Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Yesterday, Sabrina and I took an unplanned excursion into downtown Austin. What prompted  the trip was a promise I made to her the other day, which was that if she cleaned out (read: organized) her closet, I would take her shopping for new clothes. Personally, I didn’t think she would do it. She takes after a certain family member, who shall remain nameless, that has a tendency to hold onto clothing far longer than necessary. Some items were so threadbare you could see through them, some were too big, some too small, and some made me ask her, what exactly were you thinking when you bought this?

She didn’t appreciate my commentary.

Our adventure began at the Round Rock Outlet Mall so she could pick up a new pair of jeans. We (and I’m calling her out on this as well) must have been temporarily insane to go anywhere near a mall, for school starts Monday (see previous post for proof of that). Everyone and their extended family, including their dogs, were out shopping. The mall was packed, and after about 20 minutes, I was done. Fortunately we located the Guess store location relatively quickly, and three pair of half price jeans later, we split.

However, during the drive to the mall, which only takes about 20 minutes (kind of like driving to Chicago, right Dad?), we started talking about food, and that evenings’ dinner plans, specifically. She’s been complaining for at least three months now on how she misses Chinese cuisine, how there aren’t any good Chinese restaurants here , she’s afraid to eat at any of them anyway because of her MSG/nut allergies and blah blah blah blah blah.

phew..

As luck would have it, I had received an email of this recipe for Takeout Style Sesame Noodles earlier in the day, so in a last ditch effort to halt the nonstop verbal assault on my eardrums, I said, let’s go to the MT Marketplace, find the required sesame paste, and make these dang noodles!

Suddenly, there was peace and quiet in the car. All you could hear was the hum of the engine. Ahhhhh. And then she said, “Really? We can do that tonight?” I handed her the address, told her to program the navigation system, and off we went. Of course, making our way through the market, where just about everything is written in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese, well, that’s altogether another funny story.

Side note: I am pretty sure we purchased Sesame Paste, unless Eye of Newt Puree tastes like sesame seeds…..
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Food Network

This cake was the definition of “the bomb”. Sabrina and I loved it. I purposely picked up more blueberries from Costco earlier in the week, just so I can make another cake. It’s super light, moist and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries (about 1 pint)

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a nonstick 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Beat 2 sticks butter, the granulated sugar and vegetable oil in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, at least 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Add about one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; beat until almost incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat 30 seconds. Finish incorporating the flour by hand to avoid overmixing.

Spoon one-third of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle in half of the blueberries, then top with another one-third of the batter. Scatter the remaining blueberries on top and cover with the rest of the batter; smooth the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 30 minutes in the pan. Run a small sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I had a great idea to make loaf of banana bread this morning. And, yes, it was in direct relation to the overripe bananas sitting on the counter, giving me the evil side-eye each time I passed them.

They’re threatening a hostile takeover if I don’t take action soon….

The problem I encountered is that when I went to find a recipe, I was confronted with 25 different variations on my site. Wait, what?

Um, yeah….. about that..

I have got to narrow the list down, and soon. After all, I am making great progress with the cookbook (obviously not in the banana bread department, thankyouverymuch….)

The way I see it, this is either going to be really easy, or really hard.
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The bigger question, though, is how in the world do I have 25 variations of banana bread?

Yeah, I’m betting this is going to be reallllllly hard…..

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake – adapted from Serious Eats

Although this isn’t a marble cake per se, I modified it by removing about a cup of batter, and blending in 1/4 cup of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. After spooning the chocolate chip batter into the pan, I poured the chocolate batter on top and barely swirled it through.

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan. Stir butter with sugar in a large bowl until very creamy. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Stir until almost combined. Stir in chips until combined and no white streaks of flour remain. Spoon into pan and bake until golden and just set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 45 minutes, then invert onto serving plate or cooling rack.

Mocha Marble Cake

Two weeks ago, I made a super short trip to Vegas to see Mom and Dad. Emphasis on the “super-short” part. I left Austin early Saturday morning, and returned late Sunday afternoon.

phew…. 

I purposely arranged my trip over the weekend, as I wanted to make sure the posse didn’t skip school during my brief absence. It’s not that I don’t trust them…… but I don’t trust them.

Anyway, before I left, and even though I was only going to be away for one night,  I prepped a pan of enchiladas for Alexander, Chicken Fajitas for Sabrina, and baked up two cakes. For her, a Banana Zucchini Bread – and for him, this Mocha Marble Cake.

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When I got back to the house Sunday afternoon, half of the cake was gone. His words? “Best cake ever, Mom”.

Mocha Marble Cake – adapted from a recipe by Flo Braker

1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tbs. hot water
¾ cup Hershey’s chocolate syrup
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the espresso powder and hot water. Stir the mixture into the chocolate syrup and set aside. Sift together the flour, and baking powder, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. On medium speed, slowly add the beaten eggs a bit at a time – this should take about 3 minutes.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the milk in two parts, scraping down the bowl between additions. Stir in the vanilla after the last addition of flour.

Spoon two thirds of the batter into the pan, and smooth the top. Stir the baking soda into the chocolate syrup mixture, and add this mixture to the remaining third of cake batter. Pour the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter and immediately put the pan into the oven. Bake until the cake is set, and a tester comes clean, about 65 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then unmold the cake and allow to cool completely.

Iced Lemon Cake

With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, 90% of my waking thoughts have turned to chocolate. Copious, gluttonous, obscene amounts of chocolate.

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And not just any form of chocolate, mind you – because while candy is dandy for some, my craving goes a bit (read: a LOT) deeper. Here’s my current mindset: a rich chocolate cake, filled with deep, dark chocolate custard, covered in smooth chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles. Then topped with chocolate ice cream and swimming in homemade hot fudge sauce.

yum.

Some people may cringe at the thought of all that chocolate, but I’m not like most people. If I could, I would eat chocolate all day, every day. However, since not all family members feel the way I do, I made them a bright, puckery Lemon Cake. It may not scream Valentine’s Day, but it sure is good.

Iced Lemon Cake -adapted from Ina Garten

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

So the posse leave tomorrow, and I’m a mix of emotions right now.

On one side, I’m a little bit relieved because I.need.a.break.

On the other side, I’m going to miss the little buggers.

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However, instead of being concerned about what to pack, or what time we should leave in the morning for the airport, the most pressing issue on their minds right now is what am I going to do without them for 9 days?!

The possibilities are endless…….. 

Pumpkin Spice Cake – adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 3/4  cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2  tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 – 15 ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a heavily greased 10-in. Bundt pan. Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or cream cheese icing. Yield: 12-16 servings.

 

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Let me tell you something about this cake.

You might want to make it … and soon. Really soon.

It’s that good.

It’s so good, in fact, it converted a vegetable-hating teenager into a vegetable-tolerating teenager. Vegetable-tolerating in cake form, that is. And this is the same teenager that tells me he isn’t much into sweets. Of course, he has repeatedly asked me to make him Tirasmisu again (which I just realized I haven’t posted yet), because he loved it so much when he had it at our house for our Easter dinner.

And they say women are contradictory?

As if…

And for your viewing pleasure, we have two views today…

Bad light:

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Better light:

P1000411Chocolate Zucchini Cake – adapted from Mother/Daughter Dishes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini, packed
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

 

Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a Bundt pan then set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a large bowl to remove any lumps, then set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, add eggs and beat on high speed for about 2−3 minutes with a hand mixer while gradually adding the sugar. The mixture will be pale yellow in color and have a thick, creamy consistency. Next, add the oil, applesauce and melted butter and beat thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and the shredded zucchini to the egg mixture and fold gently by hand until combined.

Pour the batter evenly into prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour before testing for doneness. The cake may take up to 75 minutes to bake but you’ll know it’s done when a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

 

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.