Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Texas Sheet Cake

recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (12th ed.)

There are just some recipes that you have to enjoy just for the sheer pleasure of eating them.  Sometimes I try to tweak recipes to make them a little "healthier," but it is my opinion that there are some recipes that are just so classic that you can't mess with them.  This, my friends, is one of those.  I don't claim that it is healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but delicious... oh yes!  So... if you have no self control (like me), make it for a party and I promise it will be so popular, that you will only be able to get one piece to yourself. (Where's the harm in that, right?) So here goes... the classic Texas Sheet Cake.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 recipe Chocolate-Buttermilk Frosting

Grease a 15x10x1 inch or 13x9x2 inch baking pan; set aside.  In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water.  Bring mixture just to boiling, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add the cocoa mixture to flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until thoroughly combined.  Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes for the 15x10 inch pan or about 35 minutes for the 13x9 inch pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

**Make the Chocolate-Buttermilk frosting in enough time that you will be able to pour it warm over the warm cake.

Pour warm Chocolate-Buttermilk frosting over the warm cake, spreading evenly. (Use a very light touch when spreading the frosting, since the warm cake will easily stick to your utensil.)
Place cake in pan on wire rack; cool thoroughly.

Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting
1/4 cup butter
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar (I used 2 cups unsifted and it worked great!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring to boiling. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.  If desired, stir in 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans.

* If you don't have buttermilk on hand, substitute sour milk for the same amount of buttermilk called for in your recipe. For each cup of sour milk needed, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.

Chocolate-Cinnamon Sheet Cake
Prepare as above, except add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the flour mixture.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bean Curry with Naan (Indian Flatbread)

recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

We love curry at our house and I stumbled across this recipe one day and thought I would try it. It did not disappoint. Besides being delicious, it fills your house with wonderful aromas from the different spices used. It is a great ethnic dish and is a great vegetarian option.

Bean Curry
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch cayenne, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Garam Masala*
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup vegetable stock or chicken broth
1 can black-eyed peas, lightly drained (I used black beans because that is what I had on hand)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

*Garam Masala is an Indian spice mixture.  I found my bottle at Whole Foods market.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion; saute 5 minutes or until translucent and slightly browned. Stir in garlic and grated ginger root; stir constantly for 30 seconds.  Add tomato; cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in turmeric, cayenne, salt, paprika, and garam masala; stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add half and half, stock, and black-eyed peas. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro.  Serve immediately with rice, chapati, or naan. 

Naan (Indian Flatbread) 
recipe slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Makes about 12 pieces of naan

3-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon sugar
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted

Pour milk into a liquid measure and heat in microwave until warm to the touch. (about 110 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer).  Pour milk into a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Add the sugar, yeast, salt and 2 1/2 cups flour.  Mix well to combine.  Continue adding flour gradually in small amounts until a soft dough is formed the cleans the sides of the bowl.  Knead the dough by mixer or hand until it is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes in the mixer or 10 minutes by hand.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest at room temperature, covered lightly with greased plastic wrap, for about 2 hours.

After the dough has rested, turn it onto a lightly floured surface or roul'pat and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, rounding each into a ball shape. Cover the pieces with a towel and let them rest for 30 minutes.  While the dough rests, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.  (If you don't have a pizza stone, try grilling the dough on a lightly oiled outdoor grill or use a hot griddle to bake the naan - you'll have to experiment with cooking times but either of those methods would work as well.)

Once the dough has rested for 30 minutes, one by one, roll each piece into a circle about 6-8 inches wide, depending on how thick you want your naan.  Lay the circle of dough on the hot pizza stone and spritz lightly with water.  Close the oven and bake the naan for 2-4 minutes, until it is lightly puffed (some pieces will puff more than others) and brown spots begin to appear on the top. Remove the naan from the baking stone and place on a cooling rack. Brush lightly with melted butter. Stack the hot naan on top of each other as it comes out of the oven. Cover with towel and let the naan cool completely or serve warm.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

recipe from Our Best Bites

These taquitos are a frequent request at our house. They make a great appetizer, party food, or combine them with some spanish rice and a green salad and you've got a meal!  Dip them in this creamy lime cilantro dressing and you will have tasted a little mouthful of Mexican heaven! 

1/3 cup (3 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup green salsa (I like the La Costena brand ) 
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup grated pepperjack cheese

small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. 

Heat cream cheese in microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir.  Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and granulated garlic.  Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions.   Add chicken and cheese and combine well.
 (You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep mixture in the fridge)

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking.  It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it.  If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or come unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.

Place 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keep it about 1/2 inch from the edges.  Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place the seam side down on the baking sheet.  Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.  Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Dip in salsa, sour cream, guacamole or this creamy lime cilantro dressing.