Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ambrosia Dessert Salad


Okay, how many of you out there have ever heard of ambrosia? I looked through a handful of my cookbooks to try and determine whether it was a salad or a dessert. In one of my cookbooks, the recipe was in the salad section and in another, it was under fruit desserts. Good grief, which is it?!?!?! How about if we call it an ambrosia dessert salad???? I know, let's call it YUMMY!!! Hmm, with Easter right around the corner, wouldn't this look great (and colorful) on the table? Note: I used a 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks that were packed in juice and a 15-ounce can of mandarin oranges packed in light syrup. By the time I drained out all the juice from the pineapple chunks, I had about a 1/2 cup left (I think I'll use the chunks for a breakfast smoothie tomorrow morning). When I drained the juice from the mandarin oranges, it was exactly one cup! I normally have white marshmallows on hand, but since I didn't, I bought the colored ones the other day at the grocery store - aren't they cool?!?!

Ingredients

1 cup pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup mini marshmallows (white or colored)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped),
  if desired

In medium bowl, put the pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, coconut and marshmallows. Mix gently with large spoon. Add the sour cream and combine thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge a minimum of one hour. When ready to serve, sprinkle with the chopped walnuts or pecans (if you want) and toss lightly.  Serve immediately. Makes five cups.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scones

If I were alone on a desert island, I could probably survive on just muffins, biscuits and scones!! The word "scone" instantly makes me think of a fancy tearoom.  Since I don't have a "tearoom" in my house, I have to settle for our kitchen table :) This morning, before Dominic and I left to see his private speech therapist, I had one of these scones for breakfast. Since St. Patrick's Day is in just a few days, I decided to sprinkle some green sugar on top. I guess if I wanted, I could have even had an Irish Coffee with the scone. I looked up the ingredients in an Irish Coffee. It consists of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and cream. Hmm, that drink might be better suited to go with our "traditional" New England Boiled Dinner of corned beef, cabbage, onions, potatoes and carrots that I make every St. Patrick's Day!!


Ingredients

2 cups white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon white sugar (for topping)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, 2 1/2 teaspoons white sugar and salt. Mix well with spoon. "Cut" in the butter with two knives. Make a "well" in the middle of the batter and add the milk. Combine well and then remove to a lightly floured surface. Knead about 20 times and then flatten out with a rolling pin or your hands to an 8-inch circle. Slice into eight equal triangles and then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the one teaspoon of white sugar evenly on the tops of the eight scones. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms of the scones are lightly browned. Remove immediately to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Zucchini/Coconut Muffins with Pecans

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that is very versatile. You can eat it raw with some dip or steam it to make a side dish. How about tossing some chopped zucchini into a slow cooker along with a bunch of other veggies to make vegetarian chili? Decisions, decisions. Well, my favorite way to use zucchini is making it into bread or muffins! Since I had a bag of shredded coconut in my pantry and some chopped pecans in the freezer, I decided to put a 1/2 cup of each into the muffin batter too!! I was keeping my fingers crossed while the muffins were baking, because I wasn't quite sure how it would taste. Well, I shouldn't have worried at all - these muffins are so yummy! Who knew that zucchini, coconut and pecans would make such an awesome threesome?!?!?!?! These muffins also contain one of my other favorite "threesomes" - cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger! One thing I've learned about baking with zucchini, it is a very wet vegetable! I shredded an entire zucchini and put it into a measuring cup. I then took my fist and gently pressed the zucchini down and then turned the measuring cup upside down over the sink.  So much water came out, that it then became only a 1/2 cup! Good grief. I ended up shredding another whole zucchini and then draining that water out too. I like a moist muffin, but what if I hadn't got all that extra liquid out?? Yikes!


Ingredients

1 cup zucchini, unpeeled and shredded
  (about two medium)
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. In small bowl, shred and drain out the extra liquid from the zucchini, until it equals one cup. Set aside. In large bowl, put the white flour, white sugar, light brown sugar, egg, canola oil, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Add the zucchini and mix well with large spoon. Mix in the coconut and pecans and combine until well incorporated. Distribute the batter evenly into the 12 paper liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the muffins cool for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to continue to cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Banana Smoothie


 
When the hubby was getting ready to leave this morning for work, he remarked that three of the bananas in the bowl looked, "very ripe." Yep, they certainly were great "candidates" for banana bread. Since I just made banana muffins last week, I decided instead to whip up a smoothie. I tossed a little bit of this and a little bit of that into my trusty blender and made a delicious concoction. We received an automated phone call at 5:15 this morning that Dominic's school was closed because of the subzero temperatures. That meant I had one of my taste-testers here to try a "sample." I poured the smoothie mixture into two glasses and tucked a straw into each one. Dominic and I polished ours off in less than 10 minutes. One thing I have heard incessantly lately from my son is, "Mommy, I'm hungry!"  Well, after Dominic had his smoothie, I didn't hear him utter that phrase for about three hours. That's a new record. LOL.  If you have a growing preteen boy like I do, give him this smoothie. It hopefully will keep him "filled up" for at least a few minutes!!

Ingredients

6 ounce container vanilla yogurt
3 small bananas, very ripe, chopped
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients into a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Makes two cups.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Red Velvet Cupcakes




I grew up in Maryland and have lived in the Midwest for over 13 years, but I love southern food, like jambalaya, hush puppies, sweet potato casserole, pulled pork, pecan pie and any kind of corn bread! Red velvet cake is a very popular dessert in the South. I have made red velvet cupcakes from a box (I used either Duncan Hines or Better Crocker, I can't remember) and while they were delicious, I was curious if I could make my own version from scratch. A key ingredient in a red velvet cake or cupcakes is buttermilk. I made a special trip yesterday to the grocery store and would you believe, I couldn't find any in the dairy case?!?!? Rather than giving up, I made my own. There are only two ingredients to buttermilk - lemon juice (which I haven't tried) or white vinegar (which I used) and milk. Did you ever see that movie, Steel Magnolias? If you did, do you remember the armadillo groom's cake? it was made out of red velvet cake!  I whipped some of these cupcakes up yesterday afternoon. They are so yummy that if I close my eyes while I'm eating one, I can almost picture myself down in the South where it's warm and sunny, instead of here, where we had to shovel a path,


To get to our mailbox!



Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups white flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners into a 12-cup cupcake tin. In large bowl, put the sugar and butter. Beat with electric mixer on low speed for two minutes or by hand until smooth. Add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined. In small bowl, put the buttermilk, red food coloring, vanilla extract and the white vinegar. If you need to make your own buttermilk, put a tablespoon of white vinegar in a one cup measuring cup and pour in enough milk to make one cup. Let it stand 15 minutes. Add the ingredients of the smaller bowl into the ingredients in the large bowl and beat on low speed for about one minute or by hand until well incorporated. Pour batter evenly into the cupcake liners. This recipe made 18 cupcakes for me, but I filled the cupcake liners just a teeny bit too full!  The next time I make these cupcakes, I think I'll only fill the tins about 1/2 way up with batter :) Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let them cool about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling. When cupcakes are completely cool, frost with the cream cheese frosting below. Store covered in the fridge.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix by hand or with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

* Feel free to sprinkle the cupcakes with red sprinkles (like I did) or with chopped pecans!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Carrot Cake Bread

Yesterday, at 5:40 a.m., our phone rang with a message that Dominic's school was going to be closed because of ice on the roads. That meant three things for the day - he could sleep in (which he did), go sledding on the driveway,



and do some baking with me!!!


Dominic loves carrots. I give them to him in his lunch and as a snack.  He won't eat them cooked, but that's okay. I'm just glad he loves carrots so much! Anyways, when I was starting to assemble all the ingredients (and there are a lot) to make this yesterday, "Chef " Dominic came over to investigate what I was up to. I told him that it would be at least a few minutes, because I needed to shred 1 1/2 cups of carrots. Once I was ready, I had him come back over to assist me.  Dominic has gotten so good at cracking eggs, that I don't need to have him crack them into a separate bowl anymore! Once the bread was baked and cooled, I decided a little frosting would make this bread even more yummy. Dominic "sampled" the two ends of the bread (hey, those are my favorite pieces!!), and proclaimed it to be "good." This morning, when Dominic's bus driver (Mr. E), came to pick him up, I had Dominic hand him a slice of this bread. Mr. E looked right at me and said, "I'm going to have this with my coffee!" It takes a special person to drive a special needs bus and Mr. E is definitely that person :)

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Bread:

1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups carrots,
  peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Peel and then shred the carrots into a medium bowl. Set aside. In large bowl, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, egg, water, canola oil and vanilla. Mix well with a large spoon - the batter will be stiff. Add the shredded carrots and oatmeal and "fold" in gently until combined. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan to continue cooling. To make the frosting - in small bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given (except the pecans) and mix well by hand with large spoon, or to make it even creamier, use an electric mixer. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled carrot bread with a small knife and then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Store covered in the fridge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sour Cream Pancakes




I have probably made enough homemade waffles in my lifetime to circle the Earth twice. Pancakes on the other hand, don't make it on to the "menu" very often. Well, that may change. These sour cream pancakes are so light and fluffy, they are sure to be a hit with your family! I like BIG pancakes like the ones above, but feel free to make smaller ones if you want. This recipe made 13 five-inch pancakes, which is a "baker's dozen." Have you ever wondered what the term, "baker's dozen" means?  According to Dictionary.com, the definition goes back several hundred years ago to when a baker would give "13 items to the dozen as a safeguard against penalties for short weights and measures." You would think that considering I have been baking for almost 50 years, (I probably helped make my own cake for my second birthday),


and I am a great granddaughter of a baker, that I would know the definition of a "baker's dozen." Well, it's always good to learn something new! Isn't it?!?!?!?

Ingredients

2 cups white flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with large spoon. Set aside.  In medium bowl, put the milk, sour cream, eggs, butter and vanilla extract. Combine well and then add to the ingredients in the large bowl. Mix well (it's okay if there are a few small lumps). Spray pancake griddle with non-stick spray and preheat. Pour enough batter onto the griddle to make a 5-inch pancake. Flip over when small bubbles appear and the bottom side is brown. Makes 13 pancakes.