Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

If you have never had a french dip sandwich, you are missing out!  I had some meat that I wanted to use up in my freezer, and decided to make these beauties.  I don't use my slow cooker very often, but after using it a few times to roast meat I am beginning to love it!  The beef for this sandwich is roasted until it is extremely tender, and served on a slightly toasted sandwich roll with melted cheese.  The dip is the "au jus" the beef is roasted in and is served on the side.  This would definitely be a man pleasin' dinner...well, at least it pleased mine!

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwichesapprox 3 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
16-oz. beef broth (1 1/2 cans)
1 10.5-oz. can condensed French onion soup
6-oz red wine (I used white, and it tasted good)
1 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 French rolls
sliced provolone cheese
Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with salt and pepper.
Pour beef broth, condensed French onion soup, red wine and garlic powder into slow cooker and place beef roast into liquid.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Slow cookers have different time intervals that you can select, so work with your cooker. Depending on how the settings on your slow cooker work, the time will vary. Since this is cooking in liquid, you don’t have to worry about the meat drying out in the same way you might if you were roasting the meat in the oven.
Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low or very low for 30 minutes.
Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls, if using. Divide beef onto rolls and spoon the beef juice* into ramekins or other small bowls and eat everything while it is hot. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.
Seves 4-6.
Source: Baking Bites

Friday, May 27, 2011

Swiss Chocolate Cupcakes

My dad asked if I could make him something to take into work for his birthday...company policy:)  I was thrilled that he wanted to me to bake his birthday treat!  I wanted to make the treat super special because I love my dad so very much!  I gave him some options, and he chose a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting.  These cupcakes are very unique because the frosting is cooked, and very light and fluffy.  And even though the cupcakes and the frosting are chocolate, they are not extremely rich like I expected.  Perfect!

Here's the ingredients for the cupcakes: vanilla, eggs, salt, flour, sugar, sour cream, butter, baking soda, brown sugar, and dutch cocoa

Add baking soda to the sour cream and set aside.

Sift flour and cocoa powder together and set aside.

 In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

Add the salt and beat until combined.  Then add the eggs and beat until combined.  After that, add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.

Using a spatula, alternate the sour cream and dry ingredients folding them in three increments.  Then fill the cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Here's your ingredients line-up for the frosting: cocoa powder, salt, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate

Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl over simmering water.

Bring mixture to 150 degrees F, whisking constantly.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat until the mixture doubles in volume.  Add very small amounts of butter, mixing to incorporate after each addition until it is all added.

Add salt, vanilla, and cocoa powder.  Mix until combined. 

Then fold in the melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate.

Decorate.  I made chocolate swirls out of melted chocolate with a ketchup bottle.  Then I sprinkled pretty sugar on top.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes approximately 20-24 cupcakes
1 C. sour cream
1 t. baking soda
2 C. flour
½ C. Dutch process  cocoa powder
1 C. unsalted butter
1 C. granulated sugar
½ C light brown sugar
1 t. salt
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 T. vanilla
In a bowl mix sour cream and baking soda together; set aside. Sift flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Using a mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in salt and beat until combined. Add in eggs and beat until combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.
Turn off mixer and use a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, add in sour cream mixture and flour mixture alternating in thirds. Fold in each rotation beginning with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture, mixing each rotation until just combined. Fill cupcake liner two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.
Source: Bakers Royale

Chocolate Swiss Meringue
5 large egg whites
11/2 C. sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 t. salt
1 T vanilla
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled 
Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.
Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt, vanilla, and cocoa power, and mix to combine. Add cooled chocolate and mix to combine. 
Source: Bakers Royale

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Blossoms

I am on a serious mission to clean the candy out of the cupboards.  And let me tell you, good things are coming out of it!  I had some Hershey's Kisses, and decided to make peanut butter blossoms.  They are such a classic cookie that people only seem to make around Christmas...not me.  This was one of the treats I made for my dad's birthday.  And this is no ordinary peanut butter blossom.  One Hershey's Kiss is not enough chocolate for me, and I am never satisfied with a bite-size cookie.  My version is three times larger, stuffed with more Hershey's Kisses, and drizzled with milk chocolate.  Scrumptious!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and peanut butter (I used butter flavored shortening).

Beat in the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually beat into the wet ingredients.

Unwrap the Hershey's Kisses.

Take a scoop of dough and place three Kisses on it. 

Take another scoop of dough and place it on top of the Kisses.  Seal the edges together by pressing and cupping in your hand until the Kisses are enclosed in the dough.

Roll the cookie in sugar and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for ten minutes.  Immediately remove from the oven, and place a Kiss in the center of each cookie.

While the cookies are cooling, melt some milk chocolate chips in the microwave.

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled cookies (I used my trusty ketchup bottle).

Everyone loved these bad boys.

Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Blossoms
Yield: 13-14 cookies
56 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
1/2 C. shortening
3/4 C. peanut butter
1/3 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. brown sugar
1 egg
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
sugar for dusting
1/4 C. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and peanut butter. Beat in 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.
Take a scoop of dough and place three Kisses on it.  Take another scoop of dough and place it on top of the Kisses.  Seal the edges together by pressing and cupping in your hand until the Kisses are enclosed in the dough.  Roll in a bowl of sugar.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from the oven and place unwrapped chocolate Kisses into the center of each cookie, slightly pressing.  While the cookies are cooling, melt milk chocolate chips in the microwave.  Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled cookies. 
Source: Inspired by Hershey's

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oven Fried Fish Sandwiches

Does anyone else think it is a challenge to make good fish at home?  We don't eat it as much as I would like, and I am attempting to prepare fish more often because it can be so healthy!  This fish sandwich is one of the best I've ever had...and guess what?  It's baked!  It does have potato chips in it, but is much healthier than frying fish.  This sandwich is a cod filet encrusted with salt and vinegar potato chips.  It is topped with a piece of  alpine swiss cheese and served on a wheat bun.  I also made a tangy tartar sauce to go with it.

Here are your ingredients: salt, pepper, alpine swiss cheese, eggs, potato chips, cod, and wheat buns

Dump potato chips into a ziplock bag and pulverize them!

Salt and pepper the fish.

Dip each filet in egg whites.  You do not need the egg yolks for this recipe.

Dredge in the potato chips, making sure to coat well.

Lay on a wire rack that has been sprayed generously with cooking spray.

Generously spray each piece of fish with the cooking spray.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes.


Oven Fried Fish
4 cod filets (frozen will probably work too, just thaw and dry completely)
2 egg whites
2 cups crushed salt and vinegar potato chips
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay a wire rack on top, spraying it with non-stick spray. Add potato chips to a ziplock bag and crush them into fine pieces.
Season the cod filets with just a touch of salt (not too much, the chips are salty) and black pepper. Dip each filet in the egg white then dredge through potato chips mixture, pressing so the chips stick. Lay on the wire rack and spray each filet with non-stick spray or olive oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until fish is golden brown.
Source: How Sweet It Is

Tangy Tartar Sauce
1/2 C. light mayo
1 T. sweet relish
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
2 t. parsley, chopped
1 t. tarragon
cayenne pepper, couple dashes
dash of Tabasco
dash of paprika
Whisk all ingredients together, refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Italian Balsamic Macaroni Salad

Want a new twist on mac salad?  This is a creamy, tangy, and crunchy macaroni salad that has tons of veggies in it.  Mr. Kitch and I had this with some fish sandwiches the other the night, and he asked when I would make it again!  It has balsamic vinegar in the salad dressing, which was not overpowering at all and actually gave it a great tangy flavor.  This mac salad makes great leftovers too, and it will be making many reappearances on our menu!

Here are your ingredients: Dijon mustard, light mayo, cheese, macaroni, carrots, celery, pimentos, salt, peas, pepper, and salad dressing

Chop up the carrots and celery and add them to the cooked macaroni.

Then add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and chill for a few hours before serving.

Here is the salad dressing I used.  It's called Tuscan Italian dressing with balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe's.  If you can't find an Italian dressing with balsamic vinegar, you can use any creamy Italian dressing and add a little balsamic vinegar.

Italian Balsamic Macaroni Salad
1/2 pound macaroni, cooked, drained and completely cooled.
7 baby carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1-2 Tablespoons jarred pimento
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Creamy Italian salad dressing with balsamic vinegar
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning. Chill 3 hours before serving.

**Note: If you cannot find Italian dressing with balsamic vinegar, use a regular creamy Italian and add one and a half tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Filled Snickers Cupcakes

My husband asked if I could make some cupcakes for him to take into work.  I just love, love, love it when somebody asks me to make them a special treat!  It makes me feel all warm and happy inside when people enjoy my treats. 
This right here is what I made...a sinful cupcake.  It is a rich chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate buttercream frosting topped with chopped Snickers bars!  Holy cow!  It is a lot of chocolate, but it all pairs together very nicely.  Go make these right now!


Here are the ingredients you will need for the cupcakes: sour cream, milk, chocolate pudding, eggs, a devil's food cake mix, and canola oil

Dump all the ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed for about two minutes.

Scoop batter evenly into a paper-lined cupcake tin.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 minutes.

To prepare the mousse, you will need chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals.  After it is melted, let cool for about five minutes.

While the chocolate is cooling, beat the heavy cream until it looks like whipped cream and stiff peaks form.  Fold the melted chocolate into the whipped cream.

It should look like this.

Then take a small paring knife and cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake.  Add some mousse, and replace the top portion of the cone, slicing off the tip to leave room for filling.  I just used a spoon to put a dollop of mousse in each cake.

Here are the ingredients for the frosting: cocoa powder, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla...I also added using some half and half because the mixture was too dry.  Milk could be used too.

Dump all the ingredients together, and beat on high speed.  

Add a little milk or half and half if needed.

I'm trying to clean out my Easter candy stash, and used some Snickers eggs that I found at Walmart for half off.  I am such a sucker for buying candy and then not eating it...don't ask me why.

Chop up the Snickers.

Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top with chopped Snickers.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Snickers Cupcakes
1 Devils Food Cake Mix
1 small box of chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup milk
1 Cup sour cream
Chocolate Mousse Filling
2 Cups heavy whipping cream
2 Cups melted chocolate chips
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 stick softened butter
2 1/2 to 3 Cups powdered sugar
1/4 Cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.  To prepare cupcakes place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream into stand mixer.  Beat until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Scoop batter evenly into 24 cupcake liners.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cupcakes are cooked through, a toothpick comes clean from center.  Remove and let cool.
2.  To prepare mousse, whip heavy cream with a stand or electric mixer until looks like whipped cream, until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in melted chocolate that has cooled for 5 minutes.  Continue folding until well combined.  When cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone out of the center of the cupcake and cut off the tip.  Fill the cupcakes with the mousse and replace the cut out top.  Continue filling all the cupcakes.
3.  To prepare frosting, beat the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla until well combined and a nice frosting consistency.  Spread or pipe over cupcakes then top with chopped Snickers.
24 cupcakes
Source: Kevin and Amanda and Picky Palate