St. Patrick’s Day – Preview Day, sort of

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for St. Patrick’s Day this year as I have been in several other years and it makes me sad. St. Patrick’s Day was our first date – ish. I do not think the MotH planned it as a date, but I think it was inevitable and now it is probably the second most important date for us – the wedding date being the most important. Or maybe the other way around. Interesting, that both days were really just amazingly relaxed. Guess that is just us. I think that may be what happens when two adults realize they have found the right person for them.  Okay – I shall stop now because that sounds too sappy. I do seem to do that on occasion.

So back to St. Patrick’s Day, since I will not be around in my kitchen, I will replay some of my favorites for you to enjoy. I guess I need to figure out when St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) is as he is the patron saint of Scotland and I am Scottish on both sides of my family. You do not look like me or like the Boy without some Scottish in you. When I think back, my father really had the look about him, but I just did not recognize as I do now in hindsight. I guess I have to figure out Scottish food, but I’m not entirely sure that will be a good thing. ?

Reuben Casserole – as I have said, not pretty, so not pretty, but pretty amazing.

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Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s like looking at a really good pour of Guinness. That is something that has to be done correctly and it takes time – just wait, it will be worth the reward.

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Guinness Brownies – I do not like brownies at all. But the first time I made these, well, hell, in small doses they were amazing. And I think the Boy liked the idea that there was stout in his brownies made him happy. Can not say that I blamed him for that.

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Butter / Egg Usage – September 2016

8 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats – 3 Tbs – regular plain old rice krispie treats that I love.

9 September 2016 – Brickle Bits of Snicks – 8 Tbs / 2 large eggs – for Chad.

dd_156222 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats with brown butter, vanilla, and sea salt – 4 Tbs

23 September 2016 – Apple Cake – 2 large eggs

Sad, sad month of baking/cooking. Sigh. Still damn hot outside. That is our life, but I will be wearing shorts a lot longer than most of you. Just saying.

Apple Cake

It is officially Autumn now – so says the calendar, but where we live that means basically, nothing. Yep nothing. Except the likelihood of a hurricane. No really, hurricanes are most likely to hit in our area in September or October. Thankfully since 2005, we’ve been very fortunate. All that said, it is still hotter than blazes here and what is worse we have had no rain to cool off the afternoons.

So I am trying to force the issue with apple cake. Force the fall to get here sooner by sheer force of will. Apples and cinnamon – I think that equals fall, at least it does for me.

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2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs vanilla
6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (3 apples)

Frosting*
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. This is a thing I do with dry ingredients. It is kind of habit.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs, applesauce, canola oil, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in apples.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, roatating the pan half the way through, until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Frosting: In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar, but add more confectioner’s sugar as needed. Spread over completely cooled cake.

* I did not make the frosting because I wanted to try the cake on its own first. We decided that it was really good with no frosting. Maybe next time I will bake the cake, cool, and turn it out and cut in half and frost half and leave the other plain.

I have a bundt pan problem. There I said it.

I love a good pound cake. I have quite a few favorites in this category: a sour cream one, a cream cheese one, a lemon buttermilk one. Yes, I just could go on and on, I am Southern after all.

I think pound cake is a favorite for me because this is one of the few desserts the the MotH* likes. It is simple, slightly sweet, but not too sweet, and I think that appeals to him. It does not hurt that the Boy is a big fan too, as am I.

Funny, my mom used to make pound cake (or as my paternal grandmother would call plain cake)** and toast it in the toaster oven and then smear it with peanut butter. Not something I would do, no matter how much I love some peanut butter, but I understand the idea. Crunchy cake with goopy peanut butter. To each her own.

So in the next few posts, I’ll share my favorite pound cake recipes and my favorite bundt pans as well. They really are, in my opinion, works of art. And the ones I order are all Made in America. Pretty cool, right? Yes, it is Nordic Wear and it is pretty damn cool.

My first non-traditional bundt pan is one that a great friend got for me ages ago – from William-Sonoma – which I could never had afforded at that time. Since my degrees were in Art History and I focused on 17th-century French Chateaus and 18th-century British Country Houses, I had a thing for the Fleur-de-lis.dd_1524 Living here lots of people mistake my fleur-de-lis thing for a support of New Orleans, and most of the time I do not bother to correct people and I do love New Orleans a lot. But the people that know me – really know me – understand the origin of this symbol for me. And my dearest friend bought this bundt pan for me – and shared her sour cream pound cake recipe with me. We are similar in that family recipes are very important and Southern Living magazine has produced some of our favorite things to make (see: Cranberry Relish).

*Man of the House.

** I have made my grandmother’s Plain Cake recipe as an adult and it was pretty much disappointing. Just not inspiring in the least. That said, she made the most amazing fried apple pies. Yes, this conversation will continue.

 

 

Sour Cream, Chocolate Chip, & Butterscotch Chip Cake

Yes, I take the Oxford comma seriously. That said, this kind of cake just sounded a little too good to be true. However, I think it delivers. Sour cream gives it a tang, and chocolate chips are really pretty good, but add the butterscotch chips and it seems a good balance – but I do have butterscotch thing. Always had. My father used to buy me butter rum lifesavers and bring them home after work. I seemed to always be checking his shirt pockets for lifesavers and the butter rum and cherry were my favorites. . The MotH* tried it and had some suggestions that I think will be good the next time I make it. His idea is to leave off the butterscotch chips and add some chopped pecans (Renfroe Pecans = local pecans) and to be honest, I think I could do without butterscotch and chocolate and just put in the pecans and this cake would be just, pretty much amazing.dd_1549

1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanillla
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Vanilla Icing – sorry did not do this, but if it works for you – go on then.**
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan – I just love baking spray – it makes this part easier.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda together over a piece of waxed paper.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cooled butter, sugar, vanilla, sour cream, egg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir until blended (batter will be thick), then stir in the chips. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then carefully turn from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

*Man of the House.

**Again, did not do this – it seemed to be gilding the lily, but I am not a fan of overly sweet things. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the confectioners’ sugar and stir to coat it with butter – it will be thick and pasty. Slowly add the milk about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, mixing well and adding more until you get the consistency you like. Stir in the vanilla. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Again, I think this vanilla icing is so not necessary. Just me though. To each her own.dd_1548

Source: Cookie Madness – once again. A great site with lots of recipes I really like. That does not mean I will not try modification of this idea – because that what people who cook/bake do. Everything is a springboard to something new.

Thermopen

This was a bit of a splurge but it has been so well worth it.  I first saw this instant-read thermometer on America’s Test Kitchen and did not order it at first because the price put me off. I had a little thermometer that I really kind of liked and it worked just fine, but it was a bit pokey in indicating temperature and kind of meh, but it was ATK best buy and I did get along with that for several years.  So when America’s Test Kitchen sent an email that they were giving a discount on their “most trusted” Thermopen, I just had to go for it.

And I am glad I did. I am beyond thrilled with my Thermopen. No kidding. It is great for casseroles and even better for meat temperatures.D&D_0320But it is best for me for pound cakes. I know the skewer thing works, but this makes me feel so much better.

Nothing worse than slicing into a pound cake and finding out it is a bit raw inside. Blech. Yeah really blech.

Butter usage – by month – April 2016

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars – yep

2 April –  8 Tbs – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (for Heather)

9 April – 8 Tbs – Salted Crispy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

11 April – 2 Tbs – Everyday Orzo (once again amazing!)

13 April – 8 Tbs – Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

16 April – 12 Tbs – Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – don’t do this

17 April – 7 Tbs – Italian Cream Cake

21 April – 8 Tbs – Lemon Ricotta Cookies – don’t do that either, do this

28 April – 12 Tbs – Brown Sugar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

30 April – 5 Tbs – Mac and Cheese My Mom’s recipe, as such which I will say again – just do it. Really. Not kidding.

30 April – 8 Tbs – Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

78 Tbs = 9.75 sticks = 39 ozs = 2.4375 pounds

Not great, but not a ringing endorsement either. And from what I can gather my May does not start out any better. Crap.