Chocolate Ganache Brownies

This past weekend Robert and I made a Valentine’s Day dinner together. On the menu was artisan bread, garlic-roasted gulf shrimp, roasted asparagus, scalloped potatoes au gratin, t-bone steak, and these chocolate ganache brownies with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. It just isn’t Valentine’s day without chocolate and it wasn’t difficult to decide what I’d be making for dessert. One of Robert’s all time favorite treats is brownie sundaes, and I knew he would love this classic dish.

Robert was in charge of making the ice cream (with the new ice cream maker we got for Christmas) and I tackled the brownies. Both the brownie and the ganache recipes are from Martha Stewart and the end result is a sinfully rich and fudgey brownie. As soon as you taste this-and as you are blissfully adding copious amounts of heavy cream and butter to the ganache and brownie batter- you know it’s going straight to your rear end, but I have to tell you… it’s worth it. Every last bite.

It was a special occasion meal and we ate very lightly all day so we could really enjoy it. I’ve read before that hunger is the best seasoning for food, which is very true. What is also very true is that hunger is the best catalyst for the effects of red wine, which inevitably leads to a lot of laughing and a much messier kitchen than normal. :)

Everything was really delicious and Robert and I have come to the agreement that cooking together is one of our favorite hobbies. For as much time as we put in the meal, we decided it was important that we take time to savor it. And I’m glad we did.

Have a great week, everyone!

Chocolate Ganache Brownies

Printable Version

Yield: 9 large brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, allowing about a 2 inch overhang.

2.Place the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water, allowing the ingredients to melt. Remove and stir until smooth. allow to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. ut sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale yellow, about 4 minutes.  Add chocolate mixture; mix until combined.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined.

4. Pour batter into pan. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a cake test comes out with a few crumbs (but not wet). Allow to cool completely.

5. Make the ganache. Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until just simmering. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Add in butter and gently stir until smooth. Allow ganache to cool, stirring every 10 minutes, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. Allow to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes until the ganache becomes firm. Lift up the parchment from the pan to remove the brownies. Cut and enjoy!

Baked Chicken Fingers

Ah, chicken fingers. The food that is universally loved by all. When I was younger I went through a stage where all I ordered at restaurants were these easy to handle bites of chicken. Now I am older and much wiser (please note the sarcasm) and my tastes have broadened, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what I used to love every once in awhile.

The great thing about these chicken fingers are that they are baked. Instead of requiring cups of oil to fry, this recipe only calls for two tablespoons of olive oil. I’ve made baked chicken fingers before, but the coating never stayed on and they always came out of the oven soggy. These, my friends, are different. The coating is made with flour and crushed rice crispies and it has a magical way of adhering to every centimeter of the chicken.

Although I don’t have any children, I think these babies would be a favorite for little ones. And adults will love them, too. :)

Happy Friday, everyone! Have a wonderful weekend.

Baked Chicken Fingers

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475. Place flour in a shallow bowl, and egg in another one; season both with salt and pepper. Pulse cereal and oil in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a third shallow bowl.
  2. Coat chicken: first in flour, shaking off excess; then with egg, letting excess drip off; and finally in cereal mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Place on a baking sheet, and bake until light golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, turning over halfway through.

Egg in a Nest

Egg in the nest is a special treat my mom used to make my siblings and me for breakfast while we were growing up. I always thought this was her own invention until I saw a recipe for it a few years ago. And then I saw it on Pioneer Woman. And then I saw it on Pinterest. I was flabbergasted, yet happy to know that others have come to love this wonderful creation.

It’s super simple to make.  All you need is a piece of bread, an egg, a little butter, and salt and pepper. Next you cut out a little “nest” in the bread, toast both sides of the hollowed out bread and extra bread nugget, add the egg and a little salt and pepper and cook according to your preference. It’s a lovely. And it’s a perfect treat for your Valentine, or for yourself.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Awww yeah- it’s the week before Valentine’s day and pink and red hearts are flooding my thoughts and dreams. While I don’t consider myself a girlie girl who likes chick flicks  and princessey (I’ve decided to make that a word) stuff, I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day. Mostly because I love chocolate. And baking. And, of course, my wonderful husband Robert. :)

To kick off the Valentine’s day celebrations, I made these red velvet whoopie pies. Two cakey red cookies are filled with a rich cream cheese frosting for a fun twist on a special dessert.

Whether or not you are celebrating this Valentine’s day with a special someone, it’s always nice to have a little heart-shaped treat to help remind us of the people in our lives that we love, be it our moms, dads, siblings, friends, partners, or even pets. Love is in the air. :)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 oz red food coloring, more or less depending on how red you want the batter to be (I used Americolor food coloring)

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa power, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the egg, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.

4. Gradually add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

5. Add in the food coloring and stir until mixed evenly. Do not overmix!

6. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round pastry tip (I used Wilton #12 tip).

7. Pipe hearts onto the baking sheets, keeping them about 2 inches apart. Smooth down the top of the batter with a greased knife.

8. Bake for 7-9 minutes, remove from the oven, transfer to baking racks,  and allow to cool completely.

9. To make the frosting, whip together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag.

10. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.  Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Homemade Ranch Dressing

What is it with Americans and ranch dressing? People eat it with everything- salad, raw vegetables, baked potatoes, pizza, chips.  I’m starting to think all of these foods are just vehicles for the creamy sauce that us Americans apparently can’t eat enough. I’m not usually a fan of ranch dressing. I prefer blue cheese and vinaigrettes, but I saw this recipe on Pinterest and thought I should give the homemade version a try. The result? No contest. The homemade version is ten times better than what you buy in the store. It’s so much more flavorful with the fresh herbs and garlic. And it barely takes 10 minutes to throw together. I even lightened it up by swapping some of the mayo and sour cream for plain Greek yogurt.

If you love ranch dressing, you must give this version a try.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Yield: 16 2-Tbsp dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small bunch of chives
  • 1 small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (white pepper, preferred)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender with only 1/4 cup of buttermilk.

2. Blend for 10 seconds. Gradually add in more buttermilk until you achieve the desired consistency.

3. Store in an airtight container for 1 week.

Source: Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter

My Favorite Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorite comfort foods. Especially chewy ones. Like these. A few years ago, my mom stumbled upon this recipe and it has been our favorite ever since. They are perfectly chewy with a perfect balance of salt and cinnamon. The only thing that would make them better is throwing in a heaping handful of plump, juicy raisins; but there is a boy that I live with that likes oatmeal cookies sans raisins. He’s not normally picky, but in this instance he is. And since I can’t eat the whole batch myself- well technically I could- I left them out. Also, my mom sometimes adds in coconut and almonds and that is really delicious too. It’s really up to personal preference.

If you are looking for a great oatmeal cookie that’s chewy and flavorful, look no further. These are quite tasty. And they make your house smell heavenly. :)

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • Raisins, nuts, coconut (optional)

Directions

1.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and both sugars.

2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Add in the oats and stir until just combined. Add in any extras (raisins, nuts, coconut, etc), if desired.

5. Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, cover, and chill for at least an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place on the cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Press down gently with fingertips.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don’t overbake. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com