Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Chicken Cacciatore Soup

Last we had some friends over for dinner. Normally when someone is coming for dinner, I know exactly what I'm making way in advance, but this time around ...... I spent part of Monday looking at cooking magazines and websites searching for inspiration, nothing. I read cook books, nothing.  Monday night as I layed in bed watching The Family Guy, I thought Pasties and some kind of soup. Hubby came home he thought it sounded good.  So yesterday morning as I sat enjoying my Pumpkin Spice Latte and once again looking at cook books, I came across the recipe for Chicken Cacciatore Soup.

Instead of using precooked chicken (of which I didn't have or store bought stock) I boiled a chicken and made my own stock.  Anyway the soup was delicious and it tasted like chicken cacciatore, except in a soup form.  Served with a side of warm Pretzel Bread, it was the perfect meal.

Chicken Cacciatore Soup

  • 2 medium leeks, sliced white portions only
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 6 - 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 whole chicken, boiled, skin and bones removed, chopped
  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium green, yellow, and red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked bow tie pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large sauce pan, saute mushrooms, garlic, and leeks in olive oil until tender.  Stir in the broth, chicken, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, pasta, thyme, and ground pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables and pasta are tender.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Almond Joy Layer Cake

This week has been pretty interesting. On Thursday hubby and I started taking a three part wine course. The first class was wine 101, how wine's made, the types of wines, home wine making, etc. The next class is touring a vineyard and some wine tasting and the last class is food and wine pairings. I'm not sure what I expected out of the class, but we did find another wine that we love.  Beaujolais- Villages Louis Jadot 2009. A lovely red burgundy, we shared a bottle with a friend on Friday night and the wine was delightfully smooth. It was worth the 30 minute drive to get a bottle.

For dessert Friday night I made an Almond Joy Layer Cake. Guess what it tastes like? Almond Joy, go figure.  I was concerned with about the cake being to dry, as I somehow forgot to put the coconut in the cake and the texture of the batter was similar to that of a brownie. But it turned out just fine. After the cakes cooled {I was out buying wine while this part was happening} I split the layers in half and started to fill the cake with a delicious coconut and sliced almond filling.  {Burned the first batch of almonds when I forgot them in the oven}  The cake is then wrapped with plastic wrapped and refrigerated until completely set. The cake is then iced and sprinkled with remaining almonds and served. This is one of those cakes that a glass of milk or a good cup of coffee is needed to off set the sweetness.  

Almond Joy Layer Cake

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup packed coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups packed coconut
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare 2 8 inch round baking pans and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil.  Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.  Whisk in butter and chocolate over low heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a large bowl stir together, flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture until smooth.  Stir in 1 cup packed coconut.  Divide batter between the two pans and bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from pans and cool on racks.

While the cake cools, spread the almonds on a rimmed sheet and toast for 12 minutes; let cool.

In a saucepan combine heavy cream, sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla.  Simmer over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in 3 cups of packed coconut and 1 1/2 cups of sliced almonds.

Split the layers to make 4 layers.  Spread 1 cup of coconut filling on first layer, top with second cake, and repeat, finishing with just cake as the top layer.  Wrap with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to allow filling to set.

Beat the heavy cream with confectioners' sugar and frost the cake. Sprinkle top of cake with remaining almonds.