Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Taste and Create - Spice Cake

For Taste and Create this month, an event that is the brain child of Nicole from For the Love of Food, I was paired up with Shortcut to Mushrooms, a vegetarian blogger from Iowa City. Her blog is filled with vegetarian recipes that all look delicious. As my kids were begging me for some kind of dessert, I decided to look for a sugary treat on Shortcut to Mushrooms. What I found was a spice cake that was right up my alley. My kids both really like pumpkin desserts, and this cake had many of the spices that are included in pumpkin pie.

I love to bake for my kids – they really like to watch me cook and help out as well. They were right there as the cake was pulled out of the oven, and they waited impatiently while the cake cooled. When I poured the cake into the cake pan, I thought to myself that I should have put parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, and I was right. Even though I greased and floured the pan, the cake still stuck in some spots. As Judith said in her post, either don’t flour the pan or let it cool longer. I think I will try parchment paper the next time. The kids didn’t mind, though; they just ate the cake that stuck to the bottom of the pan. I garnished the cake with powdered sugar; it added a touch of sweetness, which paired well with the spice of the ginger and nutmeg.

The flavor of the cake was very good, although it did seem a little dry to me. I don’t know if I cooked it too long or if there isn’t enough liquid in the recipe. It only calls for 1 cup of milk and 3 eggs. There is also a cup of butter that is combined with the rest of the dry ingredients. I will make this again – the kids often dictate my dessert choices. This cake would be great with whipped cream or ice cream. The flavor is terrific.

They are much more interested in desserts than me. I – if you don’t know – just love, love, love pasta, but I do enjoy a good dessert and this does fit the bill. As I have said before, Taste and Create makes me step out of my box and make foods I wouldn’t normally prepare.

Spice Cake – From Allrecipes.com

2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened until easily spreadable
2 cups dark brown sugar
DIRECTIONS
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a metal or disposable foil 9-by-13-inch pan. Whisk dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.
Beat softened butter into dry ingredients, first on low, then medium, until mixture forms pebble-sized pieces. Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat on low until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat on medium speed until batter is just smooth. Add the sugar; beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into cake pan.
Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan perimeter and turn cake onto rack. Let cool.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Presto Pasta Night and Cooking Without Shopping

This is my entry for Presto Pasta Night. It is also the first of my meals cooked with only ingredients I have on hand. This week’s Presto Pasta is being hosted by the Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine. Head on over there Friday and take a look!

On another vein, while surfing the net the other day, I found a blog post on eGullet about cooking without shopping for one week. I had alluded to this in a few posts this past summer when I would just try to cook something new and different without going to the store. This is a little different, though; this time, I am going to try and go for one week. I will, however, go to the store to buy cereal for the boys and some fresh fruit for them.

Other than that though, I am going to use only what is in the fridge and pantry – oh, and the freezer too. I started tonight, making a pasta dish with leftovers from the fridge. I had steak and shrimp from grilling earlier this week, and some smoked salmon. I added it to some pasta and voila – a great meal. The sauce, made with white wine and butter was very light, allowing the flavors of the steak and seafood to come out be the star of the dish. I think if I make this again I might add some lemon for an added oomph to the pasta.

Surf and Turf Pasta

4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
½ stick butter
4 sprigs thyme – leaves pulled off stems
2 small rib-eye steaks – leftover hopefully
1 small smoked salmon filet
¾ - 1 lb cooked shrimp see recipe
1 ½ cup white wine
1 lb pasta of choice
1 cup pasta water – if needed
¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté garlic in olive oil and butter with red pepper flakes – use more pepper flakes if you want more heat in the pasta. Add thyme to the garlic and pepper along with the meat and seafood. Cook until meat is warmed through. Deglaze pan with white wine and let reduce. While sauce is cooking, cook pasta according to directions. Add pasta to sauce adding pasta water if sauce is too thick for your taste. Combine pasta and sauce adding parmesan cheese and parsley at the end. Serve immediately.

I really enjoy these different blogging events. Not only are they fun and entertaining for my family, but they also help me to think outside the box. This Presto Pasta entry is in large part due to the blog I read about utilizing ingredients that are already in your house. Follow along as I try to create new and interesting meals with what I already have on hand.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Good Day

Today started out a good day. I checked my blog this morning to find out that I had won a contest hosted by Jenny at Picky Palate! I am excited to be getting a Yoplait prize pack. The kids love yogurt. Thanks Jenny!!!

I also spent the day with my kids and husband as we all had the day off. We picked up our side of beef and went to the grocery store; not a very exciting day, but sometimes those are the best. We also got a ton of stuff together for Hubby to take to Goodwill tomorrow. I will be glad when the basement is all cleaned out. That will probably never happen.

For dinner tonight we grilled steak and shrimp – always in my freezer, and I made Ina’s Linguini with Shrimp Scampi. I didn’t make the dish exactly as the recipe I marinated the shrimp with salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs de Provence. I also added Parmesan cheese at the end. I know you aren’t supposed to add cheese to seafood pasta dishes, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Ina's recipe calls for both lemon zest and lemon juice. It makes the dish. The lemon is fantastic. While it is one of the easiest pasta dishes I make, it is also one of the most flavorful. I reccommend it to anyone who loves pasta and seafood.

I also made salad, and this is where my day took a turn – I cooked bacon in the oven…….and as I pulled it out, some of the grease spilled onto my toe and it really, really, really hurt. I of course wasn’t wearing any shoes; I was cooking in my socks. I have burned my fingers before, but never my toes. There is a first time for everything. I am feeling much better now, but I have to say that it wasn’t the best part of my day.

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday as much as our family did. Always remember, family is the most important.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend Cooking and the Pinewood Derby

What a busy weekend. Not only did I work the basketball game at my school this weekend, my oldest son entered a car in the Pinewood Derby. It was our first time – he had a great time. His car was doing very well until they changed the track a bit, and then it just couldn’t beat that many cars. He came in third……….out of four. His best friend came in first; it was a good day for both boys.

Saturday night it was nice out – we decided to grill some food. Since we have a side of beef coming, we have been trying to clean out the freezer. We grilled backbone, pork steaks, and shrimp. I also took some stew beef and made beef and noodles. For a finale I decided to make Cold Tuna Salad. My oldest loves that. We had such a feast. To go with all that, I cut up apples for the boys, and made spinach for myself. Hubby just ate the meat – his kind of meal.

For the pork steak, we grilled with salt and pepper and slow cooked with BBQ sauce until pork fell off the bone.

Beef and Noodles

3 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs stew meat
Salt and pepper
1 leek diced
5 cloves garlic – minced
1 lb mushrooms sliced
1 cup red wine
1 quart beef stock
2 tbsp Steak seasoning
1 lb pasta your choice
Chopped parsley
1 stick butter
8 tbsp flour

Brown meat in large sauce pan with olive oil. Meat should be seasoned with salt and pepper. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Sauté leeks and garlic until softened. Add mushrooms – season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushroom have softened. Deglaze pan with red wine.
Add meat back to pan with beef stock and steak seasoning.

Bring to slow boil and put in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. While meat mixture is roasting, make a roux with the flour and butter. Melt butter in a small sauté pan and slowly add flour mixture to butter. Cook until flour has cooked into butter. Set aside.

Remove roasted meat from oven, slowly add roux and combine. Let meat rest at a low simmer while pasta cooks. Drain pasta and add to meat mixture. Add parsley and mix. Serve immediately.

Grilled Shrimp

1 lb shrimp
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp herbs de Provence
1 ½ tbsp fresh parsley

Clean shrimp – leave tails. Put in bowl and combine all other ingredients. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Grill until shrimp is just done. Serve immediately.

Family is very important to me. I don’t have too much around, so being with my family is very important. I love cooking for them – it is one way I show my love for them.

The Beef and Noodles is my entry for the 100th Presto Pasta Night. It is a great event hosted, this week, by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. I love this event as pasta is one of my favorite food groups. Go to Once Upon a Feast and check out all the entries. they are sure to be great!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Days

Ok – the other day we had two, count them two snow days. The boys got to go sledding with the neighbors – they got soaked. The first day, we didn’t do too much – Hubby was home, so we just hung out as a family and bonded. Wednesday, however, was a different day altogether. While the boys played in the morning, I tried out my new crock pot – this would be number four; I think.

That is really sad. I have had four crock pots since I have been married, and I have only been married 10 years. Anyway, I wanted to try out the new one since we were having a Super Bowl party and making Italian Beef. I had to send a crock pot back a week ago because it took 14 hours to not completely cook a roast. I suppose had I left it in for a week or two, it might have been done for the party……nah, just easier to get a new one.

For my test run, I decided to cook some ribs I had in the freezer – I added some rub and BBQ sauce, and then just let the ribs and sauce do their thing. While they were a bit fatty, the taste was good and I knew that I could rely on my new crock pot. Yay!!!!!!!!!

After the ribs started cooking and the kitchen was cleaned, we started making cookies! Since we didn’t make cookies during the holidays, we decided that the snow day was the perfect day for cookie making. My kids love to decorate cookies, so we made my mother in law’s sugar cookies. They are a no fail recipe that everyone loves. I don’t have many cookie cutters that aren’t plastic, so we only made a few shapes. We made gingerbread men, snowflakes, and a maple leaf that I bought while I was in Canada.

I put the cookies on a sheet tray for the boys to decorate. They sat on their seats at the bar, and decorated cookies. I was a little smarter this time; I put the sprinkles and such in my little glass bowls and let them take what they needed. It was so not messy! The last time, there were so many decorations floating around on the counter, floors, walls, kids, you name it that I decided I wasn’t going to let them decorate again until they were around 20 years old. This worked out so well and they had a great time.

Mother Deaver’s Sugar Cookies – from my mother-in-law

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 eggs
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar and butter, add eggs one at a time, beat well. Add flour, baking soda, and vanilla. Roll out dough about ¼ inch thick on floured surface. Cut with desired cookie cutters.

Place cookies on ungreased or lightly greased cookie sheet, allowing room for cookies to spread slightly. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven 5-7 minutes. Tops will not brown, but will be white and will appear set; the bottoms and edges will brown slightly. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Makes 5-7 dozen small cookies

After I got finished cleaning up, my neighbor called to ask if the boys wanted to go sledding. He had a sled hooked up to the four wheeler. The boys got bundled up and headed out into the winter snow. The little one was the first to freeze up and want to go home. After falling off the sled and into the snow a few times, he was soaking wet and very cold. We stood by the heater in the garage waiting for the older one to go on the sled a few more times. After he fell off a couple of times he decided he had had enough too. So I took my wet ones home to change, then it was off to dinner with a friend and her kids at a local restaurant in town.

The restaurant is actually a bar and restaurant that is kid friendly. They serve food that kids will eat and it is small enough that if the kids move around the restaurant, it is easy to find them. It also helps that there are usually people in there that you know. Our entire day was fun and full of activity – I was very tired and ready to go back to work so that I could relax.