Thursday, June 28, 2012

Serving Up {Dessert}: Cheater Donuts

In April my family and I went to Seattle for a quick getaway.  Our first day there we enjoyed amazing little miniature cinnamon donuts at Pikes Market from Daily Dozen Donuts.  The second day there my husband and I stopped into Starbucks to grab a fruit smoothie and we split an old fashioned donut.  The third day there my husband stopped into Top Pots Donuts so that I could indulge in one of their succulent Boston Creme pie donut creations.  I guess I could say that I have a thing for donuts - but luckily I don't indulge like that on a regular basis.

When we returned from Seattle I requested the Top Pots Donut cookbook from my local library and eagerly awaited it's arrival.  It has now been in my "to read" or at least my "to glance at" pile for nearly a month and I have yet to attempt a single recipe.  Crazy, I know!  But by golly, I am not returning this book until I do...

In the meantime, while the Top Pots recipe book sits awaiting my perusal, I have broken down and gone for the easy donut fix.  And when I say easy, I mean EASY!!!  And yet delicious and a total cure to any donut craving.  I guess at this point I simply ought to say "I'm sorry"...maybe we could all start running in the mornings together to undo what this recipe is going to do.

One Year Ago: Kalua Pork
                        Absolute Best Homemade Ice Cream

printable version

1 package canned biscuits (I used Pillsbury Homestyle Buttermilk)

Pour enough oil into a heavy saucepan to cover the bottom by approx. 1 1/2 inches. Heat oil to 350-375 degrees (on my stove that is the notch BELOW medium heat).

Open canned biscuits and cut a hole out of the center of each biscuit.

Prepare cinnamon sugar mixture and place in a brown paper lunch sack.

When oil is to temperature, carefully drop biscuits into the oil and cook for approx. 2 minutes (or until browned to your preference). Flip and cook the second side for 2 minutes also. Remove from oil and allow the oil to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Before they cool completely, place donut into brown paper lunch sack, seal it and shake it to coat with cinnamon sugar. Remove and allow to cool completely.

***I saw this recipe here and they dipped the cooked donuts into melted butter before putting the cinnamon sugar onto the donut.  While that probably would be amazingly delicious, I found the cinnamon sugar stuck well without the butter step and skipping the butter helped me justify eating two (and a half) donuts with zero amount of guilt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Serving Up {Breakfast}: Bite Sized Versions

Summer is here and school is out...we are enjoying the lazy starts to our days as much as I thought that we would be.  I think I didn't serve breakfast yesterday until 10 a.m. which is probably the latest so far...and half of us were still in our pajamas when breakfast was served!  What can I say?  We are enjoying it while we can because in July we begin all sorts of summer camps and morning swim lessons and we may as well be back in school for all the early morning commitments we have!

With all the time I've had in the mornings, I have enjoyed making our favorite breakfast meals but have mixed a couple of them up to give them new life.  You wouldn't think that serving "mini" versions of meals that my kids eat all the time would really make that big of an impact on the kids, but it has!

I baked my recipe for BAKED OATMEAL into muffin-sized servings and the kids went crazy for it.  Again, nothing was altered except the baking dish but it was enough to be new and exciting for the young'uns.
Baked in the muffin tins, I still put mine into a bowl, broke it apart and splashed a little coconut or rice milk over it.  But my husband ate his as a muffin -which makes a terrific "on the go" option and is a completely flour-free breakfast option should you be looking for such a thing.

Find my Baked Oatmeal recipe here and note that I reduced my baking time to 30 minutes when using the muffin tins.

With the success of the Baked Oatmeal, I had to try our EGG PIE (German Pancake) recipe in a similar manner.  Again - a total hit!

Find my recipe for Egg Pie here and note that I divided the batter between 24 muffin tins - you don't want to fill them more than 1/4 full or they won't puff and be airy and light.  I also decreased my baking time to 15 minutes when using the muffin tins.

One Year Ago: Cool Berry Soup
                        Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Serving Up {Cake}: Themed Cake Ideas

Tomorrow is my baby's birthday.  He will be FOUR and he is hardly a baby anymore but, boy oh boy, does that kid have the ability to melt hearts and win fans!  He is absolutely adorable and I tell him all the time that he is delicious just to hear him tell me, "I am not food mom!"

We have a favorite tradition at our house of the kids picking a themed cake from a birthday idea book that I have and then mom tries to recreate it, sometimes with greater success than others :)  The internet has increased our cake options as well and we have had some fun adventures over the years.

So in honor of my baby's birthday, and the fact that I am busy creating a birthday cake masterpiece for him today, here are some cakes from years past, just in case you are in need of some of your own birthday creativity on your end...

Probably an all-time favorite...the Daddyland Cake...
although I think it is a favorite for no other reason than the sugar overload that it presented...

Sports Cakes have been popular at our house with a number of these cakes being repeated...

There are have been a fair number of animal cakes in the mix as well...

and let's not forget transportation...

And the remaining random themes...

One Year Ago: Teriyaki Bowtie Chicken Salad
                          Buttermilk Pancakes

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Serving Up {Dessert}: Frozen Hot Chocolate

Frozen Hot Chocolate is a popular treat, made super popular by the Serendipity 3 Restaurant in New York City (and more recently at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas).  I remember on a trip to NYC years ago, waiting for over an hour just to get into Serendipity 3 to try their famous hot chocolate.  The next trip to the Big Apple we decided to get reservations for dinner to bypass the wait (you can only get reservations if you are eating dinner - no reservations for dessert only) but the meal was really just our ticket to get to the dessert!  And while we have discovered other delicious goodies at Serendipity 3 (Deep Fried Oreo Sundae and a Frozen Mango "goodness" to name a couple) we always go back to the frozen hot chocolate!

Since we no longer live in Vegas, and our next trip to NYC is a ways off, I needed to get my Frozen Hot Chocolate fix here at home.  Thanks to the internet I was able to search for Frozen Hot Chocolate and come up with loads of recipes.  I read a handful, compared them all to the supposed "original" and then went from there.  Along with tweaking the amounts of sugar and hot cocoa mix and opting for canned whipped cream over whipping my own, I used a mint hot cocoa mix when I made this for my husband for Father's Day because if there is one thing my husband loves more than chocolate, it would be MINT chocolate.  The result....delicious!

One Year Ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Sausage and Clams
                         Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

(recipe adapted from Serendipity 3 Restaurant via abc news)
printable version

4 ounces high quality chocolate (I used 1/2 semi sweet and 1/2 white)
3 Tbs. hot chocolate mix (I used Stephen's Mint Truffle)
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups ice
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt chocolate in a small heavy saucepan or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar, stirring constantly until blended.  Remove from heat, slowly add half a cup of the milk, and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Serving Up {Beef}: Shredded BBQ Beef

Can you believe that when I was growing up I did NOT like anything that had BBQ sauce on it?  What was I thinking?  I think I am definitely making up for that in my later life.  I mean, nothing says summer like a messy, drippy BBQ beef sandwich.  And this recipe, with it's made from scratch sauce, is a great way to kick off summer.  

This is one of those "everyone in the family is happy to eat it" meals.  We seem to have a few more of those as my kids get older, but still, with seven eating (if everyone is home) trying to please everyone is tricky.  Having all 7 THRILLED is priceless! 

And the added bonus - I threw mine in the slow cooker to keep the heat out of my kitchen and the results were just as delicious as when I have cooked it in the oven.  It's always a bonus when it can be done in the slow cooker!

One Year Ago:  OREO Ice Cream Cake
                           Mom's Corn Bread


1 boneless beef chuck roast (approx. 4 lbs.)
3 Tbs. cooking oil, divided
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 cup beef broth
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. prepared mustard
2 Tbs. molasses
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. peper
1 Tbs. liquid smoke, optional

In a large dutch oven, brown roast on all sides in 1 Tbs. of the oil.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute the onions in the remaining oil until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour the sauce over the meat.***

Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours, then turn the roast over and bake for another 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.  Remove the roast and shred and then return to the sauce until ready to serve.
Serve on kaiser rolls or buns.

***At this point you could tranfer it all to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the meat shreds easily.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Serving Up {Cleaners}: Homemade Laundry Detergent

I finally did it!  I made homemade laundry detergent and it was so fun!  Even my young guys were fascinated as they watched me grate the soap and blend everything in my blendtec.  In fact, it was darling because my 5 year old kept telling my (almost) 4 year old that "even though mom is using the cheese grater, that is soap, not cheese, so don't eat it".  So thoughtful and cautious.  I only wish he lived his own life as cautiously :)

But back to the laundry soap.  There are recipes all over the internet for homemade soap and although they all seem pretty similar, I was surprised by some saying you only need 1 tsp. of detergent per load and yet other's saying to use 2 Tbs.  I guess that you can make your own decision.  I personally load my washer pretty full so I use 1 Tbs. for a regular load and use a bit more for a heavily soiled load.  So far it works!

FYI - the cost for all my ingredients (keeping in mind I already had the oxi clean on hand) was less than $9.

One Year Ago:  Key Lime Ice Cream Shake
                         Buttermilk Waffles

printable version

3 cups Borax
3 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
3 Fels Naptha Bars
1 cup Oxi Clean (optional)

Using a cheese grater, grate the Fels Naptha bar into a large bowl until completely shredded.  Add Borax and Washing Soda and combine well.  At this point I processed the detergent in 2 cup increments in my blendtec to further combine the ingredients as well as more finely distribute the Fels Naptha.  Add the Oxi Clean (optional) and stir well to combine.
These amounts filled an empty 128-ounce Laundry Detergent box but you could store it in anything.
Use 1-2 Tbs. detergent per load.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Serving Up {Snack}: (Baked) Fried Pickles

I totally get that these photos aren't going to reach out and grab you, so you may just have to trust me on this.  If you like pickles, this is a really great recipe and a fun afternoon snack.  The first time I made this recipe, I only made a half batch, unsure how the kids would respond.  Well, let's just say that after two minutes they were all gone and I was wishing (as were the kids) that I had made a full batch.  

The original recipe (here) provides a recipe for a cilantro ranch dip, but my kids prefer theirs without a dipping sauce.  I personally think that they would be good dipped in "fry sauce" and will probably explore that train of thought very soon.  My last tip - think backyard BBQ with these bad boys topping a juicy burger.  Simply delicious!  You can thank me later!  

                         Broccoli Salad

(recipe from The Vanilla Tulip)

1 jar pickle slices, drained
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven broiler to high.  Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and flour. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and pepper. Mix well.
Place panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
Lay pickles out on paper towel to absorb excess moisture.  Dip each pickle slice into the egg mixture,  then in the panko bread crumbs.
Place coated pickles on the rack set above a baking sheet. Broil for about 3 minutes, then remove from oven and turn the pickles over.  Return to oven and broil for 3 minutes more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Serving Up {Cake} Butter Pecan Cake

My sister-in-law got married over the Memorial Day weekend and I was asked to make the wedding cake, as well as the grooms cake.  The groom enjoys bird watching, so I decorated the groom's cake as an owl.  It turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself...

Because the wedding cake was chocolate, I wanted to make a different flavor for the grooms cake.  I decided to use my recipe for Butter Pecan Cake and it went over really well.  Normally I make my Butter Pecan Cake in a bundt pan and it is flavorful and moist enough that a sprinkling of powdered sugar (or a light glaze) is all that is needed to top it off.  Simple yet delicious!  But since I decorated it when I made the cake for the wedding, it was topped with frosting and it was delicious that way as well.  I chose to use a cream cheese frosting for the white frosting instead of a basic buttercream and, well, it was really good!

And while I am still sticking with the assurance that this cake is moist and delicious and doesn't need frosting, sometimes I simply can't leave things well enough alone.  Last month I made some white chocolate glaze for a recipe and had so much leftover that I froze the remaining.  Over the weekend I decided to pull the glaze out and use that, along with some gorgeous strawberries, to top the cake when I served it to some dinner guests. The cake was a hit served that way as well.

I guess the lesson is that you simply can't lose with this cake.  My 9-year old claims that he likes this cake better than chocolate cake - better than chocolate folks!  Now that is serious praise!

One Year Ago: Smoked BBQ Brisket
                         Potato Mac Salad

(recipe from Pam H.)
printable version

1 box (18-ounce) butter pecan cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1 box instant coconut cream pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare bundt  pan by greasing/flouring.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then continue to mix on medium speed for 2 additional minutes. Pour into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick tests done.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Then remove from pan and finish cooling.
Glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar.