Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finger-Licking Good!

Unfortunately, last month I did not get to do the Daring Bakers' Challenge; however, this month I was excited to see the recipe...a caramel cake. One of my parents' favorite desserts is a caramel cake. This one, however, proved to be quite a bit different, though delicious! I saved the cake for the end of the month when my entire family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. Typically, we have pies for dessert. My grandmother always made pecan pies. This year, I was pleased to see that the caramel cake was the ONLY dessert, out of pecan pies, chocolate pie, and baklava (which was DELICIOUS!), to be completely eaten by the end of the day on Thursday. I got many compliments...even a few silent ones from the kiddos! :-) Obviously the kids enjoyed the icing and no one here complained of it being too sweet. I thought it was perfect! The only thing that my family found strange was the size. Several people asked it if was supposed to be that short. Because I didn't have a deep dish cake pan, I used two regular sized ones and made a layer cake. However, it was shorter than your normal layer cake, ending up at the height that I think the deep dish pan would have produced. Despite that comment, no one really minded...hey, it just left more room for that baklava...or more cake! Thanks to Dolores, Alex, Jenny, and Natalie for hosting. And biggest thanks to Shuna Fish Lydon for the wonderful recipe! I HIGHLY recommend this cake. Though it did take a bit of hands on time it was not overly difficult and produces a beautiful and delicious cake. Check out more results here.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back...or use an aluminum foil hood!

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Banana Bread a la Jenna

Several weeks ago, I pulled some bananas out of the freezer...I wanted banana bread! Why? Well, I saw a recipe on Jenna's site. This bread turned out great...and it's whole wheat to boot! What else do I expect from Jenna? She's finishing up her internship for culinary school...baking to be specific! This ended up cooking perfectly...something I've had trouble with in my apartment oven. So, pull out some bananas and whip up this healthy banana bread...Thanks, Jenna! Whole Wheat Banana Bread - adapted from Jenna

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup yogurt, vanilla
2 very very ripe bananas
1/2 cup nuts, optional - I had no nuts!

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mash the bananas and add the brown sugar, yogurt and egg. Mix well. In a larger bowl, SIFT the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold together—-do NOT overmix! Pour batter into prepared nonstick (or greased) loaf pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the loaf pan then release and cool 10 more minutes before slicing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leftover Candy Cookies

So, my interview went well. I was able to eat at two new to me restaurants. Julep and Nick's. It was all very good! At Julep I got the tomato and basil quiche with strawberry salad. SO good! The stuffed chicken looked delicious. I'd probably try that next time. At Nick's I got the blackfish. At first, I was a little turned off by the texture of the fish; it is a bit tougher than I'm used to in a fish. However, it grew on me and by the time I was done, I ended up enjoying it. After lunch, we returned to the hospital for a round of 4 20-minute interviews. They all went well though it was hard to come up with questions for a program that I feel I know pretty well. My next interview is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving; so, we'll see how I feel after that one.

The recipe today is one that I got from Anna. After Halloween, I bought a bag of yummy candies on sale; however, I soon realized that I could not handle that bag sitting in my room, so I set off to make some cookies! The candy that I used included the following: KitKat (see it?!) , Reese's Whips (I REALLY like these), and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The Whips ended up being like a peanut butter marshmallow in the cookies. Yum! The base of these cookies is fantastic and could be used for any kind of cookie you want. I highly suggest you try it out! Can you tell I still messed up without a timer?! Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies–aka “Coffeehouse Cookies” - adapted from Cookie Madness

8 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Halloween Candy - whatever you have!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Beat in baking soda and salt. Add flour and stir until it is mixed in.

Stir chocolate chunks into the dough. Cut candy bars into small pieces and stir some of the pieces into the dough.

Scoop 1/4 cups of dough onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly into mounds. Leave about 3 inches between cookies because they will spread as they bake. Press remaining candy (decoratively) into cookie mounds

Bake 14-16 minutes or until cookies are almost set. Do not overbake; centers should be slightly soft. Cool on baking sheet for about 7 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicken Wrap

I have my first interview tomorrow. It's at my home hospital, so I already know all the residents and doctors, but it's still an interview. We start tonight with a dinner at a local restaurant called Julep. I've heard it's good but have never been. I'll post a review later but no pictures as I'll be "officially" on an interview dinner.
All that said, cooking is slim around here. So, let me give you a way to use leftovers from that crock-pot dish. I used it in a wrap for lunch one day and it was delicious! Just use a whole wheat high fiber wrap, place some lettuce on the bottom, top with spaghetti squash followed by some chicken and sauce, wrap in aluminum foil and you're ready to go the next day. When it's time to eat, just place it all (foil and all) in the toaster oven and toast. Be sure to check the inside to see that it's warm! YUM!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Crock Pot Chicken

Last week I thought about doing NoMo....whatever it is when you blog everyday in November. Then I decided that I'd get stressed trying to do that. So, I'll just try to post frequently! Last week, I decided to make a recipe that I found on a friend's website. Casey is a cute and precious friend from college who is now married to Jonathan (a dentist), has a cute 1-year-old Nora, and is expecting again! Needless to say, she's busy. So, this recipe is a great one if you don't have time to stand around in the kitchen. It is a crockpot version of chicken stroganoff. Usually, I'm not a big fan of chicken from the crockpot, and, at first, I thought this was going to have that same texture; but once you put the chicken over whatever you're serving it with, it's a non-factor. I chose to serve mine over spaghetti squash (SO GOOD) but you could use angel hair pasta or rice or even mashed potatoes. I really enjoyed this and even have another post coming with a way to use the leftovers. Originally, I didn't think there was enough chicken, but it ended up being fine. However, I think that if you did want to spread out the sauce some, you could put more chicken and/or mushrooms with no problem. I'd make this again but have a "real" chicken stroganoff I want to try first! Casey, thanks for the recipe.

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff (from Weight Watchers)
1 1/2 lbs of chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used 2 breasts)
1 package of Onion Soup mix (I used Kroger, Lipton's is recommended)
1/4 cup water
1 8 oz. fat free or low fat cream cheese, softened (I used fat free)
1 can fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 4 oz. can of mushrooms, drained (I used 6 oz)

In crockpot, combine chicken, soup mix, and water. Cook on low heat for 4 hours. I cooked for 3 hours and it was ready.
In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, mushroom soup, and mushrooms. Combine with cooked chicken in crockpot. Continue cooking for one additional hour. (4-5 hours cooking time total). Serve over angel hair pasta, spaghetti squash, rice, mashed potatoes...whatever you want!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Apparently, I Need a Kitchen Timer!

I'm on a roll...four posts in a row! Let's see how long I can keep it going. :-) So far, my new rotation has been good. I'm in the child development clinic, which deals with children with learning disorders, ADHD, autism, etc. I'll have to come up with a "healthy" treat to take up there...I have the feeling the ladies up there would prefer that. In other school/work news, I have my first interview in a week. It's here but will still be pretty exciting.

Now, to the food. This is a recipe that I got from Maggie. She is wife of one of our chief residents and she is SUPER cool! I always love checking out her blog to see what kind to "trouble" little C has gotten into or what new recipe I can try out. This time, I found some cookies. Who am I not to try some cookies?! So, Saturday night, I made these to take to a viewing of Sweeny Todd (which is gross but SO fake looking!). First, let me apologize to Maggie...1 - I don't have a kitchen timer that works, which is apparent by the different coloring of the cookies. The lighter color is the perferred end result! 2 - I usually take better pictures but was in a hurry. Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you...these cookies were pretty good. They are not an overly sweet cookie but this only allows you to taste the chocolate goodness even more. The texture is more cakey than crispy but the edges do have a bit of crisp. A yummy combo! So, go try these cookies and enjoy the sour cream in them, I think this (besides the CHOCOLATE!) was Maggie's favorite part. BTW, Maggie, now you're famous! ;-)

Maggie's Cookies (from Martha Stewart and with SLIGHT changes from me)
Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
7 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 TBSP sour cream
1 - 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
optional, nuts if desired

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Beat butter and sugars with mixer on med-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes (this is SUCH a good seems to be the right amount of time, for cookies in general). Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture. Dump in sour cream and beat until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. (Maggie uses a bag of dark chocolate chunks. Put the bowl in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes or so. Place a tablespoon scoop or so, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. But don't overbake like I did...too brown and definitely more crunchy!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Perfect Banana Muffins

From a surprise source...the side of the Kroger bran flakes cereal box! A few weeks ago I had a bunch of bananas ready for use in bread. As usual, I wanted a different recipe and saw the one on the side of the cereal box. Well, I didn't have honey but we can change things, right? These were SO good! Not as soft as a sugary, mix-made muffin but not overly tough. They were the perfect I'm-not-hungry-because-I-didn't-sleep-any-on-call-but-need-something-to-eat post-call breakfast! I would definitely make them again. Thanks, Kroger! I'll put the original recipe with my changes to the side. Honey and Spice Banana Muffins
1 cup bran flakes cereal
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup honey (1/2 cup sugar)
1/4 cup melted margarine (1/4 cup oil)
2/3 cup mashed ripe banana (I used 2)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger (didn't ginger was GROSS)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg Heat oven to 375 F. Soak cereal in milk for 5 minutes (this is how I actually like to EAT my cereal...soggy!). In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients then add cereal mixture. Beat (or stir well) until will mixed. Spoon into greased muffin pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pan. Optional, top with a nut! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

If you Run Out of Time...

Last year, I got some really cute jimmies and sprinkles that are autumn themed from Williams Sonoma. So, after I got my new cupcake holder, I decided that I wanted to take cupcakes to my 1st grade church choir. My grand plans were to make cupcakes and homemade icing. Then, after seeing how my Q4 call schedule was, I decided that I would use a cake mix and throw in some sprinkles to make my own fall themed funfetti cupcakes but make homemade icing. WELL, instead of getting off at 4 I was back from work at 5pm 20 minutes away from church and choir starts at 6pm., if you run out of time...just go get ready made frosting from the grocery store...1st graders don't care! Cupcakes are cupcakes and they will ALWAYS ask for seconds!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'll be Back (More) soon!

Ha! I don't come back for long, do I?! Well, I am now finished with my wards/Q4 month and am on to a clinic month. So, hopefully I will be posting more often. I even had to miss my Daring Bakers challenge which I REALLY wanted to do, as it was pizza! However, I already have plans for some new recipes, so be on the lookout. If you want to see great pizzas check out the blogs here.