Easter Bunny Cocktails

This is not an April Fools joke but a delicious dessert cocktail. I have to be honest,  hollow, chocolate Easter bunnies might be the devil’s worst idea yet. What can make them palatable, however, is to rip their little bunny heads off and fill them with a creamy, nutty chocolate libation.

Easter Bunny Cocktail

1 ounce Praline pecan liqueur
1 ounce Creme de Cacao
1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream

Add ice to a mixer and add all three ingredients. Shake well to chill and then strain into hollow Easter bunnies. Sip or drink it like a shot. Munch the bunny head and eat the body when empty.

Cute lil bunny head in a glass!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning craving chocolate chip cookies. When I went into the kitchen I saw the jar of peanut butter that I hadn’t but back in the cabinet after a snack of peanut butter and crackers last night and decided to alter my plans to include some peanut butter.

Just adding peanut butter to an existing chocolate chip cookie recipe would make cookies without enough chocolate for my craving. However, adding melted chocolate would give me the hit I wanted needed. I also switched the semi-sweet chocolate for bittersweet. Feel free to change it back when making the recipe for yourself, if you don’t want such darkly chocolate cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, broken into bits
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounce package bittersweet morsels

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

Melt the bittersweet chocolate bar in the microwave or on top of a double boiler.

Mix together in a medium bowl the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in the peanut butter. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the bowl and then slowly add the flour mixture. Pour in the melted chocolate. Scrape down the bowl and then stir in the bittersweet chocolate chips.

Make 2 tablespoon balls of the mixture in your hands (if necessary, chill the dough for about 10 minutes first) and then place the balls on an ungreased baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake for 23 minutes or until set but still soft. Cool on cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to a wire rack and cooling completely.

Tacos de Carne de Cerdo

This weekend was the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. I had a great time, as I was on a couple of panels and even did a reading from my latest book, Bitter Heart. On one of the days that I knew I was going to be busy all day at the conference, I put a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with some spices and a bit of citrus juices for us to have meaty tacos for dinner and for me to have delicious leftovers.

I was joined for dinner by my fellow author, Mercedes Lewis, who read from her book of poetry (Glimpses of a Fractured Soul) at Saints and Sinners and also participated on a poetry panel.

Tacos de carne de cerdo

Dry Rub

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix dry rub together and store until ready to use in an airtight container.

Carne de Cerdo

5-8 lb pork shoulder, bone in preferred
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed

Cut off the large fat cap and any other spots of hard fat. Rub spice mixture on the meat. Heat a skillet and brown the meat on all sides.

Remove meat from the skillet and place on a bed of onions and garlic in a large crockpot. Pour the juice and stock into the skillet to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any fond on the bottom and then pour over the meat.

Cover and cook on low in the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours. Remove when the meat is falling off the bone. Let cool for 15 minutes before attempting to shred for tacos.

For the tacos, I had both hard corn taco shells and soft flour tortillas, guacamole, sliced red and green bell peppers, black beans, grated pepper jack cheese and salsa to go with the shredded meat. We built our tacos based on our own taste and ended up eating more than planned as everything tasted so good.

I will use the leftovers in quesadillas, burritos or even with a little BBQ sauce for a pulled pork sandwich.

Better Than Math Pie for Pi Day

This pie is a variation of the “Better Than Sex” pie (chocolate, peanut butter, more chocolate). In honor of Pi Day (3.14), I’m naming this one “Better Than Math.”

It is a multi-part recipe – make the dulce de leche first, followed by the ganache, then make the crust and the filling before assembling and cooling it down.

 

Better Than Math Pie

1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 pint heavy cream, divided
6 ounces Oreo cookies – about 25 cookies
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 – 10 ounce package bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Peel the label off the can of sweetened condensed milk. Place in a saucepan and put water in the pan to cover the can with 1 to 2 inches water. Bring water to a boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours (checking regularly to ensure that the water completely covers the can at all times). Turn the can over and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours. Remove can and let cool completely before opening. (You can also make this in a slow cooker – 8-10 hours on low).

Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture has emulsified.  Place the ganache in the refrigerator until it has cooled and thicken (no more than 2 hours).

Scrape off the cream filling from the Oreo. Place Oreo cookies sans cream filling into a food processor and pulse until it make crumbs. Pour in butter and pulse to combine. Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of a deep dish pie pan.

In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate chips. Add in the peanut butter and stir until combined. Add melted chocolate chips and peanut butter, cream cheese and 1 cup whipping cream together in a stand mixer. Beat until thick and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

Spread almost all of the ganache over the Oreo crust. Reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling on the top of pie.

Spoon chocolate peanut butter mixture into the pie crust over the ganache layer.

Drizzle half the can of sweetened condensed milk dulce de leche over the chocolate mixture. Reserve remainder for another use. Drizzle extra ganache over top.

Refrigerate overnight or place pie in freezer for at least 1 hour before serving.

Rosemary Baked Potato Chips

I needed a side dish for my hamburger and had a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes on the counter. In less than an hour I was able to make some delicious rosemary baked potato chips for dinner.

Consider using different seasonings – I also like using Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or Old Bay Seasoning instead of the salt, pepper and garlic.

Rosemary Baked Potato Chips

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Use a mandolin to slice the potatoes very thinly. Rinse off in cold water and then drain. Stir with a paper towel to separate the slices and to ensure they aren’t too damp for the next step.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and then add in the drained potatoes. Toss well, ensuring all the slices are coated with oil and seasonings. Add more olive oil, if necessary. Place on baking sheets in a single layer.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, switching and rotating sheets every ten minutes. Remove once the chips become crispy. If you didn’t cut them very thin, you might need to flip them over and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Once at desired doneness, transfer to a paper towel covered paper plate to cool slightly. Add more salt or sprinkle with parmesan cheese to kick them up a notch.

Makes enough for two hungry people or for four people with mere average appetites for potato chips.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Whelp, I seemed to have come down with the cold that has been running amok around here. It means that it is time for some food therapy. I really like the chicken soup I make with dumplings (see recipe HERE), so I started there when making it chicken noodle soup. I’m still into turmeric, so I added a little of that and the bonus is it makes the soup a beautiful color.

Before you say it, I know how easy it is to make egg noodles! I’m sick so cut me a little slack for going for frozen, especially when Reames makes it so easy to just toss ’em in the pot.

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
12 ounces egg noodles (I used Reames Frozen Egg Noodles)
Reserved chicken (about 3 cups of shredded chicken)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven, melt butter and heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery and garlic. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft, a couple of minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Sprinkle in the turmeric. Continue to stir and cook for 5 minutes to remove the starchy taste from the flour. Do not let the roux burn or turn dark brown, lower the heat as necessary. Toss in the bay leaves. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition to remove any lumps. Stir in salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a boil and then let simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, this takes around 30 minutes. Fold the reserved shredded chicken and the egg noodles into the sauce. Bring up to a boil and then turn down the heat. Let simmer gently for 30 more minutes.

Taste for seasoning and serve.

Marbled Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake

I’ve already posted the Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Michelle and I made using a John Besh recipe as our template. Besides wanting to make it truly our own, the big problem was that it just wasn’t blackberry enough. Michelle had the idea of making it more of a structured filling and we figured that double the blackberries meant double the flavor.

We were right! Intense fruit flavor balanced with creamy cheesecake. Major yum!

Michell made these in three 8×8 pans for easy freezing and transportation. To do so, she had to triple the graham cracker crust but the rest of the recipe is plenty of batter to fill them up.

Marbled Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 pounds cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon limoncello

3 cups blackberries, pureed
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
Juice from one lemon (zest lemon and put the zest in the cheesecake batter)
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Grease a 9 inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Press onto the bottom and part way up the sides of the pan. Bake it for 10 or 15 minutes before putting in the filling.

 

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in the sour cream, flour, lemon zest and limoncello until smooth. Divide the mixture between two bowls.

 

In a food processor or blender, puree blackberries with the lemon juice. Mix in sugar and flour. Pulse a few times before adding in egg and vanilla extract.

 

Pour half the cheesecake mixture into prepared pans. Then add the blackberry filling in dollops on top. Pour on remaining cheesecake batter.

 

Place in oven and bake for 2 hours, until the topping is set. Remove from the oven. Raise temperature to 350 and return pan to oven to bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

 

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.