Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chocolate Cake

¾ c. butter, softened
3 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. milk

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of two 8x8x2-inch square or 9x1½-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour bottoms and sides of pans. Or, grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3-4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Make sure you keep scraping the bottom of the bowl. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan(s).

5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13x9x2-inch pan, 30-35 minutes for 9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off waxed paper. Cool thoroughly on racks.

Frosting: Chocolate Deluxe Icing
2 c. sifted confectioners sugar
¼ t. salt
1 large egg
1/3 c. soft shortening
2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate, melted (microwaved for 30-60 seconds)

Beat ingredients together until fluffy.

Notes: This was so yummy. Very moist. Because I have dark non-shiny pans I decreased the oven temp to 325 and I think that helped.

Source: Cake - Better Homes and Gardens, Frosting - OFR.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Peach Cobbler

3 lbs. (about 7) medium fresh or frozen peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4 " slices
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. pure lemon extract
1/2 t. cinnamon, plus a little more for the top of the crust
1/2 t. nutmeg (or a little more according to your taste)
4 T. butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 box refrigerated pie crusts

Rinse peaches, peel and slice.

Mix lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon extract in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Place peeled and chopped peaches in a large bowl and toss with first the juice mixture, and then the dry ingredients.

Fold in butter. Let stand for a few minutes to let the flavors seep into the peaches.

Spoon half the peach mixture into a lightly buttered rectangular baking dish or cake pan.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the crusts so that it is more or less rectangular.

Place the crust over the peaches in the cake pan. Top with the remaining peaches. Roll out the other crust into a rectangle and place over the second layer of peaches, trimming where necessary. Cut a few slits into the top of the dough. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the top is golden brown. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cinnamon. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Notes: You can the juice from a can of peaches if you like it juicier. This is a really easy and tasty dessert. The one bad thing is that it takes for ever to peel and pit the peaches. Plus, I wasn't sure if you're supposed to cut out the red core part that surrounds the pit, so I did just in case and that really added to the time thing. But, it's totally worth it. This stuff is SO YUM.

Source: Micki in my office.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mexican Beans & Rice

1 can of black beans (cooked)
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 T olive oil
1 large onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 T ground coriander
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 c. shredded monteray jack cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
2 med. tomatoes, sliced

Cook rice as directed on package. Drain and rinse the beans. Transfer them to the pot holding the rice and mix well, being careful not to mash the beans.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Saute the onion, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, salt and ground pepper until the vegetables are tender. Add the cheeses, stir to combine.

In a 3 quart casserole, make a layer with one third of the beans and rice mixture and on top of that make another layer of one half the vegetable and cheese mixture. Repeat the layers ending with the beans and rice. Arrange the tomato slices over the top and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes: This works as a meatless main, or as a side dish, or as something to bring to a potluck with a bag of chips. The flavors are excellent and people seem to love it.

Source: Coyle Family

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Measuring Shot Glass

This is my new favorite kitchen gadget. You can't really tell by the picture, but this little shot glass is marked down the sides with all manner of measuring mechanisms. It's does ounces, milliliters, teaspoons and tablespoons just to start.

It's indispensable when you're making a salad dressing that you've halved from something else and you need three teaspoons of something. Rather than measuring out three teaspoons of whatever with the regular spoon, you just pour right into the shot glass as if it were a regular measuring cup and stop when you hit three teaspoons.

I got mine at Reading Terminal Station in Philly last week and have used it three times since then. The best part? I paid about five bucks for mine, but online they're available for $2.99. Can you beat it? I didn't think so.

Source: Zaccardi's

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zucchini With Herbs

1 ½ lbs zucchini
¼ c. olive oil
pepper, freshly ground
1-2 T. butter
8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. parsley, chopped
1 T. chives, chopped
1 T. fresh basil, finely chopped

Cut the zucchini into 1/8-inch slices. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. When hot, add the zucchini. Cook, stirring gently, for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain off oil. Add butter, then garlic and herbs. Cook until butter melts. Yield: six servings.

Notes: This is for those of you who are experiencing bumper crops of zucchini. I haven’t tried it yet, but Helen in my office says this is the bomb.

Source: Helen in my office.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Creamsicle Martini

Anything but childish.

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Triple sec
1 oz. Orange juice
1 oz. Heavy cream

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice and shake. Strain into your Swank Martini Glass and garnish.

Notes: This is my new favorite drink, especially for summer. It's refreshing, with just a hint of my childhood lurking at the bottom of the glass. I have to confess that I haven't actually made one yet, but I'm getting awfully good at ordering them.

Source: Swank Martinis