Monday, May 27, 2013

Sweet Breakfasts

I recently baked up some sweet treats for my coworkers and friends.  For my coworkers, I prepared Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins.  I was like a mad scientist with three bowls of components:  batter, cream cheese filling and topping.  I had some cream cheese filling left over after running out of batter and that was no good.  You can make muffins without filling but filling without batter is a snack.  Next time I make these I will be more generous with the filling to not have any left.  

The muffins were super moist with a nice flavor from the cinnamon.  And a struessel topping makes everything decadant.

I was charged with making breakfast this weekend and I picked Cinnamon Roll Casserole.  Sounds like heaven and tastes as good too!  It is very easy to put together using canned cinnamon rolls covered in a simple homemade custard, maple syrup and finished off with the packaged icing.  I skipped the pecans.  This was delicious and seemed to be even tastier the next day.  I highly recommend this simple recipe to dress up cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

My coworkers noted my lack of bringing in treats as of late and requested a sweet treat with cream cheese.  I compiled a list of several recipes from my Pinterest dessert board and they choose Lemon Bar Cheesecake.  It is essentially a cheesecake stuck in the middle of a lemon bar.  There are three steps... crust (which is like a short bread), lemon curd and cheesecake.  I made the crust and curd on Saturday and the cheesecake on Sunday.  

The crust was easy to prepare - all in a food processor and then rests in the refrigerator.  The lemon curd was made super simple using the microwave.  Finally, the cheesecake was rich and also easy to put together.  I used neufchatel cream cheese and this did not affect the taste at all.  I also prepared the cake in a 9 x 13 pan and this worked perfectly.

April 28, 2013

Carol hosted us on April 28, 2013 and we had a Spring Bunny theme with all of Carol's cute bunny dishes, decorations and flowers.  And of course, there was BUNNY BUTTER.  Carol makes the butter by spreading softened butter on a cookie sheet and then cutting out the bunny shapes. 

Janet supplied the two beverages and got the party started.

Our appetizers of two types of deviled eggs (Paula Deen and curried, minus the salmon, prepared by Teresa) were served at the breakfast table.  Carol also served a Ranch dip with vegetables.

Paula Deen recipes were popular this Sunday!  Mary made Deen's recipe for Fruit Salad with Honey Dressing.  It was a unique fruit salad due to unusual ingredients like mustard and avocado.  All blended together beautifully for a light, refreshing salad.

Our main dish of Chicken Breasts with Shrimp Stuffing was colorful and flavorful.  Chicken breasts were prepped by pounding until thin and then a layer of stuffing was spread inside and the chicken rolled and secured with toothpicks until baked to 165 degrees.  I think the stuffing recipe could be simplified by cooking the spinach with the peppers and onions and then adding to the cheese while still warm to allow the cheese to be fully incorporated.  The stuffing is then cooled prior to putting on the chicken.

Chicken Breasts with Shrimp Stuffing 

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place chicken between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound slightly to 1/4 inch thickness.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Place 1/2 cup stuffing in the center of each breast.  Roll breast around stuffing; secure with a toothpick.  Place chicken rolls, seam side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, remove toothpicks and slice each breast on the bias into thirds.  Fan chicken breast on individual plates or a meat platter and serve.

Shrimp Stuffing - Makes about 3 cups

2 T vegetable oil
1/3 c finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 c finely chopped green bell pepper
1/3 c finely chopped red onion
1/2 pound (90 to 110 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut into halves or thirds
1/2 T Creole Seafood Seasoning
1 T Louisiana hot pepper sauce
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 c water
1 (10 oz.) package fresh spinach, stemmed and washed
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 ounces soft goat cheese
2 ounces feta cheese
Tabasco sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium  - high heat.  Add red and green bell pepper, onion and shrimp;  saute until vegetables are tender.  Spread out in a colander to drain excess liquid.  Season with Creole seafood seasoning, hot sauce and Worcestershire; chill in refrigerator.

Place water in a large skillet over medium - high heat.  When simmering, add  spinach and cook
until just wilted.  Drain in colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Use you hands to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Coarsely chop and refrigerate until needed.

When shrimp mixture is chilled, combine in a large bowl with spinach, cream cheese, goat cheese and  feta.  Season with salt and pepper and Tabasco.  Reserve stuffing in refrigerator until needed. May be made one day in advance.

 Creole Seafood Seasoning - Makes about 3 1/2 cups

3/4 cup salt
6 1/2 T finely ground black pepper
4 T cayenne pepper
7 1/2 T garlic powder
6 T onion powder
1 c  paprika
1/2 c tightly packed dried thyme leaves
7 T tightly packed dried oregano leaves

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.   Or, place in a food processor
and pulse lightly to make a finer mixture.  Store seasoning in a covered container and keep
in a cool, dry place up to 6 months.

One side dish was another Paula Deen recipe for Pecan Parsley Rice.  The rice was crunchy and fresh tasting with the parsley, lemon zest and juice.  It was served in the bunny ramekins.

Tonya prepared Spring Vegetable Saute' with blanched edamame, asparagus and red onions.  Fresh mint gave this dish a bright flavor.  Delicious and so healthy!   

Zucchini Cornbread was also cooked by Tonya and it was one of the best corn breads I have ever had!  Tonya reduced the sugar to 1/4 a cup and baked the cornbread in a cast iron skillet, like a good Southern girl would do!

Carol requested that I prepare a single serving dessert to be placed on the bunny platters.  I baked Lemon Mascarpone Cupcakes.  I had never made such a fancy cupcake before.  I realize that I could have put the filling in deeper in the cake, as well as used more.  I did not make the icing "stiff" enough, using powdered sugar, in order to pipe it (though I tried!).  I thought if I put in more sugar then the flavor of cream cheese and butter would be diluted.  Despite my cake not being as beautiful as the original source recipe the flavor was decadent yet light with the lemon zest and juice.  The icing had no lemon flavor but it must have soaked it up from the cake and filling.