20 February 2009

Testing Out The New Toys: Sherry Bundt Cake & Mexican Chocolte Cake

I just had to try out my new toy, the mini bundt pan that I mentioned earlier. I can't believe it took me this long to use it!

So I made some cakes last night, and some more today, maybe I'll test out another recipe tomorrow...Anyway they're beautiful! And I love them! And I think these are my new favorite things to make.

First I made the good ole Sherry Bundt Cake that we've made in my family for as long as I can remember. This recipe is one of the easiest and yummiest that I know.
Sherry Bundt Cake
1 Cake Mix
1 T All-purpose Flour
1 Small Instant Pudding
4 Eggs
1/4 c Oil
1/2 c Sherry (water if you're boring)
Sift the cake mix, flour, and pudding mix together. Beat the eggs and oil together and add to the dry mix. Add the sherry and mix until moistened. Pour (spread) into a greased bundt pan (or mini) and bake for 25 minutes at 350*F (I did about 15-20 for my minis).
Remove cake from oven, flip it onto a rack or serving plate and remove the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
**I don't have a picture of these, because I made them at a friend's house, but as soon as I get the ones he took I'll post them.**
I tried one of the recipes that came with my pan today with Eli and Cavan. They turned out amazing, and the recipe made about 12 mini cakes!
Mexican Chocolate Cake
4 (1 oz.) Squares Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 c Finely Chopped Walnuts (I left these out)
2 t Cinnamon
1/4 c Butter, Softened
2 Eggs
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1/2 c Granulated Sugar
2 c Sifted Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
1 c Buttermilk
1 t Vanilla
Grate chocolate and chop nuts finely; add the cinnamon. Set aside. In large bowl, cream butter and eggs; add brown and granulated sugar. Beat until smooth. Add chocolate mixture and blend. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture, add vanilla. Bake in greased and floured bundt pan at 325*F for 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack or serving plate to complete cooling.
I cooked my minis for about 20 minutes and tested them by making sure they bounced back when I touched the top. I also turned them onto a rack immediately.
Mexican Chocolate Glaze
1/2 c Chocolate Chips
1/4 c Boiling Water
1/2 t Cinnamon
1 c Powdered Sugar
Combine chocolate chips and water and mix well (this didn't fully melt the chips for me so I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds). Add cinnamon and powdered sugar and blend until smooth. Drizzle over cake. The glaze set really fast for me, so I had to glop it on the last few cakes. But it tastes amazing. You can also refrigerate it to get the consistency you want.

¡Buen apetito!

18 February 2009

Chocolate Heart Cookies

The Chocolate Heart Cookies tasted rather like chocolate shortbread, and did look sorta pretty, but not nearly as nice as they should have. I got the recipe from RecipeZaar and it had a lot of good reviews. Maybe if you get the frosting right.

Chocolate Heart Cookies

1 c Butter, softened
1/2 c Sugar
1 t Vanilla
2 c All-purpose Flour
1/4 c Cocoa
1 c Vanilla Chip or White Chocolate Chips
2 T Shortening, divided
1/2 c Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour and cocoa; gradually add to creamed mixture.

On a lightly floured surface (you can also used powdered sugar) roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter placing 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.

Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat vanilla chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening until melted, stirring frequently. Dip both sides of the cookie into melted mixture (so you make a V-shape from the point of the cookie out to the middle of both rounded tops).

In another microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and remaining shortening, stirring frequently. Drizzle over the cookies. Place on wire rack to dry.

Red Velvet, Cookies If You Please

I made 2 types of cookies this week. The Chocolate Heart Cookies were not that great, but the Red Velvet ones were amazing. They were perfect with or without frosting! Wow.

The amazing ones! I got this idea from Bakerella (my link to Cupcake Pops) but got the cookie recipe from RecipeZaar, with a few slight changes.
Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches
1 2/3 c Flour, +2 T For high altitude
1 1/2 T Cocoa
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
1/2 c Butter, softened
3/4 c Sugar
1 Egg
1 T Red Food Coloring
1 1/2 t Vanilla
1 c Buttermilk, -1 T For high altitude
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, food coloring and vanilla and mix well. Add the buttermilk, alternating with the flour mixture.
Drop by tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c Butter, softened
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 lb Powdered Sugar
1 t Vanilla
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
Frost the bottom of one cooled cookie, and make a sandwich with another.
I didn't want the whole batch of frosting, so I used 2 T butter, 2 oz Cream Cheese, 1 1/2 c Sugar, and 1/4 t Vanilla. This made about 14 sandwich cookies.
Mmmmm...red velvet, if you please.

14 February 2009

It's a Party! Chocolate Mashmallow Cookies

Sunday is Steve's birthday so the party was today, in case he takes tomorrow off. I made some Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies. They are quite amazing. And SO easy!

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
1/2 c Butter, softened
1 c Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 c Milk
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 3/4 c All-purpose Flour
1/3 c Cocoa
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; beat into creamed mixture.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake at 350*F for 8 minutes.

Press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto each cookie. Return to the oven for 3 minutes.

Cool completely on wire rack.

6 T Butter
2 T Cocoa
1/4 c Milk
1 3/4 c Powdered Sugar
1/2 t Vanilla Extract
Pecan halves, Almonds, Peanut pieces, whatever you want on top

In a small saucepan combine butter, cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Cool slightly; transfer to a small mixing bowl. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the cooled cookies. Top each with your choice of nuts.

Or not.

I took these cookies, although they told me I didn't have to. That they would provide them this time. When I got there they revealed that this was also a going away party for me. (I guess they didn't get the memo that I am not leaving until April, now) Anyway they all pitched in and got me a new toy! Since I take so many goodies to the office. YAY! A mini bundt pan! I'm so excited to experiment!

10 February 2009

Aaahhhh Artichoke Dip

I forgot to add this recipe! I almost forgot we ate it the other night for dinner. Aaahhh!

Hot Artichoke Dip
1 can Artichoke Hearts, chopped
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c Mayonnaise
4 oz Mozzarella, grated
1 c Parmesan, grated
1/8 t Garlic powder, (or 1/2 T Minced Garlic: my family likes lots of garlic!)

Mix together all ingredients, place in a baking dish (pie pan) and bake for 25 minutes at 350*F. Serve with veggies, crackers, chips, or toast.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

After looking up and testing the lovely PB&J muffins (which were fine with no changes!), I found out that half the kids have peanut allergies. Well, at least I liked them.

My substitute was Apple Cinnamon Muffns. They weren't too bad either.
Apple Cinnamon Muffins
1 c All-purpose Flour (you can use 2 c All-purpose and leave out the wheat if you want)
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t Salt
1 t Baking Powder
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1 c Apple Juice
2 T Oil
1/2 c Aapplesauce
In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins and bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While still warm, dip in melted butter and then topping.
1/4 c Melted Butter
3 T Sugar
1/4 t Cinnamon
1/4 t Nutmeg
Mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a shallow bowl. I didn't dip as the recipe said. I used a brush for the butter, and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over the muffins.
This one's for you, peanut allergy kids.

09 February 2009

PB&J Muffins

I was asked to make 30 muffins for the local pre-school class for this Tuesday. I like the boxed blueberry muffins, but that is so boring. And the kids are probably sick of blueberries. So I decided to make some PB&J muffins for them.

I went on another action packed adventure of RecipeZaar.com. This is what I came up with.

PB&J Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c natural creamy peanut butter
3/4 c 1% milk
1/2-3/4 c honey
1/2 c finely grated carrot
1/2 c finely grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c all-fruit strawberry preserves or raspberry preserves

Spray paper muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With two knives or a pastry blender, cut in peanut butter until coarse crumbs form and mixture is no longer powdery. Add milk, honey, carrot, zucchini, eggs, and oil; stir until well moistened. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup.
Top each with about 1 teaspoon fruit preserves. Cover with remaining batter. Bake 15–20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I think this recipe needs about 1 c milk, and 3/4 c honey to be easy to work with. I'll let you know when I try it. Also I used peach preserves for my test batch. I'll use good ole grape jelly for the kiddies. I also cheated and left out the carrots and zucchini, though you probably wouldn't be able to tell they were there.

05 February 2009

Creme Brulee Cupcakes!


Today I made some Creme Brulee Cupcakes. I saw the recipe on Jamie's Green Kitchen.
I am not one for keeping cake mixes around the house, so I had to look for a recipe for the caramel/french vanilla mix. I found both, and after considerable searching, and modifying this is what I ended up with.

Caramel French Vanilla Cupcakes
1/3 c Sugar
Boiling water
Cake Batter
1 1/3 c All-purpose Flour
3 c Cake Flour
1 sm. packet French Vanilla Pudding (instant)
1 1/2 T Baking Powder
1 t Salt
2 1/4 c Sugar
1/2 c Butter, room temperature
3 Eggs
4 Egg Yolks (save the Whites)
1/2 c Oil
1 t Vanilla
Sprinkle 1/3 c sugar in a shallow sauce pan over medium heat. When the sugar is half melted, swirl the pan so that the rest melts evenly. When all the sugar is melted stir until it begins to boil and turns a rusty red color. Remove from heat and add 1/3 c boiling water. Return to medium heat and stir until the caramel has dissolved. Pour into a glass measuring cup. Add more water and repeat, getting more caramel to dissolve. Pour into the measuring cup until liquid level reaches 1/2 cup. Let cool until just warm.

Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, pudding mix, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks, and beat well. Next add the oil and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Mix the flour into the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the caramel mixture. When adding the final batch, mix just until smooth. Fill baking cups about 2/3 full, do not over fill (as in the photo) the batter sticks to the top of the muffin tin and is very difficult to remove.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 350*F. Remove onto a rack and let cool completely. This recipe needs to be modified for high-altitude, but should be fine for low. Every single one of my cupcakes fell. I guess that means more frosting, right?
The following frosting recipe is taken from Jamie's Green Kitchen.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 c Light Brown Sugar
4 Egg Whites
¼ t Salt
1 c (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature

Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.
Garnish with some natural sugar crystals and melted sugar chips. Put a thin layer of sugar on parchment paper under the broiler until it melted and browned. When cooled, crack it into little pieces to simulate the "crack" on top of creme brulee.

Italian Wedding Soup

This is an old post that I deccided to update to reduce confusion. I had 3 recipes on one post and I am separating them.

The other night I made Italian Wedding Soup. This is a family favorite and anytime soup is mentioned my dad asks for this. Another reason it is made a lot: it is ridiculously easy.

Italian Wedding Soup

1 lb Ground Beef
2 Eggs
1/4 c Bread Crumbs
2 T Parmasean, grated
1 t Basil
3 T Onion, chopped

2 1/2 qt Chicken Broth (I use that much water and add about 1-2 tablespoons Better Than ullion Chicken Stock)
2 c Spinach
1 c Orzo Pasta (Since I live in a very small town this is not something available at my local grocery store, so I use Penne)
3/4 c Carrot, chopped
1 1/2 c Potatoes, diced (optional)

Mix the burger, eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, basil, and onion in a large bowl. Roll into 3/4" meatballs and place on waxed paper.

Heat the broth on medium heat. If using potatoes, add to the broth and cook until done (a fork slides through the potato easily) Add spinach and carrot and bring broth to a boil. Add the meatballs and cook 5-10 minutes before adding the pasta. Cook the pasta as directed, and serve when cooked through.

Raspberry Ribbons

This is an old post that I deccided to update to reduce confusion.  I had 3 recipes on one post and I am separating them.

Yesterday I was in a baking mood. I usually take cookies up to the local Forest Service office every 1-2 weeks. I always try to find something new. This is what I found in my new Tast of Home cookbook (Best Loved Cookies & Bars)

Raspberry Ribbons

1 c Butter, softened
1/2 c Sugar
1 Egg
1 t Vanilla
2 1/4 c All-prupose Flour
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Salt
1/2 c Raspberry Jam

1 c Powdered Sugar
2 t Evaporated Milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 t Vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Divide dough into four portions; shape each into a 10" x 2 1/2" log. Place 4" apart on greased or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake a 1/2" depression down the center of each log. Bake at 350*F. for 10 minutes.

Fill depressions with jam. Bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes. Remove to a cutting board; cut into 3/4" slices. Place on wire racks.

In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over warm cookies. Cool completely and serve.

These go very fast, they taste like shortbread and jam, Yummy!

03 February 2009

An Exploit: Fondling Truffles and Ancient Recipes

The Truffles
So, I told my sister the whole story about Gramma Nellie fondling the truffles, and she thought I should tell it to all of you.

For the Super Bowl I made lots of truffles. I cheat for the chocolate shell, and don't use a double boiler. Because I just use the stove top, the chocolate began to get grainy and too thick to look nice on the truffles. To solve this problem I added some cream. The bad thing about adding cream is that the shell doesn't harden as much as it probably should.

When I was finished making the candies, and they had chilled enough to be set for handling, I put them on these nice sea shell shaped platters that we got for my sister's graduation party. I put the Raspberry truffles on one dish, with a little dab of Raspberry jam. I put the Orange truffles on the other dish, with a little dab of Marmalade (this is so that I, along with everyone else, can tell the truffles apart as they do look quite similar). Unfortunately I didn't have enough of the Orange ones to leave out those with extra cream.

About half way through the 3rd quarter of the football game, Gramma Nellie decided that she was going to have a truffle. She just happened to get one with the cream, and having sat out for the full first half, it was quite soft.

Nellie: These truffles are melting, we should put them in the fridge.
Me: When I was making them the chocolate got messed up, so I had to add extra cream and 2 of the truffles were softer, and didn't set right.
Nellie: (proceeds to squeeze every single truffle left on both plates to be sure that I am not telling falsehoods) Well, they all seem ok, I guess you're right.
Me: (rolling my eyes) Ok, that's good.
My mom & Joanne: (trying as hard as they can to keep from laughing)
The Recipes
Last night I stayed with my aunt in Rawlins, since she and my uncle didn't think I should drive home after dark. She's been cleaning her house (pack rat) and thought that I would be interested in some of her cookbooks. It turns out that she wanted me to take every cookbook and recipe she'd ever owned (how exciting for me to find out that most of them were Weight Watchers). She also went through a phase where she joined these recipe clubs, sort of like book clubs where you buy 2 and get 5 free. This is what I ended up with from just that section of her life. 5000 recipes from 1960. Why am I interested? Well there just might be something good in there, but...probably not.

After going through the boxes of recipes we went through the books. I was able to salvage a few that could be interesting. But lucky for me she had just gone to some "Books Are Fun" thing and I ended up with mostly new books.
She brought out a Williams-Sonoma book and told me that this was a late Christmas gift. Then she brought out 4 more. "Pick one for your sister, and another for you," she tells me. Ok, so I went through them and found one I thought my sister would like. After talking for a while about what looks good in each one she tells me, "take them all, there's no one I'd rather have them." CAROL!...... fine. So this is what I'm bringing home with me.

Oh, and by the way I mentioned I liked the bag they were in.
Carol: Oh, take that, too! It was free with all the books.
Me: Carol, just because I say I like something doesn't mean you have to give it to me.
Carol: I know but I want to.

01 February 2009

Toad-in-the-Hole Super Bowl

So, for the Super Bowl party we were invited to, my mom volunteered me to make more truffles. I made about 40 thinking that people would actually be at this party. I also offered to make these Toad-in-the-Hole things I found in my English cookbook. As it turned out a total of 6 people were at this party. The host, his wife, her mother (who fondled all my truffles when she found one that might be melting), my parents and me. Wooo! But these did turn out pretty well, not the way the picture in the book looked, but I liked them. The book they're from is called Marguerite Patten's Best British Dishes. They also have some amazing scones and a treat called flapjacks, which my sister introduced me to. Her version are like granola bars, but taste like oatmeal cookie dough. I'll put them up eventually.

1 1/2 c Flour
Good Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs
2 c Milk
2 t Oil, Lard, or Fat
1 lb Sausages
Sift the flour and salt into a basin, add the eggs one at a time and beat well, then gradually add the milk. Whisk briskly to give a smooth batter. Allow to stand for a time before cooking. Always whisk the batter before pouring it into the dish, as the flour tends to sink to the bottom of the liquid mixture.

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Put the oil, lard or fat, into a shallow, oblong 2 pint casserole or tin and heat for about 3 minutes. Add the sausages and turn in the heated fat. Cook for 5 minutes if small and 10 minutes if large. Add the batter and cook for a further 25-30 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Check after 15-20 minutes and lower the heat slightly if the batter is becoming too brown. Lift out of the tin or dish, cut into portions. Serve with gravy or Tomato Sauce (to be posted at a later date, after I try it myself).

For the party I used Little Smokies and a muffin tin, and ladled about 2-3 tablespoons of the batter into each cup after heating the sausages. They then cooked for about 20 minutes and were nicely browned. We also had this for dinner one night using hot Italian sausage, and that was just as good. I have not yet tried them with the gravy or tomato sauce, we've just eaten them straight from the oven.