Monday, July 26, 2010

Meal Plan 7/26-8/1

Meal plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.




Previous Week (Meal Plan 7/19-7/25)


Monday, I made balsamic chicken with white rice. The leftovers were eaten on Wednesday. Tuesday, we ate ground beef tacos with homemade flour tortillas and tomato salsa. I was going to make guacamole, but when I cut into the avocados they were spoiled. Betty Crapper should have refrigerated them when they were ready a few days before. Lesson learned. Thursday and Sunday, we had spaghetti and salad. Betty Crapper will never, ever tire of spaghetti. She has tired of pizza. Last week I ate more pizza than I did as a freshman in college many years ago. I had pizza for lunch Tuesday, dinner Friday, dinner Saturday, lunch Sunday. NO MORE PIZZA (at least in the next week). Only Friday's pizza was homemade. Unfortunately I never made the peach chicken and it will be carried over to this week.


Meal Plan 7/26-8/1


Monday: four cheese baked penne
Tuesday: peach chicken with white rice
Wednesday: ham fried rice
Thursday: chicken parmesan
Friday: mini meat loaves with buttermilk mashed potatoes
Saturday: grilled pork tenderloin
Sunday: TBD


Baking/Sweets Wish List


Last week we finished eating the Tiramisu cake and I made lemon sorbet and raspberry granita (look for upcoming post). I still have a good amount in the freezer. If I have time I may make chocolate chip cookies.


I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness!


If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie






Have a fantastic week and thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tiramisu Cake


This cake is time consuming, but it is worth making for a special occasion. Betty Crapper chose her husband's birthday to make this cake; however, I underestimated the time it would take to make, assemble, and chill and we ate the cake the following day. Don't let that dissuade you from making the cake. Remember, Betty Crapper has an 11 month old.

  

Begin by buttering and flouring two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and place pans on a baking sheet. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. 


Sift together your cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside. Grab your room temperature butter, sugar, 3 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk. 



Beat butter on medium until soft and creamy. Add sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each. Beat in the vanilla. Betty Crapper would not want to mix this cake batter with a hand held mixer. Her wimpy arms would get really tired. 


Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Divide batter into both pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating cake pans halfway through. Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and remove parchment paper. Cool to room temperature right side up.



When you are ready to assemble your Tiramisu cake you will need espresso (or instant espresso powder), water, sugar, Kahlua, mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla, heavy cream, and bittersweet chocolate. You will be making espresso extract, espresso syrup, and a frosting. These were my favorite parts of the cake.

For the espresso extract, I made Cuban coffee with my stove top espresso machine. I grabbed the first four tablespoons of cafe that came out. These first drops tend to be the richest and thickest.

To make the syrup, you heat water and sugar just until it comes to a boil. Then you add 1 tablespoon of espresso syrup.

The frosting is made by whisking the mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla, and Kahlua until blended. Use your stand mixer to whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. LIghtly fold in the rest of the whipped cream.



To assemble, place one layer on your serving plate right side up. Soak the layer with 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Smooth about 1 1/4 cups of the frosting over the layer. Press the chopped chocolate into the frosting. Soak the other cake layer with half the remaining syrup. Place the cake layer, soak side down, on top of the chopped chocolate. Soak the top of the cake with the rest of the syrup.

Whisk 1 tablespoon of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining frosting. Frost your cake and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 1 day. Before serving dust the top with cocoa.



Tiramisu Cake
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my Home to Yours)


cake


2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk


espresso extract


2 tbsp espresso powder
2 tbsp boiling water


or about 4 tbsp espresso


espresso syrup


1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp Kahlua


frosting


8 ounces mascarpone
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Kahlua
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


cocoa powder, for dusting


Making the cake


Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 9-inch rounds. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and place pans on a baking sheet.


Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.


In a large bowl beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add eggs individually, and then the yolk. Beat for 1 minute after each egg. Beat in vanilla.


Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients (3 additions) alternately with the buttermilk (2 additions).


Place the batter in the pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 28-30 minutes until cakes test done. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and remove the parchment paper. Place cakes right side up on wire rack and cool completely.


Making the extract


In a small bowl, stir espresso powder with boiling water. Or make espresso. Set aside.


Making the syrup


In a small saucepan stir the water and sugar and bring just to a boil. Pour syrup into a bowl and then stir 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the Kahlua. Set aside.


Making the frosting


In a large bowl whisk the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and Kahlua until smooth. In another bowl whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Very gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream.


Assembly


If the layers are not even, use a serrated knife to level. Place one layer right side up on cake plate. Protect plate with strips of parchment paper. Use a pastry brush or spoon and soak the first layer with 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Smooth 1 1/4 cup of the frosting over the layer. Gently press the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate onto the frosting. Put the second layer on the counter and soak with half the remaining syrup. Turn layer over and place (soaked side down) on top of the first layer. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.


Whisk 1 tablespoon of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining frosting. Frost the sides of the cake and the top.


Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to one day. Just before serving dust the top with cocoa.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meal Plan 7/19-7/25

Previous Week (Meal Plan 7/12-7/18)


Meal plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.




Last Sunday I made focaccia dough for the first time and baked it on Monday to go with our spaghetti dinner. The rosemary focaccia was delicious and will be made again.


Tuesday, we ate picadillo with brown rice and roasted potato wedges. The plate looked very brown and sad, so we decided to add a splash of color to our meal and opened an amazing bottle of wine. 


Wednesday, I was supposed to make balsamic chicken; however someone in the house (not Betty Crapper) was craving fast food fried chicken. Betty Crapper said no way. I compromised and breaded the chicken. A little olive oil and butter in the skillet and we had some delicious cutlets a few minutes later. 


On Thursday, I had planned on leftovers. Betty Crapper ate spaghetti. Have I told you how I can eat spaghetti every single day?


Friday, Betty Crapper made pepperoni pizza on her new baking stone. What happened to her old one? hmmmmm



oops. Betty Crapper struck again! I swear I set it, very gently, in the sink to rinse. Do you think it was revenge? 

Friday, I also made a very moist and delicious apple cake. Look for an upcoming post.

Saturday, we ate churrasco with chimichurri sauce and roasted potatoes. The steak was great; however next time I won't add so much garlic to the chimichurri sauce. I also baked and assembled a tiramisu cake. Because I procrastinated, we were not able to indulge until Sunday. Look for an upcoming tiramisu cake post.

On Sunday, we went to my in laws for dinner. They grilled steaks, chicken, and vegetable skewers. We also ate salad, rice, and roasted sweet potatoes. For dessert we had a very yummy tiramisu cake! It's amazing I didn't roll out of there. Betty Crapper is still stuffed.


Meal Plan 7/19-7/25


Monday: balsamic chicken with white rice
Tuesday: ground beef tacos
Wednesday: leftovers 
Thursday: homemade pizza and salad
Friday: spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce
Saturday: peach chicken
Sunday: TBD


Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)
If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chicken Paella


Chicken paella is one of my favorites. Betty Crapper could eat several platefuls quite happily.

It's not the quickest meal to put together, but requires minimal effort once you have the chicken and chorizo browned. I find the hardest thing about the dish is removing the casing from the chorizo. Betty Crapper really hates getting chorizo under her fingernails.

You will need chicken broth, chopped tomatoes, white rice, peas, olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, chopped onions, minced garlic, sliced chorizo, and cut up chicken thighs. 

Don't skip the saffron. Buy it because you will make this dish again. It's good. Betty Crapper would not lie to you.


Once you have everything chopped, sliced, minced, and measured you are ready to go. 
Brown the chorizo, followed by the chicken. Let them hang out in a plate while you saute the onions and garlic.


The hard part is done. Add a little chicken broth to the pan and scrape up all the browned bits. Return the chicken and chorizo to the skillet and add the rest of your ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven. After 25-30 minutes it's done. The rice will be hiding under the chicken, chorizo, peas, tomatoes, and olives. I promise.
Stir it all together and it will look like this:


Betty Crapper would not lie to you. Trust me, she is a horrible liar.

Chicken Paella
(inspired by Ellie Krieger's So Easy)

2 tbsp olive oil
3 ounces Spanish chorizo, casing removed, sliced into 1/4 in rounds
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 ounces frozen peas (half package)
1  cup uncooked white rice
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to season chicken
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season chicken
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
small pinch of saffron

Preheat oven to 375 F. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper, set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large, oven-proof skillet with lid. Brown chorizo and remove to a plate (about 3 minutes). Next, brown chicken in batches and remove to a plate (about 5 minutes each batch).

Add remaining oil to skillet. Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute. Add some of the chicken broth to pan and scrape up all the brown bits. Return chicken and chorizo to skillet and add the remaining ingredients (rest of broth, peas, rice, tomato, olives, and spices). Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook 25-30 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir and serve.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Tips/Notes
  • Don't forget to season your chicken with salt and pepper before browning. I have made this recipe without seasoning the chicken, as Ellie Krieger wrote her recipe, and have found the chicken pieces to be tasteless in the finished dish. 
  • My recipe has half the amount of peas called for by Ellie Krieger. When I made the dish with 10 ounces of peas, the peas were overwhelming.
  • Use caution when removing the skillet from the oven. Betty Crapper once (ok twice) absentmindedly reached into the oven without protection and burned herself. Oops! That handle sure does get hot.
  • This recipe doubles very well and makes great food for a party. Just make it in a large Dutch oven.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meal Plan 7/12-7/18

Previous Week (Meal Plan 7/5-7/11)

Meal plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out; some good, some not so good.



On Monday, the eight ears of corn taking up space in my kitchen were evicted and I made fresh corn soup with roasted corn guacamole. The soup was exceptionally spicy, and excellent as usual. Dessert was lemon sorbet.

Tuesday's ground beef tacos did not disappoint. We really love this meal.

Wednesday, Betty Crapper was supposed to make chicken paella; however I felt like pizza instead. I should have stuck with the meal plan. Betty Crapper waved her magic wand and ruined the pizza. I assembled it perfectly, with three cheeses (fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and parmigiano-reggiano). It just wasn't meant to be. As I attempted to transfer the pizza from the peel to the stone, disaster struck. The pizza folded over onto the hot stone. Betty Crapper almost cried and ate it anyway.

On Thursday, Betty Crapper decided to reheat a homemade waffle for dinner. The pizza disaster was too recent too cook. Waffles are great with vanilla ice cream.

Friday afternoon I made banana bread with bananas far past their prime. The baking loaves smelled so good, I ate half a loaf for dinner.

The chicken paella finally got made on Saturday. It was delicious both Saturday and Sunday. Look for an upcoming chicken paella post. Spaghetti and focaccia will wait until Monday.

Meal Plan 7/12-7/18

Monday: spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce and rosemary focaccia
Tuesday: picadillo with brown rice
Wednesday: balsamic chicken with brown rice
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: pepperoni pizza
Saturday: churrasco with roasted potato wedges
Sunday: TBD

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)
  • apple cake on Monday
  • Tiramisu cake



If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunshine Award



Sarah from Baking Serendipity has given me the Sunshine Award. Thank you so much. The recognition is much appreciated. 


Per instructions, I am supposed to share this award with 12 blogs. I chose to share with blogs who frequently light up my day. Betty Crapper does not mind if you do not follow instructions. You are worthy of recognition.
  1. Alicia's Homemaking 
  2. Angel Foods Kitchen
  3. Barrister Bites
  4. Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
  5. Diary of a First Child 
  6. Know Whey 
  7. Lindy & Ree 
  8. Mommie Cooks! 
  9. Ms. enPlace
  10. My Kitchen in the Rockies
  11. Rachel Cotterill 
  12. Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lemon Sorbet


I don't know if you've noticed, but it's been really hot. Around here, summer has definitely arrived and won't be leaving until sometime in November. South Florida is a great place, from November to April. Now, not so much.  

You step outside and immediately feel like you've entered a sauna. The AC in your car does not feel cool until you have arrived at your destination. There is only so much heat Betty Crapper can take before she melts, or has a melt down.

A few days ago a bag of lemons prevented a melt down. I was hot. I was tired. Betty Crapper's ten month old was crying to be picked up; and then, I saw the bag of lemons on the counter.



Betty Crapper has a weakness for frozen lemonade. How many spoonfuls do you think she ate before the sorbet was completely frozen?


Lemon Sorbet
Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
zest from 2 lemons
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (6-7 lemons)

Mix 1/2 cup water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add the zest of 2 lemons. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 cups water. Chill mixture in refrigerator. Once chilled add the lemon juice and freeze in your ice cream maker. Makes about 1 quart.

Notes

It was very tart and perfect for me. I can't wait to make it again. 

I gave some to my mother in law and it was too tart for her. If you like your lemonade sweet use 1 1/4 cups sugar! 

How do you like your lemonade? Betty Crapper wants to know.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chicken with Warm Tomato Corn Salad


This dish is perfect for summer. It cooks quickly so you don't have to sweat very long in a hot kitchen. It's also light and perfect for the night before you need to fit into a bathing suit. 


All you need are cherry tomatoes, corn, garlic, scallions (green onions), cilantro, limes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chicken breasts. I feel healthy already.


Don't forget to season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Betty Crapper has made this mistake before. I don't recommend you skip it.

Once you've preheated your skillet, brown your chicken breasts in a little olive oil. Remove chicken to a plate and get started on that yummy tomato corn salad.



Add some more olive oil to the skillet. Saute the scallion whites, followed by the garlic. Toss in your tomatoes and corn. Stir and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Cook for a few minutes, until tomatoes and corn soften.


Add the scallion greens and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve sprinkled with fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Chicken with Warm Tomato Corn Salad
(adapted from Ellie Krieger's book So Easy)

1 1/4 lbs chicken breasts, cut thin
salt 
pepper
4 tsp olive oil
4 scallions, whites and greens separated, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to skillet. Add the scallion whites and cook for about 1 minute. Stir frequently. Add the garlic, stirring constantly, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and corn to the pan and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion greens and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When serving, sprinkle with fresh lime juice and cilantro.



Tips

  • This dish is so quick to put together, I definitely recommend prepping all the ingredients before you start. 
  • It is a really light meal. I serve mine with white rice to make it more substantial. 
  • If you are serving white rice, start the rice before you begin chopping and everything should be done at the same time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Blog with Substance

A Blog With Substance

April at Angel Foods Kitchen has given me an award. Thank you April for deeming my blog "a blog with substance." It sure does feel great to get recognition from your peers. Thank you! It is appreciated.

The guidelines for accepting this award are:
(Betty Crapper doesn't mind if you break the rules.)
  • thank the person who gave you the award.
  • sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience in/with five words.
  • choose ten other blogs you consider to have substance.
Betty Crapper's philosophy, motivation, and experience in five words
  1. fun (philosophy, motivation)
  2. humorous (philosophy)
  3. welcoming (philosophy)
  4. hunger (motivation)
  5. novice (experience)
Ten Blogs with Substance

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal Plan 7/5-7/11

Previous Week (Meal Plan 6/28-7/4)

Meal plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.

Monday, I was supposed to make shredded chicken tacos. I was pressed for time and made chicken fajitas instead. It would have taken too long to shred chicken and take pics. It was nearing sleepy time for the baby. Betty Crapper was racing the clock and almost didn't make it. Oh the sacrifices Betty Crapper has to make when she procrastinates!


On Tuesday, we ate pepperoni pizza. Will I ever tire of homemade pizza? If you haven't made homemade pizza dough, what are you waiting for? It freezes really well.


Wednesday was a busy day for me and I was out and about running errands. It was way too hot and I was not up to cooking soup. We ate salad and bread instead.


Thursday, I made SnoWhite' three cheese ziti. Her recipe is fantastic and I highly recommend you try it. We will definitely have that on the menu again.


On Friday we ate chicken with warm tomato corn salad and white rice. Look for the recipe in an upcoming post.

Saturday and Sunday we did not cook and ate takeout and some leftovers. Oh well, better luck next week.

Meal Plan 7/5-7/11

Wednesday: chicken paella and homemade whole wheat bread
Thursday: homemade pizza, toppings TBD
Friday: leftover chicken paella
Saturday: spaghetti and meatballs with rosemary focaccia
Sunday: TBD

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness!

Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)
If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

White Rice


Growing up I ate white rice every day. If that sounds odd to you, let me inform you that I was born and raised in Miami and my heritage is Cuban. We ate white rice every day because white rice goes with everything. At least that's what the Cuban in me thinks. 

I can't think of a Cuban dish that is not served with white rice, often topped with black beans. White rice is a staple that is even served alongside traditional American holiday fare. You want white rice with your Fourth of July hamburgers and hot dogs? 

My abuela always rinsed her rice to get rid of excess starch. I don't rinse mine, but you are welcome to if you want. Cubans also do not usually serve their white rice sticky.

Arroz Blanco

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a lidded pot on the stove. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover pot, and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Leave covered for 5 - 10 minutes. Uncover and serve.

The rice may also be made in a rice cooker. I kid you not, my family sent me off to college with a Hitachi rice cooker. Those things are fool-proof, or in my case Betty Crapper-proof!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spring Mix Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Red Onions


Yesterday, I had fresh corn soup with roasted corn guacamole on the menu. Before you think I'm nuts, I have my thermostat set incredibly low year round here in South Florida. It's always soup weather in Betty Crapper's house.

The thing is, I was not inside the house yesterday, I was out running errands most of the day. I felt the heat and the soul crushing humidity. I almost melted, twice. Betty Crapper could not make soup (and her avocados were rock hard).

The only thing I felt like eating was a cold salad. I diced up a tomato, half a peeled and seeded cucumber, and an 1/8 of a red onion. I plopped these goodies on a bed of baby leaves and whisked up a red wine vinaigrette. A store-bought french baguette and lots of butter completed my meal and kept my tummy happy.

Red Wine Vinaigrette  

1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients. 


Stay Cool!