Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Minute Molten Chocolate Cake

What better way to celebrate 100 FOLLOWERS and OVER 10,000 BLOG VIEWS than with...

Minute Molten Chocolate Cake
Can it be? The warm, ooey, gooey, chocolate heartthrob that is molten lava cake at my fingertips in just minutes? I wouldn't joke about something this amazing. I admit, I was skeptical as well. But not only did this scrumptious dessert take me about five minutes to prepare, it was undeniably delicious, rich and oh so satisfying. I adapted my recipe from one I found in Food Network Magazine to make these even more chocolaty.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground cinnamon to garnish

Okay get ready because these directions couldn't get any easier. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Divide equally into two mugs and microwave until the top is puffed. I found that a minute and a half on 80% power was perfect and left the middle nice and molten. Dust with ground cinnamon and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread with Orange Butter

Irish Soda Bread with Orange Butter

Being Irish it was only natural for me to make Irish Soda Bread around Saint Patrick's Day (note the colors of the Irish flag in the title of this post). Irish Soda Bread is called Irish Soda Bread because it uses baking soda to leaven the bread as opposed to the more commonly used yeast.  It is incredibly easy to make and almost impossible to mess up.  One recipe I found called for half whole wheat flour and half white flour which I thought was a nice twist on the original but it didn't call for any raisins! Raisins, for me, are an imperative element to Irish Soda Bread and I made sure to add them to the mix!

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup raisins

Uncooked dough.
I think a lot of people can be intimidated by making bread and dough but this honestly was the easiest recipe! Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Use a little extra flour to give the baking sheet a light dusting as well. Put the quarter cup of raisins into a small bowl with a quarter cup of the buttermilk to allow the raisins a few extra minutes in the liquid to rehydrate them.  This makes them extra juicy even once the bread comes out of the oven. Whisk the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the two cups of buttermilk along with the raisins and buttermilk mixture. Using your hands, stir the ingredients using large circular motions around the edge of the bowl until everything is well-combined.

Fresh out of the oven.
Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it out onto the baking sheet with lightly floured hands. You may have to gently knead the dough a few times by pushing the dough outward with the palm of your hand. Form the dough into a round shape and use a sharp knife to mark the dough with a cross. The cross and resulting four quadrants of dough are very typical of Irish Soda Bread because it was originally made by Irish Catholics who wanted to impart their religious symbol onto the bread.
Place the baking sheet in the oven on a middle rack and bake for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees fahrenheit and bake until the loaf is nicely browned on top, probably thirty to thirty five minutes. Take the bread out of the oven and place on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool for about thirty minutes before slicing.

Orange Butter

1 stick butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Using a cheese grater or microplane, rub the skin of an orange just so that the orange part of the peel is grated. You don't want to use the white part of the peel because it has a bitter taste. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  Serve chilled or at room temperature as a spread for the Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


In the Mardi Gras spirit (and in the spirit of being home alone over spring break with virtually nothing to do but cook and watch the Food Network) I wanted to make something totally out of my comfort zone.  Baking and simple savory dishes are definitely where I feel most comfortable in the kitchen so something full of complex spices and flavor like Jambalaya was something very new for me.  And I must say, I am especially proud of the way this dish turned out!  After researching several different Creole seasoning blends and Jambalaya recipes, I made my own and it was much easier than it looks and super delicious!

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into large pieces
3 chicken sausages, casings removed and slices into half inch rounds
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 cups white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons creole seasoning

Now, it is perfectly fine to use a store bought creole seasoning blend but I am particularly proud of how mine turned out.  Most creole seasoning blends call for differing amounts of paprika, cayenne, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, oregano and thyme.  The spice cabinet at my house had just run out of dried thyme so I substituted with herbs de provence which contains thyme, oregano and a few other dried herbs.  This substitution worked out particularly well since Louisiana Creole people are descended partly from the French so herbs de provence was a natural flavor addition.

Brigid's Creole Seasoning Blend
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon herbs de provence

Place all of the spices in a small tupperware. Cover and shake to combine.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Place the chicken and chicken sausage into the pot and cook for several minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent and tender. Add rice, chicken stock and canned tomatoes. Stir. Then bring the mixture to a boil,reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is tender. This should take about fifteen minutes. Finally, stir in hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, and creole seasoning. Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Peanut Butter and Nutella Buttercream Frosting
I made these cupcakes for a friends birthday and I took a little help from the store in terms of the cake part.  But everyone knows that the best and most important part of a cupcake is the frosting, and this frosting is truly something special!  It is creamy and smooth and sweet and when topped with a miniature Reese's candy, you really can't find anything better :) I made one large batch of classic buttercream frosting, split it into two medium bowls and then added the other ingredients to make each of these delicious frostings.

2 pounds confectioners sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup Nutella spread

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl to get rid of any clumps.  Add the butter, cream and vanilla extract to the bowl; the butter should be softened but not melted.  The consistency of yogurt is ideal. Mix all of these ingredients thoroughly with an electric hand mixer or a small spatula until well combined.

At this point, separate the classic buttercream frosting into two bowls with equal portions in each bowl.  Place the jar of creamy peanut butter and the jar of Nutella in the microwave separately for about fifteen seconds each until softened slightly. 

Pour 3/4 cup of the peanut butter into one bowl of the frosting and pour the 3/4 of Nutella spread into the other. Mix again thoroughly with electric hand mixer or spatula until smooth and well combined. In order to frost my cupcakes, I put the frosting in a re-sealable plastic bag and used a scissor to cut a small hole in one corner of the bag. Using the bag like a piping bag, I piped a spiral of thick and creamy frosting on the cupcakes and then placed a tiny Reese's on top of each one. Enjoy!