Plum Cake

Plum cake is my all time favorite cake.  Always has been, always will be.  It is a dense and moist spice cake.  It has a lemon glaze instead of frosting, which I love. It also makes your house smell better than the fall spice candles or oils AND you get cake!  

The recipe calls for plum baby food, which was easy to find 40-50 years ago.  Now, however, it is really hard to find.  So, with this rendition, I used baby food prunes.  What are prunes, you ask? Why, they are only dehydrated plums.  It worked quite well.  I have also, when plums are in season, pureed fresh plums.  That is also lovely.

Plum Cake

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups granulated sugar
2 jars plum or prune baby food, 4 oz. each OR 1 cup pureed plums
1 cup oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a bundt pan.  I like bakers spray, which has flour in the oil spray.

Mix the dry ingredients together.
To the dry ingredients, add the remaining ingredients.
Beat until smooth, but don't over beat.

Pour batter in the prepared bundt pan.
Bake in heated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for about 5 minutes.
Say a little prayer, and invert the cake on to a cake plate.

When cooled 5-10 minutes more, but while cake is still warm, drizzle the lemon glaze over the cake.

Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Try to save some cake for those that are worthy.

Lemon glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
juice of one lemon

Mix together and drizzle over warm cake.


Chicken Pot Pie or Pi or 3.14159265359 to infinity

Pi day.

Pi day is a tradition in our house.  We celebrate with pie.  Any kind of pie.

Yes, we know we are geeks.

We don't judge.

This year I made chicken pot pie/pi.  It turned out really good.  This recipe is for a 13x9 pan.  If you want to make it in a pie tin, the filling and the crust will make two.  You're welcome.

Chicken Pot Pi

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups cold butter (3 sticks), chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
5 Tablespoons cold water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme OR 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

2-3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken OR about 2 pounds chicken tenders or thighs, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
1.5 cups green beans
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth or bouillon
1/4 cup white wine, optional...kind of
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme OR 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3-4 grinds of black pepper

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas.

Gradually add the egg, then the cold water, vinegar and thyme. Mix on low speed until it's just combined.  Remove the dough from the processor and shape into a ball (two if you are making two pies.)  Place the dough in a large plastic bag and slightly flatten.  Seal the dough and place in the fridge.

All of this may be done a day or two before making the pie.

Making the pie:

If the dough was made the day before, take it out of the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet or Ditch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms.  Sauté the veggies for a couple of minutes, until they become translucent.  Add the chicken and the green beans, and sauté until the chicken is no longer pink.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and stir to combine.  Cook for a couple of minutes, gently stirring.

Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly.  Stir in the wine.  Continue cooking until the mixture begins to thicken.

Pour in the cream, and stir.  Season with the thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook the mixture over low heat, allowing it to thicken gradually, about 4 minutes.  Taste to make sure it has enough salt, and adjust to your taste.

Pour the mixture into a 13x9 baking dish or 2 deep pie pans.

Roll out the pastry so that it's 1 inch larger than the pan. Place the crust on top of the chicken mixture and cut small slits in the top.  Press the crust gently into the sides of the dish to seal.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 40 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Cuban Sliders

I made these tasty little nuggets the other day to go with soup.

My family loved them!!

They would be great to take to a pot luck or as appetizers, too.

Cuban Sliders

24 dinner rolls or Hawaiian rolls
1 pound of sliced ham (deli meat)
1 pound of sliced swiss cheese
Dill pickles, sliced
1/4 cup minced onion
2 sticks butter, melted
1/4 cup dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Cut the rolls in half, removing the top and placing the bottom of the rolls in the baking pan.  I put them all in and sliced using the rim of the baking sheet as my guide.  Easy peasy.

Layer the meat, cheese and pickles.  Place the top of the rolls back on top of the rolls.

Whisk together the butter and the dijon mustard.  Add the onions and stir.

With a spoon, pour and schmear the mustard spread on top of the rolls.

Cover the sliders with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Switch the oven to broil and broil until the rolls are a toasted brown.

Eat them up.

PS - we loved the cold leftovers as much as the hot sliders.


Beef Stew

Beef stew - you gotta love it.

This is a great and hearty stew, heavy on the beef, with a meaty, rich, brown flavor.  Do you taste in colors?  I do.

Hopefully, I will get the portions right.  I didn't actually measure.  I just want to remember what I did, because this batch turned out so, so good.

Beef Stew

4 pounds of stew meat, cubed (I just got a package from Costco)
3/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon seasoned salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 bottle of Guinness (or dark stout of choice)
4 carrots, sliced
2 leeks, washed and sliced
2-3 potatoes, chopped (optional because many serve the stew over mashed potatoes)
2-3 cups water
2-3 Tablespoons of beef stock concentrate (like Better than Bouillon)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Put the flour and seasoned salt in a large ziplock bag and shake it up.  Put the meat in the flour mixture and shake, rattle and roll until all the meat is covered.

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil.  Brown the beef in batches until it is all browned, removing each batch before adding the next.  Continue until all the beef is browned, adding more oil if needed.  Set beef aside.

In the same dutch oven, add the onions and carrots and leeks.  Cook until the onions are translucent.

To the onion mixture, gently pour the stout into the pot, stirring to get up all the lovely brown bits on the bottom.  Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.

Add the beef back to the pot.
Add the water and beef stock concentrate.  Taste it to see if you think it need anything.  Adjust it to your taste - it is your stew after all.

Stir until the stew thickens, adding water as needed.
Put the lid on the dutch oven and cook in the oven for 1.5 - 2 hours.

Enjoy the aroma wafting through your abode.

Remove from the oven.  Remove the lid, stir, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy with crusty bread or over mashed potatoes.


Sweet Potato Pie

I grew up in the South.

I have lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Louisiana.  Sometimes I just need good Southern cooking.  Right now, however, I live in Connecticut.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE CT.  I want to live here the rest of my life.  However, there are not many southern food restaurants.

New Englanders don't know what they're missing.

I acquired a couple of massive sweet potatoes.  Huge!  The two together weighed 43 ounces.  That's almost 3 pounds for just two sweet potatoes.

What to do with all that yammy goodness?

Sweet potato pie, that's what!

This is what I did.

Sweet Potato Pie

Pie crust (I used pillsbury - don't judge)
1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla (use the real stuff)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
/14 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

First thing, prepare the crust.  Put it in your pie pan, crimp the edges, do whatever you need to do, just don't bake it.

Cut the sweet potatoes in quarters.  cover them with water, then bring to a boil on the stovetop.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until they are super soft.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Drain the potatoes and run under cold water.  When you can handle them, slip off the skins and place the potato in a mixing bowl.

Using a mixer, beat the potatoes until they are smooth.  Trust me, you don't want lumps.

Add everything else to the potatoes and mix it up until it's smooth.  It is not going to be as thin as pumpkin pie.  It also won't puff up as much while cooking.

Spread the potato mixture into the prepared crust.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the center of the pie is only slightly jiggly.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean.

Cool the pie for at least 1 hour before serving.

It's really good with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream.  I also think it tastes better the next day.  This pie freezes well, too.

I have made it in ramekins without crust, which one of my kiddos really liked.


Matzoh Toffee

My dish says matzah, but I say matzoh.  Which is correct?

It is Passover.  Nope, not Jewish.  I wish I were that cool.

I try to show respect and to observe many holy days - that's where the word holiday comes from.

I love Passover - the ceremony, the stories, the prayers, the food.  All of it.  We (my family) have celebrated part of Passover for years.

Anyhow, this is one of our favorite Passover treats.  You can't eat just one!

Matzoh Toffee

4-6 matzohs - plain (garlic or onion would not be good here)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter - I like salted, but do what you want
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (12 ounce) bag of chocolate chips (get the good ones - life is short.  I like Guittard.  You could also chop up your own chocolate instead of chips. I also like dark chocolate, but get what you like as it's going in your mouth.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a half sheet pan (18x13) with aluminum foil, wrapping foil around to the outside.  Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment - on top of the foil.  This is very important because this stuff is sticky!

Line the bottom of the cookie sheet with the matzohs, breaking extra pieces to fit any spaces.

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and the brown sugar.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the mixture is not burning.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips.
Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh.
Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.
Break into pieces.


Banana Pudding

If you have read any of my blog posts, you will know that I was raised in the South.  Different places in the South, but still the South.  Having lived in the South during my formative years, I am very picky passionate about certain things.  I don't like dishes left in the sink at night - I lived in Texas and Louisiana where the cockroaches could carry off a 6 pound roast.  I love - but am very particular about - biscuits, soup beans, collard greens and banana pudding.

PoppaH and 2 of my kiddos don't like bananas.  I know.  It is wrong. So, so wrong.  But, what can I do?  Because of this, I have made this pudding without bananas.  It was still good.

I made the first batch in 1/2 pint mason jars, pretty cool if you want it pre-proportioned.  That batch was actually too sweet.  Of course, I had to try it again, adjusting the sugar.  The second batch was just right.

It was all for you.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Banana Pudding

1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated (you'll need to whites for the meringue)
4 cups milk, whole if you have it
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons butter
1 box vanilla wafers (you probably won't use them all)
4-5 bananas

4 egg whites (reserved from above)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons (about 1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy sauce pan.
Lightly beat the egg yolks and combine with milk in a large bowl or measuring cup.
Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients in the saucepan.  Cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the ingredients are thickened and smooth.  
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
Let cool slightly while you make the meringue.

Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer set at high spoof.
When the egg whites are foamy, add cream of tartar.
Keep whipping (whip - nae nae)
While whipping, gradually add sugar.
Keep whipping until stiff peaks have formed.  Whip in vanilla.

To assemble the pudding:
Place vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.
Slice bananas and place on top of wafers.
Pour pudding over bananas.
Spread meringue over pudding, making peaks with your spreader.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.

If you are using jars, start with the wafers and layer as above twice - you know, like a parfait.  
Top with meringue.  

Place jars in a baking dish and bake as above.