Monday, September 27, 2010

Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream


I don't know about you, but week-long birthday celebrations are always OK in my book.

Mr. Vittles is old .. I mean, thirty years-old as of Saturday, and we had multiple celebrations this year in his honor.

The first was last Saturday, the 18th, where two amazing things happened- one, I was actually able to surprise my husband with a party at an art gallery.

And two, I convinced him to step foot in said art gallery.

Ok, so it was only under the guise of attending my friend's parents' surprise 40th anniversary party... but he went there nonetheless.  (FYI, an art gallery is a perfect venue for a party - it's a big empty room that's already been decorated for you!  Especially if you find a fabulous, non-stuffy place like this one.)





Mr. V is a tough one to keep secrets from, though.  He is not only very smart but very nosy.  Not that I don't have a little Curious George in me too, but this is a difficult trait to work with with when you're trying to plan a party right in front of someone without them knowing.

Thankfully he works almost twice the amount I do (yes, I have a full-time job) so I was able to do most of it when he wasn't home.  Everything else I was able to do out in the open because he thought I was helping my friend.

Bwah hahahaha!

So the good news is that he was super surprised, but the bad news is that I have broken all trust in our marriage.

!!

Kidding.

I think?

But either way, we had a fabulous night filled with good friends, close family, delicious food & desserts, and lots of alcohol.  Then, when the formal party was over, a group of us went to a bar, stayed up way past our bedtime (not that that's saying much for Mr. V and I), and some of us even passed out in a pile of spilled cookies in the hotel room.


What could be better than that?

Devon Vittles put it best when she said "If your 30th birthday party is any indication of how much fun you are going to have in the next decade, I'd say you are all set."


Insanity.

Anyway, since I purchased a cake for the party, I decided I should make the V Man's favorite cake on Friday.  But his actual birthday (September 25) was spent in Cape May celebrating the marriage of our friends Bryan and Pauline, so he has barely had a chance to eat any of this cake yet.

It's probably not as good as when his mother or Nana Vittles makes it, though - it's my first go-around and Nana "wings it" so I had no real measurements to accompany the list of ingredients.


It's also slightly painful for me to cover a virtually fat-free cake in an entire pint of whipped cream & melted chocolate - especially since, like these flourless chocolate cookies, angel food cake is made almost entirely of sugar.

So between you, me, and the entire internet community (which includes my mother-in-law who reads this blog religiously)-

I made my cake with less whipped cream & glaze than my in-laws do.  

(Ahh! I thought lightening might strike me down as I typed that but I seem to have all my limbs & mental facutlies, so I guess we're all good.)

Mr. V... was none too happy to hear this.

Maybe that's why the cake was still sitting in the fridge untouched until about an hour ago?

He claims he was waiting for candles and a song.  He also says that he's going to tell my dad on me (?) because not only did I refuse to sing to him, I did not do the Birthday Dance of Joy that is customary in my family.

I pointed out that I already gave him a cake with candles and sang 'happy birthday' at his party, but there's no reasoning with him.


And to think I voluntarily agreed to an eternity of this abuse!

Luckily he was able to get the full-fat/full-deliciousness version, complete with song and candles, at his final celebration yesterday (courtesy of Pammy Vittles).  So all is right in the world, and it's a happy birthday indeed :)

Now if you love sweets on top of sweets like Mr. V, just double the whipped cream and glaze amounts below for one angel food cake - you will also want to cut the cake into 3 layers rather than two to make room for the extra whipped cream!

Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream
  • 1 angel food cake (either made from your favorite recipe or purchased from a store)
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 C. - 1/2 C. powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 oz. baking chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1/4 C. powdered sugar, plus more as needed for desired consistency
Cut completely cooled cake horizontally to create 2 layers.  Place bottom layer on plate.  In medium bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa, vanilla, and 1/4 C. powdered sugar.  Whip with whisk attachment on a mixer until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.  Spread whipped cream over bottom layer of cake, and replace the top layer of the cake.

In a separate medium, microwavable bowl, combine butter and baking chocolate.  Melt together in 10-15 second increments, stirring after each until smooth.  Add milk and 1/4 C. confectioners sugar, and mix until combined (I used a hand mixer here, still fitted with whisk attachment, for convenience).

Add more confectioners sugar if needed to reach desired consistency.  Pour glaze over the top of the cake, allowing to drip down sides.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate to serve cold.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Family Recipe, Origin Unknown

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Molasses Cream Cheese Filling


I had all intentions of posting something fun for you tonight.

However, its already after 10PM and I just helped Mr. Vittles write a (glowing) cover letter for a job application.

My creative juices are all tapped out.

:(

Luckily, my creativity was flowing the night I made these whoopie pies - so I guess we'll just have to live vicariously through that memory.


I got the recipe for the cookie part from Joy of Baking, and the filling is just an original recipe that I made to  complement the pumpkin.

Mr. V said the whoopie pies tasted like pumpkin bread (one of his absolute most favorite things) with whipped cream icing.

Or in other words-heaven.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Molasses Cream Cheese Filling

Cookies:
  • 2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 C. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. canned pumpkin
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside.

In separate bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs & sugar til light & smooth, about 2 minutes.  Beat in oil, vanilla, and pumpkin.  Add flour mixture & beat until just incorporated.

Using a small ice cream scoop (if you want large pies) or a small cookie scoop (for bite-sized pies), place mounds of batter onto prepared sheets 2" apart.  Using a metal or rubber spatula, slightly flatten the mounds and spread into a circle shape.  (The cookies pretty much hold their shape in the oven so you want them to be as uniform as possible going in!)

Bake 15-18 minutes (for large size, or 10-12 minutes for small) or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven & cool a couple minutes on sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

When cookies are cool, prepare Molasses Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 6 T. butter
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 C. confectioners sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 1 T. milk
Cream all ingredients together until light & fluffy.

Spread a layer of filling to desired thickness onto the flat side of one cookie.  Lightly place a matching cookie flat side down on top of the icing, and twist gently to evenly distribute filling.

Makes about 9 large pies, or 18 bite-sized ones.

Cookie recipe from JoyofBaking.com, filling recipe original

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Yellow Cornbread


Ok.  So I can't leave you hanging with the cornbread recipe.

The turkey chili needs it... like the Giants are going to need some serious 'rooting' this Sunday night when they play Indianapolis.

You promised, remember?  I'd give you the cornbread and you'd wish for my team to make it to the Superbowl.

But the season just started so we're gonna have to take this one game at a time. 

Manning vs Manning, how utterly exciting!

C'mon.  Your chili told me it was lonely....

Chili & Cornbread. 


Manning & Manning.












   
Travis Lindquist/Getty Images found on Yahoo! Sports                
 
Mr. V is a Dolphins fan (I married him anyway) but he was reading an article with this pic from the last time Indy played NY & noticed the brothers have the SAME look on their faces!  

Gonna be a crazy game.

At least I know which Manning you'll be cheering for.

Anyhoo... this cornbread recipe is actually from the back of the cornmeal package.

I'll (sadly) admit that I used to make the Jiffy brand out of the box for convenience sake - but I started noticing it had a strange aftertaste.  Not to mention it probably has hydrogenated oils and all that bad stuff you're not supposed to eat.

The one thing I do like about the Jiffy cornbread is that it's sweet.  Like cake.

Mmmm.  Cake with dinner.

So I used Indian Head's suggestions for making their original recipe moister and sweeter.

Slightly more work for a cornbread that's waaaay better than anything out of a box!

Sweet Yellow Cornbread
  • 1 C. yellow corn meal 
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 C. oil
  • 2/3 C. milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Mix oil, egg, and milk together and add to dry ingredients with a few stiff strokes.  Beat only until combined.  Bake in greased 9x9x2 inch pan for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe from Washington Quality Foods, the makers of Indian Head Corn Meal

Monday, September 13, 2010

Turkey Chili


Every year, as soon as Labor Day is over, I usually find myself in full-fledged Fall mode... regardless of whether or not Mother Nature is cooperating.

But while it's only a week after the holiday, I will say she has not disappointed me yet.

The god-awful temperatures we have experienced for most of the summer seem to have subsided, at least for now - and I could not be happier to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows!

(Especially since my AC doesn't get the house below 78 degrees.)

With this gorgeous weather, I can crank the oven freely without fear of spontaneous combustion or turning my home into Hades.

More importantly, I can dust off my fall recipe collection, as well as the cans of pumpkin puree that I've been hoarding in my cabinet since last year (alongside the seventeen cans of diced tomatoes I was unknowingly amassing).

Hey. Canned goods last a long time, people.  My Great Aunt Joyce had a stockpiling of enough nonperishables to outlast World War III and I can assure you no one ever died from eating them.

But ... before we get to my latest pumpkin creation (pumpkin whoopie pies, mind you!) I would like to share with you my tried & true recipe for chili.  With the start of regular-season football this past week, I thought it would be appropriate.

And if you're really good, I'll share a recipe for cornbread, too.

(And by 'really good', I mean if you're rooting for the NY Giants to make it to the Superbowl.)

Just throwing that out there.

Turkey Chili
  • 1 to 1 1/3 lbs. ground turkey (lean ground beef is fine too) 
  • 1 1/2 T. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T. garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (can also use one with chiles), undrained
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano 
  • 1/2 t. dried basil
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions & cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add turkey & cook until no longer pink (this is why I like to use lean meat - otherwise you may want to drain the fat here, being careful not to lose the onions & garlic).

Add diced tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar & spices along with 3/4 C. of water.  Bring to a boil , then reduce heat to low & simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally & adding more water if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Add kidney beans & simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes longer.  Serve with grated cheddar cheese and/or cornbread.

Original Recipe

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Salted Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cookies


This recipe came from the blog How Sweet It Is, which is written by a fabulous woman who might actually enjoy bad-for-you foods more than I do.

With recipes like Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake and Peanut Butter Bacon Blondies, she is definitely not playing games.

And... I love it.

That is why I went to her blog first when I was looking for a sinful recipe that included caramel, one of Joe Vittles' favorites, to make him a treat for his birthday.

But unfortunately I had a busy week and ran out of time, so I had to actually make these in the morning before work.

Let's get one thing straight - the list of Things I Do Before Work is pretty short.

It includes getting dressed and putting on makeup and brushing my teeth.

Were you looking for more?  'Cause that's pretty much it.

I shower at night and I eat breakfast at work.  These two things jeopardize my precious beauty sleep, and we certainly can't have that.

So, needless to say - getting up an hour and a half before work to bake cookies was a new one for me.

And apparently, when you're really tired, you have a tendency to turn on the mixer very aggressively and shoot cocoa flour all over your kitchen.

Good times!

Luckily it was all worth it in the end.  Joe V loved the cookies, and even Mr. Vittles (who we know is pro-vanilla) said they were pretty amazing.

Well, not in those words exactly.

But he was telling me a very intense story about the repairs he was doing to our truck, and distractedly bit into a cookie.  He actually stopped in the middle of the story to say "These are really good," before he kept on going about brake lines.

Ah.  Success.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cookies
  • 1 C. butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. cocoa powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. course sea salt
  • 1 C. chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips are fine too)
  • 1/2 C. chopped pecans
  • 10 caramels*, chopped into fours (I chopped each caramel into 6 pieces)
In bowl of mixer, cream butter & sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla & beat until fluffy.  In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined.  Gradually add flour mixture to mixing bowl and mix on low speed until combined.

Fold in pecans, caramel pieces and chocolate chips.  Refrigerate dough for 4-6 hours (or more - refrigerating is the most important part. If you don’t refrigerate, when the cookies go into the oven, the caramel pieces will sink to the bottom and stick to the cookie sheet). 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll into balls and set on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely, and drizzle with caramel sauce if desired.  Makes about 2 dozen.

*Note: The caramels don't get distributed all that evenly, so I ended up saving half the caramels for when I was about to bake the cookies. For each spoonful of dough, I pushed one or two pieces in the middle and formed the ball around the caramel. This way every cookie gets a caramel surprise :)

Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Choco-Almond Chai Tai


Tea is one of those things that I always think I might enjoy, but I just don't.  Other than super sweet pre-packaged iced tea, it really does nothing for me.

But my mom loved tea, and it always smelled delicious when she made it, so every now & again I would decide to give it another try.

And no matter what flavor it was, it always tasted the same- yucky.

I even tried adding honey... or sugar... or milk and honey... or milk and sugar... and it was still just not good.

So I eventually threw in the towel and decided tea is just not for me.

Which has basically been my tea status for the past few years, until I recently received a free sample of some Chai Tea from this new place in the mall called Teavana.

Holy smokes.  It wasn't yucky.

It was awesome.

And let me tell you something.  It takes a lot to get my attention away from certain menu items at a Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks (like coconut iced coffee and vanilla lattes).

But since I entered Teavana, I have occasionally exchanged my morning iced coffee for an Iced Chai Latte.

!!

(I know.  I thought I might walk out of Starbucks and see a pig fly by, but there were none to be found.)

Then yesterday, I entered this other new place called Walvana.

Well actually I think its just called "Super Walmart," but to a bargain-lover like myself this is basically the highest level of enlightenment one could hope to attain.

The best part is that I didn't realize that they turned a nearby Walmart into a Super Walmart (with a full grocery section in addition to their usual goods) until yesterday.  This is our first conversion to Walvana in the area - and this is not my usual go-to location - so the renovations were unbeknownst to me until I walked into the store and was greeted by scent of freshly baked bread and the sight of a veritable sea of produce.

The people behind me must have thought I was a lunatic.  I walked in, stopped dead in my tracks with my mouth hanging open (and maybe even some drool trickling down) and then abruptly went back out the entrance.

I got so excited I ran back out to get myself a cart (not a basket, but at cart) and the irony is I ended up forgetting what I was I originally went there for.  But I got some neat stuff, including this Tazo Chai Latte Concentrate - which I believe Starbucks uses for their Chai Lattes!


Oh my goodness, I'm getting giddy just recounting the story.  Good thing Mr. V's not home, this could get embarrassing!

So today we had Rum Day Part Deux at the beach, and in the midst of all this "excitement," I was trying to think of what type of rum cocktail to bring.

Mr. V had an idea to bring a New Orleans drink called a Hand Grenade, which he says is delicious.  So we looked up the ingredients, and saw that it has a mix of rum, gin, vodka, grain alcohol and melon liquor.

In other words... Pure Alcohol Drink of Death.

Which I guess is fine when you are a 20 year-old frat boy like he was the last time he drank this concoction.  But considering the point of Rum Day is to try a myriad of drinks over the course of several hours, this might have had us all in the E.R. by noon.

So until yesterday, I fully planned on making another fruity cocktail like I did for the original Rum Day a couple months ago.  But after perusing some recipe ideas for rum cocktails online, nothing was really tickling my fancy.

Then I got an idea.

Chai tea is spiced.  They make rum that's spiced.  Why not combine chai and rum?

So I did some experimentation.  I made one batch with:
  • 1 C. of the chai concentrate
  • 1 C. of milk
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • 1 oz. Malibu rum
  • 1 oz. of Bailey's Irish Cream
(This is the recipe I actually took to the beach, because after the Hand Grenade shutdown I let Mr. V pick the one he liked better.) 

The below recipe tastes similar, but it doesn't have coconut rum and it uses chocolate almond milk instead of regular milk.  (You could also use regular chocolate milk if you prefer, it doesn't have to come from almonds.)

This version was my favorite because I think you can taste the spices more in this recipe and I also like the hint of chocolate. It's also a little sweeter.

Although Mr. V will almost always pick vanilla over chocolate, and I'm the exact opposite, so go with whichever one you like :)  I promise you can't go wrong with either!

As my dad so nicely put it "You could probably mix bacon grease with rum and someone will drink it."

Enough said.

Choco Almond Chai Tai
  • 1 C. Tazo Chai Latte concentrate
  • 1 C. chocolate almond milk
  • 3 oz. dark rum
  • 1 oz. Bailey's Irish cream
Blend in a pitcher or shaker, serve over ice.
 

Original Recipe
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