Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Cake, Desserts, Food

Easy Peasy Pound Cake

This week marks the beginning of the official holiday season.  Like many of you, my calendar is filled with holiday commitments, most of which require a carry-in dish or baked treat to bring along to the party.  I really enjoy this time of year and I do my best to take advantage of a few stress-free tips that can really simplify things.  One such tip would be to choose recipes that are easy yet flavorful.  The recipe below includes ingredients that are nearly always on-hand in my kitchen. It’s adapted from a recipe that I found in an old community cookbook many years ago.  This one’s a no brainer for me… It always turns out perfect.  A few simple ingredients bake up a moist and flavorful, good ole’ fashioned, pound cake.  

Easy Peasy Pound Cake

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups butter

6 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

3/4 cup milk

Grease and flour a Bundt pan (take your time with this step, getting all of the softened butter and flour into all the nooks and crannies). DON’T PREHEAT THE OVEN.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla/almond extract and continue mixing well.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan.

Place cake into the oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Cake, Desserts, Food

Amish Snack Cake



Jeepers creepers, it sure is busy around here…

This happens every December as the temperatures drop, the snow starts to fall, and holiday celebrations begin.  

I recently attended an early morning co-worker’s meeting.  We only meet four times a year and our December meeting is more like a meeting/potluck lunch.  We discuss business during the morning hours and then celebrate the upcoming holidays with a carry-in lunch in the afternoon.  As a special breakfast treat, I had volunteered to bake a few items and run to a local coffee shop for a box of hot coffee for the crowd.

Well, to my dismay, it started to snow heavily the night before the event and I knew the snow would hamper my trip to the donut shop the following morning.  I decided that I would get up really early to throw my baked goods into the oven so that I could travel into town and onto the meeting in a timely manner.  I wanted to make an uncomplicated recipe with only a few ingredients to speed up the process so I grabbed my recipe file to look for a recipe that had appeared in the newspaper many years ago.  I had clipped it out and tucked it away for just such an occasion. For this simple recipe, I used a box of spice cake mix and a can of apple pie filling for two of the ingredients.  The addition of three eggs was all that was needed to finish off the batter.  I threw in a handful of chopped walnuts to add a bit of crunch.

Below you will find the basic recipe.  The addition of nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. will certainly add to the flavor and texture of the cake.  I’ve added a note with some classic flavor combinations if you would like to change things up a bit… Enjoy this moist and flavorful cake!



Amish Snack Cake

1 box cake mix, any flavor (I use spice cake mix)

3 large eggs, beaten

1 can pie filling, any flavor (I use apple pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and pie filling. Stir together until well blended.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake.  Cool completely before icing (if desired).

Other variations:

  • Chocolate cake mix with cherry pie filling and chocolate chips
  • Butter pecan cake mix with apple pie filling and nuts
  • Yellow cake mix with peach filling and walnuts
  • Pineapple cake mix with blueberry filling and coconut
  • Yellow cake mix with cherry filling
  • Spice cake mix with apple pie filling and walnuts
Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

  The grocery store was packed with holiday shoppers yesterday.  The warm sun and mild temperatures brought people out in light jackets and cropped pants.  I’m so happy that Spring has arrived in our part of the world.  

Like many of you, I’ve been baking goodies for the Easter weekend.  The local grocer had a huge display of overly ripened bananas on hand so I picked a decent selection of fruit and carted it home with me.  I headed to my trusty file to find one of my spring-time favorites. This scrumptious Banana Streusel Swirl Cake is absolutely delicious. I hope you have a chance enjoy this crunchy, sweet, delicate cake made with pecans, cinnamon, mashed bananas, and a convenient cake mix.  Happy Easter, Everyone!

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

Streusel:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cake:
1 package Yellow, Spice or Banana Cake Mix 

1 package vanilla instant pudding mix

4 eggs, slightly beaten

3-4 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10″ bundt pan.  
For the streusel: combine all 4 ingredients and stir well.  Set aside.

For the cake:  combine all 6 ingredients and mix by hand or with a mixer for 2 minutes.  Batter should be thick and well combined.

Pour half the batter into bundt pan.  Sprinkle streusel over batter.  Spread remaining batter over streusel. Gently swirl the batter with a butter knife in a circular motion.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 25 minutes.  Loosen sides of cake from pan and invert on a cake plate. If desired, frost with glaze and sprinkle with chopped pecans.



Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Cake, Food

Best Banana Cake Ever

During my weekly shopping trips, I usually purchase a load of bananas for quick breakfasts and simple snacks.  By the end of the week, the bright yellow and slightly green fruit has turned to more of a brown and yellow speckled mass of goodness. While some might pitch the ripe bananas in the trash, to me, these gorgeous specimens are best for baking.  The sugar becomes more concentrated and the texture of the banana lends a moist property to scrumptious treats baked in the oven. I often toss the brown fruit into the freezer, skins and all, so that they become even more flavorful and delicious. Just pull the frozen bananas out of the freezer a bit before baking, peel the slightly thawed fruit, mash, and add to your favorite banana based recipes.

Best Banana Cake Ever
1 package yellow or white cake mix (with directed ingredients – eggs, water, oil)
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Mash the bananas with the baking soda and stir into the cake mix batter. Pour batter into one greased and floured 9×13 inch baking pan. Do not preheat oven. Place uncooked cake in oven and turn oven on to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool thoroughly before frosting, slicing, and serving.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Desserts

Applesauce Spice Cake

Family Day at Purdue University brought us down to campus for a weekend of fun and football.  When looking over recipes to serve on the tailgate table, this applesauce cake caught my eye.  As many of you that frequently bake might testify, I rarely follow a recipe as it’s written.  I am constantly checking my stash of leftovers to see how they can be transformed into deliciously satisfying baked goods.  This week, I adapted an apple cake recipe that I found in an old community cookbook to create this moist, dense cake. I had made applesauce earlier in the week and I was looking for ways to use it up before having to freeze it.  This cake fit the bill and everyone enjoyed its apple and cinnamon spiced flavor.  The recipe is especially good with a cup of hot tea or coffee on a cool fall or winter day. 

Applesauce Spice Cake

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups applesauce (chunky or homemade style)

1 cup canola oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup whole oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray, with cooking spray, a 13×9 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, mix first six dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, and eggs; mix well.  Pour dry ingredients into applesauce mixture and combine until well blended.   Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle batter with oats and nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food

Quick Fix Brownies



We spent a beautiful day in Chicago on my brother’s boat yesterday. I volunteered to bring along some munchies so I turned to my favorite brownie recipe to add to the collection of appetizers and desserts.  These brownies hold up well when traveling and they slice into dense dark chocolatey squares, perfect for a family outing.  A regular cake mix is used for the brownie base.  This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please all of the chocolate lovers in your life!

Quick Fix Brownies

1 (18 1/4 oz) devil’s food or dark chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar 

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set the oven rack to the second-lowest position.  Spray with cooking spray a 13×9″ baking pan.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients except chocolate chips (and walnuts) until smooth.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, if desired; mix to combine. Spread batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes (do not over bake).   Cool completely before frosting with a frosting of your choice.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Desserts

Easy Blueberry Upside Down Cake





This time of year, there are plenty of local blueberry farms lining the county roads throughout the Midwest.  In early July, rustic hand painted signs announce the arrival of a new blueberry crop at many of these farms.  Last Sunday, I stopped at one such farm to gather a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.  To my surprise, there were “slim pickings” available for sale. The unprecedented soggy, Midwest rains and cooler summer temperatures have made a bit of a mesh of things.  When I asked if they had any blueberries for sale, the owner expressed her disappointment as she said the crop was a bit overripe and the berries seemed uncharacteristically  soft.  I usually bring home a 25 pounds box, but instead, I purchased only two pints.  Hopefully, I can visit another stand with a bit more success.

For a quick summer treat, I assembled this incredibly easy recipe that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.  It’s much like a traditional upside down cake that usually includes pineapple.  Instead, a few cups of berries are used to top the tender butter cake.  I hope you’ll give this simple recipe a try. It seems the flavor grows as the cake sits for a bit.

Easy Blueberry Upside Down Cake

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 package yellow or butter cake mix + recipe eggs, oil, and water

1 teaspoon almond extract

Coat the bottom of a 13×9″ baking dish with butter; sprinkle with brown sugar and blueberries. Prepare cake batter according to package directions.  Add almond extract, mix well.  Evenly spread the batter over the blueberries.

Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate. If desired, serve warm with ice cream.  

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, holiday, No-Bake

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

  
This weekend, we had the pleasure of visiting my sister and her family for the July 4th holiday. One of the activities that we enjoy most is remaking recipes that have become a tradition in our family. This no-bake cake is a winner. The July 4th weather is usually warm and breezy so the ice cream cake is a refreshing treat after a long day of grilling, baseball, and fireworks. Just pop the finished cake into the freezer at the start of the day and it will be waiting for you when you want to sit down and enjoy time with family and friends. What a great, no fuss, dessert!

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

1 package (20 oz.) Oreo cookies

1/4 cup margarine, melted

1 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1 package (8 oz.) Cool Whip (thawed)

1 jar (16 oz.) hershey’s hot fudge or chocolate syrup

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups or your favorite chocolate candy, optional

Lightly spray, with cooking spray, a 9×13″ pan. Crush cookies in the food processor or put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Add melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Carefully spread the softened ice cream over the cookies. Evenly layer on the Cool Whip. Warm the fudge or chocolate until pourable in the microwave and drizzle over the Cool Whip. Sprinkle nuts over the entire cake. (Add the mini candies, optional.) Freeze for at least two hours or until firm. Enjoy!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Cranberry and Pecan Glazed Donuts



For the longest time, I’ve wanted to try making baked donuts. This past Christmas, I ordered two donut baking pans to put under the tree as a gift to myself.  (How many moms out there have done that before?)

I did my homework before ordering the pans…  I wanted something that was non-stick and had no seams in the donut bed so that the batter could lay evenly without getting trapped in the metal seam.  I found the perfect pans at Norpro.  

This past week, as my oldest daughter celebrated a birthday, I decided to make a tray of donuts in lieu of a traditional cake. She was scheduled to have back surgery the afternoon of her birthday and I wanted to bring a special bite-sized treat along so that she could nibble on a mini-birthday-donut the morning of the procedure.  

As I scoured my cookbooks and kitchen files for a suitable recipe, I spied a boxed muffin mix that carried a small picture of a basket of mini-donuts posted on the back of the package.  To my surprise, the recipe posted beside the picture was for baked donuts.  I thought…well, let’s give this a try.

So after a few alterations, I came up with this recipe adapted from Krusteaz Guilt Free Baked Donuts.





Sweet Cranberry and Pecan Glazed Donuts

Donuts:

1 package Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Fat Free Muffin Mix

1 can cranberries (enclosed in the box), drained and liquid reserved

3/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon almond extract

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Reserved cranberry liquid

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray with cooking spray, the donut baking pans.  For the donuts:  In a medium bowl, carefully stir together the muffin mix, cranberries, orange juice and extract.  Combine just until blended.  Place the batter in a gallon-sized sealable bag (or a pastry bag). Snip the plastic bag 1/8″ from the corner.  Evenly pipe the batter into the mini-donut baking pans.  Bake 8-12 minutes or until donuts spring back when touched.  Cool and remove to wire rack.  

For icing:  Place all icing ingredients (except nuts) in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle or dip donuts into the icing then sprinkle with chopped nuts.  

Note:  I also used the regular sized donut baking pan for this recipe.  Alter baking time by adding 10 minutes or until light golden brown and donuts spring back when touched.









Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Cake, Desserts

Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf



As the early spring weather brings the hope for a bumper crop of beautiful berries, green speared asparagus, and long stalks of leafy rhubarb, I’m always reminded of this recipe for Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf…

Years ago, when my children were young, I owned a home daycare that would serve the purpose of caring for neighborhood children (along with my own) and helped to bring in a little extra money in the process.  I must admit, the days were long and the children were often more work than I expected but every day brought with it a new set of rewards and cherished experiences.  

One early evening, just before a holiday weekend, a parent arrived late to pick up her only son.  She apologized for her tardiness and placed a cellophane wrapped Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf on the kitchen table before leaving.  She had presented it as a token of appreciation and as an Easter gift.   

That evening, I sliced the loaf and placed it on our dinner table to be served with our Good Friday meal. I served the loaf with a big pot of tea and was delighted with its moist and flavorful texture as the loaf was chocked with plump berries and crunchy pecans.  I quickly made a note to ask this parent for the recipe.  She obliged and I’ve cherished it ever since.  


Strawberry & Pecan Tea Loaf

2 cups fresh strawberries, diced

3 cups flour

2 cups + 2 teaspoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray, two 9 x 5″ loaf pans. Place strawberries in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with 2 teaspoons of sugar; set aside.

Combine flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl; mix well. Mix oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, mixing until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in chopped pecans. Divide batter into pans.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaves comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto wire racks; cool completely before slicing.