Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday Munchies - Southwestern Quinoa with Veggies and Mango

After getting back from Colorado Springs at 2:00 AM yesterday morning, with a full day of work and church ahead, I decided Monday Munchies was going to wait to make it's appearance until Tuesday.  We had a great road trip and the fall colors were at their peak which made the scenic routes that we took even more beautiful.  I'm resisting the urge to post fall recipes until October, but I'll share a couple of pictures from our trip with you to get you in the mood!
Just outside of town
Steamboat Springs
About an hour outside of Estes Park
But while summer veggies are still readily available, take advantage of it and make this recipe for a yummy and healthy salad or main course.  I actually have a confession to make about this recipe...I didn't measure out my lime juice and the first day it was REALLY limey tasting.  Like, pucker you up almost inedible (is that a word?).  However, I decided to squirt a tablespoon or so of ranch dressing on it, which masked the lime juice just as I hoped, and gave it kind of a nice creamy texture. If you wanted something simpler I think this would also be good to swap the dressing from this recipe with southwestern ranch for a creamier salad.

Southwestern Quinoa with Veggies and Mango
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 t. ground cumin
1 c. frozen or canned corn (drained)
1 c. black beans
1 tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. red onion, diced
1 small mango, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c. lime juice
1/3 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. ground turmeric

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil; add quinoa and cumin. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Mix together quinoa, corn, beans, tomato, zucchini, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, mango, jalapeno, and cilantro in a large bowl.

Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder and turmeric in a small bowl.  Drizzle over quinoa mixture and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Munchies - Put the Lime in the Coconut Cake

I have a friend in Jackson, her name is Lauren.  If we are facebook friends, you might recognize Lauren from being my Reno road trip buddy.  We had such a great time on that adventure, that we are leaving for road trip 2.0 this weekend.  This time around, we're headed to the beautiful city of Colorado Springs, with a detour through Rocky Mountain National Park in the process!  

Lauren had a birthday a few weeks ago, and on each of my friends' birthdays I let them pick out whatever dessert they want and I make it for them.  It's always fun to see what people choose, and how that reflects their personalities.  Lauren and I are a lot alike in many ways, and our love of food and baking/cooking is one of them (oh man, her strawberry rhubarb pie is DELICIOUS).  I was excited to see what she would pick, because I knew it would be something new and different.  She thought about it for awhile and then remembered seeing a Food Network show where they made a coconut lime cake, but had never made it and decided that's what she wanted for her birthday dessert.  I looked up the Food Network recipe, but when I started reading reviews I wasn't impressed.  Some people said that the cake was dry, some said it took forever to cook, the lime glaze didn't have a strong enough lime flavor, etc.  So, I decided to come up with my own recipe for the cake and combine elements from other cakes that sounded good.  If I were in MO (where I seem to have left my baking confidence) I probably would have made the cake from scratch.  However, altitude baking still scares me a little, and knowing that I was going to give this to Lauren without first trying it, (and not having time to bake another cake if the first one didn't turn out) I decided to use a white cake mix for the base.  I like to do most things from scratch, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize that a mix may be your best option, and this recipe was one of those times.  Lauren said the cake was great and it got rave reviews from several of her co-workers.  So, if you need a new cake recipe, try this one out (and I think it would make great cupcakes as well)!  It seems like there are several steps but it really didn't take me long at all.  I started by making the lime curd and then while it was chilling in the fridge, I mixed up and baked the cake.  After the cake had cooled I split the layers and mixed up the frosting, then put the layers together, frosted, and chilled overnight.

Put the Lime in the Coconut Cake
The Lime Curd:
3 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk together until well blended. Whisk in the key lime juice. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through. Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly to avoid curdling the eggs. Whisk in the butter a little bit at a time, stirring in each addition until completely incorporated before adding more. Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and a spoon or spatula leaves a path when drawn through it (no higher than 175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.) Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. (This keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

The Cake:
1 pkg. white cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) package coconut cream instant pudding
3 egg whites
1 c. coconut milk (I used the silk brand, but you could used canned too)
1/3 c. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.  Combine cake mix, pudding mix, egg whites, water and oil in large bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide equally into pans.  Bake at 350°F for 32 to 37 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool following package directions.

The Frosting:
4 egg whites
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a handheld whisk, beat together the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and salt just until combined, about 30 seconds. Place the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Set the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the outside of the bowl is cool and stiff peaks form 5 to 7 minutes more. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut just until incorporated.

To assemble the cake, I split the cake into 4 layers but you could certainly go with two or even bake it in a 9x13 or as cupcakes.  To split the layers, start by measuring the halfway point of your layers and sticking toothpicks every inch or two into the cake at the halfway mark, until you have toothpicks all the way around the cake and it looks like a weird looking sun.  

Then take a serrated knife, and cut slowly around the circumference of the cake, using the toothpicks as a guide.  

Once the cake has been cut through, tape a piece of waxed paper to the blade of the knife and slowly pull the knife through the cake until the waxed paper is out the other side of the cake, then simply lift the waxed paper to separate the layers.

Put the first layer cut side up onto your cake plate.  Top with half of the lime curd.  

Place the second layer cut side up onto the lime curd and top with frosting. Place the third layer cut side up on top of the frosting and top that layer with the remaining lime curd.  Then place the forth layer cut side up on the lime curd, and cover that layer as well as the sides of the cake with icing.  Chill overnight.

Recipe Sources:  Lime Curd from Annie's Eats and Frosting from Williams-Sonoma