Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chocolate Cake

My dear husband likes chocolate. Well, that is an understatement I guess... He is a chocolate snob. And that's ok :) That means that instead of eating a Twix Bar he will wait and eat chocolate truffles that I've made. He'll eat 20 chocolate truffles in one day, but still... this usually only happens a few times a year (usually revolving around finals). He's been in need of a chocolate fix and I'm not up for truffles.

I've been meaning to dive into my Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum for awhile now and JD finally gave me the push I needed (read: He picked a recipe and said "make this"). This cake is amazing. The crumb is very fine. It is dense without being heavy. It literally melts in your mouth. I made a small 6 inch double layer cake and 9 cupcakes and we ate almost every single piece of this thing... The frosting is a Milk Chocolate Buttercream. Prepare yourself, this is not a low calorie dessert.
This is the last cupcake that I brought to a friend of mine. My son liked them without the frosting. He also actually ate the whole cupcake, which is a first. He usually just licks off the frosting and is done.


Milk Chocolate Buttercream

1 lb Milk Chocolate
8 Oz Dark Chocolate
12 Oz Butter, softened

Melt chocolate together over a double boiler until 1/2 is melted. Remove from heat and stir until all the chocolate is melted (will take a few minutes of constant stirring, but don't worry it will all melt. If it doesn't place it back on the double boiler for a few seconds and stir quickly. Don't overheat). In a bowl to fit on your mixer place your butter and the cookie paddle attachment. Beat the butter until smooth and starting to fluff a bit. Once the chocolate has melted and cooled until it is no longer hot to the touch pour the chocolate into the butter. Beat on medium for about 30 seconds and scrape down the bowl. Again beat until it is all one color and smooth. Frost :) It will begin to dry and harden on the top so whatever you don't use and want to keep, you can freeze for up to 6 months, room temperature for 3 days or fridge for 3 weeks.

Chocolate Butter Cake

1/2 C + 3 T unsweetened Cocoa
1 C Boiling Water (add 3 T for Utah Altitude Adjustment)
3 Large Eggs
2 1/4 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 C + 2 T Sifted Cake Flour
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 T Baking Powder (Decrease to 2 7/8 tsp for Utah Altitude Adjustment)
3/4 tsp Salt
1 C Butter

In one bowl combine water and cocoa. In another bowl combing eggs, 1/4 coca mixture and vanilla. In yet another bowl combine remaining dry ingredients and whisk for about 30 seconds to incorporate everything. Add the butter and the remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Then increase to medium high for 1 minute 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and add the egg mixture in 3 parts mixing for 20 seconds after each addition. Pour into greased and floured pans 9 inch cake pans. Bake 25-35 minutes at 350 (375 for Utah Altitude Adjustment) or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you want to do cupcakes it should make at least 20 (maybe 24... depending on how full you fill each cup). Bake at the same temperature as the cake, bake for 18-22 minutes, but start checking about 15 just in case.

Pomegranate Rice

I know it's not a great photo, but at least you can see all the goodness in this rice. It was SOOO good. The one thing to know though is to add the pistachios right before you serve it. I preferred the crunch they offered. They longer it sits the softer they get. Still good flavor, but the texture changes. It's definitely a great recipe, just not one that I want to cook and eat every night... kind of a Special Occasion side dish :)

I got this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

1 Shallot (or 1 T finely minced yellow onion)
1 T Canola Oil
1 C Jasmine or Long Grain White Rice (I used a Wild Rice medley you can purchase at Costco)
2 tsp Fresh Ginger
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 14 oz can Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth (You can use veggie stock or water)
1/4 C Water
1/2 C Roasted Salted Pistachio Nuts
1 C Pomegranate Seeds
Lemon Peel Strips

Heat oil in a saucepan and add shallots, cook until tender. Add rice, ginger, cinnamon and cook until rice begins to brown. Add water and broth and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to low. Simmer until rice is done. For the Jasmine or White Rice it will be about 20-25 minutes, for the Wild Rice Medley from Costco it will be about an hour. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Place in a bowl and stir in pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Garnish with lemon peel and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cake

The water significantly changes the texture of this cake. With water its a cake with cherries in it. Without water its a cross between cherry brownies and a cherry cake... very rich but really good.

Chocolate Cherry Cake

1 chocolate cake mix

1 C water (optional)

1 egg

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

1 ½ C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, water and egg until smooth. Fold in cherry pie filling. Pour into a greased 9x13 pinch pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the cake and let melt. Once melted spread chocolate chips over the cake as frosting.

Cheesy Penne Pasta

This is mac n cheese for adults. You could just as easily substitute regular sharp cheddar for the white. It is really easy, just high in fat and calories.

Cheesy Penne Pasta

1 lb penne pasta

2 C aged white sharp cheddar

2 tsp Dijon Mustard

½ C Whole Milk

¾ C Heavy Cream

Boil noodles. Drain and add cheese. Add Heavy Cream, milk and Dijon mustard. Stir over medium low heat until cheese has melted.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

It isn't homemade, but looks it and almost tastes it. :) I'm sure you could substitute any boxed alfredo pasta and add any other veggies you want.

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo

3 T Margarine

1 lb chicken breasts

½ c chopped red bell pepper

2 C Fresh or frozen broccoli florets (thawed)

1 ¾ C Water

½ C milk

1 pkg Knorr Pasta Sides, Alfredo

Melt 1 T margarine in a skillet and cook chicken thoroughly. Remove chicken and set aside. Melt remaining margarine in same skillet and cook red pepper. Stir in broccoli, water and milk. Bring to a boil. Stir in Alfredo pasta. Cook 8 minutes. Return chicken to skillet, heat through.

Veggie Rice Pilaf

This can easily be made Vegan by omitting the chicken stock and replacing with water or veggie stock. We forgot the almonds tonight, but it was great without.

Rice Pilaf

1 C Rice

2 C water or chicken stock

1/2 cup carrot, diced

1/2 cup green onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup almonds, sliced

salt to taste

1/4 tsp oregano

Sauté chopped vegetables in olive oil until clear, yet crisp: stir in oregano. Add rice and sauté until golden and fragrant. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Dry-roast almonds in heavy skillet until lightly golden. Add almonds and mix.

Easiest Roast Chicken

When I say easy, I mean easy! You must let it rest!

Roast Chicken Dinner – Serves 4, about 250 calories per chicken breast (no skin, no bones), about 60 calories per drumstick (no skin, no bones), wings about 100 calories (no bones)

One 3-4 pound chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken— rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Bagel Dogs

I know... they sound strange. They are however surprisingly good. They are better when you haven't eaten all day and you need to have your daily caloric intake in one meal, but hey... every now and then it's alright.

Bagel Dog – serves 16 (maybe 32 if you cut each one in half) Appx $1.23 per serving

JohnMorrell Polish Sausages (not Smoked) 48oz pkg
Hillshire Farms Pastrami 2-8 oz pkgs
1 LB Swiss Cheese
1/4 cup Dried Onions
4 pkg. yeast (or 4 T yeast)

1-2 tablespoons Poppy Seeds
1 egg beaten

8 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups of warm water

3-4 Tablespoon of sugar
4 tablespoons of salt

In the bowl of a mixer combine: 3 ½ C Flour, 4 T yeast, sugar, salt and water. Mix until smooth and set aside for 5 minutes. Then add 4 1/2 to 5 cups of flour making a ball of dough. Set aside while you prepare centers.

Take 16 polish sausages (I use John Morrell they taste the best) slit them down the middle making room for the cheese and the pastrami. Take 2 packages of Hillshire Farms pastrami and slice each package in 8 equal portions. Take 1 pound of swiss cheese and cut into 16 equal strips. Beat 1 egg to brush on later and you will also need 1/4 cups dry onion and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds.

Take the sausages and open them up sprinkle approx. 1/2 teaspoon of dried onion inside, place pastrami and cheese on top of that. Once they are all prepared with the meat and cheese take the dough and cut it into 16 pieces. Roll each piece out flat into a triangle. Place the meat on the shortest end as long as there is enough room to fold over the ends to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Place on a baking sheet Bake @ 375 to 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until brown. If you want to you can freeze them individually then wrap in plastic wrap and put in zip lock bags to keep fresh. From frozen they take 5 extra minutes to bake. Enjoy!

These are traditionally served with Yellow Mustard.

Back Log

So apparently, it's been a while. I had a baby right after the last post and obviously haven't done much since. That will change though :)

I am in charge of a cooking group for my Church and we hold 8 classes each year. We usually cook 3-5 new things, maybe with a theme, maybe not :) Tonight we made 5 delicious meals and one dessert... the recipes are soon to come, but there are no photos, sorry. Maybe nest time! Hope you enjoy!