Monthly Archives: March 2014

Apple Cinnamon Loaf

apple cinn loaf 2

I believe I first saw this recipe on Facebook.  The link led me to this webpage:  http://radicallyrural.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/apple-cinnamon-loaf/.  This is a nice little quick bread.  Apple, cinnamon, brown sugar…mmm…  This loaf is put together in layers, which always makes things a bit more tedious, but none of it was hard.  When it’s finished, you’ve got a tasty treat to eat with a glass of milk.  A nice cozy food.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated; add vanilla extract.
  5. Combine flour and baking powder together in another bowl; stir into creamed butter mixture.
  6. Mix milk into batter until smooth.
  7. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  8. Next add half the apples and half the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.
  9. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer.
  10. Top with remaining apples and add more brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter.
  11. Swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

apple cinn loaf 1

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Chinese Buffet Donuts

chinese buffet donuts

Have you ever eaten at a Chinese buffet?  If so, then you’ve probably seen the little half-moon shaped, sugar coated donuts on the bar.  I’m pretty sure they are not a Chinese food, but picky eaters have to have something to eat.  Anyway, I hadn’t thought of those donuts in quite some time, but I ran across this recipe at some point and thought I would give it a try.  It doesn’t taste exactly like I remember those donuts tasting, but I thought they were good.  Something to change up breakfast with sometime.  I found the original recipe here:  http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/3257268-Chinese-Buffet-Donuts?full_recipe=true.

A fun twist on this recipe:  dust the donuts in powdered sugar, rather than granulated sugar.  Then, you’ll have another childhood memory food of mine:  biscuit donuts.  Mmmm!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • oil for frying
  • granulated sugar for coating donuts

Directions:

  1. Mix together flour, salt, baking powder.
  2. Crumble butter into flour mixture with fingers or a pastry cutter.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, and add milk.
  4. Using a fork, mix until a soft ball forms.
  5. On a floured surface, knead 10-12 times.
  6. Cut into small pieces.  Flatten a bit.  (I used my smallest sized biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits; then, I cut each circle in half.  The first batch, I did not cut into halves, and the donuts fell apart during frying.)
  7. Fry each side for about 2 minutes.
  8. Remove from oil, drain, and roll in sugar.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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Quick and Simple Tomato Pasta Sauce

simple spag sauce

This is a simple, quick, and sneaky spaghetti sauce.  I’ve made it several times now, and My Honey and my son both eat it heartily.  My favorite part about this sauce is its sneakiness.  You have to understand that tomatoes have a nice strong, acidic flavor that can mask other vegetables.  In this case, carrots, but please, don’t tell my husband.  In time, I might even be brave enough to try to sneak in some zucchini.  I’m sure I’ll have to peel it, though.  Baby steps…baby steps….

I have used this sauce on spaghetti and in lasagna.  It can be used on just about any kind of pasta dish or even on pizza or with breadsticks.  I make it smooth because that’s how my husband likes it, but if you like it chunky, then make it how you want.  You can also try adding some different vegetables.  I have heard that beets are a nice, bland vegetable that is remarkably good for you.  There is also butternut squash, and maybe even eggplant, though, I don’t know how strong of a flavor those have.  Not to mention, if you’d rather, use actual onions and garlic rather than the dehydrated, powdered versions.  (Nicholas isn’t much of a vegetable person, at all.)  If you do use fresh onion and garlic, I would recommend one clove of garlic and maybe half a cup of diced onion.  Just have fun with it.

Anyway, this sauce is simple enough.  A little of this, a little of that, a blender on liquefy, and batta-bing, batta-boom, you’ve got sauce.  Just heat and serve.  So, the question is, are you ready for the recipe?  I hope so because here it comes.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can (about 15 oz.) of carrots, drained
  • 1 can (about 15 oz.) some kind of tomatoes – whole, diced, petite diced, or crushed
  • 1 can (about 15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 – 2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 – 2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a blender, puree carrots and diced tomatoes.
  2. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Blend.
  3. Add seasonings and spices.  Blend.
  4. Use as you wish for pasta dishes.  It just needs to heat through.

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Cake Baking and Decorating Tips

bday cake 3

We’ve all been there.  It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday night, and you’ve just remembered that there is a church potluck after morning services the next day.  You’ve been catching up on laundry, house cleaning, and play time all day long.  You’re tired and don’t even want to think about pulling out all the stops for homemade lasagna, but at the same time, bringing chips and a couple of two liters would feel like a cop-out.  Yeah, not going either of those routes.  But, you do have a cake mix and a can of frosting in the cabinet.  You bought it for just such a time as this.  Too bad it’s going to taste like it came out of a box, but now isn’t the time to dabble in the details…. Or is it?

I am here to let you know that you can have a tasty cake straight from a box without doing anything out of the ordinary.  And, you can double the amount of frosting you have in that can by adding one simple ingredient:  Air.  Let me help you out.

For a tastier, firmer cake, use these simple substitutes.  First, pull out that box mix and your bowl.  The box says to use water, oil, and eggs (probably three).  Ignore that.  You need to pull out milk, butter, and one extra egg.  Just simply swap the water for milk.  Then, double the amount of oil and swap it for butter and melt it.  The real deal would be better than margarine, but that’s up to you.  And last, but not least, add one more egg than they say to use.  Mix well and bake as directed.

Another hint to make your cake more moist is an oldie but a goodie.  Add about 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise or sour cream to the batter.  Mix it in well, and bake as directed.  Your cake will be good and moist.

Now, about that frosting.  Scoop it into a mixing bowl, and beat it with a mixer for a few minutes.  It will fluff right up, and you will end up with pretty much twice as much as normal.  No need to worry about having enough.

Finally, once you get the cake baked, cooled, and iced, you can jazz it up a bit with some candy – any candy.  I used fun-sized Hershey bars in the picture above.  But try out M&M’s, Skittles, Starburst, Kisses, even peppermints or fruity candies, such as Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers.  They add some color, and the kids will love you forever.  Or, just add a few sprinkles if you don’t have candy.  Of course, you don’t even have to add anything because simple is stunning.

If you want to write on your cake with icing, a good hint is to use a toothpick to trace out your message first.  Then, go over it with your icing using a fine point tip.  Also, a bit of food coloring to a bit of white icing will make things pop without causing a bunch of stress.  (Though, to be honest, in the cake pictured above, I did use a different flavor for the orange icing.  I saw it Wal-Mart and thought it would be a fun flavor to try since it was Orange-sicle.  It was quite yummy, by the way.)

One final hint from a Southern gal:  set your cake on a pretty plate.  The plate doesn’t have to be expensive, just decorative.  The one in the picture is a plastic plate from the Dollar Tree.  But, because of the design, it adds a bit of glamor to a rather ordinary birthday cake.

And once you’ve done all that, go rest so you can enjoy your Sunday.

*I learned most of these hints on Pinterest, but the mayo/sour cream one came from my step-mom.  I’ve done it for years, and it works wonders.

Happy Baking!  And feel free to share your baking tips and shortcuts.

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Oreo Truffles

Oreo truffles

Oh sweet, heavenly goodness!  I have a rich dessert recipe for you today.  You know of Oreos, and you know of truffles.  After this post, you will know of Oreo Truffles.  I’m talking Oreos, cream cheese, and vanilla almond bark, folks.  Your tongue will slap your teeth out trying to get to them.  These little gems are simple and fairly quick, especially if you utilize a food processor, a microwave, and a freezer.  I used the recipe from here:  http://www.chef-in-training.com/2011/11/no-bake-oreo-truffles.html.  I figure there are dozens of different versions floating around out there, though, probably even versions from the Oreo and Philadelphia Cream Cheese websites.  In fact, what I ended up doing was different, even from where I got a recipe to follow.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package of regular Oreos, finely crushed
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 package of vanilla almond bark (You can use chocolate if you prefer or even get some different flavored dipping candies from a baking or craft store.)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, finely crush the Oreos.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the Oreo crumbs with the cream cheese until it is uniformly mixed.
  3. Ball up the Oreo mixture by the tablespoon, roll between your hands to make a smooth ball, and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4.  Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden the Oreo balls.
  5. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl (Glass works well.), melt the almond bark according the package directions.
  6. Dip each Oreo ball in the melted almond bark to coat and place back on the baking sheet.
  7. Return to the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden the candy coating.
  8. Enjoy!  (And have some water or milk to wash them down because they take sweet to new levels.)

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