White Cream Puffs

This recipe is one that has been used in my family for as long as I can remember.  As a child, my mom would make these cream puffs for her bridge club nights.  She’d make the cream puffs, cut off the tops and fill them with vanilla ice cream, then frost them with some chocolate before serving them to her honored guests.  Occasionally, we’d be given one of these treats before the ladies arrived and they always looked so incredibly elegant.  What a gift to find out, years later, that this was a simple recipe that I could share with my own guests… and now I get to share that gift with you!WhiteCreamPuffs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups boiling water (I like to use 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup white wine)
  • 1/2 cup butter (don’t skimp… butter is the only way to go here)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the water/wine with the butter and bring to a boil.  Once melted and fully boiling, add the flour/salt at once and stir, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Drop by teaspoons onto 2 greased cookie sheets (or baking sheets lined with parchment), shaping dough to peak in center and round out on the bottom.  Place dough 2″ apart.
  3. Bake in preheated 375* oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350*  and bake for an additional 25 minutes.  Cool and fill.  Freeze or use immediately.

These cream puffs make a lovely dessert – slice off the top of the puff, fill with softened ice cream and replace the top, then frost with a bit of chocolate.  My Red Fudge Sauce is fabulous with this dessert (as seen in the photo), but you can use whatever sauce you like best.

Another alternative would be to fill the puffs with a small amount of my Nutty Chicken Salad and serve for a fancy luncheon. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to using these cream puffs!  Enjoy!

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Aunt Louise’s Blueberry Cream Pie (with wine)

I have to say that this is a recipe that was handed down to me by my mother, from her mother’s sister, so the original recipe did not contain wine.  That being said, it wasn’t hard to add a splash of wine so I could include this delicious pie on my blog. It’s simple, yet elegant… and one that most everyone in our family loves to have as the sweet ending to a meal.  It’s definitely not a “low cal” sort of dessert, but it could be made a bit lighter if you’re inclined to tweak things here and there.  For me, it’ll all about recreating a beloved dessert, so I don’t adjust it too much.BlueberryCreamPie (1)

Ingredients:

  • one small package of cream cheese (I’ve been instructed not to use light or non-fat for this dessert)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (again, don’t skimp for calorie sake or the flavor will fall flat)
  • Pie shell – use your favorite, but we found that we like a pastry shell more than a graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 can blueberry pie filling
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of white wine (or use lemon juice if you prefer)

Directions:

  • Cream room temperature cream cheese  and add sugar and vanilla, then beat well
  • In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream just until stiff peaks form
  • Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream with great care
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Blend wine into the pie filling and top the pie with the blueberry mixture
  • Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

This pie has been on our Easter table for years… it’s also a fabulous addition to any picnic or family gathering.  You can substitute fresh fruit for the pie filling if you prefer…. it’s all about making something that your own family will love. Traditional or not, making food for those you love is the whole idea.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Brownie-Wine Brittle

I saw a yummy-looking bag of Brownie Brittle at the store recently… and it just seemed to cry out for a wine-makeover.  Since today was a “cook/bake/blog/errand” kind of day, this recipe just called out to me.  I hope you’ll enjoy it!

BrownieBrittle

I started with one box of brownie mix, one egg, red wine, canned pumpkin, creamy peanut butter, and mini chocolate chips.   Using the directions on the back of the brownie mix box as a guideline, I added equal amounts of canned pumpkin and creamy peanut butter along with the egg, then poured in red wine to thin out the entire mix.  I also added a handful of mini chocolate chips, so there would be little nuggets of chocolate throughout the final product.  I was playing with this recipe, so I did a lot of “guestimating” as I mixed this together.

Feel free to mix this in whatever way you’d like – my plan was to make the mixture thin enough to bake and become crispy as it cooled.  Success!  NOTE: I used the pumpkin in place of the oil because it was in my fridge… and I used the small amount of creamy peanut butter to add a hint of nuttiness to the flavor.  Either one could be substituted with applesauce or you could certainly follow the directions and add more wine/water to thin out the mixture.  It’s entirely up to you!

I used the largest baking sheet (with an edge) that I had in my cupboard and lined it with parchment paper so the final product would lift off fairly easily.  I added enough red wine to thin out the mixture (I would have used James River Cellars’ Rad Red if I’d had some open… the bottle I had open was a South African Shiraz Viognier blend, so I used that in this recipe), poured it onto the baking sheet and spread the mixture as thinly as possible, reaching all four corners.

Because I wanted the brownies to end up dry and crispy, I cooked the entire recipe at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Once the cooking was finished, I turned off the heat in the oven, opened the oven door and let the brownies dry for about an hour.   I decided to wait until the brownie-wine brittle was cool before I broke it apart into pieces.  It broke up nicely and will be fun to play with when I need a small, fun snack or if I want to do a fancier presentation with a small cookie scoop of frosting with brittle around it, like flower petals.

I’ll probably play with this recipe again and adjust the amounts of ingredients, but feel free to try this at home for your own family.  Being able to re-create something you see in the store is actually fun… and making a treat for your family is the best-ever kind of treat.

Wishing you lots of homemade treats as the holidays draw near…

Creating a Recipe for a contest… Divine Triple Chocolate Port Wine Cookies

The people who make Fonseca Bin #27 offered up a challenge and I just couldn’t resist.  After all, I’ve been using red wine (alternating between a dry red from James River Cellars Winery OR Fonseca Bin #27 Port wine) in my “standard” chocolate chip cookie recipe for the past 15 years or so… why not write the actual directions down and see if people like it, right?TripleChocolatePortWineCookies

I decided to call the recipe:  Divine Triple Chocolate Port Wine Cookies.  I use chocolate chips in three different sizes and degrees of sweetness, then included Port Wine and a few other “choice” ingredients.  I am deviating from my traditional way of using The Force when I cook and have provided actual directions for this recipe.  It was tough, but I just had to try it.  While my recipe may seem a bit unorthodox, my family and friends seem to find them absolutely divine.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

Divine Tripe Chocolate Port Wine Cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and assemble all ingredients in recipe before you begin.

Start with the following ingredients in your mixing bowl:
1 cup butter crisco
1/2 c white sugar + 1 c brown sugar
1 t salt + 1 t baking soda
2 T Fonseca Bin #27 Port Wine
1 t blood orange balsamic vinegar
1 t dark chili powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1 t vanilla extract + 1/2 t almond extract
2 eggs (at room temperature)
Cream all ingredients together until well incorporated
Slowly add 2 1/4 c flour and mix well.

Add 1 cup each: mini chocolate chips, regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, and bittersweet chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop, place batter, teaspoon by teaspoon, onto a baking stone. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 11 minutes (you may need to adjust for your own oven temperature). Allow cookies to sit for a minute on the baking stone before removing to a wire rack to cool.

I like to keep this cookie dough recipe in my fridge so I can make fresh cookies at a moment’s notice, as my boys’ friends can attest. These are wonderfully divine!

If you feel so inclined, please consider voting for my recipe, using this link.  I hope you try this recipe and enjoy making it and sharing it with the ones you love… after all, isn’t that why we cook in the first place?

Recipe: Raspberry Wine Taffy

What’s a girl to do when her college roommate gives her four bottles of good Raspberry Syrup? Why, create a recipe using the syrup and WINE, of course!

Armed with the fore-mentioned syrup, I decided to play in the kitchen today. I didn’t want to waste the syrup, so I thought I’d make a simple reduction of the syrup and red wine that would drizzle nicely over desserts. While my end product didn’t exactly meet my expectations, it definitely wasn’t a total loss… I ended up with Raspberry Wine Candies!

I decided to start small… I poured 1/2 cup raspberry syrup and 1 cup red wine into a small saute’ pan and allowed this mixture to simmer for awhile. Note: I used Boordy Vineyard’s Chambourcin Merlot for this recipe, but I could have easily used James River Cellars’ Meritage… I just had an extra bottle of the BoRaspberryWineTaffyordy wine and wanted to use it up. I allowed this syrup/wine mixture to simmer for about 30-45 minutes – I wasn’t paying close attention to the clock and I was simply cooking the mixture until it reduced significantly and started to look “thick”.

Once the mixture had cooked down to the look of a heavy syrup, I added a dash of salt and a teaspoon of margarine. I stirred these two additions into the mixture and allowed it to simmer a little longer.

At this point, I probably should have removed it from the stove and used it as a drizzle for pound cake or ice cream. Instead, I continued to cook it until it was even thicker and looked as if a spoon could leave a trail down the center of the pan. I removed the confection from the stove and poured it into the Pyrex measuring cup (as seen in photo) to find that the entire mixture had reduced from 1 1/2 cups of liquid to a scant 1/2 cup of confection. It tasted lovely, but I had no idea what to do with it… so I popped it into the fridge.

An hour in the fridge allowed this recipe to thicken so much that I could manhandle a small spoonful onto a piece of waxed paper and eventually eat it as a soft taffy… hence the recipe’s name. I’ve never intentionally made taffy before, but this is what I thought of when I tasted it.

Next time, I’ll stop cooking this mixture earlier and allow it to cool so it can be used as a flavorful topping for ice cream or pound cake (as I mentioned before)… but maybe not. It’s kind of fun to create something totally unexpected!

Here’s to the unexpected sweetness of life… may we all create more of it to share with others!

Recipe: Healthy Bread Pudding

Ok… I’m probably pushing it by saying this recipe is “healthy”, but it’s certainly got more healthy ingredients included than some of my recipes, so hopefully you’ll forgive this slight.  In any case, I think this bread pudding recipe is fabulous… I’ve made it twice now and it’s only tasted better each time.  If you’re not a huge fan of bread pudding, then feel free to skip this one.  If you like bread pudding at all, this is definitely one to try!

HealthyBreadPudding

This recipe makes a single serving, so if you’re planning to make this for more people, just increase the ingredients as needed.  I made my recipe with the following ingredients:  2 cups of cubed ciabatta bread,1 mini-box of raisins, 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips (I chopped mine), 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 teaspoons Chia Seeds, 2 packets of Equal (feel free to use your sweetener of choice), and some cinnamon to taste.  I also sprinkled the pudding with regular sugar just before popping it into the oven.

I started by assembling all my ingredients, pre-heating my oven to 350 degrees, and spraying my baking dish with Pam cooking spray.  Note:  I neglected to spray my baking dish the first time I made this recipe and it took ages (and some serious elbow grease) to get the dish clean.  I put the bread cubes into the baking dish and then mixed the remaining ingredients in a measuring cup.  I then poured the liquid (and the raisins/chips) over the bread and, using my hands, mixed and mashed the liquid into the bread cubes until they were sufficiently soggy (see the lower right photo).

Once the bread was heavy with the egg/milk mixture, I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top and popped the baking dish into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center came out relatively clean.  I let the pudding rest for 10 minutes, til the dish was cool enough to hold, and dug in with a spoon.  It was heavenly, in my opinion, with tiny bits of chocolate and plump raisins found throughout the dish, with a very faint back note from the wine.

This recipe was wonderful and a great example of comfort food to me.   The reason I called it “healthy” was the use of Fat-free Egg Substitute (in place of eggs), Almond Milk (in place of cow’s milk of any sort), along with the use of Chia Seeds (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) and raisins with a small amount of chocolate.  Even with the wine, this recipe came in under 275 calories, which was a definite plus in my book.  Another plus?  This is a dish that you could serve to company as a dessert, simply by adding a hard sauce or ice cream to top each serving.

I hope you’ll try this recipe out sometime.  Call it whatever you like, it’s simply delicious to me!

Recipe: Chocolate Wine Cobbler

ChocolateWineCobblerI originally found this recipe on the side of my Facebook account. It looked yummy and was called “Chocolate Cobbler”. It showed up in my FB feed when I was looking for a new dessert and this just looked simple and tasty. For me, the plus came when the recipe called for “boiling water”… wait… water? What? Why use boiling water when I could substitute wine… and a new recipe was born. After trying this recipe a few times, I’ve finally been able to get a picture of this treat so you can see just how yummy it can be. Oh, and you’ll notice that there are exact measurements in this one because I didn’t use The Force…

INGREDIENTS:

2 sticks butter or margarine (I used margarine, because that’s what I had on hand)

BATTER:

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 c self-rising flour (or use 1 1/2 cup regular flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 3/4 tsp salt)

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup milk

CHOCOLATE LAYER:

1 cup sugar

6 Tbs cocoa powder

WINE LAYER:

2 cups boiling red wine – I used 2 cups of sweet red wine *Note: this tastes perfectly fine with boiling water instead if you so choose.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a high-sided 9×13 baking dish, melt the two sticks of butter in the oven
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together the ingredients for the batter layer. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter over the melted butter but DO NOT STIR.
  3. In a clean bowl, mix together the ingredients for the chocolate layer. Sprinkle on top of the batter but DO NOT STIR.
  4. Pour 2 cups of boiling wine gently on top of entire dessert (again… DO NOT STIR) and bake for 30-45 minutes. I bake mine until I can see a nice golden brown crust.
  5. Serve warm – this is great with ice cream.

I served this dessert at our company Christmas party and it was a huge hit. If you want to substitute boiling water for the wine, that’s completely fine. I would use anything that you like, but I’d suggest using a red wine that cooks well. I find that red Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot) cook nicely and maintain their integrity throughout the process.

Enjoy! I’ll be adding a little bit of vanilla ice cream to each serving tonight, but I can’t think of anything more comforting than wine paired with chocolate…