Monday, September 19, 2016

Easy Hummus

Ok, here's a quick and easy recipe that definitely falls under the heading of "It's better when YOU make it." Oh sure it's super easy to just pick up a tub of hummus at your grocery store, but it's just so much better when you make it at home using fresh ingredients. Plus, you can adjust it to suit your own tastes. Maybe you like a little more garlic, or a little less lemon juice. You do you! For me, there is as big of a difference as when using fresh vegetables as opposed to using canned vegetables. There's really just no comparison. And it's easy! I found this recipe on a blog called Inspired Taste. It's REALLY yummy and super simple. You just keep throwing things into the food processor and it only take a few minutes. Boom. So if you are a fan of hummus but have never made it fresh, I urge you to give it a try. You may never go back to buying it!

1 (15oz) can chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini (sesame paste)
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Dash ground paprika, for serving

 In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended. Open, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes. With the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Drizzle hummus with a little olive oil and dash of paprika. Serve with pita chips or veggies.

If you don't have tahini or don't like it, you can simply leave it out or use all natural unsweetened peanut butter.
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of hummus. Having a party? Double it!
Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Peach Cobbler Bake

 Have you ever seen those Tasty cooking videos that pop up all over Facebook? Sometimes I don't really give them a second look, but other times I think "ooooo that looks pretty awesome, I need to try it." Such was the case with this one! It's REALLY absurdly easy to make and it's absolutely delicious. I made it for some friends, and they LOVED it, but tbh it seemed to me that it needed a little extra love. So I made it again and just tweaked it ever so slightly. OMG so much better! Clearly, the Tasty Video people should have called me first. LOL
 So this is my version of the recipe. Thanx again, Tasty Video, for the idea, but I think I'll stick to making it my way from now on! It's still absurdly easy to make, and I know you'll love it!

2 cans cinnamon roll dough
5 large ripe fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Spray a 9x13 (or comparable size) casserole with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Open the cans of dough. Cut each roll into 9 pieces. Place half of the pieces of dough in the prepared pan in a single layer. In a large mixing bowl, toss the peaches with the cinnamon and sugar. Place on top of dough pieces. Place the rest of the dough in a single layer on top of the peaches. Take the cups of icing that were included with the cinnamon rolls and microwave them for about 10 seconds, then drizzle over the cobbler. Place in oven and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the peaches are bubbly and the dough has baked up and is slightly brown. Let it cool for a bit. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

I doubled the original recipe so that it would feed a crowd, but if you have a smaller group, you can absolutely cut it in half and bake it in an 8x8 pan.
Seems to me that this recipe would work perfectly with other fruits too! Berries, apples, pears, all good!  I bet you could even use canned peaches, in a pinch. Just be sure to drain them really well!

Monday, September 5, 2016

S'mores Cake

 I recently made this cake for my dear friend, Bridgette. My fabulous gang of friends had already planned to get together for dinner at my place (which we often do). Then, upon discovering that our dinner night was to be the day after Bridgette's birthday, I thought "Well of course we should have cake!" I immediately nixed my original dessert ideas for the dinner and then texted Jim to see what Bridgette's favorite flavors are. He told me she likes S'mores. So I figured, well then lets have a S'mores Cake! I immediately started googling and found this AMAZING recipe on a blog called Liv For Cake (which you should absolutely check out, btw!) The Graham cracker cake recipe is hers, and so is the recipe for the fluff, both of which are absolutely delish!
  Now, I know this may seem like a lot with the different components and all, but this is TOTALLY doable and the final showstopping result is completely worth it! I piped the marshmallow onto the cake and then torched it just before serving. All of the piped peaks began to get nicely browned and toasted and it smelled SO GOOD! (That's when all the oooos and aahhhhhs started happening LOL). It felt like the blowing-out-the-candles part was the first act, and this was the finale! Everyone absolutely loved it and several people even had a second slice. It's just that good!
 So if you have a special occasion coming up, this is definitely what you should make! The cake is fabulous, the ganache is sinful, but let's be serious, it's all about the fluff! I KNOW your friends and family will love it!

Graham Cracker Cake:
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla

Milk Chocolate Ganache:
12oz milk chocolate (finely chopped)
6 oz heavy cream
2 Tbsp Baileys (optional)

Marshmallow Fluff:
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup or honey
3 egg whites (room temperature)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease and flour two 9" cake rounds.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add sugars and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition. Do not overmix. Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the top with a spatula and whack the pans against the counter to evenly distribute. Bake for approx. 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins. Whack the pans on the counter to loosen the cakes and turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
For the Ganache:
Finely chop chocolate and place into a bowl. Bring cream just barely to a simmer and pour over chopped chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 2 mins. Stir with a spatula until combined and smooth. Cool in the refrigerator until thickened, but still soft (stirring occasionally). Transfer to bowl of stand mixer and whip using the whisk attachment until the ganache is fluffy and has lightened in color (approx. 1 or 2 minutes).
For the Marshmallow Fluff:
Place water, sugar, and corn syrup (or honey) in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine. Insert a candy thermometer into the pot and heat over medium-high. Do not stir from this point on as crystals will form. Ensure mixer bowl and whisk are completely grease free. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the sugar syrup reaches about 225°F, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. Approx 3-4mins. When the whites are ready, the sugar syrup should be at 240°F. Remove from the heat, turn mixer to medium and very slowly and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin, steady stream. Once all of the syrup is in, set mixer to medium/high and continue whipping. The whites will deflate at first, but they will thicken and fluff up. Continue to whip for 7-8 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and glossy. Add in vanilla and whip until the fluff has cooled. Pour into an airtight container and store for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.

To assemble the cake:
Once the cakes have cooled completely, frost the layers with the whipped ganache. Place in fridge to set. Spread or pipe marshmallow fluff roughly all over cake and torch to toast.

The original recipe was for 3 6" layers. I baked it in 2 9" layers and it turned out perfectly, so that's how I have it listed in the recipe.
I used honey in the marshmallow instead of corn syrup which definitely gave it a distinctively honey taste. I figured honey and grahams are a great match! But if you'd rather have straight up marshmallow, I'd say you should probably just stay with corn syrup!
You can use store bought fluff for the cake, but it has been my experience then it doesn't set up. It just sort of globs down the sides of the cake and makes a big mess. Definitely go for the homemade!
Btw, I know I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again. Whenever I need buttermilk for a recipe, I always just add a tbs of lemon juice or vinegar to a one cup measure, fill it the rest of the way with milk, then microwave for 30 seconds. Boom. Buttermilk!