Monday, May 31, 2010

Rhubarb Cake

Fresh rhubarb is now out in the grocery stores. I love rhubarb and try to make a couple of the good rhubarb recipes that I've come across over the years during rhubarb season. I got this one from Diane in the Alexandria office a few years back. It tastes like a coffee cake. I didn't want to reduce the sugar too much the first time, since rhubarb is quite bitter, so I tried 1 1/4 C and that was fine. You may be able to cut out a bit more than that, which I'll try next time I make it.

1/2 C butter
1 1/2 C sugar (I used 1 1/4 C)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C flour (I used whole-wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 C milk
3 C raw cubed rhubarb
1 tbsp. flour (sprinkle amongst the rhubarb)

1. Mix the above ingredients together. Spread out in a 9 x 13 inch lightly greased pan.

1/2 C (or less) soft butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C brown sugar (I used 1/4 C brown sugar Splenda)

2. Mix these 3 ingredients together and spread over the first mixture.

3. Cook at 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 to 50 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chocolate Trifle

I got this recipe from Margaret when working in the Alexandria office of the Health Unit years back, as she had brought it to one of our potlucks and it was a big hit. This is the other dessert that I had made when my family was down. It also makes a ton and I don't recommend making it unless you've got a big group of people, otherwise, you'll never get through it all and end up throwing it out. I think that I may have tried to freeze this in the past and that it worked, but I'm not sure. This recipe is perfect for a potluck or bbq, since it makes such a large quantity.

1 chocolate cake mix (I use my recipe for chocolate chunk fudgy brownies but omit the chocolate chips (see May 11/10 posting))
2 chocolate instant puddings (I use fat-free)
4 chocolate bars such as Skor or Crispy Crunch (I typically use crushed Oreo cookies, as my sister, who tends to be around whenever I make this, is allergic to nuts and can't have these chocolate bars)
1 large Cool Whip (I use light)
3 C milk

1. Bake chocolate cake mix in 2 round pans. Let cool. Take 1 layer and crumble into a large glass bowl (preferably a trifle bowl, if you have one - thanks Antonia for ours!).

2. Mix 3 C of milk with 2 instant puddings until thick. Then add 2 crumbled chocolate bars. Mix.

3. Take 1/2 chocolate pudding mixture and pour on top of crumbled cake. Then layer 1/2 of Cool Whip on top of pudding.

4. Repeat, starting with 2nd layer of cake.

5. Top the trifle with the remaining crumbled chocolate bars.

6. Chill until ready to serve. Can be made one day ahead.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake

What better opportunity to make a cheesecake than when you have 6 members of your family coming down to stay with you for the weekend? I find that cheesecakes are generally way too big to make unless there's a big crowd, so I decided to take advantage of having my big family down to make another cheesecake. And sure enough, there are only 2 pieces left now that the weekend is over.

This recipe also comes from the cookbook 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes, which I've cited before and which is basically the source for any cheesecakes I ever make. I always try a new recipe and find that any I have tried from this cookbook have always been good. I made the recipe with Fudgeeos, though Oreos would also work well.

Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake

1 1/4 C chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (I used Oreo crumbs)
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted
10 chocolate sandwich cookies

3 packages (each 250g) cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
3/4 C sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 chocolate sandwich cookies, quartered (I threw in maybe 6 extras)

Crust: In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into a 9-inch cheesecake pan with 3-inch sides. (If you make your own crumbs by crushing cookies in the food processor, you can use double stuffed cookies and omit the butter in the crust). Cut sandwich cookies in half at the cream filling. Place each half, cookie side, against side of pan, one after another creating a wall of chocolate sandwich cookies. Set aside in the freezer to firm. (If the wall of cookies starts to fall, just prop them up when you pour the filling in the pan).

Filling: In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Fold in quartered cookies. Pour batter over frozen crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree Farenheit oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is light brown and the centre has a slight jiggle to it. Cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating.

Decoration: Ice top of cake with whipped cream topping. Top with chocolate sandwich cookies.

Variation: during Halloween, use Oreo cookies with orange centres.

Serves 10 to 12.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Skor Squares

I'm somehow managing to get much more done these days than I had ever anticipated I would with a newborn baby. Luck has it that so far, the crazy person that I am has managed to have a super calm baby... clearly dad's genes... I'm sure that things will get crazier as he starts being awake for longer periods as he gets older... but in the meantime, I'm taking advantage of the massive sleep he's enjoying to keep baking a bit for when guests come over (once I've napped, of course!).

I made this recipe this afternoon for Heidi's visit on the weekend. I originally got this super simple recipe from Monique at work and though I haven't made it in ages, it's one of the easiest recipes ever to make and really takes only a few seconds to whip together.
1 250g box of Ritz crackers

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 bag of Skor toffee bits

1. Mix together the Ritz, sweetened condensed milk and half of the bag of Skor and press into a greased pan.
2. Sprinkle the rest of the Skor over the top and cook at 350 degrees Farenheit for approximately 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Fudgy Brownies

I'm not quite sure what's been happening with my blog, but I know that a few previously sent recipes were recently sent out a second time - oddly enough, the day I got home from the hospital with baby Logan. No, I wasn't blogging away on my first day at home, pretending to be some kind of wonder woman. It must have just been some sort of a bug in the system, since today is the first day I've entered by account.

Yesterday, while Logan was down for a 3 hour power nap, I had a chance to make a few treats to stock in the freezer. This way, I'll have something to offer to guests as they come by to visit the baby. So note to all, those of you who drop by first will get treats... we'll see how long it lasts though, as I wasn't expecting to actually have a chance to make anything for an eternity. But so far, he's being a pretty easy baby and I'm getting several long stretches throughout the day when I can get things done. If only these stretches also extended to the night... but I get enough during the day that I can nap at times and still get things done at other times.

That being said, this recipe comes from the cookbook 365 Great Cookies and Brownies, which again, was a gift from Antonia back in my undergrad days. These brownies are nice and fudgy and freeze well. I've never bothered icing them, though I'm sure that'd make them all that much better.

1 C melted butter (I use low-fat margarine)
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 C sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 C flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C semisweet chocolate chunks (I use dark chocolate chips)
1 C chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

2. Melt butter over low heat or in a microwave. Scrape into a medium bowl. Add cocoa powder and stir until well blended. Mix in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, then flour and salt. Do not overbeat. Stir in chocolate chunks and, if desired, nuts.

3. Turn into prepared pan, leveling surface. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near centre comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove pan to a rack. Let cool completely in pan before cutting into 24 bars.

I find the recipe has quite a bit of sugar in it. I've never bothered trying to cut down the amount, as I make them only very rarely and figure that a treat's a treat. But if you make them more frequently and want to make them healthier, I'm sure you could cut back the sugar by 1/3 and they'd be just as good.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Banana Cinnamon Waffles

This is another recipe that I made awhile back and have just gotten around to posting now. We don't frequently make waffles, but they're a nice treat on a lazy Sunday morning. I love to top them with various fresh fruit before adding syrup. These aren't as fluffy as Belgian waffles, but are much healthier and I still find them quite tasty.

1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1/4 C buckwheat flour
1/4 C ground flaxseed
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C milk
3 tbsp. melted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large ripe banana, mashed

1. Combine flours, flaxseed and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

2. Combine milk, butter and eggs with a whisk; add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Fold in mashed bananas.

3. Preheat a waffle iron. Coat iron with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 C batter per grid, spreading batter to edges. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until steaming stops; repeat procedure with remaining butter.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ricotta Strawberry Breakfast Cakes

Heidi gave me this recipe several years ago and it is one that I continue to make many times throughout the year for a treat for breakfast. The recipe says to make it in individual cups, but I often double the recipe and cook it in an 8x8 pan, as seen below. I've also made it with a variety of different fruit, such as mixed berries, blueberries, etc. and it has always turned out well. I like to serve it drizzled with a bit of maple syrup, as recommended in the recipe.

2 eggs
1 C ricotta cheese
1/3 confectioners sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 C fresh sliced strawberries

1. Beat the eggs until foamy.

2. Stir in the ricotta cheese, confectioners sugar, cornstarch and lemon extract, and blend well.

3. Stir in the strawberries, taking care not to crush them.

4. Fill each (3/4 C) glass baking cup (sprayed with cooking spray) about 2/3 full.

5. Bake in 400 degrees Farenheit oven approximately 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Serve with extra strawberries or maple syrup.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwich Muffins

In celebrating the fact that I can still eat peanut butter for a few more days, I decided to make some delicious peanut butter muffins this weekend. My husband's comments when eating one were 'whoa... peanut butter'. So only make them if you really like peanut butter. I clearly love them.

1 egg
1 C smooth peanut butter
1/4 C oil
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 C milk
1 C flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. strawberry jam
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Beat egg, 1 C peanut butter and the oil in a large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar; mix well. Gradually add milk, mixing well after each addition. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture; stir just until moistened.

2. Spoon just enough batter into each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups to cover bottom of cup. Spoon 1/2 tsp. each of the jam and remaining 2 tbsp. peanut butter over batter in cups. Cover evenly with remaining batter.

3. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack; cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.