Monday, January 8, 2018

Chocolate Cake

342.  Chocolate Cake!!!  Just the sound of those two words together can make your taste buds smile.  But I'm not talking just any cake...I'm talking moist, soft, chocolatey, rich.  So good that you take your fork and gather up every little crumb left on the plate.  Chocolatey Ganache settles on top like a crown.  And the secret is, "It's Vegan".  I didn't believe it either...till I made it.  Richa Hingle from shares this jewel and her description sold me on the recipe.  Once I made it, I will always come back time and again to this easy but delectable cake.
The first time I made the cake I used almond butter in the ganache.  The second time, peanut butter and raspberry jam in the center.  Both cakes were lip smacking but I preferred the peanut butter in the ganache.
Here is the recipe for Vegan Chocolate Cake with chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache.  And what is great about this blog is that the recipes are in a great print format with nutrition facts.

I think you should bake a Chocolate Cake tonight!  You need it!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Apple Raspberry Mini Pies

341.  Fall has arrived and the harvest of summer fruits is winding down.  And, a pie is always a good idea!   So tonight, it is Mini Apple Raspberry Pies...a little taste of summer and a little taste of fall.  

Apple Raspberry Mini Pies

3 Apples peeled, cored and cut in chunks
1 cup of fresh red raspberries (never rinse)
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 tsp of apple pie spices or cinnamon
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tblsp butter
1 recipe of pie dough

Prepare the apples and mix with the sugar, corn starch, spices and lemon juice.  Mix together and set aside.  Roll out the pie dough till 1/4" thick and cut out circles or squares large enough to fit into  each space in a muffin pan and trim to fit.  Fill each dough cup with the apples and juices from the bottom of the mixture.  Top each apple pile with 5 or so raspberries. 
Roll remaining dough out 1/4" thick and cut round, square or cookie cutter shapes for each mini pie top.  Dot the apples with butter and place the cut shape on top of the apples.  No need to seal.  Brush with milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees till the liquid is bubbling, about 20 -25 minutes.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

I topped off the pie with an autumn leaf cut out from my pie dough.
 Go out and enjoy the fall by picking apples or pumpkins.  Try baking something for your family and enjoy the simple pleasures of homemade goodies.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."
~ Winston Churchill

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pineapple Scones

340.  This morning I made a batch of scones for brunch and used a vegan recipe from my daughters vegan cookbook "Frugal Vegan" by the Katies.  Here is a great review for this cookbook at Well Vegan.  After major surgery six weeks ago I'm finding that eating vegan and vegetarian is agreeing with me in the healing process.

These scones are made with fresh pineapple.  The recipe calls for canned but the fresh fruit adds so much more flavor to this recipe.  You can find the full recipe on-line Here

Pineapple Scones 
(My version)

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut oil, measure and place in freezer first

Cut a ripe pineapple and chop 8oz (1 cup) into small pieces, set aside

Preheat oven to 425 degrees  Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet

1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped coarsely, set aside
Brown sugar

In a large bowl mix together:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In small measuring cup combine:
3/4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup nondairy milk (almond, coconut etc)
Allow the milk to sit and curdle, then add:
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Remove the frozen coconut oil from the freezer and cut it into small pieces. (I did this in the dry mixture bowl).  Place it into the dry mixture and cut the coconut oil into the dry mix till incorporated.  Be careful not to handle it too much so the coconut oil melts.
Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients a little at a time.  Then add the pineapple stirring till completely combined.

Carefully transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead gently to incorporate all the dry flour remaining.  Shape into a 12" x 12" square and cut in half, quarters then triangles.  Or use a cookie cutter to cut shapes.  Place each scone onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle each top with brown sugar and almonds.

Bake for 10 minutes or till the scones are high and lightly browned.

"Another name for vegan, fat-free, sugar-free brownies...compost."
~ Anonymous

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Poundcake & Pink for Baby Girl

339.  I't's a Girl!  was our theme for a Baby Shower recently.  The mom and dad love succulents so I went with a rustic romantic theme with pink being the dominant color.  I spray painted these little clothespins, pencils and also spray painted mason jars with pink and gold.  
Cut slices of wood and handmade doilies added rustic romantic to each centerpiece with pink roses, terra cotta pots and candles.  The doilies are my collection from my grandmother, mother and mother-in-law's handiwork.  
Our meal was lite and so perfect for a summer afternoon:  Chicken Salad on King Hawaiian's mini rolls, Fresh Fruit Parfaits, Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake recipe Here which was amazing! Veggies and Dip, Crackers and Cheese and Cream Puffs.
Our favors were White Chocolates in a Brazilian handmade rosette.
And a special gift I decided to encourage was for the ladies, who crochet or knit, to make a small square 4" X 4" in any design using the yarn I provide.  They had a month to make as many squares as they desired and then to return them to me for construction of a baby blanket.  There were 12 ladies that participated and each and every square was so unique.  Some were very elaborate and others were perfectly plain.  
 I did a crochet boarder around each square to make each square the same size then attached them together.  Lastly, placed a cozy flannel fabric on the back and using a blanket embroidery stitch to attach to the blanket with little picots every so often to keep the blanket attached to the fabric at the center and sides.
Each lady wrote her name on a card with a note to identify the squares they made. I then attached the card on their square with a ribbon that could easily be removed.
The blanket was beautiful and a great collaborative project!!  Of course matching the theme as well.
It was an enjoyable day celebrating a very special baby-on-the-way!  (But we won't mention when we went to pick up the cake and the bakery said we never order it...till I spoke with the manager, who I left the order with and he then remembered!!! us a full sheet cake for free!)
"'Tis love that makes the world go round, my baby."
~ Charles Dickens


338.  Cupcakes.  Wouldn't you just love one right now?  Chocolate, Vanilla or Carrot Cake Cupcake? No matter the flavor, a cupcake is always a delightful treat.  Satisfies me every time.  

My beautiful niece was engaged to be married and asked if I would whip up several batches of cupcakes for her Bridal Shower.  What an honor to be a part of her celebration in life.  The shower was held at a winery and our setting was on the back patio overlooking the vineyard.
So I chose to make three varieties:  Lemon Raspberry,  Salted Chocolate Caramel and Vanilla Blackberry.  
The Lemon Raspberry cupcakes were made from scratch with lemon cake, raspberry buttercream and raspberry jam filling topped with a fresh raspberry and lemon zest.

The Salted Chocolate Caramel cupcakes were made from scratch as well with a chocolate cake, caramel buttercream and fresh caramel placed in the center and drizzled across the top, then sprinkled with Flur d sal. 

The Vanilla Blackberry cupcakes were made from scratch with a vanilla cake, blackberry buttercream and blackberry jam filling topped with a fresh giant blackberry.

We had a lovely day and the beautiful bride-to-be was showered with love.
 My sweet sister was the hostess extraordinaire.  She designed all the flower arrangements and painted a masterful copy of their invitation.  Every detail was perfect...cupcakes included!
And, "They lived happily ever after."
"When you hold a cupcake, sorrow disappears."
~ Anonymous

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pan Roasted Chicken

 337.  Pan Oven Roasted Chicken is on the menu tonight.  It is simplistic and will always satisfy!
I chose to roast thighs because of their dark meat flavor and size.  I used bone-in chicken for flavor as well.
On a flat pan spray lightly with cooking spray or wipe olive oil over bottom and sides of pan.  Wash and pat chicken dry.  Place in the pan skin side up.  Sprinkle over the chicken coarse sea salt, pepper corn crushed and a whole garlic clove smashed.  From this point you could sprinkle over any flavor you prefer:  Paprika, dill, thyme, rosemary, parsley, herbs d'province, mixed italian herbs, sazon
Spanish seasoning.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for one hour.  Do not cover the pan.  The chicken will shrink as it bakes and will render fat.  Serve with any sides of your choosing or remove from pan, place in a bowl and then in the fridge till the next day.  Tear the chicken off the bone and place on a cold salad or make chicken salad.  It's delicious!
"Classics can be phenomenal when done right. A simple roast chicken dish could be the best thing you ever ate."
Author - Joe Bastianich

Friday, July 14, 2017

Strawberry Peach Jam

336. No breakfast is complete without fresh fruit jam to slather on toast, muffins or croissant.  Walking down the grocers' aisle you can find a large variety of jam fruit flavors.  They always look so appetizing and delicious.  But when compared with a home made fresh fruit jam, there is no comparison. Occasionally you can pick up a great quality jam at a farm market or specialty store, but I am addicted to made-in-my-kitchen fresh fruit jam.  And I have the ability to add a pinch of this or that to design it to my exact taste.
Traditionally, home cooks would cook fruit with sugar till it would reach a thickened state when it coated the back of a cold spoon.  Unfortunately, some fruits have less pectin and it would take so long that the fruit would loose its beautiful bright color, turn brown and have an over cooked taste.  
I simply follow the Certo brand pectin directions which come in every box. Here is a beautiful pdf booklet you can download or print out for all jam, jelly and marmalade recipes from Certo. Find your fruit and follow the directions.  You can mix fruits as well,  peach with strawberries,  fig with plum or rhubarb with strawberries or figs. It's your choice.  Often when I have mixed fresh fruit salad left overs, I will measure and place the fruit in a saucepan, add sugar to the same measurement of fruit, place a pat of butter and bring it to a boil.  Add my Certo packet and place in sanitized jars.  Mixed fruit jam!  And I've done this with pineapple, kiwi, oranges and the like.  They all make beautiful jam when mixed together.

This jam was made with 5 cups of peaches and 1 cup of strawberries all cleaned and coarsely chopped, 7 cups of sugar, Tablespoon of lemon, 1 Tablespoon of butter (cuts down on foaming), pinch of cinnamon.  Mix all till completely blended and place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the jam is at a rolling boil that does not stop when you mix it, add your packet of Certo quickly.  Stir and bring back to boil.  Boiling for a full minute.  Turn off heat and ladle hot jam into sanitized jam size jars.  Wipe the glass rim and side rim of the jar with a clean wet towel so any drips do not interfere with the seal.   Cover with sanitized sealing lids that you are heating in boiling water off to the side.  Tighten lid and place up-side-down on a towel in a safe place on counter.  Jars will be very hot.  After 15 minutes turn your jars up-right and wait to hear the lovely sound of the seals popping on every jar.  It's a symphony!
You can use any jar that has a rubber seal on the lid.  Be careful that it is sanitized in very hot water and I use a little bleach to be extra careful with bacteria and a very hot rinse.  Then I place them upside-down until ready to fill.
I recycle these jars over and over but always careful that there are no scratches or rust on the inside lids.  The great thing about canning lids is that you can purchase just the round seal without buying a new lid band.  These seem to never wear out...unless of course they are old from a yard sale or your grandma's collection.  Walmart carries canning jars and supplies as well as Ace Hardware.  

Making jam is not hard...just takes time and diligence to follow the steps.  
“I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!" the Queen said. "Twopence a week, and jam every other day."
Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, "I don't want you to hire me - and I don't care for jam."
"It's very good jam," said the Queen.
"Well, I don't want any today, at any rate."
"You couldn't have it if you did want it," the Queen said.
"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never today."
"It must come sometimes to 'jam today'," Alice objected.
"No it can't," said the Queen. "It's jam every other day: today isn't any other day, you know.” 

― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

“Jam on a winter day took away the blues. It was like tasting summer. ” 
― Sandra Dallas


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