Jacksonville or I Should Host a Cooking Reality Show

We made it to sunny, warm freezing overcast Jacksonville on Tuesday.  We're buying a home:

The builder has taken the house off of it's website (YAY!) so I can't show pictures of the inside (or the kitchen) but it's fabulous.  Not so fabulous:  living in a hotel room with only a microwave and a dorm size fridge.

So I'm thinking of starting a blog challenge/reality bit about how to feed a family of six for 3 WEEKS with only a microwave...

Supertarget offered a plethora of ideas...and served as a veritable wonderland as I've been pretty much relying on Navy commissaries for the last 3 years as my primary grocery outlet.  Amazing the things on the market!  The beautiful produce!  More than 2 kinds of apple!!  Snack packs with hummus!!!

Ok, Gina, get with the game...we're also onlimited funding (thank you $88 per night for hotel room.)

Tonight's menu:  ChiChi's microwaveable taco meat on tortilla chips with lettuce, cheese and salsa.

Check back tommorrow to see if we've survived.  Add ideas in comments;  I sure can use them!

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Ok, so I'm not participating in the Chocolate with Francois baking challenge because, a.) I just don't have time and b.) no access to the cookbook.  I had to make these cookies though...they looked like they would be right up my alley and I was right. The kids loved them too, we polished off the batch in one day.  They're odd little cookies...like paper thin brownies..chewy which I wouldn't have guessed from their thickness.  If you have a chocolate craving, these things are the real deal! I dare you to not eat them all as you remove them from the pan.

Flourless Chocolate cookies
Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Paynard

• 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
• 3 cups confectioners' sugar
• pinch of salt
• 2 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
• 4 large egg whites, room temp.
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place a rack each in the upper and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Combine cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar, salt and walnuts in the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix it, or the egg whites will thicken too much.

With a 2 ounce cookie or ice scream scoop or a generous tablespoon, scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, to make cookies that are 4 inches in diameter. Scoop 5 cookies on each pan, about 3 inches apart so they don't stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until the first batch of cookies is baked before scooping the next batch.

Put the cookies in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 320 degrees F. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until small thin cracks appear on the surgace of the cookies. Switch the pans halfway through baking. Pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire rack, and let cool completely before removing the cookies from the paper. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake

Spicy, sweet, gooey...this cake is perfect for a cool day. It will really put you over the moon if you try it warm...Thanks so much to Deb and Smitten Kitchen for this gem.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake
Borrowed with much gratitude from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Karen Bates at the Philo Apple Farm via the New York Times

Serves 12
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Very softly whipped cream
Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes, then swirl in salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of your cake pan. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the caramel. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.
Make the batter: Using a mixer, blend 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and cream until light and fluffy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Alternate mixing the flour and molasses mixtures into the butter mixture, adding the next once the last has been incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at least 45 to 50 minutes (thanks to commenter klp for reminding me this took a bit longer) or until a wooden tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a platter (one that will catch spills, unlike what you see in the pictures above).
Serve warm or cool with very softly whipped cream.