Archive for March, 2010

Spinach & Bacon Pinwheels

Looking at food blogs is a problem for me.  I always find these amazing photos of amazing dishes with simple enough or delectable enough recipes that I just HAVE to try them.  Today wasn’t one of those days.  It is true that the food blogs inspired me to rummage through my kitchen, but there was not a particular recipe that had really struck me as something I HAD to make immediately.

Instead, I opted to get rid of the frozen puff pastry dough, whose box was an odd length compared to everything else in the freezer, and always just seemed to be in the way.  I also had to use up the rest of my frozen spinach before it succumbed to freezer burn.  And what do you know, I happened to have some bacon on hand, along with some swiss cheese!  I thought I’d put some of my favorite flavors together in a yummy pastry snack!

Bikenut is not a fan of cooked spinach.  He likes it raw, preferably in salad with some candied nuts, dried cranberries, and a vinaigrette.  This being the case, I wasn’t sure if he was going to try these or not.   Turns out that he did try one and he actually liked it!  He said that they were rich and filling, so he could only eat the one, but he definitely enjoyed it.  Color me shocked!

As I was just throwing this together on a whim and not following any recipe, the amounts here are approximate, so use your best judgment, or your best taste bud. 😀

Spinach & Bacon Pinwheels

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed per package instructions
  • 8 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • 4 slices of swiss cheese
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • (If I had any at the time, I would have added a bit of thinly sliced or finely diced onion, and thinly sliced mushrooms)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Unfold puff pastry dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. Squeeze all moisture out of spinach, then combine spinach and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add all spices to mixing bowl and stir until well-blended.
  4. Spread mixture evenly over puff pastry dough.  Sprinkle bacon over spinach mixture.
  5. Tear slices of Swiss cheese into pieces and arrange over the top of the pastry.  This will make it easier to roll than leaving in slices.
  6. Roll dough into a log, then slice lengthwise, into about 1″ segments.  Place cut side down on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Brush pastry dough with egg wash or melted butter, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cocoa Brownies

I had a serious craving for brownies.  A friend had brought some over last week for our LOST dinner, but we sent him home with the rest of the pan because I would have eaten them all on my own and that would have displeased Bikenut.  So, of course, I decided to make a whole pan instead.  Silly me.

I’ve never made brownies that didn’t come out of a box, and I didn’t feel like going to the store, so I scoured the internet for a recipe.  (Okay, honestly, I went to TasteSpotting.com and found a suitable recipe in a matter of minutes.)

As is usually the case for me, I immediately determined that the amount of vanilla extract seemed too light, so the recipe below is my slightly-modified version of the recipe in the link above.

Most of the recipes I ran across called for melting chopped chocolate in a double-boiler, which seemed like WAY more work than I was willing to put forth.  I mean, I didn’t even want to go to the store to buy a box of brownies, or even a pan of pre-made ones.  Besides, I didn’t have any bar chocolate so I would have had to go to the store for that too.  Thankfully, I found a recipe that didn’t call for any actual chocolate!  It called only for unsweetened cocoa powder, which I did happen to have on hand thanks to my curiosity over red velvet cake.

The recipe I selected also called for melting the butter over a double-boiler as well, but that’s just too much trouble.  The microwave works just as well in this case, so that simplified things.  One bowl, one rubber spatula, one 8″x8″ baking dish and that’s it!  Easy peasy and the results are so much better than the store-bought box mix with hardly any extra effort!

So, here’s my version of the recipe for Cocoa Brownies.  Enjoy!

Cocoa Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 8×8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
  2. Cut butter into 8-10 pieces and place in medium, microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on high for 1 minute.  (Butter will not be completely melted.)
  3. Add sugar, cocoa, and salt to the butter, stir together.  Heat on high for another 45 seconds.  Stir, ensuring all butter has melted.  If necessary, microwave in 5 second intervals until butter is melted, but not boiling or foaming.
  4. Stir mixture until all ingredients are well-incorporated.  Texture will appear gritty.  Allow to cool until mixture is warm, but not hot to the touch.
  5. Add vanilla and stir well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated.  Batter should be dark, shiny and thick.
  6. Add flour and fold into the batter until flour is just blended in.  Beat vigorously for 40 more strokes.  Add nuts (optional) and fold into mixture.  Spread batter evenly in the greased baking dish.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes on the center rack, or until a toothpick poked into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean.
  8. Let brownies cool before cutting.  If you can’t wait, warm brownies can be easily cut with a plastic knife or spatula.