Friday, March 29, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

In my past posts you will find Mad Hungry's "Busy Day Chocolate Cake." Today, I spruced it up using Giada De Laurentiis's recipe, a Chocolate-Raspberry layered cake. Giada suggests using a boxed cake mix--I thought, well, I don't like boxed cakes. So, I combined Mad Hungry’s Busy Day Chocolate Cake, and followed Giada’s recipe, and it turned out fantastic!

I garnished the cake with chocolate curls and raspberries! 
This is going to be the BEST Anniversary dessert ever! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tuna Avocado Salad

Tonight I made a Tuna Avocado salad, with fresh squeezed lemon, a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of cream cheese. This meal was so tasty. The lemon really enhanced the tuna fish, and the marriage between the mayonnaise and the cream cheese. It was quick to make, and very satisfying--and would be a great small hour meal.


1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 can of tuna
1 avocado
1 tbs mayonnaise
1tbs cream cheese
1 dash of cucumber seed
salt and pepper to taste.

First, cut your avocado in half, and remove the pit. Using a paring knife, remove the bottom half of the avocado's meat, and add to a bowl. Depending on your texture preference, slice or mash the meat in the small bowl. Add lemon juice, and mix.  Add the tuna, mayo, cream cheese and cucumber seed. For an optional bit of texture, add a tbs or so of sunflower seeds. Mix together, and put back into the avocado halves. Add some lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My First Recipe--Green Chili Chicken and Potato soup

As a kid, my mom and I would go to a restaurant in my home town called The Camp Robber. They serve the most amazing Green  Chili Chicken and Potato Soup. Even today, when visiting my mom, we make it a priority to stop at the Camp Robber for a bowl of their soup. 

Today I attempted my own rendition of the soup, using some help from my mom who did the leg work. On a closeness scale (to the original) of 1-10, I give it a 9. This is a great meal, and you can adjust the spices to your liking. 

On the note of spices, I learned a "what not to do." The spice mixture I used, which I picked up from Sprouts, contained red pepper flakes. So, I prepped my chicken just like I would any other day--lube it up with some EVOO, and then I added the spice. I washed my hands (any good cook knows you HAVE to wash after handling raw chicken), and put my chicken pieces on my grill plate. That was my mistake. The red pepper flakes emitted a very fragrant odor--which caused a lot of sneezing, coughing and general chaos. Thus a word of caution, when cooking with chilies, it is a good idea to cook on an outside grill, to avoid noxious gases which may result from the heat. 

So, now for my first ever recipe--copy righted to myself, and my mom. Please try and enjoy! Comment below if you have any questions. 
You should let it simmer after you've added the roux, probably about 20 minutes, but the longer the better. However, do not leave it unattended. You should stir it every now and then to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom. 

3 red potatoes 
Olive oil
4 small chicken breast 
Taco spices (for a kick, add about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes) 
1-2 cups flour 
1 stick butter
 32oz chicken stock
2 cups water
2 cans green Chilies 
1tsp white pepper
Salt to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on each potato, and wrap in foil.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or more. 
Serve in a bowl, add a dollop of sour cream, and a tortilla. You might also
serve with a few blue corn tortilla chips for some added texture. 

Prep chicken, by drizzling with olive oil and adding spices.  Grill chicken outside until done, about 5-10 mins per side. Set aside to cool. 

Meanwhile, bring 32 oz stock and 2 cups water to boil. In separate pan make a roux with flour and butter, the consistency should be thick, almost like oatmeal.  Add roux to stock and stir.  Dice up the chicken and chop up the potatoes.  Add to stock.  Add green Chillies from can, and simmer on a low heat. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, and a tortilla.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Easiest Bread Recipe

This no-knead bread is so simple. It takes quite a while to make (up to 24 hours), but you set it and forget it. You can find the recipe here

My first loaf, done in the dutch oven. 
When I work with a new recipe, I like to follow the directions (as mentioned in previous posts), this recipe was no different. I did my first loaf in a cast-iron dutch oven just like the recipe suggests. It produced a round loaf (obviously)--and truthfully was a little nerve wracking, just because of the extreme heat the cast-iron maintains. But, the result was amazing. The bread was extremely light. 

Last night, in the small hours of the night, I made two more loaves, with some changes. First, I added a cup of rye flour in substitution for a cup of flour (as suggested by Josh's mom). In the second loaf, I added some caraway seeds, and other spices. 

Caraway and various spices (left) and Rye Bread on right. 
This bread has unlimited possibilities, and is so inexpensive to make (after the initial purchase of various items.  I purchased Wheat Germ, Rye Flour, Wheat Bran and so forth as additives to the original recipe). But when you consider the original ingredients: 3 cups flour, a little salt, 1/4 tsp yeast, and water--you can't go wrong. Plus--bread freezes and defrosts really, really well. So, you can spend a little time mixing, go to bed, wake up and finish it off after work the next day. 

However, this is not a quick dinner fix. As mentioned, your bread will need at minimum 12 hours for the initial rising, plus an additional 2 hours and fifteen minutes for a second rising. The baking time will very. Upon suggestion from Josh's mom, I baked my loaves at 450 degrees for the first 30 minuts (with the lid, or foil covering it) and then turned it down to 425 degrees for the remaining time. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rabbit Loin Cigars with Demi-Glace, and Personal Potatoes Gratin

Tonight we take a trip to France, from our kitchen of course. The secret to French cooking as Julia Child will inform you, is butter. Yep, butter--oh and wine never hurts either. I started my cooking adventure at approximately 5:00 this evening. I knew the Potatoes would take the longest, so that is where I started.

The mandelin came through for me, making the potato slicing quick and simple. I layered the individual ramkins--which I picked up from Kohls earlier in the afternoon-- with potatoes and a few scallion slices. Next, the simple process of melting butter, making a roux (in this case, butter and flour) and adding the milk and cheese.

Into a hot oven, preheated at 400*, and that is done. Next I started my demi glace, which is essentially beef stock, some carrots and garlic simmered down to almost nothing. Then you add a half cup of wine, and let that simmer.

Finally, we came to the main course. It is now 6:50, and I have everything time just about right. Except, I made a simple mistake: I didn't check to see if my rabbit was deboned, which it wasn't.

This took some knife skills which I didn't know I had, but eventually I had several pieces of rabbit ready for my puff pastry. I added my mushroom mixture, as well as a few stalks of frozen asparagus which I had let defrost over the steam of my demie glace. I wrapped it all up, and put it into my now reduced heat oven of 350*. The cooking time, for me, was not at all what the recipe I was following suggested. It was in for over an hour, unlike the "10-15 minutes" suggested.

So, now for the taste review: The meal was good. Perhaps if I had paid attention and purchased a deboned rabbit, the meal would have been even better. The timing caused the potatoes to get a little darker around the edges than I had hoped. But the demi-glace was extremely nice, a subtle wine flavor with the beefy undertone. I have this meal a 4 1/2 stars. Not the best I've made, but definitely worth it.