Sunday, April 24, 2011

Granola that is probably more of a treat

Easy Granola

1 T. cinnamon (2 if you really love it)
4 cups oats
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, melted (I did take it down from a whole cup in the original recipe!  Next time, maybe I'll take it down another 2 T)
1 cup brown sugar (or honey if preferred) 

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix all four ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour onto a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even baking.  Optional add-ins: craisins, raisins, dried fruits, nuts, coconut.   We love raisins and coconut. Sliced almonds would be great too.  Add the last 15 minutes of baking.  Enjoy!

Shoot- this was so great to snack on!  It was like the oat topping on top of Apple Crisp.  Probably a bad sign, right?  Still, it's hearty, "natural", cheaper than cereal, and the kids like it!  Next time I will see if I can take down the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and still be sweet enough.  We'll see...we sure love our brown sugar.

Some will turn up their noses

3 Bean Salad

  • 1 15-oz can green beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can yellow wax  beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine (I skipped)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine (I used sweet)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.
2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.
3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.
Yield: Serves 4 to 8. (or 20 if you are a normal person who eats a little scoop of this salad- it's  kind of a side-side salad
This is a great non-green salad veggie side dish.  A little tangy, a teensy bit sweet, it adds a nice contrast to a meat main dish.  

Blueberry Angel Food Dessert

Blueberry Angel Dessert

  • 1 angel food cake, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 block cream cheese, softened to room temperature (light is good)
  • 1 8 oz container whipped topping
  • 1 can Blueberry pie filling (or whatever flavor you like)

Combine the sugar and cream cheese until well blended, then stir in whipped topping.  Fold in cake pieces and place in 9x13 pan.  Top with pie filling and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  You can also layer this in a trifle bowl.

Not much to complain about here- easy, fast, light, and delicious!  The kids gobbled it up.  Were we expecting anything less?

Buttermilk Banana Bread

Buttermilk Banana Bread
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used the buttermilk substitute, which is 1 T vinegar or lemon juice to every cup of milk. Let it stand 5 minutes before using.  This was easy, way healthier, and cheaper, and the taste was great!)
  • 4 large mashed bananas

Mix together dry ingredients.  In a bigger bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients slowly to the wet.  Pour into 6 or 7 small loaf pans (the small pans are preferred for taste/texture).  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

I have gone so many years not enjoying banana bread.  This is my first banana bread recipe I will post (I do have a strawberry banana bread one on here) because I will make it again!  The texture and flavor were optimal.  I halved the recipe because I didn't know if it would turn out delicious enough to warrant the full recipe, but the 3 loaves were gone in less than a day.  Enjoyed by the whole family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coconut Cake- great for Easter!

Coconut Cake
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 package (small) instant coconut pudding
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (mine was fat-free) with a teaspoon coconut extract mixed in
  • whipped topping or whipped cream
  • sliced macadamia nuts (optional)
  • flaked coconut, toasted

Make yellow cake mix according to package instructions, adding instant pudding (unprepared) and vanilla.  Bake the cake according to instructions for a 9x13 pan.  After cake is baked, while hot, poke holes in cake with the top of a wooden spoon and pour condensed milk over the holes.

Cool cake, then frost with whipped cream.  Toast the coconut in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees, until slightly brown (cooks fast!)
Sprinkle coconut and nuts on top of cake.  Refrigerate until serving.

This was a great, easy cake for coconut lovers!  It is refreshing because it's a cold cake, and the whipped cream frosting makes it lighter than other frostings.  I loved the toasted coconut.

Rolls made out of cornmeal

Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls
*Makes 2 dozen rolls
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 ½ – 6 cups flour

Heat the milk to just below a boil so bubbles are just appearing around the edges (this is called scalding milk). Add the cornmeal and cook and stir until thickened, lowering the temperature if needed so the mixture doesn’t boil (see picture below the recipe for an idea of what the consistency should be). Pour the cornmeal/milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast, butter and sugar (if you dissolved active dry yeast with a bit of water and sugar until it foamed, add it now). Mix. Add the salt and eggs. Mix well. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5-8 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl covered with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Divide the dough into three portions and roll each into about an 8-10 inch circle. Brush the top lightly with butter. Cut into 8 wedges and roll each wedge up starting from the wide end so it forms a crescent roll shape. Place each roll on a lightly greased or silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1-2 inches apart to allow for rising. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush with butter while still warm.
These were amazing rolls.  I can't resist trying new recipes when someone raves about them or if they use ingredients that are a little different.  So I saw the cornmeal, the rave review on, and I had to try them.  They were light, melt in your mouth-ey, and tasty!  So if you want to venture out and try a new roll recipe, don't be afraid!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Frosting for frosting haters

The Best Frosting
Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.
Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.
Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. I suspect if you chill it for an hour or so, it would be stiff enough to actually pipe with instead of frosting with a rubber spatula.
Chocolate Version: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt mixture in the first step. Once the frosting has been mixed for five minutes and is light and fluffy, mix in 3-4 ounces of semisweet chocolate that has been melted and completely cooled to room temperature.
I tried a recipe like this from another website.  You know- the frostings that you cook.  It did not turn out well!  It tasted great, but the butter didn't absorb into everything else...and it wasn't very thick.  Enter this recipe- I was drawn to it because the cook at this website had my same problem and this recipe was her happy ending.  I loved the taste of this frosting!  It was light and well, perfect.  It wasn't heavy or overly sweet.  If you are feeling adventurous and are wanting to try something new on your cakes/cookies, give this one a go.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fruit Turnovers- a quick and easy one

Fruit Turnovers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 can pie filling
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 1/2 T. milk
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Cut in the flour with a fork. 
  2. Form dough into a ball, and on floured surface roll out circles 5 inches in diameter.
  3. Fill with a tablespoon of pie filling in the middle, leaving the edges clean.  Fold edge over and pinch edges, crimping with a fork.
  4. Bake on a greased pan at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
For glaze:
Combine sugar, butter, and then milk.  Drizzle on pastries when warm.

This recipe comes from my sister in law Laura, I think.  These are so easy to make, and they look so nice.  Great for a shower or occasion.  The cream cheese in the crust also adds a little rich flavor.  Seriously- these took me about 15 minutes to make.  So if you ever have some leftover pie filling you need to use, or a quick treat you want to make, these are great!