Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food is Art

Sometimes I'm astounded at how beautiful food can look.

I mean really.

It can be a true work of art.

After all, we eat with our eyes first so if it doesn't look good you probably won't want it.

I had some pomegranates sitting on the counter the other day.

When I walked in that afternoon I saw this:

I think it's fantastical.

And I may just have to get it printed on canvas and hang it in my kitchen...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hearty (and Healthy) Baked Oatmeal

Now I know most of my recipes tend to be on the - ahem - indulgent side but I really do know how to cook and bake hearty, wholesome and healthful things that still taste good.

I swear.

And today I did just that.

This baked oatmeal is loaded with great nutrients and the base of the recipe can be added to and changed up in a ton of delicious ways.

It is also lacking excess sugar and fat.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3 cups of oats
  • ¼ of packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of milled flax seed*
  • ¼ cup of wheat germ*
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon*
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg*
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
  • 1¼ cups of milk
  • ¼ cup of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 cup of golden raisins*
  • 1 banana, sliced*
  • ½ cup of slivered almonds*
* These ingredients are what I used in my oatmeal and are super delish and healthful but they are totally optional and can be switched up however you like. 

Alright, let's get to it!

Preheat your oven to 350℉.

Grab a big mixing bowl and dump in the oats.

And the brown sugar.

And the flax seed.

Flax seeds are high in dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

Look it up, it's true!

And the wheat germ.

Wheat germ is a great source for vitamin E, folic acid, essential fatty acids and fiber.

Both flax seed and wheat germ can be added to baked goods or protein shakes and can be sprinkled on everything from salad to cereal for added nutrients.

And this concludes our health lesson for the day.

Back to baking!

Now add the baking powder.

And the salt.

And the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Give it a toss to combine.

Now for the wet ingredients...

Crack your egg and whites.

Add the vanilla.

Measure the milk.

And the oil.

Dump the eggs and vanilla into the milk and oil and beat it lightly, breaking up the yolk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into it.

Stir gently until evenly moistened.

At this point you'll want to add, well, whatever it is that you want to add.

I chose golden raisins and banana slices.

Dump them in and fold until evenly distributed.

Grab a 9"x13" pan and spray it with cooking spray.

Now dump in your oatmeal mixture and spread it as evenly as you can.

And now, because to me good food has complex texture.

And because we've got our healthy hats on today.

Let's add some slivered almonds on top for crunch and protein!

Just sprinkle them evenly over the top.

Pop it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

I like to eat baked oatmeal warm.

Look at those beautiful golden raisins!

Little amber jewels.

And those toasted almonds!

It looks like fall in a bowl.

And smells like it too, by the way.

And in the spirit of keeping things nice and healthy and low fat, I eat my baked oatmeal with a little homemade apple sauce.

But you could certainly pour some milk over it.

Or dollop a bit of yogurt.

Or eat it plain and cold as you run out the door on your way to work...

Whatever makes you happy!

Mmmm Mmmm.

Have a wonderful and healthy day!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because Sometimes You Just Need Chocolate Cake...

Today was just one of those days.

I inexplicably needed something chocolate.

But not just a piece of chocolate.

Not chocolate ice cream.

Nor a gooey brownie.

No. Today I needed cake.

So I turned to the best chocolate cake recipe I have in my arsenal.

It's a recipe I've adapted from several different recipes I've tried in the past.

It's ridiculously easy, quick and the best dang chocolate cake I have ever tasted.

Perfect for a day like today.

Let's do it!

Here's what you need for the cake:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp. Instant Coffee
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Okay now hurry up and make it!

Preheat your oven to 400℉.

I know.

It sounds hot but just trust me.

Do you trust me?


Now grab the bowl of your electric mixer (or a regular mixing bowl if you want to use hand beaters) and a sifting device.

Add the flour.

And the sugar.

And the cocoa.

And the baking soda and salt.

And finally add the instant coffee.

Grab a spoon and get sifting.

And this, my friends, is why we sift...

Dump this junk in the trash.

Now take the bowl 'o' good stuff...

and add the melted butter and water.

Mix just until combined.

No more!

Nobody likes a tough cake.

Now measure the buttermilk and crack two eggs into the measuring cup.

Add the vanilla, break the yolks and whisk it up a bit with a fork.

 Dump the buttermilk mixture into the mixing bowl and beat until combined.

Now grab your cake pans.

I used two 10 inch rounds which is pretty much equal to a sheet cake.

I used two round pans as apposed to one sheet pan for two reasons:

1. The cakes only take 20 minutes to bake so if you need chocolate now this is the right thing to do.

2. Two cakes means you will need to put something in between them when stacked which means twice the icing. Sweet!

But you can use whatever makes you happy.

Okay, grease and flour the pans.

If you're like me and using two cake pans, divide your batter evenly into the two pans.

Pop them in your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When the cakes are done, put the pans on a cooling rack and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, invert the pans to remove the cakes and place them back onto the wire racks.

Allow to cool completely and frost with your favorite frosting.


If you want an insane chocolate fix, do what I did and make some chocolate ganache!

All you need is 8 oz. of semisweet chocolate and a cup of heavy cream.

**Please excuse the lighting in the pictures from here on out. Apparently it gets dark earlier than I anticipated...**

Break up the chocolate and put it into a heatproof bowl.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and place over medium heat.

Heat until just before the cream begins to boil.

When tiny bubbles start to form around the edge, turn the heat off.

Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces and let sit for 15 seconds or so.

Grab a spoon and start stirring vigorously until the cream and chocolate become one.

Now take your cake and cooling rack and place it on top of a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Pour half of the ganache onto the cake and spread it all the way out to the edge

Now put your second cake on top.

And pour the rest of the ganache on top.

Use the spoon to spread the ganache evenly over the top of the cake pushing it just to the edge of the cake so that it slowly oozes over the side.

Hello lover.

As the ganache starts to drip over the sides, use your spoon or a spatula to smooth it around the edges.

Carefully transfer the cake to a plate and serve ASAP!

Ideally you should let the ganache cool and set for a while before cutting into it.

But if you remember from the beginning of this post, I needed me some chocolate!

Meet my new best friend.

If you make this cake, it will be your new best friend too.

And why not have some ice cream with it.

This cake may not be the best looking thing you've ever seen but wait until you eat it.

Ohhhhh baby.

This just made my day.

And I hope it made yours better too!