Archive for November, 2008

coffee cake

 What took me so long on figuring out how great Smitten Kitchen is? I have no idea, but it is a fantastic site. It’s amazing what the author does with a kitchen that is, I dare say, even smaller than mine (although they do have a dishwasher, so her husband has it a little easier than Craig). Anyway, Smitten Kitchen – probably more accurately its photography – inspired me to do something I never do. Bake. When I saw this recipe and realized I had almost a whole tub of sour cream that needed to be used before we left for the holiday, the deal was done. The only problem was that I bought a bag of chocolate chips that was only half the size of the one the recipe called for. Still, I thought the cake was adequately chocolatey, and I can’t imagine it with double the chocolate. Then again, I am one of those weird people who will purposely choose the chocolate chip cookie with only 2 or 3 chips in it, so you might not want to trust me on that. Either way, this cake is delicious and hey, I actually baked!

Chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen


1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream (I had used about 4 or 5 oz. of the sour cream, so I filled in the rest with plain yogurt)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

12 ounces chocolate chips (Yeah, I used 6 oz…)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon



1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.

3. In a greased 9x13 pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.

4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.


Enjoy with coffee!

coffee and cake


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Moroccan Meatballs

moroccan meatballs

Not everyone likes lamb, but I do, and Craig really does. As I am always on the lookout for fun ethnic foods to try and make, one of the blogs I enjoy reading is Ashlee’s – she adopts a new country’s cuisine to cook from almost every week.  A very ambitious project to be sure! So, when I saw these Moroccan meatballs from her “Morocco Week” and saw that they were originally made with ground lamb, I decided to give them a shot. These came out very tasty and, even better, I now know how to make charmoula. The charmoula would be delicious on chicken or a hearty fish such as swordfish.

Moroccan Meatballs over Israeli Couscous

Adapted from: A Year in the Kitchen

For charmoula:

½ Tbsp. dried chili flakes

½ Tbsp. sweet paprika

½ tsp. grated ginger

¼ tsp. saffron threads

½ onion, diced

½ Tbsp. ground cumin

1 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

½ tsp. lemon zest

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon


Combine all ingredients and let stand in fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to 7 days


For meatballs:



28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 lb. ground lamb

¼ c. dried breadcrumbs (next time, I would use more breadcrumbs since I halved the recipe but had to use a whole egg – so really, use at least 1/3 cup)

¼  c. milk

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. chili powder

½ Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

1 egg

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Meanwhile, prepare meatballs – soak breadcrumbs in milk until soft, add remaining ingredients and combine. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes to seal.

2. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce.  Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and fry the charmoula marinade for about 5 minutes, until onions have softened. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Add the meatballs, coat in sauce, and simmer for 5 more minutes.


To serve: Israeli couscous


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chocolate milk

As you have probably figured out by now, I am not much of a baker. So, when I saw this chocolate milk recipe shortly before Craig’s birthday, I knew it would make the perfect birthday treat. My husband adores chocolate milk. The thicker and richer, the better – and if it comes in a thick glass bottle, there is no way we’re leaving the store without it. This chocolate sauce recipe provides all the richness of those glass-bottle-type chocolate milks, even when mixed with skim milk. Yes, the sauce is rich and certainly not diet food, but you only need a little bit in each glass. I can’t wait to try this as hot chocolate, too. And maybe also to dip the raspberries I just bought in the sauce…the possibilities are endless…

As a side note, if you are not already a fan of the Pioneer Woman, I highly suggest you check her out. Her wit and great photography definitely keep me coming back. And if you have an entire afternoon to kill, I dare you to not get hooked on her ongoing love story.

Chocolate Milk

Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks!


4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, preferably Ghirardelli, broken into squares

1 cup whipping cream

½ tsp. vanilla extract



1. Bring cream to a bubble in a high-sided saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add chocolate and turn off the burner. Using a whisk, beat in chocolate for about 2 minutes, or until fully smooth. Whisk in vanilla.

3. Transfer to a pourable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. To make chocolate milk, use a long spoon to stir 1-1.5 Tbsp. chocolate sauce into a glass of milk.

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Golden Tilapia

When I was making my grocery list for the week, it occured to me that my husband Craig would be taking the MPRE, aka the ethics portion of the Bar, on Saturday (which also happens to be his birthday, but more on that later in the weekend). As such, I figured I should ask him what he wanted to eat on Friday night that would give an extra boost to his mental agility. Unfortunately, my mental agility was apparently in the toilet, because I asked him once, got an answer (fish), and then proceeded to forget that he had given me an answer and ask him again. Of course, I got a different answer the second time I asked (risotto). I realized this while I was grocery shopping, and decided I would make both – tilapia filets with a nice veggie risotto on the side.

This tilapia recipe has a special place in my recipe book because it was the first moderate-difficulty recipe I attempted when I was first learning to cook. I simplified it slightly for this meal, but I also recommend the original, which is linked below.

I also can’t believe I haven’t blogged a risotto yet. I learned how to make risotto from my dad (we’ve since dubbed him the “Risotto King”), who in turn learned from an Italian chef in Ann Arbor, MI. I really enjoy making risottos and, even more so, eating them. However, I usually make them as a main dish, so it was a slight departure for me to serve it as a side here.

Golden Tilapia

Adapted from: Food Network


Coarsely ground pepper

1 tsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 ½ Tbsp. rum

¼ tsp. lemon zest

1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tilapia filets

Olive oil to cook



1. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring soy sauce, rum, lemon juice, lemon zest to a simmer. Add sugar and whisk to dissolve. Whisk in pepper, ground ginger, and garlic and reduce slightly – for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.


2. Pour marinade over filets and marinate 20-30 minutes (if making the risotto, you can just marinate for the time it takes to cook the risotto).


3. Coat the bottom of a sauté pan well with olive oil and heat over medium high until shimmering. Remove filets from marinade and let excess drain off. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until fully opaque.


Zucchini-Red Pepper Risotto


4 cups chicken broth

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

½ onion, diced

1 ⅓ cups Arborio rice

2/3 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

1 small zucchini, julienned

6 oz. jarred fire-roasted red peppers

2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan (go for the good stuff in this recipe)



1. Put chicken broth in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a rapid simmer over medium high heat.

2. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium high heat in the largest high-sided sauté pan you have, or in a Dutch oven.  When beginning to foam, add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened but not brown.

3. Add rice and toast, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is almost fully absorbed.

5. Add two ladle-fuls of hot broth, just enough to cover the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until broth is nearly absorbed. Continue to add broth in small batches and to cook, stirring frequently (I find that two ladles at a time works well until the end, when I cut down to one at a time).

6. When about half the broth has been added and the rice is about half cooked, add zucchini and peppers. It may be necessary to raise the heat slightly for a few minutes after adding vegetables to return the contents of the pan to temperature.

7. Taste grains of rice frequently to monitor for al dente doneness, and add smaller additional batches of broth as necessary. When the rice reaches al dente (this could take anywhere from 15 to over 20 minutes depending on the batch), turn off the heat.

8. Add most of the parmesan (reserving a small amount to sprinkle on top) and the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, and stir vigorously. Once the texture is creamy and butter and cheese are melted,* plate and sprinkle with reserved parmesan to serve.


*If making with tilapia, the risotto can be covered and set aside in its pan for the few minutes it takes to cook the fish. The time it takes to prepare the fish will also be reduced by immediately putting a pan on the hot risotto burner to cook the fish.




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