Peach Pecan Crisp

IMG_2339Hi all– Peaches.  They are the best right now.  We’ve been eating them in everything–in salads, with yogurt, baked for breakfast.  So here is the old apple crisp recipe that I’ve been making for 40 years– minus the apples and filled with juicy ripe peaches.    I hoping you think it’s luscious too.

PEACH PECAN CRISP

topping:
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

filling:
2 pounds peaches (4 large), cut into wedges
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

First prepare the topping.  In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Then with a pastry blender or a food processor cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sir in the pecans.

Cut the peaches into wedges.  In a large mixing bowl coat them with the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Spoon the peaches into a 9″ to 10″ baking dish.  Sprinkle the crumbly topping over the peaches.

Put the peach crisp into the oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s lovely brown and bubbling around the edges.

Serve it happily with a generous scoop of ice cream.  Summer!

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

IMG_2435Hey there– I can’t walk through the market nowadays without picking up a carton of some kind of berries– knowing that summer will soon be over and I’ll be moving on to apple and pumpkin kind of baking.

But for now there are peaches and berries and watermelon in the fridge.  Sweet summer.

WHOLE WHEAT RASPBERRY MUFFINS
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cup white unbleached flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup raspberries (about 8 oz.)

topping:
4 tab. butter, melted
6 tab. brown sugar
2 tab. white sugar
6 tab. flour
6 tab. slivered almonds

I like to make the topping first– in a small bowl stir together the melted butter, 6 tab. brown sugar, 2 tab. white sugar and 6 tab. flour.  Then carefully fold in the almonds.  Set it all aside for a couple minutes.

Then mix together the 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the oil, milk and egg.  And finally, gently fold in those raspberries.

Spoon the raspberry batter into 12 muffin cups lined with muffin papers.  With your fingers break up and sprinkle the topping on over the muffins– and pop them into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they are nicely browned and springy to the touch.

Cup of tea, hot muffin with a bit of butter.  Just about perfect.

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Blackberry Almond Galette

IMG_2062Hi all– When I saw this luscious dessert on the cover of the Bon Apetit magazine as I pulled it out of my mailbox, I knew this had to be on my “to-bake” list!  The crust was tender and crisp around the edges– and the berries sweet and juicy.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s the perfect summer dessert to pass around the table to friends.

BLACKBERRY ALMOND GALETTE

Crust:
1/2 cup almond meal*
1 cup plus 2 tab. flour
1 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2  cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into chunks
4 tab. ice water

Berry filling:
12 oz. blackberries, about 2 /12 cup
1 tab. cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
more sugar for sprinkling
2 tab. milk or cream

IMG_2082In a food processor pulse together the almond meal, flour, 1 tab. sugar, salt and butter until it is in coarse “pebbles” about the size of peas.  Then pour in the water and continue until it forms a ball.

note: You can do this by hand with a pastry blender, but it seems like the food processor makes a better dough for me.

Wrap the dough in saran wrap and store it in the fridge for an hour.  Or if you make it ahead it can sit up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Pour the berries in a large bowl.  Mix the cornstarch and sugar together in another bowl and then pour them over the berries, turning them gently to cover the berries all with sugar.

Roll out the crust to a 12″ circle on a counter that has been well sprinkled with flour–so it doesn’t stick.

Then carefully (really carefully!) fold the dough into quarters and lift it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Mound the berries in the middle of the crust and fold the outside 2″ of the crust up over the berries.

Brush the folded over crust with milk or cream and sprinkle it with a little more sugar.

Pop the whole thing into the over for 40-45 minutes until the crust is perfectly golden.

Warning:  It will smell delicious when you take it out of the oven!!  Best eaten warm with ice cream!!  so dig in!

Lemon Nut Shortbread Cookies

DSC02273Hello Cookie Lovers– When Larry and I were first married, we lived in a tiny student housing apartment.  Every Saturday I would grocery shop first things with a carful of other student wives.  We’d drive to the market, sharing meal ideas and making our lists. Then back home, I’d clean the small apartment, which took about an hour top to bottom.  And in the afternoon, bake cookies– a big batch, every week.

After 40 years, we are off our weekly cookie diet.  But now and then, friends coming in does call for a big plateful of cookies.  And here’s a cookie, not too sweet, with a sprinkle of sugar, the crunch of walnuts and lots of tart lemon flavor.  Cookie time!

LEMON NUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES

1  1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped fine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tab. grated lemon peel (1 large lemon)
1/2 cup butter
2 tab. lemon juice
a couple more spoons of sugar to top the cookies

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Stir together the flour, sugar, nuts and grated lemon peel.  Cut the butter into bits and beat it in with an electric mixer long with the lemon juice.  This will take several minutes.

When the dough turns to coarse crumbs, pat it into a ball and roll it out on a floured counter with a rolling pin.  Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or knife and place the cookies onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes until they are browned around the edges.  Makes about 2 dozen 2″ cookies.

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Blackberry Cheesecake

IMG_0970Hi friends– We have some fledgling blackberry vines tentatively pushing up in our side yard, thanks to our “farmer” neighbor Mr. Wicks.  (thanks Bob!)  But it will be a good while before we harvest any berries off of those things.

So when I saw some beautiful berries on sale at the grocer’s this week, I scooped them up!  And here’s where they landed –on a birthday cake for Betty’s birthday surprise party.  I’m happily sampling a leftover slice as I type this up.  Creamy, berry good.

IMG_0985BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tab. sugar
1/3 cup margarine (2/3 stick), melted

filling:
2 cups blackberries (2 6oz. containers)
24 oz. cream cheese (3 packages), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream

topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups blackberries (2 6 oz. containers)
1 tab. sugar
mint leaves (optional)

To make the crust, crush the graham crackers in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin (takes about 8 crackers).  Then in a springform pan, mix together the cracker crumbs, 2 tab. sugar and the melted butter.  Press it down into the bottom of the pan and set aside.

For the filling, first cut the blackberries in half (if they are nice large berries) and set aside.  Then with an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese and sugar.  When they are well blended, mix in the eggs and 1 1/2 cup sour cream.

Finally carefully fold in the berries with a wooden spoon.  Then spoon the whole mixture into the pan over the crust.

Put the cheese cake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes (it will still be pretty “jiggly”).

For the topping, mix the 1 cup sour cream, 2 tab. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla together and carefully spoon it over the hot cheesecake.  Pop it back into the 350 oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese cake is a little more set — It will still be a little jiggly, but will firm up as it cools. I like to let it cool a couple hours at room temperature and then pop it into the fridge for a couple hours to get cold.

Just before you are ready to serve it up, mix the blackberries with 1 tab. sugar.  Then mound them over the cooled cheese cake and decorate with mint or any garnish-y leaves you might have around.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

DSC00388Hello there– Fresh warm muffins–a little post Christmas breakfast with the kids, crumbly, fruity muffins, not too sweet and nice and hot from the oven.  I hope your breakfast includes muffins on your table these days too.

WHOLE WHEAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar + a little for topping
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1  1/2 up blueberries*

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 2 flours, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the oil, milk and egg.  Finally, gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the stiff batter into 10 to 12 muffin pans lined with paper liners– And sprinkle a bit of brown sugar onto the top  of each one.

Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes until they are browned and firm to the touch.  Scrumptious hot from the oven with a smear of sweet butter and a mug of tea.

*I used the small organic frozen berries from Trader Joe’s– don’t defrost them ahead.  Just stir them in frozen, so they don’t color the batter.  Fresh berries would be grand if it were summer!

Cream Cheese Pecan Bars

IMG_2584Hello there–  I’m saying right up front that pecans are my favorite kind of nut– and I am pretty nuts about all nuts in general.  (does that make sense?)  So take a pan full of pecans and layer them over a little cheese cake and a graham cracker crust and you’ve go a delectable winner.

Made these bars for friends last week, and I’m reluctant to admit that I kept nibbling away at the leftovers and ate most of them right out from under Larry’s nose.  They were THAT good.  (sorry Larry).  All that to say– I think you should try them.  I loved, loved them!

CREAM CHEESE PECAN BARS

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 4)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tab. butter, melted

Cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese*
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk (0r half & half)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. flour

Pecan layer:
1 cup chopped pecans (or a little handful more if you love nuts like I do!)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tab. butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt

IMG_2588Crush the graham cracker crumbs in a bag with a rolling pin or in your food processor.  Then in a bowl, stir them up with the sugar and 4 tab. melted butter.

Spread the moist crumbs over the bottom of a 7″x11″ pan (or a 9″ square) that has been sprayed with cooking spray to make a even thin layer.  Then put it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes while you whip up the cream cheese layer.

With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and sugar to a smooth paste.  Then beat in the eggs, milk, vanilla and flour.  Pour the mixture over the crust gently (so you don’t disturb the crust) when it comes out of the oven.

Pop it back into the oven for 25 minutes just until the cream cheese is set.  Then take it out and let the cream cheese layer cool for 20 minutes.

Next stir together the pecans, corn syrup, 2 tab. melted butter. brown sugar, 1 egg and salt.
Carefully spoon the pecan mixture over the cream cheese layer and send it back to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes until the pecan layer is firm.

Let it cool an hour or so and then put it in the fridge to set up so you can cut it into neat little squares. (they do taste better chilled right out of the fridge)

A little whipped cream would turn it from cookie bar to full fledged dessert!!

Almond Nectarine Crumble

IMG_1086Hello Summer Fruit Lovers– Isn’t that all of us about now?  There’s piles of peaches and plums and nectarines at the market and I’ve been scooping them up!

And a big bag of nectarines ended up in this dessert– quicker and easier than a pie– but with all the sweet baked fruit and that crunchy topping– and, like pie, a great excuse for that scoop of ice cream when it is still warm from the oven.  Ahh, summer…

ALMOND NECTARINE CRUMBLE

Nectarine layer:
2 pounds nectarines (about 4-6)
3 tab. cup white sugar
3 tab. cup brown sugar
a tiny pinch of  salt
1/4 cup flour

Pit and slice the nectarines.

In a large bowl, mix together the 2 sugars, salt and cornstarch.  Then add in the nectarine slices and stir to coat all the fruit with the dry mixture.  Spoon the fruit and any extra sugar mixture into a 10″ round/square baking dish.

IMG_1075Crumble layer:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sliced almonds

With a pastry blender (or food processor) mix the brown sugar, flour and salt.  Then cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Then spread the crumble mixture over the top of the nectarines in the baking dish.  Sprinkle the almonds over the top.

Set the baking dish onto a rimmed baking sheet in case the juices bubble over the edge of the pan– and set the whole thing in a 375 degree over for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crumble topping is browned and crispy.

Of course, this is best served warm with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

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Cherry Nut Muffins

IMG_0988Hi all–  A few years back we were dropping off our son for college in Michigan– drove along the lake (amazing!) and popped into a farm stand with tables of beautiful fruit–oh the cherries!  Well, it seems a lot of those cherries have made their way down our way this summer.  We’ve had cherries galore–glossy and dark, sweet and juicy.  Lots of cherry snacking and cherries in salads.  And these cherry nut muffins.

CHERRY NUT MUFFINS
1  1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 full cup cherries, pitted & cut in half
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped*
2 tab. sugar

Stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then blend in the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.  And last, fold in the cherries and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into a 12 muffin pan– lined with paper liners.  Sprinkle the 2 tab. of sugar lightly over the tops.

Pop the muffins into a 350 degree oven and bake them for 20 to 22 minutes until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Delicious warm– no need for jam with all those sweet cherries!

*Pecans or hazelnuts would work well too– and I always cheat and add extra nuts, love all the nutty crunch.

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Blueberry Yogurt Cake

IMG_0815Hello from here–  Enjoying a quieter weekend here– Got up this morning on a sunny Saturday and popped this in the oven  for our dessert tonight.  And there’s some leftover on the plate in the kitchen that would be warm and toasty around the edges heated up for breakfast tomorrow.  (kind of blueberry pancakes in cake form– is that enough justification?)

BLUEBERRY YOGURT CAKE
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tab. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries*

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Stir together the four, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then mix in the eggs, yogurt and oil.  Finally fold in the blueberries.

Spray a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray and scrape the batter into it.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40  minutes,  until it’s golden and firm to the touch.

Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes and then turn it out from the pan onto a pretty plate.

I would totally eat this for breakfast– but served with whipped cream and more berries it would make a perfect summer  dessert.

*You can use frozen berries, but do not defrost them before you stir them into the batter, or they will discolor the cake.  And the cooking time will be a few minutes longer.

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Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins

IMG_9689Hello friends–I’m admitting I have a minor addiction.  When I pass through the market and blueberries are on sale (again!) I can’t pass by without dropping a box in my cart.  I know that in a few weeks the price will jump up to it’s winter peak and stay there until next summer.  So I’m getting my fill now.  Blueberry cobbler, blueberries in salads–and what’s better than a blueberry muffin?!  Loving those blueberries.

BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK OATMEAL MUFFINS
1 cup oatmeal*
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil**
6 oz. carton of blueberries

Stir together the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the buttermilk, egg and oil.  And lastly, fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners.  And pop them into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Eat at least one right out of the oven when they are their hot, tender best!

*I used whole old fashioned oats, but quick (1 minute) oats are great too.
*The recipe I worked from called for melted butter, but I substituted canola oil and it worked just fine.  But you can butter it up if you like!!

Peach & Blackberry Clafoutis

IMG_0049Hello all–  Peaches.  They are so so sweet and juicy right now and I picked up 3 juicy ample ones at the market.  So Jobay (my 2 1/2 year old assistant in the kitchen) and I mixed up this fruity dessert for after dinner tonight.

I loved all the sweet fruit and warm custard– but the 3 grand-girls were most interested in how to whip cream.  “How do you know how to do that Grandma Rhonda?”  “How does it turn “hard” into whipped cream?”  “Can I hold the mix we too so I can make whipped cream?”…

PEACH & BLACKBERRY CLAFOUTIS
1 1/2 pound yellow peaches
6 oz. blackberries (a little more than a cup)
1 tab. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cream*
powdered sugar to dust the top

Slice the peaches (no need to peel them) into a bowl.  Add the blackberries and stir in the 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Then in another bowl, with an electric mixer beat together the vanilla, eggs, milk, flour, salt, sugar and cream.

Transfer the fruit into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Then carefully pour the cream mixture over the top.

Pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until the custard is set.  Let it sit at least 5 minutes and then dust with powdered sugar through a sieve.   Spoon it out into bowls and enjoy!

If you have whipping cream left in your carton– whip it up to serve along with the clafoutis–and top with a couple berries.

–and the secret ingredient in whipped cream is to add 1 tsp. of vanilla instant pudding dry mix.  It stabilizes the cream to stay stiff and beautiful until it’s time to serve it up.

IMG_0030P.S.– did you spot the photographer in the bowl of the spoon?

Brownie Peanut Butter Cheesebake Bars

IMG_9913Hey there– This is a “What shall I take along to the bar-b-que potluck?” kind of recipe– a sweet chocolatey square at the end of a savory meal.  There’s the chewy brownie layer on bottom, creamy cheesy peanut butter in the middle and rich chocolate ganache to top it off.  It’s almost a Reese’s peanut butter cup in a baking pan.  Hope you try it!!

BROWNIE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE BARS

Brownie layer:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour

Peanut butter layer:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter**
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Ganache:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tab. butter
2 tab. corn syrup (optional)***
1  1/3 cup chocolate chips (8 oz.)

To make the brownie layer, melt the butter in the microwave and mix in just the cocoa to form a pretty chocolate paste.  The stir in the sugar and vanilla.  Whisk in the eggs and finally thoroughly stir in the flour.

Scrape the brownie batter into a 9″ (or 7’x11″) baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Set it aside for now.

For the peanut butter layer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter with an electric mixer.  Then beat in the sugar, egg and vanilla.

Drop the mixture by small spoonfuls over the brownie batter in the pan.  And with a knife, oh so carefully, spread the peanut butter mixture over the brownies, careful not to mix the two layers. (This is the only tricky part!)

Pop that all into the oven a 350 degrees for 30 to 35  minutes–until the brownies are cooked through.  Poke the tip of a small knife in to see if you pull out small crumbs.

When it’s cooled, bring the cream, butter and corn syrup to a low simmer in a pan on the stove top.  Remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until they are all melted.  Then beat it al with a wooden spoon for 3 or 4 minutes.

Spread the chocolate ganache over the brownies and set it into the fridge for an hour or so until the topping sets up firm and then cut into delicious squares!

*We love the Hershey’s dark unsweetened baking cocoa.
** the recipe I worked from asked for creamy peanut butter– but I used super chunky–love all those little peanut bits!
*** I often leave out the corn syrup– but it does give the ganache that pretty shine.

Zucchini Yogurt Muffins

IMG_9807Hello Morning Muffin Eaters–  It’s summer and I still have that baking itch– So let’s crank up the stove early, before it gets hotter around here.  Morning muffins.  That should do it.  These friendly little muffins are a good start to a summer morning.  Enjoy!

ZUCCHINI YOGURT MUFFINS
2 small zucchini
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped*

Grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater– should make about 2 cups.

Stir together the flour sugar,baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the eggs, oil, yogurt and milk.  Finally fold in the zucchini and nuts.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with paper liners** and pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Lovely warm with butter and honey– or leftovers toasted crisp in the toaster the next day.

*1/2 cup nuts is fine– I like more.  It just depends on how “nutty” you are.
** If you live in socal, Sprouts sells the best muffin paper liners.  They are a nice neutral brown and like waxed paper, so they never stick to your baked goods.

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Cherry Pecan Scones

IMG_9833Hello all– My dear buddy Debbie has a daughter getting married soon.  So last Friday we spent the morning making jars of blackberry jam to give all the friends who come celebrate together at the wedding.  The kitchen was awash in crushed berries and and sterilizing jars…  After a bit, we got into the rhythm of bubbling up that jam and filling those jars and we had a table full by the end of the morning.

So when I showed up at her door that morning for the jam-fest, I thought it was important to have a plate of scones to pair with a sampling of that luscious jam!  A little taste test…

CHERRY PECAN SCONES
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs*
2/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted & quartered
1/2 cup pecan, chopped fine

IMG_9829In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour sugar, baking powder and salt.

Then with a pastry blender cut in the butter (if the butter is cold from the fridge, microwave it just a few seconds to soften a bit).

Stir in the eggs and milk.  And finally fold in the cherries and pecans.

Cut the dough in half.  Then drop half the dough on to a well floured counter.  Shape it into a circle and cut into 6 pie shaped scones.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Put them at least 1 inch apart (they do spread!) on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  Until they are golden and firm to the touch.

Serve them hot with butter or whipped cream–and pots of your best jam.  Perfect.

* I know– it’s weird to put eggs in scones!  But I got this recipe (with slight variations) from the Empress Hotel in British Columbia– famous for their scones. Trust me.

Kahlua Chocolate Cake

IMG_9928Well friends– We had not one but two 4th of July bar-b-ques– all that festive food, fun and friends and a perfect view of the fireworks sitting in Betty’s backyard to boot!  It was good old potluck on the table– Sue’s luscious spinach & pineapple salad, Jan’s famous potato salad…  and my contribution was this chocolate cake.

Got the recipe from a mom of students at my school.  And you’ve never met a moister, smoother chocolate cake.  I do have to say it is luscious all on it’s own, but a side scoop of ice cream makes it just about perfect.  (Is this too much cake-bragging?  I’m just trying to talk you into trying it.  It’s that good!)

KAHLUA CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 chocolate cake mix (with pudding in the mix)
2 cups sour cream
3 oz. box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Kahlua
6 oz. chocolate chips (1 cup)
powdered sugar for dusting the cake

IMG_9951Mix the cake mix, sour cream, instant pudding mix, oil and Kahlua with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan (or tube pan) sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Cool the cake for 30 minutes and then turn the pan upside down on plate and carefully remove the cake.

When the cake is complete cooled– sprinkle with powdered sugar through a sieve.

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And I couldn’t resist adding a pic of our grand-girls all kitted out for 4th of July– looking like all American kids–in their cute little Chinese sort of way…

Chocolate Flan Cake

IMG_9793Hi Baking Buddies– This is a cake I saw scroll by on someone’s blog and thought, “that would be fun to try!”  And just a week or so later, one of the sweet baking mom’s from school brought in a huge version of this very cake to treat the staff–  It was crazy delicious!

So I tracked down the recipe and thought, “Hmmm, this looks a little complicated.”  But I read a long list of reviews of people who had made this cake and they literally all said it came out perfectly.  So I gave it a try and they were right!

It’s MAGIC the way the flan layer sinks down and the cake layer rises up to the top while the cake is baking and it al comes out so tender and moist!  Have I already gone on too too long about this cake?  Well, I do wish you’d try it–it’s so good!

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CHOCOLATE FLAN CAKE
1 dark chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup caramel sauce*
4 oz. cream cheese
12 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
14 oz. can evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Spray a 15 cup bundt pan or a deep 9″x13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  The pour in the caramel sauce and tip the pan/dish to coat the bottom with caramel.

Make the chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the box (mine used 1/2 cup oil, eggs and 1 cup of water).  Pour the batter evenly over the caramel.

Use a blender** to combine the cream cheese, condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla.  Pour the mixture slowly and evenly over the cake layer in the pan, careful not to mix the two layers.

Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan, spray side down, tightly with the foil.  Put your baking dish (or bundt pan) into a roasting pan*** and pour water into the roasting pan to surround your baking dish up about 2 inches.

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 1 3/4  to 2 hours! (this is when the magic happens!)  Test for doneness, if your cake layer on top has crumbs when poked with a toothpick.

Take it out of the oven to rest for 15 minutes and then remove the foil, top the baking dish with a plate and invert it to fall from the pan onto the plate.  Let it cool one hour and then set it in the fridge for bout 4 hours (or over night).

It’s big enough to share with LOTS of friends!  I hope you all love, love it!

*I used Hershey’s caramel sauce– any kind will do or you can your own!
** You do need to use a blender.  I thought the mixer would do, but there were too many cream cheese lumps– I used my trusty rusty stick blender and it worked just fine.
*** I didn’t use an official roasted pan, just a bigger baking dish where I could nestle my 9″x13″ pan inside.

Cherry Cake

IMG_9566Hello everyone– I’m usually a stack it tall layer cake kind of baker.  But when summer comes around and all those berries and cherries are just waiting at the market, a simple fruity cake is perfect-  sweet but not too heavy.  And, of course, accompanied by ice cream, the official summer food.

CHERRY CAKE
3 cups cherries, pitted & cut in half (a little more than a pound)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. amaretto
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
sugar to sprinkle on top

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Here’s my trusty rusty olive pitter, a friend gave me back when we lived in Spain– works like a cherry pitter who can get around here…  (or just use a knife).

Prepare the cherries by pitting them and cutting them in half.

In a mixing bowl stir up the sugar, oil, vanilla, amaretto and egg.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and milk.  Finally fold in the cherries.

Spoon the batter into a tart pan (or a 9″ cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the top liberally with white sugar.

Pop it into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on which type of pan you use)– and cook until it’s golden on top and firm to the touch.

It’s lovely warm for breakfast or dessert– and, of course, best with whipped cream or ice cream on the plate!

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Blackberry Cornbread Muffins

IMG_9301Hello Baking Buddies–  I’ll tell you, I’m having more fun cooking with the grand-girls staying here!  When I launch into dinner making, usually one of them will wander through the kitchen and pull up a chair to help.

So last week, I enlisted Charlotte to collect a few blackberries from the side yard and to help stir up these blackberry corn muffins to go along with a Taco-ish salad.  We had a grand time mixing and talking…

IMG_9271BLACKBERRY CORNBREAD MUFFINS
1  1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4  tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar*
1 egg
3 tab. oil
1 cup milk
1  1/2 cup blackberries**

 

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then mix in the egg, oil and milk.

I cut the blackberries in half because they were a little large– you can do that or leave them whole.  Carefully fold them into the cornbread batter, so they don’t stain the batter.

Spoon the mixture into 12 muffins papers set in muffin tine.

Bake them up at 250 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until they just start to brown and are firm to the touch.

Serve them up warm with lots of butter*** and honey or blackberry jam…

*Larry likes less sugar in his cornbread. I like more.  Either measurement 1/4 or 1/2 works just fine.
**You can use any berries in place of blackberries–and 1 1/2 cups can be more or less…
***And did you read the cover story in the Time magazine this week– “Eat Butter!”  It looks like butter isn’t quite at bad for us as I’ve been thinking all these years. That makes my butter loving self happy!

Lemonade Cake

IMG_9513Hello Cake Eaters– That should include most everyone!  We are big on cake around here.  So this week I set out for dinner with my Monday night buddies, this lemonade cake in hand.  It was a sweet evening together.  We sat out on Sally’s patio for a long, leisurely, laugh-filled dinner and then circled around to each share a summer day memory  and to pray for each other.  I was heart-warmed. Do love those gals…

So here it is.  Lemonade Cake.  Good for summer evenings with dear friends…

IMG_9547LEMONADE CAKE

Cake:
1  1/3 cup sugar
1/2  cup butter (room temperature)*
grated rind from one lemon
1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/4 cups buttermilk**

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)*
8 oz. cream cheese
grated rind of one lemon
1 tab. lemon juice (no more!!)
4 cups powdered sugar (just a bit more than a 1 pound box)

With an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter.  Then mix in the lemon rind, lemonade concentrate, vanilla and eggs.  Finally beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and buttermilk.

Spoon the batter into two  9″ cake pans (or 1 9″x13″ land) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop them into the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Take them out when they just start to turn golden and are firm to the touch.

Let them cool completely before you frost them.

For the frosting, use the electric mixer to beat together the butter and cream cheese.  Then beat in the lemon rind and juice.  Finally leave the mixer on low to beat in the powdered sugar, increasing the speed as it is incorporated, until it’s all bended together.

Frost up that cake and trim it with a sunny slice of lemon and a little mint.

*If you are using butter straight from the fridge, microwave it a

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