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Chocolate Mayo Cake

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Shortening
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/3 cups hot water

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together flour and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Grease (with shortening) and flour a 13- x 9-inch pan.2. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla at medium-high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer about 3 minutes or until mixture is very light brown and ribbons form when beater is lifted. Add mayonnaise, and beat at low speed until combined.3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with hot water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan.4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).

Let Us Eat Cake

Usually at this time of year, I am dreaming of pie. With Thanksgiving looming large, pumpkin pie is constantly on my mind. My piecrust gives me major anxiety and is never as flaky as Steve’s mother’s crust. But today I woke up with chocolate cake on my mind. Steve’s birthday is today and I had been planning a special dessert for him. If brownies filled my mind throughout the summer months, chocolate cake was my winter friend. I was determined to make a dark cake that would bring a smile to Steve’s face. He wasn’t big on frosting, so the top would need a light layer of chocolate icing.

After Steve’s birthday dinner, the children gave him cards they made for him while I lit the candles. I turned off the dining room light and brought the cake to the table. The kids sang, laughed at Steve as his paused too long to make his wish and then hugged him after he blew the candles out. It was a sweet moment as they stood by his side. Daisy, now getting taller and more little-girl-like and Junior, as tall as his dad when seated, clapped with joy. Times like these are what I hope I remember in my old age. I tried hard to take a picture for my memory. And then we ate cake. It can’t get any better!

Bourbon Apple Pie Recipe

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs. apples
1 cup sugar
1 tblsp. sugar
3 tblsp. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
6 tblsp. butter
1/2 cup Bourbon
2 (9 inch) pie crusts
1 orange, zest of large orange
1 egg

DIRECTIONS
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and core the apples. In a large bowl mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and apples. Toss to coat evenly.
2.In a wok or large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add apple mixture. Cook until apples start to soften and brown slightly, about 7-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add bourbon (you can use brandy instead). Simmer down to a light syrup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange zest.
3.Put one pie crust into a 9″ deep pie dish. Add filling. Slice the second pie crust into 1/2″ strips. Lattice the top using the strips and using a basting brush coat lattice with egg wash (beaten egg plus 1 tablespoon of water). Sprinkle evenly with tablespoon of sugar.
4.Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 50 more minutes. Keep a cookie sheet on the oven rack below to catch any spillage from the pie.

Mood Management

The winter doldrums had officially set in. The skies were cloudy and moods were on the edge of gloomy. Winter had not yet left us and Spring wasn’t yet in sight. I loved this kind of day.

Steve was at his desk, paying bills. Depending on the amount of the heating bill, he would come out and turn down the thermostat 2 or 3 degrees. This would be followed by directions for all of us to wear sweaters if necessary.

Stevie Junior was working at the kitchenette on a new model airplane. The stickers were small and sticky with the glue and from time to time, I heard a sigh followed by a declaration that he “couldn’t do this” which I ignored as he continued to work.

Daisy was standing on a stool next to me helping me bake cookies. The oven was already preheated and even when the thermostat would be lowered, we would still be warm. Daisy was placing small spoonfuls of dough on the sheet pans. There was really nothing better than freshly baked cookies. When I realized that this was bill paying day, I decided to bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They were foolproof and a favorite of Steve’s. Daisy was stealing raisins from the batter and I pretended not to notice.

I realized that my silent manipulation skill was in use. Stevie wasn’t really incapable of putting together his model; he had completed dozens before this one. In fact, I would say that he was becoming an expert. And the planes were a great conversation starter for big Steve and little Stevie.

Daisy was just testing the water and indulging her need to get away with something, an important part of her development. There were still lots of raisins in the batter. Not being scolded for every wrong turn helps her to learn when to break the rules.

And Steve just needed to be reminded that his role as a provider was super important and that he had some control over how the money he earned was spent.

Right on cue, Steve came out of the den and lowered the thermostat. He came into the kitchen and made his declaration about our use of sweaters. He also grabbed a freshly baked cookie. I poured a glass of milk and handed it to him with a kiss. He complimented Daisy on her delicious cookies and sat down with Stevie Junior to admire his most recent creation. Steve was happy to explain the flags and props to Stevie, who was happy to have the attention from his dad.

The days may be gloomy outside, but inside our home it is warm and wonderful. It just takes a little help from me to keep it that way.

Dark Hot Chocolate

4 cups whole milk

2 cup heavy cream

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Warm milk and cream over medium low heat in saucepan. Add chocolate and whisk until incorporated.  Add sugar and whisk until incorporated.  Continue to stir for five minutes and whisk in nutmeg.  Enjoy with whipped cream on top!

Chocolate Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup and 1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl.  Combine milk and melted butter.  Add oil to milk and butter and whisk in eggs and vanilla extract.

Thoroughly grease and flour a muffin pan.

Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix lightly.  With a spatula, gently fold in 1 cup of chips.  Do not overmix.  Spoon mixture into muffin pan.  Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup of chips onto tops of muffins.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan gently and let cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Orange Soda Pop Cake

1/4 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

5 large eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup orange soda

1 tsp. orange liquor

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In mixer, cream together butter, oil and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after the addition of each egg.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Sift flour and salt together.  Alternately add the orange soda and the flour to the creamed mixture.  Stir in flavorings.  Grease 10 inch tube pan.  Pour batter into tube pan.  Bake at 325 degrees.  Cool slightly and frost.

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1 tsp. orange liquor

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup confectioners sugar

zest of orange

Combine all ingredients except zest and beat well.  Spread on slightly warm cake.  Sprinkle zest on top.

 

 

Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes and Buttered Maple Bourbon Syrup

CORNMEAL BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Stir flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter together in a second bowl.  Add buttermilk mixture to dry mix and whisk until well blended.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly coat griddle with oil and heat.  Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle for each pancake.  Cook until bottoms are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn pancakes and cook until second side is golden.  Repeat with batter.  Add oil as necessary.  Keep warm in oven until served.

 

BUTTERED MAPLE BOURBON SYRUP

1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup

1/4 cup softened butter

1 tablespoon bourbon (1/2 teaspoon of bourbon extract can be substituted)

Bring maple syrup and softened butter to a boil over medium heat.  Stir in bourbon.  Serve warm over pancakes.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup cocoa

1 cup cold coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

CHOCOLATE ICING

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup half-n-half

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl.  Bring cocoa, coffee and oil to a boil in a small pan.  Pour coffee mixture over flour and mix for one minute.  Scrape bowl.  Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and add to bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix together for about two minutes or until well combined.  Pour batter into greased sheet cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

 

CHOCOLATE ICING:

Bring cocoa, butter and half-n-half to a low boil in a pan.  Remove from heat and beat in sugar.  Frost cake while it is still warm.

 

 

 

Best Banana Bread

4 extra ripe bananas, smashed

5 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 beaten large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place smashed bananas into a large bowl.  With a large wooden spoon, mix melted butter into bananas.  Add sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Mix together.  Sift together: baking soda, salt, and flour.  Add to mixture and stir.  Butter a small loaf pan.  Pour banana mixture into prepared pan and bake for  60 minutes.

 

Allow pan to cool on its side for 5 minutes.  Gently tap out bread and cool completely (if you can!)