Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coconut Chicken CURRY!

So my good friend Lauren (you may be familiar with her adorable blog) came over for a girls night last weekend. We had a GREAT time, watched Devil Wears Prada (I got inspired to get my bangs cut like Ann Hathaway... we'll see how that goes), and we made an absolutely divine coconut chicken curry. It is really pretty easy, just takes a bit of time cause it has to simmer. That was perfect for us though, while it was simmering away, filling my apartment with delicious smells, we had time to gab and have some good girl time. Once it was finished cooking though, the talking stopped for a good ten minutes as we stuffed our faces with this delicious concoction. I served it over rice and we also had a lovely crispy baguette Lauren had brought from Grand Central Bakery. I know rice is the traditional accompaniment to curry and it was nice, but I think that the bread was a better complement to the rich sauce. So, I recommend you serve the curry over a nice crusty whole wheat baguette. That being said, either way you choose to serve it, this curry is a definite keeper!

Coconut Chicken Curry
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder (cayenne)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons sugar

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil, curry powder, and paprika in a large skillet over medium-low heat for two minutes, until fragrant (but don’t let it burn).
Turn the heat up to medium and stir in onions and garlic. Cook ten minutes more, or until onions are very clear (mine took about 15 minutes).
Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and is cooked through.
Add potatoes, then add coconut milk, tomatoes (lightly crush the stewed tomatoes with your fingers before adding), tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan. Stir to combine.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes, until sauce thickens. Serve with rice or a hearty wheat baguette. Makes great leftovers the next day too!

Have a lovely, stress-free weekend!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whisked Away Wednesday: Caramel Apple Cake

Happy Wednesday! Keeping with the theme of fall flavors, I whisked up a caramel apple cake! I have to admit, I don't much like regular caramel apples. I like my apples dipped in fudge, white chocolate, m&ms, anything other than just plain caramel. It's not that I don't like the flavor of caramel apples, I love it! I guess what I don't like is the texture of biting into something so sticky.... I dunno, I'm weird I guess! BUT that being said, this cake takes all the GREAT flavor of caramel apples that I do like and removes the whole texture issue. When you bite through the cake's caramelized crust, you get a mouthful of plump, juicy apples and creamy gooey caramel melted together in a heavenly whirl of cinnamon and brown sugar. I know on Monday I posted about the best oatmeal cookies I ever ate, and I don't want to overdo the use of "the best..." but honestly, this cake takes the cake! (sorry that was a little corny... but ya know.. it's good cake!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 cup chopped peeled tart apple (I used one large pink lady apple)
12 caramels, chopped (into fourths) - this took a bit of time and was kinda sticky but believe me it is sooo worth it!

Topping Ingredients
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, butter and vanilla.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apple and caramels.
Make sure the caramels aren't stuck together when you add them in. I sprinkled them in a few at a time, separating them by hand.
No clumps!
Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your spring form pan.
Place parchment paper in pan. Spray pan and paper with nonstick spray (or you could butter it).
Pour batter into pan.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients.
Sprinkle topping over batter, making sure the topping covers the batter (I guess you don't have to cover the whole thing with topping, but I highly recommend it for that great caramelized crunch when you bite into the cake!).
Place cake in preheated oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, remove springform rim and savor the goodness!

What have YOU been whisking up lately?
Beauty and Bedlam
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Magazine/Cookbook Monday: The BEST Oatmeal Cookies I EVER ate!

This morning I got to go to a holiday baking class offered by Williams-Sonoma. I went over to my parents house and convinced them to come along with me, so off we trooped to stand in line in eager anticipation of yummy recipes and great tips. We were not disappointed!
The women who were demonstrating the techniques were wonderful and knew their stuff. They eloquently explained to me the difference between three different types of whisks and they also were experts on which type of cooking sprays to use with which type of pans. Turns out you shouldn't use PAM or nonstick sprays on nonstick pans. Good thing I always use parchment. My pans, in case you haven't noticed in my posts, are all second hand and have definitely seen better days. My dad, being the amazingly generous person he is, bought me a BRAND NEW set of bakewear. And not just any bakeware, Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Bakeware Essentials Set.
These pans are AWESOME! I absolutely love them and am so happy to be able to retire my old, overworked pans. Needless to say, this class put me in the baking mood, and on a rainy day like today, oatmeal cookies sounded scrumptious, AND I was VERY eager to try out my new cookie sheets! The oatmeal cookies I made are officially the most amazing oatmeal cookies I have ever eaten! Plumping the raisins in hot water before adding them into the dough makes them succulently juicy. The plump raisins then meld perfectly with the cinnamon and brown sugar and give the cookies a perfect ULTRA chewy texture that is further accented by the hearty oats and crisp coconut. These extra thick cookies are moist and fruity and GIANT! They remind me of those huge oatmeal cookies they sell at Starbucks, but these are way better because they are homemade. I am now cuddled up on my couch with Lola (my adorable dog), perfectly content, blogging with my big cup of tea and humongous cookie. Can you think of any better way to spend a rainy Sunday? I can't!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


1 Cup Raisins
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dried coconut (not shown in picture, I added it in on a whim)

Put the raisins in a bowl, cover them with hot water and set them aside to soak for about 15 minutes, until they are nice and plump. Drain the raisins and pat them dry with paper towels. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or butter/grease if you'd rather). Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Fold 1/2 cup of the dry ingredients and half the beaten eggs into the creamed butter.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and eggs, folding only until the flour is incorporated (I realize this seems tedious but it makes the cookies light and chewy).
Fold in the raisins, oats and nuts. Drop the batter onto the baking sheets about two inches apart(I did about 2 heaping tablespoons batter per cookie).
Lightly press down on the cookies (makes for more even cooking). Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
Cool on wire racks.
Make sure you have a cold glass of milk for dunking!
See? Gigantic!!!

Ahh..... comfort food at its finest...
Have a BEAUTIFUL Monday!

The Girl Creative Keeping It Simple

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pumpkin-Pecan Pie Oatmeal

Yay for the first day of autumn being this week! I happen to love fall. The leaves change, the squirrels gather acorns, pumpkins and squash abound... but mostly I love the warm, comforting flavors that fall brings. Waking up to the cinnamony, yeasty smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls, enjoying a hearty stew with home cooked biscuits, succulent low baked apples bursting with juicy raisins and spicy cinnamon.... but my favorite fall treats are pumpkin and pecan pies. My dad is the king of the pecan pie and last year for thanksgiving he made the ultimate pie - a combination of creamy, spicy pumpkin and crunchy, sugary pecans. The best of both worlds! When I woke up this morning, the crisp feel of fall was in the air and I was craving that pie something fierce. I figured that making a pie for breakfast wasn't the best idea so I googled pumpkin pie oatmeal and came across this scrumptious looking recipe from Good Life Eats. Perfect! It combines pumpkin puree with thick cut oatmeal and a pecan streusel topping. I bought some pecan pie glazed pecans when I was grocery shopping, and while absolutely delicious on their own (seriously, buy some now), they were the perfect way to top off this oatmeal. The oatmeal smelled like pumpkin pie while baking and was ready in about 20 minutes. The flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon along with the crunch of the pecan-brown sugar topping and the hearty warmth of the oats sent me to autumn breakfast heaven. Is it Thanksgiving yet? Cause it sure tastes like it!

Pumpkin-Pecan Pie Oatmeal
Recipe from Good Life Eats
1 cup old fashioned oats, not quick cook
1 Tbs whole flax seeds, optional
2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp butter, softened
1 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4 individual sized ramekins. Set aside.

Combine the oats through salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk. Whisk thoroughly.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oats.
Stir until combined.
Divide mixture evenly between 4 individual sized ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.). Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the topping: chopped pecans, butter, and brown sugar.
After the oatmeal has baked for 10 minutes, remove and divide topping mixture evenly between the ramekins. Bake an additional 7 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Have a wonderful Sunday!

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