Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

I have no idea where my Mom got this recipe, but it has always been one of my favorites. It is easy, super moist and most importantly, delicious. I ended up only being able to find Sugar Free-Fat Free pudding mix in the actual cake (I used the regular pudding in the frosting) and I didn't taste a difference. If you are in the mood for a moist, light cake (and who isn't?), whip this one up, I promise you won't be disappointed!

Chocolate Pistachio Cake
Makes one 10-inch bundt cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 package instant pistachio pudding
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. water
4 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. chocolate flavored syrup

Combine cake mix, pistachio pudding, orange juice, water, eggs and oil in a large mixing bowl. Blend to moisten, then beat 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. Pour about 3/4 of the batter into a well greased bundt or tube pan. Add chocolate flavored syrup to remaining batter, mixing well. Pour over batter in pan.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Pistachio Cake Topping
1 1/2 c. milk
1 envelope Dream Whip
1 pkg. pistachio instant pudding

Whip until thick, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Let me just start out by saying that I lived in Denver, Colorado for six years and found this little cafe right by my work that had the most amazing chicken tortilla soup. I have tried many other soups elsewhere and nothing comes close to that little cafe. For years I have attempted to make my own version and while this still is not the same, it is quick, easy and really tasty. It is a slow cooker recipe, but if you don't have one, it can be made on the stovetop as well. It freezes well and fed my husband and I for several meals!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
8 servings

1 lb chicken breasts (can be thawed or frozen)
1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Place all ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Shred the chicken breasts and stir them back into the spoon. Optional toppings: cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marscarpone Chocolate Toffee Bars

My friend Amelia made these delectable cookie bars for a book club I went to a couple weeks ago. I asked her for the recipe right away. These bars are easy to make and just a heads up - they are addictive. Do not make them without having people to share them with or you might make yourself ill, as I did, by consuming them in mass quantities over the past few days. Seriously, I need to start choosing some healthy things to post on here or I am going to be 15 lbs heavier by years end. And just to let everyone know, I do make normal, healthy meals for my family, but I love to bake. So maybe I will just need to up my time at the gym and share my treats with everyone I know, just leaving one (or two) for myself.

Marscapone Chocolate Toffee Bars
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

1 lb. refrigerated Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
2 1.4 oz. Heath or Skor bars, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 c. (8 oz) marscapone cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. sliced, toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 350. Place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper large enough for the paper to fall over the outside of the pan. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine the cookie dough, vanilla and one chopped toffee bar. Using damp fingers, press the cookie dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool for 15 minutes.

Place the chocolate chips in a large glass measuring cup with the vegetable oil. Microwave for 2 minutes or until melted. Cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in marscapone cheese until smooth. Using a spatula, spread chocolate mixture evenly over cooled cookie dough. Sprinkle the remaining chopped toffee bars and toasted almonds over the chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm.

Pull bars out of pan by parchment paper and cut. Serve at room temperature.

*To toast almonds place on a cookie sheet at 350 for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned.

*Option: The original recipe calls for the bars to be made in a 7 X 11 pan, which makes larger, more rich bars.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Confections of a Closet Master Baker

I love the library. I actually wanted to volunteer there in high school during my free time (I never did, but I actually wanted to). I used to buy all of my books, but after moving so many times during and after college, I decided I was sick of moving them all. Or maybe I was sick of hearing my husband complain about carrying the 100 lb boxes. Regardless, since we are currently living on one salary so I am able to stay home with my son, buying books is a luxury I can no longer afford.

I went to the library with my son last week. As anyone who has ever had a toddler knows, these kind of trips need to be short and sweet. As I passed the new release shelf on my way out, a book titled Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado caught my eye. It looked like an easy, fun read and was exactly that. Luckily I had it in my purse when I went to a Doctor's appointment that afternoon and even though my appointment was at 3:40 pm, I didn't see the Doctor until almost 5 pm...and I wasn't even mad because this book saved my sanity. It was a funny and refreshing look at a woman who leaves her high profile career in Hollywood to open a bakery in rural Vermont. She relates much of her life to baking throughout the cook, plus it has several great sounding recipes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisp

Since joining Tuesdays with Dorie and starting this blog, I have gained 6 lbs. I have a gigantic sweet tooth and having all of these goodies in the house means trouble. I have made a promise to myself to only make these recipes when I actually have someone (preferably, many people) to share them with.

This Cran-Apple Crisp was a breeze to make and tasted delicious. I made it before I had to head out to an organizer meeting for a local Mom's group I belong to. Although I didn't have any at the meeting, everyone gave it rave reviews. I was hoping to get mine home and have it with a little vanilla ice cream, but I didn't get home until late. Since I just couldn't wait until tonight to try it, I had a little bit this much for self control. The topping is delicious and the cranberries provide a nice, tart addition to the mix. Hopefully my husband feels the same way about it so it is all gone by tonight!

Monday, November 2, 2009

New Mexican Pizza

Oftentimes when I go out to eat, I try to figure out the ingredients in whatever I am eating in order to see if I can try making it at home. My Mom started me on this and when I used to go out to eat a lot (i.e. before we had a baby and subsisted on only one salary), it seemed like I tried to dissect everything I was eating. Needless to say, our nights out at nice restaurants are limited these days, but I seem to continue to do it even with the simplest of meals, as evidenced by the pizza below. It is one of mine and my husband's favorite pizza.

New Mexican Pizza
One pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
15 oz. can black beans
Cooked chicken strips or 1 cooked chicken breast, cut into strips
Fresh salsa fresca (store bought or homemade)
Mozzarella (to your liking)
Cheddar (to your liking)
Sliced pickled jalapenos (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Rinse the black beans and place in a food processor. Add a little bit of water and puree until smooth. Spread the black bean mixture on the pizza as you would tomato sauce. Top with salsa fresca, chicken, jalapeno slices, and both cheeses. Cook according to the pizza dough directions. Serve with a side of sour cream.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing

I made this bundt cake for a picnic I went to a few weeks ago. It was super moist and had a nice, chocolatey, coffee flavor. Some of the reviews I read online did not care for the mocha frosting, but I liked it. One reviewer said a piece of this cake would be excellent with a glass of milk and I could not agree more. It is easy to make and most, if not all, of the ingredients are pantry staples.
Chocolate-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing
Adapted from Bon Appetit
12-16 servings

1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp. instant espresso powder, divided
2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. (packed) light brown sugar, divided
1 c. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
(Note: regular sized chips fall to the bottom of the cake)
1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350. Spray bundt cake pan with cooking spray. Whisk boiling water, cocoa powder and 2 tsp. espresso powder in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 1 tbsp. vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat mixture until smooth. Beat in half of flour mixture, then cocoa mixture. Add remaining flour mixture; beat to blend. Fold in 1 cup chocolate chips. Transfer batter to bundt pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool the cake 10 minutes, invert cake onto rack, and cool 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, stir 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. espresso powder and 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add butter and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips, stir until butter and chocolate melt. Cool slightly. Using spoon, drizzle icing over cake. Cool completely, slice and serve.