Monday, December 30, 2013

Crafty Chocolate-Coated Spoons

I enjoyed making and presenting these chocolate-coated spoons as gifts during the holidays.  They add that little bit of something special when stirred and melted into hot milk, cocoa or coffee.  My favorite way to use them is in hot milk. ...which is kinda funny; since I rarely drink milk, and I'm a real coffee fan.  It's not like having hot cocoa, but more like enjoying hot chocolate milk.  Oh, don't even think about trying to eat the chocolate off the spoons...I know it's tempting, but the chocolate is better melted into a hot drink.

These fun and easy chocolate spoons are especially good for last minute gifts, and they would make welcomed hostess gifts on New Year's!

                                                  Stirring Up A Little...
                                                    Chocolate Fun!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chunky Cranberry Applesauce In The Slow Cooker

My daughter wanted to serve a cranberry applesauce for Thanksgivukkah.  Since I normally bring the homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, I volunteered to add this to my contributions for this year's very special holiday.

When I discovered Dawdling Darlings' easy, chunky cranberry applesauce, I knew this was ideal for our celebration.  I made twice as much as the original recipe, so I altered the other ingredients as well and omitted the water.  To achieve a chunky applesauce, it was not pureed.

The festive red color of this sauce makes it an ideal condiment or side dish for your Christmas meals. 

                                                 Tart, Tangy and ....
                                                   Sophisticated!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Comforting Beef Casserole with Homestyle Egg Noodles and Colby-Jack Cheese

With the hustle and bustle of all the holidays, coupled with the cold weather, you want an easy, hearty warm dish to prepare for dinner.   You're kinda over the turkey (at least for the moment) and ready for a little beef...

Between all the holiday fare, you and your family will love this uncomplicated and comforting, cheesy beef casserole made with homestyle egg noodles! 

                                             Nice To Come Home To...
                       And So Easy...Give It To The Teenagers To Prepare!                                         

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pineapple Casserole with Triple Cheddar Cheese

If you want a little different side for Turkey Day this year that still seems "Thanksgivinish", this is such a super easy and super good dish!  More like a dessert, Southerners generally serve pineapple casserole as a side dish, much like a sweet potato casserole is served.  It also makes an awesome take-along dish!

I've tried other pineapple casseroles, but they were swimming in butter and the cheese didn't melt.  My recipe calls for half the butter typically used in a pineapple casserole.  I used finely shredded triple Cheddar cheese for a better melt and flavor variation than the plain shredded Cheddar that is generally used in this casserole.

I also experimented with using fresh pineapple; however, the canned pineapple just works better in this recipe.

This pineapple casserole is great warm or cold.  I've had it for breakfast...speaking of which, it would be fabulous for brunch!  And you know me...I also like it with whipped cream!

                                             Would You Like A Little...
                                          Whipped Cream with That?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Finger-Lickin' Good Oven-Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks!

Brought in by the recent rain, the cooler temperatures created a craving for a good oven barbecue.  I just drooled when I saw Bea's beautifully glazed drumsticks on her blog Küchenzaubereien, and I knew this enticing dish would satisfy my barbecue craving!

A real crowd-pleaser, you'll love how easy this delectable oven barbecue is.  These mouth-watering drumsticks make a terrific family dinner, take-along dish or snack...just be prepared that your diners will be grabbing them up before you can serve them!

                                                 Easy, Peasy....
                                               And Sticky Good!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Homemade Apple Butter In The Slow Cooker

The brisk, cool Fall days just seem to beckon apple butter for our more hearty breakfasts.  I love my apple butter, and I'm also very particular about it!  So, when I saw this easy slow cooker version from Jackie at the blog Syrup and Biscuits, I thought why not make my own!

Jackie suggested selecting your favorite apples and using more than one variety for the best flavor.  I used all Fuji and was very pleased with the results!  Most anyone who likes apple butter will love this amazing homemade recipe...store bought just does not compare to it!

She advised that the yield was 3 to 4 half pints, but I actually got 5 half pints! I guess there could be a number of variables on the yield...perhaps the variety of apples you use, how thin your peel or how thorough you core your apples, or how long you cook them?

I'll be sure to double the recipe the next time in my larger slow cooker, so I'll have plenty for friends, family and me!

                                                Autumn and Apples...
                                                And Apple Butter!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Carrot "Souffle" Casserole ~ Adapted From The Famed Piccadilly Southern Cafeteria!

This "souffle" has been floating around my recipes-to-be-made file for a while.  Shame on me, because all this time we've been missing out of this fantastic dish!  It's an excellent imitation of a very popular side dish from the famed Piccadilly Southern cafeteria.  I think it's actually a little lighter than the restaurant's version; and, naturally, I've done my "spin" on it.

Delightfully sweet, it's similar to a sweet potato "souffle"...making it a wonderful addition to your holiday meals.  We all love our leftovers on Thanksgiving, and this is a good one for sneaking a little cold from the fridge.  (Don't tell anyone, but I love it, warm or cold, with a nice dollop of whipped cream...you know me and my cream toppings!)

                               Have Your Dessert Before Your Entree?...
                                               Why Not with It!                                    

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Asian Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Crispy Wonton Strips

Looking for inspiration, I recently stopped by Publix's sample booth, where I was fortunate enough to catch a bite of this crunchy and refreshing side salad.  I was excited to make and share this with you, as it's an absolutely delicious accompaniment for most any meat or seafood entree.  As usual, I changed it up a little, making it even more simple for you to prepare.

You'll also enjoy this incredibly easy and healthy salad as a wonderful take-along dish.  Pack it up for your next tailgate:  simply prep the night before, toss in the lettuce and top with the crispy wonton strips right before you serve...then enjoy the party!

                                                 Crunch Away!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Chunky, Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies Loaded with Trail Mix

Don't you love it when you find a great way to use up a leftover or extra item from your pantry!   I did just that with the leftover trail mix from the brunch I hosted recently.  I thought it would be a good idea to replace the chocolate, cherries and almonds in my Chewy, Crunchy Oatmeal Cookie with the trail mix...was I ever right! 

These trail mix cookies are absolutely delicious...crunchy and loaded with a variety of wonderful ingredients, no two cookies are alike.  On the healthy side, they make a fantastic satisfying breakfast-on-the-run, or just a wonderful snack with your coffee...the kids will love them with milk!

                                                  Attenion All Dunkers...
                                                       Dunk Away!
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Overnight Peaches and Cream French Toast Casserole with Creamy and Crunchy Toppings ~ Plus An Easy Brunch Menu!

My son's new in-laws visited from out of state recently, for the first time since the wedding.  I entertained them at my home with a casual family brunch.  The highlight of the meal was the peaches and cream French toast, and everyone loved it!

I'm not a morning person...so this French toast casserole made the perfect entree, since it is prepared the night before and baked in the morning.  It was actually the only thing I cooked...I prepared an Easy Brunch Menu:  I just used a fancy trail mix and such for appetizers, cut up some fresh fruit and added bagels, along with flavored and plain cream cheeses from a good bakery.  Well, you get the idea...I had fun shopping!  For meat, I used a good sliced beef salami.  Oh, outside of coffee and orange juice, I offered bottled sparkling regular and pomegranate-blueberry lemonade...perfect for adults and children!  Dessert was brought by the new in-laws...an extra layer from the wedding cake!  I have to say, it was probably the best wedding cake I've ever had...an Italian cream cake with a true homemade taste (and beautifully decorated)!

Back to the overnight French toast casserole...since the recipe calls for canned peaches, you can serve it year-round.  It is an easy dish that makes a tantalizing presentation, so enjoy it during the holiday season!
                                                        
                                         So, What Are We Waiting For...
                                       I'm Starving...How About You?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bacon-Avocado-Tomato Crostinis

In my last post, I mentioned that I had one more recipe to share with you from our get-together this past Fourth.  Well, you'll love these super easy crostinis...they're wonderful as an appetizer for brunch, or on their own for breakfast, lunch, or just as a snack.  Although I use turkey bacon, use whatever bacon you like....these crostinis are also good with candied turkey or candied pork bacon. 

For your next tailgate or get-together (how about Labor Day!), just pack up your ingredients and assemble once you arrive.  Toast the bread before you leave, or at the event...at a tailgate, simply toast your bread on the grill!

So very attractive and so very easy...

                                 Makes Me Hungry Just To Look At These...
                                   Better Toast Some More Bread!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Flavorful, Lean Pulled BBQ Beef Brisket In The Slow Cooker

No one wanted to bother with grilling on the Fourth this year...good thing, because it rained all day, just like it has all summer!  So I made this very flavorful and lean pulled barbecued brisket in the slow cooker.  Everyone loved it; and I can tell you if my son was pleased, I knew I had a hit! 

Enjoy it on Labor Day; and if you want to keep things simple on party day, make this brisket a day ahead and warm in the slow cooker before you serve.  Of course, for a family dinner, you can cook it in the slow cooker in the a.m. and finish that night. Since it makes a great take-along dish, file this one for tailgates also!

I've already posted the wonderful Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese I made for the Fourth, and I have one more recipe coming up that I contributed to the get-together that day.  All the dishes I made were easy, allowing me to be able to enjoy the party!

                                     I Think I Can Fit That In My Mouth!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy, Light and Refreshing Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese

You'll love this easy, light and refreshing watermelon salad for your lazy summer meals.  It also makes a great take-along for those summertime cookouts and get-togethers...we enjoyed it on the Fourth, and don't forget...Labor Day isn't far away!

This salad is fabulous with crumbled goat or feta cheese...I like it best with goat cheese.  Layering the ingredients, rather than tossing them, preserves the color and texture.  Reserve the dressing until right before you serve the salad; because, otherwise, you'll be draining the dressing along with any accumulated watermelon juice.

                                               Cold and Refreshing...
                                            And Pretty Guilt-Free!                               

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cinnamon and Sugar Teddy Bear Muffins with Strawberry Butter

We enjoyed these adorable muffins at a baby shower my daughter hosted recently.  They were wonderful with the strawberry butter my daughter made, but they would be great with most any of my Very Berry Butters.  When I first saw a friend make the teddy bear muffins years ago, I just had to have the pan. The John Wright Classic Gourmet Cast-Iron Teddypan is now considered vintage; but you can find various internet sources for it, and you could use this recipe in most any cast-iron muffin pan.

I feel I've simplified the process and eliminated all of the kinks in working with this intricate pan for you.  A denser muffin is an ideal candidate for this pan; and after trying several recipes, I decided this simple, eggless muffin worked best.  I did enhance it with cinnamon and sugar; but you can make it totally plain, if you prefer.

                                                   So Whimsical...
                                                        Oh My!

As adapted from the vintage Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 8, page 1193, recipe for Eggless Muffins

Makes approx. 12-14 muffins

Ingredients

The Muffins
  • For greasing the pan...approx. 3 TB margarine or shortening per pan
  • 2 c. sifted plain, all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. cold water
  • For sprinkling on the muffins...1/2 c. granulated sugar & 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

The Strawberry Butter (or...raspberries, blueberries or blackberries)

                                            Just Waiting To Be Filled!


                                              Playful Little Teddies ...
                                                For Girls or Boys!                                           

Directions

(Before initially using cast-iron pans, they should be pre-seasoned according to the manufacturer's directions.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  2. For each pan of muffins you are baking, cover and melt 3 TB margarine or shortening in a microwavable dish for about 15 seconds on high.  Brush the pan(s) with the melted grease, thoroughly coating every detail in each cup.  Initially, heat the greased pan(s) in the oven for about 10 minutes before filling with the batter.  Thereafter, preheat the greased pan(s) for about 5 minutes before each time you fill with the remaining batter. The grease will pool within the muffin cups...do not drain!  Handle the cast-iron pans carefully, as they will be very hot!  (While the pan(s) are preheating, begin the next step of the recipe.)
  3. With a fork, thoroughly mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl or container.  (You will probably have extra...just enjoy it in another recipe or on your toast.)  Set aside.
  4. Sift the pre-sifted flour, baking powder, salt and 1 TB granulated sugar together.
  5. Mix in the cold water just enough to dampen the flour.
  6. Fill each muffin about 2/3 full with the batter, spreading any batter with a toothpick as necessary into the ears of the bears.  Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of each filled muffin cup, and set aside the leftover sugar mixture to use on the front of the bears after they bake.
  7. Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from a couple of muffins.  Transfer the pan(s) from the oven to the top of the stove.  Using a toothpick, carefully lift the muffins from the pan(s) one by one and place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch crumbs.
  8. If you have any excess residue from the pan(s) on the muffins, holding over the sink, carefully brush away with a mushroom brush or a very soft, new toothbrush.  You don't want to brush too much away, or you may lose some of the detail.  If you have excess cooked batter around the edges, you can carefully trim with clean, sharp scissors after the muffins have cooled a little...but consider first if it's that much excess batter, as you could risk disturbing the outline of the bears.
  9. To capture the detail well, sprinkle the top of each teddy bear with about 1/2 tsp. of the remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture and tap off any excess.
  10. Serve warm with a bowl of the strawberry butter on the side. 

                                            We Have Character!
              

                                    Oh, Just Please Turn Me Over and...
                                   Slather Me with Strawberry Butter!


Delight your family or guests with these cute little teddy bear muffins with strawberry butter and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater Cupcakes with Favors For A Car-Themed Birthday Party!

I just recently returned from my son's out-of-state wedding; and even though I'm still aswoon from their unique and unbelievable event, I'm trying to catch up on everything.  Therefore, I'm sharing some creative treats, which I've been holding in reserve, from the car-themed birthday party my daughter threw not long ago for my grandson's fourth birthday.

I thought you would enjoy my daughter's clever creations, which were inspired by the internet, especially if you have a car-loving child (like my grandson) with an up-coming birthday.
                                
                                                     Watch Out....

                                         Here Comes Lightning McQueen!


                                                     And His Buddy...

                                                     Tow Mater!
                                                   
Ingredients

The Cupcakes (approx. 24 cupcakes)

The Frosting (approx. 1 recipe will frost 24 cupcakes)

The Decorations
  • Bite-size cookies and candies per the photos.

Directions
  1. Fill lined, standard-size cupcake pans approximately 2/3 full and bake at 350º for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a couple of cupcakes comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched with the finger.  Cool completely.
  2. Frost and decorate the cupcakes per the photos.  See this reference for decorating; however, it would be easier to use rectangular, bite-size candy for the windshields (like pieces from the Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme Candy bar) and glue, with frosting, mini-chocolate chips for the eyes, or just pipe on the eyes.
                                                  Teaming Up....

                                               For The Big Race!

The Favors
  • The favor bags my daughter created included pretzel sticks, which she made to look like stop signs.  The pretzels were dipped in chocolate and decorated with bite-size candies. 
  • The favors also included mini-chocolate donuts, which she made for spare tires, and chocolate-dipped potato chips, which she made for flat tires!  
  • Everything was individually packaged in cello bags inside the favor bags, which were decorated with car stickers.

                                             Everyone's A Winner...
                                       
                                                With These Prizes!
                         


My grandson clearly shows his excitement to see Buzz Light Year at his birthday party, which was held at an indoor play center.  

                               Needless to say, the party was a big hit!

Have fun making these cupcakes and favors and enjoy the thrilled expressions of the little race fans when they feast their eyes on them!

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Large Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese

Whether for company or family, if you're looking for an easy entree to whip up after a busy day, you'll really enjoy this recipe!

With the addition of fresh goat cheese, this twist on traditional beef stroganoff makes a simple, yet delicious light entree or a hearty side dish.
                             
                                                   No Beef Here!


Adapted from Alton Brown's Recipe for Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese as seen on the Food Network

Serves approx. 6-8

Ingredients
  • 12 oz. wide or extra wide egg noodles
  • 6/ea. (approx. 12-14 oz.) large portobello mushrooms
  • approx. 6 TB salted butter (use 1 TB for each mushroom)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • approx. 4 large or 6 small green onions, thinly sliced (separate the white bottoms & green tops--you should have about 1/4 c. ea.)
  • 1 TB all-purpose flour
  • 14 oz. beef broth
  • 8 oz. sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

Directions
  1. Cook the noodles per the package directions until al dente and drain.
  2. Clean the mushrooms with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel.  Remove the stems and slice into about 1/2" slices.
  3. Melt the butter in a 12" saute pan, ideally with straight sides, over medium-high heat.
  4. Increase the heat to high and add the mushrooms.  Sprinkle with the salt.  Saute the mushrooms until they darken in color, soften and give off their liquid, about 5-6 minutes.  (Start with the mushrooms on their sides and cook in batches if necessary.)
  5. Add the white bottoms of the green onions and saute about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and remove the pan from the burner for a moment.
  6. Sprinkle with the flour and mix to combine.  Cook until the flour disappears and the fond on the bottom of the pan turns dark brown, about 1 minute.
  7. Deglaze with the beef broth and bring to a simmer.  Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Blend in the sour cream.  Break up the goat cheese and stir in with the black pepper.  Partially cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until warm, about 2-4 minutes.
  9. Stir in the drained noodles.
  10. Garnish with the green onion tops and additional black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy with a crusty bread and a nice salad.

Printable Recipe

Here's a little photo taken of the grandchildren on Mother's Day...hope yours was wonderful!

       Big brother is a little indifferent to baby sister when it comes to technology!



Monday, May 6, 2013

Strawberry-Rhubarb Trifle with Rich Vanilla Custard

So I made another trifle for my son's birthday this year...but, who doesn't love trifle!  This trifle is like a culmination of my most recent recipe posts...I'm practical that way; but I needed to be...we celebrate a lot of birthdays between January and March!

This trifle would make a fabulous Mother's Day dessert!  As promised in it's stunning presentation, this colorful trifle delivers an abundance of flavor.  The marbled chocolate and vanilla cake, moistened with the sweet grenadine syrup, provides a beloved base for the tangy-sweet, strawberry-rhubarb fruit filling, which is mellowed by the rich vanilla custard.  Billowy clouds of fluffy whipped cream crown all the glorious layers of goodness.

                                              All Right, Already...
                                           Let's Just Dig Into It!

Ingredients

My Marbled Chocolate and Vanilla Pound Cake (published 4/21/13)*

The Soak for the Cake
1/4 c. plus 2-3 TB grenadine syrup

The Fruit Filling
22 oz. (l lb - 6 oz.) jar--yields about 2 1/3 c. Strawberry-Rhubarb Fruit Filling (I used the Private Selection brand that Kroger distributes within the Kroger family of stores.)*

My Vanilla Custard--makes approx. 4-5 c. (published 4/10/13 in my pie shots post)*

The Whipped Cream
2 c. (1 pint) whipping cream
3 TB powdered sugar

The Garnish
1 large strawberry, fanned

*Tips
  • This recipe works well in a 3 qt. (12 c.) trifle bowl.
  • You could substitute the marbled pound cake with a chocolate pound cake like my Chocolate Pound Cake included in my post for chocolate cupcakes 8/10/12...or a vanilla pound cake like either my Tall Buttery Pound Cake posted 5/13/12 or my Very Happy Birthday Pound Cake posted 3/27/11.  However, I prefer the marbled pound cake or the chocolate pound cake for this trifle.  Since the cake needs to be completely cool, let it sit at least overnight after baking.
  • You could substitute the strawberry-rhubarb fruit filling with a strawberry or raspberry all-fruit spread, but I have to tell you the strawberry-rhubarb fruit filling was mighty good, if you can access it!
  • Be sure to cool the custard overnight in refrigerator, so it will be completely cold and firm.

Directions
  1. Cut about 2/3 of the cake into approx. 1 1/2-2" chunks.
  2. In 1 layer, place the cake chunks into a rectangular glass baking dish or plastic container and drizzle with the grenadine syrup.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and set the cake aside to absorb all the syrup for at least 1 hour.
  3. Layer about 1/2 of the pre-soaked cake chunks over the bottom of the trifle bowl.
  4. Cover the cake chunks with 1 c. of the fruit filling.
  5. Spread about 1/2 of the vanilla custard over the fruit filling, within about 1" of the edges of the bowl.
  6. Repeat the layers using the remainder of the cake, fruit filling and custard.
  7. Refrigerate overnight and keep refrigerated until ready to top with the whipped cream and serve the trifle.
  8. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form and the mixture holds its shape.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. Top the trifle with the whipped cream right before you serve:  You can pipe the whipped cream on the trifle with a large star pastry tip, as photoed above, or just dollop on with a spoon or spatula.  Garnish with the fanned strawberry.

Enjoy all the oohs and aahs as you present your magnificent creation!

Printable Recipe
 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marbled Chocolate and Vanilla Pound Cake with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Glaze

A swirl of chocolate marries delightfully with vanilla, offering the best of both worlds in this timeless marbled pound cake.  After a couple of attempts in my baking history to make a pound cake with a nice marbled effect, I finally achieved success!  I simply created my own marbled pound cake from my Very Happy Birthday Pound Cake recipe, combined a couple of techniques for marbling, and I couldn't be more pleased!

We recently celebrated a hallmark birthday of my daughter's mother-in-law with this marvelous pound cake, and she says it's now her favorite cake!  This is definitely one to keep around to enjoy with your coffee!

                                               Chocolate and Vanilla...
                                              An Enduring Classic!

Approximately 12 large servings

The Cake

Ingredients

  • Non-stick baking spray with flour
  • 3 c. plain, all-purpose, pre-sifted flour (I use White Lily)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace spice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) room-temperature, salted butter
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 5 large room-temperature eggs
  • 1 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. sifted cocoa

Directions

1.  Grease a 10" tube pan:  If you use a tube pan that has a removable tube insert:  Cut a circle of wax paper about one inch wider than the insert and cut out a hole for the tube.  Place the wax paper over the tube inside the pan and press the paper to the bottom and sides of the pan (the edges will be fluted).  Spray the non-stick baking spray over the wax paper and the entire inside surface of the pan, including the tube.  Press, again, the paper to the bottom and sides of the pan.  Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below the one you will bake the cake on, just in case the tube pan leaks a little grease.
                                                                                                                                                 

        

Wax paper in pan before greased/floured.             



                                                                                        


                     

                   
Wax paper in pan after greased/floured. 





                                                                                 


 2.   Sift together the flour, baking powder, mace and salt. Set aside.
 3.   Cream the butter and sugar well, or until light and fluffy.  Scrape the bowl.
 4.   Preheat the oven to 325º.
 5.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape the bowl again.
 6.  Stir the vanilla into the evaporated milk and add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk & vanilla mixture.  Scrape the bowl and give the batter one last quick little mix.
 7.   Remove 2 c. of the batter and blend the cocoa into it.
 8.   Spoon and spread evenly 1/2 of the light batter into the prepared pan.
 9.   Cover the light batter evenly around the middle, within about 1" of the edges, with 1/3 of the chocolate batter.
10.  Spoon and carefully spread evenly the remaining light batter over the chocolate batter, taking care not to disturb the chocolate batter.
11.  Spoon and carefully spread evenly the remaining chocolate batter around the middle of the light batter, within about 1" of the edges.
12.  Using a metal frosting spatula (or flat, thin-bladed knife) swirl gently through the layers of the batter to marble, leaving definite areas of light and dark.  Don't take the spatula all the way to the bottom of the pan or swirl too vigorously, since you'll lose the marble effect.
13.  Bake for l hr. and approx. 35 minutes (check after 1 hr. and 25 minutes), or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed with your finger.
14.  Cover the cake with a clean dish towel and cool on a rack away from drafts overnight.
15.  Invert the cake onto a serving platter, release from the pan and carefully remove the wax paper, if used.  Drizzle with the chocolate glaze.                                                                                                                  

                                                Why Not Enjoy The...
                                              Best Of Both Worlds!

The Glaze

Ingredients
  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 TB salted butter
  • 1 TB light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup over low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is almost melted.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk until all the chocolate is melted, then whisk in the vanilla until well blended.  Cool slightly.

                                             Lovely To Gaze Upon...
                                              Better Yet To Taste!


I know you want some now...brew some good coffee, serve with a premium vanilla ice cream and enjoy the compliments!

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Unorthodox Black Bottom Pie Shots

My son-in-law loves pie, especially creamy ones...as he said, "the creamier, the better!"  Therefore, my daughter threw him a brilliant pie party; and not one person brought a fruit pie...they were all creamy pies! 

I've been dying to give shot desserts a "shot", so the pie party was the perfect opportunity!  With the birthday boy in mind, I developed these vanilla and chocolate custard pie shots.  The effort is broken up, since the recipe is made in portions over a couple of days.  The custards require a little attention; but the homemade taste is well worth the effort, and I enjoyed the project!

The pie shots were a big hit; and it was a fun, wholesome party, kids and all!

So, here again, I share more than one recipe in one post....

                                          They're Pie In Shot Glasses!

                                               

Makes approx. 55-60 completed shots (using 1.65 oz. plastic shot glasses*)

The Chocolate Custard  (*For 1/2 recipe...see my Big, Fat Soft Pretzels w/Rich Chocolate Custard)

Ingredients
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. plus 3 TB cornstarch
  • 10 large egg yolks, room temperature*
  • 3 c. half and half (milk and cream)
  • 12 oz. premium semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 TB salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Hand whisk the sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-duty electric mixer bowl.  Using the mixer beater attachment, beat the egg yolks into the sugar mixture.
  2. Bring the half and half to a simmer over medium-low to medium heat in a 2 1/2 qt. saucepan*, hand whisking occasionally to prevent scorching.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Using the wire whisk attachment to your mixer, whisk on low speed, in a slow stream, the hot half and half into the egg yolk mixture. 
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and hand whisk over medium-low heat until hot. Add the chocolate and butter and continue hand whisking constantly until smooth and thickened, about 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Transfer the custard to a 1 1/2 qt. (ideally glass) bowl and whisk in the vanilla.  Cool, stirring occasionally.  Gently press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard.  Cover the entire bowl with additional plastic wrap and refrigerate the custard overnight, so it will be cold and firm.
                                              They're Shots of Pie!
                                                                   
In case you're wondering about the lovely pie in the fluted white pie dish behind the pie shots, it's a bananas foster white chocolate-peanut butter mousse pie that my daughter made; and it was extremely popular with the group!


The Vanilla Custard (Recipe may be halved.)  Adapted from a recipe for Vanilla Cream Pie as found in the retro Better Homes & Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking, Vol. 14.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. (1 qt.) whole milk
  • 6 large room temperature egg yolks, slightly beaten*
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In a 2 1/2 qt. saucepan*, sift together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Gradually whisk in the milk and mix well.
  3. Over medium low heat, whisk constantly (to avoid scorching) until thick and bubbly. (Be patient, this will take a while...don't leave the stove...catch up on a TV show while you whisk!)
  4. Cook and whisk 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat.
  5. Whisk about 1/4 c. of the hot mixture into the slightly beaten egg yolks.
  6. Immediately return to the heat and whisk constantly until thick and bubbly again. (Patience!)
  7. Cook and whisk an additional 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  8. Whisk in the butter, then the vanilla.
  9. Transfer to a 1 1/2 qt. (ideally glass) bowl and cool, stirring occasionally.  Gently press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard.  Cover the entire bowl with additional plastic wrap and refrigerate the custard overnight, so it will be cold and firm.
The Cookie Crumb Layer
  • Just deposit one Nabisco Oreo pie crust* into a gal. size food storage bag and crush (not too fine) with a rolling pin, pestle or the side of a mallet. 
The Whipped Cream Topping (Recipe may be halved.)
  • In a chilled mixing bowl, whip 2 c. (1 pint) whipping cream and 3 TB powdered sugar until stiff peaks form and the mixture holds its shape.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
                                                They're Pie Shots!                        

                                                 Have A Shot!

The Assembly

To neatly fill the shot glasses:  For each custard, either use a large pastry bag and large round tip, or cut a very small snip off one corner of a qt. size food storage bag.

For each shot glass
  1. Fill about 1/3 full with the chocolate custard. (In order to not leave streaks on the inside of the glasses, it helped me to hold the cup at eye level and go straight down with the bag.)
  2. Sprinkle about a scant 1/2 tsp. of the crushed pie shell over the chocolate custard.
  3. Fill with the vanilla custard to about 5/8" from the top of the shot glass.
  4. Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, fill the remainder of the shot glass with a swirl of whipped cream.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Keeps well in the refrigerator for about one week.
*Tips
  • I used 1.65 fl. oz. (50ml) plastic shot glasses by Premier Style, available in 20/ea. pkgs., which I found at Publix grocery.  To give you an idea of what I bought, here's one source; however, Publix's price was very competitive.
  • I prefer a glass-ceramic (Corningware) saucepan to make these custards, especially the vanilla, in order to avoid grey streaks that could form in the custards when whisking in a metal pan.
  • Use the leftover egg whites for an angel food cake or freeze for later.
  • You will have some crushed pie crust left over...just use it on your ice cream, yogurt, etc.
  • You can crush chocolate wafers and use as an option, if you prefer...I simply found that the pie crust was more reasonably priced and just as tasty.
  • You may have a little chocolate or vanilla custard left over (chef's reward!), depending on how you fill the glasses.

                                   The Birthday Boy Is In Pie Heaven!


      

                   One Friend's (Male, Of Course!) Contribution...Beer Pie!           



                           
                                                Pie...Lots Of Pie!                   


                               

The pie shots make a real conversation item.  There was a lot of debate at the party:  "Are they really pie?" I insisted:  "Of course they are...they're pie in shot glasses...they're shots of pie...they're pie shots! (The crust is in the middle.)"


                   Oh, The Grandson Had To Smell Each And Every One...

                                    
                                               Of His Dad's Pies!

Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Upside-Down Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Glaze

A 70th birthday is a hallmark occasion that calls for a special cake...don't you agree?  Perusing through cookbooks for inspiration for my big brother's 70th recently, I ran across a recipe I had made years ago called Chocolate Chip Cake from Betty Crocker's Cookbook.  Although I loved the concept of this recipe, I was never 100% satisfied with the results.  With many adjustments, including method of preparation, along with quantity and placement of ingredients, I took the original recipe from a two-layer cake to a decadent four-layer cake.

With my version of a chocolate chip cake, the chips settle on the bottom of the layers, creating upside-down chocolate chip cake layers.  Stacking the layers, chocolate chips side up, with the butterscotch filling results in a rich, beautiful combination of chocolate and butterscotch between the layers

If you want a celebration dessert, this cake definitely delivers one tall, magnificent presentation with flavors sure to please!          
                                   
                                             What a Gorgeous Cake....


                                           When Do We Cut Into It?                       

Serves approx. 12

Ingredients
(You can make a two-layer cake from this recipe if you like:  adjust the ingredients for the layers and filling accordingly...leave the ingredients for the glaze and walnuts the same.)

The Cake
  • 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour (I use White Lily)
  • 2 TB baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. (or 2 sticks) room-temperature, salted butter
  • 2 c. packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room-temperature
  • 2 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c. (12 oz.) semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • Non-stick baking spray
The Filling (Makes approx. 3 c.)
  • 2  c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. lukewarm water
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
The Glaze
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 2 TB light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
The Garnish
  • 1/2 c. medium-chopped walnuts

                                   So, What Do You Call This Cake?



                                                  Fantastic!                                               

Directions

The Cake
  1. Spray 4 each identical 9"x1 1/2" (exactly measured) cake pans with the non-stick baking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the pre-sifted flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter with the brown and granulated sugars in a 5 qt. heavy-duty mixer* until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes with a KitchenAid on high speed).  Scrape the bowl.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Scrape the bowl again.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  6. On low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.  Scrape the bowl.
  7. Continuing on low speed, stir in the vanilla, then gently the chocolate chips, just until incorporated.
  8. Equally distribute the batter between the pans.  Place two filled pans on the middle rack of the oven and two on the rack immediately below, being careful that the pans do not touch each other and are at least 1 inch from the edges of the oven.  The pans on the middle rack and the pans on the rack below should crisscross each other in order to receive maximum heat distribution.
  9. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes, or until the layers spring back when lightly touched with the finger and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each comes out clean.  Cover with clean dish towels and cool the layers in the pans overnight on wire racks.
*Tip                                                                 
If you have one, use a guard for your mixer (ideally with a chute); because this recipe makes a lot of batter that can fly!

The Filling
  1. In a 2 qt. or medium saucepan, sift together the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk in the water and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and boils.  
  2. Reduce the heat to low, then boil and whisk for 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat, then whisk in the butter and vanilla. 
  3. If your filling needs to be more smooth, finish off the heat with an immersion blender (but with great caution, as the mixture will be very hot), until the desired consistency is achieved.  Set aside and cool.
The Glaze
  1. In a 1 qt. or small saucepan, heat the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup over low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is almost melted.  
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk until all the chocolate is melted, then whisk in the vanilla until well blended.  Cool slightly.

Assembling The Cake

1.  Releasing the layers:  The chocolate chips will have mostly settled onto the bottom of the layers, forming a chocolate chip coating...this is intentional.  To encourage release of the layers, gently run a knife around the edges of the pans, carefully lifting the cake as you go.  (These layers are very tender and need to be handled gently.)

To release the first cooled layer, cover it with wax paper; and, while holding a plate over the pan, invert the layer.  Shake the pan a little and gently pull it away to see if the cake releases easily (it should).  If the layer does not release easily, go around the pan and very carefully lift the layer a little section at a time with an offset spatula to further loosen.  Attempt to release the layer again; and if necessary, very carefully press any loose chips or cake back onto the layer with the back of a plastic spoon...the filling will cover the imperfection, and no one will ever know.  Leave the chocolate chips side up.

Use the above method to release each succeeding layer.  Stack the layers on a holding plate with wax paper in between the layers until ready to complete the cake.  

2.  Filling the layers:  Carefully lift a layer from the holding plate and center the layer, with the chocolate chips side up, onto a serving platter.  Spread about 3/4 c. of the filling over the entire surface of the layer.

Stack each succeeding layer with the chocolate chips side up...spreading about 3/4 c. of the filling over each of the second and third layers and the remainder of the filling over the top, fourth layer.

3.  Glazing the cake:  Being careful not to mix with the butterscotch filling, spread the slightly cooled chocolate glaze entirely over the top of the cake and let the glaze drizzle as it may over the edges.

4Garnish with the chopped walnuts.
 
Serve with or without a premium vanilla ice cream and enjoy the wow!


                                          Speaking of Birthdays...


                              My Grandson Recently Slid Into His 4th!


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