Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TWD- Cocoa-nana Bread

I've been wanting to make this recipe for a while. I love banana bread, and at first glance, I didn't think banana and chocolate was such a weird combination.
Plenty of people did, however. Banana splits? Chocolate-covered bananas? It's not that out-there. This banana bread is heavy on the chocolate (1 cup cocoa plus chocolate chips) and fairly light on the banana (only 2 mashed)
The bread is very moist and chocolatey.
I have to side with the combo-haters on this one, though. It isn't very good. Banana bread? Good! Chocolate bread? GOOD! Chocolate banana bread? Not so much. I would eat this whole loaf myself if it was just the chocolate. I might have to try that...
Go here for the recipe!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CS- Red Velvet Cake

Ok, I think I missed last month's Cake Slice Bakers' cake. This month was Red Velvet, one of my favorite flavors of cake. I halved the recipe and made cupcakes as between this and TWD, we're up to our eyeballs in desserts (thank goodness we have visitors!)
Did anyone else miss where in the recipe instructions the vanilla was supposed to go it? I just added it to the buttermilk. I may have overbaked these a little; the tops were a little crispy.
I was a little skeptical of the frosting, as I always think cream cheese frosting should be put on anything and everything. This frosting is a kind of roux made from milk and flour, added to beaten butter and sugar (does anyone know what "nubbly frosting" is????!!!).
It actually tasted to me like melted vanilla ice cream. Pretty yummy. I omitted the coconut and pecans. Give these a try the next time you're in the mood for red velvet!

January’s Cake: Red Velvet Cake

(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

For the Red Velvet Cake

2½ cups all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (see note below)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp red food coloring

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1½ tsp baking soda

1 tbsp cider vinegar or white vinegar

For the Coconut Pecan Icing

1 cup milk

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Method – Red Velvet Cake

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line them with waxed paper to kitchen parchment. Grease the paper and flour the pans.

Prepare three separate mixtures for the batter. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well. Combine the cocoa powder and the red food colouring in a small bowl, mashing and stirring them together to make a thick smooth paste.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute until creamy and soft. Add the sugar and then beat well for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl now and then. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one until the mixture is creamy, fluffy and smooth. Scrape the cocoa-food coloring paste into the batter and beat to mix it in evenly.

Add a third of the flour mixture and then about half the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speed. Mix only enough to make the flour or liquid disappear into the batter. Mix in another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar and stir well. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to quickly mix this last mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes until the layers are spring back when touched lightly in the centre and are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels for 15 minutes. Then turn them out onto the racks, remove the paper and turn top side up again to cool completely.

Method – Coconut Pecan Icing

Combine the milk and flour in a small or medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking or stirring often until the mixture thickens almost to a paste, around 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape it into a small bowl to cool completely.

Meanwhile, beat the butter with a mixture at high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar in thirds, beating well each time until the mixture is creamy and fairly smooth. Add the cooled milk and flour mixture and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides now and then to combine everything well. Using a large spoon or spatula, stir im the vanilla, coconut and pecans, mixing to combine everything well into a thick, fluffy, nubbly icing.

To Assemble

Place one cake layer top side down on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a third of the icing on top. Place the second layer, top side up, on top. Frost the sides and then the top of the cake with the remaining icing. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to help the icing set.

NOTE: If you can’t find buttermilk, stir 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup of milk and leave to stand for 10 minutes before using.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TWD- Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

Have to make this quick as the baby is starting to cry upstairs. This week's recipe was for yummy oatmeal, chocolate bars. I left out the peanuts since I forgot to get them when I went to the store and it was raining cats and dogs today. Crazy.
The base is an oatmeal cookie-type crust, topped with a thick fudgy layer, which I topped with almonds. The oatmeal layer is scattered across the top.
I think I underbaked mine-the bottom layer was a little gooey.
We ate these chilled as suggested in the book- I like the chocolate fudgy layer more firm that way. These are definitely rich and sweet- the cure to any sweet tooth! Go here for the recipe!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chicken Croissants

After having our third monkey, several people were kind enough to bring us dinner. One dinner in particular was a huge hit at our house. I asked the preparer for the recipe. Once I got it, my husband asked me to make it that night and several times since. These are refrigerated crescent rolls filled with a chicken mixture, rolled in Ritz crackers and baked until golden. Served with a quick cream of chicken soup sauce, these are easy to make for a crowd.
Chicken Croissants


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and shredded

3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

3 T butter, room temperature

2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls

2 T butter, melted

2 c crushed Ritz crackers (or similar)

Combine chicken, cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Put 1 TBSP of mixture in crescent roll, roll up, dip in melted butter and roll in Ritz crackers. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

Mix sauce ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until hot and pour over croissants.Serve immediately.

(sorry the pictures aren't great)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

The ultimate comfort food, chicken noodle soup is something I've missed the past couple years. Small children, in our family, are not fans of soup. But recently, our oldest daughter has taken to eating soup, and our younger daughter likes to do the same things as her sister. Voila! Soup eaters!
I found this recipe in a recent issue of Cooking Light. I made it a little differently, but it still came together easily and quickly and was really flavorful. I substituted boneless chicken breast for the rotisserie chicken and didn't use pre-chopped veggies. This is a great quick recipe for an old favorite!
Quick Chicken Noodle Soup
adapted from Cooking Light
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 large, or 2 small)
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 6 ounces macaroni pasta (or whatever pasta you want)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Combine 2 cups water and chicken breast in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer on medium until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken and shred, reserving liquid.

2. Add broth to liquid and keep over low heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, celery, salt, pepper, and carrot; sauté 3 minutes or until almost tender, stirring frequently. Add hot broth mixture and pasta; bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until pasta is almost al dente. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Stir in parsley.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brownie Pudding

Do you have Souplantation (in other places called Sweet Tomatoes) where you live? I hope so. I first went there years ago and I thought, "What? Eight bucks for a salad bar? No, thanks!" Then when my brother and I lived together in Los Angeles, we would go together and I started loving it. Now, we take our kids there and they absolutely love it (but it's more than 8 bucks). One of my favorite things there is the Chocolate Lava Cake- chocolate cake on top of gooey, chocolatey pudding. Paired with their nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt (and, ok, I confess, sometimes toffee bits), it's so yummy. And since you just ate a bunch of salad, it's ok, right?
Anyway, I found a recipe that's very similar to Chocolate Lava Cake. I just stumbled upon it in my BHG cookbook. I was looking for a dessert to serve guests last night. Since I had all the ingredients for this, it won. First, you make a one-bowl brownie batter. Pour it in a greased baking dish. Then mix together boiling water, cocoa powder, and boiling water. Pour it over the batter and bake.

Some kind of magic happens and the brownie rises to the top, the pudding sinks to the bottom and you have a yummy dessert! This has to be served warm with either whipped cream or ice cream. The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie ice cream we ate it with was PERFECT!

Chocolate Brownie Pudding
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cupc granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ice cream for serving


1. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, granulated sugar, the 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, the baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan.

3. In another medium bowl stir together the brown sugar and the cocoa powder. Stir in the boiling water; slowly pour over batter in pan.

4. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 20-25 minutes to allow pudding to set. Serve warm with ice cream. Makes 10-12 servings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TWD- Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Holy cow! Has it really been this long since I've posted TWD?!! I feel completely out of the loop! I'm not so out of the loop, however, that I didn't vote for the birthday recipe! I will choose cake over most desserts, but especially over fruit-pastry desserts. :)
This Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday cake is so easy- the batter comes together in about 15 minutes. I halved the recipe and made cupcakes because with all the candy and sweets around our house lately (and well-intentioned New Year's resolutions), I didn't need a 9" cake, too!
The malted milk frosting was just plain chocolate buttercream on my cupcakes. I left out the powder- I just dissolved 1 T of cocoa powder with 1 T of boiling water. My frosting was a little grainy- perhaps I didn't heat the chocolate/brown sugar mixture enough.
Happy Birthday TWD! Sorry I didn't have any candles, I used them all a couple weeks ago! Head over to the wonderful Laurie's blog, who puts so much time and effort into this group, for the recipe!