Friday, December 30, 2011

Dessert: Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites

I keeping with this week's theme of the items made at Christmas, tonight's dessert is Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites. I first saw these last summer, but winter is when I make cheesecake and cheesecake-related desserts, so I held off on them until today. This recipe I found at Handle the Heat was apparently adapted from a Taste of Home recipe. I used the cheesecake recipe for making Tiny Cheesecakes because the sour cream for the original recipe went missing in my fridge. (I found it later.) The recipe is how I made it, tweaked from the original recipe in the chocolate coating as well as in the cheesecake recipe. I received many compliments on these.


For the crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 sleeve or 9 crackers)
1 stick butter, melted and cooled

For the filling (This is the tiny cheesecake filling recipe)
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For chocolate coating
15 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (about two heaping cups of chocolate chips)
4 tablespoons canola oil


To make crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8 square baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden and fragrant. 

To make filling

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Pour mixture over crust and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cheesecake is slightly puffed and center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled, at least two hours. Freeze 8 hours or overnight.

To coat

  1. Once frozen, lift cheesecake out of pan and gently peel away foil. Using a sharp knife, cut cheesecake into bite-size squares. If squares become too soft, freeze until chilled again.
  2. Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted and smooth. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Dip cheesecake squares, one at a time, in melted chocolate mixture. Let excess drip off and place on prepared sheet. Repeat for all the squares then refrigerate or freeze until chocolate is set. Store squares in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Other Details:
  • Makes about 36 squares. 
  • Original Recipe
  • I found they keep better in the freezer, but taste better stored in the fridge. I'm doing a test right now to see how long they keep in either location. I'll let you know results. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Side dish: Ree's Green Bean Casserole

We did not have this at Christmas. I don't know why not. However, every recipe codex should have a green bean casserole. For years I had the one on the side of the green bean or French's fried onions can. We had the traditional American Thanksgiving feast on my birthday in early December. For that feast, we made The Pioneer Woman's Green Bean Casserole instead of the one in the codex. We have now replaced our green bean casserole with this one. While we didn't have this at the Christmas dinner, it is a part of a holiday celebration (and our sides were frozen veggies and King's Hawaiian rolls, which do not belong on the food blog.) Without further ado, here's a fantastic Green Bean Casserole. 

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends cut off
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 whole large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
freshly ground black paper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 jar (4 ounces) sliced pimientos, drained
extra milk for thinning, if necessary
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (or French's fried onions)


  1. Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.
  2. Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they're cool and set aside.
  3. Add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for two minutes, then add diced onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.
  5. Add pimentos to pan, then add bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with panko crumbs.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden.
Other Details:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Entree: Adrienne's Lasagna

I started with a lasagna recipe, and over the years have tweaked and tweaked and tweaked it. This is the current rendition of the lasagna I make. It's generally popular. This year, we had this lasagna for Christmas. This week the theme is food from this year's Christmas. I already posted the Preston Rolls for Bread/Breakfast. This time, we made the pasta noodles from scratch, so the recipe to do that is also included.

12 pieces (about 8 oz) lasagna noodles, uncooked (Or fresh pasta) 
2 lb. Ground beef
6 cups (about 2-26 oz jar) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water

1 – 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups (16 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (or Monterey jack cheese), divided
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup spinach, chopped

Fresh pasta 2 cups flour (1/3 semolina, 2/3 all-purpose)
herbs: parsley, rosemary, basil, saffron, thyme, etc, whatever strikes your fancy as going well together 

3 eggs
olive oil 

Drying Homemade Lasagna Noodles
Fresh Pasta

  1. Combine herbs with flour. On a flat surface, make a bowl of flour, crack eggs into center. Mix eggs and flour together with a spoon. Add oil.
  2. After dough comes together, knead well. Let rest 30-90 minutes. 
  3. Run through pasta press until desired thickness. (Visit the Egg Pasta portion of this recipe for reference.) 
  4. Boil 30 seconds, cold shock in a ice bath. 
  5. Let dry 1 hour. Use same as no-boil pasta in recipe. These make more sheets, so layer pasta between each addition of meat then egg. 


Meat Sauce

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Over medium heat, brown meat; drain. Add spaghetti sauce and water, and spinach; simmer about 10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, one-half mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour about 1 cup sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 x 2” baking dish.
  5. Arrange 3 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce. Use an additional piece broken into thirds to get full length coverage of pan. Cover with about 1 cup sauce.
  6. Spread one-half cheese filling over sauce. 
  7. Repeat layers of lasagne, sauce and cheese filling. 
  8. Top with layer of lasagne and remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil.
  9. Cheese Filling
  10. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

Other Details:
  • There is no difference in the baking whether you use homemade pasta or no cook pasta.
  • However, if you use the homemade pasta, you are likely to have a lot more pasta, so instead of layering the meat and cheese layers together, add a layer of noodles between the layers of meat and cheese.
  • This can be reheated in the oven 1 hour at 350º or individual slices in the microwave.
  • Serves 12 (slices) 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bread: Preston Rolls

A Christmas tradition at my house is Preston Rolls. The lineage of these rolls, as I understand it, is that a person who helped my grandmother made these rolls. The recipe passed to her girls, who shared it with my mother. My mother said she tweaked the original recipe just a bit. The recipe given here is these. I find these difficult to make. They do not always turn out. Because of this, and because I can't direct you to an original recipe or another link, I've photographed the directions step by step.

These are an excellent cinnamon roll that took me 24 hours to make this year, but they certainly take all day at the least. Enjoy!

Yeast in lukewarm water with a half cup flour starting to rise.
Warmed milk with shortening dissolved.

The remaining 7 3/4 cups flour, beaten eggs and sugar to go into the milk and shortening.

Mixing in the milk with shortening, eggs, and sugar.

The black mark shows how far the yeast had risen after an hour or so.

You know the yeast is doing it's job when the mixture is bubbling.

The yeast and the 1st two cups of flour.

Switching to the dough hook after the first two cups of flour.

Adding the remaining 5 3/4 cups of flour.

This is the mixing.

After a few cups, the dough starts to form.

Letting the dough hook knead for 10-15 minutes.

Putting the dough in a bowl to rise. 

My method of raising is to put it in a warm place (and block it off from dogs.)

This is the dough after the first rise, which took about 3 hours.

And this is how it looks after I punched it down the first time.

This is the dough after the third and final rise.

Take a handful of dough, put it on a floured surface, flour it up a bit, and roll it out. 
Brush melted butter across dough, sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.

Roll them up.

Cut into lengths appropriate for your baking dish.

Place the rolls into the dish with about an inch of personal space around each.

Here, all my rolls are placed in baking dishes. Yes, I used random dishes. It's probably better to use all the same type of good pan.

Now the rolls need to rise. Again, this takes several hours. I left mine overnight because it was close to midnight this year.

The risen rolls.

A pan of raised rolls.
After baking for 30 minutes at 350º.

Make some icing.

Serve warm on a plate with some icing. 
1 batch (can double with extra cake of yeast)


1+ cake yeast
1⁄2 cup lukewarm water

2 1⁄2 cups milk
 1⁄2 cup shortening 
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
8 1⁄4 cups flour

For rolling out:
1 stick butter, melted
brown sugar
flour to coat counter; rolling pin walnuts 

For icing:
1 cup powdered sugar 
1 tablespoon milk 


  1. Soak yeast in lukewarm water. (I have a hard time with the “lukewarm.” Basically, lukewarm is room temperature, so I take my cup of water at a medium temperature out of the tap, and let sit for awhile on the counter. Then I add the yeast and stir just a tiny bit, lightly.) When dissolved, add 1⁄2 cup flour. Beat well and set aside to rise.
  2. Scald milk. While milk is hot, add shortening. Cool to lukewarm. (This step probably hearkens from the days of needing to heat milk, but it remains to dissolve the shortening.)
  3. Add sugar, salt, and beaten eggs to milk mixture. (Do this in mix master using the low setting with beater attachment.)
  4. Gradually add yeast mixture and flour. After 1st two cups of flour, switch to dough hook. Knead well. (Let dough hook continue for 10-15 minutes.)
  5. Dough should not be stiff. Allow to rise (takes a few hours). Punch down, rise, punch down, rise, punch down.
  6. Set in rolls:  Pat out, brush melted butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts as desired. Roll up, cut up, and put in buttered pans. (The rolls should be crafted within about 12 hours of first starting to raise the dough. Any later and they get a little iffy.)
  7. Allow to rise. (Can leave overnight if it's late.)
  8. Bake 350 – 375º for 30 minutes. Serve warm out of the oven with icing. You can serve straight out of the oven, reheat an entire pan at 350 for 30 minutes, or microwave individual rolls for about 20 seconds each.
  9. Just before serving make icing.
For icing:

  1. In a small bowl, stir milk into the sugar until smooth. Should be fairly thick. Add more sugar to thicken, add more milk to hin. Spoon over individual rolls. Icing will harden after a short time. Store in fridge. Stir to continue uese once hardened. Add milk to thin if necessary. 

Other Details:
  • Makes ~4 dozen rolls.
  • Finding cake yeast: Fleishmann's makes cake yeast, which I found in Seattle in the dairy section (next to the Toll House Cookie dough tubs) at a local grocery store (that is actually a part of a national chain.) When I lived near my mother, she'd procure cake yeast from a local bakery and deliver some to me. Cake yeast is called cake yeast because it is active live yeast in the form of a cake, rather than active dry yeast in the form of granules. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Side dish: Panko Crusted Cheese Appetizer

This is one of those recipes that I thought sounded good and I have no idea where I found the recipe. The recipe calls for goat cheese, which I used both times I made it. However, I think any malleable white cheese will do. We did have this appetizer with guests and it was well-received. This appetizer needs to be plated out individually and served, so it's best for a dinner party rather than a larger gathering.

8 ounces maleable white cheese of your choice (recipe calls for plane goat cheese), cut into 6 disks
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, slightly beaten
¾ cup panko
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cups salad spinach


  1. Gently pat the cheese into 2” disks and transfer onto a plate. Place flour, egg and panko into 3 separate bowls. Dip each disk into the flour, then the egg and finally the panko.
  2. Transfer each to the plate and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a medium non-stick skillet (or cast iron) over medium heat. Place the disks into the hot oil and fry until golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate or rack lined with paper towels for draining.
  3. Serve warm on a bed of spinach.
Other details:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Entree: Turkey and Butter Bean Casserole

We tried this a few months ago from Clean Eating Magazine. This makes a great substitute for a a big turkey meal for the holidays or during the winter.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 6-oz skinless turkey legs
pinch paprika
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sea salt
5 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
3 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes, divided
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cooked butter beans


  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil on medium-high. Add turkey legs and sprinkle with paprika, pepper and salt. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden.
  3. In a 4-qt roasting pan, combine 4 cups broth 2 cups tomatoes, maple syrup, onions, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf and beans. Add turkey legs, cover with foil and cook in oven on middle rack for 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, add 1/2 cup broth and 1/2 cup tomatoes to pan. 
  4. Remove roasting pan from oven and serve.
Other Details:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breakfast: Aebelskivar (Filled Pancakes)

One holiday season, we found an Aebelskivars pan on sale at Williams Sonoma. We have enjoyed these treats ever since. And we've provided them at holiday parties to some delight. We've tried many recipes for Aebelskivars. Many. There have been good ones, but the best so far is this one. This basic recipe came out of Ebelskivars: Danish-style filled pancakes and other sweet and savory treats by Keven Crafts. The aebelskivars in the photo are chocolate filled, white chocolate filled, blueberry filled, and some lemon poppy seed. The lemon poppy seed and blueberry filled had a cornmeal based batter. The basic batter and instructions are given here.
Surprisingly, this many served my family of 4 with only a few leftover.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Fillings, such as jam, peanut butter, chocolate ganache, chocolate chips or fruit
Syrup, whipped cream, or powdered sugar for serving

Making Batter

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs yolks, then whisk in the milk and melted butter. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. The batter will be lumpy.
  2. In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Using a silicone spatula, fold one about-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest just until no white streaks remain. Use the batter right away.

Filling and cooking ebelskivers

  1. Butter the pan: Using a pastry brush, coast the wells of the ebelskiver pan evenly with melted butter and place over medium or medium-low heat, depending on the recipe. Let the butter heat for a few moments.
  2. Add the batter: When the butter begins to bubble in the pan, use a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or two soup spoons (one spoon to scoop and one spoon to scrape) to add 1 to 3 tablespoons batter to each well, depending on the recipe.
  3. Add the filling: If you are making filled pancakes, working quickly, carefully spoon abut 1 teaspoon of the desired filling into the center of each pancake.
  4. Enclose the filling: For filled pancakes, add about 1 tablespoon batter on top of the filling to enclose it. Cook the first side until bubbles rise from the centers of the pancakes and they are lightly browned and crisp on the bottom, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Flip the pancakes: Position 2 short wooden skewers on opposite sides of a pancake, slide the tips between the edge of the well and the cooked edge, and lift and rotate gently. Repeat to turn the remaining pancakes.
  6. Cook the second side: Cooke the pancakes until lightly browned on the second side, abut 3 minutes longer. Use the skewers to transfer the pancakes to a plate or a platter.

Other Details:

  • Makes batter for 21 pancakes (nutrition per unfilled aebelskivar) 
  • This is a workhorse batter, perfect for sweet and savory ebelskivers alike. The small amount of sugar mixed with the dry ingredients helps the pancakes brown and both enhances sweet flavoring and offsets savory ingredients.
  • Note that a specialty pan is required to make these. 
  • We top with powdered sugar and maple syrup. 
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Dessert: Pumpkin Brulee

This was a very fun dessert to make. It was rather easy. It is from Mark Bittman.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Brulee

Pumpkin Brulee

Small can pumpkin puree 
8 oz mascarpone cheese 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger 
pinch allspice 
pinch salt


  1. With an electric mixer or whisk, beat together a small can of pumpkin, eight ounces mascarpone, and a quarter cup of brown sugar; add a half teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger and a pinch each of allspice and salt. 
  2. Spread evenly into 10 ramekins and sprinkle the tops with a thick layer of brown sugar. 
  3. Use a torch to melt the sugar, forming a crust. 
  4. Serve immediately.

Other Details:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Side dish: The French Laundry's Parmesan-Reggiano Crisps with Goat Cheese Mousse

In the husband's quest to up his cooking game, he has tried some French cooking. We had gotten Thomas Keller's The French Laundry cookbook awhile back. These are a fantastic appetizer. 

Parmesan Crisps
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (from a moist piece of cheese)

Goat Cheese Mousse
6 ounces fresh goat cheese (or other soft goat cheese)
4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

A clean egg carton


Parmesan Crisps

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. Place a 2.5” ring mold in one corner of the Silpat and fill it with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Using your finger, spread the cheese into an even layer. Repeat to make 8 rounds, leaving at least 1 inch between them.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crisps are a rich golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 30 seconds to firm the crisps enough so you can remove them with a spatula. One by one, remove the crisps and gently press each one into a hollow in the egg carton to forma a tulip shape. After a few minutes, remove the cooled crisps from the carton and make 8 more crisps.

Goat Cheese Mousse

  1. Place the goat cheese in a food processor and process (depending on the cheese used, it may look smooth or crumbly). Pour 1/4 cup of the cream through the feed tube and continue to process until the mixture is smooth but will hold a shape when piped; if necessary, add a little more cream. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste and mix just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The mousse can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften slightly before piping.
  2. Pace the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe 2 to 3 teaspoons of mousse into each Parmesan crisp and serve.

Other Details:

  • Makes 16 crisps. 
  • Nutrition per crisp.
  • Here, these easy Parmesan crisps form small cups for a creamy goat cheese mousse. It's best to bake only half the crisps at a time, because they may harden while you're working with them.
  • Note: we used parchment paper instead of a Silpat; and fingers instead of a spatula.
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