Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

I saw this in the October 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine. I have experimented with a few recipes that I have found in the magazine. I haven't been disappointed, yet.
This one is definitely a keeper!

The carmel sauce that goes on top hardens a bit too fast, but I don't know what to do to fix it.

Mom enjoys putting a slice in the microwave, heating it for a few seconds, and puts a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

I think using a Jonathan or Granny Smith apple would taste good. They would stay firm longer, and you would get more of an apple taste, instead of mush. I was a little skeptical of putting the apples in it with the peels on, but it tasted ok. If you use a firmer apple, I would try peeling the apples first.

I would also suggest something to keep the top of the cake (bottom when flipped onto a plate) more moist.

I don't really have too many suggestions for this recipe, but I recommend trying it for yourself and posting any ideas.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache

I had the opportunity to make cupcakes for a co-workers birthday and decided that chocolate was the way to go.  You can't go wrong with chocolate!  I thought about frosting options, but didn't want to have to spend the time decorating the cakes.  I remember seeing a recipe on the food network once where they topped chocolate cupcakes with ganache.  Perfect!  Then, I realized that chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache will taste delicious, but needed a little something extra.  What goes well with chocolate?  Peanut Butter, of course!  So, I decided to make a peanut butter filling for the cupcakes.  I used the "Crazy Cake" recipe for the cupcakes, which is a recipe we grew up on.  It's "crazy" because it has not butter, eggs or milk in it.  It's CRAZY good!  Once the cupcakes were cooled, I piped the peanut butter filling into the middle and then made the ganache and dipped the top of the cakes into it.  These cupcakes are insanely tasty.  I have a feeling I'll be making this recipe time and time again.  Try them, you'll love them!

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Cream the peanut butter and powdered sugar, add milk until it's to your desired consistency.  

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 c. cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate)

Add cream and chocolate together and cook over a double boiler.  Stir and cook until smooth.

Dip cupcake tops in the ganache and set aside to set and cool

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Panang Curry Soup with Chicken and Butternut Squash

I was looking through my virtual recipe box on stumbleupon.com and came across this recipe from my favorite food blog, closetcooking.com.  Ever recipe of his that I've made has been delicious.  I always told myself I'd get around to making this soup and today was the day!  I love thai food, because it's typically relatively easy and tastes incredible.  The original recipe called for shrimp or prawns, but I'm not a huge fan of them, so I substituted chicken.  I also put my soup over rice, which the original recipe didn't call for, but I felt it needed some.  Hopefully you'll love this recipe as much as I did.  I only made half of the recipe, because I live alone and left overs usually go to waste.  I'm now kicking myself, because I could eat this every day this week!  I can't take credit for the picture, I borrowed it from closetcooking, but I figured a picture would entice you to try making this soup!

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons panang curry paste (I used red curry paste, because I didn't want to make panang from scratch)
6 cups chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves (thinly sliced)
2 cups butternut squash (cut into bite sized cubes)
1 red pepper (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 teaspoon palm sugar (grated, or sugar)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 pound shrimp (shelled and deviened) (I used chicken sliced very thin)
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 green onions (sliced)
1 birds eye chili (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup peanuts (roasted and chopped)

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the thicker coconut milk that floats at the top in a pan.
2. Add the curry paste and saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, butternut squash, red pepper, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and peanut butter and simmer until the butternut squash is just tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the peas and shrimp and simmer until the shrimp is cooked, about 2-4 minutes.  (If you use chicken, add the chicken to the pot after about 7 minutes instead of 10 so the chicken can cook through)
5. Serve garnished with cilantro, green onions, birds eye chili and peanuts.  (I put rice in the bottom of my bowl and I'm glad I did, it made the soup perfect!)

Potato Gnocchi with Pear and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

 I went out to dinner with my family for my daughter's birthday last night. She chose to go to Olive Garden. (She always chooses Olive Garden.) Eric and I weren't very hungry, so we decided to split the Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli. We substituted chicken for the shrimp because Eric doesn't like shrimp. It was good. I loved the flavors of the pear and the Gorgonzola cheese. I figured, I've got some ripe pears and a tub of Gorgonzola cheese in the fridge, I could make something like it at home. I've been meaning to try my hand at making gnocchi too. So, when I started getting hungry for lunch today, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

I was surprised at how easy it was to make the gnocchi. I baked some potatoes, pulled off the skins, mashed them and added flour and salt. I kneaded it until it was a soft, smooth dough. Then, working with 1/4 of it at a time, I rolled it into a 1/2" log and cut it into 1/2" pieces. Once they were all cut, I gently rolled them down the tines of a fork and they were ready for the pot. You only boil them until they float, which took about 2 minutes. Super easy and it only took about 15 minutes once the potatoes were done baking.

Delicious Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I was watching Guy's Big Bite, and thought this sounded good. Which it was! The episode was titled "It's Always Finer in Carolina."

On Guy's other show, Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives, he went to a place in Carolina called Wilson's Holy Smoked BBQ. This recipe is an adaptation from the original.

It took about 11 and a half hours of prep and cooking, but it was worth it. The rub and sauce were a bit too spicy for me, so I think I may modify the amount of heat next time. I also think that a different kind of bread needs to be used. I think the ciabatta rolls were too chewy, although you do want a chewy bread for this.

I either didn't get the pan hot enough or didn't use a big enough pan for smoking the meat. I still thought it tasted good. I'll have to try the whole indoor smoking thing again. I do have to warn you that while I was heating up the pan, the house got very smokey that I had to open a couple windows. The meat itself cooked a total of 9 hours, and could have stayed in longer without drying out.

I had enough rub left over that I could have used on another cut of meat. I would suggest only using 2 TBSP chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you don't want it quite as spicy.

I would recommend keeping this recipe as it is. It wasn't too spicy and I feel that it kept everything moist and kept the rub from burning.

I would suggest only making a half batch of slaw. There was so much and after a couple days, it all got soggy and gross. I will admit that a couple times, I just ate a bowl of slaw by itself. I accidentally bought horseradish mustard instead of plain horseradish, but I made some modifications and it tasted good. (I used 1 and a half TBSP horseradish mustard and 1/2 TBSP Dijon mustard.) I also used 3 carrots instead of 2.

I made the full recipe and dumped most of it down the sink. It just makes too much. I suggest cutting the recipe by 4, unless you want a lot of excess sauce. The heat from this added to the sandwich flavors.

I built mine like a sandwich. I put half a ciabatta roll on the plate, piled some pulled pork on top, hit it with a little sauce, put some slaw on top, hit it with a little sauce and topped with the other half of the roll. It was very messy and time consuming, but worth every minute and mess. I have enjoyed eating the left overs, and you all know how I feel about left overs.

This was really good, but I felt there was something missing. It had good flavor and was really creamy, but something was off. I would suggest maybe adding 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.

Over all it was a fantastic dinner with some awesome left overs. I almost enjoyed it more the second day. The pork is really good cold, too.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orange Chicken with Broccoli and Rice

Confession: I put things in the freezer and forget about them. By the time I remember they are there, they're usually expired. While I'm trying to do better about this, it still happens from time to time. So when I remembered the chicken breasts I had in the freezer, I determined to use them...all of them.

I was going to make Chicken Tikka Masala, one of my favorite dishes lately, but my hubby was having tummy trouble and didn't want anything spicy. And really, what's the point of eating Indian food if it's not gonna have a kick of heat, right? So, I had to come up with something else before the chicken went bad in the fridge instead of the freezer.

I got out my handy-dandy iPhone and opened up the Cook's Illustrated app. I can always find a yummy sounding recipe there. I went through hundreds of poultry recipes and found Orange-flavored Chicken. Sadly, it called for deep-frying the chicken. I DO NOT deep-fry. I have had trouble with kitchen/grease fires in the past (I used to take a medication that made it very hard to concentrate and you need to be able to stay on task when frying.) and think it's safer for everyone in my house and the surrounding area if I abstain from deep-frying. Luckily, at the bottom of the first page of the recipe, there was a link to an oven-baked version. Perfect! I can bake, easy-peasy.