Monday, July 15, 2013

Carrot Pineapple Cake with TWO Frosting Options


I was rummaging through the back of my pantry yesterday and came across a couple large cans of crushed pineapple. I must have purchased them earlier in plans of making a specific recipe, but I never got around to it; does that ever happen to you?

Well, coming across these tasty cans of pineapple sparked a craving in me for something sweet, so I decided to search a few of my favorite food blogs for inspiration. Within minutes I found my recipe. Over at SkinnyTaste, Gina had created a moist and delicious carrot pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting...yes please!



Following her recipe relatively closely, I discovered that I had the majority of ingredients on hand - what I didn't, I just left out (this includes the shredded coconut, walnuts, and whole wheat flour). Now if you know me, or have read my earlier posts, you will know my extreme aversion to any kind of nut in my baked goods; I hate them. It's a texture thing; don't put crunchy things in my soft and fluffy dessert. End of story. That said, if you don't have this weird hatred of crunchy things in your soft baked goods, (like most normal people...) by all means, add them in! 

The other major change I made was in the frosting. You may be thinking, "Paula, that picture does NOT look like cream cheese frosting..." and you'd be right. Seeing as I'm lactose intolerant, I avoid dairy when possible, so the frosting you see pictured is a concoction of crushed pineapple, a package of cheesecake pudding, and cool whip. Yes, I realize this sounds like a bizarre combination, but it is actually quite delicious. Plus, when you are denied the glorious flavors of cream cheese frosting, it makes for a great substitute. If you don't have a dairy allergy, certainly try the cream cheese frosting, but for you lactose intolerant readers out there, give this alternative frosting a try.



Since this recipe came from Gina, I am not surprised by its incredible flavor. Do keep in mind, however, that Gina's recipes are lightened up a bit, so you wont see the standard cup of oil going into this carrot cake; the crushed pineapple makes up for the oil and provides a sweet, moist, and wonderfully flavorful cake. I stored mine in the refrigerator and found that the flavor improved after each day; if you have the time, I recommend letting the cooled and frosted cake chill for at least eight hours (or over night) for the flavors to really pop. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Zucchini Pizza Boats


Wow, it's been a long time since my last post; things have been slightly crazy as of late, and Paula's Plate is a bit full. Despite my lack of updates, however, I'm still busy in the kitchen and had to take a minute to share this new recipe with you.


I was craving pizza the other day, but seeing as I need to fit into my wedding dress in August, I've recently been searching for lighter twists on classic dishes. That's where my zucchini pizza boats come in.

Using zucchini as the crust, this recipe recreates all of your favorite pizza flavors in perfect individual servings. Plus, the dish is incredibly versatile; don't care for black olives? Leave them out! Do you love pepperoni? Add it in! Make these pizza boats your own, and enjoy every bite.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Yields: 6 appetizer or 3 entree servings
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 6 medium zucchini
  • 8 oz. can garlic and onion tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 oz. can sliced black olives
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Wash the zucchini well and slice lengthwise.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini, being sure to leave about one centimeter of zucchini around the edges. Set aside zucchini filling for later.
  4. Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, chop the reserved zucchini into smaller pieces. Return the chopped pieces to a medium bowl and combine with the tomato sauce, panko, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. Remove zucchini from oven after 3-4 minutes and evenly distribute tomato sauce mixture to each boat. 
  7. Top boats with remaining mozzarella cheese and black olives. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 18 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is slightly browned. The longer the zucchini are in the oven, the softer they will be; if you like firmer zucchini, bake for a shorter amount of time.
  8. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies


This recipe hardly needs an introduction. Something with the title chocolate chip cookie brownie essentially sells itself. In fact, after coming across the recipe over at Pinch of Yum, I was immediately sold and started baking immediately. I'll keep this post short and sweet so that you can do the same!



Indulgent, chewy, thick, and decadent, this dessert combines the best of two worlds - chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Can you get any better than this? I don't think so either. Enjoy!



Paula's Notes: 

  1. As Lindsey explains over at Pinch of Yum, this recipe works best with a boxed brownie mix, as homemade brownies (though ridiculously tasty) tend to sink in the middle while cooking.  That being said, feel free to experiment with your own favorite homemade recipe. If you're looking for a tasty one, this is my favorite.
  2. If you're looking for an incredibly thick brownie, bake these in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan. If you like them a bit thinner, try a 9x11.
  3. You will use about 2/3 of the chocolate chip cookie dough for the recipe. I made about 12 additional cookies with the extra dough; the cookies are delish on their own and freeze quite well.
  4. Finally, Lindsey baked her brownies at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (the first 20 minutes uncovered, the next 10 minutes covered with foil, and the last five minutes uncovered.) I followed this advice, but after 35 minutes I still had brownie soup and ended up cooking mine for about an hour total. I'm not sure why that happened, but I recommend checking your brownies with a toothpick starting around 35-40 minutes and see how they're doing. Don't be alarmed if they are still quite undercooked. The toothpick should come out relatively clean with only a few spare crumbs attached. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

Yield: 16 Brownies
Total time: 45-65 minutes (see note #4 above)
Recipe barely adapted from: Pinch of Yum
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter - softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tbls. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 18.9 ounce brownie mix - I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate
    • Eggs, oil and water required for mix.
    • See note #1 above
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Incorporate dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Prepare brownie batter according to the package instructions.
  8. Pour batter into pan sprayed with cooking spray. (See note #2 above)
  9. Crumble cookie dough over the brownie layer, covering entirely. Remember, you will likely only use about 2/3 of the dough. (See note #3 above)
  10. Place brownies in oven and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
  11. Cover brownies with tinfoil and continue baking an additional 10-15 minutes. 
  12. Check your brownies with toothpick. If they are finished baking, remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Otherwise, continue baking until fully cooked. (See note #4 above)