Archive for February, 2011

On-the-go burritos

Raise of hands, who has no time to cook because their kids are in choir/basketball/theatre/piano lessons/girl scouts or all of the above? Me too. What is it about this time of year that piles up one activity after another (despite my best efforts not to over-schedule)?

Now you know I love to cook, but lately I’ve been running from one kid’s activity to the next after school so that by the time I get home I don’t have much time to whip up dinner. Take my Monday: I came home after watching one child’s basketball game at 5:30pm, checked my email and found out my other’s daughter’s coach had moved up her practice by ½ hour. And could I have her there by 6pm? Yikes.

Luckily I knew I’d have a tight schedule that night (although I wasn’t thinking it would be quite THAT tight). I had put chicken breasts in the crockpot in the morning and all I needed to do was shred them, add some beans, salsa, a little cheese, roll ‘em up in a flour tortilla and I had a tasty chicken burrito. To go. I heated it then wrapped it in tinfoil and my daughter ate hers on the way to practice. (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to let your kids eat that close to exercising…) I was able to sit back and eat mine while I watched her play. Yeah, eating around the table is definitely preferred, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. And eating out is only exciting for a couple nights before my kids start asking for something homemade.

So if you’re looking for a quick dinner that packs well–it’s crockpot time! And don’t forget you can shred the chicken and keep it for a few days–or even freeze it. (Then again, it’s so nice to have the whole house smelling good when you get home after a long day.)

Zesty chicken burrito

Prep time: 5 minutes (or less!)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)

1 onion,  chopped coarsely

1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. ground cumin (optional)

1 poblano pepper (optional)

1 can pinto beans

About 1 cup cheese (mozzarella or Monterrey Jack work well)

About 1 cup salsa

4-6 large flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Place the chicken in the crockpot along with the onion, garlic (you don’t even need to remove the skin, just chop it in half), chili powder and 1 ½ cups water or chicken broth.
  2. Cook the chicken on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4.
  3. Once the chicken is tender, remove from the crockpot and shred using two forks.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste (and more chili powder, if desired).
  5. Drain the pinto beans.
  6. In the center of the tortilla place about ¼ cup chicken along with a couple tablespoons of beans, a handful of cheese and a tablespoon or two of salsa.
  7. Bring two opposite sides of the tortilla together.
  8. Beginning on the non-folded side, roll the tortilla.
  9. Heat for 35-45 seconds in the microwave. Wrap in aluminum foil.

Your turn–have any favorite on-the-go meals?

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Kid-friendly spring rolls

Well, at least one more traditional spring roll turned out.

Traditional spring rolls are easy to make. Or so I thought. I’ve had spring rolls in restaurants–the translucent wrappers often have shrimp and vegetables tucked inside. They’re beautiful. So I figured they couldn’t be that hard to make at home, right? But from the start my traditional spring rolls were a disaster!

If you’ve ever used spring roll wrappers you know that it’s a little bit like working with a thin piece of Jell-O. Not easy. I had all my ingredients chopped and ready to go so I figured it would be like make-your-own-pizza night with the kids. My first one was packed with veggies (and large air holes). It looked awful and tasted worse–kinda like eating your bagged veggies plastic and all (for the record spring roll wrappers are made with tapioca starch). My oldest didn’t even pretend to like hers, but my middle daughter dutifully downed hers and even managed a smile when she said,

The amazing hanging spring roll!

“No, it’s really good mom.” I almost believed her. Until that is we started noticing just how sticky spring roll wrappers can be. I can’t remember who started it, whether it was my hubby or my oldest but someone ended up with a spring roll (fully loaded) stuck to her forehead.

Uh, it didn’t stop at foreheads. Spring rolls, we discovered, can stick to just about anything. Like ceilings. Yup, what can I say, we had to give it a try. My well-planned, poorly-executed spring roll made for a lovely wall hanging. Literally.

But I wasn’t ready to give up on spring rolls! I just threw out the idea of making it “traditional.” I hunted through my refrigerator for alternatives. Preferably less sticky ones. I found a couple that worked perfectly–and my kids enjoyed putting these together so much more (me too). Enter romaine lettuce and flour tortillas.

Ready for un-traditional, but kid-friendly spring rolls? Here’s what to do:

  1. Chop up various veggies, like zucchini, carrots and peppers into long strips (about two inches).
  2. Tear off a piece of romaine lettuce that’s about 4-5 inches in length and about 11/2 inches in width (perfect kid job).
  3. If you’re using flour tortillas, simply use a pizza cutter to get those same dimensions.
  4. Place a few pieces of veggies on one end of either the lettuce or the tortilla and roll it toward the other end. You can seal this with a little cream cheese “glue” or tie it up with a cooked piece of spaghetti (I told you I was hunting through the fridge for ideas).

    Spring roll success!

  5. You can make as many spring rolls as your kids have patience for.
  6. To make the spring rolls even fancier, create green onion “flowers” by using scissors and cutting small strips on one end.
  7. You can also use small cookie cutters on carrot slices to create shapes. Stick these to your spring roll with a little cream cheese.

Looking for more ideas to add a little bit of spring into your family’s lives (even if it’s still snowing outside)? Check out these instant spring ideas from Motherboard.

Your turn–have you been doing anything lately to make it feel springer at your house?

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Wok your pasta

Break out the wok! Why haven’t I been using it more? Actually my last one ended up in the donation pile after I weeded out essential kitchen tools from non-essentials during a move. I just hadn’t been using it all that much.

But since we’ve been getting into stir-fries lately (Happy Chinese New Year everyone!), I just had to give woks another try. First, they’re pretty inexpensive as far as pans go. Second, the newer versions aren’t like my old standard–the bottom is flat and then the sides curve upward (my old one was hard to balance on a gas stovetop).

After reading a recent article in the March issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray about using your wok for more than just Asian dishes, I figured it was time. Enter the wok. For quick-cooking food, the wok beats out my skillet, I’m happy to say. And as far as pasta dishes go it’s so much easier to toss a sauce and pasta together in a wok versus the flat-bottomed, spill-over-prone skillet.

Last night I made one of my favorite pasta dishes–gnocchi with ricotta, spinach & fontina cheese–in the wok. It sauteed everything perfectly.

Are you ready to get woking? (Forgive me, I had to use at least one lame pun.)

The key with using the wok for any dish is that the ingredients have to either cook fast or already be cooked before you add them in. So for pasta, you should cook it first in a deep, stockpot and then toss it with your sauce in the wok and any other ingredients you want to add in, like maybe diced ham, fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese…

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Why aren’t you eating…baby bok choy

You know I’m a fan of all things in miniature–mini-challah bread, mini-quiches–so when I found mini boy choy, well I had to get some. I like to add regular-sized boy choy into stir-fries and even sneak them into sandwiches. So the idea of using small ones, without even having to chop them up immediately appealed to me–and my kids.

I found baby boy choy at my neighborhood Asian grocers (I’ve never seen it at the regular grocery store). After rinsing them you can use them whole in any dish where you’d use the normal variety. With the cook times, I add them when I would green onions and they seem to cook up in much the same way.

Yesterday for lunch I made a quick stir-fry by adding fresh garlic and ginger to about 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and then I added chopped baby bella (yeah, baby) mushrooms, green onions and baby bok choy. After sauteing that for just a few minutes, I added in about 1/2 cup chicken broth, a 1/2 tablespoon of hoisin sauce. I heated that for a couple minutes then added it over rice. Yum.

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Grown-up grilled cheese

Portabella-gruyere grilled cheese sandwich. Yes it can–and should–be done. Or what about green chili-cheddar grilled cheese? See the humble grilled cheese sandwich gets a bum wrap. Yes you can slather margarine on two sides of bread and pop a piece of tasteless American cheese in the middle and call it done. But you don’t have to.

With a few tricks, I like to make what we call grown-up grilled cheese at our house. Okay, I should confess, it’s also an excuse to feel like I’ve made my kids a decent meal instead of just “settled” on grilled cheese. Plus, they really do taste good.

Let’s talk cheese

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like American cheese. But I pick up the deli slice variety instead of the kind that you peel off plastic. American cheese gives your sandwich the meltiness it needs to be, well, a grilled cheese. Sure, other cheeses may melt okay, but nothing beats the meltability of American. So I pair it with other varieties to get the flavor–and the texture–right. Some of my favorite combos:

American + Fontina (a mild, creamy Italian cheese)

American + Gruyere (a hard cheese that’s almost a cross between Swiss and Parmesan)

American + Extra Sharp Cheddar

Bread basics

You just can’t skimp on the bread if you want a decent grilled cheese. Airy bread absorbs the butter on the outside instead of keeping it crisp. End result: soggy sandwich. I usually choose an Italian deli bread, hearty whole wheat, rye, or even make some on my own.

Deconstructing grilled cheese construction

And now for putting the sandwich together: You want a crisp outside bread layered with hot cheese on the inside right? You might even want to throw in some slices of ham, turkey, tomato, mushroom, or a combination. The key is that you want everything warm or else you’ll end up with an unevenly heated sandwich (almost as bad as soggy!). So, for example, say you want to put ham in the sandwich. Heat the ham on the griddle before you put it on the melting cheese. Ditto for a slice of tomato, or mushrooms. The one exception I can think of would be green chiles.

Now to put it altogether you’d normally put one slice down, lay a few slices of cheese and then put another slice of bread on top right? Try this instead–cook the bread slices side by side and then bring them together once the cheese has started to melt. Again, the goal here is a crispy, evenly cooked sandwich.

Brushing butter

You don’t need a lot of butter on the bread to make it crisp. I melt a little butter in the microwave and then brush it on the bread. This spreads the butter more evenly, and thinly, than a butter knife.

Mushroom-gruyere grilled cheese

Servings: 2 (you can easily double or triple this recipe)

Ingredients

4 bella mushrooms

3 slices American cheese

Several small slices of Gruyere (about 4 ounces)

4 slices deli ham

4 slices hearty Italian bread

To give you an idea how I put this sandwich together (well, actually I was the photographer and my hubby did cooking duty), I’ll break it down.

  1. Cut up 3-4 baby bella mushrooms.
  2. Melt one tablespoon butter in a large, non-stick skillet. With a kitchen brush, use some of the butter to brush the outside of each sandwich bread slice. Set aside.
  3. Put the mushrooms into the butter and cook until soft.
  4. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and add the ham slices. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove.
  5. Add your bread slices to the pan with the buttered side facing out. Lay one and a half slices of American cheese on one side and slices of Gruyere on the other.
  6. Place the hot mushrooms on the Gruyere side and the ham on the American cheese side (the hot ingredients help melt the cheeses).
  7. Cook the bread until it becomes just crisped on the outside. Press the ham/American cheese bread side onto the Gruyere-mushroom side and continue cooking for about 1 minute.
  8. Remove from the pan and serve. Note that the outside of the bread will have more flavor because it cooks in a pan that also had ham and mushrooms. Mmmmm.

Grown-up grilled cheese is perfect to serve on a family night movie night. There’s plenty of other fun ideas about how to pull off a movie night at Movie Night on a dime at Better Homes & Gardens. I like the idea of recreating a drive-in at home. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team.

Your turn, do you like grilled cheese? Do you ever add something fun? And do you have movie nights with your crew? What do you serve?

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Velveted sweet and sour pork

Have you tried velveting your chicken yet? Huh…somehow that sounds like you’re dressing up your poultry in an Elvis get-up. Not quite. Velveting is Chinese stir-fry technique where you marinate the meat in egg white and then let it simmer in water before adding it to your wok. The chicken/pork (I’ve yet to try it on beef or tofu but I’m planning on it) turn out tender and perfectly coated with sauce.

I don’t velvet (can that be a verb?) all the time, because it adds extra cooking steps and dishes. But I’m always glad when I do because the dish turns out restaurant quality. This time I used pork and again, the velveting didn’t disappoint.

Here you go. This recipe is based off one I found at BellaOnline. I found that I wanted to up the spice and take down the sweetness (I like more sour than sweet), but it’s easy to tweak the sauce as you put it together to suit your family’s tastes.

Recipe

Prep time: 40-60 minutes (including cooking)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb. pork

1 peppers (green, red, yellow)

1 bunch green onions

1/4 cup peanuts

(I also like to add bok choy)

1 tbsp. oil

Velvet marinade

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sherry (or chicken broth)
1 egg white
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
½ tbsp peanut oil

Sauce

1/3 cup  vinegar (I like red wine)
3 tbsp white sugar (you may want to add more)
¼ tsp ginger
1 tsp soy sauce (I use dark here)
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp. Asian red chili sauce (or 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper)

Directions

  1. Cut the pork into bite-size pieces. (In the BellaOnline version of this recipe there is a specific order for adding the marinade ingredients. I’ve tried it both ways–being meticulous and throwing it in. I haven’t found any real differences in the flavor or the texture. So I tend to toss them altogether:) Add the marinate ingredients and gently stir making sure each piece gets coated.
  2. Let the pork marinate for about 20 minutes.
  3. Chop the peppers into strips and the green onions into 1-inch pieces. (You can also use other vegetables too. Bok choy is my favorite stir-fry addition).
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients. Adjust the sourness/sweetness by adding more vinegar or sugar (or even more chili for heat). On the stovetop, heat the sauce until it starts to boil and then thicken (about 2-3 minutes), then remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In another pan on the stovetop, bring a large pot of water to a simmer (NOT a boil). Add the pork to the water and let it cook just until it turns white (around 1 minute). Remove immediately with a slotted spoon.
  6. Add 1 tbsp. oil to a wok (or large saute pan). Bring the oil to medium-high heat. Place the veggies into the oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Push the veggies to the sides of the pan and add the pork. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Pour the sauce ingredients into the center of the wok and stir until the meat and veggies are coated. Toss in the peanuts and remove from the heat.
  8. Serve over rice or noodles.
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Velveted Chinese Chicken Stir-fry

I’ve always wondered what makes the meat at Chinese restaurants taste so much better than when I do stir-fries at home. Do you know what I mean? The chicken is always soft all the way through without being overly chewy. And the sauce just seems to stick to it without becoming too heavy.

I’m about to let you in on the secret: velveting.

Haven’t heard of it? I hadn’t either until I was thumbing through a book a few years back at the library while I was waiting for one of my kids to finish up at story time. The book, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, talked about how you marinate and prep the meat before you stir-fry it by putting it into an egg white wash.

Huh? I wasn’t quite sure what to make of an egg white marinade but I was willing to give it a try. My stir-fries have been better ever since. Now, this definitely ups the time to make a stir-fry, which usually is a go-to dish when you’re in a hurry and you want something healthy for your crew. I won’t sugarcoat—it does take more planning (and a couple extra bowls to clean), but your stir-fry will taste so much better. The egg white marinade also includes a dose of cornstarch. So your chicken is already coated with cornstarch before you add the sauce to the dish. Meaning: the sauce sticks to the chicken. Yeah!

I don’t always have time to velvet the chicken/pork (haven’t tried beef yet but it’s on my list) in my stir-fries but when I do there’s a big difference in the flavor. And my kids notice too—I don’t think it’s just my imagination that they eat more (and reheat it on day #2) when I take the time for velveting.

This is just one idea about how to mix-up some of your regular dishes at home. I’ve been thinking about this as I thumbed through tips on Sunday Dinners Done Right. Of all the nights of the week, Sunday dinner is the one where we’re not rushed, we have time to enjoy the meal and talk to each other (and not just about scheduling for the next day). I especially like the idea of making conversation the main course. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team.

Recipe

Ingredients

Marinade:

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon white wine (or chicken broth)

1 egg white

1 pound chicken cut into small pieces

Sauce:

½ teaspoon cornstarch

¼ cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 ½ Tablespoons white wine (or more broth)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Other ingredients

2 Tablespoons oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bell pepper (red or green)

1 bunch green onions

(I also use bok choy)

1 teaspoon grated ginger(or 1/2 teaspoon ground)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup peanuts


Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, add all of the marinade ingredients (except the chicken) and whisk until smooth. Add the chicken pieces and marinate for at least 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (But you should bring the meat up to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Prepare the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.
  3. Prepare the chicken by filling a cooking pot with water and bringing it just to a simmer (not to a boil).
  4. Place the chicken into the simmering water. The egg whites will leave strands (that’s fine).
  5. As soon as the chicken turns white, around one minute, remove with a slotted spoon. I usually place my chicken in the water in two batches. (Note: the chicken is not yet cooked through.)
  6. For the stir-fry, place the oil into a wok or large skillet. Once it’s at a medium-high heat add the red pepper flakes, then the garlic.
  7. Cook for about 30 seconds then add the vegetables. Cook the veggies for about 2-3 minutes or until just barely soft.
  8. Add in the chicken. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes or until the chicken is heated through and no longer pink in the center.
  9. Pour the sauce into the center of the wok and cook for about a minute or until thickened. Turn off heat and toss in the peanuts.
  10. Serve over rice or Chinese noodles.

Now it’s your turn, do you have something that makes your Sunday night dinners just a little more special?

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Molten Chocolate Cakes

If you’re looking for the chocolate dessert to serve on Valentine’s Day—here you go. Velvety and smooth on the inside, moist on the outside, saturated with rich chocolate throughout, this recipe defines decadent. But it’s not hard to make. And it doesn’t take forever either (not to mention you can make it a day or two ahead).

There are a few tricks to getting this recipe right. See molten cakes are almost like a cross between a custard and a cheesecake (uh, both chocolate). So they don’t cook quite like a cake would where you need to make sure that it’s done all the way through. But I need to take a step back before we get to the baking.

Prepping your ramekins (custard cups). You’ll need to coat the inside of the ramekins with baking spray (or you could brush with melted butter) and then add about 1 teaspoon of flour. Move the flour around the inside until its coated. This is exactly like flouring a bread pan but it gets trickier when it’s a 4-ounce cup! Now you can do this with muffin tins, I’m told. I haven’t tried it that way, but if you don’t have ramekins, that’s an option. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe.

Here’s the second hardest: figuring out when the cakes are done. Like a cheesecake, when you check for doneness you want the center to just jiggle. If the batter appears completely solid you won’t have the gooey chocolate center that makes molten cakes, well, molten.

Okay, I take that back, there’s one more hard part (promise, once you get the hang of this the recipe isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds). You have a few options with taking the cake out of the ramekin. Here’s what I do. I run a kitchen knife around the outside of the ramekin and then place the serving plate on top of it. Jiggle, then lift the ramekin. If the cake doesn’t seem to be releasing or it’s not releasing altogether, I try to put everything back into the ramekin, top it with whip cream and call it good. Or you can put the ramekin in the fridge for a while and then try inverting again. You can keep the dessert cold or put it in the microwave for 9 seconds.

Ready to start melting some chocolate? This recipe won’t disappoint.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 10 minutes baking

Servings: 4

Ingredients

8 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons flour

4 ounces chocolate (bittersweet is best but semi-sweet works too)

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ sugar

½ teaspoon espresso powder (opt.)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat four, four-ounce ramekins with baking spray. Then place a small amount of flour in each one and make sure that the flour then coats the inside of the ramekin completely. Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin, but follow the same process.
  3. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (I usually set it for 60 seconds and then stir vigorously).
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat the eggs and egg yolks on high for around three minutes or until they start to become thick.
  5. Add the sugar into the eggs and continue beating about three more minutes (the mixture will lighten slightly in color).
  6. Blend the eggs into the cooled chocolate mixture. Beat for about two more minutes.
  7. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
  8. Pour equal parts of the chocolate mixture into each of the ramekins.
  9. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the chocolate barely jiggles on the center portion of each ramekin.
  10. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  11. At this point, you can either serve the chocolate cakes in the ramekins, or you can run a kitchen knife around the outside and invert onto a plate. You can also place the ramekins in the refrigerator and serve later cold or reheat for 10 seconds and then serve topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder.

Warning: These are rich!

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Chocolate cake in 3 minutes

My mom sent me this recipe from the newspaper years ago. But I didn’t make it. The recipe was marked “dangerous chocolate mug cake.” The danger was in the ease of making a chocolate cake in 5 minutes–2 minutes for throwing together the ingredients (all right into the mug) and another 3 for baking.

There’s a couple of reasons I held out making this recipe. The first? I didn’t think it would work. I mean, mixing up a chocolate cake in a coffee mug? And even if it did work I figured it would be tasteless, or at best, grainy.

The second reason: What if it was good? Being able to put a individual-sized piece of cake together so quickly is downright dangerous for your waistline.

But that torn piece of newspaper had been nagging at me, so I decided to give it a try. Result: it’s good. I don’t know if I’m happy or disappointed about that. You really do put all the ingredients together in the order of the recipe and cook for 3 minutes to turn out a moist piece of chocolate cake. You can serve the cake in the mug or turn it out onto a plate.

I’ve now made the chocolate mug a few times (trying to keep myself from making it too often) and let me give you a few hints.

  • The cake turns out better if you mix the ingredients in the mug. When I mixed it in a separate bowl and then placed it in the mug, the top of the cake didn’t end up round, it was more flat. Plus, you can avoid cleaning up another bowl by just using the mug.
  • I’m an almond extract fan so whether you choose almond extract or vanilla you do need a bit of a flavor boost in the cake.
  • Okay, this one is a bit obvious, but I’m always anxious for a bite of cake: give it at least a couple minutes to cool before you eat it.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 regular-sized coffee cup

¼ cup flour

½ cup sugar

2 Tablespoons baking cocoa

1 egg

3 Tablespoons milk

3 Tablespoons oil

¼ teaspoon almond extract

3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

1 Tablespoon nuts (opt)

Directions

  1. Add all of the dry ingredients to the mug and stir.
  2. Add the egg and mix.
  3. Pour in the milk, oil and extract.
  4. Mix the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) into the batter.
  5. Place the mug on a small plate.
  6. Bake in the microwave for 3 minutes on high.
  7. Note: The batter will rise above the top of the mug. Not to worry, the batter shouldn’t overflow.
  8. Allow the cake to cool for a couple minutes before eating.

This is the perfect recipe to make while thumbing through a few real-life Valentine’s stories available at Parents.com. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day sweet? As you’ve probably gathered, mine is anything with dark chocolate.

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Chocolate upside down cake

I’ve been holding back, but now that it’s four days into February I figure it’s time to start talking chocolate.

Okay, you won’t score any presentation points for this cake. But what it lacks in showiness, it makes up in easy prep time—and most important gooey, chocolatey flavor.

I have a hand-written version of this recipe from my mother, even though I don’t ever recall her making it. I wish I did—this would have been my birthday cake request, hands down!

The recipe involves only a few extra steps then when you’re making a regular boxed cake mix. Before you pour the batter into the pan you melt butter with water and add in a little brown sugar. This goes into the bottom of a greased baking pan along with nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows. Okay, this cake won’t score any health points either, which is one reason I don’t make it very often.

After the butter the mixins’ are on the bottom of the baking dish, now it’s time to add the chocolate cake batter. That’s it. Well, almost, there’s still a little trick or two after you’ve baked it.

The first time I made this cake I really wasn’t expecting much—I mean it was way too easy and had “dump” in the title. But the cake has quickly become a favorite of my crew. Are you ready for the next reason it’s called “dump”? Once you’ve let the cake cool for 10-20 minutes you put a serving platter on top and then flip the entire cake over so that the chocolate chips, butter, coconut combination becomes a crust on top of the cake. Yeah, you’re mouth is watering now, huh?

Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes + baking time

Servings: 12+

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup water

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup nuts (pecan or walnut)

2 cups mini-marshmallows

1 box chocolate cake mix

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease a 9×13” baking pan.
  • Prepare the chocolate cake batter according to the package directions.
  • In a small saucepan, heat together the water and butter until the butter has completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the brown sugar into the butter mixture.
  • Pour the sugar butter mixture into the baking pan.
  • Sprinkle the remaining ingredients (except the cake batter) onto the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Now pour the cake batter over the sprinkled ingredients.
  • Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes, but not more then 30.
  • Place a serving dish or cookie pan over the top of the baking pan. Carefully flip the entire cake over.
  • Remove the baking pan. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
  • *Note that the marshmallows melt into the cake.
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