Dark chocolate bundt cake

I missed Foodie Friday because I was flying back from DC (and I couldn’t get WiFi to work on my computer in not one, but two airports, and I was not in the right frame of mind to post anything on either of my flights), but as of this morning I definitely have a recipe to share! I recognize that my webpage is quickly becoming a cake-only zone again, but this one is a must-try. I wanted to make a chocolate cake yesterday so I searched through all my recipes on Pinterest, and settled on this chocolate sour cream bundt cake. I was just going to use regular unsweeetened cocoa powder, but then I found Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa at the grocery store when I was buying sour cream for the cake. It’s like it was meant to be! So as I was mixing up the batter I realized that there were a few things about the original recipe that I wanted to change. In the end I changed so many things that I think I can safely call this dark chocolate bundt cake recipe mine and not anyone else’s! And you know I wouldn’t claim it as my own if it wasn’t absolutely delicious! This cake is incredibly moist and it has an incredible chocolate flavor. Go make one right now!

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 c sour cream, at room temperature
1/3 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder (next time I’ll try 1/2 c or more)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (netx time I’ll try just 1 tsp)
2 c all-purpose flour

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave – about 1 minute on HIGH. Add the sugars and stir until combined. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool to room temperature (just a few minutes). Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and cocoa powder. (A chocolately as the cake turned out with the recommended 1/3 c of cocoa powder, next time I’ll use at least 1/2 c or more.) Add salt, baking soda (next time I’ll try a little less), and flour. Stir until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Spread the batter into a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan, making sure that all surfaces are carefully coated with cooking spray, preferably one with flour. You don’t want any part of the cake to stick to the pan! Bake at 350 deg F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before inverting the cake onto the rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Loosely based on Two Peas and Their Pod’s Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake.

Foodie Friday – Perfect chocolate chip cookie bars

At long last, it’s time for me to share my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe! I know you’ve all been waiting for it with bated breath! Well, after baking about forty batches of chocolate chip cookies in the last year and a half I’ve discovered that the recipes I liked the most all had a few things in common – 1) Brown butter, 2) Brown sugar, and 3) Sea salt. So I kept those ingredients constant and varied the others until I found just the right combination. There’s not really a “secret ingredient” in these cookies – you probably already have all of the necessary items in your pantry. But keep in mind that this is based on my own experience so this recipe is completely customizable. You can use a mix of white and brown sugar if you’d prefer, you can leave out the salt, you can add other extracts (almond or maple would be good), and you can use any add-ins you want (like toffee, nuts, or M&M’s – yum!). I make these cookies any time I want to impress someone so I think they’re absolutely perfect. Go mix up a batch and see what you think!

1/2 c (1 stick) salted butter
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips
Sea salt

Place the brown sugar into a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon to break up any clumps. In a medium saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat. This should take just 5-8 minutes so keep an eye on it because it will burn quickly. When the butter is a nice golden brown color, immediately pour it over the brown sugar (as fast as possible because it will continue to cook in the saucepan until you do), using a spatula to make sure to get all of the yummy brown bits into the bowl, and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press the dough into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 min or until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Two Peas and Their Pod’s M&M Chocolate Chip Blondies and Picky Palate’s Brown Butter and Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Spaghetti sauce

Since I’m too brain dead from a 10-hour day of work starting at 2:30 AM and only a very short nap this afternoon, how about an updated recipe for today’s post? I went to three stores after work to gather the ingredients for dinner – Target for whole wheat pasta, Ralph’s for tomato products, and Whole Foods for the meat. Dan and I have been tweaking this spaghetti sauce recipe every time we have it for dinner and I think our collaboration has yielded a fantastic result. Enjoy!

1/2 lb ground lamb
2 raw pork bratwursts (1/3 lb each), casings removed
1 c diced onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cinnamon
Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
Yellow mustard
Lime juice
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti, cooked

Brown the lamb and bratwurst in a large skillet with the onion and garlic. When the meat is fully cooked, add the oregano, cinnamon, and a generous sprinkling of salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until the spices are well incorporated and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes (the lid will keep it from splattering everywhere). Add two generous squirts of both mustard and lime juice and stir to combine. Continue simmering, partially covered, for another ten minutes or until the sauce is the desired thickness. Toss with cooked whole wheat spaghetti. Trust me, it’s delicious!

Favorite Recipes #3 – World’s Best Lasagna

Until I can get my act together and write a decent post, I offer my outrageously delicious (if I do say so myself) lasagna recipe as a placeholder. I originally published this on my Livejournal back in 2008, but it’s definitely good enough to deserve a re-post. Enjoy!

If my name is ever tied to a particular recipe, I hope it’s this one. I don’t have the nerve to call it “Lauren’s Lasagna” or “Mrs. Feller’s Lasagna” just yet, though. Maybe one day. Soon after Dan and I moved into our house I was ecstatic to find a lasagna recipe without ricotta cheese. I really don’t like that stuff. The recipe was great as printed, but I’ve made a few critical improvements and now it’s amazing.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground sausage
1 cup diced green pepper (about 1 medium pepper)
1 cup diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
3 cans tomato paste (6 oz each)
2 cans tomato sauce (8 oz each)
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
12 no boil lasagna noodles (or equivalent for 4 layers)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz sliced provolone cheese (12 slices)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook beef and sausage until meat is no longer pink. Add green pepper and onion when the meat is about halfway done. Remove from heat and stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and cider vinegar.

In a large casserole dish (13x9x2 inches or larger), spread 1/4 of the meat sauce, layer with 4 lasagna noodles, and cover with another 1/4 of the sauce. Finish off the layers as follows: mozzarella cheese, 4 noodles, 1/4 of the meat sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, 4 noodles, last 1/4 of the meat sauce, and Provolone cheese (slices layered to cover everything). Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degF for 45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

To save time, the lasagna can be assembled a day early and refrigerated uncooked overnight. Just follow directions to prepare lasagna, cover with aluminum foil, and place in refrigerator until ready to bake.

Based on Taste of Home’s Cheesy Lasagna.

Edited on 12/28/12 to add a can of diced tomatoes. There’s no such thing as too much sauce in lasagna!