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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lemon Pound Cake

Many of my neighbors make a triple chocolate Bundt cake that is truly divine. It starts with a devil's food cake mix, adds instant pudding, and ends with chocolate chips. I've made this cake before with reasonable success, but I think my neighbors are all better at this particular recipe than I am.

A few weeks ago I ran across this recipe. I'm not a big dessert person, but this is a cake that I actually get cravings for. It follows a pattern similar to the triple chocolate cake, but for some reason I seem to be more successful at creating a wonderful cake using this recipe. The glaze makes this cake. Rumor has it that this cake can be frozen for up to a month. It still emerges looking and tasting great.

Lemon Pound Cake
1 box Betty Crocker or Pillsbury lemon cake mix
1 3-ounce box instant lemon pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
½ cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix all ingredients and pour into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool ten minutes, then invert the pan to release the cake.

Lemon Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
Mix sugar and lemon juice with electric mixer. Pour over cake while it is still hot so that a lovely lemon crust will form. Hint: I find it much easier to do this if the cake is on a wire rack with foil or wax paper underneath to catch the drippings.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shamelessly Stolen Oatmeal Cookies

Normally when I post a recipe, it's something that I've found somewhere else and have modified a bit to make it my own. In a couple of cases I've actually come up with what I think of as totally original recipes. In this case, I've borrowed a recipe wholesale from the blog of my high school friend Kip. My kids have embraced this recipe so enthusiastically that they start singing for joy as soon as they smell them cooking in the oven. Kip has a great story about how he came to have this recipe which you can find here. But if the recipe is what you're really looking for, I've taken the liberty of copying it part and parcel here (although I did change the name of the recipe and added in the cooking time that I like best). They're wonderful cookies.

Shamlessly Stolen Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream sugars and shortening. Blend in vanilla and eggs. Then add dry ingredients, oats, and nuts. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 14 minutes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Apple Cake with Carmel Topping

This is a recipe that I made when I was growing up and then rediscovered when it was served at a party I went to earlier this fall. Bob usually isn't a fan of fruit-based desserts, but this has become one of his favorites (and a favorite of the whole family). It's also a perfect way to use up the fridge full of apples that we harvested from various friends and family.

A word of warning: the carmel sauce here is overcooked and far too thick. I served this dessert for my book group last night and tried a very small crock pot as a way of keeping the sauce warm until we were ready to eat. When I took off the lid, I was shocked to see that the sauce had continued to boil all the time we were talking. So watch the cooking time, and don't store it in a mini crock pot! I'll try for a better photo next time I make it.

Apple Cake with Carmel Topping
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2teaspoon salt
6-7 apples, peeled and grated

For the caramel sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Spray a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray (Pam) or grease pan and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter with sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Fold in apples. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cake is done and toothpick comes clean when inserted in cake.

Cut in squares when cool and serve with hot caramel sauce (see instructions below).

To make caramel sauce melt butter in saucepan over low heat and then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Serve over apple cake squares.

Note: My friend Kip posted a similar recipe on his blog, but included a recipe for a butter sauce that sounds delicious. You can find it here.

Goodbye, Summer!

We all know that summer has been gone for quite a few weeks now. But last week brought the last of our beautiful warm weather, and as a special tribute, I made this salad. It's not a complicated recipe (and none of the items in the salad were grown in our garden). But it was so beautiful that I thought the photo alone was worth sharing.

The shrimp come frozen in a bag from Costco; I thawed them in water and then sauteed them in olive oil and garlic. I drizzled it with a mixture of vidalia onion dressing, also from Costco, mixed with a little bit of mayonnaise (which was intended to tone the dressing down a bit). But the photo with dressing drizzled hid some of the salad's true elegance.

Yesterday the snow flew for the first time. We're looking forward to lots of soup and comfort food, but we'll miss the beautiful and healthy vegetables, or at least the idea of finding them waiting for us in the back yard. But one thing we love about living in Utah is the four seasons. The fact that each one is fleeting helps us to enjoy the unique beauty of any time of year.

Goodbye, Summer! And maybe even Fall.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spinach Pasta Salad

This recipe is originally from my friend Cindy. It's perfect for potlucks because it holds up quite well even after the dressing is added. I made this for dinner one night when Bob and the boys were gone (a girls' night in). The kids laughed because I couldn't stop eating "just another bite."

I modified this recipe a bit by cooking the chicken in a teriyaki sauce (the same one I use for the won ton chicken salad recipe given to me by another friend), but I think it all works out in the wash because I use the dressing for this salad for that recipe.

Spinach Pasta Salad
2-3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Mix soy sauce, sugar and water in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and cook over low heat for about an hour, until chicken is shreddable. Shred chicken and set aside. This can be done the day before if you want.

1 16-ounce package bow-tie or farfalle pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
8 to 10 cups of spinach
Combine these ingredients with the shredded chicken in a large bowl.

2-3 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Pour dressing over the salad and tossed until all ingredients are coated.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

This is the salad I'm making this week for a group of friends I have lunch with each month. It's one of my favorite salads because of the contrasting sweet and savory flavors, plus the crunch of both the fruit and the nuts.

Like most salads, this one is quite versatile. It's great with pears and blue cheese, but also delicious with apples substituted for the pears or feta substituted for the blue cheese. Red fruit is prettier than green fruit, although the green fruit (especially apples) are usually a little more tart and give the salad a great flavor. It's shown here with red delicious apples and blue cheese crumbles.
The salad is originally from the Betty Crocker Entertaining cookbook, which doesn't include the possible variations.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
1 medium bunch romaine, chopped in bite-sized chunks
2 medium red or green pears or apples, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (for the record, pecans also work well)

Toss these ingredients together in a large bowl. Then toss with the dressing until coated.

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground pepper

Place ingredients in a tightly covered jar. Shake until mixed.

Best Baked Beans

At about the time Bob and I were married, I learned of the intense competition to be the best bean baker in his family. I thought his baked beans were excellent. But a couple of years ago, one of our neighbors brought this dish to a neighborhood party, and I don't think we've made his usual recipe since. This one takes longer than Bob's, which is made on the stove top. This also makes quite a lot of beans, so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you're not cooking for a crowd.

Baked Beans

8-10 generous servings

4 15-ounce cans of pork and beans
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
1 cup catsup
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 pound lean bacon cut up, cooked crisp, then drained and crumbled

Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, covered with foil, at 325 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. Serve hot.