Thursday, February 28, 2013

Toasted Coconut M&M Skillet Cookie

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking you're going to just tra-la-la over my little commentary and jump straight to the recipe.  I've got you alllll figured out.  Oh, but I do it too.  Because let's face follow a food blog for, well...the food.   You could care less about what happens inbetween the picture and the ingredients.  Ditto.  In fact, I very very rarely read a full blog post on any blog I follow (yes, guilty as charged).   So today I'm letting you off the hook.  All you're getting is a recipe.  No blahblahblah on my end.  Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut M&M Skillet Cookie

Makes 1 (8-inch) skillet (I purchased a small skillet too now!  Double the recipe for 10-12 inch skillet!)

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg yolk (or white!  Just use half an egg)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup mini m&m's

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lay coconut on a baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes, checking periodically, until lightly browned.  Be very careful not to burn!  Remove from oven and let cool.

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Cream together the butter and sugars.  Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.  Combine the flours, soda, and salt and stir into creamed mixture.  Fold in toasted coconut.

Pour batter into greased 8-inch cast iron skillet and sprinkle with mini m&m's.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until center is slightly set. 

Chelsea Original :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hot Fudge Chocolate Cakes

Consider me a domestic diva.

And I live with Mr. Fix-It.

I'd say we play our gender roles appropriately.  The decorating, organizing, laundry, and cooking?  Right up my alley (well, the laundry part might be a bit of a stretch).  All things car, technology and tool?  All Nathan.  Let's go deeper:  A couple of weeks ago I was about to toss out a bad can opener.  Nope!  Not until it's taken apart and put back together!  Here's another one: We were eating lunch out the other day and it was noticed that the restaurant's entry door didn't close properly.  This was then the project during our meal.  I was perfectly content propping my feet up on his chair, sipping tea, and browsing email on my phone.  One more:  during a recent oil change, the mechanic informed me of a $300 service that needed to be done (surprise, surprise).  I was instructed to come home where it is now being done for the combined total of twenty-six bucks.  Gotta love free labor.  (I pay in the form of sugar and butter).

So while I make ooey gooey chocolate cake, Nathan unclogs dirty, hairy sink (there's my orange bobby pin!) It works out nicely. 

ps this cake is much more exciting than Kristen Stewart at the Oscars.

Hot Fudge Chocolate Cakes

Serves 4

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup hot tap water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 6 tablespoons of sugar.  Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into 4 individual ramekins or ceramic tartlet pans (alternatively, you can pour the whole thing in a 9x5 loaf pan). 

In a separate, small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/4 cup sugar, and brown sugar.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in each of the ramekins.  Pour hot tap water over all (3 tablespoons each).  Do not stir!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes of until the center is set.  Serve warm and with ice cream, if you've got it!

Adapted from Becky Bakes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Grandma Audrey's Spaghetti Sauce

Let's talk about love.

Did someone make you feel extra special on Thursday?  I was greeted with a bouquet of flowers, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a big smile when I got home from work that day.  I don't need no over-the-top jewelry or mass-load of helium-induced mylar or a big-as-a-person stuffed bear.  Ten bucks is all it takes and I'm a happy girl.  (ps I was also informed that Friday was something along the lines of National Lonely Singles Eat-Your-Heart-Out on Discounted Candy Day.  Oh but I browsed those clearance candy racks too, as always!).

Our meal that night consisted of this sauce, made with love from my Grandma Audrey's little kitchen and now made with love from mine. 

Growing up she was sure to visit us frequently, making the 12-hour trek from Minnesota to Oklahoma with a big batch of marinara in tow.  She'd unload the big black suitcase from her trunk and two things were sure to follow:  a variety pack of mini cereal boxes (oh my grandmahowiloveyou...despite the time I angrily threw your bra over the stairs and the sneaky tickling I did atop your curly hair while your lounged in the family room in the evening.  No there wasn't a draft in there.  It was me.) and a large white bucket of sweet Italian sausage-filled red sauce.  I then eagerly awaited the night that sauce was to be warmed on the stove and sure to fill our tummies during her week-long stay. 

So now it was my turn to make it...and spread a little of my (and Grandma's) love.

Grandma Audrey's Spaghetti Sauce

Makes a large batch (10 servings?)- just make a whole batch and freeze the leftovers.  Trust me.

1 pound sweet Italian sausage links*
1 pound country-style ribs (or pork neck bones, if you prefer)*
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
6 ounces water
6 ounces dry red wine
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Cut the sausages and ribs in 2-3 inch lengths.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven and brown the sausages on all sides over medium heat.  Remove to a bowl and brown the ribs or neck bones.  Transfer to bowl with the sausages.  This will take about 10 minutes.

After removing the sausages and ribs, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan (don't drain the juices from the meat!).  Saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned, stirring constantly.  Add the whole tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon.  Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir well.  Fill the tomato paste can halfway up with water (6 ounces), stirring to release any paste left on the bottom and sides.  Add to the sauce, and add half a can or more (6 ounces) of dry red wine. 

Add parsley, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper and red pepper.  Mix well and return the browned meat and any juices to the pan.

Bring the sauce to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 4 hours, stirring occasionally, being careful the sauce does not burn on the bottom of the pan.  The long cooking time not only develops the flavor but also breaks up the ribs.  Toward the end of cooking time, taste and adjust the seasonings and add a bit more wine or water if the sauce is too thick.  Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.

*The meat is a MUST.  It's what makes this sauce so amazing.  Do it.

Adapted from Grandma Audrey (and Uncle Frank!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Red Velvet Marble Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I love bundts.

And Target and chicklit and sausage-topped pizza and sparkly flower earrings and Nathan.

The bundt thing though- that's a new one.  For the last nine months I hated them.  Feared them.  I cursed them from my baking repertoire last spring when my beloved orange strawberry bundt broke in half.  (Disclaimer: no flavors were harmed in the baking of said cake).

But in honor of all things valentine, I faced the bundt yet again, red velvet style, and we fell in love.  Cake pan's got some competition.  So easy, so quick, so delicious, with a slight chocolate flavor and a tangy cream cheese swirl.  And she's a beauty, too, making dark spots and fine lines look gooood. 

Red Velvet Marble Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Makes one 6-cup bundt cake (double recipe for 10 to 12-cup bundt cake)

3/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Red food coloring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees . Use butter to generously grease a 6-cup bundt cake pan.

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar for about 5 minutes or until very light and fluffy.  Stir in the extract.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and the eggs alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, adding one egg at a time and small portions of flour. Do not over-mix!

Divide the batter in half.  In one half mix in 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and several drops of red food coloring until well-blended and desired "redness" is reached.

Pour half of red batter into the prepared pan.  Top with all of the white batter, and then add the remaining half of red batter last.  Gently swirl with a knife throughout the pan for a marbled effect. 

Bake at 325 degrees  for 40-45 minutes (70-75 minutes for large bundt) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from The Baker Chick.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mom's Waldorf Salad

Let's talk traditions.

Like the one where your brother chooses the same italian restaurant year after year for his birthday.  Or the one where you bake the usual tried and true cookies with your mom and sister every Christmas.  Or the one where you and your fiance grill up a different type of burger every Sunday night during the summer.  Or the one where every time your mom cooked up her homemade chili, there was sure to be a Waldorf salad on the table that night.  And some hot and flaky popovers.  Or is all that just me?

Over the holidays my mom had a little surprise in store for the ladies in the house.  Each of us were presented with a cute Susan Branch recipe binder with which we are to fill with sweet treats and savory dishes that we share with one another.  A family cookbook, of sorts. 

This recipe was the first to go in.  Followed by my dad's famous football dip and my future sister-in-law's crazy good chocolate chip cookies.  And I'm not stopping there- my brother's challah and my sister's stuffed pasta shells are next on the list.  Gotta love family stuff.

Mom's Walforf Salad

Serves 2 (when my mom emailed the recipe to me she was sweet enough to accommodate the measurements for my blog)

1 apple
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup raisins
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of maraschino cherry juice (you can substitute 1 teaspoon sugar)

Core and dice the apples into bite-size pieces.  In a bowl, combine the apple, celery, walnuts and raisins. 

In a small separate bowl, mix mayo with a little cherry juice (or sugar).  Pour over apple mixture and toss gently to serve. 

Adapted from my mom.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Some things I did last week:

Played hookie from work.  Yup, called in for a Me Day- took a nap, watched The Bachelor (don't hate), wasted some time on the internet, took a long walk with Nathan and the dogs, and finished the day off with some gnocci for dinner and a movie.  Perfect.

Cleaned out the fridge...the day after trash day, then missed trash pick up when it finally rolled around this week, so now we get to have one heckuva stinky trash bin for another seven days.  Yummy.

Washed our everyday placemats in the washing machine and ended up shrinking them about two and a half inches.

Ate these leftovers.

Started reading a new book.  December's book ended up taking me two months to read so I'm determined to double-up in February- the shortest month of the year.  Here we go.

Searched and researched potential ideas for Nathan's upcoming birthday.  Less than one week 'til the big 3-0, baby!  (ps this means cake)

And I made these peppers.  In about 20 minutes flat.  I read a little quip in a recent Food Network magazine that recommended freezing cooked rice, that way it's at the ready when you are (I also do this with cooked, chopped chicken).  Not a bad idea.  So I defrosted the rice (and some chicken) and everything came together in no time.  Here's the best part about this recipe: use whatever the heck you've got lying around- carrots, celery, spinach, beef, pork, chicken- any veggies, any meat.  A great way to use up those pesky leftovers!  This is my version, but adapt as your appetite- or fridge- see fit.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 2

2 bell peppers (any color you would like)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup chopped, cooked chicken
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of Tabasco
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Meanwhile, cut top off peppers 1/2 inch from the stem end and remove seeds (reserve and chop up the top of the pepper around the stem to add to the filling mixture).  Add peppers to water and boil for 5 minutes, keeping peppers completely submerged.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and chopped bell pepper, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Remove skillet from heat.  Add rice, chicken, tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire, oregano, and Tobasco.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Arrange the cut side of peppers up in a loaf pan, then stuff peppers with filling.  Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Chelsea Original :)