cake doctor or pantry raid, part dos?

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When it is cold and grey-skied and refuses to snow, I decide to bake!

Why not, you know.

Hubs was gone all day judging brass players in a music district competition, and both sets of my plans cancelled due to illness and unexpected babysitting, so it was, of course, a much better plan to bake than, say, tidy up the house, you know.

But what to make?

I didn’t want to make even MORE of a mess, and I didn’t feel like making something overly-holidayish, since I am recovering from the holiday diet (read:  cookies, sweets, and cheesey baked appetizers).

In the afternoons this week, I went  to my favorite pastime, reading cookbooks.  My mom found an ancient cookbook of my grandmother’s—well, it’s not really ancient, but it’s from the early seventies–and this adorable little fundraiser cookbook contained a recipe for a cake I’d never heard of before, but hubs claimed to have eaten once (in Minnesota, in fact) and loved:  pistachio cake.

I wasn’t sold right away on this–I’ve been wanting to make an upside-down cake–but alas, I discovered this morning that I had all of the ingredients for the pistachio cake right in my pantry and/or freezer, and well, if it can save me time, a grocery trip, and a few dollars, I’m in.   I mean, I am in it to win it!

Currently I am inhaling the baking scent of this cake, and it is altogether marvelous.  I chose correctly.

(and to be quite honest)–why couldn’t this become a new sort of holiday tradition?  It’s a lovely shade of green–(I suppose it could fit for spring:  St. Patty’s Day, Easter, Earthday) and I daresay that at Christmas, nobody else will come trotting up your doorstep with a pistachio cake in hand.  Your tastebuds will welcome a change in the constant flavor of cranberries, chocolate, coconut, and butter that surrounds the palate come dessert-time.

Ooh! And the most exciting part of this whole Saturday adventure was that I finally broke in my Kitchen-Aid mixer, the one I registered for, longed for, and received upon our July nuptials! Yes!!!!   Here she is, folks:

And now presenting:

PISTACHIO DOUBLE CAKE

1–Break open a box of yellow cake mix (white works, too, if that’s what you have).  Pour it into a a large mixing bowl, and add 1 4 oz. box of pistachio pudding mix. (I know, the intense labor of it all….)

2–Add to this 3 eggs, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil.

3–Also add in 1/2 tsp. of almond extract.  You can leave the vanilla alone; it’s the nutty flavor we want to enhance today!

4–If you wanna, you can also add about 1/2 cup nuts, crushed. Obviously, pistachios would be ideal, but I didn’t have pistachios, so I used almonds instead.  Yep. Leftover from my granola and trail-mix escapades.  I took what I had in leftover slivered almonds, and crushed them with a meat mallet.

NOTE:  Crushing up the nuts with a hammer or meat mallet is a great way to release stress, tension, aggravation, anger, and basically any other pent-up emotion you need to release in a semi-healthy manner.

 

5–Now, turn on your mixer (electric or hand-held) and mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

6–Pour into 2 9-inch round cake pans (that you have greased/Pammed and floured, of course) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

NOTE:  I baked mine for exactly 32 and they were perfecto!

 

Let these suckers cool and then frost them with the following:  1 small tub of Cool Whip that you have mixed with 1 small box pistachio pudding mix–beat for several minutes, until thick, peaked, and well, frosting-like.   I was tempted to throw in confectioner’s sugar, but since this was the first time to ever try this recipe, I played it safe.

Now, I may not be a good froster/cake decorator (if you have any handy tips, comment and post!)…but!

This is a fantastic cake that is slightly sweet and VERY moist, but you wont’ get sick on it,  need to see the dentist, or refuse another slice.

In fact, you may even have room left over for all the fudges, cookies, and “typical” holiday treats 🙂

 

Enjoy!

it’s beginning to taste a lot like christmas

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This past Saturday, my little Main-Street-USA town hosted its annual Christmas parade.  I look forward to this event each year, as it marks the introduction of the holiday season.  Hubs was up and at’em early, since he had to gather his band together to march, and I had a few hours in between the parade and my mom and my mother-in-law both joining me for the festivities.

my town juxtaposed: the red hat ladies and the hunters, oh my.



how's this for a float, macys?

don't fall out of the sleigh, Santa!

So of course, I decided to bake! And since this was a day to share with both my mother and my mother-in-law, I decided to bake one of my mother-in-law’s famous dishes:  orange poppyseed bread.

It is the most delectable.

Last winter, she and I spent some time in the kitchen and she taught me in the way of the most delicious–and hubs, Mama Jill, and I spent the afternoon decorating her Christmas trees and munching on this bread.  Now,  I taste this bread and am instantly brought back to that wintry afternoon, but you can definitely make this bread any time of year.

So this loaf was made on Saturday, and by Sunday evening it was all gone.
How’s that for proof of good, eh?

MAMA JILL’S ORANGE POPPY SEED BREAD

1–Preheat oven to 350 and go ahead and butter/flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans, or six mini-loaf pans.

2–In a separate bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, 2 1/4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. poppy seeds, and 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder.

3–Add to the dry mixture the following:  3 eggs slightly beaten, 1 1/8 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 c. milk,  and 1 1/2 tsp EACH of almond extract, vanilla extract, and butter flavoring. Combine until JUST wet.

action shot!

**NOTE–butter flavoring can be found by all of the other extracts and flavorings.  I had no idea until I made this recipe, since I have never used it in anything else.  In case you are like me and weren’t sure, now you know—you’re welcome!

4–Mix (with a handheld or electric mixer) for 2 minutes only! No more, no less.

5–Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick test shows clean.

it's really ok if it oozes a bit, really. it's ok.

6–While your delicious bread bakes, make the glaze:  whisk up 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/2 tsp. EACH of the flavorings used above. (I used TROPICANA orange juice, because that’s the only kind I buy.  Seriously.  I ought to buy stock in Tropicana.  I can’t start my day without it.  You know how some people have to have their coffee in the mornings?  That’s how I am with o.j.  If there’s no Tropicana in the house, I flip out.  Anyhoo, you get the idea and I digresss…)

7–While your bread is still hot, pour the glaze over it.  Yes, right on top.  Make sure not to get any on your counter or it might dry into superglue-like substance.  While this is not true for how it dries on bread, it is true for how it dries on countertops.  Or so I have been told by Mama Jill.  I heed her warnings, and you should, too.

8–Let bread cool completely before removing from loaf pan……..or act like Farley and myself, whose bread never wholey leaves the pan since we eat it straight out.

Mmmmmmm……..citrusy and Christmasy………

 

Be on the lookout for more holiday cooking from Feeding Farley!
And enjoy!


a cake you can eat without having to put your big-girl pants on

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I have always wondered why chocolate is never a featured dessert on a Thanksgiving table.  Sure, it’s time to celebrate the harvest of pumpkins and apples, but in my world, chocolate is never out of season.

My Frazer side of the family celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday night, and Mom asked specifically if I would bake a non-pumpkin dessert, since my sister-in-law doesn’t like pumpkin.  I thought about it and decided to fix a sure crowd-pleaser:  chocolate chocolate-chip cake.

(You are most definitely allowed to drool at this point in the blog.)

This was going to be an all-around hit, I was certain, since my mother loves chocolate, my sister-in-law would like the non-pumpkinness, and my husband would get to eat his favorite cake that his Nanaw makes (and now his wife makes).  This was going to not just be feeding Farley, but feeding Frazer(s) as well.

Important to know: a nice change with this cake is that you’re not dying in chocolate (which I know might be a disappointment for some of you out there).

This is not the kind of cake that is so-rich-you-only-eat-two-bites-and-feel-like-you-swallowed-a-gold-mine rich;

this is not the kind of cake that you split with someone as a dessert;

this is the kind of dessert that you can have all to your own, chocolate cake, chocolate chips, and all.

(It’s awesome that you can actually eat a slice of this cake without needing to put your big-girl pants on.)

The recipe comes from one of the truest Southern adorable ladies to ever emerge from Virginia, who generously share it with me and I am glad to share it with you.

NOTE:  This cake is semi-homemade, so for you purists or die-hard from-scratchers, suck it up and try it on for size because it cooks up faster than you can say chocolate-chip and it’s absolutely fabulous.

NANAW’S CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE-CHIP CAKE

1–Preheat your oven to 325 and mix up 1 box Duncan Hines’ yellow cake mix, 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding, and 1 small box of instant chocolate pudding in a large bowl  Dig a well in the center and set it aside for a second.


2–In another large-ish bowl, beat together 4 eggs , 3/4 cup vegetable oil, and 1 cuppa water. (I skipped idea of my Kitchen-Aid or even my hand-held mixer and went with my beloved rotary beater instead.)

3–Pour this nice fluffy liquid mess into the aforementioned well in the dry mix and also mix in 6 oz. of chocolate chips (about half a bag). Stir it up, stir it good.

4–Get all of this into a Bundt pan and use a rubber scraper to get every last bit of chocolate yum yum into the pan.

5–Bake it for 1 hour.

6–MAKE SURE YOU LET THE CAKE FULLY COOL BEFORE UNMOLDING!
(Hubs, who loves to be helpful, knows how stressed out I get when I feel like I’m in a rush, so he unmolded the cake and the top wasn’t so attractive….oh well…..can be smoothed out with icing, if you so choose, or chocolate syrup and confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top. I went with just the sugar).  Nanaw serves this cake as-is, no icing or any frilly stuff.

 

And it doesn’t NEED any frilly stuff.

(I forgot to take my *finished product* shot, and when I went to do it, there wasn’t any cake left.  True story.  Will post a pic next time I make it…better yet, if you, dear reader, fix this cake yourself, why don’t you send in a shot of your own? That’d be awesome!)

You will never leave a chocolate dessert off of your holiday buffet again!

Enjoy!

do you know the muffin, mon?

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This cold weather makes me want my honeymoon and all of the warm, sunny, rum-drenched air of  Jamaica back.

sunset in Negril

It makes me want to curl up with my hubs and pretend that we are on vacation and don’t have to get up early in the morning.

But you know what else this cold weather makes me want to do?

 

 

…..

 

 

 

….

bake!

jamaica, baked into a muffin.

Should you ever have the opportunity to stay at Couples Negril , you will find  the people beautiful, the music intoxicating, and, the rum.  Yep, that’s basically it:  the rum.  In Jamaica, the rum flows like ocean water:  strong and everywhere.  Rum punch,  rum runners, rum cakes, daily rum drink specials at the plethora of bars permeating the place, rum everything–even rum cream, which is totally scrumptious.

And then, of course, is the Bananas Foster. Which my father-in-law happens to be a master of.(He is not Jamaican, no….but close.)  His Bananas Foster brings your mouth to a most tropical place that beckons to be returned to.  Which I would like to do. Right now.

I know that it it entirely impractical to believe most of us can  jet off to the islands whenever the whim hits, but it is entirely practical to bake Jamaica into a muffin.

All you need are some bananas and some rum to make an ordinary muffin a Bananas Foster muffin!

 

(looks like we're runnin' a little low....)

For a tropical and comforting treat on a cold day when all you long for is hot sand,  exotic fruits, and steel drum bands, sink your teeth into one of these babies:

BANANAS FOSTER MUFFINS

1–Beat 2 eggs, and pour them over 3 bananas that you’ve mashed up. (They should not just be freckled; they should have a tan—just like the kind you would have if you were in island paradise right now).  Preheat your oven to 350.

2–Add to these bananas 1/2  stick of butter, melted, and 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed. And then for the fun part:  pour in a delicious and smooth 1/4 cup dark or spiced rum, whatever you happen to have in your home bar.

NOTE:  instead of mixing this up with a spoon, I just mash it all up together with my potato masher–works like a charm!

3–Pour this into a medium skillet and cook over med-low heat until bubbly.

NOTE:  at this point, if you decide AGAINST making muffins, turn off your oven and pour this over ice cream and have dessert instead of breakfast!!! And WHY NOT!!!?? This is supposed to be similar to vacation eating, no?

4–Stir in 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 tsp. baking soda until just blended.  (Don’t worry about any lumps, lumps give it character–and overbeating those lumps are just gonna beat you, honey:  you’ll get tough muffins that don’t rise very nicely!)

5–Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

glazed baked jamaicas

Now, at this point, you have two choices:  make a glaze or coat with icing.  The recipe will be the same; the only difference is when you top the muffins.  For a glaze, pour it over while the muffins are still warm.  For an icing, wait till they’ve cooled.

**Take 1/3 cup of powdered sugar and 1 T. of rum and mix. Add a small dribble or so of milk until it reaching icing consistency.  Taste–it will taste very rummy–but if you think it’s too strong, make a glaze—it mellows out the flavor.

 

Also, feel free to add any chopped pineapple to your blend of banana mix (about instead of three bananas, you can mash 2 and add 1/2 cup pineapple, drained) and you can certainly add toasted coconut to your topping.

 

Who would have ever thought that one little muffin like this:

could bring you here:

Enjoy!

 

 

 

the south does it better

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When you are married to a band director, and when it’s autumn, you will always feel like you have more free time than your spouse, no matter what you do for a living.  Marching band season puts high demands on my man’s time.

Today was hubs’ first completely band-free weekend in months–MONTHS I SAY!!!– so we had major plans.

And I had a major surprise!  My plan was to fix my hubbsy a delicious make-ahead breakfast so we could laze around a little longer in the morning.

The breakfast you’re about to check out is simply mahhhhvelous, dahhhling.
It comes from Charleston, South Carolina, or inasmuch inspired.

(In the spring of 2005,  Etsuko (my former college roomie) and I headed on down to the syrupy Southern goodness of Charleston, South Carolina, hunting for seafood, fried green tomatoes, and more seafood.  Our visit to the luscious city proved to be a culinary extravaganza, indeed. We ate at Hyman’s every day for lunch, and I think we went back for dinner at least twice.)

scallop po'boy at Hymans

At the Cafe Cafe, you will eat the one of the most delectable breakfasts you can get in the South.   Eating this strata is like eating custardy bread pudding for breakfast–rich and heavenly.  This is serious, syrupy Southern goodness. Even though it’s a French-toast base, well, the French ain’t got nothin‘ on the South.

I swear my house smelled like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning while this was baking.  And then it tasted like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning in my mouth.  And then the hubs thus loved the breakfast lazy surprise and therefore declared we will eat this again on the following occasions:  1.  when we have special overnight/out-of-town guests   2.  when it’s a holiday   3.  when we are snowed in and 4. when we have  friends over for our next brunchy double-date.

(You, however, should make this whenever you like.)

A word to the hungry: you can make this up to 24  hours ahead of time,  or in as little as 2 hours ahead of time.

Another word to the hungry: this is quite rich.  I mean it’s right up there with Bill Gates rich.  Hope Diamond rich.

Hunker on down with your  coffee and eat this baby up:

FRENCH TOAST STRATA WITH APPLE CIDER SYRUP

1–Grease/Pam up a 3 quart rectangular baking dish (I use my lasagna dish, which you can get here)

2–Chop up a loaf of French bread into 1-inch cubes, (they can be a little bigger and nothing will get hurt, promise) Put half of the cubes in the pan.

3–Dice up  1 package of cream cheese (8 oz of Philly’ll do ya good) and sprinkle amidst the French bread cubes.  Cover the cheese with the rest of of the bread.  Sprinkle the whole mess with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on your taste).  You could most definitely do a fat-free, or reduced fat version if you are watching calories—but what the heck are you doing reading through this recipe if you are watching calories? Hmmmmm?

4–Mix up in a bowl the following:  8 eggs, 6 T melted butter,  2 1/2 cups half & half, and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Stir that sucker up good and pour over your bread mixture
**NOTE–I split the half/half mixture between half&half and skim milk**

5–Smush the mixture down with a spatula so everything gets all good and soaky and then cover with plastic wrap until ready to bake!

6–In a 350 degree oven, bake the strata, uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until golden, puffy, gotta-get-your-fork-ready.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving and voila! Get your apple cider syrup and eat this up.

APPLE CIDER SYRUP

*You can use this syrup on your Aunt Jemima waffles and pancakes if you choose, but if you decide to dollop it on your strata, get this going a good 10-15 minutes before the strata is due*

1–Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 4 tsp. cornstarch in your small saucepan.

2–Stir in 1 cup apple juice, 1 T. lemon juice and cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly! When it gets thick and bubbly, cook it for at max 2 more minutes.

3–Off heat, add 2 T. butter and stir in.

 

Yeah. Like I said, hope diamond rich, but well worth an extra lap or two in the pool.


Enjoy and happy eating!

baked apple dumplins

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Since July 10, I have been experiencing an identity crisis of sorts.

You see, I changed my name when we got married.

I didn’t want to drop my middle name, and  I didn’t want to lose my maiden name, so I just decided to add Farley on—having four names is a little muffy-buffy for me, I’m sure it’s pretentious, but hey, this is what I went with.

Now that it’s nearly November, the kids at school are more used to calling me Mrs. Farley, and I’m (strangely) more used to answering to my new name–the change has been quicker than I thought.  Some still call me Miss Frazer, since that’s how they met me, but it’s becoming odd to the ear to hear my old name—even though I had that name for so many years.

Yesterday afternoon, the hubs went out for a bit and I decided to be utterly domestic and sweet and bake the boy something good.  While I was covered in flour (from the yumminess on which you are about to feast your eyes),  there came a knock on my door.

I answered it, and standing in front of me was a door-knocker for a local candidate (November IS coming, you know).

“Is Miss Frazer there?”

I hesitated.

Technicially, it’s Mrs. Farley’s house now… I think to myself.

“Sorry….Miss Frazer doesn’t live here anymore…”

And thus our campaigner walks away.

And I can get back to feeding Farley!

So, as I am growing more familiar with recent changes in nomenclature, I recognize I am still good ole Miss Frazer somewhere on the inside.  Kind of like the following recipe:  you can call it what you like, but it’s all the same.  Some of the potential names included:  Inside-Out Apple Pie,  Apple Swirls,  Deconstructed Apple Pie.

But I went with……………..(enter proverbial drumroll)

BAKED APPLE DUMPLINS

1–Peel, core, and chop up about 2 cooking apples (I used Rome) and set aside–enough to make about 2 cups.

romes, pre-game

romes, nakey

2–Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

3–In a decent-sized bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt.

4–Add in 1 stick of butter, cold–cut it in till it gets to look like fine crumbs. Had I a pastry cutter, I would totally use it….but I used the fork method instead.

check this baby out, miss paula deen!

5–When your flour mixture is lookin super crumby, add in 1/3 cup milk at room temperature. Stir in and mix until it just comes off the sides of the bowl–may require some effort, but I believe you can do it!

6–Take your dough and place it on a floured surface, knead it about 5 times, and roll out to a 9 x 11 rectangle.

** I use this wonderful baking mat from Bed, Bath and Beyond that you can bake on, roll out dough on, basically do anything on (ahem) and it features a lovely ruler alongside the top and bottom of the mat, so you know precisely how much that 9 x 11 is, if you’re spatially-challenged, like me. Also helps in keeping a counter clean.**

7–Add your apples into the mix and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon!!!

8–Roll up the pastry jelly-roll style, and cut into slices 1 1/4 inch thick.  Place in a round cake pan (that you have pre-Pammed or greased, of course).

9–In a small bowl, mix up 1 cuppa water and 1 cuppa sugar to make a sugary syrupy sensation and pour on top of your apple slices.

10–Bake for 45 minutes and sprinkle 1 tsp. sugar over the top of your dumplins for 15 minutes more.

Don’t resist the urge to eat them immediately, but do give it a second to cool off, you know, so you don’t burn your tongue and all.  Farley loved’em.

…so delicious, and easier than pie.  Literally.

Enjoy and happy eating!

brown sugar + sparkle city

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This little Yankee girl ventured down to good ole Jefferson City, Tennessee to study English here and, as you might anticipate, met of lot of friends who hailed from the South.  My roommate Jenny came from a solid Spartanburg,  South Carolina  family of six and a mama who sure can cook.  When we got a first apartment, I was ecstatic:  we could cook and have friends over and not eat in the dining hall!  I had big plans for pasta, sauce, chicken parmigiana, meatballs…….this was all I knew how to cook back then.  Jenny called up her Mama Ruthi for instructions on how to make some good home cookin’.   It was from these initial recipes from Mama Ruthi that I began learning old-fashioned American fare to add to my budding Italian-American repertoire.

Last night, coming home from birthday festivities (whose? Mine! Why, thank you!), I remembered that I signed up to bring a dessert to the faculty pot-luck luncheon for today.  Now, I could have been super-lazy and super-within-my-rights to not have to bake at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday night on my birthday!!!!, but I knew that fixing Mama Ruthi’s banana bread would be super-fast and super-simple, not to mention super-DELICIOUS! Of all the banana bread recipes I’ve ever sampled, this one takes the….bread.

Moist, sweet, and airy, here’s a banana bread recipe you need to adopt into your box of recipe cards. After all, it is an American classic!

**NOTE:  I wait to use my bananas until I see that they are beyond freckled; they are more along the lines of developing a tan.  I think this could be the secret**

SOUTH CAROLINA BANANA BREAD

1- Preheat your over to 350.Get out a medium bowl.  Melt 1/4 cup butter and  mix in with 2 already-beaten eggs. Stir baby, stir.

2–Add 1 cup brown sugar, packed down, to the bowl. Break it up, mix it up, get rid of all lumps.

3–Add to this sugary, creamy mixture 3-4 overripe bananas and mash those bad boys up, smashing them against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon if need be.

4–Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Mix well, but not too well—just get it all mixed together so you don’t see any white spots of flour anywhere on that bowl.

5–Grease/Pam up a 9*5 loaf pan and pour your brown sugar banana batter on it.  Bake for 1 hour. You can let it cool in the pan, or take it out and place on your wire racks, what have you—I have done both and haven’t found a dramatic difference either way.

Makes your house smell like home and your tummy feel loved.

 

(here is where I would like to add the optional, choose-your-own-adventure ending):

VIRGINIA PEANUT BUTTER GLAZE

1–Combine 1/3 c. powdered sugar, 1 T. skim milk, and 1 T. peanut butter (I like JIF–use whatever you like, but NOT CRUNCHY!!!!!!) Whisk it up and pour it over the bread………..mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 

Eat it, love it.

Banana Bread on Foodista