Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dr. Pepper pulled pork tacos

I can't believe I've never blogged this! This recipe has become one of our favorite and most frequently used. It's quick, easy, and delicious.

The original recipe comes from Ree, or the Pioneer Woman as many know her. It's pretty much the same, with just a few changes - I made this a slow-cooker meal! It takes 10 minutes max to prepare. So here we go.

Pork Butt Roast, 3-7 lbs
1 large white onion
1 (12 oz) can chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
2 cans Dr. Pepper
2 Tablespoons Brown sugar

Cut onion into large wedges.
Layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Toss in the pork butt. Ree suggests 5-7 pounds - I always do three because a) it's cheaper and b) it's just the two of us (and occasionally Paul attacks the leftovers).

Cover the pork with the peppers and sauce. We like it spicy, like makes your lips tingly spicy, so I use the whole can. You might use half if you're only using a 3 lb. pork.
Pour in the Dr. Pepper and add brown sugar.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 8 is probably plenty, 10 is just what it takes me from the time I leave the door til the time I walk back through it after work.

Serve with tortillas - I like corn, Hans likes flour. And we're boring - we just eat it straight, but you could add some pico or salad or something. Go nuts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sad year for blueberries

Last Saturday we went to Houston for our annual blueberry picking trip. Since I was little, my family has always gone to Moorhead's Blueberry Farm in Conroe.

Last year, we got 22 lbs. There's actually still one bag left in my freezer.
Last year's haul
This year was disappointing. The price has gone up - from $1.50/lb to $2. I'm ok with that - I know it's been a rough year and it's still a steal. But thanks to the freezes we had this winter and the current drought we're in, the plants had very few blueberries. Many shriveled ones, many small ones, many white ones. Not a lot of good ones for picking. We stayed for much longer than last year and only walked away with six pounds. Six!! Sad, sad, sad.

If it rains, we'll try and go again one more time this year. Here's hoping....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coca Cola Cake

June was a big month for birthdays in our house. Which means lots of cake.

Parker's now the old man of the house, having turned 27 on Saturday. He refused to tell me what flavor cake he wanted, so I picked this one. I vaguely remember having something similar at the sorority house in college. And I was really excited that it didn't seem too involved.

Wow. This was so much better than I expected. It's incredibly dense and moist but the hints of cinnamon shine through and make my tummy happy. And it's quick and easy to make! Even icing is easy - you just pour it on.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coke
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cocoa, coke and buttermilk. Stir pretty regularly and you bring to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately add to flour mixture - stir until combined. Add in eggs and vanilla, stir until incorporated. As much as I love my stand mixer, it's nice that I don't have to haul it out for this one!

Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coke
4 cups powdered sugar

Again in a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cocoa power and coke and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sift in the powdered sugar gradually, stirring almost continuously (or as much as possible... not counting the times you stick your fingers in it). You could skip the sifting (I did) but you could end up with some powdered sugar chunks. Just sayin'. When it reaches your desires consistency (could be more or less than 4 cups p.s.), pour the warm glaze straight onto the cake. Seriously, just pick the saucepan up and hold it upside down over the cake pan. Awesome.

Allow the frosting a few minutes to cool and set and then serve it up. Enjoy!

Adapted oh-so-barely from the original by Confessions of a Chocoholic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Parmesan crusted chicken with beurre blanc

Here's the recipe you've been looking for for a fancy date night, birthday celebration or other special occasion. There's nothing particularly difficult about this meal, it just takes a very long time to put together. But it's very, very tasty. It helps to have a cooking companion on this one - I was having a hard time keeping an eye on the beurre blanc while cooking the chicken. It helped when Hans came to take over. I think this meal would have been a little better, also, if I had pounded the chicken breasts a little thinner.

Side note: This recipe calls for 1/4 cup of white wine. I've really never bought wine before, which was a surreal experience. And it kind of sucked to buy a whole bottle just for that small amount. My co-worker benefited from that. But anyway, I went through the checkout line at HEB and they didn't card me. Umm... don't they have to card you til you're like, 40? Incidentally, about a week before that as I was chaperoning our stake's youth conference, the YW stake president was wondering why I didn't have a wristband before someone cleared up the confusion and let her know I was a leader, not a youth. So.... in a week's time I went from being 16 to 40. Either that or no one can determine the age of an Asian.

But I digress. You just want the recipe.

For the Beurre Blanc:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
salt and white pepper
2 sticks of butter, cold, cut into 16 pieces

In a medium saucepan combine vinegar, wine, shallots, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer until it reduces until about 1.5 Tbsp. Remove from heat and immediately stir in two pieces of butter.

After the butter disappears, add another pieces. Stir continuously.

Return the pan to low heat and add the butter one piece at a time, waiting to add one piece until after the last one has completely melted. Keep stirring! When all of the butter has been added, remove from heat and serve. I wasn't quite ready when it was done, so I put it on the lowest hit and stirred frequently.

For the chicken:
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
4 large boneless, skinless breasts
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup Panko
1 cup shredded Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Start early - this needs to brine for two-three hours!

Take your chicken breasts (hopefully defrosted, mine were still a little cold!) and put them in a gallon-size plastic baggie. With a kitchen mallet (or ya know, a heavy wooden rolling pin, whatever works), pound the chicken breast thin. Aim for 1/2 inch thick.

In a medium bowl or dish, combine the chicken broth and salt. Add in the flattened chicken breasts, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Did you read a book? Take a nap? Good. Time to continue.

Remove the chicken from the brine and blot dry with paper towels.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Place flour onto a plate. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper in another medium bowl. Dredge the chicken first in the flour (use your fingers to rub it in!), dip it into the beaten egg, and then dredge in the parmesan mixture. Make sure it coats really well. It helps to let it sit there for a few minutes, so that everything doesn't just fall off.

In a large skillet, heat some oil (twice around the pan is good) over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook 'til browned and done all the way through.

Top with beurre blanc and add some yummy sun-dried tomatoes! We served ours with white cheddar mashed potatoes - mmmmmm, mmmmmm! I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was just as good!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flank steak with Chimichurri sauce

Oh, yum. This is so simple. And so good. And guess what? I didn't make it! I had to run errands last night and asked Hans if he could handle dinner. Didn't he do an awesome job? I'm one lucky girl.

He took a 1 lb. flank steak and grilled it on the stove with a little salt and pepper.

Then he made the Chimichurri sauce. Now, neither of us have tried this before. We just keep hearing how awesome it is. And it really is. No joke.

1 cup parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Throw the parlsey, garlic, pepper, cumin and salt into a food processor. Blend a little to break it up. Add in the oil and vinegar together. Process until smooth (there will still be some parsley chunks). [Note: You can add 1/4 cup cilantro. We didn't, because I hate it (did you know that?)].

Spoon over the flank steak and devour. I must add, Hans cooked that flank steak perfectly. Moist and tender and well done. [Pat on back]. And the best thing about this meal? It uses very few dishes and as long as your meat is well-defrosted (ours wasn't), this meal can be on the table in 20 min. I think this is going to become a week-night standby.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

MMMmmm... Banana birthday cake

Monday night I'm heading upstairs and I notice a passport sitting on the bottom steps. I pick it up to see who it belongs to - Oh, it's Paul's. And... his birthday is June 15?? What?? Why didn't he tell anyone?!

Birthdays need cake. It's a rule, I think. When Paul said he wanted a banana cake, I remember this delicious little lovely I had tried back in December.

It's very easy to make. I used three small rounds this time for a higher, but smaller cake. And I forget ears - Oops! But he's still cute (the monkey, not Paul ;)), so it's ok.

It tastes a lot like banana bread, but cakey! It might be nice with some walnuts in it or something (Paul just didn't want any). I love how evenly this cake bakes. It's moist without feeling too mushy, and definitely the perfect density for stacking. I love how pretty it looks every inside.

Not a *huge* fan of the icing. It's too sweet. And it was too runny (but adding more powdered sugar would have overpowered the taste, so that was out). I think I'll use a different buttercream next time.

Happy Birthday, Paul! We are so glad to have you living with us.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Win a trip to Paris

Yes, you read that right. One of the blogs I follow, Oh Happy Days, is giving away a seven day trip to Paris. Airfare from the Continental US and lodging at Mama Shelter, a cute boutique hotel in Paris, are included.
I studied abroad in Paris in 2006 and miss it on a near-daily basis. I would love to go back and wander the halls of the Musee D'Orsay again, frequent my favorite crepe stand, and enjoy the sunshine in the Tuillieries on a lazy day.

Head over to Oh Happy Days to enter. Or, ya know, don't. Better for my chances :)

Lemonade Cake

What's summer, without lemonade?

That's why this is a great little summer cake. The flavor of it is amazing, especially the lemonade-cream cheese frosting.

The crumb, however, was a little weird. Unlike the picture on the recipe's site, this cake is not light and fluffy. It's very, very dense. And spongey. It's not a texture that I care for. So I'll try this one again, but make some alterations to aim for a lighter cake. It's still very, very yummy.

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon zested lemon rind
3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour cake pans (I used 3 small pans).

Beat first five ingredients at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Beginning with the flour mixture, alternate adding flour and buttermilk to the sugar, beating well after each addition.

Bake for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons zested lemon rind
2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

With mixer on high speed, beat together butter, lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, vanilla and softened cream cheese. Beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in powdered sugar. Beat just until blended, but do not overbeat.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate Malt Cupcake

This is my new favorite cupcake recipe. Hands down.

And notice the lack of pictures?

I apologize for that. But seriously, I'm lucky I got this one. That's how fast they went. I made them when I substitute taught a Sunday school class a couple weeks ago. I made enough for the class to each have one and then I'd have enough left over to take to my Beehives.

Nope. I'm pretty sure I saw one of those sunday school kids eating four. There were only five left (of almost two dozen) by the time I made it to Young Women's.

Fortunately for the roomies (and me), I'd saved one for each of us at home. They were promptly gone as well.

So good. So, so good. Moist. Chocolate-y. And the frosting some how manages to evoke ice cream. Without the cold. Heaven!

The recipe comes from That Winsome Girl. Bless her.

2¼ cups flour (AP is good)
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1½ cups malted milk powder (found in the baking aisle)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugars, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.

With my stand mixer at medium speed, I beat together the flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined. Add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

For the icing:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
½ cup malted milk powder
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 cups confectioner sugar

In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and shorting until light and fluffy. Slowly add in malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Mix for about a minute. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting becomes thick and stiff.