Monthly Archives: March 2015

Angel White Cake

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 What can I say about this cake?  It tastes like a cross between angel food cake and wedding cake.  This is my go to white cake.  May I tell you a secret about it?  It starts with a cake mix.  GASP!  Most of the cakes I make are homemade, but I didn’t think I could make this one better from scratch.  The cake mix gets all kinds of goodies added to it, you can’t tell it starts from a box.  All this needs is a good frosting to be perfect.  This deserves better than canned frosting.  YUCK!!!  That’s one thing I despise.  It tastes so artificial.  It’s not hard to make a delicious butter cream frosting from scratch.  It takes about 5 minutes.  And you get to lick the beaters.  Woo hoo!  This would make an excellent close to your Easter dinner.

Speaking of Easter, I just decided what I’m going to make for dessert.  I have such a hard time choosing what I want to make for holidays.  Mainly that’s because I want to make EVERYTHING.  My green-eyed Irish guy always reminds me that I’m not feeding an army any more.  I’m very excited about sharing with you later in the week what my show stopping dessert will be.  I’ll just say it’s something a little different.

Angel White Cake

Cake very slightly adapted from Recipe Girl

18.25 oz. box white cake mix (I only use Duncan Hines)

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups water

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1-2 tsp. vanilla (depending upon how much you like vanilla)

1 cup sour cream

4 large egg whites at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour (or spray with cooking spray with flour) two nine-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl whisk together cake mix and the rest of the dry ingredients.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with stand or hand mixer on low-speed until just combined.  Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Using a spatula, scrape the bottom and sides to make sure all ingredients are well combined.

Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Bang each pan on the counter 2-3 times to remove air bubbles from batter.  Place pans in the oven.  Immediately reduce the heat to 325 degrees.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Don’t worry if it takes longer than 45 minutes.  Each oven has different temperatures.)

Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and place on a wire rack until completely cool.

Butter cream frosting:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature

4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

pinch of salt

1-2 tsp. vanilla or 1 Tbs. vanilla bean paste

2-4 Tbs. heavy whipping cream

Place butter in a large bowl.  Beat on medium high until light, fluffy and pale yellow in color.  Add the confectioner’s sugar and salt.  Beat on low until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and 2 Tbs. whipping cream.  Beat on medium high-speed, adding additional whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, until it’s light and fluffy.

Cookies, Cookies and more Cookies

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Did I tell you today was going to be a cookie day or what?  Look at these sweeties!  Here you have strawberry cheesecake cookies, peanut butter cookies and oatmeal scotchie bars.  I like my peanut butter cookies to be chewy not crunchy.  These are soft, chewy, peanut buttery wonderland for the taste buds.  My go to recipe is from a 1973 Crisco cookbook.  The only thing I’ve changed is the baking time.  The oatmeal scotchie bars are the original toll house recipe except I turned up the cinnamon a bit.  I decided to make them into bars because in the past I’ve had trouble with them falling apart.  No bueno.  And my favorite out of the three-the strawberry cheesecake.  OH MY GOOD GOLLY!!  Strawberry cheesecake in cookie form?!  Yes, please!!  They did not disappoint.  You do have to be careful with the dough.  It wants to crumble so you have to persuade it to stay in place.  After they’re baked though, they’re good to go and totally delicious.          Peanut Butter Chews

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco stick)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg. room temperature

1 1/2 cups sifted flour (that means sifted before measured)

1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and egg.  Add dry ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls (I used my smallest cookie scoop).  Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Using a fork, make a crisscross pattern to flatten.  Bake for 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies or 10-12 minutes for a more crispy cookie.  Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Made 25 cookies.

Oatmeal Scotchie Bars

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups oats

11 oz. pkg. butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter.  Stir in oats and morsels.  Line a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper longer than the pan so that it extends over the edges. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread dough even in the prepared pan.  Bake for 18-22 minutes (Mine took 19) or until lightly browned.  Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan.  Using the parchment paper “handles” move to a wire baking rack to cool completely.  Cut into bars.  I cut mine into 24.  You may want them smaller or larger.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

Adapted from Sandra Lee

1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (1 sleeve)

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, at room temperature, separated (the white will go in the cookie base and the yolk in the cheesecake mixture)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. lemon zest (I didn’t have any fresh lemons, so I used about 1/4 tsp. lemon juice)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbs. strawberry preserves

1/4 tsp. water

4 medium-sized strawberries, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder.  In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar.  Add the egg white and beat until well combined.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.

Using the small bowl that you used for the flour, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, lemon zest or juice and vanilla until well combined.  Set aside.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 Tbs. size), scoop the cookie dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. The dough is a little crumbly, but don’t worry.  With the back of a tablespoon measuring spoon make a small well in each ball.  Spoon cream cheese into each indent in the cookies.  Bake until the filling is set and the cookies are lightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to a wire rack to completely cool.

Place the strawberry preserves and water in a small microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir and place a small amount on top of the cheesecake part of each cookie.  Top with a quartered strawberry.  Makes 15 cookies.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars

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S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!  Saturday night.  Who remembers that song?  I’m dating myself here, but it was 1974.  I know-I’m old.  Lol.  It was the Bay City Rollers, Scottish heart-throb who wore capri pants and lots of plaid.  I was just starting the magical teenage years that year and boy oh boy did I have a crush on them.  Enough of the flashback, let’s get on to what’s important-basketball!  Hey I’m a Hoosier and we love our basketball.

After an afternoon of shopping, we headed home for a cheeseburger and coleslaw dinner before settling down on the couch for some basketball.  The first game, Arizona vs. Wisconsin was good, but we were waiting for the second game, Notre Dame vs. Kentucky.  This is going to be quite a game.  Go IRISH!!!  I’m watching the game as I’m typing.  It’s tied 31/31 at half-time.

Looking forward to tomorrow.  I declare it a cookie day.   But for now let me show you these tasty, healthy bars.  I have to admit I was anticipating these to be more like a crunchy granola bar, but they are cake-like instead.  They’re soft and moist, filled with healthy oats, almond milk, banana, peanut butter and Greek yogurt.  Go ahead and eat this “cake” for breakfast. or any time of day, without feeling guilty.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tsp. cinnamon (add more if desired to your taste)

1 medium ripe banana, mashed

2 cups plain almond milk (can use other types of milk)

1 large egg

1 6-ounce container vanilla Greek yogurt

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup coconut flakes

1/3 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl mix dry ingredients; oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large bowl mash banana.  Add eggs and beat together.  Add almond milk, honey, peanut butter and yogurt. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet.  Add walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut.  Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  If desired drizzle with chocolate.  Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate) in a freezer bag in the microwave in 30 second intervals, removing from the microwave and kneading each time until completely melted.  Cut a small piece off of one corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the bars.

*I think you could bake these in muffin pans with cupcake liners so they would be individual servings.  I would bake for 15-20 minutes.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda

Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

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 I was going to tell you about some oatmeal bars I made the other day tonight, but then I made this chicken potpie for dinner.  This is comfort food at its finest.  I gotta say it was out of this world good.  What could be bad about roasted carrots, soft, boiled potatoes, roasted chicken breast, creamy gravy and a cheesy biscuit top with a crisp outside and a fluffy inside?  Every bite is a symphony of flavor in your mouth.  I didn’t want to have a traditional pie crust.  I knew it had to have a biscuit topping with cheese because everything’s better with cheese.  Or chocolate.  But chocolate is another story.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did.

Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Ingredients:

1 cup baby carrots

2 medium potatoes

1 lb. chicken breast

1  15 oz. can corn

1 15 oz. can green beans

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 bouillon cubes

olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper

Biscuits:

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter flavored shortening

2/3 cup milk

1 large egg

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place carrots on prepared pan.  Drizzle with olive oil (about a tablespoon) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, stir the carrots around to ensure all have some oil, salt and pepper.  Cut a length of aluminum foil that’s large enough to wrap your chicken breast.  Place chicken breast on foil, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and wrap securely in the foil.  Place on the baking dish beside the carrots.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

While chicken and carrots are roasting, peel and cube potatoes.  Place in a medium pan, add water to 1″ above potatoes and boil for 10 minutes or until soft.  Drain and set aside.

To make gravy:

Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery.  Cook for a minute or two.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Stir in the flour.  Cook and stir for two minutes.  Slowly pour in the chicken stock.  Stir until smooth and thickens.  Add the potatoes, corn, green beans.  Chop the chicken and carrots into bite-sized pieces and add with the vegetables.  Turn heat to low while preparing the biscuit dough.

To make biscuit topping:

Measure the two cups of flour, the sugar and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Stir with a spoon to combine dry ingredients.  Cut the butter and shortening into cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender, cut the butter/shortening into the flour mixture until its pea-sized pieces.  Measure the milk into a glass measuring cup.  Add the egg and beat together until combined.  Make a well in the bowl and pour in the milk mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Stir in cheddar cheese.

Now it’s time to combine all these pieces and make magic.  Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon the vegetable/meat/gravy mixture into the bottom in an even layer.  Spoon biscuit dough over the mixture in the pan and even out trying to cover the top as completely as possible.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Increase temperature of oven to 450 and bake for 5 additional minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda

Leftover Delights

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Do you have leftover roasted chicken or lasagna like I do this week?  What do you do with them?  That paper bag roasted chicken from earlier made some delicious and therapeutic chicken noodle soup.  I had a brain fart and didn’t take a picture of it. 😦  Once again I gotta tell you, I 💜 soup!  I took the chicken off the bone and boiled those bones with some water, salt and pepper and sautéed onion, celery and celery leaves and diced carrots for 45-60 minutes. I removed the bones and added 6 cups of chicken stock, brought it to a boil and added 12 ounces of uncooked egg noodles. I boiled that for 15 minutes, added some of the chopped leftover chicken to the pot and cooked for 5-10 minutes until the chicken was hot.  Voila!  Soup.  There was more chicken left over so we had a tasty salad with greens, tomato, avocado, strawberries, shredded cheddar, chicken and champagne vinaigrette.  That dressing is so good I could almost drink it straight. Ok maybe not straight but on the rocks, shaken not stirred.  Best salad dressing ever but really hard to find. 

 

Then there’s the lasagna.  How about a lasagna “grilled cheese” sandwich?  Don’t scoff. Give it a try. It’s super de dooper yummy!  

What creative things do you make with leftovers?  Please share your your ideas with me.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda 

Lasagna, Per Favore

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I’ve been away from the blog for a few days.  My daughter, N, is very sick.  Pneumonia.  And she’s been a type 1 diabetic since she was 9 years old.  Being sick and being diabetic is not a good combination.  It makes everything much. MUCH. WORSE.  I took her back to urgent care today.   She got an injected antibiotic which is supposed to give the antibiotic she’s taking by mouth a shot in the arm.  Too bad she had to get the shot further south than that.  Ouch!  She’s supposed to feel much better by tomorrow,  No matter how old your children get, they’re always your baby and it still hurts to see them sick. Have you ever read the book  Love You Forever?  I read it to my kids all the time and every time I would cry. Yes, every time.  It’s sweet, happy, sad and all about the love of a Mommy for her baby.  Hear it here.

I finally made the lasagna tonight that I’ve been promising my green-eyed Irish guy.  It is one beautiful Italian dish with a thick meaty sauce, a luscious cheese layer and plenty of shredded cheeses and noodles you don’t have to cook beforehand.  It takes a couple hours to make but it is soooooo worth it.

 Darn it!  The first piece is so hard to get out of the pan.

Italian Lasagna

Meat sauce:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 90/10.  You could also use 1 lb. beef and 1/2 lb. Italian sausage)

1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Brown meat, onion and garlic in a large Dutch oven on medium heat.  Drain grease.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine well.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.  Set aside until time to layer lasagna

Place 10 lasagna noodles (doesn’t have to be no boil) in a 13 x 9 baking pan.  Pour enough boiling water over the noodles until they are covered.  Let sit while making the cheese mixture.

Cheese Mixture:

2 eggs

15 oz. ricotta cheese (you may use reduced fat if desired)

16 oz. small curd cottage cheese (you may use reduced fat if desired)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

8 oz. finely shredded Italian blend cheese

8 oz. finely shredded mozzarella cheese

In a medium sized bowl beat the two eggs.  Add the remaining ingredients except the shredded Italian and mozzarella cheeses and stir until fulled combined.

Set aside.

Remove the noodles from the boiling water with tongs and set on paper towels to absorb the excess water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Dry the 13 x 9 pan with a paper towel and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon about 1/2 cup sauce into the prepared pan.  Place 4 noodles horizontally and 1 noodle vertically on top of the sauce in the pan. Top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture.  Spoon 1/2 of the meat mixture on the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the Italian blend and mozzarella cheeses.  Place the last 5 noodles in the pan, 4 horizontally and 1 vertically.  Top with the last of the cheese mixture.  Spoon the remaining meat sauce on the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil spray with non-stick cooking spray so that the cheese won’t stick to it.  Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.  Remove from the oven.  Carefully remove the foil.  Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 15 minutes until the top is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly.  Buon appetito!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda

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Paper Bag Chicken

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Have you ever heard of a paper bag chicken?  I hadn’t either until recently when I was browsing the Internet looking at recipes. I guess it’s not a new thing. It dates back to at least the 1950’s as sort of a precursor to plastic oven bags.   The claim is that because the bag is paper and not plastic air can flow through it so it actually roasts.  I was more than a little intrigued. Today is the day I’m testing the roasting in a paper bag theory. I read as long as you have the oven heat at a moderate temperature, lower than 451 degrees, the bag won’t burn.  Ah, science in the kitchen!  Now on to the experiment!

Into the oven.  Let’s get this bird cooking!

Just pulled out of the oven.  Time for the reveal.

This is what it looked like after ripping open the bag and pulling some of the lemon out of the cavity. It stuck a little bit to the paper bag, but not terribly.

Paper Bag Chicken

Ingredients:

6 lb. whole chicken

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (one stick)

3 lemons

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

salt and pepper

1 large, clean paper grocery bag

kitchen twine to tie bag

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the paper bag on a large baking sheet with sides.

Place butter in a small bowl.  Zest all three lemons into the butter.  Cut lemons in half.  Squeeze about a teaspoon of juice from one half and add to the butter, but do not discard lemon.  Stir in the thyme and garlic until well combined with the butter.  Remove neck, liver and gizzards from inside the chicken.  Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.  Liberally salt and pepper inside and outside of bird.  With your fingers between the skin and meat, carefully pull them apart being sure not to puncture or remove skin. Spread the butter mixture onto the skin, underneath the skin onto the meat and inside the cavity of the chicken.  Place lemon halves inside the cavity.  Insert bird into paper bag and tie the end securely with the kitchen twine.  Place baking sheet with the bagged chicken into the oven.  Bake for 3 hours at 350 degrees.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before untying and ripping open bag. Be careful.  It’s very hot.  Remove lemon halves with a fork.  Place chicken on serving platter.  Slice and enjoy with your favorite sides.

My verdict:  I was thoroughly intrigued and had to try this.  Although it made a moist and tasty chicken, it wasn’t very pretty nor very “roasted”.  Give it a try so you can judge for yourself.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,

Glenda