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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Celebrating Spring with Citrus (say it 5 times fast!)

In celebration of getting through the first couple weeks of spring (ie allergies), we decided to take a solid lemon poppy seed bread recipe and put a TCC spin on it. Citrus to us screams that warm weather is either here, or on its way. Because it’s still a little chilly in the morning, enjoy a slice of this with a hot mug of tea. Don’t worry, the weather will eventually catch up to the calendar!

Citrus Poppy Seed Bread:

3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ c. milk
1 ½ c. flour
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 ½ stick + 1 Tbsp. butter (softened)

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter and flour a loaf pan (alternatively, you can make these into muffins).

In a bowl combine eggs, vanilla and milk.

In a separate bowl: combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon and orange zest, and poppy seeds.

Once dry ingredients are combined, add butter and half of your egg mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until moistened, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute (we’re building some muscle, so we did this by hand).

Scrape down your bowl and add half of the remaining egg mixture, beat for 30 seconds. Add the remainder of the egg mixture and beat once more for 30 seconds.

Pour batter into pan, and bake for 55-65 minutes (check with a toothpick to see that it comes out clean). If you notice that you’re bread is getting too brown, cover it with aluminum foil.

If you want to make this bread extra special, you can use the following syrup:

¼ c. orange and/or lemon juice (we found that the juice of 1 lemon and ½ an orange gave us exactly ¼ c.)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
½ Tbsp. honey (this is optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat until sugar and honey are melted.

Once the bread comes out of the oven, poke the top with holes (use a small skewer) and brush with half the syrup. Let cool for 10 minutes (in the pan), then turn out onto a greased wire rack. Brush the remaining syrup over the sides and bottom of the bread. Turn the bread right side up and let cool completely before wrapping.

If you can wait to eat your bread, store it overnight so they syrup has time to do it’s thing (it’s like magic).


- The original recipe came from the Joy of Baking website, check it out here.
- Use other citrus fruits to come up with variations. One of our taste testers really wanted to see it made with limes and lemons.
- If you want your bread to be less intense in the citrus department, put half the amount of zest, if you want more, sub out all or part of the vanilla with citrus extract.

Remember, this is the last day of Mystery Month. If you want to guess, we’ll need your guesses before our next post (April 4th). The first person to email us with the correct answer gets a mystery prize!!

Here’s a collective list of the entire month’s dates and recipes:

March 3rd- Mulled Wine
March 7th- Rice Crispy Cereal Sushi
March 10th- Blueberry Popovers
March 14th- Homemade Potato Chips
March 17th- Corned Beef and cabbage and apple salad
March 21st- French Bread Garlic Bread
March 24th- Chocolate covered Raisin (Raisinet) Oatmeal Cookies
March 28th- Black Forest Cake (balls) on a Stick
March 31st- Lemon and Orange Poppy Seed Bread

Good luck!!! And remember, Google can be your friend.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Forest Cake … on a Stick!

Once upon a time, we were browsing through food blogs, and came across Bakerella’s blog. By far, our favorite thing on her website were cake balls. We’ve made them on a few times, and let us tell you, they disappear quickly and are requested often.

So, we knew that today was going to be a post about black forest cake, and we also knew that we wanted something on a stick… so it made perfect sense to make black forest cake the bakerella way, and make a little cake ball pop!

Cake balls, while simple to make are a little bit time consuming (and can be quite messy). So, when you have a bit of time and want to make something fun try them out.

Black Forest Cake Balls:

Chocolate cake (baked, and cooled in the pan. Use your favorite recipe or a box)
1 lb. Buttercream icing (see below for our recipe, or you can use a can of vanilla frosting)
2 small jars Maraschino cherries (without stem)
Lollypop, popsicle, or another type of stick
White chocolate candy coating

Into a large bowl, crumble your cooled cake (we do this as we remove sections of cake from the pan)—this is messy step number 1.

Mix your icing into the cake crumbles (you can do it with a spoon, we use our hands) – messy step number 2.

Drain the liquid from the cherries (we then placed the cherries on a paper towel to remove any excess liquid).

Take about a tablespoon of your cake mixture and form it around one of your cherries. Roll it around in your hands to make a nice ‘ball’. Each ball should be about the size of a quarter (see above picture for what the layers will look like).

Place completed cake ball on a pan lined with waxed paper. Continue forming the balls until you’ve run out of a) cake mixture or b) cherries

If you don’t want to make cake pops, place the pan of balls in the freezer for about an hour. Follow directions for coating below.

If you’re all about something on a stick (much like we are), you will stick your cake balls before freezing. After you’ve placed the sticks, freeze for about an hour.

Melt candy coating according to direction (we do this in small batches, 2 or 3 blocks at a time, when we’ve used up that coating, we’ll melt more).

Dip your frozen cake pops into the coating (you may need to use a spoon to help facilitate full coating). Place pops onto waxed paper to cool.

Butter cream icing:

2 ½ cups (10.5 oz) – sifted powdered sugar
1 cup (8 oz) – Vegetable shortening or butter (or a combination)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp salt mixed with ¼ cup water (for the black forest cake recipe we used the maraschino cherry juice instead of water).
Additional water for thinning

Combine sugar, shortening, vanilla and ¼ cup water in an electric mixer. Mix for 2-3 minutes, adding more water to desired consistency (for this recipe you want the consistency of a canned icing).

p.s.  Thank you for all of the guesses, you guys are great.  We still haven't gotten a correct guess, so keep sending them in.  We've put in a few hints in todays post, so put that thinking cap on and come up with a few more ideas.  Watch out for Wednesday's post, there will be some clues in there as well!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mmm Mmm Cookies

You’ve had oatmeal raisin cookies before, and you’ve had oatmeal chocolate chip cookies before, so why not combine the three great tastes in one? Raisinets make the perfect one-step addition solution…unless you hate raisins in which case, just keep moving, nothing to eat here. BUT for the rest of you, here’s a great classic oatmeal cookie recipe with our upgrade that we think you’re really going to like.

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

1 ¾ cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups (3 3.5 oz boxes) milk or dark chocolate Raisinets
3 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

In a small bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

On medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well blended and smooth.

Stir in oats and Raininets. We pre-mixed the oats and Raisinets in a larger bowl and added in the rest of the cookie dough which made it easier to mix. Process really depends on how many dishes you are willing to wash afterwards.

Dough will be thick and a bit sticky.

You can either drop it by tablespoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet or roll balls by hand and press down to flatten slightly. You will want to make sure your hands are lightly greased as well before rolling the cookies or else you’ll need to wash your hands between every six cookies to remove excess dough build-up (and yes, that is experience talking).

Bake for 6-9 minutes until cookies are lightly brown all over and almost firm when pressed in center. Remove cookie sheet from over and allow cookies to sit for about 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

French Bread -- Straight from North Carolina

Have you ever read “If You Give a Mouse A Cookie”? Well, this post reminds us a bit of that book.

We wanted to make some French bread, and since we had homemade bread, we wanted to make some tricked out garlic bread, then because we had garlic bread, we had to have some pasta … it just goes on and on from there. And to think, all of this started with French bread.

Below is a link to a basic French bread recipe, we found it to be a good base for the garlic bread.


- We halved the recipe, and still ended up with 2 good sized loaves of bread.
- Remember, when making bread you want the dough to stretch and not break, see our post on making pita for tips (and pictures).
- We got a really cool pan that may not be as multi-purpose as we normally like, but it was cheap, and makes for a conversation piece (well, a conversation for all us culinar nerds out there).
- Instead of using an egg wash, we threw about 5 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven (just before we put in our bread) to create some steam. We added another 4 cubes half way through baking. This makes a nice crunchy crust without the egg wash.

Garlic bread:

1 loaf of fresh made French bread (or store/bakery bought if you don't have the time to do it yourself)
4 cloves of garlic- sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ stick butter
½ tsp salt

Heat olive oil in pan. Place garlic in hot oil, sauté until golden brown. Pour garlic and oil into a small bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic, and slightly squish the garlic cloves with the back of a spoon.

In the same pan you used for the garlic, melt the butter. Pour the butter over the garlic and oil. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. This will allow the garlic flavor infuse into the butter. If you want a deeper flavor for the garlic butter, when you’re melting the butter, keep ‘cooking’ it past the point of melted. You will notice it turns slightly tan, at this point take it off the heat (it will darken as the pan cools). The browned butter has a nice nutty flavor that adds to the final product.

Cut your bread in half lengthwise and spread each half with the garlic butter. You may not end up using the entire amount of butter, that’s okay, save it and use it for your pasta!

Bake at 425 until bread is golden brown. Alternatively, you can place your bread under the broiler… but make sure you watch it, it’s not as good when it’s burnt.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Feast Fit for a Saint

Top o' the morning to ya!  So as may be expected, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we are celebrating with some Corned Beef and Cabbage, traditional fare for a special occasion...and as may be expected, in the tradition of TCC, we've put a little spin on it for you.

Our Corned Beef recipe comes from k2's mom, Sharon.  It's a Jewish corned beef recipe that she found in the way back when which has been modified over the years to what we bring you today.  It's not a quick fix, takes about 4 hours to cook and again you will be subjected to delectable aromas wafting around the house before it's done, but it will be worth the effort.

Because certain members of TCC have an adversion to cooked cabbage, we went with a raw Cabbage-Apple Salad. It's nice and light and full of subtle flavoring.  The Granny Smith apples give it a nice fresh bite.

We paired up our CB&C with some simple boiled potatoes with parsley and butter.  All in all, a great way to celebrate St. Patty's Day.

Corned Beef

3 lb brisket
2 qts cold water
1/3 cup salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
15 whole black peppercorns
15 whole allspice
2 large cloves garlic, whole
5 bay leaves
1/3 medium white onion, large chop
1/3 cup whole cloves (about 1 oz.)
6 tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp horseradish (not horseradish sauce)
4 tbsp brown sugar
Whole cloves
Whole peppercorns

In a large pot, place brisket in water with salt, sugar, paprika, peppercorns, allspice, garlic cloves, bay leaves onion and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce burner to a low hear (Lo-2 on dial) and simmer uncovered for 2 ¾ to 3 hours.

Remove brisket from liquid and place on a cooling rack set on a cookie sheet (we suggest covering the cookie sheet with foil before placing the brisket on the rack because it will save some clean up after the fact).

Spread one side of the brisket with 3 tbsp of mustard and 1 tbsp of horseradish.

Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of brown sugar and let sit until it melts a bit then spread over mustard-horseradish.

Flip the brisket over and spread the remaining mustard, horseradish, and brown sugar over it. Press cloves and peppercorns into the spread.

Place brisket in oven at 200° for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Cabbage-Apple Salad

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp honey
1/8 cup olive oil (1 oz.)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and match-sticked
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 cups shredded red/purple cabbage
1-1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
1-1/2 cups shredded carrots

Whisk together vinegars and mustard then gradually whisk in honey and oil. Set aside.

Cut the apple into small matchsticks, and toss with lemon.

Mix the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl, add in the apple and toss with the dressing.  Sprinkle with pecans.

Boiled Parsley Potatoes

Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large pieces.

Boil in water for 10-15 minutes until a fork pieces through.
Drain potatoes and toss with parley, butter and salt to taste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Chip off the Old Block

Have you ever caught yourself wandering up and down the potato chip isle just looking at all the varieties of chips on the shelves?

Everybody we know has a favorite potato chip flavor, whether it be Cheddar and Sour Cream, BBQ, or Salt and Vinegar.

We were inspired to try to make homemade chips after doing extensive research on the itraweb. Okay, maybe not so extensive, but we did do research. Turns out, it really is a lot easier than we thought (not as easy as going and getting a bag from the shelf, but truly, much more satisfying).

We decided to get all sorts of fancy and make sweet potato chips as well.

Homemade Potato Chips:

russet baking potatoes (peeled or unpeeled, there’s no fast rule here. Remember you can also sub out sweet potatoes, or do a combination)- The amount will depend on how many chips you want to make … slice up 1 and see if you think that’ll be enough for you.

Oil for Frying


Slice potatoes, each slice should be about 1/8 of an inch thick (if you have a mandolin, this is a great use for it).

Place slices between sheets of paper towel, just to remove a bit of moisture.

In the meantime, pour 3-4 inches of oil into a dutch oven, and start heating. If you have a candy/oil thermometer, again, this is an ideal place to use it (you’ll want the oil at about 390). If you don’t, one of our tricks is to take a small piece of bread, if when it hits the oil it immediately starts bubbling, the oil is ready to go.

Before starting chips, set up a drying station. Cover a rack with paper towels to absorb all excess oil from the chip.

Place small batches of potatoes in the oil, you don’t want them crowded. Keep an eye on them so they don't get too dark. You want the chip to be a nice golden brown (or in the case of a sweet potato fry, you want it to be a dark orange).

Once finished, place the chips on the paper towels, and sprinkle a small amount of salt over each.

Continue until you’ve finished… then eat (if you're like us, the eating part didn't actually wait until you were finished)!


- Do you have a fryer? Just follow the instructions and fry away.

- Keep an eye on the oil temperature. The batches of potatoes will lower the temp., give it a bit of time to come back up to cooking temperature before dropping in the next batch.

- Looking to be healthy… umm, healthier. You can also bake chips, we found a good recipe on epicurious

- Try making veggie chips. Use vegetables that are similar in texture to potatoes. We found that beets and butternut squash work well (so well that by the time we were ready to take pictures, they had disappeared from the plate).

- If you want flavored chips, try tossing the partially cooled chips in a bit of dry ranch dressing mix, or our favorite, taco seasoning mix.

Have fun, happy chipping!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Better Blue (now in time for March Madness)

There is something comforting about biting into a hot popover that has been slathered in butter (mmm, butter). We've not come across anything that has the texture of these little goodies (if you know of something, please share, we dig the texture), so they're really not to be missed.

Instead of giving you a basic popover recipe, we’re going to go above and beyond and give you a recipe for (pause here for drum roll) blueberry popovers! (come on, we’re not the only ones excited about this, right?)

These are a nice alternative pancakes, or muffins for a special breakfast.  They also aren't as difficult as they look (BONUS).  If your popovers don't 'pop', don't be discouraged, they still taste great!!

Blueberry popovers:

2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. fresh blueberries, tossed with 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
butter for greasing pans

Preheat oven to 475. Grease muffin tins (or some variation) heavily with butter.

In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour and salt. Blend for 90 seconds. Add oil and blend for another 30 seconds. Stir in blueberries.

Fill your greased muffin tins, just over 1/2 full.

Bake at 475 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350, and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes more (see notes for further baking options).

Let popovers cool slightly (not completely) in tins. If they do not slip out easily, run a knife around the edge and work them out.

Enjoy these with the above mentioned slathering of butter. Or, if you want an extra special treat, drizzle on some maple or blueberry syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

- You can make this a basic popover simply by omitting the blueberries.
- If fresh blueberries aren't an option, grab a bag of frozen, and just defrost and blot dry before using
- You can opt to grease with oil, but we do find that they stick a whole lot less if you use butter.
- If you have empty muffin tins before baking, fill them half way with water. This helps to promote even baking.
- Try not to bang around too much.  These puppies fall fairly easily.  On those same lines, don't be tempted to peek in the oven until close to the end of cooking time.
- We like ours a little eggy (for lack of a better word) in the middle, so we tend to undercook them slightly. If you like a dryer popover, at the end of the cooking time turn the heat off and leave them in the warm oven for an extra few minutes.
- if you don't plan on eating these right away, poke a hole in the top to let some of the steam escape. Don't worry about this step if you plan on consuming these right away (we've never actually done this step...shh, don't tell)
- This recipe easily doubles (which we did).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snap! Crackle! Sushi!

We all love Rice Krispie Treats, but for those with a more discerning palate, here's a little Treats adaptation that you might enjoy.  Yōkoso ("you're welcome").

Rice Krispies Sushi

3 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1 pkg marshmallows (about 40 or 4 cups mini marshmallows)
6 cups Rice Krispies
2 boxes Swedish Fish
1 box Fruit Roll-Ups

We use sashimi-grade Swedish Fish – the original kind that comes in a yellow box with a psycho-looking red fish on the front.  It's definitely your higer quality Fish, though if you prefer some color variety, there are other brands out there. 

Melt butter over low heat in large saucepan.
Add marshmallow until complete melted.

We highly recommend using mini marshmallows because they will melt more quickly.

Add in the Rice Krispies and stir until well coated.

We turned the burner off, but continued to hold the pot over it while mixing because the lingering heat helped keep the marshmallow maleable and made it easier to stir.

Take a large spoonful of the mixture and roll into an oval (about 1-1/2 x 3” in shape).

Put the rice balls on wax paper and set aside.
Roll out a Fruit Roll-Up and cut into 5” strips, then cut the strip in half lengthwise.

Put a fish on top of the rice ball, wrap the fruit strip around the fish and rice ball.
Where the strip overlaps, dab it with a bit of water to help make it stick to itself as it dries.

Will make about 50 Swedish Fish rolls.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mull It Over

Welcome to March Mystery Month!  We provide the recipes, you guess the theme.  Simple as that.  The first one to correctly guess what this month's theme is gets a Mystery Prize (we'll know it when we know it).  You have until April 4 to let us know what you think it is....mwah-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!  Good luck!

Citrus Mulled Wine

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
Peel from 1 orange
Peel from of 2 lemons
2 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon

In a deep pot, simmer water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Do not bring to a boil.

Using a paring knife cut the peel from the orange and lemons. Try to get as little of the pith (white stuff) as possible.

Add the wine, orange and lemon peels into the sugar-water spice mixture and continue to simmer for about 1-1/2 hours, allowing the flavors to blend.

Strain and serve warm (okay for photo op reasons, we did not strain, but it makes it better for your guests if you do so that they don't have to pick cloves out of their teeth after you serve it).

Makes about 8 4oz cups.