Thursday, September 29, 2011

Honey Cake with Carmelized Pears

Happy New Year! No, I am not crazy, or 3 months early. It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. During Rosh Hashanah , people dip apples in honey to remind them of the sweetness of life, and desserts are often made with honey. This year I decided to make a honey cake, but punch it up a notch with some caramelized pears. True it's not apples, but it's another wonderful fruit of the season that adds a wonderful level of sophistication to the cake.

Honey Cake:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of light-brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of honey, plus 1/4 cup for glazing cake
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups of flour
3/4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix eggs and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add honey, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add 3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix until just combined. Add remaining cup of flour and mix until just combined. Grease or spray with non-stick a 10 inch spring-form pan. Bake until cake is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and release spring-form. Pour the 1/4 cup of honey on top of the cake slowly and rub in using a spatula or a brush. Top with caramelized pears (see below). The cake (without the topping) can be made 1 day in advance and left at room temperature covered in saran wrap. (adapted from Martha)

Caramelized Pears
1 tbsp of salted butter
1/4 cup of sugar
2 lbs of red anjou pears, cored and sliced
2 tbsp of honey

Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium-low, when melted stir in sugar until combined. Add the pears and stir. Cook until pears are soft and swimming in syrup, about 15 minutes. Add honey, and turn heat to high, cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top cake with pears. (adapted from Martha)

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Apple Cabbage Salad

Sometimes, I forget just how much wonderful produce grows in the fall. It may not be as glamorous as the abundant summer crops, but there are a world of new fruits and veggies to locally enjoy. Wonderful root vegetables, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, amazing sweet squash, pears, and of course apples. I love rediscovering all the delicious flavors. I love the first taste of mashed butternut squash, where you totally forget that you are eating a vegetable, and think" how is this good for me?" I love combining them in new ways as well, taking an old favorite, apples and pairing it with my vegetable obsession, cabbage, to make a truly delicious warm salad. I served this over a garden fresh baked potato.

Apple Cabbage Salad:
1 apple
1/2 head of green cabbage
2 tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of water
4 oz of ground beef
salt, pepper
olive oil for pan

Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large pan. Chop the apple into small pieces and add to the hot oil. Chop the cabbage and add to the pan. Add the vinegar and stir, reduce heat to medium-low, add water and cook until the liquid has evaporated and cabbage in tender, about 6-8 minutes. Return heat to medium-high and add beef, stir in and cook until beef browns, about 1-2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a baked potato or by itself.

Happy Eating.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Quinoa Salad

It's been awhile since I've shared a delicious side dish. To be honest, I have been making this for lunch, where half the recipe makes a perfectly sized, wonderfully healthy, and amazingly yummy lunch for me. But it also makes a great fall side or salad, filled with the best of the season apples and mushrooms. Plus, I don't know if it's the color, but something about red quinoa absolutely screams fall to me. This salad is good hot or cold, although I prefer it cold. If you are serving it cold, it can be made in advance, just leave the lettuce out until right before you serve it. If you are serving it hot, stir the apples and the lettuce in right at the end, so they don't go soggy. Enjoy a wonderful, healthy, seasonal meal or side!

Apple Quinoa Salad:
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of red quinoa (raw)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup of mushrooms, pieces
2 tablespoons of almonds, sliced
1/2 an apple
1 cup of lettuce
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of olive oil
salt, pepper

Bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa and the garlic. Cover and reduce to a simmer, cook until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove lid and add mushrooms and stir, cook until mushrooms are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Toast the almonds in the oven and stir into quinoa. Let the quinoa cool. Chop the half apple and add to the quinoa. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Chop the apple and the lettuce and stir into the cooled quinoa. Toss together, add dressing and toss again. Season with salt and pepper.

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Braised Pork Chops

Fall... My absolute favorite season. Chilly weather, jackets, vibrant colors, and warming meals make this season so wonderful. It sneaks up on you overnight, and all the sudden it's time to bust out all those old cooking techniques that haven't been used since last Winter, like braising. Braising, it even sounds warm! This was a new way to cook pork chops for me, and I really loved it, they were absolutely infused with the flavor from the cooking liquid. It's the perfect dish for serving with some rice and roasted veggies!

Braised Pork Chops:
3 boneless pork chops
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard
1/3 cup of sherry wine
2/3 cups of water
1/2 tsp of onion powder
salt, pepper

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and brown both sides. In the mean time stir together the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, and Dijon. Pour over the pork chops and add the sherry, water, and onion powder. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes. Remove pork from liquids and turn heat to high, and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 3 minutes. Serve pork topped with sauce. Enjoy!

Happy Eating.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Baked Brownie

I have wanted to try this recipe forever. It always looked like the ultimate celebration of chocolate, and I've heard it's the best brownie around. But, something more glamorous came across my computer screen to try, or someone really wanted cookies and it got pushed aside. Finally, enough was enough and I just had to bake it. Wow! These are the most insanely rich, intensely, deep chocolate brownies I have ever tasted. They are just beyond words amazing. Now that I have finally tried them, I'm not sure I'll be able to stop baking them.

The Baked Brownie:
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks of butter
1 tsp of instant coffee
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
11/4 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Stir in coffee and put in the freezer for a few minutes to cool. Stir in the sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Stir in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder, and mix until just combined. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non stick. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until set in the middle, and a for inserted has only a few crumbs. About 40-50 minutes, it is very difficult to tell if they are done or not, so make sure you check the middle of the brownies. Let cool before slicing. (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker).

Happy Eating.


Friday, September 16, 2011

My Favorite Roast Chicken

First, a little business. Congrats to Claire on winning the jar of Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter! Enjoy!

In my September DC post, I mentioned that I made a roast chicken, and used the leftovers from that to make my stock. Not only did I make a roast chicken, but I made my favorite roast chicken. I shared this once before, but it was so long ago, I wasn't even putting pictures on my blog then, so I decided I needed to re-post it. This chicken is absolutely magical, and very easy to make, it's been made so many times over the years, and tweaked slightly from time to time (usually depending on what herbs I have), but it's always delicious.

Roast Chicken:
1 whole chicken, giblits removed
3 cloves of garlic
2 large yellow onion
2 lemons
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Parsley
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper
1-2 cups Chicken Stock

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop the onions, reserving 1/4 of an onion, and put in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and inside the cavity. Put in the dish breast side up. Smash the garlic cloves and put inside the chicken, put the reserved onion in the chicken as well. Quater one of the lemons. Put one quarter inside the chicken, unsqueezed. Use another quarter to squeeze the juice all over the chicken. Chop the remaining 1 and 1/2 lemons and add to the dish with the onions. Stuff a handful thyme, rosemary, and parsley into the chicken. Rub olive oil over the exposed chicken skin, and drizzle a little into the onions as well. Tuck the wings in and tie the drumstick together with kitchen twine (truss). Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and add some stock to baste. Bake until the internal temperature is 165 in the thigh, or the little ready thermometer pops, about 20 minutes per pound, stirring the onions and basting with stock occasionally. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving. The lemons (rind and all) in the pan with the onions are completely edible, and taste really good. Enjoy!

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I'll admit it, when I first saw this challenge, I was not at all excited, but I missed last month and decided to just shut up and do it. I bought a beautiful and large (like 7 lbs) chicken, and then the thought of just boiling it to nothingness (well, stock) seemed like such a waste of such a nice chicken. So I thought maybe I'll do veggie stock and roast the chicken. But then I couldn't make chicken noodle soup (which my sick little self had been craving like crazy). So I did some research and discovered, you could make stock with cooked chicken bones. I can have my cake and eat it too! Well, have my delicious roast chicken, and still make chicken stock. It worked so well and both the chicken and soup were so amazing. I think I will do this with all leftover chicken bones from now on, so much more useful than just throwing them out. I am so glad I decided to participate this month, because I learned something new and ended up with about some really, really amazing soup!

1 leftover chicken carcass, bones, skin, whatever you have (not meat) plus the organs (except the liver, it't the dark one)
3 carrots, peeled
3 pieces of celery
1 white onion, quartered
A handful of Parsley
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp of pepper
1 tbsp of coarse sea salt

Put the chicken parts, carrots, celery, and onions in a 10 quart stock pot. Fill the the pot with water until it covers the chicken and the pot is almost full, but leave 3-4 inches of space at the top. Turn the heat to high and add the herbs, pepper, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 4-5 hours (or longer). Strain the soup into a large bowl or another pot and discard the solids.

As I briefly mentioned above, I have been a bit under the weather and so has the boyfriend, so this one was a no brainer, there is nothing quite as comforting as some delicious homemade chicken soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup:
Chicken stock (from above)
3 carrots
4 turnips
3 pieces of celery
3 yellow onions
1 bunch of bok choi
left over chicken meat (I had 1 breast and 1 thigh from the dinner left, and added 2 boneless skinless thighs that were in the fridge)
1 bag of egg noodles, cooked

Bring the stock to a boil. Chop the carrots turnips, celery, and onions into large bite size chunks and add to stock. Cut the bok choi, whites and greens and add as well. Add the chicken in bite size pieces, raw or cooked is fine. Cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour. Turn off heat, stir in the noodles and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy! This makes about 16-18 servings of soup, plus I had leftover broth/stock (about 8 cups).

For the accompaniment, I'm not a huge cracker person, so I thought I would make a sandwich, but I didn't have any bread so I made a quesadilla instead. It's delicious and very easy to make.

Turkey Mushroom Quesadilla:
1 whole wheat wrap
3 slices of deli turkey
1/4 cup mushrooms raw
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup of reduced fat shredded mozzarella

On one half of the wrap, put turkey and mushrooms, sprinkle with the Worcestershire sauce. Top with cheese and fold the wrap over in half. Heat a pan or griddle and spray with non-stick. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until the wrap is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Cut in half to serve.

Happy Eating.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Bison Flank Steak

It's almost the end of grilling season, and with all this rain, I don't feel like I have gotten everything out of it that I could. In July, I grilled nearly every dinner, but rainy August was definitely more of a mixed bag. I still had a few things left I needed to grill before it was too late, or too cold really. One of them was Bison. I am already a huge fan of the bison burger, but the past few times I have been at Whole Foods, I noticed they had other cuts, and that they looked tasty. My only other experience with bison, was brought back from a hunt, and it did not smell so great (it tasted fine though), so I was a little timid. One day, the boyfriend went to Whole Foods without me, and he came home with a beautiful bison flank steak. It was perfectly lean looking, and did not smell out all! Once it was grilled up, it tasted amazing, and I'm pretty sure you could serve it and no one would know they weren't eating beef. So, step outside your comfort zone, for a delicious and lean dinner!

Marinated Bison Flank Steak:
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of good balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp of Worcherstershire Sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper
1 bison flank steak, about 1 lb.
Olive oil

In a small bowl combine the vinegars, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and mustard. Season a bison flank steak (or a beef one) with salt and pepper. Put in a plastic bag and pour in the vinegar mixture, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Seal the bag and shake until the steak is coated. Refrigerate overnight. Pre-heat the grill. Remove the steak from the marinade and run with a little bit of oil. Cook for about 4 minutes on one side, and then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, for medium rare. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. To serve, slice against the grain.

Happy Eating.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

Usually, when it comes to cookies, I err on the side of mini. I love bite size cookies. Cookies where you can eat a few and not feel too guilty. These are not those cookies. These are mammoth sized cookies, but they are so amazing, you won't even care about the guilt. They are crispy around the edges, and chewy inside and absolutely enormous. The perfect cookie for dunking in some milk or hot cocoa during all this rain (you may not currently be experiencing this rain, but the cookies are still delicious in sunshine, don't worry). They also look impressive because of their mammoth size, so whip up a batch for your next party, or your Sunday football marathon (I am so excited). Enjoy!

PS: I apologize for the smudge on the picture, I thought that was on my display screen, not on the lens. And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a jar of Coconut Peanut Butter!

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 tsp of vanilla
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 cups of flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the sugars and butter, until smooth and well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add in 1 cup of flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined. Add remaining flour and mix until just combined, do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non stick. Scoop cookies by heaping tablespoon (like really heaping, almost 2 tablespoons), shape into a round as best you can (the dough is very sticky) and flatten slightly. Space cookies wide, 6 per cookie sheet. Bake for 20-24 minutes until golden. Makes about 20 cookies. (adapted from Cook's Illustrated).

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coconut Peanut Butter Giveaway + Coconut Granola

After such a wonderful giveaway last week, my friends at Tropical Traditions, decided to host another one! Today I have a 16 oz jar of delicious coconut peanut butter to giveaway to one lucky reader. Tropical Traditions was kind enough to send me a jar of their all natural Coconut Peanut Butter to try and it is delicious. It's only got two ingredients, coconut and peanuts! I love all nut butters, but I try to stick to the all natural varieties for my snacking, and the fewer ingredients the better, so I was delighted to see only two on their label. It's amazingly smooth and creamy for a natural peanut butter and unlike most natural nut butters, you don't have to keep it in the fridge. It's very temperature sensitive, in fact when drizzled on ice cream, it forms a shell coating, like magic shell (do you remember that stuff? Yum!), it also melts beautifully. It's delicious on a PB&J plus I used it to whip up a batch of delicious Coconut Granola (I also used Tropical Tradition's Coconut Oil in this recipe too). You can order your own jar here, if you don't win the giveaway. Good Luck!

This Giveaway will be open until Wednesday, September 14th. This giveaway is open to people in the US only.

First: Like me on Facebook, follow me on twitter, or subscribe to blog (if you already do so that counts too)

Second: Follow Tropical Traditions by one of the following 3 options
Subscribe to our email Sales Newsletter here:
follow us on Twitter @troptraditions
“Like” Tropical Traditions on Facebook (Please no, “I was sent by…” posts or posting a link to your blog, they will be removed)

Finally: Just post a comment here letting me know that you completed steps one and two and your entered.

Good Luck! My recipe for Coconut Granola is below, plus you can check out more great ways to use the peanut butter on Tropical Tradition's Recipe Page.

Coconut Granola:
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
1/4 cup of quinoa
1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup of almonds
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 tbsps of Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter
1 tbsp of Virgin Coconut OIl
1 tbsp of honey

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl, mix together the oats, quinoa, coconut, almonds, and cinnamon. In a small bowl put peanut butter, oil, and honey, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil, and spray with non stick. Spread the granola over the sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of granola.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product. I was under no obligation to review it, nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.

Happy Eating.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza

This has definitely been the summer of homemade pizza. Ever since I realized the grill gets infinitely hotter than the broiler (essential to pizza making) I can't get enough of the homemade stuff. I have done classic pizzas and healthy pizzas, fancy flatbreads, and now finally one with a delicious crust. My latest discovery, for making the pizza look pretty, is assembly on the grill. It's much easier to get an empty crust onto the grill and assemble the toppings quickly there, than it is to get a fully assembled and unstable pizza onto the grill without collapsing the toppings into the center. So while the last of grilling season is upon us, make sure you have grilled up at least one tasty pizza this summer!

1 cup of warm water
1 1/8 tsp of active dry yeast (1/2 a packet)
2 1/2-2 3/4 cups of flour
1/2 tsp of salt
Olive Oil for coating the bowl

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, dissolve the yeast into the water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Add in 2 1/2 cups of flour and salt. Process by pulsing until combined. Process until dough is soft and slightly tacky, adding additional flour (1 tablespoon at a time) as necessary. Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil. Turn dough out onto the counter and roll into a ball. Put it in the greased bowl, and cover, let stand until dough has doubled inside, about 3 hours (or a little longer is fine), or refrigerate overnight and then let stand on a counter all day and it will also be ready for dinner. When dough has risen, punch down and remove from the bowl. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a ball. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes before rolling out into pizza shape. Flatten dough into a disk, and then work your hands around the edges stretching the dough into a circle. Lay on a floured surface (preferably a movable one, like a large cutting board) and roll out to desired thickness. I rolled mine out as thin as I could without ripping the dough in the middle, but leaving it thicker around the edge for a delicious crust. Repeat with second dough ball. (adapted from Chris Bianco's Recipe)

1 1/2 cups of pizza sauce, bought or homemade
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more to taste)
1/8 lb of sandwich style pepperoni

Pre-heat the grill. Make yourself a plate that has all the toppings on it. Take the dough and the toppings out next to your grill. Carefully transfer the crusts to the grill. Working quickly, top each pizza crust with sauce, the pepperoni and then cheese. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Using a large grill spatula, check to make sure crusts are firm then rotate the pizzas. Lower heat or turn off grill and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until cheese is gooey and the crust is cooked through. Slice using a pizza roller and enjoy!

Happy Eating!