Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Best Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ok folks, I'm going to start this post by saying that when I see a recipe named "best ....... ever", I always think it's just a way to get people to click on it, or try it.  Really!!!!

So I'm always a little apprehensive until I've tried it myself.

Truth?  Most times the recipes are ok, not really anything out of this world and definitely not the best of anything, ever.

This cake though, yeah, this one can call itself the best chocolate sheet cake ever, because it certainly earned it's title.

Recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman, and again, I've never been a super fan of hers, but credit has to be given where it's due, and she certainly hit the jackpot with this cake.

Tomorrow, I have my daughter's boyfriend, his brother and a few of their friends coming over and spending the night before they all head to the Anime Fest in Dallas.  I wanted to make some sort of dessert seeing as I'm ordering Pizza, and young kids like cake right?  Chocolate cake especially, so in my search for the perfect recipe, I remembered that during our family reunion, my husband's cousin made this sheet cake, and so it came to be.  By the way, I totally made 2 of these this afternoon, even though they're super big, but really, it's that good.

Now enough talking.....let's get right on the recipe.

Best chocolate sheet cake

Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever

2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
2 sticks Butter
1 cup Boiling Water
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 whole Beaten Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1-3/4 stick Butter
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) Powdered Sugar

Note: Pioneer Woman uses an 18x13 sheet cake pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Cut into squares, eat, and totally wig out over the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever.

Best chocolate sheet cake

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Weekly Meals in Review

Good morning everyone.  Well another whole month has gone by and I have yet to really update this blog, life has just gotten way out of control for me lately and I'm so ready to go back to a normal schedule, and to be able to cook and share with you.

I've decided to start doing a new feature in September.

Every week, I will post what our meals were, so a Weekly Meal in Review post where I'll share photos and if available, links to the recipes.  Are you up for that?

I just think that it will be a good one to keep me accountable to the blog and to make me get back on track, kind of like slowly easing back into the habit of posting often.

So, here are what we enjoyed last week, and yes, I've been taking photos of this week's meals so far and will share those this weekend.

Monday 24th

Chicago style dogs and Cheesy Fries

Chicago Dogs

Cheesy Fries

Tuesday 25th

Grilled Ham Steaks, Mashed Potatoes and Salad

Ham Steaks

Wednesday 26th

Homemade Pizza 

Homemade Pizza

Thursday 27th

Sweet and Chili Drumsticks, Rice, Carrots and Broccoli

Sweet and Chili Drumsticks

Friday 28th

Cheesy Sausages, Salad

Cheesy Sausages

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Love, love, love Hawaiian bread rolls but honestly they can be a little pricey, and I love being able to make something that I get at the store, at home.

It has always given me a sense of accomplishment and joy to know that I can put on the table a favorite dish, or bread roll or cake.

I have a huge family reunion next week, at my house.  Oh boy!!!

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

One of the things I plan on making are my Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders, and for that I need dinner rolls.  I usually either use the small butter flavored, or the hawaiian rolls but come to think of it, knowing that I have to make 40 is going to be extremely pricey, so I wanted a way to cut some of the cost out, and usually making it at home is a lot cheaper.

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

I made a test run of this recipe today and it was a huge hit.  My husband and children are in love and say they are better than the ones from the store, that is all I needed to hear.  I'll be making a bunch this weekend to use for the reunion.

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Hawaiian rolls recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 16 rolls

For the sponge

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water

For the dough

1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk; reserve the egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt

Prepare the "sponge." In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the sponge ingredients. Let them rest for 15 minutes.

Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, and vanilla, mixing until combined.

In a separate bow, sift together the remaining flour, starch, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the liquid ingredients in the stand mixer bowl.

Begin to mix the ingredients using the paddle attachment. The mixture will start out quite sticky. Once the ingredients have come together, continue to mix and knead until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic. You can continue with the paddle attachment or switch to the dough hook.

Lift the dough out of the bowl for a moment. Lightly grease the bottom of the mixing bowl, form the dough into a ball, and place it back in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until puffy, about 2 hours.

Grease a 9" x 13" pan. Gently, deflate the dough. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, until you have 16 equal pieces.

Form each piece into a smooth ball, with the seam, if any, facing down. Space the buns in the pan (two rows of 5, and one of 6).

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour, until it's nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Mix the reserved egg white with about 1 tablespoon of water, and brush over the tops of the rolls. This will give them a shiny finish.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on top.

Remove the rolls from the oven, and place the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for several minutes, then remove from the pan to serve warm.

Store leftovers, wrapped, at room temperature for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Chicken, Rice and Cheese Grilled Burritos

Folks, you have got to make these for your family.

One thing my family loves is Mexican food, or Mexican inspired food of any kind.  I had chicken thighs on hand and was racking my brain trying to decide what to do with them.  Usually I follow a menu plan, always have, for the past almost 20 years, but since moving to Texas, we have had family dropping in on a constant basis and I've found myself flying by the seat of my pants.

I hate it.  I can't cook that way, it's just not me.

I need to go grocery shopping but I still have a bag of frozen chicken thighs in the freezer.  I wanted to use those up, plus some pantry items on hand, and so this recipe came about.

A bit of this, a bit of that and out came these Grilled Burritos which my husband and children raved about. It's been added to the list of favorites and requested to be made again, real soon.

So here we go.....oh and did I mention it's a crockpot recipe? No? Well it is, which makes it even better.

Chicken, Rice and Cheese Grilled Burritos

Chicken, Rice and Cheese Burritos

For the chicken:
Chicken Thighs (I used 6 big ones)
1 cup salsa (I used Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa)
1 (12 oz) jar Taco Sauce, Mild

For the rice:
2 cups of rice, cooked
Leftover Sauce from the chicken

Throw the chicken thighs into a crockpot, add the salsa and the taco sauce and cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4.

When done, shred the chicken using two forks, and throw out the bones.

Take some of the sauce from the chicken and add it to the rice, stir well until combined.  I didn't have an exact measurement I just eyeballed it according to our taste.

In the middle of a tortilla, add some rice, top with shredded chicken, and then put on a good helping of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Roll up like a burrito and then place on a hot skillet, grilling both sides for a few minutes until nice and brown.

Chicken, Rice and Cheese Grilled Burritos

Toad in the Hole

No, not the toad in the hole we eat here in the USA, where you take a piece of toast and fry an egg inside.  Thought, I do love that one too.

This one is a traditional dish from England.  You all know how much I love England and anything from there, and I've wanted to make this one for quite a while.

I actually followed Claire Witt's recipe and it turned out amazing.  Big thumbs up from the whole family.

Toad in the hole

Toad in the Hole

Olive oil
1 cup Flour
1 cup Milk
1 Egg
Salt and pepper

In an ovenproof dish, place the sausages and drizzle on some olive oil.  Should have quite a bit to cover the bottom of the dish.

Toad in a Hole

Bake in a 400 degree for about 20 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the flour, milk, egg and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the sausages from the oven, the oil should be piping hot.

Toad in a Hole

Toad in a Hole

Pour in the flour mixture over the sausages and pop back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until cooked through and browned.

Serve with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Toad in the hole

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Coconut Macaroons

So here's the deal, coconut macaroons have always been the one cookie that has done it for me.  I don't know but that one little bite of heaven has always drawn me in, much more than any other cookie, or dessert for that matter.  Unless we're talking Victoria Sponge cake which is a very high contender.

Anyway, as much as I love eating them, I have to admit that I've had a love hate relationship with making them, and I think it's due to the fact that I haven't quite found, or rather, hadn't quite found the right recipe.

I tended to always end up with a big round messy pile of half melted coconut which didn't taste bad, but wasn't exactly appealing.

A few weeks ago when I decided to bring back the blog and get back at posting recipes, I was looking through my bookmarked folder and deleting things I no longer want to try, or links to recipes I tried and didn't like etc.  I came upon this one for Coconut Macaroons and honestly my first thought was to delete it because my search for the right recipe had been so long and frustrating.

At the urging of my kids, I kept it and decided to give it one more try, I was completely determined to try it, find it yucky, delete it and never again try my hand at making these delicious little bites.

I'm so glad I didn't.....I think I finally found the Coconut Macaroon recipe for me and I hope that if you've also been on the search for the right now, this may just be it.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

1 14-oz bag of sweetened shredded flaked coconut
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 - 3 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the coconut, condensed milk, flour, almond extract, and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Cover and put bowl in the fridge for several hours; overnight if needed.

Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop batter and then roll with your hands to form 1 1/2-inch balls. Place each ball on baking pans lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of space in between each. If desired, add the chocolate baking discs by placing one disc flat side down on top of each coconut ball (they may flatten, but that is ok).
Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Bake for 20 - 23 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Immediately transfer macaroons to a plate. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

White Chocolate Chip, Almond, Banana Cake

White chocolate chip, almond, banana cake

So I was looking through my refrigerator and cleaning it out in preparation for grocery shopping.  I found 4 bananas that were needing to be used up or thrown out, and I never throw anything out that I can use.

What came to mind?

Banana bread, but I didn't want to just make plain banana bread, I wanted to kick it up a little.  I've used chocolate chips before but again, I wanted to change that up some, so I grabbed a few things and got to work.  I used my Banana Bread recipe just changing it slightly by adding two different ingredients.

If you want to make this cake, follow my recipe for Good Ol' Banana Bread but add in White Chocolate Chips and some Almonds.  I didn't measure, I just poured in a bit, I would say a cup of the chocolate chips and maybe half a cup of the almonds.

Bake in a loaf pan according to the directions on the recipe.

Remove from pan and let cool, slice the loaf into thirds so you'll end up with 3 layers and let cool completely.

Sandwich them between layers of Cool Whip and dust with powdered sugar.

Your family will thank you for this.  I promise.  It is so good, and all those amazing flavors meld together to create an out of this world delicious cake.

White chocolate chip, almond, banana cake

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Cream Cheese and Sweet and Chili Sauce

I'm bringing you a fun yummy, super easy appetizer or snack to serve at your next family/friend get together.

It's one of those things that you don't really realize how simple it is to get on the table, but yet when you try it, you're amazed at how yummy it is.

Really doesn't even need a recipe, persay, but nonetheless, I'm sharing it with you.

Cream Cheese and Sweet and Chili Sauce

Cream Cheese and Sweet and Chili Sauce

1 package (8z) cream cheese, room temperature
Sweet and Chili Sauce (your favorite brand)

Place the cream cheese on a plate, pour on the sauce and serve with crackers. That's IT!!!

Like I said, not really much of a recipe, but just an idea for a quick snack to serve, especially good when you have unexpected guests.

Cream Cheese and Sweet and Chili Sauce