Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon Hot Fudge Sauce

Okay. So these are not Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They're green seedless grapes from Walmart. But there is Cabernet Sauvignon in the hot fudge sauce---and it's delicious. There's a local winery here that sells it and I've been trying to duplicate the recipe. Finally, after 3 failed experiments and an extra 10 pounds around my midsection, I have found the PERFECT wine infused hot fudge sauce. Once it has cooled in the fridge, it is creamy and thick and fudgy and unless you hide it on the top shelf behind that old jar of apricot preserves, your 4 year old son will find it and eat half of it while you are on the computer. Really. I know from experience.
Cabernet Sauvignon Hot Fudge Sauce (adapted from the Boulevard Cookbook).
1 stick butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark cocoa)
4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (I used the 3.53 oz Dove 63% cacao bar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan over medium/low heat, combine the butter, wine, corn syrup and sugar. When the butter has melted, stir in the cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate, vanilla and salt, and whisk to combine. Pour into a heatproof glass storage container or bowl. Chill until ready to use. Can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ham And Shells Casserole

I know, this isn't the greatest picture in the world, but it tastes better than it looks. I have the worst luck photographing pasta--I just can't seem to make it look appetizing. But it is. Trust me. The carmelized onions, the rosemary, and the smokiness of the ham give this dish a lot of flavor. You want to know another reason why I like this dish? Because it's a casserole and casseroles can feed a lot of people. And it usually can be made ahead. That's why. Perfect for Easter coming up.

Ham and Shells Casserole (from Taste of Home magazine)

1 pkg (16 oz) medium pasta shells
3 large onions, halved and sliced (I used 2)
1 TBS olive oil
1 pkg (9 oz) fresh spinach, torn (I used a pkg of baby spinach)
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp pepper
3 1/2 cups milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled goat cheese (I used feta)
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to pkg directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onions in oil for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Add spinach and rosemary; cook 1-2 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in ricotta and goat cheeses until blended.

Drain pasta; place in a large bowl. Add the ham, onion mixture and sauce; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with Parm. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

And for the 2 people who's made it this far, what are you serving for Easter dinner!?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Tim Tam Slam

Okay, Australia, you've got your cuddly koalas, your magnificent Great Barrier Reef, and your rugged outback--must you keep all the Tim Tams for yourself? You must? Well, I don't blame you. But can you at least convince Pepperidge Farm to continue producing these cookies in the states forever and ever? Right now, for a limited time only, they can only be found at Target. But you don't understand, Australia, I NEED these cookies in my life! More specifically, I need the Tim Tam Slam!

For my Tim Tamless fellow Americans, I will attempt to explain this heavenly experience. First, head to Target and buy a package or 12 of Tim Tams.

Some folks say it's better to refrigerate them for awhile but I couldn't wait.Prepare a hot beverage--I used green tea.

Then, bite off two opposing corners and use it like a straw to suck up the tea, and then, when you feel the hot tea on your tongue, promptly pop the cookie into your mouth, and then....
...well, this is where I lost the use of my mental faculties and didn't get any after pictures so let me just say...nothing. Because there are no words. It's indescribable--you'll just have to try it yourself. The hot tea melts the inside of the cookie and when you pop it in your mouth the whole thing just collapses into a chocolatey mess. It's a divine experience. And it's too bad that the nearest Target is over an hour away but I guess it beats going all the way to Australia.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Homemade Brownies

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I admitted that I once kept a framed print of Emily Dickinson on my desk? Well, I also used to have a key chain that displayed a baby picture of Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird. I had cut out the picture from a Sports Illustrated magazine. I had issues. Big issues.

I was just following in the footsteps of my Granny B and her love for the Celtics, although I am positive she never carried around pictures of celebrities or sports figures from when they were babies. She's much more stable than I am. She's also a better baker than I am. Every Sunday, she fixes a big dinner and she always makes dessert. One of my favorites is her homemade brownies.

Brownies (original recipe from the 1970 edition of The Home Economics Teachers Cookbook)

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3 TBS cocoa
6 TBS cream (my grandma uses evaporated milk)
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs; beat. Add remaining ingredients except nuts and beat thoroughly. Fold in nuts. Pour into square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.