Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brown Sugar Toffee Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt 6 Tbs butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup cold, strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
3 milk chocolate-toffee bars, such as Heath

1) Preheat oven to 325F. Coat 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
2) Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Set aside.
3) Beat butter, brown sugar and sugar with electric mixer until smooth in separate bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time and then beat in coffee and vanilla extract. Add 1/4 cup yogurt and beat until smooth.
Add half of flour mixture and beat until smooth. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, then remaining flour mixture. Beat 2 to 3 minutes, or until batter is smooth and creamy.
4) Spread batter in prepared cake pan, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, pulse milk chocolate-toffee bars in food processor 8 times, or until crushed into bits. (It's ok if some bits are larger than others.) Unmold cake from pan and set on wire rack. Sprinkle chocolate-toffee bits on top of cake while hot. Cool completely before serving.

Review: I was granted another houseparty and was provided with a Keurig Vue to showcase. Of course, that meant I needed to make coffee cake! This was a little difficult to navigate at 6:30am. None of my ingredients were at room temperature and I accidentally melted the butter when trying to soften it in the microwave. Regardless of all of this, it came out just fine. Especially considering I had bought a bag of Heath bits, instead of messing with the food processor. This cake was a huge hit and a great complement to coffee!

Adapted from:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baked Chiles Rellenos With Smoky Tomato Sauce

Chiles Rellenos
6 large poblano chiles
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 large eg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sour cream

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle chile powder
1 28oz can diced tomatoes

1) Roast and peel chiles. Cut 3-inch slit in each chile, and remove seeds with spoon.
2) Preheat oven to 425F. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add zucchini and corn, and cook 5 minutes more. Season with salt, if desired. Transfer to bowl, and stir in cheese.
3) Stuff each chile with 1/2 cup zucchini mixture. Secure closed with toothpicks.
4) Whisk egg with 1/2 cup water in bowl. Spread breadcrumbs on plate.
5) Dip chiles in egg wash. Coat with breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet, and bake 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
6) Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, chili powder, chipotle chile powder and cumin, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and spices are fragrant. Add tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes, breaking up tomatoes with spatula or wooden spoon. Transfer to blender and blend on low speed until sauce is smooth.
7) Serve chiles rellenos with sauce, cilantro and sour cream.

Review: Unfortunately, I had accidentally used all of the zucchini in a different recipe a few days ago, forgetting that I needed one for this recipe! Even without that, I had more filling than I needed and my poblanos were overstuffed. I tweaked the recipe a bit to save time and effort. Instead of making an egg bath, I brushed the poblanos with the egg mixture and sprinkled panko breadcrumbs on top of each poblano. That seemed to work really well. Also, I didn't blend the sauce, as Mike complained about having too many dishes to do and didn't want to add to the mess. He also claimed to prefer his sauce chunky. It worked fine, and was incredibly tasty. Notably, I also had too much sauce, so I froze half of it for future use! Overall, this was a fairly labor intensive dish, even with the tweaks, so I doubt I'll make it again.

Adapted from:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rigatoni With Chunky Vegetable Sauce

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1/2 lb cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lb rigatoni

1) In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms, and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
2) Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in oregano.
3) Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats the pasta. Serve immediately.

Review: I've had this recipe for quite some time now, and keep passing it over. It's not a "special" dish, but is a little more interesting than a basic pasta and sauce dish. This came together quite easily and was very hearty. It may be a good dish to make when I don't want something fancy, but don't want to settle for boring, either.

Adapted from:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Creamy Spinach Enchiladas

10oz pkg baby spinach, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
6oz shredded Cheddar
2 4.5oz cans chopped green chiles
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed

1) Heat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, mix together the spinach, corn, 1 cup of the Cheddar and 1 can of the chiles. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, the remaining can of chilies, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
2) Dividing evenly, roll up the spinach mixture in the tortillas (about 1/3 cup per tortilla). Place seam-side down in a shallow baking dish. Top with the cream sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup of Cheddar. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Review: I used the whole container of cream, as I'm used to having lots of enchilada sauce for them to bubble in. However, that was definitely too much and just seemed to wash out the flavor. I thought this recipe could have been an interesting switch from a typical enchilada and sauce dish, but it was a disappointment. It was filling, and I believe healthy. But, I reallllllllly love enchilada sauce and kept lamenting that I didn't have any. I would have preferred that this recipe be more of a burrito in cream sauce recipe.

Adapted from:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Key Lime Pie With A Pretzel Crust

1 cup, plus 2 Tbs very finely ground salted pretzel crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
7 Tbs butter, melted
4 large egg yolks
2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup key lime juice
3 Tbs lime juice (the juice of 1 lime)
zest of 1 lime (about 2 tsp)

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick baking spray.
2) Crush the pretzels until very fine; processing in a food processor for about 30 seconds works well.
3) Add the sugar and melted butter, mixing to combine; you can do this right in the food processor. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Pour pie weights in, to maintain the shape of the crust.
4) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust has firmed up. Remove the pie weights.
5) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk.
6) Add the lime juices and zest. Mix well, though the mixture should thicken almost immediately.
7) Pour into the crust and smooth with a spatula.
8) Bake the pie for 28 to 32 minutes, until the filling is set, with a small spot in the middle still soft-looking. Cool and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, before serving.
9) To serve, garnish with crumbled pretzels.

Review: I used unsalted pretzels, as I feared the crust would be too salty otherwise. I did sprinkle the crust with a bit of salt before tossing it into the oven to bake. I was super excited to make this, as I don't usually include zest in recipes because it's a waste of a lime. However, this recipe actually used the juice from said lime, so I pulled out my microplane and zested away. Nothing was wasted and I got to do something a little fancy! Everyone raved about the pie. The consistency was great all the way through and the flavor was a bit on the tangy side. I wonder if leaving out the regular lime juice and subbing in extra key lime juice would have made it less tangy.

Adapted from:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chocolate Lover's Cheesepie

15 graham crackers
6 Tbs butter, melted
3 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 12oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Mix crumbs with melted butter in a medium sized bowl. Once fully mixed, dump into a buttered pie plate and press evenly across the bottom of the pan and up the sides, forming a pie crust. Fill with ceramic pie weights and bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Once the crust has been removed from the oven, increase the oven temp to 450F and preheat to bake the cheesepie. (and take out those pie weights!)
2) Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Stir in 1 2/3 cups chocolate chips; pour into crust.
3) Bake 10 minutes. Without opening oven door, reduce temperature to 250F; continue baking 30 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven to wire rack. Cool completely. Cover; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
4) Place remaining 1/3 cup chips and whipping cream in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) for 20 to 30 seconds or just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cool slightly; spread over top of cheesepie. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until topping is set. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesepie.

Review: Once again, I misread the directions! I didn't get whipped cream, because I don't like whipped cream. Unfortunately, I needed the 'heavy cream' to make a chocolate shell for the top of this! Oops!! So, instead, my dish had extra chips on the inside. It worked out just fine, as the cheesepie absolutely filled my pie plate and I fear pouring the shell on top would have just oozed off and onto the counter. This was absolutely delicious, though one of my princesses thought it had too much chocolate. Is there really such a thing?!!

Adapted from:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese

1 pkg penne
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups milk
4 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 10oz box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1) Preheat oven to 375F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Add salt and cook pasta to al dente.
2) While the pasta water comes to a boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat and heat the oil and butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, and cook until they are very soft, about 10 minutes.
3) Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk the wine into the pan, cooking for another minute to burn off the alcohol. Whisk the milk into the pan. Add the spinach, artichokes, salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 minutes more. Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.
4) Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle some more Fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano over the top, and then sprinkle the bread crumbs across the top of the dish. Bake until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Review: This was an amazingly yummy dish! I was afraid to make it at first, as I thought I was going to have a lot of stirring in making a cheese sauce (I really should fully read the directions more often!). However, this came together fairly quickly. On the other hand, it also took about 45 minutes for my dish to brown and be fully done. It was worth it, though. This had a bit of a tangy flavor and wasn't overly heavy like most mac 'n cheese.

Adapted from: