Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Favorite Sweets

Of all the baking I have done, I have several favorite things I love to make. These sweets come up time and time again no matter how many new things I try. Some of the recipes are covered in old stains of vanilla, flour and butter I've used them so much. But that is the fun of it, right? Almost all of these recipes are on my blog if you want to make them.

1. Secret Kiss Cookies- I've never posted this recipe because it's a secret family recipe but boy these are good. Chocolate kisses wrapped in cookie dough and dipped in confectioner's sugar. I could eat dozens!

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies- I love making these. I vary the ingredients some by adding different chips or adding nuts, but however I make them, they are always gone fast.

3. Banana Bread- I just made some yesterday. It's so good with preserves or butter and a cup of hot tea.

4. Chocolate Cream Pie- So simple and so good!

5. Buckeyes- Another simple, yet so good recipe. I often get requests for this one from my oldest. She loves eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

6. Peppermint Patties- I posted the recipe last Christmas. It's become a new favorite in our house.

7. Fudgy Brownies- I've been making these for 15 years now. They always come out perfect and are so hard to resist, especially right out of the oven.

8. Cookie Cake- The kids love this one for birthday celebrations at school. It takes literally minutes to throw together and the kids love decorating it themselves.

9. Avalanche Bark- this is a copy cat recipe I got off the Internet. The original bark is sold at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. The mixture of white chocolate, peanut butter and krispies is wonderful. I don't make it too often cause I would never fit in my jeans!

10. Ice cream- if you read my blog at all, you will know I love making homemade ice cream. My favorite is the chocolate peanut butter I made this summer.

11. Cheesecake- there is a recipe I make about once a year called Reeses Peanut Butter cup cheesecake. And I usually give the cheesecake away. I do know my limitations.

12. Cinnamon Chocolate Chip cake- I first made this cake for my 16th birthday. The combination of sweet, delicate cake and crunchy cinnamon sugar topping is too much to resist!

13. Fluff- ok, not the most classy of desserts but so good I could eat the whole bowl myself. Not that my kids would let me, but we've all got to have our fantasies!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chocolate Ding Dong Cake

Just the thought of something called a Ding Dong cake gets my attention. When I found out what was in it and how easy it was, making this cake was a no brainer. I did change a few things, though. I didn't have my chocolate cake mix on hand since my daughter used it to make our anniversary cake (see post on 9/23) so I substituted 1 box of yellow cake batter and added 1/3 cup of cocoa. I also only used 1 box of mix instead of 2. I just didn't want a big cake. I also used buttermilk instead of oil in the cake mix. Other than that, I followed the recipe. It had more filling but that just made it more yummy! I hope you try it!

Chocolate Ding Dong Cake

2 boxes chocolate cake mix
1 c. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
2 container's of chocolate icing or any homemade chocolate icing, softened

Follow instructions on cake mix boxes and bake cakes. It will make 3 layers. Cool completely. Beat together powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and tub of Cool Whip together in a bowl. Spread between cake layers. Pour chocolate icing on top and sides of cake.
Keep cake refrigerated.

"Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty."
-Lora Brody

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Kitchen Gadgets

It's amazing the things you can accumulate in your house. I've moved a few times in my life, and I could not believe the stuff we had! I'm always trying to clear the house out and give things to Goodwill, but then we buy new stuff and the cycle starts again. The one place I won't compromise on, though, is the kitchen. In there, it's the more stuff the better. Here are a few things I can't live without!

1. Pyrex mixing bowls- I've got them in all sizes but only one in medium. Need more medium size bowls!

2. Microplaner- Gosh, I love that thing. I bought it in Williamsburg and purchased fresh nutmeg with it. I don't use it much, but I wouldn't give it up without a fight.

3. KitchenAid mixer- I have a very old version given to me by my mother in law who got it at an old lady friend's estate. It's ancient. But I use it for all my baking and bread. It's sturdy and reliable.

4. Gallon sized pitchers- I have three I rotate. I used them for the never ending supply of sweet tea I make. As big as the pitchers are, they are empty by the end of the day. Who is drinking all that tea?!

5. Colanders- Don't ask me why, but I have several different kinds. Tupperware, metal, sifter name it. But I do use them all. I guess I make a lot of food that needs drained.

6. Large pot- I have a very large metal soup pot I use a lot, surprisingly. It's too large actually, but I can't find one smaller I like or can afford right now. The only thing that it's perfect for is making greens. I can stuff as much greens in there I like and they fit.

7. Corning Ware glass saucepans- the amber colored ones that they no longer make :( I order them off Ebay when one breaks and I need a new one. Perfect for making tea and for all the side veggies I make with dinner. I use them everyday, even the slightly chipped ones.

8. Wooden spoons- love those things. You can leave them in food that is hot and they stay cool. I use mine for everything. Can't have enough of them either.

9. Serrated knives- so much sharper than regular knives. Nasty when you get cut though!

10. Flat Spatulas- this in another one of those things I have a thousand versions of. My favorite are the plain white ones but I do have a few funky ones from Ikea that are growing on me. I can't bake without using them.

11. Super size frying pan- It's huge! But I need one for things like frying hamburgers and stir fry. With 5 people in the family, it's nice getting all the food cooked at one time and not having to use two pans or keep food warm while more is cooking.

12. Crock Pot- I used to have the small one but recently we got a large oval shaped one that has locking handles. I can't use it enough, especially in the winter. My favorite use is for Chili on a cold winter day.

13. Whisk- Sure, everyone has a whisk. But I happened to find a very heavy duty professional whisk one time in Williamsburg and bought it. I love that thing! It's heavy, sturdy and is fun to use. Plus, it makes whipping cream or batters super easy. And it just looks so nice compared to my other cheapy utensils!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary Baby....

gotcha on my mind. I love teasing my husband by singing that every year on our anniversary, esp. since I can't carry a tune to save my life. Well, if you haven't guessed, it's our anniversary today. I wouldn't usually post about something that obviously is only interesting to a select few, but it has been 20 years since we got married and I feel the need to share!

Unfortunately, we can't celebrate today because my husband had to work and we have my oldest daughter's open house at school tonight, but we are going out on Friday to our favorite restaurant, The Hydeholde. It's the only time I get to dress up and act like an adult :)

Last night, when we were at my middle daughter's open house, my oldest surprised us by baking a cake for our anniversary. How sweet! (see why I call them sweetflutterbys?!) She used a box cake mix and added lots of color with purple and blue tint. Then she covered the cake with a glaze and decorated with chocolate chips. Buying a cake from the best bakery in the world would not have made me as happy as I was last night.

Happy Anniversary to my husband! We made it, didn't we?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

When my husband accidentally scheduled a business trip on my son's birthday last week, he asked if we could wait until Saturday to celebrate our son's birthday so he could be there. That was fine, except I didn't want to have no cake for my son on his actual birthday, so I decided to make one for Friday and buy a WalMart cake for Saturday. Looking for a good icing to use for my homemade cake, I found this one in my new Southern Living Incredible Chocolate baking book. It was divine! I couldn't stop eating it. But best of all, my son loved it. Perfect chocolate frosting, indeed!

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring as chocolate melts. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar. Place saucepan in a large bowl of ice. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until frosting holds it's shape and loses it's gloss. Add a few more drops of half and half, if needed until spreading consistancy.
Makes enough for one cake.

"The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate."
-Terry Moore

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Little Guy!

Happy Birthday to my special guy who loves hamburgers, cars, SpongeBob and asking lots of questions! I love you and hope you have the best day ever!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pasta with Farm Market Tomatoes and Ground Turkey

I thought when the kids went back to school, things were supposed to settle down a bit. I was expecting to have more time, especially now that my youngest is in school full time. By some weird twist, I seem to have less time than I used to! Someone please explain how that is possible.

Anyway, as I was rushing through my day recently, I saw this recipe being demonstated on a local talk show. I had tomatoes from the garden and some fresh basil, but not enough to make pesto, so I could use that. I also only had elbow macaroni on hand and some fresh salad spinach I needed to use up. Even with all the subsitutes, the dish was wonderful! My kids even asked me to make this again so it must be good!

Pasta with Farm Market Tomatoes and Ground Turkey

Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
4 to 5 medium homegrown tomatoes, cored and diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces dried rigatoni, cooked al dente (I used elbow macaroni)
1 bunch arugula, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped, about 1 ½ - 2 cups (I used fresh spinach)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesean cheese


In a large skillet heat the oil and add in the turkey, breaking up the large pieces, and cook until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl. Add the onion and the garlic to pan and sauté until the onion is tender. Add in the wine and simmer for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the meat and cook until heated through, about 1 minute longer. Once the pasta, drain and immediately add the hot pasta to the sauce and toss well.

To serve the pasta: Add the arugula (spinach) and basil to the pot and toss well. Drizzle with a little fruity olive oil. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.”
-George Ellwanger (1848-1906)
Pleasures of the Table (1902)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jello Delight

Well, things are finally settling down and I'm glad to be back! During the craziness of the past month, we managed to fit in a vacation with my brother (home on leave from Cuba) and his kids. Just a few days in beautiful West Virginia in the mountains to restore our souls a bit. My brother, who loves to cook, had a recipe for Jello Delight that he thought he wouldn't have time to make. Of course, I volunteered to add it to the desserts I had already planned to make on the trip. I have tasted this dessert before at picnics and other gatherings, but never had any idea what it was called. Now I know, and I can't wait to make it again. It was a big hit with everyone!

Jello Delight

1 8oz package of cream cheese (light version works well too)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup miniature marshmallows (I used "Funmallows" which are mini fruit flavored marshmallows)
1 can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 pkg. (4 svgs) lime gelatin
1 pkg. (4 svgs) lemon gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine gelatins with 2 cups boiling water and stir. Add undrained pineapple and let cool.
Whip cream cheese and heavy cream. Combine with sugar then blend with gelatin mixture. Pour into a large pan (9 x 11), add marshmallows and pecans, and let set. Chill thoroughly. Cut into squares then serve.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Yay, the beginning of Fall! Hopefully this week, I will be getting my butt back in the saddle and posting more on my blog. It's been a crazy month and I'm ready to settle down and do some more baking!

I hope everyone has a nice relaxing day off!