Honey Bran Muffins



I picked up the fall special issue of a Betty Crocker Baking magazine at the end of September or beginning of October solely because it had Bakerella's work on the front cover and a special Bakerella section.  I'm a sucker for her cute creations!  It's now no longer in the impulse buy section of your grocery store, but fortunately you can see a lot on bakerella.com and bettycrocker.com. 

Also in this same baking issue was a recipe for honey bran muffins.  I decided to make these one morning, sort of on a whim.  I wanted a muffin that would come together quickly and easily, and be healthy.  Ding, ding, ding we have a winner!  The honey and bran taste great together, and this recipe makes six muffins, which are a perfect amount for the two of us in my house. 

I would recommend eating all these the same day or freezing any you don't eat.  They're great the first day but not so awesome after that.  My one side note to that is I didn't try reheating or anything; that might revive them. 

There's not a lot else for me to say, so I'll just post the recipe and its link onto the Betty Crocker site and tell you to make these the next time you want a bran muffin.  I didn't embelish at all, but I would bet you could put in dried fruit for a little something extra. 

Honey Bran Muffins
from Betty Crocker

1/4 cup wheat bran

3 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar, if desired
Heat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 6 regular-size muffin cups; spray baking cups with cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix wheat bran and boiling water. In medium bowl, beat milk, honey, oil and egg with spoon until well mixed. Stir in bran mixture, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt just until flour is moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and tops spring back when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from pan to cooling rack.

Update to recipe:
I tried using oat bran on 1/21/13 and they came out equally delicious!  The notes with the recipe talk about subbing either oat bran or wheat germ. 




I first heard about gougères in April of 2009, when I read Molly Wizenberg's article on gougères in that month's issue of Bon Appetit.  A gougère is like a cream puff, but it has no cream.  Also, cheese is incorporated into the dough.  I love cheese, and to incorporate it into a light, savory pastry dough sounded marvelous.  I finally got around to making them a week ago, and they are nothing short of my expectations.

My gougères are ugly.  If you do a Google image search of gougères or if you look up the article on bonappetit.com, you'll likely see puffy, light, miniature edible clouds.  Mine fell somewhat short in the appearance department, but were absolutely addictive, taste-wise.  I made these for a trip to the mountains with some girl friends, and I think we had eaten all but about three before the day was done.  After reading another article by Dorie Greenspan from this month's Bon Appetit, I was excited to make them and felt somewhat confident that they'd turn out perfectly.

A little background:  gougères are made from choux paste (pronounced like shoe, if I understand correctly), which is French for cabbage.  The name is derived from the shape that the dough resembles when baked.  Choux paste can be used to make cream puffs, gougères, eclairs, and other assorted pastries.  Rather than a chemical rising agent like yeast, baking soda, or baking powder, choux paste relies on steam for its oven lift.  Martha Stewart, in her Cooking School book, claims that the choux paste is fairly easy to make, and once you master it, you'll feel very accomplished.  Gougères are traditionally made with gruyère cheese.


I had initially intended to use gruyère cheese, but its cost, even at Wal-Mart, was higher than I wanted for a first time experiment.  Dorie's article, which is an excerpt from her new cookbook, gave me the idea of playing around with the cheese.  I chose one of my favorites, smoked gouda.  So, use whatever semi firm cheese you want.  I am posting the recipe as it was written in the magazine, but will post my changes in the notes section.

Classic Gougères
from Molly Wizenberg, via Bon Appetit

1 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 large eggs, chilled
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring 1 cup water, butter, and salt to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter melts. Add flour; stir rapidly with wooden spoon until flour absorbs liquid and forms ball, pulling away from sides of pan. Stir vigorously until film forms on bottom of pan and dough is no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat; cool dough 2 to 3 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in cheese and pepper.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Using damp fingertip, press down any peaks of dough.

Bake gougères until golden brown, about 30 minutes, reversing position of pans halfway through baking. Using small sharp knife, pry open 1 gougère to check for doneness (center should be slightly eggy and moist). Serve hot or warm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Transfer to racks; cool. Rewarm in 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • As I said earlier, I used smoked gouda cheese. 
  • Due to the saltiness of the cheese, I would next time decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp or less or cut it out altogether. 
  • I think I didn't get a good, pretty shape because I didn't beat the dough long enough between egg incorporation.  Next time I will use the whisk attachment on my mixer and beat longer than I did to achieve a stiffer dough.  Mine was slack. 
  • These are probably best served warm, as the recipe suggests, but we ate them cold and they were still delicious, so don't be afraid of eating them cold. 

Chili with Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits


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I'm giving you a break from all the sweetness of the wedding cakes to tell you about my dinner last night.  A few weeks ago the Smitten Kitchen  posted this recipe from an old issue of Gourmet.  I happened to have some leftover ground beef from where I made homemade pizza, and gave Drew a multiple choice question on what he wanted me to do with it.  From the several options I rattled off, he chose chili, and I knew the one Smitten Kitchen posted was what I wanted to try.  I don't actually have my own chili recipe yet, and I loved the idea of the biscuits with chili!  It's a little different, and the fact that all the normal toppings for chili are in the biscuit itself is a fun idea.

So, I made the chili and biscuits last night and we ate them, and it was a pretty big success.  The biscuits were, in fact, the first successful biscuits I've made yet.  I tweaked the chili from its original recipe to suit our own tastes more, and came up with a very-close-to-my-ideal recipe.  Just a little more tweaking and I am there. 

I actually made the chili on Tuesday night because chili is one of those dishes that get better the longer you allow the flavors to blend.  On Tuesday we determined that it was a little too meaty for us, or rather, that the meat to bean ratio was too high.  So, I soaked some kidney beans overnight and cooked them in the morning before we went to work to add to the chili that afternoon.  I also added some canned tomatoes because we thought that was missing, too.  After readjusting the seasoning, this is pretty good chili.

Below I will be posting the chili as I made it/will make it again.  If you want to see the original recipe, you can click here

1- 1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic (about 1 Tb), minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tb. cumin
2 Tb. paprika
1 Tb. crumbled dried oregano
Dash red pepper flakes (or more or less, depending on your tastes)
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 Tb. cider vinegar
6 cans kidney beans (or 1 lb dried beans, soaked and cooked), drained and rinsed
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cans total diced or stewed tomatoes, 1 can drained of its juice

In a large (6 qt. or larger) pot over medium-low heat, pour in the oil and add the onions, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir, cooking one more minute.  Add the beef and cook it, breaking up clumps.  Once the beef is browned, drain any fat and return the pot to the burner.  Add the spices and cook for about another minute.  Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, beef broth, and vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.  Remove the cover, add the beans and the bell peppers and simmer, uncovered, until the peppers are tender. 

Serve with the biscuits and enjoy!

Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar, grated coarse (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tb. pickled jalapeño slices, minced
1 cup sour cream

Into a bowl stir together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt; add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cheddar and the chiles, add the sour cream, and stir the mixture until it just forms a soft but not sticky dough. Knead the dough gently 6 times on a lightly floured surface, roll or pat it out 1/2 inch thick, and with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter cut out about 9 rounds. Bake the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they are golden.

  • My biscuit dough was very sticky.  I never really figured out why that would be, but I coated it in flour so that sticking would be minimal on my counter.  They still turned out great.  Again, sorry for not having pictures of the biscuit process- it's impossible to take photos while your hands are coated in biscuit dough. 
  • I only tweaked about half the batch of chili, because after I made it Tuesday night, I immediately put about half into freezer containers and into the freezer for a later meal.  I estimated the bean amount pretty closely, but you might want to add some more tomatoes. 
  • I made the chili this first time with two thinly sliced carrots, as the original recipe indicated.  While  not bad, the carrots didn't add anything to the chili, so we won't include them next time.  That's why you see the carrot in the picture but not the recipe.
  • Has anyone used tomato paste in chili?  What do you think?  I was thinking maybe if I added it with the spices....

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake



This is the final post of the wedding cakes series, and it's probably my favorite of the cakes.  Thanks for sticking with me!  This same recipe will be featured in another post at another time (do you like how vague I am?) in its intended incarnation, but for now, it is here. 

When looking for a chocolate cake recipe for the wedding cake, I wanted something that would be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the cake tier on top and something that tastes very chocolatey.  I detest chocolate cakes that only have a hint of chocolate flavor.  What's the point? 

This particular recipe, also from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes is intensely chocolatey, moist, and a little more sturdy than the Southern Living recipe I posted earlier.  It's also able to be made without a mixer, and I was glad to give the Kitchen Aid a break. 

While in the wedding cake I used two nine inch square pans, I will be writing the recipe as is in the book.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
from Sky High

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch Process
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. neutral vegetable oil, such as canola
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and line with parchment three 8 inch round cake pans. 

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Whisk to combine them well.  Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend.  Gradually beat in the water.  Blend in the vinegar and vanilla.  Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed.  Divide the batter among the three cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 20 minutes.  Invert onto wire racks, peel off parchment paper, and let cool completely. 

  • Don't be worried- the cake batter will be very runny.  I am finding that I like the cakes produced by runny batters rather than fluffy, viscous batters.
  • A great cake tester is a dry spaghetti noodle. 
  • That slice is from the "another post at another time" incarnation of this cake.  Boy are you in for a treat when I post that!  Just hark back to the original wedding cake photos to see the finish.

Wedding Cakes' Recipes Resumed: Vanilla Cake



I apologize for not having posted in a week!  It's been hectic, and if you will, please pray for Zach Sisk and the Sisk family.  I wouldn't usually request that on a food blog, but I feel that the more people who are praying the better for the whole situation. 

So, on to the cake.  My apologies for only having one picture!  I was very bad about photographically documenting the wedding cake tiers.  The top tier of the square wedding cake was a white cake, and the bride and groom wanted a vanilla flavor to it.  You can of course find a plethora of white cake recipes in cook books and online, but all of the ones I've tried have been a little...lackluster.  There usually isn't a lot of flavor, and they can tend to the dry side of things.

I turned to a great cake book, Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne.  This was the first cake book I purchased, and almost solely on the accolades given by Deb of Smitten Kitchen.  I haven't been disappointed.  For the vanilla cake tier, I used the recipe for Vanilla Bean Cake With White Chocolate Buttercream, found on pages 82-83.  I didn't make the white chocolate buttercream for this particular cake, so I can't tell you about that.  What I can tell you about is this cake.  It is fluffy but dense, moist, and the vanilla flavor is very pronounced due to the use of vanilla extract and vanilla bean.  It's no ordinary white cake.  It is officially a vanilla cake. 

Below are the original instructions to make one triple layer, 8 inch round cake.  I actually made 2 square six inch layers and a dozen cupcakes. 

Vanilla Bean Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 sticks plus 2 Tb. (9 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 c. milk
5 egg whites
1 Tb. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment. 

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, blend well.  With the tip of a small knife, scrape the tiny seeds from inside the vanilla bean into the bowl; discard the bean pod or reserve for another use.  Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk and mix to blend.  Raise the mixer to medium speed and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/3 c. milk.  Add this to the batter in 2 to 3 additions, scraping down the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate.  Divide the batter among the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes; then invert onto wire racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely, about 1 hour. 

Cook's Notes
  • I think I used cake flour here, but due to my aversion to cake flour I would just as readily use White Lily All Purpose, taking out 2 Tb. flour from each cup I used. 
  • The "other use" for which you can reserve the vanilla bean is limited only by your imagination and desire to think something up.  One popular thing people do with it is to stick it into some sugar.  The pod will perfume and flavor the sugar. 
  • What to do with all those leftover egg yolks?  While I didn't do anything to mine in time enough, you could use it to make lemon curd, hollandaise sauce, or zabaglione.  One day those will be posted on here.  Hold me to that. 

White Chocolate Cake



White Chocolate cake served as half of the four tier wedding cake, comprising the base tier and second tier from the top. 

While this cake doesn't taste like biting into white chocolate, the cocoa butter from the white chocolate gives a rich moisture to the cake, which has a fairly open texture with the richness of pound cake.  One thing that I like about this cake is its high fat content that causes it to retain moisture.  It's not moist like a cake that has been doused with sugar water or milk.  It's a cake that doesn't easily dry out, and I like that.  I mean, really, who doesn't like that?  How many times have you been excited over a slice of cake that looks lush and delicious, only to be disappointed because the moisture comes only from the icing?  It's also a sturdy cake that can take most any icing you want to put on it. 

I first discovered the white chocolate cake when planning my own wedding and trying to find my perfect cake flavor.  I think I went with white and lemon in my cake, but I tried the white chocolate recipe out and have used it in a ton of cakes since. 

You start by melting white chocolate with water and then letting them cool. 

You cream butter and sugar together, add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, and then incorporate the white cholocate, and voila!  You have the batter that will lead to this delicious cake. 

I hope that if you bake it you will let me know in the comments section what you think!

White Chocolate Cake
from allrecipes.com, submitted by VanDerStad

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the 2 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In small saucepan, melt 6 ounces white chocolate and hot water over low heat. Stir until smooth, and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk. Mix in melted white chocolate and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Pour batter into two 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Just one today- I have never made this cake in the specified pan sizes; I have always used other pan sizes, like 6", 8", 10", and 12" round.  One thing I like about this recipe is that even if I overbake a bit it still tastes great and is moist!

Red Velvet Cake



 Red velvet cake served as the base tier in the square cake and as the top and third tiers in the round wedding cake, so I've made a lot of red velvet cake in the past couple weeks.  The leftovers from trimming make great cake balls!

I didn't grow up with a lot of red velvet cake, so even looking at recipes was a challenge as I didn't know what the resulting cake was supposed to taste like.  I just knew it needed to be red.  After searching library books and the internet and after testing three or four separate recipes, I came across one that I personally like and that I feel represents the cake well. 

Red velvet cake is a butter cake, which is a bit confusing when you'll see my recipe below actually utilizes canola oil for the fat rather than butter, but bear with me.  In my tests, I tried recipes using shortening, butter, and canola oil.  I tested out all purpose vs. cake flour recipes.  Almost every recipe varied its amount of cocoa.  Some tasted dry.  Some were too chocolatey.  You can of course test all these out on your own, but in the end I used this recipe as a major guideline and jumping off point and sort of came up with my own version.  I am happy with the end result, and hope that if you try this recipe, you will be too.

Red Velvet Cake
adapted from The Confetti Cakes Cookbook

3 cups plus 1 tablespoon White Lily All Purpose Flour (see notes)
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 oz. or 6 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare three 9-inch round baking pans (spray with Baker's Joy or grease and flour) and place parchment in the bottoms of each pan.

Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.

Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

  • White Lily is only found in the South.  I am sorry if you don't live here and can't get it.  I specify White Lily because as a Southern flour, its protein content is lower than that of national brand all purpose flours, but slightly higher than cake flour.  In my tests, I found that cakes made with White Lily as opposed to cake flours actually tasted more moist.  You can try doing the same amount of regular all purpose flour.  If you want to use cake flour, the original recipe called for 3 1/2 cups cake flour. 
  • For your information, I used Happy Home red food coloring, which I bought in a local cake supply shop.  It's much more economical than what you'll find in grocery stores.  While they don't supply a complete list, you can check their website to find out where it's sold near you or to order online.
  • The original recipe called for more cocoa, but I felt that it turned the cake into more of a chocolate cake.  I suppose you can adjust this according to your own tastes.
  • I used white vinegar, but a friend tells me that red wine vinegar is good, too.  I plan to try that when I'm making this recipe for fun.   

Two wedding cakes=five recipes


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In the past two weeks I have completed and delivered my first two big (larger than two tiers) wedding cakes.  In each of them, there were different flavors for different tiers.  I'll sort of deconstruct them and give you each recipe I used on these cakes over 5 different posts.

First off, here are the pictures of the two cakes:

Between the two cakes, something like 10 pounds of butter and 20 of powdered sugar were utilized to make the icing.  I went with the simple buttercream recipe I know the best for each of the two cakes.  I tested out swiss buttercream and viewed recipes for other buttercreams in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, but the people for whom I made the cakes are used to and like the simple buttercream, and I know how it behaves the best, so simple buttercream it was. 

The recipe posted below is not an original, and it's certainly not new, but it is a great basic recipe whose flavorings can be switched out to suit your taste.  I have substituted most of the vanilla flavoring with almond and if you like almond, it's great!

Buttercream Icing
1 pound (16 oz) powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 oz) butter, softened^
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring*

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy.  Mix together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup. 

Working in batches, add the powdered sugar and milk mixture alternately, occasionally scraping the sides of the mixing bowl until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a fluffy texture.

^If you want pure white icing but a bad texture in the mouth, use vegetable shortening.  I don't recommend this, unless you're only making this icing to practice your piping skills.
*If you want your icing to be whiter, use clear vanilla flavoring.  If you intend to color your icing anyway, feel free to use extract.  This is also the part where other flavorings or extracts may be used. 

Enjoy this easy and addictive icing!

Parmesan Artichoke Dip



This last weekend Drew's side of the family had a reunion, and instead of bringing a full meal or going to a restaurant, the family decided to do appetizer-type foods.  Since I like to try different or new recipes at these opportunities, I decided on something I had seen long ago in a Kraft Food and Family magazine.  The Hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip had been marked with a post-it for just such an occasion.  This was actually the second time I made this dip, but the first time there were no pictures, so I made it to share with you too!

This dip is a great party food (so easy to prepare and such good results), and even those who aren't normally crazy about artichokes don't mind this one.  Serve with crackers or baguette slices.  I personally love the cheesy-ness the parmesan brings that contrasts and complements the artichokes.  The creaminess of the mayonaise binds it all together well.  I could probably eat the whole thing by myself.  The only negative I have for this dip is that it gets kind of greasy in the way that pizza with too much cheese does.  The next time I'll make this, I'll experiment by adding less mayo or less cheese.  I will definitely cut the mayo first as my love for cheese exceeds that of mayonaise.  I am posting my version below, which omits the original garnish ingredients.  To see the original recipe. click the link above.

Hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip
adapted from Kraft Foods

1-14 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonaise
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into a shallow baking dish (a 9 inch pie plate is recommended).  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until browned and bubbly. 

  • This is so easy!  I mixed the ingredients up in the same dish in which I baked it.  Prep time is around 5 mintues.
  • I served this with herbed crackers, but I imagine baguette slices, plain or toasted would shoot this up another level
  • The original recipe calls for green onion and tomato to be chopped up and placed over the dip.  Probably a good idea. 

Cake Balls


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So, on the weekend of September 25, there was a wedding, for which I made the cake.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, more is to come on that, but first I want to show you what I did with the leftovers.  I made cake balls!  Cake balls are cake that has been crumbled, mixed with icing, shaped into balls, and then dipped into chocolate or candy coating. 

For more on cake balls and all their creative variations, visit Bakerella's blog.  I am apparently in a hole, because Bakerella has had her blog and fan following for something like 3 years and I'm just getting around to discovering her adorable creations.  I had heard of cake balls from a show I watched a long time ago on Food Network, and then they popped up again when I happened upon Bakerella's site.  I had a bunch of leftover cake pieces from where I trimmed the wedding cake or the recipe made more than I needed, etc, and I didn't want to just throw the scraps away, so I tried my hand at these balls.  I took them to two different events I had the following weekend they were a huge hit at both.  It's pretty safe to say that whatever flavor you choose, they'll rock the party. 

You can pretty much choose any cake and icing combination that you want to make these cake balls, but my leftover cake and icing were red velvet and cream cheese, respectively, so that is what I used.  You can also use a boxed mix cake and purchased icing or homemade.  These are so forgiving!  If you use homemade cream cheese icing, you'll need to store the balls in the fridge.  I am pretty sure that any other icing is OK to leave out at room temperature.  So, here is the "recipe" for the cake balls:

Cake Balls
inspired by Bakerella

1- 9x13 cake, baked and cooled or the scrap equivalent
1-2 cups (1 can) of icing
24 oz. semisweet chocolate, almond bark, or candy coating of your choice

Crumble the cake so that it's just a bunch of crumbs.  Mix in the icing, starting with 1 cup and adding more if it's too dry.  You want a soft, mushy mixture that holds its shape.  Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls and place them onto a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet.  Place the balls into the freezer for at least 15 minutes to allow them to really firm up. 

While the cake balls are chilling, melt your chocolate/candy coating in the microwave or a double boiler. 

One at a time, dip the balls into the chocolate/candy coating and roll around with a fork or silicon scraper to coat.  Using two forks, pick up the coated cake ball with one fork and gently rock it back and forth between the two forks to remove the excess chocolate.  Use one fork to place the cake ball back onto the baking sheet.  Repeat with all the balls.  Once the cholocate or candy coating is dry, store in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Chicken Chili


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I am so excited that fall feels like it has arrived because it means that I get to make my favorite food, soup!  I just love soups when the weather turns cold, and it seems that the endless varieties and options prevent me from tiring of soup.  This weekend I asked Drew what kind of chili he might want, and I should have known he'd say chicken chili.  It's his favorite.  This recipe is different from the white chicken chilis you see in Ruby Tuesday or other places because it lays no claim to being white.  It also contains corn, which is not found in those other chicken chilis.  Did I mention it has a whole pound of cheese?  How can it not be delicious?!

This recipe was given to me by my friend Constance, who held it hostage until I gave her my recipe for mocha cupcakes.  So glad we worked that trade, Constance!  I don't have the source to share with you- all I know is that it came from a church cookbook. I can just tell you that Hillary Lewis, who is credited with entering the recipe into that book, has a winner recipe. 

This chicken chili is super easy, delicious, and very economical.  It makes somewhere around 6 quarts, so you can feed a small army for about $20.  By my calculations, this works out to be less than $2 per bowl!  Make this huge pot of chili and have a party.  Feed your neighborhood.  Or, you could freeze several 1 quart portions to reheat later on.  It freezes and thaws well. 

You'll notice it calls for a lot of beans and chicken.  This time I reconstituted and cooked 1 1/2 pounds of dried great northern beans in a crock pot and then added the other ingredients.  To save work on the chicken end, I bought a rotisserie chicken from my grocery store and used all of its meat for the chicken needed in the recipe.  As before stated, I used my crock pot and cooked/warmed all of the chili on low so that it'd be ready when we got home from church.  Three cheers for the crock pot! 

I hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe!

Chicken Chili
5-6 cans great northern beans (or 1 1/2 to 2 lb dried beans)
1 jar salsa
1 lb pepper jack cheese, cubed
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 lb corn (2 cans or 1 big bag of frozen corn)
5-6 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or cubed

Place all ingredients except cheese in a pot and heat over medium heat until warm.  When all ingredients are warm, add cheese and stir until incorporated.  Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread.  Works great in the crock pot, too!

  • As I said in the post, I didn't use cans of beans.  I cooked dry ones.  To do this, follow the instructions in my pinto bean post.  I soaked the beans Saturday afternoon and then put them in the crock pot to cook overnight on low.  Then, Sunday morning, I added the rest of the ingredients.
  • Use whatever salsa you like- I use mild because I don't like extreme spiciness, but the original recipe calls for medium. 
  • The recipe calls for pepper jack cheese, but I am sure it'd be delicious with monterrey jack or mild cheddar- just use a softer cheese that would be good for melting.