Friday, January 29, 2010

Pecan Pie Muffins

A few interesting facts about pecans:
1) Did you know that a pecan tree can produce for 300 years?
2)The US produces 80% of the worlds pecan crops. Georgia is the leading state in pecan crops.
3) And most interesting in light of the upcoming Valentine's Day (Momma you can skip ahead to the recipe at this point:)
"Pecans could improve your love life? If the body does not get enough zinc, it may have difficulty producing testosterone – a key hormone in initiating sexual desire in both men and women. Pecans provide nearly 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for zinc. So, pass on the oysters and reach for a handful of pecans" (facts courtesy of National Pecan Shellers Association) I bet that's why in all those stereo-typical images of the south you see the southern belles residing on pecan plantations swooning at the drop of a hat:) Too much zinc from all those pecans! LOL! Who knew!

Pecans truly are considered a southern staple. From a young age, we are taught to run around the yard picking up pecans. Some have little gadgets with multiple wires that you can use to gather, but most of us just had to run around with a bag of some sort.  Though I always considered it a game, I now know the oldtimers were just using us! Oh well, the desserts from our labor were worth every minute.

Today's recipe is one to start your day off right. You can feel good about this recipe due to the fact that we are supporting an American industry. Plus, we can consider this healthy due to the zinc and protein from the pecans.  I'm sure it cancels out all the fat and sugar....right? Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Solo Foods

2 c buttermilk baking mix (bisquick or similar)
1/2 c white sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c chopped pecans
2 eggs
5 TBSP oil (vegetable or corn)
2/3 c buttermilk
1 can Solo Pecan filling (you can get this in the canned fruit aisle or the baking isle)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 1-12 cup muffin pan and 1-6 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir together baking mix, sugars and pecans. Set aside.
 In another bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing only until combined. Pour into cupcake liners Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (with only small crumbs). Let cool in pans for 1 minute before transfering to wire racks. Note: These muffins seem to improve with age. They are not as good while still hot. After cooling, they taste like a completely different muffin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reminiscing...And Old Fashion Chocolate Pound Cake

When we were kids, didn't it seem like it would be an eternity until we reached adulthood? Of course, I don't even know if I considered what a grown up really did. I just wanted to be able to go where I wanted and do what I wanted without having to be back home at 10:00 pm  (I know, I had strict parents. Thank goodness:) And, though I still do not feel like an adult, apparently at some point adulthood stumbled upon me. Well, we think it did. My husband atleast agrees that I do not act like a little frat boy anymore. Perhaps, it happened when I had children? No matter, when finally considered an adult and able to go and do what I wanted, well , isn't it a funny thing that I didn't care to do all those things I "thought" I wanted to do. LOL! I guess we're just too tired for all that "fun" once we get old:)

Today's recipe is a another family recipe. This was one of my great aunt Bessie's recipe. My mother insists that my Aunt Bess was one of the finest cooks that has ever existed. Aunt Bess lived next door to one of my other aunts (Aunt Ruby). When I'd go stay over there, we always "stayed" with Aunt Ruby, but we would go visit with Aunt Bessie. I guess because Aunt Ruby didn't ever have children and she would let us do anything we wanted:) When the day would start to heat up, we would walk across the yard to Aunt Bess's  house. There was always something cooking. I can remember sitting outside and playing with an old timey egg beater in the pea- graveled area in front of her back porch. I would have never thought of using an old egg beater to play with the gravel, but it was great fun. Those ladies make up memories that I will carry with me for a lifetime. Thank goodness I am able to look back at fond memories of innocence when I wanted nothing more than to be an adult.  To think what I'd give now for a few moments with an old egg beater in a gravel driveway.

Now that I am done longing for my childhood... the recipe. This is a very mild chocolate pound cake. Old fashioned chocolate pound cakes did not use a lot of melted chocolate (which makes a dark chocolate cake). Most likely because the cocoa was much less expensive. The cocoa gives a nice light chocolate flavor and a beautiful color. Almost the color of creamed coffee. Make this cake today and you have permission to reminisce about your childhood as well. Enjoy!

Aunt Bessie's Old Fashioned Chocolate Pound Cake
2 sticks butter or oleo
½ cup shortening
3 cups flour (all purpose)
⅓ cup cocoa
3 cups sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
5 eggs
1¼ cup sweet milk
1 TBSP vanilla

Cream shortening, butter(or oleo) and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Sift together flour with cocoa, salt and baking powder. Add a bit of flour, alternating with milk until all milk and flour are added. Add vanilla. Bake in a tube pan. 325 degrees for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rainbow Cupcakes

On the way home from preschool the other day, I informed Princess RunWild that we would be having her "Mock Birthday" at school on Monday since her birthday falls during the summer months. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "So... Princess RunWild, what kind of cupcakes do you want at your  mock-birthday at school on Monday?"
Princess RunWild: "I want REAL cupcakes" (I'm new at the whole preschool thing, but do some of the moms send fake cupcakes on occassion? Why would she even think I would send faux cupcakes...I just let this one go.)
Me: "Oh... well.... ok. I can make real cupcakes. What do you want them to look like?"
Princess RunWild: "I want them to be rainbow cupcakes"
Me: (Gloating, because I think she is referring to the tie dyed cake that I made a few months ago) "Oh, great, so you want the tie-dyed cupcakes with white icing?"
Princess RunWild: "No, I want white cake with rainbow frosting"

Of course that's what she wanted. I had never made rainbow frosting. She couldn't choose the tie dyed cake with white icing, because I had already figured that one out. Shamefully, I even offered to buy cupcakes today. She didn't fall for that one. She wanted ME to make them. So I got a game plan in mind and set to work. 
The recipe for these cupcakes remind me of childhood birthdays everytime I make them. As a child, it was a super treat to get a cake from a locally owned bakery, named Jerry's Bakery. They were known for their almond flavored frosting. No other local bakery ever made their cakes flavored exclusively with almond extract. This was their signature flavor. Sure, you could request almond flavoring at other bakeries, but they barely added any flavoring.  When Jerry's eventually closed, I decided I was going to have to come up with a similar recipe so that I could still get my almond flavored fix. This was the recipe I concocted after tinkering with a few different recipes and it is very close to Jerry's.  It is my standard staple recipe for cakes and cupcakes. I've tried others, but I always come back to this one. In case there are any mothers out there that have a request for rainbow icing,  here is what I did:
Fit a piping bag with a decorating tip (I think I used a 2C ). Place the tip end of the bag into a tall glass. Fold the top of the bag over the glass so you  have access to the inside of the bag. You will take a wooden skewer and dip it into gel food coloring. Make a stripe up the side of the inside of the piping bag (from tip to around 1/2 way up the bag. You can make as many colored stripes in the bag as you like.  It will look something like this:

This was actually the 2nd fill, so my bag wasn't nice and neat anymore, but you get the idea. Fill bag 2/3 full with icing (recipe following). Begin piping. Color will mix with the frosting as it flows through the bag. Voila! Rainbow Frosting! The first few will look like this:

I think they look like Rastafarian cupcakes, but of course this was Princess RunWild's favorite. The color will soften a bit as you continue to pipe and look like this:

Towards the end, they will be very muted, like this:

So to sum it up,
Price to make cupcakes: About 3 bucks.
Time to figure out how to make rainbow icing: Longer than I'm willing to admit :)
This smile as payment for it all:


Hope you love them as much as Princess RunWild.

Almond Sour Cream Cupcakes

1 (18 ounce) box white cake mix

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup warm water
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites (I have also made this with 4 whole eggs, with great results)

1.Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.
2.Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
3.Pour into lined muffin pans, filling each cup a little over half full.
4.Lightly tap cake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top.
5.Bake in preheated 325° F oven for about 20 minutes or until cupcakes tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting.

White Almond Frosting

8 cups confectioners' sugar
2 cup shortening
2 tablespoons milk
2 TBSP clear vanilla extract
2 TBSP pure almond extract
white corn syrup

1.In a large bowl, combine sugar, shortening, water, almond and vanilla. Beat on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed.
2.Note: If you're not using this for decorating, but just for icing the cake, thin the icing by adding 3-6 tbs. of corn syrup,  to the icing. It won't look like Icing at first, but keep the mixer going for fifteen minutes, and then you're done!
Note: Yes, you really do need to beat it that long. Beating in air is what makes the icing not have such a "greasy" after taste. Decorators call it "beating out the grease." This works best in a stand mixer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Not Dulce De Leche Cookies

This post was suppose to be about Dulce De Leche Cookies. I have read about them and thought about them and dreamed about them. Dulce De Leche is a very, very, creamy caramel. It is basically made by boiling a can of condensed milk until it turns into a rich caramel goo.You can find directions here. Some say there are risks of explosion in boiling the can. So, you can buy this premade in a jar or can in the hispanic/mexican section of the grocery store if you don't want to take the risk . I prefer not to scrape milky substances from my kitchen ceiling, so I opted for the latter.
 I wanted to love it..... I wanted to ask it where it had been my entire life. But, alas, my culinary tastes must not be refined enough for dulce de leche. I just thought it was blah!
The recipe for the cookie that the dulce de leche was suppose to spread between was very nice. Subtle, buttery and flakey. It just seemed to melt away in your mouth like shortbread.
After tasting the dulce de leche over and over again, trying to convince myself that I liked it, I finally called on an old friend... Meet Mr. Pillsbury:

Mr. Pillsbury makes a decent icing when you are just too tired to whip up your own. I'm not a huge fan of canned icing as a rule, but I had this in my pantry and it was looking better than the brown tar that I was facing in the other can. I 'm sure there are some great chefs and food bloggers that have just collapsed due to the fact that I have Americanized this recipe in such a ridiculous manner. Well, I didn't want to waste those precious butter cookies that Princess Run Wild and I made earlier!
  It really was good. The sugar coma was the worst part. No.... no. It was the children that bounced off the wall from the sugar overload that was the worst. The cookies themselves were quite a treat! And why is it that adults go into sugar comas but children go into sugar overload hyperactive mode? Something just doesn't seem right about that!
As an added bonus, to get you into the upcoming Valentine's Day mood, I  made them into sweet little heart cutout cookies with princess pink glitter sprinkles*. You know what they say about us southern women: "glitter runs through our veins." Enjoy!

*Please make sure to only indulge in EDIBLE glitter. There is a difference.

Not Dulce De Leche Cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened (if you use salted butter, omit 1/2 tsp)
1 can frosting, premade, room temperature or dulce de leche(if you  must)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter. Pulse until dough comes together into a ball. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour so that you can shape the soft dough into a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter cut out the cookies and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bring the dough scraps together and gently press into a ball. Flour your work surface, re-roll 1/8-inch thick and cut out more rounds.
Bake the cookies until they are golden and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about 25 minutes.
 Spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of  frosting or dulce de leche (if you must) on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another cookie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Sometimes I forget what life is all about. I get frustrated because something broke or didn't bake up as perfectly as I would have hoped. And then I see something like this sitting in my kitchen:

Then I remember the important things in life. My husband and I both agree that our girls are what life is all about. Its so nice to have a "serious adult day" broken up by sillyness, laughter, and the occassional colander seat/bowl head. Though, I have to say she did not think it was all that funny when she realized she couldn't get her little hiney out of the colander. She certainly didn't for one minute like the fact that I thought it was hilarious!

Todays recipe is a fun, light-hearted recipe. I think we need more fun and light-heartedness in the world! My silly little princesses and my sweet husband just loved this dessert. I love this recipe too. Let me tell you why. I love this recipe for its ease and its class. I love how the bold cherries stand out against the white cheesecake (And scream "Roll Tide". Oh, wait.... I'm sorry, I'm suppose to be converted. They don't say that at all :)
I love that it could be served as a dessert at a casual hotdog dinner or a fancy beef wellington dinner. And last, but not least. I love that it bakes in little cupcake liners and I do not have to clean the cheesecake off the pan after it finishes baking. Yes.. that's probably my favorite part:)  Enjoy!

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
Recipe courtesty of Paula Deen

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
12 vanilla wafers
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling or blueberry pie filling (or whatever else suits your fancy)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
1)Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup (12 total) of muffin pan. (I ended up with several more)
2)Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well.
  Add eggs, one at   a time, beating well after each.
3)Place a vanilla wafer FLAT side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers   filling each to about 1/4 inch from top of paper.
4)Bake for 20 minutes.
5)Allow tarts to cool completely before filling. When you remove the tarts from the oven, they will be puffed up, but as they cool, the center will sink, creating the perfect well to fill with a couple of spoonfuls of your favorite filling.
6)Chill thoroughly before serving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Vanilla...There's something to be said about vanilla. Some would say vanilla is dull, yet predictable. Or even worse... plain. That's just nonsense. Vanilla is rich and flavorful. It is warm and inviting and  lingers a sultry note in the kitchen. Interestingly enough, vanilla beans are cultivated from a vanilla orchid. Well, orchids are just about as feminine as it gets! And I certainly would not call an orchid plain. Exotic maybe, but not plain!
 Did you know that studies indicate that the number one scent men are attracted to is vanilla?...Cinnamon was number two. Now.. I'm not sure who handled this study, but ladies, it sounds like we need to be rolling around in cinnamon rolls before we leave the house :)

As promised, I have the Vanilla Magnolia Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream today. As mentioned yesterday, I added vanilla beans to this these cupcakes. In my opinion, at $4-$6 per vanilla bean, it was a waste to add it to the cake. I just did not feel that it added anything to the flavor, nor the texture. Perhaps I did not add enough vanilla bean or the texture of the cake just overpowered the bean? Now, the vanilla icing that I added it to in yesterday's post, that was a different story. It was worth every penny for the flavor it added there. In the future, for the cake I will just use a good-quality pure vanilla extract.

As tantalizing as vanilla is for the senses, you don't even want to get me started on chocolate! I  must say I really enjoyed the Magnolia Chocolate Buttercream recipe. I rarely make chocolate icing, but I do think this icing was worth the labor involved. Overall, I think I am most impressed with the buttercream icing recipes from Magnolia Bakery. Then again, isn't the icing the best part anyways!?! Enjoy!

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream

1 C unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 C self rising flour
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2.Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
3.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
4.Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6.Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition
7.Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4's full..
8.Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 22 minutes.
9.Remove cupcakes from pans and cool COMPLETELY on a wire rack before icing with butter cream frosting

Magnolia's Chocolate Buttercream

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very soft
2 tablespoons milk
9oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar (icing sugar)
*NOTE: To melt the chocolate microwave in 20 sec. intervals. Stir after each interval. Continue until melted.
1.In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter using an electric mixer on MEDIUM speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy.
2.Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth.
3.Add the melted chocolate and beat well for 2 minutes.
4.Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.
5.Gradually add in the sugar and beat on LOW speed until creamy and of desired consistency.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Magnolia Cupcakes...and a Tea Party!

Here at the Sinful Southern Sweets household, we have the honor of raising little princesses. Meet my princesses:
This is my oldest little princess.

 Her name is Princess Run-Wild. My beautiful little silly princess. And my official "spatula/beater/spoon licker." Princess Run-Wild truly knows how to be a princess. She is proper and dramatic. And loves all things pink and sparkly!

And this is my youngest princess.

Her name is Princess Run-Wilder. I know, I know..she looks real sweet with that collander on her head. But she is trouble, I tell ya. And she is part boy, I think. She is as rough as a corncob. I do believe she will be the "alpha-princess" She just seems like she takes control of everything. Well, perhaps she just screams to get control. Still, effective all the same. And of course, she too is a beautiful little silly princess.

Anyways, with princesses you will also have tea parties. Excuse me, actually they are called "Tee Potties" here. The "Tee Pottie" was the perfect excuse to make some princess cupcakes! We usually have cookies, but really every event is worth attending if there is cake present. Oh, you know you've only gone to birthday parties for the cake! Admit it! Ok, maybe that's only me.....I have cake issues :)

So, I have been eyeing this recipe for the Magnolia Bakery's Cupcakes for quite some time. Typically, I do not make from-scratch cupcakes. The outcome is just usually not as soft and moist as a cake mix. What can I say, Betty  has got the whole cake thing down to a science! Except for the icing, I do make my own icing. And generally, I doctor up the cake mixes to make them a little different. But, this recipe from the Magnolia Bakery,  has been calling to me. See.. the Magnolia Bakery is suppose to be this famous bakery in NYC. Supposedly, people wait for 20+minutes to get cupcakes there everyday. They have been noted on Saturday Night Live and Sex in the City. Besides, I do love bakery type cupcakes. Ok, I admit, I love all cupcakes.  Finally, I broke down yesterday and made these great cupcakes. Hey, we had to have princess fare for the party! I have to admit, I was quite impressed with this recipe. They were soft. I believe some food critics would describe it as having a "nice crumb" whatever that means:) I didn't see any crumbs left! I did add a little extra something to the vanilla icing and vanilla cake.  I added real vanilla beans.  The outcome...the flavor was like homemade vanilla ice cream. Enough said...

I actually tried 2 Magnolia Bakery flavors. I made chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream (to be posted tomorrow).  My little princesses approved of both flavors equally. Enjoy!

Magnolia's Chocolate Cupcake & Butter Cream Frosting
Recipe courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

2 C all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 C unsalted butter, softened (225gm)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

170gms (6oz) unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 C buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (or 180 Celsius).

2.To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for 5-10 minutes (stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces remain, remove from heat and cool for 5-15 minutes or until lukewarm).

3.Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

4.In a bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

5.In a big mixing bowl, cream the butter, using an electric mixer on MEDIUM speed, until smooth.

6.Add the sugars and beat for about 3 minutes or until fluffy.
7.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition

8.Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated.

9.Add the dry ingredients, in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla.

10.With each addition, beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix.

11.Scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

12.Carefully spoon batter in cupcake liners; fill 3/4 full.

13.Bake in 350F or 180C degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until pick/skewer comes out clean.

14.Cool in tins for 15 minutes before removing, then cool completely on a wire rack.

15.Ice when COMPLETELY cool otherwise frosting will melt
Vanilla Bean Butter Cream Frosting

1 C unsalted butter, very soft (225gm)

8 C confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)

1/2 C milk

2 tsp vanilla plus 1/2 vanilla bean scraped*
1.Place the butter (very soft) in a large mixing bowl

2.Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. *To scrape the vanilla bean: Cut down the center of the bean lengthwise and run the tip of the knife along the inside of the bean to remove the paste/seeds.Do not discard vanilla bean pod. You can add it to a cup of sugar and make vanilla-infused sugar (great in recipes, coffee, etc...)

3.Beat until smooth and creamy

4.Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may not need all of the sugar)

5.For colored icing add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly

6.Use and store icing at room temperature, as icing will set if chilled

7.You can store in an airtight container for up to 3 days
And a few more tea party pics:

LOL! I do believe Princess-Run Wilder may have had a spot of rum with her tea

My two perfect princesses!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Granny's Sour Cream Pound Cake

I remember from about the time I was a teenager on up until I got married, every time I went by my Granny's house, she almost always had a cake made. Most of time they were pound cakes. Man....could that lady make a pound cake. I was always a fat kid, so most of the time I was on one diet or another and would always turn down the offer of a slice of these dense concoctions. Now I wish I had appeased her and given her the pleasure of loving with food. I understand what she was trying to do now, because I love others with food too. I bake to show I care. (That should be on a Hallmark card....or maybe it already is :)

I'm starting to think my Granny was playing a little joke on whoever decided to take possession of the recipe cards. Lots of her recipe cards are missing vital information. This recipe was one of them. And when I say vital, I mean like baking temperature and time. There will be a full list of ingredients. Full set of directions. You will get the recipe ready to go into the oven. And  then....nada. The recipe stops. I told  my mother I was going to sit down and talk to her about that when I met her at the Pearly Gates. But..if I know the female minds of my family..she probably had a much better reason. If I had to guess she probably did it in case something ever happened to her and my Grandaddy decided to re-marry. Well, you see where this is going. New wife tries to cook recipes from Granny's files, but burns them all because she has no cooking temp and time. New wife will never be a cook like "Ms. Evelyn"LOL!

This Sour Cream Pound Cake was a recipe my mother had requested when I started looking through the family recipes. The crust is flaky and the interior is dense and moist. Seriously, how could this not be good?!? It has 3 sticks of butter, 6 eggs, and a small barrel of sugar. Oh, I'm just kidding, it only has half a barrel of sugar :) Enjoy!

Granny's Sour Cream Pound Cake
1½ cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour (measured after sifting)
½ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp lemon extract
Cream butter until it looks like whipped cream. Slowly dribble sugar a TBSP at a time while beating. Add eggs beating one at a time. Sift flour, soda and salt 3 times. Add flour mixture ½ cup at a time to the butter. Add the sour cream, vanilla, almond and lemon. Do not overmix. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan or tube cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes*.

*Though this was not included in Granny's recipe, I will oblige you with the full directions including baking temperature and time:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Southern Style Banana Pudding

I have a healthy recipe for you today. has fruit in it. Doesn't that count for something?!?! And milk!
Yes, indeed, pure health food.

This is a family recipe. About 5 years ago, when my grandmother died, I offered to take all the family recipes and type them up so everyone in my family could have a copy. Well, this was much more of a task than I had anticipated. I had all my grandmother's recipes and one of my great aunt's collections. These women loved to cook as much as myself. Their recipes were like gold to me. I mean, we're talking hundreds of handwritten recipes. Lots of the recipes were collected from other women in the family. One was even handwritten by my great grandmother on the most fragile tea-colored paper. I could just invision as I went through all these recipes how they were obtained. A lifetime of get-togethers with fabulous food. Many of the recipes between my Aunt Ruby's recipes and my Granny's recipes were duplicates. So, I knew they must have been at the same get-togethers a lot. I can almost see them calling one another the next day and talking about how wonderful something tasted and how they must call and request that particular recipe. Many of the recipes brought back warm memories of these women that I cherished because I can remember them bringing some of the dishes to different holiday gatherings.

So, its been 5 years. To make a long story short, I am just getting started on this little recipe collection that I was suppose to be working on. What can I just gets in the way sometimes. It was my New Year's Resolution this year to get this family cookbook finished! The recipe I have today was one of my Aunt Ruby's (my grandmothers sister). It is a classic homemade banana pudding. Very similar to any baked banana pudding recipe you would find on a box of vanilla wafers. There is just something so comforting about a homemade banana pudding. So, go make this and snuggle up beside the fire and take a moment to remember some fond memories of the individuals that make up your family tree. Enjoy!

Aunt Ruby's Banana Pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar, separated

4 eggs (1 whole, 3 separated)
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups sweet milk*
4-5 bananas, overripe
dash salt
vanilla wafers
vanilla flavoring

1. Mix ½ cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Blend in 3 egg yolks, whole egg and milk. Make sure to save the egg whites for the meringue. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

2. Cover bottom of baking dish with vanilla wafers. Cover with ½ the and half the custard. Repeat ending with custard.

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading evenly to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges.

4. Bake at 350°F in top half of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Cool slightly or refrigerate.

*Note:  I typed this recipe exactly as written on the recipe card. One of my favorite things about old recipes is the mention of "sweet milk." Most southerners know that "sweet milk" is just regular milk, but it is identified as such so it will not be confused with buttermilk (sour milk) in the recipes. Also, on the vanilla, I used about a teaspoon. I think this is best when refrigerated overnight or for a few hours.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Simplicity....Chocolate Chip Bars

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"~Leonardo da Vinci

Have you ever heard the story about how our simple chocolate chip cookie came to existence? Well, there was a little homemaker (we prefer to be called domestic engineers/domestic goddesses, etc.., in today's time:) back in the 1920's named Ruth Wakefield. Well, her sweet hubby must have decided that his bride needed more to fill her day, so he bought her an inn. Can you guess what it was called? The Toll House Inn, of course (I didn't really see that one coming either). Well, Mrs. Wakefield was apparently quite popular for her "Butter Drop Do Cookies" that called for crumbled unsweetened chocolate. As luck would have it, Mrs. Wakefield ran out of her unsweetened chocolate and used a semi sweet candy bar that was left as a gift for her by.....Mr Andrew Nestle...yes, that's right, Andrew Nestle of the Nestle Chocolate Co.  Well, apparently the cookies became quite popular with the clients at the Tollhouse Inn. See, the semi sweet chocolate didn't melt away like its bitter cousin. The Nestle Co. soon made an agreement with the Wakefield's. They agreed to give Mrs. Wakefield a lifetime supply of chocolate for the recipe. And The "Tollhouse Recipe" was to be printed on each package of semi sweet chocolate that was sold. How's that for a lifechanging story!!

I realize after recaping the life of Mrs. Wakefield and her "Tollhouse Recipe" that you might be expecting the Tollhouse recipe. Well....that wasn't the point. I just wanted to give a little history lesson. See, I broadened your horizon today. And besides, you know where to get the Nestle Tollhouse recipe...if not, reread the above paragraph and stop multitasking while reading.

 I've had the following recipe for about 15 years. Honestly, it came off the back of a 10 pound bag of chocolate chips that my parents bought at a wholesale warehouse type store. Who knows why we were in need of a 10 lb bag of chocolate chips? When we would go to that wholesale warehouse type store it was always a battle of the evils. My dad enjoyed purchasing the huge bulk quantities of food products. My poor mother always had to figure out where to store the colossal-sized containers when we got home. On this particular shopping day, I'm guessing it was probably a battle between 10 lbs of chocolate chips or 15 lbs of pickled eggs. Glad that one worked out....

Back to the recipe. It is very simple. No odd ingredients. Just pure simple satisfaction.  And to further simplify the process of our already simple chocolate chip cookie, all you have to do is spread this dough into a pan. I bet Mrs. Wakefield wished she had known about bar cookies as she was scooping her gajillionth cookie. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Bars
2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (12 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in chips. Spread evenly into greased 10x15x1-inch pan (jellyroll pan). Bake at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake. They will be slightly brown, but they may still look a bit undercooked. That is just fine. Cool before cutting into 48 two-inch bars.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

German Chocolate Brownies

Not for the faint of heart!! These are rich and fudgy. Here in the south we just chuckle when we hear the phrase "too chocolatey" or "too rich." We know, those little words are just a myth. There is no such thing!
I will never forget working in my sister- in- laws gourmet gift basket shop one Christmas season. My mother- in- law was working on the sales floor. That lady could sell turnips to a turnip farmer. She just has that type of personality.  Anyways. This young girl came in looking to get her boyfriend's mom a gift. My mother in law was directing her to all the gourmet treats. The girl picked up a box of truffles and asked "Are these too chocolately?" I thought I would fall over. My mother- in- law, without missing a beat, said "Honey, there is no such thing as too chocolatey!" She assured her they were great and her boyfriend's mother would love them. I have since had a deep respect of my mother in law. I knew at that very moment, my husband came from good people :) Enjoy!

German Chocolate Brownies


1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
1 cup sour cream
1 (16 ounce) container coconut pecan frosting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x9 inch baking pan.
2.Mix the brownie mix according to box directions, omitting 1/2 of the oil asked for. Stir in the sour cream and coconut pecan frosting. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3.Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until done. Be careful not to overbake! They will harden and be impossible to eat! About 5 minutes before brownies are done, remove from oven, and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top along with chopped pecans. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips over the top to frost the brownies.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pecan Pralines Recipe

Lol! It has been brought to my attention that some might actually enjoy the actual recipe for the pecan pralines. Sorry about that!
Pecan Pralines
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecan pieces and halves
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut in pieces
Combine sugar, milk, and water in a 2-quart saucepan; heat to boiling stirring constantly. Cook until mixture reaches soft ball consistency (235°).Remove from heat; stir in pecans, vanilla, and butter. Immediately drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.

Pecan Pralines

First, let me say, Pecan Pralines are not my friend today. OK, glad to get that out of the way. Candy making is fickle. And in the end, these turned out fine, but we did not end our relationship with a happy face.

I decided to use up some evaporated milk. Nevemind the fact that it was a brand new can. It was the best excuse I could come up with...So, I decided to use that milk on pralines. It was a clear, humid free, cold day. Not a cloud in the sky.  So I put everything in the saucepan to bring to a boil. One child wanted to watch Barney, the other needed her plastic polly pocket clothes put on ( side note: I hate polly pockets). I lost count of what I had measured. Decided I left out a half cup of brown sugar. So I added another half cup. Finished cooking the pralines, and they were terribly grainy (from sugar). Scraped it all back in the pan, added more evaporated milk, boiled to correct temperature. They would never set up. They were like caramel. Apparently, I did not forget the sugar the first time. So I scraped it back into the pan, added more sugar and boiled again. Finally, it all came together. It set up perfectly. I was pleased with the final outcome, but I will not call them my friend. Still, try this recipe sans children. It is a fabulous southern pecan praline recipe. But, you must give it your full attention. They are like an old woman...they are real sweet and nutty, but they want your complete attention! Enjoy!

Pecan Pralines


2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup evaporated milk

2 cups pecan pieces and halves

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut in pieces


Combine sugar, milk, and water in a 2-quart saucepan; heat to boiling stirring constantly. Cook until mixture reaches soft ball consistency (235°).Remove from heat; stir in pecans, vanilla, and butter. Immediately drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

I'm not terribly knowledgable about gluten free recipes. I understand that there are individuals that have Celiac's Disease and cannot consume wheat. I'm certain I could not survive. Recently, someone requested that I experiment and make some gluten free desserts for them to try. I'll be honest, I procrastinated on this one for about a month. I just could not wrap my mind around the idea of baking without all purpose (wheat containing) flour. I just really wasn't even certain it could be done. Well, not and be worthy of ingesting. But, I finally found a recipe and set to work. Though still uncertain of the outcome, because the main starch (instead of flour) in this recipe is cornstarch. My mouth just wanted to dry up at the thought of all that cornstarch. If you've ever tasted straight cornstarch, you know what I mean. Its like putting baby powder on your tongue. Well, actually that's what a lot of baby powders are made of! But, I continued on, it was the best recipe I could come up with. In the end, I bet I ate about 1/4 of this cake by myself. It was really great! It really boggled my mind that it could be that good with no flour. Also, this contained very basic ingredients. No hard to find nut flours, etc.. It is somewhat similar to a CocaCola Cake, because it has a cooked (boiled) icing on it. Wow, was that icing good! Anyways. My girls even liked it and could not tell there was anything unusual about it. So, if you are looking to cut back on your flour consumption or you know someone that has a wheat allergy, make this for them. At the very least, make this icing and pour it over something or eat it with a spoon. It is not to be missed! Enjoy!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
1/2 c butter
1 c water
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 c oil
2 c cornstarch
2 c white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil butter, water, cocoa and oil until well melted and dissolved.
Sift cornstarch, sugar, salt and baking soda and pour boiled mixture over sifted mixture. Add buttermilk and eggs. Spread into a 9x13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out only with small crumbs. Immediately pour icing (recipe to follow) over cake and let cool completely.

Chocolate Icing:
1/4 c butter
1/4 c cocoa
1/3 c buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 c. powdered sugar

Bring butter and cocoa to a boil, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingrediends and beat until smooth. Pour over cake.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Popcorn

I'm on a peanut butter kick lately. It seems that most of my recipes lately contain this staple. But..peanut butter is healthy.Right? So...essentially we're serving up health food here. Right? That's what I thought.
Moving on, this is great snack especially for your kids. If you took away all the candy and sugar it would be super healthy, but there's no need to get crazy here. But I guess you could leave the candy out, if you just had to. This would be great to send to school with the kids for snack or to have on hand to beat the afternoon munchies. I usually store mine in the refrigerator. It tends to keep the popcorn fresh and crunchy for longer. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Popcorn

2 (3.5 ounce) packages microwave popcorn, popped
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
20 large marshmallows
1 cup M&M's or any small candy.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees
1.Pour popcorn into a large baking pan. Set aside. In a glass or plastic bowl, combine the margarine, brown sugar, and marshmallows. Cook at 1 minute intervals in the microwave, stirring between each time, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until well blended. Pour the melted mixture over the popcorn, and stir quickly to coat the popcorn. Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes).  Remove from oven and toss. Sprinkle with candy. Let cool completely. Store in refrigerator to keep popcorn fresh.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Crunchy Double Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm not sure why I choose to bake when hell appears to be breaking loose in my house. My children were positively uncontrollable yesterday. Of course, as I have mentioned before, baking is my stress relief. But, it does appear to be counterproductive to try to find stress relief when there are "monkeys" dangling from the chandelier. The monkeys are my 4 yr old and 18 month old. At one point yesterday, my oldest monkey started yelling "Momma, she's drinking your juice" Well, first of all, I don't drink juice. So this in itself concerned me, as to what she was consuming. When I stepped into the den, I saw my 18 mo. old holding my (once full) Red Bull. There was 1/4 left. I panicked for a moment because I was certain I would be outnumbered if she was running on artificial energy. Thankfully, there was a large amount spilled on the floor. The same floor where my modem, power strip and wireless router reside. But, I guess we all survived. Well, the internet service has been a bit spotty, but atleast it still works sometimes :)

Anyways, on to the cookie.  I know everyone has their own preferences as to crunchy or soft. These are for my crunchy folks. And, despite the fact that I generally prefer soft cookies, these are really good!  Very easy to make (unless you're distracted by the monkeys) with common pantry ingredients. The peanut butter chips give them that extra boost of peanut butter flavor.On a side note, I do not recommend offering these to children that have consumed Red appears to only increase the effect of the artificial energy. Enjoy!

Crunchy Double Peanut Butter Cookies
2 c flour (all purpose)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 1/4 c white sugar
1 c butter, softened
3 eggs
1 c creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 c peanut butter morsels

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another bowl combine sugar and butter until creamed. Add in eggs, until incorported. Blend in peanut butter and vanilla. Fold in peanut butter morsels. Chill dough for 10 minutes. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar and then place on ungreased baking sheet. Make criss-cross design on top with sugar dipped fork, gently pressing cookie down. Bake at 325 degrees for 17-18 minutes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keylime Cooler

I first met my husband when I was at a job interview with his sister. Who, at the time, owned a gourmet gift basket store in our town. He left a note in his sister's office telling her to hire me. Long story short, I got the job... I got the boy... And I got a plethera of memories that drown my mind from those 4 years that I worked in that small shop. One very specific memory of this cute establishment was of all the fantastic gourmet goodies that my sister- in- law sold. One of my favorites was a cookie, called a Keylime Cooler. In my late teens, all of eighteen, I didn't even know I liked keylime. Lots of things you don't know you like when you're eighteen...but that could make for a long post :) Anyways, last fall I happened upon a recipe for keylime coolers. I could not believe how similar they were to the ones that my sister in law sold. I won't say they are exact, but they are pretty darn close. Well, lets face it...its been 12 years. I don't know if I  really remember exactly what they tasted like back then.  But in my mind...they are a fond familiar memory. Enjoy!

Keylime Coolers

•1 cup flour
•1/2 cup corn starch
•1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
•3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes
•1 teaspoon grated lime zest
•1 teaspoon key lime juice
•1 cup white chocolate chips
•1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
•Additional confectioners' powdered sugar for coating (about 1 cup)
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking pad.
In a small bowl, combine flour, corn starch, and confectioners' sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter, key lime juice, and key lime zest until smooth.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture and begin mixing on low speed. Once mixture begins to get thick, increase speed to thoroughly mix until combined, scraping down sides. The dough should eventually come together into almost a dough. Scrape batter from beaters. Mix in white chocolate chips and optional macadamia nuts with a large spoon.

Refrigerate dough for 45 minutes to firm up. (It is important that the dough be very cold before going into the oven or they will spread.) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1-1/2 inches apart on lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until bottom edges just barely begin to turn brown. Do not over-bake. Let cool on baking sheets for at least 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool.

Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Roll key lime cookies in powdered sugar to cover.Let cool and roll again in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.