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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chocolate Praline Cake

Yummm Pralines!
And chocolate!

This is one of the easiest cakes ever. It only takes 10 minutes to put together!

Chocolate Praline Cake
1 box Devil's food cake plus the ingredients needed to make it
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 brown sugar
1/4 whipping cream
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Make the cake based on the directions on the box. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the brown sugar and cream, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pecans to the mix, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the bottom on a bundt pan (must use a bundt pan). Carefully pour the cake batter over the sugar and pecan mix. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes (or longer if needed, check with a knife). Cool for 10 minutes then invert the cake onto a platter. 
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

This was oh-so-good when warm.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Light-er Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I'm a big fan of Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Its creamy, cheesy, and perfect for a chilly day. I've made broccoli cheddar soup before, and while the taste was good, the texture was off because I didn't chop the broccoli small enough. But when I got an immersion blender from my amazing Maid of Honor, Analise, I finally had an easy way to make it!

Plus, no cream, so I don't feel terrible about eating several bowls of it.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
6 tbsp butter, divided
3/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrot, shredded
4 cups small broccoli florets
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or more)
4 tsp flour
2 cups milk (any... I used skim)
2 cups shredded cheddar (sharp is preferable)
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in the broth, onion salt, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, add broccoli, the reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, whisking constantly. Whisk in the milk and cook until it thickens and bubbles (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat, and slowly whisk in the cheese until it melts completely. Slowly add the cheese sauce to the soup pot, stirring to combine. Allow to simmer until hot and the broccoli is tender. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt. To make it a little creamier, use an immersion blender to puree the soup (but don't go too crazy... you want some broccoli pieces left). To serve, add a little freshly shredded cheese on top.
Also good with some warm french bread

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Cream Cheesecake

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  ...well, one day late.

And I know I haven't been updating as frequently as usual but I have good excuses! I promise! There has been a lot going on around here. First of all, Chris and I got married on March 4th!!!  

See, I said I had a good excuse!

And then we took a week long honeymoon in Mexico (Playa del Carmen)...

Sunrise over the ocean!

Chichen Itza

Cenote for swimming

So yeah... very busy.

But now that St. Patty's (or Paddy's) day has come and gone, I'd like to share this recipe that I made for a party yesterday. It was a big hit, not too difficult to make, and I think you'll enjoy it as well!

Irish Cream Cheesecake

1 1/2 cup (or more) of crushed oreos
2 Tbs butter, melted
4 packages (32 oz. total) of cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. Irish Liquor
4 eggs

First preheat the oven to 325 and mix the butter with the crushed oreo cookies. Pat them into the bottom of a spring-form pan. I recommend you put parchment paper on the bottom so that its easy to remove the cake at the end. Bake for 10 minues.

 Next, beat the sugar and the cream cheese together until well blended. Add the sour cream and liquor, mixing well. Add the eggs, one at a time, on low, until just blended. Pour the mix over the crust. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until the center is almost set (should look a little wobbly). Cool and remove the rim. Refrigerate afterwards.

As you can see, the top of my cake cracked. I think next time I'm going to try baking it in a water bath. To do that, put the cheesecake pan in a larger dish. Place it in the oven and add an inch or two of hot water. This allows the eggs to cook more evenly, and hopefully your cake wont crack. No big deal either way. It tastes the same (which is what matters).

Afterwards, you can use a stencil and colored sugar to make shamrocks on the top. Just do this shortly before serving otherwise the moisture in the cheesecake will cause the sugar to melt and it won't look as nice.

I hope you had a great St. Patty's day!