Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cream Cheese Brownies with Toffee Topping

Sometimes you want something rich and chewy and creamy and nutty all at the same time.  This one pretty much does the trick my friends! 

Cream Cheese Brownies with Toffee Topping 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon whole milk

Cream Cheese Frosting
5 oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar


1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup chopped Heath Bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper and then spray with non stick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together granulated sugar, light-brown sugar and melted butter until combine. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until blended. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combine, add in milk and mix just until combine, then add remaining flour mixture and mix just until combine (batter will be very thick).

Pour batter into prepared 8 x 8 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until center is nearly set. Allow to cool completely before frosting.


Cream Cheese Frosting

In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth, about 1 minute.


Once brownies are frosted, drizzle melted chocolate on top and then sprinkle on chopped Heath Bar. Makes 12 brownies.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

One night I saw a commercial from a big potato chip company out there that was advertising chocolate covered potato chips? They were only available for a limited time at Target. I thought, “Wow!  This sounds interesting.  Here’s a sweet and salty chip that I must have.”  So I ran to Target and they had one bag left on the shelf.  I bought them and ate the entire bag because they were crazy good!  Of course the bag was only 5 ounces.  Later I would go back a buy more!

Target doesn't have them anymore. But I do! Look what I decided to make when I got that next craving for chocolate covered potato chips. I mean, what was I thinking back then?  They are so easy to make! And mine are even better!

Oh My Gosh these are fantastic! Just a little salt with chocolate...yum! Caution: very addicting.

Homemade Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

1½ cups chocolate chips
1 (15 ounce bag) bag rippled or ridged potato chips

Place chocolate chips in a heat resistant bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Don’t put too make water in, you want to make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.

Completely melt and stir the chocolate just until smooth. Do not overcook.  Remove from heat and begin dipping the chips, about half way. Shake off any excess chocolate and place chips onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.

Allow chocolate covered chips to dry completely before serving. You can put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes to speed it up!

Next, eat the whole container!  Just kidding!  Wait until nobody's watching.

Double Chocolate Mousse

Mousse is such an easy and elegant dessert to make and everyone loves it. I decided to combine two of my favorites together to make a striking presentation. My friends loved it!

Chocolate Mousse

For the milk chocolate mousse

 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites (see note below)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Chopped nuts, to serve
Freshly whipped cream

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat, stirring until no lumps remain. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time until well combined. Set aside.

In a second large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and set aside to further cool.

In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Once chocolate mixture is cool, fold in whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

NOTE...  For those of you who are worried about using raw egg whites in your mousse:   You can whip a cup of heavy cream and fold that in your chocolate instead. But the secret is to FOLD it and not STIR it in

White Chocolate Mousse

1 cup of good quality white chocolate
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream (full cream)
1 egg white
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons boiling water

Break the white chocolate into pieces and place into the blender but do not start the blender yet. In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream until it just begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Pour it into the blender over the chopped chocolate and blend on medium high speed until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy...about 2-3 minutes. Add the pure vanilla and blend for another 20 seconds. Turn off the blender and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

In a small bow, sprinkle gelatin over 4 tablespoons of cold water and mix well. Add the 4 tablespoons of boiling water and stir constantly until dissolved. Set gelatin mixture aside. Next, beat the egg white for 2-3 minutes. Add the slightly cooled chocolate cream mixture and dissolved gelatin to the beaten egg white and mix well. Chill mousse in the refrigerator until set and ready to serve.

When ready to serve, spoon dark chocolate mousse into a bowl and then lightly fold in white chocolate. Sprinkle with chocolate chips or curls.

  Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Snickers Roll Ups

It all started with that half a bag of Snickers fun sized candy bars leftover from Halloween.  And that can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in the refrigerator that was  getting close to the expiration date.  It ended up being so delicious...so decadent...so incredibly good!

Snickers Roll Ups

1 (8 ounce) can Pillsbury Crescent Dinner rolls
6-8 snack size  Snickers candy bars
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Glaze (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Separate dough into 8 triangle pieces. Cut each candy bar into quarters. Place chopped candy on the widest side of triangle and then roll it up. 

Start at shortest side of each triangle and roll to opposite point. Pinch edges of dough to seal. Brush each roll with melted butter and place them on an ungreased baking pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Cool slightly. 

In small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients until smooth, drizzle over warm rolls. 

Photographs are the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Raspberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Raspberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cornmeal
teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped pecans 
½ cup 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, nuts and salt and gradually add to butter mixture until blended (dough will come together). 
Pinch off the dough and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press centers of each down with your thumb or end of wooden spoon and bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each indentation.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly brown. Cool on rack for 1 minute, then cool completely.

Photographs are the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Caramelized Shallots

I saw this recipe the other day while watching the cooking show. Ina Garten made it look so easy...so I said why not?  I looked up the recipe and saw glorious reviews of this dish. I had some wonderful Star Fine Foods Red Wine Vinegar in the pantry and some fresh shallots. It sounded good. It looked delicious....so I made it.  And oh my gosh was it delicious.  You will love this simple recipe my friends and I promise you will make it often.  Shallot are glazed and so sweet their almost like candy!  Savory sweet!  I ate a whole bowl!

Caramelized Shallots                                                 

6 tablespoons butter
2 pounds fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Star Fine Foods Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan, add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Place the saute pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender. Season to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.

Photographs are the property of and copyrighted to Welcome Home 2014.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, The Food Network

Friday, November 7, 2014

Maryland Style Steamed Shrimp

Who doesn't love shrimp!  And there's nothing better than the way we make our steamed shrimp in Maryland.  We load them down with Old Bay Seasoning and then steam them in Beer and oh my goodness you've never tasted anything like them.  I get my shrimp from Aunt Margaret's Crab Cakes and Seafood because I know they are the best. Shipped in a big 5 pound box right to my front door at a cost way below market price! And when you enter the link and enter the special code for Welcome Home you get an even lower price!

 Click on this link and then add discount code AM224 at check out to see how much your discount will be!


Maryland Style Steamed Shrimp

1/2 cup beer (you can also use apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon of celery seed
4 cups of water (stay beneath the steaming basket or rack)
1/2 cup OLD BAY® Seasoning
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tails on

Prepare Shrimp by de-veining them.  Leave the tails on.

Sprinkle a generous amount of Old Bay seasoning on shrimp and toss to cover well. Set aside.

In the bottom of your steamer, mix beer, celery seed and 1/2 tablespoon of Old Bay. Bring to boil on medium heat.

Lay shrimp in your steaming basket and sit on top of boiling liquid.

Cover and steam 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Remove to a plate and serve with your favorite cocktail sauce.

Don't have a steaming pot?   Make one!   Use an 8 court stock pot for the bottom and a metal colander for your basket.  Cover and steam!  Works great!

For a limited time, get 15% off anything you order at Aunt Margaret's! Use code AM224 at the time of checkout.


Photographs are the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

ThermoWorks ChefAlarm

When people ask me what is the most essential tool to have in any kitchen, I tell them a digital cooking thermometer.  Because cooking without a good digital thermometer is like driving a car without headlights. No kitchen is complete without one.  

Have you ever roasted that Thanksgiving turkey for hours and just as your guests arrive, you cut into it to find it hasn't finished cooking?  

Do you find yourself standing over a grill wondering if those big beautiful steaks are going to be over cooked or under cooked? How about that beautifully dressed crown pork roast that seems like it's taking forever to get done?  Or that wonderful rib roast that you are hoping to get that perfect medium rare like they serve in restaurants. Even hamburger has to be cooked to a certain temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that can make you and your family sick.  Cooking thermometers and meat thermometers take the guesswork out of cooking so your food is cooked perfectly.

We can only guess how many millions of dollars are wasted on overcooked food. For years I wasted my money on cheap thermometers I got at retail stores only to find they were just not worth the money.  I spent a lot of time sticking, cutting, poking and always guessing whether or not my dish was done.  I have spent countless hours pulling that beautiful roast out of the oven and sticking in that huge prong and watch the juices pour out.  Then it would go back and forth in and out of the oven as I guess at the temperature.  I assumed all thermometers were alike and eventually I had a kitchen drawer full of them.  Then one day I was offered the change to review a ThermoWorks Chef Alarm Thermometer and Wow what a difference!

From the minute I opened the box I knew this was a high quality product. And with my very first use of the ThermoWorks Chef Alarm, I was truly amazed at how fast & accurate it was!  I made a pork shoulder and instead of inserting the probe and waiting forever for the temperature to register, I saw the temperature instantly. I began using it for everything I cooked.  I made steaks on the grill and got that perfect medium rare without any guess work! I made a simple roast chicken and it was cooked to perfection.  I found I could use it on other things too....like candy, bread, and every other recipe that I had to watch the temperature on.  

I am so impressed!  I'm telling you it's like having a babysitter in the kitchen!  I love the fact that when I am busy or distracted, it keeps my dinner from being ruined!   Here are the things I love most about my ThermoWorks Chef Alarm:

  •  I love that it comes in a high quality zippered hard case that holds everything perfectly and I don’t have to worry about misplacing anything.
  • I love that it's so user friendly and not so intimidating as most other thermometers are.
  • It features a splash Proof design suitable for commercial kitchens
  • It comes with the Pro-series temperature probes that measures temperatures accurately.

  • I love the yellow one I got but it comes in 9 different colors.
  • I like the ability to be able to select the temperatures I want, and not have to deal with preset temperatures that all my previous thermometers had.
  • It includes a Pro-series high temperature cooking cable that can measure temperatures of up to 700 degrees
  • I love that it has adjustable volumes that I can hear all over the house no matter where I am. Up to 92 decibels! 
  • It has a high volume alert for my meats and other roasted items and a low volume sound when I am waiting for something to cool.
  • It has a count down and count up timer
  • It has really big numbers and a backlight so I can see it when I grill at night.
  • I love that it makes a perfect gift for anyone on my Christmas list that cooks!  

I highly recommend this product! Everything about the Chef Alarm is superior. It has worked superbly in every application we have tried.  I have had so many cheap thermometers in the past that have let me down. You know they say, “good things aren't cheap and cheap things are seldom good”….the Chef Alarm is a perfect example of how it pays to invest in a tool that will not let you down.

Click on this link to buy yours before the holidays.  You’ll be glad you did!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Boston Cream Whoopie Pies

My Mom used to make the best Boston Cream Pie...wonderful pastry cream sandwiched between two layers of yellow cake and topped with wonderful chocolate. But I could never eat an entire pie so I decided to play a little with her recipe and make some Boston Cream Whoopie Pies and they are just perfect! You'll love this recipe! 

Boston Cream Whoopie Pies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a larger bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Add in the oil and the eggs one at a time beating to blend in each egg. Stir in half of the flour mixture and then add your buttermilk and vanilla extract. Finally, add the remaining flour, mixing just until all ingredients are blended well.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop batter into rounds onto prepared baking sheet, as you would for cookie dough. Cakes will spread out while baking. You can make these as large or small as you like. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cake is set and springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Pastry Cream

1/2 tablespoon butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream (whipping cream or full cream)
7 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
pinch of salt

In bowl, combine eggs, sugar & cornstarch. Whisk until light in color and set aside. In heavy bottom saucepan, bring the cream, milk and the butter to a boil. Then turn down your heat to low and slowly pour in your egg mixture whisking as you pour. Continue stirring for about a minute until custard has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt. Pour custard in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so film does not develop. Refrigerate for several hours until thickened.

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

Break up the chocolate into small pieces & place in medium bowl. Heat the cream & butter until very hot, but not quite boiling. Pour the cream & butter over the chocolate & whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is shiny, creamy & smooth. Let the ganache sit for just a few minutes to thicken.

Now pair up the whoopie cakes matching them up to equal sizes that will fit together well. Take one half of each of the whoopie pies and spread about 1 tbsp chocolate over the rounded portion of the cake. Allow to set up at room temperature. You can also dip them in chocolate as I did.

Fill a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off with the pastry cream and pipe a generous amount (2-3 tbsp) onto the flat portion of the cakes that are not covered with chocolate. Top each with a chocolate covered cake.


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon half-and-half or 1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the powdered sugar and half and half or cream and stir until the sugar is completely absorbed by the cream. Add the teaspoon of vanilla extract. I went a little nuts with my drizzle but you can make it as pretty as you like!

Photographs are copyrighted and the property of Welcome Home.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Now we can't have Thanksgiving dinner without these, can we? I'm sure you all have your own recipes, tips and tricks for making these but I will share my own basic recipe. It is simple and yet always a crowd pleaser.

Creamy Whipped Potatoes

4 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and peel your potatoes, then cut them into large chunks and place in a large pot. Pour in enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 to 2 inches and then add a generous amount of salt. You want the water to taste salty. Place the potatoes on a burner and set to high heat and allow the water to boil rigorously. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Usually about 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander and return them to the pot and cover them to keep them warm. In a sauce pan, combine the butter and cream and heat on low until butter has melted and mixture is hot.

With a hand mixture, begin to whip the potatoes. Add small amounts of butter and cream as you continuing mixer until the potatoes are fluffy and creamy and when you get the right consistency you like best. I usually use it all. As you are mixing add your salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with butter or gravy.