Saturday, February 18, 2017

Southern Biscuits and Gravy























I’m from Maryland but when it comes to food, I am a true southern girl through and through. My Mom was born in Kentucky and raised in Tennessee and all I ever knew was her southern cooking growing up. You can’t claim to be southern if you don’t know this next recipe. I am crazy about Gravy and Biscuits and make them all the time.

Southern Gravy and Biscuits

Milk Gravy

1/4 cup bacon drippings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour2 cups milk, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

I like to fry up some bacon for a side dish so I can use the drippings.  Once you fry it or bake it, remove the bacon to a plate.  What you have in the skillet then will be the base for your gravy.




















Using the same frying pan that you cooked your bacon in, add flour to the drippings and whisk until it begins to turn a light brown. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook until the gravy is smooth and thick.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.




















Buttermilk Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold butter, cut into small chunks about the size of sugar cubes
1 cup very cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Toss the butter chunks into the flour mixture.   Using a fork or pastry cutter, mash the butter chunks into quarter-sized pieces.  
Mix the cold buttermilk into the flour/butter mixture, tossing briskly with a fork to evenly distribute the buttermilk so no dry bits of flour are visible.  The dough will be sticky but should clear the sides of the bowl.



















Scrape the biscuit mixture out onto a lightly-floured work surface and gather, with floured hands, into a ball.  Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.  Fold into thirds and rotate dough 90 degrees, dusting work surface with flour.  Roll out to about 1-inch thick. 

Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, press down on the cutter, but do not turn or twist, dipping the cutter or glass into the flour after each cut.  Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet, close together.  Bake approximately 15 to 20 minutes, without opening the oven door, until the biscuits have risen and the tops are golden brown.  Remove from oven and split or cut the biscuits in half and top with the prepared hot Milk Gravy. Serve warm.

Biscuits Making Hints and Tips:
For tender and flaky biscuits, make sure the butter is as cold as you can get it. I keep mine in the freezer.  Try to use your hands as little as possible. Excess handling causes tough biscuits.  

Always bake biscuits on cookie sheets or pans without sides.  The heat will circulate more evenly than on pans with sides.  Remove from oven and immediately remove from baking sheet.












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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cheesecake Brownies




















I guess if I had to choose which one of all my brownie recipes I might like the best, this one would definitely be on the list.  Notice I can’t commit?  I have so many that are so good that it’s hard to choose just one. But there’s something about this one that sends it way up on that list.  It’s a true marriage of moist homemade chocolate brownie, with a layer of rich and creamy vanilla cheesecake, topped with a decadent, deep rich chocolate ganache... okay its way up there! 

Cheesecake Brownies

Brownies 

2 cups sugar 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
2/3 cup cocoa powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
5 eggs 
2 sticks of butter, melted 
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9 x 2" baking pan. 

Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Beat flour mixture and eggs on low speed using an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally and mixing until smooth. Slowly add melted butter and beat until just combined: do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make your cheesecake filling. 




















Cheesecake filling

3/4 cup sugar 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
4 (8-ounce) packs of cream cheese 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
2 tablespoons sour cream 

Cream sugar, cornstarch, and cream cheese in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract, mixing thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl with each addition. 
Fold in heavy cream and sour cream. 

Spread batter on top of already baked brownies. Bake until cheesecake is lightly browned and firm, about 45 - 50 minutes. Cool completely and then refrigerate at least for one hour before serving.




















Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat cream and butter on stove, but do not allow to boil. Remove from stove and pour over chocolate. Stir till completely combined. Add powdered sugar and whisk until combined and smooth. Pour over cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight, then cut into bars to serve.




















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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

♥ Banana Split Dessert















I love this dessert. I can remember my Mom making it from the time I was too little to even know what it was.  But I know now and I love making it.  It is so cold and creamy and just the best thing out there to satisfy every decadent need!  This is a keeper my friends.



Banana Split Dessert

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 whole crackers crushed)
1 1/4 Cups Sugar, Divided
1/3 Cup Butter, Melted
 2 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 Can (20 oz) crushed Pineapple, drained
1 cup strawberries, sliced thin
4 ripe bananas
2 cups cold Milk
1 Large box Vanilla Pudding
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 x13 inch pan. Set aside.

Beat together remaining sugar and cream cheese until well mixed. Carefully spread over cookie crust. Top with pineapple. Slice bananas and layer over pineapple. Add sliced strawberries over bananas.

In another bowl mix together cold milk and vanilla pudding and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Remove 1 cup of whipped cream and mix into pudding. Layer pudding over bananas. Spread remaining whipped cream over pudding and sprinkle with huts. Chill for 5 hours before serving.

NOTE: You can also use 1 carton (8 ounces) Cool Whip, thawed instead of the whipped cream.

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♥ STRAWBERRY MINI CAKES














This little cakes are just the right size for that pop in your mouth deliciousness.  A pretty treat for Valentine's day too! 
Strawberry Mini Bundt Cakes
 1 cup of flour
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup of sliced strawberries (or much as you wish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pans with baking spray and set aside.

In a bowl mix your sugar, eggs and soft butter. Add the flour slowly to the mix followed by the milk and lemon zest. Lastly, fold the strawberries into your batter.


Pour batter into your mini molds, bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Decorate them with powdered sugar and extra strawberries on top! 

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Frozen Chocolate Mousse Bombe






















This is one of those recipes I make for special occasions. It is my show stopper when I walk into the room and I love to hear all the ooohhs and aaaahhs.  It is the perfect cake for Christmas with a few berries around the outside or the perfect Valentines day dessert with some hearts sprinkled on top.  It’s really not hard to make and you’re guest will love it.

Frozen Chocolate Mousse Bombe

Cake:

1 stick unsalted butter
8 oz Ghirardelli chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9" cake pan with parchment and grease the bottom and sides with a bit of butter. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a glass bowl in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring at each break until everything is smooth. Set aside.

Place the eggs, yolk and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted whisk on high until light in color and slightly thickened (about 5 min). Using a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate and butter mixture just until it's incorporated. Try not to mix too much or you'll lose the volume you just whipped into it. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly and bake for about 25 min, or until a toothpick in the center comes up clean. Cool completely at room temp before removing from the pan. Set aside. 
 
Mousse

8 oz Ghirardelli chocolate (divided), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons sugar
3 egg whites
2 cups heavy cream

Melt 5 oz of the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave at 20 second intervals , stirring at each stop until it's smooth. Set aside. 

Combine coffee, honey, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 min. While the syrup is cooking combine the egg whites and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl of a mixer and when the syrup is almost ready, start whipping the egg whites on high and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

Your syrup should be ready now, so lower the speed to low and slowly add it to the egg whites. Then turn up the speed to high and whip until very thick (about 4 min).  Carefully fold in the melted chocolate. 

In a separate bowl whisk the heavy cream on medium-high until stiff peaks form, then fold that into the chocolate meringue until it's uniform. Keep in the fridge until needed.  Melt the remaining 3 oz chocolate the same way as before, let it cool a bit and transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 cups of the chocolate mousse. Fold with a rubber spatula until combined.

Lightly spray the inside of a 9 inch large bowl with non-stick and line with plastic wrap, making sure to leave lots of wrap hanging over the sides. Spoon the chocolate mousse into the bowl and use an offset spatula to make sure it's spread evenly and that there are no air bubbles.























Top with the cake and press down a bit to make sure there are no air bubbles or gaps trapped in between. Cover the top with the ends of the plastic wrap, adding more if needed and put in the freezer. It will need to chill at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

When you are ready to assemble the bombe, place a cooling rack on a baking sheet.   Lay a 9 inch round parchment paper on rack. Remove the bowl from the freezer, unfold the plastic wrap from the bottom and flip onto  the paper. If the dome doesn't pop right out of the bowl, soak a towel in hot water, wrap it around the bottom and sides of the bowl and hold it there for a few seconds, then try to unmold again.  You may need to tug gently at the plastic wrap to help it along.

Glaze:

8 oz  Ghirardelli chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salted caramel sauce, optional

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream, honey, and butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat and stir to combine.  Stir constantly so that milk doesn’t boil over. When you see small bubbles start to form around the edges take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate in your bowl. Let it stand for a minute and then stir with a whisk until smooth. 


Pour the glaze over the bombe, letting excess drip down onto the baking sheet. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with salted caramel sauce if desired.  Return it to the freezer to set for 30 minutes. 

Store the bombe in the freezer, but take it out 20 min or so before serving to let it soften a bit, otherwise it will be really hard to cut. Enjoy!






















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