I know you are probably up to your ears in left over Halloween candy, and the last thing you want to think about is making your own candy….but I promise you, these are worth it! This recipe has been circulating the internet for over a year, and despite coming from THE Smitten Kitchen, I was still a bit hesitant as to whether these would actually taste like apple cider. Well my friends, I can attest to ahhhmazingness of these caramels. Somehow, magically, they do indeed taste like apple cider. (Or maybe not so magically….you do use an entire quart of the stuff and boil it down to a mere 1/3 cup to infuse the caramel with cider flavor).
I actually had made these for our pumpkin carving party, but because of the unpredictable nature of intern year (and medicine in general), I was 2 hours late to my own party…. so instead, I have been enjoying these myself for the past 2 weeks. (Good thing I’m not the dentist in the family…) I also insist that everyone who comes to our house tries at least one – and the response is always the same….”ahhhhmazing.” So before cider is gone until next fall, make these. You won’t regret it.
Apple Cider Caramels
Makes 64 caramels
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or less of a finer one
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Boil the apple cider in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume, stirring occasionally. This took about 1 hour on my stove.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment, then butter. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish.
Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium- high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees, about 5 minutes. Do not take your eyes off it as it burns quickly.
Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the cinnamon- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours, though it goes faster in the fridge. Once caramel is firm, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled or buttered knife to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt if desired. Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of parchment or waxed paper twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.
Caramels keep, in an airtight container at room temperature.
Source: Smitten Kitchen
So, you know my previous obsession with California? Well, because we’ve had the most amazing weather for the last month, I’m starting to realize that Ohio is pretty awesome! The leaves are starting to change, there is fog over the valleys when I drive to work, and the sun has that autumn glow. It’s wonderful! Although you will surely need to remind me of this come February, when I cannot wait for winter to be over! To keep my California dream alive, my best friend from like the fourth grade just landed a coveted fellowship spot at UCLA, so I’m quite sure my love will be rekindled when I go to visit. But for now, I’m loving Ohio.
Now about these muffins. Obviously, they totally go with October, but they would be equally perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast. They are actually pretty healthy – chunks of apple and apple sauce keep them very moist without much fat. Then of course you add this browned butter glaze, which sort of ruins the healthy aspect, but you absolutely cannot leave it off. It is amazing. Together, these were best apple muffins I’ve ever had.
A few technical points…. First, you precook the apple with a bit of sugar and spice. This step gives the apples a pie-like texture, instead of the dehydrated apple you find in some baked goods. Additionally, I found out the hard way that there are so many liquid components to these, that they will seep if allowed to sit in an air tight container. I’m quite sure this didn’t make the best presentation when John brought them into class, but apparently they were still well loved. To avoid this, go a little lighter on the amount of apple in the batter, and store with a rack underneath. These muffins are just hearty enough that you can call them breakfast without too much guilt.
Apple Cider Muffins with Browned Butter Glaze
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 -2 ½ honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons apple cider
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider
For the Glaze:
- 4 tablespoons browned butter, melted and cooled*
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Begin by melting the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally until the butter turns a deep golden brown. Be careful not to burn. *Repeat this step for the browned butter in the glaze.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and add diced apples with 3 tablespoons apple cider, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft and caramely, about 8-10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside. Line a muffin tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar together until smooth and no lumps remain. Add in vanilla extract, butter, apple sauce and apple cider, whisking again until smooth. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Fold in diced apples. Do not overmix. Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full to scantly full.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops slightly golden. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Brown Butter Apple Cider Glaze
In a medium bowl, combine browned butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whisk until the mixture comes together then add in 1 tablespoon of apple cider, continuing to mix. If it still doesn’t appear glaze-like, add in cider 1/2 tablespoon at a time and mix again. Don’t worry if it becomes too liquidy – just add a tiny bit of powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Spoon glaze on warm muffins or dip each top in the glaze, then serve.
Slightly Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Let me just profess how incredibly happy I am that it is October! Not only for the amazing weather, the change of leaves, and a special someone’s birthday, but also because my work schedule is much more manageable, and I actually have a few minutes to breathe. Of course at the top of my weekend to do list was celebrating the season by making baked goods! My friend Val also happens to be very found of October, seasonal festiveness and baking, so I knew pumpkin spice doughnuts would be right up her alley. I actually felt like a normal person, chit chatting on a Saturday afternoon, experimenting in the kitchen, and enjoying fall. It was so much fun!
Truth be told, I had bought a doughnut cutter specifically for these doughnuts more than a year ago, and had yet to use it. Fall passed me by, and making pumpkin doughnuts in December just seemed wrong. We found that the doughnuts “holes” made with the cutter were much larger than expected, so we ended up cutting them into fourths and making more snack size bites.
Now, I know people “bake” doughnuts, and that is much healthier, but let’s be honest, by definition doughnuts are fried. I’m not about to go redefining the very essentials of a doughnut by baking them, so yes, I fried these. Healthy? No. Guilty pleasure? Yes. I have only fried things one other time in my life, and it was pretty much the worst disaster I’ve had yet in the kitchen. (Picture an apartment so smoke filled you couldn’t reenter it for hours….). Happy to say this time went much more smoothly. The only difficult part is getting the oil to stay at the right temperature. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat to high – stick with medium – and use a heavy duty pan, like cast iron, that will keep consistent heat. Overall, these were considerably easier than I was expecting, but just as fun and festive as I was hoping.
Makes 14-16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
For the doughnuts:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
- Canola or Peanut Oil (for deep-frying)
For the cinnamon-sugar:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the spiced glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- Dash of ground ginger
- Dash of ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons milk
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and butter until well blended. Add egg, then yolks and vanilla. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir. Alternating buttermilk and flour mixture, continue to mix until all ingredients added and well blended. Cover the mixture and freeze for 1 hour, or refrigerate for 3.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and lightly flour your work surface. Gently roll dough to about 1 – 1.5 cm thickness. Using a floured doughnut cutter or 3-inch round cutter, cut out dough rounds. If needed, use a floured 1-inch cutter to remove the centers (or the bottom of a 1 m piping tip). Arrange the doughnuts and holes on the prepared baking sheets, and if possible chill until ready to fry. Gather dough scraps and continue cutting until all the dough is used.
Line a cooling rack with several paper towels. Add enough oil to a skillet or Dutch oven to reach a depth of 1 – 1½ inches. Heat oil until the temperature reaches 365º to 370º. Fry doughnuts a few at a time, adjusting heat as needed to maintain temperature, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Fry doughnut holes in a couple batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Use a strainer to transfer doughnuts to paper towels.
To make the cinnamon-sugar, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar in a small, shallow bowl until combined. When doughnuts are cool enough to touch, dip in cinnamon-sugar mixture and turn to coat completely.
Make the spiced glaze by combining powdered sugar and spices in a small bowl. Add the milk and whisk to combine, until a thick glaze is formed. Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. Dip the remaining doughnuts in the glaze and allow to set before serving.
Source: Cook like a Champion
Every once in a while I see a recipe and immediately feel the need to make it that very same day. This would be one of those recipes. With an absolutely beautiful September behind us, and what I’m hoping will be an even more beautiful October ahead, I couldn’t pass up a recipe that so perfectly matched this fall weather. It helps that there’s only about 5 ingredients and that from start to finish this only took about 20 minutes. Residency + a long commute + triathlons + general career/life crises have been taking up pretty much all my time, and blogging hasn’t been at the top of my list…but truth be told, I miss it!
You know this sandwich must be pretty great, considering it made me come out of blog hibernation. In fact, it really makes me want to go apple picking and drink cider. The combination might sound a bit odd, but the apple and apple butter is really a nice balance to the saltiness from the ham and cheese. Plus, I love adding sweetness to anything I can. So if you’re looking for a quick an easy dinner to enjoy with fall, look no further.
Apple, Ham and White Cheddar Panini
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 3 T. butter, at room temperature
- 2 large apples, thinly sliced
- Sliced white cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces
- Thinly sliced maple ham, 6-8 ounces
- 1/2 cup apple butter
Heat a grill pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Butter the outside of each sandwich liberally. On one piece of bread, layer apple slices, cheese and ham. On the other slice apply a thick layer of apple butter. Sandwich the pairs together so that the buttered sides are facing outwards.
Cook the sandwiches, turning once, until both sides are golden and the cheese is melted. Slice in half and serve immediately.
Source: Annie’s Eats
So I apologize that this post is not really recipe related, but I figure maybe someone out there would be interested in what life is like as a matched fourth year medical student. In case you don’t get this from the post, in the words of Barney Stinson it’s legen… wait for it…… dary. It’s a pretty great feeling to have so much freedom after 3.75 years of being a slave to the books. Lately, I’ve seen a few second year med students post about doing UWorld questions while preparing for Step 1 (the most stressful test I’ve ever taken in my life), and I just want to tell them… It gets better, so much better! So let this post be a testament to that!
While John was finishing up classes, I had the pleasure of going to a med school friend’s bachelorette in Vegas. While I previously have claimed that “Vegas isn’t really my scene”, this trip proved me wrong.
When I got back, it was a few days of real life, before I made a trip to Columbus to see one of my best friends. It just so happened she had the weekend off, AND there was an elaborate birthday extravaganza planned on the Santa Maria. I’ll have to say, everyone really took the pirate theme to heart, and it made for a really fun party.
Then I sort of last minute booked my trip to San Francisco to see my roomies from college. The picture below is in Dolores park, with 4 girls who all met through PWild, a 2 week wilderness backpacking adventure before college started. My love affair with California is still going strong.
We packed a lot into a few days thanks to our amazing tour guide, who also happens to be finishing up business school. We started the weekend with dinner and drinks in Oakland, and I’m still dreaming about the garden gimlet with crushed cucumber and hand muddled mojitos of that night. Then we hit up Muir woods, hiked to Stinson beach, and finished the day off in Dolores Park. Emily and I used the time change to our full advantage and were waking up around 6 – which gave me the chance to join all the other runners down at the embarcadero. And we even made a trip up to Napa and Sonoma. So much diversity in such a small area. So at least for now, I’ve still got my sights set on California!
When I got back, it was a day full of packing, and the big move to Cleveland! We stored all our stuff in a pod, and about 20 hours before we left for Italy, I realized that I had stored my Passport away in that pod full of tightly packed stuff. By some miracle, the pod was moved to a reachable location, and we were able to sneak onto the property, unpack the pod, and recover the passport. I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did that!” but really, I totally can. Sorry John, take the good with the bad I guess :-).
And then John and I left together for our 2 weeks in Italy! We had a really hard time deciding where we wanted to go as a graduation trip, but ultimately we thought Italy offered the most of the things we were interested in – good food, gorgeous views, pretty hikes, and good wine :-).
We started the trip in Tuscany, and stayed in an old 8th century village that was converted to a hotel.
We visited several small towns, and some bigger ones like Siena. It was kind of crazy to think about the fact that Tuscany is like Italy’s version of farmlands. Wine and olives instead of corn and soybeans. I think I could deal with that :-). My absolutely favorite part of this trip was the cooking class we took from 2 Italian sisters, who hosted us in their home. We heard about them through Backroads , and you can find them at Tutti a Tavola. This is their personal patio, and yes that is a field of olive trees right on their land. We even bought a liter of olive oil, pressed on their property, to bring home.
It was just really neat to be in an actual Tuscan home, cooking actual tuscan food. We had a wonderful 5 course dinner, and had so much fun preparing it together. We started with grissini (crunchy italian breadsticks), covered with thin pancetta and then rolled in a mix of brown sugar and crushed red pepper.
Then we roasted tomatoes filled with breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and of course olive oil. These eventually got mixed with pasta, but they would be fabulous on their own as well.
And of course John helped with the Tiramisu.
We met 2 girls from San Francisco a couple from denver, and another couple from Australia. It was such a fun and interesting evening. We headed over to Pienza the next day, and enjoyed this view from our window.
Literally everywhere you look in Tuscany is right off a post card. This was from the hillside town of Montepulciano.
After a few more days of wine tastings, and visiting beautiful countryside towns, we headed down to the coast. I seriously don’t know how John drove on all the crazy roads with crazy Italian drivers, but he never once complained and even seemed to enjoy it. I wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes.
When we left the states, my mom cried. When we got back, she told us it wasn’t because she was sad to see us go, but because she was so worried about John driving along the Amalfi coast. It is pretty harrowing, thank goodness he likes to drive stick shift, because I can’t imagine driving there with an automatic. We checked out Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and a few smaller towns, but Positano was by far my favorite.
And by night…
I think my second favorite part of the trip was a hike we did called “Footpath of the Gods” or Sentiero degli dei. It was about a 6 mile hike from Bomerano, into Positano. It started off a little rough because we somehow missed the initial sign starting the trail, and ended up walking about 4 miles before finally getting back to the starting point. Once we actually got on the trail it was an easy, well marked hike, with beautiful views.
We also took a one day trip to Pompei and Mount Vesuvius, which truthfully I didn’t know anything about, and so wasn’t really expecting much. It ended up being awesome! Pompeii is the largest archeological site IN THE WORLD. It is an entire town from the six or seventh century BC that became preserved under ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. John is standing in front of what used to be a “fast food joint” in the town. Literally, they made food, and people would take it to go! They also had “plumbing systems” (in BC times people!), and shops, amazingly elaborate houses, and of course the standard gymnasiums, bath houses, amphitheater, that I always associate with Roman times.
I didn’t want to bore you with too many details, but I didn’t even begin to cover everything we did! If you have any questions about planning a similar trip, be sure to let me know! Overall, it was a really nice getaway for just the two of us before I start residency. It was filled with a lot (probably too much) pasta, wine and gelato, but we both enjoyed every second :-).
You know the saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person?” Well in the past month, I have found that this saying is pretty much spot on. Somehow when I was working 10-12 hour days, studying for shelf exams, running, being a wife, and taking care of a puppy, I had time to post all these new things I made. Then second semester fourth year happened, and for the first time since I can remember, I have a lot of free time, yet I have posted almost nothing on this blog! It’s really true, when you are busy, you just get more done! That being said, it’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen. I have been trying out lots of fun recipes – everything from making my own greek yogurt, tiramisu cupcakes, shrimp enchiladas and the very delicious but dangerous blackberry pie bars- I just didn’t get any pictures! So finally, here’s a new recipe just in time for the summer-like weather.
I loved this dinner because it’s healthy enough that you feel good about eating it, but the avocado cream sauce gives it just a touch of sass that still makes you feel like your cheating. And if you really feel like being rebellious, I think it would go great with these cookies.
Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce
- Makes about 18 patties
For the patties:
- 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided in half
- 2 roasted red bell peppers*, divided in half
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
- Salt and pepper
- Canola or vegetable oil
For the corn relish:
- 2 tsp. canola oil
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the avocado cream sauce:
- 1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
*To Roast the Red Peppers: Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil Coat the outside of each pepper with olive oil. Cook the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is lightly browned. Remove from oven and pull aluminum foil around the peppers. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then peel of skin and remove seeds. Can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
1. To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle. Process until smooth. Finely chop the remaining bell pepper. In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans. Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper
2. Stir in the cornmeal or panko, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up. (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball. If it is too sticky, add a little more. I ended up needing at least 1 cup). Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.
3. While the bean mixture is chilling, make the corn relish. Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn to the pan and sauté briefly until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the tomato, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth.
5. Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter. Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve the patties warm topped with the corn relish and drizzled with the avocado cream sauce.
Source: Annie’s Eats
It is not very often that I like to make something twice, and it is also rare that I like to eat leftovers… so the fact that I made this twice in one week, AND had the leftovers for lunch, should tell you that this meal was a total winner. The first time I made it, I wasn’t expecting much. I mostly just made it to add some variety to our menu, as I have a hard time incorporating lean beef. Then I made it and completely fell in love. For non-marinated flank steak, it was incredibly tender and orange flavor really shines through. Plus, any meal that satisfies my sweet tooth with something nutritious and delicious, is an obvious A+ (Think Blueberry Salmon, Mango Salmon, and Strawberry Pizza). I think this will be a regular in our rotation, because it really does make great lunches the rest of the week.
This meal is ready from start to finish in less then 30 minutes, but some of the steps are more time consuming then the others. For example, the zesting the orange and grating the ginger. To save time even more time you could easily buy the ginger in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator section, or make the sauce ahead of time. Be sure to start the rice early so it’s ready when the meat is done!
Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (I just zest 1 whole orange)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
vegetable oil for pan
1-1/2 pounds flank steak (to clarify: that’s one steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds)
3-4 green onions, sliced
hot white or brown rice for serving
Trim fat from flank steak, then slice as thin as possible across the grain. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Whisk orange zest and orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with oil and tilt to coat. Add half of beef, breaking up any clumps and let cook without stirring for one minute. Stir beef and continue to cook until browned, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl and cover. Repeat with remaining beef and transfer to bowl.
Whisk sauce to recombine, add to now-empty skillet, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Return cooked beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Source: Our Best Bites
The end of last week marked the end of my 14th week of AHECs (also known as rural health rotations). We are required to do 8 weeks in a rural health setting as part of our medical school curriculum, but I have had such good experiences in these small towns that I chose to do another 6! This last one was definitely no exception. I got to work one-on-one with probably the second nicest radiologist I’ve ever met (father-in-law will always be first!), who taught me something new everyday, and really helped me to feel prepared for residency by letting me go through films on my own when we had free time. The staff was all so welcoming and made me feel like part of the team, and the patients are just so sweet and so in need of good healthcare in these rural areas.
I had seen this recipe for cinnamon scones almost a year ago and hunted down some cinnamon chips shortly after; but then never actually made these. Then randomly, I saw 2 of my favorite bloggers post scone recipes within days of each other, and I took it as a sign. Scones were clearly the answer of what to bring for my last day of my last rural health rotation! I ended up going with the original recipe I found, because I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand, and I liked that I didn’t have to buy a lot of heavy whipping cream or buttermilk. You can certainly use the method I used in the lemon blueberry scones, and freeze these unbaked, and then bake from a frozen state whenever a morning treat is calling. I am confident they would turn out wonderfully, as cold butter is one of the key ingredients to good scones. I’m certainly glad I had some wonderful staff members to share these with because free time + baked goods is not a good combination around here :-).
Cinnamon Chip Scones
- Makes 16-24 scones
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 whole Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Cinnamon Chips
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Heavy Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Unless you chose to freeze and bake later*)
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, granulated and brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or 2 knifes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.
3) Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour/butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.
4) Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Divide the dough into 2-3 equal portions. Gently press together the sides as you roll the top of each. Form either into either 2 large circles (to make 16 scones) or 3 medium circles (to make 24 smaller scones).
5) Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.
6) Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Serve with coffee.
*If freezing, flash freeze for 20 minutes, then wrap individually and store in freezer. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
I know this is another non-traditional post, but what can I say, my life has been a little non-traditional lately! Since our schedules have been laid back, with no major exams looming over our heads, John and I made a goal to see all of the Oscar nominees for best picture before the big event. (We love movies, and $5 movie night on Tuesdays is hard to pass up!) We got to 89% of our goal – seeing all but Amour before the awards began. Amour was a hard movie to track down, especially in a small place like Toledo, OH. I was kind of bummed about not batting a thousand; but after seeing how depressing it looked, I’m kind of glad that’s the one we missed. To honor our movie loving nature, and to have some extra fun on a Sunday night, we decided to have an Oscar’s Party – which I’m hoping is something we can make an annual event! I had a ton of fun planning the food, decorations, and watching the winners announced with my own ballot made it quite a nail biting experience! I would like to take credit for the decorations, but truthfully, when my mom heard about the party she sent me home with a box of ideas, and then a few days later I got a “red carpet” in the mail ;-).
My personal favorite was this centerpiece that included miniature movie posters for all 9 of the best picture nominees. I simply went onto ABC’s website and printed the pictures of each nominee on photo paper, as well as the Oscars logo.
Then of course there was the star of the show – The Oscars themselves. John can take complete credit for turning these mermaids from the dollar store into masterpieces. I’m quite sure you could buy some imitation Academy awards, but this was much more fun, and I’m sure less expensive. These also served as first, second and third place prizes for the winners. The mermaids were $1 each, and then we also bought some mini frisbees to serve as the bases. John pulled the hair off of them, tied their hands together (creepy, but necessary), and then hot glued the whole thing in place. He put 3 coats of a Rust-Oleum Metallic Brass Spray paint over the whole thing. In retrospect, you could see the glue much more than anticipated, but they still looked really awesome, and a lot funnier then store bought awards.
It’s amazing what a can of spray paint can do!
Then there was the red carpet, which was actually made of 3 red bath mats (found at Marc’s), taped together with some duct tape. We made sure to wash these before placing them on top of our carpet, since cheap bright red towels can bleed. Next time I really want to take pictures of people coming in on the carpet, but there is just so much going on at the start of a party.
I wanted to keep the menu classy (this is a red carpet affair after all), but also reasonable in price and manual labor. Appetizers for a big group can be very time intensive, so I tried to limit the number of things that had to be individually assembled. If you have questions about any specifics, feel free to ask.
- Tortellini with a creamy lemon and roasted garlic dipping sauce
- Crostini with goat cheese and roasted red peppers
- Spinach and artichoke dip with pumpernickel and crostini
- Mini phyllo cups filled with seafood salad
- Bacon wrapped pineapple and water chestnuts
- Assorted Cheeses
- Salami with crudites
- Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
A few of the appetizers sitting out, and some serious ballot decisions in the background :-).
With last minute prep, welcoming people, and trying to have fun, I didn’t get to take any close up pictures of the appetizers in order to post recipes. I figured I’d just post about the party in general, because it would gives me something to improve upon for next time, and it’s a good way to remember where to start. Since I made the cupcakes especially for a friend’s birthday, I do have some pictures of those, which I will be posting, along with the recipe about shortly! Stay Tuned!
I know, it’s been a while since my last post….but I’m hoping these pictures will make up for it! Between traveling to 10 different cities for interviews and taking a family trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, it has been a very busy last 2 months- but I have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it :-)!
We all happened to have several weeks off at Christmas, and since the holidays can be kind of a hard time, it seemed like the perfect time to take a big family trip together. Africa was somewhere we all happened to agree on- and I’ll have to say it was the coolest place I’d ever been. Big shout out to my mom who treated us all to the trip of a lifetime… She is probably one of the most adventurous 60 year olds I know.
One of my favorite pictures: Zebra, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and Flamingos in the background in Ngorongoro crater.
We saw lions mating….
A mamma monkey holding her baby tight.
Water buffalo, and heards and heards of wildebeast and zebras during their great migration.
In addition to the thousands of animals we saw, we also got the opportunity to go into the towns and meet some of the locals. This is a Masai boy, who is sent away from the rest of the tribe for several months after being circumcised at the age of 15.
We were able to travel the coast in California for a few days, and it’s safe to say I’m in love. I’m not really a big city girl, but you can’t really argue with 75 degree sunny days in the middle of January.
And then my favorite part, we headed to Santa Barbara. Probably my new favorite place in the United States. I’d been there once before when we convinced our parents we needed to look at California colleges :-), but this time I was really able to take it all in.
Had some wonderful meals, and some pinkberry ice cream, and of course watched the sunset.
It was kind of hard to come back to the snow at DTW, but here’s to hoping Santa Barbara is hiring some docs in 5-6 years :-)! I’m living the good life of a fourth year from here on out, so I’ll be back with some great recipes soon! If you have any questions about going on a safari, feel free to contact me!
As much as I love an interesting dessert, or a buttery breakfast baked good, usually when I am scouring the internet for recipes, I am looking for dinner. After all, it is technically possible to go a day without dessert (well not for me, but for some people); but most everyone would agree that at least one meal is a necessity. So while classic chili might not be the most exciting thing ever posted here, I can say that this is a tried and true recipe that will keep you warm on a wintery night. This is a real crowd pleaser, and my mom even requested that we make it as her birthday meal. Personally, I would’ve gone with the Lobster and Corn Chowder, but I guess that’s why it’s her birthday ;-).
For the longest time I only liked turkey chili, but I’ve found that extra lean beef actually has the same amount of fat as turkey, with the added benefits of a healthy dose of iron and a lot more flavor. Be careful though, because using anything less than 90/10 will give you that greasy chili that I personally think is gross. (I prefer my fats disguised in baked goods, not floating on top of my soup). This chili is not particularly spicy, but can easily be toned down or up with the addition of extra jalepenos or crushed red pepper. Similar to the Cincinnati Chili, this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which really adds a dimension of flavor so don’t leave it out.
Classic Beef and Bean Chili
Makes 8 servings
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 cups beer (or water)
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-oz can chili beans, in sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Crushed red pepper, if desired
- Shredded cheddar, green onions, additional jalapeños and corn chips for topping
Brown the beef in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Drain off fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and beer (or water) and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.
While the beef mixture is cooking, place one can of beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the remaining two cans of beans, along with the mashed beans, into the chili and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cilantro and chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with desired toppings.
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion
After 5 straights days of early wake-ups to cold, dreary rain, sleeping in on a Saturday and enjoying breakfast sounded like a much better idea then running. Back in Toledo, when the weather gets bad I tend to hit up the treadmill at our apartment complex, but on my last away rotation, it just seemed like a waste to brace the weather to drive to the gym, just so I can run in place. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised that my runs in the cold rain have been pretty enjoyable, it’s just much harder to take that first step out the door on a Saturday morning. In fact, I’ve now made it my goal to run outside all winter this year. So in comes this amazing french toast, that can be made the night before and ready within 30 minutes of waking up on a sleepy Saturday.
This is really the perfect meal for company because to make a double batch would be no extra trouble. It certainly beats sitting over the stove and flipping pancake after pancake while the finished ones sit in the oven getting soggy. Besides, I have always preferred French toast to pancakes, which likely stems from my childhood (okay..and high school..and college) obsession with all things French. This dish is really wonderful enough to eat on its own, with out added syrup or butter, which is something I would rarely say about pancakes. We served it with some turkey sausage, and it made for such a cozy warm Saturday morning. And thanks to some help from lululemon (my unfortunate new obsession), I still had a good run in the rain later that day.
Baked French Toast
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 loaf (about 1 pound) brioche or challah, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk (at least 2%)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- sprinkling of ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar or fresh fruit for serving, optional
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and nutmeg and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
I know you might be thinking that this post is about 9 days too late, but I figured I’d post my Thanksgiving turkey, because you still have plenty of time to plan a turkey for Christmas! I mean really….turkey only one day per year is clearly not enough. Especially when the turkey is this good.
This Thanksgiving we had a fairly small family gathering, especially compared to the 24 people my Aunt Mary managed to get around one amazing table last year! It’s been a hard year for us and today is especially difficult. I can’t believe it was just a year ago that my family showed up at my apartment to break the news that my father had passed away. That’s a day I will never forget. I just remember seeing Max fly through the door, leash trailing behind him with no owner attached, and before my mom even got to the door, I knew he was gone. As hard as this year has been, it’s also been a lesson in how resilient the human spirit is. At first I had no idea how I would even make it to the next day, let alone the rest of medical school. But here I am a whole year later, with an adorable puppy, an awesome husband, and only 6 months of medical school left! If you have had the misfortune of losing someone you loved recently, let me just promise you that it will get easier. And seriously, I really think some turkey for comfort food could really help. I’m sure my dad would’ve preferred these snowball cookies, but don’t worry, I already made a batch in his honor.
This turkey is a little bit involved, but it is by far the most moist, tender and delicious turkey you will ever eat. I used to be disappointed by the fact that turkey would take up space on my plate in lieu of more sides- but this turkey is really the star of the meal. First you throw all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil. Then you have to let it cool, which unfortunately always takes longer than I think it will.
Houston wouldn’t let this turkey out of his sight. I’ve never seen him like this before…he obviously knew this turkey was special. I think this is his “Is that for me? Awww please mom….” face.
Then you have to pour the cooled brine, along with ice cubes and cold water over the turkey. The trickest part about this is finding a container that will allow the turkey to be totally covered. In fact, I ended up taking it out of the container pictured here and putting it in a GIANT stock pot. Last year I used a gray “sterelite” container I found at Walmart that was perfect – but it was at my apartment. I’ve also heard of people using new and throughly cleaned 5 gallon paint buckets from Lowe’s/Home depot. Just remember you need to keep this container cold, so if it’s 60 degrees on Thanksgiving like it was in Ohio this year, putting it in the garage will not cut it.
After the turkey has soaked in a cold place for 12-24 hours, take it out, rinse it it in cool water and set it in a pan. In case you didn’t know, that’s me with the awkward smile on my face. There’s some sage butter in the white bowl in front of me, which you spread under the skin in as many places as you can. Then you take a delicious mixture of chicken broth, butter and garlic, and inject it all over the turkey meat. This part is pretty fun. Between injecting the meat, and suturing the cavity closed with 2-0 vicryl, I was feeling like a real surgeon by the end of the day :-).
Then stuff the turkey according to your liking. This year we used my Grandma’s traditional (and amazing) stuffing, but last year I just put some onion, apple and celery in the cavity – both worked great. Then put the turkey in a “Turkey Bag” and cook according to the directions on the box – ours took about 3 hours. (I know that turkey bags might not seem very gourmet, but I promise they make the most moist turkeys!).
Then of course let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting to let the juices redistribute. True comfort food. Why don’t we make turkey like 10 times per year! I’ve included all the specifics below. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and just remember all through this season (and always) to tell the people how much they mean to you. You will never regret saying I love you just one last time.
The Perfect Turkey
- large container that will hold turkey plus 2 gallons of liquid
- oven safe thermometer
- Flavor injector/syringe
- Turkey roasting bag
- heavy duty roasting pan
- 1 turkey, 12 – 16 pounds
- 1 gallon (16 cups) chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme*
- 1 large sprig fresh sage*
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary*
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 8 cups cold water
- 8 cups ice
*the poultry blend of fresh herbs should contain these 3
- 3/4 c. salted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 c. chicken broth
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Traditional Bread stuffing OR
- 1 apple (chopped in half), 1-2 small onions (chopped in half), 4 celery stalks (cut into thirds)
About a week before you begin brining your turkey, place it in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, purchase a fresh turkey. (I have done both and I don’t actually think it makes a significant difference in the final product).
The day before you roast your turkey, combine the chicken broth and the remaining brine ingredients (through the parsley) in a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, which will take over an hour.
Remove the packaging from the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets (be sure to check both the body and neck cavities) and reserve for gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey in cool water and then place it in the appropriate container. Add the cold water and the ice cubes, then add the brine mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with the lid and then place in a cold place for up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to roast your turkey, preheat the oven according to the directions on the roasting bag packaging. Soften 1 stick of butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon fresh sage and set aside. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it in cool water, and place in the roasting pan. Use your hands to loosen the skin between over the breast. Spread handfuls of the sage butter between the breast and the skin, rubbing any excess over the outside of the skin.
In a blender, combine 1/2 c. chicken broth, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Let sit for at least 20 minutes, then strain out garlic to make it easier to draw up. Use the flavor injector to inject the mixture all over the turkey.
Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs under the skin.
Stuff the turkey cavity with bread stuffing or a mixture of apple, onion, and celery. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast and then place the turkey into the roasting bag and roast until the thermometer registers 165 according to the roasting bag directions. When you’ve reached 165, remove the turkey from the oven and cut the bag away from the turkey. Allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey juice.
Being on away rotations, I haven’t been up to my usual menu planning and weeknight meal routine. Between applications, scheduling interviews, and overall crazy hours, I haven’t missed it too much, but I’m not sure I can say the same for John (who has been eating chez chef Boyardee). But to make up for it, I was able to rationalize this fancy weekend meal. (It also didn’t hurt that Mom was buying :-)). After apple picking, running and hiking in the park, this chowder was the perfect end to a fall themed day. It is really one for the record books. It will make you feel like you on dining on the set of barefoot contessa and it would be the perfect fall meal for company, or if you just feel like indulging yourself.
This was my first time ever cooking with lobster, and I don’t pretend to know much about it. I did learn that it is very easy to overcook it, and for such an expensive meat, that is really something you don’t want to do. So err on the side of undercooked, because it will inevitably cook a bit more once you add it to the stew. Also, while this soup still tasted wonderful the next day, I did notice that there was a bit of color separation, which didn’t make for the most gorgeous photograph. If you want to see what it looked like the first night, check out this blog. Despite the work, and the amount of cream (once in a while..) this is definitely something I will be making again. In fact, it almost makes me wish I actually lived in New England, which is saying a lot for a girl who hates the cold :-).
Lobster Corn Chowder
- 3 (1 1/2lb) cooked lobsters
- 3 ears of corn
For the stock:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups milk (skim works fine)
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 cup dry white wine
For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
- 2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 cup sherry
- Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.
- For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon
I cannot believe it is already fall. Seriously…Where did summer go? It was especially shocking this year because I was in South Carolina, and when I came back – BAM – cold, rainy weather. I have never been one of those people who looks forward to fall. Being someone who loves to be outside, I just find it much more enjoyable when the weather is warm. Sure it’s sometimes nice to curl up with a blanket on a cold night, but there are more than enough months for that here in Ohio. The one redeeming factor of fall is the promise of fall foods (well that and having an excuse to buy new boots). Actually these pumpkin muffins alone might actually be reason enough to look forward to the season.
I made these several times last year but they always went so fast I never had a chance to snap a picture. When I needed something to take into clinic for a “luncheon” we had planned, I was thrilled to make these again; both because I love them and because I knew I’d finally be able to share them with you all. Someone described them as a pumpkin roll in muffin form, and I’d have to say this is spot on, but these muffins might even be better because they have a streusel topping. Since I tend to be a late night baker, on more then one occasion I have started mixing only to remember that the cream cheese needs to freeze for a full 2 hours before you can bake with it. I tried it once without letting the cream cheese harden, and as soon at the cream cheese gets hot, it bubbles up right through the top of the muffin and spills onto the pan. Wasting cream cheese filling is pretty much an immortal sin, so plan ahead and mix up some cream cheese to put in the freezer right now. Then bring these muffins anywhere and you will become popular (but unfortunately they will not help you remember the bones in the hand.)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Makes 20-24 muffins
For the filling:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
For the muffins:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1¼ cups vegetable oil
For the topping:
- ½ cup sugar
- 5 tbsp. flour
- 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.
Source: Annie’s Eats
So I finally downloaded my camera card, and realized I have way too many things I haven’t shared yet! But I decided to start with birthday cake, well because who doesn’t love birthday cake?! It has become somewhat of a tradition around here that I make my own birthday cake and then have friends over to share in eating it. Now there are those people who think that you shouldn’t have to bake on your birthday – but I would assume those are people who don’t like baking as much as I do. Really there is no other opportunity to make exactly the kind of birthday cake you’d like from start to finish, and I like to take advantage of that. Now this year I went overboard (and for me to say that is really saying something!). I decided to make a completely separate recipe of overly complicated cupcakes in addition to this three layer cake, and truthfully by the end of the day, I was starting to wonder if I’d get it all done before my birthday was over. Thankfully, John helped out a lot, but for my future reference and yours: this cake is plently on it’s own – both in terms of amount of cake and work.
First you start with a rich, moist dark chocolate cake. To really get the dark chocolate effect you should invest in some dutch processed (or dark) cocoa powder. I made the layers a day ahead, but I would guess you could even make them several days in advance and store in the fridge because they are so moist. Then you create a salted caramel, which will flavor the swiss meringue buttercream filling. Personally, I’m still kind of on the fence about swiss meringue buttercream, but I thought it worked well in this recipe because it’s not overly sweet like traditional buttercream. It also happens to be very stable, and so is able to adequately support the layers of this cake. Finally, you top it all with a dark chocolate ganache frosting and some decorative fleur-de-sel.
Although it would be really hard to top the malted chocolate and marshmallow cake of last year, this cake came close. Since I’m partial to six layer cakes, I think if I made this again that I would cut each layer in half, and then fill the additional layers with a small amount of plain salted caramel. (Simply double the recipe for caramel below.) Compared to the cupcakes I made, the caramel flavor was fairly subtle in this cake, and I think that would help to make it stronger. And if you want to save yourself some time, a traditional carmael buttercream like the one used here, would also work for the layers. This cake was quite rich, and so I decided to freeze some to take home for a second birthday celebration, and I can also say that it freezes wonderfully! Since my brother and I were born on the same day (5 years apart) we always try to get together for a fun birthday celebration – we kept it fun this year with an inflatable cake, and of course an entire table filled with desserts :-)!
Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cake
- Makes a 3 layer cake with 8-inch rounds (Serves ~16)
For the cake:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. brewed coffee
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
For the frosting:
12 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup very hot water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
Fleur de sel, for finishing
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour the edges of 3 8-inch baking pans, shaking out the excess. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed to blend. Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator prior to assembly for 1-2 days.
To make the caramel buttercream filling, place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color (test a drop on a white plate or bowl if necessary), watching it carefully to avoid burning. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt. Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 150-160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!) Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the frosting, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted and cooled chocolate until well incorporated. Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.
To assemble the cake, level the cake layers to get a more stable and cylindrical cake. Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Top with half of the caramel buttercream and smooth in a thick, even layer. Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that. Place the final cake layer on top. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel.
When the heat index in Ohio reaches 110°, there are very few things that sound good for dinner. In fact if I didn’t love eating so much, I’m fairly sure I could sit by the pool, sip on lemonade, eat a popsicle and call it a meal. But inevitably, as soon as I come back into the air conditioning, I am famished. The last time this post-sun hunger hit, I made the mistake of attempting to eat a full fat burger with a side of fries and a cake vodka milkshake in a restaurant that had to be 90º inside. (What were we thinking?!?!) Instead of making that mistake again, I think I will have this salad planned ahead. It’s the perfect summer meal – light, healthy, fruity, filling and of course colorful.
I’m not usually one to think that salads require a recipe, but I think that’s because I often times think of “salad” as a bag of lettuce tossed with bottled dressing. Granted, this is a little more work, but this salad is actually something I would order from a restaurant as a meal (and I’m not real big on salads for dinner). I’m also not a big fan of plain chicken breasts, but the citrus marinade really elevates them to a tender and succulent piece of meat. In fact, the lightly flavored and grilled chicken is probably my second favorite part of this meal. Second only to the abundance of colors you get to eat of course. So the next time you go to the pool (or ocean if you are so lucky), marinate the chicken in the fridge so you have an easy and delicious meal when the sun wears off.
Grilled Chicken Summer Salad with Sweet Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a main dish
- 1 large bunch Romaine Lettuce
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 red bell pepper, (or sweet baby peppers) sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 6-8 tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
- Toasted sesame seeds
- optional: diced fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 of a large navel orange)
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup canola oil
To prepare dressing, combine orange juice, vinegar, dry mustard, sugar, sesame oil, and salt in a 2 cup measuring cup. Wisk until sugar is disolved. While continuously whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil to make an emulsion. Place the chicken breasts in a ziploc bag and marinade with about 1/2 of the dressing, for a few hours or overnight. Place remaining dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
Grill Chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
To prepare salads, divide lettuce between 4 plates, top with grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and dried cherries or cranberries. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Slightly adapted from: Our Best Bites
Between pinterest, google reader, and an ever growing cookbook collection, I read a lot of recipes. Usually I file them away so that I can peruse my favorites when trying to plan a menu. But every once in a while a recipe is so memorable that it pops into your head a whole year later, while at the grocery store frantically trying to finalize the memorial day barbeque. This recipe would fall into that category.
Normally I wouldn’t think of apple pie as a traditional Fourth of July dessert, but a star spangled apple pie – well that’s entirely patriotic. It’s amazing what a few star cut outs can do for the “festive” level of a dessert. Served with ice cream, a possibly a slice of cheddar cheese, it’s perfect for summertime. And after all the saying does go, “As American as apple pie”.
The other thing I really liked about this recipe was how simple it was – most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. But since the crust is really the “star” in this pie, I think a homemade one is almost imperative. I had a little bit of trouble with overbrowning, so next time I make this I plan to tent some foil over the top to help even cooking. As you may know, I’m somewhat partial to sugar, but I truly did think that the sugar crystals elevated the crust from good to great, and would probably add even more when I make this for the next patriotic holiday.
Star Spangled Apple Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
- Pie Crust
- 6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
- Coarse sugar/Sugar sprinkles
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round. (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.) Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes in order to help the crust hold it’s shape while baking.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice. Toss well to combine. When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly. Place thin slices of cold butter over the apples. Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Cut out numerous star shapes and use these to cover the top of the pie, using as much of the dough as possible. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully and tent with foil for the 2nd half of baking if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
I can hardly believe it but Friday marks the end of my third year of medical school! I can remember at the beginning of this year wondering how I was ever going to make it- “working” at the hospital everyday on top of studying for standardized exams every five weeks, and trying to live a somewhat normal life on top of it. Then before I even had time to get really stressed out about it – it’s over! Not complaining one bit :-). I am finishing up the year with pediatrics, which quite to my surprise turned out to be one of my favorite rotations of the year. I have never been one of those people who thinks, “Awwwwwwwwww, little kids are sooooooooo cute.” In fact, I kind of grouped those people into the “lovers of unicorn and all things rainbow” that I just didn’t fit in with. However, in retrospect I realize that I had never really spent enough time with the little ones in order to make such a judgement. Little kids are pretty amazing little people, and they definitely do say the darndest things. And also, children’s hospitals = 1000x cooler than adult hospitals.
So in order to commemorate the end of another very good rotation, I decided to make coffee cake for the office to enjoy. I wanted something summery yet decadent and something that would work equally well for both breakfast and dessert. I think this cake hit the nail on the head. The lemon in the batter gives it a fresh appeal, and the streusel topping makes it a crumbly delight. I really thought this cake was over the top good – and based on the number of people at the office that asked for the recipe, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. The only thing I might change for the future is to make individual serving sizes. I think it would work well in a muffin tin – just make sure you equally distribute the amazing streusel, otherwise you might cause some fights (at least when there are little kiddos involved).
Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
For the Streusel:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Cake:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the Streusel: Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter, then flour and mix well.
For the Cake: In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until light. Reduce speed to low to add the eggs, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to evenly mix in berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a knife to level the top. With your fingers, crumble all the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Barely Adapated from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)
Apparently there are some people in this world who don’t like fruit with their fish. Thankfully, I don’t know any of them. If you happen to be a fruit with fish hater (tear), perhaps this recipe will convert you. Especially with summer “officially” here, this is a refreshing dinner that is easy to throw together after a day at the pool, and won’t ruin your waistline for the rest of bikini season. I was somewhat hesitant about the sauce, since it’s fruit combined with garlic, onion and mustard powder – but I figured anything originally from The Neely’s would be hard to ruin. Somehow the flavors just seem to work, and created an interesting twist on a simple salmon recipe.
I personally like to keep the skin on the salmon it because it keeps it in one piece while grilling and adds moisture to the filet, but you could also grill up a fish filet as long as you throughly oil the grate. While the sauce is mostly “hands off”, it does need about 30 minutes total of simmer time – which I kind of enjoy because it gives you a chance to shower from the pool, pick up the house, or just relax with a glass of wine on the patio. Unfortunately my brother won’t be bringing any Copper River salmon back from Alaska this year, but if your pocketbook can afford it, it’s in season now!
Grilled Blueberry BBQ Salmon
Serves 2-4 depending on amount of salmon used
- ¾ - 1 ½ pounds salmon filet, with skin on
- Salt and Pepper
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add blueberries. Heat for about 10 minutes, then mash with a fork. Add in ketchup, both vinegars, brown sugar, onion and garlic powder, ground mustard and worcestershire sauce. Whisk well to combine and break up blueberries and turn the heat up to medium. Heat until simmering and bubbles appear, then turn heat back down to low. Cook for an additional 20 minutes, whisking every few minutes. Sauce will be thicker than a normal barbecue sauce.
Preheat your grill to it’s highest setting and spray grate with oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and once the grill is hot, lay skin side up directly on grate. Cook for 5 minutes, then gently flip so that skin side is down. Using a pastry brush, brush BBQ sauce on salmon and let cook until flaky and opaque, about 5-6 more minutes. Adjust time as needed for thicker/thinner salmon (mine was about 1 1/2 inches with skin.)
Source: How Sweet It Is
The fact that this particular recipe caused me to emerge from my blog hibernation should tell you that it must be something special. I made it one night for dinner and literally could not wait to make it again so that I could share it with you. In fact I was so excited about it that when I went home this past weekend, I insisted on making this for my mom and brother so that we could have the mutual experience of this pizza to rave about for the rest of the summer. Kind of like when something really funny happens but there is no one around to laugh with you, this pizza is best as a shared life experience.
I could tell that my mom was extremely skeptical of this unusual combination, and I can’t really blame her. If I hadn’t already made the pizza myself, I may have caved under the funny looks I received when I told her that sirachi was combine with balsamic vinegar and strawberry preserves to make the sauce. Luckily, I was confident in the fact that everyone would love this pizza, and went ahead with my plans. It did not disappoint. The balsamic vinegar and siracha make this just savory enough to call it dinner, and the strawberries and cilantro keep it fresh enough to make it feel like summer. My brother said that he had never had such a refreshing pizza. And since the dog got the last two pieces of this off the counter – apparently animals like it too. As strawberries are coming into season, make this, pair it with a strawberry Abita, and hope for some more 80 degree sunny days in May – it doesn’t get much better.
Stawberry Balsamic Chicken and Bacon Pizza
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves or jam
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
- 1 ball prepared pizza dough
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- ~1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shaved
- 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz finely shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cut strawberries, diced
Place the pizza stone in the lower middle of the oven and preheat to 500°F.
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to half and mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the strawberry preserves and chili sauce. Mix well; set aside to cool.
Roll out the pizza dough to a 12 or 14-inch circle. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.
Spread the cooled strawberry sauce over the pizza top with chicken, bacon, sweet onion, mozarella and parmesean cheese, and 1/2 of the cilantro and 1/2 of the strawberries.
Transfer the pizza with the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with the remaining fresh strawberries and cilantro. Serve hot.