Monday, June 30, 2014

 Chocolate Lava Cake


 The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Living downtown we are able to see all kinds of fireworks and live among the patriotic celebrations. When deciding what to make for this year's Independence Day dessert I was leaning heavily towards apple pie. 

Apple pie is just one of those things that screams American tradition. However, it also causes our air conditioning bill to scream a different and very sad tune. Instead of apple pie I am going to make one of my very favorite desserts: chocolate lava cake. It is supremely delicious and can be made in a slow cooker. I got this recipe from Linda at My Kind of Cooking. This was one of the first of her recipes I ever made from her and it is still my very favorite. It will take you about ten minutes to put together and you only dirty the slow cooker, a bowl and a mixing spoon. It's honestly that easy.

This is not just any chocolate cake, it is severely chocolaty! It starts with a Devil's Food cake mix and has a delicious sauce to go over the top. One thing I do a little different than the original recipe is add coffee instead of hot water. Coffee adds a little extra flavor to the cake, but not quite how you would expect. It doesn't taste like chocolate and coffee, it just tastes like chocolate more intensely.

Ingredients

1 box of Devil's Food Cake mix
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
Vanilla Ice cream for serving (optional)
 

 First, spray your slow cooker very well with oil. The sauce made with the lava cake is ooey gooey sticky delicious and you do not want one drop of it left in your slow cooker! Combine the cake mix, water and oil in a medium bowl. Mix well and dump it into your slow cooker. 

It will seem like a very stiff brownie batter, but fret not! You did it right even if it seems oddly textured.


 Next, combine the hot coffee, cocoa powder, and sugar in the same bowl. This will also seem odd and as though you did it wrong. Just know it will look a bit lumpy.


Pour the sauce over the cake mixture. That is pretty much it! Just cook this on high for about two hours. You will know this is done when it is almost set but not runny. After two hours, let the cake sit for about 30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken to sticky chocolate perfection.
 

 Serve the lava cake with vanilla ice cream. It's like a chocolate fudge sundae and cake all together. I hope you try this out and love it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Zesty Fruit Salad


Summer time is the perfect for a delightful picnic. Here in Denver we have so many beautiful parks to eat with friends and enjoy the sunshine. Picnic packing can be tricky. You really shouldn't pack anything that is difficult to transport (cupcakes, pot pies) or else you may have a layer of slop in your picnic basket. Nobody needs to envy the squirrels for their ability to forage for food. 

 Unless you have a large cooler, bringing things that could spoil is also a bad idea (mayonnaise based sauces, cheese and meat). This salad is a perfect picnic pick! Zesty Fruit Salad has so much flavor and is sure to please everyone's palate. First, start with really delicious fruit and let it soak up a dressing that is so tasty and refreshing.  It gets even better as you let it sit, so it is great through out your stay at the park.

Ingredients

2 limes
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 to 4 mangoes, cut into bite sized pieces
4 bananas

 This makes about 8 to 10 large servings


In a large bowl, zest the two limes and squeeze out all the juice. If your limes are not very juicy, pop them into the microwave for 15 seconds. Whisk in the two tablespoons of sugar with the lime juice and zest. This is a delicious dressing for the fruit to drink up while it sits.


Add in all of the fruit except for the bananas. Stir the fruit until all of it is coated in the dressing. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. 


When you are ready to serve the salad, slice up the bananas. I like to slice up about 1/2 a banana for each serving at a time. I find it keeps the bananas from getting too mushy if I slice them per serving like this. 


A fresh taste of summer in every bite, yum!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Greek Chicken Pita Sandwiches and Rice



Everyone says they have the best friends in the entire world. Some may think they are being truthful, but they clearly don't know the caliber of ladies I hang out with. I had the crazy idea  I could just do my own wedding flowers. Against several people's advice, I followed through with this plan. 

The only reason it worked was because I had some amazing people come to help me out! 125 orange roses, 200 white roses and approximately 45 giant hydrangeas were all arranged by my special work force of nine lovely ladies. When asking such a giant favor of your friends, food is crucial to the process and the morale of your voluntary troops. 

 

Here is a picture of about half of the flowers. They were so beautiful!

The night I coined "Flower Power" I made a really tasty meal for my buddies to say thank you for all their hard work. These chicken pita sandwiches are so delicious! Everyone loved them. The chicken is tender, juicy and so flavorful. It goes really nicely with the roasted vegetables and the Greek Yogurt sauce I served with it. If you need a dish to serve to a hungry crowd, this is it! 

There are a few different parts to it so I will do my best to prevent confusion. Make no mistake, this is very easy. There are a few steps, but they are all really simple.

 There were also a few parts that did not get photographed because I was cutting the stems off of the 300ish flowers in a half an hour or so. My greatest apologies for the lack of pictures of the chicken and yogurt sauce.  It's all pretty simple, just cover everything with lemon juice, olive oil and Cavender's seasoning and put it into a pita!

 

 

Chicken Pita Sandwiches
6 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Cavender's all purpose Greek Seasoning
2 lemons, zest removed and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
assorted pitas for people to choose from (wheat, white, sesame)

Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and Greek Seasoning and bake this in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces. If you are unsure if it is done, just cut the biggest piece open to make sure the meat is not pink. Once this is done, just let the chicken rest a few minutes until it is cool enough to cut into bite sized pieces. 

While the chicken is cooling, combine the lemon zest, juice and olive oil. Mix this very well. Cut the chicken into small pieces and add it to the lemon juice and olive oil mixture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or Greek seasoning if it is needed. 

Ok, veggie time!

Vegetable Topping
6 red bell peppers, chopped
2 small zuccini, chopped
2 small yellow squashes, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 -2 teaspoons of salt 
2 teaspoons Cavender's Greek Seasoning


Take the chopped peppers and place them onto a large cookie sheet. Sprinkle over half the olive oil and seasonings and toss to coat well.The remaining veggies get the same treatment.


This is the same process, just a few different ingredients. Place the squashes and onions on another cookie sheet. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and add the seasonings that are left.

Roast both of these pans in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes (super handy since it's the same time as the chicken).


You will know the veggies are done when they are a bit soft and look a little wrinkly around the edges like this.

I combined all the veggies into a bowl and placed it next to the chicken so my guests could add as much or as little of each as they wished. 

I also served a really tasty Greek Yogurt Sauce to go on the top of the sandwiches. 

Greek Yogurt Sauce

2 cups plain Greek Yogurt
1 lemon, zest removed and juiced
1 teaspoon Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients into a small bowl and chill until you are ready to serve.

To go with these tasty sandwiches, I made delicious Greek Lemon Rice.

 Greek Lemon Rice

6 cups of white rice, cooked
2 lemons, zest removed and juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients while the rice is still pipping hot. If this cools down too much for your liking before you serve it, just pop it into the microwave for about one to two minutes.

To serve all of this, I just had it out for people to take and make the pita they wanted. All the ladies were big fans of the roasted veggies. They really add a lot of flavor to the sandwich. My husband's favorite way to eat these pitas is to put some of the rice in the pita pocket itself.

Here are some of the combinations the ladies came up with!



                  



I hope you try out these delicious pita sandwiches and love them!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

 

 Strawberry Tart


 


 "So now that the wedding is over, does that mean there will be more posts on the blog?" A few people have asked this question. I have to reply with a bit of embarrassment, "Oh yeah, the blog. Yes, there will be more posts." There has been a bit of neglect of gingerlocks' kitchen these days. For those of you who just read the blog and don't really know me, I got married at the end of May!


It was a terribly exciting time but busy as well. I was cooking, but taking pictures and posting them with a story is more time consuming than you would think.

A lack of motivation was also part of the neglect factor. When I started gingerlocks' kitchen I had never really thought of people reading it. You might think "Isn't that the point of putting everything online?" Yes, I suppose it is. In all honesty I had never assumed people would want to read anything I put on this silly blog. I really just wanted to have all my recipes in one place for me and the people who asked for them. Since I didn't really think anyone was reading it, I didn't see the need to be super consistent in such a busy time.

Those of you who do read it have made your requests clear! Taking a break from the blog has given me time to come up with more ideas to share with you all and enjoying doing it again.

 This recipe is an especially good way to break the dry spell of posts. I love all strawberry desserts. This one is especially delicious. The buttery, flaky crust goes perfectly with the jam like consistency of the filling. You will love it! This recipe is made even easier with the delightful wedding present of a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, just follow my perfect pie crust recipe. It will make far more pie crust than you need for this, but it freezes very well.


Ingredients

Tart Crust

2 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of very cold butter
5 to 8 tablespoons of ice water
This makes two crusts

Filling

1 1/2 pounds of strawberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour


I adapted this tart crust recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, and she is certain the best pie crust comes from freezing the dry ingredients for 30 minutes. She is a Contessa. I am not. She isn't really either, but she does know what she is talking about in this case. Really good pastry comes from super cold ingredients. I froze all the dry ingredients in the food processor bowl for 30 minutes to ensure completely chilled ingredients.


While the crust ingredients are making themselves contessa worthy, hull (take the tops off) and slice the strawberries. I like to make them about bite sized. They will shrink a bit in the baking process so don't make them too small.



After the strawberries are ready to go, add in the sugar, lemon zest and juice as well as the flour. Give this a big stir and let the juices come out to make a nice sauce. 


Next, cube the butter into small pieces so it can be easily incorporated into the dry ingredients

.
 Attach the food processor bowl to the rest of the machine once it is done chilling. Pulse the butter and the dry ingredients for about 30 seconds. It should look like damp sand. That's not an appetizing simile, but it's how it should look.


Slowly, add one tablespoon of ice water at a time while the food processor is going on low speed. You want to add as little water as possible. Add a tablespoon and wait about 15 seconds. The crust will have enough water in it when it comes together like this.


Sprinkle a counter top and a rolling pin with about 1/3 cup of flour. Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and form it into a ball. I only needed one crust for this recipe, so I cut the ball in half and froze the extra for later. 


Keeping the counter and rolling pin well floured, roll out the crust. It doesn't have to be perfect, just aim for a circular shape. 


When your circular shape is big enough, make sure it is even or it will cook in a funky fashion. Then gently place the crust into the tart pan. You could also use a pie tin for this. Bake the unfilled shell for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. This makes sure you don't have a soggy tart.


Pour the strawberry filling and continue to bake at 350 for another 30 to 45 minutes. The filling should be set with just a few jiggles. If the edges of the crust start to get brown before this happens, cover the tart with aluminum foil.


Allow the tart to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting. Otherwise it will ooze all over. 


This is a perfect summer dessert to enjoy with friends, family or even just for yourself!


Yum!