Category Archives: Great Recipes

A Quick Note and a Great Recipe

I am still on the road traveling and I must admit I am one tired puppy. So instead of writing a blog that focuses on my too-tired condition, I am instead re-posting a delicious recipe that I posted on this day way back in 2012. I figure many of you have not seen it.

Here is it. Happy evening, folks. We are looking forward to reaching our home in Sherman tomorrow.

A Fabulous and Healthy Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Today, I modified a recipe that daughter Liz shared with me where you substitute 15 ounces of canned pumpkin puree for all the wet ingredients required in an 18.25 oz. chocolate cake mix to produce either delicious low-fat cupcakes or cookies. The only problem is that Ray and I don’t eat refined sugar so we don’t use cake mixes.

So, instead, I used a chocolate cupcake recipe from the Baking in America cookbook, removed the wet ingredients and the refined sugar, then added fresh pumpkin puree, maple sugar and maple syrup. The result was a chocolate cupcake that was moist, rich, delicious and also had a perfect consistency. I am adding a 5-Star distinction to this recipe beginning now. If I can make such a perfect cupcake the first time out, then I can’t even imagine how good these will be with a simple cream cheese frosting. Plus, there is no fat in my recipe at all so that makes it even healthier. A low-fat cream cheese frosting should not be too sinful, I think. But the truth is that these cupcakes were so good even without frosting that I had two!

Here’s my modified recipe, which does not taste non-fat or even maple sweetened. It is just plan delicious.

Non-fat Maple-Sweetened Chocolate Cupcakes

1 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup maple sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Spray a muffin tin with Pam.
Resift the flour with the baking soda, salt, and cocoa and place in a mixing bowl.
Add maple sugar and all other ingredients and mix on medium with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute, then shift to medium-high and beat for 1 more minute until fluffy.
Divide batter evenly among the muffin tins.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the middle bounces back.
Cool for 5 minutes before frosting or eating.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package low-fat cream cheese
½ – 1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup honey

Mix with electric mixer on high-speed until fluffy.
Spread on cupcakes.

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5-Star Ginger Cookie Recipe for Belated Father’s Day Celebration

We are celebrating Father’s Day tomorrow at Sarah’s and I asked Ray would sweet he would like me to make for him.  He requested ginger cookies, which come from a recipe I adapted from the book bigfatcookies by Elinor Klivans. We don’t eat refined sugar so I used maple sugar instead. Here is the recipe with my adaptations, but if you prefer regular sugar simply substitute the maple for refined.

Super-Sized Ginger Chewies

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup maple sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
about 1/4 cup maple sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and maple sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light brown color, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.

Spread the maple sugar on a large piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll 1/4 cup of dough between the palms of your hands into a 2-inch ball, roll the ball in the maple sugar and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue making cookies, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

I highly recommend this cookie. The texture is firm, but soft in the middle, and they taste delicious.

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Ray’s Birthday Cake for Tomorrow

Here is the Hummingbird cake I’ll be making tomorrow for Ray’s 58th birthday. He requested this one and I went to the store today to buy bananas, pecans, flour and crushed pineapple, the ingredients I didn’t have at home.

Ray has a serious sweet tooth and this should be just the cake to satisfy it. The combination of the maple sugar, the bananas, the crushed pineapple and the pecans create such a delectable taste, it’s tough to beat. The cream cheese frosting adds just the right amount of richness.

Also, I ordered Ray two pairs of jeans and three new sweaters to add to his rather small wardrobe. He seems to be happy knowing that he’ll have a few new duds coming soon.

I have included the recipe for the hummingbird cake below. This one is the original with my notes included should you decide to substitute maple sugar and honey for white sugar. Either way, you will not be disappointed.

Here’s to the birthday boy.

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients

Cake Batter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (or 1 3/4 cups maple sugar and 1/4 cup honey)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
3/4 cup canola oil (or coconut oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (or 1/4 cup honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk

Preparation

1. Prepare Cake Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 4 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle 1 cup toasted pecans into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon batter over pecans.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).
4. Prepare Glaze: Process cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a food processor until well blended. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, processing until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted pecans.

Hummingbird_cake_-_homemade

A Tried and True Cookie Recipe

We have a whole tree full of lemons right outside the back door. I grabbed one recently and made these cookies. Hard to beat!

Lemon Coconut Almond Cookies

1 cup butter
3/4 cup honey or agave
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup ground almonds (grind almonds in food processor)

Mix butter, honey until light and fluffy, beat in lemon zest and juice along with vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flours and salt. Beat dry into wet. Stir in coconut and almonds. Chill 2 hours (or as long as you can stand it!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Scoop by tablespoon and form into balls. Place 2 inches apart then flatten to 3/8 inch. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown on edges. Let cool a few minutes on cooling rack.

cookies

Excellent Orange, Cranberry and Pecan Muffin Recipe

I love collecting recipes and this one came from a recipe box I bought at an estate sale several years ago. The box has two long file drawers in a small oak cabinet and each drawer is crammed full of the owner’s favorite recipes clipped from newspapers or magazines, along with hand-written recipes from friends.

The recipe for the muffins was clipped from a magazine and was marked “”East Winner.” The cook’s name was included: Ronni Dufour from Lebanon, Connecticut and she states, “I’ve often given these fresh-baked muffins as a small gift to friends, and they’re always well received.” I am not surprised to hear that news since these are some of the BEST muffins I have ever baked.

Of course, I adapted them to be honey-sweetened since we don’t eat refined sugar. This was not a problem, at all. I simply substituted one cup of honey for one cup of sugar. That substitution isn’t always that successful, but with these muffins it was. So, I can assure you that this is one of those recipes you can depend on to please.

Here are the particulars:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (substitute equal measure of honey, if prefer)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup shortening (or butter)
3/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar (or honey), baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, salt and orange peel. Cut in shortening (or butter) until crumbly. Stir in orange juice, eggs, and vanilla just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Fill 18 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

Oranges

5-Star Recipe: Curried Red Lentil Salad

I know that many of my friends in west, north central and eastern Texas are holed up at home with all the rain and bad weather that is besieging those parts of the state. Stay warm, dry and safe, my friends.

Here’s a recipe to try if you want some good protein coupled with interesting flavors.

I first tasted this salad at a friend’s party before Christmas. It is delicious and different. Full of flavor. I made it for our Christmas dinner and everyone enjoyed it. It’s easy to make as long as you have all the spices in your cupboard. The blend of these spices along with the red onion, capers and currants creates a taste that is delicate and delectable. The recipe I used did not include cilantro, but I think its addition would only make this salad better. In fact, I was contemplating adding it the next time I made this just because I thought a little more color would be nice. This recipe comes from Epicurious. The one I used came directly from my friend.

Marinating the lentils with the dressing for at least 24 hours is ideal. I read another recipe that called for at least 2 hours of marinating, but the longer the better. It will allow the spices to reach their full flavor and to meld.

This is a great make-ahead salad for a social gathering. If you use green lentils, you’ll need to cook them much longer than the 5 minutes that is described in the recipe. I used green lentils and cooked them at least 20 minutes until they reached the “just tender” stage. Plus, I think the red lentils would make for a prettier salad.

INGREDIENTS

DRESSING:
3/4 C olive oil
1/2 C wine vinegar
3 TB sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp curry powder
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro

SALAD:
1 LB dried red lentils
1 1/4 C currants
1/2 C capers
1 C finely chopped red onion

PREPARATION

Whisk together the dressing and set aside. Wash lentils. Cook in boiling water 5-6 minutes or until just tender. Rinse and drain well. Combine with the other salad ingredients. Add the dressing; mix well and let marinate at least overnight. Stir before serving.

Be sure and let me know what you think if you try the recipe. I will be making this again and again. I loved it.

I will be checking in again tomorrow.

Revisited: 5-Star Gingersnap Recipe

Today I modified America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for gingersnap cookies to fit into my non-refined sugar criteria. That mean basically just substituting white sugar with maple sugar.

The results were excellent. The cookies have a real snap and they are filled with freshly ground ginger for a nice little kick.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe I can declare this the best gingersnap recipe EVER. That’s what America’s Test Kitchen does, after all. They take the best recipes for a dish or dessert and work out all the kinks before presenting them to the public.

The secret to the recipe below is browning the butter. This removes excessive moisture. Also, it’s important to move the baking sheet down from the top level to the middle rack 1/2 way through the backing.

Here is the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen:

Gingersnaps

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

We wanted to put the “snap” back in Gingersnap cookies. This meant creating a cookie that not only breaks cleanly in half and crunches satisfyingly with every bite but also has an assertive ginger flavor and heat. The key to texture was reducing the moisture in the final baked cookie.
Makes 80 1½-inch cookies

For the best results, use fresh spices. For efficiency, form the second batch of cookies while the first batch bakes. And no, the 2 teaspoons of baking soda is not a mistake; it’s essential to getting the right texture.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch cayenne
1 1/4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar (or maple sugar if you’re worried about eating refined sugar)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (Or maple sugar if not using refined)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.

3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.

TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.

LOADING UP ON LEAVENING

Using a full 2 teaspoons of baking soda in our cookie dough instead of the more typical ½ to 1 teaspoon not only helped create desirable fissures in the final cookie but also helped it dry out. Baking soda is an alkaline substance that weakens the gluten (the network of proteins that gives most baked goods their structure) in a dough or batter. Weaker gluten means a more porous structure from which air bubbles and moisture can burn off. It also means that the dough will collapse after its initial rise in the oven, leading to cracks that also allow more moisture to escape.

PUTTING THE SNAP IN GINGERSNAPS

The hallmark of gingersnap cookie texture—big crunch—came down to one key factor: drying out the dough.

BROWN THE BUTTER Butter is 16 percent water. Browning it before whisking it with the sugar, eggs, and flour eliminates moisture.

CUT BACK ON SUGAR The brown sugar in our recipe holds on to water, even after baking. Our solution? Use just 1 1/4 cups.

TURN DOWN THE OVEN Baking the cookies in a low (300-degree) oven gives the dough ample time to gradually—but thoroughly—dry out.

STAGGER THE BAKING Baking each tray on the top rack before moving it to the cooler bottom rack creates fissures that allow moisture to escape.

Pictures of My Cookies Made Today

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cookie 1