September 7, 2018

Sweet Cherry-Plum Jam

My parents brought over wild plums from their farm, so I pulled out my Food in Jars cookbook and found the perfect recipe for them. I used sweet cherries canned in pear juice rather than fresh cherries, but I really like how this jam turned out. It's sweet, yet tart, and full of flavor.

Sweet Cherry-Plum Jam
3 cups pitted and chopped plums
4 cups pitted and chopped sweet cherries
3 1/2 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 (3 oz.) packets liquid pectin

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular pint jars for canning, along with the lids.

Combine the plums, cherries and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a biol over high heat, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until the jam looks molten and syrupy. (I used an immersion blender along the way to have a smoother jam.) Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, and ladle into prepared jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Makes 4 pints.

August 4, 2018

S'mores Icebox Cake

This summery cake from the Food Network Magazine made an appearance in our house this month. I used our anniversary as an excuse to make it, but I really just wanted to try it. Since it's an icebox cake, it's simple and quick to put together with no baking (only broiling marshmallows).

Flavor-wise, it's good. It's not my favorite cake by any stretch, but I prefer ice cream to icebox cakes. The toasted marshmallow whipped cream definitely has potential for other projects. That was my favorite part.

S'mores Icebox Cake
4 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
24 marshmallows, divided
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
16 whole graham crackers

Preheat the broiler while you make the ganache. To make the ganache, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer, and pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Butter a baking sheet (or use a silipat). Place 15 marshmallows on the sheet, and broil until toasted and bubbling. (I actually flipped mine halfway to brown the other side for more toasted flavor. Be careful not to ignite them on fire because they toast in less than a minute.) Set aside to cool.

Combine 1 cup heavy cream, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside while you make the marshmallow whipped cream. Combine the toasted marshmallows and remaining 1 cup of heavy cream. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 4-inch overhang on the long sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a layer of graham crackers, breaking to fit as needed. Spread with half the marshmallow whipped cream. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of ganache, and then top with a layer of graham crackers. Spread with half the chocolate whipped cream. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of ganache, and then top with a layer of graham crackers. Repeat the layers, ending with a final layer of graham crackers.

Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. (I actually froze mine, which kept the graham crackers a bit more crunchy.) Refrigerate your extra ganache as well.

To serve, warm the ganache until pourable. Set aside. Butter a baking sheet, and place the remaining marshmallows, cut in half, on the baking sheet in a tight 3 x 6 rectangle. Marshmallows should be touching. Broil until toasted and bubbling. (The alternative to this is to skip this marshmallow step if you have a kitchen torch. You can just put the marshmallows on the top of the cake and toast them at the end.)

Invert the cake onto a platter, and discard the plastic wrap. Pour the ganache on top of the cake, and carefully slide the toasted marshmallows in one piece from the baking sheet onto the cake. (See how just sticking them on and toasting with a kitchen torch is easier?) You can freeze this cake for longer storage or a more frozen dessert. Serves 6-12, depending on serving size.

July 13, 2018

Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

It only takes a couple days for us to eat a batch of popsicles, so today I made these Strawberry Cheesecake Posicles from Cooking Light, which are not poisonous by my husband's standard. (He did tell me that if I sneaked mayonnaise into these, he would be filing for divorce. Can you tell how much he likes mayo?)

These are fantastic. I skipped the graham cracker crumbs from the original recipe because they require effort right before serving, which just didn't happen tonight. Everyone in our family liked these. The cheesecake portion of the popsicle tastes like ice cream and whipped cream, according to AJ. It's so delicious, I'm tempted just to make cheesecake popsicles. Ooo, then I could dip them in chocolate. 

So far Dave's ranking, and I'd agree, for the popsicles is:

1. Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

Both are definitely worth repeating. And if you don't have popsicle molds, don't worry. Our molds are smaller, so I put the leftover in a plastic cup and shove in a plastic spoon for the stick. Easy as can be.

Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles
5 oz. evaporated low-fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. lemon juice
10 oz. strawberries

Combine milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese. Whisk until smooth. Stir in yogurt and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth. Divide half the cream cheese mixture into 6 (4 oz.) popsicle molds. Top evenly with strawberry mixture, and then fill with remaining cream cheese mixture. Stir slightly to swirl. Freeze 4 hours or until solid. Makes 6-8 popsicles. 

July 11, 2018

Key Lime Popsicles

My kids and husband happily ate these popsicles the first night, although my younger son was a bit slower due to the tartness. My older son proclaimed them to be one of the best things he's eaten and certainly the best popsicles ever. My husband said that I could make these again. The second night I mentioned the secret ingredient that gives these popsicles their green hue, and my husband realized there was avocado in these popsicles. He set his popsicle on the table and refused to touch it.

So maybe popsicles with secret ingredients that my husband deems to be poison isn't the best way to kick off my plan of making a whole bunch of different popsicles this summer, but my son picked these to be the first ones made. He thought the avocado would ruin the popsicles when we were making them, but it really just provides the coloring and helps to provide a creamier texture.

Here's the version from Cooking Light with my slight modification. These will be repeated in my house if my son has any say in it.

Key Lime Popsicles
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
4 large lime peel strips
1 large avocado, chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup key lime juice (bottled is fine)
Lime zest remaining from lime
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coarse graham cracker crumbs

Combine water, sugar and lime peel strips over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Discard lime peels.

Process lime simple syrup with remaining ingredients, except graham cracker crumbs, until smooth. Poor mixture evenly into popsicle molds. (It filled 6 Lego figure popsicles with extra left to fill 3 medium plastic cups.) Sprinkle evenly with graham cracker crumbs, pushing slightly down into the lime mixture. Freeze at least 3 hours before serving. (If necessary, insert the stick after 30 minutes in the freezer. Lego figure molds have the sticks built into the popsicles.) Makes 7-10 popsicles. 

June 19, 2018

Peanut Butter and Jelly Donuts

Homemade donuts are not a thing in this household. It's not that we don't like donuts. We do. It's not that we don't like homemade donuts. We do. (Dave has fond memories of his grandma's homemade donuts, and I loved my mom's homemade donuts with chocolate sauce.)

But since I lit myself on fire, literally, while attempting to fry donuts the first year we were married, homemade donuts haven't been something I've attempted. I know you can bake cake donuts, which I've done once or twice, but that's not the same thing in my mind. If you have a recipe that will convince me otherwise, by all means, please share.

So it was a big deal when I made these homemade donuts from Hungry Girl Por Vida. I was so proud of myself, although Dave preferred them as plain sugar donuts. I'm not sure whether I'd recreate these because the amount of jam I piped was too heavy-handed, and they are definitely best eaten fresh. If you make these, I'd suggest donut holes, which give a much better ratio of jam.

Still, super exciting.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Donuts
2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. dry yeast
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 1/2 cups flour
Oil for frying-deep fryer only!
Strawberry jam
Peanut Butter Sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter powder (like PB2)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Prepare the dough one day in advance to eat donuts for breakfast rather than brunch. Start by making a roux by whisking the 2 Tbsp. of flour into 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan. Whisk to remove all the lumps. Place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens into a paste. Remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a measuring glass, heat the milk until just warm to the touch, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs and melted butter.

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Add the roux and yeast mixtures to the flour, and mix on medium speed. Once the dough comes together and there are no longer dry bits, mix for 10 minutes to knead the dough until you have a tacky, stretchy dough. Turn the dough onto a clean, flour-dusted surface, and knead a few times until you have a smooth ball of dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Dough should be doubled in the morning. Pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use a round cutter to punch out the donuts. (Use a 3-inch for large donuts or a 1-inch for donut holes.) Gather the scraps, and knead into a disk. Cover, and rest 15-30 minutes before patting and cutting out remaining donuts. Place the donuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet that has been dusted with flour. Lightly dust the tops of the donuts with more flour, and cover. (I should have used more flour, particularly on the bottom.)

Let donuts rest at room temperature until doubled in size. This should take 1-2 hours if the dough was chilled overnight.

Use a deep fryer (see above story where I lit myself on fire when I didn't use one) to heat oil to 325°F or 350°F. Fry the donuts in batches, about 2 minutes per side, until deeply golden. Set fried donuts on baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Let the donuts cool a few minutes before filling with jam. To fill with jam, use a chopstick to create an opening, and then fill with a pastry tip and decorator bag.

Mix the powdered peanut butter and powdered sugar together. Dip both sides of the donuts into the sugar mixture and enjoy! Makes about 10 large donuts.