Cake, Food

Spice Cake with Vanilla Orange filling and Whipped Marscapone frosting

IMG_20190307_063528

My dear friend from grad school defended her PhD last week.  Such a landmark occasion requires cake, not that one needs an excuse for cake.  I took some shortcuts, and made some things from scratch.  I even spent some time thinking about the decoration; I found that if you have it drawn out it makes cake decorating easier.  I hope you put this cake together for the next special occasion in your life.

Ingredients:

Boxed Cake mix: prepare per direction on the box–I believe in high quality store bought short cuts, and boxed cake mix is a go to.

Filling: I used my Orange, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean pudding. I used the entire recipe, to fill the cake.  You can find the recipe here.

Frosting: I used my whipped marscapone frosting recipe.  The recipe will make a lot of frosting.  I only used a 1/3 of it to frost the cake.  I froze down the rest.  If you were to fill and frost the cake, you might use the whole batch.  Check out the recipe here.

Method:

Bake the cake according to package directions.  I baked it in two 9″inch cake pans that I oiled and floured.  Once baked, cool the cake completely and level off the domed top.  I use my handy Wilton Cake Leveler.

Now begins the decorating.  For this cake, I used cake rounds for the first time and it certainly made cleaning and frosting the cake easy.  Not to mention, moving the cake around (from the turntable to the fridge).  But before we frost, we must fill.  I used all of the pudding mixture to fill the cake.

Now, the hardest part-covering the cake with frosting.  This requires patience, a good turntable, an offset spatula and a steady hand.  I like clean neat edges, so I get very particular about this stage.  Of course, that is my preference.  Using a butter knife to spread the frosting is perfectly fine–it will taste the same.

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20190306194016330

I usually do a “crumb coat”.  This is a thin layer of frosting that covers all the bumps and glues together the crumbs.  I allow this chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and then I go in with the rest of the frosting and attempt to make smooth and as clean and neat as possible.

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20190306200920815

I drew out the design for the cake and you can check it out here.  I also used candied oranges for this cake and I have the recipe for those here.  I will have to say, laying out the design before hand made a world of difference.  It was faster, cleaner and the end product looked more deliberate.  Moving forward, this might become my way of decorating–I like to call it the “paper to plate” method.

So here it is !

IMG_20190307_063540

 

Advertisements
Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Poultry

Roasted Split Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

 

IMG_20181001_183729Roast chicken is a classic, but it takes time–more suited for a Sunday night.  It has its benefits too.  Plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and chicken noodle soup.  However, when it is fall and you want a hearty, comforting meal on a weeknight,  turn to this recipe.  The trick is to remember to marinade the night before and take the time to brown the chicken (preferably in a cast iron skillet).  Try it soon !

INGREDIENTS

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 large split chicken breasts

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together all ingredients except chicken.

Put split chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and add marinade.

Seal bags, removing as much air as possible and massage marinade around chicken to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. convectional or 425 degrees F. conventional.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Once heated, put chicken skin side down in the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer skillet into the oven.

Roast until chicken is browned, meat is cooked through and juices run clear (an instant reading thermometer when inserted in the meat should read 165 degrees F.) about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow sitting 15 minutes to “rest” (this allows the juices to settle in the meat so they don’t run out when chicken is cut).

IMG_20181001_182823

Classics, Dinner, Meat, Quick Dinner

Rosemary Pork Chops with Shallots and Mushrooms

IMG_2107

The inspiration for this dish comse from the classic Yeager Schnitzel.  Our favorite German Restaurant servers it with a rich mushroom sauce.  This is my light version which can be easily whipped up for weeknight dinner.

Ingredients:

Boneless Pork chops

1 Tbsp of dry rosemary

1 shallots, slices

8 oz baby bella mushrooms, slices

2 tsp of flour

1/2 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a caste iron skillet.

Season porch chop with rosemary, salt and pepper.

IMG_2097

Sear the pork chops in a medium high skillet, on both sides, till golden brown.

IMG_2099

Remove seared chops and add shallots and mushrooms to the same skillet.

Saute till golden and add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and flour.  Cook for another 2-3 mins.  The mixture will look very dry and will stick together.

Stirring continuously, add the chicken stock and the pork chops.

Simmer on medium low till pork 160 F at the center.  Remove chops and continue to thicken the sauce to your liking.

IMG_2105

Serve the chops with a generous smothering of the mushroom sauce.  Sauteed green beans are a wonderful side with this dish !

IMG_2106

 

Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Meat

Steak and Potatoes

This is my super speedy weeknight steak dinner.  ready in  hr.   Marinade a 1.5lbs  round bottom roast or skirt steak with 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup red wine, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 Tbsp of whole mustard seeds and 3-4 springs of rosmary.  Let the meat marinade at room temperature for 30 mins.

In the meantime, cut up potatoes ( I love red bliss) and put in a shallow pot.  Cover with chicken stock, salt (to taste, some stocks can be very salty), whole peppercorns and some more rosemary.

After 30mins, heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and saute 2 sliced shallots and 5-6 springs of thyme.    

Once the shallots become tender, add the steak and the marinade into the skillet.  Sear on each side till desired done-ness.  I like my steak medium rare.  

In the meantime, check the potatoes and if they are done, drain the potatoes and plate them. 

Allow the steak to rest responsibly, about 10-15mins.  

Add a little bit of chicken stock or red wine, to the bottom of the skillet to deglaze the pan and create a quick pan sauce.    

Slice steak.  Plate steak.  Devour !  

Middle Eastern, Poultry

Orange Saffron Drumsticks

  
A unique flavor spin on your typical of drumsticks.  Roast it or grill it, this will become a new staple in your recipe box.  If you are not a fan of drumsticks, try it on chicken breasts or thighs.

Ingredients:

1lb bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks

zest and juice of 1 large orange

2 tbsp of rosemary

1 tsp of red pepper flakes

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of saffron

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Marinade chicken in all the ingredients for 3hrs upto overnight.

  
Bake in a 375F oven for 45mins till cooked through.

Savor !

   

Dinner, Meat, Sides

Pork Chops with Blackberry Balsamic Sauce and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My mom had never had sweet potatoes and that needed to be changed.  This is more of a fall menu, perfect on a crisp October evening, but since my mom was visiting, August just had to do.  This meal would pair well with a nice red or even with some pumpkin beer.   I hope you all enjoy this meal–I know my mom loved it !

Blackberry Balsamic Sauce:

1 pint of fresh blackberries
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp good quality aged balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
optional – about 2/3 tsp cornstarch in 1 Tbsp water

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pork chops:

Sprinkle with salt pepper and Chinese five spice and grill till cooked through.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet Potatoes:

2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large ones

1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil

1-2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp salt

1-2 Tbsp spice or spice combination of your choice: chipotle powder.

Preheat oven to 450°F. (For more crispiness, preheat your oven to 500°F.)

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then, if they are very long, in half crosswise. Cut each piece into cubes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and add the oil. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and spices of your choice. Use your hands to mix well, so all pieces are coated with oil and spices.

Spread the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet; the oil they are coated with should keep them from sticking to the pan. If you are trying to cut fat, reduce the oil to 2 Tbsp and use a non-stick coating on the baking sheet.

Bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn over all of the sweet potato pieces. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are well browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dinner, Meat, Stew

Pork and Butternut Squash Stew

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

-12F.  Yup ! That has been the weather for the last few days.  Bitter, arctic, bone chilling cold.  The only fix is a piping hot bowl of stew. Stews may sound daunting but they really are not.  Just a few ingredients, a crock pot and a cold weekend afternoon–that really is all you need to make this stew and trust me, it is good for you and it will give your sunday chicken roast a run for its feathers !  So here we go !

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork

5 cups cubed butternut squash

2 yellow onions, chopped

2 tsp of minced garlic

1, 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube or 1, 14 oz can of chicken stock

1 tbsp of dried sage and rosemary

1/2 tbsp of red pepper flakes

A dash of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

2, Fresh springs of thyme

1 bay leaf

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Method:

In a pan, saute pork with all the spices, herbs (except the thyme and bay leaf) and onions till pork is browned and onions are golden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In a crock pot, transfer the pork and onions.  Add the squash, tomatoes, chicken cube and two sprigs of fresh thyme and 1 bay leaf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Top the pot with water just to cover everything–you will have to adjust this if you are using chicken stock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cook on high for 4.5 hrs, leaving the cover off for the last 1 hr to thicken the stew–make sure to taste the seasonings and stir the stew every now and again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Serve hot with rice, cornbread, or some crusty dinner rolls !

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lunch, Salad, Sides

Roasted Acorn-Squash Salad

This was my first time cooking Acorn Squash so I am quite excited about this salad.  My lunches are going to be delightful this week ! The beauty of this recipe is that once the squash is roasted you could add it to a salad, like I did or make some soup out of it.  It will also be a great side dish to any sunday roast dinner.  I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:

1 lb acorn squash cut up into wedges

1.5 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1/2 tbsp of dried rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

1, 7oz bag of arugul greens mix

Your choice of Nuts and dried fruit to dress up the salad.  I used pecans and cherries !

Method:

Toss the wedges of squash with the oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper and roast for about 35min at 350F.

There will be some dressing left after coating the squash which could be used to dress the salad.  If not, feel free to make extra dressing or use a dressing that you would use otherwise.

Add the squash to the leaves, add the nuts and berries and serve warm !

Note: Bacon, chickpeas, apples and pears would also make excellent additions to the salad.  Enjoy !