Toaster Oven S’Mores

Toaster Oven S'Mores

Who doesn’t love S’Mores? The thought of S’Mores instantly takes me back to childhood. Whether at Girl Scout camp, or summers spent camping (very rustically I might add) at the lake with family and friends, there were usually S’Mores involved. Regardless of the occasion there was the inevitable marshmallow roasting over the fire, the ones that caught on fire (whether intentional or not), laughter and fun. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The other day at the grocery store I saw a display set up with the ingredients for S’Mores and decided to make them and let Alexis try one of my childhood favorites. Her response when seeing them was, “No thank you. Can I have some spinach?” Spinach over chocolate and marshmallow goodness? But hey that’s ok too. :O) Jamison just shakes his head when she says things like that, but she eventually came around though and she loved them too.

As a child we used various forms of chocolate. Sometimes (and this is my favorite to be honest) we used milk chocolate Hershey bars. Other times we used chocolate frosting, which is good too, but I really prefer a good chocolate bar over frosting any day.

When we purchased the ingredients for this adventure I immediately grabbed the chocolate bars. I didn’t realize until I had gotten home that I had gotten Hershey Special Dark bars, instead of the milk chocolate variety, but given we usually eat Dagoba milk chocolate, which has a higher cocoa content in it than the Hershey’s Dark variety, you can’t really tell the difference.

There is no wrong answer when it comes to S’Mores. Just go with what you like. I think they would even be good dipped IN chocolate! But any way you make them what’s not to like about chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers?

Toaster Oven S'Mores

What You’ll Need:
4 graham crackers, broken in half
1 chocolate candy bar (This is entirely up to you. Most of the time milk chocolate is used for S’Mores, but you can use dark or whatever floats your boat.)
4 marshmallows

Place 4 graham cracker squares on a toaster oven baking sheet. Top each cracker with 1/4 of your candy bar and 1 marshmallow. Place in your toaster oven on the highest heat setting for 5-8 minutes or until the marshmallow is slightly browned. Remove from heat and top with remaining four cracker squares and press down. Enjoy immediately or you can even let them cool and eat them that way. They are more cookie like when they chocolate and marshmallow harden, but they are good no matter when you choose to take your first bite!

Meringues

Meringues

I love Meringues, but I always just bought them from Miss Meringue. The thought of actually making them myself was a bit intimidating, but I decided it couldn’t be that hard and I’m always up for a cooking challenge.

The first batch I made I added vanilla and cream of tartar, but I didn’t like the flavor. It was a bit tangy. Meringues are supposed to be sweet, not tangy. It had to be the cream of tartar that did the trick as vanilla has a more smooth flavor. Whatever it was I just didn’t like the flavor, so I went back to the drawing board.

With the next batch I decided to try and make Mint Chocolate, but I couldn’t get the whites to become stiff so that batch was scratched. I think the peppermint oil might have been the issue. I was going to make some mint brownies with the spoils of that battle, but I put the egg mixture in the fridge and promptly forgot all about it until today when I found it had soured. That’s a story for another time. I’ll be trying the chocolate version again soon. I refuse to be defeated! 😉

Finally I settled on simple and straight forward and this is the result. Not only are they completely delicious, sweet, light and crisp, just like they should be, they also have roughly 20 calories per meringue! Now there’s a dessert you can get behind, or perhaps more aptly put it won’t show up ON your behind! 😉

What You’ll Need:
3 egg whites
2/3 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 225 F.

Beat egg whites and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form (roughly 8 minutes). Place stiffened whites into a pastry bag with a very large flower tip and pipe onto a baking sheet that is lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. (Note: If you don’t have a large star tip you can just pipe out blobs without a tip. They will still be pretty and it won’t affect the taste! ;o)) Bake for 50 minutes to one hour until meringue are stiff and not spongy. (I like to cook them for 30 minutes and then check them every 10 minutes after that to make sure they don’t go too far, but I’m a bit OCD! 😉 )

Let cool for 30 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

Makes roughly 24-30 meringues depending on how big you pipe them.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A few years ago I saw Ina Garten (I love her!) make cookies similar to these and I tried them out and decided they needed just a little tweaking. I usually don’t mess with her recipes because they are usually right on the money (and this one wasn’t bad to begin with), but it just needed a little something and it was one of those you could easily play around with!

In my version I added more chocolate, less flour, less vanilla and less salt. Sometimes I even like to stir in a cup of coconut and some Macadamia nuts along with the white chocolate for a tropical treat, but any way you bake them, they won’t stay around long. They’re delicious!

What You’ll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of dark brown molasses sugar
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup of cocoa
1 3/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
4 – 4 ounce Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter, sugars and eggs until smooth. Add cocoa and mix until completely incorporated. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to chocolate mixture. Mix until flour is just mixed. Add white chocolate and stir to mix.

Drop dough by large tablespoon full onto a baking sheet that is lined with a Slat. Bake for 12-15 minutes and remove from the baking sheet to a cookie rack to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Notes: As I mentioned in the introduction you can easily add things into this dough. Nuts would be a nice addition, as would chocolate chips along with, or in place of, the white chocolate. Mint chips or even peanut butter chips would also be delicious! There is no wrong answer when it comes to cookies. Mix it up and make it your own!

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache And Cherries

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache And Cherries

When we got Guinness for Saint Patrick’s Day cooking we had to buy a 6-pack since they wouldn’t let you buy just one. We’re not really stout drinkers (or beer either) so I still have 5 bottles in my fridge. My sister sent me a link to a Chocolate Stout Cake made by Smitten Kitchen and I thought it looked like something I might want to play with and I did just that. I tweaked the ingredients a little, added some cherries and voila…Yummy Chocolate Guinness goodness! Seriously this cake is scrumptious! You must try it!

Now I’ve got 4 bottles of Guinness left…I wonder what Guinness Hush Puppies or battered fish would taste like? And I also want to try Murphys Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream recipe, but I may just have to go try it in person too when we’re there in October/November. That takes care of two more bottles. Maybe I’ll just have to make a few of the recipes twice! 😉

What You’ll Need For The Cake:
1 cup of Guinness
2 sticks of butter
1 cup cocoa
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of dark brown natural sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt Guinness, butter and cocoa over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil and cook until slightly thickened. Stir occasionally to ensure no scorching. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugars, baking powder and sea salt and set aside.

In a small bowl beat together sour cream and eggs. Slowly add cooled chocolate mix to sour cream mixture stirring constantly to ensure that the eggs do not curdle and the mixture is mixed thoroughly. Add to flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Pour batter into a Bundt pan that has been sprayed well with non-stick spray. Bake for 35-45 minutes until toothpick inserted into cake come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before turning cake out onto a large plate. Let cake cool completely.

What You’ll Need For the Ganache:
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of half and half
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Melt chocolate chips and sugar in half and half until smooth. Pour over the top of the cooled Chocolate Guinness Cake.

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache

Note: I would have liked to have served fresh or frozen cherries with this cake, but for some reason I didn’t have any in the fridge or freezer, which is totally unlike me. I did however have a can of light cherry pie filling that was still in date, which was totally unlike me, though I don’t remember buying any, so I used that instead. If you wanted to make a cherry topping you could cook 2 cups of cherries with 1/4 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to thicken a bit. You could also top the cake with fresh whipped cream, but I didn’t have any of that on hand yesterday either. Not a stellar fridge or freezer day for me yesterday to say the least! 😉

Mini Caramel Irish Cream Cheesecakes

Caramel Irish Cream Mini Cheesecake

When I sent Jamison to get me a bottle of Irish Cream on Friday he called me with the wonderful news that there was a Bailey’s Irish Cream with a hint of caramel flavor. I hadn’t bought any Irish Cream in years and given I love both caramel and Irish Cream, I just had to try the new Bailey’s!

It’s delicious to drink (every good cook worth their salt knows that tasting is essential to the final product! 😉 ) and it made a scrumptious cheesecake to boot! That’s win win as far as I’m concerned!

Irish Spirits

What You’ll Need For The Crust:
3/4 of a sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
1/2 a stick of butter melted
1/4 a cup of sugar

Crush graham crackers. (I use my food processor.)

Stir in butter and sugar.

Line a muffin pan with muffin liners (14-15) and place crust in the bottom of each liner and press firmly into place. Set aside.

What You’ll Need For The Cheesecake:
2 – 8 ounce packages of light cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream with a hint of caramel (or just plain Bailey’s…It’s completely up to you)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
Shaved chocolate (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta, sugar and Bailey’s.

Add flour and mix until just blended.

Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheesecake are set.

Once cooled top with shaved chocolate and homemade whipped cream if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 14-15 mini cheesecakes.

Irish Apple Duff

Irish Apple Duff

This was a recipe I found 10+ years ago. I was either living in Huntsville, Alabama or Knoxville, Tennessee at the time. I had never tried it, though it sat in my recipe box all that time and I came across it from time to time when I was searching for other recipes and I would look at it fondly. When I decided to do the Saint Patrick’s Day feast I decided it was time to pull it out of the box! I don’t remember were it originated, but the end product was delicious, tweaks and all! It’s very reminiscent of an American apple dumpling in ways, but different too, and most importantly, oh so delicious!

What You’ll Need:
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
4 Golden Delicious apples (or apples of your choice)
Natural brown sugar
Raisins
1 egg, beaten
Organic cane sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take both puff pastry sheets and cut them in half across the middle giving you 4 pieces of puff pastry.

Core apples and place an apple in the middle of each piece of puff pastry. Push puff pastry up around the edges of the apple about halfway up each apple.

Place about 2 teaspoons of brown sugar in the bottom of each apple core hole. Top with raisins leaving about a cm opening at the top of the core hole.

Top with more brown sugar and pack tight. (It’s probably about 1 tablespoon total for each apple bottom and top. It isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. The apple does most of the sweetening.)

Brush the outside of the puff pastry with an egg wash and dust with sugar. The pastry will slide down as it bakes, so don’t be alarmed.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until apple is soft and pastry is golden brown.

Serve plain or with whipped cream.

Note: If you wanted to use 2 packages of puff pastry, you could completely cover each apple in a bundle. It would take roughly one sheet to entirely enclose an apple and it would be good that way too!

Blueberry Eggrolls

Blueberry Eggrolls

When Jamison and I first got married we lived in Huntsville, Alabama and there was a Chinese restaurant that we frequented often. They had dessert egg rolls that were filled with pineapple and cream cheese. I made them a few years ago and thought of them again today when I was making the Vegetable Egg Rolls.

I thought about making some since I had some left over egg roll wrappers, but I realized I didn’t have any pineapple on hand since I rarely keep canned fruit and I haven’t gotten a pineapple lately. I saw some blueberries in the fridge and my mind kicked into gear and these lovely little goodies were the result!

What You’ll Need For The Blueberry Filling:
2 cups of blueberries
1 cup of organic cane sugar
The juice of one lemon
The zest of one lemon

What You’ll Need For The Cream Cheese Filling:
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

What You’ll Need For the Blueberry Eggrolls:
Blueberry filling
Cream cheese filling
Egg roll wrappers
Peanut oil for frying
More organic cane sugar for dusting

To Prepare Blueberries:

In a saucepan over medium heat cook blueberries, sugar, zest and water until they turn jelly like, stirring occasionally to make sure they aren’t sticking. Cool to room temperature. The blueberries will become thicker as they sit.

Blueberries Cooking

To Prepare Cream Cheese Filling:

Cream together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

To Make The Blueberry Egg Rolls:

Blueberry Eggrolls

Preheat oil to 350 F.

Place approximately 1 tablespoon of blueberry filling and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling in the center of an egg roll wrapper. Fold using the same directions as the Veggie Egg Roll recipe.

Drop rolls into oil two at a time and fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with organic cane sugar and serve hot.

Blueberry Eggrolls

Hot Fudge Cake

Hot Fudge Cake

Most people will agree that an ooey, gooey chocolate dessert is exactly where the money is! Growing up my mom was somewhat famous amongst friends and family for her Hot Fudge Cake, which is an ooey, gooey, warm chocolate sensation. Several of my friends would specially request that she make her Hot Fudge Cake whenever they came over! My mom, being the wonderful person that she is, usually obliged.

My mom always used a chocolate cake mix, though sometimes the ice cream was homemade and sometimes it wasn’t. The hot fudge sauce was always made from scratch to bubbling perfection! But regardless of the make up it was delicious!

The olive oil, yogurt and chocolate make this chocolate cake moist, spongy and oh so chocolatey, while the hot fudge sauce gives it an even bigger chocolate punch. These two chocolate elements, paired with the vanilla ice cream, meld together to make the perfect chocolate delight and any chocolate lovers dream!

As I’ve gotten older I’ve moved away from box mixes, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop making something all together. This is my take on my Mom’s classic. It’s oh so good and oh so sinful! After all isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for in a dessert? 😉

What You’ll Need For The Ice Cream:
1/2 a quart of half and half
1 small carton of light cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2-4 teaspoons of vanilla (Note: More if you like it really vanilla, less if you don’t)

Note: This recipe is designed to fill this ice cream maker, but you could easily double or triple it to fill a larger model.

Mix together and pour into ice cream freezer and freeze according to your model’s directions. For harder ice cream after making it put in an air tight container and store in the freezer until completely firm.

What You’ll Need For The Chocolate Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa (Note: I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black’s)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of light olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift together flour through baking powder in a large bowl. Add sugar, yogurt eggs and olive oil and stir until mixed and pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake sticks done.

What You’ll Need For The Hot Fudge Sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 squares of baker’s chocolate (Note: Again I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black’s)
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Over medium heat melt butter and chocolate with sugar and half and half. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes stirring to keep from sticking. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To Assemble Hot Fudge Cake:

Cut cake into squares. For each person take a piece of cake and top with a scoop of ice cream. Top ice cream with a ladle of hot chocolate sauce and serve.

ote: If you’re a chocolate lover than you could easily make this Hot Fudge Cake with chocolate ice cream for a triple chocolate punch! You could even use chocolate yogurt in place of the plain in the cake if you were just really feeling chocolatey! ;o) This cake doesn’t really need it, but you could add whipped cream and some strawberries or cherries if you wanted. You could even go crazy and add a little chocolate whipped cream! 😉