Elaine’s Coffee Cake

I finally had a chance to make Elaine’s coffee cake, Chris’ favorite cake in the whole world. It’s actually really easy, and works very well in the bundt pan. I think there was a little too much cinnamon sugar on top, but Chris likes it that way. If you like coffee cake and chocolate, his Mom’s cake is for you.  🙂 My only change was to use a bundt pan instead of an angel-food cake pan.

Ingredients:

¼ lb butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
½ cup chocolate bits
Topping:
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts
Combine the three ingredients for the topping and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, add eggs. Sift flour, baking powder, baking
soda, and salt together. Add alternately with sour cream to butter and sugar mixture.
Add vanilla; fold in chocolate bits.
Spray bundt cake pan with Pam. Pour ½ of the batter into angel food bundt cake pan. Sprinkle with half the topping; add remaining batter and balance of topping.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Toothpick will come out clean from center of cake. When totally cooled, flip out of pan and flip again to place cinnamon-sugar-side-up.

Chewy Spice Cookies

My favorite cookie. These are soooooo delicious and spicy… and easy.
I used the recipe from Cooks Illustrated and followed it almost to the letter…almost.
My changes were to use light brown sugar instead of dark brown, and I used blackstrap molasses since that’s what I had in the pantry. It made 40 cookies and the baking times were spot on.

Ingredients

1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses (about 6 ounces), light or dark
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
  3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
  4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili (Soup?)

Second experiment was a recipe that came with the slow cooker… White Chicken Chili. It turned out more like white chicken chili SOUP, but it made a great soup! The salsa verde made it a bit hot (too hot for Chris), but Nanny and I liked it. I’m still waiting to hear if Dan liked it.

Soaking the beans overnight is a bit of a pain as that brings the total prep/cooking time to 16 hours, but it’s really not hard. The weird thing is sauteeing onions and garlic at 6am.  🙂 

The pain is that this recipe has to cook on HIGH for 3 hours and then set to simmer for 4 hours more. Luckily I can stop home during lunch to switch it, but it may be tough for people who can’t get home from work at lunch time.

Recipe:

½ pound white beans
cooking spray
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1½ cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
4 cups chicken stock, nonfat, low-sodium
1 pound chicken breast meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup prepared salsa verde (from a jar)
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoon coriander [I didn’t have this but I used dried cilantro instead]
½–¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1½ jalapeño peppers, cored, seeded and minced (optional)
1 cup cut white or yellow corn (thawed if frozen)
8 lime wedges

Directions:

Pick over beans and discard any stones or bits of dirt. Soak beans overnight (8 hours) in water to cover by 3 inches (4 cups of water for 1/2 lb of beans).  Drain and rinse.
Lightly coat the interior of the ceramic pot of the Slow Cooker with cooking spray. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes; transfer to pot. Place stock, beans and chicken in slow cooker. Add salsa, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, pepper and jalapeños. Cover and press the on/off button to turn the unit on. Set time to 3 hours and press High, once slow cooker switches to Warm, set timer for 4 hours and press Simmer. Slow cooker will automatically switch to Warm when cooking time has elapsed.
One half hour before serving, turn heat to High; stir in corn. 
Serve with wedge of lime [It tastes great if you squeeze a little fresh lime juice into it!]

Makes 8 cups

Adventures in Slow Cooking: Minestrone Soup

I bought a Cuisinart slow cooker (a ridiculous sale on Amazon made it irresistable). First test, minestrone soup for Mom, Cary, Nanny & Pop.
I used Robin Miller’s recipe and made a bunch of modifications. First was because my slow cooker (3.5 quarts) is much smaller than the standard ones, but I’m not cooking for a crowd, just 2. My slow cooker still made enough soup for 6.

It was excellent. I cooked some cheese tortellini before I served it and put it in the bottom of each bowl. Makes for a filling and delicious meal. It was seasoned just right, not too salty, but people who like salty soup can easily modify the recipe. Next time I’ll try spinach in the place of string beans. Yum!

My version:

  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 can cut green beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and drained [I skipped this the first time]
  • 16oz. bag of cheese tortellini (cooked separately)
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 
Sautee onions with a little garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent; add carrots and celery, cook for 5 more minutes.
In slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours [or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours].

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add string beans and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes; during this time cook the tortellini or other pasta. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle pasta into bowls then add soup and sprinkle cheese over top.