Monday, September 29, 2014

DIY Green Enchilada Sauce

Homemade green enchilada sauce is something I've thought about attempting for a long time.  I just cringe when I read the ingredients on any of the cans at the this one found here:


No soybean oil, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup solids, artificial colors, or yeast extract (aka MSG) needed here.

So this recipe I found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe was intriguing because it involves roasting poblano or anaheim peppers before cooking them in the sauce. I don't have a gas stove to roast them on, but I do have an oven, which works just as well.  It really couldn't be easier.

After the peppers are ready, it's just a few more simple ingredients to simmer together on the stove, and then a quick whir in the food processor if you want a smooth sauce (I did), or you can just leave it chunky.
Presto!  You're ready to make enchiladas or Mexican stewed pork or any other thing you make with green enchilada sauce.

It's a little spicy, so full of flavor, and completely free of weird ingredients that I don't want to feed my family. Win/Win.

DIY Green Enchilada Sauce
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

3-4 Anaheim or Poblano chile peppers OR 1 cup canned diced green chiles, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium jalapeno, finely diced (optional)

To roast peppers:

Preheat oven broiler to high. Wash and dry peppers and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil about 6 inches below the top oven element for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred and blackened.
Remove from oven and immediately fold the foil up over the peppers and fold shut. The steam will help the peppers to peel easily.  After about 15 minutes, open the foil. The peppers should be cool enough to handle and the skin will slide right off. Cut off the stem, scoop out the seeds and discard, and dice the peppers.

To make the sauce: 

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic; cook until the onions are softened, but not browned.
Stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't worry about clumps - just let the flour get golden and toasted.
Gradually add the broth, whisking quickly and constantly to smooth out any lumps.
Add all the remaining ingredients, including 1 cup of the diced peppers, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The sauce should be silky and thickened - able to coat a spoon but still drip off. Add more broth to thin out if needed.
Add additional salt to taste, if needed. Process sauce in a blender or food processor if you prefer a smoother consistency.

Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen for up to a month or two if well sealed.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chocolate Pumpkin Delight Cake - SRC

It's time for the explosion of pumpkin recipes again!  I couldn't be left out of the fun, especially since pumpkin baked goods are some of my very favorites. So when I saw this cake on the blog of my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month, it was a no-brainer.

Deb blogs over at Cooking on the Front Burner, and let me tell you, she takes some of the most beautiful food photos!  I just couldn't stop looking at everything and admiring how tempting everything looks.
Raspberry Peach Cobbler,  Strawberry Bruschetta, and Grilled Pork with Chile Lime Sauce were just a few of the options that caught my eye, but I just kept coming back to that cake. I mean, chocolate and pumpkin, with a caramel cream cheese frosting???? How could I resist that??

Now Deb's cake is absolutely fabulous with chopped nuts pressed into the sides and garnished with pecan halves on the top. But seeing as I'm the only person in my family who likes nuts with baked goods (boo), that was really out of the question.  Also, she made hers in 8" pans and had leftover batter - I just used 9" pans and used it all. I ended up modifying her recipe a little to increase the frosting so I would be sure to have enough and used less ganache inside the cake. I didn't want it to overpower the salted caramel frosting.

Oh, and I made my own caramel sauce - using this recipe. It's a fantastic sauce and very simple - and one batch of it makes exactly enough for the frosting.  (And if you happen to make a batch that ended up not cooking quite long enough to get that perfect color, you can always save it in the fridge and add it to your coffee. YUM.)

This cake is really big, so be sure you have a crowd to feed!  But it lasts well in the fridge for several days as well, so don't sweat it if you have leftovers.  They're just as delicious!

Chocolate Pumpkin Delight Cake
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

For the Cake:

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the Frosting

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

For the Ganache
4 oz dark chocolate bar 
4 oz (1/2 cup) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter (3) 9" cake pans and line each with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl or mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Alternating adding the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixture to the large mixing bowl, blending well after each addition. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove and cool on racks.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then add the caramel sauce.  Mix well and add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and mix until fluffy.  

To make the ganache, chop the chocolate bar into small bits and place in a bowl.  Heat the cream  in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges, then remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until smooth. 

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving dish or cake stand (I prefer to put it on a small board so I can put it in the fridge easier). Place pieces of wax paper tucked around the cake to help with the mess factor.  Put about a cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread within a half inch of the edges.  Drizzle some ganache on top and spread thinly. 

Repeat layers until you get to the last one.  Spread frosting around the top and sides of the cake, smoothing as desired. Drizzle or spread the remaining ganache over the top and allow to drip down the sides.  Use an offset spatula to blend the edges in with the frosting if desired.

Remove wax paper from the bottom of the cake.  Store covered in the refrigerator. 

Source: Adapted slightly from Cooking on the Front Burner

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cream Biscuits

I've tried my hand at all sorts of biscuits over the years.  Ones with just butter, ones with buttermilk, even ones with sour cream.  And don't get me wrong; Carb-a-holic that I am, I like all biscuits pretty darn well.  (Confession: when I was 16-18, I spent my summers working at McDonalds. I would rarely eat the food - mainly because I didn't want to spend the money - but I loved their biscuits. I would crave them. When I was working the breakfast shift and we would have leftover biscuits that were headed for the garbage, I'd sometimes grab a couple and stuff them in my purse for later.)  

When I came across these cream biscuits, I was won over in a heartbeat.  They're ridiculously easy, so fast to throw together, and practically melt in your mouth.  My kids could eat a whole pan of these without a second thought.  We love them with homemade sausage gravy, with jelly or apple butter, or just plain with a little dollop of butter.

I thought I'd mention them today because my sweet Annika is turning seven tomorrow (!!!) and these, with sausage gravy, is what she requested for her birthday breakfast. I'm making it today because tomorrow will be filled with cake decorating and party prep. That being said, I'm off to make my favorite middle child her breakfast.

Happy Birthday, Annika!! 

Notes: I usually make 1 1/2 times this recipe to feed my family.   

Cream Biscuits
adapted from Smitten Kitchen 
Yields 10-12 two inch biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional; I use it)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I have used 1 cup cream, 1/2 cup whole milk successfully)
3 Tbsp. melted butter  (optional; I don't use it)

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
Sift 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar (if using) into a large bowl.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little.
Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball, and use your hands to press it to a thickness of about 3/4". Cut into rounds with biscuit cutters.  I like to use the miniature ones for the kids.
Gather the dough scraps and continue to make rounds. If desired, dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet.  I find I prefer them without being dipped in butter, but it's up to you. 
Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately.

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