Applesauce

applesauce

Applesauce-who doesn’t like it.  I use this for my basic recipe, when I’m not going to can it.  With this as the base, I can then add anything to it I want.  Cinnamon, crushed strawberries or raspberry, anything.  The recipe is very easy and quick.  Try it.  You’ll probably never buy another jar from the store again.

3 lbs. Apples, peeled, cored and chopped (about 6) – tart apples make better sauce

3 cups water

1 cup sugar (can use white or light brown)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place apples in large saucepan and cover with water.  Simmer over medium low heat until apples are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Mash with potatoes masher or run through food mill.  you can make it smooth or leave small chunks, whichever you want.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Coca Cola Cake

Coca Cola cake

Happy Mother’s Day.  Woke up today thinking of my own mother and my grandmother, who passed on some years back.  My grandmother was a pretty special woman.  She was a very kind, loving person and I valued every moment that I got to spend with her.  She taught me a lot and I loved when she shared her recipes with me and when we cooked together.  One of the recipes that she shared, one that has been used a lot throughout the years, was her Coca Cola cake recipe.  I have used regular coke, cherry coke and vanilla coke in this recipes and loved each.  Coca Cola cakes have been around forever, and I tried many other recipes, but always go back to this one.  It just is better, not just because my grandmother gave it to me, but because it results in a better cake.

1 cup Coca-Cola

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Combine coke and buttermilk.  Set to one side.  Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda – sift two times.  In a medium mixing bowl beat butter at low speed till creamy.  Gradually add sugar and beat until blended.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat at low speed until blended.  Add cocoa-flour mixture alternately with the cola mixture.  Beat at low speed till blended.  Stir in marshmallows.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Pour Coca cola frosting over the warm cake.  Top with chopped pecans.

Coca Cola Frosting

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup Coca cola

3 tablespoons cocoa

16 oz. powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, coke and cocoa to a boil, stirring until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla till smooth.  Pour over warm cake.

Sourdough Bread

sourdough bread

Now that you have your starter, let me give you my favorite sourdough bread recipe.  This makes a really tasty, fragrant loaf of bread,  It has a nice crust and a good chew to the bread so it’s not like eating that “cotton” they pass off as white bread in the stores.  This makes great sandwiches, when there is any left after it comes out of the oven.  Most of the time, it is sliced and buttered and eaten before it even has time to cool off.

1 cup of starter

1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water

2 tsp. yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 tsp. salt

5 cups of all purpose flour (I use the unbleached bread flour)

Combine all of the ingredients and knead until a smooth dough forms.  I use my Kitchenaid and the dough hook.  You do not want to over knead it. Knead until the dough is smooth.  Lightly grease a large bowl and place dough in and cover it and let it rise for about 90 minutes in a warm area.  When it has doubled in size, divide the dough in half.  Shape the dough into 2 oval loaves.  Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and cover and let rise about an hour.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray the loaves with warm water. Place a cake pan with 1 cup of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.  Make two to three slashes across the loaves and bake for about 25-30 minutes.  Crust will be a golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  Enjoy.

Sour Dough

sourdough starter

One of the breads I like the most is Sourdough.  True you have to make a starter and keep up with it, but nothing compares to the crusty loaf of bread, or other baked goods you can make with the starter.  It has so much flavor.  On the whole, I am not a fan of white breads.  I think they have little to offer, but sourdough is a whole other animal.  It is definitely worth the effort.  The starter is really easy to make.  I use pretty much the same starter recipe that you will find on any website.  Once I have it going, I keep mine in the fridge and that cuts down on feeding it.  There is so much you can make with the starter and if you are like me and hate waste, you will find so much to use your daily discard for – crackers, waffles, biscuits and so much more.

Starter

1 cup whole wheat flour – you must have the benefits of the whole wheat – do not try to use white flour for the beginner

1/2 cup room temperature water – this should not be tap water.  Many city/country water systems use chlorine and other chemicals in their water.  These chemicals can retard the natural growth of the beneficial bacteria you will need to start your sourdough starter.

This starter takes several days.  On the first day combine the flour and the water.  I suggest that you use a container that will not react to chemical reactions.  I usually use a small crock with loose lid or a quart size mason jar with plastic wrap over it. Stir everything together and make sure that all the flour is incorporated. Loosely cover and let the mixture sit at room temperature.  If the room is chilly, find a place that is warm to sit the container in. Let the starter sit for at least 24 hours.  After the first 24 hours discard half of the starter – this will be about 1/2 cup.  You may see some bubbling or may not see any change at all.  It’s okay, some starters are faster than others.  After you discard half of the starter, add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of room temperature water.  Again do not use tap water.  Stir well and make sure all of the flour is incorporated.  Lightly cover and let sit for another 24 hours.  On the third day you should see some bubbling and the starter should look like it has grown.  Stir the starter and remove about 1/2 cup.  This is where I differ from many people who use sour dough – I do not throw away the rest of the starter.  I put it to one side and use it for baking.  I will be adding recipes for that.  Take the 1/2 cup that you saved and add to it, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup room temperature water.  Stir it down and make sure all the flour is incorporated.  Let sit for 12 hours.  I usually do this in the morning and do the second feeding in the evening.  That night (12 hours later) add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.  On the fourth day do the same thing – add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.  Let sit for 12 hours and do the same again.  On the fifth day do the same.  Add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water and let sit for 12 hours, then do it again.  At the end of the fifth day your starter should have doubled and should have lots of bubbles and you will start to smell that wonderful sour dough smell.  You will need to give it one last feeding.  Let it sit for about 8 hours.  Then when you are ready to make your bread, remove about a cup of the starter for the bread and put the rest into whatever container you want to keep it in and store it in the refrigerator.  You will need to feed it weekly by adding 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing

I love Ranch dressing, but I am not talking about those things in the bottle they call Ranch dressing.  I like the real thing.  Dressings are so easy to mix together and will keep in your fridge for a while, so I really don’t understand why people do not make their own dressing.  This is my standard recipe.  I make it up usually once a week and usually run out before the week is up.  Everyone in my family loves ranch dressing, so it’s hard to keep it around.

 

1 cup mayo

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tsp. chopped chives, fresh is better but if not using fresh you can use 1 tsp dried

1 tsp chopped parsley, same as chives if not using fresh use 1/2 tsp. dried

1 tsp dill, same as above

1 tsp. grated garlic, if not using fresh you can sub 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. grated onion, same as above

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp ground pepper

1/2 cup buttermilk

 

Mix all ingredients together and pour into container of choice.  Chill at least 2-4 hours before using.  Even better if you let it sit overnight.  Stores in fridge for up to 2 weeks, if you can keep it that long.

 

Turtle Topped Texas Sheet Cake

Turtle topped Texas Sheet cake

Texas sheet cake is one of my favorites.  I am not always a fan of Turtle topped desserts, but saw a recipe for a Turtle Sheet cake and decided I had to try it.  The first attempt, following the recipe, I was not a big fan of.  The cake was too thick, the recipe directed that the cake be baked in a 9×13 inch cake pan.  The cake was also very dry.  Tommy always teases me about this, but as I do with so many recipes, I had to tweak it.  My Texas sheet cake recipe is an easy recipe that produces a thinner, very moist, very delicious chocolate cake.  I thought if I took my sheet cake recipes and then adjusted the toppings, that might result in a better cake.  I used my Texas Sheet cake recipe and icing recipe, then topped it with the pecans, mini chocolate chips (the original recipe called for regular chocolate chips) and then drizzled caramel sauce over the top.  I took it to work and it was a big hit.  The only tweak I am going to make the next time I make it is to use my thicker caramel sauce recipe and toast the pecans before I sprinkle them on the top. See, I can’t even leave my own recipes alone, I just have to keep playing with them. So here it is, hope you like it.

For the cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 cup butter

1 cup strong black coffee

1/4 cup cocoa powder

For icing

1/2 cup butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 tablespoons cocoa powder

7 tablespoons milk (if icing is too thick, I will add another tablespoon – you want it able to pour)

For Toppings

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10×15 inch sheet pan.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Beat in the sour cream and eggs.  Melt the butter and add the cocoa and the coffee.  Mix together with the rest of the cake ingredients.  Pour batter into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  In a sauce pan, combine the milk, cocoa and the butter.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing until blended and smooth.  Pour over top of warm sheet cake.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of frosting, then sprinkle the chopped pecans.  Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the chocolate chips and pecans.

Eggnog Bundt Cake

Eggnog Bundt cake

Had some eggnog left over from the holidays and didn’t want it to go to waste so played with adding it to my standard bundt cake recipe.  Results were pretty good.  This is a really rich cake, has 6 eggs in it, and so much flavor.  It has a light texture because I decided to use cake flour instead of all purpose.  I thought that might be a better choice since I was using so much rich ingredients with the 6 eggs and the cup of eggnog which has so much cream and eggs in it already.

1 cup butter, softened

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups cake flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup eggnog

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tablespoons rum

1 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

Glaze – 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons cream

Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt cake pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter at medium speed for about 2 minutes until creamy.  Gradually add in the sugar, beating till light and fluffy.  Add eggs in, one at a time.  Beat till light yellow.  Shift together all the dry ingredients and then add to butter egg mixture, at low-speed, alternately with eggnog till just mixed. Add in the vanilla and rum.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool on wire rack until cool.  Place on plate and mix glaze.  Mix powdered sugar with cream and stir until smooth.  Drizzle over top of cake