Taste and see …

a few recipes – but no pictures… April 21, 2010

Filed under: Cakes,Crock pot,Desserts,Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 8:57 PM

Wow – it’s been a while.  I’ve actually cooked (and baked) a decent amount, just haven’t bothered telling y’all about it for whatever reason.  I know I got side-tracked with Easter (which was awesome, btw!!) and then just got lazy.  Oops.  So what have I been cooking over the last month?? Stuff… that usually involved veggies and cheese, among other things.  I actually went through all my cooking magazines that I’ve collected over the last several years and pulled out just the recipes that sounded good, and threw the rest out.  My living room looks, well, about the same, actually.  But instead of a large stack of magazines, I’ve got a much smaller stack of magazine pages.  I’m going to have to organize those at some point.  Anyway, I decided to share a couple of my favorite recipes from the last month, and presumably next week sometime I’ll be back to one recipe per post, or at least more frequent postings than once a month.

Recipe #1

“BLT” Pasta

from Kraft Food magazine (available here as well)

  • 3 cups (8 oz.) penne pasta, uncooked
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut up
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, cook cream cheese, milk and Parmesan cheese in a large skillet on medium-high heat for 3 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.  Add remaining ingredients; cook and stir 5 min. or until heated through.

Drain pasta; return to pan.  Add sauce; toss to coat.

I love this recipe – it’s got bacon, cheese and pasta – yummy! (and I use an extra slice or two of bacon – just FYI)  However, it’s not as yummy as leftover lunch the next day.  It tastes fine, it’s just not as good.  Maybe it’s just me.

Recipe #2

Jane’s potato soup

(From Cooking with Paula Deen)

  • 1 30 oz. bag frozen hash-brown potatoes
  • 3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
  • 1 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

In a 6-quart crock pot, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper.  Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours.  Stir in cream cheese; cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined.  Garnish with green onions, if desired.

I was in a hurry when I made this – I got home later than I was planning and didn’t want to wait the 5 1/2 hours it would have taken to cook, so I cooked it on high for 2 1/2 hours or so instead.  It tasted just fine, but the onions were still a little crunchy… I think the faster cook time didn’t cook them all the way?  I’ve only used my crock pot a couple of times, so I just sort of assumed that putting the heat on high instead of low would just cook everything twice as fast.  Oh well…

And of course there has to be a dessert in here…

Recipe #3

Lemon Pound Cake

(from Cook’s Country)


  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

*3 lemons gives you more than enough zest and juice for the whole recipe

For the cake:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl.  Stir sour cream and lemon juice together in a second bowl.

Using fingers, toss lemon zest and sugar together in large bowl until clumps are gone.  Add butter and beat with electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add beaten eggs in three additions, mixing until smooth and scraping down bowl after each addition (mixture will begin to look curdled).  With mixer on low, add one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl.  Repeat, ending with flour mixture.  Scrape down bowl, then mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Use rubber spatula to give batter final stir.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 55 to 70 minutes.

For the syrup:

While cake bakes, stir sugar and lemon juice together in saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.  Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside.

Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack.  Brush top and sides of still-warm cake with syrup and cool completely, about 2 hours.

For the glaze:

Whisk confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in bowl until smooth.  Spread glaze over cake, allowing some to drip down sides.  Let glaze set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Funny story about this pound cake… I initially made it on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that I would have enough time before Bible study to get through the syrup step.  However, I had taken a nap and didn’t realize that the cake took an hour just to bake until after I had already put it in the oven.  So I turned the temperature up, thinking I would just see what happened – I needed to leave by a certain time.  Now, I don’t think I have a 9×5 pan, I think I have the next size down, because when I poured the batter in, it came pretty close to the top of the pan.  But I didn’t know until after this experience that I don’t have a 9×5 – I thought I did – so I just put the pan in the oven with all the batter in it!  Not a good idea… it overflowed a bit.  I was going to put a cookie tray under it once I realized there was batter all over the bottom of my oven, but then I realized I had to leave in like, a half hour, and the batter on the floor of the oven was starting to burn, and yeah, it was just not good.  I ended up just pulling the pan out of the oven and throwing out my partially done cake – it was pretty messy!!  And my oven is still burning off the batter, I think, because every time I’ve used it since I can smell it burning.  mmm!! 😛  At any rate, I still really wanted to make this, so I gave it another shot another day when I actually had the time to bake it properly.  And I also made myself a little mini-loaf with the extra batter so I didn’t overflow again – it was wicked good!! 🙂


Cupcake or muffin? March 23, 2010

Filed under: Breads,Cakes,Desserts — F. Penner @ 7:37 PM
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I’m not really sure what to call what I baked tonight, hence the title…  The original recipe calls it a cake, so I guess they’re cupcakes?  Except that they haven’t got frosting, and they’re maybe a little healthier than your average cupcake, and you could possibly eat one for breakfast.  So maybe they’re muffins?  Regardless, they’re yummy :).

Today was the second rainy day in a row, which normally wouldn’t be too bad, except that we had absolutely gorgeous weather over the weekend.  I was in short sleeves and flip-flops Saturday and Sunday – it was awesome!!  And now it’s back to normal spring weather, including lots of rain.  So after sitting at my desk all day, staring at my computer and wishing it were the weekend again, I decided I need to bake something.  I realized while I was eating my lunch that I had an extra container of vanilla yogurt at home, and got to wondering whether or not I could substitute the vanilla yogurt for plain yogurt in this one recipe I have for banana bread/cake/whatever.  It’s also got chocolate and cinnamon and walnuts in it, at least in the original recipe – I changed a couple of things around…  I thought maybe making cupcakes/muffins would be better than making a whole cake – they’d be easier to freeze, share, etc. – and I’m really not a fan of walnuts (except when they’re in baklava) so I opted for almonds instead.

My revised version of Banana Chocolate Walnut Cake

adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 6 oz. container vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup almonds (3 ounces), toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.  Line muffin tins with 18 liners.

Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together softened butter (1 stick) and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in eggs 1 at a time until blended. Beat in bananas, yogurt, and vanilla (mixture will look curdled).

With mixer at low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Toss together chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, melted butter, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Place about 1 good-sized spoonful (just a regular spoon) of batter in each liner – you should go through half of the batter – then half a spoonful or so of the chocolate mixture on top of that (again, going through about half of the mixture).  Divide the rest of the batter evenly on top of the chocolate mixture, smoothing the batter to cover the chocolate in the middle.  Spoon the rest of the chocolate mixture on top of each muffin.

Bake for 24-27 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

*Alternately, you can also pour half of the batter into a buttered 9-inch square pan, sprinkle half of the chocolate mixture over that, pour the remaining batter over than, sprinkle the top with the rest of the chocolate, and bake for 35-40 minutes.

After writing this, eating one, and thinking about it, I’m still not sure whether these should be muffins or cupcakes… although I’m leaning towards muffins, because then if I end up eating one for breakfast, I won’t feel as guilty!  And just FYI – this recipe (cake or cupcake/muffin) tastes better warm – the chocolate gets nice and melty and gooey.


Easy chocolate cake (and it’s not from a box!) March 4, 2010

Filed under: Cakes,Desserts — F. Penner @ 10:10 PM
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I always put any uneaten bananas in my freezer because that way when I want to make banana bread, I don’t have to go to the store and try to find bananas that are ripe enough.  I just have to take a couple out, thaw them, and then I’ve got the beginnings of yummy banana bread.  So the other night when I wanted to make banana bread, I figured I’d be good to go.  I had the bananas, the flour, the sugar, the chocolate… but I didn’t have plain yogurt! (which this particular recipe calls for).  And it was after dinner, and I didn’t really feel like putting shoes on and going to the store just for some plain yogurt.  But at this point I had already gotten myself in the mood for baking something, so I went looking through my recipe tin to see what I could come up with.  And found an easy recipe for chocolate cake.  Score!  Easy and chocolate.  And the recipe said it freezes well.  I decided to use cake flour in place of the all-purpose, even though I’d never made it before, just to see how it would turn out.  It came out pretty good!  (but apparently I should have subbed an extra couple tablespoons of the cake flour for the all-purpose – I found that out today when I was looking for the difference between cake and all-purpose flour.  oops.)

Just a few more notes… Maybe because I used cake flour instead of all-purpose (or maybe I’m just paranoid that my cake is never done) but I ended up baking it for about 40-43 minutes.  I started with 35, and then kept adding a few minutes.  I also only had miniature chocolate chips on hand, so I used those.  They made a little crust on top, which is good, but I think the regular chocolate chips would have been better.  All in all, though, I thought this was pretty close to that light, fluffy, moist cake you get from a box mix – except better :).  And with a chocolate chip ‘frosting.’