Thursday, October 17, 2013

Creamy Asiago Fontina Macaroni & Cheese

(About 5-6 servings)
I used Cavatappi (Corkscrew) shape pasta in this recipe because the sauce sticks well. This went over quite well at my friends' mac & cheese cook-off.

3 cups pasta (whatever shape you prefer)
2 tbsp butter
2-3 white flour
1/2 pint of heavy cream
1 cup milk (2% or 1%)
1 cup shredded asiago cheese (or your favorite hard cheese, such as parmesan)
1 cup shredded fontina cheese (you may sub in cheddar if you prefer)
1/4 tsp ground pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, & fresh nutmeg
A pinch of paprika
1/2 tsp of italian seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash's Table Blend)
2 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled (I bake at 375 until crisp, so it crumbles easily) or bacon bits
Freshly chopped chives

First, boil your pasta until it is just tender. Drain and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add in flour. Whisk until it forms a paste (a.k.a. roux). Stir for a couple of minutes until the flour mixture is cooked. You can tell when it starts to turn golden and smooths out. Next, whisk in the cream and milk, making sure to combine the flour mixture. Stir in the spices, then slowly sprinkle in the shredded asiago cheese until it melts. 

Then stir in the shredded fontina cheese until completely melted into the white sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust the amount of seasoning to your liking (add salt, pepper, etc). Gently fold in the cooked pasta with a spatula. Serve steaming hot and top with crumbled bacon and chives. Enjoy with friends and family!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fluffy Cream Cheese Pecan & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 16 cookies.

This recipe was adapted from here.

1 stick softened butter
1/4 cup softened cream cheese
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp agave syrup
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
salt to taste
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl combine the butter, cream cheese, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat until creamed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and mix until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips and nuts and mix with a 
spatula to incorporate.
Using spoons or a cookie scoop, make 1 to 2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before baking. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to, even if slightly undercooked. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cakey & Gooey Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

For me this made about 20 medium size cookies
I made these around the holiday season and the entire batch was gone in days. They are so very addicting! They are fluffy and cakey texture, especially when baked in a convection oven.
1 cup canned or fresh roasted pumpkin puree
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice if preferred)
1/2 tsp nutmeg and allspice
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp salt
tsp baking soda
1 splash of milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

*Skip this step if you are using canned pumpkin*
Cut in half and roasted a small sugar pumpkin (stab the skin a few times to allow steam out). Place pumpkin cut side down in a pie pan with a 1/2 inch of water and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Remove pulp with a spoon and let cool.

In your electric mixer bowl, beat together pumpkin, sugar, oil, milk and egg. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Next, add vanilla, chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Spoon dough on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. You can poke into the center of a cookie with a toothpick to see if the center is wet or is cooked and comes out clean.

Let cool a few minutes, then dig in while still warm!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sweet & Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from 1 Pumpkin Pie pumpkin, mine was 8" tall
1 tbsp. melted butter/margarine (or spray margarine)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. ea. ground cinnamon, nutmeg 
*optional (ground allspice, cloves, cardamom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove seeds from pumpkin (take off pumpkin strings), rinse in a strainer, and blot dry with a paper towel. Place in mixing bowl, stir in melted butter, and sprinkle in sugar and spices. When mixed, spread in one layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Don't be tempted to put any excess butter/sugar mixture on the seeds, the extra sugar tends to burn. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully so the sugar doesn't burn! You might hear some popping noises while baking when the seeds puff up and dry out. 
Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Scrape seeds off foil with a spatula.

The final product reminds me of CornNuts. Nice and crunchy and sweet! I'm sure these would also be great with smoked paprika instead of the pumpkin pie spices as well. Wrapped up in a cute jar they would make a great stocking stuffer!

Warm & Chewy Cranberry Walnut Bread

Makes 8-10 slices

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
2 tbsp. agave syrup + 2 tbsp. sugar (or your favorite combination of sweeteners)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries (it was half of the small bag of fresh berries for me)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice (& orange zest if you have some)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. ea. of ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the white sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Chop the cranberries in a food processor until the berries are at least cut in half or smaller. Stir the chopped cranberries into the dry ingredients and coat. Create a well in the dry mixture and combine the beaten egg, agave syrup, orange juice, oil and chopped walnuts. Mix until everything is moist. 

Spray a 9x5x3" loaf pan with oil and fill with bread batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing.

I love to eat this for breakfast in the winter. I warm up a slice and smear with cream cheese! Of course it is great on its own... or with yogurt on top. It makes the house smell great and is a hit with guests.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ginger & Roasted Chestnut Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

1 medium size butternut squash
3 tsp. grated ginger (I buy it already grated in a tube or jar)
5 roasted & peeled chestnuts (found ready-to-eat at an Asian food market) can sub. 1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cooked & peeled carrots
1 cup stock, vegetable or chicken (add more water if soup is too thick for your liking)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper and nutmeg
2 tsp. melted butter or walnut oil
splash of heavy cream, or milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half long-ways, scrape out seeds and fibers with a spoon. Find a glass baking dish (I used a pie plate) that can fit the squash halves side-by-side, place cut side up. 

Fill the dish with a 1/4 inch of water. Drape tinfoil loosely over dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender. Remove tinfoil halfway through the cooking process. Be careful not to burn yourself on the steam built up underneath the foil or the hot water in the pan. Let the squash sit until cool enough to touch. Scoop out squash from skin. 

I prefer to steam carrots in a microwave steamer, but you can also boil until tender. Place all cooled off ingredients into your blender and pulse until smooth (adding more water if needed). Heat up portion on the stove top and serve with garnish of ground nutmeg and pepper. Perfect on a cool fall day to warm you up!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Decadent Mini Cheesecake Cups

Makes about 16-18 cupcakes (you may need to double the recipe after you taste these!)

1/2 cup of crushed graham crackers
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar or equivalent in Stevia (or other sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz low/fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp all purpose flour
Cooking Spray
Muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line muffin pan with liners. Compact crushed graham crackers with a bit of cooking spray at the bottom of each well.

Beat cream cheese, sweetener and vanilla until smooth with a mixer. Mix in yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and flour just till it's incorporated. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until filled half way.
Bake 22 minutes or until the filling doesn't move when jiggled. Remove from pan and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

These are great for parties. I made these for a birthday party (you could probably tell by the balloons on the muffin papers). Top with sprinkles or fruit for decoration!