About Me

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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!

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.