Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Creme Brulee

My all time favorite dessert!

Creme Brulee at it's best...


  • 9 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup superfine white sugar plus 6 tablespoons
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

Pour cream into a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add them to saucepan. Bring cream to a brief simmer, do not boil or it will overflow. Remove from heat and temper the yolks by gradually whisking the hot vanilla cream into yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook.

Divide custard into 6 (6-ounce) ramekins, about 3/4 full. Place ramekins in a roasting pan and fill pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until barely set around the edges, about 40 minutes. You may want to cover loosely with foil to prevent browning. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each chilled custard. Hold a kitchen torch 2 inches above surface to brown the sugar and form a crust. Garnish with cookies and fresh fruit. Serve at once.

Variation: Before dividing into ramekins: add 3 ounces of shaved dark chocolate for chocolate creme brulee; add 4 slices of crystallized ginger for ginger creme brulee; add 3 slices of orange peel for orange creme brulee. Let steep 20 minutes to infuse the flavor. Strain out the ginger and orange peel before baking.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Basic 5 pound SUGAR FONDANT

Oh la la, I love this filling!

My friend, Courtney asked if I wanted to learn how to make homemade chocolate. I answered 'yes' (of course)! She wasn't sure when they were going to do it, as her sister was visiting from New York, but I was certain that whenever it was, I would be there!

Basic 5 pound SUGAR FONDANT

5 lbs (10 cups) sugar
2 cups half and half
1 1/8 cup milk
1/4 cup white corn syrup
1/2 cup butter (half goes in fondant while cooking; half goes on top)
Couple sprinkles of salt
Flavoring oils and food coloring

Over a medium high heat on stove, stir all ingredients until dissolved. Stir frequently and cook until reaches soft-ball stage. Pour into glass 9*13 pans or onto a marble slab. Put remaining half of butter, sliced, on top of fondant. Cool until you can poke it and it is cold and fairly stiff. Beat the fondant. Add flavorings and colorings as you begin to beat. It will go through a couple of stages including a taffy-like sticky stage where it is glossy and shiny, then a dull smooth stage. When it is dull and looses it's stickiness, it is ready to be formed into balls and dipped in chocolate. you can form the fondant into large balls (butter your hands) and wrap them in plastic ad refrigerate them for up to three days before forming them into small balls.

Flavoring suggestions:

Orange (use the zest of one good sized orange and mix it right into the fondant)

Pineapple coconut (use small dried pineapple bits)

Cherry rolled in peanuts



Butter pecan


Lime zest

Peanut butter

Dip fondant mixture in melted chocolate and let set.

This recipe is from Chellae Brooks, and it is truly amazing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls

The best ever Valentine's Day treat!

Maren's Cinnamon Rolls

Pour into microwaveable bowl and heat in microwave for 4 minutes:

2 1/2 Cups tap water, cold
2 1/2 Cups cold milk

Put into Bosch (or any bread mixer) and mix:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 Tablespoons salt
Add heated water and milk

Sprinkle 2 heaping Tablespoons Red Star Yeast onto top of mixture - mix a little to moisten yeast

Let the yeast rise 4-5 minutes

Add 12-13 cups flour, 1 cup at a time. Keep adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, but is still sticky. Do not add too much flour. Let beat on lowest speed for 4-5 minutes.

Transfer to another bowl and cover and let rise until it doubles and reaches the top of the bowl - about 45-60 minutes.

Roll out ¼ of dough at a time, spread 1/4 cup melted butter, then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on rolled out dough.

Roll dough like a jellyroll and ‘slice’ with thread into 12 rolls. Place into greased jellyroll pan.
Cover and raise 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cube softened butter.
1 pkg. cream cheese
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and frost cinnamon rolls while still hot.

I have to say this is the best out of my 3 favorite cinnamon roll recipe's! This recipe just works - every time! A great tip from Maren is to use a portion of the dough for regular dinner rolls. So, on Sunday mornings we have adopted her tradition of having cinnamon rolls for brunch, (I roll out the dinner rolls crossant style, let them rise, then cover & put the dough in the refrigerator) and freshly baked rolls for dinner!

Maren made over 125 dozen of these little beauties for our tweens to sell for girls camp. It was an incredible fundraiser! Many of the girls sold enough to pay their entire way to camp! We packaged these frozen, and the idea was that people could let them rise over night, and bake them themselves Valentine's Day morning. Yum!

These would be a great gift at Christmas or Easter as well!

Here are the directions that came with the frozen rolls:

Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls

Put cinnamon rolls in the freezer until the night before making them. When ready to thaw, place them in a greased 9*13 baking dish and let set overnight (6-7 hours) on the counter. Place frosting bag in the refrigerator.

In the morning the rolls should have risen sufficiently to cook. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and frost with all the cream cheese frosting while the rolls are still hot.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

My friend, Courtney has a sister visiting from New York this week, who knows how to make delicious chocolates! When Courtney asked me what I was giving my husband for Valentine's Day, I answered 'cinnamon rolls' since I've made almost 75 dozen this week (for a girls camp fundraiser). I thought a box of homemade chocolate sounded a lot more thoughtful (especially since I haven't ever done that before) and am so grateful for the techniques Chellae taught us!

These recipe's are from Challae's husbands family, who are originally from Canada. Apparently, back in the day when you had to raise money to build a church this was his gift. He was famous for his delicious creations, and friends and neighbors looked forward to them all year.

Chocolate Ganache
(Truffle Filling)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 lb semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light corn syrup
4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized, heat-proof bowl. Pour cream into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate, Shake bowl and allow to stand for about 2 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Cool until set. Shape into balls and dip in cocoa powder or chocolate.

Wilton Chocolate Lollipops


These little lollipops are so easy to make! The molds and sticks can be purchased at any craft store (Michael's). Just melt the chocolate in the microwave, and start designing your own edible creations!

Baked Potato Soup

I love this soup, especially on cold, yucky days in the fall and winter - or as cold and yucky as it gets in San Diego. It's deceptively thick and rich--you use 1% milk and light sour cream and it tastes like the real thing.  I know everyone says that and then you bite into something low fat made with splenda and you KNOW the difference.  This soup you will NOT know it is low fat.  You can alter the amounts below based on your family size.  Since mine is ginormous and my boys eat like men we always go for more.  This will comfortable feed a family of 7 with leftovers to spare.

Baked Potato Soup

8 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 c. all-purpose flour
12 cups 1% milk
2  c. cheddar, divided
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 c. light sour cream
1 1/2 c. chopped green onions, divided
12 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled.

1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400 for 1 hour or until tender. This step can be done in advance or you can even use leftover baked potatoes. Allow to cool. Slice in half and then scoop insides into a bowl. Discard the skins and break any large chunks into bite-sized (or smaller) pieces.

2. Place flour into a large pot and gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, but do NOT bring to a full boil! Boiling will lead to curdled soup, and hey, no one likes curdled soup.

3. Add potatoes, 1 1/2 c. cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese melts and remove from heat.

4. Stir in sour cream and 1 c. onions.

5. Cook over low heat until soup is heated thoroughly.  You have to be vigilant at this stage--don't let it boil and don't let it burn the bottom of the pot (unless you feel like scouring a pot for hours.  Not that I did that - no way!)

6. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with bacon, remaining cheese, and green onions.

7.  Sit back, eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

12 chicken tenders
1-2 eggs (start with one and crack another if it runs out)
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Give coconut a rough chop so it's about the same size as the panko pieces
Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices.
Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating.

Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour...then dip in egg...
And then finally coat in the coconut Panko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.

Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up!) that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You can give them a  teeny drizzle of olive oil on top to help them crisp nicely, but it's optional.

Bake in your 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. Try not to overcook them because chicken tenders go from perfect to overcooked really fast! If your tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes so keep an eye on them. If they're big they can take more like 25. You may need to move the tenders to a lower rack in the oven if they start to brown too much. The coconut will be nice and golden and the panko crisp, but light in color still.

Great to dip in ranch or sweet and sour sauce
courtesy www.ourbestbites.com

Kimberly's Coconut Sweet Rice

This rice is AHmazing.  It is so good that you will throw all your low card ideas out the window and just go for seconds.....or thirds.  I wouldn't know if you would go for fourths but it may be possible.  Plus it is oh so easy!  

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice - white or brown
3 cups water (or follow the instructions on the rice package)
1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut creme (found in the liquor aisle - it is the creme used to make pina colada's.  Usually in a squeezable bottle)
1 cup chopped cliantro
1 can chopped and drained pineapple

Cook the rice in the rice cooker until done.  Can I just say that they are the greatest invention ever?

When the rice is done add the coconut creme and all the other ingredients one at a time and stir until all mixed.  Serve immediatley and let your tastebuds die of happiness.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

1 T olive oil
8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C diced carrots (about 3 med carrots)
1 1/2 C diced celery (about 4 ribs)
1 1/2 C diced onion (about 1 med onion) 
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz can green chilies
3 cans low-sodium beef broth
2 t kosher salt
2 dash black pepper
1 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1 t dry oregano leaves (if you use ground oregano, use 1/2 t)
1 1/2  bay leaf
Serves 6-8

Toppings: sour cream, tortilla chips, grated cheese
I began slicing and chopping and ended up slicing off a little too much of my thumb - that was fun! - so I gave up slicing since I really quite enjoy my fingers and used my food processor to chop the carrots, celery and onions.  It worked great.  I didn't get them too fine just chopped enough to our liking.

Add olive oil to a large stock pot on med-high heat. Saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic about 4-5 minutes.

Add in the black beans, chilies, and beef broth. Stir to combine and then add the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.

Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until carrots are soft.

Remove from heat. Find that bay leaf and pull it out. I forgot to get it out *gasp* and it still tasted great but STILL don't do what I did and remember to take it out. 

Place half of the soup in a blender.  If you want it more pureed then put all the soup in the blender.  We liked it with some chunks.  Especially since my kids gave some great comparisons to all things brown and chunky - while polishing their bowls and asking for seconds I might add. Place lid on blender, but remove the stopper in the middle. Place a paper towel over the hole though to avoid getting black bean soup burns all over your face. That would be an embarrassing story to tell.  Plus a HUGE mess to clean up.

Puree soup until smooth. I leave it in for several minutes. Return to pan and make sure it's heated through completely. Squeeze in the juice from two big limes.

Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese, tortilla chips, etc. Serve with extra lime wedges.  Even though it is brown and chunky my whole family gobbled it up and said it was the best soup EVER.  I took that as a real compliment that they could get past the color and just taste the goodness of this soup.

Nutritional Information (1 C soup, w/o toppings):
125 calories, 2g fat, 8g fiber
2 Weight Watchers points
South Beach Diet Phase 2 (eat carrots sparingly)

courtesy www.ourbestbites.com