Eggnog: Not Just for Drinking

Now that Thanksgiving is past it is time to fully embrance the Holiday Season.  I don't know about you, but I alreaady have my tree up and the house decorated.  This is our first Christmas in our new house and I couldn't wait to put up decorations.  And course it is time to start baking all my favorite holiday recipes. One of my favorite winter flavors is eggnog. Yes it is great in glass with some rum, but it is even better in your favorite desserts! 

My favorite eggnog recipe is by far Eggnog Cookies with Rum Frosting.  These cookies are so popular when I make them I inevitably have to make several batches throughout the holiday.  I usually end up freezing dough to make more cookies after the stores run out of eggnog.   My sister likes these cookies so much she asked me to make them for her birthday, but it is hard to find eggnog in May!  Even though the cookie itself is fantastic the rum frosting truly completes them.  I know not everyone loves rum like Mr. Apron and I do, but you can totally adjust the amount of rum your using to your own taste.
Eggnog Rum Cake is another great holiday dessert that emcompasses two of my favorite flavors.  Even though it uses cake mix it has all the flavor and taste of 100 percent homemade. This is great option when you have a lot to make and are short on time.   The rum glaze makes this cake perfect. 
And finally for a seasonal spin on a traditional dish try the Eggnog Tiramisu Trifle.  This dessert is not nearly as hard as it looks and it makes a great presentation in a trifle bowl.  This might seem like a complicated recipe at first glance, but ike a traditional tiramisu it is just a lot of steps, nothing too difficult. It is definitely worth the time you put in. If you don't like a lot of liquor, you can easily reduce the amount with still having the flavor. This is a great make ahead dish since it has to sit overnight. 

I hope this gives you some ideas as you start planning your holiday baking! 

Apple Pie 2011 Edition

Apple pie is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.  And since I made my first pie, I have been on a quest to perfect my recipe.  Last year I used the Cook's Illustrated pie crust with vodka and it was a good crust.  Its very easy, and if you follow the directions you can't mess it up.  Because it's so hassle-free its a great crust if you are making a lot or if you want to stock your freezer with homemade crust.  Over the past year I have used that crust for other pies and for pot pies the recipe is fine.  I like to make a bunch and have it handy for when I have leftover chicken.  

But for apple pie, especially apple pie that is being served on a holiday, I wanted a better crust.  I have experimented with a few recipes and I am please to say I have finally found one that is worthy of my Thanksgiving Apple Pie.  It is flaky, buttery and super tasty.  

Like most other pie crusts the key is keeping the ingredients cold.  I cannot stress this enough.  I will keep the butter and water in the freezer until I need it.  Not long enough to get frozen, but once I have the water measured and the butter cut, it goes in the freezer.
I used the same filling recipe from last year with one addition: lemon zest.   I really like how the zest reacts with the spices and helps to bring out the flavor of the apples.  Although the rest of the recipe is the same, the addition of the lemon makes a big difference.  One of the tricks to this recipe is the make sure the sauce has thickened.  You don't want it too runny.  It should coat the apples not still look like cider.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I wonder if I can have left over apple pie for breakfast?  It's kind of like a danish, right? 

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor, pulse to combine flour and salt.  Add butter (keep in freezer until needed) and pulse until the mixture looks likes coarse crumbs.  With the machine running, add the ice water  through the feed tube (I usually keep the water in the freezer until this point to keep chilled) just until the dough is blended. Do not over process.  Remove the dough onto a clean work surface.  Divide in half and place each half on plastic wrap and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Can be frozen up to a month.  Makes enough for one double crust pie, or two single crust pies.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Apple Pie Filling
3 lbs. Granny Smith apples Smith
½  cup light brown sugar
¼  cup granulated sugar
1 ½  teaspoon cinnamon
¾  teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup apple cider

Peel, core and cut apples into about 1 inch thick slices. Place in a pot large enough to hold the apples with some extra room. Add the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest and nutmeg to the apples. Stir the mixture to coat the apples. Dissolve the corn starch into the apple cider. Mix this into the apple mixture. Turn the heat onto medium to start cooking the apples. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the apples have softened and the sauce has thickened. Place the mixture in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until it is cool. Once the apple filling is cool, scoop it into a prepared pie shell, and cover the top with another layer of pie shell. Seal the two crusts together.  If desired coat the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 to 50 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the crust looks golden.

Thanksgiving Cookies

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  You didn't think I would let a major holiday go by without making cookies?  Of course I wouldn't.  This year I kept the Thanksgiving cookies a little simpler.  I have the traditional turkey.  Which is a little different than last years.  Every year I try to vary the turkey, with different details.  I also changed the leaf this year and just used sanding sugar to bring out the bright orange color. New this year is the "give thanks" cookie.   I'm still not 100 percent sure about it.  It's growing on me. Ask me again about it in mid-December.
And my favorite cookie, making a comeback from last year is the Indian Corn cookie or Maize.  Maize is very popular in the New England area around Thanksgiving for decorative purposes.  I am not sure how popular it is in other parts of the country, but a lot of people use colorful corn on their doors and in other holiday decorations around their home.
So, what do think of this year's cookies?  I loved last year's Thanksgiving cookies so much, that it's hard not to compare them. (Though I am still getting teased about the sparkly pilgrim hats from last year)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I made my pie dough last night and will finnish the pie tonight.  I am also making another batch of the pumpkin chocolate chip bars.  I just can't get enough of those.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Idea: Pilgrim Pie

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the leftovers; but after a while, I get a little sick of Turkey.  I don't like eating the same thing several days in a row.  A few weeks after Thanksgiving, I start craving turkey again, and wish that I still had turkey and all the side dishes to eat for dinner.  This is why I love the Pilgrim Pie. It is all the great foods from Thanksgiving wrapped into a convenient pie that can easily be frozen so that Mr. Apron can enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing any night of the week.  
This is such an easy meal to put together all you need is a pie dish and Thanksgiving leftovers.  You don't even need exact measurements.  This is one of those dishes that you can use what you have on hand and easily substitute an ingredient.  First, spray a pie dish with a non-stick cooking spray.  Then layer stuffing at the bottom so that it covers the bottom of the pan.
On top of the stuffing, lay pieces of turkey.   About a cup should be plenty but feel free to add more or less depending on how much turkey you have.  Cover the turkey with gray. 
On top of the gray, layer about a half a cup of corn.  I mostly use corn, but you can use basically any vegetable you have on hand or a mix of vegetables.   
And finally top the pie with mashed potatoes.  I find this to be easiest if the potatoes are at room temperature, not cold.  I usually about two cups, but again, this a flexible recipe and you can use more or less. 

To freeze, wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap, then foil.  I recommend defrosting in the refrigerator before cooking to reduce cooking time, but it can be cooked directly from the freezer.  Cook at 350 degrees for 30-35 if defrosted, 60-70 minutes if frozen.

Egg Strata

This dish is family tradition.  My mother used to make it on Christmas morning and for other special occasions.  This strata is a great option for a large family breakfast or if you having guests over for brunch.  I was a very picky eater growing up, but I always loved this dish when my mom made it.

This recipe might seem like a lot of work, but this is actually very easy to prepare. Essentially, cheese and ham is layered between white bread then covered in a egg and milk mixture, topped with corn flakes then all baked together.  You could even add more than just ham to the cheese layer.  Mushrooms, peppers, onions would all work too.  I know of people who have given it a Mexican flair and added taco seasoning and spicy peppers.  You can really adapt this to your family's tastes.

It is made ahead the night before so your prep in the morning is minimal, leaving time to socialize with guests or work on other dishes. This recipe makes a lot, so if the crowd you are serving isn't huge be prepared for leftovers.  It does reheat in the microwave well, but it tastes best served 30 minutes after being removed from the oven. 

Egg Strata 
16 slices white bread, crust removed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
6 eggs
4 cups milk
1 lb ham, diced
16 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
16 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cornflakes
Butter (about three tablespoons)

Butter bottom of eight pieces of bread.  Lay the slices buttered side down in bottom of pan.  Sprinkle ham and the cheese over the bread.  Butter remaining slices of bread, and lay buttered side down on top of cheese layer.  Whisk together eggs, milk and mustard .  Pour over  everything in the pan.  Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning: Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Saute cornflakes in butter til light brown put on top of bread.  Cook uncovered one hour.  Let set 30 minutes before serving.  (I will cover it loosely with foil to retain the heat).

Thanksgiving Baking Inspiration

Thanksgiving is next week which means it is time to finalize your menus and decide what desserts you will be serving after all the Turkey.  Turkey may be filling, but I always have room for dessert.  (Regular readers this shouldn't surprise you.)  To help you in planning for Turkey day I've complied some Pink Apron tested and approved recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving. 
Pies are Thanksgiving tradition.   I am personally partial to apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top, but three are so many to choose from.   Don't be afriad of making your own pie crust.  It is not as hard as you think and homemade pie crust tastes so much better than frozen shells.
If you are looking for an alterntive to pies or another dish to serve long side pies, I highly recommend the Pumpkin Crunch Cake.  This cake is moist, yet has a crunch to it.  It also has cream cheese frosting, which is never a bad idea (in my opinion).  I guarantee this cake will impress your guests!
Chocolate pumpkin cupcakes are always a crowd pleaser in the Pink Apron house.  The pumpkin isn't very strong tasting so it will satisfy any chocoholics (like Mr. Apron).  This is kid friendly dish too.  I know when I was younger I didn't really like pie, but cupcakes...well I've always liked those. 
And I know that these were recent post, but pumpkin chocolate chip bars are a new fall favorite.  I have had several people make these bars since I posted them and they got rave reviews. These bars are super easy and taste like little pieces of heaven.  I couldn't leave these guys out!

I hope that this posts helps you in the next week as you finalize your Thanksgiving meals.  We are guests this Thanksgiving so I only have bring dessert, not make a full meal.  I have not finalized my baking but right now I am working on Thanksgiving cookies and am planning on making apple pie (new recipe) and pumpkin chocolate chip bars.   I'll let you know how it goes. 

Not Your Mother's French Toast

Greek cuisine is about good living: good food and positive healthy life.   For many people the idea of good food and a healthy life mean sacrificing taste or only eating small portions, but this is simply not the case.  The Greek diet is proof that you can live a healthy life without depriving yourself of good tasting food. 

This is my second post for FAGE Greek Yogurt.  I honestly believe that one of the easiest ways to bring a positive healthy life into your diet without sacrificing taste is by using Greek Yogurt in dishes that you would normally make.  By substituting cream, mayonnaise, sour cream and other thickening agents with FAGE Greek Yogurt, you can easily remove the fat, add in protein and keep all the flavor.  Mr. Apron and I have been doing this for years and I can attest that it works.  There is a reason why the Greek diet is constantly rated as one of the healthiest.  
During the week my breakfasts are very simple. Usually fruit, oat bran and Greek yogurt that I eat after a run as I head out to work.  But on the weekends when I have more time I love being able to make a breakfast and invite family members over.  French toast is one of my family's favorites, but ordinary french toast can get a little boring.  A certain theme park used to sell a version of french toast that I loved.  Many people have tried recreating it and there are versions of the recipe on the internet but all them require heavy cream.  So, I decided to create my own version using FAGE Greek Yogurt. 

For me this french toast epitomizes "good living". If the Greek God Zeus were to ask for french toast this is what he would want to be served.  This isn't a simple french toast you make in pan.  It soaks in the batter overnight and is then baked all together in a loaf pan.  The brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, and yogurt all meld together with the bread. Once the bread is baked together it has so much flavor you really don't need to cover it with maple syrup like traditional french toast.  A few drops will satisfy any maple cravings.  And as a host I love this dish because you prep it the night before and then you put it in the oven.  If you are having guests over you don't have be in front of the stove.  All you have to do is cut it and serve to your guests.
Not Your Mothers French Toast
16 Slices of White Bread
1 1/2 sticks butter sliced
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon divided
1 1/2 cups FAGE Greek Yogurt
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mixed together brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon set aside.

In a medium sized bowl add Greek Yogurt, eggs, vanilla and remaining teaspoon of cinnamon.  Beat together with a handheld mixer until well blended.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Spray a loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray.  Layer three pieces of bread on bottom of pan.  Evenly distribute one quarter of the brown sugar mixture on top of the bread. Place one quarter of the butter on top of the brown sugar.  Repeat with three more layers of bread, brown sugar and butter.  Top with remaining three pieces of bread.  Slowly pour yogurt batter one top of the bread.  Be sure to evenly distribute it and get in all the corners and edges.  Cover with parchment paper and wrap with foil.  Place in refrigerator and allow to sit overnight.

The next morning preheat oven to 325 degrees.  When oven is at temperature remove loaf pan from refrigerator.  Place loaf pan on a cookie sheet to catch any dripping to put in oven.  Bake cover for one hour.  After one hour, remove foil and parchment paper and bake for another 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and invert loaf over a cutting board.  Cut loaf and serve.

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

Food Truck'n with Mr. Apron: Roxy's Grilled Cheese

So many of you are probably wondering why I have suddenly made my debut on the Pink Apron Baker blog. While I would like to think it’s because she recognized that the internet was missing a rare voice and a subtle wit unfortunately it’s probably more that she was sick of me telling her about my gastro adventures during my lunch breaks.

One recurring adventure that was the real inspiration of my guest blogs was my constant exploration of Boston’s food truck scene. Food trucks are relatively new to Boston but have been are one of the newest culinary experiences that has been picking up steam in cities across the country. In fact the Food Network just completed their second season of the Great Food Truck Race which pits food trucks from across the country against each other as they compete to win a grand prize.
Boston has just recently embraced the food truck movement by setting up sites for trucks to serve their fare from morning til night. After a lot of local fanfare I was able to experience my first food truck food at SOWA, a large market that sets up in Boston every Sunday. Once I had my first taste of food truck food I was officially hooked and now am trying to convert anyone who will listen to the wonders of food truck eating.

In the name of “research” I recently went to visit one of my favorite local trucks and arguably one of the most famous local eateries due to their awesome showing in the above mentioned Great Food Truck Race- Roxy’s Grilled Cheese. Most think of grilled cheese as the lazy person’s lunch but I would argue that Roxy’s sees the sandwich as a delicacy. They use great ingredients like Vermont cheddar cheese, homemade guacamole (I know- on grilled cheese! but it works), and even braised short ribs!
On this particular trip I chose to get the Chorizo Mac & Cheese with a side of poutine. This is a complete meal (don’t try to convince your spouse that you ate a small lunch and can’t wait for dinner because they will see right through you, or not because your stomach will have a noticeable bulge).

This sandwich is actually macaroni and cheese tucked between two perfectly griddled, crisp, pieces of bread. From what I’ve read/heard Roxy’s actually uses mayonnaise on their bread instead of butter to get their bread perfectly brown and crispy, not to mention tasty. Mixed in the mac and cheese are large chunks of chorizo which is a pork sausage with a good kick to it. It’s grilled cheese like this that makes you wonder why you spent years throwing two pieces of wonder bread in a pan.
For a side I ordered the poutine. Poutine is a dish that is popular in French Canada and in my opinion needs to be more of a staple in the American menu. It is French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Roxy uses sausage gravy which is a good choice in my opinion. These were so good I would eat them alone as a meal. Combined with a grilled cheese from Roxy’s and you will be in food heaven.
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese is a good example of how food trucks have become more than the silver trucks you used to see at construction sites. If you find yourself near a food truck with an appetite don’t pass by and continue your search for chain restaurant fast food. If you do you’ll just be missing out on some of the best food you can get in the city. Who knows, maybe I’ll already be there researching my next post on the Pink Apron Baker blog.

Wicked Good (Even Your Kids Will Eat It) Broccoli!

Yes, you are on the right blog.  Today's post is in fact about broccoli.  Not cookies that look like broccoli, but real broccoli that is so good I challenge any picky eater not to like this dish.  Personally, I like broccoli- I don't love it-but this dish makes me want to run out to the store and buy a couple bunches to eat.  

I grew up not liking vegetables.  I think like most people my veggies growing up were basically boiled with little  no seasoning. The idea of boiled vegetables is not very appealing and doesn't bring out the flavor in the food.  Not to mention you loose most of the nutrients in the process.  But roasted vegetables are like heaven.  The roasting process brings out the flavor, witthout lossing the nutritional value, and all you need to add is just a little seasoning.

This broccoli dish is from the Barefoot Contesssa.   You roast the broccoli with garlic and olive oil and then when it is removed from the oven you immediately add lemon juice and zest and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  I don't know what gave Inta the idea to add lemon after roasting, but the lemon just adds so much demention to the broccoli flavor.   And of course, who doesn't like cheese!  I challenge any picky eater not to like this broccoli.

One important tip is that you want to serve this dish immediately. So if you are planning meal take this out of the oven last and have the lemon and parmesan ready to go and serve immediately.  

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parmesan. Serve hot.

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Super Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

One of the staples in my refrigerator is Greek yogurt.  I find Greek yogurt to be so versatile and able to be used in so many dishes that I don't think I go a week without buying several containers.  I frequently use Greek yogurt to replace sour cream and heavy cream since it is loaded with protein and significantly lower in fat.   Mr. Apron only recently realized that we haven't bought sour cream in well over a year.   He never noticed or complained when I used Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on taco night or for baked potatoes. 

As a foodie I really enjoy great tasting dishes. Greek yogurt lets me make enjoyable foods that are lower in fat without sacrificing the taste or the quality.  Life is too short to make bland tasting food. 
Given my love for Greek yogurt I jumped at the chance to create original recipes using FAGE Greek Yogurt.  I had so many ideas it look a while to narrow them down.  Naturally I wanted to do at least one dessert using FAGE Greek Yogurt.  Super Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Ganache is an original recipe.  It took several trials to get the proportions right, but I love the final product and I know you will too!

This cake is very chocolatey and moist.  The yogurt gives it a great texture and keeps it from getting dry.  I am not a nutritionist, but given that there is no whole milk or sour cream in this cake, the fat content is definitely lower than traditional cakes.  It got rave reviews from my family.  

As good as the cake is, my favorite part is the ganache.   It is incredibly chocolatey and it has a great tang from the yogurt. I used semisweet chocolate to balance the flavor of the yogurt.  Ganache usually has heavy cream so this version is much lower in fat but has all the taste!  It is super creamy and chocolatey and goes perfectly with the cake.  I will definitely be using this ganache in other recipes.  
Super Chocolate Yogurt Cake 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup of high quality cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softed
1 1/2 cups FAGE Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

Pre-heat over to 325 degree.  Butter or coat bundt pan with a non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.   In an electric mixer using flat paddle attachment beat together the butter and yogurt until well mixed, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla followed by the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients until incorporated.  Batter will be thick. Evenly spread batter in prepared bundt pan.  Place cake in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for ten minutes, remove cake from pan onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. While cake is cooling prepare ganache.

A Pink Apron Baker Original Recipe. 
Chocolate Ganache
12oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
2/3 cup FAGE Greek Yogurt

Place the chocolate chips in a medium heat safe bowl over a sauce pan of boiling water. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted.  Remove the bowl from the pan.  Immediately place a heaping table spoonful of the yogurt into the melted chocolate and whisk to incorporate.  Whisk in the remaining yogurt in small batches until smooth. (It is really important take the chocolate off the heat and to only add a little yogurt at a time so that the yogurt doesn't curdle.)  Spoon ganche over cooled cake.  Allow to set for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Another Pink Apron Baker Original Recipe! 
And perhaps you noticed The Pink Apron just got a make over!  I hope you like the new look.  I am very excited about it.  I feel like the new site is a bit easier to navigate. I also hope you liked hearing from Mr. Apron last week.  Mr. Apron will now be a regular contributor to the blog.  Every Thursday, you can expect to hear from Mr. Apron about his disasters in the kitchen, how he hates it when I sneak "healthy stuff" into his food and whatever else is on his mind.  Happy eating!

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Have you ever made something that was absolutely amazing, way more amazing that you thought it would be?  That's what happened to me with these pumpkin chocolate chip bars.  I was looking for something to bring to work on Halloween and I decided on this recipe.  These bars looked good and got good reviews so I was optimistic, but these bars were way beyond good.  A better adjective would be incredible.  They are so moist and tasty I dare you to make these and eat just one.  The pumpkin and chocolate chips go together perfectly!  Mr. Apron, who is not pumpkin's biggest fan, kept asking for more.  My colleagues at work keep asking me for the recipe.  My only regret is that I only made one pan of bars.  Sometime tells me I am going to have to make another batch soon.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.  Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Source: Martha Stewart

Mr. Apron Speaks and an Ode to Wegman's

Well fellow Pink Apron followers, I hope you didn’t have your hopes up that the guest contributor would be someone like Chef Duff or Buddy Valastro. Alas, it’s only me, Mr. Apron. While many of you know me from my hand picked favorites on this site what you may not know is that I can’t bake or cook at all. I have repeatedly screwed up things as simple as boxed brownies (2 separate batches messed up in the same night- not sure how that happened…something to do with oil) and when I have tried to cook I have managed to make the kitchen look like a mad scientists lab and taken 3 hours to make what it would take the average cook 45 minutes to complete.

So given my lack of skill in the kitchen what will I be talking about in my guest spots? We’ll have to see! Much to the chagrin of the Pink Apron, I am not much of a planner and a bit of a procrastinator so many of these posts will most likely be whatever I come up with in the moment! While I don’t bake or cook I do enjoy eating and often find myself on unexpected culinary adventures.
One adventure in the works is a trip to Wegman’s. For those of you not familiar with Wegman’s it is a best described as a grocery store. But it’s more than that. It’s like if Disney opened a grocery store. (Someone even proposed at the new Wegman's last week. It really is like Disney) The Pink Apron first discovered this wonder land when living in the Mid-Atlantic region. We would travel for miles and make it a day trip. Now a Wegman’s has opened closer to where we live now and the thought of driving 25 minutes to get there does not faze me in the least.
 Our Wegman's Shopper's Club Card-I didn't wait to get this!

My favorite thing about Wegman’s is their food court. How many times have you been at a store and said to yourself- I wonder how that tastes? Well at Wegman’s you’ll know because you eat it! Pizza, subs, sushi, coffee, desserts, Chinese food buffet, soups…it’s all there! Then while wandering the different sections of the store you’ll find wine tastings set up. What wine goes with this cheese? Well let’s see shall we!

Needless to say I am very excited for our first visit. I feel like I’m going to see an old friend. And the best part- though I’ll be eating my way through the store and too full to move when we leave I know that when we’re there the Pink Apron will being stocking the cupboard which means more Mr. Apron’s favorites on the way!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Contest Winner

Chocolate and pumpkin: I don't know what it is about these two flavors, but they go together so nicely.  Chocolate pumpkin cupcakes are one of my favorite fall baked goods and I normally make several batches between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.  I have been making chocolate pumpkin cupcakes for a while but this year I decided to do a variation and make a cake.  I know, not a dramatic change, but it is change nonetheless.  I also made a plain cream cheese frosting, rather than an orange flavored one.  This was decision that was made more because I forgot to buy the oranges but it worked out well in the end. 

Bottom line: in cupcake form or in cake form this is a great recipe.  The pumpkin makes this cake super moist and the flavor has a lot of depth.  There is a small variation in the baking temperature from the cupcakes and cake, so look at the cupcake post if you want to make cupcakes.  And with or without orange, the cream cheese is awesome.  It's cream cheese frosting after all, what's not to like.  But if you're feeling a little adventurous, try it with the orange, just don't forget the oranges at the store.
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes 
2 ½ cup(s) all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour 
1 cup(s) good-quality cocoa 
2 tablespoon(s) good-quality cocoa 
1 tablespoon(s) baking powder 
1 ½  teaspoon(s) baking soda 
2 ¼  teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon 
¾  teaspoon(s) fresh-grated nutmeg 
¾  cup(s) buttermilk 
1 ½  cup(s) pumpkin purée 
1 ½  teaspoon(s) vanilla extract 
2 ¼  stick(s) unsalted butter, softened 
1 ½  cup(s) (firmly packed) dark brown sugar 
1 ½  cup(s) granulated sugar 
5 large eggs
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease three 9 inch round cake pans. Set aside.  Make the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition. Fill each cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for 35 minutes. 
Cream Cheese Frosting 
1 package(s) (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened 
¼  cup(s) unsalted butter, softened 
1/2  teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract 
4 cup(s) confectioners' sugar 
orange food coloring
Blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 3 more minutes. Add the food coloring and gently stir until the color is uniform. Chill the frosting until ready to ice the cake. 
Adapted from Country Living

Now for the Cake Boss cookbook giveaway.  Thanks everyone for all the entries.  The winner was Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.  Congratulation Stephanie!  

And, I am very excited for Thursday's post.  Starting this Thursday I will have a regular contributor.  Who is it?  You'll have to wait until Thursday to find out.