Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I'm wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween!  Hopefully I will get my butt in gear and start posting some recipes. I've hit a dry spell but at the moment there is a cake baking in the oven - a good sign!

Enjoy all the candy everyone!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Old Fashioned Pound Cake

If you have been following my blog for any length of time you will have noticed that not only do I love banana bread but I love pound cake. Love trying different pound cake recipes and I have quite a few on this blog.  I came across this one in my old faithful cookbook....."The Doubleday Cookbook."  This was published back in 1975 and was the first cookbook I owned and it is still  my favorite.  These recipes have  never let me down.  Some may be dated but they are always good.  If any of you collect old cookbooks you may want to add this one to your collection.  They can be found in old bookstores, antique shops and used ones can also be found on Ebay.  The original comes in a set of 2 but back in the early 90's they were condensed into one.

This is definitely an old fashioned pound cake and made differently than any I've made before.  It's a little extra work since you have to whip up the egg whites separately but worth it.  That is what attracted me to this recipe.  I like ones that are different...that have a twist in them.  If you make this I would suggest you expect this to be a bit drier than your usual pound cake.  It also uses cake flour so you will have a very dense, tight crumb.  I loved it.  My husband likes cakes that are moist so he thought this would be great with ice cream on it or for strawberry shortcakes....I love it just as it is with a big cup of coffee. Oh how perfect!

Do not substitute any of these ingredients.

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla or orange extract or 1 Tbs finely grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray bottom and sides of 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan.  Sift flour, salt and nutmeg together and set aside.  Cream butter until light, then add sugar slowly, creaming until fluffy.  Beat
egg yolks until thick and light, add to butter mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend flour in gradually, then mix in vanilla and beat JUST until smooth.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form  and fold gently into batter.  Spoon into pan and bake 65 - 70 minutes until cake pulls slightly from sides of pan.  Cool upright in pan on a wire cake rack 30 minutes. (I cooled mine for 10 minutes only and it turned out fine.)  Cool thoroughly before slicing.  (I wrapped mine up in plastic wrap, then with foil while still warm and sliced this the following day. It was great that way.)



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Apple Crisp Cheesecake - Vegan

Can anyone tell me where summer has gone?  Are we really almost in the 2nd week of August?  Summer goes way too quick for me. I want summer all year long. I want the beach all year long.  I haven't been to the beach nearly enough the summer.  And we even have a beach house.  How is that for crazy shit!  I WILL get there come  hell or high water for another  long weekend this summer!  I want to live there year round. Mind you, we are still talking Virginia here so it does get cold in the winter, but growing up on Long Island has made me wanting water around me all the time.  It's hard to live in a state where a weekend trip is required to be near water. It's not just 20 minutes away like I was used to growing up. If you have lived near the beach you just NEVER get used to not having it at your fingertips.  Now on with the recipe....

This is a cheesecake. A vegan one no less.  There is no cheese in this or eggs.  You can buy these non dairy items in a local grocery store, at least one that is decent.  For whatever reason vegan cream cheese is not always easy to find but our local Wegman's carries it.  Well, Wegman's carries everything, which is one of many reasons I love that store. The main reason I love Wegman's is because they carry rainbow cookies.  The NY kind.....oh God are they good. My favorite cookie. Moving right along now....this cheesecake is extremely good.  Good stuff. Especially good because it is also easy to make.  I would make it again.  Perfect autumn dessert.  Something different bedsides the usual apple pie.  The original recipe came from here.  Now go ahead and enjoy the rest of what is left of summer!!!!

1 Cup Graham Cracker crumbs
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance
2 8 oz. containers of vegan cream cheese
2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. melted Earth Balance
1 large apple - peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, blend together the Graham Cracker crumbs, 3/4 cup rolled oats and 1/4 cup brown sugar until well mixed and powdery.  After you've melted your 1/2 cup Earth Balance pour it into the crust mixture and process until well combined.  Pour into a pie pan or springform pan and press down firmly and form the crust along the edges of the pan.  I use the bottom of drinking glass to even the bottom of crust.

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water.  In your food processor, blend together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar
, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger and 2 tsp of vanilla.  Then add your cornstarch.  Once well combined, pour on top of your Graham Cracker/oat crust.

Mix together your 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon until well combined.  Stir in the 2 tbs melted Earth Balance.

Arrange the thinly sliced apple on top of the cheesecake in a single layer.  Top with the Apple Crisp Topping.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes.  Allow to set overnight.

I kept mine in the fridge and took out a slice and let it sit out for about an hour.  This tastes best at room temperature.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Black Bean Quesadillas

I have been wanting to make quesadillas forever.  I really don't know why I don't make them more often since I order them frequently when I go to Mexican restaurants.  Plus they are super easy to make. And the variety is endless.  My son loves them while my husband will pass on them. I guess you can't please everyone.  I think that probably is one of the most frustrating parts of cooking. No one likes everything.  Wouldn't it be great if whatever we made was met with looks of enthusiasm and smiles!  Am I dreaming or what????  Anyhow, enjoy these any way you want.  This is my take on quesadillas!

1 large sweet onion, cut in long thin strips
2 green peppers, cut into long thing strips
2 - 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 15 oz can of black beans
1/2 can of corn
2 Tbs of water
1 tsp chili powder (add more if you like for extra spicy)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of Mexican cheese blend, shredded
8 large flour tortillas

Heat 1 Tbs oil in skillet on medium high heat and add onions and peppers and cooked for about 5-7 minutes until peppers are slightly soft.
Combine black beans, corn, water, chili powder, cumin and oregano in small saucepan and heat.  Season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 - 2 Tbs olive oil in large skillet and let oil get hot.  Lay down 1 flour tortilla and add about 2 Tbs of filling (use your judgement on amount).  Flatten filling slightly with fork and cover top with cheese. Top with another tortilla and let cook about 1 or 2 minutes and flip over till both sides are slightly crisp and golden brown.  Remove to plate and let cool for one minutes.  Slice with pizza cutter.
Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.



Friday, July 18, 2014

One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta Recipe

This is one of those recipes from Pinterest where you wonder if the recipe is as good as it is said to be.  The answer to this one is YES!  I had pinned this a while back and kept wanting to try it and finally got around to it. It's absolutely delicious.  I had taken a picture of it when I put it all together in the pot before I cooked it but it didn't turn out to be a good pic at all.  So if you want to see what it looks like at the start just go here. This is definitely a recipe I will go back to again and again.  What's good about a recipe like this is that you can play with it - add and change things up a bit.  I can't wait to make this again!

16 oz. linguine pasta (Do not exchange this for thin spaghetti - this needs to cook a little and a thicker pasta is better for this.)
1 can 15 oz. diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 medium onion, cut into thin strips
4 cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (do NOT use low sodium)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, 10 or 12, diced
Parmesan cheese

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a large stock pot.  Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top with the red pepper, oregano flakes and basil. (You may want to save some basil for garnish.) Drizzle top with oil.
Cover pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes keeping covered with lid.  Stir about every two minutes. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated.  I had a little liquid on bottom which is what you will want.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add any extra fresh basil and stir very well until all liquid has been absorbed.  Add Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Homemade Lemon Pudding Cake

Besides chocolate, one of my favorite cakes would have to be lemon. Mind you, I love all cakes with the exception of angel food cake (just could never enjoy that).  This lemon cake is delicious and Bundt cakes, for the most part are fool proof. I did hit a snag with this cake however. It stuck to the pan. It may have happened maybe once or twice over the years with this pan, but rarely.  I don't know why this cake stuck. I can only think that I may have baked the cake longer than necessary.  I would most definitely make this again, and not just use only baking spray. I would also flour the pan. Who knows...regardless it still came out, just some areas of the top were uneven.  But nothing that a little frosting couldn't hide!  The original recipe comes from here. Oh, the frosting is wonderful too!

My new puppy is driving me crazy!!! He is as sweet as pie but oh my.....he is overly energetic!  Or could it be that I'm getting old?  Nah...he has too much energy!  I'm hoping the puppy phase passes soon so I can stop passing out at night! I'll post some new pics of Skeeter, my little shih tzu soon! In the meantime, enjoy this cake if you decide to make it.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
1 small box of lemon jello pudding and pie filling (I did not use instant but either will work)
2 TBS fresh lemon zest
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk (I used vanilla soy or you can also use almond)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 TBS cornstarch
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 12 cup capacity Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add in lemon pie filling mix and combine thoroughly.
Beat in the eggs one at a time making sure each one is completely incorporated into mixture.
Mix in the lemon zest.
In medium size bowl combine milk, oil and vanilla extract.
Starting with the dry ingredients, alternate pouring a third of the wet and dry ingredients into the bowl, incorporating thoroughly after adding each.  You will end with the wet ingredients. Mix on medium speed for two minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  (I baked this for about 1 1/2 hours.  It was not even near done by 50 minutes. Ovens vary so start checking at 50 minutes - this could take up to 1 1/2 hours to bake.)  Test with a toothpick and when that comes out clean cake will be done.
Let cake rest for 10 minutes and invert cake onto a baking rack to cool.  Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 cup salted butter, room temperature
4 cups of powdered sugar
2 TBS lemon zest
3 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS cream or milk (I used vanilla soy milk)

In an electric stand mixer, with paddle attachment, whip the butter until smooth.  Add your powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and taste along the way.  Everyone's taste varies. You may not like your frosting too sweet.
Add your lemon zest, then add the lemon juice, making sure all is combined well.
Add your cream or milk, 1 tablespoon at a time and thin out to your desired consistently.
Enjoy!!!!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

General Tso's Tofu

Slowly and steadily I'm trying to get back in the swing of posting more regularly. I miss my blog and trying new recipes. Kind of fell out of it for a while there. But for the moment I am once again enjoying myself with baking and trying new dishes, so as long as that lasts, so will these posts!

I know lots of people don't care for tofu but I wonder how many of those people have actually TRIED it and not liked it?  I, for one, am a huge tofu fan.  Discovered my love for it over the past year and I make it a regular dish in my diet.  It has everything in it that is good for you. I tried it originally as a meat replacer since I gave up eating meat a year ago. Ah, tofu is truly so much better.  This version of it is really good. Tastes just like something out of a really good Chinese restaurant.  Found this recipe here.  So if you are a tofu lover like I am or just thinking of giving it a "try," just go for it already with this recipe.  I don't think you will be disappointed!

1 brick extra firm tofu
3 - 4 TBS cornstarch
1 - 2 TBS canola or vegetable oil

For the Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 TBS hoison sauce
3 TBS rice vinegar
3 TBS ketchup
2 TBS soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 shakes (or more) of red pepper flakes
1 TBS sesame oil
4 green onions, chopped
3 TBS fresh ginger, finely chopped

Drain tofu of excess water.  I usually put the tofu on a large plate with stack of paper towels under it to absorb the water.  I put paper towels on top also and used a chopping block with a large heavy bowl on it for pressure to drain the tofu.  This will take between 15 and 20 minutes.

While waiting for the tofu to drain combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat a skillet on medium (I love to use a cast iron skillet and recommend that) with about 1/4 inch oil inside. I used canola oil but vegetable oil will work too.  Once your tofu has drained slice it into 1/2 inch
blocks and cut those into thirds.  Coat each cube lightly with cornstarch and place in frying pan until browned and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Wipe skillet clean and add your sesame oil.  Add ginger and green onions until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sauce mixture and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 2 minutes and then add tofu and toss to coat with sauce.  Add additional green onions if desired.  I serve this on top of basmati rice.