Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eight Inch Cake Pans

I went through quite an ordeal today to get eight inch pans. I tried four different stores with no luck and finally found them at Walmart in the craft section. This cake better be worth it!

For anyone else wanting to find eight inch pans, let me save you some trouble. You can NOT find them at any old store with cookware! Target and Bed Bath & Beyond do not carry them (at least not the ones around here in Oregon).

You can get them at Michaels or Walmart in the cake decorating section, you can order them online (see here, here, or here), or you could try a specialty baking store.

Melanie W.'s Banana Chocolate Muffins

I am so so happy I decided to take the time to make these muffins! They were absolutely delicious!! I've made lots of banana bread before, but this must have had just the right combination of ingredients because they were super moist and flavorful and probably the best I've had. Two of my sisters ate some and they rated them a 10 out of 10.
I didn't have very ripe bananans, mine were just slightly ripe but I don't think it even made a difference. I omitted the espresso powder and instead added 1/2 teaspoon of both cinnamon and nutmeg, plus a dash each of allspice and ground cloves.
I also must add, it feels quite nice to be back in the States and have easy access to chocolate chips and to not have to adjust for high altitute baking! It makes a world of a difference!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sweet and Salty Cake

Hi everyone. I chose the Sweet and Salty Cake for this week because I don't have the cookbook so I looked on their website and it said this was a famous recipe. It looks a little intense. Who is up for a challenge?

When did you start baking/cooking?
Probably when I was around 12. I remember trying to make a lemon meringue pie about that age.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Lately I've been enjoying my zester.

Do you have a favorite spice?
Can't think of one.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I want to go on a cruise--maybe Hawaii?

If you had to change your name right now, what would you change it to?
Tough question. I like my name. I've always liked the name Janie.

Where do you currently live?
We are living at my parents house in Pleasanton, California for the summer while my husband has an internship. Then back to Chicago!

Where are you from?
Pleasanton, California

If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Definitely Jamba Juice. Can't get enough of them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cami's Chicken & Bacon Kabobs

These are amazing! They are so tasty. I used yellow and orange bell peppers because they were the same price as green and I prefer orange and yellow. I also added onions. Thanks to Larisa's suggestion I doubled the sauce and heavily basted. It made them very tasty.

I think you could use turkey bacon if you're worried about the fat content. I think the bacon really adds good flavor though, so don't skip it. These will definitely become a regular meal at my house.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chicken and Bacon Shish Kabobs

Alright ladies, this Chicago humidity must indicate that summer is now in full swing, and around our place that means tasty summer grill recipes. This is one of my favorite recipes for the grill - simple, tasty, and easily adapted to suit one's preferences. And if you find yourself without a grill (as is our case at the moment...), don't fret; I just pop these babies in the oven under the broiler and the results are just as pleasing.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil (I use olive)
10 large mushrooms, cut in half
2 bell peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
2 green onions, minced
2 – 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast - cut into chunks
1/2 pound sliced thick cut bacon, cut in half
1 -2 (8 ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained
Any other veggies you like to skewer

1) In a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, cider vinegar, honey, oil, and green onions. Place the chicken, mushrooms and bell peppers into the mixture, and stir to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

2) If using wooden skewers, let soak in water for 30 minutes to avoid scorching.

3) Preheat grill for high heat. Wrap the chicken chunks with bacon, and thread onto skewers so that the bacon is secured. Alternate with mushroom halves, bell peppers and pineapple chunks. (Optional - I occassionally partially pre-cook the bacon for a minute for two in the microwave to start the cooking process before wrapping the chicken. I find this helps the bacon crisp up a little easier while grilling/broiling.)

4) Lightly oil the grill grate. Arrange skewers on the prepared grill. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with remaining soy sauce mixture, until bacon is crisp and chicken juices run clear.

NOTES: I always double the marinade and set half aside (before adding the chicken) for basting and dipping. I usually brush a generous amount on the skewers just before serving, as well. We like ‘em saucy! I also estimated on the amounts of pineapple and veggies - I tend to just use as much as we have. Some people cook their veggies on separate skewers from their meat, since cooking times may differ, but I've never really had a problem. I just let them cook until the bacon starts crisping up. And if bacon isn't your thing, the chicken tastes great alone, as well.

Q: When did you start baking / cooking?
A: I loved to help my mom bake cookies or treats when I was little, mostly so that I could nibble right along. But I didn't gain a real interest in cooking/baking until I had a college roomate who made homemade bread everyweek. The smell of bread baking in the oven was too much to resist - I had to learn how to do it on my own.

Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: I love my 12" Cuisinart skillet, it cooks everything perfectly. And my 7" Santoku knife, I feel pretty powerful with that thing in my hands. But I dream of a KitchenAid mixer... one day

Q: Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
A: I LOVE fresh basil, and I could sit and smell freshly-ground ginger all day long.

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: For me, it's where would I go next. We love to travel and try to do it any chance we get. I think next on the list is Costa Rica, but I'm hoping to go back to Italy soon... I can't get enough.

Q: If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?
A: No clue. Maybe Hazel.... that's my Guitar Hero character's name.

Q: Where do you currently live?
A: Chicago

Q: Where are you from?
A: Orange, CA

Q: If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Fresh fruit... pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, raspberries, peaches... maybe a little chocolate every now and then and I'd be set for life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Melissa's banana muffins and pasta

I loved these muffins and so did the family. I just used Cocoa powder instead of espresso powder and it tasted good although I do think the others spices would have complimented them well. Maybe next time I will try a different spice. My only complaint is that they were not very pretty. I guess I should have taken a picture, but I had company and made it for breakfast so they were all eaten up before I had a chance. Anyway I just thought they were flat and not a great color. I would recommend a loaf like Cami especially since there are only 3 in my family I like to give away some of my baking so we don't turn into chunks.

I also made the cheesy squash pasta and loved it. My husband loved it which made me happy because I love creamy sauces on pasta and he likes red so I usually have to make two options. Not this time I just made the one and he even ate the left overs. I used two red peppers instead of one because one did not seem like enough and I had company and wanted to make sure there would be plenty of food. Two was a little too much I would probably say 1 1/2 peppers or maybe another vegetable. I have never used butternut squash before because I didn't really know what to do with it so I was happy to learn. I really loved the flavor it added to the dish, and I had a little bite of just the squash and it was delish. So I now have a new vegetable to make for the family. Thanks for a new recipe to add to the meal rotation.

Cami's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

These were really really good! I'm so glad I made them. I used 8 mini loaf pans instead of 12 muffins. I think we're going to deliver them to our new neighbors tomorrow.

Instead of espresso powder I used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. I also threw in a dash of pumpkin pie spice for good measure. They are so flavorful. I left my bananas a little chunky, which I like. I'm excited to see what they taste like tomorrow since Baked says the flavor intensifies with time. If I keep eating them I won't have any left for the neighbors.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

burgers and cake for daddy

First off...cheers to me that I finally bought the Baked cookbook. I confess I was being cheap and working off photo copies. But I figured it was silly to have all these recipes in my cooking repertoire and not have the book so now I have it.

Jeff requested burgers for Fathers' Day so I finally made the Turkey Burgers. What a great recipe! I love recipes with veggies and it is comforting to eat a healthy white meat rather than red. I used dried oregano and fresh basil (from my very own basil plant on the deck). Like Danielle, I used ~1.25 pounds of meat so I did 3 cloves of garlic and extra salt. I had plans to grill them, but we were out of propane. I did a combination of browning them in the olive oil on a skillet and broiling them in the oven. The consistency seemed like it would be fine for a grill, however, I realized after I shaped them into patties that I forgot the egg. I think it would have made them a little more moist. I'm going to make them again on Thursday for our ward recipe exchange (theme: 4th of July BBQ...perfect) and I will use the same amount of meat, remember the egg, and grill them. Though I don't think it would hurt to brown them with the olive oil first...I like the flavor of olive oil. Simon loves "cheegugers" so I figured he would eat this. He ate half of it and then said "no like it" to the rest...which he does often. I finished his and with no complaint.

I very seriously considered making Jeff the German Chocolate Cake since that is his favorite kind of cake. However, after reading through the comments I decided I will make it when more than one person will enjoy it. I don't like coconut so I don't like German Chocolate Cake...but maybe I will like this one. Instead I made the milk chocolate frosting and put it on a Devil's Food cake from a box. I had to make a few modifications. I only had just under 1 C of heavy cream so I made it 1 C with whole milk and then I made 2/3 of a recipe. It seemed a little runny even after I chilled it for 15 minutes so I added about 1/4 C powdered sugar. It might have been because it is rather humid here in Northern Virginia...but the kitchen wasn't especially warm or anything. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate and Hershey's milk chocolate chips so I felt like at least half of the chocolate was high quality. In the end I can't say I loved it. I was hopeful, but it was too bitter for my liking...and I'm even a dark chocolate lover. It was better than your usual homemade cocoa frosting. My favorite kind of chocolate frosting is the store bought dark chocolate, but I usually just stick with a cream cheese frosting on cakes. Jeff thought it was an 8 on 0-10 scale. I'd say a 6. I may try again when I am better prepared with all the ingredients. I will only make a 1/2 recipe next time because it makes a ton of frosting.

I hope to make the pasta this week. I was planning to get the ingredients yesterday, but I wrote my list on the back of my Border's coupon which I gave to the cashier at Border's before I went to the grocery store. I am a big fan of the concept of Deceptively Delicious, but I haven't tried a lot of the recipes so I'm looking forward to it.

Has anyone ever "fondanted" a cake? (Did I make up the word 'fondanted'? I guess fondant is a verb because when I google it I get things like "how to fondant a cake.") I'm thinking about it for Jack's birthday on Saturday. I don't think the frosting sounds all that tasty, but they look so beautiful.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins

So the reason I chose this recipe is because after I gave birth to Ollie a very kind soul brought me dinner and there was some banana chocolate chip bread included. Regretfully, I don't remember who it was. But I know they will be blessed beyond measure. It made me the happiest little postpartum mess on the planet.

I also must confess that I haven't tried the recipe yet. That will be my project later today :) But I wanted to get the recipe up for all of you nail biters.

*I am certain that cinnamon, nutmeg, or coco powder would be an acceptable substitute for the espresso powder (if that's how you roll)

I will post pics later

Here's the shakedown

Q: When did you start baking / cooking?
A: Like a week after I got married. Honestly, I couldn't even make a grilled cheese sammie. But the Food Network has been a constant companion since I said my I do's.

Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My knife. 7 inch Henckels Santoku. I try not to leave home without it

Q: Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
A: kosher salt- I am of a very firm opinion that a lot of people under salt.

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: I have a few, Memoirs of a Geisha, Fire of the Covenant, and all of the Potters because when I was little I wanted to be a wizard.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: New Zealand

Q: If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?
A: Jemima

Q: Where do you currently live?
A: Chicago

Q: Where are you from?
A: Provo, UT

Q: If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Half steak Half pork Salad from Cafe Rio with a big frosty Coke Classic. Try it people, half steak half pork is where it's at.

Cheesy Squash Pasta

I thought this was okay. I ended up with really thick sauce, so I must have cooked it a little too long. I added more milk and it seemed to help, but that decreased the flavor.

I love the way it looks. The bell peppers are great. If I were to make this again I would add some zucchini. I add zucchini to everything. Salsa would be pretty tasty as well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cheesy Squash Pasta

(Sorry this post is late. I just got back from Utah today.)

This is my slightly modified version of a recipe from Deceptively Delicious. Not only is it a great way to sneak in some veggies for your kids, the butternut squash flavor is awesome.

2 cups Bow Tie pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup butternut squash puree*
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. pepper

*Butternut squash puree: take a whole butternut squash, slice it in half, and bake it face down on a cookie sheet (juice is going to run out, so don't use a cookie sheet without sides). Bake at 350 for an hour or until tender. Scoop out flesh from squash and place in blender. Pulverize until smooth.

-Cook the pasta according to directions.
-While the pasta is cooking, coat a large suacepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned (1 - 2 minutes).
-Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken (3 - 4 minutes). Add the vegetable puree, the chopped pepper, cheddar, cream cheese, and seasonings. Stir until smooth.
-Stir in the pasta and serve warm.

Q: When did you start baking / cooking?
A: I've been baking & cooking since I was young, but my family had pretty limited variety in their meals. Plus, we always did everything the hard way--everything from scratch. Grind your own flour, make your own butter, grow your own food, milk your own milk, etc. Plus when you're cooking for 12+ people, things are never easy. Needless to say, cooking was always quite the endeavor. I didn't really enjoy it because it was such a chore. Now that I'm married and only cooking for 3, I like trying out new recipes and new foods. I pretty much don't ever use an actual cook book, just allrecipes.com. (But sometimes Deceptively Delicious, of course.)

Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My Bosch and my garlic press. I also really like my ice cream scooper, but I don't think that counts.

Q: Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
A: Crushed red pepper. And fresh garlic.

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Hmmm. I guess I'll say The Hobbit today.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: Right now I want to go to Greece. It looks so pretty in all the movies.

Q: If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?
A: When I was young I always wanted to change it to Alyse instead of Elise, because that way people wouldn't always say "Elsie" when reading my name off something. (It made me wonder just how many people out there are dyslexic. Seriously.) Now I like Elise better because it is French, and therefore cooler :). I guess if I HAD to change, I would just change it to Lise, because that's what most my friends and all my family call me anyway.

Q: Where do you currently live?
A: Chicago

Q: Where are you from?
A: Born in Houston, then moved to Saudi Arabia for seven years, a couple short spurts in Washington and Idaho, and finally to Orem, UT.

Q: If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Cafe Rio Chicken Salad.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cami's German Chocolate Cake

Okay, I know this is late but I finally found my cable to import pictures. I made this awesome cake yesterday and oh my goodness was it worth it. It took me a lot longer than I expected but it wasn't hard and it turned out perfectly.

Like Melanie (and I assume Danielle) I used hot water instead of coffee. I used two 9 inch cake pans instead of three 8 inch. I am longing for 8 inch cake pans. Maybe I'll put them on my Christmas list. I did the coconut filling between the two layers and on the top. I made the milk chocolate frosting for the outside. That is some good frosting. Seriously. I still have a bunch in the fridge that I can't wait to use on something else. This is probably my new go to chocolate frosting.

I had a group of 9 over for lunch today and they all gave it rave reviews. If you didn't have a chance to make this recipe I think you should. Next time you have a party or want to impress the hubby, make this cake.

Danielle's German Chocolate Cupcakes

Well, as you can see, I made cupcakes instead of a three-layer cake. And besides the fact that these took me THREE HOURS to make, I totally love them! I am not at all disappointed in this recipe. So tasty!

I like how the cake was really light and fluffy, but it was rich and moist too. And the coconut filling was perfect. I ended up using some leftover dark chocolate frosting I had from something else I made, so I can't report on the milk chocolate frosting.

Anyway, super tasty cupcakes and I imagine it would be just as tasty as a layered cake. Maybe I'll try it that way next time.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

When I first flipped through the Baked cookbook the one recipe I thought I absolutely had to try was this cake. Luckily my friend celebrated a birthday so I had the perfect excuse to bake it. I wouldn't normally make it for an everyday kind of dessert since it's pretty pricey and slightly time consuming but it was worth the one time splurge. So worth it.

A few changes I made:
- I used high quality semi sweet cocoa instead of dark cocoa.
- I used a cup of hot water with a few more tablespoons of cocoa instead of the cup of coffee.

I thought making the milk chocolate frosting (pg 60) might make it a little too rich but I liked the look of it from the picture so I made it. It was almost the best part of the cake, do not leave it out.

Sorry this is slightly helter skelter. To sum it up, if you love chocolate and coconut you will love this cake. You might need a little vanilla ice cream to counter balance it's richness. It's completely worth making but you might want to save it for a special occasion. Or at least for a time when you'll have several people to share it with.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jeannie's Turkey Burgers

Very tasty! I've decided that the garlic makes the burger. These were flavorful and filling. We topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, and avocado.

Seems that ground turkey is kinda pricey ($6 a pound, normally, but was on sale for $4 today. Is that normal??) so we may not have these as often as I'd like. But I'll definitely make it again!

Hello from Melanie B.

Well hello. Allow me to introduce myself since I've been very bad at participating in this blog. I'm Melanie B (I can't believe there's three Melanies). I won the Baked cookbook through a giveaway and when I expressed my enthusiasm on my blog, Cami asked me if I wanted to participate in Delish. I love baking so I did a fist pump and said yes. So here we go.

When did you start baking / cooking?
My mom baked 6 loaves of bread (I have a big family) and a batch of cookies every Monday. From an early age I learned that homemade is way better than store bought.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
My Bosch mixer and Cutco knives, the only really nice things in my kitchen. The rest is filled with 20 year old hand-me- down pans from my mom.

Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
I don't think garlic is a spice, but I put it in everything.

What is your favorite book?
My mom read Walk Two Moons to me when I was probably 11 years old. When we got to the end it took us 10 minutes just to get through one page because we were crying so hard. I still count it as my favorite.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I'm currently dreaming of Tahiti and Greece (maybe I've been watching too much Mamma Mia).

If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?
That's a tough one. I've always liked my name because it was normal but not overly popular. I'd probably change it to something funny like Beyonce.

Where do you currently live?
Denver, Colorado

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana.

If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This week I'll be making the German Chocolate Cake from Baked, page 83. It's going to be divine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Danielle's Turkey Burgers

Yum! Max and I are not really burger people (stems from not being ground beef people), but since these are turkey burgers and since everyone said they were so tasty, I decided to give it a shot. I don't know that I'll make these regularly, but they seem like a great Saturday BBQ food.

We were actually able to cook these on our (or should I say, the Hickmans') BBQ grill. The thing of turkey I bought was 20 oz (1.25 lbs), and I just threw the whole thing in with the rest of the ingredients as listed in the recipe (although I added extra garlic and pepper). I think if I'd had less meat with the same amount of egg they may not have stayed together on the grill.

Following Jessica's recommendation, we had ours on pretzel rolls (excellent suggestion!) with BBQ sauce, pickles, grilled onions, and pepper jack cheese. We toasted our rolls on the grill too, which was great. We love having a BBQ!