Peachy Pound Cake…

What do you do when you’re snowed in with only 1 stick of butter? Why, make half a pound cake, of course! You can bet that this cake is pretty special to me, seeing as I had one opportunity to bake (while snowed in), with ONE stick of butter to my name. I could have chosen anything. Any recipe. But I chose this one. THIS pound cake. Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? No? ……..ok.

A long time ago, Joel’s mother bought me a Williams-Sonoma cake mix for peach pound cake. It was magical. Moist and buttery and brushed with peach schnapps while still warm. I’ve never forgotten that cake. And recently, while snowed in with one stick of butter (stop me if you’ve heard this story before…) I decided to recreate it. I chose Paula Deen’s recipe for pound cake, as it is my favorite. I baked in some peach schnapps with the batter as well as brushed the whole outside of the cake while still warm. It was close; perhaps not quite as good as I remember the Williams-Sonoma mix being, but DARN good, just the same. And even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! A snow day baking success! That last stick of butter really did itself proud….

(And yes, I took lots of pictures. That’s what you do when you’re snowed in….apparently.)

Peachy Pound Cake

1 stick butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon peach schnapps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla and the 1 tablespoon peach schnapps. Pour into a greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

While the cake is still warm, remove from pan and brush the top and sides with the remaining peach schnapps. Let cool completely before serving.
Serves 6-8

Recipe source: adapted from Paula Deen

**If you’d rather not use alcohol, this quick and easy peach simple syrup would be a great alternative!

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Pink Raspberry Marshmallows…

Here’s another fluffy-frilly-girly recipe, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Pink Raspberry Marshmallows. I’ve discovered something about myself- I really like making homemade marshmallows! I just love whipping all that white, puffy fluff in the mixer! And let me tell you, homemade marshmallows are by far better than the packaged ones! Especially these- they have a light raspberry flavor and I think the pinkness adds a little something extra. ;)

I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, then used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the marshmallows. Very, very simple! A perfect Valentine’s treat! And if I may make a suggestion, these would taste mighty delicious dipped in some chocolate fondue (now THERE’s a perfect Valentine’s treat!!)!

Pink Raspberry Marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon raspberry liqueur
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
pink food coloring

Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 3 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, raspberry liqueur and pink food coloring, if desired.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the parchment-lined pan. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place.

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors, a long thin knife or a cookie cutter. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently (if you use a cookie cutter, be sure to dip it in some cornstarch or powdered sugar between each use). Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
Makes about 1 pound of marshmallows.

Recipe source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours

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A Big (and Important!) Month!

A sweet food blogger friend of mine, Nikki, recently inspired me to do something bigger and better with my blog. As you all know, based on the two ads I have on my site, I make a little money from my blog. Foodbuzz pays me a small amount of money based on every thousand hits I receive. It’s not much, but it pays for the monthly hosting costs for my site, some groceries and most importantly, my cheese addiction. ;)

Recently, Nikki had a friend pass away, leaving his very young family behind. Nikki donated her entire earnings for the month of January to this young family to help them get through these difficult times. Isn’t that wonderful? We need more people in the world like this, which is why I’ve decided to follow in Nikki’s footsteps. It’s been two years since we adopted our sweet Izzy girl, and since that time, Joel and I have developed a passion for helping rescue societies and shelters as much as we can. That means helping to spread awareness about homeless animals, sharing pictures of animals in need of adoption on my facebook page, encouraging others to adopt instead of buying puppy mill puppies, and more. But really, the best gift we can give is money. There are SO many homeless animals that come into the shelters and rescues needing surgery, healthcare, food, constant attention, and much, much more. Izzy did. When she was picked up as a stray, she had been abused and needed immediate medical attention. Rescue societies depend largely on donations to make all that possible. That’s why I’ve decided to donate my entire Foodbuzz earnings for the month of February to a local animal rescue- Homeward Bound, in honor of Izzy and her 2nd “Adoptiversary” coming up on February 20th. It won’t be a huge amount, but it will certainly be enough to keep some special homeless animal warm, fed and comfortable.

So, if you feel it in your hearts, please tell your friends- every click my site receives is more money to Homeward Bound. And more money to sweet, loving animals like Izzy.

Thanks so much, Nikki, for inspiring me to do this! Thank you all, so, SO much!

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My Mom’s Simple Chicken Stew…

Um, it’s been cold. Really bad, snowy, icy, power outages, school-closed-for-4-days COLD. But I probably don’t have to tell you that. Most likely, it’s been the same story where you are too (unless you live in California or someplace delightful and sunny, in which case…I hate you.). In fact, as I’m sitting here typing this, cars are slipping and sliding down my icy street. Weather like that can only mean one thing- warm, hearty chicken stew. It’s the easiest stew in the world to make and it requires very few ingredients. This is how my mom always made it and I just love it. In fact, not too long ago I was visiting my parents and my mom served me this stew for lunch- big chunks of potatoes, carrots and tender juicy chicken all simply seasoned with salt and pepper. This is the best kind of cold weather food! All you need is some good crusty bread or cornbread muffins to go with it and you’ve got a hearty, delicious meal!

My Mom’s Chicken Stew

3 bone-in chicken breasts
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 or 6 small potatoes (or 2 or 3 medium sized), cut into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover. Boil the chicken for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until very tender.
Remove chicken from pot (save the broth- you’ll use that later!) and let cool. Remove the skin and bones and shred chicken (I like it in pretty large chunks).

Put the pot with the chicken broth back on medium heat and add in the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes and salt and pepper (depending on how thin you like your stew you can add a little water if needed). Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just about tender. Add in the potatoes and chicken and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with crusty bread or cornbread muffins. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6 (also makes great leftovers!)

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper’s mom :)

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Bananas Foster Nachos…

Three words: Bananas. Foster. Nachos. You remember these?? I posted them back in October for my Project Food Blog challenge #4. Oh yeah. These are some serious nachos, y’all! Something I think you really, really need to make your Super Bowl party a success. Chocolate, caramel, buttery, brown sugary, rummy bananas…. Super Bowl food for the GODS, I tell you!

Still looking for that perfect Super Bowl dessert? Look no further, because these nachos are lightening quick to make, easy to eat (albeit a little messy), and seriously, seriously delicious! And most importantly, they’re man-friendly. These are guaranteed to please ANY man on the holiest of man days- Super Bowl Sunday. Make these and watch all your Super Bowl dessert dreams come true.

Bananas Foster Nachos

3 flour tortillas, cut into quarters
cinnamon-sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons dark rum
3 bananas, sliced
vanilla ice cream
prepared hot fudge sauce, for drizzling
prepared caramel sauce, for drizzling
chopped walnuts; optional

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange tortilla pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and spray with butter spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (as much as you want). Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until crisp.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until butter is melted. Add the sliced bananas, gently stir for a minute or so, then add the rum. Continue to cook for about 3 or 4 minutes.

Place the cinnamon-sugar chips on a large platter and spoon over the banana mixture. Top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with hot fudge and caramel sauce and sprinkle chopped walnuts, if desired. Serves 3-4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Chicken Salad Bites…

When you think of baby showers or wedding showers, tell me, what’s the first food you think of? For me, it’s chicken salad, no doubt. I don’t know what it is about chicken salad, but it seems to be the honorary queen mother of shower food. Which is just fine by me, I adore chicken salad. Especially chicken salad with grapes and crunchy almonds….mmm. So naturally, when I was invited to take part in a little virtual baby shower for our fellow food blogging friend Annie, chicken salad was the very first thing to pop into my head! And to make it more accessible and “mingle-friendly”, I decided chicken salad bites would be perfect.

Annie will be having a sweet baby girl (little Caroline; What a sweet name!) in just a short while, and to show our support, a bunch of us bloggers are throwing her a virtual shower- how cool is that (and stay tuned, because I’m hosting a little shindig of my own in a few weeks!)?! My good friend Courtney, of Cook Like A Champion is our gracious shower hostess- she and Annie will have the entire round-up posted on their blogs, so be sure to head over for some beautiful dishes by a group of very talented bloggers!

Now, onto these chicken salad bites! I love a good crunch in my chicken salad, so this is full of crunchy sliced almonds and celery. There’s also green grapes and pineapple, and let me tell you, the pineapple really adds a delicious sweetness and flavor that compliments the chicken perfectly! The sauce is made up of non-fat yogurt and mayonnaise, so it’s a little lower in fat than most chicken salads. The salad sits in crisp little phyllo cups, which gives great texture and makes them easy to eat. Simply stated: this is really an easy, delicious dish to put together and it’s just perfect for parties (or showers!). :) Don’t forget to head over to Courtney and Annie’s blogs to see everyone else’s beautiful dishes! Happy baby shower, Annie! Congratulations to you and your sweet little family!

Chicken Salad Bites

30 baked phyllo cups (you can find these in the freezer section of the grocery store- they usually come in packs of 15)
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small can pineapple chunks (crushed would be fine as well)
handful green grapes, sliced into halves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 squirt lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley and thinly sliced radishes, for garnish, if desired

Place the chicken breasts in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the tops. Boil on medium heat for approximately 1 1/2- 2 hours, until chicken is very tender. Remove the chicken and let cool.

Once the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the skin and bones and shred into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add in celery, pineapple, grapes and almonds.

In a small bowl, make the sauce. Stir together the mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir until combined. Taste for seasoning.

If serving immediately, place a small amount of chicken salad in each phyllo cup. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and thinly sliced radishes (optional).
If you’re making the salad ahead of time, keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. Don’t assemble the bites until right before serving, as the cups will get soggy.
Makes 30 cups.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper

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