Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wacky Cake

Now I know you were all coming on here, excited to see the muffin melts I showed you last week at the end of the post, but something special happened this week and I just had to celebrate it!

You see, my mom turned 50 this week.  And any birthday to me is an excellent celebration for cake.  Even though we live 18 hours apart I totally made this cake and thought of her.

Then my husband and I ate it all.  Cause it's just the kind of awesome people we are.

Wacky cake.  Not something you generally find in your every day cookbook... but it's super easy and a lot of fun to make!  In fact, it's even easy for the kids!  I bet you even have everything you need to make it in your cupboard right now.  So what are we waiting for?

See?  Simple ingredients that make a delicious moist cake right from scratch.  In fact, this is a 1 pan cake!  No bowl required!  Trust me, it will make you change your mind about making a chocolate box cake from now on.

Now go ahead and get out your favorite 9x9 pan, and don't spray any cooking spray in it.

Dump in 1 and 1/2 cups of flour...

1 cup of sugar...

1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda...

And finally 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, unsweetened.  

And that's it for the dry ingredients!  Now just take a fork or a whisk and mix all of those dry ingredients together.  Make sure there's no little pockets of unmixed ingredients.

Then just kind of shake the pan a little bit to flatten out the top.  

Now comes the fun part!  It even made my husband come over and watch because he was so interested in what came next.  

Go ahead and make 3 holes in your dry ingredients.  You can make them a nice hidden Mickey like I did, or in any pattern you want.  

Now, in the top two holes put in 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  If you have pure vanilla extract that's better... I didn't though and it still tasted fantastic.

The real fun here is watching the vinegar start to foam up and hearing it bubble.  Why?  Because there's baking soda in the dry ingredients!   If you ever had to make a volcano for science class you'll remember that foam well.

Then pour 1/3 of a cup of oil in the last hole.  You'll probably want to make the hole bigger than I did, but if you have a little spillage that's okay.

Now over top of everything pour 1 cup of cold water.  I used water from inside of my fridge, so you know that was cold!

And watch the foamy mess get all over the cake.  I think this was my husband's favorite part!

Now blend all the ingredients until completely combined.  You'll notice the cake batter is bubbling and still sizzling a bit.

It's a cake, it's a science experiment!

Now pop that baby in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the center comes out clean.  I checked it at 25 minutes and the center was still jiggly but 30 minutes did seem to be the magic number.

Now pull it out and let it cool completely.  Which is extremely hard to do.  Because your entire kitchen now smells like chocolate cake.

But what is cake without frosting??  If you want to keep this to a one pan cake and not have to dirty any other bowls you can just use some pre-done vanilla frosting from the store.  

I promise not to tell anyone!

But for me, I really like a good powdered sugar frosting on top... and I didn't have any vanilla frosting in the can.

But this frosting is very easy trust me!

Go ahead and put in your 2 cups of powdered sugar...

Then 2 and a half Tablespoons of softened, not melted, butter.  I just microwaved mine for about 7 seconds in the microwave.

2 Tablespoons of half and half, though heavy whipping cream or whole milk would work just fine here as well.

Finally add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Now with your hand mixer (or if you're one of those lucky people your stand mixer) go ahead and combine everything until it's light and fluffy.  Don't be afraid to add a little more of the half and half to get it to the consistency that you want it!

Now from here, I like to stick it in the fridge until I'm ready for it.  But it's very hard not to stick your finger in and lick it off.

Not that I know from experience or anything.

Once the cake has completely cooled it's time to frost!  The nice part about the frosting we made is that it's the exact right amount for the wacky cake.  

I like to work things out like that sometimes.

Go ahead and plop the frosting onto the cake...

Oh yeah spread that frosting!

Mmm it looks delicious!

Now I let this set for another 30 to 45 minutes at least to let the frosting harden a bit on the top of the cake, but it's not a necessity.

I have to admit though, it's hard not to just dig right in!

Look at those bubble holes!  It's like eating an Aero bar but only in cake form.

God bless wacky cake.

Wacky Cake

1 1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Cocoa
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Cup Cold Water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a 9x9 ungreased baking pan.  Make 3 indentations in the dry ingredients.  In one hole, put vinegar.  In the second hole, put vanilla.  In the third hole, put oil.  Pour water over the top of all ingredients.  Blend thoroughly.  Bake until middle is no longer jiggly and toothpick pulls out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Easy Wacky Cake Frosting

2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons Softened Butter
2 Tablespoons Half and Half (Whipping Cream or Whole Milk)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Combine ingredients and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.

Cake serves 9.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What's New At Love Dishes

So Love Dishes is back! And I have to tell you, I'm extremely excited to be back.  I'm hoping that starting today I will be able to update weekly for you, even if I have to borrow someone else's camera to do it!

But I have so much in store for Love Dishes, it's not even funny.  Everything from breakfasts to desserts and even a few fun drinks!  Okay, the drinks won't be a weekly update, but maybe a special update in between.

And we have all kinds of new additions to the Love Dishes family!  There's our Twitter Account @LoveDishes, our brand new Facebook Fan Page: Love Dishes Facebook, and even our Kickstarter: The Love Dishes Project.

Now I spoke a little bit about The Love Dishes Project at the end of the last post, but I want to take the moment to really explain a little more about what the Kickstarter Project is all about and why Love Dishes so badly needs your support.

The whole reason that Love Dishes went down for the 2 year hiatus was more complicated than just the camera breaking.  There were actually quite a few reasons, least of all being the camera breaking.  That combined with food costs rising and needing to work over 40 hours a week really put a damper on my enthusiasm for the blog.  It's really hard to do a food blog without the money to purchase good quality ingredients and then be able to take pictures of those ingredients!  

Love Dishes however, always remained in my heart.  So while I was on hiatus I began to put together the Love Dishes cookbook.

This basically was starting to take recipes that I had put on the website as well as a few that I had photographed specifically for the cookbook before the camera broke and taking that format that so many people know and love and putting them into a hard cover cookbook.  It began to take shape but I knew there simply weren't enough recipes to fill out the book, so I got to where I could and then was forced to stop.

But if the lack of recipes didn't stop me, the cost of publishing would have.  See, there are a lot of self publishing companies online but they all have one thing in common.  High cost.  To get the cookbook published and distributed the way I wanted it to be, with step by step pictures of each recipe it was going to cost several thousand dollars.  That was just far beyond my reach as a person living paycheck to paycheck!  

Well, someone tipped me off to a new website that was helping people achieve their dreams and finish their projects, Kickstarter.  So I decided to give Love Dishes a try!  Thus, the Love Dishes project was born.

Now, here are the things I know about Kickstarter:
  • If the project is not fully funded, no one is charged and the project is considered failed.
  • No one is charged even if the project is fully funded until the project's end date (in this case August 16th)
  • You can choose rewards given to you by us, here at Love Dishes or no reward.  It's up to you.
It may seem like I'm asking a lot.  $7,000 is quite a chunk of change.  But here's what that money will cover:
  1. The fees for self publishing the Love Dishes cookbook including editing, printing and distribution.
  2. New camera equipment including a new camera, tripod and lightbox to be able to take pictures for both the blog and the cookbook.
  3. Webhosting and domain name for 1 year, moving Love Dishes to it's own dedicated .com
  4. Kitchen supplies needed for cooking such as a bundt pan, apple corer and meat tenderizer.
  5. Rewards given out at the end of the Kickstarter project such as keychains, magnets and even autographed copies of the cookbook.
If you cannot donate, pass the link on.  We're hoping to shout this project from the rooftops in order to get it fully funded by August 16th!  Help the Love Dishes cookbook become a reality!

And just to get you excited... here's a little preview of next week's food post:

Don't even lie you know that looks delicious.  

See you next week!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Southwest Green Chili Burgers and Portabella Fries

Isn't it amazing how quickly time flies?  Yes, here I am back again to teach you how to cook amazing things!  Love Dishes is back baby!

Hopefully for good this time.  

Updates will be sporadic for a while, but at the end of the post here, I'll let you know exactly how you can help us become a regular addition to your weekly blog reading!

In the mean time, why don't I go ahead and teach you how to make a delicious meal... one that I never thought I would like but just the thought of it is making my mouth water and making me seriously consider a trip to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients.  

You see, these pictures were taken about 2 years ago before Love Dishes went on hiatus for the time that it did.  But I never got around to posting them.  In fact, the kitchen you see in these pictures is a kitchen in a house that we aren't even living in any more!  But man, this recipe is one that I could make over and over again no lie.  And I never even thought I liked most of the things that go into it!

So without further ado... Green Chili Burgers and Portabella Fries!

Go ahead and get all your ingredients together like I did here.  Now I do definitely recommend bakery buns for this.  Why?  Well, personally I like the way the bakery buns are airy and squishy.  Definitely not something you can get in a normal hamburger bun.  

The nice part about this recipe is that you can also kind of make it your own.  You can use full fat or low fat ingredients.  We were on a major low fat kick at the time, so I used lean ground beef and low fat cheese.

Let's get the mushroom fries prepped first, since they take the longest time to do!

You're going to want to go ahead and get them out, I use presliced ones just to eliminate that extra step of cutting a full mushroom into pieces.

Then you're going to go ahead and cut off the stems and pieces and try to get as close as you can, that way you're not leaving a ton of good mushroom to waste.

That's going to leave you with just the tops of each mushroom.  And they're pretty thin width wise too but that's okay, that's how we want them!

Go ahead and do that to all of the mushrooms you have and them set them aside for now. 

Now it's time to work on the topping for our burgers!  It needs to sit for a few minutes so definitely go ahead and do this before breading your mushrooms for the oven.  You're going to need your shredded lettuce, the tortilla strips and some ranch dressing.

Go ahead and put your lettuce in a bowl...

Followed by your tortilla strips...

And finally top it all off with the ranch dressing...

And mix it all together until it looks like a weird shredded lettuce salad!  You'll want to stick this in the fridge until it's time to use it though, cause nothing is weirder than wilted lettuce on a burger.

Now, back to our portabella fries!  You're going to take 2 eggs, or do what I do and use egg substitute and place it in a bowl.  And yes, it is okay if you use just the egg whites.  That will definitely be much healthier for you in the long run!

Then mix it up until well combined.  If you're using just the egg whites you'll see it become nice and frothy.

Take some italian seasoned breadcrumbs, or just plain breadcrumbs with some oregano and parsley tossed in there... whatever you have in your cupboard.

Now add some Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs...

And mix the heck out of it until you can't tell what's cheese and what's a bread crumb!

Now go ahead and dip a mushroom in your egg mixture and make sure it gets completely covered in the egg.

Then dip it completely in the bread crumb mixture.  Yes, you will likely get hulk fingers if you don't use two hands like me.  I swear it looked like I was breading my fingers for oven baking by the end!

Then go ahead and place each mushroom on a well sprayed cookie sheet.

Once you have the cookie sheet completely full of breaded mushroom fries, go ahead and drizzle olive oil over all the fries.  That will help both sides to get nice and crisp in the oven!  

After placing the fries in the oven it's time to begin to cook those burgers.  I'm only doing two in the pan since we're not allowed to have a grill on our balcony, but you can either pan fry or grill your burgers.  I recommend pan frying though, simply because of later steps.

Make sure they are nearly done, to how you like your burgers.  I'm a medium rare kind of girl while the husband is much more of a medium well kind of guy.  When making burgers like this we tend to meet in the middle.

Now go ahead and top your burgers with the drained green chiles, seeds and all!

Then place a piece of provolone cheese over top of the burgers, allowing the cheese to melt entirely.

Oh yeah, doesn't that look good??  It looks like melty goodness that's what it looks like.

Now remember that lettuce mixture you stuck in the fridge?  It's time to get it out!  Plop down a generous helping on top of the melty cheese...

Then top it all off with the bun.  Oh my that looks delicious, it makes me want to eat one right now!

Yeah... I can totally still taste the melty, peppery, ranchy goodness of this burger.  It tastes like heaven on a bun!

Go ahead and serve with the Portabella fries, and you've got one delicious southwestern and yet surprisingly healthy meal!  Here's the recipe for you:

Southwest Green Chili Burgers:

1 1/2 lb ground chuck beef
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons canned chopped green chiles, drained
4 slices havarti cheese (about 3 oz)
1 (4.2-oz) Southwest ranch salad kit
1 (8-oz) bag shredded lettuce
4 potato hamburger buns
Preheat grill pan on medium-high (or preheat grill).
Divide meat and form into 4 patties.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Place in grill pan (or on grill); grill 3–4 minutes on each side or until 160°F. During last minute of cook time, top each patty with 1 teaspoon chiles and 1 cheese slice.
Combine salad dressing and chips (from salad kit) with lettuce shreds. Place patties on bottom halves of buns. Top burgers with lettuce mixture and top halves of buns. Serve.

Portabella Fries: 


3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
12 oz sliced portabella mushrooms
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 1/4 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Large zip-top bag, optional
Preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil evenly over baking sheet.
Discard stems and gills (dark brown layers) from mushrooms.
Whisk eggs until frothy; place in shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in large zip-top bag (or shallow bowl).
Place 3–4 mushrooms into eggs, turning to coat both sides. Dip or toss mushrooms with bread crumbs until evenly coated; place in single layer on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mushrooms. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Bake 10 minutes.
Turn mushrooms; bake 5–7 more minutes or until mushrooms are tender and golden. May be served with ranch or your favorite dipping sauce.
Now I bet your wondering about what I spoke of earlier in this post.  In other words, how can you be involved in helping Love Dishes stay around for a long time?
Well, here's the answer.  Kickstarter.  In fact Love Dishes has it's own Kickstarter project going as we speak!  If we are able to get funded Love Dishes will be moving to a new website, with better pictures, weekly updates and best of all it's own cookbook!!  Yes, we are going to be publishing a cookbook!  There's rewards for donations, so go ahead and check it out!

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