Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Cake

Here's "The Cake"

I'm pretty sure this is the best chocolate cake.

Here's what you need:
Flour (I use cake flour, but all purpose is okay)
2 Eggs
Baking Soda
Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a 13x9" pan

**this recipe calls for 1 cup boiling water - I put about 2 cups on to boil before I start mixing, so if some evaporates, etc., I still have plenty**

Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl.
I use a very large bowl - you'll see why.

Your dry ingredients are:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour - OR if using cake flour, the ratio is 1 cup plus 2 tbsp for each cup of all purpose flour.
So, for this recipe, I used 1 3/4 cups cake flour PLUS 3 tbsp.
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa (I like Hershey's)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Next, add your liquid ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix well.

Liquid Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well and then add your 1 cup of boiling water.

This will be very thin. Almost like chocolate milk or something. It's okay - that's what it's supposed to be like.
And, because it's so thin, I use a very large bowl.
As you can see in the picture, it "slings" all over.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

That's all there is to it!

Another food porn shot.
Just to tempt :)

Frost with this chocolate frosting recipe.

Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting. Beater lickin' good.
And isn't it pretty?'s easy, too!

Here is all you need:
Powdered sugar

Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in a medium bowl in the microwave.

Add 2/3 cup cocoa (I prefer Hershey's)
Mix with you mixer.
It will look pretty good, but won't taste so good at this point.
So, don't lick your fingers just yet.

Now comes the fun part.

You'll need 3 cups powdered sugar and 1/3 cup milk.

Alternate mixing the sugar and milk gradually.
I add 1/3 of the 1/3 cup of milk (so just a tiny little bit); mix well; then add 1 cup of powdered sugar.
Continue until you have all of the powdered sugar and milk mixed in.

Now you can lick your fingers.

**if it's too thick add a few drops of milk and if it's too thin, add a little more powdered sugar**

Next mix in 1 tsp of vanilla.

Doesn't that look yummy?

Wasn't that easy?


Just. Yum.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Made from Scratch Chicken Pot Pie

Just a little preview of a scrumptious, made from scratch chicken pot pie

I use PictSweet Vegetables for Soup frozen veggies.
I bought a large 1 lb bag because I am planning on a homemade veggie soup this week. This chicken pot pie uses about 2 cups of veggies and you can use canned if you want (just drain the liquid off).
If you use frozen veggies, set them out to thaw prior to cooking.

I also use skinless boneless breast meat and I prefer to cook mine in the crockpot with chicken broth. I think the chicken is much juicier and easier to shred. You can chop chicken into bite size pieces and brown if you prefer. I just think it's easier to throw it in the crockpot (even if it's still partially frozen) and let it simmer on low all day. Plus it smells good.

Let's make crust!
This is all you need:

**crust is not an exact science, so just follow closely**
***you can use butter instead of shortening, but for a chicken pot pie, I prefer shortening***

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

I'm using an 8 1/2 x 11" oblong pan, so these measurements are for a "double deep dish" crust.

Start with about 2 2/3 cups flour and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl.

This is going to take *about* 1 cup of shortening.
I start with a large spoonful and go from there

Take a pastry cutter and "cut" your shortening into your flour.
Basically keep smushing your shortening in and around your flour. I do a large spoonful at at time. 

When my mom taught me to make pie crust and I asked "how much?" she always said "till it's enough".

So, there ya go. Use shortening till it's enough.

If you don't have a pastry cutter, a fork works, too.

It's "enough" when it looks like peas or little crumbles and clumps.

Like this...

Then, you start adding water. This should take 5-10 tbsps of cold water.

Mix the water and flour mixture with a fork.

The number of tbsp of water will vary depending on how much flour and shortening you started with.

I started with 5 tbsp of cold water and it looked like this...

That wasn't quite enough, so I added 2 more tbsp and it looked like this...
Still too dry.

That wasn't quite enough either, so I added 1 more tbsp of water and it looked like this....

**another way to "test" is if you pick a small amount of the flour mixture out and can easily make it into a dough ball, that's "enough".
After 5-6 tbsp of water, add 1 tbsp at a time. It doesn't take much to be too much and you can't take it back out.

Spread some flour out on your counter to roll your dough out on. Coat your rolling pin and hands with flour.

Then place your dough on your floured surface. 

Again, I am using an 8 1/2 x 11" oblong pan, so my bottom crust needs to be a little larger than my top crust, so I used about 2/3 of my dough for my bottom crust.

Roll out your dough into a somewhat rectangular shape.

Roll your dough into an oblong roll so you can pick it up

Unroll in your pan. Either trim or tuck the sides in.

We like crust, so it's okay if it's a thick crust.

Roll out your top crust the same way and set aside.

Take your chicken out of your crockpot, if that's how you made it, and shred with 2 forks.
This is so easy I highly recommend it.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in a large saucepan.
I used my Earth Balance dairy free - soy free spread.
AKA fake butter. 
It worked very well!

Add 1/3 cup flour and mix well.

Sorry for the kinda crappy pictures. This is like making gravy and you don't have a lot of time to stop, pick up the camera, spot focus and shoot a decent pic.

Unless you have extra arms.
In which case, you would be really good at this!

Next, gradually add 1 3/4 cups chicken broth.
Stir and allow to thicken.
Again, this is like making gravy...

Then add 1/2 cup milk and stir till it thickens.
I used almond milk and there was absolutely no difference in the taste or texture.

So, my chicken pot pie is completely dairy free!

Yay! I can eat a whole bunch....

Add about 2 cups of your mixed veggies.
Again, if you use canned veggies, drain the water off first.

Add your shredded chicken and mix well.

Pour your chicken and veggie mixture into your pan.

Roll your top crust out on top of your chicken and veggie mixture. Press the edges together and cut a couple small holes in the center to allow steam to escape.
Bake in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Pssss, here's a little secret.
Sometimes the edges of your crust start getting more brown than you would like and you've still got some cooking time left....

Just take strips of aluminum foil and cover the edges of your crust/pan for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.
It helps to keep the edges from getting too brown and/or burning.
You're welcome.

Here it is, fresh out of the oven.
Notice the edges of the crust?
Just perfect.

This was soooo good!
Absolutely a Bossman favorite.

Another photo...
Is your moth watering yet?

How 'bout now?
C'mon try it!

Best Sugar Cookies for Shapes

If you have been looking for a good sugar cookie recipe that is easy to use cookie cutters on this is it. This recipe makes nice, cake like cookies that cutting shapes out of is easy peasy. And they're soooo good! I've been using this recipe for as long as I can remember and they always turn out great!

Look at those sugar cookies!
They're kind of gorgeous.

Here's what you need:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Put your cup (2 sticks) of butter in a large mixing bowl and "cream" - use a mixer to beat the butter till it's soft (only takes about 30 seconds)

Add your 1 cup of sugar gradually to butter and cream.
By gradually, I always do 1/4 at a time. 
When you're done, it will look like this.

Add your 2 eggs, 1 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla to your butter and sugar and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together your 3 cups flour and 3 tsp baking powder. I use a fork - place it on your flour (as shown below) and push down, going all the way around the bowl several times. Then toss and mix so that the flour is "fine" and not clumpy.

Now it's time to mix your flour & baking powder with your butter mixture. Do this gradually - again 1/4 at a time. 
Mix well.
This is what it will look like.

****Refrigerate your dough for 10 minutes****

Time to roll out the dough!
Put some flour on your counter and coat your rolling pin with flour.
Dip your hands in flour to coat them and then remove your dough from the bowl and place on your floured surface.

Roll dough out to about 1/4" thickness and use cookie cutters to cut shapes.
You can also just make round cookies by forming with your hands.
After cutting shapes, remix dough together and roll out again.
Continue until you have used all your dough.

Dip a paper towel in shortening and wipe it on a cookie sheet.
Place your shapes on the cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
The amount of time will depend on how thick you make your dough.
Once again, I usually take mine out just a teeny tiny bit early.

Use a spatula to remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.
These are great plain, but you can frost them or decorate with colored sugar.

Aren't they pretty?