Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Peanut Butter Balls/Oreo Balls

We have an annual Halloween Party and I wanted to make these dessert balls this year. I have eaten them at other parties and functions, but never made them myself. It was fun and easy to make them, but took some time and patience. I am writing both recipes for the dessert balls and pictures of the process and outcome. Both made alot of servings and were a hit at the party.

Peanut Butter Balls

*2 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter
*1/2 cup butter
* 4 cups confectioners' sugar
* 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Melt peanut butter and butter in saucepan, over low heat. In a large bowl pour sugar. Then pour melted peanut butter and butter over sugar and blend together thoroughly.
2. Form 1 inch balls or smaller balls, spread on cookie sheets, and chill until firm in refrigerator (overnight is okay).
3. Melt chocolate in double boiler and keep melted while working with balls. Dip to cover and place on cookie sheet. Keep chilled until firm.

Oreo Balls

*1 package Oreo cookies, crushed (regular size)
*1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
*1 package white chocolate almond bark

1. Using a blender or food processor, mix Oreos and cream cheese together.
2. Roll into walnut size balls.
3. Chill for an hour.
4. Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark.
5. Stick toothpick in an Oreo ball, and dip it in the melted white chocolate.

Optional: When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, you can decorate them by drizzling chocolate on top.

From My Experience: To melt the chocolate, I used the double boiler method as shown above. Boil water in a pot. With the chocolate inside, put a bowl on top of the pot. The steam and heat from the boiling water will melt the chocolate without burning it. This will also keep the chocolate melted while you are trying to coat the ball. Just make sure you have enough water boiling in the pot because it does evaporate in the process and could dry out if the water boils long enough. Place the dessert balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper sprayed with nonstick spray. To cool the balls faster, I stuck them in the freezer. In this process I made the balls one day, then coated them in chocolate on another day. If you decide to freeze the balls completely like I did, you will want to let them thaw a little so the chocolate will stick. I used chocolate almond bark and white chocolate almond bark for the recipes instead of chocolate chips. It seems to dry thicker and coat better. They both tasted yummy of course and made a great party dessert since they were each just a couple of bites a piece. Everyone loved them and I will definitely make them again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Halloween Madness Chili Bake

I love Halloween! I loved dressing up as a kid and going trick-or-treating. As an adult, I still look forward to the candy but have moved passed the costumes on to the decorations and fun food. This week I wanted to make a Halloween recipe that wasn't gory or gruesome so I chose an easy chili casserole for the occassion.

Halloween Madness Chili Bake
40 minutes 6 servings

* 1 1/4 pound ground turkey
* 1 can (16 oz.) spicy chili beans in sauce, undrained
* 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz.)
* 1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated reduced fat crescent dinner rolls
* 1 tablespoon cornmeal

1. Heat oven to 375. In a skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat 7-9 minutes, stirring frequently until no longer pink; drain if necessary. Stir in beans; heat until hot. Pour hot mixture into ungreased 11x17-inch or 8x8-inch (2 quart) glass baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.

2. Unroll dough onto flat surface; firmly press perforations to seal. Using small Halloween-shaped cutter, cut shape out of center of dough. Place dough sheet evenly over top. Sprinkle cornmeal all over dough except on cutout area.

3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe found in Pillsbury October 2007 Halloween magazine

From My Experience:
If I am honest, I didn't do a very good job of following this recipe. I didn't have the can of chili beans so instead I used a can of chili tomatoes combined with a can of rinsed and drained kidney beans. I also added chili powder and garlic salt to my ground turkey to give it more chili flavor. Then I forgot to add the cheese! It tasted like a chili bake for sure, but my husband thought it was bland. Perhaps if I had added the cheese at least it would have tasted better. From the pictures you can see that I used a pumpkin shape cutter. This was the hardest part. It was difficult to transfer the long, flattened dough after the shapes had been cut and removed. It was so disasterous, I ended up wadding the dough up and starting over; luckily I had bought two cans of dough! To make it work, I put the flat dough on top of the casserole, then cut out the shapes. For this reason, the pumpkin shapes did not cut so sharply but you can still see the resemblance of my desired cutout.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

8 Months

Sloane is at a really fun stage right now! She is such a happy baby and keeps developing more and more personality. She still tends to laugh at noises she thinks are funny or the sight of Lily lying nearby, but now she is ticklish too. She will squirm and giggle when you tickle her. Sloane has also become very observant. She knows when you are eating and drinking and wants a sip of whatever you have in your cup. She sees the patterns on fabric or fuzz on the floor and tries to eat them. She notices jewelry and other fun accessories. She also points to things and touches objects with her index finger. Sloane has also developed a bashful side. When someone approaches her, she will shy away. She puts her hands above her head or on her hair and smiles slyly, then turns her face away; it is so cute. She hasn't made many changes in her routines or growth and movement. She isn't crawling yet, although she has got the army crawl and rolling down, and she also hasn't cut a tooth. I can see a hint of where they will be once they emerge, but so far they have not surfaced. She is still a excellent eater; I haven't found anything she doesn't like. She still LOVES her formula. And she is still a great sleeper. She is starting to figure out how to pick up and drink out of her sippy cup, and we are about to start working on Gerber Graduates. She can pick them up, but swallowing them is different for Sloane, and she is not so sure about their texture.

Here are some new things Miss Sloane can do:

*look for a dropped object
*object if you try to take a toy away
*understand "no" (but doesn't always obey it)
*feed self a cracker
*pick up tiny object with thumb and finger

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
makes two 1-pound balls

With one batch of dough, you have enough to make two large pizza shells or eight individual ones.

*1 1/2 cups warm water (115) water
packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
*1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
*2 tablespoons sugar
*2 teaspoons coarse salt
*2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading
*2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

1. Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

2. In a bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.

To freeze 1-pound balls: Set balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

To freeze individual shells: Divide each ball of dough into 4-pieces. Using your hands, stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let rest a few minutes). Freeze shells on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Stack frozen shells between layers of parchment paper. Freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Bake from frozen.

To bake preheat oven to 450. Spray your pizza pan with non-stick spray. After dough ball is thawed, stretch the dough to form your crust. If the dough isn't stretching to the length desired, let it sit to rest then try working with the dough again. Once the crust shape is formed, poke it with a fork several times. It tastes good if you rub olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt on the edge of the crust. Bake until crust is golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Recipe found in 2009 January/February edition of Everyday Food magazine

From My Experience: Pizza is sadly my favorite food, but it is not a very healthy choice. For this reason, this recipe for whole-wheat pizza dough was intrigueing to me. I tried this recipe with my friend who is a chef. We made 8 batches so that we could save some pizza dough for a pizza party later on. If you are going to make homeade pizza dough, you might as well double the recipe so you have it on hand for a quicker pizza in the future. I made two pizzas to eat that night and a calzone, then we froze the rest in balls. The pizzas came out pretty good. One of the pizzas had a thinner crust and I liked it better because it didn't have such a strong wheat flavor. This recipe made me feel less guilty about eating pizza so I will probably make it again; I love pizza!

Happy Birthday Nana Sue!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Ganache Dessert Cups

My recipe this week is a party dessert. Over the weekend I helped host a baby shower. One of my duties was to make a ganache dessert. It needed to be served in some form of an edible cup, with a topping, and bite-size. I had never made ganache before, but they were a favorite at the party. Many people asked for the recipe so here it is from my experience. There are two recipes that I used for the over all dessert, one for the ganache and the other for the cup.


2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Place chocolate chips in a large bowl, or in a bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the cream into a saucepan, and bring to a boil. As soon as the cream boils up to the top of the pan, quickly remove it from the heat, and pour it over the chips. Let stand for a minute or two, then stir with a whisk, or use the paddle attachment for the mixer, to mix until smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl occassionally. Stir in the vanilla until well blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface, and allow to cool at room temperature, or in a refrigerator.

"Ganache recipe used in many bakeshops. Melt, and pour over cakes as a glaze, or chill and whip until light for a filling. Ganache is a very versatile icing. This can best be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or about 3 days at room temperature."

Found on submitted by Pastrychick101

Chocolate Cookies-and-Cream Crust

2 1/2 cups coursely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (Oreos)
1/3 cup melted butter

Stir together all ingredients; firmly press crumb mixture on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate (I used a mini-muffin pan because I needed individual desserts). Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and cool crust 1 hour or until completely cool before filling.

Found in June 2008 edition of Southern Living magazine

From My Experience:
For this dessert, I combined the two recipes shown above to make the ganache-filled cookie cups. They are both fairly easy recipes, but the whole process takes time. The good news is you can make both ahead of time if necessary. I made the ganache first the night before. I thought I would be health-conscious so I purchased half-and-half instead of heavy cream. It boiled and mixed like normal. Which reminds me, make sure to watch the cream because it boils over easily and makes an extreme mess! Anyway, after the half-and-half was mixed with the chocolate it didn't thicken like I knew it should, so it was back to the grocery store and then starting over. Buy the heavy cream; it's loaded with fat but that's what makes it thick and rich. And this is definitely a special occasion dessert so everyone can splurge once in a while. Once I repeated the process using the heavy cream, I could tell a difference in the consistency and knew I had done it right this time. After the mixture cooled enough, I put it inside a plastic bag and left it a room temperature to cool. If you put it in the fridge, it will thicken making it difficult to fill the cups.
The next day I made the cookies-and-cream cups using a mini-muffin pan though the recipe was originally for a piecrust. The trick to making the cups so small is putting about a spoonful of the moist crumb mixture into each section. They will turn out a little thicker but it will be easier for them to stay intact once they are baked. After pouring the mixture into a one of the slots, push down to form a more dense consistency. If you keep pushing down in the middle, eventually it will start moving up the sides to form a concave cup. They still needed to be baked for 10-12 minutes. Because I needed to quicken the cooling process, I put the whole pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Once they were cooled, then I finished it off with the filling.
The ganache was sitting at room temperature in a plastic bag so I could pipe it into the cooled cookie cups. I cut one corner of the plastic bag and squirted the smooth ganache to fill each cup. Even if the cookie crust doesn't reach the top of the muffin pan, fill the ganache to the brim. Once again, I needed to speed up the chilling process so I stuck the muffin pan back into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Once removed, the ganache had thickened and hardened so I could now pop them out. Take a knife and run it along the side to loosen the cup-shaped crust. I placed the ganache-filled desserts in another pan because they needed to stay refrigerated until served. Once ready to serve, I placed a quarter slice of a strawberry on top of each ganache dessert.
The dessert was delectable, very rich with chocolatey goodness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moment with Daddy

Another one, yes....

The family was all in our bedroom, Jake and Sloane playing on the bed, Lily laying on her bed, and me getting ready since we needed to leave shortly. Jake wanted to take a quick nap, but as you can see Sloane made that difficult. She would stretch her leg as far as it could reach and repeatedly kick Jake in the face meanwhile playing with her crinkly book! Somehow he managed to catch a few zzz's with some intermittent awakenings to scold me for letting Sloane toy with him during his slumber. But instead of moving her, I went to get our camera; it was too funny to let go of this memory! Here is Sloane preoccupied by her book while resting one foot on Jake's face.

She looks at me like, "What's wrong? I'm just chillin."

"Ah, that's much better."
"Now I am going to kick him somewhere else!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Moments with Daddy

Jake was on bath duty on this particular evening. When I went to check on their progress, I found Jake, Sloane, and Lily on the floor with her toy basket and a book. Jake was reading but Sloane was holding the book so interested in the pictures. It was so cute, I rushed to get our camera. There are four pictures with the last capturing both of their happy faces!