Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno poppers are--without a doubt--the best bar food ever to grace this green earth.  Have you ever tried to make jalapeno poppers though?  It takes forever.  You have to make the filling, seed and gut the jalapenos, fill the jalapenos with the filling, dip in flour, dip in egg, dip in crust, then bake.  It's a solid four hour endeavor.  And it is super messy.  Yes, they taste great, but by the time I get around to eating them, I have inevitably gotten jalapeno in my eye, have eaten some filling, and am generally grumpy.

Well, good news.  You never have to make jalapeno poppers again but will still have the same great taste!!!  This jalapeno popper dip tastes exactly as it is named--like jalapeno poppers.  The best part is that it takes three minutes to throw together at a maximum.....not four hours people.  It is perfectly spicy, creamy, and cheesy.  It goes well with both chips and veggies. 

This weekend, when the Seahawks face-off against the Broncos for a grudge match of a Super Bowl, this dip will absolutely be at our party.  It should be at yours too.  If I could make enough of it to bring to every single fan attending the game, I would.  It's that good.  Trust me.

Jalapeno Popper Dip:

These are the measurements that I use.  Of course, tweek to your taste.  
  • 8 ounces of diced jalapeno peppers 
  • 8 ounces of diced green chiles 
  • 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of a Mexican blend of shredded cheese
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • dipping vessels: chips, peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the dip ingredients together in a medium sized bowl (aside from the dipping vessels, of course).
  3. Transfer the dip mixture to a 7 x 11 baking dish, or something of similar size.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of the cheese begins to brown.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bites with Salted Caramel Sauce

I am always on the lookout for new and unique treats to make.  The criteria generally requires that the new tasty treat is a combination or reinvention of an already tried-and-true classic.  These little bites fit the bill perfectly--pumpkin meets cheesecake meets salted caramel.  Hold on to your hats, friends, they are absolutely incredible.   

What is there not to love about pumpkin, cheesecake, graham crackers, and gooey salted caramel?  I particularly love these bites because they are so small.  Each bite ensures an equitable distribution of all flavors.  The graham cracker crust is perfectly crunchy, not hard or flaky.  The pumpkin cheesecake filling is light and fluffy while also highlighted with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and some ginger.  

And the salted caramel sauce.....the salted caramel sauce.....yum.  It is by far the best caramel sauce I have ever had.  I thought there would be no way it would turn out perfectly gooey, buttery, slightly salty, and overwhelmingly delicious, but sure enough, it did!  Also, it was easy to make!!

If you want to impress your friends or coworkers, these pumpkin pie cheesecake bites will certainly do the trick.  They would also be great to bring to a Superbowl party.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!


Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bites:
Adapted from one of my new favorite blogs, Cookign Classy.  I think this woman and I have the same sweet tooth and taste buds.

For the Bites...
  • 1 3/4 cup of finely crushed graham crackers (you can buy them pre-crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 3 packages of cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened well
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream 
For the Salted Caramel Sauce...
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling
To Make the Bites...

  1. Preheat your to 325 degrees.  Line a mini-cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. 
  3. Pour in the melted butter and stir mixture until evenly coated. 
  4. Use a tablespoon to divide the graham cracker mixture evenly among the lined cupcake wells.  I had enough to do one and a half batches.  Firmly press the graham cracker mixture into an even layer. 
  5. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.
  6. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger until no clumps of sugar remain. 
  7. Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl for your stand mixture.  Then add the sugar/spice mixture to the cream cheese.  
  8. Mix on low to blend everything together until smooth, about 30 seconds. 
  9. Mix in the eggs one at a time. 
  10. Next, blend in pumpkin and vanilla, then mix in heavy cream. 
  11. Tap bowl forcefully against your counter top to release some of the excess air bubbles.
  12. Scoop the filling mixture into a large ziploc bag.  Seal the bag, then snip off one of the corners to make a pastry bag of sorts.  (This will make your life easier and less messy, trust me.)  
  13. Fill each of the liners most of the way full--I left about half a centimeter. 
  14. Bake in preheated oven until nearly set (no longer very giggly), about 20 - 25 minutes. 
  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at room temperature. Then transfer to refrigerator and chill until completely set. 
  16. Top with caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt just before serving. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
 To Make the Salted Caramel Sauce...
  1. Gather all of your ingredients and have them ready to add quickly. 
  2. In a large non-stick skillet or sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly.
  3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow the mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color.  Give it a final whisk or two.  
  4. Once the mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add the butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. 
  5. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). 
  6. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, which could take a couple of minutes. 
  7. Allow the caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a ziploc bag.  Snip off the tip and squeeze enough caramel onto the prepared cupcakes to cover them. 
  8. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  9. Savor the goodness!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Irish Cream Coffee Fudge

We spent a couple of days on Mackinac Island this summer, which is famous for its fudge.  Never mind the fact that there are no cars on the island resulting with a trip back to the 1800s where horses ruled the roads and people took time to get places.  I fell in love with Mackinac in an instant.  We road our bikes around the entire island, waded into the waters of Lake Huron, climbed up to look through the natural rock arch, pretended to be classy and important at the Grand Hotel, spent lots of quality time with family, and....ate some of the world famous fudge.  After trying many samples, my favorite fudge--hands down--came from The Murray Hotel.  It was perfectly creamy without any hint of graininess.  After trying each different flavor, I would boldly state, "That one was definitely my favorite," then try another and think it was better than the last.  At the end though, the clear winner was their Irish Cream Coffee Fudge.  So I set out on a mission to make it myself because who knows when I will have the pleasure to return to Mackinac.  (That place is magical.)

Yes, friends, you read it right--Irish Cream Coffee Fudge.  Think of all the reasons why you love coffee and Irish cream, then multiply that by at least 10 million.  This fudge is everything you imagine it will be--creamy and dense with a hint of coffee and the subtle flavor of Irish cream.  It is my new favorite dessert to bring and share, particularly over the holidays.  Also, while there is actual Irish Cream involved, the alcohol cooks out so it is friendly for kids and adults alike.  

One of the reasons that I love food is because it comes with memories.  And I love that this Irish Cream Coffee Fudge will forever remind me of the incredible vacation we had on Mackinac Island.  I hope you are able to make some memories with the fudge too.

Combine the coffee granules with Bailey's


Stir the granules and Bailey's to combine

Melt your butter

Add the marshmallow cream

Add the Bailey's and coffee mixture

Let boil!  And stir!

Still boiling and stirring

Final stir


Irish Cream Coffee Fudge:
Adapted from this recipe
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 tablespoon of Starbucks' Via instant coffee (I used the medium roast)
  • between 7 and 10 ounces if marshmallow cream
  • 1 package of butterscotch chips
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  1. Line an 8 x 8 or similar sized pan with nonstick tinfoil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the Bailey's and Starbucks instant coffee granules.  Microwave for a few seconds, then stir to completely combine.
  3. Grab a large nonstick saucepan and turn the heat on the stove to medium high.  Melt the butter, evaporated milk, and sugar.  Stir continuously and ensure that the sugar is incorporated.  
  4. Add the marshmallow cream and continue to stir until combined.
  5. Add the Bailey's and coffee mixture.  Continue to stir well.
  6. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes.  While boiling, stir occasionally.
  7. Once the mixture has reached a deep amber color, remove from heat and stir in the butterscotch chips and vanilla extract.
  8. Continue stirring until smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Pour into your prepared pan. Refrigerate (or place on the back porch) until completely set.
  10. Cut and serve!