Monday, October 21, 2013

SRC: Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake

After a two month baby hiatus I'm back to my monthly Secret Recipe Club!  It's crazy to think that the last time I completed an assignment in July I had no baby and now, I have an absolutely adorable two month old baby boy.  I shared a picture of him with his "month birthday" cupcake on Saturday and let's just say that this mama has a new favorite photography subject :).

This month I received Kristy's blog, Gastronomical Sovereignty.  I'll admit that now that I'm a mommy, I don't always have a ton of time to browse blogs and read the content that goes along with each post but Kristy is gosh darn funny.  I truly enjoyed reading through her commentary.  Another thing I found in common with her was that we both partake in CSAs (community supported agriculture).  If only I had known about her blog when I was still getting my weekly boxes and standing there wondering what to make with my umpteenth bunch of chard...

What's wonderful about a CSA besides supporting a local farmer is that you know you're getting food that's fresh and in season.  When food is in season and not shipped from thousands of miles away, it's fresh and at its peak.  It's better tasting and full of nutrition...the way that Nature had intended.

This is why I chose a seasonal recipe from Kristy's blog.  I went straight for the "Fall" tag and was excited to make a cake in my cast iron skillet.  It's something that I've always wanted to try.  When I was baking this cake, my house smelled like Autumn.  Warm spices that taste like gingerbread and juicy pears.  It was heavenly.

Christine's Kitchen Chronicles: Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake

Top it with some vanilla ice cream and your life will be complete...

Christine's Kitchen Chronicles: Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake

I had to wait until supper time to make it a la mode and enjoy this beauty because I was bringing it to my in-laws' house.  I'm always fascinated by how natural light (see the third photo on this post) versus artificial (first two photos) makes a huge difference in the quality of the photo.  That's one down side to Fall's arrival is shorter days = less light = uglier food photos.  Sorry about that!

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Sugar Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Apple Pie Cookies
Four Years Ago: Christine's Fried Rice

Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake

Christine's Kitchen Chronicles: Ginger-Pear Skillet Cake


For the Cake
  • 2 1/3 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 C Canola, Grapeseed, or Other Neutral Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 C Gently Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 C Unsulfered Dark Molasses
  • 1/2 C Plain Whole Milk Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Ginger, finely grated
  • 1 Large Egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 C Hot, Fresh Brewed Strong Coffee (recommended) or Boiling Water
For the Topping
  • 4 Firm-Ripe Pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (Bosc or Anjou are good)
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 C Gently Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  1. Place rack of oven on the lower third and preheat to 325F. Generously grease a 10 or 11 inch cast-iron skillet. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, ground ginger, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves (if using). Set aside. Whisk together the oil, brown sugar, molasses, yogurt, fresh ginger, and egg in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in half of the flour mixture. Stir the baking soda into the hot coffee until dissolves, then add to the batter and stir until combined. Stir in the remaining flour. Transfer the batter to the prepared skillet and spread evenly. 
  3. Arrange the longer slices of pear in a circle along the edge of the pan, overlapping them slightly and with the narrow ends pointing toward the center. Arrange the shortest slices in a second circle in the center to cover the batter completely. Dot the pear slices with the butter along the outer circle only. Mix together the brown sugar and salt and sprinkle evenly over the top.
  4. Bake until the top springs back when you press it lightly in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the skillet to the stove top to cool for at least 20 minutes. 
  5. Cut cake into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Source: Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht as seen on Gastronomical Sovereignty

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chewy Butterfinger Cookies

See the giant chunks of Crispity Crunchity Butterfinger Goodness in the photo below?  They were apparently too much for my body to handle.  These will forever be known as "Labor Cookies" thanks to my friend Scott.  Literally the same night that I made and ate (probably too many of) these cookies, I went into labor after going nearly two weeks post-date.  My camera went from taking glamour food photos like this...

To the next photo of my son wailing while getting his first bath at home.  To say our lives changed in a blink is an understatement...

Yep...he really hated bath time in that infant tub.  It caused my husband and I much distress and we dreaded bath days.  The only upside was that he was so tired afterward that he would often sleep through the night (7 straight hours!).  But as for the bath thing, thankfully some mommies on my local message board suggested using the regular tub and getting in with him.  He seems to like this much better.

I digress.  You're here for the Labor Cookies.  I mean, Chewy Butterfinger Cookies.  For those that are currently pregnant, fear not for these cookies will not induce labor.  That is, unless you want them to.  Then it can't hurt to try.  But no, really.  There's no medical reason that these will do anything to you other than spike your blood glucose and make your mouth and tummy feel really happy.

This is a quick and delicious way to use up those candy bars that you'll get at Halloween.  Or...on clearance after Halloween.  Or heck, for those Butterfingers that you have just because they're delicious.

Maybe my son would like some Lactation Cookies, next...

Chewy Butterfinger Cookies

Yield: About 2.5 dozen cookies

  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened 
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 fun sized (or 2 King sized) Butterfinger candy bars, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl and set aside. 
  3. With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in egg until just combined. Gradually add in flour mixture. Gently stir in Butterfinger pieces. The dough will be very thick  (if it's too dry and crumbly you can add an extra egg). Drop by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet (or for a perfect shape use my favorite cookie tool...a Medium OXO Cookie Scoop).
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool and enjoy!
Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hawaiian Roll Ham and Swiss Sliders

These sandwiches have circulated the internet since the beginning of time.  Okay.  Maybe not really but it sure seems like it.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen them appear on other blogs and always with rave reviews.  I bookmarked this or similar recipes more times than I can count.  So what made me finally break down and make them?  Actually *tasting* them for myself when my cousin-in-law Mandy made them for her annual pool party.

They were like little bites of soft-but-slightly-crunchy buttery Heaven melting in my mouth.  Sweet, salty, delicious.  My husband and I tried to limit ourselves at the party because there weren't that many but when I made it at home?  All bets were off.  The fact that it was doused in butter didn't matter because it just tasted too good.  We devoured three sandwiches each!

Oh and have you ever passionately disliked an ingredient?  Like...pretended to be "allergic" to it because you so vehemently hated it?  My husband is this way with mustard.  He claims that the mere sight or smell of it will make him throw up.  He literally closes his eyes if I'm eating something with visible mustard next to him.  Honey, I'm so sorry to tell you that these sandwiches that you loved so much and even got excited all over again when you saw me photo editing this for my blog...these contain...mustard.

I always feel so guilty and devious when I try to "sneak" forbidden ingredients into our meals but it just goes to show you that what you don't know won't hurt you!  Plus, it'll be great practice for when I have to hide veggies and such in Alex's food ;).

One Year Ago: Chicken Marsala Risotto
Two Years Ago: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hawaiian Roll Ham and Swiss Sliders

  • 12 Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls 
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli sandwich ham (preferably honey baked or brown sugar)
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese, cut in half
  • 1/2 c butter, melted 
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds 
  • 1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown or dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp onion powder

  1. Slice the rolls in half to form a bun and place bottoms in baking pan. Layer ham (I folded each slice into quarters and used 2 slices on each roll) and cheese halves on rolls. Replace tops. 
  2. Combine butter, poppy seeds, mustard,Worcestershire, and onion powder and mix well. Drizzle over rolls. Refrigerate until butter is firm or overnight. 
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese melts. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Source: Just a Pinch Recipes

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Tomato Florentine Soup

Fall is here.  I think?  It has been surprisingly warm and humid here in Ohio recently.  But this past week there was a cool, rainy day and I thought hey.  Soup's on for dinner!

I'm a sucker for a good homemade soup and with the baby, I need to be even more choosy with the meals that I make and the ones that I spend time to write about to share on my blog.  This one is worth it.  It's quick to come together, full of tomatoey flavor, and quite nutritious from a healthy dose of spinach.  Part of me thinks that my son is so strong because of all that spinach, kale, and chard that I ate while pregnant!

I don't think I have to tell you that tomato soup goes well with grilled cheese, right?  Still, I have another delicious sandwich suggestion that I'll be sharing later this week...

This soup is best fresh because the pasta will suck up the soup as it sits overnight.  I was shocked at how much my ditalini pasta swelled when I tried to reheat it the next day.  It was still good but benefited from the addition of extra broth (or water) to make it soupy again.  Still, nothing can fix that, slightly-too-mushy pasta texture.  So yes, eat up my friends!  (I ate 3 bowls...)

One Year Ago: Southern Comfort (Drunken) Caramel Apple Pie, Banana Pumpkin Nutella Bread, and Breakfast Skillet
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Pecan Loaf and Brown Sugar Spice Cutout Cookies with Maple Icing
Four Years Ago: Sugary Sweet Chili

Tomato Florentine Soup

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter 
  • 1 (14.5 oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved 
  • 1 (28 oz) can sliced stewed tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine 
  • 1 TBSP packed brown sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste) 
  • 2 rounded TBSP all-purpose flour 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth (adjust the liquid amount depending on how "soupy" you like your soup to be!)
  • 4 oz (1 cup) small macaroni, ditalini, tubettini, or other small shaped pasta
  • 10 oz (10 cups) fresh baby spinach 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and onion and cook until the tomatoes get dry and begin to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  
  2. Add brown sugar, red pepper flakes, flour, and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the broth and reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps as you go.
  3. Stir in the pasta and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
Source: Slightly modified from Pink Parsley as adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook