Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kentucky Hot Browns

What's better than a hot, open-faced turkey sandwich?
A hot, open-faced turkey sandwich smothered in a thick homemade white cheddar cheese sauce, that's what.

I'll admit, this recipe is a tad involved. But I promise you, the moment this molten cheese lava  hits your taste buds, you will no longer care about how much time you just spent in the kitchen.

The first time I tried Kentucky Hot Browns, I cursed the parental units for not raising us in the South (and then again when I recently discovered chocolate gravy with biscuits). Seriously, if you had the luxury of eating these while growing up, I envy you. Instead, being raised in good ol' Wyoming, I was afforded the opportunity of sampling Rocky Mountain Oysters countless times over my childhood. What a treat huh?

For those of you not familiar with Rocky Mountain Oysters, they are the farthest thing from seafood. HA!! Oh no my friends, they are the snipped, battered and deep-fried manhood of some very unlucky steers. Tasty.

But enough about nasty things, on to cheesy greatness!!

Obviously, I'm a cheese-with-every-meal kinda gal (hence my blog name ;) Virtually since I was evicted from the womb, I just can't get excited about a meal unless there is an appearance by my jiggly-thigh inducing friend, Mr. Queso.

Honestly, my mom was probably forced to resort to dipping my bottles into cheese dip before feedings.

But while the cheese sauce is the undeniable star in this dish, pairing it with juicy, roasted turkey breast; thick-sliced, buttery toast; and slab bacon puts it so over-the-top, it's in outer space.

Kentucky Hot Browns
(makes 8 sandwiches)

- 1 turkey breast (3 pound)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper, spices to taste

Cheese Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 and 1/2 cups whole milk
 - 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup bacon grease
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper, spices to taste (I used garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne)

- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- salt and garlic powder
- 8 super thick slices of white bread (texas toast is fine)
- 8 tablespoons butter

- 16 thick slices of bacon, cooked crispy style
- 1/2 cup parmesan
(optional) 1 ripe beefsteak tomato, sliced and charred slightly

First, rub the turkey breast down with the butter and season. Roast breast in a roasting pan at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast until the center is cooked through (1 and 1/2-2 hours). Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
1 hour after you get the breast into the oven, start making the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk the flour in and cook for 1 minute. Next, whisk the milk in and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly until the flour has cooked out, about 4 minutes (sauce will also thicken). Now whisk in the white cheddar and parmesan and cook until melted. Pour the hot bacon grease in and mix. Last, season with S and P, nutmeg, and spices to taste.
Now for the toast!! In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt together. Place each slice of bread face down into egg mixture, let sit for 5 seconds, flip and repeat. The bread should almost soak through with the egg mixture. Be careful not to make the slices soggy!! In a medium saute pan heat 2 tablespoons butter. Place 2 slices of the bread onto the pan and cook until golden brown and slightly crisp on both sides. Repeat with remaining bread. Keep adding 2 tablespoons of butter to pan for every 2 slices of bread.
Place browned bread slices onto a rimmed cookie sheet and broil in oven for 30 seconds to warm through. By now your turkey should be rested and ready to slice. Place 2-3 thick slices of turkey onto each slice of toast and 1 slice tomato (if using). Ladle the cheese sauce over the top of each slice, and sprinkle with parmesan. Cook under broiler until top is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven, top with 2 slices bacon and serve hot!!

(adapted from Bobby Flay himself)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Extreme Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with Homemade Chocolate Ganache

Peanut butter cheesecake batter + chopped mini Reese's + Reese's 'crust' + decadent dark chocolate ganache + my mouth = my idea of heaven.

These cheesecakes are the ones I baked in a mini muffin pan with the graham cracker crust before I nixed it.
All of the ones with the actual Reese's crusts were eaten before pictures could be taken, sorry!!

This is definitely one of the most indulgent dessert recipes I've ever made. I could feel myself getting more and more excited with every addition of PB love.
(Yes, I get excited over dessert. If you don't, then I apologize, because you have obviously been missing out)

The smell of this batter alone is enough to put you straight into a peanut butter induced coma.

BUT it would be a coma filled with PB and chocolate dreams.

I don't know about you, but if I was ever in a state of endless sleep I would definitely be down with some Reese's dancing around in my head the whole time.

This cheesecake was devoured by my face shortly following this picture.
The original recipe called for using a homemade graham cracker crust, which I did make and use for the first batch of cheesecakes. We just weren't impressed with it, it didn't have much of a flavor and thought it took away from the deliciousness that is contained within this batter. So I took a cue from some other cheesecake recipes I've been seeing recently and made the crust another Reese's peanut butter cup.

Don't judge me. I've already admitted to my gluttonous habits in the kitchen.

I guess you could whip up a regular cheesecake crust if you think my version is a little much. I, on the other hand ate 1/4 of the bag of mini Reese's before the oven was even pre-heated. So this recipe was right up my alley in terms of over-indulgence.

FYI, if you would like to be super efficient and place a water bath into the oven with the cheesecakes while they cook, be my guest. Personally, I'm way too lazy to and the cheesecakes aren't usually around long enough for anyone to notice that some of the tops are cracked. Besides, the chocolate ganache hides any blemishes anyway ;)

Extreme Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with Homemade Chocolate Ganache

- 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
- 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups peanut butter (creamy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3 eggs, room temp
- 20 mini Reese's (or 1/2 bag), chopped
- 1 bag Reese's peanut butter cups, regular sized

Chocolate Ganache
- 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons warm water


Line muffin pan with liners, place one regular sized Reese's (unwrapped) into the bottom of each liner and set aside. These will be your 'crust'. In a large bowl, beat the first 5 ingredients until smooth. Next, beat in the eggs one at a time until just blended. Mix chopped mini Reese's into batter. Fill muffin cups 3/4 way full, on top of Reese's crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until batter puffs up nicely. Cool completely. While cheesecakes are cooling, take the chocolate chips and heavy cream and very carefully melt in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add powdered sugar and mix. Next, add 1 tablespoon water at a time to mixture, until ganache is smooth and of 'drizzling consistency'. Drizzle over cooled cheesecakes, sit down and get ready for a PB EXPLOSION in your mouth.
You can thank me later ;)

(adapted from Quick Feet, Good Eats)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

No oil? No eggs? Greek yogurt? Oh my!!

These brownies were more like fudge than anything else. Sam and I devoured this entire pan in a couple of hours. I kept going back and cutting off  just one more piece... until the whole damn pan was gone.


It was a moment of weakness.

At least they're healthy...

It's been very recently that I've started experimenting with plain greek yogurt in recipes. I started out small with some homemade ranch dressing and was blown away. Next I replaced my usual gigantic dollop of sour cream with it on some bean burritos and honestly couldn't tell the difference!! Despite these successful ventures, I was still skeptical of the whole trend of using non-fat plain greek yogurt in place of traditional ingredients in baked goods. But after this recipe, I will never doubt the almighty power of greek yogurt again.

This recipe uses oats in place of flour which was something new for me as well, and I'm excited to experiment using them in a couple other brownie recipes because the texture was awesome!!

I added WAY more than 1 cup of peanut butter because.....
I'm a glutton.
And when I'm crying next week because my pants won't fit anymore, that will be my punishment.

Try to save some for your family...

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

- 1 cup peanut butter
- 6 oz. non-fat plain (or vanilla) greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
 - 1/2 cup old fashioned oats

Grease an 8x8 pan, set aside. Place all ingredients except peanut butter into a blender and blend until batter is smooth and the oats are ground up. Stop the blender a couple of times and scrape down the sides. Make sure the oats are ground up or else brownies will come out wrong. Pour batter into baking dish (batter will be thin). Place peanut butter into a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds. Drop peanut butter by spoonfuls onto batter, then swirl with a knife to make it marble-tastic. Bake at 350 degress for 25 minutes or just until edges of brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let brownies cool for 30 minutes, then stick those babies in the fridge and wait at least 2 hours to allow the fudginess to set in.

(original deliciousness by Sally's Baking Addiction)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pumpkin Cheddar Rosemary Muffins

It doesn't have to be fall to throw some pumpkin flavor into the kitchen...


When I first tried these muffins, I swear I didn't breath for at least 5 minutes. I was just stuffing my face with as many of these golden pumpkin nuggets of deliciousness as I could.

I've been  feeling especially orange squash-deprived as of late. It seems that every year around this time I'm in the same boat, lamenting my love for all things pumpkin and how the flavor that is so plentiful around Halloween has all but vanished from store shelves and Starbucks alike. I usually try and start up a "Bring Back The Pumpkin" campaign, bombarding my friends and family with every pumpkin recipe I can get my hands on, while they groan and tell me to give it up until the leaves start to fall again.

Lucky for them, there weren't any leftover to inconvenience them with ;)

Savory muffins have been one of those recent ventures I've gone on, and man am I glad I started with these. I've been on a rosemary kick the past couple of weeks so I decided to throw some in with the batter and the flavor was great!! I also cut my cheese up into tiny chunks instead of shredding it, so our muffins were scattered with little gooey cheese craters. Ah-may-zing. We thought the black pepper taste was a little overwhelming in the first batch, so we reduced it and added a bit more cayenne and thought they turned out better.

We loved  breaking these babies open while they were still warm and spreading them with sour cream. A smear of butter is great too of course ;)

Always remember with this and any muffin batter, to stir until *just* combined. Over-mixing muffin batter will result in your muffins deflating. Lumpy batter = delicious and puffy muffins.

Pumpkin Cheddar Rosemary Muffins

- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
- 2 cups flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper

- 2 tablespoons crushed rosemary
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Line a 12 count muffin pan with liners, set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin and sour cream. Add eggs and butter until combined. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, rosemary and brown sugar. Add pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture until *just* combined. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups cheese. Divide batter among muffin tins and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

(adapted from Take A Megabite)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caramel Bailey's Pound Cake

In the spirit of St. Patty's Day (a day late, I'm a procrastinator like that, sorry ;) here's a good ol' irish cream dessert for you to try out. 

I was perusing Pinterest yesterday trying to find a tasty dessert recipe that fit in with the green day theme, as we were having corned beef and cabbage with homemade irish soda bread for dinner. This one caught my eye because it was:
1. Simple.
2. Used regular pantry items (plus the Bailey's).
3. Didn't involve chocolate. I was OD'd on chocolate. You might be saying impossible, but I ended up consuming the better part of a Lazy Day Cake Bake earlier on in the day and I'm pretty sure one whole bag of chocolate chips should be my limit for any given 8 hour period.

The original recipe called for a whole cup of Bailey's, but of course I only had 2/3 cup left, so I subbed whole milk and a bit more sugar for the rest. And I'm glad I did. The Bailey's flavor was good and simple, but strong, so it needed something more to round out the booziness. Next time I make this I will definitely be engineering some sort of chocolate ganache or caramel glaze for the top :) My mom thought strawberries would be yummy on top, so that's a possibility too.

Caramel Bailey's Pound Cake

- 1 cup butter (2 sticks,softened)
- 1 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs (whisked)
- 2/3 cup Caramel Bailey's Irish Cream (or your choice of flavor)
- 1/3 cup whole milk 
- 2 and 1/4 cups flour
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Grease and lightly flour bundt pan. In medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and salt together. Add whisked eggs and Bailey's to batter, mix well. In separate bowl, stir flour and baking powder together. Add flour mixture to butter mixture slowly. Beat until batter is silky, silky, silky. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

(Slightly adapted from Mom Foodie)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lazy Day Cake Bake

Say what you will of boxed cake mix, there are times you need some chocolate chip action in your kitchen but you just spent the afternoon in there whipping up some sort of culinary breakthrough for dinner and dragging out the hand mixer is not looking too appealing.

With only 4 ingredients and 1 bowl to clean, this cake bake totally fits the minimal effort bill.

It literally takes 5 minutes to throw together ............. and just as long to eat the entire pan ;) I make sure to always keep a couple boxes of the yellow cake mix on hand, mainly for this recipe!! This is a cross between a deep dish cookie and a brownie, so if you aren't a 'cake person', don't be deterred!!

Another thing I am in love with this recipe about, it's soooo versatile. If nuts are your thing, try adding 1/2 cup chopped walnuts into the batter. I think some caramel bits would be delish too. My favorite variation of ingredients for this is 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 1 cup butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup coconut (Sam would rather I leave out the coconut, but I think it adds a great texture).

Lazy Day Cake Bake

- 1 box yellow cake mix
-5 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 2 cups chocolate chips (pb chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, etc.)
- 2 eggs (beaten)

Grease a 7x11 pan. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spread mixture evenly into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
Tip: Make sure and wet your hands slightly before pressing the mix down into the pan, it's super sticky!!

(original deliciousness from I'm A Lazy Mom)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I apologize in advance for turning you on to this. It has a way of invading your dreams with its deliciousness. You will never be the same. Your friends and family will soon begin to harass you to reproduce it again and again.

It had that affect on me anyway.

Just the smell of this baking is enough to hold the spousal unit at attention outside the oven for 25 minutes . He's a sucker for cinnamon :)

The first time I made this, we MIGHT have gotten 3rd degree burns on the roof of our mouths from scarfing down a piece before the top was even done bubbling. It's seriously THAT good. It's definitely one of those situations where self control flies out the window. So if your new year's diet resolution is still holding true, ignore this post at all costs.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

-2 packages cream cheese (softened)
-2 tubes crescent rolls
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 cup melted butter
-cinnamon sugar (any ratio you choose. Ours is heavy on the cinnamon)

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Unroll one tube of crescent rolls over the bottom of the dish, pinch together seams. Inside a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Spread mixture evenly over crescent rolls. Unroll second tube of crescent rolls over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Pour melted butter over the top and spread to cover the entire surface. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar to your heart's desire. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Attempt to let cool before slicing up and stuffing your face.

*I've seen a bunch of variations to this recipe online, adding jam on top of the cream cheese layer, adding lemon zest to the cream cheese, adding pie filling, etc. They all sound YUMMY but I just love this so much the way it is that I haven't ventured off from the recipe. If you try something and have luck with it, I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below!!