Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yum - Yum - Yum. This cake was just what the recipe called it - perfect. It was moist and perfectly- chocolatey. I made it as a 2 layer cake and doubled the frosting recipe. I did have some frosting left over, but I can think of worse things. :-) I have made a few different chocolate cake cupcakes since making this recipe, and this is still my favorite chocolate cake to date.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

VARIATIONS:ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cranberry, Pecan and Honey Torte

Sorry for the lack of posts lately - We've had a busy summer with lots of camping, birthday parties, weddings, etc. I have started a new business of sorts - making cookies and cupcakes for showers, parties, etc. I will try to blog those very soon.

This recipe is another that I made up based on something I got from a grocery store. It is a great appetizer and is super simple.


Cranberry, Pecan, and Honey Torte

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat kind) room temperature
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sweetened pecans (I find these by the salad dressing and croutons)
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Beat cream cheese, sugar and honey in stand mixer or with hand mixer. Then by hand, stir in 1/3 cup each cranberries and pecans.

Line a bowl or plastic container with wax paper - I used a 4 cup rectangular tupperware container. Mix together remaining cranberries and pecans and spread in bottom of paper lined dish. Add the cream cheese mixture to the top. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Put a plate on the top of the container it's stored in and flip over so the layer of pecans/cranberries is on top. Serve with Wheat Thins or other crackers or breads.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Birthday Cake Ice Cream

I am in love with my ice cream maker. I had been seeing a ton of home made ice cream recipes floating around and decided to keep an eye out for a deal on an ice cream maker. I ended up scoring one for $24 at Bed Bath and Beyond - and I'm soooooooo glad I did. I had never really had home made ice cream before and now will never go back to store bought.

I haven't blogged any of the recipes I've made yet because the ice cream always disappears before I have a chance to take pictures. Hopefully I can post more recipes soon. I am trying to stick to the no-cook, no-egg recipes, which limits me a little. I may branch out, but I have an egg allergy, so I won't be tasting any of the egg/custard recipes. I have made several flavors so far, but this one is one of my favorites. It is based on the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with my ice cream maker, but I made several changes - like adding the cake mix. It really tastes like cake batter - which is perfect for someone like me who can't lick the bowl when I make cake! I hope you love it as much as I do!

Birthday Cake Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boxed cake mix (powder only)

Sift together sugar and cake mix. Add in cold milk and whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in heavy cream, and pour mixture into ice cream maker. Mix according to machine's directions.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Orzo

For those of you that know me pretty well this recipe might surprise you. It appears to be a pasta salad - but I maintain that it's not. For those who don't know me - I can't stand salad dressing of any kind. I don't like the smell or the taste, blah! So when I made this for dinner the other night my husband laughed at me and said it IS, in fact, a pasta salad. My argument is that there's no "salad dressing" or vinegar or anything else that I consider part of the salad family, so therefore, it is not a pasta 'salad.' It's just a pasta side dish. (I know it makes no sense, but that's how I'm rationalizing it)

Anyway, this is an awesome side dish and easy to make for a large crowd. I will be doubling it for an upcoming BBQ. I also love that it is served cold so you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the fridge and get it out for dinner. You can substitute a different pasta for orzo too if you'd like. I picked orzo because I've been on an orzo/risotto kick lately and had it on hand. And as with most pasta 'side dish' recipes feel free to make changes to the ingredients based on your tastes - add a different herb, add olives, etc. It's very versatile.

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Orzo

8 oz uncooked orzo
4 oz mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 container of grape tomatoes, cut in half
6-8 basil leaves, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
a few cranks of cracked black pepper

Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

Mix up olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil in a small dish. Pour over cooled pasta and stir to coat. Fold in cheese and tomatoes. Serve cold.

Makes about 4-6 side dish servings.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Philly Pretzels

My brother-in-law threw down another challenge. He sent me a link to a soft pretzel filled with Philly Cheese Steak and asked if I could make em. Sure - why not!?!

I used my standard Alton Brown soft pretzel recipe and followed it to the point of shaping. I divided the dough into 8 portions and formed each portion into a rectangle - about 4"x8". Next add about 1/3 cup of the filling to the middle of the rectangle. Fold in the sides and then roll pretzel and pinch seams. Boil in water and baking soda for 45 seconds or so then roll over and boil for another 45 seconds. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I am told that actual Philly Cheese Steaks have cheese whiz, but I used 2% milk Velveeta for the cheese.

These were really tasty. I'm not sure how authentic they are, but my husband loved them and I got the thumbs up of approval from my brother in law. They re-heated really well the next day too - just pop them in the microwave for 90 seconds.

Philly Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1lb Velveeta cheese
Salt and pepper

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, brown the ground beef with the diced onion and salt and pepper to taste. Drain any fat. Cut Velveeta into 1 inch cubes and stir into meat mixture until melted. Allow filling to cool.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. Place a cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle - about 4"x8". Spread about 1/3 cup of the filling on the middle of the rectangle. Fold in the sides and then roll pretzel and pinch seams. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 45 seconds and then roll over and continue boiling for another 45 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Place them on the cooling rack in the baking sheet.

Once cool enough to touch, transfer pretzels to the parchment lined baking sheets and brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 15-20minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Fresh Fruit Tart

I am waaaaay behind on my blogging. It's been a crazy few weeks here with lots of weekend camping trips and busy weeks in between.

I actually made this recipe for a Mother's Day BBQ. It came together really easily and looked impressive. A few guests asked where I bought it! If you're looking for an easy, impressive summer dessert, look no further!

Fresh Fruit Tart


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and sliced

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries, kiwi and blueberries

1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, and butter, and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.
Spread over the cooled crust. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.
For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart. You will not use all of the glaze.

Keep the tart in the refrigerator. Remove about 15 minutes before serving. Slice into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pretzel Rolls

My brother in law was over yesterday and said he had a project for me. He brought out a bag of Trader Joe's pretzel rolls and asked if I could make anything like it.

I do love a challenge. I started searching my favorite blogs first and struck out. So I checked tastespotting and foodgawker. I came across this recipe from foodgawker.

If you've ever made soft pretzels at home, this is really no different. They are just shaped differently. They are soft, chewy and delicious. I had one for lunch today with shaved turkey and provel cheese. A-mazing.

The recipe said to make 18, two ounce balls of dough. I weighed mine and they were all close to two ounces and I only got 16 rolls. I think next time I will make them a little bigger because these were almost slider-size instead of bun-size. The directions were very good, so I've just copied them (almost) exactly from Stresscake.


Pretzel Rolls

1 ½ cups warm water (around 110°F)
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
pretzel salt - I used coarse Kosher salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let rest 5 minutes until foamy. Add the remaining ingredients (sugar, flour, salt, butter) and mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined, the dough comes together and is rather silky – but not sticky – to the touch.

First rise: Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
Shaping: Cut the dough into 18 pieces, roughly 2 ounces each. (Or really any size you wish, keeping in mind that you’re going to have to poach them in the baking soda solution so they need to fit into your pan.) To shape, take a piece of dough and start forming a nice round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. By doing this, you’re creating a smooth skin around the dough ball.

Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand. This takes some practice. Space evenly on the prepared sheet pans, pinched seam side down, leaving at least 1” between each roll.

Second rise: Cover with a tea towel or a light film of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.
Poaching: In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer. Carefully slip the rolls into the poaching liquid, seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over in the liquid. Poach other side for 30 seconds then remove with a spider or slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls, leaving at least 1” between rolls for baking.

Glaze: With a pastry brush, glaze each roll completely with the lightly beaten egg making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt. With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash or “X” in the top of each roll.

Bake: Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking – top to bottom, front to back – for even browning. Cool completely. Rolls are best eaten on day of baking but they store pretty well in the freezer, tightly wrapped. Reheat in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Tart

I recently got a tart pan and went searching for tart recipes. I knew I was making a sweet tart for Mother's Day so I looked for something more savory. I found this recipe on Annie's Eats.

There really isn't much I can say about this tart other than you absolutely have to try it. The crust is amazing - the fresh basil and garlic really make it delicious - and the combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil is always fantastic.

I used fresh basil from my container garden and used roma tomatoes instead of the cherry tomatoes in Annie's version. I also blind baked it before adding toppings like she suggested.

Please try this. You will not regret it!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Tart
From: Annie's Eats

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil

Using your food processor, process the basil and garlic until it is finely minced. Add the flour and salt and pulse until well combined. Add in the butter a few pieces at a time pulsing between additions. Mix until a crumbly dough forms. Begin adding water - 3 tbsp's to start - and pulse. Add more water - 1 tbsp at a time - until dough forms ball. Remove from bowl, flatten into a disc, about 5 inches across, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To bake - preheat oven to 425. Roll out dough on a floured surface until is is about 12 inches across. Lay it on top of your tart pan and press the dough into the edge and up the sides. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the tart and place baking beads on top - or dried beans, rice, pennies, etc. Anything heavy). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove foil and beads and bake for another 5 minutes.

Lower oven to 375. Top tart shell with sliced mozzarella and then sliced tomatoes. Drizzle on olive oil, then sprinkle on salt, pepper and basil.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Depending on your oven you may need to rotate it halfway through baking. You also may need to dab the top with a paper towel halfway through to remove excess moisture.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I have been looking for a vanilla frosting recipe for cupcakes that would make a pretty swirl. I recently made some strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream frosting. No matter how much powdered sugar I added to the frosting it was just too liquid-y. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but it melted right off the cupcakes. I only frosted a few of the cakes before I stopped and set out to find a stiffer buttercream. I went back to The Cupcake Project and tried out her 'favorite vanilla buttercream.' It is now MY favorite vanilla buttercream.

The only adaptation I made is to use the scraped seeds from two vanilla pods instead of the 2 tsp. of vanilla bean paste. (only because that's what I had on hand)

It was fantastic on the strawberry cupcakes. I've also used it on homemade oreos (will blog soon, I have to make them again because I didn't get pictures the first time), Sugar Cookie Bars (again, need to blog this one), and most recently, oatmeal cookie sandwiches.

For the Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches I used my usual recipe and baked the cookies for 12 minutes in my new fancy Whoopie Pie Pan. Once cooled, I filled with the vanilla bean butter cream. These sandwiches were so amazing, I kept one and immediately got rid of the rest because I knew I would have devoured them all.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp milk

Mix butter and sugar til well combined. Add in vanilla and milk. Add more sugar to make the frosting stiffer, or milk to make it less stiff.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cheddar Crackers

I saw this recipe on The Cupcake Project - which is a fabulous blog, go check it out. I thought it looked like a fun project and something my kiddo would love. I happened to have a set of little cutters from I have no idea where. They have been in my pantry since our wedding. But they were perfect for these crackers. I had a fish, a moose, a bear, a canoe, and a house. I did not use the house or the canoe.

The dough comes together super easily and rolls out great. The only thing I didn't like was how long it took to cut out the crackers and re-roll the dough. Next time I make these, I will probably just use a pizza cutter and make squares instead of animal shapes. I will also cook them just a little longer to make them more crispy.

The verdict? Kiddo loved them, husband loved them and I liked them a lot. I don't think I cooked them long enough so they were a little soft, but had great flavor overall. I will make them again, but like I said, no tiny cutters next time.

Cheddar Fish Crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 oz cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Pulse the flour, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade.
Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out as many crackers as possible and place them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking pans.
Bake until golden and crisp - 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa

When I saw this recipe for salsa I knew I had to make it soon. I love chips and salsa - it's easily my favorite snack. I had never made my own salsa, though, until now.
This was simple and delicious. I changed the quantities up a little bit, and used different peppers from the original.

My husband said it was the best salsa he's ever had. Now he COULD be lying, but I kind of doubt it because he knows when he gives something I make a big compliment, I'm likely to make it again and again and again. Which I will do with this recipe.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

8 roma tomatoes
4 jalapenos
10-12 garlic cloves
1 large onion


Preheat oven to 375.

Cut tomatoes in half and place on baking sheet. Cut onion into quarters and add next to tomatoes. Peel garlic cloves and add to baking sheet. Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and membranes. I left the seeds and membranes for 1 1/2 of the jalapenos and I would say the salsa was 'mild.' So if you like it hotter - leave more of the seeds and membranes.

Roast in oven for around 45 minutes or until onion becomes translucent. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Put everything in your food processor, adding a few stems of cilantro, a big pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of sugar and buzz it to your desired consistency.

Lemon, Thyme, and Olive Oil Cakes

I saw these on Pioneer Woman's site and knew they would be perfect for Easter Brunch. I decided to try to make them mini and found these super cute liners. Aren't they adorable?
Well I did a trial run and they didn't turn out so great. They suck to the liners pretty badly, so I decided for the brunch I would do like the recipe calls for and just butter/flour the pans. They came out great and were very good. I did end up making them using a mini muffin tin and it made about 3 dozen cakes. They baked for about 17 minutes.

This recipe is different because it uses the blender to mix the ingredients. I had a little trouble with the first step of mixing the sugar and zest together - my blender just would not pull all the sugar to the middle. Otherwise this was a simple recipe with great results.

Lemon, Thyme and Olive Oil Cakes

1 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs
¼ cups olive oil
⅔ cups milk
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1-½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (more as needed)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a muffin pan with melted butter and then dust with a little bit of flour - or spray with cooking spray with flour. Pulse the sugar and lemon zest in a blender until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually pour in the olive oil and milk, pulsing until emulsified into a thin batter, about 30 seconds. Don’t over blend or the cakes will be too puffy.

Whisk one cup flour, the baking powder, salt and thyme in a small bowl. Add to the blender in 2 batches until just combined. Pour the batter unto the prepared pan and bake until the cakes just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched, about 25 minutes depending on your oven.

In the meantime, make the glaze: whisk the powdered sugar, melted butter and lemon juice until smooth, adding more lemon juice if too thick. Drizzle over the cooled cakes or turn the cakes over and dunk the tops in the glaze. Garnish with a thyme sprig.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mac n Cheese

I needed to throw together a quick side dish for a impromptu dinner. So I went to the pantry to take inventory. I found a half box of store brand elbow macaroni with a recipe on the back for macaroni and cheese. I adapted it to use what I had on hand. The recipe below is how it is written on the box. My changes are in italics. The main thing I added was Penzey's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle. I love this stuff. I use it on salad, pasta, bread, veggies and who knows what else. You can obviously leave it out, since the original recipe doesn't call for it, but if you have it on hand or have a Penzey's nearby, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Macaroni and Cheese
From: Schnuck's Pasta Box

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar (I used 2 cups cheddar and 1 cup mozzarella)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard (I did not have any)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups elbow macaroni (I used a whole box of rotini pasta)
1 heaping tablespoon Penzey's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour to create a roux. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Add seasonings. Cook until sauce is thickened then add 1 cup grated cheddar (I added 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup mozzarella) and stir until melted.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Add to cheese sauce and mix well. Turn mixture into 8 inch baking dish or pan. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. If you want to make the top crispy, broil for a few additional minutes.

Oatmeal, Cranberry, White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was looking for recipes to use up a giant bag of Craisins I bought and found this one in my recipe box. I have no idea where it came from (if you recognize it, please let me know so I can give credit). I do know that these cookies are moist, chewy and delicious. I love the pairing of white chocolate chips with cranberries, and the oats add great texture.

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In your stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly add to butter mixture. Add cranberries and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.
Roll dough into balls slightly larger than a golf ball and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jalapeno Popper Dip

This dip is the new 'crack' dip. It's delicious and addictive. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you want. To make it mild, scrape out all of the seeds and ribs (white parts) from the jalapenos and throw em out. To make it spicier, add more of the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos.

This dip is great for making ahead of time and warming it up when you're ready to eat. Make this for your next party and people will beg for the recipe.

I apologize in advance for this picture. It does not do the dip justice at all.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Adapted from: Big Red Kitchen

2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1- 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
2 jalapenos, diced

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

In a food processor or stand mixer add cream cheese, mayo, cheese, peppers and chilies and process until smooth. You do not need to drain the peppers. Spread the dip into a greased 2 quart casserole. In a zip top plastic bag mix bread crumbs and the other 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the dip and bake in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots or crackers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I found this recipe a while back and it has been one of our family favorites. I get requests for it pretty often. I have done a few variations including using cinnamon chips instead of ground cinamon.

These cookies are thick, chewy and delicious.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From: Baking Blonde

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker® Oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350.

Soak raisins in a bowl of warm water with a dash of vanilla. Let sit while you mix other ingredients. Strain before using.

In large bowl or mixer, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins, stir until well distributed.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Foil Pack Potatoes

This is a super simple side dish that goes perfectly with bbq and grilled meals. You can easily add different spices and veggies to make it go with your meal.

1 medium potato per person
onion to taste
Penzey's Mural of Flavor

Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Dice onion.

Lay out a piece of foil for each potato. Top each piece of foil with potato, onion, spices and a pat of butter. Gather up the 4 corners together at the top. Do not seal - the steam needs a place to escape.

Place on grill on indirect heat for 30 minutes. You can also bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Be careful when you open the pack because some steam will still be trapped in there.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stuffed Pretzels

A few weeks ago we had a lazy Saturday and spent most of the day home, working around the house. I decided to make some pretzels and make them more of a meal than a snack. I had seen a lot of people making ham and cheese pretzels, but we only had salami so that's what we used. these were super good and just a weeee bit more work than plain pretzels

To make them follow this recipe up until the point of shaping the pretzels. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle - about 4in x 8 in. Lay some salami or other meat on the dough and top with shredded cheese of your choice. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the pretzel until you have created a pretzel stick. Pinch seam and ends to seal.

Boil the pretzels in the water/baking soda for 1 minute each. Place on baking sheet and brush with egg wash and then salt. Bake at 450 for 13-17 minutes.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Two years ago on Valentine's day I was pregnant, tired and uncomfortable. My husband told me he'd take care of dinner and when I got home he was hard at work cooking dinner for me. I was so thankful for the dinner. He chose the recipe, shopped for the ingredients, and cooked the whole thing all on his own. I got to relax my pregnant self. When we sat down for dinner we both fell in love with this pasta. It is creamy, spicy, and delicious.

We make it pretty much according to the website he found it on with a few exceptions. We leave out the mushrooms, and instead of using all heavy cream, we use half heavy cream and half half and half. Wow - that was a lot of halfs.

This pasta also reheats really well. Sometimes I think it's better the second day.

Cajun Chicken Pasta


1/2 pound linguine pasta
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
butter or olive oil
2 red bell pepper, sliced
2 green bell pepper, sliced
8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 green onion, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Place the chicken and the Cajun seasoning in a plastic bag. Shake to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chicken in butter or olive oil until almost tender (5 to 7 minutes).

Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms and green onion. Saute and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat.

Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Heat through. Add the cooked linguine, toss and heat through. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

For our little one's second 2nd birthday party - he had two parties, one for family and one for friends (we have a small house) - I wanted to make simple but delicious cupcakes. I saw these on Leslie's blog and thought they sounded perfect. They came together really easily. The cake part was good. Not super, duper knock you down delicious, but good. The frosting however... the frosting was amazing. I could have eaten the whole bowl with a spoon.
I thought I would include a blooper picture in this one. It is hard to photograph sweets when there's a toddler in the room.

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

From: Leslie Sarna

2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the cupcake pans with cupcake liners or grease cake pans (2 9x2 inch round or whatever shape you feel like) with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper or waxed paper. Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, or kitchen aid mixer bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and mix them into the flour mixture on low speed. The mix should be lumpy. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Mix on medium for another minute. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing in between each addition. Pour the batter into the cupcake pan or the two pans equally. Bake 15-20 minutes for cupcakes and about 30-35 minutes for the cakes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Carrot Cake

So our house has two birthdays back-to-back. Last week was my husband's birthday. He requested a carrot cake for his party. I had never made one before - and actually don't like them much - so again, I had to ask around on the cooking forums for the 'best' recipe. I kept finding the same one - from Cooks Illustrated. I figured I couldn't go wrong with it so I tried it out.

There were are few minor mishaps with the cake. I sliced my finger open on the grater when I tried to clean up. I was not feeling well, so my husband tried to help out by making the cream cheese frosting - well I walked in just in time to stop him from adding 2 1/2 cups of flour to the bowl (he was reading the cake recipe). Then last, but not least, I do not have a cake carrier so he offered to 'fashion a carrying device.' I said yes -please do! Well he made a wonderful creation of bowl, plate and a lot of tape. It even had a handle. The handle however could not stand up to the weight of the cake. It broke as we were walking in the door to the party and the cake landed on its side and rolled over. This is the finished product after re-frosting it. Sad, but delicious.

If you are looking for a basic carrot cake recipe this one was perfect. Dense, moist and the icing was just right. I will definitely make it again!

I made a few changes/adjustments to the original recipe.
-The recipe as I found it was for cupcakes, but I used two 8 inch square pans and baked them for 40 minutes.
-I did not have enough oil, so I only used a little over 1 cup of oil instead of 1 1/2 cups and it turned out just fine.
-I doubled the frosting recipe and had a little left over.
-I left out the cloves because I don't like cloves.

Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
From: Cooks Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp table salt
1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil

8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan(s) with nonstick baking spray with flour.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.

Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.

Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
Mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Bread and Butter

I wanted to make a fresh loaf of bread to go with my homemade butter, but didn't want to wait for it to rise overnight. I asked around on a cooking message board and Bridget from The Way the Cookie Crumbles recommended this recipe. Boy am I glad I asked. This recipe was easy to follow and from start to finish it took about 5 hours, which was much better than the 2 day recipes I was finding. The result was an awesome, crusty white bread. I think I baked it a little too long, but it was still very good. Also, I did not use a stone, I just baked it on a cookie sheet.

Bread and butter anyone?

Pain Ordinaire
(adapted from Ultimate Bread, by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno)

3½ cups (17½ ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1⅓ cup water, room temperature
1½ teaspoon salt

Stir the yeast into 1¾ cup (8¾ ounces) of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all of the water, stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture becomes frothy, loose, and slightly expanded.

Add the remaining flour and the salt to the mixture. Stir (or mix on medium-low speed with the hook attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball.

Lightly dust the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine), adding flour, if needed, to make a dough that is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. Press to deflate, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Gently pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creasing surface tension on the outer edge. Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over. Press evenly with the palms of both hands and roll the dough backward and forward until it is 14 inches in length. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Place the loaf on the pan and lightly dust with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until the loaves have grown to about twice their original size.

About half an hour into the second rise, place a baking stone* on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Using a very sharp knife or a serrated bread knife, cut 5 diagonal slashes, each about ¼ to ½-inch deep, across the top of the loaf. (Alternatively, cut one long slash that extends for the length of the loaf.)

Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a peel or the back of a sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the baking stone. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until golden brown and the temperature is at least 200 degrees** at the center.

Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

*If you don’t have a baking stone, simply bake the loaf on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.

**If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, tap the bottom of the hot baked loaf. It should sound hollow when the bread is done baking.

Homemade Butter

So I saw this on Leslie's blog and thought - hey, why not!? It sounded like something fun and different. I had a little less than a pint of heavy whipping cream that I had no plans for, so I got to shaking. I made it during the USA vs Canada gold medal game which was perfect timing because that was a nerve wracking game!
Making butter really is easy and would be a fun project to do with kids. Just make sure you have an airtight container!
So go get some heavy cream, and get to shaking!

Homemade Butter
Heavy cream at room temperature
Big pinch of salt if desired

Pour heavy cream into an airtight container and shake, shake, shake!
After about 10 minutes of shaking, you will have whipped cream.
It takes about 20 minutes of shaking for the butter to form. Once the solids pull away from the liquid, strain through a cheesecloth or mesh strainer.

Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Birthday Cake

I made a separate cake for the adults at our son's birthday party last week. I searched around for a simple, delicious cake recipe and kept coming back to Dorie's Perfect Party Cake. Dorie Greenspan is well known for her amazing baking.

My next feat, was to find a frosting that would compliment the cake, and not include raw eggs since I'm allergic to them. I found a blog where she made Dorie's cake with a raspberry buttercream and was sold.

I don't have a great picture of it because it was gone so fast, but let me tell you it was delicious. I am still not a great decorator, so it wasn't much to look at, but the taste made up for it. The only change I made to the recipe below is I was out of lemon extract, so I added an extra tsp of lemon zest.

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake
From: Apple a Day

2¼ c. (9 oz.) cake flour
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¼ c. whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1½ c. (10½ oz.) sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 TBSP or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. pure lemon extract

20 TBSP (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
1 TBSP raspberry liquor or 1 1/2 tsp. raspberry extract
2 TBSP heavy cream gel food coloring, if desired

Raspberry preserves

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.

Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.

Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Add confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until the mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.

Scrape bowl, add liquor or extract, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about ten seconds. If using gel food color, add at this time.

Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about four minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Place strips of wax paper on a cake stand forming a square the size of the round cake. Place bottom cake on way papers. With a serrated knife, shave off top layer of cake so that it is flat. Spread about 2/3 of a cup of preserves on top. Place second layer of cake on top of the preserves. Frost with room temperature butter cream. Remove wax paper before serving.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cheeseburger Soup

Cheeseburger soup? Really? What's that?

My husband and I are addicted to Diners Drive-ins and Dives on Foodnetwork. Late last night we watched an episode where the diner made a cheeseburger soup. Husband says "You have to make that." And my wheels started turning. The recipe they gave was fairly vague and used a few ingredients not readily available. I was at the store this morning, and grabbed the few ingredients I didn't have on hand and started my experiment today during nap time.

Some how, some way - I made a (at least in my opinion) pretty good cheeseburger soup on my first try! It's super thick, very tasty, and simple. I wanted to make it a one-pot meal, with normal, everyday ingredients.

This is a good starter recipe for creative cooks. You could add so many different ingredients or cheeses. I think this is something I will make often, with different ingredients each time.

Cheeseburger Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/3 cup cooked bacon pieces
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef in large pot. Drain all but 2 tbsp of grease. Add diced onion and cook until onions are soft. Sprinkle a few table spoons of flour on the meat/onion mixture and stir. Add the flour until all grease is absorbed.

Add half and half, stock and can of diced tomatoes – do not strain tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add cheese, bacon and lettuce and stir until cheese is melted. Simmer for another 10 or so minutes.

Possible additions:
mustard, pepper cheese, bleu cheese, mushrooms, bbq sauce, etc

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I wanted to make something special and different for Valentine's day for my husband and I. I went back and forth between short ribs and beef bourgingon and finally decided on the short ribs. I am REAL glad I did. These were so flavorful, fall off the bone tender, and not nearly as difficult as beef bourgingon. It took 45-60 minutes of prep/cooking and then it was in the oven for 3 hours. Not too bad at all. Another Pioneer Woman recipe - I have yet to find one I don't like. I served it on a bed of PW's creamy mashed potatoes - which I'll post separately.

For this recipe, make sure you get a good cut of meat. You want the ribs to have some fat, but not too much. You can use chicken or beef stock, and white or red wine. I used chicken stock and red wine because that's what I had on hand. I also used bacon instead of pancetta, and forgot the shallots. woops! Still delicious!

With dinner we had a bottle of our favorite wine. It's been in our wine fridge for a few years waiting for the right meal/occasion. It's from Napa Valley - Conn Creek Anthology. Amazing!

Pictures are not that great on this one because we ate after dark.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

8 whole Beef Short Ribs
Kosher Salt & Pepper To Taste
¼ cups All-purpose Flour
6 pieces Pancetta, Diced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
3 whole Carrots, Diced
2 whole Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced
2 cups Red Or White Wine
2 cups Beef Or Chicken Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
2 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Rosemary

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)

Serve on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.

Strawberry Margarita Pie

We were invited to a friend's house for game night and a Mexican fiesta. I had this recipe bookmarked for summer, but decided a frozen pie would be just as good in the middle of a snow storm.

The recipe was easy to follow, and didn't take all that long. However... I used just about every piece of kitchen equipment I have. Food processor, mixer, zester, juicer, springform pan, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, etc. The mess was huge. But the dessert was amazing.

Strawberry Margarita Pie

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tbsp. tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
2 cups heavy cream

Fresh strawberries and lime slices or wedges

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, as well as the sides of the springform. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and toss with a fork until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the springform pan and evenly cover the sides and bottom of the pan with crumbs (use the bottom of a ramekin to even the bottom crust). Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the strawberries, sugar, condensed milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and lime zest in the bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add one third of the whipped cream to the puree and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Stir in the remaining cream.

Pour the filling into the crust, cover, and freeze until firm at least overnight. To remove the springform sides, wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the outside of the pan for 10-15 seconds. Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Before serving, garnish with fresh strawberries and lime slices as desired. To serve, slice with a hot, dry sharp knife, wiping the blade between slices.