Thursday, May 9, 2013

Indonesian Rice Salad

I have so many cookbooks (some mine and some my mother's) that favorites get neglected from time to time. The original Moosewood Cookbook was one of my mother's most used cookbooks. Each recipe is handwritten by the author Mollie Katzen and the book was published in 1977 - a true treasure. I recently picked it up after not using it for a few years. I forgot how much I love it. It still smells like her, she has hand written notes throughout it, and there is even a little love note from my father used as a page marker.

I normally use this cookbook for the hummus and tabouli recipes. I noticed a recipe for Indonesian Rice Salad that sounded delicious. Something about crushed pineapple mixed with salty cashews just does it for me. I made it the other day and really enjoyed it. I even brought some to Amy, my personal trainer. She approved!

Try this, you won't regret it.

Indonesian Rice Salad
Source: Adapted from Moosewood Cookbook

2 cups brown rice cooked in 3 cups of water (I added wild rice)

Mix together-
1/3 cup peanut oil
3T sesame oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 clove garlic, smashed
2T tamari
1t salt
2T rice vinegar
1 cup canned crushed pineapple and its juice

Add the hot rice to the dressing. Now add in the crunchy and yummies:

3 scallions, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1 cup sweet pepper, diced
1 cup water chestnuts, sliced

Stir it up, let it chill and marinate. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Boston Marathon

I figure it is my turn to recount our trip to Boston on Monday. Amy already blogged hers, even with pictures.

If you know me you know that I don’t leave a 15 mile radius of my home very often. Sometimes I will go to Brunswick to see Seth at work and get Frosty’s donuts. Occasionally I will go to Freeport or Portland to go shopping. I almost never leave the state of Maine. But it was important to Seth that Abe and I see him run the Boston Marathon. I figured that we had sacrificed a lot of our time with him so we should see the result of that. My friend Amy and her 8 year old James came along since she was versed in the marathon and the city.

I was really nervous about driving into the city and being there with my toddler. We made great time, getting there in just over 2 hours. It was a cinch to get there. Although I did mortify Amy by driving onto Boylston Street (right at mile 26) which she insists was closed off. I did have a golf cart coming at me, and I had to part a crowd of people so I could turn into the hotel parking lot. I’m not convinced the street was totally closed off. But she slouched down in her seat and turned bright red.

Once there things went very smooth. We let the kids play in Boston Common. We found an awesome spot around mile 25 and I was able to scream over the crowd “SETH, SETH, SETH!” All while waving one arm like a mad woman and trying to prop Abe over the crowd with my other arm. He heard us, saw us, pointed and then put his fists to his chest and started to cry a bit. It was a really emotional and exciting time. He finished in 2:48, an awesome race for Seth. He was pleased, we were happy, we were going to go get lunch. Seth was going to eat something other than kale and oatmeal!!

We were waiting for a table at Cheesecake Factory when the bombs went off. It was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. It was like we were in the movies, like you see on the news. I looked out a window into the mall and people were running out looking behind them with terror on their faces. I will never ever forget that. I was sure there was a shooter up there. I was holding Abe and we ran out onto the street to run away, but how do you know where the shooter is? I was so afraid some guy was going to come around the corner and shoot me and my baby. I held Abe in front of my body facing away from the mall hoping a bullet would hit me and not him.

No one knew what was going on. We walked the opposite way we came and seemed to be walking into it. People were crying, sirens everywhere. Today I Google mapped the way we went and at one point we were just standing in the street trying to figure out what to do, there was a street up ahead of us and now I see that is Boylston Street, we really were walking right into it. Luckily we sensed we were wrong so we walked the other way, not sure what was safe, unsure what was happening. Walking the other way we saw people with blood on their shirts. This place wasn’t safe either. Then Amy's sister called and asked where we were and when she told her she told us there had been bombs at the finish line and people were without limbs. She told us to get the fuck out of there. It was only then that the police nearby told us to run in another direction and tons of people just booked it. We ran and ran and ran. We went all the way out to Fenway.

Amy has since described leaving Copley Square as rings of chaos, the further we went out the calmer things were. Finally there weren’t many people around and things were more quiet (except the sirens that were nonstop), we found a bench to sit on and figure out what to do next. This was the first time that I was able to look at my phone. I’m not much of a texter but I had a ton of text messages from worried friends and family. I texted just a few key people knowing they could let others know we were OK. I called my sister knowing she would be put more at ease with a phone call. I could hear the worry in her voice.

While we were sitting on that bench Amy explored the area to find a milestone that her sister could find so she could pick us up. Amy’s son James sat with us looking terrified. Seth told him that this will be a great story to tell his friends. He said, “If I live that long.” Poor James was just so scared. Abe is young enough that he didn’t know we were in trouble. He thought it was great that we were running with the stroller.

Finally Amy’s sister Katy was able to find us and packed all of us and our huge jogging stroller into her PT Cruiser. What a sight to be seen. She brought us to her home in Quincy. We stopped at Panera to eat but it wasn’t until I was in her home that I actually felt safe.

We settled in, Abe fell asleep on me, and we tried to figure out what to do next. It seemed the city was on lockdown and we weren’t sure how to get the car which was in Copley Square. We decided that Katy would bring Seth in and hopefully he could come get us. Of course they wouldn’t let him out of the garage. Amy and I thought of renting a car but the company was closed for the day. We ended up staying at Katy’s house. Her husband went out and bought diapers for Abe (I didn’t have any at all) and bought us all toothbrushes. She set up beds for us, put out pajamas for us, gave us snacks, gave Abe milk. I am so indebted to her.

I think I slept just a couple hours that night. When I did fall asleep I would wake up shortly after shaking and remembering what had happened. Abe slept like a dream.

The next morning Seth was able to get the car and pick us up.

You never think you will be that close. We were 1,000 feet away from the bombs. I feel lucky that Seth ran fast.

I’m probably never going to leave Kennebec County again.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Peanut Rice Noodle Salad with Tofu

This is my new favorite lunch. This came together pretty quickly. It was best fresh but I did eat it for lunch today and it was really good, let it come to room temp a bit so the noodles will be soft.

Peanut Rice Noodle Salad
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound tofu
8 ounces rice noodles (linguine shape)
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup warm water
1 medium cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
2 green onions (green parts only), sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Slice the tofu lengthwise into ½-inch thick slabs; pat dry on a dishtowel. Transfer the tofu to the oil and cook, without moving, for 4-6 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Flip the tofu and brown the second side. Remove the tofu from the skillet and cut into bite-sized cubes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and the rice noodles; cook until tender. (Check the package instructions for exact cooking times.) Drain and rinse the pasta.

In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water, and until smooth. Fold the tofu into the sauce, then add the remaining ingredients, reserving some of the green onions and cilantro for a garnish.

Chocolate Syrup

Do not waste your money buying chocolate syrup anymore. Making it at home is crazy simple and a lot cheaper too. This took me about 2 minutes to do. I've been putting it in almond milk for a sweet treat.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Source: ME!

1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 warm water

Put it all in a mason jar and a shake, shake, shake.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt

Chocolate and sea salt. YUM!

I made these for a going away party for a work friend. I was sitting and chatting with people and coworkers would walk by me, hold the cookie up and smile and nod. I like that. I like watching people enjoy what I enjoy doing.

These were really good and the small sprinkle of sea salt really brings out the quality chocolate flavor. Make sure to use a good brand of dark chocolate here.

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt
Source: The Novice Chef
Yield: 12 cookies

3 oz dark chocolate (60-80%), chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup double dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Fleur de Sel (or large-flake sea salt) for topping

Preheat oven to 325°F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, melt chopped chocolate bar and butter in 15 second increments in the microwave, until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Stir in sugar and egg -- into the chocolate mixture -- until smooth. Add in dry ingredients, mixing until fully combined.

Roll 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough into balls and place on cookie sheet, leaving room for spreading. Sprinkle lightly with Fleur de Sel.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until center is no longer puffy. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling tray. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Loaf

We are in the midst of a blizzard here in Maine. Daycare was closed for a half day yesterday so Abe and I whipped this up after naptime. As you probably know and agree, snowy days are perfect for baking. I love baking with my two year old.

This loaf came out excellent. I used Trappist strawberry jam made in Massachusetts. I did end up tenting it with foil toward the end and baking it another 15 minutes, it wasn't done in the middle after 50 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Loaf
Source: 17 and Baking

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy, all natural peanut butter (with no added palm oil)
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup jam

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×5″ loaf pan and coat it with sugar.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. In another bowl, stir the jam to break it up and get it loose.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the peanut butter, butter, and sugars on medium high speed for a full five minutes. The mixture won’t get light and fluffy and the sugar won’t dissolve, but the mixture will be less grainy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Beat in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla extract, then the rest of the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl. The batter will be thin. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan and dollop with jam. Pour the rest of the batter over the jam and sprinkle the top with large grain sugar.
Bake the loaf for about 50 minutes. The time for this one really depends on your oven, so keep checking. If the edges start to get too brown, loosely tent some tin foil over the top and keep baking. Then bake for another 10-20 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Homemade Salsa

I've made salsa in the past but nothing like this!

This was really easy to make, you just open some cans, do a little bit of chopping, and then pulse the food processor a couple of times. This is the only kind I'm going to make from now on. 

I served this with nachos for the Super Bowl. Since then I've put it on my eggs, quesadillas, and just with tortilla chips to dunk in it.

Source: Pioneer Woman
Yield: A lot.

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
1/4 cup Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)
1/2 whole Lime Juice

Note: this is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like---I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting


I like to scream it.

Do it with me.



They should just run off and get married.

I made these on a whim and shared them with my pregnant friend. These were fantastic. Super moist muffins with a bit of a crunchy/crackly top and then a super soft creamy frosting. I froze a few and defrosted one last night - still very good!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
Source: Recipe Snobs
Yield: 12 cupcakes

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup smooth all natural peanut butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Frosting
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter, natural (or if you want a smoother look, go not-natural)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350.

Line 12 cup muffin pan.

Combine the milk and vanilla in bowl. Combine flour, powder and salt in another bowl.

Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugars and then the eggs. 

Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry.

Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 22 minutes and cool completely.

For the frosting, combine the powder sugar and salt in one bowl and the milk and vanilla in another bowl. Cream the butter and peanut butter until really smooth and creamy. Add the powder sugar followed by the milk and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Blueberry Donut Muffins

There is a big snow storm heading our way for Friday. My recommendation for you is to get the ingredients for these muffins tomorrow, hit the snooze button on Friday, get up and make these (they whip  right up), and enjoy them with a cup of coffee and watch the snow fall.

Sounds good to me!

I think these are my favorite blueberry muffins. I love the glaze and I love the little taste of lemon that both the muffin and the glaze have. I did freeze half the batch and the defrost really well. I was surprised at that actually, with the glaze and all.

Blueberry Donut Muffins
Source: Kristine's Kitchen

Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

For the glaze:
 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. warm water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugars. Use your fingers to blend together the zest and sugars until fragrant.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the lemon sugar, butter, and canola oil until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin, filling the cups nearly to the top.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they are pale golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Place the muffin tin on a wire rack to let the muffins cool slightly before glazing.

Meanwhile, mix up the glaze by whisking together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth.

After the muffins have cooled in the pan for 5-10 minutes, dip each muffin top into the glaze and place on the wire rack. Once the glaze has hardened, you can either leave the muffins as they are or dip them a second time.

Serve warm. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Perfect Soft Boiled Egg

I didn't even know I liked soft boiled eggs until I saw a picture of one and drooled all over my desk. I have some extra time on my hands today (a rare occasion as a full time working mother of a toddler). I decided that for snack I would make a soft boiled egg with toast.


Wow. Wow. Wowwy.

I could see myself becoming addicted to these. Absolute perfection. The white was perfectly cooked through while the yolk was flowing and yummy.

A sprinkle of salt and pepper is all you need.

It is the simple things in life that are the best.

The Perfect Soft Boiled Egg
Source: Eat Drink Better

1. In a medium pan, bring a half inch of water to a boil over medium heat.

2. Carefully drop in 1-6 eggs. Cover, and cook for 6 1/2 minutes.

3. Drop eggs into ice bath for 30 seconds.

4. Carefully peel and enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

My friends have been talking about cake all week. And I had just curbed my cake craving by making a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. But my word I fell right into it again. The more those girls talked about cake the more I wanted/needed it!

I figured that I would make cupcakes since I recently bought some very fancy (expensive) pans from William Sonoma. I knew I wanted chocolate cake but it took me a while to decided on peanut butter frosting. Then I had to decide on WHICH peanut butter frosting. (Nothing is simple). I decide on Ina Garten's frosting recipe because I find her trustworthy. She didn't let me down. The frosting is peanut buttery but light and fluffy and smooth as can be. Very wonderful.

I chose to make my normal chocolate cake from Cook's Illustrated, good stuff but I think next time I will try making Ina's cake into cupcakes and see how they turn out.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Cook's Illustrated
Yield: 24 cupcakes or 2 round cakes

12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess.  Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes.  Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.  Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.  Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whis until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment.  Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.  Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.)   Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.  Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack.  Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Source: Ina Garten
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honey Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm going to go on record that these are one of the most delicious things to come out of my kitchen. Well, they didn't make it too far out of the kitchen. A little sweet, a little salty, a little bit herby. Crusty outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Gah, they pretty much melt in your mouth. And they were a cinch to put together.

I halved this recipe and it made 4 big biscuits. I will be making these for the next big family dinner.

Oh, and grated frozen butter is a beautiful thing. I wanted to stop and take a picture but I was in the moment and didn't want to stop.

Honey Buttermilk Biscuits
Source: Saveur Magazine

5 cups flour
1 tbsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, frozen
1¾ cups buttermilk
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. rosemary, finely chopped

Heat oven to 400°. Whisk flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. Using a box grater, grate 10 tbsp. butter into flour mixture, and gently mix with your hands. Add buttermilk, and gently fold to combine to form a soft dough - DO NOT OVER MIX!.

Turn dough onto a floured surface; pat into an 8" x 6" square (about 2" thick). Cut into 6 squares; place 3" apart on a parchment paper—lined baking sheet. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Melt remaining butter in a small pan; mix with the honey and rosemary. Brush over hot biscuits; return to oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This is such a classic cake. Chocolate on chocolate. A hint of coffee. Moist. Buttery.

I had to give it to my friends so I could get it out of my house!!

The only thing that happened here is that my cake fell in the middle. This never happens to me. I am not sure if I didn't mix it enough or if I should blame my new oven that I am getting used to. Either way, that just meant more frosting to fill the gap in the middle. No mistakes, just opportunities!

Classic Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Source: Ina Garten

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Pulled Pork Panini

Last week I took a day off work to spend with my best friend. She is the same age as me - early 30s - and owns three restaurants in the town of Belfast, Maine (a pub, an Italian place, and a Mexican place). She is pretty amazing.

So of course I had to make her an awesome lunch. Every time we go to visit her she treats us to lunch at whichever restaurant of hers that we want to go. Believe me, the good life is eating at a nice restaurant with the owner at your table.

I decided on pulled pork paninis and a curried carrot soup. We had recently had pulled pork and coleslaw (cabbage and carrots came in the winter CSA) for supper and I had made some bread just for this. I've been wanting to make a cake and decided this was a good opportunity. I'll include the pulled pork, coleslaw and panini recipes here and the cake one will be separate.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Source: Pioneer Woman

1 medium sized pork butt/shoulder
1 large onion, quartered
1 bottle soda (I used Dr. Pepper)
1/2 small can chipolte peppers
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Lay the onion quarters on the bottle of the crock pot. Put the pork on top of them and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the pork and pull, removing the fat from the meat. (Pioneer Woman suggests adding the pulled pork to the sauce in the crock pot but I think it would have been too spicy for my toddler so I left it as is and loved it.)

Creamy Coleslaw
Source: Martha Stewart

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I did half mayo and half yogurt)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small green cabbage, finely shredded
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated

Whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, mayonnaise, and sour cream in a small bowl. Refrigerate dressing, covered, until ready to use, or up to 2 days.
Put cabbage, carrots, and onion (if desired) in a large bowl. Pour in dressing, and toss thoroughly. Refrigerate, covered, until slaw begins to soften, 1 to 2 hours. If not using immediately, refrigerate, covered, up to 2 days. Just before serving, toss coleslaw again.

Pulled Pork Panini
Source: ME!

Sour dough bread or focaccia
Salted butter
Pulled pork
BBQ sauce (I used an awesome maple sauce made in VT)
Cheddar cheese, shredded
**I wanted to add caramelized onion but I forgot to make them ahead of time**

Heat panini press or grill pan on medium. Butter the bread and then layer all the ingredients on one slice, putting cheese on top and bottom. Top with the other piece of bread and panini press it! YUM.

Monday, January 14, 2013

White Chocolate Bark

I made this for the holidays and it was a big hit. Plus it is super pretty.

Peppermint bark is good but maybe a little over played at this point. I wanted to make something different. Creamy (QUALITY!!) white chocolate with little bites of dried apricot, cranberries and pistachios. Now that is something a little different!

You can change the ingredients in this and it would be great. Cherries and almonds, golden raisins and walnuts. Think outside the box!

White Chocolate Bark

Quality white chocolate
Nuts (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
Dried fruits (apricots, golden raisins, cherries, cranberries)

If you are using nuts, toast them to bring out their flavor a little more.

Melt the white chocolate being careful not to scorch it, white chocolate burns easily. Using an off set spatula, spread the white chocolate over parchment paper or a silpat. Then sprinkle on your toppings and let it harden before breaking it into pieces.

Flu Fighter Cookies

Have you had your flu shot??

I was late getting mine but I did get it.

All this hype about the flu has made me think of these cookies I saw a few years ago. Packed with goodness to boost your immune system they just might help you keep the flu at bay.

Ginger, cinnamon, walnuts, oats, lemon. All they need is garlic! Wait. That would be weird, right?

Flu Fighter Cookies
Source: Food Network Mag

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups golden raisins
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1 1/4 cups roughly chopped walnuts, toasted

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Add the molasses, yogurt, ginger and lemon zest and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture to make a sticky batter (do not overmix). Fold in the oats and half of the raisins, cranberries and walnuts. Mix the remaining dried fruit and nuts in a small bowl and set aside.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Top each with some of the reserved dried-fruit-and-nut mixture and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the cookies until dark golden but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes; cool on a rack. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Studded and Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are the bee's knees. What?

They are a soft peanut butter cookie studded with milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips AND Reese's pieces. Dang.

I had a wonderful little helper in making these. My two year old cried when I had to put the peanut butter chips away. 

Make these. I promise you won't be sorry.

Studded and Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Yield: 2 dozen

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup reese's pieces
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 35o°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and pudding; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract and honey and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beat to combine. Add chocolate chips, reeses pieces and peanut butter chips and mix until incorporated. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between your palms and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Using your palm, gently flatten the dough balls until they are about ¾ inch thick.

Bake 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Granola Bars

I've made granola bars a few times before using a recipe from Alton Brown. I saw a four ingredient one on Pinterest that caught my attention. Four ingredients, they are all super healthy, and I'm short on time! This sounded like an awesome idea.

These taste really good but they are super crumbly. I only got about half of them out of the pan in one piece. Seth is going to use some of the crumbles for his oatmeal and I'm going to put some in my yogurt in the morning.

For mix-ins I used raisins on half (Seth's favorite) and cranberries and mini chocolate chips on the other half. I put coconut over the whole thing. Yum. Oh, and don't skimp on the chia seeds. They definitely add a nice texture. Also, I didn't have enough honey so I used half honey and half agave. Maybe that is why they were crumbly, maybe the honey sticks it together more? I dunno. Still yummy.

4 Ingredient Granola Bars
Source: Savoring the Thyme

4 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup natural peanut butter, melted
1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup or agave)

Mix-in ideas: raisins, dried cranberries (or any dried fruit), flax seed, coconut, chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips), wheat germ, sunflower seeds (or pumpkin)

Combine the oats and chia in a bowl (you could add nuts at this part too). Pour syrup/honey over oats and mix. Then pour the peanut butter over and mix that in. You can either fold in your mix-ins or sprinkle them on the top like I did. Bake at a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

I have a recipe for a "healthy" chocolate pudding that I'm pretty in love with. It is made with silken tofu and I love that I can eat it and have an added protein boost. I shared the recipe with a girl that I know that likes to eat healthy and she shared one of her recipes for chocolate pudding made with avocado. I was so intrigued! While the pudding I had been making called for sugar, this one called for agave or honey. I gave it a try today. Very good! Nice and rich and chocolatey.

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Yield: 3-4 small servings

1 avocado cut into chunks
1/2 cocoa (I used the extra dark kind)
1/4 agave or honey
1/4 soy or almond milk
2 t. vanilla

Put all of this in the food processor and let her rip!