Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baking Fun: Mississippi Mud Cake and Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

So my baking ventures for the week include and oldie, but goodie that I'm sure you all have made before and a twist on some classic baked goods. The Mississippi Mud Cake is always a crowd pleaser and is more like an incredibly gooey brownie than a cake. The second recipe is more of a combination of banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. Hope you enjoy!!!

Mississippi Mud Cake (From Southern Living)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter
1 (4 oz) semisweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 (10.5 oz) package miniature marshmallows
Chocolate frosting (recipe follows)

Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until toasted. Microwave 1 cup butter and semisweet chocolate in a large microwave-safe glass bowl on high 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Whisk sugar and next 5 ingredients into chocolate mixture. Pour batter into a greased 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle evenly with marshmallows, bake 8-10 minutes more or until golden brown. Drizzle warm cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkle evenly toasted pecans.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 (16-oz) package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until slightly thickend; remove from heat. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixture until smooth.

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies (From Martha Stewart's Cookies)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup mashed, ripe banana
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 oz semisweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together both flours, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Beat together butter and both sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts. Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop (I used a 1/2 tablespoon) drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating about halfway through, until golden-brown and just set, 12-13 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Easy Chicken Dishes: Chicken Piccata Pasta and Chicken Enchiladas

These recipes are easy enough to make any night of the week...even when you are moving into a new house and can't find half of your dishes ;)

Chicken Piccata Pasta (Taken from Pampered Chef Season's Best Cookbook)

1 1/4 lb boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper rub
3 cans reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 onion
12 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
1 lemon
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can quartered artichokes hearts in water, drained
1/2 cup capers, drained and rinsed
Chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil and rub in mixing bowl and then add chicken, toss to coat. Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until center is no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside. Heat broth in a separate pot until boiling. Finely chop onion and add to the skillet. Cook 10-20 seconds until onion is fragrant. Carefully add the broth and pasta to the skillet; cook uncovered 7-8 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Zest lemon to measure 1 tablespoon, juice lemon to measure 2 tablespoons. Add zest, juice, and cream cheese to skillet. Stir until fully incorporated. Add chicken and artichokes to skillet. Cook uncovered 1-2 minutes until heated through. Remove skillet from heat and stir in capers. Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese if desired and add salt/pepper to taste.

Chicken Enchiladas (From Rachael Ray)

1 (16 oz) jar tomatillo salsa, divided (used roasted winn-dixie salsa verde and it worked really well, not too hot)
1 package frozen corn, defrosted
2 cups shredded roasted chicken (used store bought rotisserie chicken)
8 flour tortillas
2 cups pepperjack cheese, divided
1 cup brown gravy (use prepared store bought brown gravy)
Chili powder (if desired)

Combine chicken, corn, half jar of salsa, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Combine gravy and remaining salsa. Spoon chicken mixture into the tortillas and roll up, then place them seam side down in a greased baking dish. Pour the gravy/salsa mixture over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. Can sprinkle with a little chili powder if desired. Bake a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until warmed through and cheese is browned.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Easy Chilled Desserts: Banana-Caramel Pie with Toasted Pecans and Fresh Strawberry Cake

This banana pie is fabulous, and you might as well make two at a time and share with someone else since it is just as easy to make two. Everyone at mine and Al's work loved it. The strawberry cake is really easy and reminds me of one my grandma used to make with coconut (pina coloda cake).

Banana-Caramel Pie with Toasted Pecans

2 pkg (8 oz)  cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tub (8 oz) cool whip, divided
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust (get the 2 extra servings crust if you can find it, there is plenty of filling for it)
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 bananas, sliced

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until blended. Stir in 2 cups cool whip with a whisk; set aside. Spread 1/4 cup caramel topping onto bottom of crust, then top with a layer of bananas, 1/4 cup of pecans, then the cream cheese mixture. Cover with remaining cool whip and pecans. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then drizzle with remaining caramel topping just before serving.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

1 box white cake mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 packages strawberries, finely diced (equals about 4 cups) and combined with 1/4 cup sugar
1 container of cool whip

Prepare cake according to package directions in a 9x13 inch dish. Poke holes in hot cake all over (can use the handle of a wooden spoon), then pour condensed milk evenly over the top of the cake. Allow to cool completely (milk will soak into the cake). Spread strawberry mixture evenly over the cake, then top with cool whip. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 3 hours before serving.

For Coconut Lovers!! Coco Loco Brownies and Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes

Sorry I have been a little negligent with my postings lately...I promise I have still been cooking!! Unfortunately, I have been a little negligent with my picture taking as well, but I hope to do better once we finally get moved into our house next week (Yay!!)

Here are some recipes for cocount lovers only. I get that it's a texture thing for most people, but I just don't see how you can't love it!! These cupcakes have a great moist texture and are not overly sweet. Ina uses extra large eggs in all of her baking recipes so I did for this one as well, but I think if you have large eggs you can add one additional egg with similar results. The brownies are very rich and dense with a macaroon-like topping and the flavors of an almond-joy. Enjoy!!

Coconut Cupcakes (From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)

3 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 oz sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With and electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of the coconut. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softenend
3 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted

With an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. (This makes a LOT, so using half of the recipe would probably be sufficient)

Coco Loco Brownies (From Every Day with Rachael Ray)

1 2/3 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups natural almonds, toasted and chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish; line crossewise with a 14-inch piece of parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the sides. In a large saucepan, cook the sugar and butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the flour, then stir in 1 cup almonds. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup almonds and the chocolate chips. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spoon the coconut mixture in dollops over the surface of the batter. Bake until the coconut is golden brown and the brownie layer is just set in the center (about 35 minutes). Let cool completely before cutting into bars.