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Tuesday
Mar222011

Cookies 'n cream brownies

Cookies 'n cream is my favorite ice cream flavor in all the world. Oh, wait. Make that, my favorite ice cream flavor right alongside Ben & Jerry's Half Baked and Cherry Garcia and also the Butterfinger "tornadoes" my dad used to make for me growing up. Ok, so cookies 'n cream is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Nonetheless, I adore it. So when I ran across this recipe (thanks, lovefromtheoven!), it took me less than a second to realize I was going to make it. ASAP.

Start by making a batch of brownies in a 9x13 pan, prepared according to the package directions.

Once the brownies have cooled, use the rim of a glass to "cut" out twelve brownie rounds. Don't toss the brownie remnants! I have an idea that I'll tell you about in a bit.

Place the brownie rounds on a serving platter or cookie sheet, and prepare a batch of vanilla buttercream frosting.

Spoon the frosting into a large ziploc bag and snip 1/4 inch from one of the corners of the bag. Squish the frosting down and through the snipped hole and cover each brownie with a layer of the frosting.

Place 12-15 Oreo cookies in a large ziploc bag and smash them. I prefer fairly big smashed cookie chunks, but if you prefer a finer cookie texture, process them in a food processor or just do a lot of smashing.

Place the crumbles on top of the frosting and enjoy!

Then grab your brownie scraps and whip together a batch of Cookies 'n Cream Brownie Chunk ice cream! And after that, eat nothing but lettuce and water for 5 days.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Tuesday
Mar222011

Cookies 'n cream brownie chunk ice cream

My relationship with ice cream is complicated. Most of the time I avoid it as if I might contract a terrible disease by being within 50 feet of it. I shun it at the grocery store, on my way down the frozen foods aisle as I head toward the edamame. Not even a glance in its direction. It's comparable to refusing to acknowledge someone after an ugly break-up. It's too tempting and scary all at once, so it's best to feign disinterest.

Then there are those times when I become weak. Weak = pregnant or supremely stressed. I not only allow ice cream back into my life, but I shower love upon it, letting it know how sorry I am to have been so cold. I truly love you, Ice Cream! I'll never leave again! But my friend has a wounded heart. I've caused too much pain, too many times.

And so it goes, this dysfunctional yet functional relationship that I love to hate. Recently I found myself in a weak state (stressed, not pregnant) and thought it would be a great idea to make my very own ice cream concoction. I call it Cookies 'n Cream Brownie Chunk Ice Cream. Could anything sound more wonderful? And it was wonderful. I'm now back in the state of ignoring my delicious companion, but our recent stint certainly was good while it lasted.

Here's what I did. I threw my brownie scraps from this recipe into a bowl along with:

3/4 of a half gallon container of vanilla ice cream

12 crumbled Oreo cookies

1/3 cup of vanilla buttercream frosting

I tried to talk myself into walking away, but I was too weak. Instead, I stirred.

And I let all of the sinful ingredients mingle with one another.

Then I scooped myself a giant bowl and indulged, momentarily free of guilt.

Thankfully, stress comes and goes. Imagine how much trouble I was in when I was pregnant. I wouldn't let my husband take a picture of the inside of our freezer because it was really. really. embarrassing.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Friday
Mar182011

Vanilla buttercream frosting

I have made more frosting this winter than during any other 5-month span in my life. Lots of cupcakes and cake and just plain old licking of spoons and fingers. Reason #489 why my baby weight is still not totally gone. I'm blaming it all on the horrendous winter we have just experienced. All I have wanted to do is stay inside and make food and eat food and then eat more and more and more.

My peppermint buttercream frosting is still my winter favorite, but can you ever really go wrong with frosting? Butter and sugar are meant to be together, especially when they are swirling around in my satisfied belly.

With an electric hand mixer, cream 1 stick of butter for 3 minutes.

Add:

3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix on low speed until light and fluffy. Add additional confectioners' sugar, if needed. Mmmmm!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Mar162011

Roasted pork loin with orange-herb sauce

This is Week #11 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

Oops, I cooked pork two weeks in a row for this challenge. Isn't pork delicious, though? My mother prepared it a lot growing up. She really only prepared it one way, but that one way was fabulous. As with everything she makes, I am constantly striving to achieve the flavor that she achieves. In the past month, my husband and I have prepared a lot of pork and I feel confident saying that we have gotten close to Mom's level of pork deliciousness.

This recipe is insanely delicious. The reduction sauce that swims around the tender, flavorful pork makes me cry tears of happiness.

First, you will want to marinate a 1 1/2-pound pork loin. The recipe suggests a marination time of 1 hour, but I let mine sit overnight.

In a shallow dish, combine:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Add the pork loin and coat with the oil-garlic mixture. Place in the refrigerator and flip the pork periodically.

Once the pork has had some time to soak in its bath of olive oil and garlic, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack in the upper third part of the oven.

In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, fat side down. Cook over moderately high heat until it is richly browned, about 4 minutes. Brown the pork on the remaining sides, and then turn it fat side up.

Add to the skillet:

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 black peppercorns

1 rosemary sprig

1 oregano sprig

1 parsley sprig

Once the mixture has reached boiling, transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and roast the pork for about 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers at 145 degrees F.

Transfer the pork to a carving board. Carve it into 1/2-inch slices, but you might want to wait to do this until the sauce is nearly done cooking. Do as I say, not as I do.

Strain the liquid from the skillet into a saucepan.

Allow the sauce to boil and reduce to 1/2 cup. This takes about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.

What? You don't see chopped parsley in my reduction sauce? Well, this is because there is no parsley in my reduction sauce. This was the point in my day where chaos reigned our home. Sammy was screaming for more food, as always. Elijah's potty watch had gone off. I knew I needed to take photos quickly, before the sauce got too thick. My husband's phone rang. AAAGhsdkghhghh! So. I forgot to add the parsley. It sat in a sad pile on the cutting board, and I didn't see it until we were sitting down at the table. Please forgive me.

And then drizzle your sauce over the slices of pork that adorn your plates.

Did I mention how delicious this reduction sauce is? If I could take a bath in it, I would be one happy girl.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Sunday
Mar132011

Chicken jalapeno dip

This delicious Mexican dip is flavorful, spicy and cheesy, my three favorite ways to describe food. I love that it is unique and familiar all at once. I am marking this as a new favorite for parties. Or, just for those indulgent days when my husband and I decide to enjoy a margarita and a spicy, gooey treat. We are due for one of those soon.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine:

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese

1/3 cup skim milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 jalapeno peppers, chopped (give or take, depending how much you like for your mouth to burn)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pull and coarsely shred the meat from 1 Rotisserie chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Add the chicken meat to the mixture and stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized, greased baking dish.

Top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with chips and pita bread. Have a cold margarita handy! 

Click here for a printable recipe!