Posted: January 30th, 2010 | Filed under: Breakfast | Tags: Bread, Breakfast, Pancakes | 1 Comment »
I have this one little problem with Saturday mornings… I love to sleep in. I get up really early most weekday mornings. Really early. And there isn’t much more that I love and look forward to than sleeping in. However… my little brain just can’t seem to sleep that long. Poor brain is just an overactive mess. So on the days when I most look forward to sleeping in, I always inevitably wake up around 8. (Now… yes, that is sleeping in little, but come on, what happened to the days when I could sleep past 10am… or even to noon?!) So I lay there for awhile… trying to will little brain to go back to sleep. But alas, I always get up a few minutes later and start pattering around the aparment.
Pattering does mean one thing… I can start getting things done a little early. Like the sink full of dishes, a load of laundry, and maybe catch a few minutes to read and be quiet and start a french press of coffee.
So this morning I decided to attempt pancakes again. Now… I know what you are thinking… attempt pancakes? Attempt? Pancakes aren’t that hard.. they are a basic that people everywhere have on weekend mornings. But I have a little something to admit. I can make a pancake from a mix like a pancake ninja. I even had a pancake party in college. I was pancake makin’ for hours! But the from scratch pancake has been impossible for me to master. I have tried and tried recipes with reputations of being amazing and have managed to burn, undercook, and toughen all of them. This is just sad. Truly sad… and my poor husband has faithfully eaten all of them.
And then this morning happened. I had been perusing the food blogs this week and noticed a few pancake recipes that looked possibly promising… but seriously, with my track record what could that actually mean. But I tried again. I felt confident in my newly cleaned kitchen… (ok… kind of confident… still pretty shaky.) And thank goodness for this recipe… pancakes can be present in Saturday mornings once more.
So sweet husband got up a few hours later, to the smell of coffee, and fresh pancake batter… and only minutes later, a big stack of sour cream pancakes were on the table, laden with butter and warm maple syrup. And they were good. I mean repeat worthy good. And I am so happy. They aren’t too fluffy, or too flat, or flavorless or doughy… just a nice pancake, with a special little tang from the cream cheese. I can’t wait to try these this summer with fresh blueberries and a blueberry syrup… yum.
Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
7 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream (I swapped some with yogurt when I realized I was short, to no ill-effect)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat; you want it to slowly get nice and hot.
Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in the bottom of a medium bowl. Dump the sour cream in on top and stir it together very gently; it’s okay to leave the texture a bit uneven. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir them into the sour cream mixture, once again, being careful not to overmix.
Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your skillet or griddle and pour the batter in, a scant 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, or until bubbles appear all over the surface, flipping them carefully and cooking for about a minute on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve in a stack, topped with a pat of butter and a cascade of maple syrup.
Posted: January 24th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake | Tags: Cake, Chocolate, Easy, Fudge, One bowl | 3 Comments »
Chocolate cake is a tricky little thing. It is no good if it is too dry (as is most cake), too moist (then it should just be a pudding), or just not very full of that delicious chocolate flavor (and we all know it can also go too far the other way). I remember very distinctly going to a birthday party for a friend a few years ago… she is a big chocolate lover, and chocolate cake was served at her party. It was bought from a grocery store bakery, decorated with scrolling letters, exclaiming the excitement of my friend turning another year older. She blew out the candles, licked the bottom of the pink one, and started cutting and passing. With my plastic fork I put a bite into my mouth… and slowly, but regretfully chewed and swallowed. Needless to say… I did not finish my piece of the cake. It was waxy, dry, with gritty icing, and no flavor. I think the plastic fork and the cake had plenty in common.
Two years ago Ryan bought me a cake from a grocery store bakery. Now this was not just your regular run of the mill grocery store… this was an all natural, organic foods, gourmet foods grocery store. A bakery we thought would be trusted and tasty. Now Ryan is an amazing man.. he knows that chocolate makes his little wife (me) happy. Very happy. But there is a such thing as overwhelmingly sweet and rich cake. And that is NOT a good thing. Not at all. This dark chocolate cake with ganache filling and chocolate butter cream icing looked very rich. Too rich. And it was. It was too sweet, it was too rich, it was too much chocolate flavor… it was an uncomfortable amount of chocolate. So much so that I couldn’t really enjoy the chocolate at all. All in all, that cake was a bust. (Sorry Ryan.) **I admit… I have made similar cakes before… and I apologize for that.
And then there are those cakes that I’ve made from complicated recipes, towering high with layers of icing, stacked and beautiful.. hours spent slaving away melting and stirring and whipping and measuring and checking to make sure that there is not a second of over cooking. But this cake… this cake is not that way. Thankfully. This cake is a new staple. One to keep on hand for the impromptu party or dessert (or chocolate craving). This recipe doesn’t call for fancy milks or fancy chocolate or fancy anything really. But its moist, its fluffy, its light enough. It does not beat you over the brow with chocolate. It introduces chocolate in a friendly “Hi, I’m Chocolate… nice to meet you again…” kind of way. And its easy. It is so easy. And this frosting… this is a new favorite. Not too milky, not too dark, nothing hard. Not gritty, not oily, not greasy, not too sweet, just perfect. This cake does not require a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or any fancy schmancy kitchen device and could be doubled or tripled, and baked in different pans and stacked or iced as a sheet or made into cute tiny cupcakes or bundts. But its pretty good this way. In fact, I suggest you try it this way first… let yourself be reintroduced to friendly chocolate first, before you get all crazy on it.
Chocolate Stack Loaf
From Better Homes and Gardens
1 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c hot water
Preheat to 350 F and lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan. Line pan with wax paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt cocoa powder and brown sugar. Add butter, vanilla and eggs-mix. The mix will evolve into a thick paste.
Add hot water and carry on whisking. Pour into pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Invert cake and cool for about an hour. Cut the loaf into three equal rectangles. Frost the cakes and stack, and frost the sides and top. Dust with cocoa powder if you so choose.
6 tbsp butter unsalted
1 c sugar
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place all ingredients short of whipping cream and vanilla into a saucepan on the stove. Heat on low. Gradually add whipping cream while stirring. Do not boil… Remove from heat when smooth. Add vanilla and allow to cool completely before using. Fudge frosting will need an hour or two to cool before usage.
Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Filed under: Pie | Tags: Graham crust, Lemon, Lemon Icebox, Pie, Whipped cream | 1 Comment »
The weather here has gotten a little warmer… it was beautiful today. Bright and airy and blue skies (not that I could see them from my windowless office most of the day) and a light breeze. It just makes me want fresh bright flavors. Lucky for me… I ust made a lemon icebox pie for my sweet hubby.
Ryan was away most of the weekend… and I always like to have something he likes prepared for when he gets home… so I decided to make something I just knew he would love.
See… Ryan doesn’t really have a big sweet tooth… but he really likes lemon meringue pie and key lime pie… so why not take the best of both and make a beautiful lemon icebox pie… what a perfect dessert to go with such a beautiful day!
Lemon Icebox Pie with Lemon Scented Whipped Cream
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Fresh berries, for serving, optional
Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Using your hands, firmly press the mixture across the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until the crust is golden brown and firm, about 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
Combine the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix on medium speed until smooth (about five minutes). Pour into the cooled pie crust. Refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, place the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in a chilled mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the whipped cream and berries.
Posted: January 14th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake | Tags: almond, buttermilk, buttermilk poundcake, fewer calories pound cake, light, poundcake, Vanilla | 2 Comments »
So now that cake and I are a couple again…
I decided to try out a cake recipe that I flagged over a year ago. Man, I really regret waiting so long. Here is the thing… I like pound cake a lot… and I’ve made some excellent buttermilk cake before… but its the new year… and I don’t want to totally reverse my hours clocked at the gym… so this is really the perfect answer… a slightly adapted version of Cooking Light’s Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cake… much “healthier” – because… come on… its still cake. Its not like I’m downing fresh apples and celery sticks over here. So if I’m going to eat cake– and lets face it–I don’t eat bad cake… this is still way tasty and not as terrible as the pound of butter, pound of sugar thing most pound cakes have going for them. (Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.)
However… I’m not sure I helped the calorie cutting at all when I covered them in a nice velvety ganache… but oh well.
Vanilla Almond Buttermilk Pound Cakes
Adapted from Cooking Light
13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt); stir with a whisk. Place sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Spoon batter into mini bundt pans, or cupcake pans with liners. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack.
8 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3/4c heavy whipping cream
2 tbs butter
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.
Posted: January 13th, 2010 | Filed under: Chicken, Vegetables | Tags: Chicken, Easy, herb potatoes, lemon chicken, Potatoes, quick, Red potatoes, Roasted chicken, Roasted potatoes | 3 Comments »
There are a few dishes I would like to work on perfecting this spring… one of those things is a roasted chicken. Simple, unassuming, unpretentious, and just right. Full of flavor, even with only a few ingredients, a really good roasted chicken is an almost intimidating dish. I don’t want fancy rubs or sauces. I don’t want fruity glazes or spicy gravies to go on my dinner plate. I wanted something that was just surprisingly simplistic and delicious. And so I did. I roasted chicken. It was inexpensive. It was easy. It was moist. It was a little comforting, especially with the cold still here. It was a great meal for the middle of the week.
To keep things easy and roasted I paired the chicken with a side of roasted red potatoes… a favorite of mine, and if you’ve known me long enough… chances are you’ve had them once or twice.
Incredibly easy, and always a crowd pleaser, try these for your next pot luck or dinner gathering. Who’s ready for dinner now?
1 3-4 lb whole chicken (neck and giblets removed, chicken rinsed and pated dry)
5-10 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic) peeled
Fresh ground pepper
2 tbs Olive oil
2 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried thyme
2 lemons (1 cut in half, 1 cut in quarters)
3/4 c chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place the chicken on a roasting pan, rack, or in a dutch oven. Coat the exterior of the chicken with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the dried herbs and a good amount of salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of the halved lemon over the chicken. Place the garlic and the quartered lemon around the chicken. Place in the oven and roast for 3o min uncovered. After 30 min, take out of the oven and pour chicken stock over the chicken. Continue roasting the chicken uncovered and basting with its own juices every 15 min for another 45 min. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest with foil lightly draped over it for 15-20 min. Carve and enjoy.
2 lbs red potatoes washed and quartered
2 tbs olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 tbs dried rosemary
(I usually roast these at 400 degrees F, but since the chicken is already in the oven… you can just shorten the time)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss your potatoes in the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Roast for 15 min, flip the potatoes and continue roasting for another 15 min.
Posted: January 10th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake | Tags: best chocolate icing, best yellow cake, chocolate icing, Classic cupcakes, Cupcakes, easy frosting, golden cake | 1 Comment »
The other day I was thinking to myself… ‘Self… why haven’t you posted much about cake yet? Its in your blog name, you love cake, you’re all about cake… you bake it all the time….” So it got me thinking… when was the last time I baked cake? I made that Apple Cider Gingerbread Cake back in December… but nothing since then. I guess I was focusing on pies, tarts, soups, and other things. My baking bug had apparently gone into a mini hibernation spell. But don’t worry, the bug is back. So this weekend I got back my baking legs. I made a basic yellow cake yesterday but didn’t love it. But thats what I wanted. I wanted something basic, simple, clean and sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting creative with cake. But I just wanted something classically delicious; something that never fails to satisfy my sweet tooth.
So I tried again today… I went with a tried and true recipe from a tried and true baker. And out they came… smelling perfect, bouncing back, with a nice golden color on top. Moist, just crumbly enough, and topped with something not too milky and not too dark. A nice smooth sweet but not too sweet basic yellow cake topped with chocolate icing.
Mmmm… Perfect. Perfect enough to share the joy with everyone else later on tonight.
(Warning: People will ask if this came from a box.. and you can then joyfully smile at them and state that no… this came from the work of your very own hands. Enjoy.)
Magnificent Moist Golden Cake and Luscious, Creamy Chocolate Icing
Adapted from Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher
For the cake….
1 3/4 c spooned and leveled cake flour (don’t use any flour but cake flour or it will result in a sunken center)
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c water
4 tbsp unsalted butter cut in 1 tbsp pieces
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c canola oil
3 lg egg yolks
2 lg eggs
1/2 c heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with liners. (You can also use a 9×2 in cake pan.) Beat flour and baking powder for a full 30 seconds at medium speed with a mixer, put in a large bowl and set aside. Don’t wash the mixer bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl and place it back on the mixer. Heat the water to a simmer on the stove or in the microwave. Add it to the sugar in the mixer bowl and beat a few seconds to dissolve the sugar, the add the butter, vanilla, and salt. Add the oil and mix on medium speed to blend. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the sugar mixture. Blend in on low with a minimum amount of beating. Continue adding the flour until all is incorporated. By hand stir in the egg yolks one at a time, and then stir in the whole eggs one at a time.
Put a bowl, beaters, and the heavy cream in the freezer to chill for 5 min. Whip the cream until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted. Whip just a little beyond soft peak stage. Stir about a quarter of the cream into the batter to lighten. Then gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter. Scoop batter into the cupcake liners. Drop the pans onto the counter a few times to get out any bubbles. Bake for about 15 min, checking every few minutes after 12 min. (I use an ice cream scoop with a trigger, and they all come out the same size.)
Cool for about an hour on cooling racks.
For the icing…
12 oz milk chocolate (Chopped into small pieces)
9 oz semisweet chocolate (Chopped into small pieces)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 1/2 c sour cream
Heat the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler style) until smooth and melted. Remove from heat. In a small mixing bowl stir together the brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and corn syrup. Stir in the sour cream with 1 or 2 strokes only. Add the melted chocolate. Beat on low until very smooth. If too thin, allow the icing to stand at room temperature an hour or so until slightly thickened.
Decorate your cupcakes with a nice helping of icing and serve fresh to good friends and family you like.
Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Filed under: Breakfast | Tags: breakfast granola, dried fruit, Granola, honey granola, nuts | 3 Comments »
Its a new year… a new chance to kick my butt into shape… to get my caloric intake into control… to cut back on sugar and start being really good about eating fresh healthy raw vegetables!
Don’t get me wrong… I’ll be hitting the gym… hard–because I love sugar… I love love love sugar. And yes… I dig the veggie, but sugar and I have a very special relationship that I’m not ready to give up on just yet. This can also be seen in my version of granola… its a little on the sweet and delicious side… and isn’t completely terrible for you either…
2c rolled oats (not the quick cook)
1tbsp ground cinnamon
4tbsp vegetable oil
1/4c packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Add-ins: dried cranberries, dried golden raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, sliced walnuts, pecanss… whatever your heart desires… or not.
Heat oven to 325, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Put your rolled oats, cinnamon, and salt in medium mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl wisk together the wet ingredients. After whisked and combined, pour over the oats. Combine until a little clumpy, all coated and sticky. Slice and dice your add ins to your sizes of choice, add into the oat mixture. Pour onto the baking pan, and smooth out till nice and even. Put in the oven and let bake 10min, take out and flip around the granola so that it gets all nice and clumpy and crisp, bake for another 5 min and flip again. Five more minutes in the oven and let that granola out. Let cool all the way to room temperature on a cooling rack in the pan – seriously, don’t touch it until its room temp. This could take a while. Don’t get sneaky. Break up into clump-ies and store in an airtight container. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or all by itself.
Posted: January 3rd, 2010 | Filed under: Chicken | Tags: chicken noodle, chicken soup, comfort foods, easy comfort foods, Noodle soup | 3 Comments »
So we really haven’t been home for more than a few days here and there for the last couple of weeks. Even when we have “been home” things have been so busy with work and what not we have spent very little time actually at home. So to say the least… as nice as our holiday has been, and wonderful as staying in a great hotel was last weekend… I am just a little exhausted. So when I got home today I had a little cooking to do, and a very large grocery list for us since we hadn’t actually gone grocery shopping in probably three weeks. I love making lists and grocery shopping and picking things out carefully, but today, I was just ready to be home. So when I got home, I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods… chicken noodle soup. I can’t stand canned chicken noodle, it just doesn’t ever taste right… (I’m sorry if you dislike me for that, consider yourself lucky you can pop a can and warm it up and be done.) So I went ahead and made a big pot, and froze half and portioned out the rest for the week… so comforting to know its all done, that its delicious, its flavorful… and its not too far off track from my New Years resolution.
Chicken Noodle Soup
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts (or 1 lb. chicken of your choice)
6 large carrots peeled and sliced into 1 in pieces
1/2 small yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
32 oz low sodium chicken broth (I use Swanson)
4 c water
1/2 small box of angel hair pasta
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat your chicken with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place in a small baking dish. Slice the lemon in half, squeeze over the chicken, and place the lemon pieces along side the chicken in the baking dish. Roast the chicken until done (opaque all the way through) about 20 min. When your chicken is done, remove from the oven and let it rest while you prepare the broth.
In a large pot pour about 2 tbsp olive oil, add your onion, garlic, a few good grinds of salt and pepper (or dashes if you don’t grind fresh) and your herbs. Cook over medium high heat until onions are clear. Add your chicken broth, water, carrots and pasta to the pot and cook until the broth boils. Dice your chicken into 1/2 in pieces while your broth is coming to a boil. Add your chicken and chicken drippings/juices to the pot. (Discard your lemons… please don’t add them to the soup… that would be weird.) Reduce your heat to low and simmer for 30 min. Turn heat to off when you are ready to enjoy.
Freeze for up to three months.
*This took me just over an hour to prepare and finish, and made a large amount, probably enough for 4-6.
And don’t worry… I do have a pic of Ryan and I from the weekend… here we are in front of the Dallas Museum of Art on our trek around the newly updated Dallas Arts District… We had tons of fun… and too much good food… I ate a lot of french fries… and now I am glad to be home.