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This bundt cake is so moist and good, it doesn’t need frosting at all, and it only takes a few minutes to throw together.

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cups Hershey’s Cocoa, plus a little more for dusting the pan
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
* 1 cup freshly brewed strong black coffee
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* Powdered sugar to dust the top

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a bundt pan very generously and dust the inside very well with cocoa powder. Set aside.
2. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, add the milk, vinegar, coffee, vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs one at a time. Mix with a mixer on low speed until everything is incorporated. Then, with the mixer still on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once all of the flour mixture is added, mix the batter for a full four minutes on medium speed. The batter will be very runny, but it is important to mix for the full four minutes for your cake to have a really nice texture once it’s baked.
4. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before taking it out of the pan—if you try too early before it’s cool, the cake will fall apart. Then, dust the top generously with powdered sugar and serve.

Here’s a delicious recipe you can throw together in no time, especially if you make the oven version. You can use regular spinach instead of the baby spinach, but then you have to spend time removing the tough stems. The heat from the hot vegetables and meat will wilt the baby spinach. If your spinach doesn’t soften up enough for your tastes, you can always dress the vegetables and microwave for about 30 seconds and toss again. That usually does the trick for me.

A side note for local readers, Waverly Market in Framingham has incredible sausages. I wish they had better store hours though—they’re only open from 9-5 and closed on Sundays. (Perhaps that’s when the cute little Italian ladies that sit out front make their Sunday gravy?)

Warm Spinach Salad with Grilled Sausage (adapted from Real Simple)

4 Italian sausages (about 1 pound)
8 plum tomatoes, cut in half crosswise, or an equivalent amount of any kind of tomato
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings -I like to use Vidalia for this
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
1 container baby spinach
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

You can make this on the grill or in the oven. The oven is actually easier, and your house will smell fantastic.

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Grill directions: Preheat your grill. With a fork, prick the sausages in several places. Grill the sausages turning occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, brush or toss the tomatoes and onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Grill until tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side for the onion and 2 to 3 minutes per side for the tomatoes. Put your spinach in a large bowl and place the vegetables on top of the spinach as they are done. Slice your sausage into bite sized pieces and add to the veggies, toss with dressing, and serve.

Oven directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick the sausages in several places with a fork, and place on a baking sheet. Toss your cut up tomatoes and onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil, place on baking sheet with sausages and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, turning the veggies and sausages about halfway through cooking time. They’re done when the veg is soft and slightly caramelized. Put your spinach in a large bowl and place the vegetables on top of the spinach. Slice your sausage into bite sized pieces and add to the veggies, toss with dressing, and serve.

Perfect Pizza Dough

This is perfect pizza dough if you’re into thin and crispy pizza. Ashley specifically asked me to post my dough recipe, so here it is. I make mine using my Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook, but since Ash doesn’t have one of those, I’ll provide the instructions for how to make it when you have to knead it by hand. If anyone wants the Kitchenaid version, please let me know and I’ll post that one too.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (110F)
1 (1/4 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 1.5 teaspoons to oil the bowl
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough has risen, punch down and roll out as desired. Sprinkle the pizza peel or pizza pan with cornmeal or make the pizzas on parchment paper and slide onto your preheated pizza stone.

Tips:
Divide the dough in half, and make two pizzas from it. Stretch the dough out as thin as you can get it—if it’s not cooperating and is too elastic, just let it rest for 10 minutes or so and try again. It should loosen up after a rest.

Use less toppings than you think you’ll need. Too much sauce and vegetables makes for a soggy pizza.

Preheat your oven to at least 500 degrees, with the pizza stone already in the oven. If you make the pizza on parchment, you can either lift the parchment right onto the stone (and leave it there under the pizza) or you can use a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet to slide the pizza (along with the parchment) right onto the stone. The thin crust pizza should only take 6-7 minutes to cook on a hot stone.

Butterscotch Blondies

“I’m going to make some Blondies,” I said. “Now? Can I bring them to the guys at work tomorrow?” David asked. “Sure.”

I knew these things were going to be delicious when I brought the spatula with the raw batter on it into Anne’s room for her to lick, and she went into the kitchen when she was done and scraped every iota of raw batter out of the bowl.

The Butterscotch Blondies are out of the oven now. David has declared, “I am not bringing these anywhere!”

They take less than 5 minutes to put together from stuff you probably already have (you might have to get the butterscotch chips) and they totally rule. I swear they are my new favorite sweet thing.

I beg you to make them.

Butterscotch Blondies (recipe by Garrett McCord)

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup of butter, melted
* 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar (I only had light brown sugar and it works just fine)
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1 teaspoon of vanilla
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
* Pinch of salt
* 1 cup of all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup of butterscotch chips

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8X8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.

2 Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.

3 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips and stir.

4 Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 9 blondies.

Ultimate Porkchops

Until I found this pork chop recipe, my pork chops were always dry no matter what I did–cooked them fast, cooked them long and in liquid—it didn’t matter, they were rarely ever moist and juicy. Now I always use this method to make pork chops because it is no fail. The secret is two-fold—the brining makes them juicy and moist, and the fresh bread crumb coating keeps them juicy and moist throughout the cooking process. Even though the recipe says you can use dried herbs, I always use fresh ones for this. The difference in how much flavor the fresh herbs impart is noticeable and worth it.

I’ve tried modifying the recipe by using the brine technique and using dry breadcrumbs instead of fresh, or panko, and frankly, both tries were not nearly as successful as the original recipe. I’m convinced that you HAVE to use fresh ones for this recipe to be amazing.

Sometimes I can’t find the thin 1/2 inch pork chops at the market, and if that’s the case I’ll either cut 1 inch pork chops into 1/2 inch ones, or I’ll cook the thicker chops in the frying pan until they are browned on one side, and then flip them over and place them in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes so that they get cooked inside before the coating burns. (If you try to get thick chops cooked all the way through on the stove top the breadcrumbs will burn before they are cooked inside.)

If you’ve always been disappointed with a dry and flavorless pork chop in the past, I urge you to give this one a try.

Ultimate Porkchops (adapted from a recipe from Epicurious.com)

2 cups milk
2.5 teaspoons salt
4 (1/2-inch-thick) pork chops (with or without bone; 1 lb total)
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (from 5 slices firm white sandwich bread, ground in a food processor or blender)
1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Brine pork chops:
Stir together milk and 2 teaspoons salt in a shallow 3-quart dish, then add pork chops. Marinate, covered and chilled, turning over once, at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours but no more than that).

Fry pork chops:
Stir together bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and remaining half teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl.
Lift pork chops from milk 1 at a time, letting excess drip off, and dredge in bread crumbs, lightly patting crumbs to help adhere, then transfer to a tray, arranging in 1 layer.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté pork chops in 2 batches, without crowding, turning over once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer as cooked to a platter and keep warm in oven. (Add more oil and butter to skillet if needed.)

Crispy Panko Chicken

This is a really simple and fast way to just use a few ingredients to end up with a surprisingly delicious and fairly healthy main dish. Panko rules–if you’ve never tried this type of bread crumb, you’re in for a nice surprise. The outside gets nice and crispy and brown, and the inside says very moist and tender and the mustard gives it a great kick. I like making this when I am pressed for time and don’t want to make a big mess doing a more traditional ‘breading’ which requires lots of bowls of stuff and goopy fingers, too.

This recipe serves 2, but you can easily double it or triple it if you’re serving more people.

Crispy Panko Chicken

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp mustard –i like Dijon, but you can use whatever kind you prefer
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (found in most supermarkets in the Asian aisle)
small amount of flour
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the panko in a small bowl.

2. Dry the chicken with a paper towel. Dredge the chicken in a little flour and shake off the excess.

3. Coat chicken breasts with mustard. Place on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet, top with crumbs and bake approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

That’s it!

World Peace Cookies

Created by a famous French pastry chef called Pierre Hermé, World Peace Cookies originally were called Korovas. Dorie Greenspan changed the name to World Peace Cookies in her cookbook “Baking: From My Home to Yours” because reportedly a neighbor of hers became convinced that a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.

I made these dark and chocolately, melt in your mouth incredible cookies a while back after seeing them appear over and over on other people’s food blogs. They have received so much praise on the internet, I had to see just what the fuss was about. The fuss is well deserved. If you Google them, hopefully you’ll be convinced to make them too because they are crazy good.

Good to know: Fleur de Sel is the only ‘strange’ ingredient. It is hand-harvested sea salt collected off the coast of France by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. I bought my jar at Whole Foods. It cost me $13 bucks which I am aware seems like an insane amount of money to spend on a jar of slightly gray, slightly wet, weird looking salt. However, I’ve had this jar for a couple of years now and it was money well spent. You need it for this recipe. You can’t just use ordinary table salt.

For the chocolate, I usually buy bars of Valrhona at Trader Joes and chop it up. If I’m making a lot, and want to economize a bit, instead I get the Trader Joes big pound blocks of dark chocolate and chop that up. I’ve never tried it with the mini-chips, so I can’t vouch for how well that works.

When you roll out your logs, I figured out that a 1.5 inch diameter log ends up being exactly 9 inches long. It works out that you get exactly 18 half inch slices per log.

World Peace Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Makes about 36 cookies.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

SERVING: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.

STORING: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.