A slow cake that’s worth waiting for

WELL WE HAVE BOTH BEEN AWAY from blog-land for quite some time. Life has gotten crazy for the both of us! Sarah just recently moved into a new house, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing my two and a half year old getting her molars in (not pretty). I finally return triumphant with a recipe that I have wanted to share on here since the first time I made it. That first taste was absolutely pure heaven. Add this to the list of recipes for which a small serving goes a long way – this cake is extremely rich and decadent. If it weren’t, would I love it so much?? I think not. ūüėČ It is a cake that cooks in the slow cooker, and let me say, before I actually made it, I was extremely skeptical that it would even work. A cake from the slow cooker? Isn’t it going to be too moist in there for it to cook properly? By the time it had been in for a couple of hours, I had completely changed my mind. What a great idea! And how fabulous to do this to make a cake in the summer time without having to fire up the oven when it’s ninety degrees outside. Don’t be fooled by the title; the “pudding” part refers to the gooey texture of the cake when its done (there’s no pudding in the recipe at all). This is definitely for all those cream cheese brownie lovers in your life. Give it a whirl and you will be as amazed as I was!

Enjoy! ~Sam~

Cream Cheese Brownie Pudding Cake

Ingredients:
– 1 18 oz package brownie mix
– 4 large eggs
– 1/4 cup canola oil
– 2 tablespoons water
– 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

1) In a medium bowl, stir together brownie mix, oil, 2 eggs and water until batter is smooth. Spoon half of brownie batter into a lightly greased 3-quart slow cooker.

2) Using the stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla. Fold in flour and chocolate chips.

3) Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in slow cooker. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cream cheese mixture; swirl mixture gently with a knife.

4) Cover and cook for 6 hours. Carefully remove slow cooker insert from heat element; let stand at least 45 minutes before serving.

Note: to store leftovers, I just stick the entire slow cooker bowl in the fridge. This cake reheats beautifully in the microwave.

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Creamy Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Tortellini Soup

ImageRECENTLY I CAME ACROSS A RECIPE from the blog “My Favorite Things” and I felt compelled to share it here, with some slight adaptations to meet my family’s dietary needs. ¬†The original recipe calls for an envelope of white sauce mix. ¬†My grandmother needs to be on a low-sodium diet, so most of the sauce mixes that we find on supermarket shelves are loaded with sodium… not good for those of us trying to watch our blood pressure! ¬†It’s very easy to make your own white sauce in advance, and I will attach my white sauce recipe below to help you out. ¬†Also, be sure to check your nutrition labels! ¬†If you’re aiming to adjust for dietary needs, take into account the amount of sugar, sodium, or whatever ingredient you’re adjusting for based on the ingredients you’re using to create your final meal. ¬†It’s not very difficult, and you can still get yummy results from the adjustments. ¬†The best part about this recipe is that it’s done in the Crock Pot, so you don’t have to worry about slaving over your meal. ¬†I have also added my own little tips and tricks in there for what I would do to make the dish my own. ¬†Enjoy the deliciousness, and thank you to the original author of the recipe for creating it!

  • White Sauce (see below for preparation instructions)
  • A 14oz. box or can of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh sliced mushrooms (I would use a mix of different mushrooms to enhance the earthy flavor. ¬†Think shiitake, cremini, button, portobella…)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed basil (you can use dry or fresh, but be sure to adjust to flavor. ¬†I tend to prefer fresh herbs)
  • A pinch of salt (1/8 tsp or less. ¬†A little salt is acceptable to enhance flavor, but don’t overdo it)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed oregano (fresh or dry, just like the basil)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach (it sounds like a lot but it will wilt as it warms up, so don’t panic)
  • 1 package (7 or 8 oz.) dry cheese tortellini
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated¬†parmesan or pecorrino romano cheese on the side to serve with the soup

In a skillet, melt your 2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter on medium heat. ¬†Add your mushrooms and onion, saute until their juices are starting to release and their aroma becomes apparent. ¬†Don’t cook them entirely as you’re going to put them into the Crock Pot to finish cooking. ¬†Season with your small amount of salt and your black pepper. ¬†Set aside.

Pour your broth into your Crock Pot and add your tortellini, garlic, basil, oregano, and cayenne pepper to it.  Give it a brief mix, then add your mushrooms.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours until your tortellini are al dente (slightly firm).

While your Crock Pot works away, make your white sauce. ¬†Using the same pan from your mushrooms (hey, no sense in dirtying another pan, right?), melt 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter and add 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour to it. ¬†Mix well until it is thick and smooth, creating a roux. ¬†This will help thicken your sauce without lumps! ¬†To that, add 2 cups milk and 1 cup evaporated milk (or just 3 cups of milk if you prefer… doesn’t matter), and stir well. ¬†Heat the mixture until it bubbles along the edges (DO NOT BOIL IT!) and thickens up, about 8 to 10 minutes. ¬†This will make a medium white sauce. Set it aside for now until your Crock Pot ingredients are almost done cooking. ¬†It will thicken a bit more as it cools.

During the last 20-30 minutes of cooking, add your white sauce and spinach to the soup and mix well. ¬†Allow it to warm up with the rest of your ingredients at the end of your cooking time; this will help you avoid curdling your milk/cream. ¬†The spinach will wilt a bit but remain green and not soggy if you don’t cook it for an excessively long period of time. ¬†Serve with the grated cheese on the side and warm, crusty bread.

Enjoy, and happy cooking!

— Sarah

Crock Pot Cinnamon Almonds

I’m addicted to the cinnamon almonds I can get on NYC street corners and in the mall. ¬†The sweet, spicy cinnamon and sugar smell is enough to send my brain into happiness overdrive. ¬†Make your house smell like it with this yummy Crock Pot recipe. ¬†I’m sure you can substitute pecans, cashews, or some other sturdy nut if you prefer, but it’ll be well worth it to make these and maybe give them in a nice Mason jar as inexpensive thoughtful holiday gifts? ¬†Or a hostess gift? ¬†That’s if you can keep yourself from eating them. ¬†Plus, how cool is it that your home will finally smell like that nut shop we all flock to?! ¬†Mmmmmmmmm…

Crock Pot Cinnamon Almonds

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 3 cups almonds
  • 1/4 cup water

Spray your Crock Pot well to keep it from getting too sticky. ¬†In a bowl, mix your cinnamon, nutmeg, sugars, and dash of salt; set aside. ¬†In a separate bowl, beat your egg white and vanilla extract until it gets frothy. ¬†Add the almonds to your egg mixture and coat them thoroughly; this will give a base for the cinnamon/sugar to adhere to. ¬†Speaking of that divine mixture, add it to your almonds and toss them well to coat them evenly. ¬†Dump the almonds into your Crock Pot and turn it on LOW. ¬†Cover, cook on low for 3-4 hours. ¬†Stir the mixture every 20-30 minutes to be sure that the mixture stays evenly coated. During the last 45 minutes to an hour add your 1/4 cup of water and stir well. ¬†Keep an eye out on the nuts during this last stretch of time as this is when you’ll start to form that crunchy coating. ¬†Let the almonds cook in this for the last bit of time, stirring often and well. ¬†Once the time is up, dump the almond mixture onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. ¬†Spread them out well in a single layer and try to avoid clumping them together. ¬†They will be sticky! ¬†Allow them to cool, then store your cinnamon nuts in an airtight container.

Happy cooking, and enjoy!

— Sarah