Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Blog Love: Annie's Eats {+ Deep Dish Pizza!}

I've decided to start a new little series on my blog and use each Friday to highlight one of my favorite food bloggers. I love the huge community of amazing food and recipe blogs that are available to me and so many inspire me to be creative, take risks and create original recipes of my own!

This week I'm pointing you to Annie's Eats, which has such an amazing assortment of tried-and-true recipes to choose from. I've found this blog as one of my go-to's over and over again when it comes to inspiration for weeknight meals or sweet treats.

The latest recipe I gave a try was a huge success at our dinner table: Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza! My husband and I used to live in Northern Indiana when we went to college (and several years after) and fell in love with that amazing style of deep-dish pizza. Don't get me wrong, I love a thin crust too, basically any kind of pizza is right up my alley! However, there's just something amazing about that Chicago-style pie. I knew I had to give it a try in my own kitchen and it was so delicious.

Don't be intimidated by the multi-step recipe, it really is super-simple and don't skimp out and buy your tomato sauce, it won't be as good. The chunky tomato sauce on top of the pie is the best part...except for the cheese...and the amazing crust...ok, I love it all!

I added a layer of pepperoni to the bottom of my pie and recommend if you want to add toppings this pizza, make sure you cook them well (like mushrooms/peppers/onions/sausage) before adding them to the pizza as the first layer on the bottom. You don't want to just throw raw veggies in there, they'll end up soggy and leak water all into your pizza...gross.

I can't wait to make this recipe again, thanks Sally's Baking Addiction for another winning recipe!

Click Here For The Recipe

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One Pot Wonder: Smoky Eggs & Potatoes

One-pot cooking is one of my favorite things, mostly because it means less cleaning, but also because I love the idea of multiple flavors coming together in one pot and simmering away into something delicious.

This dish is perfect for pretty much any meal, if you like a more savory breakfast, definitely trot out this recipe. I used it for an evening meal and served it up with a crusty baguette and it was perfect.

One Pot Smoky Eggs & Potatoes

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1/2 onion (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 heaping tsp. of smoked paprika
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
6 eggs
2 cups diced potatoes (use the small yellow or white ones with tender skin)
2 cups raw baby spinach leaves
2-4 oz goat cheese crumbles

Heat one tbsp. of the oil in a large dutch-oven style pot over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute with a pinch of salt and pepper until just soft. Add the garlic, 2 tsp. of the paprika, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to develop the flavors, then use an immersion blender to create a smooth sauce (or transfer into a traditional blender).

Pour the sauce into a bowl and set aside. In the same pot you used to cook the sauce, heat the remaining tbsp. of oil until just shimmering over medium heat. Add in the potatoes and the remaining tsp. of the paprika and a pinch of salt. Cook until the potatoes are browned on the outside, then add the sauce back in and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes to completely cook the potatoes.

Stir in the spinach, then use the back of a spoon to make little wells in the top of the mixture for the eggs. Crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl before adding them gently into the wells. With the heat on low and the pot covered, cook the eggs for about 10 minutes until they have medium-soft yolks and the whites are no longer transparent.

Serve with the goat cheese crumbled on top with toasted baguette on the side.

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

Click Here To Print The Recipe

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Ultimate Cheesecake: Complete With Chocolate Mousse

Ready for a ridiculously decadent dessert? Its no secret I have a major sweet tooth. Seriously. I love so many types of foods but desserts have a special place in my recipe repertoire. My husband's birthday was a few weeks ago and I wanted to make something special. Last year I tried my hand at Boston Cream Pie, which was delicious and one of his all-time favorite desserts. Over the years I've made mousse, cakes and a cheesecake.

This year I decided to combine a cheesecake with a mousse and it was AMAZING. Especially that chocolate ganache layer...chocolate + cream = magic!

Of course it was so rich that after we ate a slice we immediately needed a nap, but still. A. MAZE. ING.

If you're looking for a dessert for a special occasion, this one really impresses!

Birthday Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

bottom layer - chocolate cookie crust
30 chocolate wafers or chocolate graham crackers (1.5 cups crumbs)
5 tbsp. butter (melted and cooled)
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. vanilla

layer 2 - creamy cheesecake
1 pound (2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream

layer 3 - french chocolate mousse
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

top layer - ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the cookies in the container of a food processor; process them until they are finely ground. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl; combine crumbs, butter, salt, and vanilla; stir until the crumbs are moistened. Dump the cookie mixture into the parchment-lined springform pan. Press the mixture evenly up the sides of the pan, then evenly over the bottom. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the freezer and bake for 6-8 minutes at 350, until set and dry to the touch. Let the crust cool on a wire rack while you make the cheesecake.

Decrease oven temperature to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on the stovetop to boil. Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is very soft and smooth, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat at medium speed for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer to low speed and mix in the heavy cream.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl. Scrape the batter into the cooled cookie crust. The batter should fill about half way up the pan. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to give at least a 1-inch space between the cheesecake and the roasting pan. Place in the center of the oven and then carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for about 45 minutes, the best way to tell if your cheesecake is done is to insert a thermometer into the center; it should read 150°F.  Remove cheesecake from the roaster pan - be careful of the hot water - and remove the foil. Place cheesecake on a wire rack. Prop a large bowl over the cheesecake, leaving a 1-inch crack to let the cheesecake cool slowly.

When the cake is cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

*** Make the mousse once the cheesecake has cooled, ideally the following day***

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put the chocolate and butter into the bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring with a whisk, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate one by one, beating with a whisk until incorporated. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat. Gradually add in 1/4 cup granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until it begins to foam. Add the vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons  sugar. Continue to whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Set aside.

Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Then, delicately fold in the whipped cream. Take care to not overwork the mousse, but make sure the cream is blended in well.

Using a rubber spatula, spread the mousse on top of the cooled cheesecake while still in the springform pan. Cover with plastic wrap.

*** If making the ganache immediately, place the mousse-covered cheesecake in the freezer as you make the ganache. (The cheesecake should NOT be in the freezer for more than 30 minutes.) If making the ganache later, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for a few hours. ***

Place the chopped chocolate and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat until the point just before it boils. Pour hot cream over chocolate and vanilla. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Allow ganache to cool for about 15 minutes.

Remove mousse cheesecake from the freezer or refrigerator. With an offset spatula, smooth the ganache while starting at the center of the cake and working outward. Be aware that the cold temperature of the cake will cause the ganache to firm up, so work fairly quickly.

Release the springform pan and cut cheesecake with a sharp knife to serve. Store cheesecake in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap.

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