Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lemon Mushroom Chicken

From Frozen Assets Lite and Easy by Deborah Taylor Hough

Pictures coming soon!

6 chicken breasts, pounded thin
9T flour
3t margarine (I used butter)
3t olive oil
2 c fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2c chicken broth
6T lemon juice
6T dry white wine
3t parsley
1/2 t white pepper (I used black)

1. Dredge chicken in flour. Reserve remaining flour.
2. In a 10" nonstick skillet, combine margarine and oil and heat until margarine is melted; add chicken and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
3. In same skillet, combine mushrooms and garlic and saute over high heat until mushrooms are softened, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved flour and stir quickly to combine. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and flavors blend, 3-4 min.
4. Return chicken to skillet and cook until heated through, 1-2 min. Remove from heat. Cool. Place in labeled freezer bag; pour sauce over chicken. Seal and freeze.

Thaw. Place chicken and sauce into a non stick skillet. Heat over medium until heated through.

This was my first time cooking in bulk with the plan of freezing most of it. It went pretty well, and this was a fast meal. I wasn't thrilled with how the chicken came out--it wasn't as firm as I like my chicken--but it was a nice, simple weeknight meal. We'll have to see how it is after sitting in the freezer!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TWD: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Although these looked fantastic, I had way too much going on this weekend to complete the recipe. I also completely forgot today is Tuesday! Woops. Anyway, go check out the creations by the other TWD bakers.. they look OUTRAGEOUSLY good.

Well?? What are you still doing here?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fettucine with Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Basil

From Betty Crocker

1package (9 ounces) refrigerated fettuccine
3tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3/4cup ricotta cheese
1/2cup grated Parmesan cheese
1large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
2tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1.Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on package. Return to saucepan.
2.Stir together butter, ricotta cheese and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Toss with hot fettuccine.
3.Top fettuccine with tomato, basil and remaining Parmesan cheese.

I found this recipe one day when BAJ first started living in sin... err.. together. The first time I made it ended in disaster. I know you don't really want the gory details.

Oh, you do?

Ok, so I was waiting for BAJ to come home from work before I started cooking (it's incredibly fast) and was doing some dishes in our dishwasherless apartment. I was washing a glass when it shattered with my hand (and sponge) in it. I wrapped my hand in a towel and waited for him to come home because it was my good hand and I was gushing blood--I couldn't have driven myself to the hospital. Luckily, he came home soon after and off we went.

Needless to say, we had McDonald's that night... it took almost 5 hours for the hospital to see me. YIKES.

This time around (and all times since that first time) went off with much greater success. This was a perfect spring meal, especially considering I needed to purchase no ingredients for it, I have a gorgeous pot of fresh basil growing, and it generates very little heat for a warm kitchen. YAY!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fontina and Red Pepper Stuffed Garlic Focaccia

Pictures coming soon
Recipe from All New Complete Cooking Light, but can also be found here


object2=">1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
object2=">1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
object2=">3 1/4 cups bread flour, divided
object2=">1 whole garlic head
object2=">1 1/2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
object2=">1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
object2="> Cooking spray
object2=">1 teaspoon cornmeal
object2=">1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
object2=">3/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
object2=">1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese


Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring well to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8 hours or overnight to create a sponge (mixture will become very bubbly).

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate cloves). Wrap in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes.

Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Place garlic pulp, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Stir into sponge.

Add 2 cups flour to the sponge; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 10-inch round.

Place 1 dough round on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Arrange basil over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border; top with bell peppers. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Top with other dough round; pinch edges to seal. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until dough is doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Uncover dough. Make indentations in top of dough with a knife. Gently brush dough with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until the focaccia is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.


14 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

This was ok. I felt that there wasn't enough STUFF inside, and BAJ ended up dipping in some homemade marinara sauce, so I guess he felt the same way.

It was a LOT of work as well. I don't mind putting in the work if the rewards are there, but this just wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped.

I learned some lessons though--I've never made bread from scratch before (except using the bread machine). I don't think I've ever kneaded dough, so ya learn something new every day!

Not cooking related, part 2.

I started reading Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster today. A few weeks ago, I mentioned here what she had to say about meeting Candace Bushnell. On page one of the book (so I'm not spoiling anything for ya), she mentions that "Candace Bushnell is a fucking liar." I wonder if she mentioned that when she met her? LOL

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chicken with Eggplant and Pepper Sauce

Taken from The All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
Can also be found here


object2=">1 medium eggplant (about 1/2 pound)
object2=">2 medium red bell peppers (about 1 pound)
object2=">3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
object2=">1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
object2=">1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
object2=">1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, divided
object2=">4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
object2=">2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
object2=">1 teaspoon paprika
object2=">4 teaspoons lemon juice


Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, and pierce skin with a fork. Cut tops off bell peppers; discard tops, seeds, and membranes. Place eggplant and bell peppers on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 8 minutes or until tender.

While the eggplant cooks, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, ginger, garlic powder, and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper; sprinkle the chicken with the ginger mixture. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.

Combine eggplant and bell peppers in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper, 1 teaspoon oil, paprika, and juice; process until smooth. Serve chicken with sauce.


4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 1/3 cup sauce)

This was not great. The sauce? Pretty good and EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASY. I think it would be great on a bowl of penne. I followed the recipe for the chicken, though, and it was incredibly tough. As I always do, I tossed some garlic in with the oil and it became very black. Perhaps the heat was up too high (I'm not using my regular skillet because I have to send it back to Calphalon... maybe I'm just not used to using this old pan), which resulted in the black garlic and the tough chicken. Nevertheless, this isn't a keeper. :(

TWD: Hidden Berry Torte UPDATE!

Oh wow, this was fantabulous. Learning a lesson from the Peanut Butter Torte of a few weeks ago, I cut this into 16 slices. Just the perfect amount (although BAJ had two slices).

I asked BAJ if he would bring this one into work. He said, "No, I want to eat it all." LOL.

So the Peanut Butter Torte is the only recipe BAJ's coworkers have gotten to try from Dorie... The Lemon Tart ended up in the trash because it sat out all night, the marshmallows were kinda gross, and this one is too delicious!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD: Hidden Berry Torte

This week's challenge for Tuesdays with Dorie was to make Madelines. Mmmm, those look and sound delicious, but I just couldn't justify spending money on another Dorie pan when I'm denying myself PEDICURES to save some loot. I'm not an accomplished baker so really didn't have any ideas for modifications. The lovely ladies at TWD were fantastic enough to allow us to make any previously baked TWD creation. I chose the Hidden Berry Torte, which was one of their first group bakes. I didn't have to buy much to make this one--I had to buy cream cheese, which happened to be on sale (woohoo!) and cottage cheese, which has been a recent favorite food of my son's, so any leftovers wouldn't go to waste. AND it was on sale too! I had some troubles making a similar crust for Dorie before (I think it was the Most Extraordinary Lemon Tart) because the bowl of my food processor seemed to small. I gave it a go once again and did it with success. Granted, I did have spilling out of the bowl, but I was able to successfully make the dough there. It also looked a lot better than the previous attempt. I finished it late last night, so we haven't dug in yet. It's still in the springform so better pictures will come later.

Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

(Source: Dorie Greenspan “Baking: From My Home to Yours” pp. 240-242

For the Crust:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1/3 cup thick berry or cherry jam I used raspberry Smuckers jam
9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature I used a brick of Neufchatel, which was 8 oz.
8 ounces (1 cup) cottage cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

Getting Ready:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To Make the Crust:
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse just to blend. Toss in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla together with a fork, and, still pulsing the machine, add them and continue to pulse until the dough comes together in clumps and curds - restrain yourself, and don’t allow the dough to form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. If you want to roll the dough, gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before rolling. Or simply press the dough into the pan. The dough should come about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of the spring form. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fit a piece of buttered aluminum foil against the crust, covering it completely. Fill the drust lightly with rice, dried beans or pie weights and slide the sheet into the oven. Bake the crust for 20 minutes or so - you don’t want the crust to get too brown. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

To Make the Filling:
Stir the jam, and spread it over the bottom of the crust - it’s okay to do this while the crust is still warm.

Put the cream cheese and cottage cheese into the food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times, for 2 minutes, until you’ve got a smooth, satiny mix. Add the sugar, salt and spices and process for another 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the eggs and process, scraping the bowl as needed, for a final minute. Pour the filling over the jam.

Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the filling is uniformly puffed and no longer jiggly. Gently transfer the springform pan to a cooling rack and allow the torte to cool to room temperature, during which time the filling will collapse into a thin, elegant layer.

Run a blunt knife between the crust and the sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the springform. If the sides of the crust extend above the filling and you don’t like this look, very gently saw off the excess crust using a serrated knife. Chill the torte slightly or thoroughly before serving and, if you’d like, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coconut shrimp with pineapple salsa

The All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, p 255

28 large shrimp
1/3c cornstarch
3/4t salt
1/2-3/4t ground red pepper
3 large egg whites
1-1/2c flaked sweetened coconut
Cooking spray

1c finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/3c finely chopped red onion
1/4c finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4c pineapple preserves
1-1/2T fresh lime juice
1T finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1/4 black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. To prepare shrimp, peel and devein, leaving tails intact. Rinse shrimp in cold water; drain on paper towels.
3. Combine cornstarch, salt, and red pepper in a shallow dish; stir with a whisk. Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium high speed until frothy (about 2 min). Place coconut in a shallow dish.
4. Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge in cornstarch mixture. Dip in egg white, and dredge in coconut, pressing gently with fingers. Place shrimp on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat shrimp with cooking spray. Bake for 20 min or until shrimp are done, turning after 10 min.
5. To prepare pineapple salsa, combine chopped pineapple and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir to combine.

In our first apartment together, BAJ and I tried to make coconut shrimp. It was an unbelievable failure. We didn't really have the necessary tools (or experience) and overheated the oil. The coconut turned to icky black within seconds, and our apartment stank of burned oil for months. We reminisced on this experience as we ate this version of coconut shrimp.

This is a really great version. First, no frying to worry about! Not only is it better for us not so great cooks, but it's also better for the diet.

The recipe is tasty, although BAJ commented that I added too much onion.

We happened to have exactly 14 shrimp in the freezer, so I halved this recipe with success (although I forgot that when I used all three egg whites... oh well).

A keeper in the Feisty home!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lemon Roasted Chicken

From ATK.

1 (3-1/2-4 pound) whole chicken, brined if desired
1 lemon, cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5T unsalted butter
2T fresh parsley, tarragon, or chives
salt and pepper
2-1/4c low sodium chicken broth
2T fresh lemon juice

1. Adjust an over rack tot he middle position and heat the oven to 375. Remove the giblets and and excess fat from the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the lemon quarters and garlic inside the cavity.
2. Mix 2T butter, 1T parsley, 1/4t salt, and 1/4t pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin and over the breast of the chicken (loosen the skin first). Season with salt and pepper.
3. Spray a V rack with vegetable oil spray and set inside a roasting pan. Lay the chicken in the rack, breast side up. Melt 1T butter and brush over the chicken. Pour 1c broth into the roasting pan; roast for 40 min.
4. Increase the temperature to 450; rotate the chicken in the oven, and continue to roast until the thickest part of the breast registers 170, about 30 min longer.
5. Tip the chicken so the juice from the cavity runs into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 min.
6. Meanwhile, skim any fat from the roasting pan using a spoon. Stir in the remaining 1-1/4c broth, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the juice into a saucepan and simmer until thickened and reduced to about 1/2c, 5-10 min.
7. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 2T butter, one piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1T parsley and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Carve the chicken, discarding the lemon and garlic. Spoon the sauce over the chicken before serving.

I started this at home and got it cooking. I called my friend, who just had a baby, to see how everyone was doing on the first day home when they invited us to come up. I said I would bring the chicken!

Despite some problems (it cooked for a LOT longer than 30 minutes since it sat for about an hour), it was FANTASTIC. The lemon and garlic stuffed into the cavity brought a lot of flavor, and this was an especially moist bird.

Four people ate the whole thing--and this was a LARGE bird; probably larger than the recipe suggests.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pork and Pear Saute with Lemon-Vodka Sauce

All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, p 345

2t olive oil, divided
2 boneless center cut loin pork chops (about 3/4" thick)
1/2t salt, divided
1/2t black pepper, divided
2 peeled Anjou pears, cored and halved
1/4 vodka or dry white wine
2t grated lemon rind (omitted)
1T fresh lemon juice
1T chopped fresh chives (omitted)

1. Heat 1t olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4t salt and 1/4t pepper. Add pork chops to pan, saute 3 minutes on each side or until pork is done. Remove from pan and keep warm.
2. Heat 1t oil in pan over medium heat. Place pear in pan, cut sides down. Saute 2 min on each side or until golden. Remove pear from pan and keep warm. Add vodka to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 1/4t salt, 1/4t pepper, rind, juice, and chives, and cook 1 minute.

This was ok. The flavors were nice together, but I couldn't figure out how to properly cook my pears. Granted, they were a little less than ripe to start with, but after cooking (how DOES one saute a round object??), my pears were still on the hard side.

It was good, but nothing earth shattering.

Margherita Pizza

All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, p 302

1 (10 oz) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
1t extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, halved
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 c thinly sliced fresh basil
1/8 t salt
1/8t pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; pat into a 13x11 inch rectangle. Bake for 8 min. Remove crust from oven; brush with 1/2t oil.

Rub crust with cut side of garlic (I use the jarred chopped garlic, so just sprinkled it all over; we love garlic).
3. Arrange tomato slices on crust, leaving a 1/2 border,
sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 12 min or until cheese melts and crust is golden.

4. Combine 1/2t oil and vinegar, stirring with a whisk. Sprinkle pizza evenly with slice basil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle vinegar mixture evenly over pizza.

Cut into 8 rectangles.

As you might have noticed, we loooove pizza around here. I loooove all things basil, mozzarella, and tomato. I also looove all things easy. So this was a good recipe for me to try.

This was really easy, which I like. I was nervous about the not homemade crust, but it was good. I couldn't get the vinagrette to spread evenly, so the parts with it were much better than the parts without.
I'll probably make this again, but with some modifications--either the same way but with different toppings or with a homemade crust.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scallops Fra Diavolo with Linguine

Italian Classics by Cooks Illustrated

1 pound scallops
1t hot red pepper flakes, divided
6T extra virgin olive oil, divided
1-1/2t salt, divided
1/4c cognac or brandy
4T minced or pressed garlic, divided
1/2t sugar
1-28oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1c medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/4c minced fresh parsley leaves
1 pound linguine or spaghetti

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot.
2. While the water is heating, heat a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet over high heat until the pan is very hot. Meanwhile, toss the scallops, 1/2t pepper flakes, 2T oil, and 3/4T salt in a medium bowl. Add the scallops to the skillet and quickly spread in a single layer. Cook without stirring until almost done. Off the heat, stir to turn the scallops, then add the cognac. Let stand off the heat until the cognac warms slightly, about 5 sec, and return the pan to high heat. Wave a lit match over the skillet until the cognac ignites. Shake the skillet until the flames subside, then transfer the scallops to a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Off the heat, cool the now empty skillet for 2 minutes. Return the skillet to a burner and reduce the heat to low. Add 3T oil and 3T garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic foams and is sticky and straw colored, 7-10 min. Add the remaining 1/2t pepper flakes, 3/4t salt, sugar, tomatoes, and wine. increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened and fragrant, about 8 min.
4. Stir in the reserved scallops and accumulated juices, remaining 1T garlic, and parsley and simmer until the scallops are heated through, about 1 min. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1T oil.
5. While the sauce simmers, add the linguine and remaining 1T salt to the boiling water. Stir to separate the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/3c cooking water and drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the now empty pot, add about 1/2c sauce (without the scallops) and 2-3 T reserved pasta water, and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among warmed individual bowls, top with a portion of the sauce and scallops, and serve immediately.

So I thought I had brandy. I didn't. This means that one of the main ingredients from this dish was missing (plus, I didn't get to FLAMBE!)

I also thought the seafood guy at the grocery store gave me the pound of scallops I requested. Alas, half a pound I got so I halved the recipe. No biggie there; it still made plenty for the two of us.

Finally, the recipe is originally for shrimp but includes a modification for scallops. Scallops were on sale, so that's what I made. Unfortunately, though they provide specific details for how long to cook the shrimp, no indication is made for how long to cook the scallops. So it turned out that my scallops were not quite done.

Anyway, this was super garlicky, which I love. Otherwise, it was pretty straightforward and simple.

I probably won't be making this one again, but it was good anyway.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Not Cooking related

So I have all these blogs and none of them are just for my random thoughts. So here ya go... one of the many random thoughts from SBF.

Thanks to Lauren, I am a google reader addict. I'm subscribed to Jen Lancaster's blog. I love it that she blogged about meeting "CANDACE MOTHERFUCKING BUSHNELL." I love it when famous people get all geeked up about meeting other famous people. Granted, I dunno how famous Jen Lancaster is outside of my nerdy book friends, but I think she's pretty awesome. Check out what she had to say here, and check out the one before that, called "Songs in the Key of Holy Shit!" for more on this same topic! LOL

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hooray for CONTESTS!!

Click here to enter Chop.Stir.Mix's contest for pretty kitchen stuff! Leave a comment to enter, check out her blog, and tell them Feisty sent ya! LOL

Monday, May 5, 2008

Peanut Butter Torte

From Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 282-283

Peanut Butter Torte
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
I used Twistos, the Stop and Shop version

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature I used neufchatel
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
I used lower salt generic brand
2 tablespoons whole milk I used skim
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready
: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan I sprayed with Pam and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside. Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed. Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte
: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I was so looking forward to this one. Peanut Butter is one of my all time favorite treats, and it is only made that much better when chocolate is added. I knew I would be loving this when I first saw it was Elizabeth from Ugg Smell Food's choice for this week.

I was delighted by how this turned out. Decadent. Rich. Creamy. OH. MY. GOD. This was so darn good. The problem, however, was that it was too much. I cut my torte into 8 slices, but think 16 probably would have been better.

It was pretty too! Mine came out PRETTY!! I look week after week at my fellow TWD Bakers' work (you can check them all out at Mine usually doesn't look great, but this time it did!! I brought it out for some friends at lunch and they ooohed and ahhhed at it.

It actually wasn't that tricky to make, either, unlike the other recipes I've made from Dorie's book. It had a lot of steps, and it took a lot of time, but it really wasn't all that difficult!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tomato Pie

Recipe can be found here

1 (9-inch) frozen pie shell, thawed
3 large tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt, for sprinkling
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more or until light golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the mustard over the bottom of the shell and sprinkle the cheese over it. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in 1 overlapping layer. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste to blend. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while hot and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature.

Last summer, I discovered Paula Deen's recipe for Tomato Pie. I went to the food network in search of that recipe and discovered Sara Moulton's version. Considering this looked like a healthier choice as well as something different, I decided to make this.

Compared to Paula Deen's, this is more expensive (due to the Gruyere cheese, which costs me about $11 for a small block), took longer (than I recall at least), and was not as good. I also felt that Sara's version wasn't very filling.

Not really Sara's fault, but the crust got a lot more brown that I like it to over the course of all the baking.

I did like the vinagrette Sara's recipe has over the pie. It was a nice touch and added a lot of flavor. I might try to make that again for over Paula's pie.

I liked mine ok; I ended up going for thirds since I was so hungry. BAJ, on the other hand, didn't even finish his slice. I suspect that his was a little heavier handed with the mustard than mine might have been...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hooray for mixes

It's strange how I have so many more cravings NOW than I ever did while I was pregnant. The other night, I had a sweet craving and decided to make cupcakes. We had some boxed mixes and frosting in our pantry, so I went with it. I actually used a strange combination, which is why I'm wasting my time blogging about it.

The cake mix was pineapple--it was intended for pineapple upside down cake. The box was sort of misleading, because it had a picture of the prepared cake, with pineapple slices and a cherry... but that was just a SERVING SUGGESTION. But anyway, I made this pineapple cake and frosted it with milk chocolate frosting.

Pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

Is It Really Better than Sex Cake?

Courtesy of Paula Deen. Link here
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 (3.4-ounce) box French vanilla pudding, plus ingredients to prepare
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup flaked, sweetened toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare yellow cake mix as directed using a greased 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. While cake is baking, combine the pineapple and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Remove cake from oven and using a fork, pierce holes into cake. Pour pineapple mixture over hot cake and set aside.

Prepare pudding according to package directions. Spread pudding over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Whip heavy cream and remaining sugar until stiff. Cover top of cake with whipped cream and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

I made and served this for a family holiday dinner, so I renamed it "Pineapple Cake." It was pretty good and so easy considering how much from scratch baking I've been doing. I love me some box cake mix.

This was tasty too. I thought all that sugar mixed in with the pineapple would be too much, but it wasn't at all.

BAJ brought this into work, and the ladies raved about it. I'm not sure, though, if they rave about every sweet treat, if he tells me they loved it whether they did or not, or if they honestly loved it! LOL

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