Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Crack Cake

The proper name is Fresh Apple Cake, but we don’t call it that anymore. One might think the name comes from last Thanksgiving, when I traded Kerri a cake for a batch of her insanely delicious homemade rolls. We met in a deserted parking lot early on Thanksgiving morning to make a trunk-to-trunk transfer, giggling all the while about how sketchy it looked.

But that’s not where the name came from. That came from Kerri, who texted me later saying “Is there crack in this cake? I can’t stop eating it.” So crack cake it is. But only to us and the people at our office. Which, since I work at a Christian company, is mildly hilarious, especially when people wander by asking plaintively, “Is any of that crack cake left?”

So crack . . . er, Fresh Apple Cake . . . is a mixture of fruit and nuts with just enough flavorful cake to hold it all together. It was my father’s favorite cake but I never really appreciated how delicious it is until recently.

You can serve it with cream cheese frosting—mostly because you can pretty much serve anything with cream cheese frosting—but I generally eat it straight. It’s not really a ‘frost and decorate’ kind of cake . . . more of a ‘rip into it with your bare hands’ kind of thing. To me, it always tastes like fall. Recipe follows – but beware: it is addictive.

Fresh Apple Cake

1 cup Sugar

¼ cup Shortening

1 Egg

1 cup Flour

1 tsp Soda

1 cup Nuts, chopped (I generally use pecans, but walnuts also work well)

1 tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Nutmeg

¼ tsp Salt

2 cups chopped raw Apples

½ cup Raisins or chopped Dates

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add beaten egg. Sift dry ingredients together and mix with shortening/sugar/egg mixture. Add fruit and nuts, stir well to combine. Pour in 9×9 pan and bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Read Full Post »

Daily Bread

Well . . .

I was going to show you one of the fun projects I’ve been working on lately, but my camera has gone MIA. And since my semi-intelligent phone is smart enough to take photos, but its semi-intelligent owner can’t figure out how to get the photos off said phone, I’m having to go illustration-free until the camera comes out of hiding.

So I thought I’d chat about this bread I’ve been baking. When I saw the recipe on Facebook, I looked it over and showed it to my friend and fellow-baker, Kerri. “That won’t work will it?” I asked. “I don’t see how it can…it wouldn’t have any flavor,” she replied. So we blew it off.

Until Vikki started bragging about how she’d made the bread and how delicious it was. So I tried it. And it really is yummy, even with only four ingredients. It’s a soft bread with a chewy crust that makes excellent toast. It’s super-easy to make, too, it just takes some time. Between the easy-peasy-ness of it and the limited ingredients required I’ve pretty much stopped buying bread. Why spend all that money when you can stir up a loaf of this goodness with almost nothing in almost no time? Now that I’ve got the regular version down I’m going to try different flours; I have a bag of oat flour from Bob’s Red Mill that’s crying out to be used.

So with many thanks to the anonymous baker who created it, here’s the recipe. I’d show you a photo of my latest loaf, but since I can’t you’ll just have to try it.

Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached flour
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon Instant (or Rapid Rise) yeast
1 ½ cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (unless you have a bowl with a lid, in which case use that) and set aside for 12-18 hours. Overnight works great, or you can mix it up in the morning and go off to work looking forward freshly baked bread at dinner.

12-18 hours later . . . Heat oven to 450 degrees. Once oven is hot, place a cast iron pot with a lid (like a Dutch oven) in the oven and heat (both pot and lid) for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, flop dough onto heavily-floured surface and shape into a soft ball with your heavily-floured hands. Cover it with the upturned bowl and let rest while your pot is heating.

When pot is hot, remove lid and place dough inside. [My pot is heavy, so I generally pull the oven rack out with the handy wooden pot-rack-puller-outer I got from my friendly neighborhood firemen, carefully remove the pot lid, and flop the dough in the pot. The dough is too soft to worry much about the shape.] Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. At this point you may remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes, but I never remember to do that and mine to come out just fine. Thump on the bread’s crust if you want to check—if it sounds hollow, it’s probably done.

Remove bread from oven and place on rack to cool. Try to restrain yourself from tearing it apart and slathering hot chunks of bread with butter for at least 15 minutes, it’s better for the bread’s texture if you do. I generally leave the room at this point to keep temptation at bay.

After bread has cooled, slice (or rip apart with your bare hands if you prefer) and enjoy! You’ll need a serrated knife to get through the chewy crust, but the inside is pillow soft. It toasts like a dream, makes fabulous garlic bread, and is perfectly appropriate for sandwiches. In my Dutch oven it comes out in a round loaf, but I’ve never been picky about the shape of my sandwiches.

I guess it just goes to show that sometimes you have to “taste and see” to find out that something is good!

NOTE: I have now tried it with half wheat flour / half white flour and . . . not so fabulous. It makes the bread too heavy. It was edible but didn’t have the light texture and tangy taste of the original. But you never know until you try, right?

Read Full Post »

Stacking Altos

The choir loft in my church has sections on each side we call the “wings”. Since the first altos sit in one of those wings, we’ve dubbed ourselves the “Hot Wings.” This may either be taken as a symbol of our general, um, hotness, or the fact that many of us suffer from hot flashes. We like to leave that open for interpretation. (The first sopranos sit in the other wing; I have no idea what code name is.)

Anyway, being of a sociable nature, the Hot Wings like to get together. Last Sunday, we had a little after-church luncheon for something called a “Japanese Stack.” We signed up to bring various ingredients and were all wildly curious as to how they would go together.
Once we arrived at Laura’s house all was revealed. You arrange all the ingredients in individual bowls, then send people through the line buffet-style. (That’s pronounced “boo-fay” if you’re Hyacinth Bucket.) Start with rice, then add chicken, then stack whatever you like on top.
stack in progress
End by pouring gravy over everything.

pouring gravy

The all-important pour

Everyone’s plate comes out a little different, but all delicious. We ended with a variety of desserts,

We like variety in our desserts.

including Japanese green tea chocolates brought back from Japan by one of our own Hot Wings.
green tea chocolates

Tasty in an odd sort of way.

And a good time was had by all!
Table full of altos

Not all, just all at my table.

In case you’d like to do some stacking of your own, here’s the recipe!

Japanese Stack
• Cooked Chicken Breasts, shredded—about 1 breast per person (then add a couple extra)*
• Cooked Rice (white or brown) about a cup per person
• Unsweetened Coconut, shredded 1 C
• Toasted sliced Almonds, about 1 1/2 C
• 1 cup diced tomatoes
• 2 bunches chopped green onions
• 1 cup chopped green pepper
• 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
• 1 large can crushed pineapple (about 14 oz)
• Can/pkg of chinese noodles. (Ramen noodles, soba noodles, you choose)
• Shredded cheddar cheese, 8 oz.
• 32 oz chicken broth
• 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup

MAKE GRAVY: Pour ¼ cup chicken broth in a container; add the rest to a pan with both cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. Heat to boiling. Dissolve 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch in the reserved chicken broth and stir, then add to boiling broth/soup mixture. Stir until thickened.

SERVE: Place all ingredients into individual bowls with rice at one end and gravy at the other. Guests “stack” their own plate starting with rice and chicken, then adding the additional ingredients of their choice, ending with gravy.

Everything except the gravy can be done ahead of time and then it is easy to set out for your guests.

This amount served 16 altos with plenty for several second helpings.

*Our chicken was cooked in a crock pot with some Italian dressing; it was really moist.

Read Full Post »

Easy Enchiladas

Remember the Enchilada Class, where I said I had 4 different enchilada recipes in my repertoire? I made one of them this weekend and thought I’d share. It’s a different taste from Vikki’s family recipe, but it’s also a heck of a lot easier and only requires four ingredients.

That’s right. Four. Want to know what they are?

Ground beef (1 pound)
Mexican Velveeta (it used to come in mild or hot but now only seems to be one flavor)
Salsa (use your fave, I won’t judge)
Flour tortillas (I’m normally a corn tortilla girl, but for this one flour works just fine. These came from Kroger and were warm when I picked them up. Mmmm.)


At this point the meat is browning on the stove.

So. Place your ground beef in a pan (non-stick cleans up easier) and brown it. Add ½ cup salsa and half the Velveeta, which you have cubed so it will melt more easily. Let that get all bubbly.
ground beef mixture

Still needs a couple of minutes for the cheese to melt.

Place a couple of heaping spoonfuls on a tortilla and roll up.
enchy in progress
Since I like to make these in individual to-be-consumed-later servings, I’m placing mine directly into my plastic container, which already contains rice. (Brown. Plain. There’s enough flavor going on in the enchilada, you don’t need any extra.) in containerIf you’re making this for immediate consumption and/or for a group, place your enchiladas in/on the microwavable container of your choice.

That’s right. Microwave. No oven required.

So where were we? Oh yes, all our enchies are packaged and you still have half your Velveeta sitting on the counter. Slice it thin—this is easier to do when it’s cold—and drape over the top of your enchiladas like so. Add a little more salsa.

finished product

Ready to heat or store.

At this point, you may stick it in the microwave for a minute or so. How long depends entirely on how many you’re cooking at a time and how powerful your microwave is, so just stand there and watch it spin around. When the cheese melts, it’s ready.

If you’re planning ahead, like me, you may instead place your servings in the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you expect it will be before you put them on the menu. When the time comes, nuke ‘em in the microwave until the cheese melts and it’s all bubbly goodness inside. If you’re starting from the frozen state, I find it’s best to let them warm up a little first and have been known to hack them in half to facilitate heating up the middle. Also, if you cover them in the microwave they tend to steam and the tortillas stay a little softer, which is nice.

Easy, huh? I got the recipe off the inside of a Mexican Velveeta box…well, technically, my mother did, years and years ago; I think I was in high school at the time. Anyhoo, I’ve been eating them ever since. Here’s the official recipe. For the record, they’re called…

Beef Enchiladas Ole

1 pound ground beef
1 cup salsa, divided
1 lb (16 oz) Velveeta Mild Mexican Process Cheese Spread with Jalapeno Pepper, cut up, divided
12 flour tortillas

BROWN meat; drain. Stir in 1/2 cup of the salsa and 1/2 of the Velveeta.

PLACE slightly less than 1/4 cup meat mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Place tortilla, seam-side down, in microwavable baking dish. Top with remaining Velveeta and 1/2 cup salsa. Cover.

MICROWAVE on High 4 to 6 minutes or until Velveeta is melted. Makes 6 servings.

Read Full Post »

So . . . I had this rather fabulous New Year’s Eve slumber party with much food and merriment. The Bubble Bread from last week’s post made an appearance. So did the following recipe, which we inhaled for dinner New Year’s Eve.

I meant to take photos, but what with having a houseful of starving guests and all, it was pretty much gone before I thought of that. You’ll just have to imagine the goodness—or try it for yourself!

The name “Chile Rellenos” apparently means “stuffed chile” but this is way easier than the usual more labor-intensive version. Think of it as a Mexican lasagna, with chilies in place of the noodles.

Here’s what you’ll need:
5 4-ounce cans whole green chilies
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBSP Williams Chili Mix*
1 teaspoon cumin
1 13-ounce can evaporated mile (NOT sweetened condensed milk–BIG difference)
16 ounces Cheddar & Jack cheeses, grated
4 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP flour
1 can tomato sauce (they’re a standard size)
Sour cream (for garnish)

Here’s what to do:

Rinse chilies & split open (it’s easy, you can do it with your thumb); remove seeds and drain on paper towel.

Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic. Add chili mix and cumin, stir well.

Meanwhile, add evaporated milk to beaten eggs, then add flour to the mixture. Grease a casserole dish (I sprayed a 9×13 pan with Pam and all was well).

Arrange half the chilies in the bottom of the pan. Spread half the meat mixture over it. Pour egg mixture over over meat. layer the rest of the chilies, the rest of the meat, and top with the cheese. Spread tomato sauce on top.

At this point you can put it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or you can cover it with foil and stash it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. If you do that, I’d just stick it in the oven while the oven is heating up and maybe add an extra 5 minutes to the total cooking time. You want the egg mixture to cook through and everything to get all hot and bubbly. Don’t let that egg thing throw you, btw, you won’t taste them as such in the finished product.

Serve with sour cream and plenty of tortilla chips. Makes 8-10 servings, depending on how many chips they ate before dinner.

I like to go with a citrus-y dessert after a Tex-Mex dish, so a key lime pie or lemon squares or something of that ilk would be delish. We had leftover Grand Marnier creme brulee, which was just orange enough to be delightful.

*You could probably use somebody else’s chili mix, but that’s what my recipe calls for. It’s the kind that comes in a little envelope, generally found on the top shelf of the supermarket aisle with a bunch of similar little envelopes.

Read Full Post »

Because . . . so many people are dealing with bad weather and this will take their minds off it.
Snow-covered yard

Because . . . we’ve all been eating healthy for weeks now (right?) and might need a little break from egg whites and chicken breasts.

Because . . . it’s Wednesday.

Because . . . oh heck, something this delicious doesn’t really need a reason. Especially when it’s amazingly easy to make.

I give you . . . Bubble Bread.

bubble bread

In all its glory

Some people call it Monkey Bread, but my experience has been that the simian version is vastly inferior due to the use of biscuits rather than proper yeast rolls.

I got this recipe the summer after I graduated from college, when I toured the Southwest with an ORU music ministry group called “Master’s Touch.” (It was the eighties, that Wayne Watson song was big.) We stayed with host families and whenever they fed us something fabulous, I asked for the recipe. This is the only one I still use, but it’s definitely a keeper. Here’s how it works: you’ll need…

1 1/4 sticks of butter
1 1/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 bag frozen Parkerhouse rolls, partially thawed

(Confession: I only maybe measure the butter, the rest I just eyeball. The rolls, of course, come premeasured.)

The night before you want to eat this delicacy:

Melt butter and let it cool while you hack the semi-frozen rolls into 4 pieces each. (If you let them sit on the counter about 20 minutes, they’re generally the perfect density for hacking. Too long and the rolls are too soft. Too little and they’re blocks of ice. Wait until they’re just right, Goldilocks, it will make your life easier. I use a chef’s knife, which is large and heavy and makes hacking a cinch.)

Place roll pieces in large bowl. Toss with dry ingredients. Pour melted butter over all and stir to mix. Pour into Bundt pan, place in cold oven, and go to bed.

The next morning, stagger to the kitchen, turn on the oven and set to 350. Bake 30 minutes. Turn out of pan; let pan stay on top a minute or two to let all the sugary, glazey goodness drip onto the rolls. Remove pan. Remove yourself from the room while Bubble Bread cools, you’ll hurt yourself if you try to eat it hot. (Don’t ask me how I know.) Serve warm. I generally make people wash their hands then let them grab hunks of gooey goodness, but you can pull it apart with two forks if you’re fancy that way. Either way, happiness will ensue.

bubble bread

Just a reminder of what's in store.

For years we prepared this Christmas Eve for Christmas morning feasting, but it’s good anytime. I only make it when I have guests, otherwise I’d have to eat it all myself. And, sadly, I would. Here’s the recipe in less wordy form:

Bubble Bread

1 1/4 sticks of butter
1 1/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 bag frozen Parkerhouse rolls, partially thawed

Melt butter. Cut semi-frozen rolls into quarters and place in large bowl. Toss with dry ingredients, then with butter. Place in Bundt pan. Let rise overnight in cold oven (or 1 hour in warm over). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Turn out of pan; glaze will be on top.


Read Full Post »

I think…just maybe…I found the recipe. Now, this has not been verified, nor has it been tested. But it sounds right. Feel free to make it—I’ll be happy to taste a piece and see if it’s the same as the one Collin made. Yes, it’s a sacrifice, but one I’m willing to make in the interest of culinary science.


• 18 oz good quality white chocolate chips
• 1 bottle pure lemon extract (NOT lemon juice—lemon extract. BIG difference. You’ll find it with the other extracts in the spice aisle. It comes in 1-oz bottles.)
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
• 2 cups miniature marshmallow

• Line 8×8 pan with wax paper
• In a glass bowl, mix chips and condensed milk
• Microwave for 30 seconds
• Stir. Depending on your microwave, continue to heat at 10 second intervals until chocolate is almost completely melted take out and stir until all chips are melted.
• Add whole bottle of extract and mix until fully incorporated (yes, it will smell alcohol-y but this will dissipate as it sits)
• Fold in the 2 cups of the marshmallows
• Place mixture in prepared dish and let sit 3-4 hours to thicken and set up
• Cut into squares to serve.

I don’t know…but don’t let that stop you from trying it. With those ingredients, how can it be bad? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Let me know what you think!

Read Full Post »