up to I'm limited to the cheesecake I can get at a restaurant or Sam's Club. Now neither of those options is a bad one necessarily but this weekend I decided to break out of my rut and try something new. I was assigned dessert for a family dinner yesterday and after spending some time on allrecipes.com I felt like I could venture forth without too much trauma.

I don't own a springform pan so I used graham cracker pie crusts (easy, ssshhh) and added a Raspberry Lime Sauce over the cream. I ate mine without the cream and personally I think that was better. I may have another piece for breakfast.... Oh, the sauce would also be yum over ice cream or yogurt and my dad put some over his brownie so there is definitely some versatility there.

The picture is iffy because it was my brother in law's serving that I snapped with my iPhone before it was completely gone. :) I'll work on a better one but I'm amused by this one so it may get to stay.

Raspberry Cheesecake Pie
adapted from allrecipes.com
servings 10

1 graham cracker pie crust (use the big 10 inch one)
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 T. milk
2 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. flour
1/2 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup raspberries divided
whipped cream if desired

In a blender, combine cottage cheese and milk; cover and process until smooth. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in cottage cheese mixture, flour and vanilla. Beat in eggs just until blended. Pour into pie crust (pie will be full). Sprinkle with 1/2 c. raspberries; gently press into filling with the back of a spoon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the center is almost set (cover the edges with foil if they are browning too quickly). Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Top with whipped cream and remaining berries.

Raspberry Lime Sauce

1 pint raspberries (I used frozen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. cornstarch
1 cup cold water

Combine the berries, sugar and juice in a saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water until smooth. Add the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Simmer for about 5 minutes stirring constantly, until the desired consistency is reached. The sauce will thicken a bit more as it cools.

Puree the sauce in a blender and strain it through a fine sieve. Serve warm or cold. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Melon Salad

It's been a crazy summer around here so cooking hasn't been a huge priority. I made this salad for a BBQ about a month ago and it was really good so I figured I should throw it up here before you can't find melon anymore... I will maybe cut down on the mint just a bit next time but overall it was good, especially after it had had a chance to sit for a couple of hours. Plan ahead, it's worth it

Melon Salad
approx 8 servings
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups (approx) watermelon balls (chunks will obviously work as well)
3 1/2 cups (approx) canteloupe balls
1/3-1/2 cup mint leaves packed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp amaretto opt.

Directions:
Begin by making the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over med. heat. Bring to a low simmer and stir, making sure that all sugar is dissolved. It should only take a couple of minutes of simmering. The liquid will thicken slightly and should remain clear. Remove from heat and let cool. (Remember you are only using a portion of this syrup. Refrigerate the remainder for a few days for use in another recipe)

Cut melon into either balls or chunks. Place in large mixing bowl and set aside.

Once the syrup is cooled, blend 1/4 cup of the simple syrup, mint, lemon juice and amaretto in a blender until mint is finely chopped.

Pour the mixture over the melon pieces and combine well.

Serve right away or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Salsa

It's been a while since I posted a recipe and I have a couple that I just haven't gotten to yet but today is salsa day and it's worthy of a repost. I rarely make the same version twice...I guess I'm still tweaking it for the perfect jar but this version is getting close. The original recipe was posted a year ago, I'll just post the orginal recipe and today's modifications for now.

Salsa
10 quarts of tomatoes, skinned and chopped
6 c. onions chopped
4 cans (small) diced green chilies
1 large green pepper chopped
1 1/2 c. jalapeno peppers chopped fine (I usually leave most of the ribs and seeds)
1/2 c. vinegar
1/4 c. sugar (you may need more depending on how ripe your tomatoes are)
4 T. salt
4 t. oregano
4 t. cumin
1 large handful cilantro chopped (a couple T if using dried)
5-6 cloves garlic (sometimes I leave this out if I don't have fresh)
1/2 c. oil
12 oz. tomato paste
1 t. crushed red pepper
Tabasco (to fine tune the heat at the end if needed)

Blanch the tomatoes and slip the skins. Seed if desired. I run mine through the blender quickly because my family doesn't do chunks very well. Mix all together and simmer until desired consistency (1 1/2-2 hours). Fill jars and adjust lids. Process in water bath for 45 min or in a pressure cooker on 15 lbs for 10 minutes.

10-2-10 Update
5 1/2  blenders full of tomatoes (1/2 bushel)
6 1/2 c. onion
4 cans green chiles
8 small jalepenos-leave ribs and seeds
2 med Anaheim peppers
4 Serano Peppers w/ribs and seeds
2 lg green peppers
1/2 c vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. lime juice
4 T. salt
4 t. oregano
5 t. cumin
1 bunch cilantro chopped
 2 t. red pepper flakes
4 heaping t. garlic powder
12 oz tomato paste

Yum. :)