Friday, December 31, 2010

Eggnog Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce

Yum, Yum, and Yum! I made this for one of our desserts on Christmas day, and let me just say it is divine. You have to, of course though, be an eggnog fan. If you are, make this and you will be amazed! The cake is moist, light, and just so so good and the caramel sauce is out of this world! You add ice cream to the caramel sauce, which I know is unorthodox, but I believe it made all the difference. Anyways, it is also not too heavy of a dessert so you don't get that nauseous sick feeling. Another bonus to this recipe. We all enjoyed it and so did our Christmas guests so it is a keeper for sure.

Source: Sisters Cafe Blog

1 yellow cake mix (preferably with pudding in the mix)
3 T. flour
2 c. eggnog
¼ c. butter, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ tsp. rum extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Dust lightly with powdered sugar for presentation.

Caramel sauce:
½ lb brown sugar (~1 1/8 c.)
½ lb butter
½ lb powdered sugar (~2 cups)
½ T. cinnamon
½ qt. rich vanilla ice cream

Melt together over medium heat. Once melted, it is done, no need to bring to a boil or simmer, just melt it, it takes about 5-8 minutes. Pour warm over individual servings immediately before serving.

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

For Christmas, we normally always have funeral potatoes, or yummy cheesy potatoes as one of the sides. But, this year, we invited some families over and I was not in charge of potatoes. However, the family that was going to bring the potatoes had to cancel due to illness and so I was then in charge of potatoes. I found this out about 3 hours before dinner. So, luckily, I had potatoes in the house, and luckily this awesome blog saved me! I made these in no time at all and I had all ingredients on hand, which is rare for me, and they are delicious! Everyone loved them, even the kids. SO so good! My husband is not normally an au gratin potato fan, but even he ate these all up! This complements any meal, but was especially delicious with our ham.

from My Kitchen Cafe (

*Note: the key to this dish is the evenly and very thinly sliced potatoes. It will be nearly impossible to accomplish this feat by hand, since the potatoes need to be sliced 1/8-inch thick. I don't have a mandoline, which would work perfectly, however, a slicing disk on a food processor/shredder works great and in a pinch, I've used the slicing side of my box grater. I used the slicing disk on food processor like mentioned, and it worked like a charm.

*Serves 6

1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. In a large bowl, toss the cheeses and cornstarch together until evenly coated.

In a large gratin dish (about a 2- to 3-quart dish), shingle half of the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with the remaining potatoes, shingling them neatly and evenly. Sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper evenly over the top.

Combine the cream and the broth in a large measuring cup and pour the mixture over the potatoes. Top with the remaining cheese mixture and bake until golden brown and a fork inserted into the center slides in easily with little resistance, 75 to 85 minutes. Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Heidi's Note: I put this dish in a 9 by 13 inch pan, and because of this, my potatoes cooked in about 60 minutes rather than 75-85 minutes.

Maple Brown Sugar Ham in the Slow Cooker

I am not very good at making ham. Granted, I have only made ham like three times in my life, but each time it turned out dry and just, okay. But, then, I made this ham for Christmas this year, and now I will never cook ham another way again. It was NOT dry at ALL, and it was the tastiest ham I have had EVER! It was so so easy too! I never would have thought to cook ham in a slow cooker, but now I am convinced, it is the only way to go.

I got this from My Kitchen Cafe, who adapted slightly from Year of Crockpotting

7-8 pound bone-in spiral-cut ham
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all natural maple syrup (yes, please use pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup)
2 cups pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Unwrap the ham and discard flavor packet. Place the ham into the slow cooker stoneware, flat-side down. Rub brown sugar on all sides. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. An hour before serving, baste ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker. When cooking is done, remove carefully and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Italian Bread Bowls

I have made these bread bowls twice now and each time turned out equally delicious! It makes soup even better and it fills you up more quickly! i love that you can eat this bowl when done with the yummy soup inside. I love to put the broccoli cheese chowder in here and also chilies. So good! These are pretty fool proof as well. Source is again, from the Kitchen Cafe.

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups).
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper). Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Homemade Make Ahead Yellow Cake Mix

This is easy and so much better than a boxed cake mix. I am definately using this for lexi's birthday cake next year instead of duncan hines, no offense guys. I used this for the coconut tres leches cake, already posted, and it is so so good! You can trust me, I am not even a cake person, and I like this cake. That speaks volumes! Anyways, make this, you will not regret it.

Update (6/28/10): When I originally made this cake, it baked up just fine in a 9X13-inch pan. However, when I went to use the same recipe for one of the Wilton cake pans (Spiderman, to be exact), there was way, way too much cake batter. The instructions on the Wilton pan said to use one recipe boxed cake mix. This homemade version is supposed to be the equivalent of one boxed mix; however, I'm realizing that the homemade version gives you more cake than what a boxed version does. So what I ended up doing for the Spiderman cake is taking out batter from the pan before I baked it (since I knew it was going to overflow in the oven). I had enough leftover batter for 8 cupcakes (filling them about 2/3 full). If you plan on making this cake in a 9X13-inch, bundt or 9-inch rounds, I would recommend taking out some of the batter, especially since some commenters have indicated the cake has baked up unevenly (burnt edges, gooey middle). It seems like the batter needs to be downsized in order for the cake to bake evenly. I will continue to test the recipe and scale it back as needed (including weighing the dry ingredients next time to compare with the weight of a boxed mix), but until "then" take this note into consideration. Cupcakes will still work great - you'll probably get more like 30+ cupcakes out of the batch. Incidentally, I love the flavor and taste of this cake enough to keep baking it, despite the annoyances of batter.

*Note: the recipe calls for cake flour, which I never have on hand so I substituted 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons cornstarch for the three cups of flour called for in the recipe. It worked beautifully.

*Makes enough for two 9-inch layer cakes (bake according to recipe), or one 9X13-inch cake (bake for 35 to 40 minutes), or one 12-cup bundt pan (bake for 40 to 45 minutes), or 24 cupcakes (bake for 18 to 20 minutes)

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Process sugar, flours (or flour and cornstarch if making the substitution for the cake flour), milk powder, baking powder, and salt in a food processor for 15 seconds to combine. Add butter and vanilla and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (you want this much finer than, say, a pie crust). Freeze the dry mixture in a zipper-lock bag for up to 2 months or use immediately.

To make the cake, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan of choice (see the note above the recipe).

With an electric mixer, beat the prepared cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-27 minutes for two 9-inch layer cakes. See the note above the recipe for alternate cooking times with other baking pans. Cool the cake(s) in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Source: Kitchen Cafe, of course!

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

This dessert is heavenly! Plan ahead, though, because it takes a while cooling. Seriously, there are no words for this delicious cake! It is seriously one of my favorite desserts now, and I am not even a cake person. It is just too darn good!
*Serves 12-16

Make-ahead Yellow Cake Mix or other preferred cake mix or homemade yellow cake recipe (I used the make-ahead yellow cake mix and I definitely recommend it, way better than store bought mix)

Milk Syrup:
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 medium-size ripe bananas
Sweetened cream (see instructions below)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.

Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.

Sweetened Cream:
Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups.
Source: Kitchen Cafe

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Another Version

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
from My Kitchen Cafe (
Chris and I love pulled pork sandwiches. I have already posted a delicious pulled pork recipe on this here blog, but this one I made last week, is even better. This one was so so easy and tasted so so good. My brother and his wife came for a visit, and they, too, thought these were delicious! Give it a try, you will love it too once you do.

3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I've also used boneless pork loin - not tenderloin - but pork loin with good results)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon hickory flavored liquid smoke
2 cups barbecue sauce

Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper over the pork and place in a slow cooker. Add water and liquid smoke. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the remaining liquid. Shred the pork using a couple of forks. Place the meat back in the slow cooker along with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the pork is hot again. Serve on buns with extra barbecue sauce.

Liquid smoke is most commonly found near the bbq sauces/Worcestershire sauce aisle. Walmart carries it along with other grocery stores, not hard to find, you just have to be in the right section.
I slather some butter on the top and bottom of the buns and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes. So good this way.
I also serve it with coleslaw either on the side or right on top of this pork goodness!
I also reccommend using either homemade BBQ sauce or our family's favorite: Sweet baby Rays brand. Yum!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black and White Bean Dip

I was going to bring this to our ward RS's progressive dinner tonight, but the dinner was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. So, I still made it tonight, and we had it for dinner. I loved this so much! I could not stop eating it, really addicting this stuff is. Chris liked it, but could not get over the fact there was no refried beans in this bean dip. He has apparently never had bean dip without the stuff. But once he got over it, he loved it too!
I will say, we had a hard time finding the shoepeg corn. I have now learned that Green Giant is pretty much the only brand it comes in and in MI where we live, I was only able to find this type of corn at Kroger, also known as Fry's for my western friends :)And, I think you could sub a sweet white corn for the shoepeg if you cannot find it. Anyways, this is great for an appetizer, which is originally what I intended it to be, but it also works for lunch or dinner as I have now learned tonight. So enjoy, and I got this recipe from Sisters Cafe and Kitchen Cafe. I love when I find the same recipe on two different blogs, because I know it must be good if two people find it yummy.

1 can of black beans-drained
1 can of white beans-drained (I used navy beans, but Great Northern Beans work too)
1 can of shoepeg corn-drained (Green Giant is the only brand I found it in)
1 7oz can of Herdez salsa verde
2 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese
4-6 chopped roma tomatoes (I used 4 and squeezed out some of the juice before cutting)
garlic salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
Avocado-optional (if you ask me, it is NOT optional, so good with it)

Preheat oven to 400. Put everything (except for the avocado) in a bowl and gently mix together. Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray before spooning in the bean mixture. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and pop into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and it is all warm and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips---YUM!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

These cookies are delicious and very festive for this holiday season. It is like a thin mint girl scout cookie, dipped in white chocolate and covered in peppermint candies. It is to die for, in my opinion. I love mint and chocolate together so it was perfect for my taste buds. I made these for a church event, so I will have to find out if others liked it as well. They look absolutely adorable! They are a bit of work, though, just a lot of steps, nothing too complicated. So, I made my cookies a day in advance and then the day of, today, I dipped them in the melted chocolate and sprinkled the crushed candy canes on top. That way, it wasn't too bad. Also, do NOT use chocolate chips, they do not give a smooth finished look to the cookie. I used bakers dipping chocolate, but I have heard that white chocolate almond bark will work as well.

Source: Kitchen Cafe who got it from Martha Stewart magazine

Makes 6 dozen (um, not so much – I got 3 1/2 dozen out of the recipe)

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.

Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)

Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (don’t overheat or the chocolate/almond bark will sieze!). Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, press lightly on the cookie until completely submerged in the chocolate. Pick up the cookie with the fork, let excess chocolate drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours.