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Thursday, March 31, 2011

TOP THREE KITCHEN SMALL APPLIANCES

I have 3 favorite small "luxury" kitchen appliances...my Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer, my Kitchen Aid food processor, and my FoodSaver vacuum sealer.  (Coffee Maker is a requirement, not a luxury!)  Today, I am writing about my FoodSaver.  I was a fan of the Seal-a-Meal product back in the 1980s but then, it died and I did not replace it.  Then, we got a Sam's Club in our part of Austin and we started buying some bulk items...I quickly learned I needed a vacuum sealer of some sort or I would be wasting a lot of those "big savings".  I've had that one for over 15 years...and it does still work.  It is temperamental though.  You can't process much without it getting really hot and it's sort of a yellowed white...and I decided last year it was time for a new one.

One of the things I learned about living at the coast is humidity wreaks havoc on your dry goods...crackers, cereal, chips...stuff like that.  I have thrown away more of these "stale" products since moving here than I have in my entire life!  Of course, part of that is that I don't have my adult children, their friends, and my grandchildren stopping in to snack...so I have things a little longer down here than I would have up in Austin.  It was getting expensive to throw that stuff away!  Ziploc bags didn't do the trick, chip clips, and twist ties didn't do the trick.  So one day I was flipping channels and stopped on QVC because they were demonstrating a FoodSaver.  It caught my eye because this was a sleek looking black and stainless product (which matches my kitchen appliances) and it had one particular feature that made me think "SOLD"!  It had a "seal only" button. 

The "seal only" button had me from the first moment I saw it demonstrated on QVC!!!
Why is this such a big deal?  Well, you can re-seal any bag that was originally "sealed" with heat.  It has separate controls for vacuum and then seal - including a moist or dry option.  AND, it holds a roll of bags inside the system...no more digging out my box of bags every time I needed to seal something. It has a built-in cutter for getting a straight edge when cutting the bags to the size you need (no more hunting for scissors), and it has a removable drip tray for easy clean up when liquids are sucked into the machine (unlike my old one). Add the concept of 3-Easy-Payments (love that) and I was at my computer, keys clicking, sending my order.


The insides include bag roll storage, a cutter, and a easy-to-clean drip catcher

I purchased model V2840.  It cost $86.28 plus tax and shipping....now a few dollars more I see.  Came with 2 rolls of bags and a couple of other things I don't use (the vacuum cord for sealing jars).   I know it has paid for itself since I bought it last May.  I've used up the two rolls of bags and bought a box of bags at Sam's Club.

The plus of re-sealing the retail product bag also means a saving on the rolls of plastic.  I seal chips after every use, just cutting them open with scissors when I want to use them again.  I seal plastic bags of brown sugar, I seal cracker bags and sleeves, I seal cereal bags, pasta bags, rice bags...easy peasy.  I haven't thrown away a stale product in ages.  Cereal lasts for months...just have to train everyone in the house to seal after using and leave room for sealing when cutting the bag open.  No crushed chips - because you don't vacuum.  You can use the controls to vacuum a bit and then hit seal...very flexible.  It's great! 

Triscuits almost gone - last opened a month ago - will be fresh next time opened!

Brown Sugar will be fresh an ready to use after I sealed the top

holding the upside down re-sealed bag of brown sugar
The second best use is prepping meats and vegetables for the freezer.  My sons fish.  The first time they came home with 20 trout fillets for me to package up, my old FoodSaver barely made it.  My neighbor also fishes and brings me some of his catch from time to time.  FoodSaver makes short work of those; I can package in just the right size for individual meals or family meals...very flexible.  Also, since my husband is home intermittently due to travel, I find myself having too much ground beef for a smaller meal for the teen and myself.  If I buy ground beef at the H.E.B., it is generally packaged at about 1 1/4 pounds.  So, I buy a few packages and re-pack them in the vacuum seal bags and weigh out 3/4 pound per package...which makes it about right for a mom and a hungry teen-ager.  I can buy a big 4-pack of steaks at Sam's Club and package them individually, I can buy fresh shrimp when it is in season and package it up for later use...without an ounce of freezer burn or ice crystals reaching it.  I packaged up nuts, squash, tomatoes, or anything that I can normally freeze...freezes better and fresher with my FoodSaver.

Shrimp packaged and frozen - no visible freezer burn!

Roasted Acorn Squash from October 2010 - perfect condition!

Leftover nuts are fresh for the next use when stored in freezer

Less than 2 weeks in a "Freezer Ziploc" - ice crystals all over the chicken! 
Should have used my FoodSaver!
The only negative comment I could make is the rubber seal sometimes comes off - but I just stick it back in its track and we're good to go. 

No one is paying me to review this or giving me anything to say good things.  I just love the product.  Best appliance for saving money I've found!  I like to share with my friends and readers when I find a good thing.

A product that does what it says it will do!  I love it!!!
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CINNAMON SPICE CUPCAKES

I asked the teen what he would like me to bake...it could be cookies, a cake, or cupcakes, bread...whatever.  He thought on it for a while and said "how about cinnamon spice cupcakes?"
Hmmm, okay.  I can do that (drat, I thought, no chocolate).  I mused about it for a bit...and wondered, to myself, if he would notice if I added some of the last bits of the frozen acorn squash I had sitting in the freezer.  (I have 2 packages left).  It's hitting the 6 month mark of freezer life and I like to rotate things out by then if possible.  So, I found a few pumpkin spice cake recipes that looked good - it has a lot more than just cinnamon for spice, of course, but I think he'll like this with a basic cream cheese frosting with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled in.  Sounds like a plan!  I'm not putting squash in the title in case he sees the blog title on Facebook...wouldn't want him to think he was actually eating a vegetable....or technically, I guess, a fruit.  Nah, he'd consider it a vegetable.  Anyway, he won't read the blog...but he'd see the title :-)

CINNAMON SPICE CUPCAKES
By Debbi Hook - based on various online recipes for pumpkin cake

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Unbleached White Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened but not melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup Half and Half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup squeezed and drained roasted acorn squash** puree (or canned pumpkin puree)
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting 
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar - sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
METHOD:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
Whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
Measure dry ingredients in separate bowl
Whisk dry ingredients to thoroughly blend and remove any lumps
Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate into the butter mixture before adding the next. Next, mix in the milks, vanilla, and squash puree (it looks curdly but that's okay). Stir in the flour/spice mixture, beating just until incorporated. The texture will become a thick batter instead of curdled! 


Prepared batter ready to scoop into muffin pan

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups with a large cookie dough scoop for even distribution. It made exactly 24 cupcakes.

Bake in preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 23-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine took 24 minutes exactly and a turned them at the halfway point to ensure even baking.

Beautiful lcupcakes...I can see spot that I bet is a bit of squash :-)
Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Cooling on a rack helps keep them from having soggy bottoms
After the cupcakes are completely cool, make the frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter until smooth (stand mixer or electric hand mixer). Beat in the sifted confectioner's sugar one cup at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and  ground cinnamon; beat until fluffy. Frost cupcakes only when completely cool or the heat of the cupcake will melt the frosting.

**  I roasted and froze the acorn squash in October.  See this post for how I did it.  Today, I thawed the bag that looked like it had about 1 cup of squash...turns out to have been 1 1/3 cup..and that was perfect because I drained and squished out about 1/3 cup of liquid.  Last time, I used a colander and paper towels and my hands...it was very messy.  This time, I pureed it first in the small bowl of my food processor, and set it to drain in a sieve. 
squash puree draining over the measuring cup I used to see how much I had

After it drained off about 1/8 cup of liquid, I used a clean cotton kitchen cloth to wrap the puree and twisted and squeezed to drain it thoroughly. 
After squeezing the squash...perfect for baking
I got maybe a tablespoon less than a full cup of puree..but it worked just beautifully in the cupcakes!  Fiber and flavor addition that kids won't even notice...perfect!

OK - they are out of the oven and I just ate a warm one for a little quality assurance...and I must say they are beyond delicious.  If I was without a teen in the house, I would just leave them unfrosted.  They are fabulous warm and would be a terrific morning muffin due to the squash creating a more dense crumb.  Yummmmmm...
OK - I admit - I ate two warm from the oven.  These are delicious!
I made the frosting, which is quite delicious as well...and I put it in a 16" piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip.  I swirled the frosting on...but it really only frosted 18 cupcakes. 


The last 4 (because I had already eaten 2) got a "star" in the middle instead of a mountain of frosting.  Quite frankly, since I had to try one of those as well (hey, it's been 4 hours since the last cupcake)... I found the "star" to be just the right amount of sweetness.  The teen will likely like the ones fully crowned with frosting...but for me, just a tad bit of frosting was the perfect topping!


Just a taste of frosting - my favorites!

BON APPETIT, Y'ALL!!!

Update 4/2/2011
I linked this post to a great little blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies.  She does a Sweets for a Saturday post and all of these bloggers link their goodies of the week.  I saw some awesome goodies that I MUST try!

ALSO SHARED WITH SWEET TREAT THURSDAY ON 6/2/2011


StumbleUpon

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YUMMIES BISTRO & Wi-Fi CAFE

I haven't been to Yummies Bistro in years...I first went there when we came down for a couple of days as a "get away" one February in the early part of the last decade...and it was nippy, so we stopped in for coffee.  Then, I stopped in for coffee and a pastry a few years ago...but never since we moved here.  I tried to stop by last week but it was packed with Spring Break folks.  Today, I was in luck.

I knew it had different management/owners than the past times I'd visited so I hoped that the reviews I found on Urbanspoon proved true.  Some were not good but most really liked it.  I think, after today's visit, I'm going with the folks who really liked it!


The Combo Salad for $10.99
I decided to eat inside today as the outside tables were crowded when I arrived.  It was a bit chilly inside...but down here, we don't complain too much about that! :-)  The service was prompt and attentive, but not overly so.  I ordered an iced tea and perused the menu while I waited.  I'd seen the online menus so I had an idea of how expanded the menu had become compared to my last visits.  I selected the Combo Salad, a lovely plate of chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad...with fresh veggies and exceptional array of fresh fruit surrounding it.  (pears, apples, pineapple, grapes, plum, cantaloupe, strawberries, and kiwi!)   A cracker basket was served with it instead of bread...and I like crackers, so that's a plus for me.  They aren't cheap...but this plate was absolutely worthy of the $10.99 price tag.  I couldn't even finish all three salads.  I managed to polish off the chicken salad and the egg salad...but my tummy was getting full by the time I got to the tuna salad.  The tuna and the chicken were fresh and tasty...nice big chunks, both filled with dried and fresh fruits as well as tasty nuts.  Yummie indeed!  My least favorite was the egg salad (not bad - just not my favorite).  I am not a dill fan and it had dill all over it...and not as flavorful as the other two.  The two meat salads were outstanding though and the presentation was just lovely.

The only negative I had...the waitress brought my bill without checking to see if I wanted anything else.  I wasn't even halfway finished with my food when she deposited the bill and a mint on the table and walked away.  She'd been really great up until then :-)  I had every intention of finishing off the day with one of those lovely cups of European Sipping Chocolate advertised on the sign directly in my line of sight.  Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for my pocketbook - the cups of chocolate aren't cheap at $5.99 for demi-tasse size!)... I knew that right next door was my favorite  - Harlequin Gourmet Chocolat Shop!

Yummies Bistro at 700 Padre Blvd.
When I headed back to my car, I took another look at the photos I'd taken...and realized...I wasn't even remotely hungry and I ended up skipping the chocolate all together.  Now, don't faint...it's very unlike me to forgo chocolate!!!  It must be the Zumba I did this morning.  :-)  See...healthy below!!!  I'm laughing right out loud because as soon as I finish typing this, I'm going to go bake "something"...I don't know what, but today and tomorrow are baking days!  Bet there's some chocolate in whatever I end up doing.

One last look at the healthy lunch....as incentive!
Yummies is only open for breakfast and lunch.  They close at 2:00.  I've never tried the breakfast but the menu looked good...so I'll certainly be back!

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:
4 – Lip smackin’ - good quality – flip flops will definitely be parked under their table again!

Yummies Bistro on UrbanspoonStumbleUpon

Monday, March 28, 2011

KITCHEN GADGET - Rolling Pin Rings

You've seen me post, multiple times, that I have trouble rolling a smooth dough.  I get hills and valleys, lumps and bumps....wreaks havoc on my sugar cookie cutouts, resulting in icing flowing off the edges and other unsightly blemishes.

A friend suggested getting some flat pieces of wood as "markers" like she used to do when rolling out clay in her art studio.  Another friend said her mom gave her some rolling pin rings.  I asked my hubby to pick up some wood trim pieces at 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thickness if he could find them and then I ran across some rolling pin rings on Amazon.  They look like big rubber bands and had various depths, so I ordered them.

I was glad that the 3 smallest rings did fit easily on my French dowel rolling pin...but because of the slope on the end of the pin, they don't roll out dough "as measured" on the instructions. 


You can see the slope of a French dowel causes the rings
to attach at different "depths"

The worse part was the ring that was supposed to roll at 3/8" requires you to put the 1/4" ring on first and then put the 3/8" ring on top of it (making a stacked ring) and the actual thickness is 5/8, not 3/8 as advertised.  As soon as I applied pressure, the outer ring popped off anyway...so it's pretty useless for a thicker roll-out.

The two rings together measure 5/8" - the white can't be used independently for 3/8"

You can see that at the thickest point of the rolling pin
the largest ring just hangs loosely

When pressure applied to roll - this is what happened
These were packaged by 3C Systems, Inc. out of Wynnewood, PA.  The Amazon link said they were Regency Wraps Rolling Hills Rolling Pin Rings (whew, what a name).  The colors are different and the packaging was different than displayed on the Amazon web page...hmmm.  They cost $6.39 for the package.  Since I threw the packaging away, I really can't return them.  I'll use the 3 smaller sizes...but the largest is useless.  I make thicker sugar cookies because I decorate them and don't want them to break...this is not going to do the trick!

I do have a silicone rolling pin - but it is quite large and these would never fit on it...even the white one.

Another issue I noted with rolling pin rings...To get a large amount of dough even - you have to keep the rings on the board and off the dough...so your dough round or your dough square could be no wider than 11 to 13 inches, (if using a dowel) depending on the thickness (how far onto the dowel the ring goes to be stable).  Frankly, I doubt these were ever intended to fit on a French rolling pin...it said a "standard" rolling pin...but these days...what is a standard rolling pin's length and circumference?  There are so many choices!!!

Hate it when something doesn't work the way I expect and I've thrown away the packaging.  Live and learn!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!StumbleUpon

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SHRIMP HAUS RESTAURANT

Friday night was my second visit to Shrimp Haus Restaurant located at Schlitterbahn at the Beach.  It's open year round, regardless of the Schlitterbahn operating hours.  The first time I went, was after an afternoon at Schlitterbahn and the teen and I sat outside overlooking the Boogie Bahn.  Not much choice but to sit outside because, of course, no wet swim suits in the inside restaurant.  Apparently they expect you to check in (in your wet bathing suit which requires you to go inside) so they didn't "know we were there"...despite making multiple eye contacts with wait staff.  The service was not great so I never went back again.   The food, that time, was good but not really outstanding.  Some of my opinion of the food might have been tainted by the exhaustion of a day in the sun...and slow service.  The teen had a burger and said it was good.

What a difference a crowd of thousands makes vs the peaceful post-Spring Break crowd.  Friday night was one of the best evenings out I've had in quite a while.  Mostly due to the happiness-invoking voice of the ever-lovely Leslie.  She's popular here on the island.  She performs covers of a wide variety of popular music and every song was performed in an exceptional way!  Gorgeous voice.  I'd heard about her, but never heard her live.  I could have stayed for hours...she's good and she's funny in between songs - sharing interesting news tidbits.

We sat next to the big picture windows and since DST is in full effect, it didn't get dark for quite a while...and we had a nice dune and sea grass view out the window when seated.  If I stood I could see the ocean.  Nice.

Our waiter was very attentive and had quite the dry sense of humor.  He asked how I was doing and I said fine and responded..and you?  He hesitated and said "okay...I have a pulse" with a totally straight face.  We laughed...a pulse is good to have!  Nice guy and the first waiter I've ever had shake my hand when we were leaving.  You meet all kinds...but most importantly - he provided excellent table service.

The food was good.  I specifically went for shrimp.  They serve shrimp a heck of a lot of ways at Shrimp Haus.  You know my standard though - when I am doing a comparison, I get fried shrimp.  They have an every night special of All U Can Eat Shrimp for $14.95...includes a trip to the nicely outfitted salad bar, French Fries, and a loaf of bread.  I don't know why I got that...because I couldn't even eat all that they brought me the first trip.  I could have saved a buck and just bought the fried shrimp platter for $13.95.  I know better.  The shrimp were quite large and nicely fried - not overly battered as I frequently see.  Good tartar sauce - which is good because I don't eat cocktail sauce on my fried shrimp.  I'm picky about my tartar sauce and this met my high standards.  It was a very good fried shrimp dinner.
All U Can Eat Fried Shrimp
The teen had the grilled shrimp - $14.95.  Normally that is served with rice and some steamed or grilled veggies I think.  I am pretty positive that's what I got last summer out on the deck.  My boy doesn't eat vegetables though, so he ordered it with just French Fries.  SHOCKINGLY, he complied with my suggestion that he go check out the salad bar...he got one with his meal and I thought there might be SOMETHING he could nibble on.  I nearly fell out of my chair when he came back to the table with a salad plate with green leaf lettuce and mushrooms piled on it.  It had no dressing, but he ate half of it.  Maybe he is growing up.  I encouraged him to just squeeze some lemon on it since he doesn't like dressing, but, although he squeezes lemon all over his shrimp AND his French Fries (???), he refused.  Later he said "I didn't realize lettuce was so dry".  I had to chuckle.  He said the grilled shrimp were really good...and he polished them off in no time flat, so they must have been!  He actually ate most of my fries as well as all of his.  They were pretty tasty too...not that I'm a huge FF fan.
Grilled Shrimp and French Fries...normally rice and veggies!
We ate slowly and enjoyed watching several couples get up and dance up by the stage...it was very pleasant!  Tropical exposed wood decor, lots of "port hole" shaped aquariums (including one submarine-shaped aquarium suspended from the ceiling), great view...all add up to a nice alternative to my regular haunts.  Most people probably don't think of going to eat at Schlitterbahn...but it is worth the trip in my opinion!  It's on the south end of the island, ocean side, and you can't miss the big Schlitterbahn entrance.  The restaurant entrance is to the right of the water park on the 2nd floor.  There is an elevator for those who can't or don't want to use the stairs.

Casual yet "nice" place to dine on an off-season night!
On the way home I asked the teen what he thought about Leslie's singing.  He said "I liked it...actually, her voice sounded kind of angelic."   That is high praise from a hearing impaired individual who didn't like ANY music until about 5 years ago!

All-in-all, I think we both had a nice evening.  Our total bill was $36.37 plus tip...not a bad Friday night's meal AND entertainment!  The sign says Chuck and Leslie play every evening Tuesday through Saturday.  I'll make it a point to go again.  I want to try their Shrimp Scampi and their Shrimp Nachos.  Leslie singing will likely lure me back sooner rather than later!

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:

3 – Pretty Yummy - I feel my flip flops wanting to head back from time to time!

Shrimp Haus on UrbanspoonStumbleUpon

Saturday, March 26, 2011

KICKIN' OFF THE WEEK-END WITH CREAM CHEEESE BROWNIES

I was craving a bit of chocolate...wanted to bake something... but not something that would leave me with an excess amount of sweets to eat over the week-end!  I was going to make a chocolate cake and then decided a two-layer frosted cake was just too much for the two of us ... and pieces of layer cake aren't as easy to give away as cookies...or brownies.

Brownies sounded good when it hit my brain but I sure didn't want the favored ultra rich brownies that are immense in size and weight.  So, when I happened upon my go-to website and saw Cream Cheese Brownies...I knew that would be the ticket!

As regular readers know, I'm a huge fan of Stephanie Jaworski's JoyofBaking.com and that's where I got the basis for these brownies.  I had to tweak it a bit, but I'll put the link for her recipe here...so you can see what hers calls for.  Basically, I used a different pan, a different chocolate, and a different lining for the pan.  Hers calls for a 9 inch square pan...I just have an 8 inch.  Hers calls for foil lining the bottom and hanging over two edges to lift with...after attempting this with two pieces of foil and poking my fingers through it...I gave up and moved to parchment paper.  I use Reynold's Recycled Foil...and it's thin.  I need to just buy some regular foil and give up on trying to be green in the foil department.  Lastly, her recipe called for unsweetened chocolate - of which I had none - so I used Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate morsels.  That will likely result in some really sweet brownies...but you do with what you have!

Here's the recipe the way I baked it...

CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES
Based on the recipe from JoyofBaking.com

INGREDIENTS:


BROWNIE LAYER:

1/2 cup unsalted butter - cut into small pieces
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

CREAM CHEESE LAYER:

8 ounce block cream cheese - softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg (room temperature)

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place rack in center position of the oven.
Line 8" square pan with parchment paper across the bottom and up and over the two opposite sides (to give you handles for removal).  I sprayed some baking spray in the bottom of the pan to adhere the parchment paper and folded the excess down over the outside of the pan. Make a crisp edge so they don't flop back in on the batter.

Prepare a saucepan of simmering water and place a metal or heatproof glass bowl over the pan.  Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and allow to melt. 


Remove from heat and place the bowl on a dishtowel to keep from slipping and stir in sugar and vanilla with a wooden spoon until smooth.  This will serve to cool the chocolate too.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition.  Add flour and salt and stir until smooth and glossy - about 1 minute.  The batter will be thick and starts to come away from the edge a bit.



Remove 1/2 cup of chocolate batter and set aside.


Add the rest of the chocolate batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.



In food processor bowl, process cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and pulse.  Scrape down bowl, including bottom of bowl, and pulse just until mixture is smooth and creamy. 


Pour mixture on top of chocolate mixture in baking pan.  Smooth mixture with spatula to cover the chocolate mixture, careful not to mix the two.  You now have a layer of chocolate mixture and a layer of cream cheese mixture in the baking pan.

Take the 1/2 cup of reserved chocolate batter and drop by spoonful evenly all across the top of the cream cheese batter.

Take a butter knife or a skewer and swirl through the two batters (not digging down into the bottom batter) to make a swirly pattern - but not "mixing" the two together. 



Place pan in pre-heated oven and bake for 25-35 minutes (mine took 33 minutes).  The cream cheese batter should be lightly brown on the edges...and like a cheese cake, it should still be wiggly in the middle.  Allow to cool completely on a rack.



Place in refrigerator and allow to completely set up (at least 2 hours).  After brownies are chilled, run a knife around the un-papered edges to ensure they are released and lift cream cheese brownies from pan with the two paper handles and place on cutting board (have the cutting board right next to the pan).  Cut into sixteen 2 inch x 2 inch pieces, wiping knife after each cut.  It wouldn't hurt to have a glass of hot water and a dish towel, or better yet, paper towels handy for cleaning the knife between slices.

Here's what I ran in to...the middle brownies, bottom layer, were not baked sufficiently.  I had a smaller pan so I cooked them longer and went with the slight jiggle deal I usually do with cheese cake stuff.  Maybe that was a bad choice...this isn't cheesecake after all!  It was just the middle 4...but all the bottom brownies were "fudgy".  That's fine with me...but the 4 in the middle...well, they needed baking a bit longer...or the right pan!  The other thing might have been that I used semi-sweet chocolate...the chemistry might have gotten out of kilter.  I'm no scientist so I can't hypothesize that particular element!


So, the final word is...I've eaten one... and these are kick-ass brownies.  They are all fudgy with the tang of cream cheese...delicious.  I've put the four "underbaked" ones on a separate plate and I'm going to see if they set up over night.  Otherwise, the outer ones are just the way I like 'em!!!  Next time I'll need to get a 9 inch square pan.  In baking, size really does matter!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

Follow-up Note:
I ate one of these this morning straight from the fridge - it's more like a piece of fudgy cheesecake than a traditional cake brownie.  Intense and flavorful...

The other note is be careful not to overbeat the base brownie mixture.  I notice I had lots of air bubbles in mine...probably overbeat it...even though I did it by hand.

The teen is going to LOVE these!StumbleUpon

Friday, March 25, 2011

PsychaDeli


APPEARS TO BE CLOSED - FOR RENT SIGN IN WINDOW?

PsychaDeli... another primo island spot that I have managed to miss for all the years I've been here as both a tourist and a resident.  I always noticed it 'cause I liked the name...we just seemed to be on the hunt for shrimp when we vacationed here :-) and now...not searching for shrimp so much! 

I was finishing up a long morning of work and wanting to get in some of this beautiful sunshine and decided to head over to the island to grab a sandwich.  My goal was a sandwich.  Definitely nothing fried.  I'd recently read some good things about another spot and was going to stop there...but they were so crowded I just kept on driving (apparently "Spring Break" isn't all the way over...lots of kids still on the island!).

My second thought was immediately "PsychaDeli" - I'd heard so many good things about it from my local friends on Facebook, I didn't hesitate to point myself in their direction.  After Hurricane Dolly wiped out their old abode in 2008, they moved into a bright green building on Padre Blvd...you just can't miss it.  It's certainly a much better location from the outside anyway!



I pulled in and it didn't appear crowded with cars...but it was fairly full inside.  Lots of locals, a few visitors, some obvious college students....still, not overwhelming and I was third in line.  I grabbed a menu and started perusing it, all the while scanning the room...it is just an awesome place.  There is a lot to see!  It's definitely psychadelic...and when I saw the dude taking orders, I knew I'd landed in a good place.  He defined the 60's/70's hippie.  My kinda guy :-)  By then I was feeling kinda groovy.  I ordered "to go", but I sort of wish I'd eaten in...there was so much to see!  A Grateful Dead lunchbox hanging from the ceiling, ceiling tiles painted so you have to crane your neck and see what's going on up there too..."scuse me while I kiss the sky" was entwined above my head.  Nods to the Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and the Doors abound.  Ahhhh, a great vibe.   Wonderfully artistic tile work - just more than I can remember....




I ordered my sandwich - The Yellow Submarine (minus the tomato), side of chips, and a bottled water.  Total a bit over $10 and I threw a dollar in the tip jar.  (I have to say it reminds me a bit of Thundercloud Subs in Austin).   I really had a hard time deciding what to get...I'll no doubt be returning fairly frequently because I have got to try some of their other offerings!  They have really good sounding salads, a choice of sides for the sandwiches which includes pasta, potato salad, chips, boiled egg, or carrots...deli sandwiches, grilled sandwiches, wraps...AND they have smoothies, shakes, cookies and turnovers (maybe more - that's what I saw), Espresso (the hubby will be happy), and their menu says Specialty Breads too.  I don't know if they baked the bread for my sandwich...but it was damn good!



I took my bag of food and went and sat at one of the beach access points and enjoyed the sun, the waves, and the sound of kids having fun.  It was beautiful and my sandwich was awesome.  Just the kind of sub I like...ham, salami, pastrami, American and provolone cheeses, lettuce, pickles, red onion, mustard and mayo.  Classic Lay's Potato Chips and an icy cold bottle of water.  YUMmmm...good stuff, good stuff!



I am full and content...definitely feelin' groovy!  You are going to want to try this place!  Peace Peace

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:
5 – OMG – that was an outstanding meal!  I can’t wait to go back J


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