Chocolate Overload S’mores Cheesecake

Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

I remember my sister and I sitting on the back porch tearing yesterday’s newspaper into small ragged pieces and placing them into an empty can. Probably one of my grandmother’s Folgers cans, you know the blue one with the plastic lid? We used those as vessels to fulfill our need for the melty gooey, chocolatey goodness that would soon tangle our fingers in a web of mallowy strands and cocoa smear. If I had to choose a house that I missed, it was this house with the huge backyard where we often watched the deer drink from the pond and the trees overflow with black walnuts, pears and apples. We were young and naive and had no real appreciation for the seasonal jewels that rolled across the forest floor. I mean, we ate the occasional fruit and cracked a few nuts now and again but nothing too serious. I remember seeing our next door neighbor gathering the nuts in the evening to crack for an evening snack.

Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

If I had the passion for food I have now back then, I imagine that I would’ve encouraged the making of pies, tarts, jams and jellies, but those are merely the wishes of a time gone. And we all know that living in the past can prove to be a detriment to one’s growth; no one wants that…do they? S’mores are the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to nostalgic childhood treats. The simplicity of those three ingredients combined have the capability to solve life’s conundrums, sartorial – political or otherwise. There may be a little embellishment in there but work with me folks, we’re talkin’ s’mores.

I know that with the arrival of Pinterest and food bloggers appearing by the dozen every hour — these once sacred treats are always getting a new makeover from pie-pops to cake but I warn you, steer clear, it’s a trap and you won’t be happy. What I’m giving you today is an all year round invitation to the snack once cornered to Autumnal nights and snow-capped backdrops. We should be able to indulge in all of this goodness any time the mood awakes within us and be able to do so without checking the weather report. Lord knows, it won’t be correct anyway. The time is winding down and as you know I am collaborating with the fine folks of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival to bring you some delicious food posts in anticipation for the event.

I can’t begin to tell you how full my heart is full knowing that we are only a few weeks away from that Blue Ridge Mountain seduction. We found the perfect place to stay in walking distance to coffee shops and you know how I love the beans. We’re plotting out all our favorite places to dine as if we won’t be eating enough AVL goodness between the Sweet Event and The Grand Tasting! If you haven’t made plans to attend, there’s still time and you won’t want to miss it! In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for one of your favorite childhood treats and steer clear of all those other impostors (wink).

IMG_1544-0 Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

Chocolate Overload S’mores Cheesecake

Crust… 2 cups Crushed Graham Cracker
3 Tablespoons Granulated White Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (slightly melted)

Filling…
2-8 ounce pkgs Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/3 Granulated White Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Nielsen Massey Bourbon Vanilla
2 Large Eggs 1/2 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Topping…
6.2 ounces of Hershey’s Chocolate (4 1.55 oz bars)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Cups Miniature Marshmallows

Method

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put your butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until mostly melted but not hot. Mix together your graham crackers, granulated sugar, salt and butter until you can squeeze the mixture in your hand and form clumps. You may need a little more butter depending upon the dryness of your grahams. Place the mixture in the bottom of an ungreased cake pan, square or circle, it doesn’t really matter. Evenly pat down the crumbs until no holes remain. If you have a pan slightly smaller and the same size I would use it smash it down evenly. Smash…giggle. Bake in the oven for ten minutes, remove and allow to cool. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees for your filling.

Place your cream cheese into a standing mixer with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Let the mixture whip on medium speed for two minutes, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula and then evenly distribute the filling over your cooled crust. Surround the bottom of your pan with aluminum foil. you will probably need to pieces to criss cross the bottom of the pan and create a boat for the cheesecake, be gentile. Place this into a larger baking pan and fill the surrounding area with warm water about 1/2 way up the side. Place the entire thing into the oven slowly as to avoid splashing water into the cheesecake. Let cook for 90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cheesecake is done, allow it to set in the water for 30 minutes and I noticed that the top didn’t crack like the last time I made it and removed it immediately once cooked. Give it a try! Allow to cool overnight or for at least 90 minutes.

Then, take your chocolate and rough chop it, place it in a microwaveable bowl with your vegetable oil. Heat it in the microwave for 20 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Be careful not to overcook your chocolate, this will give you nasty sugar crystals (not cool). Pour it over the graham cracker crust, place it in the fridge and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.

Turn on the broiler, if you have a temperature option I typically use HI and watch the marshmallows like a hawk. Let your oven come up to temp. Evenly distribute the marshmallows over the chocolate, try not to leave any exposed chocolate and more marshmallows never hurt anybody. Place the pan on the high rack , tell the kids to step back. You should be squatting with the oven door open watching your marshmallows get nice and toasty right before they burn. Though this is totally subjective on how much crunch and torchy marsh you like, I like a lot! You may need a towel at hand to slightly rotate your dish to get even torch (no marsh left behind, ask Bush) on your marshmallows. Once your topping has the right color that you prefer, allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into it. You will want to run a sharp knife under hot water if you desire perty slices.

I hope you and the family enjoy this recipe, I mean s’mores all year round, you’re winning! Chocolate Overload S'mores Cheesecake

Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry & Squash Salad

The Asheville Wine & Food Festival & A Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry with Squash Salad

The Asheville Wine & Food Festival is right around the corner and my anticipation has reached a new level of out of control! Our Airbnb is booked and I won’t even begin to spill all the goodness about the cozy-decor-ed little apartment we scored! There’s just something about being in Asheville that makes you wonder why you haven’t been there all along, but don’t worry Nashville, I’m not leaving you! In anticipation for the food-coma of a festival I’ve whipped you up a vegetarian salad that will put a smile on your heart and keep you true to that summer diet. And revel in it guys because vegetarian options are a rarity here folks!

It seems like yesterday, my eyes were rolling into the back of my head and my arms were making a swift motion to push the plate across the table. Oh, you ask, “What was on that plate?” Well, if you were a resident of the blue home on Houston Avenue it may have been anything from buttered peas and onions to turnips or rutabagas, either way I wanted no part of it. But I was young and naive to the joy that these spring time and autumnal veggies had to offer. I only knew or at least thought I knew that they were healthy and weren’t worth another look, pass the mac and cheese please (wink).

IMG_1377

My mom cooked vegetables often and I’m not even sure if she loved them or if it was just something innate from her childhood. Because often you would arrive to my grandmother’s house and there would only be a pot of stewed vegetables on the stove and a cast-iron skillet of cornbread. And I had become accustomed to this tradition and over time it became a treat, as my palate matured and all those vegetables slowly began to take on their own definitive taste in my mind. It wasn’t as simple as ‘if you’ve tried one of them, you’ve tried them all’ which I lived by this mantra back then.

And now vegetables of all kinds arouse the epicurean within me and I want to know all the ways to use them. How other cultures enjoy from day-to-day; season to season, and what kinds exist that I’ve yet to discover? The Nashville farmer’s markets are flooded with all kinds of summer goods from the soils bountiful harvest and I can’t resist leaving the market with a bag full of them to explore. I’ve been pickling, jamming and tossing all the things in vinaigrettes and it won’t cease anytime soon. I’m enamored with the color varieties that vegetables come in even if the flavor doesn’t change, it keeps that dinner plate interesting and makes for beautiful presentation.

The recipe for this salad is relatively easy, you’ll have to put a little time in but the end product is well worth it. And squash has been killer this summer, so much so, that it has ended up in many a dish for dinner. The combination of these tart cherries, earthy sweet tomatoes and the burst of brightness from the lemon vinaigrette work so well with the zesty pop of the onions. I think you’ll be making this for summers to come…if you’re smart. Also, if you want more info on the Asheville Wine & Food Festival simply click here! I’d love to see you there!

Summer Tomato, Tart Cherry & Squash Salad

2 Summer Squash
1/2 cup pitted & sliced cherries (tart)
1/4 cup julienne red onion
3 Tomatoes

Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

1 medium lemon (zested & squeezed)
2 tablespoons TRU Bee Honey
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)

Method

First, rinse all of your fruit off under cold water for about thirty seconds to remove all debris. Julienne one-quarter of a red onion, put it in an ice-cold bath for about 5 minutes. I do this to remove the sharp bite that onions may have. Take them out, lightly pat them with napkins to remove excess water. Shave your summer squash with a potato peeler or a mandolin, place in a bowl with onions. Core and slice your tomatoes into thin wedges or you may dice them if you like. Then, add them to the onions and squash, set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients for your lemon-honey vinaigrette and whisk them vigorously in a small bowl until a temporary emulsion forms. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the squash, onions, and tomatoes and toss gently with your ‘clean’ hands for about 30 seconds or so. Taste again for salt and adjust accordingly. Arrange salad on the serving platter or plates how you see fit and last, but not least, place the cherries across the top. Enjoy!

Note: I also think sherry or rice wine vinegar would be a great substitute if you don’t have apple cider vin on hand, but you may need to add a little sugar (like a teaspoon) if using rice wine vinegar. This salad would also be nice with seared duck breasts or grilled salmon if you’re feeling fancy!

 

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Recipes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nashville Recipes, Cookie Recipes, Chocolate

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

This summer heat is working me over like crazy and even the sweat beads on my brow are becoming frustrated. Its like the sun has a vendetta and its unleashing hell and taking names, literally. But as far as  I’m concerned it could never be too hot to eat chocolate or break into a textbook chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate chip cookies are my sacred-kind of childhood snack and you may call me a snob when it comes down to it. I mean, cookies run rampid on the inter webs, being stuffed with nutella and laced with truffles for the so-called ‘real foodies’ but you can keep those. I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to the circular, sometimes amoeba-shaped little puckets that pair so well with cold milk and shakes alike. Yes, milkshakes and cookies are sheer perfection, just ask my inner eight year old, he’ll tell you all about it.

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies,  Cookies, Chocolate Recipes, Nashville Food Bloggers, Bloggers, Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

Goo Goo Clusters were the equivalency of currency in our home and a treat to be savored upon the completion of one’s chores. My mother kept them tucked into the third shelf of what was better known as the snack cabinet. There were bags of Doritos, Moon Pies, Oreos and Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, because those were my dad’s vice along with bottled coke.

I remember being in the line at the grocery store and spying the sweet treat laced with peanuts and dipped in chocolate sitting snug in the silver packages on the shelf. They were always calling my name and appealing to every desire in my four and a half foot being. Whenever I received my allowance I typically bought whatever I saw first because the money was ‘burning my pockets’ as my mom would say,  and back then you could find the Goo Goos three for a dollar. So quite naturally I bought six.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I find joy in partaking in the most simplistic forms of dessert. I have a great appreciation for those creatives who taking something ordinary and make it extra-ordinary, but at the heart of it, all I desire is the textbook chocolate chip cookie, a moist slice of chocolate cake with the perfect amount of frosting, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maybe a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce. I went on the search for a cookie recipe that gave me the crunch around the edges, the chew in the center and the cookie that when you bit into it, nothing else matters and just for a moment–for a brief and satisfactory moment, you are the only person that matters. And I hope to give that to you today with these cookies. Now, remember to read all the way through the recipe before you begin, and definitely space your cookies the three inches apart because the nougat and caramel will cause your cookies to spread significantly, but thats not a bad thing in this case. Enjoy.

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melt slightly & allow to cool slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen Massey vanilla
2 cups chopped Goo Goo Cluster chunks (Original & Supreme)
1/2 cup of %60 cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cover your sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

3. Beat together melty butter & sugars in a large bowl with a Kitchen-aid mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, but do it gradually so you don’t have a mess on your hands, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a bowl & add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to the butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until just blended, then stir in Goo Goo chunks & chocolate chips.

4. Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, placing the portions 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheet pans.

5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Remember that oven temps vary so keep an eye on your cookies. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue baking off the rest of your batter and cook it off.

Note: I have tried this recipe after dough has been frozen so I’m not sure how well it would work out but if you try it let me know!

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Goo Goo Cluster Chocolate Chip Cookies

macerated strawberries and a farewell to Spring 

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

When I was a child tracing the cracks of sidewalks with my tender bare feet I knew nothing of the joy that each season had to offer–I was simply on a mission to find things in the dirt and release them from the soils firm grip. It seems like yesterday Nanny was walking across the decrepit bridge to the garden in search of the overnight harvest. She would pluck a basketful of tomatoes that were tugging at the vines and grazing the moist dirt below. The Serrano peppers would be swaying in the breeze as if wanting to chime like bells on the veranda. It was indeed summer and spring was leaving behind the last of the wild berries that grew up against the fence. The old wooden fence where you could occasionally catch a glimpse of our neighbor’s dog’s eyes glaring at you in the sun. I avoided getting to close to that fence in fear of shrilling barks being directed my way with great force–and laced with disdain and contempt for my existence. That is what I knew of dogs then, not now.

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

I remember only having a few strawberries to eat from those bushes because they didn’t produce much fruit and I’m not sure why. But it may have something to do with the local plants in Oak Ridge contaminating our water supply, I kid, we had much supply of vegetables that never lacked the ambition of sprouting forth–only the strawberries. I was a lover of strawberries when I was a child but I was a meticulous eater of sorts, only chasing the lush red fruit and leaving the slightly bitter and tangy hull behind. This relationship was and is still the same with many other fruits today, don’t judge, you simply like what you like and we are who we are.macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

macerated fruit, strawberries, Delvin Farms, buy local

In my family, I simply can’t recall anyone ever macerating strawberries or fruit. It just wasn’t ‘a thing’ in my family. My mother and Nanny both used the gelatin in a tub when making desserts if Nanny wasn’t putting it in Jell-O mold for a church potluck. My father’s mother was the rinse and eat from the pint kind’ve of woman, and the resident baker, my cousin Carnell would typically bake them into a cake that would be lathered with strawberry frosting. It wasn’t until my mother in-law came into the picture some eleven years later that I would actually know and love the art of macerated strawberries. I’m sure I came across it in some format or another throughout culinary school but nothing that stuck like when the MIL made them.macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

There’s nothing like strawberries in season that will create a flutter in your heart and an excitement of your palate when you bend down to pluck it fresh from the vine. The experience of that tender bite kissed by sun, releasing that sweet juice into your mouth and without warning the corners of your lips begin to curl up the sides and you’re smiling ‘something serious’ that just can’t be contained. The strawberries you’re feasting your eyes upon in the post today are from the lovely folks at Delvin Farms and some from the folks at Kelley’s Berry Farm. I won’t lie to you I picked both of them up at East Nashville Farmer’s Market because I like to spread the love event though I occasionally have my bias depending upon the product. But I couldn’t fight the urge to have these berries in snacking distance so I sat them in the front seat, and if you know anything about Nashville traffic, it’s a nightmare. I came to an abrupt stop and the berries began to cascade in slow motion through the air and onto my ‘freshly cleaned’ car floor (wink). Well, there was no way I would be able to separate them and I don’t think the berries minded being blended so everyone was happy and now we’re spreading the love for two companies, so win win.

As you all know it’s kind’ve of a pain in the roo to put recipes into a formatted display in which you can just scroll down to the bottom and make it. I’m a talker and I’m going to tell you what to do to have this deliciousness in your mouth sooner than later. Not to mention, I love that it encourages you guys to actually read the content though I know there are those of you who hate it (sorry, not sorry)!macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

All you need are some fresh local strawberries or some Driscoll’s or whatever store brand you can get your hands on will work. I know that I caught you kind of late with this post because strawberry season has ended for us here but you may be lucky. And be warned that most mass producers pick strawberries before they’re ready so macerating them is never a bad option. Always rinse your strawberries off unless you have a little country in you, like myself, then you eat them in the car on the way home from the market. Cut the berries into whatever size you prefer and toss them in to a couple of tablespoons of granulated white sugar. I recommend two tablespoons of sugar per pint of berries you have. Toss the berries in the sugar to give them an even coating in a bowl that’s not metal. Let them set in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes occasionally giving them a little stir to insure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Once you have a nice syrup in the bottom and fruit has weeped just a little, you have a perfect bowl of macerated strawberries ready to be devoured. This is great to do with your kids, it makes the perfect topping for a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream and this process also works well with peaches, plums, pineapple etc. And if you desire to use raspberries or blackberries you’ll want to crush some of the fruit to encourage juicing.

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

You can find this recipe on Steller Stories and please follow along for quick recipes and creative happenings in my life. I really hope you guys enjoy and I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your seasonal fruits!

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

 

Green Bean Delivery Service, Vegetable Soup & $15 Off Your First Order!

Green Bean Delivery Service, Nashville, TN, buy local, food blogger, food styling, chefs

Green Bean Delivery Service Nashville, TN, The Local Forkful Blog, Food Delivery Services, Nashville Food Bloggers            organic carrots, carrots, food styling, foodie, nashville tn, food blogger

Your local CSA’s are in full swing. Farmers can’t keep up with the Summer’s harvest as it sprouts from the soil thanks to Spring’s rain. And it’s one of my favorite time’s of year because produce is flowing freely and I can barely keep up with the veggies from farmers markets in the fridge before they go bad. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to tell you about a food delivery service here in Nashville, Green Bean Delivery.

The Green Bean Delivery service approached me with the offer to receive a FREE bin of goodies from their selection of local/non-local produce and groceries. I couldn’t resist the opportunity because my wife and I work very busy schedules and its hard to go grocery shopping sometimes. So this just seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out to see if it was something we’d be interested in doing more than once and we have. Check out the 5 reasons while you’ll love them from organic offerings to supporting local and fighting food insecurity. I enjoyed being able to receive items from Provence Breads, Hatcher Dairy and even some eggs from Willow Farms.

cremini mushrooms via Green Bean Delivery

Its super simple , and there’s no membership or enrollment fees which is a plus, it stinks to feel like you’re married to something that you don’t use often, like ‘gym memberships’…zing! But you go to the website, browse the shop and have a field day, though I won’t lie to you, it’s not cheap but the prices aren’t far off from what you’re paying at your local grocer and did I mention you don’t have to find a parking space or touch grocery carts covered in pink-eye!? You have to commit to minimal pricing packages like you’ll have to purchase $28 in veggies and produce before moving on to groceries and then it’s a minimum of $35 after that. They’re just encouraging you to ‘Eat Your Veggies’ and support our farmer friends, in which a lot of the vegetables are from their own farms in Indiana and Ohio.

You get the option to have your delivery scheduled for Monday or Thursday between noon and eight pm. I received my first box on a Thursday evening and I won’t lie, my emotions were that of a Christmas morning and the best part is that I knew the contents of the package because I chose them, so no returns here folks. I also picked some products that I wanted to try, so don’t forget to check out the discount section on their site too!

You can also opt to have it delivered to your office or pick it up at their warehouse near the airport. You can cancel or suspend your items in case you’re going out-of-town or maybe your schedule changes.

The weather was still cool when I first received this service, I didn’t want you to think I was completely crazy making hot soup in the summer time, not that there’s anything wrong with that! I would love to see more local options included in the selection because we love local here at The Local Forfkul and they also take requests for products you’d like to see in their options and will try to accommodate you. And because you guys are awesome and you read my bloggity blog, you will receive $15 off your first order, so #winning! The code is bc6lofo and it will expire three months from today.

This soup is very simple, it’s actually one-stop shop. I sautéed some onions until translucent, and then add the garlic. Allow that to cook until aromatic about two minutes. Add five cups of chicken broth, and add sliced some mushrooms and asparagus. I also threw in some kale and chickpeas I had in the fridge. Add a can of tomato puree, fresh thyme then salt and pepper to taste. I let that slow simmer for about 30 minutes until all the flavors began to come together. A little squeeze of fresh lemon doesn’t hurt if you have it. I hope you guys enjoy your Green Bean Delivery orders as much as I have! Here are a few links from some food blogging friends who also used the service!

Erin’s Food Files // Lesley Eats // Eat Drink Smile

Please comment below if you’ll try the service and what you might be cooking with your box of goodies! I want to hear all about!

 

rainbow chard, green bean delivery, nashville, tn