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Monday, March 26, 2012

Perfect Popcorn

Wanna know the secret to the best popcorn ever? Answer: butter. The movie theaters and microwave stuff use oil, but big surprise, butter is MUCH tastier (and oddly enough, easier to clean up)

Perfect Popcorn
serves 3
Inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

6 tbs. popcorn kernels
2 tbs butter (no fake butter!)
3/4 tsp salt

1. Cut butter into little pieces, and put everything into a pot with a lid on the stove
2. Turn the stove to medium heat, and leave the lid ajar so steam can escape
3. After about a minute, shake it gently to get the butter distributed
4. Listen for popping after about 2 minutes. When the popping slows significantly, remove from stove and enjoy.

Quinoa n' Cheese

This fantastic dish gives you all of the yummy flavor and cheesiness of Mac n' cheese, but with more nutrients, fewer calories, and less work. The one thing to be aware of is that quinoa has a slight bitter, earthy taste, but if you rinse it thoroughly, it's not too noticable.

Quinoa n' Cheese
makes 2 large servings
modified from Around the Table

3/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well and drained (instructions)
a pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese

Seasoned breadcrumbs
Parmesan cheese (or other toppings of your choice like BACON)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. After rinsing and draining quinoa, cook it according to instructions on box
3. Whisk egg, salt, garlic, milk; add cheese
4. Gently combine quinoa with egg mixture until consistently mixed
5. Portion mixture into oven-safe bowls or ramekins and top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, or whatever other things you want
*Protip: Put your ramekins on a cookie sheet so they're easier to put in and out of the oven
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned, let cool for about 15 minutes and serve

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cheese Popovers

These things are incredible! Whenever I want a bread side dish, this is the first thing that I think of. They're flavorful, have a delightful texture, and are really easy to make!

Cheese Popovers
12 servings
adapted from Nami-Nami

1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp butter, melted
0.5 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper
5 Tbsp coarsely grated cheddar cheese (or another of your choice)
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped dill or chives (optional)

1. Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, melted butter, salt, and pepper until smooth, then stir in cheeses and herbs. Chill at least 1 hour (and up to overnight)
2. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F with rack in upper third.
3. Butter muffin pan with some extra butter, then heat in oven until butter sizzles, about 2 minutes.
4. Gently stir batter, then divide among muffin cups (they will be about two-thirds full).
5. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Melting Cake

This picture really does not do this cake justice. Inside that thin crust is molten chocolate awesomeness. THE ABSOLUTE BEST molten chocolate cake I ever had was on a Carnival Cruise. On the last night my family asked a crew member for the recipe, and sure enough, they gave it to us! My dad scaled the recipe down from 1,000 servings, and here it is:

Chocolate Melting Cake
serves 8
Thank you Carnival Cruises for the recipe!!

17 oz semi-sweet chocolate (a bit less than 3 cups of chocolate chips)

1 cup (2 sticks) + 1 ½ tbs butter

6 medium eggs

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

1. Pre-heat oven to 392 degrees f

2. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave, cooking for 20 second intervals and stirring, or using a double boiler

3. Wisk half of the eggs with the sugar until smooth

4. Add flour and mix

5. Add remaining eggs

6. Combine chocolate mixture with egg mixture until well-mixed

7. Pour into individual ramekins/ceramic bowls/mugs

8. Bake for 13-15 minutes (don't overcook it!!)

9. Serve with ice cream or other topping (optional)

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

I originally used the seasonings on chicken, but it turns out they're fantastic on ribs too!

Sweet and Spicy Baby Back Ribs
serves 2-3

1 rack of baby back ribs
1/4 cup dry rub (below)
1/2 cup honey
1 tb. of apple cider vinegar

Dry Rub
2 tsp powdered garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1. mix in a bowl. This rub is so good, I made a 4x recipe and store it in a mason jar so that I don't need to mix it every time I want spicy honey chicken or ribs

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil (it makes cleanup infinitely easier)
2. Rub 1/4 cup of the dry rub all over the ribs
3. Place the ribs on the cookie sheet and bake for 2 1/2 hours
4. Mix 1/2 cup of honey with 1 tb cider vinegar and brush half of the mixture onto the ribs. Place back in the oven for 30 minutes
5. Brush remaining glaze on to ribs and serve

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pound Cake

This is some awesome pound cake. It vanished almost instantly.

Buttery Vanilla Pound Cake
serves about 10
modified from

3 cups sifted cake flour (or 2 1/2 cups + 2 tbs all-purpose flour mixed with 6 tbs corn starch)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
powdered sugar, berries, or caramel sauce for garnishing (optional)

1. Don't pre-heat :)
2. Generously butter and flour a pan of your choice (I used two 9 x 3 ish pans)
3. Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
4. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat until batter is creamier and satiny.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 180°C/350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Cool cake in pan, if you're patient.
6. Remove from pan. Top with powdered sugar, pureed and strained berries, caramel sauce, or whatever else you like (it's good plain too)

Perfect Chocolate Cake

At the moment, I think this is the perfect chocolate cake recipe. It's not as difficult as it looks, and it's completely worth the effort.

Perfect Chocolate Cake
serves about 12

First make this cake: (Though, I think it's best to make it a day ahead of time.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk (or if you're lame like me, pour 1 tb of lemon juice in to an empty 1 cup measure and pour milk to fill it, let it curdle for a few minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Then cut circles of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan. Place the parchment paper in to the pan (it will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan)

2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.

3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
5. When the cake is fully cool, use a cake leveler (like four bucks at a craft store!) to trim off the dome of the cakes to make them flat. Then cut each piece in half horizontally so that you have discs of cake.

6. Stack the four pieces on a plate with wax paper in between them. Cover the small tower of cake with saran wrap and place in the freezer for at least a few hours (ideally overnight). This is to keep the crumbs from messing up the frosting.

When the cake pieces are frozen, make the ganache:

1 1/2 heavy cream (12 oz)
12 oz. baking chocolate (or 2 cups of chocolate chips)
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. Sugar

1.Place the chocolate chips in a glass bowl.

2. Heat the cream, butter and sugar in a small pan. Once the cream is just barely simmering, pour it over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

3. Then whisk until perfectly smooth. Allow the ganache to cool another 10-15 minutes before assembling layers.

Pull the cake out of the freezer and put one disc on your serving plate. Spread 1/3 of the ganache evenly on that disc and place another on top of it. Repeat until you have four cake layers with ganache in between them.

Return to the freezer while you make the frosting:


4 cups powdered sugar (sifted, if you aren't lazy like me)
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/3-1/2 cup whole milk (start out with 1/3 cup of milk and add more milk to your desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Cream butter

2. add everything else, and mix.

Remove the cake from the freezer and spread about half of the frosting on top of the cake. Spread it out evenly over the top and let it spread on to the sides.

When the top is sufficiently frosted, use most of the remaining frosting to spread evenly on the sides. Smooth with a frosting spreader or large knife.

Use additional frosting to garnish as desired, or add fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, bacon, etc.

Powdered Chai Tea Mix

Why you should make some powdered Chai tea mix:
1. It's yummy
2. Other people will think it's yummy
3. It really couldn't be simpler to make
4. It looks cute in a mason jar
5. It has just enough caffeine to make you alert, but not enough to make you jittery
6. TSA will give you weird looks if you take it on planes (I know firsthand...)

Powdered Chai Tea Mix
makes a lot of servings (like 20ish)
adapted from

1 1/3 cup nonfat powdered milk
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup french vanilla non-dairy powdered creamer
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (instant iced tea works okay too)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix everything in a bowl. Stir 2-4 tablespoons of powder in to 1 cup of hot water.