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!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This may be my new favorite cake!!!  

The yellow cake is so delicious, and the frosting?  Good god.  It's pure chocolate, and very ganache like.  I love the sprinkles, too, and both kids kept saying "I want my sprinkle cake!"  I made it in 3 6" pans, which made this cake ridiculously tall, which actually was pretty cool.

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk (I used buttermilk)

For the frosting:
1 lb. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tbsp. boiling water
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt

Make frosting first so it can firm up for icing the cake.

To make the frosting, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until the cocoa is dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add the melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the cocoa mixture until well blended.    Set aside until it firms up somewhat.

To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans (or 3 6" cake pans) with parchment paper. Spray pans with baker's joy; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk together to blend well and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk.  Beat each addition until incorporated only.

Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans. It will be about 1500 grams of batter, so that's 3 500 gram pans or 2 750 gm pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.  If using 6" pans, it's more like 45 mintues.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes.  Cover pans with plastic wrap and foil, and stick in the freezer for a couple hours.  Invert the cakes onto the rack and peel off the parchment.  Level the cakes if necessary.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter.  Top with 1 cup of the chocolate frosting and smooth over the top of the cake if using 6" cakes; 1 1/2 cups frosting if using 9" cakes.  Top with the remaining cake layer(s).  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting as desired.  Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.  Let come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.  This actually makes a big difference in the flavor!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pasta Fagioli

This is a nice, hearty soup, with a pleasant amount of spiciness.  It's actually quite a bit of heat, which I enjoy.  I love the beans, and Brian wanted me to add more next time, which I have adjusted this time.  I definitely agree!   

I like to keep the pasta separate, so it keeps its bite.

Pasta Fagioli
Adapted from Fake Ginger

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 lb hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 -2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 – 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cans cannellini beans
1 cup ditalini (or other small pasta, cooked al dente)

Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until it just begins to soften, about 2-4 minutes. Add celery and carrots; cook, stirring frequently, for another 3-5minutes. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.

Add the sausage to the pot, crumbling as it cooks. Cook until the sausage fully. Stir in Italian seasoning and red pepper. Stir in tomatoes and stock.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Boil the pasta til al dente at this point.

Stir in the beans. (Add an extra cup of stock or water at this point if it’s boiled down too much.) Stir in the pasta just before serving.  Sprinkle with parmesan.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Grandma Pizza

This pizza was really good.  It looks simple, but it's actually really light (if you can believe it).  Served with a salad, it's a great meal!

Grandma Pizza
Adapted from Ezra Poundcake

3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz) bread flour
2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil.

For the Dough: Measure 2 tablespoons olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet (18″ by 13″), and use your fingers to coat the sheet with oil.
Measure water and remaining 1 tablespoon oil into a liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low speed. With the mixer running, slowly add water mixture, and mix until dough comes together, about 1-2 minutes.

Increase speed to medium-low, and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 8-10 minutes.
Place the dough on the oiled baking sheet, and turn to coat. Stretch dough to 10 by 6-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stretch dough to corners of pan, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise in warm place until slightly puffed, about 45 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and heat oven to 500 degrees F.

For the Topping: Place tomatoes in colander, and drain really well, in a colander for about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine drained tomatoes, oil, garlic, oregano, and salt. Set aside.

In a second bowl, combine mozzarella and Parmesan. Set aside.
Sprinkle cheese mixture over the dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on all sides.
Top with tomato mixture, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until well browned and bubbling, about 12 minutes.

Slide pizza onto a wire rack, sprinkle with basil, and let cool for 5-7 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sausage Balls

I had these first at my in laws house.  I used to think I didn't like pork.  However, this myth was quickly dispelled once I tried these things.  They taste exactly like  a biscuit and breakfast had a love child.  Covered with cheese.  They are addictive!  I had to google a recipe because the first time I made them, I missed the part where my mother in law told me they had bisquick, and it was pitiful.  Melted cheese on the cookie sheet.

So once I got the basic components, I didn't want to leave the proportions to chance!  This recipe really delivers.

Sausage Balls
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

1 lb ground country pork sausage, mild
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups bisquick
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, using a fork or your fingers, mix the room temperature cheese, sausage and Bisquick until just combined. Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the mixture completely comes together. Then, transfer the mixture back into the original bowl, add the black pepper and cayenne, and mix one final time with your fingers.
Divide the mixture into 1-inch balls (using a small ice cream scoop or your hands), rolling the mixture between the palms of your hands.
Place the balls on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Broccoli White Sauce Pizza & my new Favorite Crust

I was resistent to trying this crust, but I have to say, Baking Illustrated via Annie comes through again.  It's light, and even gets those appealing pizza crust bubbbles!

And don't get me started on this cream sauce.  It is so wrong, but so right.  I adore it.  This pizza would be great with spinach, broccoli, grilled chicken, anything really!

Broccoli Pizza with White Sauce
Adapted from Annie's Eats


For the white sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
Pizza dough
Olive oil, for brushing
1 cup very small broccoli florets
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

For the dough:

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions for the dough:
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a  dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours depending on the heat of the room.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.

Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  Wrap one of the balls in plastic, stick it in a freezer bag, then that one in another freezer bag (to make sure it doesn't pop out) for another day. Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for about 10 minutes but not longer than 30 minutes.

Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as directed below with white sauce, cheese, broocoli.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream or half and half and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Toss out the garlic clove.

Now, assemble the pizza.   Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded cheddar cheese.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 8-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Carrot Spice Muffins

What does the Easter bunny like for breakfast?

Carrot spice muffins, of course.  At least my muffin dragons do.  I love the combination of carrot and coconut.  For you who don't like coconut, I can't help you.

I'm sure they'd be fine without.  Maybe add more walnuts.  Same thing with the raisins!  I love all of the above, although I insist on pulverizing my nuts so they are a flavor but not a texture.  Anyway, Dorie is always foolproof.  These are less sweet (by far) than carrot cake, although I'm tempted to put a little cream cheese mixed with sugar inside before baking next time!

Carrot Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Annie's Eats
makes 15 muffins

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded carrot (I use the food processor.)
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins (I used baking raisins)
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, pulverized to a fine meal

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Spray  a muffin pan with baker's joy.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together to combine, and set aside.   With a whisk, combine the sugar, brown sugar and canola oil.  Mix until smooth.  Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.  Add in the dry ingredients in two additions, alternately with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Mix in the shredded carrot.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the coconut, raisins, and nuts.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top spring back.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool further.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bailey's Marshmallows

I would definitely make these in a smaller baking sheet than I did, but I made the change for you.  These were so tasty!  The Bailey's flavor was very mild, and with so little in there, I even let my kids eat these.  They were really easy, especially since I finally got a candy thermometer!

Homemade Marshmallows
Adapted from David Leibovitz

2 envelopes (17g) powdered gelatin
1/2 cup (125ml) + 1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (100g) light corn syrup
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup, 110g), at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons Bailey's liquer

Marshmallow Mix
One part corn starch, one part powdered sugar (about 1 cup, 140g, each)

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup (125ml) of cold water to dissolve and soften.

In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/3 cup (80ml) of water. Place over high heat.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the pinch of salt.

When the syrup reaches about 210ºF (99ºC), increase the speed of the mixer to really high and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy.

When the syrup reaches 245ºF (118ºC), slowly pour the hot syrup into the whites, pouring so that the syrup does not fall on the whisk since some of the syrup will splatter and stick to the sides of the bowl.  Keep the mixer running!!!!!

Scrape the gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup, and swirl it to dissolve. It'll be hot enough to melt.

Pour the liquified gelatin slowly into the whites as they are whipping. Add the vanilla extract or paste and continue to whip for 5 minutes, until the mixture is feels completely cool when you touch the outside of the bowl. Beat in the bailey (or kahlua, or godiva or creme de menthe!!)

Dust a baking sheet (9 x 13") evenly and completely with a generous layer of the marshmallow mixture.  Make sure there are absolutely no bare spots- use a sifter or fine mesh strainer.

Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, uncovered.

Put about 1 cup (140g) of the marshmallow mixture into a large bowl.

Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the marshmallow mixture. Use a pizza cutter or scissors (dusted as well with the marshmallow mixture) to cut the marshmallows into any size or shape pieces that you’d like and toss the marshmallows in the marshmallow mixture. Shake the marshmallows vigorously in a wire strainer to remove the excess powder.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chocolate Roll Out cookies with Chocolate Royal Icing

This is now my favorite chocolate cookie recipe.  No disrespect to Smitten Kitchen, but Georganne's recipe is so much easier to work with, and just as delicious, if not more so.  They keep their shape beautifully, in part because the shortening does not melt like butter does.  I love to sub 1/2 black cocoa and use hershey's special dark- that's what makes them so black!  They are really good paired with Chocolate Royal Icing

Chocolate Roll Out Cookies
Adapted from LilaLoa

1 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (11 1/2 oz or 325 gm)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa (2 3/4 oz or 80 gm)
3 cups flour (15 oz or 425 gm)

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking powder and salt and mix again. Stir in the cocoa until well blended. Add flour.  Roll out between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Roll out to 3/8" thick.  Bake at 375 F for 6 1/2 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes.  Do not overbake!!!!!

Chocolate Royal Icing
Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle

2 lbs confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/2 cup meringue powder
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup+2 Tbsp warm water

Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix lightly before adding the liquid. Mix half the water with the flavoring and add to the dry ingredients and mix on low adding the remaining liquid little by little until the mixture reaches the consistency of honey. At this point, turn the mixer to high and whip for approximately two minutes until the icing is light and fluffy like meringue.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

I made these for the first time, and I was not so careful about stripping the ribs out.  Consequently, these were like russian roulette.  You never knew when you'd get a super hot one!! Regardless, they were truly yummy.  Next time, I'll be more careful in the prep.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

15-20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
16 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound regular Bacon, Sliced Into Thirds

Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane completely if you want them mild.  Leave the ribs if you can take the heat. Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle.

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. The rack lets the grease drip off and the jalapeno not to sit in it.

Serve immediately, or eat at room temperature.