Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Mom's Carrot Cake

























I remember my Mother's carrot cake well. She would add pineapple and coconut and it would come out so moist and delicious. I decided to make it this past weekend but instead of storing a whole sheet cake, I made little individual cakes to store in my freezer. This is a keeper my friends. One of the best carrot cakes you've ever tasted.

My Mom's Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 by-13-inch pan and line the pan with a wide piece of parchment paper cut so that it tucks neatly along 2 opposite sides and hangs over edges by about 1 inch on the other opposite sides to create flaps to use as handles for lifting the cake. Butter and flour the paper. Set pan aside.

Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Next beat the eggs with the sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla at medium speed until smooth. Then add the flour mixture a little at a time while mixing at low speed. Fold in carrots, pineapple and coconut and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place cake pan on cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then using the parchment paper flaps, remove cake from pan and place on cooling rack until completely cool. 




























Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread Frosting on top and sides of cake. And then with the palm of your hand, press nuts into sides of cake.

For my cake I cut my cooled caked into rectangles. Then I frosted each piece on the top and sides and pressed chopped walnuts onto the sides. I then piped the cream cheese frosting on top in a pretty design. After each piece was frosted, I reserved some frosting in two separate bowls.

In bowl one, I reserved enough frosting and added orange food coloring to make my Carrot garnish for each piece of cake. And in bowl number two I reserved just enough to make my stems and added green food coloring. I then used a pastry bag to pipe my carrot on top of each piece and added a little green for the stem. Then I stored the finished cakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve and sat them out at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Traditional Easter Bread







I can remember my Mom making her traditional Easter bread each year when I was growing up.  She would serve it on a long platter surrounded by the brightly colored Easter eggs we dyed the night before.  It was so pretty and such a favorite at our house.  Sweet bread filled with plump raisins warm right out of the oven.  The next morning she was toast it and butter it and sprinkle cinnamon on top! YUM!

Traditional Easter Bread

3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
4 teaspoon sugar
1 large lightly beaten egg
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
9 cups all purpose flour                                     
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins

Mix together the yeast, 4 teaspoons of sugar, 1 egg, and the warm milk. Set aside in a warm place for about 25 minutes until it starts to bubble .

In a small sauce pan, heat up 1 cup of milk and a 1 cup of sugar, until the milk is warm and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the melted butter and oil. Using a fork, lightly beat the five eggs and add vanilla and set aside. 































Next, in a large bowl, add the warm milk mixture, the butter and oil mixture, eggs, raisins, salt, and grated lemon zest and juice of a lemon and mix until well combined. Then start adding the flour a little at a time until the dough is smooth and sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and rub the oil all over the dough so that it doesn't dry out. Place it in a warm place to rise.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a draft-free area and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a clean surface and divide in half. Then divide those two in half and once again so that you have 4 pieces Next roll the 4 pieces of dough into 12-18 inch long ropes and place on pan lined with parchment paper. Now you can braid these braids however you want. 



























Brush the top of the braid with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Finally brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with colorful Easter candies and bake until golden brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lemon Pearl Cupcakes

























I love lemon desserts!  When I think spring or summer, I immediately think lemon.  When I want to take a dessert to a party or summer barbecue, I think lemon cupcakes.  There's just something about that hint of lemon that says delicious!


Lemon Pearl Cupcakes

4 eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tins and line each cup with a greased paper liner.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks with your mixer. Carefully remove to another bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy. Pour in the sugar and continue mixing until it is well-combined and fluffy. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time. Next, add in the vanilla, and then the juice and zest.




















With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and milk alternately until the flour mixture and milk are just combined. When the flour is fully mixed, gently fold in the egg whites with a spoon or spatula.
Carefully spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Set the cupcakes aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove from tins and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Small pearl white sprinkles
Using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is light, fluffy and airy. Add in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
When the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost and garnish with 1/2 teaspoon of small white pearl sprinkles.







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Blueberry Peach Pound Cake


























I love this recipe for my Mom's pound cake and she loved it too. I've made this with fresh or frozen peaches.  And I always add that little hint of another berry to add to the color and the flavor. You can make it with strawberries, raspberries and even blueberries to go along with the peaches and all of them were delicious. Just remember if you decide to use frozen fruit, don't allow it to thaw first. Just chop it up and add it to your batter frozen. I made this for you this past weekend....hope you like it! 

Blueberry Peach Pound Cake

2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 ½ sticks butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup peaches, chopped
1 cup blueberries, washed and chopped fine. If using frozen, do not thaw first.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then line with parchment paper leaving excess paper over each side to be able to use as handles for lifting cake out later.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. With a mixer, blend the eggs, butter and sugar and then mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. Then fold the diced peaches and chopped berries into the batter and pour into pan. Bake for 1-1¼ hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Transfer to a cake rack to cool and then lift cake with parchment paper handles and allow to cool completely before adding icing or drizzle.


























Vanilla Drizzle                                

4 tablespoons butter
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave. Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into a medium size bowl. Add the melted butter to the powdered sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat until smooth and creamy with a hand mixer. Add a little more cream if you need to. Stir in vanilla and then drizzle over cooled cake.  




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Friday, March 17, 2017

♥ Corned Beef Hash and Eggs

























There are so many ways you can use leftover corned beef  and this is one of my favorites. I love this for breakfast, brunch or dinner! It is hearty and delicious and what I call comfort food!

Corned Beef Hash with Eggs

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups potatoes, par boiled and cut into ½-inch pieces...
1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice of bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces 

1 pound corned beef, minced to ¼-inch or smaller
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Place the bacon in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the fat is partially rendered, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and is slightly browned edges. Add pepper but not too much salt because your corned beef is probably already seasoned well. 


























Add corned beef and potatoes and stir to bring them together. Lightly pack down the hash with a rubber spatula so that the bottom starts to get crisp. Cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes, then, with the spatula, invert the hash, a portion at a time, and fold the browned bits back into the hash. Lightly pack the hash into the pan again. Repeat the process every minute or two until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, about 8 minutes longer.


Make 4 indentations (each measuring about 2 inches across) equally spaced on the surface of the hash. Crack 1 egg into each indentation and season the egg with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are just set, about 6 minutes. Cut the hash into servings, making sure each has an egg, and serve immediately.


























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Reuben Salad with Homemade Croutons

























Any leftover corned beef from your St. Paddy's day dinner? There are many ways to use it in a variety of dishes. I make corned beef hash with sunny side up eggs for breakfast. I always make that traditional corned beef on Rye or that wonderful Reuben sandwich. But this time I decided to turn my leftovers into a delicious hearty salad. The combination of tender corned beef on a bed of crisp greens with these incredible homemade croutons will take your taste buds to a whole new level!  The croutons are tossed in olive oil, which gives them a wonderful light crunch! 

Reuben Salad

Homemade Croutons

4-5 slices of pumpernickel or marbled rye bread, cubed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch garlic powder
pinch salt/pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine cubed bread, oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper; mix well. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet and place in oven for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Set aside to cool. 

























Salad

1 bag of romaine lettuce
1 bag of shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
1/2 pound sliced corned beef, cut into 1/2 wide strips
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound of sliced Swiss cheese, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 carrot, sliced into thin strips
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup canned sauerkraut, drained (optional)

In medium skillet, warm the corned beef in the olive oil over low heat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine romaine, cabbage mix, and sauerkraut if using.  Add corned beef, cheese, onions and carrots and toss to combine. Divide salad between plates, top each with croutons and thousand Island dressing. See my homemade dressing below. Top with shredded Swiss cheese if desired.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2-3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
1/teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste


Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over salad.













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Irish Potato Candy!























When I was little we had a neighbor that used to make these little candies and take them door to door wishing everyone a happy St. Paddy’s day.  He would put them in a little white box tied with a bright green bow with a little card that had an Irish poem.  He would sign the card, “Your friendly neighborhood Leprechaun.”  Inside the box were these cute little candies made from cream cheese and coconut that looked just like little potatoes.  We just loved his gift and looked forward to his visit every year.  For years I thought Mr. Obrien was a real live Lepreprechaun! 

Irish potato candy

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
cinnamon, or sifted cocoa, for coating

With a mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the salt and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  Stir until mixture turns into a thick and sticky dough.











Stir in the coconut and place the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. I make mine round but you can make them a little more oblong to look like a baking potato if you wish.  Place them on a baking sheet and put them in the refrigerator to chill. About 15 minutes or so.










In a shallow bowl, place cinnamon or cocoa. I used cinnamon for mine. Roll the potatoes in the mixture to coat all over. Tap off any excess.

Place the candies back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow them to “set” completely. After this, they can be kept in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature. Seal in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.



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Vanilla Mint Cupcakes

























A wonderful little cupcake with just a hint of mint topped with a delicious mint frosting with chocolate curls! Perfect for St. Patrick's day!

 Vanilla Mint Cupcakes

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 1/4 cup Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.


























In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla extract and mint extract and mix well. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half of the milk and mix well. 

Next add another third of the flour, mix, and then add the remaining milk. Finally, add the remaining flour and continue beating until well mixed. Using a measuring cup and pour batter into a lined or greased cupcake pans. 


Vanilla Mint Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract
1 tablespoon milk
2-3 drops green food coloring

Beat the butter and a 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and mint extracts and milk and continue beating. Continue to add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Add green food coloring and beat until color is well incorporated.

Chocolate Curls 

Place a bar or block of chocolate on waxed paper. Make small chocolate curls by pulling a vegetable peeler toward you across the short side of the chocolate. When sprinkling curls on cupcakes, use the wax paper so your hands do not melt the chocolate. The curls will be easier to make if the chocolate is slightly warm.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Leprechaun Cookie Bars























With St. Paddy's day rapidly approaching, I wanted to come up with something special for my friends and family. These are so good. I love a chewy cookie or brownie and the center of these are super soft and chewy. I like to put them in little tins for St. Paddy's day with a little card that says "I'm so lucky to have you in my life." Always a big hit! 

Leprechaun Cookie Bars 

Cookie Crust Layer

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the sugar nad the cocoa and whisk to combine. Remove from heat and add salt, vanilla, and eggs and whisk until combined.  Then add the flour and continue to stir until smooth.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking pan with foil and then spray with non stick cooking spray.  Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan forming your crust.  Set aside.


























Cookie Dough Layer

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup green mint chips

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the butter, shortening and both sugars and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour baking soda and salt. Beat this into the butter and sugar mixture.

Spoon the mixture onto the layer of dough in the baking dish,  being careful not to disturb the cookie crust. Using a rubber spatula or greased fingers press the cookie dough batter onto the crust.  Then sprinkle the chocolate and mint chips on top of the cookie dough batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top.  Cool slightly before drizzling with icing.

Mint Drizzle

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon mint extract 
2 tablespoons milk
3 drops green food coloring

Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and mint extract until smooth. Mix in the food coloring a drop at a time until you get the right color of green you want. Drizzle over top of cookie bars. Add more chocolate chips for garnish.

Cool completely at room temperature or chill in refrigerator before cutting into bars.  























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