Monday, December 26, 2011

Reindeer Cookies

As we were going through the cookie cutters to make our cookies for Santa Will came across the giant lobster cutter.  I have never had an excuse to make lobster cookies and now that I see them as silly reindeer I might never make them.

This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  The cookies are nice and soft and are sweet without being too sweet.  I like to double the recipe and break it into 4 portions, so there is always some in the freezer ready to bake off.

Sugar Cookies
(from Martha Stewart) - Printer Ready

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-inch one-piece-shaped cookie cutter. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, put in  freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.  Bake until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.

The cookies the kids made for Santa.
Merry Christmas!
Check out more wonderful cookies at the Secret Recipe Club Cookie swap:
Secret Recipe Club Cookie Party

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buche de Noel Trifle

This cake was just not meant to be.  I think my excitement at having my Mom's birthday cake ready by the time she came down for a visit and the fact that I would finally be posting my Cake Slice cake on time jinxed the whole process.

I should have known to step away from this cake when I broke a half dozen eggs, but no I just went to the store and bought more.  Over baking the cake should have been another sign, or when the cake broke apart while rolling it, but no I just carried on.  By the time I messed up the filling it was too late to turn back.

So instead of a Chocolate Hazelnut Buche de Noel birthday cake my Mom received a Chocolate Cherry trifle.   While it wasn't the look I was going for it was very tasty.  

This ended up not resembling Tish Boyle's Chocolate Hazelnut cake in the least bit.   I used her cake and buttercream recipes, but that was it.  The trifle consisted of chocolate sponge cake, with a rum glaze and chocolate fudge cream layered between buttercream sprinkled with dried cherries and almonds.  .

To see what this month's cake slice bakers cake was supposed to look like, check out the other bakers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Swap

I love cookies swaps.  We had great cookie swap parties at the office where I use to work, but it has been a couple of year since I have been to a really good one.  The last one I went to most of the cookies were purchased at local bakeries which I found very disappointing.

This year I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Exchange, and knew I wouldn't be disappointed.  It was hosted by Lindsay and Julie and over 600 bloggers participated each sending a dozen cookies to 3 other bloggers.

My family quickly devoured the cookies.  It was as if they had planned their mailings as we had just finished one batch when the next arrived.
  • Our first batch came from Jessica  -My Kitchen Adventures - she sent one of her family's favorites - "Melting Moments" and some wonderful peppermint Fudge.
  • Next, from Sofie - The German Foodie, we received "Mami's Hazelnut Shortbread" which is an amazing cookie made from an old German recipe.  
  • Then came a batch of delicious Peppermint Mocha Chocolate Chip cookies from Brookie at Baking with Basil.

All of the cookies were delicious and as I said quickly devoured, which is why I have no pictures of them.

On my end I made Black Forest Crinkle Cookies, which went to The Dainty ChefGreens and Chocolate, and Kudos Kitchen .

These are a super simple chocolate cookie and since there you don't need to use a mixer are great to make with kids.  Edy worked with me on this project and actually taught me that to get the best results you need to really coat the cookies in powdered sugar.  When I roll cookies in sugar I do a quick roll, when a two year old does it, it is a much more thorough process and yields much better results.  So if you don't have the pleasure of having a two year old assist you, just think like a two year - more is better.

Black Forest Crinkle Cookies
(recipe from Cuisine at Home)
Printer Ready

¾ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cup Sugar
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Butter
⅓ cup Cocoa Powder (not Dutch process)
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee granules mixed w/ 2 Tbsp. hot water)
⅓ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
⅓ cup Dried Tart Cherries
¾ cup Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350°, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl, set aside.  In a small bowl melt butter in microwave.  Once melted add cocoa powder to butter and whisk until combined.  Add egg, coffee and vanilla, mix until combined.  Add butter mixture to flour, mixing until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.  

Shape into 2” balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar, place on to prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2” apart.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, cookies will be cracked and soft - do not over bake.  Let cookies cool 5 minutes on tray, then transfer to cooling racking.  

Not sure how it happened, but the cookies got out of the house before I got a picture of the finished product.  Guess I will have to make them again!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ginger Scones

I was talking about this recipe last night and had such a craving for it that I decided to make it this morning, with the help of my youngest chef.  I first had these a couple of years ago while visiting my brother and sister-in-law, She makes some of the best scones, in fact I didn't make these for a long time because I didn't want to ruin my memory of how good they were.

These are a basic scone recipe, so if you aren't a ginger lover you can easily substitute the crystal ginger with your favorite filling - blueberry, cranberry, chocolate chips the options are endless.


Ginger Scones
Printer Ready

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
2 cups All purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven 425°
Cut butter into ¼” cubes, or smaller, place in freezer while preparing rest of ingredients.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder and sugar.  Toss to combine.  Using a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently combine the dry ingredients and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.  Add heavy cream and mix until the dough begins to form.  Pour mixture out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until mixture forms a sticky ball.  Pat into a flat circle, sprinkle ginger on top, fold in half and pat back into circle.  Cut into 8 wedges and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are a light brown.  Cool completely.

In microwave melt chocolate chips.  Dip ends of scones in chocolate or drizzle chocolate on top.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SRC - Pear Spice Bread

It is Secret Recipe Club time again and this month I would like to introduce you to Sara at Cupcake Muffin.   Her site is filled with wonderful recipes and it was hard to pick one recipe.  To make the decision making process easier I decided I would make whatever she was she made this time last year.  Even narrowing it down to one month's worth or recipes it was still a hard choice.  She had one of my favorite things, "everything in the fridge soup", it sounded tempting, but I decided to go with her Pear Pecan Spice Bread  

I love quick breads they are easy to make and are a wonderful gift.  I often make a few batches to give as gifts at Thanksgiving time and had planned on doing that again this year.  When I came across Sara's recipe I still hadn't decided what to make this year so I was thrilled to be able to give this recipe a try.  I didn't get around to making the bread until the day before we were leaving for Thanksgiving.  I had a lot of baking to do that day and this was the last thing I made.  Unfortunately my final product showed that I was tired and unfocused when I made this.  

As I was pouring the bread into the pans it didn't look right I thought it was because I had used whole wheat flour and for some reason I don't always get good results when cooking with whole wheat.  I had also added more pear and pecan than called for and thought that might be effecting the batter as well.  I decided to sample the bread before wrapping it up and presenting it as a gift.  And, good things I did, as it turns out what made the batter look funny was the fact I had forgotten to add the sugar.  

The bread was still super flavorful and I could tell if the sugar had been added the loaves would have been gobbled up.  We still managed to eat one loaf, by toasting the slices and covering them in butter and cinnamon sugar.  This was super yummy, but the bread still needed a little sweetness.   The remaining loaves I stuck in the freezer and will use at Christmas to make stuffing.  I am very excited about this as I didn't get to make any stuffing for Thanksgiving.  

Here is Sara's recipe for the Pear Pecan bread, give it a try.  I recommend adding the sugar, but if you forget it it is still super flavorful.  

Pear-Pecan Spice Bread
Printer Ready

(from Cupcake Muffin)

Makes 1 loaf, or 4 small

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
1 cup peeled, grated very, very ripe pear
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup peeled, diced pear

Note: You'll need 2-3 large pears for the grated and diced pear combined.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with oil.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom.  Add the pecans and toss to combine.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, sugar, grated pear, and vanilla.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in the diced pears, again until just combined.
4. Scrape the batter into the oiled pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gluten Free

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Schar for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
It has been a couple of years, but we are planning on hosting an open house after New Year's.  We have decided to keep the fare simple and instead of lots of little appetizers do a soup and sandwich buffet.  In preparation  for the gathering I am on a quest for a few perfect soups.
Since we aren't offering a lot of different food options I want to make sure there are a variety of soups, so for the next few weeks I am going to be trying at least one new soup each week.  This week's soup a classic Vegetable Minestrone.  This is probably my favorite type of soup to make as it can be made with whatever is handy.

 I had planned on writing down the recipe as I made it, but got distracted.  The basic recipe is "dig through your fridge and find whatever vegetables are on hand and need to be used up."   I will try and come up with something a little more specific and maybe even write down a recipe next time.  
And, as everyone knows you can't have soup without bread.  So the other part of my mission for the next few weeks will be to test a variety of breads.  I am going to make some, but I also want to try some of the gluten free breads.  We have some friends who have recently gone gluten free and it would be great to have options for them.  My family is far from gluten free and Schar must have known this.  I recently received an e-mail from them announcing they have just re-launched their gluten free heat and serve items.  While I haven't had a chance to try the products I am definitely going to look for them next time I head to the grocery store.   I am sure their Ciabatta bread would be wonderful with a bowl of hot soup.  
I spent a lot of time checking out the Schar web-site which offers a wealth of information. I was amazed by the variety of products they offer, in addition to the ready to serve breads they also offer pastas, breadcrumbs and a variety of mixes.  The site also provides information on Celiac disease and gluten free diets,  which is great for those of us who aren't very knowledgeable on the subject.   If that weren't enough the site is also a great resource for gluten free recipes.  I marked a couple of them, and along with Ciabatta bread I am going to pick up some of the classic white bread mix so I can make the Italian Christmas cake.  I would think this time of year would be especially hard for those who are gluten intolerant and it would be wonderful to be to be able to offer a special treat that everyone can enjoy.
Whether you are gluten free or just trying to incorporate an occasional item in your diet the Schar site is great.  When you sign up for Schar Club you gain access to hundreds of gluten free meal options in the recipe database, connect with gluten-free experts provide and recieve updates on new products.  If you are interested in checking them out you can request  Schar free sample .  I am going to give it a try and will let you know!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting Ready

The Thanksgiving preparations began yesterday with lots of baking.  My favorite 2 year old assisted as we made pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread muffins, pear spice bread and some sugar cookie dough.

Pumpkin cheesecake, this is the Cake Slice bakers recipe of the month.  I can't wait to try it.

 For the second time in two weeks - gingerbread muffins, this time without the glaze.  These were the snack for Maggie's preschool class and I didn't get one, I was rather sad.

Everything was a success except for the pear spice bread and that was only a fail because I forgot to add the sugar.  I am thinking it might be a nice addition to the stuffing, so it won't be a total loss.  I will share recipes and more pictures after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Seven or eight years I ago I was obsessed with Biscotti.  I made tons of it in every imaginable flavor.  I gave it as gifts and ate pounds of it myself.  I loved the stuff, to the point where I became sick of it.  For the first time in about six years I just made it again and I am afraid I may become obsessed again.

It comes together so easily.  There are so many flavor combinations, and even better you can often make two different flavors in one batch.  It is a wonderful snack, morning, noon or night.  It is great with coffee and gets even better when dunked in coffee.  

Oh yummy Biscotti! 

Cranberry Orange Biscotti
Printer Ready

½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. Almond extract
Zest from 1 orange
½ cup almonds, chopped
Sprinkling sugar

Preheat oven 375.  Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside

In small bowl pour boiling water over cranberries.  Let set for 15 minutes or until plump, then drain water.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.

In mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy,  Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until fully incorporated (reserve last egg for egg wash).   Mix in almond extract.  Slowly add sifted dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Add cranberries and chopped almonds.  

Turn dough out onto floured surface.  Divide into two equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a log about 16x2.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Gently flatten logs slightly.   Lightly beat last egg and brush each log.  Sprinkle generously with sugar.  

Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch.  Transfer logs on parchment paper to wire rack.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes.   Reduce oven temperature to 300

On cutting board, using serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into ½ inch thick slices.  Arrange slices on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip each piece, bake for an additional 15 minutes.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins

I love gingerbread.  It is one of those foods that not only tastes good, but also makes me feel good.  There are so many special times, places and people I associate with gingerbread that when I have it, it not only fills my  belly, but it also fills my heart.

My first memory of making gingerbread is from 4-H.  I was in 4th grade and can clearly remember being at the teachers house making a gingerbread cake with a lemon glaze.  The kitchen was warm and sunny and the smell and texture of the cake were amazing.  This memory is made even more special as I eventually became very close friends with the teacher's son.  Todd was a wonderful kid who unfortunately had his life taken from him way too young.   I had the 4-H recipe for many years, and even though I only made this cake with Todd once -before we were good friends, I always associated this recipe with him.  I never made that recipe after he died and unfortunately  I haven't seen the paper with the recipe on it for a few years, but I am sure it is still around somewhere.  Not sure I would make it even if I found it, I think I want to leave that recipe memory alone.

Even though I won't make Todd's recipe it doesn't mean I am giving up on gingerbread all together, it is too yummy! So each year I look for and make new recipes.   This year I opted for gingerbread muffins, these are the perfect afternoon snack, or breakfast (just make sure the kids are gone so you don' have to share).   We ate most of the muffins before I made the glaze.  The lemon in the glaze adds a nice flavor, but these muffins are just as yummy without.

Gingerbread Muffins
Printer Ready

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 muffin pans with baking spray.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in the egg until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the molasses until incorporated.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the hot water.
Pour batter into muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, there may be a few crumbs.
Allow to cool in the tins on a wire rack until completely cool. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Everybody Soup

Why is it when I have nothing going on that I find myself scrambling to pull dinner together?

Yesterday the kids were out of school for a teacher work day.  I didn't schedule anything for us to do and left it up to them to decide.  Their decision, a jammie and TV day.  While they got bored with TV after a while, much to my surprise and happiness, they had no desire to get dressed.  They were all dressed by noon and we went outside to play for a while, but other than that we didn't leave the house.  We happily worked on other projects and had a lazy day.

One would think with all this down time I would make some bread and prepare a nice dinner, but no.  At 5:00 the kids started fighting, which signaled it was time to think about feeding the little animals.  Had I thought about dinner earlier I would have remembered I had not been to the grocery store in a week, so the pickings for dinner were a little thin.  And thin pickings mean one thing, soup.

I pulled a variety of ingredients out of the pantry, fridge and freezer and everybody got to choose one or two ingredients to add.   The result was a tasty soup that we named "Everybody Soup."   This time our soup included:  diced tomatoes, tomato puree, spinach, white beans, leftover pot roast, carrots, and corn.  Served with some corn bread it was a quick and wonderful meal to end our very lazy day.

What is your favorite last minute meal?  How do you get everybody involved to make the process go faster and  help calm the craziness?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Portobello Sausage Risotto

When I first received my assignment for this months Secret Recipe Club I knew I would not have a problem finding a recipe.  I knew it would be a tough choice, but I had the feeling that whatever I chose would be wonderful.  Erin of Dinners, Dishes and Desserts has a wonderful site filled with great recipes that she has made for her son and husband.  Even as she prepares to move to Colorado her blog is constantly being updated with new recipes, which makes deciding on a recipe very challenge.  

Since Erin had so many great recipes to choose from I decided to let my refrigerator to the deciding for me.  I checked the refrigerator to see what I had, then checked Erin's site and the winner was Sausage and Mushroom Risotto.  

I didn't have mushrooms, but I did have Aidells Chicken and Portobello Sausage, which I think worked as a wonderful substitute.  This is a wonderful creamy risotto, filled with flavor.  It is great as a date night meal, as Erin prepared it, or as a family meal with three crazy kids running around. 

I made a couple of slight adjustment to Erin's recipe.  The sausage, as I mentioned above and also the liquids.  I didn't have enough rice so I eliminated the use of beef stock.  My adjusted recipe is listed below, but be sure to check out Erin's site for her recipe.  

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

3 cups chicken stock
2 Tbls olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp thyme
1 lb Adiellas Chicken and Portobello Sausage
1 Tbls butter
Salt and pepper
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

In saucepan over low heat, warm chicken stock..

In a large deep sided skillet brown the sausage.  Once brown add thyme.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, then remove from pan and set aside.

In skillet heat 2 Tbls oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and coat well with the oil.  Lightly toast the rice, about 2 minutes.  Stir in wine, and cook until it is almost evaporated.  Ladle about 1 cup of warm stock into the rice and stir.  Once it is mostly absorbed add in more stock (1 ladle full each time).  Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and nice and creamy.  You might have a little stock left over, but not much.

Once cooked through, add sausage to the pan.  Stir in the Parmesan Cheese and butter.  Top with additional cheese if desired.


As always be sure to check out the Secret Recipe Club it continues to grow and there are new recipe reveals each week.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween Wrap-up

A few of our Halloween baking endeavors.  Nothing turned out great, but they were all fun to make and we will probably recreate them again next year.

Our neighborhood has a Halloween party every year.  In addition to lots of games there is a chili cook off and a cake walk.  My husband enters the chili cook off and has come in 2nd place every year so if you have an award winning recipe please send it!  I usually do a cake for the cake walk.   I had been planning on doing one again this year, but the kids decided they wanted to do something and I didn't have enough time to do two cakes.  So I  baked up some cupcakes for the kids, bought lots of fun candy and let them go at it.  The results were candy loaded cupcake monsters.

I had seen a great idea on Pintrest - talk about evil and scary, that site just sucks time away from me - for a meatloaf hand.  I have been excited all month to make it.  I don't cook meals for the family on the weekend so the meatloaf hand became Mike's job.  They looked great going into the oven, but they broke apart during baking.  He formed the hand by making the main part and then attaching the fingers.  Next year we will make it by forming one mass of meat into a hand shape and hopefully it will stay together.  Although, the kids did find it very entertaining to eat the fingers, or the toes as they called them.

We went trick-or-treating on Monday so we needed a quick meal between school, homework and heading out.  Which could mean only one thing - mummy dogs!

Now that Halloween is over, I guess it is time to start preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pizza Possibilities

A few weeks ago I received a wonderful package in the mail from Johnsonville Sausage.  It contained all sorts of goodies for a make your own pizza night.  As it happens, make your own pizza is one of my kids' favorite activities, you probably could have guessed this based on the number of times I have written about it.  They never tire of it and always ask to have tons of different ingredients put out even though they make the same type - plain old cheese - every time.

To take full advantage of the wonderful goodies from Johnsonville we gathered some friends together for a make your own pizza party.  I gathered a bunch of different toppings and put the kids to work making an assortment of pizzas.  The pizza selection included:
We didn't take an official vote for favorite pizza, but they were all devoured, my favorite was the Florentine, but I always go for spinach pizza.  The recipes for the Margherita, Cucina and Florentine pizzas came from the Johnsonville site, they have a lot of great recipes so be sure to stop by and check them out.

The chicken sausage pizza was a white pizza and was created for my husband.  He is allergic to pork, so I was thrilled to find that Johnsonville has come out with a flavorful chicken sausage.  We used the apple chicken sausage, but they offer three other flavors that we also plan on trying.

Chicken Sausage Pizza

Your favorite Pizza dough
2 links Johnsonville Apple Chicken Sausage, thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 c.  shredded Gouda cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 and heat pizza stone

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage, cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan.  Once oil is heated add onion slices.  Cook slowly until tender and brown, about 10 minutes.  

While onion is cooking roll out pizza dough.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on hot pizza stone and bake for 5-7 minutes or until crust is lightly baked.   Remove from oven.  Top with sausage, onions and cheese.  Return to oven for an additional 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  


Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

This month the Cake Slice bakers began baking with our new book.  This year we are baking our way through "The Cake Book" by Trish Boyle.  I have had the book for about two months and I think I have read every recipe.  It looks likes a great book with lots of yummy cakes.  Despite my lateness in posting I have been very excited to begin baking.  I actually baked this cake two weeks ago and had hoped to bake it again to, because it was so yummy, and to get better pictures.  Hopefully not all of my posts will be as late as this one.

This cake is described as "a moist, unpretentious cake, perfect as a simple fall dessert or snack." and this really is the perfected description.  Simple yet yummy.  A wonderful treat in the afternoon with a cup of tea, or as I enjoyed it as an unhealthy, yet really yummy, breakfast with a cup of coffee.  The spice mixture on this cake was wonderful, the perfect blend of cinnamon, cloves and ginger,  it just screamed of Fall.  To top things off this cake is finished with a wonderful maple cream cheese icing.  I could have eaten the entire bowl on its own.  I didn't have maple flavoring, but I did have something even better, maple cream.  If you have never had maple cream you need to go find some now, it is absolutely magnificent.  I added the maple cream to the butter and cream cheese and creamed all the ingredients together, it was hard to not just spread this mixture on a piece of toast and eat the entire bowl.

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting
from “The Cake Book” by Trish Boyle
Printer Ready

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

½ c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
⅔ c. buttermilk
2 c. peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (about 2 apples) *
½ c. coarsely chopped apples

*I used Honeycrisp

Preheat oven 350. Grease bottom and sides of 9” cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper.

In medium bowl whisk dry ingredients together, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed for about two minutes until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Beat well after each addition, scrapping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk, in two additions.  With each addition blend until just incorporated.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chopped apples and walnuts.
Pour mixture into poured pan, smooth top.  Bake cake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool cake completely, then top with frosting.  

Maple Cream Cheese Spice Frosting
Printer Ready

6 oz.  cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. maple cream

½ tsp. vanilla extract
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamnon
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
1 c. confectioners sugar, sifted

In bowl of electric mixer, at medium speed, beat cream cheese, butter and maple cream together until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.  Reduce speed to low and add confections sugar, beat until blended.  Raise speed to high and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stuffed Squash

This week was one of those weeks where I had an odd assortment of food leftover at the end of the week.  There wasn't enough of any one item to make a meal for all of us. There was leftover soup, about a pound of ground turkey, 3 small acorn squash, 1/2 a bag of green beans and a small bit of frozen spinach.  The resulting dinner - stuffed squash with a cup of soup.

The stuffed squash was wonderful.  I usually think of squash as just a side dish, but this made the perfect fall meal, plus it was quick and easy.  This is one of those fillings that is easily adjustable based on what you have available.  I had spinach on hand that I wanted to use up, but I also debated using apples which I think would be super yummy as well and give it even more Fall flavor.

Stuffed Squash
Printer Ready

3 Acorn Squash
¼ c. Brown Sugar
1 small Onion, diced
1 lb. Ground Turkey
10 oz. Chopped frozen Spinach, thawed
1 Tbs. Curry Powder
¼ c. Flour
¼ c. Milk
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Cut squash in half remove seeds, place in baking dish and season with salt and pepper.  Evenly divide brown sugar between squash halves.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

While squash is cooking prepare filling.  Over medium heat saute onion in olive oil until opaque.   Add ground turkey, cook until brown and cooked through.  Add curry powder, salt and pepper and chopped spinach.  Cook 3-5 minutes or until spinach is combined with turkey.  Sprinkle mixture with flour, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring to combine.  Slowly add milk, cook mixture thickens.  

Remove squash from oven.  Divide turkey mixture between squash halves.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Return to oven bake for 10 minutes.