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Monday, October 27, 2014

Butter Pecan Praline Cake!

This "Butter Pecan Praline Cake" is a really moist cake and even though it starts with a cake mix and...heaven forbid, 'canned frosting''s absolutely delicious!   Now if you are a cake mix snob, when means you are definitely a canned frosting snob also, this recipe might not be for you! 
 For those of you who have no idea what a 'cake mix snob' is, it's those people who send me comments on recipes that use a cake mix that say things like,  "I cannot believe you use a cake mix for this cake" or "My mama makes this from scratch, never with a cake mix"  or "We would NEVER make a cake with a cake mix"!   I take all of this with a grain of salt, because I know it's just a lot of folks wanting to talk!  If you follow this blog much at all, you know most of the cakes are from scratch and for some of the great southern classics that is how it should be.  However, there are some great recipes for cakes and other desserts that start with an actual cake mix, so never be ashamed of that! 
If you make this cake and serve it to guests or take it to a potluck or family dinner, I guarantee, no one will ever say, "I bet that's a cake mix"!  This cake tastes just that good!!!  Here is what you will need for this wonderful cake:
1 box butter pecan cake mix
2 (16 oz.) cans butter pecan frosting, divided
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, 1 can of frosting, eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, water, pecans, and 1 tsp. of the vanilla together until well blended. 
Spray a 10 cup Bundt pan liberally with nonstick baking spray.  Use the type that contains flour.  I like Baker's Joy and use it almost exclusively for baking.   If you don't have the baking spray, use shortening and flour to liberally grease the pan all over.   I am stressing this step, because this cake is very moist and has a tendency to stick if you do not grease and flour your pan well. 
This is the cake mix and frosting I used, if you are not familiar with it!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes.  Test with a pick inserted in the center.  If it comes out clean, it's done.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate.
You can serve the cake plain, right out of the pan as is, or why not kick it up a notch or two!  Place the other can of frosting after opening it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or just until warm.  Be sure to remove all of the foil that is on top of the can or you will have fireworks in the microwave.  Don't even ask how I know!   Stir the other teaspoon of vanilla into the frosting and then spoon it evenly over the cake. 
Slice and serve while the frosting is still warm and it's wonderful!  This cake just gets more moist as it sits if you keep it covered tightly!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes!

Today is National Pumpkin Day, so it's only fitting that I feature some of my favorite pumpkin recipes!   Pumpkin is an ingredient that some love and some just do not care for, but many of these recipes will make even your biggest pumpkin hater learn to love it! 

Baking with pumpkin so that it's really tasty has several keys to it.  First of all, you need to season pumpkin well, but not over do it at the same time.  That sounds very contradictory, right?  What I mean is go a little heavier on the cinnamon and a little lighter on things like nutmeg and ginger or better yet, use pumpkin pie spice instead.  Pumpkin pie spice is your friend, because it is a combination of all of those stronger spices in just the right blend so they don't just choke you to death when you try to eat it. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a hint of cloves, a touch of ginger, quite a bit of cinnamon, a pinch of allspice and a very little bit of nutmeg.   In case I haven't mentioned it, I do not like nutmeg much at all.  There is just something about it that doesn't taste good to me if it is used alone or too much.  However, if you balance it with a lot of cinnamon and a bit of other  seasonings it becomes something good.  So, invest in that little can of pumpkin pie spice and use it when a recipe calls for nutmeg and ginger and such.   Be sure to use only fresh pumpkin pie spice.  If it doesn't still smell very fragrant, throw it out.  I would say a new one each Fall is in order.  The other thing about cooking with pumpkin is not to over do the pumpkin in a recipe, a little goes a long way.

Click the link under each picture for the recipes:



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes!

This time of year just calls for recipes using pumpkin...pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads, pumpkin muffins or cupcakes.  I was in the mood for pancakes and just happened to have some pumpkin left from some other pumpkin creation I had recently made and I decided to make these "Pumpkin Spice Pancakes"!   All I can say is "WOW", I am so glad I did!!!  This was the absolute best pumpkin recipe I think I have eaten this Fall so far!  Maybe I was just in the mood for it, but the results were better than even I imagined they would be.  Here is what you will need:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1  1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
Maple syrup
whipped cream
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl.  Add the sugar.  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the milk, beaten eggs, oil, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Stir together just until well blended.   If the batter is too thick add just a little more milk.  Let the batter sit for about 15 - 20 minutes before using it.  It will rise and thicken up a little and it makes the pancakes fluffier. 
Heat vegetable or canola oil on a griddle or a large skillet with a flat bottom.  The oil should sizzle when it's hot enough.  I use an ice cream scoop and place two full scoops for each pancake.  When bubbles form on the top of each pancake, carefully flip them over and brown on the other side.  Make sure to leave them in long enough to cook the middle of the pancake.  Because of the pumpkin these tend to be a little denser than a plain pancake and take just a few more minutes to cook through.  Remove to a serving plate.
These are perfect with warm maple syrup...
...and if you want to go really decadent with it, add a dollop of whipped cream!  Yummy!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ramen Pepper Steak Soup!

There is not a lot I like about the weather turning cooler, because as some of you know I am a lover of Spring and Summer and wish we had that weather year round.  However, I do like some of the foods we tend to cook more when the weather cools and soup is one of those foods.  We love soup in our family and tend to make some type of soup at least once a week, sometimes more.  We have our old favorites, but I like to experiment and try some new things also.   I came up with this "Ramen Pepper Steak Soup", because I had two of those huge boxes of Ramen noodles in both chicken and beef flavors and was trying to think of ways to use them.
Here is what you will need for this:
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter 
1  1/2 to 2 pounds top round or sirloin steak
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 medium size sweet onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper diced
3 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 (10.5 oz.) cans beef consommé or beef broth
2 pkgs. beef flavored Ramen Noodles
6 cups water
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 Tbs. Teriyaki sauce
pinch of red pepper (optional)
1 (8 oz.) can of sliced water chestnuts (optional)
Place the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.  Slice the steak in thin strips as you would for Pepper Steak or Stroganoff.   Place in the hot oil.  Sprinkle the steak with the pepper and seasoned salt.   Saute until it is just starting to brown. 
Add the garlic, onion, green and red pepper, celery and mushrooms, if you are using them.   The mushrooms are really good in this, but I know a lot of people do not care for them, so omit them if that is the case and it's still really good.   Saute the vegetables and meat just until the vegetables are starting to soften some.  Don't overcook, because this will simmer more.  Add the two cans of consomm√© or beef broth and the seasoning packets from the Ramen noodles plus two cups of the water.   Turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour covered.  Stir occasionally.
After it simmers for an hour and the meat is tender add the rest of the water, 4 cups, the Ramen noodles, the ginger, Teriyaki sauce and a pinch of red pepper, if you like a little touch of heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and just cook until the noodles are done, about 5-6 minutes. 
This is really good served with egg rolls or spring rolls! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hot Ham and Cheese Crescents!

These bundles of cheesy goodness are delicious for lunch or a quick supper or to go with soup or a salad!  They are also good for a casual party or for game day snacking! We even eat them leftover for breakfast!  They are so easy, I almost didn't even post them, but we all need an easy recipe every now and then and sometimes those are the ones everybody goes crazy for!  Here is what you will need for these:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1Tbs. dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard (could use yellow mustard)
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls ( I used Pillsbury Grands Crescent Rolls, but regular works fine also)
1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 /2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbs. poppy seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, dry ranch dressing mix, and mustard.  Open the crescent rolls and separate into triangles.  Spread each  one with about a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped ham and a little of each of the cheeses.   Roll up starting at the widest end into a crescent!  Place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan that has been sprayed lightly with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle each one with poppy seeds, if you are using them.  These are mainly for looks and if you don't have them, they taste just as good without
Place in a 375 degree oven on the center rack for about 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. 
Remove with a spatula and serve immediately!
These are actually good reheated the next day for breakfast or lunch also!