Monday, July 5, 2010

Beet Greens with Sweet Onions and Feta Cheese

We belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If you aren't familiar with a CSA, you pay for a share (full or half) to a local farmer before the season starts. Then you get a share of whatever the farm produces. I think it is one of the greatest things we have ever done. For one, I love beets. Two, my boys eat a variety of vegetables that I probably would not buy at the store, because I had never had them, like kohlrabi for example.  Three, I love knowing WHERE and HOW our food was grown and WHEN it was picked, usually the morning of distribution day. 

Anyway, back to my love of beets. When we first got beets in the CSA box, I was a little nervous. Way back, when it was just me and Ray, we tried fresh beets from a store.  I roasted them and they had this taste that neither Ray nor I liked. Woodsy and gross. They were huge and who knows how long they had been there. Our farmers knew we were new to a CSA, so they gave us advice on how to prepare certain veggies and what we could use. When they told us we could eat the greens as well as the beet root, I was a little surprised. I had never heard of that. I was still leery of the beet itself, so I started looking for a recipe to use the greens.  Later, I will share a recipe for the beet itself that is SO good! Thus began our love of beets.

I've made this a number of times. Ray and I prefer it with chard or beet greens. You can also use kale, escarole, mustard greens or collards. C even liked it, although he wouldn't admit it. As always, I put a portion of everything on their plates, with the family rule that you at least try one bite of everything on your plate. C took one bite, then kept going back until it was gone. 

This recipe is quite easy to make. The hardest part is washing and stemming the greens. If you use young, tender greens you won't need to stem the greens. With beet greens, if the beets are big enough to pull from the ground, you need to stem the greens. To stem, hold the stem with one hand and using your pointer and thumb of the other hand, slide up the stem of the green. Once you do it, you'll see what I mean. You can do this part while caramelizing the onions. It is more chopping and sautéing than anything. 

You could serve this over short pasta, but we like it by itself, sometimes with a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Beet Greens with Sweet Onions and Feta Cheese
Adapted from The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced sweet onion, such a Vidalia, I used one large
3 larges bunches fresh beet greens, stemmed if necessary and coarsely chopped (~12 cups)
salt, to taste
feta cheese, crumbled, up to 1 cup
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the onions and sauté over high heat for about five minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan and let the onions cook until very tender, about 10 more minutes.

Add the beet greens in batches, sprinkling lightly with salt after each addition and turning them with tongs, bringing up the wilted ones from the bottom to the top of the pile.

When all the greens have wilted, stir in the cheese and cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle generously with black pepper. 

Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I always like to make a little something special for breakfast on holidays. I think I have mentioned it before but it is that whole tradition associated with holiday thing with me.

The boys and I had a great time making this bread. The nice thing about making bread with the kids is that since the bread needs a couple rises, there are breaks that they can play and it doesn't seem like drudgery. My boys both love to measure and pour the ingredients. They love to turn on the mixer and give the dough some kneading. H especially loves to smell the ingedients and what we are making along the way. They both enjoyed rolling out the dough and patting the filling on. Really, I think they like making bread because it is so hands on.

This dough is really great to work with. It comes together really nicely. It also seemed easy to roll out. The hardest part for me was making sure it was the right measurements (8x16) before adding the filling and rolling up into a loaf shape.

This recipe had some tips that were different than any that I have seen for a swirl type of bread. They really helped though. The first was to use an egg wash vs. butter to help keep the bread from unravelling when slicing. Butter acts as a barrier between the pieces of rolled-up dough, preventing them from cohering, and giving you bread that "unravels" when you cut it. On the other hand, the protein in egg acts like glue, cementing the bread and filling together, and allowing much less (though still a bit) unraveling. The second is to blend the sugar, cinnamon and raisins until smooth. This well help the filling be more cohesive and moist as well as add a subtle flavor. I used a small food processor. Again, a small appliance that boys love to operate.

The filling makes this bread moist and the flavor is! Yum! This bread is also different, and better, than store-bought because of the topping. 

The house smelled out of this world while it was baking! 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
King Arthur Flour
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup water

egg wash, made from 1 egg  with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins or currants
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing till the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it's smooth. If you're kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; it'll be puffy, if not doubled in bulk.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into a long, thin rectangle, about 16 x 8 inches. Brush the dough with some of the beaten egg, combine the filling ingredients, and pat them gently onto the dough. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the side seam and ends closed (to keep the filling from bubbling out), and place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap or a dough-rising cover, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, or until it's crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan.

In a small bowl or mini processor, combine the streusel ingredients, cutting in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. If you're using a mini processor, watch carefully; streusel will go from crumbly to a cohesive mass in just a second or so. Brush the loaf with some (or all) of the remaining beaten egg, and gently press on the streusel.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 45 minutes, tenting the loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes or so if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the loaf from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, gently remove it from the pan. Some of the streusel will fall off, but you cal alleviate this by first loosening all around the edges of the loaf with a knife, then turning the pan on its side and gently pulling it away from the loaf. Streusel will continue to fall off as you maneuver the bread  but you'll still be left with some nice, sweet topping.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stroganoff-Style Spaghetti 'n' Meatballs

This is a true 30-Minute Meal. I had to work late, yada, yada, yada, you know the story. I needed to get something on the table, and fast. Luckily, I remembered this recipe that I saw in a Taste of Home magazine while at my parents. I pulled it up on the computer and had dinner in about 20 minutes. We keep meatballs, turkey and/or beef, in the freezer for times like this. Since the meatballs are pre-cooked, this dish takes as long as it takes for water to boil and spaghetti to cook.

This recipe is great just because we keep these ingredients in the pantry/freezer and it was seriously quick.

The boys really liked this. C requested it be on the "Make Forever" list. It was also a nice change from red sauce spaghetti.

This dish isn't the most photogenic. I will add, there was a nice green veggie on the plate but that got eaten before I remembered to take a picture of the plate.

Stroganoff-Style Spaghetti 'n' Meatballs Recipe

Adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 package (12 ounces) frozen fully cooked Italian meatballs
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used less)
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 cup 2% milk
1teaspoon beef base
1/8 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the meatballs, onion and garlic in oil for 4-5 minutes or until meatballs are browned. Stir in the soup, milk, beef base and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.

Gradually stir in sour cream; heat through (do not boil). Drain spaghetti. Serve immediately with meatballs and sauce over spaghetti.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green beans and garlic

Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. I love them pretty much any which way. These are one of those recipes that are SO simple yet impressive. They come together very quickly. If I am making them for company, I will have the ingredients measured out so it goes that much faster, down to the green beans already steamed. 

If you aren't a wine person, you could easily use chicken or vegetable broth instead. 

The boys are hit and miss with these. I think it is because of the wine. I need to take my own advice and just use broth. I don't always use the almonds either, but they really give a nice flavor and texture to the dish.

To toast almonds, I use the stove top method. I put them in a non-stick skillet over medium-heat, medium-high if I am not going to move a step away from the pan, and stir often until nicely browned. The nuts can go VERY quickly, so turn off the heat once they are browned to your liking. If you don't remove them from the pan immediately, they will cook some from the residual heat in the pan.

Garlicky Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans -- cut into 3" pieces -- frozen works fine too
2 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic -- finely minced
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules (can crumble a cube)
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Steam or boil green beans for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender. 

In medium skillet over medium heat melt butter, add garlic, and saute for 2 minutes or until tender and fragant. 

Add green beans, stir well to coat with the butter/garlic mixture, sprinkle chicken bouillon over beans and stir to mix, then saute another 3 minutes to desired doneness. 

Turn heat up to medium high, then pour in the wine and let it sizzle and evaporate most of the alcohol. Lower heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir thoroughly. Top with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turkey Gyros

 I am note-writer on my recipes. In cookbooks, yes cookbooks, computer print-offs, and with sticky notes on recipe cards.  I like to have our rating, yes I rate recipes, but not always, if it was fast and easy, what we liked about it, and any changes. Whenever I see this recipe, I smile. What makes me smile is the note I made after C had them for the time. My note on the recipe says "C Devoured". Actually that was an understatement. He was probably around 18 mo or so and he just went crazy. I still smile thinking about it.

I got this recipe online a few years back. Ray and I always liked them. They are easy to make and the leftover meat freezes well. Now I purposely double the batch so there is plenty for the freezer, and we have a super easy dinner for later. I also got into the habit of making these for new moms. I give them a container of meat, a container of Cucumber Sauce, a package of pitas and sliced tomatoes. They can be eaten whenever.

It seems like a lot of ingredients, but really it is just ground turkey and onions with some seasonings added in. I make the Cucumber sauce first so the flavors have time to meld. I also taste before serving. Sometimes it needs a little extra sauce. Be sure to scrape all the seeds out of the cucumber as they can thin the sauce in a bad way. I use a spoon.

This meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

We eat out Turkey Gyros with extra sauce.

Turkey Gyros 

1 pound  lean ground turkey
1/2  cup  onion
2 teaspoons  minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon  salt
1/2 teaspoon  dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon  dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon  black pepper
 4  pita breads - 7"
Cucumber Sauce 
1 cup  plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup  sour cream, light
1 medium  cucumber -- seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon  dried dill
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1 dash  black pepper

In bowl combine all Cucumber Sauce ingredients, stir.

Mix all turkey ingredients in non stick skillet and brown. 

Spoon hot meat mixture over pita and top with sauce

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

Doesn't that look delicious? It is seriously the best roasted chicken I have ever had. BEST EVER. The ingredients are so simple but when combined together, it is a chicken to be reckoned with. In a recent episode, Ina updated the recipe a bit and told the story of how women have gotten proposed to, after making this chicken for their boyfriends. I know 3 males who go crazy for it every time I make it.

I got this recipe from Ina Garten's cookbook Barefoot in Paris.

The chicken is simply stuffed with a couple of lemons, after having the inside cavity salted and peppered. Then it is a rub with butter or olive oil, and more salt and pepper. You place it on top of a bed of sliced onions tossed with olive oil. Don't go too crazy with the olive oil but don't skimp either. Then the chicken is ready to roast.

The first time I tried it, I thought it was weird to have the chicken served over the croutons, but oh my! When you get the pan juices,onions and chicken on top - WOW! I use the bread that I make for sandwiches. It is a firm loaf and holds up well for this.
Outside of using olive oil for the butter for coating the skin of the chicken before roasting, I follow this recipe to a "T". It has turned out perfect and delicious every time. This recipe would be great for anyone who is afraid of roasting a whole chicken. You will not be disappointed.

Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Barefoot Contessa- Ina Garten

1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cream of Carrot Soup

Let me start out right now with an apology. I did not intend to go this long without a blog post. But, I am a working mother, so sometimes life gets in the way.

This is one of my family's all time favorite soup recipes. This soup is so good, that H requests it, a lot. We first tried the soup almost 4 years ago, when my sweet H was born. A neighbor gave us a pot of this as part of dinner she made us. We usually have all the ingredients in the refrigerator/ pantry, which is a plus.

This comes together in under an hour. It goes even faster when you use baby carrots and don't have to peel! I will sometimes throw in an extra handful of carrots just because. It doesn't throw anything off. You could also make this vegetarian and use vegetable broth. I prefer chicken broth because I think it has more flavor. I use milk, lately 2%, but you can go all out and use cream. I like to eat more than one bowl, and would feel WAY too guilty doing that, but you can.

I have a stick, or immersion blender, and use that vs. pouring it in batches into the blender. If you do pour by the batch into the blender, be very careful and don't fill the jar of the blender too full. That is an accident waiting to happen.

This makes a very large batch of soup. We usually have enough for everyone to have at least a bowl, remember I have two, and a large container for the freezer, and another container in the refrigerator. 

The soup freezes very well.

Cream of Carrot Soup

4  tablespoons  butter
2 onions -- chopped
12 carrots -- peeled and sliced (6 cups)
3  stalks  celery ribs -- chopped  (not too many or will taste bitter)
5 medium  potatoes -- peeled and diced
10  cups  chicken broth
1 cup  whole milk -- or cream
salt and pepper -- to taste

Melt butter in large pot; add onion, carrots, and celery; then cook uncovered 10-15 min, stirring ocassionally. Add potatoes and stir until coated. Stir in broth and cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender (about 20 min). Puree in blender in as many increments as necessary, with blender cautiously vented. Empty pureed portions into another large pot. When all pureed, stir in cream, add salt and pepper to taste, and reheat if necessary without boiling.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Alton Brown's #10

Everyone has their favorite recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Me, I have recipes I like for certain reasons. Yes, I have a couple that I go-to most often, but I can't say that I have the *one*.  My friend Julie says her chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best.   Now, I have not seen the recipe or tried a cookie (let me give the caveat right now that Julie is an excellent cookie baker. Every cookie I have had of hers, is excellent), but I know if it is cakey, I won't think it is the best. I like a chewy, chocolate chip cookie. I like it soft, not crunchy when I bite into it.  

Most often, I go back and forth between this cookie, Alton Brown's #10 and Alton Brown's The Chewy.  While the cookies are similar, they are a little different too. In the directions for this cookie, there is no chilling time. I always add chilling time.  Then again, I usually chill the cookie dough before baking regardless.  I have friends who chill the dough 48-72 hours before baking, after making these cookies from Jacques Torres that was published in the New York Times. I have made them, and they were very good, but when I get a craving for chocolate chip cookies, I don't want to wait 2 or 3 days. 

Back to the cookies at hand. These are rich, chewy, chocolatey. Alton Brown's #10 uses ingredients everyone has in their pantry. This recipe is from his  book I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking. This recipe uses the muffin method, so you combine the dry, add them to the mixed wet, then stir in your add-ins. The cookies come together quickly. 

I also take my cookies out on the earlier side so I can ensure they are chewy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie #10 from 
I'm Just Here for More Food - Alton Brown
Mix and set aside:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Now mix together the wet ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled 
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now add the dry to the wet and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Do not over mix!!  While there is still some flour showing, add 2 cups chocolate chips and mix the rest of the way.
Bake 10-11 minutes or until golden at 375º. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bourbon Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Like a lot of things I make, I like to think that I have made them so many times that I have perfected them.

This pork is based off of Bourbon Glazed Salmon. I tweaked the recipe to have enough of the marinade to reserve some to use as a sauce. I also marinate the pork much longer than the salmon. Using the technique from another recipe, I tried cooking the pork in the marinade, vs. broiling it and the marinade has a more prounounced flavor. I also think the pork is jucier.  Pulling it from the oven at 155 degrees and letting it sit for 10 minutes before slicing also helps with that.

I also learned a small trick when using the reserved marinade. Since it does have bourbon in it and the alcohol can have that raw taste, bring it to a boil to take the edge off.

This pork is easy enough for a weeknight, but also tastes special enough to serve to company. You can do the bulk of the work before your guests arrive and then pop it in the oven to cook when the time is right.

Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 - 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag;  reserve about 1 cup of marinade. Refrigerate. Add pork tenderloins to zip top bag. Seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator 2 -8 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Empty ziploc bag contents into a 11x3 baking dish, marinade and all, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 155 degrees. Let pork sit about 10 minutes before removing from baking dish and slicing.

Take reserved marinade and heat in a sauce pan until it starts to boil. Serve pork with a drizzle of sauce.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Candy Carrot Coins

C & H both love carrots. They like them raw, roasted and cooked. These carrots have been on our rotation for years. They taste good and most importantly, the boys eat them right up. Actually, we all do.

I make these carrots quite often because they are always well recieved and they seem to make the dinner seem more special. And the boys gobble them up, did I say that already?

Using a bag of baby carrots and a microwave steam bag these come together in a snap. The longest prep step is slicing the carrots and keeping little hands from swiping the sliced carrots.

Candy Carrot Coins

Family Fun Fast Family Dinners

1 pound carrots
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon water

Peel, slice carrots. Cook until tender ( cover with water, microwave 6-7 minutes covered or steam etc.)

In small frying pan, melt the butter, sugar and water, and cook for 1 minute. Add carrot coins and toss to coat with the brown-sugar mixture. Cook on low for 3-4 minutes, or until the carrots are thoroughly glazed.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lemony Chicken Piccata

It seems like everyone has a recipe or two that is their go-to when it is rolling on dinner time and have nothing planned. That is what Lemony Chicken Piccata is for us. It is easy and good. Most importantly it is pretty quick in the grand scheme of things.

I was watching Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian and got a great tip that makes this chicken even easier. Instead of pounding the chicken flat, which makes the chicken even in thickness, Melissa cut a thick chicken breast in half width-wise. I tried it the next time I made this recipe and it really did make the prep faster. It isn't as even as the pounding with a mallet, but when you are trying to get dinner on the table, it is fine. It is easier when the chicken breasts are slightly frozen.

I also used my trick of mixing the dredge ingredients (flour/salt/pepper/garlic powder) in a ziploc bag and adding the chicken. The clean up is so much faster and easier. Again, on a weeknight, it is all about getting good food on the table in a reasonable amount of time.

A fresh lemon is a requirement for this dish. No ifs, ands, or buts.

I apologize that the picture isn't the most appetizing. I am working on that.

Lemony Chicken Piccata

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon honey

Combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a ziploc bag.

Slice the chicken breasts in half, width-wise. You can also put the chicken breast between 2 sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound them with a meat mallet until they are about half of their original thickness. If you pound, you will need to cut the chicken in half as well.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the flour mixture in the ziploc bag.  Shake off the excess flour and put in the skillet. Cook the chicken until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip the chicken and saute until lightly browned and cooked through, another 2-3 minutes. 

When the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate. Depending on how many chicken pieces you have, you may have to do 2 batches. You may also have to add a little more oil to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low, and add the butter to melt. Once melted, remove from heat and add the honey and the juice of the lemon. Add any juices from the platter of chicken. Stir to combine and pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I can't remember why I tried these popovers in the first place. It was most likely because I had never made or tried them. This recipe was also in a new cookbook and when I get a new cookbook, I like to try something right away. Whatever the reason, I am glad I did. We all love these popovers. They are buttery and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I do not like eggs in pretty much any form but I love the slightly eggy taste inside. Popovers are quite similar to eclairs or Pâte à choux.

The boys love to help when making these. They can do pretty much do all of it by themselves. They can crack the eggs, pour the milk and measure the salt and flour. They also love buttering the muffin tin. *HINT* When letting children crack eggs, have them crack each egg on the bottom of a bowl. Any mess is contained and if you need to pick out a piece of shell, it is much easier. Pour each egg into the mixing bowl after it is cracked.

Along the way, I have learned a couple things. Most importantly, Eggland's Best eggs do not work for whatever reason. I tried a couple times and each time ended up with a tin of hockey pucks. The popovers didn't rise. Secondly, using a blender makes this really easy. Add the eggs and milk to a blender. Mix. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and well blended. This makes for easy mixing and pouring.

The oven needs to be preheated, hot and ready to go when the popovers are put in to bake. When baking, DO NOT open the oven until the time is up.

We love these served with some butter and homemade strawberry jam.

Perfect Popovers
Mollie Katzen

2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Brush the inside of 12 muffin cups with melted butter.

Break eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add milk and beat well. Add flour and salt; whisk in until well blended. Pour batter into each muffin cup; cups should be about half to two-thirds full.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and prick with a fork to let steam escape. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The BEST Chocolate Cake

By now you know, I am all about tried-and-true recipes. Don't get me wrong, I love trying out new recipes like anyone else, but when I find one that becomes a tried-and-true, JACKPOT!

We had my parents over for my Mom's birthday and when I asked what flavor cake she would like, she said chocolate. Easy enough. Well, once I started going through my cookbooks, it became a little overwhelming. I like a challenge, but I had some time constraints and wouldn't be able to do something too time consuming,

I have read/ heard about the Black Magic Cake from Hershey's and once I saw the recipe I knew it would be the one I would try. Then I read the recipe from the back of the container of cocoa and the Perfectly Chocolate Cake was really similar. I decided to combine the two recipes and it is a winner.

This cake is very easy to make. The ingredients are found in most pantries. You don't need to melt, sift, or alternately pour. It can be done in one bowl and all you need is a hand mixer. Outside of measuring, this cake is just as fast and 100 times better than any box mix.

The frosting really sets off the cake and takes it to another level.

You have to try this cake, it is rich, moist, chocolately and DELICIOUS!

Molli's Chocolate Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup black coffee

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. (Batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Frosting: Cream butter. Stir in cocoa. Mix in vanilla. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

*sour milk - 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup

Friday, February 12, 2010

Banana Bread

Every once in a while, you come across a dud recipe. This time it came to me in the form of Banana Bread. The recipe sounded good. It came from a  Penzey's catalog and the woman who sent it in raved about how good it is. But then again, if I were to submit my recipe to a catalog/magazine, I would rave too. It was a little different than other banana breads I usually make because it calls for buttermilk, which I happened to have in my refrigerator. I will be honest, it made the recipe more appealing.

It's not that the recipe is bad, but it is not worth repeating. We ate the bread, and the boys seemed to like it. We've had better is all. Ray and I thought it was lacking in the banana flavor. With most quick breads, it is better the next day. This bread was actually worse!

The recipe that follows is for a tried and true Banana Bread. It is adapted from Cooking Light. I have made it both ways in the little loaf pans and the big loaf. All depends on what you are in the mood for. The recipe is simple and the bread has a lot of flavor.

Mom's Banana Bread 
Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1  cup  sugar

    • 1/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 1 2/3  cups  mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/4  cup  skim milk
  • 1/4  cup  low-fat sour cream
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well, and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until blended.
Spoon batter into 4 (5 x 2 1/2-inch) miniature loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Let cool completely on wire racks.
To make one 9-inch loaf, spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350º for 1 hour and 10 minutes.