If nothing else, we love to eat. Some of us love to cook, too. Sure, we’re fine with tried & true favorites at home or grabbing a bite at a diner or fast food place but we enjoy trying new foods at home and in restaurants as well. And chocolate, in any form, is welcome in our home.
Rice Pudding – Using Leftover Plain White Rice
Not everyone in our household loves Chinese food. And not everyone in our household who loves Chinese food likes the little container of plain white rice that inevitably comes with every takeout order. What to do with that rice… Lots of things can be done with it, actually. Stir fry, for example. Or, if we’re in the midst of a very long, very cold winter, Rice Pudding.
This pudding is speckled with vanilla bean seeds and further flavored with almond extract (which could be optional).
- 2 cups rice, cooked
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean – slit open & scrape all seeds out (use the seeds AND
- the bean)
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional?)
- Mix-ins (optional) – raisins, dash of cinnamon, sliced almonds
- Combine rice, milk, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in saucepan. Add vanilla bean.
- Heat over medium and stir often until milk and rice thicken, about 20 minutes or so. You can add more milk to reach desired consistency, though it will thicken upon cooling.
- Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean and stir in the almond extract.
- Add optional ingredients (cinnamon, raisins).
- Put into dessert cups. Serve warm OR
- To serve chilled, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat.
Makes 4 – 5 servings
This was another find from Pinterest. The original recipe comes from www.eatatallies.com and I’ll definitely make these again.
- 1 package of refrigerated crescent roll dough (8 per package)
- 8 marshmallows
- 2 Tbl. butter, melted
- 2 Tbl. cinnamon-sugar mix
As the rolls are assembled, read parts of the book of John (John 19 and end with 20:1 – 18).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Roll out 1 piece of dough at a time (laying the cloth for Jesus’ body)
- Coat 1 marshmallow in the melted butter (oils to anoint His body) then the cinnamon-sugar (spices for His body) and place in the middle of the rolled out dough
- Wrap the dough completely around the marshmallow (wrap His body in the cloth, put in a cave)
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Bake for 12 minutes
- Let cool slightly before removing from the pan. Cut open to reveal the empty cavity. Ta da!
Chocolate Guinness Cake
This was another find on www.pinterest.com and, specifically, from www.simplyrecipes.com , in time for St. Patrick’s Day. While I didn’t make it on March 17th, I did time it for our Corned Beef/Cabbage/Potato/Irish Soda Bread dinner, Part II a few days later. And I made this for dessert. I also tweaked it a bit from the original.
- 1 cup stout or porter beer (Guinness extra stout)
- 10 Tbl. unsalted butter, cubed
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbl. vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Frosting, chocolate glaze, or powdered sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper; lightly butter the paper, too
- In a large saucepan, put in the butter cubes and beer. Whisk over medium-high heat until the butter has completely melted
- In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sugars. Add cocoa-sugar mixture to the butter-beer mixture. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature
- In a large bowl, whisk together the floor, baking soda and salt. Add the beer-butter-cocoa-sugar mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking until it just comes together
- Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Tap the pan on the countertop a few times to shake the air pockets in the batter to the surface and out of the cake
- Bake 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan. Pop the ring off the springform pan
- Frost the cake with the frosting of your choice (cream cheese frosting was recommended in the original recipe), OR top with a chocolate glaze, OR keep it simple and just sprinkle powdered sugar on top!
This cake is not just for St. Patrick’s Day ~
Black Forest Cupcakes
Cupcakes are all the rage and I admit that I often prefer them to a slice of cake. There are the obvious reasons – more icing per serving (usually), no utensils necessary, and, if you’re really lucky, no plate needed either – just 2 hands and a napkin! I’m not a cupcake maniac but when A asked me to make something along the lines of a Black Forest cupcake or mini cake for her birthday last summer, I felt comfortable taking on the challenge.
This is what I came up with – to much praise and yummmmmmy noises!
For the Cupcakes:
- Chocolate cake mix – preferably Duncan Hines’ Dark Chocolate Fudge, prepared with oil, eggs and water as per the directions on the box
For the Fillings:
- 8 oz. mascarpone cheese (some containers may be a bit bigger)
- 3 T. confectioners’ sugar
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 – 5 T. milk or half & half (use more or less for spreadability)
- 2 cups of pitted, dark sweet cherries (I used frozen, defrosted ones – came out fine)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 T. butter, unsalted
- 2 T. corn syrup
1. Mix & bake cupcakes as directed on the box. Use cupcake papers to line the pan. Should make approximately 24 cupcakes
As cupcakes bake, make the cream and cherry fillings:
2. Cream mascarpone cheese with confectioners’ sugar
3. Cream in the vanilla extract then add the milk/half & half, 1 Tablespoon at a time. The filling’s consistency should be like creamy peanut butter (very spreadable but not liquid)
4. Cut the cherries in half. Place halves in a small saucepan with ½ cup sugar and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly. Let cool.
Make the glaze as the cupcakes cool:
5. Put a small saucepan over low heat. When pan is warm, add the chocolate chips and butter to it. Whisk smooth until nearly all melted
6. Add corn syrup and whisk until completely blended. Remove from heat
Once cupcakes cool, use a serrated knife to carefully slice off the “tops” above the cupcake papers. Set tops aside.
For each cupcake, spread a teaspoon-size bit of cream filling on each cupcake bottom. Top with a teaspoon of cherry filling. Put a cupcake top onto cherry filling.
Spoon (or pour) a teaspoon-size amount of chocolate sauce onto each cupcake top.
Serve immediately. Store in the fridge. Warning – the chocolate topping will harden in the cold.
Makes 24 cupcakes. Here is how they came out:
Ham Cheese Potato Egg Bake
I am tempted to call this ’empty the fridge & pantry casserole’ but that doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing. But that’s a better, more accurate description….We’ll stick with what sounds good because the final result is delicious no matter what you call it.
- 5 russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
- 1 ½ cups diced baked ham
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 eggs
- ½ tsp. dried (or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped) thyme
- 1 T. dried (or 2 T. fresh, chopped) rosemary
- Salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat, place potato cubes in cold, salted water and cook until potatoes are fork tender – about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove pan from stove. Do not drain potatoes!
- While potatoes are cooking, dice the ham. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the herbs, salt and pepper
- As soon as the potatoes are fork tender, scoop them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and spread them in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the diced ham evenly over the potatoes
- Pour the egg mixture over the ham & potatoes. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the entire mixture. Ladle ¼ cup of the leftover potato water over the mixture
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the center is set and the edges are light brown and slightly crispy
- Serve immediately. Cut into large squares for full servings or small squares for appetizers
This makes 6 full size servings or 24 appetizers.
I found this recipe on www.pinterest.com shortly before Valentine’s Day and thought it would be fun to try for our annual Red Dinner. While our Valentine’s Day dinner was postponed a few days, these cupcakes were made and enjoyed. There was even enough batter to make a heart shaped cake. I tweaked the recipe to suit our tastes, naturally.
- 1 19-oz package of brownie mix (I used a plain mix, nothing fancy added, like chips or extra chocolate syrup)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 18.25-oz package of strawberry cake mix (or any other flavored cake mix)
- 2 Tbl. canola oil
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 3 egg whites
- 10 oz. semisweet chocolate (if in squares, break into small pieces, otherwise, use chips)
- 1/2 cup heaving cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 48 muffin cups with paper liners (OK, I made only a dozen cupcakes and used a heart shaped cake pan for the rest of the batter <– grease & flour the cake pan)
- Stir together the brownie mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup canola oil, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Stir just until fully incorporated and not lumpy
- In a separate and large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cake mix, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 1/3 cup water, and 3 egg whites – mix on low speed until combined. Then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes
- Spoon the brownie batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup only 1/3 full. Then carefully spoon the cake batter over the brownie batter – spreading the batter completely over the brownie batter. Each muffin cups should ultimately be 2/3 full
- If using a cake pan, spread the brownie mix in the prepared pan evenly. Carefully spread the cake batter over the brownie mix, covering the brownie portion thoroughly
- For the cupcakes: bake in the preheated oven until a cake tester (or dried piece of spaghetti), inserted into the center of a cupcake cake, comes out clean. The baking time should be about 20 minutes
- For the cake pan, the baking time will be about 40 minutes and should only be removed from the oven when a cake tester is inserted into the center and comes out clean
- Cool cupcakes/ cake completely!
- When the cake is completely cooled, remove it from the pan onto a large plate
- For the icing: In a heavy saucepan, heat up the cream over medium heat until warmed through and bubbles appear around the edges.
- Remove pan from the heat and immediate add the chocolate pieces, whisking constantly until the chocolate is completely melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy
- Leave off the heat for about 15 minutes until it slightly cools and thickens
- Carefully spoon a scant tablespoon-worth of the glaze over each cupcake, using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly on top. The glaze will eventually set
- If also icing a cake, pour the glaze over the top of the cake and use a spatula to evenly cover the top then the sides
- Let the glaze set (room temperature or fridge) before serving
Makes 48 cupcakes or 12 cupcakes and 1 small cake.
- This is from the website I copied the recipe from. My cupcakes had a chocolate ganache glaze instead of white frosting