Category Archives: Holidays

Recipe Round-up – Great Tasting Leftover Holiday ‪Ham‬ ‪Recipes

Welcome back, everyone.  I hope you had a joyous and blessed Easter with a chance to reconnect with friends and family. Holidays truly bring out the warmth and love in people with an open generosity of spirit.  And for us Foodies, we have the added benefit of being able to load up our holiday tables with our favorite recipes!

I am the one who usually does most of the meal preparation during holidays, but this year I fell ill with a bad cold.  The kind that went right to my chest. Yuk!  Needless to say, I wasn’t up to spending hours in the kitchen, to say nothing of spreading a bunch of germs.  Thankfully, my dear sweet daughter came to my rescue and pulled together a delightful and tasty meal.

Not being one to enjoy being idle, or sick for that matter, I decided to take the time and scour the world wide web looking for some great leftover recipe ideas for using up our holiday ham.  For those of you who also made ham, I think you will be inspired by the recipes I am sharing with you below.  I know they certainly gave me a ton of ideas and I can’t wait to give them a taste.

Here are some of my favorites:

Southern Living's Ham and Vegetable Cobbler
Southern Living

 

Ham and Vegetable ‪Cobbler – Southern Living

 

 

Glazed Ham Sliders with Pineapple and Brie on Hawaiian Rolls
Wildflours Kitchen

 

Glazed Ham  Sliders w/Pineapple & Brie on Hawaiian Rolls – Wildflours Cottage Kitchen

 

 

 

 

All of these recipes look and sound so delicious.  I hope you enjoy making them as much as I have posting them for you.  I would love to hear which recipe(s) you chose to make and how well they turned out for you.

Until next time, may your hearth and home be filled with warmth and love.

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago I found myself mulling over what to do with a head of cabbage and some tomatoes I had on hand that needed to be used.  I immediately thought of stuffed cabbage rolls, one of my favorites, but decided that I wanted to create something unique and different.  The recipe that follows is what I came up with and I have to give kudos to myself because this dish is absolutely delicious!  The first time I made this I used a sherry vinaigrette.  Yesterday, however, I thought what a great Irish recipe this could be and decided to use a warm bacon vinaigrette in place of the other vinaigrette to really bring out the Irish flavors.  Since I have Irish blood in my veins I thought this would be a great dish to prepare in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is exactly what I did!

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

I do want to point out, as you will see, this is not a quick recipe.  There is quite a bit of work involved, but much can be done a day ahead…right up to preparing the cabbage rolls, all ready to pop in the oven the next day.  I have made note of this in the recipe.  The only dish that needs to be prepared on the day of serving is the warm bacon vinaigrette, which is very easy and quick to prepare and can be done shortly before removing the cabbage rolls from the oven.


For the Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Ingredients

3 C sweet onion, finely chopped
4 C tomato (approximately 6 large), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 head roasted garlic, prepared as instructed below (or 4 cloves fresh, minced)
2 – 3.75 oz cans Smoked Oysters in Cottonseed Oil
1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp salt
8 Large green cabbage leaves, prepared as instructed belowDirections

To Prepare the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the entire head of cabbage. Allow to boil for approx. 15 minutes, until the outer leaves have softened and making them easier to peel. Remove from the boiling water, place in a strainer, blot dry with a paper towel, and allow to cool. Once cool, carefully remove the leaves (I usually remove a few extra just in case one of the leaves rips). Using a sharp knife carefully slice the thicker part of the core away (do this in an inverted V shape), carefully leaving the majority of the leave intact. Set aside to prepare the smoked oyster stuffing. (Note – these can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and stored flat until ready to use.)

For the Roasted Garlic:

Roasting garlic is easy and the taste is sublime.  The roasting process softens the garlic flavor and adds a touch of smokiness. (I usually do a couple of heads at a time to be used for a variety of other dishes.) For this stuffed cabbage recipe it adds a further smoky undertone, enhancing the flavor of the smoked oysters.  However, if you don’t wish to do this step feel free to substitue fresh garlic in the amount listed above.  (Note: this too can be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge in its foil until ready to use.)
  1. To roast, take one large, unpeeled head of garlic. Thinly slice and remove the top head of the garlic to slightly expose the cloves. Rub the entire head of the garlic with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with coarse ground kosher salt and black pepper. Wrap in a small square of aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast in a 400 deg. oven for 40 minutes, remove, and allow to cool slightly before removing from foil. Once cooled, remove from foil and set aside. When ready to use simply squeeze the whole head of garlic with your hand, turning the top upside down while gently pushing out the softened garlic.

For the Smoked Oyster Stuffing:

  1. In a large saute pan, cook the 4 bacon slices until crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon strips from the pan (reserving the bacon drippings). When cool crumble the bacon and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of the reserved drippings back to the pan (saving the rest of the drippings for the warm bacon vinaigrette) along with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on medium high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, just until onion begins to soften and becomes slightly translucent. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, for another 5-8 minutes, until very soft and translucent, being careful not to brown the onions.
  2. Add the chopped tomato, roasted garlic and salt. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the tomatoes to cook to a very soft consistency.
  3. Gently stir in the smoked oysters (along with the cottonseed oil in which they were packed), the fresh parsley and basil and continue cooking until heated through, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool. (Note – this too can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble the cabbage rolls, or you can assemble the rolls, as follows, and store in the prepared pan 1 day ahead of time – all that will be left on serving day is to place it in the oven and prepare the warm bacon vinaigrette.)

To Stuff the Rolls:

  1. Place one prepared cabbage leaf on a flat surface and place the smoked oyster filling (about 1/4 c) onto the bottom third of the leaf, spreading out to within 1/2″ of each side of the leaf. Begin rolling the leaf away from you, tucking the sides onto the roll as you go.
  2. Once rolled, place seam side down in a greased 9×13 pan on which you have spread a thin layer (about 1/4 c) of the roasted pepper puree (recipe follows), repeating with the remaining cabbage leaves until you have 8 cabbage rolls.  Lightly sprinkle the tops of the rolls with a few drops of water.
  3. Cover the pan with foil, place in a preheated 325 deg F oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  4.  Remove from oven, leaving covered while preparing the warm bacon vinaigrette (recipe below).

Roasted Red Pepper Puree:

Ingredients

1 10-oz jar roasted red peppers
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor add all of the ingredients and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use. This makes approximately 1-1/4 cups of puree.

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette:

Ingredients

4 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Dash fresh black pepper
4 slices smoked center-cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, drippings reserved
2 tbsp bacon drippings
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl mix together the rice vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, and dash of black pepper. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Remove, stir in the crumbled bacon, then briskly whisk in the bacon drippings and olive oil. Serve immediately.

To Assemble the Completed Dish:

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the roasted pepper puree onto the plate.  Arrange two of the prepared cabbage rolls on top of the puree.  Drizzle the warm bacon vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Nutrition Information:

8 total servings, 2 cabbage rolls each
Per Serving:  721 calories, 45 g carbohydrates, 56 g fat, 17 g protein
(This is definitely a “splurge” dish, but great for company or any other special occasion.)

Lucky Black-Eyed Peas with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Turkey – Happy New Year’s!

Happy 2015 everyone!  As I reflect  on 2014, I can say that it has certainly been a year of great joys, and great tribulations, as well.  Thankfully, however, the year has ended on a joyous note so I am feeling truly blessed and looking forward to a new year and new beginnings.

I am not an overly superstitious person by nature, but I have always observed New Year’s day with the preparation of “good luck” foods.  My favorites have always been in keeping with the southern tradition of serving black-eyed peas with rice and collard greens, and a nice big, buttery hunk of corn bread on the side (real butter only please).  It is said the black-eyed peas represent prosperity due to their similarity (and abundance) to the penny and collard greens represent “green money”.  That’s a definite plus in my book, so I will continue on each year with these superstitious traditions in the hopes that they come true.

I decided what better way to celebrate a new year and new beginnings than by sharing with you my favorite New Year’s Day Dish: Lucky Black-Eyed Peas with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Turkey.  I created this recipe several years ago as a replacement to the traditional Hoppin’ John.  Don’t get me wrong, Hoppin’ John is very good too, but, well, I decided I wanted to “kick it up a notch”…and….so….I did!

How did I do that you may be asking?  Well, my dears, quite simply, I decided that the addition of fire roasted tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, hickory smoked bacon, smoked turkey, and additional seasonings were just the ticket to creating a fabulous dish of Black Eyed Peas.  And, oh, I was so very happy with the final dish.  This truly takes the oft-overlooked, and sadly neglected, black-eyed pea to a whole new level.

For those of you who are vegetarians this also makes a very delicious and nutritious vegetarian meal.  Simply omit the bacon and turkey and substitute veggie base or stock in place of the the chicken called for in the recipe.

Give this recipe a try ya’ll, I swear you will not be disappointed.

Lucky Black-Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey:

Yield: 8 generous servings

4 slices Applewood or Hickory Smoked Center-Cut (thick) Bacon, chopped

1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped (approx. 2 cups) (note – I cut all the veggies into big chunks being that they will cook down as they simmer)

3 large carrots, coarsely chopped (approx 2 cups)

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (approx. 1 cup)

1 tbs minced ginger

1 tbs minced garlic

1 large sweet potato, coarsely chopped (approx. 2 cups)

2 cups black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked over

1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

10 cups cold water

1-1/2 tbs Better Than Bouillon Superior Touch Chicken Base (see note below)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (2-3 tsp hot sauce can also be used in place of the red pepper flakes)

4 Smoked Turkey Wings (or 2 Smoked Turkey Drumsticks)

Note – for those of you who may not be familiar with Better Than Bouillon Superior Touch Chicken Base I strongly urge you to give this a try as it makes a great alternative to chicken stock or broth and I use it frequently where a large volume of broth or stock is called for rather than using bouillon. I was sold on it the very first time I used it and I haven’t looked back since.  The flavor is amazing and there simply is no comparison between this and bouillon cubes, although you may use chicken broth in place of the water in this recipe if you do not have the chicken base.

Saute bacon over medium high heat in a 6 quart dutch oven (or equal sized stock pot) until fat renders.  Add onions, carrots, and celery. Saute until slightly tender (5-7 minutes).  Add minced ginger and garlic and continue stirring for an additional minute. Add sweet potato and next eight ingredients, stirring well.  Place the smoked turkey into the pot, pushing down to ensure that the turkey parts are covered with water (or broth, if using).  If they are not, add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring frequently and skimming foam from the surface.  Remove the pot from the heat and carefully remove the turkey, allowing it to cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and tear into bite sized pieces.  Return turkey to the pot and stir to incorporate.  Serve over rice, if desired, along with collard greens and corn bread for a truly delicious New Year’s dinner.

Lucky Black Eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Smoked Turkey Wings
Lucky Black Eyed Peas with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Turkey Wings

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  It is truly one of my favorites.

May you enjoy this New Year’s day surrounded with loved ones and good cheer, and may all your hopes and dreams be fulfilled in this wonderful new year!

Happy New Year
Have a Very Happy New Year from My Family to Yours!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Days 11 and 12

Merry Christmas To All!

I have to apologize that my last two recipes for Christmas Holiday Cakes and Cheesecakes are being posted two days after Christmas, but the hustle and the bustle got the best of me! I …. am….. sooooo …. sorry!
However, to make up for this, I am posting two really great recipes.  The first one is a delicious Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Southern Living.  Gingerbread is truly one of my favorites and this cake captures the great flavor of gingerbread with the essence of molasses, cloves and crystallized ginger.  The tang of the Buttermilk Frosting and the addition of the Spiced Glazed Pecans (walnuts would also be great) takes this cake over the top.  A truly delicious cake!
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Southern Living via MyRecipes
Land O'Lakes Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
Eggnog Cheesecake Bars from Land O’Lakes

My final offering for the 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake recipes are these wonderful Eggnog Bars featured on Land O’Lakes.  Nothing says Christmas more to me than Eggnog.  Its rich and creamy taste, with a hint of nutmeg, and sometimes the addition of rum, is truly a joyous occasion and I look forward to it each and every holiday season.

Hot Buttered Rum Sauce Recipe from Betty Crocker
Hot Buttered Rum Sauce from Betty Crocker

And since I have a hard time leaving well enough alone, allow me to suggest that this Hot Buttered Rum Sauce from Betty Crocker would truly be a delightful topping for this delectable cheesecake.  While I realize the addition of a rum-based sauce may not be to everyone’s liking, for those of us who like our eggnog spiced with rum this is truly the way to go 🙂

So there you have it folks… my final offerings for the 12 Days of Christmas Cakes and Cheesecakes.  I have had a great time rounding up these recipes to share with you and I truly hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have.

Before I bid you farewell, I would like to share with you my favorite Christmas Poem: The Night Before Christmas.  As a small girl, I would look forward to my mom pulling out our cherished Christmas decorations and books.  This book was the one I loved the most and could read again and again. The vintage illustrations were beautiful and the rhyming of the story truly made Christmas Eve such a magical and wonderful night.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

Twas The Night Before Christmas
Twas The Night Before Christmas
 Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
 While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
 Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys – and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
From my family to yours here’s hoping you and yours have a blessed Holiday season!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 10

Welcome back, everyone!

Are you done in from the Christmas season… the hustle and bustle, fighting the crowds, making a list and checking it twice?  When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to take the time to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to me.  The wonder and awe, the spirit of giving, the merriment of children are all around us during this beautiful time of year.  As I close my eyes and reflect on these things, I am instantly renewed with fresh purpose and drive, ready to finish all of those tiring Christmas chores!

Christmas Doesn't Come From The Store
In the Words of Grinch “Christmas Doesn’t Come From the Store”

 

And then, I bake a cake.  Today, though, not just any cake.  Today it is a cheesecake cake, a beautiful and festive Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake from 17andbaking.com.

Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake
Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake from 17 and Baking

This, my friends, is my idea of heaven!  The idea of cake and cheesecake baked into one irresistible goodie is enough to entice me, but gee, then to have it be red velvet cake AND frosted with cream cheese butter cream…OMG… I’m all in! I don’t think it can get much better than this so I have decided this is the desert that will be adorning my holiday table come Christmas day.

For those of you who may have some reservations about making this cake,  rest assured, it is not that difficult and can be done over the course of a couple of days by making the cheesecake the first day and finishing up with cake and butter cream the next.  Also, if you really want to make things easier, you can use a red velvet cake mix along with my tips for making a box mix taste like  homemade by clicking here.  Additionally, I have posted some really great pointers on how to make cheesecake like a pro and those tips can be found by clicking here.

I hope you find this beautiful Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake as appealing and delicious as I do.  I urge you to give this a go… you will definitely not be disappointed. I would love to hear your thoughts on the combination of cake and cheesecake together.  Do you find it as irresistible as I do?  To me, it truly is a thing of beauty! 🙂

So until  tomorrow everyone, take good care of yourselves and happy Christmas baking!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 9

How cute and whimsical is this semi-homemade Snowman Cake! This is another great Christmas Cake to make with your kiddos!  They will have so much fun helping you apply the coconut and assorted decorations.

Snowman Cake
Christmas Snowman Cake

This cake, featured at familydollar.com, calls for a white cake mix, but you could certainly use whatever flavor catches your fancy… red velvet would be a great alternative, as would chocolate or spice.  The choice is yours! Also, they suggest the use of melted candy coating to apply as “glue” to make the candy canes stick to the cones.  This really isn’t necessary, simply apply small dabs of the frosting to the cones and attach the canes.  One less ingredient to worry about! 🙂

Also, I know there are a lot of you out there who would never entertain the notion of baking a cake with a pre-made mix and that’s okay!  You can certainly use your favorite recipe to make this cake but, as for me, sometimes I am known to opt for the time-saving convenience of using a pre-made cake mix, particularly during the busy holiday season.  However, I do make adjustments to the cake to make it taste more like a bakery cake by following these simple steps:

  • Use equal amounts melted, unsalted butter in place of the vegetable oil.  The butter gives the cake a much richer, bakery like taste.
  • Use equal amounts whole milk in place of the water.  This also improves the flavor, as well as the texture of the cake.
  •  For those of you who like cakes made with buttermilk, use buttermilk powder reconstituted with water as per the instructions in equal amounts as called for in the cake mix. I personally love this stuff and use it frequently since it doesn’t require refrigeration.  I don’t know about you, but when I use fresh buttermilk I usually end up throwing some away and I so hate waste!  If you have never used buttermilk powder I urge you to give it a try.  It is readily available in the baking isle of well-stocked grocery stores.
  • Add 1 extra egg to the mix.  This makes for an even richer, fluffier cake.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract.  This also greatly improves the flavor and takes away that “cake mix” taste.
  • If you are using a chocolate mix, add 1 tbsp instant coffee granules to the whole milk and warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This really livens up the chocolate flavor of the cake.

You will find that if you use the above substitutions you will end up with a cake that no one will ever suspect was made from a cake mix.  I promise your secret is safe with me (unless you tell them, of course 😉  )!

Semi-homemade should never mean you have to sacrifice flavor, not in my world at least.  And while I generally tend to make things from all natural ingredients, there are those times when I certainly fall back on a semi-homemade recipe.  They are true time-savers, particularly during the busy holiday season.

I would love to hear your thoughts on using semi-homemade recipes… do ya’ll love ’em or do you hate ’em? Be sure to let me know.

Until next time ya’ll, have a great day filled with great food and lots of love and be sure to stop back by for tomorrow’s new 12 Days of Christmas Cake and Cheesecake post.  I promise it will be another mouthwatering holiday goody!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 8

Christmas is coming, ya’ll! I love Christmas! The hustle, the bustle, the generosity and warmth of spirit, the excitement of the children… truly joyous and so heartwarming!

And,  oh yes, the food… let’s not forget the food! Cookies, candies, cocktails, appetizers… oh, my! If you are a foodie, like me, this is truly a glorious time of year. 🙂

So for today’s featured recipe I thought I would share with you one of my personal holiday favorites… the Bacardi Rum Cake. This cake was originally published in the 1970’s by Bacardi and has been a huge hit ever since.

Bacardi Rum Cake
Bacardi Rum Cake – A Christmas Holiday Family Favorite –                                                      Photo: Swimprincess327.blogspot.com

This is a semi-homemade cake that starts with a yellow cake mix and instant pudding.  Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you.  This is truly a delicious cake.  I strongly suggest you make two because before you know it the first one will have disappeared.  It is… just… that… good!  In fact, make a bunch and share with your friends.  This makes a delicious Christmas gift, as well, and holds up beautifully for shipping to your distant friends and relatives.  My friends, this cake truly improves in flavor with age!

One more thing, ya’ll.  I hate to dampen your holiday spirit, but I have to share a personal pet peeve of mine.  I don’t know about you, but I find it very upsetting that one of our corporate food giants’ favorite marketing gimmicks is to reduce the volume of food in their packaging and then further rub salt in the wound by making claims that they are not raising food prices.  I guess they feel that we, as consumers, aren’t intelligent enough to figure this out!

I mention this to you because the recipe I am sharing with you today is affected by this.  As I told you, this semi-homemade recipe dates back to the 1970’s and features the use of Duncan Hine’s Yellow Cake Mix, which used to contain 18.25 ounces.  Today, however, this same cake mix now has 16.5 ounces.  Ouch!  Shame on you, Duncan Hines (and Pillsbury… and Betty Crocker)!

Wegman’s took the time to send a direct inquiry to Duncan Hines as to why they made this change…  here is a direct quote from Duncan Hine’s in response to Wegman’s inquiry:  “We have reformulated our Duncan Hines classic cake mix line to offer the same moistness and delicious taste you know and expect from Duncan Hines. As a result of the reformulation we were able to reduce the weight of our classic cake mixes from 18.25 ounces to 16.5 ounces and still deliver the same size cake/cupcakes, allowing us to provide the same great value to you despite rapidly rising raw material costs that would otherwise require us to raise our prices. You should continue to follow the directions on the box to ensure consistent results.”

Hmmmm… I am wondering, if the cake was already moist and delicious, why they felt the need to reformulate it to make the same moist and delicious cake we know and expect from Duncan Hines. Gee, why couldn’t it be a more moist and delicious cake and still stay at 18.25 ounces!  Because we all know, eventually, the price of the cake mix is going to be raised anyway, so now we end up with a smaller, more expensive cake mix, with bakers everywhere scratching their heads and frantically calculating how to adjust recipes that incorporate these mixes!

Luckily, I was able to find a smart baker who has done her homework and has modified the original Bacardi Rum Cake recipe to reflect today’s significantly smaller cake mixes. Thank you, Anne Papina! The cake is still delicious and will, forever and always, be one of my holiday favorites! Here also is a link from Rose Bakes with detailed instructions on how to convert semi-homemade recipes using these smaller mixes.

Okay, ya’ll… I’m off my soapbox, for now! 🙂 I would love to hear your thoughts on the sneaky marketing tactics used by our corporate food giants… as well as the delicious Bacardi Rum Cake recipe I have shared with you! Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 7

Welcome back, everyone!

For today’s featured recipe I have decided to choose a rather basic, but still beautiful, white cake.

Mrs. Billetts White Cake
Mrs. Billett’s White Cake – A Southern Living Recipe featured on myrecipes.com

 

How pretty is this cake! Known as Mrs. Billett’s White Cake, this is a very popular Southern Living cake recipe that is featured on myrecipes.com and would make a beautiful cake to serve on Christmas day.

I would like to suggest to everyone that they carefully follow the reader’s comments as they offer a wealth of tips and additional suggestions that will help in making this beautiful cake a successful addition to your baking repertoire.

Also, as you see in the above picture this is a very “white” cake, but if you are to follow the recipe as it is written your cake will have a more yellowish tint to it.  The reason for this will be due to the use of butter and vanilla extract.  If you wish to have a truly white cake then you will need to replace the butter with shortening and use “clear” vanilla extract.  The use of shortening will impart the cake with a different taste and texture so I leave that decision up to ya’ll! 🙂

For those of you who would enjoy watching a video on how to make beautiful white chocolate snowflakes to use as toppers with this cake please visit my Day 2 post of this Holiday Christmas Cake and Cheesecake Series.  Edible silver sugar pearls would also be very pretty, as would several other edible festive touches.

Once again, thanks for stopping by ya’ll. I would love to hear your ideas on other great ideas for decorating this beautiful cake.

 

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 6

Holy cow!  Christmas is just a mere 10 days away!  I’m sure most of you have been shopping ’til you drop.  It truly is the most wonderful time of year, but also the most exhausting. So with that in mind, why don’t ya’ll come on in, grab yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa and cozy up next to my virtual fireplace.

Christmas Fireplace
Grab your hot cocoa and cozy on up next to my virtual fireplace.

Click here to enjoy the full virtual experience, complete with music! (Just be sure to come on back for today’s delicious Christmas confection.)

For all of you who have been following my 12 Days of Christmas posts you know that yesterday I posted a delicious recipe for the French classic Buche de Noel. I love roulades and the Buche de Noel is a fun and festive one to make during the holidays, not to mention totally delicious!

So, since cake was featured for Day 5 I decided for today’s Day 6 post that I would offer up a delicious cheesecake recipe.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore cheesecake, any and all cheesecake.  I have never met a cheesecake I didn’t like. Their creamy, scrumptious goodness sends me over the top – all the way to foodie heaven… yummmmy!

The cheesecake I have selected today is a delicious peppermint, oreo and white and semi-sweet chocolate cheesecake from Kraft recipes.  It is so festive and pretty and would definitely look beautiful on your holiday table.

Kraft's Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
Kraft’s Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

I have had a lot of people tell me they are intimidated by cheesecakes and so they have never attempted to make them.  Let me just say right here and now cheesecakes are easy and fun! Please, do not be intimidated.  Here are some simple steps to follow that will assist you if you are not familiar with making these delicious desserts:

  • If the recipe calls for a springform pan be sure to use it.  These pans have a removable bottom and spring-locked tube that makes it easier to remove the cheesecake from  the pan.

    Springform Pan
    Springform Pan
  • One of the most frequent complaints in making cheesecake is the appearance of a surface crack(s).  This can happen for a number of different reasons but to assist in preventing them it is useful to use a water bath.  This is achieved by selecting a pan larger than the springform pan with a depth of 2 – 3 inches and placing very hot water into it to a depth of about 1/2 to 1 inch.  Before placing the springform pan in the pan with the water be sure to wrap the bottom and partially up the sides with heavy-duty aluminum foil. The water bath will also assist in evenly baking the cheesecake.
  • Always use full fat cheese and milk.  In my opinion, the use of lower fat dairy will result in an inferior cheesecake.  It’s all about the cheese in cheesecake dearies – you want that full fat flavor! And since it is a dessert that you probably won’t be making on a daily basis then, hey, it’s worth the splurge. 🙂
  • Allow your ingredients to come to room temperature.  This is true for all baked goods, but in this case it is particularly helpful in removing all of the lumps from the cream cheese.
  • When adding the eggs avoid over mixing as this can trap air in the batter and also result in a cracked surface.
  • Bake your cheesecake in a low temperature oven… 325 deg. is usually the optimum temperature.  Bake your cheesecake until the center  is just set – it should still be slightly wobbly and slightly moist.  At this point, turn your oven off and allow your cheesecake to remain in the oven for an additional hour.  The slower you cool your cheesecake the less the chance of developing those surface cracks. At the end of the hour carefully take your cheesecake from the oven and remove the foil.  Use a knife to go around the outer edge of the cheesecake and allow the cheesecake to completely cool to room temperature.  This will allow the cheesecake to pull away from the pan as it continues to cool.
  • Once completely cooled again use the knife around the outer edges and remove the sides of the pan.  Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and allow to chill for an additional 4-6 hours.
  • If you find that you still have ended up with a crack in the surface (because, alas, they do still happen from time to time no matter your precautions) then you can choose a topping to put over the top to hide that pesky crack.  Whipped cream, sweetened sour cream, and fruit make great and tasty choices. Luckily, since this recipe calls for a whipped topping you don’t to have to worry so much in the event of a crack in the surface.

Speaking of whipped cream, this featured cheesecake calls for the use of Cool Whip.  I personally believe that if I am going to go to the trouble of making a spectacular cheesecake then I want a true whipped (chantilly) cream. Nothing wrong with Cool Whip, mind you, because I do use it from time to time but NEVER for cheesecake! 🙂

Here is the recipe that I use:

Whipped Cream (aka Chantilly Cream)

1 cup heavy cream

1 – 1/2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (I aso use regular sugar if I don’t happen to have confectioner’s on hand).

1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For successful whipped cream I always place my bowl and beaters in the freezer until they are ice cold.

Once cold remove the bowl and beaters and add the whipping cream to the bowl.  With your mixer whip the cream until loose peaks form.  Add in the confectioners or plain sugar and the vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Do not over beat or you will end up with butter.  Use in place of the Cool Whip called for in the above recipe.

Well ya’ll, I really hope you enjoy this cheesecake.  It’s a beautiful and delicious cheesecake.  The combination of chocolate, oreos, and peppermint is over-the-top, gotta-have-a-second-piece, ooooohhhh sooooo good delicious!

Be sure to drop back by tomorrow for Day 7 of Christmas Cake and Cheesecake as I will have another awesome goody waiting for you to grace your holiday table with.