Looking on a the positive side of things, I will have to say that one of the best things in the past month has been able to see a lot of my mom and brother – 2 of the most special people in this world. I know my mom thinks she’s imposing, but I seriously love it when they are here. It basically makes it feel like a vacation, because usually when we are all together – it is a vacation. Of course having “house guests” also makes me like a grown up, which is really just like ”playing house”- with a slightly more sophisticated (and dangerous) fisher price set. Because I really wanted to impress them with my domestic skills, I carefully planned a few things to make when they came. One of them was an old favorite, stuffed green pepper soup, and the other was this Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m pretty sure they will be coming back again soon .
My mom, who claims to not really like curry, couldn’t stop raving about how deep the flavors are in this dish, and my brother stated that it was the best chicken tikka masala he had ever had (even better than some posh Asheville Indian restaurant he loves). I purposely waited a while to post this, because I wanted to see how the leftovers would be after freezing them for a while – and I can now safely say that they are still delicious. I froze the chicken, then thawed it and reheated it, adding just a little bit more milk and John and I still loved it! I would recommend making the whole batch, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it all, because the frozen leftovers really are convenient.
Please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long ingredient list, it is actually a really simple dinner and there is very little prep work. I chose to brown the meat first because it tends to add a depth of flavor, but if you don’t want to dirty another pan feel free to simply put all the ingredients in the crockpot without pre-browning. I was also really excited to finally use the Garam Masala I had bought way back when from Penzey’s. If you don’t have a Penzey’s nearby, I noticed when I was home at Christmas that even local grocery stores carry this spice. Having never used it before, I was a little worried about using a full 3 tablespoons of it. But never fear – it’s not nearly as strong as you might think and the dish was seasoned perfectly. My last pre-recipe suggestion would be to adjust the cream in this recipe for your liking. The original called for 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream. That seemed like an awful lot, so I dialed it down and added some more greek yogurt at the end. Feel free to play with it a bit to get it the creaminess you would like.
Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala
For the Chicken:
- 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With a fork
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
- 4 cups canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (depending on preference)
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- White Rice
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1) Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken. Stir in yogurt to evenly coat the chicken. Cover and let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and brown about 1/2 of the chicken. . Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished. Then repeat with 1 more tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
3) To make the sauce return pan to medium and 3 T. of butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and stir. Cook until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently.
4) Add the 3 T. of garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (30 seconds), then raise heat to high and add crushed tomatoes and sugar. Scrap the bottom of the pan as you stir and bring to a boil. Then pour over chicken in slow cooker.
5) Cook chicken on low for 5 hours.
6) Mix heavy cream and greek yogurt into mixture, adding cream until you get your desired color. Heat for 1o minutes more.
7) Serve over rice and top with a generous amount of cilantro (it really adds a lot)
Pretty much every type of salad that I like is some variant of spinach, fruit, good cheese and nuts. For as long as I can remember my Mom has been making a spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and salted pecans, and for a Mom who loves decorating the table but isn’t so big on the actual food – this salad was quite a delectable creation. I have made that salad countless times, and it’s still my go to, but in the interest of changing it up ever so slightly, I decided to try this recipe, and guess what, I loved it! In fact it holds the title as the first salad a certain “salad hater” has ever eaten, and liked (no…it’s not John but another picky husband who doesn’t like vegetables ).
I think what I really liked about this is that it includes an easy, throw together recipe for a really good dressing. So much of the time I go to the trouble of toasting nuts, chopping fruit, buying spinach, and then covering it all with some bottled dressing because making homemade just seemed like too much work. This dressing is super easy, and really complements the flavors of the salad well. Also, I think I like this salad because I love an excuse to eat my new favorite apples, ’Honeycrisp”. (Which, ironically recently had a sign aat the grocery store that said “Everyone’s New Favorite” – good to know I’m not alone). But if you can’t find Honeycrisp, I think Fiji or Granny Smith would work equally well.
Harvest Apple Salad with Buttered Almonds
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
- 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
- Pinch of paprika
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almonds:
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp. sugar
For the salad:
6-8 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4-6 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
To make the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients except olive oil in a measuring cup. Then slowly add the olive oil whisking vigorously to combine.
To make the buttered almonds, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and cook just until melted and well incorporated. Set aside to cool.
Place spinach in a large salad bowl or on individual salad plates. Top with apple slices, gorgonzola, and the buttered almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. Leftovers are good for up to a day, as fresh spinach does not wilt as quickly as other types of lettuce.
Ah. Real Food. This is what January was meant to be. Not including the peanut M&Ms (which I mistakenly bought a XXL bag of because I was hungry at Costco….never a good thing) the food around here has most definitely taken a turn for the more wholesome. I can’t really promise that this will last long, but while I’m craving healthy food, I might as well take advantage. There is nothing quite like a warm, hearty, filling and yet healthy stew to warm up with on chilly January evening. Or considering the 40-50 degree days we have been having I should probably say, “On a abnormally warm, almost balmy January evening in Ohio”, but it just doesn’t have the same ring. Global warming is seriously ruining seasonal eating.
No matter what the weather, I could probably eat this stew. Well I might be lying slightly. I wouldn’t eat it in the summer. That would be like some kind of sin- hot stew in the summer? But anytime September through April would be fine if you are lucky enough to live in a place like tropical Toledo. (Can you sense my bitterness at winter – and this is even after I got an automatic car starter for Christmas!). But in all seriousness, the first time I made this stew was back in Louisiana, where the humidity never drops below 100% – and it was still good. It’s the kind of stew that feels well balanced because you get vegetables, grain, and protein all in one place. I really love the addition of barley because it makes this stew seem extra hearty and yet also somewhat gourmet.
One caution is that the barley continues to absorb water after cooking. When you go to get leftovers the next day you may find that all the liquid is gone and the barley has doubled in size – but never fear – just add a bit more water, and reheat. If you are trying to make this in advance, or if you’d like to freeze it, I would probably make it without the barley, and then just add the barley when reheating it.
Beef and Barley Stew
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped leaks (about 3 leeks including green stems)
- 2 ½ cups sliced carrot
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 – 14 oz cans beef broth
- 1 cup uncooked medium pearled barley
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Return beef to pan. Add all ingredients EXCEPT barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, or longer if desired. Add barley; cook 30 minutes or until beef and barley are tender. Discard bay leaves.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Well it’s time for new years resolutions. I wish I could say that I’m going to post all healthy recipes this coming year, and that it’s going to make you super skinny. I have learned from too many new years resolutions that I like eating twizzlers, baking cookies, and scooping ice cream far too much to swear it off for the year. I will however try to just generally post a larger variety of foods on this blog. If you have any requests, please let me know and I will do my best to post what you’d like to make!
This particular recipe comes to you from our New Years Eve celebration. It got some rave reviews from the whole family. It also makes great leftovers (in fact this picture was taken 3 days later). While it’s not quite as easy as the French Apricot Chicken, it is another one of the crock-pot meals that you just add the ingredients and walk away. As indicated below it serves 6-8 people, but for New Years I doubled the recipe and added an hour to the cooking time (total of 9 hours) and it turned out great. What I really liked about this recipe is that it’s not at all dry like some shredded pork can be. It is saucy, and I’m pretty sure just the marinade over rice would taste good on it’s own. It also goes great served with a big salad with mandarin oranges and sesame ginger dressing. So if your sick of eating cookies (which I EVEN AM!), this is a hearty, delicious and protein filled alternative for ringing in the New Year.
Slow Cooker Pork Char Siu
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed*
- 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
*Ask your butcher to cut off as much fat as possible to save you some time.
Combine first 8 ingredients (soy sauce through five spice powder) in a bowl and whisk. Place pork roast in a plastic bag and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours flipping occasionally. *I left it at room temperature for 45 minutes to save time, and because my pork roast was large and very cold.
Place contents of bag in a crock pot and add 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork and serve with remaining sauce in crockpot. Serve shredded pork and sauce over rice.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Wishing you and your families a wonderful new year!
The models are doing the exact same thing in both pictures- writing 2012. You just need to make sure your flash is turned off and you have a long shutter speed to capture all the movement in one frame. I’m pretty sure we’ve found a new new years tradition! Hope you all had a wonderful new years eve!
Based on my experience thus far in life, I can firmly say that you can never go wrong with pumpkin flavored anything and cream cheese frosting. I made a different version of these cupcakes last year, and there are a few things I liked about each recipe. Last year’s recipe was ridiculously moist, but almost to the point where the cupcakes stuck to the wrapper and couldn’t support the weight of the frosting when you went to take a bite. I liked this new recipe because the cupcakes are a little bit sturdier, and you don’t have to use part of a box of cake mix (what does one do with a left over 2/3 cup of cake mix? ). Plus, when I’m going to the trouble of making cupcakes from scratch I really prefer ones made with unique ingredients that wouldn’t be part of a box mix – like butter instead of oil and buttermilk for some extra moisture. I used to think that recipes that called for buttermilk were a bit annoying because you generally have to buy a whole quart, but I’ve found it lasts a lot longer than milk (like over a month) and I’ve found several other things to do with it in that time – like John’s birthday cake, ranch dressing, and then these cupcakes. But as I said before, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin and cream cheese so if your so inclined, try both recipes!
I actually made these for the children’s Halloween party that our medical school hosts every year. Now technically this party if for children with diabetes, and while you might think cupcakes wouldn’t be the best idea, the point of the party was to help the children learn how to balance their carbohydrates with their insulin. (And it is really hard to find low carbohydrate halloween desserts). So I made a double batch of these cupcakes, and calculated that each cupcake with frosting has 35 grams of carbohydrate. I got about 40 cupcakes from the double batch, and saved a few to take with us to Cincinnati for my now living in Ohio brother and sister -in-law. These went so fast that I’m pretty sure my father-in-law thought he wasn’t going to get one. Apparently they were also a big hit at the halloween party – but really what kid can resist sprinkles?
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 20-24 cupcakes with piped frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 c brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Icing:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 stick butter (softened)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 oz powdered sugar (about 3 cups), sifted
To Make the Cupcakes:
Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla until fully incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.
Turn the stand mixer on to the lowest setting and alternately add the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixtures to the creamed butter. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the pans, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool enough to handle and then move to a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers until frosted. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.
To Make the Icing:
Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together on high speed. Add the powdered sugar, a small amount at a time and blend until smooth and creamy. To ice the cupcakes using a pastry bag, chill icing in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes in order to harden the icing enough to frost. Alternatively, frosting can be added immediately to cooled cupcakes using an offset spatula.
Icing inspired Ina Garten
For as long as I can remember, I have loved making from scratch birthday cakes. One of the first ones that comes to mind is a chocolate hazelnut birthday cake for my brother’s (and my) birthday. Unfortunately, I somehow measured the wrong amount of hazelnuts in that cake, and it pretty much ruined Nutella for me for at least 5 years (don’t worry, I’ve now come to my senses). There were other times in college, where cooking in a small dorm kitchen that literally had no cooking utensils seemed like a great idea. There was freshman year, where I figured I had nothing better to do than to make a 3 layer meringue cake with whipped cream and fruit. There were several $50 german chocolate cakes, since they required buying not only the ingredients, but also pans, bowls and something to stir with. There were multiple coffee cheesecakes that served as birthday cakes, pies that served as birthday cakes and then of course the most recent Malted Chocolate and Marshmallow Six Layer Cake.
So last year, when John’s only wish for his birthday cake was boxed chocolate cake mix with simple whipped cream as the frosting, I was slightly appalled. I made the cake, I even ate a piece, and I was glad he liked it, but seriously - how boring! As his birthday approached this year, I was almost afraid to ask what kind of cake he might like, because I knew that no matter what I suggested, he would come back with the same chocolate cake with whipped cream. Then this cake popped into my mind, or rather popped up on my google reader. I had seen it earlier on Annie’s blog, but it was way back in January when I wasn’t thinking about October birthdays. I immediately knew that this would be the perfect birthday cake for John because it’s basically a dressed up of version of his favorite. The flavors are still simple, but the ganache adds just that oomph it needed to make it not only more delicious but also quite stunning. The strawberries are obviously optional, but they certainly add to the presentation. I sized down the original recipe because everyone mentioned how it was such a tall cake, and I felt a little guilty putting 4 cups of sugar in a cake (but of course, in my head, 3 was fine). I thought it came out perfectly with a slightly downsized recipe, and so that is the version I have included below. This cake is definitely a keeper and I’m really glad I was able to find something that both I enjoyed making and John enjoyed eating. Happy Birthday baby! I still love you no matter what kind of birthday cake you want !
Yield: 3- 9 inch layers
For the cake:
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the chocolate topping:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the baking soda, salt and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.
To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat!
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top. Top with a second cake layer, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using). Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.) Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.
Welp, it’s happened. The first recipe on the blog made almost entirely by John. I don’t mean to belittle his cooking talents, but I think the fact that I trusted him with making this dinner should tell you something about it’s complexity. I had set the ingredients (all 3 of them ) out on the counter the night before, and planned on throwing them in the crock pot before I left for school, but as I mentioned last time, normally I barely get 2 of the same shoes while I’m running out the door, let alone make dinner 8 hours early. Despite my best intentions, if I wake up a few minutes early, then I simply diddle-daddle around longer until I am once again rushed to leave. So John was nice enough to make this for me in the morning.
While this is certainly not a complicated or gourmet cooking dish, it is definitely something worth keeping in your recipe arsenal. Also, I should mention that there is really nothing “French” at all about this, other than the fact that it uses American’s version of “French Dressing”. Nevertheless, this dinner is delicious and I had trouble saving my second piece of chicken for lunch the next day. I found myself eating every last piece rice that the scrumptious sauce had touched. Plus, its so easy you really have no excuse not to make it – it’s 3 ingredients that you put into a pot. You can adjust the cooking time to fit your schedule so it’s ready when you get home. For example, Nikki mentioned that you could use 6 frozen chicken breasts and cook it on high for 4 hours and low for 2 hours, or use 4 fresh chicken breasts and cook it on high for 3 hours. Since I think one of the best things about crock pots is coming home to them being ready, I prefer to cook things for a longer period of time on low, which I have indicated below. I think next time I am going to at least 1.5 the recipe because this really made great lunch leftovers (especially when compared to the hospital cafeteria).
“French” Apricot Crock Pot Chicken
- Serves 4 (or 2 with great leftovers the next day)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup french dressing (I used Newman’s Own)
- 1 cup apricot jelly or preserves
- 1 packet onion soup mix
- salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for a minimum of 7 hours, but longer is fine. Serve over rice.
Source: Pennies on a Platter
You can really ask anyone who knows me – I’m not much of a breakfast person. It used to be the standing joke that John would go out to breakfast with our friend Amanda and order and entire platter of biscuits plus other breakfast monstrosities, while I would go on a 20 mile run. It’s not that I don’t love breakfast food, I just don’t like eating it in the morning. Sometimes I wish that people went out to brunch for dinner. I would most certainly order a plate full of pecan waffles, slather them with syrup and not feel guilty at all about eating what is basically a dessert and counting it as dinner. However, I just don’t like doing this for breakfast.
On any given weekday, I’m franticly trying to get out the door, half dressed and planning to put my makeup on at stoplights on my way to school. Breakfast is usually a granola bar I grab as I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. So the fact that I have eaten a warm breakfast everyday for the last 2 weeks must tell you that something is up. I don’t want to go so far as to say this oatmeal has changed my life, but after all they do say a good breakfast is the start to a good day and I have had a very good past 2 weeks.
This dish has taken the reigns as the best oatmeal I have ever eaten, and this is coming from someone who usually eats oatmeal all winter. It’s moist, flavorful and filled with fruit. The flavor of the toasted pecans really come through, so don’t try to save yourself a step by tossing them in un-toasted. It’s a well balanced meal and it keeps you full a lot longer than a granola bar. I think that perhaps the best thing about this oatmeal is that you can make a batch and easily reheat it for breakfast for the rest of the week. Since I have no desire to get up earlier than necessary to make myself food, I have made this on Sunday night the last 2 weeks and then reheated it throughout the week. I ate it 5 days later and it still tasted great. I plan on making this many more times as the weather gets colder, and I can’t wait to experiment with an apple or pumpkin flavor. I’ll be sure to share those with you as soon as I’ve got the recipe down !
Baked Oatmeal with Fruit
- Make a 1 & 1/2 quart casserole (4-6 servings)
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup pecans, light toasted then chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup milk (I used skim)
- 1 large egg
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup blueberries and/or raspberries
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 1 & 1/2 quart casserole with butter or cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl toss together oats, pecans, baking powder cinnamon and salt (dry ingredients).
3. In a small bowl whisk together the liquid ingredients reserving 1 T. of butter (maple syrup, milk, egg, 1 T. butter and vanilla).
4. Line the bottom of the baking dish wish sliced bananas. Then top with about 2/3 of the blueberries and/or raspberries.
5. Spread the oat mixture over the fruit. Drizzle the milk mixture over the oats, trying to distribute as evenly as possible.
6. Bake the oatmeal for 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining 1 T. of butter.
7. Dish can be served straight from the oven and topped with additional toppings if desired. (I didn’t find this necessary). Alternatively, this can be made, refrigerated and individual pieces can be reheated in the microwave for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.
I promised you that there would be more raspberry recipes to come, and I don’t lie. I made this as part of the dinner part I had with my family over labor day weekend, but the truth is we ate so much of it for dinner that I felt the need to make another pie the next day . I’m planning on making a 3rd one, likely today, that’s how much I love this pie.
Now to give you an idea of why this must be the best ever raspberry pie, you should know that I am not much of a fruit pie fan. I’m not one to turn down any dessert, but fruit pie would never be my first choice. This pie is an exception. I really think it is the best recipe ever created for raspberry pie. I have never met a person who didn’t love it, and my mom has been making it every year since I can remember. Now there are a few keys to this pie that make it so delicious. First of all it really does help if you use good quality raspberries. I’ve bought a few of the store bought variety this year and have been sorely disappointed. This could be because I bought them before they were truly in season, but still I think raspberries are best either hand-picked or bought from a farmers market. Second, it uses crème de cassis or blackberry liqueur. I know that it’s a pain to buy one bottle of liqueur that you only use for one recipe, but that bottle will last you through several years of raspberry pie making – so it’s totally worth the investment. And third, there is butter and lemon slices in the pie filling itself – how can you go wrong.
For a while I have tried to avoid the realization that homemade pie crust is about 7864 times better than store-bought, mostly because I have been trying to avoid the extra work that comes with making homemade pie crust. However, I have (somewhat remorsefully) come to my senses. Homemade pie crust is just so much better. Its flakier, it melts in your mouth and it doesn’t have artificial taste that hints through in store bought crust. Since I learned the trick about rolling the pie crust out between 2 pieces of parchment paper, it has become infinitely easier to make. I think it is totally worth the extra 10 minutes, but I won’t tell if you still want to use store-bought . I haven’t included a recipe for pie crust here because it seems that everyone has there own favorite. I used a recipe from the pioneer woman, but I can’t say I’ve tried enough to really say it is the best ever. And really, if you are trying to save time my mom has made this countless times with store bought pie crust and I have still loved it. I also would guess that you could easily make this into a blackberry pie but I have never tried this since I love raspberries. If you do, let me know how it turns out!
Best Ever Raspberry Pie
- Makes 1 standard 9 inch pie
- 5 cups raspberries (2 1/2 pints)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup Crème de Cassis or blackberry liqueur
- 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter sliced paper thin
- 3 paper thin slices of lemon (a mandoline would be best for this)
- Top and bottom layer of pie crust
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Toss raspberries and sugar gently together in mixing bowl.
- In a measuring cup, whisk liqueur and cornstarch together until smooth.
- Stir Cassis mixture, lemon juice and salt gently into berries.
- Line a standard 9 inch pie pan with crust. (Do not use a deep dish pie unless you significantly increase the number of berries) Spoon in the berries, and arrange lemon slices and butter over the berries.
- With the top pie crust layer, cut it into about ½ inch strips, preferably using a pastry cutter like this. Arrange over berries in a lattice pattern, alternating under-over. Crimp the edges of the pastry together. (This was the first pie we made)
- Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 425F for 15 minutes. *Then lower heat to 350F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
Last weekend, John and I came back to b-ville to spend time with my Mom and brother who just returned from Alaska. We didn’t have any big plans for the weekend, but we all usually try to get together for dinner with family. Luckily both my grandparents, my cousin Johnny and his girlfriend Val were able to make it over. Of course I think of this as a great excuse to make a fancy meal I wouldn’t normally make for just the 2 of us and to have 8 guinea pigs to try it. It happens to help that my brother returned from Alaska with over 12 pounds of halibut for me to put to use!
While it got kind of late in the evening to try to photograph the whole meal, this appetizer was one of the first things we enjoyed on Saturday (of course this came after my grandparent’s favorite – Manhattans). I have to admit I overdid it on the garlic in this recipe – you would’ve thought we were trying to keep vampires away. Sometimes more is not better, so I would recommend sticking to the 1-2 cloves of garlic indicated in the recipe. I think my favorite thing about this dish was the presentation. It looks like art but truthfully takes less than 10 minutes to put together. In order to save time (and because I mis-read the recipe ), I skipped the step in which you blanch the basil. It still turned out beautifully but if you want a truly stunning green color, blanching would be the way to go. I also left the basil leaves in the oil but for a smoother texture you can strain them out with a fine mesh sieve. Pulsing the basil in the food processor should’ve flavored the oil sufficiently that they are not necessary in the final dish.
Parmesean Encrusted Goat Cheese with Basil Oil
- Makes a 4 or 8 oz goat cheese ball depending on your preference
For the goat cheese:
1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko
Freshly ground pepper
4 -8 oz. semi-firm plain goat cheese
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp. coarse salt, plus more to taste
For the basil oil:
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. In the bowl of a food processor add the block of parmesan cheese and pulse until finely grated. Add the panko and pulse to combine. Season with pepper. Transfer mixture to a separate bowl and wipe out the bowl of the food processor.
2. With a fork, smash the garlic and salt together. Add garlic/salt to the goat cheese and sir to combine. Form the goat cheese into a ball and roll in the parmesean-panko mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. If blanching the basil: Bring a few cups of water to a boil. Add the basil leaves to the saucepan and boil for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Blot the basil leaves with a towel to remove all of the excess water.
4. Add basil and garlic to the food processor and pulse. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the food processor running add oil until texture is liquidly (you may need slightly more than 1/4 cup).
5. To serve, pour the bail oil onto a plate and top with goat cheese ball. Serve with baguette slices.
Source: Annie’s Eats
I know there are about 400 different recipes available for key lime pie. I have made my fair share of them, but it seems that I always go back to this recipe. It is not particularly traditional and it certainly takes some short cuts, but I think that’s why I like it. It’s easy to put together, doesn’t require a huge list from the grocery store and still tastes better than any store-bought version. In fact, I can remember making this on more than one occasion while we were vacationing at the beach without access to my usual kitchen repetoire. If you are having trouble finding key lime juice with the other drinks, try looking in the cocktail aisle as sometimes I’ve found it there. This pie also happens to be a lightened version, which no one would know, but generally just gives you an excuse to eat more than one piece .
I know that summer is coming to a close, but perhaps if you are looking for something to take to a labor day bbq today, you could have this ready in time. Besides, I would guess that we might be blessed with a few more hotter than h-e-double hockey sticks days before summer officially goes away. And heck, this pie is so good that no one is going to complain if you serve it in the middle of fall at thanksgiving dinner.
Quick and Light Key Lime Pie
- Makes 1 9-inch pie
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup Key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joes)
- 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
- 1 (14 oz) can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
- 1 reduced fat graham cracker crust (6 oz)
- 2 cups lite whipped topping, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Beat eggs and egg whites with a mixer on medium until well blended. Add juice, lime rind and milk and blend.
3. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 20 minutes. Center should be almost set, but will set more as it cools.
4. Cool pie on wire rack. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for 4+ hours. Top with cool whip before serving.
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light
If I had my choice of desserts, pineapple upside down cake would not be at the top of my list. Well at least it wasn’t until I made this cake. If you think like me, you might think that pineapple upside down cake is stuck in the 1980s. While I must admit that the ho-hum yellow-tan color occasionally mixed with the bright red of a maraschino cherry is somewhat unappetizing and does indeed remind me of 1980s wallpaper, I must give some respect to the deliciousness that is this cake.
I made this for my dad’s birthday because for as long as I can remember, it has been his favorite cake. Perhaps this is because I was raised in the 80s, at a time when yellow-tan was in style. Or perhaps my dad has not ventured out into the world of other cake flavors. But most likely I think that my dad just realized that this is a simple cake base that could be eaten on it’s own, combined with a pineapple-carmel syrup that is to die for.
When I decided that I was going to make this for his birthday, I searched high and low for what I thought would be the best recipe. I have made a few pineapple upside down cakes in the past, but I wanted something that would be truly exceptional. While I am not normally one to alter a baking recipe much from the original, I had to make an exception for this cake. I ended up combining the best parts from 2 separate recipes so that I could get a rich cake that would fit in a 9-inch pan and not use the entire pound of butter. I think it turned out to be a success. The cake has a rich and nutty flavor and is so moist in part because of the sour cream and pineapple juice and in part because of the rich syrup sauce it is drenched in. Of course the pineapple itself is on the of the best parts, so feel free to use real pineapple if you have it handy. I have a feeling that I will be making this around September 1st again next year .
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Makes one 9-inch cake
- 1-20 oz can pineapple slices in juice (reserve juice)
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 10 Tablespoons butter (1 stick + 2 T.)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
1. Heat brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling (several minutes). Remove from heat and pour mixture into a non-stick 9 inch cake pan. Place slices of pineapple over the sauce, cutting pieces as necessary to fit as many as possible.
2. Preheat oven to 325º.
3. Whisk flours, almonds, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a mixer blend sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time and then mix in vanilla and pineapple juice. Once blended slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Batter will be thick.
4. Pour batter on top of pineapple slices in pan. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Cool for 5-10 minutes and then invert cake on a rimmed plate to insure no juices are lost. Serve warm or refrigerate for 1-2 days before serving.
I have been wanting an ice cream maker all summer (or maybe even all my life), but I faithfully waited until my birthday hoping to get one. I did get some really wonderful presents, but an ice cream maker wasn’t one of them. I may or may not have had a slight freak out about this incident which may or may not have precipitated an emergency run to the store on my birthday to pick one up. Basically you don’t want to mess with me and ice cream. Needless to say, now I have an ice cream maker .
My first order of business with my new toy was a raspberry ice cream with large chocolate chunks. While the recipe stated that it made about one quart, about 5 minutes into churning there was ice cream pouring out of the top of the 1 1/2 quart machine. It really didn’t freeze and while it didn’t taste awful, I ended up having to throw it out.
However once we got back from vacation I was determined to tackle the infamous French ice cream. I poured through “The Perfect Scoop”, looking for the perfect ice cream, an I finally decided on coffee ice cream because it’s John’s favorite and I liked that it would perfectly complement some large chocolate chunks. I will warn you in advance that this ice cream is VERY coffee flavored. This is in part due to the fact that I ended up steeping the coffee beans with the milk for several hours while I was running errands, so if you want a milder flavor, steep the beans for a shorter period of time. With the chocolate chunks, I was trying to replicate the famous Grater’s ice cream, but I found that they were slightly more hard than I would’ve liked. If you are brave enough you can add extra oil to the chocolate, which will keep it softer in the ice cream. You could also try making truffles and adding them to the ice cream, but I was trying to keep it simple.
Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks
- Makes about 1 quart
- 1 -1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 -1/2 cups whole coffee beans
- Pinch of salt
- 1- 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coffee
For the Chocolate chunks
- 4 oz dark chocolate (60% cacoa)
- 1 T. vegetable oil
1. Begin by warming milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan. Once warmed through, cover, remove from heat and let steep at room temperature for about 1 hour. If you’d like a stronger flavor, continue to steep in the refrigerator for 2-4 more hours.
4. Slowly pour the warm coffee bean-milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly in order to temper the yolks. Then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture with coffee beans back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir. The mixture should thicken and coat the spatula. If you have a reliable thermometer, the temperature should be 170-175° when the custard is done.
6. Once the custard is thick, pour it through the strainer into the cream and stir. Press on the coffee beans to extract as much flavor as possible, then you can discard the beans. Mix in vanilla and finely ground coffee and stir until cool. To cool the ice cream more quickly, you can place the bowl in an ice bath in the sink and continue to stir.
7. To make the chocolate chunks, melt chocolate and oil in the microwave. Stir to mix and then poor mixture onto a rimmed plate. Cool in the freezer until hard. Break the chocolate into chunks and keep cold until ready to use in the ice cream.
8. Chill the milk mixture in the refrigerator and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When there are about 5 minutes left of freezing time, add the cold chocolate chunks and allow them to mix in. Make sure to chill the bowl adequately before churning the ice cream (most machines required 20+ hours of chilling time). Store ice cream in an air tight container in the freezer.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Wow, it’s been way to long since I posted! I have a few (debatably good) excuses though. First I finished up my family medicine rotation with a pretty tough standardized test, then John and I went on vacation to San Fran, wine country and point reyes, and this week I started a rotation in Dermatology in Bryan, OH. It’s been a busy but fun couple of weeks!
I think my favorite part about vacation had to be Sonoma. It was a beautiful but relaxed town and if it wasn’t clear across the country I could totally see myself living there someday. (I checked residency programs, and unfortunately there are none in wine country. boo.) We also had a lot of fun biking all around San Francisco and across the golden gate bridge, as well as hiking in point reyes national seashore.
Now that I’m in Bryan, I haven’t really been cooking much since it would require me to fill a whole new pantry with ingredients and transport my favorite pots and pans an hour and a half; however I do have the weekends off so my goal for the rest of the year is to post one time per week. I’ll start with this recipe for Shrimp and Grits.
We had this for dinner before we left for vacation, and I have been thinking about it off and on since then. I made this thinking it would be a nice treat for the butter, cheese and generally southern food loving member of our family, but as it turns out I ended up being the one who was head over heels for this dinner. Not to say that John didn’t love it as well, I just surprised myself by how much I could love something made with grits and bacon. The parsley and green onions really help to cut down on the heavy feeling of this dish and I think I might even add more next time. I was also surprised by how quickly this dish came together and how few unusual ingredients it required. Now that I have grits in the pantry, I think this is going to become one of my go to weeknight meals because 1) I really loved it and 2) I generally have all these ingredients around and 3) it’s pretty easy to put together. I know that you’re probably starting to think I must work for Costco or something, but I did want to mention that I found the best large, individually frozen shrimp there for the best price. Now that I have a costco sized bag of jumbo shrimp in the freezer, I have even more excuses to make this delicious dish again.
Shrimp and Grits
Serves about 4 (I made about half this recipe for the 2 of us)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup grits (regular or quick cooking but NOT instant)
- 3 T. butter
- 1 heaping cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
- 5 slices bacon
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 T.)
- 2 T. coarsely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Hot sauce if desired
1. Bring water to a boil. Add grits to the boiling water and stir. Add salt and a bit of pepper. Lower heat, bring to simmer and cover until water is absorbed. Follow the directions on your box of grits because cooking times vary.
3. Rinse and pat shrimp dry. You don’t want them dripping water when you add them to hot oil.
4. Fry the bacon in a large skillet. When cooked through remove from the pan and crumble.
In case you didn’t know, my birthday was on Monday, and our anniversary was the day before that. Needless to say it’s been a food-filled week! With my brother having the same birthday as me, it’s always felt like Christmas in July, but now with an anniversary to add to the festivities, July is quickly becoming my favorite month of the year. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for him), brother John is spending the summer
fishing working in Alaska, so I might just have an excuse to make another celebratory birthday cake when he returns in August. I know some people would view it as work to make their own birthday cake, but I view it as an excuse to buy fancy ingredients and make something over-the-top without any regrets. It’s basically like my present to myself. I had a lot of fun sifting through recipes, but with so many combinations of cake and icing to chose from, it was really hard for me to decide on one. I ended up picking this cake because Sweetapolita named it “Campfire Delight” and since I love summer and the campfires that come with it, I couldn’t resist. After making this, I don’t think campfire delight is really a fitting name (after all it’s missing the essential graham cracker part of the s’more), however this cake is totally over the top delicious.
I was set on the fact that I wanted to make a 6-layer cake, only because I had never made one before and I wanted to try something new. Unfortunately I didn’t want to be taking pictures while visiting with friends, so I have no pictures to show you of the inside of this mile-high cake. You’ll just have to trust me: 6 layers really makes a nice presentation and is definitely worth the extra effort. How can you go wrong with an almost equal filling to cake ratio? Keeping that in mind, you can’t eat very much of this cake (at least at one time). But that makes it a perfect birthday cake to share with some friends!
Rich Chocolate Cake
- Recipe as indicated is for 3-9′ inch rounds
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup + 2 T. good quality cocoa powder*
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups strong black coffee (hot or cold is fine)
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 T. pure vanilla extract
*I used Williams-Sonoma’s Dutch cocoa powder, but I think this is a better deal. A good quality cocoa powder really makes this cake.
1) Prepare 3 x 9″ pans by cutting out a circle of parchment to line the bottom, and butter and flour to coat the edges. Preheat oven to 350°.
2) Sift all dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachement, add the remaining ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium-low. (You may need a splatter guard on your mixer as batter will be liquidy).
3) Pour into prepared pans. To ensure even layers, I weighed the pans until I get the same amount in each.
4) Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate placement of pans in oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes (35 minutes total) or until a toothpick comes out clean when placed in the center. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble.
5) To cut the cake layers to get a 6 layer cake, start with cold cake. Using a knife, score a line around the outside of the cake as to where you want to cut. With a serrated knife cut along the line, turning the cake as you go until all cuts reach the middle of the cake. Frost as desired.
Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
- Makes enough to fill 3 (of the 6) layers
- 24 large white marshmallows
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large (13 oz) container marshmallow fluff (or cream)
Place the marshmallows in a pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Place on the bottom rack of the oven and broil until brown. Make sure to watch them continuously as they go from brown to burnt very quickly. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and powdered sugar on low for about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on high for 3 minutes. Finally add marshmallow cream and powdered sugar and blend until just mixed through (about 1 minute). Spread evenly onto cooled layers.
Malted Chocolate Frosting
- Makes enough to fill 3 (of 6 layers) and to cover a 9″ cake
- 4 sticks (2 cups) butter at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup Ovaltine Chocolate malt mix (in the hot cocoa aisle)
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream*
Clean out the bowl and paddle used for toasted marshmallow frosting, and beat the powdered sugar and butter on low for about 1 minute. Add vanilla and ovaltine malt powder and beat on low to combine. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add whipping cream and beat on med-high for another minute. Use right away.
*Do not try to substitute half and half or any other milk- You will end up with a runny frosting (speaking from previous experiences).
All 3 recipes slightly adapted from Sweetapolita.