Saturday, March 23, 2013

Honey Bee Cake

Well, once again I am late.  Not as late as last month, but still late.  I don't know what it is with me and the Cake Slice Bakers, I just can't get those cakes done in time.

This month my excuse is that I wanted to make the cake for an Easter egg hunt/Spring Celebration that friends were having.  A honey cake and Spring fun sounded perfect together.   I just wish we had the Spring weather to go with such a sweet  cake.  A couple of days into Spring and the temperatures are in the 30's and the sky is filled with clouds.  It is weather that makes you want to go back to bed instead of heading outside for an Easter egg hunt.

I have loved most of the cakes that I have made from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes, and this one is no exception.  It is a light cake that isn't overly sweet despite the large amounts of honey used in the recipe - there is honey in the cake batter and then a drizzle of sugar, honey and almonds once it is baked.  It is a very moist cake, but it is still sturdy enough that you can easily cut a small sliver if you happen to crave a sweet snack before bed.  I poked holes in the cake before pouring the honey over the cake and it made for a wonderful burst of flavor.  

This is a great cake to experiment with as you can change the flavor slightly by varying the type of honey and nuts used.  I used a clover honey and almonds, but think it would be wonderful with a lavender honey and pine nuts.

As always before to visit the other Cake Slice bloggers.  While we all use the same recipe the cakes always look different as everyone puts their own twist and personal preference to the recipe.

Cookin' with Whiskey

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a special birthday.  All birthday's are special, but when you are turning 93 that is pretty awesome.  What is even better, is when you turn 93 you can pretty much do whatever you want for your birthday.  And if a big blow out party is what you want, a big blow out is what you get.

Our neighbor is a character in the neighborhood, everyone knows him and he knows everyone.  He often puts in requests for the "young guys" to have fire pits so he can join them and have an excuse for a shot or two of Crown Royal.  It is known throughout the neighborhood that he has a love for the Crown, so it wasn't a surprise when his daughter asked if I could make a Crown Royal cake for his birthday.

The cake was a chocolate and vanilla layer and  was super easy to do, although my icing marbled when I applied it, which was super annoying.  Since the cake wasn't very exciting I decided to do something that the birthday boy might appreciate a little bit more - Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.  Now I'm not a big fan of the name, but the drink is fun and the cupcake is fabulous.

 I have made Stout cupcakes in the past and they good.  The stout is a perfect pairing with the chocolate, but you add a little whiskey and Bailey's and these cupcakes become great.  They are a wonderful addition to a 93rd birthday celebration, a St. Patrick's day party or anytime some special adult only treats are needed.

Stout Cupcakes (Courtesy of Jami Schmidt)
3/4 cup of unsweetened coca plus more for dusting at the end
2 cups sugar
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
Pinch of fine salt
1 bottle of Guinness (room temperature)
1 stick melted butter (cooled slightly)
1 tbs Pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 24 cupcake tins with liners
Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl. In another mixing bowl combine stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream until combined and smooth. Gradually add in the dry.

 Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating half way through  

Whiskey Ganache

8 oz. dark chocolate (chips or finely chopped)
2/3 cup milk 
2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. Whiskey

Place chocolate in small bowl.  In small saucepan heat milk over medium high heat, bring to a simmer.  Pour milk over chocolate, let sit for 1-2 minutes then stir until smooth. Add butter and whiskey, stir until smooth and combined.  Let ganache cool and thicken. 

Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting (Courtesy Martha Stewart)
3 sticks unsalted, room temp butter
4 C. powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur

In mixing bowl cream butter until smooth.  Slowly add powder sugar, scraping down the sides as needed.  Beat for 3-4 until frosting is light and fluffy.  Add Bailey's, mix for another 3-4 minutes making a light and creamy frosting.  

Cupcake assembly:  Once cooled remove center of cupcake using the bottom of a large pastry tip.  Fill with ganache.  Once all cupcakes are filled top with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting.  

Shared at: Addicted to Recipes Button, Page button

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

I love my vegetable delivery service - Washington's Green Grocer.  I have written about them before and I know I will write about them again. They are not a CSA, they provide fresh, high quality produce year round.  During the growing season they provide local produce as much as possible, but by going outside the growing area we can also get bananas, oranges and other produce that you don't normally find in Northern VA, but are staples in my kids' diet.

When I get my weekly delivery I am always faced with the dilemma of using as many of the fruits and veggies as possible in one scrumptious dish or slowly rationing them out throughout the week.  We recently received a box that contained eggplant and tomatoes and I knew I had to combine ingredients.  It was as if they were reading my mind, I had been craving Eggplant Parmesan for a couple of weeks and then as if by magic the necessary ingredients appeared.  I was so happy, but then came the hard part.  I had to decide between traditional - layers with sauce- and a more simple version.

 I decided to go simple.  Thick slices of eggplant, breaded and baked

Topped with sauteed cherry tomatoes, spinach and garlic

Finished with a sprinkle of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Such yumminess!

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

2 eggplant, medium sized, cut into 1/2" slices
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning (see below)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 bunch fresh spinach (or 1 10 oz package frozen)
16 oz Mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven 375.

Prepare three breading pans.  In first pan combine flour and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning,  In the second pan add eggs and 2 tablespoons water, mix to combine.  In third breading pan combine Panko, regular breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons of seasoning mix.   Dip each slice of eggplant first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, finish with the breadcrumb mixture.  Place each coated slice on a platter.  Pour 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil a baking sheet with, place pan in oven 5 minutes to heat the oil.  Once all eggplant slices have been coated place on hot baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, flipping slices over half way through bake time.

While eggplant slices are baking.  Heat a saute pan, with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, over medium high heat.  Add chopped garlic and onion, cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions soften.  Add tomatoes cook for 10 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst.  Add wine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Stir in spinach and cook until soft.  Remove from heat.

Evenly divide mixture over baked eggplant slices top each slice with  mozzarella and Parmesan.  Place in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and lightly golden.


Italian Seasoning Mix

3 Tablespoons dried basil
3 Tablespoons dried marjoram
3 Tablespoons dried rosemary
3  Tablespoons dried thyme
3  Tablespoons dried oregano

I medium bowl mix all ingredients until combined.  Place in an air tight container for storage.

Shared at:
Jam Hands

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Red Velvet Cake

I missed a month and I am really late in getting  February's cake up, but here is the latest from the Cake Slice Bakers -  Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting, from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes.

The cake turned out to be my baby girl's birthday cake.  I would like to say that it was my plan all along to make the cake for her birthday, but really it was just procrastination.  First I put off making the cake for the cake slice group and then I put off planning a cake for Edy's birthday - it's tough when your the third child.  It was definitely worth the wait, though.  As this is a wonderfully moist cake with just a hint of chocolate and a slight tang from the buttermilk - a perfect combination.

Since this was a birthday cake I did do a little extra embellishment.  When I have made red velvet cakes in the past I like to just frost the top of  each layer, letting the sides show off their chocolaty red beauty.  Although it was fun to reveal the red surprise waiting inside the fully iced cake.

The only change I made to the recipe was the icing.  Julie Richardson's recipe calls for a Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting, but I opted for a regular cream cheese icing.  Not a big change, but using a Mascarpone cream cheese does provide a slightly sweeter finished product.

As with past recipes from Vintage Cakes, I was really happy with this one.  The recipe is easy to follow and the finished result was a tasty cake loved by the newly turned 4 year old, and everyone else who had a slice.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and butter.  Mix until fully incorporated and fluffy.  Slowly add confectioners sugar continue mixing until smooth and creamy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Veggie Crepes

Wow this month flew by!  I don't know how it happened, but it is already time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal.

Secret Recipe Club

This month I got to check out Kirsten's Kitchen.  Kirsten's blog is filled with a wonderful assortment of vegan recipes, you can find recipes for everything from breakfast to dinner!

I wanted to make the Vegan Sheefa she made for last month's SRC, they look absolutely delicious.  I don't know if I will make the vegan or meat version - either way I am guessing they are going to be delicious.  Since Kristen just made them for last month's reveal I decided to keep hunting around.  

After much hunting and pinning I finally settled on the veggie filled crepes.  It has been a long time since I made crepes and while we usually fill them with cheese or nutella I loved the idea of filling them with fresh crisp veggies.

Once I had decided on what to make I passed the actual work part on to Will and Mike.  The girls and I were out for the day, so the boys had dinner duty and they came up with a wonderfully tasty meal.

 They used regular milk instead of soy and added some leftover chicken to the filling selections.  Mike also made a wonderful Asian influenced dipping sauce, it was a wonderfully simple and tasty meal.

1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional oil for the pan

Combine all ingredients, whisk together until smooth.
Rub a small amount of oil on the bottom of  a crepe pan, or small saute pan.  Place over medium heat, let pan heat for about 3 minutes.  Add a small ladle of batter, rotate pan so entire bottom surface is covered with batter, should be almost see through.  Let cook for about 2-3 minutes then flip.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chicken and Polenta

I have a confession - I sometimes forget about Polenta. Then I make it and wonder why I haven't made it in such a long time.  I get so wrapped up in my rice and quinoa side dishes that I forget there is a whole other world of sides out there.

Polenta is super easy to make and can be used in so many ways - hot and creamy is my favorite, but if you let it cool and get nice and thick, then cut it in big chunks and throw it on the grill, oh so good I can feel the summer heat thinking about it.

I got back on a polenta kick earlier this week with a goat cheese polenta served with orange chicken.  The kids weren't fans of the goat cheese polenta - they like it when I keep it simple with just a little Parmesan - but the rest of the meal was a big hit.

Orange Chicken (Printer Ready)
4-5 boneless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. Poultry Seasoning (see below)
½ cup marmalade
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Cointreau (or orange juice)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar

Trim fat from chicken breasts and lightly pound.  Generously season both sides with seasoning mix.  Place large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle pan with olive oil to coat.  When pan is hot add chicken, reduce temperature to medium low.  Cook until brown, then flip.  While chicken is browning mix marmalade, vinegar, cointreau and brown sugar together in small bowl.  Once both sides of the chicken are brown pour sauce over chicken cover pan and let simmer at medium low heat until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.  Total cook time will be 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.  
Serve sauce and chicken with goat cheese polenta.  

Poultry Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp. dried sage
2 Tbsp.  dried thyme
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
1 Tbsp. celery salt
1 Tbsp. ground garlic
1 Tbsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Store in a small airtight container.  

Goat Cheese Polenta (printer ready)
1 quart chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large oven safe saucepan bring broth to a boil.  Whisking continuously gradually add the cornmeal.  Once all the cornmeal has be added cover and place in oven.  Cook for 40 minutes stirring every ten minutes, this will prevent lumps.  Once the mixture is creamy remove from oven, add the butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Slowly begin adding the goat cheese stirring continuously while adding.