Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good Luck Dish

I don't like black eyed peas. I never really have, but I'm going to eat them this year. Maybe that's what has been my problem- I never ate them in the past. Every year on New Years Day, my MIL makes this nasty cold black eyed peas salad. (Can you tell I don't like them?) Everyone eats them but me. I pass. Last week I made our neighbors some cream cheese pumpkin bread. (Don't ask for the recipe, cause I made it up and I don't even know if it tasted good.) She returned the favor by bringing us a rice dish. I thought "Great, now I don't have to cook dinner." Then I took a closer look and saw it was black eyed peas and rice. Um, no thanks. I read the card she sent along with the dish and it said to eat on New Years Day, but I tasted it first. It was good! I am surprised. That doesn't mean I'm going to start eating them on a regular basis, but maybe this year I'll give them a try. I don't think my life can get any worse, so black eyed peas and rice is what I will be eatin'. We'll see if they bring me luck. Charlseton Hopping John by Martha S.
  • 1 c. rice, cooked
  • 1 can field peas or black eyed peas
  • 2 slices bacon (crumbled)
  • 1/4 c. onions
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice. While rice is cooking, fry the bacon. Pour off some of the grease. Add onions, saute with bacon. You may use some pea juice from the peas to cook onions. Add soy sauce, thyme poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add peas, then fold in rice. Serve on New Year's Day for good luck!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mr. H's Specialty

Mr. H is not a cook, but every once in a while he gets in the kitchen and makes me breakfast. He makes great cinnamon toast and scrambled eggs. I can't watch him make eggs, because his cooking method is completely opposite from mine (he cooks them on super high heat and I always think he's going to burn them or they're going to be rubbery), but I am impressed everytime by how good they are. Anyway, I never had cinnamon toast (besides cinnamon toast crunch) before I met him and now we have it about once a week. It's so good and easy. This would be good on Christmas morning because it feeds as little or as many as you need it to. I hope you make this, because it's the best!
Cinnamon Toast
  • sliced bread (white, wheat or whatever you like)
  • butter, softened
  • ground cinnamon
  • granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices of bread on cookie sheet and spread with softened butter. Use as much or as little as you want but make sure to cover the entire slice evenly. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar over each slice evenly. Bake for 14-15 minutes until bread is lightly toasted. Enjoy warm with a cup of coffee or a side of salty bacon!

NOTE: We sometimes use salted butter, because I like the saltiness with the sweet, but use whatever you have on hand. I've tried margarine and it works fine, but you don't get the crunchiness of the sugar like you do with butter.

I've made this in the toaster oven and it works well too, but check them at about 12 minutes, because they tend to cook faster than a conventional oven.

For the cinnamon sugar, add as much cinnamon to the sugar as you like. You can also buy premixed cinnamon sugar in a shaker can at the grocery store in the baking aisle. I've also made this with brown sugar mixed in and it's good too. It gives it a more caramel-ly flavor.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recipe Card

Nanny gave me this idea. Wanna make one of your own?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quick and Easy Like Me

My little brother, Aaron (12) helped me make these last weekend. He had great fun measuring out the ingredients, mixing, and rolling out the dough. I even made him clean up too. A boys gotta learn early, right? I think the most fun was decorating them and seeing how many different designs we could come up with. He made these for his parents for Christmas gifts. I'm sure they'll appreciate all the hard work and love that went into them.

Salt Dough Ornaments
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients is a medium bowl with a wooden spoon. Dough forms rather quickly. Remove dough and knead until smooth (a couple of minutes). Roll out onto floured surface until you reach the desired thickness of your ornaments. Mine were about 1/8" thick. Cut your shapes using your favorite cookie cutters or cut out shapes using a pairing knife. I've done both and have to say that cookie cutters are far easier :) I also rolled out the dough to make a rope then spelled out my sons names. Place cut-outs onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Cut a small hole for ribbon to pass through using a straw (before you bake them). Paint your ornaments with egg-wash paint. Then bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 2 hours. This will allow the ornaments to dry out completely without getting brown. Allow to cool, then string ribbon or colored yarn through the holes and hang on packages or your tree.

Before & After- click to enlarge


Egg Wash Paint

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. water
  • food coloring (add as much or as little until desired color is achieved)
  • inexpensive paint brushes (one for each color)

Whisk the egg to break it up, then add the water and food coloring. I used three eggs to decorate a batch of ornaments and still had plenty left over. I beat the eggs and water in a bowl, then poured the eggs into smaller containers (I used glass votive holders). I used 5 colors in total (red, blue, yellow, green and purple). Brush the egg wash over your unbaked ornaments and have fun!

NOTE: This is a great craft for kids to do since it's so simple and the project can be completed in one afternoon. Just plan accordingly since they have to bake for 2 hours.

This egg wash can be used for sugar cookies as well. It is completely edible and will give your cookies a lacquered look.

Also, if you don't want to use egg wash paint, bake the "naked" ornaments as the directions state, then paint after they are cooled with craft paint. This will give you a more vibrant color, but they will not be shiny.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Attention Banana Pudding Lovers!

My grandpa LOVES banana pudding. That's usually the only dessert he ever wants, besides red jello (he hates the green kind) and yellow cake with chocolate icing. He is not much of a sweets fan, but he likes the occasional treat. I saw this recipe from Paula Deen and thought I'd make it for him. It has been his favorite ever since and that was about 3 years ago. It serves a crowd and can be made up to a day in advance. It's fairly simple, and oh so good!

My aunt now makes this for him on special occasions when I'm not around. It's sweet, thick and creamy and layered with buttery shortbread cookies and bananas. I hope if you're in the mood for something a little different, that you'll give this recipe a try.

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding by Paula Deen
  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French Vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container Cool Whip

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE: I have made this fat free sweetened condensed milk, low fat cream cheese and lite cool whip and it tastes just like the original. However, do not use sugar free pudding. It does not turn out the same (it gets a little lumpy and the proportions aren't the same). Would be good with banana or chocolate pudding too-yum!

Also, when I make the pudding, I only use 1-3/4 cups of milk, so the pudding stays a little thicker and I only use about 6 bananas. But add as many or little as you like.

And last but not least, I sandwich the bananas between the pudding mixture so they don't get brown. Here are the layers: cookies, pudding, bananas, pudding, cookies.

I usually make this the day before I need it, so the cookies can get a little softer. You can make it about an hour before you are going to eat it, with the cookies will be a little difficult to cut through.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Chocolate will make your feet small!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cinderella Cake

I went to a 40th wedding anniversary last weekend and it turned out to be a mini family reunion. We had such a good time visiting with our firends and family. On our first night there, we went to dinner at a relatives house. Sandra brought a pumpkin spice cake that was so good and moist. I had to have the recipe, so here it is. This would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving menu.

Cinderella Cake by Sandra A.

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Beat sugar and eggs til well blended and light in color. Add oil, continuing to beat. Combine dry ingredients to egg mixture. Add pumpkin, mix well. Pour into greased 9" bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto baking rack or platter and allow to cool completely. Frost with Coachman's Icing.


Coachman's Icing

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 box powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. nuts, chopped (optional)

In a medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese and butter til smooth and creamy. Add vanilla. Then add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Frost and top with chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) before icing sets.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Tradition

This is something my MIL has made for many years. She always doubles the recipe and we enjoy them throughout the year not just at the holidays. It has become one of my favorites and it's the one thing I request every year. I've also made it with black cherry-cranberry sauce (so good) but adding orange zest would be great too.

Pink Cranberry Freeze

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1- 16 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1- 9 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1- 16 oz. container Cool Whip, (softened til creamy)
  • 1- 16 oz. carton sour cream
  • Jellied cranberry sauce (optional garnish)

In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar til creamy. Add mayonnaise (do not use salad dressing) and sour cream, mix well. Then add cranberry sauce, pineapple, pecans. Fold in cool whip until well blended. Do not over mix.

Pour in Pyrex dish and freeze til completely solid.

NOTE: My MIL freezes individual portions in muffins tins and keeps them wrapped in wax paper in airtight containers. This works well and you don't have to cut through a solid block of cranberry goodness. Just let frozen tins sit out at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes then release the cranberry freeze with a butter knife. (Silicone muffin pans would work even better!) Refreeze immediately. They will keep beautifully for several months. These are great served throughout the year and especially during the holidays. Garnish with a dollop of jellied cranberry sauce (optional).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cream Cheese Capped Carrot Cupcakes

I love carrot cake! My wedding cake was carrot cake- that's how much I love it. I thought I would post this recipe since it's the one featured with my title above. It's usually always smothered in swirly cream cheese frosting too and that makes it even better. But since it has carrots in it, it's healthy right ? And the frosting ? It's dairy so it's good for you too. Is it still healthy when you eat 3/4 of them all by yourself ? Not that I would do that :)

Carrot Cupcakes

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine sugar, oil, orange juice, vanilla and eggs. Stir in baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the flour and mix. Stir in shredded carrots, coconut and nuts (optional).

Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Distribute the batter evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes.

Let cupcakes cool then frost generously with cream cheese frosting creating wondrous swirly mounds of creamy goodness.


Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together til creamy and smooth. Use immediately or store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Favorite Recipes For Our Friends

This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook that my grandmother gave to me several years ago titled Favorite Recipes For Our Friends. It was published in 1975 by The First National Bank in the town where I grew up. My grandmother taught me how to cook and encouraged me to get in the kitchen and make things. My favorite recipe from this book is Chocolate Nut Zucchini Bundt Cake because it's such a simple chocolate cake and it has veggies in it, so it's healthy right? Here it is with a few adaptations. It is so moist and delicious, I think I'm going to go have another piece :)

Chocolate Nut Zucchini Bundt Cake
2/3 c. cocoa
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. vegetable oil
3 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
3 c. sugar (plus more for coating pan)
3 c. grated zucchini (4 med. zucchini)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
  • In a small mixing bowl combine cocoa and melted butter (mixture will be stiff and dry). Add vegetable oil to cocoa (it will resemble motor oil- don't be alarmed) and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and slowly add sugar, until thick and light in color. Add cocoa mixture to eggs until well combined, then gradually add flour being careful not to over mix. Once mixture is well incorporated add grated zucchini, vanilla and nuts (if desired). I prefer it without nuts.

  • Spray bundt pan evenly with non stick spray, then sprinkle with granulated sugar to form a sugar crust. Pour batter into pan about 3/4 full. A small amount of batter will be leftover. I usually pour the extra batter into a small pyrex dish, bake it and eat it while the bundt is still in the oven. Place pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 65-70 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Note: the cake baked in a pyrex dish will cook much quicker than the bundt.
  • Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Loosen your belt, because you'll be eating more than one slice.

By the way, I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa. I was afraid it would be too chocolatey (like there is such a thing) but it actually turned out better. Give it a try!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why I'm Here

I decided to blog about baking and cooking because I really enjoy it, baking especially. I have another blog, but it's much more serious than this one so I thought this would be a good place to "let loose". I make simple recipes that don't necessarily look the greatest, but taste the best. Don't get me wrong, I don't make ugly food, but it's nothing you would see in an over priced shi-shi restaurant. I like warm your heart, make you feel better, comfort food. Food that reminds me of my childhood and my grandma's kitchen. I also like photography, so I take pictures of all my creations. I don't create my own recipes (because they are usually failures), but I like to try new things. If you have any favorites, let me know. And don't forget, if you stop by leave a comment. I like to know who my readers are :) Enjoy. ~Monica
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