Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 2009 Gathering at Janet's

Fall has arrived in Houston! We missed Teresa this time, but we are all looking forward to our special celebration with her next month.

Now that we can walk outside without melting, it seemed a good time to prepare some seasonal dishes to celebrate. Janet got the ball rolling with our main dish recipe, roasted pork and apples with cider glaze.

Tonya chose to bring an appetizer, crostini with roasted garlic, goat cheese and apple chutney.

Carol went all out with a soup AND salad, and both were delicious. The butternut bisque and pear, roquefort, pecans and mixed greens with celery vinaigrette recipes are by the Dining Diva, Molly Fowler.

Angie rounded out the entree with two side dishes, sweet-roasted rosemary acorn squash wedges and brussel sprout salad with pancetta and cranberries.

Mary, who is queen of donuts and desserts and still fits into those slim blue jeans, brought cinnamon roll bread pudding ... who wouldn't love that?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Bananas that need to be eaten usually drive my weekend baking. I flipped through my "to be tried" recipe pile and found this recipe for Healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins. As I have fresh blueberries frozen, this recipe seemed to fill my needs.

As I normally do, I modified it. (on a side note.. I recently read an article by a chef where she says to modify recipes before you make them the first time if you want... some people say to make it "as is" first, and THEN modify, but she said go ahead and do what you want. I like her.) I added some shredded coconut and pecans. Not too crazy, just adding more to the "Healthy" part.

The muffins were excellent and I will make them again!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Husband, the Chef

My status as pastry chef for the household is in jeopardy!

Joe made a pumpkin crumb cake last week. It was so delicious we ate it before I got a chance to take a photo.

Today, he baked an apple cake. He must be quite pleased with himself, because he has decided to rename it Saddle Creek Apple Cake, after our street. This recipe comes from a book my Mom gave me, Cooking Texas Style. The master chef thought a glaze might enhance the dessert, so he tested that out on one half of the cake.

He e-mailed me a photo of the finished cake while I was still at work, so I was dying to get home to try it. It was so moist and delicious! I am incredibly impressed that my husband baked any cake, especially one that did not even involve a cake mix.

Saddle Creek Apple Cake

A moist, delicious cake chock full of goodies that makes a wonderful gift-giving cake, especially in the fall when thoughts turn to cool weather, apple harvest time and mulled cider.

2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum
3 cups raw apples, diced
half cup raisins
half cup nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube (bundt) pan.
Beat the eggs well.
Add the sugar and beat again.
Add the vegetable oil and beat until smooth.
Sift together salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour.
Add to the egg mixture.
Blend in vanilla and rum.
Fold in apples, raisins and nuts.
Bake for approximately 1.5 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The best lemon cake ever

I am bringing a cake for a cake walk tomorrow at my church's fall festival and I wanted something "hearty" and portable. I also wanted something that reminds me of summer, which is almost over. I saw this Lemon Cake on Ina's show the other day and it looked wonderful. And, it makes 2 loaves, so I get to eat one and still give one away.

As the reviews state, read the directions carefully as some items are divided between the cake and the syrup and that's not overly obvious.

September, 27, 2009 Gathering

We had a super September gathering on the 27th. Tonya was not with us, enjoying some family time.

It was a comfort foods theme. While some of my comfort foods are tater tots and fish sticks, we were a little more gourmet.

Appetizer (Janet) – Cranberry Salsa served both over cream cheese with crackers and alone with tortilla chips. It was very yummy both ways. Fresh, sweet and tangy and such a pretty color.

Bread and Wine (Carol) - A trio of breads! Parmesan Herb Rolls, Rebecca Rather's Beer Bread (my second favorite) and Rather Rich Corn Muffins (my favorite!) All were very good and we could have made a meal from just this basket.

Parmesan Herb Rolls
Makes 1 dozen
1 c grated Parmesan cheese ( I grabbed the wrong container--I had Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano)
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried tarragon
1tsp garlic salt
1 pkg frozen yeast bread dough, thawed ( I use Rhode's frozen rolls)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, onion, oregano, tarragon, and garlic salt. Set aside.Cut 36 (1 inch) pieces of dough. Roll each piece in melted butter and then in cheese mixture.Place three balls into each muffin cup. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 12 - 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Rebecca Rather's Beer Bread
3 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1tsp salt
3 T sugar
1 (12 oz.) bottle good quality beer or ale
1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour in beer and stir until incorporated. The dough will be sticky and heavy. Pour half the melted butter into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spoon in the bread dough and pour the remaining half of the butter on top. Bake 50 - 60 minutes until the bumpy top is golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.
Variation: can add chopped chives, child peppers such as jalapenos, green onions, or any grated cheese.
Rather Rich Corn Muffins
Yield: About 2 dozen
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 coarse cornmeal plus extra to sprinkle over
1 cup sugar ( can use 1/2 of sugar if you don't want so sweet)
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
optional -- add 1 cup fresh corn kernels or 1 canned corn, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups or line them with muffin papers. Pour the butter, cream, and eggs into the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top. Mix at medium speed just until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Stir the corn into the batter. Using a medium sized scoop, fill the muffin cups abut 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle cornmeal over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 12 - 15 minutes, until lightly brown.
Muffins should spring back when you touch the top slightly with your fingertips. They are best served warm, and equally delicious toasted with butter. Tips: This batter can be refrigerated in a covered container for 3 days and baked just before serving. Be sure to add 3 to 5 minutes to the baking to compensate for the temperature of the refrigerated muffin batter.

Salad (Angie) - Parmesan, Walnut & Arugula Baskets. Parmesan cheese and walnuts were heated in a skillet then draped over a small bowl to make little baskets. The baskets can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an air-tight container. The salad was very simple and instead of arugula I used a spring mix with baby spinach. I also toasted the walnuts that were in the salad.

Parmesan, Walnut & Arugula Baskets
Taste of Home
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
4 cups fresh arugula or spring mix salad greens
1/2 cup green grapes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese and 1 teaspoon walnuts over the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 seconds. Using a spatula, carefully remove cheese mixture and immediately drape over an inverted glass with a 2-in. diameter bottom; cool completely. Repeat with remaining cheese and walnuts, forming six baskets. For salad, in a large bowl, combine the arugula, grapes and walnuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over arugula mixture; toss to coat. Place 1/2 cup salad in each basket. Yield: 6 servings.

Side (Mary) - Corn Pudding with Poblanos. This was so yummy and very much a comfort food. The poblanos gave nice flavor without being too hot or over powering. It looked really pretty with the sprinkling of green onions too.

Main (Teresa) – Oven Fried Chicken! OH MY! If you asked me what my last meal would be, it would be fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and apple pie. Teresa had the chickens cut up at the market and soaked it in buttermilk about 6 hours. Mary did the dredging (excellent job!) and I did the frying (with much assistance from Carol). Teresa’s tall stock pot captured most of the splatters and it went very smoothly. By the last few batches the oil was getting darker, as was the chicken; however this did not affect the flavor. It did lead to conversations about fast food places and how often do THEY change out the oil?!

Dessert (Janet) – Coca Cola Cake. Thank heavens Janet pulled double duty and did not sacrifice dessert for an appetizer. This cake was so tasty!! The icing was a great consistency, like fudge, and blanketed the delectable cake. Yummmm… who knew Coke could make such a wonderful cake?!