Cocoa Meringue Cookies

We made Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream yesterday and it left us with 5 egg whites. Perfect number for make some meringue cookies.

If you want a smooth, uniform appearance, sift the cocoa. I don’t because I enjoy biting into tiny spots of intense chocolate.

Cocoa Meringue Cookies

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 220 degrees F. Place parchment paper on two large rimmed baking sheets.

Make sure the bowl and whisk are well cleaned and dry. Place egg whites, salt and cream of tarter in the bowl. Starting on low and slowing increasing the speed to high, mix well. Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar in 1/4 cup increments. Once the mixture is thick and shiny and stiff peaks have formed, fold in cocoa and vanilla.

Move mixture into a piping bag. I use a gallon plastic bag and cut off a little of one of the bottom corners. Pipe out drops or other shapes with the meringue mixture, twisting the bag as you go to keep pressure up.

Bake for one hour. Turn off oven but keep door closed and let cookies cool completely for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how humid it is. Peel the cookies off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container.

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Bacon Onion Cheeseburgers

Bacon is good on a burger but I’ve always wondered about putting bacon in the burger. There are a gazillion recipes out there – some say use cooked bacon crumbled in, other recommend cooking the bacon just a little, others just mix uncooked bacon in with the burger meat.

I didn’t want the burger crunchy nor did I want any bite of burger to have raw. I decided to do a quick par-cook of minced bacon so it could be well incorporated. You can definitely use more bacon – for three pounds of ground meat, I figured about a half of strip per burger as I didn’t want the bacon to overwhelm the burgerness of the meat, if that makes sense. I used thick cut bacon as I figured the thin stuff would be destroyed by the food processor. 

I also cooked the onions in the bacon fat to eliminate the taste of raw onion and up the bacon flavor. I ended up with almost caramelized onions that added a sweetness and depth to the final result.

Bacon Onion Cheeseburgers

3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck
8 strips thick bacon
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
grated cheddar cheese, to taste

In a food processor, pulse the bacon until it is well and truly pulped. Place in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. In the food processor, chop the quartered onions. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside to cool. Add the onions to the pan and sauté in the bacon grease until soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, place the meat, the bacon and the onions and the seasonings. Mix with your hands to combine. Divide and form into quarter pound patties. Makes 14 patties.

Create a two zone area on your grill, so you can move the burgers to the cool side in case of flare ups. Make a small indention in each burger with your finger before setting it on the grates to keep the burger from bulging while it cooks. Grill over direct heat for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers during cooking – you’ll lose those precious juices.

Sprinkle on the grated cheese for the last few moments of cooking and serve with toasted buns.

We had grilled zucchini from the garden with our burgers.

Creamy Red Potato Salad

Red skinned potatoes, when boiled come out creamy. That makes them ideal for potato salad. I like to mash the egg yolks with a fork before stirring into the sauce ingredients to push up the creaminess up even further. Make sure to salt the potato water and add the seasoned sauce to the still warm potatoes to ensure the deepest flavor.

Creamy Red Potato Salad

2 1/2 lbs red potatoes
3 eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine or cane vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped into pieces
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or one dill pickle, chopped fine)
2 green onions, chopped (or 1/4 sautéed finely chopped onion)

Wash potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks. Place them in a pot of lightly salted cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until fork tender. While potatoes boil, cook the eggs by placing in a saucepan of water and bringing to a boil. Let the eggs boil for 9 minutes. Put them in cold water to cool quickly.

When potatoes are done, drain and return to pot to dry a little in the residual heat. Peel eggs and pop out yolk. Chop egg whites and add to pot with the potatoes.

Mash the yolks with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, mayo, mustard, vinegar and seasonings and stir to combine. Pour over the still warm potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle the chopped celery, bacon and dill pickle over the potatoes and stir gently to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

German’s Sweet Chocolate Birthday Cake

For Michelle’s upcoming birthday, I made her a German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. I used the recipe for both of those off the box of Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. Because it is a sweet chocolate, I made a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting for the between layer. It also went on top of a recipe of German’s Sweet Chocolate cupcakes.

Baker's Original German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Pour melted chocolate and butter into a bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed of electric mixer after each addition until well blended. Add vanilla; mix well.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour; mix well. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups flour alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

Divide into buttered and floured 9-inch baking pan.

Bake cake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cupcakes take 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Frost between the layers with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Frost the top and sides with Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa to remove any lumps.

With an electric mix beat the cream cheese and butter. Add in the vanilla. Slowly add the cocoa-powdered sugar mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until combined.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 – 7 ounce package coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency.

Frost top and sides of cake.

 

Yummy Waffles

I love breakfast foods for dinner, especially when I’m having one of my favorite combos – fried chicken and waffles! This recipe makes six regular waffles or 4 Belgium style. We added toasted pecans to ours for an additional bump of flavor.

Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

Lightly beat the egg in another medium bowl. Add the sugar, butter, and shortening and mix well with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the milk, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture while beating. Mix only briefly. Leave the small lumps in the batter since over beating could produce waffles that are too tough.

 Rest the batter for 15 minutes (or overnight for even better batter).

Rub a light coating of vegetable oil on the waffle iron or use a non-stick oil spray. Preheat the waffle iron. If you put the batter away overnight, pull it out of the refrigerator to warm up a bit as the waffle iron is preheating. Gently fold in the chopped pecans.

Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter into the waffle iron and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the waffles are brown.

Serve with softened butter and maple or cane syrup. Can also be served with fried chicken.

Blackberry Bellinis

We are having fried chicken and waffles for dinner and decided we ought to kick the meal up a notch with a cocktail. Michelle has been out picking wild blackberries, so we decided to have blackberry bellinis.

This recipe makes 4 average drinks or 2 generous ones.

Blackberry Bellini

1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons honey
Champagne, moscato, prosecco or other sparkling wine

In a blender, puree blackberries, mint leaves and honey. Let sit in blender for 15 minutes. Pulse again and then pour in a sieve over a bowl. Use a spatula to press out the juice from the seeds and leaves. Discard pulp. Let the juice sit in a bowl for another 15 minutes. You should end up with about a 1/2 cup of delicious juice.

Put 2 tablespoons of juice in a glass and pour over your choice of sparkling wine. Pour only a little at first and let the bubbles calm down before slowly filling the glass.

Garnish with mint and toast!

Broccoli and Corn Casserole

I like broccoli casseroles. I like corn casseroles. So, why has it taken me so long to come up with a broccoli and corn casserole? This is a cheesy casserole that is a perfect way to eat your veggies.

Feel free to use other cheeses besides cheddar – I tossed in some Monterey Pepper Jack (upping it to nearly two cups cheese) as the grilled chicken we ate with the first version of the casserole because it had an adobo rub on it. The second (when I added the sour cream), just had cheddar as we ate ribs with it.

Thanks to my taste testers – Zach, Michelle, Charlotte, Thomas and Kathy.

Broccoli and Corn Casserole

1 stick butter, melted
1 box corn bread/muffin mix (I used Jiff)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups corn cut off the cob (or 2 cans whole kernel corn)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups frozen broccoli, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together 1 cup of the corn muffin mix with the melted butter and sour cream.

In a large bowl, mix together the corn, the egg, the seasonings and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir in broccoli. Stir in the buttered and and sour creamed corn muffin mix until well combined.

Pour into a buttered 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle top with remaining dry corn muffin mix and the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.