While The Cat's Away…

Hey friends!

Just a reminder that Edwin is going on vacation! He’ll be back towards the end of next week.

Until then, it’s just you and me! The posting schedule may look a little different than usual, but Edwin will be posting photos and updates from his journey as possible.

With Edwin mostly out of the picture (mwhahaha!), let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to explore or cover this week. Maybe we could do something that Edwin would freak out about if he was here… like talk about Paula Deen’s recipe for Fried Cheesecake (can you feel your heart clogging yet?).

Actually, on a much healthier note, I recently found a link for easy, gluten free, vegan, dairy free, sugar free ice cream. Seriously – and the secret ingredient isn’t tofu!

The link pulled me in with the title, “How To Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient.” Apparently the secret ingredient is banana – peeling and freezing a banana and then whirring it in the food processor can give you a rich and creamy ice cream-like texture. The article also suggests experimenting with an extra ingredient or two… like peanut butter.

Have you guys heard of this before? It sounds pretty awesome. Why don’t we give it a try? Meet you back here tomorrow!

An Important Announcement!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for an important announcement!

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The photo above is of me (Heather) and my husband (Morgan). Morgan doesn’t blog here on DinnerCakes, though I do frequently mention him. My co-blogger Edwin (whose birthday it was last week!) and I are just chums.

Click here to read more about Edwin and myself and how we know each other.

Emptyin' Out The Fridge – "Leftover" Pita Pizza

Next week is going to be pretty exciting for me. On Monday I leave for California to begin a road trip through some of southwest US with a friend from college. This trip has gone through many (many) changes since its original inception back in June and, quite frankly, I’m very glad it still happening. We’re going with the flow, but our plan is to hit San Diego, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Vegas!

Leftovers for a Pita Pizza

I’ve been trying to go through any leftovers I may have, as I’ll be emptying out the fridge before I take off. Soups are my usual method of disposing of extras. Just throw whatever veggies you have on hand with some mire poix, stock, a few spices and you’re bound to come up with something tasty. It’s hard to make a ‘bad’ soup, if you ask me; something you disdain putting in your mouth. My appetite was craving something more substantial, however, and I ended up in the delicious territory of pizza land. I don’t even remember the last time I HAD pizza.

Pita Pizzas Ready For The Oven

Treat this as more of a guideline or inspiration rather than a recipe. This is nothing more than the union of my personal taste with what I had available. Feel free to go nuts (I’ve never had corn on my pizza before). Pitta, muffin, real dough…. whatever tickles your fancy. Be sure to comment on where your creativity takes you.

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Oh, and if any of you have suggestions on where to eat where we’re headed, throw em my way. ;)

“Leftover” Pita Pizzas
If you have a broiler, toast the bottoms of your pitas for a few minutes to give it a more close-to-the-original taste. I went with a frying pan (no oil), with moderately satisfactory results. Consider this an optional chip.

4 pita breads; cut in half
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces mozzarella
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper; sliced
1/2 red onion; chopped
1/4 red bell pepper; chopped
handful grape tomatoes; sliced
a few pinches of oregano
a few pinches of basil

Move a rack to one of the bottom levels and preheat the oven to 400.

Spread several spoonfuls of tomato sauce (your own or from a jar) on each pita, leaving a half an inch for the crust. Add about half the cheese to your pitas then sprinkle with your vegetables. Follow with the remaining cheese and your herbs.

Bake your pizzas for 8-10 minutes, until cheese has melted. Let cool briefly and enjoy.

Food Photography – Blueberry Pie!

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Pictured: Blueberry pie that I made for my husband’s birthday last month. Blueberry filling from Simply Recipes and lattice crust from The Art and Soul of Baking.

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As Heather mentioned, this weekend was my birthday and I had a blast. Some friends and I went out to Coopers Rock, West Virginia for some camping and climbing. I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a cake on their birthday, but after Saturday I may have to amend that to cakes and smores. Mmm…

Lychee Puree

I finally got a chance to make something with the lychee my sister gave me as a gift, and after a weekend of eating from bags (I swear, I eat worse camping than I do at home) I opted to go the healthy route with a salad. I posted a somewhat similar recipe not too long ago using apples and lemon as the dominant flavors, but went much more mild this time around. Lychee’s creamy flavor is soft and subtle so this won’t hit you like a punch, but still good for something different.

Baby Spinach Salad with Lychee Vinaigrette

Baby Spinach Salad with Lychee Vinaigrette

4 ounces lychee; peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons white whine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces spinach; roughly chopped
8 ounces mandarin oranges
2 bartlet pears; chopped
1 carrot; grated

Blend the lychees and strain. Mix the juice, vinegar and olive oil to form your vinaigrette. This is pretty thin, so feel free to add more oil if you want it thicker. Toss your spinach and fruit together then add the vinaigrette. Enjoy.

Mini Lemon Pound Cakes

The first thing I tried baking in my new place was, one of my favorites, pound cake.

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I’ve tried a number of different pound cake recipes in search of a favorite – CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch, Martha Stewart, William Sonoma and Food Network. But I think the best recipe I’ve tried so far is from Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking (the last time I made it was for my Red, White and Blueberry Trifle on July fourth).

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So when testing the oven I wanted to make something that I’ve made before and that I know is great, but I wanted to experiment with the flavor a little. I’m not a lemon person (I can’t stand strong lemon tasting desserts), but I’ve had some excellent lemon pound cakes before – just a little hint of it can be extraordinary. After some tinkering, this method gave me just the right amount of lemon.

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I poured my batter into a mini bundt pan (it was actually a mini pumpkin pan from Williams-Sonoma, but it’s basically the same as a mini bundt pan), and I baked it for about 18 minutes at 350 F. Be careful and watch the timing – the cakes will dry out more quickly when cooked in minis instead of in a loaf pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and the top should be firm to the touch, but the cakes will still be very blonde instead of golden.

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If you don’t have the Art and Soul of Baking (please buy it!), you can find the complete recipe on TheCityCook.com. Instead of 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, use 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla and 1/2 tablespoon of pure lemon extract (still use the vanilla bean pod, though). Leave the other ingredients unchanged. When the pound cakes are baked, poke multiple holes in the cakes and, using a cooking brush, brush cakes lightly with additional drops of lemon extract. Check it out!

Happy Birthday, Chef Edwin!

Woop woop! Today is Edwin’s Birthday!

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Please join me in wishing our favorite flexitarian a great day?

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Chef Edwiiiiiiiin,
Happy Birthday to you!

You know what I hate? Going through the entire baking process, whether it be a cake, muffin, etc only to pull it out of the oven, let it cool and then attempt to separate it from its baking pan, only to have it stick and tear instead. RAGE!

I hate it so much that I use to practically immerse my pans in non-stick spray (dripping from the pan), then powder with flour. The problem with flour, however, is that it clumps very easily and can be quite difficult to properly distribute across the entire pan; even if your sifting. That’s why I switched to sugar. Sugar does not clump and is much easier to properly distribute. Now the health nuts out there may be concerned with adding more sugar to their dish, but you shouldn’t need much.

Give it a shot and see if you like it.

Chicken with Pineapple Relish

The nursing program I’m starting next week assigned My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult as a summer reading book for all the incoming students (on that note – I was pleasantly surprised in the beginning; it wasn’t the book I thought it would be. But a twist ending left me aggravated). While about to purchase it at the bookstore I noticed the usual bargain book display in the checkout line, and a few interesting looking cookbooks caught my eye.

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For only about $8 I picked up Anheuser-Busch’s Great Food Great Beer cookbook. The book emphasizes beer pairings with food, but really it provides an assortment of simple and tasty looking meals that my husband or I could put together quickly on a weeknight – and as you know, that’s what DinnerCakes is all about!

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This recipe is adapted from a recipe for chicken thighs, because we never really buy or eat thighs. It doesn’t require much prep or cook time, but it does require a little time to marinate the chicken. I didn’t marinate mine quite long enough, so my chicken could have been a little more soy/satay glazed and less pineapple. I probably like the Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry I made last month more, but this was definitely good too. This recipe would also work well with shrimp instead of chicken (or, hey, in addition to it).

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Chicken with Pineapple Relish
adapted from Great Food Great Beer

Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweetened lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Relish
1 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of red pepper flakes

In a shallow dish combine marinade ingredients and stir. Cut chicken breast into one inch pieces and add to dish to coat with marinade. Cover and leave in fridge for at least 15 minutes, but up to four hours.

While chicken marinates, set a medium size pot to medium high heat and combine all relish ingredients (add pineapple juice as well, do not drain). Stir occasionally.

Stir fry chicken pieces or cook on grill pan until white throughout (be careful not to overcook your chicken). Serve with relish over couscous or rice.

Food Photograhy – Some Exotic Fruit!

It’s my birthday this weekend (oooooold) and as a gift, my sister sent me some fruit I had never heard of before: lychee. It’s an asian fruit with a thin rough shell that holds a white, jelly like pulp. To me, it tastes creamy; almost like coconut.

lychee

Asking around, the most popular way to eat it is just raw after peeling away the shell. I’ve done this with a few, and it’s good, but I really want to try an actual dish with them. After doing a bit of digging through my cookbooks, I’ve decided to try either a custard or a pudding with them (maybe both). Of course, I had never done a custard before so I thought it best to try that first.

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With any luck, I’ll have some delicious results this weekend!