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Friday, August 26, 2016

Tomato Basil Sauce

Canned tomato soup forms the base for this sweet and savoury Tomato Basil Sauce.  Similar to a brown sugar barbeque sauce, it is so tasty, especially with Dinner Patties or Veggie Meatballs.   

I'm not a big fan of canned vegetables or soups but I do keep a few cans handy on the pantry shelves for emergencies or convenience.  I absolutely don't like canned tomato soup.  While people dip their grilled cheese sandwiches in the stuff I turn up my nose in disdain, ha, ha. 

But for all my dislike of canned tomato soup I do use it in some of my cooking.  It can form the base of soups, stews, sauces and can even be used in cake!  So I usually have a couple of cans hanging about the cupboard shelves.  When one is in a rush or unexpected company arrives on your doorstep it's handy to have a go-to recipe that can be mixed up in mere seconds (okay, more like minutes), needs no strange or extraordinary ingredients,  and tastes good as well.   

My dear friend Cheryl passed on this recipe to me.  I can't remember if this is the original or if I've added to it but I've been making this on a regular basis ever since she introduced me to this tasty sauce.  Cheryl likes lots of basil and so do I but you can adjust the seasoning to your own taste.  There is no salt in this recipe because, as you probably know, the canned tomato soup has plenty. 

Tomato Basil Sauce
1 can tomato soup, diluted with equal water
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar, to taste
2 teaspoons dried basil or to taste

In a medium size saucepan mix all ingredients together.  Heat to a simmer, making sure the sugar is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined.  Pour over patties or veggie “meatballs” and bake 350 degrees about 30-40 minutes.  The sauce will thicken a little while baking. 

Just a few pantry items will make a tasty sauce.  
Choose your favourite brands of tomato soup and ketchup.  

Mix everything in a saucepan.

Add a soup can of water and stir.  Set over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a simmer so the brown sugar will dissolve.

Use Tomato Basil Sauce over Veggie Meatballs or Dinner Patties.

 As easy as 1, 2, 3. . .
Quick and tasty--Tomato Basil Sauce.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Scalloped Corn

Scalloped Corn is a delicious side dish for your family meals or gatherings.  Sweet yellow corn is baked in a creamy cornmeal base with just a little tang from the sour cream.  Serve piping hot from the oven for best eating enjoyment.

I've had this recipe for ages.  Don't know where I got it but it was clipped from some magazine or other years ago.  The original recipe called for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix but that particular brand and size is a scarce commodity where I live so I've substituted a homemade base (which anyone knows is way better, anyway you make it).

It's a bit early for Thanksgiving, but this would be a perfect side dish to serve at that time.  But, may I say, don't wait until October or November for this delectable dish.  Serve it for any gathering or potluck you may be asked to bring along a hot dish.  Your family and friends won't be disappointed

This Scalloped Corn takes two kinds of corn.  Corn kernels come frozen, which is very convenient for measuring, and in cans.  I prefer the flavour and ease of the frozen corn.  Of course, if you are blessed with fresh corn, use that instead!  The other, cream-style corn, usually comes in a can but if you make your own (which I have never done) I'm sure you can use that as well.  

This is very easy and comes together in just minutes.  If you prefer a less sweet casserole, just decrease the sugar.  Myself, I like it just the way it is. 

Be sure to serve this piping hot from the oven.  You'll love it!

Scalloped Corn
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups kernel corn, frozen or canned, drained
1 cup sour cream
2 cups canned cream-style corn

⅔ cup flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder 
¾ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease or pan spray an 8x12-inch baking dish.  

Drain or thaw the kernel corn.  In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, beaten eggs, kernel corn, sour cream and cream-style corn.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt.    Combine the dry and wet ingredients together in the larger bowl.  Don't beat the batter; stir gently. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned.  

Serve piping hot.  Makes about 8-10 servings.

Mix the wet ingredients together, including the corn.  Mix the dry ingredients together until well combined.  Combine all ingredients together, stirring lightly until everything is well mixed.  Pour the batter in the prepared baking dish.

 Bake at 375 degrees about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Fresh from the oven the casserole resembles corn bread but don't be fooled.  The inside is creamy and delicious.

Slightly crunchy edges make the sides especially desirable.

Scalloped Corn serves up neatly from the baking dish.

Scalloped Corn makes a delicious and hearty side dish.  It could also be a main lunch dish served with a salad. 

 Delicious, creamy and sweet Scalloped Corn!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Celebration Vanilla Cupcakes

Any cupcake is grounds for a celebration, but these cupcakes are especially good.  Moist and close-textured, each bite is a celebration in your mouth!  Paired with your favourite icing or whipped cream frosting, these make any celebration top-notch.  

Jenell, Heather, Lois, Don
A few weeks ago Don and I were priviledged to host two lovely young women in our home.  Jenell and Heather from Antigua and Jamaica, respectively, were with Canada Youth Challenge selling a variety of health and Christian books to earn scholarships for their next year of university.  Jenell is doing computer programing and Heather is in her last year of education and looking forward to teaching in her own classroom when she completes her degree.  On their last day the two girls presented us with a lovely thank you card and a cookbook.  They knew I like to bake and the gift was perfect.  Don will also appreciate the gift as he eats what I bake. Ha, ha.  Thank you Heather and Jenell.

As I was flipping through the book (seconds after I received it) my eyes fell upon a recipe for Celebration Cupcakes and I knew these would be the first recipe I'd try from the book.   They looked just like the ones mom would bake for my birthday parties, minus the fancy swirls of icing.  It was the lovely golden edges that caught my attention.  Mom's looked just like that when they came from the oven to my mouth.  

Junior’s Dessert Cookbook (Celebration Cupcakes, page 82) by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen, published by The Taunton Press, 2011
I had never heard of Junior's resturant before I received the book so I did a little investigating and learned they are a New York City based chain of resturants in the NYC area.  The recipes are scaled down versions of what they serve or have served in the resturant over the years since it was established.  Looks like I'll have some serious baking to do over the winter months!

I baked up half a batch of the little cakes the next day.  The cupcakes were everything I thought they'd be.  Those lovely golden and somewhat crisp edges met my every expectation and the flavour was nostalgic of the birthday parties of my childhood.  

I decided to bring a few to David and his family who were camping just a few miles from our home.  I thought the children would enjoy decorating their own little cake so brought along a few sprinkles and chocolate chips.  David and Ben supplied a few wild blueberries and raspberries to finish the decorating.  

As you can see David enjoyed decorating and eating his cupcake.  Anne had hers plain with the whipped cream frosting and looks like she enjoyed the experience.  Although the kiddies decorated their cakes they weren't as interested in eating cupcakes as the adults were as there were friends to play with and fish and squirrels to try to catch.

A few days later I made more cupcakes for Emily's birthday party.  We missed her 3rd birthday a few weeks before so, of course, I had to make sure we got to attend a party in her honour while they were visiting Nanny and Poppy Gill's house.  

I made a mini-cake from some of the batter so Emily would have somewhere to place her number 3 candle.  

This is half the recipe.  I thought a dozen plenty to make at a time as the recipe said not to freeze leftover cakes.  They are at their best the day they are made.  I made the birthday cupcakes the morning of the party and gave them a swirl of whipped cream frosting about an hour before the party began.  

If you can't find unsalted butter, use the regular salted butter and cut the salt back to ¼ teaspoon. 

Celebration Vanilla Cupcakes
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
1½ cups + 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12-cup standard size muffin pan.  Line the pan with cupcake papers or grease well if not using papers.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat in the vanilla. 

Sift the flour before measuring.  Measure sifted flour and mix or sift with the baking powder and salt. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, by hand, fold one-third of the flour into the creamed mixture.  Add half the milk, mixing well but do not beat.  Repeat with one-third flour, remaining milk and one-third flour until all ingredients are incorporated. 

Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans.  Bake in the preheated oven 18-20 minutes until golden brown and centres are baked when tested with a toothpick.  Let cupcakes cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.  Place on wire rack until completely cool.  Frost with favourite icing (see index for several frosting/icing suggestions) or whipped cream

Makes 12 cupcakes.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat in the vanilla.  Don't forget the vanilla.  This gives the cupcakes such a great flavour.

Sift the flour before measuring.  Cake flour is quite lumpy so sifting is imperative to a good smooth batter.  Measure sifted flour and mix or sift with the baking powder and salt.  That little yellow measuring cup is 2 tablespoons or ⅛ cup. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold one-third of the flour into the creamed mixture.  Add half the milk, mixing well but do not beat.  Repeat with one-third flour, remaining milk and one-third flour until all ingredients are incorporated. This is how you add flour and milk or any liquid alternately into a batter. 

I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake papers.  

I guess I didn't fill the papers quite enough because I had just enough batter to make an extra cupcake in a custard cup.  Thirteen cupcakes makes a baker's dozen. Nothing unlucky about 13.

Straight from the oven.  See those lovely golden edges.  Can't wait to get my teeth into those cupcakes.

Let the cupcakes cool about 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.  

For the birthday party I gave each cupcake a swirl of Whipped Cream Frosting.  

Any favourite icing or frosting will be delicious on these cupcakes.  I like the Whipped Cream Frosting because it isn't too sweet.  A less sweet topping is perfect when the kiddies will be decorating with sprinkles and candy.

Ta, da!  Emily's birthday cupcake.  Well decorated, including a lovely pair of cheezie horns.

Cupcakes are good but so are popsicles.  

 Winding down after everyone's gone home. 

All ready for your next celebration!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake

Who doesn't like Ice Cream Cake?  I certainly do!  My niece, Katherine, has one every year on her birthday.  What a nice treat that is.  But for everyday eating, ice cream cakes cost a small fortune.   I priced them at a popular ice cream store and they run anywhere from $30-$50.  That's a lot of money for a cake, especially when they are so easy to make.  Of course, they may not look as fancy as store bought but they taste as good and can be made for just a few dollars. 

This is a super easy recipe requiring no baking or churning.  If you can open a cookie package and scoop ice cream you can make this cake.  Cookies and ice cream are always going on sale and along with the other ingredients a large 9-inch cake can be made for under ten dollars or not much more.  You may have ice cream sauce in your refrigerator already which will bring down the cost even more.

This recipe is very basic using only one flavour of ice cream and cookies.  You can certainly use different flavours of ice cream in each layer and mix up the cookies. You can add all kinds of goodies to the middle layer--think chopped chocolate bars, Smarties, M&Ms, peanut butter cups--the list is as long or short as your imagination.  But I stuck to the basics on this one.  You really can't mess up this ice cream cake.   Just don't let the ice cream melt too much while making the cake. 

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake
  • 2 litres of your favourite ice cream, divided in half
  • 1 package sandwich type cookies, about 24 cookies (Oreo, Fudgee.O, Maple Cream, etc.)
  • ¼ cup melted butter 
  • About ½ cup or more ice cream sauce/syrup or fruit sauce (chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, strawberry, etc.)
  • 2 cups whipping cream, sweetened and whipped when needed 
  • Extra cookies for garnish, optional
Notes: Remove ice cream from deep freezer for a few minutes before using it in the recipe.  My deep freezer freezes ice cream rock solid so a few minutes at room temperature softens it up to the right consistency.  If the ice cream is in my refrigerator freezer it is soft enough to use right away.

The cookies and ice cream syrup/sauce you choose should complement the ice cream flavour.  Don't use fresh fruit in place of the syrup/sauce because it will freeze hard as bullets and your teeth may not forgive you.

Now, on to the recipe!  

You will need a 9-inch springform pan.

Place 1 package of your chosen cookies in a blender or food processor and process until crumbs are formed.   Place the crumbs in a bowl and add the melted butter.  Mix thoroughly until the crumbs stick together.  Remove 1 cup of crumbs and reserve.

Lightly pat the remaining crumbs in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.  If it is very warm in your kitchen, place the pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the crust can firm up a little before adding the ice cream.  

Working quickly, spread half of the ice cream over the crumb crust base.   Sprinkle ¾ cup of the reserved crumbs over the ice cream. Drizzle about half of the ice cream sauce over the crumbs.  Top with remaining ice cream.  Spread and smooth the top of the ice cream.  

Note: If your ice cream seems to be melting, cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until it has hardened.  It was a hot and muggy day so I left mine in the freezer overnight and finished it the next day.  

On the top of the cake, spread the remaining ice cream syrup/sauce.  You may wish to make a fancy design or spread it evenly.  Decorate the edges with the remaining ¼ cup of cookie crumbs.  Place in the freezer until frozen very solid.  

When ready to serve whip the cream to stiff peaks with 2-4 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Remove the cake from the spring form pan and place on serving plate. Frost and decorate with the whipped cream.  Garnish with extra cookies if you wish.  Place the decorated cake back in the freezer until just a few minutes before serving.  Slice and enjoy.

Makes 10-12 servings. 

 I used Fudgee.O cookies today.

This is the 300 gram size and contains 24 cookies.  You will use the whole package plus a few more for garnish if you wish.

Crush the cookies in a blender or food processor.  If you don't own a power machine use a rolling pin and large zip lock bag.

Mix the crumbs with the melted butter.

 The crumbs should stick together quite nicely.  Take out 1 cup of crumbs and reserve.

Lightly pack the crumbs into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.  You may line the pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper if you wish to remove the bottom of the pan from the cake before serving.
 Chapman's ice cream was on sale this week and in the brick form.  

The brick makes it so easy to divide in half.

It was easy to slice each piece and lay the slices on the crumb crust.

Spread out the ice cream to make a smooth and even layer.

Use ¾ cup of the reserved crumbs to sprinkle on top of the ice cream.  Drizzle with ice cream sauce/syrup.  I used butterscotch.  Use as much as you think you'd like.  

Cover the middle layer with the remaining ice cream. At this stage, if your ice cream is melting too fast, cover the top with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer to harden.  It was a very hot day when I started making my cake so I left mine in the freezer overnight.

You are now ready for the topping and a few more crumbs.  I was going to make a lovely design on the top of my cake using the butterscotch topping.  I put it in a sandwich bag and snipped off the corner.  This is about as far as I got when the bag broke and what a mess I had.  Use a heavy freezer bag or a plastic piping bag if you want to get fancy.  Sandwich bags do not work!

Of course, as soon as the butterscotch sauce hit the cold ice cream it became too hard to spread.  I pulled and stretched it around the top the best I could.  I eventually covered a little more area  before I spread the crumbs.  This will not affect the flavour of the cake.  You really can't mess this up.  (You can make it messy which is quite different than messing it up!)

You should have ¼ cup of crumbs remaining.

Sprinkle the last ¼ cup of crumbs around the edge of the cake.  (You can sprinkle them anywhere you like and it will still taste great.) Cover the top with plastic wrap and put the cake back in the freezer while you whip the cream or it can be frozen a few hours before you are ready to frost and serve.

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until you have stiff peaks.  

It's always good to have a helper in the kitchen!  Lori was quite interested in the cream.  She informed me that mommy always let her have a taste of the cream when they bake together.  Of course, nanny gave Lori a taste or two or three, also. 

When you are ready to frost the cake, remove it from the springform pan.  I ran a knife around the inside of the pan to help it release.  I came away quite nicely.

You may remove the bottom of the pan from the cake if you have lined it with plastic or parchment paper. I left the bottom of the pan under my cake but when I make another ice cream cake I think I'll line the pan so the cake can sit right on the serving plate.  Place the cake on a serving plate and frost and decorate with the whipped cream. 

When the cake is frosted and decorated you may place it in the freezer for half an hour or so to let the cream freeze and harden.  It will be easier to serve this way.  As you can see I used a few extra cookies from a second package to decorate to top of the cake.  You could also use chopped chocolate bars, chocolate curls, Smarties, M&Ms, etc. or leave it plain. 

Here's the first slice.  I ran the blade of the knife under hot water and wiped it dry before making each cut.  The warm knife really helped with cutting into this cake.

Finally, Peter gets his piece of the cake.  I was cutting and serving and barely got a chance to get a picture. 

 This Super Easy Ice Cream Cake is Lori approved!

Your family will be thrilled when you make this
 Super Easy Ice Cream Cake.
What a treat!