Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You're probably noticing something about this picture: This cheesecake says pumpkin, but its color isn't orange. Your observation is correct, so go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Of all the pumpkin cheesecakes I've had, this is hands down my favorite. Why? Because it's cheesecake with pumpkin in it instead of what seems to be pumpkin pie with a bit of cheese to change the name. It's just personal preference, but I enjoy cheesecake with other flavors added, not the other way around. This recipe is perfect - a blend of cheesecake, fall spices, and a hit of pumpkin. Its flavor is solid and its texture creamy. My friends who got to enjoy it with me confirmed that this is indeed a keeper, so I know I'll smell it baking in my kitchen again this fall.

(On glass base from Springform Pan)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp ginger
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pumpkin purée

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Crush 2 cups worth of graham crackers into a medium bowl. Stir in the ginger, and then stir in the melted butter so that the mixture becomes moist.

Press the crust into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9″ springform pan. Stick the pan in the freezer while you make the cheesecake batter so that the butter will firm up the crust.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the sugars and spices. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and pumpkin.

Pour the batter into the graham cracker crust and smooth out on the top.

Bake 15 minutes, and then open the oven door and lower the temperature to 200 degrees. Close the door and continue baking for about an hour longer or until the edges of the cheesecake set but the center still wiggles when the pan is shaken. Cool the cheesecake on a rack and then refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Serve drizzled with warm caramel sauce.

(Recipe originally from Sugarcrafter)

Graham crackers don't stand a chance against the Manual Food Processor. This tool makes the chopping quick and simple with little mess. Just stick the base and blade in the dishwasher when you're finished, and give the top a little wipe.

Real butter + graham cracker crumbs + ginger = fabulous crust. This is coming together in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and I'm using the Small Batter Bowl to pour the butter. As always, I let this sit in the oven while it preheated, and my butter and I were ready for this step at the same time. That's the Stainless Whisk in the bowl and the Large Cutting Board underneath.

Crust is in the Springform Pan, and everything else is on the Cutting Board. My spice blend (hello, cardamom!) is in a Pinch Bowl, and brown sugar is in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl with a Measuring Spoon. The Measure-All Cup has the sour cream and the pumpkin.

Hello, Sexy Sunbeam MixMaster! This thing still works as well as it did when my grandmother got it in 1954. Anyone for whipping potatoes? Level six.

Cheesecake has a reputation for being difficult, and it's legitimate. If your ingredients aren't ready, you're not going to get good results. Here's a tip: Have room temperature eggs. It's a given that your cream cheese needs to be softened, but the eggs will blend better if they're not straight from the fridge. When the recipe says blend them one at a time, take the extra minute to make this happen. Crack eggs one at a time in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl to make sure there's no blood and no shell. This batter is your entire recipe, and it's worth making it correctly. No shortcuts? Deal.

The Springform Pan is ready to go in the oven. What is just a big glob of cream cheese, pumpkin, and a few other things is about to become one of the best fall desserts known to man. This Springform Pan is obviously wonderful for cheesecake, but it can be used for other things as well. How about deep dish pizza or a 1-layer cake? Snap the collar off, and you've got a beautiful presentation on the glass base. So versatile!

Big thanks to Tracy at Sugarcrafter for this great recipe! This and these Nutella Cupcakes are her creations, and I look forward to trying many more. I love people who can create wonderful baked goods, but I love them even more when they're willing to share the recipes.

Make cheesecake, not war.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

Drooling? Me, too. I used to hate scones, but that's because I'd only been exposed to a few with the texture of a dog biscuit. As I've expanded my horizons, I've come to realize scones are amazing when baked correctly, and there are all kinds of crazy things you can do with them. Things like stuffing them full of Oreos. If you have half a cup of pumpkin on hand, these scones will be a good decision. If you don't have half a cup of pumpkin, going to the store and getting it will be a good decision. Seriously, do it.

(Displayed on pedestal from Trifle Bowl)

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons buttermilk, plus a few extra teaspoons if the dough is too dry
1 large egg

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, food processor or your hands, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk, and egg.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Form the dough into a ball. Cut in half. Pat out each dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and form them into 1-inch thick circles. Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into eighths. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14 or 15 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Makes 16 scones. (Jenny-Lyn's note: I made mine huge and only got 8.)

Maple Icing

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavor

In a large saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil, turn off heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Whisk and add in 2/3 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Frost scones.

Let's start with the Smooth-Edge Can Opener. So many of my customers have purchased one for themselves and come back for more after using it. If only I had a dollar for every time I've heard, "I've got to get one of those for my daughter-in-law!" But seriously, this is the best can opener in the world. Smooth can edges, crust-free opener... win.

Look familiar? Yes, pretty much every baking experience begins the same way for me, but this is the reason I still enjoy it. I'm quick and efficient because I don't stop in the middle of a recipe to find a random ingredient. Nope, I get it all out at the beginning and then just add things as the recipe directs. It's a great method, and I highly recommend it. Here's what I'm using: Pinch Bowls, Measuring Spoon Set, Adjustable Measuring Spoons, Measuring Cup Set, Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, Measure-All Cup, Stainless Mixing Bowls, Korintje Cinnamon, Large Cutting Board. I love kitchen tools.

The Pastry Blender is a must-have for cutting butter. Before I had this, I shyed away from anything that involved this step because it was so annoying with a fork. Butter = happiness.

Since I was making pumpkin scones, I decided to get crazy and cut them out with my new pumpkin cutters, a Pampered Chef Outlet find. The set comes with a pumpkin, a ghost, and a bat, and it's only available until the 31st. Less than two dollars! Unfortunately, I made my scones super thick and lost the pumpkin stems in baking. These are on the Rectangle Stone from the Stoneware Collection, and that's what I credit with their perfect baking. The bottoms were beautifully golden to match the tops, and the insides were moist. Put simply, perfection happened in my kitchen.

I'll be repeating these on a regular basis. This recipe is a home run with no room for improvement. The pumpkin flavor is clear without being overwhelming, and the maple glaze compliments it perfectly. If you find yourself searching pumpkin scone recipes online, stop now. The internet has led you to a good place.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

It's football season, and that means football food. These grilled stuffed jalapeños will do two things for you: 1) Make you wish you'd seen this recipe sooner and 2) Lead your team to victory. At least that's the case if you're an Alabama fan in 2011. I made these; my team won. Correlation? My dad and I threw these on the grill a few weeks ago, and we were thrilled with the result. Seriously, these are good.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

2 slices center-cut bacon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, minced
14 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded (GLOVES!!!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped seeded tomato
Cooking spray

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon. Combine crumbled bacon, cheeses, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl, stirring to combine. Divide cheese evenly and fill the pepper halves.

3. Place peppers, cheese side up, on grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill peppers 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned.

4. Place the peppers on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.

There are a lot of jalapeños to slice and seed, so let me go ahead and warn you to wear gloves. Not a glove but gloves. It was because of my stubborn "oh, I can just wear one glove for getting the seeds out" attitude that led me to soak my left hand in milk a couple of hours later. Unless you enjoy burning pain under your fingernails, glove both your hands. Bad memories. Moving on! My whole peppers are in a Stainless Mesh Colander, and the seeds are in a 2-Cup Prep Bowl. The 5" Santoku from the Forged Cutlery Collection is laid out on the Large Grooved Cutting Board, and everything is over the sink to maximize counter space.

I love a simple recipe, especially when it leads to amazing appetizers. I'm using the Citrus Press, the Coarse Grater, the Garlic Press, the Measure-All Cup, and an Adjustable Measuring Spoon for my filling.

The Classic Batter Bowl is perfect for this mixture, and its clear sides let you see all the pretty colors through the bowl. You know, pretty like the color of bacon. Give this a good stir with the Mix 'n Scraper, and you'll be ready to fill the peppers in no time.

I used the scoop and spread method to fill the peppers: Small Scoop of filling and then spread later. Put them on the Grill Tray as you fill them, and get ready for magic.

Unless you have a brand new grill, it's difficult to make a grilling picture look pretty. Cover the Grill Tray with foil, and let these babies cook. The Grilling Tongs are helpful for checking the peppers, and they're long enough to keep your hands and arms away from the heat.

Roll Tide, and make peppers. Wear gloves.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

What should you do when you're sitting at home craving sweets but trying to resist? Work on a blog post for your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, of course! I made these for someone last week, and I've longed for them each day since. This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, so that alone tells you they're worth trying. I'll leave the professionals to explain why this is technically the best recipe ever, but let me just say these cookies are game changers. I don't have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe because I'm one of those weirdies who bakes by mood, but if I had to choose just one to stick with from here out, this would be the one. These are rich, decadent, and worthy of gifting. I guess what I'm saying is that if you do something awesome for me, I'll bake you some fab chocolate chip cookies.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (use scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Hello, beautifully measured ingredients! Brown sugar, could you get your act together and avoid spilling on the Cutting Board? You're embarrassing. Ok, so here's the rundown on what I'm using: Measuring Cup Set, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoon Set, Pinch Bowls, 1-Cup Prep Bowls, Stainless Mixing Bowls, Stainless Whisk, 10" Executive Skillet, Mix 'n Scraper. I love making sure I have everything needed before getting started. Ever begin mixing batter only to realize you're out of eggs? Thought so.

Browning butter isn't difficult, but it's easy to second guess yourself if you've never done it. Just add your butter to a pan over medium-high heat, and let the butter cook. Continue swirling the pan, but don't stir it with a spoon. The butter will sizzle, and then it will stop. The color will turn brown, and the butter will smell nutty. At this point, take it off the heat to avoid burning it. I'm cooking this in the 10" Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection.

This is the mix 30 seconds / rest 3 minutes / repeat 2 times step. Notice you don't need a hand mixer, just a Stainless Whisk. I know it might be tempting to short cut here, but let me discourage you. By following this recipe exactly, you'll end up with perfect cookies that don't dry out the next day. Part of the magic is whatever goes on while this batter mixes, rests, and mixes again.

I baked my cookies six at a time on Cookie Sheets to give them plenty of space. When it comes to baking from scratch, don't shortcut on your tools. The Pampered Chef's baking products will blow your mind, whether you're using our line of metal or Stoneware.

3 stages: Scooped cookies, baked cookies, cooled cookies. The ones on the Cooling Rack tempted me like crazy, but you'll be happy to know they made it to their new home untouched.

If you're looking for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe to try, don't ignore this one! I'd say they're the absolute most satisfying cookies I've ever had, and trust me - I've had a lot of cookies.

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E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
Call me up: (205) 585-2464

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dirt 'n Worms

Dirt cake: Layers of chocolate or vanilla pudding with crushed Oreos
Best dirt cake: This recipe
Dirt 'n worms: Dirt cake (any way you make it) with gummy worms added

I still remember the first time I had dirt 'n worms. I was in preschool, and a classmate's mother brought clear plastic cups of it for everyone. Maybe it was a birthday or Halloween, but the details don't matter. What matters is that I was five years old, and my food had gummy worms in it! Since then, I've had a few different versions of this dessert, and the one I'm posting is hands down my favorite. The extra rich pudding mixture takes this from kid food to adult delicacy. My friend Chas is the original source for this recipe, and all I can do is say thanks. I owe you big!

(Displayed in the Trifle Bowl)

Dirt 'n Worms

Package of Oreos, finely chopped
2 small packs of vanilla pudding
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups milk
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs. butter
16 oz. cool whip
Gummy worms

Chop cookies and set aside.
In LARGE bowl, combine softened cream cheese, butter, and sugar.
In a different bowl, combine pudding mix and milk and beat thoroughly.
Mix two combinations in the larger bowl, and beat.
Fold in Cool Whip
Layer pudding mixture with cookies and gummy worms in trifle bowl.

Ingredient #1: An entire package of Oreos. How did I make it through this without eating a single cookie? Well, I have obsessive tendencies, and I knew I could do stacks of three if I didn't ruin it by disturbing the cookie count. So it was either eat zero cookies, three cookies, six cookies, etc., and I opted for zero. Too much information about myself?

The Food Chopper really does make quick work of the cookie crushing, and it's also a great stress reliever. Place cookies in the base, and pound away! Then everything comes apart to go in the dishwasher. My chopper is on the Cutting Board, and my cookie crumbs are in a Small Batter Bowl.

If you don't have a bowl of these guys, don't call your recipe dirt 'n worms. It's not a problem, but you need to use the term "dirt cake." That said, always have a bowl of these guys; it's the right thing to do. My worms are in a 2-Cup Prep Bowl, and I've got milk in an Easy Read Measuring Cup in the background.

It's about to get good! Let the layering begin... The pudding mixture is in a Stainless Mixing Bowl with the Mix 'n Scraper, and it's going to be the first layer in the Trifle Bowl. Layers are as follows: pudding, Oreos, worms - repeat.

You don't have to get crazy with the worms. Just add them on top of each cookie layer, and then throw a few on top. Use as many or as few as you want, but add extra when serving to five-year-olds. Trust me.

The Trifle Bowl is one of my favorite products for many reasons, but I guess my favorite feature is its ability to go baseless. It locks on the base for presentation, but then it comes off for cleaning (hi, dishwasher) and storage. Also, how about that lid? This is all on top of the fact that it's a heavy glass bowl that won't chip and boasts a 20-cup capacity to handle all standard trifle recipes without spilling over. Need I say more?

Ok, it's October, and Halloween is around the corner. I know everyone will have kids' parties to attend and all kinds of things. This is a really simple dessert that comes together quickly and makes kids think they're eating something special. Plus, as proven my my friends and me at every event we had between the years 2002 and 2007, adults love it, too. Welcome to your new addiction.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

Dear Fall,
Welcome to my life. You've been missed the last several months as I've suffered Alabama's heat and humidity. Please get legit quickly, and feel free to stay a while.

These are my favorite pumpkin cupcakes, and I think they'll be yours if you try them. Two key players: brown butter and cinnamon cream cheese icing. I discovered this recipe at Baked Perfection last fall, and it's served me well since then. When my friend Rachel and I planned a dinner for the singles group at our church this week, we figured pumpkin dessert would be a great finishing touch. We were right because there were only three of the seventy-five cupcakes left at the end of the night. Granted, these were two-bite size, but that's still some serious cupcake consumption! Several people at the dinner requested the recipe, so this post is for them... and for you. Because I like you.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground gloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. (For two-bite size, bake 13-15 minutes.)

Yield: 15 standard cupcakes

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla; mix until smooth.

The flour mixture contains my favorite spices of the season, so it's an automatic win. Everything is measured using the Measuring Spoon Set and the Measuring Cup Set, and I've got a Pinch Bowl and the Cutting Board each doing its thing.

Brown butter is just butter that's cooked until it turns brown and smells nutty. The rich smell will send you into a state of bliss, but there's nothing like the flavor hit inside the cupcakes. Anyway, Rachel is using the 8-Qt. Casserole from the Executive Cookware Collection and the Mix 'n Scraper. What a pro!

Every time I mix a batter, I'm shocked by how disgusting it looks. That's why I included this picture - I want to shock you. One nice thing about this recipe, however, is that it doesn't require a mixer, just a Stainless Whisk, a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and a little T.L.C.

The cupcakes are divided into liners with the Medium Scoop, and they're going to bake up beautifully on a Cookie Sheet. From here, the kitchen will begin to smell amazing, and Rachel and I will have to offer one another accountability to keep from eating all the cupcakes before the evening's feast. That's what friends are for, after all.

Fall vegetables and half an old banana set the mood for baking. These guys are cooling to perfection on a Cooling Rack, but I have to admit one of them didn't make it to see the icing. No, he was eaten by two girls who just couldn't take the temptation any longer. That's all I'll say about that.

Rachel and I worked like fiends on our Sunday meal. It was a huge undertaking, but we said early on that when everything was finished and the kitchen was cleaned we would get one cupcake each. Five hours later, after what I can only describe as organized chaos, we loaded the car, got ready to transport the food, and sat down to enjoy our reward. I don't think I've ever savored anything like each of the four bites I squeezed out of my dessert, and I'm assuming the same for Rachel. At least, that's the impression I got when I glanced over to see her closed eyes and content face. The aching feet and tired backs stopped for a couple of minutes, and all was right with the world.

Like the products you saw used?
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E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

My friends Bob and Courtney got married two years ago this month, and I still think about the fabulous shrimp and grits I had at their St. Simon's wedding. I now associate this Southern dish with two of my dearest friends and the perfect weekend I got to spend with them. So many happy memories equal one Big. Warm. Fuzzy.

This recipe is from Southern Living, and it's perfect. If something is good enough to be sold in North Carolina, it's good enough for me to try at home. All I can say is my expectations were met, and my friend Ashleigh and I ended up with a dinner during which we were each found speechless. I would drive to North Carolina, hunt down Crook's Corner, and hug Bill Smith if I wasn't afraid of scaring him to death. Mr. Smith, you're my hero. I owe you big, so hit me up if you're ever in Birmingham. I'll bake you some cookies or something.

Shrimp and Grits

The original recipe is from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook's Corner, the landmark Southern restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 21 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 bacon slices
1 pound unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Cheese Grits (Below)

1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

2. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour.

3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Cheese Grits
1 (14-oz.) can low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1. Bring first 3 ingredients and 1 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese and next 3 ingredients.

Everyone loves bacon, but only a small percentage of us are willing to admit it. I am seriously in love with this stuff, and I have become a master at cooking it. The secret? "Bacon, meet my stoneware and my oven." Thick-sliced bacon. 425 degrees. 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you like it. Drain. Try to avoid eating. Serve. For a full pack of bacon, I use the Large Bar Pan from the Stoneware Collection, but for fewer pieces (like when I practice self-control), I go with the Medium Bar Pan, seen here. The Chef's Tongs and Dots Dinner Plate served as my sidekicks, but the bacon was the star. Oh, bacon...

I enjoy cooking with friends something fierce, but I go absolutely nuts when I do the thing with someone who knows his or her way around the kitchen. Enter: Ashleigh. This girl is a pro in the kitchen, so this meal came together super quickly. Check her out with those green onions! Give her a Large Cutting Board and a 5" Santoku Knife, and she'll show you what's up with a smile!

This recipe, like most main dishes, moves quickly, so it's vital to have everything ready to go. Cooking this way is a blast, but cooking willy-nilly is annoying. You know what I'm talking about. Here's a quick rundown of what Ashleigh and I used: Large Cutting Board, 5" Santoku Knife, Adjustable Measuring Spoons, Garlic Press, Citrus Press, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, Measuring Cup Set, Pinch Bowl Set.

Buy fresh shrimp for maximum awesomeness. I'm sure you can use frozen shrimp in this recipe, but I think it's worth it to buy a pound of these guys to avoid the salty flavor that's so difficult to get out of frozen shrimp. Anyone have a tip for that? Seriously, tell me what to do! Moving on... This is a Stainless Mesh Colander, and I love it.

The Dots Medium Bowl from the Simple Additions Collection is perfect for dredging the shrimp in their flour mixture. That look on my face - the one that seems like sheer bliss - is sheer bliss. You should smell my kitchen at this point! AMAZING!

Things are coming together in the 10" Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection. It's about to get nuts in my kitchen, and all I can do is try to control the anticipation taking me over.

Ashleigh is bringing the cheese grits together in a 4-Qt. Casserole from the Executive Cookware Collection, and the Stainless Silicone Whisk is keeping her from scratching the non-stick coating. Cooking is fun, but cooking with friends is almost too much for me to take! Soooo great!

The only reason Ashleigh and I were able to pause long enough for this picture was this goat cheese bruschetta we'd just pigged out on. Appetizers are important, right? Anyway, our meal is served in Dots Pasta Bowls from the Simple Additions Collection, and we have Dots Small Beverage Glasses for the white wine which paired oh so well with this dish.

Want to make a date night meal that's easy to do at home and will save you a lot of money? Want to hang out with a friend to discuss life's important things like food and engagements? Want to gorge yourself on food that makes you think of precious friends' weddings and such? Welcome to shrimp and grits. Do this!

Like the products you saw used?
Shop Online 24/7 at
E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
Call me up: (205) 585-2464

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

If you never do anything of value again, make this cake. All I can say about this little beauty is that it truly is every bit as good as it looks, and it will be repeated in my home for years to come. This recipe is a keeper, if ever there were such a thing! My sister was in town for a week, and I asked if she'd be interested in baking something together before she left. That's when she mentioned the cake on a recent Southern Living cover that caught her eye and caused her to buy the magazine. I don't know who to thank more - Southern Living for publishing the magazine or Home Depot for selling it. All I know is that someone somewhere did me a solid by bringing this cake into my life. Welcome to a recipe I hope will blow your mind as it has blown mine.

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Batter
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)

Praline Frosting
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar (SIFT!)

1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.

2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.

3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.

4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

5. Prepare Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled cake.

I've mentioned my sister Betsy in several posts, but now I have photographic evidence that she exists. And now she's a real celeb because she's made it to Real Kitchen. Real Life.! Here, Betsy is using the Measuring Spoon Set to put her 2 tbsp. of flour in a Pinch Bowl for later use. One thing I love about baking with my sister is that she understands me unlike anyone else, and she gets that baking a cake without proper prep work is a no-go in my kitchen. When it comes to a recipe like this, one that's a little complicated and a lot of expensive, it's not worth the risk of adding multiple ingredients or leaving things out. This is especially important when baking with sisters because you get distracted by sister things and lose track of what's been done. Be safe, not sorry, just say no, and don't jump off a bridge just because others are doing it. Proper prep for fab results!

These are pecans. I'm going to toast them in a Medium Bar Pan, and then I'm going to finely chop them in a Manual Food Processor. These pecans, in return, are going to make my house smell like a little piece of heaven... the piece where pecans are toasted.

Quick shout-out to the Spice Turn-About! When it comes to recipes like this, the ones where you need multiple spices, it sure is nice when you can just spin until you find them. No more knocking fifty bottles out of the cabinet to find the all-spice!

Get your spice blend ready ahead of time, and you're ready to go when it needs to be added. Betsy prepped all of this with Pinch Bowls, Measuring Spoons, and an Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Her station is set up on a Cutting Board for less mess on my limited counter space... AKA: my stove. The cinnamon, by the way, is Korinje Cinnamon from the Pampered Pantry. It's the best cinnamon in the world, and I promise it takes recipes from good to great.

"Betsy, you've got to smell this!"

Apple time!!! Don't you love baking with apples? This is when it really hits that the seasons have changed, and the afternoons are crispy-cool. Ok, so I'm peeling the apples with the Vegetable Peeler, and then I'll move them through the most efficient apple station known to man. Prepare yourself to see 3 cups of chopped apples happen in no time flat!

I peeled the apples, and then Betsy wedged them using the Apple Wedger. Our highly effective station was set up on the Large Cutting Board across my sink. Let me say this about the Apple Wedger: Don't make pie without it. See why?

Apple wedges are in a Stainless Mesh Colander after getting a little touch-up from the 3 1/2-inch Paring Knife, and then they go in the Manual Food Processor to become "finely chopped" before getting dumped in the Small Batter Bowl for measuring. The Mini Mix 'n Scraper in the Small Batter Bowl is specifically designed for the Manual Food Processor, by the way. Hello, cooking with apples!

One thing I like about this recipe is that the cream cheese filling is the only thing for which you need a mixer. The cake batter and icing are just done with spoons and whisks. I'm Jenny, and I'm into the simple things. Ok, so the filling is in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and I'm adding flour from a Pinch Bowl. Behind this, you can see other ingredients measured into 1-Cup Prep Bowls, 2-Cup Prep Bowls, and Measuring Cups. The Double-Strength Madagascar Vanilla is one reason we got such a good, rich flavor in this filling as well as the frosting. It's amazing, and it only requires half-measurements because it's double-strength... four ounces just became eight.

Thick batter is no match for Betsy or her Bamboo Spoon. This is the point when Betsy and I knew we had a winner because this batter was absolutely amazing! I guess this is when I should mention my disclaimer about consuming raw eggs, but I don't have one of those. Eat this batter, people! It's so good!

Enter: Stoneware Fluted Pan. If you don't have this pan, let me encourage you to get one right now. I've had customer after customer tell me what a difference this has made in their pound cakes, etc. Stoneware = even heat distribution = beautiful, moist cakes = you're someone's hero. Betsy used the Medium Scoop to get the cream cheese batter on top of the cake batter (only 2/3 for now, mind you), and she was able to leave the border around the outside. That's important to keep from having cream cheese stick out the sides of your cake.

See what I mean about the Stoneware Fluted Pan's results? When using this pan, wipe it with a bit of butter or shortening, but don't spray it with Pam. Bake your cake, let it rest about 15-20 minutes in the pan, and run a Skinny Scraper around the sides. Then flip the cake onto a Cooling Rack, and you're good to go! Here I've got the icing ingredients in a 3-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection, and I'm going to "constantly stir" with the Stainless Silicone Whisk. This thing has saved me many a pan scratch!

I love my sister, but I love her even more when she's holding a Square Plate full of apple-cream cheese bundt cake! This really was a fun cake to make, and it's going to be on repeat in my recipe binder for sure! Grab your sister, have a good laugh, and bake a cake!

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