Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cheesy Taco Bean Dip

So, this was my first time making bean dip, and it was super easy. It was also my first time eating it, and it was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. I used this recipe from the blog Life as a Lofthouse.

Here's what you need:

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) package sour cream
1 tablespoon taco sauce (optional)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 large can (about 31 oz.) refried beans
1 (8 oz.) package (or 2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese*
1 (8 oz.) package (or 2 cups) shredded monterey jack cheese*

You'll also need some tortilla chips to serve this bean dip with!

*I actually used a 16 oz. package (4 cups) of "fiesta blend" shredded cheese, which contained both types of cheese called for in the recipe plus a couple of others.

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350ᵒF and spray a 9"x13" glass casserole dish with cooking spray. You'll need a large mixing bowl and a utensil of choice (like a large spoon or a rubber spatula). First, mix together the cream cheese and sour cream (you'll probably want to soften the cream cheese; I was in a hurry and didn't do this, which resulted in small lumps of cream cheese throughout the mixture), then add the packet of taco seasoning and taco sauce and mix them in well. I personally went for a mild bean dip, using "cheesy" taco seasoning and mild sauce, but I'm sure you could spice it up with a hotter variety if you like. ;)

Next, add the can of refried beans and thoroughly incorporate it into the cream cheese mixture.

Then transfer the refried bean mixture to your casserole dish, making sure to spread it evenly.

Last, but certainly not least, top the bean mixture evenly with the shredded cheeses...

... and bake at 350ᵒF for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted with a bit of a golden brown color to it. Voila! You have bean dip.

The layer of cheese is a bit thick, so you may need a spoon to break into the dip at first. You'll probably break your tortilla chip if you go straight in with it. =P Anyway, this recipe is easy, yummy, and perfect for get-togethers with friends or family. Enjoy!

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3

Monday, July 2, 2012

White Chip Brownies

My dad affectionately refers to these as "The World's Best Brownies," especially when served warm with vanilla ice cream and a bit of chocolate syrup. This recipe of homemade brownies is a brilliant creation from Nestlé® Toll House®. =)

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 (12 oz.) package white chocolate chips, divided

First off, preheat the oven to 350ᵒF and prepare a 9" square baking pan with foil (optional) and baking spray (not optional).

Then combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set it aside for now.

In your mixing bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, and mix it up until it's nice and combined. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Next, gradually add all of the flour mixture and beat until well combined. (That's some yummy-looking batter, eh?) Lastly, add 1 1/2 cups of the white chocolate chips -- note that you don't add the entire bag! The remaining 1/2 cup will come into play later.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake at 350ᵒF for 25-30 minutes. I always recommend checking a baked good after the minimum amount of time has passed. Today when I pulled out the pan after 25 minutes, the brownies were still gooey, as evidenced by the jiggling and using a toothpick to check for doneness, which came out with batter on it. I popped it back in the oven for five more minutes, and this time the toothpick only came out a little sticky, which, according to the recipe, means it's done! Hooray! Now it's time to let the brownies cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Once the brownies are cool, it's time to get out that other 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Now, I used to have no trouble with this part of the process, but the last time I made these brownies it just wouldn't come out right for some reason, and I ended up pretty much wasting a whooooole lotta white chocolate. =/ Anyway, the directions indicate that you add the remaining white chocolate chips to a heavy-duty (freezer-grade) zip-top bag and microwave it at 70% power for 30-45 seconds, then kneading the melting chocolate to mix. If it isn't completely smooth, you can continue microwaving at 70% power at 10-15 second intervals, kneading the chocolate in the bag each time until it's smooth. From what I understand, white chocolate is finicky when it comes to melting, and if it isn't done right it will harden (which is what happened to me last time). Anyway, assuming that it's done correctly, you then cut a tiny notch in a bottom corner of the bag and drizzle the white chocolate over the brownies however you desire. =)

Now, the directions indicate that you go ahead and drizzle the brownies while they're in the pan and uncut, and then refrigerate them for 5 minutes before cutting. I've run into problems with this method before, personally. After being refrigerated, the drizzle had hardened, and so when I cut the brownies the drizzle would pop off the brownies. =/ So I like to cut the brownies, remove them from the pan and place them on wax paper, and then drizzle each brownie individually. That way each brownie can keep its pretty white drizzle. =)

Now, if you want to go the extra mile, you can make a restaurant-style dessert out of these brownies. Warm up a brownie in the microwave for a few seconds and serve it with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup over the ice cream. Not only is it absolutely scrumptious, but the arrangement is pretty too!

Mmmmm... Chocolaty, moist, and amazing with ice cream. (By the way, I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. I honestly just didn't think about taking pictures during the process until it was already done. =P)

I definitely recommend this brownie, even if you're not a big fan of white chocolate (I'm not, and I think these are delicious). Enjoy it warm -- that's the best way!

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3