Sunday, February 23, 2014

Individual Chocolate Toffee Cheesecakes

The last week has been crazy busy so I haven't had time to get on the computer to share the recipe for the dessert I made Luke for Valentine's Day.  It was kind of difficult for me to decide what I wanted to make for him this year.  I went back and forth on several different ideas but I finally decided on chocolate toffee cheesecake.   Instead of making a cheesecake, I decided to make individual cheesecakes using a muffin tin.  I also decided I didn't want to make a graham cracker crust so instead I made a Nilla Wafer crust.

The recipe makes 12 individual cheesecakes.

The Crust:

36 Nilla Wafers
4 tablespoons melted butter

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray.  Using a food processor, pulse the Nilla Wafers and slowly add the melted butter.  Pour about 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each of the greased muffin cups and press down the crust until it's packed.  Then refrigerate while making the cheesecake filling.

Cheesecake Filling (the actual cheesecake filling recipe, excluding the Heath Bits, is from Taste of Home):

2 package of cream cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 8 ounce bag Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits

Beat the cream cheese and eggs in a bowl.  Then add 1/3 cup of sugar, teaspoon of vanilla extract and salt.  Beat for about a minute until the ingredients are combined.  Pour the bag of the Heath Bits into the mixture and stir until combined.  Using an ice cream scoop, pour the cheesecake filling over the individual Nilla Wafer crust.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  While the cheesecakes are baking, mix the ingredients for the topping.

Cheesecake Topping:

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Beat the sour cream and sugar together.  Then stir in the vanilla extract.  Spoon the topping over the cheesecakes and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Cool completely and then refrigerate overnight.

Before serving the cheesecakes, melt 12 ounces of chocolate chips (6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips and 6 ounces dark chocolate chips) over a double boiler.  Once melted, add a tablespoon of grapeseed oil for an extra glossy effect.  Drizzle the chocolate over the individual cheesecakes and sprinkle the Heath Bits on top.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

While in the grocery store over the weekend, I started craving strawberry cake.  The next thing I knew, I was walking down the baking aisle, and I spotted Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme cake mix.  Needless to say, it ended up in my grocery cart.

By the time I got home, I decided to make cupcakes instead of a cake with cream cheese icing with a hint of strawberry.  I realized I didn't have any frozen strawberries.  Fortunately, Luke had a few errands to run so he made a trip back to the store for me.  

I made the cupcakes by following the box instructions which made 16 cupcakes.  They baked in a 325 degree oven for 18 minutes.  The cupcakes are delicious but the homemade strawberry cream cheese icing was absolutely amazing!  Luke stood at the counter and ate spoonfuls of icing right out of the mixing bowl!

Recipe for the Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing:

1/2 stick butter (I always bake with Parkay)
4 oz. cream cheese
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 thawed or fresh strawberries (smashed)

Place a colander in a bowl.  Put the strawberries in the colander and smash the strawberries with a potato masher.  The bowl will catch the juice from the strawberries.  Once the strawberries are smashed, put them aside and let the juice continue to drain into the bowl.  Using a mixer, cream the softened butter and cream cheese.  Once combined, add the confectioners sugar a 1/2 cup at a time.  When all of the confectioners sugar is combined with the butter and cream cheese mixture, add the smashed strawberries.  Depending on how much moisture is in the strawberries, you may need to add a little more confectioners sugar because the strawberries could make the icing too runny.  Once you have the consistency you want, stir in the vanilla extract.  

This is a fairly thin icing so I actually dipped the cupcakes into the mixing bowl.  

After I took the pictures, I decided the cupcakes needed a second dip in the icing. ;)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's Chili Weather in SC

We've actually had a lot of snow/wintery mix in SC over the last couple of weeks.  Well, it's a lot for SC at least.  I'm not a cold weather person so I'm ready for this to go away!  I'm so ready for Spring!  It's nice to have one snow day a year but that's all I want to see.  I could never live up North!

Izzy was trying to dig her tennis ball out of the snow and ice.

When it's cold like this, a bowl of chili is the best dinner to warm everyone up.  For dinner tonight I made my bean chili. 

I came up with this recipe last year.  It was one of SC's cold days and I had been running errands all morning.  All I wanted was a bowl of soup or chili for lunch.  At that time, I had only been a vegetarian for a few months so I had no idea what I would make.  On my drive home, I came up with this recipe...

3 cans Great Northern Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can diced green chiles
1 can Original Rotal tomatoes
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 cups vegetable broth (I use jarred Vegetable Base Better Than Bouillon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large pot, heat one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and garlic.  While the onions and garlic are softening.  I prepare the Better Than Bouillon mixture in a separate pot.  If you use prepared stock, you can skip this step.  For the Better Than Bouillon, boil 2 cups of water and stir in 2 teaspoons of the Better Than Bouillon.  Remove from heat.

Next, add the beans, green chiles, and Rotels to the softened onions and garlic.  Once combined, add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and add the vegetable stock.  Simmer the chili on low for 30 minutes to an hour.

Tonight, I also made homemade tortilla chips.  I usually make these with plan Carb-Balance tortillas but I changed it up tonight.  Tonight, I used Trader Jose's Habanero Lime Flour Tortillas.

Per serving, cut a tortilla into tortilla size chips (usually makes 8 triangles/chips).  Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and add the tortillas.  Then spray the top of each tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt over the triangles.  Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven (turning the chips over after 5 minutes).  I added a little extra yumminess to the chips tonight...I sprinkled cheese over the top of the chips and put them back in the oven for 2 more minutes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Favorite Seared Scallops

Scallops are one of those foods that are so easy to cook and so easy to mess up.  That's why Jamie makes me cook them. I've got a simple recipe that has a little heat.

Get some nice big scallops.  Pat the scallops dry or set them out to dry. While you do this, put some Olive Oil in a non-stick pan and turn on med heat.

Once scallops are dry and the oil is heated, go ahead and salt and pepper the scallops and put your favorite seasoning on them (we prefer Everglades Heat).

At this point, put the scallops in the pan and cook the scallops.  Sear both sides till nice and golden brown. I also like squeezing a lemon on the scallops for a little extra flavoring.

This is our seared scallops along with cauliflower mash and sauteed balsamic green beans.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Valentine's Day is just around the corner...

I need some suggestions for a Valentine's Day dessert.  Luke and I always have Valentine's Day dinner at home.  Luke is always in charge of dinner and I'm always in charge of the dessert.  He never tells me what he's cooking and I never tell him what I'm baking, and we always cook something we've never made before which makes it fun.

I bake something new every week so I can't decide what I want to bake for Valentine's Day.  I want it to be something special...not something I'd bake on any ordinary day.

Last year, I made a Mississippi Mud S'Mores Fudge Pie with Chocolate Frosting.  Oh my goodness, it was incredible!!!!  I wish I could claim that recipe but I found it on the My Recipes website.

Last year's Valentine's Day dessert...Mississippi Mud S'Mores Fudge Pie

Luke loves chocolate so I know the dessert has to be chocolate, but I can't think of anything Valentine's Day worthy.  Any suggestions???



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