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!

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

Apple Valley Harvest mmm mmm GOODNESS!

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Each year in Bedford County, Virginia, on the third Saturday of October, folks from all around come to Gross’ Orchard for the Apple Valley Harvest Festival.  I love this little festival–which is growing bigger by the bushel.  From the orchard view one looks upon the  rocks at the top of Sharp Top Mountain while sampling cider, local crafts, bluegrass, pulled barbeque, and alpaca petting.

One of my best friends, the hubs, and I ventured up the mountain for some down-home fall-welcoming.   After hubs decided we needed an entire bushel–if not two–of apples, I knew I would have to make something with all these fall fruits!

The following is a recipe I found in a tiny little spiral-bound cookbook purchased from the orchard store several years ago, Grandma’s Best Apple Recipes. I have adapted it from the original (leaving out walnuts and adding milk, and mixing up my brown sugars for the frosting since I couldn’t decide between light and dark).

**I used Rome and Fuji apples for this, but you can certainly use whatever apple you are most contented with for baking.  We picked Romes, Fuji, Jonagold, and Yorks today.**

PS:  The icing is so good it almost didn’t make it to the cake. Enjoy!

FRESH APPLE CAKE

1–Heat your oven to 350.

2.  Stir together in a large bowl  3 cups a-p flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

3–In a smaller mixing bowl, combine 3 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp. vanilla. Beat together (I used just a plain-old-fashioned rotary beater for this job.)  Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour this sucker into that well, and beat it with a wooden spoon.

**NOTE** The batter will be very, very thick, almost to the point of not being able to beat it without giving those jiggly triceps a right fair workout.  Should this scenario arise in your kitchen, I suggest adding a tiny stream of skim milk–tiny amount, just enough so that you can loosen your grip a tad.

4–Add 3 cups of apples, peeled and chopped. Mix in–again, this batter will be THICK.

5–Pour into ungreased 9-13 pan, bake for 45 minutes, and open up your window and set your apple cake near it so all your neighbors will inhale cinnamon appley goodness in the air.

And let us NOT FORGET ABOUT THE FROSTING!!!!!

CARAMEL FROSTING

1–In a saucepan, mix together 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 dark brown sugar along with 1/3 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 stick of butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time.

2–Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla and beat in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

 (What to do with the rest of the can of evaporated milke: store the rest of the can in the fridge since you know you’ll be making this again this week)

 

Enjoy!
Come back tomorrow to see what we ate BEFORE dessert tonight, a dinner that is both kid-friendly and “nice enough to serve for company,” as Betty Crocker might say.

 

Apple Cake on FoodistaApple Cake