Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Honey Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake


One word to describe how this cake tastes: DIVINE.  It's so rich, but at the same time you have to go back for another piece.  Hope y'all try it!

Honey Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
7 eggs, separated
2-1/2 cups flour
1  tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz can evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
5 Tbsp honey, divided

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350° F, and cream butter and sugar.  Add egg yolks until creamy and blended.  Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Stir in vanilla, and beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter, and pour into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan.  Bake for 25-28 minutes; while baking, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 2 tablespoons honey, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a large measuring cup or medium bowl.  Pierce the top of the hot cake generously with the end of a wooden spoon.  Gradually pour milk mixture over cake, about 1/3 cup at a time, spreading to the edges.  Let stand 2 hours, cover, and chill for 2 additional hours (if you can wait that long!).  Beat remaining 1 cup whipping cream until foamy, and add remaining 3 tablespoons honey, beating until soft peaks form.  Spread over top of cake, and sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired; let sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Hope y'all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

Aloo Gobi (curried cauliflower and potatoes)


So, funny story about this dish, haha.  I was boiling my water for the potato....but I couldn't find it anywhere!  I remember putting it in the bag in the grocery store, but it mysteriously disappeared when it came time to cook the dish!  But I made it with only the cauliflower, and it turned out just as well....so if you're silly like me and forget the potato, never fear!  :P

Aloo Gobi (curried cauliflower and potatoes)

INGREDIENTS 
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1“ ginger, chopped
ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala 
turmeric, to taste
red chili powder, to taste
mustard seeds 
sesame or peanut oil 
salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Boil water and salt, and add potato pieces until just soft.  Add the cauliflower florets, salt, and enough turmeric to flavor the potatoes and cauliflower, and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain the water completely and keep aside.  Heat oil and mustard seeds until they start to pop; be careful not to get hot oil on your skin!  Add grated garlic until light brown, and add the diced onions until transparent. Add salt, turmeric to taste, and chilli powder.  Add tomatoes, garam masala, and ginger, and sauté until the tomatoes cook completely. Add the cooked cauliflower and potato, and mix well. Cover, and sprinkle water in if necessary.  Serve warm.

Hope y'all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

Chicken and Chickpea Tagine


Life in Urbana has been AMAZING.  On Sunday night, I went over to hear some friends play music they've been writing and/or working on, and it reminded me so much of Oberlin's folk scene!  It was great to meet new people, and I finally got to play with my friend Morgan, who I was supposed to collaborate/record with at the beginning of the summer.  Yesterday I had my usual Monday day off, and I met up with an old friend for Thai food and went shopping at Art Mart.  Usually Mondays are my cooking days, and I was looking through my many cookbooks to figure out what I wanted to make.  My very good friend Molly called and wanted to come for dinner, so I decided to try my middle eastern recipes, Chicken and Chickpea Tagine, Aloo Gobi, and Honey Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake for dessert!  It was seriously the BEST dinner I have ever put together :)  




















After we ate dinner and one slice of cake.....we had two more while watching Atonement, along with bawling the whole time.  It was such a great evening, and a FANTASTIC dinner to boot.  I would definitely recommend making these dishes; they won't last long, trust me!

Chicken and Chickpea Tagine

INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 tomatoes, diced
2½ cups chickpeas, canned or dry chickpeas soaked overnight (I just used canned and it turned out fine!)
½-¾ cups raisins and dried apricots
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup water
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt, for dredging

DIRECTIONS 
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot.  Cook the onion stirring occasionally, until it softens.  Add the garlic, and add salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, pepper, and cayenne pepper, stirring to incorporate all of the spices.  Add tomatoes, chickpeas, dried fruit, and vanilla extract, and bring to a boil. Add more water, rub the chickens with salt, and pour into the soup pot.  Adjust heat so the mixture simmers steadily, and cook for 45 minutes-1 hour.  Serve warm with couscous.

Hope y'all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Strawberry Pancakes



Wow, it is such a gorgeous morning today!  I'm looking outside at the lake, with the sun reflecting over the ripples in the water, and it's just such a peaceful morning.  

Yesterday was SUCH a good day---I went to lunch with an old friend from Oberlin, and it was just so wonderful to hang out with her!  We never really got to hang out that much while at Oberlin, so I hope we can start doing that here in Urbana!  Then I went to hear the Boneyard Quintet at the Iron Post....man, they were sounding really good.  It was nice to get drunk and visit with old friends, haha....and I was out with some friends until midnight last night!  I was pretty beat, but I really haven't gone out by myself, with friends, in a LONG time.

Anyway, so I woke up this morning, and thought to myself: man....I haven't had pancakes in a long time!  I bought these gorgeous strawberries at County Market the other day, and it occurred to me: why don't I make STRAWBERRY PANCAKES?  They are SO delicious, and a perfect summer treat :)  Please make these if you're looking for a way to use up your strawberries....I guarantee you'll want more than one!

Strawberry Pancakes

INGREDIENTS
1-1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
7-8 diced strawberries
   

DIRECTIONS
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In a measuring cup combine the milk, egg yolks and butter. Stir into the dry ingredients lightly, stirring until lumpy and just combined; add in strawberries.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold gently into the rest of the batter.  Cook pancakes on a preheated, buttered griddle. Serve with maple syrup and additional strawberries, if desired.

Hope y'all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parmesan Tilapia



Today was one of those days where I just wanted to sit on my couch all day....so going to work at 3 pm was REALLY tough.  Last night, I was feeling pretty down, because I feel like my best friend and I are growing apart.  If I knew if and what I did, it would make me feel better, but she's not talking to me at all about anything!  And for some reason, things like that are REALLY tough/impossible for me to get over.  Hopefully one day she'll try and contact me, but for now I just have to ignore it and move on with my life :(

To cheer me up a little, I decided to make one of my favorite meals of all time: Parmesan Tilapia.  It's TOTAL comfort food....seriously.  Loads of parmesan cheese, flaky white fish, butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, and tomato sauce....what else could be better?  And I paired it with pasta, a side salad with red and green peppers, and my left-over snickerdoodles.  I have a good feeling that things are gonna start looking up for me soon....(especially since I got my paycheck today!)  


This recipe is seriously the easiest in the entire world, so I'd recommend making it if you're looking for a 30-minute meal!


Parmesan Tilapia
(from Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS
2 tilapia filets
salt and pepper, to taste
generous amount of tomato sauce
generous amount of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp melted butter

DIRECTIONS
Grease a square baking dish with butter, and place the washed tilapia filets in the dish.  Season with salt and pepper, and coat with tomato sauce.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, drizzle melted butter on top, and bake in a 425º F oven for 20 minutes.

Hope y'all enjoy!
xoxo, Sara

Monday, August 22, 2011

Snickerdoodles



Today I had NOTHING to do!  I haven't had a day like that in....god, since I was sitting on the couch at home!  So I did all of my dishes (which was a LOT), cleaned up the rooms, and bought some odds and ends for the apartment.  I got this really cute bedspread, and my room is definitely screaming Sara more than ever:


After all of my errands were done and I cleaned the kitchen, I fixed myself dinner: a chicken, bacon, and tomato sandwich, freshly cut-up watermelon, and leftover corn chowder.  While eating dinner, I watched The Parent Trap....and pretty much bawled the entire time.  Alas, throughout the teary eyes, I had this urge to make a simple dessert, like cookies.  I didn't want to spend more money and go to the grocery store again, and I had leftover cinnamon and sugar from the churro cupcakes.  The obvious solution was....snickerdoodle cookies!

These cookies are one of my favorites, because they're not too rich (which unfortunately means you can eat a ton without feeling too stuffed, haha).  I would highly recommend baking these....they're so tasty and make your house smell like Christmas!

Snickerdoodles (makes 24 cookies)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350º F, and cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg, and then add vanilla extract.  Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually add flour mixture into butter mixture, form into a ball, and wrap in saran wrap.  Place in the refrigerator, and chill for 1 hour.  Unwrap the dough, and take out small chunks of dough and roll into balls.  Dip in cinnamon and sugar mixed together, and place on baking sheets (flatten with the bottom of a glass, if desired---I didn't flatten them, and I think they look just as pretty!).  Bake for 8-10 minutes, let cool, and serve with a cold glass of milk.

Hope y'all enjoy!
xoxo, Sara

Churro Cupcakes



During this crazy weekend, I was trying to schedule a time to hang out with one of my very good friends, Tad.  He was leaving for college, and both of us kept on having conflicts....we finally came up with a solution, to eat beer and cupcakes!  I decided to make Churro cupcakes, which I'd been DYING to make since May.  Churros are one of my favorite treats to have....I had some in Mexico, and had a life-changing experience after eating those churros.

These cupcakes may be some of the best cupcakes I've ever made.....I highly recommend making these.  They are incredibly addictive and make your house smell heavenly and divine :)

Churro Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 cups milk
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp milk
1 egg white
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of cinnamon

1 cup chilled whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350ºF, and in a large bowl sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.  Combine almond milk and vinegar, and whisk in sugar, butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth, and fill cupcake liners with batter.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, and let cool completely.


Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Slowly whisk in the milk while over a double boiler, and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  Once thickened, add the chocolate and continue stirring for about 2-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a small bowl and cover, gently pressing a layer of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, the egg white, cream of tartar, and cinnamon in large bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes-1 hour.  Gradually beat chilled cream into chocolate mixture, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

With a small pairing knife, cut out cones from the tops of the cupcakes; set aside the cones.  Spoon chocolate pudding filling into each cupcake.  Cut off the pointy part of the cone, and press the tops over the pudding.  Spread the whipped cream frosting on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixed together on top.


Hope y'all enjoy!


xoxo, Sara

Chipotle and Green Chile Corn Chowder


I have FINALLY moved into my apartment/condo in Champaign!!  It was very much a fiasco, though....on the way to Wilmington, where my Grandma's beach is, I lost my driver's license :(  At first, it was extremely difficult to travel, because the people at the airline counters had completely different rules regarding ID cards than the people at the security station.  But I finally made it to Illinois!  Unfortunately, I needed to get a license to be able to drive to my jobs, etc, so I had to go to the DMV to get all of that sorted out.  For those of you that haven't tried getting a license as a recently graduated college student, IT'S SO FRUSTRATING.  After several days of panicking, wondering if I had all of the 473184708174 documents, I officially have my Illinois license!

My parents left town on Friday morning, and although it was sad to see them depart, I was SO excited to be able to live by myself!  Admittedly, my life in Urbana-Champaign is going to be REALLY busy....and this weekend for me was pretty crazy!  I had a gig every night, along with stressful days of work.  Luckily, I had a relatively calm day on Sunday, so I decided to make corn chowder for lunch/dinner/the next several days.

I've never made corn chowder before, but it is one of my favorite soups to order in a restaurant or buffet/cafeteria style.  This recipe has chipotle peppers and green chiles, which adds a lot of spice (which I LOVE)!  The corn here in Illinois is extremely sweet and delicious, and went perfectly with the soup.  I hope you guys decide to make it; it's extremely delicious, and soothing for any summer allergies you might have.

Chipotle and Green Chile Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 Tbsp butter
1-½ yellow onions, diced
5 ears corn, shucked and sliced off the cob
2 whole chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, finely diced
4 oz diced green chilies
32 oz chicken broth
1-½ cups heavy whipping cream
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp corn meal
¼ cups water

DIRECTIONS
Cook bacon pieces in a pot for a couple of minutes, and cook the diced onion and stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add butter, add corn, and stir and cook for 1 minute. Add both kinds of chilies and stir. Pour in chicken broth, cream, and salt, stir, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and 
combine cornmeal with water.  Pour into the chowder, cover, and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.  Once consistency is reached, and serve warm with a piece of toasted french bread.


Hope y'all enjoy!


xoxo, Sara

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Hey everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but I've been in places where I wasn't able to have internet access.  I traveled to Florida for my uncle's wedding, and then went to Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina, where my grandmother owns some condos.  It was the most amazing trip for me, mainly because I've had my ass on the couch for months at a time!  Florida was wonderful; it was great to see my relatives and meet new family :)  Of course the wedding was fun, the cake was beautiful, and I got to swing dance!  The beach was probably my favorite though; if I were done with school and had enough money to live on, I would move to the beach in a second.  Seriously.  This was the view of the beach from our condo:


I know.  UNBELIEVABLE.  So, while I was at the beach, I decided to bake something for my family.  The day I made the cobbler, there were some tears, yelling, private conversations, etc.  But the good thing about anything made with butter, sugar, and fresh fruit is it makes EVERYTHING better, including the most crazy drama.  :)


Anyway, I hope you guys decide to try this peach cobbler recipe.  It's unbelievably delicious, and I have made it twice this summer....whoops.  :P


Hill Country Peach Cobbler

INGREDIENTS
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk 
3 cups sliced fresh peaches
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350º F, and melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat until browned.  Pour the butter into an 8-inch square baking dish.  In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk.  Pour the mixture over the butter, but do not stir.  Arrange the peaches evenly on top of the batter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar (I mixed them together before sprinkling them on top).  Bake the cobbler for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.

Hope y'all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara