Monday, March 31, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie.


Look at that! Tuesdays with Dorie has a brand new avatar! And it's beautiful! I also want to take a quick second to thank
Laurie for all the hard work she puts into the group. You're amazing Laurie!

Okay, so on to this week's recipe...

Leigh of Lemon Tartlet had the tough task of choosing the recipe this time around.


Gooey Chocolate Cakes

Yum. This recipe sounded delicious. I was hoping for a gooey, almost-molten, center that would just ooze out when I cut into it. But no luck. In the recipe Dorie instructs us to bake it for exactly 13 minutes and I did but my cakes had no goo. I'm blaming my oven, but I know a lot of the other TWDer's had the same problem.

Mine also looked exactly like muffins when they came out of the oven. I didn't like that. So I took a small biscuit cutter to them and then sliced off the muffin tops. If I try this recipe again I'll make them in ramekins in order to avoid the muffin look.

I'm not a chocolate fan so I'm probably not the best judge of these cakes, but I will tell you that the husband loved them. We had planned on sharing them with some friends that were coming over but by the time they got here the cakes were gone!

Gooey Chocolate Cakes
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours pp. 261-262


1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (4 oz coarsely chopped, 1 oz finely chopped)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 large egg yolk, at room temp
6 T sugar


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter (or spray) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt together.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (we used a double boiler), put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted–you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogenous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. Transfer them, still on teh baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)

Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3 minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to life the cakes onto dessert plates.


Spicy Hash Browns.

I was pretty much stumped when it came to finding a side to go with our waffle sandwiches. I guess it really didn't need a side since it had the eggs and bacon already on it but I don't like serving just one thing. Eventually I thought about hash browns. Duh Amanda. Isn't that the standard breakfast side dish?! Geez.


These were super simple since all I had to do was dice the potatoes, season them, and throw them in the oven. By the time I was done making all the waffles they were coming out of the oven. I also halved the recipe and it was the perfect amount for me and the hungry husband.

I'll definitely be making these again but next time I'm making them much spicier. You really couldn't taste the spice at first but after 3 or 4 pieces a little hint of spiciness came through.

Spicy Hash Browns
from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 1/2 cups diced baking potato (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Add potatoes; stir well to coat. Place potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until browned.

Cheddar Waffle Sandwich.

I got a waffle maker! Finally! I've wanted one for awhile but couldn't justify buying one since I wasn't sure how often I'd use it. But then Coke added it to their list of Coke Point rewards and I jumped on it. So yay! A waffle maker!

I've had this recipe in my favorites for quite some time now. It's by the lovely Andrea back when she'd post over at Breakfast Blogger. I finally got a chance to try them out.


The waffles were delicious! I've only had sweet waffles before this so I was shocked at how much I liked these. Spencer gobbled two down as soon as he walked through the door and then told me he wanted me to use the leftover waffles for breakfast tomorrow. For his sandwich I did bacon, scrambled eggs, and a slice of cheese. I tried to make the egg in the waffle iron like Andrea did but it just didn't work out for me.

My sandwich wasn't quite as exciting.


Open-faced with Morningstar "bacon" and a scrambled egg white. Still delicious though!

I look forward to making these again very soon (...tomorrow morning apparently) and I see this becoming one of those meals that Spencer requests a lot.

Cheddar Waffles
from Never Bashful with Butter and Breakfast Blogger

1 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter (I used margarine.)
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar (any cheese will work, depending on your taste)

Whisk together the liquid ingredients. Add the salt and baking powder to the flour, and then stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Lastly, add the cheese a quarter cup at a time, stirring lightly between each addition. Cook according to your waffle iron's directions.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Morning Glory Muffins.

Mommy size and Landon size muffins.

I've been making a real effort to eat breakfast lately. It's really hard for me because I'm used to drinking 3 or 4 cups of coffee in the morning and then not eating until late afternoon. But I'm trying.

I tried oatmeal for a few days but the Kashi vanilla oatmeal that I loved during college just doesn't do it for me anymore. I don't like milk so cold cereal is out. Pop-Tarts, granola bars, anything like that is just too sugary first thing in the morning. So I went on a search for a muffin.

I wanted something with dried fruit, whole wheat flour, and flax seeds. And you know what? Cooking Light once again came to my rescue.

These muffins are pretty amazing. I'd never had a date before these and I think I actually like them! Weird. The original recipe calls for walnuts but I didn't want the extra fat so I left them out. I must warn you though: They're addictive. I've been eating them for lunch and my night time snack lately.

The recipe made a ton so I stuck some in the freezer. The recipe says it makes 18 but I ended up with 12 normal size muffins and 18 mini muffins. I guarantee they'll get eaten eventually though.

Morning Glory Muffins
adapted from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon wheat bran
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
1 large egg
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons whole)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Daring Bakers.


When it was first announced that Morven had chosen Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake as the March Daring Bakers challenge I thought "Eeeeeeasy!"

I'm sure it was easy, and probably enjoyable for most of the DBs, but me... yeah, not me. I just suck at following directions. So when Dorie told me to layer raspberry jam and buttercream in between the cake layers, I listened. But then I couldn't stop. I was on a roll and put raspberry jam ON TOP of my cake. I did. Sigh.

Oh, and besides that, my buttercream wouldn't spread. Well it would spread but it took the jam with it which just turned the buttercream pink and made me cry a little. So I called in the husband because he puts floors in for a living so surely he could level out my pink buttercream.


At this point I has given up all hope. I was ready to start another cake but Spencer kept at it and eventually got it looking semi-normal. Even if it was pink.


(Shortly after he had fixed my screw ups Spencer said to me "Why didn't you just put the jam on one layer and the buttercream on another and smush them together?" Where was he with that advice when I really needed it?!)

We ended up taking the cake to Spencer's mom's for Easter and pretended it was supposed to be pink in honor of the holiday. Unfortunately, I married into a family of buttercream haters so this cake was not their favorite. And I understand, because I won't eat buttercream either. The cake part was really tasty though so I may try the recipe with a cream cheese frosting or something.

So thank you Morven for choosing this recipe and for indirectly teaching me that I need to follow instructions better from now on.

Go check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see what the cake is really supposed to look like. There are some gorgeous ones out there that made me want to try this cake one more time.


For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing

2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Chicken, mushroom, and goat cheese burrito.

I bought a jar of green salsa a week or so ago just because it was there. See, down here in southern Alabama we don't get "weird" food items very often so I take them whenever I can get them. I was dying to use the green salsa since I'd never had it before but I didn't want to just do boring tacos or anything like that.

Yesterday as I was going through my blog reader I found the perfect recipe over on Other People's Food. It was for a chicken, mushroom, and goat cheese burrito. Mmm. It's originally a Martha recipe which, of course, means it's amazing.


They were really good. And so filling! After half of one I was done. Spencer managed to eat four though.

Chicken, mushroom, and goat cheese burrito
from: Everyday Food

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed for less heat), minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces white button mushrooms, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 rotisserie chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin removed and meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
1 cup prepared green salsa, plus more for serving
6 burrito-size (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed (3 cups)
1 log (5 ounces) soft goat cheese, crumbled

In a large skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion and jalapeno; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cover, and cook until they begin to release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown and skillet is dry, about 5 minutes more.

Add chicken, corn, and salsa. Cook, stirring, until heated through and mixture is saucy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat tortillas according to package instructions. In center of each tortilla, layer spinach, chicken mixture, and goat cheese.

Wrap burritos one at a time: Fold side of tortilla closest to you over filling. Fold right and left sides toward center, and roll up. Halve if desired; serve with additional salsa.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Asleep.


Don't worry, we were parked.

For more Wordless Wednesday visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Cowboy Spaghetti.


I've been searching for canned fire-roasted tomatoes for a couple months now but, as with everything else, Alabama was slow to get them. I finally found some last week, bought a couple cans, and realized I had no idea what to do with them. I searched AllRecipes, Epicurious, Cooking Light and then I finally turned to Food Network because I knew Rachael Ray has about 476 recipes that call for fire-roasted tomatoes.

It's no secret that I'm not Rachael's biggest fan but this one had good reviews. It has bacon and cheese on top so I knew Spencer would like it. And I even had all the ingredients on hand.

We really enjoyed this one. . Spencer ate two huge bowls of it even after turning his nose up at the mention of Rachael's name. It made a ton of spaghetti so Spencer will be eating it tomorrow night and he's just fine with that.

Cowboy Spaghetti
adapted from Food Network

1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beer
1 (14-ounce) can, chopped or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce

Optional toppings: cooked crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions

Cook turkey and onion in olive oil until turkey is no longer pink and onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Season mixture with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Add 1/2 cup beer and deglaze pan. Cook 5 minutes before adding tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add cooked spaghetti to sauce and toss together. Garnish with optional toppings.

Tuesdays with Dorie.

It's Dorie time again!

This week Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon was up to bat. She chose Caramel-Topped Flan which is listed as a spoon desert in Dorie's book.

I've had very limited experiences with flan. By that I mean I saw a flan once. I took Spanish 2 in my freshman year of high school and we'd have "parties" every Friday where we were all supposed to bring in food and our teacher was free to roam around the hallways flirting with anyone who would flirt back. We had one kid from Puerto Rico in our class and he was always bringing in a traditional food, flan being one of them. Well after watching my classmates faces after they tried the flan I decided then and there that I would never in my life put flan in my mouth.

But Dorie's picture of the flan is just so gorgeous. I couldn't not make this. So I devised a plan to have people over the day I made it in order to push it off on them. They canceled. So I was left with all the flan. That night I flipped a flan out onto a plate and sat it down between Spencer and I. We stared at it for awhile but finally gave it a try.


It was quite possibly the best dessert either of us have ever had. I had no clue it was going to basically be a custard pie without the crust. And I love me some custard pie. Spencer even told me that he wants me to make it atleast a couple times a month, maybe once a week!

The recipe was really simple and it seems to be pretty much foolproof. I suck at reading directions so I, of course, screwed up. I ended up adding the heavy cream into the egg yolks before I realized it was supposed to boil with the milk. So the milk boiled on it's own. Everything seems to be fine though. Then again, I've never tried a flan so I wouldn't know the difference.

I suggest doubling the caramel sauce, especially if you're doing individual ones. I doubled it after reading the reviews on the TWD blog and it was the perfect amount.

I did have trouble actually making the caramel. I get scared so as soon as the caramel started changing colors I took it off the heat. So it just looks like yellow goo but it was still tasty. Next time I'll face my fear.

Now you must go check out all the other yumminess. I looked at a few first thing this morning and let me tell you... it made me wish I still had some flan sitting in the fridge. But sadly, we ate it all.

Caramel-Topped Flan
from Baking : From My Home To Yours

For the Caramel
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the Flan
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Put a metal 8-x-2-inch round cake pan-not a nonstick one-in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel.

To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.

To Make the Flan: Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don't worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas.


These are one of Spencer's favorites and it just occurred to me that I haven't posted about them.

We love Mexican food but it seems that we're always disappointed when we go out to a Mexican restaurant. Once I got my rice recipe perfected I started a search for the perfect enchilada recipe. This one is so good. It's not like the ones I normally find in Mexican restaurants but I prefer it. It's saucy and cheesy and you can add jalapenos or other peppers to bump up the spice.

Chicken Enchilads
adapted from All Recipes

2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 pint sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
8 (10 inch) whole wheat tortillas
1 (12 ounce) jar taco or enchilada sauce
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Over medium heat saute the onion. Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in chicken, salt, tomato sauce, chili powder, and garlic.

Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cheddar Dill Scones.


I have a horrible, horrible fear of fresh produce. I'm fine on the day I bring it home and even the next day, but after that I won't even touch it to put it in the garbage. But after my Greek-inspired meal the other night I had a mountain of dill that I didn't want to waste.

I remembered that episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina admits to being a liar. According to her she only had one type of scone in her bakery (a fruity one, I believe) but when I potential buyer inquired about other types of scones she lied to the poor man (err.. woman?) and told him/her about her cheddar dill scones. Luckily Ina's amazing and came up with a cheddar dill scone for this person.

So off I went. With my Target after Valentine's Day clearance cookie cutters. They're cute though, right?


They were everything I hoped for and more. The buttery taste was a bit overwhelming to me at first but after a couple (or ten) scones I got used to it and kind of love it now. These would be a great addition to any brunch and I'm really looking forward to making them again soon.

Cheddar Dill Scones
source: Food Network

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
1 cup minced fresh dill
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Playing With the Big Boys.




For more Wordless Wednesday check out 5 Minutes For Mom.

Tuesdays with Dorie.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenge was Brioche Raisin Snails chosen by the amazing Peabody. I, unfortunately, had to sit out.

I could list all my excuses. I could go into detail about Landon's pinkeye and the wonderful mood he's been in the past few days. Or I could tell you how Spencer took most of last week off and we spent that time doing family things. Or I could just tell you that I've been super bored with kitchen related projects lately.

But I'd just be making excuses.

My real reason is that I hate raisins. And last week's challenge had already pushed my limits when it comes to the little feet-smelling things. Sure I could've used one of the 5 bags of dried cranberries I have sitting in my pantry but even those are a little too raisin-like for me.

I'll be back next week though. I promise.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Greek Burgers and Pasta Salad.

I've been so uninspired lately. I've just been in a rut. A big, nasty, can't-come-up-with-anything-to-cook rut. I can't even tell you the last time I cooked anything new.

But last night, long after I had decided to just stick with Spencer's favorites this week, I was checking my blog reader and saw this post over at Culinary Infatuation. I wanted to make them immediately.


They were so good. Spencer bumped something off his "Top 10 Meals" list in order to make room for these. Yes, he keeps a running list of his favorite meals. I can't keep track of them but at any given moment he can name each one.

I didn't do the ground up pita shells though because my main man has pinkeye at the moment and spent most of the day in my arms. I'm sure it would make these burgers even better. I did stuff them with blue cheese though. I would've preferred feta but I ended up using all my feta for the side dish and I always have a ton of blue cheese in the fridge. Yum. And the tzatziki... amazing. And this is coming from someone who hates cucumbers.


I wanted a simple side to go along with the burgers and somehow decided that pasta salad would be perfect. I browsed a few recipes and finally came up with this. It turned out really good. Spencer didn't even put up a fight about the artichokes.

"Greek" Pasta Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon sugar

3 cups cooked pasta
1 jar drained artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup crumbled feta
3/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sliced green onions

Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, dried oregano, pepper, and sugar. Add pasta, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, feta, black olives, and green onions. Gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for atleast an hour before servings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pot Roast.


Since I'm not a fan of huge pieces of beef, I normally make my roasts in the crockpot. That way I don't feel like I wasted any time on a meal that isn't any good anyway. But last week I it occurred to me that maybe if I spent a little time working on a good roast recipe, I'd actually like it. Hmm.. brilliant or what?

So today we tried The Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast. Her recipes are just so fun. I think it's because I take my computer into the kitchen and try to make every step I do look exactly like Ree's pictures. And this time I even got to put a pot in the oven for for the first time ever.

It was exciting ya'll.


I'm sad to say that I still do not like huge pieces of beef. But I will say that this was the best pot roast I've tried. I think it was the rosemary. It made the apartment smell amazing and even though I couldn't taste it, I knew it was there.

Spencer loved it, of course. And shortly after cleaning his plate he started talking about the sandwiches he's going to have for dinner tomorrow. Bread, pot roast, and ketchup. Makes me a little sick just thinking about it but he loves them.

Thank you!


I want to thank Brooke of ...and a cookie for dessert for giving me the E for Excellent award. It's hard for me to believe that someone out there not only reads me blog, but enjoys it too. So thank you Brooke!

Now I shall search for other blogs to pass the award on to.

Tuesdays with Dorie.

It's Tuesdays with Dorie time again!

This week Natalie of Burned Bits chose Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake and for some reason I was dreading it. I don't like a lot of fruit and the only time I've ever liked apple pie was during my pregnancy. Luckily, we were allowed to use Dorie's "Playing Around" options which included turnovers.


I put off making my turnovers until yesterday because I assumed, without reading the recipe, that these turnovers were going to take all day and be really tough. They were so easy. The hardest and most time consuming part was waiting for my dough to come to room temperature since I let it sit in the fridge overnight.

For some reason I couldn't use all my apples. I peeled and chopped 10 apples like Dorie said and ended up throwing over half of them away. I used all of my dough and stuffed as much apple mixture as I could in them without tearing the dough so I'm not really sure what I did wrong. Maybe I should've chopped the apples smaller.


I think these are pretty amazing. Spencer thinks they don't have enough apple in them but I blame myself for that. Landon, however, gives them two thumbs up:


Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake

For The Dough

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon

3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples

10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)

Squirt of fresh lemon juice

1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenely across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wordless Wednesday.



Landon's Birthday Party.

Whew... the party is finally over and now, two days later, the house is finally clean. I, of course, put everything off until the last minute. I seem to think I work better under pressure but I've proven (once again...) that I'm wrong.

My first disaster of the day was The Case of the Missing Tomatoes. Landon and I got up early on Sunday and went to Winn Dixie for last minute shopping. I know I bought 4 tomatoes. I know this because it says so on my receipt. But I didn't come home with any tomatoes. So in the middle of prepping my avocado feta salsa I had to run to Bruno's.

I came back home, diced the tomatoes and then went to chop the avocados. I couldn't even get my knife to go through them. I knew they weren't super ripe when I bought them but I had no idea this was going to happen. I enlisted Spencer to help and his first cut went all the way through the avocado, cutting even the pit in half. Yeah, thanks for that. I tried to dig the pit out but just couldn't do it. Off to the store I went. Again.

The Fresh Market is our closest store. I spent $10 on three avocados! And I practically destroyed their bins trying to find the ripest ones. Thankfully those worked out for me.

On to the cakes... I got one cake done with no problems. I was all gung-ho about the second one. I figured that since I was using the exact same cake pan, nothing could go wrong. But as I went to flip it out, it completely tore in half. I cried. A lot. After that I gave up on my cute cake pan and threw together the french chocolate cake that I made not too long ago.

When our first guests arrived Landon was in the bathtub, I was sitting next to him straightening my hair, and Spencer was icing the impromptu cake.

And to top everything off, our air conditioner chose that very moment to stop working. Ya'll, March is practically summer in Alabama. And with the oven going. It was HOT.

Oh, and Landon didn't nap at all that day.


That's the cake that actually turned out. The party was football themed so I was super excited when I found out that Wilton makes a football cake pan. Spencer did the decorating of the cake and he was very proud of himself.

I did a plain yellow cake that I found over at Blonde Ambition and cut the football in half to make it layered.

Chocolate Buttercream

1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together butter and cocoa powder. Beat in powdered sugar and milk alternately until you reach desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.


This is the only food picture I managed to take. We had a ton more. The big hit of the day was the sweet lil' smokies from Amber's Delectable Delights. I think I made close to 50 of them and we had 4 left in the end, all of which got shoved in my mouth as soon as everyone was gone.

I also made spicy roasted chicken legs from The Pioneer Woman. They didn't make it into the picture because I believe my grandfather was hoarding them. He loved them. And he's a picky man.

My favorite buffalo chicken dip also made an appearance but for some reason it didn't go over well. It's okay though. I've got it in the fridge waiting for me.

The flat red thing is a "cheeseball" that my mom made. My dad told her it looked like a meatloaf when they were driving over and she wasn't happy with him.

This cheeseball was always my favorite growing up and after my dad dropped it at one of my birthday parties it became known as "Cheese-on-the-Floor" among my family. A few years later my college roommate and I started referring to it as "that thing we lived on during a week long drunkfest".


8 ounces shredded cheddar
8 ounces shredded monterey jack
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
pecans (a cup or so, finally diced)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
strawberry jam

Mix all ingredients except strawberry jam. Form into ball (or whatever shape you like). Spread strawberry jam over top.

Avocado Feta Salsa

1 avocado, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces feta

Toss together avocado, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and parsley. Gently stir in red wine vinegar and olive oil. Stir in feta. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.


Once everything was finally done the party ended up being a lot of fun. Landon walked from person to person the whole time and I think he enjoyed himself even though he was obviously exhausted by the end of it. He got way too many toys and a lot of practical things that I was more excited about. I still can't believe my baby is one though.


Tuesdays with Dorie.

Amidst all the craziness that was last week I managed to take some time out to do my Tuesdays with Dorie baking. Lucky for me it was a quick and easy one.

Erin of Dinner & Dessert was given the opportunity to choose this week's recipe and she chose Snickery Squares.


I'm not a big candy bar fan, or really chocolate in general, but I figured I could manage a little chocolate if it included dulce de leche and caramelized peanuts. The recipe also called for a shortbread crust and anyone who knows me know that I love some shortbread. A few months ago I think I was making a batch of shortbread cookies every other day!

Jarred dulce de leche is nowhere to be found in good ol' Mobile, so I used this recipe. I don't know if it's just my oven or what but I had to leave it in for almost 3 hours to get it to a good color. It was quite tasty though and well worth the wait.

Overall the squares were okay. I think there was too much chocolate. I mean, 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in an 8 x 8 pan in a lot! Especially for someone who doesn't like chocolate, especially the bitter kind. Bleh. I ended up pulling the chocolate off the piece I tried so I could eat the center and crust. Both of those were amazingly yummy.

Snickery Squares

For the Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling:

½ cup sugar
3 TBSP water
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche

For the Topping:

7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Getting Ready:

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:

Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.
When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.
Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.

To Make the Topping:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.
Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Cut into 16 bars.

I haven't looked at next week's recipe yet but I'm thinking it doesn't have chocolate in it. I can't wait to get started on it.

If you want to see the other Snickery Squares that were made hop on over the the TWD Blogroll.