Friday, January 25, 2013

Grandma's Hot Applesauce Cake (and my revision)


I think I have finally recovered from all that Christmas Baking! Well, my waistline hasn't yet, but I only gained 2 lbs over the holidays, so I consider myself lucky.  

As you can tell from this post, I have been raiding my mom's recipe box again. I must admit here, though...I hate cooked apples. Yes, I know I live in Washington (the apple state). Yes, I know they are good for you. Still, not a fan.



This cake may have changed my mind. When I thought about this (and served it to my mom, Aunt, Uncle, and cousin), this recipe is really one of those that I could see took them back to when their mom used to make it for them. And, even though I don't care for cooked apples, I can appreciate this recipe. 

I added an upside down apple aspect to this cake because I thought it was going to be quite spicy. I was right about the spice level, and the apples added another level of richness. This cake is dense and moist, and I think it's a great representation of a sweet yet satisfying old time dessert. For my version, I added a bit of lemon juice and a touch of vanilla along with 1/2 brown sugar instead of all white sugar. 

This is some serious cake - rich and dense, so serve small pieces, preferably with ice cream.


For a printable version of the recipes, click here.



Grandma’s Hot Applesauce Cake (original)

In a saucepan, heat
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 ½ cups applesauce

Until shortening melts.

Add:

2 ½ cups flour
4 teas. Baking soda
1 teas. Cinnamon
½ teas. Nutmeg
½ teas. Cloves
½ teas. Allspice

Fold in 1 pound raisins and ½ cup walnuts.

Bake at 300 50-60 minutes.


Grandma’s Applesauce cake (my revision):

For the upside down apple:

2 granny smith apples, peeled cored, and cut into 8 slices each
¼ c. butter, melted
¼ c. brown sugar

Combine butter and brown sugar, and spread evenly in a 9” cake pan. Set aside while you make the cake.

For the cake:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1/3 cup oil
2 ½ cups applesauce
2 ½ cups flour
4 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. cloves
½ t. allspice
1 t. salt
1 ½ cups raisins
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
½ t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300. In a large sauce pan, combine brown sugar, sugar, butter, oil, and applesauce. Heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.

While applesauce mixture is heating, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt in large bowl. Add hot ingredients, vanilla and lemon. The baking soda will cause the batter to instantly rise, so please use a very large bowl. Stir mixture together until well combined. Fold in walnuts and raisins, and gently spoon over your apple mixture in the bottom of your pan.

Bake 50-60 minutes, until dark brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes, then invert over a serving dish. Be careful, the mixture on the bottom is hot and liquid. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
 



Sunday, November 25, 2012

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas


I have been one busy girl lately, but I just had to share these! They are all ready to pack in cute little decorative containers, well, almost.

 One of the things that can be frustrating to me when I'm giving home made gifts, is that the containers can cost as much, or more, than the gift itself. That's where you really have to be creative.

While I haven't been as creative as I like with these, I am happy with the over all cost so far. And, it's quite easy to dress up canning jars! Find some cute ribbon, some cute fabric, and print out a picture, and you are done.

I thought home made extracts would be a great gift for some fellow foodies. The small jars are resealable, the right price, and can easily be reused when the extracts are finished. AND, the extract recipes can be easily expanded. They do have to sit for about 2 weeks for them to be recipe ready, but you can let your creativity soar and give your friends gift baskets full of flavor.

For vanilla extract:

1/3 c. vodka
1 vanilla bean
pinch salt

Place vanilla bean in a cleaned jar (You can fold them up to fit). Pour vodka over vanilla bean, add a pinch of salt, and seal. Let soak for at least 2 weeks. When you are finished with the vanilla extract, you can cut the end off the vanilla bean and use the insides just like a fresh vanilla bean in any recipe. To make a larger amount, add up to 1 c. vodka for each vanilla bean.

For almond extract:

1/3 c. vodka
2 T. chopped almonds
pinch salt

Place almonds in a cleaned jar. Pour vodka over almonds and seal. Let sit for at least 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, remove almonds and add salt.

Other extract ideas involving nuts:

Pistachio (This is great, since it's much cheaper to add 2 T. chopped pistachio meats to vodka than purchase pistachio extract)
Walnut
Hazelnut
Peanut

Nuts that don't work so well: macadamia, pecan

Unique ideas for the kitchen geek:

Instead of nuts, add 2 T. chopped lemon grass. This adds a great taste to short bread and sugar cookies.

Add rind of 1 lemon to vodka for lemon extract. This works for lime, tangerine, grapefruit, and orange.

Add 1 cinnamon stick for cinnamon extract (works great in recipes where you don't want to see the cinnamon)

Add 2 star anise for a beautiful anise extract

Add a few sprigs of fresh mint for a beautiful mint extract (the leaves stay green!).

Add the contents of one chai tea bag for chai extract. This can also be done with green tea, black tea, etc.

Add 2 T. coffee beans for coffee extract.


Time to brush off those old jars since I know you have already finished that summer jams!

And, stay tuned for my Christmas Baskets! I'm not making all those cookies this year, and have been preparing for almost a month for my upcoming baking!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars



This is seriously amazing. I just love it when a recipe has that synergy - when you taste it and just know it's so much better than its individual pieces - that synergy.

This is one of those things. I just love butterscotch chips. I'm sure everyone remembers them from oatmeal cookies in your childhood, right? Well, adding them to some cream cheese makes this awesome creation. It is so good, and so easy, you must make it...soon!

For a .pdf of the recipe, click here. Enjoy!



Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (this is about 1 package)
3 T. sugar
½ t. ginger
½ t. cinnamon
5 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until they resemble wet sand. Pat into an 8x8 square pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 c. butterscotch chips, melted, then cooled.
3 Tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese 2-3 minutes. Continue whipping while adding milk. Continue whipping an additional 2-3 minutes. Mixture will start to become a little lighter. Add in butterscotch chips and whip until thoroughly combined and no white streaks remain. Pour over prepared, cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
 



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stove top Sweet Coconut Rice




 With October comes cooler temperatures, and that urge to start grabbing your winter comfort things, so they are ready when it gets really cold.

This is one of my winter comfort things.  It's not really rice pudding, since it doesn't have the consistency, and doesn't contain eggs. It's a dessert, since it is sweet, but it's just one of those homey comfort things I love.




For a .pdf of the recipe, click here.



Stove top Sweet Coconut Rice

1 cup uncooked white rice, rinsed in cool water
1 1/4 cup water
1 t. salt
1 can coconut milk (approx. 14 oz)
1/3 c. brown sugar
½ t. vanilla

In a large saucepan, bring water, rice, and salt to boil. Reduce heat to medium heat, stirring every few minutes. After 10 minutes, add coconut milk and brown sugar. Cook until rice is tender, 15-20 more minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zucchini Bread 2 ways - one with organic Coconut Oil

 I love zucchini bread. When it's made well, it's amazing - not too sweet, and you can almost not feel guilty for eating it. Almost.

I wanted to experiment with it, though. Add a perhaps a little texture with oatmeal, see how it tastes with coconut oil. And the result is a delicious bread. The coconut oil one is my favorite.

I wanted to chat a bit about using coconut oil in baking. I've been experimenting with it for quite a while now, and have a few tips. Now, I know that everyone preaches about room temperature eggs, etc. etc. However, when cooking with coconut oil, this becomes much more important. The buttermilk I used needs to be room temperature. You can zap it 30 seconds in the microwave on low or medium - just to get the chill off.

You may wonder why I'm stressing this - and the reason is simple. At room temperature, coconut oil is solid. For other fats, this may be a good thing. For coconut oil and baking, it's really not. When it gets colder, it turns into tough little chips, which affects the texture of your baked goods. It's a much nicer end result if the coconut oil is warmed to liquid before adding it to your baked goods. It incorporates into your recipe better.

Coconut oil also imparts a much richer taste to your baked goods. You can use less of it than other fats, and you can reduce the sugar required as well. When used properly, your baked goods will taste rich and delicious, but have a few less calories than normal methods.

I do also want to add that coconut oil is not a neutral flavor. You will still taste a tropical note when you cook with it. I enjoy that taste, it adds to the richness. I have a few other things made with coconut oil in the works, so stay tuned!


For a .pdf of the Zucchini Bread, or Coconut Oil Zucchini bread, click on the links. Enjoy!



Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
½ c. oats (not instant)
1 cup flour
½ c. buttermilk
½ c. oil
2 eggs
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
½ t. vanilla
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly with oil. Add sugars, buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until no lumps remain and mixture is well combined. Add in zucchini. Add in oats and flour, and mix until flour is incorporated. Fold in nuts.

Place in prepared pan, and bake 50-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let rest 15-20 minutes in the pan before removing. Cool completely before cutting.


Coconut Oil Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
½ c. oats (not instant)
1 cup flour
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. coconut oil, heated until liquid
½ t. vanilla
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 ½ t. baking powder
2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until no lumps remain and mixture is well combined. Add in zucchini. Add in oats and flour, and mix until flour is incorporated. Fold in nuts.

Place in prepared pan, and bake 50-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let rest 15-20 minutes in the pan before removing. Cool completely before cutting.