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!