Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blueberry Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 - 70 minutes
Cool Time: 60 minutes

Grade: B-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (September 2003)

As I mentioned in my last post, this was part of an experiment to try to similar recipes (one from Cook's Illustrated and one from Everyday Food) and pick the best one. I made these two cakes within one week of each other and was able to really compare.

This was a perfectly fine cake and easier to make. But the CI version of this recipe was truly much better and special. I even added a lemon glaze to the top to try to make sure the playing field was level, but it didn't make up for the difference in the cakes.

If I wanted a simpler blueberry cake recipe, I would go with this Coffee Cake instead which doesn't have lemon, but it very good.

But for a truly great Blueberry Lemon go with the ATK/Cook's Illustrated version. It is worth the extra 20 minutes of work.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 38 minutes
Cook Time: 45 - 70 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2013)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV (Season 14)

Note: The recipe will be available on TV website for free for the next year or so. The episode with the actual video hasn't aired yet, but probably will soon.

I did something I always want to do, but almost never do, and that was try two different recipes for the same thing. I have had in my list a blueberry lemon bundt cake from Everyday Food for years that I've never tried. Recently I found this recipe and I decided to try them both within a week of each other.

This cake was the definite winner. It is definitely more work because you need to make the a jam like filling, and you also need to buy some Sure-Jel. But it is really delicious and the better cake. The lemon flavor is more pronounced and the leftovers kept in the freezer have still been great.

It is also prettier with the marble filling instead of just regular blueberries floating inside.

I made a half recipe which is why I have a large range of cook times. A half bundt cake is usually plenty unless you are serving a huge crowd.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Caramel Cake

Prep Time: 13 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 60+ minutes
Frosting: 22 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (December 2009)

I am not a big cake fan, but this was very, very delicious. The cake was very moist, and the frosting was amazing. Very, very sweet, as frosting often is, but different because it a caramel frosting.

I actually only make a half cake. I did one circle, cut it in half but still make it a layer cake. I ended up frosting the cut half which was hard. And not a good idea, because eating the 2 pieces that were on the end which were frosted on top, middle AND the side was just too much frosting! (Delicious as it was.)

This cake was so rich, even with my half cake, I still gave 2 pieces to my neighbors so I didn't get sick of it. We had it two nights in a row though. I will make this again to serve to a larger group.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2004)

I made this months ago but forgot to put it in the blog. So this is not very timely. Who wants to make soup as summer is just getting started!

This is a pretty simple recipe for Cook's Illustrated standards. It tastes very nice and went over well with my picky eater. I have made this before and I will make it again.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Glazed Meatloaf

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time:  20 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2009)

This meatloaf is good, but I think I like this version of meatloaf better. They both take a similar amount of time to prep and cook, so I'd probably choose the All Beef version. I still always feel like a meatloaf should take very little time to prep, but it always takes at least some time. The beauty of a meatloaf though is that the cooking part is easy and the kitchen is always clean by the time you serve dinner (other than the pan the loaf is on.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Pie Cake

Prep Time: 22 minutes
Bake Time: 70 minutes
Cool Time: 2 hours

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2003)

Note, my prep time is based on making a half recipe and only using 2 pounds of apples. Making a full recipe would take longer since there are more apples to peel and cut.

The half recipe should have used 2.5 lbs of apples, but 2 pounds was plenty. I could barely fit them in my tall 7" springform pan. And the end result still felt heavy on the apples.

This is one of the very first recipes I tried from the first issue of Everyday Food and it made me a fan. It is a fun recipe using the same mixture for the crust and topping and it was very tasty. The only complaint is the apple to crust ratio is a little high.

It is more pie like than a cake, even though it ends up looking like a cake. I will probably make again sometime in the Fall.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 2 hours on low

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Slow Cooker Revolution

This recipe is super simple, and good. The one thing I don't love about the recipe is that it uses Condensed Cheese soup. But they claim it was very helpful in making a recipe that works in the slow cooker. And I can't deny that the end result was creamy and tasted, and overall worked.

Usually when I make a homemade macaroni and cheese, I double the pasta (or halve the sauce recipe) because I usually find the recipes too saucy for me. I didn't want to do that here, because the pasta cooking in the sauce, means it needs all the moisture it can get.

I did however, reduce the amount of cheese just a bit in this recipe. I used 5 oz of montery jack (instead of 8) and 6 oz of Cheddar (instead of 8). That worked perfectly find and things were still quite cheesy. I do think I could increase the pasta a few ounces and it would still work. I would get an extra serving out of it, and cut the heavyness of the recipe just a bit.

This is not quite as wonderful as Classic Macaroni and Cheese but it is still pretty good and easy to make. If you want to have a dish that is prepped earlier and finished 2 hours later, this is a good choice.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Prep Time: 34 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes (microwave)
Slow Cooker: 5 hours on low

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Slow Cooker Revolution book

These were not my favorite meatballs, but they were good. They take about the same amount of work as any meatball, unless I pan fry them (which I rarely do). Pan frying them takes longer. The sauce was delicious, it was the meatballs that didn't wow me. The Meatballs for a Crowd are better.

But it is nice to cook them in the slow cooker. I actually made them in the afternoon and let them cook while I was gone teaching a class all evening. Then we had them the next day for dinner, reheated.

It was a nice way to get dinner done ahead of time.

There is another Slow Cooker Meatball recipe from Cook's country, that is similar but not exactly the same. The main difference is instead of using a panade of bread and milk, they use cream and mozzarella cheese. I'll probably try that one eventually just to compare.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Skillet Chicken Fajitas

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 5 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2012)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV (Season 13)

This was a little bit of work because you have to roast the peppers, but it wasn't too much or too hard.

I had the most trouble with the chicken. The chicken I buy sometimes has huge breasts that are very thick. I did pound them to 1/2" as instructed. But after marinating and putting in the pan, they were 1" at least! So the cooking method of sauteing till blackened on one side (4 minutes) and then finishing in a 200 degree oven didn't work well. I ended up cranking up my oven to 350.

The peppers and onions were good, but I would use less lime next time. Of course the reason I needed to use less lime was because I only used 1/2 the heavy cream that it called for. I didn't want to make the dish too heavy, since the rest of the meal is fairly light.

I did like these and will probably make again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chicken and Slicks

Total Time: 80 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2011)
Recipe Source: Cook's Country TV (Season 5)

I made this a while ago, and didn't keep good notes on the details of how much time this took. I just wrote down 80 minutes. I think that was total time, and was not work time. This is not an overly complicated recipe, actually. The time comes from cooking the chicken, freezing the noodles then cooking them. 

I did the recipe in two steps, made the chicken and noodle dough the night before, then shredded the chicken and cut and cooked noodle the 2nd night. It worked out well. 

The broth and chicken on this was super flavorful and delicious. The noodles were decent as well but a bit too thick for me. The only reason I wouldn't make this again is because if I am making a recipe like this I would probably go for Chicken and Dumplings instead which I like a little more. This is certainly good, but I missed the vegetables, and the noodles were more work than dumplings.