Chocolate Marble Cake

photo by michaelaw

One of my classic favorite desserts, hubby’s too. We used to buy this at Publix all the time but I made a couple for our birthdays last year and it was sooooo good…I added a little more oil than the recipe called for and it made it sooo moist.


Ingredients:
1 pkg. marble cake mix (whatever brand you like)
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 c. water
1 lg. pkg. (7 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with shortening and flour.

Mix all ingredients, except chocolate powder mixture from cake mix and the chocolate chips. Blend well and then beat for 2 minutes. Pour all but 1 cup of batter into the prepared pan. Into the remaining cup of batter, mix the chocolate powder from the cake mix. Blend well and then add the chocolate chips. Spoon onto the vanilla mixture all round the top, center of the batter. Cut through with a knife, being careful not to scrape the sides of the pan. Cut to create a marbled look, 15 times or so.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 20 minutes. Remove and sift powdered sugar onto the top of the cake.

There’s Nothing Dull about Classic Apple Pie

Out of all the complex, gourmet desserts I could have, nothing ever compares to the homemade apple pie my mother used to bake. I wish you could ask her how much I loved an apple pie. Even when I went to Mickie D’s or BK, I ALWAYS ordered an apple pie with my burger. Publix around the corner from my house has this awesome bakery and their apple pies are sooooo good, cost about $3.49 for a full pie, not too expensive.
This recipe is to make the whole thing from scratch no ready made pie crusts here!

Ingredients:
For the Pastry Crust:
3/4 c. cake flour
1-3/4 c. all purpose flour
scant tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. lard
4 tbsp. Crisco shortening
large pinch Rumford Baking Powder
1 tbsp. buttermilk powder OR: 1 tbsp. lemon juice or 
      white vinegar ADDED TO: 5-7 tbsp. ice water
one stick plus 1/3 stick butter, frozen in advance
For the Filling:
10 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
sprinkle of mace (optional)
sprinkle of vanilla
lemon juice
Flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot for thickening

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, then reduce to 375 degrees F after pie is in the oven.
Combine dry ingredients. Mix together Crisco and lard in metal bowl. Sprinkle with flour mixture. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove butter from freezer and slice into 1/2 inch chunks. Add to bowl. Work butter and shortenings together into flour with fingers or a pastry blender, leaving large chunks, the size of walnuts. The purpose is to coat the butter particles with flour, but not to allow the butter or shortenings to melt. Do not overwork the mixture.
Add the lemon juice or vinegar to ice water and stir quickly into dry ingredients. Mix briefly, less than 45 seconds, leave large unincorporated pockets of butter and shortening. If mixture is beginning to melt, refrigerate briefly.
Gather mixture together into a flat disc, approximately 1 inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour or up to 2 days. Freeze if you want to reserve longer than 2 days. The half hour rest is necessary so that the dough will become easier to roll out. The buttermilk powder and/or lemon juice also helps relax the dough and prevent gluten, which can make for a tough crust.
NOTE: For a flakier pie crust, reserve 1/3 stick of butter and slice lengthwise, 1/8 inch thick. Place strips of butter onto dough and then fold into thirds before refrigerating for half hour resting period.
For the filling, use a combination of different types of apples. The best combination consists of mostly Granny Smith apples and a few Cortland types. The Granny Smith apples retain their shape when cooked and provide tartness and flavor. Meanwhile, the Cortland apples cook down into applesauce.
Granny Smiths and Cortland Apples used for this recipe 
Mix the nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon with the sugar. Sprinkle the sugar with a few drops of pure vanilla extract. Work the butter and 2 tablespoons of flour or other thickener into the sugar. Slice the apples into thin wedges and place apples into pre-rolled out and fitted pie crust, packing apples in tightly, since they will cook down significantly. Mound apples higher in center. Sprinkle over the apples the juice of 1/2 lemon, then sprinkle the sugar-spice mixture over the apples evenly. Roll out and place top crust, fluting edges to seal tightly and creating several vent holes to allow steam to escape.
Brush top of crust with a mixture of one egg white and one tablespoon of water or with a little cream. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.
Variation: One method of making a nice base for your apple pie is to peel a portion of the apples, placing the skins, cores, lemon peels, cinnamon sticks, and fresh grated ginger, into a saucepan with sugar and half cup of water or apple juice. Simmer over low heat for about an hour and strain, reserving the liquid. Thicken 1/2 cup of the strained liquid with 1-2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot and cool. Add 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla, the sliced and peeled apples, and pour into the pie shell. 
This is a nice variation when you don’t have Cortland apples to mix in with the granny smiths because it keeps the pie from being too dry. The liquid is enough for one 10-inch pie about 4 inches tall at center. Adjust according to your pie size. Bake about 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Freshly grated ginger much improves the flavor over the ground type in this recipe.

Lemon Bundt Cake

picture by Stacy
I’ve been wanting to take cake decorating classes at Michaels for a long time but I just never seem to get around to it. I love watching the Food Network Challenge, Cupcake Wars, and Last Cake Standing, those bakers are amazing!
This cake is pretty easy to decorate as well as containing lemon which I adore! I took the semi-homemade way and took some help with cake mix. It helps when I don’t have time plus I never really follow all the instructions so in a way it’s still an original recipe or at least it’s my take!
Ingredients:
1-1/4 c. butter
2-1/4 c. sugar
7 eggs
2-1/2 c. flour
2-1/2 tsp. lemon extractCream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour, all at once, beat well. Add flavoring. Pour batter into greased bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 lb. conf. sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together. Spread on cake while it is still warm and let it run down the sides. Then, I like to refrigerate it for about an hour before I cut.

Lovely isn’t it? Yummy, moist too! Bon Appetit!

Key Lime Pie

Boy was I craving a slice of key lime pie tonite, I just love the creamyiness (forgive the spelling) of the filling mixed with the tarty lime and then the graham cracker crust. It’s a slice of Heaven! And it falls in to my ‘easy to make’ category. It hit the spot tonite after my dinner wasn’t all that fulfilling. Have you ever had a better dessert than you did a meal? At least the last taste in my mouth was this delicious dessert, I can go to bed happy tonite!

Ingredients:

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 can condensed milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 c. fresh squeezed key lime juice
Fresh whipped cream
Couple of drops of green food coloring (optional)

Beat 4 egg yolks until frothy; add 1 egg white and beat with egg yolks for a more chiffon-like filling. Add 1 can condensed milk and mix well. Add 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice and food coloring (optional); mix well.

Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Chill well in refrigerator until filling is set. Serve with fresh whipped cream. The pie also freezes well, especially with the egg white added to the filling. Optional: top with lime slices if you want or other decorations, even strawberries slices.

Now, what if you want to make your own graham cracker crust?
You can! Here’s what you need:


Preparation:
Start off by mixing 1-1/2 cups of crushed graham crackers with 1/2 cup of butter. Press into pie pan then pour lime mixture on top and bake at 350 for 15 minutes until the crust is lightly brown, remove and let cool to room temperature. Then you can use this to put the key lime mixture into.

“No Alcohol” Bananas Foster

photo by vxia
I have to say it was hard coming up with a recipe for this that didn’t call for rum and some probably will think this is not a TRUE Bananas Foster dessert without it, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion. A lot of us cooks don’t use alcohol for either health, religious, or personal preferences. I feel that it is no different than being vegan or vegetarian. If you’re a diabetic, your diet has to be adjusted. For me, I don’t drink or use liquor because of my born-again Christian values, nevertheless just because I don’t use alcohol doesn’t mean there’s not some great substitutes which won’t skimp on flavor. 
So instead of rum, I decided to use lemon juice and vanilla extract. The dessert is sooo good! Couldn’t get enough of it! FYI, if you’re looking for alcohol substitutes, be sure to read my post here. I found a very good article that lists so many different things that you can use instead.


Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise and crosswise + extra sliced
 bananas for garnish
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup also for garnish

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon. When mixture begins to bubble, place bananas and walnuts in pan. Cook until bananas are hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve at once over some chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream. Garnish with extra banana slices and more drizzled chocolate syrup on top.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

original photo by Mark Pellegrini, color changes by Kim McDougal
This image is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Never made one of these cakes before, I think I’ve always thought this recipe was so daunting but maybe I’ll get over the hump and try it this holiday…we shall see!

Recipe adapted from Kitchengifts.com

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 20 oz. can sliced pineapple (you’ll use all but 2 slices)

Maraschino cherries (optional)

2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar

6 tbsp. pineapple juice from can

1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sifted flour

1/3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in heavy 10″ skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the top. Arrange drained pineapple and, if you wish, cherries, in the skillet. Don’t be afraid to crowd the slices.

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored — about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar.  Beat in pineapple juice and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture all at once. Mix until smooth. Pour cake batter over pineapple slices in skillet. Use a spatula to smooth to edges.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Use a table knife to run around the edge of the cake between it and the skillet. Allow the cake to sit for 5 minutes before carefully inverting onto cake plate.  Put the plate on top of the skillet then flip the whole thing over and it should come right out.

Serve warm or room temp with whipped cream or plain. You can easily double this recipe if you’re serving a crowd.  Just use a larger cast iron skillet to bake it in.

Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

photo by Evan-Amos
This is a chocolate fan’s delight! Who wouldn’t go crazy over chocolate chips and M&Ms in a cookie? Well, the photo taken here is the Keebler® Chips Deluxe® Rainbow™ Chocolate Chip cookies line  and no offense to them, I know it takes excellent, but why not make our own shall we? And it’s not hard, I think it’s fun actually!


Ingredients:
1 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. plain M&M’S®
1/4 c. chocolate chips

Combine shortening, sugars, and vanilla. Sift flour, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in M&M’S® and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Use silver cookie pan. All done! Yummy!

Brownie Cupcake and Caramel Florentine Fudge Cupcake

picture by Dan Brian Gerona
Have to admit that sometimes though I’m a creative professional, I’m not always creative in the kitchen. When I normally buy brownie mix, I just normally make them the regular way in a square pan. But I love the idea of instead pouring the mix into cupcake holders. In the picture above, there’s no icing which is fine with me. 

Ingredients:

1 c. butter
1-1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
   (I’m not big on nuts so this can be omitted)
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1-1/4 c. unsifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs

Melt butter and chocolate chips over very low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in nuts. Set aside. Mix flour, salt and sugar in large bowl. Add 4 eggs, beaten and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture; mix well.

Arrange approximately 20 cupcake holders in cupcake pans. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool. Leave plain or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
NOTE: These are great plain. They really don’t need to be frosted.

Caramel Florentine Fudge Cupcake
picture by Janet Hudson

What a neat looking cupcake with the caramel on top for decoration! I’ve never dabbled with caramel before and as a matter of fact, one of my FarmVille friends teased me about it because one of the virtual trees we get on our farms is a caramel apple tree. She loves caramel and I thought….hmmm wasn’t sure I wanted to try it until I saw this cupcake!!! This recipe might be great for vegans and vegetarian-alike.

Fudge Brownie Cake:
1-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt, sifted
1-2/3 cups raw sugar, process in a grinder so it is very fine
Egg Replacer for 3 eggs
1 vanilla bean, scraped
7 tablespoon vegetable margarine
5 oz. Chocolate Chips

Melt the chips and margarine and cool. Place the dry ingredients in a mixer and add the egg replacer- combine and then add the chocolate. Mix thoroughly. Crumble 5 Florentine cookies and swirl them into the batter. Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool slightly, spoon some caramel on and into the cupcakes and finish cooling.

Caramel:
1 cup vegetable margarine
2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup corn syrup
3 cup vegan sweetened condensed milk **
1 tsp. vanilla

Almond Maple Scones

photo by Janet Hudson
I love scones, a little more than a biscuit but not as heavy as a cake! Makes such great snacks and this one has a wonderful vanilla glaze on top. I hope you try this easy, easy recipe for them!

Ingredients for the scones:
3 1/2 c. flour (all-purpose)
1 c. chopped almonds
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. vegetable shortening
1 c. milk
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 tsp. maple flavoring

Mix dry ingredients. Mix liquid; add to dry ingredients. Cut into wedge pie-shaped pieces. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

For the Vanilla icing:
Ingredients:
1 cup Confectioner’s sugar
4 to 5 tbsp. 2% milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add confectioner’s sugar to a bowl then mix vanilla extract and milk together and add it to the sugar and make a smooth paste.

Raspberry Scones

photo by robz431
These are some amazing scones with raspberries running all through them! Another favorite breakfast snack for me while I type, type, type blog posts! LOL! And they smell amazing baking in the oven!


Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. fresh raspberries
1 egg
2/3 c. light cream

In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mix the butter nicely till the mixture becomes coarse. Gently add the raspberries.

In a separate bowl beat the egg lightly. then take out 1 tablespoon of egg and keep aside.
To the remaining egg, add milk and mix, then add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir till the entire mixture gets evenly mixed and resembles dough. Gather into a ball and turn out on a floured surface. Pat gently into a round no less than 3/4 inch thick and cut in 8 pie shape wedges.

Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush with the reserved egg and bake the scones at 425 degrees F for 12 ­to 15 minutes or until a golden brown. Serve hot with butter and whipped cream.