Monday, June 29, 2015

Red Velvet Cherry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Blueberries

 Are you all set for your 4th of July BBQ? Burgers, check. Hot dogs, check. Watermelon, corn on the cob, Check! Oh, and definitely be sure to wear red white and blue!! That's what we always do in my family! And to go with your Patriotic attire, I have the perfect Patriotic dessert for you! I found this year's 4th of July recipe while I was browsing recipes LAST 4th of July. As soon as I saw it, I thought YES! Simple, easy to make, deliciously decadent, and red white & blue! Perfect! I couldn't wait to make it for this year's post!
 I made it for Chris and Claire and they both just loved it. Claire loved that it wasn't overly sweet, and Chris said he liked how the cream cheese ice cream was the perfect thing to go with the cobbler and the berries. It's best when you have the perfect bite of all three things in one go. LOVE that! Oh, and the other great thing about this recipe is that it's a total do-ahead. I made mine the night before I was planning to serve it and it was perfect.
 So, lets talk about the recipes for a minute, shall we? The recipe for the cobbler is from Southern Living and I found it on Great recipe, yes, but I did tweak it, slightly. I changed it from the original mixed berry cobbler to a fresh cherry cobbler, just because the fresh cherries at the market looked so good, and I was going for a deep red velvet color. And who doesn't love chocolate and cherry together?? Feel free to make whichever kind of cobbler you like!
 The ice cream recipe is from I looked at several recipes, and most of the ones I saw contained eggs. I was looking for an ice CREAM, not a frozen custard (which is technically what the addition of eggs would be), and I wasn't in the mood to cook the custard, and let it cool, etc. I just wanted to mix up the cream base, freeze it in my ice cream maker and enjoy. Perhaps next time I'll try one of the frozen custard recipes, but for now, I'm fine with the regular ice cream!
 So there you have it. Red velvet cobbler, white ice cream, and fresh blueberries. It just may be one of my favorite 4th of July recipes ever! I think you'll enjoy it too! Try it!

For the cobbler:
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided 
4 cups assorted fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup butter, softened 
2 large eggs 
2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together cornstarch and 1/2 cup sugar. Toss cherries with cornstarch mixture, and spoon into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. (btw, I added a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the fruit/cornstarch mixture, just to brighten up the flavor a bit. Just sayin!)
 Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in red food coloring and vanilla until blended. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Stir together buttermilk, vinegar, and baking soda in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. (Mixture will bubble.) Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Spoon batter over berry mixture. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake topping comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.

For the ice cream:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup whole milk
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Blend cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in cream. Freeze cream cheese mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. Let ice cream soften 5 minutes before serving.

As I said before, use whatever kind of fruit you like. Not a cherry fan? Use strawberries or raspberries! Or both! I'm sure you can use any other kind of fruit you like, but then you'll be introducing other colors instead of just red white and blue.
When you're making the ice cream, be sure to add the lemon juice. Tbh, at first, I wasn't even going to add it. Here's the thing... when I make a cheesecake, I like it to be a PLAIN cheesecake instead of a lemony one. I figured this would be the same sort of situation, but no. You definitely want the tang from the lemon in this instance. It makes the ice cream taste more like cream cheese! And one other thing..this ice cream recipe makes a small batch. If you have a big crowd, you may want to plan on making several batches ahead of time. Just sayin'!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Red, White, and Blueberry Chicken Salad

 If you're one of my regular readers, you know that I like to share red white and blue dessert recipes for the 4th of July.  I'm always looking for fresh new things that would be perfect to bring to a 4th of July cookout. Well, did you ever think of making a SAVORY dish that is red white and blue? Once before, I made a Strawberry Salsa served with sour cream and blue corn chips (which was delicious, btw), and now I have this delicious recipe to add to my savory recipes for the 4th of July!
 Now, I know you may be saying "blueberries in chicken salad??" And to that I say "ABSOLUTELY!" It's light and fresh and it's the perfect salad to serve while you're celebrating the 4th. You could also make sandwiches and have a picnic! It's just different enough to be a showstopper but tasty enough to not have any leftovers. Cool, huh? It's my version of a recipe I found online and I hope you'll give it a try!

3 cups cooked chicken (roughly one rotisserie chicken, shredded or diced)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste

Place the chicken, blueberries, and peppers in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the chicken and gently toss until well coated with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Can be made a day ahead. That's all there is to it!

-Be sure to toss the ingredients GENTLY when you mix them. You don't want to smash the berries.
-Instead of using onion powder, you can use some diced scallions instead. If you're keeping with the red white and blue, just use the white parts of the scallions!
-Not a fan of Greek yogurt? Use sour cream instead!
-The original recipe called for lemon yogurt. I tasted it and all I could taste was the artificial sweetener. Ugh. Not at all what I was hoping for. That's why I figured the plain yogurt, lemon juice and just a touch of sugar would be a better alternative. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cinnamon Roll Cake

 Here's a quick and easy dessert to make when you're short on time. It only requires a few basic ingredients that you might already have on hand, it doesn't take long to bake, and you can serve it warm right out of the oven. It's perfect! No need to run to the grocery store, no need to let it cool, pop it in the oven when your guests are on their way, and it'll be ready when they arrive! And it makes the whole house smell HEAVENLY while it's baking! No, it's not my own recipe. It was posted on FB by my friend, Lauren, from a blog called Chef in Training. Sharing is caring! And this one is DEFINITELY worth sharing! I promise it will be gone in less time than it took to make it!

3 cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup butter, melted

 1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

 2 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 glass baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer, add the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Once combined well, slowly stir in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared 9×13 baking pan.
  In a large bowl mix the 2 sticks of butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until well combined and creamy. Drop evenly over the batter by tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean.
  In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together with a whisk. Drizzle evenly over the warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

There's not much I would do to change this recipe. It's pretty perfect as it is. If you like, you could add some chopped pecans or walnuts to it. Just chop them very finely, and then sprinkle them over the top after you glaze the cake.
Another thing I might do is to add cream cheese to the glaze, sort of like the same vibe as the cream cheese frosting on a Cinnabon. Know what I mean?  LOVE that.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sweet Garlic Chicken

  Here's a quick and easy recipe that my friend, CJ, posted on Facebook (so he would be able to find it to try it later). I made it for a quick movie night with some friends and it was a big hit!
 Now, I know brown sugar and garlic don't seem like ingredients that you would normally put together (I was a little skeptical too!) But just go with it. It's REALLY tasty! Oh, also, the ingredients and cooking times aren't exactly clear, but just read my notes down at the bottom. I promise it'll work! Thanx for the suggestion, CJ! Maybe I'll cook this for you the next time I visit Florida!!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional herbs and spices, as desired*
Preheat oven to 400°F  
Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil. In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken. Serve with rice or potatoes and a roasted or steamed vegetable.

I sliced the chicken breasts horizontally so I would have thinner pieces and twice as many of them. This serves two purposes. It doesn't take as long to cook, plus it makes the meal go further. I baked mine for 20-25 minutes. They were perfect!
*I know, I know. The recipe is VERY vague when it comes to herbs and spices. You can go in so many directions with it! I decided to go with fresh basil and fresh oregano, just because I have lots of fresh herbs growing, and I figured they'd go well with the garlic. Add as much as you like!
 I think next time I might try going in an Indian direction by adding onions, chopped fresh ginger, and garam masala. Mmm that sounds pretty fabulous to me! 


Monday, June 1, 2015

Tres Leches Cake

  Are you familiar with a Tres Leches cake? Tres Leches (which means three milks) is basically a sponge cake that is soaked with a sweet milk mixture containing 3 kinds of milk: Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. (mmm, I swear I could put that milk sauce on anything!) I first learned of this recipe a few years ago and kind of forgot about it. Then my sister in law, Karen, made it for a family event, (and everyone loved it), and I knew I needed to hop to it. Cut to a Mexican themed dinner night at my place a few weeks later and I had the perfect excuse to make it. (Not that I ever need an excuse to bake a cake!)
 Well, everyone loved it at my Mexican dinner night, and I also brought some to Chris and Claire. Big hits all around! I said to Chris "So, I'm guessing I should make this again soon?" He quickly gave me a look that said "Uh, ya THINK????" LOL yes, Chris, I will make it again soon. Promise!
 It's really simple to make and uses basic ingredients that you might already have on hand. Oh, and you make it in advance, so it's a time saver too!
Hope you'll give it a try!

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Milk Sauce:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

 Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon shortening. Add 1 tablespoon flour to the greased pan and shake it around to coat entire pan with flour. Shake out excess flour. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and gradually add sugar with mixer running, beating until stiff peaks form.
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each egg is added.
In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to batter in stages, alternating with whole milk, beginning and ending with flour. (Do this quickly so that batter does not lose its volume.) Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
In a blender, combine milk sauce ingredients and blend on high for 45 seconds.
Use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes in cake, and slowly pour milk mixture over warm cake. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, beat whipped cream topping ingredients except cinnamon with a mixer until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over chilled cake. Dust with cinnamon. Served chilled.

I didn't grease and flour the pan. I just used a baking spray that has flour in it. SO much easier!
When it's time to pour the milk mixture over the cake, you're gonna think "there's no way in hell all this milk sauce is gonna go into this cake." but trust me! It will! Just pour slowly and let it sink in.
The cinnamon it one of my favorite things about this cake. It gives you the same sort of vibe you get from rice pudding, sweet cream and cinnamon. SO good! You can serve it just as is, or with any kind of ripe fresh fruit, such as pineapple or strawberries. You could also serve it with banana slices and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. LOVE that.