Pie Crust

People always fuss over pie crusts, some people won’t even attempt them.  Pie crusts are easy.  There are two things to remember with pie crusts:

  1. Use very cold water and if it is a hot day, cool the mixing bowl also.  Pie crusts are easier to work with when they stay at a nice, cool temperature.  A cool temperature helps the dough stay firm and easy to work with.
  2. Don’t over work your dough.  Roll it out, lay it in the pie dish and be done with it.  If it falls apart, just piece it back together in the dish with your fingers.  Once it bakes, it will look perfect!

Ingredients

 

 

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is another Betty Crocker recipe, simple and perfect.  This is one of Chris’ favorites! I love making it for him- and eating it too! I follow this recipe to a T, because it is the best carrot cake ever!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Directions

  1. Mix sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl, beat for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except carrots and walnuts, stir very well, beat 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots and walnuts, stir.
  4. Pour into a prepared 13x9x2 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 t milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

 

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla in bowl with electric mixer on low.
  2. Gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until smooth

**I usually double this recipe for Chris:)

Blueberry Muffins

I am a big fan of Betty Crocker, I love her tried and true recipes.  In fact, there are 3 things I make that I am very proud of: (1) my carrot cake, a Betty Crocker recipe (2) my pie crust, a Betty Crocker recipe (3) my blueberry muffins, a modified Betty Crocker recipe.  Her recipe is actually perfect as is, but I have added a dash of this and a pinch of that and a heaping spoonful of sour cream to the batter- and these muffins are fabulous! Getting this recipe just right has been a process of trial and error.  I still hold my breath every time I flip my muffin pan over, onto my cutting board, hoping the muffins will tumble out in a glorious state of tasty perfection!  This recipe is Betty’s, but I am adding my changes to it.  (BTW, Betty Crocker is not a real person. Just a name given to the company to make the brand more personable.  This little piece of information makes me a little sad.)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 T
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/2 salt, plus extra dash
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

 

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375.
  2. Grease muffin pan cups (jumbo cup size) with shortening.
  3. Beat milk, oil, vanilla, egg and sour cream in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once, just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy).
  5. Fold in blueberries.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  7. Sprinkle a generous amount of Streusel Topping over each muffin cup (recipe below)
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, and enjoy:)

 

Streusel Topping

  • 2 T firm stick butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly.

 

 

Chase’s Lego Cake

Chase LOVES Legos! He wakes up every morning thinking about what he wants to build, or what needs to be fixed.  He goes to bed at night talking about what he made and planning what he will make tomorrow.  And, he is good at it! I am always so impressed to watch him build these amazing cars and trucks- pretty amazing for a 4 year old.

So, for Chase’s 4th birthday Chris made Chase his own Lego Birthday Cake! It looked really cool, but, it tasted even better! This is the best chocolate cake EVER! So rich, dense and moist! Perfect! He found it on the Hershey website, I know, too obvious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

 

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

 

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe is from The Martha Stewart baking Handbook.  I feel about this book, the way some people feel about their bible.  I trust it.  I know if I turn to it in a time of need, I will find answers and comfort.  Well, comfort food! Which is just as good!

This was my first time making just a plain ole loaf of bread, which it was not! Fresh bread is such a treat! It was amazing! I loved smelling it while it was baking.  I loved the subtle hint of honey in every bite.  I loved every thing about this, especially with the fresh churned butter and Homemade Strawberry Jam.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups warm water, 100 degrees to 110 degrees
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Canola oil, for bowls, plastic wrap, and pans

 

Directions

  1. Combine warm water, honey, and yeast in a large liquid-measuring cup. Stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing in the flour until well combined.
  3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cup bread flour a little at a time until dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 15 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Transfer to a warm place, and let rise until double its original size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Brush two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with canola oil. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and punch down. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Flatten one piece of dough into an oval, and roll up lengthwise. Place the roll, seam-side down, into a prepared pan. Repeat process with second piece. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Place the loaves in a warm place, and let rise again until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Bake until deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes (the loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Transfer pans to a rack, and let cool 5 minutes. Invert the loaves onto the rack to cool completely.

 

Forgive the picture quality, they were taken with my phone.

Triple Spoon Cornbread

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I got the recipe about 8 years ago in Cooking Light Magazine.  So easy, and you really can’t go wrong.  I make it every year for Thanksgiving, or it is great with BBQ.  Chase loves it!

This moist, slightly sweet dish is a cross between corn bread dressing and creamed corn.

Ingredients

  • 1  cup  fat-free sour cream
  • 3  tablespoons  stick margarine, melted
  • 1  large egg
  • 1/2  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  (15.25-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, undrained
  • 1  (14 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added cream-style corn
  • 1  (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
  • Cooking spray

 

Instructions

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.
  2. Stir in onion, corns, and muffin mix.
  3. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until pudding is set and lightly browned.

 

Mint Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls

Ingredients

 

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (16 ounce) container prepared cream cheese frosting

 

Directions

 

  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.
  2. You are suppose to use a melon baller to scoop out the mixture, but I make them a bit bigger. I use my hands and scoop about 2 tablespoons of mixture and roll into a ball.
  3. Lay the balls on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Once all of the cake balls are rolled, put in the fridge or freezer for an hour.
  4. Take cold cake balls and dip in Mint Chocolate Ganache. Place the dipped balls on cookie sheet with parchment paper, put in fridge until ready to serve. (These will taste better the second day, once the ganache has really set. If you make them the day you are serving, make sure you have at least 3-4 hours, once dipped, to refrigerate.)

 

Mint Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • peppermint extract (I add to taste, til it is as minty as I like it:)

 

I do this recipe in two batches, starting with 8 ounces of choc chips and 1 cup of cream. It is just easier to melt this way and it is nice to have a fresh batch to work with, half way through dipping. Since I really don’t have a recipe for my ganache and I eye everything, I am enclosing instructions from a recipe of Alton Brown’s. I have used this before and it is now the method I always use when making Ganache- it’s just so easy.
Place the heavy cream into a heat-proof bowl and microwave on high just until simmering, approximately 30 seconds. Remove the cream from the microwave and add the chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is completely submersed in the cream. Allow to sit for 2 minutes. Gently whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined with the cream, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.