Salted Carmel Chocolate Cake

I am usually one to say that a boxed cake really is just as good as a homemade cake. And I can say that, because I’ve made quite a few homemade cakes that take forever to put together and rarely are worth their effort. I was usually right – box cake was better.

UNTIL NOW.

When Andrew and I both took our first bite of this masterpiece that he created for my birthday, we had no words. Our eyes said it all. Gooey homemade carmel. Rich dark chocolate icing. Moist deep dark chocolate layers of cake … oh my. Seriously, we were giddy with excitment. We had to share. We sent cake to the neighbors. We ate more cake.

Yes, this one takes a ridiculous amount of time. Expect hours in the kitchen … but then expect to have a party in your mouth. A rockin’ party where only the cool kids are invited. No boxed cakes allowed.

See Recipe here!
http://www.marthastewart.com/857647/salted-caramel-six-layer-chocolate-cake

Top Recipes of 2012

I wanted to gather together our favorite “go to” recipes – so here at the hits of 2012!  All of these we make over and over again, all year.  Our favs!  I wanted to do a Top Ten, but honestly I couldn’t cut any of these so I had to go with a Top Thirteen.  If you’ve been to dinner at our house in the last year, you’ve probably had one of these winners!

Shallot, Date, and Rosemary Chicken – a new favorite!  Great flavor combo and always a winner!  Healthy too!
 
Andrew’s Hot Cocoa – We drink this too much.  Crazy good.  You’ll never go back to Starbucks again!
 
Chicken Pad Thai – A great way to do Thai at home!  
 
Katie’s Harvest Chili – After Katie made this for us last month, I’ve cooked it at least 4 times since.  It’s just THAT fantastic.
 
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese – Dangerous, and SO unhealthy, but seriously it’s amazing.  I wanted to eliminate it from the top recipes because it’s so stinkin’ full of fat and carbs, but I couldn’t.  It’s a party in your mouth, Boston style!
 
Mulligatawany Soup – I avoided this recipe for years because the ingredients sounded strange, and because I’m not a huge curry fan.  But OH MY GOODNESS!  Once I gave it a try, we were all hooked.  We make it all the time now.
Figgy Piggy Remake – I love this pizza because it’s rather unpizza like – it’s fresh and it has a wonderful combo of flavors.  Everything Domino’s isn’t.  
 
Fiesta Salad – This salad is a must for just about all the company we have over, and for new moms, and sick friends … a go to for anyone.
 
Baked Apple Oatmeal – I get up early in the morning just so I can get this in the oven before the kids wake up.  And not much makes me get up early … 
 
The Most Delicious Hamburger – Whenever we make hamburgers, this is what we do.  The panade on the inside of the burger makes it so moist and tasty.  It’s a little extra work for a lotta extra flavor!
 
Balsamic Chicken with Feta (or Goat Cheese) – another winner for company.  I make this probably twice a month in the summertime.  If basil were cheaper in the fall/winter, we’d be eating it all year long!  The sauce is soooo good over rice or polenta!
 
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies – I can’t speak highly enough of these cookies.  You’ll never go back to Nestle again.  I swear.  Have you ever cooked with browned butter?  It gets nutty and carmely and makes this cookies extra special!
 
Pumpkin Enchiladas – this is my number one most requested recipe.  I can make this with my eyes closed now – I’ve been cooking this dish up for 3 years, and never once been disappointed.  Recently we started making the sauce with fresh pumpkin and it made it even better.  If that is possible.  

Shallot, Date & Rosemary Chicken

I made this tonight and it was awesome. Thanks to another great recipe from Flax+Honey! Easy to toss together and the flavor combo was sophisticated and simple. I paused before I dove in, to think about taking a picture, but it smelled so good I just went ahead and gobbled it up. I stole a pic from the internet instead.

Go forth, dear readers (all one of you) and make this amazing chicken. You will not be sorry!

*i served this with oven brown rice, and used the cooking liquid from the chicken to pour over the rice – EXCELLENT!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 7 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a large oven safe dish with parchment paper.
2. Place organic chicken breasts on parchment paper and evenly top with rosemary, shallots, and dates.
3. Combine olive oil, balsamic, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over chicken.
4. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.

Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps

 

 

I made these tonight and they turned out great! Here is why I chose this recipe:

1. I’m not a planned cookie baker, so when every recipe I found for ginger snaps required chilling the dough for 2 hours, I was bummed. But this one allows you to cook immediately!

2. These cookies use butter instead of shortening or oil. I prefer to bake with butter for health reasons.

3. I’ve been wanting to experiment with using whole wheat pastry flour in baking … and voila! A great way to give it a try. Couldn’t tell these were “whole wheat”.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup molasses
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 cup white sugar for decoration

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs, and then the molasses. Combine the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, heaping the measures if you like a lot of spice. Stir the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture just until blended.

3. Roll the dough into small balls, and dip the top of each ball into the remaining white sugar. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are cracked. Bake longer for crispy cookies, less time for chewy cookies. Cool on wire racks.

Hearty Meat Lasagna

This is our most favorite lasagna from the well loved New Best Recipes Cookbook! Always a winner! Don’t skip on the meat – definitely get at least half ground pork and half ground beef. If you really want to splurge go for the veal.

Ingredients

tomato-based meat sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb meat ( ground veal and ground pork or ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (28 ounce) cans tomato puree
  • 1 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained

Ricotta Mozzarella and Pasta layers

  • 15 ounces whole milk or 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the sauce: Pre-heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook until translucent. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, or about 30 seconds.
  3. Increase heat to medium high. Add meat, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is no longer a raw color, but not browned.
  4. Add the cream and simmer until the liquid is about halved.

Page 2 of 2New Best Recipe Hearty Meat Lasagna (cont.)

Directions

  1. Add the pureed and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer until flavors are blended. About 20 minutes.
  2. For the Layers:.
  3. Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, the basil, egg, salt, pepper in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until creamy and well combined.
  4. Smear the entire bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Place 3 noodles on top of the sauce. Drop 3 T. onto each of the noodles and smear with the back of a spoon.
  5. Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over the cheese mixture. Top with 3 more noodles. Continue this process 2 more times.
  6. Place the remaining 3 noodles on the sauce, spread with remaining sauce, sprinkle remaining cheese, and parmesan.
  7. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and bake 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

One of the few recipes I can wing and not need to look at directions. Chicken noodle soup is very forgiving and you can work with what you have. Make it super simple by shredding a rotisserie chicken and tossing it in at the end. Of course it always tastes better with homemade broth if you have it!

Sautee in large pot or dutch oven, 10 minutes or until soft:

2-3 carrots, chopped2-3 celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
pat of butter

Add and bring to boil:
Chicken broth, to cover veggies, filling about half of your pot.
Combo of spices: tumeric, garlic salt, white pepper, parsley flakes, thyme – taste test to adjust! start small and work your way up with the spices. you can always add more, but you can’t add less. 😉

Turn down to a hearty simmer, add:
Shredded Chicken
Noodles

Cook until noodles are soft.