Friday, January 28, 2011

#7 - Apple Cake

If there's something funny, awesome, or bizarre on the Internet, Johnny's probably found it. And one thing he's come across is Bakerella, a blog by this crazy lady who makes crazy desserts with her crazy free time. She's most known for her cake pops, which we actually made on a few occasions, and since they came out so well, we decided to give this cake recipe a try.

Apple Cake

From Bakerella
Most of the ingredients for this recipe are pretty run-of-the-mill baking ingredients, except for the dates. Scary, weird dates. We were too afraid to try them raw, but once the cake was made, we found out that they're actually not bad. Maybe next time we'll be braver.
This was actually a pretty easy recipe to make. Except for mixing the dry ingredients, you could just throw everything in the KitchenAid, which made it simple.
The original recipe said that the batter would be really thick, and they weren't kidding. After adding the last few things, we could barely stir it with a spatula. But with a little elbow-grease, we could get the batter onto a greased (but not elbow-greased, yuck) pan and in the oven.
A fun thing about this cake is that you get to make a warm drizzle to put on top of it which makes it even more moist once it's done. The recipe made way too much of the sauce, though. We probably didn't even use half of it, but if you like it sweeter and moister, then you can add more. But we don't think you'd need to use it all under any circumstances.
For being such an easy recipe to make, this is the best apple cake you'll ever eat. Why Americans are so infatuated with apple pie, when apple cake can be so delicious, we'll never understand.
Le recipe:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups apples, diced
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon with a wire whisk.
  3. Using a mixer, combine sugar and oil, and mix until blended.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
  5. Add dry ingredient mixture, and mix thoroughly.
  6. Coat dates in flour, shaking off excess.
  7. Fold in dates, apples, and walnuts.
  8. Grease and flour 9 x 13 pan.
  9. Pour batter into pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  10. Cook brown sugar, butter, and milk over medium heat until mixture bubbles.
  11. Once it has cooled, poke holes into the cake using a dowel or other small rounded utensil.
  12. Pour some, not all, of the heated topping over the cake.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

#6 - Homemade Pasta with Pesto

After a long week at work nothing is better than a lazy weekend. Usually our Saturdays are filled with Hoyas games and other errands to run, so Sunday is often our day to relax at home. This week was the first time in a long while that there was no basketball on Saturday, which meant we could have a lazy Saturday and still have the energy to create something new today. So we thought we would go all out and make homemade pasta, something we've been wanting to do forever.

Homemade Pasta with Pesto

From The Classic Pasta Cookbook and the Villa Cookbook For homemade pasta you only need three ingredients- eggs, flour and several hours of time. Oh, and a lot of patience. But it's kinda hard to take a picture of those last two.Some people use their KitchenAid to mix up the pasta dough. We have watched too many Top Chef and Iron Chef episodes to do it that way, so we chose to go professional and make a nest of flour and eggs.
Even though Chef Anne Burrell says that it's the only way to make pasta, it really is a difficult thing to do. We had a few mishaps along the way, but in the end our dough seemed to come out like we wanted.
We didn't use our KitchenAid to make the dough, but there was no way we weren't going to use our KitchenAid pasta maker attachments to roll and cut the pasta.
The first strip that we made was pretty nerve-wrecking, but once we got the hang of it, we felt pretty comfortable cranking out more pasta.
After we had a few strips, it was time to cut the sheets into what we wanted for our meal. We had gotten a spaghetti cutter attachment so that's what we used. It ended up coming out super thin, and more like tagliolini than spaghetti, but it all worked out fine in the end.
To go with our homemade pasta, we decided we wanted to have a simple sauce so we could really taste the fresh pasta. So we chose pesto, which we wouldn't usually make in the winter time.

We already have a pretty good pesto recipe from the Villa Cookbook that we make when we have a live basil plant. And since that doesn't count as a new recipe, we didn't take any pictures of us making the sauce. But we'll give you the recipe for that too because it's pretty good.

(Note: lack of pesto-making picture)
All in all, the time and effort that went into making the fresh pasta was worth it because you could taste the difference, and it was delicious. That said, we're not going to make fresh pasta again anytime soon.

Here's the long recipe (Makes about 1 lb of pasta):

Homemade Pasta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Pour the flour into a mound on a wooden surface, and form a well in the middle with your hand.
  2. Break the eggs, one at a time, into the center of the well.
  3. Beat the eggs with a fork until it is completely mixed, making sure not to break the wall.
  4. Gradually, incorporate the flour into the egg mixture, being careful not to break the walls entirely.
  5. Use both hands to fold in the remaining flour over the egg mixture.
  6. Start working the dough until all the flour and egg is mixed together. Add more flour if needed.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and clear your work surface.
  8. Unwrap your dough and begin kneading by folding the dough over one hand, pushing it away from you with the palm of your other hand, and then rotating the dough 90 degrees.
  9. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap again, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
  10. Roll the pasta according to your machine's instructions.
  11. Cut the pasta using another machine or by hand.
  12. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

And as promised, here's the pesto recipe too:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
  1. With food processor running, drop in the cloves of garlic and chop finely.
  2. After scraping work bowl, add basil, pine nuts, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pulse several times and scrape work bowl.
  4. With food processor running, slowly add olive oil until mixture becomes mostly smooth.
  5. Toss pesto and Parmigiano with hot pasta.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#5 - Hot Chocolate

Well, it's winter in these parts and that means runny noses, snow days, mittens, and hot chocolate. And we're not talking of the Swiss Miss variety. Gone are the days of brown powder and dehydrated marshmallows. We've been trying to make more grown-up hot chocolates, and this recipe comes Café Mozart, a famous Viennese cafe - Austria, not Virginia, of course.

Hot Chocolate

From In Mama's Kitchen The Café Mozart hot chocolate recipe uses few ingredients, making it easy to make on a cold winter's night.Most people invest in a good coffee maker and a tea pot for their kitchens. While we have both of those, we've got one step forward. For Christmas last year, Johnny gave Emily the ultimate kitchen appliance- a hot chocolate maker from Bialetti. Instead of having to heat the milk and chocolate stove top like in the old days, we can just throw all the ingredients together, push a button, and get an amazing mug of frothed hot chocolate in a matter of minutes.
Both bitter and unsweetened chocolate were needed to make the hot chocolate. We decided to go all out and used Ghirardelli. If you're gonna make something rich, you might as well make it ridiculously rich. The quality of chocolate can definitely make hot chocolate even that much better.
The final mug was delicious! It was chocolatey, rich, thick, and frothy. We obviously topped our hot chocolate with whipped cream, which helped balance the richness of the chocolate. While it was so easy to make in our machine, you can use the same recipe on the stove as well.
Here's the hot chocolate recipe (Makes 1 Serving):
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp confectioners' sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  1. In a food processor, combine the chocolates, sugar, and salt. Process on high just until the chocolates are are finely ground.
  2. Heat the milk over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan to just under a boil.
  3. Add in the chocolate mixture, and continue cooking. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens slightly, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  5. Pour into a mug, top with whipped cream, and serve immediately.
Or just buy a Bialetti hot chocolate maker!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#4 - Ham and Arugula Pizza

Pizza is definitely one of our favorite foods to have when we want something tasty and quick during the busy work week. Who doesn't love dough, cheese, and tomatoes? We have some good pizza places near where we live, but we also sometimes like to make our own pizza instead. This recipe is actually a white pizza, so there's no red tomato sauce involved. It's a super easy recipe and is perfect for a midweek dinner. We added ham and arugula onto the original recipe to make it even better.

Ham and Arugula Pizza

Adapted from 5 Ingredient Fix This recipe comes from Food Network chef, Claire Robinson, who has a show called "5 Ingredient Fix" where she uses, you guessed it, only five ingredients to make each recipe. We added 2 more ingredients onto the original recipe, so it's technically a 7 ingredient fix.The dough is probably the most important part of a pizza. Some like a New York thickness, others go for Chicago-style, and yet others prefer thin crust. We haven't tried making our own dough yet (hopefully one day), but there is a great bakery near Emily's family in New Jersey that sells freshly-made dough. Every time we go up for a visit, we make a stop and buy some dough. When rolled out, this dough makes for a medium thickness. One pound ends up making one pizza - we usually make two so we have leftovers for the week.
The real recipe calls for garlic-flavored olive oil. We didn't really know what that meant the first time we tried the recipe, so we just improvised. And for us, that means throwing some garlic and olive oil in a bowl and covering the top. It ended up working out great, and the garlic definitely started infusing with the oil after about 20 minutes.
Since the white pizza with just mozzarella and ricotta can be kind of plain, we decided to add some ham and arugula on top. We used black forest ham and added it on before putting the pizza in the oven. For the arugula, we didn't add it until the last ten minutes of cook time so it had some time to wilt but still had a little bite to it in the end.
The end result was a perfect pizza. The garlic oil gave great flavor to the dough, and the addition of the ham and arugula really made the pizza a perfect mid-week dinner. Maybe next time we try pizza we'll make an attempt at our own dough.
Here's the recipe for you:
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb ball of pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsps oregano, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 lb ham or prosciutto cotto
  • 2 handfuls arugula
  1. Crush the garlic and let sit in covered bowl of olive oil for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat over to 375ºF.
  3. Lightly brush the bottom of the pizza pan with regular olive oil.
  4. Roll out the dough on a work surface using a small amount of flour and your hands. Transfer the rolled dough to the greased pan.
  5. Brush the top of the dough with the garlic-flavored olive oil and sprinkle some oregano over the oil.
  6. Spread the mozzarella over the crust.
  7. Use a spoon to dollop the ricotta evenly over the mozzarella, and then sprinkle more oregano on top.
  8. Add small pieces of ham over the cheeses.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Add the arugula on top of the pizza and then finish cooking for 5 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  11. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

#3 - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We usually make desserts for special occasions, but not very often at home for just the two of us. So we thought it would be fun to try out a cookie recipe that we could eat over the course of the week.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

From All RecipesSince our first couple of recipes featured unusual produce we've gotten from Star Hollow, this time we decided to make something with everyday ingredients we have at home. No trip to the store was needed for this one. We got married in the last 10 years, so naturally we have a KitchenAid, and that makes baking cookies super easy. We could throw everything right into the mixer and then just plop the dough in heaping spoonfuls before baking. Definitely better than a hand mixer.
The real recipe we found online would have made about 1,000 cookies, and since we are only two people we decided to half it. This ended up giving us 22, a much more manageable amount, and surprisingly less than the 500 we were expecting.
Our cookies were yummy for being so simple to make. They came out warm and melty, and we just had to sample some right away. Thankfully, we had plenty left to bring in our lunchboxes for the rest of the week.
Here's the recipe for you (Makes 22):
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat over to 325ºF.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in egg, and add the vanilla.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until just blended.
  6. Mix in the oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes.
  9. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

#2 - Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

So we still have some produce left from Star Hollow, including several sweet potatoes. One of the reasons we decided to do the hundred recipe challenge was so that we could learn to use some new ingredients that we get from Farmer Randy.

We've never worked with sweet potatoes, so we wanted to make something simple but tasty. So we decided on Smitten Kitchen's recipe for sweet potato wedges. We've used this website before to make our turkey chili, and since that's one of our favorite winter recipes we thought we'd give this one a whirl.

Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen We were able to make this recipe using spices we have at home. We didn't have to buy anything. The original recipe called for fennel seeds as well, but we left those out since we didn't have any at home (and Johnny doesn't really like their taste).
We usually use our molcajete to make guacamole, so it was fun to actually use it to grind spices for this recipe.
The original recipe said to add 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoons of the dried hot red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you want your final dish. We decided to play it safe and just used the quarter teaspoon, and it wasn't too bad. It probably could have been a bit spicier.
The outcome was a very good side to go with our hamburgers for dinner. The sweet potato wedges were yummy plain, but they also tasted good dipped in some ketchup. We bet they would probably be good as an appetizer as well.
Here's the recipe for you:
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  1. Preheat over to 425ºF.
  2. Coarsely grind coriander, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a molcajete. Stir together ground spices and salt.
  3. Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into one inch wedges. Keep the skin on.
  4. Toss wedges with oil and spices in a large roasting pan.
  5. Roast in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula
  6. Roast for about 15 more minutes until all wedges are are tender and slightly golden.