Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chocolatetown Special Cake

From: 100 Best Brand Name Recipes cookbook

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
2/3 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk

Frosting:
6 Tbsp butter, softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4-6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together cocoa and water in small bowl until smooth.

Beat shortening, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to shortening mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended. Add cocoa mixture; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with buttercream frosting.

For frosting:
Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.


Verdict:
Thumbs up! I love homemade cake. They are cheaper than box mixes (really!) and I usually have everything on hand already so I save a trip to the store. This recipe is delicious! It's so easy I'll definitely be making it again.

*P.S. It says "You're a beast" because I was celebrating Stephen completing a Spartan Beast race!*   

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sweet and Sour Venison Stir-Fry

From: One Pot cookbook

Ingredients: 
12 oz venison steak
1 bunch of scallions
1 red bell pepper
3 1/2 oz snow peas
3 1/2 oz baby corn cobs
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp clear honey
8 oz canned pineapple pieces, drained
1/4 cup bean sprouts
freshly cooked rice, to serve

Trim any fat from the venison and cut into thin strips. Cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces. Halve and seed the red bell pepper and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the snow peas and baby corn.

Heat the oil in a preheated wok or skillet over high heat. Add the venison, garlic, and gingerroot and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the scallions, red bell pepper, snow peas, and baby corn cobs, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sherry and honey. Stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes.

Carefully stir in the pineapple pieces and bean sprouts and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to heat through. Serve with freshly cooked rice and extra soy sauce for dipping.



Verdict:
Thumbs up! I love stir-fry and I've done a sweet and sour before that I didn't love. I really liked this one although I did vary the recipe a bit on the veggies. I used onions instead of scallions, no baby corn cobs (didn't have any at home), ginger powder instead of gingerroot, I left out the sherry, and I didn't add bean sprouts. But the sauce was so yummy and I loved the other flavors as well! I'll be making this one again.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chili Con Carne

From: One Pot cookbook

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 lb 12 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1 lb 12 oz canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups beef stock
salt
cilantro

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the beef. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until broken up and browned.

Reduce the heat, add the onion, garlic and bell pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, tomatoes and their juices, and kidney beans. Pour in the beef stock and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is tender.

Chop the cilantro and stir into the chili. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.


Verdict:
Well, although I did like this recipe, there are many other chili recipes I prefer. I probably won't make this one again. My two favorite recipes are my mom's recipe and the Wendy's copycat recipe. This one is a little sweeter than those and a little soupier. If you like trying new chili recipes I still recommend it. Great flavor.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

From: 100 Favorite Brand Name Recipes cookbook

Ingredients:
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
3 cups hot cooked rotini pasta (2 cups uncooked)
1 can tuna (12 oz) packed in water, drained and flaked
1 1/3 cups french fried onions, divided
1 package frozen peas and carrots
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Combine soup and milk in 2-quart shallow casserole dish. Stir in pasta, tuna, 2/3 cup french fried onions, vegetables and cheese. Top with remaining french fried onions. Cover, cook in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.


Verdict:
Thumbs up! I loved this. I did only use one can of tuna, but it was enough. I like tuna but I think one 5-oz can was just enough of the tuna flavor. I will definitely make this again in the future, even though I had to eat the entire casserole by myself. Why am I the only one in this family who likes tuna!?!?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

From: Recipes to Live By (Kelly)

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Pour a third of the batter into a greased 8X4X2-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar on top of batter. Repeat layers twice.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.



Verdict:
Thumbs up! I actually made this recipe a year ago for the first time and forgot to blog about it. I love cinnamon bread because I will eat it for breakfast, lunch, snack, whatever! This is a great recipe because it's simple and delicious. I love it! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

From: 100 Favorite Brand Name Recipes cookbook

Ingredients:

Crust (make your own or buy pre-made like I did!)

Filling:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Meringue:
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
4 egg whites
3/4 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

For filling, combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in medium saucepan. Add hot water gradually, stirring constantly. Cook and stir on medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce heat to low. Cook and stir constantly 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add about one third of hot mixture slowly to egg yolks. Mix well. Return mixture to saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook and stir 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in butter and lemon peel. Add lemon juice slowly. Mix well. Spoon into baked pie crust.

For meringue, combine 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, and 1/2 cup cold water in small saucepan. Stir until cornstarch dissolves. Cook and stir on medium heat until mixture is clear. Cool.

Combine egg whites and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at high speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in remaining 6 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time. Beat well after each addition. Combine meringue with cornstarch mixture and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over filling, covering completely and sealing to edge of pie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden. Cool to room temperature before serving.


Verdict:
This was a great recipe! I won't say it was easy. It was simple but very time consuming. I will say that I did not realize until I was just typing this up that I completely left out the lemon juice! Kind of the most important ingredient!! Funny, though, neither myself nor my parents noticed this!

Also, based on my personal experience (i.e. failure), do not whip your egg whites in a plastic bowl. I have done soft/firm peaks many times in my life and I kept failing at this yesterday. I couldn't figure out why until I read online that plastic bowls have too much oil residue on them and will keep eggs from beating properly. Learn from my mistake!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gaiety Pastel Cookies

From: 100 Favorite Brand Name Recipes cookbook

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 package (4 serving size) Jello gelatin, any flavor
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Additional Jello gelatin (same flavor)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl to soften. Gradually add sugar and 1 package gelatin, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with bottom of a glass. Sprinkle with additional gelatin.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.



Verdict:
Thumbs up! These are incredibly easy and fast to make. They are really good! The Jello cooking on top gives a little zing to the cookies. I also like that you can make any flavor you want. I made fruit punch. Yum!