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Megans Cookin: April 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Jam

Every since last fall, I've been dying to make this jam. Of course I had to wait till Strawberries were at their peak. Our strawberry patch just opened up. Big, red, ripe, delicious Strawberries in all their glory. Oh, how that makes me happy!

I saw this on some Jammin Jelly Round-up on the blog Batter-Splattered. My friend April had joined the jelly exchange, and this was the jam she sent out.I knew if it came from April, it would be good.
This recipe was so easy to make. You just cook your fruit with some sugar and vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cook it till its 220 degrees
and then add your chocolate

Swirling in the chocolate

Look at my beautiful jam!

I doubled the recipe and got 12 half-pint jars plus some extra. I had some while it was still warm on some pancakes and I was not disappointed. I think this would be excellent on a bagel with cream cheese.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Jam
2 lbs strawberries, sliced
4 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
pinch of salt
3 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Combine all of the ingredients, EXCEPT the chocolate in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil on medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 15-20 minutes, or until you reach 220 F on a candy thermometer. Once you reach this temp, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and is combined. Transfer to jelly jars and top with the lids. The heat from the jam should make the tops seal. Also, you don't need to skim off the foam, once you add the chocolate and get that all mixed in, the foam dissolves back into the jam.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cheesecake Pops!

These cheesecake pops are another Daring Baker challenge winner!
First, I'm a procrastinator. I didn't even make the cheesecake until the day before the posting date. Next months challenge will be done much sooner in the month. I'm still in the middle of this challenge! I only have a few pops dipped. Tomorrow, I'll go get a few more decorating goodies and finish up. I hope to make a few people happy on Monday!

The cheesecake itself was wonderful. The creamy dreamy center of these pops start out as 5 blocks of cream cheese. It comes together really easy with just a few ingredients and I baked it in a 9 inch round pan. I was lucky it all fit in the pan. It came to the very top but never spilled over! It took 70 minutes to bake compared to the 35-45 minutes the recipe stated.

After a long rest in the fridge, I scooped half the cake into balls. Then it was into the freezer before a hot dip into the melted chocolate. Coconut and sprinkles were the decorations I had in the pantry. I also used colorful plastic appetizer forks for my sticks. The other half I'll make tomorrow will have lollipop sticks.

Crushed cookies, chopped nuts and graham cracker crumbs are a few things I'll use for the rest of the pops. Some will be dipped in white chocolate and all fussed up, but for now, this is all I have.

Thanks to Deborah of Taste and Tell and Ellie of Feeding My Enthusiasm for hosting this challenge and picking a recipe that's sure to put a smile on every ones face. I cant wait to share!

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes. (More like 70 minutes!)

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chili Verde and Sope Shells

My husband is a Chili Verde kind of a guy. I'm Carnita's.

So when my husband saw an episode of Guy's Big Bite, featuring chili Verde in a Sope shell, he asked me to make it. Then I saw that Ben from What's cooking? and Courtney of CocoCooks were hosting an event for Cinco De Mayo, The Tamale Open. Make something with Tamale dough.

Here is what they said;

Make a dish using tamale dough. It doesn’t have to be just tamales. Tamales (like most Mexican dishes) are made and wrapped in many different ways and the dough is also used for casseroles, stews, and other kinds of dishes. So be creative when making your dish. Just remember that it has to be done with a corn-based dough.

Well, I think this recipe fits the bill.
A sope - pronounced "SOH-peh" - is a traditional Mexican dish. The base is made from a thickish, small circle of fried masa (also used as the basis for tamales and tortillas) with pinched sides. This is then topped with refried beans...
ht: Wikipedia

or in my case, chili verde. As much as I loved the sope shells, they were deep fried. Great for Cinco de Mayo or special occasions, but not an everyday meal if you want to maintain some sort of waste line.

Delicious? Yes

Figure-friendly? NO

The chili verde? I roasted my tomatillos and peppers first. I browned my pork and deglazed my pan. I sauteed onion and garlic. Then I threw it all in the crock pot with the spices and cooked long and slow. I've made this recipe twice now, so that's saying alot for this recipe. This will be a keeper. My husband loves it!!! I loved it!

Chili Verde VS Carnitas?
I think I can swing both ways!
I'm serving this up as my entry to the Tamale Open. The round up is May 5TH.

Chili Verde

Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

4 pounds pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of fat
4 yellow onions, chopped
4 Anaheim chiles
2 jalapeno, minced
4 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 pound tomatillos, husk removed
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons ground oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, heat the oil, add the onion, peppers and garlic. Saute until translucent, do not brown. Remove and set mixture aside.
Lightly grill the tomatillos on open flame until lightly charred. Remove from heat, place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm for 20 minutes.
Add pork butt to Dutch oven and cook over high heat until browned on all sides
Add the onion-pepper mixture and tomatillos to the pork. Mix thoroughly and then deglaze with white wine and vinegar. Let reduce for 5 minutes, then add chicken stock, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
Let simmer for 1 hour.

1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 cup water
Mix the masa and water together into a smooth consistency for about 3 to 5 minutes. If working in large amounts cover bowl with a damp towel to keep from drying out.
Take a piece of the dough about the side of a cue ball, and roll into a firm ball. In a tortilla press or with a hard flat book or cutting board, line with 2 pieces of plastic. Place masa ball in the middle and apply pressure until ball pushes out to 4 to 5-inch diameter. (if edges of patty are cracked deeply the dough maybe too dry or if the patty does not remove from the plastic easily the dough maybe too moist.)
Heat a cast iron pan to very hot. Place masa patty on pan without any oil, brown on both sides, approximately 1 minute on each side. Remove and let cool.
While still warm, remove the center of the dough, and form the edges up, making a hollow tart like shell.
Heat 1-inch of canola oil to 350 degrees F. Add sope shells to oil and cook on both sides until crispy and golden brown. Hold warm for service.


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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Vanilla Bean Thins

You know when you first meet someone, and your getting to know them, they talk about their family and their home. Then after awhile, you get a mental picture of what their house looks like.
One day, you go over for a visit and the house is nothing like the home you envisioned. Well, that happened to me with a cookie.

I came across a new event called Cookie Carnival. They were making these Vanilla Bean Thins that intrigued me. So I'm along for the ride! I e-mailed Kate from The Clean Plate Club and she sent me the recipe. I was pretty excited for this recipe, but, then I discovered it was a rolled sugar cookie. My excitement went out the window. It wasn't what was in my head. I envisioned some crisp, vanilla bean wonder. Don't get me wrong, the cookie I got was o.k. But it was a vanilla sugar cookie. It wasn't the envisioned special cookie.
These cookies are made with a vanilla sugar. You scrape the vanilla bean pod and mix all those little black specks into your powdered sugar. Bury the empty bean pods back in the sugar and let it sit for at least 24 hours or longer. The dough comes together pretty quickly in a food processor.
But, since I don't have one, mine was done in the bowl of a stand-up mixer. After I added the egg yolk, I got to get my hands in the batter. But it wasn't difficult by any means.
After my dough chilled, I rolled it out. Instead of using cookie cutters and going through all that, I just cut them into diamond shapes with a knife. No re rolling scraps or anything. Roll, cut, and bake. It went pretty smooth that way.

So here is my first cookie for the cookie carnival. I cant wait to see what is in store for next month.

Vanilla Bean Thins

Gourmet Magazine
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

1 fresh (moist) vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk

Special equipment:
a 2-inch cookie cutter (I cut mine into strips, then into diamonds, with a knife)

Make vanilla sugar:
Scrape vanilla seeds from pod with tip of a knife into confectioners sugar. Halve pods crosswise and bury in sugar. Cover tightly and let stand at least 24 hours and up to 1 month.

Make cookies:
Discard pods and transfer vanilla sugar to a food processor. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse just until mixture is in pea-size lumps. Add yolk and pulse just until a dough forms. Gather dough into 2 balls, then flatten into 2 (5-inch) disks and chill, each disk wrapped well in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Roll out 1 disk (keep the other chilled) to less than 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutter and chill scraps. Arrange cookies 1/2 inch apart on a buttered large baking sheet. Make more cookies with remaining dough, rerolling scraps (but only once).

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until edges are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Cooks' notes:
• Dough can be chilled up to 2 days.
• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apple Harvest Squares

My friend Carla from the Chocolate Moosey and I had a cookbook exchange and mini bake off last year. I really goofed it up. Here's my story.

Last October, Carla posted about a cookbook exchange. She had two copy's of "Pillsbury's 15th Grand National 100 New Bake-Off Recipes", cookbook from 1964. What do you do with an extra copy? Sell it? Donate it? Give it away? Give it away! That was what she did. But with a twist. She collects cookbooks and wanted to do a trade. That's where I come in. I answered her call. A cookbook exchange sounded like a fun idea.

We exchanged a few e-mails and came up with the idea to have our own bake-off. So Carla picked a recipe from a few that I suggested.

Apple Harvest Squares. We both baked our recipe and published our post, and proceeded to visit each others blog. That was when we noticed that I screwed up. I didn't bake the Harvest Apple Squares. Somehow, I had it in my head that we were making the Sweet Applets. I don't know how that happened. I can only say, I must of had a brain fart. It was totally my fault. I just didn't think, I guess. I still don't get it. Anyway, Carla and I had a good laugh over it.

Fast forward 5 months

Carla is hosting Weekend Cookbook Challenge #27 for April and decided to go with Vintage Cookbooks as the theme. That means you pick a cookbook dated before 1980. Guess what Carla made? Uh huh, you know it. Sweet Applets from our 1964 Pillsbury bake-off cookbook. So you know what that means.

I had some baking to do. I finally baked the correct recipe. 5 months later.

Apple Harvest Bars. It tasted like apple pie with coconut macaroon topping! Sweet and cinnamonny, a little tart do to the granny smith apples I used.The recipe said to make it in a 9x13 inch pan but I would use a 9 inch square pan if I were to make these again. The crust layer was kind of thin and I would like it thicker. But other then that, I would make these again.They were very easy. Best served warm. I recommend with ice cream!

I'm serving this up to Carla with a scoop of ice cream for the Vintage Weekend Cookbook Challenge!

Apple Harvest squares
Source: Pillsbury's 15th Grand National 100 New Bake-Off Recipes, 1964

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups chopped apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease the bottom of a 13x9 pan.

2. Sift together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until particles are fine. Press into bottom of pan. Arrange apples on top. Combine 1/8 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup sugar, milk, vanilla, walnuts, and coconut. Spoon over baked base. Bake for another 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.


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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chocolate Sour Cream Crumb Cakes

I made some awesome little crumb cakes for my daughters orchestra party. I made them mini because I was making them for 30 children. What a pain in the a$$. I was tired, it was late and I didn't want to be baking tray after tray of minis. I wanted to be done.
So after I knew I had enough baked, I baked the last of the batter in normal size muffin tins. Much better. You really don't want to make these mini size anyway because you'll want more then just a bite size morsel.

You'll want your own full size Chocolate Sour Cream Crumb Cake. Trust me!

Chocolate Sour Cream Crumb Cakes

From the cookbook
I'm dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas

Cinnamon Walnut Topping
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted.
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Batter
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
8 TBSP (1stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs
2 oz. semisweet baking chocolate, Chopped and melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Make the walnut crumb topping:
Place flour, walnuts, brown sugar, butter, Cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with a paddle. mix on low speed for 4 minutes. then mix on medium for 30 seconds or until mixture is crumbly.

Making the cake batter:
Preheat oven to 350. Line 18 muffins cups with foil liners.
In a sifter, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt. Sift into a piece of wax paper.
Place sugar and butter in clean bowl. mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 2, till soft. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium for 30 seconds after each addition. (At this point, the batter will look curdled: but don't worry. The melted chocolate will remedy the situation.)
Add the melted chocolate and mix on medium for 15 seconds. Add buttermilk and sour cream and beat on medium for 1 minute until combined and smooth. Turn to lowest speed and gradually add dry ingredients. Add vanilla .
Portion 2 heaping TBSP of batter into each muffin tin. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP of the crumb topping. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Serve warm!



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Raspberry and Chocolate Dream Bars

I belong to a large women's bible study and we break down into small groups to study. Every week it's a different groups turn to bring goodies. It was my groups turn today. I made two different kinds of cookies to share. Fruit and Chocolate Dream bars have been on my *To Make* list for a while as well as Lime Melt Aways.
This post is about my dream bars. Simple ingredients that one can usually find in the pantry, these cookies can be very versatile. I used raspberry jam but you could use any flavor. Strawberry would be excellent as well as an orange marmalade. Mmmmmm. The recipe called for milk chocolate but I accidentally used semi-sweet. Even a dark chocolate would be delicious. Mix up the nuts like I did. I thought I had pecans like the recipe called for. Nope. Sliced almonds in the pantry. O-well! Almond it is. was.
These cookies start with a shortbread like crust. . Next came a layer of jam, glorious fruity jam, spread over the warm crust. Top with a crumble and chocolate chips and it's back to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Simple as 1, 2, 3.

Fruit and Chocolate Dream Bars
Recipe by Nestles

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Milk Chocolate Morsels

PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 9-inch-square baking pan.

COMBINE flour and granulated sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto bottom of prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 18 to 22 minutes or until set but not brown.

COMBINE flour, nuts and brown sugar in small bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

SPREAD jam over hot crust. Sprinkle with morsels and Topping.

BAKE for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.


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