A “Date Night” Potluck Party

We had our final Recipe Club meeting last week. With most of us moving in the next couple of months the group looks like it’s fizzled to a stop. I had a great time with these ladies and met my best friend up here (and Firecracker’s best friend, too!) through this group and I am forever grateful. I couldn’t have imagined this assignment here in Ohio without these fabulous ladies and the clubs and groups that I joined while here.

For our last meeting I suggested “Date Night” as a theme, taking a cue from the holiday this Sunday. We had a very small gathering, only six of us! (There are seven items listed below because I brought two dishes.) I wasn’t surprised by the small turn out as most of our husbands are in hunker down mode finishing up their theses..thesii? I know I can’t wait for thesis defense to happen and the stress level in our life go down just a tad. So it’s no surprise that there was a good deal of chocolate on the menu during out meeting!

Date Night Recipe Round UpHere are the recipes that were brought to the “Date Night” potluck”

Blog-iversary 2

IMG_5681Today is my blog’s anniversary! This second year has flown by.  In this past year I have gained an additional 77 followers and 357 Facebook friends.

I am still going strong with Secret Recipe Club and #BundtBakers (having missed only one month in each so far) and I continue to participate in Foodie Extravaganza and The Crazy Ingredient Challenge when my allergy restrictions allow it.

As if I didn’t have enough commitment on my plate I have added Blogger CLUE Society and The Sunday Supper Movement to my blogging community adventures. The latter has been a huge boost to not only my site’s traffic but also my social media accounts. If you’re a blogger looking for ways to venture out, I encourage you to join a group like these – the camaraderie you’ll find is more reward than you could imagine.

I feel like my blogging has grown over the past two years and my food photography has improved considerably (staying home with my son has definitely contributed to that as I now have natural light!), my photography editing skills have become second nature, and I think my story telling ability is on the rise. My efforts have even been rewarded when I was nominated for the Liebster Award!

For my blog-iversary I decided to try something that’s been on my culinary bucket list. Making marshmallow. I saw these adorable mini s’mores cheesecakes and knew that’s what I’d do to celebrate another blogging milestone. Unfortunately I don’t have a mini cheesecake pan – but how awesome is that?! – and didn’t think using cupcake liners would create the same impressive dessert. I decided to make a full size cheesecake. I increased the crust amount but didn’t think about the actual cheesecake, as a result my cake is very thin. However, the silky richness of the chocolate cheesecake doesn’t leave you feeling cheated. (If you want a thicker cake I’d suggest adding another 1/2 recipe to the filling.) To top this decadent cheesecake, homemade marshmallow frosting. If you have a blow torch I highly encourage you to take the s’mores factor to the next level. I simply garnished mine with extra graham cracker crumbs.

This cheesecake is sexy. Now there’s a word I’ve never used for food before! But seriously. Next time you want to impress your date make this cheesecake. It’s smooth, it’s rich, and it melts in your mouth.

S’mores Cheesecake

Ingredients for crust:

  • 9 full sheets graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Ingredients for cheesecake:

  • 12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (I used Nielsen-Massey)

Ingredients for topping:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.
  2. Place graham cracker sheets, butter, and sugar in a food process. Pulse until the mixture looks and feels like wet sand. Press into the pan evenly. Bake 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the cocoa powder and salt until combined. Add the egg and vanilla paste, mixing until incorporated. The mixture will look like chocolate pudding. Spread cheesecake filling on the crust.
  5. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until set. Turn off the oven and crack the door. Allow cheesecake to cool completely before chilling in the refrigerator.
  6. Whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar over a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm. Remove from heat. Beat using a hand mixer, starting on low and increasing speed to high, until mixture becomes white, thick, and sticky. Add the vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently spread over the chilled cheesecake.

*This recipe is adapted from Rachel at http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/mini-toasted-smore-cheesecakes/*

S'mores Cheesecake | Sew You Think You Can Cook

S’more Brownies

Hey, there! I’m jumping on the summer s’more obsession bandwagon. And I’m not ashamed by it one bit. There’s a reason the s’more is the most popular summer food trend. Ooey-gooey melty chocolate and marshmallow. Sitting around a camp fire with family and friends. Enjoying warm weather and late nights. Getting all messy and not giving a care about it in the world.

Unfortunately not all of us have access to a backyard fire pit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t partake in the fun! Make these brownies and you’ll be transported to your favorite childhood memory.

S'more Brownies

You can follow the recipe below, or feel free to take a semi-homemade philosophy and use a boxed brownie mix! Just don’t skip out on making the graham cracker crust. I wonder if you can even fill two pie crusts with the brownie batter and turn these s’more brownies into s’more brownie pies!

S’more Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 15 graham crackers, divided use
  • 2 1/2 C sugar, divided use
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C mini marshmallows
  • 3 chocolate bars

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Crush 12 of the graham crackers into crumbs. You should have about 1 1/2 C of crumbs. Combine crumbs with 1/2 C sugar and 6 tbsp melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan and bake for 7 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together 2 sticks softened butter with 2 C sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract.
  5. In a bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Add to the stand mixer and mix until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter evenly over graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Break chocolate bars and remaining 3 graham crackers into bite size pieces. Top brownies with chocolate, crackers, and marshmallows. Bake another 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. If you have leftovers, they’re best reheated in a toaster oven for a few minutes until chocolate and marshmallows are again melty and gooey.

*This recipe is modified from Nikki at http://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/07/smore-brownies/*

S'more Brownies