New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

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When we were in New York City for our senior class trip, Celine and I split a piece of red velvet cheesecake at lunch. It was pretty much the best thing ever because it had a layer of red velvet cake, a layer of cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, another layer of red velvet cake, and more cream cheese frosting. Ever since then, Celine and I have had a craving to bake one of our own.

Luckily, when we asked our wonderful grandfather for what he wanted as his celebratory dessert on his birthday last weekend, he asked for cheesecake. I never knew that he was a cheesecake fan, but since that’s what he asked for, we decided to give it a go! We had never made a classic New York cheesecake before, but we had heard rave reviews of this recipe, and it definitely lived up to expectations! It was creamy and full of tangy flavor (thanks to a substantial amount of cream cheese and a bit of lemon juice). Oh, it also had a thick graham cracker crust with just the right texture. I think it was the perfect cheesecake.

You can tell by the picture that ours got a little bit too brown (we definitely overbaked it), but its taste and texture did not seem to have suffered a bit from it. This dessert was simple to make as well. When served with some homemade strawberry sauce, this was a dangerous dessert.

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

Cheesecake from Baking Illustrated via Annie’s Eats, strawberry sauce from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Serves at least 10-12

Ingredients:

For the crust:

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tbsp., melted for greasing the pan

4 oz. (about 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine crumbs in a food processor (definitely weigh if you can, because the exact size of the crackers will vary by brand)

1 tbsp. sugar

For the cheesecake filling:

2 1/2 lb. (5 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature (use full fat cream cheese for the proper texture)

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup sour cream

2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

For the sauce:

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

For the crust:

Place an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter.  In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons of melted butter, and sugar. Stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly combined and all the crumbs are moistened.  Transfer the crumbs to the prepared springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin or a cup to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom.  Bake until fragrant and just barely beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.

For the cheesecake:

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl again and beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until completely combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute after each egg addition, scraping the bowl between additions.

Using a pastry brush, brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter.  Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet in case the pan leaks during baking.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours (note: we would check it at an hour, just in case your oven runs hot. Ours was done in a little over an hour).  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Run a paring knife around the side of the springform pan to separate the cheesecake from the pan.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

Once thoroughly chilled, you can run a thin spatula under the cheesecake to separate from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto your serving dish.

For the sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water, strawberries, and sugar. Heat the mixture over medium high heat until it boils. Give it a stir and reduce the heat to medium.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of water and whisk until smooth. Pour this into the strawberry mixture and cook over medium heat for three or four more minutes, or until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool.

Slice the cheesecake and serve with some of the fresh strawberry sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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More and more Leah and I make specialty pizzas. As much as I love traditional pizza, it’s a lot of fun to chop up different vegetables and toppings and switch up the cheeses. We had been wanting to make a barbecue chicken pizza for ages, and Sally’s Baking Addiction posted a fantastic-looking one a few weeks ago. It immediately went to the top of our to-make list, and we were not disappointed.

This pizza has a combination of smoked Gouda and mozzarella, chicken breast tossed in a little barbecue sauce for moisture, sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, and a layer of barbecue sauce instead of traditional tomato sauce. We used our favorite pizza crust recipe, and you can use whatever recipe is your favorite. This is a fun and delicious pizza that is appropriate for spring/summer. In fact, when our family starts grilling again, we may try grilled chicken on the pizza instead!

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Makes 1 medium-sized pizza

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

1 ball of pizza dough, enough for 1 pizza

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (separated)

1 cup cooked, sliced chicken breast

2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

Directions

Preheat oven with pizza stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Press out pizza dough on a piece of parchment. Mix chopped chicken with barbecue sauce.Top pizza crust with remaining barbecue sauce (use as much as you would like), then the mozzarella, chicken, Gouda, and sliced red onion.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the crust is browning and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, top with cilantro, slice, and serve. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Muffins

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Life has been moving quickly lately. We have only a little over 20 days of school left, and the past few weeks have been crazy- a class trip to New York, a few more college acceptances, more snow delays, a research paper, lots of tests, a new job, etc. The next month or two promise not to let up either; Prom, Easter break, a senior capstone project (job shadowing), graduation, graduation parties, and of course, deciding on a college.

When we’re busy, it can be hard to fit in making food and photographing it for the blog. However, on Sunday, we decided to take some time off and bake. After sifting through tons of recipes that we’ve saved and flipping through our favorite blogs, we eventually settled on these muffins that we found on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.

These muffins may be close to the cupcake end of the spectrum, but they are worth every calorie. They are rich chocolatey muffins studded with chocolate chips and topped with a white chocolate drizzle (which leaves them with a Hostess-esque look). The chocolate flavor is amped up with a bit of espresso powder, one of our favorite pairings with chocolate. The cupcakes don’t taste like coffee, don’t worry- the espresso powder just helps heighten the chocolate flavor. They’re some of the yummiest muffins we’ve made in a while, and we know that you’ll love them too!

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Triple Chocolate Muffins

Recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes 12-16 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

5 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with muffin liners.

In a pot over low heat, melt the butter and the chocolate together. Be careful to keep it low and stir often to avoid burning the chocolate (you could also do this in a microwave, stirring every 30 seconds). Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso together in a medium bowl; whisk until evenly mixed.

Add the brown sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill the prepared cups with batter (each cup should be a little more than 2/3 full). Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate (either over low heat or in the microwave). Drizzle the chocolate over the cupcakes. This is easily done by filling a plastic sandwich bag with the chocolate and cutting off the tip. Enjoy!

 

 

Vegetarian Pot Pies with Feta Scallion Biscuits

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While this meal is in a genre of foods generally more suitable for serving during the middle of winter, the large number of vegetables make it appropriate for spring. The result is a lighter meal, since there’s no cream that is typical for a pot pie, and a light and flaky feta scallion biscuit on top replaces a traditional pie crust. You will absolutely not miss chicken in this meal- we both agreed that we enjoyed this more than a traditional chicken pot pie. It’s still been chilly where we live recently, but warm weather is certainly on its way- the longer days and return of chirping birds are both sure signs. We couldn’t be looking forward to it more!

P.S. We just got a job at a local bakery and we are so excited about it! While we won’t be doing the actual baking (just ringing up people’s orders, etc.), it should be fun working in that sort of environment and I have no doubt we’ll learn a lot.

Vegetarian Pot Pies with Feta Scallion Biscuits

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

For the filling:

3 tablespoons butter (it doesn’t really matter if it’s salted or unsalted)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
¾ cup frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups veggie broth (we recommend Imagine brand)
Salt and pepper, to taste (salt will vary based on the broth you used/ whether or not you used salted butter)

For the biscuits:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions 

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 4 or 5 ramekins or a 2-quart casserole dish.

For the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add onion, pepper, and carrots and saute, stirring every now and then, until vegetables are starting to soften. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they are softened and have released most of their liquid. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute.

Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Pouring slowly, stir in the vegetable broth. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the filling has thickened and is bubbling. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.  Divide the filling mixture between the prepared serving dish(es).

For the biscuit topping, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Stir in the pieces of butter and toss around in the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse (the butter chunks shouldn’t be bigger than the size of a pea).  Stir in the feta and scallions and toss briefly to combine.

Pour in ½ cup of the buttermilk and stir gently with a fork until a dough has formed. Add more buttermilk as needed. Don’t overmix! Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently press until it is 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut 3-inch biscuits out of the dough and place them on top of the vegetable filling in the serving dish(es). Brush top of biscuits with extra buttermilk and a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the baking dish(es) to a rimmed baking sheet, and place near the top of the oven.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the biscuits are light golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes until serving. Enjoy!

 

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Thanks to our penchant for baking, we are always on the lookout to find breakfast foods that can be baked, aren’t full of sugar, and are fun to make. Sure, muffins are delicious, but sometimes we don’t want to start our day with a dessert. Enter these scones- they are perfect for your baking craving and go nicely with a plate of scrambled eggs, no bacon needed since it’s already in them. That’s not to say that they’re healthier than your typical muffin or coffee cake- that’s definitely not the case.

You start with a light and fluffy scone that is reminiscent of a biscuit and add chopped bacon, scallions, cheddar cheese, and black pepper. There’s a lot of flavor going on in these, and they make a very hard-to-stop-eating breakfast. Give them a try this weekend!

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Recipe from Smells Like Home, originally from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Makes 10-12 scones

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

4 green onions, thinly sliced

10 slices cooked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

3/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (Yes, it’s a wide range)

1 large egg

2 tsp water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper on low speed. With the mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and butter lumps are no larger than the size of small peas. Add grated cheese and stir just until blended.

Add green onions, bacon and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk to flour and cheese mixture. Mix by hand just until the ingredients are incorporated; be careful not to over mix. If dough is too dry to hold together, use remaining buttermilk, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball, being careful to stir as little as possible throughout the process. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured flat surface or on a piece of floured parchment paper. Form the dough into a ball. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle about 10 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough in 8-12 wedges.

Whisk the egg and water in a small mixing bowl to combine. Brush each wedge with egg wash. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Whipped Honey-Vanilla Yogurt with Toasted Coconut, Pineapple, and Sliced Strawberries

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Since we gave up sugar for Lent, we’ve been keeping our eyes out for desserts (and breakfasts) that are only sweetened with natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and fruit. We came across this lovely yogurt recipe in the latest edition of Martha Stewart Living. You whisk together Greek yogurt, a bit of heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, lemon zest, and honey. The yogurt is topped with some toasted unsweetened coconut, pineapple chunks, and sliced strawberries. This makes for a healthy and delicious treat that is suitable for breakfast but could also double as a dessert. Who needs sugar? Well, I’m not going to answer that question…

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Whipped Honey-Vanilla Yogurt with Toasted Coconut, Pineapple, and Sliced Strawberries

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living March/April edition

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt

2/3 cup heavy cream

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons honey

Sliced strawberries and pineapple chunks (amounts will vary by preference)

Toasted unsweetened coconut

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, heavy cream, vanilla bean, zest, and honey until the mixture has thickened a bit. Serve in bowls topped with fruit and toasted coconut. Enjoy!

Pralines

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Happy Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, whatever you call it)! We have decided to give up sugar for Lent this year, so we celebrated Fat Tuesday with a multitude of desserts. Today was a field trip with our Latin class to the Pompeii exhibit at the Franklin Institute, and we went to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch afterwards. The Reading Terminal Market is an amazing place- it literally has every type of food available, from sushi to crepes to Philly cheesesteaks. Since we won’t be eating sugar for the next forty days, we had ice cream from Bassett’s (amazing) and a type of Fat Tuesday treat called a fasnacht. It was like a doughnut but a little more…fattening (and delicious).

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We couldn’t let Mardi Gras pass without eating pralines, though. We made these yesterday, and when I say they are one of the best candies I’ve ever eaten, I’m not kidding. They’re bound to be good, considering they have brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, and toasted pecans in them. They were actually surprisingly easy to make: toast the pecans, boil together the ingredients, let cool, stir until thick, and let set. The only tricky part is getting everything to the right temperature; make sure that you have a thermometer nearby. Also, it takes forever for the mixture to cool from 236 degrees to 150 degrees, but be patient because perfectly smooth pralines are worth the little bit of waiting. They may not be the prettiest candies ever, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste!

Pralines

Recipe from Baked Bree

Makes about 20-30 pralines (depending on how big you make them)

Ingredients:

2 cups pecan halves (feel free to chop a few smaller if you’d like)

3 cups light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup butter

2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until toasted (be careful not to let them burn). Set aside to cool. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the brown sugar, cream, butter, and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil until a candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees, stirring somewhat frequently.

Take the mixture off the heat and let cool until the candy thermometer reaches 150 degrees. This takes about 20 minutes, but it may take you more or less time depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the pecans.Stir constantly for one to two minutes or until it begins to lose its gloss and is thickened. Be careful not to stir it too long or your candy will be a kind of chunky shape.

Working quickly, drop the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets (each candy should be a tablespoon or two). Let sit until they are firm, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

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How is it possible that March is starting tomorrow? There are only two months of high school left, which feels crazy. This school year has just blown away with a gust of college essays, piles of homework, and hours spent at activities. We have a long Easter break and have a senior capstone (job shadowing) project at the beginning of May, so there are only 30-something days of actual school left. It’s hard to believe!

Of course, even though Spring is just around the corner doesn’t mean that it is warm outside. We’re predicted to get more snow next week, and the high temperatures over the past week have been in the 30s. However, we can pretend that Spring is here with this sunny lemon dessert. This dessert feels fancy, but the ingredients are fairly simple (even though it takes a bit of time to make). Each cake is basically like a layer of lemon curd and a layer of moist, fluffy sponge cake. The fun part is that it is all one batter when it goes into the oven; the layers form as it bakes.

We highly recommend finding Meyer lemons to use in this cake; they have a sweeter, mellower flavor than regular lemons (although I am sure regular lemons would taste excellent too). Once you get your hands on some lemons, please make this cake! It is truly an amazing dessert. I bet serving it with some raspberries and whipped cream would be excellent

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Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from The Craft of Baking

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Softened butter to grease ramekins

¾ cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided, plus more for coating the ramekins

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Zest of 2 Meyer lemons

1 cup buttermilk

¼ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

4 large eggs, separated

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Lightly grease the inside of six 8-ounce ramekins with the softened butter and coat with sugar. Line the inside of a baking dish or roasting pan with a kitchen towel.  Place the prepared ramekins on top of the towel inside the baking dish (you will be baking these with the towel lining the bottom of the pan).

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ¾ cup of the sugar and salt.  Add the lemon zest and rub the zest into the flour mixture until evenly combined and fragrant.  In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, lemon juice and egg yolks.  Whisk to blend.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the egg whites and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form, being careful not to over mix.  Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the buttermilk and whisk until well incorporated.  Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to the bowl and fold in gently with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining whites in two more additions.

Once the batter is evenly combined and all the egg whites have been incorporated, divide evenly between the prepared ramekins.  Fill the baking dish or roasting pan with hot water so that it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Tent the pan with foil, transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20-30 minutes more, just until the cakes are risen and are slightly browned on top.

Transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature. Once they are cool, slide a paring knife around the edges of each cake and invert onto serving plates.  Top with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Note: we doubled our recipe and baked half of it in a larger 8×8-inch pan. It worked just as well as the small cakes (although it couldn’t be inverted). If you go this route rather than individual servings, it will take a bit longer to bake.

Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard (Crock Pot)

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Our mom has a notorious history in our household of having crock pot failures. It’s not her fault, but our crock pot cooks things quicker than most, resulting in overcooked food, and the many (many) crock pot cookbooks she has are mostly not too great.

However, she recently bought the America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, which is definitely a reputable book. We had this amazing chicken for dinner on Sunday, and it was the first thing that came out of a crock pot in our house that tasted really, really good! (We had a few decent things come out of the crock pot before, but none that could rival something cooked over a stove or in an oven). It’s super-flavorful and the chicken is tender and forgiving since it uses chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts, reducing the chances of dried-out chicken. We served ours over orzo pasta, which was great, but you could serve it over mashed potatoes or like a stew with a piece of bread on the side.

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Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
5 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
12 (6 oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
6 oz. Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch thick
 
Directions
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion, thyme, tomato paste, garlic, anchovy, and red pepper flakes and cook until onion is softened and starting to brown, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for another minute.
 
Slowly whisk in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.  Cook until reduced a bit, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, broth, wine, and bay leaves.  
 
Season chicken with salt and pepper and place slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours, on low. Gently stir in Swiss chard, cover, and cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes.  
 
Transfer chicken to platter and tent loosely with foil.  Let braising liquid settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with sauce spooned over each chicken piece. Enjoy!

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

banananutellacupcakes

When we make cupcakes for our family, we typically pipe frosting on a few of them for blog pictures and then just spread it on with an icing spatula for the rest. Of course, when we are bringing cupcakes to an event, we pipe the frosting on all of them! While piping frosting itself is fun, refilling the piping bag can be a messy and annoying job, so we avoid it if possible.

Luckily, these are the kind of cupcakes where a fancy piped swirl isn’t necessary. Regardless of how you spread your frosting, these cupcakes are fantastic. The base is a banana cupcake that is less dense than banana bread but still packed with banana flavor. It’s definitely the best banana cake we’ve made. The frosting is the perfect topping for this cake. It is more chocolatey than it looks (we beat ours for longer, so our frosting became lighter as more air was incorporated). The nutella flavor is not super strong, so if you want to increase the amount, you can. We loved it just as it was, though!

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Recipe from Cooking Classy

Makes about 15 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium bananas)

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg+ 1 large egg white

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup salted butter, softened

1/4 cup Nutella (feel free to add more)

2 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 – 4 tsp heavy cream

Directions:

For the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt until evenly combined. Mash the bananas with lemon juice until fairly smooth and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the remaining 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Blend in egg, then add the egg white and vanilla. Beat in the banana mixture.

With the mixer  on low speed, add in a third of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add half of the buttermilk. Repeat, alternating between the flour and the buttermilk. Mix until just evenly combined. Divide the batter among 15 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake in the  preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 18 – 22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

For the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together the butters on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5 – 6 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl halfway through. Add the Nutella and cocoa powder and beat for two more minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Add the cream and whip on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes more minutes. Frost the cupcakes as desired and enjoy!