Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mom's Olive Dip

My mom's olive dip is beyond amazing. I am serious. I've even converted people who don't like olives to love this dip. Honest to goodness! I know that olive dip doesn't sound the most appealing (your probably thinking it's just a bunch of ground up olives, right?), but let me tell you, it's rich, creamy and loaded with olives. It's so good, I am willing to bet that you'd eat it straight from the bowl like I would. I didn't just admit that.

You only need five ingredients and a little bit of patience to make this dip - cream cheese, mayo, green olives and some of the olive juice, pecans and pepper. I didn't say this dip was good for you, but everything in moderation, right? I did say it was super duper ooberly delicious though! When making this dip, you must remember to use green olives. Not black. There is something about the tang of the green olives and the brine that give this dip it's something something. Just trust me on this one, okay? And also, no rushing to eating it once you mix it all up. I know it's tempting, but you need to let it sit at least over night for the nuts to soften up and so all those olive flavors can blend and mellow. 

Keep in mind that this dip easily doubles or triples for a crowd as well. A little goes a long way, but since it's so addicting, you might want to make more than you think is necessary. You can serve this super yummy dip on bread, on crackers, or even use it to make little tea sandwiches. The next time you are asked to bring something to a party or a potluck, bring this olive dip. Your guests will love you for it!

five ingredients!

mayo + cream cheese

look at all those olives!

don't forget the nuts and pepper

this dip only gets better as it sits

Mom's Olive Dip

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayo
4 tbsp liquid from olives (add more, if needed)
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped green olives
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and let sit overnight in the fridge to let flavors combine. Enjoy!

Forget the crackers, I could eat this dip with a spoon!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tunnel of Fugde Cake

Whether it's someones retirement or someones birthday, I always have to make that person something extra special. Something special and extra sweet. When it came time for my dear coworker Stephanie's 50th birthday, I knew I had to come up with something just right for her. Especially since it was her big 5-0. I didn't tell you that though. She may hurt me for saying that. Not really. Well, maybe. You'd never know it though - she doesn't look a day over 21! Seriously. No joke.

I usually lean towards cupcakes or layer cakes when I make someone a special treat, but this time, I wanted to do something different. I just couldn't decide what. Baker problems! To gain some inspiration, I searched through my pantry for assistance, but nothing jumped out at me. Then, I looked through all my baking pans and there it was - my bundt pan. I rarely use that darn thing, and it was time to dust it off. The bundt pan makes such pretty cakes, but it is really underused. At least I don't use it very often. Sad. To be honest, I think the only thing I've ever made with mine is a coffee cake (and that's only because I searched high and low for a reasonably priced angel food cake pan and couldn't find one!).

My problem with bundt cakes is that I don't have many recipes for them. My momma always made a zucchini chocolate cake in the bundt pan, but all other recipes I've seen online or found in cookbooks often call for a boxed mix. I have nothing against box mixes (they make things easier sometimes when you are in a pinch!), but I wanted to get away from that, if all possible. Especially since I have almost ever baking essential in my pantry. I searched high and low and then forwards and backwards before I came across the perfect recipe for dear Stephanie - tunnel of fudge cake! This cake was developed at the famous Pillsbury Bake-Off (oh, how I dream of being there!) and somehow comes out of the oven with this warm and gooey fudge layer in the middle. Hence the name, tunnel of fudge. Not to mention, it's topped off with a fudge icing! I can't explain this cake other than it's incredibly wonderful and something totally unexpected when you cut into it. This cake may not be difficult to make or super fancy, but boy is it so rich and delicious. This chocolaty bunt cake is definitely now on my top favorite chocolate cake list. Bet you didn't know I had one of those lists, did you?

don't mind my recovery powder amongst the ingredients

hot water  + chocolate

adding the eggs and vanilla to the butter and sugar

sift the cocoa to help eliminate lumps!

same with the flour

make sure to spray your pan reallllly good.

of course I had to add sprinkles.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake (Annie's Eats)

To prep the pan:
Coat with nonstick spray

For the cake:
½ cup boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the glaze: 
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract
 Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate.  Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, and salt.  Combine the eggs and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup and beat lightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the egg mixture just until combined.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated.  Blend in the dry ingredients until just combined.  

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for 1½ hours before inverting onto a cake platter.  Allow to cool completely, about 2 more hours.

To make the glaze, combine the cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Blend in the vanilla.  Set aside for about 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

This cake may just become your new favorite chocolate cake!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

Although my typical breakfast is a cool and refreshing protein shake, I am always looking for something else quick and easy to grab on the go. Especially at 6am when I am headed out the door to work. Even more so, I want something that tastes yummy and will keep my full for the better part of my morning. I love waffles as much as the next person, but all those carbs don't keep this girl full. At least not for very long. Mmm, syrup.

Last week I was looking to switch up my breakfast shake routine to something else and came across an egg cup recipe that looked rather intriguing. Plus, I already had everything in my fridge, so I couldn't really say no. Now, you might be thinking - what the heck is an egg cup?! An egg cup is like a mini crustless quiche baked right into a muffin tin. They are super easy to make and you can switch them up to include whatever ingredients you want. Plus, they are ready to go from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Now we're talking. These egg cups contain mostly egg whites (with a few whole eggs thrown in too), unsweetened almond milk (but you can use skim or whatever milk you like here), a little bit of cheddar cheese, spinach and turkey breakfast sausage. I got my turkey sausage at Whole Foods in the frozen section (Applegate brand is my favorite!), but you can use whatever kind of turkey sausage you like (if it's fresh, make sure to cook it up beforehand). Of course you can omit the sausage if you are veggie, but you can also use ham, bacon or any other meat you like in place of it. Like I say, this recipe is pretty flexible!

Once you have all your ingredients ready, you mix the egg whites with the whole eggs, milk and chopped spinach. Make sure to use fresh spinach here - none of that frozen stuff. The frozen will make your egg cups super soggy and look like they aren't cooked. That does not make for a happy egg cup. Trust me. Once all the egg mixture is all ready to go, spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray and evenly disperse the cheese and cut up sausage into each cup. Then fill up each cup with the egg mixture, making sure you fill all the cups. The eggs will puff up during the cooking process, but will deflate once you take them out of the oven.

After about 20 minutes in the oven, your house will be smelling like breakfast heaven! To get these bad boys out of the pan, let them cool for about 15-20 minutes and then go around each cup with a knife to loosen them up. They should pop right out, but you may need to give them a little help. These egg cups are perfect to enjoy right out of the oven, or they will keep in your fridge for up to a week and even longer in your freezer. The best part of this cute little breakfast is that each cup is about 70 calories, has 4 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein each. How great is that? Although these egg cups are great for breakfast, they also make a great lunch. Especially with a fresh sweet piece of fruit. Now we're talking!

If you use the egg whites from Costco, one carton = 10 egg whites

evenly distribute the sausage and cheese

don't forget to add the spinach

don't let the cups overflow!

baked and ready to go for the week!

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

10 egg whites
4 whole eggs
1/2 chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 breakfast turkey sausage links (I used Applegate), roughly chopped
1/2 unsweetened almond milk (or you can use soy or any other milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, place the egg whites and whole eggs into a bowl and mix until combined. Then add the chopped spinach and milk.

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non stick spray and evenly divide the cheddar cheese and sausage amongst the cups.  Then add the egg mixture to each cup, making sure it's evenly distributed. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the egg cups are firm. Enjoy!

Eggs don't have to be just for breakfast!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

La Bou's Creamy Dill Dressing

Let me just say that I have tried to post this recipe for you several times over the last two days and for some reason it never went through and I lost everything I typed. Darn it! Sorry for the delay, but this one will be worth it. Promise!

If you are from the Sacramento area you probably know all about La Bou. If you don't, well, I feel sorry for you. Okay, not really, but kinda. La Bou is a local area bakery and café that has the best salads, soup and sandwiches. I don't go there too often (because I am sure my waistline would not be too happy), but when I do, I always get the same thing - half a house salad and half a turkey sandwich on a croissant. I know a croissant isn't the best thing in the world for you, but someone very smart always remind me, everything in moderation. Even moderation. Someone recently told me they were closing some of their locations. I about cried. Almost. Kinda. Just a bit.

As much as I love what I normally order at La Bou, nothing touches their creamy dill dressing. There is just something about it that makes you have to order it every time you go there. If you've had it, you know exactly what I am talking about. I hadn't thought about La Bou much (the last time I had it was back in December when I was so luckily selected for jury duty!) until a coworker told me she replicated one of their salads that used their creamy dill dressing. She gave me a few ideas on how she made hers so I knew I had to try to make it myself! After a few tries, I was able to darn near replicate their dressing. I couldn't believe it. And the best part, it only take four ingredients - mayo, water, dill and ranch seasoning (I will soon show you how to make this from scratch and without preservatives!). Seriously. Four ingredients to the best darn dressing you'll ever have? Now we're talking! Of course if you are looking to lighten it up a bit, you can always sub the mayo for plain yogurt, but with my recipe, you can have two tablespoons of this deliciousness for just about 60 calories. That's pretty darn good if you ask me. Especially considering most other super yummy dressings are well over 100 calories for just one tablespoon!

If you are a true La Bou lover, then you know the best way to enjoy this dressing is to dip a big piece of crusty bread into it. It's so wrong, but so good. My mouth is filling with saliva just thinking about it. You better get in your kitchen and make this dressing right now. You won't find my fridge without it!

look at all that goodness!

Creamy Dill Dressing

Serving Size = 2 Tablespoons

1/2 cup your favorite mayo
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons dill (I used dried, but you can also use fresh)
2 teaspoons ranch seasoning mix 
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients into a jar, place the lid on and shake it up. Enjoy this dressing on a salad, with your favorite veggies or even dunk your bread in it!

This recipe can easily be double or tripled for a large crowd!