Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CSA is Back!!

Summer has arrived!  Yesterday was our first beach day of the summer then on the way home from the beach we popped in to pick up our first CSA box of the summer.  Yippee!!!  Now that I am a CSA veteran, I kind of know what to expect of my summer boxes, lettuce and radishes dominate the first few harvests.

We got some small beets in this first box and the white radish they gave us last year.

Our CSA farm has a thing for radish, we get so so many throughout the summer.  I will again search for interesting radish recipes.

Now I am not complaining, but I was a bit disappointed that the summer started with the darn kohlrabi.  My summer challenge is to find a good recipe for the kohlrabi, I never really found one last year.  Our CSA lady suggested making them like french fries for the kids, but I am guessing my kids might not be fooled, maybe I'll give it  a try any how.  Get ready for luscious veggie pics all summer long!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easter Cakes: Part 3 - Carrot Cake

I LOVE this cake! Best carrot cake ever, no joke.  If you are familiar with the Silver Palate Cookbooks, it is no surprise that the very best of anything came right out of their books.  Everything in the Silver Palate Cookbooks has a touch of decadence that you just don't find in the classic recipe.  In typing out the recipe I realize I messed up a step, it calls for cooked pureed carrots, I used raw shredded carrots, still loved the cake so it seems you could do either.  The cream cheese icing recipe is a keeper, so smooth and creamy.  I think I want to try this recipe as muffins.  Yum!

Silver Palate Carrot Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shelled chopped walnuts - optional
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups pureed cooked carrots (I used raw shredded carrots)
3/4 cup (or 1 8oz can) crushed pineapple drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9 inch spring form pans (I used one spring form and one regular, the spring form cake was thicker)
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add oil, eggs and vanilla then beat well.  Fold in walnuts coconut, carrots and pineapple.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 50 minutes, until edges have pulled away and the center is set.
  4. Cool on cake rack for 3 hours.  Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese - room temp
6 tablespoons butter - room temp
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 a lemon - optional
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl
  2. Slowly sift in confectioners' sugar adn continue beating until fully mixed.  
  3. Stir in vanilla and lemon.

Pineapple and coconut are what set this carrot cake apart from others.  What a colorful batter!

The recipe called for spring-form pans, I only had one so I used a standard 9" round cake pan for one layer.  The spring-form layer was thicker and easier to remove from pan, but the regular cake pan worked too.  

This is the best picture I got of the Carrot Cake iced.  I did not do any fancy icing, just coated it with the cream cheese icing.  I have to get better at taking after pictures.  

It's a BUNDT!

One of my favorite movies and a great scene:

It's a cake!  Nordic Ware is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Bundt Cake they created and made famous, which of course means there is a contest.  Actually there are a few contests for the celebration, 65th Anniversary Contests, I am interested in the contest using Nordic Ware's fabulous baking pans.  I happen to own a quite a few of their pans and love, love, love the cupcake mold pans.  So many great birthday cakes have been created using the train cakes, car cakes and my very favorite, the garden bug cakes (so cute!).

The baking contest runs through September with monthly winners. Looks like I'll be baking up some cakes this summer!  Here is a picture of my first run at the contests, of course I used my favorite bug pan.

Will share recipes upon completion of the contest.  More to to come! I want to make a classic Bundt.  "There is a whole in this cake."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Easter Cakes: Part 2 - Grandma's Orange Pineapple Cake

My Grandma Wood made this cake every year and it was always the favorite with us kids, so much so that my sister requested it every year as her birthday cake.  Here is a word to the wise, do not put sparklers on this cake instead of candles, it has a very sticky icing that will be covered in soot.  We learned that the hard way, my sister's birthday is New Years Eve so there are always fireworks involved and sparklers are not a safe alternative to birthday candles.

This is not a "Grandma Wood Original" but probably a Pillsbury Cookbook cake, but isn't that what most women who raised kids in the 50's made?  Both of my grandmothers were from the Kraft, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker brand of cooking, I don't know if either of them ever made a cake from scratch.  I have a printed copy of this recipe on an old yellow piece of paper that Grandma probably hammered out on a typewriter.  Some of the measurements are not what we use in modern day like one a #2 can of pineapple. Is that a war ration measurement?  We have converted that ingredient to one 8 oz can of crushed pineapple. This is the first time I have tried this cake in a mold pan, it came out great.  I don't think Grandma ever made this cake as a lamb, she always made a beautiful two layer round cake, light and fluffy looking, the perfect Easter cake.

Grandma's Pineapple Orange Cake

4 eggs well beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges with the liquid
1 box yellow cake mix

1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 (9oz) container of Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare to 9 inch cake pans with baking spray.
Beat eggs then add oil and mandarin oranges with the liquid and beat well.  Add cake mix and beat for 2 minutes until well mixed and the oranges are all broken up.  Split batter between the two 9 inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cake cool completely before icing.

In a small sauce pan mix the pineapple with liquid and 1/2 cup of sugar, bring to a boil then boil for 20 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove pineapple/sugar mix from heat and let cool completely, like for several hours in the refrigerator.  If it is warm the icing will melt and be runny.  When cold add one package of vanilla instant pudding and mix well.  Next fold in one container of Cool Whip.  This will be a very fluffy and sticky icing.

According to grandma's recipe and the 50's standard for food safety you can leave this cake out 2 days unrefrigerated then you should refrigerate.  Not sure if that is "Serve Safe".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Cakes: Part 1

Easter Cakes!  So many possibilities I am having a hard time deciding on just one to bake today.  I have ruled out cheesecake, too much dairy for the crowd I am serving, at least that is one less dessert to consider.  I am leaning towards the Silver Palate Carrot Cake.  I made this cake years and years ago, but still remember it, it is that good.  Should I also then make a fun cake for the kids?  I own the Wilton 3-D Lamb Pan, it is really only good one day a year, do I skip my chance?  And bunny cakes or cupcakes, how fun would it be to make bunny cakes?  Off to the store to pick up my carrot cake ingredients, I'll post this cake after it is complete.  Still on the fence about the kid cake.  We are having dinner with friends so we will have four adults and 4 kids, is two cakes just overboard?  Maybe not.

Cake and candy of Easter's past.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Smoothie Time!

We have been on a smoothie kick, so imagine how excited I was to see this tear out in the new Food Network Magazine (so excited I ripped it when removing it from the magazine).  Crazy as it might sound, I had never really made a smoothie until a few months ago.  It certainly seems easy enough to make, toss some fruit, yogurt and maybe milk or ice cubes right?  There is an actual formula and sequence that is necessary to get a nice creamy smoothie and Food Network Magazine gave me some  interesting new mix-in ideas to jazz up my boring, lumpy smoothies.  For the most part though, anything goes in smoothie land, mix and match whatever you like. A creative mind could find an endless number of smoothies to make.  Have fun!

My Perfect Smoothie Formula

1 Cup Ice
1-2 Cups Liquid - Milk, Soy Milk, Juice
1/2 Cup Yogurt - Plain, Greek, Vanilla
1-1.5 Cup Fresh or Frozen Fruit

  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sweet - Sugar, Honey, Vanilla Extract, Lime Juice
  • Dash-1 Teaspoon Herbs and Spices - Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Fresh Basil, Ginger
  • Protein Powder - I am not a health nut, don't know much about these things, but many people put protein in their smoothies.  Not me.
  • Added nutrients - Flax Seed, my sister-in-law puts flax seeds in all the smoothies she makes, something I want to add to mine for healthy family colons.  I suppose you could sneak any added nutrient or vitamin into a smoothie if you need it, go crazy!
  • Coffee - Make your own Coolata!
Preparation:  Ice first!  Place the ice cubes in first and hit the Ice Crush bottom on your blender.  Once the ice is crushed to perfect consistency add the rest of the ingredients then blend on high for a minute.  If it gets stuck, add a bit more liquid or mix so the ice is not stuck on the bottom clogging the blender.

Fun Ingredients
  • Exotic Fruits: Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Coconut Milk, Pomegranate 
  • Melon:  Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Pumpkin puree, try some of those weird ones in the produce isle you have never heard of.
  • Citrus: any kind of citrus could be blended.   Remember lemon and lime juice in small doses add some zing to a smoothie.  A bit of peel or zest would be good too.
  • Veggies:  Hide the healthy stuff! Carrots, Spinach
  • Coffee
  • Obvious Fruits:  Apples, Grapes, Berries, Bananas
  • Nuts:  Peanut butter, Nutella
  • Dairy:  Yogurts, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese 
  • Not so healthy: Ice cream, cookies, candy, you could go anywhere with this, think DQ Blizzard.

Crazy Cubes
My new favorite thing is coconut milk ice cubes.  Found this little tip in the Food Network pull out, freeze coconut milk in an ice cube tray then you have flavorful ice cubes to add to your smoothie.  Imagine how good those ice cubes will be this summer in a Rum Runner.  Can't wait!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pillsbury Due Date!

Today is the day!  All entries for the 45th Pillsbury Bake Off are due today.  I am proud to announce all 7 of my entries are in and I am officially off Pillsbury for awhile.  Whew!  After months of testing and trying to perfect my recipes I almost chickened out and didn't enter.  Why would I do that?  It was weird, I lost all my motivation for in the last two weeks.  Luckily I got re-motivated,  cooked a bunch of Pillsbury things last week and entered them all this weekend.  90 winners are notified in September while the 20 wildcard winners will be notified from May till August.  Of the 20 wildcards only 10 will make it to the actual Bake Off, there will be voting this summer.  Ugh, I hope I don't have to go to a vote. I just hope for some feedback.  Fingers crossed till September!