Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lime Bundt Cake with Lime Glaze

We've reached that point in the winter where I am REA-DY for spring- it's close right? We're almost there? I think it's more wishful thinking than reality at this point but I'm so thankful that our Virginia winters are pretty mild comparatively.  But I can't wait for days when it's light out when I get off of work, when we can take our puppy on nice long walks in the park, and go strawberry picking in Charlottesville.  Bring on spring!

But for now, I'm glad there is an abundance of citrus available-- it will somewhat tide me over until spring and summer produce gets here.  I think I've said this before here, but I am a sucker to resist those gigantic bags of lemons and limes when they are so cheap at Costco during the winter.  One of my favorite things to make is this Lime Bundt Cake with Lime Glaze.  I found this recipe years and years ago to make for Easter one year.  It is a cream cheese based pound cake with lots of lime juice and zest.  I never liked the glaze that went with the original recipe though, so I replaced it with a buttermilk glaze that I usually make on for my favorite lemon pound cake.  It's creamy and sweet and tangy, and I just swapped the lemon juice for lime.

Lime Bundt Cake with Lime Glaze

For the Cake:
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
18 Tbs. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest

Bring all of the ingredients to room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a large bundt pan and tap out the excess flour.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla and lime juice.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the lime zest.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are higher than the center. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the cake from the cake pan and cool completely on wire rack.  After the cake has cooled, drizzle with lime glaze.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

For the Lime Glaze

2-3 Tbs. lime juice
1 Tbs. buttermilk*
2 cups powdered sugar

Whisk 2 Tbs. lime juice, buttermilk, and powdered sugar until smooth, adding more lime juice gradually, if needed.  It should be thick but pourable.  Pour glaze evenly over top of cooled cake.

Adapted from via Cook's Illustrated

*Instead of buying buttermilk, I make this substitution:  Take a 1 cup measuring cup.  Pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in the bottom.  Fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk.  Pour the mixture into a small tupperware or jar and shake.  Allow the mixture to to curdle for 5-10 minutes and you have a perfect buttermilk substitute!  Refrigerate leftovers as you would any dairy product.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies

People really go crazy for red velvet.  I know this firsthand, because I go crazy for red velvet.  There is just something about that ruby red cake against the snowy white of the cream cheese frosting and we all seem unable to resist. Although in my book, red velvet cake is good any day, it is an especially pretty treat to make to celebrate Valentine's Day.

While there is nothing like a slice of 3-layer red velvet cake slathered with cream cheese frosting, there is not always time to whip one up during the busy week.  That is why I was so happy to find this recipe for frosted red velvet cookies.  These cake-like cookies have that sweet, with a slight hint of cocoa, taste that is the distinctive taste of red velvet cake.  They have that delicious slight tang too from the sour cream (which is used in these cookies instead of the buttermilk that is traditionally found in the cake version).  I liked that the recipe calls for a sprinkling of chocolate chips-- just enough to give these cookies a little texture and to add a touch more cocoa flavor without overpowering the cookie.

I used Southern Living's recipe for small-batch cream cheese icing to frost these cookies.  This recipe makes about 1 2/3 cups icing which is perfect for this recipe.

I have to say that I really love these cookies.  They are dangerous for me to have around the house-- soft frosted cookies are my absolute favorite, and the fact that these taste like a slice of red velvet cake in cookie form makes these irresistible!

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies

2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (You can also use unsweetened chocolate)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a microwave, melt semi-sweet (or unsweetened, if using) chocolate; stir until smooth.  Cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, food coloring, and vanilla. Add cooled chocolate; beat until blended.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition.  Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 6-9 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Spread with frosting.

Makes: 3 1/2 to 4 dozen

Adapted from Taste of Home

Small-Batch Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended. Add more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, if icing appears to thin-- up to an additional 1/4 cup until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in vanilla.

Adapted from Southern Living

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lofthouse Style Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies for Valentine's Day

Are you doing any baking for Valentine's Day?  I just love the excuse to indulge in pretty pink and pastel confections. I truly believe that a cookie or cupcake tastes better if it's iced with pink frosting.  That is one of the reasons, I love (LOVE) these cookies. Delicious soft baked sugar cookies topped with a buttercream frosting in your choice of colors-- so pink it was for Valentine's Day. Yes, I know this recipe has been all  over the food blogs, but that must mean they are really good right? I saw these last year on Smell's Like Home's incredible blog and made them soon after. They quickly became one of my favorite cookie recipes to bake.

If you are a fan of the grocery store-style soft frosted sugar cookies, then you will love having this recipe so you can make your own homemade version when the mood strikes! I like making these with different tinted frosting for the various holidays, and they're great to make for birthdays or showers in the guest of honor's favorite colors.  For Valentine's Day, I used AmeriColor Gel Paste in Deep Pink to make different shades of pink.

This is a busy and festive food week-- Sunday starts things off with Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, and Valentine's Day is Thursday.  Sounds like a perfect week to me! Happy eating everyone!


For the cookies:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
6-7 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
Food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)


1. To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk together to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing until just incorporated and evenly mixed.  Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. Do not overbake! The edges should be no more than lightly browned at the most. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To frost the cookies, place 4 cups of the powdered sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  If the frosting is too loose to frost the cookies with, whisk in more sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  Tint with food coloring if desired.  Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost cooled cookies.  If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable. Top with sprinkles if using.  Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Smells Like Home and Cook Like a Champion

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Muffuletta Dip

I saw this recipe for Muffuletta Dip a couple of years ago in Southern Living and flagged it to make at some point; as it sounded like something that I knew my husband would love.  With this year's Super Bowl being in New Orleans, I thought it was the perfect time to try this dip out, and now I'm kicking myself that I waited so long. It is seriously good, and if you love good Italian subs, you will love this dip.

A muffuletta is a round submarine-type sandwich that originated in Louisiana and is made of layers olive salad, capicola, mortadela, salami, pepperoni  ham, Swiss and provolone cheeses.  So basically take that goodness and mixture of flavors, and then imagine it in a dip, and you have this recipe. It's salty from the salami and olives, and tangy from the pepperoncini. The provolone is sharp, but balances the tangy peppers, and there is a nice crunch from the celery and red bell pepper.  My husband, who loves any kind of Italian sub, hero, hoagie, muffuletta, etc., raved over this dip, and thinks it's the perfect Super Bowl food.  So there you go...

This dip is really good served with French bread crostini-- I just sliced French bread and placed on a baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees until crisp, and then let people spoon the dip onto the bread when serving.  Also, this dip tastes better as the flavors blend together so make sure you prepare this at least an hour before serving.

Muffuletta Dip

1 cup Italian olive salad, drained
1 cup diced salami (about 4 oz.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini salad peppers
1 (2 1/4-oz.) can sliced black olives,drained
4 oz. provolone cheese, diced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Stir together first 9 ingredients.  Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours before serving.  Stir in parsley just before serving.. Serve with French bread crostini.  Store leftovers in refrigerator up to 5 days. This dip can also be served with crackers over a block of softened cream cheese.

Recipe makes about 4 cups.

Recipe from Southern Living

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Easy Artichoke and Chilies Dip

I'm someone who really enjoys January.  I know a lot of people find this to be a blah month, but after all of the craziness of the holidays, it's nice to have the calm that January brings.  Plus, it seems like people reemerge for the first time in what seems like months-- all of those work and family holiday parties and commitments are past, and we can just have some low-key get togethers.  Game nights, lots of football watching, and of course the Super Bowl (although I guess that's really in February-- but same thing) provide lots of excuses to get together with friends.

And, what would a game night or a Super Bowl party be without good snacks? Even better if they're easy to make so you can actually be out there enjoying things instead of stuck in the kitchen! That's where this dip comes in.  I made this Artichoke and Chilies Dip a couple of times during the holidays and it was so, SO easy, and SO good.  It has 4 ingredients (well, 5 if you count the dash of hot sauce, but I don't know if you can really count that since you just slosh some in at the end.)  You can mix this up and have it ready in about 25 minutes, so really can you beat that?  I was drawn to this because I love anything with chilies and thought it sounded like a good combo with the Parmesan and artichoke hearts. It's creamy and salty with a tangy spicy kick- just yummy!

One last thing-- while the recipe calls for regular mayo, this is one time I actually think this works better with light mayo.  It makes the dip less greasy and seems to come together better. You won't notice a difference in flavor.

Artichoke and Chilies Dip

1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (4-oz) can green chilies, seeded and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup regular or light mayonnaise (I prefer light for this recipe)
dash hot sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)
optional: paprika to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish or a small decorative baking dish. Sprinkle top with paprika if using.  Bake 20 minutes or until edges are golden and bubbly.  Serve with pita chips or your favorite crackers.

Adapted from Delightfully Southern Holidays (The link is to her first cookbook, Delightfully Southern, not the Holiday version I used which I couldn't find a link to on the internet.  But, I have both of Middleton Clark's cookbooks and they are wonderful.)

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