February 23, 2010

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Lisa's swim team is AMAZING!!! Shout-out to the top synchro team in the province!

Our resident swimmer is also obviously a baker extraordinaire and had made these brownies once before. At the request of a teammate celebrating her sweet sixteen, Lisa decided to make them again. Except a stellar showing in the provincial duet competition kept her out a little late the night before the big birthday. Amy jumped in and started things off. Team effort!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies
This recipe (slightly modified) came from one of our new favorite cookbooks: "The Ultimate Cookie Book" from the Better Homes and Gardens series.

1 cup chocolate chips --> original recipe called for a mix of unsweetened and semisweet... we used all semisweet
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package (8 oz = 250 g) cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups raspberries --> frozen worked for us, but fresh is probably better
1 tablespoon sugar
  • In small pot, melt together chocolate and butter over low heat. Stir gently, until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool (we're a little impatient and stuck the pot in the freezer to speed things up).
  • Whisk 1 1/4 cups sugar and 3 of the 4 eggs (one at a time) into the melted chocolate. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and salt, then add flour and stir until just combined.
  • Grease and flour 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Spread chocolate batter into pan and set aside.
  • In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar (it helps to soften the cream cheese... let it warm up a bit). Beat in lemon juice, the last egg, and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in the flour.
  • Scoop cheesecake batter into pan, spreading evenly over the chocolate layer. Top with raspberries. Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 35 minutes in a pre-heated over at 350 F. Remove from oven when top is puffed and edges start to turn golden brown. Cool in pan. Cover and chill for 6 hours. Cut into bars.
  • Store in refrigerator.
Check out that chocolate!
Make sure the greased pan is coated in flour...
You want to be able to remove the brownies from the pan!
The layers come together...
A field of frozen raspberries.

February 14, 2010

Oreo Truffles

To celebrate Valentine's Day, Amy's office had a bake-off! We discussed the technicalities of the event title (we weren't actually baking on site - you can't get much done with just a microwave and a dishwasher), but basically it came down to sampling a lot of sugar. With chocolate as the theme, the idea was sweet... but competition was fierce!

These little truffle treats came in 2nd place... a finish contested by a few members of In-house Productions. Did Sales make a few phone calls soliciting votes? Hmm...
That being said, the winning brownies were definitely blue ribbon worthy. What a fun day!

The recipe for these came from The Sisters' Cafe, a fun blog put together by 5 sisters who all seem to be gifted in the kitchen. Now in the 3rd year of their blog, they've posted hundreds of cooking adventures. Let's hope we follow suit!

Oreo Truffles
1 bag Oreo cookies
1 1/2 8 oz packages (1 1/2 cups) of cream cheese, softened
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Grind up Oreos in a food processor until cookies are crumbs.
  • Mix Oreo crumbs with cream cheese in a medium bowl. Roll batter (it will be a little gooey) into 1 inch balls. There should be about 30. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until firm. We were in a bit of a rush, so we popped ours in the freezer for about 45 minutes.
  • Melt white chocolate in microwave (use a reduced power setting so you don't burn the chocolate). To make the chocolate a little easier to work with, try stirring in a tablespoon or two of whipping cream.
  • Use two spoons to dip Oreo balls into white chocolate. Place onto parchment paper to harden. Once the white chocolate is dry, melt dark chocolate. Use a fork to drizzle over the truffles. Let dry.
  • Store in refrigerator. They taste best if you remove them a few minutes before serving.
The Oreos - seconds before becoming crumbs.
Sliding the Oreo & cream cheese balls into the freezer.
After being dipped in white chocolate.
Drizzled and ready to win over the tastebuds of judges!

February 13, 2010

Orange & Apricot Roast Chicken

Happy Birthday to Mom!
We weren't going to let Mom cook or do dishes for her own birthday dinner! Instead, we filled the house with fruity aromas, scrubbed a few pots and pans, and tried to figure out whether the meat thermometer was lying to us (pretty sure it was). We let her drink wine.

The chicken recipe comes out of a thin little book called "Easy Chicken Dishes". Canadian Living published 8 of these paperback cookbooks, filled with recipes from the Canadian Living test kitchen. Great color photographs illustrate meals that are made from relatively standard ingredients - you can flip through for ideas and not have to rule things out because you're lacking exotic ingredients. And the size of these books is nice! They aren't bulky at all.

Orange & Apricot Roast Chicken
1 chicken (about 3 pounds)
Salt and pepper
2 oranges (unpeeled, sliced)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
12 dried apricots
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar --> we used a splash of white vinegar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
  • Sprinkle inside of chicken with salt and pepper. Place half of the orange slices inside. Truss chicken.... we didn't know what "trussing" was - but a Google search led us to this helpful site: instructables. As far as we could tell, our chicken came kind of trussed (tied up to make it more compact). After stuffing the oranges in, we just tied the legs of the chicken tightly together.
  • In a small roasting pan, melt butter and oil. Put chicken in pan. Roast uncovered, breast side up, in 375 F oven for 45 minutes.
  • In small pot, bring orange juice to a boil. This kick-starts the good smells wafting through the house! Remove pot from heat. Add apricots. Let them soak for 20 minutes, then remove and set aside.
  • To orange juice left in pot, add sugar, vinegar, orange rind, and mustard. Boil for 3 - 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • Pour half the juice mixture over the chicken. Arrange apricots around the chicken. Continue to roast chicken for another 10 minutes. Brush with remaining juice mixture. Roast for another 10 - 15 minute or until meat thermometer reads 185 F (85 C).
  • Transfer chicken from roasting pan to a platter.
  • The cornstarch and water is to make a gravy... which we completely forgot about. Honestly, the chicken was super-moist and really didn't need a gravy. But if you want to try it out, start by removing the fat from the pan drippings. Blend cornstarch and water; stir into pan drippings. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish chicken with the remaining orange slices. Serve with Glazed Dijon Carrots (recipe below).
Orange slices make the chicken very moist!
The flavor (and fruit juices) seep through.
It might be nice to cut up a few of the apricots,
just to make them easier to eat.
The Dijon flavor in these carrots is unexpected -
a nice spin onclassic orange carrots.

Glazed Dijon Carrots

The recipe for this side dish came from our favorite go-to website: AllRecipes. The search function on that side is so convenient! It's nice to be able to not only search by ingredient, but also search by what kind of dish you want (soup? side dish? Mexican?).

4 large carrots (or 1 package of baby carrots)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
  • In a large pot, bring carrots and water to a boil. Cover, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until tender. You don't want them to be mushy!
  • Drain carrots and place in serving dish.
  • In a small pot, melt butter. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour sauce over carrots and toss to coat.