Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fudgy Texas Sheet Cake

I've made a lot of texas sheet cakes, and this is, most definitely, my best one yet. It's the perfect sort of dessert to bring along to your next bbq. Especially if there's vanilla ice cream involved.

Fudgy Texas Sheet Cake

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. white sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sour cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa powder

8 T. butter (one stick)
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa powder
1 T. corn syrup
3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
1 c. toasted pecans, chopped (don't skip toasting them! they're so much better this way)

For the Cake:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolks, vanilla and sour cream until smooth.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate, butter, oil, cocoa, and water in a large, stirring occasionally until smooth, 3-5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture just until incorporated. Whisk the egg mixture into the batter, then pour into the baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack. *Be sure all of your icing ingredients are measured out so you'll be ready to pour the cooked icing over the hot cake*

For the Icing:
3. About 5 minutes before the cake is done, heat the butter, cream, cocoa, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Off the heat, whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the warm icing evenly over the hot cake and sprinkle with the pecans. Let the cake cool for about an hour, then refrigerate until the icing is set, about one more hour.  This cake is even better the 2nd day so do yourself a favor and bake it ahead of time and stash it away in the fridge (tightly covered). Be sure to let it come to room temp before serving.

Serves 16, at least

recipe source: Cook's Country

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eat to Defeat Cancer

A few months back I heard a TED talk given by Dr. William Li that completely captured my attention. It's titled "Can We Eat To Starve Cancer?", and in it he says this:

"The obvious thing is to think about what we could remove from our diet. But I took a completely opposite approach and began asking: What could we be adding to our diet that could boost the body’s defense system? In other words, can we eat to starve cancer?”

I love the idea of turning the focus from the negativity of what we shouldn't be eating (processed food! dairy! red meat! GMOs!) to a more proactive approach of what we should be eating. It's amazing, just with that simple shift in thinking, what's been making its way into the kitchen and onto our table. Listen for yourself and see what you think. For Dr. Li's complete list of Eat to Defeat Cancer foods click here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pasta with Summer Veggies

I've spent a lot of time this year rethinking the way I feed my family. Mealtime can be hard. While Sam will eat absolutely anything I put in front of him, and at least pretend to enjoy it, Jack is a different story. We now have this little person with very big opinions joining us for dinner every night. And while sometimes this can be incredibly joyous, like the other night when he took a bite of chocolate pecan pie and said "ooo, that's good pie mama", other times...not so much. Finding healthy, family friendly dinner ideas has been my mission. In the past, I hated making the same thing twice since I have so many recipes to try and love discovering new things. This would drive Sam nuts. If he loved something he had no idea if and when he'd ever see it again, and now with Jack it's downright impossible. I'm finally succumbing to the rotation. Not necessarily a weekly rotation. Maybe a bi or tri-weekly set of recipes that can be changed up seasonally, with one night a week *or so* worked in to try something new. The recipe below for Pasta with Summer Veggies will definitely be added. I actually shocked Sam and made it more than once when we were living in New York. Now that we're home, and can pick most of the veggies and herbs from our garden out back it tastes even better.

Pasta with Summer Veggies


4 ounces uncooked ziti or other small pasta shape (I use large elbows or wagon wheels) 
1 tablespoon olive oil  
2 cups chopped yellow squash, diced small
1 cup chopped zucchini, diced small
1/2 cup chopped onion, diced small
2 cups chopped tomato, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano 
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided 
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese 
1 large egg, lightly beaten  


1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion and sauté  for 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, the herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and the egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Coat an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray and dump in your pasta mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

small dice veggies

recipe source: Cooking Light