Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tuxedo Cake

My sister came to visit and brought the snow with her. Determined to escape winter, we headed to Florida. We were able to sample Spring with temperatures in the 70s. After our extended weekend trip, it just happened to be my son's birthday. Of all the desserts he could request, this was the cake he wanted. Since the cake is so delicious, my husband told our son that he could pick his birthday cake. This cake is a chocolate cake with whip cream as the frosting then topped with ganache. It is three layers tall. It is my favorite chocolate cake. Also, it is time consuming to make. This is the second time I've made this cake but the first time I remembered to take photos.
Tuxedo Cake
1 cup butter, softened 
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus extra for preparing the pans
4 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk 
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray the pans with nonstick baking spray. Line the pans with parchment paper. Respray with nonstick baking spray. Dust the pans with cocoa powder. Shake off any excess cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water, and oil. Heat the mixture over medium heat until the butter melts. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and cocoa powder.
  5. Slowly add the butter mixture.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix until incorporated before adding the next egg.
  7. Add the buttermilk.
  8. Add the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
  9. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs.
  11. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to completely cool. 
Frosting:3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar.
  2. Whisk until stiff peaks form.
  3. Cover the top of one of the cooled cakes with the frosting.
  4. Cover with another layer of cake.
  5. Frost the second layer of cake.
  6. Top with the last layer of cake.
  7. Frost the entire cake with the frosting.
  8. Refrigerate for one hour.
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped/chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
2 tsp vanilla

  1. Place the dark chocolate into a bowl. Set aside. 
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream to a simmer.
  3. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate. Allow to rest for a minute.
  4. Stir in the Golden Syrup and vanilla. Mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  5. Slowly pour the chocolate glaze over the cake. 
  6. Refrigerate for an hour before serving. 
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather.

One year ago...............................I made Cajun Biscuits.
Two years ago.............................I made Mexican Pizza.
Three years ago...........................I made Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake.
Did you already know.................
-The majority of tuxedos are rented. 
-The formal wear of the tuxedo made its debate in Tuxedo Park, NY.
-The cummerbund is used to cover the bunching of the fabric at the waistband.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chinese Almond Cookies

I know these aren't an authentic Chinese recipe. However, these cookies are similar to the cookies I find at the local Chinese buffet. The cookies at the restaurant are crisper but these are soft. I guess I could have tried to cooked them longer but I really like them this way. They have a nice buttery almond flavor. They are easy to make. My son liked the ones where I sprinkled a lot of almonds on top. The kids liked them. My sister will endorse them. I highly recommend them especially if you are an almond fan.
Chinese Almond Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almond

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the egg, almond extract, and the vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and the chopped almonds.
  5. Roll the dough into a disk and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Slice the dough and evenly space onto the baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle the tops with the sliced almonds. 
  9. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes. 
  10. Rotate the pan and bake for another 7 minutes or until the cookies are slightly tan and baked through.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

One year ago........................................I made Brazilian Banana Cake.
Two years ago......................................I made Macerated strawberries with grapefruit zest.
Three years ago....................................I made Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake.

Did you already know..............
-The Ancient Romans would shower newlyweds with almonds for fertility.
-There are over 30 varieties of almonds.
-Botanically, the almond is a stone fruit and belongs to the same family as the peach.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Orange Chicken

When I made this dish, I asked my husband to try the sauce. He told me that it was good but why could he taste oranges. Before I could answer him, my husband said, "I forgot you told me you were making orange chicken now that would explain the orange taste." My son helped me cook this dish. So, my son took all the credit for supper. This dish is very good and only has a faint orange taste. It will be a dish I will make again.
Orange Chicken
2 eggs
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 lb. chicken, cut into bite size
2/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
zest of one orange
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 stalks of green onion, chopped

  1. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cornstarch. 
  4. Add the chicken and coat. Allow to sit for five minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, 1/2 zest of an orange, salt, and pepper. 
  6. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  7. In batches, brown the chicken for a couple of minutes per a side.
  8. Add the chicken to the prepared baking dish.
  9. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  10. Add half of the chopped green onions. 
  11. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes and the chicken is cooked through.
  12. Top with orange zest and green onions.
Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

One year ago................................I made Vatrushka (Russian Cheese Bread).
Two years ago..............................I made Pie Crust.
Three years ago............................I made Ham, Cheese, and Egg Panini.
Did you already know..................
-The largest producer of oranges is Brazil. 
-The majority of oranges produces are used for juice.
-Oranges typically have ten segments.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bananas Foster Sundays

Awhile ago, my Aunt gave us these food clips. These food clips make an animal noise when you hold it open to clasp something. Well, I was using one of the food clips to seal a bag of cereal which made the monkey sounds. My son came into the kitchen to see what was going on. He told me that he heard his brother calling him. He is my little monkey and a very hungry boy. As expected from my son being a monkey, bananas are very popular at my house. To celebrate Mardi Gras, I figured I would attempt to make banana fosters. This dessert is very good. It may seem easy to make but it is easy to burn. My husband helped with igniting the flame. The kids thought it was very cool. 

Bananas Foster Sunday
4 Tbsp butter
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of grated nutmeg
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into quarters
1 nip of banana flavored liqueur
1 nip dark rum
Serve with vanilla ice cream, pound cake, whip cream and candied pecans and other desired toppings

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. 
  2. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little grated nutmeg.
  3. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the bananas and allow to cook for 2 minute. 
  5. Flip the bananas.
  6. Add the banana liqueur. Allow to cook until the bananas are brown.
  7. Remove the pan from the burner and add the rum.
  8. With a lighter, carefully ignite the rum. Allow the alcohol to burn while shaking the pan. Baste the bananas with the sauce.
  9. Serve the bananas with the sauce over desired toppings.
Recipe adapted from Emeril.

One year ago.........................I made Blini Pancakes.
Three years ago.....................I made Rosemary French Fries.
Did you already know...........
-To promote bananas, restaurant owner Owen Brennan asked his chief to create a recipe using bananas.
-Chief Paul Blange created the Bananas Foster recipe.
-The dessert was named for Richard Foster who was Mr. Brennan's friend and frequent customer to the restaurant.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Alright, I thought this would be an easy dessert to make. Oh, foolish me. Even with the purchase of the puff pastry dough, this recipe has a lot of steps. I made the pastry cream, whip cream, and icing. We thought it was great. Since Valentine's Day is approaching, I decided to skip the chocolate on top. If you want to make a fancy dessert, this is a great choice. Just remember to wash your berries and allow them to dry before placing them onto the whip cream unless you like the streak look.
Mille-feuille aka Napoleon
1 box of puff pastry sheets
frosting (recipe below)
Pastry Cream (click here)
Whip Cream (click here) 
1 box of fresh raspberries

  1. Defrost the puff pastry dough according to the package.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 equal pieces.
  5. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet.
  6. Cover with parchment paper.
  7. Place another cookie sheet on top and place a heavy oven proof dish on top.
  8. Bake the puff pastry dough for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Uncover and allow the dough to continue baking for another 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  11. Once cooled, place one piece of the puff pastry onto a wire rack.
  12. Evenly spread the white frosting on top of the puff pastry.
  13. With the red frosting, create designs on top of the white frosting by piping or dragging a knife through lines. Set aside to set.
  14. Place another piece of puff pastry on a serving dish.
  15. Spread the pastry cream over the first layer.
  16. Place the second layer of puff pastry on top of the pastry cream layer.
  17. On top of the second layer, spread the whip cream on top.
  18. Sprinkle fresh raspberries on top of the whip cream.
  19. Place the frosted piece of puff pastry on top of the raspberry layer.
  20. Refrigerate an hour before serving. 
Mille-Feuille recipe adapted from

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp milk

1 drop red food coloring

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the butter and milk. (Add additional milk if needed for the desired consistency).
  2. Remove 1/3 of the frosting and place into a small bowl.
  3. Add the red food coloring and mix.
Frosting recipe adapted from Culinary Couture

One year ago............................................I made Spartak Cake.
Two years ago..........................................I made Vanilla Cupcakes.
Three years ago.......................................I made Wild Mushroom Soup
Did you already know.........................
-Mille-feuille name means cake with thousands of layers.
-Another name for mille-feuille is Napoleon.
-The dessert was not named for Napoleon Bonaparte since it was named before Bonaparte was born. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Strawberry filling

Chocolate, strawberries, and whoopie -what more can one ask for this Valentine's Day? I even made the whoopie pies in a heart shape. I piped the batter onto the cookie sheet and filled the inside with more batter. The filling with the strawberries were a great addition.
Chocolate Whoopie Pie with strawberry filling
Chocolate Whoopie Pie:
8 Tbsp butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup cocoa powder
3 cups flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Mix until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the buttermilk and the baking soda. Mix until incorporated.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and flour. Mix until incorporated.
  7. Slowly, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  8. Scoop the batter with a ice cream scooper onto the parchment paper.
  9. Space the batter mounds about 3 inches apart. (Like cookie dough).
  10. Bake the batter for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris. 

Strawberry filling:
8 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. marshmallow fluff
1 lb. powdered sugar, whisked/sifted
1 cup strawberries, chopped fine
2 Tbsp milk

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter for a minute.
  2. Add the salt, vanilla, marshmallow fluff, powdered sugar, and strawberries.
  3. Stir until well combined. 
  4. Add a little milk at a time until the desired consistency. 
  5. (Add a little more powdered sugar if needed depending on the sweetness of the strawberries.)
  6. Add a scoop of the filling in between two whoopie cakes. 
  7. Gently press to sandwich the cakes to form a whoopie pie.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago............................I made Pirozhki Meat Pies.
Two years ago..........................I made Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
Three years ago.......................I made Nutella Molten Cake.
Did you already know...................
-The average strawberry has 200 seeds.
-The green top of the strawberry is called a calyx. 
-Madam Tallien (French Revolution aristocrat) was rumored to bath in strawberry juice.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Heart Peanut Butter Cups

I figured I would try making some homemade peanut butter cups for my honey. Since Valentine's Day is approaching, I figured I would make them in a heart shape. What a perfect Valentine to make instead of buying his traditional box of peanut butter cups. My daughter ate most of this dessert. She loved them. I told her she could easily make them since they are made by the microwave. My husband said they tasted just like the ones I buy him which is a nice compliment when you are trying to duplicate a recipe. If you are looking for something more handmade then bought for Valentine's Day, this is a nice gift.
Heart Peanut Butter Cups
1 (12 oz.) bag of milk chocolate chips
1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar plus more for the pan
1/8 tsp sea salt

  1. Spray a heart shape cookie pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Dust the pan with powder sugar.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips.
  4. Microwave the chocolate for two minutes. 
  5. Gently stir and allow the chocolate to sit for one minute. 
  6. Coat the bottom and sides of the cookie pan with the chocolate. 
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  8. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the peanut butter with the powdered sugar and salt.
  9. Microwave the peanut butter mixture for 1 minute.
  10. Spoon a little of the peanut butter mixture into the chilled chocolate cups. 
  11. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  12. Remicrowave the remaining harden chocolate for 30 to 60 seconds.
  13. Spoon the chocolate over the top of the peanut butter to cover. 
  14. Chill the chocolate until hardened. 
  15. If the chocolate isn't easily removed from the pan then carefully emerge the bottom of the pan into hot water. Make sure the chocolate doesn't touch the chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes.

One year ago.........................I made Borscht Soup.
Two years ago.......................I made Chinese Chicken Noodles.
Three years ago....................I made Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies.
Did you already know..........................
-In 1928, H. B. Reese (former shipping employee of Hersey's Chocolate) created the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
-In 1930, the Reese's Peanut Butter cups sold for $.01.
-In 1963, the Reese's company was sold to Hersey Chocolate Company.

Friday, February 6, 2015

PB Blossoms

My daughter had been asking for the peanut butter blossom cookies for weeks. She loved these cookies. I mean she loved them. The cookies had everything she loves peanut butter cups with peanut butter cookies. I thought I was making those rounded cookies with the kiss on top. The recipe I should have used was located on the back of the Hersey kiss package. Since these cookies were more flat, I figured I would top these with the heart shape peanut butter cups.
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
1/2 cup sugar plus more for rolling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
18 miniature heart peanut butter cups
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
  3. In large bowl, cream the sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, and egg until well blended.
  4. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Shape the dough into 2 inch balls. 
  6. Roll the dough into additional sugar to coat.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minute or until edges are light golden brown.
  8. Allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute. 
  9. Press 1 miniature peanut butter heart into the center of each cookie.
  10. Remove the cookies onto a cooling rack.
  11. Allow to cool before serving.
Recipe adapted from Betty  
One year ago.....................................I made Beef Stroganoff.
Two years ago...................................I made Health Bits Peanut Butter Cookies.
Three years ago.................................I made Teriyaki Beef.
Did you already know.........................
-Milk chocolate is the most popular chocolate.
-The average American eats over 10 lbs. chocolate a year.
-The average British eats over 19 lbs. chocolate a year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Amish White Bread

So, my daughter was asking my husband if she was nicer than her sister. He wisely wouldn't answer. Since she didn't like his answer, she complained to me. So, I asked her if I was nicer than her sister. She said, yes. I asked her if I was nicer than her Dad. She said yes. Then I asked her if there was anyone nicer than me. She replied no. So I said what about my sister. My daughter replied yes that my sister was nicer. I started laughing. She realized her mistake and tried to tell me that no one was nicer than me. I told her it was to late. Well, my daughter thought I was nice when I made her some homemade bread. This bread is very good. It is soft with a little sweetness. I used mini loaf pans for a cute change and a little different than store bought bread.
Amish White Bread
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

  1. Oil either 2 bread pans, 8 mini bread pans, or a muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and oil to the water mixture.
  4. Stir in one cup of flour at a time. 
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. 
  6. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough.
  7. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. 
  8. Punch down the dough.
  9. Knead for 2 minutes and then separate the dough into the desired prepared pans.
  10. Allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. 
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.

One year ago......................................I made Russian Meatballs.
Two years ago....................................I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes.
Three years ago..................................I made Buttermilk Cornbread.
Did you already know............................
-One bushel of wheat can produce about 42 pounds of white flour.
-Bread has been found in Egyptian tombs.
-In 1928, sliced bread was first sold in stores.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

Lately, my daughter has been on a reading kick. She reads all the time. I think it's great. My son, however, still needs to be persuaded to read. It is part of their homework. After my son reads, he is suppose to write a paragraph about what he wrote. I really think he hates the writing the most. He does like helping me in the kitchen and doesn't mind reading recipes to me. He helped with this dish. We really liked this dish a lot especially my husband. Any meal with rice is a winner according to my husband. Even with the broccoli, he still really liked it.
Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice
1 lb. broccoli florets, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and saute for a minute. 
  3. Increase the heat to medium high and add the chicken.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Brown the chicken. 
  6. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  7. Push the chicken to one side of the pan and add the other Tbsp of olive oil to the empty side.
  8. Add the uncooked rice to the olive oil side and saute for a couple of minutes.
  9. Stir in the chicken broth and white wine. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  10. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
  11. Allow the mixture to cook covered for 10 minutes.
  12. Stir in the broccoli and cover. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes. 
  13. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. 
  14. Sprinkle the other cup of cheese on top. Cover and allow to sit for 2 minutes for the cheese to melt.
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

One year ago..............................I made Oatmeal Batter Bread.
Two years ago............................I made Homemade White Loaf Bread.
Three years ago.........................I made Boston Baked Beans.
Did you already know........................
-Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family.
-The word broccoli is derived from the Italian word 'brocco' which means arm. 
-In 1990, President Bush banned broccoli on Air Force One.