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.

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Butternut Squash Salad in a Jar

I’m always looking for a “silver lining” when I’m inconvenienced or when things just don’t seem to be going my way.  Recently, I found that silver lining in a major road construction project that closed a through-fare  that I frequented on my daily jaunt back and forth to work.  Because of the construction, a detour took me down a winding country road that was quite scenic as the fall landscape was beautiful.  Tucked in among the oak trees and farm land sat a roadside farm stand that was bursting at the seams with an abundance of cool weather vegetables, plump ripe tomatoes, and an assortment of peppers.  The entire front yard displayed a sea of beautiful orange pumpkins where families strolled to pick out a few of their favorites.  I had my eyes on the butternut squash as I pulled my vehicle to the side of the road. Hand written prices were scrawled on a mini chalkboard that was propped up against the old wooden flat bed wagon. A tin can was laid out for patrons to square up their bill and honestly leave the amount due.  It was like a blast from the past.  I was thrilled to have found this quiet piece of paradise alongside the road construction and the hectic traffic of the day. 

Arriving home, I searched the web for a delicious looking recipe where I could use my butternut squash.  I stumbled on this salad in a jar recipe and immediately gathered the ingredients I would need for the colorful dish. I chose this recipe because of the maple syrup in the dressing.  We tapped our trees this past spring and I wanted to use our own maple syrup with the other dressing ingredients.  I made a few slight changes to the recipe…  Instead of pepitas, I used sunflower seeds and instead of the quinoa, I used couscous. I used a container of field greens for the salad mix.  This is a delicious recipe that I will be sure to make again.  Here’s the link for this “Fall Mason Jar Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing”…

https://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/2015/09/14/fall-mason-jar-salad-with-maple-balsamic-dressing/

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade



When I grill chicken, I usually use a bottled marinade to flavor and tenderize the meat.  Well, this week I ran out of my favorite supermarket brand and decided to revisit an old recipe of my own.  I often pair this marinade with a few finely chopped slices of pineapple to give it a Hawaiian flair.  A hearty helping of rice and vegetables works great with this teriyaki grilled chicken dish.

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons white vinegar

 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, graded

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, optional

In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, oil, onions, garlic, and ginger. Whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Add optional pineapple.  Using a plastic bag or covered container.  Pour mixture over chicken pieces and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.  Grill or bake chicken until a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup



Another school year begins…

Our daughter is beginning her clinical year up in Evanston, IL.  Once again, we loaded up all of her belongings to move her into a cute little apartment, not far from the “Purple Line” in a beautiful part of town, just outside the Northwestern University campus.  The cool breezes off the shores of Lake Michigan have made for an unseasonably cooler summer.  

After settling her into the apartment, we walked into town to find a local place to eat lunch.  We spotted an adorable restaurant called The Farmhouse-Evanston.  The menu touted local foods, brews, and seasonal fare.  With a chill in the air, the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich sounded wonderful. My daughter ordered it without hesitation.  All through the meal, she raved about the creamy soup and hearty, three-cheese sandwich.  

After returning home, I was inspired to make a big pot of flavorful tomato soup for the family. What a treat.  This recipe makes enough to serve the whole clan with extras to pack into containers for weekday lunches.

…Outstanding soup!  Don’t forget to garnish with pieces of garlic toast, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large white onion, chopped

2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

3 teaspoons chicken soup base

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup half and half

6 – 8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, do. It over cook.  Add onion; stir and cook until translucent.

Add the two can of tomatoes with juice, chicken base, water, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12-15 minutes. Add the half & half, basil, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.

Using an immersion blender,  puree soup until smooth. Serve immediately with a hearty grilled cheese sandwich or a fresh salad.



Back To School Blueberry Bread

It’s that time of year again… Back to school!   This is a great quick bread loaf to bake in quantity and pop in the freezer for lunchbox treats throughout the year.  We recently visited our daughter who has started her clinical year at a hospital in Illinois.  I brought along an assortment of quick breads that I carefully sliced and individually wrapped for the freezer.  This way, she can take out one slice at a time and pack it into her lunch bag for a morning snack or a lunchtime treat. As I think back to all of the blueberry recipes I’ve made for the family, this one is surely a winner!



Back to School Blueberry Bread

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon peel

GLAZE:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar or 1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well. Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon peel.

Transfer to a greased 9X5″ loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Continue to cool on a wire rack.  

Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely before slicing.



Cranberry Walnut and Buttermilk Muffins

After an enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I am often faced with a bit of leftover buttermilk as it is one of the main ingredients in my Irish Scones and Irish Bread recipes. This year was no different. Over the last few days, every time I open the fridge, I notice a half-filled jug of buttermilk that will need to be used before it expires. 

As spring is just around the corner,  I decide to make one of my favorite muffin recipes.  This recipe is moist and flavorful due to the addition of buttermilk. The sweet taste of cranberries and walnuts combined with the buttermilk and orange juice concentrate make for a fresh start to the day. Substituting yogurt or sour cream is definitely an option if you don’t have buttermilk on hand.  Remember, you can always add an acidic ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk in order to make your own substitute for buttermilk.  Don’t miss the recipe for cranberry butter at the bottom of the post as it is DELICIOUS and really makes this muffin recipe extra special.

Cranberry Nut and Buttermilk Muffins

1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

3⁄4 cup sugar, divided

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup butter

1 egg

1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk 

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 tablespoons old fashioned oats (optional)

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)

Combine cranberries, walnuts, and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  With a fork or pastry blender, cut cold butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a medium bowl, beat together egg, buttermilk and orange juice concentrate.  Add the liquid and sweetened cranberries to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened; do not over mix.  Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Lightly sprinkle with old fashioned oats and seeds (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 23-27 minutes.  For mini-muffins, bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

If you are so inclined, here is a recipe for cranberry butter that tastes delicious slathered over the warm muffins…

Creamy Cranberry Butter
1 cup cranberries, finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar

1⁄2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice

Purée cranberries in a blender; add remaining ingredients and  process until smooth.  Refrigerate.

Crispy Ginger Snaps

There’s nothing like a quiet weekend morning when all in the house are still asleep.  I so enjoy tiptoeing through the kitchen to watch  the sun come up while sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee.  I use this time to plan weekly meals and search my “kitchen file” for clipped recipes from years past that I’ve been wanting to try again.  This “kitchen file” holds recipes from my college days, the early years of marriage, the harried years of raising young children, and the middle aged years of managing a busy work schedule.  My recipe interests seem to morph depending on my stage of life.  During my college years, my favorite recipes were quick and inexpensive.  During the early ears of marriage, my favorite recipes showcased new and interesting ingredients.  While raising my young children, as I had three children within one year, it was mandatory that my recipes be quick and easy!  Now, in my middle aged years, I’m all about prepping for a week’s worth of meals so I don’t have to fuss too much after a long day of work.

I think you’ll enjoy this recipe as my family seems to grab these cookies for any occasion.  An “on the go” breakfast with a cup of tea, an afternoon snack, or a quick evening dessert…   Delicious!

This is the version I make most often but I have also posted a link for a low sugar version that is delicious as well.

 

Crispy Ginger Snaps

 

1 cup oat bran flour

1 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

1/4 cup turbinando sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat bran,flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, allspice and cloves. Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the margarine, butter, and brown sugar and coconut sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Next, add the molasses and egg, beat until fully combined.  Add the flour/oat bran mixture to the wet ingredients; mix until combined.

In a small bowl, pour in the turbinado sugar.  Roll the dough into 1″ balls, then roll in the sugar. Place on a baking sheet roughly 2″ apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Slightly cool before removing from baking sheets to cool completely.

For a healthier version of this recipe try this website…

http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/12/11/soft-baked-ginger-cookies/