Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD- Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

The title says it all. These cupcakes have a TON of chocolate in them. There is both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate in the cupcakes themselves and even more bittersweet chocolate in the icing. I am not a super sweet chocolate eater. I am more drawn to fruity sweets than chocolate itself. But these cupcakes are a more refined chocolate taste that is sweet but also has a bitter kick. So thanks to Clara of I Heart Food4Thought for picking this week's recipe. The recipe is on pages 215-217 from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe as Dorie states it in the cookbook except that I added about a teaspoon of instant coffee with the intention of making the cupcakes have a coffee kick. I didn't add too much, because I was worried the flavor would be overwhelming...unfortunately I didn't use enough and you can't really taste it in the cupcakes.

Also I tried to use my cast iron muffin tins again this week. Since I used them I couldn't really use muffin liners, because the cups are a little smaller than a regular size. I tried to coat the cups with butter and flour as Dorie Suggests, but the cupcakes didn't fair to well when I was trying to get them out. Great looking tops, but the bottoms mostly got stuck. They still taste really good. My husband ate one before I could even melt the chocolate for the icing.

So I had to think of another way to present the cupcakes other than the normal way. That is why they are in a pie pan with the icing smothered all over them. So...presentation is poor this week, but the cupcakes are good. I also did not have the problem a lot of TWDers were having with the cupcakes being dry. I cooked them the whole time, but I also added a splash of olive oil in the dough to add a little moisture.

Next week's recipe is Rugelach. . . never heard of it before, so it should be interesting :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD - Pumpkin Muffins

So this week's TWD recipe was Pumpkin Muffins chosen by Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp! (what a name). If you would like the recipe, please either buy the book, Baking from my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or you can find it here.

Now, if I told you I was looking forward to making this recipe, it would be an understatement of the year. I am not going to lie, pumpkin spice bread/muffins/pies shout "FALL!" to me. And I LOVE fall. Even here in Texas were it is still in the 80's...I can pretend it is fall a little easier when I have a pumpkin muffin in my hand and a pumpkin waiting to be carved outside my door.

I thought this recipe was great. It has pecans and raisins in the mixture and sunflower seeds on the top. It was a perfect combination of pumpkin to non-pumpkin ratio. I did the recipe verbatim except that there was a bit of a mixup at the grocery store.... I knew I needed quite a few spices...and a few of those spices I needed to buy. But did I actually check my cabinet and figure out which ones I needed before I went to the store? NO....so there I am asking my husband which he thought we had and we decided that surely we already had bought nutmeg and we needed allspice. Only to come home and see that I had allspice and no nutmeg. But did that stop me from not making these muffins? NO. I thought I had read somewhere that allspice and nutmeg were sort of interchangeable (please don't beat me over the head too hard if this is wrong).

Either way, with the allspice instead of nutmeg, they were still pretty good. But they were missing a little ummpf of spice kick from the nutmeg. It also didn't stop us from eating/sharing all the muffins. I made these Sunday and there are none left. AND I just went to the grocery store and returned my allspice and got the nutmeg...so I plan to make a new batch tonight....oh I can't wait.
For something fun/random, I made my muffins in cast iron muffin tins. I know some other people with TWD didn't need to cook their muffins the full 25 min at 400, but mine came out perfectly right on time. I think that maybe the cast iron helped even out the heat. (also check out the super cute pumpkin pot holder my mom sent us for Halloween...so cute).

So long story short, everyone should make these muffins. They are super easy....just make sure to add the nutmeg ;)
Sigh...I love fall. This weekend we are going camping and I have hopes that it might be slightly chilly (you know like high 60s ;) . I suppose we shall see. Next week will be Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. So check back if you need your chocolate fix.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Black Bean Chicken Chili (aka the greatest chili ever)

Okay so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but this chili is really good. I have never been a fan of kidney beans and because of that I usually either don't make chili or make bean-less chili...which is just not really chili.

Anyways, so I came across this recipe, from the Homemaking Homesteader, for black bean chicken chili. I had to scale it down a bit because it is just me and my husband eating it and there is really only so much chili you can eat before it goes bad ;). Also I am more a fan of using canned veggies because I don't have the time to soak fresh beans/corn/etc.

So all this being said, I have made this recipe about 3 times so far and it is so good I crave it. I love the chicken in it instead of the greasy beef. And I think the corn gives it a sweet crunch that pairs perfectly with the spicy chili-ness. And I think it is pretty healthy as far as chili goes.

This Monday I was having a chili craving, and so I came home to make it. Turns out I only had one can of black beans...and being my lazy self I didn't want to go out again to get another can. So I rummaged around in the pantry and found a can of black eyed peas that I think my husband bought while I was out of town.

Now I am not a black eyed pea eater, not sure if every family does this, but my family growing up had this tradition that you cook a big pot of black eyed peas on New Years and you eat them for money, or luck, or something like that. My parents always made me eat at least one pea every year.

But the can of black eyed peas was really the only other thing I had. And I reasoned that black eyed peas pretty much take on the taste of whatever they are in, so I tossed it in.....and it was.......GREAT. I have to say, if I ever have to eat black eyed peas, this would be how I would choose to eat them :) You really couldn't taste it much that they were in there. If anything it gave it a more homey taste (in a good way). Two days later and there is none left, which I feel makes it a success :)

So here is the "real" recipe I usually use. Last time I had some zucchini so I tossed it in too, this time I also didn't have the onion....both times it was good. I think that is what I like most about this recipe, it is adaptable. And not very exact on measurements :)

Black Bean Chicken Chili (adapted from the Homemaking Homesteader)
2 cans black beans (or a can of black beans and black eyed peas)
1 can rotel
1/2 cup (or 1/2 a can) corn
1/2 onion chopped
1 Tsp minced garlic (or you can use garlic power if you wish) Chicken (I usually use 2 chicken breasts for the amts listed above)
1 Tsp - 2 Tsp Chili Powder (start with one Tsp and then build up as needed)
1 Tsp (ish) hot sauce

Cook black beans on medium. Dice onion. Cut chicken into one inch pieces. Cook Chicken, onions (and zucchini if you have), and garlic in a skillet until chicken is cooked through. Add chicken/garlic/onion mixture, rotel, and corn to beans. Also add chili powder (taste before adding too much) and hot sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to heat everything thoroughly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TWD - Lenox Almond Biscotti

So this is my FIRST EVER Tuesdays with Dorie post!! I am so excited to join the ranks of the other hundreds of bakers that vow to bake a recipe a week (most of the time) from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. I just got my book in last week and I couldn't wait to get started. I hope that though this constant baking that I become a little more of a natural at baking and not have to rely so much on recipes to do anything ;) This week Gretchen of Canela & Comino chose Lenox Almond Biscotti, if you would like the recipe please go to her site, or buy the book (I just drool looking through the pages :) .

I am a Biscotti fan (especially covered in chocolately goodness), but never in my wildest dreams did I think that this was something that I could make on my own. Dorie gives such excellent directions though, it really was relatively easy.

Since it is my first stab at a Dorie recipe, I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter. The only real change, if you can even call it that, is that I used crushed almonds. I bought whole almonds thinking that I could slice them myself....but it is pretty much impossible to slice almonds. So I gave up and used my KitchenAid chopper to get the job done. I likes the smaller pieces in the finished product.

The picture below was taken before I realized that I forgot to put parchment paper under the biscotti. Luckily I realized it before the first bake.

One thing that I didn't expect was how much the dough would spread once I put them in the oven. I kinda hand to smoosh (sp?) it with my fingers so they wouldn't meet in the middle.

Also, as many people commented on the TWD website, I was unable to get my biscotti to stand up. I think it was probably mainly due to my uneven cookie sheet.... It would have been so cute to "stand them up like a marching band" as Dorie suggests. But nevertheless, the Biscotti were fabulous :) I found myself wishing it wasn't 10:30pm and a cup of coffee would not keep me up.

And here are some pictures of the final product. I loved the almond flavor of the biscotti. They held up well in the coffee and really were great. Now that I know how easy they are to make I will definitely be making them again. I really wanted to dip them in chocolate, but I was tired when the biscotti finally got done baking so the chocolate dipping didn't happen. Next time I will do the chocolate....there really is nothing better than chocolate dipped biscotti.

Come back next week for Pumpkin Muffins (oh I can't wait!!).