Sunday, April 27, 2008

April Challenge: CheeseCake Popsapalooza!!

This months Challenge comes to us DBer's from Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell ,They Gave us CheeseCake Pops. How fun are these??
Of course, I was perplexed. With such an open use of creativity I had no idea what way to go with them. So many ideas were running through my head. What could I coat them in, what could I stuff them with. My gosh the things a person could do with this challenge. Well again, what do I do. Of course it took me most of the month to decide what to do, leaving me with really only 1 day to do it all in. I came home from work, and started the batch at 9pm. Figuring the next day I could scoop and roll.. freeze and then dip. I knew the Hubby wasn't going to eat them (again picky ass he is..) So to work they would go. And I thought, man 1 batch will not be enough for work, and the hell I will get from the people whom didn't get any. So the next day, I made another batch. Thats right, 2 batches. The first already set in the fridge, made exactly as the recipe states. No alterations, I just used vanilla for the base flavor. Since I did that, I figured I would play with the other batch. I divided the batter, 1 pan I added Almond extract, the other I added peppermint oil, and chopped up peppermint patties; And into the oven they went. I have to say, my biggest problem is that I let myself do far too many ideas. I ended spending so very many hours working on these today, my only day off, and I am exhausted!! But I am happy, I think they came out great and am sure work will love them tomorrow.Now, what kind are they you ask? In all I have 7 varieties. I took the first batch, filled 1/4 with pieces of chopped Peanut butter cups then coated them with peanut butter candy coating and bits of those same cups, I took another 1/4 and filled that with chopped up snickers bar coated with milk chocolate candy coating, 1/4 was rolled in Oreo cookie crumbs and drizzled with chocolate candy coating, and the last 1/4 was rolled in simple graham cracker crumbs and drizzled in chocolate. The next batch I took the peppermint pan, rolled it and dipped it in dark chocolate mint candy coating and sprinkled with chopped up peppermint patties, the other pan was divided, 1/2 was rolled plain and dipped in dark chocolate, the last 1/2 I rolled with chopped up Maraschino cherries dipped in dark chocolate then sprinkled with chopped almonds.
There you go, my Cheesecake Popsapalooza..and the name..well I never thought I would get done ha-ha!
With out further ado, the recipe:

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.

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.

Over all, it really was very simple, very tasty and quite fun to do. Just do not do like me and think you can make 125 cheesecake pops in 1 day, its very hard for 1 person ha-ha!

And work, they loved them!! Recipes all around and raves. What a fantastic Recipe! I loved them!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My New Timer!!!

With all the Cupcake Hero's I have been doing, I wont deny that I find myself looking for cupcakes everywhere I turn. How can one not look for those cute little confections anywhere they go?? So at work the other day, I went into the gift shop, and what do I see?? Only the MOST adorable kitchen time ever!! And its Green favorite color!! I just had to share it with everyone!!
I know, I know..It looks like an Ice Cream cone.. But I swear .. Packaging says CUPCAKE!! And thats what I say!! ha-ha, I like it anyway!

On a sad note.. I didn't get the Cupcake Hero done this month =(. Not only could I not come up with something worthy of the Ingredient of choice, I simply didn't have the time =(. I just barely got the Challenge done, and that took me all day today ha-ha. But, I still can't wait to see what everyone came up with!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cinnamon Chips with Fruit Salsa

Once a month, My weekend has a carry in at work. I always try to bring something interesting and different. This weekend was hard, I usually know right away what I want to make, I could com up with nothing. I thought to do the Challenge..but am still torn on how I want to do it, I could do my Cupcake hero, but I must confess, I have NO idea what to do for that this month. So I went to work, Saturday perplexed trying to figure out what everyone else was going to do on Sunday so that maybe something would come to mind.
What did I find out you ask..that no one else had a clue at what they were going to bring either. Sigh, I can't not bring anything, I always have cool stuff, what the heck am I going to do???
I sat at the desk and started browsing random recipe sites, in hopes for ideas, but man I didn't even know if I wanted to do a dessert or something savory. How could I be at such a loss???
Then I see something that catches my eye...fruit salsa..hmm what is this??
So I look at it, and a couple different ones, and become intrigued. Hmm..I think I may have found it. I tested the chips that were with it, omg, they are soo good!! and decided to take the recipe and kind of make it my own. It was soo good and refreshing, and apparently addicting!!
So I give you,
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips :

For the chips:

Flour tortilla's
Granulated Sugar
Melted butter

Heat oven to 350. Mix Granulated sugar and Cinnamon to choice of flavor. Take tortilla and brush each side with melted butter, cut into strips or small triangles with a pizza cutter. Dredge each piece into the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on sheet tray. ( I used a large tray with holes). Bake a single layer for 8-10 min, or until lightly toasted. Put in bowl. Continue with desired amount of tortilla's.
I did mine the day before, they kept, super crispy over night, I brought the left overs home to see how long they will keep crisp! They are so very good, and am considering playing with variations ;)...garlic herb butter and Parmesan cheese is gonna be the next one I think!

For the Salsa:

1 pint Strawberries, Rinsed, and finely chopped
2 fugi apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/4 of a pineapple, finely chopped
4 kiwi, peeled and finely diced
the zest of half an orange
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
couple sprigs of mint, chopped
(I had a half a pineapple, that I just used the other 1/4 for something else)
*I changed the fruit from the recipe that I found, and added the zest & mint. I am sure you can use any mix of fruits and or zest that you like.

Mix all ingredients together and chill over night. Let sit at room temp just before serving. Serve with Cinnamon chips.

See its super easy, and very tasty. I was very pleased!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Strawberry Blueberry Muffins..

In the mood for Blueberry muffins, I pulled out my mother in laws recipe that I got a few years ago. I got into my stash of frozen blue berries, and found that I only had about 1 cup of them. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups. So I thought hmm what to add, why not Strawberries!! Since I did have some sitting around, they weren't that sweet ripe they should be, but they weren't bad and the flavors of the muffin should sweeten them up =). So I cut up another 1/2 cup of strawberries and put them both in the freezer to wait until I was ready for them. I also added the zest of one Orange to the liquid ingredients, how can you go wrong with good citrus zest ;).
The Recipe is very simple, and oh so tasty, I am thinking any fruit or berry would be quite wonderful in them, and intend on playing with them. Sadly I planned on using this wonderful Cinnamon sprinkle I have from pampered chef on them in place of the sugar..but...I even forgot the sugar!! NOO!!! I ran to the kitchen and the timer beeped..sigh no chance now lol well next time!
SO with out further ado... I give you

Strawberry Blueberry Muffins..

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter milk (or I used 1 tblsp lemon juice and filled the rest with milk to make my own )
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries ** ok here is where I did 1 cup berries and 1/2 cup strawberries chopped =) I would say 1 1/2 cups fruit or berries!
zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 400, paper 2 12 ct cupcake pans.
Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well, add buttermilk, eggs, butter and zest. Mix well. Fold in berries. Fill muffin papers half full. Top with sugar. Bake at 400 for about 15- 20 min. Mine took 15min so depends on the oven I would say.

See, super easy, and very yummy!!
Enjoy!sigh.. I need to take better pics =( they just don't do these yummy muffins justice lol.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Strawberry Seduction

When I saw the link for this event, I knew then that I had to come up with something. Who couldn't want to be Seduced by Strawberries. And Reading about Mike's 6lb's of Berries just made me want to come up with something even more. Of course, it took until almost the last day to get anything made. I wanted so much to be original and creative, I mulled over a couple different idea's and really want to make my version of Strawberry Risotto, but seeing as I am still trying to figure out how to put it together and not having the cash to make and remake til it is perfect right now, I settled for something a tid bit simpler. I browsed on line, and printed a slew of recipes just hoping to decide what to make. It has to be good enough for Strawberry Seduction of course. Well I am a Pie fan, and love me some crumb pie. So I decided on a Strawberry Crumb Pie, but, instead, it would be a tart, a nice 11 inch tart. and the urge to take this to work tomorrow is there, but damn I think I am just going to keep this one for myself.

Strawberry Crumb Tart:

1 stick of butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Crumb topping:

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
(ok I can't put something else in this, so I had a few sprinkles of my Pampered Chef cinnamon and Carmel sprinkles into this, they just sounded too good.)


6 cups(2 lbs) quartered strawberries
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon joice
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (OMG!!! I just literally realized while it is baking that my dumb dumb ass did teaspoons not tablespoons..dang it dang it dang it..its gonna be soupy =( sigh )
1/4 tsp grated orange zest

In the bowl of a food processor combine butter and cream cheese and process until smooth. Add flour and salt and process just until mixture comes together to form a ball. Remove dough from the processor and shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the pie crust is chilling, prepare the crumb topping. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and the oatmeal in a small bowl and toss to combine. ( I added the sprinkles stuff to this part ). Add the melted butter and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Working on a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch and fit it into a 10- 11 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Return pie crust to the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Then blind bake until lightly golden, about 18 minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool while you assemble the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl combine the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch and toss to combine. Spoon the filling into the prepared crust and spread the crumb topping evenly over the top of the filling. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour or until filling is bubbly and crust and crumb topping are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool to room temp before serving.

I will tell you, the filling is awesome, I kept picking at the strawberries cause they were soo good lol and it smells amazing, and soon I will know how good it is lol. It looks fantastic though!! and hehe yes its pretty damn good too!! damn was today a great productive day!!
Now ..hmm I still have a few Berries left, wonder if I can pull something else off before tomorrow ha-ha!

Well I did, and why do 2 posts when I can just add to this one. I had about 15 berries left, and decided to try to roast them. And why just roast them? heck stuff some too.
Of course, I either have a big dish or a small dish, so I chose the small dish and fit about a dozen berries in it. I took about 2 Tblsp unsalted butter and melted it in my dish. I then split a vanilla bean and scraped the seeds into that. I took each strawberry cut a little bit off the tip and the trimmed the top. Cut out the center so I had a small center to stuff. In half the strawberries I place 2-4 bittersweet chocolate chips, the others I sprinkled with orange zest. I then sprinkled 2 tbsp of brown sugar over all the berries, and a sprinkle of the Pampered chef sprinkles as well. I placed the cut vanilla bean on top and place in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 min. Watch them, you want them soft and slumping, but not burnt.
Pull them out of the oven and let them sit to cool for about 20 min. Gently scoop out the berries and pour the juices into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thick and syrupy. I kept the vanilla bean pod in it until the end for ultimate flavor. Pour over Berries and enjoy =). After eating this one, the Bittersweet chocolate was oh my gosh intense!! good but almost too intense for more than maybe 2 berries in a sitting, the orange were soo yummy!! over some pound cake, who needs traditional short cake anymore?? Not me. Both would be great over Vanilla Ice Cream as well, just barely warm so they melt it a bit..mmm...WOohoo Thanks Mike!! this was tons of fun!!
Woohoo...2 entries, am so proud ha-ha!