Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sticky Orange Cake

We are having a record heatwave in Denver.   On Saturday it was officially 104 degrees (although my car said 109 and it felt like 115).    It's optimal weather to: go to the movies, go to work (if it's indoors), read The Hunger Games  (finally - I'd been on hold at the library forever) and go for sunset bike rides.   Why a sunset ride?   The Bike MS is next weekend and if I don't ride in preparation, I'm going to be sorry.   I may still be sorry, since my training hasn't been as good as years past.    And at sunset the sun isn't baking you, even if it is still in the mid 90s.  

In the coolness of the AC I was prowling in the pantry and saw a box of cake mix.   What can I make to take to Jazz in the (really hot) Park?   I can't just bring sangria, can I?   Using the nifty ingredient search feature on All Recipes, I found a recipe for Orange Cake.   Citrus is nice and summery, and I was ok to turn on the oven for 35 minutes.    After reading the original recipe and some of the reader reviews and modifications, this was my creation. 

What You Need

1 box yellow cake mix
1 3oz box vanilla pudding
zest of one orange
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

The sticky sweet delicious drizzle
1/3 cup orange juice (use that orange you zested as part of it)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

What You Do

Line a 13x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 375 (for high altitude - probably 350 everywhere else).    Mix cake mix, vanilla pudding mix and orange zest in a large mixing bowl.   Form a well in the middle.   Add remaining ingredients and mix on medium for 2-3 minutes.    Pour into pan.   Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is in the last 10 minutes of baking, it's time for the sticky sweet delicious drizzle.   Combine the juice, sugar and butter (and a little extra orange zest if you have it) into a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat.

Once the cake is out of the oven, let it rest a minute or two, then poke holes all over the top of it with a toothpick.   Slowly spoon the drizzle (similar to what you do with rum cake) over the cake and give it a little time to sink in.   Pause.  Repeat until the drizzle is gone.    Allow cake to cool.   I cut mine into about 40 small square pieces.  Perfect for sharing.  Perfect for summer.  Perfect for sangria. 

Mediterranean Turkey Panini

A Foreman grill is the lazy girls solution to a quick lunch or dinner.   You can always find them for sale at Goodwill or ARC in their kitchen appliance section.   Use it as long as you want and when you move or grow out of it donate it back again. 

This sandwich is great and only takes about 5 minutes - and that's assembly and cooking time combined.  

What You Need

Bread.   Your choice of french bread (which is what I used), or ciabatta, or even sandwich thins.
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Artichoke Hearts.   You can buy just what you need from the olive bar if your grocery store has one in the deli, or buy a jar or can.
Deli sliced turkey

Everything in this sandwich is to taste.   Use enough sauce, cheese, turkey and artichokes to make you happy.

What You Do

Plug in your Foreman grill to warm up.   Spread marinara sauce on two pieces of bread.   On the bottom piece, layer artichoke hearts, cheese, turkey and maybe a little more cheese.   Put the top slice of bread on (with the marinara facing down, please) and press together.   Put it on the grill.   Push down hard on the lid so that you sandwich is smooshed (this is a technical term) to panini thinness.    Cook 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and turkey is warmed through.

That's all.  It's time to eat. 

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Bites

Per my sister, this recipe is the only good thing to ever come from Fox News.    The good news?  Fox News didn't create this recipe, just featured the recipe from the author of the food blog Keep It Sweet.   Regardless of your media or political leanings, these brownie bites are a delicious and decadent treat.    I have some of the cookie filling left over.  It doesn't have eggs, so you can eat it guilt free with a spoon.  Or I can find another recipe to use it.

What You Need

1 Box brownie mix of choice plus ingredients called for on box.  I had a box of Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix that I brought home from a recent trip to Lake Tahoe.   Next year TJ's will have a store in Denver.  Until then, I have to hit them up as I travel. 

1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 Cup peanut butter (I used the honey nut crunchy PB from King Soopers)
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup lightly chopped peanut butter cups (~7 peanut butter cups)

What You Do

Prepare brownies. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan with butter or spray well with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare brownie mix as directed and fill cups with brownie batter (about 2 tablespoons each). Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a knife comes out clean; do not over bake. Set brownies aside to cool and prepare cookie dough.

What I Found:  I was able to make 36 brownie bites instead of 24.  My challenge was that even with cooking spray, they didn't want to come cleanly out of the mini muffin cups.   I'm thinking that next time I can either use mini muffin cups, or make them in a 9x9 or 13x9 pan and slice my squares in half. 

Prepare cookie dough. Whisk flour and salt in a small bowl; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat together butter, peanut butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in milk and vanilla on low speed. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Stir in chopped peanut butter cups.

Put together brownie bites. Once your (awesome) cookie dough is ready, take your brownies and slice each in half horizontally so that there is a top and a bottom. Place a rounded disk of cookie dough on each bottom half (about one tablespoon of cookie dough each). Press tops of brownies lightly onto cookie dough layer so that you can still see the cookie dough from the sides. Serve immediately or freeze.   Honestly, they won't last long enough to freeze. 

Monday, June 18, 2012


One of the many pleasures of last week's mission trip to Joplin was Braum's.   As we drove into Carthage, MO on our way to our new home at 1st Pres we passed a sign with a giant ice cream cone.  It couldn't be a coincidence that ice cream was within walking distance.   Every day after the work site and showers a group hit Braum's.  Sometimes it was 20 of us and sometimes it was 4.   Every time it was awesome.   The staff is friendly, the location was ideal, and the pricing on ice cream cones can't be beat.  $1.45 (including tax) for a single dip in a waffle cone!    My featured sundae above was the hot fudge peanut butter sundae with peanut butter cup ice cream.   So perfect.  

Naturally I had to look up Braum's.   We were so lucky.  The only Braum's in Missouri was in the our home base of Carthage.   The majority are in Oklahoma (where they have their own dairy farm) with a few in southern Kansas.    Since I still haven't been to Oklahoma, I would have missed out all together.   

It was meant to be a part of our mission trip experience.   God does nothing by accident. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

My love of ice cream is known throughout the world.*

I have enjoyed ice cream from Cairo to Kauai.  Thailand to Tanzania.   

It's true - not just fun alliteration. 

Every where I go, stopping for ice cream is on my agenda.    This past weekend I tried Lemon Meringue Pie ice cream for the first time at Aloha Ice Cream in South Lake Tahoe.   Last month it was Lemongrass ice cream at DeLise in San Francisco.  

My mom, knowing my love of ice cream, gave me an ice cream maker a few years ago.   I do not use it as often as I should.    This was my inaugural recipe of 2012.

Here's to a delicious summer!

(*by a select group of friends and family who travel with me)

What You Need

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup half-and-half   (I used whipping cream)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Key lime zest  (zesting those tiny took about 5)
1/3 cup Key lime juice (and squeezing  tiny limes...those 5 zested limes did not yield much juice...fortunately I had Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice on hand) 
1/2 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers

What You Do

Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolk until slightly thickened (I did this in the liquid measuring cup I used for the milk and cream...why dirty another dish?)   Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk. Add yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly.   That liquid measuring cup made it very easy and clean.

Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids.   Of course my strainer is almost as tiny as the key limes.  Cool 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture; chill 8 to 24 hours.

Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.   For my Cuisinart ice cream maker it was 20-30 minutes.   I opted for 30.  Stir in Key lime zest, Key lime juice, and crushed graham crackers halfway through freezing. Let stand at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

I haven't used my ice cream maker all that much.  I was really impressed with how thick and "fluffy", for lack of a better word, the ice cream was when it was finished.    Key lime juice and lime juice do not make the ice cream green.   If you really wanted green ice cream you need to add food coloring - but why? 

Recipe Source:  Southern Living
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