Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Fuss Gooey Chocolate Cake

This cake, done in a slow cooker for 2-3 hours, really doesn't need much introduction:  it's easy (kids can make it), tasty, and so obnoxious that it's somehow really really fun.  Serve with homemade whipped cream (a recipe follows, just in case you've lived in a cave your whole life).  This recipe comes from Fix-it and Forget-it Kids Cookbook.

No Fuss Gooey Chocolate Cake

1 cup dry all-purpose baking mix (i.e., Bisquick)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus 3 extra Tablespoons
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 2/3 cups hot water
Cooking spray

  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the baking mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla.  
  3. Spoon the batter into your slow cooker and spread out evenly. 
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, and the hot water.  
  5. Pour this mix over the batter, but DO NOT STIR.
  6. Cover the slow cooker and cook on High for 2-3 hours. 
  7. After two hours, test the cake by sliding a toothpick into the center and pulling it out again.  If it looks wet, keep cooking.  If it has some dry crumbs on it, it's ready for eating.  
  8. Serve warm with whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream.  Or both.)

Home-made Whipped Cream

  1. Pour a cup of heavy whipping cream into a bowl. 
  2. Add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract. 
  3. Add a teaspoon of sugar.
  4. Blend until relatively firm.  Do not over-blend!  This will never get quite as stiff as the crap you buy from a grocery store, which is okay, since you don't want those chemicals in your body.  

Family Ratings: 

Seriously?  You need me to tell you that everyone in our family gave this a 10?  Did you READ the recipe?????

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pan-Glazed Chicken with Basil

This is an old standard in our family:  it's about as easy as they come and very flavorful.  It comes from Cooking Light's 5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Cookbook.

Pan-Glazed Chicken with Basil

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  1. Slice the chicken breasts in half, length-wise.  (If they're extra thick, you might want to slice them thickness-wise as well, just to make for more even cooking.)
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. 
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet at medium-high. 
  4. Cook chicken for five minutes each side until lightly browned. 
  5. While chicken is cooking, mix together the vinegar, honey, and basil
  6. When chicken is ready, stir in the honey mixture and cook for one additional minute. 
  7. Serve with rice, baby carrots, lime jell-o, and anything else your kids like.  

Family Ratings

Will, who has a habit of picking up a large chunk of meat and eating it off his fork, like the Asians do with chopsticks:  10
Lucy, who could probably already make this herself:  10
Jamie, who actually finishes it before we have to tell him to:  10
Ellen, who comes from the midwest and likes minimalist, fresh flavorings:  10
Paul, who's had this about 600 times in the last 17 years and is mildly sick of it:  9

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thai Pepper Steak

Yes, I know this is the second Thai recipe I've posted in a row.  I'd had plans to post recipes for gooey chocolate cake and balsamic vinegar chicken (two different dishes, just in case you were worried).  But then I made this for the first time tonight, took one bite, and went, "Well heck!  THAT'S good!"

(Actually, that's not what I said.  I said, "Well %$#@!  THAT'S &^%$ amazing!" but since this is a family oriented blog--unlike my other blog--I thought I'd keep it clean.  Just this once.)

Anyhow, this also comes from Thailand:  The Beautiful Cookbook, which, despite its awkward name, is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.  I messed a bit here with proportions (using less white pepper than they recommended) and cooking order/time (I prefer my red peppers not cooked into a mush), but other than that, this is straight from the book.

Excuse me:  the @#&% book.

The recipe below is for four servings, but this recipe doubles nicely.  It probably halves nicely, too, for that matter.

Thai Pepper Steak

1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon white pepper 

The rest: 
1-2 cups rice (I use jasmine) cooked per instructions
1 lb. tender beef (I use flank steak or flat iron steak)
2 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon Maggi Seasoning *
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil

* You should be able to get Maggi Seasoning in the foreign foods section of your grocery store; it's in a little yellow and red jar with a yellow cap.  If you can't find it, one site I visited recommended just using bacon bits . . . 

  1. Start your rice, according to directions.  
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients.  It'll be pretty pasty.  Don't worry.  
  3. Slice the beef across the grain very thinly--say, 1/8 of an inch or less.  (An 8-inch French chef knife is best for this.  Just be sure to hide your thumb behind your other fingers).  
  4. Place beef in the marinade and mix.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes.  
  5. Chop the garlic, slice the onions, etc.  
  6. Mix the fish sauce, Maggi Seasoning, sugar, and sesame oil together in a small bowl.  
  7. Heat your wok or a large frying pan until hot.  Coat with the oil.  
  8. Toss in the garlic.  Cook for five seconds. 
  9. Add beef.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until still just barely pink.  
  10. Add the onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. 
  11. Add green and red peppers.  Stir-fry for 30 seconds.  
  12. Add the fish sauce, etc.  Stir-fry for 2 minutes.  
  13. Serve over rice!

Family Ratings

Lucy, who's recovering from the flu and was cautious:  10
Will, who's something of a beef eater, even if he doesn't have one of those weird hats:  10
Jamie, who insisted on eating the meat with none of the sauce:  7
Ellen, who appreciates that her husband cooks for her, even if she's not crazy about beef:  8
Paul.  Seriously?  You have to ask?:  10