Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Overnight Refrigerator Oats

I am so sorry that I haven't been posting very much. The summer has been super busy, and then little man and I were sharing some kind of sickie back and forth... not fun.

But I am back and have some fun things to share with you!

Back when I posted my homemade yogurt, I mentioned that I'd been using the yogurt in some yummy recipes, one of which I was specifically excited about. I'd heard all about overnight refrigerator (no cook!) oatmeal, heck, I had even recommended it to my sister in law! But I'd never actually tried it.  It calls for Greek yogurt, and I never wanted to use little man's "good" (ie: expensive) yogurt in something... well... just for me!  But with creamy, thick and delicious homemade coconut yogurt, there was nothing holding me back!

The process is unbelievably simple.

Seriously, just take a few ingredients and put them in a jar.

Screw on the lid, shake the whole thing up, then put the jar in the fridge.

That's it.

The next morning, open up the jar and...

...voila! Breakfast!

This is SO delicious. The liquid is soaked in by the oats, perfectly softening them up to exactly the consistency that you'd expect from perfectly cooked oatmeal. And I added chia seeds to mine, which not only help the oatmeal's texture, but add an amazing health boost to start your morning.

Little man and little miss pretty much refused to try this, which is frustrating, but it's so good that I have made it a few more times, because I really enjoy it, and it's just so quick and easy.  I can't wait to try other flavorings in this, too - it is so easy to customize to any preference or taste.

Trust me - you want to try this!

Overnight Refrigerator Oats
(from The Yummy Life)

1/4 cup old fashioned oats (not quick or steel cut)
1/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk beverage)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used homemade coconut milk yogurt)
1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup

In an eight-ounce mason jar (or any small lidded container), combine all of the ingredients. Carefully secure the lid onto the jar and shake well, until everything is well combined. Place the jar in the refrigerator overnight, or up to two days. Eat chilled.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Daring Bakers' Challenge - Choose Your Own Adventure

Now what in the world does that mean??

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

In a comedy of errors (okay, not comical at all - as a result of an injury to a wonderful member of the Daring Kitchen community, not to mention a lovely friend...), this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge didn't occur as originally planned. But our esteemed leader, Lisa, had a super fun idea to "rescue" the month - she invited all Daring Bakers to choose any previous challenge, on either the cooking or baking side of the board, that they wanted. Maybe something that had been posted as a challenge before they had joined. Perhaps a challenge that they'd completed, but did not achieve the desired results. Any challenge, any reason - the choice was ours.

I knew right away what challenge I wanted to do.

In October of 2009, just a few months prior to my joining the group, the Daring Bakers' Challenge was French Macarons.  I have never tried these highly regarded little confections and was very glad to have the opportunity now to do so!

But there were a few complications along the way.

The first is that the meringue cookies are made with almond flour.  Little man is allergic to all tree nuts, so this is a no go.  The main substitution I saw online called for making pumpkin seed flour.  I chose to try my hand at making flour out of something we had on-hand already... sunflower seeds!

Now... if you remember what little man's other allergies are, you may be scratching your head a bit. Yup, one of his other food allergies is egg. And I did say that these cookies are meringues. Which are basically baked, whipped egg whites. A no-no for him. So why did I go to all of the trouble to find a substitute flour, considering he can't eat the cookies no matter what I use?

Two main reasons. First, no need to bring an unnecessary nut product into the house. Second, it looks like he may be outgrowing his egg allergy. So these cookies may become a possibility in the future! So practicing with a non-nut flour (seeing as the likelihood of him outgrowing the nut allergy is very, very slim) is just preparation for the glorious day when we learn he has one less allergy!

Anyway, once the sunflower seed flour was prepared (I'll share that in a future post), it was time to really dive in!

In order to build up my nerve for what is regarded as a very challenging cookie to make, I watched a few youtube videos about the process. I found one that was not only amusing and informative at the same time, but that used a simple recipe with smaller quantities than those called for in the challenge recipe. So I went with that one.

As I mentioned, the main component of the macaron is the meringue cookie.  So I started out whipping my egg whites.

The goal with the whites is to get them to hold nice, stiff peaks. I always check it by holding some upside down.

Yup. Nice and stiff. And shout out to little man in the background for helping line the baking sheets with parchment. Good job, little man.

The stiff egg whites are then gently folded into sifted and mixed sunflower seed flour and confectioners sugar.  And then the mixture is piped into little circles.

At this point, I was pretty sure that I hadn't ground my flour finely enough. Even though I then sifted it, so I thought it was good enough, you can definitely see seed-bits in my piped meringues. Oh well. I carefully tapped down those points on the tops of my cookies and proceeded to bake them.

When they came out, I was of two minds. One mark of a perfectly baked meringue cookie, in the French Macaron camp, anyway, is when the cookie rounds have little "feet" on the bottom. And if you look closely, many of mine do, actually, have the markings of those feet. On the other hand, the tops of these cookies are supposed to be nice and smooth. Which mine aren't. I'm going to blame either the flour (not fine enough) or my folding technique when incorporating the egg whites into the flour/confectioners' sugar mix... I either over mixed it or under mixed it. I'll have to dig a bit to see which one is most likely.

Regardless, for a first shot with a major substitution, not too shabby.  But they're not done! A macaron is not just the meringue cookie, oh no! It is two of them, with some sort of filling sandwiched between them! Generally it is some sort of ganache or buttercream. I chose a dark chocolate ganache.

To be completely honest, these are very sweet. Very tasty, mind you, but very, very sweet. So one is plenty.

But they were very fun and I am super glad to have had the opportunity to complete a challenge that I'd previously missed out on!

To see what past challenges the other members of the Daring Kitchen revisited this month, check them out here.

French Macaroons
(recipe slightly adapted from Lovely Lady Cakes)

3/4 cup sunflower seed flour, sifted
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 egg whites
4 tablespoons white sugar

In a large bowl, sift first the flour and then the confectioners' sugar, then mix gently to combine the two together. Set this bowl aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin beating the egg whites on high speed until they begin to become frothy, about two minutes. Begin slowly incorporating the white sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk on high until the egg whites hold stiff peaks, about an additional 3-5 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/confectioners' sugar mixture, adding the eggs in three additions.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and carefully pipe quarter-sized circles of the meringue mixture onto the parchment.
Set the piped meringues aside to allow them to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Once the meringues have rested (they should have a slight shell on the outside of them now), lower the oven to 300 degrees and bake the meringues for 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
*note - I saw a tip on another video (I don't remember which, sorry...) that said that your oven rack should be either high or low for these, but not in the middle, and that you should only bake one tray of the meringues in the oven at a time... so I did that - set my oven shelf to the top of the oven and baked one tray at a time, 8 minutes, rotate, 8 more minutes, remove first tray, raised oven temperature back to 325, then lowered back to 300 and put in the second tray.
Allow cookies to cool completely, then choose a filling to create your completely macarons.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

July Sourdough Surprises - Cinnamon Rolls

This month's Sourdough Surprises is one that I've been pushing for for a while. Cinnamon rolls.  As you may have noticed, I love cinnamon rolls of all varieties. Sticky buns, with chocolate chips, with fruit... yeah. As long as it's a cinnamon roll, I'm down.  But there are so many awesome sourdough options that we hadn't gotten to these yet. 

Until now.

This was the month for sourdough cinnamon rolls. Yay!

I chose this recipe from a wonderful sourdough baker who just happens to participate in Sourdough Surprises with us each month! I knew I could trust her because everything she makes looks absolutely amazing.

The process is pretty easy. The biggest thing you will need to plan for is all the time it takes.

It starts early in the afternoon before you plan to actually bake the rolls with prepping your starter. Using 100% hydration starter, you mix your starter with flour to create a very stiff starter.

This then sits for about six hours, fermenting and activating all that wild yeast.

This very happy, very active stiff starter is then mixed with more flour, milk, maple syrup, a touch of oil and a few other ingredients to become a super silky yet very sticky dough.

Yeah, so sticky that that was as close as I could get to a "ball" of dough.

This then sits overnight, as it grows tremendously to take over your bowl.

And then it's just like making "regular" cinnamon rolls - roll out the dough, top with the filling of your choice (brown sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips was my choice) and roll it all up.

That picture shows two of the challenges that I faced at this stage. First, notice how much trouble I had rolling it nicely. The dough is so delicate that rolling was definitely difficult. Secondly, notice the two pairs of pincher fingers in the background... Yeah. Little miss and little man were poaching those chocolate chips faster than I could roll. Little stinkers. (Good thing they're cute!)

As you can see, my rolled and cut buns were anything but pretty. The shapes were... rustic. Yeah. Let's go with that.

But a mere two hours later they had risen beautifully and were ready to go into the oven.

Beautifully golden, bubbling with sugary goodness, all that was left to do was glaze...

...and eat!

Now... here's the bittersweet part of this post. The kids didn't like the sourdough tang of these.  It seemed to have been a little too much for what, for them, is usually a very light and sweet dough. I would be really tempted to try this dough in a more savory concoction because it really was beautiful to work with and was tasty. But I tend to agree with them that it didn't work as well for the kind of sweet roll we wanted.

That being said, I will definitely be trying again. The sourdough starter is strong enough to raise the dough, I just have to hit the right balance between leavening the dough and the right amount of tang. Or I just have to choose a fun, savory filling and make these a meal instead! I'm thinking... pizza rolls! That just might work!

So what kind of cinnamon rolls did you make this month? Link up and share your results!

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
(from turnips 2 tangerines)

For the dough:
1-1/2 cup sourdough starter ( I used my whole wheat sourdough starter, which was the consistency of pancake batter)
1 cups plus 2 cups flour (I used all-purpose flour)
2/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the glaze:
1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup

The afternoon before you plan to bake your cinnamon rolls, mix together your healthy sourdough starter and 1 cup of the  flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 6 hrs. This will get things going.
Add the remaining dough ingredients and mix to form dough, adding enough flour to make the dough workable and to sticky but still keeping it soft. I did this in my stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead 5-8 mins. Add more flour only if necessary.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise overnight.
The next morning gently deflate the dough and transfer to a floured surface. Roll into a rectangle, about 12 x 8 inches. Using your fingers, spread the softened butter over the entire surface of the dough. My dough was delicate, so be careful not to rip it. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips. Starting at long side of the rectangle roll the dough into a long log, working gently and being careful not to tear the dough. Pinch the ends together to seal. Cut the rolls using a serrated knife or a piece of unwaxed dental floss. Place the rounds in a greased 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Keeping them warm will help them to rise faster.
Preheat oven to 350. Once risen, bake them for about 20-25 mins.

To prepare glaze:
Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and enough milk to make of drizzle consistency desired. Remove rolls from oven, let cool slightly and cover with with glaze


Monday, July 15, 2013

Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

Happy Monday!

Another Monday and another post for the Secret Recipe Club!

My assignment this month was Peanut Butter and Peppers, an amazing and impressive blog written by the equally amazing and impressive Jennifer.  Jennifer has something new and delicious posted every single day, so choosing what to make was darn near impossible.

I know I always steer towards dessert-type dishes, so I really wanted to go savory or more meal-type dishes. And there were so many great options. I had pretty much decided to go with her Taco Lasagna, but then I saw something I couldn't resist.

Who doesn't love Girl Scout cookies?? They are such a treat, but are really only around once a year.  Well, wouldn't you  know, Jennifer has a recipe for slightly healthier Thin Mint cookies. Thin Mints just happen to be my absolute favorites (which is actually strange, considering that I don't love mint in most other things...), so I knew I had my final choice.

These cookies were interesting to put together, but not overly complicated.  The cookies themselves are relatively simple chocolate crisp cookies. The dough was a lot more crumbly than I'd expected, which had me a bit worried.

But it worked out perfectly, as I rolled out and cut the shapes.

Once the cookies were completely cooled, it was time for the fun part - dipping them in mint-flavored chocolate coating.  If you know anything about me, you know that, for some reason or another, I have always had trouble melting chocolate. Well, I can melt it, I just can't really work with melted chocolate. No idea why.  Which makes it funny that I chose this recipe.

Now, I will admit. This time was... no different. My chocolate was a bit thicker than I was hoping for, so I had a little trouble with the whole dipping process... it wound up being more of a... use any method you can to spread the chocolate onto the cookies.  Not necessarily pretty, and definitely messy (the kids had a good laugh at me...), but effective!

And once they're coated, who cares how they got that way?

And let me tell you - it was worth it.

These taste just like the real thing. The texture of my cookies was a bit different from the Girl Scout version - lighter and crispier. But the taste was pretty much spot on, which made everyone very happy.

Thanks, Jennifer, for your wonderful blog, your dedication to providing such wonderful recipes, and for sharing the deliciousness with us!

Oh, and for good measure (or, you know, because there were too many delicious options to limit myself to just one...), I also made Jennifer's Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal for breakfast one morning this month. Yum! I'll share that recipe later this week.

Thin Mint Cookies
(from Peanut Butter and Peppers)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour (I used all-purpose, recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 tsp mint extract (I used peppermint extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter until light and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Stir in the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder, mixing until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter resembles a thick frosting. Add the flour and mix just until the flour is combined, making sure to not over mix. My dough was very crumbly, but this is okay.
Form dough into a ball. Knead a few times to bring together, then flatten into a disk between half an inch and one inch thick, cover in plastic wrap then place in freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove dough from the freezer and roll it out really thin on a floured surface, to about 1/8-inch. Cut cookies using 1 1/2-inch round cutter (or any shape or design you like - I used the lid to a spice jar, as Jennifer mentioned she did, and it worked perfectly).
Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This is to place chocolate coated cookies on to dry.

To make chocolate topping: Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in short 15-20 second bursts, stirring between bursts. Mine took about 2 minutes to fully melt.
Stir in the peppermint extract.

Gently drop the cookies, one at a time, into the coating. Turn to coat entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with the fork and bang the fork on the side of the pan until the extra coating drips off. My chocolate was a little thick, so I wound up more spreading the chocolate, but do what works for you. Place chocolate covered cookies on prepared baking rack. Repeat for the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to set.
These will be best eaten from either the freezer or fridge, since they start to get a bit melty when outside.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

July Daring Cooks' Challenge - Yogurt

The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!

I have been wanting to make yogurt for a really long time. Like, a really, really long time.

So why haven't I?

Honestly? I have been scared.

Making yogurt is a relatively straightforward process, but there are a few specifics that are, well, important to the process. Most importantly, you need to be able to incubate your yogurt at a specific temperature for a few hours.  Which is the part that has always scared me.  I had no idea how to accomplish the steady temperature without a specific yogurt maker.

Cher was a fantastic hostess who really put so many of us at ease with her thorough and clear directions.  Even I gathered the confidence to give it a shot!

With little man's allergies, regular yogurt is a no-go. In fact, regular yogurt was what led us to discover his allergies in the first place!  We are so lucky to live in a time and place where non-dairy options are not only available, but varied.  Our favorite non-dairy yogurt is coconut milk yogurt, with our go-to brand being So Delicious. It's tasty and healthy and the company has fantastic customer service. The biggest downfall, as with many specialty foods, is its price.

Which is what gave me my final push to try this challenge.

Using a combination of the coconut milk yogurt recipe that Cher provided in the challenge and this recipe that I found online, I got started.

The process is straightforward.  Heat two cans of coconut milk to almost boiling...

 ...add a thickening agent (I used gelatin)...

...let the whole thing cool, then add a starter culture (for me, 1/4 cup of SO Delicious's plain yogurt with live, active cultures).

And then it is time to incubate! The reason why the milk mixture was cooled is because those live and active cultures are sensitive to heat - heat them too much and they die. And when making yogurt, you want them nice and warm so they thrive in your yogurt. If you kill them, it's not really yogurt.  So the incubation time is intended to keep the whole mixture at that temperature for long enough to let that 1/4 cup of starter culture to spread to the entire mixture.

The method I chose is the one that Cher mentioned as her go-to method: the crock pot!  I half-filled the crock pot with hot water and then set the heat to "warm."  I let this sit the whole time I was preparing my yogurt mixture, then put my prepared jars of yogurt-mix right into the water bath to... incubate! I kept checking the temperature to make sure that this would hold correctly for the incubation time.  In my case, I think "warm" ran a tad bit too hot (my target temperature was between 110 and 120 degrees), so I had to keep an eye on it, turning the machine off a few times during the process to make sure the water didn't get too hot.

I let my yogurt incubate for about 8 hours.  Checking the yogurt right after, it was pretty thin...

But after a few hours in the refrigerator it came together perfectly!

It doesn't have quite the "tang" that I was expecting, so I do wonder if my incubation crock pot got too hot or something, hurting those cultures, but it's pretty close, so I was pretty happy!

I think it tastes just like the canned coconut milk that was used to make it... which is awesome for me, because I love that stuff.  Little man prefers his with lots of honey drizzled on top.

And having lots of delicious, creamy, homemade yogurt convinced me to try something else I have been wanting to for a long time - overnight refrigerator oats!  Here's a sneak peak as to how that worked, but I'll be sharing that with you later on in the week.

Cher, I can't thank you enough for this challenge - I don't know how long it would have taken me to finally build up the courage to try my hand at homemade yogurt without your kind encouragement and thorough explanations!

To see the full challenge and its associated recipes, check it out here.

And to see the other delicious yogurts prepared in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

Coconut Milk Yogurt
(based on challenge recipes and The View From The Great Island)

2 cans coconut milk (full fat works best)
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup prepared coconut milk yogurt with live, active cultures (I used So Delicious)

Pour the coconut milk into a medium sauce pan.  Over medium heat, carefully heat the mixture to 180 degrees.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the hot milk and whisk to combine.
Let the temperature of the milk mixture lower to 110 degrees.
Whisk in the yogurt.
Pour the yogurt mixture into jars and close well.
Incubate the jars in the method you find most comfortable (some people use a warm oven, you can use a yogurt maker if you have one, I used my crock pot - just make sure that your temperature is as close to 110 degrees as possible and as consistent as you can keep it). Incubate the yogurt for 5-8 hours.
Transfer jars to refrigerator to cool.
The yogurt should be good for about a week.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Caramelized Chicken Thighs

So you now how I mentioned that I've been trying some out new recipes? They're not always hits with everyone, but this week I happened upon a real winner.

Little man is a somewhat picky eater, but one thing that I never have to worry about him eating well is chicken.  So I am always on the lookout for fun, new ways to prepare chicken - so I know he'll eat it, but the rest of us won't get bored with it.

This week I found a simple looking recipe for caramelized chicken thighs and just had to try it.

I made a couple of substitutions - the recipe calls for sugar and I used brown sugar, I used dark soy sauce where the recipe doesn't specify which variety to use, and, with little man's peanut allergy, I replaced the peanut butter called for in the recipe with Sunbutter.

I didn't take photos of the process because... well... honestly, because I wasn't thinking about it - I just put dinner together pretty quickly that night so that the kids could keep on playing.

But when these came out of the oven...

I knew that they would be good, so I took a couple of quick pictures so that I could share with you.

The skin was crispy and caramelized, the flavor was delicious, and the meat was cooked perfectly.

We served this over brown rice, spooning the cooking liquid over the rice as a sauce, and it was absolutely delicious.

Little man ate his whole piece and half of daddy's, too. I'd call that a hit!

Caramelized Chicken Thighs
(only slightly adapted from allthecooks.com)

3 pounds of chicken thighs
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used dark)
2 tablespoon Sunbutter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, mix together water, brown sugar, soy sauce, Sunbutter, honey, garlic powder and vinegar. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool a little bit.
Place chicken thighs in a deep baking dish.
Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. Turn the temperature of the oven down to 350 after basting the first time.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Black Bean Burgers

As much as we are a family of meat-loving carnivores, I have been wanting to try my hand at black bean burgers for quite some time.  They always look and sound so delicious when I see other people's pictures.

So I finally decided to give it a try this week.  I wanted to keep them egg-free so that little man could enjoy them, so I used a vegan recipe as my inspiration.

The process was pretty easy... just prep all of the ingredients and throw them in a bowl...

...then blend it all together!

I wasn't fully sure what to expect, though I did have the foresight to prepare an alternative for the kiddos... but I was pleasantly surprised!

For me, that is... the kids nibbled at these then gladly ate their alternatives...

I served my black bean burger "Mexican" style - with slices of avocado and tomato and garnished with salsa and sour cream instead of ketchup and mustard. I thought it was both fun and delicious.

Vegan Bean Burgers
(inspired by Daily Garnish)

2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and blend well with immersion blender. The final mixture will be a little dry but will hold together well when formed.
Divide mixture into six equal portions and form each into a burger-sized patty. Place each patty on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake patties at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, turning once in the middle.  If you want to grill these, pre-bake them for 30 minutes at 300, and then throw them on the grill to reheat and get a little extra browning. I baked mine for about 35 minutes, then quickly finished them in a skillet, a couple minutes on each side, to crisp up the outsides.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Zebra Bundt Cake - an SRC Bonus

Whoa. Can you believe it's July already? More than half-way done the year!

We've been keeping super busy around here, trying to take full advantage of the summer weather and time and everything that goes along with it.  I apologize (again) for the blog-silence.

Last week, the host for one of the other Secret Recipe Club groups asked the community for help - a member of her reveal group was having computer problems and wouldn't be able to get their post up for today's reveal.  Being someone who hates to see someone go orphaned, I immediately volunteered to help.

And was beyond happy when the assignment came back to be Food Ramblings, a delicious blog run by the very talented Elizabeth.

Since this was a relatively last month assignment, I was worried that I'd have trouble choosing what to make, but I actually made my choice very quickly (well, for me!). You see, I was looking for something... different. Something... fun.  And when I saw a posting for Zebra Bundt Cake I knew that was the recipe for me.

This can't really be called a healthy recipe, what with the three sticks of butter, five eggs and two and a half cups of sugar, but what it lacks in nutrition (hey, it's summer!), it makes up in FUN.

It starts with a buttery, sweet batter.  Then half of that batter is mixed in with a sweet, chocolate-y mixture.

Then scoops of the white and chocolate batter are alternately spooned over each other in to a well buttered and floured Bundt pan.

The result is a pseudo-swirl of thick batter, all ready to be popped into the oven.

But when it comes out, that's not the end.  Oh no.

You see, the cake is then smothered in a delicious chocolate glaze, dripping deliciousness all over the place.

Knowing I'd be making this cake, I invited some friends over for an afternoon-snack-time playdate, with this as the main character.  Both moms and all four kids loved seeing this guy cut.

Each piece was a new pattern, which was as fun to look at as it was to eat.  While my zebra patterning didn't turn out quite as cool as Elizabeth's, I still really enjoyed it.

I definitely look forward to visiting Food Ramblings again and making lots more of the yummy recipes!

Zebra Bundt Cake
(from Food Ramblings)
2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 Tbs water
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk (I used coconut milk)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and carefully flour a bundt pan well. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.  In another bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, the cocoa powder and the water. Stir until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the cooled melted butter and the remaining 2 cups sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then repeat until all the milk and flour have been incorporated.  Measure out two heaping cups of the mixture and mix into the bowl with the chocolate mixture. Stir to combine.
To make the zebra look:
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the white batter into the bundt pan. Spoon an equal amount of the chocolate mixture directly in the middle of the white. Next, spoon some white into the center of the chocolate. Repeat until all of the batter has been used.
Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Chocolate Glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 Tbs oil
1-3 Tbs water

Mix all ingredients for the glaze together to form a drizzling consistency. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.


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