Valentine's Day

Valentine Cake

February 12, 2012

Valentine Cake

Valentine’s Day begs for chocolate! Surprise your Valentine with this easy, but romantic chocolate cake. Honestly, who can resist?

INGREDIENTS

6 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate

2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate

4 Ounces Butter

3 Tablespoons Instant Espresso (Dissolved In 4 Tablespoons Hot Water)

2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

2 Teaspoons Ground Allspice

4 Large Eggs (Room Temperature)

1 1/3 Cups Sugar

¼ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

¼ Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup Cocoa Nibs

½ Cup Unbleached Flour

Preheat your oven to 375° F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring form pan. Melt the chocolates in a small bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir in the coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and cool to room temperature. To make the cake mix together the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder and salt until creamy. Stir in the cocoa nibs, flour and melted chocolate mixture until nice and smooth. Make sure not to beat. Just stir until everything is nicely blended. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Release the sides of the spring form pan and set the cake on a cake plate. Frost with chocolate ganache and serve with chocolate dipped strawberries.

Serves 6

Victoria’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

February 11, 2012

Victoria’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

This cake is super moist. Don’t be afraid of the mayonnaise ingredient because that is what makes it so moist.

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Sugar

2 ½ Cups Unbleached Flour

1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Salt

2 (1 Ounce Each) Squares Unsweetened Chocolate (Melted & Cooled)

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Cup Mayonnaise

1 Cup Water

3 Eggs

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a medium size bowl combine the mayonnaise, water and eggs. With a mixer at low speed add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Beat for 30 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and beat for two minutes. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or fill and frost as desired. If you want to make this a bundt cake then pour the batter into a prepared bundt pan and bake at 350° F for 40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 25 minutes. Invert from the pan and cool completely. Frost as you like. Serves 12

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

February 10, 2012

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

5 Medium Potatoes (Peeled & Cut Into Eighths)

1 Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup Warm Milk

8 Tablespoons Softened Butter

1 Teaspoon Roasted Garlic

½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

To roast the garlic preheat your oven to 350° F. Cut ¼ to ½ inch from the top of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Remove most of the outer skin from the bulb, leaving the bulb intact and the cloves unpeeled. Place the bulb, cut-side up, on an 8 inch piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper. Wrap in the foil and bake for 50 minutes until softened. Cool slightly. Separate the cloves and press the cloves slightly to squeeze out the softened garlic.

Place the potatoes in a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over a high heat and cook for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, butter and garlic. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6

Old Time Soft Sugar Cookies

February 6, 2012

Old Time Soft Sugar Cookies

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup Shortening

½ Cup Sugar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1 Egg

¾ Cup Buttermilk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups Unbleached Flour

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

Topping: ¼ Cup Sugar & 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Cream together the shortening, sugar and brown sugar. Mix in the egg, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Drop the dough by round teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on either a lightly greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Combine the topping ingredients in a small size bowl and sprinkle on top of the cookie dough. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake for 8 minutes until set. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Layer Cake

January 20, 2012

Chocolate Layer Cake

I love this cake. It’s my go to cake for special occasions and birthdays. Everyone seems to enjoy this cake and wants the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

Cake

½ Cup Shortening

2 Cups Sugar

4 Eggs

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

2 (1 Ounce Each) Squares Unsweetened Chocolate (Melted & Cooled)

2 ½ Cups Unbleached Flour

1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 ½ Cups Buttermilk

Frosting

½ Cup Softened Butter

1 (3 Ounce) Package Softened Cream Cheese

½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Confectioners’ Sugar

2 Tablespoons Milk

2 Squares (1 Ounce Each) Unsweetened Chocolate (Melted & Cooled)

Preheat the oven to 325° F. To make the cake: cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the melted & cooled chocolate. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add alternately to the batter along with the buttermilk. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 40 minutes until done. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Remove from the pans and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar slowly. Beat on low speed. Stir 2 tablespoons of milk and the melted & cooled chocolate. Beat until fluffy.

To assemble place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread a thick layer of frosting. Place the second layer on top of the frosting. Frost the top layer. Serves 8

**If you do not have buttermilk just measure out 1 1/2 cups regular milk and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes.

Hanger Steak

January 10, 2012

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak (also known as butcher’s steak, hanging tender or bistro steak) is a cut of beef steak that comes from the diaphragm of a steer or heifer. Hanger Steak used to be called, “Butcher’s Steak,” because the butchers would keep it for themselves rather than sell it to their customers. Hanger Steak typically weighs about 1 to 1 ½ pounds and resembles flank steak in texture and flavor. Hanger steak is a “V-Shaped pair of muscles with a long membrane down the middle. It is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat because this cut is not particularly tender. To avoid toughness grill and broil and serve rare or medium rare.

The Hanger Steak is said to “hang” from the diaphragm, which is one muscle, commonly cut into two separate cuts of meat. The Hanger Steak is traditionally considered more flavorful and the outer skirt steak is composed of tougher muscle within the diaphragm. The hanger is attached to the last rib and the spine near the kidneys. Hanger Steak is also a very traditional Mexican cuisine, especially in the north, where it is called arrachera and is marinated, grilled and served with a squeeze of lime juice, guacamole, salsa and tortillas for tacos. In South Texas, this cut of beef is known as fajitas arracheras. Historically Hanger Steak has been more popular in Europe. In England it is referred to as skirt steak; in France onglet; in Italy lombatello; in Spain solomillo de pulmon. In America, Hanger Steak formerly was not separated as an individual cut, but today is extremely popular. Here is an easy recipe to follow that is sure to please!

INGREDIENTS

4 (6 Ounces) Hanger Steaks

8 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Sprig Rosemary (Leaves Removed & Chopped)

5 Thinly Sliced Garlic Cloves

¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Mix the olive oil, chopped rosemary leaves, garlic slices, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place the steaks in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and marinated for 3 hours. Heat your grill, cast iron pan or oven broiler. Add the steaks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Slice and plate. Serves 4

English Toffee

December 8, 2011

English Toffee

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Unsalted Butter

1 1/3 Cups Sugar

1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup

3 Tablespoons Water

1 Pound Bittersweet Chocolate

1 Pound Ground Pecans

Melt the butter and sugar in a medium size saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the corn syrup and water. Boil over a high heat until the candy thermometer reads 300° F. Pour onto a greased cookie sheet. Melt the chocolate over a low heat in a small saucepan. Evenly spread the toffee with the melted chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm cover with the ground pecans. Cool for 20 minutes and then cut into pieces. Serves 10

Root Beer Float

December 2, 2011

Root Beer Float

I remember many a Root Beer Float at the A&W Drive-In when I was young. I still love Root Beer Floats. They are so simple to make and are delicious!

INGREDIENTS

2 Quarts Chilled Good Quality Root Beer

8 Scoops French Vanilla Ice Cream

8 Ten Ounce Drinking Glasses or Float Glasses

Place 1 scoop of ice cream in each glass. Top with 8 ounces of Root Beer. Serve immediately with a straw and a long handled spoon. Serves 8

Brownie Bites

November 29, 2011

Brownie Bites

All you need is a round biscuit cutter!

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Butter

2 ¼ Cups Sugar

1 ¼ Cups Cocoa Powder

1 Tablespoon Espresso Powder

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

4 Large Eggs

1 ½ Cups Unbleached Flour

2 Cups Chocolate Chips

1 Cup Chopped Pecans (Optional)

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Add the sugar to the melted butter and stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs. Stir until smooth. Add the flour, chocolate chips and pecans (optional). Stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. The brownies should feel set on the edges and barely set in the center. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 hour. Using a 1 ½ inch round biscuit cutter cut out as many circles as possible. You should get about 38 circles. Wrap well to store. When you are ready to serve, garnish the Brownie Bites with whipped cream, cherry topping or shaved chocolate. You can save the scraps and crumble on top of ice cream for a whole different dessert. Makes 38 Brownie Bites

Chocolate Truffle Cake

November 13, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cake

If you love chocolate then this cake is for you! It is dense and pure chocolate. Chocolate Truffle Cake is great for special occasions and especially birthdays!

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Butter

14 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate

2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate

9 Large Separated Eggs

½ Cup Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Almonds for Garnish (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Remove the bottom from a 9×3 inch springform pan and cover the bottom with foil. Wrap the foil around to the underside. This will make it easier to remove the cake from the pan. Replace the bottom. Grease and flour the foil bottom and side of the pan. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter with all of the chocolate over a low heat. Stir constantly. Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl. In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar for about 5 minutes with a mixer and 10 minutes by hand. The goal is to get the mixture very thick and lemon colored. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. In a separate large bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Make sure that the beaters are clean before beating the egg whites. With a wire whisk or rubber spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the egg whites one third at a time. Do not mix them in. We want to be gentle with the egg whites. Now, spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Do not over bake because the cake will firm up when chilled. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight in the pan. To remove the cake from the pan run a hot knife around the edge of the cake. Remove the side of the pan and invert the cake onto a cake plate. Unwrap the foil on the bottom and lift off the bottom of the pan. Carefully peel the foil from the cake. Garnish with almonds or other nuts if you like. Makes 20 servings

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