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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Naan

Bread.  I don't know how you people feel, but I would definitely take bread over chocolate any day.  I love the scene in America's Sweethearts (probably the only redeeming scene in that vapid little flick) where Julia Roberts talks about dreaming of bread.

This naan is lovely, and EASY.  If you have an electric stove, just flip it for the second cooking.  No need to start a fire.  Enjoy with grilled indian chicken and tomato yogurt sauce.

Homemade Naan
adapted from Indian Simmer

2 cups all purpose flour or wheat flour
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Now mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.
The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to hand too much then use little bit of oil on hand and then punch into the dough.

Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.  Or skip this part if you are really pressed for time.

After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 smaller balls.

Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread which is a little thick and elongated.

Now sprinkle one side of the bread with any of the following:  cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro or butter naans.
Brush the other side with water.
Heat a thick bottom skillet or a wok or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once its nicely hot place the naan wet side down which would stick and cover it with a lid.

Let it cook for about 30 secs or until you see bubbles on it.  Now cook the other side of the naan over direct flame of the burner with the help of tongs. When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Like everything in life, it's better homemade.  I recently watched a 60 minutes episode in which they exposed the food industry's chemical taste industry.  That show ruined the phrase "natural flavorings" for me forever.  Ewwwww.   We tend towards only whole foods anyway, but good god.  Meet these tortillas.  Tasty, fresh, with NO natural flavorings.  Thank heaven.

Homemade Tortillas
adapted from Foodie Bride

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp shortening, lard, softened butter, or olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

Pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt a few times in your food processor fitted with the dough blade or mixer with a paddle.
Add the fat and process until the mixture is uniformly crumbly.
With the food processor/mixer on, slowly stream in the water, just until the dry ingredients form a ball and starts bouncing around the bowl.
Let the dough knead for ~30 seconds. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl, be soft and not overly sticky.

Turn out onto a flour-dusted surface and divide dough into golf-ball sized portions (2 oz each).

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a large, dry saute pan over medium high heat.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into thin almost translucent about 8" rounds, dusting the top with just enough flour to keep the tortilla from sticking to the rolling pin.

Lay tortilla flat in the heated pan and cook on each side for ~20 seconds, until the bubbled areas brown.
Keep covered with a kitchen towel to keep warm and pliable. Eat warm.  Feel free to freeze.  These heat well wrapping in tin foil in a 200 degree oven.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chunky Chicken Chili

I love this chili.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream, but plain yogurt is a good substitute.  It's spicy, and a true white chili.  You can also make this recipe with poached, shredded chicken breast, but I like the ground chicken better.  It's not very spicy, especially once it's mixed with rice.

Chunky Chicken Chili
Adapted from Big Daddy

1 stick butter, divided
2 pounds ground chicken breast or turkey
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
2 (4-ounce) cans mild green chiles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar, for garnish
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces until nicely colored and cooked through. Remove chicken to a large bowl and set aside.

Using the same Dutch oven, stir in the flour. This will make a roux. Stir in the onions and peppers. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and stir in the yogurt. Lower heat and cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, add the chili powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and the salt. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the cannellini beans, chiles and the chicken and simmer for another 6 to 8 minutes. At the end, mix in the sour cream. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with Cheddar and parsley.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake Tops

This platter is what happens when you make 3 different batches of cookies to bring to work in one day.  You serve christmas cookies on a starfish platter.

No matter, one bite of this ganache frosting and no one will notice!  They are a very cakey cookie, and true to their name.  The icing seals in the freshness, so no concern that they won't be yummy on day 2.  They passed the toddler test with flying colors.

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake Tops
Adapted from Annie's Eats


For the cupcake tops:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. espresso powder
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. sour cream
2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water (or briefly in the microwave) until smooth.  Set aside and let cool until just barely warm.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg.  Beat in the vanilla.  Beat in the melted chocolate until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Add in the buttermilk and mix just until smooth.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets- your tablespoon cookie scoop is good for this- spacing each about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in short intervals, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the sour cream.  Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.   Frost cookies as desired and decorate with sprinkles (if you like).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Andes Candies Mint Cookies

These are my sister in law and father in law's favorite cookies I make.  I usually make these with chopped andes candies in thirds, but this time I used to pre chopped Andes' bits.  I really prefer the huge chunks, and I won't be buying the bits again.

That being said, the whole cookie gets this nice minty flavor throughout regardless of how you do the bits.  It's a favorite cookie for everybody! I'm probably in the doghouse that I didn't mail any off this year!

Andes Candies Chip Cookies,
adapted a good bit from the new York times 2008 and me

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons  vanilla extract plus 1 vanilla bean pod's worth of seeds
1 1/4 pounds chopped Andes Candies (in thirds)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop andes candies in and incorporate them with a spatula without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop  3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls- I used my muffin scoop) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

I have never made whoopie pies before.  However, I recently went to a cookie swap that had them and it gave me a hankering.  I found out short notice about a work holiday pot luck, and I had my excuse!

The filling I doubled from the original recipe, and added shortening for half the butter, in order to taste slightly more "oreo-filling"-esque.   A good choice.  I purposely did not double the vanilla.  The peppermint flavor is decidedly there, but not overpowering, so if you want that brrrrrrr feeling you should add another 1/2 tsp.

Peppermint Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Brown Eyed baker (who adapted from Whoopie Pies)
Makes About 24 whoopie pies

For the Cakes:
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (238 gms)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (66 gms)
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar (192 gms)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk (skim is fine)

For the Filling (Peppermint Buttercream):
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons  heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon salt

Crushed candy canes, to garnish as desired.  Since I was making these a day in advance, I thought it was ill advised.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, roughly 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and ½ cup milk and beat until completely combined.

Drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10-11 minutes each, or until the whoopie "cakes/pies" spring back when pressed gently.

Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool fully.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the powdered sugar, shortening, and the butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the Whoopie Pies: Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon, or using a pastry bag and your trusy 1M tip. Top it with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling. Roll the edges in crushed candy canes if you like, but they may soften the candy canes f they are not eaten within a few hours.
You could also roll edges in sprinkles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

This is a good, solid, midweek meal.  It's got good flavor, and is easy enough to pull off.  It's originally from epicurious, and has made its way around the blogs.  I did not adore it, but I'd definitely make it again.

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and halved (4 halves total)
Salt and pepper
¾-1 cup flour

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ tsp. fresh oregano, minced
½ tsp. sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (about 12 oz.)
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, oregano, and paprika.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the oregano butter with the olive oil.  Place the chicken breast halves in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to brown and burst, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining butter mixture to the pan.  Crush the tomatoes slightly to release their juices and continue stirring until the butter is melted.  Add the wine or broth to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen the frond.  Cook for a minute more until well blended.

Slice the chicken, transfer to serving plates, and top with the pan sauce.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mississippi Mud

post updated on 9.28.2012 to put a new picture and to add link for homemade marshmallow topping.

OK, so I have requested this recipe a number of times from someone, to no avail.  So she forced me into it. I had to recreate it.

Better than hers.

Sometimes the gloves gotta come off.  Enter this "cake."

The cake is well hydrated (ahem, ahem, L, you better let me know I'm doing this for some reason....), and the pecans are a great twist.  I can't really say where this recipe came from, I made it based on recipes from all over the web, taking some from all.  But credit is probably due here, here, and here.

For some reason all these recipes use marshmallow creme, which results in a huge mess and displaced fluff.  I have adapted the recipe to let the cake melt actual marshmallows, which will then firm up.  To make homemade marshmallows is actually easy, quick, and noticeably yummier.


2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup special dark cocoa
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup crushed pecans (or hazelnuts!!)

Cream together butter, sugar, and cocoa.  Add 4 eggs and beat.  Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and add to wet batter.  Stir in crushed pecans.

Pour into a 13 x 9 pan, and bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes.  While cake is hot, sprinkle 10 oz of mini marshmallows over the cake.  They will melt in a gooey layer.  If using homemade marshmallows,  spread on cake after whipped and thickened.   Let cool thoroughly.  Once cool, ice.

Fudge Icing
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup special dark cocoa powder
1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together and frost the marshmallow topped cake.  Slice like brownies but in thin slivers.  Chill is desired.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Green Bean Bundles

I usually scorn vegetables with meat.  I have been known to turn my nose up at green beans boiled with salt pork or ham.  So my husband was pretty shocked when I made this.

To be fair, I like it better without the bacon.
The brown sugar-mustard marinade is delicious, although I have to say I think I prefer it NOT marinated overnight.  The sauce seems to stick on better that way, since it's still liquid and not congealed.  Appetizing word, congealed.

Anyway, make these either way.  I also recommend haricot vert instead of green beans.  Saves all the trimming!  And time saving is a good thing...

Green Bean Bundles
adapted from The Pastry Queen Christmas, by Rebecca Rather via Pink Parsley

1 1/2 lbs haricot vert
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces of bacon, each piece cut in half width-wise

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, and blanch the beans 3-4 minutes, or until they are bright green in color and pliable but still very crunchy.  Drain and run them under cold water. or plunge into an ice bath  Pat dry with a paper towel.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, mustard, salt, and brown sugar.  Pour the mixture over the green beans, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  I sometimes skip this part, and just assemble.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Gather 8-9 beans at a time and make bundles.  Wrap with a slice of the (halved) bacon, and lie seam-side down in a greased baking sheet or casserole dish.  Pour remaining marinade over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and the beans look wrinkled.  Cook under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes to crisp the bacon even more, if you like.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Butterflake Herb Loaf

King arthur is definitely under-rated.  I can't tell you how much success I have had with their recipes.  This one is no exception.  This is a great holiday loaf because it's scrumptious and decadent.  The butter oozes out somewhat and makes for a buttery bottom crust.  As far as flavor, it's a milder alternative to garlic bread.  It reheats well, too!

Butterflake Herb Loaf
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons potato flour or instant mashed potatoes

butter herb filling
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon caraway or chopped fennel seed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon grated onion or chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
1 clove garlic, minced

Bring the milk to a simmer and pour over the butter, in a mixing bowl or the pan of your bread machine. Add the sugar and salt, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

When the liquid is tepid, add the eggs, yeast, 3 1/2 cups of flour, and the potato flour and begin mixing the dough.

After the dough comes together and has mixed for 3 minutes, touch the dough to test its consistency. If wet dough comes off on your finger, add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between additions until it's incorporated.

Once the dough is smooth and soft, not sticky, let the bread machine finish its cycle, or place the dough in a greased container, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, place the herb butter ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

 After the dough has risen, deflate it and roll it out on a floured surface 1/2" thick. Cut in 3 1/2" to 4" circles with a biscuit cutter.

Butter generously half of each circle, fold in half, and place in a 12" x 4" x 2 1/2" tea loaf pan, or two 8 1/2 x 4" bread pans.

* I rerolled and cut the scraps and made a second loaf*

 Bake the loaf in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Tent with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking if necessary to keep the top from over-browning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Playdough

I made this version for the kids.  It's Christmas cookie time, so you know that the kids are all about helping.  I found this recipe in gingerbread form, and I adapted it into chocolate playdough!    So the kids get to roll it, play with cookie cutters, and do their own thing endlessly.  Put in a cute jar with a cookie cutter a bow, and it's fantastic for cookie swaps or your host to the holiday parties.

Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water and oil and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper or wax paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Burrito bowls

This recipe is infinitely adaptable.  Shredded beef, pork, chicken, meat free with beans only and grilled veggies?  Sure!  I love the blend of flavors, and I love the pico de gallo's cold contrast with the warm burrito fillings.  And with my new favorite carnitas, it's a sure thing.

Burrito Bowls
adapted from melissa d'Arabian

3 cups cooked brown rice (from 1 cup uncooked)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 to 2 cups Simple Fresh Pico de Gallo
2 cups Pork Carnitas
1 cup shredded Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, chopped

In a medium bowl, toss the rice with the cilantro and the orange zest. Divide the rice evenly among 4 individual serving bowls. Top with the black beans and half of the pico de gallo. Add warm carnitas and top with the rest of the pico de gallo. Sprinkle on the cheese, and spoon a dollop of the sour cream on top. Finish with the chopped green onions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pico de Gallo

It's amazing to me that I grew up with zero mexican food, since I make it as much as I do.  This pico de gallo I made to go with burrito bowls, which I'll post one of these days.  It's a nice thing to make when you can't decide between avocado and salsa!

Pico De Gallo
Adapted from Melissa D'Arabian

Pinch of sugar
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon salt with the pinch of sugar. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes gently with the salt mixture. Add onion and jalapeno and combine.

Place the avocado on top of the tomato mixture and squeeze with lime juice to coat the avocado.

Sprinkle on the cilantro, and stir to combine. Serve.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pork Carnitas

There was a time during making this dish that I had serious reservations. During the simmer in liquid phase, it looks....nasty.  No mincing words.  As in, did I just ruin 6 lbs of pork??   As you can see from the final resulting filthy pan, I need not have worried.  This is the way I will make pulled pork forevermore.   The crispy edges are fantastic, and the flavor is not noticeably citrus.  It's just amazingly good.  And I also love how they fry up in the same pot in the rendered fat, not in an intentional way, but more in a "oh I forgot about you, now how did this happen?" kind of way.Pork Carnitas, Homesick TexanAdapted from Smitten Kitchen6 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes1 1/2 cup orange juice1/2 cup lime juice 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed2 teaspoons ground cumin2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more to tastePlace the pork in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and enough water to just \cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours. Don’t stir.After two hours, increase the heat to medium-high and while occasionally stirring and turning the pieces, continue to cook for about 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat. Let it sizzle in this fat long enough to brown at the edges, turning pieces gently, only as needed.  I love that this also shreds the meat, leaving none of that messy tedious pulling.
When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve as you will.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Do not overbake.  Do not overbake.  Repeat these words over and over again.  If you remember this, your cookies will be amazing.  It makes such a huge difference.  You should let these stay on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes to firm up, but otherwise, they will be fantastic and everyone will be thoroughly impressed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
adapted from Annie's Eats and King Arthur Flour

1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (6 1/4 oz)  all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. (1 5/8 oz) special dark cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar (99 gm)
½ cup brown sugar (106 gm)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. water
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, (cooled or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and water.  Blend until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add in 2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in with a spatula.

Use a large dough scoop to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each of the dough balls.  Bake 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

I decided I had to make some chocolate peanut butter cup cookies, but I was completely out of reese's.  No matter- these were quick, and I had my eye on them for christmas cookie plates anyway.  These are very good, and easy.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: About 3 dozen peanut butter cups

1 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
1¼ cups powdered sugar
4 cups dark chocolate chips (two 11.5-oz bags)
¼ cup vegetable shortening

Light spray a mini-muffin tin with butter spray; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until completely melted and starting to bubble a little, stirring often. Remove from the heat. Add the powdered sugar, stirring until completely combined with the peanut butter mixture. Set aside and let cool.

Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, until completely melted, stirring after each burst.

Use a heaping teaspoon to scoop out the peanut butter mixture. Roll it into a ball, and then flatten it slightly into a disk. Place on waxed paper.   Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Using a small cookie scoop or a couple of teaspoons, spoon melted chocolate into the bottom of each muffin well.

Place a peanut butter patty on top of each chocolate-lined muffin tin. Then use a scoop or spoon to add more melted chocolate on top and around each peanut butter patty.

Refrigerate again for 30 minutes, then they’re ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Pie and Coconut Pie

"Those were some good women."  This is what I always hear about my great aunt in law and great grandmother in law.  Although I met the latter, she was no longer herself at that point.  I'm sad to have missed them, but judging by their recipes....those were some goooooooood women.

This was one of those family recipes that I had to learn.  It's at my in law's for almost every major meal. I adapted the meringue and pie crust, but the rest are untouched.  These are some good pies!!!!!

Easy Pie Crust
Adapted from Annie's Eats


1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. very cold water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix briefly to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are not much bigger than peas.  Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  (This dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)  Remove from the refrigerator.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface.  For this recipe, Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes to blind bake.  Before baking, put parchment over crust and place uncooked rice in the cavity of the pie.  This will keep the crust from slipping but it will be able to breathe.

Chocolate Pie Filling
Adapted from Dot, Jewel, and Tina

4 tablespoons special dark cocoa
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar

Whisk flour and cocoa into a saucepan.  Stirring over low heat, add milk, eggs, butter.  Cook, whisking often, until thick.  Add vanilla.  Spoon into pie crust and cool.

Coconut Pie Filling
Adapted from Dot, Jewel, and Tina

1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 small can (3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

Whisk flour and cocoa into a saucepan.  Stirring over low heat, add milk, eggs, butter.  Cook, whisking often, until thick.  Add vanilla and coconut.  Spoon into pie crust and cool.

SUGGESTED: BEFORE TOPPING WITH MERINGUE-- CRUMBLED ONE GRAHAM CRACKER ON TOP of pie filling.  This helps the meringue bond to the filling and stay in place.  You won't taste it.

Meringue (enough for both pies)
Adapted from the Pastry Queen via 20somethingcupcakes
Cooking method adapted from Shirley Corriher

10 large egg whites, at room temperature 
3 cups sugar

Set a large, very clean metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. I use my mixing bowl.  Pour in the egg whites and sugar. Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all sugar grains have melted. 

Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

To assemble the pies, Pile the meringue on top of the pies. Style the meringue with your fingers by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes, or use the back of a spoon.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  If things are not sufficiently browned at the end, broil BRIEFLY.  (watch out- it can ignite!!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


My grandfather was not exactly a warm fuzzy guy, like few men of his generation were.  I remember 3 things clearly about him besides his gruff tone: his love of seven and seven's, andes candies, and gingersnaps.  The warmest moment in my memory is when I made him gingersnaps.  He was thrilled, and they were delicious!

These are equally good.  I whipped up these babies to crumble them into the bottom of pumpkin pie, and to save them for the upcoming santa plate!

Adapted from David Leibovitz Ready for Dessert

3 cups (15 oz)  all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 t g cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temp
granulated sugar, for coating the cookies

In a medium bowl, combine flour through ground cloves and whisk until mixed well.

In a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, mixing on medium until smooth. mix in molasses and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. add flour mixture and mix until completed combined.

divide the dough tablespoon scoop sized pieces, roll in sugar, chill.

preheat oven to 350 F.   Place the other side down on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for ~9-10 minutes.  Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grasshopper Cake

I love Baked.  They are amazing bakers.   And everything they make is delicious.  I love this ganache technique, it's stunning and very easy.  Plus it adds another layer of chocolate- how can that be bad?  Chocolate and mint are a classic combination, and a nice change from the usual cake.

Chocolate Layers
adapted from Baked

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cup All Purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly pack dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 3 8-in round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter parchment and flour it.  Wrap pans in water soaked cake strips.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water and sour cream. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together for 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for 5 minutes more. Add the eggs, one at a tie, beating well after each addition, then add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes.
After out of the oven for 5 minutes, cover with plastic wrap, tin foil, and let cool in freezer for about 1 hour.

For the Creme De Menthe Buttercream
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup All purpose Flour
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cups heavy cream
4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into pieces
2 T creme de menthe (OR 1 T vanilla and some green food coloring)
2 1/4 t peppermint extract
Baked suggests using chocolate wafer cookies for garnish, too.

In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally. (Be careful the milk mixture doesn't burn on the bottom). Cook until the mixture has come to a boil and thickened, 10-20 minutes.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce speed to low and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time; mix thoroughly until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined.

Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Baked Explorations

6 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T creme de menthe
1/2 t peppermint extract

Bring the creme to a boil in a saucepan, then pour over the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Let the cream sit for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Add the flavorings.

For frosting thr cake: Add 1 1/2 cups frosting over each layer.  Chill in fridge for frosting #1 and #2 so frosting is hard and does not squish out.  After frosted, slowly drip ROOM TEMPERATURE ganache on the top, and encourage it to drip slowly down the sides.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time.  B wanted me to make the chocolate loaf with peanut butter cream cheese spread, but I had some pumpkin to use up.  The original recipe warns against overmixing, but this is what they call a high ratio recipe- practically even amounts of sugar and flour, so it's by nature pretty tender and not going to be easy to make it tough.  That being said, probably no need to beat it.  I was skeptical about the chocolate pumpkin combo, but now I have no idea why.  It was delicious.  Just the thing for thanksgiving breakfast!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf
adapted from baked 

1 1/2 plus 1/8 cup  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
a heaping 3/4 cup (about 7.5 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pans.  Or line with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and oil until combined. Add the sugar and whisk again. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add 1/3 cup room-temperature water and whisk until combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Use a spatula to smooth the tops.
Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Invert the loaves onto wire racks and cool completely before serving.

The loaves will keep for 3 days, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grilled Indian Spiced Chicken with Tomato Yogurt Sauce

So last night I had a fancy dinner, a "conclave"- I know, really????  I made this for my husband and kids.  I so did not want to go!!!  Especially because I knew this would be better than any fancy pants dinner someone else made for me.  Never mind banquet food-- *shudder*.

I had it for lunch the next day, and my suspicions were confirmed.  I'm a better chef than banquet chefs at some historic place. And, coincidentally, so now are you.  Day #2 I blended the sauce.  Much better without chunks!

Grilled Indian Spiced Chicken with Tomato-Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

For the chicken:

6 chicken thighs (1.5 lbs), boneless skinless
1 1/2 tsp garam masala (don't have it?   make it!)
1 tsp Salt
2 tablespoons Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2-4 tsp garam masala, depending on spice love
6 oz plain non fat greek yogurt

cilantro for garnish

To make the chicken, heat grill to medium-high.
Place salt, chicken, garam masala, and olive oil in a zip top bag.  Rub it around until well distributed.

Grill 8-9 minutes divided between sides, until the fat has burned off, there's a little char, and a thermometer reads 165-170.

Remove from heat and tent loosely with foil.
To make the sauce, heat oil over medium heat.
Saute onions for ~5 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
Add garlic and stir, cooking for another minute.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes and garam masala.  2 Teaspoons gives a little heat, but not overpowering.  Worked for me.  Blend with immersion blender if desired.

Stir occasionally and heat through, and then add yogurt.

Cook only until heated through and remove from heat to avoid breakage of sauce.

Spoon sauce over chicken; serve with rice or naan.  Garnish with Cilantro or parsley.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Cream Cheese Cake

This cake was yummy.  Even though I took it out a little early and wound up with a not completely baked through cake!  The tart cranberries are such a nice contrast.  The cranberries and the lemon make the cake bright.  It's a great holiday breakfast!  Who wants boring old cranberry sauce?

Cranberry Cream cheese Cake
Adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract or princess bakery emulsion
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, tossed with 1 Tbsp flour
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray, coating well.

Beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Add sugar and turn mixer to med-high and cream for 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time until combined. Add lemon juice and zest, almond/princess extract, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Turn mixer to low and add salt. Add the cake flour in two batches. Fold in the cranberries.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake 70 minutes, until the cake has browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Cover tightly overnight and eat the next day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chocolate banana swirl cake

It has been about 3 years since I've made this cake.  I was looking through an old Fine cooking, trying to see what else I could add to my already too long Christmas cookie list.    I remembered how good it was, and happened to have some over ripe bananas in the fridge.  Clearly the kids were big fans, and I brought the left overs in to work the next day.  I was declared a hero (my co workers are pretty effusive) and the recipe was demanded.  This coffee cake is the best excuse for cake for breakfast ever!

Chocolate Banana Swirl Cake
by Abigail Johnson Dodge, in Fine Cooking 2003, Fine Cooking 54 , pp. 44

For the pan:
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/3 cup medium-finely chopped walnuts
Softened unsalted butter
For the cake:
9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 very ripe medium bananas (unpeeled, about 14 oz. total), peeled
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) buttermilk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Prepare the pan:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped walnuts. Generously butter a large bundt pan and coat with the nuts and sugar, pressing the nuts with your fingers to help them stick. The pan sides will be coated and some of the nuts will fall to the bottom.

Mix the batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, bananas, and vanilla until well blended and the bananas are almost smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. With a rubber spatula, alternately add half the flour mixture, all the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour mixture, stirring until each addition is just blended. Spoon half the batter into a medium bowl and gently stir in the melted chocolate until just combined. With a large spoon, alternately add a spoonful of each batter to the prepared pan, working around the pan until all the batter is used. Gently run a knife or the tip of a rubber spatula through the batter, once clockwise and once counterclockwise, to slightly swirl the batters. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the ingredients.

Bake the cake:
Bake until a pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it, about 40-50 min. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 15 min. Gently tap the the sides of the pan on the counter and loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack, lift it off the pan, and let the cake cool completely.  This cake is better the second day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies

These "blondies" were so good.  You might be tempted to omit the white chocolate chips, but they are a great contrast.  The kids absolutely loved them, of course.  They are a great seasonal treat.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies
Adapted from Smells Like Home


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips


Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.  Stir together and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the white chocolate and 1 cup butterscotch chips with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips over the top of the batter.  Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board.  Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Todd English Burger Sauce

So we were in Manhattan.  We were tired.  We were hungry.  We were hot.  We (ok, I) were grumpy.

Do I need to mention that this was from a wild goose chase to find the best sprinkler park in central park? We started out by museum of natural history and could not find it....in july.  No good.  So we went to one of the other parks and the kids were delighted.  And the adults were delighted that I let us stop traipsing all over the park.

So then we went to times square, and wanted lunch at this yummy fatty chain.

But it was a ridiculous wait, so instead, we went to Ca Va, Todd English's place.  Good call.  We all had the best $20 burgers money can buy.  There were three sauces for the burgers.  Three.  And none of them were ketchup.  This one I loved, and quickly googled.  I was thrilled when I found out it was so easy to make, it's much more bourgeois than I expected.  Yipee!

It's equally good on burgers and fries.  And turkey sandwiches.

Todd English's Special Sauce
as revealed here

equal parts dill relish, ketchup, and mayonnaise.  Mix.  Slather or dip.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

Being sick sucks.  If you grew up in my house, you not only were told chicken soup was good for you, but also how it increased nasal mucous velocity.  That little snippet of info alone probably explains a lot.  A lot.

Anyway, I'm sure PW wasn't clocking her snot as she made this, but I was counting how many times the bowl got refilled, and that was enough for me.

You're a scientist, try it yourself.

Homemade Chicken and noodles
Adapted from Pioneer woman 

2 cups shredded chicken
64 ounces chicken stock
2 whole Carrots, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced (unless your husband hates celery)
1/2 whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon Ground Thyme
2 tablespooms fresh
Homemade Pasta (see end)
3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour


Place carrots and onions(and celery, if using) to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for ten minutes to meld flavors.  Add 64 ounces of chicken stock from a box.  You heard me,  FROM A BOX.

Increase heat and add pasta and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed.

Homemade Pasta 
Adapted from PW

Combine 2 eggs with 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Knead with paddle attachment of mixer for about 8 minutes.  Place into pasta maker or roll out thin, flour, and roll then slice thinly as per PW's link above.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Spider Cake- Pumpkin Cake

So I managed to delete the inside picture of this cake.   Suffice it to say it's an excellent pumpkin cake, three layers, with some really awesome coconut flecks inside.  Imagine.  It reminds you of carrot cake, but not carrot....With the cream cheese frosting, the color and the irrigous texture (thank you google, synonym for the m word), it's a great one to substitute for pumpkin pie on thanksgiving.  The original recipe calls for raisins.  My husband finds raisins in his cake, he's calling a divorce lawyer.  No raisins here.  You do whatever you can get away with.

The cake is 3 layers in my world because it's a/ prettier that way and b/ the perfect frosting to cake ratio.  If you do 2 layers then do 1/2 the frosting.

Pumpkin Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit 2007
decorations learned from cookies and cups

3 cups all purpose flour (14 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

2 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
10 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoon dark rum
2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
9 cups powdered sugar


For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; dust pans with flour. I also wrap mine in soaked with water cake strips to prevent doming.

Combine 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well  after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporated. Stir in 3/4 cup coconut. Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. You want to touch the center of the cake and have it spring back at you ever so slightly.  No Gumminess.

5 minutes after they are out of the over, cover with plastic wrap and tin foil.  Chill in freezer to cool, about 1 hour, still in cake pans.  This will trap water, make them easier to stack, and frost.   Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread). Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, flat side down, on platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups of  cream cheese frosting over top of cake. I like to chill for 10 minutes in fridge so frosting does not gush out.  Top with second cake layer.  Add 1 1/2 cups of frosting.  Chill for 10 minutes.  Add 3rd layer.  Spread remaining frosting over top (and sides) of cake. If you've got it, sprinkle with rainbow disco dust.

Store in fridge.  Itll be too tall for a cake dome, as all well made cakes are.  Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Cut cake into wedges and serve.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Governor Bars

These are almost too rich.  Next time I make them I would do all chocolate chips, no butterscotch, but that's just my lack of adoration of butterscotch- they are perfectly good as written.  They are a nice change from traditional "toasted rice cereal" bars.  The kids loved them!

Governor Bars
Adapted from Pennies on a Platter

6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (or generic brand)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz bag butterscotch chips
1 tsp light corn syrup

Place Rice Krispies and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl.  Do not mix together yet; set aside.

Heat the honey and sugar in a medium sauce pan until it is just boiling.  Immediately remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the Rice Krispies and peanut butter.  Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  Lightly press the mixture into a greased 13- x 9- inch pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl for about one minute, stirring every 30 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon corn syrup.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Spread evenly on top of the Rice Krispies.  Let cool until hardened before slicing into bars.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita bread

There's nothing better that homemade bread.  Except, maybe, homemade ice cream.  But this goes better with hummus!  I have been on a kick lately of prepped veggies in the fridge at all times, to encourage healthy snacking.  The pita is a great accompaniment to pretty much anything, from dips, to grilled chicken, to salad- it's very versatile.

Whole Wheat Pita
adapted from Annie's Eats, originally Gourmet 2003

2¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1¼ cups warm water (105˚-115˚ F), divided
1½ cups bread flour, divided
1½ cups whole wheat flour, divided
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, honey and ½ cup of the water.  Stir gently to blend.  Whisk ¼ cup of the bread flour and ¼ cup of the whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture until smooth.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and set aside until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap or towel and return the bowl to the mixer stand, fitted with the dough hook.  Add in the remaining ¾ cup of warm water, 1¼ cups bread flour, 1¼ cups whole wheat flour, olive oil and salt.  Knead on low speed (my mixer the dough hook should never go above speed 2) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.  If you are short on time, you can go straight to the shaping rounds stage and skip this rise without discernible difference.

Place an oven rack in the middle position.  Place a baking stone in the oven (I highly recommend if you can) and preheat to 500˚ F.

Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface or wax paper without flour, punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball.  Flatten one ball at a time into a disk, then stretch out into a roughly 7 inch circle.  Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet or other work surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Once all the rounds have been shaped, loosely cover with clean kitchen towels.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy. (or 1 hour, if you skipped rise #2).

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, onto the baking surface. Bake 2 minutes, until puffed and pale golden.  Gently flip the pitas over using tongs and bake 1 minute more.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining pitas.  Eat the same day or freeze for another day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Banh Mi Salad with Chicken

We are always looking for vegetable full, low fat, low carb dinners.  I always love dinners with some spice to them, too, because it always has a natural way to slow your eating and make you eat less!  I love the rice vinegar on the salad.  It's got  such a nice sweetness.  The original recipe calls for this to be on a sandwich, but we enjoy the salad adaptation.  You could eliminate the spice by eliminating the sriracha mayo, but then- you'd be getting rid of the best part!

Banh Mi Salad
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan in Parade Magazine

Banh Mi–Style Chicken Sandwiches

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced
1/4 cup sweet red chili sauce
1 to 2 jalapeƱos, thinly sliced
2/3 English cucumber, peeled and thickly sliced
Mint (I didn't have) and cilantro leaves
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

Combine  mayonnaise and sriracha. Grill or poach chicken.  Add jalapeƱos, cucumber, and herbs, then to lettuce and carrots.  Toss with the vinegar.  Top with grilled chicken, then drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise and red chili sauce.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Buffalo Wing Dip

This is not haute cuisine.  This...is football food.  It's what buffalo wings would be in a dip. I usually make it with homemade ranch dip, but not this time.  I was in serious crunch time for my little girl's party.  Same thing with the chicken.  Total easy mode.  You could make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken.

This dip is spicy but the spice is tempered by the ranch and cream cheese, but it's still relatively hot.  It's a great one to have around for parties.  My brother in law turned us onto it, and we have made it a bunch of times and haven't gotten tired of it yet!  You could also toss this with pasta for a take on hot pepper alfredo sauce!   We love it.

Buffalo Wing Dip
Adapted from AllRecipes

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup pepper sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot®)
1 cup Ranch salad dressing
2 cups diced cooked chicken or canned chicken breast in water
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and hot pepper sauce until well blended. Mix in the Ranch dressing, chicken and Cheddar cheese. Spread into a 9x13 inch or similar baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.Serve with tortilla chips.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Garlic Butter

I love it when my in laws are around.  My husband always eats as if he's on vacation, and I get to do things like serve garlic butter twice in 2 days, and actually have him ask for it on day 2!!

Usually we are being too health conscious to eat butter (gasp!) and white bread (shocking), especially late at night.... but this was a really good blend.  I love the parmesan, the italian seasoning, and the pepper, which are all new to me.  I usually just blend garlic and butter and call it a day.  The originally recipe calls for a pinch of paprika.  Go for it, if you like, I will next time.  It's really delicious.

Garlic Butter
Adapted from All recipes

1/4 cup butter, softened (unsalted)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespooons cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4teaspoon ground black pepper