Angel Food Chocolate Chip Tunnel Cake

cake12 I’m not certain where my mother discovered the recipe for this particular cake.  I can say that this has been the birthday cake in our family ever since I can remember.  It was always requested.  I am now a grown woman in my forties – having tasted many, many cakes – and this is still my all-time favorite cake in the world.  It’s simply that good.  There is something about the light, airy angel cake and the fudgy center with a hint of almond and then the lighter chocolate whipped cream for frosting.  Perfection.  Putting this cake together takes a bit of effort.  It’s not hard, it just takes the effort.  I’ll walk you through it.

First, bake an angel food cake.  Place crusty side down on platter.cake01

About one inch down, carefully slice off the top of the cake.cake02

In the center, begin pulling out pieces of cake, making a trench about two inches down and two inches wide.  Save the pieces.cake03 (Sorry it is hard to see the trench.)

Melt marshmallows, water, salt and chocolate chips together.  Let cool about fifteen minutes.  Whip one cup of cream with almond extract and  fold in to chocolate mixture.

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Spoon mixture into the trench, filling about halfway.

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Lightly press torn pieces of cake back onto the chocolate mixture.cake06

Fill the rest of the trench with chocolate mixture.  There will be extra.cake07

Place top back on cake.  Place in fridge and chill.

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For the frosting, whip one and a half cups cream with 1/2 cup NesQuick chocolate drink mix.cake09

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Delicious.  This cake must be kept in the fridge.

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ANGEL FOOD CHOCOLATE CHIP TUNNEL CAKE

1 bag marshmallows

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup water

6 oz (half bag) chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

1/4 tsp. almond extract

angel food cake, baked

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup NesQuick chocolate drink mix

Cook marshmallows, salt and water in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until melted.  Chill in refrigerator for about fifteen minutes and then fold in one cup whipped cream and almond extract.

Place cake on platter, crusty side down.  Slice top one inch of cake completely off and set aside.  Hollow out a trench inside of cake, about two inches wide and two inches deep (save cake pieces).  Spoon in chocolate mixture filling about half way.  Press cake pieces lightly on top and spoon more mixture evenly on top of that.  (There will be extra chocolate mixture.)  Replace top of cake and chill.

Whip rest of cream (one and a half cups) with chocolate drink mix and frost cake.  Keep in refrigerator.

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Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

potatosoupThis soup was awesome.  I don’t know if it was so delicious because it had been a very cold evening (which we’d been out in) or the fact that we were eating later than usual and we were all ravenous, but it really hit the spot.  It’s an easy, excellent potato soup for the slow cooker.  The leftovers were gobbled up the next day for lunch.  I will post the recipe (adapted from here) and then post my notes.

ingredients

5 large baking potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 onion, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced (or pressed)
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 cup cream or half-and-half
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
chopped fresh chives
sour cream
bacon, cooked & crumbled
extra cheese for sprinkling

directions

Combine first six ingredients in a large crockpot; cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours (potato should be tender).

Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened. Stir in cream and cheese.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with chives, sour cream, bacon and more cheese, if desired.

My notes: I used homemade chicken broth which was very flavorful and happened to be on the salty side, so I skipped adding salt to this soup altogether.  (Any time my family has picked over a rotisserie chicken, I make chicken broth from it; recipe here.)  If using commercial broth, adjust salt and pepper accordingly.

Stir-fried Sesame Asparagus

stirfryasparagus  This was an easy stir-fry asparagus which I served with an Asian marinated salmon and rice pilaf.  It was a great side dish.

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal into 2-inch-long pieces
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds

preparation

Stir soy sauce and sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Heat oil in heavy large skillet. Add garlic and stir 15 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add soy mixture and toss until asparagus is coated, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Chicken Dorito Casserole

chickenDoritocasserole Oh, how low I have sunk since my Going MediterrAsian blog and all the fresh, healthy, Mediterranean or Asian dishes I was preparing.  I think the cold, dank winter has me craving warm, creamy, comfort food.  This was a very easy, very tasty casserole.  It hit the spot, but now I feel like I need to make a light fish dish this week to balance things out.

CHICKEN DORITO CASSEROLE

3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/4 cup diced green onions
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 can of corn, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese, divided
1 bag of nacho cheese Doritos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Cover bottom of pan with about 2/3 bag of crushed Doritos; set aside the rest of the chips.  Mix together 1 cup of cheese with remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour chicken mixture over the Doritos.  Top casserole with the remaining crushed Doritos and cheese.  Bake about 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Creamy Crab Mac & Cheese

crabmac&cheese

Total comfort food for a winter’s evening!  This dish was delicious except for one small problem; the recipe called for the addition of salt.  The cheese sauce had been perfect before I added the salt and afterward, too salty.  Whoops!  Next time I make this (it will probably be a “once a year” treat), I will skip the salt.  (The following recipe was adapted from here: Crab and Gnocchi Gratin.)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. (a bit more) penne pasta (or favorite pasta)
1 lb. cooked crab meat
4 Tb. butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 pint half and half
5 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese
4 oz. shredded Havarti cheese
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

salt to taste

Directions:

Prepare pasta according to the package instructions.

Drain, add the crab meat and mix.

In sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour followed by the garlic and lemon zest. Cook for another minute, then add the half and half and whisk until smooth.

Once the mixture is warm, add the cheeses. Stir to blend, then add nutmeg (and salt if using).  Once smooth, pour the cheese mixture over the crab and pasta.  Heat in microwave, or conventional oven (350 degrees for about 20 minutes), until hot.

Cheesy Chicken Chowder

cheesychickenchowder

I have a similar recipe which I could not find, so I tried this version and it was delicious.

CHEESY CHICKEN CHOWDER

1 TBS olive oil

2 cups diced potatoes (red are my favorite and I don’t bother to peel them)

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced onion

3 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

2 cups cooked, diced chicken (I used rotisserie from my grocery store)

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil and saute onion until translucent.  Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan; stir in flour until smooth.  Gradually stir in milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat; add cheese, stirring until melted.  Add cheese sauce to soup.  Add Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste.  Heated through and serve.

Salmon over Cucumber Salad

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This recipe is going to be sketchy because I can’t find the web site with the original recipe (which I switched up a bit) to remind me of everything I did.  I do want to post the general idea, though, so I can remember next summer and prepare this dish again.  I made this during our last hot week of summer and it hit the spot perfectly.  A seasoned, grilled piece of salmon was placed on top of cucumbers tossed in tzatziki sauce over greens and sprinkled with feta.  The original recipe had more of an East Indian flair, which I tried and enjoyed, but I prefer this Greek version.

Salmon over Cucumber Salad

Season and grill salmon to your liking.

Early in the day, prepare tzatziki sauce.  My favorite recipe is here: Anghelika’s Tsatsiki sauce

Peel and slice one or two cucumbers into matchsticks and toss with tzatziki.  Scoop dressed cucumbers onto bed of favorite greens.  Sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired, and top with salmon.

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Swiss Chard and Mango Salad

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Awesome!  I made this salad to go with a marinated/BBQ shrimp dinner and it was excellent.  In the past I’ve been one to shy away from fruits in a vegetable salad, but I’m over that.  This was so good that I can’t wait to make it again.

Ingredients:

1.5 bunches swiss chard, stalks removed, leaves sliced
1 lemon, juiced
3 T. canola oil (or other mild oil)
2 t. honey
1 t. white wine vinegar
1 mango, diced
2 T. toasted almonds
2 T shredded coconut
Salt and pepper to taste

Yield:  2 entree servings, or 4 sides

Prep time:  20 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes!

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, add the chard, half the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and a bit of salt.
  • Massage for 2-3 minutes, until the greens get soft and wilt some.  Set aside while you make the dressing.
  • In another bowl, add the remaining oil, the other half of the lemon juice, honey and vinegar.  Whisk it up until well combined, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the dressing and the mango over the chard and toss well.  Top with almonds and coconut and enjoy!

*** To toast almonds, bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for five to ten minutes until golden.

**** This recipe was adapted from Your Full Plate

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Spring Seafood Pasta

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This is a rich, creamy pasta dish with scallops and smoked salmon from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cold Weather Cooking.  I only make it about once every year or two (because it’s on the naughty side), but I thoroughly enjoy it every time I do.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 TBS vodka (which I always skip because I never keep any in my house)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into small bits
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 TBS fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 TBS fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound linguine or fettucine, cooked and drained

Instructions

  1. Combine cream, 3 TBS vodka and lemon zest in a medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling and cook until reduced by half.  Stir in cream cheese and salmon.  Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in skillet and sauté onion and tomatoes for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in dill and tarragon and cook two minutes longer.
  3. Add the salmon/cream mixture, bay scallops and salt & pepper to the tomato mixture.  Heat over medium heat until hot and scallops are cooked through.  Swirl in remaining vodka (if using) and toss with pasta.  Serve at once.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Oh, YUM.  These were awesome.  I have never been a huge fan of peanut butter cookies because they seem to dry out rather fast and get crumbly.  These cookies contain a cup of oats which I believe turned them into “chewy” peanut butter cookies (after the first day).  In fact, they remained moist and delicious for the better part of a week, which was a wonderful surprise.  Usually I will eat homemade cookies on the first and second days after baking them.  After that, I turn my nose up because they are not fresh enough, in my opinion.  These cookies remained delicious for much longer!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick or old-fashioned oats)
  • 2 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream the margarine, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar in a mixer.

2. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix. Combine the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt and add to the cream mixture.

3. Add chips to dough and mix by hand.

4. Scoop dough into balls (about 1″) on a cookie sheet about 2″ apart. Just slightly flatten dough balls.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan for 3-5 minutes after baking for easy removal from pan.