20 August, 2014  |   3 Comments

Wine Wednesday: Make This Wine Cake Recipe

Today, today I need some wine cake.
I think you might too.

Nora Lea wants the wine cake, but she can't have the wine cake

This buttery, dense yellow cake is a Napa Valley bake sale staple. It uses a yellow cake mix, but tastes so much more complex.

You don’t need fancy white wine for this — Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc is my go to wine for this recipe (it was $3.99).  I’d recommend staying away from something with any oakiness — or anything too floral.

Ingredients
Cake ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 three and a half ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Glaze Ingredients
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine

Directions
Assemble your ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan.

Combine the yellow cake mix,
box of instant vanilla pudding,
white wine,
vegetable oil and
all four eggs in a large bowl and
beat with a well-muscled arm or an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan.

There is wine cake batter in the bundt pan.

Put the cake pan in the 350 oven for 45-50 minutes.

Check out the side of this wine cake.

About 15 minutes before the cake is done (at the 30 minute mark), make the glaze.
Stir the butter with the water, sugar and white wine over medium heat and let simmer for roughly 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
Pour a buttery, burney glaze over the cake.

Be careful, for it is sugar and it will hurt you badly if it gets on your skin.
Remove from heat. Set aside.

Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

After the cake’s cool, poke holes in the bottom (top) of the cake.

Pour 1/2 of the glaze into and around the holes. Give the cake a little time to fully absorb the glaze.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish and drizzle the rest of the glaze on the top of the cake.

We used unsweetened whipped cream for the topping – because the cake is pretty sweet with that glaze, but we wanted a pretty white top.

Then you can bring it to bocce. Or bowling. Or church. Or to a community center where people might appreciate your expertise. Or that next city council meeting. Or that peaceful protest against the militarization of our police departments. Bring this cake to that.


It’s also handsome husband approved.

18 February, 2014  |   4 Comments

Slow Cooker Lemongrass Thai Beef Recipe

We put our own slow cooker twist on this fantastic recipe from Bon Appetit. Slow cookery Thai goodness — and customizable to boot — making it perfect for picky guests.

This recipe is a departure from our more “Americanny” slow cooker recipes, but with the rice noodles and the peanuts, we’ve got ourselves our very own tasty treat. Only confirming my theory that food processors make every food better, this recipe uses the magic machine for good. Make a dry pastey mix that covers the beef while it bubbles away in the slow cooker.

If rice noodles aren’t your thing, for you Paleo people, this is great in a lettuce wrap.

Ingredients
4 lemongrass stalks, ends trimmed and outsides peeled
4 cloves garlic chopped small
1 lime’s worth of juice (recipe calls for 4 kaffir lime leaves, but I don’t know where to find those)
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger (about 1 inch of ginger)
1 jalapeno, chopped
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into two inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 whole star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
8 oz. wide rice noodles
6 scallions, sliced into tiny rings
Lime wedges
1/2 cup smashed peanuts
Chopped cilantro

Directions
Take out your trusty food processor Process lemongrass, garlic, lime juice (or kaffir lime leaves), ginger, and jalapeno in a food processor until it gets like paste.

Salt and pepper the beef chunks. Brown the meat in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat, 10–15 minutes. Put the meat on a plate.

Add the lemongrass paste to the same pot you cooked the beef in, stirring often, until lemongrass gets soft, 5–8 minutes. Add star anise, cinnamon, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and beef with any juices. Add the beef and lemongrass mixture to the slow cooker. Add about 4-6 cups water. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

Right before serving, cook rice noodles.

Serve with lime wedges, smashed peanuts, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and Sriacha sauce.

The recipe says this can be made 3 days ahead and saved for later. I believe it.

Thai lemongrass beef is good for you

Bon appetit indeed.

16 February, 2014  |   Comment

Meal plan this week

What we're eating this week

It’s funny, how when the week is upside down,
when we don’t eat what the meal plan prescribed,
when the car is in the shop and
the dentist appointments get missed and
we argue and
cry all the way home and
are late,
It’s when our love is Most Fierce.

13 February, 2014  |   5 Comments

Recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Despite this being a slow cooker meal, there is a minor bit of finagling in this recipe.

Finagle.
It’s the word of my month.
February Finagling.

This entire month feels fussy, like the end of this recipe when you retrieve the chicken thighs from the chili, remove the skin and shred the chicken off the bone.

Between taxes, work, 40 handmade valentines (Insert Meaningful Look), weather that’s a drag and random childcare outages, the February Finagle is ON.

Good thing we have this cheap slow cooker black bean and chicken chili to come home to.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

P.S. Sorry Pinterest. I tried a bunch of photos but they all looked gross. Good thing it tastes something awesome.

Great thing about this recipe, if you’re squeezed for time in the morning, you can prepare the whole mess the night before. Soak the black beans and add the ingredients (except the stock) to a large storage bag. In the morning of the day you’re cookin’, dump the bag into the slow cooker and call it a day. Or the beginning of a day.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Ingredients
16 ounces dried black beans
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
6 chicken thighs – 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to sprinkle over the thigh meat
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Fixins
Mild Cheddar, shredded
Cilantro, destemmed and chopped
Green Onions, chopped small
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream
Hot sauce to taste

Directions
Right before you go to bed on the night before you want to make the chili, soak the black beans. Put the beans in a large bowl, fill the bowl with water up to about 1-2″ over the beans. Let the beans soak until the next morning.

The day of the cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Put them in the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic, onion, chili powder, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and stir the mix together.

Peel the skin back from the chicken thighs. Salt and pepper the thigh meat. Cover the thigh meat back up with the skin. Set the chicken thighs on top of the bean mixture.

Turn slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, if you can, stir through every 2 hours. If you can’t, that’s okay, I love you just the same.

Roughly 1 hour before serving, remove the thighs from the chili, shaking off any beans that stuck to the skin. Set the thighs carefully on a cutting board, let cool for about 15 minutes.

After they’re not going to burn you, peel the skin off of the thighs. Then, pull the meat off the bone and set aside. Chop the chicken into bits. Then, stir the chicken back through the slow cooker. Add the salt.

Just before serving, chop and set out all the fixins.

My bowl of chili has cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro and a splash of Cholula (proudly served at Dennys! Your bowl will probably look a little different.

(But I bet it’ll be super tasty.)

Do you like my beautiful eye shadow? I put it on to model this delicious bowl of Black Bean Chicken Slow Cooker Chili

10 February, 2014  |   2 Comments

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Sun dried tomato and feta stuffed chicken breasts

One of the perks of being a dissatisfied child of the 1980’s was the development of a rich fantasy life.

My fantasy life included dreaming of my life as a Baby Boom Keaton, a thirtysomething striver.

The oldest 10 year old in the universe, I dreamed of a career in advertising, of arguments with my handsome, of my bearded husband and dinner parties where everyone told the truth.
(P.S. Go me!)

Thirtysomething cast photo. I never saw the show but I was obsessed with the lifestyle.

Some of the most exciting parts of all that dreaming included the introduction of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese as mainstream ingredients. Add them to bagels! Add them to your mixed green salads! They’re exotic! They’re for yuppies!

As always, eager to jump on culinary trends, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own.

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stuffing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cups bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Directions
Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper them on the inside with 1/2 the pepper and 1/2 the salt (1/2 tsp, 1/2 tsp). Fold in half and put on a cookie sheet, set in the fridge while you make the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium high heat until they start to bubble, add the chopped onion and stir through – keep stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.

Add bread crumbs, stir through.
Add the garlic, stir through.
Add the sun dried tomatoes, stir through.
Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir those through too.

When the bread crumbs are a nice toasty brown color (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and let mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then stir through the shredded Parmesan cheese and the crumbled Feta cheese.

Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge. Unfold each breast, put about 3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the middle, and then fold the rest of the breast over the top of the stuffing. Put back in the fridge.

Wash out the pan you made the stuffing in (any extra stuffing is yours, by the way)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in the large, clean sauté pan.

Remove as many chicken breasts from the baking sheet that fit comfortably in the saute pan and put them in the sauté pan.

Closeup view of 80's Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Brown the stuffed chicken on each side, being careful not to spill too much stuffing out of the folded breast. It’s a little bit of a messy process, but it’s worth it.

Clean off the baking sheet and cover it with foil.

When the chicken breasts are browned, put them on the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.

After I put the chicken breasts in the oven, I heat up water to cook the angel hair pasta I serve alongside. (And now I have The Angel Song in my head. Thanks Great White.)

We served 80s Stuffed Chicken Breasts with this Girard Sauvignon Blanc. But I bet a light red would have also done the trick.
2012 Girard Sauvignon Blanc

My handsome bearded husband put on the Diana Krall Pandora Station, because there’s something about lady jazz that screams sophisticated eighties dinner party.

Truly, a testimony to knowing what you want out of life.

Pinot, no, you can’t have any.
Pinot wants to get some food. Nope. Nuh uh.

Happy 80’s Stuffed Chicken Day!
80's Stuffed Chicken Recipe

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