Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pie Day at School....

Teenagers...can't they make it for themselves???  That's OK. Luckily I LOVE to bake.  So this is what my 16 year old son is taking to school tomorrow - Peanut Butter Pie.  Oh! Not just any peanut butter pie.  MY peanut butter pie.  If I could enter into the Pillsbury Bake-Off I would.  But I don't think I have enough of the ingredients.  So here you go...I will share it with the world.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie


Chocolate Crust
3/4 cup plus 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa (can omit)
Heat oven to 400°F. In medium bowl, mix all crust ingredients until soft dough forms. Press firmly and evenly against bottom and side of ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 30 minutes.

Pie Filling
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder
In medium bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, & cocoa powder with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Pour and spread on crust. Refrigerate about 2 hours.

Topping
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream over medium heat until hot (do not boil); remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle chocolate mixture over filling.
Garnish top with peanuts.
Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
Store covered in refrigerator.


My son tells me the kids LOVED it!  It's nice to get a text from a teenage boy just to hear that!  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What To Do With Animals..Oh I Mean Animal Crackers

Did you ever buy those humongous bags of non frosted animal crackers?  Yeah..not the cookies, but the plain old crackers.  We are talking...no frosting..purely plain?
Well...here you go....


Animal Cracker Truffles
2 cups crushed animal crackers
1 8 oz cream cheese
Combine in food processor.  Roll into walnut size balls.
12 oz melted white chocolate.
Dip balls into white chocolate.  Sprinkle, if desired, with non perils, etc. Set in fridge until candy coating is hard.  Refrigerate leftovers.
Yields about 10 - 12, Depending on the size of ball you roll.


And to be fair to the other animals....I am sure the frosted ones would taste just as good!  Just sweeter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Traditions that Don't Cease...Babka

Babka  (Grandma Polak's Recipe)
Our family favorite for Easter!  A tradition that I have carried on for years.
2 packages yeast
2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups scalded milk (whole milk works best)
1 cup butter or margarine
8 cups flour
4 eggs
Raisins

Dissolve the yeast and salt in the water, set aside for about 5 minutes
To scalded milk, add the butter and sugar.  Let it cool.  Then add eggs.  
Pour yeast mixture into milk mixture.
Add 4 cups of flour.  Mix well.  Add raisins.
Continuing adding  flour, kneading while adding,  until it feels smooth and not very sticky.
Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap then a towel.
Let rise until double.
Punch down, add more flour, knead a few times.
Cover again, let rise.
Punch down, add more flour, knead a few times.
Form into loaves. 
Place into greased tins*
Cover, let rise the third time.
Preheat oven 350°F.  Place in middle of oven and bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow.
After you take it out of the oven, rub butter on the top.

*tins:  grandma  made round loaves.  She shaped it and baked it on a cookie sheet.  I am bad at shaping loaves so I use an 8" cake pan - works great.  I also use loaf pans.

I have used this recipe for years.  This has not failed since I learned to dissolve the yeast with the salt. Yeast needs to be feed with either sugar or salt to ferment.  So if you don't do this...your yeast won't work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Babies

And so...





Miss Avalynn Rose was born at 36 weeks and 1 day on April 17 at 11:56 PM.  Weighing in at a small size of 7 # 1 oz and stretched to 18 inches.  She is gorgeous.  She is my grand baby!






Tomorrow (Thursday April 21) is THE day.....this sweet little girl and her parents will be back in our home.  We just finished the room - redid the texture, paint, hardwood floor instead of carpet.  It is so gorgeous.  They will be so excited, as we will be, to have them here!  We still have work to do..closet and baseboards.

We went to the hospital to see them tonight.  Avalynn had her eyes open for a few minutes just peeking at the world.  I rocked and held her.  Oh how sweet to hold a baby in my arms...(other than my sweet JuJu who is almost 11).

So she is here for Easter Weekend..to join with us her very first one.  Plus we will have Daniel's children..Hailey & Hunter..our home could not be more joyous!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Is Coming...Easter Is Coming...


Sarah saw the Easter Bunny several years ago.  So even at the age of 19, she believes!  We ALL need to believe in something.  I believe in providing a fantastic Easter Dinner for my family. 
Our weekend will start off with an Easter Egg Hunt at the Benjamin Park.  It starts at 9 AM SHARP.  It ends at 9:05...lol.  Then we will come back and color our eggs.  So much fun.
Lunch...ummm..haven't decided.  But dinner will be at Grandpa Singleton's.  POTLUCK.  I think I am bringing Frog Eye Salad and Cupcakes.
To end the night...an Easter Egg Hunt in the Dark!
Then we have Sunday..our traditional egg hunt.  Followed by....Easter Dinner.  Yes!  The Easter Bunny will make a visit in there sometime along the way.
Oh I so look forward to Easter Dinner with my family.  I love to cook the big meal. Our Easter Menu  oh it is still pending, but likely not to change too much...

2011 Easter Dinner
Ham
(only from The Honey Baked Ham Store)
Cheesy Potatoes
Keilbasa
Eggs
(maybe some will be deviled)
Rainbow Jell-o
Orange Creamsycle Mousse
Baked Beans
Steamed Baby Carrots with Parsley
Bobka
(Polish Easter Bread)
Strawberry Cream Bars


I would care to know what YOUR Easter Dinner tradition is......  Really?  I thought about changing ours up, but the most I could ever change is the jell-o salads and dessert and kielbasa.  The rest remains to be the Singleton Family Easter Menu.  Quite honestly, the Kielbasa is new to us in Utah.  Growing up..we always had FRESH kielbasa for Easter.  That was the only time of year you could find it in New York..at least where I grew up.  And still, according to my dad, is still the only time of year you can find it.  He was sweet enough to OVERNIGHT me some last year.  Oh!  My kids loved it. Didn't get it yet this year, but I have a ring of hit wrapped supper tight in the freezer from last year.  I am hoping it still tastes great.
I did manage to make three batches of bobka.  I sent one to New York to my family.  Baked beans are done.  Potatoes are boiled and in fridge waiting to get shredded for the cheesey potato casserole. Let's see....eggs are colored!  So beautiful too.  Another tradition we keep alive.
I always remember my grandparents and their kids (one of which was my mom) making fresh horseradish for Easter.  It went on the kielbasa and their eggs.  I am NOT a fan of horseradish.
BTW..FRESH kielbasa...oh so different from smoked.  Oh man!  So much better tasting too!
Well, enjoy your Easter, as I know I will! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthday Birthday Every Day, I'd Love It Even Today...

The more the birthdays, the more I get to bake cakes and EXPERIMENT!  Oh yeah!  Make my day..just ask me to bake you something.  I did a cake for my friend at work...  kind of like a Turtle cake, but not. Similar to my daughter's cake, but not.... 
Here goes..just start off with the Chocolatetown Cake.  While that is cooling, make the Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.  Remove one cup of frosting and add 1/4 cup caramel syrup.  (OK!  I make my own, but you can use an caramel ice cream topping).  Mix the syrup with the one cup frosting.  Use that between the layers.  Drizzle some more caramel on top of the filling.   Next, place the other cake on top.  Finish frosting with reserved frosting.
Now, the fun part - cover with chocolate ganache and let it drip down the sides.  Drizzle with more caramel syrup and  place chopped Snicker bars on top.  (You can even put chopped Snickers in the filling!).

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream  ( I use whipping cream)
2 cups semi sweet morsels
Heat cream until bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Add morsels.  Stir until smooth.  Cool for a few minutes.

Viola!  Another cake, another birthday.  what kind of cake do YOU want?  I would love to DESIGN one for you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Would It Be Like...

I always wondered what it would be like...

  • To get a good night sleep
  • To be rich
  • To not have to work
  • To do MY Favorite Things
  • To be young again
  • To always be healthy
  • To heal faster
  • To be and look beautiful
  • To be happy all the time
  • To be the PERFECT Mom
  • To always eat healthy
  • Never eat sugar
  • To......What are YOUR thoughts on this??


Tonight I am making Blueberry Coffee Cake for breakfast.  My oldest is turning 21 and she loves coffee cake and blueberries.  I love to surprise my children.

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Thing My Grandma Polak Taught Me..Amongst a Zillion Other Things...

You are not kidding when people say that the older you get, the more wise you can get.  My Grandma Polak was an AMAZING woman.  My most vivid memories of her were ALWAYS surrounded by FOOD!  In one way or another..FOOD!  Like the hot summer days when she would always have on hand..fudge bars and creamsycles.
Staying home from school was great..Mom would drop me off on her way to work at my Grandma's.  What was for lunch that day...the greatest..Swanson TV Dinner.  Oh yes!  Not the new ones you can pop into the microwave...on no!  We are talking the original in the FOIL TRAYS.  And not just any one..it had to be the Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes.
Oh yes..The Price is Right..A must TV Game Show to watch.  That even after all these years, I still enjoy it.  Oh and my children do too.
So many other fond memories..Easter time..homemade horseradish. And even better yet..Bobka...Our families Polish Easter Bread.  (And if I forgot to tell you...I am 1/4 Polish..came from my Grandfather Polak's side)
CriscoAny whoot!...Bobka...I still make it today and only for Easter.
Gold Medal All PurposeOne thing my Grandma taught me about cooking.  "Dee Dee", she would say, "Use the best ingredients." So I copied her...two things my grandma ALWAYS used - Crisco Shortening and Gold Medal Flour!  So be it.  Come into my kitchen and see what you find!  So I carry on those same values and use REAL butter and REAL vanilla in my recipes. Grandma was RIGHT..using the BEST really does matter.  So don't cheat yourself and make that purchase of inferior products just to save a "nickel".  It's NOT worth it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

As Our Children Get Older, I'm Told We Get Younger.....

Celebration Time..Oh yes!  My oldest turns 21.  A tradition in our home is..if it is YOUR birthday, you get to choose your birthday  "cake".  And I say cake loosely..we've ended with pie on SEVERAL occasions.  This year, Liz wanted a chocolate cake with raspberry cream filling.  Chocolate Cake..so my specialty. I use ONE recipe  and one only for birthdays.  I found it YEARS ago..Hershey's Chocolatetown Cake.  I substitute sour cream though for the butter milk many times.  It actually comes out even more moist.  The key to this one..just don't OVER BAKE.  It is perfectly moist and delectable.
So here goes.....

Birthday Cake in the Making - Happy 21st My Sweet Elizabeth.  I know your dreams will come true
You may think this is a long hard recipe, but it is so easy and so elegant.  You will make it over and over...I promise.
If I were you, I'd start with the puree for the Raspberry Whipped Cream.  You can make it ahead of time.

Raspberry Puree (Sauce):
2 cups frozen raspberries(unsweetened)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice(optional)

Thaw the unsweetened frozen raspberries in a large fine meshed strainer suspended over a large bowl.  (This may take a few hours.)  Once the berries have completely thawed, force the juice from the berries by gently pressing the berries with the back of a large spoon.  All that should remain in the strainer is the raspberry seeds.  Throw away the raspberry seeds and, to the strained juice, stir in the lemon juice (if using) and 1/4 cup of white sugar (or to taste).  Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

OK..now the cake... With this cake, as you should with ALL chocolate cakes..use cocoa powder instead of flour to coat your pans.

Chocolatetown Cake 
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour (use cocoa powder) two   8 or 9" cake pans  (you can also  use 9x13, but not for this incredibly looking birthday cake..)

½ Cup cocoa powder
½ Cup boiling water
2/3 Cup shortening
1 ¾ Cups sugar
1Tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 ¼ Cups flour
1 ½ Tsp baking soda
½ Tsp salt
1 1/3 Cups buttermilk (or sour cream)

Stir together cocoa & water, set aside. 
Cream shortening, sugar, vanilla in large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, beat well.
Mix dry ingredients together and mix well.  Add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. 
Fold in chocolate.  Pour into pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes., or until cake tester comes out clean. Cupcakes, about 20 minutes.   Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan(s). Cool completely, frost as desired

Yes!  Frost as desired.  And I will give you some ideas, but for this cake, it is specific!  First we are filling with Raspberry Cream between the layers.  

Raspberry Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
raspberry puree 
In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Then add the sweetened raspberry puree or raspberry jam, a little at a time, and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.  

Spread within a 1/2 inch of the edges. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes so the filling is set somewhat.  It will help when you frost the cake.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.  Frost.


Again...refrigerate for about 30 minutes so the frosting set somewhat.  It will help when you pour the ganache on top.

Ganache:
12 oz white chocolate morsels or candy melts, white
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Heat whipping cream in saucepan just to boiling point. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add chopped Candy Melts, stir until smooth and glossy. Cool about 10 minutes.  It needs to be pourable and spreadable.
Pour on top of cake and spread allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.



20110410151413.jpg



This cake needs to be refrigerated due to the cream filling.  But I would set it out 30 minutes before serving.
You can see the beautiful White Ganache
 drizzled down the sides of the cake.
~~~~~~~~~~~***~~~~~~~~~~~~
Icing on the Cake..so they say.  I promised frosting ideas for this incredible chocolate cake....

CHOCOLATE FUDGE FROSTING
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. Hershey's cocoa
2 2/3 c. confectioners' sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Pour into small mixer bowl; cool completely. Add confectioners' sugar alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Blend in vanilla. Makes 2 cups.
VARIATION:  Add 1 TB Flavored Coffee Creamer...Irish Creme, Caramel..use your IMAGINATION!


PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place butter and peanut butter  in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

WHITE CHOCOLATE FROSTING
3 oz white chocolate baking bars or squares, chopped
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 cups powdered sugar

In small microwaveable bowl mix 3 oz white chocolate and 3 tablespoons cream, microwave uncovered on High for 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Cool 10 to 15 minutes
In medium bowl, beat butter and 2 cups of the powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add white chocolate mixture; blend well. Add remaining powdered sugar, beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake.




Saturday, April 9, 2011

Did You Say S'More..and yes you will want some more

Oh it can't be Springtime yet..snow is falling.  But these sweet treats will bring a smile to your face.


Spring Time  S'Mores Bars

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 12 oz bag white chocolate morsels
1/2 cups miniature colored marshmallows*
1 box Girl Scout Trefoils ( or sub any other shortbread cookie) broken into bite size pieces
Directions
LINE 9-inch-square baking pan with heavy-duty foil.
HEAT cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbles appear around edges. Remove from heat. Add morsels; stir until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes. Add marshmallows; stir to coat. Gently stir in cookie pieces until combined.
SPREAD mixture into prepared pan; press down lightly. Refrigerate until set  or cover and  let set on counter.  Cut into bars.
* I used Bunny Shape marshmallows

Start Planting Your Garden...Reap The Reward

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

#1 Grate and set aside:
Zucchini to yield 2 cups

#2 Mix Together, then set aside:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

#3 Mix together and set aside:
2 1/2 cups flour
4 TB cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp each: salt, baking soda, baking powder

#4 Cream:
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup oil (can substitute applesauce)
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (can use 3 egg whites instead)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F      Grease 9x13 pan

Mix all together except  #2.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle with #2 on top.  Bake 45 minutes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wake Up Call!

Who needs coffee, Oops! caffeine in the AM when you can have Java Jolts...

Java Jolts
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 TB instant coffee granules, (flavored is best - hazelnut)
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (or hazelnut syrup)
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts, optional
Topping, see below (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (165 degrees C). Sift together the flour, cocoa,  baking soda, salt, & coffee.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla and egg until light and creamy.
Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. With a wooden spoon - mix in the nuts.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoon  onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.  After cooled, drizzle with topping and sprinkle with additional nuts.

Topping:
1 cup semi sweet morsels
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/8 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, optional
Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan and melt over med heat.  Stir constantly.  Remove from stove.  Cool about 10 minutes.  Put into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a small hole in the corner or pastry bag and drizzle over cookies.  Then, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.