The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 348-365 (week 51 & 52)

December 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!

Well, we made it through the year, made some new friends along the way, and had some fun!  I’ve really enjoyed trying out new recipes, sharing them with you, and sharing the little ordinary goings-on of our family with you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the tidbits as well as the food, and found some cool new things to try!!  I know I’ve tried things I never thought I would, and found out I actually LIKE curry!

So here’s our final entry for this blog for this year.  I’ve got a BUNCH of recipes for you, some simple, some not-so-much, but all well worth the effort.  I hope to continue this food blog in 2013, but I don’t think I’m going to focus as much on doing something new every day like this on started out, I think I’m going to try new things every weekend and share those adventures.  Gives me more time to work on my two new blog ideas….

Here are my two new blog ideas for 2013, I’m going to give them a shot and see where they take me.  I’m going to start a new blog doing some product reviews, starting with some of the things I got for Christmas, and then I’m going to have a second blog about jewelry making, share some things I’ve tried, maybe try my hand at doing a tutorial or two on some basic techniques.  Could be fun!  Hope you’ll join me!!

Working names, please let me know what you think!:

Ramblings Meets Reviews!

Nirvana Bay Designs Presents:

So, on to the food….

Chicken Everglades

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or however many you need to feed your crew)

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in chicken.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 2-3 chicken breasts.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I usually go for some steamed veggies and maybe some biscuits.

Pork Chops Everglades

4-5 boneless thick cut pork chops

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess fat from the chops, and cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in pork.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 4-5 chops.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook pork, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I went for some rice this time, and some steamed veggies.

Nachos

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Tortilla chips

1 cup shredded taco blend cheese

1/2 cup salsa (I use mild)

Chopped black olives (optional)

Chopped green pepper (optional)

Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain excess fat.  Add in water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

Arrange tortilla chips on a plate, top with seasoned beef, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like, everything except the salsa at this point!   Microwave about 1 minute, maybe just a little more or less depending on your microwave, just until cheese melts.  Top with salsa, sour cream, or ranch dressing and serve!

Cheddar Sausage Biscuits

P1060031

3 cups Bisquick

1 pound bulk pork sausage (I used mild, and wish I had used medium!)

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp dried Rosemary leaves

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

BBQ sauce or Ranch dressing or chili sauce, whatever you like for dipping!

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom and sides of jelly roll pan with olive oil cooking spray.

Stir together all ingredients, mix VERY well.  I had to get in there with my hands to get it mixed right.  Shape into 1 inch balls, a cookie scoop works really well for this, wish I had had one when I was doing this!  Place in pan, right up against each other, but don’t squish them together.

Bake 25 minutes or until brown and slightly crispy.  Remove from pan to paper towel lined platter.  Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Makes about 8 dozen balls.

Corn Pudding

1 can creamed corn

1 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

Dash of salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs, sugar and flour together.  Add corn, butter, salt and milk.  Pour into buttered (or in my case, butter flavor cooking sprayed) 13″ x 9″ dish.  Bake at 325 degrees approximately 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

NOTE: if you double this recipe, you will have to cook it about an extra 20-30 minutes for the center to set right.

Oatmeal Scotchies

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1 stick plus 6 tbsp butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups oats (Quick cooking or not, doesn’t really matter, but the consistency of the cookie IS different.  I prefer regular over quick oats)

1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, add in sugars and mix well.  Add in eggs and vanilla, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.  Slowly add to butter mixture, mix well.

Add in oats and chips, you will have to switch to a spoon rather than a mixer at this point, it gets really thick! (at least I do…  my little hand mixer won’t handle it…)

Dropped by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.

OR, spread into a buttered (or sprayed) 13″ x 9″ pan, bake 30 – 35 minutes, cool and cut into bars.

Bulgar Breakfast Squares

2 cups cooked Bulgar wheat (1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked)

2/3 cup milk (or fat free half and half!)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dried bananas

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup dried cherries

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

First tip, put the dried fruit in with the Bulgar when you cook it, just add about 1/4 cup extra water, softens them up nicely.

Combine everything, spread into a greased (sprayed) 8″ x 8″ baking pan, cover with tin foil, bake 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before trying to cut, serve warm.

You can also prepare this in advance, cool completely, cut into squares and reheat in a microwave.

Snowballs

P1060103

1 cup butter, softened but not melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups ground pecans

2 cups sifted flour

1 box confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Cream butter.  Add sugar, pecans and flour.  Mix well.  Dough will be VERY stiff.

Shape into tablespoon size balls, again a cookie scoop would have come in very handy here, but I didn’t have one yet.

Place on UNGREASED cookie sheet, bake 45 minutes at 300 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately roll in confectioners sugar.  Set out to cool on waxed paper over newspaper (to protect your surface!).  Roll again in confectioners sugar when cooled.    Store in a sealed container.

Tollhouse Cookies

P1060102

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 10 ounce package chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, cream butter, add sugars, vanilla and eggs, mix well.

Gradually add in flour mixture.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons (cookie scoop!) onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 9 – 11 minutes.

OR, do like I did and spread it all into a greased pizza pan, bake 20 – 25 minutes, cool in pan, cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

Ham and Cheese Quiche

1 frozen pie crust

3 large eggs

1 cup half and half (fat free, of course)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup diced ham

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place pie crust in glass pie plate.  Prick bottom and sides, bake 10 minutes to set.  Remove from oven and cool.

Sprinkle ham and cheese in cooled crust.  Mix eggs, milk and spices in mixing bowl.  Pour over ham and cheese.  Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake another 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven, or until puffy and lightly browned.  Cool about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chicken and Pasta

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

Olive oil cooking spray

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tsp Italian seasoning blend

Salt and pepper to taste

Spaghetti sauce

Dreamfields Penne pasta, cooked to package directions

Grated Parmesan cheese

Spray skillet with cooking spray, heat over medium heat.  Add in chicken and spices, cover, stir frequently to cook through.  Drain off excess liquid.

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P1060112

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Add sauce and chicken to pasta, serve topped with a little Parmesan!

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Crockpot Chili

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

3 cans red kidney beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 diced green pepper

2 Tbsp onion flakes

2 pkgs chili seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

P1060114

Top with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, whatever YOU like on your chili!!

So I think that’s enough for now…

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 313-319 (week 46)

November 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  It’s been an interesting week…  nothing Earth-shattering, just interesting.

Work has been really busy, which I can only think is NOT a good thing considering what I do, that means the foreclosure business is booming, or maybe things are just moving better through the courts, but whatever is going on, it can’t be a good sign for the economy.

And of course, there was all the post-election stuff going on, the stock market dropping, businesses laying people off, Hostess closing, just kind of a depressing week all the way around.

BUT, William had a really good week at school, things are going very well for him, he’s enjoying his classes, and getting good grades.  Absolutely cannot complain!

Mike had a good week at work, things are picking up, they are finally keeping him almost busy, and he spent all day yesterday working on his guitar.  Took his birthday money and bought some new pick-ups, a new pick guard, and he’s really happy with the results.

I’ve been fairly busy working on jewelry, too, but I need to get better at getting OFF the computer at night and doing things I LIKE instead of wasting so much time on Facebook.  I mostly work on new pieces on my lunch hour at work, but I spent about 3 hours last night making clay beads, which was more fun than I remember, and then a few hours today making jewelry from some of those beads, so I feel like I had an extra special day!  And, I still got the laundry done, cleaned up the kitchen, and did my nails.  GOOD DAY!

So, on to the food….

Monday

Baked BBQ Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops

About 3 cups BBQ sauce of your choice

1 Tsp garlic powder

Put the pork chops in a roasting pan, sprinkle with garlic powder, pour over BBQ sauce, cover and bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour, or until chops are done through and sauce is bubbly.  Serve!

Ratatouille (this was fun!)

1 smallish yellow squash

1 smallish zucchini

1 Chinese eggplant

2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan

Italian seasoning blend

Using a mandolin slicer, slice the squash and eggplant very thin.  Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with olive oil flavor cooking spray.  Pour the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with the onion flakes and garlic powder.  Liberally salt and pepper.  Lay the slices of squash and eggplant on the sauce, alternating each type of veggie, overlapping each, all the way around and in the center. (sort of like in the movie, looks a little like a fan)  Salt and pepper, sprinkle with a few Tbsp Parmesan.  Layer more veggies, salt and pepper, Parmesan.  Repeat until you have about 3 to 4 layers, or you run out of veggies.  Sprinkle with remaining olive oil and any remaining Parmesan, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend.  Cover with aluminum foil, cook at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until tomato sauce is bubbling up around the edges of the veggies.  Serve!!

Fried Potatoes

2 leftover Perfect Baked Potatoes

Sour cream, about 1/2 cup

Parmesan, about 1/2 cup

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes and fry until they start to brown a little.  Skin on or off is entirely up to you!  Once the potatoes are heated through and just a very little browned, remove from heat, stir in sour cream and Parmesan.  Serve!

Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Pudding Pokes

Basic Yellow Cake recipe

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

1/2 c chocolate chips

Allow butter and eggs to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease and flour 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in sugar, beating on medium, until well combined.  Scrape sides of bowl, beat two minutes more.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes for 9″x13″ pan (I actualy had to put this back in for an extra 20 minutes before it was done, so I cooked 50 minutes)

Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan before frosting.

When cooled, poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Prepare instant chocolate pudding to package directions, family size package.  Pour over cake, making sure it gets into those holes and leaks down the sides a little.  Allow to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.  YUM!

Tuesday

Ranch Fried Chicken, Bacon and Tomato sandwich

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 pkgs ranch dressing mix

2 cups flour, divided

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 pound bacon

1 large tomato, sliced

Cut the bacon into about 1/2″ wide pieces, cook until crispy, remove to paper towel lined plate to drain, set aside.

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken, cut into chunks, then pound those to about 1/4″ thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Put 1 cup plain flour in one wide shallow bowl.

Put the eggs, beaten, into another wide shallow bowl.

Mix the other cup of flour, ranch dressing mix, and a little salt and pepper, in a third wide shallow bowl.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the plain flour, then in the egg, then in the seasoned flour.  Fry in shallow oil over medium heat until golden brown and crisp.  Remove to paper towels to drain excess oil while cooking remaining chicken.  I can usually do 3-4 pieces at a time.

Serve on bread, toasted or not is up to you, with bacon, tomato and your choice of sauces.  YUM!

Wednesday

Jet’s Pizza

Thursday

Chicken and Sausage with Tomato Sauce

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 rope Kielbasa

1 Jar spaghetti sauce

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend

1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tsp orange Everglades seasoning

1 Jar (that sauce jar!) water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Cut the sausage into roughly 2″ pieces.  Don’t cut the chicken, in fact, frozen works really well for this.

Put everything in a crock pot, mix a little, cook on LOW 8-10 hours.  Using a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken, which should be falling apart at this point, the sausage and beans, put on a serving platter.

Serve with rice or pasta, your choice, and a little of the sauce from the pot poured over each serving.

Parmesan Orzo

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

1 stick butter

1 c Parmesan

Cook pasta to package directions.  Drain.  Melt butter in the hot pan, add back in pasta, and add Parmesan.  Mix well and serve!

Steamed Veggies

Friday

Burritos and Taquitos

Frozen ones, sorry, no recipe this time!

Saturday

Taco Bell

Yes, we ate out.  I just didn’t feel like cooking after working half the day, then housework, just didn’t have it in me!  But, once I ate dinner, I made…

Chicken soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 pkts chicken flavor Flavor boost

2 pkts vegetable flavor Flavor boost

4 quarts water

2 Tbsp green Everglades seasoning

1 Tsp garlic powder

1/2 bag frozen green beans

1/2 bag frozen sliced carrots

1/2 c frozen peas

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

In a LARGE stock pot, pour in water, add flavor packets and spices, mix well.  Add in chicken.  Cook over LOW heat about 2 hours.  Increase heat so that water boils, add in pasta, cook about 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is well done.  Reduce heat again, add in veggies, cook another 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, serve, or allow to cool and put into serving size containers.  Freezable!!  This made about a dozen large servings, about the same size as Chunky soup cans, but a lot better for you.

Sunday

Breakfast for Dinner

Bacon, cooks crispy

Scrambled eggs with cheese

Crescent Rolls

Simple, quick meal that everyone loves.  I added a sliced tomato to my plate, but I’m the only one that likes them…

Apple Banana Dessert

1 small apple

1/4 cup dried banana slices

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp butter

1/4 C old fashioned oats

Core apple, cut into wedges, then slice the wedges into very small slices.  Put into a microwave safe bowl.  Add in the dried banana slices.  Top with the butter and brown sugar.  Microwave 1 minute, mix well, microwave another 4 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before serving!  Top with a little ice cream, YUM!!!

Anyway, that’s it for this week.  Hope you found something you want to try!!

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 152

June 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!!

It’s been quiet around here today…

James spent the weekend with the girlfriend, and working, so we haven’t seen him since Friday night, and then only for a few minutes while he loaded up the car.

William has been playing Legos all day, except for the few times he’s come out to show me the “movies” he’s creating by doing stop motion photography with his phone and some Lego creations…  well, his version of stop motion anyway. Don’t think he completely gets that you have to make a TINY adjustment between each photo!  But he’s trying, and it’s adorable!

Mike has been reading comics and helping with laundry and dishes, and of course watching movies.  It is Sunday after all, and SyFy is running all the Alien movies as a teaser to Prometheus as it is coming out next weekend, can’t wait!!!

And I’ve been doing odds and ends…  went grocery shopping, relatively small trip, but we needed a few things.  Had to take my time,  compare prices on things, and dodge all the non-English speaking folks with their food stamps who were out in DROVES today.  Something about that really bothers me…  couldn’t be that when we needed help we couldn’t get any!  We had to depend on friends and family and hope it all worked out.

OK, enough of the soap box rant…  sorry!

Finished up the laundry, did dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, made a nice dinner, and now dessert is in the oven.  I took a couple of familiar recipes and changed them up a little, they turned out really well!  Here are the recipes:

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

2 boxes Great Value chicken flavor stuffing

3 cups water

1 stick butter, cut into pieces

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 large can Great Value cream of mushroom soup

8 slices Great Value Swiss cheese

8-10 slices lunchmeat ham (or one pkg diced ham)

2 Tbsp milk

Heat water 5 minutes in the microwave while you slice up the butter into pats.  Put the pats in a large casserole dish, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is completely melted.  Mix in the two boxes of stuffing, mixing well to make sure all the pieces get moist, and all the liquid gets absorbed.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim any excess fat or leftover skin from the chicken breasts, including removing that tendon that runs through the breast, and cut the meat into bite sized pieces.  Set aside.

Lay the lunch meat ham (or spread the diced ham) over the stuffing.

Top with the chicken pieces, spreading them out over the whole dish.

Top with the Swiss cheese, overlapping as needed.

Make sure the cheese doesn’t touch the pan, it WILL stick!  Mix the 2 tbsp milk into the cream of mushroom soup, spread over the entire dish, making sure to get this all the way to the edges.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.  I always cook exactly one hour and it’s perfect.  Serve!

Vanilla Pudding Cake with Chocolate Pudding Sauce

Cake:

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Allow butter and eggs to sit 30 minutes at room temp.  Grease and lightly flour cake pans or muffin pans.  Suitable for:

9″ rounds (2)

8″ rounds (2)

8″ squares (2)

Cup cakes (18-24)

Mini Cakes (12)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, slowly add in sugar until completely blended.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well between each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

Alternately add in flour mixture and milk, blending well, until everything has been added and well blended.  Add in pudding mix and oil, blend well again.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake as follows:

8″ rounds, 9″ rounds, 8″ squares      25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Cup cakes 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Mini cakes 18-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Chocolate pudding sauce:

1 large pkg chocolate instant pudding mix

1 1/2 cups milk (or half whatever the package calls for in the directions!)

Mix together, blend very well, pour over cooled cake and serve!  (Sorry, don’t have a photo of this last part for you…)

So that’s it for tonight!  Hope you enjoy one or both of these recipes.  We sure did!

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 146

May 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’re all having a nice LONG weekend!  We’re certainly making the most of it…

Laundry is almost done, kitchen is almost completely clean, and we’ve been having a good time!  Went to the movies today, saw Men In Black III, and I have to say, I think it may have been the best of the three!  Good story, really good actors, some great twists, people actually clapped when it was over.

Grass hasn’t been cut, but Mike, William and I went for a walk together.  Weeds haven’t been pulled, but we all went to a comic book store together.  Haven’t vacuumed yet, but Mike and William have been playing video games together, having “guy time”, which they don’t do anywhere near often enough!  Sometimes, you just have to put off the work in order to do family things.

Anyway, dinner was relatively easy tonight, Mike cooked hot dogs and brats on the grill, and we had chips to go with that.  But then, after dinner, I made mini-cakes from scratch!  Here’s the recipe I used, and some photos:

Yellow Cake

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

Allow butter and eggs to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease and flour baking pans…

2 x 9″ or 8″ round pans

OR

2 x 8″ square pans

OR

1 x 9″x13″

OR

Muffin/cupcake pans (that’s what I used tonight, Texas muffin pan and Mini-bundt pan)

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in sugar, beating on medium, until well combined.  Scrape sides of bowl, beat two minutes more.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Spread batter into prepared pans.

Bake 20-25 minutes for 9″ pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes for 8″ pans.

Bake 25-30 minutes for 9″x13″ pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes for jumbo cupcakes (like I did!).

Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pans 10 minutes.  Except for 9″x13″ pan, remove from pans, cool on wire rack completely before frosting.  9″x13″ pan, cool completely in pan.

 

Dark Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

3/4 c butter, softened

6-7 cups powdered sugar, or more if you want stiffer frosting

1/3 c milk

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a very large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium until smooth.  Gradually add in 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in cocoa powder and remaining sugar, about a cup at a time.  You can beat in more sugar or more milk as needed, but in small amounts, until you reach the consistency you want.  The above was absolutely perfect in my opinion!

This frosts 2 8″ or 9″ rounds, tops and sides, or 12 oversized cupcakes, with some leftover.  Cut recipe in half for a 9″x13″ pan cake.

 

Both recipes originally came from the “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 15th Edition”.  Want to make sure I give them credit!!  I think I might learn to enjoy baking from scratch…  this was fun!  And I have to say, not as good as the Tres Leche cake recipe I got from Emeril, but not bad at all.  VERY rich though!  Think I need to work on some lighter frosting recipes for this bunch.  And I need to find a way to moisten up the cake batter, it was REALLY dry.  I’m thinking pudding and fruit maybe…

Anyway, that’s it for today!  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 105

April 16, 2012 at 12:41 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  I’m sorry to say, but I took another day off…

We spent the day with my folks, celebrating William’s birthday just a little early.  He got a cool new Lego set, which he built in less than half an hour of course, but he really enjoyed it!  And he still has a card to open on his actual birthday, with cash in it, and he’s saving to buy himself a TV, so I think he’ll be really happy with it!  And he usually gets cards with money from two other relatives, so maybe he’ll have enough by the end of the week!  I’m jealous!!!

Anyway, this is going to be a really short post, since I have nothing for you tonight…  unless, I give you the recipe for William’s favorite birthday cake!  I shared it with my mom, who actually made this for us all, and it was AWESOME!  Yeah, I’ll give you that!!

Emeril’s Tres Leche Cake

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002

Ingredients

Cake:
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream topping:
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

Icing:
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1 ripe mango, peeled, seed removed, and thinly sliced
1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeds removed, and thinly sliced

Directions

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running
and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter
does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high
speed.  Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the icing: Once the cake is completely chilled, in a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the
heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees F. Remove from the
heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. While beating, add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup
has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms.

To assemble: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the icing evenly across the top. Arrange the mango and
papaya slices over the top and serve.

I don’t have photos, sorry, but this cake is AMAZING!!  You’ve got to try it!

And until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 72

March 13, 2012 at 11:26 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  It’s been a really good day, and I’m so happy I can share it with you!!

Busy day, taking care of sick William, shuttling James back and forth to work, and finishing up my first entry for the FiremountainGems seed bead contest for this year.  It turned out really nice, and I’m very happy with it, but I’m also sure it won’t win because every year, it’s a beed embroidery project that wins, not a woven piece like mine, but at least I’m trying!  I keep thinking about trying bead embroidery, I even went so far as to glue the focal beads to a backing, but I’ve never started the bead work.  One of these days…

Anyway, here’s the finished project, entry number 1:

And now for the recipes!

Pork Roast with Potatoes

3-4 pound pork roast

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp curry powder

1 Tsp paprika

1 Tsp cayenne pepper

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 diced onion

1 Tsp ginger

1 fresh nectarine, cut into 1″ pieces

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp soy sauce

3 cans peach nectar

1 can mango nectar

1 can water (or enough to finish covering roast in pot)

Sauce:

1/2 cup cold water

2 Tbsp corn starch

Place potatoes and nectarine pieces in bottom of crock pot.  Place roast on top of potatoes.  Add in onions, spices, soy sauce and vinegar.  Pour in peach and mango nectars, and just enough water to cover roast, or fill crock pot just below rim.  Cook on LOW 7-8 hours.  Remove roast to serving try and allow to rest.  Remove potatoes and nectarines to serving bowl, cover to keep warm.  Set crock pot to HIGH.  Skim any leftover pieces of onions or remnants from the roast from the juices in the pot.  Mix 1/2 cup water with 2 Tbsp corn starch until smooth, and add to juices in crock pot, stirring well.  Cook about 10 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. (I actually don’t know how long that might take, as mine never did, and I gave up!)  Serve sauce like a gravy.  Slice roast on tray and serve with potatoes and sauce!

We also had a nice dessert, from a recipe I found in the paper last weekend.

Pear Tart

1 stick butter, room temp (softened)

2 Tbsp lemon juice, divided

2 medium pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ slices/wedges

1 cup flour, all purpose

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Butter or spray with cooking spray a 9″ spring form pan.  Sprinkle half the lemon juice over the pear slices and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, cream butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour mixture on low speed just until batter comes together.  Spread in bottom of pan.  Cover pan with plastic wrap (not touching batter) and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange pears in tight concentric circles on top of dough.  Sprinkle with remaining lemon juice.

Mix together 2 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over pears.  Bake for 45-55 minutes (mine needed the full 55) or until edges are golden brown and center is set.

Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes.  Remove spring sides, run a knife under the tart, and remove to a serving plate to cool.  Serve with or without ice cream, whipped cream, or other topping of your choice.  We had ours plain, and it was awesome!

Hope you enjoy these!!

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 32

February 3, 2012 at 12:55 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again, and welcome back!!

Tonight, I had help in the kitchen again, BOTH boys this time!  James made the scones, William cracked eggs, it was very cool!  They BOTH want to be chefs some day, and I REALLY have to encourage that!!  I just wish it wasn’t so darn expensive to go to culinary school!  James should be there now…

So, tonight we had breakfast for dinner, here are our recipes.

Oatmeal Scones

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup quick oats

2 Tbsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1 pound butter, cold, diced

1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, MAKE IT with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tsp lemon juice)

1/2 cup real maple syrup

4 eggs beaten

1 egg beat

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp milk (this is the egg wash)

Glaze

1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Blend in diced cold butter just until crumbly.

Combine buttermilk, syrup and 4 eggs, QUICKLY add to dry mixture, blend well.  Will be sticky.

Dump onto floured surface, flour hands and rolling pin, roll out dough to 3/4 – 1″ thick.  Cut into rounds using biscuit cutter.  Move rounds onto baking sheets covered with parchment.  Brush with egg wash.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from baking sheets to cooling racks, allow to cool at least 20 minutes, or until completely cool if time allows.  Coat with glaze and serve.

Very Meaty Breakfast Casserole

4-5 medium potatoes

1 pound sausage, style is up to you, I prefer regular, not spicy

1 pound bacon, cut into small strips

8 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheese

Cut 4-5 medium potatoes into very small pieces (we’re making home fries), fry in vegetable oil until crisp and golden brown.

Brown and drain sausage, set aside.  Cut bacon into small strips, crisp and drain, set aside.  Lightly beat eggs and milk in a medium bowl, set aside.

Place about half the cooked potatoes into a 13 x 9′ casserole dish.  Add sausage and bacon.  Add shredded cheese.  Pour over egg mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until eggs are done.  Serve with home fries on the side.

It’s almost all gone, so I know it was all good!

So friends, until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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