Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chocolate and Walnut Fudge! Diet? What Diet? It's the Holidays, Yo!

It's the Holiday Season, ya'll!


Where each week is filled with a flurry of activity, parties and get togethers, running here and there, listening to scads of Christmas music, and endless shopping in search of the perfect gifts.  To say this time of year is busy would be an understatement.


When I'm not namaste-ing my ass off in the morning before work, sitting behind my desk, and vegging out on the couch, I'm wrapping gifts.  I love wrapping presents.  I can't even tell you enough how much I absolutely adore wrapping presents.

I was raised so that any gift under the tree should have a bow.   For Christmas, a wide variety of wrapping paper is always best so that each gift or almost every gift under the tree has a different look.

I love it.  I giving people presents and seeing the look on their faces when they unwrap the gift I specifically and especially chose for them.  There are few things in the world that make me happier.


And since it's the holidays, what gathering or what Christmas season would be complete without fudge?

I normally make Orange Icebox cookies during this season.  They're delicious and I have very fond memories of sitting at my kitchen table with my parents decorating cookies with colorful bright sprinkles.  It's my grandmother's recipe and they are more wonderful than I can even put into words.  Will you be getting the recipe? Not this time.  I've been really busy lately and didn't have the time to make and decorate those.


Instead, I chose to make my mother's tried-and-true fudge recipe for Chris, his coworkers and the awesome team of all-stars that I work with.

Fudge isn't complicated.  It's not difficult, and it isn't crazy time consuming.  It's quite simple, contains few ingredients, and is a magnificent holiday staple you can serve at a pot-luck or put in a pretty tin and give to people.

I'm going to share with you my mom's basic, decadent, and sinfully yummy chocolate walnut fudge.  I know there are a variety of ways to make and approach fudge and like a Southerner's gumbo, people can be very territorial over their fudge recipe.


Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Makes a 9"x13" pan serving 56 1" pieces

Ingredients
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk
1 1/3 c. sugar
3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 c. mini marshmallows
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 T. vanilla
1/3 c. melted white chocolate chips (optional - for garnish)
Coconut Oil Spray (optional - for the garnish)

Method
1. Grease a 9"x13" casserole dish with butter (be generous - grease the bottom as well as the sides and corners)

2. In a large pot over medium-low heat, cook evaporated milk and sugar.  Allow sugar to melt and fully incorporate, simmering for 5 minutes.  Be sure to constantly stir.





3. Remove pot from heat and add chocolate chips, marshmallows, walnuts and vanilla.  Stir until the marshmallows have fully melted and incorporated.
 
 
4. Pour mixture into the pre-greased 9"x13" pan and spread evenly.  Allow to cool.

5. For the white chocolate chip garnish, melt chocolate chips in a microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds until chocolate chips are fully melted.  Spray in coconut oil, a little at a time to get to a pourable/drizzleable consistency.

6. Once your fudge has cooled and your melted white chocolate is to the desired consistency, using a fork or a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over the chocolate fudge in a pattern you think looks lovely.
7. After fudge has fully cooled (it took mine about a day), slice and try not to eat the whole batch.   Wrapped in Saran Wrap or stored in an air-tight container, these bad boys can stay fresh for a week or two.


I should probably apologize for not having a photo of the individual fudge pieces but they were gone before I could think to snap a quick picture.  Oops. I guess that's what you get for making a really good dish.

I'll be taking a week off from writing while Chris the pup and I visit my family for Christmas.  We're hoping to leave later today to avoid some of the impending snow that the area will be getting. Plus then it's more time for ice fishing and snacking on whatever goodies my mom and dad cooked up for Christmas.   Probably my diet is going to be going to hell but running around on the ice with Roux, playing fetch with her should balance things out....right?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guinness and Chocolate. You're Welcome, World.

They say the fastest way to a guy's heart is through his stomach.  If that's the case, I'm pretty sure I'm firmly embedded into Chris's left ventricle.


It's no secret that I love cooking for people, especially Chris.  It's also no secret that many times, when he asks for a recipe, I gladly deliver.

This time is no exception.

One night while relaxing, Chris firmly stated, "I want you to make me a cake".


Naturally, I had a million questions to ask about what kind of cake he wanted, what kind of frosting he wanted, if he wanted a square cake or a round cake and so on and so forth until his ears were bleeding.


After getting a few specifics, I went in search of a cake that could satisfy even the most demanding of honed Cajun palates.  No vanilla box cake with a canister of frosting would do here.  Oh no.  I looked all over Pinterest, Epicurious, and did some random Google searches that led me into the internet wormhole.

And low and behold, somewhere between a Viagra advertisement and countless Drake memes,  I found this amazing cake.  It's a Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

Chocolate - check.
Cream Cheese Icing - check.
Beer - check.

I like cooking with booze more often than not because I'm a damn adult and I had to wait 21 years to do so.  So I'm going to cook with a bottle or two of beer and it's going to be delicious, dammit.

There are a million and seven different recipes for Guinness Chocolate Cake out there.  I happened to find one that the blogger I spotted it on claimed to be the best and most amazing Guinness cake she's ever had or made.  

She wasn't lying.

And rather than just make a single cake as she did, I chose to make a cake for Chris and some cupcakes for a friend's birthday.

And I also have ridiculous willpower because short of a few small slices after particularly healthy meals over the span of a few nights, and short of a lick of the spatula after pouring the batter into cake pans, I haven't taken any bits of this cake down to pound town like I normally would.

I also like the fact that my previous post talked about getting back on the wagon and eating healthy, and here I am giving you an calorific, fat-filled, amazedicks recipe that is by no means healthy.  What normal person wouldn't follow up a super healthy recipe with one for a giant cake?

It makes sense. Really.


Guinness Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 3-tiered 8-inch round chocolate cake or approximately 48 cupcakes
(or 1 2-tiered 8-inch round and 12 cupcakes as I did)

Ingredients
--- For the Cake ---
2 c. Guinness
2 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 c. all purpose flour
4 c. sugar
1 T. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
4 lg. eggs
1 1/3 c. sour cream

--- For the Icing ---
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
6 c. powdered sugar

--- Extras ---
Muffin Tin liners
Coconut Oil or Vegetable Oil Spray
1/2 stick butter (for the cake tins)
Parchment Paper (for the cake tins)


Method
--- To Make the Cake---
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F,

2, Butter 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch high sizes and line bottoms with parchment paper.  Butter the paper  or if you're making cupcakes, line cupcake tins with muffin cups and spray lightly with oil spray.

3. Simmer Guinness and 2 cups of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Slowly add cocoa powder, whisking until mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.

4. Transfer mixture to the freezer and let cool for approximately 15 minutes.

5. While the Guinness mixture is cooling, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to blend.

6. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.

7. Slowly add the slightly-cooled Guinness mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed until combined.

8. Add the flour mixture in small batches, beating briefly.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl and fold to ensure the mix is thoroughly combined.

9. Divide batter equally between cake tins and/or muffin pans.  Tap pans on the counter to loosen any air bubbles.  Bake in your preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean, about 40-45 minutes for the cakes or 20 minutes for the cupcakes.  (Note: This step will depend on the temperature of your oven and how much you fill your cake pans and/or muffin tins).

10. Once cakes are cooked, transfer pans to wire rack until cooled.  Carefully turn cake out onto wire rack to ensure cakes are completely cooled.  Even out tops and decrumb.
 




---To Make Icing---
1. Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth with no lumps remaining.

2. Add vanilla extract and salt.  Mix until combined.  Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add in powdered sugar, allowing mix to combine before adding any more powdered sugar.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl to ensure mixture is thoroughly combined.



---Frost that Cake, Yo----
Frost with cream cheese frosting once cake has cooled.  Keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days.




Nutrition and Whatnot (per serving)
You don't want to know.



Also note that I didn't decrumb my cake so in the above photo, you see some crumbs in the cream cheese.  Oh well.  I'm not the perfect food-photographer. I'm taking these photos with a Samsung Galaxy 4 for Christ sakes.  Sure I could spend a bunch of money and get a real camera, but then all I would take is photos of my dog and I'm already obnoxious with that as it is.


Plus after standing in my kitchen for a few hours making this cake, I didn't feel like standing anymore.  I was feeling lazy and it was time for wine.



Also. Shout out to my dog.  Who is now a gif and therefore internet famous. #ballin  #ridiculous


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let Me Blow Ya mind - Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini Pasta.

Well my fat ass is getting back on the workout and healthy eating grind.

I honestly missed being in the gym and I've missed eating  healthy.

I think the tipping point was right around Thanksgiving when I happened to be out shopping for a dress to wear for a few holiday parties, tried on the appropriate size, took one look at my stomach in the mirror, turned around to look at my booty, and just about fainted.


Shitballs.

And while I refused to go up a size and threw the dress halfway across the dressing room before relegating myself to a new pair of leggings and a cute sweater, I decided it was time to dust off the wagon and climb back on.

So here I am.

And to be honest, I haven't really gained anything back from my Exercizapalooza-stint this summer.  I stepped on the scale, took some measurements and didn't immediately want to slit my wrists.  So that's something.

Anyway.  Back in the gym, back to turning down fried crab rangoon in favor of something lighter, and back to turning recipes healthy...here I am.


And speaking of recipes, I think I need to migrate over to Wordpress. Or find some kind of plugin for my blog that allows for printable recipes.  I'd probably get more than 6 readers if I did that.

Probably I need to take better pictures.  But it's really hard when your kitchen is about as well-lit as a Soviet Union prison and the only thing your camera is really good for anyway is texting bitches....because it's actually just a phone and you decided to go with capabilities other than taking fucking pictures when you picked out the camera.

I digress.

So I'm about to drop something on your taste buds that takes a comfort food like spaghetti and meatballs to a whole new, healthyass level.  You get the great flavor of meatballs with a super yummy tomato sauce without worrying that you can't fit into the dress you'll need for your holiday parties.  Winner winner chicken meatball dinner.  What's the secret besides ground chicken?  Zucchini.   Instead of spaghetti or pasta, I'm using julienned zucchini to act as my "pasta". And before you wrinkle up your nose and tell me to shove the zucchini up my ass, trust me.  It's marvelous.


I made enough of the chicken meatballs so that Chris and I would have plenty of leftovers.  I've always found that the more prepared in the kitchen I am, and the more I can plan out my meals, the easier it is to stick to the food I've got and the less likely I am to run out for an extra large Chipotle burrito. God damn I love Chipotle.


I do have to give credit where credit is due for this recipe since I didn't come up with it on my own.  I snagged this recipe from Bodybuilding.com and the FitMenCook recipe contest.  If you've never heard of FitMenCook, head on over to www.fitmencook.com and prepare to get your mind blown.  He has tons of great, healthy and flavorful recipes.  

I will say that I made a few changes from the original recipe like using a fat-free feta cheese instead of the goat cheese and also using Panko instead of the Quest protein chips.   I also was able to yield more meatballs than the original recipe called for.

Chicken Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Zucchini Pasta
Makes 4  deliciously amazeballs servings

Ingredients
16 oz. Lean Ground Chicken
2 Large Eggs
1/3 c. Panko Bread Crumbs (plain)
2 T. Dried Oregano (divided)
3 T. Minced Garlic (2 T. for the chicken meatballs, 1 T. for the sauce)
1/2 c. Diced Red Onion (small dice)
1/4 c. Low Fat Feta Cheese (full fat, or goat cheese if you prefer)
6 medium roma tomatoes (small dice, seeds removed)
1 c. Canned Tomato Sauce (no salt added)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
3 large Zucchini

Method
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix ground chicken, eggs, panko crumbs, 1 T. oregano, 2 T. garlic, onion, feta cheese, and salt and black pepper.

3. Form small golf-ball sized meatballs and place on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet.  I made about 18 meatballs of equal size.

4. Bake in your preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.  Remove and adjust racks to allow for broiling to brown and crisp the meatballs.  Return pan to the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes or until meatballs have been deliciously browned.

5. While the meatballs are baking, make your sauce by preheating a nonstick skillet on medium-high.  Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and add remaining garlic and oregano.  Cook for 2 minutes, continuously stirring. Add diced tomatoes to the skillet and stir,  Add tomato sauce, stir, and reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.

6. Shred the zucchini using a julienne peeler, spiralizer, or mandolin with a julienne insert.

7. When chicken meatballs are done, add zucchini "pasta" to a plate, top with 4 meatballs and finish  with the sauce.   Enjoy!

Nutrition and Whatnot (per serving)
377 calories.  13 g. fat.  29 g. carbs. 34 g. protein.