Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Breakfast That's Over Easy

I'm a HUGE breakfast fan, probably my favorite meal to make. Unless you count dessert as a meal, then it's my second favorite! So I was surfing Smitten Kitchen, pretty much my favorite recipe resource and came across some delicious looking recipes. Of course my list of things to try was immediately a mile long and I was looking for something I might actually have the ingredients for already. Now had anyone simply suggested to me poaching eggs in tomato sauce I would have thought the combination pretty unappetizing, but the picture on Smitten Kitchen left me dying to try it out. The toast with homemade sauce piled on and a neat little egg nestled on top, not to mention sauteed spinach on the side! I was sold.

Hope Amos, whom I absolutely adore, came over for breakfast this particular morning. Yes, someone was brave enough to try my latest experiment!!! I even convinced my parents to have a go at a plate of the tomato goodness! Here they are at the kitchen table, enjoying breakfast, or at least doing a good job of faking it for me.

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

I'm a fan of poached eggs. I think they're clean, simple, and consequently pretty tasty. So I enjoyed this breakfast, it made me feel like I was starting my morning in Italy or something and it was very filling without feeling heavy. I wouldn't make it everyday, or even every week probably, but as an occasional option I'd say it was a wonderful breakfast. My mom was fairly indifferent, as always, and my father's only input was that though it was pretty tasty he felt the sauce overpowered the eggs. Kinda true. Hope was as happy as she always is and I probably could have fed her just about anything and she still would've sat there and smiled her bum off ;).

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce
Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

If you'd like to try the recipe, again, it's on smittenkitchen.com. It's super easy, but a little messy (I had to pull out the animated dog covered apron my dad and sally so graciously gifted me for Easter).

You know what else I think? I think this post was boring... I need to find something interesting to write about!!! For your sake and mine!!! I think I need some suggestions, I mentioned this in the last post but have yet to get any. I know a couple of you people out there read this, you admitted to it! If you find something that looks like a delicious challenge let me know!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

They Come in Peace

I feel like every time I mention veggie burgers everyone runs screaming. I know in my mom's case it's because she won't let go of the preconceived notion that veggie burgers = tofu, so not true. And even if they did always have tofu as a main ingredient, how many of you have really tried tofu (in various forms) to know that it truly is evil? Anyway, veggie burgers come in a number of forms, some tofu-packed and others tofu-free. This particular recipe that I found in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine is of the tofu-free variety, honestly my preference though tofu does have it place. Although it's not a typical beef patty, there really is no reason to shun the idea of a veggie burger, they're a delicious and healthy way to mix up your summer grilling routine.

So what is in a veggie burger, you may ask? Again, recipes vary greatly. I decided that not only would I tell you what I used to make these delectable patties, but show you!

Veggie Burger

Lentils, couscous, chopped onion, sunflower seeds, shredded carrots, one egg, and a splash of lemon juice were all that when into these. Well, that and a little salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin just because it's my most recent favorite spice ;). I pulsed 3/4 cup cooked lentils, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and the egg in a food processor until smooth. I then transferred the mixture to a bowl and stirred in the couscous (1/4 cup soaked in a 1/4 cup hot tap water for 5 minutes), 1/2 chopped sweet onion (the recipe called for red, but I don't get along well with red onions...), one medium sized carrot shredded, and another (about) 1/2 cup of lentils. I stirred in 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt (recipe called for 1/2, but I like to cut down on the sodium) and a dash of cumin (my own addition :D) and a tablespoon fresh lemon juice (can used bottled if necessary). I then formed these into patties and let them sit in the fridge for 20-25 minutes uncovered to firm.

The only absolutely wonderful thing about everybody else turning up their noses at the sound of veggie burgers is that I get them all to myself!!! My recipe made six good sized patties, certainly more than I was willing to eat in one sitting, so I wrapped up five and put them in the freezer.


The remaining patty received a generous coat of nonstick cooking spray and sat in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. Veggie burgers tend to be really crumbling, despite the egg's best efforts they never fail to fall apart a bit, so be super careful when flipping them! I also sauteed some onions with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These I placed neatly on top of the veggie patty and both went inside a whole wheat bun. DELICIOUS.

Veggie Burger

Admittedly I was too lazy to track down a camera when I took a second patty out of the freezer the next day (this one I defrosted for about a minute and then cooked according to previous directions) and nixed the whole burger idea. Instead I piled fresh spinach on a plate, topped that with a little lemon juice, fresh cracked pepper, and a layer of tomato slices. My cooked patty went right on top and made for a delicious salad-type meal!

DON'T BE AFRAID OF MEAT FREE BURGERS. Another one of my favorites is Black Bean Burgers. SO GOOD. I like to put them on a bun and top with a little salsa or even guacamole, kinda tastes like a burrito! But again, they fall apart pretty easily, we've grilled all the recipes we've tried on aluminum foil to keep them from slipping through the grill. But anyway, veg it up, you may miss meat less than you thought you would!!! Except maybe if your Taylor... or Taylor's dad...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's What's on the Inside that Counts

I really hope the statement that titles this blog entry is true. Partly because as I write this I'm eating more chocolate covered blueberries than is probably a good idea, and partly because the last cake I was involved in baking was delicious but a little... unpolished.

So it turns out that everybody in my boyfriend's family was born like the day after each other. Not really, but for the past three weeks I think I've been churning out birthday cakes like it's a second job, which it actually kinda is. Luckily I love my work ;). Anyway, about three weeks ago Taylor and I cranked out a pretty delicious lemon cake for Max's birthday (which I think missed it's blog spot, oh well) and just last weekend I spent a good deal of time making the most epic of all cheesecakes EVER (see last post, for real, it's delicious, should be illegal, luckily it's not). This weekend Taylor came over pre-prom and we started in on his father's birthday cake.

As most of you know, I'm a chocoloholic, probably should be in a support group, it's that bad. Hence the chocolate covered blueberries that I just tore myself away from. Unfortunately Taylor's father gets pretty awful migraines from chocolate. I'm glad I don't have that issue, my head would be pounding EVERY DAY. But anyway, following his requests I set out looking for a chocolate-free recipe that looked divine, actually quite a challenge. I did, however, come across a cake on smittenkitchen.com (my favorite food blog!) that was eagerly approved by Taylor. Before I tell you about our own recreation of this cake I'd like to share with you the smittenkitchen version...

Strawberry Chiffon Cake

Isn't that pretty? It's a Strawberry Chiffon Cake. It even sounds pretty! What it really is, however, is frickin' impossible to make look like that. How the heck she managed to get her cake layers so perfectly out of the cake pan is well beyond me... that's the beauty of fully frosted cakes, it doesn't matter if they look like crap as long as they taste like heaven. Fortunately, even though the version of this cake Taylor and I managed to piece together looked maybe a little more forlorn, it really did taste like heaven.

A chiffon cake, so I found out, is kind of like a really rich angel food cake. The cake layers we made were lighter in texture than most cakes, attributing to the fact that we used 8 egg whites that were beaten forever before folded into the actual batter and instead of any butter used vegetable oil as the cooking fat. We actually only made two cake layers, as did the writer of SK, but those were cut in half to make the towering four layer wonder that appears above. The white fluff layered in between and piped on top is homemade whipped cream, an automatic cake A+, with strawberries thrown in just for good measure.

Turns out even though I love a good presentation, piping whipped cream the day after Brebeuf's prom was just not very high on my to do list. I happily settled for plopping it on with a spatula and flopping on strawberry slices that we're beautiful in the most rustic of ways. Anyways... Taylor and I embarked on a Strawberry Chiffon journey and came out with... drum roll please...

Strawberry Chiffon Cake
(The top actually looks pretty good, but it's a little... rough around the edges ;) )

Duh dat dat duh! It's no SK cake, but I think it's gorgeous in it's own way! You can just see the love seeping out of the lemon laced chiffon layers! Or maybe that's whipped cream... in my book though homemade whipped cream=love! Clearly I get more excited about everything when I'm eating chocolate covered blueberries! Maybe I'll have to hype myself up more often without cocoa pre-blogging! And guess what else??? That cake is not rabbit food!

Bouncing around with a couple ideas for my next food endeavor... on the list so far are Captain Crunch French Toast a or Pancake Cake. Also dying to make more homemade bagels! Maybe if you guys post some ideas I'll make some suggestions! Maybe whoever makes the best suggestion can have what I make! Can you tell I'm trying to motivate you to comment??? So far I think Van Almelo's Hamburger Cake is in the lead...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Taking the Cake

I needed to make Alex Browning a birthday cake. She had mentioned chocolate when I asked her what kind of cake she'd like, and the recipe I settled on seemed to accommodate that request pretty well. It is, after all, called Chocolate Eruption Cake.

This cake was so intense, it was actually a two day process. Day one consisted of making a pan of the most dense brownie recipes you can find, lots of sugar and butter, the way it's really done. You're probably thinking, "But Molly, you're making a cheesecake! Why would you make brownies?" Well, dear reader, the answer is quite simple. A regular graham cracker crust just isn't enough for the most epic cheesecake known to mankind. Instead, one is obviously expected to use brownies. Oh yes, and because you will obviously have far too many brownies to include them all in the crust, you should probably put them in the actually batter, too. But we'll get to that part later :D.

So day two I actually cut the brownies up and assembled them in my brownie pan...

Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake

Of course, to compliment such a rich crust naturally one would prepare a ridiculously rich batter. And lots of it. This recipe called for a whopping 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese, I did a double take when I read the recipe. For those of you who don't know how much cream cheese that actually it is, think five packages:

Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake

Some of you are now probably thinking, "Well that's all great, but for a Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake, this really doesn't have that much chocolate." Oh but just you wait! After I actually turned that cream cheese into a batter with a few eggs, some sweetened condensed milk, and whipping cream, I took about 1/3 of that batter and added 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips and poured it over that delicious looking brownie crust. The other 2/3 of batter had even better things in store. To that I added: 1 cup chocolate chips, 2 cups chopped snickers bars, and almost 2 cups chopped brownie chunks. Before being stirred in, it looked like this...

Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake
You can't even see the chocolate chips! Clearly this picture doesn't do it justice.

So 1/2 that batter was poured on top of the layers I already had going. Why just 1/2 you make ask? Because I drizzled 1/4 a cup of caramel topping in between that chocolate filled batter that's why! And of course dolloped another 1/4 c on after I'd added the last of the cheesecake batter. By epic I mean really really epic. Especially since after the cake came out of the oven I drizzled 1/4 cup EACH of melted white, milk, and semisweet chocolate chips on top. Oh yes.

Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake

Since it was a birthday cake I decided to actually declare it a birthday cake by adding a little birthday sign. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!

Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake

This cheesecake, which I was fortunate enough to snag a couple slivers of over the course of the following week, was beyond delicious. It's so moist and chocolaty, the perfect indulgence. Even though it's time consuming and definitely calorie-wise an "X-rated" dessert according to the book it came from, I whole-heartedly recommend it, especially for special occasions. If you've got the time/spirit to give it a go I'd love to share the recipe, just hit me up!