Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘make ahead’

This is hands-down my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s rich and moist and delicious.  Apparently, the cake is better when made the day before (so I’ve always done that).  The chocolate frosting is delicious too (although not pictured below).  This recipe makes two 8 inch round cakes, which you can stack with a layer of frosting in between – or one single layer rectangular cake.  Enjoy!

Mom's Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  4. Set one cake, right-side up, on a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the Chocolate Frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chocolate Frosting recipe also from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)
Servings: Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

The inspiration for this frosting technique comes from dessert maven Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf).

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces slightly, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted.
  2. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the frosting on medium speed, scraping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula, until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Use at once.
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My friend Nicole served this at a baby shower and it was so decadent and delicious.  This is a great dish for a special occasion and it serves a lot of people (I think more than 8 people since it’s rich).  You can make it the day/night before and all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven.

Goat Cheese Strata

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

Makes 8 servings.

ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups 1-inch cubes sourdough bread, crusts trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 12 ounces smoked ham, chopped
  • 3 6 1/2-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, halved lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Parmesan

preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk milk and oil in large bowl. Stir in bread. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in another large bowl to blend. Add goat cheese. Mix herbs in small bowl to blend.

Place half of bread mixture in prepared dish. Top with half of ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, and cheeses. Pour half of cream mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining bread, ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, cheeses, and cream mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Bake uncovered until firm in center and brown around edges, about 1 hour.

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These cupcakes are delicious and because of their all-white coloring and coconut topping (which looks like confetti), they are perfect for a special celebration (birthday party, baby shower, engagement party, Easter, etc.)  They are always a hit.  I did learn a lesson while making these once though.  While making my batter, I was cracking the eggs directly into the bowl, and I got a little shell in there.  For the life of me, I could not fish it out.  I just continued on, forgetting all about it… My husband ended up bringing in some cupcakes to work (so we didn’t end up eating all of them ourselves) and later that day, his future boss appeared at his door.  He said he really enjoyed the taste of the cupcakes, but next time would prefer them with no egg shell.  I was pretty mortified when this got relayed to me!  Ever since then, I’ve taken the time to crack my eggs into their own little bowl before adding them to my mixture!

Note: if you don’t like the taste of almond extract (I don’t), you can substitute with more vanilla extract.

Coconut Cupcake

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

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I am obsessed with this salad dressing.  My whole family is.  Once you get all of the ingredients, it’s not hard to make and it keeps in the fridge for a week.  We love it on top of mixed greens and my boys love it as a dipping sauce for raw veggies (peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocados).  I’ve even tossed it into some leftover quinoa.  It’s good on everything!  This was the first recipe I tried from Gwyneth’s cookbook “It’s All Good” and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good“.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons light raw honey or xylitol (I just used regular honey)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Purée everything together in a powerful blender until absolutely smooth.

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This is a different take on carrots as your vegetable!  Very colorful and delicious with Asian flavors and can be made ahead!

Carrots with Black Sesame & Ginger

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Carrots with Black Sesame + Ginger

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger

4 large carrots cut into matchsticks (about 4 cups)

Coarse sea salt

A couple of drops of hot toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari

1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set over high heat.  Add the ginger and cook, stirring it into the oil, until it becomes fragrant, just 30 seconds or so.  Add the carrots and stir to combine them with the gingery oil.  Add a big pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of water and turn the heat down to medium-high.  Cook until the carrots just begin to soften and the water evaporates, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds and serve.

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This is one of my favorite Ina Garten recipes (and that’s saying a lot!)  It’s so versatile – you can serve to kids for a casual, weeknight dinner or with a fancier meal if you are entertaining.  You can also make them ahead and reheat them in the oven if you need to.  I don’t know about you, but our family can’t get enough of sweet potatoes, so this is a fun way to mix it up.  Note: I slice my sweet potatoes a little thinner than Ina and I always double the recipe!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt (if needed) and serve hot.

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