Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake Bars

So, there's something you should know about me. Unfortunately, I believe this is an incurable disease. So sad for me, right?

But I had this craving the other day and wanted something gooey, creamy, and chocolatey at the same time. The problem was I didn't have enough cream cheese to make a full blown, from scratch, New York cheesecake which is what I usually make. But I did find this no bake Jello cheesecake mix at the local Wally World one day and wanted to try it out.

The verdict: I would never eat this by itself as a cheesecake. Nope. I'll stick to my original four bars of cream cheese and sour cream, thank you. But as a topping on brownies? Yeah, it was pretty good. Even better once I added some cream cheese mix on top! Read on for the directions my friends :)

The shtuff you need:

Prepare your brownies according to the package or however you make them. And let them cool completely. Sticking them in the fridge helps too if you're me :)

The Jello cheesecake mix is powder and frankly smells like stale, dehydrated cheese.

I know, weird right?

You mix this with 1 1/2 cups cold milk.

Doesn't smell any better while it's mixing either. But after mixing for about three minutes it turns into a thick goop. I actually added a splash of vanilla extract to it for an extra somethin' somethin'.

Spread over the prepared and cooled pan of brownies.

Add some chocolate chips if you like and then into the fridge for at least half an hour.

And ta-da! Quick and easy brownie bottom cheescake bars.

To be honest I wasn't quite impressed with the dessert and was originally giving it a 2, maybe 3 stars. But it tastes much better after being in the fridge for a couple hours or even overnight.The Jello cheesecake mix tastes got it...cheesecake flavored jello. I wasn't really feeling it so I added a dollop of cream cheese mix that I made. 

In the mixer I put half a block of softened cream cheese, a splash of milk, 3 Tbl sugar, 3 1/2 Tbl sour cream and mixed and let sit for about ten minutes in the fridge. It gave the whole thing a more cheesecake flavor. Thank you cream cheese, my love for you is truly eternal...
However, if you totally love that whole Jello thang going on then you might just want to by pass the cream cheese lovin'. 
But that's okay, we can still be friends. ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Calzones - Cook now or Freeze for later!

The best thing I like about calzones is that they are so easy to freeze and then pop in the oven one night when I'm too busy to cook.

And the taste. I love the taste too. :)

For this recipe you can either use a pizza dough from the grocery store (Pillsbury or the bakery side of Publix) or make them from scratch. I've used both and have had no problems from either. So, to make it easier just buy a roll of Pillsbury pizza dough, roll the dough out, cut into four rectangles, and fill with all your pizza-y fillings. For an extra large calzone, just halve the Pillsbury dough and make two calzones. Too big for me! But maybe not for a growing teenage boy that just came home from football practice.

This time I made pizza dough from scratch using Bobby Flay's recipe:

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (bread flour = crispier crust, all purpose = chewier crust)
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F (I just used the hottest water from the faucet)
2 Tbl olive oil, plus 2 tsp

Directions for the dough:

1) Combine the dry ingredients in a mixer. While mixing, add the water and 2 Tbl oil.

2) Flour a clean surface and scrape the dough out and knead into a smooth ball.

3) Grease a bowl with 2 tsp oil and roll the dough in it to lightly coat it. I just used the same bowl I had mixed it in. Cover and let rise until double, about 30 min to an hour depending on how warm your area is. (Now is the best time to cook any meats you want in your filling.)

4) After it has risen, lightly flour the counter and roll out dough and divide into four balls.

5) Let them rest for about ten minutes and then use a rolling pin to flatten into a rectangle. Don't roll it too thin or it'll rip when you try to close it with all the filling.

For the filling I used:

Italian sausage
Package of shredded Italian cheese mix
Pasta sauce
Red and green bell peppers

While the dough was rising, I cooked the italian sausage with some chopped garlic and onion. Then I put them on a paper towel lined plate so it would drain some of the excess oil.

Then I filled my rectangle shaped pizza dough with sauce, tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni and sausage. The great thing about calzones is that you can fill them to your own personal liking. I had made one before with chicken, spinach, ricotta, cheese and mushrooms because that's what we had on hand!

When you're done, simply close the calzone together, roll up the edges and crimp with a fork. It could easily turn out nicely like this....

or end up like this. :(

But whatever, it'll still taste good. Make sure to also slice the top of the calzone for some air vents so it doesn't pop open in the oven. If you're freezing them, just wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a ziploc in the freezer.

Cooking directions:
Freshly made or thawed out calzones go in the in oven at about 350 degrees for about 25 - 30 minutes.
Frozen calzones go straight into the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.
Everyone's oven is different so make sure to check on these halfway through the cooking time at least. 

Some additional fillings to consider:
Ham and cheese
The possibilities are endless...have fun!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Necklace How To

For those with the basic knowledge of putting the pieces of a necklace together.