Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grandma's Chocolate Cake

Since its my birthday today I thought I'd share my favorite cake recipe ever.  My grandma's chocolate cake.  I actually never had this cake when my grandma made it, but my mom shared it with me once I was old enough to appreciate a good recipe.  I've made it countless time and received nothing but praise.  It truly cannot be beat, in my opinion.  Its dense and moist and delicious.  Go make and celebrate my birthday with me. :)

Grandma's Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling

Heat oven to 350.  Prepare pans as needed*.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Blend in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time.  Finally, add the boiling water.  You have to really mix it to get the water incorporated, but it should come together in just a couple minutes.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the sides start to pull away from the side of the pan.

*I like to always use shortening and flour for my cake pans if I'm going to be taking the cake out of the pans.  Also, if I'm taking the cakes out of the pans (like to decorate, you know?) I almost always cut a piece of wax or parchment paper to the size of the bottom of the pan and do a little layer of shortening on the pan, then place the paper, then grease and flour the paper.  When I'm ready to flip my cake out of the pan I can easily get the bottom out and then gently pull the paper away for the cake to cool!  Easy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

I remember the first time I made this... it was for a baby shower for one of my favorite friends!  I made a lot and we ate... a lot!  Its so tasty, quite easy to make, but a favorite for sure.  You can really use whatever fruit you feel like using or that you have on hand, but this is my favorite combo I've tried.

Fruit Salsa

2 apples
4 kiwi
1 lb strawberries
6-8 oz raspberries
2 spoonfuls orange marmalade
2 tsp lemon juice

Chop the strawberries and kiwi, the raspberries just need to be kind of smushed and mixed in with the fruit mixture.  While chopping my apples I add about 1 tsp lemon juice with each apple to prevent browning.  Mix all the fruit together with the preserves and enjoy with cinnamon chips!

Cinnamon Chips

10 (8") flour tortillas
Cooking spray, butter flavor works well
Cinnamon sugar mixture~ I think we usually do about 3/4 cup sugar with 1 Tbsp cinnamon.

Heat oven to 350.  Spray one side of a tortilla with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cut into 10 wedges (or whatever size you prefer).  Place the wedges sugar side down on cookie sheet.  Once the sheet is full, spray all the wedges with cooking spray again then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Serve with fruit salsa and let the compliments pour in.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cheese Ball

Do you ever have to take an appetizer to a holiday party?  Do you want it to look impressive, but not take a ton of work?  No? I'm the only one... ha!  You're not fooling me.  Well, this cheese ball is awesome.  My mom created its awesomeness, so I can say that without being conceited. She uses cashews as the nuts around it, but due to allergies we use almonds.  Seriously, make it, but make it for a crowd its big and addicting.

Cheese Ball

1 package cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheese (I usually use medium cheddar, but pepper jack would be yummy)
1 can green chiles, diced
1/2 (14 oz) can olives, chopped
Sliced almonds

Mix the cream cheese, cheese, chiles, and olives.  Form into a ball.  I like to put it in plastic wrap to form its shape.  Smash the almonds into the sides of the ball.  Wrap it up tight in plastic wrap until you're ready to serve.  Serve with crackers.  So yummy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Potato Salad

I know, I know, you have already have the perfect potato salad recipe, right?  Well, this is the salad I grew up on and my family still loves!  Its perfect for a potluck and with Memorial Day right around the corner, its a perfect time to try a new recipe, right?

Potato Salad

8 medium baking potatoes
10 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2-3 big pickles, chopped
1 1/3 cup Miracle Whip
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp sugar

Peel the potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise and boil for 20 minutes.  Cool, then cut into bite size pieces.  Dice the hard boiled eggs and combine with chopped onion, pickles and potatoes.

Mix the remaining ingredients for the dressing.  Pour over potato mixture and stir well.  Chill for at least 4 hours if you can before serving!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hamburger Goulash

Sometimes you just need a quick and easy dinner.  Something the kids will eat without complaint but that you will enjoy as well.  It needs to be full of hearty ingredients and flavorful.  This is that dinner for our family.  I actually get "yes!" comments from my boys when I say this is what we'll be eating for dinner.

Hamburger Goulash

1 pound ground beef
1 onion
3 cups macaroni
2 small cans tomato sauce
2 (14 oz) cans chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups cheese, grated
Garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper

Brown the ground beef and onion until meat is cooked through and onion is translucent.  I always cook mine with salt and pepper.  Once it all cooked through drain and rinse it.

While the meat is cooking, boil macaroni until cooked to desired doneness.  Drain.

Combine macaroni and meat.  Add tomatoes and sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, garlic.  Once its heated through add cheese and stir to melt.  Serve to a happy crowd!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Basic Granola

Oh boy, I love this stuff.  Its been calling my pregnancy name for days and its high time I make it up again.  I seriously created this one pulling my favorite parts from various recipes from friends and cookbooks.  Its fun to play with too, lots of delicious variations to be had!


2 cups honey
1 cup oil
8 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2 cups coconut
2 cups rice krispies
1 cup wheat germ or wheat bran
2 cups almonds
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Line 2 cookie sheets with foil.  Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Heat the honey and oil until they can mix well.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir until well coated.  Divide evenly between the two cookie sheets and bake at 325 for 25 minutes, stirring every 8 minutes.  When pan comes out of oven, press gently with paper towels and let cool.  Break into chunks and store in gallon size zip top bags.  Break into smaller pieces to serve with milk or eat as "bars" right from the bag.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pretzel Jello Salad

Ok, this one is kind of a stretch as a "salad".  But I won't tell, if you don't.  This is one of the yummiest creations ever.  The combination of sweet, salty, fruity, creamy is perfection!  I made this for a Relief Society event recently and everyone was enamored with it. I thought for sure it was one of those recipes that was old news, that everyone had had a million times before... but still never gotten sick of.  But in my ward, at least, it was pretty new!  Maybe you can surprise some people in your neck of the woods too!

Pretzel Jello Salad

2 cups pretzels, crushed
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 (8oz) block cream cheese
1 (8oz) tub Cool Whip
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
10 oz frozen strawberries
10 oz frozen raspberries
1 (6oz) package raspberry Jello

First of all, heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Now go and find a glass 9x13 dish, this is just too pretty to hide in a metal pan.

Now, get those pretzels crushed.  I'd like to say the food processor works perfectly, but I still end up smashing a lot of them with a rolling pin.  Toss the pretzels, I usually use sticks, in a sturdy zip top bag.  Get the air out as best you can.  Then whack with a rolling pin (or whatever tool you have handy for smashing things, meat mallet, hammer, candlestick, whatever).  Once you have enough crumbs to measure 2 cups, mix the pretzels with the sugar.  Melt the butter and mix it in with the pretzels and sugar.  Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.  You want to cool for 1 hour, but if you don't have time for that just stick it under the AC vent while you work on the rest.

Next beat the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar together, stir in the Cool Whip.  Spread over the pretzel crust.

Mix boiling water with Jello and stir until dissolved.  Add frozen berries and stir until thickened.  Pour over cream cheese mixture.  Chill for at least one hour.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pizza Dip

Back in the good ol' days of grad school, I met a lot of really great people.  One of those lovely people shared this delicious recipe with me and I have loved it every time I've made it.  Those I've made it for have loved it too.  That dear friend has since passed away and I wish that I could go back and enjoy our time together with a little more perspective.  Isn't it amazing how, so often, we bond over food.  This one is for you Catherine!

Pizza Dip

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups spaghetti sauce
Baguette slices or French Bread

Combine cream cheese and seasoning, spread onto the bottom of a 9" pie plate.  Mix mozzarella and parmesan, sprinkle about half of it over the cream cheese.  Top with spaghetti sauce.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella/parmesan over top. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350.  Or microwave on high in 2 minute intervals until cheese is melted through and sauce is bubbly.  Serve with 2-3" pieces of bread.  So yummy!!!