Thursday, December 23, 2010

Easy Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies

These brownies were a compilation of many different Christmas brownie recipes.  I was originally going to make these, but then I didn't feel like pulling together all kinds of chocolate and flour and sugar to actually make the brownies, so I used a box mix.  Dreadful, I know.  But I was making all the food for a huge group of high school kids, remember!  It would have been better from scratch, but I will put the boxed part of the recipe down below, and if you want to make them from scratch, use the recipe above or look up any number of good recipes online.  Anyways, moving on.

How can you move on from this?

Then, I went to swimming and, while I was there, Mom made the peppermint icing, from her own recipe.  I don't have it, so I'd recommend going with the original recipe, which I will put below.  Then, I wanted to make the ganache with cream, instead of butter. And I didn't really feel like measuring out my candy canes, so I didn't.  I just used two, which seemed like enough to me!

Brownie bites for a party.  I like when hosts cut their sweets small, so I can try just a little bit without feeling like a hog.

Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies
Adapted liberally from Our Best Bites

1 boxed brownie mix, prepared according to package directions in a 9x13 pan
2 candy canes, crushed (I left them in the wrappers and rapped them with an ice cream scoop to crush them)

For the Peppermint Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbs. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 Tbs. milk
Red/pink food coloring

For the Chocolate Ganache:
6 oz. (1 cup, 1/2 a package) semisweet chocolate chips
5 T cream

Let your baked brownies chill in the fridge.  When they are completely cooled, mix all the ingredients for the peppermint frosting together until light and fluffy.  Spread on top of the brownies.  Place back in the fridge until frosting is set.

Melt the chocolate chips and cream in the microwave on 15-second intervals (I used the defrost setting, and it only took 45 seconds) until melted.  Sprinkle with the crushed candy cane and chill again until set.  Cut into squares and serve!

Gingerbread cookies

So, for the party, I also made a TON of gingerbread cookies.  I doubled the batch and there were way too many, given the interest that high schoolers have for decorating cookies at a party.  Oh well.  I was cool with that.  Especially since I get to eat the leftovers!!

The cookies were spicy (not hot-spicy, just seasonally spiced), firm but not brick-like or too cakey, and very, very delicious.  I highly recommend them.  Top with frosting, currants, and red-hot candies.  Mmmmm......

She has a heart!  How cute.  But didn't she ever take physiology?  Your heart is *supposed* to be in the center of your chest, tilted with the ventricles toward the left.  Oh well.  She didn't live long enough to get much of a formal education, I guess.

Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe from Annie's Eats

4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

Whisk together dry ingredients (except for the sugar).  In a stand mixer (or in a bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, ~2 min.  Mix in egg and molasses.  Slowly add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Cover bowl or wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 1 hour (it's nice to make them as soon as you wake up, and then roll them out in the afternoon or evening... or even do them the night before!).

Preheat oven to 350.  Roll cookies out on a well-floured counter to about 1/4 inch.  Cut into shapes (cookie cutters!) and place on greased baking sheets.  Bake cookies for about 10 minutes.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.  Decorate with currants or raisins, red-hot candy, and frosting. Enjoy!

Wow, this platter is unusual for us.  Nary a water polo player, long-dead musician, or injured person in sight.  Weird!  

Chocolate Mousse with Gingerbread Whipped Cream

This stuff is divine.  Seriously.  Spiced white chocolate whipped cream?  Chocolate mousse?  TOGETHER???  I've made it twice so far, and I will make it again.  Now that I have my own ramekins (thanks, Julie!!), I may make it whenever I can find people to help me eat it!

Creamy and delicious chocolate mousse!

In ramekins with the best whipped cream ever on top.  I'm in heaven.  Also, thanks to Luke for sending me these pictures!

Chocolate Mousse with Gingerbread Whipped Cream
From BGSK - Makes 8 small servings, or less if you're like me :)

For the Mousse
3.5 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. molasses
1 egg yolk
3 egg whites
Pinch salt
2 Tbs. sugar

For the Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups cream
2.5 oz. white chocolate, chopped (should contain cocoa powder; I used Ghirardelli's white chocolate chips)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave on 20-second intervals, stirring, until melted.  Combine milk and butter in a small bowl and microwave until the butter is melted.  Stir well, then pour into the chocolate.  Whisk together.  Add the yolk and molasses and whisk until smooth.

Separately, beat egg whites until they form (soft) peaks.  Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until stiff(er) peaks form.  Stir very gently into the chocolate mixture until combined.  Pour into individual ramekins or form into a round on a serving platter.  Refrigerate AT LEAST an hour, or until set.

For the whipped cream:
Microwave the white chocolate and 1/4 cup of the cream for 20-second intervals until melted.  Add spices and vanilla, then let it come to room temperature.

When read to eat, whip or beat the remaining 1 1/4 cup cream until thickened and firm.  Carefully fold in white chocolate mixture and dollop it on top of the finished mousse (the more the better!).  Top with shaved chocolate or crumbled gingersnaps.  Enjoy!

Pizza Rolls

So, Marta and Luke had a party tonight.  Tons of high schoolers attacked the house, and it was up to the rest of us to just stay out of the way.  During the party, at least.  Beforehand, we were front and center.  I wasn't too upset about making a ton of food... what a surprise!

Yes, I'm using my mom's camera.  Mine is kind of dead :/

In the recipe, the mozzarella cheese measurement doesn't need to be exact - just remember that you can freeze mozzarella, pepperoni, and marinara, and don't stress too much about having too much of those things relative to the dough.  Use all of your dough, and store your leftover ingredients, or use them the next day on a pizza!

Oh, and by the way - these were a hit.  The poor tray never knew what hit it.

Pizza Rolls
An Eliza original!

1 batch dough of your choice (any bread, pizza, or roll dough will work)
4+ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bag pepperoni, with each pepperoni quartered (stack them and cut)
Italian seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup melted butter
Parmesan cheese, grated or canned, to sprinkle
Garlic salt
Marinara sauce, for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 and get somebody to help you assemble.

Take a slightly-smaller-than-a-golf-ball piece of dough and roll it in flour so it's workable.  Flatten into a 2-inch disc.  Sprinkle about 1-2 tsp. of cheese and 4 pieces of pepperoni on top.  If desired, sprinkle lightly with Italian seasoning.  Gather the edges and crimp at the bottom.

Place on a greased pan, folded side down.  Repeat (until the pan is full).  Brush some melted butter on top of each, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garlic salt.  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the bottoms of the rolls are golden.  Let cool and serve with cold marinara sauce!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Borscht has always been one of my favorite kinds of soup.  But until a few years ago, when Mom got a good food processor, we didn't have it very often because it's a bit work-intensive (as I found out last week!).  But it's amazing.  It has all kinds of fun vegetable ingredients and tastes amazing.  Plus, it's bright pink.  For once, it's a pretty food that tastes as good as an ugly food.  Weird.

Family recipe from ages past

Simmer about 90 minutes:
1 pound lean beef, cubed
6 c water
1 T salt

In another pan, simmer covered, for 15 minutes, stirring frequently:
1 ½ c shredded raw beets (about 2 medium/large beets)*
¾ c shredded carrots (1 1/2 carrots)
¾ c shredded turnip (about 1 large turnip)
2 T tomato puree (I used 1/4 of a tomato, grated)
2 T vinegar
1 t sugar
2 T butter

Add and cook 10 minutes:
½ head small cabbage, shredded
Fresh ground pepper
2 bay leaves

Mix in beef and water, add vinegar as needed, and serve with sour cream.


*If you have a food processor, use the grating blade/thing.  It makes it much easier.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Do you like my new background?  I made it myself, in paint.  Lame, I know.  But there were no sites that had what I was looking for, so I made do.  I kinda like it, although the pixelating is a bit interesting...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Just to get this out there - I had never been a really big fan of brussels sprouts.  I would eat them, but the texture of boiled brussels sprouts just isn't for me.  However, this dish sounded intriguing, and so I decided to make it.

We were making a late-night Walmart run when I remembered that I wanted to get some Brussels Sprouts.  There was no price tag on the container, so I took it up to the register.  After checking out the rest of my stuff, I discovered that the brussels sprouts were $3, which I wasn't going to pay.  However, the checkout lady really had to go to the bathroom, so she marked it down to $1 so she wouldn't have to take it off the list.  Awesome!

As with everything on this site, I highly endorse this recipe.  I should have posted this right after Thanksgiving, when everyone was looking for lighter food to eat, but I didn't.  Sorry.  Still good, and a nice break from hearty winter food. It's also a great replacement for your typical green salad at a dinner pary.  You can do the prep work ahead of time and just combine things once everything else is ready.  I've made it for two large groups of people and gotten recipe requests from every single family.  So, yeah.  You should totally make this. 

Please forgive the picture.  I didn't take a lot of time to photograph, as dinner was on the table, but I just wanted to show you how the Brussels sprouts were cut (thinly, in rings)

Delicious Brussels Sprouts Salad
Adapted from shutterbean (look here for variations on the cheese and dressing)

24 brussels sprouts
4 oz. cheese (I used cheddar), grated
Parmesan cheese to taste
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts*
7 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Slice the brussels sprouts thinly.  (Use a food processor or a knife.)  In a small jar, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Combine everything and toss; check for salt and paper balance and eat immediately.  Try to keep yourself from eating the entire thing by yourself.  If you don't, console yourself by remembering that brussels sprouts are healthy.  Don't think about the cheese and oil.

*To toast walnuts, spread on a plate and microwave on 30-second intervals until they're fragrant and taste toasty.

Baba Ghanoush (Arab eggplant dish)

Sunflower Farmer's Market was having a sale on eggplant this week - 88 cents each!  So, duh, I had to buy four.  That's just how I roll.  I didn't realize until I'd gotten the eggplant how expensive the tahini was going to be, but that's another story.

I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is, but I really like it.  Besides the tahini and eggplant, I had everything on hand.  And it's delicious.  Right now I'm freezing a small portion of it to see how well it freezes - I'll let you know how that goes.  [Update: It freezes amazingly!  Just let it thaw in the fridge for a few hours before eating.]  But next time there is a sale on eggplant at your local grocery store, you should try making baba ghanoush.  It would be especially exciting to try on a grill, but as I am at college, I just used the broiler.

I have to warn you - it's not universally appealing.  But if you like eggplant and/or tahini, you will enjoy this delicious food.  You can eat it alone, spread it on bread, pita, or crackers, or use it as a sandwich spread.

Prick the eggplants - so they don't explode!

Then roast them.  Until they're falling apart.

Look at the inside...

Scoop out all the good stuff.

And dump it in a bowl with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and parsley.

Stir it all up.  Mmm.

Spread it on your carb of choice.  I chose French bread.  If you wanted to serve this as an appetizer, it might be good to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.. but I'm kind of a cheese fiend, so take that as you will.  

Baba Ghanoush
Via the Pioneer Woman

3 medium eggplants (whole)
1/4 cup tahini
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/8 cup dried parsley or 1/3 cup fresh, chopped
Salt, to taste

Prick each eggplant with a fork, several times.  Broil for about 30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.  By the time it's done, the skin should tear when you stick a fork in it to turn it over.  It will be blackened and very wrinkled.  Remove from oven.

Cut the very top part (stem area, about 1 inch) off of the eggplants.  Cut your shriveled eggplants down the middle and let them cool until you can handle them.  Scoop the flesh out of each eggplant and put it all in a medium bowl.  Mash it around with a fork until it's a texture you like.  If it's still stringy, use your immersion blender so you can scoop out individual portions.

Add all of the other ingredients.  Mix it up and serve.  It can be eaten cold or warm.  Enjoy!

Spicy Hot Chocolate Cookies

Sorry about the lack of posts lately.  It's getting to be finals time, and I've been going a little crazy.  However, I have been cooking, so I'll try to update over the next few days.  As I've already shared with you the three pies that I really liked, I will leave it at that.  Besides those, I also made a sweet potato buttermilk pie, from smittenkitchen, and an apple galette (basically, just a free-form apple pie).  If you would really like to learn how I made them, let me know.  Otherwise, I will just skip over them.  Both were excellent, but I don't really feel like posting about them right now....

So.  Today, a neighbor hosted a cookie exchange.  I'd seen the cookies I wanted to make on a website a few weeks ago, and was excited that I would finally get to make them!  They're a tad spicy, and my roommates don't really like them, but I love them.  If you're not really a spicy person, you can decrease the pepper by half, and that should be good.  I just really like the kick! they leave behind in your mouth.  Plus, they're chocolate.  Sister Brescia would be proud.

Spicy Hot Chocolate Cookies
From honest fare

For the topping:
¼ cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/6 t cayenne pepper

For the cookies:
¾ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup
3 T milk
½ t cinnamon
¾ t cayenne pepper
2 t vanilla extract
¼ t salt
1 2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 t baking soda

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Mix topping ingredients together on a flat plate.  Mix together sugar through salt, and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Roll into walnut-sized balls.  Roll in sugar and flatten to disks.  Bake 10 minutes.  Let cool.