Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lemon-Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon-Glazed Lemon Pound Cake - made May 24, 2014 from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans
I could not get a good picture of this cake to save my life but rest assured it looked better in person than in the pictures and it tastes awesome enough that it didn't matter what it looked like. This is one of those recipes I thought I'd made before but a fruitless search on my blog and in my recipe archives show no evidence of that. I had probably intended to make it for so long that I had convinced myself I had but I was wrong.
No matter. I finally made it because I had milk and lemons to use up. As with most citrus-flavored pound cakes, it's really the glaze that brings out the flavor so for once I advocate for the frosting. Fortunately, it isn't very thick. I did add some extra lemon zest to the cake batter for the lemon flavor but the glaze was still key.
The cake is a bit of a pain because it formed a meringue-like crust on top so loosening it from the pan also meant the near-crackly top was crumbly and the cake didn't come out very cleanly. It didn't break apart when I inverted it but it was a little craggy. Fortunately I can cover any amount of sins with the glaze.
And the inside makes it worth it because it had a soft, tender, buttery crumb that was delicious. It was the perfect pound cake texture without being too dense or too light. Fearless Baking has a number of great recipes that I've tried so far and this one is no exception.
Lemon Pound Cake
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup whole milk

Thick Lemon Glaze
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter a Bundt or tube pan or spray thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  3. Cream the butter, shortening and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until it looks creamy and forms fluff large clumps, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after adding each egg. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, mixing just to incorporate.
  5. Decrease the speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Incorporate each addition before adding the next one. Mix until combined and uniform. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  6. Bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes but begin checking the cake after 1 hour and 35 minutes. The cake is done as soon as a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of batter but with a crumb or two of cake clinging to it.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small spatula or knife to loosen the cake from the sides and center tube of the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack or serving plate and re-invert right-side up.
  8. Glaze: Put the melted butter, lemon juice, salt and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and stir together until the glaze looks smooth and the ingredients are blended. Spoon about two thirds of the glaze over the top of the warm cake, using a small metal spatula to spread it evenly over the top. Spread the remaining glaze over the sides and in the center hole of the cake. Cool cake thoroughly before slicing and serving.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bakery Review: Schulzie's Bread Pudding

Schulzie's Bread Pudding - ordered May 19, 2014, received May 20, 2014 from Schulzie's
I always love discovering new foodie small businesses. Foody Direct is an awesome source for showcasing exactly that and how I discovered Smith Island Baking Company. Now I can credit them with putting Schulzie's Bread Pudding on my radar thanks to one of the promotional emails they sent me that showcased Schulzie's and their bread pudding offerings.
When I looked into the company, I was pleased to discover they're a small business with a storefront in San Francisco and in Venice, CA. Their website also talks about sourcing their ingredients from a local farmers' market and their efforts to be green from the biodegradable containers they use to donation of their green waste to local community gardens for compost. That's the type of business I like to support whenever possible. Plus, let's be honest, I love bread pudding.
So it didn't take much, like maybe a grand total of a few days, from the time I got the promotional email from Foody Direct to when I placed an online order with Schulzie's. The prices did make me blink though: $48 for 3 pints or $80 for a combo 6-pack plus shipping. Ouch. But all in support of a small business, right?
Original Schulzie's Bread Pudding
Since I was close to their San Francisco location, I was fortunate that I got my order very quickly. I placed the order online on Monday morning and received my shipment on Tuesday afternoon. At first I was just going to get a 3-pack but I thought I would only be able to get one flavor (I missed some of the 3-pack combos on the site) and that didn't seem like much of a trial if I was only sampling one flavor. Plus it was a flat shipping rate of $9.95 to my area so it seemed a shame not to "load up", as it were. So I got the 2-flavor, 6-pack combo instead and selected the original (always have to try the original) and the caramel.
Original Schulzie's Bread Pudding
These pictures don't really do the bread pudding justice. The bread pudding is packed in 1-pint containers, clearly labeled with what flavor each pint was and the box contained instructions on how to serve and store the bread pudding (all FoodyDirect packages do). I tried a spoonful of the original one first and thought it was good. I love bread pudding and this one didn't disappoint but in all honesty, I've made equally good bread pudding for far less money. So I was somewhat resigned that I'd spent all this money in the name of research and small business support but I don't know if the original bread pudding was such a standout that I'd rave about it and crave it once my 3 pints were consumed.
Then I pried the lid off the Caramel Charisma bread pudding and took a spoonful of that. Oh. I took another spoonful just to make sure. Okay, yeah, that was really good. The caramel is represented as both a sauce on top that dribbled down the sides and to the bottom as well as ribboning through the bread pudding. In other words, delicious. Sometimes caramel can be overly sweet but not this time and not in this bread pudding. It was the perfect flavor to sweeten the bread pudding without making it cloying. And it was smooth creamy caramel.
Caramel Charisma bread pudding
It's still rich enough that I could only eat a few spoonfuls at a time (and had to hit the treadmill afterwards) but if you like a good bread pudding, Schulzie's doesn't disappoint. I still think it's rather expensive for what you get, even though it was delicious, but possibly because I've made my own bread pudding and can come close to what I just bought. However, I still like being able to support a small business with a great product and I'm not above ordering from them again, both for myself (I want to try a couple more flavors) and to send as gifts to other foodie friends. It's just going to have to be a sometime food, both for my waistline and my wallet.
Caramel Charisma bread pudding

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bibingkang Espesyal

Bibingkang Espesyal - made May 24, 2014 from Jun Belen
A Filipino coworker was asking me to troubleshoot her bibingka recipe because hers was coming out too dense. I didn't know what was in her recipe but I went through the bibingka recipes on my pin board with her to show the ratio of dry to wet ingredients. Oftentimes when a cake is too dense, it may not have enough liquid as compared to dry ingredients. Or it isn't beaten enough to incorporate air or there isn't any or enough chemical leavening like baking powder in it. Or it's been overbaked. It's hard to tell without seeing the recipe but going through the ones I'd pinned in earlier times inspired me to try one of them.
First, though I had to go to the Asian grocery store to get a few ingredients. 99 Ranch is the one closest to me but I hate going to this particular one because the parking is tight and the spaces are all meant for compact cars the size of Mini Coopers. Which I don't have. But I'll do anything for baking so I braved the parking lot and made my way into the store. 99 Ranch is what I consider a hardcore Asian grocery store; my hardcore Asian friends would laugh at me for that since they consider 99 Ranch the Americanized Asian grocery store. But, as an Americanized Asian, I'm often lost in the store and I have the hardest time finding anything because I can't read 90% of the packaging. They have some items from the Philippines and those I can read just fine but many of the items sport Chinese (or Japanese or Thai or Korean) characters without any English translation. So I easily get lost. And on this trip, in my confused meandering down the aisles, one of the food demo ladies started speaking to me in Chinese. I smiled lamely and looked blank but she still kept talking. I still kept not understanding what she was saying so I politely refused whatever she was offering (assuming that's what she was saying) and tried another aisle.
Even though it takes me twice as long to get a few items, I eventually end up finding what I need. There are some things I can only get at an Asian grocery store and usually their prices can't be beat which is why I go. Case in point, I needed banana leaves. Technically, you don't need to line the pan with banana leaves when making bibingka but I like the authentic touch. I eventually found the banana leaves in the freezer section - a whole slew of them for 79 cents a pack. Score. I also bought a can of coconut milk from Thailand ($1.79) for this recipe. I know mainstream grocery stores sell coconut milk in cartons but I only ever bake with the canned stuff. Don't ask me why; it just feels more authentic.

The bibingka I was planning to make is served with grated fresh coconut and I found a pack of that in the freezer aisle as well for $1.79. Since I was already there and I didn't want to have to come back (truly, I hate their parking), I also picked up a pack of frozen grated cassava ($1.49) and a small pack of tapioca flour ($.79) for other recipes I wanted to make in the future. Total purchase came to $6.15. This is why I make myself deal with the confusing abyss of 99 Ranch - it's cheap.
There are many types of bibingka. This is the cakey kind (as opposed to the sticky kind I'm more fond of). Traditionally, this cakey version of bibingka is baked with slices of salted duck egg and cheese on top. Filipinos often like that salty and sweet combo so I've left that in the directions below but I confess, I'm not one for the salty/sweet nor do I like duck egg or cheese in my cakes. Instead, I do the Americanized version - no duck egg and no cheese. So that makes this mostly a vanilla butter cake, slathered with melted butter when it's hot out of the oven, sprinkled with granulated sugar and covered in grated fresh coconut. Authentic or not, it's still good.
The whole point of this kind of bibingka is to eat it while it's still warm, the butter is melting on top, the sugar is crunchy and the grated fresh coconut adds texture and flavor. I wouldn't recommend substituting sweetened flaked coconut or shredded coconut for the fresh grated coconut. Grated coconut is how they serve it in the Philippines and while I was willing to forego the duck egg and cheese, I couldn't break that far from tradition and do anything less than fresh grated coconut; it's a much better taste and texture - another reason I had to brave 99 Ranch as that's the only place I've found it available.

If you're not going to serve this immediately but are baking it ahead of time, I advise not doing the topping until you do serve it. Right before serving, warm it up slightly then brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle the sugar and coconut (in that order) over it. This is still good at room temperature but the sugar will absorb into the butter the longer it sits and you'll lose the crunch. Instead the top will have more of a "wet" texture. So if you're going to try cakey bibingka for the first time, thrill your taste buds and eat this warm and freshly made.
Banana leaves, cut into two 10-inch circles

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling on top of cakes
1 1/4 cups coconut milk (I used canned)
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus additional for brushing on top of baked cakes
1 salted duck egg, sliced thinly, optional
1/4 cup grated Edam or cheddar cheese, optional
grated fresh coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two 9-inch pie pans or round cake pans with banana leaves
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  4. Beat eggs in a bowl using a mixer on medium speed. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Alternate adding flour and coconut milk to the egg and sugar, mixing on medium speed after each addition. Add melted butter and mix well.
  6. Divide batter equally into the two pans. Bake for 15 minutes then take out of the oven, lay slices of salted duck egg on top and sprinkle generously with grated cheese (skip this step if you're not using egg or cheese). Continue baking until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes more. Turn the broiler to low and broil the cakes to brown the tops. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  7. Remove cakes from oven and brush with softened butter. Sprinkle with sugar and grated fresh coconut. Serve warm.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day - Vanilla Layer Cake

Vanilla Layer Cake - made May 26, 2014 from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson
I had another post planned for today but in honor of Memorial Day, I decided to make this Vanilla Layer Cake to showcase the red, white and blue sprinkles to commemorate the day. There's nothing "Memorial Day" about this cake other than the sprinkles but I wanted something to mark the day to honor the men and women of our armed forces. Memorial Day isn't just a day off but a time to honor those who serve. It's also a good reminder that, if you're inclined to make charitable donations, there are a lot of worthy organizations out there that serve our veterans and active service personnel.
Just a few examples (note: I'm not affiliated with any of these organizations other than donating to them in the past):
Fisher House Foundation
Wounded Warrior Project
Gary Sinise Foundation
As for the cake, this can be as simple or as fancy as you choose. If you're a vanilla lover, I'd keep it simple to stay true to the vanilla flavor. The original recipe called for frosting it with chocolate buttercream but I wanted to keep it purist vanilla so I made up my own vanilla frosting recipe. My frosting came out just a trifle too sweet, maybe because I'm not a frosting person even though I have sugar running through my veins. So I kept the frosting layer very thin. Because this was all about the cake. It was delicious. Light, fluffy and exactly the cake texture I've been trying to replicate in my quest for the perfect banana cake. But this was in vanilla form and I loved it. Once again, Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor reigns supreme when it comes to fabulous recipes.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
seed scrapings for 1/2 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk blended with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Vanilla Frosting
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
enough milk to achieve desired spreading consistency (1-3 tablespoons, more or less)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray the inside of two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.
  2. Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.
  3. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in three batches, beating for 1 minutes after each portion is incorporated. Blend in the vanilla bean seed scrapings and vanilla extract; beat for a minute longer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  4. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions with the milk-heavy cream blend in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the batter even-textured.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing it evenly between them. Smooth tops witha small metal spatula.
  6. Bake the layers for 25 to 30 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes. Invert each layer onto another cooling rack, peel off the parchment round then invert again to cool right side up. Cool completely before frosting.
  8. Frosting: Beat butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and enough milk to beat smooth for your desired consistency.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Browned Butter Cinnamon Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter Cinnamon Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough May 16, 2014 from Cooking Classy
The original recipe from Cooking Classy called for dulce de leche but I had a jar of caramel from Angelina that I had bought in Paris that I wanted to use. I'm no stranger to stuffing chocolate chip cookies with something gooey and I have a deep abiding love for caramel. Especially caramel from Paris.

I modified the recipe slightly to make stuffing the cookies easier. I chilled the jar of caramel first. You don't want it liquidy and soft or it'll just flow around and make getting the cookie dough around it more difficult. Use a high quality caramel of course. And please make it real caramel, not caramel topping or butterscotch sauce. Caramel. I also used mostly mini chocolate chips and only a handful of regular-sized semisweet chocolate chips. With stuffed chocolate chip cookies where you encase the caramel inside the dough, larger chips become a liability because they create potential gaps around the cookie dough that the caramel stuffing can escape from. You don't want that. In this case, you also don't want too many chips, regardless of size, for the same reason. If you're the type of person who likes enough chocolate chips just to barely hold the dough together, instead of making these as regular "drop" cookies, place the dough in a ramekin, drop a dollop of caramel over it, cover with more dough then bake. That way you don't have to worry about the caramel leaking out and hardening during baking on a cookie sheet.

Caramel leakage --> misshapen cookie
If you prefer the more traditional stuffed cookie, just make sure you use enough dough to cover your filling completely and seal all the cracks. Once I had the cookies all stuffed, I froze them overnight. Don't even think about baking these from warm dough or they'll spread too much and your caramel has a higher likelihood of leaking out. Even with those precautions, I only had a 50% success rate in the caramel not leaking out during baking. I think I should've skipped the regular-size chocolate chips and stuck only to the mini chocolate chips. Still, these were divine. The cinnamon added a slightly different flavor than the standard chocolate chip cookie and of course, I loved the caramel. From Paris.

1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 cup dulce de leche or caramel, chilled
  1. Brown butter in a medium saucepan until fragrant. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cool.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Pour cooled brown butter into the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using a rubber spatula to scrape out any excess. Add light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla. With the paddle attachment, whip on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until combined. 
  4. With mixer on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes until firm. Scoop 2 1/2 tablespoons of dough, flatten into a thin bowl shape and add a heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche or caramel to the center of the dough. Wrap dough around dulce de leche, fully enclosing within the dough. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place stuffed dough balls evenly spaced on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 - 12 minutes. Cool several minutes on baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Restaurant Review: Roy's Hawaiian Fusion, Anaheim, CA

Roy's - dinner on May 7, 2014, 4-star rating on yelp, 702 reviews
On my last night at our annual convention, I went with a few of my coworkers to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. Roy's is also within easy walking distance from our hotel and I'd gone there last year for the first time. Ironically, there's one much closer to me at home than a business trip a plane ride away but I've only gone to the I'm-on-a-business-trip one.
Appetizers at Roy's include a free plate of spiced edamame - it's like their version of a bread basket but healthier.
However, we opted for lobster potstickers from the appetizer menu too. They were good but I'd have to give the nod to the lobster ravioli at The White House for being a tad bit better in terms of lobster filling and flavor. Still, it was a good choice for an appetizer.

Lobster Potstickers
One of my coworkers opted for the Butterfish. She'd been at Roy's the night before with her team, had gotten it then and got it again when we were there. I had a taste of her butterfish and had to admit I could see why she had it two nights in a row - it is good. The sauce they pour over it caramelizes in the cooking and it was delicious. The butterfish was also tender, not soft like a sole (I don't like soft-fleshed fish) but nowhere near as firm as a swordfish or halibut. From a Goldilocks and Three Bears standpoint, it was just right.
Misoyaki Butterfish - $34.95
Another coworker got the Lobster Pot Pie. My only brush with lobster pot pie was the one at Michael Mina's in Las Vegas and that one was $85 so I didn't get it. Roy's lobster pot pie was a bargain in comparison at less than half that price. I had a sample taste of that one as well and thought it was also good. They seemed pretty generous with the chunks of lobster in the pie and who doesn't like pie crust, whether it's a sweet or savory pie?
Lobster Pot Pie - $38.95
As for my own entree, I ordered the halibut. I love halibut and this one came with risotto. This was also tasty but I have to admit, compared to the butterfish, the halibut comes in second. The sauce and flavor of the butterfish was superior to the halibut. It was still a delicious choice but next time I go to a Roy's, I'm getting the butterfish.
Alaskan Halibut - $34.95
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
There were two desserts on the menu that our server said had to be ordered ahead of time and we opted to get both of them: the pineapple upside down cake and the molten chocolate cake. I expected the molten chocolate cake to be my favorite and it was good but, surprisingly, the only non-chocolate dessert we got, the pineapple upside down cake, turned out to be the winner for me. The cake itself was delicious, the baked pineapple was the perfect complement of tart yet sweet and it was served warm, yum. The accompanying pineapple-shaped cookie was cute but it was soft, not crisp so it wasn't to my taste. I'd go back to Roy's just for the pineapple upside down cake if that gives you an indication of how much I liked it. That and the butterfish.
Molten Chocolate Cake
The third dessert that the four of us split was the Kona Chocolate Bread Pudding. I like bread pudding and I love chocolate but, another surprise, this came in third for me. I don't know if it was the Kona flavor or what but I didn't love this bread pudding. I liked the texture but wasn't enamoured of the taste. No matter, that meant I could focus more exclusively on the molten chocolate cake and the pineapple upside down cake.
Kona Chocolate Bread Pudding
Roy's is another place that isn't cheap but it's nowhere near as expensive as Morton's and if you want somewhere a little nicer in the mid to high price range, it's a good option. Our server was extremely friendly, not to mention passionate about her job and the food she was serving which is always nice to see. The place does get crowded though, at least it was when we were there, so I also recommend making a reservation, either through Open Table or by calling them directly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Slow Cooker French Dip

Slow Cooker French Dip - made May 16, 2014 from Shugary Sweets
I've been slacking off lately on the cooking but I have killer microwaving skills. And my crock pot expertise is right up there with my microwaving genius so I occasionally manage to feed myself without falling back on takeout.
But at last, a savory, non-dessert recipe I can post. However, as always, it's still a production for me to put a dish together, even something as simple as throwing stuff in a crock pot. I didn't have grill seasoning so I just went without and added more salt and pepper. I managed to get the right cut of meat (I think). But the really ridiculous moment is when I had to get beer. Bear in mind I don't drink. At all. The closest I come to alcohol is Kahlua cake. I do occasionally use wine or sherry in cooking if the recipe calls for it but I cook so sporadically that oftentimes the wine or sherry bottle gathers dust before I use the contents again. So imagine my trip to Target to buy beer.
Actually, I had planned to get the beer at Trader Joe's but I was at Target first to get something else and they had an end cap of beer so I figured I'd save myself a trip. But....did you know there are many different kinds of beer? And brands. Pale Ale. Stout. Guiness. Light beer. Some fruity something or other. But nothing that said, "I'm just beer. Buy me." The recipe called for "dark beer" so I figured something labeled "pale ale" or "light" wasn't it. So that took out 25% of my choices but what about the remaining 75%? Honestly, I think I spent 10 minutes circling that end cap like it was some exotic animal and I was trying to decipher its tag but it was written in code. A code to which I had no cipher. It would've probably been faster if I'd grabbed a college student and had them pick for me. So then I fell back on the millions of advertising dollars beer companies spend every year and figured I should go with Budweiser because I like those Clydesdales when I watch the Superbowl every year. Except there wasn't any Budweiser on that end cap. And I wasn't trusting the other brands which may or may not have been some form of beer. I finally settled on Heineken because I knew that was beer. I don't know if it was good beer but at that point, I didn't care.
So, if you don't drink, the hardest part of this recipe is getting the beer. After that, it's back to easy street again with throwing ingredients in the crock pot, turning it on low and walking away for the day. I ended up cooking this for over 10 hours before I was satisfied that the meat was tender enough. The au jus was pretty liquidy (as it should be) and there's no beer taste at all in the finished product (whew). There's no pretty picture of this dish, at least not the way I cooked it. They were just pieces of meat. But I have to admit when I melted some cheddar cheese on top of the beef, sandwiched it in a whole wheat bun and dipped it in the au jus, it really did taste like honest to goodness French dip. It would probably have looked more like it if I had better knife skills or sliced the meat when it was raw but taste-wise, this was pretty good. My mad crock pot skillz still reign.
5 pounds beef rump roast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grill seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 1/2 cups beef stock
12 ounces dark beer
  1. Place roast in large crock pot. Season with salt, grill seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, beef bouillon and minced onion. Add broth and beer to crock pot, cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until fork tender.
  2. Take out the meat and slice or shred it. Strain the au jus so there are no clumps or meat or fat. Serve on French bread with cheddar cheese and side of au jus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Over the Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies

Over the Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies - made dough May 16, 2014, modified slightly from Real Mom Kitchen

I have so many friends whose favorite flavor combination is chocolate and peanut butter. I'm indifferent to peanut butter so I typically only eat it paired with chocolate but I'm in the minority on that. I can usually count on any type of chocolate peanut butter combo being a crowd pleaser when I make it. As was the case with these cookies. I needed something to put in goodie bags for a lunch with our church friends, to serve for some family company in town and the rest I baked off to bring to work the next day. No matter the occasion, these went over very well.
Think of this as a good peanut butter cookie classed up to greatness. In large part due to the peanut butter cups on top. I must say I thought it was genius of Real Mom Kitchen to add these on top after baking. Such a simple yet powerful visual and taste appeal. I think I may need to do that with all peanut butter cookie recipes from now on.

Cut up the peanut butter cups into quarters (chill them first for easier cutting if it's warm out) and when you take the cookies out of the oven, immediately and gently press the peanut butter cup chunks randomly on top. Be generous with them too. The residual heat from the cookies will melt the peanut butter cups just enough to adhere to the cookie tops but not so much to melt them shapeless. You do need to let these cool completely before trying to stack them or else the softened peanut butter cups will smear into each other. The nice thing is while these cookies do spread, they don't spread that much (bake from frozen dough) so they retain a nice thickness for which to carry the peanut butter cups.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
32 mini Reese's peanut butter cups, each cut into 4 pieces
  1. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. 
  2. Cream butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add sugar and brown sugar until blended. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Blend in dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Portion dough into balls and chill for several hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and lightly press 8 cut-up Reese's peanut butter cups over the top of each cookie. Cool completely.