Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oreo Heath Bar Cake

This beauty is a chocolate fudge cake with Oreos baked into batter, heath bar pieces mixed into the filling, and decorating the top.  Very decadent, but very simple to make.  I made this cake for the first time when my (now) husband moved to my city.  I had a meal prepared for the whole family and everyone that came to help him move.  There was not one speck of it left by the end of the night!  

Give it a shot... you're sure to love it!
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake mix
    • 3 large eggs, room temperature
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/3 cup vegetable/canola oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 30 oreos
  • 1 bag of Heath bar Pieces
  • 4 full sized Heath bars
  • Vanilla Buttercream frosting
    • 6 cups confectioner's sugar
    • 2 cups softened butter
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 5 Tbsp half and half
Step-by-Step:
Prep.  Take out your eggs so they can come to room temperature.  Sometimes I cheat and heat up a cup of water in the microwave and let them sit in the warm water while I get everything else out.  Room temperature eggs will give you a fluffier cake than cold eggs (won't rise as much).  Prepare your pans with cooking spray sprinkled with granulated sugar.  Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of each to ensure that your cakes won't stick.  Preheat the oven to 325 F if using non-stick pans.  Go ahead and chop the Oreos into quarters.

Counting out the Oreos is a great job for the kiddos!  We discussed counting, stacking in row, what it meant to "quarter" something.... lots of learning and fun going on!

Mix.  For the cake, I used Duncan Hines (my all time favorite brand) chocolate fudge cake mix.   Prepare according to package directions, with the addition of the vanilla.
I box of cake mix
 1 cup of water + 1/3 cup vegetable oil
Every single time I pull out the vanilla, Lily asks to smell it.  This Mexican vanilla really is the bomb!  So I couldn't resist a photo of her little ritual.
1 tsp vanilla
3 large, room temperature eggs
Blend on low for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides, then blend on medium high for another 2 minutes.  We want light, fluffy cake.
Immediately pour into prepared pans.
After pouring the prepared batter into the pans, I gently mixed in two rows (about 30) of Oreos that we roughly chopped into quarters. 
You can just push them down with your fingers into the batter.
Bake.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 24 minutes.  You do not want to over bake the cake, or else it won't be moist.  Allow to cool in the pans about 5 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.  Remove the parchment paper!

Frosting.  Combine frosting ingredients in a stand mixer and whip until fluffy.  Try to keep the kids out.... my goodness it's delicious!

Here again, we were working on counting and dividing.  If you are making this without a little one helping you, all you need to worry about is that your butter is soft.  HaHa.  But for 2 cups, we needed 16 Tbsp butter.
 

6 cups confectioner's sugar
Add in the soft butter.
2 cups butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
5 Tbsp half and half


Whip until it seems light and fluffy and spreadable, but still has body.

Decorate.  In between the cooled cake layers, I added about half of the bag of Heathbar pieces (the tiny ones that come pre-chopped in a bag in the baking isle) on top of the frosting, then topped with the second layer.



For the topping, I bought a bag of (full-sized) Heathbars, and rough chopped four of them into pieces that were approximately the size of a quarter and piled them on top.  Around the edges, I spooned more of the small pieces from the bag.  
I used 4 full sized bars
more small pieces around the edges
On top of the vanilla icing and the larger candy pieces, I drizzled melted chocolate - I actually used melted chocolate flavored Almond Bark, since it is so easy to work with.

If you short on time, you can also just use some prepared vanilla frosting.  Just wanted to throw that out there for those of you who may be unsure of making your own.

Did you enjoy this recipe?
Please visit my Recipe Index for more soups and lots of different ideas to cook with/for your family!   Click here to subscribe to MenuMusings.  You can also connect with me through Pinterest or the MenuMusings Facebook page.

Here are a few different things:
Grilled Zucchini Rolls

Caprese Stuffed Burgers

Ham Cups

Chicken with Creamed Sherry Artichoke
 
Written Method:
Prep.  Take out your eggs so they can come to room temperature.  Sometimes I cheat and heat up a cup of water in the microwave and let them sit in the warm water while I get everything else out.  Room temperature eggs will give you a fluffier cake than cold eggs (won't rise as much).  Prepare your pans with cooking spray sprinkled with granulated sugar.  Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of each to ensure that your cakes won't stick.  Preheat the oven to 325 F if using non-stick pans.
Mix.  For the cake, I used Duncan Hines (my all time favorite brand) chocolate fudge cake mix.  After pouring the prepared batter into the pans, I gently mixed in two rows (about 30) of Oreos that I roughly chopped into quarters. 
Bake.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 24 minutes.  You do not want to overbake the cake, or else it won't be moist.  Allow to cool in the pans about 5 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.  Remove the parchment paper!
Frosting.  Combine frosting ingredients in a stand mixer and whip until fluffy.  Try to keep the kids out.... my goodness it's delicious!
Decorate.  In between the cooled cake layers, I added about half of the bag of Heathbar pieces (the tiny ones that come pre-chopped in a bag in the baking isle) on top of the frosting, then topped with the second layer.

For the topping, I bought a bag of (full-sized) Heathbars, and rough chopped four of them into pieces that were approximately the size of a quarter and piled them on top.  Around the edges, I spooned more of the small pieces from the bag. 

On top of the vanilla icing and the larger candy pieces, I drizzled melted chocolate - I actually used melted chocolate flavored Almond Bark, since it is so easy to work with.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Center Cut Pork Loin Chops with Rosemary Apricot Reduction

I typically cook pork tenderloin as my kids love the lean but tender and juicy meat, but I've been craving some chops lately.  Now I know that doesn't even make sense... but you know... it was one of those things.

Center cut pork loin chops
Lite Italian dressing
Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's)
Extra virgin olive oil
Worchestershire sauce
Soy sauce
Reduced sodium chicken stock
Apricot preserves/jelly
Sprig of fresh rosemary, stripped

I can't really list amounts on this recipe, because it was one of those pour, taste, and adjust jobs.

I marinated the chops in Italian dressing and sprinkled with creole seasoning for about 30 minutes.  The meat needs to come to room temperature before you cook it!

To a HOT black iron skillet, add a little oil (maybe a tablespoon), and put the chops into the hot glimmering oil.  DON'T move them around.  You need to get a good sear on them, as this creates a wonderful crust, seals in the juices, and helps create the sauce later.  Flip to other side when side one is nice and brown.  After side two is really nice and brown, deglaze pan with chicken stock, soy sauce, and worchestershire sauce.  Pick up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (called "fond") with a large heavy spoon.

Stir in the apricot preserves (maybe 2/3 cup?) and get a nice consistency to the sauce.  As you reduce this sauce, it will thicken and become silky.  Stir in the rosemary that you have stripped from the woody stem (maybe 1 Tbsp). 

Insert a meat thermometer into one of the thicker chops and continue to reduce until internal temperature reads 160 degrees.  If the sauce starts getting too thick, add more chicken stock.  Turn off heat and let them rest for several minutes so juices will redistribute.  This will keep the meat juicy.  The sauce should be glossy and velvety (is that a word?). 

Serve the reduction over the meat. 

* The creole seasoning can be pretty spicy if you are not used to it, so for sensitive palates, substitute salt and pepper and maybe some other herbs (Italian seasoning, oregano, basil ?).

* I'm not sure this would work as well with the thin cut pork chops because they may overcook and dry out by the time the sauce is reduced.

Please visit my Recipe Index for more soups and lots of different ideas to cook with/for your family!   Here are a few different things:

Crab Ragoons
 


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tarragon Chicken Salad with Pecans and Cranberries


This is a great chicken salad when you want something that tastes... a little bit artsy.  The warm, homey taste of roasted chicken plays against the tartness of the vinegar, the sweetness from the cranberries, just a bit of crunch - courtesy of the pecans and celery, and in the background... a mildly licorice taste from the fresh tarragon.  Yummmm. It's just like a symphony.  This would also be great with just crackers, or on a pita.


Serves 8 
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole roasted, rotisserie chicken (or use 2 whole roasted chicken breasts, bone-in & skin on) 
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped 
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped 
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon 
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves, chopped 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar

If using rotiserrie chicken:

Remove skin and debone the room temperature chicken and discard carcass.  Pull or chop into bite sized pieces.
Shredded rotisserie chicken
Meanwhile, toast 1 cup of pecan halves in a skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.
Toasted pecans

Add 1 cup of dried cranberries (I barely had 2/3 cup after Lily got a hold of them!)

Next, chop 2 stalks of celery and place them in a large mixing bowl.
added celery, cranberries
Add 1 small shallot (minced)
1 small shallot

Chop 2 Tbsp of fresh tarragon, and add to the bowl.
fresh tarragon.... from our herb garden


chopped tarragon
Chop the toasted pecans and add them in.  In a separate bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and stir well.
The final chicken salad
Written Method:

If using chicken breasts:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season generously with some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.   When the chicken is cool, remove the skin and shred, or cut the breast meat into small pieces. Place into a large mixing bowl and add the celery, shallot, tarragon, cranberries and pecans.  Chill for at least one hour, for the flavors to blend and serve.


If using rotiserrie chicken:

Remove skin and debone the room temperature chicken and discard carcass.  Pull or chop into bite sized pieces.   Meanwhile, toast 1 cup of pecan halves in a skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.


Add 1 cup of dried cranberries.  Next, chop 2 stalks of celery and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 small shallot (minced).  Chop 2 Tbsp of fresh tarragon, and add to the bowl.  Chop the toasted pecans and add them in.In a separate bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture & stir well.

For more great recipes, please visit my Recipe Index!

Here are a few bonus recipes:
 
 

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest