Monday, December 13, 2010

Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

For my younger sister's birthday, I baked this delicious carrot cake. Carrot cake is carrot cake and you can't get too many variations from it. This basic carrot cake recipe is simply delicious as it is very moist and even somewhat healthy for you. =) We, in the Pena home, are of the opinion that carrot cake must always be frosted with cream cheese frosting. However, if one desired to decorate a carrot cake for someone's birthday, for instance, it would be of much import to use a frosting that would have more stability. Thus, our find of White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting which you can find below the instructions for the cake. Enjoy!!

1 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Whip honey, butter, and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Add eggs. Mix dry ingredients together and blend into honey-oil mixture. Add vanilla. Fold in carrots and, if using, walnuts.
Bake in oiled 13x9-inch pan or two 9-inch pans for 40-45 minutes and 30-35 minutes, respectively, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

10 ounces white chocolate, chopped
10 ounces cream cheese
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat, cool until lukewarm, and set aside. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth in a large bowl with a mixer set on medium speed. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add sugar and mix until frosting is light and fluffy.

Makes 5 cups

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sausage and Kale Soup

About a year ago, Rebecca took me out for lunch at Olive Gardens for my birthday. I can't remember which of us ordered this soup but sisters we are, so we tried each other's soups and loved this one. When we returned to her home, Rebecca searched the web for a copycat recipe of this soup. A couple weeks ago, I pulled this recipe out again to see how my family liked it. I changed a few things to suit our family better and everybody loved it. When there's actually been leftovers, Dad asks for it to be saved for him for when he comes home from work. This soup tastes fabulous served with a crusty bread. Enjoy!

4 cups Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4" slices.
1 1/2 cup onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 Lb. Italian sausage (Hot is best as it gives a wonderful flavor)
2 packed cups kale, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Brown sausage and crumble. Drain and set aside. Place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water, garlic in pot and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add sausage and bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat, then add kale and cream. Heat through and serve. 

Serves 8

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Café au Lait Bars

These are those wonderfully delicious coffee bars that everyone raves about once they’ve tasted a bite of them.  First dubbed, “Nathanael’s coffee bars” because of my brother’s love and fascination for them, they were later simply referred to as “those scrumptious coffee bars” that everyone asked the recipe for.  So if you haven’t tried the café au lait bars, now is the time!!

3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup butter, melted
2 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup instant coffee crystals, or 3 tablespoons espresso powder
¼ cup heavy cream
Mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until light-colored and thick. Add the sugar, beating until glossy and stiff. Add the vanilla and melted butter, beating to combine. Stir in the flour and salt.
Set aside 1 ½ cups of the batter. Stir together the coffee crystals and cream and add to the remaining batter. Spread the coffee batter in the prepared pan.
Now, I’ll try to explain how I did the next step. Fill a Zip-lock bag with the reserved batter. Snip off one corner, and pipe three lines of batter the length of the pan. Use a knife to pull the batter from side to side through the coffee batter. Optional: Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until the sides just barely pull away from the edge of the pan and the center is set. Remove them from the oven and immediately with sprinkle mini chocolate chips. Cool before cutting.
Makes 24 bars

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Summer Squash Enchiladas

Here is another summer squash recipe that I made to use up that surplus amount of squash. =) Everyone liked it; even those who don't care for squash!!

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
salt and pepper
6 cups diced summer squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh hot peppers or to taste
16 (8-inch) tortillas
2 cups diced tomatoes - we had picante sauce on hand, so that is what I used instead

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour and chili powder to make a thick paste. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring well after each addition to prevent lumps. Add the cheese and heat gently until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Steam the squash until just tender, about 5 minutes.
In a saute pan, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, and hot peppers until limp, 3-5 minutes. Add the squash and two-thirds of the sauce. Toss to coat.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spoon some filling onto each tortilla and roll like a crepe. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Spoon the extra sauce on top and sprinkle with the tomatoes. Bake the enchiladas for 30 minutes, or until hot. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mexican Summer Squash

Our garden has been doing quite well producing a lot of squash.... friends' gardens are also doing well, as we have discovered from kind gifts of A LOT of squash. If one were to take a peek into our refrigerator, they would be overwhelmed by the amount of space taken up with squash. So, I thought that one good way of using up a large-ish quantity of squash was in putting it into a yummy casserole. Found off the internet and slightly revised - a wonderful spicy squash casserole. Enjoy!!
2 1/4 pounds (approx 7 cups) summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
1 can (4 oz., about 1/2 cup) chopped jalapeños, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 1/4 cup (about 7 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish (or similarly sized pan) with cooking spray.
Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapeños, salt, and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Immediately after you remove from the oven, sprinkle with red onions.
Makes 10 servings

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Here they are!! As I promised.... the recipe for English Muffins!! Enjoy!!

2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 tablespoon agave or honey

2 cups buttermilk, or plain yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 cups to 6 cups whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the buttermilk. Stir in the salt and 2 cups of the flour. Mix in 2 or more cups of the remaining flour, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes and then give the dough a rest while you grease a bowl. Continue kneading for another 3 or 4 minutes, and then put the dough in the bowl and turn it over so the top has a thin film of grease on it. Cover and let the dough rise until it has doubled (you can stick you finger in it and it doesn't spring back at you.)

Roll out your dough about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out the muffins, using a standard English muffin ring 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes.
Heat your griddle to a very low heat. Grease it and, very gently so you don't deflate them, place the muffins with the cornmeal side down on the griddle. Cook for about 10 minutes; turn them over and cook 10 minutes more. Cool the finished muffins on a rack. When you're ready to eat them, split them with a fork and toast.
Makes approximately 11 English muffins

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fruit Pizza

Orange Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange peel
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup agave
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Fruit: I used 3 kiwi, 1 can (approx 14 oz) mandarin oranges, and a little less than one carton of strawberries. The options are endless!!

Heat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients until dough forms. Press firmly and evenly against bottom and sides of ungreased jelly roll pan, 15.5 x 10.5 inch. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely.
In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, agave, and vanilla until fluffy. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Arrange fruit over cream cheese. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mom's Birthday Eggs Benedict

1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 English muffins, split, toasted
6 eggs, poached
In large skillet,cook peppers and onion in butter. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until crisp-tender. (I think mine got a little more done than that!!) Keep warm.
Melt butter in small saucepan; blend in flour and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth and bubbly, about 1 mintue. Gradually add milk. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Blend a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks. Return yolk mixture to saucepan, blending well. Cook until mixture bubbles, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. stir in lemon juice and mustard.
To serve, spoon cooked pepper mixture onto each toasted muffin half; top each with poached egg and sauce.
6 servings

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baked Coconut Millet Pudding

This is a favorite of our family. Dad mentioned that, "it doesn't really even taste like millet!" Enjoy!!

3/4 cup millet
3 cups milk or coconut milk
1/4 cup honey or agave
1 cup raw shredded coconut
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

PM In a large pot heat milk slowly, add millet, agave, coconut, and salt. Mix together until well blended. After turning the heat off add vanilla. Pour into oiled 8x8 glass pan. Cover and leave till morning
AM Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Serve hot or chilled. Top with whipping cream or yogurt and fruit!!
This can easily be doubled and put into a 9x13 pan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunrise Pancakes

Saturday's have traditionaly been our pancake day. As maple syrup is rather expensive and not especially healthy for you, our family enjoys dressing our pancakes up with yogurt and fruit!! At the end of the pancake recipe I have some ideas that we tried.

1 cup pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
Combine eggs, agave, yogurt and water in medium bowl. Whisk in butter. Pour liquid ingredients, all at once, into dry ingredients; stir until moistened. For extra fluffy pancakes, cover and let sit overnight.
Preheat griddle or large skillet over medium heat; grease lightly. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle for each pancake; spread batter out to make 5-inch circles. Cook until tops of pancakes are bubbly and appear dry; turn and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Makes about 8 pancakes
Just a little hint: try to reduce the amount of flipping you do!!
I used strawberry-banana greek yogurt in between the pancakes and topped the stack with fresh strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and pecans. Oh and I was going to mention I didn't have to wrap up any left over pancakes!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pineapple Coconut Rice Pudding

This pudding was made in a crock-pot!! We had this for breakfast, so the night before I put it all together and turned the crock-pot on low. It ended up cooking for 7 hours, and I think that was perfect. Enjoy!!

1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
3/4 cup uncooked arborio rice (I confess, we didn't have any arborio rice, so I used brown. It was a wee bit crunchy!!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup agave or honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Toasted coconut

Placce pineapple with juice, coconut milk, evaporated milk, rice, eggs, agave or honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into crockpot; mix well. Cover; cook on high 3 to 4 hours or until thickened and rice is tender.
Stir until blended. Serve warm or chilled. Top with toasted coconut!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Orange Cranberry Scones

You'll notice in this recipe that the fats are supposed to be very cold. This makes a flakier scone. Also, it's handy that you can make these scones, stick them in the freezer, and pull them out when you want to use them. All you have to do is bake them!! =)

3 1/4 cups pastry flour
1/4 buttermilk powder or milk powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup agave or honey
1/2 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons (half a stick) frozen butter
1/4 cup cold shortening
Milk and cinnamon-sugar for topping

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and orange juice.
Grate the butter into the dry ingredients; then, cut the shortening in. You want pieces that remain the size of peas. If you cut the sortening in until the flour is evenly crumbly, you'll have mealy rather than flaky scones.
Add the liquid ingredients to the flour-fat mixture. Be careful not to over-mix or over knead. Gently fold everything together until the mixture is mostly moistened a bit of the flour may remain dry.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold and gather it together until it's cohesive. Divide the dough in half and place both halves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat each half into a 7-inch circle approximately 1/2-inch thick, then cut each circle into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges , leaving about a half inch between each wedge.
Brush the scones with milk and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Bake them for 7 minutes, then turn the oven off, and without opening the door, let the scones remain in the oven for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
Serve the scones immediately or within a few hours, for best flavor. Conveniently enough, scone dough lends itself to being made ahead, shaped, and either frozen or refrigerated overnight before baking. For scones refrigerated overnight, bae for tthe same amount of time for frozen, add 2 minutes to the baking time before you turn the oven off!
Makes 16 scones

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Recipe Coming Soon

You may ask, "are those biscuits on a griddle?" No, they are not biscuits. Well, I won't keep you held in suspense for long! Does anyone want the recipe for these simple whole wheat English muffins??
Recipe will be coming soon with pictures of finished product!! =)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baked Doughnuts

I first found this recipe on Milk and Cookies, and was thrilled to find yeast baked doughnuts, rather than nasty fried ones. I changed the recipe a tiny bit to suit our family better. =)

3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1 packet yeast (the equivalent measurement is 2 1/4 teaspoons.)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Sift flour, nutmeg and seas salt together in a large bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Place ½ cup of the milk in another bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.
Stir in the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture.
Whisk in the eggs using a fork and add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.
Mix until the flour has taken up the yeast mixture.
If your dough is too dry add a little bit of milk at a time. If your dough is too sticky, then add a little bit of flour, until the dough becomes smooth enough to handle without sticking too much to your hands. If you add too much flour it'll be too tough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes.
Shape into a ball and place into a lightly oiled or buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm area away from drafts.
Allow an hour or so for the dough to double in size, depending on the temperature.

Prepare baking trays with parchment paper.
When the dough has risen, remove the dough from the bowl and punch down. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about ½-inch thickness.
Using your cutter cut out the donuts. I've used both the regular doughnut sized cutter and also a smaller one. Just which ever you prefer.
Ensure that the holes are at least 3/4 inches in diameter as that the holes will close more after rising and baking.
Cover trays with a clean cloth and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
Bake the donuts for about 8 minutes; do not allow them to get brown.
While donuts are baking, set up your butter and combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.
Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes.
Dip each donut into the melted butter and give it a quick toss in the cinnamon sugar.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cheesy Herb Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, OR 2 tablespoons dried chives
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 oz. (half of regular sized package) cream cheese
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the grated cheese, until everything is evenly distributed. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the butter and cream cheese, mixing until crmbly; some large chunks of cheese and butter can remain. Pour in the milk while tossing with a fork; the dough should remain a bit crumbly but hold together when squeezed. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if needed.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it over a few times so that you can be sure it's totally cohesive. Roll it out 3/4-inch thick. Cut it into 2-inch biscuits. Place the biscuits on parchment-lined baking sheets.
Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes, until they're lightly browned.
Makes twenty 2-inch biscuits