Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad

I'm obsessed with feta cheese. I mean the kind of obsessed where I buy it by the pound at Whole Foods on a regular basis. Ok, so I'll be honest - a pound of feta lasts me a good, long time, but it still sounds cool to say I buy it a pound at a time. This salad has feta in it, but don't too excited unless you add more than the recipe states. Of course, I'm not saying you have to follow the recipe as written. Just don't get mad that I put feta in the title when you only get one tablespoon per serving. I got this recipe from Cooking Light, and I was smitten as soon as I the ingredient combination. I'd describe this salad as something you'd find on the bar at Whole Foods. It's an intriguing combination of flavors, it breaks outside the box just a little bit, and it leaves you feeling fresh instead of gross after you've eaten it. So there. Decide from that and the ingredient list below if this is something you want in your life.

Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 cups coarsely chopped tomato
1/4 cup (1 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Prepare grill or grill pan.
Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool; cut each eggplant slice into quarters. Combine eggplant, tomato, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss gently.

Yield: 4 servings

The 7" Santoku Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection is my favorite for eggplant. It gets right through the skin because of its sharp blade, but it's also large enough to keep your hands at a safe distance. Cutting things with knives that aren't the right size (example: baby carrots with a 7" Santoku) is a great way to injure yourself in the kitchen. And by injure, I mean horrify.

Look at that Grill Pan go! This is perfect for people like me who - cough, cough, um, well - don't own a grill. Also, how handy is it to just pull a pan out when you want fresh grilled corn? I'm piling my cooked eggplant on a Dots Salad Plate from the Simple Additions Collection.

The Large Cutting Board across the sink is a pretty normal site in my kitchen. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I lack counter space. Thank you, Large Cutting Board, for being my hero. my tomatoes are in an Easy Read Measuring Cup, and my red wine vinegar is in its baby brother, the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup. I've never had anyone say he or she didn't love these cups after purchasing them. They're incredibly handy, and they nest inside one another for easy storage. I've got feta in a Measuring Cup and olive oil in and Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Then there's balsamic vinegar in the Scoop & Measure plus spices in a Pinch Bowl. See those tomato cores on the board? Thanks to the Core & More, I didn't waste half my tomatoes trying to cut around them.

Ok, so my "remaining ingredients" are whisked together in a Stainless Mixing Bowl just to make sure everything's incorporated before I add the eggplant, tomatoes, and feta. Since eggplant is pretty absorbent, this seems like a good call. The recipe says to cool the eggplant, so I've got it laid out on the Cooling Rack. Like the Large Cutting Board, this fits across the sink instead of demanding counter space. Love that feature!

Stack a few pieces of eggplant, make sure your fingers are out of the way, and cut into quarters. Don't try to be a hero and do too many slices at once, or you'll have a blade vs. flesh accident. Grilled eggplant is slippery, and you're asking for trouble if you get crazy with it. Again, I'm using the 7" Santoku from the Forged Cutlery Collection for all my eggplant sliciness.

Ok, so here's what people are saying about this salad:
"The blend of flavors blew my mind - I mean, eggplant, tomato, and feta - aaahhh!" - Jenny C.
"I always thought I liked eggplant, and this confirmed it. I do, in fact, like eggplant." - Jenny-Lyn
"I laughed, I cried, I decided to make it again sometime." - J. Carden

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookies 'n Cream Scones

Sometimes I'm in the mood to bake, and there's nothing that can get my mind off of it. Yes, I'm a little obsessive that way. Once my mind is locked on something, it's locked. I was the kid who used to drive my parents crazy once I got an idea in my head, but now I'm the adult who can just act on whatever idea I have - like making cookies 'n cream scones because I happened across a recipe online. I made something involving Oreos a couple of weeks ago, and that left me with half a package unused. This is dangerous. You know how you can leave something in the pantry untouched for months, but then if you get started on it, it's like game over? That's how I am, and that's why I don't keep junk food in my house. I put the Oreos in the freezer, but that's not much of a solution because frozen Oreos happen to be every bit as good as thawed ones, especially if you add a glass of milk. What am I saying? Is it even possible to eat these things without milk? Ok, I digress... Anyway, I needed to use the stupid cookies to avoid eating them. That's when I saw this recipe from Amandeleine, one of the many cooking blogs I follow. Scones full of crushed up Oreos and white chocolate chips? Yes, please!
(Pictured above: Cooling Rack, Large Serving Spatula, Rectangle Stone, Medium Round Stone)

Cookies 'n Cream Scones

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup crushed Oreos
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Additional cream for brushing the scones (about 3 tablespoons)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet or stone.
2. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, mix 1 cup heavy cream and egg together with a fork. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
3. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture. Cut together. Stop mixing when the butter is mostly mixed in. You want to have small butter chunks that are about the size of peas.
4. Pour the cream and egg mixture over the flour/butter mixture. Stir until everything just comes together. Don’t over mix. Add in the Oreo chunks and white chocolate. Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it by hand just until it comes together.
5. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on surface. Divide the dough into two large pieces. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a circle. Cut it into wedges. Repeat with the other piece. Place scones on baking sheet and lightly brush with additional cream.
6. Bake the scones for 15-18 minutes, or until the scones are firm. Transfer scones to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
This recipe is from Amandeleine, and she got it from someone else who got it from someone else.

I always lay ingredients out before I start a recipe. This just keeps me from feeling flustered, especially when I'm making something for the first time. It's part of my obsessive personality, I guess, but I'm not some weirdo who can't stand to do it any other way. So what do we have going on here? Lots of things... Stainless Mixing Bowls, Measuring Spoon Set, 2-Cup Prep Bowls, Pinch Bowls, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Measuring Cup Set, and the Manual Food Processor. Of course, as always, I have a Large Cutting Board underneath. You'll see why in a second.

I used to stay away from most recipes that involved cutting butter into flour. Why? Because it's annoying and difficult to do if you don't have the right tool! Confession: What you see here is my first time using the Pastry Blender. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I never saw a use for it because I never cut butter into things. Then I made something (why can't I remember what it was?), and I got so annoyed using a fork that I ordered a Pastry Blender that day. Fast forward, and this is the result. Ok, this thing is amazing. Now I'll make up for lost time by making all things pastry blendery in the near future.

This is why I measure ingredients on the Cutting Board. I'm a messy, messy girl when it comes to the kitchen. I just figure it's easier to make a mess and wipe it up than to be oh-so-careful while measuring, mixing, and pouring. This is the Manual Food Processor, and it's awesome. Chop meat, cookies, vegetables, anything you want!

Sometimes a recipe says to do something by hand, and that means "but with a tool." In this case, I think it's just talking about diving in and getting dirty. At least I hope that's what it means, or I look really stupid right now. Ok, so the bottom line is that this dough looks amazing. I mean, hello - cookies. white chocolate chips. COOKIES! Of course, this is a Stainless Mixing Bowl because I'm in love with the entire set.

The original recipe says I'm supposed to cut the dough in triangles, but I enjoy the Biscuit Cutters for things like this. Just look at how pretty those babies are over there on the Rectangle Stone! I used the Flour/Sugar Shaker to dust the Large Cutting Board, and it's now the perfect work surface for my dough-cutting skills. (Note: Don't overwork the dough... shape and reshape once max, and then just turn anything left into separate scones that are just happy to be invited to the party.)

Use the Chef's Silicone Basting Brush to give these a little hit of cream, and they're ready to go in the oven! See this monster here? He's the result of leftover dough being piled into one beautiful mound of awesome.

Why this picture? Because I set the timer incorrectly. These are supposed to bake 15 minutes, but I accidentally set them for 1 hr. 50 minutes. After about 25 minutes, I realized my mistake and pulled them out of the oven. This picture illustrates the perfection that is Pampered Chef Stoneware. Even though I baked these almost twice as long as stated, they didn't scorch. They ended up a bit more done than I wanted, but they certainly didn't ruin. The outsides were a little brown, but the insides were still moist and delicious, just like a scone should be. Just call me an authentic scone maker. I still have some Oreos in the freezer, so maybe I'll try again because practice, after all, makes perfect.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Custard

I love how recipes are shared among people. I got this from my cousin who got it from a friend who got it from a magazine. If a recipe is given to you by someone else, you can generally trust it. If it's given to you by someone else and it involves yellow squash and goat cheese, you're safe to stop everything, get your ingredients together, and start cooking. Summer squash is a staple here in the South, and this is my favorite way to prepare it. Unlike most squash casseroles which involve entire sticks of butter, cups of cracker crumbs, and insane amounts of cheese, this dish is light and healthy. In fact, calculated on the current Weight Watchers program, this is just four points per serving. Oh, and this isn't a casserole... It's a custard.
(This is shown in the Mini-Baker from the Stoneware Collection.)

Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Custard

4 cups sliced yellow squash
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 oz. goat cheese
3 tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place squash and onion in a large saucepan in enough water to cover them. Cook over medium-high heat, covered, until the squash are tender, about 15 minutes. Strain well and mash slightly with potato masher. Add the goat cheese and butter while still hot, and stir until melted. Mix in the cornmeal, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, pepper, and dill. Pour into a small baking dish or 6 individual ramekins. Bake 40-45 minutes (35 for ramekins) or until golden brown on top.

Sometimes I find slicing vegetables to be relaxing, and I think the main reason is simply the knives I use. I'm head over heels for the Forged Cutlery Collection, and my favorite is the 5" Santoku. I'm measuring the squash into an Easy Read Measuring Cup, and everything is on the Large Cutting Board.

The Veggie Wedger is every bit as good as you'd hope. Line up whatever you want sliced, push the handles, and you've got beautiful, even pieces. Lemons, limes, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. It's awesome!

If you've followed my blog long, you know how I am about ingredient preparation. I think this is second only to having high-quality tools for turning cooking from something you have to do to something you anticipate. By setting everything out before you begin, you make sure you actually have everything (ever started a cake only to realize you're out of eggs?), and you make assembly quick and easy. Plus, let's just be honest - it looks cool to have all this stuff measured by the stove. Milk: Easy Read Measuring Cups. Goat cheese, salt and pepper: Pinch Bowls. Eggs: 2-Cup Prep Bowls. Sugar: Measuring Spoon Set. Cornmeal: Measuring Cup Set. All of these fun things, along with a hunk of butter, are laid out on the Cutting Board.

When the Pampered Chef unleashed the Mix 'n Chop on the world, consultants didn't know what we were in for. This thing immediately went on backorder because people went nuts! It's the most incredible tool ever for chopping sausage or ground beef while cooking, mashing potatoes, making guacamole, and preparing a squash/onion mixture for a fabulous custard. I don't know that there's anything it can't do. I'm using the 8-Qt. Stockpot from the Executive Cookware Collection here. I could go on and on about how great this cookware is, but I'll just say this: it's really good cookware you'll have for a lifetime.

Pour everything in the Mini-Baker, bake it for 45 minutes, and get ready to be amazed. Stoneware is the only thing I use when I cook in the oven, and you can see why. Even baking, no hard edges, a beautiful presentation, etc. The Mini-Baker is the perfect size for a can of cinnamon rolls, roasted new potatoes, and all those dip recipes you make for the Super Bowl.

Make this. Trust me, you will have no regrets. Unless you make it to share with people... then you might regret that you didn't keep the entire pan for yourself.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Sesame-Crusted Tuna

I think this is my favorite fish recipe. Honestly, this is so good it might make you scream. Tuna crusted in sesame seeds is excellent, but combine it with an amazing sauce, and you've got pure magic. I promise. My friend Lee Anna made this with me, and she was as blown away. This recipe's simplicity is trumped only by its awesomenicity, and that's why I'll never order tuna in a restaurant again. Bold statement? Yes, but that's how I roll. Some people call me Jenny; others call me Bold Tuna Statement Maker.

I got this recipe from Me-Myself-and-Pie, one of my favorite food blogs. You can't tell by most of my posts, but I'm addicted to Cooking Light magazine. It's true, and Me-Myself-and-Pie is all Cooking Light all the time. Combine great recipes with hilarious commentary, and you've got me sitting up all night deciding what to make next. It's a problem.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Ponzu Sauce

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Sliced green onions (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped green onions
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/4 teaspoons prepared wasabi paste
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

Combine sauce ingredients, and set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle tuna with salt. Combine sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Dredge tuna in sesame seeds. Add tuna to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Garnish with green onions, if desired. Serve tuna with sauce.

Note: I use more sesame seeds than the recipe states, but I'm kind of crazy.

This is wasabi, sold on the Asian food aisle of the grocery store. It's just like what you get with your sushi, but it's powdered, and you get to mix it yourself. I repeat, it's just like what you get in a restaurant... That means you need to be careful. Don't touch your eyes, mouth, etc. if you've got this on your fingers, or you'll hate me. That would be sad. I'm measuring this into a Prep Bowl with an Adjustable Measuring Spoon. The wasabi needs a few minutes to become paste, so a Prep Bowl or Pinch Bowl is ideal to just put the lid on while prepping other ingredients.

The new Microplane Zester is blowing my mind. I was excited when I saw it introduced in March, but then I started using it and realized it is truly one of the most handy kitchen tools ever. The metal part is short enough that you have complete control, and the handle is wide enough for a good, solid grip. I'm zesting the lemon rind into a Small Batter Bowl. Love. It.

This sauce is seriously going to rock your world. Make it for any fish/sushi dish you want, and you might even want to consider being "that person" who shows up to a restaurant with your own sauce. People do it with salad dressing all the time, right? Moving on... Soy sauce is in the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, and rice vinegar and brown sugar are in Measuring Spoons. Then I've got ginger (yes, I know it's not fresh, but my fresh ginger was less than stellar when I made this) and honey the Adjustable Measuring Spoons. The orange was freshly cut with the 5" Utility Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection, and the Mini Mix 'n Scraper was a pro on mixing wasabi paste. Everything is on the Cutting Board in an attempt at keeping my stove top clean. Key word: Attempt.

I told Lee Anna the Juicer was amazing, and I was pleased to see that she, too, found it to be the world's best tool for juicing all things citrus. All I can say is that the lemons and oranges we used didn't even know what hit them by the time we finished.

Lee Anna: master tuna salter. This is Coarse Sea & Himalayan Salt from the Pampered Pantry, and it's what takes recipes to the next level. The Bamboo Grinder not only looks nice, but it makes quick work of salt or pepper. Notice the Large Cutting Board across the sink, doubling my tiny kitchen's counter space.

Mix the sesame seeds, and dip the fish! Each fillet needs a little T.L.C. to get a good coating, so just be patient. Your efforts will be rewarded in about, oh... three minutes on each side. I've got my sesame seed mixture on a Small Square Plate from the Simple Additions Collection. I love these plates for jobs like this because the raised sides keep contents from flying everywhere.

The 10" Executive Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection is the perfect size for four tuna fillets, and its nonstick coating (not Teflon, I promise) means no additional oil is needed. Two teaspoons of oil for this whole recipe? That's a win. TheSlotted Turner's beveled edge keeps the beautiful coating from ripping off.

These are every bit as good as they look. So try this recipe, understanding that it's healthy, healthy, healthy. Then make chocolate bread pudding to make up for all the fat and calories you missed. That's a Dots Dinner Plate from the Simple Additions Collection, by the way.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

What defines a friend? That's a deep question, but I'll give you one characteristic I enjoy: someone who sends me recipes to try. There's something about it when someone says, "Jenny, this made me think of you, so you should try it." Big. Warm. Fuzzy. That, my friends, is how I acquired this mind-blowingly awesome feast of chocolate and peanut butter goodness. My sweet friend Holly went on a send-Jenny-a-bunch-of-fun-recipes spree, and now all followers of Real Kitchen. Real Life. benefit. Thanks, Holly! You can tell from the picture these are worth making. In fact, you should stop whatever you're doing, buy the ingredients, and get to work.

Peanut Butter Cups

3 cups chocolate
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt

Place liners in 12 muffin cups.

Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate in a double boiler. Remove it from the stove, and turn off the heat. Paint a layer of chocolate in each cup, liberally covering the bottoms and sides. Set the double boiler aside, and save remaining chocolate.

Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while making the peanut butter filling.

Combine peanut butter, crushed graham crackers, powdered sugar, and salt. Stir until well-combined.

Return the double boiler to the stove, and heat over medium-high. Melt remaining 1 1/2 cups of chocolate.

Remove the muffin pan from the fridge, and divide peanut butter mixture among the cups, smoothing it to fill the bottoms. Each will take about 1 1/2 tbsp. of this fluffy, fabulous filling.

Using a spoon, dip chocolate from the double boiler into each cup, and be generous! Smooth the tops, or create a swirl (whatever floats your boat).

Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to an hour.

Make history.


This recipe is originally from Design Sponge

What's more fun than making sweet treats? Making them with friends! Holly and Kathleen came over to try these with me, and all three of us were pleased with the simplicity of the recipe and the great result. Kathleen is filling the Stoneware Muffin Pan with foil liners.

She'd heard of the Measure-All Cup, but this was Kathleen's first experience with it. All I can say is that she left a huge fan of this tool, the standard for measuring all things sticky, creamy, or gross. She used the Skinny Scraper to fill it up, and the rest is history.

Holly is the person who designed my blog, so you know she's super fun. Not only does she design well, but she melts chocolate like a pro. Put a little water in the 3-Qt. Saucepan, place the Double Boiler on top, and stir occasionally. This double boiler has been upgraded, so that's why it looks different on my website. You can't tell, but Holly's using the Mini Mix 'n Scraper to stir.

Graham cracker crumbs in the Manual Food Processor! I promise this tool is every bit as good as it seems, and it's even got a silicone grip on the bottom to keep it from sliding around.

Painting with chocolate! Holly's using the Chef's Silicone Basting Brush to get a good, thick coat on each liner. You don't realize how handy a basting brush is until you don't have one. This one is perfect, and it goes in the dishwasher for easy cleanup, even when it's full of chocolate.

Kathleen is using the 5" Strainer to sift powdered sugar into a Stainless Mixing Bowl. For small amounts, this can't be beat. This is about to become peanut butter filling. AAAHHH!!!

The Medium Scoop turned out to be the perfect size for to fill the chocolate cups. A leveled off scoop for each cup was what we ended up using, and there was just enough filling. Sorry, but there's not any leftover after that, so don't get ideas about snacking on the filling. In fact, I had to use the Mix 'n Scraper to get everything out of the bowl and stretch it to fill all twelve cups.

Each cup then gets a huge serving of chocolate to top it off, and boom! Recipe complete. Refrigerate these, and they're ready for consumption in less than an hour. If you're super excited, stick them in the freezer instead. Yes, the Stoneware Muffin Pan can go in the freezer.

These are full-size peanut butter cups. There's no playing with this recipe; it separates the men from the boys. Sure, I could only eat half a cup, but that just means I get to save the other half for later, right? I've got so many ideas for making these again, and I can't wait for an occasion that justifies the effort. Otherwise, I'll end up with twelve huge peanut butter cups in my house, and that has disaster written all over it.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing

I'm going to try really hard to avoid rambling. There's just so much I can say about these cupcakes, but I realize not everyone wants to hear me go on and on about the moist cake, the rich icing, or this combination of chocolate and peanut butter that I truly believe could be the answer to world peace. This recipe is originally for a cake: This Cake. I've spoken before about Baked Perfection being the first food blog I followed, so I'll spare you the details of why I think it's great. This recipe speaks for itself. Why am I posting it as cupcakes instead of cake? Well, I made these for my friend Shanisty's engagement party, and I have a thing about cakes at parties. The presentation falls apart after the cake starts getting cut, and some poor soul inevitably gets strapped to cake duty when he or she wants to be on stand outside sipping wine duty. Hence cupcakes: The perfect solution. Besides, it's not hard to get rid of leftover cupcakes, but you're sometimes hard-pressed to find someone who will take home slabs of half-eaten cake.

Here are a couple of recipe notes: When I make this as a cake, I do the ganache included in the recipe. As cupcakes, that's a little difficult, so I grate chocolate over the top. Ganache is better, so I might play with my decorating technique next time to accommodate liquid chocolate. Sold!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle ( Like Deb, I skipped this)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Like Deb, I put the cake layers in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up before frosting)
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Icing
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
Note: I made these as cupcakes, so I omitted everything for the glaze. I added chocolate for grating and nibbling while grating. This makes one huge cake or 40 cupcakes, so don't do anything crazy like double your recipe because you want cupcakes for thirty people. Also, the peanut butter icing makes plenty for decorating generously. No one gets jipped here; this recipe is a win.

I remember the first time I took a bite of cocoa without realizing it wasn't sweet. I was trying to be sneaky, but my mom got the last laugh when she walked in the kitchen to find me gagging and washing my mouth under the faucet. Fortunately, this recipe blends cocoa with plenty of sugar to please the palate. You know what I love about the Measuring Cup Set? A 3/4 cup measurement and a leveler tool. I'm adding the cocoa to other dry ingredients in a Stainless Mixing Bowl.

This is a very busy recipe, but don't be intimidated. My prep area only looks like this because I'm messy. Once you get things going, you'll realize this really is a simple cake to make; it just has a lot of ingredients. Dry ingredients: Stainless Mixing Bowl with Stainless Whisk. Sour Cream: Measure-All Cup. Water, Oil, Vinegar: Easy Read Measuring Cups and Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup. Eggs: 2-Cup Prep Bowl. Vanilla: Measuring Spoon Set. Also Pictured: Adjustable Measuring Spoons, Skinny Scraper, Measuring Cup Set, Large Cutting Board.

I'll never get over how great the Measure-All Cup is. I mean, this is what keeps me from digging at ingredients like sour cream, peanut butter, tahini, honey, yogurt, and any number of other things. I'm in love with this tool.

The Stoneware Muffin Pan is one of the secrets behind my cupcakes. I'm not saying I'm the world's best cupcake maker, but I have yet to dry my baked goods out. Because the stoneware heats evenly rather than from the outside in, cupcakes and muffins don't get hard edges, burned bottoms, or gross tops. You can bake in here without liners, but I always use them because they look nice, and they minimize cleanup. You can see how soupy this batter is, so don't be fooled into thinking you've done something wrong. It's just a very, very thin consistency, which is that much more reason to use the Large Scoop. I don't think I'd attempt cupcakes with this batter if I didn't have the scoop, but I'm impatient with inefficiency. Hence the reason I'm head over heels in love with Pampered Chef products!

This is the most incredible peanut butter icing in the history of peanut butter icing. Rich, yet not overpowering... Sweet, yet not headache-inducing. Perfection. Again, the Measure-All Cup takes center stage (show-off!), but look at that pretty butter/cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture in the Stainless Mixing Bowl. Does it get any better?

I know I'm skipping some steps like cool and ice cupcakes, but I want to get to the nitty gritty. Chocolate. Like I said, I don't do the ganache for cupcakes simply because it's difficult to decorate. Plus, people need forks and plates to handle it. Sorry, but I judge people who get out a fork when I hand them a cupcake. Harshly. Ok, so let's grate some chocolate! Just put it in the Rotary Grater, and go to town! This is a perfect tool for hard cheeses, chocolate, nuts, and any number of other things. It can be switched from right to left-handed use, and all of the pieces go in the dishwasher. The cupcakes are displayed on the Large Rectangular Platter with Handles from the Simple Additions Collection.

This is the Cool & Serve Square Tray, and I can't tell you how much I like it! Take all the inserts out, and you've got the best cupcake taker in the world. It's perfect for times like this when you have a platter of cupcakes but need something for the refills. Notice the top is tall enough to avoid contact with the icing. What's more annoying than spending time decorating only to have your work messed up in transport? Not much.

Want proof that these made it to Shanisty's party without me eating all of them? Here you go... Shanisty with the refills. These got her seal of approval, which is good enough for me. I quote a text message I received the day after the party: "People are still talking about your cupcakes."

Make these. Make cupcakes, make the cake version, do something. Just stop drooling on your keyboard.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Hummus. In two seconds, you can have 681,000 recipes at your fingertips. At least that's what happened when I put "Hummus Recipe" in Google. I'm sure some of these results aren't actual recipes, but you get the point. By the way, the first result had this line in the teaser: "Everything you ever wanted to know about hummus but were afraid to ask!" Really? Last I checked, hummus wasn't exactly freaky weird or anything.

Ok, so why should you make this recipe when there are so many available? Two things: 1) This one's on my food blog and 2) It's by Martha Stewart. I'm still searching for my perfect hummus recipe, but this one is pretty good. It's simple to put together, and it tastes even better the day after you make it. So quit paying big money for pre-made hummus at the store, and stretch your culinary muscle. 

Roasted Garlic Hummus

3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
19 oz. chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp. sesame tahini
3 tbsp. water
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place garlic cloves on a small piece of foil, and lightly drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil. Seal foil to form a pouch, and roast garlic in oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven, and allow it to cool slightly. Peel and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the chickpeas, and process until finely chopped.

Add lemon juice, sesame tahini, water, salt, cayenne pepper, and 1 tbsp. olive oil to food processor. Process until mixture is light and fluffy but not entirely smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl, and serve with crudites. You know, crudites.


Note: This is a Martha Stewart recipe, but I changed it. She wants you to add 1/4 cup fresh chives, but I say no, thanks. I did, however, keep her suggestion to serve with crudites.

It's kind of fun to roast garlic. I don't have much to say about this step, but I did note that getting roasted garlic on your fingers isn't as detrimental to your aroma as fresh garlic. I'd suggest trying to avoid it, but you don't have to get a sinking feeling of no one-will-ever-want-to-be-around-me-again-because-I-stink.

This recipe calls for 19 oz. of chickpeas (garbonzo beans), but I haven't ever seen a 19-oz. can. My solution? Regular can while keeping everything else the same. Hi, I'm Jenny, and I live on the edge. Notice the Smooth-Edge Can Opener taking the lid to town. This thing is going to come off clean, leaving no sharp edges and no gross lid/food contact situation. Oh, and it's not going to allow food to crust up my can opener.

Give the beans a good draining using the Can Strainer. Oh, my goodness, how handy this thing is! I seriously adore the can drainer, a simple cap that keeps me from dirtying a colander every time I'm working with beans, artichoke hearts, etc. Mine's pink, but yours will be white. Sorry.

Talk about an awkward picture! This seems "off" somehow, but I'm still using it. Ok, so I have salt in a Pinch Bowl, pepper in an Adjustable Measuring Spoon, tahini in the Measure-All Cup, and the Cutting Board acting as a recipe base. That't the Classic Scraper covered in tahini, and drained chickpeas are hanging out in a Small Square Bowl from the Simple Additions Collection. This pattern is no longer available, but you get the gist. Hey, look at that smooth can there!

Lemons are a kitchen staple because they add flavor to so many recipes. Fresh lemon juice takes a lot of things from being ok to being restaurant quality, so keep these on hand at all times. I cut mine with the 5" Utility Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection, and I'm squeezing them to death using the Citrus Press. I've got the juice in an Easy Read Measuring Cup, my favorite measuring tool of all time, and everything's about to come together in a food processor.

If you've never made your own hummus, this is a great recipe to start. Tahini is a little pricey, so I'd go in planning to make it more than once. I have yet to find a brand that tastes as good as any of the recipes I've made myself, so I find tahini a worthy investment.

Like the products you saw used?
Shop Online 24/7 at
E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
Call me up: (205) 585-2464