January 31, 2009

Superbowl Chili

Well I told my husband the world must be ending when the Cards made the Superbowl. In all honesty, though, I'm pumped. For the first time in my life, when I go out I see Cardinals shirts every where! Someone in my neighborhood even made a Cards mailbox.

We're going to our favorite Superbowl party this year at an old family friends'. They've hosted one my whole life and it'll be the first time in five years we've made it, thanks to living out of state and last years flu! Between that length of anticipation and the local boys playing in it, I think this is the most excited I've ever been for a Superbowl. There's no point in pretending, I don't like football at all. I'm always up for a good party, though, and the Dolan's are amazing cooks. They even have two adorable dogs to keep my little guy entertained. So while I'm (happily) only bringing cookies tomorrow, I know this chili would totally hit the spot for girls and guys alike. I love that I have almost all of the ingredients in my pantry at any given time, which is especially important if your Costco looks anything like mine did this afternoon. I was there just to buy Turbo Tax for my smarty pants husband who can't wait to do our taxes and oh boy, I should have waited until Monday! Go Cards!

Smitten Chili

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (from Real Simple Magazine)
I've made this several times and I think I got the flavors down just right for my family this time. I used a little less chili powder and added a touch of brown sugar for the molasses flavor. It was a hit.

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (or turkey, if you don't have a husband like mine who would never forgive you)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 can green chilies
2 15 1/2-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

To taste:
Sriracha chili sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle en adobo puree

Toppings and sides:
Sharp Cheddar
Sour cream
Minced jalapeno
Corn bread

Place a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 or 10 minutes. Add the onion, stirring well, and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Gradually add the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, cocoa, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green chilies. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans, salt, and vinegar, stirring well. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes more. Adjust flavor with your spices of choice. Stir in the frozen corn and garnish with the cilantro, Cheddar, sour cream, and jalapeno, if desired. Serve hot in a bread bowl or with cornbread. ♦

January 27, 2009

TWD- White Chocolate Gingerbread

I'll admit that this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie choice, Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, found me less than excited. Naturally, the photo in the book is gorgeous and the ingredients sound delicious. However, I'm not too big of a ginger girl, and my husband can't have chocolate. So, I subbed in white chocolate chips in the cake and in the frosting and only used the fresh and powdered ginger. I loved how the flavors came together- like my favorite gingersnap recipe.

We're also, like everyone else, trying to eat healthier at the start of the year. So, I used white whole wheat flour I just got from King Arthur to make the cake "feel" a little healthier. You can't taste the difference and with the color of the spices, I think I'll just use regular whole wheat next time. I think my testers are being desensitized to that wheat-y flavor (mwa hahaha!)

Since my pan was smaller than Dorie specified, I also made six mini bundts in my cathedral pan I just reclaimed from storage (can you believe I've had it almost three years and never used it?) I drizzled a thinned white chocolate ganache on top for a quick finishing touch.

We loved this cake- I couldn't get enough of the texture, it was perfect (even though I accidentally added the dry ingredients all in before I realized I'd forgotten to put in the liquid in alternating batches! My mom said it was like a "good spice cake" (uh, thanks mom?) and my brother couldn't stop asking who that was going to and if he could have more. I think he's getting used to having the food photographed and doled out, poor guy. Thanks Heather for the fun choice- everyone loved it! (Don't forget to stop by for the recipe on her blog!)

January 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers- Puff Pastry Sticky Buns

One of the recipes I tried first out of the Barefoot Contessa book was these sticky buns. I did hear they were a little hard to remove from the muffin cups so I baked them on a sheet pan. Of course, I cut out most of the butter and just made these like a regular cinnamon roll. They had a different texture with the puff pastry and seemed a bit like an appetizer- crunchy, easy finger food. I know my husband loved them but I still prefer my cinnamon rolls gooey and creamy. Either way, these will satisfy for your sweet tooth in a hurry! Thanks Melissa for the great choice and make sure to see all the other Barefoot Blogger's takes on this fun recipe.

Puff Pastry Sticky Buns
adapted from Ina Garten
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush each sheet with two tablespoons softened butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the chopped nuts. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool a few minutes before glazing. To make glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and stir until smooth.

January 20, 2009

No cake- news instead

It's Tuesday, and I've been looking forward to this cake for a long time and even dreamed about it last night, but alas, I didn't make it(sorry Mary Ann!). I'm happy to report that my little one willingly ate all the blueberries I bought for it. I hope to make it soon. For excuses, well, let's just say my counters are coming next week (early I hope) and as soon as they appear everything else will slide into place- including that sink I've been missing like crazy- and I will have a kitchen again.

I do have a new gadget I'm excited about, though I haven't tried it yet. This baby was on clearance at Kohl's for $101.99 during the morning special. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, had them price match (did you know they did that?), used a 20 percent off coupon, and even got a $20 rebate, bringing this pretty down to less than $70 after tax. Now I'm itching to make some pastry, some pesto, or anything. I've been using a Cuisinart (my Mom's) and wanted to keep with that brand, but I figured with the price I couldn't resist. Plus, I love my KitchenAid stand mixer so much I thought I couldn't go wrong with the brand. Do you have a preference or experience with both? Let me know! Stop by Thursday for Ina's Easy Sticky Buns and next Tuesday for Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread (maybe from my own kitchen?)

January 13, 2009

TWD- Spicy Southwestern Cornbread

I love cornbread and was excited about this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection (although I have to admit it's one of the least photogenic so far!) My grandmother used to make hers out of yellow cake mix so I like it sweet or spicy. I have to say, a little pepper goes a long way in dressing it up. This recipe features freshly ground pepper, chopped bell pepper, and canned green chilies. Dorie suggests jalapenos but for the sensitive stomachs around I opted for the milder chilies. I think I kind of over did it by adding lots of pepper jack cheese, but it was gooey and delicious. I added the chili powder she recommended but didn't love it, so I'll leave it out next time. I think the color will be better and the flavor, too.

Being the new year and all, I subbed in some whole wheat flour. No one was the wiser. That's how I like it. Check out the fabulous Ezra Pound Cake for the original recipe or see my version below. Either way, there's plenty of options for substitutions and preferences- I love it!

Spicy Southwestern Cornbread
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon vinegar plus milk to fill one cup, allowed a few minutes to curdle)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can mild green chilies
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 slices pepper jack cheese, chopped into 1/2 inch squares

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper, and baking soda.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter and egg yolk together until well blended.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels, cilantro, bell pepper, chilies, and pepper jack cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

January 8, 2009

"Makin' Banana Pancakes"

When my husband I were getting married, we had awful school schedules (yes, we got married mid semester, and mid college for that matter, like crazy people). I had an early "weeding out" science class at 6:40 followed by statistics. I was done for the day by nine and my then-fiance didn't have any classes until noon! In an effort to find precious time together, I would stop by his house after my class, typically bang on his window to wake him up, and then make him waffles for breakfast. We would eat and enjoy some time together before he headed off to class and I went to work. We continued our "Waffle Thursday" (not Wednesday, haha) which meant waffles, pancakes, or French toast, until I started working full time. Now, whenever we have one of these foods we enjoy "Waffle Thursday", even on different days of the week. My ringtone for my tall man also happens to be "Making Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson which reminds me of our tradition. So when I heard Ina's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes were this week's Barefoot Bloggers' choice, I sang Jack Johnson's wonderful song in my head and busted out my favorite pancake pan.

Not only are these fast, they feature staple ingredients that don't necessitate a trip to the store (unlike many of Ina's other recipes that I adore). The sour cream provides a nice tang, the lemon zest gives freshness, and the flavor and texture of the bananas is wonderful. I slipped in a little whole wheat flour and no one was the wiser. Topped with a little butter and syrup, these are great any time of day. Try my Grandma's quick (and cheap) syrup if you still get yours out of a plastic container shaped like a Grandma.

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 large eggs (Ina, I love you, but I'm not going to buy extra large eggs just for you)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Maple syrup (recipe below)

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Irene's Maple Syrup
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Dark Karo Syrup
1 teaspoon Maple extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes and serve over pancakes. Store leftovers in a screw-top glass jar for a few weeks (reheat in the microwave or on the stove).

January 6, 2009

TWD- French Pear Tart

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie to start the year was chosen by Dorie Greenspan herself! The French Pear Tart features a delicious almond cream, soft, flavorful pears, and a crisp crust. It's easy to make, thanks to a food processor, and extra delicious. With almonds, canned pears, and a jam glaze- I already had everything in my cupboard. Now that's a great dessert.

Don't forget to stop by Dorie's site for the recipe and other beautiful photos and amazing recipes. While you're there, grab some hot chocolate, a slice of this beautiful tart, and imagine yourself in Paris. This tart is that good.

January 4, 2009

Pies With That- Caramel Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Happy new year everyone! I'm always shocked at how long it takes me to write the date properly after the year changes. I'm betting it will be at least March or April now, since I don't have to write the date on important documents all day long at home with my toddler. Besides, with a pie like this, there are more important things on my mind! This month's Pies with That theme, from Nic and Carrie, is "Resolution Breakers"- pies to make you forget about the scale (which too many of us did all December long!)

For my resolution breaking pie, I started with a no-fail pie crust, poured in a layer of caramel, added bananas, pastry cream, more bananas, more pastry cream, chopped milk chocolate, a drizzle of caramel, some whipped cream, and some more caramel and chocolate. Whew! With all those layers, I'm feeling guilty already. At least the bananas are healthy! And fortunately, this pie was shared with a crowd. It's all gone now and it's back to the treadmill. My husband and I have been talking about our goals for the year and I told him I was thinking about going vegetarian for a while. I think he'd die so we'll see. So speaking of your resolutions, what are yours? Less pie I'm guessing! Either way, I hope it's a safe and happy new year.

Banana Cream Pie
from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

Too turn this pie into a caramelly, decadent treat, make caramel using a can of sweetened consensed milk (I just opened mine and cooked it over a double boiler on low for a few hours, or try boiling the can at your own risk!), chop up a few ounces of chocolate, and top with sweetened whipped cream. Chocolate syrup would be the perfect addition, too!

For the Custard:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar, pressed through a sieve
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (a little more)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (a little less)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

3 ripe but firm bananas

1 9-inch single crust made with Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough, fully baked and cooled (or my no fail pie crust)

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. You can either press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes. (If it's more convenient, you can refrigerate the custard, tightly covered, for up to 3 days).

When you are ready to assemble the pie, peel the bananas and cut them on a shallow diagonal into 1/4 inch slices.

Whisk the cold custard vigorously to loosen it, and spread about one quarter of it over the bottom of the pie crust- it will be a thin layer. Top with half of the banana slices. Repeat, adding a thin layer of pastry cream and the remaining bananas, then smooth the rest of the pastry cream over the last layer of bananas.

To make the topping:
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sour cream.

To finish:
Spoon the whipped cream over the filling and spread it evenly to the edges of the custard. Serve, or refrigerate until needed.