Friday, June 21, 2019

FIVE STAR CARROT CAKE

This is, by far, the best carrot cake ever!! It is sweet, moist, flavorful and it stays fresh tasting for days. It is full of sweet carrots, raisins and pineapple and it is absolutely excellent for a crowd, it also freezes well!!!

Directions below are for a 10" layer cake OR 36 cupcakes.

I like to make cupcakes because we are "empty nesters" and I can just take a few at a time out of the freezer, rather than a whole layer cake.

Sorry about the bad photo........I was in a hurry (as always). 





FIVE STAR CARROT CAKE

4 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup crushed pineapple (squeezed dry)
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1� cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1� teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

If you are making a layer cake, lightly spray two 10" baking pans with vegetable spray, and line the bottom with parchment paper, then spray again. See note about baking pans at the end of this recipe.

If you are making cupcakes, it takes 36 cupcake papers. Preheat your oven to 350.


Mix shredded carrots and brown sugar and set aside at room temperature for 1 hourAfter 1 hour, stir in the raisins and set aside. The sugar will draw a lot of liquid out of the carrots and it will all look soupy.........ignore that and DO NOT DRAIN!!!

Beat eggs until they are light colored and foamy (about a minute or so at high speed), gradually beat in the white sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir in pineapple.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon...mix well.  Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, making sure everything is moistened before you add more flour.

Stir in the carrot-raisin mixture as well as the nuts.

Bake at 350� for 45-50 minutes if you are baking two 10� layers. Test for doneness by inserting a dry toothpick into the center of the baked cake. If it comes out clean when you take the toothpick out, the cake is done.

If you are making cupcakes, bake at 350� for 21-23 minutes. My standard electric oven takes 22 minutes.  Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 
(1) 8 ounce cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup UNsalted butter   (room temperature)
1� teaspoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat room temperature cream cheese and room temperature Unsalted butter  until it is sooth and creamy.  Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) along with the vanilla.  If the frosting seems thick, add a tablespoon or so of milk and beat again.


ENJOY !!!

Note about Cake Pans: I ALWAYS bake with light colored aluminum pans. If you have dark pans (or glass pans), you have to reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees...because if you don't, the cake can burn. I've never had that problem when I cook with light colored aluminum pans.

SARAH LEE POUND CAKE CLONE

I don't know how many times I've tried a clone recipe and later thought..."close, but no cigar".  But this one is the real deal !!!

Not only is this cake made from standard pantry staples, but it is rich, buttery and it has a very fine and velvety crumb, just like a Sarah Lee Pound Cake. I can think of a million great uses for this quick and easy cake, but I doubt it will last that long around here. I'm definitely going to be putting one of these beauties in the freezer for unexpected guests.



8 ounces butter at room temperature (no substitutions)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 2/3 cups CAKE FLOUR  (important, no substitutes)
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Recipe calls for an 8 1/2" loaf pan. If you are using Pyrex, preheat your oven to 325�. If you are using a metal pan, preheat the oven to 350�. Spray the pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper (or foil) and spray again.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for a full FIVE MINUTES.

Add one of the eggs and a couple spoons of the flour and beat another TWO MINUTES.

Add the 2nd egg and half of the remaining flour  and beat another TWO MINUTES.

Add the sour cream and the rest of the flour and the extracts, and beat another TWO MINUTES.

Spread the batter into the greased parchment paper lined loaf pan and bake  65 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.

Cool in the pan (on a rack) for 20 minutes before you take it out of the pan.  Wrap the HOT pound cake snugly in plastic wrap and cool completely (yes, right on the surface of the hot cake).




NOTES: It is important to use cake flour. With all of the mixing in this recipe, all purpose flour or bread flour wouldn't give you a very good cake.

ENJOY !!!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

GREEN BEANS and BACON

This recipe for green beans is fast, super simple, sweet and FULL of bacon, in other words, it is delicious!!

Double the recipe and it makes a GREAT potluck dish.....it's super tasty even at room temperature (be prepared to share the recipe!!!)



GREEN BEANS and BACON


2 pounds frozen green beans (thawed)
1/2 pound bacon, fried crisp, drained and crumbled
1/4 cup of butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Thaw the green beans and drain if there is any extra liquid.

Fry the bacon until it is almost crispy, drain well, then cut into pieces. Recipe calls for 1/2 pound, but I've been known to use a whole pound on occassion. ??

Heat the butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper and garlic powder. just until the sugar is well dissolved.

Place green beans in a ungreased baking dish, top with crumbled bacon, then drizzle the soy-brown sugar mixture evenly over everything.

Bake in pre-heated 350 oven (uncovered) for 40 minutes.

ENJOY !!!

MONSTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I make these cookies for Christmas; individually wrapped, these BIG COOKIES make nice thank you treats for teachers, the mail man, the UPS man, etc.

The flavor of this chocolate chip cookie the best I've ever found, with tons of chocolate and walnuts.  This recipe makes about 24 HUGE 5" cookies.


1/2 cup rolled oats 
2  1/4 cups flour
1  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup regular white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts chopped

Put the rolled oats in the food processor and process until you get a fairly fine powder. In a bowl, mix the oat "powder" with the flour + baking soda + salt + cinnamon and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the room temperature butter, sugars, vanilla and lemon juice until it is smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients, 1 cup at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Dough is going to be very stiff, so a stand mixer works well for this.  

Add the chocolate chips and nuts and mix until well combined.  CHILL THE DOUGH FOR ABOUT 1 HOUR.

Each cookie takes a little less than 1/4 cup of cookie dough. I use my ice cream scoop to measure them out.


Roll the 1/4 cup of cookie dough in your hand and place six cookie dough balls on every large cookie sheet (at least 5" apart).  Bake in pre-heated  350 degree oven and bake for 16 to 18 minutes. My standard electric oven takes 16 minutes exactly.

Let the baked cookies sit on the hot cookie pan for about 3 minutes before you move them to a cooling rack (the cookies will fall apart if you try to take them off of the cookie sheet too soon).

Once the cookies are completely cooled, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then freeze them in a freezer zipper bag until I'm ready to give them away.


They are completely delicious!!!

ENJOY !!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

FIVE STAR (NO KNEAD) CINNAMON ROLLS

I thought I had the best cinnamon roll recipe, but oh my goodness..."Katy bar the door".....


Drop everything and try this recipe!!! 

Here's why:
.
1. The dough is light and fluffy, not "bready"
2. There is NO KNEADING, but it sure tastes like there is
3. The flavor is outstanding!!
4. They have the texture of a good donut
5. Covered, they stay fresh and delicious for 2-3 days
6. They freeze beautifully

Do I have your attention yet? Click on this photo so you can see the light and airy texture of the baked rolls.





2 cups buttermilk (no substitutions)
1/2  cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar

1 packet Quick Rising yeast 
4  1/2 cup all purpose flour *DIVIDED*
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

FILLING
3/4  brown sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons butter (soft)


Mix the buttermilk, vegetable oil and sugar in a bowl and put it in the microwave just long enough to get it a little warm (I call it baby bottle warm) Let it cool down if necessary.


Stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Stir in 4 (of the 4� cups) of flour to the buttermilk mixture and stir well (no need to knead, just mix well). Dough at this stage will be extremely sticky and more like a thick batter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for an hour.

In a small, separate bowl, mix the final � cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. After the sticky dough has raised for an hour, stir it down and add this final half cup flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated (by hand or electric mixer)...just takes a minute.
 

Turn batter (which will still be quite soft and sticky) out onto WELL-floured counter and roll the dough around a few times, coating the surface with flour so it is not super sticky. 

Roll (or pat) dough out into a rectangle that is about �� thick. Spread dough surface with 2 tablespoons room temperature butter then evenly spread on the filling ingredients and top with nuts if you are going to use them (pat the nuts into the sugar a little). 

Roll up, jellyroll style, keeping it as tight as you can. Pinch the seam shut tightly. Cut 1�� slices and lay them, cut side down, in a greased 9x13 baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60 minutes (or until double in size). 

Bake in pre-heated 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and they sound hollow when you tap on them. Frost while still hot.

FROSTING

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons* milk (less if you want thicker frosting)


*Mix the powdered sugar + butter + extracts and just a couple tablespoons of the milk. If frosting seems to thick, add just a little more milk. If it seems too thin, add just a little more powdered sugar.



ENJOY !!!

YEAST BREAD FOR BEGINNERS

COME ON, BE BRAVE!!!
YOU CAN MAKE GREAT BREAD !!


I've been making this bread recipe (at least once a week) for nearly 40 years and it has never failed me. It is a basic, no frills, white bread that goes together in minutes and is nearly fool proof. 



OR



4 1/2 to 5 cups Better for Bread Flour (see note below about flour)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Scant tablespoon of table salt
2 envelopes of rapid rise yeast (see note about yeast)
4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 1/2 cups very warm (not hot) water (about 120 degrees)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 1 cup of bread flour, 2 packets of rapid rise yeast, 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 1 scant tablespoon of table salt and 4 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil.

Stir together, then add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Mix with spoon and let it all sit for about 10 minutes to "bloom" the yeast.

If you are concerned about the temperature of the water in this recipe, you can use an instant read thermometer, but it is NOT rocket science and after you make bread a few times, you will learn exactly what the water temperature is supposed to feel like, just by holding your hand under the running tap water. It should be about 120 degrees (I like to call it baby bottle warm) ??



After the yeast-dough has "bloomed" for about 10 minutes, start adding the rest of the flour...1/2 cup at a time, mixing with a sturdy spoon in between each addition. When the dough gets too thick for your spoon, attach a dough hook to your stand mixer and turn it to low.

NOW HERE IS AN IMPORTANT TIP

When adding flour (at this stage) something I call "dough shag" is (can be) your enemy. If you have added too much flour, too fast, you will get "dough shag" or dry shaggy pieces of dough.

Click on this next photo so you can see the dry white sections next to the wet sections of dough. 

Click on the photo to see the
shag more clearly


 Shag is not totally a bad thing, it is simply a clue that it is NOT time to add more flour yet. NEVER ADD MORE FLOUR IF YOU CAN SEE SHAG.

Here is another photo, see the shag?
I intentionally added the flour a little too quickly (in this next photo) so you could see what I mean by "shag".


Click on photo


 Don't panic if you see shag, just keep "kneading" with your dough hook (or by hand) and the shag will eventually incorporate into the wet dough. Don't add more flour until your dough looks more like this:



Eventually, you will get all the flour into the dough. When that happens, let your machine knead the dough (gently, on a low setting) for about 6-8 minutes (or by hand for 6-8 minutes).

Stop your mixer every once in a while and pull all the dough off of the dough hook, scrape down the inside walls of your bowl and turn the ball of dough completely over and start the mixer again. You will need to do this a few times until the shag totally disappears and the dough clings together in a nice semi-solid "glob".

At the end of 6 to 8 minutes (exact time is not critical), the dough should have worked itself into a smooth ball that stays on the dough hook when you raise the hook out of the bowl. The interior walls of the bowl should be fairly clean and should look like this:





See how the dough ball has "cleaned" all of the little bits off of the bottom and sides of the bowl? This is what you want to see. The dough will not be sticky and it will feel sort of like softened "Play Doh" when you touch it. 

When your final dough is smooth, remove it from the dough hook, form it into a ball and place it in a greased bowl (I just use a little vegetable spray). Then spray the top of the dough with a little more, and cover it with plastic:






 Place this covered bowl of dough in a nice warm place in your kitchen. Room temperature is OK, but if you have a warmer place (less than 100 degrees) place it there. After an hour, your dough will have doubled in size.




Your dough should look
like this after an hour
(doubled in size)

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto your counter. Some people say flour the counter at this stage, but I NEVER do. Push all of the air out of the dough and cover it with an inverted empty bowl (or plastic wrap) and let it sit for 15 minutes to relax (this will make your dough much easier to handle when you try to form it).

Depending on how you want to shape your dough, follow these general directions:

If you are making loaf bread for slicing, cut the dough into two or three equal pieces, depending on how large your loaf pans are. I like to use 9"x 5" loaf pans (this recipe makes 2 loaves).

Roll each piece into a rectangle about 8"x 10" (size not critical). Starting at the short end, roll it up tightly into a log and pinch all of the "seams" shut. Place in a greased loaf pan (I use vegetable spray) and then I spray a little more on the top of the formed dough. 

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it raise for 1 hour or until it is doubled in size. Bake at 400� for 25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and brush top with butter (optional) and let it cool on a baking rack.

If you are making rolls, just pinch off pieces about the size of a golf ball, roll them into a round shape and place them in a greased 9" baking pan with sides of the "dough balls" almost touching. Spray a little vegetable spray on top and loosely cover with plastic. Let raise for an hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 400� for 18 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan and brush tops with butter (optional) and let them cool on baking rack.

 
Hamburger Buns

Sandwich Rolls 



This bread freezes 
very well
?
NOTE ABOUT YEAST

The kind of yeast you use makes a HUGE difference. Not the BRAND of yeast, but the KIND of yeast.I recommend QUICK RISE (also known as instant yeast or bread machine yeast

Regular Active Dry Yeast works well too, 
but it takes longer to "bloom" AND raise. You will have to dissolve it in 1/2 cup warm water for 10 minutes BEFORE you add to the recipe.

Whatever kind of yeast you use, just be 
sure to check the expiration date on the yeast!!!!!!!!!!!


Make sure you use a 
HIGH GLUTEN (BREAD) FLOUR,
this is extremely important.

I made mediocre bread for years, until I discovered these two flours; they made all the difference in the world.

Personally, I like the
Gold Medal Flour the best!!

If your flour is six months old, THROW IT OUT!!



NOTE ABOUT DOUGH RISE: Some people have granite counter tops which are usually cool to the touch. This will effect the length of time your bread takes to raise. I suggest that you find a warmer place to let your bowl of dough raise than on the granite. You can also place a nice thick towel on your granite counter top and let your bread pan sit on top of the towel. Make sure there is no draft in the area where you let your dough raise.

I hope you give this recipe a try, it really is fun once you get over the "nervousness" of bread making. You can use this recipe to make sandwich bread, bread rolls, bread sticks, pizza dough  and a million other things........come on, you CAN make bread....be brave and have fun!!?


ENJOY !!!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

CHUCK ROAST SLOPPY JOES IN THE CROCK POT


This recipe came about one day when I was feeling very lazy relaxed.
I had a big beef chuck roast in the fridge and the idea of regular old roast beef just didn't sound good, so I went through my recipes and spotted a Sloppy Joe recipe that I've been using for 30+ years and thought...why not???

I just put the roast and veggies in the crock pot, early in the day, and enjoyed the wonderful aroma of our upcoming dinner all afternoon. When it was time to eat, I just pulled out some burger buns and potato salad and we had a meal fit for company (well, MY kind of company any way).



CHUCK ROAST SLOPPY JOE'S

2 pounds lean beef chuck roast (trim any large fatty areas)
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup green pepper
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne powder

Brown the beef chuck roast in a frying pan, then put it in the slow cooker (a large slow cooker works best). In the same frying pan, saute the vegetables until the onions are almost transparent, then tuck them in and around the meat. 

Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the meat and veggies. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 8 hours. It isn't necessary, but I turn the meat over a couple of times during cooking and spoon the sauce over the meat.


Thirty minutes (or so) before serving, remove the meat and thicken the sauce with a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water. Once the sauce is nice and thick, cut the beef into slices

(or just pull it apart) and put it back into the sauce so it will stay nice and hot.

When it is time to eat, pile the meat and sauce on a warm buttered bun or french bread ....oh so good!!! I like my Sloppy Joe sandwich with a swirl of yellow mustard.....how do you like yours?


NOTE:  My slow cooker takes only 4 hours on high to make the meat extremely tender, but still slice-able. If you like your beef more like pulled pork, cook it on high for 5 hours.

NOTE: Browning the meat and veggies isn't absolutely necessary, but it sure improves the overall taste.

ENJOY !!!