Friday, August 28, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

This is the best Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe ever. The streusel recipe makes a lot, but I loved and ate every last crumb- it reminded me of the streusel topping for Entenmann's baked goods. The recipe calls for 1/2 tsp lemon zest, but next time, I will increase it to 1 tsp to truly impart the lemon flavor. The crumbs were moist, delicate, yet had a density of cake. The recipe calls for a 9" round baking pan... I used my 9"x1.5" cake pan, and the crumb cake overflowed! Next time, I will use a springform pan (or any pan with a higher height). Bring this to your next potluck or brunch, and you will be a hit!

For the streusel
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (Will use 1 tsp next time)
2/3 cup sour cream
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan. (Next time, I will use a 9" springform pan or a rectangular 2-qt baking pan.)

For the streusel
1. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake
1. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light.
2. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
5. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife.
7. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter.
8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
9. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.

Source: Ina Garten

"How do you like them apples?"... "Busty" Beer-Can Chicken with a Spicy soy marinade & Orange-honey marmalade glaze

I was casually going through my DB’s Men’s Fitness magazine one day, and coincidentally came across an incredibly scrumptious picture of beer can chicken… but what continued my interest was the marinade and glaze that was placed on the chicken. I’ve always done dry rubs in the past, and this was different… hmmm….

The beer (or any liquid) steams and moistens the chicken to impart a delicious flavor as the heat from the grill roasts the exterior to a perfect golden brown.
Admittedly, I was very skeptical of the recipe. A good recipe from a Men’s Fitness magazine? Contrary to my initial belief, this chicken was AWESOME. I loved the spicy soy marinade, and ended up marinating overnight and cooked it the following evening. The meat was flavorful, moist, and literally fell off the bone.

The ingredient list seems large, but most are pantry staples.
The marinade made a lot (enough for my 4.62 lb chicken vs. the 3.5 lb chicken the recipe recommended). Next time, I'll prick the bird so it can really marinate the meat. The glaze made a lot, and next time, I will halve the recipe.

3-3-1/2 lb chicken (We used a 4.62 lb chicken)
12-oz can of beer (We used a 24-fl oz can of Budweiser beer)
1 lime, cut in half (optional)

½ cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup water
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp coarsely ground fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 serrano chile pepper, sliced (We used a jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced)

½ cup orange marmalade (We used sugar-free marmalade)
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

2. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag.

3. Add marinade, squeeze excess air from bag, and close. Roll bag to evenly coat meat and place in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (about 300 degrees). (We cooked ours in our oven at 300 degrees.)
5. Place glaze ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine.

6. Remove chicken from bag and lightly pat dry.
7. Open beer can and pour out (or drink) about an inch from the can.
8. Place the chicken on the grill, sitting directly over the can. (You can also buy a ”chicken sitter” to support the chicken and beer can, and reduce the risk of your bird tipping over.) (We placed our bird/beer over a disposable pie plate to catch all the bird drippings.)

... Now, if your bird wants some additional "cleavage", take the 2 halves of the lime and place them under the skin, on top of the "breast".

9. Cook the meat for around 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees in the thigh and 155 degrees in the breast. (Since we had a larger chicken, we cooked ours for 1 hour & 30 minutes.)
10. Brush chicken with glaze.
11. Place chicken back on the grill and cook until internal temperature of the thigh is 175 degrees and the breast is 165 degrees, about 15-20 more minutes.
12. Remove chicken from grill and let rest upright in the stand for 30 minutes before cutting.

The finale result!

My DB getting a little frisky:

Source: Men’s Fitness, May 2009 (p.90)

"It's Skyyyyyy-line time".... Skyline Chili Dip

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Skyline chili, Skyline is a chain of chili restaurants based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and thus noted as serving “Cincinnati-style chili”. This chili isn’t what you’d normally think of chili- a stew of meats, beans and tomatoes- but has a unique and distinct taste due to its blend of spices. Cincinnati-style chili is usually served over a hot dog with a MOUND of shredded cheese (coneys) or over a plate of hot spaghetti with a MOUND of shredded cheddar cheese (3-ways).

While I never quite got into the Cincinnati-style chili, my DB loves it. I’ve tried so hard to enjoy this dish with him, but alas, it’s just not for me… but I am definitely an anomaly in Cincinnati! If you’re ever in the Cincinnati area, you’ve got to try it out yourself and see!

Here is a quick and easy dip dish that is a staple in many Cincinnati homes and parties... Skyline Chili Dip!

(2) 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
15-oz can Skyline Chili
¼ cup diced onions (optional)
12-oz mild shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips or Fritos Scoops, for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread softened cream cheese evenly over a 2-qt baking dish.
3. Pour Skyline Chili over the cream cheese layer.
4. Top with diced onions and shredded cheese.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
6. Serve with tortilla chips (or any chips you desire).

Product Review: Trader Joe's Simmer Sauce review

We love LOVE shopping at Trader Joe's. The variety and unique foods are fun to try- especially since we've had a lot of success with them. Although I love to cook, some days- I just want EASY, but many prepackaged meals tend to be high in fat, and just taste... FAKE. Since we usually try to pick up new items with every TJ's store outing, we picked up 2 of their Simmer Sauces- Masala Simmer Sauce and Curry Simmer Sauce. The instructions said to place it into a pot, add a cup of water, add cubed meat- and a complete meal will be ready in 10-15 minutes. We were sold.

Here are what the jars looked like:

Cost: $2.99 each

Very easy- Place the simmer sauce into a pot. Add 1 cup of water, diced meat of choice, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Masala Simmer Sauce- DB and I both love Chicken Tikka Masala at Indian restaurants, and were hoping it would taste near similar. The flavor was spicy yet slightly sweet. After adding 1 cup of water, we felt that the sauce was too runny and tasted too bland. While it was a good alternative, next time we will choose not to add any water to this sauce. Pair it with some basmati rice or Trader Joe's naan bread. All in all, I would make this again. It only took about 20 minutes all together to make the rice, chicken masala, and naan. This meal won’t replace my favorite Indian restaurant, but makes a great weeknight meal.

Curry Simmer Sauce- I was pretty disappointed with this curry sauce. With the addition of water, this sauce wasn't as "runny" as the Masala sauce, but IF we tried it again, we won't add any water. This simmer sauce is in desperate need of some flavor.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

One word. AMAZING. Soft, chocolate-y goodness that melts in your mouth upon every bite. (My stomach is rumbling, and I'm beginning to feel drool accumulating in my mouth.) A great base recipe to vary flavors- peanut butter chips? Toasted walnuts pieces? Peanut butter cookie dough? A wonderful alternative to plain brownies. Be forewarned- they are addicting! (So addicting, I didn't even get a picture of a slice.)

1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 pouch Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 egg

8-oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heaving whipping cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray, or grease with shortening.
2. Make brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water and 2 eggs. Spread in pan.
3. Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter; press down lightly.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean.

5. Cool on cooling rack for 30 minutes.
6. While it's cooling, make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. 7. Frost with ganache. Set aside to allow it to set up.

Source: Betty Crocker

Sunny Morning Muffins

With summer berries being on sale, I wanted to make a morning muffin that included more than 1 fruit. This recipe included strawberries, blueberries, and bananas with a fresh lemon undertone- who doesn't love the refreshing combination of berries and banana with a hint of lemon? This muffin recipe is a quick bread, and I was able to prepare it before leaving for work. It tasted wonderful- whether it was right from the oven or even a few days later. enjoy it for your next morning treat!

1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lemon, zested
1/2 pint (1 cup) blueberries (Use frozen; no need to thaw)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Let sit 15 minutes until strawberries give off juices.
3. In a small bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and walnuts.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, eggs, canola oil, 1 cup sugar, strawberries, and lemon zest.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not over mix.
6. Fold in blueberries.
7. Scoop batter evenly into muffin cups.
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with a few crumbs but not wet, about 28 minutes.
9. Cool on a rack to room temperature.

Yield: 15 muffins
Source: Food Network

Pesto Laughing Cow Chicken

I can't believe it's been about a month since my last blog post. I've been busy vacationing and seeing friends, which has been great, but my blogging has taken taken a backseat. I am embarking to Chicago for the weekend, but wanted to blog about several (of many to come) recipes... this one is fast & easy- think weeknight meal!

There have been many recipes and adaptations of this recipe, and I indeed fell victim to this recipe as well! Talk about an easy yet tasty recipe- it took 10-15 minutes of prep time and we popped it into the oven- super easy. I prepped this dish in the morning, which allowed the pesto to "marinate" the chicken. I've never used (or even tried) Laughing Cow cheese wedges, but I loved the flavor and creaminess. The pesto added a great flavor dimension to this dish- without it, I think it would have tasted too bland (for our tastes). Make sure to pound those chicken breasts thin!
Enjoy this easy weeknight meal. We paired it with pasta topped with marinara sauce, but it would have tasted just as good with pasta topped with alfredo sauce.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4" thickness
Seasoning salt
8 wedges (full round) Laughing Cow cheese (We used LIGHT Garlic & Herb)
Pesto, 1 scoop per breast
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
2. Season the chicken breasts with seasoning salt.
3. Spread 2 cheese wedges per chicken breast, so that it evenly covers each breast.
4. Place 1 scoop of pesto and evenly spread over the breast.
5. Roll the breast jelly-roll style. Repeat with remaining 3 chicken breasts.
6. Combine the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a separate shallow dish.
7. Place each rolled-up chicken breast into the egg wash, and coat evenly with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture.
8. Place seam-side down in the baking pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Source: Simply Satisfying

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More to come... Stay tuned!

Hello, Piggly-Wiggly fans!

I've been getting emails from you, so I thought I'd share what's been going on lately.
August was my traveling month (Salt Lake City, Vegas, and Chicago this weekend), so my blogging days have been slow- very slow. I've been cooking and baking away, but haven't had the time to blog about the recipes in between traveling, but I have plans to catch up over the upcoming Labor Day weekend... so stay tuned! I have a solid handful of recipes that will be popping up, and they have been successes!

Also- to begin documenting my travels, I've created my BRAND SPANKIN' NEW Travel Blog- The Piggly-Wiggly Travels. There will be lots of pictures, suggestions, tips, costs, and advice there, which will include my most recent travels, and more traveling/vacationing to come. That will be up and moving shortly as well, and I'm very excited about it!

Thank you for all the well-wishes, and STAY TUNED!
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