Monday, October 25, 2010

Dulce de Leche Cookies

My first experience with dulce de leche was in Russia of all places. I was volunteering for a month with a youth organization to help teach English and run a camp for children and teens. Since the camp was located on an ex-military training site, living conditions were quite bleak. No electricity, no running water, and borscht. Everyday. Served by an extremely intimidating russian woman who would bang on the table with her ginormous soup ladle if you didn't finish what was in your bowl. We secretly called her "the soup nazi".


At the end of the camp week, we had a big celebratory dinner. I was on the dessert making team. We opened can after can of this heavenly creamy caramel stuff and mixed it with........wait for it......butter. Then layered it between stacks of thin 'pizzelle ' like cookies. It was heaven.

I later found out that the heavenly experience was indeed dulce de leche. And it has been near and dear to my heart ever since.

I recently came across this recipe on "Joy the Baker's"food blog. I have to was her blog that got me hooked on food blogs in the first place. Her content is hilarious and her recipes are fabulous! She came up with these little gems and now I'm so excited to share them with you all!

Here's what you need:

Flour, sugar, butter, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, 2 eggs, 2 cans of dulce de leche and some coarse sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or in my case baking spray) and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat 2 sticks of butter until light and fluffy. Yep, you heard me. Two sticks of butter.

Add 3/4 cup of dulce de leche, 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of white sugar to the butter. Mix to combine.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Now add the flour mixture to your mixing bowl and combine. Make sure not to over-mix!

Drop them by heaping teaspoonful's onto a *prepared cookie sheet. (*Note: the recipe actually says to line the pans with wax paper. Since I was out, I just used a baking spray. I think they would have been a little easier with the paper!)

Pop them into a 350 degree preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes. When they are done, let them cool on the pan for about 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

When the cookies have cooled, spread on some more dulce de leche. Sprinkle on a few grains of sea salt and top with another cookie.

There you have it!


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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maple Apple Crisp

Let me start by telling you a story.....

When Steve and I were in college we were introduced by a mutual couple friend of ours at a garage sale. Our eyes met over a lumpy green chair and......he, being the rather quiet, reserved type that he is...began to stutter and blink rapidly while I (still having yet to outgrow my incredible awkwardness around anyone of the opposite sex), blurted out something completely insane and ran off.   Not a very promising beginning.

However, the situation was redeemed when our group of friends decided to go apple picking for Steve's birthday. Steve and I managed to have a few minutes of some fumbling conversation and still my beating heart....he bought me a donut.

Well, you know how it ends.

Each fall we go back to the same orchard and pick excessive amounts of apples and eat excessive amount of donuts. It's tradition.

And each fall I try figure exactly what I'm going to do with the bajillion apples I thought were completely necessary to take home.

Well, I will tell, if you have a bajillion apples (or even only 5) you should make this apple crisp.

Because I can promise, life will be significantly better if you do!

Here's what you need:

Apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar, flour, salt, rolled oats, and butter

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice 5 medium apples and throw them into a bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Now, take 3/4 cup of maple syrup and pour it over your apples. (Btw - use good maple syrup. If you use the fake stuff, thats what it will taste like - fake maple syrup. gross.) Stir until the apples are evenly coated.

Pour the apples into a medium baking dish. (a square 9x9 dish works just fine).

Now we're going to make my favorite part....

In a medium bowl, add 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

With a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until everything is combined and resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle evenly over your apples.

Bake for about 35 minutes. (Or until golden brown and bubbly).

Let it cool for a while, then serve!



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Super Awesome Chili

So, I've thought long and hard about whether or not to add "other" food to Chasin' Cakes. I mean, there's more to life than just desserts right? Right?

Well anyways, the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" was chili. Not just any chili, but this chili. It's perhaps one of the most soul warming soup dishes I've ever made. And I had to share it with you!

Here's what you need:

Vegetable oil, minced garlic, 2 medium onions, 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. cubed sirloin, 1 bottle of dark beer, 1 cup of strong coffee, beef broth, brown sugar, cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, italian seasoning, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, chipotle peppers in adobo, salt, pepper

Heat 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a large soup pot. 

Chop up 2 medium onions.

Add the ground beef, cubed sirloin, chopped onions, and 3 cloves of minced garlic to the heated oil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is browned. 

 When the meat is browned add one 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.

Then pour in your 1 bottle of dark beer. I used Guinness, but by all means, use what you like.

Then pour in one cup of really strong coffee. Exciting stuff.

Add in two small cans of tomato paste.

And 14 oz. of beef broth.

Now we're going to add in all of our spices: 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 3 1/2 Tbsp. of chili powder, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. salt. Add it all in.

Now we're going to add in the secret weapon. Chipotle chilies. 

Chop up two and add them in. Attractive looking aren't they? 

Now add in two of the 4 cans of kidney beans. Simmer for an hour and half. 

When an hour and half has gone by, add in the other two cans of kidney beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Trust's all worth the wait. 

When it done, serve with a nice dollop of sour cream and enjoy!!

~ Megan 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sauce

So, I've been a little absent from the world of "Chasin' Cakes" for the last two weeks. But I intend to make it up to you with something very special! This my friends, is a recipe very near and dear to my heart. I remember asking my mom to make this for my birthday several times in place of a birthday cake. This is like comfort food to the max. The kind you curl up with in front of a big roaring fire - (or in my case, my fireplace screensaver.) And it's ridiculously easy to make. Don't be fooled by it's rather homely appearance. This is by far, one of my favorite desserts on the planet!!

So here's what you need to get started:

Brown sugar, butter, an egg, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, flour, white sugar, salt, and 3 apples.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a 9'x 9' square baking pan.

Mix together 1 cup of packed brown sugar with 1/4 cup of butter that has been softened. 

Add in 1 egg and keep on mixing!

Then add the rest of your dry ingredients: 1 cups of flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. salt. Mix until it's just combined. 

 Now, peel core and chop up 3 medium sized apple. (I used macintosh, but you can really use any good baking apple). We have this handy-dandy peeler/slicer thing that looks like some sort of medieval torture device. But oh does it speed things up!

Chase is just dying for an apple bit to somehow miss the bowl.....

Add in 2 cups of the chopped apples the batter. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour into your greased baking dish and pop it into the oven for about 30 minutes. 

When it's out of the oven, start making the sauce. (My absolute favorite part!)

In a saucepan, heat 1/3 cup of butter, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of milk, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Stir until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Easy as that!

Spoon some sauce over big slice of cake and enjoy!