Thursday, January 29, 2009

My new favorite thing

I have been cooking in dutch ovens non-stop. I need to pick up a few that aren't coated w/ enamel, though, because we've been lighting a fire almost every night and I want to try baking bread in the fireplace.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chocolate cupcakes: you know you want one

Admit it, you know you do.

To make these cupcakes special, I used hazelnut coffee to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and add a little nuttiness (since we all know I'm a little bit nutty). The frosting is adapted from Ina Garten's peanut butter frosting recipe, using Nutella!

Chocolate cupcakes:

-12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2/3 c white sugar
-2/3 c brown sugar, packed
-2 eggs, at room temperature
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 c buttermilk, or 3/4 c milk mixed with 1/4 c plain yogurt
-1/2 c sour cream, low-fat or fat-free is fine
-2 tbsp brewed coffee (try different flavors!)
-1 3/4 c flour
-1 c cocoa powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the cupcake pans with paper (skip if you have silicone)

Using your stand mixer, mix the butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and then the flour mixture. Mix only until blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Nutella Frosting:

1 to 2 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 c Nutella
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Microwave the Nutella for about 30 seconds so it is soft and managable.

Add 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, Nutella, butter, vanilla, and salt to your stand mixer. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. If your frosting is too thin, add the last cup of powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it is the texture you desire. Let it sit out for several minutes to finish setting before you frost your cupcakes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday is make your own applesauce day!

Trust me, you will never buy applesauce from a jar again! I made this for our Christmas dinner and my husband was shocked to learn that you don't need to run it through a food processor, the apples naturally crumble into a sauce as you boil them. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it's older than time, it originally came from my grandmother's Betty Crocker cookbook that was given to me after she died. I have modified it some, reducing the sugar and turning up the dial on the spice.

Please, I encourage you to experiment with the amount of sugar and spices that work best for you - as long as the apple-to-water ratio remains the same, you will end up with an applesauce that has a delightful texture and thickness.

-4 or 5 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
-1/2 c water
-1/3 c brown sugar (you can add more if you want it sweet)
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp ground clove
-1 tsp ground nutmeg
-1 whole cinnamon stick

Bring the water and apples to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Bring the heat down to low and let the apples simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring often. The apples will begin to soften and become mushy. When the apples have completely disintegrated, stir in the sugar, spices and cinnamon stick. Bring the heat to it's lowest setting, cover the saucepan, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes, again stirring occasionally.

This applesauce is best when served warm, and you can keep it in the fridge for 7 to 10 days.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Leftover casserole: Part 2

Okay so it's really more of a pot pie...minus the pie crust part. None of these measurements are accurate - except the stock+soup combo because you don't want it to be too thin or you'll just end up with mush.

This comes from my mom, who used to make a similar dish with frozen peas and carrots (don't bother cooking, just dump frozen into the soup mixture and they'll cook in the oven). Also, I'm pretty sure she used cream of celery but I didn't have any.

-Cut up leftover roasted chicken into small pieces
-Peel and dice some carrots you find in the bottom of your fridge
-Ditto for a few potatoes in the pantry
-Throw in some celery for good measure, cutting off sketchy looking bits
-Toss the above with pepper and paprika

-Defrost a half-cup of chicken stock from the freezer and mix with a can of cream of mushroom soup that you find in the back of the pantry
-Stir in chicken and veggies
-Dump the whole thing into a casserole dish (I used a 9"x9")

-Mix a package of Jiffy corn bread according to the instructions on the box, only add two extra tablespoons of milk so it's slightly thin
-Slowly pour on top of chicken/veggie/soup mix

-Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes

The cornbread will "float" on top of the filling, which results in this great "crusty on the top, mushy on the bottom" texture that just can't be beat!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

This was the highlight of our Christmas dinner - I ordered enough lamb for 4 people and by the end of the meal we were all wishing I had purchased more.

Since I have no idea how to butterfly and tie a crown roast, I left it to an expert: a small, family-run butcher shop in Granbury.

MM: I used a probe themometor that you can pre-set to your desired internal temperature and just leave on while the roast bakes - it worked like a charm! No figuring out the mintues per pound, or pulling it out to test every few minutes. Just set the themometor and walk away!


-2 racks of lamb, butterflied and tied into a crown shape.
-6 cloves garlic, minced (or just run it through a garlic press)
-1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
-3 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
-3 tsp thyme, chopped (you can used dried but honestly it's just not as good as fresh)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Rub generously all over the lamb.

Put your roast into a bundt pan (if you have one), or some sort of round baking vessel so it will hold it's shape. I used an uncovered dutch oven. Bake at 375 until the internal temperature is 130 degrees (or 8-12 minutes per pound). Remove from the oven, put the roast into a separate pan, cover with foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.


-Pan drippings from lamb
-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp Dijon mustard

Spoon the drippings into a gravy separator to remove the fat. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard, then strain out any remaining solids. Serve warm with the crown roast.

If you don't have enough sauce, feel free to add more vinegar and mustard, and maybe even some olive oil to the mix.