Bailey’s Cheesecake

Today was my friend/future roommate’s 22nd birthday. We did the obligatory trip to the Nitty Gritty, a restaurant that everyone goes to on their birthday. The food isn’t that great, but you get a free mug and free drinks on your birthday, so it’s a pretty popular spot. Sadly I was planning, so it was a small “party” (not really a party, just dinner)… I’m not good at planning things… and it really stresses me out to be in charge of planning things… I guess I should work on that.

Anyway, I’m not sure why, but I decided to make a cheesecake. Maybe it’s because another friend recently gave me his springform pan. I’m not generally a huge fan of cheesecake, and they’re definitely not my forte when it comes to desserts/baking, but I thought it’d be interesting to try and this recipe got great ratings and sounded pretty delicious.

I followed this recipe from Allrecipes.com and it turned out alright. Throughout the process I was kind of scared that it was going to turn out horribly. I don’t own a handmixer or a stand mixer (weird given that I cook a lot), so mixing all the ingredients was pretty difficult. It certainly didn’t seem “well-blended” or “smooth” to me.

I also went to rock out with the Urbana 12 worship team and hear Paul Tokunaga speak and in the middle of the evening, so after mixing everything I shoved the bowl in the fridge and ran off for a few hours.

When I came back, I put the cake in the oven, and put a large water bath on the rack below it. I was reading lots of comments on the recipe about how that was supposed to prevent cracks, but sadly when I opened the oven there was a GIANT crack right in the middle! 😦 To cover it up I stealthily spread Cool Whip* on top and drizzled some chocolate sauce. All in all I think it’s a pretty good recipe. I hope my friend thinks so too- happy birthday!

*Normally I never would use Cool Whip because making homemade whipped cream is so easy and delicious (just whip heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together) but I was under a time contraint and as I mentioned before, I don’t have a handmixer or stand mixer, which would have made whipping the cream rather difficult.

Bacon Rangoon (aka Bagoons?)

So I have this theory. I don’t know if I’ve written about it before, but here it is: I believe that anything that tastes good with some form of carb (bread, noodles, rice, etc) would taste good wrapped in a wonton skin and deep fried. So far I’ve tested this theory with nutella, nutella and bananas, samosa filling, and peanut butter and chocolate.

I have plans on eventually trying:
– Tex-mex: ground beef with taco seasoning and cheese inside, served with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
– Italian: meat sauce, cheese (some combination of mozzarella, parmesan and/or ricotta). Kind of like a deep-fried ravioli I suppose.
– S’more: chocolate and marshmallow inside, dusted with graham cracker crumbs

Anyway, this time I decided to try something like crab rangoons, but instead of imitation crab meat, put bacon. All in all it turned out really well, although in the future I’m not sure I would use this folding style for wontons. When I was deep frying them, any air caught on the inside would cause them to balloon up and look mildly ridiculous. Folding them in half into triangles is much much much easier.

With them, I also made a dipping sauce. I really wanted to fit both secret ingredients in (see previous post for explanation), so I was trying to think of how to incorporate chocolate. I randomly thought of mixing ranch, chili powder and cocoa powder together. I ran this past a friend, and he thought it needed more of a kick, so I subbed in sriracha sauce for chili powder. When I tried it, I had absolutely no concept of what it would taste like, but it turned out to be pretty good. The ranch and cocoa powder offset the spiciness of the sriracha well, and none of the flavors was too overwhelming (although some people thought it was too spicy…). Sadly, I didn’t measure anything when I made it… but the proportions are mostly based on personal preference anyway.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
9 strips of bacon
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
~38 wonton wrappers
oil for frying (a lot)
ranch dressing
sriracha sauce
unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, garlic powder and paprika. Chop the bacon into small pieces (I used kitchen scissors and cut them into ~1 cm squares) and add them to the bowl. Mix until spices and bacon are evenly spread through the cream cheese.

Place ~1.5 teaspoons of mix in the center of the wonton wrapper. Use water to wet the edges and fold in the style of your preference.

In a pot or a deep fryer, heat oil. Deep fry the wontons in small batches. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place in a dish lined with paper towels to drain some of the extra oil.

To make the sauce, combine the ranch, sriracha and cocoa powder and stir with a whisk until well combined. I think I used about 1/4-1/3 cup of ranch, 1-2 tbsp of sriracha, and 1-2 tsp of cocoa powder. But I really don’t know because I didn’t measure at all.

Beer Batter Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Frosting

My friend had his 26th birthday party today and for his birthday celebration we had a cooking competition/potluck where the “secret ingredients” were bacon and chocolate. The prize was the winner and up to two friends got dinner either cooked by the birthday boy man(?) or at a restaurant of his/her choosing. Seems counterintuitive that someone would give out prized to others on his birthday, but I do love a cooking challenge.

So I decided to make an appetizer (next post) and these cupcakes. I’ve always been a little bit of a skeptic when it comes to putting bacon (or other salty things) in my desserts, but a) I have two friends from college who would always get bacon with a little cup of maple syrup for dipping at Sunday brunch, and b) I kept seeing maple bacon dessert recipes popping up all over Tastespotting and Foodgawker, so I decided to give it a try.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe I found, with a few very minor exceptions listed below. It was definitely a success- I got a lot of compliments throughout the night, and I did end up winning the competition (caveat – there were only two other competitors, so don’t be too impressed).

– I didn’t have Guinness and last night when I was getting the ingredients I got to the supermarket after 9pm. Little did I know that there’s some state or city law that prohibits stores from selling alcohol after 9pm. I didn’t really feel like going out again today to the supermarket, so I just used a cup of Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark. I guess it gives the recipe a bit of Wisconsin flavor 🙂

– I used four strips of bacon instead of three.

– I guess I measured poorly because I only made 21 cupcakes instead of 24.

– I don’t own a piping bag, a gallon-sized ziplock bag sufficed.

– When I baked the bacon I just put it in a 9×13 pan lined with aluminum foil and drained the grease every 5 minutes when I took the pan out to re-baste.

I’m too lazy to copy over the ingredients and instructions, so I’m just going to link to the original recipe.

Peach Mango Pineapple White Sangria

So now, on to Friday. I got lucky and was allowed to duck out a little early from work. My dad picked me up from the hospital and I headed to church for my brother’s wedding rehearsal/dinner. Went to bed after that, but then had to get up earlyish (before 8am) to head into Chinatown to get hair/make up done with my mom and my brother’s fiancee.

Saturday was crazy and tiring and fun all at the same time. I was in heels for about 12 hours, wore a plum one-shouldered bridesmaid dress, played saxophone and SANG in front of 180 people, and had my picture taken countless times. Oh, and my brother got married. Congrats to him and his wife! Hope they’re having fun on their honeymoon in Hawaii!

I was kind of busy the whole day, so I didn’t actually take any pictures, but there were so many cameras there I’m sure lots of pictures will be popping up on facebook in the next week or so for those of you who demanded I take lots of pictures.

Today I finally slept in a bit, had lunch with my parents, then spent the afternoon doing laundry/packing. I’m currently sitting in the airport terminal waiting to board my flight back to Madison (well, to Detroit first, then to Madison). All in all this trip was amazingly fun, but also incredibly exhausting. I’m pretty excited to head back to Madison, but waking up for work tomorrow will be painful.

When I was visiting my friend in Cambridge (see last post for details), we made this sangria. It was good, but it would have been better a) if the fruit was a little riper, and b) if we had let it sit a little longer to let the flavors mix.

Recipe from Averie Cooks

Ingredients
1 bottle white wine (we used a Chardonay)
1/3 cup peach schnapps
2 peaches, cut into bite-size pieces
1 mango, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup pineapple juice

In a large pitcher, mix all ingredients. Allow to sit, refrigerated, to let the flavors mix (overnight is probably the best).

That’s it!

Caprese Salad Bites

This past week has been really great but also just really exhausting. I flew out of Madison early last Saturday and went home for the weekend. Spent a couple days at home with the family, then headed into Cambridge to do three days of go live support.

One might ask, what is go live support? Basically, when a hospital installs the software, a bunch of us will go out to make sure things go smoothly. We take 12 hour shifts (6am-6pm or 6pm-6am) and roam the hospital helping doctors and nurses use the software, reporting any issues we find. It’s pretty tiring, but at the same time it’s really rewarding to see the software in use and to help end users directly.

Anyway, the go live went really well, but either way spending 12 hours on your feet is pretty tiring (especially for three days straight). Usually when I go on go lives, after my shift is over I eat dinner, do a little work/answer emails and stuff, then go to bed at like 9 or 10pm. But this time I was in Cambridge and I actually know people in the area. So each night (Tuesday-Thursday) I met up with different people.

Tuesday I went to my friend’s apartment in Kendall Square. We hung out, watched a movie, and made these Caprese salad bites as well as the white wine sangria (next post). Wednesday I met up with friends from my old church youth group and had dinner in Burlington. Thursday I met up with friends from college and went to a brew pub in Cambridge. Each day I didn’t even get back to the hotel until almost 11pm, which means I didn’t get to sleep until close to midnight. That combined with getting up at 5am everyday for work meant this trip was even more exhausting than normal go lives.

And then of course there was this weekend. But I’ll get into that in the next post.

These Caprese salad bites were quite delicious and simple to make. And healthy, too.

Recipe adapted from Dainty Chef

Ingredients
Grape tomatoes
Basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Toothpicks
Balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Cut the grape tomatoes in half, and the mozzarella cheese into bite-size pieces.

Assemble by spearing a piece of cheese, then a basil leaf folded in half, then a grape tomato half (flat side down) on a toothpick.

When you’re done assembling them all, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.