Monday, November 30, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - Cinnamon Apple Cream Cheese Cake

It's the 5th Monday and it's time for Secret Recipe Club. I know that's a weird one, but they've started doing something new with months that have five Mondays. Now it's a special (optional) theme reveal week that matches you with anyone from the other groups. This month's theme was holiday treats since Christmas and Thanksgiving are coming up so quickly. I rarely make sweets for secret recipe club (in spite of my blog name that rarely applies anymore) so this was a great chance to try something new.

As many of you already know, Secret Recipe Club is a collection of bloggers who make another person's recipe and all post on the same day. It gives you a great chance to know some other bloggers, find some new recipes and rediscover some of your older recipes from long ago. I usually get embarrassed by how much better their photos are than my photos, but that's okay too.

This week, I had Heather's blog "Join Us Pull Up a Chair". That's cool. I've had this blog before and I made some super fabulous Salmon Cakes and Pumpkin Beer Bread. I remembered she had a ton of recipes for muffins and other sweets, so I couldn't wait to find something to fit this challenge. I knew I wanted to make something with apples because I still have so many of them from our CSA box. Seriously, so many apples. I opted to make her Cinnamon Apple Cake which sounded so interesting with the addition of cream cheese. And it called for 6 cup of apples. That was really the selling point for me.

Heather originally made this cake with 3 cups of apples and said she would increase it to 6 next time. I made it with six and though it was delicious, it never set properly with a nice crumb like a cake. It was still set, not runny, but closer to a British sticky toffee pudding or something of that nature. The extra apples just imparted too much moisture. It was still delicious, but not what I expected. My husband really liked it this way and it was absolutely perfect with a little vanilla ice cream on warm cake.

Thanks for this great recipe Heather. It might not be what we originally expected, but it was still something delicious.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar + 2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups chopped peeled apples
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter, cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon and stir until just mixed.
  4. Fold in chopped applies into the batter and pour into prepared pan. Mix together remaining cinnamon and 2 Tbsp sugar and sprinkle on top of cake.
  5. Bake cake for 1 1/2 hours until set. A toothpick inserted will never be quite clean, but mostly done. Let cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sourdough Surprises: Sourdough Doughnuts

A few years ago, I started participating in something called "Sourdough Surprises". It was a little group of bloggers who tried to do interesting things with their sourdough starter. It was a fun experiment, but there wasn't any commitment. You could participate when you wanted to in the month's that interested you. If it didn't work out in your schedule, that was ok too.

When I'm not held to strict rules, I'm not very good at following through with things. I only participated in a few projects and this month, I found out that Sourdough surprises is ending in December 2015. I knew I had to do these last two months, revive my starter and make something new.

This month, Sourdough surprises had the them of doughnuts. I love doughnuts (who doesn't?) I should clarify, I love doughnut from independent doughnut shops like I had in my neighborhood when I grew up. They were the kind of places that had the best apple fritters. My dad still goes to one where they know he comes on Thursdays and he doesn't like glazed filled doughnuts, so they'll make a half dozen lemon filled doughnuts with powdered sugar just for him. It wasn't any of this Krispy Kreme/Dunkin Doughnuts nonsense. It's real people making real food and that's how I love it.

I like apple fritters, but those were always my mother's favorite. My favorite were always the buttermilk cake doughnuts with maple glaze.  These aren't quite like that, but they combine the best aspects of cake doughnuts and yeasted doughnuts. I did some with powdered sugar and some with cinnamon sugar, but the cinnamon sugar ones were far superior. This recipe was from Under the High Chair and it is fantastic.

Note: the holes are star shaped because I don't have any small round cutters :-)

  • 1/2 cup mature sourdough starter\
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour (more if needed to make it workable)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  1. Mix together all ingredients and knead the dough 3 times on a well floured surface. It should still be slightly sticky but hold together
  2. Roll dough to 1/2-3/4 inch thickness and cut with a dough cutter
  3. Fry in 360 degree oil until well browned. Break open one doughnut to check that it's done.
  4. Toss with cinnamon sugar or desired topping and eat while hot.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bacalhau a Gome de Sa

When I was growing up, we would spend every Saturday with my mother's side of the family. That was what we did. There was no debating or choosing to go elsewhere (at least, not until I got older). Every Saturday we would go over to my Grandparents where my cousins and my Mom's sisters would be. There wasn't anything special about it... I would pay in the front yard or pick berries in the back yard and we would later have a simple supper of kale/sausage/potatoes or braised beef or marinated pork with taro root. Anytime you wanted a snack, you had to open at least a half dozen containers of Country Crock to find out which on actually had butter in it (since all the others had some form of leftovers in them.)
We wouldn't have salt cod often since it's a little expensive and there were always a lot of us. They would make double the recipe I'm giving you today (and my recipe is easily enough for 6 people. At $12 per pound (or so) salt cod isn't cheap. You won't be able to find it in your regular grocery store, but you might find it at a specialty grocery store or a European food market, if you have one in your neighborhood.
I got my salt cod at a Special Spanish/Brazilian/Portuguese food mart. I even got some of my favorite soda when I was growing up. Sumol is a passionfruit soda and it is fantastic!
Note: This recipe traditionally uses olives as well. I hate olives so I omit, but you can use them if you wish.
  • 1 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 6 baking or new potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 9 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • good quality olive oil.
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak salt cod in the refrigerator overnight, changing the water twice
  2. The next day, hard boil the eggs.
  3. In liberally salted water, boil the potatoes until almost tender. Add cod to the water and boil for 5 more minutes until fish can flake apart with your fingers
  4. Drain water. Flake part fish, peel and dice potatoes, and peel and slice eggs. Layer the ingredients in a baking dish, starting with half the potatoes, half the fish and half the eggs. Repeat.
  5. Sautee onion with cumin and paprika in a decent amount of good olive oil. Add parsley and salt if needed.
  6. Pour onion mixture over the casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pad Thai


I never used to like Pad Thai when I got it at Thai restaurant. It was always too oily and at the same time, not flavorful.

I tried making my own pad thai recently and it was like a different world. I would still rather have the spicy pad kee mao (drunken noodles) but these are great and easy for a quick weeknight meal. I also added julienned carrots to this during the garlic stage, just because.

  • 1/2 pack of rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup extra firm tofu, juilienned
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 1/2 cups scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces (Chinese chives are better, but scallions are fine)
  • 2 shallots, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp tamarind
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried red chilies (can use fresh birds eye chilies if you want something spicier)
  • cilantro and peanuts for garnish
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  1. Soak noodles in warm water until flexible.
  2. Add shallots, garlic, chili to a hot wok with oil. Fry slightly until fragrant with tofu and shrimp.
  3. Drain noodles and add fish sauce, tamarind and sugar. Stir to prevent sticking until noodles are soft and cooked through.
  4. Make a well in the center of the wok and add 1 egg. Scramble slightly and stir in bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup

It's the third Monday of the month. That means it's time for Secret Recipe Club. As most of you already know, SRC is a group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal it on a given day. It allows you to discover some new bloggers, get some great recipes and rediscover some of your older recipes as well.

This month, I had the blog Rainstorms and Love Notes by an amazing blogger, Ashley.  She lives in North Carolina and she's married to a great man named TJ (at least, he sounds great based on their amazing love story chronicled on her blog).  Read it sometime, because it is way more adorable than how I met my husband.

I feel like I already know Ashley so well at this point. She has some great posts introducing readers to her life. She has a great post of 2013, written on her five year anniversary of living in North Carolina. I read it and smiled, thinking of my last 4 years and change living in Virginia and just how much my life has changed in that time. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time (reason for moving from California all the way to Virginia) we got a cat, we got married, I changed careers, I developed a love for college football, we made friends, I experienced seasons for the first time... It's funny how much can change in such a short amount of time.

Now it's November. The weather is getting cold and I must admit we haven't been eating the healthiest food over the last month. When it starts getting cold, pastas and heavy soups and roasts with gravy sound fantastic and comforting. At the same time, they also make you feel bloated and gross (when it gets dark at 5pm, I certainly doing want to go to the gym after work).

Ashley had a bunch of wonderful recipes and fantastic pictures to go with everything, but I knew I wanted something lighter. When I saw her Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup, I knew it was something I absolutely wanted to make for dinner. It was light yet very flavorful. I didn't change too much, just added some extra vegetables. When I normally make chicken soup, it's an all day thing (I start with a whole chicken to cook and make the broth from that. This one has chicken breasts and was a delicious weeknight chicken noodle soup

Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe Ashley. So glad I got to explore your blog!

Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 oz pasta (1 used tri colored bowtie)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth, depending on how soupy you desire
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped mint
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • bay leaf
  1. Place chicken both in a pot with the two chicken breasts. Turn heat to low and slowly poach the chicken, not even allowing the broth to simmer.
  2. When cooked, remove chicken from the broth and shred with your fingers. Pour broth through a cheesecloth (or coffee filter to strain out to protein impurities and clarify.)
  3. In a separate pot, boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a little water so it doesn't stick, and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, lightly sautee the onion, celery and carrot in a little butter, just to preserve the color. Add broth, chicken and seasoning to the soup and simmer until veggies are lightly tender. Add pasta, lemon and mint. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Masala Chai Tea

Chai tea was one of these things I used to always order at restaurants because I thought it was too difficult to make at home. I actually made a half gallon of chai recently and it was absolutely fantastic. It's super easy to have it hot one day and drink it chilled the other days. Now that I've tried homemade chai, I know I can do it more often at home.
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1/4 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 4 black tea bags
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • honey to taste
  1. Combine spices and water in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes more
  2. Bring water back to boil and then off. Add tea bags and let steep for 5 minute minutes.
  3. Strain out spices and tea. Add milk and honey to taste.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I never grew up eating the kind of food that interests me so much now. My nanny would make goulash from time to time, but Eastern European food was not something we ate regularly. As I've gotten older, I've developed an interest in so many different types of foods. Sometimes my cooking experiments work and sometimes they don't, but this was a delicious one. Plus, it's getting to be winter and this is a perfect cold weather food.
I tried to find a good recipe for stuffed cabbage and I think I found a pretty decent one. I based my recipe on this one which was the perfect balance of savory and sweet. It had the word "Grandma" in the post title. How can you really go wrong with something like that?
  • 1 head green or savory cabbage
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp toasted fennel seed
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 15oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  1. Core the whole head of cabbage and drop into a large pot of boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes until leaves are pliable. Remove leaves from the cabbage and place in ice water. Continue boiling the cabbage head if necessary.
  2. Mix together beef, egg, 1/2 onion, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel, crushed red pepper and rice in a large bowl. This is your filling.
  3. Set aside the largest leaves (about a dozen or so) and remove the hard core with a knife. Place a small amount of filling in the center of the leaves and roll them up, placing them seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat until all filling is used. Chop 1 cup of remaining smaller leaves.
  4. In a separate pan, sautee 1 onion and 1 clove of garlic in olive oil. Add chopped cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and raisins, simmering for 5 minutes.
  5. Spoon sauce into the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place cabbage rolls on the sauce and top with remaining sauce. Cover the whole pan with foil and cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees. Serve with mashed potatoes.

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