Posts Tagged ‘Our Favorite Recipes’

Rainbow Cake in a Jar

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Rainbow Cake in a Jar

There are certain things that automatically bring a smile to your face…puppies and their sweet puppy breath…babies and their itty-bitty baby toes…and these colorful creations – the Rainbow Cake in a Jar. I discovered this creative cake concept on my new favorite site (and everyone else’s)…Pinterest. I must give credit, where credit is due – Thanks Brooke Mclay for posting this unique treat.

Not only are these jarred cakes adorable, they last longer than a typical cake.  Sealed and refrigerated, these cakes will stay moist and delicious for at least 5 days. The jar and metal lid are the perfect vessel for shipping.  The old school Mason jar makes for a great presentation, and allows for numerous ways to dress them up.  You can add a pretty ribbon, or a personal label or perhaps a piece of twine with a little card attached.  The possibilities are endless.

It is the perfect recipe for a child’s birthday…I tested it out for my sons 10th birthday…and he loved them. The best part of this project was the fact my son was super excited to help!

Here’s how you start…

First, gather all of your ingredients and supplies – this includes the jars you will use. My local grocer carried a variety of mason jars.  I chose the Ball wide mouth pint sized jars. Any sized jar will work, simply adjust amount of batter and cooking time.

I used 2 boxes of cake mix for these simply because I knew “cake mix” was a sure thing

Make the cake according to directions.

Divide the cake mix up and color.  I divided all the batter into 6 bowls.  I then used Wilton Gel food coloring to tint each bowl to the desired shade. Gel food coloring is a MUST for this project. You will not achieve the desired saturation needed to make the colors pop if using standard food coloring.  Once you have all your colors it’s time to assemble the jars for baking.

I used 2 cake mixes and 12 wide mouth pint sized jars.  Be sure to generously spray each jar with cooking spray. To keep your colors in the right place, use disposable pastry bags. You could even use Ziploc bags to easily distribute each color into the jar.  You want even, mess-free, layers.

Cake in a jar

Keep in mind – the cake will rise. Do not overfill the jars! This means filling no more than half the jar. Once you have all the colors layered into your jar, they are ready to go in the oven. I followed the temperature directions on the cake mix box.  Keep a close eye on them; you don’t want to over bake them. I would say anywhere between 30-40 minutes is the norm.  Be sure to space jars equally to allow even baking.  Once baking is complete, let cool completely.  Then you can top them with your favorite frosting and sprinkles….YUM!

We decorated ours with felt stickers and colorful ribbons.  They turned out really cute, and they tasted even better.  My son was so proud of what he helped create – as he should be.  Since discovering these rainbow cakes I have come across other cake in jar recipes…looks like I better get busy baking.  Let us know your versions of Cake in a Jar.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Topping

Friday, June 19th, 2009
Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Topping

Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Topping

Looking for a tasty, healtier alternative to mashed potatoes?  My mashed sweet potatoes are sweet, crunchy, creamy – just delicious.  They work well with most of your summer time staples…hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken – the list goes on and on. 

A tip to make this recipe even easier is to buy the pre-wrapped sweet potatoes that you microwave. There is no need to remove the wrapping, pierce or wash – just throw them in the microwave for about 5-10 minutes.  For this recipe I microwaved 4 at a time.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove them from the microwave and let them cool; you want them cool to the touch so you can remove the inside goodness from the skin.  Once they are cooled, slice them in half and spoon out the inside into a baking dish and mash them with a potato masher.

Mash the Sweet Potatoes With a Potato Masher

Mash the Sweet Potatoes With a Potato Masher

This recipe is not only simple, it is nutritious.  Sweet potatoes packed with vitamin A, they are also a great source of vitamin C, iron, calcium and fiber.  The recipe does, however, contain a good amount of sugar and fat in it.  But don’t worry – if you are cooking for someone on a special diet it is easy to adjust this recipe. I was cooking for my mother, so I adjusted a portion of the recipe to suit her diet; I used less of the topping (contains brown sugar and butter) on her portion.  Sweet potatoes are a good option for diabetics as they have the lowest glycemic index rating amongst all root vegetables.

If you wanted to adjust the sugar content even further to make a diabetic friendly version, I would suggest eliminating the brown sugar completely from the topping and replacing the maple syrup with sugar-free syrup.  Sweet Potatoes are naturally sweet so they don’t need much help.

I tried both the full fat, full sugar version and the trimmed version and I must say – they were both excellent.

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, I use the Pecan Pie glazed Pecans by Emerald Nuts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

The Rest:

  • 6 prewrapped microwavable sweet potatoes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1.) Mix the brown sugar, pecans and butter in small bowl. Set aside – preferably in the fridge to chill.

2.) Prepare a glass baking dish with butter. I simply put a bit of butter on a paper towel and wipe. You could even substitute canola oil as well.

3.) Cook your sweet potatoes in the microwave. Remember, you have to pierce sweet potatoes before putting them in the microwave unless you buy the pre-wrapped microwaveable sweet potatoes. Cook on high for about 8-10 minutes until tender to the touch. Let cool.

4.) Once your sweet potatoes are cool, place them in a dish and mash with a potato masher.

5.) Beat eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Mix in the mashed sweet potatoes.

6.) Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over mixture.

7.) Bake until sweet potato mixture is set and the pecan topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes and serve.

My Favorite Tomato Bruschetta

Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta

A tomato and basil bruschetta is a classic combination. It’s simple, it’s rustic – it’s delicious.  Bruschetta is a good starter to any meal.

The key to good bruschetta is a good quality baguette.  Even when you want to save time, please don’t be tempted to by the pre-cut, pre-made crostini – they are almost always stale.  Buy a baguette and slice and toast it at home. Ciabatta can also work for your bruschetta.  Here is my favorite variation – Tomato Bruschetta.

Ingredients:

  • Baguette or crusty long loaf bread, sliced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 set aside
  • Pint of tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped ( I used a variety pack for more color)
  • Good handful of fresh basil leaves (about 1/3 cup)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling  
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.) Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Brush a bit of olive oil on each slice. Toast in oven for about 3-5 minutes or until light golden brown. After the bread is removed from the oven, rub a sliced clove of garlic on the toasted side of each slice of bread. Set bread aside.

3.) Place the seeded and chopped tomatoes in a bowl, add the minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, a good drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Use a good quality, coarse salt – a kosher or even better, maldon sea salt. It does wonders for the tomatoes.

4.) Pile basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a log. Thinly slice basil into green confetti and loosely combine with the tomato mixture.

5.) Gently combine all of the ingredients. Place your toasts around the bowl of tomato topping. Place a spoon to scoop topping in bowl and serve.

The Best Guacamole…seriously

Saturday, June 6th, 2009
 
 
 
 
 

 

Our Favorite Guacamole

Our Favorite Guacamole

I’m nervous – confused – my palms are sweaty.  Ok, maybe my palms aren’t sweaty, but I am still asking myself  ”are you sure you want to do this?”

(time lapse 10 minutes ahead)

Alright fine – I will share (give up) one of my best recipes.  It’s not like I am the only person in the world that makes good guacamole.  It just so happens that I think mine is the best. 

What’s my secret?  Perhaps it’s the red onion, or the mayonnaise or maybe the salt?  People always say that red onion has a mild, sweet flavor – I think it has a strong flavor – which adds something special to this guacamole.   The salt you use is also very important.  I love experimenting with different salts in my guacamole – salt compliments avocados so well.  To add a bit of creaminess to the guacamole I use the mayonnaise.  Sounds odd, but works so well.

This recipe will serve two or three people who really love guacamole.  Adjust accordingly to how much you will need. 

guacamole-ingredients

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • ½ of a lime, juiced
  • 1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1/8 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cilantro, chopped
  • good pinch of your favorite salt – I like fleur de sel in this recipe.
  • dash of Tabasco

Directions:

1.) Prep your ingredients before cutting into your avocado. The avocado can go brown very quickly without the help of the lime.

2.) Once you are prepped – place the avocado, lime juice, tomato, red onion, mayonnaise, salt and Tabasco in a large bowl.

3.) Using the back of a fork, mash all of the ingredients together until you get the consistency that you prefer. Some people like smooth, others a bit chunky. Myself, I prefer a bit chunky.

4.) Finally, fold in the cilantro – trying not to bruise the leaves too much.|

5.) Place plastic wrap over the guacamole – so that is actually touching the surface of the guacamole and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. After the guacamole has sat for an hour – go ahead and eat!

Marshmallow Fondant & a 21st Birthday Cake

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
Autumn's 21st Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

Autumn's 21st Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

My friend violet called me with a quick birthday cake request over the Memorial Day weekend.  As I see it, I was already going to spend the weekend baking what was one more cake?  Her niece Autumn, was turning 21 and needed something girly to commemorate this special birthday.  Autumn wanted a marble cake with white buttercream…simple and to the point.

I dressed the ¼ sheet cake with pink, green and gray accents, and of course a cosmopolitan martini.  Up until recently I have been buying Wilton Fondant to decorate cakes with.  This time around I used a homemade marshmallow fondant and love it!  It’s quick and easy, plus has a much more palatable taste…give it a try!

Marshmallow Fondant

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 bag of white marshmallows (8 oz)
  • Water (2 tbsp)
  • Icing sugar sifted (1 to 2 pounds)
  • Crisco
  • Heatproof bowl
  • Spoon
  • Sifter
  • Food colors or cocoa powder
  • Flavoring optional

Directions:

1.) Heat marshmallows and water in microwave for 2 minutes.

2.) Remove and stir with Crisco greased spoon.

3.) Add desired color and or flavoring.

4.) Stir in sifted powdered sugar until it looks dough-like.

5.) Turn fondant out onto powder sugared work surface and knead until well mixed and not too sticky.

Note: Use this marshmallow fondant right away or rub with a bit of Crisco and store in air tight container.

Chocolate Cupcakes, Cream Cheese Frosting

Monday, May 25th, 2009
Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing

Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Some think Memorial Day Weekend is time to relax, I feel the opposite.  No rest for the Cake Lady!  Grandma Marion is turning 87!  Holy Moley!  My family and I spent our relaxing Sunday celebrating Grandma’s birthday and putting in my mother’s garden. 

I love Sunday’s at my parent’s house, they just feel good.  Growing up, my sister and I spent every Sunday at my mom’s parent’s house swimming with our cousins and then having a huge feast towards the end of the day.  Thinking about it brings a smile to my face. 

Another thing that brings a smile to my face is Grandma Marion.  Chocolate is the way to her heart so I baked her some extra large chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting…YUM!  Once again, Ina Garten provided me with a great recipe which I swear by – Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

The cake comes out just the right, great texture and the perfect amount of chocolate.  Cream Cheese Frosting, who doesn’t like that?  Simple and easy, plus it compliments the chocolate oh so well. These chocolate cupcakes are sure to be crowd pleasers.

More Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

More Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese (not whipped)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 8oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

 1.) Make sure cream cheese and butter are room temperature. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla, blend. 

2.) Slowly add powdered sugar and blend until smooth.  Quick note; this is not a stiff frosting and does not pipe well.  I use this frosting for cupcakes and simple cakes…Tastes great!

Good Enough to Eat…Dog Treats

Monday, May 4th, 2009
Daisy's Favorite Homemade Dog Treats

Daisy's Favorite Homemade Dog Treats

The pet industry is big business.  New products are introduced to the market every year.  Recently I have noticed a growing trend in “Organic” or “Natural” pet foods and treats.  Let me also add these products cost a pretty penny.  I guess the saying goes you get what you pay for. 

Take a moment and read the label on your pets current food or treats, many words I’m not even sure I can pronounce.  I want to know what I’m putting in my body…shouldn’t I know what goes into my pets body?  I started researching homemade dog biscuit recipes and meshed a few ideas together, and this is what I came up with… 

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French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

Friday, May 1st, 2009

French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

You’ve heard the expression, “everything is better with bacon” – well, who knew that this included cupcakes.  Frankly, I don’t believe I have ever met a person who can resist the magical powers of bacon.  The scent, the flavor, just thinking about bacon makes my mouth water.  It’s funny how bacon plays well with so many other flavors and types of foods. Bacon can instantly take the everyday sandwich or salad to a new level.  Bacon wrapped steak, scallops, chicken livers, or dates…the possibilities seem to be endless.

Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel did a episode on Portland, Oregon.  Voodoo Doughnut was a strange local shop that specialized in unique donuts, one being a maple cream stick with crisp bacon.  This is where the idea of the French Toast and Bacon Cupcake was born.  Savory and sweet work so well together, and since I already drown my bacon in maple syrup, why not?  Cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit more vanilla are the key extras in this yellow cake recipe that give it a French Toast feel.  I should note, these cupcakes smell amazing while baking!

I whipped up a Maple Buttercream to frost them with and finished them with the crown jewel…crispy bacon.  For aesthetics I left the bacon in one piece, but would prefer it crumbled for easy eating!  Enjoy!

French Toast Cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • Maple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
  • Crisp Bacon
  • Equipment: A six cup jumbo muffin pan or 12 cup regular muffin pan
French Toast and Bacon Cupcake Ingredients

French Toast and Bacon Cupcake Ingredients

Directions:

1.) Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

2.) In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)

3.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla, and also set aside.

4.) Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

5.) Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before adding the next (scrape the bowl down occasionally). Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until a smooth batter is formed. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

6.) Thoroughly clean the bowl of the mixer and put the egg whites inside. Whip the egg whites on high speed, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed.

7.) Working in 3 batches, using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin pan. Bake, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

8.) Remove the cupcakes  from the oven and cool completely.

Maple Buttercream Frosting
Yield: about 1 2/3 cups, enough for 6 large or 12 regular cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon maple extract

Directions:

1.) In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)

2.) Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the heavy cream and maple extract.. Raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Crisp Bacon

Bacon works well for me baked in an oven at 425 degrees on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 12-15 minutes, drain grease, and bake another 5-7 minutes or until crisp.  You can do it in a pan as well.

Finally – Frost the cooled French Toast Cupcakes with the Maple Buttercream Frosting and top with a Crisp piece of Bacon!

Inside of a French Toast and Bacon Cupcake

Inside of a French Toast and Bacon Cupcake

“Have It Your Way” Stir Fry

Thursday, April 30th, 2009
Stir Fry with Chicken, Shrimp, Filet & Veggies.

Stir Fry with Chicken, Shrimp, Filet & Veggies.

If you are looking for a healthy recipe that can be modified to your taste- stir fry is for you. It is hard to mess up a stir fry – overcooking the vegetables, sure… but changing the amounts of any one ingredient will not make that much of a difference.  In fact, it’s probably better if you tweak the ingredients to suit your taste

My mother sent me her stir fry “recipe” – more like a long paragraph with tips on how she makes her stir fry rather than an actual recipe.  She stresses the “use what you like” concept, along with some basic sound stir fry principles.  Prep everything ahead of time; use a heavy, large pan; don’t overcook the vegetables; pick a sauce you like.  Her “recipe” has no accurate measurements just approximations, so experiment.  If you like more garlic, add more. If you go crazy for Bok Choy, go for it.  You like mushrooms, go bananas…you get the picture. 

It is made different every time, and it is probably important to say that it comes out good every time.  Remember, don’t get hung up on the measurements – do what feels right and follow the basic principles and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

These are so good we had to post them.  Use our Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to make these heavenly ice cream sandwiches!   We used half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla in each.  Yes, these will not be posted under our Healthy Food catagory.  Enjoy!


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