Monday, October 13, 2008

Gooey Apple Sheet Cake

Every year during apple season, we go to Hillcrest Orchards. This year we went with Jack's kindergarten class.
The boys liked cheering for Elvis Pigsley in the hog races.

Sliding down the giant slide is always a highlight.

At the petting zoo, Ben cradles a tiny chick.
We came home with a 1/2 bushel of Rome Beauty apples and another bag of Honeycrisps, the best-tasting eating apple. Here is a great fall cake - I brought it to a church picnic last week and didn't bring any home. I found it originally on the Cooking Light site, but it's certainly not light. I changed the recipe slightly; I use lots more apples than it called for.
Gooey Apple Sheet Cake
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter -- melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
4 c chopped apples -- (1/4-1/2 inch pieces)
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. lowfat cream cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c oats
Mix melted butter and sugar with a mixer. Add eggs and beat well. Combine the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing well. Fold in the chopped apples. Spread batter into well greased (or sprayed) 13 x 9 baking pan. Mix topping ingredients and put over cake BEFORE baking. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 40-45 minutes. You can store this on the counter OR in the refrigerator.

Great Baked Beans

This recipe is adapted from Pam Anderson (no, not that Pamela Anderson!). They are a lot like Boston Baked Beans, which are based on molasses. This recipe makes a huge amount, and they are even better the next day. They are great with barbecue: pork or beef. Note that the cooking time is long, though.

Baked Beans

8 slices of bacon, halved
1 medium onion, diced
3 large cans (28 oz. each) pork and beans (you may find different sizes; anything close is ok)
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (cheap, thick sauce is best here)
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 c. white or cider vinegar
2 t. dried mustard or 2 T. Dijon mustard

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat overn to 325. Grease a 13X9 inch baking pan.

Fry bacon in a large deep skillet until it is partially cooked and has released 1/4 c. drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onion to drippings in pan and saute until tender about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.)

Pour beans into greased baking pan. Top with bacon and bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly before serving. This is a great ahead of time dish.

Mom's Potato Salad

This is my mom's recipe; she's been making it for as long as I can remember. I actually don't care for potato salad, but I'm posting this recipe here because people really love it. If I were going to eat potato salad, it would be this one: the Italian dressing and bacon make it more exciting than the typical kind.

Potato Salad

6 peeled baking potatoes, diced
1/4 c. Italian dressing
1/4 c. choped onion
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 t. salt
ground black pepper
1/2 c.+ mayonnaise
8 pieces bacon, chopped, cooked, and drained
Boil potatoes about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly in a colander, and chill.

Put potatoes in a large bowl and gently toss with Italian dressing. Then add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Finally, stir in mayo. Just before serving, top potato salad with bacon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Secret Agent Briefcase Cake

I had a hard time trying to decide what kind of cake to make for Jack's secret agent party. The day before the party, I thought of a spy briefcase and I found a few ideas online. The cake is 11X17, with one chocolate layer and one yellow cake layer. The frosting is a chocolate buttercream, and I molded the handle, clasps, grappling hook, and snorkel out of fondant that I dyed. It ended up being a very big cake, which was good because we had a lot of guests. I'm very intrigued by fondant now and I'd like to try to working with it more.

You can find the recipes for the cakes and frosting under "dessert."