Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Single Layer Pumpkin Cake

You didn't think I'd forget the pumpkin recipes for fall, did you? Of course not! I'm looking around for pumpkin desserts that aren't the typical ones you see. I'll let you know if I find any others.

Notes: I was planning to top this cake with some white chocolate ganache, but I messed up the chocolate to cream ratio and it came out too thin. *sigh* Further proof that frosting and I have a troubled relationship. I ended up pouring it over the cake anyway, but I won't include it here.

You could top this cake in a number of different ways. Some powdered sugar would be great, or you can make some frosting if you feel enterprising.

If you don't have cake flour, you can use all purpose. I think the crumb is nice with the cake flour.

This recipe makes one single layer round cake. I cut mine into squares to make it easier to eat.

Ingredients (modified from Martha Stewart):
1 2/3 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk, warmed
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs

Directions: Heat the oven to 350

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until it's fluffy. Add in the eggs and beat until combined. Add in the milk and the pumpkin and mix until combined.

Add in the flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until just combined.

Oil or butter a 9 inch round cake tin. Pour in the batter and bake for about 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then carefully remove to a cooling rack. Cool about 10 more minutes. Cut, serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos with Kale Honey Lime Topping

The weather is getting chilly, which is the perfect time to break out your slow cooker. But what should you put in it? How about something with just four ingredients? These slow cooker chicken tacos are perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

Notes: This an easy meal with just a few ingredients. It take no time at all to put together. When you get home from work, the chicken is ready for you whenever you're ready for it.

I loved the kale salad, but Scott was not so crazy about it. He thought it was overpowering. I thought it was different and refreshing. You be the judge!

If you didn't want to put the kale on top of the tacos, you could always eat it on the side. Toss some chopped nuts and maybe some fruit in the bowl and you'd have a delicious salad.

1 1/2-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 onion
Taco shells
Cheese of your choice (I used a Spanish cheese)

Kale Topping
1 small bunch or 1/2 large bunch kale
1 teaspoon honey
1 lime


Slice the onion into rings. Lay them at the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top of the onions. Sprinkle half the taco seasoning packet on top of the chicken. Pour the tomatoes over the chicken and onions. Sprinkle the rest of the taco seasoning on top. Set on low for 8-10 hours.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, add the honey to the bottom of large bowl. Slice the lime in half and squeeze out the juice. Whisk until combined.

Slice the kale thin and add it to the bowl. Using your hands, toss the kale in the dressing and massage as you toss. Keep massaging and tossing until the kale starts to get tender and shrinks down. Set aside.

Take the chicken out the slow cooker and shred it on a plate. Return it to the slow cooker and stir.

Heat up your taco shells, shred your cheese, and put everything together. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits + Pepper Fried Egg and Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

After many attempts at making buttermilk biscuits, I have perfected my recipe. Fluffy on the inside and golden brown on the outside---they're perfect for biscuits and gravy or a pepper fried egg and bacon breakfast sandwich!

Notes: I do one thing that all the biscuit recipes will tell you not to do: knead. Everyone says it will make your biscuits tough. But every Southern lady I've ever known kneads her biscuits. Once I started kneading, I finally got the consistency I was looking for. My biscuits also starting rising correctly. As long as you don't knead them like bread, it won't make them tough.

I think a pastry blender is incredibly helpful, so if you plan on making these a lot, I would invest in one. You can also use a dinner fork, but it will take you a little longer.

This is also my favorite way to make a fried egg. The whites are fully cooked, the bottom is a little brown and crispy, and the yolk is still runny. If you don't like your yolk runny, poke it before you flip it over.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1 stick butter, cold

For the sandwich:
1 egg
1-2 strips of bacon
Cheese of your choosing (optional)


Heat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or a fork until the butter is the size of large peas.

Stir in the buttermilk. Once the dough comes together, knead it in the bowl for just a minute. Pat the dough out on to a floured service. Pat it into a circle that's about a 1/2 inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or an empty aluminum can) and cut out rounds. When you work your way through the circle, gather the scraps and reshape into a ball. Pat the dough out again and repeat until you use up all the dough (should make about 8-10 biscuits).

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

While the biscuits are cooling, heat a skillet on medium. Cook the bacon. When the strips are done, put them on a plate lined with paper towel. Crack your egg right into the bacon grease. Sprinkle a liberal amount of pepper on the top and season with a little salt. Cook the egg on one side until the edges are a little crisp and brown and the whites are mostly set. Gently flip it over and turn the heat off. Let is sit for about 20 seconds. If you want cheese, lay it on top of the egg now.

Slice open a biscuit. Slide the egg from the skillet onto one of the halves. Top with bacon and make a sandwich. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup

Sausage and kale is a magical combination. If you haven't gotten on the kale bandwagon and you're looking for a nice introduction, this soup might just be your ticket!

Notes: Use the fat from the sausage to cook the shallots, garlic, and potatoes. My sausage didn't have that much fat on it, so I took the sausage out with a slotted spoon to leave more fat in the pot. If you're has more fat, then you can pour the sausage out onto a plate. That should still leave enough for the veggies.

I like the Yukon gold potatoes because they stay firmer in the soup. If you want to use other potatoes, you might want to add them at the same time you add the kale.

1 pound ground sausage (I used mild, but you could use hot if you want)
32 oz (4 cups) of chicken stock or water
1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes
2 large bunches of kale
2 shallots (or one small onion)
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 small bunch of rosemary
Salt and pepper for seasoning


Slice the potatoes, mince the garlic and rosemary, dice the shallots, and thinly slice the kale.

Heat a large stock pot on medium-high. Add the sausage and crumble it. Cook until no pink remains. Remove the sausage from the pot either with a slotted spoon or by pouring it out onto a paper towel lined plate (see notes). Set aside.

Cook the onions, garlic, and potatoes until the shallots just get tender and potatoes are semi-tender. Return the sausage to pot. Stir in the kale until all the leaves are coated. Add in the rosemary. Pour in the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are tender before you serve. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken and Buttermilk Dumplings (Freezer Friendly)

Well, thanks to the hurricane, we had several days of cold windy rain. Luckily, these are the kinds of days that slow cooker comfort food is made for!

Notes: For me, slow cooker meals work best when I've done my ingredient prep ahead of time. No one has time to dice vegetables before they go to work. I usually peel and chop everything on a weekend day or a slow week night, stick it in a container in the fridge, and then it's ready for me whatever morning I'm ready for it. In this case, I did my prep on Sunday and made the chicken and dumplings on a Thursday. Worked perfectly!

Figuring out when the dumplings are done took some work. 30 minutes was about how long it took mine, but it will depend on your slow cooker. You mainly just have to look at them and poke them. They will look darker (not golden brown) and they will look dry on top. You'll be able to move them without your fork sinking into them or tearing them. When in doubt, cut one open and look: does it look like a biscuit inside? Then it's done.

WARNING: don't make your dumplings too big. They expand in the chicken mixture. 1/2 teaspoons will look too small, but once they expand, they'll be the right size.

I used my buttermilk biscuit recipe to make the dumplings. It works great, but you will have leftover dough. No worries! Just use the dough to make some drop biscuits. Once you finish making the dumplings, just drop big tablespoons of leftover dough on to a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 and you'll have made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits. They can bake while the dumplings are finishing.

This recipe freezer friendly. I like to freeze mine in meal-portion sizes using freezable plastic food storage containers. Wait for the chicken and dumplings to cool before you start putting it away.  Pull a container out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to eat it and put it in the fridge. You can heat it in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken
1 pound carrots, sliced or diced
1 celery bunch, sliced into large bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
32 oz chicken stock
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold butter
1 cup buttermilk

Directions for the chicken:

Put the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Put the onion, carrots, celery, and parsley on top. Pour in the chicken stock. Season everything with salt and pepper. Set to low for 8-10 hours.

Before you start the dumplings, take the chicken out and shred it. Return it to the slow cooker and then start the dumplings.

For the dumplings: About 40 minutes before you want to eat, start the dumplings. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and work it into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingers until the butter is the size of large peas. Mix in the butter milk until the dough comes together.

Spoon 1/2 teaspoon balls of dough into the slow cooker on top of the chicken mixture (you'll have dough leftover: see notes). Put the lid on top of the slow cooker and cook for 30 minutes until the dough is cooked.

Serve and enjoy!