Archive | January, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Snack Cake

27 Jan

What goes together better than peanut butter and chocolate? If you answered nothing, you are correct. This cake is no exception. It’s dense and rich but not overly sweet. It is necessary to pair this with a big glass of milk because the peanut butter layer is quite sticky!

The recipe I used for this is from here and it’s supposed to be like a brand of snack cakes available in the Eastern US. I can’t vouch for accuracy having never enjoyed a TastyCake but I can confirm the tastyness!

The next time I try this, I might cheat and make the base with a yellow cake mix and blend the peanut butter with some marshmallow fluff to make it a bit sweeter and less dense.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Snack Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Cake | baconavecbacon.com

4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons melted butter
1 bag milk chocolate chips
2 cups creamy peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×13 pan.

In the microwave warm the milk and the butter until melted and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, salt, sugar, baking powder and flour. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the floured pan and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Immediately spread the peanut butter over top of the cake. As it melts it’ll become easier to move around. Once spread, put the cake into the fridge until the peanut butter sets.

Once the PB layer is set, in a microwaveable bowl, melt the chocolate chips. Pour over top of the peanut butter layer and spread carefully. Place the cake back into the fridge until the chocolate layer sets.

When you’re ready to eat the cake, let it come to room temperature before cutting, otherwise the chocolate will crack.

 

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Recipe: Homestyle Lasagna

27 Jan

This is probably Mr. Bacon’s #1 favourite meal. In fact, I believe after his first bite of this one he said lovingly (to the lasagna, not me), “Oh my god! Why are you so good????”

Yes, lasagna requires a fair amount of prep but my secret is that I split this recipe into three ‘just enough for two people’ mini loaf pans which means zero effort aside from defrosting and heating for subsequent meals. You could easily make this as a family size lasagna in a single 9×13 pan or you could double the batch and make six at once. They freeze wonderfully and in fact, I think they’re better once they’ve had a chance to sit.

Homestyle Lasagna

Homestyle Lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

1 package of FRESH lasagna noodles
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
5-6 cups pasta sauce (use your own or bottled)
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 block chopped frozen spinach, defrosted & drained
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp chopped garlic
salt & pepper
dried parsley

In order to make this as painless as possible, do like the chefs do and get your ‘mise en place‘ ready. That means preparing all of the elements and placing them within reach.

First I brown the ground beef with the oregano, basil, garlic and a bit of salt & pepper. I drain it and set it out on a plate covered in paper towel to drain further.

Then I brown the sausage breaking it up as much as possible. If your sausage comes in a casing vs. loose, remove it from the casing before cooking. When it’s brown, I usually whiz it with the food processor a bit so that the consistency is closer to that of the ground beef. Set it on a plate with paper towel like the beef.

Then defrost the spinach in a medium size bowl in the microwave. Drain as much water as you can from it by pushing on it with a paper towel and allowing the excess water to drip out of the bowl. Add the tub of ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper and 3-4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined and set aside.

Open your pasta sauce, grate your mozzarella and get your pan or pans out. Open the package of pasta and use a very sharp knife to cut through all layers of pasta in three evenly sized portions.

Your kitchen counter should look like this:

Homestyle Lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

Now you can begin building your lasagna one layer at a time. When I’m splitting lasagnas into three pans, I do one layer at a time over all three pans. Here is how to assemble it:

  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the ground beef
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the sausage
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/3 of the ricotta mixture
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the sausage
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/6th of the ground beef
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 sheet of pasta
  • 1/4 cup of pasta sauce
  • 1 cup (or more if you desire) mozzarella cheese
  • sprinkle of parmesan
  • sprinkle of dried parsley flakes

Homestyle lasagna | baconavecbacon.com

I like to have a dryer lasagna with defined layers but if you prefer yours more sauce-y, add more sauce at each layer. It’s OK if some of the ingredients fall off of the layers and into the edges of the pan. You won’t be able to tell once it’s been cooked.

When you have all three lasagnas assembled, place the mini loaf pans onto a cookie sheet and place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. The lasagnas should be bubbling and the cheese should be nicely browned.

Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.

For the ones you’re going to freeze, let them cool on the counter while you stuff your face. Then place each lasagna, pan and all into a 1 gallon ziplock freezer bag. Use a straw to suck out any air and seal tightly before popping in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat a frozen one, let it defrost in the fridge overnight or over a couple of days. Then cut into four slices, place onto a plate and heat in the microwave until hot. Trust me, it works better than the oven!

Recipe: Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

9 Jan

It’s gross out. Snow/rain/slush/damp/dark. Ugh.

Days like this call for super easy recipes that are warm and comforting. With a rich and velvety texture, this soup makes an excellent winter meal with a side of crusty bread.

Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup | baconavecbacon.com

1/2 small (450 g) jar of Cheese Whiz (I used the low fat kind)
1 can Campbell’s condensed cheese soup (feel free to sub other cream based flavours)
3 small heads broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 carrot, grated
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup milk (1 or 2%)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Toss the first 7 ingredients into the crockpot, stir and cook on high for 2 hours or until broccoli is tender. Add the milk and cheese then whiz with an immersion blender. If you prefer a chunky soup, you can skip the blending step.