I confess: today is not Tuesday and this is not a Tuesdays with Dorie entry. I saw this recipe for cranberry upside down cake on another food blog a few weeks ago and immediately wanted to make it because it was so beautiful! I really should have waited because eventually this cake will be chosen in the TWD recipe rotation and I'll get to make it. I couldn't though. Not when I had all of the ingredients on hand and such a beautiful cake staring up at me from the pages of Dorie's book. Besides, Dorie provides a variation on this cake in the recipe (summery peach upside-downer!) so perhaps I'll make that version when this recipe rolls around!
I've really come to enjoy single layer cakes. They're so much less work than elaborate layer cakes and most of the time, they're just as lovely. This one is no exception. I love that you're able to skip the step of buttering the cake pan and lining it with parchment since the melted butter and sugar serve as the base. I also enjoyed that you remove the cake from the pan immediately after taking it out of the oven (I'm not very patient and all that time cooling things on racks makes me anxious). I was worried, but my cake released beautifully from the pan and sort of looked like Dorie's! I gave the cake away so I didn't try a slice but I did pick at a few of the berries and nuts that stuck in the pan and they were delicious. The cake received rave reviews and someone even requested the recipe, which speaks volumes about the success of this cake I think! So if you have frozen cranberries sitting in your freezer I definitely recommend using some of them to try this cake.
Cranberry Upside Downer
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (as seen on Proceed with Caution)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups cranberries - fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing the cake
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Put an 8-x-2 inch round cake pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter over the nuts and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down gently with your fingertips. (If frozen berries cause the butter to congeal, don’t worry - everything will melt in the oven.) Set aside.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan-as they might-just scrape them off with a table knife and return them to the cake.
Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave oven. Gently brush the glaze over the hot cake.
This week's TWD was chosen by Whitney of What's Left on the Table?: caramel crunch bars! To be honest, I've flipped through Dorie's book many, many times, but these bars never captured my attention the way some of her other photos do. That said, they sounded delicious when I read the recipe and I was excited to try them!
Best part about these bars? Definitely how quickly they can be put together and thrown in the oven. That said, the dough is a bit tricky to spread in the bottom of the pan because it's quite sticky. I stuck my pan in the fridge for a few minutes and that did the trick. I loved how easy it was to spread the chocolate over the base after melting it briefly in the oven. I've never used that technique before but I can definitely see myself using it on bar cookies in the future.
Unfortunately, these just weren't one of my favorite recipes from Dorie. I used bittersweet chocolate and I'm sure that was a big part of the problem. I don't typically enjoy bittersweet chocolate and I found that the chocolate overwhelmed the other flavors for me. No worries, though - my mom will be taking them into work tomorrow and I have no doubt that they'll disappear quickly.
Thanks to Whitney for her pick this week! You can find the recipe for these bars on her blog. This recipe was a favorite of many of the TWD bakers so it's definitely worth a shot! Head over to TWD to check out the other bakers' bars.
For the past month or so, I've been making Shane cupcakes to bring to work on Fridays. It's a challenge to come up with new ideas every week, particularly because I'm somewhat limited by Shane's picky palate. I always try to make something that will be enjoyed by not only his coworkers, but also by him! I wish I could remember where I first saw the idea for s'more cupcakes but my memory fails me. I do know that once I saw them, I started scouring the internet for a recipe that really spoke to me. The one I went with, from This Little Piggy, looked like a great recipe, with all of the components I wanted as well as step by step directions and photos. The recipe has a few components and does take some time, but each individual component is simple and very manageable. And I should add, well worth the effort! I think this is one of my favorite things that I've ever baked. I LOVED these! You can really taste each of the components and together, they combine to create a cupcake that really does taste like a s'more!
Just a quick note on the recipe: I wound up with more of everything than I needed from the graham cracker base to the cupcakes and the frosting. The worst offender was the cupcake batter. I filled all 24 muffin tins as well as a 4 inch springform pan and still had leftover batter. I'm wary to advise halving the recipe as that might not be enough to fill the tins, but be forewarned that you will have extra batter if you make the full recipe. The batter makes a delicious cake so next time I'll just have a bigger cake pan ready to go so I can use all of that extra batter up!
from This Little Piggy
Graham Cracker Base
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large Hershey's bar, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Mix to ensure all graham cracker crumbs are moistened. Add about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of the mixture into the bottom of each paper-lined cup. Pat the mixture down to form a "crust" (a shot glass is an excellent tool for pressing the crust in!). Top each crust with a bit of the chopped chocolate.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water
In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk together. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and water). Add the combined wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine until smooth.
Top the graham cracker base and chopped chocolate with the cupcake batter. Fill each tin about three-quarters full. If you have graham cracker base remaining, sprinkle some over the top of each cupcake before they go in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242 F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.
When the syrup is at about 235 F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour the hot syrup between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable - don't try to scrape them into the egg whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting.
Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it's really better to use it right away. Using a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with one corner cut off, pipe the marshmallow frosting onto the top of each cupcake. If desired, use a kitchen torch to brown the frosting a bit. Once the frosting sets, you'll have a slightly crisp exterior with a soft, fluffy interior!
We always buy ground turkey and we tend to use it to make the same few meals repeatedly. I was in the mood for something new recently so I checked a few of my favorite sites for ideas. I found this recipe on Everyday Food. I really like their recipes because they are generally pretty quick and easy, using mainly ingredients that I tend to have on hand. I did change this one up a bit though. I subbed ground turkey for the ground pork and left the zucchini out. It was risky enough that I included the onion but I knew if I also added zucchini Shane would not be eating these. Fortunately, the onion pieces were small so he didn't complain. He actually really enjoyed these. I erred on the side of caution and only used 1 chile because I didn't want the sauce too spicy. It turned out well - it had a little kick but not overwheming heat.
Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce
from Everyday Food
In a medium bowl, combine pork, onion, zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well with a fork. Form into 16 (2-inch) balls; transfer to a plate, and place in freezer until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and chiles in a blender; process until smooth, and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook until brown, turning often, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add pureed sauce and return all meatballs to skillet. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro, as desired.
Whenever I watch the Barefoot Contessa and she makes something with chicken stock she is always quick to point out that "homemade is better". She seems to have an endless supply of homemade chicken stock in her home. I decided that I needed to see what all the fuss was about so I've been dutifully saving my chicken parts in the freezer for a while. I went with a recipe from a cookbook I received for Christmas, Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. I love this cookbook because when it tries to teach you something it includes step-by-step photographs so there's no guesswork. When you read an instruction you don't understand, there's often an accompanying photo to clarify. It was mainly for this reason that I went with this recipe to make my chicken stock.
Having now made my chicken stock, I can definitely see why people do it! It really is easy and it does make a difference when it comes to taste. I made the mistake of trying to substitute coffee filters for the cheesecloth. I don't recommend trying that and I can say for certain that I'll be purchasing a cheesecloth before I make stock again. If you've never made chicken stock, I definitely suggest giving it a shot. It's a good activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon since it does take some time.
Homemade Chicken Stock
from Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook
5 lbs assorted chicken parts (backs, necks and wings)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 to 2 inch lengths
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1 to 2 inch lengths
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place chicken parts in a stockpot just large enough to hold them with about 3 inches of room above (an 8 quart stockpot should do) and add enough water to cover by 1 inch (about 3 quarts). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, using a ladle to skim impurities and fat that rise to the top.
Add vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns and reduce heat to a bare simmer (bubbles should just gently break the surface). Cook, skimming frequently, for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (depending on taste preference - the longer the stock is simmered, the stronger it will taste).
Pass the stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large heatproof measuring cup or another bowl or pot. Do not press on the solids. Discard solids.
Skim off fat if using immediately, or let cool completely (in an ice bath, if desired) before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours to allow the fat to accumulate at the top; lift off and discard fat before using or storing stock. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.
One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a cast iron skillet. I've been wanting one for a while so it was very exciting to receive it! Only problem? I wasn't sure exactly what I should make in it. I had some basic ideas, but I knew I wasn't familiar with the broad range of uses it had. So, I started browsing some cookbooks on Amazon and found The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, which had great reviews and looked like a good overview for me. Luckily, my library had the book and I was able to borrow it recently.
I knew I wanted to start with something basic and this recipe for a Dutch baby couldn't be more simple. It only has 4 ingredients and comes together in seconds. I've never seen or tried a Dutch baby though, which made this interesting. I didn't know what it should look like or taste like when it was finished. I followed the directions and took it out of the oven when it looked golden and had puffed up. It deflated almost immediately but based on some quick internet searches, that appears to be normal. The recipe clarifies the butter before drizzling it over the pancake, but I probably wouldn't bother with that step when I make this again. I made this on the morning of Valentine's Day and we enjoyed it quite a bit! I'm not sure I like it more than traditional pancakes or french toast, but it's such an easy recipe to throw together that I know we'll make it again.
from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis & Julie Kramis Hearne
2 tablespoons butter
4 extra large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over low heat. Mix the eggs, flour and milk in a blender on medium speed until just blended, 5 to 10 seconds. Pour the batter into the skillet with the melted butter.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the top puffs up and is lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
To clarify the butter for the topping, melt it over low heat in a small saucepan. Skim off and discard the foam. Remove from the heat and let stand until the solids settle, about 5 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a glass measuring cup.
When the Dutch baby is done, drizzle the clarified butter over the top, then sprinkle with the lemon juice and dust with the powdered sugar. Cut into six wedges and serve immediately.
This week's TWD was chosen by Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater: devil's food white out cake! This is the cake on the cover of Dorie's book and it looks both gorgeous and delicious! I know many of us wanted to make it the minute we got the book. I did, in fact, make this cake before I joined TWD and was pretty successful. It's such a delicious cake that I had no qualms about making it again. That said, I put it off until the absolute last minute and almost didn't finish. Hence this post barely making it under the wire, the lack of photos and the awful lighting...
There are many things to love about this cake but here are a few of my favorites:
1. It's chocolate.
2. The chocolate chips added to the batter at the last minute. I LOVE the texture they add to the cake. Surprisingly, I didn't think it was chocolate overkill, which does sometimes happen to me (for example, with chocolate chocolate chip cookies).
3. The frosting. So much to love about this frosting. First, it's so light and fluffy. It pairs wonderfully with the chocolate cake. Second, it's so much easier to justify eating over a buttercream (or some other frosting with 3 sticks of butter). Finally, I didn't have to worry about frosting the cake perfectly because it was going to be covered with crumbs from the cake anyway! A big part of the stress of a layer cake for me is trying to frost the cake in such a way that it doesn't look completely awful.
Many thanks to Stephanie for choosing this cake. Check out the recipe on her blog and, as always, head over to TWD if you'd like to see how the other cakes turned out!
I've recently added this new blog to my Google Reader. I was browsing through older recipes on the site when I discovered that Nicole had many recipes for homemade girl scout cookies. I love samoas so I decided immediately to give these a shot. The site contains recipes for both cookies and bars but I went with the bars since it eliminated the step of rolling out the dough and cutting out individual cookies.
These were fairly easy to make though there are several steps in the process. I had a few issues, though. The shortbread base was quite crumbly for me. As I cut the cooled and topped bars, the base was crumbling everywhere. That resulted in the bars looking sort of messy. Also, I found it difficult to dip the bars in the chocolate. It was very messy and the shortbread continued to crumble even in the chocolate. As a result, I wound up with a fairly thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the bars. I think next time I would try to spread a layer of chocolate on top of the cookie base before adding the coconut/caramel on top. Despite these issues, the bars were really good! They have all of the flavors of the samoa cookies and, in my opinion, it's a perfect combination of flavors!
Homemade Samoas Bars
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 300 F. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a pizza cutter.
Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. (Alternatively, you could melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I did it that way, which kept the chocolate warm and made it easier to dip all of the bars.) Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
Makes 30 bar cookies.
These cupcakes were posted on The Pioneer Woman's website recently and I decided they'd be a perfect treat to send to work with Shane on Friday for Valentine's Day! Plus, I'd picked up some really cute Valentine's Day paper liners at Target that I wanted to use. I wanted to do mini cupcakes so I started with my mini-muffin pan, which makes 24 mini muffins. Then I put the rest of the batter into a regular cupcake pan and got about 7 cupcakes. It was actually Shane's idea to add a little conversation heart to the top of each cupcake and they really looked cute when I'd finished. The cupcakes themselves were good, but not my favorite. The batter, though, that's another story. I could have eaten the whole bowl.
Yellow Cupcakes with Sticky Chocolate Icing
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing for about a minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Next, add the sifted dry ingredients and the milk alternately in 3 additions each (starting with dry ingredients and ending with milk), mixing for a few seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix one final time.
Fill paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes. The cupcakes should be poufy but not brown. Cool completely before icing.
Makes about 14 cupcakes.
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 oz semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
Mix ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Melt ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring gently. Icing is ready when all ingredients are melted and combined.
Spoon warm icing over cooled cupcakes. Stir icing to smooth after every third cupcake or so. Allow iced cupcakes to sit at least 10 minutes before serving.
Have I mentioned how much I love The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook? If not, I really, really love it. One of my tests for a good cookbook is whether I feel confident that no matter which of its recipes I choose, the results will be delicious and I absolutely feel that way about this cookbook. I don't own it but I had borrowed it from my library and loved browsing through. I had picked this recipe as one I wanted to try before the book was due. I am, however, a terrible procrastinator. I wound up keeping the book an extra day and paying the $.10 late fee just so I could make this recipe! Fortunately, it was worth it! These meatballs were perfect. Shane has already requested that I make them again soon so I know he was a fan! The bread/buttermilk paste keeps them extremely moist, which is especially important since I was making them with ground turkey, which can definitely dry out. The recipe can also be made with a combination of beef and pork.
from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
2 slices high quality white sandwich bread
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
4 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)
Remove and discard the crusts from the slices of sandwich bread. Tear the slices of bread into small pieces and add to them a medium bowl along with the buttermilk. Using a fork, create a paste by mashing the bread and buttermilk together.
Add the ground turkey, cheese, parsley, yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to the bowl with the buttermilk/bread paste. Stir gently until combined. Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs (about 14). Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (If you skip this step, the meatballs aren't likely to hold their shape when cooked.)
Pour vegetable oil into a 12-inch skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs to the skillet and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and discard the oil.
Place the skillet with any browned bits over medium heat and add the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and scrape up browned bits. Reduce heat to low and add meatballs. Continue to simmer, turning meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve with pasta.
Quick Tomato Sauce
from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Cook the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. (Be careful, the first time I did this, the garlic went from fragrant to burnt VERY quickly.) Stir in both cans of tomatoes along with their juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes.
Stir in basil and sugar. Season with salt to taste.
Makes 4 cups.
I love spanakopita. It reminds me of weddings because I'm pretty sure that's the only place I've ever had it. I've been wanting to try to make it for quite some time but I always chicken out because I'm still a bit nervous about working with phyllo. This past weekend I finally decided to give it a shot. I was the only one eating them so I figured if they were a complete disaster at least I wouldn't be inflicting them on company. And on the plus side, if they turned out well they'd be a great appetizer to serve the next time we have company!
I decided to adapt just slightly a very basic spanakopita recipe from my Weight Watchers cookbook. The original recipe called for just the egg white and also included scallions and dill. I decided to use the whole egg and added nutmeg instead of dill. I didn't have scallions on hand so those were left out too. In the end, one of the best things about this recipe is how forgiving it is. My phyllo was not cooperative and I wound up using several sheets with big holes/tears in them. Luckily, in the process of folding the phyllo up like flags, the holes became a non-issue. I couldn't wait to try one when they came out of the oven and I was not disappointed! These were wonderful! The phyllo was so flaky and the filling was perfect! I think the only change I'd make next time is to dust the folded triangles with some parmesan cheese before baking them.
adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook by Weight Watchers
1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 (12 x 17) sheets phyllo dough, room temperature
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Press the spinach between layers of paper towels to remove any excess moisture (if the spinach is too wet the phyllo will be soggy). In a medium bowl, mash the cheese with a fork. Add the spinach, egg, pepper and nutmeg; stir together until combined.
Set the stack of phyllo sheets to one side; keep covered with a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap and a damp towel on top as you work. Lay 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise on your work surface and brush the sheet lightly with the olive oil. Top with another sheet and brush lightly with oil. Cut crosswise into 4 even strips. Place a scant tablespoon of the spinach mixture at the end of each strip. Fold one corner up over the filling, then continue folding in a flag fashion, to form a triangle.
Place the folded triangle on the baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining phyllo sheets to make 16 triangles. (I kept the folded triangles on the baking sheet covered while I assembled the remaining triangles.) Brush the tops of the triangles lightly with any remaining oil.
Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. The spanakopita can be baked up to 3 hours in advance and then reheated in a 375 F oven until crisp, about 8 minutes.
This week's TWD was chosen by Shari of Whisk: a food blog: floating islands! This is a French dessert which consists of soft poached meringue puffs floating in a smooth creme anglaise. I've never heard of this dessert and, to be completely honest, I probably would not have tried it if not for TWD. What can I say....I'm just not adventurous with my desserts :)
I started off making the creme anglaise for the dessert as Dorie says it's better if it sits overnight in the fridge. Creme anglaise is a custard and I didn't have any problem making it as it is also a base for ice cream and I've made plenty of ice cream since buying my ice cream maker this summer. The next day I worked on the meringues (the islands!). I'm always amazed at what can be made with just egg whites and sugar! These were easy too though I definitely didn't have any luck getting my islands to look as pretty as Dorie's. I ended up deciding to use my ice cream scoop to shape them. Finally, Dorie recommends caramelized sugar strands as a decoration for the dessert. Though my last attempt at making caramel was not successful, I decided to try it again. And I failed. I don't know what happened but I didn't have the desire to try again so I topped my floating islands with some chocolate sauce we had in the fridge.
My instinct that I probably wouldn't enjoy these was right on. I'm not a huge fan of meringue and I also discovered that I don't love creme anglaise either. That said, I still want to thank Shari for her pick! I'm happy to say I tried these even if they weren't my favorite dessert. You can find the recipe on Shari's blog and you can see all of the other floating islands over at TWD.
We eat a lot of chicken and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it. This recipe has been making the rounds on food blogs and it looked so easy I decided to give it a try. I have to confess that I've never tried the Laughing Cow cheeses prior to making this recipe but now I'm a convert. They're relatively healthy (1 wedge of the light garlic and herb has only 35 calories) and quite good. The chicken stayed moist and the cheese was creamy. This will definitely be a go-to recipe for us. In fact, we're already planning to make it again this week.
Laughing Cow Chicken
from Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin to about 1/4-inch thickness
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
dash dried parsley flakes
dash grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Lay each chicken breast flat. Spread 1 wedge of cheese evenly over one side of each piece of chicken. Roll them up and seal each with toothpicks.
Meanwhile, mix together the bread crumbs, parsley flakes, and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Spray the chicken rolls with cooking spray and dredge them in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, and then broil until crust is golden brown. Remove toothpicks and serve.
We went to a small birthday get-together this weekend and I brought this cake to share with everyone. I wish I could have made a more complex layer cake, but I'm not brave enough to transport one (especially since we were driving almost an hour). So I turned to this cake, which I think is a really simple, yet elegant, dessert. It doesn't require a mixer and even better (in my opinion) no need to bring any ingredients to room temperature. I hate when I'm planning to make a recipe and re-read it only to discover that I need to bring many of the ingredients to room temperature. I know I could solve this problem by planning ahead, but I rarely do that. In any event, this cake was yummy but I do think it was a little overcooked. It was a bit darker and perhaps a bit less moist than I would have liked. Next time I'll keep an eye on it as it gets closer to being finished.
Spiced Carrot Cake
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
1 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 cup finely shredded packed (about 2 medium) carrots
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush an 8-inch round cake pan with oil. Place a round of waxed or parchment paper in the bottom; brush with oil, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cardamom, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugars, yogurt, and oil until smooth. Gently mix egg mixture into dry ingredients until moistened; mix in carrots. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes (if browning too quickly, tent cake with aluminum foil). Cool in pan, 15 minutes. Turn out of pan, remove paper, and cool completely on a rack, right side up. Apply glaze (to make the glaze simply combine confectioners' sugar with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water, until the glaze is thick and smooth), or dust with confectioners’ sugar.
I was inspired to make these cupcakes by this month's issue of Martha Stewart Living. The cover photo is a beautiful arrangement of mini cupcakes with multicolored frosting and there are 15 cupcake recipes in the issue! So many of them looked delicious but I went with these basic chocolate chip cupcakes first because I had the ingredients on hand.
I halved the cupcake recipe and it made 12 regular size cupcakes plus about 10 mini cupcakes. Mini cupcakes are so cute! I also used mini chips instead of regular semisweet chips because I thought the regular size chips would be overwhelming, particularly in the frosting. Speaking of the frosting, I made a third of the below recipe and it was just enough to frost all of my cupcakes. Frosting the cupcakes was a bit tricky because it didn't spread easily with the chips in it but I made it work. Shane took these to work today and they were very popular. We kept a few of the minis at home for us. I really like them. They've got just enough chocolate chips and have a great, fluffy texture inside.
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Frosting
from Martha Stewart Living, February 2009
3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)
Makes 30 cupcakes
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)
Makes about 5 cups frosting
To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffins tins with paper liners.
Whisk the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. While the butter and sugar cream, combine the milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the wet ingredients and ending with the dry. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then fold them into the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 22 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
To make the frosting: Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Fold chocolate chips into buttercream. Use immediately to frost the cupcakes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Earlier this week I found myself with a whole chicken that needed to be cooked. I really didn't want to simply roast it so I thought about what else I could do. Not too long ago I'd seen the Barefoot Contessa use a whole chicken to make this oven-fried chicken so I thought I'd give it a shot. The name "oven-fried chicken" is a bit deceiving as the chicken is first quickly deep fried before being placed in the oven to finish cooking. I guess it's probably still a bit more healthy than if the only method of cooking was frying.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in making this recipe is that I'm a terrible butcher. It took me forever to get this chicken cut up and, when I'd finished, some of the pieces didn't look quite right (mainly the breasts, which were particularly tricky). Another time-consuming task was frying the chicken. I could only fit a couple of pieces of chicken in the pot at one time so I had to do quite a few batches. When you consider the initial time waiting for the oil to climb to 360 F plus the actual frying time of each batch as well as the time I had to wait for the oil to climb back up to temperature after each batch....well, let's just say I'm not the most patient person. In the end, the chicken was delicious (even as leftovers as we reheated a few pieces for dinner tonight). It's crispy on the outside and very moist on the inside. I probably wouldn't make it again unless we invested in a deep fryer, but only because I'm far too impatient, not because the recipe isn't great. Also, I haven't figured out a good solution for disposing of the oil so I really try not to fry too often.
2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 F on a thermometer.
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.
This week's TWD was chosen by Jessica of Cookbookhabit: world peace cookies! I already made these cookies in December to include in one of the cookie trays I put together for Christmas. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cookies but these were great! They were also the first cookies to disappear from my cookie tray so I know everyone else enjoyed them too! One of my favorite things about these cookies is that you can make the dough and stash it in your freezer so when a craving hits you can slice and bake a few cookies in no time.
Many thanks to Jessica for choosing these cookies, which I'm sure will be a big hit with the rest of the TWD bakers. You can find the recipe on her blog and definitely check out TWD to see what everyone thought about the world peace cookies!
We hosted a small get together for the Super Bowl this weekend and there was plenty of food to go around! When I thought about what kind of sweet treat I could make, I decided brownies would be just right. I've heard so many good things about Ina's brownies and I just recently saw her make them on Barefoot Contessa so they were fresh in my mind.
This is a simple recipe and comes together quickly. Melting the butter and chocolate in the double boiler is the only step that takes any time at all. I halved this recipe since we were only having a few people over and baked it in a 13 x 9 pan. Also, since we don't do nuts, I substituted some peanut butter chips for the walnuts. For some reason my brownies took almost 50 minutes to bake, instead of the 30 Ina suggests. I was worried the outside edges (which were done long before the center) would be overcooked but I didn't think that was the case. These are quite rich, but really delicious! I used instant espresso powder and thought there were definitely hints of coffee flavor, but it wasn't overwhelming. We have a few left over which I know I'll be enjoying this week!
Ina's Outrageous Brownies
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.