Archive for December, 2009

Oreo Truffles

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

That Bakerella never steers me wrong. Cake Pops, Pound Cake…and now Oreo Truffles. These little bites of chocolate-covered oreo flavor are delicious, but also pretty easy to make. Much easier than cake pops, since you get to skip that whole stick and wrapping and ribbon part. Didn’t even have to wait for a cake to cool!

White Chocolate Covered Oreo Truffles
Adapted from Bakerella.com

  • One package of oreo cookies
  • One 14 ounce package of white chocolate bark
  • One 8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • Sprinkles or decorating crystals (optional)

1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachement, process oreos until a fine crumb is formed.

2. Add the cream cheese through the feeder tube in approximately two ounce chunks, while the machine continues to run. Once all of the cream cheese is combined, you should have a soft, gooey dough.

3. (I did this part wearing gloves) Shape the dough into balls with your hands, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. I got about 40 truffles out of one package of oreos. Let rest in the freezer for at least 15 minutes—this will help everything stay together when you dip them in chocolate.

4. Melt white chocolate bark or candy melts according to package directions. Place chocolate in a small bowl, and dip the oreo truffles in chocolate using a spoon. Carefully shake off the excess chocolate and place back on the parchment-lined sheet. You can  add sprinkles or decorating crystals now, while the chocolate is still wet, if you desire. Once all of the truffles are dipped and back on the baking sheet, place the sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for half an hour or so, to allow the chocolate to set. Enjoy!

Note: I used the white chocolate bark from the grocery store for these, but I think I would have prefered the Wilton’s candy melts that I normally use for cake pops. They melt better, and I’m just used to the consistency. The oreo dough balls didn’t hold up quite as well as cake pops in the chocolate, so my white chocolate was kind of cookies-&-cream flavored by the end. I poured it out on a parchment lined sheet, added some broken candy cane pieces, and made oreo-peppermint bark anyway! Didn’t get any complaints.

Recipes to Try

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

When I’m not blogging or cooking, I’m probably looking up recipes to cook and then blog about. It’s what I do. :) I’m not sure when I’ll get around to making the following treats, but here’s what’s tempting me lately:

There seems to be a theme here, and that theme is cheese.

Picky-Palate‘s Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese. Makes me crave Mac & Cheese just looking at it.

Pioneer Woman‘s Delicious Cheddar Puffs. What? I like cheese!

Smitten Kitchen‘s Parmesan Cream Crackers. I wasn’t kidding about that cheese thing. Described as “better, more delicious Cheez-Its.” Who could say no?

Peanut Butter Boy‘s Bacon Crusted Grilled Cheese. Bacon Salt on a grilled cheese? Not sure why I didn’t think of that on my own.

Finally, Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy‘s Cauliflower Gratin. It doesn’t SOUND amazing, but go check out those pictures. The second time in a week I’ve been tempted by cauliflower, and both times have been Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) recipes. I might have to be brave and try one or both of them soon.

Blueberry Breakfast Porridge

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I have been pleasantly surprised recently to learn that I actually like oatmeal. It started with a specific kind of McCann’s Instant Oatmeal, and has sort of grown from there to include a few different varieties. 6 months ago, I don’t think I would’ve ever tried this porridge recipe from my Weight Watchers 150 Comfort Foods cookbook.

Rather than just oats, this porridge uses bulgur and barley, which adds a chewy texture and more nutty flavor. It’s slightly chewier/bulkier than steel cut oats, for comparison. I added extra blueberries to the mix, for more flavor, and I’d have to say, the recipe would be a little bland without them.

Blueberry Breakfast Porridge
Adapted from the Weight Watchers 150 Comfort Foods cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • pinch of ground cinnamon

1. Put the mlk and salt in a small pan and bring just to a boil. Stir in the barley, bulgur, and oats. Reduce the heat to simmer, stirring frequently until the milk is completely absorbed and the grains are tender, but chewy. This takes about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, and stir in the blueberries. Spoon the porridge evenly into 2 bowls, sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and cinnamon, and serve.

Note: The recipe was very tasty when it was fresh. Unfortunately, I like to eat oatmeal at my desk at work–I was hoping this would reheat well, but it doesn’t really. The reheated version is much chewier than it was originally. Even though it didn’t take too long, I’m not one for cooking in the mornings. Unless I was going to be eating breakfast at home, I don’t know if I’d make this one again. For two servings, it works out to 6 points, but I broke it into 4 servings for 3 points each.

Chicken Cacciatore

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

For David’s birthday this year, we had quite a feast. Normally, we spend Wednesday nights watching Glee, (and by “we,” I mean my friends and I, not David. He’s not a fan.) which means that our dinners on Wednesdays are usually more of the quick-and-easy variety than other nights of the week.

Rather than the typical simple fare, I tried for something a little fancier. We sat at the table, for one. Opened a bottle of wine, and had this pasta dish and garlic bread. Finally, topped it all off with Coconut Cake, which you’ll be hearing more about tomorrow. All in all, I think David was happy with his birthday dinner. It did make me wish that we’d do that kind of thing more often.

Pasta was an easy choice when planning a dinner for David, but I wanted to try something new, AND pick something he’d especially like, which is how I ended up with Chicken Cacciatore. Veggies (mostly peppers and onions) and tomato sauce and pasta–I knew he would be a fan. The sauce was made with balsamic and red wine, both of which David loves. It was a natural choice.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breast halves)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 29 oz canned stewed tomatoes, Italian-style
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (Ours is the Little Italy NYC-Style, from the Spice House)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, snipped
  • 1 13.5 oz box whole wheat spaghetti

Directions:

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add olive oil and heat. Add chicken breasts and cook over medium heat until browned and juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Add onions, pepper and garlic to skillet. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over cooked pasta.

Note: I thought this was good, and I’m sure we’ll make it again. I did add a tiny bit of sugar at the end, to balance out some of the acidity in the sauce. David and I liked this because we really like balsamic, but if you aren’t a fan, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe. Also, I skipped the mushrooms for David, but I think they’d be very tasty in this dish.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25th, 2009

No real post today, just Christmas wishes to you and yours. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Busy with the holidays–and I hope you are too. Christmas is a time for good food and fun with family and friends. I’m looking forward to the next couple of days of parties and get-togethers.

But if you need something to keep you busy, I can’t recommend Cake Wrecks enough. (And if you need a last minute gift or two, I recommend the Cake Wrecks book also.  It’s just as much fun as the site!

Here’s a Christmas favorite from Cake Wrecks: “When Gangster’s Go ‘PC'”

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Christmastime is for Cookies again…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Last year I went kind of crazy with Christmas cookies, but between following Weight Watchers and how busy things have been, holiday baking just hasn’t been a priority. Which is not to say that I haven’t made some delicious treats.

As a repeat of last year, I made Alton Brown’s Paradise Coconut Macaroons. They turned out well again, and David’s still happily munching on them. The one hiccup was that as I went to make the cookies, I realized I was out of sweetened condensed milk. Luckily, I found a substitution recipe online that worked perfectly, using ingredients we already had on hand. Success! Check it out at the bottom of the page if you’re interested.

I also made peppermint bark again, and my friend Cara came over and made mock-turtles. Very tasty, very simple, and with her perfect football-shaped pretzels, very cute. You may hear more about that soon.

But the point of this post is the new recipe I tried this year: Shortbread. The most recent issue of Food Network Magazine had an awesome little pullout booklet of 50 cookie recipes. The gist of the pamplet is summed up here. What I liked about it is that you started with just a handful of classic, straightforward recipes, followed by several creative variations on the same recipe. I took the classic Shortbread recipe and doubled it, making one batch of Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread and one batch of Lemon Shortbread Squares. I tweaked the basic recipe to get the texture that I wanted, and was very happy with the instructions below. It’s for the Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread, but if you want plain shortbread, skip the chocolate dipping steps, and if you want it to have a little bit of bright, lemony flavor, add a little bit of fresh lemon zest with the flour mixture.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread

  • 2 sticks butter (preferably unsalted. If using salted butter, omit additional salt below)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradhelli)
  • flake sea salt

Beat 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Whisk 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir into the butter mixture. Press into a buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round tart pan. Score into strips with a fork, then chill 30 minutes. Bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees. Cool, then slice along the scored lines.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler. Dip cooled shortbread pieces in chocolate, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

  • 1 cup instant non-fat dry milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Makes the equivalent of one 14 ounce cane.

      Title: SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK SUBSITUTE
 Categories: Misc, Sauces
      Yield: 1 Servings

      1 c  Instant non-fat dry milk
    2/3 c  Sugar
    1/3 c  Boiling water
      3 tb Melted butter

  In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Store in
  refrigerator until ready to use. Makes the equivalent of one 14 oz.
  can.

Make a Whisk is One Year Old!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Believe it or not, I’ve been doing this for a whole year. Make A Whisk recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Or birthday. Or blogiversary. Whatever you want to call it–last December, snowed into my apartment, I decided to pull the trigger on this blog idea I had. My husband had done the behind the scenes work, and my co-workers had contributed a name. All I needed was some content. I headed to the kitchen to bake Christmas cookies, started taking pictures, and I was off!

For the longest time, I posted nearly every day. I haven’t been posing as often lately, but I’d like to get back into the daily posts now that work has slowed down some. I’ve got a whole slew of recipes I’m ready to share. In the meantime, though, here are some of my favorite posts from the past year. If you haven’t tried some of these recipes, you absolutely should. They’re fantastic.

From December: Coq Au Vin. It felt fancy to make, and was incredibly delicious. From my favorite cookbook of the past year, the Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics.

From January: Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese. Mac and Cheese is decadent by design,  but this recipe was extraordinarly rich and creamy. Adapted from the first Top Chef Cookbook. (I hope to get the sequel for Christmas this year!)

From February: For our Valentine’s Day meal, I recreated the dinner that David and I had a Wildfire the night we got engaged. New York Strip Steaks with a Blue Cheese Butter Crust. Yum!

From March: I first tried my hand at a little treat called Cake Pops! They were the first, but not the last.

From April: Fried Macaroni & Cheese. Because Mac & Cheese needs to be portable. And crunchy sea salt is awesome.

From May: Little Debbie Style Oatmeal Cream Pies. For my sister, Liza!

From June: Double-crusted Key Lime Pie. One of David’s all-time favorites.

From July: Pastitso (Greek Lasagna).

From August: Cream Cheese Pound Cake. (So good! Bakerella never lets me down!)

From September: Seasoned Oyster Crackers. Ridiculously easy to make, but tasty, and a reminder of a wonderful party to celebrate Paw-Paw.

From October: Camembert Stuffed Pork Burgers, for a contest in the Red Eye to meet Top Chef Stephanie Izard. Which lead to…

From November: Dinner Party with Stephanie Izard! Great food, great time. And when was the last time YOU watched Top Chef with a Top Chef?

* * *

So all in all, it’s been a great year. I’m excited to still be blogging, have had a lot of good times and good food. I’m looking forward to sharing more pictures, recipes, and stories in the coming year.

What was your favorite Make a Whisk post from the past year?

Potato & Chorizo Taquitos

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Taquitos are something that I’d never considered making or even as a real food until I saw this recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray. The only way I’d ever seen taquitos was in a box from the freezer. The recipe looked manageable enough, and I was excited to try it.

I’m glad I did. They were easier than you’d think to make, and delicious. So much more crispy and fresh-tasting than the kind that come from a box.  We had these for dinner, but they’d make an awesome appetizer. Just serve with some salsa and sour cream.

Potato and Chorizo Taquitos
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 1 baking potato, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 7 ounces Mexican chorizo (about 2 links), casings discarded
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons diced green chiles from a can
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 18 corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, add the potato and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up, until browned, about 3 minutes; mash into the potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet along with the onion, tomato, roasted pepper and chile; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir into the potato mixture along with the cheese and cilantro.
  3. Fill a large, deep skillet with enough oil to reach a depth of 3/4 inch and heat over medium-high heat. Microwave the tortillas in a sealed plastic bag for 25 seconds. Roll up 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in each tortilla. Add to the oil seam side down; repeat until the pan is full. Fry, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes; drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

“Pumpkin Pie” Pancakes

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

This recipe comes from the Weight Watchers Comfort Classics cookbook, just like those Ham & Cheese quiches. Can I say that this is my favorite Weight Watchers cookbook? Because it is. Normally, I’m not too impressed with Weight Watchers official recipes–they tend to be too bland for my tastes. But so far, we’ve tried the Pumpkin Pie Pancakes, the Mini-Quiches, the Macaroni & Cheese, the Oven-Fried Chicken with Sage Gravy, and the Tandoori Chicken, and all were very tasty.

But out of all of the ones we’ve tried these pancakes were my favorite so far.

These were good enough to order in a restaurant. In fact, there’s a pumpkin pancake that Leah and I love at our local brunch spot, the Bongo Room, and these rivaled those tasty cakes–for what I’m certain is a fraction of the points. The only thing missing is the Bongo Room’s amazing vanilla bean sauce. Next time I make these pancakes, I think I’d try to make something along those lines.

pumpkin pancakes

“Pumpkin Pie” Pancakes
Adapted from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics, Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin, butter, and egg in another bowl until blended. Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture, stirring just until blended.

2. Spray a large nonstick griddle with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzles on it, pour the batter onto the skillet by scant 1/4 cupfuls. Cook just until bubbles begin to appear at the edges of the pancakes, 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden, 2-3 minutes longer. Repeat with the remaining batter, making a total of 8 pancakes. Serve with the maple syrup.

Nutritional Info: (Serving = 2 pancakes with 1 tablespoon maple syrup) 222 Cal, 6 g Fat, 2 g Fiber. Points: 5