Thursday, September 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Pound Cake

It took me forever to choose a recipe for the potluck we had at work last Friday. Finally I settled on a Salted Caramel Apple Pound Cake from Evil Shenanigans. I have to tell you, this took me awhile to make. If you make the caramel ahead of time it might help. The baking time was shorter than I expected though. I set the timer for 40 minutes but it was done at 35 when I went to check on it.

The smell that filled my home was so amazing. Every time I inhaled I could smell caramel. My caramel didn’t thicken up as much as I’d hoped though. I thought it was a bit runny because it was warm, so I put it in the fridge overnight and it was thicker, but still runny. I used it anyway of course! I skipped the whipped cream because this is already fattening enough without it. It doesn’t even really need the caramel on top. You could definitely eat this cake without it. Make it in a loaf pan even. I guess you’d get 2 loaves out of it.

Now, this was my first time making caramel and the flavour is fabulous, but maybe I didn’t cook it long enough, or maybe the fact that I used honey instead of corn syrup had something to do with it. I didn’t want to buy a big bottle of corn syrup for only 2 tablespoons, so I decided that honey might do the trick. I’ll have to read up on caramel making later to see where I went wrong.

Anyway, the cake and caramel were worth the effort. Everyone at work enjoyed it and I will definitely be making my own caramel from now on, even if I have to buy a big bottle of corn syrup. And if I buy corn syrup, then I may be tempted to make a pecan pie for my honey, since that’s one of his favourites. Oh boy! But I have no use for corn syrup otherwise. On to the recipe! And if you want to see more pictures of the process, visit Evil Shenanigans. I started baking late, so I didn’t really have the time to stop and take many pictures along the way.

 
 
I used an autumn bundt pan, but the design really didn't come out well. The pan is pretty though.
 


 



Salted Caramel Apple Pound Cake
24 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 6 (or 5 without caramel on top)

Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup Salted Caramel, divided
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 cup whole milk
1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and diced

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease and flour your bundt pan and set it aside.

In a very large bowl, beat the butter with ½ cup caramel until combined, then add white and brown sugar and continue beating for about 5 minutes, on medium speed, until it’s fluffy. Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating for 2 minutes between eggs. Stir in the vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda and both flours. I used about 3 cardamom pods and ground them myself.

Now, alternate the flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Then, fold in the apples.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

I let mine cool overnight in the pan (covered with a towel) and had no problems getting it out the next morning. In any case, wait until the cake is completely cool before pouring the other ½ cup of caramel over the top.

Linking to
 
Love Bakes Good Cakes

Salted Caramel

This stuff is delicious. Mine wasn’t as thick as I would have liked, but the flavour was there. I put it in the fridge overnight thinking it would get thicker, and it did, until I poured it on my cake, then it was runny again.

I used honey instead of corn syrup so I’m not sure if that was my problem, but I will definitely make this again after I read up on caramel making! My home smelled like caramel all night and into the morning. It was amazing! The original recipe says it makes 2 cups, but I measured more like 1 ½ cups so I’m dividing this by 24 tablespoons for a total of 2 PointsPlus per tablespoon. Totally worth it! I would put this on pancakes or oatmeal instead of sugar or syrup. I made it to use in the Salted Caramel Apple Pound Cake I brought for a potluck at work. For step by step photos, visit Evil Shenanigans. I didn’t have time to take many as I was making it. It was getting late.




Salted Caramel
24 Servings (1 tablespoon each) | PointsPlus per Serving : 2

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I used honey)
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Directions
In a deep pot, place the sugar, water and corn syrup over medium heat. Let this come to a boil. You can swirl the pot, but don’t mix it. Brush down the sides of the pan with water if the sugar starts to stick. Keep swirling every now and then as it bubbles and starts to turn brown. After about 6 minutes (I feel it was more like 10 but I wasn’t watching the clock), it should be brown and smell like it’s starting to burn.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in your cream, butter and salt. I did this in the sink because the original recipe warned that it would bubble up.

Once the butter is melted and everything is combined well, set it aside to cool completely. You can refrigerate this for up to a month apparently! If it lasts that long!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Creamy Clam Chowder with Corn

I love clam chowder don't you?! I had some corn on the cob in the fridge that we weren't eating so the best thing to do with it is put it in your soup! And today was freezing here! I went to work in the morning and it was nice. I didn't even think to bring a sweater. But when I left I felt like I was walking through a freezer. I'll remember that for tomorrow when it's only supposed to go up to 16C. Burrr. Summer is definitely over!

You could eat this as a meal with some toast or you could serve it as a smaller portion. I would have eaten the whole pot, to tell you the truth, but my family wanted some so I had to share.

I always keep bacon in the freezer. I rarely cook bacon at home because it's such a mess. Cooking it in the oven is better than on the stove, but still, I prefer to eat it it occasionally at a restaurant. The reason I keep it in the freezer is for making soup. It cuts really easily even when it's frozen. Just cut off a chunk and dice it or divide the strips into 3s before freezing.




Creamy Clam Chowder with Corn
4 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 7
6 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 5

Ingredients
3 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
corn from 1 cob (about 1/3 cup)
1 142g can of baby clams, keep the juice
1 236ml bottle of clam juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup flour
fresh parsley

Directions
In a nonstick pot, cook the bacon and onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they turn golden.

Stir in the potato and corn and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the juice from the clams along with the bottle of clam juice and spices to the pot. Set the actual clams aside for now. Stir it up then add 2 cups of the milk.

Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

Mix the other 1/2 cup of milk with the flour until there are no lumps. Add this mixture to the pot. I strain it in. Stir it up and let it simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until it thickens.

Sprinkle on some parsley at the end.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quick Garden Fresh Marinara

Summer's almost over and we picked what was left of the parsley and basil. There are still a few peppers and tomatoes that need to be picked but they were still all green. This marinara was super simple and took no time at all to prepare.

The points value includes all the vegetables. If you don't want to include the vegetables, it would be 1 PointPlus per serving. I got about 2 cups of sauce out of this recipe. It would depend on the size of your tomatoes.




Quick Garden Fresh Marinara
6 servings (1/3 cup each) | PointsPlus per Serving: 2

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium tomatoes
1 medium sweet red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2-1 teaspoon sugar

Directions
Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and let it blend until smooth. Set aside.

Now blend together the red pepper, garlic, onions, basil and parsley until smooth. Don't be alarmed if it looks a little green.

Cook the pureed onion mixture in the oil over medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and all the remaining ingredients and let it simmer over medium low for about 15 minutes or so.

Whatever you don't use right away can be stored in the fridge.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy International Chocolate Day! Chocolate Recipe Round-up.

Happy International Chocolate Day! 

Today also happens to be my birthday. Hello! That means I have to have chocolate cake today doesn’t it?! Oh, chocolate fudge cake! Yum yum! And I know just where to get a good one of those. I won’t have time to make my birthday cake because I have to make a Salted Caramel Apple Pound Cake for the potluck at work tomorrow.

I love chocolate don’t you? I usually go for milk chocolate. But don’t ask me which one is my favourite because I like them all! I’m not really a fan of dark chocolate. It’s just too bitter for me, but semi sweet is good for baking.


 
Chocolate Recipe Round-up.
Here’s a round of up recipes on my blog that have chocolate.

Bars and Brownies
Homemade Healthy Granola Bars (with chocolate chips)

Cookies
Cranberry Hootycreeks - cookies in a jar with white chocolate chips

Cakes, Cupcakes, Muffins and Doughnuts

Other Sweet Treats

Drinks

“I could give up chocolate but I'm not a quitter.”
I read more cute quotes about chocolate here.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Here’s another recipe I’m transferring over from Facebook, just in time for International Chocolate Day! I made this awhile ago and it was delicious. You can pair it with your favourite frosting, just remember to add points. The points I’ve given below are for the cake only. You could also make this in a bundt pan, and dust with confectioners’ sugar if you want to keep it simple and not add additional calories. Adapted from AllRecipes.com.

 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
24 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 4

Ingredients
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two nine inch round pans, or 1 bundt pan (if you don’t want 2 layers).

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes on medium. Stir in the boiling water last. This will be thin. Divide the batter between the two pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. It’ll take about 45 for a bundt. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire wrack to cool completely before frosting.

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Here’s the recipe for the famous 5 minute chocolate mug cake that was going around through email years ago.  Everyone keeps saying how terrible it is. Well, everyone is right. The texture of this particular mug cake was not pleasant. It was chewy, and not in a good way. I was expecting a brownie texture but it was like a sponge instead. I’m transferring this recipe over from Facebook. I haven’t made this one in years. I’ve already stated the reason for that.

Here's the recipe as I received it in the email. But I wouldn’t recommend making this. I just wanted to show you that not every recipe is successful. Since then, I think we’ve been able to come up with much better recipes for microwave cakes. You may want to try one of these instead. Individual Microwave Lemon Cakes or Coffee Microwave Cakes. And there are several of them going around Pinterest as well. I haven’t tried them all, but they’re worth a shot when you’re desperate for something sweet.


5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
1 Serving | PointsPlus per Serving: not worth calculating

Ingredients
4 tablespoons flour 
4 tablespoons sugar 
2 tablespoons cocoa 
1 large egg 
3 tablespoons milk 
3 tablespoons oil 
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) 
A small splash of vanilla extract

Directions
Add dry ingredients to your largest mug and mix well. Add the egg. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well again. Add the chocolate chips, vanilla extract and stir until combined.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high. Check it after a minute, then two to see how it’s doing.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Let it cool a bit before you eat it. If you really want to eat it. I’m not so sure about that. I certainly don’t.

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Minestrone Soup

Autumn is getting close and the temperature is slowly dropping here. Well, you know what that means don't you? It's time for soup! All kinds of soup. My kids love soup and so do I. My husband isn't the biggest fan of soup, but he'll eat the creamy ones and go back for seconds. He didn't try this one. I guess because it's not creamy. Oh well, his loss!
I pinned this soup awhile ago. I adapted it from Skinny Taste, which is one of my favourite places to go for Weight Watchers friendly recipes.

You wouldn't believe what a shopping experience I had on Monday when I went to pick up a few things that I didn't have at home for the soup. The store I chose to go to must have been pretty busy over the weekend, because there was nothing left in the store! I went to get celery but there was none. Luckily I had some already chopped up and frozen for moments like this.  I also noticed that they were out of bananas! What?!! I was happy that they had milk by the end of it, because I really didn't want to run around the city all day looking for things.

Then I went to get some low sodium chicken broth. Nope, no chicken broth in sight. Not even the regular one with salt. So I had to get vegetable broth instead. Okay, no problem there, it worked just fine. But what happened there? Was everyone making soup this past weekend? Italian parsley. Are you kidding? They didn't even have celery, why would they have Italian parsley? I got the curly type. There's nothing wrong with it anyway, it's just curly. What's the big deal? I didn't even bother to check out the cheese. I decided that if I didn't have a Parmesan cheese rind in the freezer, I'd just leave it out. But I did have one! Hooray! My tiny freezer is stocked better than the store!

The recipe called for a 28oz can of tomatoes. I did have a can in the cupboard, but I also had 3 large tomatoes in the fridge that were really soft. Actually, they were at the back, and sometimes things that make it to the back of my fridge freeze. I think these tomatoes must have been frozen at some point, but it's okay, they are good for cooking with. I didn't want to throw them away so I used them in this recipe. You can use a can if you prefer. And my beans came in a 19oz can, not 15 as the original recipe used. I pureed only half the beans because I wanted to see some beans in the soup and my kids like them. I guess if your kids don't like beans, you can puree the whole can. It turned out to be a bit thick, but you could add more broth if you need to.

No added salt this time because I had to get the regular broth. There was nothing low sodium or salt free at the store today. Jeez! Taste your soup and decide if it needs salt after. I've given you the points value for smaller or larger portions as this recipe makes quite a lot of soup. I didn't include the cheese rind, because we're not going to eat that in the end. Fish it out along with the bay leaves when the soup is done.



Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Minestrone Soup
6 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 4
8 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 3

Ingredients
1/3 cup diced onions
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
3 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (or 28oz canned)
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (I didn't have fresh)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 x 19oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups chopped spinach (I used frozen, thawed and squeezed)
2/3 cups uncooked pasta (I used tubetti)

Directions
Place the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cheese rind, basil, parsley, rosemary, bay leaves and pepper into the slow cooker. Take 1 cup of the broth and 1/2 the beans and puree until smooth. Add the bean puree to the slow cooker along with the other 2 cups of broth and the rest of the beans.

Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. While that's cooking, boil your pasta according to package directions and set aside for later. The reason I used dry pasta in the ingredients list is because my package of pasta listed the nutritional info for dry pasta and I wanted to do the calculation correctly. 85g of the dry pasta worked out to 2/3 cup. I know this because I weighed it. And actually, I thought there was too much pasta in the end, especially the next day when it expanded even more and sucked up more of the liquid.

Now, 40 minutes before you're ready to eat the soup, add the zucchini and spinach. Give it a good stir and let it cook for 30 minutes. Then, stir in the pasta. Cook it for another 10 minutes, then you're ready to gobble it up.

Add a bit of fresh grated cheese if you like, just be sure to add the extra points for it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Creamy Baked Tubetti for One

I'm by myself today and I've got some minestrone in the slow cooker. I just put it in but now it's lunch time, and I'm hungry! I bought little Tubetti pasta to put into my minestrone so when I looked at it I decided that I needed to have some for lunch too.

The problem with pasta is that I love it. If I make too much I won't be able to control myself. So how do you solve a problem like this? You make just enough for one serving. That's how! And don't add any extra salt. The cheese is salty enough.

This is not really a low points value recipe, but it's not bad compared to what a recipe like this could be worth. And again, the fact that I only made one serving here is very important. At 11 PointsPlus per serving, who can afford to eat more than one serving anyway? And you know all those extra bites that I would have eaten from left overs probably wouldn't make it into my food tracker.





Creamy Baked Tubetti for One
1 Serving | PointsPlus per Serving: 12

Ingredients
1/3 cup tubetti, dried (or other small pasta)
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/8 cup grated Parmesan (the real one please)
1/8 cup grated Romano (also use the real stuff, it just tastes better)
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon butter

Directions
Preheat the oven to broil.

Place everything in a nonstick pot and simmer on medium heat until the pasta is cooked and the sauce is thick. The pasta should still be a bit firm. Make sure you stir regularly or this WILL stick to the pot. Even if you're stirring, it may still stick. Oh well, it's worth it.

Place the cooked pasta into a little oven proof bowl. I like the ones with the handles. The one pictured I actually found at a thrift store. I picked up 4 but one broke, because one day, I didn't have anything else to pound meat with. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Duh!

Anyway, take a slice or two of mozzarella and place it on top of the pasta. Not too much, we don't want to add too many extra calories here. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

And remember not to just go into the oven and grab the handle of the bowl. You will hurt yourself. I've done it before. Duh again! It's also a good idea to wait a few minutes before eating it. You don't want to burn your tongue either.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quick Ranch Dip Mix - Crazy Cooking Challenge

The crazy cooking Challenge is back for a second year! How could I not participate?! Since it was short notice, we were assigned the easy task of making a ranch dressing or dip. I chose something simple from Budget Savvy Diva. I added onion powder, which I believe was also in the original recipe from $5 Dinners.

Make up a batch of this and keep it in a jar. You could mix it with yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, mayo ... I'm sure all of these would work. I had sour cream on hand, so that's what I used. The points value given is just for the spice mix. The total value will depend on what you decide to mix it with.

Oh, and today is my daughter's 5th birthday! Happy birthday little munchkin! She was just 2lbs 6oz at birth. Small but feisty from the beginning. That's what the nurses called her. Feisty. =)





Quick Ranch Dip Mix
3 servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 0

Ingredients
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Mix everything together and store in a jar. When you're ready to use it, mix 1 heaping tablespoon with 1 cup of sour cream, plain yogurt or a combination of sour cream and mayo. Use some buttermilk to thin it out if you want more of a dressing consistency. Let it sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight before you eat it.

This makes about 3 heaping tablespoons of mix.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Here are the other recipes I've entered in the challenges over the course of the first year. I missed the first Challenge of Mac & Cheese, but someone used my recipe for that challenge which is how I found out about the challenge in the first place!

September 7th, 2011 / Challenge 1 - Mac & Cheese
October 7th, 2011 / Challenge 2 - Chocolate Chip Cookies
November 7th, 2011 / Challenge 3 - Mashed Potatoes
December 7th, 2011 / Challenge 4 - Fudge
January 7th, 2012 / Challenge 5 - Chicken Noodle Soup
February 7th, 2012 / Challenge 6 - Chocolate Cake
March 7th, 2012 / Challenge 7 - Spaghetti
April 7th, 2012 / Challenge 8 - Blueberry Muffins
May 7th, 2012 / Challenge 9 - Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
June 7th, 2012 / Challenge 10 - Smoothies & Shakes
July 7th, 2012 / Challenge 11 - Fried Chicken
August 7th, 2012 / Challenge 12 - Cheesecake
Here are the themes for the rest of 2012!

September 7 - Ranch Dressing / Dip
October 7 - Apple Pie
November 7 - Stuffing
December 7 - Perfect Sugar Cookies


Photobucket

Also linking to
 
For fun, here's my little girl when she was 6 days old. That day also happened to be my birthday.

October 14th, just about to go home!

And here she is now.