Saturday, June 9, 2012

Angel Food Cake

Made this yummy angel food cake for a cookout at my brother and sister-in-law's house last weekend.  Yes, I did make it from scratch and NO, it's NOT difficult!  You can do this easily, so long as you are patient (but vigilant) as your eggs are being beaten.

The first problem I ran into when preparing to make this was not having the right pan.  Yes, you do need an angel food cake pan.  My internet research tells me that you should not use a non-stick pan, and you should use a flat bottomed angel food cake pan.  (Problem: I was planning to use my non-stick bunt pan with a fancy bottom.)  Luckily we have some great neighbors who let me borrow a pan!  Now that I know how easy it is to make angel food cake I need my own pan!

After recipe searching online, I decided to go with the recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  I figured when it's such a classic recipe, an old-fashioned cookbook should have it right!  They have helpful pictures of of "soft peaks" and "stiff peaks" - which is important if  you're not already able to recognize the difference.  

If your pan does not have prongs for when it is cooling upside down, use a funnel to prevent the pan from being against your counter.  Our homemade funnels are the cut off tops of 2 liter bottles - works just as good!

The only thing that I did different was to add 1/2 tsp. of almond extract, as suggested by browneyedbaker.  I really like almond flavoring!  Recipe is as follows...

Angel Food Cake

• 1 1/2 cups egg whites (use 10-12 large eggs)
• 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
• 1 cup sifted cake flour or sifted all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 cup granulated sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Have ungreased 10-in tube pan ready.

2.  Separate egg whites into a very large mixing bowl and allow them to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside.

3. Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (Tips will curl if spatula is inserted and lifted.  See images here).
Gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (Tips stand straight.  See images here)

4. Sift one-fourth of the powdered sugar mixture over beaten egg whites.  Fold in gently with a spatula.  Repeat powdered sugar mixture by fourths.  Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan.  Gently cut through batter to remove air pockets.  (Use a knife or icing spatula).

5. Bake on the lowest rack in a 350° oven for 40-45 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Immediately invert cake;  cool thoroughly in pan (about 2 hours).  Loosen cake from pan by sliding a metal spatula or table knife between the cake and pan, pressing the spatula against the pan, so you don't cut the edges of the cake.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Upon request from hubby, chicken pot pie was our dinner yesterday.  Sometimes hubby requests things, and at dinner time he finds that they're not what he expected.  Knowing this, he gave specific things he was looking for in his chicken pot pie.  
Real pie shell, not a casserole.  Thick and creamy inside.
So I set out to look for something easy, probably with frozen mixed veggies and cream of chicken soup.  The recipe I ended up with includes neither of those things!

After checking some of the blogs I follow and trust, I still didn't have what I was looking for.  I moved on to google and clicked on a link to Taste of Home.  This recipe has excellent reviews, so I decided to go for it.  It was not difficult, but was a little time consuming.  Probably would have been a little less time consuming if I hadn't shattered a pie plate.  Really, shattered.  Good thing this yummy comfort food would be coming out of the oven an hour after that disaster.  I tend to burst into tears every time that I break something glass.   Yesterday marks the first time I have broken something glass in our house and NOT cried. Woo hoo!  Luckily I had 2 pyrex pie plates, so pictured below is the other one.
Okay, back to the food.

This chicken pot pie was excellent!  Nick said "Yes" to "Better than store bought?"  
After another minute of chowing down he said "Better than Costco."  I guess Costco doesn't fit into the same category as any other store?  According to Nick they have very good chicken pot pie... so if you're too busy (or lazy) to make this, you can buy it there.  But this is better than Costco, so it won't be as good.

This was my first time cutting something out of the top of a pie like that.  Do not make fun of my little hearts.  I was thinking nobody but Nick would see it, so it didn't matter.  As I put the pie in, I realized I was going to take pictures to blog.  Oh well!  Also, my crust was slightly overdone, as you can see, by the time I checked it at the minimum recommended cooking time (35 min).

This recipe makes two pies - save one in the freezer for a rainy day.  Or a busy day when you don't have time to make dinner :)

My suggestions: Use Yukon Gold potatoes.  Yum.  
And I added an extra half a cup of peas - changing the recipe from 1 cup peas to 1 1/2 cups of peas.
Use a flaky pie crust.  I used the one with the Cook's Illustrated Lattice-Top Peach Pie, which I blogged last year.  You can view it on my blog here.  This has been my go-to crust since making that pie.  Remember to double your pie crust recipe! 

Chicken Pot Pie
(Makes two 9-inch pies)
• 2 cups diced peeled potatoes (suggestion: Yukon Gold)
• 1 3/4 cups sliced carrots
• 2/3 cup chopped onion
• 1 cup butter, cubed
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. dried thyme
• 3/4 tsp. pepper
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
• 1 1/2 cups frozen peas 
• 1 cup frozen corn
• Pastry for two double-crust pies (9 inches)

1.  Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender (Yes, a whole cup of butter! Remember, this is your base for two pies).  Stir in flour, salt, thyme and pepper until blended.  Gradually stir in broth and milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add the chicken, peas, corn, potatoes, and carrots; remove from heat.

3.  Line two 9-inch pie plates with bottom pastry shells.  Fill shells with chicken mixture.  Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pies.  Cut slits or decorative cutouts in pastry.  Place over filling; trim, seal, and flute edges.  

4.  Bake one pie at 425° for 35-40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.  Let stand for 15 mintues before cutting.  Cover and freeze remaining pie for up to 3 months.

To use frozen pie: Shield frozen pie crust edges with foil; place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425° for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350°; bake 70-80 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Miles' 1st Birthday Cake

We celebrated my nephew's 1st Birthday a little over two weeks ago.  Can't believe he is over a year old already!  My sister did a fantastic job with a "Little Man Moustache Party".  I spent some time with a moustache on myself.  Not really my best look.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take our camera.  My cousin let Nick borrow their camera to take some pictures, so I have some of her pictures of the cake! :)

The cake is double layer chocolate and yellow cake.  I used an 11 x 15 pan (twice - once for each layer), cut it, and formed it into the 1.  It took me SO long, mostly making huge recipes of cake, baking the chocolate layer a lot longer than I thought it would need to, and then letting them cool completely before doing anything with them.  The simplicity of the design made icing the easy part for this one!   Needless to say, this was way too much cake for the amount of people there.  I was afraid that if I didn't layer it, it wouldn't be enough for everybody because the pieces would be larger.  Oh well!

Here's the little birthday man!  He did a great job with his smash cake!

Nick's first (non home-improvement) project in the workshop was these blocks he gave Miles!  

Happy Birthday Miles!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

This easy side dish is a favorite of mine.  You chop, dump, mix, and let 'em roast. 

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
• 1 1/2 pounds small red or white skinned potatoes
• 1/8 cup olive oil (or dump and mix until coated)
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. black pepper
• 1 Tbsp. or 3 cloves garlic
•  2 Tbsp. fresh minced rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cut the potatoes in quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil.  Toss until potatoes are coated.  Add olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.  Toss until spices coat potatoes.  Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer.  Roast in the oven for at least 1 hour or until browned and crisp.  Flip twice with a spatula during cook time.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Cake

I made this cake for both my sister's and my mom's birthdays this year.  It's very moist and very chocolatey.  When my Mom said chocolate cake, I used this recipe again because I remembered how awesome it is.  And these pictures just make me want more!

Here is a link to the recipe on Hershey's website.  Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

The frosting on this cake is the Hershey's recipe; the other one is a different recipe.

Strawberries go so well with this cake... especially with the icing! 

This is the same Hershey's cake with a different icing recipe.

Looking forward to making my nephew's birthday cake next week!