Thursday, June 24, 2010

Caesar Style Marinated Potato Salad

I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge potato salad fan. I have a recipe on here that I like fairly well, but I still don't choose potato salad on a whim. Unfortunately, it's easy, and cheap and perfect for summer, so I went looking for another potato salad variation and found this one. It's a completely different flavor than your traditional potato salad and I really liked it. It reminded me a lot of baked potato soup... only in salad form. Plus, it's super easy to put together. The dressing is where the "Caesar style" in the title comes from... but it's not a creamy caesar dressing. It's an oil based dressing with just enough tang. It can be eaten chilled or warm and I definitely prefer it warm. Next time you're looking for something a bit different and have some potatoes on hand, I'd highly recommend this salad. Even my boys ate it! It will definitely be making more appearances in our home.

A couple of tips: Choose the right kind of potatoes. Some potatoes are perfect for mashed potatoes... don't use those for this salad! If you do, they'll turn to mush when you go to stir all your salad ingredients together. If in doubt, use red potatoes... they always hold up well to potato salad. Also, when you cook your potatoes, cook them with salt. One of my biggest complaints with potato salad is that you end up with a flavorful dressing and bland potatoes. I boiled my potatoes for this and added a lot of salt to the water. It'll definitely add to the flavor of your salad.

Recipe Source: Pillsbury Super Salads and Vegetables
Serves: 8 Servings (1/2 cup each)

1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt

4 cups cubed, cooked potatoes
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped parsley or 1-2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
2 hard boiled eggs, cut into slices or wedges

1. Combine all dressing ingredients and shake or stir well.

2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, bacon, parsley, and green onions.

3. Pour dressing over potato mixture; toss lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate to blend flavors.

4. Garnish with egg wedges and either serve it straight from the fridge, or warm slightly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

These are my favorite brownies, and since I just took a new picture of them, I've decided to repost them. They are incredibly rich, simple, and delicious. And since you start with a box, they're no fail.  Plus, they look gourmet, so the presentation is beautiful. If you're looking for something fancy and easy.... look no further.

Recipe Source: Betty Crocker
Serves: Makes a 9x13 pan

Brownie Base
1 box (9x13 size) Brownie Mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box

1/2 cup butter, softened (not too soft!)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray or shortening. (For easier cutting, line pan with foil, then grease foil on bottom only of pan.)

2. In medium bowl, prepare brownie mix according to instructions on the box. Spread in pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

3. In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. The mixture will be very thick.  Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. I find the easiest way to do this is to use my hands and pat it down.

4. In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Carefully spread over filling. Gently score the chocolate layer in vertical rows, from one end of the pan to the other.  Then carefully score it between the other ends of the pan, in horizontal rows to create a pretty pattern.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Store covered in the refrigerator.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude directions for 13x9-inch pan on brownie mix box.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

I really love making cupcakes, although I'm not sure why. I don't really like cake or frosting much, but they just look so pretty when you're finished. I think I just really look forward to decorating them. Even though I don't really like to eat cupcakes/frosting much, these cupcakes are an exception- I really loved eating them. I still had to scrape off most of the frosting because it was too much for me (but so pretty for pictures- and the kids had no complaints about this much frosting), but they were so good!

I found the recipe on Annie's Eats and they are seriously... sooo... good! The cupcake flavor is perfect and with the giant oreo chunks, they are simply scrumptious and taste like big, fluffy Oreos. And the frosting even reminds you of the oreo filling! Mmmmm. They're good. And they were the perfect thing for Father's Day since my Dad loves Oreos.

The best part- they aren't even that hard to make! Me! Making Cupcakes from Scratch! I feel quite accomplished now. ;)

Makes 24 cupcakes

What You'll Need:
For the cupcakes:
24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I quarter them)

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnish:
Oreo cookie crumbs
24 Oreo cookie halves

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with liners.  Place an Oreo in the bottom of each line.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

Evenly divide the batter between liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.  Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.