Monday, July 21, 2014

Mini Chocolate Icebox Cake

I made this super simple but decadent treat as a welcome home celebration dessert for myself when I got back from North Dakota a couple of weekends ago. Does anyone else like to treat themselves to welcome home sweets? No? Just me? Ah well, next time you're away for an extended period of time - sleepover at a friend's or gone on holiday - get yourself a little something yum when you return home. It makes home just that much more exciting and happy and fun.

I'm not really sharing anything wonderfully novel or creative because icebox cakes have been around forever and it's the best this-is-homemade-but-I'm-cheating recipe ever. It's not even really a recipe. It's just an assembly. But, it's delicious and awesome for summertime because it requires zero interaction with stovetop and/or oven and it's supposed to be served cold. It's like revenge. However, I'm still sharing this recipe assembly because it's fun! I posted a photo of this to my Facebook and my friend J was like, "I have never heard of this cake until today," so maybe this will be new to some of you, in which case, yay! Plus, the cool thing about my version though is that it's in miniature so it's super cute.
Ingredients [yields one mini 6-inch icebox cake; triple the recipe for a normal 9-inch cake]:
9 oz. package of chocolate wafers
1 pint whipping cream
1-1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
+ crushed wafers, sprinkles, chocolate shavings, and/or any other decoration you like
If you're not keen on whipping your own cream and/or you're allergic to the calories, you can certainly grab a tub of Cool Whip from the freezer aisle. But, I prefer the freshly whipped stuff because I like to control the amount of sugar; I don't like overly sweet whipped cream, especially when it's being paired with another sweet element.

If you're going the homemade route, just pour your cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla into a bowl and whip it until you have fluffy peaks that are thick and spreadable. Be certain not to over whip because you'll end up with butter. Butter is great, but it's not what we're going for here.
I decided to just build my icebox cake directly on this cute little mini cakestand (from H&M). If you don't have a mini cakestand, just use a small plate. I layered three wafers on the bottom, spread them with a generous amount of whipped cream, and then stacked three more wafers on top, offsetting them. Then, I spread on more whipped cream and continued until I used up all of my whipped cream and wafers. Make sure that each wafer has a generous slathering because the moisture from the whipped cream is going to soak into the wafers and make them soft and cake-like. If there isn't enough cream, you'll end up with some crunchy bits of wafer.
Finish off the cake with a thick layer of whipped cream on top. If you're so inclined, you could also spread lots of whipped cream around the sides of the cake to fill in the gaps but I happen to like the look of the offset wafers. I think it's gorgeous.
Pop the cake into the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. You'll know the cake is ready when you can stick a knife in the center with no resistance.
I like to wait to decorate the top of the cake after it's chilled so that I can test it with the knife and then cover up the test "wound." I used chocolate shavings this time but if I were making this for someone's birthday, I might use rainbow sprinkles.
Slice the cake into cute mini-sized servings and dig in!
The best part is seeing the exposed layers and how the wafers have absorbed moisture from the cream.
The cake will be soft and creamy and delicious and perfect for a warm summer afternoon (iced) tea party.
Here's the recipe page:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chicken & Greens Sandwich

Oh Friday, you are here at last. I was waiting for you! This weekend is going to be a busy one in the kitchen. I'm hoping the non-humid, slightly breezy weather we've been enjoying the past two days sticks around for another two. I've got to make some cute desserts (which I'm sure will eventually be shared here) for a little shindig I'm helping host next week. I'm excited though. I get excited about spending time in the kitchen.

Anyway, let's talk about today's recipe. It's a delicious and healthy-ish sandwich that was born out of a we-need-to-use-this-before-it-goes-off type of desperation. As you may or may not know, I was in and out of North Dakota from the end of April to the beginning of July. This meant that baby sister had to do the grocery shopping on her own and didn't always eat everything she purchased. So, one of the weekends that I had come home, she told me there was a bunch of broccoli rabe in the fridge that needed to be used and she said it would probably be delicious on a chicken sandwich, so guess what? I planned on making that sandwich. However, it turns out that it wasn't broccoli rabe, it was broccolini. The little weirdo doesn't always know what's what.

That minor detail didn't change our plans. We made chicken sandwiches and topped them with broccolini. Of course, since it's summertime, the chicken was slapped onto a hot grill and to add some color to the sam, I threw on some red onion. This was a delicious, satisfying, and pretty nutritious lunch and it's one you might want to make for yourself this weekend.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
2 chicken thighs or breasts
2 rolls
bundle of greens - broccolini, broccoli rabe, kale, mustard greens, something dark and hardy is ideal
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated cheese - gruyere, provolone, swiss, havarti, a white melting cheese is perfect
1/2 red onion, sliced
olive oil
salt & pepper
Start by cooking the chicken because it'll take the longest. I used thighs because I think dark meat is more delicious and flavorful but if you're watching your waistline, you could use chicken breast or turkey scallopini. Drizzle the meat with a little olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss on the grill. If you don't have access to a grill you can use a grill pan, cast iron skillet, or bake the chicken in the oven. On the grill the chicken will take 8 to 10 minutes on each side. If you're unsure whether your chicken's cooked through, stab it with a thermometer and look for 165F or do it the old fashioned way and give the meat a slice through and make sure there's no more pink in the center.
While you wait for the chicken to get good and tasty, you can be working on the greens. In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, roughly chopped garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Heat over a low flame until the garlic sizzles and then add in the broccolini (or whatever greens you decided to use). Cook until the vegetables are wilted and they turn a more vibrant green. I like to cook them until they're just tender but still have a bite. If you prefer a softer vegetable, cook for just a bit longer. But be warned! Don't cook them too long or else they'll lose the vibrant green color and end up a dull, khaki colored mess.
Once the greens are done, heat up another teaspoon of olive oil in the same pan and toss in the onions and cook them until they're caramelized a bit on the edges and sweet and lovely.
To assemble the sandwiches, split the rolls in half. For a lower carb alternative, you could assemble these on a wheat roll or one of those no carb breads made with flax or use butter lettuce and turn this into a make-shift lettuce wrap.
Layer a piece of chicken, cheese, greens, maybe a little more cheese, and onions and close up the sandwich. Slice it in half and serve. I placed additional greens alongside my sandwiches as well as a few crunchy gherkins.
These sandwiches are delicious! The char of the grilled chicken is delicious with the spicy wilted greens and the sweet red onions and the salty melted cheese. This is the perfect summery lunch - how about packing them up for a picnic - and would also be delicious as a light dinner, especially if you're trying to keep trim.

Here's the recipe page:
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