Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brown Sugar Raisin Bread Revisited...

I decided to make some brown sugar raisin bread again today, only this time I wanted to make some modifications based on some observations I made after tasting the bread last time. Namely, I added 1-3/4 cups of raisins instead of 1-1/2 cups, and I added more of the brown sugar & cinnamon filling. It was so good! Perfection perfected! :) So, if you decide to try this recipe, I suggest that you try it with the modifications I've included (in red).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Overripe Bananas?

I'd venture to guess that the #1 recipe used to get rid of overripe bananas is banana bread. While banana bread is great, it's nice to have other options. So, when I found myself with several overripe bananas recently, I decided to make an upside-down bananas foster cake. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I found this recipe (please let me know if you know where this came from), but next time I think I am going to try this version from Southern Living to see which one I like better. I figure that the Southern Living recipe might be better because the cake is made from scratch. At the same time, one thing I do like about the recipe I used is how quickly it can be thrown together since it uses a boxed cake mix.

Upside-Down Bananas Foster Cake
source unknown

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp rum extract or 2 tbsp light rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 bananas, sliced

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk, or 1 1/2 cup whole milk
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt 1/3 cup butter for topping and pour into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, rum, and cinnamon and stir with a fork. Add sliced bananas.

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, eggs, melted stick of butter and milk with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Batter should be smooth. Pour over banana topping mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Run a knife along the edges and invert onto serving plate. Cake should release, if not let it rest until it does. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

This can also be made in a round 10 inch cast iron pan.

Monday, October 22, 2007

15-Minute Meal

This is another great weeknight meal idea! Between prepping and cooking, this probably took me all of 15 minutes or so. While the tilapia was in the oven, I prepared the parmesan cheese mixture/sauce and started the spinach. The proportions for the tilapia serve two, so if you want to the original proportions (serves 8) go to

I served this with a lemon garlic spinach. I simply sautéed some fresh spinach in garlic and lemon. This is about as complex of a recipe you'll ever see me make up on my own ;) I'm not a very creative cook, and rely heavily on recipes!

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2-1/4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder (I substituted garlic powder)
1/8 teaspoon celery salt (I didn't have any on hand so I added a pinch of celery seeds and salt)
1/2 pound tilapia fillets (2 fillets)

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Lemon Garlic Spinach
from Me!

olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. fresh spinach
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper, to taste

Using just enough olive oil to coat a sauté pan, cook garlic over medium-low heat until golden.

Add the spinach to the pan, then season with lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper. Stir until the spinach is just barely cooked.

Remove from pan and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

When the weather cools down...

... it's the perfect time for chili. This chili recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law. I am unsure of the source, but I have adapted the recipe to suit our own tastes.

I decided to make some cornbread as well, as cornbread is the perfect complement to chili. I have tried several different recipes for cornbread, but this particular recipe that I found on Chelley's blog is probably the best recipe I have tried to date. The only change I made (noted below) was in the oven temperature, as I did not have an 8x8" glass pan so I used a 9x9" metal pan instead.

This cornbread recipe calls for buttermilk. I've found that I can never use up a full container of buttermilk before it spoils, so cultured buttermilk is a great alternative! I purchase SACO cultured buttermilk blend from my local Walmart and store it in my refrigerator. I love it, because I can now always have buttermilk on hand for recipes, without worrying about using it all up before it spoils :)

Easy Chunky Chili
from Me!

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 (15.5 oz) cans dark red kidney beans (do not drain)
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (cut into chunks; do not drain)
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles (do not drain)
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tbsp black pepper (1 tbsp if you really like your chili spicy!)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp oregano
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

In a large pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat until evenly browned. Drain off grease, reserving a small amount to sauté the garlic, onions, and bell peppers.

Heat reserved grease in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onions, and bell peppers until onions are translucent. Remove from heat. Transfer the onion mixture to the pot with the ground beef, and set the heat to medium.

Add the kidney beans and tomatoes to the beef mixture, and season with chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic salt and oregano. Bring to a simmer, and adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Top each serving with shredded cheddar cheese.

All-Purpose Cornbread
from Cook’s Illustrated, Fall 2007

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup buttermilk (I used SACO cultured buttermilk blend instead)
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees (I heated my oven to 375°F since I was using a dark metal pan). Spray 8-inch square baking dish (glass is recommended) with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl until combined; set aside.

In food processor or blender, process sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.

Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.

I love Cinnabon...

... so much so that I have to refrain from eating their yummy cinnamon rolls all the time! I love the smell of cinnamon and sugar that wafts from their stores... but I usually only let myself get one when I am traveling and happen to be in an airport that has a store. That way, I only eat one or two per year. At a whopping 730 calories per roll and 24 grams of fat, I can't indulge too often.

That said, having overcome my fear of working with yeast, I was so excited to try this recipe that any worries about calories or fat went out the window! ;) These cinnamon rolls are so good! The consistency and texture are just like Cinnabon's, however the cream cheese frosting is slightly different. Still good, but different. No complaints here though! These still taste great the next day, just reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. These come out to 525 calories and 18.6 grams of fat per roll -- a little healthier, but not much!

I have to say that several recipes mentioned doubling the frosting recipe in order to get them as gooey as Cinnabon's. Several reviewers advised against doubling the frosting recipe, while others insisted that it had to be doubled or else there would not be enough. Being someone who likes more rather than less frosting, I took the advice to double it... and boy did I have leftover frosting! Even after slathering it all on there as generously as I could, I still ended up with a ton of leftover frosting. So take my advice and do not double the frosting.

I also do not have a bread machine, so I used my KitchenAid mixer to make these. I first came across this recipe before ever having worked with yeast, and I didn't even know where to start. Coming back to it after having made a few different things with yeast, I wasn't as lost... but I've included fool proof directions below for anyone who may have never worked with yeast, because I know I would have appreciated them myself if this was my first yeast recipe.

Clone of a Cinnabon


1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) (I used skim)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted (I used butter)
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (also known as fast rising, rapid rising, or instant yeast)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

Alternate directions using KitchenAid mixer: dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk, along with 1 tsp sugar from the 1/2 cup white sugar. Let stand, covered, about 10 minutes, until foamy.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, add the yeast/milk mixture, eggs, melted margarine, 3 cups bread flour, salt, and remaining sugar; mix on medium speed with the flat beater until combined. Switch to the dough hook and start kneading the dough on speed 2. Add 1/2 cup of bread flour at a time, until the dough becomes soft and elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl (approximately 4-1/2 total cups bread flour according to the recipe). This will vary depending on the humidity of your kitchen, but you can definitely start to see when the dough stops sticking to the sides. It will start to follow the dough hook around as it spins and will start flopping around the bowl in a large ball. After you reach a total of 4-1/2 cups, start adding the flour a tablespoon at a time so you don't risk adding too much flour. When I made these rolls, I added almost 5 cups bread flour total before it was ready. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. I like to heat my oven to 150
°F, turn it off, and then let the dough rise in the warmed oven.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle (approximately the same size as my Silpat baking mat). Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough (lengthwise so you end up with a 21" roll) and cut with a bread knife into 12 rolls (approximately 1-3/4" each, or three finger widths). Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan.
(If you want to make these the night before, follow the instructions up to this step but then cover and refrigerate your rolls before the second rise. In the morning, take them out of the refrigerate and allow them to rise before baking.) Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). (I baked mine at 350F for 20-25 minutes.)

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar (I recommend sifting it), vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gnocchi Pomodoro

Gnocchi are Italian dumplings. They can be made of potato, semolina, flour, or even ricotta. I love gnocchi, and while I have been thinking making it myself at home, I saw some potato gnocchi at Sam's Club recently (made by Colavita) and thought I would give it a try. It's obviously not as good as homemade or what you'll find in a good Italian restaurant, but it was still good, very convenient, and I will probably buy it again in the future.

The recipe I found includes instructions on how to make your own gnocchi from scratch, but I just used the sauce recipe since I already had the pre-made gnocchi on hand. I've included the recipe for the gnocchi as well, in case anyone would like to try it.

Gnocchi Pomodoro

Pomodoro Sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (I used 2 tbsp)
Salt and pepper
Crushed chile flakes
6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (I used about 12 - I love fresh basil!)
1/2 cup cream

6 large baking potatoes, like russets
2 egg yolks
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper
Fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups flour

Grated Parmesan, to serve

To make the Sauce: Take the tomatoes out of the can, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and reserve the juice. In a saucepan, add olive oil and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and chili and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. If necessary, add the reserved juice. Add the basil. Finish with cream.

To make the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Bake the potatoes for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Scoop each potato out of its skin into mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes to a fine consistency.

In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, melted butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes and mix together. Add flour to mixture, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth.

Scoop out and make finger sized rolls on floured board. Cut with knife into bite sized pieces. Roll each piece over the back of a fork to make a round form. In a pan, freeze until hard enough to handle, and put into portion sized bags.

Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt and boil. Drop gnocchi into boiling water 3 or 4 at a time so the water doesn't stop boiling. The gnocchi is ready when it floats to the top. Drain gnocchi and scoop out into bowl and add sauce. Add fresh Parmesan and serve.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

I was originally inspired to make this cake by Kayte, who made this other apple cake recipe. She chose not to make the one below due to the amount of butter in the recipe. I chose to make it due to the amount of butter in the recipe -- I figured it had to taste good with that much butter in it! ;)

This is definitely a cake that I will be making again. It is so moist and the apple to cake ratio is perfect -- lots of apples and not too much cake! The caramel glaze complements the cake well too.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
from Real Simple

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the dish
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the dish
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (I omitted these)
2 1/4 vanilla extract (I assumed this was teaspoons)
Caramel Glaze, recipe below (optional)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Heat oven to 325° F.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and the granulated and brown sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. The batter should be very thick. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla. Scrape the batter into a buttered and floured 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes (it took 65 minutes in my oven). Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes while you make the Caramel Glaze, if using.

With a spatula, loosen the sides of the cake. If you want to remove it from the pan, invert it onto a baking sheet, then invert it again, right-side up, onto a platter. With a toothpick or fork, poke holes all over the surface. Pour on the warm sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream, if desired.

Tip: This rich, moist cake travels exceptionally well in its baking pan.

Caramel Glaze

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the granulated and brown sugars and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Yield: Makes 16 servings

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Pancakes

Ever since I discovered my love for goat cheese, I have been looking for different ways to use it in my cooking. I have a huge log of it in my refrigerator now, so I need find ways to use it up! As a side note - it was three times more expensive at my local grocery store (Albertsons) than it was at Sam's Club. Granted, it was 1 lb vs. 5 ounces so part of that was due to the bulk discount... but I would much rather pay $5.50 for 1 lb and not use it all than $5 for 5 ounces.

When I want to find a goat cheese recipe, I visit's Elly's blog :) I don't know anyone else who loves goat cheese more than Elly! That's where I found this recipe for goat cheese stuffed zucchini pancakes. I have to admit that we were in such a rush to eat, that I forgot to top these with the tomato sauce, so you won't see any photographs of these with the sauce...

Even without the tomato sauce, I thought this recipe was wonderful. We have a hard time incorporating vegetables into our diet so the use of zucchini in this dish was a welcome change... at least for me :) My husband who does not like goat cheese did not care for these very much. I thought that since he liked the chicken stuffed with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes, that he might reconsider his dislike for goat cheese but alas, he did not. So now I'm on a mission to find other recipes with goat cheese (besides the stuffed chicken recipe) that he might like as well, because I don't want goat cheese to be one of those things that I can only eat when he is out of town!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Pancakes with Tomato Sauce

from Emeril on

1 pound small zucchini, grated and squeezed dry in a towel
1/4 cup grated yellow onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (5-ounce) log goat cheese, very thinly sliced (the goat cheese we have is soft, so I just added a dollop of goat cheese to each pancake)
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, onions, basil, zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the eggs and flour mixture to the vegetables and stir just until combined.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. When hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the batter by tablespoons into the skillet (making sure to spoon both batter and vegetables), leaving 1-inch between the cakes. Immediately drop a round of cheese into the center of each pancake. Top with another tablespoon of batter to enclose the cheese. Cook until golden brown on the bottom side, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook on the 2nd side until golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet. Keep warm in the oven while preparing the remaining pancakes.

Arrange the pancakes on a platter, drizzle with the tomato sauce, and serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup chicken stock

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onions, carrots, salt, and black pepper and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, and cayenne, and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree in a food processor or blender. Serve immediately over the Stuffed Zucchini Pancakes, or store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting

A big thanks to Sara (nestie TheMRS0127) for sharing this pumpkin recipe! It's a fairly dense cake, but nice and moist. My husband said it would be better if it was lighter and fluffier, but I think it's great as is :)

What piqued my interest in this recipe was actually the frosting; I had never heard of a honey frosting before. Let me just say that it is sooooo good! There is just a hint of cream cheese, but the honey flavor really does come through. I don't frost my cakes too heavily, so I ended up with about 1/2 cup of leftover frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting
from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
One (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin puree

Honey Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Spread top of cooled cake with Honey Frosting. Cut cake into squares to serve.

Honey Frosting

Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup honey

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients until smooth.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chicken Tikka Masala with Garlic Naan

This is my absolute favorite Indian dish. It is a grilled chicken in a tomato cream sauce. I've made this recipe several times, with various modifications... until I finally perfected it! :) All of my modifications have been noted below. The major changes I made include doubling the sauce, and adding garam masala to the list of spices. If you are trying to cut back on calories, you can substitute all of the cream for fat free evaporated milk and you can't really tell the difference :) Be warned that this is a very spicy dish, and if you don't tolerate spicy food very well, you may want to omit or decrease the amount of cayenne/jalapeno.

My second favorite thing at an Indian restaurant is the naan. Naan is a round flatbread that is great for scooping up your food, and I love to use it to soak up all the yummy sauce from the dish :) Having recently overcome my fear of working with yeast, I did not let this naan recipe scare me off! It was a decent amount of work, but so worth it! I saw several reviewers indicate that they halved the recipe but I did not for two reasons: (1) it's hard to halve an egg! and (2) I figured I could do all the work just once, and then freeze the leftovers.

We do not have a grill, so I made my naan on the stove with my sauté pan. Based on some of the reviews, I also added 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the dry ingredients. I also did not add the garlic to the dough, but rather sautéed it in the melted butter. The garlic flavor gets infused into the butter and gives the naan a nice garlic flavor, but it isn't as garlicky as some of the garlic naan I have had in restaurants.

This is typically served with basmati rice, but since we didn't have any on hand, I just served it with jasmine rice. Now that I have learned how to make the naan, I love that we no longer have to go out in order for me to have my favorite Indian meal! :)

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 cup yogurt (I used plain vanilla yogurt)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (decrease this if you don't have a high tolerance for spicy food)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 teaspoons salt, or to taste (1 tsp is plenty)
1 teaspon garam masala
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers

1 tablespoon butter (I use 2 tbsp)
1 clove garlic, minced (I use 4 cloves garlic)
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (I use 1 tbsp garlic chili paste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste (I use 1 tsp)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (I use 2 cans)
1 cup heavy cream (I use a 12oz can fat free evaporated milk + 1/4 cup cream; or 2 cups fat free evaporated milk)
1 tomato, chopped, or 1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine marinade ingredients: yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt (I also add garam masala). Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I normally allow it to marinate at least a few hours, or overnight.)

Preheat a grill for high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. (Instead of skewers, I simply grill the chicken on my George Foreman grill.)

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with cumin, paprika, garam masala and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream (I also add the chopped/diced tomatoes here). Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Garlic Naan

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk (for more authentic flavor, use 3 tbsp vanilla yogurt instead)
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (I also added a pinch of sugar). Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, baking soda, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. (I added the listed ingredients and 2-1/2 cups flour into my KitchenAid mixer, mixed on medium speed using the flat beater, then switched to the dough hook and added 1/2 cup of flour until the dough was smooth and did not stick to the edges of the bowl any longer. Today, that happened to be a total of 4-1/2 cups as directed by the recipe.) Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume. (I heated my oven to 150F, turned it off, and then let the dough rise in the warmed oven.)
Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. (I did not add the garlic here) Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.

At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.
For one less piece of cookware to wash in the end, melt butter in the sauté pan you will be cooking the naan in. Sauté garlic over medium heat until golden. Strain the garlic and save the garlic infused butter to brush over the naan. (If you do not strain the garlic, it will burn on the naan while cooking.)
Alternate method: Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat (it should still be lightly buttered from the garlic sauté). I did not watch the time during this process but found that by the time I had rolled one of the balls out into a thin circle and added it to the pan, it was time to flip the first piece. So here's what I basically did: roll out dough ball #1, place in pan and close lid. Roll out dough ball #2; open lid, brush #1 with butter and flip; add #2 to the pan, and replace the lid. (No need to brush the cooked side of #1 with butter after flipping as the recipe indicates.) Roll out dough ball #3; open lid, remove #1 onto your serving dish; brush #2 with butter and flip; add #3 to the pan and close lid. Repeat this process until done.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Toffee-Topped Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I love pineapple upside-down cake. I also love anything that has caramel or toffee in it. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it :) The toffee topping adds great flavor to this traditional cake.

I don't have the 2-cup baking dishes, so I just make one big cake instead, using a 9x9" pan. Sometimes I will just omit the maraschino cherries (but still use the pineapple rings), other times I just use a can of crushed pineapple instead.

What I love about this cake is that it always comes out super moist. The rum adds a nice subtle flavor to it as well.

Toffee-Topped Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
from Hershey's Favorite Brand Name Recipes

1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup Heath Bits 'o Brickle or Skor English Toffee Bits
4 pineapple rings (I used one 20 oz can of crushed pineapple)
4 maraschino cherries (I omitted these)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp rum or 1 tsp rum extract (I recommend Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum)
1 egg
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 350F. Lightly coat inside of 4 individual 2-cup baking dishes with vegetable oil spray.

Stir together 1 tbsp corn syrup and 1 tbsp melted butter in each of 4 baking dishes. Sprinkle each with 1 tbsp toffee. Center pineapple rings on toffee and place cherries in centers.

Beat softened butter and sugar in small bowl until blended. Add rum and egg, beating well. Stir together flour and baking powder; add alternately with milk to rum mixture, beating until smooth. Spoon about 3/4 cup batter into each prepared dish.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Immediately invert onto serving dish. Refrigerate leftovers.