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Posts from ‘June, 2009’

Cake Mix Doctor


Several years ago I saw a Cake Mix Doctor book at a local bookstore and perused it. I later checked it out of the library for some in-depth study. After this I decided to purchase a copy of my own. I have since also bought the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor and another book by this author called the What Can I Bring Cookbook.

picture of Cake Doctor Books

The author, Anne Byrn had a cooking column in a newspaper in Tennessee and in one column she asked readers to submit their best recipes for things made from cake mixes. Thus began the idea for the cake books.

My daughter Megan's friend, Kristen, bakes cakes for birthdays at her husband's office and she often uses recipes from the Cake Doctor books. She tried a number of the cakes and both she and Megan really like one called the Lethal Peppermint Cake. Here's a picture of the cake:

picture of Lethal Peppermint Cake

This cake is oft requested in our family for birthdays and I also made large two layer sheet cake versions of it for the groom's cake at both DD, Meg and DS-in-law Jim's wedding and at DS, Mark and DD-in-law Katie's weddings. Here's a picture of one of the groom's cakes:

picture of Groom's Cake

The cake itself is a deep, moist chocolate cake filled with a peppermint buttercream and then frosted with a chocolate ganache icing. This picture shows the peppermint filling:

picture of Peppermint Filling

If you like chocolate and mint you will probably like this cake.

I have tried a number of other recipes from these books and there are several that we really like. The author also has a web-site set up like a newsletter with recipes that are not in the books. One recipe that I found on the web-site that is one of my favorites is the Orange Marmalade Cake. If you have read any of the Jan Karon books you are probably familiar with Esther Bolick's famous Orange Marmalade Cakes (scroll down to the recipe--it's in the newsletter titled 4th slice, from 2006 under the heading Recipe Swap ). I tried several recipes for Orange Marmalade Cakes that I found in magazines that I did not care for, but this one is very, very good.

The first Cake Doctor book has a wide variety of recipes for white, yellow, and spice cakes, fruit flavored cakes, chocolate cakes, bars, cookies, etc. The second book has some of the recipes from the first book but nearly all the recipes contain chocolate or white chocolate. In the second book she has revised some of her recipes just a bit. At the front of both books there are small color plates which picture every recipe in the book. I find this to be very helpful.

So, if you like to bake or need ideas for an upcoming birthday or other celebration cake I would definitely recommend that you check out these books.

Becka


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A quick, easy meal


I have been fighting some kind of infection in my lungs for nearly a month now that has left me with a terrible cough and very little energy. I have taken some time off work and have been trying to get extra rest, drink plenty of fluids, etc. I finally went to the doctor this week and am now on antibiotics and have an inhaler. I'm feeling slightly better after a few doses of the antibiotic and hope to soon be feeling back to normal.

When one is not feeling well or having a busy day it's good to have an easy meal idea. One that I like is these little individual meat loaves and oven baked potatoes. Since it's just the two of us when I mix up a meat loaf mixture I divide it into individual loaves which I freeze on a tray and then slip into a freezer bag. This particular batch of meat loaves I made using a recipe from Kraft Food and Family magazine. It contains dried stuffing mix and barbecue sauce, but any meatloaf recipe will do. These small loaves easily thaw overnight or during the day in the refrigerator. To bake you just put them in a baking pan and top with catsup and bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins. Here they are ready to pop into the oven:

picture of raw meat loaves

A really good side dish for the little meat loaves are these oven baked potatoes. To make these you melt some margarine in the bottom of a baking pan (I use about 1 Tbsp. per potato). Sprinkle the melted margarine with paprika (you can also add garlic powder, chili powder, or other seasonings of your choice) and then place the potatoes which have been cut in half lengthwise, cut side down in the melted margarine. These also bake for 30 mins. Here are the potatoes ready for the oven:

picture of unbaked potatoes

While the meatloaves and potatoes are baking you can cook a vegetable or make a salad and set the table. This makes a nice, satisfying meal with very little effort. Keep this meal in mind when you are having a busy day or feeling a bit under the weather.

picture of meat and potatoes

Becka


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A much maligned vegetable


Do you like beets? I never cared for them when I was a child. My mother would cook them plain with salt, pepper, and butter and she would also make Pickled Beets and add some hard cooked eggs. When I was in college my grandmother prepared Harvard Beets while I was visiting her and I discovered I did like them after all. Now I like them just about any way I have tried them.

In France you can buy them already cooked in a vacuum sealed bag in the produce department. I have had many a delicious beet salad over there made with those precooked beets. The beets are usually shredded or diced and have a vinaigrette dressing, perhaps with a little mayonnaise. They are sometimes combined with apples and walnuts or other nuts. I have seen the precooked beets locally at Ingles.

I regret to say that none of my children have become fond of beets. Rob and I do like them though. I especially like the pickled beets on a salad. One of my favorite combinations is romaine lettuce, peas, chopped hard cooked egg, and sliced or diced pickled beets topped with Ranch dressing. Here's a picture:

picture of beet salad

I have never tried roasting fresh beets, but I have often seen it done on cooking shows. It's supposed to bring out the sweetness of the beets.

On a totally unrelated thought I want to post a picture of this lovely plant that my friend Sonia gave me this week. I wanted to post it while it is still alive and well!

picture of plant from Sonia

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Becka


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Inspiration


Do you ever get inspired to try something new when you read about it on a blog? I do all the time. Many of the recipes that I have tried in recent months are ones I have read or read about on different cooking blogs such as Tammy's Recipes or Pioneer Woman Cooks.

I have also been inspired to sew more after looking at all the creative things that people make at sites such as Sew Mama Sew and Sew Chic. I recently tried this pattern after reading about it and seeing a finished garment made from it at Sew Chic:

picture of shirt pattern

Here's a picture of my shirt:

picture of new shirt

If you are interested it's Simplicity 3790.

I am also constantly challenged to read and study when I read Bet's posts over at Dappled Things. Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me recently posted a list of books and movies that prompted me to try a couple of new authors from the library. She has also encouraged me to beef up my pantry storage.

Carrie at My Stream in the Desert has wonderful posts about her family's adventures this year in Alaska as well as encouragement from God's word. Deb at Mountain Musings also blogs about her family's adventures and their walk with the Lord.

Jimmie at Jimmies Collage writes a great deal about home schooling but also details her fascinating life in China. Carol over at Scooter Finazzio writes hilarious posts about her life in Asia. Cheryl at Copper's Wife also writes about home schooling as well as many other family oriented topics. I have tried a number of her recipes as well.

Two of my all time favorite bloggers are Rob the IVMan and Megan who blogs about The Happy Little Hawkins Family (which includes pictures and stories of my favorite grandson!)

Can you tell I enjoy reading blogs and have been inspired by them? All of these blogs are now listed in my blogroll in the sidebar if you would like to check them out sometime.

One of my readers contacted me last week to ask what I had done with my old stove when we replaced it last weekend. It was sitting in our garage at that point and here it is in its new home:

picture of Alice's stove

Do you have any stories to share how you have been inspired by reading blogs?

Becka


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The mail order chicks


Our friend Dallas started a new project this spring when he built a little hen house out behind his home. He added a lot of nice decorative touches. It has electricity and running water and he has begun fencing in the yard on both sides of the house. Here's a picture:

picture of Henhouse

Last Friday his mail order chicks arrived. He invited us out earlier this week to see them. They had already grown and some were even trying to fly a little bit the evening we visited. He has quite a variety of chicks and it will be interesting to see how they change and develop as they grow.

picture of Babychicks

The company that shipped them included one "exotic" chick which will look like this when it is fully grown:

picture of Wildchicken

My only experience with chickens occurred when my sister and I were teenagers. My dad was given a live chicken that had been someone's Easter chick. It had grown rather mean and the family no longer wanted it. My dad butchered it and had us scald and pluck it. He said "No woman is educated who doesn't know how to pluck a chicken." Can you tell he grew up on a farm?

Do any of you dear readers have any interesting chicken stories to share?

Becka


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