Sunday, June 19, 2016

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

I have a group of friends that I try to meet up with every couple of months just to stay connected.  Let's be honest,  it is a ladies night at the Celebration Town Tavern, usually on the patio, which may or may not include some adult beverages, not so point friendly bar food and some laughs. We all work in different areas within the same company now and always have some really good stories to share.

"I'm busy" seems to be the theme lately.  I really am!  I don't know how people with kids can possibly do it all cuz I don't have any kids and I am super busy.  It feels so indulgent to do an all about me day spent pouring through cookbooks, practicing my royal iced cookies and watching true crime TV.  Yes, I am hooked on that station, ID TV (Investigation Discovery).  It features programs like 'Sinister Ministers', 'Deadly Affairs' and 'Fatal Encounters' .  The Bellman refers to it as murder porn  Hahaha whatever, I like it, lol.

One of my Patio Night girls challenged me to do a pineapple upside down cake ------with the key word of moist ---how could I say no?!  
I totally cheated and started with a box cake.  I've made this cake before from scratch but this time I wanted to use my beautiful Bundt cake pan and knew the scratch batter would be too flimsy. I totally stole the idea from Pinterest to add the pineapple in this way rather than on top.  It slices really nice when layered like this!

Oh, and I was gifted an awesome lime green fancy whisk this week.   It worked perfectly today for this easy cake batter and there was no need to dirty up the kitchen aide mixer. Thanks Mouguett!

Yield = 1 Bundt cake (12 servings)

1/2 C butter, melted
1/2 C brown sugar

1 20oz can pineapple slices, (reserve juice)
1 jar maraschino cherries

1 box vanilla cake mix
1 3.4oz box vanilla pudding
3 eggs
1/3 C veggie oil
1/4 C heavy cream

1.  Spray a Bundt pan with non stick spray.

2.  Evenly pour the melted butter into the bottom of the Bundt pan and top with the brown sugar.

3.  Cut the pineapple rings in half and, alternating with the cherries, place into the butter-brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan.

4.  In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes together. Add the reserved pineapple juice and heavy cream (the juice and cream should together equal 1 cup of liquid).  Add the eggs and vegetable oil, and mix until fully blended.

5. Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple and cherries.

6.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

7.  Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate. Slice between pineapple rings to serve.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Blueberry Banana Bread

 Wow, the weather is soooo beautiful right now in Florida. The heat of the summer is just around the corner so I am trying to get out there and enjoy it while I can. Right now it is blueberry season, woohoo! 

We went a pickin' this week. The berries still have some ripening to do but we got enough to do some baking. Aren't they gorgeous?!

I love Southern Hill Farms. It's close to home, they have several different types of berries and best of all they have a little shop that sells stuff! Along with my blueberry lemonade I picked up this blueberry chapstick. It smells soooo good!

I have some rotting bananas on my counter top that I would never dream of tossing cuz you know what that means....banana bread!! I used my tried but true banana bread recipe and threw in a cup of blueberries. So taaaasty! 
The bread is a very old fashioned and easy recipe. I've tried tons of banana bread recipes, some with oil, some with shortening and some with butter. Some fancy pantsy recipes with creme fraiche and some with good ole sour cream. This one is my fav. It can be mixed by hand and in one bowl. It's always super tender, not too sweet and doesn't stick to the pan on me. I think the key is the bananas. They have to be beyond ripe. Like to the point where you do not want to touch them because they look so nasty ripe. To the point where you think they are too far gone and might be liquefied ripe.  To the to the point that you have a flock of fruit flies ringing your door bell ripe. Yeah, like that.

The recipe is foolproof and easy or as The Bellman would say, "easy peasy Doc and Sneezy". I love it!!

Yield = 1 loaf

3 bananas 
6 TBL melted butter 
1 C cup sugar 
1 egg, beaten 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
salt, pinch 
1 1/2 C flour + 2 TBL (separated) 
1 C blueberries 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a loaf pan. Really butter it--not that spray stuff or shortening.  I swear it makes a difference.

2. Toss fresh blueberries with about 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside. This will coat them enough to keep them from sinking to the bottom of your batter.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir in the melted butter.

4. Mix in the baking soda and salt and cinnamon. 

5. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. 

6. Fold in the flour until just combined. (be gentle:)

7. Fold in the blueberries

8. Pour into buttered loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

9. Remove from oven. When the pan is cool enough to handle, remove the loaf from the pan onto a rack and let cool for approx. 1 hour. When the loaf is almost room temperature wrap it up in tin foil. The remaining warmth will steam the loaf making it really moist and tender.

*this recipe is great without the blueberries, too.  Try leaving them out and adding a handful of walnuts, yum!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Druid Circles

Raisins are nasty.  At least that is the consensus around the Friday afternoon water cooler.  Yes, we spend our Friday afternoons very ah, productive.  This week's discussions ranged from horse jumping to Real Housewives to celery and raisins :)

I tend to agree with that raisin thought, though.  To me it is pretty disgusting to drill down into the ooey gooey center of a cinnamon roll only to find a dozen raisins all nested in there.  To The Bellman that is the holy grail.  Yes, he loves those nasty raisins.  

Druid Circles?  Well, I finally made it into the new Trader Joe's.  It took several tries, omg that parking lot!! Anyway, they have soooo many yummy things to try.  As I drooled over the baked goods table I noticed a bag of something called Druid Circles.  I was oh so curious and after reading the label I see that those are good ole oatmeal cookies.   Druid Circles = oatmeal cookies chocked full of nasty raisins = a Bellman favorite. The Bellman deserves a lil treat now and again and being that home baked is so much better than store bought,  I decided to give those Druid Circles a whirl.  I am pretty sure I'm not well versed in tasting or baking oatmeal cookies.  Remember, my not so domestic goddess mother didn't touch anything non chocolate so I've not had much exposure to oatmeal anything. After several tries and tweaks I think I have the recipe nailed down.  These are Bellman endorsed, and as he so proclaimed them "enchantingly delicious".  Like a Druid...Elf?  Even I like them, nasty raisins and all.

I'll share a couple of my secrets with you.  You hear all the time that one of the keys to good baking is to use the best ingredients you can find. I believe in that and have some favorites that I invest in.   I am in love with the organic Amish butter from Troyer Farm, good ole Nielsen Massey vanilla, Vietnamese cinnamon, cage-free organic eggs (happy chickens really do produce better eggs) and these nasty raisins from Trader Joe's.  They are plumper and not as chewy as the ones in the red box.  It's a texture thing, isn't it? 

I also really like my cookies to be crispy on the edges and chewy in the center.  To accomplish this I use a large scoop (see below) to form nice uniform mounds of dough.  I also bake the cookies until they are just barely starting to turn golden brown on the edges.  I usually let them rest on the cookie sheet 5 minutes or so before I move them to the rack.

Give them a try, ya never know!

DRUID CIRCLES (aka Oatmeal Cookies)
Yield = 24

1 C butter
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground
3 C oats, old fashioned
1 C raisins
1 C walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. In a 2nd bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture until combined.

3. Fold in rolled oats, raisins, and walnuts.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spicy GingerBread

Well, the season has arrived!! The trees are up (we have 3 of them!), our Christmas cards have been created and printed and I think I'm almost done with shopping.  Whew, I'm tired.  We have a couple of holiday gatherings yet to attend and concert tickets to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra.  That, I must say, I am super jazzed about!  As usual I have once again forgotten about St Nicholas Day.  The Bellman never does......and guess what today is?  Yep, this morning I awoke to find a lovey card and gift waiting for me.  This beautiful bundt pan!!  So festive and cute :)  

 I couldn't wait  to try it out.  I used my trusty gingerbread cupcake recipe and adjusted the baking time.  It popped out of that bundt pan perfectly!  This is a very dense and earthy cake.  The molasses is very dominant so if ya don't like rye bread or dark beer then this is probably not for you. :)

I sprinkled it with powdered sugar and decided to go back and add a drizzle to sweeten it up a bit.  I totally winged it and mixed some 10X with milk and a little orange essence to make a nice thick drizzle.  Personally, I like it plain without the drizzle but it is probably not sweet enough for the Bellman Rat Pack that way.  

Not that there will be any left over but wouldn't this make a nice next day french toast?  Perhaps with a little raspberry jam or lemon curd??  yummo!

Yield = 1 loaf

2 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 C butter, melted
1 C molasses
1 egg
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 C hot water

1.  sift together all dry ingredients.

2.  stir in melted butter, molasses, egg and buttermilk.

3.  beat in hot water.

4.  pour into greased loaf pan and bake 350F for 45-50 minutes.

**if baking cupcakes then bake for 20-22 minutes.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Hola!  Have you noticed that everyone says that now rather than a good ole Hi or Hello?  I'm blaming it on Dora.  

I am sitting here writing up my lists of things yet to do for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wow, somehow the season has rushed in so quickly!  The Bellman and I already went to see the Holiday Osborne Christmas Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios this week.  

Yeah, I know, its not even Thanksgiving yet.  As my friend and co-worker Melissa says, "Let the turkey have its day"! I kind of agree. 

The lists of shopping and baking I can handle.  I think what is stressing me out most is the 10K I signed up to run next January.  I feel that I am not remotely ready.  Plus I have a ton of baking/tasting to do between now and then.  Oh my, what was I thinking?!  I am gobbling down the last of the pumpkin bread---better to get it out of the house once and for all.  HA!

Look at this loaf, isn't it gorgeous?

Everyone loves this pumpkin bread and it is super easy to put together.  It is great for potlucks and travels well. Personally I like it better the day after it is baked.  The spices seem to pop more.  The trick is trying to keep everyone (me) out of it until then! :)

Yield = 1 loaf

1 3/4 C Flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C pumpkin
1/2 C veggie oil
1/4 C orange juice
1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C milk chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan (9x5).

2.  In large bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves and salt.

3.  In smaller bowl combine eggs and sugars, Whisk in pumpkin, oil and orange juice.

4.  Add the egg mixture to the flour bowl mixture until just combined. Be careful not to over mix as this will cause the bread to become tough.

5.. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

6.  Bake 60 -65 minutes.

* adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Peach Mango Salsa

The Bellman and I are on a "let's get healthier" kick.  It's almost impossible to be outside in this molten lava Florida summer heat so exercise is limited an occasional dog drag around the block and some lounging in the pool.  We've become pretty committed to eating healthier, too.  I've discovered the power of a green smoothie---yep, complete with leafy fresh spinach. The Bellman won't touch them but I love them! I am sure my body will go into shock soon from all the fruits and veggies I've been pumping into it.

Aside from the green smoothies I have also started preparing fish one day a week.  The Bellman isn't a big fan of fish.  I told him that eating fish one day a week won't kill you--right?! I asked him what kind he preferred and he replied, "sticks".  Uhh, no.  No Bueno Bellman.  So--I've been busy preparing and sampling different types of fish (some stinky some not) tying to find something he can tolerate,  I think we found a winner with some Mahi Mahi simply prepared with salt/pepper and a spritz of lemon. I then covered the top with an amazing peach mango salsa!!  Peaches are in so now's the time to get your peach on.  This salsa is so good!  I eat it on anything, even those new coconut triscuits.  BTW, have you tired those yet?  Super yum! Yay Martha!

I had instragrammed a photo of the salsa and had so many people ask me about it that I thought I'd share here.  It's super easy and so tasty.  I like a lot of cilantro and a little heat but you can customize it any way you prefer.  The peaches are so soft and juicy now that the salsa won't stay fresh too long without going to mush. Sometimes I just make a half batch, too.

Yield = 3 cups

2 peaches, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4C red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
juice of 1 lime
1tsp sugar

1.  Dice up all fruits and veggies.  Mix together and add lime juice and sugar.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Wickedly Chocolate Bundt Cake with Fudge Frosting

Holy wow this cake is good!  Seriously, it is the most dense and intense chocolaty cake I've ever baked.  The fudge frosting is killer. I couldn't stop eating it--I may even have licked the pan once or twice :)  Okay, not really, that would be gross.....right?

I made this cake to take to work for Boss Man's birthday. He is a chocolate fan and one of those people who doesn't like frosting --just really good dark chocolate cake.  I am kind of the opposite in that I really like frosting and the cake is merely a vessel to carry the frosting to my lips.  Yes, I am that person who always requests the frosting heavy corner piece of cake, too.

I believe this cake recipe is a keeper just in the fact that after Boss Man ate his cake he then entered my office wide eyed and asked how on earth I got that cake so intense.  "HA, winner winner chicken dinner" I said to myself! Must be the espresso powder...or all the eggs...or the really dark cocoa powder.  Whatever, it all just works. Trust me on this.

BTW, I used the Hershey's special dark cocoa powder.  I've tried all kinds of cocoa powders from fancy pantsy and expensive to some obscure chef's choice.  I always end up back with the Hershey's. To me, it really is the darkest and most intense.  

Yield = One 12-cup bundt cake

1TBL cocoa powder
1TBL butter, melted

3/4C cocoa powder
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1tsp espresso powder
3/4C boiling water
1C sour cream

1 3/4C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

3/4C butter, at room temp
2C brown sugar
1TBL vanilla
5 eggs, at room temp

1.  Stir together the 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.  Using a pastry brush coat the entire interior of the bundt pan.  

2.  Add together cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and espresso powder in a medium bowl.  Add the boiling water and whisk until everything is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool, then whisk in the sour cream.

3.  In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.

4.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs until well combined.

5.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture until combined, then half the chocolate mixture.  Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining half of the chocolate mixture.  Finally, add the last of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides often along the way.

5.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6.  Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes.

7.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out the cake onto a wire rack. Let cake cool 3 hours before frosting.

yield = 2 cups

1/2C butter
1/2C cocoa powder
1/3C evaporated milk
3 3/4C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1.  In a small saucepan combine the butter, cocoa powder and evaporated milk.  Bring to a boil and add the salt, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Whisk until smooth--about 30 seconds.  This frosting will begin to harden quickly so be ready to pour!

2.  Immediately pour over your cake!



**adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker