Monday, August 29, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe #3

Today I wanted to make a Pineapple Upside Down cake with fresh pineapple and cherries. I used Emeril Lagasse's recipe. On the Food Network website this recipe received 5 stars and almost all of the reviews  (about 90 reviews) were favorable.

He called for fresh pineapple rings - so I bought a pineapple ring maker. I bought it at Sur la Table and it was around $15. But they sent me a $10 gift card for being a valued customer and I had to get it! Right?

It worked perfectly!

Check out my beautiful pineapple rings! I am sorry that my photo is so dark in the corner - I only took one photo with the ring maker  because I was so excited to start the recipe with my beautiful fresh pineapple rings.

Here is another dark photo of my pineapple rings. But I think you got the gist of my pineapple ring maker!

1/2 ripe medium pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into rounds
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
14 pecan halves
1 cup cake flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum*
4 fresh cherries, halved and pits removed

* I did not have any dark rum in the house - we had wine, vodka and tequila. So I used some rum extract that I must have bought last Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think it worked perfectly.

Okay - Emeril used a 10" cast iron skillet. I did not have a 10" cast iron skillet. But when I was reading the reviews - many people said that they used a 9" cake pan. Yes! I had a 9" cake pan. Yeah me! So I decided not to buy the 10" cast iron skillet.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in your cake pan over medium heat . Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the sugar mixture is bubbly. Arrange fresh pineapple slices in a pleasing pattern and continue to cook for about two more minutes. Remove from heat and turn the pineapple slices over. Arrange the pecan halves in the spaces between the pineapple rings and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the remaining stick of butter and the granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in 3 batches, mixing at low speed after each addition until just combined. Stir in the vanilla and rum.

Spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple slices. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. I just baked mine for 35 minutes.

Once the cake has cooled for a few minutes run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a serving platter.

Garnish the cake with fresh cherries. I used a cherry pitter to remove the pits.

I also bought the cherry pitter at Sur la Table - I think it was around $12.  And it worked like a charm. It removed the pit - but the cherry was still intact and perfectly round.

Now for the Vote - drumroll please......

Noelle liked the top of Emeril's cake - but her vote is still for Betty Crocker. Todd thought Emeril's cake was a little dry, he still likes Paula Deen's recipe. I liked Emeril's recipe a lot but the recipe that was the easiest and the most moist was the Betty Crocker recipe.

So.......I am going to make the Betty Crocker next week - except that I am going to use fresh pineapple and cherries.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Last week I bought some fat free Ranch dressing in the grocery store. What a mistake - it was so gross! I ended up throwing it away. And I really hate wasting food.

I make my own Ranch dressing most of the time - with fresh herbs. So I guess I am just used to a fresher taste. Try this dressing - it just takes a few minutes to make and you will really taste the difference.

3/4 cup mayonnaise (use really high quality, organic if possible)
3/4 cup sour cream (I use organic)
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh lemon juice - squeeze the juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
1/8 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
dash of salt and fresh ground pepper

Now you have two choices. I make it both ways. You can whisk everything by hand in a medium size bowl or place everything in a blender and pulse for 10 seconds at a time.

Once everything is blended - put the dressing in an air-tight bottle or jar. Place the jar in the refrigerator where it will keep fresh for about 1 week.

I sometimes use fresh basil instead of the Italian parsley.  This is also a great dipping sauce. I use it for baby carrots, baked zucchini and  jumbo artichokes.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

After searching the internet for another Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe - I came across Paula Deen's recipe (I love you Paula!).

So I decide to adapt a version of Paula's cake and convert the recipe to cupcakes. Cupcakes are easier to bring over to your neighbors and to give away when friends stop over. I don't want another huge cake in the house!

Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 (20-ounce) cans pineapple slices in juice, drained well
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained well

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two cupcake pans with cooking spray and coat with cake flour.

In a large bowl beat 1 cup of butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after you add each egg. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk but beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the brown sugar into each of the cupcake  cups - I guess it equals a few tablespoons per cupcake cup.  Now add a little melted butter over the brown sugar.

 Here it gets a little tricky.  You need to cut about 1/2 inch out of the pineapple ring to get it to fit into the cupcake cup. I decided to add the cherry after I cooked the cupcake. Press the pineapple ring down into the brown sugar.

Add the batter on top of each pineapple.  Bake for about 20 -25 minutes.

I couldn't find a platter large enough to turn the the cupcake pan upside down. So I laid out a large piece parchment paper  on my counter and turned the cupcake pan upside down on the parchment paper. Then I was able to place the cupcakes onto a platter.

 Add a stemmed cherry to each of the cupcakes.

Now it time for the vote. Todd voted for Paula Deen's recipe and Noelle voted for Betty Crocker.  And I think I am also going to vote for Betty's recipe also. Sorry Paula!

 My son didn't vote - he wanted ice cream for dessert tonight.

Okay - each can of pineapple rings has 10 rings and we needed 24 rings to make our cupcakes. I was thinking of chopping the remaining six rings and mixing them with vanilla ice cream. I still might do this! Or I can just think about it!

I am going to make one more Pineapple Upside down Cake - and then have another family vote! I am trying to only make three recipes - I have gone crazy in the past trying to make the perfect biscotti (10 different recipes) peach cobbler (all summer long one year) and I can't even tell you about my key lime pie recipe addiction (because it is embarrassing).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hostess Gift

We went to a party last night. I could have brought a bottle of wine for the hostess gift - but I was out shopping and decided to think outside the box - or bottle!

So I brought my hostess some pajamas. When you think about it - pajamas are a GREAT hostess gift.

I bought these adorable pajama bottoms at Old Navy for $10 and they had tank tops matching for $5. Of course they don't have boxes at Old Navy. Why not?

So I wrapped my gift in cellophane and I had pink ribbon, twine and made my own gift card out of hot pink scrapbook paper.

I think the owls are so cute! Notice how I used some brown shredded paper at the bottom of the gift - I found it in my craft cabinet!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Over the weekend my husband and I had dinner at Roy's. For dessert we shared a pineapple upside down cake. I was super excited when we ordered dessert because I had wanted to make a pineapple upside down cake forever! I could never find the time, a recipe, etc.

So when my dessert from Roy's came to our table (I wish I had a photo) I was so disappointed. It was a butter mini bundt cake with a scoop of coconut ice cream with a pineapple shaped cookie on top of the ice cream.

I know. Where were the pineapple and  cherries? I was assuming that they would use fresh pineapple and cherries. But as my Mom always told me "never assume."

So this is what I am going to do - Start with the Betty Crocker version of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (which by the way my family LOVED) and then try a fancier version next week and take a vote on the best recipe.

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
(recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker website)

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (20 oz) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juice removed
1 jar (10 oz) maraschino cherries without stems, drained
1 box of yellow cake mix
  Vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a glass 13x9-inch pan, melt the butter in the oven. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange the pineapple slices on the brown sugar. Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice and arrange the remaining cherries around the slices, pressing gently into the brown sugar.

Add enough water to the reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Make the cake batter as directed on the box, substituting the pineapple juice mixture for the water. Pour the batter over the pineapple and cherries.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until a fork inserted ito the ceter of the cake comes out clean. Run a knife around the side of the pan to loosen the cake. Turn the cake over onto a serving tray. The cake can be served warm or cooled. The leftover should be stored covered in the refrigerator.

I turned the cake over on a glass tray - I did not have a white serving dish large enough. But I am going to buy one this week.

My taste testers (kids) had a few bites before dinner and declared it the "best cake ever!"

Two things that I would like to add - first the house smelled wonderful while the cake was baking and second the brown sugar formed a perfect crust over the pineapple. Yum.

Oops! I need to add a few more tips.... it is fantastic served with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. We tried it both ways! Also I saved the cherry juice and used it to make Shirley Temples!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

S'more Miniature Pies

Today is National S'more Day! So in honor of this most delectable holiday I made some miniature S'more Pies. These are super simple to make and transport easily to picnics.

You will just need some pie crust, chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs and miniature marshmallows.

Cut some circles out of pie crust (homemade or store bought).

On top of each circle of pie crust - just add a few chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, along with a few pinches of graham cracker crumbs.

Now whisk an egg and use a small pastry brush to seal the two pie crusts together. I used a fork to make the edges look pretty and added a few fork pricks in the middle of each pie.

I baked the miniature pies on lightly greased cookies sheets at 350 degrees for about 17 minutes or until the pies are just a little golden brown.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

S'more Trail Mix

Every year August 10th is National S'more Day. However, I thought (and I don't why) that National S'more day was August 14th. So my S'more posts might run a few days extra - since I had the wrong date.

You will just need a few items to make S'more Trail Mix.

In a large bowl - add approximately one half of the box of Golden Grahams.

Add the entire bag of miniature marshmallows.

Also add the entire bag of chocolate chips.

My son never wants to help me in the kitchen. However, he did come and taste test the S'more Trail Mix!

I found some brown ribbon, bags and labels in my craft closet. I filled the bags with Trail Mix and tied them with the brown ribbon and put the little sticker on the bag. What an easy project!

This is a fun snack to bring to the park or beach. Make sure you keep the Trail mix in your cooler on hot days so that the chocolate doesn't melt.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Basketball Lollipops

This Sunday is my son's last basketball summer league game and he has a double header. A game at 11 and a game at 1. So in between games we will grab a quick bite - we won't have time to come home. So I wondered what treat could I bring for the boys that wouldn't melt and become a hot mess in the airless, humid gym?

Then I remembered some baseball lollipops that I had made.....and I decided to make basketball lollipops.

You just need a few things - a flat lollipop, orange paper cut into circles, a black Sharpie pen and tape.

Using my circle punch - I punched out my orange circles. If you don't have a circle puncher - use a circle cookie cutter or trace a glass and cut the circles out by hand.

 Use a Sharpie pen to make the lines on the basketballs.

Then tape the basketball on to the flat lollipop.

This is the back of the lollipop.

This is a quick and easy project that anyone can make. You could also customize the lollipops to look like tennis, soccer or volleyballs.

Gift Wrapping Ideas

My mom said "less is more" a lot when I was growing up - meaning simple is better. However, when I wrap gifts - more is more!

The above gift is for my daughter's friend - Sierra. I used a sea blue wrapping paper, polka dot ribbon and added goldfish and shark week themed Rice Crispy treats.

The above gift is for my sweet friend Adrianna's birthday. I wrapped her main gift in black wrapping paper and her little gift in polka dot paper, and used red and white striped ribbon, black and white ribbon. I added a lipstick Christmas ornament and decorated the wrapping paper with felt ladybug stickers.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shark Week Rice Crispy Treats

Today I made some Shark Week themed Rice Crispy Treats.

I dipped the popsicle stick in the melted chocolate and wedged it carefully into the Rice Crispy treat. I waited for the chocolate dipped popsicle stick to dry. Then I dipped the Rice Crispy treat into the melted blue chocolate and added some blue sugar at the top and a gummy blue shark.

I also made some Goldfish treats. On the shark popsicle sticks I wrote Shark Week and on the Goldfish sticks I wrote  - Here fishy, fishy.

Once the Rice Crispy Treats were dry I packaged them in little bags and tied them with ribbon.

These would be a great treat for a pool party or to bring to the beach in a cooler for a snack.

Shark Bait - Who Ha Ha!