Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter baking: Egg Shaped Cakes and Pretty Pastel cupcakes

Help!!!!! I've started baking and I can't stop!!!!!

Okay, if you follow my blog, you know that baking is a relatively new concept for me. I get so much inspiration from other blogs though, it has really encouraged me to do more of it.

Since Joe and I stayed in the city for Easter and didn't have a lot planned, I found myself baking on multiple occasions this weekend!

It started on Friday night, I decided to whip up some cupcakes and make a bunch of different pastel colors for the frosting.

I used the much raved about Hershey Chocolate Cupcake recipe (let me tell you, this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe now!) and just a standard buttercream frosting.

Since it was just Joe and I, logically I only made a dozen cupcakes. Uh yeah, I was seriously regretting that decision 24 hours later, after we had an impromptu dinner party (Joe got his Omaha steak order on Friday and we had to share!) but only had one cupcake left! Yeah, you do the math, but the two of us took down quite a few cupcakes.

Anyway, Joe caught me sneaking the last cupcake into the bedroom while our friends were still over because I was "too tired" to play another game of Yahtzee. Bad host!

So because we didn't get enough sweets, I decided to make these egg shaped cakes for us on Sunday.

I found this via on The Kitchen. This was such an easy process to follow, thanks to the step-by-step pics on the Kitchen.

I was pretty impressed with my novice carving technique!

So I took the author's suggestion on recipes and used Lemon Poundcake from Gale Gand and Swiss Buttercream from Smitten Kitchen for the egg coating and a basic buttercream for the decorations.


This stuff is amazing! I re-read SK's post a few times before deciding I was brave enough to attempt this. It really was not that difficult, her tutorial is very helpful, and this was just delicous.

I am a big frosting fan and when I tasted this I realized it was my favorite frosting, I just never knew what it was called! If you don't like super sweet, immediately feel like you need to brush your teeth frostings, you have to try this, it is truly amazing.

Decorating these was so much fun and I was quite pleased with the result.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicken with Carmelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese

Sooo...I saw this on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations a couple of months ago, and have been meaning to make it ever since.  I love Mary Ellen's blog because her cooking style is very similar to mind (LOTS of pasta and risotto, not a lot of baking).

OH. MY. GOD. This was so good.  If I had known how good it was, I would not have waited 2 months to make it!  

This is definitely a great meal for a cold night, good thing since we are having some especially cold weather in Chicago for the first week of April.

I followed Mary Ellen's recipe with a few modifications:

  • I used sage instead of thyme (Not buying an $8 jar of dried thyme in this economy!) and dredged the chicken in flour and sage.
  • No cheese on the inside of the chicken ( I was lazy)
  • Again, had to add a carb.  Joe is quick to notice if one of the food groups in missing from the meal.  Actually the mashed potatoes I think really made the meal.

I whole-heartedly agree with Mary Ellen though; spinach, gruyere cheese and carmelized onions are a fantastic combination!


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; trimmed and pounded out a bit
2 onions, sliced
Salt and pepper
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of sugar
Approx 3 tbsp flour
Olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Approx 1/3 c white wine
6 slices Gruyere cheese
Fresh spinach

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat

Add onions, pinch each of salt, pepper, sugar, and thyme. Let cook, stirring often, for approximately 30 minutes until the onions are brown and caramelized. Remove from pan.

Add another tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to pan

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and paprika. Dredge in flour, shake off excess.
Place chicken in the pan; cook approximately 4 minutes on each side.

When the chicken is done, top each piece with 2 slices Gruyere cheese.

Place under the broiler in your oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Top each chicken breast with some of the caramelized onions, and place under the broiler for another 2 minutes.

Serve over sauteed spinach (saute spinach in olive oil with salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until just wilted).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Parmesan Breaded Pork Chops, Spinach and Tomato salad, and my new backsplash!

Another weekend, another renovation project. While our master bath is at a standstill until the professionals can help with important things like plumbing, Joe couldn't let the weekend go by without another project, this time it was the kitchen backsplash.

While my mom asked the obvious question - "Why are you starting another project when you're not done with the first?" (we are sooo alike sometimes) - what can I say? The man is in a tiling mood.

So while the project was relatively easy, it wasn't until Sunday night that I actually got my kitchen back - and I love my new backsplash! Since Joe's been working so hard, I indulged him by combining his two favorite foods: cheese and pork.

I got this recipe from the Food Network, and was surprised because Nigella Lawson has never been one of my go to girls like Ray Ray or Giada, I may have to start trying her recipes more often.

This was very tasty and I'll definitely be making it again. The salad is very light and fresh, a great compliment to the heavy pork chop.


Pork chops:
2 pork chops, approximately 8 ounces each
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup ground nut oil or similar, for frying

Garlicky spinach and tomato salad:
3 medium tomatoes
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper


Trim the thick white fat off the pork chops, cutting carefully around the outside edge. Lay the chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and, using a mallet or a rolling pin beat them until the meaty part of the chop is half as thick. You will need to beat around the bone, so turn them over once as you go.

Beat the egg in a shallow wide bowl with the mustard, oregano, and salt and pepper. On a large plate or platter, combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan.

Press each of the chops into the egg mixture, coating either side. Then dip the eggy chops into the bread crumbs, covering them evenly. Let them lie on a cooling rack to dry slightly while you heat the oil in a large frying pan. When a small cube of bread sizzles if dropped into the oil, then the oil is hot enough. Cook the chops until they are a deep golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes a side (depending on how thin you've managed to get them and how cold they were before going in the oil).

Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds, then cut the shells into strips and dice them. You can take off the skins, too, if you prefer, by steeping the tomatoes first into a bowl of just boiled water for 3 to 5 minutes. Combine the diced tomato, minced or grated garlic, oil, and lemon juice in a bowl, and season well with salt and pepper.

When the chops are ready, toss the spinach in the tomato mixture until well coated and divide the salad between 2 large plates, putting each chop alongside.

***I followed her recipe closely, but of course had to add a carb, and also when breading the pork chop, I dredged in flour before the egg.