Friday, April 2, 2010

Lemon Almond Poppyseed Cake

I saw the picture of these that was so beautiful and tantalizing that I wanted to eat them Right.Now. Something about the bright yellow cake with tiny black specks, and bright white frosting really appealed to me. Plus, I wanted something quick and simple for brunch one morning. So I threw these together in a matter of minutes and they were delicious. Using a cake mix as the base makes these so simple, so fast, no fail, and a definite crowd pleaser.

One little note--I thought I had almond extract and had put everything together when I realized that my bottle of almond extract was in fact, another bottle of lemon extract. Whoops. So I substituted lemon instant pudding for the vanilla instant pudding and 1 tsp. of lemon extract for the almond extract and ended up with lemon poppy seed cake, instead of an almond version. It was delicious, but I'm anxious to make it again with the almond extract. I love the combination of poppy seed and almond extract. But I also love a cake that lends itself easily to substitutions.

Makes 1 Bundt Cake
Recipe Source: A Bountiful Kitchen

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil
2 Tbsp. almond extract
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 small package of instant vanilla pudding
1 package lemon cake mix

2 cups powdered sugar
Juice from 1-2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
zest from lemons
dash of salt (I omitted this and just used salted butter)
2 Tbsp. melted butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease (and flour) your bundt cake pan.

2. Combine all the wet ingredients, including eggs, oil, almond extract, and water, and mix until well blended.

3. Add your dry ingredients, including the poppy seeds, cake mix, and pudding mix. Beat at low for about 30 seconds and then at medium speed for about 3 minutes.

4. Pour into the bundt cake and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then invert it onto a cake platter. Allow to cool completely and then frost.

5. While your cake is cooling, combine the frosting ingredients with a mixer. It will be thick. It's not an icing... it's definitely a frosting consistency and you'll have to actually frost the cake with it... it's not pourable. If you want to thin it out a bit, use a little milk.

Hee hee... while spell checking this, blogger found that I had typed "poopy" in place of "poppy." It made me giggle. Thank goodness for spell check.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pudding Frosting

I'm not sure where I originally found this recipe, but there's a version of it on Allrecipes now. I first used it for my son's 2nd birthday, when I wanted a frosting that didn't taste like frosting. I'm sure my 2 year old would have been fine with regular frosting, but who says his birthday cake was just for him?

I love this stuff. It's light and fluffy, not overly sweet, and tastes divine. When on cupcakes, it tastes like pudding topped cupcakes. What's not to love? It's easy, simple, sturdy enough for piping (although not perfectly smooth... you'll get some bubbles, as evidenced by the pictures), and you can pick your flavor. Any pudding flavor will work, although I always use chocolate. It's my favorite on yellow cake mixes.

1 cup cold milk
1 pkg. (4 serving size) Instant pudding and pie filling
1/4 powdered sugar (optional... I only use this about half the time... haven't been able to tell the difference yet)
1 (8 oz.) tub cool whip, thawed

1. Pour milk into medium bowl. Add pudding mix and sugar, if using. Beat with a wire whisk 2 minutes. Gently stir in whipped topping.

2. Spread onto cake immediately. (This is important... you can't make this frosting ahead of time... once you've mixed it up, you need to pipe or spread it immediately and then refrigerate your cake or dessert. It will not spread well, if at all, if you wait.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Ooooooh. These are good! Soooo good. I found them on Our Best Bites and made a few adjustments and they were soooo good!! And I was so proud of myself for actually making something from scratch (as opposed to what I usually do, which is find a recipe that uses a cake mix). They were pretty easy (as easy as it gets without a cake mix, that is), and sooooo good. Did I mention these are sooo good yet? Cause they are. Really. Really. Good. Yum. I'm drooling.

Okay, on to the recipe now. Oh, by the way, these are good. Mmmmm.

1 c. butter flavored Crisco ( I only had regular, so that's what I used and they were still good. Really. good.)
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. nutella (her recipe calls for PB, but that was just too much PB for my liking)
1/2 c. real butter, softened
4 c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
5-6 T. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars together until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add in vanilla, and eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt and add to dough. Mix to combine. The dough will be very soft- that's normal!
Roll into balls, place on cookie sheet (no need to grease it). You can squish them with a fork it you want to get the criss-cross pattern, but I found they looked prettier without it.

Bake them for about 6-7 minutes. You want them to stay soft, so don't let them get brown. Remove them from pan and cool on a cooling rack.

To make the filling, whip the nutella and butter together until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Then add milk one T at a time. You may not need it all. You want the filling to be on the thick side, it should just have enough milk in it to make it easily spreadable.

I put the filling in a zip-lock bag with the edge cut off to make filling easy. Place filling on one cookie and sandwich another on top. This makes a LOT of frosting...just so you know.

These cookies were sooooo good. And the frosting was pretty dang good too. Dad and Karen kept just sneaking the frosting and wanted to lick the bowl clean when I was finished (ya, did I mention I didn't use half the frosting...?)

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Tomato Cream Sauce

We've decided to try meat-free Mondays in our house. Jared and I feel like we're eating too much meat. I should have a pile of great vegetarian recipes from my childhood and I do have the Fit for Life Cookbook, but... most of those recipes aren't super appealing to my kids. I'm not so sure we'll be using tofu anytime soon. Sadly, I'm afraid meat-free won't necessarily translate to healthier... just cheaper. But, that works, too.

Perfect recipe to start us off... Pioneer Woman, of course! I knew she wouldn't lead me astray and that I'd be able to convince the family to play along, with a recipe from her. And she did not disappoint. This stuff was delicious and super fast. From start to dinner on the table, it only took me 30 minutes. I love 30 minute meals! And believe it or not, my finicky eaters cleaned their plates. Granted, they emptied most of the tomatoes and mushrooms off their plates before they started, but that's just a minor detail. Besides, it meant more mushrooms for me! (The mushrooms were my addition... makes the meal just a bit "meatier.") This stuff is fantastic!

Recipe source: Pioneer Woman
Serves: 6

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 can artichoke hearts (14.5 oz., quartered or whole), drained, NOT marinated
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup heavy cream (I substituted evaporated milk without any problems; my sauce thickened just fine)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (more as needed)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional... I added it.)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. thin spaghetti
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (chives, basil, parsley, etc.)

1. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally and cook for 8-10 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream/milk and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until heated through.

5. Place drained pasta in a large bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over that and toss slightly to mix everything together. Top with fresh herbs. Add a tiny bit of reserved pasta juice or more chicken broth if the sauce seems to thick.