Cupcakes for Chanukah! Recipes and more

Sorry for the lag in posting, lots of travel and family commitments but now, shes back…………………..

cup3 There are times in your life (like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.

 

Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.

 

1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.

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Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CUPCAKES (dairy)

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16

 

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BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry

 

Modified from the Joy of Baking

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ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO CUPCAKES (pareve)

This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.

 

Modified from about.com

 

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

 

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12

 

Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL

 

CANDIED CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

Topping

6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside

 

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream

 

Cupcakes

12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

 

Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.

 

LUSCIOUS LEMON CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

 

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute

 

FROSTING:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.

 

 

 

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Too Much Candy for Halloween??? Nah……recipes for leftover candy

So the high holiday of candy is coming up and your little darlings will get enough sugar to power a small nuclear plant and it’s time for the “parent” to consider confiscating a portion of bounty “for their own good” of course. Yeah, right, that didn’t work with my kids either.

What I did do was try to channel some of the candy to other venues. I always let my kids eat about 1/3 of the candy, they had to give at least 1/3 of the goodies they collected to one of the women’s shelters for the kids there who didn’t get to trick or treat and the remaining 1/3 was put into the communal candy basket at home for us to use as a family (ok, my husband and I snarfed a few) for some of our favorite, made with candy recipes.

Rather than try and justify how chocolate should really be its own food group I’m just going to offer the following recipes that have graced my family’s table in the weeks following Halloween and pray you don’t gain as much weight as we do when we eat them.

 

 

CHOCOLATE CANDY BAR CROISSANTS

 

1 (8 ounce) tube refrigerated crescent rolls

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

2 (1.55 ounce) milk or semi sweet chocolate candy bars, broken into small pieces

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Unroll crescent roll dough; separate into triangles. Brush with butter.

 

Preheat oven to 375. Arrange candy bar pieces evenly over triangles; roll up from the wide end. Place point side down on a greased baking sheet; curve ends slightly. Brush the top of the croissant with the beaten egg and then sprinkle the top with almonds. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8. This recipe can be doubled.

 

CANDY BAR CAKE

 

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped candy bar (Snickers, Almond Joy, Milky Way, peanut butter cups or a combination of any of your favorites)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

Frosting:

4 1/2 ounces milk, semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped candies

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10-cup nonstick Bundt pan. In a bowl sift together the 3 cups flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine the chopped candy with remaining 1/2 cup flour. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat until combined about 2 minutes then add the yolks and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of milk.  Add 1/3 of the flour, the remaining milk and then the last of the flour.  In another bowl for the electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until you get stiff peaks. By hand, fold the chopped candies and egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool on the rack for an additional 20 minutes.

 

To make the frosting place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream over the top. Microwave for about 30 seconds and then remove and stir. Return to microwave and cook an additional 30 seconds or until the chocolate is totally melted. Whisk to combine and let cool for a few minutes. Place the cake on the serving platter and pour the icing evenly over the top of the cake (some will drip over sides but that’s ok). Sprinkle the remaining chopped candy over the top. Let cool and serve.

 

 

Modified from ALL YOU OCTOBER 2011

KIT KAT KAKE

 

1 (18 ounce) packages refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, prepared recipe favorite

6 cups whipping cream

2 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided

14 Kit Kat bars

2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine

whipped whipping cream or whipped topping

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with parchment or wax paper. Press cookie dough in bottom to 1/2 inch thickness. Bake approximately 18 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool completely. In a large bowl, put 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 5 cups whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH for 4 – 5 minutes until chocolate is soft. Remove and stir well until chocolate and cream are mixed well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.  Melt remaining chocolate chips with butter and stir until smooth.

 

Place large cookie in center of 10-inch spring form pan. Cut candy bars long ways and dip one end in chocolate mixture. Place vertically between cookie and sides of pan. Continue until all candy bar pieces are used.  Chill 20 minutes.  Whip cream and chocolate mixture until stiff.  Chop remaining candy bars into chunks. Take cookie shell and place one-third of mousse on bottom. Sprinkle chunks on top. Repeat layers, ending with mousse. Chill in freezer overnight.  Top with whipped cream and chunks of candy bar.  Return to freezer for at least 1 hours. When ready to serve remove from freezer and slice.

 

Submitted by Rachael Margoles Philadelphia PA source unknown

 

CANDY CORN BLONDIES

 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/4 cup each orange, yellow, and brown candy-coated chocolates (from a 12.6-ounce bag) or 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, removed from their wrappers and coarsely chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; stir just until moistened. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Arrange candies or chopped peanut butter cups in 12 rows (2 rows per color, repeating once) on top of dough.Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days. Makes 16.

 

Modified From Everyday Food

MILKY WAY TART

 

 

Crust

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk

 

Filling

3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate candy bars chopped

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

 

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons water

 

Unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting)

 

Make crust: Whisk flour and cocoa in medium bowl. Beat butter and powdered sugar in another medium bowl until well blended. Beat in yolk. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours.

 

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Press each onto bottom and up sides of 4 1/2-inch-diameter tartlet pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate crusts 1 hour or freeze 30 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 375. Bake cold crusts until set and dry-looking, about 12 minutes, pressing with back of spoon if bubbles form. Cool crusts in pans. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.

 

Make filling: Place milk chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups cream to simmer in small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

 

Combine remaining 1/2 cup cream and butter in small saucepan and stir over medium heat until butter melts; remove from heat. Combine sugar and 3 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until color is deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. Immediately add hot cream-butter mixture (mixture will bubble vigorously). Remove from heat and stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Transfer caramel to small bowl and chill until slightly firm (semi-soft), stirring often, about 40 minutes.

 

Spoon caramel into center of baked crusts (about 2 generous tablespoons for each crust). Set aside.

 

Using electric mixer, beat chilled milk chocolate-cream mixture until peaks form; spoon atop caramel in crusts, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup for each crust) and spreading evenly. Chill at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated. Remove tartlets from pans. Lightly sift cocoa powder over tartlets and serve.

 

Created by Maury Rubin City Bakery /  Bon Appétit  September 2006

 

KITCHEN SINK COOKIES

 

4 eggs

3/4 cup margarine

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups peanut butter

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

7 cups oatmeal

3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi sweet)

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 cup M&M’s ® (you can use the peanut or peanut butter ones too!)

 

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the eggs, margarine, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and peanut butter. Beat to combine . In a separate bowl mix together the baking soda, salt, and oatmeal. Mix the oatmeal mixture into peanut butter mixture. Add chocolate chips and pecans and stir until combined.  Drop golf ball sized balls of dough (I use an ice cream scoop) on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten each cookie into a circle shape with the bottom of a glass. Press M&M‘s into the top of unbaked cookies.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before removing. Makes 2 to 3 dozen.

 

My files, source unknown

 

Super Dupper Ice Box Cake Recipes/Kosher

Anyone who has ever read one of my columns knows I am a huge fan of dessert. In fact, if given the choice, I’ll eat it first. While baking something is my typical motis operandi when the temperature and humidity starts edging toward thermo nuclear meltdown my feelings lean towards less towards cooking and more towards how cold can I make the sweet for the end of my meal.

I suggest we all veer straight towards the quaintly named Icebox cake. For those of us not born before the 1930’s an ice box is the storage unit that was the precursor to the refrigerator where “big blocks of ice” were delivered to the home to place in the “ice box” to keep food cold. Yep, this is how they did it in the olden days when we walked 10 miles to school each day (both ways up hill) and when the Slurpee ®  didn’t even exist.

Ice box cake is a slight misnomer. It’s usually a dessert like recipe that contains layers  of custard or curd or whipped cream layered between, cake, graham crackers, cookies or graham cracker or cookie crumbs. These layers of yummy “rest” or “set up” in the refrigerator (as opposed to the freezer) for a several hours or overnight so that all the ingredients evolve into a single, luscious, creamy cake like dessert that will remind you of an  éclair, cake, cookie and the best thing you’ve ever eaten all rolled into mouth full after mouth full of delicious.

Now for the easy part, putting together you ice box treat. For expediency sake most people usually opt for store bought cookies or cakes for the key ingredient because, like I said, I don’t wanna cook when it’s too hot. Sometimes though, you do have to make the cake or cookie as it’s a key ingredient of the recipe.  That being said I typically make my own, whipped cream, custard, curd or pudding as I’m not a big fan of their “imitation” flavors. I usually avoid recipes that require gelatin as I’m not a big fan of the texture it creates.

Most of the following recipes are quite flexible and forgiving when it comes to the ingredients. You have the luxury, dare I say freedom to interchange most of the ingredients and individualize your creations according to your (or your guests) preferences. Hate strawberries? Use raspberries or blackberries. Don’t like chocolate cookies? Use a vanilla or pecan one. Lactose intolerant?  Get the non dairy whipped topping. Just remember, no matter what you put together, cold in 100 degree weather is always delicious. I am, however, making no comment on the amount of calories you will consume when you decide that leftovers are just not an option.

CHOCOLATE AND CREAM CHEESE ICE BOX CAKE

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) German chocolate cake mix

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

FILLING/TOPPING:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

3 cups cold milk

2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant French vanilla pudding mix

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon rum extract

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 baking pan.  In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, butter and pecans until they form a crumb mixture. Press the mixture  into the prepared pan. Bake  for 15 to 20 minutes . Cool completely.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processer combine the  cream cheese and sugar and beat or process for about 2 minutes or until combined. By hand, fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping. Spread the mixture over the top of the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In another large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft set. Stir in nutmeg and extract. Spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serves 16.

 

Submitted by Irene Koslowski Chicago IL source unknown

 

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE COOKIE ICE BOX CAKE

 

3 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies [or, make your own!]

Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)

 

In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center. Spread with 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a 7-inch circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream (there will be a few cookies left over). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.

 

Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

STRAWBERRY ICE BOX CAKE WITH FUDGE DRIZZLE

 

2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced thin (save 5 or 6 whole ones for garnish)

3 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided (3 cup +1/4 cup)

2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided (1/3 +1/3)

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 sleeves (about 19 ounces, or 24 to 28 whole crackers) graham crackers

2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

 

In the bowl or an electric mixer, whip 3 cups of cream until they form medium peaks. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and whip to stiff peaks. .

 

Spread a dollop of the whipped cream on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place six graham crackers on top of the whipped cream. Gently spread more whipped cream on top of the graham crackers. Place a layer of sliced strawberries on top. Repeat this process to create three more layers (total four layers of graham crackers and 3 layers of strawberry slices) End with a layer of whipped cream.

 

To make the frosting, in a microwave bowl combine the chocolate butter and ¼ cup cream. Heat just until the chocolate and butter melt. Whisk slightly and then add the remaining powdered sugar. Whisk vigorously to remove any lumps. If there are lumps microwave for at 10 seconds and whisk again. Drizzle the fudge frosting over the top. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Garnish with the whole berries. Serves 10 to 12.

 

My files, source unknown

 

EASY LEMON ICE BOX PIE

 

1 small can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 graham cracker crust, readymade is fine

2 to 3 cups whipped topping or whipped whip cream

 

Mix everything together until smooth and pour into pie crust. Refrigerate until set about 1 hour.

 

My files, source unknown

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL ICE BOX PIE

I saw a version of this recipe in a magazine a few weeks ago and just had to make it. It was AMAZING!

 

2 cups finely crushed pretzel sticks

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups whipping cream, divided

1/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the crushed pretzels, melted butter and brown sugar then firmly press it on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 10-inch pie plate. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned then let cool completely. In the bowl of a food processor chop up the strawberries, brushing down the sides as needed until they are in smallish pieces but NOT puréed. Remove them from the bowl. Place the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese in the bowl (you don’t have to clean it out) and process until smooth. By hand, fold in the strawberries. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat 3/4 cup whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon the strawberry filling into prepared crust. Cover and freeze 8 to 12 hours or until firm. Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups whipping cream at high speed until foamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Freeze 1 hour or until whipped cream is firm. Serves 8

 

Modified from a recipe in Southern Living JUNE 2012

 

CHOCOLATE CRUST LEMON RASPBERRY ICE BOX PIE

 

1 (9 inch) chocolate cookie pie crusts (store bought or homemade)

 

Filling

2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (do not use low or no fat)

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

1 1/2 pints fresh raspberry (more for garnish if you like)

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted

 

In a bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the cream cheese and condensed milk. Beat or process smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and continue beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and then spoon the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Cover with and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to serve sprinkle 1 pint of the berries over the top.  Then in the bowl of an electric mixer beat the whipping cream until it has soft peaks. Add in the powdered sugar and remaining raspberries and beat until the mixture has stiff peaks. Gently spread the raspberry whipped cream over the raspberries on the top of the pie. Slice and serve right away, garnishing each slice with additional raspberries.

 

My files, source unknown

 

AMBROSIA ICE BOX CAKE

 

1/2 cup pineapple juice

3 eggs (2 yolks room temperature)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pinch fine salt

1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon sweet white wine

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

18 ladyfingers (soft)

12 cup shredded coconut (sweetened, lightly toasted)

 

In a sauce pan bring the pineapple juice to a simmer. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Slowly pour the hot pineapple juice into egg mixture, while whisking constantly. Return mixture to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until it boils and coats back of a spoon. Continue cooking about 1 more minute. Remove the  mixture  from the heat and then whisk  in the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

 

Zest 1 orange and place it in a bowl. Peel and section the orange, then cut the sections into pieces. Combine the pieces and the zest. In the bowl of an electric mixer whip the whipping cream together until it form soft peaks. Fold in the orange and zest. Whip cream and confectioners’ sugar together until soft peaks form and fold into chopped orange.

 

Combine the orange juice and white wine in a bowl. Lightly brush the ladyfingers with this liquid and then press into bottom and along sides of 6 ramekins. Evenly divide the pineapple curd among ramekins. Top each with the orange whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or overnight. Release cakes from ramekins to serve. Serves 6

 

Modified from Yummly.com

Peaches and Cream/Recipes for the summer

Fresh peaches are starting to appear in the produce sections these days and I thought having a guide to help you pick out the very best of the best will set you on the road to delicious.

Peaches have been grown in the United States since the Spaniards brought them to North America in their early explorations. They’ve played an integral  part in making the fruit industry in Georgia, South Carolina and California as successful as has been (just check out the names of a lot of Atlanta streets to see what type of influence the peach has).

You should look for peaches that are unblemished and not to firm. Fresh peaches spoil quickly so don’t buy too many unless you’re going to use them. Peaches don’t get sweeter after they are picked so make sure get the ripest ones you can. If you need to peel your peaches (and you don’t have too, there’s bunches of stuff that’s good for you in the skin) you should blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute and then drop them into ice water immediately to cool and then peel. The skin should come off easily. Just know that peaches will turn brown very quickly after they are cut so you should sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice if you aren’t going to use them immediately.

The phrase peaches and cream can literally mean eating “peaches” and “cream” together in a dish or pie or cake or whatever way your imagination (or taste buds) desire. The following recipes all combine peaches and some kind of cream or cheese and every single one of them is going to make you say you’all come back and try me again real soon!

SUPER DOOPER PEACHES AND CREAM PIE (dairy)

 

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 (3 ounce) package non-instant vanilla pudding mix

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained and syrup reserved

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease sides and bottom of a 10 inch deep-dish pie pan.

In a mixing bowl of a food processor combine flour, salt, baking powder and pudding mix. Process just to combine. Add the butter, egg and milk and process until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan. Arrange the peach slices on top of the pudding mixture. Don’t clean the processer bowl. Put the cream cheese in the bowl until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons reserved peach syrup. Process until smooth. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over peaches to within 1 inch of pan edge. Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and sprinkle it over the top of the peaches. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Chill completely before serving. Serves 8.

 

Modified from a recipe by Debbi Borsick, source unknown, submitted by Tracey Malrick

 

PEACHES AND CREAM BAKE (dairy or pareve)

 

1 lb French bread or challah egg bread, cut into chunks

8 large eggs

2 1/2 cups milk or ½ and ½ or non dairy substitute

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 15-oz. cans sliced peaches packed in juice, drained

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Grease a 9X13 baking pan. Arrange the bread pieces so they fit tightly in the pan. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid over the bread. Arrange peach slices on top of the mixture and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 30 minutes before baking take the pan from the refrigerater. Preheat oven to 350. Bake, uncovered until the top is lightly browned and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

 

Modified from about.com

PEACHY CREAM CAKE (dairy)

 

3/4 cup self rising flour (yes self rising)

1 pkg. cheesecake or vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 ounce)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 large (about 28 ounces) can sliced peaches, drained, save the juice

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch deep dish pie plate. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, pudding, butter, egg and milk. Mix to combine. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the peach slices over the top of the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons peach juice and process for 2 minutes. Spread the topping over the top of the peaches, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Serves 8.

 

Submitted by Charlie Aronoes NY, NY, source unknown

PEACHES AND CREAM CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

 

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 tablespoon herbs de Provence

1 1/2 cups seedless red or green grapes, halved

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 fresh pineapple cut into tidbits

3 to 4 peaches, sliced

1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded

2 cups fresh baby spinach

 

DRESSING

3/4 mayonnaise

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1/2 cup frozen pareve whipped topping, thawed

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons pine nuts

 

In a salad bowl combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence, grapes, celery, almonds, pineapple and peaches. Mix to combine. In small bowl combine the mayonnaise, herbs de Provence, whipped topping, salt and pine nuts. Mix to combine. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture; stir gently to combine. To serve, arrange the lettuce and spinach on a serving platter or individual plates; spoon chicken mixture over greens. Serves 8.

 

Modified from tablespoon.com

 

CREAMED CHICKEN AND PEACHES (meat)

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

3 peaches, cut into wedges

1 shallot or 1 tablespoon onion, minced

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup non dairy liquid almond milk or soy milk

1/3 cup snipped chives or green onions

 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Lightly sprinkle both sides of chicken with the salt and pepper and then cook them just until golden on each side so that it’s just done in the middle 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove the chicken from the pan and set it on a plate and set it aside.  After removing the chicken from pan, reduce heat to medium and add the wine. Stir so that the bits on the bottom are scraped up. Add the peaches and onion and stir to coat, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mustard and no dairy substitute, whisk to combine. Place the chicken into the sauce and cook, uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken as it cooks. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle the top with chives and serve. Serves 4

 

Modified From Chatelaine Magazine

 

GRILLED PEACHES AND MOZZARELLA (dairy)

 

1 lb block or ball of mozzarella, cut into slices

5 to 6 ripe Peaches (not too mushy), cut in half, pitted

1 tablespoon minced onion

2 tablespoons oil

1 head each romaine and bibb lettuce, combined

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Zest of one lime

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup shredded basil leaves

 

In a small bowl combine the minced onions and vinegar.  Whisk in the lime juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper. After the mixture is combined add olive oil and whisk to combine then set it aside. Arrange lettuce on a large platter and set it aside.

 

Brush a  grill pan with oil and then grill the peach halves, cut side down for about 3 or 4 minutes or until there are grill marks and the peaches are warm. Flip them over and grill for 2 to 3 more minutes.  Place the peaches on a cutting board and cut them into thin slices. Arrange the peaches and mozzarella slices on top of green in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the shredded basil over the top and then drizzle the dressing over the top and serves. Serves 8.

 

From my files, source unknown

 

CREAMY PECAN PEACH PIE (dairy)

 

1 readymade pie crust uncooked

4 cups sliced peeled peaches

2 tablespoons peach preserves

1 cup sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

TOPPING:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

 

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine peaches and preserves. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell. In bowl combine the sugar, sour cream, egg yolks, 1/4 cup flour and vanilla. Whisk to combine and then pour the mixture over the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, sugars, pecans and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs mixture over the top of the peaches.

 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and topping is golden brown. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Cool completely on a wire rack for 3 hours before serving.  Serves 8.

 

Modified from tasteofhome.com

 

KIWI PEACH AND CREAM SALSA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of fruit or onion in this salsa and a few drops of a hot sauce can be added if you like a little kick to your salsa.

 

1 pkg (8 oz.) Neuchâtel or cream cheese, softened (you can use chive cream cheese)

2 peaches, chopped

2 to 3 kiwi, peeled, chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

4 to 6 green onions, sliced thin, green and white parts

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro

1/2 to 2/3 cup creamy Italian Dressing

Corn chips or crackers

 

Spread the cream cheese on to the bottom of serving plate leaving about an inch around the edge. In a bowl combine the kiwi peaches, red pepper, green onion, parsley and the Italian dressing. Mix to combine and then spoon the mixture over the cream cheese. Serve with chips and crackers. Serves 8 to 10

 

My files source unknown

 

It’s Blueberry Time/ Kosher Recipes

There’s only one bad thing that can be said about blueberries, they can be messy if you squish one.  Other than that, they’re really a wonderful fruit.

A typically American fruit the flavor and sweetness of the blueberry is the frosting on the cake that is fruit. A blueberry is a super food, one that is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. This may sound obvious but when buying your blueberries you should remember they should actually be blue, if they’re even slightly green, red or purple forget them. Only blue will do.

The blueberries you want should be uniform in size, not big and small, firm not hard and have a slightly waxy sheen. To store then you should keep your blueberries refrigerated and please don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. They will spoil if you do. They should last, in the refrigerator, for 10 days to 2 weeks.

You’re in luck, blueberries are in season right now and very affordable so hopefully this column will nudge you toward adding them to your shopping list this week.

 

Blueberry Guide

Approx 3 cups of blueberries in a pound

One cup of fresh or frozen blueberries =2/3 cup pureed

1 cup frozen blueberries = 2/3 cup thawed blueberries

BLUEBERRY AND CREAM MUFFINS

 

2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

11/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

3 ounces cream cheese cut in cubes

2 teaspoon lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Brown sugar to sprinkle on top

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line the cups of a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt and set aside.

 

In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Stir in the melted butter and mix until smooth. Mix in milk. Add dry ingredients and stir until all dry is incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold the berries into the batter.

 

Pour an equal amount of batter into each muffin cup, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top and then bake for 30 minutes (or until the top is golden), remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

 

From my files, source unknown

 

BLUEBERRY APPLE SALAD

 

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries, divided

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons apple jelly

Zest of 1 orange

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups (about 4 ounces) baby spinach

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, cut into 1-1/2-inch matchsticks (about 1 cup)

1/3 cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted

 

To prepare dressing: In a blender container, combine1/2 cup of the blueberries, oil, apple jelly, lemon juice, orange zest, mustard and salt; blend until smooth. Set the dressing aside. In a salad bowl combine the spinach with apple slices, celery, pecans and remaining 1/2 cup blueberries. Toss gently, drizzle the dressing over the top, toss gently and serve. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

Modified from a recipe from my mom Anita Weinfield, Northbrook IL

LIME AND BLUEBERRY BARS

 

2 cups blueberries

21/4 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup softened butter

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1/3 cup lime juice

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Extra powdered sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until blended. Cut in the butter (mash with a fork until dough holds together). Press the mixture over the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and baking powder. Gently fold in the blueberries. Gently pour the mixture over warm, baked crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes until the filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar cut and serve. Serves 12

 

Modified from about.com

BLUEBERRY CORN MUFFINS

 

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 cups blueberries

Coarse sugar

 

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 1 12 muffin pan and 1 6 muffin pan and set them aside. In large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix and set aside. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, orange juice, margarine, egg and orange zest. Whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix, by hand just to combine. Add the blueberries and gently mix them in. Do not over mix. Divide the batter between the 18 muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with a little coarse sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden or a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.

 

Modified from an old Moosewood cookbook recipe in my files, book unknown

 

BLUEBERRY PULL-A-PART BREAD

 

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries

2/3 cup brown sugar

10 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon cinnamon

4 pkgs (10 oz ea) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

 

Preheat oven to 350. REALLY grease a 10 x 4 tube pan and set it aside. In a bowl combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Cut the biscuits in half. Roll each piece in sugar mixture. Arrange about one-fourth of the biscuit pieces and one-fourth of the blueberries in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Place blueberries between biscuit pieces, creating a mosaic effect. Repeat with three more layers (covered dough balls and blueberries), covering blueberries of one layer with dough balls in next layer. In saucepan combine the brown sugar, margarine, vanilla, cinnamon and the additional 1 cup blueberries. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the margarine melted. Pour the mixture over biscuits and berries in the pan. Bake 34-45 minutes or until done. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before you try and remove this from the pan. Place a plate on the top of the pan and invert. Serves 8 to 10 servings.

 

Modified from epicurean .com

BLUEBERRY SALAD WITH SMOKED TROUT

 

8 oz romaine lettuce, shredded

4 Smoked trout fillets, skinned broken into medium pieces

1 1/2 cups blueberries

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine or rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

In a bowl, combine arugula, trout and blueberries. In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, mint, salt and pepper. Divide the salad onto 4 chilled plates. Drizzle each serving with dressing. Serves 4

 

Modified from a recipe from Chef Marc Meyer, Five Points, New York City

 

BLUEBERRY ORANGE SAUCE

This is super over roast chicken or turkey

 

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 oranges, sectioned

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt and then set it aside. In a small saucepan combine the orange juice and 1/4 cup water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the blueberries and orange sections and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the sugar mixture to the berry mixture, whisk to combine and then cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, the sauce will thicken slightly. Remove it from the heat and serve. Makes approx. 2 cups.

 

NOTE: if you want a sauce to go over a fruit salad just omit the salt and pepper.

 

BLUEBERRY MANGO SALAD

 

2 cups fresh blueberries

3 to 4 mangos, peeled, seeded and sliced or cubed

1/3 cup frozen piña colada mix, thawed

1 to 2 tablespoons rum

Baby spinach

Toasted pecans

 

In a large bowl, combine blueberries, mangos, piña colada mix and rum and mix to combine. Divide the spinach between 4 plates. Spoon the berry mango mixture over the spinach. Top with the toasted pecans and serve. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

BLUEBERRY CRANBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

 

4 cups cook chicken cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, sliced thin

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup minced green onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2/3 cup toasted almonds

 

In a bowl combine the chicken pieces, red onion, celery and rice vinegar. Toss to coat and add the green onion, parsley, cranberries and blueberries. Gently mix to combine. In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard and then spoon the dressing onto the chicken mixture. Mix to coat and then garnish with the toasted almonds. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

Modified from a BHG.com recipe

Make Mine Mac & Cheese/ Kosher Recipes

There’s something about digging into a bowl of macaroni and cheese that brings out the kid in all of us. With car pools, busy schedules and extracurricular galore we’ve all defaulted to whipping up the boxed variety and calling it dinner more often than we’d probably like to admit. It’s nice to know, however, that if you take that extra 10 or 15 minutes of time the made from scratch variety of macaroni and cheese (or a doctored boxed version) can become a gourmet dish with unlimited potential to please everyone from a finicky whiney hungry four year old to the finicky whiney hungry four year old within us all.

So what makes the difference between a so-so macaroni and cheese recipe and a great one? The cheeses used, the pasta used and the method you use to prepare it.

Elbow macaroni pasta is the traditional pasta used in macaroni and cheese (duh) but you can actually substitute any type of cooked pasta that you like. Some styles will work better than others. Smaller curved shapes, like cork screw, bow tie and shell are great alternatives to elbow macaroni and hold on to the cheese sauce better than  spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  Cheddar is usually the cheese of choice. You can choose from yellow or white cheddar and sharp or mild cheddar. All work great. American cheese is another popular choice. Note, however, American cheese is a processed product (additives, preservatives etc) and is a fairly bland cheese flavor compared to Cheddar. Swiss, Gouda and Havarti cheeses are better choices but they give the cheese sauce a very different flavor. Parmesan can be used but should be used in conjunction with other cheeses. Of course, you can always combine any of the above cheeses to suit your taste.

The white sauce method is considered the classic version of macaroni and cheese. It starts with a white sauce (butter, flour, and milk) with cheese added to the hot sauce. This method is usually baked. The layered method is created when cooked noodles and grated cheeses are layered in a baking dish, then covered with milk and baked. The stovetop method is never baked. It’s prepared on the stove and served immediately.

So what’s the very best macaroni and cheese recipe? The answer is which ever one is in front of you right now. The following recipes are all easy to prepare, run the gamut from mellow to spicy and best of all, can be on the table in 30 to 40 minutes.

 

MACARONI AND CHEESE PIZZA

This is a guilty pleasure meal that my children loved to make when they were first learning how to cook.

 

2 boxes of packaged macaroni and cheese mix
2 eggs
2 cups readymade pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and set it aside. Cook macaroni and cheese as directed on the box. Add the eggs to the mixture and mix to combine. Spread the mixture on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure to spread the mixture so that it’s no more than about an inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and spread the pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top. Return the “pizza” to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and lightly golden. Serves 6.

SPICY MACARONI AND CHEESE

This recipe is based on one I originally saw in Gourmet Magazine. I tweaked it a little and came up with something really spicy and delicious.

 

1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups milk

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, well drained

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack

1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar

1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 pan and set it aside. In a large heavy saucepan combine the butter, leeks, the garlic, chili powder and the cumin and cook, over a low heat, stirring, until the onion becomes soft. When the onions are soft stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk to the onion mixture, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly and then whisk in the tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 2 minutes and add the salt and pepper to taste.

 

In boiling salted water cook the macaroni for 6 to 7 minutes, or until it is barely al dente, drain it well. Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture. Stir in the Monterey Jack and the Cheddar cheese. Spoon the mixture in the prepared pan. In another bowl combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni mixture. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling. Serves 6 to 8.

BROCCOLI AND CHEESE WITH MACARONI

16 ounces elbow macaroni
2 cups broccoli florets fresh or frozen
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons four
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs

 

Grease a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente, or still slightly firm. Drain well. Fill another saucepan 3/4 full with water. Bring water to a boil, add broccoli, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente; Drain the broccoli and set it aside. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter. Over a medium heat add the flour, stirring for 1 minute until the mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continually until thickened, about 3 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat.  Set aside 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Stir the remaining Cheddar, Gruyere, Parmesan, salt, and cayenne into the sauce until the cheeses melt. Add the cooked macaroni and broccoli to sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with reserved cheddar and bread crumbs. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.

 

BAKED MAC AND CHEESE DECADENCE

 

2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups shredded/grated cheese (I cup Cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 cup Parmesan)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish and set it aside. Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente. Drain well and set aside.  In a large saucepan melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook 1 minute, whisking and then whisk in the milk, whisking continually until the mixture is smooth. Continue cooking and as soon as it thickens add the nutmeg and stir. Add the cheeses a little bit at a time, stirring continually until the cheese is melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and mix well to combine. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Combine the rosemary and thyme with the breadcrumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the breadcrumbs.  Bake, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. About 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

OOEY GOOEY MAC AND CHEESE

Marshall Shafkowitz, chef at Le Cordon Bleu created this recipe and this is my variation of his version. Be warned this recipe is not for the calorie conscious.

 

1 gallon of milk

1 of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 pound smoked Gouda

12 tablespoons of butter

1 cup flour

2 cups saltine crackers, crushed

salt and pepper

1 pound uncooked Macaroni or corkscrew pasta

 

Fill a large pot 1/2 way with hot water. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils add the noodles and cook at a slow boil.

 

Pour the milk into another large pot and bring it to a simmer. While the milk is heating melt the butter in a skillet. When the butter is completely melted add the flour all at once and whisk to combine and the mixture pulls away from the side of the skillet. As soon as this happens remove the mixture from the heat and put the mixture to a large bowl.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Take roughly 2 cups of the hot milk and pour it over the flour/ butter mixture and whisk until the mixture is combined. When this mixture is smooth add it to the remaining hot milk and whisk until combined. Let the milk mixture cook, over a low heat, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Drain your pasta and then place it in a casserole dish. Slowly add the cheese to the milk mixture. Stir continually to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan. When all the cheese is mixed in season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Sprinkle the crushed crackers on the top of the casserole and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

 

SOUTHWEST MAC AND CHEESE

 

2 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup diced onions

1/2 to 1 cup red, yellow and green bell peppers, finely diced

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large can, white albacore tuna, in water, drained

3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound penne or other pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup slice green onions, including green part

In a large saute pan combine the butter onions, chili powder and peppers and saute, over a low heat until vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the milk and cream in the sauce pan and bring the mixture it to a simmer. Add the cheeses and stir well until the cheeses are completely melted. Add the tuna and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to simmer another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained pasta and mix well. Place the mixture in serving bowl and top with a dollop sour cream. Garnish with the sliced green onions. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Snack Attack/ Homemade Gourmet Popcorn and Other Delicious Recipes

With the last of the winter snows (hopefully) blowing across the Midwest a hint of the idea that would require scraping off the car and going outside when is met with a less than enthusiastic response by my family. Saturday night finds us parked in front of the fireplace with a few friends and neighbors (hopefully the ones who had the foresight to rent a movie from Red Box) and pigging out on junk food (like we REALLY didn’t have enough to eat this weekend).

Junk food in our house usually consists of chips, salsa, anything chocolate and some form of popcorn or mixed nut/cereal snack. While some purists might say that popcorn is a dish best served with salt and a touch or butter I like to dress it up with all sorts of seasonings both sweet and savory.

The following recipes should tickle the taste buds of even the most discerning popcorn/snack food gourmet and they all can be made up on Friday so that when the beginning credits roll on the worst movie ever made (the one you kids just HAD to see) your snacks will end up being the feature presentation.

NOTE: 1 ounce of un-popped popcorn kernels makes approximately 4 cups of popped popcorn

SNACK ATTACK POPCORN (dairy)

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon onion salt

6 cups unsalted popped popcorn

1 cup thin pretzel sticks

1/2 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 250. In a large bowl combine the popcorn, pretzel sticks and peanuts. Set them aside. In a microwave bowl melt the butter and stir in the seasonings. Drizzle the butter/seasoning mixture over popcorn mixture making sure to stir to coat well. Spread the mixture in a large, shallow ungreased baking pan and put it in the oven to bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon every 10 minutes while it’s baking.  Yield: 7 to 8 cups.

OVEN CARMEL CORN (dairy or pareve)

7 to 8 quarts popped corn
2 cups of blend of salted peanuts, shelled pumpkin seeds and sunflower
seeds
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250. Place popcorn and your choice of nuts in a large container. In a saucepan, combine sugars, butter, salt, syrup and flavorings. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add baking soda, STIR QUICKLY. Pour over popcorn mix in a large flat pan. Bake for 1 hour, stirring several times. Remove from oven and stir occasionally while the mixture cools. Store in airtight container. Makes 7 quarts.

ACROSS THE BORDER PARTY MIX (dairy)

This snack mix gives a new twist to an old favorite with the addition

Of pumpkin seeds.

1 cup small pretzels (twists)

1 cup corn chips

1 cup oyster crackers

1 cup toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon. chili powder

1/2 teaspoon. ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon. ground red pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, corn chips crackers seeds and peanuts.  Set aside the mixture.  In a small bowl, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin and red pepper mix well. Pour mixture over pretzel mixture; toss to coat. Place on ungreased 15×10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake 25 minutes or until peanuts are golden brown, stirring halfway through cook time. Cool completely. Mixture becomes crisp as it cools.  Note: Recipe can be easily doubled, using 2 baking sheets. Makes 5 cups

WHITE TRASH MIX (dairy or pareve)

3 1/2 cups honey coated breakfast cereal

3 cups peanuts

2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup butter or margarine

12 oz chocolate chips (dairy or pareve)

12 oz raisins

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl combine the cereal, peanuts and raisins. Set the mixture aside. In a small saucepan melt together the peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and nuts. Mix well and when cooled n pour the powdered sugar over the mixture and mix to coat completely. Makes 5 cups.

PIZZA POPCORN

6 to 8 cups popped popcorn

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons dry Italian-style salad dressing mix

1/2 tsp. oregano

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons tomato Ketchup

In large bowl, place hot popped corn; set aside. In small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, dry salad dressing mix and oregano and set aside. In small saucepan, melt the butter and ketchup. Pour the mixture over the popped corn, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle the dry salad dressing mixture over popped corn, tossing again to evenly coat all pieces. Spread coated corn on l5x10-inchbaking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over baked corn and let cool 5 minutes. Serve immediately or store in airtight container. Makes 3 quarts.

MILK CHOCOLATE POPCORN (dairy)

Popcorn and peanuts glazed with a crispy, chocolate coating.

12 cups popped popcorn
2 1/2 cups (12oz can) salted peanuts
1 3/4 cups (11-1/2 oz bag) milk chocolate chip morsels
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 300. Grease large roasting pan. Combine the popcorn and nuts in prepared roasting pan and set aside. Combine morsels, corn syrup and butter in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Pour over popcorn; toss well to coat. Place the mixture in the preheated oven and bake, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes. Loosen popcorn from pan and allow to cool slightly in pan. Remove the mixture to a cookie sheet covered with wax paper to cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks. Makes about 14 cups.

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