Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Baked Honey Chili Chicken Thighs

Honey Chili Chicken Thighs feed a crowd baked chicken
Honey Chili Chicken Thighs
Chicken thighs are a great item to cook for a crowd.  They're cost efficient, time efficient when baked or bbq-ed, and pretty forgiving since dark meat tends to be moist even if you overcook it a few minutes.  I was looking for a recipe for an 8 person potluck and found this one after browsing one my favorite food sites, The Kitchn.  The name is a bit misleading since it wasn't spicy at all, but that's probably because I used mexican chili powder instead of red chili powder.  The honey and beer caramelized while baking and added a subtle sweetness to the dish.  I couldn't really taste the beer, so just open up whatever you may have on hand.  The accompanying cilantro sauce goes great with the chicken, with vegetables, and even by itself over rice.  I made the sauce once with sour cream as the original recipe called for and once with plain yogurt.  I liked my yogurt version better since it's healthier and has more of a tang to it.  This reheats pretty well so if you're like me you'll make a big batch to send some home with your guests or have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pain de Sucre Bakery

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 3 months since we returned from our Paris vacation.  Time flies and I feel like there's still so many yummy spots I haven't shared!  Pain de Sucre was a bakery at the top of my list.  One day as we were meandering the streets, we had some extra time before our dinner plans and we pulled up Pain de Sucre on Google Maps.  Walking up and down the street that Google Maps led us to, the bakery was nowhere in sight.  Could Google Maps have led us astray?!  As my spirits dipped at the lost opportunity, my husband spotted the store:

Pain de Sucre Paris Swimwear
Pain de Sucre...not the bakery one.
It was the right name, but not exactly what I had in mind.  What a sad realization!  Even more sad when my husband couldn't stop laughing at how disappointed I was.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cranberry Crumb Bars

Cranberry Crumb Bars lemon berries dessert
Cranberry Crumb Bars
Crumb bars are another one of my favorite go-to recipes for a quick and easy dessert.  These work well with berries though I'd be interested to try peaches one day.  I've used blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries before and they all turned out great.  This time I had a bag of cranberries that I froze way back when so those came out of the freezer and straight into this recipe.  No defrosting necessary!  I paired cranberries with lemon here, but it was kind of tart so I'd substitute orange for the lemon next time.

Once again these made their way to work and fared much better than the coffee cake!  Perhaps the notion of fruit makes it seem "healthier"?

Cranberry Crumb Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), cut into pieces
1 egg

1 12-oz. bag cranberries, fresh or frozen (or 4 cups berries or other fruit)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be quite crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan, pushing down to make sure the crust is compact.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the cranberries. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough evenly over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely then cut into squares. Makes about 28 squares.
Other variations:
Blueberry and lemon
Blackberry and lime
Raspberry and lemon
Peaches and orange (possibly with grated ginger)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Chocolate chip coffee cake dessert breakfast
Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake
I made this coffee cake for the first Friday of my first week of work.  As the newbie, I will admit that my intention was to lure people to my desk so I could meet more people.  It worked to some degree, though I soon learned that many people at work are quite disciplined about eating healthy.  I did meet a few new faces but at the end of the day I was still left with a third of a pan of coffee cake.

chocolate chip coffee cake breakfast dessert
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
I cut the sugar from the original recipe and I'm glad that I did since I still found it a little sweet for my liking, though it does pair well with a cup of coffee. The top crust had a fragile, sugary crunch where the batter had caramelized but you can still spot the sprinkling of sugar granules that I could have done without.  I might have also thought it was too sweet since this was the first time I used Kirkland Semisweet Chocolate Chips (surprisingly, I just bought this for the first time) I usually use Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pound Plus bar since I like my chocolate dark.  After falling in love with dark chocolate for so long, it's hard to go back to semisweet and milk chocolate!  Give this dessert-for-breakfast a try - I'll admit that I wasn't that bummed that I had a third of the pan left and it sure didn't last long at home.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
1 cups (200 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Filling and Topping:
2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate bars
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x13 baking pan or glass Pyrex pan. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick.  
  5. In a separate bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff and then fold into batter.
  6. Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Spoon remaining cake batter over the filling in the pan. Use an offset spatula to gently spread batter evenly over the filling and smooth the top. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture and chocolate chips.  Using your palm, gently press the chocolate chips into the batter a bit to make sure they stick. 
  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!