Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chewy Fudgy Brownies

D wanted brownies and we needed to make do with what we had on hand.  I had a chocolate cookbook that I have never used and assumed there had to be a brownie recipe in it to try.  I was right.  These brownies were perfect.  D and I both want a chewy fudge texture to our brownies... NO cake brownies here.  If I wanted a cake texture I'd make a cake, not a brownie.  These are my new brownie recipe. 

Dave and Kate's Remarkable Brownies (from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz)

8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate chopped (I used a mix of chocolate chips & super dark chocolate.. just use what you have on hand)
1 c. sugar (I reduced this to 3/4 c. because of using chocolate chips)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 TBS Flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. walnuts (Optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 deg.  Prepare an 8 inch pan with baking spray.

In sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add chopped chocolate and stir over low heat until melted.  Remove from the heat and mix in sugar, then eggs and vanilla.

Stir in flour and salt, then nuts and chocolate chips.  Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tiger Cake: Orange & Chocolate

I've seen pictures of cakes made this way a bunch of times, but have never attempted it.  Its very similar to a marble cake, but instead ladles of batter are spooned on top of one another slowly so that one pieces are cut it forms a tiger stripe.  For this cake I used an orange cake and a chocolate cake to make it Tiger striped!   The orange flavor in the cake wasn't extremely noticeable as I had hoped.. I'm not sure if it was the chocolate flavor taking over or if it needed more concentrated orange flavor.  Next time I make it I will use frozen orange juice concentrate instead of orange juice.  To see a cut piece of this cake visit here.  Had the cake not been split to create my layers I think the tiger stripe would have been more noticeable.

Low-Fat Chocolate Cake (Both recipes are from crazy about cupcakes by Krystina Castella.. you can get it at Kohl's for $5!)

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. vanilla yogurt (Or I've used plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream mixed with a little heavy cream.. depending on if you forget to buy yogurt!)
2/3 c. skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (Optional, I left these out)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 deg.  This cake will make 2-8" or 9" cakes or cupcakes.  Prep your pan with baking spray.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the yogurt, milk, vanilla and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

3.  Fill your pans (Or see instructions below for tiger cake).  Bake for 15-20 minutes for cupcakes and 25 minutes for cakes. Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

**NOTE-  To get flat cakes once you fill the pans drop pan onto counter a few times.

Orange Cake

1/4 lb  unsalted butter (1 stick) @ room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, separated, @ room temperature
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges (I left this out, but it would definitely help with the orange flavor)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare pans.
2.  In large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add the egg yolks and beat well.
3.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the orange juices.
5.  With clean beaters, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
6.  Fill the pans and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center of cake cleanly.  (Or follow tiger batter steps below.

Tiger Cake Assembly
1.  Fill a ladle full of first batter and pour in center of pan.  Next fill a ladle of the 2nd batter and pour directly over the center of the first ladle.  Continue layering the batter until you run out.  During this process to get the batter to spread pick up the pan and drop it onto counter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 6: Our Final Cake!

Week 6.. The Final project!!  Our final project was to decorate a 2-tier cake with a theme!  I was really glad I had a theme that didn't require flowers!  I did utilize the leaf tip quite a bit though.  Here is my final cake!

 I used the grass tip, the small round, and leaf tip to make coral.  I also used the leaf tip to make the wave border along the bottom of the small cake.

To make the fish I used no tip to make the body and then the small round to pipe on the fins.  The small round was also used for the yellow coral.

The small trees that are on an angle was my attempt at making a curved tree trunk.. A straight line on an angle is not a curve.. but hey I'm an Engineer I can only work in straight lines!

A cut out of the top tier.  I didn't have enough batter for all the layers to be banana so I had to improvise and make a small batch of chocolate for 1-6inch layer.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers #2: Yeasted Coffee Cake

It is time for our second Daring Baker’s Challenge!!!!

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

This recipe looked amazing, I knew I’d want to make it as soon as possible! It takes a bit of time because of needing to allow the dough time to rise, but that is time you can go do something else. I halved the recipe since we have no need for 2 coffee cakes around the house. Boy, am I glad I did this because we would have devoured them both! I also used the weight measurements for the ingredients (I’ve never made a recipe this way.. and I loved it! Didn’t get any measuring devices dirty! YES! less dishes!!!)  This recipe is going to be used over and over!!

The first step was to bring the dough together. While warming the milk I threw in a cinnamon stick and some cloves. (I’m not sure that this flavor really came through in the dough.)

Dump the dough out and knead it until it was smooth and sexy (this was the word used in the recipe).

Now for the waiting game. Time to let the dough rise!

When its getting close to the end of the rising time right before you want to roll out the dough make the meringue.

Once it has risen it is time to roll out the dough. I am a dork and really got out a tape measure because I wanted it to be the size specified in the recipe.

Spread the meringue out on top of the dough.

Sprinkle with the spice mixture. I used cinnamon, sugar, all spice, clove, and nutmeg. Chopped walnuts, cinnamon chips, and chocolate chips. (After it was baked I couldn’t taste the cinnamon chips.)

Roll the dough like a jelly roll.

Form into a wreath and use scissors to make the slashes in the dough.  Back to waiting again. Time for the 2nd rise!

Now, brush on egg wash (I used the egg yolks left over from the meringue) and get it in the oven!

We were so excited to try the coffee cake we only allowed it to cool while I took pictures and then dug right in. I recommend waiting longer, our first pieces were so chocolaty because the chocolate was still too hot!

I will be keeping this recipe around and plan to try a savory option like so many other Daring Baker’s did. You can see what was done here. I have so many ideas for using this dough again…. love the idea of cutting the dough into pieces after rolling the jelly roll to make it more like cinnamon buns, leaving out the chocolate, using fruit… ahhh all the options!!!

Here is the recipe:


Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter

The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake


For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour

¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar

¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast

¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk

¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)

½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts

2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg

Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes


Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Apple Baked Pancake

I love apple pancakes.  I love my Grandma's thin apple pancakes, I love when my dad makes crepes with an apple filling, and I love apple pancakes that are baked in the oven (we used to get them at a place called The Pancake Pantry.)  This pancake is a recipe my parents sent me that reminded them of The Pancake Pantry apple pancake.   This pancake is a perfect breakfast treat for me!  Thank you mom and dad for finding this one and sharing it with me (sorry, I have no clue where this recipe originally came from!)  I've made other versions before, but this one is by far the best I've made at home! 

Apple Pancake
2 tart cooking apples, sliced1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs 
beaten and room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 tablespoons butter  (I maybe used 1 TBS, and I used a spread instead)

Preheat oven to 425° F.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, salt, flour, milk, and vanilla extract; beat until batter is smooth (the batter will be thin, but very smooth and creamy); set aside.

In a large heavy ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, melt butter, tilting pan to cover sides. Add apples and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Stir and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes to slightly cook the apple slices; remove from heat.

Pour prepared batter over apples into baking pan. Place pan in preheated oven and bake approximately 20 minutes or until puffed above sides of the pan and lightly browned (it may puff irregularly in the center); remove from oven.

Remove pancake from the baking pan by flipping upside down onto a serving platter (apples and cinnamon will be on top). Once out of the oven, the pancake will begin to deflate. To serve, cut into serving-size wedges and transfer to individual serving plates.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cake Decorating Week 5: Cake #4

This week we learned a few random techniques, some half flowers, swags, ribbon, lace..  The main point of the class was to practice some of the techniques we want to use on our final cake next week.  We also mixed up some of the colors we are going to use for our final cake.  This week my cake features one of the lace techniques we learned.. (I'm pretty sure I'll be using it a little next week.)  The color I used will also be on my cake next week.  This weeks cake was a mixture of orange cake and chocolate cake from a new recipe book, featuring a technique of layering the batter in the pans that is suppose to give a zebra or tiger effect.  Mine turned out slightly more marbled looking.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Another savory dish!  Can you believe it?  I made up this recipe as I went pulling ideas from different recipes I've made before and it worked!  They were really good meatballs and I was able to keep the calories pretty low.  Enjoy!

Italian Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (or whatever type of meat)
1 egg
2 slices  Bread (I use a Healthy Life wheat... it is a low carb, high fiber bread)
1/3 c. Broth
1/2 onion grated
1/2 TBS Braggs (or Worcestershire)
1 tsp mustard (regular, spicy, brown)
1 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil (or whatever spices you'd like)
2-3 garlic cloves grated

1.  Soak bread with broth and whisked egg.  After a minute or so of soaking, mash up bread so it is no longer in pieces.  Mix in ground beef and all other ingredients.  Don't over mix the mixture.

2.  Roll into meatballs and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until cooked based on the size you make the meatballs.

I was able to get 21 meatballs and each meatball was about 65 calories. These can be served with your favorite pasta sauce.  I took a small can of tomato sauce, a can of fire roasted tomatoes (both no salt added), fresh spinach, and some Italian spices to make a sauce.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Orange Marmalade Chicken

Finally, something other than a dessert!  When I'm not making dessert I'm trying to take meals and make them healthier.  I know I'm either one extreme or another.  I can't help it I have a sweet tooth and I need to make up for it somehow!  Trust me I'll be hitting the gym a little more this week because of that pie and cake! 

Usually by the time I get home from work and go to the gym its rather late cooking dinner, which isn't a problem because D has class at night anyway.  So during the week I'm looking for quick cooking no fuss meals.  We had some low sugar orange marmalade left over from some homemade BBQ sauce so I decided to finally put it to use on this recipe I found on Eating Well and then modified slightly... mostly just nixing the olive oil and shallots (which I would normally sub in onions but I was too lazy to chop!)  Below is my modified recipe and if you'd like the original follow the link by clicking on the name of the dish below.

Orange Marmalade Chicken (Modified from Eating Well)

• 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons orange marmalade (I increased to 3 and used the low sugar kind)
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1 pound chicken cut into pieces
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Whisk broth, vinegar, marmalade, mustard and cornstarch in a medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat sprayed with cooking spray. Add the chicken and cook until golden. Transfer to a plate.

3. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Add the chicken; return to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is heated back through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and serve.

  • The sauce thickens even more when sitting, by the time D got home to eat his the sauce was much thicker and coated the chicken much more than when I ate.
  • This would be really good served with rice (but we avoid that carb) or tofu shiratki noodles since they are such a great noodle swap.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cake decorating week 4: cake #3

This week we learned the basket weave and also using color (of course I would pick purple!!).  We learned two various color techniques, the first we used for flower and involved striping a color with white in the pastry bag.  Then we played with which direction the tip was to give different color effects.  Then we did another striping technique with various shades of green for our leaves.   After playing with colors and various tips, I was too lazy to change back to the basket weave tip so my cake this week did not feature it... I want to try it next week just so I can make sure I can actually make it look nice on a cake.

Here are some pictures!

Showing off my new plate....  

Carrot Cake

With all the cakes being made for cake decorating class, I got a request for carrot cake.  My typical carrot cake is made in a bundt pan and I wasn't sure it would work as a layer cake, so I started a search for a quick easy carrot cake.  This cake was quick to put together (except for the grating carrots) and tasted just as good as my other one!  Next time, I will just use the food processor to grate the carrots!  I was just too lazy to get it out, but in the long run it would have been less work!  

Carrot Cake (Adapted from Baking Junkie, visit the link for the original)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar (I didn't fill the cups completely full)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8  to 1/4 tsp ginger, all spice, nutmeg, cloves  (I added these to the original recipe)
3 cups finely shredded carrot
1 cup vegetable oil

2 oz crushed walnuts (or more, another addition of mine.)
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of mixer beat together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and spices. Add in carrot, vegetable oil and eggs and mix with mixer. Pour into two well greased 9 inch round cake pans (I used 8 inch because that's what we need for class). Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Daring Cooks: Cevieche and Papas Rellenas

On to our 2nd Daring Cooks’ challenge! On to March’s challenge! This month was two classic Peruvian dishes, Ceviche and a Papas Rellenas.

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

D and I have always wanted to try Ceviche but both of us were completely scared! We aren’t the biggest fish eaters in the first place and for it to only be cooked with lime juice is scary. We went on a hunt to find some decent looking fish at the grocery store so that we would feel more comfortable not cooking it with heat. We luckily found some Cod to use. For the ceviche we sliced the fish up small and placed it into a food saver bag with some onions, the juice of some limes mixed with some chili paste.

We left this sealed up in the fridge until we finished making our Papas, I think it was about 30-45 minutes?? D made me try it first before he’d try it. The fish tasted ok… well it tasted just like lime; however, neither of us could get over the texture. So unfortunately we threw it down the drain. Luckily, we suspected we would do this so we only used one small piece of fish.

Now on to the Papas Rellenas... First, you pretty much make mashed potatoes and add an egg.

Now, for the filling, the original recipe included raisins and hard boiled egg in with the ground beef. Well, D and I have had a bad dinner experience with ground meat and a sweet element… so we wanted to stay away from raisins in our meat. Also, D is not a huge boiled egg fan. With the meat being the filling in a potato dish, Shepherd’s Pie popped into my head and wouldn't go away. We took some onion, celery, carrot, peas and mixed that in with our ground beef along with some spices.

Next you take your potato mixture and stuff it with the meat and form the potato shapes.

These are then breaded using flour, egg, and then Panko bread crumbs.

Finally, they are fried to a golden brown.

Now its time to eat!

These Papas were delish! These are something I’d like to try to make again with different fillings and probably baking them instead of frying them to make them healthier.

If you'd like to try either recipe go here!  You can also see what the other Daring Cooks accomplished!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sour Cream Apple Pie

I may not like pie crust much, but I like pie fillings.  My grandma's pumpkin pie is my all time fave, but this sour cream apple comes in 2nd.  It reminds me of being a kid and having pie at my grandma's house.  I love making things that remind me of being a kid with my family.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

1 egg
1 1/2 c. sour cream
3 TBS flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 c. sliced apples - McIntosh or Northern Spy preferred (I used golden delicious)
Large Pie Plate
1- 9" pie crust (see My Grandma's Pie Crust)

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. flour

Beat egg, stir in sour cream, 3 TBS flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Add apples and mix. Pour filling into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 375 deg for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Mix brown sugar, butter and flour until crumbly.  Sprinkle over top of pie.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 deg and bake for 15 minutes.

I'm sharing this post at Prairie story check out the other recipes.

Grandma's Pie Crust

I don't even like pie crust... or pie for that matter.  Talking to D... he doesn't really like pie crust either.  I do know that my Grandma's pie crust is better than any other pie crust, but I still never really ate it.  My mom always loved pie crust.  Especially when my Grandma would take the extra and make cookies with it.. sprinkling the dough with sugar.

Pie was on my mind and I wanted to have it.  So off I went on the adventure to make pie crust.  I talked to my mom and she told me that she uses a pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the flour.. I don't have one so I attempted to do it with 2 knives, I think it actually worked out.  A little more difficult then pastry cutter.  Next, she told me after I added the water to not handle it too much... I'm pretty sure I handled it too much.  I had trouble rolling it.  However, I did get a pie crust into my dish and a pie in the oven.  And... I finally admit it... I LOVE THIS PIE CRUST!!

My Grandma's Crust

2 cups Sifted flour
1 tsp Salt
3/4 c Shortening
Cut shortening into flour using 2 knives (or a pastry cutter).
1/4 c. water

Bring together handling as little as possible.  Next roll out the crust to fit into your pie pan.  This recipe will make 2 crusts.

This is what the mixture looked like when I was cutting with 2 knives.