Monday, February 27, 2012

Sour Cream Doughnuts

Pinterest can be deadly if it drives you to make and eat doughnuts every day. I came across this blog post from Christie’s Corner the other day and knew that, despite my gluten-free regimen, I had to try these at some point. So, I pinned them and gave them a try today, when Mr. F, my 5 year old, was begging for doughnuts. I made some changes from the original recipe and adjusted for what I had on hand given I wasn’t prepared to make doughnuts. If you don't want to change it up, the orininal is probably just as amazing! Here’s my version of Sour Cream Doughnut Recipe modified from Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker by Mark and Michael Kiebeck.

Sour Cream Doughnuts

1 3/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Corn Starch
1/4 Cup Flax Meal
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp iodized salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Sucanat (white sugar works, too)
2 TBSP Butter – room temp
2 Large Egg Yolks
2/3 Cup Sour Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the BUTTER and SUCANAT. Add the EGG YOLKS and continue to beat until light colored. You should sift the flour and other dry ingredients (except the flax meal because it’s too course) but honestly, I didn’t. I just threw them into a bowl and let Mr. F whisk away. That worked out just fine!

In alternating batches, add some dry ingredients and some SOUR CREAM to the butter/egg mixture until everything is in the bowl. Be sure not to over mix, just get it all combined. The dough will be sticky! Turn it out into a floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 45 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Instead of rolling out the dough, I floured some wax paper and turned the dough out. Flour the top of the dough and press it out until the dough is 1/2” thickness. I used a juice glass (dipped in flour) to cut out my doughnuts and I have a mini circle cookie cutter to cut the holes. You can re-roll and cut more doughnuts until you have used up all of your dough, but be sure not to knead it too much.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 325°F. Get your post-frying station set up with a baking sheet, wire rack and paper towels. Add just a couple doughnuts at a time so that you don’t cool the oil too much. The frying step requires really close attention. Drop each ring into the oil, wait for it to float and flip it over. Fry for a minute (literally ONE minute) and flip again to be sure each side is golden brown and cracking. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

I glazed mine while they were HOT with 3 cups of powdered sugar, 2 TBSP light corn syrup, 2 TSP vanilla, and water until it hit the right consistency (no idea how much I used.)

Seriously, if you don’t eat all of the little doughnut holes before they’ve cooled down… well, I just don’t know you at all.

Enjoy! And a big thanks to Christie’s Corner for posting this recipe and making me eat my weight in Sour Cream Doughnuts.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sara’s Gorgonzola Pasta

I often make dinner by throwing together whatever I have on hand, but a few years ago I set out to make a meal out of my favorite flavors: bleu cheese, mushrooms, fresh basil, and crushed red pepper. There are quite a few directions for these flavors, tossing them on a salad or making a rice dish. But since I’m working on week 2 of gluten-free living, I thought I could share a pasta dish with you and live vicariously while you all make and enjoy this dish.

Sara’s Gorgonzola Pasta

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-4 Depending on appetites

1/4 Red Onion – Minced
1 TBSP Garlic – Minced
2 C Mushrooms – Sliced
2 Small Zucchini – Sliced
4 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 lb Green Beans – Blanched
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil – Chopped
1/2 lb Cooked Pasta (I like Penne!)
1/4 lb Gorgonzola Cheese – Crumbled
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (You can use a pinch or none at all if you’re not up for the spice.)

Heat 2 TBSPs of OLIVE OIL over medium heat in a large pan and sauté ONIONS and CRUSHED RED PEPPER for 3-5 minutes. Add GARLIC and ZUCCHINI, sauté for another 2 minutes.

Push the veggies to the side of the pan, add additional 2 TBSPs of OLIVE OIL and sauté the MUSHROOMS until cooked. Add GREEN BEANS, SALT, and PEPPER, heat through.

Remove from heat, toss with PASTA, BASIL, and GORGONZOLA. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Gorgonzola and basil for garnish.

This dish is super easy, fast, and especially handy if you have left over pasta on hand. If you have to cook your pasta first, your prep time will bump up to 30 minutes, still very fast for a complete meal! I hope you enjoy this tasty pasta while I wallow away on my gluten-free regimen… Stay tuned for more about gluten-free eating. Next week, I’ll be blogging away over on An Army of Ermas and I’m sure I’ll be bringing some new recipes to my Hero Complex readers as well!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 13, 2012

Manic Monday

Good Monday!

Yes, it's another Manic Monday, but I won't be sending you off with brand new recipes today. We've had a bout of winter funk infect our house and I'd hate to include these nasty germs with anything else I'm handing off to my readers!

Instead, take a little time to look through the ideas for romantic recipes that I posted last week:

Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette

Emily's Mocha Cake

Another great idea for a romantic meal is my fantastic Spaghetti Sauce with some of Tyler Florence's Ultimate Meatballs. I've made them dozens of times and they always solicit a WOW! Check them out!

My latest column appears over at An Army of Ermas today, where I'm giving out FREE advice. Oh, you want to read this.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Frou-Frou Friday

Three Course Romantic Meal - Dessert!

Emily’s Mocha Cake

When my friend Emily was graduating High School, I found myself on the poor end of fortune. I had enough money to buy her something beautiful, local, but small-ish. I wanted to do something for her that said, “I love you, but I’m poor!” Well, not exactly. Mostly, I just wanted to say, “I care about you so much that I did this for you!” And for me, when I care about you, I cook, create, write, or paint for you. For Emily, I decided to come up with a new recipe combining flavors that she loves, chocolate and coffee. Here’s my recipe for Emily’s Mocha Cake. It’s the perfect way to tell someone, anyone, I love you!

Serves: 1-10 People
Prep time: 2 hours

1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour + 2 TBSPs for the Pan Prep
2 Cups Sugar (or sucanat)
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Eggs – Room Temp
1 Cup Milk – At least 2%
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Espresso – VERY Hot

*You’ll also need wax paper, foil or parchment.

Preheat your oven to 350° and prepare two 9” cake pans by greasing with butter and dusting with flour.

Combine FLOUR, SUGAR, COCOA, BAKING SODA, BAKING POWDER, AND SALT in a large bowl, whisking to mix.

In a small bowl, mix EGGS, MILK, OIL, AND VANILLA. Beat well with a mixer for a full minute and slowly add hot ESPRESSO to egg mixture, being sure to stir constantly so that the espresso doesn’t cook the eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, folding and stirring until smooth. Don’t over stir, or your cake will lose its light texture.

Pour batter into the pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on racks. While your cakes are cooling, make the frosting.


1 pound bag of Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup of Cocoa Powder
1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter – softened to room temp
1/3 Cup Espresso

Combine SUGAR and COCOA. Cream BUTTER on medium speed in a mixer and slowly add the sugar and cocoa. Add small amounts of the ESPRESSO until smooth. It may take the entire 1/3 of a cup, it may take a little less. If you need more than a 1/3 of a cup, use milk to make up the difference. Too much coffee will overpower the frosting.

Once the cakes are cool and the frosting is frosty, trim both cake rounds so that they have two VERY flat sides. This should mean only trimming the top of the cake that has rounded during baking. On a serving dish, take small 1/2 strips of wax paper, foil, or parchment and line them around the edges with a flap hanging over the side of the dish. Place your first layer down on top of the wax paper. Layer about 1/2 cup of the frosting on the first cake round and place the second layer on top. Be sure to pick the flattest surface for the tip-top of the cake so that it looks the nicest.

Here’s a little trick for frosting the rest of the cake. I usually take a cup or so of frosting OUT of the bigger bowl to do a crumb coating. You may have heard of it. A crumb coating is a thin layer of frosting that you spread over the entire cake before actually frosting it. I separate this small amount out so that the crumbs from the cake don’t get into my big bowl of frosting. Once you finish the crumb coating, let the cake sit for 10-20 minutes, letting the thin layer firm up. When it’s no longer sticky to the touch, go ahead and frost the heck out of that thin. I like to decorate this cake with some red sugar crystals, as you can see above.

Let me know what your sweetheart thinks of my Mocha Cake!

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wegetarian Wednesday

Three Course Romantic Meal - Part One

So, the Hallmark Holiday is upon us. Are you going to attempt a romantic meal? Going out? While we don’t make much of an issue of Valentine’s Day in my house, I always like an excuse to make some fancy food. One of our favorite family meals is a 3-Course stunner worthy of Mom’s fancy china:

Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette
Salmon Frites with Grilled Belgian Endive
Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

Today, I’ll share the recipe for my favorite vinaigrette. Friday, I’ll be posting my chocolate cake recipe. To make a delicious Salmon Frites, follow this simple recipe from the Food Network. I do oven baked fries, this version is fantastic!

I have an addiction to crunchy slaw and worked for a very long time to come up with a really great Asian Slaw recipe. After trying four to five different vinaigrettes and finding each one lacking a little “je ne sais quois,” I decided to make my own. The result was a dressing that I could use for almost anything, including a fresh Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad.

Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes

Wasabi Vinaigrette

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 TBSP Sesame Oil
1 TBSP Soy Sauce
1 TSBSP Lemon Juice
2 tsp Wasabi Powder
1 tsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Combine VINEGAR, SOY SAUCE, LEMON JUICE, WASABI, SUGAR, SALT, and PEPPER. Slowly whisk in OLIVE OIL and SESAME OIL. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. I always taste my dressing my dipping a piece of lettuce or cucumber into it. This way, you can see how it's going to taste when used on your salad, not just on its own where it might be too tart or bitter.

Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad

1/2 head of Red Leaf Lettuce
Large handful of Baby Greens
12 slices of English Cucumber
12 Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 Cup of Bleu Cheese – Crumbled
1 Pear – Cored & Sliced

Assemble each salad on a small plate, garnish with pear slices and bleu cheese. I usually allow each person to add their own dressing instead of tossing the lettuce.

Come back on Friday to hear all about my fabulous Mocha Cake and what inspired me to create the recipe!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 3, 2012

Mandarin Soup

Year of the Dragon

I’ve been sharing a lot of soups lately, mostly because it’s winter. The weather has been tricking me into thinking spring is coming on, but I’m still in full-on soup mode. Hey, they’re delicious, filling, and most contain everything you need for a complete meal! And, we’re still celebrating the Chinese New Year with this delicious Mandarin Soup that I’ve been making for more than 15 years.

When I was a newly married, bright-eyed baby, I had very little confidence in my cooking. So, early on I gravitated toward simple recipes that didn’t take me outside of the self-imposed comfort zone. One of my favorite wedding gifts was from my friend Cathy, 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes. This 500 page tome starts with the basics of stocking your kitchen, travels through entertaining as a vegetarian, and finishes with a trove of soups, entrees, breads, sides, salads, desserts, and so much more. If you’re need great starter vegetarian cookbook or want to kick start your meal ideas, Carol Gelles’ is your girl! This soup is inspired by Carol's Mandarin Soup.

Total Prep & Cooking Time: 25 Minutes
Serves: 4

Mandarin Soup

1 Cup Boiling Water
2 Cups Shitake Mushrooms – Sliced
5 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 TBSP corn starch
2 tsp Soy Sauce
2 TBSP Cold Water
1 Cup Carrots – Julienned
1 Egg – Beaten
1 Cup Extra Firm Tofu – Diced
2 Cups Fresh Spinach or Kale – Torn into pieces
1/2 Cup Bamboo Shoots
1/2 Cup Baby Corn
Thinly sliced scallions to garnish
Sesame Seeds to garnish

Pour the boiling WATER over the sliced SHITAKE MUSHROOMS and put aside.

In a little bowl, whisk together CORN STARCH, SOY SAUCE, and COLD WATER.

In a large stock pot, add the VEGETABLE BROTH, and whisk in the soy sauce mixture. Add the mushrooms with their liquid and the CARROTS to the broth and bring to a boil, stirring or whisking continuously. After boiling, slowly stir in the EGG, being sure to break it up to ensure a silky texture.

Lower the heat to medium and add TOFU, SPINACH OR KALE, BAMBOO SHOOTS, and BABY CORN. Continue to simmer until the spinach or kale is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. The kale will take a few minutes longer to cook, if you choose that option.

Garnish with SCALLIONS and SESAME SEEDS. Enjoy!

If you’re wondering why I try to incorporate more vegetables and vegetarian meals into my diet, I’ll be posting more about the Carbon Footprint Debate in the coming weeks. But here’s a bit of *cough* light reading from the New York Times. What are you doing to be more green?

Thanks for reading!