Wednesday, November 16, 2011

slow cooker old fashioned chicken noodle soup

Sisters are funny.  They are your strongest relationship but, they are also the hardest on you.  They can poke fun to no end because they know you are not going anywhere.  As I have grown older my relationship with my sisters has evolved and grown and it is truly great.  We are all very different which makes it nice to settle into your spot in the family.  There are many things my sisters tease me about but, I am not here to talk about that.  I am here to talk about how one of my sisters is OBSESSED with her crock pot.  My other sister and I send text messages to each other joking about her latest crock pot creations.  She is doing everything from breakfast to dessert in the crock pot.  I like to make fun of her but, honestly I am kind of jealous.  Everything she makes in the crock pot tastes good.  She is always saying oh I just threw this and that in and voila dinner served.  I throw things in and it is disgusting I mean rubbery, watery meat with bland flavor.  Just plain gross.  I decided not to hide my jealousy anymore and I asked for The Slow Cooker Revolution for my birthday.  The family is starting to get the sniffles so, I decided to try the chicken noodle soup.  It does involve a bit more work than toss this in but, the end result truly taste like old fashion chicken noodle soup.  It has a deep flavor with soft pieces of juicy chicken and perfectly cooked vegetables.  I could not believe this came out of my slow cooker.  I kept patting myself on the back.  This recipe makes a ton so, I froze half the batch for next time the sniffles hit.  I also made a second foil pouch with an additional chicken breast which I kept for lunch.  If you like a lot of noodles in your soup you may want to up the amount because this is definitely more chicken heavy.  This time the slow cooker paid off.  I am not going to swear by the slow cooker like my sister until I pull off a few more slow cooker kitchen wins but, I am off to a good start with my new book in hand.

old fashioned chicken noodle soup
 source: slow cooker revolution

1 1/2 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 carrots, peeled and medium chop
3 celery ribs, medium chop
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups low sodium, chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 (12 ounce) bone in skin on, chicken breast
1 1/2 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup frozen peas

Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brown chicken thighs for ~4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate let cool and discard the skin.

Pour all but one tablespoon of the fat in the pan.  Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until vegetables are soft ~8-10 minutes.  Stir in garlic - red pepper flakes and cook ~30 seconds.  Stir in a cup of broth and loosen up browned bits and transfer all to the slow cooker.  

Stir in remaining 7 cups of broth and bay leaves to the slow cooker.  Nestle the cooked chicken into the slow cooker.  

Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and wrap in a foil pouch.  Lay the foil pouch on top of the soup.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

After 4-6 hours remove the foil packet and transfer to cutting board.  Transfer the thighs to the cutting board.  Let it cool to the touch and then shred into bite size pieces.  Discard the skin and bones.  Skim the fat off the surface of the soup and remove the bay leaves.  

Cook the egg noodles in boiling salt water until tender.  Stir in the noodles, chicken and peas.  Let them heat through for approximately 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve!

Monday, November 14, 2011

chocolate chip loaf

This month of the secret recipe club I was assigned the blog Lavender and Lime  Lavender and Lime is written by Tandy who is one cool, eco-conscience, fearless foodie in the kitchen.  She is super adventurous and if my family would join me in a more adventurous meal I would have tried to tackle one of her many incredibly delicious dishes she features.  Tandy tries to cook and buy local and organic which has been a goal for my family in 2011.  Tandy is also very involved and recognized in the food blog community.  I spent several hours reading through posts on her blog.  She really inspired me to push my boundaries in the kitchen.  I was planning on making her roasted vegetables but, then I saw she said her go to cake in one of her posts.  Go to cake?  I was intrigued and I needed to know about this go to cake.  I understand why this is a go to cake for Tandy.  Not only is it absolutely delicious but, it is versatile in term of add ins and how you bake/serve it.  I made mine as a loaf and served it as part of a brunch.  The next day I thought yum that cake would be awesome as a late afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  Tea pot on and I go to grab a slice of cake and it is poof gone!  My husband ate it for breakfast.  Tandy's go to cake did not last 24 hours in this house.  I know this will be requested and baked again in my kitchen. 

Happy Monday and thank you Lavender and Lime and Secret Recipe Club for another fun month.

chocolate chip loaf

125g butter (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon); room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
30g ground almond meal
35g self raising flour, sifted
100g cake flour, sifted
80g sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325.  Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with butter/flour baking spray. 

Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy ~5 minutes.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating until just combined between additions.  Stir in the almond meal and half of the sifted flour and half of the sour cream.  Mix until combined.  Stir in the balance of the flour and sour cream.  Stir in the chips.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.  Bake for ~60-75 minutes.  The loaf should be golden and split on top.  It took 75 minutes in my oven.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

dobos torte

The theme of supper club this month was your heritage.  How fun is that?  My dad's side of the family is Hungarian.  Many of the recipes my grandmother was known for were Hungarian.  My father recently passed along to me  a Hungarian cookbook my grandmother got from church. This little book is such  family treasure.  I sat down and read it cover to cover using my laptop to google ingredients and recipes along the way.  There were so many things I had never heard of so, I could not get a visual or flavor profile.  I attempted a coffee cake from it for Carter's birthday.  To say it was a lot of work is an understatement.  Dessert was my contribution for this round of supper club.  When googling Hungarian dessert the cake that most often comes back is the dobos torte.  There was a recipe for it in my grandmother's book but, there were many ingredients that I was not sure on and it had measurements like a block, a good amount and well when you are making and tasting something for the first time (at least in my kitchen) you need more guidance.  After making this cake I am questioning if any Hungarian cooking skills were passed down to me.  I really love Hungarian food but, it is not easy to make.

Here is what I learned ...

When making this cake make sure you have an extra dozen eggs on hand.  My first attempt at this cake was a flop.  I put all of the batter in an 12x17 sheet pan and it did not cook evenly.  

Soak your cake batter pan immediately.  The yolk mixture turns to a spackle that is very hard to get off.

The caramel layer in my opinion did not add anything.  I burnt the caramel which may have been the issue.  When you burn caramel in your pot add hot water and bring to a boil and the hardened mess will loosen up.

Use good chocolate for the frosting as it is the flavor you will taste. 

Google is rad.  If you ever try to make this google the dobos torte and read a few recipes as it was challenging

This cake is really very very good.  Not only is it beautiful looking but, it tastes really good.  The layers are light and spongy and have a custard flavor.  The frosting is not overly sweet there is a good cake to frosting ratio.

Loving supper club and all of my cool girlfriends who sit around the table with me on those nights.  Cheers to our Irish, German, Hungarian and Russian meal.

dobos torte

Cake layers:
7 large eggs, separated
3 large egg yolks
1 pound (3 1/2 cups or 455 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting racks
3/4 cup (94 grams or 3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 pound (8 ounces or 227 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Caramel layer (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water

Prepare two 13x9 cake rimmed sheets.  Please note you can use various cake pans depending on the shape and or amount of layers you want to achieve. Line the bottom of each with a sheet of fitted parchment paper, and coat with a butter-flour spray.  

Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in the center of your oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 10 egg yolks for a few minutes at high speed, until pale and lemon-colored. Reduce speed and gradually add sugar, then increase the speed and beat the yolks and sugar until thick and glossy. Scrape bowl occasionally with rubber spatula. Reduce speed again and gradually add flour; increase speed mix for 5 minutes more, then mix in lemon juice. Scrape bowl again with a rubber spatula. In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat the 7 egg whites with a whisk attachment until they hold stiff peaks. Stir a few heaping spoonfuls of the whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, before folding in the rest of the whites in three additions. The batter will transform from a dry paste to a spreadable, foamy batter.

Spread your batter in prepared pans. Use a cup or a scale to evenly measure the batter between the two pans.  Bake each pan for 5 minutes, or until golden with some dark brown spots. Thicker layers may take up to 2 additional minutes. When layer is baked, remove it from the oven and flip it out onto a cooling rack that has been dusted with a small amount of confectioners’ sugar. Carefully, gently remove parchment paper then flip cake back onto another lightly dusted cooling rack to finish cooling. It’s best to cool the layers right side up; the tops are the stickiest part.  Repeat with remaining layers. Layers will cool very quickly. Trim edges of cake, if needed, to make even shapes or divide larger rectangular pans accordingly.

Melt chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until soft and smooth, scraping frequently. Add vanilla and 3 egg yolks. Add sugar and cooled chocolate, beating until thoroughly mixed and scraping as needed.

Place four strips of parchment or waxed paper around the outer edges of your cake plate. Place first cake layer on plate and spread chocolate on top and to edges with an offset spatula. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop and used 2 scoops per layer.  Repeat with remaining layers (or all layers except one, if you’d like to do a decorative caramel layer), stacking cake as evenly as possible. Once fully stacked and filled, you can trim the edges so that they’re even.
Spread chocolate on outside of cake in a thin coat, just to cover and adhere the crumbs to the cake. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes (or freezer for 5 minutes) to set the chocolate. Spread chocolate more thickly and smoothly to make a final exterior coat of frosting. Remove paper strips.

Lightly grease a sheet of parchment paper. Place last cake layer on this sheet. Use a cookie cutter of your choice, cut desired decorative pieces and set aside. Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and swirl it until the sugar melts and begins to turn a pale amber color. Quickly and carefully, pour this (you’ll have a bit of extra) over the prepared cake layer and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Leave in place, then cool completely. Arrange caramel pieces over cake.  Chill cake until needed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

pumpkin granola

What is a girl do do when she receives the cutest little sugar pie pumpkin in her CSA box?  A pumpkin that was too small to roast for soup or pie?  Obviously a pumpkin obsessed person like myself can't let a pumpkin go to waste.  I roasted that little baby up and pulled up a recipe for granola that I pinned during the last secret recipe club.

I truly enjoy granola on my yogurt and sprinkled on my oats but, the calorie and fat content typically prevent me from buying it.  I really enjoyed making it and being able to control the ingredients especially the amount of sweetener.  The version I made is not overly sweet.  It is sweet, salty, crunchy and very addicting.  Not sure having a low calorie granola helps when you are putting a handful in your mouth every time you walk through the kitchen. 

Pumpkin Granola
adapted: fat girl trapped in a skinny body

1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup rice cereal
1/2 cup fiber one
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 1 hour.

Once pumpkin is cool then scoop out flesh and puree using a food mill or immersion blender.

** You could sub canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash ... 

Turn down the oven to 325 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with a silpat mat.

Mix the pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix the oats and cereals in another bowl. Dump the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until all of the dry ingredients are covered.

Dump and spread evenly onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and give the granola a good mix around. Sprinkle the granola with the dark brown sugar and the pepitas on top of the granola. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Check to confirm that the edges are dark and the granola is crispy.  I turned my oven off at this point and let the granola sit in the oven as it cools down.  This resulted in really crunchy granola which in my opinion rocks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

pumpkin cornbread

My pumpkin love fest week continues.  I saw an image of pumpkin cornbread on pinterest and it was love at first site.  Cornbread plus pumpkin are you kidding?  What could be better?  Why have I never had this before?  I could not stop thinking about the tall pieces of golden bread.   I knew what I was serving along side my pumpkin chili. The pumpkin flavor was not detectable in the chili but, the cornbread was a different story.  The pumpkin, spices and molasses flavor really shine in this bread.  I thought it was wonderful warm with butter and honey.  This is a great spin on your traditional cornbread for the fall.

pumpkin cornbread

1 cup flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 cup cornmeal 
2 eggs 
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1/4 cup canola oil 
1 tablespoon molasses


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs with whisk, and then mix in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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