Friday, August 26, 2016

Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles

Here is a very, easy delicious recipe for Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles.  Perfect for those who don't have a garden with cucumbers and for those who don't want to can or put-up pickles.  Rather, this recipe can use store-bought cucumbers and is a cinch to make.  In fact, you don't even need to peel them . . .but's it's okay if you do.  It is totally up to you!  The hardest part is actually letting them set for a day before eating them!  

Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles
Serves Several

7 Cups of Thinly Sliced Cucumbers (about 3 average-sized cukes)
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Cups White Vinegar
2 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
1 Tablespoon Celery Seeds
1 Cup Thinly Sliced White or Yellow Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced (optional)

Step 1:  Mixed the cucumbers with the 1 Tablespoon of salt.  Cover with water and let stand for 4 hours.

Step 2:  While the cucumbers are hanging out, you can make the brine.  In a sauce pan, heat the vinegar and sugar until it's dissolved.  Once dissolved, add the mustard seed, celery seed, onions and green pepper.  Stir to combine.  Set aside to let cool.  

Step 3:  After the cucumbers have sat for 4 hours, drain and rinse them.  Place back in the bowl and pour the brine over the cucumbers.  Cover tightly and keep in the fridge.  Let sit overnight or for a day before serving.

Step 3 Alternative:  After the cucumbers have sat for 4 hours, drain and rinse them.  Pack them as best you can into pint-sized mason jars (or larger).  Really be sure to pack them in, if you don't super-pack them in, you won't have enough brine!  Once the cukes are in the jars, ladle the brine into the jars - making sure to fill them to the top so that the all the cukes are covered in the brine.  Cover with the lid and store in the fridge.

These pickles usually last a couple weeks in the fridge. . . .providing you don't inhale them right away!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Coconut Almond Cake

Y'all know I can't resist baking myself a scrumptious, decadent birthday cake.  In fact, I would be personally offended if my family bought me a cake.  That's how much I love to bake cakes.  Seriously.  I'm not even joking one bit.  And the cake for this year's birthday?  Coconut Almond.  And it is absolutely fabulous.  Velvety, soft, golden cake with a slight texture from the coconut and almonds.  Excellent flavor, amazing texture.  

This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Coconut Cream Cake recipe from his book "Emeril's TV Dinners".  (psbytheway:  I (heart) Emeril).   Something I should mention:  the original recipe calls for the cake to be baked in three 8-inch pans.  I used two 9-inch pans and adjusted the baking time.  The pans were very full, but it worked out fine.  I frosted the cake with a very silky smooth frosting made with coconut milk.  It is pretty unbelievable.  If using this frosting, I recommend storing the cake in the fridge as the frosting can get a little soft.  I also sandwiched some maraschino cherries between the cake layers.  It was a fun idea, but it really didn't add much flavor.  The cake is amazing without the cherries :)

Coconut Almond Cake
Serves 16

2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
5 Large Eggs, separated
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Cup Sliced or Blanched Almonds
1 Cup Unsweetened, Flaked Coconut
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Coconut Extract (optional)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (or three 8-inch pans).  Set aside.

Step 2:  In a food processor, grind the almonds and coconut.  Do not obliterate or over process.  You want them to turn into a nice crumb size.  Set aside.

Step 3:  In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter together.  Next, add the oil and mix until well combined.  Now, add the yolks one at a time, making sure they are blended in before adding the next one.  Also add the extracts at this time if you are choosing to use them.

Step 4:  Sift together the flour and baking soda.  Add the ground almonds and coconut.  Mix together.

Step 5:  Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well.  Set the batter aside.

Step 6:  In a clean bowl with clean mixer beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake for 25 - 45 minutes (depending on your pan size - shorter time if using three pans, longer time if using two pans).  They will be done when the center springs back when touched and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Step 7:  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cooled, remove from pans and frost per your discretion.

Coconut Cream Frosting
Yield:  5-6 Cups

1 (13.5 oz) Can Coconut Milk
1 Cup Butter, Room Temperature
1 and 1/2 Cups Shortening
5 Cups Powdered Sugar
Food Coloring (optional)
Extract of Choice (optional)

Step 1:  In the bowl of a large mixer, add the butter and shortening.  Beat until smooth.  

Step 2:  Add half the coconut milk to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  Add the remaining coconut milk and beat until smooth and well incorporated.

Step 3:  Add one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.  Repeat with the next cup of powdered sugar and continue to all the powdered sugar is incorporated.  Beat this for 3-4 minutes.  This will allow whip in some air to help stiffen up the frosting a bit.   If you feel it is still too smooth for you, add up to one more cup of powdered sugar.  At this time, taste and if you are happy with the flavor and texture - you are good to go.  Dye it if you please.  This is also the time to add the extract if you choose to use.

This is a very smooth and silky frosting with a slight coconut flavor.  Be sure to store in the fridge.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oven BBQ Pork Steaks

All the credit for this one goes to The Hubbs!   I came home from the j-o-b to find this in the oven, baking away.  It was sooooooooooooo good . . .very tender and absolutely sweet and delicious.  Best BBQ I've had in a long time.  I imagine this sauce would be good on other items too.  If you cannot find pork steaks, pork chops will be a great substitute.

Oven BBQ Pork Steaks
Serves 4

2-4 Pork Steaks
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Liquid Smoke - just a couple drops
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Nature's Seasoning (or Salt and Pepper)

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet or pan with nonstick spray.

Step 2: Place the pork steaks onto the baking sheet.  Season with Nature's Seasoning.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder.

Step 3:  In a bowl, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire and liquid smoke.  Pour over the steaks. 

Step 4:  Place in the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour.  If making chops instead of steaks, you may need to decrease the baking time.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cracked-Top Jello Cookies

Summertime.  We have a love-hate relationship.  I hate heat and humidity and sometimes even sunshine.  But I really do love the longer days and not wearing a coat.  As a child, I usually hid in the basement where it was cool and dark until the evening hours (my parent's house did not have air conditioning).  Then, in the cooler hours, I would go for long bike rides, hang out with friends and enjoy life.  One of the summertime staples that helped me through those long, dreaded, high humidity days - were these cookies.  They are definitely a summertime cookie - fruity, sweet and slightly tangy.  You can use any flavor Jello you want - experiment with your favorites!  I made a batch of orange ones and a batch of cherry lemonade as well.

Cracked-Top Jello Cookies
Yield: 3 - 4 dozen, depending on the size

1 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Shortening
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Small Package of Jello
Food Coloring (optional)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare your cookie sheets by greasing them.

Step 2:  In the bowl of a mixer, cream the sugars and shortening.  Add the egg and mix well.

Step 3:  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Please note, the food coloring is optional.

Step 4:  Roll dough into a 1-inch balls.  This cookie dough is a bit more dry than a usual cookie, so make sure you really roll them well. DO NOT FLATTEN THEM.  

Step 5:  Bake for 13-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on cooling rack.  Let cool.  

Can't help being overwhelmed with emotion each time I see my mother's handwriting!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Baked Potato Salad

Here is a quick and easy side dish or small meal.  All the wonderful flavors of a yummy loaded baked potato, except in salad form and served cold!  Sour cream, chives, garlic, onion, bacon . . .oh my!  I'm filing it under single-serve, but it could be two servings  . . .if you were the sharing type of person! 

Baked Potato Salad
Serves 1-2

1 Large Potato, Baked and Cooled
1/2 Small Onion, Diced Fine
1 Teaspoon Chives
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Nature's Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Bacon Bits
1 Tablespoon Cheddar Cheese

Step 1:  Cut the cooled, baked potato into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a medium sized bowl.

Step 2: Add the diced onion, chives, bacon bits and cheese to the bowl.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Time to make the dressing!  In a small bowl:  combine the sour cream milk, garlic powder, and Nature's Seasoning.  Stir well.

Step 4:  Pour the dressing over potatoes etc.  Gently stir to combine.  You can serve immediately - but if you let it chill for about a half hour, it tastes even better!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

Mmmmmmm....warm banana bread with chocolate chips.  Always a favorite.  But sometimes you just don't have an hour or two to commit to baking a full loaf of banana bread!  In this mug cake - you'll find all same flavors . . .just pared down to a few ingredients.  Look at that lovely color on mine!  That comes from a farm fresh egg :)  Regardless of if your eggs are store bought or from a local farmer . . .this mug cake will make your tummy smile and leave you feeling satisfied (without the hour long wait!).

Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
Serves 1 (Generously!!!)

1 Medium Ripe Banana, Mashed
1 Tablespoon Applesauce
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips

Step 1:  In a large mug, combine the mashed banana, applesauce, egg, milk and honey.  Stir well with a fork to combine.

Step 2:  To the mug, add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips.  Stir with the fork until well combined.

Step 3:  Place in microwave and cook for 1 minute.  If the center is firm (not jiggly) - it is done.  If it still appears jiggly - cook another 30 seconds.  Repeat in 30 second intervals until the center is no longer jiggly.  Mine took 2 minutes.

Step 4:  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Jalapeno Popper Toast

Okay, so this one isn't so much a recipe  . . .but more of just 'my favorite breakfast' or 'super-yummy snack'.  This could easily fall into that category of 'fancy toasts' that so seem to be all the rage lately.  I've been eating this forever.   Trust me.  Delish.

Jalapeno Popper Toast
Serves 1

1 Slice Bread 
1 - 2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
1 Teaspoon Jam of Choice
Sliced, Pickled Jalapenos
Bacon (optional)

Step 1:  Toast your bread.

Step 2:  Slather your bread with cream cheese.  Top with a bit of jelly or jam.  I used grape today - but raspberry is actually my favorite.

Step 3:  Top with sliced, pickled jalapenos.

Step 4 (optional):  Top with a few slices of bacon.  I did not have any today :(  Bacon makes everything better!

Step 5:  Enjoy!!