Friday, August 31, 2012

July Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

So, as I've posted in the past, I have been participating in the Foodie Pen Pal, and today is the July reveal date! Look at all those goodies! 



This month, Sarah Mentzer sent me my box, and boy, did she ever out do herself! She even included a few cat treats for my kitties - which they love!

Although I haven't tried the Apricot Barbecue sauce yet, I can tell you, the Pear Honey, and vanilla pound cake she sent was amazing. I will be getting the recipe for the honey and making that! The pear honey really surprised me, I'm not much of a honey fan normally, but it's just perfect with the pears. She also included some home made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies, which were amazing!

I love that she included freeze dried fruit. She told me in her letter that she has seen people pulverize them and put them in butter cream, which is an awesome idea. However, I actually love freeze dried fruit, so I had them for post work-out snacks. Now I will have to buy some to try for the frosting!

She also included several little packets of granola, which was really tasty. I had plans of using it as a streusel topping for a pie I was baking, but it tasted too good on top my morning yogurt.

All in all, a home run with the bases loaded! Thanks again, Sarah, we all loved the goodies.

If you would like to participate in the foodie pen pals, check out the coordinator, Lindsay, at her blog, the lean green bean.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ginger Infused Peach Cheesecake with Pecan Crust

 This cheesecake was too pretty to cut. It really was, I didn't want a knife anywhere near it. Since I gave it away, I didn't have to see it cut into, so I can always imagine it pretty - like a beautiful flower.

Oh, don't worry, I did taste it, and I can tell you it tastes better than it looks. Yes, I know, you are finding that hard to believe right now, but trust me, it was. Beautiful fresh peaches soaked in a ginger infused sugar syrup, all on top of a pristine vanilla cheesecake, surrounded by a pecan crust. What's not to love?



See that? Even my pics look better - all because of this fantastic cheesecake. Peaches and cream - elevated...that's what my goal was, and I think I accomplished it.

For a .pdf of the recipe, click here. Otherwise, droolworthy recipe below:


Ginger Infused Peach Cheesecake with pecan crust

For the Peach topping:

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
6-8 peaches
4-5 ginger slices

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and ginger slices. Heat to a boil, remove and discard ginger, then let cool. While mixture is cooling, peel and slice peaches into 8-10 slices per peach. Place pieces in sugar syrup as you are slicing them. Chill.

For the cheesecake:

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
½ t. ginger
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients until mixture resembles fine sand. Pat into an 8” springform pan and set aside.

Filling:

24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 t. salt
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons corn starch
2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese for 2-3 minutes. Add sugar to mixing bowl, and whip for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the bowl at least twice. Add salt, corn starch, and vanilla. Add eggs and whip until a homogenous mixture. Pour over prepared crust and bake 60-75 minutes, until top jiggles slightly in the middle only. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake in oven for an additional 20-30 minutes. Chill completely in refrigerator.

When ready to serve, drain peach slices and arrange around the cheesecake in a circular pattern. Serve immediately.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Easy ways to spruce up brownies

You could say these brownies are dressed to impress. And, they are amazingly simple. You just dress up what you have. If you have a killer brownie recipe, that works. If you don't, a mix works just as well. I made these peanut butter killer brownies, but chocolate chip cookie dough works just as well.

Here is what you need: 1 bag chocolate sandwich cookies, 1/2 batch peanut butter cookies (or chocolate chip cookies) OR 1 package of cookie dough, and 1 batch of your favorite brownie batter, prepared how you usually do it.

Pat the cookie dough in the bottom of your pan, add an even layer of your chocolate sandwich cookies, and pour your brownie batter on top. Works like a charm. Just bake as you normally would. Sometimes it can take 5-10 minutes more to bake, but they come out just amazing.


Now, let's talk variations. For those of us that want to go there, you can actually bake a sandwich cookie in the bottom of brownie cupcakes. It just so happens that the chocolate sandwich cookies fit perfectly in the bottom of standard size cupcake pans. And, peanut butter sandwich cookies can be broken in half and those fit perfectly as well. 


And, for even more variations, mini chocolate sandwich cookies (and mini peanut butter sandwich cookies) fit perfectly on the bottom of mini cupcake tins. Isn't that a happy accident? I thought so...or maybe it is deliberate, but I doubt it. Because, if it were, the mini chocolate chip cookies would be the same size (and they aren't).

Just in case your mind can't wrap around these devious delights, just think of the possibilities:

 - Chocolate mint sandwich cookies for mint brownies
 - Oatmeal Cookie base topped with brownies (no cookies) - I've done this quite a few times, and it's one of my favorite - especially if you put a layer of caramel between the oatmeal and the cookies.
 - Espresso chip cookie dough, chocolate sandwich cookies, and brownies with chopped chocolate covered espresso beans.
 - Butterscotch chip cookie dough, peanut butter sandwich cookies, brownie

The possibilities are endless! What are your favorites?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

For the past 3 months, I have been participating in a foodie Pen Pal program. The program, ran by Lindsay over at the Lean Green Bean.

This month, I was paired by the Awesome Kim Bryant, over at Armed with Health And, this is what she sent me! What a great basket, she even included some sugar free candy for my diabetic mom (which my mom absolutely loved).

I just adored this package. I loved that she included a note pad, since I'm an insane list writer. And, I love caramel, so the werthers were a great treat! That clementine juice was amazing as well. Thank you so much Kim!