Chocolate Pudding

March 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I am a creature of habit. If you know me, you know this. For example: everyday for most of my school years (think 6th-11th grades) my lunch consisted of exactly the same things. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich (creamy pb and strawberry jelly), a bag of chips (Cooler Ranch Doritos, preferably), strawberry-kiwi Capri Sun, granola bar, apple sauce and a chocolate pudding pack. If i was feeling nuts I added carrot sticks. It was all kept in a cabinet in the kitchen where I made it myself. This stemmed from me complaining about the lunches my mom made, because I was a rude and ungrateful (sorry, Mom).

I also went through a phase of only eating honey-nut cheerios for breakfast, a snack of tuna fish, saltines and orange soda after school, but I digress. Now that I have reached adulthood (I pay insurance, so I guess I’m an adult) my inner child gets WAY too excited about chocolate pudding despite having eaten it WAY too much going through school. When I found a recipe from The Kitchn for homemade chocolate pudding it went to the top of my list (or Pinterest board).

The recipe looks overwhelming because it’s a lot of steps, but it comes together pretty quickly (30-45 minutes) plus time to chill. You can be a totally happy camper in no time at all. I made mine mocha by adding espresso powder and love the addition. I didn’t add too much for the sake of my coffee-hating husband but think it added some depth. I also can’t wait to customize it more or take it to the next level (I’m thinking whiskey caramelized bananas and homemade whipped cream). Enjoy, y’all.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To Make

1) Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Then, adding in heavy cream a little at a time, whisk until smooth. It’s a little challenging but comes together when all the cream is added. Finally, stir in the egg yolks. Set this aside.
3) Pour milk, sugar and espresso powder into a saucepan (I used 4 qt). Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a light simmer (bubbles around the edge) and remove from heat.
4) Add warm milk mixture one cup at a time to cream and egg yolk mixture. This is to temper the eggs so they don’t cook when boiled. Once all the milk mixture is stirred in, pour pack into the saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk constantly, while boiling, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5) Add in vanilla in and chocolate. Let sit for several minutes to allow chocolate to melt, then stir in until well combined.
6) Finally, pour the mixture into storage container. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap (directly in contact with surface of pudding). Chill in the fridge for several hours and then serve and enjoy.

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Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m just going to start with some boring weather talk. Seattle has been teasing us with sun the last week. We had two gorgeous days that got to 60 last week and it was so glorious. Then it rained for 5 days and now it’s just overcast. Why is this happening? My emotions are so conflicted. The days I want to sit inside and bake are the days its glorious and when I’m ready to get some sun it’s pouring.

One day last week the stars (or sun and clouds rather) aligned and my oven and I got some quality time with this lovely zucchini bread. Feeling inspired by Smitten Kitchen and some almost-old zucchini I whipped up this whole wheat loaf filled with sunflower seeds, chocolate chips and cranberries. The combination is just perfect.

Best part about this? The recipe makes two loaves, one to hoard to yourself and one to share with friends. Feel free (as always) to customize to your hearts content with the fillings. I think next time I would use mini chocolate chips and more dried cranberries.

(makes two 9×5 loaves, based on This Smitten Kitchen Recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

To Make:

1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8×4 or 9×5 cake pans and set aside.
2) Beat eggs, then whisk in vegetable oil and sugar until well combined. Stir in zucchini and set aside. In separate bowl stir together flours, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Fold in extras.
3) Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans, then serve extra thick slices with some butter and enjoy!

Mimosa Floats!

March 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

This weekend my best gal pals and I are galavanting around St Louis eating donut holes and doing sake bombs (okay, just one) and having an awesome time. This is all in honor of a wedding coming up in a month! Part of this fun weekend is throwing the bride a brunch themed shower. (Of course I love to throw a party focused on one of my favorite meals). This recipe for a mimosa float was made just for this occasion.

I wanted to do more than your average mimosa. (Partially because I’m not a huge fan of orange juice.) So, this is made with sorbet and fresh strawberries. Since I’m throwing it in a town I’m not familiar with I went ahead and got all the ingredients at Trader Joes, since they’re everywhere and have the same food at most of their locations.

I went with their cheapest sparkling wine, the Blanc de Blancs Brut ($4.99 you can’t go wrong), a pint of their mango sorbet ($3.99) and some fresh strawberries ($3). For pretty cheap you can make a lovely, refreshing and sparkly drink. Feel free to customize with your favorite sparkling wine or different sorbet flavors. (Maybe a granita and grapes?)

Ingredients

  • Sparkling wine (Trader Joe’s Blanc de Blancs)
  • Mango sorbet
  • Strawberries, washed and sliced

To Make:

1) Put a few strawberry slices in the bottom of each glass. Pour in 3-4 oz of wine and then add a large scoop of mango sorbet. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Soup

February 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Recipes are not something I memorize. They’re typically used once or twice or just not often enough for my brain to make space for.  I simply have to look it up or thumb through my stack when I want to re-make something. This soup is an exception.

I found it one afternoon when I had an extra sweet potato on hand and wanted a smooth, flavorful soup. Since then I have made it multiple times; for company, to have leftovers for work or when I have a craving for a delicious soup. It’s committed to memory.

It’s also a pretty forgiving recipe. Don’t have vegetable broth? Use chicken. Don’t have chicken? Use turkey. Have some extra spices you’d like to add, sure. Want to mix it up and stir in some cream at the very end, by all means, that is delicious.

We start with the best of all, bacon. Fry up three or four pieces in a large soup pot. (I use my dutch over). Take out, let cool, then chop into little pieces (BACON BITS!). Leaving all that beautiful bacon grease in the bottom (or taking some out depending on how you feel about it). Put your chopped onions in the bottom, sautéing until soft, making sure to scrape up the brown bits. Finally, add in the sweet potatoes, spices and broth. Boil until soft, puree and you are in business.

This soup also begs for garnish. I often use bacon bits, chives, cheese. I think a little chopped thyme or freshly cracker pepper would be great too. Add a grilled cheese and salad and you have my favorite meal of ALL time.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large, yellow onion
  • 4 pieces of thick bacon
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper, seasoning (I like 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joes)
  • Garnish – chives, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs

To Make

1) Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Dice the onion. Set these aside.

2) In large soup pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon until medium-crispy. Set aside, when cool, cut into small pieces and save for garnish.

3) In the same pot, fry the onion until soft and translucent. Once ready, add in broth and sweet potato and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove bay leaf and puree using an immersion blender until soup is smooth.

4) Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls and garnish to your heart’s content. Enjoy!

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s cold season over here you guys. I’ve worked my way through a box of Kleenex and am drinking daily cocktails of honey and lemon in hot water. This calls for comfort in the form of warm breakfast.

I have made this steel-cut oat recipe consistently for the last two months. I take leftovers for breakfast at work. I made it for my family where even my nephew, who is three, ate it. And this calls for some awesome toppings. You can go simple with fruit like bananas or sautéed pears (which I feature here). Or go nuts and add peanut butter, chia seeds, dried apricots. Do what you want.

I get my oats from the bulk section, where they are way cheaper that the pre-packaged versions. **Side note, did you know you can bring a canister to Whole Foods, they’ll weigh it for you, then you can just fill it in the bulk section. Has made my guesswork of filling cheap plastic bags and ending up with too much or too little of something non-existent, so nice.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup milk option of your choice (I like almond milk)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 ripe pear, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • sweetener (agave or brown sugar)

1) In medium saucepan, toast steel-cut oats over medium heat until they smell slightly nutty. About 3 minutes. Pour in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let sit, covered, overnight.
2) In the morning add 1 cup of milk choice to pan, and reheat. Stirring occasionally.
3) In a small pan, melt butter. Add in pear and saute until golden brown and fragrant.
4) Spoon oatmeal into bowl, top with pears and add sweetener to taste. Enjoy!

Birthday Apple Crisp and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

January 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve got this great guy in my life. We like each other a lot. I mean, we’re married and all that too, but we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. He puts up with me opening car doors with my feet and I put up with his tendency to leave his shoes in the middle of the floor.

Today is his birthday. When I asked him what kind of dessert he wanted he responded with a shrug and “apple crisp?” Now, I know him, pie is his favorite and I reminded him of that. He responded by saying that since I don’t love pie he wanted crisp. That way everyone is happy. He’s awesome. Self-sacrificing even with dessert. He does most of the dishes, sweeps like a maniac and is generally awesome to have around.

So, in honor of my man, I made some apple crisp and vanilla bean ice cream. It’s a basic Philadelphia-style vanilla bean ice cream (no eggs/custard mix) from Davd Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and Joy the Baker’s Man-Bait Apple Crisp (if it’s for a married man, is it baited-man apple crisp?). Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup turbino sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a small sauce pan stir 1 cup cream, sugar and salt together. Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape out seeds, but seeds and pod in the saucepan. Over low-medium heat stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat.

2) Pour this mixture into medium bowl. Stir in milk, additional cup of cream and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator. Make ice cream according to mixer instructions, freeze until ready to serve.

Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 10 medium sized apples (mix of Fuji and Granny Smith)
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 & 2/3 cup AP flour
  • 2 & 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1) Grease a 9×13 pan. Preheat oven to 350.

2) Peel and chop all the apples into bite-sized pieces. A few peels left on, are a-okay. Put into greased pan. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon onto apples and mix.

3) In a large bowl stir to combine flour, brown sugar, oats, nuts and cinnamon. Using your hands, add the butter to the dry ingredients. Work in until coarse meal is formed (sort of like wet sand). Mix 1 cup of this into the apples and stir well. Pour rest of topping onto the apples.

4) Bake for 55-60 minutes until topping is golden brown and apples are slightly bubbly. Let cool slightly. Scoop mixture into bowls, top with ice cream and serve. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

For many, January is all about health food and vegetables and juicing. I bought a juice at my local Whole Foods and could not get over the fact that my juice tasted like BEETS. Beets are delicious but not when I’m drinking them. Maybe next time.

Lets be honest, its cold and rainy out and and we just want comfort food. We’re now going to combine vegetables and comfort. Introducing: pumpkin mac and cheese. (I’m aware I’m not really “introducing” this as it’s been around for awhile, but I just hopped on the train)

I’ve said, this year I’m only featuring really good recipes. This is one of those. I’ve made it twice now and really love it. It’s just the right combination of cheese, pumpkin, bread crumb topping and pasta. Best part about this is it’s adaptable. I’ve made it with different kinds of cheese, whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, canned and freshly pureed pumpkin and love it every time. And the leftovers taste delicious.

To start we make make our pasta. Or rather, make our pasta while we also make the cheese/pumpkin sauce. We melt butter, add flour, S&P, then add milk and cream until slightly thickened. Then we add pumpkin, cheese and herbs and it gets melty, creamy and is now SO GOOD. I may sneak some spoonfuls. Combine pasta, sauce pour in the pan; top with breadcrumbs and we are so close to being in business. Bake while you stare in the oven because you’re very hungry. Then enjoy.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaronia
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp S&P
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1, 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp fresh herbs like thyme or sage
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

To make

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2 qt casserole dish with non-stick spray.
2) In large pot, boil water for pasta. Cook according to package and drain. Set aside.
3) While pasta is being made, make the sauce. In medium saucepan, melt butter in a pan. Stir in flour and s&p. Add cream and milk. Heat over low until warm and slightly thickened. Next, add 1 cup of parmesan cheese, pumpkin and herbs. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy. Remove from heat.
4) Stir pasta into cheese. Pour into baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and 1/2 cup cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Enjoy!