Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkin Dream Cake

Look! I made a cake:

IMG_6922And a baby girl:

IMG_6761Miss Margaret Lynne arrived in this world on November 1st. I told her all along I didn’t want an October baby, so once that clock struck midnight ending Halloween night she decided to make her appearance even quicker than her brother! Y’all, I thought the 3 hours 25 min we were at hospital before Elliott was born was fast. Margaret arrived a little over an hour after we got to the hospital. Yeah… We love her SO much, and I’m so excited to share my birth month with her!

It’s been a LONG long time since I made a layer cake. I’ve been wanting to make The Novice Chef’s Pumpkin Dream Cake forever (and by forever, I obviously mean since she posted it in 2012). Margaret was born on the 1st, my birthday is on the 12th, and thanks to the newborn sleepies, I was actually able to make this for myself! I did make the cake one day, and the frosting the next. Don’t think I’m some kind of superwoman. With new babies, they just sleep a lot! I used to be able to do more baking when Elliott was tiny as well. It’s when they get really mobile and require all your attention, all the time, that I found it hard to get anything done. I’m trying to soak up all this time while I can!

This cake truly was a dream! I hate that I waited so long to make it. It’s light, fluffy, moist, and delicious. And the maple cream cheese frosting is dreamy as well. I LOVE true maple flavored things, and this was a great frosting to pair with the cake. I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top to hide my awful frosting skills. If you’re looking for a non-pie, but still seasonal dessert for your Thanksgiving table, this is a great option!

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Pumpkin Dream Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. (I used two 9 inch pans, see the bottom of the post for baking times for it, as well as cupcakes.) Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it form the oven.)

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.

Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.

Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

ADDITIONAL BAKING TIMES:
two 9 inch pans: 40-50 minutes at 300 degrees, then 45 minutes in the freezer
cupcakes (yield 30): 18-20 minutes at 300 degrees, no time in freezer necessary

recipe from The Novice Chef

Monday, October 27, 2014

Turkey Chili with Kale

IMG_6641The other day I decided I wanted to make a traditional chili. While I have other chili recipes on my blog, one in particular is my “standard”, and it’s my Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili. I just love that chili, but I made it not too long ago. When I think of a traditional chili, I think of one like my parents make, with just meat, beans, & spaghetti (yes, spaghetti!). I went browsing online at recipes I have bookmarked and somehow I ended up on this chili. SO.OBVIOUSLY.NOT what I set out to make! To be honest, this “chili” is probably closer to a soup or stew. It’s far from the traditional recipe I originally set out to make, but it was so delicious I knew I had to snap a photograph so I could put it on the blog.

The ground turkey, frozen corn, beans, diced tomatoes, and kale make a really healthy & filling meal. I really wish I had doubled this to make extra to freeze for later meals when the baby comes (any day now!). I love eating vegetables, and I feel I’ve been really slacking in getting my act together and making healthy, well rounded meals. I did a few adaptions to the original recipe. I only used 1 lb of ground turkey, as that’s how the package was portioned (original recipe called for 1.5 lbs), and I think 1 lb was plenty. Also the original recipe called for black beans only, because the author’s spouse prefers them. Well, I prefer a mixture, and my local grocery carries a trio blend of beans with black beans, kidney beans, & pinto beans. Perfect for chili! Also, I added in more than the originally called for 2 cups of broth, as I felt it needed to be a bit soupier. But I also may have added in more than the 1/2 bunch of kale. So you can adjust your ingredients based on your liking.

This chili was given 2 thumbs up from me, my husband, and my father in law. I was worried it might be a little too out there for him, but he said it was really good! Elliott of course didn’t eat it, because why would a 2 year old want to eat meat or vegetables? *sigh* One day I hope he’ll be less picky, but until then, I’ll continue to eat his serving of this along with mine! ;)

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

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Oh man, my apologies for the delay in posting this. I made this for the first time LAST fall. This recipe was so ridiculously simple, I really didn’t think it could taste all that good. But we knew within first bite this one was a definite keeper. It’s amazing to me, that despite a slight change in my work scheduling allowing me a little more time at home, there are STILL not enough hours in the day & week to get everything done, and a home cooked meal on the table every day. The crockpot certainly comes in handy, and I have a feeling it might become a permanent fixture on our counter once Baby W-2 arrives. At least during the early weeks & months. (Uhhh… I think I forgot to mention this new addition on here. Sorry!)

You really can’t beat the simplicity of this. You literally plop the meat in the slow cooker, pour over the jar of pepperoncinis, add in a little more water, and turn that thing on. I do like to add some salt & pepper to the meat. You can brown the meat if you want to, but if you don’t have time you can totally skip that step. You can add in a packet of au jus mix, or some garlic cloves if you want, but it’s just as tasty without. I’ll post the simplest version, and you can decide how much you want to alter it.

(Click Read more for the recipe!)

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Unique Nashville Biscuits

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Friends, I think I have found my new life-mantra “Life is better with biscuits.” My second guest post for the Music City Food + Wine Festival features some of my favorite unique biscuit offerings in town. I chose to highlight some of the dishes around town that are beyond your basic biscuit sandwich. Nashville has tons of places that serve biscuits in traditional ways, but there are also quite a few places where you can get something truly unique. With toppings likes caramelized banana jam, spicy remoulade, smoked Duke’s mayonnaise, or shredded smoked chicken, surely your taste buds are curious. Check out my post to learn more about these amazing biscuit specialties!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Buttermilk Biscuits

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I’ve had biscuits on my mind a lot these days. You see, I was asked again this year to be a Blog Ambassador for the Music City Food + Wine Festival (formerly the Music City Eats Festival), and they wanted me to contribute a post to their blog. The topic was of my choosing. Last year I wrote about my favorite coffee shops, and it stretched into two posts. Somehow I got it in my head to write about biscuits. While I have a plentiful breakfast tag here on the blog, with a handful of scone recipes, I’ve never posted a biscuit recipe. That’s because I have been searching, baking, testing biscuits recipes for a couple years now. I wanted to be sure when I posted a biscuit recipe, it was THE biscuit recipe. Well, I’m not sure this is the FINAL biscuit recipe, but it’s the final-for-now biscuit recipe, as it’s the one I’ve been making for over a year now.

If you already have your favorite biscuit recipe, please share with me! And be sure to head over to the Music City Food + Wine Festival blog to see my discussion about what to put on your biscuit. Perhaps I have suggestions you’ve never heard of! (Like maybe sorghum!)

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This biscuit recipe I came across via Smitten Kitchen. I find it funny that she scaled back a recipe 3/4, and I have taken to doubling it. I do a couple things different than her. First, I combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter in the food processor (partly because I’m lazy, and because I am doubling it). Second, I never ever ever make these biscuits in the morning before eating them. NOPE. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Now that Elliott actually sleeps in until 7am or sometimes even 8am in the morning, I choose to sleep as well. What I do is make these biscuits when I have a free afternoon, or while he is napping. I often make 2 double batches back to back. I roll out the dough, and cut out all the biscuits. *I DO NOT BAKE THEM!*  Then I put them on cookie sheets and pop them into the freezer. Once they are frozen I put them in an airtight container. This way, we can have biscuits on demand whenever we want. Weekend mornings we roll out of bed, turn on the oven, walk the dog, make our coffee, and put the biscuits in. Because the biscuits are being cooked from a frozen state, I add an extra 3 minutes or so to the baking time. This gives us just enough time to fry up some country ham, or of my dad’s homemade sausage or bacon, and fry a few eggs as well.

I’m telling you, once you start making biscuits in advance & freezing them you’ll never ever go back, and you’ll always have fresh, hot, homemade biscuits ready in under 30 minutes, depending on how long it takes your oven to preheat. ;)

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