Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sticky Carmel Spice Cake

I love Autumn time... and the treats you can make. Anything with spices and caramel is perfect especially with vanilla ice cream. I saw this recipe on the Pioneer woman (see recipe here ) and had to try it out. She put hers in individual cast iron skillets but I don't have those but I had individual ramekins. Worked great. Also she just poured her caramel sauce over the top of her cakes but mine came pretty much to the top of my ramekin so I poked my cakes with a tooth pick all over before pouring on the sauce. That way the caramel can soak down into the cake. I also would move the sides of my cake away from the ramekin with a wooden spoon while I poured so the sauce could leak down the edges. This is soooo good! Enjoy!

Sticky Caramel Spice Cake
Butter, for greasing the pots
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil 
1 cup sugar 
3 large eggs 
1 cup buttermilk 

1 cup sugar1/2 cup buttermilk 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter 1 tablespoon light corn syrup 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

Ice cream, for serving, optional (is ice cream ever optional with cake:)

Special equipment: four 15-ounce cast-iron melting pots, or 4 individual ramekins optional (you can also make 1 large cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan)
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and butter four 15-ounce cast-iron melting pots (or 4 ramekins or a 9-by-13-inch pan if using instead).
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and eggs. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl and splash in the buttermilk. Stir until just combined. The mixture will be slightly lumpy.
Pour into the prepared pots (or 9-by-13-inch pan if using) and put them on a baking sheet. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes; do not over bake. (If using a 9-by-13-inch pan, bake for 25 to 30 minutes.)
For the icing: While the cake is baking, make the icing. Combine the sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, baking soda, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat without stirring. Continue boiling until the icing turns a light caramel color, 5 to 7 minutes.(mine took 2 more minutes to be a good Caramel color) Important: The icing should be the color of caramel, but not yet firm and sticky. It needs to be pourable.
Remove the cakes from the oven. While they are very warm, poke all over the cakes with a toothpick and pour the icing evenly over the tops. Work fast, as it will quickly start to soak into the cakes. Serve with ice cream if desired.

Best Ever Roasted Chicken

  • I love roasted chicken... good right after you cook it or to save later for other recipes like soup, enchiladas, tacos... you name it. I did this in a preheated cast iron skillet, I did one whole, and then I butterflied one by taking the back bone out. Didn't save a picture of that one. But both turned out great. Just be warned that the spattering fat from the skin does create a lot of smoke while cooking.... so open a window when you open the oven door and stand back. Enjoy!
  • Best Ever Roasted Chicken
1 4-lb. roasting chicken, giblets removed
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ground poultry seasoning
garlic powder and onion powder can also be sprinkled over the chicken

Position a rack in the center of the oven: place a large cast iron skillet on the rack and heat the oven to 450°F.
While the oven and skillet heat, prep the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels then rub with the olive oil all over. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck and loosely tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Season the chicken all over with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper and a light sprinkle of Poultry seasoning.  Turn the chicken over. Season the back all over with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning. 
Once the skillet is hot carefully remove from the oven, and drizzle a little olive oil in the pan.
Place the chicken breast side down in the skillet then return the skillet to the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over by inserting sturdy tongs into the cavity and flipping it. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165° to 170°F, an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, loosely tent it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.. or let cool and store in the refrigerator for another meal. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Apple Pandowdy

 Say good bye to pie and howdy to Apple Pandowdy! this is so yummy and just what I was craving since the air started to turn chilly! I love this more than apple crisp too! It's not too sweet and the apples get a buttery taste that is divine. I have made this twice since I saw it on America's test kitchen. The second time I used 1 large apple a 2 large pears... yummy! I had it for breakfast today, it has fruit in it right?

Apple Pandowdy
for the Pie Dough:
3 Tablespoons Ice Water
1 Tablespoon Sour cream
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, chilled

2 to 3 large Golden delicious Apples or Ambrosia Apples (2 1/2 pounds) Peeled, cored halved and cut into 1/2 thick slices
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup apple cider
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Vanilla Ice cream for serving

FOR THE PIE DOUGH: Combine ice water and sour cream in bowl, set aside.  Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until size of large peas, 6 to 8 pulses. Add sour cream mixture and pulse until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 6 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 5 minutes, before rolling. Roll dough into 10-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Using pizza cutter, cut dough into four 2½-inch-wide strips, then make four 2½-inch-wide perpendicular cuts to form squares. (Pieces around edges of dough will be smaller and I wasn't too picky about getting them all even) Transfer dough pieces to parchment paper–lined baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
FOR THE FILLING: Toss apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add apple mixture, cover, and cook until apples become slightly pliable and release their juice, about 10 minutes, (if using pears too I started my apples cooking for about 5 minutes then added my pears and cooked another 5 minutes) stirring occasionally.
Whisk cider, cornstarch, and lemon juice in bowl until no lumps remain; add to skillet. Bring to simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, press lightly on apples to form even layer.
FOR THE TOPPING: Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Working quickly, shingle dough pieces over filling until mostly covered, overlapping as needed. Brush dough pieces with egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake until crust is slightly puffed and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove skillet from oven. Using back of large spoon, press down in center of crust until juices come up over top of crust. Repeat four more times around skillet. (this is called dowdying) Make sure all apples are submerged and return skillet to oven. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.
Transfer skillet to wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes (or you might burn your mouth). Serve with ice cream, and enjoy

Best Spaghetti Carbonara Ever!

I love a good spaghetti Carbonara.... anything with bacon in it is amazing if you ask me. This recipe was shown on America's Test kitchen and of coarse I had to try it out. It's important to prep everything before you start cooking so you can work fast when making the sauce... the hot water from the pasta helps cook the eggs. I added some thinly sliced grilled chicken to this to make it heartier but it isn't necessary. I also added some cherry tomatoes that I had sliced in half at the end. My garden was exploding with them. Nice addition if you have them. Enjoy!

Best Spaghetti Carbonara ever!

6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound Spaghetti
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 or 2 Tablespoons cream (optional)
Cherry tomatoes, sliced (if desired)

Bring bacon and water to simmer in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook until water evaporates and bacon begins to sizzle, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until fat renders and bacon browns, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Strain bacon mixture onto a paper towel lined plate or bowl and set aside. Measure out 1 tablespoon fat and place in medium bowl. Whisk Parmesan, eggs, and pepper into fat until combined. 
Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot. Set colander in large bowl. Add spaghetti and salt to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Drain spaghetti in colander set in bowl, reserving cooking water. Pour 1 cup cooking water into liquid measuring cup and discard remainder. Return spaghetti to now-empty bowl.
Drain the rest of the fat from your skillet. Add cherry tomatoes if using them. Cook for a minute. then add your spaghetti to the skillet and toss. Turn heat off.
Slowly whisk ½ cup reserved cooking water into Parmesan mixture. Gradually pour Parmesan mixture over spaghetti, tossing to coat. Add bacon mixture and toss to combine. Let spaghetti rest, tossing frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly and coats spaghetti, 2 to 4 minutes, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water if needed.  Garnish with more Parmesan Cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever!

I love spaghetti and meatballs..... I watched a food network show and the chef soaked their breadcrumbs in milk before adding to the meat mixture. I gave it a try and it makes a difference! The meatballs were so moist! I also finish cooking my pasta in the sauce.... I cook in boiling water till al dente then just a couple more minutes in the sauce. YUMMO! I also like cooking my sauce in the oven for a couple of hours in my big dutch oven pot, love the roasted flavor the sauce gets. Enjoy!

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever
Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup diced roasted red bell peppers and green peppers
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
One 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 to 2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or dried works
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the meatballs: Soak the panko in the milk for 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, Parmesan, parsley, minced onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper and the soaked panko. Mix well to combine; do not overwork. Form into 2 inch- balls. I dump the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Pat into a rectangle about an inch thick. Then cut into rows both lengthwise and width-wise (is that even a word?) Each square should be enough for about a golf-ball size meatball--Form meatballs and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook meatballs in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. 

While meatballs are cooking make the Sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large, dutch oven medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, roasted bell peppers and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, 1 cup water, and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer.
When Meatballs are mostly done, add to the sauce. Turn oven down to 250 to 275 degrees. Place the lid onto the dutch oven and put in the oven. let this cook for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. 
When sauce is almost ready, cook pasta according to the package directions just to al dente. Drain but save a cup of the water. 

Get your dutch oven out of the oven, and check , if sauce is too thick ad 1/2 to 1 cup of the pasta water and stir. Bring up to a simmer on the stove and add your pasta, let simmer for another minute or two. Garnish individual servings with some grated parmesan cheese. Serve along side a steamed veggie and crusty french bread. Enjoy!!

Yummo Brown Bread

If you have eaten at Cheesecake Factory, then you know the yumminess of their brown bread... Love it slathered in butter as you can see in my picture above. This recipe was a pretty close clone of it. LOVE it. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.


1½ cups warm water (105ºF)
1 tbsp sugar
2¼ tsp instant dry yeast (1 package)
2 cups bread flour
1¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder (or coffee)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp molasses
caramel colouring, or dark brown food colouring (optional)
¼ cup cornmeal, for dusting the bottom of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
Old fashioned oats, for dusting the top of the shaped (not baked) loafs (optional)
In a medium bowl, mix together the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof (it will be foamy on top at the end).
Using the paddle attachment in your stand mixer, whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, butter, honey, and molasses. Also, add your food coloring here if using. You can adjust the colour while it's kneading, so just add a little at a time. Mix on medium-low speed until combined. The dough will be fairly thick and a little tacky.
Swap out to the dough hook, and knead on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes. This dough is thicker than your standard white bread, so it will be a little tacky, but will not pull or stick to the bottom of the bowl while kneading (but will when the mixer is stopped).
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise is a warm spot for two hours, until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces, and shape into mini-baguette style logs, roughly 6" long and 2" wide. See below notes for directions on this.
Place the cornmeal on a plate (if using), and set the loafs in it to lightly coat the bottom. Place the loafs on a lined baking sheet, with lots of space between them. Lightly wet the top of the loafs with your hand and some water, then sprinkle on a light dusting of oats. Spray the tops of the loafs with Pam (to keep the wrap from sticking), then cover VERY loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for another 60 to 90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size again.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The crust will be soft and squishy to the tough. Bread is cooked when the internal temperature is 190ºF, so feel free to use an instant read thermometer to check.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. If baking ahead of time, store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap once completely cooled, for up to 2 days, though it's best eaten the day baked. Gently warm in the oven before serving.

With the flour - Some days I find that I need to use more flour (probably depending on the weather, or how packed my cups are). the key is to have the dough feel tacky, but NOT sticky - none of it should stick to your fingers when you give it a squeeze.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookies

OMG! these cookies are the bomb! to die for ... bet ya can't eat just one cookies! If you love chocolate and peanut butter you have got to give these a try. I only made half the recipe and I used my middle sized cookie scoop for the cookies. I placed the cookies in the refrigerator before baking like the recipe recommends, and baked for about 6 minutes. PERFECT cookies in my opinion. You can find the recipe here -- I love this blog. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, microwave for 10 seconds or set on counter for 30 minutes
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
2 eggs, cold
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2- 10 oz bags Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
Place rack in center of oven with no other rack on the shelf directly above the center rack. Preheat oven to 400 convection bake or 425 regular bake.
Cut the butter into tablespoons size pieces.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat butter, and sugar for about 1 minute until butter is broken up and starts to blend with the sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time until mixed well. Keep the mixer speed on medium. Turn mixer off and add cocoa, mix until cocoa is blended well.
Turn mixer off. Add all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to bowl all at once. Pulse the mixer until the wet and dry ingredients are combined using low speed.
Fold in the peanut butter chips.
Scoop the cookies with hands onto a kitchen scale, the cookies should weigh 6 oz each. There will be approximately 9-10 pieces of dough. If you are making minis, measure out to 3 - 3.5 oz size and refrigerate before baking.
The large 6 oz cookies do not require refrigeration before baking. Bake the cookie sheets one at a time, 4-5 cookies per sheet at least 3 inches apart.
Bake when oven is hot for 5-6 minutes on convection or regular bake. The cookies are done when a top crust is formed and the cookies no longer look wet. Do not over bake!

Let the cookies cool for 30 minutes before eating.