Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crockpot Hot Fudge Cake

WARNING - this cake has lots of sugar in it, it is extremely rich, the fudge sauce is super thick and creamy, it is very chocolaty and when eaten warm with vanilla ice cream, it is VERY VERY ADDICTING.  I couldn't wait any longer to post this cake, because it was DIVINE, to say the least.  This cake is any chocolate lovers dream or dessert lovers dream.  

You have got to make this cake.  If you think it has too much sugar for a weekday snack, save it for the weekend and devour every last warm, ooey, gooey bit of it.  I found this yummy recipe in my new cookbook!  I went to Costco the other day to pick up a copy of a "healthy" cookbook that they had, because I wanted to try eating a little healthier, but to make a long story short, I didn't leave with the "healthy" cookbook, but instead left with this home cooking cookbook and made this hot fudge cake.  Oh yeah, it was so worth it!    

**Update - I was craving this cake, but didn't want to wait 2 hours for it to cook in the crockpot, so I cut the recipe in half and baked it in the oven.  It turned out perfect!! So, it works when you cut it in half and it works in the oven.  I baked it for around 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Crockpot Hot Fudge Cake
adapted from: Big Book of Home Cooking   

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed and divided
1/4 c. plus 3 Tbl. baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 Tbl. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. hot water
vanilla ice cream

Combine flour, one cup brown sugar, 3 Tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk in milk, butter and vanilla.  Spread evenly in a 3 1/2-quart crockpot.  Mix together remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle evenly over top of batter.  Pour in hot water; DO NOT STIR.  Cover and cook on high setting for 2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted one-inch deep comes out clean.  Spoon warm cake into bowls; top with vanilla ice cream.  Serves 4-6.  

 **Update - I have had several people comment that they did not like this cake.  That just goes to show that everyone has different tastes.  I personally really like this recipe and I have made it several times.  I always serve it warm with ice cream on top.  You must serve this with ice cream.  The cake part does NOT taste like regular cake.  If that is what you are wanting, then do not make this.  Instead it is dense and has more of a gooey texture.**  
Jenn's Notes:  When it says do not stir - DO NOT STIR.  It will mess things up - trust me I have tried it before.  Something magic happens when this cooks.  The cake part rises to the top and the water sinks to the bottom forming this amazing thick and creamy fudge sauce.  I used a 2-quart crockpot and it was full to the top, but it worked.  It was perfect at 2 hours.  I served mine with low-fat vanilla ice cream, but you could try any flavor - mint chocolate chip, peppermint, pumpkin, coffee, vanilla bean or anything else that works with chocolate.  I really loved this cake!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easy Cinnamon and Sugar Rolls with Vanilla Icing

I would normally make these rolls with frozen Rhodes roll dough, but when I pulled the dough out of the freezer yesterday, I noticed it had expired back in April (shows how much I use frozen dough)! I already had my heart set on some cinnamon and sugar rolls, so I decided I would try the same technique using these 30 Minute Rolls that I love so much.  They turned out very yummy! They have a different texture than the Rhodes rolls, but they were still delicious and they came together in no time.  I made half of the rolls plain to serve with dinner and the other half these cinnamon and sugar ones for dessert! 
Cinnamon and Sugar Rolls
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner

12 frozen Rhodes rolls or 1 batch of 30 Minute Rolls
3 Tbl. melted butter
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tbl. cinnamon

2 Tbl. melted butter
1 c. powdered sugar
a little milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

If using Rhodes frozen dough:  Take frozen rolls and dip tops in melted butter and then in cinnamon and sugar mixture, place sugar side up in 9x13 pan.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Spray a piece of saran wrap with cooking spray and cover rolls.  Allow to rise for about four hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  Drizzle glaze over warm rolls.  

If using 30-Minute Rolls:  Make dough according to recipe instructions.  After rolling into balls, dip the tops into melted butter and then into cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place sugar side up on greased cookie sheet.  Let raise about 15 minutes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until browned.  Remove from oven and drizzle with glaze.     

Glaze:  Whisk together all ingredients until nice and smooth, adding milk until it reaches desired consistency.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sweet and Tangy Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Are you a meat cutter, like me?  I always always have to cut into my meat to see if it is done, especially chicken.  After seeing these pictures, I was at the store yesterday with an instant read thermometer in my hand.  I was ready to buy it and then I thought to myself - Can I really trust this thermometer?  Or would I still end up cutting into the meat to make sure the thermometer is working right?  I have a fear of raw chicken?  I just know that if I was to bite into undercooked chicken, it would ruin chicken for me forever and since I eat so much chicken, it would pretty much take away 80% of my main dishes.  I really try to not overcook my chicken, because dry chicken is pretty bad too, but I definitely don't want undercooked.  Anyway, I didn't end up buying that instant read thermometer, but I think I might go back and get it and give it a try?  Ha Ha!
Sweet and Tangy Oven-Barbecued Chicken
adapted from:  America's Test Kitchen 
(Printable Recipe)

1 c. ketchup
3 Tbl. mild or original molasses (I didn't add)
3 Tbl. cider vinegar
2 Tbl. finely grated onion (using small side of box grater)
2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbl. Dijon mustard
2 Tbl. real maple syrup (I didn't add)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 (5-6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
table salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbl. vegetable oil

1.  Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position, about 5 inches from the heating element and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, onion, Worcestershire, mustard, maple syrup, chili powder and cayenne together in a small bowl; set aside.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  
2.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over high heat.  Add the chicken, smooth side down, and cook until very light golden, 1-2 minutes; using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until very light golden on the second side, 1-2 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
3.  Discard the fat in the skillet; off the heat, and add the sauce mixture and using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Simmer the sauce over medium heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula, until the sauce is thick and glossy and a spatula leaves a clear trail in the sauce, about 4 minutes.  Off the heat, return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat thickly with the sauce; set the chicken pieces smooth side up and spoon extra sauce over each piece to create a thick coating.  
4.  Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the thickest part of the breasts register 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8-12 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the oven, turn the oven to broil and heat for 5 minutes.  Once the broiler is heated, place the skillet back in the oven and broil the chicken until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 to 165 degrees, 3-8 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk the sauce in the skillet to recombine and transfer to a small bowl.  Serve the chicken, passing the extra sauce separately.  Serves: 4

Jenn's Notes:  I cooked two chicken breasts, but I still made the entire sauce recipe, because I like a lot of extra sauce.  I really liked this chicken and I really liked the homemade barbeque sauce, but you could always use your favorite store-bought sauce and cook it the same way.  Be careful while broiling the chicken, it can go from perfect to overcooked in no time.  I served this with my favorite orzo and my favorite Pumpkin Cornbread.    

Friday, September 23, 2011


It has almost been a year since I first tried this pumpkin cornbread.  I figured it deserved a re-post, because afterall - It is the first day of Fall today and what better way to welcome in Fall than with a pumpkin recipe!  I LOVE this cornbread.  I know it sounds really weird, but trust me, it works.  I could really eat the entire pan by myself.  It has the texture of cornbread, but with a slight pumpkin flavor that is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Fall would not be complete without making this bread at least a few times.  
Pumpkin Cornbread
adapted from: Sugar Crafter

1 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. cornmeal
2 eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbl. honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 dish; set aside.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cornmeal.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Stir in the pumpkin, oil and honey.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour batter into baking dish.  Smooth out top.  Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Serve warm with honey.  AMAZING!      

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snickerdoodles with Pumpkin Cream Filling

Every year, I am more and more amazed with the different pumpkin recipes people come up with.  Just when you think you've seen them all, you discover a few new ones.  I found these cookies the other day over at The Stirring Place and made them the very next day.  I had saved a recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodles a month or so ago and had been dying to try them, but then I found this recipe and you all know I am a sucker for any type of frosting/filling, so I decided to make these first!  I had to make some cookies for a party our friends had the other day and I had leftover cream cheese frosting.  So, instead of using Faith's recipe for pumpkin cream cheese, I just spiced up my cream cheese frosting!  
These turned out DELICIOUS!  I think they would be a huge hit with any snickerdoodle or pumpkin lover!  If you're not a cookie sandwich person, you could always serve the pumpkin cream filling as a dip for the snickerdoodles or graham crackers or apples?  Or anything sweet!   
adapted from: The Stirring Place

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon plus 4 tsp. sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and add to creamed mixture.  Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.  Roll into balls about the size of a large marble and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  

Pumpkin Cream Filling:
I used leftover cream cheese frosting that was made from butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla.  I added to that a little brown sugar (not too much, because it is already pretty sweet), a little pumpkin pie spice and a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin.  I tasted and adjusted ingredients until it was delicious!    

Jenn's Notes:  I cut the cookie recipe in half and got 34 medium sized cookies.  I baked mine for 9 minutes.  I left some plain and I made the others into sandwiches.  The ones that I left plain were a little tuff the next day, but the ones with the cream filling were soft and chewy!  The filling must keep them soft.  The pumpkin filling is pretty soft when it is at room temperature and  squooshes out the sides when you take a bite of the sandwich.  If that bothers you, you would probably just want to spread the filling on the top of one cookie or use the filling as a dip.  Either way, snickerdoodles and pumpkin are a perfect pair!   

Monday, September 19, 2011

America's Test Kitchen Tostadas

I think it would be the coolest job to work for America's Test Kitchen.  I would know so much about food and the chemistry behind things.  I had several episodes recorded and watched most of them today.  (Yes, I had a very productive day).  I learned that the secret to a chewy brownie is more unsaturated fat than saturated.  I learned that the best cut of meat for stew is from the chuck and I learned that more than likely the brighter red your paprika is the better quality it is.  

I also re-watched the episode for these tostadas.  I had watched it last week and planned to make them today, but I wanted to watch the episode one more time before I made these.  I didn't even have to read the recipe instructions, because I just did what they did on T.V.!  Chris (the host of the show) said that these tostadas are in the top 5 recipes they have ever done in eleven years of the show!  They did turn out delicious and I will make them again and again.  Next time, I will probably just eat the meat in a regular crunchy taco shell.  I also think they would be good with some fresh, crisp lettuce.  It has great flavor with a nice spiciness from the chili powder.    

**Update (1/28/2012) - I still love this recipe and it is one of our favorites.  I prefer it way better in crunchy taco shells and that is the only way I serve it now.**

Spicy Mexican Shredded Pork Tostadas
adapted from: America's Test Kitchen
(Printable Recipe)

Shredded Pork:
2 Lbs. boneless pork butt roast (I used boneless country ribs)
2 medium onions, 1 quartered and 1 chopped fine
5 medium garlic cloves, 3 peeled and smashed and 2 minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)
table salt
2 Tbl. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 (14.5 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 Tbl. ground chipotle chili powder
2 bay leaves

3/4 c. vegetable oil
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas 
table salt

Queso Fresco or Feta cheese
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
sour cream
diced avocado
fresh salsa
lime wedges

1.  For the shredded pork:  Trim the excess fat from the meat and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Bring the pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic cloves, thyme, 1 tsp. salt and 6 cups of water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook until the pork is tender, 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours.  Drain the pork, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Discard the onion, garlic and thyme.  Return the pork to the saucepan and using a potato masher, mash until shredded; set aside. 

2.  Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the shredded pork, chopped onion and oregano; cook, stirring often, until the pork is well browned and crisp, 7-10 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  

3.  Stir in the tomato sauce, chipotle chili powder, reserved pork cooking liquid and bay leaves; simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaves and season with salt to taste.

4.  To fry the tostadas:  Heat the vegetable oil in an 8-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees.  Using a fork, poke the center of each tortilla three or four times (to help prevent puffing).  Fry, one at a time, holding a metal potato masher in the upright position on top of the tortilla to keep it submerged, until crisp and lightly browned, 45-60 seconds (no flipping necessary).  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

5.  To serve: Spoon some shredded pork onto the center of each tostada and top with desired garnishes.  Serves: 4-6 people.  

Jenn's Notes: I pretty much did exactly what the recipe says, except I only used about 1/2 of the chopped onion.  You know the pork is done, when it shreds easily with only a fork.  ATK says that if you can't find the chipotle chili powder to substitute two minced canned chipotle chiles.      

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so tasty!  I don't know if I would really classify them as "coconut" cupcakes, because they didn't actually taste super coconuty to me?  The only coconut in them is actual shredded coconut.  There is no coconut flavoring, coconut milk or coconut cream?  However, I thought these made an excellent white cupcake!  They might even be the best white cupcake I have had in a while?  I totally understand why they have such good reviews on Food Network and why they are one of Ina's most popular recipes.   For now, I will probably use this recipe as my "go-to" white cupcake recipe - minus the coconut of course!  They have an amazing almond flavor (I LOVE almond extract) and they are light and fluffy!  They are so yummy, that they don't really need that much frosting. 
Ina's Coconut Cupcakes
adapted from: The Barefoot Contessa 
(Printable Recipe)

3/4 Lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 c. sugar
5 extra-large eggs, room temp.
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttemilk
14 oz. sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner to the top with batter.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Remove to a rack and cool completely.  

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Lb. cream cheese, room temp.
3/4 Lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 1/2 Lbs. powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Jenn's Notes: The recipe says it yields 18-20 cupcakes.  I made a half of a batch and I got 14 regular cupcakes and 1 jumbo cupcake?  So, a full batch makes way more than it says.  I baked my regular cupcakes 24-25 minutes and my jumbo cupcake about 34-35 minutes.  Also, I used way less cream cheese and butter in my frosting.  
When I made these coconut cupcakes, I had made some plain ones, so that I could try these fun flower cupcakes from Martha Stewart.  I made them quite awhile ago and never got them posted, but since it is almost Fall, I figured I better get them posted (I know it's a little late, but you can always save them for next year).  You are supposed to use colored jimmies, but I couldn't find separate colors, just a variety of colors and there was no way I was going to go through a tub of them and separate the colors.  So, I just used colored sugar crystal sprinkles, but I do think that the jimmies would have looked a lot cleaner.  I cut the leaves out of a green Air Head.   

If you would like to make these, here are the instructions:
Using an offset spatula, spread buttercream onto cupcakes, smoothing into dome shapes.  Place sprinkles in a small bowl.  Gently press each frosted cupcake into sprinkles, rolling it around so the entire surface is coated.  Insert a lollipop into the center of each cupcake.  Using a paring knife or kitchen shears, cut leaf shapes out of green taffy strips.  Press one leaf into each cupcake next to the lollipop.  Refrigerate 30 minutes to allow frosting to set. (Printable Instructions)  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

This was one of the first "homemade" chicken dishes I learned how to make.  I used to make it all of the time, but I don't make it too often anymore, but when I do, it is usually in the Summer when I have fresh garden tomatoes.  This is extremely easy and it is the perfect weeknight meal served up with some breaded veggies.   
Grilled Bruschetta Chicken
adapted from: Kraft

1 c. Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato dressing, divided
4 small chicken breast halves
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 - 3/4 c. part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil (I use dry)

Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add 3/4 cup sun-dried tomato dressing and marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Then, grill however desired (I just use my George Foreman).  Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup dressing (can use less), diced tomato, shredded cheese and basil.  When chicken is cooked through, place in a casserole dish.  Top with tomato mixture and place in a preheated 350 degree oven until cheese is melted.  If you have extra of the tomato mixture, you could always mix with some cooked rice and serve with the chicken.       

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Roll

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this cake!  I cannot wait to bring this to some Holiday parties this year.  It is sure to be a show-stopper (once I practice making it perfectly round)!  I have always loved red velvet cake, since the first time I tried it.  I have tried so many different red velvet desserts, including Red Velvet BarsRed Velvet CupcakesRed Velvet Cheesecake Cake and Red Velvet Cookies.  I have many many more to try, but I am very happy to check this cake roll off my "to make" list.  However, everyone out there needs to add this to the very top of their "to make" list and make it right now, because you are seriously missing out.  The cake is so tender and the filling is out of this world.  The two combined are "delicious-ness" at its best!  
Red Velvet Cake Roll
adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe    
*Note: don’t be alarmed by the lengthy recipe. This cake is really not difficult to prepare and assemble but the long instructions really help give detail to rolling the cake tightly to avoid cracks. 
For the cake:
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I used Buttermilk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider or white vinegar
8 Tbl. (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbl. liquid red food coloring (1/2 fluid ounce)
For the white chocolate–cream cheese filling:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
5 ounces white chocolate, melted
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
Powdered sugar for dusting

For the cake:  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Coat a small area in the center of a 15 1/2 X 10 1/2-inch pan (jelly-roll pan) with nonstick spray. Line the pan with aluminum foil, pressing the foil into the contours of the pan and leaving a 2-inch overhang at each short end (the spray anchors the foil in place to make buttering easier). Butter the foil, then flour it, tapping out the excess flour.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together the milk, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer), beat the butter on medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and add the granulated sugar in a steady stream.  Continue to beat until light in color and fluffy in texture, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg and mix until combined.  On the lowest speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 of the milk mixture, mixing until combined after each addition.  Again, add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the last half of the milk and the last 1/3 of the flour, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Maintaining the same speed, add the food coloring (be careful of splatters!) and mix well to color the batter evenly.  Without delay, spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula.
Bake the cake until it is set on top and springs back when lightly pressed in the center, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.  If necessary, run a thin knife blade around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the cake sides.  Then pull up on the foil overhang and carefully transfer the cake to a wire rack. Without delay, place a sheet of foil over the cake and manipulate the foil to make a shallow tent (a tent holds in the moisture as the cake cools, but prevents the foil from sticking to the cake).  Let the cake cool for about 45 minutes, then proceed to assemble the dessert.
To make the white chocolate–cream cheese filling:  In a medium bowl (with a handheld or stand mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth.  Pour in half of the melted chocolate and beat until smooth, stopping the mixer occasionally and scraping the down the sides of the bowl.  Pour in the remaining chocolate and beat just until combined.  Add the butter and then the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
To assemble the cake:  Remove the foil from the top of the cake.  Transfer the cake on its bottom sheet of foil to a work surface, placing it so that one of its long sides is parallel to the edge of the surface closest to you.  Place another long sheet of aluminum foil on the work surface nearby.
Using an offset spatula, spread the filling evenly over the cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long side farthest from you.  Begin rolling the cake by flipping the edge nearest you over onto itself.  Then, with the aid of the foil that extends beyond the short sides, roll up the cake lengthwise until you reach the far long side.  As you work, wrap the foil around the roll to assist in rounding the shape (otherwise the cake will stick to your hands).  To insure the roll is uniform and round, place the rolled up cake in its foil across the bottom third of a 24-inch-long piece of parchment paper, bringing the top edge of the parchment paper toward you, and drape it over the top of the cake roll, allowing a 2-inch overhang.
Place the edge of a rimless baking sheet or cooling rack or other long edge at a 45-degree angle to the roll and your work surface.  Apply pressure against the roll, trapping the 2-inch overhang, and push while simultaneously pulling the bottom portion of paper toward you.  This push-pull motion creates a resistance that results in compressing the log into a uniform shape.  If any cracks appeared as you rolled the cake, they are consolidated in this compression and disappear from view.
Carefully lift the roll in the aluminum foil and set it, seam side down, on a fresh sheet of foil.  Wrap the cake securely in the foil.  Transfer the foil-wrapped roll to the baking sheet or shallow tray and refrigerate for about 45 minutes - 1 hour to help set the filling.
To serve:  Remove the cake from the refrigerator and peel off and discard the foil.  Carefully lift the roll onto a serving plate with the aid of a long, wide spatula or a rimless baking sheet. (If not serving right away, cover loosely with plastic wrap to keep the cake’s surface from drying out and return to the refrigerator to serve the same day).  Dust the cake with powdered sugar.  Using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut the roll into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Jenn's Notes:  This cake was pretty much perfect as is.  I did add buttermilk instead of milk to the cake batter to give it a more traditional red velvet taste.  I also used slightly less cream cheese and a little more butter in the filling and I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. The filling sets up nicely once refrigerated.   I cut the recipe in half and baked in a smaller sheet pan and I wished I would have made the full recipe, because it was gone in no time.      

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Breaded Veggies

I am a HUGE vegetable lover!! I think I could easily live on vegetables alone (well at least for a while until I really wanted a cupcake).  Serve me up a bowl of steamed broccoli with butter spray and salt and pepper any day of the week or a baked potato with  pretty much any topping.  Or even corn on the cob, any kind of peppers, zucchini anything, cucumbers with homemade ranch or peas and carrots?  Yes, I love them all.  I'm pretty sure I get my fair share of vegetables. 

 This is a great way to serve vegetables to your family.  My favorite breaded veggies are broccoli and zucchini, but today, I only made broccoli.  They always turn out crisp and buttery and very YUMMY!

Breaded Veggies
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
3/4 - 1 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbl. milk
2-3 c. fresh steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, etc ...)
1 Tbl. butter, melted

Lightly grease a large casserole dish.  In a plastic zip-top bag, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and pepper.  In a small bowl, combine egg and milk.  Toss the vegetables in the egg mixture and then in the bread crumb mixture.  Put in casserole dish.  Sprinkle any extra bread crumbs on top.  Melt butter and drizzle over the top of the vegetables.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  Serve plain or with ranch dressing.  

Jenn's Notes: I usually use regular seasoned bread crumbs, but this time I used Panko bread crumbs.  The Panko crumbs do not stick as well as the regular bread crumbs, but still taste yummy.          

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Take on Paula Deen's Creamy Mac and Cheese

Do you want to know something?   I had never actually eaten homemade macaroni and cheese until I was around 20 or so?  Can you believe that?  I grew up on boxed macaroni and cheese and I loved it (and yes I still eat it occasionally).  Not until after highschool did I realize that you can make a homemade version from scratch and that it could be so creamy, cheesy, rich and comforting!  It has now become one of my favorite meals.  I have a few recipes that are my favorites, but I still like to try out new ones now and again.  I had been wanting to try Paula's creamy version for a few years now, but never got around to it until now.  I read through the reviews and I changed it up according to my taste.  It is super creamy and plenty saucy!  This is definitely not a "light" recipe, but mac and cheese isn't supposed to be healthy, right?    
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from: Paula Deen   
*If you would like to try Paula's exact recipe, click here!

2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
4 Tbl. butter
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1 c. milk
1/2-3/4 tsp. dry mustard powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. sour cream
2 1/2 c. grated Sharp Cheddar cheese

Boil pasta in salted water until tender; drain.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter.  Add can of soup and milk and stir until well combined and completely smooth.  Add dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Stir in sour cream and cook until heated through.  Last stir in the grated cheese and whisk until smooth, thick and creamy.  Stir in cooked, drained pasta.  Serve.   

Jenn's Notes: Paula's original recipe is a crock-pot recipe.  I wanted a quick version, so I cooked mine on the stove-top.  I also omitted the eggs from her recipe, because I wanted a super creamy mac and cheese and eggs give a slightly different texture, that I didn't want.  Next time, I will try cutting the butter back to only 1 or 2 Tbl., since I am only using it for flavor, not to melt the cheese in.  Don't be afraid of the canned cheese soup - it really isn't bad at all.  I really liked this macaroni and cheese and I would make again. I even used Mild Cheddar cheese, because that was all I had.  So, I can imagine how yummy it would be with the Sharp Cheddar!  The amount of people this will serve depends on if you are serving it as a main dish or as a side.  Mine was a main dish and I would imagine it could serve 4-6 people.          

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

These YUMMY Lemon Bars are one of my many findings on Pinterest.  Everyday, I would see their amazing picture and everyday, I would wish I was eating one.  So, here they are! They are super tasty.  They are chewy, creamy, lemony and they melt in your mouth (yes that is all possible in one little bar)! Delish!  
Cream Cheese Lemon Bars
adapted from: Recipe Tips

1 lemon cake mix
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 egg
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 lemon, grated
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 eggs 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine cake mix, butter and egg.  Press into a 9x13 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, grated lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix well and reserve 1/2 cup for a later use.  Add eggs and vanilla extract to remaining cream cheese mixture.  Mix until completely combined.  Spread over cake batter.  Bake at 350 degrees until set, approximately 25-30 minutes.  Cool completely.  Spread reserved cream cheese mixture over the top.  Refrigerate until firm.  Cut and serve.  Keep refrigerated.  

Jenn's Notes: I omitted the lemon zest, because I had several, already zested, lemons leftover from my fave zucchini muffins, so I just added the juice and they had a great fresh lemony flavor.  I baked mine for 30 minutes and they were slightly overbaked, so the bottom was a little dark, but they were still very very yummy.  You want to bake them until the top is no longer jiggly, but be careful not to overbake.  

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