Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

My family has a lot to celebrate during the month of May. There's Mother's Day, my nephew's birthday, my daughter's birthday, my birthday and Memorial Day. That was a lot of family get-togethers when we lived in Pa. ...not so much here. Boy do we miss it.

Since we are planning a carnival birthday party in 2 weeks for my daughter, we decided that we would make one birthday cake this weekend for both of us to share to celebrate our birthdays.

She asked for a chocolate cake with white icing. Since I like chocolate frosting better, we compromised and made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

I found a recipe for Chocolate Sour Cream Cake w/ Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting in a Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking cookbook.

The instructions are simple to follow. The recipe calls for baking the cake in 2 round cake pans. I dug out my cake pans to discover that they were rusty in spots....AAAKKK! My back up plan was to bake the cake in a 9 x13 pan, cut the cake in half and stack it, making a nice, neat small rectangle cake.

Let's just say that my idea didn't pan out. The cake seemed to do fine in the oven, taking 36 minutes to bake. I took it out of the oven and allowed it to cool completely.

In the meantime I whipped up the icing --chocolatey delicious!

Fast forward.... Now it's time to remove the cake from the pan. Not happening!! The cake was stuck in the pan. I'm not sure why. I greased and floured it like I was supposed to. The cake wasn't burnt so that's not why it stuck to the pan. I kept turning the pan over and tapping on the bottom of it, hoping that it would just decide to come loose. Well, it pieces. **Update** I'm sitting here laughing at myself because I totally overlooked the directions that said to line the pans with waxed paper!

I surprised myself and didn't scream about it. Instead, I stuck the pieces back into the pan and decided to frost it in the pan and not tell anyone about it. I didn't need any more family ribbing today. I'm already getting tons of it from my fall in our front yard the day before - but that's another story that I would love to be able to forget very soon! The scrape on my leg is enough of a reminder but having a 6 year old remind you about it every time you step outside is almost too much to contend with. They don't forget anything!

Back to the cake. Sprinkles, Jimmies, candy toppings...whatever you call them...they are a magical tool in decorating to my family. Thank goodness. I managed to save face by sprinkling on some red, white and blue Jimmies.

We sang "Happy Birthday" and ate the cake. It was good. That's all that matters, right?

Pillsbury Chocolate Sour Cream Cake w/
Chocolate Sour Cream Icing

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
4 oz unsweetened chocolate

Heat oven to 350. Grease & flour two 8" or 9" round cake pans; line bottom with waxed paper.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, & baking powder. Stir well & set aside.

In large bowl, combine remaining cake ingredients; add dry ingredients. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at highest speed.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes our clean.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans & cool completely.

3 cups powdered sugar - I added about 1 1/2 C. more p. sugar for a stiffer icing
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
3 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz unsweetened chocolate

In small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients at low speed until moistened; beat at highest speed until smooth & creamy.

Place 1 cake layer top side down on serving plate; spread evenly with about 1/4 of the frosting.

Top with remaining cake layer, top side up.

Spread sides & top of cake with remaining frosting.

Makes 12 servings.

Summer Fruit Kabobs with Dip

For your next trip to the beach, pack these easy to make fruit kabobs into your cooler for something healthy to munch on.

Who says that fast food can't be healthy or nutritious?

Kids will love to make this easy fruit recipe!

What You Need
Assorted fruit pieces of your choice (choose from the following):

watermelon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew
deli turkey, cubed
cheddar cheese, cubed
bendable drinking straws
wooden skewer

What You Do
Cut fruit into bite-size pieces. Use a wooden skewer to make a hole through the center of each piece of food before layering them onto the straw.

Turn a drinking straw upside down and fold the bendable part of the straw around, creating a handle. Slide a piece of food onto the straw, pushing it to the bottom and onto the hooked part of the straw to secure the handle. Continue layering the meat, cheese and fruit until the straw is full.

Serve chilled alongside fruity cream cheese dip.

For Dip:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 pack Dream Whip Topping, mixed according to package directions
1-2 tsp sugar free drink mix - strawberry or lemon work really well

Mix Dream Whip Topping and chill until needed. Beat cream cheese and drink mix until creamy and fluffy. Fold in Dream Whip. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

***Important Note: If you are making these kabobs to take on a picnic or to the beach, make sure to pack them in sealed, plastic containers and that they are kept well chilled.

Spring Bug Cupcakes

Do you have kids who are crazy about flying bugs? These sweet treats are made from their favorite candies. One look at them and who could resist smiling? They'll bring out the bug lover in all of us!

What You Need
1 box white cake mix + ingredients need to prepare mix
cupcake liners
vanilla frosting
paste food coloring in bright colors

Candies for Bugs
sour gummi worms
gumdrop fruit slices
mini jawbreakers
pull-a-part licorice
mini chocolate chips

What You Do
Prepare cupcakes as directed on box using cupcake liners. Cool completely.

To Assemble Bugs:

* Body - one gummi worm
* Wings - 4 fruit slices cut in half. Use tops of each fruit slice only for the pretty decorated lines
* Head - mini jawbreaker
* Antennae - licorice

Frost the top of cupcake white before assembling butterflies.

Lady Bug:
* Body - vanilla icing tinted black
* Wings - 2 red fruit slices, cut in half -use tops only. Use a toothpick to dig out tiny holes for the mini chocolate chips. Press chocolate chips into the holes in the fruit slices.
* Head - red icing. Mini chocolate chips for eyes
* Antennae - licorice

Frost the top of cupcake red before assembling ladybugs.

Dragon Fly:
* Body - 1 piece of pull-a-part licorice, end rolled into a point. Colored icing for dots on body.
* Wings - 4 sour gummi worms trimmed to fit
* Head - mini jawbreaker
* Antennae - licorice

Frost top of cupcake green before assembling dragon flies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crockpot Blueberry Grunt

A blueberry what?

What is a grunt? (no chuckling now!)

Early attempts to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available to the Colonists in New England resulted in the grunt and the slump, a simple dumpling-like pudding (basically a cobbler) using local fruit. Usually cooked on top of the stove - now we've adapted it to a crockpot! In Massachusetts, they were known as a grunt (thought to be a description of the sound the berries make as they stew). In Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island, the dessert was referred to as a slump.

You will definitely want to try this recipe. If the aroma of blueberries wafting through the house all day long doesn't convince you that it's going to be tasty, wait until you try the first spoonful. My husband said that this is quite possibly the best dessert that I've ever made. What can I say...he's a sucker for dumplings like this and he love blueberries.

Crockpot Blueberry Grunt

2 pints fresh or frozen blueberries - I used frozen
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup water (use warm water is using frozen berries)
2 tablespoons instant tapioca - I used 5 TBSP to make it thick enough
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons light brown sugar


In a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, combine the blueberries, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the water, and tapioca. Cover and slow-cook until the berries have formed a thick sauce, 5 to 6 hours on low (200-degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt to combine. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, beat the milk and egg together. Stir into the flour mixture to form a soft dough.

Turn the heat to high (300-degreesF). Drop the dough by tablespoons on top of the blueberries. Cover and slow-cook until the topping is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the dumplings with the brown sugar.

Let the grunt stand for 5 minutes before serving, then spoon into individual bowls.

This blueberry grunt recipe can be found at Annie's Recipes.

I'm entering this recipe into this month's Cooking with Alicia & Annies Blog Event.

Greek Souvlaki & Cucumber Salad

Tonight's dinner was a good as I thought it was going to be. I made Greek Souvlaki from Barbara Bakes. The pork was juicy and delicious! Thanks, Barbara, for sharing this recipe!

Souvlaki is small pieces of meat - pork tenderloin in this recipe- on a skewer. The meat is marinated, strung onto a skewer, and then grilled.

Greek Souvlaki

There are just a few ingredients
needed for the marinade:

2 T. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 t. marjoram - I couldn't find marjoram at 2 different stores so I decided to substitute 1 1/2 tsps. lemon-pepper seasoning, 1 tsp. oregano and a 1 tsp. Greek seasoning.
This is all mixed together. I used a gallon-sized plastic bag for convenience. I doubled this marinade recipe.

Next comes the meat:

Chunk 2lbs of pork tenderloin into 2 in. cubes. Add the pork to the marinade. Shake well to cover all of the meat. Refrigerate for 6 hrs - overnight.

String the pork onto the kebab holders being sure not to crowd the meat.

Grill on high heat for 3 minutes on each side.


For the side dishes, I served white rice w/gravy and a cucumber, tomato and onion salad (recipe follows).

The cucumber salad side dish that I served with tonight's dinner can be found at Annie's Recipes.

This is a quick and easy dish that can be made ahead of time and stuck into the refrigerator, allowing the flavors to meld. It went well with the Souvlaki.

Cucumber Salad

6 cucumbers peeled, seeded and sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 ripe tomato, diced small - I added this
1 clove garlic, mashed - I used 1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar - taste after adding 1/4 C. I used just a bit more than 1/4 C. of sugar
1/2 c. chipolte infused oil - I used olive oil & added 2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix together all ingredients. Toss gently.

This recipe will be entered into this month's Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tomato Soup Cake - Cooking with Alicia and Annie Contest

That's a strange name for a cake, huh? The first thing that came to my mind was this unappealing red-colored cake. (For those who don't know, red icing and red cake just doesn't appeal to me at all). I skipped over the recipe but then kept thinking about it because using tomato soup in a cake intrigued me.

I decided to make it last night for dessert. I figured what the heck, I had everything on hand to make it so I might as well try it.

The recipe is very simple:

2 1/4 c. cake flour or 2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. allspice 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Campbell's tomato soup
1/2 c. hydrogenated shortening
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour two round layer pans, 8 or 9 inches or 13 x 9 pan. Measure dry ingredients into large bowl. Add soup and shortening.

Beat at low to medium speed for 2 minutes (300 strokes with a spoon) scraping sides and bottom of bowl constantly. Add eggs and water. Beat 2 minutes more, scraping bowl frequently. Pour into pans.

Bake 35 or 40 minutes. Let stand in pans 10 minutes; remove and cool on rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting or favorite white frosting

VARIATIONS: For a 9 inch tube pan, prepare as above; bake 1 hour. Nut or Raisin: After mixing, fold in 1 cup chopped nuts or raisins. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Date and Nut: After mixing, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup chopped dates. (Use 1 to 2 tablespoons flour to sprinkle over dates while chopping them.) Bake in 9 inch layers or 13 x 9 inch pan for 40 to 45 minutes.


The spices in the cake will make your kitchen smell wonderful. I love, love, love cloves and this spice added a really nice taste to the cake.

The batter turns out to be a really pretty salmon color, not red like I was expecting to see.

It turned out perfect baking it for 35 minutes. The cake is light, airy and a little on the sweet side.

I topped it with canned cream cheese frosting. It was really good but almost too sweet for my liking. I will make this cake again but the next time I will use only a dusting of powdered sugar on top. It would also be good topped with whipped cream.

I found this cake recipe at Annies Recipes.

I'm entering this one in the Annie and Alicia Blog Event.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Squares

My husband is from Upstate NY - where they believe that strawberry shortcake is served on biscuits, NOT cake of any type. I'm from PA and I grew up eating it as strawberries on angelfood cake or pound cake. Lately I've been on the hunt for a recipe that would appease both of us.

I found a great recipe today. To be honest, it was the picture on Ezra Pound Cakes' blog that lured me in. After reading, it turns out that she adapted a recipe from Alice Water's cookbook The Art of Simple Food. The name of the recipe is Alice Waters’ Strawberry Shortcake.

The "biscuit" is more like a sweet shortbread cookie to me. The combination of the fresh berries, homemade whipped cream and the shortcake make a delightful dessert.

I followed Ezra's recipe to a "T" and it turned out perfect.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Makes 6


4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar


1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

6 baked 2-inch Cream Biscuits (recipe below)

Powdered sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and sugar.

Remove 1 cup of the strawberry mixture, and purée it in a blender or food processor. Return the purée to the rest of the strawberries; stir. Set aside at least 15 minutes.

In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip together the cream, vanilla and sugar until it starts to form soft peaks.

Slice the Cream Biscuits in half. For each biscuit, spoon the strawberry mixture onto the bottom half, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the other biscuit half, and dust it with powdered sugar.

Cream Biscuits

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar (if using) and baking powder.

Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips. The pieces should be the size of small peas.

Measure cream; set aside 1 tablespoon. Add the remaining cream to the flour, and stir with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Lightly knead the dough a few times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick.

Cut six 2-inch circles or squares out of the dough. Reroll the scraps, if necessary.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and brush the tops with the tablespoon of cream.

Bake for 17 minutes or until golden and done.

Meatballs Sandwiches

What says comfort food more than homemade meatballs sandwiches blanketed in gooey Mozzarella cheese!

I finally came up with a meatball mixture that I like. I'm not a snob about most foods but when it comes to meatballs, I am. It seems that most are either too soft or I just don't like the taste of them.

There's nothing fancy in these meatballs but the combination of flavors make them taste really good.

1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger - next time I will try a
hamburger/pork/veal mix for even more flavor
1 C. plain bread crumbs
2 eggs
3 tsp. Italian seasonings
2/3 C. shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese (don't use the stuff in the can!)
2 tsp. onion powder
1 - 2 tsp. hot pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into meatballs a little larger than a golf ball.

Add meatballs to a large frying pan to which you've added a little 0live oil. Brown meatballs on all sides. Remove from pan once meatballs are browned all over - they will not be cooked in the middle at this time.

Drain any remaining grease from the pan. Add sauce (either your own recipe or jarred) to fill pan 1/2 full. Carefully drop the meatballs into the sauce and stir to cover with the sauce. Cook sauce and meatballs for 20 - 30 minutes on medium/low heat until the meatballs have finished cooking.

For sandwiches you will need:
meatballs and sauce
1/2 lb. Mozzarella cheese slices
semi har
d rolls

Halfway split open hard rolls, making sure to not cut through the bottoms.

Fill rolls with 2-3 meatballs and a little sauce. Cover with cheese.

Lay rolls on a baking sheet. Put tray under broiler to melt cheese.

The end result is so delicious!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free food if you're out & about today

Did you know that today is National Beverage Day? ....neither did I ;)

Arby's is celebrating NBD by offering a Free Iced Fruitea
when you say "I'm parched. Fruitea Me!"

Fruitea comes in Passion Fruit, Mandarin Peach, Diet Peach
and Diet Blackberry flavors.

Good on May 6, 2009


The Oprah Winfrey Show and KFC have teamed together to offer
a Free 2 piece Kentucky Grilled Chicken Meal.

Coupon is being offered to printed until 9:59pm CDT 5/6/09

I had to try several times before I could get the coupon to print.
Once you get through to print it, you can print up to 4 copies of the

The coupons are good from 5/5/09 to 5/19/09, excluding 5/10/09.

There have been several posting that some stores are not accepting
these coupons. You could play it safe and call ahead first or just
stop in and try to use them. If the counter person won't accept
them, try talking to the manager on duty. It's legit- here is the link to
Oprah's website where it is listed.


Border's Books Free 12 oz. beverage from Seattle's Best Coffee.

Valid in-store only. May 6, is the last day for the promotion.

Must print coupon.

While you are there, they are offering a 30% off coupon off the list
price of one item - valid in-store only.
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