Friday, April 29, 2011

Who likes cake? Do you like cake? 'Cuz I like cake...

     Growing up, I wasn't one of those smiling daughters who dutifully studied her Mother's techniques in the kitchen.  I was was the kind of daughter who did only what she had to in the kitchen (a.k.a. the dishes) and spent the rest of the time reading Stephen King books in her bedroom.  I just wasn't interested.  I wish I'd been more studious then.  Instead of learning every thing from the Food Network in college, I could have learned everything from Mom (at least past the few basics she was able to squeeze in between Christine and The Stand).
     Mom used to make this cake all the time growing up.  She made it for bake sales and as gifts at Christmas.   It's also my wedding cake.   This is a very special cake.  This is my Mom's recipe.  As I recall, she made it up.  She was always very proud of this cake and with good reason.  It's fantastic!  It also comes together fairly quickly.  I'm posting this today in honor of her birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I wish I could share this with you...

Grammie's Fresh Apple Cake
3 eggs
3 C fresh apples
3 t vanilla
1 c oil
2 c sugar
1 C chopped pecans (opt)
3 C flour
1 t salt
3 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t allspice
1/2 t nutmeg

Add sugar to oil and mix until sugar dissolves a bit.  Beat eggs til light and fluffy.  Add eggs, apples, vanilla, and nuts to the oil/sugar mixture.  Mix dry ingredients together and slowly add to egg/sugar mixture.  Mix very well.  Bake in a greased and floured tube pan or 2 loaf pans for about 1 hour at 325.
var: 1 C sugar + 1 C brown sugar omit allspice and add cloves.

My substitutions/additions:
I used mostly Sucanat this time.  It was pretty dry.  I'm not sure if it was the Sucanat or if I over-baked it a tad.  Anyhoo, more to soak up the ice cream with, right?

Using all white sugar will yield a cake slightly lighter in color.  It can also take up to an hour and a half to bake this in a bundt pan.

I liked this recipe so much apparently, that I had three copies of it in my recipe box... This is a great cake by a great woman.  She actually did show me how to make this and it's a wonderful thing to bake it and think of her.  Of course it's a keeper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That's Just Not Kosher...

     Not everything in my recipe box is a recipe.  So, since I already posted a recipe this week, and in the spirit of Easter, I thought I'd post this little "craft-ipe."  It came from a Jet-Puffed Marshmallow flier in the Sunday paper.  I made a couple of mistakes, but it was just a little fun Easter-y thing to do with the boys.  I'd do it differently if I wanted these to actually hold together.
     This would be a super cute project for a classroom.  And for once, it wasn't hard convincing my two to eat up!

Marshmallow Bunny
5 Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
1 (8-inch) piece shoestring licorice, ribbon, or string
10 Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows
2 tablespoons canned white frosting
Assorted candies, for decorating

Stack 2 large marshmallows, securing with some frosting, for each bunny.  Tie licorice, ribbon or string around middle of each marshmallow to separate "head" and "body" sections of bunny.
Cut remaining large marshmallow int quarters lengthwise; using frosting attach 2 quarters for "ears" to each bunny head.
Attach 4 minature marshmallows for bunny "paws" and 1 for cottontail to each bunny with remaining frosting.  Use assorted candies to make faces.  Let dry.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I made my own buttercream frosting instead of investing in an entire can of frosting.  Therein lay my mistake.  It wasn't nearly wet enough and didn't hold them together at all, besides the fact that you could see the creamy color of the butter so it showed on the 'shmallows.  If I ever do these again (and it matters they stick together) I'll use toothpicks.
  • Also, I didn't have any licorice and I didn't bother with ribbon.  I think they're plenty cute without a bow.
Super-cute and easy little project.  I guarantee my boys will ask to do these again!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Yesterday marked the start of Passover for this year.  And even though I'm not Jewish, I loves me some matzoh ball soup.  It's been years since I last made it.  I found this matzoh ball recipe online at Recipe Source in 2003.  It was posted by Casey Wilson and was apparently exported from Master Cook.  All I can say is it's great!  The soup is something I put together to go with it.

Matzoh Ball Soup

2 Tbs melted fat or oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 C Matzoh meal
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs soup stock or water

Blend fat, or oil, and eggs together.  Add matzoh meal and salt mixture to egg and blend well.  Then add soup stock or water and mix until uniform.  Cover mixing bowl and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Using a two or three quart pot bring 1 1/2 quarts of slightly salted water (no salt if desired) to a brisk boil.  Reduce flame, and into the slightly boiling water drop balls approximately 1 inch in diameter formed from mixture from refrigerator.  Cover pot and cook 30 to 40 minutes.  Have soup at room temperature, or warmer, and remove matzoh balls from water and place in soup pot.  When ready to serve, allow soup to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Makes about eight balls.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I use Crisco as the fat.  I know...  But I swear it's one of the very few things I use Crisco for.
  • I use Manischewitz brand matzo meal.

My Broth
2 32 oz boxes "Kitchen Basics" Natural Roasted Vegetable Stock
1 large onion, cut
2 carrots peeled and cut
2 celery stalks washed and cut
3 cloves garlic pressed
1/4 Tbs Better than Bullion
S&P to taste

Wrap veggies in cheese cloth.  Heat stock, add vegetables.  Boil vegetables in broth and water until soft while making Matzoh balls.  Follow the directions on the matzoh balls for cooking them.

My substitutions/additions:
  • Last night I used Imagine Organic No-Chicken Broth instead of Kitchen Basics.  One box plus 4 C of water.
  • I also didn't bother straining the vegetables out.

Really great!  I don't know why I don't make this more often.  Mr. Crackers on the Couch loves these, though the kids wouldn't go for it.  Maybe next year...  Total Keeper.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's a Thai! (Curry Soup, that is...)

This soup is fantastic.  I made it a few weeks ago and am just now getting to type it up.  I got the recipe in my favorite grocery store from my favorite grocery store chef who was giving out samples.  It was apparently created by the Central Market Culinary Resource Center.  Hoity Toi!  Those of you who read last week's post know my feelings about cilantro.  But I have to say... *sigh* this recipe needs it.  I tried to leave it out and it just wasn't as good.   Don't get all excited.  I still don't like it.  It just had to be in this soup.  Also, big surprise to regulars is I actually did use the World Foods curry sauce because it's vegetarian and it's hard to find vegetarian Thai curry sauces.

Thai Red Curry Squash Soup

1 Tbs olive oil
1 C chopped onion
1 large apple, peeled and diced (jonagold, braeburn or similar variety)
1 4 lb squash (butternut, kabocha, blue kari, or hubbard) seeded, peeled, and cut in 1-inch chunks
3 C chicken broth
1 C World Foods Thai Red Curry Sauce or your favorite red curry sauce
1/2 C coconut milk
3 T chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a 6-quart stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes; add the apple and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the squash and broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and then cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and falling apart. 
Use a potato masher if you like some texture, or a hand blender if you want the soup smooth.
Once the desired texture is reached, add the red curry sauce, coconut milk, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add shrimp or croutons if desired.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I probably used a fuji apple because that's mostly what we buy...
  • I used veggie broth.
  • The chef and I both agreed it needed a dairy element.  I said yogurt, he said maybe yogurt or sour cream.  I used yogurt.  I was right...  =)

Awesome.  Even the boys liked it.  Boy 1 actually keeps asking for it weeks later!  Keepin' it!

Ever since I posted this, I have had a really hard time finding the World Foods brand red curry sauce.  I discovered that Trader Joe's brand of red curry sauce is also vegetarian and tried some tonight.  It worked great!  Slightly less spicy, but still super yummy.  I garnished it with crème fraiche tonight, on a lark, and it was very nice indeed!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chickpea Pocket

This Internet find has been inhabiting the box for a few years now.  I think I may have made it once before.  I'm just going to put this out there:  I don't like cilantro.  In fact you could say that I burn with hatred for cilantro with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.  I can taste it even if somebody has just waved it over the plate.  I did not put the cilantro in this recipe.  If you decide to do it, I don't want to know about how awesome it was because I will know that you are lying

But, there was some dill in the salad mix I used and that was nice.

Chickpea Pocket

1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, roughly chopped
8-10 black olives, sliced
2 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin powder
2 C shredded lettuce
1 T cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
6 small slices of pita bread

Combine ingredients.  Mix well.  Cut pita pockets.  Line pockets with lettuce.  Spoon in filling.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I made my own chickpeas in the pressure cooker using this time table.
  • Chicken might be good in this.
  • Instead of shredded lettuce, I used a spring mix salad with herbs.


The flavor got a little lost in the pocket but it's very nice as a salad.  Perhaps yogurt or garlic would kick it up a little.   It needs some tweaking, but it's edible and low calorie.
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