Thursday, November 15, 2018

Grape Streusel Cake


If you've never used grapes in baking before you have been missing out. Our Grape Cream Pie (Link HERE) is sooooo good and very different from the usual. So is this grape streusel cake. You could use pretty much any fruit to make it but the grapes just have such an unusual flavor and texture it is worthwhile giving them a try. 
I compare this to a coffee cake, especially with that tasty crumb topping. I put it in a 9 X 9 pan but if you wanted it a bit thicker you could bake it in an 8 X 8 pan - you'd just have to adjust your cooking time a bit. 


Grape Streusel Cake

Ingredients
Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups seedless grapes

Streusel
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 9 pan with parchment paper, set aside.
Prepare the cake - Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together oil, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Spread evenly in prepared pan.


Top with the grapes.


Prepare streusel - In a mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and butter. Toss with a spatula until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the grapes.


Bake at 350 until topping is golden brown and toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out clean - about 30 minutes. 


You can leave it in the pan BUT I like to use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan so I can serve it on a serving platter. 
Let cool completely before serving. Don't forget the ice cream or whip cream!


I love simple cakes like this that are perfect for so many things. Tea time, girl's night, after school snack, brunch... all the things. This does freeze well too. Just make sure it is completely cool before covering with plastic wrap (or airtight container) and freezing. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sticky Garlic Pork Chops


Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. This recipe only has 5 ingredients and takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and tastes out of this world! I used boneless pork but you could definitely use bone-in chops as well. I'm all about quick and easy when it comes to dinner time. 
Don't like pork? Use chicken. This sticky garlic sauce works for lots of different meat. 
The secret to making this sauce incredible? Use lots of good garlic. TONS OF IT. Don't be afraid of the garlic. 


Sticky Garlic Pork Chops 

Ingredients
1/4 cup garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 boneless pork chops

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Place pork chops in an oven safe baking dish. 
In a bowl, combine garlic, brown sugar, salt & pepper. Spread half of the mixture over the pork chops. Flip them over and spread the remaining mixture on top of the chops again.


Bake in a 375 oven until cooked through - about 30 minutes. (Pork temperature should be 145)
Serve hot.


Personally I like rice and green beans for sides but potatoes, pasta, quinoa, peas and carrots, aaallll those tasty sides would also work!
Simple enough for everyday, fancy enough for company. It's win win, baby. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

5 Flavor Cake


Sometimes you just want to have options. 
This cake is perfect for those days when you just can't decide what kind of deliciousness you need. We went with maple bacon, lemon pie, turtle, cherry cheesecake, and cookies and cream... but there are still a million more options you could choose from. You start with a basic vanilla cake and go from there! I made several cakes at one time for Thanksgiving because I knew several friends would go crazy for them! 
Ok, yes. This cake is a bit more expensive and a little more work than a plain ol' one flavor cake but it just looks sooooo cool and tastes ridiculously good. Holiday dinners are the perfect showcase for this beautiful looking dessert. 
Need something a little fancier to impress your guests? You're in the right place.


5 Flavor Cake

Ingredients
Cake
1 box vanilla cake mix
ingredients to make cake from box
1 box vanilla instant pudding
2 tsp vanilla

Base Frosting
2 cups whipping cream
1 box vanilla instant pudding

Fillings
Base Frosting for all 5 flavors - 2 cups whipping cream, 1 box vanilla instant pudding
Maple Bacon - 1/4 maple syrup, 4 pieces cooked bacon (crumbled)
Lemon Pie - 2 graham crackers, 1 slice lemon, 1/2 cup lemon curd
Turtle - 1/4 cup caramel sauce, 1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 2 whole turtle candies
Cherry Cheesecake - 1/4 cup cream cheese (softened), 1/2 cup cherry pie filling
Cookies and Cream - 4 or 5 Oreo cookies

Directions
Prepare vanilla cake according to package directions, adding in the instant pudding and vanilla. Bake in a 9 X 13 pan according to package directions. Let cake cool completely. 
Take a large piping tip (or just use a sharp knife) and scoop out  5 lines of 4 circles - this is where you will put the fillings. Keep the round piece of cake from each hole. 
Fill one line of 4 with bacon bits and maple syrup, one line with lemon curd and bits of broken graham cracker, one line with caramel sauce, mini chocolate chips, and chopped pecans, one line with a bit of cream cheese and cherry pie filling, and one line with crushed Oreos and a bit of whipped cream. 
Place the little round piece of cake you kept back on top of each filled hole. (NOTE - VERY IMPORTANT - remember in which order your filled the cake!! Make a note of it if you need to. Once it is frosted you won't be able to tell which filling is in which hole!)
Prepare Base Frosting - Beat together the whipping cream and vanilla instant pudding until thickened enough to spread. Spread over top and sides of cake. 
Using a chopstick (or other long utensil), press a line into the frosting dividing the lines of the fillings. You can then start topping your cake. 
Grate one of the oreo cookies over the line which holds the cookies and cream flavor. Drizzle a little cherry pie filling over the cherry cheesecake area. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the turtle area. Drizzle lemon curd over the lemon pie area. And, lastly, sprinkle a little crumbled bacon over the maple bacon area.
See photo line up below for step - by - step instructions. 


To finish topping your flavors: 
Prepare the Base Frosting For All 5 Flavors - Beat together the whipping cream and vanilla instant pudding until thickened enough to spread. Take out 1/5 of the frosting and mix in enough maple syrup to flavor the cream. This will go on top of the maple bacon layer. Pipe 4 swirls, equally spaced apart, on the maple bacon layer, and then sprinkle with more crumbled bacon. Place a larger piece of bacon on top of the swirl.


Place the remaining frosting in a piping bag. Pipe swirls equal spaces apart on the remaining flavors. 
Top the Lemon Pie area with some crumbled graham cracker and a small piece of sliced lemon.


Place half a turtle chocolate candy on top of the turtle area swirl.


For the cherry cheesecake - place a whole cherry from the pie filling on top of each swirl.


And, lastly, for the cookies and cream area, press a half of an Oreo onto each swirl.


See... a bit more work but not that much.


I made one of the cakes with an apple pie layer instead of a maple bacon as the person I was making it for didn't want bacon.


The apple pie filling was a chopped apple cooked with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon until soft. Then topped with bit of cinnamon, a piece of pie crust, and a bit more apple filling. 

Here is a photo of the other cakes I did. Another step-by-step!


I mention that it is important to remember which flavor is on which end of the cake because I frosted these three and then couldn't remember which end was up. I ended up having to dig out a hole on each cake so I could see what was in there. 


20 good sized pieces of delicious cake for dessert. There are so many flavor combinations you could do! 


Please note - my amounts for the filling ingredients are rough measurements. You may need a pinch less or more to fill the holes depending on how deep you carve them out. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pear Streusel Pie


For some reason pear pies are not that popular around our house. Myself, the only way I really love pears is in a pie. Or a crisp. This recipe is kind of a combination of pie and crisp so is definitely one of my favorites. I didn't have any issues getting people to test it out for me. Put streusel on anything and people will be more apt to try it. #TrueStory
We have 2 pear trees in our yard and they yield a huuuuuuuge amount of pears. Every year we scramble to come up with recipes to use them all up. This one will be going on the Make-Every-Year list. Also - this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled!
How do you fancy up your pear pie recipe?


Pear Streusel Pie

Ingredients
Pie
1 pie crust for a 9 inch pie pan

7 - 8 large pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt

Streusel
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. 
In a mixing bowl, mix together the sliced pears, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Spread in the prepared pie crust. (Note - I like to make sure the pears are piled up in the crust as they shrink down quite a bit during cooking. This means I may end up using up to 10 pears, depending on their size!)


Prepare streusel - In a blender or food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, and brown sugar until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread on top of pears.


Place on cookie tray to catch any spillover. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake until topping is golden and pears are fork tender, anywhere from 20 - 40 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. You want to let it cool at least to room temperature before cutting so it doesn't fall apart when you slice it. 


Serve on its own or, even better, with some vanilla ice cream. 


Aaaaaaaaand, of course, a little caramel sauce!


Your guests will love you.


Who can resist? 


I find the texture of the pears goes quite well with the streusel topping - even more so than apples would. Our mom always insists that we add more topping than the recipe calls for so we sometimes 1 and a half times the streusel mixture! There is no such thing as too much streusel, am I right?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Brimstone Bread


For our Halloween dinner this year Sue found this Brimstone Bread recipe over at Alison's Wonderland Recipes (click HERE) and we just had to give it a try. It is decidedly spooky!
I am actually pretty excited to make a volcano burger a little later on using this bread as the bun. (I will post a link when I give it a try.)
You want to make sure you use a lot of red coloring in the dough so you get a deep red color instead of just pink. Pink isn't as scary as red. Just sayin'. 
Anyways, this has a regular bread taste to it and the only difference in texture comes from the black rice flour bread on top. We cut some of it up to dip in spinach dip and it worked perfectly fine!


You can easily double this recipe if you have a big crew to feed. As written it makes 1 dozen hamburger sized buns. 


Brimstone Bread
(Slightly adapted from Alison's Wonderland Recipes)

Ingredients
Red Buns
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup warm buttermilk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp red food gel coloring
2 - 3 cups flour

Black Topping
1 1/2 cups rice flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1/2 tsp black food gel coloring

Directions
Prepare Red Buns - Place hot water and buttermilk in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Add in the butter, egg, salt, sugar, and red food gel, stirring well. Gradually stir in flour until stiff dough forms. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for 2 - 3 minutes. Add a bit more flour if dough gets sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise somewhere warm for one hour (until doubled). 


Punch down dough after an hour and place on floured work surface. 
Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Separate the dough into 12 roughly equal sized amounts. (In photo below recipe has been doubled.)


Roll into balls and place an equal distance apart on the prepared cookie sheet.


Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for approx another 45 minutes.
WHILE YOU WAIT - Prepare the black topping - In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rice flour, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt. Stir the black food gel into the hot water and then beat into the flour mixture. 


Cover and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. By the time it is done your red buns should also be ready to go. 

    


Preheat oven to 350. 
Scoop a generous spoonful of the black dough on top of each red bun. Use your hands to spread it over the bun. You want it to be quite thick so you get the cracking effect when it cooks.
Bake for 12 - 18 minutes, turning pan halfway through cooking time. 
Remove from heat and let cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. 


Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temp until ready to use. 


These buns also freeze very well.  
Perfect for a Halloween dinner! I'm thinking these would also work well for a Hawaiian themed party or volcano party. When I make our Volcano Burger I will post a link to it - I'm pretty sure these buns will work superbly.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Classic Chocolate Brownies (Big Batch)


Sometimes you just need a lot of brownies. 
Like a looooooooooooooot. Usually it'd be for a potluck or a bake sale or a school function but who am I to judge if you just really need a million brownies for a weekend wine and gab fest with some friends? 
These are classic chocolate brownies with no additions but, again, who am I to judge if you want to top with some nuts or sprinkles or chopped up chocolate bars, or marshmallows? Fill your boots. 
I have trouble cooking brownies - meaning I never can tell when they are cooked through. Brownies are supposed to be gooey but there is a fine line between gooey brownies and raw batter. These bars are a bit thinner because they are baked in a big pan so they are easier to tell when they are cooked! 
I cut them in fairly large pieces and got 4 dozen. If you were cutting them for, say a tea or the like, you would easily get 7 or 8 dozen pieces. 


Classic Chocolate Brownies (Big Batch)

Ingredients
Brownies
7 eggs
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup milk

Frosting
4 cups icing sugar
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Prepare brownies - Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 12 X 17 cookie sheet with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper. Set aside. (NOTE - you can also bake these in a 13 X 18 pan)
In a very large mixing bowl, beat the eggs for 1 minute.
Add in the sugar, cocoa, salt, coffee granules, and vanilla. Beat one minute.
Lastly, add in the flour, butter, and milk, and beat one more minute, scraping bowl as you go. Do not over mix. One minute of beating between each addition is plenty. 
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. 


Bake at 350 until brownie is set, approximately 25 minutes. 
Remove from heat and run a knife around the outside of the pan to loosen from edges. 


Let cool to room temperature. 
Once the brownie has cooled I like to gently flip it out of the pan onto another cookie sheet, peel off the parchment paper, and then flip it back onto a cutting board. 
Prepare frosting - Place all frosting ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until well combined. 
Spread the frosting on the cooled brownies. Let sit until frosting crusts a bit. 


Slice into whatever size pieces you need!


So chocolatey! As you can see from the above photo my corner pieces look a bit dry along the edge. Nothing wrong with that! They just seem more "cake like" that way.
But, if you want moist brownies then just be sure you don't over bake them. 


In case you are in need of a big batch of something delicious; look no further!