Category Archives: Mardi Gras

Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake

I’ve been tinkering around with different versions of king cakes for a few years now and I’ve finally got it. It is a mix of several different recipes.

It is slightly labor intensive since it involves letting the dough rise a couple of times but trust me, it is well worth it. I’ve actually had several people order them from me but now that I work full-time I just don’t always have time.

So here it is, get your aprons on!

This makes two king cakes.

Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour

For the Cream Cheese Filling
2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Praline Pecan Filling
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups of chopped pecans
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

For the Glaze
Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar, get the sifted 10x one
small splash of almond extract
small splash of butter extract
5 tbsp water

Method

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until thoroughly mixed. Set aside, and cool mixture.

Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a glass bowl, let stand 5 minutes.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
Attach the dough hook and let it knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk (I put it in my slightly warmed oven).

While that is rising, beat together the cream cheese mixture ingredients until smooth and well blended. In another bowl, mix together the praline pecan ingredients.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over each rectangle then sprinkle half of the pecan mixture on each half. Spread it evenly over the cream cheese.

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat Bring ends of roll together to form a ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients until smooth but still a little thick. You may add more water but be careful not to make it too thin.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 16 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before spooning the glaze over and topping with purple, yellow and green sprinkles or colored sugar.

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BLT Bites

Last month my brother-in-law and his fiancée got married.  I’m sure Michelle got lots of advice on wedding related things, but I told her my most important piece of advice is to make sure she gets a plate of food set aside for her to bring home!  I didn’t get to eat anything at my wedding reception, though I hear the food was fabulous!

Well this time I wasn’t the bride, just a bridesmaid.  So I got to eat!  There were many yummy things but there was one thing that stood out.  It was so unassuming, these little tomatoes on a platter.  I didn’t get one because I wasn’t sure what they were stuffed with and my plate was already full!  My mom got a few though and she told me to try one.  Heavenly! They taste exactly like little bite-sized BLTs, full of creamy bacon flavor.  I went back for more for myself and they were all gone :(  A few days later I went off in search of a recipe to make them and found it on Taste of Home’s website.   It was a huge hit at a jewelry party I had, I can’t wait to make them (and eat them!) again!

BLT Bites

BLT Bites
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:
1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

  • Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and very carefully scoop out the insides.  Give a little thought beforehand to how you’re going to scoop them out – I used the round part on a jalapeno corer.  You don’t want to tear the outside of the tomato and you don’t want to scoop all the way through.
  • Place all the tomatoes on a plate and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and mixed.  If the filling is too “firm” then add a little more mayonnaise and mix well.
  • Scoop into a ziploc bag fitted with an icing piping attachment (or just make a small hole in the tip of the bag) and gently squeeze the filling into the tomatoes.
  • Cover the tray and place in the refrigerator a few hours to firm up.
  • Serve cold.

Scooped-out tomatoes

Praline Coated Oreos

Happy Mardi Gras, ya’ll!  :)  Today is Fat Tuesday and in its’ honor I bring you a special treat – praline coated oreos.  I spotted this on Pinterest recently and after checking out the attached recipe, I decided to do it my own way.

I’m kind of weird about my pralines.  I don’t like those hard, dark-colored ones.  The pralines we (my mom and I) make are soft and creamy.  So rather than try someone else’s recipe and risk being disappointed, I stuck with what I know.  These were pretty simple to make, just make sure you let your praline “sauce” (for lack of a better word) thicken some.  I did some before it really thickened and they were a sticky mess.  Still tasted good though!  But the ones I did once it thickened were perfect.  So make sure to reach that soft ball stage and beat a little!

Note:  do not attempt pralines on a rainy day!

Praline Coated Oreos

Praline Coated Oreos

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
3 cups white sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg oreos
chopped pecans for topping – I used honey sugared pecans for a little extra fun

Method:

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring the butter, sugar and evaporated milk to a boil, stirring well to incorporate.  Continue stirring often until it gets to the soft ball stage, then remove from heat and add the vanilla.  Start whipping the liquid until it thickens some, then quickly begin dipping the oreos and placing them on waxed paper.  Make sure no kids are around because this stuff is HOT!

Before they start to harden, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each cookie.

Praline Coated Oreos

 

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits

We have a little tradition at our house where Sunday night is our “good meal” night of the week.  It’s usually something that is a little more time or labor intensive, something you wouldn’t be up to tackling during the week.  Often it’s something on the grill, or sometimes it’s something that has to simmer or roast for a while in the oven.  This week it was grits and grillades.

I know you’re thinking grits and grillades don’t really take all that long to cook, and you’re right.  They don’t.  But these are special grits.  They’re grits mixed with two different cheeses, cut into squares, battered and fried.  So when you top the crisp little boxes of grits with that savory beefy gravy and dig in, you get a small taste of crunch with the creamy cheesy grits.  And you keep digging in, way past when you should have called it quits.  Because it’s just so good.  So good.

I should note for those that can’t imagine what this tastes like – the grillades reminds me very much of boeuf bourguignon.  In fact, it made me say “hmmm, maybe next time we make b.b. we can make fried grits!

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits
Recipe adapted from my dad, Gerry!

Grillades Recipe:
1 lb. sirloin tip steaks
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
 ½ tsp black pepper
 ½ tsp garlic powder
 ½ cup flour
 2-3 slices bacon, browned and crumbled, grease reserved
 1 onion, chopped
 15oz can diced tomato
 1 can Rotel Original tomatoes
2 cups red wine
 5 squirts Worcestershire sauce
 1 tsp. basil
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Method:
Remove and discard fat from meat.  Cut into ½ inch wide strips.  Lay several pieces of meat on a cutting board, sprinkle with seasoning mix and a little flour.  Pound each piece of meat with a mallet till slightly flattened.  After all of the meat is tenderized, heat the bacon drippings in a large black iron pot and brown the meat on both sides.  Add seasoning blend and cook till veggies are tender, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add both cans of tomatoes and their liquid, reducing heat to medium. Add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, wine, basil and thyme.  Cook for an hour or so, until meat is tender.  If gravy becomes too thick, add wine or beef broth.  Just before serving, you can add chopped green onion tops.  Serve over fried or baked grits.
Grits Recipe
Cooked grits (make 8 servings)
 ½ cup shredded cheddar
4 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese
green onions
 seasoning mix (I use Tony Chachere’s)
 seasoned flour
 egg wash
 vegetable oil
Method:
Make grits according to package directions.  Mix with cheese, green onions, and seasonings.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Put into fridge overnight, or at least a few hours.  Cut grits into squares, dip into egg wash, then into seasoned flour.  Fry in about an inch of oil in a fry pan till browned.  Serve with grillades poured over it.

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits

Christen’s King Cake

Did you know that in Louisiana, the seasons are sometimes counted by food?  Sure!  We have crawfish season, crab season, shrimp season, deer season, alligator season and of course king cake season!  Right after Christmas, you start seeing the boxes of colorfully decorated king cakes show up in the supermarket (even though they aren’t supposed to until Jan. 6 – Epiphany).  I think it’s more fun to make your own.

I have several posts about king cakes because last year I was trying to figure this recipe out and get it just right.  I think I’ve finally succeeded so I’ll call this one “my” king cake recipe and I’ll have to put some notes on the others to come check this one out. 

Christen’s King Cake

Ingredients:
3.5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 pkg rapid-rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
powdered sugar
milk for the icing
juice of 1/2 lemon
sprinkles (purple, gold and green)

Method:

Preheat oven to 150.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1.5 cup flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, yeast and salt.  Heat milk and butter to warm.  Add to dry ingredients and mix using the dough hook.

Add the four eggs (one at a time) and mix in well.  Add in the vanilla.  Add 1 cup flour, mix until smooth, then mix in the rest of the flour.  Spoon dough into a greased glass bowl.  Turn OFF the oven and place the bowl of dough inside, covering with a towel.  Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  

Punch the dough down (yes it’s a sticky mess!), clean your hand and cover the bowl.  Place in the refrigerator a couple of hours, or until once again doubled in size.  Remove and empty onto a floured surface. 

Preheat oven to 350.

Add more flour and knead until not as sticky.  Using your hands, form it into a long rectangle.  Spread the filling along the middle of the rectangle.  Gently fold the top half over the bottom and seal the ends together, making a long tube.  Form into a circle and place on a cookie sheet with a silicone mat on top.  Brush the top of the dough lightly with milk and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.  Allow to cool completely.

While its cooling, make the icing.  Mix powdered sugar with just a tiny bit of milk and lemon juice until a very thick but spreadable consistency.  Once cake is cooled, spread the icing over, allowing it to drip down the sides.  Top with purple, gold and green sprinkles.

Filling Options

You can really fill it with anything, be creative!  But here are some of my favorite fillings:

Original/Cinnamon Roll Filling:
Mix 1 cup packed brown sugar in a bowl with 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1.5 tbsp melted butter.

Cream Cheese Filling:
Mix 1 pkg. softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

King Cake with Cream Cheese Filling