Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peach Cobbler

I am a HUGE birthday person. It's just the way I am. I think they should be celebrated no matter if you're 1, 10 or 100. I guess it's in my blood because there isn't a holiday or birthday that goes uncelebrated on our dad's side of the family. We have never ever had a store-bought cake at parties because my mom always brought a homemade one. In the past few years, I have inherited that task and I love being the cake girl. I always try to make the birthday boy or girl's favorite cake no matter what. I even made an 11-layer cake a few months ago for a very special little boy!

Since coming to college I try to do the same thing for my friends for their birthdays. My friend Corey's birthday was a few weeks ago and with spring break, mid-terms and other things I haven't gotten around to making his birthday present for him until tonight! He requested peach cobbler instead of cake, with homemade "fluffy-whip." I have never heard it called fluffy whip but homemade whipped cream ain't nothin' but a thang. And of course I said yes to the peach cobbler!!

What you need:

Butter, peaches, lemon juice, sugar, salt, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, milk, vanilla extract and almond extract.

Start by exploding melting the butter in the dirty microwave. 

And pour it into a large casserole or 8x8 inch pan. I used a disposable cake pan since I'm taking it and leaving it somewhere and may never see my one good Pyrex cake pan ever again. (Not that that's happened or anything...)

This seems like a lot of butter, and thats because it is! Nothing wrong with a recipe starting out with a whole stick of butter before you even add anything else to the pan.

The original recipe calls for 4-5 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced. Well, there is not a SINGLE peach on the shelves in the two grocery stores near my house. This is 2012, can't we grow something that looks and taste like a peach in a lab and call it good? Well, guess not. So, I used no sugar added jarred peaches from the refrigerated fruit section. Canned will work too, I just didn't feel like walking to that side of the store.

About 4-5 cups will do, I was right at four cups.

Add in lemon juice - again, not fresh, but it's what I had!


And a few tablespoons of sugar.


And dump right on top of that pool of butter!

Spread the peaches around until it's one even layer.

Now for the top crust-
I was out of cinnamon, but I had some mixed with Splenda I had made a while back for oatmeal and toast, so I just doubled up on the measurement of that.



baking powder,

and flour.

Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, pour in some milk,

vanilla extract,

and almond extract.

 Add this mixture to the sugar/flour mixture..

and whisk to combine.

It will be more of a batter than a dough. Lots of cobbler recipes have a doughy/biscuity top but this is easier to spread and I think turns out great!

Carefully pour it all over the top as evenly as possible. It's okay if there are open spaces, cobbler is not meant to look perfect!

When it bakes, the batter will puff up and spread over the rest of the peaches.

Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes or until the cobbler is bubbly and the top is golden brown. 

Uhhh - yum. It was perfect. Crunchy top, not too bready; sweet gooey inside, not too runny. Delicious!

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream - or do like us and make homemade whipped cream - just whisk a cup of heavy cream with three tablespoons of sugar until it's the right consistency, or use a hand-mixer, just don't over-mix and turn it to butter!

Peach Cobbler

1/2 cup butter, melted
4-5 cups fresh peaches - peeled, pitted, and sliced – or two large jars
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbs. sugar + 1 cup sugar, separated
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Pour butter in the
bottom of a large casserole or 8x8 inch pan. In a bowl, toss the
peaches with lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and toss again
to coat. Pour into pan. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining
ingredients and stir gently. Spoon batter over the peaches. Bake
for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cobbler is bubbly
and the top is golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

At our last Niece Night, I made these along with Micah and Jason's chicken and broccoli salad and my angel food cake

I'll warn you, don't eat them hoping they will taste like a french fry, because they are not. However, if you aren't fond of sweet potatoes, try them like this and it may change your mind. It is my favorite way to eat them and they are surprisingly easy. I actually made them again this past weekend!

I think sweet potato fries are a sort of new trend so I had to resort to Pinterest for the recipe (I know what you're thinking, poor me!). After about a half an hour of caving to my ADD, I remembered my purpose at the moment was finding recipes! And I found several! (Don't you just LOVE Pinterest?!?)

I found several recipes and couldn't decide which I liked better because they were so incredibly different, so I combined a few to make my own and I think it turned out perfectly - both times!

First of all, slice up 3 or 4 good sized clean sweet potatoes. Not too thick, not too thin. I left the skin on because I like it but you can peel them if you don't. 

Soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes. I think I let mine go about an hour. This is the trick to getting them crispy.

For the seasonings, I just used what I like. You do the same. I eyeballed the measurements but it came out delicious.

 I'm guessing I used anywhere from 1/2 to 1 whole tablespoon of each spice (chili powder, Lawry's seasoned salt, garlic and herb Mrs. Dash, comino, kosher salt and pepper.

Also, it isn't in the picture, but I used about 2 tablespoons corn starch. This also helps dry the potatoes out and make them crisp up.

 Dump it all in a gallon-sized zip bag.

 Strain the sweet potatoes well and pat them dry. Add them to the bag and drizzle in a few tablespoon olive oil.


 Dump them out on two cookie sheets (or two cookie sheets and a pizza stone, in our case),

And bake for 20-25 minutes at 400º, flipping halfway through with a spatula.

They will start to caramelize and turn brown on the edges, making them sweet and savory. 

 Delicious!! They really are easy. Dip 'em in ranch, dip 'em in ketchup, BBQ sauce, hummus, or just eat 'em plain like I like to. You really can't go wrong!

Here they are plated up with Micah and Jason's chicken and broccoli salad.

Seriously good!

Happy cooking!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Angel Food Cake

The theme of our most recent Niece Night was "healthy food." Micah and Jason fixed grilled chicken and a broccoli salad (recipes coming soon) and I made sweet potato fries and this angel food cake with strawberries.

I found the recipe in Nana's cookbook and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I rolled with that.

What you need:
Sugar, flour, salt, cream of tartar, powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla and almond flavoring, strawberries and whipped cream.
Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, extracts and salt.

And beat until combined.

While beating, gradually add sugar. I HIGHLY recommend using a stand mixer, but I don't have one. Also, make sure your egg whites are at room temperature because they won't thicken if they are cold. I learned this the hard way and spent probably 30 minutes beating these until my arms nearly fell off. 

Keep beating...

I took a break to let my egg whites get a little warmer and sifted the powdered sugar and flour together twice.

I also took pictures of myself. 
*Apron check!*
Nana gave me this apron years ago. It was the first apron I ever got and started my obsession. It has also ever been washed and it definitely needs it. It is coated in years of flour, sugar, food coloring and batter.

After it wasn't as cold, the mixture started thickening a little bit.

Soft peaks...

And finally stop when you have stiff peaks.

Begin folding the powdered sugar/flour mixture in about a 1/4 cup at a time.

Make sure you have all the flour/sugar incorporated without over mixing. It will be a big fluffy, airy mixture.

The recipe says to use a tube pan, but all I had was this old $1 garage sale bundt pan that I made work.

Spoon the mixture in the ungreased pan.

And cut through it with a knife to release any major air pockets.

Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until it passes the knife test...
It should be golden brown and cracked on top.

Insert knife into the middle,

and if it comes out clean, you're good to go!

Turn it upside down on your serving plate to cool. I made mine the night before and left in the refrigerator over night to cool. 

(Nail polish change #1)
I have had problems with my second hand bundt pan before - try having only half of a pound cake release from the pan.... so I was leery about not greasing the pan like the instructions said, but I'm a stickler for following the instructions. I guess I should have gone with my gut because it certainly was stuck in there! I used a spatula to go around the cake to try and loosen it.

Then flipped it over to release. 

The moment of truth...

Well, it stuck to the pan. It may not be picture perfect, but it tasted just fine!

It definitely needs an attractive topping...

These strawberries are gorgeous!

I sliced up the whole container.

Well, maybe not the whole container...

Then I remembered a little trick Nana taught me. I dipped my whole strawberry into a little jar of Splenda I keep on my counter...

And bit right in! Delicious!!

Look at this funny guy!!

Place all the sliced strawberries in a container and whack a lemon in half.

Squeeze it upside down over the strawberries so the seeds don't fall in.

And douse them in Splenda. Just go with a little, taste and repeat. No need to measure.

I left these in the fridge overnight.

Slice up huge pieces (it's fat free! indulge!).

(Manicure change #2)
Scoop on a good amount of the strawberry mixture.

(Jason said the strawberries were "foodgasmic." I totally made them up as I went along but he swore they were magical.)

And finish it off with a dollop of fat-free Cool Whip!

Enjoy! It is totally fat-free, light and refreshing!

Happy cooking!

Nana's Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 1 dozen or a carton of Egg Beaters), room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, extracts and salt at high speed.
While beating, gradually add sugar; beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture forms stiff peaks.
Combine and sift confectioners' sugar and flour; gradually fold into the batter, 1/4 cup at a time.
Gently spoon mixture into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. With a metal spatula or knife, cut through the batter to break large air pockets.
Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Serve with glazed strawberries and Cool Whip.