The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

choc cake

 

I love chocolate cake.  It may be my all time favorite dessert, and I LOVE dessert.  I made many a cake until I was happy with this recipe.  It’s consistently moist and ultra chocolately (is that a word??).  Anyway, it’s a great cake and the reason rarely make cake from a box anymore.  It’s really not difficult at all, perhaps a little more time consuming but well worth it.  Try it and see if you don’t agree.

 

1 cup butter, plus extra to grease the pan

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan with butter.  Combine butter, cocoa, and 1 cup water in small saucepan and stirring over medium heat, turn it off as soon as it comes to a boil. Make sure all the cocoa is dissolved.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.  Combine the flour, sugar, and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer).

Pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture, along with the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 30-40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out of pan onto the rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting. 

 

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

There are so many chicken noodle soup recipes out there but I’ve pretty much perfected the art of making one that’s quick yet still “homemade” tasting. I use cheesecloth to strain the soup as it catches all the little bits that you don’t really want in your broth. You can find it in the baking section of your grocery store.

chick-noodle-soup-pic

1 rotisserie chicken (from grocery store)

1 onion, peeled and halved

4 stalks celery, including leaves

3 carrots, cut in half

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1-2 cups frozen pearl onions

1 package frozen Grandma’s Homestyle Noodles, thaw as directed

salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken broth in a large stock pot and add the whole chicken, onion, celery, and carrots.  Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for at least an hour, or up to two hours.  Using a large piece of cheesecloth laid over a colander, strain the soup into another large stock pot. Discard vegetables.  Let the chicken cool while you add the peas and carrots, pearl onions and thawed noodles to the pot.  Cook until noodles are done.  Pick the chicken off the bone and add the meat to the soup.  Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

 

 

Pasta Fagioli with Red beans

I’m a soup gal.  I love soups of all kinds, but this one is great because not only does it have a great flavor but it’s hearty enough that if you add a hunk of bread and a glass of wine you can call it Dinner.  I like that in a soup.

pasta-fagioli-with-red-beans

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 tbls butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

6 cups chicken broth

2 (14 oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup small macaroni, like elbow or orcchiette

salt and pepper to taste

parmesean cheese and olive oil to top dish

Cheesecloth or kitchen twine

Wrap the thyme and rosemary sprigs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie in a knot, or tie with kitchen twine.  Heat the butter in a large, heavy stockpot over a medium flame.  Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender (about 5 minutes).  Add the broth, beans and herbs.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease heat to medium and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  At this point, remove the herb packet and discard it.  Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and either puree it in a blender or, if you have an immersion blender, put one cup in a larger (4 cup) glass measuring cup and puree it using the immersion blender.  Return the puree to the rest of the soup, cover and return to a boil over high heat.  Add the macaroni, cover again and boil approximately 8 minutes, so that the pasta is done “al dente.”  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the soup sprinkled with parmesean cheese and drizzled with olive oil.

Save

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs might just be the ultimate comfort food.  Growing up with an Italian grandparent I was used to meatballs as a staple, but I always loved when they were served with this creamy gravy as an alternative. Serve them over rice or egg noodles.

swedish-meatballs

Meatballs:

2 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn into tiny pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 small onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Sauce:

6 Tbls butter, divided

2 cups beef broth

2 Tbls flour

1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk until soft.  In a larger bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, then add the soaked bread.  Mix well with your hands.  Shape into approximately 20-24 meatballs.

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbls butter.  Add meatballs and turn continuously until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 10 minutes).  Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add 4 Tbls butter to the skillet and when melted whisk flour in, stirring until it turns brown.  Slowly stir in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer a few minutes to thicken.  Stir in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add Meatballs back to the skillet and simmer another 3-5 minutes to make sure they are heated through.

Classic Coq au Vin

The sauce for this chicken dish is so good that my one daughter found the leftovers in the fridge one day and, not seeing the chicken at the bottom, scooped up the sauce and heated it up as a soup!  And I don’t blame her.  It’s rich and creamy.  And I use boneless chicken thighs, so they turn out so tender you don’t need a knife to eat your meal.  All-in-all, this is a great dish.

coq-au-vin

4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup flour mixed with 1 Tbls Cocoa powder

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

6 pearl onions, peeled and halved

2 carrots, diced

1/2 pound crimini (brown) mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tsp chopped garlic

5 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

2 oz red wine

6 cups chicken  broth

4 Tbls butter

5 Tbls chopped parsley

5 Tbls chopped Marjoram

 

In a large pot with a lid, render the bacon until crispy, about 6-8 minutes, then remove from pot to drain on paper towels and set aside.  Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, coating each side completely.  Reserve remaining flour.  Cook chicken, a few pieces at a time so as not to crowd the pot, only a few minutes on each side on med high heat.  You only want to brown the chicken at this point.  Hold browned pieces on a plate and set aside. Add butter to melt, the add onions  and carrots to the pot and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes more.  Add the thyme and red wine, and cook for a minute to allow alcohol to cook out of wine.  Sprinkle about a half cup of the reserved flour into the mix and stir well.  Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer a few minutes to allow it to thicken a bit.  Add the chicken and bacon, and cover.  Simmer over med-low for 30 minutes. Stir parsley and marjoram in at the end.  Serve over rice.

Chicken Marsala

chicken-marsala

 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast

All purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup Marsala wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tbls butter

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick.  Place them in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil over med-high in a large skillet.  Fry the chicken pieces 5 minutes on each side, browning them before removing to a plate.  Lower heat a bit and add the mushrooms, stirring until softened and  browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the Marsala wine and cook a minute to remove the alcohol.  Be sure to have scraped the bottom of the pan to get the bits of chicken, etc up.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.  Stir the butter into the sauce and add the chicken.  Cook for another 5-7 mins to heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir parsley in before serving.  Serve with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

turkey-tetrazzini1

1 pound linguini, broken in half

4 Tbls butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup flour (I use Wondra for this)

4 cups chicken broth

1 8oz block cream cheese, softened

3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie from grocery store works well)

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup bread crumbs

Cook pasta until not quite done (a few minutes less than package directions call for). Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and salt and saute a few minutes more.  Pour the wine in and cook several minutes,  until the liquid reduces by half.

Sprinkle the flour in and stir to incorporate.  Cook a few minutes more, then slowly add the chicken broth, being careful to stir well.  Cook a few minutes more until the mixture thickens.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream cheese in small blocks, stirring well.  Don’t be alarmed if the cream cheese doesn’t completely melt at this point, it will eventually.  Add the chicken and the peas and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the  cooked spaghetti and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased (or sprayed) large baking dish.  Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and spread over casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until casserole bubbles.

Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler

 
I adapted this recipe from a new favorite cookbook, The Back in the Day Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.  It’s a wonderful book full of old fashioned recipes based on their customers’ favorites from their Southern bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s also packed with their baking know-how tips and gorgeous photos.  I’m currently reading it cover to cover and enjoying every page.
I’ve made many a chicken pot pie in my day and while this recipe goes by a different name, that’s what I still consider it.  It doesn’t have a bottom crust, and I’m ok with that.  It still has chicken and vegetables and gravy.  Where this recipe differs is that every single person at our dinner table loved it.  That just doesn’t happen often at our house, folks.  I will be making it often.
 Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
                                                                                   
 
                                                                    Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
 
Filling:
1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely diced yellow or brown onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
 
The Topping:
Buttermilk Bicones (recipe below)
 
 
Preheat oven to 450 ͦ Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray (I like butter flavor for this).
      Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender (about 5-8 minutes).  Add the carrots, celery, salt and pepper and sauté 2-3 minutes more before adding the chicken broth.  Bring all to a simmer and lower heat to med-low, partially cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      Stir in the cream, raise the heat again to medium, and cook, uncovered, until all vegetables are tender, about another 12-15 minutes.
      Meanwhile, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and stir the flour into it to make a smooth paste.   
    When the vegetables are tender, lower the heat and whisk the flour paste a little bit at a time into the broth until combined.  Add the roasted chicken, peas, corn, thyme, sage and cayenne.  Cover the pot and let the filling simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
    Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Arrange the unbaked biscones over the filling, leaving about ¼ inch between them.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 
 
Buttermilk Biscones   
 
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 sticks cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 ½ cups buttermilk (more or less, as needed)
 
Preheat oven to 375 ͦ.   Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
     In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom and whisk until completely incorporated.  Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or do this in a food processor using quick pulses. You should end up with various-sized pieces of butter, from sandy patches, to pea-sized and larger ones as well.  Gradually pour in the buttermilk and fold the ingredients until you have a soft dough and there are no bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.  If this happens before you’ve used all of the buttermilk, don’t use the entire 1 ½ cups or it’ll end up to sticky.  If you’ve used it all up but it’s still too dry, use a little more buttermilk.
     Gently pat the dough in the bowl until it resembles a loaf of bread.  Dust the top of it lightly with flour.  Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are 1 inch apart.  Lightly tap the tops down. 
     Brush lightly with extra buttermilk before baking.
 

Chicken Rice Casserole

 
013
 
 
 
 
File this under “Comfort food” as this is one recipe my kids will ask for whenever they come home.  It’s easy to throw together, easier still if you use chicken meat from a grocery roasted chicken, and great to make in the morning and pop it in the oven in the evening.  Serve with a salad and bread and you’ve got your meal. 
 
 
Chicken Rice Casserole
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
4  half chicken breast, roasted or boiled , then diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup butter, melted
 
 
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan and add rice; reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the broth is absorbed.  Set aside.
 
Combine the chicken, celery, onion, cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and curry powder  in a large bowl and mix well.  Mix the rice into the chicken mixture and turn into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray.   Combine the Ritz cracker crumbs, almonds and butter and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
 
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes until golden brown. 

Grammy’s Oatmeal Bar

This is comfort food at it’s finest.  Served warm out of the oven with a glass of milk, we like it for breakfast or a late night snack.  It’s really important that the butter is room temperature so that it creams really well in the mixer.  Another trick is that if you don’t have evaporated milk on hand use  just a splash under a cup of milk and then fill it to the cup line with regular white vinegar.
 
 

Grammy’s Oatmeal Bar

1 cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup evaporated milk
3 cups quick-cooking oats
 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
milk
 
 
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together in a mixer until well blended (almost whipped).  In another bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Alternating, add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, making sure all is combined well after each addition.  Add oatmeal after last addition. Turn batter into a 9inch baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. If anything, you’d rather underbake this than overbake.
Make a glaze of  powdered sugar and milk and pour over warm bar before serving.

Pages

Recipes

%d bloggers like this: