Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lemon Cream Cake: A Cooking Bird Original

Number 12 on my 30 Before 30 list is to bake a cake from scratch. Well, I shocked even myself by not only baking a cake from scratch, but by creating the recipe myself! Also, it was delicious!

I know. I just passed out, too.

This Lemon Cream Cake is super easy and is the result of many hours of research learning what ingredients are necessary to make a cake, well, a cake.

If you make this, please let me know what you think.


For Lemon Cream Cake
  • 6 oz cream cheese (funny story: that's all I had left of an 8 oz block, so 6 ounces it was!)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, a.k.a. 1 1/2 sticks (you don't want to know how much I had to research to find out that unsalted butter is what is typically used in recipes. I am a baking idiot.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (though I may have "accidentally" tipped a little more in)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (this means you sift the flour into your measuring cups - I know, I didn't know there was a difference between "sifted flour" and "flour, sifted" either)
  • Zest from two large lemons
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter flavored cooking spray + a little all-purpose flour

  • Optional blueberry topping (delicious, but unnecessary)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar (yep, it's a lot!)
  • splash of vanilla
  • lemon zest to taste (I did about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 T water

  • Instructions
    Preheat oven to 375º F. Start the blueberry topping (if you want to use the topping). In a small bowl, coat the blueberries with the vanilla, lemon zest, cornstarch, and sugar. Put this aside so the berries can soak up the flavors.

    Sample one or two while you are making the cake mix. For quality control purposes, of course.

    Create the cake mix: in a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar using a hand mixer, unless you are super strong and want to do it by hand (the mixture should be very smooth). Then beat in the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth - make sure there are no random ingredients hanging onto the inside of the bowl by continually scraping down the sides of the bowl.

    Then using a spatula, gently mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until it is just combined, but not too lumpy. (I wish I had a photo!) Spray a 9" round metallic cake pan lightly with butter flavored cooking spray. Throw some flour on top of the cooking spray, but flip the pan over (do this over a trash can or sink!) and tap the bottom firmly to remove the excess flour. This spray+flour combo will stop the cake from sticking (I'm sure you already knew this).

    Apparently cake mix is delicate, and it needs to be placed in the oven as soon as you finish mixing it. So, place the cake pan on the middle rack (important for even baking) of your oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Mine took exactly 33 minutes.

    While the cake is baking, place the blueberry mixture + 2 Tablespoons of water in a small saucepan on super low heat to make the mixture syrupy without breaking down the blueberries too much. Just keep an eye on it.

    Once the cake is done, place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes and turn off the blueberry syrup mixture. Then carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool it on the wire rack.

    Cut yourself a generous piece and spoon the blueberry topping on the cake (or not!) and enjoy.

    I LOVED this cake. It was like a mix between a crumble cake and a cream cake with a super buttery exterior. Not sure what that really makes it, but I will be baking this again!


    Friday, July 2, 2010

    The Pioneer Woman's Fresh Corn Casserole

    Last night, we hosted Amy and Allan at our house. This entailed moving a ton of still-boxed-up wedding presents into one of our guests rooms (I am slowly managing to box up all of the old stuff and replace it with the new stuff; it is actually a daunting task, but a lovely one to have), vacuuming, dusting, and cooking. Cam helped with the cooking. I appreciate this as he was working all day and he took time to slice, dice, bash, mix and grill.


    On the menu last night was Tequila Lime Chicken (Cam), Fresh Corn Casserole (Me), Pico de Gallo and Guacamole with Tostitos with a hint of lime (Cam, because I can't chop onions or I cry. A lot.), fresh peach cobbler (Me), and mango margaritas (Cam).

    This post is about the corn casserole, but the entire meal was fantastic, and I want to give props to my hubby for all his hard work. I will post about the peach cobbler next.

    Gratuitous shot of my hubby chopping away. And yes, I realize this has nothing do with the corn casserole.

    The Fresh Corn Casserole is sweet with just the right amount of texture from the firm corn kernels and creamy sauce.

    (From The Pioneer Woman website with my modifications in parantheses)

    8 ears of corn still on the husk (I used 6)
    2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream (even with 6 ears of corn, I still used 2/3 cup - wee!)
    3 Tablespoons salted butter (even with 6 ears of corn, I still used 3 tablespoons of butter - wee, again!)
    1/2 teaspoon salt to taste (I threw in a large pinch - the butter is salted so be careful)
    Fresh ground pepper, to taste (I used LOTS)

    Preheat oven to 350º F. Husk the corn and then slice the corn from the cob. Use a large, deep bowl as corn bits and corn milk will fly everywhere! I used the back of a dinner knife to press and scrape the cob to remove all the bits of kernel and creamy milk inside - use A LOT of pressure and I found that it is best to run it up and down the cob to get all of the meaty and milky goodness out.

    This is what the corn should look like after you cut and scrap it off the cob. See all that delicious creamy, milky goodness mixed in with the firm kernels.

    Add the heavy whipping cream, salt to taste, a generous amount of ground pepper and butter. Mix well and pour the mixture into an ungreased 8" x 8" baking dish.

    Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 45 minutes (I did 40 minutes and it was perfect) until thoroughly warmed through.

    Corn casserole hanging out with a piece of tequila lime chicken.

    Seriously delicious stuff and so easy to make.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Cocoa Ricotta Creme

    I recently lost some weight. A decent amount of weight actually - nearly 25 pounds. I did it using the South Beach Diet principles. I have found this lifestyle to be easy and delicious. While I have read that most people have a lot of trouble sticking to Phase 1 because of how strict it is, I found it very easy, especially knowing it was only supposed to last two weeks. Well, I did it for a month and a half and I didn't cheat once. Now, I eat pretty much what I want, but the thing is, I don't crave any of the processed foods that helped me pack on the pounds in the first place.

    Here is a favorite, super-duper easy dessert for Phase 1. And if I'm perfectly honest, I use it as a super light lunch - though I don't recommend eating it alone as there is little nutritional value, and you want to fuel your body, not just appease your sweet tooth). OK. Stepping down from my pulpit now.

    Also, there are no pictures because, truthfully, I was really hungry. :)

    - 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    - 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    - 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (we got ours on our honeymoon, but regular vanilla extract is fine)
    - 1 package sugar substitute (I used generic Sweet n' Low)
    - a dash of Chocolate sprinkles (optional)

    (i) Mix together the ricotta, cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar substitute and chocolate sprinkles in a dessert bowl - I just use a spoon, though I imagine a mixer would smooth out the texture of the ricotta. (ii) Serve chilled.

    I highly suggest using a dash of sprinkles (or even a few mini chocolate chips) because it adds a much-needed crunch to the some times odd texture of ricotta. Enjoy!

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    The world's best key lime pie

    Key lime pie is my absolute favorite dessert. And this was the EASIEST recipe to make. And honestly, not to toot my own horn, but it's the best key lime pie I've ever had.

  • 9-inch graham cracker pie crust (Deep-dish if you can find it or 10-inch pie crust)
  • Four eggs (you will just use the yolks)
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
  • 1 cup of key lime juice (you could probably use regular lime juice, but the key lime is what made the flavor for me! We found ours at the local Harry's Farmers Market)
  • Sour cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • One lime for zesting (optional)

    Old photo collage, but I used the same recipe.

    Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the condensed milk, key lime juice and egg yolks. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the pie shell. We had so much mixture left over the first time I made this that we put them in tiny bunt cakes (please see photo above). Bake for 30-35 minutes and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

  • Yay! A new photo!

    Once chilled, combine about a cup of sour cream to three+ tablespoons powdered sugar (do it to your taste) and use to dollop on the top. Some people spread the topping over the whole thing before serving, but I like to give people the option, though I personally love the sour cream/powdered sugar mixture. Cuts the tartness of the pie. Then freshly zest lime over the top of the sour cream as a garnish and serve chilled.

    And enjoyed best with friends.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Knorr Spinach Dip

    Knorr’s Spinach Dip is Cam and my go-to recipe for potluck events. It's really easy to make and absolutely delicious! (A photo is forthcoming; it's just on Cam's camera)

  • 1 package (10 oz.) baby spinach, chopped or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (we always use frozen)
  • 1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
  • 1 16 oz. container of sour cream (we use fat free)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 8 oz. can of water chestnuts, chopped (optional - we always use them!)
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional - we always use them!)

    Combine all ingredients and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with your favorite dippers. We use Wheat Thins (Kole got me hooked on them!).