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(and recipes updated whenever I get a chance)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recipe: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake (Vegan)

I know this picture doesn't make it look like the most appetizing thing in the world, but if you look at it knowing that it's a "molten" style cake, I think it looks a lot more appealing. I don't really like chocolate, but I even thought this cake was pretty delicious. It's from a vegan cookbook called "More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts" by Fran Costigan. This is only the second recipe I've tried from this cookbook, so I don't yet feel I could recommend it (or not), but the other recipe I tried was a little strange. Edible, and sort of good, but just a little... off. Anyway, here's this one (that was very, very good).

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake:

1 cup cake flour (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour. I just used 1 cup cake flour - because I was too lazy - and because who wants whole wheat in their delicious cake?!)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup soy or rice milk alternative
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.

Oil a 2 - 2 1/2 quart baking dish that is at least 3" deep (a classic oval corningware dish worked great for me. Also, I have never "oiled" a baking dish before - I always butter/flour - so I wasn't overly sure on this one. I used canola oil, since it's also used in the recipe - and just made sure to coat all the sides. It's easy to soak up the excess oil afterwards with a paper towel, much like oiling a dutch oven before using.)

In a large bowl, strain together the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup of the cocoa, the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt (I actually didn't strain them, because I was feeling very lazy. I added them and used a whisk to combine them and mix evenly. It seems to have worked out just fine).

In a separate small bowl, combine the oil, milk alternative, and vanilla with a whisk until well mixed. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth (I just continued to use the same whisk).

Pour the batter into the oiled pan (make sure there isn't any excess oil in the bottom of the pan). In a separate small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the batter. Then (seriously) pour the boiling water over the top of the whole thing. It kind of mixed around into it when I poured it on (it won't just stay on top), but that's fine.

Bake for 25 minutes. You can't really test if the cake is done, as it will "look" set, but will still be really loose. The original instructions say the sauce should bubble up through the top, but that didn't happen with mine. I gauged doneness by the edges - when they looked finished but not burnt, I took it out. Let it set for 15 minutes in the pan before serving.

The top of the cake is the actual cake part - and it kind of hovers over the liquid "sauce" underneath it. Serve pieces of the cake on plates, and then pour several spoonfuls of the sauce over the top of the cake. I found that letting it soak a bit in the sauce made it even better.

Super easy cake, and super good! The original recipe says it serves 6-10. I guess we're much more gluttonous consumers - I'd say 6-8 servings, tops (because, really, if you're going to eat delicious chocolate cake, who can possible be satisfied with a small portion?).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recipe: Dinner Rolls (Bread Machine)

I'm not a big "dinner roll" fan. I would always prefer biscuits to classic dinner rolls. Until I met these. I could eat these, plain, for every single meal for the rest of my life. I love these so much. Tons of melted butter on the top makes them deliciously-fattening. I've also tried these with dairy-free substitutions, and they turned out great. Thankfully.

This is a bread machine recipe (dough cycle only). If you don't have a bread machine, but you still really want to try these, let me know and I'll write out a hand-kneaded conversion recipe, too (but if no one needs it, I'm not going to waste my time with it). :)

Dinner Rolls:

Makes 16 (delicious) rolls
Estimated Total Time: around 2.5 hours (but they can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours - which will increase the total (active - not counting the refrigerated time) time to around 3.5-4 hours)

1 cup warm (100 -110 degree) water
2 Tbsp margarine, butter, or dairy-free butter-like spread, at room-temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp bread machine or quick active dry yeast, at room temperature
2-3 Tbsp melted margarine, butter, or dairy-free butter-like spread (don't melt it until dinner rolls have only 1 minute left of baking time)

Place all ingredients in the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually: water, egg, sugar, salt, margarine, flour, and then make a small "bowl" in the top of the flour to hold the yeast).

Use the "dough" cycle on the bread machine. Do not use a delay cycle.

When dough is finished (mine takes 1.5 hours in the machine), remove dough from the pan with floured hands, place it on a lightly floured surface, and cover it with a damp (with warm water) towel for 10 minutes.

Grease a large cookie sheet (I use crisco to grease it, but a spray grease, like PAM, also works, I believe). Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces (tear it in halves repeatedly until you end up with 16 equal pieces). Shape each piece into a ball (I've found you can get the prettiest rolls if you wrap the ends all under and pinch them on the bottom, then place the roll down so the pinched side is on the bottom and the top is smooth and pretty - they will bake and look exactly like how they do when you put them in the oven - they don't smooth out on their own). Place the balls around 1-2 inches apart on the greased cookie sheet (I usually put them about an inch from each other - so when they rise/bake, they bake into each other. This gives them softer sides. If you'd prefer them to have a "crust" on all sides (not just the top), place them 2" apart).

At this point, you can cover the rolls (on the cookie sheet) with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to 48 hours. When you're ready to use them, take them out of the fridge and let them rise in a warm place (covered) for 2 hours before baking. If you want them right away(ish), skip this step and continue:

Cover with the damp towel and let them rise in a warm place for 30 -40 minutes, or until an indentation remains when touched (I always put them on top of the dryer and turn it on - this also motivates me to actually remember to do laundry some days).

Preheat oven to 375. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. When they have 1 minute left of baking time, melt the 2-3 Tbsp of butter/margarine/butter substitute (depending on how much butter you like - I like a lot) in the microwave. As soon as you take the rolls out of the oven, brush the tops with the melted butter (use all of it - I usually go over them each about twice, making sure to get all the sides). Serve warm.

These are so buttery and delicious, they don't need any more butter spread in the middle, I've found. They also work great as sandwich buns for leftovers. Or just to eat plain when you want a snack.

Recipe: Fiesta Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

This recipe is a Betty Crocker one, with very slight alterations on my part, and in my words. It was delicious!! Husband really liked it, giving it the highest of compliments by stating, "even my burps taste like I just at on the Riverwalk [in San Antonio.]" Can't get much better than that!!

Tomato-Avocado Salsa:

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
4 medium green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 seeded, finely chopped jalapenos
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt (or a little more - I added more to mine on my plate, but Husband thought it was fine. I'm a bit of a saltaholic, though...)

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until dinner time (at least 1 hour - try to avoid eating it all on tortilla chips beforehand - it's definitely good enough to eat plain!).


2-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Place chicken in a medium-sized bowl. Mix together lime juice, vegetable oil, ground cumin, and salt in a small bowl, and pour over chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour (I'm not sure if you could marinate them overnight, or longer than an hour, but I imagine you could without much problem - just be sure to flip them every now and then to marinate evenly - but they were plenty flavorful marinating for just an hour; I'd be concerned they'd get too strongly flavored if you marinated them much longer).

Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken skin-side up in a shallow glass baking dish in a single layer. Pour left-over marinade (from the bowl they were just in) over top. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes, occasionally spooning the marinade over the tops until the chicken is thoroughly cooked (I probably checked/spooned the marinade over every 5-8 minutes or so - I also baked them for closer to 30 minute uncovered to try and get a crisper skin).

Tortilla Strips:

4 flour tortillas (8")
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil

While chicken is baking, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Cut the flour tortillas into 1/2" strips (I cut them in strips long-ways, then cut across the middle to make about 16 small strips per tortilla) and then put them in the hot oil. Stirring frequently, cook them over medium-high heat for around 5-10 minutes, until they are crisp and golden brown. Keep a close eye on them - they can burn easily. I turned the heat down to medium for the last couple minutes, because they weren't crisp enough yet, but I didn't want to burn them. Also, we love tortilla chips, and this was enough for just two of us - I'd definitely make a lot more if we had more adults eating (at least 8 tortillas).

Betty suggests serving them together (like salsa on the chicken and tortilla strips on the side), which was good, but they would also make excellent "fajitas" if you sliced the chicken and used it with the salsa on regular flour tortillas (omitting the tortilla strip part of this recipe). We're certainly going to eat it like that for all the leftovers!!

Serves: 2-4 (depending on how much chicken you make - you can use the same amount of marinade regardless)
Estimated Total Time: 2.5 hours