Sunday, November 28, 2010

{TWD} Rewind Recipe: Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It's the time of year that we all count our many blessings, and I know that one on all of our lists (if you're not cuh-razy, that is) is chocolate!  This is a food blog, folks, you don't have to feel guilty or silly admitting that here.  As a matter of fact, it's something to be proud of here in the kitch!  Another thing I'm thankful for is the fact that we got to choose a rewind recipe for the baking group Tuesdays With Dorie, because that is the reason I was able to bake these delicious little ditties!  Chocolate for breakfast?  Don't mind if I do.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins
From Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan


6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2. tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and butter a regular-size muffin tin with 12 molds.
2. Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave.  Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In another large bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined.
5. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  Don't worry about being thorough - a few lumps  are better than overmixing the batter.
6. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate.
7. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
8. Bake ~20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Trifle & Brussels Sprouts Gratin for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I know I'm a bit early, but I have to be if you're going to use any of my Thanksgiving recipes for the big day.  I've only got two, but they're out of this world!  I'm posting them both today to give you as much notice as possible (what, 2 full days isn't enough?!).  I just made them for our first family Thanksgiving celebration yesterday, and both were big, BIG hits.  I'm still getting FaceBook comments about them.

My favorite part about Thanksgiving is all the delicious food, of course, and even more so the Gingerbread house decorating after dinner (see pictures at the very bottom of this post).  Many people would tell you that the Pumpkin Pie is their favorite part of Turkey Day.  You're going to have to trust me when I tell you that you should just forget about the pie this year.  Blasphemy, you say?  Not so.  I'm giving you a much better alternative!  It is this fabulous Pumpkin Cream Trifle that will have you "mmmmm-ing" and "yummmmm-ing" with every single bite.  You're just going to die!  My friend, Keri, that gave me this recipe titled it "The BEST dessert ever," and I do believe she is right!

Pumpkin Cream Trifle
From Keri Abney

for the cake

1 package spice cake mix
1 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In a large bowl, combine these eight ingredients, mixing well.  Transfer to a 9x13 inch nonstick baking pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  At this point, the cake can be frozen for later use.

Making the Trifle

2 c. cold milk
2 3.4 oz packages instant cheesecake pudding mix
1 8 oz carton whipped topping, thawed
1 c. chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
*3/4 c. English Toffee bits (Skor bars mashed up work perfect)
*I used 8 Skor bars (just to make sure...)

Combine milk and pudding mixes; whisk for 2 minutes.  Fold in whipped topping.  Cut cake into 1-inch cubes.  Layer cake, pudding mixture, pecans & Skor bar bits in a glass 3 quart bowl or trifle dish; repeat to make three layers of each.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serves 15-20.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2010


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stems removed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c. bread crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2-quart baking dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
2. Drain the Brussels sprouts and coarsely chop.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and toss with the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, then spread out evenly.  Pour the cream on top, sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs and dot with butter pieces.
3. Bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Gingerbread "Heaven"

It's tradition to decorate Gingerbread houses every Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. 

A tradition we all love.

Although looking at these pictures, I'm not exactly sure why. HA!

When the houses are bare, there are smiles all around...

But when the candy and icing come out, so do our true colors...

 Just for a minute...

and then they're back again...

 until Chow hides every last bit of candy inside her house...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creamy, Crunchy Apple Dip

If chocolate or cheese were food groups, one of those would probably be my favorite...or maybe even tie for my very favorite food group.  But since neither of those gets it's own category, I choose fruit as my favorite food group.  You can eat it on your cereal/oatmeal/toast/yogurt/waffles/pancakes for breakfast, as a snack, on the side of your lunch & dinner, mixed in with your salad for lunch or dinner, and with a little sugar for dessert - fruit is the jack-of-all-meals.  And I love fruit for that reason.  But you want to know something else I love about fruit?  You can pair it with something completely unhealthy and not feel quite as guilty as you normally would eating that unhealthy thing.  A perfect example of that situation is the apple dip I'm sharing with you today.  It's absolutely divine, and definitely one of those things you could find yourself licking the bowl clean after finishing it off.  Cheese.  Brown Sugar.  Heath bar.  It's literally that simple.  Don't forget the apples, though, or you're in for a major guilt trip.

Creamy, Crunchy Apple Dip
Something I picked up somewhere...I just don't remember!


8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 - 3/4 c. heath bar bits


Combine all 3 ingredients in a bowl & mix well, until the sugar is well-incorporated and not a grainy texture.  Serve with Granny Smith apples, or other fruit of your choice (also very good with bananas!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

I'm a big fan of traditions.  As a matter of fact, I love 'em!  Traditions, the good ones at least, give me that tingly, happy fluttery feeling from the ends of my hair to the tips of my toes...every time.  One of my very favorites that Dick and I have had the entire time we've been married is enjoying a pumpkin-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's.  It started out as an excuse to not eat something I'd made, because, let's face it, in the beginning it was pretty bad, folks.  But now, its just one of those things we look forward to - its festive, its fun, and its pretty darn tasty!  Here's our 2010 Jacko-Yummy!

Another thing I really love is trying new recipes.  I especially love making seasonal foods, so when I saw the recipe for this pumpkin penne I knew it was a must-try.  Sometimes I halve recipes since its just Dick and I at our house, but when I think we're gonna like something I'll risk making the whole thing so we can have the leftovers for lunches at work throughout the week.  The leftovers from this pasta were gone in record time, and may have even been fought over.  Just a little bit, though.  So, yeah, this yummy seasonal dish was a hit, and I bet it will be at your house, too!

Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta
From Rachael Ray on

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 c. chicken stock
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c. cream
1 tsp. hot sauce, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 pinches ground cinnamon
salt & black pepper
7-8 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. Heat water for pasta, salt it & cook penne to al dente.
2. Heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic to the pan, saute 3 minutes.
3. Stir in chicken stock and combine w/ pumpkin, stir in cream then season sauce w/ hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & pepper.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5-6 minutes more to thicken.
5. Stir in sage, toss with pasta with grated cheese, to taste.

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