6/13/15

Cranberry Avocado Salad with Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette


Father's Day is always a grilling holiday at our house. We cook up meat and make a few salads and a yummy dessert and Dad is a happy camper (mom too)! I pinned this Cranberry Avocado Salad with Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette from the Cafe Sucre Farine on my Salad and Veggies Board a few months ago. It's definitely going to be in our regular salad rotation this summer!
The Sweet White Balsamic Dressing and crunchy sweet nuts are the perfect topping for the creamy avocado and greens. I could eat this salad every single day.







Cranberry Avocado Salad with Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Found on Pinterest - from Cafe Sucre Farine

for dressing:
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

for salad:
12-16 ounces baby spinach, arugula, field greens
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems
2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup Candied Spiced Almond
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.

For the salad, place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about ¼ cup of the dressing and toss gently. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with the extra dressing.

Spiced Almonds
5 cups sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* – some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don’t like “hot”, just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
1 teaspoon vanilla
sea salt

1. Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.

2. Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat , occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it is all melted into a pale golden syrup.

3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.

4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don’t worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar – they will melt as you continute to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.

ABK's Dry Rub for Steak and Ribs




Want to give Dad something he'll love for Father's Day?  Follow this plan...

1. Buy some good quality steaks. I love the steaks at Snake River Farms, trust me, Dad will LOVE anything from SRF. The steaks I used for this post are Cowboy Steaks, aka Bone In Rib Eye Steak. They are about 2 1/2 inches thick and are bone-in, weighing in at about 2-2.5 lbs each.

These babies are THICK. About 2 1/2 to 3 inches each. 



2. Mix up the dry rub in about 2 minutes. Double the recipe if you want to package up some of the extra dry rub mix in a cute little container to give to Dad. Buy a BBQ spatula, tie a ribbon around it, along with the homemade dry rub mix.



3. Invite Dad over for a bbq, give him the dry rub mix and spatula. Cook up the steaks and prepare to be Dad's new favorite child.


ABK's Dry Steak Rub
A Bountiful Kitchen

Double if giving away as a gift!

2 tablespoons paprika (regular or smoked)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
3-4 tablespoons Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Lemon Pepper
1 tablespoon thyme (optional)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar, if using as a rub for ribs
For best results, apply rub 24 hours before serving meat.

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Apply seasonings to meat by sprinkling generously on to surface of meat, massage into meat, turn and repeat on opposite side. Cover meat or place in a Ziplock bag and let the dry rub sit on the meat overnight in the fridge. About 2 hours before cooking, remove meat from refrigerator. Place meat on a plate, and let sit on counter until ready to cook.

Tips:
-It is best to apply the dry rub for at least 24 hours before cooking the meat, or at least 2 hours before.
-You may also use garlic salt and onion salt, in place of powders, if doing so, omit the sea salt.
-Target often sells cute glass containers perfect for bottling spices in their $1 section right in the front of the store.

Instructions for cooking Cowboy Steak:

You will need the rub ingredients above and 1-2 lb  steak to feed approx 2-3 people (depending on amounts of side dishes and how hungry you all are!)
Butter, about 1 tablespoon

Turn grill to medium high. Cook the steak for about 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook meat for about 15 minutes, turning every 4-5 minutes. The temperature of the grill should be about 400 degrees.
After about 12-15 minutes, insert meat thermometer in center of steak it should register 115-125 for medium rare. Remove from grill. Quickly spread the butter (about 1 tablespoon) on top of the steak.  Let sit on a serving plate for a full 15 minutes, covered loosely in foil before cutting. The steak will continue cooking after being removed from heat.
The steak may also be cooked in an oven (use temperature guidelines in recipe). Sear the meat on both sides on stove with a little olive oil in a pan before placing in oven.


6/1/15

Classic Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake




Did I tell you about my best Mother's Day gift, EVER?! Last month, just before Mother's Day, our second grand baby arrived! Little Lyla entered the world on May 6, 2015.  I was able to run out to CA and help welcome her into the world in between Jake's baseball games.
While I was there, I mostly snuggled with Ani and baby Lyla, and cooked as much as possible.  I wanted to leave meals ready to heat up in the fridge and freezer for the weeks after I left. Besides cooking meals, we also did a little baking: brownies, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and Classic Chocolate Mayo Cake!

This is a little celebration we had for Big Sister...

Baby sister taking a little nap while big sister parties. 

I get a baby sister and a new doll?? Good deal. 

Ani is pretty excited about this gift  becoming a big sister. 

Every partay needs a cake.


I told Ani to put her face next to the cake...

OOPS. Face next to the cake. Not on it. 

Try to crop out the bite out of cake. 





If you've been following ABK from the beginning of time, you know my go-to chocolate cake is Laurie and Amy's Amazing Chocolate Cake.  It's dense and has amazing deep, dark chocolate flavor. The Classic Chocolate Mayo Cake is very similar in taste, but not quite as dense as Laurie's cake. This cake uses mayo in place of butter or oil.  The result is a cake with texture similar to a box cake mix, but so much better.
And you can pronounce all of the cake ingredients.
Always a bonus.
Oh, and did I mention MOIST??!!  The mayo makes this cake incredibly moist. This cake is perfect for June celebrations- graduation, Father's day and birthdays. It can be made in two round 9 inch pans or three 8 inch pans.
If you haven't ever made a chocolate mayo cake,  I'm willing to bet your mother has. Give this one a try. It's simple and mixes up in just a few minutes. It's one of those recipes your kids will ask you to make for birthdays. And your family will ask you to make for every gathering.
It's that recipe.
Happy baking!





Classic Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
adapted slightly from Epicurious

Cake:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free) Best Foods or Hellman's
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

you will need-Three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides or two 9 inch pans.

Preheat oven to 350°F set rack on middle rack of oven. Butter and flour three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides, or two 9 inch pans. Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in medium bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups boiling water and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Add flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cake pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 20 minutes. Run small knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Frost when completely cooled.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (for dark frosting, use part Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, about 4 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk or half and half

Cream butter with electric mixer. Beat in powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla. Beat just until smooth. 
Place cake on a platter. Frost top of first layer. Place second layer on cake. Frost sides and top. Decorate with sprinkles if desired. 
Serves 10-12.

Tips:
-I baked this cake in two 9 inch round pans. It was perfect, but will also bake up nicely in three 8 inch rounds.
-Watch the cake carefully. When it is done it will spring back when touched lightly. Or you may use a toothpick and insert in center of cake. the cake is done when a few moist crumbs are attached.
-I like to freeze the cake layers before frosting. This is done after removing the cake from the pans. Wrap carefully in Saran Wrap and lay flat in freezer. When ready to frost, remove and frost. Let cake come to room temperature before cutting. Freezing the cake will make the cake easier to frost, the cake is less likely to have crumbs fall off as well.