Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple Cake

This is the cake that I was supposed to take to a luncheon and forgot about it until an hour before it was supposed to be there. I couldn't believe how fast it went together. It has a caramel sauce that goes over it that is fabulous, but the cake is delicious by itself or with a little whipping cream.

Apple Cake
4 C. grated apples
2 C. sugar
1/2 C. oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Mix by hand - apples, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour and dry ingredients then add to apple mixture. Bake in 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Caramel Sauce:
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. corn syrup
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. evaporated milk
Cook over low heat (do not boil!) until thick. Serve over apple cake.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Creme de Carottes (Cream of Carrot Soup)

This recipe is from my friend Jill who says it was passed down from her Swiss grandmother.  She says, "When the larder is low and you do not want to think too much, this soup and a hearty loaf of bread make a dinner."  I don't even know what it means to have larder be low, but it sounded very poetic.  Be sure to read the entire recipe before making this because it takes longer than you might think.  If you start it too late in the evening you may end up serving your children macaroni and cheese because you realize the soup won't be ready until after their bedtime.  Just, you know, as an example.  Or you could just be a Saturday Chef and do all the carrot peeling and slicing ahead of time.  You could even get as far as the pureeing stage and then reheat it and add the cream the day you plan to serve it.

3 Tbsp. butter
1 to 2 lbs. sliced carrots
1 large onion, diced
3/4 c. uncooked rice (not Minute)
1 c. cream, half & half, or milk (your choice, says Jill, though the cream is amazing)
2 qt. chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley (optional)

Melt butter on medium-low heat, then add onions and cook slowly until golden.  Add carrots and saute for several minutes.  Add broth and rice.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour.  Allow to cool, and then puree either with a hand blender, or in batches in a stand-up blender.  Return to pot and add cream, correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  When serving, it looks lovely with a bit of chopped parsley on the top.

Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Touchdown Casserole

This is one of those "so wrong it's right" recipes.  It looks like a gag and shiver food, but it's so not.  Take a look at the ingredients.  If you like all of these things, you will love this casserole.  I don't know why it's called Touchdown Casserole.  If I were to rename it, I would call it Ghetto Fabulous Shepherd's Pie.  (That may not make you want to eat it because Shepherd's Pie is, in fact, a gag and shiver food. )

1 lb. ground beef
1 28 oz. can baked beans, original recipe (Not pork and beans and not maple flavored or some such nonsense.)
8 all beef hot dogs (Don't mess around with the chicken/pork/beef hot dogs.  That's not just for this recipe, that's for always.)
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
10 servings of mashed potatoes (I know I don't need to tell my family not to use instant mashed potatoes, but in case anyone else was thinking it  . . . don't.)

Brown ground beef and drain; add baked beans, cut up hot dogs, and tomato sauce. 

Pour mixture into large casserole dish.  Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the bean and hot dog mixture.

Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of that.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes (until heated through).

Serve for your family and be the hero of the day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sweet & Salty Almonds

You know I wouldn't be typing this up again if you didn't REALLY need this recipe. They're the best! We take them on every road trip. Also, very easy to double.

2 c. raw almonds

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt (my favorite is using the sea salt)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 T. honey

2 T. water

2 tsp. vegetable oil

Spread raw almonds on a large baking sheet so that they are just one layer. Put in a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Roast the almonds for about 15 minutes or until you can smell them ("I CAN SMELL YOU").

While the almonds are roasting, put the honey, water, and vegetable oil in a large skillet. Whisk until everything is combined, then put it on medium heat. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then add the roasted nuts to the skillet. Coat the almonds with the honey mixture and heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (You shouldn't have any liquid left in the skillet when the almonds are done.)

Mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Put about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a 9 x 13" baking dish. When the almonds are coated with the honey mixture and are done cooking, transfer them to the 9 x 13" baking dish. Pour the rest of the sugar/salt/cinnamon over the almonds and stir everything up so that all the almonds get coated with the sugar mixture. Transfer the almonds back to the baking sheet and spread them out in one layer again to cool. After they've cooled, break them up a little bit.

Eat them all.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Our family is all about the soup. Mostly Dad is all about soup. I love Conference weekend for many reasons - the two big ones are Mom and Dad coming and staying with us and good food. This time I did Cream of Tomato Soup and Allyn's Creamy Chicken Soup (Sisters' Cookbook Volume 2) and artisan bread with salami and fun cheeses. We had sugar/salt/cinnamon roasted almonds, too. And jellybeans. (Seriously?! I just looked through our blog to link a recipe for the almonds and Allyn's soup and neither one of them are there. I could have sworn I posted those. Bah. One more thing to do...)

4 T. unsalted butter

2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained with 3 cups of the juice reserved

1 onion, chopped fine

2 T. light brown sugar

1 T. tomato paste

2 T. all-purpose flour

1 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. heavy cream



1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add drained tomatoes, onion, brown sugar and tomato paste. cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the tomatoes begin to caramelize (about 15 minutes).

2. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the broth and the reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.

3. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in the cream. Bring to a brief simmer, then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Big & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

They are evil and they must be destroyed. This is another recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Best cookies I've ever made or tasted. Best. Ever. I had to take a nap after eating just one.

3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

16 T. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 T. vanilla extract (yes, really a tablespoon - I was shocked too)

1 12-oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips for the irony)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the chocolate chips.

4. Working with a 1/4 cup of dough (!!!) at a time, roll the dough into balls (or just drop them on like I did) and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are golden but the centers are still soft and puffy, 17 to 20 minutes.

5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

African Kale Soup

Ok, I hesitated on the title of this one.  It was dictated to me by one of my favorite farmer's at the Middlebury Farmer's Market and when I told the kids about it they questioned the use of peanut butter in a dish called "African".  Anybody?  But I Googled the main ingredients and sure enough, a bunch of African Soup recipes popped up.  So, here's to my friend at Neshobe Farms whose recipe earned five out of six thumbs up in my household (one refused to try it at all- his loss).  With my own additions:

1 chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 chicken breasts cut up into small pieces
1 bunch chopped kale
1 minced red pepper
2 shredded carrots
1 Tb olive oil
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 20oz can crushed pineapple (drained)
1-2 cups chicken broth (depending on desired consistency)

Serve over rice.

Corn Chowder

I recently started a love affair with America's Test Kitchen. I bought their heavy duty "family" cookbook a few weeks ago. So far we've only tried a few recipes (in addition to the magazine size Best Recipes of 2010 that I've been using), but they have been FANTASTIC. STUPENDOUS. If you do everything they tell you, it will turn out perfectly. And there are pictures. Go buy it.

While you're waiting for it to arrive at your house, here is one of our favorites. Bridget and I refer to Brian as The Great Cornholio because the man can put away up to eight ears of corn on the cob in one sitting. To me corn on the cob is too much work for too little pay off. Plus, corn in my teeth is not cool. All beside the point. For three nights after we had this chowder when I asked Bridget what we should make for dinner she said, "I liked that corn soup. We should have corn soup."

10 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed

4 oz. bacon

1 onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 T. all-purpose flour

3 c. low-sodium chicken broth

2 c. whole milk

12 oz. red potatoes (about 2 medium sized) scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried

1 c. heavy cream

2 T. minced fresh parsley

Salt & Pepper

1. Standing the corn on end inside a large bowl, cut the kernels from 4 ears using a paring knife. (You should have 3 cups.) Grate the remaining 6 ears corn over the large holes of a box grater into a separate bowl. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape any remaining pulp from teh cobs into the bowl with the grated corn.

2. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. slowly stir in the broth and milk, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and grated corn. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the remaining corn kernels and cream. Continue simmering until the corn kernels are tender yet still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

*I just realized after typing this up that we used the recipe in my pamphlet rather than this one. it called for 6 ears of corn and 2 cans of whole kernel corn. After cutting the corn off the 6 ears, that recipe instructed me to add the cobs to the soup until I was ready to add the cream, then I took them out. Much easier? Maybe. Probably great either way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Polenta Pizza

Ethan went to Cooking Camp last week and declared this recipe his new favorite food.  Sorry, Melissa, we ate it up before I could take a picture.  I used a pie plate, Ethan said they used a pizza pan at camp.

1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. cold water
2 c. boiling water
1 tsp
1 egg
1/3 c. grated parmesan
Combine cornmeal, cold water and salt.  Stir into boiling water.  Cook, stirring vigorously for five minutes-until thick.  Remove from heat
Beat a spoonful of hot mixture into the beaten egg, then beat the egg mixture back into the entire hot mixture. Beat one minute.  Let stand until cool enough to handle.
Butter a 9" pie pan.  Form the polenta into a thick crust, patting into place with wet hands and a spatula.  Bake at 200 degrees until dry (about an hour)  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  After the first 30 minutes of baking, brush the surface of the crust with olive oil.

1 1/2 c. grated mozzarella
1/2 c. onion
1/2 c. minced green pepper
(you can really add any vegetables here)
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
few dashes of oregano
black pepper
grated parmesan

Saute onion and pepper in olive oil until tender.  Add oregano and black pepper.  Sprinkle 2/3 of the mozzarella onto baked crust.  Spread on sauteed vegetables.  Arrange slices of tomato over saute and top with remaining mozzarella and a little parmesan.  Broil until brown and bubbly.  Serve right away.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gooey Butter Cake

Me, again.  This cake originated in Missouri when an old German baker messed up his cake recipe and the result was this deliciousness. 
Secretly this is a picture of  a piece of store bought ("Store bought?!  Out of an actual STORE?") gooey butter cake, but I wanted to give you an idea of what it looks like. 


1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix

1 stick butter (8 T), melted

1 large egg


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 stick butter (8 T), melted

3¾ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the crust, blend the cake mix, butter and egg in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter should come together in a ball. With your fingertips, pat the batter evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 9 X 13 baking pan, smoothing it out with your fingers until the top is smooth. Set the pan aside. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

For the filling, place the cream cheese in the same mixing bowl that was used to make the crust, and with the same beaters (no need to clean either) blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the eggs, vanilla and melted butter and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat on medium speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the filling onto the crust and spread with the rubber spatula so that the filling covers the entire surface and reaches the sides of the pan.

Bake the cake until it is well browned but the center still jiggles when you shake the pan, 45 to 47 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool, 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Store this cake, covered in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Toasted Ravioli

This is a St. Louis tradition found in most local pizza places.  You can get an order of this with your pizza  instead of bread sticks and they also sell it in the grocery stores.  I found this recipe on the back of a bag of Seviroli frozen ravioli.

12 frozen ravioli squares, thawed
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. prepared marinara sauce
1/4 tsp. salt optional

Put the marinara sauce in a pot on low/medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Whisk milk and egg in a small bowl to make egg/milk batter.  Place bread crumbs and salt in shallow bowl.  Dip thawed ravioli into the batter and coat with bread crumbs.  Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan until the oil sizzles.  Fry the ravioli one at a time, one minute on each side or until golden brown.  Drain well and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with the marinara sauces as a dip.  Serves 4.

Look how fun this is to make!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Favorite Chicken Salad

I'm sure you all have your favorite chicken salad recipes, but is there anything better on a hot summer night?  This is all I feel like eating these days.  Especially since croissants are so stinkin' cheap at Sam's Club.  The best part about this chicken salad?  No celery!

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Craisins (I like cherry flavored)
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. course ground pepper

I like this salad served on croissants or pita bread.
 Serves 6

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Amazing Seafood Manicotti

I let each of the girls go through my cookbooks and find a dish they wanted to help me make and Eliza chose this Seafood Manicotti out of the "Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook". This is not a quick meal, but it is fairly easy and man oh man, totally worth the effort! I want to marry it...

Seafood Manicotti

1 quart whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
14 dried manicotti shells
2 lbs unpeeled large fresh shrimp
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs butter
1 lb fresh crabmeat, drained and flaked
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers

*Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan; cook over medium-high heat 30 minutes or until thickened and reduced to 2 cups. Set aside (This step actually took longer than 30 minutes for us, but since we did other things in the mean time, it all worked out).
*Cook manicotti according to package directions; drain. Peel shrimp, and devein, if desired. Chop shrimp and set aside.
*Saute onion and next 3 ingredients in butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.
*Add shrimp and crabmeat; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes; drain excess liquid.
*Combine seafood mixture and whipping cream mixture. Fill shells, and place in two lightly greased 11x7-inch baking dishes. Sprinkle with cheese.
*Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Caramel Cake

You may want an ambulance standing by if you serve this cake. It's like having the delicious filling of a really good chocolate all over the top of a wonderful cake. Sigh. What is with our cake recipes lately? :) I got this from America's Test Kitchen Best Recipes of 2010. They called it "Easy Caramel Cake," but I left the "easy" part out because I don't want anyone to confuse easy and fast. They explain in the cookbook that this is a Southern tradition and we're all about tradition around here. Tradition. TRADITION!! Enjoy.


1/2 c. buttermilk, room temperature

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

16 T. unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened


12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

2 c. packed dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Whisk the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a large measuring cup. In a large bowl, mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat in the butter, 1 piece at a time until only pea-size pieces remain in the bowl. pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add the remaining buttermilk mixture and beat until incorporated.

2. Scrape equal amounts of batter into the prepared pans and bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes completely before frosting.

3. FOR THE FROSTING: Heat 8 tablespoons of the butter, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the perimeter of the pan, 4-8 minutes. Whisk in the cream and cook until a ring of bubbles reappears, about one minute. Off the heat, whisk in the vanilla.

4. Transfer the hot frosting mixture to a bowl and, with an electric mixer on low speed, gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is pale brown and just warm, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 piece at a times, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

5. Frost quickly and serve.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Carrot Cake

The best carrot cake I've ever had was made by a German woman who confided that the secret to a good carrot cake is...pineapple.  Pineapple?  I didn't even notice it in her cake, but it truly is the secret.  That and a good cream cheese frosting.  Here you go!

4 eggs, well beaten
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 c. finely grated carrots
1 c. coconut
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 c. golden raisins (opt)
1 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped (opt)

Preheat oven to 325.  Oil 3 8" cake pans (I just used a Bundt) Set out 1/2 c. butter and 1 8oz cream cheese to soften (for frosting).  Put pineapple in a strainer to drain.  Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add sugars and beat till light and fluffy.  Add oil and mix well with whisk.  Put in the dry ingredients and beat till smooth.  Stir in remaining ingredients and pour batter into oiled layer pans.  Bake for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted in center of cake.  Cool slightly and frost.

1/2 c. butter
8 oz. cream cheese
2 c. powdered sugar
3 tsp vanilla
Mix together till smooth. Frost between layers and on top  Try toasted coconut for decoration.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Martha Washington Cake, or Fluffy Yellow Cake

All this cake talk is making me very hungry! I thought it would be good to add this wonderful recipe for standard yellow cake to the growing list of "from scratch" cakes. It's from the old 23rd Ward cookbook and I've used it for years.

1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. flour
1/2 (or a little more) tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar: add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Bake in 3 (8-inch) round layered cake pans at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. (You may use any other kind of pan - oblong, cupcakes, 9" pans - just adjust the baking time.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chocolate Macaroon Cake

From Lion House Desserts.  It will bring a tear to your eye.  The frosting is pretty much fudge.

Coconut Mixture:
1 egg white (reserve yolk for frosting)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. flour
2 c. grated  coconut

Beat egg white until soft mounds form.  Add sugar and vanilla, gradually beating until stiff peaks form.  In a separate bowl, mix flour with coconut, then stir slowly into egg white mixture.  Set mixture aside.

3/4 c. hot water
1/2 c. cocoa
3 egg whites (save yolks)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour an angel food cake pan.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, measure hot water and add cocoa.  Stir to dissolve; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft mounds form; gradually add sugar, beating until meringue stands in stiff peaks.  Set aside.  Place sour cream in a medium bowl and fold the soda into it.  The mixture will grow as you stir it.  Set aside.  In another bowl, beat sugar, shortening, egg yolks, salt, and  vanilla until creamy.  Add half of the cocoa mixture and beat until creamy (about 4 minutes).  Add the flour, sour cream mixture, and remaining cocoa mixture; blend well.  Fold in egg white mixture.

Place one-third of the cake batter in bottom of prepared pan, then crumble half of the coconut mixture on top of batter.  Spread half of the remaining cake batter on top of the coconut mixture.  Crumble the rest of the coconut mixture on top of the second layer of cake batter, then spread the remaining cake batter on top of the coconut mixture for a total of 5 layers.  Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until cake tests done.  Remove from oven and allow to cool until bottom of pan feels slightly warm.  To loosen the sides and center, slide a thin knife along the edges and carefully turn upside down.  Allow to cool completely; frost with Frosting.

1 c. chocolate chips
2 Tb. butter
1 egg yolk (reserved from coconut mixture)
1/4 c half-and-half cream
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar

Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a small saucepan.  mix together with egg yolk, half-and-half, and powdered sugar.  Beat until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency.  you may need to add a little more half-and-half to reach proper consistency.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coconut Cake

I made this almost a month ago and I'm just now getting around to posting it. So sorry! This cake will make you cry with joy. It is a pleasure. The recipe is Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa).

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beignets (Behn-YAYS!)

My kids were watching The Princess and the Frog for the eleventyhundredth time and Harrison commented that the beignets that Tiana was making looked "reeeeeally good" and asked would I please make them some.  I found this recipe from Paula Deen and was so excited to find out what French Quarter Beignets actually were.  It turns out they're the Utah Mormon version of scones.  I think the dough is probably slightly different, but it's the same idea.  Whatever, dude.  I told my kids we were having gumbo and beignets for dinner and their little hearts exploded with joy.

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • oil, for deep frying (for authentic New Orleans beignets, use cottonseed oil)
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.  Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.  In a seperate bowl, measure out the bread flour.  Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.  Add the shortening and continue to sir while adding the remaining flour.  Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  (Or let your Bosch do all the stirring and kneading, suckas.)  Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.  Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  (I left it in the Bosch with the lid on.)  Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees or heavy pot on medium-high heat.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inc thickness and cut into 1-inch squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly until they become a golden color.

After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towel, then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar.

Hold the bag closed and shake to coat evenly. 

Put them in a heart-shaped tin and make new friends.

Makes about 3 dozen, says the recipe.  I halfed it both times I made these and we had at least two dozen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Aaaaaahhhhh...Creamy Mango Smoothies!

This is the perfect after school snack when it's so hot outside that the kids get sweaty just walking home from the bus stop. It's sooo good! It's refreshing, easy and healthy. With only 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, and loaded with vitamins, it really is the perfect snack. We had it for Family Home Evening treat this week.

2 mangoes, seed removed, peeled and chopped (I used canned, I've also used frozen and both work)
2 cups Mango Sorbet (Hagen Daas)
12 oz Fat Free French Vanilla yogurt (Dannon Light & Fit)
1 1/2 cups skim milk, or soymilk

Combine in a blender. Makes 6 servings, although, I could drink the whole thing by myself.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Edible Cookie Dough

1 c. butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. chocolate chips

1.  Assemble and premeasure the ingredients.  Set the butter out to soften at room temperature.
2.  Cut the butter into chunks (my favorite word).  Place it and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
3.  Turn off the mixer.  Add the flour, water and vanilla.  Blend until mixed well.  Add the chocolate chips while the mixer is running.  Continue mixing 15 to 20 seconds until the chips are distributed throughout the dough.
4.  Use a melon baller to portion the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Place the dough balls in the freezer until firm.  Store in resealable plastic bags and enjoy as a snack.
5.  Make cookie dough ice cream (be still my heart) by blending a softened pint of good vanilla ice cream with 10 to 12 dough balls.  Allow the dough to break up throughout the ice cream.  Store the finished ice cream in the freezer.

Tips and Warnings:
- for a lighter flavor, use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar.
- this cookie dough is NOT suitable for baking.  It does not contain all the ingredients necessary to produce a proper cookie.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Raspberry Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are dangerously delicious. I highly advise using the foil muffin liners. Paper liners result in you having to lick half of the muffin out of the paper, and they're easier to enjoy all in one piece. Also, don't make them when you're home alone with children who won't eat them, because you will eat all of them.
2 C. brown sugar
3/4 C butter
6 egg whites
2 C vanilla yogurt
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C oats
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 C raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 375.
Melt butter on stove and add brown sugar. Let cool.
Leave eggs out to room temperature. Mix whites until fluffy, then add to the butter mixture. Add yogurt. Combine dry ingredients, then add to wet mixture gradually. Stir in berries. Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way, and sprinkle with sugar in the raw. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes close to 3 dozen.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day I am going to share three delicious ways to cook corned beef and cabbage. 

1. Simmering Corned Beef Brisket*
1 Corned beef brisket, point cut (2-3 lbs.)
1 Head of Cabbage
2 lbs. red potatoes

Place corned beef brisket flat side down in a large pot.  Cover with water.  Most briskets will come with a small packet of seasonings.  If yours doesn't, add 20 peppercorns and 2 bay leaves to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2-3 hours or until meat easily separates. 
During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add cabbage that has been quartered.  (The whole head of cabbage probably won't fit into the pot.)  When the meat is fully cooked, remove from water and let sit 15 minutes.  Slice against the grain and serve.

Serve with boiled red potatoes, horseradish sauce, and/or spicy mustard.

2.Roasting Corned Beef Brisket
Place corded beef brisket in a roasting pan and cover with seasoning packet (or 20 peppercorns and 2 bay leaves).  Cook at 350 for 1 hour per pound. 
During the last 15 minutes of cooking, quarter the head of cabbage and place in a medium pot.  Add a small amount of water and plenty of kosher salt.  Steam until the smell of cabbage permiates the air.
Serve corned beef and cabbage with boiled red potatoes.

3. Mom's Cheap and Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is the method we all grew up on and the one my kids prefer.

1 can of corned beef (Sounds gross, but isn't.), sliced
1 head of cabbage
2 lbs red potatoes

Place quartered red potatoes in the bottom of a large pot.  Add kosher salt and cover with water.  (Don't fill the whole pot with water, just enough to cover the potatoes.)  If you have a steaming tray insert, add it here.  Cover potatoes with layers of cabbage leaves.  Top cabbage leaves with slices of canned corned beef.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Boil until the smell of cabbage permiates the room.  By then, the cabbage should be a brighter green, and the potatoes should be cooked. 

Remove the corned beef and place on a platter.  Remove cabbage with a slotted spoon.  Drain potatoes.  Serve with butter and coarse ground pepper.  Serves 4.

*I found that the first method made everything a bit slimy (which was perfect for my 10 month-old, but not for me).  The kids still really liked it, but I would recommend one of the other two methods.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ribbon Jello

Or otherwise entitled "Takes all day to make Jell-O". Totally worth the effort. It's so pretty and so delicious. I've actually been looking for this recipe for a while, and was very excited to find it in a Mormon cookbook (of course).

6 or 7 packages of 3 oz. jell-o
1 pint of sour cream
Whipped topping for the top

Add 1 cup boiling water to 1 package of Jell-O in a small bowl; stir to dissolve. Pour half of Jello into a 9x13 clear pan and place on a level self in the refrigerator to chill. Set the small bowl with the other half of the dissolved Jell-O into a larger bowl of ice. (I just added one ice cube to it while the first half set). When the layer has set in the pan, the icy jell-o will be syrupy (it doesn't take long since quantities are small). Add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream to the Jell-O on ice, (I forgot the ice sometimes and it still worked), and mix until smooth. Pour this over the clear set jell-o. Return to refrigerator; when set, repeat using contrasting color of Jell-O. The book says that green is a good color to start with.
When you're all done with that, cover with a layer of whipped topping.
Cut in squares and serve. Keep it chilled.

Note: Each layer should be set only enough to hold the next layer. If set too hard, the layers will not bond well and may slip when served.

Another Note: I went to church between layers and they bonded fine. I'm just writing what's in the book.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fantastic Salmon

Pesto (the kind from Costco is what I used and it was so good)
Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
Red Onion
A few fresh Mushrooms
Cajun Spice

Lay the fish on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Use enough foil to wrap the fish before putting in the oven.
Cut 2 long slits in the salmon (the length of the fish), cutting about half way into the fish.
Stuff the cuts with the cream cheese.
Smother the whole fish with pesto. Be generous.
Lay slices of onion on top and throw some mushrooms on it.
Sprinkle with Cajun spice

Wrap the whole thing in foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350.

It's great served with seasoned rice or a risotto.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mom's Birthday Quiche Lorraine

My cousin, Koryn, made an amazing pork dish for Christmas and when I asked her where she got the recipe she bore testimony of America's Test Kitchen and the books that have come of that PBS show. The next time I was in a book store, a magazine size version of ATK caught my eye. Then, through some ridiculous twists and turns, I ended up needing a recipe for quiche for Mom's birthday party last week. What says happy birthday better than quiche?! Seriously, though, quiche is romantic because it's French and it has stinky cheese in it. Make it for someone you love for Valentine's Day!

1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 oz. cream cheese, softened

Custard and Topping:
5 slices bacon, chopped fine
3/4 c. half-and-half
3/4 c. sour cream
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 c. Gruyere, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust, whisk flour, Parmesan and salt together in a bowl. In a large, separate bowl beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix the dough until the dough forms large clumps. Flatten the dough into a 6-inch disk and transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate.

Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes, then transfer it to the freezer until it's firm (about 10 minutes). (Once the dough is pressed into the pie pan, it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Spray two 12-inch square pieces of foil lightly with cooking spray and place them greased-side down on the chilled pie shell. Fill with pie weights and fold the excess foil over the edges of the dough. Bake until the surface of the dough no longer looks wet, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes - until the crust is brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 15 minutes.

For the custard and topping, cook bacon until crisp and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. (We did this step the day before and it saved us a lot of grief on the day of the party.) Whisk the half-and-half, sour cream, eggs, yolk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere, and three-quarters of the bacon together in a large bowl.

Pour the custard mixture into the warm pie shell and bake until the crust is golden and the custard is set around the edges, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle remaining bacon over the surface of the quich and continue baking until the center of the quiche is barely set, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

The quiche can be refrigerated in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap for up to 3 days. We served this cold at Mom's party and everyone seemed to enjoy it. David thought it was too salty, but that would be an easy thing to control. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stir-fry Sauce

Melissa requested this recipe. Either she didn't remember that I made stir-fry all the time, or she didn't like mine, but here it is.

Stir 2 Tablespoons cornstarch into 1 Cup cold water in medium bowl. Stir 1 tsp. bouillion granules (chicken for chicken stir-fry, beef for beef stir-fry, your choice for pork stir-fry) into 1 Cup hot water in measuring cup. Let it dissolve while you add 2-4 Tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or grate fresh if you use that), and a shake or two of pepper to cornstarch mixture. Add bouillion and hot water. Pour over stir-fry a few minutes before the meat and veggies are done cooking and cook til thick.

Fried Rice

I heart Chinese food, but I don't heart paying for it.  When I was a newlywed I decided I wanted to make some authentic Chinese food, so I called my brother-in-law (who went on a Chinese-speaking mission) and asked for a recipe for fried rice.  His response began, "Fried rice is just that: fried rice."  Thank you, sir.  His "recipe" consisted of "sometimes adding" bla bla bla and adding such and such "to taste."  I don't like recipes like that.  I need specifics and lots of them. 

Last week I decided I have eaten enough fried rice to know what it should taste like, so I put some things together and it turned out perfectly!  Here is my specific recipe for fried rice:

2 cups cooked white rice (preferrably cold)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, diced
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, and corn)
1 T soy sauce
1 egg
1-2 T oil

Heat oil in large skillet or wok (enough to cover the bottom).  Add green onions and garlic and saute just until fragrant.  Add rice and stir until rice has a brown coating.  Add frozen veggies and soy sauce, stirring constantly.  When vegetables are no longer frozen, add the egg.  Continue to stir until the egg is cooked. 

Add diced ham with egg and you have Ham Fried Rice.
Add cocktail shrimp after the egg and you have Shrimp Fried Rice.

Speaking of Chinese food, does anyone have a good recipe for stir fry sauce?  I always just buy a seasoning packet, but I'm sure there's a better way.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hazelnut Tea Cookies

Remember a few months ago when I said I would post this recipe if the cookies were any good? They were fantastic. We ate them until they were gone and we were happy. Here's the recipe:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. table salt

2 sticks butter, softened

1 c. powdered sugar, plus additional for coating

1 T. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until aerated and evenly combined: set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until whipped and light, about 2 more minutes.

Add half of the nuts and mix until evenly incorporated and nuts are broken up, about 1 minute. Add flour and mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in remaining nuts.

Shape dough into 1 Tablespoon balls and place on baking sheets, spaced at least 1 inch apart. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until underside of cookies are brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets.

Place some powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Once the cookies have cooled, roll them in powdered sugar until just coated and tap off the excess. Let cool completely and recoat in powdered sugar, tapping off excess sugar, before serving.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All-Day Stew

Makenzie has been begging me for this recipe. I had to resort to it for a busy Sunday dinner in December, but it tasted fabulous - probably because I used the holiday china. Or that we were really hungry. Actually, I use this often and love it because I can get it going in the morning and it's ready by dinner time.
All-Day Stew (from the Whiteley cookbook)
2 lbs. stew meat (cut into small chunks)
1 small onion, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 c. celery, chopped
5 large potatoes, cut into chunks
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 c. water
1 c. beef broth
salt to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can cut green beans
Combine all the ingredients except the beans in a crock-pot and cook on med. setting for 7-8 hours. Add the beans 1/2 hour before serving.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ham & Bean Soup

Have you ever realized you have a tradition and you didn't know it? This morning Brian called his mother to ask for the recipe for Ham & Bean Soup. We make it at least once a year - usually around the holidays because that's when we have a ham bone. The call to Brian's Mom is part of our ritual. First we look for the hand written recipe in the pockets of all my cookbook covers and in the random accordion files of recipes I've collected. (We found some coupons from 1999 in one file folder. Just missed those deals...) No matter where you're from, this soup makes you feel like you've gone home. Ahhhhh! And it's so simple.

1 lb. navy beans

6 peppercorns (if you're Brian, put in 7 and forget you did - fun for the whole family!)

1 onion, diced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

1 ham bone (and any leftover meat still on the bone)


Soak beans 6 to 8 hours in two quarts of cold water.


Bring beans to a boil in two quarts of water. Boil one minute. Remove from heat and let the beans sit in the water for 45 minutes. (Whichever method you choose, do not drain the beans. DO NOT SEEK THE TREASURE. Hahahaha!)

Add bay leaf, peppercorns, and ham bone to beans and simmer on low heat, covered, for three and a half hours. Remove ham bone(s), bay leaf, and peppercorns. Add onion and any meat from the ham bone. Simmer on low, covered, for another half hour.