Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Pork Chops with Apple-Maple Glaze was another awesome find from my grilling weekend with my mom. I love, love, love pork chops on the grill. They’re so good with nothing more than salt and pepper, but this version adds a bit of sweet. I’m sure you’ve heard of, if not tasted, several dishes where apple and pork are paired together. Pork goes so well with sweet and the bit of maple is a nice touch to round out the trio.
So, how’s it taste?
First, please excuse this horrid picture. It’s from my phone and I only snapped this one pic because I was practically drooling once these chops came off the grill. Look at how juicy they are! Bone-in is definitely the way to go when grilling pork chops. I believe they make them juicier and tastier. These chops were so tender and I liked the bit of garlic in the background from the garlic pepper blend. I thought these pork chops might be a bit too sweet, but they weren’t. Actually I wish we had saved some of the glaze and used it to drizzle over the finished pork chop. They were very good with just the glaze from grilling, but I really wanted to taste a punch of apple and maple. I’m a big fan of condiments, so having extra glaze to dip my pork chop in would have been perfect!
Pork Chops with Apple-Maple Glaze
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup apple butter
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
4 pork bone-in loin chops, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of fat
1/2 tsp. garlic pepper blend
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. In 1-quart saucepan, mix maple syrup, apple butter, and mustard. Cook over low heat about 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until well blended.
2. Sprinkle pork chops with garlic pepper and salt. Place pork on grill. Brush with maple mixture. Cover and grill over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, turning and brushing with maple mixture 2 or 3 times, until no longer pink when cut near bone. Discard any remaining maple mixture.
Monday, August 13, 2012
A few weekends ago, I headed to my mom’s house for a weekend of school shopping (yes, yours truly is going back to college for another degree!) and of course, tasty food. Usually I’m the one doing the cooking, but if it’s time to fire up the grill, I leave that to the expert…my mom. As much as I enjoy cooking, it was kind of nice to sit back and let someone else have the spotlight. I brought a few grilling cookbooks and we made several goodies that weekend. Corn on the Cob with Taco Butter may sound simple, but we raved about it with every bite.
So, how’s it taste?
Fresh corn is worth the minimal effort to deal with removing silks. I’m not sure what happens on the grill, but it’s magic. Drenched in butter, seasonings, and fresh cilantro, this was sure to be a hit. I’ve eaten my fair share of corn on the cob with butter, so I was looking forward to that extra zing from the taco seasoning. Honestly, I couldn’t taste that or the cilantro very much. It made for pretty ears of corn with the orange butter and flecks of green, but it didn’t pack that taco punch I was expecting. Still amazingly delicious though. Fresh, grilled corn is really underrated. I’ve always enjoyed it, but never really realized just how good those sweet kernels can be. The original recipe called for low-sodium taco seasoning, but I had to add salt to my corn, so I’d recommend using the regular seasoning. I’d give this another try and up the seasoning ratio to see if I can get more flavor. I’m sure most of it gets wasted on the grill, so I might even try mixing the seasoning into softened butter and spreading it on the corn after it’s finished grilling. Highly recommend this for your next grilling side.
Corn on the Cob with Taco Butter
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. taco seasoning mix (from 1 1/4-oz. pkg.)
6 ears fresh corn, husks removed, cleaned and dried
1. Heat grill. In small bowl, combine melted butter, cilantro, and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Brush each ear of corn with butter mixture.
2. When ready to grill, place corn on gas grill over medium heat or on charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from medium-high coals. Cook 15 to 18 minutes or until tender, turning and brushing frequently with butter mixture.
Friday, August 10, 2012
This Sausage Alfredo French Bread Pizza always makes me chuckle when I make it. I first made it when I lived in Birmingham with my friend Courtney. It was so good, that every time she saw the ingredients in the fridge and pantry, that was what we were having for dinner. No question about it. I still think of her every time I make this and grin. I was also living with Courtney when my mom bought me that first cookbook magazine that started this whole obsession/love of food. Who knew that was the start of something and I’d be blogging about that pizza years later?!
So, how’s it taste?
Speaking of my mom, she greatly approves of this pizza. I told her I had recently made it and her reaction was “ooo ooo!” This is significant because my mom doesn’t like just any pizza. She doesn’t do pineapple or bbq chicken or any of that kind of stuff. That ain’t real pizza to her. So if she ooh’s and aah’s over this Alfredo version…then you know it’s lip-smacking good and worth a spot on your menu planner. There’s not a tomato in sight. This isn’t classic pizza. But I can tell you Alfredo sauce does an excellent job of making you forget all about those tomatoes. The Italian sausage is the stand out, so buy the good stuff. Get hot if that’s your thing. I use canned mushrooms in this recipe. I can’t explain it, but I like them better than fresh for some reason. You can use fresh if you like, of course. I love how easy this comes together in a skillet and then pop it in the broiler and call it dinner. I like when the mozzarella gets those crispy spots on top. Creamy, gooey, crispy, this pizza is fantastic.
What recipe have you made for years that brings back fond memories?
Sausage Alfredo French Bread Pizza
1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or mild
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
8 oz. mushroom stems & pieces, drained
15 oz. Alfredo sauce (I prefer Bertolli)
1 (12 in.) loaf French bread, cut horizontally in half
4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1. Set oven to broil.
2. Cook sausage and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir in mushrooms and Alfredo sauce.
3. Cut each half of French bread so it makes 3 pieces, for a total of 6 pieces. Place bread, cut sides up, on ungreased cookie sheet. Spread each piece with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil with tops 5 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until pizzas are hot and cheese begins to brown.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Happy Blogiversary to So, How’s It Taste! Can you believe it’s been three years? THREE years since my first post. I almost don’t believe it. Looking back at my first and second year blogiversaries, I detect a chocolate theme. This should come as no surprise to any of my readers. I love chocolate! Last year I celebrated with Dark Chocolate Souffles that were figure-friendly. Um, so not the case this year. I’ve done a complete 180 and will celebrate the big 3 with Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Pie. I’m pretty sure these aren’t anywhere close to being kind to your waistline!
So, how’s it taste?
Pretty freakin’ fantastic! What’s not to love? A creamy, tart, sweet slice of key lime pie surrounded in chocolate. You may think citrus and chocolate is an odd combination, but trust me on this one. This particular Key Lime Pie recipe is perfect for freezing and covering in chocolate. It doesn’t get rock hard when it’s frozen, so once you crack through that layer of chocolate, your teeth just sink into creamy lime goodness. I covered some slices in semi-sweet chocolate and some in dark chocolate. I don’t know which I liked best, they were both really good.
I think the slices are quite huge, so find a buddy to share with you. The pie is pretty rich on its own, so covered in chocolate would put even a chocoholic like me in a serious sugar coma. I think slicing the pie into 16 slices would have been more practical. Instead of dipping the slices into chocolate, I chose to “frost” them with chocolate. Dipping would require melting way too much chocolate and probably wasting it, too, and I don’t waste chocolate in my house. Holding the slice by the popsicle stick made it easy to frost it with an offset spatula. I figured out about 1/2 cup of morsels will frost one slice of this size.
Since the slices are so big, a great way to serve this is to cut the slices into almost bite-sized chunks. I put the chunks in cupcake liners and took them to work that way. Perfect for everyone to have a piece or two!
I want to say thank you to everyone that reads this little ol’ blog of mine. It started out as nothing special and has grown into something I’m extremely proud of. It’s cool to have an archive of all my posts and see how I’ve grown throughout the years. Not to mention the great friends and people I’ve met and keep meeting along the way thanks to our mutual love of food. Your support means the world and encourages me to continue to share my eating adventures in and out of the kitchen…and of course to answer the question “so, how’s it taste?”
Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Pie
1 recipe Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust
8 popsicle sticks
4 cups chocolate morsels (semi-sweet, dark, or milk chocolate)
1. Prepare Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust and let set in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Slice pie into 8 equal portions. Pretzel crust may be a little crumbly and some may come off, but that's ok.
3. Place slices onto a sheet lined with parchment paper and gently push in a popsicle stick about halfway. Leave some space on the sheet in between slices. Freeze for about 6 hours.
4. For covering each slice with chocolate, it's best to work in batches of two slices at a time. Microwave 1 cup of morsels for 30 seconds on high. Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds. Microwave in 15-second intervals if the morsels aren't completely melted. Using a small offset spatula, spread the melted morsels all around the pie slice, holding the stick for support. When the entire slice is covered, place it back on the sheet with parchment paper and return to the freezer. Continue with the remaining slices.
5. Place one square of almond bark in a plastic sandwich bag. Microwave in 30-second intervals, kneading the bag in between until the almond bark is smooth. Snip the corner of the bag with scissors and pipe onto chocolate-covered pie slices. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
This recipe for Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust brings back so many memories for me. I first made it in my tiny, one bedroom apartment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that had an even tinier kitchen. Zero counter space, but it was the first time I had a place all by myself and I loved it. It was also a few months after the cooking bug hit me and I was baking and cooking and having all kinds of kitchen adventures in that little space. I made this pie several times that Spring. It’s got a crunchy pretzel crust for something a little different.
So, how’s it taste?
Obviously I like it or I wouldn’t have made it so much! It’s so smooth and creamy, and very rich. You absolutely need a food processor for this. Using a stand mixer doesn’t get it quite as smooth and it might be a little lumpy. I like this pie because it’s only a few ingredients and there’s no eggs. It’s basically lime cream cheese and condensed milk in a pretzel crust, but there’s not much I wouldn’t do for cream cheese. This pie is perfectly tart, but it’s got enough sweet in it to balance that out. The pretzel crust is great. I really like the contrast of the salty pretzels with the sweet pie filling. I leave a few pretzels in chunks because I like that texture, but it does make the crust a little crumbly. You could certainly process the pretzels a bit more and get them to a finer crumb. If the pretzel crust isn’t your thing, a traditional graham cracker crust works well or try a chocolate cookie crust!
I’ve made this pie using reduced fat and fat-free cream cheese. Reduced fat was ok, fat-free was gross. But if you’re going to have pie, then have pie and go for the full fat version! You can also serve this pie frozen if you like. It’s still a creamy texture and won’t get rock hard.
Psst! Something special is happening in a few days on my blog. Stay tuned to find out how this pie is involved!
Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust
1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 (8 oz. each) packages cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. grated lime peel
1/2 cup lime juice (about 3-4 limes)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1. For the crust, mix all the crust ingredients. Press mixture firmly against bottom and side of pie plate. Refrigerate until firm.
2. For the pie filling, place all filling ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into crust.
3. Cover and refrigerate until set.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Today my dear friend Carol is getting married to Michael! While I couldn’t be with them all the way down in Key Largo, a little piece of me is. If you remember, I made these Boot & Guitar Sugar Cookies as part of a welcome to Nashville party for Carol early last year. I was thrilled when she requested these cookies to be part of her thank you goodies for her wedding guests. Sticking with the beach theme, I decided on these cute Starfish cookies and thought the little, square Initial cookies would be perfect. The idea to put the two together came from Glorious Treats. She even shows you step by step how to decorate the starfish cookies!
So, how’s it taste?
I used my go-to recipe for Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies. They taste so good, you don’t even need the icing, but of course that makes them even better! I used a Linzer cookie cutter for the square cookies so I could get that pretty scalloped edge. The starfish worked well except they were very fragile out of the oven. I broke at least four of them (more scraps for me to eat!), but once the icing was on top, they were much more sturdier. So if you plan to create the starfish, make sure to make a few extra than what you need. My picture is a little too light above, so you can’t see the color detail in the starfish very well. The green is actually much darker and a few of the “dots” are white to really make it stand out. You can see this detail better on the Glorious Treats web site. She used sugar pearls for the big dots, but I think it’s much easier to pipe all the dots with royal icing. Carol spent the weekend with me a few weeks ago and we put the final touches on the starfish. I’d say she’s an excellent royal icing dotter! The starfish really came together once all the dots were in place. I thought they were perfect for a beach wedding treat!
The packaging turned out beautiful! Carol created the sticker from Vistaprint and I was so touched she included that they were made by me! Her wedding colors were fern green and brown and we found the perfect brown ribbon with a stitch of green going down the middle. I can’t wait to hear how her guests enjoyed the cookies!
Congratulations Carol & Mike!
Starfish & Initial Sugar Cookies
Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
1. For the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.
3. The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.
4. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4" thick sheet, and cut into desired shapes. Place shapes on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets. Place entire baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes (this step is important in helping the cookies keep their shapes nice and clean). Remove and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are just barely starting to turn golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely prior to decorating.
5. For the royal icing: Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
6. Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.
7. Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in downtown Nashville. If I did, I’d walk to Mike’s Ice Cream every single day. Nestled in between the touristy sites and sounds of Broadway is this tiny ice cream shop and it’s heaven. They’ve got a bazillion different flavors of ice cream that you can eat in a cup, in a cone, or turn into a sundae or milkshake. Every time I walk in to Mike’s, I feel like a kid that’s about to go buckwild over ice cream.
So, how’s it taste?
On my first visit I tried the Key Lime Pie ice cream. It was awesome! It tasted just like the pie and even had bits of graham cracker. Not too sweet and not too tart.
I also had a Vanilla Egg Cream. I got turned onto egg creams on a visit to New York City and I’ve been into them ever since. This one lives up to it’s northern counterpart. For those of you that have never had one, there’s no egg involved so go ahead and try one!
On a more recent trip I enjoyed a scoop of the Tennessee Fudge. It’s amazing. Seriously tasty and I could not stop talking about it. It’s like chocolate chip ice cream but it’s bits of fudge instead of chips. You might get lucky and get a big chunk or two of the fudge like I did! It’s rich, but nothing would stop me from enjoying it and I wish I had gotten a second scoop!
My friend Carol opted for a good ol’ fashioned Chocolate Milkshake. I snagged a taste and it’s pretty high on my best milkshakes scale. I went nuts over the chocolate milkshake from Diana’s Sweet Shoppe, which is right down the road from Mike’s, but I can tell you this one from Mike’s is equally as good. It’s thick and creamy, but super chocolatey. I’m getting this next time I visit Mike’s!
Mike’s Ice Cream
Nashville, TN 37201
Monday, July 30, 2012
Oh pasta, I love it so much. I gravitate towards pasta dishes. I think I could eat it once a day and be perfectly happy. I don’t know if it’s all those yummy carbs or the different sauces. I also seem to really luck out in the pasta arena when it comes to lower calorie versions. Sure, you can really blow your calories out of the water with some pasta dishes (I’m looking at you carbonara!), but I’m learning it’s pretty easy to enjoy pasta while watching your waistline. Even though I bookmarked this Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce, I didn’t think much about it. The ingredients are quite simple and other than the cream cheese, it wasn’t that intriguing. That all changed with bite one.
So, how’s it taste?
So stinkin’ good! I really thought it would be nothing special, but wowza was I wrong! That little bit of cream cheese just makes the sauce. I love cream sauces. Love, love, love them. The cream with the crushed tomatoes is really quite decadent. The leaves of basil give that familiar flavor, but the olives bring a nice surprise. Tangy and salty, they cut through the cream. There’s a bit of heat in the background from the red pepper, but it’s not too spicy. If you want more spice, feel free to add more. It was just enough with the red pepper, olives, tomatoes, and cheese to remind me of pizza! Leftovers were just as tasty. I splashed a bit of milk into my serving before reheating it and it returned to its normal creamy self.
I like a thick cream sauce, so I opted to only use one cup of the reserved pasta water. I drained my tomatoes, but after crushing them by hand I had a bit of tomato juice. I added that juice and reducing the pasta water produced the perfect consistency for me. I think the 1/3 cup more would be ok, but I’d recommend adding it in increments until you get the consistency you like. The pasta will continue to soak up the liquid as it cools, so the full amount shouldn’t make a runny sauce.
Will definitely be making this dish again soon!
Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce
8 oz. uncooked fettuccine
4 quarts boiling water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed
3 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
1/2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or shredded
1. Cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water with 1/4 teaspoon salt for 8 minutes or until noodles are almost al dente. Drain pasta through a sieve over a bowl; reserve 1 1/3 cups pasta cooking water.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until very fragrant and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved 1 1/3 cups pasta water (I used 1 cup); bring to a boil. Add cream cheese; stir until smooth. Add pasta, olives, and red pepper; cook 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, tossing to coat. Divide pasta mixture among 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil. Divide Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly among servings.
Friday, July 27, 2012
I’m so excited to share this recipe for Steak House Side Mac & Cheese with you. I’ve made it twice already because I enjoyed it so much. It’s an interesting concept. Take macaroni and cheese, add in all the ingredients you’d normally find as a side in a steak house, and ta da! New twist on a classic. It’s got bacon, blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach to mimic creamed spinach. How could I not give this a try? Plus you know how I feel about bacon and when that’s involved and it’s still a low calorie dish…where do I sign?!
So, how’s it taste?
You know I’m really digging a dish when I make it back to back. That’s how this macaroni and cheese was for me. This isn’t going to be like the classic stuff that’s ooey and gooey with cheese dripping off your fork. If you’re expecting that, you’ll be disappointed. This is a different kind of mac & cheese. Even though the entire dish has only three slices of bacon, it’s super bacony. The mushrooms are cooked in the bacon drippings, so even though it’s low calorie, you’re getting some good stuff. I’m a big fan of blue cheese, so with the bacon and the mushrooms and the spinach I just loved it! It’s only four ounces of cheese in the entire batch, but the blue cheese is so strong that it works. It truly is quite decadent and I almost don’t believe it’s low calorie.
The recipe calls for reserving two tablespoons of the bacon grease, but I found my first batch was too greasy, so I only used one tablespoon in the second batch and that worked much better. I had a hard time finding 10 ounces of mushrooms and 10 ounces of spinach, so my first batch (in the picture) is a little skimpy in that area. For my second batch, I used 12 ounces of mushrooms and 12 ounces of spinach since that is how my grocery sells it. Increasing the amounts slightly didn’t change the dish. I liked it better actually with more bulk and those two ingredients don’t up the calorie count much. I skipped oiling the glass dish and used cooking spray and only used two teaspoons of the oil for the topping. Both turned out fine and reduces the calories as well.
I did learn that baby bella mushrooms work best over white button mushrooms. My first batch had baby bellas and they have so much more flavor and hold up better to sauteing. I also found that white button mushrooms have a ton of moisture in them, so when my mushrooms cooked down, there was a lot of liquid in my pan and my second batch was slightly too runny. The first batch was slightly too dry, but I didn’t add as much of the extra cooking liquid from the pasta as I should have. The second batch had the liquid from the mushrooms plus I added the extra cooking liquid. My advice is to not use the white button mushrooms and add the extra cooking liquid in increments. You should have a bit of liquid when you pour the mixture in the dish, but not enough that you could spoon out.
The last adjustment I made was to increase the parsley. I love fresh parsley so I ended up topping both batches with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of it instead of two tablespoons. Give this dish a try if you’re a steak house fan. You won’t regret it, although I can’t promise you won’t be craving a steak with it!
Steak House Side Mac & Cheese
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 tsp. salt
8 oz. uncooked whole-wheat or regular macaroni
3 bacon slices
10 oz. mushrooms, quartered
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup whole-wheat or regular panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Coat 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish (I used a 9x13) with 1 teaspoon oil (I used cooking spray instead). Set aside.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil; add salt and pasta. Cook for 6 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl; reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.
4. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in pan (I found reserving 1 tablespoon works better - less greasy); crumble bacon. Add mushrooms to drippings in pan; cook for 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add pepper, garlic, and spinach (in batches); cook 3 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing occasionally.
5. Combine yogurt and cheese in a large bowl, stirring until almost smooth. Add pasta and mushroom mixture; toss to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid (or more if mixture looks dry). Spoon pasta mixture into prepared dish. Combine crumbled bacon, panko, and parsley. Drizzle with remaining 3 teaspoons oil (I used 2 teaspoons); toss to combine. Sprinkle evenly over top of pasta. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Well, here’s another one for my Oops! category. So bummed. This Double Cherry Upside Down Cake looked amazing in Cooking Light. I couldn’t wait to bake it. Plus the kind folks over at OXO sent me a cherry pitter to try and I was dying to find a recipe worthy of my precious Rainier cherries. I pop those things like candy, so I don’t want them to go to waste (and they aren’t exactly cheap). Look how gorgeous this cake is! Ah, but looks can be deceiving.
So, how’s it taste?
It’s so pretty, but look closely. The middle was a big ol’ soupy, raw mess. I baked it 10 minutes longer than suggested since it was jiggly in the middle when I first pulled it out. I knew better when I pulled it out the second time and it was still jiggly. But I convinced myself that the recipe has to be right and maybe it sets up as it cools. WRONG! I’m kicking myself that I didn’t go with my instinct. I’m no super chef in the kitchen, but I’ve baked enough to know better and I knew that cake wasn’t going to be done in the middle. I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t read the reviews before making the recipe. Every single one complains about the baking time. I don’t know what’s going on at Cooking Light, but they need to revisit this one. It’s a good lesson though to go with what you know and not trust a recipe word for word. I’ve been “recipe burned” plenty of times to know that’s true.
Moving on to the taste. I’m not sure I’d love this cake even if it baked properly. Before adding the cherries to the pan, it’s covered in butter and brown sugar. Doesn’t sound bad right? But it’s 1/3 cup of sugar and it’s way too much. I have an insane sweet tooth and it was too much for me. The cake isn’t very sweet, but the overkill of brown sugar on top ruins it. It’s mushy brown sugar goo coating those precious cherries. I can’t decide how I feel about the cake. It’s got good flavor, but in a weird way. It tastes like custard to me, and I’m not a big fan of custard. Too eggy. One bite and I like it, one bite and I hate it. I salvaged the edges of the cake and I’m not ashamed to admit that I picked out every single cherry in the middle and saved them before I threw it out. I’ve eaten two pieces of the cake that was rescued and I still can’t make up my mind. The brown sugar really spoils it. It’s so sickeningly sweet that I’m nauseated after. That never happens.
What I did discover is how much I love cooked cherries. I will eat fresh Rainier cherries all day long, but I find other cherries to be quite tasteless. Definitely not the case when cooked. The darker cherries (can’t remember which kind I bought) had such a concentrated cherry flavor and were a bit sour. That helped a little with the oversweet cake, but not enough. The Rainier cherries reminded me of baked apples. Sweet and tender and incredible! Now you see why I saved them from the disaster. I think I’ll pick out the rest of my beloved cherries and send the cake edges to the trash. I’m not sure this recipe is worth revisiting. Although one comment on the Cooking Light web site mentioned adding an extra 1/2 cup flour and that did the trick. I think I’ll put my cherry pitter to good use, make a pie next, and forget this cherry cake business.
Double Cherry Upside Down Cake
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups pitted fresh Rainier cherries
2 cups pitted fresh Bing cherries
6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Coat a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan with 3-inch sides with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Coat paper with cooking spray. If using a springform pan, wrap outside and bottom of pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
3. Drizzle melted butter over parchment in bottom of pan; sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange cherries in a single layer over brown sugar. Place pan on a baking sheet lined with foil.
4. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, stirring with a whisk; set aside. Place granulated sugar, softened butter, and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to oil mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (batter will be thick). Spread batter evenly over cherries in pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 325° (do not remove cake from oven). Bake at 325° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen cake from edges of pan with a knife; invert onto wire rack.