Friday, January 30, 2009

Stepgrandma's Cake

This is a wonderful recipe that I found over at Donna's blog called My Tasty Treasures. I could not go on enough about this great cake! All I can say is to try is fabulous. I made this last weekend for a potluck and it was a hit! It is also very impressive looking - with four layers - how could it not be. Plus the delicious chocolate frosting, coconut, sprinkles and nuts......If you want to see some nice step by step pictures for making this cake, just go to Donna's blog. Or you can get just the recipe below. Just one more thing --MAKE THIS will not disappoint!

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup water

3/4 cup coconut (be sure to toast - at 350F for 5 - 7 minutes)

1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used pecans since I had them)

Preheat over to 350F. Mix cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1 cup water in large bowl with mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add chocolate sprinkles, toasted (cooled) coconut and nuts. Grease 2 8" round cake pans (I used baking spray with flour). Divide batter evenly into pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes and then remove and place on cooling rack. I refrigerated these overnight (wrapped in plastic wrap) and found that made it easier to slice them in half. (Donna recommends putting in freezer for a while and I'm sure that is fine also.)

Frosting (this makes plenty with a little left over)

1 pint heavy cream

1 large box instant chocolate pudding mix

1 pint whole milk

Mix all the frosting ingredients and then beat on high until soft peaks form. I beat this until stiff peaks formed and that works also. This frosting has a great consistency. One of the best I have ever had!!!

Thanks Donna for a great cake! I will be making this a lot in the future!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Comforting Banana, Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

Here's another banana cookie recipe. Although many of the ingredients are the same as the previous post from last week's banana cookies, these have a completely different texture. They are very cake like. I found this recipe over at Food Blogga. Susan has some wonderful recipes and this is definitely one of them. I'm not a big fan of raisins so I substituted them with craisins. I love dried cranberries (also had a ton left from last week I needed to use up!) I also threw in some chocolate chips (so what else is new...). These really are worth making since they are different from the average cookie and really, really good!!!!

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup mashed bananas (very ripe, approximately 2 large bananas)

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted

1/2 cup dark raisins (I used dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar; beat in egg, vanilla and bananas. In a small bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add to banana mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in oats, pecans and raisins (dried cranberries). Drop 2 tbls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. These will spread. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicken Paprikash

This is a delicious Hungarian chicken dish. I was just in the mood one day last week to have some kind of different chicken dish. I find myself gravitating to basically the same type of chicken dishes over and over. This caught my eye since it was pretty simple and I had all the ingredients on hand, which always makes things easier. I find that I always tell myself I will "plan" next week's dinners ahead of time so I can be sure to have all the ingredients on hand but of course more likely than not it just doesn't work out that way! I have a habit of frantically searching the net or my cookbooks at the last minute for a new dish. I AM going to break this habit and be more organized and plan...we'll see. I'll let you know if that starts to happen! Anyhow, this recipe comes from a great website called A Year in the Kitchen. Ashlee has cooked and posted(get this) over 500 recipes the past year!!! I have NO CLUE how anyone can cook and post that much but I give her a lot of credit! This recipe is wonderful. I plan on trying many more recipes from her blog........I served this along with egg noodles. This is definintely a keeper because it is 1) tasty and 2) easy and 3) my son and husband both love it!!!!

3 lbs chicken cut into 8 pieces (I used 3 chicken breasts cut into chunks)

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp paprika

3/4 cup water

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp flour

1 green pepper, cut into rings (I used one pepper, chopped)

Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook until transparent. Place chicken pieces in dutch oven, cook, turning often until lightly browned all over. Sprinkle salt and paprika over chicken, add 1/2 cup water and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sour cream, flour and 1/4 cup water and mix well. Add peppers (I already added peppers when I added tomatoes.) Pour mixture over chicken and stir. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Place chicken in a deep serving dish, pour remaining sauce over.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekend Dog Blogging

Here's a post about my other "kids." My 3 dogs. I have 2 chihuahua's - one female with long hair and one male brindle. My other dog is a pitbull/hound(?) mix. I'll tell you a little about each over the next few weekends. This week we will start with Selena - my long haired female chihuahua.

Selena is 4 years old. We held her in the palm of our hand when she was about 2 weeks old. Or I should say that my husband did. I was too scared since she was so tiny. We finally brought her home right before Christmas of 2004 when she was 8 weeks. She was adorable as a puppy and as cute as ever still. She loves to ride in the car on my lap and look at all the adventure going on out in the world. God forbid, a man come near the car if we are parking or even if some poor guy crosses the street at a Stop sign in front of us. She will pitch a fit! To put it very mildly, she does not like adult men (maybe she is just a smart little girl!!!!) I don't know why this is. She absolutely hates my husbands best friend, who happens to be a dog lover and hates my dad (no dog has ever hated my dad....they love him!) She loves my husband, he is her favorite person. So who knows. She loves children whether they are girls or boys and loves women. She also loves to sit on my lap when I type on my computer. Selena is my little companion. I would be a miserable person if I did not have a dog in my life.....more next weekend on the "boys."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Banana Cookies

I think I may be on a banana kick here! My husband found this recipe at the local Giant grocery store and asked me to make them. Boy were they good. They did not last long at all. They are soft, tasty and bursting with flavor. I highly recommend giving them a try. (I did not use raisins in them but instead used craisins which worked out great!)

3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 cup mashed bananas (approx 2 bananas)

1 cup combinations of chocolate chips, raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat over to 375F. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Mix together flour, salt and cinnamon. Beat into batter mixture. Mix in oats, bananas, and chocolate chips and dried fruit and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. (I greased the cookie sheets are suggested but would try it next time without doing that) Bake 12-14 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet for 1 minute and then transfer to wire rack.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold Oven Pound Cake

Here is another "different" recipe. This is for a pound cake that you do not preheat the oven for. I read somewhere that when you make a pound cake without preheating the oven you will have a moist top, not hard at all. It may be somewhat true. This pound cake is very dense and heavy. It is moist but would be better with a hot cup of coffee used for dunking. Instead of using 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, if I make this again, I would use 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract. I found this on allrecipes. The reviews were all favorable but one of them did say that this is best as a base for a pound cake and to go from there regarding flavoring it with extracts. I also followed some of the suggestions and used only 2 1/2 cups sugar. The cake will fool you as it bakes. I didn't realize that it would not brown as a pound cake normally would and kept thinking that the cake was not done. Well after almost two hours in the oven I checked it and the top was pretty hard since I overbaked this baby! So make sure after 1 1/2 hours you check it with a toothpick regardless of the color. Also, many of the reviews on allrecipes did state that it reminded them of their grandmothers pound cakes. Whatever that may mean!!! (I also substituted all butter for the margarine and shortening.)

1 cup margarine

1/2 cup shortening

3 cups white sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup milk

3 cups all purpose flour

Butter and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Combine margarine, shortening and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Alternately add in flour and milk ending with flour until well incorporated. Place in cold oven and start baking at 300F for 1 1/2 hours. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cake is done place on rack for 10 minutes and then remove cake.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Best Ever Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a very interesting recipe for a banana cake and an excellent one. I found this at the Repressed Pastry Chef's food blog. The direct link to the recipe is on Recipezaar, where it received 5 stars and hundreds of excellent reviews. This cake has a trick to it. You bake it at 275F for one hour and then put it straight into the freezer for 45 minutes. Yes, you read this correctly. They say that putting it straight from the oven into the freezer is the secret of getting it very moist. It baked in my oven for 1 1/2 hours at 275F and I did freeze it for 45 minutes. I let it sit out then for about a half hour and frosted it. It is fabulous. I brought it into work and everyone raved about it and so did my husband. Give this a try if you like banana cake. It will NOT disappoint, plus it's fun to try recipes that are different. That is what attracted me to this cake and of course the hundreds of positive reviews. I've also found that banana cake, like banana bread is best eaten the next day........

1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed (very ripe)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 1/8 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used whole milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups icing sugar


chopped walnuts (I used chocolate sprinkles)

Preheat oven to 275F degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. In a small bowl mash bananas with the lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in the banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place directly in freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until smooth. Spread on cooled cake and top with walnuts (or sprinkles), if desired.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Another word for this dish is called "EASY." Maybe even beyond easy. I am posting this for any beginner cooks out there who happen to stumble upon this food blog. Or for those of you who need a break from cooking where anything more than adding things to a pot is more than you want to do right now. I do like to brown the meat first in some olive oil but you don't have to. Anyhow, here is the simplest dish you will ever make and it is also tasty too. This of course, comes from Campbell's Kitchens. In the original recipe you can add potatoes and carrots to your slow cooker also but I don't care for that. I like mashed potatoes with this and I like my carrots to have a slight crunch. They do come out very soft if you add them to the slow cooker. I also like to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red wine. It just gives it a little something extra.

1 can (10 3/4 oz) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup (regular, 98% fat free, 25% less Sodium or Healthy Request)

1 pouch (2 oz) dry onion soup & recipe mix

6 small red potatoes, halved (I omitted this)

6 medium carrots, cut into 2" pieces (I omitted this)

3 to 3 1/2 lb boneless beef bottom round roast or chuck pot roast

Stir soup, onion soup mix (and wine if you are using it) potatoes and carrots in 4 1/2 qt slow cooker. Add beef and turn to coat. Cover and cook on LOW 8 or 9 hours (or HIGH 4 to 5 hours) or until beef is fork tender.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cream Cheese Cookies

Here is another cookie that I made over the holidays. These were really good and so easy. I have made these at different times during the year since they are really simple and very good. I found this recipe at Kats Kitchen. I may not post again for several days since I will be down in the Richmond area again where we also have a home. I just had the kitchen and several other rooms painted and now I am searching for a new kitchen floor. I will be glad when all the improvements are done!!!!

1/4 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 package yellow cake mix

1 jar cherries (I used candied cherries that I cut in half)

Cream butter and cheese in a bowl. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add dry cake mix 1/3 at a time, mixing well in between. Gather dough in a ball and cover and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Form dough into 1 inch balls. (Dough can be sticky so I usually keep my hands wet while doing this and that solves the problem of it sticking to my hands.) Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until dough is slightly tan. Immediately place cherry in center. Cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


These are delicious German cookies that I made over the holidays. If you are still in a cookie baking mode you may want to give these a try. Just make sure they are eaten within a day or two (that's not difficult around here) since they don't keep well. The recipe comes from The Doubleday Cookbook.....makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

2/3 cup butter (no substitute), softened to room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used about 3 or a little more)

raspberry jam

vanilla sugar or sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift flour with salt and sugar; mix in nuts. Using your hands, work in butter until thoroughly blended. Mix vanilla and cream and add, a few drops at a time, mixing with a fork until mixture holds together. (Note: If kitchen is warm you may need to chill dough for about 1 hour.) Roll out, a small amount at a time, 1/8" inch thick and cut with a 2" scalloped round coookie cutter. Space cookies 2" apart and bake on ungreased baking sheets and bake about 12 minutes until golden brown. Cool on sheets 3-4 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. When cool, sandwich cookies together with jelly and dust with vanilla sugar or confectioners' sugar. (Being egg free, these cookies are good for those with egg allergies.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sour Cream Brownies

Even though I have eaten a ton of sweets over the holidays I only need a short break before I start baking them again. I just love cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, etc. I think you get the idea. When I was a teenager I could eat anything I wanted and NEVER gain an ounce. Now that I am middle aged (God, did I really just say that) I have to watch everything I eat. I don't think I realized how lucky I was. I was a walking string bean that could eat a box of devil dogs and not think twice about it. If anything, I had to eat a lot just to keep weight on me. Does that make you sick or what? Well those days are gone but the taste buds have stayed the same and so has the appetite. So here is a great recipe for brownies if you like ones that are cake-like. I was very surprised when I tasted them since I thought the sour cream would even make them more dense and moist but not so. They are moist but not dense. Maybe because the recipe calls for 2 eggs. I can't believe that I just typed that. There was a time when I would have absolutely no clue (or even speculate) as to why one recipe would make something moist and one would produce something more dry. I have really learned a lot since I started this blog last June and since reading all the food blogs that I do. But back to the brownies, they are very good as long as you expect them to have more of a cake texture. The frosting is pretty straight forward. Just a basic Hershey's cocoa frosting. Nothing difficult. Most of you probably have these ingredients right on hand, like I did. They are good and pretty simple. I found the recipe in a book called Favorite Brand Names - 100 Best Holiday Cookies. My husband found this on the discount rack at TJ Maxx (along with a few others).


1 cup water

1 cup butter

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) container dairy sour cream

2 eggs


4 cups sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

6 tablespoons milk

1 cup chopped nuts (I omitted this)

For brownies, preheat over to 350 F. Grease 15x10x1 inch baking pan (jellyroll pan); set aside. Combine water, butter and cocoa in medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat; set aside. Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat sour cream and eggs at medium speed of electric mixer. Gradually add hot cocoa mixture, beating well. Blend in flour mixture; beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownies spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

For frosting: Combine powdered sugar and cocoa in a large bowl; set aside. Beat butter in medium bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle nuts over frosting. (A coworker of mine told me instead of using milk when making the frosting, she uses coffee. I may try this. It sounds interesting).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Turkey Cheeseburgers (aka Make This NOW!!)

This recipe is fantastic! If you like turkey burgers (and even if you don't) you HAVE to try this recipe. I am not a big burger fan but something about the picture of this recipe in Family Circle just caught my eye and made me think yum - that looks good. I have to give it a try. I would also call this kid friendly since my youngest who is 9 (and his friend who was over) devoured them. That really surprised me because he is also not much of a burger lover. The recipe calls for using Arnold brand Multi-Grain Sandwich Thins. I checked these out while I was getting my ingredients for the burgers but they just looked too thin for me. So I served these on toasted whole wheat sandwich rolls with lettuce, which worked out great. The recipe also calls for broiling these burgers but I have never broiled turkey burgers before (I had visions of just burning these to a crisp under the broiler) so I fried these in canola oil instead. I don't know about broiling ground turkey. I just don't think it would cook well. I'd be afraid the middle would stay pink. (note: Had a hard time opening my mouth big enough to fit the burger in since now one side of my face is swollen from having my wisdom tooth extracted yesterday. Very cute. I was told the swelling will get worse by day 3 or 4 - just in time for going back to work!)

1 package (about 1 1/4 lbs) ground turkey

1 medium size zucchini, trimmed and grated (about 1 cup)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium high heat. In a large bowl, combine turkey, zucchini, cheese, salt, onion powder, basil and pepper. Mix well and form into four (I got five) flat patties, each about 4 inches. Place burgers in frying pan and cook about 6 minutes on each side till nicely browned. Lower heat and cook additional 10 - 15 minutes so that middle is completely cooked through. (The original recipe calls for broiling each side 6 minutes, but I always cook turkey and chicken longer to be certain it is cooked through.) Toast rolls, if desired and and stack rolls with burgers, lettuce and tomato. I used purple lettuce...that's what is in the above picture!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! Here is a picture of part of our New Years Day dinner. When I met my husband years ago he told me that it is a tradition - to eat pork, sauerkraut and black eye peas on New Years Day. I have never heard of this before and thought maybe it is a "southern thing." I still have no clue where this "tradition" came from? Any one out there ever hear of this or know where it orginiated? Needless to say, this is what we eat every New Year's Day for good luck. I don't know how much luck this brings since it is only January 2, and I have already been to the dentist this morning, or oral sugeon to be exact. Had a wisdom tooth extracted that I had capped years ago. Did I ever mention I have a fear or dentists? I can't even tell you what it is I fear.....just sitting in the chair does it for me! Anyhow, all went well and I am now minus a tooth. That is okay, because the way I look at it is that it's one less tooth that can EVER both me again!!!!! Have a great year everyone!