December 12, 2019

Pumpkin Churro Cake

I made this delicious pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving. I did it because I finally had the realization the only reason I eat pumpkin pie really is for the cool whip, so I wanted a dessert I could embrace. It got rave reviews. My 8-year-old son described it as my most delicious cake and stated he wanted this cake for his birthday next year. (We'll see if that holds true in 9 months, but still ...)

And then apparently I closed the tab with this recipe on my phone before I blogged it. Fortunately, I remembered I found it on one of the blogs I frequent, so a few quick Google searches retrieved the recipe before it was lost as one of thousands of pumpkin cake recipes online. Thanks to Confessions of a Cookbook Queen for making my Thanksgiving dinner better.

Pumpkin Churro Cake
3 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Churro Coating
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter, and flour three 8- or 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, and set aside.

Using a mixer, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans, and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, and then remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks. Once cakes are cool, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. This will help the cakes become firm enough for the next step.

Once cakes are chilled and firm, combine cinnamon and sugar together on a large plate. Brush each cake with melted butter, and then dip in cinnamon sugar, coating the sides, tops and bottoms. Place cakes on individual plates while you work on others.

To make frosting, beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar on low speed until incorporated, and then add milk and vanilla. Gradually increase speed to medium high, and beat until desired consistency.

To assemble cake, place one cake on a plate or platter. Add a layer of frosting, ideally with a piping bag as the cinnamon-sugar coating makes the frosting slide on the cake. Top frosting with a second cake, and repeat the frosting layer. Top with the third cake, and use remaining frosting to decorate the top of the cake. Top with additional cinnamon sugar if desired.

December 11, 2019

Quick Asian Noodles

I swear I had a recipe for a quick dinner with ramen noodles on my blog, but I couldn't find it. Kind of like how how I can't find gochujang at the grocery store now when I swear I found it before ...

So when I searched out this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats I had to make sure I captured this recipe on my blog. This is a perfect weeknight dinner because it takes less than 30 minutes start to finish. It's flavorful and my entire family liked it. Heck, my youngest even ate a few tiny pieces of broccoli snuck in with his.

Quick Asian Noodles
2 packets ramen (discard seasoning)
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
7 oz. ground beef (we substituted some thinly sliced beef)
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup water (can use all water if needed)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsp. Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. mirin

Combine sauce ingredients, and set aside. (I only had soy sauce and mirin, so I added some szechaun sauce as well. It's pretty forgiving. Gochujang would be a great substitute if I could find it again at the grocery store.)

Heat oils in medium skillet over high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook 2 minutes or until starting to soften. Add beef, and cook until it is light brown. Then add sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until the beef is well caramelized.

Push the beef aside to make room for the noodles. Add the broth and water, and place the noodles in the water. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, and then flip. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until softened.

Toss all the ingredients together to mix. Serves 4.

Note: We like to serve this in a bowl with steamed broccoli mixed in, topped with sesame seeds. 

September 27, 2019

Cranberry Orange Bread

One of my son's schools serves breakfast. Although he's usually up plenty early to eat at home, he wants to eat when all his classmates are eating the school breakfast, so we usually do a light snack at home and then school breakfast. The school breakfasts are pre-packaged combo packs that often contain either raisins or craisins, neither of which he'll eat. So we've ended up with a stockpile of individual packs of craisins in the snack bin because, let's face it, they're not the first thing grabbed when even the adults are hungry here.

I decided to convert those craisins into something much more desirable: cranberry orange bread. Although I typically use fresh/frozen cranberries for quick breads, this recipe from A Side of Sweet noted that it worked with dried cranberries. I just modified it slightly to moisten the cranberries more and use the ingredients I had on hand. Here's my tweaked version, which will be made every couple months when our stockpile gets large enough.

Cranberry Orange Bread
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Zest of one large orange or 10 drops of food-safe orange essential oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine cranberries and orange juice, and let stand at least 15 minutes, preferably longer. This is to re-hydrate the cranberries slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice, zest or oil, buttermilk, butter and egg. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the liquid ingredients (with the cranberries), mixing until just combined.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan. Bake 25 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake an additional 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely. Makes 1 loaf.

July 17, 2019

Watermelon Sherbet

This recipe from Eating Well was created rather quickly after I found it, simply because it's summer. Watermelon is reasonably priced at the grocery store, and my kids love watermelon. I thought this would be a win for them, but it turns out that neither of them loves it.

Dave and I find it refreshing. It's authentic watermelon flavor that's not cloying but just sweet enough to taste relatively healthy. It definitely needs to stand at room temperature at least 5-10 minutes before scooping because it, like custard, is best not fully frozen.

Watermelon Sherbet
6 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Place watermelon on large baking sheet, and freeze until frozen. Puree frozen watermelon with the remaining ingredients, breaking into smaller batches if needed, until smooth. Transfer to a large container with a cover, and freeze until firm. Makes about 6 cups of sherbet.

July 8, 2019

Berry Lemonade Bars

This recipe came from the now defunct Cooking Light magazine. I made these for a treat when my family came to visit, and they were quite popular with the adults. The children opted for ice cream sandwiches, which left the last two bars as the perfect bedtime snack for Dave and me.

Berry Lemonade Bars
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1.5 oz. white whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 Tbsp. canola oil
6 oz. fresh strawberries
1.5 oz. all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare crust, combine all ingredients except butter and oil in a food processor. Add butter and oil, and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch greased pan. Press down into bottom of pan, and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree berries. Strain, and discard solids. Measure out 1/2 cup of fruit puree, and use that for the filling. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined. Pour onto the hot crust, and bake 23 minutes or just until set. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then chill at least 2 hours before slicing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately before serving.

Makes 9 generous servings or 16 dainty ones.