Martha Mondays: Chocolate Beet Cake

October 31, 2011

This week’s project was chosen by yours truly: Chocolate Beet Cake (from November Living, not online yet). Wow! The gold standard for chocolate cake in my house is my grandmother’s Miracle Whip cake and this was just as good. It was incredibly moist and you would never know there were beets in it. It just tasted like a delicious, very moist chocolate cake – it looked just like a chocolate cake too.

I don’t know how often I would make this though, because beets are just a pain to work with! You have to peel them, then cut into pieces then boil then puree. I have an off-white Corian sink and was totally paranoid about it getting stained. I was able to find a pair of medical gloves to wear so I didn’t stain my hands. I peeled the beets on top of newspaper. I drained them out in the yard to avoid the sink issue entirely.

Other than the beets, the cake was easy to make and had an easy chocolate glaze, only one layer which I appreciated. It was so good I sent it away with Mr. MarthaAndMe this morning – can’t have that in the house AND the Halloween candy!

As you can see, I took it out of the oven a smidge too early – the very center didn’t quite cook all the way. I took it out with5 minutes remaining because it seemed done. I should have tested it with a cake tester.

I’m wondering if this would work with roasted beets (where you roast them whole, then just rub the skin off with a paper towel), or even canned beets so you wouldn’t have to cook them yourself at all.


Baked Donuts

January 4, 2011

I got a donut pan for Christmas and I could hardly wait to use it! My family loves donuts, but they’re just not a very healthy breakfast option. Baking donuts with ingredients I could control really appealed to me. I used a recipe I had been saving from Health Magazine since October:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 and spray the donut pan with cooking spray. Mix buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Put the batter in the pan, filling each space about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 7 minutes and let it cool for about 2-3 minutes, then roll each donut in cinnamon and sugar (a half and half mixture). Serve immediately. If you reheat the next day, roll in the cinnamon sugar mix again before serving.Makes about 12 donuts.

This was a huge hit here. The donuts are moist and have a nice texture. The wheat flour gives it a heartiness I really appreciate. I’m going to be tweaking this one, trying some wheat germ or flaxseed in it and then experimenting with adding some apples, so I can have some different varieties in my repertoire. I may have to buy a second donut pan since mine makes only 6!

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Iced Thumprint Cookies

December 6, 2010

Thanks to Pru at Perfecting Pru for choosing Iced Thumbprint Cookies for today’s project. Pru, I was thinking of you while I was making this because you said you chose this because you tried to make some other thumbprint cookies and they ended up in the trash. I was hoping that would not happen with mine or yours this time!

Mine did not go spectacularly well, I have to admit! First of all, the dough was just crumbs. I tried to make it into a disk and it just wouldn’t. I refrigerated it and tried again. I gave up on that and then tried to make the balls. I had some success. But when I pushed in the middle with my thumb, some of them just fell apart. Yikes. I put them in the oven and then pushed the spoon handle in them and that went ok.

These are iced with just milk and powdered sugar (and food coloring). I’ve never had thumbprints that didn’t have jelly/jam or a cherry in the middle, so this was sort of weird. Everyone agreed they were pretty, but we missed the center filling we’re used to. I liked the taste of the cookie itself, so if I made these again, I would put jelly in the middle – probably strawberry.

Thank you Pru for getting me started on my holiday baking. I have so much to do and only 2 weekends left before Christmas. Yikes! I will be baking chocolate chip, sugar cookie cut-outs, gingerbread men, Russian teacakes (which most people call Mexican wedding cakes), fruitcake (there is a secret family recipe for this and I make one to give to my in-laws and one for us), and I need to make and freeze our Christmas morning donuts. I’ve got a giant index to get done before Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a thing. The shopping is mostly done though at least! How are you doing with your holiday baking and preparations?

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Final Giveaway

December 5, 2010

This is my final Martha giveaway of the year. 10 lucky winners will get a Martha Stewart Holidays double-edged snowflake trim punch (this creates a strip of die-cut paper to use as a decorative strip) AND a set of Martha Stewart Holidays treat bags (each package includes 8 bags, 8 paper boxes/trays that go at the bottom, 8 tags, 8 pieces of ribbon, and 16 adhesive strips). The paper cutter is super fun to use and makes such pretty strips of snowflakes. It’s perfect for scrapbooking, crafts or making cards. The treat bags are a great way to package candy or small cookies. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the bags have tiny white dots on them which are really cute.  The prizes are courtesy of MSLO and they will mail them out. Previous winners of my other contests have written to tell me how much they liked the punches and treat boxes they received, so I know you’ll love them!

Here’s how to win. Follow me on Twitter. Then leave a comment here with your Twitter handle, so I can match you up. If you are already following me on Twitter, just leave a comment here with your Twitter handle. You must enter by midnight ET on Friday December 10, 2010. I’ll randomly and blindly select ten winners by random number drawing (numbers assigned in order of comments here). Sorry, offer limited to U.S. addresses only and entrants age 18 and up only. One entry per person. Winners notified by email given when entering, not responsible for email transmission problems. You are responsible for notifying me of your correct  address if you are selected as a winner. Contest closes at midnight Eastern time on 12/10/10. Prize is nontransferable and may not be redeemed for cash. MarthaAndMe reserves the right to announce the name of the winners on the blog. Prizes will be sent by MSLO to winners and MarthaAndMe is not liable for any failure of MSLO to deliver.


Pumpkin Donut Muffins

December 1, 2010

I’ve seen a few recipes for donut muffins, but have never actually made any. I saw this one in Nov Everyday Food and the pumpkin part drew me in, so I decided to make them. This was super easy. Just mix it all up in a bowl, bake in muffin tins and then roll in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar. They were really tasty and smelled great while they were baking. The family gave this a thumbs up all the way. You need to eat them with a fork though, because they’re kind of crumbly.

10 tbsp butter

3 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/4 allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 pumpkin puree

3/4 cup brown sugar

 

for sugar coating:

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 c butter

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a muffin tin. Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl. Whisk buttermilk and pumpkin in another.  In yet another bowl, mix butter and brown sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add flour in 3 additions, alternating with the pumpkin mix.

Put 1/3 c batter in each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 min.

Mix sugar and cinnamon. and melt butter. Let muffins cool 10 min then roll in butter then cinnamon sugar.

Now, you know me, I did this all in one bowl. I have no patience for Martha’s methods. I also used a little less nutmeg and allspice and added some cinnamon into the batter itself.

I ended up with more than 12  – I think I had about 18 of these. I would definitely make this again. All the yumminess of a donut with the ease of a muffin.


Blondies

November 30, 2010

I have a special place in my heart for blondies. I shared my favorite recipe for them previously on this blog. Lately I’ve been obsessed with The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I love the idea of this cookbook – that the editors tried every conceivable way of making recipes until they hit upon the very best method. The book has a blondie recipe and I had to check it out to see if it is better than my recipe

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

12 tbsp melted butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup pecans

1 /2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk brown sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients in. Fold in nuts and chips. Place in 13×9 pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mine took longer to cook. These were delicious. I used only chocolate chips and did not add nuts or white chocolate, which I think would make it even better. This had that rich, buttery taste that blondies have and it was soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It’s definitely in close contention with my recipe!

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Martha Mondays: Cheese Straws

November 22, 2010

Well, as you can see, I didn’t exactly end up with cheese straws! Thanks to Megan at Megan’s Cookin for choosing this one. This was really easy to make – dump it all in a food processor and away you go. I couldn’t get the dough to come together though. I tried pressing it with my hands, but I could not get it to make logs which I could roll out. So I ended up making little crackers instead, which worked out fine. I really, really liked the way these tasted, but next time I would to make them thinner. These would be great at a party. I’m keeping this recipe!

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Gaga’s Cheese Bread

November 18, 2010

Cheese bread, with and without raisins

Mr. MarthaAndMe’s grandmother was known to her great grandchildren as Gaga. Gaga was a character. Mr. MarthaAndMe has nice memories of her, but even when he was a kid, she was a lovable kook. Her name was Matilda, or Tillie for short, but when she died, her birth certificate and marriage license had a completely different name (Melinda, I think). Gaga was a bit of an anxious gal and relied on Valium to get her through. Once we arranged to visit her and showed up and she stumbled out of bed, hair sticking out, having forgotten we were coming. She had taken a Valium and had a little nap. You never knew what to expect from Gaga. She told stories of relatives in the “home land” (no one is sure what country) who were royalty and how her family gave it all up. She was born dead and miraculously came back to life. And her husband was a no good you know what.

She lived in a tiny mother-in-law apartment behind her daughter, with a tiny kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Gaga did not have many material possessions, but those she did have had meaning, or were at least iconic. She had a big picture frame on the wall where she stuck in photos. At Christmas, she had a wreath made of hard candy that had scissors hanging from it so you could snip a piece off. She had a stuffed Alf (I don’t know why). She had an ashtray that was a weird guy in a monocle with his mouth open. She had a beautiful drop front desk/secretary that now sits in our living room (and, strangely, is an exact duplicate to one my parents have). I love that desk, but associate it with the photo of her mother in a casket that she kept inside it (apparently people used to take treasured photos of corpses “laid out”). And then there was her tiny, stained, Formica kitchen table. Whenever we visited her, she would get us into the kitchen at that table and make tea (with an old, used teabag) and water heated in a saucepan and scoop sugar out of a bin. And she would always have a batch of cheese bread for us.

No one knows where the recipe came from, but she had been making it as long as anyone can remember. I have a photocopy of the recipe card in her handwriting with its vague directions (and to add to the kookiness, it’s called “cheese rolls” although she always made it as bread). It seemed that whenever she made it, she altered it, so it was never quite the same.

The cheese bread has two variations. First is an actual cheese bread, made with golden raisins and farmer’s cheese. I think she always used some cheddar too, although the recipe does not suggest that. Then there is the poppy seed version, which has no cheese at all. Once she made me a batch of cheese bread with no raisins because she remembered I didn’t like them. Often her batches had burned edges or black bottoms, which we cut off when we got it home. Even so, it was always delicious.

Gaga has been gone for quite a few years, but I still remember her fondly. And I make her bread a few times a year and think about her when I make it. Somehow, like hers, each batch seems to have its own personality, but that quirkiness just reminds me of her.

Gaga’s Cheese Bread

6 cups flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat and 4 regular)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 packet yeast

1/2 cup warm water

Mix the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter, eggs and sour cream. I usually end up using my hands to combine this. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes, then mix that into the bread.

Now you need to decide what kind of bread you want to make.

For cheese bread:

Add in 1 lb of farmer’s cheese (you can substitute cheddar for half of it) and 2 egg yolks, and a cup of golden raisins.

For poppy seed bread:

Mix in one can of poppy seed filling.

Form into a long loaf on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise one hour. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.

The bread is a very moist and slightly sweet bread. It’s great with dinner, but it also yummy toasted for breakfast. The poppy seed version is sweeter. Sometimes I divide the recipe in half and do half cheese and half poppy seed.

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Cheddar Chive Scones

November 17, 2010

John Barriceli, I heart you. John is occasionally on Martha’s show and is one of the hosts of Everyday Food. I’ve got his new cookbook, Sono Baking book and so far I’ve had 3 good recipes and one terrible one.

My latest is cheddar chive scones. Oh yes, a savory scone. Super, super simple to make. I didn’t roll and cut mine out and instead just made hand-formed rounds. They worked perfectly. I did not taste the chives as much as I expected to, but other than that, this was great. I doubled the recipe and froze some for another night.

 

2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 chopped chives

1 cup grated cheddar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

 

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and chives. Stir in cheese with a fork. Add 1 cup of cream and fold with a rubber scraper or your hands until just absorbed. Continue adding cream, 1 tbsp at a time until it just comes together and there are no dry patches.

Press the dough with your hands into a 3 x 10 rectangle and cut into 8 triangles. Refrigerate on the baking sheet for 1 hour. Then brush with 1/4 cup additional cream and sprinkle each with a pinch of cheese. Bake at 400 for 16-20, rotating halfway through.

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Martha Mondays: Pear and Apple Phyllo Crisp

September 27, 2010

Today’s project, Pear and Apple Phyllo Crisp from Oct Living was chosen by Teresa at Homemade Iowa Life.

Sorry about the photo for this. It really did look pretty. This was very simple to make. I could not believe only a few sheets of phyllo were needed. I sprayed the top of my fruit with a little Pam and sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon which make it look prettier and gave it some extra sweetness.

This was terrific the first day but quickly became mushy, so it’s really something that doesn’t keep well unfortunately. It was delicious though. The crispy phyllo combined with the soft fruit was a nice combo.

1/2 c pecans
1/2 c plain fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 sheets frozen phyllo dough 11 1/2 x 15 each thawed
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 small firm pears, such as Forelle or Seckel
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled
Preheat oven to 400 with rack in top position Combine pecans, breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon
Line baking sheet with parchment and top with 1 phyllo sheet. Brush phyllo with butter all over and sprinkle pecan mix over it. Repeat 4x. Top with remaining sheet and brush with all but 2 tbsp butter.
Slice pears and apples 1/8 inch thick, discard seeds. Arrange in a single layer on phyllo, leaving space between fruit and a 1/4 inch border around the edges.
Brush fruit with reserved 2 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with sugar and dust with additional cinnamon.
Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until phyllo is golden brown and fruit is soft, 28-32 min. Let cool slightly. Cut into 8 pieces.

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