Thursday, April 21, 2011

AWESOME CARROT CAKE!

Carrot Pistachio Cake and Cupcakes
Ingredients
•3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
•1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
•1/2 cup(s) dark brown sugar
•1 tablespoon(s) baking soda
•2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
•1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
•1 1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
•1 teaspoon(s) freshly grated nutmeg
•1/2 teaspoon(s) allspice
•3 cup(s) grated carrots
•1 1/2 cup(s) chopped dried apricots
•1 1/2 cup(s) chopped pistachios
•4 large eggs
•1 1/2 cup(s) olive oil
•1/2 cup(s) milk
•2 tablespoon(s) pure vanilla extract
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Directions
1.Make the batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line an 8-cup muffin pan and set aside. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl. Toss the carrots, apricots, and nuts in the flour mixture and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Transfer 3 cups of batter to each cake pan and 1/4 cup batter to each cupcake liner.

2.Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean -- about 40 minutes for cakes and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cool cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Release cakes from pans and cool completely on the rack. If freezing, skip to Step 2. Frost with your favorite icing.

3.To freeze: Double-wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap or place each one in a large resealable plastic bag, removing excess air. Place cupcakes in a plastic container with an airtight lid and freeze for up to 2 months.

Carrot Pistachio Cake and Cupcakes - Good Housekeeping

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beignets...you gotta try these!


French Quarter Beignets - these puppies are incredible.  My first encounter with this wonderful food was in Texas at a place called Crescent City located in Houston.  I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.

Here is a little history about the beignet.  Beignets are the official doughnut of Louisanna (does California have an official doughnut???). 
Beignets are light, puffy pastries traditionally served in New Orleans. No visitor to the Crescent City can consider a trip complete without a stop at Café du Monde for beignets and café au lait. Like most Louisiana customs, beignets have an interesting history that began in France and traveled all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi.

Food historian Cathy Kaufman wrote that beignets might have come to France from Spain. For centuries, Spanish cooks have served deep-fried yeasted fritters known as "bunuelos." During Islamic rule in the Middle Ages, customs from the Andalusia region of Spain probably spread to Mediterranean France. At this time, deep-fried balls of airy choux paste, or "pets de nonne," were also called Spanish beignets.

Like most New Orleans traditions, beignets have been associated with Mardi Gras in France since the 16th century, and many recipes for beignets appear in French works around this time. Stradley writes that the Ursuline Nuns of France brought beignets to America when they settled in Louisiana in 1727. Café du Monde, however, attributes the Acadians, French settlers who were ousted from Canada by the British in 1755, with first bringing the pastry to Louisiana. According to the 1902 Picayune Creole Cook Book (published in New Orleans), French colonists brought the custom of serving sweet treats such as beignets from the old country to Louisiana.

Needless to say, these wonderful treats are worth the trouble of making.  Enjoy!


Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Ingredients
•1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1 envelope active dry yeast
•2 eggs, slightly beaten
•1 1/4 teaspoons salt
•1 cup evaporated milk
•7 cups bread flour
•1/4 cup shortening
•Nonstick spray
•Oil, for deep-frying
•3 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

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

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Cake Idea

Fourteen Layer Cake

I was going through my favorite cooking blogs and came upon this incredible looking cake from Bakerella.com.  This is a 14 LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE...wow!  I might attempt this for Easter :)


LOOK AT THAT!

Fourteen Layer Cake Side View

I want to eat it NOW!!!

Here is the recipe -  THANK YOU BAKERELLA.COM~~~~

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs , at room temperature
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pecan halves, for garnish

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1 box (1 lb) confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk
Directions for Chocolate Frosting -
Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer.
Add the cocoa and vanilla.
Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.


Directions for Cake and frosting for layers:
Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Flour the pans and tap out the excess.

To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.

Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Wash and prepare the pans. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled.

To make the icing, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable.

Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Place pecan halves around the top perimeter of the cake. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
Recommended technique: If you buy inexpensive aluminum foil cake pans at the grocery store (they can be saved for another time as well), you will be able to knock out layers in no time. And no washing between baking!..

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pumpkin Praline Cake

This is one of Caleb's favorite desserts...

Pumpkin Praline Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar, packed 
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
Whipped Topping:
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Garnish - pumpkin pie spice

Combine first three ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat until brown sugar dissolves; stir occasionally. 



 Divide equally between two greased 9" round cake pans (I sometimes use a 9x13 pan).  Sprinkle evenly with pecans; let mixture cool slightly. 

 
Sift together flour, baking powder, spice, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.  Blend sugar, oil, and eggs; alternately add pumpkin and reserved dry ingredients.  Spoon batter evenly over pecan mixture in cake pans. 
Place pans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until centers test clean.  Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes; invert and cool completely on wire rack.  Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form; stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  To assemble cake, place on layer on a serving plate, praline side up; spread with whipping topping.  Add second layer, praline side up and top with remaining whipped topping.  Garnish with pumpkin pie spice.  This is best served warm. 



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three Cookie Day

We made three types of cookies today - Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Adam's favorites!)  I doubled all three recipes and was able to share with my family :)


Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
2.Heat oven to 375ºF.
3.Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with fork dipped into sugar.
4.Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Directions
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
1.Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
2.Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins
Preparation
1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

2.Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pizza!

Here is an awesome pizza recipe...

White Pizza with Chicken & Ricotta Cream Sauce


• 1 package Betty Crocker pizza crust mix (I used an already made pizza dough from Fresh n Easy)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings
• 1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped into pieces
• 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
• 1 cup mozzarella cheese
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 2 tablespoon flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup milk
• 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare pizza crust as directed. Add garlic powder into mix if desired. With floured fingers, evenly press and shape dough onto a nonstick cookie sheet or a pizza pan.
3. In a microwave safe bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic and 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning and heat for 20 seconds. Drizzle olive oil mixture over the pizza crust.
4. Add the rest in the following order: mozzarella cheese, chopped chicken, chopped tomatoes, chopped spinach, parmesan cheese, the remaining 1 teaspoon dry seasonings.
5. Bake pizza 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
6. Drizzle the sauce (recipe below) over pizza.

Ricotta Cream Sauce
1. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and salt. Whisk and cook for 1 minute over medium heat.
2. Add milk all at once and continue cooking and stirring until thick.

3. Add ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese. Wisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

I was dying to make something with pumpkin and decided on this Cranberry Pumpkin Bread recipe I found in a Taste of Home magazine.  Very delicious and worth the trouble to make!!!

Ingredients

3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.

Spoon into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 slice) equals 197 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 27 mg cholesterol, 162 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread published in Taste of Home October/November 2006, p33

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Lasagna Ever

I love Italian food!  Here is a wonderful recipe for lasagna.  The great thing about making lasagna is you can make it ahead and the left overs (if there are any left) are always better than the first go around. 

Best Lasagna Recipe
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1.In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Drain grease from meat.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, pesto sauce and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4.To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

5.Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trenton's Cowboy Cookies

My nephew Trenton loves to bake cookies and here is one of his favorite cookie recipes.  I will post pictures later of him making these cookies :)
Trenton's  Cowboy Cookies
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups Quaker Oats
12 oz milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips


Mix first six ingredients until creamy.  Add flour, salt, and baking soda until blended.  Mix in oats and chips.  Drop onto un-greased cookie sheet by the tablespoon.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for one minute before transferring to a cooking rack.  These are awesome drizzled with white chocolate.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Enchilada Soup

Here is a very easy and quite tasty soup recipe.  Laura Berrier submitted it for our school cookbook...thanks Laura!

3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
2 small or 1 large can of cream of chicken soup
2 small or 1 large soup can of milk
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can whole-kernel corn
1 small can red enchilada sauce
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese

Combine all ingredients (except chips and cheese) in a crock pot.  Cook on low for several hours.  Soup will get spicier as it cooks longer.  Serve with tortilla chips and cheddar cheese.  You can also add cooked potato chunks to the soup.  I also like to garnish my soup with not only tons of cheese but also sour cream and cilantro.