Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cheese Souffle


Hi friends! This was our first attempt at making a cheese souffle. The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen. I've never had souffle before, but after having this one I think I need more of it in my life. The flavor, texture, smell, everything was wonderful. Here's how we got there, with some photos along the way. 


1. Grease pan with vegetable oil or Pam. Use 2 tablespoons Parmesan to dust the dish (2 court size Corningware).

2. Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat.



3. Whisk together dry ingredients: 4 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 salt, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/8 white pepper, pinch of nutmeg. Add dry mixture and whisk for about a minute until raw flour taste is gone. Add 1 1/3 cup whole milk slowly while whisking. Simmer for about a minute.




4. Remove from heat. Add to mixture 6oz Gruyere cheese, 6 tablespoon Parmesan. Whisk until lumps are gone, cheese is melted. Smooth mixture, cool for 10 minutes.



5. Separate 6 eggs. Add only yolks into cheese mixture with 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley. Whisk together.



6. In KitchenAid mixer: Add egg whites only and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar into mixer. Medium to low speed with whisk attachment for about one minute until foamy. Then mix on medium high speed until stiff peaks are achieved, 3-4 minutes.



7. Add cheese mixture into peaks, mix for about 15 seconds.



8. Pour into souffle dish, add until about an inch from rim. Add another tablespoon of parmesan on top.



9. Bake on 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.170 degrees internal temperature or take 2 spoons and crack through the top - still moist but not soupy. 5 minutes until it deflates. Add parsley on the top.






Happy baking!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cheeseboy is my Homie

Behold – the most beautiful sight for sore eyes after a long road trip. What is this, you ask? WELL – let me break it down for you.


We were driving back from a beautiful, scenic, alcohol-fueled weekend in Rhode Island and needed gas along the way. We stopped at a rest stop in Connecticut (Darien to be exact) and went on the hunt for something amazingly unhealthy to eat. And boy did we find it! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have an unhealthy obsession with everything CHEESE related. I would rather have a plate of cheese than a piece of cake or dessert. So imagine my sheer delight when I stumbled upon Cheeseboy at the rest stop. We don’t have any in NJ, so I was eager to indulge. What you are looking at is Cheeseboy’s MAC N Melt, which is described on their menu as the following:

Mac ‘N Melt All-natural mac and cheese (made with local aged cheddar, Monterey Jack, cream, and spices), hickory bacon, and local aged cheddar on artisan white

Now – if this doesn’t sound good to you, I don’t think we will be close friends in the future. For those still interested and sane, let me tell you something. This sandwich wasn’t just good. It was REALLY freakin good. We aren’t talking passable rest stop food – it could easily have been served at a restaurant for lunch and I still would have ordered it. The gourmet type mac and cheese was delicious. The bread was toasted to perfection and I don’t need to explain how bacon makes everything better, do I?

I am so very sad that Cheeseboy doesn’t have locations in the Jersey area, however I guess I should count my lucky stars because I would be tempted to get this sandwich OFTEN. Cheeseboy has many other options as well – salads, buffalo chicken wraps, veggie melts and so forth. Count me a big fan.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fresh Lemon Bars

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Hi friends! I got this amazing lemon bar recipe from Food Network - they are phenomenal. This is the second time I've made them and they were a huge hit. This recipe makes about 24 bars (depending on how big or small you want them) and they are almost all gone after a BBQ or party.

People have told me that they really like these, because often times people make or bring chocolate themed desserts to summer parties. This tart, citrus treat is a stark contrast to a heavy chocolate say, cake, and they find them refreshing and summery. Who am I to judge? Give the people what they want damn it! I also like the fresh crust  mixed with the tartness of the lemon - perfection.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

For the Crust:
Vegetable oil, for greasing
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 8 lemons)


1. Make the crust: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with vegetable oil and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil. Pulse the butter, flour, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Press evenly into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.


2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


And you're done! I've done this recipe both ways - made them the morning of a party and the night before. I think they set better with more time in the refrigerator, but didn't see a huge difference in texture when I made them the morning of. I'm a big believer in prepping ahead of time, and these will be just as good (if not a little better) if you make them the night before.

Both times I thought of halving the recipe, but I'm really glad I didn't - people wanted to take the extras home because they loved them so much! That's a success in my book. This recipe wasn't difficult to make either. The only part that I hated was squeezing EIGHT lemons to get the cup of lemon juice - what a job! Once I tasted the bars it was worth it though.

Here's the original post from Food Network:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/classic-lemon-bars-recipe.html

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend - back to the grind! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

These Mini Cupcakes Look Like Ice Cream Sundaes!


Hi friends! My coworker and I made these for our boss's birthday, and they were of course a big hit! The three of us are all bakers (strange but true) so we wanted to knock these out of the park and make something really cute and fun.



They are mini funfetti cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting (not ice cream!), hardened chocolate, sprinkles and a cherry on top! These little things were a huge hit and were probably on everyone's Snapchat and Instagram feed by the end of the party. There's also something so awesome about making your own funfetti cake vs. buying the pre-made mix - it's so much better and super easy! You can also control how colorful you want your batch to be by simply adding more sprinkles.

As many bakers do, we did have a few challenges along the way though:

  • The recipe makes regular sized cupcakes - we made minis. We cut all ingredients in half, and had to watch the bake time so we didn't burn them. I find myself making minis most of the time - especially if other dessert is present, it's unlikely that people will eat a whole, regular-sized cupcake.
  • Getting the cherries to stay on the top was hard, guys! Since the melted chocolate hardens into a shell, it's a little tough to balance the cherry on top and have it stay there. We made the cupcakes and iced them the night before, then put the on the cherries right before serving. I don't think they would have survived the commute!
  •  This isn't exactly a challenge per se, but this is usually a lot more icing than I would have normally put. Since it's supposed to look like an ice cream scoop, there is a lot of icing on that tiny cupcake! Could be too much icing for some people.
Other than that, i'm so glad we went with making these. For original recipe, click here.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tiger Tomato on Youtube - The Coolest Pancake Art on the Planet

Hi friends! I found this insanely cool youtube channel and wanted to share. It combines my two favorite things - art and baking/cooking. This father and son duo created the youtube channel TigerTomato - they create all different types of cartoon character pancakes and I can't stop watching their videos!

Sonic has always been one of my favorite video game characters!
I mean come on, how is this even edible?! It's so perfect!

Their tutorials are short, to the point, and so damn creative. (I never really mastered anything close to pancake art - just half-assed attempts at lopsided pancake hearts).

I love people who re imagine classic food items into something unbelievable.  Seeing these familiar characters appear on a frying pan is really super neat. To watch, here is the link to their site:
Tiger Tomato

See below for some still shots of their work. Count me as a fan!






Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Making Homemade Pizza - What We've Learned


Guys - we finally got our pizza to be ROUND! Such a big accomplishment if you've ever made and rolled out your own dough. We've come a long way -> Click here to check out our pizza step by step.

Since my first post, our pizza game has definitely improved - technique, taste, crispness of crust, cheese to sauce ratio, etc. Here's some of the changes we made that seemed to work for the better (written by my husband and me!)


  • We let the dough mix in the KitchenAid mixer LONGER. The key is when the dough actually starts to climb up the dough hook.
  • After letting the dough rest in the mixer for 2 minutes, we did another 30 seconds in the mixer to make sure the dough really came together.
  • Make sure you take the time to really knead the dough well by hand. It should be a smooth ball with no cracks. We think that this batch of dough was the best we've made so far, and may have contributed to our pizza being nice and round
  • As I said in my last post - experimenting with different toppings is fun! This time, we made a new creation - buffalo chicken pizza! We cooked chicken breast in a grill pan and diced it really small. We used Frank's Hot Sauce as our buffalo base, and smoked mozzarella for our cheese. It was a fun alternative to plain pizza!
  • Here's the biggest change we made - we cooked our pizza on the grill vs. in the oven. We used the same pizza stone as last time. My dad is somewhat of a pizza master (he's been making it at home for years and loves having friends and family over for pizza parties) and he exclusively cooks his pizza on the grill as well. We totally get why. The crust gets so crisp - something that was difficult to achieve in the oven. The grill also cooks/melts the toppings perfectly without burning the bottom.
  • Our last tip is - have fun!! Take a day on the weekend that's not busy so you can relax and enjoy what you're doing. The end product is completely worth it!
My dad making his famous pizza! He always cuts up all his cheese and toppings beforehand to make it easier. He's experimented with so many different recipes and toppings - everything from sausage and peppers to ham and pineapple. We leaned a lot of pizza skills from him!

Thanks for reading guys! 


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Beautiful Trip - the Long Island Vineyards

Who says you have to hop on a plane to travel somewhere cool? We live in NJ, but my husband is from Long Island. I fell in love with the vineyards out there when we first started dating. The endless rows of grape vines get me every time. The company is always great. This year and last year we had absolutely gorgeous weather. And hey, WINE!!!

Here are a collection of photos from our trip over MDW. Below is also a list of my favorite vineyards in Long Island, and a little about each. Enjoy!

I mean seriously?! It doesn't get much better than this!
We were so lucky to have great weather!



My husband and I on this gorgeous day!
I call this my Betty Draper from Mad Men look haha


My brother and I!
This was at Sparkling Pointe vineyard.


 
Sparkling Pointe is awesome. Sparkling wines only!
The owners of this place are obsessed with Brazil - as am I.
The whole place is decked out in paintings and decor of Brazil.


 The inside of Sparkling Pointe. Not too shabby.


Our vineyards crew! Same as last year.
Always a great time with them!


Hanging out at Jamesport vineyard.
This was my first time there - I liked the rustic feel of this place.



I thought these were so pretty! 
We stopped for some fresh corn to bring home for our BBQ, and came across these fresh honey sticks.

The wine grape chart. Intense!!


Sigh.

Another one of me and the hubs.
Not a bad backdrop.

 Here's us at Duckwalk vineyard. Another one of my favorites!
We get a bottle of wine from here each time we visit (or 2...)

 Along our wine journey, we also visited Greenport Harbor Brewery!
It didn't hurt switching it up a little bit. 
This place was really cute - and you got to keep the little tasting glass!

 We all thought this giant roll of paper was a cool way to display the beer menu

 They had these neat tables made of kegs and wood blocks!


 
 Lenz vineyard is wonderful. We get wine shipped from here to our house.
A coworker suggested we visit, and it totally made sense why.
It's almost like Christmas when this package arrives at our doorstep!
Also - whoever does this chalk art is really awesome.

 This was my first time at Mattebella vineyards.
The name came from the owners' 2 children - Matthew and Isabella.
Their faces are even on the wine labels, even though the photo was taken about 10 years ago!


 My brother and his girlfriend, Steph! Drinking wine all day is hard work.

Favorites/Vineyards of Note:

• Sparkling Pointe – all champagne. Really pretty inside and big outdoor area, as seen in the photos above!

• Duckwalk North – great wine. We get bottles from here every time we go. More laid back vs. fancy. The employees are great and very knowledgeable about the wine.

• Lenz – the best wine by far in my opinion. This is where we get the wine shipments from every quarter. Smaller vineyard/more rustic but really cute. People bring picnics and stuff here.

• Martha Clara – great atmosphere. Our friend got married here – it was gorgeous.

• Raphael – really fancy and pretty. They have weddings and parties there.

• Vineyard 48 – this is like a party vineyard. Lots of young people, music, big outdoor space.

 Thanks for reading! Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!