Crockpot Chili

The weather here in the great northwest took quite a turn last week. We went from weeks of sunny warm weather, to wet and much colder weather.

(I’m crazy to admit it, but I was kind of glad. I love me some fall foods.)

Anyways, I’ve been trying to crockpot my way back into cooking a meal each week, and this recipe was a super easy way to do it – while honoring a return to cold weather food.

(Oh, and I use ‘chili’ in the pop culture way – because apparently, according to Sheldon Cooper, real chili does not have beans in it. I learn so many interesting things from him.)

The Recipe:

Crockpot Chili

1 lb ground beef, browned

3/4 c onion, diced

3/4 c celery, diced

1 can green chilis

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 cans kidney beans, drained

1 can cannellini beans, with liquid

1 T chili powder

1 t dried parsley

1 t salt

1 t oregano

Place all ingredients in crockpot and and cook on low for 8-9 hours.

The Results:

So, I have to be upfront and honest about something. Hubs may have helped me out the night before by prepping all the ingredients for me. This was super helpful because, as he put it, it would’ve taken me 45 minutes to prep what took him only 20. (It’s a sad, but true fact.) Anyways, that basically just led to me just dumping everything in first thing in the morning – SO easy.

And it turned out really good.

Now, this is not a gourmet chili or a specialized chili, or anything fancy like that. This is a regular basic chili that I think everyone would like. It’s hearty and delicious – and is wonderful for leftovers.

(And everyone in the family enjoyed it – which is crazy and hardly ever happens around here.)

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Coffee Sugar Cookies

Do you ever see a recipe on your social media feed that is just undeniable?

Not only does it sound tasty, but it looks beautiful and you just know you can recreate it.

Yeah, that did not happen this week.

I saw an amazing recipe from I am Baker a couple weeks ago, pinned it, and waited until I could find a quiet, non-kiddo time to make it.  (Dreaming of gorgeous off-white round cookies, with perfect little sprinkles of black coffee throughout.)

You’ll have to scroll to the end to see what happened.  I bet you can guess.

The Recipe:

Coffee Sugar Cookies, adapted very slightly from I am Baker (mostly because it didn’t turn out exactly right)

1 c butter, softened

1 1/4 c sugar

2 eggs

2 T instant coffee

1 t vanilla

2 c flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and coffee until fully incorporated. In separate bowl add together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add your egg mixture to the butter mixture until well combined. Slowly add flour mixture until fully combined, do not over beat.

Chill this dough for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Allow cookies to cool completely.

The Results:

Let’s just start out by sharing the picture…

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Sad little misshapen cookies

Hmmm, I’m thinking something went wrong. (You should click on the link to I am Baker above to see what they actually should look like.)

I’m not sure if it was the use of instant coffee vs fresh-ground or what, but these did not look like the cookies of my dreams. Plus, my dough ended up really sticky – so I couldn’t roll it out as suggested or use a circle cookie cutter to make a perfect shape. Ooops.

But, but, but

In the good news column, they still tasted like I dreamed!

They were crisp and chewy and very much a grown up coffee-flavored treat (no kids allowed!).

So, my suggestion – head back to the original recipe…and let me know if your’s turn out better.

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

I’ll give you one good guess on whether or not this recipe was chosen by me or the kids.

Yep, we’re back to kid-friendly cooking.  And really, I don’t mind.  It’s generally really fun and this time, both boys got involved.

(Which didn’t make it easier… but they were both so proud of the finished product.)

The lady hung out snacking in her chair while I divided the boys into dry vs. wet ingredients.  We only had one major whisk of flour across the counter and one too fast KitchenAid blast of ingredients.  

I call that a win.

The Recipe:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, adapted from Oscar’s Gooey, Chewy PBJ Cookies

3/4 c flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t baking powder

1 c oats

1/4 c butter, softened

1/2 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 c oil

1 t vanilla

1/2 c jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment.

In medium bowl whisk all dry ingredients. 

In mixer, 

Toasted Coconut Pound Cake

We all have recipes we make, and we end up liking them.

We use words to describe them like tasty, delicious, and yummy.

But once the dish/food is gone, we don’t think about them or make them ever again.

This is NOT one of those recipes…

I was so excited to get a quiet and mostly empty house this weekend (boys outside playing and the lady napping upstairs). Even luckier was the fact that the morning was cool enough to risk heating up the oven. So, I pulled up my trusty Pinterest Recipe board, checked my ingredients in the house, and went to work on a recipe all for me.

The Recipe:

Toasted Coconut Pound Cake, adapted very slightly from Little Bits of 

3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature

2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c sugar

1 t vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down bowl. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with two 1/2-cup additions buttermilk, and beat until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/4 cups coconut.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 60 minutes. Let cool in pan the remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Tips and Tricks:

(I’m adding this section when I think of something helpful for you novice cooks out there – as there are things that I didn’t know when I first started cooking that I wish someone would’ve explained to me. For all you experienced cooks, please feel free to skip this part.)

If you don’t have buttermilk: take a Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and place in 1 cup measuring cup.  Add regular milk to the 1 cup mark and let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Substitute exactly for buttermilk.

To toast coconut: Preheat oven to 350.  Spread coconut out on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven and let toast for about 10 minutes, flipping and stirring coconut as needed.  Remove when most coconut is a golden brown color.

The Results:

Oh. My. Goodness. This was an amazing pound cake. Seriously amazing.

(I’m not lying when I say I actually had a dream about it.)

(And ‘was’ is the operative word.  It did not last long.)

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The cake itself is buttery, soft, and moist. The coconut is crispy, fresh, and adds a perfect depth of flavor.  

I really did not want to share with the rest of the family, but figured it probably wouldn’t be too good for me to finish it up by myself. Hubs completely agreed, and all the kids kept asking for it as their dessert, snack, breakfast, or whatever they could have it for.

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This recipe will definitely be made again. And again.

(I’m trying to decide if adding chocolate chips will be too much, or if it’s perfect how it is. I’ll keep you posted.)

Pregnancy Craving #4: Chocolate {Death by Chocolate Cupcakes}

What?

I’ve already listed chocolate as a pregnancy craving?

Ooops.  Oh, well.

Not feeling too guilty about it, though, since it is by far the strongest craving I’m having.  Baby Girl really likes her chocolate.  (And I kinda do, too.)

I feel, though, that I truly need to officially warn you before you embark upon this recipe:

This recipe is not for the faint of heart or any chocolate novices.  You many want to consult your doctor before ingesting this amazing chocolate treat.  It is not sweet.  It is not creamy.  It is dark.  It is rich.  It cures any craving in one decadent bite.  Milk, ice cream, and/or coffee is highly recommended to pair with this dessert.

(You think I’m kidding… but I am totally serious.)

The Recipe:

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/8 c flour

1/4 c unsweetened cocoa

1 1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 large egg (which I did not have and substituted 1 T white vinegar and 1 t baking soda)

1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c + 2 T whole milk

1/3 c strong brewed coffee

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c + dark chocolate chips, lightly tossed in flour

~~~~

1 c semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 c heavy cream

3 T unsalted butter

extra dark chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.  Add the dry ingredients.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling them about three-quarters full.  Drop dark chocolate chips into the batter – as many or as few as you would like.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

To make the frosting, melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl, over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  (I just microwaved mine in a glass bowl on high for 3-4 sets of 30 seconds, stirring between sets.)  Heat the cream until hot.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate.  Transfer to a bowl and cool to just warm.  Whisk in the butter until smooth.  Let sit until it reaches a spreading consistency, about 1 hour.  Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes.  Sprinkle them with chocolate chips.

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

The Results:

These were pretty simple to make.  I’m not sure if it was my egg substitute or something else, but my cupcakes ended up being pretty flat on top, with a small collapsed indent in the middle.  Now, you would think this would be disappointing… but it just made more room for the topping.

My only issue with the topping was waiting for that whole hour for the ‘frosting’ to set.  I’m also going to clarify that this really didn’t make what I’d consider a true frosting – it’s more like a thick ganache – and I am NOT complaining.  It was heavenly.

The overall flavor knocks you off your feet with chocolate (refer to warning above).  For me, it was utter perfection and exactly what I was hoping for.  I’m pretty sure, though, it’s not for everyone…

IMG_1813The cupcakes are not as rich as the topping, but they are still amazing – and the addition of some chocolate chips thrown in the batter, adds to each bite, contrasting with the lighter texture of the cake.

So, to sum up, if you LOVE chocolate (dark chocolate, that is), this will be the recipe for you.  It will definitely take you to your happy place.

(I’ve may have gone there several times this weekend… please don’t judge.  🙂  )

Key Lime Bars

I know, I know, I know.

I’ve disappeared again.

Sorry.  We’ve been dealing with what I like to call, “The Kindergarten Krud.”  It’s been hanging around our house for weeks – including 7 days of fever and no school for my oldest.

Let’s just say it hasn’t been fun.

Anyhow, I needed something bright and happy to make/eat around here, and the moment I saw these Key Lime Bars, I knew they fit the bill.

The Recipe:

Key Lime Bars, from Foodness Gracious

Crust

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 c sugar

1/4 c brown sugar, packed

2 c all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1/2 t fresh mint, chopped

Filling

4 eggs

1 1/2 c sugar

6 T flour

1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

2 t lime zest

1 drop of green food coloring

powdered sugar and fresh mint for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, salt and mint.  Beat on low-speed until the mixture just comes together.

Dump the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your finger tips to spread it out evenly all over the base of the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until slightly browned on top.

While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until light and pale, about 8 minutes.  Add the flour, lime juice, lime zest and green coloring. Whisk until completely blended.

Remove the baked base from the oven and immediately pour the filling mix over the hot crust.  Return to the oven and bake
for 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges and set in the middle.

Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar and more chopped mint.  To store lime bars, place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I made this dish for a get-together for my youngest’s toddler group parents.  Not only was I excited to be back in kitchen baking, but I was excited to get out of the house.  Without kids.

(Seriously, I pretty much was stuck in our house for a week.  Stir-crazy can’t even describe how I was feeling.)

It wasn’t a hard recipe – though I have to admit that I got awfully tired of juicing key limes – I must’ve done at least 20.  Oh, and I’d suggest doing that part before you make the crust, because it takes a while.

I promise it’s well worth it.

These tart-sweet treats hit all the right taste buds, if you ask me.  The crust is buttery, chewy, with a little crunch – and the filling is puckery tart (in the best way possible).  With the sprinkle of sweet powdered sugar, it’s a lovely combination.

The other parents seemed to enjoy them, and Hubs said they were even great for breakfast.

And they certainly brightened up a pretty dreary couple of weeks around here.

Can’t ask for more than that.

Lemon Bundt Cake with Raspberry Filling

Sometimes, you just need to say, “Screw the diet.”

(Or maybe that’s just us.)

And if you are going to be bad… might as well be really, really, really bad.

(Yes, three ‘reallys’.)

I mean seriously, if I was going to cheat, I was going to do it right.  I would go the distance and fully commit to the dark side, in order to be completely and utterly satisfied with my bad choice.

And that’s where this cake came in.

The Recipe:

Lemon Bundt Cake with Raspberry Filling (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Filling (from GroupRecipes.com)

2 – 12 oz packages of frozen raspberries (not packed in syrup)

1 1/3 c water

1 1/2-2 c sugar (to your taste)

2 T of lemon juice

5-6 T of cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 c of water

In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice.  Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.  Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve. Return the strained mixture to the heat.

Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water.  Whisk the slurry into the raspberry mixture.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely, stirring every once in a while.

It will take awhile to set up. It will thicken like a jelly. May stir it for easier spreading on cake.

Cake

3 lemons, zest grated and saved, then juiced for 3 T juice (save the remaining for glaze)

3 c all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 t salt

3/4 c lowfat buttermilk

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

18 T unsalted butter, room temperature

2 c sugar

Take out eggs and butter about an hour before baking, so they can come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and flour 12 cup Bundt cake pan.

Mince lemon zest into a fine paste (about 2 T).  Combine zest and juice in a bowl; set aside to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bow.  In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk.  In small bowl, gently which eggs and yolk to combine.  In standing mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Reduce to medium speed and add 1/2 of eggs, mixing until incorporated.  Repeat with remaining eggs and scrape down sides.  Reduce to low speed; add about 1/3 of dry mixture and 1/2 of buttermilk mixture – mixing until just incorporated.  Repeat with another 1/3 of dry and the rest of the wet ingredients.  Scrape bowl and add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Mix until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir a few times to make sure everything is incorporated well.

Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 of batter into Bundt pan.  Use a large spoon to scoop out a well in the middle of the batter.  Fill the well with the raspberry filling – it’s okay to overflow a little.  Add the remaining batter, thoroughly covering the filling.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes back clean except for filling.

Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Invert cake directly onto rack.

Glaze

2-3 T lemon juice

1 T buttermilk

2 c powdered sugar

Whisk 2 T lemon juice and remaining ingredients until smooth, adding more lemon juice until glaze is thick but still pourable.

Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour.  Pour remaining glaze evenly over top and continue to cool until room temperature, at least 2 hours.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

So, this was a joint effort – Hubs and me, banding together for the wrongness that was to be.  He was in charge of the filling and glaze, and I took over the cake.

(Yes, I wanted to be in charge of the part that included 18 – yes 18, tablespoons of butter.  Oh, it was so wrong!)

Hubs made the filling several hours beforehand, to make sure it set up pretty firm – and he even chilled it in the fridge for a bit.  When we used it, it was about the consistency of thick jam.

This is only the beginning of the raspberry goodness. I went around one more time with more on top.

It was actually quite fun doing this with Hubs (for the most part).  It could’ve been because we were working well together… or it could’ve been because we were giddy with excitement, thinking of our upcoming treat.

And when it came out of the oven, looking all golden and delicious, smelling like a lemon dream; I’m pretty sure we were drooling.  It was very hard to wait the several hours for it to cool completely.

But when we finally got to eat… holy smokes was it good.

The lemon cake was very light and just full of lemon flavor.  And, as we all know, lemon and raspberry are always a fantastic combination, so the filling was a perfect complimentary taste.  It wasn’t too sweet, which I was worried about.  The tang of the lemon and tart of the raspberry balanced out all that sugar.

Between sharing with the neighbors and serving our boys, we actually kept our cake consumption fairly moderate.

But, boy oh boy, did we enjoy every bite.

(And went right back to our healthy eating plan – no damage done.)

It was so worth it.