Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

A day of girls having fun at a purse party needs just one thing... chocolate! I have been needing a reason to make this cake again and my Thirty One Gifts party was the perfect excuse! And altough I have never made ganache before, it was so easy it didn't require any experience. This cake is moist and dark and perfect! And I hope you make it and enjoy every lovely smile provoking bite...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Prepare the boiled cup of water

2 cups of sugar
1 3/4 cups of unbleached flour 
3/4 cups of cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of boiling water
1 10 oz jar of raspberry jam (I used Smuckers Simply Fruit)

Ingredients for Ganache:
1 bag of chocolate chips (I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate)
1 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream

Mix up the dry ingredients with a whisk until well combined. Make a small well in the center and whisk up the wet ingredients, then stir it all to combine. Stir in the boiled water and there you have it. The batter will be very watery, but it's okay. It bakes up beautifully! Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cool the cakes completely. Stir up the jam in the jar to loosen it. Transfer one cake to the serving plate, spread the whole jar of jam over the cake and top with the second cake. It may seem like a lot of jam, but it seems to need the whole jar.

To make the ganache simply simmer some water in a pot and place a bowl over the simmering water. Pour the chocolate chips into the bowl to melt. Once melty, stir in the heavy cream until combined. Let cool to room temperature. At this point I simply poured over my cake and let it drizzle down the sides. It could also be whipped up into a whipped ganache and I will be trying this sometime for sure!

YUM! This got lots of "Oh my goodness" reactions. My sister, who is pregnant, got us eating it with that fruit in the background. It is simply a fantastic cake! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Herbed Tomato Focaccia Bread

I had a request and needed to fulfill the need!
This was a wonderful addition to our Lemon Basil pasta and so so easy! You can, just as yummily, make this on a pizza stone or a cookie sheet. And yes, I did just make up the word yummily! This dough can also morph into a loaf of herbed bread or pizza dough. Get out your muscles and knead some stress away....
1 1/2 cups of very warm water
1 TBSP of yeast
1 TBSP of sweetener (I use honey)
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached white whole wheat)
2  1/2-3 cups of unbleached flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup of Olive Oil
1 tsp of dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
Garlic Salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of Mozzerella cheese

In a large (and wide) mixing bowl, pour in the water, yeast, and sweetener and mix until well combined. Add in the unbleached flour, salt, basil oregano and garlic powder. Stir until combined. Begin to sprinkle in bits of the whole wheat flour until the dough begins to come together. Knead the dough right inside the bowl. Sprinkle in more flour as needed until the dough is not sticky any longer. Continue to knead for up to 5 minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Heat oven to 450 degrees

Divide the dough in half. Press one half out into an oiled cast iron skillet or onto a pizza stone. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and partially bake for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven. Top it with  parmesan cheese, tomatoes then the mozzerella cheese. (Yes, in that order!) Bake again until the crust and cheeses are brown and lovely..... and enjoy!

~This only used half the dough. I allowed the other half to raise for a while, pressed it out onto a pizza stone and partially baked it for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Allow to cool and wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge for a quick homemade pizza in the future~

~ You can use 100% whole wheat or 100% unbleached flour. Whichever your family prefers. We enjoy the mix. As long as you have 3 1/2 -4 cups of flour. ~

~ You can also use a stand mixer for this dough. Since I was stretched for time and not even letting the dough raise for a long amount of time, I just didn't bother with getting my mixer dirty.~

~ For a loaf of bread, form dough into a greased loaf pan or just in the shape of a loaf on a stone or cookie sheet. Let raise for an hour or so. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Top will be browned and it will sound hollow when you tap on it~

Simple Lemon Basil Pasta

What's better than basil? Basil and lemon warmed in olive oil oozing over delicious multigrain pasta! Here's how I did it.... oh and my family actually applauded after the meal so I think it's a good one!

1 Lemon
1 bunch or tube of Basil (both can be found in the produce section)
3/4 cup of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Clove of garlic or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1 box of Multigrain Bow Tie Pasta

Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and set aside. Add the olive oil into the same pasta pot. Zest and juice the lemon into the oil (juice over your hand so the seeds don't go in) Add half a tube of the pesto paste or half of the basil bunch finely chopped. Sprinkle liberally with sald and pepper and add the garlic. Heat oil and add in the pasta. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Top with cheese and serve.

The proof is on her face! Your family will love this!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sort of Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie

Good old Pennsylvania winter...
This meal was planned to be a crock pot meal. To bubble into perfect yumminess while we were away at church but, as is becoming too common, it snowed and we were home from church. We braved it out to my parent's home to still eat as a family, but this ended up going into the oven for time and our belly's sake. SO I'm calling this a crock pot meal because it is in it's destiny to be one! It does require a few minutes in the oven before serving to spare your family from a soggy topping of stuffing. But it's totally worth the wait! The epitome of comfort food topped with a crunchy yet moist topping of stuffing. A comforting meal in one helpful and trusty crock pot!

1 small onion
4 stalks of celery
1/2 package of baby carrots
2 chicken breasts
4 cups Chicken broth (this amount will be split 4 ways)
4 red potatoes
Olive Oil (your own desired amount for sauteing the onions)
1 package of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Seasoned Stuffing
6 TBSP butter
1 box of Campbells V8 Garden Vegetable Soup

Boil chicken in the chicken broth for 10-12 minutes. While that's boiling, dice up vegies and sautee onions in olive oil on medium low. When they begin to soften add in the celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sautee for 10 minutes. Dice up potatoes and place in crock pot. Remove chicken onto cutting board saving the broth. Shred the chicken and add into your crock pot with the potatoes. Once the vegies have sauteed stir them into the chicken and potatoes to combine.

Add in the box of vegetable soup

This is the stuffing I used because of it's lack of unwanted ingredients

Remove 2 cups of broth from the pot and set aside. With the remaining 2 cups of broth still in the pot, melt in the butter on medium heat. Stir in the stuffing package and the remaining sauteed vegetables. Place in a air tight container to store in refrigerator until use. (If you're making this in the oven right away, you can just set the bowl of stuffing aside)

Pour one cup of the reserved 2 cups of broth into chicken, vegetables and vegetable soup
At this point, you could store both of the components of the meal in the refrigerator until the next morning. You would hold off on putting the stuffing on until you were home and preparing to eat.

Once the stuffing is removed, using the same pot, we're going to make a rue for thickening the pot pie. Heat up a couple of TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle in 2 TBSP of flour. Cook out for a minute. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of broth. Whisk until it comes to a boil and thickens. Once thickened pour over crock pot mixture. Stir until well combined.

In the morning, simply prepare your crock pot and cook on high while you're gone. Before serving spread the stuffing on and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Until brown and beautiful.... just enough time to get the table set.  

If you wanted to skip the plug in crock pot, you could bake this in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Raise the heat to 450 degrees. Spread on the stuffing and bake for 10-15 minutes until stuffing was browned.

         This reads as a lot of steps but trust me it's simple and delicious!

*Ingredients can easily be traded to make this into a vegetarian meal. Simply use vegie broth and cut out the chicken part. A great substitute for the chicken could be gnocci or white beans. Just add them into the crock pot with the raw potatoes and continue with the rest of the recipe*

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Oh My Goodness" Brownies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cups of butter
6 TBSP cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2TBSP water
1 package chocolate chips (I prefer dark, but semi-sweet would work too)
2 tsp brewed coffee (or vanilla)
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients, including almost half of the chocolate chips, in a small bowl. Set aside. Melt butter with sugar, vanilla and water. Allow to heat until the boil just begins. Remove from heat. Melt in the remaining chocolate chips. After the chocolate chips are melted and well combined whisk in each egg seperately until well combined. Stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture. Pour into greased 9x9 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

*Sometimes I put these into muffin tins and make mini brownie cakes. They will only bake for about 15 minutes so make sure to keep an eye on them*

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Perfect for Sandwiches" Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/2 cups warm water- the temp. that you'd have a child wash their hands with
1 TBSP yeast
1 TBSP honey
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
Another 1 cup of flour on hand

I used my stand mixer with my bread hook attatchment but you can easily use a bowl with a wooden spoon. Mix together the first 3 ingredients and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of flour with a fork, scraping down the edges of the bowl, until well combined. Now using your mixer stir in remaining flour, salt, olive oil and egg. Mix for one minute to incorporate. Test the dough to see if it's still sticky. From the extra cup add in until no longer sticky. You will have to scrape down the mixer once or twice to incorporate the flour on the bottom of the bowl. Once the dough is not sticky, knead with mixer for 2-3 minutes. If you're not using the mixer, just knead the dough for around 5 minutes. Cover with a clean hand towel and let this raise, in a warm place, for 30 minutes. I put mine in the oven during the colder months. Remove from bowl, separate into two parts and form it into two greased loaf pans. I grease my pans with butter. Let raise, covered in the oven for 1 another hour. Remove the towel but leave the loaves in and turn on oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.