Monday, March 30, 2009

Delicious Dump Cake

Here is another No Recipe Zone dessert for you. It's so easy!! You need a box of yellow cake mix, any kind of cake mix will do. Grab a can of cherry pie filling, a can of crushed pineapple and a stick of butter.

Dump the can of cherry pie filling in the bottom of your baking dish. Next, dump the crushed pineapple on top, mix around with your finger. Just kidding. If you are serving this to guests, use a proper utensil.

Next dump the box of yellow cake mix on top of the fruit mixture. If you like nuts, sprinkle some on top.

Take a stick of butter and slice it all over the top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until top is browning.

It's best to let it cool a little before serving. If it's piping hot out of the oven it will ooze all over the place and the fruit filling is hot as hell.

I could literally stand over the stove and eat the topping with a fork. Forget the fruit, I love the buttery crunch of the yellow cake mix on top. Jim and I served this to friends one night and had half a pan left over the next morning. We tossed it. Not because it was bad, but because it is SO good and we didn't need to be standing over the stove eating this dump cake out of the pan with a fork. It's THAT good.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Allow me to introduce you to our new favorite winery. Jim and I visited Waugh Cellars last year and have since continued to enjoy all their lovely wines. I've recently heard that Waugh is about to expand their distribution to Austin - ah, fingers crossed!

Chicken Cacciatore is one of the first meals I made for Jim. After I blew through all my standbys like Meatloaf, Pot Roast and Spaghetti with Meatballs I was forced to hit the internet and find something online that I thought looked manageable enough to a beginner cook. I found this recipe for Chicken Cacciatore on Food When I made this recipe back in 2007 I had never cooked with bell peppers before or with wine. I know... at the time I had NO idea what was about to come of me in the kitchen. I've since made this dinner for Jim and I on numerous occasions and even made it once while camping!

Here is what you need to gather for this meal if you are making four entrees:

4 skinless chicken breast halves on the bone, about 2 pounds (I simply used boneless, skinless chicken breast)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced (I left these out just because we are not fans of mushrooms)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped and juice reserved
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more, to taste

I first rinse the chicken breasts in water, then trip the ugly parts off.

Pat dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

Add chicken breasts and sear on each side. You don't have to cook it all the way through, just give it a nice brown color.

When all the chicken is browned on both sides, about eight minutes - move to a plate to rest.

Slice an onion.

Gather the rest of the ingredients. I used a can of diced tomatoes in place of a can of whole tomatoes that the recipe has you chop.

Slice the red bell pepper into thin strips.

In the same pan that you cooked the chicken, throw in the sliced onions and the red bell peppers. Stir around the veggies to coat them in any leftover oil.

Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Here is what the veggies looked like after five minutes.

Add the garlic.

Stir around.

Now add the wine.

Tell me this isn't the BEST smell in the world. I swear I would dab it behind both ears if I could!

Allow this to cook down by about half.

Next, add the can of tomatoes.

Add the red pepper flakes.

Add the oregano.

Season with pepper.

Season with salt.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

I went off recipe here when I lifted the lid and the tomatoes and veggies were too dry, so I added a little bit of spicy V8 to the pan to juice it up a bit.

Add the chicken back into the pan, scoot it to the bottom and cover with the veggies and sauce.

Cover and cook for 20 more minutes. The chicken will be fully cooked and full of wonderful flavor!

Don't forget to drink some great red wine with this dish.

I usually add more red pepper flakes because I like the sauce spicy. The chicken seriously is super moist since it cooks in the tomato sauce. I usually serve this dish with crusty bread and a bottle of wine. It's all simple and delish. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mexican Wedding Cookies

These Mexican Wedding Cookies require few ingredients and taste so good. Because they are dusted with powdered sugar, they seem to melt in your mouth. I made these for a New Years party because it was a cold day in Austin and they reminded me of snowballs, which some people actually call these cookies.

Recipe by Paula Deen and found on Food

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating baked cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter on low speed.

Add the sugar to the butter and mix until it is smooth.

Beat in the vanilla.

Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Next we gradually add the flour with the mixer on low speed.

Mix in the pecans with a spatula.

With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into balls. Some people shape them into crescents.

Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies.

Place onto a prepared cookie sheet. I placed parchment paper on my cookie sheets.

I made half the recipe with round cookie balls. The other half I flattened with the bottom of a glass.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.

The really don't look that different after they are cooked, they don't brown very much at all. The low temperature and long baking time simply dries them out and makes them super crunchy.

When the cookies are cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioners' sugar. I used a sifter to lightly dust the cookies with sugar.

Dusting worked well for the flat cookies, but it didn't cover the round cookie balls as well so I ended up rolling these around in powdered sugar to get an even coating on all sides. Thanks for another great recipe Paula!