Friday, November 28, 2008

Red Velvet Cake

For as long as I have been cooking, I've always wanted to make a red velvet cake that was actually good! I tried once before...a loooong time ago...but I remember not having enough red dye to make the cake RED velvet.

Well, several weeks ago, I was browsing the food net work site and found a great Red Velvet Cake recipe that I thought would be great to try. I figured if it was on their website, it had to be delicious!Red Velvet Cake As I started making this cake, I had to get my taste tester/helper to run to the store for a few more ingredients :) Thanks hubby! I knew I had not used my little tube of red food coloring that comes in the pack with the four colors, but I also knew that the tube wouldn't be enough for the 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons that the recipe requires. I mean, that's a lot of red dye! Smart guy that he is, he found the bottle of red food coloring that Adam's makes which is large for red food coloring. The big bottle did the trick, and you can see that the batter is REALLY RED! My favorite color :)Red Velvet Cake 2 There was so much batter than what I expected, so the extra batter was made into cupcakes. These were the first out of the even. They look so pretty and RED!Red Velvet Cake 3 Finally I got to frost the cupcakes. I love the way the way finishes off the red! If only I had say..a black dot to put on top?!Red Velvet Cake 4 Red Velvet Cake 5 The cake finally came out of the oven and got a thick bit of frosting as well! We haven't cut into that yet, but I'm sure it's the same as the cupcakes.Red Velvet Cake 6  Oh wow! The inside looks so moist and delicious. I'm curious if it tastes good?Fall 2008 61 I guess so!


For the cupcakes/cake:
15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup water
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound butter, room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the cupcakes/cake:
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.
Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, or prepare cake pan with baking spray, scoop the batter into the liners/pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.
Frost cooled cupcakes/cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sausage and Rigatoni Fake-Bake

Yet another recipe from our new Big Orange Book! I didn't get a picture of this one, but it looks really great. We actually went to Maggiano's Little Italy the night after I made this, and we ordered the exact same thing pretty much. My taste tester says he likes the version I made best. What a great tester!

Sausage and Rigatoni Fake-Bake

1/4 lb. rigatoni or whole grain rigatoni
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 link of sweet Italian sausage
1 link of hot Italian sausage
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water, add the rigatoni, and cook to al dente. Preheat the broiler.

Heat the EVOO in a small or medium ovenproof skillet. Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon as it browns, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two more, then stir in the tomato sauce and cook just to heat through. Fold the basil into the sauce and stir in the cream. Simmer the sauce over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle the pasta with the cheese and place under the broiler until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

I used our iron skillet to make this in, and I actually doubled the recipe. This recipe is created for one person, although it can feed two people as is. When doubling the recipe, it allows you to have leftovers for both people. This is a quick and easy recipe, and it tastes absolutely great! This makes great "guy food." :)

Red and Green Winter Stoup

I'm not really one for soups or stews, but, for some reason, when I saw this recipe, I just had to make it!

I was getting pretty tired of looking through the recipes in the cookbooks I have, so I was begging Henry for a new cookbook. We were going to get the Biggest Loser cookbook, but there just were not enough recipes in that book. It was a pretty cool book though.

Nonetheless, we ended up getting Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book.

I just love that it is chunked FULL of recipes that, for the most part, look really good! We went straight to the store and bought food for the first few recipes, and this stoup was the first thing that I made. This is really good! I did half the recipe though, and there was enough for leftovers the next day for lunch.

You can find the recipe here:

A few notes on the recipe that I can help with follow. Now, I'm sure homemade roasted red peppers would be better for this recipe, but I just buy the jar of roasted red peppers. You can eyeball about how much would equal what you need. Also, we ended up using Parmesan cheese on the bread because we couldn't find the Asiago in the grocery store that day. I know they have it somewhere; perhaps they were out.
Hurry up! Head to the store and get the ingredients. You will love this stoup :)

Italian Sausage Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Cream

Italian Sausage Ravioli? Where do you buy that? Well, to my knowledge, you don't. Thus, I made this ravioli! That's right! I made homemade pasta! It was really fun and an interesting experience. This pasta recipe is from my Pasta cookbook that my parents bought me back in high school; Betty Crocker's A Passion for Pasta.

Fresh Pasta

Prep Time: 30 minutes Roll/Cut: 40 minutes
8 servings

5 large eggs
1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

I'm including the Food Processor Mixing directions, although I used my Stand mixer to make this.
Food Processor Mixing:
Place eggs, oil and salt in food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Add flour. Cover and process about 10 seconds or until dough leaves side of bowl and can be pressed together with fingers. (If dough is too dry, add a few drops of water; cover and process 5 seconds. If dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour; cover and process 5 seconds.) Remove dough and press into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Let stand 10 minutes.

Now for the recipe for the ravioli! This really is an easy recipe, so don't be intimidated. Technically, this recipe calls for Chorizo, but I wasn't able to find it in the grocery store after searching FOREVER! Thus, I chose the alternate for this recipe, which is Italian sausage. IT was great!

Chorizo Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Cream
Prep: 50 minutes Cook: 10 minutes
6 servings

1/2 recipe Fresh Pasta (above)
1/2 lb. bulk chorizo or Italian Sausage
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, undrained
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Prepare dough for Fresh Pasta. Divide into 5 equal pieces; roll each piece as directed on page 261 into 14x14 inch rectangle. Cover rectangles with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Cook sausage in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup grated cheese and the egg, breaking up sausage with spoon.
Spoon sausage mixture by teaspoonfuls into mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart in 2 rows of 6 mounds on one of the rectangles. Moisten dough lightly around mounds with water; top with second rectangle. Press gently around mounds to seal.

Cut between mounds into 12 squares, using pastry cutter or knife. Place on lighltly floured towel; sprinkle lightly with flour. Repeat with remaining sausage mixture and rectangles. (For fifth rectangle, cut crosswise in half. Place 6 mounds of sausage mixture on one half of the rectangle. Moisten dough lightly around mounds with water; top with second half of the rectangle. Press gently around mounds to seal. Continue as directed.) Cover ravioli with plastic wrap until ready to cook.

Heat bell peppers and onion to boiling in 1-quart saucepan; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncoverd about 5 minutes or until mixture is soft. Carefully pour into blender. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth. Pour back into saucepan. Stir in whipping cream, basil and pepper. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until hot; remove from heat and keep warm.

Heat 4 quarts water to boiling in Dutch oven. Add ravioli. Boil uncovered about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until firm but tender. Drain ravioli. Spoon sauce over ravioli. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and the walnuts.

Now, I didn't use a blender to make the sauce because I don't like losing so much as the bottom of the blender. Instead, I used the magic bullet. It's much easier to use for sauces like this. Additionally, because I don't really like them, I left out the walnuts. Otherwise, this is basically what I did to create this recipe! It was extremely yummy!


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