Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Southern Praline Cake

Note:   The holidays call for something decadent and this Southern Praline Cake definitely fits the bill.

Southern Praline Cake

For the cake:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For praline icing:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
4 large eggs yolks
1 large can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans

Grease and flour three nine-inch round cake pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Cream the butter with both granulated sugar and light brown sugar until very light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt and add to the batter alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract.  Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the layers comes out clean. Cool layers in their pans over a rack for ten minutes, then loosen and turn out layers directly onto racks for cooling. Cool layers thoroughly before icing. 
For the icing, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, then stir in granulated sugar and light brown sugar. (Sugars will not dissolve).  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the evaporated milk until smooth, then whisk this mixture into the saucepan with the sugar mixture. Return saucepan to a medium heat setting and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick, shiny and caramel-like, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans.   Cool icing to a good spreading consistency (about 30 minutes), then spread evenly between cooled cake layers and over the top and sides of the cake.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fudge Pound Cake

Note:  Pound cakes are delicious, but this fudge pound cake is so good you might not want to share with your family.  

Fudge Pound Cake

1/2 lb. butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
1 T. vanilla

Fudge Icing:
1/4 cup butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
Pet milk

Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. Add vanilla. Bake in a greased and floured tube pan at 275 degrees for 1 hour then at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Ice with Fudge Icing (recipe below).

Fudge Icing: Melt butter and chocolate. Add to sugar and vanilla. Add milk to desired consistency. Beat well.    Pour over cake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make Ahead Green Bean Bundles

Note:   When Thanksgiving and Christmas day arrives, I don't want to be in the kitchen the entire morning.    I would rather be with my family.   I try to prep things ahead of time so that I can enjoy the day with my sweet boys.

Make Ahead Green Bean Bundles

fresh green beans

Boil green beans for 3 minutes; let cool. Use string to tie beans in serving-size bundles, place in a zipper bag and freeze. When ready to cook, remove string and wrap each bundle with a strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pecan Bars

Ingredients:  I forgot I had this recipe, but it is so easy.   I am going to bake these up and see what the guys think.   If they like them I think I will make them when we go to Gatlinburg to spend time with hubs' family for Thanksgiving.

Pecan Bars

1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F.  Unroll dough and press in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of a 9x13-inch pan.  Firmly press perforations to seal.  Bake 8 minutes.  Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour filling over partially baked crust.  Bake 18 to 22 minutes longer or until golden brown.  Cool completely, about 1 hour, and cut into bars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bacon Stuffed Tomatoes

Note:  My boys live by the motto that everything is better with bacon.    Tomatoes are not their favorite thing so we will be testing out that motto with this recipe! 

Bacon Stuffed Tomatoes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (16-oz.) pkg. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (can use real bacon bits)
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the top off each cherry tomato. Using a melon baller, carefully scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place each tomato upside down on a paper towel to drain. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Stuff each cherry tomato with the bacon mixture. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to blend flavors. (Stuffing mixture, without the bacon, can be prepared the night before and refrigerated.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sugar Cookie Truffles

Note:  These sugar cookie truffles are extremely versatile.   You can tint the white chocolate if you like or simply put an appropriate themed sprinkle on top to give it the look you want.  

Sugar Cookie Truffles

1 16 oz. package of sugar cookie dough
1.5 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
4 oz white melting chocolate OR 1 cup white chips
1 T. shortening
sprinkles for garnish

Bake cookies according to package directions...BUT baking until cookies are crisp, but NOT burned.
Cool cookies completely on wire rack before moving on to the next step. Line baking sheet with wax paper. 
Crumble the cookies into the food processor.  Process until the cookies are a fine crumb. Add the cream cheese and process until the mixture starts to hold together. Don't worry it won't be too sticky. 
Roll mixture into 1" balls placing on prepared baking sheet and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.   You can leave them in the freezer at this point until closer for the holidays or take them out and dip them now.
(I would not advise freezing them after dipping them in chocolate.)  
Melt white chocolate and shortening on medium power in 30 second intervals until just melted, stirring well after each interval.   Dip each ball into white chocolate with a fork tapping off the excess.  Return to baking sheet to set.  Sprinkle with sprinkles while white chocolate is still wet.


Friday, November 11, 2011

White Chocolate PB Krispies

Note:   Maybe I shouldn't have bought so many boxes of Rice Krispies???   Yea, that is what I thought too!  *smile*

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Krispies

2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter
2 pounds white chocolate chips (2 12-oz packages plus 1 1/3 cup)

In a large bowl, combine cereal, peanuts and marshmallows. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and peanut butter on High for 1 minute and then in 30 second intervals until fully melted. Stir chocolate into cereal mixture. Mixture will be slightly runny. Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper. Let set until firm, 2 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Note:    Go ahead and plan on baking a couple of these.     Whether you serve them as a sweet breakfast treat or as a snack with coffee to drop in guests, you will be glad you have a couple in the freezer!   

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 s eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
¼ cup butter
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 F.

Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture alternately with sour cream, mix on low speed only to combine. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined. Do not over mix as this toughens the cake.

Combine topping ingredients to form a crumbly mixture and sprinkle over batter.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Drink

Note:   Technically, mixing all the ingredients for this tummy warming drink doesn't qualify as "baking", but I am always glad to know that I have batches of this ready in my freezer for the holiday season.    We plan to spend some time this fall in Gatlinburg and I am thinking of making a batch to take with us up there to enjoy on the front porch of our cabin.   Mmmm... toasty!

Christmas Drink

64 ounce cranberry juice
64 ounce apple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 T cinnamon
1 T whole cloves
2/3 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a large stockpot.    Warm over medium heat until sugar is melted.     Remove the cloves from the mixture.    When ready to serve, garnish with orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Butterfingers

Note:   Butterfingers are my son's favorite candy.    I did not know if he would eat these instead of his store bought version, but I was so wrong.   These are very delicious!

Homemade Butterfingers
1 lb. candy corn
16oz jar peanut butter (about 2 cups)
16oz pkg. chocolate candy coating or milk chocolate chips

Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals til melted, stirring after each interval. Stir in peanut butter. Spread mixture in an 8x8 pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. I refrigerated mine to speed up the process. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Note:    Baking these chewy gingerbread cookies will definitely get you in the mood for the upcoming holidays.    The problem will be resisting eating all of their warm chewy goodness as they come out  of the oven.    Maybe you should double the batch so that you can eat some and put some into the freezer.  After all, isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?   Baking so we can enjoy the holidays?

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
2 Tbsp baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp of boiling water
1/3 cup sugar

Sift flour, cocoa and spices into large bowl.  In bowl of electric mixer (with whisk attachment), add butter and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.  Slowly add in molasses, and continue to beat until incorporated.  In batches, beat in flour, alternating with baking soda/water mix.  Shape dough into large disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Shape dough into small balls (1/2″ to 1″). Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined in parchment paper.   Refrigerate 10-15 minutes.  Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar, flatten with palms slightly and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely before eating.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hot Chocolate Mix

Note:   We drink a lot of hot chocolate during the holidays and it seems to be a favorite of all of our guests as we sit around the table playing games and talking.    Having big batches of hot chocolate mix always helps.  

Hot Chocolate Mix

1 Box Instant powdered milk (The size that makes 8 quarts)
1 – 6 ounce jar powdered coffee creamer (either plain or flavored)
1 – 2 pound box Nestle’s Quik
1 pound powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together in large container. Store in sealed container until ready to use. To make hot cocoa, fill mug 1/3 full with mix and add hot water, stir.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls

Note:    Is there anything more fun than having friends come and visit for the holidays?  
We LOVE it.   If we have friends visiting I don't want to have to spend too much time in the kitchen.   Having these cinnamon rolls in the freezer makes breakfast easy and delicious.

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 c. very warm water
1 T. sugar
2 T. yeast
1/2 c. melted butter
2 eggs
2 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. warm milk
5 1/2 c. flour
brown sugar
powdered sugar

Combine water, 1 T. sugar and yeast.  Set aside for 5 minutes to activate. Mix 1/2 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, and salt.  Add yeast mixture.  Stir in warm milk. Add 5 cups flour, 1-2 cups at a time. Knead dough on a well-floured surface, adding flour as necessary, until dough isn’t sticky. Let rise until double in a clean, oiled bowl.  Punch down risen dough.  Separate into two pieces. Roll out dough in a large rectangle.  Spread with softened butter.  Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Roll dough. Cut your dough into about 12 (1-inch) rolls.  (Tip: the best way I have found to cut is with dental floss). 
Lay them in a pan and let them freeze.

When ready to bake.   Place in a greased pan.  Set out on the counter overnight to let rise.  Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes.  Spread icing while hot.

For icing, melt butter (about 2 T.).  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 T. milk.  Sift powdered sugar into mixture and stir well until icing consistency.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake

Note:   Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies.    Putting that delicious flavor into this bundt cake is the best of both worlds to me.   I hope to make several of these over the weekend and get them into the freezer to have for the holiday season!   YUMMY!

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake

2 t ground cinnamon

1 C white sugar

2 1/2 C flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
2 t vanilla
1 C full-fat sour cream at room temperature 

In a small bowl, combine 1 C sugar and 2 t cinnamon. Mix it together well. Generously grease the inside of your bundt pan with shortening, or spray heavily with Pam Cooking Spray With Added Flour.  Gently dust the entire inside of your pan with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Be sure you get inside all the little nooks. You will most likely only use about 1/3 C of the mixture. Set aside the leftovers to use in the middle of the cake.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set the good little mixture aside for later.  In a Kitchen Aid mixer or using hand held beaters beat the softened butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the white sugar and mix for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the brown sugar. Mix for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a full minute after each one.
Stir in the vanilla.  Grab your good little dry mixture and add it alternately with the sour cream. When both sour cream and all of the dry mixture are added continue to mix for 2 minutes.  Spread 1/2 the batter into your pan. Pour the leftover cinnamon and sugar over the top. Spread the rest of your batter over the top.
Bake at 325 degrees for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doughnut Muffins

Note:   It is my turn to provide breakfast for the students of our youth ministry at church.     It always helps our students to wake up and get started with the morning when they can grab a cup of something warm to drink and a light breakfast.      These doughnut muffins always seem to be a big hit.
Doughnut Muffins

Batter Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste (I used ¾)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

Glaze Ingredients
3 Tbsp butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
Add the eggs, beating to combine.  Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.  Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.   Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.  In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth.
When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice.  Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Note:   It is time to start baking and putting things in the freezer so that when the holidays roll around you won't get stressed trying to provide things for all the parties you will be attending.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

2 cups
(4 sticks) butter, softened
1-3/4 cups  powdered sugar, divided
3-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup  cornstarch
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted


Beat butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour and cornstarch; mix well. Stir in nuts. Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten slightly with bottom of glass.   Place pans in freezer and allow to freeze.    Put cookie dough balls into zip loc bags and label well before putting into freezer.

To bake:    Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 13 min. or until centers are set and tops are lightly browned; cool on baking sheets 5 min. Add warm cookies, 1 at a time, to remaining sugar; turn to evenly coat both sides of each. Cool completely on wire racks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little Guy's White Bean Chili

Note:   We are joining family for Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg.    We are going to take turns preparing the evening meal.    Because I hate the thought of being stuck in the kitchen, I am preparing my son's white bean chicken chili and putting it in the freezer.   It will be the perfect thing to throw in the crockpot right after breakfast as we are leaving to go hiking for the day.     When we arrive home I can bake some cornbread and we will can relax with the family in front of a nice fire.
Little Guy's White Bean Chicken Chili

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounces salsa
4 cans Great Northern Beans (15 Oz), loosely drained
2 cups Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
4 ounces green chilies
8 ounces frozen corn
3/4 c. sour cream
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
12 ounces chicken stock
salt And pepper

Melt butter in large skillet. Add garlic. Brown chicken breasts in butter and garlic. Remove chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Add pieces of chicken to the crock pot. Add salsa, green chilies, chicken stock and spices to the crock pot. Stir to mix. Add beans, corn, and cheese and stir again. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before serving add sour cream and stir.

Serve over rice or Fritos and top with more sour cream and cheese. Yummy!

Baking for the Holidays

Today I am trying to get a head start on the holidays by doing a little baking or cooking each day.   I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.    What steals the joy out of it for me is all the busy stuff that comes along.    I find if I can work a little bit ahead of time then when the holidays arrive, I can truly enjoy them.     I guess that all boils down to planning.     However, there are some things in life for which you just can't plan.