Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oreo Cake - It was called "Amazing" more than once!

Ali's birthday was two weeks ago. We celebrated it over a couple of days (ok, 10, but she's 20, and not home as often as the others are). As you probably know, the kids get to choose their meals for their birthday. I try to do them all on the same day, but due to her work schedule, it took us a bit to get them all in. Her breakfast and dinner choices were the same as last year - German Pancakes and Heart Attack Chicken. Both recipes are blog posts from last year that you should check out. When I made the chicken, I also made her birthday cake. She found the recipe on Pinterest, and as usual, I tweaked it a little. I do that a lot so I can post the recipe and not feel like I am stealing it from someone. It was hands-down the most amazing cake ever!! It is easy to make, too!! It does call for a cake mix, which for some of you is the way you always roll. For me it was a bit of a "twitch inducing" experience. I think I even felt the ground tremble a little as my mother rolled over in her grave, but I did it anyway, and with all of the additions to the cake, it tasted like any other scratch cake I have ever had. Enjoy!

Oreo Cake

Devil's Food Cake mix
small box of chocolate fudge pudding mix
1 t. salt
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 c. water
12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream Filling/Topping
1 c. butter, softened
1 T. pure vanilla extract
2 lbs. powdered sugar
2-4 T. whipping cream
25 Double-Stuff Oreos, crushed

Fudge sauce or ganache

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper or wax paper, then spray well with non-stick spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, salt, vanilla, sour cream, oil, eggs, and water. Beat for 30 seconds on low to combine and then switch mixer to medium/medium high for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the pkg. of chocolate chips.
Divide the mixture between the two pans and bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remember that you have chocolate chips in there, so it might be a little difficult to determine if it is batter or chocolate chips on the toothpick.
Remove cake pans to a cooling rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes invert the cakes out of the pans onto the racks and allow to cool completely before frosting them.

For the frosting:
Beat the butter and the vanilla until soft and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar until thoroughly combined. Add cream a tablespoon at a time until the frosting reaches spreading consistency. Stir in the crushed Oreos.

Put a dab of frosting on the serving plate and top with the first layer. Top that with half of the filling mixture spreading just to the edge of the cake. Top with the second layer followed by the remaining cream filling. Drizzle the top with fudge sauce or chocolate ganache (1/2 c. heated cream or half and half combined with 1/2 c. chopped chocolate, stirred until smooth).

Make that and tell me it is awful. I dare you :)

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

It is winter. Duh, right? I have to keep reminding myself of that fact because it has been SO warm around here lately. Yes, we had some snow at the end of last week, but we are right back to 50+ degrees. I love winter because that means soups, stews, crockpot meals that are saucy and savory. One thing that I love to do is cook a whole chicken in a pot on the stove and then make a variety of things with the meat and the broth. It could be chicken noodle soup, pot pie, a hearty stew or even chicken and dumplings.

My neice, Joanna, requested my chicken and dumplings recipe today since it is cold out in Oregon (big surprise - I bet it's even rainy, too, haha! :P) So, dearest Joanna, here you go and happy cooking! Before I post the recipe, let me say you can make this as complicated or easy as you want to. You can start in the morning with a whole chicken in a pot of water, bring it to a boil and allow it to simmer for a few hours until the chicken is practically falling off the bone, cool it down, strain out the broth and pull the meat from the bones. OR you can use leftover chicken and boxed chicken broth. Do what works for you. The photo here is a bad quality and I apologize, but I think you get the picture (no pun intended) Now...

Chicken and Dumplings

Meat from 1 whole chicken, chopped
4 c. chicken broth
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 lg. carrots, diced
2-4 celery stalks, sliced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 can cream of celery soup
1-2 bay leaves
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Dumplings (you can double this easily - just stir until soft dough forms and drop into soup by the spoonful)
1 c. baking mix (like Bisquick)
1/3 c. milk

In a Dutch oven, combine onion, garlic, celery and carrots with the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, stir in the chicken soup and then the meat and bring back to a boil. 30 minutes before serving add in the peas and parsley and then top with the dumpling mixture. Cover for 10 minutes and the cook uncovered 10 more minutes.

I hope you enjoy this one! Stay warm and loved!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MEATballs - or I'm Not a Football Fan

I am so not a football fan. My dad liked sports. I remember listing to games on the radio in the car on Boston's WBZ ("Radio 1030...We hear you!"...sorry, can't hear the call letters without the song playing in my head.) I remember him watching hockey, basketball, bowling, golf, car races, boxing... you name it. He would yell at the screen with the best of 'em. Somehow his love for sports did not rub off on me. My least favorite is football. To me, it is a pointless game that takes forever. and ever. There are too many rules and "teams" within teams, cryptic play names and inflated egos. The pants, however.... anyway...

Football season is almost over. Just a couple more weeks and all of this hoopla over Tim Tebow will be over for a while. He is just a player, on a team, who happens to be a Christian (along with a LOT of other players). Yes, he is vocal about his beliefs. But I have a problem with Christians putting other Christians up on such a public pedestal. You are inviting Satan to attack him and then turn your back on his when he has a very public fall from grace. I may sound a bit pessimistic; however, he is a young man. Fame is cruel.

Anyway - this is not about footballs, it's about MEATballs :) I made spaghetti sauce, a monthly ritual around here. Part of it goes into the freezer for future meals. Last night I decided I needed meatballs, too. They were delish - The sauce recipe was posted last year some time - go find it... it's worth the time, which is not that much, and it is very adjustable and forgiving.

MEATBALLS (makes 30-40 walnut-sized meatballs)

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork (occasionally I substitute Italian sausage)
1/2 c. dry breadcrumbs (firm meatballs - my choice) OR 1 c. fresh (softer meatballs)
1 egg
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 T. dry)
1 t. dry basil
1 t. garlic powder (if you like onion powder, throw some of that in, too)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Combine all ingredients with your hands and form into walnut-sized balls. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 for 20 minutes and then toss into the sauce and allow to simmer another 30-45 minutes. Mange!

Until next time, stay warm and loved my friends!