Saturday, May 25, 2013
Hubby and I went to a friend's house for dinner last night. It's fairly customary with our friends that we usually bring dessert since I have a "thing" for baking and all things sweet. And last night was no different. Except there was no time for baking. I had about an hour at home, after stopping by the grocery store, before we had to leave for dinner. I kept thinking I could quick whip up a batch of cookies. But cookies just weren't doing it for me.
It hit me on the way to the grocery store.
Perfect! Why didn't I think of it sooner?
Years ago Hubby and I went to a dinner party. A fancy, catered, dinner party that my boss at the time hosted at her home. The spread was impressive and delicious. Though I don't recall most of what was served, one thing stood out. A wonderful, creamy, cheesecake like dip in the midst of a tray of the most beautiful ripe plump strawberries. What a heavenly little bite. I had never had anything like it. I couldn't get enough and must have eaten at least a dozen.
So simple yet so memorable.
I have made a few variations of this dip over the years. The original recipe had sour cream in it, however I used Greek yogurt last night and this new version will be my go to recipe from now on. The dip has body but is light enough to easily dip into. It comes together in minutes and couldn't be easier to make.
It's a blank canvas for whatever cheesecake combination you can dream up. Fruit, such as a strawberries, green apples, nectarines, pineapples and grapes are all great choices. Chocolate wafer cookies, shortbread cookies or graham crackers also pair nicely. And if you want to go salty, try dipping in pretzels and topping them with a slice of fruit.
Though I haven't done this yet, I had the idea of placing a small bowl of graham crackers crumbs on the serving platter along with the fruit and cheesecake dip. Plunge your fruit in the cheesecake dip then swipe it through the graham cracker crumbs for the total cheesecake experience. Definitely trying that next time.
If you are heading to a Memorial Day BBQ this weekend cheesecake fruit dip is an easy crowd pleasing dessert. I'm quite certain you wouldn't come home with any leftovers.
Cheesecake Fruit Dip
from The Ginger Snap Girl
8 ounce package of cream cheese
6 ounces plain non fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a deep medium sized bowl. Using a hand mixer, starting on low and increasing to medium high speed, blend until fully combined and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Can be made two days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Serve with fresh fruit, cookies, graham crackers or whatever your heart desires!
Monday, May 20, 2013
I had high hopes of posting before now. Really, I did. I have a fun tea party post that I'm determined to share with you all before we hit fall! And maybe even before summer officially arrives.
A whole month has passed since my last post. And here we are again...It's Secret Recipe Club time! Thank goodness for SRC because without it who knows how long would pass between posts.
This month I had the pleasure of being assigned the fun blog It's Yummy for My Tummy! Mmmm. That's a concept I can totally get behind. The name comes from her daughter who often says, "Mommy, it's yummy to my tummy!" Awww! Heather's blog is all about sharing recipes with her friends and family and of course, all of us! I found a number of yummy eats that I put on my possibility list. For those of you who know me, you know my tummy very often guides me to the sweet side, but this time I kept coming back to these savory cheesy biscuits.
This recipe is really easy to make. 15 minutes and you will have biscuits in the oven. And if you are feeling indulgent you can whip up some green onion bacon butter while your biscuits are baking. The biscuits are delicious and tender with a bit of crunch on the top from the cheese. They are fantastic on their own, but a little green onion bacon butter really takes them over the top.
I paired my biscuits with a creamy tomato basil bisque (sorry, no recipe for that...it's from Campbell's latest soup creations). The parmesan cheese complemented the tomato soup perfectly. I had to restrain myself from eating more than one. I see a repeat of my soup and a cheese bomb biscuit for lunch tomorrow!
Fabio's Cheese Bomb Biscuits and Onion Bacon Butter
Adapted from It's Yummy to My Tummy originally from Fabio Viviani
For the biscuits:
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top of biscuits
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) shortening
1 1/4 cups half and half (or heavy cream--I used all heavy cream), plus extra for brushing tops of biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cheese and stir until ingredients are well mixed. Cut in shortening using a hand pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in half and half and stir until just combined.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat until 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a 2 inch floured cutter, cut out each biscuit and place it about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Or you can scoop out the biscuits with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Brush each biscuit with half and half (or heavy cream). Sprinkle the top of each biscuit lightly with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.
For the green onion bacon butter:
1 stick (1/2 cup) slightly softened unsalted butter
3 teaspoons sliced green onions
3 teaspoons of finely chopped bacon bits
Place all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend until well combined. If you don't have a food processor use a knife to finely chop the green onions and bacon to desired size and stir into butter.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Guess what time it is? Secret Recipe Club time! A Secret Santa of sorts for food bloggers. Each month everyone is assigned a blog....and, shhhh....it's a secret. You spend the month
This month I was assigned Carrie's Sweet Life. Carrie does indeed have a sweet life, with 2 beautiful little girls and a hubby and little dog named Peanut. I enjoyed browsing through Carrie's Sweet Life and pinned a number of recipes to try. Ultimately I went with something sweet. Had to be done, right?
Carrie's M&M Blondies lured me in. Like a chocolate chip cookie wrapped up into a chewy bar with M&M's and a gorgeous crackled golden top. Yep, it had to be done.
This recipe is easy and comes together quickly...only 2 bowls required and no mixer needed. Gotta love that.
So how do they taste? Delish! The blondies have a wonderful caramel flavor due to a combination of light and dark brown sugar (no white sugar here). The texture is indeed chewy on the inside and I love the slight crunch from that crackly top. Oh, and I couldn't resist amping up the chocolate factor...so in addition to the cup of M&M's...I also threw in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. This recipe is versatile so you could add in whatever mixins you were in the mood for.
M&M and Chocolate Chip Blondies
adapted from Carrie's Sweet Life
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
3/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup M&M's
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x9 inch pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 pieces of parchment to lay in the pan to form a sling (allowing for easy removal of the blondie after baking). Lay in the first piece of parchment and spray with cooking spray. Lay in the second piece on the opposite side and spray again.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl whisk melted butter with light and dark brown sugars until fully combined. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture in 2 parts to the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the M&M's and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Note: I baked mine in an 8x8 pan and increased the baking time 10-15 minutes.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Today marks 3 years of blogging. Wow! How did that happen? I'm really not so sure. The Ginger Snap Girl started with a post called Mysterious Meringues on March 26, 2010. That title makes me laugh a little, by the way. I uploaded my first post with a less than flattering picture of vanilla and chocolate meringues and no recipe. It didn't even have a link to a recipe. Which I'm fairly certain is because at that point I couldn't figure out how to link to another website. In fact it's a wonder I got the picture in there.
I started this blog based on a spark that was ignited when I discovered a whole world of delicious, enticing, inspiring food blogs that I didn't even know existed. I've said this before, but I honestly felt like I was a kid in a candy store. Obviously this girl loves candy since I'm still going 3 years later. Trying to contribute a little something to the food blogging world and continually being motivated and inspired by a number of talented bloggers sharing stories, recipes, drool-worthy photos and a little piece of their lives.
I will say that I'm a really good project starter, however, often not a project finisher. So the fact this endeavor is still very much in flight, is pretty cool. As I reflected back over the past year I remembered that I actually set a few blogging goals last year at this time. In cyber print. For you all to see and for me to be accountable for. Let's see how I fared.
1. The Ginger Snap Girl has moved to her own domain name (already purchased...just need to make the leap) - Still own the name, didn't make the move.
2. GSG has gotten a little makeover (nothing drastic like a face lift...but maybe a little boxtox here and there) - No signs of any face lifting just yet.
3. I've challenged myself to be a better photographer and storyteller - Definitely made some progress in the photography department. I have a better handle on how to actually use my camera's manual settings as well as learned some new editing techniques in Light Room. Still work to do though. No progress on the storytelling aspect.
4. I've lost 5 pounds and my skinny jeans fit again - Okay this really wasn't a "blog" goal. Or perhaps it was a subconscious one trying to tell me to post more healthy recipes and fewer dessert recipes. This goal has not be achieved in the conscious or subconscious world.
5. I'm developing more and more of my own recipes - Very minimal progress here. I had 6 original recipes of the 56 I posted in the last year. Lots more work to do here!
I'm kinda of bummed that I didn't reach all my goals. I mean I just got through telling you how I start projects and don't always finish them and here I am not finishing stuff. But guess what? This blog is a work in progress and apparently so are certain goals.
So here's to the next year and achieving the previous goals as well as developing some new ones.
Thanks for sticking with me on this blog journey!
I'm sure you want to get to the really important stuff now--the cake!
I'm a firm believer that birthdays (and anniversaries) should be commemorated with cake. I saw this recipe posted recently on one of my most favorite blogs, Tracey's Culinary Adventures. I knew it had to be made. I've actually never made a bundt cake (I don't count the baby bundts I posted recently...those are more like little donuts). I have 2 bundt pans...a full size and smaller one about half the size of a normal pan. It was finally time to break one of them in. I went with the half size bundt since Hubs and I couldn't possibly eat a full one on our own.
I love how pretty a bundt cake looks.
The cake is nice. It's mildly perfumed with sunny Meyer lemons, moist from the buttermilk and finished with a sweet and zingy Meyer lemon glaze. Tracey describes the cake as being lighter than others she made, making it breakfast-worthy. I totally agree. The recipe originates from Cooking Light so it is indeed light. And I can confirm it makes a great breakfast. Especially when you throw in a few berries. ;)
The cake was best on the first day. On the second and third days it was a tad on the dry side, however a 15 second turn in the microwave brought it right back to life. Plus, who doesn't love warm cake?
Glazed Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake
from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Cooking Light
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick)
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray with flour.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add sugar and lemon zest. Using your hands, mix the sugar and zest until the zest becomes fragrant and even distributed through the sugar. Add the butter and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in lemon juice and lemon extract and mix. With mixer on low add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Alternate adding flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with the flour mixture until batter is just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and turn out the cake. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons low-fat buttermilk
3-4 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust lemon juice to achieve a thinner or thicker consistency depending on your preference. Pour glaze over the cooled cake.
Notes: I cut the recipe in half baked it in a 6 cup bundt pan. You can substitute regular lemon for Meyer lemons.
Monday, March 18, 2013
It's Secret Recipe Club time! This month I had the pleasure of delving into Tandy Sinclair's blog, Lavender and Lime. Tandy resides in South Africa and she is a foodie at heart. Her food inspiration started with her family and recipes and food memories from her grandmother and aunts. Tandy has been blogging since 2009, but her passion for food has been expressed in many other forums, including publishing her own cookbook (super cool!) and some of her recipes in a variety of magazines and publications. What I like most is Tandy's recipes have a simplicity about them that highlight the quality of ingredients. I spent quite a bit of time browsing Lavender and Lime and finally narrowed it down to these Almond Financiers. I have a weakness for sweets.
I have never made financiers before, but I'm so glad that I picked this recipe. In case you are wondering, a financier is a small, moist French cake, typically made with ground almonds, whipped egg whites and browned butter and are often baked in small rectangular shaped molds. I don't have rectangular molds so I baked mine in one of my completely underutilized pans--the mini bundt molds. Yeah for using it twice now! Or you can use a mini muffin tin.
This recipe yields a small portion so I wasn't overwhelmed with tons of mini cakes to try to get rid of--which is a good thing! It made 7 mini bundt cakes (the tops are 1 3/4 inch wide and the bottoms are just under 2 1/2 inches wide). It's the perfect size to satisfy your sweet craving. The exterior of the cake takes on a little bit of crunch which gives way to a soft moist interior. The cake itself is very sweet so I paired it with black tea. I think it would also be nice with a bittersweet chocolate ganache dripping down the sides to balance the sweetness. Next time I make this recipe I may cut the sugar back just a bit. Also, I mentioned above that browned butter is a traditional method for making these little cakes, however this particular recipe doesn't call for it. But feel free to brown your butter if that suits your fancy.
I really love how these tiny cakes came out--and they are pretty! One of these days I'm going to host a tea party and I'm tucking this recipe away for just that occasion. Definitely a keeper. Thanks Tandy!
from Lavender and Lime originally from Larousse Gastronomique
25 grams flour
25 grams finely ground almonds (or almond flour)
85 grams vanilla sugar (I used regular sugar and added 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in with melted butter)
2 egg whites
2 pinches salt
37 grams butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray half of the wells in a mini muffin tin or mini bundt pan with cooking spray.
Combine flour, ground almonds, sugar and one pinch of salt into a medium bowl. Whip egg whites and the other pinch of salt using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed (about 6-8 minutes).
Gently fold egg whites into flour mixture. Quickly fold in butter until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your individual cakes, mine baked for 12 minutes).
Cool on wire rack. Remove from pan and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, drizzle of chocolate ganache or a dollop of jam.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Lemon sunshine in a jar.
That's what this is. And let me tell you, sunshine tastes good!!
I have been hearing the praises of these sunny lemons from the food blogging community for a while now. This is the first year I've sought them out and worked with this gorgeous cousin of the standard lemon. If you haven't encountered a meyer lemon yet, it is slightly smaller than a regular lemon, has a brighter deeper yellow tone (almost an orange yellow glow), a thinner skin and a sweeter tang. Meyer lemons have been described as sunshine, and now that I've had a taste, I completely agree! This is what sunshine would taste like if sunshine was a food.
I bought a bounty of meyer lemons at Costco and went to town. Meyer lemon curd was my first project. I have made lemon curd before but this time I wanted to can my curd. Wow, that sounds wrong. Anyway, I found a recipe over at Food In Jars and it's a keeper. Curd is made with eggs and butter lending to a creamy texture which pairs nicely with the bright lemony tang from the meyers. Think lemon meringue pie filling. Though the lemon curd can be preserved, Marisa recommends consuming it within two months of canning because the consistency degrades after that time (the curd is still safe to eat beyond that). Guess what that means? I have a second jar in the cupboard that I need to get busy with. Again, wrong. Sorry!
This recipe yields a small amount--two half pint jars. I doubled it and shared a jar with my best friend and a jar with my parents, hoarding the other two jars of sunshine for myself and Hubs. We devoured the first jar in no time. And when I say "we" I mean 90% me, 10% Hubby.
Wondering what you can do with lemon curd? Spread it on toast, top ice cream with it, slather it on a cookie, fill a mini tart shell, garnish cheesecake, or just eat it straight out of the jar (I may or may not have done that). So delicious!
I have to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my best friend Crystal for providing the inspiration for the styling of these photos. She treated to me to an awesome tea party inspired birthday gift recently, including those pretty little tea cookies that she made from scratch (cinnamon raisin tea cookies, rose petal shortbread and rosemary cookies) and the beautiful floral table linen pictured above. And that was just the beginning. She also bestowed me with two antique bone china tea cups and saucers that I just love, two types of tea, including a French tea called Mariage that is really amazing and is officially my new favorite tea, a really cool vintage tin with a Currier & Ives floral print on the lid and filled with all those yummy cookies and a cookbook called Tea and Crumpets. I'm all set for a tea party for two! Who wants to join me? I might even break out my last jar of meyer lemon curd!
Meyer Lemon Curd
from Food in Jars originally adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook
Yields 2 half pint jars
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (you should get a generous 1/2 cup of juice)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) cut in 1 inch pieces
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium and stir in lemon juice using a wooden spoon (you don't want to aerate the curd). Stir continuously for 10-15 adjusting heat as necessary so the curd does not boil. The curd should thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon (it should still be pourable). Stir in butter until melted.
Strain the curd using a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl (to remove any cooked bits of egg). Stir in lemon zest. Ladle curd into prepared sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. If canning, process the jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner. Start the time when the water comes to a full rolling boil.
Notes: Marisa points out that So Easy to Preserve recommends processing only in half pint jars or smaller to allow for proper heat infiltration. Recipe can easily be doubled. If not canning, refrigerate curd. Consume within 2 months of making (whether canning or refrigerating).
Monday, February 18, 2013
Tomatillos are a funny little fruit. They look like green tomatoes but come wrapped in a papery husk. Though they look like tomatoes, they have a very tangy taste. I guess I would describe the taste and texture as a hybrid of a tomato and a lime--heavy on the lime in terms of flavor and a lot like a tomato in terms of texture. Tomatillos are the basis of many green salsas. I find these days I am reaching for green salsa over traditional tomato based salsas. When I came across this Houston style green salsa I knew I had to try it.
I discovered this green salsa through Secret Recipe Club. This month I was connected with Karen's blog, Cinnamon Freud. Isn't that a cool name for a blog? Even more so because Karen is a "counseling psychology doctoral student who loves food, cooking, and baking." Her blog was new to me and it was such a treat to browse all her delicious looking recipes. Karen has a nice mix of sweet and savory offerings. And for once in my life, I gravitated to the savory recipes. Once I saw the green salsa, my recipe for this month was a done deal.
Hubby and I enjoyed this delicious salsa during Super Bowl, alongside homemade tortilla chips and carne asada. I've never been to Houston so I don't know what their green salsa tastes like. But according to Karen this is reminiscent of a salsa she ate many times at her favorite local restaurant. I loved it. It's got tang from the tomatillos and lime juice and a lush creaminess from the avocados. An awesome flavor combination. I topped it with a little cotija cheese to bring a little saltiness to the mix. All in all it was a hit!
Houston Style Green Salsa
adapted from Cinnamon Freud (originally adapted from Homesick Texan via Foodie Bride)
4 medium to large tomatillos
1/2 onion finely chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
3 small cloves garlic peeled and minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 small avocados, pits and skin removed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Cotija cheese for garnish (optional)
Bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil (large enough to hold the tomatillos). Remove husks from tomatillos and boil 5 minutes until softened. Drain and set aside. Once cooled chop into quarters.
In a small skillet heat olive oil and add onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Using a food processor or blender, blend tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice until smooth. Add avocado and cilantro and blend again until desired consistency is reached.
Serve with homemade chips and garnish with cotija cheese.