Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Double-Edged Sword (Double Dark Dump Cake)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this blogging thing is not easy. Thinking of things to say, finding recipes to share, and all the while trying to be mildly entertaining, these are not easy tasks.

The baking -- and the enjoying the fruits of my labor -- is equally tough. Sure most things are tasty (must be beginner's luck). In fact, they are pretty hard to resist these days. That, in and of itself, is particularly hard for me, a Weight Watcher's success story. For the 4+ years since I started my first stint, I've kept off more than 20 pounds. But with all these yummy concoctions, my well-trained defenses are weakening.

Double Not-So-Dark Dump Cake
So, when I feel like I'm teetering on the edge, I like to take a tried-and-true recipe and lighten it up a bit. My most successful attempt has been with one of my mom's classics, the Double Dark Dump Cake (so named because you just dump all the ingredients into a bowl). Made by the book, this cake is dark, rich, moist, and all around chocolate goodness. But, it also has plenty of potential as a somewhat lighter version of itself. Even with my substitutions, the cake was a crowd-pleaser at our Yom Kippur break fast.

Double Dark Dump Cake
(feel free to make the original or the lighter version -- they are both great!)

1 box devil's food cake (I used Pillsbury sugar-free mix)
1 package chocolate instant pudding (I used sugar-free fat-free chocolate, though sugar-free fat-free chocolate fudge is also a good choice)
1/2 cup oil (I subbed applesauce for half the oil. When subbing applesauce for fat, which is a great sub, never replace more than half the fat or it just gets sticky from the sugar in the applesauce)
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free, but you can also use fat free greek yogurt)
1/2 cup warm water
4 eggs
1 small package of chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350º for 40-60 mins, depending on your oven. Cool in pan until you can handle it; turn out and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar immediately before serving.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Holiday Deliciousness: Savory Bites

Welcome to my first blog post of the Jewish New Year! I hope all who celebrated had a happy and healthy start to the year, and had an easy and meaningful fast. For those who have been following, a quick report: the aforementioned homemade chicken soup and brisket were solid hits, the applesauce cake a little less rich than I remembered (apparently using Coffee Rich instead of milk not only makes it parve, it makes it better), and the time with family very lovely.

In addition to my usual sweet treats, I thought I'd share a few of the more savory highlights of the season this year.

Sweet Potato Pie
For Rosh Hashanah, I made my mother-in-law's sweet potato pie for the first time. It was super easy, tasted great, and even got a nod from Mom-in-law! I was surprised that the recipe didn't call for any particular spices (ie. cinnamon, etc.), but honestly, it didn't need it. As the recipe makes 2 pies, I am just waiting for the next opportunity to take pie #2 out of the freezer.

2 small graham cracker crusts
1 large can sweet potatoes (usually packed in syrup), drained and mashed (I also rinsed mine a bit to take off a bit of the extra sweetness)
1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup milk
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Combine last 6 ingredients with mashed potatoes, mix and pour into shells. Bake at 350º for approximately 45 minutes or pie is set.

That's it!

Caramelized Onion Frittata (adapted from
We hosted a couple of good friends, and their adorable, well-behaved little boy, for break-the-fast after Yom Kippur. Not only did we have great conversation and the best bagels in Boston (thank you, Rosenfeld's!), I tried my hand at a frittata. I'd only done one before, but this one sounded so delicious and light and hearty, I thought it would be perfect for post-fast. It turned out to be as good as it sounded. In fact, I still have some in the fridge I can't wait to have tomorrow for lunch! The recipe called for a 10" pan, but I wanted something a little bigger, so I used a 12" and upped the ingredients roughly by half.

2 cups diced baking potato
6 tablespoons water
Mister of oil (or just light drizzle of oil)
1 1/2 lbs.  sliced onion (or a little less)
1/3 cup water
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (we used a combination of rosemary and sage)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons fat-free milk
8 large egg whites, lightly beaten
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Place potato and 6 tablespoons water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and vent. Microwave at high 4-6 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Set aside.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with misted oil (tip: never use cooking spray on nonstick surfaces -- it gums up when heated and ruins the nonstick surface!). Add onion. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add garlic and cook 10 minutes,  or until golden brown, stirring frequently. While onion cooks, add 1/3-1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent onion from sticking to pan. Stir in potato, herbs, salt, and pepper. Spoon into a medium bowl; cool slightly.

Combine parmesan, milk, egg whites, and eggs in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add egg mixture to potato mixture; stir well.

Preheat broiler.

Wipe pan with a paper towel; recoat pan with misted oil. Pour potato mixture into pan. Cook over medium heat 7-9 minutes or until bottom of frittata is browned and top is almost set.

Wrap handle of pan with foil. Sprinkle 1 more tablespoon cheese over frittata. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese melts and top is set. Cut into wedges.

You can find the original recipe here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Applesauce Cake

This time of year is one of my favorites -- the Jewish High Holidays. Not only is it a great opportunity to take stock, make some changes, and get a fresh start (the latter of which I am sorely in need), it's a whole menu full of amazing food.

This year, Jay's parents will be with us here in Boston for Rosh Hashana, which means it's up to me to recreate the holiday staples. For Jay, that means his mom's sweet potato pie. For both of us, it also means homemade chicken soup (on the stove now -- keep your fingers crossed it comes out well!), brisket, and apples and honey, of course. For me, without a doubt, it's applesauce cake.
You know it's gonna be a good year when you get aluminum-wrapped loaves of love from home!
My mom's honey cake may be the longest-standing sweet component of Rosh Hashana meals, but maybe 10-15 years ago, her friend Gail shared a recipe for applesauce cake (thank you Gail!). It has since become my holiday favorite, hands down. No disrespect to the honey cake, but YUM! It's a perfect little quickbread with all the spices of fall. And it's so moist!

Every year, my mom bakes up these babies and sends them off to a few friends and family across the country for the holidays. Whenever I couldn't make it home, I knew I'd get my applesauce cake in the mail. 

This year, it was up to me to whip up my own cakes, and I cannot wait to dig in. The process is so easy and smells so good. What a great way to start off a sweet new year! L'shana Tova to all who are celebrating!!

Gail's Applesauce Cake
For batter:
1 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable (canola) oil
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk (or non-dairy creamer if you need them to be parve)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For topping:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 2 medium loaf pans.

Combine applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs and milk. Beat to blend well.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Slowly blend into applesauce mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.

Turn batter into greased loaf pans (batter will be shallow in pans). Mix topping and sprinkle on top. 

Bake at 350º for 45-50 minutes.

Cool in pans, turn out and cut into slices.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I've started this blog, a stretch of more than 7 days when the KitchenAid sits lonely and unused has led to baking withdrawal. Not mine, mind you. Rather, my husband's.

Chocolate overload
A cookie fiend and chocoholic, Jay has been spoiled by my latest obsession with this blog. So when he turned to me a few nights ago and out-and-out asked for me to make him cookies, to finally break open the bag of chocolate chips in the fridge that had been mocking him, I couldn't say no. I was his dealer and he needed a hit -- bad.

Feeling guilty, I swung for the fences and sought out a quick chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe. This time I went to my old standby, Food Network, for help. We were not disappointed. The cookies were an intense dose of chocolate, though they were a little crispy for my taste.

But, really, all that mattered was that Jay got his fix. I think I just officially became an enabler.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Cathy Lowe's recipe on

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chocolate chips, 2 Hershey's chocolate bars, chopped or M&M'S (I went with standard chocolate chips)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional -- I left them out)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl stir together butter, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.

For cookies: Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

(Recipe also has instructions for bars. Check it out here.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This blogging thing has proven harder than I thought. It's been quite a while since my last post, but as they say, life happens, and so much has been going on in the last few weeks.

In the midst of digging into my new job, and buying a new home, my grandfather passed away. It wasn't necessarily a surprise, as he had been in a nursing home for 6 years and had been declining even more rapidly over the past 6 months to a year. Nevertheless, it was a sad time. Grandpa was a wonderful guy and a very memorable character. My brother and I had a particularly special bond with him; as we were so little when he joined the family marrying our grandma, we were the first (well, second behind Grandma) that Grandpa spoiled rotten.

The quick trip to Cleveland for the funeral was indeed bittersweet. Saying goodbye to Grandpa was hard, as was remembering the other people in our lives who have passed before him. Still, remembering the good times with him, and his larger-than-life personality was so welcome after watching him slip away these many years. We even learned new things about him, like his penchance for writing the White House (and the 2 responses he got!).

Being home with my family and spending quality time with my family and close family friends was really fulfilling. And filling. When you sit shiva, there's nothing to do but welcome people to the home and eat everything they bring you. Not that I'm complaining. I got to have some of my favorite Cleveland things: rugelach from Corky & Lenny's and pizza from Geraci's. A great toast to my grandpa, a former Cleveland restauranteur, to enjoy some of the local fare. We love you Grandpa!