Sunday, May 29, 2011

Slow Cooked Italian Chicken

Before our house burned, I had a wonderful cookbook. Actually, I had many, but this one was one of the best slow cooker books I had ever used. To be honest, I am not sure if it was Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens. Maybe it was neither.

Anyway, there was a recipe in there that changed my life forever. It used Italian diced tomatoes. I have never been a fan of cooked tomatoes. They are too mushy for me, so even trying these was a big step. But the picture looked sooooo good. Did you hear that cookbook people? Put pictures next to your recipes!

I have been trying to recreate that recipe for awhile now, with no success. I don't remember the exact name (it was long) or all the ingredients. I miss that supper.

This is not it.

But, it is pretty good.

Add 4 chicken breasts, 1 can of Italian diced tomatoes and 1 can whole kernal corn to your slow cooker.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Mine took about 6 1/2 hours. That's it. Don't you LOVE your slow cooker?
Actually, I added in another step. I added about a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up. Cook on low...
...for about the time it takes you to boil some of your favorite pasta. I didn't measure how much, but probably about 2 cups.
Spoon over the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
While not quite what I was going for, it was really good. The kids both had seconds. Jeff was not home, so I don't have a manly opinion available. I think you could substitute beef or pork in there and it would be just as delicious.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Slow Cooked Italian Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups cooked pasta

Add chicken, tomatoes and corn to slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in cornstarch and cook additional 20 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Day Carrot Cake

I can never remember liking carrot cake when I was younger. It just never seemed to sound appealing. I mean, really, why make a cake with VEGETABLES in it when you can just as easily make one with chocolate.

Curt posted this carrot cake recipe well over a year ago and it just looked so, so good. So I printed it off and just keep setting it aside, because I had a bunch of recipes with chocolate to make.

Last weekend we went to dinner with my Nana and she had carrot cake for dessert. It looked delicious, so I too had carrot cake for dessert. She said it was good carrot cake, but not the best she ever had, which made me think about this recipe.

Never having made carrot cake, I don't really know how this stacks up against any others, or even if it is in any way similar to others. But this is the recipe I have, so I'm going with this.

In a bowl, heat up 3 cups of water. Add in 3 tablespoons of rum. We are not big rum drinkers here, so I just sent Jeff to the liquor store to get a small bottle. Apparently our liquor store has an entire wall dedicated to the different flavors of rum. Dark rum. Light rum. Spiced rum. Strawberry rum. Our rural town has a larger selection of rum than wine. Interesting.

Anyway, add a cup of golden raisins to the diluted rum, cover and let sit.
In another bowl, add 6 (yes, six) cups of shredded carrots. I had no clue how many carrots it would take to make six cups. Turns out if you shred a large carrot, it makes up just about one cup. I ended up using a total of seven carrots.

Add one cup of brown sugar to the shredded carrots. Cover and let this sit for anywhere from 1 to 6 hours.
Now, the scientific among you might assume that this is to let the sugar absorb the juice from the carrots to form a delicious mush that will soon become cake. I now know that it is because after you shred seven carrots, you can't really lift your arm. No problem, just go finish off your bottle of rum to ease the pain.
After you wake up from the rum induced coma, in a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Set this aside for a moment.
In a large mixing bowl, whip together 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cup sugar until it's nice and frothy.
Then add in 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, 1/2 Cup Applesauce, 2 tsp Vanilla and 1 Cup Crushed Pineapple and mix well. 
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.
Mix until it is just combined.
Drain the raisins. The Boy didn't really believe me when I said these were raisins. They really plump up.
Add the raisins, carrots and walnuts and gently mix in to the batter.
Divide the batter between three round cake pans and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. The recipe I had said 40-50, but my oven runs a little hot. Stick a toothpick in and test for doneness if you aren't sure.

When they are done, let them cool for 15 minutes, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight. 

The next day, mix up some cream cheese frosting. Now, I'm not really a frosting kind of person, and even though cream cheese frosting is my favorite, I didn't have a recipe for it. So I used the recipe supplied. 

Whip 2 blocks of cream cheese with a stick of softened butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla until nice and fluffy. 

 Spread in a nice thick layer onto your first cake.
 Don't scrimp. I thought I had a good layer on, but it wasn't near thick enough. If you need to, mix up another batch of frosting.
 Add the second cake on top and repeat with the frosting.
 I am really loving layer cakes right now.
 Even if it means I have to eat more frosting.
 Add that third cake on top. And here is where it gets good. To the remaining frosting, carefully fold in a cup or two of whipped cream. You could use Cool-Whip, but really, go for the real stuff here if you can.
 Use this to frost the top and outside.
Cut the cake.
Here's a tip. When you cut a piece of three layer cake, do not cut it the same size as you would a one layer cake. I totally misjudged the amount of cake in one piece and accidentally ate it all.
 I would hate for that to happen to you.
 I now love carrot cake. 

And cream cheese frosting.

This took a super long time to make, and it was completely worth it. I want to make it again next weekend and invite you over. I want you to make it this weekend and invite me over. Doesn't matter, just find a way to get this on your table.

Click here for Printable Recipe

The Two Day Carrot Cake
by Try It Tuesday
6 Cups Shredded Carrots
1 Cup Brown Sugar
Combine carrots and brown sugar and let stand for 1 to 6 hours.

1 Cup White Raisins
3 Cups Hot Water
3 Tbsp Rum

Combine these three and let them stand with the carrots.

1 Cup Toasted Walnut Halves, Chopped

Spread the walnuts out onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 8 mintues. Watch these carefully.

3 Cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

Mix in a bowl with a wire whisk and set aside.

4 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cup White Sugar

Mix until frothy and add in:
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple, drained not pressed

Preheat the oven to 350.

Prior to combining the wet and dry ingredients grease and flour three 9 inch baking pans.

Combine The Wet and The Dry till just blended.

Drain the raisins. Add the Raisins, Carrots and Walnuts to the Batter. Don’t over mix…

Add the batter to your prepared pans making sure to make a divot in the center of each cake. This will prevent crowning and minimize the need for any trimming.

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.

Place the cakes on a cooling rack and let them set for about 15 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the pans, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator. Leave them there over night.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 Packages Cream Cheese
3 Cups of Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Sticks Butter. softened

Whip cream cheese and butter till light add vanilla and whip again till well mixed. Scrape down bowl and mix again.

Add sugar and mix well. Use this mixture to frost between the layers of the cake.

1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 Cup Sugar

Whip till stiff.

Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture by hand. Do this gradually or you will break the whipped cream.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Arrollado con Dulce de Leche

Have you ever tried dulce de leche? It is a miracle of a caramel spread found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores. It is delicious on chocolate graham crackers or just on a spoon.

When I came across this recipe, I was excited to try it, if for no other reason than it takes about a half an hour from start to finish.

Beat 1 cup of sugar and 6 egg whites together.

After a few minutes, you will get some nice peaks form.

Add in the yolks, flour and vanilla; stir until it's all combined.
Pour into a parchment lined (this is important!) jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes. The cake will be springy when touched.
While the cake is still warm, remove it from the pan and spread on the dulce de leche.
The heat from the cake will melt this just enough for you to be able to spread it out to the edges.
Roll up longways, using the parchment paper to help lift the edges.
Slice into one inch rolls.
I'm still on the fence with this one. It was good, but kind of bland. I think the cake was the problem. It didn't complement the caramel filling so much as compete with it. I think if I were to make this again, I would maybe use a tad less sugar.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Arrollado con Dulce de Leche
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup sugar
6 eggs (separated)
1 t. Vanilla
One can dulce de leche, 13.4 ounces
Beat egg whites until fluffy add sugar until soft peaks form, then add egg yolks, flour, and vanilla. Line an 11x15x1 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, be sure a little over laps to assist with rolling later. Spray lightly with Pam. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden and cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and while still hot, drop spoonfuls of dulce de leche over top of cake. Wait a minute then spread evenly. Grabbing the long end of the paper, start rolling the cake toward you while pulling the paper free. Once rolled tight, wrap with the parchment paper and let cool. Once cooled slice and place on pretty platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 10-12.