Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Danielle's Grasshopper Cake

I've been waiting to make this cake till I had people I could serve it to. I had a lunch get-together today, and it was the perfect occasion. It was a big hit, and I was really happy with the way it came out. I sent a couple of friends home with some cake, and I got a call from my friend's five-year-old daughter saying it was the best cake she'd ever had. (Is that cute or what?)

As is my usual custom, I halved the recipe and made a six-inch cake. I know I've said it before, but I just have to say it again that I love six-inch cakes! I had the perfect amount of ganache and only a little bit of extra buttercream frosting left, so the recipe worked out well that way.

I thought the ganache and frosting had the perfect amount of mint -- not overpowering but definitely noticeable. They both tasted great. Based on Cami's suggestion I used about 1 3/4 sticks of butter in my halved batch of frosting. It definitely didn't need more than that. My buttercream was really runny, though. Maybe I didn't beat it long enough? I don't know. But I added a bunch of powdered sugar to thicken it up, and I thought the added sweetness was an improvement. The frosting still ended up being fairly runny at room temperature, but the consistency was perfect when it was chilled. I actually liked having the cake straight out of the fridge anyway.

I think this was maybe my most successful cake attempt yet from Baked. As far as straight taste, I think the Sweet & Salty Cake wins in my book, but you all know how that turned out... But this one is right up there on taste, and wins out handily on presentation. (I'm still determined to have a rematch with that Sweet & Salty Cake some day. Some day...)

Dang, you know what would've been perfect? If I'd garnished my cake with fresh mint leaves. I wish I'd thought of that this morning.

Melanie W.'s Lemon Pasta

I hadn't made a creamy pasta dish is a long time, so this was a treat! I do love pasta, and this was good. I'm not one who loves lemon things, so I don't think I would make this very often, but it was a nice springtime dish. The lemon garlic chicken was yummy! I only marinated the chicken for a few hours, but I cut smaller pieces so I think it worked ok. I also found I needed to add more half and half than called for. This could be because I used the full 16oz pasta, but I probably would still have added more even if I used less pasta. Guess I like my pasta more saucy. I originally planned on putting the asparagus in with the pasta but then chose to eat it on the side.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cami's Lemon Pasta

Sorry, no picture. My camera batteries are charging as I type.

I am definitely a saucy pasta girl and I loved this recipe. It is so fast and easy. There wasn't a lot of chopping or prep. I didn't marinade the chicken last night so I just threw all the ingredients in the pan. It worked but I will try marinating next time. I think this would taste just as good without chicken or with tofu.

I used whole wheat pasta and added the whole box. I think it was 13oz or so. It was perfect.

My husband is not generally a pasta fan but he really liked this. I will be making this again for sure!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Classic Sugar Cookies

This week's recipe is the Classic Sugar Cookies on page 148. I love sugar cookies. These were simple and easy to make. They are a nice, chewy cookie with a delicious lemon glaze. A lot of sugar cookie recipes make a ton and I get so tired of cutting out shapes. This was the perfect amount of dough.

Recipe notes: I didn't want to wait 4 hours for the dough to cool in the fridge so I put it in the freezer for about an hour. I think they turned out great. I did as the recipe suggested and piped the frosting with a small tip. If you don't have a piping bag you can just use a gallon size baggie and cut a hole in the corner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Danielle's Lemon Pasta

We had kind of a late night last night, so no pictures.

We both thought this recipe tasted good, but it wasn't a favorite for either of us. I think mainly it's because we're not really big on Italian-style pasta dishes. But it was easy to make, and I can see this being a go-to recipe for people who like creamy pasta dishes.

I just cut my chicken up into cubes and sauteed it. I also liked the idea of having it with asparagus, so I cut some up into bite-sized pieces and sauteed it too. I combined the chicken and asparagus with the sauce and then topped the pasta with it. I liked it all combined, but I didn't make enough sauce to cover the pasta, chicken, and asparagus and still be saucy. I should have added more half and half to make the sauce go farther. It was definitely flavorful enough to stand up to some extra liquid.

One caveat, though -- I had the sauce on low on the stove for awhile while I waited for for Max to get home. So I ended up reducing the sauce longer than I intended to, and that probably factored into the sauce not going far enough.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fresh & Simple Lemon Pasta

You know those simple, easy recipes that you turn to when it's 5:30 pm and you realize you have nothing planned for dinner? This is one of those recipes. You know those delicious yet quick-to-prepare recipes that you turn to when you have last-minute company coming? This, too, is one of those recipes. To be honest, I'm not a big pasta fan in general, but this recipe has become my and my husband's favorite quick and easy recipe. It can be thrown together in 20 minutes, but is just tasty enough to be guest-worthy. I love having recipes that are flavorful and delicious but easy and quickly prepared at the same time.

The lemon flavor is refreshing and light, which pairs surprisingly well with freshly-tossed pasta for a delicious meal that just bursts with the flavors of Spring and Summer. And I like to call this a 'starter' recipe... you start with the basic ingredients, and you can add more lemon juice or zest if you prefer a stronger or more intense lemon flavor, use more cream & butter for a heavier sauce, or add more herbs if you want to go that route. It's a great basic starter recipe; my husband is quite the flavor 'purist,' and prefers the simple lemon recipe below. Start out with the basics below and feel free to play around until you find your perfect fit.
2 T. Butter
2 T. Olive Oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 small Lemons or 1.5 large Lemons
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
3/4 cup cream or half and half
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground Pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup+ shredded parmesan cheese
12 - 16 oz. linguini pasta (depends how 'saucy' you like your pasta)
Fresh Parsley

Over medium-low heat, saute minced garlic in melted butter and olive oil. Add the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest and stir. Stirring constantly, add cream, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the cream thickens somewhat and flavors have melded. (I like to add half+ of the parmesan cheese and stir constantly until cheese is melted into the sauce before tossing with pasta. If you prefer the added texture of freshly grated parmesan cheese, simply add just before serving when tossing with the pasta.) Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente; drain well. Toss pasta with lemon cream sauce and parmesan cheese; top generously with chopped parsley, an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and salt/pepper to taste.
*I usually serve this with the Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken found here, which I often just broil in the oven, and then thinly slice. Top warm pasta with chicken strips, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over and top with more parsley and parmesan cheese. Pairs wonderfully with roasted asparagus or a leafy green salad.
*P.S. - I believe this recipe was originally adapted from the Pioneer Woman. And the Lemon and Garlic chicken comes from Melanie's Kitchen Cafe. Sure do love those food blogging women...

Cami's Grasshopper Cupcakes

This is a delicious recipe. Like always, I made cupcakes instead of cake. It's just so much easier you know? Plus then I can send them to work with Jason or take them to friends without having it be awkward that they are only getting 1/4 of a cake. I followed the recipe exactly but decreased the cooking time to 23 minutes. Perfect.

The cake has a rich, dark flavor. It may just be my favorite chocolate cake recipe in Baked due to it's depth. I LOVE the chocolate ganache and applied it liberally to the top of the cupcakes. The ganache without mint would be a great addition to any chocolate cake. The frosting is of course delicious. I think if I were to do it again I would decrease the butter by a stick. It is very buttery, which isn't a bad thing but I think it would work with less. I don't know if this is because I make cupcakes or what but I always have tons of frosting left over. Does anyone else have this problem?

I did the 'kid friendly' recipe and I don't think it was missing any flavor. The mint is just right, not too heavy and not too light. I will definitely make these again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Melanie W.'s Peanut Ginger Chicken

I wasn't going to make this at first, then those who made it said so many great things about it that I decided to give it a try.

I is really good! I marinated my chicken pieces for 24 hours and it turned out really tender. I halved the marinade recipe and it was perfect for the amount of chicken I used. It was really nice doing most of the prep work the night before, so making the rest was fast. I cooked mine on skewers in the oven for about 10 minutes. I didn't save any marinade to put on afterwards, but I didn't need to because the sauce was thick and enough stayed on during cooking.

My sauce was on the spicy side because my chili sauce was pretty hot. We didn't mind though because the cool fruit salsa complimented it really well. I used strawberry, kiwi, and pear in my salsa. I'd like to try peaches and/or avocado next time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grasshopper Cake

I have to admit, this particular cake seems slightly intimidating for some reason. Perhaps it is the long laundry list of ingredients, or the slightly complex assembly process. But you can't deny the draw of chocolate and mint! And it's gorgeous. . .

So the batter came together fairly easily. I baked the cakes on the lower end (35 minutes), and they looked great, but the centers did sink a bit after I took them out. So I suggest leaving them in for a few minutes longer. The cake is also extremely delicate, and will fall apart if you aren't gentle with it. But it does taste great!

The peppermint buttercream is pretty awesome! I've never made a cooked frosting with flour before, but it turned out great! It's light and fluffy without being as rich as a Swiss meringue buttercream. I also added 3 drops of green food coloring to get that lovely mint color. Tip for this frosting - make sure you beat the sugar/milk/flour mixture long enough! The texture will change completely, but it does take quite a bit of time. I also added an extra 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract to get a decent mint flavor.

I'm not sure about the ganache. I used Scharffen Berger 70% chocolate, which I think was too dark considering the recipe has no added sugar. I had to end up adding powdered sugar to make it balanced, which didn't hurt the texture.

The assembly of the cake is not as bad as I thought it would be. I put the ganache layered cake in the freezer instead of the fridge because my kitchen was a bit warm. The buttercream spreads on like a dream. You can really have a lot of fun with decorating this cake, but I wanted to keep it simple, so I just used chocolate chips.

All in all, I think this recipe is pretty good, and with one or two more tries, it could be pretty perfect! Oh, and try to have a kitchen helper, the dirty dishes are intense!

delish Improvements

Due to the large percentage of us who seem to grocery shop on Mondays we are changing the recipe selecting and announcing day to Sunday instead of Monday. I've changed the dates here, so you can see what day you should now be choosing a recipe for. If this is confusing or if I made a mistake in the dates, please let me know.

Also, I've added links to the completed recipes page so you can quickly find a past recipe if you want to make it again. Check it out here.

Cami's Sun Dried Tomato Jam

These are so elegant! I think they would be great served at a restaurant as an appetizer or at a fancy dinner party.

I love the flavor. It is very savory and rich. Thanks to Danielle's suggestion I decreased the sugar by half and that seemed to help with the sweetness. I think it was just right. My husband doesn't usually like sun dried tomatoes but he thought this was really good. I think the onions have the dominant flavor.

These take a while to make, so I can see the advantage to making a huge batch. In the future I will probably do that. Hyeyoung, does it freeze well?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Danielle's Sun Dried Tomato Jam

I have mixed feelings about this tomato jam, and I can't really explain why. Every time I taste it, I experience the same thing -- half of my brain is saying, "Yum! This tastes good!" and the other half is saying, "Um, there's something there that just doesn't work for me. Jury's still out on it." The half of my brain that thinks it tastes really good has the edge, but I can't say I totally love it. I really want to love it, but every time I eat it there's a little something there...

That being said, I love the look of these little crostinis. I got a thin little french baguette, and these made perfect, beautiful little bite-sized appetizers -- which I promptly served to myself for lunch. :)

A couple of side notes -- I liked this better warm than cold or room temp. Also, I know this is supposed to be a "jam", but I think I might have liked it better without the sugar. You know, more savory and less sweet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam

I'm usually not a huge fan of stuff with sun-dried tomatoes, but when my friend Kristal brought this to a little get-together I had a few weeks ago, I started dreaming about it.  The recipe is easily doubled, which I usually do when I make it because it keeps well in the fridge for a week or two. 

Sun-Dried Tomato Jam:
1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil, olive oil, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, chicken broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue simmering until most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of jam, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the baguette slices on the baking sheet.  Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the baguette slices with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes.

Place the soft goat cheese in a small bowl. Stir in the thyme.

To assemble:
Spread the crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam and top with the goat cheese and herb mixture. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

Notes:  I usually buy the big jar of sun-dried tomatoes at Costco and make about 3 double batches of jam.  You can chop up the tomatoes by hand, but if you don't like the messy oily mess, a food processor works great if you have one.  When I make it, I don't do the goat cheese part because I'm not a goat cheese girl.  Kristal said you could also use cream cheese, but it doesn't really crumble, so it's harder to put on top, although you can spread it on your crostini and then put the jam on top.  I usually don't add all the water and also cook it for about 10 minutes longer than it calls for because I like it thick.  It will look like there's a lot of liquid even after it's been boiling, but as it cools, it does thicken up.  I don't like to spend money on fresh herbs that I don't use much of, so I use dried thyme and I don't notice a huge difference, especially in the jam.  Finally, I usually broil the crostini directly under the flames (in a gas oven).  It's faster...although it means it can burn much faster, too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cami's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these on Friday and have been eating the dough ever since. I did bake about 6 cookies to find flat but tasty cookies. I always use mini chocolate chips because I like the chocolate coverage. I did add the full 16 oz of chocolate chips but I'm sure this didn't help the spreading and flattening. Since I prefer dough anyway, it doesn't bother me that it makes flat cookies. In fact when I make cookies I give Jason the option of having good cookies or good dough. It's hard to have both.

This won't be my go to cookie recipe but it is really tasty, especially in dough form. I baked apple tarts for Easter and had a little leftover tart dough. I threw some of this cookie dough and it came out beautifully as a tart.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Does anyone mind if we start posting new recipes on Sunday rather than Monday?

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, I've usually got my meals planned out for the week by the time a new recipe is posted on Monday. And I usually do my shopping on Monday morning, so it's generally too late to pick up what I need by the time a new recipe is posted. So then I end up always being a week behind on the dinner recipes unless I happen to have everything I need.

So if no one is opposed to the idea, I propose we start posting new recipes on Saturday or Sunday (whichever you prefer). Cool with everyone?

Danielle's Peanut Ginger Chicken

This dish is a winner! Max and I both loved it.

We don't have a BBQ, so I decided to cut the chicken into small strips before I marinated it. After marinating it, I put the chicken on skewers and cooked them under the broiler. That worked out really well, and the chicken cooked really quickly.

The marinade was excellent, and the chicken would have been good without the salsa. But the salsa makes this dish so much better. The chicken together with the salsa was really delicious. We used peaches and strawberries for the fruit, and I added avocado because I had some I needed to use up. Also, I used mainly lime juice instead of vinegar because basically, I just can't make salsa without lime juice. I did add a splash of vinegar and I liked the flavor it added.

I think I will definitely be making this again sometime. Probably sooner than later.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Melanie W.'s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these today and just finished cooking them about 15 minutes ago, and I've already eaten at least five. Oops! Cookies sure are good warm though!!

Taking into consideration the other experiences, I made a few modifications to mine and I ended up having the opposite experience as LuAnn and Danielle! I thought the dough was ok but not the best, and my cookies didn't go flat! I wanted to make sure they wouldn't go flat, so I did some google research and found some helpful tips. Keep reading and I'll share the secrets to my success!

From what I read, the temperature of the butter and dough is super important. You need it to stay cold. The recipes said to use softened butter, but I used cold butter straight from the fridge. I also bought expensive butter imported from Ireland, mostly just to try it, and I don't think I'll ever do that again. I don't think it enhanced the flavor at all. Anyway, I creamed the cold butter with the sugars using a hand mixer- this way you have more control over how much the butter is creamed. You don't want to overcream the butter! What I read said blend a little, mash the butter with the beaters, blend a little, and it's ok if there are still a few lumps of butter. Then I stuck the creamed butter/sugar back in the fridge for 10 minutes to make sure it stayed cold.

I made sure my eggs were cold straight from the fridge. Make sure you blend them one at a time, thoroughly.

I added 2 Tbsp. extra flour. This also helps the cookies keep their fluff.

Make sure you don't over mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Mix just until blended. I used my stand mixer for the eggs, vanilla, and dry ingredients, then hand mixed the chocolate chips.

I used less chocolate chips than called for, only 12 oz. Too many chocolate chips can cause more spreading.

I chilled the dough for the full 6 hours. (This seemed a bit excessive, but I did what they said.)

I chilled my cookie sheets. Supposedly warm cookie sheets can cause the dough to spread faster. Honestly, I don't think this made much of a difference. It seemed like as soon as I took the cookie sheets out of the refrigerator they warmed up to room temp anyway.

I have an oven thermometer and I made sure the oven temp was exactly 375.

While I was waiting for batches to cook, I kept the remaining dough in the fridge so it would stay cold.

All in all, something I did worked and the cookies turned out nice. They were slightly crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and not overly browned. I don't think this is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe- they taste like a lot of others, but they were good.

Ok, this is pretty cheesy because it's just like the picture in the book, but I was having fun with my camera. :)

Silk-Dyed Easter Eggs

Hi Ladies,

This isn't part of the normal Delish routine, but we had so much fun dying easter eggs this year that I wanted to share. Have you ever tried dying your easter eggs with silk ties? See for the complete tutorial. Very simple, easy, and quite clever I might add!
You need to use 100% silk fabric - the silk ties at our local Goodwill were $3.99 each, and I wasn't about to buy 4 and spend $16 for egg dye, so we hunted around in the women's blouses until we found a 100% silk blouse, which easily covered 12+ eggs. The fabric wasn't as bright as some in the tutorial, but the design was wonderful and I loved the result!

Just a fun idea to try. Happy Easter!