Saturday, January 19, 2013

The 'Chocolate Cure' Cake

The 'Chocolate Cure' Cake

*Adapted from 'Too Much Chocolate Cake' on


1 (18.25 oz) box devil's food (chocolate) cake mix
1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (or more) cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes and make a well in the center. In another small bowl break the eggs up with a fork then add them into the well with the sour cream, oil, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour in the water and stir until just well mixed.

Finally, stir in the chocolate chips then pour the batter into the cake mold. Place on a cookie sheet for stability and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake for 20 minutes before inverting and cooling the rest of the way. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Life Altering Chicken Pot Pies

When you live in one city (Austin) and work in another city across the country (NYC) with clients in even different cities (and countries!) you travel a lot. And when you travel a lot, weekends are spent catching up on your daily life (laundry, grocery shopping, battling the rose bush that has not only taken over your backyard but begun to climb its way to the moon) versus more relaxing things like say...having friends over.

So the holidays for us is when we set aside a few nights to pay back friends who we owe a dinner (or two) with a home cooked meal. Only then do I have the time to go 'all out' like my inner Martha Stewart dreams of doing the rest of the year. 

Of all the dinners I made this past holiday season, these pot pies stood out above the crowd demanding their rightful place in the blogosphere. They are at once comforting and familiar, like a favorite childhood story, and yet somehow a total surprise. The filling is luxurious and creamy but not a burden on the palate - light enough to allow the flavor of the mushrooms, peas, celery, carrot and onion to shine through. But if I could praise the filling all day, I could praise the cream cheese crust for eternity.

It truly is life altering. I'm dead serious I haven't been the same since. I even found myself eating the leftover pot pie cold straight from the fridge the next day like some hungover zombie, quietly giggling to myself that it tasted even better cold.

Of course as with all celestial things in life, there's a catch. While easy to make they are a little time consuming which is why for me they're a holiday time treat. The upside is you can make them ahead of time and have them chilling wrapped in the fridge ready to pop in the oven. Of course you could save  time by using a store bought pie crust but just know you'd be cheating yourself. I mean honestly straight up denying yourself an out of body experience only without the whole alien probe thing which is nice.

Life Altering Chicken Pot Pies

                                *Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather and seen on
                                  * Filling and crust can be made a day ahead, refrigerated and assembled just before OR even completely assembled and wrapped well in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 8 hours before baking off. 
                                      * If you're unsure of the flavor of celery seeds or are serving this to little ones, I'd leave them out. The pies will still blow your mind, I promise.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup frozen peas
white meat from 1 rotisserie chicken (skin removed), meat torn into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds (optional)

(Cream Sauce)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half & half
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
pinch (or 2) cayenne

1 cup butter, chilled
3 cups flour
8 oz cream cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten (for brushing the tops of the pies)

How To:

1. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and potato and sauté for 5 minutes, then add garlic. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add carrots, celery and mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add in the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let bubble away stirring often until most of the wine has evaporated. Lower the heat and stir in the salt, pepper and parsley, coriander and celery seeds if using.
3. Stir in the chicken and peas, remove from the heat and set aside.

(Cream Sauce)
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour gradually and whisk until smooth.
2. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Raise the heat slightly - just to below boiling and stir until the mixture thickens.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half, a half teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper as well as the thyme, nutmeg and cayenne.
4. Pour the cream mixture into the chicken and vegetable mixture and mix to combine.

1. Cut the butter into 16 pieces and pulse in a food processor with the flour until crumbly.
2. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and add to the processor along with salt and pepper. Continue pulsing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
3. Use immediately or chill for 30 minutes to an hour wrapped in plastic wrap. If you chill it longer, let it warm up a bit before rolling.


1. Fill six 1 and 1/2 cup oven safe bowls or ramekins equally, about 3/4 full, with the creamy chicken mixture. You could also use a deep dish pie plate or casserole.
2. Split the dough in 6 equal pieces (or as many pies as you plan to bake) and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
3. Cut dough into rounds that are about 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter than your bowls to ensure a lovely overhand.
4. Brush a little of the beaten egg onto the edges of the bowls and place dough rounds over the filling, pressing slightly to adhere to the bowl. Repeat with remaining bowls.
5. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash (if desired, use any scraps to make decorative leaves or whatever you prefer to adorn.)
6. Place the pies on large cookie sheets lines with aluminum foil (to prevent leakage or fallen crusts) and bake the pies at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pumpkin Rum Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

This rum cake is a labor of love compared to my 'go to' rum cake which starts with a mix and is the most beloved cake I've ever made. That said it's TOTALLY worth it. Like stop-looking-at-how-long-the-ingredient-list-is-and-just-make-the-damn-thing worth it.

Only then will you understand. Plus the upside is a sense of accomplishment that you likely haven't experienced since acing your high school chemistry test. Or birthing your first child. Or in my case...taking your Christmas tree down before February.

Pumpkin Rum Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
from Southern Living
*I always check my cakes for doneness before the suggested cooking time just because ovens vary so much.
* This cake is too gorgeous to risk burning and sticking so I grease my pan liberally with softened butter, then a little cooking spray, then sprinkle flour all over and tap out excess.
* This icing is maybe the best icing I've ever had and is easy to make but burns EASILY. Watch it like a newborn and be ready to remove it from the heat asap. The recipe called for boiling 3 minutes but I reduced this because mine scorched after that long.


  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted 
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (I use salted)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup dark rum 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (I use salted and even add a tiny pinch salt)
  • 1 generous teaspoon dark rum 
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sifted powdered sugar

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Use fingers to pinch streusel into big clumps. Set aside.
  2. Beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer about 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add 2 cups each granulated and dark brown sugar, beating at medium speed 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Pour in vanilla extract and beat just to incorporate.
  3. Stir together pumpkin and 1/4 cup rum in a bowl. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with pumpkin, beginning and ending with flour.
  4. Pour half of batter into a well-greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan. (We recommend greasing pan with shortening.) Sprinkle batter with streusel; top with remaining batter.
  5. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 28 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely.
  6. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, whipping cream, and 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a medium saucepan along with a pinch of salt (optional). Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 seconds and IMMEDIATELY Remove from heat. Off the heat stir in a splash of rum (recipe calls for a teaspoon but hey - it's the holidays.)
  7. Place powdered sugar in a bowl; pour brown sugar mixture over powdered sugar, stirring with a wire whisk 1 minute or until smooth. Let cool 20 to 25 minutes or until lukewarm. Spoon icing over cooled cake, and let stand until icing is firm.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

2013. Fine I'll admit it. Christmas really is over. It's a new year. Blah blah blah.

Maybe if I liked football I'd still have something to be excited about. But as it is I'm detoxing (bye wine - I miss you!), trying not to eat anything 'in a blanket' or 'on horseback' and forcing myself to exercise which hasn't been all that easy lately given the weather.

So indulge me for a second. Walk with me back to that special time of the year when one holiday flows to another like sand through the glass. When champagne is drunk anytime of day for any reason because 'tis the season!' And cookies are baked and eaten as though our lives depend upon it.

Here was our Christmas in a few snapshots.

Christmas Tree...

Christmas Baking...

Christmas Cake (recipe to come)

Christmas Pot Pies...

Christmas Gifts...

Christmas Bone...

Christmas Cactus (and Snowmen)

Christmas at Dad's...

Christmas at Sis's...

Christmas Peekaboo...

Christmas Naps...

Christmas Kolaches...

The End (sad, isn't it?)