Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pork Chops and Apples

A little bit of a throwback dish :) but I just recently purchased a bunch of pork chops and looking for a preparation.  No special preparation on the port, just assorted seasonings like salt, pepper, chili powder, Old Bay, etc.  The apples were just sauteed in the same pan as the pork...this way you don't need to add any seasoning.  Just add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a little olive oil and a pat of butter and sautee until soft.  For the side I put half quinoa and half brown rice into a rice cooker.  Once the switches to warm, add some chopped broccoli for a few minutes.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Carrot Cake

It was the old neighborhood's annual Easter party and egg hunt

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups oil
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups grated carrots
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare one 9”x 13” sheet pan by lining with parchment or wax paper.
Mix together in a bowl together flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a bigger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla for about minute or so. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix for about 2 minutes more. Add the grated carrots. 
Pour batter in prepared cake pans and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should be dry when taken out. Cool then fill and frost with cream cheese frosting.   To make the cream cheese frosting: a bowl beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add in icing sugar and beat for a minute. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute.

Fresh Berry and Lemon Curd Tart

This week was Book Club week..I belong to two different book clubs and they came in the same week this time around - AND I didn't finish the book for either club whoopsie!  But I did sign up for dessert for both meet ups.  I forgot to take a picture of the other club's dessert but will post on the recipe.  For the second book club of the week I made a fruit tart.  I LOVE LOVE fruit tarts as they are so simple and showcase the fruit of the season :)  The lemon curd was WAY too tangy but all in all ok as I like lemon.  This is a great anytime dessert...just make a sweet pie crust, add a curd or pudding and then pile on whatever fruit of the season.


Lots of fresh berries, washed and dried

Tart Shell
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg

Lemon Curd
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons zested and juiced
1 stick unsalted butter

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg and beat well, scraping down the sides to ensure a well blend.  Add flour and mix until dough forms.  Roll rough into a ball and put in fridge for about an hour.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Flour workspace and roll out dough to about 1/2 thick.  Use rolling pin to roll up dough and then lay out onto your tart pan.  Press dough firmly into pan, trim edges then prick the bottom with a fork to release steam when baking.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and cook completely.

In a pot add egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest.  Heat on medium until mixture bubbles, making sure to continuously whisk the entire time. Cook for about 5 minutes or until egg mixture starts to become opaque.  Remove from heat and add the butter in one tablespoon chunks and stir well.  Cool completely.

Assemble tart by spreading curd into tart shell.  Then arrange berries on top as desired.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been wanting to make this soup for a long long time...ever since Chelsea made it for the holidays....and it was so super easy and crazy delicious.  What a wonderful way to use up extra chicken from any meal, especially if you happen to make whole roasted chicken in the crock pot.  If you happen to do this, make sure to save all the fat and juice for soup making!  So nice and heartwarming...especially cozy for a rainy day.  I garnished with avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream but you can also add cilantro, jalepenos, chips, hot sauce and whatever else suits you...   There are no carbs in the soup itself, so I had my serving with some leftover pasta.  Although I think the next time I could add some black or pinto beans or even Spanish rice.  Some folks recommend just having toasted tortilla strips as a garnish but let's be honest...that's not enough carbs.

2 cups cooked chicken shredded
3 cups chicken stock (fat and juice from crock pot whole chicken is best)
1 package canned tomatoes (I use a 26oz tetra pack of crushed tomatoes)
1/2 yellow onion diced

Optional Ingredients
1 carrot diced
1 bell pepper diced
2 stalks celery diced
1-2 jalepeno peppers diced with seeds removed
2 cups cooked black or pinto beans or spanish rice (add in the last 30 minutes of cooking)

Diced avocado, chopped scallions, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce or salsa

Put first set of ingredients and preferred optional ingredients in a crock pot and set on high for 6 hours.  Serve with preferred garnishes.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nana's Birthday - Hummingbird Cake

It was Nana's birthday so we needed a cake to take up with us to Sacramento.  Nana's birthday is St. Patrick's Day and well it's been warm here in Northern California so it's springtime and we needed a springtime cake!  I got the Hummingbird cake recipe from the Magnolia's cookbook and paired with cream cheese frosting and some well placed sprinkles, it practically looks like an easter egg :)  This cake has crushed pineapple and mashed bananas so it's hearty like a carrot cake with a strong banana flavor and the pineapple adds a toothiness that I appreciated.    The mix of vanilla and banana really bring out the banana flavor and fragrance...reminiscent of banana bread with a little something extra.  Original recipe called for pecans but I don't like baked nuts so I removed them.

Not planned but the plate matched the cake glad that spring is here!

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon each Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups ripe mashed banana
1 eight ounce can of crushed pineapple (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9" cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a mixer, beat together the oil and sugar until smooth (~3 min).  Add eggs one at a time and beat until light.  Add vanilla, bananas and pineapple and mix well.  Add the flour mixture in batches, beating well after each addition.  

Pour evenly into the cake pans and bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  This is a denser, moister cake dough so you may need to bake a little longer.  

Cool completely then frost with cream cheese frosting.

1 eight ounce package of cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
4-6 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients in a mixer on low until incorporated then turn on med/high and beat until light and fluffy.  Frost in between cake layers, top and sides as desired.

Linh's Baby Shower Cake - Lemon and Cream Cheese

So excited to celebrate my dear friend Linh's growing baby belly this past weekend.  It's been a bit of a baby boom lately with our college friends.  What's fun is that there are a whole bunch of kids all within a year or two of each other.  At the shower we had my 2 month old baby...Linh's third trimester belly and Nicole's second trimester belly.  To add to the minis...we had 8 year old Clara and Portia, 5 year olds Aria and Donut and 3 year old Ellia.  Nacho made an appearance at the end to add a little Y chromosome to the mix.  Warms my heart to see our next generation....

When I asked Linh to pick a flavor, she asked for either a lemon or red velvet cake.  And well, since I'm not a chocolate eater I decided to make a lemon cake...why test my chocolate baking skills for a baby shower?  no way - what if it sucked?  I think this was my best lemon yet with a nice moist crumb and fragrant lemon flavor...and paired with a lemon cream cheese frosting gave it a nice tang.  

Much to all of our surprise, Linh decided to not find out the gender of the baby.  So the shower was in a neutral color palette (yellow and gray) and chevron design with a safari theme.  I tried to follow that modern aesthetic for the cake as well.  I really like the fondant animals but wasn't able to get quite the effect I was hoping for on the chevron...but no one seemed to mind :)

two views of the cake :)

1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9" pans or three 8" pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Mix the flours together and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Add the flour in batches alternating with milk, juice and zest.  Beat well after each addition.  

Pour evenly into cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pan for 15 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost with lemon cream cheese frosting recipe below.

1 eight ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup unsalted softened butter (2 cups)
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a mixer and turn on low until incorporated, then turn on med/fast and beat until light and fluffy.  Frost cake layers, side and top.

Baked fried chicken

I LOVE fried chicken...but who doesn't?  The problem is you can't eat fried chicken all the time...otherwise you'd have type 2 diabetes like Paula Deen.  I hate frying things at I go out for fried food...and at home I'll bake it.  It's not the never is but the key is finding the right flavor combo to make it as close as possible.

This last batch wasn't too shabby.  I marinated in buttermilk for about 24 hours.  I've read recipes where they season the buttermilk but I didn't go that far just yet.  After marinating, drain off buttermilk.  In a large ziploc bag (gallon size) crush up about a cup of Ritz crackers, add 1 cup of italian breadcrumbs, teaspoon of salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.  Toss the chicken and then bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  The Ritz crackers with all their hydrogenated oils makes it taste buttery-licious :)  I'm basically doing shake n bake for my family = rad