Monday, October 31, 2011

Mom's Perfect Chocolate Cake!

Happy Halloween! The boys and I couldn't decide which Halloween treats we wanted to make this year. Ghosts in the graveyard cake has been our annual tradition for the past thirteen years, or a Boo-tiful Cake that we liked from Martha Stewart. We made both! Ghost in the graveyard cake recipe can be found at www.kraftrecipes.com and for the Boo-tiful cake www.marthastewart.com. I used the cake decorating idea from Martha and made my Mom's perfect chocolate cake recipe along with my buttercream frosting. It's cute, fun and the cake is moist, delicious and has a creamy filling between the layers. Remember Suzy Q's!!

When we are getting ourselves ready for the holidays, I often find myself quietly thanking our mom for giving my siblings and I a fun Halloween! I remember carved lighted pumpkins on the doorsteps, frosted Halloween cutouts on the table, dressing up, school parties, trick-or-treating in our small town and our last stop at the local Fire House. They would have hot cider, popcorn balls and doughnuts. Once home we would sort our candy, trade with each other, dump everything back in our Halloween pumpkin pails and off to bed. Our mom doesn't remember any of this, she is suffering with dementia, but I do. Fun stuff of the past, things I do now to make it fun for our family and hoping our boys will carry on in the future. I often wonder what she is thinking or remembering when I see her. I will not forget you it says in Isaiah 49:15. I know that God has not forgotten her, and when she smiles at someone she recognizes, he has given her a moment. I was surprised to receive a package in the mail containing one of my favorite candies, no one knows that I like this candy, but God knew! He knew that mom and I made homemade taffy for a classroom project together. He remember me with a gift from my past.

Mom's Perfect Chocolate Cake
1 cup unsifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water
2 1/2 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

9 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup milk or cream (more as needed)

In a medium bowl, combine unsweetened cocoa with 2 cups boiling water until smooth.
Sift the flour, soda, salt and baking powder. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour three 9 x 1 1/2" layer cake pans. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till light and fluffy about 5 minutes. At low speed beat in the flour mixture in fourths alternating with the cocoa mixture in thirds. Begin and end with the flour. Do not overbeat. Divide evenly into the pans and bake 25-30 minutes. Knife should come out clean when done. Cool completely.

While cake is baking beat the cream, sugar and vanilla till fluffy. Cover & refrigerate till ready to fill the cake.

To make the frosting, beat the softened butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk to make a spreading consistency. Usually, it takes just about 5 minutes.

Assemble the cake by placing one layer on plate, 1/2 the filling, the next layer of cake, the rest of the filling and the last layer of cake. Frost top & sides and decorate anyway you wish.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup

I have been on a quest for the best recipe for homemade tomato soup that my family approves of. Too many times the recipe calls for onions, celery, garlic, carrots, a little of this and that, and it seems they overpower the taste of the tomatoes. I needed a soup that was smooth & creamy. While reading www.injennieskitchen.com/  I came across this recipe. With the short list of ingredients, most of which I had on hand, including canned whole peeled tomatoes, it was placed on the top of my "To Do" list. I love the fact that it calls for canned tomatoes. October is for apples not tomatoes. As I walked in our kitchen while the tomatoes were roasting I thought I was standing in a garden full of vine ripe tomatoes ready for the picking! I could not wait for the tomatoes to cool fast enough to put this soup together. Since my family likes their soup on the creamy side I added more cream. I have two more recipes marked to try, but after just a spoonful of this soup, it's a keeper!

Is not tomato soup with grilled cheese, macaroni & cheese, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken & biscuits and apple pie, the comfort foods of all time? One bite of any of these dishes and my body just says "Thank You". It says in 2 Corinthians 1:3 that we have a God that comforts us in any trouble so that we can comfort someone else who is going through the same situation. Isn't it exciting to know that you may meet someone who went through what you are currently enduring, and they can offer words of encouragement and hope. "This too shall pass", I often hear echoing in my head, and with time it does, bringing more faith, strength and wisdom for next hurdle. An endless circle of giving comfort and receiving comfort. With your eyes and ears open, you may be a comfort to someone along the way. This person may become of friend of a lifetime. That's how I met one of my dearest friends. Thanking God above for a true treasure in the darkness!

This soup is worth keeping your pantry stocked with canned whole peeled tomatoes!

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (mine had basil added)
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
drizzle of olive oil, just about 2 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I had chicken broth in my pantry and used that)
1 1/2 cups reserved tomato juice
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used a pint)
croutons or crackers


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil; set aside.

Drain tomatoes, saving the juices for the soup. Slice the tomatoes in half and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & brown sugar. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for one hour. Remove tray and cool for 10 minutes. 

Transfer cooled tomatoes to blender, add the stock and blend until smooth. Pour into a soup pot and heat until warm. Stir in the cream and warm for about a minute. Serve with croutons or crackers. I placed all my ingredients in a soup pot & used my immersion blender. This made enough for four with sandwiches, if you want leftovers, double the recipe.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raspberry Coffee Cake

October is breast cancer awareness month, and in honor of my Mother-in-law, Jean, I made this raspberry coffee cake. I remember a Christmas day when my Sister-in-law and her made this together. It was delicious and I've loved it ever since. One bite and I remembered just how darn good it is. There is just something about coffee cake! The cake is light, and the raspberry filling with confectioners' glaze adds just the right amount of sweetness. You can have it ready in just about 30 minutes and it's perfect for that afternoon coffee break.

My Mother-in-law was kind, gracious and very giving woman. She loved her family, the lake and NYC. For me she lived Ephesians 5:9-consisting of goodness, righteousness and truth. Also Titus 2:3-teaching women to love their families and to be busy at home.  She taught me many things as I observed her life, such as keeping the house quiet while someone is sleeping, and just "let them sleep themselves out". A faithful servant at her local church she gave above & beyond, not just 1 Samaritan box but several. A  Christmas tree would go up every Christmas at church and she would collect warm clothing, decorate the tree with it, then  donate it to the local Rescue Mission. She gave a homeless man on her New York street, coffee and doughnuts, when there was a need she met it. "Real" cream for coffee she would say, and you can never have enough food at a gathering. Birthdays are a celebration no matter the age! Holiday traditions are important to pass on, as with setting a pretty table whether having a picnic or an elaborate meal. Jean had a card for every occasion, an area that I fall behind in, but my Sister-in-law excels in. I find myself doing many of these things in my life today. Jean was a Godly example to family, neighbors and her community. We are daily witnesses to people around us, what do they see in you?

Raspberry Coffee Cake
3 oz cream cheese-softened
4 tablespoons butter-softened
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk

Using a pastry blender or fork cut the cream cheese, butter and Bisquick until it resembles small peas. Blend in the milk and mix. Dough will be on the wet side. Turn onto a floured board and knead a few times. Place on wax paper and roll out to a 12x8" rectangle. Turn over onto a greased baking sheet, remove the wax paper. Spread the raspberry jam down the middle of the rectangle. Make 2 1/2" long cuts at 1" inch intervals down both sides of the dough, folding each slit toward the center. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Just till golden brown. Cool. Combine the glaze ingredients mixing until smooth and drizzle over the coffee cake. To serve I cut down the middle and then across separating each cut.

Double the recipe and pass one on.

Eat Well, Sonya


Monday, October 10, 2011

Slab Pie!

Never heard of it? Neither have I, until I came across this recipe featured in the Special issue of Everyday Food. As soon as I read the recipe I knew exactly who I was going to make this for and why. You see, a friend of mine is in the process of building her first house and the contractors were getting ready to pour the slab foundation. Well, a slab foundation needs to be celebrated with a Slab Pie!!
Building a house is huge and is much more than the materials. It's family traditions, love, laughter, tears, a place of refuge, a comfort zone where one is free to be who they are. I'm very glad that my foundation starts with my faith in God. Without him, I would fee incomplete. Isaiah 28:16

Please don't let the size of this pie scare you away. A whole jelly roll size! I wondered myself how in the world is this crust going to roll out? This was one of the easiest pies I have made. The crust rolled out beautifully and the filling was a quick throw together. Fresh peaches in August, Amen!! Homemade whipped cream was the garnish of choice. One bite and Oh my, it was absolutely delicious. It all came together, our August evening sharing Slab pie with family & friends, celebrating a foundation and the solid building of a continued future for mother & daughter. Congratulations! 

Is there something in someones life that needs a little celebrating. Try this pie. Swapping out peaches for apples or stone fruits would produce equally good results. Don't be surprised if someone shows up wanting to trade you a plant for a piece of leftover Slab pie!

Slab Pie
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups cold unsalted butter (4 sticks) cut into small cubes
2/3 cups ice water

In a food processor process the flour, salt & sugar until combined. Add the cold butter & process until mixture resembles small peas. With machine running add 2/3 cup ice water pulsing till the dough is crumbly and holds together. (If necessary add 1/2 cup ice water, 1 Tablespoon at a time) Do not over mix! Divide dough into 2 disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400.

3 3/4 pound peaches-rinsed & thinly sliced (12 cups)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Toss together and set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface roll out 1 disk to a 12x16" rectangle. Roll the dough over rolling pin and carefully unroll over rimmed jelly roll pan. Pressing lightly to fit. Pour in the peach filling and light brush edges with water. Repeat with remaining dough unrolling over the filling. Press along the edges to seal & crimp. With a paring knife cut slits on to top to vent. Place pie in oven and reduce the temperature to 375. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling. 45-50 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before serving. 

Serves 12-14. To serve 6-8 people halve recipe and use a 9" pie plate.

Eat Well, Sonya