Friday, April 24, 2009

Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Cake

If I were naming this recipe, it would be called "Thursday Cake" since I craved chocolate cake on Thursdays during one of my pregnancies. Somehow, my friends always showed up to satiate their chocolate fix on Thursdays as well. While I found these recipes on my box of Hershey's Cocoa powder, there are a few slight changes I make when using these recipes. In lieu of the oil, I substitute unsweetened applesauce, or I use 1/4 c. oil and 1/4 c. chia gel.  I've also found that using 1/2 wheat flour also works well.
I also add cinnamon and cayenne pepper to deepen and bring out the rich chocolate flavor.  Finally, I add a pinch of salt to the frosting to bring out the chocolate flavor.

* 2 cups sugar
* 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
* 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil *(or 1/4 c. oil & 1/4 c. chia gel)
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 cup boiling water
* pinch cinnamon
* pinch cayenne pepper

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in large bowl (the cinnamon and cayenne pepper add depth and bring out the chocolate flavor).  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

*Chia gel is made by adding 1/3 c. chia seeds to 2 c. water.  Let sit 15-20 minutes until gel forms.  Use as fat substitute.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Chicken or steak fajitas

This is a simple, quick entree.

1 T. olive oil
2-3 c. thinly sliced chicken or steak
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced bell peppers
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced onions

1 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 t. garlic powder or fresh garlic
1 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1-2 T. key lime juice

Heat oil in large skillet. Add chicken/steak, and then seasoning mixture, stirring often. Just before the meat is completely cooked, add 1 1/2 c. bell peppers - sliced into thin strips, and 1 1/2 c. onions - sliced into thin strips. Continue to cook for a few minutes until vegetables become almost translucent.

Serve on hot tortillas.

French Apple Pie - Award winning

This recipe recently won the Class Champion prize at our county fair

Many years ago, a missionary who was living in our area asked me to get this recipe from his mom. This is probably one of the very first pies I really learned how to make on my own.

7-8 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced)
1 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon + some
1 T. flour + some

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter (1/2 a cube)

Place apples in pan over medium heat. While stirring, continue to heat until almost translucent - stirring and turning regularly. Add sugar, cinnamon and flour and continue for a couple more minutes until the apples are coated and the sugar mixture has combined with the juices from the apples, making almost a syrup.

Place in unbaked pie crust and sprinkle topping over the apple mixture.

To make topping:
Crumble or 'cut in' all ingredients together.

Bake at 350* for 1 hour.

You know it turned out right if the pie raises up while it is cooking and then sinks back down.

Rhubarb Pie

One of my favorite things about summer was watching the rhubarb get ripe as I anticipated the pies. Here's the recipe (with a few modifications) that I grew up on. While some cooks put the fruit into the crust and then pour the other ingredients over, due to mixing everything first, this comes out with a slight custard like texture.

1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3-4 c. chopped rhubarb
1/4 c. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. mace
1/4 t. allspice
2 prepared pie crusts (a top and a bottom)

Sprinkle some flour into the bottom of the crust (prevents sogginess).

Place rhubarb into a bowl and mix the sugar in. Allow to sit for approx. 10 minutes, occasionally tossing gently (allowing the rhubarb to 'sweat' - pulling out the juices).
Add eggs to the mixture and thoroughly mix. Allow to sit for an additional 3 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and pour into pie crust. Do top with 1 T. butter. Apply top crust.
Bake on the middle rack at 400* for 10-15 minutes, and then lower the heat to 350* for an additional 30-35 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Note - red food coloring may be added for additional color.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Favorite Pie Crust

5 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. white vinegar
1 egg
1 t. salt
2 1/2 c. Crisco (vegetable shortening)(not butter flavored)
1 c. water

Mix dry ingredients together.
Cut in shortening until medium coarse.
Place vinegar into measuring cup and fill with water.
Mix egg into water and vinegar mixture.

Yield: Approximately 4-5 pie crusts.
Use as needed and freeze remainder.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sarali's Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

Several years ago, we had a class at church based on cooking with wheat. This recipe was one of the highlights of the class which my family loves.

Grind 2 c. wheat into flour (approx. 3 c.) and blend with:
3 c. milk (or 3 c. water + 1 c. powdered milk)
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 T. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt

Fry on a hot griddle and serve while hot.

Note: I found that if I put the milk in the blender and then add the wheat and mix it for a few moments, the other ingredients fit into the blender with greater ease.

Hot Thai Soup

After serving this for a New Year's Eve party, one of my students shared this recipe with me. I love its simplicity, while my family loves the wonderful flavors.

Made with Chinese noodles, this soup is ready to eat in ten minutes. The noodles are sold in compact cakes that should be broken into smaller pieces before adding them to the pot. Asian flavors are featured in the seasoning mixture that is stirred into the soup just before it is served. This mixture can be changed to accommodate your personal taste preferences. While tomatoes are not common in Chinese cooking, they appear in other Far Eastern cuisines and make a nice addition here.

Thai Seasoning Mixture
1 lime
1 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (2/3 c.)
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. dark sesame oil
1-2 small serrano peppers (seeded if desired to eliminate some of the hotness,) and finely chopped=1 T.
2 crushed and finely chopped garlic cloves (1 t.)
2 t. shredded fresh ginger (optional)

Cut the lime lengthwise into 1/4" slices: stack the slices and cut into 1/4" dice (approx 1/2 c) Place limes in a small bowl, add the cilantro, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, peppers, ginger, and garlic. Mix well and set aside.

6 c. chicken broth
3 c. water
4 oz. plain, dry Chinese noodles
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 dice (1 c.)

Bring the stock or broth and water to boil in a large pot. Add the noodles, breaking them into chunks, and bring the mixture to a full boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and boil gently for 4 minutes.

Just before serving add the seasoning mixture and tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Magic Brownie Mix

I was at my friend Tina's house a couple of years ago and she decided to make brownies. It took her all of 2 minutes to make and 25 minutes to bake. I couldn't believe it! The brownies were amazing - with almost a caramel taste on the bottom.

She jotted down the recipe for me and I was amazed to find that it used wheat flour as well. Another great food storage items recipe.

The mix recipe is as follows:
8 c. sugar
6 c. wheat flour
4 t. baking powder
4 t. salt
2 c. cocoa
2 c. shortening

To use:
Heat over to 350* and mix the following together.

2 1/2 c. mix
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
Nuts (optional)

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top cracks.

Note: This makes approximately 19 cups of mix, which is 7 1/2 batches of brownies.

Nauvoo Bread

We recently visited several historical sites in Nauvoo Illinois. While there, we learned how the early Mormon settlers there cooked (among many other things.) This recipe is also a fantastic food storage recipe as all of the ingredients are typical food storage ingredients.

Here's the bread recipe Sister Prince they shared with us:

5 c. hot water
1/2 c. potato flakes
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. powdered milk
1 1/2 T. salt
1/2 c. oil or shortening
2 T. yeast
10-14 c. flour

Combine hot water, shortening, potato flakes, powdered milk, and sugar. Stir to dissolve shortening. When temperature is tepid, add yeast. Mix in 5 cups of whole wheat flour and the salt. Stir to a smooth sponge. Add white flour to make smooth and elastic dough while kneading for 15 minutes. Let rise until double, about 1 hour, punch down and let rise again. Shape into loaves, let rise.

Bake in 375* oven for about 35 minutes.

Wheat Berry cereal / mush

I grew up eating this dish for breakfast during the winter months. One of the great aspects regarding this recipe is that it is very versatile - it doesn't have to just be a mush or breakfast cereal. You can add it to salads, soups, breads, or whatever else you want. The berries turn out with a chewy texture and a rich warm nutty taste.

4 c. water
1 1/2 c. whole wheat
1/2 t. salt

Add ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low. Allow to cook for 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid.

Serve with honey and milk. Bottled peaches take this over the top.

Note - this is great to make in the evening and refrigerate overnight. Simply microwave the desired amount for 1-2 minutes for a hearty hot breakfast cereal.
This can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 weeks.

Cracked Wheat Cereal or Mush

As a child, we knew winter was coming because my dad would start with the wheat mush. We groaned and moaned and knew that we'd be irregular for a couple of weeks and we knew that we'd be having this for breakfast for the next 4-6 months. How I hated it!

However, last year my parents came to visit and my dad made wheat mush for breakfast and I was amazed to find that I really loved it! My husband and kids really enjoy this for breakfast as well - especially on a cold winter morning.

3 c. water
3/4 c. whole wheat kernels
1/4 - 1/2 t. salt

Place the whole kernel wheat into a blender and blend until most of the kernels are cracked (not whole.) Slowly pour into the salted, boiling water and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and lower the heat to low. Allow to cook approximately 15-20 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve with honey and milk.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Frank's Fluffy Cheesecake

My husband doesn't generally like cheesecake because it is usually so rich and heavy. However, when our friend made this for us, my husband gave it rave reviews.

Frank’s Light ‘n’ Fluffy Cheesecake (15 min.)
1 8 oz. package Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tub cool whip
1 small package vanilla instant pudding
Graham Cracker crust – recommended cinnamon & sugar grahams (recipe below)

Whip cream cheese until fluffy.

Add cool whip, and whip until more fluffy.

Make vanilla pudding as directed, using warm milk (instead of cold) to slightly delay the set. Whip until fluffy.

Quickly combine with cream cheese mixture and pour into crust. Refrigerate until set.

Note – Frank puts some of his filling (strawberries etc) on the crust prior to putting filling in.

Graham cracker crust
24 graham cracker squares
1/2 c. butter - melted
1/4 c. sugar

Place graham crackers into a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin (or blend to a fine powder)
Add butter and sugar

Press mixture into the bottom of a pie pan, and bake at 350* for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool.

Snickers Bars

I found this recipe in a Taste of Home cook book. While slightly time intensive, I have never seen a dessert disappear so quickly!

Layer 1
1 C. milk chocolate chips
1/4 C. peanut butter
1/4 C. butterscotch chips

Layer 2
1 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. milk
1/4 C. margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. Marshmallow Crème
1/4 C. peanut butter
1 1/2 C. dry roasted peanuts

Layer 3
40 caramels
3 T. cream

Layer 4
1 C. milk chocolate chips
1/4 C. peanut butter
1/4 C. butterscotch chips

Melt first 3 ingredients and pour into 9x13 pan and cool.

In saucepan, boil sugar, milk and margarine together 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla extract and Marshmallow Crème. Mix well and pour over cooled first layer. Top with peanuts.

Melt caramels and cream together and pour over peanut layer. Melt remaining ingredients and spread on top. Chill well and cut into pieces.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chicken Bow-tie Pasta Salad

I attended a conference where this salad was served. I couldn't wait to get back in line for seconds. I was amazed at how quickly it disappeared and began to beg for the recipe. This recipe can be halved or quartered.

4 c. diced cooked chicken
2 T. green onion
3/4 t. pepper
2 c. cooked bow-tie pasta (4 c. uncooked)
1 bottle coleslaw dressing
1 c. mayonnaise
2 dashes thyme
2 pinches ginger

Mix and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours.

Before serving, add:
1 c. diced celery
2 c. halved red grapes
20 oz. pineapple tidbits
2 c. diced apples
3/4 c. slivered almonds or cashews

Mix all together.

Caramel Corn

It took me a long time to find the right recipe for a caramel corn that I liked. I don't like it when it is too hard that it is like candy, nor do I like it too sticky. I like it perfectly in between. Because you cook this recipe to a candy stage, you can adjust whether you want it hard (hard ball stage) or soft and gooey (barely soft ball stage)

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white Karo corn syrup
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 t. salt

Mix and cook to a soft ball stage.
Then add:
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/2 t. vanilla

Pour over 4 quarts popped corn.

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

I learned this recipe from one of my best friends growing up. It works fantastically as a fruit dip for appetizers or for a buffet style meal. I love the ease and simplicity in making it and the rave reviews it receives.
8 oz. cream cheese
1 small bottle marshmallow creme
1 tsp. grated orange rind
2 T. frozen orange juice concentrate

Soften cream cheese. Combine cream cheese, marshmallow creme, orange rind and orange juice together. Mix well, place in refrigerator and keep cold. Serve with fresh fruit.

English Trifle

I found this recipe in the Cook's Kitchen Bible by Norma MacMillan. I love the elegant look and taste of this dessert. We traditionally serve this on Easter.

6 c. 1 inch cubes of spongecake, pound cake (I use angel food cake)
1/4 c. cream sherry wine (I substitute a mixture of cream and juice or cherry 7 up)
1/3 c. raspberry (or other fruited) preserves/jam
1 pint raspberries or other seasonal berries or fruit
2 c. stirred custard (or instant jello pudding) with 2 T. cream sherry
3/4 c. whipped cream (sweetened)
Toasted sliced almonds and mint leaves and berries for garnish

Spread half of the cake cubes over the bottom of a large serving bowl. (A clear glass bowl is best for presentation.)

Sprinkle a portion of the sherry over the cake to moisten it. Spoon over a portion of the preserves, dotting them evenly over the cake cubes.

Make a layer of berries.

Pour a portion of the pudding or custard to cover the fruit and cake. Repeat layering.

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, spoon the whipped cream onto the top. Garnish with toasted almonds, fruit, and mint leaves.

Choco Flan

While this can be made with any flavor of cake mix I first had it with chocolate. After first tasting this 11 years ago, I asked my friend Juanita to come over and teach me this recipe. This has become a family favorite that my siblings often clamor for. This is fun to make with kids too as the cake batter is placed in the pan first, and the milk mixture on top. While it bakes however, the milk mixture turns to flan and ends up on the bottom, or top once it is inverted after baking.

Any flavor cake mix - mix as directed
3 eggs
1 container apple caramel dip, or "Cajeta" caramel, (this can be found in the mexican section at Walmart)
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can nestle media crema milk (this is canned cream, which can also be found at Walmart and other grocery stores in the mexican foods section)
Walnuts or nuts of your preference

Generously butter bottom and sides of large, deep baking dish. Spread caramel
evenly over bottom. Sprinkle walnuts on top of caramel. Spread prepared cake mix over the caramel and nut mixture. In a blender, combine the eggs and milks. Pour egg and milk mixture over the cake. Bake at 350* until cake comes out done, approximately 1 hour. Immediately invert and serve.


While I posted the microwave flan recipe earlier, this is a full real flan recipe. I believe it is originally from Emeril Legasse, but I made a few changes. This is one of my husband's favorites.

1 3/4 c. whipping cream
1 c. milk
pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 c. sugar

3 large eggs
2 large yolks
7 T. sugar

Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium sized saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place sugar in another heavy medium saucepan. Begin to heat on low and allow sugar to melt. This is a slow process, and you must tilt and turn the pan swirling the sugar back and forth to help the melting process. Continue until syrup turns a deep amber. Quickly pour into an 8 x 8 glass pan or ramekins. Tilt to coat the bottom and sides before it hardens.

Heat oven to 350.

Whisk eggs, yolks, and sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Gradually and gently whisk cream mixture into egg mixture without creating lots of foam. Pour through small sieve and then into syrup coated 8 x 8 glass pan, (or ramekins.) Place baking dish within a 9 x 13 baking dish and fill halfway with hot water.

Bake until the center is set - generally about one hour (or 40 minutes for ramekins.) Transfer to rack and cool. Chill until cold, approximately 2 hours. Cover and chill over night. (Can be made 2 days ahead)

To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Set in hot water for a few minutes, or gently heat bottom of baking dish on the stove for a few seconds to thin the syrup. Invert onto a serving dish, allowing syrup to run over flan.

Heidi's White Chili

This is another recipe that works great in the crock pot and is great for a winter day. Thanks to my friend Heidi for sharing this several years ago - I love the twist.

3 diced chicken breasts
1 diced onion
1 chopped clove of garlic
1 can chicken broth
3 cans great northern white beans
1 can garbanzo (chick peas) beans
3 cans chopped green chilies or jalapeños
Cumin and oregano - to taste
16 oz. sour cream

Add all ingredients together in a large pot and simmer for 1- 1 1/2 hours. Add sour cream and heat thoroughly.