Almost the New Year

I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday! I did – and I am so thankful…

Today, my “annual blog report” was released and WOW! Thank you all SO MUCH for your dedication and support for “Blaise the Baker”‬! I am so truly thankful and appreciative. The stats were overwhelming! I am viewed in 52 countries and stats are almost 20,000…

My most popular recipe of the year was my “Jello Red Velvet Cupcakes” which can be viewed here…

https://blaisethebaker.com/…/07/08/jello-red-velvet-cupcakes/

Thanks again for a mind blowing 2014 – here is to making 2015 another incredible year!

Thank you!!!

Blaise 

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Cookbooking Update – Happy Holidays!

I wanted to take a moment to write and share with you a “cookbooking” update, as well as a Happy Holiday message…

Cookbooking Blaise the Baker Blog

“Greed and impatience may not be considered virtues, but they certainly help me write a recipe and cook.”
-Nigella Lawson

This quote really sums up best my “cookbooking” and recipe development process. It has been awhile since I have given a “cookbooking” update – so I am doing that here…

How are things coming along with my “cookbooking”!? Things are going great! Everything that is worth anything takes time – and this cookbook writing and creation is an exercise for me in that philosophy. I have tested and tested and tested the recipes (as well as had several friends and volunteers test) so the processes that I wanted to get done – have all been accomplished. It is now just an issue of typing it up, organizing, and putting and pulling together themes and sections to make things flow. Photos have been taken and retaken and taken again…

I can not thank each and every one of you enough for your kindness and support. It means everything to me. I am SO excited to share with you all what I have been working on for so long! (And hopefully it is sooner rather than later.) And yes – I have been jotting down recipes and notes for potential follow up books!

Also – this blog will undergo more changes at the start of 2015 that I am beyond excited to share! Stay tuned for that announcement later…

Once again – THANK YOU for your support… This is only the beginning.

Happy Holidays!!!

Blaise

Chew This – Chocolate Brownie Truffles

Happy Sunday and Happy Holidays! Today is the official publication of my newest “CHEW THIS!” column for “The Courier-Times”! I am SO excited to share this recipe with everyone…

It is quick, easy, delicious, rich – perfect for last minute Holiday gift giving!

Be sure to pick up a copy TODAY and let me know what you think – and be sure to check out my Facebook page (http://facebook.com/blaisethebaker) for by “step by step” photos.

Chocolate Brownie Truffles Chew This Blog

Chocolate Brownie Truffles

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/article_1b7de2b4-847e-11e4-be06-b33907dea23b.html

Blaise

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Cookbook Corner – The Big Book of Sides

My new “Cookbook Corner” is perfect and just in time for the approaching Holidays…

The Big Book of Sides Cookbook Corner Blog

“The Big Book of Sides” By: Rick Rodgers

I honestly was not for sure (at first) if I would like this cookbook… I mean, a cookbook about ALL side dishes?! How many different side dishes could a person create!? (And – I am a dessert guy…)

BUT – I was seriously blown away by this book… I LOVE IT!

The book does not have photographs for every single recipe…but with this book, I have really found it does not matter. The descriptions (as well as the recipes) more than make up for lack of photos.

(And I an a picture person too – and I did not seem to miss them with this book…) Do not get me wrong though – there ARE photos…and the photos that are included are absolutely gorgeous!

The book is sectioned off into several different chapters…

Getting It to the Table: which gives tips and tricks on baking, cooking, deep frying, etc. This section also provides sample menus to give inspiration to your Holiday planning.

Eat Your Vegetables: (I like how Rick goes into detail here about each vegetable and when it is in season, what you look for in choosing one at the market, and even how to store it – genius!) One of my favorite recipes from this section is the recipe for “Warm Shaved Asparagus With Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil” (page 25). I would have never thought about “shaving” the asparagus into ribbons – I love this idea! How perfect to add to salads, etc. I admit that I skipped the pine nut addition to this recipe – and it still turned out wonderfully!

I also enjoyed “Retro Green Bean Casserole” (page 37) just for the simple fact that he included it here. I love “retro” recipes that remind me of my childhood, of my Grandma and of simpler times.

Speaking of “retro” I also really enjoyed Rick’s “Broccoli and Cheddar Casserole” (page 49). I have been making a version of this for years and years – and enjoy it immensely every single time. It reminds me of my Mom’s broccoli and cheese casserole that she still makes to this day… Perhaps that is why the lack of pictures do not really bother me here with this cookbook – because I have my own “visual memories” when reading along to these recipes…

In this chapter you will also find recipes for Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, French chard, corn, eggplant, kale, wild mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, butternut squash, and on and on and on… It is easily one of my favorite chapters in this book. And it is about vegetables – imagine that! Ha! 

But I will tell you – I WILL “eat my vegetables” if they all taste as good as these recipes make them out to be. Yum!

From The Root Cellar: this section is about – you guessed it… root vegetables. Beets, carrots, celery, leeks, potatoes, etc. fill this chapter with delicious recipes. Some of my favorites!? “Buttermilk Onion Rings” (page 165) and my ALL TIME FAVORITE from this book (for right now – that might change the more recipes I try…) is Rick’s recipe for “Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole” (page 179). What is not to love about mashed potatoes that you can make ahead and pop into the oven when guests arrive?! And they have cream cheese, butter and sour cream in them! Sounds like one of my recipes – and perfectly wonderful…

I also loved his “Classic Scalloped Potatoes” (page 185) and his simple recipe for “Classic French Fries” (page 205). I am a huge fan of potatoes (who’s not?) and these recipes make my mouth water.

A Hill of Beans: honestly – I am not that big of a fan of beans – but I have a feeling this chapter might just change my mind. Example – the “Beer and Maple Beans” (page 228) and “Root Beer Baked Beans” (page 230). I have both marked to try – and may try the “Root Beer Baked Beans” this Holiday season, to add to the table.

Righteous Rice and Great Grains: I love rice and this chapter is filled with amazing recipes such as “Spiced Basmati Rice” (page 252), “Classic Spanish Rice” (page 256) and “Wild Rice with Shallots and Thyme” (page 265). This chapter also contains recipes for polenta and grits – 2 of my favorite foods! I have 2 recipes I am going to try soon. The first is on page 269 “Cheese and Grits Souffle” (which I’m so excited about!) the other is on page 215, “Lemon Sweet Potatoes with Meringue Topping” – because I mean – how amazing does that sound!?

Anyways, the chapter continues with a recipe for “Crisp Quinoa Cakes” (page 279) that I would really like to try – and think sounds perfect serve along a pork dish of some kind.

The Side Salad Bowl: This chapter contains delicious sounding recipes for cold salads, coleslaw’s, original salads, warm salads and even bean salads! “Blue Ribbon Potato Salad” (page 282), “Loaded Potato Salad with Sour Cream, Bacon and Cheddar” (page 285 – and I will make WITHOUT the bacon…), “Coleslaw with Apples and Poppy Seeds” (page 289), “Bean Salad with Avocado, Grilled Corn, and Red Pepper” (page 299), and recipes for green beans salads, cucumber salads, pasta salads, apple salads and so much more…

The chapter also continues with recipes for salad dressings – which sound amazing. “The Best Ranch Dressing” (page 344) and “Thousand Island Dressing” (page 345) are both marked to try. I may also have to try the “Raspberry, Chipotle, and Poppy Seed Dressing” (page 342), just because I am wanting to know how the heat plays against the raspberry.

Pasta and Friends: The recipe found on page 349 “Stovetop Macaroni and Pimento Cheese” is worth the price of the book – there I said it! It is AMAZING! I have several other macaroni and cheese recipes in this chapter to try – and they all sound delicious! How about “French Macaroni and Cheese with Leeks” (page 350) or “Baked Ziti with Broccoli and Gorgonzola” (page 351)!? Amazing, right!?

The chapter continues with noodle recipes, orzo recipes and even covers couscous – which I LOVE!

The Bread Basket: I love bread, and this chapter contains amazing recipes for all types of bread! Cornbread, biscuits, yeasted dinner breads, quick breads, muffins and more! I particularly liked the recipes in this chapter for “Stuffings and Dressings” – perfect for Holiday time!

On page 401, it evens gives instructions for how to roast chestnuts – which I have always wondered!

Pickles, Relishes, and Sauces: I am not that big of a fan of pickles, but the chapter part that was focused on relishes and sauces are amazing. Pesto, salsa, ketchup, marmalade, mustard, mayonnaise, gravy, and pan sauces fill this chapter beautifully.

All in all – this book is beautiful and I highly recommend you pick it up – and not just for the Holidays! It WILL BE the perfect book for the Holidays – yes – but you will find yourself using it a LOT more that just around the Holidays. You will find yourself picking this book up a LOT for recipes and inspirational ideas.

To learn more about Rick Rodgers and to buy his book please, click here…

http://www.rickrodgers.com/

The personal views and reviews of this blog are mine and mine alone. Any opinion or thought expressed are strictly my own. I received this book from “Ballantine Books” for this review. More information can be found by emailing me your questions.

Blaise

Chew This – Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

HAPPY SUNDAY! Today’s the official publication of my “CHEW THIS!” column in “The Courier-Times”! I am SO excited to be sharing this delicious, quick AND easy MEAL with all of you!

Be sure to pick up a copy TODAY and let me know what you think of my “LESS than 30 minute meal…”

For STEP BY STEP pictures (to show you how quick and easy it really is, visit my Facebook page – http://facebook.com/blaisethebaker)

Chew This Shrimp and Pasta Blaise Doubman

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

http://www.thecouriertimes.com/neighbors/article_77f329a8-7b11-11e4-9034-ebd262ce1f0e.html

Also – let me just send out a big SHOUT OUT to everyone for the AMAZING responses I got from my last column about Thanksgiving traditions! I loved hearing and reading about all of your favorite traditions and recipes! Keep that wonderful feedback coming – I thank you for it!

Blaise

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Slow Cooker Cherry Cobbler

I found a similar recipe to this on a Facebook posting, and had to try it. The ingredients – only 3 – could be found in any cabinet and the directions could not be any simpler!

I tried it…and loved it! And I think you will to. I DID make some changes to the original recipe, but there are still only 3 ingredients needed.

If you are not a fan of cherry, use apple, blueberry…any type of pie filling will work! Use your favorite…

Slow Cooker Dessert Blog

Slow Cooker Cherry Cobbler

1 box “classic yellow” cake mix
1 can of pie filling (I used “Comstock” brand)
1 stick of butter, melted

Start by spraying your slow cooker liner with a non-stick cooking spray.

Empty the cake mix into the prepared slow cooker liner and add the can of pie filling and melted butter. Stir everything together until well combined.

Place lid on slow cooker, turn on “high” and bake for 3 hours.

Enjoy!

(This recipe really depends on the SIZE of your slow cooker… I baked mine in a slow cooker with the capacity to hold for eight. If your slow cooker is less than this – adjust the bake time accordingly.)

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Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish

I have been wanting to publish this posting for quite awhile – but life had other plans…

It is no secret that I am a HUGE Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) fan – and these are beyond amazing! I have made this particular recipe for years because it is not only super EASY, but calls for some of my favorite ingredients – puff pastry, cream cheese and lemon.

These are delicious made ahead (wrap with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator overnight) and popped into the oven in the morning for breakfast… or even for a late night snack!

Puff Pastry Blog

Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

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