Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Black Forest Cake Day! March 28, 2011

Filed under: Berries,cake,Cookout/Potluck,dessert,holiday,Parties — hmills96 @ 10:00 am

My foodie fame at work goes beyond my delicious weekly offerings. It actually started long before my first pitch-in. We have a special, in-house instant messaging system that allows us to not only talk to people at my branch, but also the St. Pete location.

We cannot access Facebook and Twitter, and I almost hate to admit this…when I first started my new job I was having social networking withdrawals. Plus, I wanted to get to know the people I was working with. There’s a status update feature on our IM system. One day, I updated my status to tell everyone Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

The rest was history. If I don’t post an update every morning, I get 10 IMs asking what the food holiday of the day is. It’s started quite a few discussions–What’s your favorite soup/candy/pop? Every day its something different.

Today is National Black Forest Cake Day! I knew I had to make something for this holiday. It was too perfect an opportunity to pass up. I turned this recipe into one of my trifles–it’s easier for me to transport to Indy without the whole thing falling apart. But feel free to make this into a layer cake as it was originally intended!

Black Forest Cake
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 cans cherry pie filling
2/3 cup cranberry juice
1 Tbsp Chambord

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Cool Whip (I used two small tubs to make the trifle, you won’t need nearly as much to make the cake version)
1 Tbsp Chamboard (use Kirsch if you can find it)

Combine cherry filling, cranberry juice, and 1 Tbsp Chambord in a saucepan. Stir over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and cook about 1 minute. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cake pans heavily with PAM or line with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In your mixer, combine butter milk, milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Mix until well blended.

Pour batter into 2 prepared cake pans. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool.

Mix together Cool Whip with 1 Tbsp Chambord or Kirsch.

Layer cake, cherry filling, and Cool Whip either in a trifle dish or on a cake plate. Garnish top with cherries and chocolate curls.


Oreo Brownies March 17, 2011

Filed under: Brownies,Chocolate,Parties — hmills96 @ 10:02 am

This was actually the first recipe I did after the donation jar got started. I had a long going on that first week, and was going to wait until the next week to get started, after I had time to go to the store. But I had a special request, from my boss’s boss, who was visiting from Florida. She had heard about my cooking and wanted me to make something before she headed back. I had chocolate and Oreos. No problem, I’ll make brownies!!! Always a winner.

These are by far the best brownies I’ve ever had. Even before I added the cookies, the brownie base is incredible. I’ll use this recipe again, whenever I want fudgy, incredibly rich brownies.

Oreo Brownies
Adapted from Baking Bites

1 cup butter
6 oz chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli 60%)
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 package Oreo cookies, smashed

Preheat oven to 350. Line 9×13 pan with aluminum foil and grease with Pam.

Melt butter and chocolate over medium heat. Whisk in sugar, salt and vanilla.

Remove pan from heat, whisk in eggs one at a time.

Stir in flour and cocoa powder. Pour half of the batter in the pan, add a layer of Oreos, than pour the rest of the batter over the cookies. Bake for 35 minutes.

Cool for about 20 minutes, than lift brownies out of pan and slice.

Oh man do I want one of these right now!


Jalapeño Popper Dip March 13, 2011

Filed under: appetizers,Cookout/Potluck,dip,Parties,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 4:16 pm

I have gotten to be so famous at work for my cooking that people constantly beg me to bring something in. However, cooking for 50 people can get expensive, so for a while I hadn’t brought anything in. A couple of the girls on my team put their heads together and before I knew it, I had a big donation jar on my desk! I felt guilty at first–I thought it was awkward to ask for money, but it’s actually been really popular. I’m not out to make money, but it helps me pay for ingredients to feed all my guinea pigs!

It’s great for me, because I get to try out the dessert and snack recipes that I wouldn’t make for just me. I get to use some of my creativity to come up with some fun recipes and adapt them so they are easy to bring to work. Plus it gives everyone a nice little break.

I’ve had this dip in my binder for awhile, but had not had a reason to make it yet. When I took this dip to work the other day, I used all pickled jalapeno, but I’ve adapted the recipe below to include about half and half, fresh and canned. The canned were just not spicy enough for most of my GPs, although the flavor was excellent.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Adapted from Cooking This and That

4 bricks of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups mayo (I used the Olive Oil kind)
8 oz diced green chiles, drained
4 oz pickled jalapeno peppers, drained and chopped
4-5 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack

Mix ingredients together in a crockpot. Heat on medium high until you are able to blend everything. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


1 year Blogoversary! And Peanut Butter Banana Bread for Kicks! October 2, 2010

I cannot believe I’ve been writing for a year! I started this blog just a few weeks before our first wedding anniversary. We had just bought and moved into this house, we had a dog. It was all very domestic. I was just discovering my love for cooking and I had so much to share with all of you!

Things have changed quite a bit in the last few weeks, but I’m still here. I’m not posting as much, mostly because I’m not cooking as much. It’s harder to motivate myself to cook for just one person. But I’m working on that. I’m collecting recipes that are easy to freeze in batches (ie chili) so that I can keep things ready for nights when I don’t feel like dirtying up my kitchen. AND, my coworkers love to have pitch ins so keep your eyes open for potluck recipes!

I’ve put up a Subscribe button in the sidebar. Since I’m not posting as often, I thought I’d enable email notifications so you guys will know when I DO post! Make sure you go sign up!

Our company is switching security companies, which means our long time guard is leaving us. So on Thursday, her last day, we had a breakfast pitch in to say goodbye. It was a last-minute announcement, and I had to babysit my cousin Wednesday night, so I needed something easy to throw together. This fit the bill. I made the batter before I left, and just threw it in the fridge while I sat, then popped it in the oven for an hour when I got home. It went over REALLY well. As in, everyone devoured it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Sugar Plum

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe mashed bananas
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 inch loaf pan.

In mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, mash together bananas, peanut butter, butter, sugar, and brown sugar until well mixed. (I left mine a little lumpy, so you could taste the banana in the bread.) Add eggs, vanilla and milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean (excluding the melted chocolate chips of course).


Beatty’s Chocolate Cake July 4, 2010

Do you have a recipe that you wish you had more excuses to make? I definitely do. The cake recipe below is to die for. I have dozens of different recipes for cakes in my binder that will probably never be tested, because whenever I have the reason to bake a cake, I pull this one out. I have to. I crave it constantly. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many reasons to bake a huge, rich, expensive layer cake around here. And I’ll tell you now, this does not translate to cupcakes well. I don’t know why, but it does not work.

Since J’s birthday is Monday, and he was off work yesterday, I decided to throw him a last-minute party. Unfortunately, it was too last-minute and only a couple of guys came, but he had fun just the same. There are reasons I know that. I won’t share them here.

You’ll see a couple of new recipes over the next couple of days. Of course I made Buffalo chicken dip. J won’t let me have a party or go to a party or even THINK about a party without making that dip. I think he ate most of it himself! I also made watermelon margaritas and pico de gallo (the remains of which will be turned into guacamole for dinner today). And this cake. Oh this cake. I just had a piece for breakfast. And as a rule I never eat cake for breakfast. Hey, at least I had a few pieces of watermelon first. So it’s like breakfast dessert right? Right?!

I wish I could claim this recipe as my own, but I cannot. I think most of us in the food world will agree that Ina Garten is a master in the kitchen. I love her recipes. This one is by far my favorite (but you couldn’t tell that could you?). The only change I’ve made to it is to use 1 cup instant coffee instead of 1 cup freshly brewed. If I’m going to use instant in the frosting, what’s the sense in making a pot just for one cup in the cake? I don’t think it affects the flavor at all, but definitely do what you prefer.

One more note before I give you the recipe. The key to this is to use high quality chocolate. Don’t skimp and use store brand cocoa or standard baking chocolate. Use the best that your grocery store offers. For me, that’s Ghiradelli, on both counts. If you can get better than that, do it. Especially in the frosting. The frosting is the best you’ve ever tasted, and it’s quality matches that of the chocolate that goes into it.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa

For the Cake:

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice with 1 cup milk, let sit for 5 minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment (this is important, these cakes stick like crazy), then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low-speed until combined.

In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

With mixer on low-speed, slowly add wet to dry. Add coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula (because this batter is so liquid, some of the heavier stuff gets stuck on the bottom, make sure you mix that in).

Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake tester comes out clean. For me, it’s best to err on the longer time, these cakes will fall if not cooked long enough.

Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack or wax paper and cool completely.

Place 1 layer (the less pretty one), flat side up on a cake pedestal. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on top and down the sides of the cake.

Not the prettiest piece but I wanted you to have a cross section. Look how moist!

Chocolate Buttercream
From Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa

6 oz good semisweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli 60%)
1/2 pound butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tsp very hot water

Chop chocolate and place in heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until its light yellow and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beat 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, gradually add powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Dissolve coffee powder in 2 tsp of hottest tap water. On low-speed, add chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

**Note–One thing I do with this recipe, because I don’t often have reason to make a big layer cake, is turn it into a trifle. Make the cakes and frosting as above, but don’t assemble. Crumble cakes into small pieces. In a trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer cake, frosting, and homemade whipped cream. Decorate the top with cake crumbs or crushed Oreos. This is great to take to potlucks–it’s easier to serve large crowds, and it goes a lot farther!

**Another Note–This is a cake that needs to take all day, or at least most of the afternoon. Don’t rush this, or it won’t turn out. That’s actually how I discovered the trifle thing, because I rushed and the cakes fell apart. Plan ahead, you won’t be sorry.


Peanut Butter Brownies May 18, 2010

There are days in every woman’s life where we just have to make a batch of brownies. You girls know what I’m talking about. You might not even be hungry, or have any intention of eating them. There’s just something soothing about baking that is inexplicable. Even my mom, who hates to cook, would make a batch of Scotcheroos on such days (I loved those days).

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I just needed to bake. Even if there is no one here to eat them but me.

Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cram
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cram butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. reduce mixer speed to low, then mix in flour until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips and spread batter into greased 13×9 baking pan.

Bake until brownies are golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Put chocolate chips in heat-proof bowl. Bring cream to boil in small saucepan. Pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute. Whisk in butter until mixture is smooth. Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set.


Easy Mock Queso Dip March 25, 2010

Filed under: cheese,Cookout/Potluck,dip,My Recipes,Parties,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 1:31 pm

When J. saw that I had posted my guacamole recipe the other day, he immediately had a craving. He stopped at the store on the way home and picked up the ingredients so I could make it that night. Normally, I buy Medium level salsa, but J. bought Hot. Holy crap. We like things spicy, but jesus this was major. We tried to eat it plain, but it just wasn’t refreshing, because it was so over the top. To cool things down a bit, I decided to play with some cheese, and see if that helped. It did! And it was pretty similar (though not at all authentic) to the dip at our favorite Mexican joint.

Mock Queso

1 Block Cream Cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup salsa

Warm up cream cheese in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in cheddar and salsa. Microwave for another 30 seconds, stir, then repeat if needed, until hot. Enjoy!