Friday, February 20, 2015

Pistachio Pineapple Cake

My hubby loves pistachio pudding.  I love pistachio salad (you know the one . . .green and fluffy . .. I don't think I have the recipe on here though).  Any how, I married the two and made it into a cake:  white cake, pistachio pudding mix, pineapple and coconut.  I know, I know . . .I have a coconut obsession.  If you don't like coconut, omit it from the recipe.  But don't let that hinder you from making this crazy delicious and moist cake!

Pistachio Pineapple Cake

1 Box White Cake Mix (16.5 oz Box)
3 Eggs
1 Cup Ginger Ale
3/4 Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 (20-oz) Can Crushed Pineapple, Drained Well
1 Box Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix (3.4 oz Box)
1 Cup Coconut Flakes

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13 cake pan and set aside.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, add your dry cake mix, dry pudding mix, the eggs, ginger ale and oil.  Mix well for 2 minutes on medium with an electric mixer.  Fold in the pineapple and coconut.

Step 3:  Pour batter into cake pan and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting the cake.  

Step 4:  Top with Pistachio-Cool Whip Frosting (recipe below)

Pistachio-Cool Whip Frosting:
1 Box Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix (3.4 oz Box)
1 Small Tub Cool Whip (8 oz)
1 Cup Coconut

Mix all above ingredients together.  Let sit in the fridge for 1/2 hour before frosting the cake so that the flavors blend.  

Store Frosted Cake in the Refrigerator!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Peanutty Pork Noodle Bowl

I just love, love, love Asian inspired food.  And I especially love peanut sauce.  In this recipe, you'll get that great peanutty flavor married with pasta, pork and veggies . . .and there is a nice kick too.  Bonus is that you don't need any obscure ingredients on hand to make this dish.  Yum.

Peanutty Pork Noodle Bowl
Serves 4-6

1.5 LBS Boneless Chops
8 oz Think Spaghetti or Angel Hair Pasta
1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
6 Green Onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Cup Carrot, Shredded
1 Cup Sugar Snap Peas
3 Teaspoons Chopped Garlic
2 Teaspoons Ginger (powdered)
1 and 1/2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter

Step 1:  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid for later in the recipe.  Drain the pasta and set aside.

Step 2:  Prep your pork by patting it dry and then slicing it into thin strips, about an inch long.  In a large fry pan, heat the oil and add the pork and crushed red pepper.  

Step 3:  Once the pork is browned (approx 5-10 minutes), add the green onion, carrots, sugar snap peas, ginger and garlic.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are heated.

Step 4:  To the pork pan, add the chicken broth, soy sauce and peanut butter.  Continue to cook and stir until all the peanut butter is melted and incorporated.  

Step 5:  Toss with the pasta.  If it seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Easy Shepard's Pie Hot Dish

Looking for a great make-ahead meal that is full of comfort?  Give this shepard's pie hot dish a chance and you will leave your family wanting more.  I personally like this recipe because 1) it uses real mashed potatoes and 2) it doesn't have a ton of mashed potatoes.  If you really like mashed potatoes, you may want to double the potatoes (and milk/butter accordingly).

Easy Shepard's Pie Hot Dish
Serves 6-8

2 LBS Ground Beef
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Large Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
Salt and Pepper
1-14.5 oz Can Carrots
1-14.5 oz Can of Peas
1.5 LBS Potatoes (approx 4 - 6 medium sized)
1/2 - 3/4 Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Butter
3 Packettes of Dry Gravy Mix ("Brown" flavor or Beef flavored) + Ingredients to Prepare it - or 3 Cups of Prepared Gravy

Step 1:  Peel your potatoes and cut them into quarters.  Place into a large pot and cover them with enough water so that there is an inch of water above them.  Place on stove and bring to boil.  Let boil for 15 - 20 minutes, until fork tender.  Drain and return to the pot.  Mash the the potatoes and add 1/2 cup milk and the butter.  Continue to mash until creamy.  If they seem dry, add a bit more milk and mash again.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Meanwhile, in a large fry pan, brown your hamburger along with the onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook until well browned.  Taste - season with salt and pepper.  Go scant on the salt, as the gravy will add some salt to the finished dish.

Step 3:  Prepare the gravy according package instructions, this should yield 3 cups of finished gravy.

Step 4:  In a 9x13 cake pan, add the hamburger mixture.  Next, drain the peas and carrots and add them to the hamburger.  Mix to combine.  Pour the gravy over the top and mix to combine again.  Dot the mashed potatoes on top (I put 8-blobs on mine and then spread them out a bit).  There will not be enough mashed potatoes to evenly spread on top - which is why you 'dot' them.

Step 5:  If you plan to eat immediately, bake it in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  

Step 5 (if making ahead):  Do not bake now.  Cover the pan and store in the fridge up to 2 days.  Then, bake uncovered in a preheated oven to 350 degrees for 1 hour until hot and bubbly.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Black & Tan: PB and Chocolate Cookies

You've heard of the Black and White Cookie.  And then there is the drink called Black and Tan.  Well, meet the new Black and Tan:  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie.  Such a simple recipe with a classic flavor profile.  These cookies are very tender and soft.  Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!

Black and Tan:   PB and Chocolate Cookies
Yield:  Approx 3 Dozen Cookies

1/4 Cup Shortening
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
1 and 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 12-oz Bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Step 2:  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, shortening, butter and peanut butter.

Step 3:  In a seperate bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, baking soda salt

Step 4:  Add the egg to the creamed mixture and stir until well blended.  

Step 5:  Incorporate the flour mixture into the creamed mixture to make your cookie dough.  Stir until well combined.

Step 6:  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 2 hours or overnight.  It must be well chilled before baking!

Once the dough is chilled . . .

Step 7:  Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit and prepare your baking sheets by greasing them.

Step 8:  Portion out the cookie dough into 1 tablespoon lumps.  I use a small cookie scoop which yields uniformed sized cookies.   With a fork, lightly press down on the top of cookies.  Do this again except press them in the opposite direction so that you get a nice criss-cross pattern on the cookie.  Be sure not to flatten them too much.  This should be done with a light hand, just enough pressure to indent.

Step 9:  Bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven, let sit for 2 or 3 minutes to slightly cool, then remove them with a spatula to a cooling rack.  Be sure to let them cool on the pan first - otherwise these will tear apart if you remove them right away.

Repeat Steps 8 and 9 until all cookies are baked.  Once cooled . . . .

Step 10:  In microwave bowl, place the chocolate chips.  Microwave on low for 30 second intervals, stirring in between interval, until smooth and melted.

Step 11:  Gently 'frost' half of each cookie with the chocolate.  Return to cooling rack to let the chocolate set up.  Once chocolate is set, store the cookies in an air-tight container with sheets of wax paper in-between each layer to prevent sticking.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Italian Cream Cake

Many moons ago I worked in an absolutely wonderful coffee shop while attending college.  I loved working there;  I loved my coworkers, I loved the owners, I loved the customers, I loved the beverages and even the food.  Each day we had a cake of the day.  It would be a beautiful cake displayed on a pedestal cake stand and when it was gone, it was gone.  Whenever I would open the shop up for the day, you can guarantee that I had a slice of the cake du jour for breakfast.  After all, it displayed best with 1 slice missing so that the customers could see the luscious, tender inside of the cake.  Am I right, or am I right?  It really was  a service ;)  

Of all the cakes served, my favorite was the Italian Cream Cake.  It's mild flavor of butter and vanilla mixed with shredded coconut, cherries, cream cheese and nuts made for a party of absolute delight on my palate.  No one ingredient out-shined the other. It was just soooooooo good.  

And the other day, I woke up and thought to myself, "Self, I could really go for some Italian Cream Cake from Moxie."  And then it began.  I don't live in that state any more, so I had to find a recipe to replicate it.  I think the flavor of this recipe nailed it.  However, I would have like the texture to have been a teensy bit air-ier.  Is that even a word?  Basically, it wasn't as fluffy as I would have liked.  So, I will likely make this again and experiment a bit.  In the meantime, try this version. I am addicted.

Italian Cream Cake

1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Sugar
5 Large Eggs, Separated and Room Temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Flaked Coconut
1 10 oz Jar of Maraschino Cherries

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8-oz Brick of Cream Cheese
1 Pound Powdered Sugar (approximately 4-5 Cups)
1/2 Cup Butter (1 Stick)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Toasted Nut of Choice (Walnuts, Pecans or Hazelnuts)

Cake Directions:
Step 1:  Prepare your cake pan of choice with grease and flour.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:  Drain the Maraschino cherries and reserve the juice for a later date (aka - add it to a cola for a cherry cola!).  Dry the cherries on a paper towel - they need to be super dry.  At this point, you can either leave them whole or cut them in 1/2.  I prefer to cut each on in half. Next, in a small bowl add 1 TB of flour.  Add the cherries and stir to coat; set aside.

Step 3:  In a bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside.

Step 4:  In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, shortening and butter until well combined.   Add the egg yolks and vanilla; beat until combined. Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter/sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Gently fold in coconut.

Step 5:  In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight up). Fold about one-third of the egg whites into cake batter.  Then, fold in the remaining whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the cherries over the top of the batter (they will sink to the middles while baking).

Step 6:  If using a 9x13, bake about 35 - 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before frosting it.

Frosting Directions:
Step 1:  In a large mixer bowl, add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Add a 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  Add in another 1/2 cup and beat again until well combined.  Continue doing this until all the powdered sugar is added and the frosting is rich and creamy.

To Assemble:
Frost the cooled caked with the Cream Cheese Frosting.  Sprinkle with toasted nut of choice (I used hazelnuts).  Enjoy!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Corn Flake Crispies

Need a quick sugar fix?  I love these bars.  Super easy and quick to make.  Crispy, chewy and yummy.  They are very similar to Rice Krispy Squares, except they are made with corn flakes.  Please refer to the note on the bottom of the page for an additional fun idea!

Corn Flake Crispies

1/2 Cup Butter
1 Pound (16 ounces) of Marshmallows
1  Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
8 Cups Corn Flakes
Pan Spray or Extra Butter (for greasing the pan)

Step 1:  Butter or grease a 9x13 cake pan with pan spray.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.

Step 3:  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. 

Step 4:  Add corn flakes cereal. Stir until well coated.

Step 5:  Pour mixture into prepared cake pan and spread out evenly and pat down.   Let stand for 15 minutes.  Cut and serve.  Store covered.

Note:  This is the same basic recipe you  would use to make Corn Flake Wreaths at Christmas-time.  To do so, use the same above recipe.  During Step 3, add 2 teaspoons of green food coloring.  Skip Step 5.  Instead, layout a large sheet of wax paper and using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup coated with cooking spray, evenly portion the warm cereal mixture out onto the wax paper. Using buttered fingers, quickly shape into individual wreaths. Dot with cinnamon candies or small red M&Ms.  Here is a picture I snapped before my daughter made the hole in the center on the two end wreaths.  The recipe will make a dozen plus wreaths.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pannekoeken (Puffy Pancake)

Pannekooken or Pannekoeken or Dutch Baby or . . .Puffy Pancake?  Regardless of how you spell or say it, it is super yummy.  Pannekoeken is a type of pancake that is baked in a pie plate via the oven and it puffs up around the edge.  There was once a restaurant called Panekoeken and when ever someone would order one, the server would briskly walk to the table with the order while yelling "Pannekoekennnnnnnnnnn!".  And I cannot tell a lie, it had been a very long time since I had one.  And then I watched a Christmas episode of Bob's Burgers and they reference a Dutch Baby.  And then I had to have one.  No mistake.  I needed one ASAP.

What makes this so yummy though?  I love it because it's almost like a cross between a pancake and popover.  It puffs, has a crusty edge and an almost custard/eggy (yet firm) bottom.  I just love the texture.  And the taste is divine by itself, rich and buttery.  However, you can top it however you would like.  Please note, in my photo, I made a "double".  I have an extra-large, deep dish round pan that holds the volume of a standard cake mix.  To make the recipe below, use a standard pie dish.

Pannekoeken (Puffy Pancake) 
Serves 2

2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup Chopped Apples (optional)
2 TB Butter, Melted

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Meanwhile, mix eggs, milk and flour together in a bowl.  Add chopped apples (if using).  
Step 2:  Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a pie pan.  Pour in the batter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes.  The sides will puff up over the edge - and that's part of what makes this awesome!  

Serve immediately.  To serve, slice into wedges and eat as you would a regular pancake.  I served mine with a cherry compote.  This makes a great breakfast treat or simple dessert.  Amazing.