Category: featured recipes
Thursday, October 1
It’s October, which means many things. Halloween. Pumpkins. Apple picking. And Fair Trade Month!
I absolutely LOVE working with the folks at Fair Trade USA and I am so happy to help them celebrate Fair Trade Month once again! Today we have a Ugandan farmer’s story to share, a giveaway and a FANTASTIC recipe, one that I’ve been meaning to share with you for years. I also have a super simple request, which I’ll get to when we start talking about the giveaway. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I have always loved the opportunities that Fair Trade provides for farmers, but after visiting Malawi earlier this year, it holds an even stronger hold on my heart. Fair Trade works with farmers in Malawi and I love knowing that the good people of that country are benefiting from what Fair Trade has to offer. One of my biggest takeaways from that trip was that we need to find sustainable ways to help people and advance development. Fair Trade is one of the tools that can help us do just that.
Click on the infographic above to zoom in.
The Fair Trade farmer I would like to share with you today is Chelimo Annet, an inspirational coffee farmer & member of the Coffee A Cup Cooperative Society in Uganda. Chelimo has been farming coffee since 1994 and has 500 coffee trees. She supplements her income by growing bananas & eggplant.
Chelimo says that one of the primary benefits of being in a Fair Trade cooperative is that she is able to get coffee seedlings. Some of her trees are very old and don’t yield as much coffee as they used to, so raising young coffee trees is important. Another big benefit has been the additional income she receives for her coffee, which has enabled her 6 children to attend school. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I met in Africa used increased income to send their children to school before anything else. Participating in Fair Trade co-ops gives people the chance to give their children the one thing they want more than anything else – an education. It’s powerful stuff. When I read how she was able to send her children to school, oh man, my heart.
Now that we’ve met Chelimo, I think it’s time for a giveaway! Fair Trade would like to share some of the fruits of their farmers’ labors with you! Today one lucky commenter will get a package of wonderful Fair Trade goodies, including products from:
- Cascadian Farm
- Lake Champlain Chocolates
- Numi Organic Tea
- Frontier Natural Products Co-Op
- Barefoot & Chocolate
- Alter Eco
- Pura Vida by S&D Coffee
- Spectrum Essentials
To enter the giveaway, please do the following by Midnight, PT on October 31, 2015 (prize must be shipped within the U.S.):
- Leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy!
- Bonus Entry: Please pretty please repin this pin by clicking here. Be sure to leave a separate comment on this post letting us know you did! My recipe is part of a Fair Trade USA recipe rally and the two recipes with the most repins on the Fair Trade pin board will earn the winning bloggers a trip to visit Fair Trade farms in the Dominican Republic. Honestly, I would write about Fair Trade no matter what and it’s totally fine if I don’t win, but it would be fun! 😉
- Bonus Entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting us know you did!
Last but not least, today’s recipe. I have been making these Mini Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes since long before the blog existed. It was sort of my crowning glory recipe. I found it in the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, a cookbook I received as a wedding gift. I’ve had it on my “blog post topics to write about” list for years because these little cakes deserve a big blog post. I was actually having a hard time figuring out what recipe I wanted to make with the Fair Trade goodies I received and then it hit me: lava cakes! What better way to use a bag of fair trade chocolate chips than to create molten lava chocolate. NONE, I tell you.
This chocolate lava cake is the real deal. No cheating by putting a piece of candy in the middle. No chocolate chips mixed in the dough to make it seem gooey. This cake is naturally volcanic and wonderful and rich and chocolatey and gourmet and wonderful. The cakes are not hard to make, I promise. I mean, you are gonna get a few dishes dirty and figuring out when to take them out of the oven is tricky, but the recipe is straightforward and uses ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen. And you have the chance to use several fair trade ingredients, from chocolate chips to cocoa to vanilla, all common fair trade products.
That’s it for today! An awesome fair trade farmer, a delicious giveaway, and one of my favorite recipes EVER. Happy Fair Trade Month! And good luck on the giveaway!Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes (a.k.a. Chocolate Lava Cakes)Prep timeCook timeTotal timeAdapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking BookAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 9Ingredients
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1¼ cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips (you can use bittersweet, too, but it will be CRAZY rich)
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Once melted, set aside to cool.
- Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl. Beat on high with a stand mixer or hand mixer for 5 minutes. Mixture should be pale yellow and thickened.
- While eggs are mixing, grease 9 5-oz. ramekins then coat with granulated sugar. Set aside.
- Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat on medium speed until just mixed, about 30 seconds total.
- Sift flour, powdered sugar and salt into the bowl. Beat on low speed, just until blended, about 15 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula and give it one more quick stir by hand.
- Spoon batter into prepared dishes, dividing evenly. Ramekins should be about ⅔ full.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes, until the cakes have risen slightly, feel firm at the edges and are softer in the center when pressed gently with your finger. The hardest part of this recipe is taking the cakes out at the right moment! Too soon and there is too much lava, too late and there is no lava. The cakes will have risen about a ¼ inch and look cooked on the top surface. The center should feel softer than the edges. Rest assured these cakes are still gooey goodness even if you pass the lava stage, so don't stress.
- Cool in dishes for 5 minutes, then, using pot holders, invert each cake onto a serving plate. Cool 15 minutes before serving. I personally just keep the lava cakes in the ramekins - I think it's prettier this way, it's easier, and it's just as delicious!
- Optional: serve sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar and chocolate spirals and raspberries. I never do this. I just care about eating the cake as quickly as possible.
Wednesday, September 30
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I have met some truly amazing people thanks to blogging. Amazing. People. One of those people is food blogger and cookbook author Kathy Strahs. We met many moons ago at a conference and our friendship grew from there. For a short time we even lived in the same neighborhood, which was the BEST THING EVER. Sadly she’s not down the street any more, but I make up for that by pestering her with text messages.
One of the things I love about Kathy so much is her brain. She is a smart cookie, that Kathy. She also happens to be good at making cookies. She’s the whole cookie package (that’s like the highest compliment I can give someone). Anyway, yeah, Kathy’s brain. It does smart and cool and high quality stuff.
So, why am I rambling on and on about Kathy? Because I have some of that awesome Kathy stuff to share with you!
Here’s the deal. You will love this book. You need to buy it. Visit Kathy’s Kickstarter page to see the different pledge levels and secure your first-edition copy today! The pledge rewards are great, including a “How to Make Mac ‘n Cheese” graphic t-shirt designed by Kathy’s adorable daughter Hayley. There is a book trailer on the Kickstarter page as well as more details about the project. Please check it out and spread the word!
To celebrate today’s launch, I am participating in a blog potluck with Kathy and other food friends! I had the chance to make one of her 8×8 recipes – Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root Vegetables. Prep time was less than 25 minutes and dinner was delicious. I even doubled the recipe and used TWO 8×8 pans, because I knew we’d love it so much. I was right, we did!
A potluck wouldn’t be a potluck with just ONE dish! Be sure to check out all the other recipes from The 8×8 Cookbook that are being featured today to celebrate Kathy’s Kickstarter launch!
- Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (Breezy Brunch) ~ Julie from Peanut Butter and Julie
- Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Cream Biscuits (Sweet Treats) ~ Gerry from Foodness Gracious
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Sweet Treats) ~ Jenny from Picky Palate
- Chocolate Craving Cake (Sweet Treats) ~ Amanda from I Am Baker
- Greek-Style Sausage and Peppers (Weeknights Won) ~ Liren from Kitchen Confidante
- Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders (Weeknights Won) ~ Amy from Very Culinary
- Layered Spinach, Artichoke and Crab Dip (On the Side) ~ Kathy from Panini Happy (and author of The 8×8 Cookbook)
- Pastitsio (The Sunday Dinner Table) ~ Rachel from Rachel Cooks
Without further ado, Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root Vegetables!
Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root VegetablesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeBy Kathy Strahs, from The 8x8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners and More--In One Perfect 8x8 Inch Dish (Burnt Cheese Press, 2015), reprinted with permission. As excerpted from the book: "The shiny glazed chicken drumsticks get all the attention in this dish, but the roasted root vegetables relaxing beneath them really deserve some notice. Carrots, turnips, and potatoes are flavorful in their own right, and here, with honey-balsamic glaze traveling down from the chicken, they become truly next level! They go into the oven partially cooked to make sure they’re done right in synch with the chicken."Author: Kathy StrahsServes: 4Ingredients
- 1 cup roughly chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup roughly chopped turnips (1 to 2 small)
- 1 cup roughly chopped skin-on red potatoes (about ½ pound)
- ½ small red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ pounds chicken drumsticks
- Heat oven to 400º F.
- Place the carrots, turnips and potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 4 minutes (alternatively, you can blanch the vegetables in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes). Drain any excess water and transfer the vegetables to an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or metal baking pan. Add the onion wedges to the dish or pan.
- In a small bowl, stir together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the thyme, salt and pepper. Measure out ¾ teaspoon of the seasoning mixture and sprinkle it all over the vegetables. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss to combine.
- Season the chicken with the remaining seasoning mixture–be sure to slide some of the seasonings under the skin as well as on the outside. Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes. Brush the chicken with half of the honey-balsamic mixture and bake for another 15 minutes. Brush the chicken with the remaining honey-balsamic mixture and continue baking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more (tent the chicken with foil if the glaze starts to burn).
Thank you to Le Creuset for providing the beautiful 8×8 dish!
Tuesday, September 29
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!
Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!
At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.
Here’s how to make an anchor cake!
- Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
- Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
- …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
- For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.
Click here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.
The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.
Vanilla CakePrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups milk
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
- Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
- Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
- Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
- For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
- Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:16 am 4 Comments
Categories: birthday cakes, fab faves, featured recipes, kids, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, sweet things Tags: anchor birthday cake, birthday cake, birthday cake decorating, cake, cake decorating, vanilla cake, yellow cake |
Thursday, September 17
Today’s recipe has been a long time coming. It’s been in my head forEVER and today I finally took it out of my head and made it reality. And boy-oh-boy am I glad I did. I never say “boy-oh-boy,” so that should tell you how good this recipe is.
For quite some time I’ve been thinking that Indian food would be good filler for a burrito. After all, flour tortillas are a really excellent blank canvas for all kinds of flavors. Including Indian flavors.
I used my homemade tandoori chicken as the base for the burrito, then just piled on all kinds of other wonderful ingredients. The result was delectable. In fact, I had an Indian burrito for lunch today and then couldn’t wait to have it again for dinner.
If I wanted to start a food truck (which I don’t), this burrito is what I would serve. Since I’m never going to start a food truck, I’ll just spill all my secrets.
In case you are wondering, our kids ate their burritos, although they each had a different variation, from Owen with just tandoori chicken and rice to Anna who used about half of the ingredients to Cate who went for the whole enchilada, or burrito, actually!
I think it’s time to get right down to the recipe. Enjoy!
Indian BurritosIf Mexican food is good in a burrito, why wouldn't Indian food be good, too? The answer: it is!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Large flour tortillas
- Tandoori chicken (click here for recipe)
- Grilled onions
- Grilled bell peppers
- Jasmine or basmati rice, cooked in salted water
- Canned chickpeas
- Masala sauce (see recipe below)
- Raita sauce (see recipe below)
- Lentils (you can look for a recipe for "dal" online, or just buy the boxed, cooked lentils at Trader Joe's!)
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Make sure your tandoori chicken, onions, peppers, rice, chickpeas and masala sauce are all warm/hot.
- Warm the tortilla on both side on the stove in a large, dry frying pan.
- Pile on all of the ingredients above and wrap the tortilla up burrito style!
Masala SaucePrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis chunky tomato-based masala sauce is a perfect topper for Indian burritos!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 clove fresh garlic, pressed through a garlic press
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, most of the fluid drained off
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamom
- In a small sauce pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.
- Add garlic, stir and cook about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Blend about ⅔ of the mixture in a blender, then add back into the pan and stir. Serve warm.
Raita Sauce (Indian Yogurt Sauce)Prep timeTotal timeBasic recipe for raita, an Indian yogurt-based sauce with cucumber.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 cup plain yogurt (you can use whatever kind of yogurt you want - if you use Greek, the sauce will be thicker)
- ½ cup shredded cucumber (peel and core the cucumber before shredding)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 shakes cardamom
- Mix everything together! Serve cold.
Tuesday, September 1
The very first recipe I ever made on my own was my Grandma Blomquist’s Brownies. I was in 5th grade and the experience was very memorable for me, not just because I burned both some chocolate and my arm in the process, but also because the brownies came out great, starting a lifetime of brownie baking.
Last week when Cate was in charge of dinner, she asked if she could bake something for dessert on one of the nights. Of course I pulled out my grandma’s brownie recipe. I’ve never written a post about the brownies, but I did put the recipe on the blog ages ago with a cute picture of 2-year-old Cate stirring the batter. Last week when Cate baked her first batch of brownies, I took a few photos for a Babble post I’m working on. Today, as I got this post ready, I stuck the photos side by side and it made me smile. It also made me a little sad. Where did my baby go?!
I needed to take some nice photos of the brownies for this post, so I asked Cate if she could whip up a batch for me. She happily complied. I’m kind of loving this whole Cate cooking thing, especially since her “thing” is brownies.
These brownies are on the fudgy side of the brownie continuum, with a delicious crispy crust on top. It’s a basic, reliable and wonderful brownie recipe. Although, the brownies always taste best when my Grandma Blomquist or Cate bakes them!Grandma Blomquist's BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeMy grandma's recipe that my family has been making FOREVER. Fudgy with a crusty top!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces baking chocolate (substitution: 6 tablespoons cocoa + 2 tablespoons butter)
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 well beaten eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease/butter an 8" x 8" baking pan.
- Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add corn syrup and baking chocolate and stir until all melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in sugar.
- Stir in eggs after the sugar has been mixed in.
- Stir in baking powder, vanilla and salt. Slowly stir in the flour until well combined.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until fork comes out clean.
Dishes from Q Squared NYC.
Thursday, August 27
The giveaway in this post is now closed. But there’s a recipe, so keep reading!
When it comes to my kids’ lunches, I try to do a decent job of feeding them a balanced meal. There’s not much sugar, always a protein of some kind, and definitely fresh fruit. The one area where I am lacking, however, is vegetables. Once in a while I throw in sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks, but more often than not I miss vegetables entirely.
Libby’s® recently contacted me about developing a quick and easy single serving recipe using Libby’s 4 oz. Vegetable Cups. To help with developing the recipe, Libby’s mailed our family a box of the vegetable cups to try out and experiment with. My daughter Anna, who loves trying food and cooking with me, was genuinely excited about the cups.
Anna: “Mom, what are these?”
Me: “Those are the veggie cups I am going to use for a recipe.”
Anna: “Ooooo! Can I have some green beans? Please?!”
Um, yes, she actually said that. And she actually liked the green beans! She liked the carrots, too, and she looooooved the corn. Anna is 100% supportive of me packing the Vegetable Cups in her lunches.
For the recipe I developed I decided to go with a super quick and easy 3-bean salad for one! This makes for a “fancy” after-school snack or even a quick side dish with dinner when life gets busy. And this recipe utilizes one of my favorite magical ingredients: Italian Dressing. Italian dressing has a way of making pretty much any recipe easier, including salads of all kinds.
In addition to today’s recipe, we also have a giveaway! Not only will the winner receive an assortment of Libby’s Vegetable Cups, but they will also be gifted with this ridiculously cute Amanda’s Kids’ Lunch Playset from Food52.com. I wish I could enter the giveaway, all three of my kids would love this playset! (Maybe I’ll just have to go buy it!) To enter the giveaway, please do the following (comments must be posted by Midnight PT 9/3/15): Simply leave a comment on this post! That’s it! Bonus entry: Follow Libby’s on Pinterest (leave a separate comment indicating you follow) Bonus entry: Like Libby’s on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow) Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest (leave a separate comment indicating you follow) Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
The randomly-selected winner of this giveaway was comment #22 Kelly, who said, “What a great idea! My Mom used to make 3-bean salad, but I never thought about sending it in the kids’ lunches. Thanks for the recipe!”
And now for the recipe! It seriously took me less than 5 minutes to toss this salad together. It doesn’t get easier than that. Enjoy!
3-Bean Salad for OnePrep timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 1Ingredients
- 1 Libby's 4-oz. Green Bean Vegetable Cup
- 1 tablespoon garbanzo beans
- 1 tablespoon kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon chopped red onion
- 2 teaspoons Italian dressing
NotesCost: Appx. $0.60/serving3.3.3070
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Voila! You're done!
This post was sponsored by Libby’s – payment was received for services rendered.
Thursday, August 20
Years ago I did a Call for Recipes for homemade mac & cheese. Many tasty recipes were submitted and I’ve used several with great success. There was one in particular, though, that caught my eye. It involved the microwave and seemed almost too easy. I finally tried the technique out last week and loved it so much it deserves its own post!
Cailean was the lovely person who shared the recipe with me. I checked with her and she has no clue where she got the recipe from, although there are many permutations of it online. She knows she didn’t make it up herself, but she did notice that her version doesn’t have butter, which is different than most other similar recipes. So, we’re just going to give Cailean credit. Sound good? Great!
You’ll still need the stovetop to cook the noodles, but the sauce gets cooked in the microwave. I kid you not, in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles you will be done making the homemade mac & cheese. It’s super awesome and takes up as much of your time as boxed mac & cheese. Which begs the question, why would you ever go back to boxed mac & cheese after this?!Microwave Homemade Mac & CheesePrep timeTotal timeRecipe originally from reader Cailean, but I've added a few things and written it in my own wordsAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 16-ounce package of pasta, small shells or elbow macaroni
- 2 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Two pinches nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar is great on its own, but doing half gruyere-half cheddar is nice. For more mild flavor, half monterey jack-half cheddar nice, too.)
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (optional)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
NotesServes 6-8. A good rule of thumb for pasta is 2 ounces uncooked pasta per person.3.3.3070
- Put the water for the pasta on to boil.
- Shred cheese. In a good-sized microwave-safe bowl, whisk together well the milk, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using). Stir in the cheese.
- When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, cook the milk-cheese mixture in the microwave on full power 1-2 minutes at a time, whisking after each time. Keep cooking until cheese is fully melted and you have a nice, smooth sauce (probably about 5 minutes total).
- Drain pasta, return to pot then add sauce and mix well.
- If you want to top the mac & cheese with breadcrumbs, boil the pasta in a wide, oven-safe pot (like my Le Creuset 5½ quart). After the mac & cheese is all mixed together in the pot, sprinkle evenly with panko bread crumbs (about ½ cup or so) then drizzle with butter. Place pan in oven under high broiler and cook until breadcrumbs start to brown, a few minutes. If you don't have an oven safe pot, feel free to transfer the mac & cheese to a 9" x 13" casserole dish before adding the bread crumbs and broiling in the oven.
Tuesday, August 11
Today is all about chocolate.
When we were on Cape Cod a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law Pat made a chocolate cake, complete with homemade frosting that was TO DIE FOR. When it comes to cake, I generally like the cake more than the frosting. Not in this case. In this case the frosting, well, takes the cake. (Sorry! Couldn’t resist that one.)
And, if you’re looking for something to put that perfect chocolate frosting on, let me introduce you to the one pan chocolate cake. This recipe comes from a 2009 issue of Everyday Food and was originally called “dump cake,” since you just dump everything in the pan and then bake. The cake turned out beautifully.
There’s only one drawback to the cake recipe: since you mix the ingredients directly in the pan, you can’t butter and flour the pan ahead of time. This means you’ll be serving the cake directly from the pan. Plus, you kind of have to scrape the servings out with a spatula to keep them in one piece, and the first slice of cake will be a bit tricky to get out of the pan. Because of this, the one pan cake may not be the best choice for serving guests or for special occasions. Or maybe it is. You decide. All I know is that this cake recipe is easy and delicious, and maybe that’s all that matters in the end.Perfect Chocolate FrostingPrep timeTotal timeRecipe from my mother-in-law Pat, adapted from the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder containerAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- ½ cup butter
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ - 2¾ cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup milk
- Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave, in 20 second increments until butter is just melted.
- Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the bowl. Using a hand mixer, start on low and beat in the powdered sugar, increasing the speed to medium and mixing well. Add half of the milk, following the same blending technique. Add 1 more cup of the powdered sugar, mixing as described, then the rest of the milk, mixing once again starting on low and increasing to medium speed.
- Add ½ cup of powdered sugar (this brings you to 2½ cups) and blend well, starting on low then moving up to medium speed. If you want the frosting to be a little thicker, add up to ¼ cup more of powdered sugar.
- Makes enough frosting for a 9" x 13" cake.
One Pan Chocolate CakePrep timeCook timeTotal timeOriginally from a 2009 issue of Everyday Food, written in my own wordsAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 cup cold water
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- In an 8-inch square casserole dish or baking pan (I like to use a pyrex casserole so I can see if the batter is full mixed), whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- Make a well in the middle, then add the vegetable oil, vanilla, vinegar and water in the center. Whisk those ingredients together, then start to incorporate the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before frosting. If you use the chocolate frosting recipe above, you will have some frosting left over.
Tuesday, August 4
Right now I am in New Hampshire at my in-laws’ home. My mother-in-law Pat, the source of many of my most favorite recipes, is the queen of not wasting food. If the food isn’t rotten or moldy, she will find a way to use it!
We bought a bunch of pitas down on Cape Cod last week that we never used, so she packed them up and brought the pita bread back to New Hampshire. The pitas just kept getting staler and staler. Pat couldn’t bear to throw them out, so she decided to try making homemade pita chips, served alongside a scrumptious caprese salad.
Why have I never made homemade pita chips before? They were so easy to make and so crazy delicious I couldn’t believe it. They get all crispy but still have some softer spots that make them so much better than anything you can buy at the store. And, seriously, the “recipe” is beyond simple – anyone can make these!
I think I may have found my new addiction. And maybe yours, too. You’re welcome.
Homemade Pita ChipsPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Pita bread
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425º F.
- Cut the pita into triangle-shaped, chip-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Drizzle pita pieces with olive oil, enough to coat each piece lightly. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt, then toss everything together with your hands to coat evenly and well.
- Spread pita pieces onto a large baking sheet.
- Bake until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pita and your oven. You want them crispy, but it's good to not overook them so you still get a few softer spots.
Wednesday, July 22
We are in New Jersey right now visiting my family. My sister-in-law Cora introduced us to a new way to eat chocolate for lunch yesterday. I’m always up for making chocolate into a meal, so I was 100% on board!
Cora had recently taken her little girl and my niece Sophie to a cafe called Marigolds. They ordered the Nutella panini off the menu and discovered something quite delicious – a panini made with Nutella and fresh sliced strawberries!
Of course we had to try making it on our own and that’s what we had for lunch yesterday! And before you start thinking it’s all weird that this is an actual sandwich that you can have for lunch (my mom couldn’t quite wrap her brain around it), this is basically a PB&J if you really think about it. Nutella is a hazelnut spread, so that’s just like peanut butter, right? And fresh strawberries are way healthier than sugar-laden jam. So, you know. totally the same and way healthier! (Okay, not totally, but whatever.)
The cafe even served the Nutella panini with homemade potato chips. This is LUNCH, people. I swear!
Whether you agree that this makes a healthy and nutritious lunch or not, I do think you’ll agree it’s delicious. Seriously, DELICIOUS. You’re welcome.
Grilled Nutella and Strawberry SandwichesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAs created by my sister-in-law Cora Wallin, inspired by Marigold's in Summit, NJAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Good crusty bread
- Fresh sliced strawberries
- Spread Nutella on 2 slices of bread.
- Layer sliced strawberries on one side then put the sandwich together.
- Butter the outside of both slices of the sandwich and grill in a pan over medium heat until golden brown (like a grilled cheese sandwich) or cook in a panini maker.