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Archive for June, 2010

Panini with chocolate and brie

This sounded amazing, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up before making it. Chocolate+cheese+herbs? Luckily, the combo was fantastic. I used my homemade ciabatta, and splurged by using olive oil instead of my olive oil spray. I can’t say I’ll make this too often, but I really really liked it! I skipped the step about toasting the bread before adding the fillings.

Panini with chocolate and brie (Giada)


  • 12 slices sourdough bread
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves


Preheat the panini grill.

Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on 1 slice of bread (the bottom half), top the cheese with 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with the remaining sandwiches. Return the sandwiches to the panini grill until the chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes.

Cut the sandwiches into 2-inch wide rectangles or small triangles and transfer to a serving platter.


Chicken with shallot-raspberry sauce

With a few additions, this chicken dish turned out really nice. I brined my chicken breasts before cooking, and seasoned with S&P and thyme. I (obviously) used raspberry preserves instead of apricot. Once the brining was done, this dish took maybe 15 minutes. Not bad! After slicing, toss the chicken in the thickened sauce.

Chicken with Shallot-Apricot Sauce
serves 4

For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
salt and pepper

Season each chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until they develop a golden brown crust. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through.

When the chicken is finished cooking, remove from the pan, set on a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm. Return the heat to high and add the 1/4 cup of chicken broth, de-glazing the pan and scraping the brown bits from the bottom.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium to large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to get soft and the bottom of the pan begins to brown.

Add the 1/2 cup chicken broth to the shallots, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan while the broth reduces. Add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the apricot jam and stir to combine. The sauce will thicken but should still be easily stirred.

To serve, slice the chicken, drizzle with the pan juices, and top with the shallot-apricot mixture.

Stuffed Italian burgers

This was a great idea for a burger, thanks Annie’s Eats! Lots of good flavor, and the additions like the basil ketchup, garlic butter, and pancetta really did something amazing. I liked the burger itself, but we had a few issues. The burgers puffed up while cooking, so they ended up being really tall. I totally forgot to push down with my thumb. Second, the two layers started to separate while cooking. Not too bad though. Third, I decided to season the edges of the burger right before cooking (as recommended by lots of chefs), but next time I would mix the salt and pepper in the burgers. The seasoned crust of the burger was freaking delicious, but the other beef wasn’t too flavorful. I probably didn’t add enough Italian seasonings or balsamic. It had plenty of garlic and onions though!

This is a garlic-y burger, but totally worth it. Garlic in the burger, ketchup, and butter. Note to self – Jacob isn’t a huge ketchup fan. I could use that garlic butter in so many ways, I only wish I made more! I used homemade burger buns from when I made burgers at home.

UPDATE: I made these again, and they were phenomenal! I made many many adjustments and they were well worth it. I wanted to make them like a Juicy Lucy burger but with the Italian flavors. I used provolone cheese and put chopped basil inside the patties. I thought I used a lot of basil, but next time I would use 3-4 basil leaves per burger. For the meat, I used garlic and onion powder instead of fresh garlic and onion so the burgers would have a smoother consistency. I added a little less than 1 tsp Italian seasoning and a little less than 1 tsp salt for about 10 oz of ground beef. I used a tablespoon or more of balsamic and added a handful of panko. I split the meat into four patties and flattened them as much as possible. Then I put cheese in the middle and closed up my burgers, pinching the sides very well. I sprinkled the sides of the burger with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning before searing in my cast iron skillet. I made the basil ketchup and added balsamic. I sauteed some proscuitto slices and topped the patties with it. I loved loved the garlic butter and used plenty on my toasted buns. I also used the garlic butter when I made meatball subs. Those used my favorite marinara from Giada (with the addition of white wine and herbs), my new favorite funky meatballs from Cooks Illustrated, provolone, and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe French Bread Sub Rolls. Those sub rolls were good, but maybe I can find another recipe that is a little better. I let them rise so much after shaping (5 for a half recipe) and they were huge! Also, they weren’t sturdy enough to hold up to slashing. The one roll I slashed deflated so much, it was just pathetic. I reshaped, let it rise again, and then baked haha.

UPDATE 3/12:

I made these again, with a little more tweaking. Here’s what went into the burger:

  • <1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 slices ish prosciutto, chopped in food processor after brief time in freezer
  • Homemade bread crumbs, maybe 1/4 cup
  • 2 big spoonfuls marinara sauce
  • Heaping tablespoon basil and parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each Italian seasoning, salt, pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • I don’t think I added an egg.
This made a burger that was extremely juicy and a tiny bit crumbly. Just like the bbq bacon sliders. But Jacob and I really like the style of burger with a lot of mix ins/flavors. It held together enough to remain a burger, and when you bite into it, the meat just melts in your mouth. I melted mozzarella on top and served with marinara and fresh basil. OMG good.


Stuffed Italian Burgers (Annie’s Eats)

Yield: 3 burgers
For the patties:
1 lb. ground sirloin
2 tbsp. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. black pepper
1-2 dashes of balsamic vinegar
Sliced fresh mozzarella (I used shredded, but fresh would be better)
Fresh basil leaves
6 slices pancetta (I just had two, so I sauteed them and added them to the burger separate)

For the basil ketchup:
½ cup ketchup
Handful fresh basil leaves (about ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic
½ tsp. red pepper flakes

For serving:
Kaiser rolls
Garlic butter
Fresh tomato slices
Green lettuce

To make the patties, combine the ground sirloin, onion, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl.  Mix well to thoroughly combine.  Divide the mixture into three equal portions; divide each of these further into halves so that you have 6 equal portions of the meat mixture.   Form each portion into a thin, round patty.  Place a slice of fresh mozzarella and a few basil leaves on top of three of the patties.  Lay the remaining patties on top of these, sandwiching the mozzarella in the center.  Pinch the edges of the patties together to form one large patty with the cheese in the center.  Wrap 2 slices of pancetta around each patty.  Preheat the grill.

While the grill is heating, make the basil ketchup.  Combine the ketchup, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined and finely chopped.  Set aside.

Cook the burgers on the preheated grill until cooked to your desired doneness and until the cheese inside has melted.  Just before the burgers are done cooking, split the Kaiser rolls in half.  Toast the buns and then spread with garlic butter.  Assemble the cooked burgers on the rolls with fresh lettuce, tomato, and basil ketchup as desired.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika


  1. In a small bowl, combine softened butter, minced garlic and parmesan cheese. Season with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and paprika. Mix until smooth.

Artichoke and sun dried tomato stuffed chicken breasts

The filling was really really delicious. Unfortunately, it had to be surrounded by a boring old chicken breast. If I made this again, the filling would become a topping and the chicken breast would be cooked seperately, possibly after marinating or brining. Stuffing chicken seems like a cool idea, but it’s not easy to make it look good or taste better than just OK.

So it’s a nice idea, but I’m turned off on the idea of stuffing meat. I remember making a stuffed pork, and having the same feelings.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves (I used basil)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


In a saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and saute until translucent. Stir in the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the salt, pepper and garlic. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, deglaze with 1/4 cup of the white wine. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter, allow it to melt, then toss in the Parmesan and parsley.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stuffing the chicken breast.

Rinse, trim and pound out chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thick. Do not over-pound as holes in the chicken will make it difficult for the chicken to retain the stuffing.

Put 1/4 of the stuffing mixture at 1 end of a chicken breast. Gentle roll the chicken breast folding the ends in to help keep the stuffing from coming out during the cooking process. Secure the chicken roll with 2 toothpicks. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts and stuffing.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a medium saute pan over high heat. Add the chicken breasts, with the secured side of the chicken first, to insure the roll with stay together. Brown the chicken on all sides, add remaining butter, and deglaze with remaining white wine.

Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. (I added some chicken stock and later water, just to steam the chicken) Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and discard the toothpicks. Slice each breast on a bias into 5 pieces and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with remaining pan drippings, garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan and serve.

Orange sour cream cake

I just saw this cake the other day, but something told me I HAD to make it right away. It seemed very low-maintenance and simple to make, and I love a good moist cake. It was the perfect dessert to have in between all of the rich, chocolate-ly multiple step desserts I’ve been making and planning on making. The glaze made a nice crust and the corner pieces were especially juicy, yum!

This cake was really similar to Paula’s orange brownies, so I did a recipe comparision. Paula’s recipe for the brownies has 1/2 of the flour, same amount of butter and eggs, more sugar and salt, and orange extract (which I subbed vanilla extract for when I made them.) The cake has baking powder and sour cream. I also added about 1/2 tsp of vanilla to my cake.

Orange Sour Cream Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp orange zest
2 large eggs
1/2 cup orange juice, preferably fresh
1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar (granulated, not confectioners’)
3 1/2 tbsp orange juice, preferably fresh

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and orange zest until light. Add in eggs one at a time, and beat mixture until smooth and well-combined. Mix in one third of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Mix in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the orange juice. Stir in all remaining flour, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

When the cake has finished baking, whisk together glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake. Allow glaze to soak in while cake cools. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing.

Serves 8.

Black and white rice krispies

Nice and gooey, just the way I like it! Although, I will admit, I preferred the vanilla half over the chocolate. But the contrast was nice, and I liked the size of the treats. I also like this recipe because it has clear measurements, so it’s really easy to halve. (Or quarter!)

Black and White Rice Krispie Treats
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 1/2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups mini marshmallows (or 40 reg marshmallows), divided
6 1/2 cups Rice Krispies/rice bubble cereal, divided
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I left these out)

Line 18 muffin tins (1 1/2 standard 12-cup trays) with paper liners.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt 2 tbsp butter, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Stir frequently to fully incorporate cocoa and to prevent scorching. Add 2 cups mini marshmallows and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy and melted. Add in 3 1/4 cups rice krispies and stir to combine, making sure chocolate covers the whole batch. Stir in mini chocolate chips and divide mixture evenly among prepared muffin tins, filling each 1/2 way up.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt 2 tbsp butter and mini marshmallows in microwave for 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows are fluffy and butter is completely melted. Add in vanilla and remaining 3 1/4 cups rice krispies and stir to coat every rice krisp (feel free to scrape in a little bit of vanilla bean, if you like).
Divide evenly among chocolate-filling muffin tins, filling each the rest of the way up.
Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or let set at room temperature before serving.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 18

Italian bread

I needed a easy bread for my upcoming sandwiches, so I went Italian today. I liked the last Italian bread I made, but I didn’t want to use brown sugar again. I went with an Italian bread recipe from Amanda’s cookin, but loosely followed Brown Eyed Baker’s directions for baking. I preheated the oven (at 400, to compromise) with the baking sheet inside. I should have let the loaves rise a second time on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or flour, but I forgot. So the transfer to the oven was a little messy. My slicing of the top was just as horrible as last time, the edges were ragged and ugly. I brushed with egg white before baking and rubbed with butter afterwards.

I should have spray the loaves with water before putting them in the oven, that’s pretty standard for Italian breads. Btw, I learned that Italian breads are traditionally used to soak up pasta sauces, so they have few holes and a smooth crumb. The oil, or shortening in this case, makes the bread a little richer and softer than French bread. The bread was chewy and the crust was thick and crunchy, and it made me thirsty! I loved the flavor too.

Major plus was that the dough was really easy to work with. I kneaded it with the dough hook for about 7 minutes after mixing.

Italian Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 T. shortening, melted or oil
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
4 c. flour (I used half bread flour, half all purpose)

Sprinkle yeast on water in large bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, and half of flour. Stir to combine.

Add melted shortening and rest of flour. Mix well. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes.

Place dough into a greased bowl in warm place and cover with towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down and knead for one minute. Divide in half and shape in loaves (roll up and pinch very tightly).

Place on greased cookie sheet, seam side down, slice top with white sharp knife, then cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Can be brushed with butter afterwards or brushed with egg white before and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

Allow to cool on a rack for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Here are the directions for my old Italian bread recipe. (From Brown Eyed Baker and Dawn’s Recipes)

Stir the yeast into ½ cup of the warm water. Let proof as you measure out the dry ingredients.

Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture, remaining water and olive oil. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on lowest speed of electric mixer (stir setting on a KitchenAid) until a dough starts to form, adding more flour as needed. Knead on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and need by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

Remove the plastic wrap, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with tapered and rounded (not pointed) ends.

Preheat the oven lined with a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles to 425°F.

Place the dough on a baker’s peel heavily dusted with flour, or alternately on an inverted baking sheet. Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a floured canvas cloth, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash the dough lengthwise about 1/4-inch deep, keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle.

Spray the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place in the oven on the baking stone. Immediately close the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Open the oven door and spray the dough again with the water bottle. Close the oven door and bake for an additional 3 minutes before spraying the dough for a third time (the spraying of the dough will ensure a crisp golden brown crust).

Bake the dough for a total of 45 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.