Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time, Love and Tenderness

Let's not talk about how long it's been. Real friends don't mention indiscretions and delinquencies.

So I needed to send some love in the mail to a couple friends, and I came across this little gem of an idea. Cupcakes in jars. Because everyone needs a little sugar now and then, hmm?

When I went to bake the actual cake itself, it was really important to me to find a recipe that was dense yet tender, moist, and tasty. I remembered having read on Smitten Kitchen about the "ultimate" yellow cake, so I decided to give it a whirl!

To begin with I used these teeny darling jars, sprayed them with non-stick cooking spray, and filled them about 2/3 full with the batter.

After they baked a bit and got nice and golden I pulled them out of the oven. They looked like this:
Aren't they precious! After they had cooled a minute or so I popped them right out, and let them finish cooling on a rack. While I was waiting I washed the jars and made a little of this favorite deliciousness to put in the middle and on top.

And when everything was all assembled I put them in the freezer to sit and chill out until I was ready to ship. And when I pulled them out they looked like this:

YUM, right?!

In the end, I hope my friends were pleased. I thought the cake was a little dry and not as tender as I would have liked. I probably won't be using that recipe again. The frosting tasted good (as always) when I made it, but sadly, it was so hellaciously hot that it probably didn't resemble anything like this when it arrived. But at least there were mini chocolate chips in there, and everyone knows. Mini Chips = Love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Make this.

This would be a good recipe for the big giant football game coming up... it's delicious, cheesy, oozy, melty and spicy. And completely customizable. Behold. Pizza Dip. (A recipe I got from a friend.)

I should warn you that the person I got this from makes this with ricotta cheese, which I'm not a huge fan of. So I switched a few things, and Bob's your Uncle, it turned out delicious.

First mix a brick of neufchatel cheese (that's the cream cheese that's 1/3 less fat.) with about 1/2 a cup of mascarpone cheese and a few hefty spoonfuls of sour cream (Also reduced fat. If you want to go full fat, please by all means don't let me stop you.) Put it in a bowl and mix with your mixer... also add in a few shakes of garlic salt and also some oregano or other italian seasoning and some pepper. Smooth this all into a small baking dish (like 8x8 perhaps.) and then top with half a jar of your favorite tomato sauce. I like Barilla or DeCecco, but seriously, whatever's on sale will work just fine. Smooth the sauce evenly on top of the first layer. Then top with some Italian blend shredded cheese... and then whatever pizza toppings you like the best. Mister and I are pepperoni-onion pizza lovers, so I sauteed some onions in a little olive oil and put them on here with diced pepperoni slices and black olives. I would have put bell peppers on here but Mister's not a fan. Maybe next time. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or so until it's bubbly and brown in spots, like pizza. Take it out of the oven, but for heaven's sake don't eat it right away or else you will singe off the roof of your mouth and then you won't want to be my friend anymore. Serve it with whatever scoopers you like best, Scoop Tostitos are good, but Scoop Fritos taste exceptional as well, and I think really bring the party feel. Heck, you could go all fancy and find some cool crispy flatbread or something, too.

Anyway, bring this to the next party you go to. Or whip some up for Super Bowl. You'll knock their socks off. This gets 5 stars for ridiculous.

P.S. If you want to make the ricotta version, kick out the mascarpone cheese and sour cream and sub in half a cup or so of ricotta. Blehck!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup #1

Once upon a time there was a soup. A Chicken Tortilla Soup. And it lived at a semi fast-food restaurant called Baja Fresh. The soup was not your ordinary semi fast-food fare. It was rich and dark, full of mysterious flavors and not too many chunks of vegetables. It was topped with cilantro and avocado and a wedge of lime, which as everyone knows, is The Trifecta of Mexican Cuisine. The soup was cryptic, inscrutable, an enigma.

This, friends, is not that soup.

When searching for recipes that would compare I tried to identify just what the ingredients are that make the soup so outrageously good. It's really dark, practically black. Could special something be that chipotle, the smoky little devil? This recipe calls for some basic ingredients that sounded good, in theory, and some jalepenos. So I decided to substitute chipotles in the place of the jalepenos.

I've had better ideas.

Chipotle is NOT the mystery ingredient. And this recipe calls for far too many onions. It's basically a Mexican Onion Soup which is good and all, but not The Soup.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 Days of "Cookies" and 1 Day of Ina

It's time, once again, for Food Network's annual "12 Days of Cookies" email/recipe series. Let's take a moment to reflect on a few of this year's offerings, shall we?

First up are Gingerbread Cookies by Chef Alex SomebodyorotherthatIdon'tknowandprobablyneitherdoyou.

Those are the saddest, flattest, driest little men I've seen in a long while. I think I've seen cardboard that looked more flavorful and moist. In fact, did they use Elmer's to decorate those little pieces of particle board?

Next up are The Neelys' Butter Cookies. I love this picture. Because, really, the first thing you want to be reminded of while eating cookies is... a pig.

Finally, Sunny's Crunchy Peanut Butter S'more Bites. You know what I usually do when I'm jonesing for some S'mores? I take a huge chunk of peanut butter, roll it around in some sawdust and fingernail clippings, and then make a sandwhich out of it with some Crisco. Mmm mmm good.

And I'm not even going to dignify Sandra Lee's Peppermint Dandruff Cookies with a response. You can't make me.

Did Food Network redeem themselves by including a 13th recipe for Rugelach? Hard to say. There are Hateful Raisins in them. But Ina always comes through for me in the end. At least someone at Food Network does.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm so over Turkey right now.

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving... our family came over and we cooked a big bird in the oven. Which yielded lots of leftovers. Even after one extra go-round of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and cranberries, I was pretty much over turkey today. But we still had two Gladwares' worth. What to do? I thought about making Turkey Tettrazini from Elise's recipes.... but the thought of more creaminess and thickness, I wasn't ready. So how about Meseidy again... I had seen her Chicken Chilaquiles recipe last week or so and thought that would be good to do with the leftover turkey. It's hard to find real, good Mexican food here and I haven't had good chilaquiles in a looong time, so here's how it all went down.

First, get some onion and garlic going. If your recipe starts this way, it's pretty much going to be a winner. Just saying. Then shred up your leftovers, so they are nice and stringy. Toss the skin. It's gross when it's cold, huh?
Add the turkey to the softened onions and add in your seasonings... I used cumin, cayenne and chili powder... a few shakes of each. Also salt and pepper. Heat the turkey through and start chopping some roma tomatoes. Add those in and let them get all melty and groovy. Then... add in a jar of tomato salsa. I'm partial to Whole Foods brand... but use whatever. And then add half a jar of green salsa. Then, add some hot sauce to your taste... We love Cholula and lots of it! Also, squeeze a lime in there and add a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
I think at this point, you could cover all of it with turkey stock or chicken stock, heat through and call it a delicious soup. But no... keep going. Make sure to taste it right here... does it need more salt or spices or hot sauce? Good? Yes? Okay.

Then, in a small casserole, spray with with Pam and layer the bottom with tortilla chips. You could use taco shells, or tostada shells, or fry up your own chips if you want. I think this is the best way to use day old chips that you left open that have that stale chew to them. But whatever you think is best. They just have to be crunchy. On top of the layer, add half of the turkey mixture, then a layer of cheese I had half of one of those Mexican blend pre-shredded cheese bags on hand, so I used that and shredded up some aged Australian white cheddar too. Mmmm. You could use Queso Fresco or Cotija like Meseidy did, too, but you need something cheddary to glue everything together. Layer again with chips, turkey and cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so until it's bubbly and melty and you can hear it making that bubble sound. Behold....

See look... some of the corners will be kind of burnt and good. So delicious. Cut yourself a piece and serve it with some beans or rice or both... I made seasoned black beans with mine. I served it with cilantro, sour cream and chopped avocado. (I'm a California girl, I could eat avocado on a shoe and call it good.)

This is a yummy, hearty meal... it will cure your turkey leftover blues in a hurry, and it will warm you up from the inside out. It also makes great leftovers... it's spicier the next day. Easily giving this 5 stars and a dannnnnng for good measure. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't be alarmed.

It's just salsa.

The easiest and best tasting salsa you've ever made. If, indeed, you've ever made salsa. Which I had not. Because it scared the chili peppers out of me. But my friend Angela makes it look so easy, and when she shared her recipe with me, I said "What the heck?!"

It's a large (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes. 1 bunch of cilantro. 1 bunch of green onions. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 jalepenos (de-seeded and de-ribbed). 2 serrano chilies (also de-seeded and de-ribbed). Salt and pepper. That's it. Chop it up rough, and then give it a whirl.

It's not pretty, but DANG, is it good. Play with the proportions, make it your own. Give it a try!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Elvis would approve.

Legend has it that Elvis loved him some banana and peanut butter sandwiches. In honor of October being Midwestern Chic month here at Let's Get Together, I'm taking the banana and peanut butter combo and turning it upside down.

I like my banana cake like I like my men. Smooth and rich, with some naughty, naughty frosting on top.

Here's the Banana Cake recipe
(I skipped the caramel sauce in favor of Nutella. I would probably skip most things in favor of Nutella). It's good. Really, really good.

Nutella Frosting
4 Tbs. butter, softened
2 Tbs. Nutella
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs. milk

Blend the butter and Nutella together until creamy. Alternately add the powdered sugar and milk until well blended. If you like a stiffer frosting, decrease the amount of milk. If you like your frosting to be on the softer side (which I do), increase the amount of milk.