Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nutella Cupcakes

There's a little less than 2 hours left of my birthday, so why not post a blog about my incredible birthday cupcakes. :) Unfortunately, this year my mother did not bake me a cake, but I wasn't going to let a birthday go by without one. So, I decided to bake my very own birthday cake. I opened a couple cookbooks and perused several recipes before deciding to open up my Pinterest account. As soon as I saw one of the pictures I pinned; I knew I wanted to make these nutella cupcakes. If you know me then you know I love nutella. And, why wouldn't I make this for my birthday? So, I did. Sigh. The cupcake is simply heaven. I loooove them. I have to thank My Baking Addiction for her chocolate cake and nutella frosting recipes. Soooo good!!! I'm so happy I came across her blog. Both of these recipes are deeeelicious. I'm sorry if I posted too many pictures, but that's how much I loved these cupcakes. Enjoy and here's to many more birthdays!

Chocolate Cup Cake Ingredients (Makes 24):
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Take the bowl from your standing mixture and add in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together to combine. Take a medium sized bowl and add in your buttermilk, vegetable oil (I used canola oil), eggs, and vanilla. Stir. Slowly add the liquids to the dry ingredients while the speed of the mixture is on low. Once combined; slowly add in the coffee. Now, I was pretty concerned because the mixture was very liquidy (sorry, just made up a new word). Have no fear; just pour the mixture directly into your prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a couple cupcakes. Remove from oven and cool completely. 
The fun part; either use an apple core to hollow out a circle into the cupcake and add in about 1/2 tsp to a teaspoon of nutella. Put the cake that you scooped out back on top. I ended up using a sharp paring knife to cut a circle in the cupcake instead of the apple core. I guess you can use a piping bag to pipe in the nutella directly into the cupcake, but I didn't care to try this since I can barely pipe frosting onto a cupcake.

Nutella Frosting Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

 Add the nutella and butter into the bowl of your standing mixture. Stir to combine. Add in confectioner's sugar. I ended up using about 3/4 of the 2 lb bag. Add in the salt. I used regular vanilla extract and used about 1/2 tbsp of it. Pour that in. Pour in your heavy cream. Stir well.You may need to add a couple more drops of the heavy cream to get it to the right consistency. Either spread the frosting onto your cupcakes using a butter knife or use a piping bag. As you can tell from my pictures I attempted the piping bag and wasn't all that successful at it. My dad thought they looked like fettuccine noodles. Ha! Store cupcakes in an airtight container and enjoy!

Honey Sesame Cashew Brittle

The second honey recipe I tried is from Cake Batter and Bowl's blog. I didn't take any pictures, but I also tried a honey fudge and honey caramels. I didn't really care for either of these, because they didn't turn out too great. However, I really loved this brittle. The only caveat is that it's very, very sticky to eat. It's best to chop them in little pieces. The honey flavor really came thru in this brittle. I also loved the taste of the sesame seeds and the cashews. It was pretty easy to make, but you do need a candy thermometer. I will definitely make this recipe again. I hope you enjoy it. It's really delicious. Enjoy!

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup water
1 cup salted cashews
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Prepare an 8x8 baking pan by placing parchment paper in it. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside. Now, take a small sauce pan and turn on your stove to medium-high heat. Pour in the sugar, honey, and water. Stir. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the candy thermometer reaches a temperature of 250 degrees. Pour in your cashews, and keep boiling until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Cool for an hour or so. I actually ended up refridgerating mine for an hour longer. Then, I took it out of the fridge and used my the bottom of the knife sharpener and chopped the brittle into pieces. Store in an air-tight container and keep cool. Enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Simple Salmon and Grilled Asparagus "Fries"

Sometimes, nothing beats a simple meal. I’m all for trying complicated, multi-step recipes with a laundry list of ingredients on a quiet Saturday. Occasionally, Steve and I will make our own pasta, which is an event. In fact, I’ve been known to pass over certain recipes because they look too simple. But this salmon is quite delicious with a really simple, improvised marinade. It took us awhile to find the right way to cook it but now Steve is a salmon searing star! And I would honestly eat these grilled asparagus spears over French fries any day. Crispy, salty goodness, and way more healthy. I’m convinced even veggie haters would love them (I’m looking at you, Emily!). This is something you can easily throw together any weeknight when you’re too tired to try something complicated, and yet it’s elegant and tasty enough to have when you’re entertaining company.

Salmon Marinade
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
pinch of salt
2-4 salmon fillets

I honestly eyeball this marinade completely. It's not one of those that has to be perfect. If you just get equal parts oil and soy sauce and a little bit of everything else, you're good. Mix all the ingredients aside from the salmon in a resealable plastic bag. It doesn’t have to be completely mixed, but just make sure the spices aren’t stuck to the side of the bag or something. Then put in your salmon, seal the bag with as little air as possible, and let them marinate in the fridge. As with most marinades, the longer you leave it in, the better. I tend to think 1-2 hours is the best.

We’ve started using the 2-2-2 method for cooking salmon, and it has been turning out perfectly for us. Keep in mind that salmon is generally not supposed to be cooked to a light pink all the way throughout. The chef recommended cooking of salmon is usually medium, so that the center is hot but not fully cooked. (Cooking it so it’s light pink throughout is akin to cooking your steak well-done).

Heat a little oil in a skillet and when it’s hot, start with your skin side down for two minutes. Move it just a little after about 30 seconds just to make sure it’s not sticking. Then flip it and cook for another two minutes, using the same technique. Finally, flip it back once more (skin side down) and cook for about 2 minutes more. It’ll be more if the salmon is thicker, less when it’s thinner. You can actually tell how it’s cooking by looking at the side of the salmon—that’s what the inside will look like. Now you're ready to grill the asparagus!

Bunch of asparagus spears
Olive oil
Garlic powder

Grilling asparagus is kind of a revelation. The little bit of char is just perfect. Start by chopping the bottoms off your asparagus (that part is hard and chewy). Next, put the asparagus on a plate or in a rectangular Tupperware. Drizzle with oil. You don’t need to go crazy, just enough that will cover the asparagus when you mix it up. Sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper. I say for this, don’t be stingy. But you know how salty you like things so adjust accordingly. Also sprinkle on garlic powder. Use your hands to mix it up and make sure all the asparagus is coated. Heat up your grill and use tongs to place the asparagus directly on it. Make sure you go across the grate so that you don’t lose spears! Cook them for about 4-6 minutes, rotating them so that no sides get burnt, but they do get a little char. You know they are done when they are a little bendy, but not limp. Pull them off the grill and serve with your salmon. If they even make it that far. Anyway, as you can see this is super fast, very simple and incredibly tasty as well. 

(click here for printable recipe)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged Cheddar Soup

When I found this recipe on Closet Cooking, the photos looked so creamy, warm and delicious that I knew I needed to try it. However, I have to admit I was skeptical. I like cauliflower a lot, but for some reason the idea of pureeing it and turning it into soup didn’t seem all that appetizing. But I am really glad that I put those thoughts aside and tried it. It was just as creamy and belly-warming as the photos made it look, and the aged white cheddar gave it an extra level of flavor. Even better, it was easy to make. Just give yourself enough time to roast the cauliflower (about 20-30 minutes). The only thing I might change when I make it again (and I will!) is to substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth. Just a personal preference. My husband also mentioned that it would be good with some meat, and i agree that some sliced sausage or cubed ham would be a tasty addition.

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups aged white cheddar, shredded
1 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Try to keep the cauliflower florets relatively the same size so they will cook evenly. Toss the florets with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste until they are evenly covered. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast them until they are just golden, about 20-30 minutes. You may want to stir them halfway through.

Once the cauliflower is roasted, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook until it softens (5-7 minutes), then add the garlic and thyme for about a minute. Finally, add the broth and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup with your handy immersion blender, if you have one. If not, be careful transferring it to your standard blender, and think about doing it in batches. Once it’s pureed and smooth, take it back to low heat and mix in the cheese. Yay, cheese! Let it melt, taste it, and salt and pepper to your liking. Then mix in the milk or cream and remove from the heat. I used milk and it was still really creamy, so unless you really want the extra calories, I don’t think you need to step up to cream. But hey, no judgment if you do. That’s it! Ladle into bowls and enjoy it.

(click here for printable recipe)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chamomile Cupcakes w/ Honey Glaze

So, the secret ingredient for our next Iron Chef is...honey!! I chose to make a dessert, and I have to say this one is a doozey. I've made 4 different recipes, and nothing is really making me go; wow! These cupcakes are the first recipe I tried. This recipe came out of my newest cookbook; Joy the Baker. I love her blog, and she published this beautiful cookbook. For $12; I highly recommend it. Mainly the recipes are yummy desserts, but she threw in a couple appetizer options, breakfast, and drinks. The best way to describe these cupcakes is; interesting. The chamomile tea leaves give the cupcake a bit of crunch, which was odd. I found that people either liked this recipe or didn't. I liked it, but it didn't make me go wow! So, it's onward to the next recipe for iron chef honey! Enjoy!

Ingredients for cupcake:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons dried chamomile (I got mine from tea bags)
1/2 cup milk (I used two percent)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, line 1 cupcake pan with liners. It really only makes enough batter for 12 cupcakes. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
In your standing mixture bowl; combine the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and chamomile. Stir for about 5 minutes until it becomes a sandy mixture. While that's beating; combine the milk, egg, and vanilla extract into a small bowl. Pour half the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour the remaining milk mixture into the bowl. Beat for 1 minute. Pour the batter using an ice cream scooper into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake in the oven for 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick (when inserted) comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Onto the glaze...

Ingredients for Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey
about 5 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of salt

Take a medium sized bowl, and whisk together the honey, heavy cream powdered sugar, and salt. The glaze will be rather thick, so you may need to add additional heavy cream. Use a butter knife, or whatever makes it easy for you, spread the glaze on top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle with chamomile leaves. Enjoy!

(click here for printable recipe)

Steak Fajitas

I don’t normally look to celebrity chefs for recipes. I’m not sure why, but I guess I just figure, they’re not that unique. And it never seems like you can take it for your own. You’re constantly saying, “Oh that was Giada’s recipe,” or “I got this one from Bobby Flay.” When it’s just some regular schmo’s recipe, you can more easily adopt it as your own, so I tend to go that route. But I was up early one morning (before we got dogs and this became an every day thing) and I happened to see Tyler Florence’s Ultimate show on TV. He was making fajitas. And even though it was way too early in the morning to start thinking about dinner, I did. And ever since then, this has been our go-to for tasty fajitas. It’s juicy, citrusy and just a touch spicy.

Marinade Ingredients:
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 pounds skirt or flank steak, trimmed of fat

Salt and pepper
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced

Flour tortillas
Sour cream
Shredded cheese

The steak can sit in the marinade for up to 4 hours (don’t go longer or the citrus will start to make it tough), so be sure to work in enough time for it to sit. I would say that 1-2 hours is the sweet spot. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a blender or food processor (or use your immersion blender if you have one) and puree until mostly smooth. Add the steak to the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for awhile.

Meanwhile, you can slice up your bell pepper and onion. I like to use a sweet onion for this, and usually orange and yellow bell peppers, although if you like red and green, go for it. Slice them into strips and throw them into a bowl. Add a little olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and stir to coat. You could also add lime juice if you like, but I think the marinade is plenty of citrus, so I don’t.

Once the marinade has done its work, remove the steak and discard the marinade. Grill the steak for a short time. Since it’s a thinner cut it will cook faster so keep that in mind. We do about 3-4 minutes a side. After the steak is done, set it aside and let it rest while you get the onions and peppers cooking. We put them in a hot pan and just cook them for about 5-7 minutes, stirring so they don’t get burned. If you have a grill plate you could cook them on that as well.

We also like to heat the tortillas on the grill. Just about 30 seconds or so on a side. You don’t want them to get crunchy, just slightly warm. Then you can slice your steak into thin pieces and start constructing your fajita (I trust you know how to do that). And there you have it. I hope you like it, and if you do, you can thank Tyler Florence. 

(Click here for printable recipe)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Barramundi w/ Strawberry Mango Salsa

Doan came in second at Iron Chef Strawberry for her Salmon and Strawberry Mango Salsa. It was deeelicious. I really think she would have won if it weren't for Cara's clever Biscuits with Strawberry and Chipotle jam. I've been wanting to make Doan's Strawberry Salsa ever since, and tonight I finally made it. And, it was just as tasty as I remembered. Doan said she just seasoned her salmon with salt and pepper and seared it in a pan with butter. I'm not a big fan of salmon, so I used the barramundi in my freezer. I ended up using this recipe from Good Taste Foods' blog. It was seriously yummy. Why does butter have to make everything so much better? Sigh. But, I'm definitely going to keep both of these recipes in my pocket. I really think you will enjoy this dish. And, it tasted even better with my strawberry mojito. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Strawberry Salsa:
¾ cup of OJ or half of a fresh orange
1 Jalepeno pepper diced w/ or without seeds depending on your spice level.
2 tablespoons of red onion diced
1 pint of strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons of lime juice or juice of ½ to 1 whole lime.
1 teaspoon of minced ginger
1 tablespoon of honey
1 whole fairly ripped mango diced.
1 tablespoon cilantro
Pinch of salt

To make the salsa; mix all the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl. I let it sit in my fridge for about an hour so all the juices absorbed.

Ingredients for Fish:
4 Barramundi fillets
2oz butter
2 teaspoons of Paprika
2 teaspoons of Cajun Spice

Brush both sides of the fish with the butter. Take the paprika and cajun spice and combine in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the fish. The recipe doesn't necessarily call for this, but go ahead and add a couple tablespoons of butter in your sautee pan. Heat the pan to medium. Once the pan is nice and warm, add in your fish. Cook the fish on each side for four minutes or until it's cooked through. Place your fish on a plate and pour some of the strawberry mango salsa on top. Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crusty No-Knead Bread

Darn. I found a recipe that is simple to make and oh so good. And, it's bread. My weakness. Guys, this recipe is seriously easy and beautiful and delicious. And, you can do plenty of things to make it more interesting. Yesterday, I opted to try the plain version. But, today I decided to make an herb bread. I'll let you know tomorrow how it turns out. But, this plain bread was so freaking good. I mean; it really is amazing. I found this recipe from Simply So Good's blog. But, it sounds like the recipe originated from the New York Times. The only downfall to this recipe is you have to wait overnight before you can eat it. And, you need a cast iron dutch oven. The reason for this is that you need a heavy lid to keep it sealed shut. Even though you have to wait so long it's worth it!!! Try it and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

3 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast (or active yeast)
1 1/2 cups water (cold water is fine)

To make the bread all you do is take a large bowl and add in the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir together. Pour in the water and mix thoroughly with a spatula. The dough will look rather gooey and sticky. No worries. Place plastic wrap over the bowl. Set aside on your counter for 12 to 18 hours. The dough will rise overnight. After 12 hours or so, pour quite a bit of flour on your counter and even on your hands. The dough will be very sticky. Pour the dough out onto the counter and form into a ball. Place plastic wrap from earlier over the dough.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Just so you know; you do not have to grease your dutch-oven. Once the oven is ready, place your dutch oven in and let it heat up for 30 minutes. Be sure to use your oven-mitts and take out the dutch oven. Add more flour to your hands, and carefully drop the dough into the dutch oven. Cover it with the lid. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Take it from the oven and then remove the lid. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven. Carefully remove the bread from the dutch oven and set on a wire rack to cool. And, there you have it; glorious, easy, delicious crusty bread! One thing I found out is that if you cover the bread with foil it will make the bread soft. Probably best to just keep it out on the counter.

Now, if you want to add herbs, cheese, or what have you to the bread just make sure you add it to the flour mixture prior to adding in the water. For the herb mixture, I added fresh chopped rosemary, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning to the flour. Then, I poured in the water. I can't wait to try it tomorrow! Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)

Mango Sorbet

It's March. And, it's warm. This is unusual for this time of the year to be so warm. Not that I'm complaining. I'm from Florida after all, and even though I've lived here in Richmond for 19 years; I still haven't gotten used to the cold. So, I was really craving sorbet. I really wanted watermelon sorbet, but since watermelons aren't in season right now I had to choose something else. I had some frozen mango in my freezer that I had purchased from Trader Joe's. I decided to give mango sorbet a whirl. I found this recipe from Annie's Eats . But, it's actually a David Lebovitz recipe. I ended up purchasing his Perfect Scoop cookbook from amazon, because Annie's Eat highly recommended it. I'm sure you will see more recipes from his cookbook on this blog. Anyway, I thought the frozen mangoes did a good job. The recipe calls for fresh mangoes. The only thing is that it was rather sweet. I probably will cut back on the amount of sugar used next time I make this recipe. Enjoy!

2 large, ripe mangoes (about 2 lbs.) (I used a large bag of frozen mangoes from trader joe's)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp. dark rum (I used light rum)
Pinch of salt

If you are using fresh mangoes make sure you peel and pit the mangoes. Then dice them. Mix the mangoes, sugar, water, lime juice, salt, and rum in a blender. You may need to adjust the sugar, rum, or lime juice. Pour into a bowl, and cool thoroughly in the fridge. Pour into your ice cream mixer and follow your manufacturer's instructions. Then pour into an air-tight container to freeze.

A little tip that I never knew, according to David; adding a little bit of alcohol to the ice cream or sorbet mixture helps it to stay smooth and to keep ice crystals off of the sorbet. I highly recommend that cookbook. Interesting stuff!

(Click here for printable recipe)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Skillet Chicken with Spanish Rice

I only have to tell you one thing about this recipe. After his first helping, my husband said, and I quote, “I’m going to make myself sick eating this.” Meaning he was going to eat until he was uncomfortable and spend the rest of the night and some of the next day moaning about overeating. And he did.

It’s not on the level of Shanksgiving™ but I do think this meal turned pretty great. Especially because at the start it was looking to be a disaster. The recipe, which I found at Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ©, called for TWO cans of green enchilada sauce, and I had only bought one. Normally I’m not too worried about an ingredient shortage, but in this case, 10oz is a lot to make up. But, like a kitchen ninja I deftly changed course and decided to add some tomato sauce and chipotle peppers. We also used Fresno chiles instead of Poblano, because we couldn’t find the latter. My improvising success rate is middling, so the fact that this turned out so delicious was a pleasant surprise. It was a smidge on the spicy side, so if you don’t like super spicy, adjust the number of chipotle peppers you put in.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 Fresno peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (10 oz.) can mild green enchilada sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
3 chipotle peppers, minced (fewer for less spicy)
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat your oil in the pan over medium high heat and once it’s hot, brown the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. No need to cook it through. Set the chicken aside and in the same pan sautee the onion and fresno pepper for around 3-4 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another 30 seconds or so, stirring and making sure not to burn the garlic. Next add in the enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, water and rice. Mix it all up until it’s combined and then bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn it down to simmer and add the chicken back in, pushing it down into the sauce as much as possible. Cover the skillet and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes to keep the rice from sticking on the bottom (this was very necessary). It’s done when most of the liquid is absorbed and it’s looking like something you really want to eat. I hope you enjoy it, but not so much that you overindulge and make yourself miserable.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lemon Bundt Cake

When life hands you lemons you bake a cake! At least that's what I decided to do with some lemons sitting in my fridge. Since I really wanted to bake something yesterday; I decided to try this bundt cake recipe from my Cooking Illustrated cookbook. However, I didn't have buttermilk on hand, and since my car was in the shop I didn't have a way of getting to the grocery store. Fortunately, my Joy the Baker cookbook explained to me a way where I can make my own butter milk. All you do is take a cup of low-fat or skim milk and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (or vinegar) and let it rest for two minutes. And, there you have it. Homemade buttermilk. This recipe was simply delicious. Of course, you have to be fan of lemons, but it was really moist. I think that might be why the cake fell apart when trying to take it out of the bundt pan. Oh well. It still tasted good. Enjoy!

Ingredients for cake:
3 tbsp grated lemon zest plus 3 tbsp lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar

Ingredients for icing:
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp buttermilk
2 cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

Take out your bundt cake pan and spray it with cooking spray and lightly flour the pan. Set your oven to 350 degrees.
Now, take out a small bowl and add in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Take a large bowl, and whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Next, take a medium sized bowl and add in the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice mixture. Set aside.
Now, put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 3 minutes or until they are light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, and add in half the eggs. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add in the rest of the eggs. Mix until incorporated.
Next, reduce speed to low and add in a little of the flour mixture. Stir. Add in about half the lemon mixture. Stir. Add in a little more of the flour mixture. Stir. Add in the rest of the lemon mixture. Stir. Add in the rest of the flour mixture. Stir. Stop the mixer. Stir by hand one more time. Then, pour batter into the bundt pan. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until golden or until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake on the rack.

While the cake is baking (or cooling); begin making the icing. Take a medium sized bowl and add in the 2 tbsp of lemon juice, the powdered sugar, and buttermilk. Whisk. Add in more lemon juice only if the icing is too thick. I didn't need to add the additional tablespoon of lemon juice. Pour half the glaze on the warm cake. Let stand for one hour. Then pour the remaining half of the glaze onto the cake. Best eaten the day it's made, but can be wrapped up and eaten the next day. It will take consistency of pound cake once eaten the next day or two. Enjoy!

(click here for printable recipe)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps Take 2

The last time I made chicken lettuce wraps they turned out pretty good. But not really so good that I felt the desire to make them again. I’m not sure why. But when I saw this recipe for PF Chang’s style chicken lettuce wraps over at Iowa Girl Eats, I was inspired and made a double batch to take to a party. They were delicious! Much more flavorful than the other recipe, and they make great leftovers too. I’ve already made them twice so if that is the test of a good recipe, they pass.

1lb ground chicken breast
1/2 medium onion, minced
salt & pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch nob fresh ginger, peeled & minced
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
Lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry

Cook and stir the chicken, onion and some salt & pepper in a hot skillet until the chicken is just about done. Toss in your garlic and ginger and cook a little longer, until there is no pinkness to the chicken.

While you’re doing this (or before if it’s easier), combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds to melt the peanut butter a little bit. Whisk it up to combine (the whisk helps with the peanut butter) and then pour over the chicken. Add a touch more pepper and stir it all together. Add in the onions and water chestnuts and cook about 2 more minutes. You could probably add in any veggies you want, but the water chestnuts give a really nice crunch to it.

And that’s really it. You could sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top, but we didn’t. I found some butter lettuce to serve with it, and was a little disappointed in the flimsiness of the leaf. Honestly, good old iceberg works better. This is definitely a recipe that I will come back to again and again. Hope you do as well! 

(Click here for printable recipe)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Strawberry Pie

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe, yet! I don't know what I have been waiting for, but this is by far one of my favorite pies in the whole-wide world! For me, a classic southern pie is not apple. It's not pecan. It's not sweet potato. It's good ol' strawberry pie! I don't know where this recipe came from, but it's one my mother has made on many an occasion. I promise you that if you like strawberries you'll love this pie. It really isn't that difficult to make, either! Enjoy!

Ingredients for filling:
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1 cup water
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 tbsp strawberry gelatin

Ingredients for pie crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
3-4 tbsp iced cold water

Let's start with the pie crust. Set your oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in the shortening. Crumble together using your hands. It should look like corn meal. Add about 3 tbsp of the cold water, and using your hands combine together. Throw some flour onto your counter, and roll out the dough. Put some plastic wrap around the dough, and set in the freezer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from the freezer. Roll out the dough, and place in a lightly oiled pie dish. Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the pie is a lightly golden color. Remove from oven, and let cool on your counter.

Now for the pie filling. Take a small saucepan and add in the water, sugar, and cornstarch. Set the burner to medium to medium-high heat. Stir together. Once the mixture has heated up some, start stirring continuously. Eventually, you should be able to see the bottom of the pan and the mixture should start to thicken. Once, the mixture has thickened remove from the burner. Add in the strawberry gelatin. Stir. Let cool some. Add in the strawberries. Stir. Now, pour the strawberry mixture into the pie dish. Set in the fridge for a couple hours. Cool thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream if you so desire. Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cajun Spiced Chicken

It's now March. This time last year I had the flu for the first time ever in my life. It was rough. The only good thing that came out of it was I lost 5 pounds in a week. Yeah, that's how bad is having the flu. This time I expect to not get the flu, and work hard (on my own) to lose 5 pounds. So, I decided to try Gina's recipe (from Skinny Taste) for Cajun Spiced Flounder with Tomatoes. However, I didn't have fish, but decided to try it anyway with chicken. If you read some of the comments on her page, she specifies that if you use chicken to make sure you don't overcook it. Well, I kind of overcooked the chicken. But, it was still really tasty. Plus, my favorite part of this recipe is how easy it is to make it. I was skeptical about how good it would taste because there weren't very many ingredients. But, sometimes the lack of ingredients can really wow you. See my Quick Tomato Sauce recipe. Anyway, I think you will really enjoy this recipe. Enjoy!

1 tsp olive oil
4 (6 oz) pieces flounder fillets (or any white fish such as tilapia) (I used chicken breasts)
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper (I used chopped carrots)
2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped (I used one can of diced tomatoes since I was serving just myself)
1 tbsp Cajun spice seasoning
1 jalapeno, chopped finely (optional...this isn't part of the original recipe)

Set your stove to medium. Set a deep skillet on your stove, and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil has heated up; throw in your chopped onions and garlic. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add in the cajun spices, the peppers (or whichever vegetable you choose), the tomatoes, and a little salt and pepper. At this point, I decided to cook my chicken in another skillet with a little olive oil and salt/pepper. Sautee both sides for a couple minutes. Then add it to the skillet with the tomatoes. I served mine with Quinoa so you may want to start cooking your side around this time if not before. Let the chicken simmer for five minutes. I think I let mine simmer for about 10 minutes and that might have been why the chicken was a little over-done. I served my chicken along with the tomato mixture over a bed of quinoa. It really was delicious. Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)