Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake

In honor of Kate's birthday I made Gooey Butter Cake.  It's her favorite dessert at the Sailaway Cafe in Afton, MN (and mine too). It's not quite the same, but still great.  I thought it was going to be difficult to make given how delicious it is, but it's surprisingly simple, and the base of the crust uses a cake mix. 

Yield: 1 (9x13) cake pan (It's up to you to decide piece size)
Oven Temp: 350°F

1 (18 1/4 oz) pkg yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 TBS unsalted butter, melted

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
8 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1 (16 oz box) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine cake mix, egg, and butter in a large mixing bowl.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and mix together.  slowly add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey. 

Store in the refrigerator and when ready to eat microwave a piece for 10-15 seconds.

Source: Paula Deen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can water
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cups shredded cheddar
1 T. cornstarch

Steam the broccoli. Combine soups and 1 can of water over medium heat, once heated add shredded cheddar. Once melted, add broccoli. Puree in blender. If it's not thick enough, mix the cornstarch with a little water and add it to the soup, bring to boil, simmer while stirring.

Notes: I've always followed the recipes I've had by using chicken broth and the soups were good but not very thick. Yesterday I only had one can of cheddar cheese soup so I thought I'd use the cream of chicken to get volume and thickness. It totally worked. It was delicious.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pumpkin Dessert Bars

As the weather is getting cooler I wanted to make a pumpkin based treat.  I've never tried this recipe before but I think they turned out pretty good.  Matt thinks they are a little too sweet, but with only 3/4 c of sugar total I don't think so.  These are very easy to make, don't take too much time in the oven, and I had all the ingredients on hand (so no running to the grocery store for a specialty item).  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Yield: 1, 9"x13" pan
Oven Temp: 350°F

1 pkg yellow cake mix (1c reserved)
1/2 c butter, melted
1 egg

1 c (16oz) pack pumpkin (I use Libby's)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed

1 c reserved cake mix
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9"x13" pan.  In a medium bowl (bowl 1) place 1 c of cake mix.  In a second medium bowl (bowl 2) place the rest of the cake mix.  Add 1/2 c melted butter and 1 egg to bowl 2.  Stir to combine, and spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.  In a third medium bowl combine the pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, and brown sugar.  Stir to combine, then spread evenly over crust.  Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 c butter to bowl 1.  Cut butter in with a pastry blender or forks.  Sprinkle over filling (This covers the entire pan.)  Bake for 40-50 minutes.

If you use a toothpick to test doneness (like I do) the toothpick will go all the way through to the bottom of the pan, and will not have any wet cake on it when it comes out. (Though it may have some pumpkin on it.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe offers a way to use up all that zucchini from the garden or frozen shredded zucchini. These are great cookies and your children will not even realize they are eating a vegetable in this little treat.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup raisins
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup walnut pieces

Cream shortening and honey, add eggs and beat well. Mix in flours, spices, and zucchini and continue mixing. Fold in oats, raisins and nuts. Drop by tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen depending on size you make cookies. Enjoy!

Notes: My husband bought a 12-oz. squeeze-bear of honey and it barely poured into an 8 oz measuring cup. However, the cookies didn't suffer in terms of taste or moisture. I was nervous about the fact that all the sweetness would come from an all-natural source like honey (especially since I am not a fan of honey). I shouldn't have been. The sweetness was just right and the extra spices evened out the honey flavor. I omitted raisins (because I don't like those either), I used pecans instead of walnuts, and I used old-fashioned oats instead of quick cooking.

All of these changes made no difference at all. The cookies are delicious. The one kind of weird thing about them is that they have very little body. You pick one up and take a bite and the rest of it sort of crumbles in your hand. So I've solved this by storing them in Tupperware in the fridge and/or freezer.

Courtesy: The Southern Lady Cooks

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

Yield: 4 dozen

1 ½ c confectioners’ sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter (NOT reduced fat or generic brand)
½ c packed brown sugar
2 TBS butter (no substitutes), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
¼ c shortening

In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter and vanilla; cover and set aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening.  Pour teaspoonfuls into paper-lined mini muffin cups.  Roll balls of peanut butter mixture, then flatten so they are about 1 inch diameter and 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture.  Chill until set.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vacay/Fair Food

In no particular order:

Some of the winning cakes in the Creative Arts Building at the MN State Fair:

Cool, huh?

Pronto Pups! A State Fair Staple.

Frozen, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick.
One of my all-time favorites.

Cream Puffs.
So good I kept at it even though I was full.

Cheese curds. Until you've had them,
you don't know what you're talking about.
So shut up.

Mini Donuts. Heaven.

We didn't spend all our time at the Fair, though.

Tacos at a little place in Stillwater, MN called Nacho Mama's.
They were amazingly awesome.

Ice cream, I forget the name of the place we got them from.

Hot German Potato Salad. Like nothing else on earth. From Brines, Stillwater, MN

I bet you wish you'd gone on vacay with me, huh? Well I've got news for you. I didn't even think to take pics of the pizza, chow mein, pad thai and steak I had. Now you're really jealous. And that's okay. Because MN is still there, just waiting for you.

And me.

Miss you guys already. xoxo

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Yield: 12
Oven Temp: 350°F

4 ½ TBS butter, room temperature
½ TBS bacon drippings, cold
1 egg
5 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS maple syrup
1 ¼ c self rising flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
pinch kosher salt
¼ c milk
¼ c minced bacon, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Fry 7 half slices of bacon in a pan.  Reserve ½ TBS of drippings and place in the refrigerator to solidify.  Chop all the bacon placing ¼ c in a small bowl for the cupcakes and the rest in a separate bowl for the icing. 

Beat the butter and bacon fat until light and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and maple syrup, beating until combined.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated.

In a small bowl sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together.  Alternate adding the flour and milk to the batter beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix just until combined.  Fold in the bacon. 

Place cupcake papers in a muffin pan.  Scoop a scant ¼ c of batter into each muffin paper.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a center muffin comes out clean.

Maple Syrup Frosting:

4 TBS butter
2 TBS maple syrup
1 c powdered sugar
turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
coarse grain sea salt
bacon bits

Using a whisk attachment, combine the syrup and butter.  Add the sugar, a bit at a time, and whip at high speed until combined.  Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, sea salt, and bacon bits.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

French Onion Soup

Serves: 6
Oven Temp: 400°F

3 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 lrg yellow onions (about 4 lbs), halved and cut pole to pole into ¼-inch thick slices
2 c water, plus extra for deglazing
½ c dry sherry
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf

1 sm baguette, cut on the bias into ½-inch thick slices
8 oz Gruyere, shredded (about 2 ½ c)

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400°F.  Generously spray the inside of a heavy bottomed large (at least 7 qt) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 tsp salt.  Cook, covered, 1 hour.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. 

Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are significantly reduced in volume and are very soft and golden brown, 1 ½ - 1 ¾ hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot after 1 hour. 

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place over medium-high heat.  Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15-20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. 

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, 6-8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.  Stir in ¼ c water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until the water evaporates and another dark crust has formed on the pot bottom, 6-8 minutes.  Repeat the process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until the onions are very dark brown.  Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in both broths, 2 c water, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ tsp salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on the bottom and sides of pot.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove and discard the herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Croutons: Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°F oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

To Serve: Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler.  Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and fill each with about 1 ¾ c of soup.  Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with Gruyere.  Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3-5 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Cook's Country Magazine

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Have you ever been to Swirl in Afton, MN? No? Shocking.

It's the cutest little wine bar that also sells, yep, you guessed it, truffles!!

Yum! Here are two-thirds of the batch we took home. I say two-thirds because Colleen and I almost forgot to take the picture we were so eager to start eating. And yes, they were just as good as they looked, with just a hint of espresso...heaven.