Wednesday, March 30, 2011

~ Lemon Poppy Seed Bread or Cake ~

1 lemon or yellow cake mix
1 package (3 oz) instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons flour

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer for 1 minute on low speed, 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the sides & bottom of the bowl a few times. Bake @ 350 in 2 loaf pans or 1 Bundt pan 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  While cake is baking, mix together the glaze ingredients.

When cake is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then remove from loaf or bundt pan onto a serving plate.
Poke holes about 2" apart all the way around the cake with a cake tester or chop stick, pour warm glaze all over the top of the cake.

Lemon Glaze 
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 -3 T. fresh lemon juice

I'm joining Miz Helen, Michael Lee West and Alli for their weekly memes. You're missing out if you don't stop by and check out all the wonderful recipes! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

~ Ramblings ~

I've been MIA this past week...just seems like a lot going on and not enough time for everything! 

As you can see, here's a "spring" blog design that Jenn has been working on.  I've felt the need for lighter and brighter so hopefully, you will like this.  She's a doll to work with and has the patience of Job. If you're interested in something new, please drop her a line!

The people of Japan have been on my mind soooooo much ~ they are such a resilient group and are living on so little yet sharing with each other. I wonder how we, as U.S. citizens, would react in such dire circumstances.  Do you think we would all share and be kind to each other?

I'm still attempting to get this place the way I want it and to be comfortable. I feel that I still have too many "things" and in a way, it makes me feel frivolous.  Especially considering the comments above ~

We had 2 beautiful days without any wind and it was fantastic!!  I know, so many still have cold temps and snow but the wind has been horrific for anyone with allergies.  This is not counting the dust that blows around either.

IF you've made it this far, thank you!!  I realize it's not a DIY post, a recipe or something I've purchased....just a few thoughts that have been on my mind.  Hope you have a wonder*filled weekend! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

~ Praline Bundt Cake ~

This is another one of those Southern Living recipes from eons ago. So good it'll make you slap yo' mama, as Paula Deen says. :-)

1 cup chopped pecans  (toasted)
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Arrange 1 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

4. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

5. Prepare Praline Icing, and spoon immediately cake. Sprinkle top of cake with Sugared Pecans.

Praline Icing
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Use immediately.

Sugared Pecans

These sugared pecans are sweet enough to eat alone for dessert. Makes about 5 cups
1 egg white
4 cups pecan halves (about 1 lb.)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1. Whisk egg white until foamy; add pecans, and stir until evenly coated.
2. Stir together sugars; sprinkle over pecans. Stir gently until pecans are evenly coated. Spread pecans in a single layer in a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until pecans are toasted and dry, stirring once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

Note: Store pecans in a zip-top plastic freezer bag at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 weeks.

I'm joining in the following weekly memes ~ please be sure and stop by their wonderful blogs!  Tons of great recipes and you'll love them.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

~ A Message from Sendai ~

I am assuming that you are as eager for news of Japan as I am, and am therefore sharing with you what I've received today. It speaks to the miracles of this latest earth event. I hope we can each add our prayers and blessings for this country that is so in need. 

A letter from Sendai:

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It's utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
With Love in return, to you all,

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field. I will meet you there. Rumi

Truly amazing, right?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

~ Dulce de Leche Cupcakes ~

I have a good friend that is Hispanic and has just had a very difficult experience. I decided to try these cupcakes and see if they would make her feel better! Of course, chocolate is our normal "go to" for most situations isn't it?  Oh well, something different this time!  I found a recipe but it was pretty involved and I just didn't have that kind of time today so I improvised.  These are the ingredients I started with:

I followed the basic ingredients called for on the cake mix box, however, as I normally do, I used 1 cup buttermilk in place of the water. I also added 1/2 cup of the Dulce le Leche to the mixture. I used 1 regular muffin pan and another that is divided into squares. Baked them at 350 for 18 min.

The frosting was new to me so I thought I'd try a mix for the Buttercream. Actually, it tastes very good. However, next time I will buy 2 was really not enough and a few cupcakes were not frosted. I tried to frost them sparingly but still ran out. Oh well....  I then heated the balance of the Dulce le Leche mixture in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring well each time. I think it was 1 minute total.  I then poured it into one of those plastic bottle thingys and drizzled some over each cupcake. They are totally not professional looking but you know what?  I think my friend will love them and that's all that counts ~ after all, they're made with LOVE.  :-)

Oh yes, in case you're not familiar with Dulce le Leche, it is very similar to caramel. It’s sweetened condensed milk that has been cooked down until the sugars have darkened to a rich caramel. It’s sweet and thick and fat free ~ yeah, right!
Some people make their own Dulce de Leche by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk…. literally, in the can. While many have had success with this technique, I’m convinced that I would end up with the can(s) exploding and showering my entire abode with caramel. I read somewhere that one lady places several cans in her crock pot covering them with water and cooks them on Low all night. I would never sleep!  :-)  It's so simple to just pick up a can in the Hispanic area of your local grocery store and the cost is a bit less than 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.

I’m joining  Miz Helen,  Michael Lee West and Alli for their weekly memes.  Let me just tell you ~ once again! ~ that you will find some of the best recipes ever on their blogs!  Please stop by.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

~ Mocha Pecan Mud Pie ~

I've been in an ice cream state of mind lately. This is from Southern Living a long time ago but I've made it a jillion times!  You can try all types of flavors of ice cream & toppings if you like.
This dessert is so rich, your guests will never know it was lightened.
Serves 8-9 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Vegetable cooking spray
1 teaspoon sugar

1 pint light coffee ice cream, softened
1 pint light chocolate ice cream, softened
1 cup coarsely chopped reduced-fat cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, divided (about 10 cookies)
1 (6-ounce) ready-made chocolate crumb piecrust
2 tablespoons light chocolate syrup

Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with sugar. (I don't use the sugar...just toast the pecans as usual.) Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool.

Stir together ice cream, 3/4 cup cookie chunks, and 1/3 cup pecans; spoon into piecrust. Freeze 10 minutes. Press remaining cookie chunks and pecans evenly on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze 8 hours. Great to make in advance! Drizzle individual slices evenly with chocolate syrup when serving. Of course,  you can add whipped cream and chocolate shavings too! :-) I used Keebler Chocolate Ready Crust, Häagen-Dazs Light Coffee Ice Cream, and Häagen-Dazs Light Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  LOVE coffee ice cream!

I'm joining Miz Helen, Alli and Michael Lee West for their weekly memes. By all means, stop by each of their blogs...I promise you'll find some of the best recipes ever!