Friday, February 6, 2009

Pat's Tryout

This week I took a stab at Pat's Recipes, better known as The Failures of the Week.

My recipe choices were determined by what I had in my cabinets and fridge already. All in all, I think I got out of the grocery store for under $12. That's TA budget friendly, right there.

Without further ado, here are Pat's Recipes for Chicken Cacciatore and Whacky Cake.

Let's (however illogical) start with the Chicken Cacciatore.

You'll need:

3lbs. chicken pieces (I used breast fillets)
1 c. fresh mushrooms
1/2 c. thin sliced celery
1 med. carrot, chopped
1 med. onion, in thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
14 1/2 oz. can tomatoes, cut up
1 med. pepper, cut into 1/4" strips
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sugar

Alright, get the veggies all chopped up, and throw them in a 12" skillet with the oil and garlic. It was at this precise moment that I could tell that this was a going to be a nice dish.

The veggies smelled so good at this point that I really had to resist the urge to pull the plug on the full recipe and eat the veg straight away.

I did resist, and you should too. When the veggies are tender, remove them from the skillet and brown chicken on both sides in the same skillet. Pat recommends about 15 minutes for this step.

While the chicken is browning, mix tomatoes, pepper, tomato sauce, wine, bay leaves, oregano and sugar in a medium bowl.

Give that a stir and set it aside. Lovely, isn't she?

Once the chicken is evenly browned, return the veggies to the skillet...

And pour the tomato/pepper mixture over the chicken and veg.

Now cover it up and walk away. Pat is a little bit more specific: Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is tender and no pink remains. Remove bay leaves; serve.

Just a quick question. Am I the only one who struggles to find the bay leaves at times? I have yet to find the leaf I used in this recipe, and I've eaten 2/3 of what I made.

Anyway... feast your eyes on this dish. I tossed some shredded mozzarella on top and thoroughly enjoyed this meal. I've eaten it two nights in a row and I must confess that I'm not yet tired of it.

I think I can call this Failure a success.

Now onto the cake...

I was drawn to this cake by its complete and utter mystery. It's called Whacky Cake and as I was making it, I just kept saying, "this cake really is whacky."

The whackiness was exactly what I needed today. Just the right amount of silliness and cake.

I quartered this recipe since my roommate and I will be the only ones here to take care of the cake. A challenge we are equal to, but we are also trying to be healthy versions of ourselves these days. I'll put my quartered measurements in italics just in case my fractions are off.

Whacky Cake and Frosting

You'll need:

1 1/2 c. flour (3/8 c.)
1 c. sugar (1/4 c.)
3 T baking cocoa (3/4 T)
6 T oil (1 1/2 T)
1 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (1/8 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla (1/4 tsp)
1 T vinegar (1/4 T)
1 c. cold water (1/4 c.)
Frosting (recipe below)

I have made a lot of cakes and batters in my day, but this batter was just plain fun to make and it only generates one dirty pan! (Can you tell that I have already done three sets of dishes in the last 18 hours?)

Back to the recipe...

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt into 12x12" (I used a loaf) ungreased pan. Make three holes in this dry mixture; put oil in one, vanilla in another, and vinegar in the third.

Pour water over all; stir with a fork until smooth.

Can you honestly tell me that you are looking at this cake and not thinking, "that is a little bit whacky"?

I didn't think so.

While the cake is in the oven, prepare the Whacky Frosting.

Mix 2 c. (1/2 c.) confectioner's sugar, 3 T (3/4 T) baking cocoa, 1/2 c. (1/8 c.) margarine, melted and 1 tsp (1/4 tsp) vanilla; add 3 T (3/4 T) cold coffee.
When the cake comes out, pour the icing directly onto the hot cake.

I'd like to take this moment to thank the ghost that held the bowl for me in this picture. Ugh... Maine winter is so serious.

The cake cooled while dinner and tv happened, and a hour or so later, ta da!

I'm pleased to say that the Whacky Cake was possibly even more of a successful Failure than even the Cacciatore. I understand they are apples and oranges, but the cake has several things going for it.

First, the cake was wicked easy to put together.

Second, I made the cake without having to go to the grocery store for eggs.

Third, the short cake and thin, rich icing is reminiscent of those Little Debbie cakes I used to eat in elementary school with one major difference. The Whacky Cake is much tastier.

So, the Pat's Failures of the Week were wildly successful. I think that now that I have tried out an entree and a dessert, I can proceed with excitement into the more interesting dishes.

Like Chris's Moose Meat Stroganoff and Sally's Snowplows.

Stay tuned!

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