Author Archives: indylib

Happy New Year.

I had quite the day.  A loooong day.  I became an official grandma today and served up heartburn for New Year’s Eve fare.

My daughter woke me up at 4:00 AM to tell me she was leaving for the hospital and would I please see if I could get my 2 year-old step-grandson back to bed.  He must be psychic because he never wakes up in the middle of the night and throws a fit, but last night he did.  He’d been up since midnight.  So I hauled my very old- feeling 44  year -old behind up from the basement, saw my daughter and son-in-law off to the hospital in the middle of a freak rain storm/fog bank, put my very grumpy grandson back to bed and lay down on the couch to try to catch a bit more sleep.  No luck on the sleep part.

By 11:47 AM I was an “official” grandma of beautiful 6 lb, 3 oz baby girl and after chasing the 2 year-old around the house for 4 hours and making a pot of chili, I needed a nap.

I still haven’t had the nap, but I served up chili, jalepeno poppers, homemade guacamole (made by one of my sister-in-laws), pigs-in-blanket, and brownies (made by another sister-in-law).

I’m still awake because my boys want to have sparkling cider and crack poppers at midnight and have absolutely no mercy on a tired woman who is now a grandma.

Happy New Year’s to everyone and hoping for a prosperous, peaceful one for all.

 

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Cinnamon Swirl Sour Cream Bread

I have made this bread for several years and tinkered with the recipe until I’ve gotten it to where I like it.  It started out as cinnamon buttermilk bread, but last year I had an abundance of sour cream in my fridge and swapped sour cream for the buttermilk, but it turned out a little heavy, so the next batch I split them – 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of buttermilk.  In case there is anyone who doesn’t know, there are a couple of tricks for getting the benefit of baking with buttermilk, but not actually having to buy any.  The first one is to make your own.  Actually what you’re making is sour milk, but can be substituted for buttermilk without making any difference in taste or texture.  You add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk, stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.  The other is to buy buttermilk powder.  I get mine from King Arthur Flour, but I know there are brands that you can buy at your local grocery store.  Just follow the directions on the package for proportions. You can also substitute plain yogurt for sour cream.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Sour Cream Bread

 

4 cups all purpose flour (17 oz)

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of canola or vegetable oil (3 1/2 oz)

1 cup sour cream (8 oz)

1 cup of buttermilk (8 oz)

1 1/2 cup sugar (10 1/2 oz)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar (8 oz)

1/2 chopped nuts – optional

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar, set aside.

In a mixing bowl cream the oil and sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time, mix in until incorporated.  Add in the sour cream and buttermilk, mix until combined.

Add in all of the dry ingredients at one time, mix gently until just combined.

Stir in nuts if you are adding them.

Pour batter evenly into 2 – 9×5 in loaf pans  or 4 – 3×5 mini loaf pans.

Sprinkle even amounts of cinnamon and brown sugar mix onto the top of each loaf and swirl with a knife or a chopstick.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes for the large pans or 25-35 minutes for the little pans, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

 

I like to bake this bread in disposable foil pans, wrap them up in foil or plastic wrap, put a bow on them and give them for gifts.

 

 

Needed – Side Dishes for Baked Ham

I’ve decided to do baked ham for Christmas dinner this year and I’m not sure what to serve it with.  I’ve never done ham as a holiday dinner before because,  honestly ham is not overly popular in my house.  Neither my husband or daughter are big ham fans and my boys are ambiguous about it, but I love it and my son-in-law is a fan.  I especially love country ham.  It’s like eating a super-sized,  super thick piece of bacon, with only the meat and none of the fat.  As much as I love it I have decided it’s probably not the best ham to serve for dinner, so I’m going for a bone-in ham, glaze flavor yet undetermined.  Any leftovers will be waiting to go into the ham and beans pot, ham and cheese frittata and loads of other things I can thing of.  What I’m having a hard time thinking of is side dishes to serve with it.  Something with cheese seems an obvious choice – either scalloped potatoes or macaroni and cheese.  After that I draw a blank, especially with veggies.  Anyone have favorite sides that go well with ham?  And what about glazes, anyone have a brilliant flavorful glaze recipe?

UPDATE

I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to help me out with this.  There are some really tasty ideas here.  I haven’t finalized exactly what I’m going with yet (yes, I’ve been known to procrastinate a bit), but so far everything I’m leaning toward includes cheese, bacon and/or sugar, so how bad can it possibly turn out?

Christmas Baking

Here’s my Christmas sweets and baking list.  Marshmallow cream fudge – chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and white chocolate, 6 layer bars, snowball cookies, cinnamon swirl-sour cream bread, banana bread, peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies for Santa, cheesecake for Christmas dinner and applesauce-cinnamon ornaments.

Yes, it’s a tad late to be starting on my holiday baking, but I didn’t think it was such a hot idea to bake  too much while I was regularly trying to cough up a lung. But my cough has finally waned, so I feel like I can bake without posting an “baked with love and germs” note on all of my baked goods.

I’ve been making marshmallow cream fudge since long before I knew much about cooking and if I tried a different recipe my family would probably up and move out of the house.  I’m a fan of making things from scratch as much as I can and forgoing processed food full of preservatives as much as possible, but I absolutely make an exception for marshmallow cream fudge.  I love how the fluffy stuff lightens up the confection and there seems to be enough non synthetic-chemical enhanced  ingredients in the recipe to kill the chemical taste.  I follow the recipe on the marshmallow cream jar with a few changes depending on the flavor.  The first thing is that I use Ghiradelli chocolate.  I fell in love with Ghiradelli when I went to San Fransisco when I was 21 and toured the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Since then European baking chocolate has become pretty easy to find, even in most grocery stores and reasonably affordable.  I’ve tried several different brands, but I always come back to Ghiradelli to make brownies and fudge  (and their Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa makes the best hot chocolate ever, in my opinion).

I use the  60% Cacao Bittersweet chocolate to make my dark chocolate fudge and their semi-sweet chocolate for the regular chocolate fudge and follow the general directions for Fantasy Fudge on the marshmallow cream jar (sans nuts, my kids are crazy, but not nutty).  The white chocolate and peanut butter versions are a little trickier.  Good white chocolate should have cocoa butter as the first listed ingredient (at least 20%).  But that means it’s a lot softer and oilier than regular chocolate.  So for the white chocolate and the peanut butter, I reduce the amount of butter and cook it a little longer.

Here’s the recipe with all the variations.

Marshmallow Cream Fudge

3 cups sugar – 21 0z

3/4 cup unsalted butter – 6 0z  (no, I will not use margarine to bake or cook, ever) for chocolate or dark chocolate  or

1/2 cup unsalted butter – 4 oz  for white chocolate or peanut butter

2/3 cup of evaporated milk – 6 oz

1/4 teaspoon of salt for chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon for peanut butter

12 oz of semi-sweet, bittersweet or white chocolate (3 bars of Ghiradelli) or 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter – 14 1/4 oz

1   7 0z jar of marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for chocolate or dark chocolate, 2 teaspoons for white chocolate or 1/2 teaspoon for peanut butter.

1 cup of nuts – optional

Break the chocolate into reasonably small pieces, they don’t have to be tiny by any means, your sugar syrup is going to be over 200 degrees, it will melt a good sized piece of chocolate.  Ghiradelli baking bars can be broken into the squares marked on the bars.  Set aside.

Now the recipe on the jar tells you to mix the sugar, butter and evaporated milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly  in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.  This might get you the texture you want and then again it might not.  In my case, usually not.  If I don’t use a candy thermometer I almost always crystalize my sugar.

So I mix the sugar, butter, salt and evaporated milk  in a heavy saucepan.  Clip on my handy-dandy candy thermometer (I have a brand new digital one to try this year, I can’t wait) and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicon whisk and cook until it reaches the lower end of soft ball stage (which is  235-245 degrees) for chocolate or dark chocolate or the upper end for white chocolate or peanut butter .  Then I add the chocolate or peanut butter and stir like fire with a wooden spoon for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture goes from shiny to matte (an Alton Brown trick to keep the sugar from crystalizing).   Add the vanilla and the marshmallow cream, stirring until the marshmallow is mixed in (or not, it looks kind of neat all streaky).  Add in the nuts if you got ‘em  and pour into an 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 in pan (I line mine with foil or waxed paper for easy removal and clean-up).   Cool until it’s set and room temp all the way through.  Cut into squares, eat and go into sugar shock.

Two of the above recipes are so easy that they don’t require a full post.  My 6 layer bars are Magic Bars without, you guessed it, the nuts, which is why they only have 6 layers.  I love this recipe, you don’t have to mix anything, you melt the butter in your baking pan, pour in the graham cracker crumbs, mix them with the butter, press into the bottom of the pan with a spoon, sprinkle the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the pan (I don’t even bother to measure them out, I use about half of a bag), sprinkle on the coconut, pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over the whole deal and bake them for half an hour at 350 degrees F.  Voila and yum.

The apple sauce-cinnamon ornaments are a tradition in my house, we have to make new ones every couple of years because they aren’t terribly durable and we add new people to the family.  You take equal amounts of cheap applesauce and cheap cinnamon (seriously, you’re not eating it, so don’t splurge on expensive Vietnamese cinnamon – generic will do fine).  Stir the cinnamon into the applesauce until you have a stiff, but malleable dough.  Throw in any old ground holiday spices you might have taking up space in your spice cabinet if you want to, ground ginger, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg.  If they’ve been in there for more than a year or two the smell will add a nice touch to the ornaments but probably won’t taste very good.  Just make sure you are at about equal proportions apple sauce to spices.  Roll the dough out to 1/4 – 1/8 of an inch and use holiday cookie cutters to cut out shapes.  If you want to use them as ornaments use a straw to punch out a little hole in the top to thread a ribbon through.  We write names on ours while they are still wet so everyone has a new ornament.  You can even fancy them up and wait until they are dry and decorate with glitter. Some recipes say to just dry them for 24 hours on a cooling rack, but I prefer to to put mine in the oven at 150 degrees F for 2-3 hours until they are completely dried through and there are no damp spots in the middle.  The cooking method makes them a bit more brittle, but the smell that infuses your house is worth it.

I’ll post the recipes for the rest of my list over the next few days.  The snowball cookies are new for me, but the rest of them, I’ve made for years, though I  haven’t decided what flavor of cheese cake to do yet, so that might end up being a new adventure since I’d like to try something different.

Month from Hell and Lemon Angel Food Cake

Well, after the month from hell, I’ve managed to sit down at my computer long enough to pop in with a quick post.

The last month has been one of the hardest I can remember having for a very long time.  Two days before Thanksgiving, in the middle of my husband getting ready to leave for sea-duty in Japan,  my sister-in-law’s dog, who has never seemingly had a mean bone in her body, bit my husband in the right hand, which of course became infected (cuz that’s the kind of month we were having).  We spent 3 days in and out of the emergency room (we have to go to the one on the base, which is 28 miles away) because of course the regular doctor’s office at the base was closed for the holiday.  When we finally got him on the mend I had to spend the next 4 days getting all of his stuff ready and packed since he’d been told not to use his hand at all and it turns out he is not even the smallest bit ambidextrous. My husband got on a plane for Japan Nov. 29th.  Not a fun event for anyone in the family.  We’ve lived through 4 deployments in 13 years, but this is the first time he’s ever gone to a duty station without all of us with him.

In the meantime we had made the decision, due to some family-dynamic issues, to switch 4 bedroom occupancies.  I packed up my entire bedroom, including 400 lbs. of Navy paperwork and other misc. military stuff, all of my very heavy bedroom furniture, all of my clothes, my husbands clothes that he didn’t take to Japan with him (which was most of them) and my son-in-law (FSM bless him) and I and my boys hauled all of it from one end of the house to the other, down some very narrow basement stairs, all the way across the basement and moved it into the basement bedroom.  We moved my nephew, who had been in the basement into an upstairs bedroom,  my grandson into a different bedroom and my pregnant daughter and son-in-law into the larger bedroom that I had been in.  This all took what seemed like forever due to the fact that 2 of my boys and I have all come down with a nasty cough that won’t go away.

I haven’t done much cooking lately that’s worth noting.  I tried Turkey Tetrazzini with Thanksgiving leftovers and what I ended up with was pretty bland.  My kids have been eating a lot of noodles, butter and parmesan, hot dogs, leftover spaghetti sauce, and grilled cheese.

My daughter’s birthday was Dec. 14th and she asked for Chicken Parmesan and Lemon Angel Food Cake.  My family is pretty fond of my Chicken Parmesan, which is actually pretty simple.  I puree Contadina diced tomatoes with Burgundy Wine and Olive Oil  for the  sauce, pound out chicken breasts, bread them with bread crumbs mixed with parmesan, brown them in a skillet, then pop them in the oven covered with mozzerella and parmesan and cook them until the chicken is done through and the cheese is melted.  I serve it with the sauce and spaghetti.

The Lemon Angel Food Cake is a standard for my daughter’s birthday.  She trades off every couple of years by requesting lemon bars instead.  The recipe is pretty standard, but quite good if you’re a lemon fan.

Lemon Angel Food Cake

1 1/4 cup of cake flour (5 1/8 oz) of cake flour or 1 cup of all purpose flour (4 1/2 oz)

1 1/2 cups sugar (10 1/2 oz)

12 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract – optional

1 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium bowl mix whisk 3/4 cup of sugar and the flour together and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the 12 egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute.  Add in the salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract and cream of tartar and continue to whip on med-high speed for several minutes until soft peaks form.  With the mixer on medium, gradually add in the other 3/4 cup of sugar, until it’s mixed in, then speed up the mixer  and continue to whip until  stiff peaks form.  Turn your mixer to low and gently add in the flour and sugar mixture and continue to mix until it’s completely incorporated.

Scrape your cake batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan and bake on the middle rack of your oven at 325 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the top springs back when touched gently and it’s golden brown.

Cool your cake (the traditional way is to  invert the pan and slip the tube over the neck of a bottle) for at least an hour.   Loosen the cake  by running a knife or offset spatula between the cake and the pan and gently remove the side piece of the pan and then do the same to separate the top of the cake from the remaining piece.

I serve this cake several ways – plain, with whipped cream or for extra lemony goodness you can top with lemon glaze.

Hope everyone is having a nice holiday season.  I’ll try to catch up on all of the posts I’ve missed in the next couple days.

Breakfast Cookies and Lemon Sour Cream Yeast Bread

Well, I experimented with more regular yeast bread this week and as my oldest son would say – epic fail.  Grrrrr!

Two tries, both ended up too dense and didn’t brown right.  The first one didn’t rise in the oven and the second one was still sticky after I kneaded it, so it probably needed more flour.  I’m not giving up,  I’m determined to figure out how to bake a decent loaf of bread that is the right texture and has flavor.

I did try two other recipes that turned out really well, one was a high fiber- high protein breakfast cookie and the other was an enriched bread recipe for lemon-sour cream bread.  Go figure – the lemon bread is a yeast bread but it has butter and eggs and therefore seems to be free of my bread jinx, it turned out beautifully.

I followed the recipe for the Lemon-Sour Cream Bread exactly, so I’m just going to post the link for it.

This bread is amazing, it has this soft, beautiful crumb on the inside due to the almond flour (which you can produce yourself by processing blanched almonds in your food processor to the consistency of flour) and a gorgeous golden, soft crust on the outside.  It makes the most incredible toast served with lemon curd.  I can’t wait to try the recipe with orange zest and orange extract instead of lemon and just almond extract with no zest.

Breakfast Cookies

These cookies have some really good stuff in them, but the recipe makes a pretty sweet cookie.  You can cut down on the brown sugar by 1/2 a cup if you want to and not really change the texture of the finished cookies.

1/2 cup softened butter (4 oz)

1 cup peanut butter  (9 1/2 oz)

1 1/2 cup brown sugar (9 1/4 oz)

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/3 cup of milk (3 oz)

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (5 1/4 oz)

1/3 cup high fiber flour (3 1/2 oz)

1/3 cup of  whole or non-fat dried milk (1 oz)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

4 1/2 cups of add-ins (any combination of chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate, or butterscotch chips, coconut, rolled oats, dried fruit including raisins, currents, dried apricots, dried cranberries or dried cherries, granola, or nuts)

* Note on the different flours – I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour,  which I can buy in my local grocery store.  If you’re interested in using this kind of flour but can’t find King Arthur or don’t want to order it from their website, you can probably find the Hodgson Mill brand in the organic section of your grocery store.  I also use the high fiber flour that you have to order from King Arthur, but I checked and you can substitute with Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour, which you can probably also find in the organic section.

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees F.

Prep 2 cookie sheets (I use parchment, but you can use a sil-pat liner or just spray with no-stick spray).

In a small bowl whisk together your flours, spices, dried milk, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.

Combine butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla in a bowl and mix on medium until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and liquid milk and mix on low until combined, scraping your bowl a couple of times.

With your mixer on low slowly add in your flour mixture until completely incorporated.

Stir or mix in your 4 1/2 cups of add-ins until they are well mixed in.  (I made 2 batches of cookies one with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and rolled oats only and one with chocolate chips, rolled oats, dried cherries, currents and chopped pecans- both were really good, the ones with the fruit came out a lot chewier.)

Scoop 1/4 cup portions onto the cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart,  there’s very little leavening so the cookies won’t spread far.

Press the cookie gently to flatten it a little bit.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes until they are just lightly brown.  Don’t overbake or the cookies will dry out.

Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then finish cooling them on a wire cooling rack.

Yield 18 cookies.

Corn Chowder and Cheese Bread

My house is nearly empty this week, so I decided to try some new things that I could afford to screw up since I don’t have my army to feed.

Today’s attempt consists of Cheese Bread from this recipe at King Arthur Flour.  It tastes pretty good, but looks awful.  The bread didn’t brown on the outside.  The texture of the bread isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either, it’s too heavy and a bit doughy.  The flavor is decent, especially with the cheese (I used half sharp cheddar and half gruyere) added.  I forgot to spritz the bread with water before I baked it like the recipe calls for, so that might explain the browning issue and I don’t think I kneaded it long enough, so that would probably explain why the bread texture is a little off.  It was a sticky mess after the first rise. This is what always frustrates me about baking bread.  If it doesn’t come out right I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what I did wrong.  I am going to make another sponge for it tonight and try it again tomorrow and see if I can fix what I think I did wrong.

My second attempt was much more successful.  I tried corn chowder when I was in Boston in October and I really liked it.  I googled around and checked out a bunch of different recipes and then put my own together and it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.  Here is approximately what I did -

Corn Chowder

1 med onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 oz of unsalted butter

1/3 cup of flour

6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 8 oz box of chicken stock or 1 8 oz can chicken broth or homemade if ya got it.

2 tablespoons of cream soup base (optional) – I use Jamison’s

2 cans (22 oz) corn

6 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cup of milk or half and half

Salt and pepper to taste (I used lots and lots of pepper, I have a grinder with black, green and pink peppercorns in it, I probably    used at least a tablespoon.)

1-2 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of seasoned salt

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

 

Put the olive oil and butter in a 6 qt dutch oven (or a pot big enough for 4 quarts of soup) add the onions and garlic and a dash of salt and cook at medium -high until they are soft.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until the flour has coated the onions and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the flour starts to brown (you just made a roux with the onions/garlic mixed in).  Add in the crumbled bacon and stir.  Pour in the chicken stock and stir until mixed, let the soup come up to a boil and it will thicken up quite a bit at this point. Add in the cream soup base if you’re using it and whisk until it’s incorporated. Add in the corn and potatoes and the milk.  Stir in the salt and pepper, thyme, seasoning salt and garlic powder (taste test to check how much salt you need, there’s a lot of starch in this so it will need a good dose of salt and depending on what kind of stock/broth you use the amount can vary quite a bit). Cover and turn the heat down to med-low and let the chowder simmer until your potatoes are cooked, about 30 minutes.

 

This recipe didn’t turn out much like what I had in Boston by the way.  The chowder I had there was completely cream based and didn’t have the bacon.  I actually like it better with the chicken stock and roux cooked brown, it’s a little bit more robust, not as bland.  It came out a beautiful golden color which I would love to show off , but a husband who shall remain nameless didn’t charged my camera battery like he was supposed to before he took off to the wilds of Colorado.  So, unfortunately, no pics this week on all my experiments

Apple Butter Pork Loin

This is a new recipe for me and I loved the way it turned out.  The combination of pork, apple and spices was so good and this recipe is really easy.  It’s based on this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but I changed it up a little bit.  This recipe can be cut back to serve less people with very little trouble.

Apple Butter Pork Loin Roast

1 10 lb pork loin roast

7 apples – peeled and cored – sprinkled with cinnamon sugar if desired

4 cups of apple cider (32 oz)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of apple butter (16 oz)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (6 0z)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

20 whole cloves – optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put your pork roast in a roasting pan and season to taste with salt and pepper and stud with cloves if you’re using them.  Pour in the apple cider, making sure that  the bottom of the pan is covered.  Place your apples in the pan around the roast.  I used 4 Granny Smith and 3 Pink Lady apples, the Granny Smiths melted into apple sauce in the juice, the Pink Ladies stayed intact, but were very soft and sweet.

Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 1/2 hours.

Mix the apple butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl while the roast is in the oven.

Remove the roast from the oven, uncover and slather the apple butter mix  over the roast, re-cover with the foil and return to oven and continue to roast for at least another 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover the roast and return to oven for 30 minutes until the apple butter glaze starts to dry out a bit.  Remove from oven and let sit and rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve with juice/sauce from the pan.

I found the cooking time after you add the apple butter glaze to be pretty forgiving.  There’s so much moisture in the pan that you can leave it cooking for a really long time without drying it out as long as the foil is on it.  I like to cook my pork until it’s falling apart, so I cooked mine for almost 2 1/2 hours before I pulled the foil off.  If you like your pork more firm, stick with the shorter time but cook until it is at least 190 degrees internal temp on a meat thermometer.

I served this with twice baked potatoes made with sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon, steamed asparagus drizzle with garlic-olive oil and classic ceasar salad.

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Carrot Cake

This is my husband’s official birthday cake, every year.  It makes a really large, dense cake that weighs about 6 lbs when it’s frosted.

Carrot Cake

6 cups shredded carrots (32 oz.)

1 cup brown sugar (8 oz)

1 cup golden raisins (8 0z)

1/2 cup dried currents (4 0z)

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup sugar (8 3/4 oz)

1 cup canola oil (8 oz)

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

1 cup of drained, crushed pineapple (8 oz)

3 cups of all-purpose flour (12 3/4 oz)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans – optional (4 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and lightly flour 2 9-in cake pans.

Mix the 6 cups shredded carrots, the 1 cup raisins and the 1/2 cup of currents with the 1 cup of brown sugar in a med. bowl and let sit for an hour. You can leave out the raisins and currents and add them into the batter with the nuts, but I like how soft they get when you re-hydrate them by putting them in with the carrots and brown sugar.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

In a large bowl beat the 4 eggs until they are light, add in the 1 cup of canola oil and 1 1/4 cups of sugar and the vanilla extract and mix until combined.  Stir in the 1 cup of pineapple

Stir the flour, baking soda and spices into the eggs and sugar until well mixed and all the flour is absorbed.  Stir in the pineapple and the carrots, raisins and brown sugar and stir until everything is incorporated. If you are tempted to pour out the extra liquid in the carrots, don’t give into it.  The batter will be very wet, but the extra liquid assures a moist cake.  Stir in your nuts if you’re adding them.

Pour batter evenly into prepped pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool pans on a rack for at least 15 minutes then turn out the cakes and finish cooling.

I frost with cream cheese frosting.

Birthday Dinner Teaser

Well, I served a birthday dinner for my husband and his twin brother tonight, altogether there were 14 of us.  I started cooking at 9:00 o’clock this morning and I’m a bit footsore, so I’m just going to tease and post the menu and tomorrow I will post the relevant recipes and pics.

Birthday Dinner

Applebutter pork loin w/baked apples

Twice-baked potatoes

Caesar salad

Asparagus

Carrot Cake

Not a terribly coherent menu, a lot of flavors going on, but I asked my husband what he wanted to go with the pork loin and he picked his favorite potatoes, salad and veggie – so there ya go.

I have to say that the pork loin turned out realllllly good.  It was a autumn dish all the way.  The apples, cinnamon, cloves with the pork was delicious, if I do say so myself.

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