Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everybody!!!!!!!!

Wishing you all a very safe and fun filled Halloween! I will be rummaging through my son's goodies and hope he gets lots of Almond Joys and Mounds! He does not like coconut but I do!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hershey's Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my oldest son's birthday (24 years old - I still cannot believe I have a son that old!!!!). It was simple and delicious! I love all things chocolate and this one is near the top of the list. The frosting was a bit too sweet but that was probably my fault. I had forgotten to add the vanilla (this is typical of me - it happens quite often!) so that could be the reason but it was still really good. You can find the recipe on the Hershey website or any number of Hershey cookbooks. This is probably one of their most popular cakes.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees and prepare two 9-inch round baking pans. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed with mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make frosting, stir melted butter into cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

This is the same recipe that has been on many food blogs since last week. It is the one from Dorie Greenspan's book - Baking, From My Home to Yours. I think I normally would have waited to post this since it has been posted by so many recently, but I am going to go ahead and post it now since it's the perfect time of year for this. The muffins came out great. Normally muffins are at their best when they are freshly baked and eaten fairly soon but these were better the next day, like a cake would be! I did omit the raw sunflower seeds that Dorie used for a topping and replaced this with a sugar glaze that I made using powdered sugar and milk. I just drizzled this on once the muffins cooled. My husband and coworkers loved them but they were not a hit with my son......he loves pumpkin pie but was not even interested in trying these. Oh well, I am making a pumpkin pie tonight so he will enjoy that!!!

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground allspice

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Topping: About 1/3 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds, for topping (I substituted a drizzle made from powdered sugar and milk)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth. One by one add the eggs, beating for a minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and mix the pumpkin and buttermilk. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. To avoid overmixing, you can stop the machine early and stir any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold and finish cooling on the rack. (If you are using the drizzle, allow muffins to cool.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake is a Mexican dessert that is totally delicious! It translates into 3 milks cake. I first had this in a buffet style restaurant and had no idea what kind of cake it was. When I asked what kind of cake this was the waitress explained it to me and I have been wanting to try making my own ever since. It is super easy to make and the only thing I would definitely recommend is to keep it refrigerated and always serve it cold. It tastes much better that way. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart. The only thing I did differently was not to scrape the skin of the cake after baking. I simply poked holes in it (reminded me of a jello poke cake). Anyhow that worked fine. I would also recommend using a tiny bit less of all the three milks. When I had this in the restaurant it was not quite as "wet" and I prefer it that way.

Unsalted butter, room temperature for baking dish

6 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1 (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavey cream

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold whites into yolks until almost combined. Gently fold in flour (do not overmix).

Spread batter in prepared dish. Bake until golden and pulling away from sides of dish, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a small knife, scrape skin from top of cake; discard. (I poked holes instead when cake had cooled.) Cool cake 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks; pour evenly over cake. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

To serve, prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar to soft peaks. Chill cake and cut into squares; serve topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Torte di Mele (Apple Cake)

This recipe comes from Susan over at It's an Italian apple cake that is wonderful. The only difference in my cake is that I substituted apple juice for the Calvados. I had been wanting to make this cake for a while and with all the apples I have had from my mountain weekend, this was the perfect time for it. I will definitely make this again. And again....and again!!!

4 eggs, separated
2lbs Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 apples)
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup Calvados** (I used apple juice)
1 cup sugar
12 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose four, sifted
2 Tbsp baking powder (this is correct)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon

To coat pan: 1 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp sugar (make sure to do enhances the flavor)

Preheat over to 400F. Place sliced apples in a medium bowl; add lemon juice and Calvados (juice) and toss well. In a medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. In another medium bowl, combine butter, sugar and egg yolks. Mix with a hand mixer until well combined. Add sifted flour, baking powder, spices and mix until well combined.. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, then fold in the apple slices.
Coat a 9-10 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Add 1 Tbsp of butter in small pieces to the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar. Pour the batter on top and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Then bake for 50-60 minutes at 325F or until a knife inserted comes out clean and the top is golden brown and puffed up.

**Calvados is an apple brandy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken Piccata

This is one of my favorite ways to make chicken. I just love lemon, capers and wine and this dish has all three! The recipe comes from the magazine Cuisine at Home. I saw a bunch at a yard sale and bought them for ten cents each! I had read another blog recently that stated they had never had a bad recipe from the magazine yet so I decided to subscribe to them. There are also NO advertisements in the magazine which I think is great. There's also lots of step by step pictures which always works better for me!!! Kind of fool proof! I served the chicken with rice on the side but I think pasta would also work well.

4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp unsalted butter
fresh lemon slices
chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dust with flour. Spray a saute pan with nonstick spray, add vegetable oil and heat over medium-high. Saute cutlets 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip the cutlets over and saute the other side for 1-2 minutes with the pan covered. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate; pour off fat from the pan. Deglaze pan with wine and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone, about 2 minutes. Add broth, lemon juice and capers. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate. Finish with butter and lemon slices. Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Pie

Well I have made 2 apple pies this week and one apple cake. The pies did not last long at all. One was devoured at home in about a day and the other at work in a few hours!!!! This is a basic apple pie. It is pretty simple to make (even for me with my "fear" of making a pie crust) and is really good. I don't care much for raisins and also left out the chopped walnuts the recipe calls for. I just like plain old apples in my pie!!! The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. It has lots of great recipes in it. I think I need to watch how many cook books I really need. I've bought a few new ones lately and find "reasons" why I need to have them. But all it takes is for me to see a really good recipe and picture and I am sold! I find lots of great books at thrift stores and yard sales. Found an old Home Economics Cookbook from 1963 that features only desserts. It has at least 500 (or more) dessert recipes and tons of variations for making chocolate cake, pound cake, carrot cake, etc. It was 90 cents! Now that is a buy! Do any of you buy older cookbooks? I find them really enjoyable to read and some of the old recipes are interesting! The first cookbooks I ever had were Doubleday Cookbooks, which is a two volume set from Doubleday Book Club. They were printed in 1975. I have used them hundreds of times and swear by them. Whenever I was confused as to what an ingredient was or a cooking term or anything that really pertained to cooking, I turned to these books and found my answer. I still have them and they are used, abused, dirty, have stains, folded pages and I love it!!! You know a cookbook is good if it is beaten up!!! Well here is the apple pie recipe......see what happens when I start talking cookbooks...I go on and on!!!!

1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie

6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples (I used Fuji's)

1 tbs lemon juice (optional)

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins or chopped walnuts (optional, I used neither)

Prepare and roll out pastry. Line a 9 inch pie plate with half of the pastry; set aside.

If desired, sprinkle apples with lemon juice. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples slices and, if desired, raisins or walnuts. Gently toss to coat.

Transfer apple mixture to pastry lined pie plate. Trim pastry to edge of pie plate. Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on filling and seal. Crimp edge as desired.

To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in 375F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Pastry for a Double Crust Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup shortening

6 or 7 tablespoons cold water

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time until all the dough is moistened. Divide in half. Form each half into ball.

On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten 1 ball of dough. Roll from the center to the edge into a 12 inch circle.

To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll into a 9 inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate being careful not to stretch pastry. Transfer filling to pastry lined pie plate. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate.

Roll remaining dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Place remaining pastry on filling; trim 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top of pastry under bottom pastry. Crimp edges as desired. Bake as directed in individual recipes.

Note: I chilled my dough in freezer for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taco Casserole

This is about the best taco casserole I have had to date. I made this last week and it was gone before I knew it. This is from Betty Crocker's Best of Baking. It's the first recipe I have tried from this book so I am looking forward to making many more good ones. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of using 2 teaspoons instead of 4 for the chile powder. My youngest son does not care for food too spicy. He did love this so I would definitely call it kid friendly!

1 pound ground beef

1 can (15 ounces) chili beans

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

2 tbs taco, picante sauce or salsa

2 to 4 tsp chile powder

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sliced green onions (about 5 medium)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (I used monterey jack and it was very good)

Shredded lettuce and taco sauce, if desired

Heat over to 350F. Cook beef in large skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons taco sauce, the chile powder and garlic powder. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

Place tortilla chips in ungreased 2 quart casserole. Top with beef mixture. Spread with sour cream. Sprinkle with onions, tomato and cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Arrange additional tortilla chips around edge of casserole if desired. Serve with lettuce and taco sauce.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mom's Best Banana Bread

It's another banana bread recipe so I guess you can tell that I have a weakness for banana bread. I cannot resist a good banana bread recipe...especially one that is different and turns out really good. This one is pretty basic but one of my favorite. It is moist and flavorful and the kind of recipe you can fool around with a bit and add your own touch to. This is one of those recipes that just always turns out good. It's from a cookbook that is called the Vale Centennial Cookbook 1888-1988.

I did get a ton of apples from my trip to the mountains this past weekend. I have just baked an apple pie that I will post soon. I am a reluctant pie maker. I have a "thing" about making the pie dough. Kind of like a phobia....I think I just need practice. I have only made a few pies in my life (I could count the number on one hand, so that should give you a clue). But if I keep practicing I'm sure things will get better. I used to just "give up" immediately if a cake or pie or whatever I was cooking did not turn out exactly like it looked in the cookbook. I'm serious, I'm not kidding. Many a dinner or dessert would be thrown into the trash in a fit of anger. When I think of that now, I just start to laugh. I think I FINALLY learned at the ripe old age of 51 that it takes practice....lots of practice and trial and error and then things turn out looking and tasting pretty good. Anyhow, back to the apples.....I will be looking for apple recipes so you should be seeing plenty of cakes and pies and so forth using apples!!!!

1/2 cup butter or margarine (I use butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sour milk*

1 cup bananas (3 medium)

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind (I do not use this)

3/4 cup nuts

Sift all dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar and then add eggs. Mix in sifted dry ingredients alternately with the mashed bananas and sour milk. Add nuts. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

(*two teaspoons lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk to sour, or you can use two teaspoons of vinegar instead of lemon juice.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bill's Ricotta Hotcakes

These ricotta pancakes are to die for!!!! They are wonderful. Maybe I feel this way because I have never had ricotta pancakes before, but I cannot wait to make them again. I was told that they are also very good with some lemon zest. I made a few minor changes which I will put in parenthesis in the recipe but other than that I followed Bill's recipe pretty closely. You can find it at or here. I found these to be very light. They are great with a little powdered sugar and some syrup.

I am leaving for the mountains for a few days to attend an apple festival! Be prepared for many apples recipes within the next few weeks!!!

1 1/3 c ricotta (I used one cup)

3/4 cup milk

4 eggs, separated (I used 3 eggs)

1 c AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of cinnamon (optional)

a pinch of salt

butter for pan or griddle

Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl and combine

Sift flour, baking powder and salt (and cinnamon, if using) into a bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined

Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. With a large metal spoon, fold the meringue through batter in two batches

Heat a large non-stick frying pan, cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease with butter and drop two tablespoons of batter per hotcake. Don't cook more than three per batch. Cook over a low to medium heat for two minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. (These won't bubble like ordinary pancakes do so you need to be careful and check them.) Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through.

Transfer to a plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe definitely spells autumn. This is just delicious and very cake like. The frosting is not too sweet and is perfect with the cake bars. I'm not that big on cream cheese frosting but it is perfect for this. This recipe comes from I've had lots of success with them lately. Anyhow I am glad that these cake bars are gone because I found myself nibbling on them constantly (like morning, noon and night).....!!!

4 large eggs

1 2/3 cups white sugar

1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 ounces cream cheese

6 tbs butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat over to 350F degrees

Grease and flour one 9 x 13 inch glass pan (I used a nonstick one)

In a mixing bowl , beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly

Spread into the prepared pan

Bake at 350F degrees for 25 to 30 minutes

Remove from oven and allow to cool

For the frosting: beat together the cream cheese , butter and confectioners' sugar. Evenly spread over the bars after they have cooled

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Now this is a sauce that rocks!!! It is fantastic and so simple that I don't know why I never tried making it before. I've had vodka sauce in restaurants but just never thought of making my own. I found this recipe at and the only thing that I changed was adding 1 large minced garlic clove and I only used half an onion and also minced that. I used a can of crushed tomatoes versus the diced tomatoes the recipe calls for and also added 1 tsp of sugar to combat any acidity from the crushed tomatoes. My Italian grandmother always added a pinch of sugar to her sauce so I figure she must have known something because her sauce was always fantastic. I just wish I had some of her other recipes. When you are young you just don't think to ask these things and then when you are older and they are gone you wish you had....Anyhow, if you want a simple sauce to make that is delicious, I would definitely recommend this. It is also "kid approved" since my 9 year old son loved it!!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta
Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil, add onion and saute for several minutes until transparent. (I added my garlic at this point for about 1 or 2 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook for 25 minutes or until almost no liquid remains in skillet, stir frequently. I used crushed tomatoes and also cooked the same amount of time and it worked fine. Increase heat and add cream, vodka and red pepper flakes; boil for 2 minutes or until thickened to sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Bring sauce to a simmer and pour over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese; serve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jewish Apple Cake

There is a reason why this post has a picture of the cake still in the cake pan. I'm sure you all know why --- it came out one big mess!!!! I had found this recipe while checking out pictures on Tastespotting and it looked delicious. It was still in the pan in that picture, and also a mess. But it looked just soooo good that I had to make it. Pete over at stated he had taken the cake out too early and that is why it crumbled all over. Now I did exactly as he stated and let the cake cool in the pan completely and it literally sealed itself to the bottom. When I finally did get it out the entire top of the cake was still in the pan. But I am posting it because it is THAT good. I really think it will come out fine if you let it rest in the pan maybe 45 minutes or so. Or perhaps baking it in a 9 x 13" pan and just cutting out squares. I am trying it again. There are also similar ones at Allrecipes and none of them stated that there was any difficulty getting the cake out of the pan. It's the season for apples!

3 cups flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup orange juice

2 cups plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

3 tsp cinnamon

4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the butter, 2 cups sugar, vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg/butter mixture, alternating with the orange juice.

2. Pour about 1/3 of batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Lay down about 1/3 of the sliced apples, fanning them out to cover the entire layer of batter. Top with a bit of the mix of 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

3. Repeat this until you have run out of batter and apples. The top of the cake should have a layer of apples, cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Cool for a short time before loosening the sides with a knife. Allow to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan. (I would disagree since mine was cemented to it by that time).