Sunday, December 15, 2013

Who wants chocolate cake?

Earlier this month, a friend posted about making a chocolate cake and how simple it was. Someone asked for the recipe and she replied it was on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa can. Curious, I picked up a can of said cocoa and the necessary ingredients to bake it. I have to say this is the most decadent chocolate cake I've ever tasted and not just because I baked it! I spread the middle layer of the cake with caramel sauce to make this my own. See what strikes you as a good middle layer topping.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1- 1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour two 9-in round  baking pans. Alternatively, you can line the bottom of the baking pans with parchment paper. (I will likely try this next time I make a cake as I had a bit of an issue when I removed the cakes after they had cooled.)
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla.
Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin) till completely incorporated.
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes.
Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Frost with "Perfectly Chocolate" frosting.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting

This is a super creamy frosting with a whipped consistency. Not sure if that was because I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer instead of a hand blender. Note: I had about 1-1/2 cups frosting left over. This recipe makes about 2 cups of frosting.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter.
Stir in cocoa.
Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, on medium speed until it reaches spreading consistency.
Add more milk, if needed.
Stir in vanilla.
Frost your cake.
I only used 2 cups of powdered sugar and it was plenty. This will be up to your discretion and how sweet you want your frosting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Winter has the area where I live in its clutches and I don't like it. My idea of rebelling against (or living in denial of) it all is baking something that reminds me of Summer. Pineapples remind me of warmer temps and sunny days. I looked through many cookbooks for just the right recipe. Many of the ones I came across involved a sheet cake and cream cheese for frosting or maraschino cherries and a cast iron skillet. Not really what I had in mind. Just when I was ready to give up, I found the below recipe in Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and tweaked it a bit. It is an unconventional recipe but give it a try. The results are delicious!


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1- 8 oz can pineapple slices, drained and halved
4 maraschino cherries, halved (Optional. I left them off)
*"Busy-Day Cake" batter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter on the lowest setting on the stove in a 9x1 and 1/2"  round baking pan.
Stir in sugar and 1 tablespoon water.
Remove from heat.
Arrange pineapple and cherries (optional) in the pan.
Prepare cake batter. (see below recipe)
Spoon cake batter over the pineapples/cherries, careful to not disturb their arrangement.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.
Loosen sides and invert onto plate.
I wasn't sure if I should glaze or just sprinkle powdered sugar on top. I decided to do a light glaze using 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar mixed with 1/2 tablespoon of milk.

*"Busy-Day Cake" batter

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until all ingredients are combined. Switch mixer to medium speed and beat for 1 minute.
Batter is now ready to pour into the cake pan where you've arranged the pineapples.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Zucchini Bacon Quiche

I was fortunate to move to a new home this past Summer. Not that I love moving, just that we arrived in time to share in the bounty from our neighbor's produce garden. One of the items was zucchini. I have never really known what to do with this vegetable other than to sauté it in olive oil or shred it and make chocolate zucchini cake. Wanting to expand my zucchini recipe knowledge, I asked our kind neighbor if she had a recipe for this vegetable that she really loved. She shared the below recipe and I am so thankful for this tasty, easy to put together dish.

Zucchini Bacon Quiche

1 can crescent rolls OR refrigerated pie crust (Pillsbury)
2 teaspoons of prepared mustard
6 diced bacon strips
3 cups of thinly sliced zucchini (about 2 medium size)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

If using crescent rolls:
Separate into 8 triangles. Place in greased 10" pie plate with pointy side towards center. Press dough onto bottom and up the sides of pie plate to form a crust. Seal perforations.

If using refrigerated pie crust:
Spread crust onto pie plate and press into place.

Using a pastry brush, spread the mustard onto the bottom of the crust.
Set aside.

In skillet, cook the bacon crisp. Reserve enough of the drippings (about 2 tbsp) to saute zucchini and onion until tender.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and pour onto the crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cover edges of the crust with aluminum foil if you see that it's getting too dark. (I've never had that problem.)

Let cool 5 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chicken Chili Verde

I have been searching for a great chili verde recipe. I felt a bit like Goldilocks during the research phase: this one's too runny, this one's too bland, this one takes too long...  Follows my adaptation of three recipes. After all, what is cooking but adaptation and interpretation?

Chicken Chili Verde

4 cups chicken stock ( add more or less depending on how thick you like your chili)
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 (15- oz) cans Cannellini beans, drained
2 cups salsa verde (I use store bought but there are many recipes for homemade on the internet)
1/2 envelope McCormicks (or your personal fave) chicken chili seasoning
(alternatively you can add 2 tsp ground cumin and 2 tsp chili seasoning)

Optional toppings: sliced or diced avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, crumbled tortilla strips and shredded cheese.

Combine chicken stock, shredded chicken, beans, salsa verde, and seasonings in a soup pot. Heat on medium high and bring to boil. Stir then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Let cook at least 30 minutes. Serve with desired toppings and may I highly suggest the avocado? It brings a creamy texture to this wonderful chili.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Welcome to my first post as "CMart Cooks." As I was pondering what recipe I should share first, I thought, why not the cake that I'm still eating?

Earlier this week I had a "baking don't." It was a shame as it involved apples from our tree. (Sorry, David!) To redeem myself, I baked a banana chocolate chip cake the easy peasy way-using cake mix. I know, please don't judge. I got the idea for this experiment when a friend of mine posted she was looking for an easy pumpkin bread recipe and a friend of hers replied she should try spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Genius! As I looked at the 2 ripe, lonely bananas on my kitchen counter, it came to me: 


2-3 medium sized very ripe bananas
1 box of your choice brand of a yellow cake mix (I used a Super Moist version.)
1/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1/2 cup of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips (or more if you desire)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a Bundt cake pan.
Mash bananas and set aside.
Mix cake mix, eggs and applesauce together with an electric mixer.
Add in the mashed bananas until incorporated into the batter.
Right before you're ready to pour batter into the pan, add the chocolate chips and mix by hand. 
Pour into the cake pan.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted towards the middle comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan. If you want to use a cooling rack, feel free. I just left it in the pan until it was completely cooled and then I removed it.

It looked very rustic and I debated whether to glaze it or leave as is. I glazed.

Glaze Recipe:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Whisk together. Drizzle over cake.