Archive | November 2013

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin-Cranberry Coffee Cake

One way I manage to provide some variety in our breakfast menu is by trying out different quick breads and coffee cakes.  This one caught my eye about a year ago, and I finally decided to make it:

Have I mentioned that I don’t like walnuts?  Well, I don’t.  Thus, every time I come across a recipe that calls for them, I substitute pecans:  2013_1120November20130057  The recipe calls for those cranberries to be “coarsely chopped” in a food processor.  I know what “coarsely chopped” means, but it does allow for a little bit of leeway, so I thought I’d show you what I decided to go with:  2013_1120November20130060  The coffee cake came out beautifully, and for those of you who don’t like things overly sweet, you could probably stop right here and be perfectly happy:  2013_1120November20130070  But if, like me, you have an insatiable sweet tooth, go ahead and make that glaze and pour it over the cake:  2013_1120November20130088  Two of my children wouldn’t try it because it has nuts in it, one was afraid she wouldn’t like the cranberries, and the other agreed with me and my husband that it’s “pretty good stuff”.  I regret that it wasn’t all eaten, but 3 of us enjoyed most of it.  This is a good recipe that I’ll be using again sometime.  Sometime when there isn’t birthday cake also in the house begging for attention…


Product Review: Duncan Hines Signature Red Velvet Cake Mix

For his birthday party with family, my oldest son requested a red velvet cake.  A few months ago (before my entry into the world of blogging) I attempted a homemade red velvet cake.  It was a total flop 😦  Rather than try out another recipe when guests would be arriving and expecting birthday cake, I chose to go with a store-bought mix.  Whenever I use a boxed cake mix, no matter how moist it claims to be or whether it says “pudding in the mix” on the box, I always buy a small box of complementary flavored pudding mix and stir it into the cake mix (following the directions on the box otherwise).  This time I chose to not do that so I could give a review of this mix that says “Deliciously Moist” on the box:  2013_1120November20130050  I followed the directions and ended up with batter that looked like this:  2013_1120November20130055 and the baked results looked like this:  2013_1120November20130062  Pretty red, huh?  Even though I did once make an acceptable cream cheese frosting from scratch, I bought this to use this time:  2013_1120November20130066  And yes, I used both cans.  What can I say?  I like frosting!  I failed to take another photo once the cake was frosted, but I’m sure you can picture it in your head – pretty much like the front of the box shows.  And the verdict?  A good cake, but it would have benefited from the addition of a box of pudding mix.  (My oldest son agreed on that point.)  One day I’ll attempt another red velvet cake from scratch.  When I do, I’ll be back to let you know how it turns out 🙂

Sausage Egg Boats

Breakfast is the one meal where I fix the same foods over and over and over again.  My husband enjoys what we think of as typical “breakfast foods”, but I like to change things up every now and then.  This particular recipe would allow me to use those same foods, but present them in a different way:

On a previous trip to the grocery store I had seen some bread that looked like it would work really well for this recipe.  Was it there when I wanted to buy it?  Of course not!  So I decided I’d try this out instead:  2013_1120November20130036  This bread loaf was bigger than called for and would result in a single “boat”.  2013_1120November20130038  My father insists that steaming sausages is the best way to cook them, so that’s what I did this time:  2013_1120November20130039  I reserved half of those sausages for my two sons who love sausage but not eggs, and cut the rest of them into bite-sized pieces:  2013_1120November20130041  Then I mixed the ingredients and filled the boat:  2013_1120November20130043  Into the oven it then went.  I knew it would take a bit longer for the eggs to set since I had a larger quantity together, but after I thought it had been long enough I tried cutting into the loaf and this happened:  2013_1120November20130044  Well, that photo was taken after I stuck it back in the oven for awhile.  Even at that point when I sliced into it the eggs weren’t quite set:  2013_1120November20130047  At this point I gave up and we had something else for breakfast.  I should have put off the recipe until I found the bread I wanted in the first place.  Wouldn’t you know it?  It was back on the shelves a couple of weeks later!

Product Review: Duff Goldman Camouflage Premium Cake Mix

As my oldest son’s birthday approached, he announced that he wanted a “camo” theme for his kid party.  (We often have two birthday parties for our children: one “kid party” and one “family party”.)  I said, “Hey, I saw a camo cake mix at Walmart!   Those colors would be a bit difficult to mix, so I’ll try that.”  2013_1120November20130015  The first step on the box says to “Generously grease two 8-inch round pans and dust with flour or spray with non-stick cooking spray.”  I haven’t done that for years.  Since I discovered parchment paper, that’s what I use with any cake pan except a bundt cake pan.  2013_1120November20130016  I didn’t see any flavor mentioned on the box of cake mix, but the batter looked like this:  2013_1120November20130017  The reason I paid almost $3 for this box of cake mix was to make the color mixing easier.  According to the instructions on the box there are “two food color packets provided” and they are green and brown.  Really?  Because there was nothing but a packet of cake mix in the box I got, and no time for a trip back to the store when I started baking.  So I pulled out the remains of previous food coloring purchases to see what I could come up with:  2013_1120November20130018  The colors I was supposed to come up with were dark green, green, brown and tan.  I tried.  And here’s what I came up with:  2013_1120November20130019  For the upper lefthand bowl (dark green) I ended up using 40 drops of blue food coloring, 4 drops of yellow, and 2 drops of green.   For the upper righthand one (tan) I squirted in a drop about the size of the tip of a pencil eraser o red gel food coloring and added 4 drops of green.  The green in the lower lefthand corner was created using 10 drops of green and 2 drops of blue.  And for the brown I used about 5 times as much red gel food coloring as for the tan and added 15 drops of green.

Now, how to make this cake look like camouflage . . . I just started filling in the pans with spots of color and tried to keep it so I didn’t end up with too large a pool of one color:  2013_1120November20130021  It didn’t look exactly the way I imagined it should, but once the batter is in the pan, there’s no going back.  So I baked the cakes:  2013_1120November20130023  Then frosted and layered.  When cut open, it looked like this:  2013_1120November20130034  The cake was good, but I wouldn’t describe it as moist.  I wouldn’t say “dry” either.  Every single bit of it was eaten and enjoyed, but I have no intention of buying the mix again.

Quinoa Chili

Chili doesn’t have to have meat in it.  Really, it doesn’t!  Now, I do love a good chili with beef, but sometimes I want something different:

The ingredient list is a little long, but with all the canned goods called for, it really doesn’t take all that long to prepare this chili:  2013_1120November20130008  We had ours with chopped avocado and a dollop of sour cream on top, which my husband swears “saved” the meal.  But it truly is good on it’s own.  As you can see from the photo, we had tortilla chips with the chili:  2013_1120November20130011  Since I was out of avocado for the leftovers the next day, I topped the chili with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream instead – a flavorful and satisfying lunch.  Truly, you don’t need the meat to feel full!

Maw Maw’s Country-Style Steak

Have I mentioned that I love beef prepared in the slow cooker?  Here’s the latest beef recipe I sampled using my slow cooker:

I looked for cubed steak but found none and bought this instead:  2013_1113November20130018  There are so few ingredients in this recipe that it’s ridiculously easy to throw together.  I always always always choose to go with the longer cooking time at the low heat setting on the slow cooker.  I tried the shorter time on the high setting once and was not pleased with the results.  After 10 hours of simmering away in the slow cooker (the last hour of which I used to fry some potatoes and heat up some corn), dinner was served:  2013_1120November20130003  The steak fell apart at the touch of a fork and the onions and sauce added just the right flavor to complement the beef.  This would be great served over mashed potatoes, if your spouse liked mashed potatoes (Mine will eat them, but they’re his least favorite kind of potatoes.  A shame, because I LOVE mashed potatoes!)

Chicken Taco Salad

There are probably millions of varieties of taco salad out there, and most of the recipes catch my eye, including this one:

I didn’t use exactly what was called for in the recipe:  2013_1113November20130005  Notice the absence of cilantro and the substitution of frozen corn for fresh (I ran warm water over the corn and drained it before using).  I flattened a couple of chicken breast halves before seasoning and cooking.  They cook more quickly and evenly that way:  2013_1113November20130007  After that it’s a matter of chopping and assembling, and my salad looked like this:  2013_1113November20130013  I’ll most likely use this recipe again, as I enjoyed the addition of corn to the salad, my husband often prefers chicken to beef, and we both love avocados.