Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Cake and a Special Helper

It has been a super hot fall here in North Carolina. This week, right in the middle of October, we hit 90 degrees. We have fake pumpkins on the steps and have not had the first pot of chili or our favorite Hamburger Soup. One afternoon this week, I couldn't stand it any longer. It was definitely time to mix up a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. Those of you who have known me for years, know that I am a big fan of cake mixes. Actually, I love the flavor and the moistness. This pumpkin cake was originally a "from scratch" recipe. But, there is always a way to reinvent any cake with cake mixes.

Parker and I were home one afternoon, and he was hungry and bored. I pulled out the aprons and the portable mixer. We had a great day and wound up with a delicious dessert that everyone loved. Well, Parker's mom thought that it was a little heavy on the cinnamon and cloves. Adjust, if you aren't a spice cake lover.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a tube pan - I always use Baker's Joy and then distribute the spray with a paper towel

1- French Vanilla Cake Mix - or any yellow or white cake mix without pudding
1/2 cup sugar
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs - brought to room temperature

Dump all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Find a little boy who loves to use an electric mixer. Let him mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. We created a tornado in the center. Carefully pour the mixture into a well greased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Invert pan and cool on wire rack. Cool completely

Cream Cheese Icing

I have used this recipe for almost 50 years. It turns out perfect every time.

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended.
Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.

Spread the icing on the cooled cake. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hot Fudge Cake and a Cherry on Top

My family expects at least one dessert a week. I try to do something special on Sundays. It is quite hard to get up early, get Sunday dinner started, shower, get dressed, read a devotional, and get to church by 10 am. Therefore, I bake our dessert the night before or use one of my beloved cake mixes. It seems that as they have grown older, everyone has a newly found love for chocolate. This Hot Fudge Cake originally came from one of my early 1980's Southern Living cookbooks and uses a devil's food cake mix.

Personally, I believe that cake mixes and self rising flour were the best creations of the 20th century. My mother, a real South Georgia farm girl, most always used cake mixes, but made her icing from scratch. Her philosophy was that icing makes the cake. She also rolled out dumplings from canned biscuits and used self rising flour most of the time. She was a teacher and had to make the most of her meal preparation time, while pleasing a picky husband. He needed three meals a day, would not touch leftovers, and always wanted a dessert after supper. 

I'm sure that your family will love this Hot Fudge Cake - served while warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Don't get me wrong, the room temperature leftovers are delicious as well. 

Hot Fudge Cake

1 package devil's food cake mix without pudding
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups very hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Vanilla Ice Cream

Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Pour into a 13 X 9 glass pan that has been sprayed lightly with  Baker's Joy. Mix together the next three ingredients and pour over the batter - this mixture will sink to the bottom of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with Vanilla Ice Cream. Don't forget a cherry on top of the ice cream, or two or three for your little ones. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nutella Cream Pie with Ritz Cracker Crust

Nutella is a rather new spread for my pantry. My grandchildren love it. Their other grandparents are from Venezuela and Spain. They grew up on Nutella spread and ate sandwiches on white bread with the chocolate hazelnut  spread as the filling, One taste and I was hooked. This yummy no bake pie is so delicious without being rich or heavy, especially in the summertime. We have made the pie several times with different crusts, but really enjoy a Ritz Cracker crust. The salty crackers are a nice accent to the sweet hazelnut spread.

Ritz Cracker Crust

2 sleeves of Ritz Crackers- crushed - about 60
1/3 cup butter - melted and cooled
4 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

I like to crush my crackers in a gallon baggie with a rolling pin - It is also easy to use the food processor, but I hate to have to wash all of those parts.

Mix crumbs and sugar in a medium size bowl- Pour butter into mixture. Mix well. Spoon into a 9 inch pie plate and press evenly on bottom and sides. I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to get the crumbs compacted in the plate and up the sides

Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned. 

Nutella Cream Pie Filling

1 8 ounce cream cheese block - softened
1 cup of Nutella Hazelnut  Spread
1/4 cup of Powdered Sugar
1 16 ounce Cool Whip

Mix cream cheese with mixer until smooth.
Add Nutella and powdered sugar.
Continue mixing until well incorporated.
Fold in 8 ounces of the Cool Whip.

Pour into cooled pie crust and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Top with the remainder of the Cool Whip and drizzle Nutella over all.

Chill for a few hours before serving. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Storm and Hamburger Soup

I have been through many hurricanes, during my 64 years living in Florida. We survived Donna in the 1960's and most recently hurricane Charley in 2004. We were without electricity, water, and gas for almost two weeks. I promised myself that when I relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, I would not miss hurricane season. Now, we are bracing for a winter ice storm in about the same way that we prepared for a hurricane, minus boarding up the windows and pulling in everything that could be a projectile. Luckily, we had a tree removed last week that had been struck by lightning. Inches of ice would have done it no favors, and it was angled to take a fall on the house.
Today we were warned that heavy ice is predicted for the Charlotte area with up to 2 inches of freezing rain. When faced with a crisis, I sent my daughter to the store to get the ingredients for our family favorite Hamburger soup. We forgot to get bottled water and formula, but we will have soup for days or even weeks. This recipe is so good and smells great simmering on the stovetop. We do have a gas cooktop, therefore, we will be eating, even if we lose electricity.

Hamburger Soup from the Wauchula Methodist Church Cookbook

1 pound ground round - seasoned with salt and pepper and browned until meat is no longer pink in skillet

2 - 32 ounce containers of beef broth

4 - 10 1/2 ounce cans of Campbell's French Onion soup

1 - 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped celery leaves from top of stalk

4 or 5 peeled and sliced carrots

1 bay leaf

8 ounces of medium macaroni shells - uncooked

Place browned ground round in large Dutch Oven with cover. Add the remainder of ingredients, excluding the macaroni shells.

Bring to a slow boil and simmer covered several hours or until carrots are tender.

Add macaroni shells and cook on low another 20 to 30 minutes or until tender

This soup is best when prepared in a heavy dutch oven with a heavy lid. The flavors will combine for a hearty and delicious soup.
This recipe serves 10 to 12 or will yield a great pot of leftovers. As in many soups and stews, the soup tastes even better the next day after the flavors have melded together. I hope that you don't have an ice storm this season, but please enjoy this delicious soup recipe.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Chocolate Seduction PIe for Santa's Sweet Tooth

One of the most decadent desserts that I have ever eaten is a chocolate pie that I first enjoyed at a local cafĂ© in my home town. The name of the pie is Chocolate Seduction and it stands up very well to its title. The pie is very rich and has a velvety texture with a thin crisp layer on top. The ingredients are probably found in your pantry at all times. Santa claims that it his very favorite late night pick me up, especially when served with a dollop of whipped cream and a glass of cold milk. The recipe makes two pies. One to enjoy now and one to save for Christmas Eve or any special occasion. The pie freezes very well and will keep for several months when frozen.

Chocolate Seduction Pie

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate - we use Baker's
4 sticks butter - do not substitute
5 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp high quality vanilla
2 - refrigerated pie crust fit into nine inch pie plates

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter together on low heat until completely melted and blended, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and mix well. Mixture will be grainy. Add heavy cream and stir continuously over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Mixture will appear smooth and silky. Remove from heat.
Beat eggs and yolks in a small bowl. Gradually add to chocolate mixture using a whisk until fully mixed. Pour beaten eggs in very slowly in a thin stream. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into pie shells and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until pies are almost set, but have a little shake in the middle.
Today, it took an hour for the pies to bake. I really had the shells filled full. Just remember to begin checking them around 40 minutes, as you do not want them to bake hard.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Quick and Easy Lasagna and the Boy Who Loved it for Breakfast

My oldest son is a very successful veterinarian. He also is a great family man, volunteers for many community events, and is a great cook. Recently, when I visited with his family for a week, he let the beans spill, that he loved my Quick and Easy Lasagna, especially for breakfast the next morning. And, he admitted that he preferred it cold. I am definitely not a fan of cold lasagna, but I did make it this week and it was delicious served hot from the oven with lots of gooey cheese melted throughout and on the top.
I have made this recipe so many times that I can make it in my sleep. It takes about 20 minutes to throw together and 35 minutes to bake, and therefore is a great weeknight meal. When I first started making lasagna in the early 1970's ricotta cheese was not available in our small town grocery stores, therefore, I always substituted cottage cheese. It may not be very sophisticated, but my family still prefers it made with cottage cheese.

Quick and Easy Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
1 1/2 pound ground round
1 32 ounce jar Ragu Old World pasta sauce
1 16 ounce container cottage cheese
24 ounces of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Boil noodles in salted boiling water with a little olive oil added to water - Use package directions for cooking times. I have tried to use the "no cook" noodles, but it just isn't the same taste or texture.

Brown ground beef in large skillet until cooked through with no pink showing. I season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Mix Ragu pasta sauce into meat and simmer while noodles are cooking.

Grease with olive oil a 9X13 lasagna pan. Place 6 noodles on the bottom of pan. Spread half of the cottage cheese and 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese on the noodles. Top with half of the meat sauce. Repeat layers ending with meat sauce on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and add the last 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese. Bake another 5 - 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven.  Let sit another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tomato-Artichoke Spinach Salad and a 16th Birthday

Recently, I made a quick trip to Florida to visit my oldest son and his family. I had an incredible trip and was fortunate enough to be part of some very special milestones. My oldest grandson turned 16 with all of the hoopla and celebration that goes with a new drivers license and freedom. His little brother, only a mere freshman in high school was moved up to the Varsity football team for the remainder of the season and the next year. I was lucky enough to be there for a game and watch him catch an amazing touchdown pass.
Their little sister, always the cool girl, is practicing her safe passenger techniques while looking great -
Things were so very hectic, but my daughter in law always comes up with delicious meals on the run. We had this delicious Tomato Artichoke Spinach Salad one night and it was just the perfect touch to complete our pasta dinner. Since I have returned to North Carolina we have enjoyed it several times. It is fairly easy to put together and healthy also.
Tomato Artichoke Spinach Salad
3 Large Plum Tomatoes - Quartered
2 Tablespoons Basil Pesto
2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar - or Red Wine
1 cup quartered Artichoke Hearts - Drained
1/2 cup Cheese and Garlic Croutons
2 Cups Baby Spinach
Whisk pesto and vinegar in a medium salad bowl until well blended. Add tomatoes, artichokes, and croutons, toss until evenly coated. Add spinach to bowl and gently mix. Serve immediately