Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fried Rice

Note:   Little Guy received a wok from his Aunt K and Uncle T for his birthday.    Boy are we enjoying all the delicious things he has been making!      One of the basic things he makes that we enjoy is fried rice. 

Fried Rice

3 cups cooked white rice (boiled - great way to use leftover rice)
soy sauce
2/3 cup chopped baby carrots (we like carrot strips)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
sesame oil, to taste

In a small saucepan, boil carrots for about 3 minutes.   Pour peas into boiling water.    Drain vegetables.   Heat wok over high heat.    Pour in oil and stir in carrots and peas.     Cook about 30 seconds.   Stir in cooked rice.   Shake in soy sauce.     Toss to coat.   Drizzle with sesame oil and toss again.     Serve.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Robert E. Lee Cake

Note:    Since we were cooking for Little Guy's reading of Little House on the Prairie, I couldn't leave out Big Guy who is reading a book on Robert E. Lee.    Did you know that there is a Robert E. Lee cake?   There IS!   And it is good!

Robert E. Lee Cake


2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
8 eggs, separated and room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (peel)
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Filling (see recipe below)
Lemon-Orange Frosting (see recipe below)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, and baking powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat beat egg yolks until very thick and creamy. Gradually add sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, and continue beating until mixture is smooth and pale yellow. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice; gently fold in the flour mixture until well incorporated.

In a large bowl of your electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter, then fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.

Spoon batter into prepare cake pans. Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from sides of the pan. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto wire cooling racks to finish cooling.

Prepare the Lemon Filling and Lemon-Orange Frosting.

When cake is completely cool, with a long-blade serrated knife, cut each layer horizontally in half to make four (4) layers.

Spread Lemon Filling between layers of the cooled cake. To keep cake from sliding to one side, insert a long wooden skewer into the middle and all the way to the bottom. Spread Lemon-Orange Frosting on sides and top of the cake.

Store cake in the refrigerator until serving time.

Makes 8 to 10 serving.

Lemon Filling

3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (rind)
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 2/4 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until it has melted. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to room temperature.

When cool, beat eggs into the lemon-sugar mixture until well blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat.

Cool in refrigerator until ready to use.

Lemon-Orange Frosting

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (peel)
3 to 4 tablespoons grated orange zest (peel)
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
6 cups sifted powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

In a medium bowl, beat butter until it has the appearance of thick cream. Beat in the lemon zest, orange zest, and lemon juice. Stir in the powdered sugar and orange juice, a little at a time; continue beating until mixture is very smooth (stir in enough orange juice to make a spreadable frosting).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heart Shaped Christmas Cakes

Note:  Mary and Laura pulled out two small packages. They unwrapped them, and each found a little heart-shaped cake. Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar.” - Little House on the Prairie      You may remember the the Little House pilot which included the scene where Mr. Edwards walked through a snow storm to deliver Christmas presents to the Ingalls. The story ends with Ma finally warming up to the uncivilized Mr. Edwards and Laura and Mary finding heart shaped Christmas cakes in their stockings.

Heart Shaped Christmas Cakes

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Flour for sprinkling
Granulated (white sugar) sugar for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 325°.
Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until they are light and fluffy. Stir in the flour.
On a floured board, pat the dough out in a circle about 1/3″ thick. Cut out shapes with the cookie cutter. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Put the heart shapes on the cookie sheet and bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Take them out of the oven and sprinkle more granulated sugar on the tops. Carefully remove the cakes from the cookie sheet with the spatula and put them on the wire rack to cool.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little House Popcorn Balls

Note:    This is the most fun recipe we have tried so far.    "Laura kept popping corn and Ma made it into balls until the large dishpan was heaped with their sweet crispness." (These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder) These bite-size popcorn balls are just the right size for "Half-Pint", Mary, and little sister Carrie. 

Little House Popcorn Balls

20  cups  air-popped popcorn (from 2/3 to 1 cup kernels; see Notes)
1 1/4  cups  butter, cut into chunks, plus more for your hands
1 1/4  cups  honey
3/4  teaspoon  salt
2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°. Put popcorn in a large roasting pan. Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper.In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together 1 1/4 cups butter, the honey, and salt until butter is melted. Increase heat and boil honey mixture gently 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla.   Carefully pour honey mixture over popcorn in roasting pan and stir gently to coat. Bake popcorn, stirring every 5 minutes, until deep golden all over, about 25 minutes.   Let popcorn stand 5 minutes, or just until cool enough to handle. Working quickly with lightly buttered hands, press small handfuls of the mixture into 1 1/2-in. balls, occasionally loosening popcorn from bottom of pan with a spatula. If mixture cools too much to be malleable, return it to oven for about 45 seconds to soften.   Put popcorn balls on prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple Butter

Note:  The next recipe in our Little House on the Prairie reading series is apple butter.   "Then Laura gathered up all the paper wrappings, and she helped Ma set on the table the big platter of golden, fried mush, a plate of hot biscuits, a dish of fried potatoes, a bowl of codfish gravy and a glass dish full of dried-apple sauce." (By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder) This recipe uses fresh apples instead of dried, but we think Laura would have liked this on her biscuits.

Apple Butter

4  pounds  Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1  cup  apple cider
1/4  cup  packed dark brown sugar
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
1/4  teaspoon  salt
Dash of ground cloves
2  (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1  star anise
Combine apples and cider in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until apples are tender.   Place apple mixture in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until chunky. Return to pan.  Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat 1 hour or until thick, stirring occasionally. Discard cinnamon and star anise. Cover and chill.   Note: Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

Note:   "Caroline (who later became known as "Ma") waited impatiently, trying hard not to look at the tall, steaming stack of hotcakes. The very last thing Mother put on the table was the sugar syrup. Now they all sat down." (Little House in Brookfield, Laura Ingalls Wilder)        This next recipe inspired by Little Guy's reading of the Little House books is buttermilk pancakes.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1  cup  all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons  baking powder
1  teaspoon  baking soda
1  teaspoon  sugar
1/2  teaspoon  salt
3/4  cup  buttermilk
1/2  cup  milk
1  large egg
2  tablespoons  butter, melted and cooled

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk, milk, egg, and butter in a separate bowl; add to flour mixture, and whisk just until blended. Transfer to a large measuring cup, and let stand 10 minutes.   Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or nonstick pan. Cook until pancakes are covered with bubbles and edges turn brown. Turn and cook other side 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fried Pork Chops with Gravy

Note:   Little Guy is reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series which means he has become interested in the foods that they mention in the books.     We are making things that we find in the books as he finds them.    Pa needed a "stick to your ribs" when he came in from the fields.     Fried pork chops with gravy would have filled his big appetite.

Fried Pork Chops with Gravy

1  cup  all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon  Cajun seasoning
1/4  teaspoon  garlic powder
1/4  teaspoon  pepper
8  (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork chops
1  cup  nonfat buttermilk
Vegetable cooking spray
3  tablespoons  vegetable oil
1  cup  fat-free milk
1/4  teaspoon  salt
Garnish: coarse ground pepper

Reserve 2 tablespoons flour, and set aside. Place remaining flour in a shallow dish.  Combine Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper. Rub pork chops evenly on both sides with seasoning mixture.
Dip pork in buttermilk; dredge in flour. Lightly coat both sides of pork with cooking spray.
Cook pork, in batches, in hot oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.  Add reserved 2 tablespoons flour to pan drippings in skillet; stir in milk and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Serve immediately with pork. Garnish, if desired.