Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

Photo credit:  Jim McQuire:  Pumpkins in Snow

I was looking for a new recipe for dessert this Thanksgiving.
I came across this one, which I have tweaked a bit.
It is like those “Dump Cakes” of the 1970’s.  I have the one in the oven right now.   Wish you could smell it baking

Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 29 ounce can Libby’s canned pumpkin
1 box yellow cake mix, any brand
1 cup melted butter

Prepare the pumpkin according to label instructions, using only one can of evaporated milk.  I also used only 1 cup sugar as the cake mix is very sweet.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into a greased 13 x 9 pan.  I recommend using Baker’s Joy or similar product.  Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture, then carefully drizzle the melted butter over the cake mix.

You can sprinkle with 1 cup chopped nuts if you wish, but our extended family is crazy enough already.

Bake at 325 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  When completely cooled top servings with real whipped cream.  Refrigerate any leftovers….what leftovers?

When I serve this, I will warm it up slightly, I think it is better slightly warmed.



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This is one of those recipes that you find on the back of the box of sugar. 
I have a fabulous cook book that I bought 20 years ago called:
Best Recipes From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars.  by Cecil Dyer 1989

Since it is nearly Thanksgiving in the States, I thought it was time for another great recipe with pecans. 
I’m the only one who likes pecans in my family so I’m glad these freeze well. 

1 cup packed C & H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.  In medium bowl, beat sugar and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into mixture.  Stir in nuts.  Spread batter in baking dish.  Bake 25 minutes.  Cut into 2×1 inch bars. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.  Make a fresh pot of coffee – I’ll be right over!

Thanks to Family Fun Magazine for the photo and C & H Pure cane sugar for the recipe.

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Early this morning, I thought that I would go out and pick berries for breakfast for me and the kids.  My SIL has blackberry bushes around two sides of the property.  A few summers back the berries were abundant.  Last year, the harvest was very late; we were already back in CA by the time they were ripe. 


An hour and a few thorn scratches later, ( I had gloves) I had no berries. 
It’s still too early I guess, but you can’t blame not enough sunny days, it hasn’t rained here in like a month. 
The blue berry bush was decimated last year by one of the dogs.  He literally – Ate. The. Bush. 
So, it’s off to the front of the house where the strawberries are planted. 


No go.  Seems that Mr. & Mrs. Mallard have made a temporary residence in the middle of the strawberry patch.  Judging by the muddy footprints across the flagstones, the raccoons beat me to all the juicy red diamonds anyway.   

Back in the house the children were still asleep.  Lucky for me my SIL had a bag of mixed berries in the deep freeze. 
Try this recipe with berries from the freezer, fresh from the market/ produce stand…or if you’re lucky enough…from your own yard. 

 Berry Clafouti

3 eggs
1 and a  1/4 cups milk or half and half
2/3 cup flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 and a 1/2 cup berries

Beat eggs until foamy.  Add everything else except the berries.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into a buttered 9 inch quiche dish. 
Top batter with the berries.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until knife comes out clean. 
Let stand 15 minutes.  It has a custard consistency, and what’s more the kids eat it.

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Last month I purchased a vat of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookie dough from Costco. 
Sometimes I want to make cookies for my students and I don’t always have time to make them from ‘scratch.’ 
I heard your gasps of horror at the thought of me buying store bought cookie dough…..
When students ask me if I made them, I always say “Yes!” 
(I did make them…I stood there in front of a 350 degree oven…plopping dough on cookie sheets…I made them!) 
They are always very appreciative and the cookies are inhaled in no time. 

I didn’t have time to use all the batter before graduation so I thought I would freeze the rest of the dough to use during the summer.  
On Friday, I received a phone call and email telling me that the cookie dough I bought could be contaminated with salmonella. 
I was to return the unused portion to the store for a full refund and I should also be expecting an official letter. 

While I appreciate this benefit of their customer service dept, it got me thinking…do I really want someone watching what I’m buying? 
Is there someone sitting in their purchasing department making notations about the things I buy? 
They are probably wondering about the decline in my wine (blackberry Merlot) and yellow highlighter purchases. 
I no longer have that “yellow nicotine index finger.” 

Do they think I buy too many “bad carbs” and not enough salad? 
Hey the ice cream I bought was “Skinny Cow.” 
(Which isn’t bad…BTW.)
Big Brother should appreciate how much $$$ I spend in their photo department & don’t even get me started on how many books I’ve bought. 

As I drove to Costco to return my poisonous cookie dough…I thought about what else I buy.  
Analgesics…Prolesec….bagels…cream cheese…salmon…a container of salad for $2.00…..bread…spinach dip…that chicken salad I am addicted to….salmonella laced cookie dough. 
Quite frankly, I think my purchases cry out “BORING!” 

Next time, maybe I need to mix it up a little…
I’m thinking I might load up my cart with kitty litter, Vaseline, condoms, extra virgin olive oil, latex gloves, Dexter on Blue Ray…and a case of fuel injection cleaner.

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Years ago, hubby and I drove up to Monterey and stayed at the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove. 
The inn is a charming bed and breakfast on the coast of California. 
Our room was wonderful, with a sitting room area that overlooked the ocean. 

Finally this was a trip where we could stop frequently, and did.  Unlike when we traveled in “Clustr Maps:  Connect the Dots!” 
We spent several hours in Morro Bay, CA.  
We visited a sea lion rescue center, had lunch, wandered in and out of souvenir shops and antique stores.  But we were anxious to get to the Martine Inn.  We had planned lots of excursions for our three day stay on the coast…

While in Monterey we visited the aquarium, 17 mile drive, walked along the ocean, watched otters eating seafood al fresco at sunset. 
Every afternoon our hosts had wine and cheese for us in the parlour over looking the ocean. 
A few times we were lucky enough to spot a whale.  Well, I thought it was a whale…could have been a guy in a wet suit on a surf board. 
Our dinner we planned for the first evening was at Hammerheads. 
I have looked in vain on line for Hammerheads Restaurant in Monterey.  I am afraid the only hammerheads you will find now are swimming in the ocean.  The eatery must have closed in the last 25 years. 

The restaurant was set in a lovely old fire station, sadly I did not take any photos. 
The food was delicious, we both had steaks with all the extras. 
But what had really drawn us to the restaurant was their famous Chocoholic Dessert Bar
Yes, a dessert bar with all things chocolate.  Anything you can think of that was chocolate they had.  Chocolate pie to candy bars. 
I admit, some of it was rather uninspired.  But they did have a decadent cake covered with chocolate. 
Over the years I have seen recipes for it with different names, Chocolate Suicide Cake, Better Than Sex Cake….(highly unlikely)…or as I call it, simply –

Chocolate Ganache Cake

1 box devils food cake…I like to use Betty Crocker’s Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix
Eggs, water and oil as directed on the box
16 ounces semisweet chocolate – see cook’s notes
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons real butter

Prepare cake as directed on the box.  Bake in a 13×9 according to  package directions.  Cool completely. 
Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with waxed paper. 

To make the ganache:  In a glass mixing bowl, microwave cream and butter just until the mixture begins to boil.  Remove and immediately add the broken up chocolate; let sit 1-2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  You might need to rewarm in the microwave for a few seconds.  Cool slightly. 

Cut the cooled cake into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Pour about half of the cooled ganache mixture over the cake and mix well.  While you are mixing , you may have flashbacks to childhood days of mud pies – but this will be WAY better.  Use a spatula to thoroughly mix the cake and chocolate together.  Scape mixture into the prepared spring form pan, smooth the top and place in freezer for about an hour. 
It is okay to leave the bowl of the remaining ganache on the counter until the cake is cooled.  Try not to sample it. 

To unmold the cake:  Carefully run a knife around the edge of the springform pan.  Remove ring. 
Taste any morsels of cake that may remain on the ring, as this is the cook’s privilege. 
Place the serving plate on top of the cake and flip.  Remove the bottom plate and carefully peel off the waxed paper.  Pour the ganache over the top of the cake; spread smooth.  The ganache will drip down the sides of the cake.  Store in the refrigerator until serving time; cover and refrigerate any leftovers.  The cake can be stored up to one week in the refrigerator, but trust me, there will be no leftovers. 

Because it is so rich, I serve thin wedges of the cake.  If you are feeling extra fancy you can drizzle a little chocolate sauce on the dessert plate place the cake on top, adding a few strawberries or raspberries on the side.          STARBUCKS%20Milk%20Chocolate%20Signature%20Bar%20-%203%20ozbars_intense_twilight_lg

Re: the chocolate for the ganache.  You can make this cake very inexpensively, or you can spend more money on quality chocolate.  I have made this just using Semi-Sweet Chocolate morsels, but the consistency was not pleasing.  It also took more ‘zaps’ in the microwave to become smooth. 
When I make this, I like to use a good quality chocolate.  I often use 3 packages of Ghirardelli Intense Dark, Twilight Delight 72% cacao bars, at 3.5 oz a package.  And, 2 packages of Starbucks Milk Chocolate, 3 oz each package. 
The recipe calls for 16 oz of chocolate, these bars will give you 16.5. 
What are you going to do with that extra 1/2 ounce? 
I say, eat it!

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Sam is officially 12. 
I know, I can’t believe it either.  Pete is a bit annoyed that Sam is taller than Pete was at the same age. 
Adapt – I told him. 

There were 12 birthday “partiers” at my house this weekend.  Eleven 12 year old boys and one petite and polite 8 year old girl, dressed in, what else?  Pink. With sparkly hot pink ballerina slippers.  Jasmine is Michael’s sister.  Where he goes, she goes.  I was delighted to have another female in the house….AJ doesn’t count. 

After they arrived, we loaded into 3 vehicles…(good thing my older sons brought their cars)…. and went to the bowling alley.  Sam wanted a bowling birthday party.  Usually we always have parties at home, so this was a switch. 

They all had fun.  I think the high score was 200…..for all 3 games.  Not bad when you’ve never picked up a bowling ball before.  Jasmine even had a bowling ball that coordinated with her outfit.
We came home and ate lots of pizza and salad.  I am glad I remembered how much my older sons ate as teens, or should I say ‘tweens’?   Between the 15 of us we polished off 12 pizzas.  It’s a good thing we didn’t take them out for steak! 

The afternoon would not have been complete without cake and ice cream.  Sam has specific standards.  It had to be Haagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream, nothing else would do.  I wanted to order the cake from a bakery or Costco.  He wouldn’t hear of it.  He said, and I quote, “But Mom, I only like your cakes, I don’t care if they have fancy decorations, I just want your cake!”  By the time he finished batting his eyelashes at me, I was feeling like a piece of toast…I’d been”buttered up!”  I should add that the #1 gift on his list was Rock Band.

Cross Costco off my list and add cake mixes. 
We dug through the Rubbermaid tote of fast food toys, giving us three different cake themes: Lilo & Stitch – white cake blue frosting waves…complete with surf boards.  I couldn’t quite get the big waves of the Hawaiian islands…in frosting…but I tried. 

Surf’s Up Penguins – more white cake with blue frosting waves & surfboards…some graham cracker crumbs for sand and a palm tree…courtesy of the market’s bakery. 

And my personal favorite this year…Kung Fu Panda –
A chocolate 13×9 cake…with a ‘mountain’ on one end made out of sculpted cup cakes….lots of brown and green frosting.  I don’t have a picture, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, the cake was adorable.

P.S….His brothers bought him Rock Band.

Thanks to Flicker for the the balloon photo.  It was perfect.

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     It must have been in the mid 1980’s when this famous fudge recipe was published in the local paper.  I remember wanting a new fudge recipe and since this was from my favorite candy store, I was excited to try it for the holidays. 

     This candy store is in the Western United States…as far as Texas…I believe…a very familiar white and black box….to walk in any of their stores and take a deep breath is pure heaven.  That’s how my kitchen smells when I make it, so it’s worth the effort. 

     It is very satisfying when this recipe works for another reason.

     I LOVE the look on family and friend’s faces when they take that first bite.  I suppose it’s close to voyeurism but….I’ve even come up with a new lexicon for it….

“Fudge Porn”…  The look on someone’s face when biting into fudge I made for Christmas.  “The look on her face as she inhaled the piece of fudge was *%!#^*&#. “   (This is a family show.)

     This is a tricky recipe.  I am sure that seasoned candy makers will read the following recipe and say, “That’s easy!”  There’s nothing to it!”  But one of the first years I made it, all did not go according to plan. 

     Money was tight and candy ingredients were expensive, at least it seemed that way to me.  We had planned to give this famous fudge as Christmas gifts.  I bought all the ingredients; I had purchased cute holiday pans.  Everything was assembled; even my husband was willing to help. 

     I was at the stove stirring, and stirring.  I followed the recipe to the letter.  The mixture had come to a boil, maybe it had boiled too long before the temperature was lowered.  Maybe it was because it was raining outside….but even after it went through the mixing cycle, it never got dull or thick.  It went into the refrigerator to chill and harden, and it never did. 

Seriously.  It. NEVER.  Hardened.  Viagra & Cialis wouldn’t have helped. 

There was no way that I was going to waste all that chocolate and butter. 

     What did I do, you ask?  We incurred the additional expense of canning jars; we slapped fancy homemade labels on the jars and we presented gifts of Gourmet Hot Fudge Sauce to our friends and family.  I don’t think they knew before this very moment that the recipe went haywire and that’s why I could never duplicate it again. 

     I am sure that someone out there would disagree, but my advice?  Don’t make this fudge recipe when it’s raining. 

Famous Fudge: 

1/2 cup real butter

1 cup Nestle Semi – Sweet Morsels

1 teaspoon Watkins vanilla, or your favorite brand. 

2 cups C & H pure cane sugar

5  and 3/4 ounces of a cup Carnation Evaporated Milk

10 large Jet Puffed Marshmallows (no more, no less)

     Combine butter, chocolate, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.  Place sugar, milk and marshmallows in a HEAVY medium saucepan.  Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 6 minutes stirring constantly.  Pour the hot ingredients over the ingredients in the mixer bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until fudge is thick and dull.  This should not take very long.  Pour into a 8 inch baking pan. Refrigerate several hours or over night.  Makes 36 squares.

Cooks Notes: 

     Now honestly, are you really going to take all this time and then just make an 8 inch pan of fudge?  No, I thought not.  You are going to double the recipe.  You will be using a 13×9 pan, lightly sprayed with Baker’s Joy or similar product.

    Proceed with the recipe, but double the ingredients.  When you reach the evaporated milk, you are going to use the 12 oz standard size can.  However, you will NOT be using a full can.  Instead, measure out approximately 1/2 oz of the milk and discard, or pour in your coffee.  You want to add 11 and 1/2 ounces. 

     As far as the marshmallows go….20 total….yes, I know I thought it would be fine to add more too…but those were the times when I had to go out and buy canning jars.  By-the-way, that’s happened, twice. 

     While you are cooking the milk, sugar and marshmallows, you are going to notice that there will be/ might be a streak of “brown” in the milk/sugar/marshmallow mixture that will make you think that it is burning on the bottom.  I lift the pan off the heat, lower the heat and return the pan to the stove all while still stirring.  (I was multi-tasking before it was popular or even had a name.)   

     When the mixture comes to a boil, I watch for 8 – 10 bubbles of boiling, lift the pan from the heat, lower the temp and continue to stir for 6 minutes.  Be sure that you set the timer. 

     Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate, vanilla and butter.  As you begin the mixer, be careful as the sticks of butter are going to “shoot” through the moving beaters.  Butter, that has been softened, NOT melted, is a good idea.  As you scrape the batter bowl, you will start to notice that the chocolate mixture is no longer shiny.  I generally blend in the mixer bowl for about 5 minutes.

     Pour into the prepared pan and place in the lower part of your refrigerator.  In about an hour, check the pan.  If it doesn’t move when you tip it in either direction….Houston!  We have fudge.  If it doesn’t?

     You too will be schlepping off to the store to buy canning jars.

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