Sunday, November 25, 2012

macaroni and cheese...My Favorite!



Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Mine was pretty great. I spent the day with my best friend, Sam, her sister and mother.

This mac and cheese was the dish I brought and it's my favorite!

The recipe is actually from Dino BBQ, a barbecue restaurant in New York. It isn't your traditional mac and cheese with an egg and milk--instead, it asks for onions, green peppers and garlic as a base and then an additional 4 types of cheeses. Yum!

This recipe is incredibly easy to make and whenever I bring it to an event, it is a hit! Hope you enjoy! :)


Macaroni and Cheese from Dino BBQ (I halve this recipe)
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 1⁄2 cup onion, diced
3⁄4 cup green pepper, diced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 ounces flour
3 cups water
3 cups half-and-half
14 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 ounces Colby cheese, grated
10 ounces American cheese, grated
4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons French’s mustard (i used dijon and that worked fine)
2 teaspoons white vinegar (i used white wine vinegar and that worked fine)
1 & 1⁄2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 pound elbow macaroni (you can make more to make this recipe less rich)

Topping:
8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and peppers; cook until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in flour.

2. Add water and half-and-half. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree this mixture until it is smooth (I ALWAYS USE A REGULAR BLENDER)

3. Slowly add cheeses to warm pureed mixture, making sure all cheese is melted before adding more. Once cheese is completely melted, add salt, lemon pepper, sugar, mustard, vinegar and Tabasco. Stir to combine.

4. Cook 1 pound of dried elbow macaroni in boiling water. Cook until al dente, not completely soft.

5. Combine hot, cooked pasta and sauce in large mixing bowl; stir well to combine. Pour entire mixture into a greased 10-inch-by-12-inch pan (or a 9-inch-by-13-inch one). Top with 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese.

4. Place under broiler until top is golden brown and bubbling.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

rose cake and salted caramel cupcakes...kinda. and stuff

First attempt at a rose cake. Next time I'll make a heavier frosting so the  roses will hold better. 

Hello! Anybody still here?

So I got into a blog reading mood this morning and signed onto my blog for the first time in a while--I hadn't updated in A YEAR according to the last post date I saw.

That's crazy.

This time last year I had a lot going on (traveling, moving, holidays) so I stopped posting with all intentions to resume blogging in the new year.

Well, the new year came and it didn't happen. Up until February 2012 I kept telling  myself that I would do it the next week...and then the next week. But, it didn't happen. I essentially just stopped baking for the year.

Yea.

Wish I could tell you that I was off doing fabulous things with my time, but I wasn't. Things have been normal and uneventful for me. Working, hanging out, taking little trips here and there and just trying to enjoy my life is all I've been up to. Like this trip with some of my girlfriends to Cape May, NJ in April 2012.
                     
Cape May Getaway

The only big thing this year is that I, of course, got a year older. I turned 26 on September 26, 2012 so it was my Golden Birthday!

26 years old. Crazy! 

My BFFs came to visit me in DC for the weekend and it was a blast. I was celebrated pretty well. :)
 


What else?

Umm, I was Miss Cleo for Halloween! LOL. My Sammie was a Smurf. :O)

                                           

That's pretty much all the updates. I have nothing else to add. :/

That rose cake pictured above is the only major thing I baked this year besides these salted caramel cupcakes that I baked for my birthday.

                         
Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  Recipe here.  Frosting is delish!

The rose cake was for Sammie's birthday party last night. I baked her a chocolate peanut butter cake and it was pretty tasty.
                               
      
We ate the cake straight from the plate with forks after dancing the night away. Such classy ladies. ;)

Well, this is the end of my quick update and hello. I'm going to commit to updating my beloved Sinful Sundays on a more frequent basis. I've missed chatting and talking to you all as well, so I'm excited to start "hanging out" again!

 'Til next time. Ciao! :))

Monday, November 14, 2011

pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust




I love gingersnaps.

I forget how much I love them until I unexpectedly eat one and then can think of nothing else but when I can buy my own bag to munch on.

I got a bite of gingersnap last week when I was visiting my friends in NY. It was in a pudding dessert that I don't even know what it was or where I got it. I was simply walking to my friends apartment and stopped at a dessert truck and bought a pudding thing.

I ate the entire dessert so fast that I didn't even take a picture of it, (bad blogger) or of my whole weekend actually. Here is one of  the few pictures I have of my trip and I took it from my friend Lisa. I love it!

Judith, Lisa, Moi, Conie
I had a fantastic time. My friend Conie, farthest on the right, was back in town for a quick visit as she is serving 2 years in the South Pacific in the Peace Corps.

It was so good seeing her and my other besties.  :)

Anyways, I had a gingersnap.

As soon as I got back to DC I purchased a bag of them and immediately thought, "What can I do with these bad boys?"  I thought about it and it finally hit me; use it as a crust!


For cheesecake!

Pumpkin!

So, that's what I did.

This cheesecake is ALL  KINDS OF GOOD.

It's creamy and decadent and silky. Yum!


It takes quite a bit of time to make as you have to chill it in the  fridge fro 12 hours, but I think it's worth it.

The gingersnap crust is a nice departure from graham crackers and adds a great "fall-ish" and spicy flavor to the cheesecake. Pecans are also in  the crust

I also drizzled salted caramel sauce on top and caramelized pecans to add to the presentation.

This is a good one you guys.  :)


Gingersnap Crust
  • 1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground pecans

Pumpkin Cheesecake
--adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs (20 oz, or 2 1/2 eight oz. bricks) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of heavy duty foil,  wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan. This will prevent leaks when using the water bath.


2. Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps and pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon , ginger and salt. Set aside.



4. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium-low until creamy (approx. 2 mins).  Gradually add sugars and beat until blended.  Add pumpkin mixture and beat until blended. Add cornstarch and beat until just combined.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 



5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter onto the cooled crust.  Place the aluminum-wrapped pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan.  Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake 70-80 minutes, or until set and slightly wobbly.  The cake will completely set as it cools.

6. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator for 12 hours to finish setting. Top with whipped topping and other garnish as desired.

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween!

These cookies were a PAIN IN THE BUTT to make!

They're the soft lofthouse sugar cookies and the dough was so sticky. Even after I refrigerated them for about 13 hours!

I will undoubtedly never make them again, but when I did manage to finish baking them and slathered them with frosting, they really were so good.

Oh, and that is the only photographic evidence I have because I was a bad blogger and forgot to take pictures before I brought them to a Halloween party. Whoops.

I hope everybody enjoys this Halloween!  =)

BOO!


P.S. I was a MacBook, not my typical witch, for Halloween this year. No photographic evidence of that either.

Monday, October 24, 2011

pumpkin crème brûlée

Check out the accents on the letters in the title of this post. I'm always so proud of  myself when I remember how to do those. Honors French class for the win!  =)

Okay, so I don't know if I've told you before, but crème brûlée is my favorite dessert. Like EVER.

I think I like it better than ice-cream. Actually, I don't know if that's true because crème brûlée and ice-cream are like the same thing, right? Eggs, cream, sugar, and different flavors? Yea, same thing. So I like them both the same.

The cream in crème
Anyways, typically I only like the traditional vanilla variety, but a couple of weeks ago my colleagues and I had pumpkin crème brûlée at a work luncheon and it was delicious!

I decided to try and recreate it for a dinner I had to attend last night and it went over fabulously!

The pumpkin  flavor is pronounced but not overpowering, and the spices are incredibly complementary.

So that's the story of my pumpkin brûlée. It's uber sophisticated yet incredibly easy, so give it a try this season!

On another note; I'm getting fat (ter).  Between blogging, numerous work luncheons and conferences, and the fact that I enjoy food way too much, my pants are getting tight.


I don't want to pay for a gym membership so I recently purchased 30 Day Shred and am going to give it a whirl. Has anybody tried it or used some other form of exercise DVD that won't make me feel like I want to die? I want to feel empowered after a workout, not like I hate my life and want to eat crème brûlée after.

I figured I should also begin eating cleaner so I plan on going shopping and buying some healthier food options. I don't eat terrible now, but I could always improve.

Hmm. I'll let you know how it works out or if anything great comes out of this...ech.



Pumpkin C
rème Brûlée

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of sugar plus more for sprinkling on tops
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2. Add milk and heavy cream to a saucepan. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture along with the vanilla extract. Add cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Place saucepan over medium and mix until it bubbles around the edges, but not boiling.

4. Remove from heat when it starts bubbling and let it cool. 

5. While cooling, mix egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until blended. When the milk mixture is cool,  slowly add a tablespoon at a time of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper the eggs. When  tempered, add the rest  of the milk mixture and mix thoroughly.

6. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until blended. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to get a smooth base and then fill 8oz ramekins with the mixture.

7. Set the filled ramekins in a water bath and place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until fim around the edges but still kind  of jiggly in  the center.

8. Remove ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then place into the fridge to set for 4 hours up to overnight.

9. When ready to serve the crème brûlée, sprinkle sugar on top and torch or broil until the sugar hardens and caramelizes. Serve immediately!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

better-than-crack brownies



For those days when you a need a strong pick me up, but aren't allowed to do crack because it's illegal, MAKE THESE BROWNIES!

Apparently, they are better than crack. 



I wholly agree.

I mean, they're fudgy brownies that are layered with peanut butter cups, peanuts, chocolate chips, and rice krispies cereal.

That HAS to be better than crack, no?

I have never had crack or anything related to it, (crack is whack, yo) but I am convinced that these are in fact better.

Yea! Proud D.A.R.E. graduate. =)

I saw these on Jessica's site a while back and have been DYING to try them. I'm glad I did because they really do taste incredible---a peanut butter lovers dream.

Make them!


Better Than Crack Brownies--From How Sweet it Is
  • 1 batch of brownies
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts (if you don’t have salted, add sea salt)
  • 1 cup chopped peanut butter cups
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Remove and top them with peanuts and peanut butter cups and bake for an additional  4-6 more minutes.
While they are finishing baking, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal.
Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

**I had them both room  temperature and cold from the fridge---they are DEF better cold**

Sunday, October 9, 2011

red velvet waffles...and stuff



So, I'm like tired.

Actually, more like EXHAUSTED.

The past two weeks have kicked my butt and I feel like I could seriously sleep for months.

Months!

I'm too tired to spell out why I'm so tired, but I should let you know some, so here is my best stab at it:

I turned 25 (woot!) on September 26 and that whole week was a pure celebration of my life from my friends and family. It was fantastic!  A lot of cake, a lot of dancing, a lot of dinners, a lot of stuff. I loved every second of it--sleepless nights and all. Yet, by the end of the week I was done.

Also, I made my own birthday cake again this year. It was a dark chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling and white chocolate cream cheese icing. Very different from last year's and just as delicious


Totally sliced into it before letting people add candles and sing to me...

After my birthday week, I then had a huge conference at work that basically had me working 12 hour days for about a week while always having to be "on".

You know--smiling, schmoozing, acting like you're not about to fall dead of exhaustion. That kind of thing.


I haven't been home for a full 24 hours yet and the thought of having to go to work tomorrow because I chose to take Veteran's Day as a holiday instead of Columbus Day, which is tomorrow, makes me want to cry.

Tear.


Anyways, these red velvet waffles were a request from my friend Joei of Urban Geek and I  figured I should give it a shot. I tried making them last week, but the recipe I used involved yeast and I simply did not like them. I tried a different recipe today and they are delicious! Tastes like cake.

I'm glad I had these today, they seriously made me so happy.   :)

SN: I need to stop eating my feelings.

I never had red velvet waffles or pancakes before, but I figured adding in cocoa powder, buttermilk, and some sort of cream cheese glaze makes them red velvet, right? Right.

That's what I did.


Anyways, so that's my story for the past two weeks. I  haven't even been able to blog surf properly or catch up on my celebrity gossip. I'll do that tomorrow. If I can keep my eyes open.

For now, I hop back into bed and sleep the rest of my one-day weekend away. Feel sorry for me today, will you?


  













Red Velvet Waffles
  • 2 cups flour ( I used AP, but I'm thinking that Cake Flour would be even better)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2cups buttermilk or regular milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 tbsp red  food coloring (I used gel coloring)


1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt and whisk thoroughly

2. In another bowl beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in buttermilk and oil. Stir in red food coloring.

3. Add egg yolk mixture all at once to the dry mixture and stir thoroughly.

4. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

5. Fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture.

6. Spoon waffle batter into your waffle iron and let cook.

7. Serve with cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • About a 1/2 cup or more powdered sugar
  • About a tsp. vanilla
  • Enough  milk to make the consistency of the glaze thick but pourable

1. Beat cream cheese until soft and then add in powdered sugar to desired sweetness. Add in milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add vanilla, mix, then serve with hot waffles.