Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spiced Rum Cake

Spiced Rum Cake

1 package Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Yellow Cake mix
1 small package instant French Vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
Dash nutmeg
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1/2 cup Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325^F.

Place all ingredients in large mixer bowl and blend well (about 3 minutes on medium-high speed ought to do it).  Meanwhile, grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.  Once your batter is well mixed, spoon it evenly into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the batter and place the pan in the oven for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

About 55 minutes into your baking time, prepare the Rum Syrup:

Rum Syrup:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 cup Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum

In a saucepan combine the butter, water and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in desired amount of rum.

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven, but leave it in the pan.  Using a wooden skewer, poke holes in the hot cake and brush on the glaze, making sure to let some dribble down the edges of the cake inside the pan.  Use about half the glaze and be patient!  Let it soak in before you add more glaze.  Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto a serving plate and brush the rest of the glaze on the top of the cake, letting the syrup absorb into the cake between brushings.  Be patient!

Let the cake cool completely before serving.  This cake is awesome made the day before you serve it. Great with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Italian Chicken & Ditalini Soup

Smoky Italian Chicken and Ditalini Soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped red, green and yellow bell peppers
2 Tbsp olive oil
32-oz carton chicken broth
28-oz can diced tomatoes
4-oz can V-8 vegetable juice
1 tsp minced roasted garlic
1 tbsp diced pickled jalapenos
Pinch sugar
Splash hot sauce
1/4 cup bbq sauce
10-oz carton frozen Fordhook lima beans
12-oz Ditalini, cooked al dente
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
Chopped Parsley

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot and brown the chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper, on both sides.  Remove chicken from pot and add the onion celery and bell peppers.  Cook, stirring often over medium heat until the vegetables soften.  Return the chicken to the pot and add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, V-8, garlic, jalapenos, sugar, hot sauce and bbq sauce and lima beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes or until beans are done.  Stir in the Ditalini and cream and serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and Parsley.

Delicious!  John loved it.  Great with Garlic Toast.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Grinch Cookies

I found this recipe on Pinterest and could not resist making them!  They were so cute....plump little crinkled green cookies glistening with powdered sugar with a red candy heart in the center!  Any Grinch fan would love these!

Grinch Cookies

1 box French Vanilla cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 drop green food coloring
Confectioner's sugar for dusting/sprinkling
Heart Shaped decorating candies/sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350^F.

Cream together the cake mix, oil, eggs and food coloring until it's completely mixed and forms a ball of dough in the bowl of the mixer.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Drop by tablespoons into the confectioner's sugar and roll into balls.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and press a heart into the center of each ball.  Bake for 8 minutes or until just set.  (Mine took closer to 10 minutes!)  Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 2 minutes before attempting to transfer them to a wire rack.  They are very soft and will fall apart if you try to do this before they are cool enough!  Trust me, I mangled several before I realized what I was doing. They oozed between the wires and fell apart.  :-(

So...mine did not look like the pleasingly plump little morsels on Pinterest....mine spread and were much flatter and all the confectioner's sugar completely dissolved into the cookies.  I was a little disappointed, but they were still tolerably cute.  And they tasted pretty good, though they do not keep well at all.  They dry out really quick, but since they only make a couple dozen cookies, that shouldn't be a problem for anyone who has kids!

If I were to make them again, I would use a scant 1/2 cup of melted butter instead of the oil and use the Non-Melting Confectioner's Sugar from King Arthur Flour.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

Spray doughnut pans (makes 12 doughnuts) with Baking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350^F.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the baking pans, filling each one a little more than three-quarters full. Bake for 17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then tap the doughnuts out onto a sheet pan.

For the topping:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping, melt the 8 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch saute pan. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut first in the butter and then in the cinnamon sugar, either on one side or both sides.

This is an Ina Garten recipe...and I trust Ina!  These were good and easy and John loved them!  However, I personally think they were way too sweet, so if I ever made them again I would reduce the sugar by at least half.  The recipe also makes more than the 12 doughnuts indicated in the directions.  I filled my doughnut pans and had enough batter left over to make 8 muffins.  I would also decrease the nutmeg (or leave it out entirely) since it seemed to overpower the cinnamon.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Honeycrisp Apple Sangria

Honeycrisp Apple Sangria

  • 3 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, chopped
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (I suggest a light-bodied Spanish variety)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups apple cider*
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or juice from 2 medium oranges)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • club soda, to taste
Place the cinnamon sticks, apples, and orange slices in a large pitcher. Add wine, apple cider, brandy, orange juice, and lemon juice. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 6 - 24 hours. Taste; if you'd like it to be sweeter, add 1-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, honey, or agave.
If you'd like a cinnamon-sugar rim (highly recommended), simply moisten the rim of your glasses with water, turn the glass upside down and dip it into a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Pour in the sangria with fruit* and add a splash of club soda (this unsweetened fizz is wonderful with the sangria!). Garnish with a cinnamon stick, if desired.
I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it for Thanksgiving Day.  It's really good!!!  I used Fuji Apples and an Italian Red Wine and Calvados instead of plain old brandy and I think I'll be making this Sangria again and again! Oh, and since I definitely have a sweet tooth, I used a splash of Sprite instead of club soda.  Yumm-oh!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Applesauce Cake with Apple Cinnamon Buttercream

I was a little worried that this recipe (found on didn't have any eggs, but it turned out fine.  It's moist and spicy and delicious and I love that it's not a full-sized cake!  Only thing I'd change next time is to reduce the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon.  The original recipe called for raisins, which I omitted.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350^F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Dissolve baking soda into applesauce and mix into creamed butter.  Add flour mixture.  Mix until smooth.  

Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350^F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool completely.  Frost, if desired.  This cake would be fine without frosting....maybe a spinkle of powdered sugar.


1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp apple juice or cider

Beat the butter, sugar, cinnamon and enough juice to make a spreadable frosting.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chicken Gloria

Chicken Gloria

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp butter
8-oz container sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup cream sherry
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon granules
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can water
1/2 can half and half
6 slices Muenster or Swiss cheese
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Heat oven to 350^F.

Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon flour into a shallow dish and coat both sides of chicken.  Shake off excess.

In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Brown chicken on both sides.  You don't need to cook the chicken completely since it will finish in the oven.  Transfer the chicken to a 9x13" baking dish.

Melt the butter in the skillet.  Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.  Stir in the sherry and cook 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken bouillon granules, mushroom soup, water and half and half; mix well.  Cook until thoroughly heated.

Pour mushroom sauce over chicken; top each chicken piece with a slice of cheese.  Fold the cheese in half if it's too wide for the chicken pieces.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and turn on the broiler.  Remove foil and place the pan under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese a bit.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This is great over rice!  I found the recipe on Pinterest and added a couple things and it is really good!