Friday, November 5, 2010

Black Forest Cake

From Allrecipes

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix with pudding (I used a regular devil's food cake mix)
3 eggs
1 T almond extract (I recommend only 1 t)
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 T butter
2 T milk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Mix together: cake mix, beaten eggs, almond extract, cherry pie filling and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips.  Stir until just combined.  Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan (or two 9-inch round pans).  Batter will be thick, a better word than pour is spoon.
3.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (25-30 minutes for round pans) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cake from oven and let cool.
4.  To make Glaze:  Heat 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, butter or margarine, and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Once semisweet chocolate chips are melted and mixture is combined, stir in confectioners' sugar.
5.  Spread glaze over cooled cake.  Serve cake as is or with whipped cream and a cherry.
Ellen asked me for a chocolate and cherry cake for her birthday--this was the result.  I used whip cream to "frost" between the 2 layers and decorate the edges.  The glaze was awesome!  It made a potentially crumbly cake very easy to cover.  I especially liked the chocolate chips in the cake and although the cherries were good, I could do without them (everyone else thought they were great).  I'm not sure if it was the cherries or full tablespoon of almond extract, but there was a flavor I wasn't familiar with--next time I'd try only 1 teaspoon almond extract.  My favorite part of the cake and the reason I post this recipe was the glaze.  Jeff thought it could take the place of hot fudge on ice cream.  I will definitely make this glaze again.

Grannie's Chicken Noodle Soup (or my best try to imitate it!)

From Grannie
Serves 8 to 10

5 cups water
1 chicken bullion cube
1 package Noodle Soup Mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups baby carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups celery
1 small to medium onion
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (or 3 cups cooked chicken/turkey)
homemade noodles (use 1/2 of the noodles from this recipe, freeze the rest for next time) or frozen noodles from your grocer
frozen peas

1.  Place water, bullion, soup mix, cream of chicken soup, carrots, celery, onion, and chicken in crock pot.  Cook on low for 5 hours.
2.  Move soup into pan, bring to boil on stove.  Add noodles and cook for 12-15 minutes (or per package directions).
3.  Remove from stove, place into serving dishes and add frozen peas (to help soup cool).

I love this soup.  Feel free to alter the ingredients and amounts to your liking.  I was first introduced to this soup when Grannie made it one November with turkey leftovers.  She then served the soup over leftover mashed potatoes or stuffing.  It was excellent!  Of course, you don't need potatoes or stuffing as this is great on its own.  My favorite part of the meal was hearing my 3 children each say, "I love the carrots.  I love the onions.  I love the chicken."

To make Turkey Noodle Soup from leftover turkey bones:
1.  Pick marjority of meat from bones, it is not essential that all the meat be removed.  Place large bones from turkey (legs, thighs, and wings--do not use the backbone as the "little" bones are difficult to remove) in a large pot and fill with water so about three-forths of the bones are covered.  Bring to boil the let lighty boil for 3-4 hours.

2.  Strain the bones/meat so that the turkey stock is saved.  Place stock in fridge for use on the following day.  Clean remained meat from bones (save to make in the soup) and discard bones.

3.  When turkey stock has cooled, skim fat off of top.

4.  Make soup as above omitting water and bullion cube in place of turkey stock.

Homemade Noodles

Prep time: 25 min
Dry time: 4 hours
From Granny's Homemade Noodles
4 eggs
2 T water
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1.  Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl.  Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate large bowl and make a well in the middle.  Pour the beaten eggs into the well, then stir in the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.
2.  Roll the dough into a very thin layer on a lightly-floured surface; cut into 1/2 inch strips.  Allow to dry at least 4 hours before using.

This is only the second time I've made homemade noodles.  I was pleased with the result and look forward to practicing this or would be willing to try anyone else's tried and true noodle recipe.  Just a couple of notes:  I had to add a bit more water because I didn't feel like the dough was coming together--I probably used 4 T water altogether.  Also, roll the dough as THIN as possible.  When you've rolled it out as thin as you think you can, turn it over and roll it out again (this really helped).

I tried 2 different ways of cutting the dough.  First, I rolled the dough up and cut it with a string or a knife (this is how I remember seeing my mother-in-law do it).  That worked well (as long as I didn't squeeze the dough too much) except that it was kind of tedious unrolling each cut; of course my 2 year old was being a tremendous amount of help ;).

When I was half way done, I decided to unroll the remaining dough and use a pizza cutter.  I think this was easier, although I was extremely cautious not to scratch my kitchen counter.  If you don't plan on using your noodles in the same day, let them dry for a couple of hours and then loosely gather them into a bird's nest, place them in a freezer bag, and freeze them.  When ready to use, remove from freezer and let thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Drop into boiling water or soup and cook for 12-15 minutes.  Delicious in Grannie's Chicken Noodle Soup.

*Since this posting, Grannie gave me her recipe.  It is my new preference.

Buttermilk Syrup

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (can subsitute regular milk w/ 1 tsp lemon juice--let sit 5 minutes)
1 T light corn syrup

Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine. Add 2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest, if desired.

This is the best homemade syrup I've ever tried; thick and creamy.  Well worth the extra effort if you want to make breakfast special.  I didn't try any orange or lemon lest this time, but maybe I'll experiment another time--just don't know how you could make this better.

Brown-Sugar-Glazed Winter Squash

Serves 6 to 8

Don’t mix the brown sugar and butter ahead of time; it will crystallize and separate. Butternut squash can be stringy when undercooked, so if you’re not sure, err on the side of overcooking.

2 medium butternut squash or buttercup squash (about 2 1/2 pounds each)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Split squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Remove baking sheet from oven and position squash cut side down. Return quickly to oven and roast until tender and flesh is easily pierced through skin with skewer, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven, turn cut side up, and set oven to broil. Whisk butter and sugar together in small bowl, brush mixture on squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and broil until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Serve.

I had made a similar butternut squash a couple of weeks ago and then came across this recipe.  I thought I'd try it just for fun.  I liked it both ways, but this way the squash seemed even more tender.  Just plain good all around.  I only cooked one squash tonight but mixed the same amount of butter and sugar.  I had plenty of butter/sugar mix, next time I'll half it as one is plenty for my family.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Ingredients (12 cup tube pan)              Ingredients (8 cup tube pan)
1 ½ c butter, softened                            1 cup butter
3 c sugar                                                     2 c sugar
6 large eggs                                                4 eggs
3 c all-purpose flour                              2 c flour
½ t salt                                                       1/3 t salt
¼ t baking soda                                       1/4 t baking soda
8 oz sour cream                                       5 oz sour cream
1 t lemon extract                                      2/3 t lemon extract
¼ t almond extract                                 1/4 t almond extract

1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears.
2. Sift together flour, salt, and soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan (grease well with shortening, light sprinkle with flour, a must).
3. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes for the 12 cup tube pan (or 60-70 minutes for an 8 cup tube pan) or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, and cool completely on wire rack. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

I've been excited to try this ever since I purchased a tube pan at the DI for $1.  My find held only 8 cups so I had to scale this recipe down.  We made this for a birthday cake, but since I didn't do a great job greasing the pan, we drizzled the cake with chocolate fondue sauce and decorated it with bugs for my 6 year old.  He thought it was great--the kids really like nibbling on the cubed pound cake the day after.  It actually turned out very cute, only the bugs missed have their picture taken.

Balsamic Bruschetta

from Allrecipes

8 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced

In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, and garlic.  Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Serve on toasted bread slices.

The kids and I brought Jeff lunch at work on day after making this for him.  It was delicious on a fresh  baguette and tasted just like summer should.  Later that night, we had it on the toasted baguette, but I liked it better on the untoasted bread.  Be generous with the Parmesan cheese and be sure to use fresh cheese and basil, a must!  This will keep in the fridge for several days--if it lasts that long.


Adapted from Allrecipes

2 whole artichokes
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Fill large pot with a couple of inches of water.  Bring to a full boil over high heat.  While water is heating, trim and discard the stems and tough outer leaves of artichokes (cut off all the poky parts with scissors and slice off a portion of the top).  Tuck slivers of butter and slices of garlic into artichoke leaves.
2.  When water is boiling, place steamer insert in pot and set artichokes in steamer, stem-side down (I don't have a steamer so I placed a tin pie pan in the bottom of the pot and put the artichokes in there--I don't know if it mattered, but they cooked beautifully).  Cover pot with lid and allow artichokes to steam for approximately 25 minutes, until tender (when a leaf pulls off easily).
3.  Removed artichokes.  Dip flesh in a mix of butter, salt and pepper.

*Recently, I got two artichokes as part of a produce co-op.  The only time I have ever had an artichoke was 10 years ago as a missionary.  This was an easy way to cook them.  I was proud of Jacob for eating a couple of leaves and Jeff liked them, too.  I have to admit, the delicate flavor was a perfect excuse to have a little salty butter....hmmm, butter.  This was a fancy treat, but not something I would routinely buy artichokes for.