Holiday Appetizer: Baked Brie

thanksgiving-appetizer-brie

One of my favorite things to prepare (and eat) during the holidays anytime is brie. You can’t go wrong with a little cheese, wine and chocolate so that’s exactly what I did to start the Thanksgiving festivities at my house this year.  This recipe is so versatile, easy and delicious, it should be at every gathering. Plus you can prepare this ahead of time and just pop in the oven 30 minutes before serving.

What you need:

  • 1 round French brie
  • 1 container of crescent rolls
  • jelly/jam(s) of your choice – I used a cinnamon butter jelly and a hot jalapeno pepper jelly – the pepper jelly was a bigger hit!
  • nuts of your choice
  • apples/crackers to eat the brie with

crescent-wrapped-brieLay out the crescent rolls into a star shape with no openings on the bottom.  Place the brie round in the center.  I shaved off a little of the brie coating but kept most of it in tact.  If you cut it all off and leave holes in the rolls, you could end up with a melted cheese disaster on your pan which tastes great, but looks terrible.

Top the brie with jams/jellies of your choice.  I highly recommend a jalapeno pepper jelly. the sweetness of the crescent rolls (and apples) complements very will with the kick of the jelly.

Top that which chopped nuts of your choice.

Fold the star of the crescent rolls to cover the entire brie, make sure not to leave any openings.  I used the 90 calorie ones so I sprayed a little butter on the top for a golden crescent finish. I doubt the only 90 calories helped any bit this Thanksgiving, but it’s the thought that counts, right?! 🙂

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

For the apples, a quick trick to keep them from turning brown – Soak the apples in a bowl of cool salted water for just a minute or two.  Then put in a Ziploc bag until ready to use.  They won’t turn brown – I ate tasty apples for 3 days!

Serve with wine (I had a bottle of Decadence from Cooper’s Hawk) and mint chocolate no-bake cookies.

brie-and-chocolate

Happy Holidays!

Catch up and bake – Carrot Cake Cupcakes!

carrot-cake-coverWell hello, friends!  Many of you have emailed me about my whereabouts and thank you!  I’m here and hope to blog more often very soon. 🙂 Remember that little thing horrible-stressful-welcome-to-my-new-life-thing called the CPA exam I told you about awhile ago?  Well it has consumed my life and it paid off because I PASSED the first one!

That’s right, I passed!  Good thing is I’m 25% done, bad thing is that the clock starts ticking for when I have to pass the other 3!  I’ve been so focused on studying I haven’t done much of anything else… my days consist of going to work, studying on my lunch break, coming home and cranking out a few hours each night if possible.  Right now I’m studying for the Business section, BEC.  My exam is April 18th and I’m not stressed (well right now, at this moment anyway… don’t ask me tomorrow) because for the first time in this exam of my life, I’m caught up!

So what does one do when finally caught up on the work and it is an absolutely beautiful day?!  Play outside of course!  After finishing studying this morning, doing laundry, cleaning the house, walking the dog and going grocery shopping (man, being a grown up is rough!), I took a trip down to St. Augustine to hang out with a good friend and got to bring Emmie along for the ride!  To recap how much fun we had, I give you a few pictures…

emmie-car-ride

The top picture was on the way down to St. Augustine.  Emmie was so excited and curious.  The car ride home was, well you can see what happened!

When I got home I was having a hankering for baking.  I didn’t really care too much for eating the cupcakes (note: there has been NO mention of working on yet – yikes!) I just wanted to bake something!  I realized I haven’t posted a recipe for carrot cake, so guess what, carrot cake was the winner!  (If you’re interested in a slimmed down version, check out my Weight Watchers Carrot Cake Recipe)

The “you can save that recipe” Carrot Cake Cupcakes

carrot-cake-wetIngredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola (I used extra virgin olive oil because I had that)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups finely chopped carrots

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Chop up the carrots.  I bought the matchstick carrots and tossed them in my food processor.  The most efficient way to get this done!

carrot-cake-carrots

Mix the sugar, oil and eggs in a large mixer.

carrot-cake-mix

In a separate bowl, whisk remaining dry ingredients and then add to the wet mixture.  I think this is the key to the best carrot cake… it’s all about the spices.  the blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and make or break the taste!

carrot-cake-dry

Fold in the carrots and fill cupcake tins 3/4 full.  I used the jumbo sized tins and baked for about 30 minutes.  Adjust time as needed.

Frosting:  Cream Cheese frosting is probably my favorite frosting.  4 simple ingredients (butter, vanilla, cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar) combine perfectly!  Or can combine perfectly! I’ve had some not-so-perfect cream cheese frosting and appreciate the good ones even more!  You can find my frosting recipe on my blog post about red velvet cupcakes.

carrot-cake-frostingI chopped up pecans and added them as a garnish.  Enjoying my one (yeah, I only baked one of them tonight!) cupcake, while drinking hot tea (my new night time regime) and watching The Walking Dead season finale (my not-so-new Sunday night regime) was definitely the perfect end to a perfect day!

Being caught up, even if it is for only one day, is such an amazing feeling and I can’t wait until April 18!!  Well actually, I can.  I’m not completely prepared yet and have a lot more studying to do before then.  But when it does get here, expect more recipes and adventures! 🙂

If you were completely caught up with your stuff, how would you spend your day?

Bon Appetite!

 

 

Lessons learned with Chocolate PB Cheesecake Minis

PBC Cheesecake COVER

One of my favorite combinations are peanut butter and chocolate.  Hands down.  The.best.ever.  Just a few of my favorites…  peanut butter blossomspeanut butter cups, puppy chow,  cocoa crispy peanut butter treats, GF PB cheesecake…. all deliciously perfect.

I wanted to make mini chocolatey-PB desserts so I set off to make a yummy layered cheesecake.  I’m not sure if this is more for the PB lover or the chocolate lover.  If you are either, this is definitely a winner!  I learned a few lessons while making this dessert I thought were worth sharing…

Lesson #1 – When Life Hands You Lemons…

PBC Cheesecake Crust

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  When life hands you Oreos, make pie crust!  Well life didn’t really hand me lemons, or Oreos, but I did learn that Oreos can be used in place of chocolate pie crust!  The easiest way to make the crust on this dessert is to make it as a single pie and buy the premade chocolate pie crust.  This is definitely the easy route but it’s guaranteed goodness.  The second best would be chocolate graham crackers.  If this isn’t an option either, Oreos are a perfect substitution!!

PBC Cheesecake oreos

The Crust: 1 1/2 cups finely crushed Oreos or chocolate graham crackers, 1/2 cup melted butter and 2 tbsp sugar

Mix ingredients and scoop a small bit into the bottom on mini cupcake tins, lined with paper liners.  Mash the crust mixture down until it’s firm.  Step 1 done!  Bonus: chances are you will have leftovers for the Oreos so when life hands you Oreos… grab a glass of almond milk! 🙂

PBC Cheesecake crust 2

There are 2 parts to the filling – a chocolate layer and a peanut butter layer.

Ingredigents for the filling: 2 8oz packages of cream cheese,  1 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 2 cups chocolate morsels, 2 tbsp. almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla

Lesson #2 – If you think a bowl is going to be too small, it is. 

I overestimated the size of the bowl and underestimated the amount of the filling on this one.

In a bowl, beat 1 package of cream cheese until smooth.  Add peanut butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Now fold in 1 lightly beaten egg.  Set aside.  Baker’s note:  this is so so yummy!  I try not to eat batter because of that whole raw-egg-get-sick thing, but sometimes I just can’t help but get a bite. 🙂

PBC Cheesecake filling PB

For the chocolate layer, melt the morsels in the microwave carefully.  Add 1 package of cream cheese and stir.  Mix in milk and vanilla.  Fold in 2 lightly beaten eggs.

PBC Cheesecake filling choco

I ended up with two super small bowls and not a whole lot of room to do anything.  Slowing and carefully, the mixtures were complete but not without some spills.

PBC Cheesecake filling both

The final part is to layer the mixtures in the cups.

Lesson #3 – Mini cupcake tins aren’t tall enough for the perfect layers.

I’m a fan of chocolate-peanut butter-chocolate layers.  If using a single pie, this is the perfect order.  However, in these mini cups, I ended up running out of  chocolate and overflowing with crust.  Taste did not sacrifice here though!!

The right way: cover the bottom with half of the chocolate mixture.  Divide the PB mixture evenly among the cups.  Layer the remaining chocolate on top.

PBC Cheesecake stages

For the single pie – bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  For these mini cakes – bake for about 15-20 minutes.

The outer edges will be dry looking but the center will look darker and wet.  Cool on a wire rack and then chill for at least 4 hours.  Top with whipped cream before serving!   <— Taste > Looks (always)

PBC Cheesecake done

Bon Appetite!