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Archive for April, 2010

In my Nanny’s garden…

 

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Angel Food Cake from Scratch

Some things are just better when they are homemade.  Biscuits, fruit preserves, and salad dressings are a few things that come to mind.  Angel food cake may rate at the top of this list for me.  I have been using this recipe since 1998 with great success. 

My grandparents used to raise organic free range chickens for a company that sold organic eggs.  I made this cake many times for the company owner to use as a demonstration to show the difference between “store” eggs and his.  Let me tell you, it is no trick.  My grandmother still has chickens and I will only use the freshest eggs possible.  If they are a few days old and are room temperature, the cake will still be good.  That is what I used for these photos, but the best thing to do is gather the eggs from the henhouse and use them before they are ever refrigerated.  It can make a huge difference in the rise and texture of this dessert.  I know that is not possible for many, but if you can do it, I highly recommend it!  You will never eat a “bought” angel food cake again!

 

1 cup + 2 tbsp cake flour (sift before measuring)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

12 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cream of tarter

1 tsp vanilla

1 additional cup granulated sugar, sifted

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift flour and 3/4 cup granulated sugar together 4 times. I use 2 paper plates and sift back and forth between them. 

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Beat egg whites, salt, cream of tarter, and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form.

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Sprinkle in 1 cup of sifted sugar.  Beat on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and sprinkle in flour/sugar mixture.  Pour batter into an UNGREASED angel food cake pan.  Mine has a removable bottom which makes it a lot easier to remove the cake.

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Before putting the cake into the oven, cut through the batter with the tip of a knife to get rid of any air bubbles.  Bake for 35-38 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.  Then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.

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One of my favorite ways to serve angel food cake is simply to cover a slice with sweetened strawberries.  I had a few packages of frozen strawberries from last year that I put to good use with this!  Also, a little frozen whipped topping never hurt either!

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In Memory

I must apologize for my lack of posts lately.  Sure, I have my weekly recipe, but most of these were pre-written and scheduled months ago thanks to Windows Live Writer “set publish date”.  My middle of the week updates and menu planning have be neglected the last couple of months because my life has turned upside down.

My mom, my best friend, B, passed away two weeks ago today, and this has been the hardest thing with which I have ever dealt.  Mom was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in February, 2007.  She went through surgery, multiple kinds of chemo, and 25 radiation treatments in two years time.  Last spring, everything was great.  Her CA-125 was very low which was very good.  (This is a specific cancer antigen the doctors test for when someone has ovarian cancer.) 

We had the best spring and summer together.  Mom ran a small garden center, and on my days off from my job I would go with her to the wholesale nurseries.  It was so much fun!  We laughed and talked and just enjoyed each other!  This past November, Mom caught H1N1 flu and it knocked her for a loop.  In December, her blood numbers had risen, but it was still below normal which was good.  She began having severe back pain and everyone thought she had just hurt her back.  X-rays showed she had three compression vertebrae fractures and they were causing her pain.  We found out later that these fractures were caused from the radiation she had had two years ago.

When she went for a checkup at her oncologist’s office in February, he immediately admitted her into the hospital for pain control and to find out exactly what was wrong.  There was a lot wrong.  Her kidneys were not functioning normally and she had multiple tumors.  The cancer had also spread to her bones.  When the doctor said that treatment was not an option, I felt like the world had stopped.  I knew there was a good chance that the cancer would return, but I thought we would have more time than this.

She went home under hospice care (which is wonderful, by the way) for five weeks.  On Sunday, March 28th, her pain and breathing were so bad that we called the ambulance and had her taken to the local hospital.  She was there for exactly a week with me, my wonderful husband C, and my Dad, R, by her side.  The pain had gotten so bad that she had to be on such strong medicine.  She couldn’t speak and was sedated most of the time.  I remember sitting in her room at three o’clock in the morning and just wishing she could talk to me just one more time!  I miss her voice so badly!

We are all dealing with this loss as best we can.  I did not have a big immediate family to begin with, and Mom was the center of it.  I miss you so much, Mom!!

roger,betty,mona3

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Mississippi Mud Cake

Mmm, mmm!  This cake is so rich and good.  I have had this basic recipe since 1999 and it is still a favorite.  This cake recipe was a runner-up in the December 2000/January 2001 issue of Taste of Home magazine!  That’s right…I was published!

For cake:

2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 large jar marshmallow crème

For frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp vanilla

1 lb powdered sugar

6-9 tsp milk

1 cup pecans, chopped

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Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 13×9” baking pan with nonstick spray.  Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat until smooth and creamy.

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Add eggs one at a time and then add vanilla.  Mix in the cocoa and flour.  Stir in the nuts and pour the batter into the prepared pan.  The batter is more like brownie batter than cake.  It is a little thick. 

 

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Bake for 30 minutes or until tester in the center comes out with a few crumbs.  My oven took a little longer than 30 minutes, but start checking it then.  While the cake is still hot, spread the marshmallow crème over the cake, then let it cool.

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For the frosting:  Cream together the butter and powdered sugar.  This mixture will be dry.  Add the vanilla and cocoa.  Add the milk by starting with the 6 teaspoon amount.  My frosting was still too dry so I just add one teaspoon at a time until the consistency was right.  It took 9 teaspoons total for mine. Mix in the chopped pecans and spread the frosting over the cake.  Enjoy!!

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Wordless Wednesday

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Here is one of my own concoctions…pizza baked in a cast iron skillet.  We like our pizza pretty simple, so I just use tomato-basil sauce and lots of cheese, but you can add whatever toppings you desire.  By making it in the skillet, the crust can be pressed up the sides to accommodate all kinds of things.  Take it and run with it! Now, I just have to learn to make my own pizza crust dough!

1 package pizza crust mix

1/2 cup water

1 tsp olive oil

3/4 cup tomato basil sauce

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

I also used 3 slices of provolone cheese on this one.  Go crazy with the toppings.  Use whatever you like!

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Preheat oven to 450.  Spray a seasoned cast-iron skillet with non-stick spray.  Pour the water in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 25 seconds on high.  Pour the crust mix in the water and stir to combine.  Form the dough into a ball (it will be sticky).  Pour the olive oil into your clean hand and rub the dough ball all over with the oil.  Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let rest for 5-6 minutes.

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Next, spread the dough in the bottom of the skillet and up the sides about an inch.  Bake in the oven for 6 minutes and remove.  Now is the time to add your toppings, which for us, was sauce and cheese.  Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

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The easiest way to slice this pizza is to slide it out onto a plate.  If you have a well seasoned skillet and you used a little non-stick spray, it should slide right out.

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Chocolate No Bake Cookies

This recipe has been around for a long time!  My mom used to make these regularly when I was a kid and I think they were even served in the school lunchrooms.  (My mom’s were better.)  They are a quick and easy treat, so give them a try.

 

1/2 cup butter

2 cups granulated sugar

1/8 cup cocoa

1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3 cups quick-cooking oats

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Line two cookie sheets with wax paper and set aside.  I used a spring-handled scoop to dip the cookies, but more on that later.

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Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and boil for one minute.

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While this is cooking, ready the rest of your ingredients.

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After the mixture has boiled for one minute, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, peanut butter and oats.  Stir to combine.

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Dip out about a tablespoon of the mixture for each cookie.  This is where I used the scoop.  It helped a lot.  Allow the cookies to cool and set up.  Try to keep from eating them while they are soft, but it’s hard to do!!!

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