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BHG Delish Dish

Stirring Up Ideas In The Kitchen

Posts by Delish Dish Editor

Fudgy Port and Cherry Brownies

Hi, it’s Beth again, assistant digital editor for bhg.com. Working in the food department of Better Homes and Gardens means that I get to attend taste panels. Taste panels are when our amazing test kitchen chefs prepare the recipes that will be featured in the magazine months in advance. Some of the best bites of food I’ve ever tasted happened at a BHG taste panel. In fact, the best brownie I’ve ever eaten, happened at a taste panel about three months ago. It was the Fudgy Cherry and Port Brownie developed by baking mastermind and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. It has reached brownie folklore status around the office. Every food editor has been raving about this brownie for months.

So naturally, when this month’s magazine hit the newsstands, I knew I had to share the delicious brownie recipe with our blog readers. The best (and most surprising) part of making the brownie recipe was how easy it was. I had never cooked with port before,  but all I had to do was cook dried cherries in port on low heat until they plumped up. Then melt a little chocolate, mix it all together, bake it, and top with raspberries. Easy enough. I even found raspberries on sale at the grocery store which I considered to be a January miracle. Another note about this recipe: don’t skimp on the raspberries, people! The brownie gets its delicious fudgy-ness from loads of chocolate and chewy port-soaked cherries, and fresh raspberries complement the richness of the brownies by adding in a tart, lightness.

The hardest part about making these brownies? Not eating them all immediately. Seriously. They are so rich, but so addictive. I forced my friends (and one next-door neighbor I ran into in the hallway) to try the brownies just so I wouldn’t eat every single one in a day. Consider yourself warned. 

Some keys to success for this brownie:

  • Definitely follow the suggestion of covering your brownie pan in foil and buttering it. My brownies didn’t get dried out sides like they normally do, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I used a foil-wrapped pan.
  • You don’t need fancy port. I bought the cheapest port I could find and it still imparted amazing flavor.
  • Fresh raspberries are totally worth the splurge. Plus, they make the brownies look fancy.
  • Want even more tips? Watch the recipe in action here!

I’m excited to make these beautiful brownies again for Valentine’s Day in a couple of weeks. What are you making for Valentine’s Day? If you haven’t planned ahead yet, I highly suggest you give our Fudgy Cherry & Port Brownies a try.

 


Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting

Hi all, Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications here. I recently had a craving for cake and through a series of misadventures in my kitchen I created what later became Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue, a published recipe we put through the BHG Test Kitchen.

I started out the day with a couple of challenges—first, my 10-month-old son who thinks he should be involved in every project I undertake and second, my need for something sweet without overdoing it on the calories. So I started with an old favorite—Busy Day Cake. This is a one layer cake, so the calories wouldn’t be through the roof, and with only seven ingredients, it was sure to be quick so I could (maybe) get it done during my son’s naptime. Because I can’t leave any recipe alone, I decided to spruce it up with the classic Meringue Frosting (a fat-free recipe), and hey, why not add some pumpkin and nutmeg to the cake batter? So to make a long story short(er), I did exactly what bakers should never do—started baking before checking that I had all the ingredients. It wasn’t long before I discovered I had no granulated sugar AND I was missing a beater to my mixer.

 

No problem. I had brown sugar. So I continued on my mission replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar in both the cake and the frosting. I added some freshly grated nutmeg (I always use freshly grated whole nutmeg instead of pre-ground because there’s just no comparison) and replaced a little bit of the fat with some pumpkin. I beat both the cake batter and the frosting with the one beater on my mixer and guess what—it worked fine! I used my handy Microplane to grate a big of nutmeg over the cake top for a super simple garnish.

 

 

I loved my  version of Busy Day Cake so much, I made some changes and put it through the test kitchen. The one we published—Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting—didn’t have pumpkin (I didn’t want the recipe to be too seasonal since I would be unrolling it after the holidays), replaced some of the brown sugar with granulated, and added a touch of baking soda to help the cake’s texture. During photography (see top photo on this page), it somehow morphed into a two-layer cake and the food stylist hit the meringue with a food torch for some pretty browning on the top. If you’re looking to cut calories wherever possible for your after-holidays diet, you can simply cut the Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting recipe in half so it’s just one layer (but you can still make a full batch of the Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting).

The moral of my story is that baking doesn’t always end up like you planned (especially when you fail to plan ahead), but with a little ingenuity and courage, the results can still be fabulous.

What baking or cooking issues have you overcome on the fly?


South of the Border Sandwich

Hi there, this is Carlos, one of the food editors for Better Homes and Garden’s special editions. Now, it’s no secret among my colleagues and friends that I’m loco for Mexican cuisine, especially those wonderful South of the border sandwiches called tortas!

I also love experimenting with my trusty slow cooker, so it was a happy day recently when I was able to marry these passions together in one awesome recipe: Cola-Chipotle Pork Tortas.

These delicious Spanish grinders consist of sandwich rolls stuffed with Mexican quick pickled onions called cebollas encurtidas, sliced avocado, and lots of tasty pulled pork that’s been braised in a heady mixture of cola, spices, garlic, and chipotle chile peppers. That’s where the slow cooker comes in.

The pork, a 5-pound roast, is simmered in the slow cooker along with the cola marinade until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, about 8 hours on low. Trust me, the aroma is divine! I especially appreciate being able to start the pork in the morning and have it ready to eat when I get home from work. Ah, the magic of slow cooking! Then, all that’s left to do is shred the pork and assemble the tortas!

This makes enough for eight sandwiches although I like to use the pork in tacos and enchiladas as well. I recommend taking the time to make the quick pickled onions but you could also substitute with purchased pickled jalapeños or deli sliced peperoncinis.

For more great recipes, check out this sensational slideshow for weeknight-easy Mexican dishes. You can also find  our latest Mexican magazine here or at newsstands everywhere.


Healthy Butternut Bisque with Pear Salsa

The weight loss season is upon us again. I’m happy to say, thanks to some stellar new magazines, my arsenal of healthy recipes has never been so robust. It’s Sheena, food editor for bhg.com, joining in again. Given the frigid temps outside, I’ve been consuming bowl upon bowl of cozy soups. While visiting my parents we hosted a soup potluck for my extended family. Having tasted this 211-calorie Butternut Bisque with Spicy Pear Salsa in the Test Kitchen, I knew my family would love it.

We were serving quite a crowd so we doubled the recipe and took some shortcuts. To kill two birds with one stone, we pre-chopped a bunch of bacon and tossed it on a baking sheet all at once to cook in the oven to be used for this soup and other recipes. Rather than spending the time to chop 3 pounds of squash for our doubled amount, we opted for purchased, ready-to-use butternut squash. Other than that, the recipe was so simple we didn’t need anymore shortcuts.

My family is made up of a mix of adventurous eaters and those who think a salsa served on top of soup is absurd. Thinking I couldn’t sway them all, we served the crab-filled bisque in the slow cooker with the bacon and pear salsa in separate bowls.

A couple of my uncles required a bit of convincing to add the pear salsa, but eventually I got everyone to try it. And, no surprise, this soup was the hit of the party! I, of course, didn’t hesitate to add all the toppers. The pear salsa adds unbeatable bright freshness and, as we all know, everything is better with bacon!

For more delicious recipe inspiration for this resolution season be sure to check newsstands for Eat Well, Lose Weight magazine. Or click here to download a digital copy.


last-minute snacks for new year’s eve

Whether you’re a strap-on-your-party-shoes New Year’s reveler or tucked-in-bed-by-ten New Year’s dreamer, there’s no doubt that there’s something special in the air on the last night of the year. It’s a time to reflect on a year’s change and a time to plan for the clean slate ahead.

Jessie here, senior nutrition editor at Diabetic Living magazine, a health brand developed by Better Homes and Gardens. This year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in a cabin in the woods drinking hot cocoa, cross-country skiing, and leisurely putting puzzles together with my husband and some of our closest friends. It’s exciting to have plans for the big night, but it also has me busy making lists of all the things I’ll need to pack so we have plenty of food and fun for the weekend. That’s where these easy-peasy snack recipes come in handy. They require minimal ingredients and prep, but they’re also special enough for a holiday get-together.

1. Easy Bake
Mix together a container of ricotta, half a package of thawed, drained frozen spinach, olive oil, a sprinkle of sage, a clove of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Served with toasted baguette slices.

2. No Cook
Wrap pear slices and white cheddar pieces with prosciutto (or use any combo of your favorite cheese and charcuterie).

3. On a Stick
Skewer cooked mini meatballs and cooked tortellini and serve with your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara.

Click here for 20 more simply delicious New Year’s appetizer recipes and click here for a collection of our 10 best New Year’s Eve cocktail recipes. From all of us at Delish Dish and Better Homes and Gardens, cheers to a happy and healthy 2013!


Mac and Cheese Pot Pies

I’m Laurie Buckle, and I love mac and cheese. People sometimes snicker when
I confess this, maybe because it’s my job to know what’s new in food, which
chef is up and coming, and when the cupcake trend will wane (I’m the
editorial director of food for Better Homes and Gardens; lucky me). Let them
laugh, because I also love patty melts, guacamole on anything, and the
occasional bag of M & Ms.

So when my daughter mentioned a restaurant she’d been to that served pies of
all kinds (and only pies;), and that her favorite was a mac and cheese pot pie, I perked up.

Now that was a take on mac and cheese I’d never tried!

I’d been looking for an excuse to make the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
from the October issue, and here was a good one. All I had to do was whip up
the mac and cheese, transfer it to bowls, top it with rounds of puff pastry
and bake until golden. Oh, I also had to make the mac meatless, since my
daughter’s a vegetarian.

I started with the cheese. Because where else do you start when it comes to mac and cheese? I measured a mix of Gruyere, jack and cheddar, then got grating.

 

It wasn’t long before I was joined by two of my favorite kitchen companions, Georgia (left, my daughter’s dog) and Coco (my dog). Both are always hoping against hope that something will hit the floor.

I cooked the pasta (scooping out a little of the pasta water before I drained it) and simmered chunks of butternut squash in milk until tender. At this point, the recipe takes an easy turn and has you mix the remaining milk and flour together in a small bowl,  and stirring that mixture into the pan with the squash and milk. Once that comes to a boil, you cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the cheese. Stirring to melt it, I realized how much simpler this is than a classic cheese sauce.

Next up, a couple of onions and a hunk of butter. Since I was making a meatless version of the dish, I used butter instead of bacon fat to saute the onions. Is there anything that smells better than onions cooking in butter?

Because they smelled so good, and because I wanted the flavor that comes from nicely browned onions, I kept at this part for about 15 minutes, covering them at first and then turning up the heat during the final few minutes.

After that, it’s fast. I added the onions and the pasta to the squash-cheese mixture, tossed to combine (adding a little of that saved pasta water to moisten) and turned the mixture into some old French onion soup bowls, topping with the last of the cheese.

Then I cheated, mixing panko breadcrumbs (which I try to always keep on hand) with melted butter, and sprinkled that over the cheese. I rolled out a couple of sheets of puff pastry (which I’d let thaw for 30 minutes or so), cut out rounds and set them atop the bowls. Once they were in the oven, I used the 20 minutes or so they cooked to quick-clean the kitchen and make my favorite fall-back salad: arugula tossed with lemon juice and hunks of avocado, and a heavy hit of good salt. Dinner, done.


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