Cook Like a Champion bio picture
  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, did you totally flip out? When I was 17, I met Nick Carter (yes, from the Backstreet Boys). There was a line of girls waiting to meet him, and every single one of them was borderline hysterical. Some of them were even in tears. I was with my friend, who, by the time we made it to the front of the line, was basically trembling. When it was our turn, I stepped up, introduced myself and shook his hand. He seemed a little surprised but shook back. My friend, meanwhile, couldn’t even spell her name for him to sign her shirt. As we got ready to leave, he hugged each of us and whispered to me, “Thank you for introducing yourself to me like I’m just any other person. I’m not sure anyone has ever done that.” What he didn’t know was that, internally, I was just like all those other girls, but with my friend freaking out, I figured one of us needed to be able to talk to him.

I’ve met a few famous (to me, and likely to all of you) people since then, and I always try to reserve my squealing and excitement until after it’s over. It’s not so hard to do when it’s just one person. Imagine how I felt, though, when I saw the list of attendees for Big Summer Potluck last year. I was going to be surrounded by famous people! I told myself it would be fine. After all, they all had blogs before writing cookbooks. No big deal, right? While waiting on the bus the first morning, I was in a lobby full of people. Most of us were chatting and introducing ourselves to people we hadn’t met the night before and everything was going well. I was insanely nervous, probably more than I let on, but I was starting to feel more comfortable. Someone walked up and noticed that we all had our food (for the potluck) with us. She asked me if we were supposed to bring it, and I told her yes because the bus wouldn’t be coming back to the hotel until that night. She went to grab her dish, and I walked out to the bus. A couple minutes later, when it was time to take off, I heard someone say something like “We’re waiting on Deb. She had to go grab the food from her room.” It was at that moment that I realized I had been talking to Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I’m not going to lie, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t recognize her because, as nervous as I was, I’m quite certain I would’ve gone all fangirl and freaked her out. I texted Eric from the bus “OMG I talked to Deb from Smitten Kitchen and didn’t even know it.” So apparently I’m cool around boy band members but not around big-time bloggers/cookbook authors. Go figure. After tasting a couple recipes from her book, I’m not sure I could meet her now and refrain from hugging her right away and telling her how awesome she is.

I saw a picture of the title of this recipe before I even got the book, and I pretty much thought about them continuously after that. I finally got the chance to make them with my friend Amanda while she and her husband were visiting last week. These pretzels are made using a genius method that only requires the brioche to rise once. Brioche is my favorite bread (it’s so rich and buttery!), and of course adding chocolate to it makes it even better. These are in the breakfast section of the book, and I kind of love Deb for putting them there. That means it’s perfectly acceptable for me to make these on a lazy weekend morning and call it breakfast. I mean, if doughnuts are a breakfast food, why not pretzels? The process may seem complicated, but I assure you it’s far from it. I only wish I had pearl sugar to sprinkle on at the end. I’m ordering some so that I can use it next time I make these (which will be as soon as that sugar gets here).

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels


Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 pretzels

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Ingredients

For the dough:
⅓ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup well-chopped chocolate or miniature chocolate chips
For the glaze:
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
Coarse or pearl sugar, for finishing

Directions

To make the brioche, whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs and yeast mixture, mixing until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes. (My mixer had a really hard time with this part, but I think it was just a fluke.) Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing well between each addition. Swap to the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough on low speed until it's silky and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until it's spread evenly throughout the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours, until almost doubled. If you'd like, you can rest the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before proceeding. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature and let it rise before moving on.

To make the pretzels, line two baking sheets with parchment or a nonstick baking mat and heat oven to 350º. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces (about 93 grams each, if you're weighing). Working with one piece at a time, roll each ball into an 18-inch long rope about ½-inch thick. This dough is very buttery and you likely won't need a floured surface. However, if you notice your dough sticking to your work area, simply dust it with a little flour. Draw the ends of the rope together to make a circle. Grab each side of the rope about 2 inches from the ends and twist the ends together - a full twist, so that the right side of the rope ends up back on the right side - to close the circle. Fold the twist down into the circle, pressing the loose ends of the rope on each side of the center (five and seven o'clock) of the rope. Repeat with the remaining dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water and salt. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheets and brush with glaze. Let them rest for about 15 minutes. They'll rise slightly during this time.

To finish, brush the pretzels once more with the glaze. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 12 minutes, until puffed and lightly bronzed. Cool slightly (yeah right) on a cooling rack before serving.

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/01/chocolate-chip-brioche-pretzels/

Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta

Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta
I spend a good bit of time looking at and reading about food, so it’s rare that I see a recipe and immediately think “I need to make this right this second.” When I find a recipe that gives me that feeling, well, I almost always give in. The day I saw a picture of this pasta on Pinterest, I decided it needed to go on the menu for that night. I don’t know what in the picture called to me, but I knew I had to make it right away.

This pasta isn’t remarkable or life changing, but it is darn good food. And you know what? That’s good enough for me. If it weren’t laden with cream and, you know, pasta, I would gladly eat it twice a week. This recipe is perfect for those nights that we don’t want to cook an involved meal but still want to eat something delicious (and not get takeout). I made a few changes to the original recipe – added an onion, used chicken sausage instead of ground chicken, added red pepper flakes, doubled the tomatoes, swapped fresh basil for the dried oregano – and now I’ve found my ultimate weeknight pasta dish. I think using chicken sausage instead of ground chicken is what really made this recipe shine. Since sausage already has so many seasonings in it, it can only enhance the flavor of final product. Just make sure you get something that would go well with the other ingredients. We’ve used sun-dried tomato and basil sausage and roasted red pepper and garlic sausage the times we’ve made this. We seriously can’t get enough of this pasta. Clara absolutely loves it, too, and we love watching her eat it (that may sound weird, but she’s so adorable all the time when she’s eating). This recipe makes a lot, way more than our little family of three needs, but the leftovers reheat exceptionally well and it’s easily halved if you’d rather go that route.

Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta

Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 6 servings

Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

1 pound pasta (penne or farfalle)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
1½ cups half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 8-ounce bag (about 2 cups packed) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

Directions

Cook pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and tomato paste and continue cooking for an additional minute. Add the chicken sausage, using a wooden spoon to break up the pieces. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the sausage is completely cooked through.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the half and half and Parmesan. Simmer lightly, stirring frequently, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Add the spinach, tomatoes and basil and stir to combine, using the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as needed. Top with extra Parmesan and basil, if desired, and serve.

Source

Heavily adapted from In Sock Monkey Slippers

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/01/creamy-tomato-chicken-pasta/

The Smoothest Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus

I’ve been making my hummus the same way for a few years now. It’s uncomplicated, easily adaptable and yields a tasty snack. It was always missing something, though it never bothered me enough to make me want to figure out what exactly that something was. That all changed when I saw Deb’s post about how to make smooth hummus. It turns out that my old standby wasn’t missing anything but had something extra that needed to be removed – the chickpea skins. I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that moments” and then got over it quickly because, hey, at least I know now, right? I never would have guessed that this is what was holding my hummus back from perfection, but now I’m quite certain that I can never have it any other way.

When I was reading Deb’s post, I couldn’t help but laugh at how she was sure people would roll their eyes when she shared the technique. Clearly I wasn’t one of those people. Pretty much the only thing I thought when reading it was “I hope Clara wakes up soon so I can go to the store.” That’s right, people. I was hoping my child would wake up from her nap so that I could get the ingredients to try this recipe. If that isn’t proof of the level of awesomeness your hummus will achieve with this method, then know that I tried it three times last week and was floored every single time.

Since I prefer flavored hummus, I decided to incorporate my recipe with this method. The result was out of this world – lusciously smooth hummus with the flavor of roasted red pepper and the smokiness of chipotle. It’s totally worth it to peel the chickpeas and doesn’t take much time at all. It was oddly relaxing, peeling the chickpeas while Clara was trying to climb the back of my legs (her new favorite thing to do in the kitchen). I’d tell you more about this amazing recipe, but I think I need to make another batch of hummus now.

The Smoothest Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

The Smoothest Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus

Ingredients

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved) and rinsed
½ cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 small cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
¾ teaspoon salt
1 red pepper, roasted and peeled, seeds and stem removed
1 chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon adobo sauce (more or less to taste)
Approximately ¼ cup reserved chickpea liquid or water
Pita wedges, crudités, etc. for serving

Directions

Start by peeling the chickpeas. Place one in between your thumb and next two fingers, with the pointy end facing your palm. Gently squeeze to pop the chickpea out. Discard the skin and place the chickpeas, as you peel them, into the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse the chickpeas in the food processor for about a minute, until powdery clumps form, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, red pepper, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and blend until pureed. With the machine running, drizzle in the reserved chickpea liquid or water until your desired consistency is reached. The mixture should be incredibly smooth and ultra creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Transfer to a bowl and allow to sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Source

Method and base recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/01/roasted-red-pepper-and-chipotle-hummus-redux/

Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits
Chicken pot pie is my ultimate comfort food. That’s why, even though I’ve already posted three recipes for it, I’m posting another. There are some things I believe you can never have too many recipes for, and chicken pot pie is one of them. This version is especially comforting, and is the kind of meal I envision as a Sunday dinner.

Out of all the pot pies I’ve made, I think this is the richest. The sauce is luxuriously thick, and the cream cheese in the biscuits makes them super tender. I’ll definitely be making the biscuits on their own for breakfast. I’d say they stole the show, but their awesomeness fully matched the rest of the pot pie. To whip this up in no time, you can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. We made it with what was left of a roast chicken, which I think is one of the best uses of leftovers. Clara absolutely loved this and had the best time picking up shreds of chicken and vegetables off her tray. We found ourselves giving her more from our plates because she finished hers so quickly. I’d call that a win.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 1 9x13 pan

Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

Ingredients

For the biscuits:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
4 ounces (half of a brick) cream cheese, cold
¾ cup buttermilk, cold
For the filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1½ cup thinly diced carrots
1 cup diced zucchini (optional)
1½ cups frozen peas, thawed
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1½ cups whole milk
4 ounces (half of a brick) cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded chicken

Directions

To make the biscuits, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, sugar and chives in a medium bowl. Add the butter and cream cheese and work with your fingers to incorporate them into the flour mixture until it is unevenly crumbly. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Use a fork to mix it into the dry ingredients.

Turn out the shaggy dough onto a lightly-floured work surface. Knead until it comes together and press it into a circle about 1½ inches thick. Use a floured biscuit cutter (1½ to 2-inches) to cut biscuits. Press together the dough scraps and repeat until no dough remains. Place biscuits on a small cookie sheet and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Heat oven to 400º. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until starting to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking an additional minute. Add the carrots, zucchini and peas and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the same saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. The mixture will be very thick. Cook for 1 minute, then reduce heat to low and whisk in the chicken broth. Once no bits of flour remain, whisk in the milk and cream cheese. Increase to medium-low heat and continue cooking until the cream cheese has melted. Add the chicken, lemon and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the vegetables.

Transfer filling into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place the biscuits on top of the chicken mixture and brush with milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and the filling along the sides of the dish is bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before serving. To reheat, cover dish with foil and bake at 300º for about 15 minutes.

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/01/chicken-pot-pie-with-cream-cheese-and-chive-biscuits/

A Perfect Pair: Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream for Josie

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

My friend Josie is set to have her twins any day now, and our group of friends couldn’t let this occasion pass without a surprise for her. It was almost a year ago that these same friends surprised me with a baby shower, and I so wish we were all together again. Since we can’t be, we decided to throw a little virtual shower for Josie. Annie had the idea for us to incorporate foods that are perfect pairs to celebrate Josie’s two sweet boys, and I couldn’t resist doing something with chocolate and coffee (one of my favorite flavor combinations). I think Josie’s going to love the pairs that everyone chose. Annie used tequila and lime to make a Paloma cocktail, which is actually one of Eric’s favorite drinks. Elly put sausage and biscuits together into one perfect breakfast item, and Tara made the classic combination of shrimp and grits.

You don’t have to convince me that chocolate has an infinite number of perfect matches, but something wonderful happens when chocolate and coffee come together. And, seeing as how Josie will soon be a mom of four, I figured she’d need some extra coffee in her life. This cake is lusciously decadent and oh so delicious. This is basically the chocolate cake of my dreams – moist, fluffy and perfectly sweetened. The coffee buttercream is smooth and has a subtle coffee flavor. The recipe description says that even coffee-averse people will like this cake, and I totally agree. As if a chocolate cake with coffee buttercream wasn’t awesome enough, this one is covered with dark chocolate ganache, taking it completely over the top. I mean, seriously. How could anyone resist a cake with chocolate dripping down the sides?

A note about the buttercream: This recipe is unlike any recipe for frosting I’ve made (and this is coming from someone that worked at a cupcake shop). It’s a cooked frosting, but it’s not Swiss or Italian meringue. This frosting is made with, wait for it, flour. The flour is cooked, along with milk and cream, to create a gravy-like sauce (think béchamel). Apparently, this type of frosting was common during WWII since it uses significantly less butter and sugar. Pretty cool!

Josie, I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to meet your two new additions!

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: About 12 generous slices

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream

Ingredients

For the chocolate cake:
¾ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
⅔ cup sour cream
1¼ cups hot water
2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the coffee buttercream:
1½ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, soft but still cool
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coffee extract
For the chocolate ganache:
8 ounces dark (60 to 72%) chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Directions

To make the chocolate cake, heat the oven to 325º. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, line them with parchment and butter the parchment. Lightly dust the inside of the pans with flour and tap out the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sour cream and hot water. Set aside to cool. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and mix in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and cocoa mixture to the bowl in three alternating parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the batter. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the coffee buttercream, whisk the flour and sugar together in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed until the mixer bowl cools to room temperature, 7-9 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the vanilla and coffee extracts and continue mixing until combined. At this point, if your frosting is too loose, it can be refrigerated. On the other hand, if it's too firm, you can heat it over a pot of simmering water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a cake stand. Level as needed, then top with a heaping cup of buttercream. Spread the buttercream nearly to the edges. Repeat with the next layer. Once all three layers are stacked, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides to create a crumb coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate for another 15 minutes while making the ganache.

To make the chocolate ganache, place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a bowl (preferably one with a pour spout) set over a pot of simmering water. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until smooth and combined. Very slowly pour about ¾ cup of glaze over the frosted cake. Use a small offset spatula to carefully smooth it out to the edges. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and slowly pour over the remaining ganache, letting it drip down the sides in thick streams. Chill the entire cake for about 20 minutes to set. Serve at room temperature.

The cake can be stored, covered in a cake container, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Source

Baked Explorationsby Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/01/a-perfect-pair-chocolate-cake-with-coffee-buttercream-for-josie/