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Chocolate Orange (or Raspberry) Pudding Cake

I got to try this chocolate raspberry cake recently at a cooking class and it was very good. It’s a very moist cake with the frosting built right in. I didn’t have any raspberry jam but I did have a jar of orange marmalade I needed to use up and wondered if I could use the same recipe with¬†orange marmalade instead of the raspberry jam. It worked great. I put the marmalade in a mini food processor to make it a little smoother. Mine had a lot of big strips of zest and seemed a little bitter. There were still a few little bits when I mixed it in the batter, but they weren’t noticeable in the finished cake.

Another nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time and just leave it in the pan. When you want to serve it, just warm it back up in the over for 10 minutes. It may not be the prettiest cake, but it’s one of the tastiest chocolate cakes I’ve ever made!

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For the frosting:

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (or pureed orange marmalade)

1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake:

1/2 cup boiling water

1/3 cup plus 2 tsp cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch process)

1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (or pureed orange marmalade)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

optional: fresh raspberries or strips of orange zest for garnish, whipped cream

Place jam, cream and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan and simmer and stir until all the ingredients are melted and smooth. Pour into a buttered 9 inch round cake pan (with 2 inch sides).

In a bowl, whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in milk, vanilla and jam. In a separate bowl (or stand mixer), beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to egg mixture in batches alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating well after each addition.

Pour batter evenly over frosting in cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean (the frosting on the bottom will still be liquid). Cool the cake slightly in the pan on a rack, 10-20 minutes.

To make ahead: cool the cake completely in the pan. Before serving the cake, reheat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool a few minutes and then invert the pan on a plate. Let the cake settle onto the plate and scrape any frosting left in the pan onto the cake. Garnish if desired and serve warm with a little whipped cream (and a glass of milk!).

Bonus tip: if you happen to have some raspberry or orange liqueur around, you can brush the cake with a little bit after it has cooled (while it’s still in the pan) for a little extra orange or raspberry flavor.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate and Homemade Marshmallows

This is my new go-to hot chocolate recipe. It’s so easy with a Vitamix blender, but I think you could use the same proportions on the stovetop and just use some of the milk with the chocolate and add the rest once it’s melted. You can leave out the spices to make a regular hot chocolate.

First I tried a different marshmallow recipe that used powdered gelatin and some honey, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I was wanting marshmallows like the ones at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Chicago…and then I remembered that I had Mindy’s cookbook and the marshmallow recipe was inside! ūüôā It’s a little tricky to find gelatin sheets, but you can order them online or find them at specialty food stores.

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Hot Chocolate:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ancho chile powder

Combine in Vitamix blender and set to the Hot Soup program and press start. Or, start the blender on the lowest speed and slowly increase to the highest speed and blend for 5 min.

 

Marshmallows:

2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature

8 sheets gelatin

2 cups plus 1 Tbsp cane sugar

2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp kosher salt

icing sugar for dusting

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and line with plastic wrap so that it overhangs 5 inches on the ends and 7 inches on the sides. Spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray.

Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites on high speed for about 4 minutes, until they are over whipped and start to turn grainy. Fill a 2-cup measuring cup with ice water and add the gelatin sheets. Meanwhile, add the sugar, syrup and enough water to cover to a pot fitted with a candy thermometer. Heat over medium-high until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F, about 5 minutes. (Mine took over 20 minutes, until I turned the heat up higher.) When the sugar reaches 238 degrees, quickly squeeze the excess water from the gelatin sheets and stir them into the syrup.

With the mixer on medium speed, pour the syrup in an even stream into the egg whites. Whip in the vanilla and salt and keep whipping until the egg whites have cooled to warm but are still fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Spread the marshmallows into the prepared pan, and even the top with an offset spatula. Spray the top of the marshmallows with cooking spray. Cover with the overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Dust a counter with icing sugar and cut the marshmallows into squares, coating each side with the sugar. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

(Marshmallow recipe from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal)

Mexican-Style Lasagna

I’ve been trying out some new make-ahead recipes to make the work week go a little smoother. My goal is to¬†prep a meal every Sunday that can be dinner for Monday and Tuesday. This is one of the ones I’ve tried and we really liked it. And it sure includes a lot of spinach! This dish can be assembled a day in advance and refrigerated (add 5-10 min to the covered cooking time).

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8 corn tortillas

1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup salsa

8 oz. (2 cups) grated pepper jack cheese

10 ounces baby spinach

4 scallions, coarsely chopped

1 cup cilantro leaves

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

sour cream for serving (optional)

In a food processor combine the scallions, cilantro, salt and pepper and as much spinach as will fit. Pulse, adding the remaining spinach until it is all coarsely chopped (it will look a little like pesto). Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Layer 4 tortillas, half the beans, salsa, spinach mixture, and cheese and repeat the layers again. Press down gently on the cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees F on a rimmed baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove the foil and bake uncovered until the cheese is golden, 15-20 minutes more. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

(Recipe from Martha Stewart Living’s One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More)

Slow Cooker Minestrone

After eating the same dish 3 (maybe 4) times, I’m usually done. I don’t want to eat it again for at least a little while. But when I made this soup last week, I ate it for lunch every day and wanted another batch as soon as it was done. So, I made more today. I hope I’m not tired of it by tomorrow :).

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1 onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh)

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup dried beans (great Northern, cannelloni, or another type that you like), salt soaked and rinsed

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch wide

1/2 cup small pasta shape

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

fresh grated parmesan cheese and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Start by soaking the dried beans. Dissolve 1 Tbsp salt in 2 quarts water. Add the beans and let soak overnight. Rinse and drain. (If you need them faster, you can use 1 quart boiling water and 1 1/2 Tbsp salt. Add the beans and let them soak at room temperature for 1 hour.)

Combine the onion, garlic, oil, oregano and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 5 min. Add to the slow cooker along with the tomato sauce, broth, beans, and carrots. Cook until the beans are tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high. Add the zucchini, chard and pasta and cook covered on high for 20-30 min. (I prefer to cook the pasta separately and just add some to each bowl so that it doesn’t get soggy in leftover soup). Add basil and top each bowl with parmesan and olive oil.

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution)

Aloha Pork Chops (slow cooker)

Pork chops aren’t something I think to buy very often, but this looked like a good, easy slow cooker recipe. I was glad I tried it-it’s a keeper. The meat is very tender and the dish isn’t too sweet. Just make sure to buy the right type of pork chop for this recipe.

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20 oz. can pineapple chunks in juice

¬ľ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp curry powder

¬Ĺ tsp ground ginger

¬Ĺ tsp red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like things too spicy)

6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about ¬ĺ inch thick (7 oz) – cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart on one side of each chop (prevents curling)

1 Tbsp water

2 tsp cornstarch

2 scallions, sliced thin

Mix pineapple, juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and spices in the slow cooker. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and nestle them into the sauce. Cook 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high. (I’ve tried this both on high and low – the pork was much more tender cooked on low, but I was in a hurry the second time.)

Remove pork chops and cover loosely with foil. Let liquid settle for 5 min, then skim the fat off the surface with a large spoon. Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl then add to sauce. Simmer (uncovered) until reduced to 2 cups, about 12 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in scallions and serve over pork chops with a side of rice or noodles and a salad.

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution)

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes

After a short adjustment period, these have replaced my former favorite pancakes. The white flour ones taste a little better, but these not only taste almost as good, but I feel a lot better after eating them. I don’t get the same sugar-shock I feel after regular pancakes (it also helps if I skip the syrup :)). I like to keep a stash of these in the freezer and just pop them into the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack. They are good with whipped cream and fresh fruit, or even plain with a glass of milk in the middle of the the night.

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2 c (11 oz) fresh whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 c buttermilk or 2 cups milk with 1/4 cup white vinegar
5 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
2 eggs

Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl and wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
Heat 1 tsp oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med until shimmering. Wipe out oil with paper towel, leaving a thin film on bottom and sides of pan. Add 1/4 batter in 3 places and gently spread into 4 1/2 inch circles. Cook 2-3 min, flip, 1-2 min.
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(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated July/August 2015 )

Chipotle Meatballs

Great meatballs in a delicious slightly spicy sauce. This is one of my new favorite recipes. I’ve tried the various options (beef vs. pork or a combination, and rice vs. bread crumbs). Personally, I like the combination of half ground beef and half pork with the bread crumbs, but any of them will work. Serve with rice, noodles, or (my favorite) mashed potatoes.

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1 lb. ground beef or pork, or a combination

1 egg

1 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp salt

2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional)

3/4 cup packed fresh breadcrumbs (such as from Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread, about 2-3 slices) OR 1/2 cup packed cooked cooked rice (roughly chopped)

2 Tbsp oil or bacon drippings, for frying

Sauce:

15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice

1-2 canned chipotles in adobo (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)

1 Tbsp chipotle canning sauce

scant 1 tsp dried oregano OR 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves (minced unless you have a great blender)

To make the meatballs, combine the meat, egg, salt and mint, then add the bread crumbs or rice. Mix until just evenly distributed and form into 12 meatballs. Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Brown the meatballs all over (about 8 min).

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and pulse until coarsely pureed. When the meatballs are cooked, add the sauce to the pan, making sure all the meatballs are coated. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook about 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Remove the meatballs from the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium high and add 1/2 cup water, broth, beer or wine. Simmer for a few minutes and season with salt to taste (about 1 tsp). Serve over the meatballs.

If I have some sauce leftover, I like to use it to top toasted baguette slices and then add a little goat cheese. It makes a great appetizer or snack the next day.

(Recipe adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

Apricot Breakfast Crisp

Fresh apricots are in season, and this is my favorite thing to do with them. It’s less sweet than a dessert crisp, and meant to be eaten cold with plain yogurt (although it’s also good warm with vanilla ice cream). I double the recipe if I’m going to be sharing. ūüôā

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1 pound fresh apricots, pits removed and torn into quarters

2 Tbsp sugar (preferably turbinado)

1 Tbsp flour (all purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of white and whole wheat)

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Topping:

4 Tbsp butter (can replace half with olive oil)

1/3 cup sugar (preferably turbinado)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup flour (all purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of white and whole wheat)

large pinch of salt

2 Tbsp sliced or chopped almonds

Place the apricots in an 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle with¬†sugar, flour and nutmeg. For the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan and then add the sugar, then the oats, then flour, and then salt and almonds. Sprinkle over apricots and bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 min.

Serve chilled with yogurt.

(Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)

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Mom’s Whole Wheat Tahini Cookies

This is my mom’s tahini adaptation of her favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. The sugar has been reduced (a lot) and some extra ingredients added for a little crunch. It’s a nice not-too-sweet snack with afternoon tea.

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1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup tahini
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
Some dried sweetened coconut (to taste)
1 1/2 cups rice crispies

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, tahini and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the coconut and rice crispies. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. These cookies are best if well-baked (until they start to brown).

Mini Angel Food Cakes

This is one of my go-to recipes for using up extra egg whites (the other is chocolate meringues). The recipe uses three egg whites and makes two cakes.¬†The cakes freeze well too. And, actually, so do egg whites. If I don’t have three leftover egg whites at once, I freeze them and make the cakes later when I have enough. You need 2 mini tube pans (2-cup size) for this recipe, as well as something to hold the cakes up while they cool (see note at the bottom).

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6 Tbsp cake flour (1.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz)

pinch salt

3 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the flour, half the sugar, and the salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-low until foamy (about 1 min). Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix another minute, or until it forms soft, billowy mounds. Slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and form soft peaks (1 to 3 min). Add the vanilla and whisk it in by hand. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold it in with a large spatula. Repeat with the rest of the flour. Divide the batter between two mini tube pans.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 min, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Invert the pans over an upside-down kitchen funnel to cool completely (about an hour). Run a knife around the cake to loosen it and remove it from the pan.

Note: If you don’t have 2 kitchen funnels to cool the cakes, the recipe suggests using a beer bottle with a chopstick in it. That didn’t work so well for me, but plastic squeeze bottles with pointy lids worked fine.

(Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s¬†Cooking for Two: 2010)