Saturday, February 26, 2011

Double Decker Pumpkin Bread

I love all things pumpkin and I love to make it all year long, not only in the fall.  This bread is a great way to get my pumpkin fix!  The bread is filled with spicy pumpkin flavor and the cream cheese is a nice creamy filling that complements the pumpkin.   It fills the house with delicious pumpkin smells and making these in a mini loaf pan makes this easy to share!  Even if you don't have mini loaf pans you can make this in a regular sized pan - just increase the cook time.

Double Decker Pumpkin Bread
Recipe from How Sweet It Is

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Mix together pumpkin and sugars together until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, then mix in vanilla and oil.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Alternately add in dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients.  Pour into mini loaf pans halfway to the top.  Spread a third of the cream cheese mixture over the batter and cover with more pumpkin batter until it reaches about a 1/2 inch to the top.  

Bake 35 - 40 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes in pan before turning out onto rack.

Cream Cheese Mixture
8 ounces softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients until well combined.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pasta e Ceci Soup

We have finally got some cold weather here in Southern California and I have been loving it!  Granted my cold is 55 degrees with a slight drizzle but my thin blood is freezing!  It has been a perfect opportunity to whip up some hardy soups that warm you up.  

I found this recipe in a search to try and find more meatless dishes to incorporate at least once a week.  This is largely in part to Oprah and her recent show on the Vegan Challenge that she and her staff were a part of.  While I will never become a vegetarian or vegan - I love my yogurt and steaks too much - it made me think about my eating habits, and I am trying to incorporate meatless lunches into my work week and at least one meatless dinner into my week.  The hubby is trying to gain weight/bulk with this workouts (must be nice) and so I need to make sure that these meatless meals have a lot of protein.  Not only do the chickpeas in this soup have a lot of muscle building protein (one cup has 14.5 grams) but they are full of heart-healthy folate, fiber and iron which makes this a healthy addition to my meatless recipes. The best part is that I had all of these ingredients in my pantry already and so this made for a very inexpensive main course!

I pureed the soup with an immersion blender but left some chunks of chickpeas and carrots intact so that it wasn't like baby-food.  The pastas gave the soup wonderful texture and I sprinkled with a little bit of mozzarella cheese to add richness. 

I paired this with some cheesy crostini's and it was a hardy meal that we both enjoyed!

Pasta e Ceci Soup
Recipe from Family Bites 

2 tablespoons oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup ditalini

Over low heat, warm oil.  Add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic.  Saute until the become soft.  Deglaze with white wine, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add chickpeas, salt, sage, tomato paste and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or in batches in your blender.  If using your blender be careful as always with hot liquid. If you soup is too thick you can add some additional chicken stock.  Return to heat and add pasta.  Cook until pasta is al dente - 5 - 8 minutes.

Serve immediately with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia

This was another adventure in making my own bread, that turned out wonderfully!  You can see the wonderful air pockets that developed in the focaccia making this light and airy.  I added dried rosemary to the top of mine but this bread base lends itself to a great number of topping.  I think this would be great with some slow roasted tomatoes and maybe some feta cheese.    I strongly recommend making this to go with a bowl of tomato soup or along a steaming bowl of pasta!

Rosemary Focaccia
Recipe at Epicurious

1 package dry yeast
1 2/3 cups luke warm water
5 cups flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (recipe calls for fresh but I didn't have any)
1 tablespoon coarse salt

Sift together water and yeast in bowl of mixture and let stand about 5 minutes.  If yeast is not active and blooms, restart with new yeast.  Add flour, 1/4 cup olive oil and table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms.  Replace paddle with dough hook and knead at high speed until a soft and smooth, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl lightly oiled and let rise covered until doubled in bulk 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  

Press dough evenly into jelly roll pan, generously oiled.  Let dough rise, covered with kitchen towel until doubled in bulk about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir together rosemary and 3 tablespoons oil.  Set aside.  Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips then brush oil over top of dough.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake until golden brown, 20 - 25 minutes.

Immediately invert onto rack, turning right side up.  You can either serve warm or allow to come to room temperature.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soup-a-Palooza - Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

I don't want to make anyone angry but it has been really warm in Southern California the last couple of months, which has meant that I haven't really wanted to make soup.  So when I heard about Soup-a-Palooza hosted by Tidy Mom and Dine and Dish I decided to pull out an old favorite recipe that I have posted before. 
I love the lemony tang of this soup and with a crusty piece of bread this is a delicious and satisfying dinner.  

Come join Soup-a-Palooza with TidyMom and Dine and Dishsponsored by Bush’s BeansHip HostessPillsbury and Westminster Crackers!

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo
Adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food you Crave

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup white wine
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup orzo
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in large saucepan.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to saucepan.  Once cooked through remove to a plate.  Add onion, celery, carrot and dried parsley.  Cook about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Deglaze with the white wine, making sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Check seasoning and add salt or pepper if needed.  Add orzo and simmer about 8 minutes until orzo is tender.  Reduce heat - do not let soup boil from this point.

Warm remaining 1 cup of broth until hot but not boiling.  In separate bowl beat eggs.  Whisk lemon juice into eggs.  Slowly add warmed broth into eggs, whisking while incorporating.  Gradually add egg mixture into the soup stirring until thickened.  (You need to be careful at this point because the eggs can cook - trust me I had to skim out some cooked eggs this time!  Be careful not to let the soup boil) 

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Faux Hostess Cupcakes

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  I decided to make something special for my hubby and these fit the bill!  I had to work today and wanted to have something easy to pull together, and using my new favorite cake mix - Trader Joe's these came together really quickly.  

Once the cupcakes were cooled I used a melon baller to scoop out a section on the middle of the cupcake.  I used the marshmallow filling in a pastry bag to fill the middle of the cupcake and then replaced the cupcake top.  I topped with the chocolate ganache and then piped a design on the top.  While it was a little more involved then a simple cupcake but well worth the effort!  DELISH!

Marshmallow Filling
Recipe from Annie's Eats

6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat together until well combined.  I used this to fill the cupcakes as well as the classic hostess swirl on top.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat cream until warm but not boiling.  Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth and all chocolate is melted.


This was shared on Cupcake Tuesday and Sweets for a Saturday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pioneer Woman Cooks - Marinated Steak

I have been wanting to make a Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing for quite a while.  I finally stopped procrastinating when I saw this recipe for Marinated Flank Steak I know it would make a PERFECT salad!

I added the marinade to a Tri-tip instead of Flank Steak only because it was a sale at my grocery store and it was such a good deal that I could not pass it up!  I would love to make this again for some soft tacos I think it would be delish!  This salad was a home-run!  The combination of the spicy dressing with smokey tri-tip was wonderful.  I added some corn tortilla chips that I baked in the oven and Queso Fresco to make a delicious combination.  I got the smallest tri-tip at the store but still had enough left over for both of us to have salads for lunch the next day and I made some nachos for dinner.  Love it!

Steak Marinade Marinade
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Steak, of your choice
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice from 2 limes
1 can chipotle peppers
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 handful cilantro, chopped

Place all ingredients in food processor, blend until well incorporated.  Place steak of your choice in a ziploc bag, add marinade.  With bag closed massage marinade into steak.  Refrigerate overnight.  Take steak out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking to allow the steak to come to room temperature.  Cook steak, discard marinade.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

A very good friend of ours is from Salt Lake City, Utah so when a Cafe Rio opened about a mile from our office she almost exploded with excitement!  Cafe Rio is labeled as a Mexican food restaurant - although anyone from California would argue with this, the food is really tasty!  I personally love the Fire Grilled Steak Salad which is a gigantic flour tortilla filled with romaine lettuce, fire grilled steak, cheese, tortilla strips and your choice of dressing.  I always, always get the Creamy Tomatillo Dressing! The dressing has a wonderful spiciness that I love, which pairs wonderfully with the cool lettuce and marinaded steak.

I am obsessed with this dressing!!  I knew that I couldn't go to Cafe Rio every day just for the dressing so I started looking on the internet for a recipe.  I found a couple of copy cat recipes and merged them together with what I had one hand to create a dressing that is almost as good as the original!  It tasted better as it sits in the fridge so I suggest making it the night before you want to use it.   This will be a repeat recipe in our house - I paired it with a marinade trip tip to make my very own version of the salad!

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

2 tomatillos, peeled and quartered
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
1 small jalapeno, chopped and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast tomatillos for 10 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Place all items into blender and process until smooth.  Refrigerate until use.  The flavor gets better over time.  Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Roll out Cookies

As I mentioned before one of my new years goals is to practice my royal icing skills and decorating cookies.  I am constantly inspired by a couple of blogs that I follow: Bake at 350; i am baker and The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle just to name a few!  Take a look at their blogs and tell me you are not inspired to pull out your piping tips and give it a try!   

The one problem I always have is with the sugar cookie dough - I find that it is hard to roll out even after refrigerating.  I am also a chocolate girl and while the hubby gobbles up the vanilla based sugar cookies I am always sneaking in the cupboard looking for the lonely piece of chocolate that I must have left back there!  When I saw these chocoalte chip roll out cookies on The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle I knew I had to try them out!!!  Once again Baking GALS gave me the perfect opportunity to try out this new recipe and not have dozen of cookies tempting me.

This dough was really easy to pull together and roll out really well.  No sticking!  I did put the dough back in the fridge when I wasn't using it to keep it cool.  I didn't have any problem with the cookies spreading out while they baked, I am not sure if this is because I kept the dough really cold.  The cookie wasn't too sweet which is good since royal icing is so incredibly sweet, so the combination was perfect.  

I can't recommend these cookies enough!!!  I can't wait to have an excuse to try these out again!

Chocolate Chip Roll out Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Cream together butter and sugars until light in color and fluffy.  Add in egg yolk and vanilla, beat well.  Slowly incorporate flour and salt mix until incorporated.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Place dough in medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.  

Roll dough out onto parchment paper covered with flour and cut out shapes.  Place cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes before baking.  Bake for 10 minutes.   Remove from oven and cool completely.  

Once completely cooled frost with your favorite icing!  


Monday, February 7, 2011

M&M Cookies

These cookies were another recipe that I decided to make for February's Baking GALS.  I thought that pairing these with Valentine's edition M&Ms would make a fun and festive cookie.  The cookie dough was a had a wonderful vanilla taste and with M&Ms both mixed into the batter and pressed on the top you get an M&M in every bite.  

M&M Cookies
Recipe from Beantown Baker

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups M&M's

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together sugars and shortening until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Add dry ingredients and blend well.  Mix in 3/4 cup M&M's.  Chill dough 10 minutes.

Scoop onto parchment sheet covered cookie sheet.  Pat down and embellish with M&M's.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Chocolate Scotcheroos

I have had this recipe in a special folder on my computer brilliantly called "Recipes to Try", super creative. :)  It seems like this folder keeps growing and growing so when the Baking GALS teams opened up for February I knew where I needed to look for some recipe inspiration.  

I loved Rice Krispie treats as a kid but now when I have one I am always disappointed.  The flavors are just a little too sweet and surprisingly bland for my tastes.  So when I saw this recipe I knew that I had to try it out.  A mixture of peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch, what could go wrong!    The process was very easy and the resulting treats were delicious!  

I decided to make these in a jellyroll pan so that they were thinner than the normal Rice Krispie treats, I think it makes me feel better about eating them if they are this size!  Thankfully I mailed these over or I think I would have eaten them all!  These were a wonderful inspiration and I think a Nutella Rice Krispie treat is in my very near future!

Chocolate Scotcheroos
Recipe from Kellogg's

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Place corn syrup and sugar in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.  Mix well.  Add Rice Krispies and stir until well coated.  Press mixture into jelly roll pan, covered in foil and greased.

Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a double boiler.  Spread evenly over cereal mixture and let stand until firm.  Cut into small squares and ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

We had to buy a new TV last week - our TV of only four years died on us....

Both of us were really upset because we didn't want to spend money on a new TV, we would like to spend our money on a trip or maybe new boots.....  But since it would cost just as much to fix the TV with used parts as buy a new one, off to Costco we went.  We ended up with a wonderful new TV that makes me feel like I'm at the Laker's game and couldn't be happier with our purchase.

To celebrate we invited the in-laws over to watch the Laker's game and check out our newest addition to the family.  I made my delicious Middle Eastern chicken, hummus and yogurt sauce to snack on during the game and this unbelievable cake to help ease our pain over the loss.

I had to work during the day and needed something easy to pull together, so I finally tried out the Trader Joe's Chocolate Cake Mix that I had in my pantry.  I added a center of cream cheese mixture and topped with chocolate ganache.  This was an idea that I got from my Aunt in a cupcake form but I decided to make it in a no-fuss, bundt cake.  

The result was a wonderfully moist and rich cake that was impressive enough to serve when company comes over!  In total it took about 10 minutes of prep and 40 minutes of bake time.    This would be a wonderful Valentine's Day dessert - sure to make your love think you slaved away!  

Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

1 prepared recipe of chocolate cake, enough for a 10 cup bundt cake
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour prepared chocolate cake into greased bundt cake pan.  Set aside.

Mix together cream cheese, egg and sugar until creamy.  Mix in mini chocolate chips.  Drop evenly on the top of cake mix in bundt pan.  Bake 40 minutes or until cake is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then turn out of pan.  Cool completely.

Heat cream in small saucepan, add in chocolate chips and stir until smooth.  Pour evenly over cake.


I shared this post on Sweets for a Saturday.