Blueberry Yeasted Waffles

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Leah and I tried making yeasted waffles twice before we made these, and they were both literally flops that didn’t rise properly. However, these sounded promising because 1) the recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated and 2) there are mini blueberries in the batter! These were a great success, as we suspected they might be. The yeast adds a rich flavor to the waffle base, and the wild blueberries are a wonderful addition. These aren’t the sweetest waffles, but they go nicely with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup. I suspect that a blueberry syrup would be excellent too! The best part is that you make the waffle batter the night before you are going to need it, so you can have fresh waffles in the morning.

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Blueberry Yeasted Waffles

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves approximately 4 (yield will vary depending on the size of your waffle maker)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole, 2%, or 1% milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour plus an additional 2 teaspoons, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries (it’s important to use wild blueberries, since they are smaller and won’t burst and burn in the waffle maker)

Directions

Combine the milk and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool until just barely warm.

eanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Whisk the milk and butter mixture into the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl and add them to the batter and whisk to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Preheat your waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove batter from the fridge (it will be foamy and will have risen some) and give it a stir. Toss blueberries with remaining 2 teaspoons of flour and fold them into the batter.

Fill wells of waffle maker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve as desired. Enjoy!

 

 

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

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I (Leah) used to hate macaroni and cheese, especially the boxed orange kind. I’ve mentioned before how I am not a huge fan of cheese on its own, and I used to be even worse about it when I was younger (yes, this is definitely an unpopular opinion). So, it’s not surprising that a dish focusing on cheese was never something I was interested in.

But, tastes change over the years, and I can now say that I like macaroni and cheese. It may not be my favorite meal, but I enjoy having a serving of it every few months. We’ve made some “fancy” varieties of mac and cheese recently, and this recipe is definitely one of our favorites. I love nearly anything with jalapeno, so this meal was sure to be a winner. It’s only mildly spicy, so if you wanted it to be spicier you could add another jalapeno or some red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

4 cups of pasta (we used macaroni, but feel free to use your favorite shape)

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup roasted red pepper, finely chopped

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced

6½ tablespoons butter, divided

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2½ cups milk

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

8 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded

4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. baguette or firm Italian bread, torn into large chunks

Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Meanwhile, melt ½ tablespoon of butter in a small skillet or small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeno to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until it turns a light golden brown and begins to foam, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, whisking frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the spices (add the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, not the dash).  Add the cheeses to the mixture and whisk until completely melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Grease a 3-quart casserole dish.  Return the drained pasta to the large pot.  Add in the cooked vegetables and the cheese sauce and stir until easily combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

Use a food processor to pulse the bread into coarse crumbs.  Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Add a dash of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on top of the pasta.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through and the topping is golden brown.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: we think it would be fine to substitute 4 ounces of panko breadcrumbs for the bread to simplify the recipe.

Funfetti Cupcakes

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I hope everyone had a happy Easter yesterday! Leah and I took an unexpected blogging break- in the past couple of weeks, we have taken two college visits to locations in the 6-hour range away,  gone to prom, and worked a lot at the bakery we were hired at- about 18 hours between Thursday and Saturday alone. We were not in the kitchen much! However, we’re off from school this entire week and hopefully will be back to cooking and blogging. I missed it, even though being busy can be fun too.

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However, we did squeeze in a birthday party for our brother Henry’s eighth birthday. It was a casual affair, kind of a glorified playdate, with about 15 second graders running around our yard. Henry wanted a funfetti cake. We made a full-sized cake and then a bunch of cupcakes just in case. We’ve made this particular funfetti recipe before and loved it. It’s very simple to prepare and uses a reverse creaming method- if you can make boxed funfetti cake, with a little extra time and effort (but not too much more) you can make this batter. The frosting is fluffy and delicious with just the right level of sweetness, though we also frosted a couple cupcakes with chocolate frosting for kids who prefer it. These cupcakes were a big hit!

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Funfetti Cupcakes

Recipe from Sweetapolita

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 3/4 cups (315 g) cake flour, sifted

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

For the frosting:

3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3 1/2 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

More sprinkles for topping

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with 24 liners and set aside.In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining 3/4 cup of milk and combine on low speed until moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate additions. Mix on medium for 20 seconds after each addition. Gently stir in the rainbow sprinkles with a spatula.

Divide the batter between the muffin liners and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden on top and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean (rotate cupcake pans halfway through).

For the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes until fluffy. Spread over cupcakes and top with sprinkles. Enjoy!

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

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When we were in New York City for our senior class trip, Celine and I split a piece of red velvet cheesecake at lunch. It was pretty much the best thing ever because it had a layer of red velvet cake, a layer of cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, another layer of red velvet cake, and more cream cheese frosting. Ever since then, Celine and I have had a craving to bake one of our own.

Luckily, when we asked our wonderful grandfather for what he wanted as his celebratory dessert on his birthday last weekend, he asked for cheesecake. I never knew that he was a cheesecake fan, but since that’s what he asked for, we decided to give it a go! We had never made a classic New York cheesecake before, but we had heard rave reviews of this recipe, and it definitely lived up to expectations! It was creamy and full of tangy flavor (thanks to a substantial amount of cream cheese and a bit of lemon juice). Oh, it also had a thick graham cracker crust with just the right texture. I think it was the perfect cheesecake.

You can tell by the picture that ours got a little bit too brown (we definitely overbaked it), but its taste and texture did not seem to have suffered a bit from it. This dessert was simple to make as well. When served with some homemade strawberry sauce, this was a dangerous dessert.

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

Cheesecake from Baking Illustrated via Annie’s Eats, strawberry sauce from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Serves at least 10-12

Ingredients:

For the crust:

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tbsp., melted for greasing the pan

4 oz. (about 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine crumbs in a food processor (definitely weigh if you can, because the exact size of the crackers will vary by brand)

1 tbsp. sugar

For the cheesecake filling:

2 1/2 lb. (5 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature (use full fat cream cheese for the proper texture)

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup sour cream

2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

For the sauce:

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

For the crust:

Place an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter.  In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons of melted butter, and sugar. Stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly combined and all the crumbs are moistened.  Transfer the crumbs to the prepared springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin or a cup to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom.  Bake until fragrant and just barely beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.

For the cheesecake:

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl again and beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until completely combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute after each egg addition, scraping the bowl between additions.

Using a pastry brush, brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter.  Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet in case the pan leaks during baking.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours (note: we would check it at an hour, just in case your oven runs hot. Ours was done in a little over an hour).  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Run a paring knife around the side of the springform pan to separate the cheesecake from the pan.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

Once thoroughly chilled, you can run a thin spatula under the cheesecake to separate from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto your serving dish.

For the sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water, strawberries, and sugar. Heat the mixture over medium high heat until it boils. Give it a stir and reduce the heat to medium.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of water and whisk until smooth. Pour this into the strawberry mixture and cook over medium heat for three or four more minutes, or until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool.

Slice the cheesecake and serve with some of the fresh strawberry sauce. Enjoy!