CARROT CAKE

3 cups flour
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
12 ounces junior stage baby food carrots
2 cups oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/ 2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped nuts

2 cups Confectioner’s sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease and flour 2 9-inch tube pans
3. In a larger bowl, beat well sugar, oil, eggs and baby food
carrots. Mix together in a another bowl, flour, baking soda,
baking powder and cinnamon, sift together. Gradually add the
flour mixture to the large bowl with wet ingredients, beat
on low speed until blended well. Stir in chopped nuts.
4. Pour cake batter into the pans. Spread evenly in tube pans.
5. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. Gently loosen
sides of cake before removing from pan. Cool completely on a
wire rack.
6. In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese, butter with vanilla.
Add the confectionery sugar while beating on a low speed.
(These measurement amounts are for the icing of one cake.) Ice
the carrot cake when completely cooled.
7. The second cake can be frozen for another day.
8. ENJOY! – Baby food isn’t just for babies, it’s for baking!

My first experience with carrot cake took place at Laurie’s home, my good friend and neighbor. I have a quirky aversion to raisins and would not have let the cake pass my lips had not her mom, Saranne, assured me that this version had nary a one! But don’t let that stop you; many folks really enjoy adding pineapple, raisin, and other more exotic spices for that extra zing. This is a basic recipe for carrot cake and I have never changed it after all these years. Why would I? The cream cheese icing is pure heaven. It may be too sweet for some, but I just love it.

I must confess that I have a sweet tooth, and coupled with the fact that I love to cook, also means I love to eat! I believe most women fall into this same category, but they don’t allow themselves the luxury of eating what they want. I have been conditioned to not diet. Growing up, I never ate enough and my mother was always begging me to eat. Even as a young adult, I could never finish my dinner. I really never had an appetite until I was pregnant with my first child, followed up by two more children and a growing appetite. You know how it is, if you never have to watch your weight growing up, then it’s very hard to diet later on in life.

I really began baking and cooking more frequently over the years and really enjoyed creating recipes. I took such pride with each holiday dinner and desert because I would introduce my family to something new and excitingly different. The more I cooked and baked, the more my family enjoyed it. I had found my talent in life! I really love to write for this website and to hear from my readers how much they enjoy it too.

Wherever my passion for cooking takes me, I am ready. Even if it is simply praise from my family for a wonderful Sunday dinner, or a delicious carrot cake, I love what I do!

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NUTELLA CRUMB CAKE

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2 eggs
1 bar margarine, softened
1 bar butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 /2 cup milk

(Filling)

1 13 ounce jar Nutella

(Topping)

1 bar margarine
1 bar butter
2 1 /4 cup flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/ 2 cup sugar

Confectioner’s sugar

1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour (or use parchment paper liners) 2 8-inch round baking pans or an 11 x 15 baking pan.
3. Cream butter, margarine and sugar together in a bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternating with the milk ingredient. Blend all ingredients together until well mixed.
4. Pour into pans. Microwave Nutella spread for 35 to 40 seconds. NO LONGER. Stir with a spoon and gently spread over the cake batter on both pans till all Nutella is used.
5. In a medium pot, melt 1 bar margarine and 1 bar of butter over a low flame. When butter and margarine are melted, remove from heat. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir well.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. While stirring
With a wooden spoon, add dry mixture to butter mixture in pot. Continue stirring,
Until well mixed. Using your hands at this point, pack mixture into crumb lumps,
then sprinkle crumbs over the Nutella filling, until all of the filling is covered.
6. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean for 2 round pans and 50 minutes for 1 large baking pan. Cool in pan for 20 to 30 minutes, loosen around the edges with a butter knife and then remove cakes from pans to a wire racks to cool completely. After cooled sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top for decoration.
7. ENJOY! – Bella Nutella!!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Make someone happy with this homemade Chocolate Crumb Cake!

We’ve all experienced the traditional crumb cake; a kind of boring but potentially tasty vanilla pound cake topped with crumbly stuff. If you’re a member of the over 50 club (yep, that’s me) you probably had your fair share of Entenmanns crumb cake over the years; it was always a safe bet to have on hand to feed unexpected company.

In our family, my sister-in-law, Claudia, is the crumb cake queen. Everyone in the family salivates over her version and looks forward to that first mouthful accompanied by a smooth cuppa coffee. Sadly, I just cannot seem to replicate her recipe to my satisfaction; so, it will remain in the family and I’ll keep working on it until it’s as great as hers!

My introduction to crumb cake was via my landlady, Jane. My husband and I were very young newlyweds when we rented a side of their duplex home. Jane had two sons and was a very busy wife, mother, and volunteer. I attribute my becoming a cat lover to Jane who presented me with my first kitty, Casey. Thanks to Jane, many more cats have “owned” me since then; I currently share my home with two, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ed and Jane were special friends and great landlords. Many times Jane would invite me over for a cup of tea. I never drank tea till Jane kept serving it to me and it would have been rude not to accept. So now I’m into both tea and cats. Anyway, one day I was sitting in Jane’s kitchen having yet another cuppa tea and Jane was at the counter talking and cooking. Not one to resist a treat, I surreptitiously grabbed a handful of crumbs when Jane wasn’t looking. Jane turned around just as I put them in my mouth and yelled, “that’s cat food!” It wasn’t my best moment when I spit the cat food all over her kitchen! Lesson learned!

Jane was also a good cook and baker. She was famous for her large homemade crumb cakes. I altered Jane’s crumb cake recipe by removing the fruit filling and adding nutella spread. Oh, and no cat food has been added, just in case you were wondering!

Edith’s Ricotta Cake

2 lbs ricotta cheese (whole milk)
4 eggs
3 / 4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 yellow cake mix (preferably any brand with pudding in the mix)

Confectioner’s sugar

1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 10 x 15-inch pan or 9 x 13 inch pan or 2 8/9 inch round pans.
3. Blend ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl. Beat well until smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, prepare cake mix as directed. Pour cake mix batter into greased pan. Spread evenly, making sure the batter is not all in the center.
5. Pour ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter.
6. Bake 35 to 55 minutes (check for golden color) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Ricotta section may seem a little moist. Cool cake completely in pan. Loosen around the edges of pan with a butter knife and then flip cake over on to a tray. Before serving, sprinkle top with confectioner’s sugar for decoration. Keep refrigerated.
7. ENJOY! – That’s what friends are for. To share recipes

Ricotta Cake is a recipe from my friend Edith. It is amazing to me how we may not see each other for a year, yet when we do it is like yesterday. Edith and I met when we were both working full time and going to college at night for accounting. She and I hit it off immediately, and that was roughly 32 years ago. She was single and moving into a new apartment, and I was married and pregnant at the time we met. I remember visiting her as she was setting up her new apartment. I brought over some things I thought she could use or want. Believe me, nothing special or expensive, because I didn’t have anything like that. When I saw Edith last, she still had a few of those things that I gave her from her first apartment. I was surprised at how Edith talked about those little things I gave her as if they were heirlooms, so precious to her. You have to love a friend who keeps little nothings from years ago and talks about them as great somethings.

Edith has always been a good cook. Anytime I was invited to her home, whether for a coffee or a formal dinner, I looked forward to those times. She is a born hostess. I invited her and her husband for a Saturday night dinner a couple of years ago to join my husband and me; just the four of us, a very intimate and relaxing dinner. Edith brought this ricotta cake that could feed 20 people. That’s the way she is. What I love about Edith is she is one of the few women I know who stills makes something homemade when she comes to your home. I respect and appreciate that. My husband loved her ricotta cake. Edith made her cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Her cake had one layer of ricotta and one layer of cake. The ricotta layer was placed on top and sank to the bottom. So, when she flipped it over onto the platter, the ricotta layer was on top. She sent me the recipe. I was having a dinner party that weekend, which was a good opportunity to try this cake. I made the cake but I didn’t have a 9 x 13 inch pan available. I have a 9 x 13 inch pan, but I was preparing something else in that pan at the time. I used a 10 x 15 inch pan. Well, my ricotta layer went to the middle of my cake layer. So there was cake on top and bottom when I flipped it over onto the tray. I told my husband I must have done something wrong or it was because I used a larger pan. Good guy that he is, he said, “Don’t worry; it’s fine.” My company loved it and my husband said he liked it better with the ricotta in the middle. The next day I had a big party to attend. I took the leftover ricotta cake and cut it into squares, decorated it nicely on a pretty platter and brought it. Lucky for me it was a big hit with a whole new crowd of people.

Since then, I just make this recipe with two 8 or 9 inch cake pans and the cake seems to come out better.

It just goes to show no matter how you serve something, whether it is with one layer on top or one layer in the middle or cut into small squares, if something is good, it will taste delicious!

Cheesecake

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1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/ 4 cup sugar
1 /3 cup margarine, melted

3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 – 8 ounce sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease a cheesecake (spring form) pan.
3. In a bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar and melted margarine with a fork till all the crumbs are coated. Press into the bottom of the greased pan using your fingers. Bring crumbs up the sides of the pan all around to about 1 ½ inches.
4. In a bowl mix together with an electric beater, the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Mix everything until smooth scrapping the sides of the bowl often.
5. Spread the cream cheese mixture into the crumb filled pan.
6. Bake for 65 minutes or until center is set. Turn off oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar for 1 hour.
7. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more
8. This recipe serves 10 to 12.

ENJOY – Cheesecake so creamy, so yummy!

This column is dedicated to my uncle mario, I wrote this on the celebration of his 90th birthday.

Cheesecake is also something I usually bake during the holiday season.

Cheesecake! When I think of Uncle Mario, as I so often do, the next thought that pops into my head is….cheesecake! For more years than I care to remember, anytime we visited or Aunt Ellia and Uncle Mario came to visit us, I baked Uncle Mario a cheesecake just to see that sweet smile on his face. While he never complained whenever I attempted to bake some other dessert that I thought might pique his interest, nothing could compare to the look on his face when that darn cheesecake appeared. I have to say that I will always think of you, Uncle Mario, every single time I make a cheesecake.

This past year, I baked and prepared foods for Tom to take along with him whenever Tom was working near Uncle Mario’s. At times it was just a mini bread or cake or maybe some homemade soup…just a bit of homemade comfort food for Uncle Mario and Tom to enjoy together. I’m glad they have enjoyed such a great relationship all these years.

I recall chatting with Uncle Mario one day and I said, “Do you want me to bake anything for you?” “Yeah, he said, I love biscotti to dunk in my coffee, but I don’t want it too sweet or too hard or too soft”. It kind of reminded me of the Story of the 3 Bears….but I was up for the challenge! I’ve baked a lot of biscotti in my lifetime, but I didn’t know if I could bake one not too sweet, hard or soft. Well, not too long after that conversation, I came upon a recipe for sesame polenta biscotti. I just felt this might be THE biscotti of Uncle Mario’s dreams. So, I played with the recipe and baked a batch. Tom and I tasted them with hope in our hearts. Well, they weren’t too sweet, or too hard, or too soft. However, they were definitely different, probably because of the polenta. Since I worked so hard baking it, I decided to bring it to Uncle Mario anyway. Wow, I hit the jackpot because he actually ended up loving it. I have to admit that I thought he was kidding at first, but when we sat down for a cup of coffee, he brought out the packaged store-bought biscotti and quietly put my biscotti in a cookie jar and back in the cabinet. I knew he liked them because he saved the rest for later. Now, that’s always a good sign.

Uncle Mario, I love you. You are my biggest fan and I always appreciate it when you tell me how much you love my baking and writing. I am always grateful for your heartfelt compliments. You have always made me feel so special….not just like your niece-in-law…but a true niece.

*Footnote: This recipe was on the back of the Graham Cracker Crumbs box. I made many different cheesecake recipes over the years but this recipe always worked best for me.

Almond Cake

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1 bar butter, softened
1 bar margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 can almond filling
2 1/ 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 / 4 cup milk

1. Soften butter and margarine in a large bowl, a few hours
before baking.
2. Oven 350 degrees.
3. Grease and flour a 10- inch fluted Bundt pan. Set aside
4. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at
a time. Occasionally, scrape the side of the bowl with a
spatula. Beat in almond filling.
5. In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder together.
Slowly, add the flour mixture to the almond mixture, while at
the same time add the milk in also at intervals. Use a low
speed to blend. Spoon batter into prepared bunt pan
6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if
the center is cooked.
7. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan and use a thin
spatula to loosen the sides before turning upside down on a
plate. Cool completely.
8. Options – Serve plain, or dust with powdered sugar.
9. ENJOY – Almond tasting so lightly and delightfully!…..

About a year ago I discovered this almond cake recipe on the inside label of a can of almond paste that I also use to make rainbow cookies. I’m hooked on this stuff because both the rainbow cookies and the almond cake are loved by everyone. While the rainbow cookies take a bit of extra time and energy, the almond cake is easy to whip up. You gotta love these plain cake recipes that create cakes that are nice and brown on the outside and moist on the inside. Add some fresh whipped cream or ice cream, and you have one delicious dessert!

There is a reason that there are recipes printed on some of the products that we purchase. Have you ever been lured into buying a can or box of whatever because the suggested recipes looked too good to resist? I certainly have. I’d like to believe that they’ve been tested and tasted quite a few times before the companies would actually print it on their products. Sometimes there’s a big payoff in taking advantage of those recipes; my almond cake is testament to that, and I’m happy to share it with you!

Take a moment the next time you are cooking to read the label on that jar, can or box that you are using. Experiment with a new recipe today, you just may discover an exciting dish to use when entertaining!

ANGEL FOOD CAKE


1 cup sifted cake flour
12 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 / 4 teaspoon salt
1 1 / 2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat egg whites until foamy, add salt and cream of tartar, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually, add 3 / 4 cup of sugar to egg whites, but at 1 / 4 cup intervals. Continue beating. Add vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Combine cake flour and 3 / 4 cup of sugar together in a bowl. Stir with a whisk.
4. Fold gently the flour mixture 1 / 4 cup at a time to the egg mixture.
5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom, spreading evenly. Bake in the center of the oven for 55 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Try not to open the oven door if possible during baking.
6. Invert pan onto a bottle and let cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a long narrow spatula. Try to be gentle but do it repeatively so the cake comes out easily. Invert cake onto plate. Serve with strawberries when in season.
7. Option – For a different flair make a Cocoa Almond Angel food cake. Instead of 1 teaspoon of vanilla and lemon extracts, use 1 /2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of almond extract. Add 1 / 4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to flour.
8. ENJOY! – I feel like an angel when I make this cake!

Angel Food cake was something I had never baked before. I read in a few recipes that a certain type Bundt pan should be used which allows the cake to cool upside down without touching the table. This particular pan is circular, has a hole in the middle, with three or four prongs that stick up outside of the sides of the pan. This gives distance between the pan and any surface from touching. In other words, the pan can be turned upside down to cool, and the cake will hang that way and not move until loosened manually. The cake shouldn’t slip down because the pan is not greased. Angel Food cake is the only recipe I have made that does not require greasing the pan before pouring in the batter. I personally do not own this particular type of Bundt pan to bake an Angel Food cake. Before I purchased one, I wanted to be sure I was buying the correct pan. I asked my cooking friends and found Laurie’s mom, Saranne, made Angel Food cake. Sure enough, when I called Saranne, she not only talked to me about her Angel Food cakes, she lent me her two pans that she uses to bake them. One pan had a removable bottom, but the other pan was one piece. Both pans had the prongs to hold the cake upside down. I made two Angel Food cakes after researching many recipes and instructions to create my own cakes. Saranne’s pans came in handy. The removable bottom was definitely the easier pan to get the cake out after it cooled. Also, it was easier to clean afterwards.

Angel Food cake seemed simple enough to make. Using only the egg whites to bake the cake, separate your eggs in a bowl. The yolk of at least two eggs broke and spilled into my egg whites. Very gently with a spoon, I removed the yolks from the egg whites in the bowl. Some recipes called for ten egg whites, but I prefer to use twelve egg whites because of the mistakes. If you remove the egg yolk from the bowl, of course some of the egg white is taken with the yolk. It is impossible to take out just the yolk without a little white. If you use twelve egg whites, you have that extra amount in the bowl for this reason. Use only a stainless steel bowl or a glass bowl because it retains the cold temperature. The eggs need to stay cool while beating into the white foam peaks. If any recipe I prepare calls for beaten egg whites, I always do that first. The beaters need to be clean and dry and not wet or damp from washing off other ingredients before using them to beat the egg whites.

Before serving the Angel Food cake, sprinkle the top with a dusting of powdered sugar for a more appetizing look. I recently made this cake in June, and I decorated the plate with fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. The fresh fruit is a great accompaniment to this cake. Plus, for a holiday, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day, it is symbolic with the red and blue colors of the fruit with white angel food cake representing the red, white and blue colors of the American Flag. I have seen this done at many parties.

It was lucky for me to have an angel called Saranne, who not only shared her Angel Food cake baking expertise, but also her Angel Food cake pans. Maybe you have a network of cooking friends who would be willing to share their cooking experiences with you. If not, I would love to answer any questions you may have on cooking or baking. You only have to ask!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 eggs
1 bar margarine, softened
1 bar butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup of sugar
(Topping and inside)1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Confectioner’s sugar

1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan or bundt pan.
3. Cream butter, margarine and sugar together in a bowl. Add eggs and sour cream. Beat well.
4. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add to butter mixture, blend all ingredients
together until well mixed. Batter maybe thick so use a wooden spoon.
5. In a separate bowl, mix walnuts, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg together.
6. Spoon half of the cake batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle half of the walnut mixture over the batter. Repeat

batter and nuts layer with the nuts ending on top.
7. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 to 20 minutes, loosen around

the edges with a butter knife and then remove bread from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. After
cooled, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top for decoration.
8. ENJOY! – The best comfort cake ever!

 

_____________________________________________________

 

If I died tomorrow, I think I would be remembered for cooking and baking. In the baking category, the memory would be for my sour cream coffee cake. This, I think, is one of my claims to fame and maybe, also my sweet potato pie.

It all started when I was 16 years old and working after school and on the weekends in an accounting office during tax season. A Greek woman named Tess, who also worked in the office preparing tax returns, brought a sour cream coffee cake to the office. It was delicious, and I was hooked! This was the first time I asked for a recipe from someone, and I still have the letter Tess wrote me with her recipe. That’s over 30 years ago now, and I have been making this sour cream coffee cake since that time. My idea was to add a slight change to her recipe; the mini chocolate chips with the nuts, and I have never made the coffee cake without them. That little bit of chocolate enhances the flavor. I also treasure many other recipes by other cooks who have shared them with me written in their handwriting.

A few years ago, one of the newspapers was doing a story on recipe collections. I submitted an entry about my large cookbook and recipe collections. I was selected for the story and the writer asked about my first recipe that I collected. I told them the sour cream coffee cake from Tess. They asked me if they could print my sour cream coffee cake recipe along with the story. Of course, I gave it to them because I believe recipes are to be shared. When the recipe was printed in the newspaper, the article left out the most important ingredient – flour. I was so upset, and I called the writer, and she told me that they never received so many calls on a story at the paper before. Over sixty phone calls were made to the newpaper from readers who wanted to try the recipe but didn’t know how much flour to use. That next day, the writer wrote a story about the story, including the corrected recipe with the flour ingredient. The article was about all the “Foodies” (people who love cooking and reading about food) who had contacted the newspaper and were upset. The paper never realized how many people were interested in my recipe and wanted to try it.

A good recipe is like a good friend; it stays with you for a long time!