Monday, February 25, 2013

Cherry Pie

I made this for our special Valentine's Day dessert.  Yesterday.  February 24th.  We don't go big into Valentine's Day around here, but I did bring out all the red and pink toned crayons and Colin helped me make a home made card.  He also tried to eat the crayons, so all the pink and reds have tiny tooth marks in them now.  I will, of course, take any excuse to make a special dessert, even if it is almost two weeks late.

Cherry Pie

1 batch pate brisee - the best pie crust
3-4 cups cherries (I used frozen, thawed, as it is the middle of the winter and cherries are about a million dollars a pound right now)
1/2 cup sugar
2-4 Tablespoons cornstarch, depending on how juicy your cherries are
1/2 lemon, juiced

Make pate brisee.  Follow Martha Stewart's instructions.  They work for me every time.
Form into two discs and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  I like to take them out about 15 minutes before rolling, so they are still cold, but manageable.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.
Roll one disc of pie crust into a 9 inch circle and transfer to a pie plate.
Fill with cherry mixture.
Roll remaining pie crust and top cherry mixture.  I used my heart shaped cutter to make it cute and seasonal.
Bake for 50 minutes until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown.

Due to my heart shaped cutout crust, I was left with some extra dough.  When I was little and my mom would have extra pie dough she would give it me to fill with raisins and cinnamon sugar and bake a mini pie.  Once this pie is gone and we are sad (I give it 4 days tops), I'm going to make a mini pie.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

I loved this recipe!  Every night we ate it, the leftovers tasted even better.  I must have said, "This is so good.  SO GOOD," to Jon about 200 times.  Most definitely a keeper.

It takes a bit more prep work than I usually like to invest for a crock pot meal, but it's absolutely worth it.  Marinating the chicken in the yogurt mixture and searing it beforehand, and then cooking the vegetables and getting all the flavor from the pan give this dish an amazing depth.  Sometimes crock pot meals can sort of all taste like one thing because it's all been cooking together all day, but these additional steps really helped maintained the individual flavors.  As is often the case with Indian recipes, clear some room on your counter top, because you'll be taking out nearly the entire contents of your spice cabinet and pantry.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
slightly modified from Tasty Kitchen 

Serves 6

1 package (I think mine was about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
4 Tablespoons butter
1 jalapeno, sliced

4 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons garam masala
1 piece fresh ginger, 1-2 inches, peeled and grated
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon sugar (raw, if you have it)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup (or more) heavy cream

In a large bowl, toss the chicken with coriander, cumin, salt and yogurt.  Allow to marinate for about 10 minutes. 

Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. 
Brown the chicken in batches, adding more butter as necessary. 
Transfer to the slow cooker once it's browned. 
Add sliced jalapeno on top of chicken.

Don't clean the pan.  Melt the additional butter for the sauce over medium heat.
Add the onions and salt and cook for about 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent and starting to brown.  Add in the garlic for one minute.
Stir in the garam masala, ginger, and sugar and cook for about 1 minute.
Raise the heat to high and pour in the crushed tomatoes. 
Stir well, scraping the caramelized pieces from the bottom of the pan.  I found a wooden spatula to work well. 
After the sauce has come to a boil, pour over the chicken in the slow cooker.

Cook on low for at least 5 hours.  The chicken will shred easily with a fork.

Whisk the cornstarch into the heavy cream and stir into the chicken mixture.
Turn heat to high and leave the lid ajar until desired consistency is reached.  This took about 15-20 minutes for me. 

Serve over rice and top with parsley and Greek yogurt.  I'd also recommend some naan or pita for scooping all the delicious sauce.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've told you before how much I love carrot cake.  I wouldn't say I'm a huge cake lover in general, unless it's the cheese variety, but I adore carrot cake.  Carrot cake cupcakes were a natural choice for Colin's C themed birthday party, and I justified it by telling myself he'd be at least get a vegetable mixed in with the butter, sugar and flour. 

The original recipe is supposed to yield 12 cupcakes, but I filled mine a little low and had plenty for 12 regular cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes.  I doubled the original frosting recipe (my measurements below), because you never want to be stingy on frosting, and had a little leftover.  The birthday boy got a mini cupcake and thought it was the most amazing thing he'd ever eaten.  I held it for him to take bites, and at one point he grabbed my hand and shoved the entire thing into his mouth.  I'd say they were a success
I'd also say that it appears he is biting my hand in this picture based on the weird expression on my face.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Joy of Baking


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cup finely grated raw carrots (about 1/2 pound)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin cups with paper liners.  Again, I had 12 regular and 12 mini. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Stir in the applesauce and carrots.
Fold wet mixture into dry until just incorporated.
Portion batter among muffin cups and bake about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean and the tops are lightly springy. 
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.  I made mine the night before.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until well combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the powdered sugar and mix well.  If you add it too quickly or at a higher speed, you and your kitchen will be covered in powdered sugar dust.
Pour in vanilla extract and beat until desired consistency is reached.  

I need to invest in a better pastry bag and acquire some piping skills, but they were delicious!

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