roasted strawberry & chocolate grilled cheese with brie

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tomato soup & grilled cheese roll-ups

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for the grilled cheese – using a rolling pin, flatten bread squares to 1/4 inch thickness. Place a cheese slice on top of each slice of bread, then roll up tightly. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add roll ups to the skillet, cooking until all sides are golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 3-4 minutes, adding more butter as needed.

for the tomato soup –  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. Add in the shallots and garlic, cooking until soft and slightly golden, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, sherry, chicken stock, brown sugar, basil, salt and pepper, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a high-powered blender and carefully blend until pureed or your desired consistency is reached. Transfer back to the pot over low heat. Right before serving, stir in the heavy cream. Taste and season additionally with salt and pepper if needed. To serve, garnish with freshly grated cheese and fresh herbs.

carrot cake cheesecake swirl

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Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla and orange zest and whisk until no lumps remain. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking until incorporated after each addition. Set bowl aside. In another large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and whisk until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold until just combined. Then fold in the carrots, raisins and pecans if using. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a medium bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on high speed until fully incorporated. Then add the egg and mix until just incorporated. Spread this cheesecake layer over the carrot cake layer. It will start to drop into the carrot cake batter – but that’s ok! It is a carrot-cheesecake swirl after all! After adding the cheesecake layer, spread the remaining carrot cake batter over the cheesecake and gently smooth.

Bake for 55-75 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts to brown before the inside is done, lightly cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake. Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling make the frosting. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream cheese for 20 seconds or so until it is just soft enough to whisk. Whisk until somewhat smooth and then add the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk again until smooth. Add milk or cream to the cream cheese starting with 2 tablespoons and adding more depending on your desired consistency. For a thinner, glaze like mixture add more. For a thicker, spreadable mixture use less! Pour or spread on top of the cake once cool. Serve and enjoy!

Sticky Sticky Buns

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In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water and salt. Strain to remove any lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes or until at room temperature. This should yield about 3 cups.

Divide your brioche dough in half and save the other half for another use.

On a floured surface, roll out the brioche into a rectangle approximately 12×16 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Position so the short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4 inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, about 1 1/2 inches wide each. Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy and soft and the buns are almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350°F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

Buns are best served warm but they can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 day and warmed in a 325°F oven for 10-12 minutes.