Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jalapeno-Chicken Crescent Pinwheels

So here is the second in the series of “small bites.  Jalapeno-Chicken Crescent Pinwheels are a really easy, really spicy bite of warm deliciousness.  I might change the name of these to Jalapeno-Chicken Crescent Bites, because it was so warm in my kitchen. My pinwheels didn’t stay in the shape of pinwheels.  The bites were still absolutely delicious anyway.

The recipe is found in the same cookbook as the Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts.  (Pillsbury Bake-Off, July 2004) The girls at the party where this recipe was debuted gave it a big “thumbs up”.  They liked the creaminess of the filling and the spiciness.  The recipe calls for fresh cilantro.  Now cilantro may be the second worst ingredient in my world, (green peppers are winner of the top prize).  I can only stomach cilantro if it is mixed in to something.  The smell of cilantro really gets to me.  I guarantee that you are not a fan of cilantro; you should still give these bites a try.  Just be careful about the dough and how much you handle it.  If it is really hot and humid wait until the very last minute to take the crescent roll out of the refrigerator.  Or, refrigerate the dough after filling, but before you cut them in pinwheels.  

Jalapeno-Chicken Crescent Bites

4 ounces cream cheese (from 9-oz package), softened
½ cup chopped cooked chicken
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped sliced jalapeno chilies
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (2 medium)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (8 oz) can of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix all ingredients except dough until well combined; set aside.
  2. Unroll dough (if it is an unusually hot day, wait until the last minutes to take it out of the refrigerator).  Separate the dough into 2 long rectangles.  Place 1 rectangle on a long cutting board; press perforations to seal.
  3. Spread half of cream cheese mixture on dough rectangle to within ½ inch of edges.
  4. Starting with one long side, roll up rectangle; press seams to seal.  Cut roll into 16 slices; place slices, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough rectangle.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes or until light golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet.  Serve warm.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

What a fabulous girl’s night out! Err, I mean in!  It is always so much fun to have my closest pals over to enjoy a ton of great food and fantastic drinks.  I will call this night three small dishes and a barrel of laughs! 

For the evenings festivities I made two appetizers and a sweet little pastry for dessert.  We also had an assortment of chips, hummus, olives, vegetable crudités, pita, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered marshmallows and peanut butter cookies.  All were equally delicious and all were gobbled up between laughs and good friends.
This will be the first installment of the three titled “Small Bites”.  The first recipe comes from the July 2004 edition of the “Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook”.  These cookbooks are fantastic!  You can buy them in the check out lane at the grocery store.  The best part about the cookbooks is the pictures!  Each recipe has its own picture so you know what your end product will look like.  (Or at least, supposed to look like).  The Bake-Off cookbook is unique because the recipes are submitted by the contestants in the Bake-Off contest. 

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart is an extremely easy recipe to prepare.  The tangy-ness of the goat cheese mixes so well the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes.  I couldn’t find the oil packed tomatoes that the recipe called for, so I just used the ones in the vacuumed pack.  They are a bit chewier but I still think it tasted ok.  One more note, the recipe calls for a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese.  It is supposed to be sprinkled on top of the tarts before baking.  I accidently mixed it into the cheese mixture.   Nobody’s perfect.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
1 (12oz) can Pillsbury Golden Layers Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits
½ cup mayonnaise
2 oz (1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried pesto seasoning
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Separate dough into 10 biscuits; separate each evenly into 2 layers, making 20 dough rounds.  Press each in an ungreased miniature muffin cup pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, goat cheese, tomatoes, onion flakes and pesto seasoning.  Spoon about 1 ½ teaspoons into each dough-lined cup.  Sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.  I ended up baking them for 13 minutes.  Remove from muffin cups.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Oh... My.... Gosh.....  I am just absolutely giddy right now!  Seriously giddy!  It is 11 o'clock at night and I am so excited I can't stand it!  Do you want to know why?  Are you ready?  Here is comes!!!!

I just won my first blog award!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you hear that?!  I said my MY FIRST BLOG AWARD!!!!!

It is called the The Versatile Blogger Award and it was awarded to me, by a dear women a world away.  My Sweet Little House is a beautiful blog written by a women named "Sweetums".  She fits her name, because she is sweet and wonderful and she has been lending me support and such kind words since I started.  I thank you "Sweetums" from the bottom of my heart.  It is so nice to get to know you.  A hundred times, thank you.

In order the accept this award, I have to thank the person who bestowed it upon me.  That was the easy part.  Now I have to share seven things about myself and list 15 blogs that I have discovered and that I have found fantastic!  Seven things huh?

1.  I am left handed.  Even though I can't cut with scissors I still think I am blessed with that trait.
2.  I love to cook because I love to feed people.
3.  I make my children try new foods all of the time.  The best was when I talked my daughter into eating a sardine.  I know, I am terrible.
4.  My favorite dates are dinner and a bookstore.
5.  I make a mean pot of spaghetti sauce... One day I will blog it.. I haven't decided if I am going to divulge the secret just yet.
6.  I would love to live in Chicago and I would love to visit Paris and London.
7.  I love farmer's markets!

Here are my 15!  These were hard decisions to make!  I believe everyone deserves an award for following their passions!

1.  My Sweet Little House
3.Caveman Cooking
4.Foodie House
5.French Press Memos
7.Jacobs Kitchen
10.The Dirty Oven
13.Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice

These are in no particular order.  I love to read all of these blogs and they continue to inspire me everyday.  It is with great honor that I pass the award on to them.  Please check out these blogs too!  I will keep a chunk of it myself.  If I had a certificate to print out, my mother would put in the binder of awards that she has been saving for me.  This one is my proudest moments.  (not at all like the "Thanks for Participating" award in gym)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Popping for Popovers!

I know it has been awhile since I have posted.  It has been one busy week!  I have only used my new stove and oven a few times and I feel so guilty.  I haven't gotten down to my cookbooks yet!  AGGGHHHHH!  I promise I will start soon.  In the meantime here is a quick post to satiate any craving you have been having!

Instead of the average dinner roll with dinner, why not try popovers!  The idea and beauty of popovers have always tantalized me.  How can these morsels bake up hollow and yet have a creamy interior at the same time?  I still don't know how that works, magic maybe?  The results?  Delicious!

Growing up, my mother always had a Moosewood cookbook.  I believe she had the original one.  Quite a few years ago I purchased the "Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special", by The Moosewood Collective.    The cookbooks come from a restaurant in New York that offers vegetarian and organic soups and salads.  The restaurant has been around for some time now and it's many chefs have published quite a few cookbooks.  I have never been to the restaurant, some day!

Herbed Popovers

11/2 cups white flour ( you can substitute whole grain flour)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh herbs,  (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Generously butter a standard 12- cup muffin tin.

When the oven reaches 450, heat the empty muffin tin for 5 minutes.  It should be smoking hot; a very hot pan is the key to successful, high rising popovers.

While the muffin tin is getting hot, place the flour, milk, eggs, oil and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.  Use a spatula to scrape down any flour that clings to the sides of the blender.

Stir in herbs by hand.

When the pan is hot, immediately fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes.  Serve hot.

I used freshly chopped basil and it gave the popovers a wonderful smell.   My four year old kept breaking them open just to smell them!

Monday, July 19, 2010

NEW OVEN!!!! and Sweet and Rich Blueberry Muffins

Guess what!!!!!  I just got a new oven!!!!!!!!  No more heat escaping! No more adjusting the time on recipes!  No more opening the door to see how my recipes are doing!  No more smoke pouring out when I open the door!  It matches my refrigerator too!  If my arms could have stretched far enough, I would have hugged both appliances and smothered them with kisses.  Yay!!!!!!  I didn’t know what to do first!  I wanted to bake something so badly, but I didn’t want to make a mess in it!  Well, here it it is!  The newest and currently favorite member of my family (don't tell the others I said that!)

Well, it is blueberry season and we love blueberries in this house.  My children eat them by the fistful and can easily chow down a quart in under an hour.  I just happened to grab the last of the blueberries before they realized it, and was able to use them in a recipe.  They are beautiful and plump and juicy!  What better way to serve them, but in a classic blueberry muffin!

While my oven waited patiently for its first job, I went searching for a quick, easy muffin recipe.  I found it in one of my favorite go-to cookbooks, Mark Bittmans’ “How to Cook Everything”.   I have used this cookbook quite a few times.  I use it to learn different cooking techniques.  It offers simple ways to prepare great ingredients and if you don’t have an ingredient on hand, what can be used to swap to make what you need.  There are actually crinkly pages in this cookbook.


Sweet and Rich Blueberry Muffins

Makes 8 large or 12 medium muffins

6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flower
2 eggs
½ cup milk

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  (It took me a bit longer, I had to figure out how to do that)
  2. Grease a standard 12-compartment muffin tin (very generously if you are not using paper muffin cups.)
  3. Mix together the butter and sugar
  4. Mix together the salt, baking powder, and flours in a separate bowl.
  5. Whisk the eggs into the milk, again in a separate bowl.
  6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, then moisten with a little of the milk.
  7. Repeat pattern until all off the ingredients are used up.  The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but moist, add a little bit more milk if desired.
  8. Carefully fold in bluberries
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds of the way full
  10. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  11. Remove from oven and let them rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the pan.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Very Fabulous Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Icing and Cheesecake Ice Cream

Happy Birthday Mom!  When asked by her grandson, “Grandma, what is your favorite kind of cake?”  She replied, “One that can’t ever be replicated.”  To which he replied, “Well, then, why don’t you pick one that can?”  Carrot cake was her answer.  Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, a good ole stand-by.  So I went searching through my stacks and piles of cookbooks, getting distracted every few minutes, because I would come across another recipe I wanted to make, I struck gold!

I found the recipe, Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Icing, in Jamie Oliver’s “Cook with Jamie” cookbook.   Let’s just say, that I love Jamie Oliver just as much as I love Nigella Lawson.  His cookbooks are things of beauty.  The books are filled with beautiful photos, easy to read recipes and the stories and descriptions in the books can be read like a novel.  “Cook with Jamie”, is an outstanding cookbook.  It was one of the cookbooks that I had only looked at and when I opened the cover it still made that cracking noise that new books made.  Now it has a page in the book that is a bit more crinkled then the others.   I think I am missing just one of Jamie’s cookbooks.  Remind me to put it on my wish list.

Well you can’t have cake with out ice cream, at least I can’t.  So the hunt was on for a perfect accompaniment to carrot cake.  I purchased an ice cream maker last year and of course have only made ice cream twice in it.  So it was time to dust it off.  While hunting for carrot cake, I found in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook “Forever Summer”, a delicious recipe for cheesecake ice cream.  That fits right?!  Carrot cake with lime mascarpone ice and cheesecake ice cream, sounds like the perfect gift for my mother.  She loved every bite.

Oh!  As to the cake that my mother mentioned that can’t be replicated, it was a cake that her grandma had made her.  I don’t know what kind of flavor the cake was, it was just the special cake that her grandmother made her for birthday.

Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Icing

This is a very dense cake.  I had to adjust the cooking time.  Oh and another quick note!  My camera decided to take everything with a blue tint.  AHHHH!  

1½ cups butter, softened
2 cups light brown soft sugar
5 large eggs, separated
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds
4 oz shelled walnuts, chopped, plus a handful more for serving
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
10oz carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
A pinch of salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and line a 9-inch square or circle cake pan.  I don’t have either of those so I used my spring form pan.  I just greased and floured the bottom and the sides.  Jamie recommends using wax paper to cover. 
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, by hand or in a food processor.  I used my hand mixer.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks one by one until each one is incorporated.
  5. Mix in the orange juice and zest.
  6. Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder
  7. Add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices and grated carrot and mix well together.
  8. In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.
  9. Fold the egg whites gently into the cake mix.
  10. Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.  My time was actually, 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  11. Check to see if the cake is done by sticking a toothpick in it. 
  12. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  13. Turn the cake out and let it rest before frosting at least 1 hour.

Lime Mascarpone Icing

8oz mascarpone cheese
8oz cream cheese
1 cup of powdered sugar
Zest and juice of two limes

Mix all the icing ingredients together and spread generously over the top of the cake.  Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

Cheesecake Ice Cream

I know owning an ice cream maker is a luxury.  If you don’t have one, I am very sorry.  Please ask for one for Christmas or your birthday.  Ice cream can also be very intimidating to make, just be patient it will come in practice.  I am still practicing.

¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
Juice of half a lemon
1 ½ cup heavy cream
2 graham crackers, crumbled.

  1. Heat the milk in a pan.
  2. While the milk is warming, beat together the sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and egg in a bowl.
  3. Watch the milk!  When you see tiny bubbles appearing along the inside of the pan it is ready to pour over the cream cheese mixture.
  4. While you are whisking slowly pour the hot milk into the cream cheese until it is incorporated.  You have to do this step slowly or you will end up with little bits of scrambled egg.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place it on the stove. 
  6. Bring the ice cream base mix back up to a low boil and stir contiuously until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Pour into a bowl and let it cool.
  8. Add the lemon juice and the heavy cream.
  9. Follow the instructions on the ice cream maker a freeze. 
  10. Just before the ice cream is set, add the graham cracker crumbs and pour into a bowl and freeze in the freezer for 4 hours.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

30-minute Chili and Mini Cornbread Puddings

I hate missing dinner.  It is one of my favorite meals of the day.  I am surrounded by my family for a few precious moments out of the day.  I can listen to them chew their food and the sounds they make. “MMMMMMM Mom great job” or “Mom, can I have some more?” or “Mom, I don’t want this, I want bologna again.”  I hear that last one way too often.  

So today, I decided to do something nice.  I had to work this afternoon and late into the evening and I wanted my family to have a warm nice meal that came from home.  Not from a pizza box or a cardboard chicken bucket.  Gabe and I went to the farmer’s market this morning and bought some beautiful dahlias and the ingredients to make a quick, fast, and simple chili.  Not fancy chili, easy chili. 

Today’s recipes come from “Everyday Food”, by Martha Stewart Living Publications.  I have 70 of these little cookbooks.  They have quick, easy recipes that you can throw together in a pinch.  The magazine also has handy dandy shopping list to check off and it lists all nutrition information too.  30-minute Chili and Mini Cornbread Puddings were a snap to pull off and I didn’t have to worry about what my family was eating!  Oh, and the mini-cornbreads are addicting. 

30-minute Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 pounds ground beef chuck.  (I substituted ground turkey)
3 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 bottle (12 ounces) mild lager beer.  I used Oberon
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a Dutch oven or large (5 quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add onions and garlic.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, and cinnamon.
  5. Cook, stirring until mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add beef, or turkey, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  This step was a bit hard because all of the spices turned the turkey red, so I kind of had to guess when it was done.
  7. Add tomatoes with their juice, beer, and beans.
  8. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. 
  9. Cook over medium heat until chili has slightly thickened and beans are tender.  
  10. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.
  11. Serve with Mini Cornbread Puddings!!!!!

Mini Cornbread Puddings

Butter or nonstick spray to grease a 24 mini muffin pan
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed and patted dry

  1. Preheat oven to 425 with rack in upper third.
  2. Butter or spray pan and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  5. In well, whisk together egg, sour cream and corn.
  6. Mix with flour mixture until just incorporated. (Don’t over mix)
  7. Divide evenly, spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
  8. Bake until tops have browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.  About 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gooey Chocolate Stack

I love having Mondays off.  It is a day when I can tackle more ambitious projects and be relaxed doing it.

  The first thing I did on my day off was to come up with a way to modify the blog.  I have decided that I have been making this recipe/cookbook challenge a whole lot more complicated then it is.  Instead of picking recipes randomly, I am going to pick a cookbook and feature it for a week.  I will be picking three to four recipes from the cookbook, recipes that show the theme of the cookbook.  I know this will take planning but it will help me to be a bit more organized.  I hope everyone has fun with this idea and I hope everyone will look forward to the cookbooks I will be featuring.  

The second thing I did was make an absolutely delicious dessert from one of my favorite cookbook authors.  I fell in love with Nigella Lawson’s work when she was on the Style Network.  She is funny, creative, and brilliant.  I have almost all of her cookbooks.  I still need to get the Christmas cookbook that just came out.  Her cookbooks are written in a style that is both personable and informative. 

Gooey Chocolate Stack, in the cookbook Nigella describes it as chocolate heaven, and that is exactly what it is.  The crisp layers of the meringue discs and the smooth creaminess of the crème patisserie blended into a perfect chocolate sensation.  The recipe did take a little planning and a small amount of extra work, but was worth every bite full.  Nigella’s directions were easy to understand and simple to follow.  My only suggestion with this recipe is that you assemble it right before you eat it.  If the stack sits to long the meringue discs begin to soften because of the pastry crème. 

Gooey Chocolate Stack 

6 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the chocolate crème patissiere:

6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  2. Line the baking sheets with parchment and draw an 8-inch circle on each one.  I use a ruler and made a general guess as to how big an 8-inch diameter circle was.  Nigella recommends finding a bowl or a cake pan with the dimensions you are looking for, plonk it on the pan and trace it.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating in well after each addition.  The mixture will become very glossy.
  4. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then fold in gently but firmly.
  5. Divide the meringue among the 3 circles, spreading evenly.  Nigella directions assured me that I didn’t have to be gentle when I did that step, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
  6. Cook for 1 hour, and then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in until cool.  Nigella also suggests making the meringue discs before bedtime and leaving them in the oven over night.
  7. ‘For the crème patissiere:  beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the coca and flour, whisking well.
  8. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, then, whisking; pour this onto the eggs and sugar before pouring everything back into the saucepan on the heat.
  9. Stir constantly, bring to a boil.
  10. When the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
  11. Let the crème cool.  The quickest way to do this is, by making an ice bath in the sink and plunging the pan in and continue stirring until the mixture is cooled down and thickened even more.
  12. To assemble the cake, place one of the meringue discs on a flat plate and spread a third of the chocolate cream, then carry on layering. 
  13. Top with toasted pistachios or fruit if desired.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Impromptu Fish Tacos!

Impromptu Fish Tacos!

I love experimenting on my children!  They are willing subjects, well two of them are, and they love to eat!  Alex loves fish and seafood and he has been bugging me to make fish tacos.  So while daddy was at work, and I had a bag of tilapia in the freezer the planets collided and I made them.  They were scrumptious! 

I defrosted the tilapia and sprinkled a little bit of Old Bay Seasoning on the fillets.  I lit the grill. (Yay!  I can do that by myself!)  I wiped a little olive oil on the grate to prevent sticking.  Tilapia is a really delicate fish, and I didn’t want lose most of it to the grill.   While the tilapia was grilling, I threw on some corn tortillas.  I originally meant to just soften them, but I left them on too long and they became crispy.  Isabelle had a fish tostada.  I made a quick slaw to top the tacos with leftover coleslaw mix and a splash of olive oil, red wine vinegar and a sweet chili sauce.  We topped the tacos with the slaw, and some store bought pico de gallo, (I hear a collective gasp from all of you gourmet foodies) and gobbled them down!  

The Impromptu Fish Tacos were a perfect lunch on a hot summer’s day.  The combination of spicy and sweet from the coleslaw worked really well with the mildness of the fish. The tacos are also a healthy option!  I think I might make them for lunch again tomorrow!  

Friday, July 9, 2010

Orange and Chocolate Cake

Oh my oven, how I have missed you!  It finally cooled down enough around here to put something in the oven.  And when I say cooled down, I mean it is less than ninety degrees.  The birthday parties are over and we are getting back to normal.  When I say normal, I mean as close to normal as our family can get.  He he.

I finally get a day where I can bake all day long if I want to.  The kids have really taken to these projects and are anxious to help out in the kitchen.  Isabelle helped me with this recipe from start to finish.  We had a great time, working as a team.

This week’s recipe comes from “The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You’ll Ever Need”. This book is chock full of great recipes to bake with minimal effort.  I used this cookbook previously when I made the Tangy Lime Poppy Seed cake.  There are no pictures in this cookbook, but you don’t really need them.  The instructions are easy to follow and the recipes always turn out!

Orange Chocolate Bread leapt out at me while I turned the pages of the cookbook.  The concept of chocolate and orange is absolutely fabulous and it is a tried and true combination of flavors.  My mother loves chocolate and orange.  So I made this recipe partially in honor of her. Also I was hungry for it!  The hardest part about this recipe was keeping my children’s fingers out of the bowl after I mixed it together.  Ok, I admit it; I had a hard time keeping my fingers out too!  My house smells so delicious.  I have the windows open and the fans blowing.  I think everybody walking by is so jealous!


Orange and Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup mandarin orange segments, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped semisweet chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Lightly coat a 9x5x2 ½- loaf pan with baking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the eggs, yogurt, orange juice concentrate, orange zest, and butter into a small bowl and stir until well mixed.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moist.
  5. Gently fold in the orange segments.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pan.  (Keep your fingers out of the mix!  I know it will be hard)
  7. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.
  8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes in the baking pan.  Remove from pan and serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Insalata di Potate

My oven and stove have gone into hibernation.  They think that I have been neglecting them.  It is sad… I do miss them.  All of the wonderful creations that have come out of them…. a distant memory.  Ok, so it has been a week and it has been way too hot!  I promised them at some point I will return.
On a happier note! This has been one of the greatest vacations ever! I am filled to the brim with great food and good times!   All I have done for the last five days is eat, and eat, and eat! My husband and I take off the Fourth of July weekend because two of our children have birthdays right next to each other.   It started on Thursday with my son’s 11th birthday.  He picked birthday lunch at a really cool restaurant that serves fried alligator as an appetizer.  For the two days before his birthday that is all he could talk about!  ALLIGATOR!  Alright, I tasted it.  I tried it.  NOT GOOD!  I am pretty flexible when it comes to flavors.  It is the textures of things I can’t handle.  Alligator is one that I cannot handle.  Chewy, rubbery, fatty, blehhhhh, and my son loved it!  It was well worth it to watch him eat it.

My daughters 9th birthday was on Friday and she picked one of her favorite restaurants and we had a great meal.  Birthday dinner for both of the kids was at a Japanese steak house.  YUMMY!  I am getting full just thinking about all of the great food! 

I would have to say my favorite meal of the weekend was on Saturday.  We had the family party for both of the kids.  We made hamburgers and hotdogs and asked all the family members to bring their special salads that they bring to potlucks.  I asked my mother to bring her pepperoni salad, and my grandmother to bring her Italian potato salad.  They are always a hit, and easy to make, and absolutely delicious!  Here is my grandmother’s beautiful and delicious potato salad recipe.

This recipe serves four but it is easily doubled or tripled for a big crowd.

Italian Potato Salad (Insalata di Potate)

2 medium-sized white potatoes
1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
½ cup English cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ cup sliced black olives
2 tablespoons diced red onion
¼ tsp oregano
1 packet Good Seasoning Italian dressing, mixed according packet directions

Boil the potatoes gently until fork tender.  You don’t want to boil them too long or the potato salad will end up getting mushy.  When the potatoes are done, cool them until they are able to be handled and peel them, by rubbing the skins off.  Chill them in the refrigerator for half an hour. 

Gently break up the potatoes in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the celery, cucumber and black olives.  Toss gently, trying not to break up the potatoes even more.  Mix in the red onion and toss with dressing and oregano.  Add about ¾ of a cup of dressing.  The potato salad will soak up some of the dressing during refrigeration.  Add more dressing if needed before serving. 

Serves 4.