Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate Birthday Cake ~ 10.31.11

This year, for my son's 9th Birthday, I decided to make LMLD's birthday cake for all occasions as I had happened upon it the day before I was ready to make his cake! It was a HIT! Rich and chocolately and made from scratch. I made this the day of the birthday party AND I had an open house that same day as well. SO- don't think scratch = extra time in the kitchen. It came together quickly and I just "built" the cake at my mom's house later in the day so I didn't have any "accidents" with this HIGH layer cake on the way there.

Auntie Leila gives such lovely descriptions of her cake on LMLD and I'm intrigued by the way she made her version with a ganache and layer of apricot preserves! She also gives lots of substitutions(like olive oil or coconut oil for the butter) for ingredients on her post about this cake- which can be very helpful!
Since I was not running to the store and had ALL of the ingredients for the original recipe, I made it just this way...

Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
from Like Mother, Like Daughter


2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
optional: fresh whipped cream; strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Grease and flour a large bundt or 2- 9" layer pans. I also used parchment rounds on the bottom of my cake pans which I greased as well. Didn't want any mishaps!!
3. Mix the sugar and melted butter together in your mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. One bowl. That easy. Just don't overmix, just until it's incorporated and smooth.
4. Pour the batter into your pans (I use an ice cream scoop and do even amts in each pan until all the batter is used up!) and smooth the top with a spatula.
5. Bake about 30 minutes for layer cakes and 40 minutes for a Bundt. Test with a toothpick in the center to check for doneness.
6. Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before inverting. Then let cool completely before frosting your cake.

Easy fresh Whipped Cream
2 pints whipped cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Using a large bowl, add your cream and begin to whisk briskly until it starts to froth and come together- soft peaks.
2. Sprinkle in powdered sugar and add vanilla.
3. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form (if you overmix you'll get butter, so stop before it's too late!).
4. Taste for sweetness.
5. Chill or spread on your favorite cake

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake ~ 10.30.11

I can't help myself- when it comes to pumpkin flavored anything... I'm IN!

I really can't believe I'm about to admit this but it's October 29th as I type this and I have yet to make anything pumpkin-y. I'm not sure if it was my lack of time or my fear that there would be another pumpkin shortage this year or whatever, I just haven't made much in the muffin/cookie/cake/bread department involving my favorite flavor!

Ah, but thanks to my crazy pregnancy cravings- that was all put to rest tonight. I made a delectable Pumpkin Pie Milkshake patterned after one I saw over here.

Oh me.

Oh my.

I do SO love Pumpkin Pie flavored stuff- I have pumpkin spice Hershey kisses (which I ration out through the year) and found Pumpkin spiced candy corn at our Market District GE this year, too!

I can't say a word about those pumpkin lattes everyone is goo goo over, I'm not a coffee drinker at all. BUT I do have a box of decaf Pumpkin Spice tea made by stash that I love! ;)

So, pumpkin beverages are so fun to have this time of year and while I DO love a hot beverage, I'm a sucker for anything ice cream related. I adapted this recipe just a bit by adding gingersnap cookies to it. As I recall, a few years back a local burger place had gingersnap milkshakes that I could.not.get.enough.of- at the time. Maybe I was pregnant then, too. Wait... I was! with the twins! LOL Anyway, give this recipe a try anytime between now and Thanksgiving- after that, we'll all move onto PEPPERMINT flavored milkshakes, etc!!!

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake
adapted from Our Best Bites

To your blender, add:

1/4- 1/2 cup milk- start with 1/4 cup and then add more in the last step
1/3 cup pumpkin
heaping 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice -easy to make your own
dash of vanilla extract
2 Tbs brown sugar

Blend together all of the above, THEN add:

2 cups of vanilla ice cream

Give it a whirl and if it's not whirling well, add 1/4 cup more milk.

Pour into a tall, frosty mug and sprinkle crushed gingersnap cookies on top!

sip slowly and enjoy every minute

Makes ONE generous milkshake!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Spice Cake ~ 10.29.11

This delightful apple cake is a snap to put together. Just mix in the ingredients and pour into your greased bundt pan. Bundt cakes (if you grease properly and flour properly) - always come out looking so beautiful and fancy. The aroma that will fill your home as this cake bakes will definitely warm up your taste buds.
Be sure to make some caramel sauce (or buy a jar in a pinch- I love Tastefully Simple Creamy Caramel Sauce). I just happened to have a jar of Aldi's brand in my pantry, so that's what worked out for me the day I made this for our church group.

Once you make this, you'll agree this cake is worthy of a celebration- which was why I originally tried it! For my son's 4th birthday party we made this to go along with other fall treats. But it's just as great for a Sunday brunch, too.


Apple Spice Cake
originally posted at She's a Crafty Pumpkin, Oct. 28, 2006
courtesy Dorothy Mae Brown, via Martha Stewart dot com

1 1/3 c vegetable oil
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into half inch pieces (I've used MacIntosh, too)
1 cup assorted nuts (optional)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce

--Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside.

-- Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. 
 --In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon yellow. 
--With mixer on medium speed, gradually add in dry ingredients until just incorporated. 
--Add apples and, if desired, nuts, to batter; mix to combine. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
--Pour (it's rather thick, so use a spatula) batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes. 
--Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.
 --Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and serve drizzled with caramel sauce.

Serves 10. (I've sliced into several more slices than that before, too)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup~ 10. 24.11

Continuing my trend this week of copying recipes from my other blog and posting them here. Before they're forgotten! Some of these haven't been made in ages.

I may have mentioned my love and affection for all things tomato- and this soup fits the bill. I may need to make it this week! heartburn schmartburn! (ah the joys of pregnancy)

I do use a foley food mill to make my soup. Ever see one of those before? One of my beloved kitchen tools. You can sometimes nab one at a garage sale or thrift store. Or raid your grandmother's cabinets and ask her for hers ;) Mine came from my grandfather and then I upgraded to a less rusty version when I saw one at a garage sale a few years back.
So handy and a  kid can operate it! 
that's Dom making applesauce!

Anyway, this soup does have a bit of wait time with those tomatoes roasting... but you'll be ever so thankful you did that step. House smelling all warm and lovely- tomatoes cooking in a beautiful marinade adding a wonderful depth of flavor to your tomato soup... yep, it's a good thing.

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

Cooking the vegetables at the high temperature of 500° caramelizes their natural sugars and deepens their flavor; the liquid poured over them ensures they won't burn. Prepare the soup up to two days ahead; reheat over medium heat before serving.

1 cup less-sodium beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained
Cooking spray
3/4 cup half-and-half
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 500°.
Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture. Bake at 500° for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Garnish with cracked black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

CALORIES 120(35% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 3g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 3.8g; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 120mg; SODIUM 452mg; FIBER 1.7g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.9g

Julie Grimes
Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spaghetti Pie ~10.23.11

I did a quick search on this blog the other day and was flabbergasted that I have never shared the following recipe with you here! Shame!
I make this a lot. It's hearty and creamy and delcious. My husband likes it, a lot. And depending on the day of the week, most of the kids like it, too. ;)

I find that you can use a bit more tomato sauce and usually make a little extra to have on the side. I also use light sour cream. Always have in this recipe. Don't usually use whole wheat pasta, but I bet that would be better for us, now wouldn't it?

And once upon a time I actually took pics of this at certain steps, but forgot the best part... the finished product! Guess I'll have to make it again soon and take a photo!

Spaghetti Pie
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cups chopped green onions
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
2 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350

In large skillet over medium heat, cook sirloin until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain and return to pan. Stir in seasonings and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, onions, and cream cheese.

Place spaghetti in a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray.

Spoon sour cream mixture over spaghetti and spread evenly. Place the ground sirlion mixture on top. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake, covered, for 25 minutes.

 here it is sans cheese- I wish I had a pic of it in all its creamy glory on my plate!

Uncover and bake 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

** You can certainly freeze this for a new mom or yourself! Just wrap tightly with foil and date and put it in the freezer before you bake it!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Granola ~ 10.13.11

It always amuses me how I end up some places on the web. Just the other day I landed here and found a lovely recipe for Pumpkin Spice Granola. I was intrigued by it because it called for adding sweet potato puree and I just roasted some sweets the other day and had not eaten them yet. Coupled with the fact that I love making granola and haven't for some time- this recipe was sure to hit my oven in less than a day!

And it did! I love a quick recipe turnaround. Print one day and make it the next (or that night!). I did one better by reviewing it for you, on the blog. She has a lot of great recipes, so be sure to visit and try one of the many granola recipes she featured recently.

I was hoping that while it was cooking it would taste as amazing as my house smelled. The aroma was delightful and so comforting. And the taste- delicious. Not too sweet at all, in my opinion-- just right!

I appreciated the idea of letting your granola cool in the oven to let it crisp--- that didn't always happen in the past with other recipes I've tried. So, from now on... cooling in the oven after it bakes!

Pumpkin Spice Granola
adapted from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

4 1/2 cups oats (I used a combo of Steel Cut and Old Fashioned)
2 1/2 cups Rice Crispy type cereal
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice **(I made my own and recipe is at bottom)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/4 cup applesauce (just happened to have homemade!)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the oats, cereal and wheat germ in a large bowl. Add in the spices and the salt.

In another bowl, mix the sugar, sweet potato, applesauce, syrup and vanilla.

Add the puree to the oat mixture and stir to coat.

Spread onto a large cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper (you could spray with cooking spray) or baking pan. Bake for 30 min at 325 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes.

Let cool in the oven and store in an airtight container or large ziplock bag. Granola will keep for several weeks -- if it lasts that long!

**Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice mixture
(found somewhere on the internet)

To a small glass jar add:
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom*

print out a little label with the date and contents and you have your own Pumpkin Pie Spice!
*I searched high and low in my pantry and somehow was out of cardamom, so, know that it will taste just fine without it in your spice mixture, too. ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mexican Pizza ~ 10.1.11

I've been declaring my love for *Pinterest* on my other blog, but really, it has provided the Crafty Cafe patrons a wonderful assortment of good eats over the past 2 months!

Lately, I've been craving Mexican-inspired foods. I haven't stepped foot in or driven through a Taco Bell drive thru in over 5 years and suddenly.... the bean burrito is my new best friend! LOL
So, when I saw this recipe for Mexican pizza using ingredients I almost ALWAYS have on hand... I was sold and knew it would make the list of recipes to try immediately!

But first, a good salsa is not a bad thing to have in your fridge and this homemade restaurant-style version from Ree is a winner! It's been on my to-try list for awhile, anyway, so Mexican pizza and the fact that I didn't have a jar of salsa on hand at all were the perfect reasons to give it a go!

It comes together super-duper fast, if you have a food processor. And Thankfully, I do! But if you don't, I bet a blender would do the trick.

And that wonderful creation goes beautifully inside this next recipe for Mexican Pizza.
Here's the original post that I saw and my take on the recipe! I don't have exact amts b/c it all depends on how many you're making it for. I usually get all the ingredients ready so that throughout the week, I can have mexican pizza whenever I want it!

Mexican Pizza
my version

tortillas- I like whole wheat
1 can refried beans- I choose the one with least amt of sodium and opt for vegetarian - we are going to doctor these up!

couple green onions- chopped
salsa of your choice
couple tomatoes- chopped
shredded cheese- colby jack is good
optional: onion, jalapeno, sour cream, taco sauce

Preheat your oven and line a pan with foil.
Take 2 tortillas and brush them with a little canola oil.
Place in oven for about 10 min.
While the tortillas as warming/crisping-- heat your refried beans in a small saucepan. Add in a 1/4 cup water,  couple Tbs chopped onion (no, thank you), 1 tsp taco seasoning (if none, use a little cumin and chili powder and garlic powder), I added some of my fave- Adobo seasoning and a couple turns of freshly gr black pepper.
Let the beans heat on the stovetop, on low, careful not to burn.
Chop your veggies and grate your cheese- some tomato, green onions and if you'd like more heat- jalapeno

Take the tortillas out and build your pizza!
1. spread a good amt of beans on one tortilla. Add a dollop of salsa- not too much.
2. top with second tortilla and spread a dollop of salsa on that and add some chopped veggies: tomato, green onion and jalapeno
3. Top it all with cheese and put it back in the oven for about 12 min.

Remove from oven, slice and serve! Ole!