Food Network’s Can O’ Beer Cake


The named the recipe didn’t entice me, but the picture sure did!  The tiny air pockets in the cake, the luscious glaze and the dark cherry compote look too good to pass up, so this is definitely gracing my next dinner party table!

Can O’ Beer Cake

Ingredients

  • Nonstick baking spray, for preparing the pan
  • One 15-ounce box yellow cake mix (I am substituting a chocolate cake mix)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • One 12-ounce can lager, such as Budweiser or Sam Adams
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • One 12-ounce bag frozen cherries, thawed
  • Whipped cream for serving, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 10-cup plain Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.

Whisk the cake mix, oil, eggs and 1 cup beer in a large bowl until smooth and well-combined, at least 30 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula, then bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons beer in a heatproof glass bowl and microwave until hot, about 30 seconds. Stir in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar until dissolved.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a cooling rack. Using a toothpick, poke several holes over the cake, then drizzle the beer syrup evenly over the cake until it soaks in. Let the cake cool completely.

Stir the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons beer together in a bowl until smooth. Add more beer, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed to form a thick glaze. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake and let stand until set, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining beer and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with the cherries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the cherries are warmed through and the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cherries to a bowl and let cool completely.

Serve cake slices with the cherries on the side and a dollop of whipped cream, if using.

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The Benefit of Green Peas

peafacts

I never minded cleaning my plate when I was a kid.  I actually liked eating my vegetables, but I never had any idea how much good they were doing!  I am especially amazed by the number of things that green peas can do for your health.

One of the most important things that peas provide us Vitamin K.  It plays a vital role in your body because it:

  • helps the blood clot – preventing excessive bleeding;
  • helps anchor calcium inside the bones which helps prevent osteoporosis; and
  • helps to restore strength to bones following steroid use.

Peas contain such high quality protein that commercial protein powders have begun using it as an alternative to soy or whey based protein.

  • Coumestrol, a phytonutrient in Peas, has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancers
  • The Pantothenic Acid in peas supports the energy producing cells in the body and play an important role in adrenal function
  • A cup of peas is just 81 calories, has no cholesterol, they are good source of soluble as well as insoluble fiber
  • A cup of peas provides 16% of RDA of folates. Folates are one of the B-complex vitamins required for DNA synthesis inside the cell
  • Fresh green peas are very high in Vitamin C.  A cup has 67% of the daily requirement.
  • Peas contain phytosterols, which helps lower cholesterol levels
  • A cup of peas is also high in antioxidants like carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin as peas1well as vitamin-A (25.5% of RDA). Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy membranes, skin and eye-sight, and protects against lung and oral cavity cancers
  • Peas are also good in many other essential B-complex vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine. Furthermore, they are rich source of many minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese

Looks like I am going to mix a cup of green peas in with my quinoa for lunch tomorrow!  Yum!

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Good Things Happen When You Ditch The Fat


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Creamy Avocado Bomb Sauce

This sauce, found on Pinterest,  could be used on anything from salad, to tacos, quesadillas, taquitos, egg rolls, or just eaten with chips.  The best part is you won’t need to feel guilty, at least about the dip…

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Wash ingredients well, especially the cilantro because it can hold in a lot of dirt.
  2. Cut lime and avocado in halves. 
  3. Remove the avocado seed
  4. Scoop the avocado from its shell in put into Vitamix or food processor.
  5. Add 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 jalapeno, 3 garlic cloves, pinch of salt and 1/2 bunch of cilantro into Vitamix/food processor. 
  6. If you do not like your dip/dressing super spicy, remove seeds of jalapeno beforehand.
  7. If you want it extra spicy, add an entire jalapeno or substitute a habanero or hotter pepper.
  8. Squeeze 1/2 lime into mix. 
  9. Blend for 3 minutes.
  10. Do a taste test. You may need to add more salt, pepper or lime juice, depending on your personal taste. 
  11. If you would like a thinner sauce, if you are using as salad dressing, add just a touch of water to thin out. Start with a tablespoon and thin a bit at a time.
  12. Blend another 1-2 minutes.
  13. Pour into a sealed container, refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

pumpkin-gooey-butter-cake-pauladeenI’m not someone that thinks pumpkin desserts are only for the fall.  I love pumpkin pie and get out of my way if there is a moist pumpkin bread in the building!

I don’t know if you have ever had Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake, but if you haven’t, let me tell you it is a chunk (you cannot call a portion of this merely a piece) of heaven on earth!  Leave it to Paula to springboard off of that delight and create something even more decadent starring pumpkin and, of course, her favorite “heart stopping” ingredient, butter. 😉

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1  box yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar – equivalent to 3 3/4 cups (reserve 3 Tbsp for dusting)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and 8 TBLS butter and mix well with an electric mixer.
  3. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and remaining 8 TBLS butter, and beat together.
  6. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
  7. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
  8. Check after about 35 minutes so you make sure not to overbake. The center should be a little gooey.
  9. Let the pan cool completely before you cut the squares.
  10. You could even pop the cooled pan in the fridge before cutting to get extra clean cuts.
  11. Dust squares with powdered sugar before serving.

I like to serve with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of fresh mint.  Yum

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Bacon-Gouda Mac & Cheese

tjparmgoudaI love Trader Joe’s Parmesan Gouda so much I just had to figure out a way to incorporate it into my other favorite (besides a grilled cheese sandwich) Macaroni & Cheese!

A couple of trials later, finally a dish I can serve to guests!

Bacon-Gouda Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 16oz Cavatappi pasta (it’s very important to use the right pasta)
  • 8-10 Slices thick cut bacon (from the butcher)cavatappi
  • 2 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 C butter (4 TBLS) melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fresh ground kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 16 oz Trader Joe’s Parmesan-Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Sleeve Crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 1/4 C butter (4 TBLS) melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Butter a 13″ X 9″ Pyrex Baking Pan
  3. Prepare Cavatappi according to package directions. Drain and pour into a large mixing bowl – cover with foil to keep pasta warm.
  4. Cook bacon until crispy but not overcooked.  Drain, cool, crumble and set aside.
  5. Melt butter and whisk flour into it
  6. In large pot heat milk to nearly boiling.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and stir in flour/butter mixture.  Whisk vigorously over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Mixture should be thick and boiling.
  8. Slowly whisk in cream.
  9. Add in salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
  10. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in shredded Parmesan-Gouda and Cheddar cheeses until completely melted.
  12. Pour sauce over cooked pasta in large mixing bowl.
  13. Add in 3/4 of the crumbled bacon. Combine using a rubber spatula.
  14. Transfer to prepared Pyrex baking dish.
  15. Combine the sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers and remaining crumbled bacon with the remaining 4 TBLS of melted butter. Sprinkle over pasta in Pyrex baking dish.
  16. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

It’s rich, so a small side salad would be great alongside, or even nothing at all.  Except, of course, a glass of wine. 😉

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Pet Treats People Can Eat Too!

carrotoatIn the event of a zombie apocalypse, you’re getting off the grid, bugging out, planning a hike or outdoor adventure and need to make dual duty rations for you and your canine companions, or if you just forget to grab snacks at the grocery store, these treats for your pups are a healthy snack you can feel good munching on too!  A word of caution:  if there’s any chance these might do double duty as emergency snacks, you might want to rethink the bone shaped cookie cutter. 😉

Apple, Carrot & Oat Dog Biscuits

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2/3 cup chunky carrot juice
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground almond meal (roughly ground almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Make your chunky carrot juice:  I take 3-4 carrots, cut the tops off, peel them carrotsand toss them into the Vitamix until they are pureed.  I then add a bit of water and blend again on high to get the consistency closer to a pulpy juice.  If the final product doesn’t measure 2/3 cup I add a bit more water until it does.
  3. Combine all ingredients in bowl of your stand mixer (or other large bowl) and stir to combine until a thick dough forms.
  4. Flour a wooden cutting board or similar surface well, and turn the dough out onto the board.
  5. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and onto a rolling pin, and roll the dough to approximately 1/4″-1/2″ thickness. Be sure to use plenty of flour, as this dough is very sticky!bonecookiecutter
  6. When the dough is rolled out, dip a cookie cutter into flour and cut out the biscuits.cookiecutters
  7. Transfer the cut out biscuits to the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 1/4″ of an inch between each treat. These don’t spread out, so you can fit 30-40 onto a baking sheet at a time (depending on the size of your cookie cutter).
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool completely.
  10. Transfer the biscuits to an airtight container, where they will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

If you don’t use all of the dough you can freeze it for up to a year as long as you wrap it well with plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe Ziplock™ bag.  All you need to do is thaw it (still wrapped) in the refrigerator overnight and you’ll be good to go.

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What Do Vitamins & Minerals Really Do For Your Body?

This is the most complete chart I’ve seen explaining what each vitamin and mineral does for the body.  Thanks gojifarmusa.com!

vitaminchart

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Almonds Rock!

I love almonds!  They are easily thrown into my Vitamix to make almond meal, almond flour or almond butter to spread on my morning toast, added to my smoothies to add healthy fat & as a protein boost, and, as it turns out, they are great for your health!

I’m going into the kitchen now to grab a bowl to munch on during the football games.  A much healthier alternative to our usual chips & dip!


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Best Way To Cook Cauliflower Rice

how-to-make-cauliflower-rice-graterAnyone who has tried to diet, lose a few pounds, or who just wants to cut down on the many, many carbohydrates in the average American diet has likely heard of substituting white rice with cauliflower grated down into a low-calorie, gluten-free rice substitute that is also a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins C, K, and B6.

I have yet to master “cauliflower rice.”  The methods I have used so far have left me with either a pile of mush (something close to Cream of Wheat) or rock hard mini chunks that in no way resemble rice…UG!

Thankfully the test kitchen at epicurious.com did the hard work of trying out the many methods we’ve all seen on pinterest and gave us the method that they found to be the best tasting and closest in consistency to rice so that home cooks like me can stop screwing it up so badly.  The one thing that they did note, for consistency, was that they added olive oil to all preparations (except raw).

cookingcaulirice

The following is taken directly from the article found at http://www.epicurious.com:  The Best Way to Make Cauliflower Rice; by   04.22.16

COOKING METHOD 1: NONE

They tasted the grated cauliflower in its natural state, as it is sometimes added to couscous-like salads raw and simply tossed with a rich, acidic dressing that helps break down some of its tough structure. But although the raw form is the easiest—no cooking required—it had a crunch that was too vegetable-like to approximate rice.

Epinion: Raw cauliflower rice is crunchy, and works to add texture to a salad, but it doesn’t mimic cooked rice.


COOKING METHOD 2: STEAMED IN CHEESECLOTH

Steaming the grated cauliflower is the most minimal cooking process. But since the cauliflower granules are so small, they had to use several layers of cheesecloth to hold the cauliflower in the steamer basket. The texture here was great, and the flavor was clean and fresh, very similar to the blank canvas of white rice. But removing the tiny cauliflower pieces from the cheesecloth was a pain, and some cauliflower rice was lost in the process.

Epinion: This process yields great results, but it’s too fussy.


COOKING METHOD 3: STEAMED IN WATER, THEN GRATED

They then tried steaming the whole cauliflower florets first, using a traditional steamer basket set into a medium-sized pot. Once cooled, the cooked cauliflower was grated. Although this greatly simplified the process, the cauliflower rice tasted waterlogged and was mushy.

Epinion: Steaming whole cauliflower florets doesn’t work.


COOKING METHOD 4: COOKED IN WATER

Next they tried cooking the grated cauliflower as if it were traditional rice: they added the grated cauliflower to a small amount of simmering water, covered the pan, and let the cauliflower cook until the water evaporated. Again, this yielded watery mush.

Epinion: Cauliflower rice shouldn’t be cooked the same way as rice.


COOKING METHOD 5: BOILED

Not wanting to give up on the ease of water-cooking, they tried dunking some of the grated cauliflower in a pot of boiling water and then in ice water to try out quick-blanching. But yet again, the cauliflower rice was wet and squishy.

Epinion: Water + tiny granules of cauliflower rice = soggy cauliflower.


COOKING METHOD 6: MICROWAVED

They placed the grated cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl, stirred in the tablespoon of oil, covered the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and cooked for about 3 minutes. And viola! Super easy, delicious texture with distinct rice kernels, and clean flavor, very similar to the steamed version, minus the mess of the cheesecloth.

Epinion: For the easiest and cleanest white-rice—esque cauliflower, use the microwave.


COOKING METHOD 7: SAUTÉED

Finally, they tested high-heat methods of cooking the cauliflower, heating up the olive oil in a pan and sautéing the grated cauliflower until lightly cooked. The taste was much richer than the microwaved cauliflower (or any of the boiled/steamed versions), but the cruciferous flavor was much stronger.

Epinion: For a sweeter, more cauliflower-forward rice, sautéing is a great option.


COOKING METHOD 8: ROASTED

For the final test, they tossed the grated cauliflower with the oil, then roasted it on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 12 minutes. This version had the sweetest flavor, thanks to the caramelization of the cauliflower. But again, that earthy, cauliflower funk was much more apparent than in other cooking methods. Cauliflower rice made this way makes a great side dish on its own, seasoned simply with butter, salt, pepper, and perhaps some cheese, but for a white rice alternative, the microwaved rice was the clear winner.

Epinion: For a quick-cooking, caramelized cauliflower side dish, roasting is the way to go.

I can see now that my mistakes were:

  • I wasn’t adding any olive oil when cooking
  • I was adding too much water
  • I was overcooking the riced cauliflower in the microwave

Knowing where I failed, plus taking the expert advice of the Epicurious test kitchen, convince me that my next attempt at cauliflower rice is going to be much better!

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