Friday, August 21, 2015

Lemon Cream Cheese Bars



Preheat oven to 325.

Crust:
6 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 cup flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, blend together crust ingredients until the mixture is tiny, fine pieces.
Spread the mixture into 9x13 baking pan and press evenly into bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes and remove from the oven.

Cream Cheese Layer:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cream cheese with mixer until smooth.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.  Pour over warm crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the temperature down to 300.

Lemon Layer:
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4  cup lemon juice
1/3 cup flour, sifted

Whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined.  Stir in lemon juice and flour.  Pour over semi-baked cheesecake (it’s okay if it breaks up the cheesecake…it is wonderful marbled!).  Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle top with powdered sugar (optional).  Cool until room temperature (about 1-2 hours).  Refrigerate.  Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Smothered Pork Chops



This is an easy dish, just be patient on the baking time.  Very tasty and worth the time they take to bake.  These could also be placed into a crockpot and cooked for 5-7 hours on low or about 3-5 hours on high.  This recipe makes a lot; feel free to half the recipe.

8-10 small pork chops (I used boneless ones but the ones with bones would be more flavorful)
Favorite seasoned salt
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil for browning the meat
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1-2 medium yellow onions, cut into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup flour
1 can beef broth

Season both sides of the pork chops with the seasoned salt.  Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the coconut oil.  Quickly brown the pork chops (don’t get them done, just browned) in the melted coconut oil.  Place them in a medium roasting pan or dutch oven.  Put the onions into the hot pan and sauté for a few minutes, just to brown a bit.  Pour them over the meat. 

Add the bacon drippings and garlic, stir to combine.  Sprinkle the flour over the bottom of the skillet and stir to combine.  Allow to cook until slightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the broth.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until it’s bubbly and starting to thicken.  Pour over the meat and onions.  Put the lid on the pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2-2 hours, until desired tenderness (this will depend on the size of the chops).  Be sure to check them after one hour and every 20 minutes or so after that.

Serve with vegetables and mashed potatoes or rice.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cake



I got this idea from a Cook’s Country episode.  I altered it because I’ve never had much luck making my own strawberry layer cake.  I was afraid of the layers sliding since there are sliced strawberries between the layers so I made 9 inch square layers instead of round.

To me, this is a cross between a strawberry shortcake and a strawberry cake.  The fresh sliced strawberries really add a great taste!  And the cream cheese frosting isn’t as sweet as plain strawberry frosting.

2 layers of your favorite strawberry cake (I chose Pillsbury strawberry cake mix), baked and cooled
8 ounces washed strawberries
2/3 to 3/4 cup strawberry solids (I chopped strawberries with my food processor, then strained them—you probably need about 1 1/2 cups strawberries, then you will have some juice to use for something else)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
10 tablespoons butter, softened
3 ½ to 4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter.  Add the strawberry solids and mix until combined.  Beat in the powdered sugar a little at a time.  Place frosting in the refrigerator.

Hull and slice the strawberries.  Lay the slices out on paper towels to get some moisture out of them.  Use another paper towel to place over the strawberries to pat the tops dry.

Level the cake layers.  Place one layer, cut side down onto a platter.  Place a thin layer of frosting on top.  Arrange sliced strawberries over the frosting.  Place another layer of frosting over the strawberries.  Cover with the 2nd layer, cut side down.  Frost the rest of the cake.  Arrange sliced strawberries on top as desired.
Store in the refrigerator until serving.

You will probably have frosting leftover.  I put the cut tops from the cake on a plate and frost them.  It would probably be good on toasted English muffins too.  Or strawberry shortcakes. Of course, eating with a spoon is good too.  I'm thinking it would even taste good on cardboard!




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lemon Cream Cake



Top sprinkled with powdered sugar.
This is my attempt to make a cake similar to Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake.  It was wonderful!  However, it’s been so long since I’ve had the real thing, I’m not sure this measures up.  Still very good and my family agreed.

Cake:
Lemon Cake mix (this is what I used…we really like lemon! The real cake has a vanilla cake though) or vanilla cake mix, mixed according to directions.

Crumb Topping:
¾ cup flour
6 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons butter, sliced into 8 slices
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar (this will be used right before serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together flour and sugar, toss with butter.  Cut butter into flour and sugar mixture.  You can use a food processor for this.  You want it to be fine pieces, almost like sand.  Toss with vanilla.

Bake half of the cake batter in a 9-inch springform pan (grease and flour pan) for about 20 minutes or until done.  This is the bottom half of the cake.   

Bake the second half of the cake batter in same pan (wash, dry, grease and flour pan after first half is baked), sprinkle the crumb topping over top of cake after about 5 minutes of baking.  Bake until done, about 15 more minutes.

Allow cakes to cool completely.

Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cold water
2 egg yolks, beaten
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces cream cheese, softened

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and flour. Stir in water until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Put back on the heat and bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the lemon juice and butter

Transfer to a glass bowl. Cover with clear wrap or wax paper.  Cool to room temperature without stirring. Refrigerate until chilled.

Beat the cream cheese.  Add the lemon filling and beat until smooth.

Assemble the cake inside the springform pan.  Place the bottom layer in the bottom (cut off domed top if necessary).  Spread the lemon mixture evenly over cake.  Add top layer.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle cake with 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar.  Using a mesh strainer is great for this!

Be sure to cut the cake with a sharp knife inside the springform pan.  Then remove the sides of the pan to serve the cake pieces.  This keeps the cake from squishing the cream filling out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls (My Favorite)













This is my favorite cinnamon roll recipe. It can be time consuming but if you have a bread machine, it’s much easier. Just use the dough cycle. When it's done, proceed with the recipe where you flatten the dough out.

My husband describes these as “not sugary, kinda creamy.”

Melt a stick of butter to have on hand for the smaller amounts of melted butter throughout the recipe. Be sure to stir well before measuring out what you need (this redistributes the solids).

DOUGH
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (you will need 2 packets but you won’t use all of the 2nd one)
1 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
½ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
½ cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
¾ teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (more or less)
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided (this is not mixed into the dough)

FILLING
¾ + 2 tablespooons brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

GLAZE
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

DOUGH
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Add the butter, milk, egg, salt, remaining sugar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (I probably only knead 3 or 4 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12x17 rectangle (I have a cookie sheet this size and I just pat it out into it. You can really do whatever size you want.

Brush 2 tablespoons melted butter over the dough.

FILLING/ASSEMBLY
Mix the filling ingredients together (mix the dry ingredients first; then add the wet and stir). Mixture should resemble wet sand. Sprinkle/spread onto the dough as evenly as possible. From the long edge, roll the dough up as tightly as you can. Slice into 16 pieces.

Butter 2 round cake pans (I prefer the disposable foil pans; they don’t stick for some reason). Place the rolls into the pan; 1 in the middle and 7 around the one. Brush with 2 tablespoons butter. Let rise in warm place (a cold oven with the light on is a great place!) for about 30 minutes or until the rolls are almost to the top of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-20 minutes or until golden brown (I place them on the rack just below the middle one to help the bottoms get done).

GLAZE
Cream the cream cheese with the mixer (you can just whisk all this but it’s much creamier with the mixer), add the butter, milk, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until well mixed.

Spread over the rolls you want to use immediately; place the rest in the refrigerator until you are going to use it.

NOTES: It’s best to gently warm the leftover rolls one or two at a time in the microwave. Placing them in the oven tends to dry them out, though they are still yummy this way.

These freeze well! After assembling them, brush the butter on them, place some plastic wrap on the surface of the rolls and cover with foil. Freeze for up to a few months. When needed, thaw them and rise in a cold oven with the light on (you can speed the process by placing a large bowl or pan with hot tap water in it inside the oven). It takes about 2-3 hours. Bake as directed above. I’m sure you can thaw the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and just rise them the next morning…I just haven’t tried this yet.

The icing can be frozen as well. A freezer bag works great for this; just be sure to get all the air out of it before freezing. You can thaw it in the refrigerator.

If you want to bake them the day before and just re-heat, consider leaving the icing off. They seem to reheat a bit better, then you can add the icing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies


This is my mom’s recipe.  It’s the one I’ve always used.  I’ve tried others before but they just don’t compare to this one.  It has the right amount of peanut buttery taste, sweetness, and softness (or crispness if you bake a bit longer).  You can barely bake (for soft cookies) or bake a little longer (for crunchy cookies).  My husband and I like soft; our girls like crisp (for dipping in milk!).  Since I get distracted easily and don’t always remove them early for the soft ones, I usually end up with some soft and some crisp.

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups flour (you can use 2 for richer cookies but I prefer 3 for the texture)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the sugars and blend well.  Mix in vanilla and eggs.  Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Place balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet (I use a cookie scoop, but you can just make small balls; about the size of a walnut or smaller).  Flatten with a fork dipped in white sugar to make a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Allow to cool for a minute or two.  Remove from pans to wax paper, a kitchen towel, or a cake rack. 
Enjoy!