Archive | April 2016

Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake and Delicious Chicken!

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get bored with cooking. In reality, that was what started this blog over 4 years ago. There have been gaps in time where I did not blog at all, when life gets in the way and time passes without you even realizing it.

Anyway, when the boredom in the kitchen strikes, I scour Pinterest in hopes of something that looks good, has simple but delicious ingredients and is something I think my family will enjoy. Most of the time, I will find a recipe, read the recipe and make the changes i think need to be made to make it perfect for my Dear Husband and Goldilocks.

Now this dish I found on Pinterest and I liked the recipe, But I felt it needed a little something more. The recipe calls for fresh thyme. I didn’t have any fresh or dried (what? not even dried? Nope! Added to the grocery list! lol) In it’s place I used an Italian blend of spices. Mine came from Publix, but any brand Italian blend will work fine. I also added about a cup of heavy cream to the sauce after the wine reduced down for about 15 minutes and cooked it for another 10 minutes stirring the sauce around to blend the cream into everything else in the pan. chickeninpan

I used the biggest flat  bottom pan I had. After rubbing the paprika, salt and pepper into the chicken breast ( and make sure you rub it ALL over and into all the grooves and crevices.) Melt 1 tbsp of butter in pan with heat set at medium-high. Then cook chicken  on each side of the breast for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken starts to turn golden and crispy.

chickenwwine

Then add in the remainder of the butter and the minced garlic and cook, stirring the butter and garlic until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant. Be careful to not let the garlic burn! I then put in about 2-3 tbsp of the Italian spices in and then about 1 1/2 cups of white wine. Now I used a Pinot Grigio that I had on hand, but any white wine will do as long as it isn’t super sweet. A little sweetness is okay. I let this reduce for about 15 minutes.

chickenwithcream

After I reduced the wine, I added the heavy cream. You could probably use half and half, but I am not sure how using straight milk would do. After cooking the cream and wine together  for about 5 minutes, stirring to mix together, the sauce will thicken a bit. If you need to add more cream you can. I think I used about 1/2 more cream. This will just give you more sauce. If you don’t think you need more sauce, no need to add more cream.

After cooking the cream and wine sauce together, I added 2 big handfuls of baby spinach, covered the pan and let the spinach wilt. Once the spinach is wilted, stir to mix it into the sauce.paprikachickeninwhitewinecreamsauce

Now, as a serving suggestion, the recipe says to serve with GRAIN of your choice. I chose to use a veggie pasta (Barilla make 2 kinds of Pasta that are made of veggies instead all wheat or flour. Both are delicious.) I served  this dish with a side of steamed broccoli.

Dear Husband simply stated I could definitely make this again, lol. I thought it was a hit. Even Goldilocks enjoyed it! Score for Mom!

Now, in my house we like a little sweet after dinner. Since I love to bake, this is rarely an issue, lol. This next little slice of heaven fit the bill perfectly. I am sure that nearly everyone has heard of Pineapple Upside-down Cake, but there are so many delicious variations of Upside-down cake that are begging for a chance. This cake was so delicious, tender and moist. I made 2 changes to recipe linked above. I used cake flour instead of all purpose. I think i have stated before that I prefer cake flour to all purpose for these types of recipes because it make a more tender cake. Either works fine and really is up to you and what you have on hand/ prefer to use. Some cakes need to denser cake to hold things in place, such as a cake that has a lot of heavy chunks of fruit that need to be suspended throughout the cake. The other “change” I made was I added about a 1/4 tsp of cardamom. This spice adds a little more depth of flavor to the cake, especially when combined with cinnamon.

This cake is simple and quick and delicious. I was worried about the caramel in the cake pan sticking and not letting the cake release properly, but the was not the case. As the recipe states, coat the cake pan thoroughly with cooking spray. Do NOT coat the pan in flour at all. The caramel wont release because the flour on the pan will mix with the caramel and create a glue…not pretty! Anyway, after the cake is baked through, allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or more. Slide a knife around the edges to make sure the cake is released from the sides and flip onto your serving plate.

caramelappleupsidowncake

I love how the apples look on the top of this cake. It is so pretty! It can be served warm or completely cooled. It is a moist, lightly sweet, very tender cake that goes really well with coffee.

I hope you enjoyed everything today! If you try either of these recipes I would love to hear how they come out for you. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer! Happy Cooking!

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Let them eat cake!

blueberrycake

Doesn’t everyone love cake? Everyone has at least one that they like. Even Dear Husbands Brother, who doesn’t like sweets, Loves Angel food cake. Anyway, THIS cake….. this cake is sunshine and summer and refreshing! It is Lemony and sweet, with bright pops of blueberry combined with the creamy smoothness of a lemon cream cheese frosting. I didn’t use the full 2 cups that the recipe called for because I didn’t have enough, but I definitely will next time. The blueberries soften and burst open in the cake as it is baking, but don’t completely  blend into the cake.

The recipe I used is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. However I used all cake flour. I just like the tenderness that cake flour lends to a cake.It retains its moisture really well.  I did mist the blueberries in water and toss them in all purpose flour before folding them into the cake batter. And, yes, you want to fold them in. If you use a mixer or a beater, it will break the blueberries up and leak into the rest of the cake. Also they are more likely to sink in the cake because you will mix the flour right off the blueberries. As for my cake…. I dint have enough blueberries. I will definitely be using more next time.

blueberry slice

My blueberries did sink some, but for the most part held their place. You can SEE the moisture in this cake. It is simply delicious. It is so light tasting and fragrant yet the cake itself is a little on the heavy side from the moisture. It pairs beautifully with an African coffee like Sumatra,Ethiopia or Veranda Blend from Starbucks*. It goes equally well with a lemonade or an Earl Grey tea. Personally I go with coffee, but that’s just me.

Unlike most of my cooking exploits, which usually start with a search on Pinterest, this recipe was shared with me via Facebook by a sweet friend. She is a fan of my baking, lol, and wanted me to bake this cake for her birthday. The problem lies in that we live about 10 hours from one another. I told her I would make it for her next visit, but I just couldn’t resist trying out the recipe. I figured it would make a good dessert for the dinner I was planning. Dear Husband had requested a bacon wrapped SOMETHING and i wanted to make a Shells and Cheese recipe I had seen on Pioneer Woman‘s blog.

shells and cheese

I left out the bacon and peas this time, but I plan to use them next time….Maybe with a pork roast entree or something. This dinner however we were having a bacon wrapped chicken breast that I coated with a brown sugar and garlic mixture.

chicken

I, of course, forgot to take a picture of the chicken after it was baked, but here it is before I slid it into the oven. Let me tell you, though, that while these were baking…. oh my GOODNESS! My house smelled so good! You could smell the crisping bacon and the garlic and the sweetness of the brown sugar….It makes my mouth water…And let me tell you, it tasted even better than it smelled!

I served the chicken up with steamed broccoli and the creamy Shells and cheese pictured above. It was a hit all around. Simply delicious.

To make the chicken, I sliced a chicken breast in half length-wise. I laid a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, laid the 4 pieces of chicken flat and covered with another sheet of plastic wrap. Then I pounded the chicken to about a quarter of an inch thick. Doing this does 2 things. It tenderizes the meat and it also makes it easier roll up later. I then spread the brown sugar-garlic mixture (recipe will follow) all over  one side of each piece of chicken. I then put approximately 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top of the mixture on each piece of chicken. Then, very carefully, roll the chicken up around the cheese and then rub more of the mixture on the outside of the chicken. I then laid 2 slices of regular bacon side by side and wrapped the rolled chicken in the bacon. The bacon holds the chicken together so there is no need for toothpicks or skewers to hold things together. Do this to all the chicken and places them on a prepared pan. As you can see in the above picture I use a rack on top of a tinfoil covered cookie sheet. Just spray the rack down with cooking spray and you wont have issues with sticking. Slide the pan into the oven set at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. You want the bacon to get crispy, the sugar to melt and caramelize the garlic and the bacon. SO GOOD! If you try it let me know how it goes! You can use pretty much any cheese or mixture of cheeses you like as long as it is sharp and melts well. Here is the mixture I used. It is perfect for 2 Chicken breasts split in half, so if you are making more, this is easily doubled or tripled.

Brown sugar and Garlic spread

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup minced or crushed garlic

3 tbsp of melted butter

1 tsp of onion powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how spicy you want it, I just wanted a little heat with the sweetness of the sugar)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together well, add the garlic and butter and mix well.

I used the back  of a regular spoon to spread the mixture on the chicken. It worked well and controls the amount you are putting on at a time. Let me know if you try it! I am happy to answer and question you have or respond to any comments! Happy cooking!

*I am not in any way paid to promote Starbucks. I did work for them several times, which is why I know more about their coffees.

 

 

Day Trippin’

 

This past weekend was one of the busiest we have had in a long while. Our weekend started on Friday and Dear Hubby’s Brother was flying in from Houston. Brother had a layover in Charlotte and because his plane from Houston was late getting in he missed his connection….. so…FUN…. Poor fellow was stuck in Charlotte for an additional 4 hours!! WE drove the hour down to Richmond to pick him up, and because of the way traffic is around here, we had already made the hour trip to Richmond before we knew about the hiccup. And, again because of the traffic, it didn’t make sense to drive all the way home and back again. So, Dear Hubby, Goldilocks and I had an impromptu family day in Richmond. We stuck close to the airport and explored the stores and such around there. We finally picked up Brother around 4 and headed home. We took Brother for a walk on our trail along the river just to show him the view. river

(one of the views of the river)

The next day we took a trip up to Mount Vernon. We hadn’t toured it yet and figured Brother would enjoy it too. It was beautiful and well preserved. Goldilocks is still too young to understand the historic value of it, but she enjoyed walking around and looking at the pretty flowers and the “big house” as she called it.

This is the view of the bowling green and front aspect and the other is a view of the roof  from the side and rear of the house.

potomac

A view of the Potomac River from the rear of Mount Vernon. Pictures really don’t do the view justice. It is absolutely gorgeous!

At Mount Vernon there is also the Manor’s farm. There are still live animals and gardens growing and People dressed in period costumes showing how things were done back in the day.

I wanted to take pictures of the interior of the house, but no photos were allowed. Those big, beautiful horses are called Shire horses. They were an impressive site close up. They were busy pulling people around in a wagon while we were there.

The flowers around the manor and in Martha Washington’s garden were gorgeous. The gardens are meticulously cared for to maintain their splendor.  I had to keep Goldilocks from picking the flowers. We lasted at Mount Vernon until about 1 pm and then we all decided it was time to find some lunch. Then Brother decided he needed some new sneakers, which he found a great deal on. It definitely pays to go to a store closing sale.

The next day we drove out to Chatham Manor. Its a quick drive from where we are in the Historic part of town.Its a pretty drive and we were able to show Brother part of the Historic District. I love seeing the old houses and gardens.

This is the front view of the house, and then the view from the rear of the house of the city.

The architecture of the old houses and manors is so pretty and the gardens are like nothing you see on newer construction. Flowers are some of my favorite subjects and these old gardens are full of beautiful specimens.

We also went perusing through the antique stores in the Historic district. If I had had a pocket full of cash, I would have come home with a trunk full of antiques! I saw so many beautiful things! I will definitely be going back with some pocket change.

That was all for this weekend. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

 

Did I mention Spring is here?

More Flowers and a Delicious Cake

Strawberry Lemon Yogurt Cake

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The daffodils are blooming… EVERYWHERE!! I have never seen so many in one place. They are such a happy flower.  It makes me want to sing the flower song from Alice in Wonderland

Anyway, I am really enjoying the warmer weather. I have been trying to get in a walk everyday with Goldilocks. there is a 3.1 mile paved trail that follows the river and the canal here. It is a beautiful walk and is a bit of a workout with the hills and such. Add in pushing a child in a stroller to ramp up calories burned… Whew….definitely better than a gym. But I digress….

What i really want to talk about is this Cake….

strawberry yogurt cake

It is Spring in a bite! So bright and delicious. It is full of diced strawberries and a bit of lemon zest. Let me tell you, this cake makes the house smell amazing! The original recipe is found here.

I wait all year for strawberries to be in season to make this cake. It takes 12 ounces or strawberries to make this cake the way it should be made.

ingrediants

That along with Greek yogurt, butter and a little lemon juice give this cake plenty of moisture. The flavors pop in this cake once it is completely cooled, and it has this wonderful lemony glaze drizzled all over…. just delicious. The wonderful thing about this cake is that it isn’t overly sweet. It goes really well with a cup of coffee in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon with a glass of lemonade.

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Now, I did add a little vanilla to the recipe…Just a teaspoon or 2. It adds a little depth to the flavor and cuts the acidity a little bit.

If you decide to try it, please let me know how yours came out! I love hearing about other peoples baking adventures!

Happy Spring!

Springtime and Easter Dinner

Flowers and Delicious Food!

Easter food and pretty Flowers

Happy Easter!! I know its a little late but you know how holidays are!

I have to say, I think that I have cooking full meals for holidays on my own down to a science. I think the prep work for this meal took me a little under 2 hours! After that its just a whole lot of baking and waiting….roasted turkey

Now, in my house, we have 2 proteins for these types of meals and a variety of sides. The only thing I forgot this year was a side of bread (Gasp!). I had been planning to make pretzel rolls.

This Turkey was so tender!! I have been making my turkey the same way the last few times and i haven”t had any issues with it being dry at all! I take a spoon and slide it between the meat and the skin, and put a compound butter in the space created.

Compound Butter:

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic (fresh)

1 tsp Rosemary, dried (or 1 tbsp fresh)

1/2 tsp thyme, dried (or about 2 tsp fresh)

a little salt an fresh ground pepper

a splash of white wine

Put all ingredients in a food processor (I use a Ninja) and pulse until everything is well blended.

I take this mixture and shove it under the skin and massage it into the meat anywhere I can get it.  I then spinkle salt and fresh ground pepper directly on the skin and rub it in.  I take the remainder of the compound butter and rub it all over the outside of the turkey. THis helps with that nice, golden colored, crispy flavorful skin that we all strive to achieve.

Next I quarter up a sweet onion and 2 medium apples ( I use Gala or Granny Smith). I put as many of the pieces as will fit in the cavity of the turkey and place whatever is left in the pan on the outside. Last, But most certainly not least, I pour white wine into the cavity. Do this gently and pour slowly! Only tilt the bottom of the turkey up enough to pour in the wine. If you stand it straight up the wine will go straight through! LOL. You should only use about half a decent sized bottle.

I baked my turkey at 325 for about 3 hours…He was under 10 lbs so that was about what was needed. The last 30-45 minutes I had to place a piece of aluminum foil over the turkey to keep the skin from browning to much. as you can see in the above picture, it was nearly fall apart tender! So delicious and fragrant…my tummy is grumbling thinking about it…. maybe I will have some for lunch….

baked ham

I also made a small ham for some variety. I generally buy the precooked, presliced ones that only need reheating. I make a glaze of brown sugar, cinnamon pineapple chunks and a splash of pineapple juice all blended together and poured over the ham before heating…It is delicious, and the quantities of ingredients is completely to your taste.

deviled eggs

I don’t know about you, but deviled eggs are a staple for Easter in my house!

greenbeans

Fresh green beans, steamed and tossed in melted butter, salt and pepper.

sweet potatoes

Sweet potato mash with a candied pecan topping, baked to a crisp finish. The perfect pairing for the baked ham.

potatoes au gratin

And the final side, Potatoes au Gratin. This dish is so good… You could eat it by itself. It is also very rich, so only a little is needed

This Dinner was a success and I definitely enjoyed making it. The only thing missing was the remainder of my family… We weren’t able to make it down to Florida this time but there is always next year!!

As far as the flowers up here go though! Mother Nature was definitely celebrating Easter as well. She pulled out all of her finery for sure! there are so many flowering trees and, well, just flowers everywhere! there are tiny white and purple flowers on the ground, along with wild growing daffodils..

tulip

This beauty is a red tulip that just sprouted up along my fence line….it is all alone there, but so vibrant and beautiful!

appleblossom

These Flowering trees are all along the canal path and trail that I walk with Goldilocks almost every day. I am not certain what they are but they may be Crab apple trees… the flowers and leaves look about right.

TULIPTREE

This tree is on the corner near my house.. It is absolutely gorgeous. I have no clue what it is, but the flowers look like tulips and the petals are a faint pink with a darker pink near the center. Just beautiful! and very fragrant.

Well, that is all for now. If you have any questions or want other recipes from our dinner I would be happy to share, Just leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Girlie Birthdays and Cotton Candy

Happy 5th Birthday, Goldilocks!!!

A little Delayed, But you know how birthdays are 🙂

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I can’t believe that my Baby is 5 years old! Where does time go? You know those “On this Day” memories that come up on Facebook? Mine has been loaded these last few days with pictures of Goldilocks from birth on through. It is amazing how much they change in the early years. My sisters also posted these cute little picture collages on my wall of pictures they have of her and with her… It all made me a bit teary eyed….

Anyway… before I get weepy…

Since she is definitely old enough to have an opinion about her cake I asked her what flavor she would like to have. We went through all the usual choices, Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry…. all flavors that we have had recently. So, I decided to be crazy. I opened up my Pinterest account, went to my cake board, and let her see all of the delicious confections I have pinned there. I have made a lot of what is there at some time or another but there were some new ones there too. She had fun swiping through them on my phone with me and found what she wanted. The cake she chose has to be the GIRLIEST cake I have every laid eyes on. This cake is Pink, Fluffy, has sprinkles… What more could a little girl ask for?

The original recipe and idea can be found here. While I loved the idea, I don’t care for White cake or almond extract and had decided when I pinned the recipe initially that I wouldn’t use the cake noted.

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I used my go to cake, a soft, light, moist Butter cake recipe. I added a little extra vanilla and half a cup of sprinkles and Voila! Confetti Cake!

I was really happy with the way the cake itself turned out. Light, fluffy and moist with wonderful pops of color from the sprinkle all through the cake.

Next up was the frosting. This frosting isn’t Buttercream. It is what is commonly known as Cloud Frosting. It’s a mixture of egg whites, sugar, a little light corn syrup, flavoring and, in this case, a little color. The first three ingredients are cooked to 160 degrees. This cooks the egg whites and kills any bacteria and also melts the sugars to a syrup. Then you whip that stuff like crazy!! it turns into this gorgeous fluffy, marshmallow-y meringue type frosting. It is sticky at first, but easy to spread and tastes delicious.

This is the frosting about halfway through the whipping process when I added in the pink color and the flavoring.

image3

Now the recipe in the tagged blog uses actual cotton candy Flossing sugar. I wanted so badly to try it with that and looked for a full day all over town trying to find it. I looked online to see if there were any stores that carried it in my area…. and of course… there was not. I didn’t have time to order it in so i decided to improvise. I made the basic Cloud frosting and added both Strawberry and vanilla flavor to it as it was whipping to get that nice glossy pink and the delicious flavor of pink cotton candy (which, if you didn’t know, is a mix of strawberry and vanilla). I think it came out perfect. I loved it!! and Even better, Goldilocks loved it too!! It is definitely a pretty cake.

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Here it is, in all its pink frosted glory. And yes the frosting is supposed to be rustic…to give the feeling of a cone of cotton candy. If you have a sweet tooth, this cake will satisfy.

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One last Picture, for those of you who like to see the slice! Full of Sprinkles and as my sister so eloquently put it “Holy Frosting!”

Just delicious 🙂

 

I will be posting the recipe I used on a separate post. Enjoy!!