It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal time once again. Which means it’s been a month since my blog went ballistic and HostGator tried to shut me down and I almost (yet again) swore that I was just going to stop blogging because I HATE THE TECHNICAL STUFF. Of course that all happened about one hour before my SRC post was supposed to go up. So in case you didn’t see it, last month I served up Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles.
This month I was assigned to the blog Why I Am Not Skinny by Maxcie. The author grew up in South Africa and now lives in Brussels, Belgium, from where she shares restaurant reviews as well as delicious recipes.
I admit that I get very scared by recipes in metric (being your basic American home cook). I had my mathematician husband work out this cake recipe for me. I rounded up or down in some cases, but the cake turned out great so I feel good about it. Instead of a traditional pineapple upside-down cake with brown sugar, this version has homemade caramel and mangoes.
Maxcie used fresh mangoes, but I had a giant bag of frozen chopped ones so I used some of those. I still think it’s impossible to find really ripe mangoes here like you can in Thailand (oh, I still have fantasies about mangoes there!) so I won’t blame you if you decide to use peaches or nectarines instead. But the slight bite of the mango went well with the sweet cake and caramel, and we all enjoyed the cupcakes tremendously!
These adorable cupcakes with a fancy caramel and mango topping are adapted from Why I Am Not Skinny. Like Maxcie, you can also make this into an 8x8 cake and cook for 45-50 minutes.
1/2 c. white sugar
2 T water
3 T butter
1 c. diced mango, fresh or frozen
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 2 T water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let boil without stirring until the sugar turns caramel brown. Remove from heat; add butter and swirl in by shaking the pan. When butter is fully incorporated, pour into 12 muffin cups evenly. Set aside to cool. When slightly hardened, divide mango pieces among the cups, pressing slightly into the caramel.
With an electric mixer, cream together softened butter and 3/4 c. sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a small mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixer and mix until combined. Carefully add milk and gently stir until the batter is uniform.
Spoon or scoop the batter on top of the mangoes in the muffin cups.
Cook cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a plate or cooling rack.
I was assigned to La Cocina de Leslie this month. At first I was a wee bit scared about venturing out of my comfort zone, because she shares authentic Mexican recipes. Leslie, a mom of 4, grew up in Southern California but moved to Mexico, where her husband grew up.
In the end, I stumbled upon Leslie’s recipe for Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles, Mexican rice and beans. It didn’t have any ingredients that were too foreign for me to find here (we don’t have a huge Hispanic population in Chattanooga) and sounded amazing. And it was. SO AMAZING. We ate the rice mixture burrito-style, with thick flour tortillas, sour cream, lettuce, and cheese. Everything came together simply, and the flavors worked so well.
And now I want to make EVERYTHING from Leslie’s site.
15 oz. canned pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
if desired, tortillas and taco toppings like lettuce, sour cream, salsa, cheese, etc.
*You can substitute regular chili powder for the ancho chile powder, but I loved the smokiness of it. And if you like spicy, spicy foods, you can use some chipotle chile powder in place it or some of the regular as well.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt, the ancho chile powder, and 1 tablespoon regular chili powder. Cook until the chicken is browned on all sides, then use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate. Set aside.
In the same skillet, heat another 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the rice and saute, stirring often, until the rice is golden in color.
Meanwhile, add tomatoes, peeled and quartered onion, peeled garlic cloves, and chicken broth to a blender. Blend until pureed.
Add the blended mixture to the rice, then add remaining tablespoon of chili powder, cumin, and a little more salt. Stir until combined. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 10 minutes.
Gently add the chicken and beans. Bring back to a boil, then reduce again and simmer, covered, until the liquid has all been absorbed. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Keep a careful watch on the pan.
Let sit off the heat for 10 minutes before serving.
As a sidenote, I also made these Caramel Pecan Paletas, with some melted chocolate drizzled in to make them “Turtle Popsicles.” Unfortunately I had a hard time getting them to release from my molds, so I didn’t get a good picture. But they were delicious, too!
I picked up an extra reveal for this month’s Secret Recipe Club at the last minute – and I am sure glad that I did! These little tea cakes come via Angela of Spinach Tiger. Angela’s site has a wealth of recipes. She’s a Nashville blogger, too, which makes me wish I still lived there so we could hang out! Or, you know, she could make me dinner. I wouldn’t mind having these chicken thighs with pavlova cups for dessert. I’m only 2 hours away, Angela! You let me know when!
Anyway, when I saw the link to her recipe for Tennessee T Cakes, it definitely brought a picture to my mind. I live in Chattanooga, after all, just an hour-and-a-half from Knoxville.
But the recipe really led to a lovely tea cake recipe, made famous by a baker in Nashville when Oprah named her cakes one of her favorite things in 2006. While a quick skim shows that it was a secret recipe but consisted of just flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla, Angela adds cream cheese to her recipe for a divine richness.
These tea cakes are not quite cake, definitely not the cookie type – they are gooey caramel deliciousness. They come together in a snap with ingredients you probably have around. Make some for a quick treat for the family!
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray or lining with papers (I use silicone muffin liners).
In a small saucepan, melt brown sugar and butter together on medium-low heat, stirring often. Once melted, turn heat to low. Add cream cheese and whisk until cream cheese is all melted and the mixture is uniform. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
When the brown sugar mixture is cooled off, whisk an egg into it. Add flour mixture gradually and stir until all the flour is incorporated.
Divide batter among the muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes*, until a tester comes out mostly clean and tops don't look gooey.
Sift powdered sugar over the tops. Cool and then enjoy!
*Angela said hers only took 16 minutes. My muffin liners are kind of small, so my muffins may have been taller and taken longer to cook. Start checking muffins for doneness around the 16-18 minute mark.
This month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal also ended up being a culinary lesson for me. Let me introduce you to Chicken Bog, also known as Chicken Pilau or Chicken Perloo or Chicken Perleau.
Here’s what America’s Test Kitchen has to say about it.
Perloo … traces its roots back to 7th-century Persia. From Persia it spread throughout the Middle East (pullao), Turkey (piliaf), to Southern Europe (Spanish paella) and parts of Africa. With each stop on the map, slight tweaks or changes were made. During the Crusades, the technique made its way to France, namely Provence, where it was known as pilau. The French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution, traveled from France and settled in coastal South Carolina. They soon tailored their cooking techniques and ingredient lists to take advantage of the abundance around them.
Chicken Perleau/Bog is regional now to Lowcountry South Carolina, where there are even competitions much like we have chili cook-offs around here.
Even though my husband is from South Carolina, he had never heard of or had Chicken Bog; he is from the upstate. So it was a first for both of us! We served this down-home dish to my sister and her fiance as well as our kids, and everyone seemed to like it!
My assigned SRC blog where I found this dish was The Saturday Evening Pot, a blog written by husband-wife team John and Anne. John is a chef, so to see a foodie blog through that filter was fun! John and Anne share recipes as well as posts about marriage, family, food in general, and their Christian faith. I loved the series of recipes they did imagining the Wedding Feast in heaven!
Chef John is from Charleston, South Carolina, and says he grew up with Chicken Bog on the table. Thanks for the recipe, Chef!
From what I understood from the great debate I found online, people say Chicken Pila/Perloo/Perleau is called that because it’s more like a rice pilaf – the rice is more dry. Chicken Bog is when the rice is more wet, like in this method. If you want a fluffier rice, you’ll have to measure the liquid out before you add the rice to your normal cooking measurements (1:2 ratio of rice to liquid for brown rice).
Adapted from The Saturday Evening Pot. Chicken Bog is a great gluten-free alternative to the traditional Southern chicken and dumplings.
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 lb. smoked sausage, diced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins, or a handful of baby carrots, halved
1 c. brown rice
Place chicken pieces in a large stockpot. Cover with water and stir in a good sprinkle each of salt and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through and tender.
Remove chicken pieces with tongs to a plate.
Bring liquid back to a boil and add sausage pieces, carrots, and rice. Reduce to about medium, to a strong simmer.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones. Add meat to the pot.
Simmer on low until rice is done. If you have time, you can cover and cook an additional hour or more, stirring occasionally, to let rice absorb all the liquid.
I feel like I could set a world record for starting recipes that I don’t actually have the ingredients for. I feel like it happens a lot.
I set out to make Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Cookies from Magnolia Days today. So I get out the chocolate chips and realize I don’t have any butter. This almost never happens. (Except apparently I’ve been on a baking binge lately, as I see my last two recipes are desserts, too!) I’d already dragged my two boys to Target today, but we hit up Bi-Lo for butter and a few other little things.
So I start again. I melt the butter and chocolate. I mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. And then, you know what? I don’t have any pecans.
But what is the kitchen for if not creativity? (And, well, basic sustenance.) I decided if we were going to have nut-free cookies I would jazz them up with Butterscotch Schnapps instead of the supercheap bourbon I happened to have a tiny bit of left after making homemade vanilla. I am guessing these would be really good with some chopped-up toasted almonds in them, too. Or with two cookies sandwiching some butter pecan ice cream. Yummm.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, you could substitute butterscotch syrup, the kind you make lattes with. (Butterscotch lattes are my FAVORITE, by the way. If you ever want to buy me a Starbucks.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Put chocolate chips and butter, cut into pieces, in a large measuring cup. Microwave on high 1 minute; stir. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until completely smooth. Let sit 10 minutes to cool.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together brown sugar, eggs, butterscotch schnapps, and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and mix until uniform. Add dry ingredients and mix on lowest speed until combined. Scrape sides and stir. Let batter sit 5-10 minutes to set up slightly.
Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop batter onto cookie sheets. (You want 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons per cookie. I used a small cookie scoop.) Space cookies 2 inches apart.
Bake 10-12 minutes, until tops are crackled and edges of cookies are set. Let cool on cookie sheets at least 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.
Sorry, I got sidetracked thinking about that yummyness. This month I came really close to backing out of my Secret Recipe Club reveal. I left it until kind of late, and then I came down with strep throat. And I was a feverish, icky mess!
But then I went back and looked and saw my assigned blog was Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Like me, Lisa’s been in the Club since its inception. I couldn’t NOT make something from her blog! Also like me, Lisa is mostly a baker. Her blog is full of delicious muffins, pastries, cakes, bars, cookies, and any other kind of sweet you can think of.
I actually made Lisa’s Strawberry Lemonade muffins first. They were incredibly delicious, but I didn’t feel like mine turned out very picturesque. So I had to make these cookies instead. It’s a tough life.
These brownie-like cookies have chocolate and peanut butter, and then some more chocolate and peanut butter thrown in with the Reese’s pieces. I had those on hand, but using peanut butter M&Ms like Lisa did sounds divine as well.
Slightly adapted from Sweet as Sugar Cookies, these cookies are rich as brownies and enhanced by peanut butter in the batter as well as the candies.
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. mini or regular Reese's pieces, or peanut butter M&Ms
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Using a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar. On low speed, add peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix until uniform, scraping the sides of the bowl.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir or mix on low until incorporated. Batter will be thick.
Fold in candies.
Scoop by rounded spoonfuls (or use a small cookie scoop) onto lined baking sheets. Bake cookies 9-11 minutes. They will still be soft in the middle but crisper on the edges. Let cool on sheets for a few minutes before moving to cooling racks.