Saturday, May 30, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cake with Sparkling Cider Glaze

Cake isn't made very often in our house, but I'd been craving cake the last few days.  It came to a head while we were both being lazy at home and I decided I only had the energy to make one recipe - it was either cake or focaccia.  Cake won out.

I didn't know what kind of cake I wanted to make though.  I was in pajamas and didn't feel like getting dressed to go to the store for any ingredients.  I knew we had the basics for cake, but wasn't sure what else we had to do something "different".  Browsing through our 11th Edition Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (the one cook book everyone should have), I found a recipe for an oatmeal cake.  Never heard of an oatmeal cake before!

I made a few personal preference adjustments to the recipe and it came out great!  I initially wasn't going to make a frosting or a glaze for the cake - Justin and I generally don't care for either.  But I decided this needed just a little something, looked in the fridge, had some Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider and thought that would work just fine with cinnamon, raisin and oatmeal.  Admittedly, I didn't use all of the glaze... but I think most people seem to like their sweets, sweet

Cake was real moist.  Tastes like oatmeal!  Reminds me a little of a coffee cake.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for us.

I got a little ska action for this recipe.  Reel Big Fish, "Everyone Else Is An Asshole".  -jen

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Serves:  12
  • 1-1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup raisins
In a small bowl, pour boiling water over oats and let sit for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer or stand mixer on high for 30 seconds.  Add sugars and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.

Alternately add dry mixture and oatmeal, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Stir in raisins and pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Remove sides from pan and cool an additional hour.  Drizzle with Apple Cider Glaze (see recipe below) and serve.  (Glaze will harden as it cools.)

  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sparkling apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
Whisk together all ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pork Pot Stickers (Chinese Dumplings) & Dipping Sauce

I've been having a serious craving for good Chinese food and unfortunately, there's no Chinese food
restaurants in our little town that we like.  We had our wedding catered in '08 by a friend who owned the best Chinese restaurant in town, but the building burned down a few years later and she never reopened it.  We've been without good Chinese food in town and the solution to that - make it ourselves.

While these are mildly time consuming, they're actually fairly easy to make.  If two people can get together and make them, it makes it much faster.  One person can be chopping vegetables while the other is adding them to the pork with the wet ingredients.  Then during assembly time, one person can be scooping the mix onto the wraps while the other pinches and seals the dumplings.  Team work!

We always have a ton of vegetables in our house, so we actually had a lot of the ingredients already and it didn't cost us much at all.  If you have to buy all the vegetables and end up with leftovers, just chop it all up for a salad - we eat cabbage and vegetable salads all the time.  Or soup would be another good option for the leftover cabbage, pepper, onion, carrot... man, you could make a killer soup!  

I went old school for tunes with this recipe and pulled out X's "Nausea".  I got to see them a few times in Chicago.  I always think of John Doe (bass player) in the movie "Great Balls of Fire" as Winona Ryder's dad.  I love that movie.  It's so terrible and cheesy and awesome. -jen

Prep Time:  about 45 minutes
Rest Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  6 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  about 80
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup cabbage (Napa or green), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    We've been buying poblano peppers instead of bell peppers because
    they're significantly cheaper and similar in flavour!

  • 1/2 cup green onions, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sambal (Asian chili paste)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (plus extra for dusting)
  • about 80 round pot sticker/wonton wrappers
  • oil for frying (vegetable, canola, peanut, etc)
  • water for sealing and steaming
Pork and vegetable mix
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (except the wonton wrappers, oil and water) until well mixed.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (but you can refrigerate longer).

Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with corn starch and set aside.  Have a small bowl of water for your assembly.  I worked with 9 at a time on a cutting board, keeping the unused ones covered with plastic wrap so they don't dry out.  Place 1 teaspoon of filling into center of wrapper.  Wet edge of wrapper and fold over, crimping/pinching edges together to seal.  Place pot sticker on the corn starched baking sheet.

 (If you don't want to cook all 80 pot stickers, you can freeze them uncooked on the baking sheet for about an hour, then put in a freezer bag and freeze for later.)

In a large skillet (that has a fitted lid), heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over a medium high heat.  Add pot stickers to pan, one at a time, in a single layer. (In our 11" skillet, we could fit 18-20 at once.) Do not over-crowd.  Fry for 2 minutes until light golden-brown.  Add 1/3 cup of water, cover and steam for 2 minutes.  Remove lid and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.  If you do a second batch, just add more oil to the pan and let it get hot before adding your second batch and repeat.

Serve hot with dipping sauce (see recipe below).

I like to put the veggies in,
then pour the wet ingredients over them
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
In a small bowl, add all ingredients.  You can use immediately, but if you make it before you start assembling your pot stickers and stick it in the fridge to let the flavours marry, it tastes way better!