Monday, October 31, 2011

The Best Apple Cake

I thought I had found the best recipe for apple cake.  I was wrong!  I found it this year.  I had volunteered to make the dessert and the appetizer when our gourmet group met this month.  As I reviewed the recipe I had been sent I noticed that there was actually very little difference between my old recipe and this one.  But, this one had coconut I do love coconut so I was eager to try it.

I did hate the thought of using the bundt pan after the last adventure but I read through all of your comments and recommendations and decided that I would generously prepare the pan!  It seemed to  work, the cake came out of the pan without a problem!

I also opted to use the glaze from previous recipe instead of the one that Paula used.  Many of the reviews said the cake was too sweet.  I knew that my glaze wasn't going to over-power everything and it saved me a trip to the store for buttermilk!

Fresh Apple Cake
adapted from Paula Deen's "Grandgirl's Fresh Apple Cake from Georgia"

Preheat oven to 325°

2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla extract and mix well.  Fold in the apples, coconut,  and pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in both sugars and salt, cook over medium-low heat for two minutes. Add cream and boil for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour about 2/3 over the cake while hot. Cool. Invert. Drizzle remaining glaze over the top.


With one bite this cake moved to the top of my list!

I am sorry that I have been a bit on the slow side with cooking and posts lately...unfortunately, I have what is called a frozen shoulder...along with a torn tendon and a tear in the rotator cuff.  Life has been a bit painful!

I am linking up to Fusion Fridays and Foodie Friday today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

It was a pleasure to be assigned Marla's blog, Family Fresh Cooking, for The Secret Recipe Club reveal today!  Marla's goal is to provide her family with fresh wholesome foods and foster a lifestyle of mental and physical fitness.  Her blog is inspiring.  I had a very difficult time deciding what to prepare.  After browsing through many recipes I stumbled upon Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms that Marla prepared for a virtual dinner and fund raiser last fall.  They looked delicious and I knew that my family would really like them.

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
adapted from Family Fresh

Yield:   12 mushrooms
Cook Time:  20 minutes

12 medium Crimini Mushrooms, rinsed and pat dry
3 Tbsp bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, set aside 1 Tbsp for topping
1 ounce cheese cut into pieces (I used Brie and Parmesan)  set aside 1/2 for topping
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped; reserve some tops for garnish
1 Tbsp chopped chives, reserve some tops for garnish
1 clove garlic, crushed or a pinch of garlic salt
a twist of fresh black pepper
pinch of smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook bacon until  crisp, let cool, crumble and set aside.
Gently remove the stems from the mushrooms and finely chop.
Spray a non-stick skillet.  Over medium heat saute mushroom stems, chives, thyme with crushed garlic or garlic salt, fresh ground pepper and paprika.  Mushrooms should be very soft.  Remove from heat.  In a medium bowl combine 2 Tbsp bacon with the mushroom mixture.  If you are filling with two types of cheese, divide the mixture between  two bowls.  Add the cheese to the bowl(s).

Place mushroom caps snugly in a baking dish.  With a small spoon gently fill the mushrooms with the mixture(s).  Top each stuffed mushroom with the remainder of the cheese and bacon crumbles.  Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Garnish with the thyme and chives.

The Secret Recipe Club provides bloggers an opportunity to make a recipe from an assigned blog and share it on reveal day.  If you blog and love to prepare  recipes from other bloggers,  this is the club for you!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana - My Favorite Way to Eat Eggplant!

You know that you have been making the same recipe for a very long time when you open the cookbook and find crayon scribbles on the page!  I remember the day.  My oldest was two and she wrote me a message at the top of the page while I was making Eggplant Parmigiana.  She actually left me a few messages, learning to turn the page was a big deal back then.  She has turned many pages since that day.

I have never found a recipe better than the this one.  The sauce is thick and rich.  There aren't words to describe the wonderful aroma that wafts through the house; nor, can I describe how heavenly it is when I take the first bite!

The original recipe is from the Redbook Cookbook.  I have stuck to the original recipe over the years except when it comes to the spices.

Eggplant Parmigiana
adapted from The Redbook Cookbook

1 large eggplant
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 cup olive oil
Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 8 ounce package mozzarella cheese, grated (I sometimes use the 12 ounce package.)
3 Tbsp butter or margarine

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2 in slices.  Mix eggs, water and salt.  Dip eggplant in flour, dip in the egg mixture, and finally in the bread crumbs to coat evenly.  (I usually line up three pie tins, one for each of the egg mixture, one for the flour and one for the bread crumbs.)

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Cook the eggplant until lightly browned on both sides, adding the remaining olive oil as needed.  Drain the eggplant on paper towels.

Heat the oven to 350° F.  Pour Tomato Sauce into the bottom of a shallow 3 quart baking dish.  Arrange a layer of eggplant slices over the bottom  of the dish.  Sprinkle with some of the Parmesan cheese and then with part of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers with the remaining eggplant slices and the cheeses.  (Reserve some of the mozzarella cheese for the top. I never have enough unless I buy the larger package!) Dot with butter.  Bake 30 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned.  Serves 8 to 10.

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12 ounce can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 generous tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
A few twists of fresh ground paper

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over moderately low heat; add garlic and cook until tender.  Add tomato paste, water, basil, marjoram, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix well.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Makes 3 cups of sauce.


I had no idea what to do with the eggplant when Mr. T proudly brought it in from the garden.  (I don't ever remember my mom cooking it.  I guess she could have cooked it but if she did, I didn't eat it!)
Finding this recipe was like finding gold!  It has become a favorite at our house and it made me love eggplant!!

It was a hectic week at our house.  After I recovered from whatever bug had zapped me, my mom became ill.  After trips to the doctor, urgent care, emergency rooms and finally a few days in the hospital, she is fine.  It was a long week for her.

There certainly wasn't much cookin' going on at our house.  I would have loved to have come home to a nice plate of Eggplant Parmigiana!

While late, I am linking to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and Fat Camp Friday at Mangoes and Chutney.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Planning Halloween Treats

I have always loved the fall.  Not only is it a the reprieve from the heat, but the foliage starts to change, the days grow shorter and it is time to cozy up by the fireplace, enjoy comfort food and plan fun foods for the holidays!

I don't believe that Halloween qualifies as a holiday but it is an annual event the can't be overlooked.  It is just plain fun.

I have been under the weather the last few days and haven't done anything new and exciting for Halloween and since I still have time,  I probably will.  But, in the meantime, let me share some fun goodies from the past.

Witch's Wands were fun to make.  It is easy enough for the kids to make and tasty!  Just the right combination of salt and sweetness.

Great Pumpkin Cookies were just that, great!  They spread and flattened during baking but were tasty.  I used the Libby Pumpkin Cookie recipe.

For a party, my daughter made Creepy Deviled Eyeballs!  They were tasty even if they were green!

Cheesecake Pops are great and can be decorated for any season! They are so much fun to make!

Everybody gets to wear a costume, even my daughter's dog, Abi.  I am  not certain that she thought it was such a wonderful idea.

I am linking to Fusion Fridays, Foodie Friday, and Fat Camp Friday.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Climbing White Mountain

It is Outdoor Wednesday and Mr. T has prepared a guest post!  His latest adventure was climbing White Mountain.....a fifteen mile round trip hike.

What are the facts?

  • White Mountain is the third highest peak in California at 14,246 feet.
  • It is located East of the Sierra Nevadas.
  • White Mountain is in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevadas and has a very dry almost "moon-like" climate and appearance.  
  • This area has the perfect conditions for the world's oldest living trees, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine.
  • The oldest of these trees is over 4,700 years old!
...Ready....let's go!

Are you crazy? was the most common response when I asked my hiking buddies if they wanted to hike up White Mountain.  I had done the hike on two other occasions but the last time was eleven years ago!  Sometimes if you want to do it you just have to do it alone.

On the way I came upon a small group of Big Horn Sheep.

After hiking six and a half miles, the goal was in view.  

The stone hut at the top of the mountain is a high elevation laboratory maintained by the University of California, Berkeley.  It is their high altitude research station.

This is a view from the top looking back from where I came.

I waited at the top for the next group of hikers so that I could have my picture taken at the top as proof that I made it!

A bonus to the hike was visiting the Bristlecone pine interpretive walk.  They are the oldest living trees on earth and have a graceful beauty despite their age and growing conditions.

I totally enjoyed the hike.  I took my time and enjoyed myself.  It is hard to find words to describe the peace that I felt doing the hike solo.

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.