Sunday, August 25, 2013

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
    I don't know about you but I love zucchini! I love grilling it and using it in breads and cakes. Now I have a recipe for bars. This is quickly going to become one of my families favorites. It's right up there with my Banana Bar recipe.

     These bars are very moist, almost cake like. In fact when my husband saw the bars he quickly got himself some and came to me saying, "How come you didn't tell me we had carrot cake?" I quickly told him it was Carrot-Zucchini bars. As he gobbled down his bar he told me he couldn't taste any zucchini in it. Ha, Ha! That's the whole idea. Something that tastes good and has some goodness in it.

     I do think, however, that the next time I make these bars I'm going to double the recipe and make it in my 10.5 x 15.5 pan. Because seriously, there is only half a pan left of bars and it's been less than 24 hours since I made them. Besides I used about half a zucchini to make these and if I doubled it the whole zucchini could be used.

Carrot-Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C light corn syrup
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C shredded carrots
1 C shredded zucchini

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and soda; set aside.
In a large bowl mix together brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and blend well. Add the carrots and zucchini and mix well.
Spread the batter into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
Using an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until creamy. Spread evenly over the cooled bars.
Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew

     I just received my Taste of Home magazine last week. It has all these wonderful fall recipes that I want to make. My husband and I dogeared several pages of recipes last week when we were camping and this is just one of many recipes we wanted to try.

    Now I know the weather is not quite fall weather. In fact it has been downright steamy out. I just couldn't wait to make this. It is that comfort food that on a cold or rainy day makes you feel all warm inside. Even though it was still hot out my family gave it the thumbs up. They all really liked it.

     It is not your normal stew. This "stew" has a scoop of mashed potatoes served with it. Sounds a little weird, but it is very good.

     I changed the way it is cooked. Instead of baking it in the oven I just cooked it on the stove top. I also used stew meat instead of a chuck roast. I also used canned mushrooms and I left out the brandy and red wine. I don't think my family would have like it otherwise.

Beef & Mushroom Braised Stew
2-3 lbs stew meat
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3 T olive oil
2 -4oz cans of mushrooms
2 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (32 oz) beef broth
1 T tomato paste
1/4 t each dried parsley flakes, rosemary, sage and thyme
3 T flour
3 T water
Hot mashed potatoes

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat: brown beef in batches. Remove from pan. In the same pan, add onions and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic. and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in broth, tomato paste and spices. Return beef to pan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until beef is cook through.
In the meantime peel and boil potatoes for mashed potatoes. When potatoes are tender enough for a fork to pierce them easily they are ready to drain and mash. Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add milk and butter and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.
Once beef is cooked through it is time to thicken it. In a small bowl put flour in and add water. Stir together and then slowly add to beef mixture. Let it cook and it will thicken. ( I personally like to use cornstarch instead of flour. It thickens up better without getting lumpy).
Scoop potatoes into bowl and then add beef mixture.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

     It is that time of year when gardens are yielding tons of produce. It's fun to go to the Farmers Market and look and see all those lovely veggies. I couldn't resist buying some corn, green beans and tomatoes. It all looks so good!

   My garden is doing well this year. I did, however, make the mistake of planting four zucchini plants in my garden and I may regret doing this. I think I'm going to have more zucchini than I can handle. I guess I'll just have to freeze some for those cold winter days that will be soon upon us so I can still enjoy those recipes for bread, muffins, and cake.

    I've never made cake with zucchini before and I decided to give this recipe from my Taste of Home magazine a try. I changed the recipe a little bit to suit my taste and it was great. The recipe also called for a custard type frosting, but I used a can frosting instead.

     The next time I make this cake I might cut back on the cloves a bit. I feel like 1/4 teaspoon is a little too much. Next time I'll use only 1/8 teaspoon. I would still use the canned frosting though. All I did was scoop out 1/2 of the frosting (I'll use the leftover frosting on graham crackers) and then microwave it for about 15 seconds and then poured it over the cooled cake. It doesn't get any easier than that.

     The cake got a thumbs up from my family and I doubt that it will last very many days around here.  In fact I'm sure they'll be sneaking another piece before bedtime.

     P.S. I got to use my new stand mixer today!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1 3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup cooking oil
1/4 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 Cups finely shredded zucchini
1/2 Cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can of prepared chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 10 inch fluted tube pan. In another bowl, beat sugar, oil and butter until well blended. Gradually beat in milk, eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves; gradually beat into sugar mixture. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
Transfer to prepared pan. bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.
To frost take half the frosting out of the can and put in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave for only 15 seconds. You don't want the frosting to be too runny but it should be slightly pourable. Pour over the top of the cake and let it ooze down the sides.
Note: To remove cake more easily use solid shortening to grease pan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chewy Bars

Chewy Bars
 Today is my 3 year Anniversary for my blog! I cannot believe that I've been blogging for 3 years. I've learned some things along the way about blogging and I hope my postings have improved with my blog.

     I also hope that people have enjoyed the recipes and commentary that fill this blog. My hope was to bring easy and great tasting recipes for people to enjoy. I hope that I have accomplished this.

     I also want to say thank you to the people that have liked my Facebook page for Melanie's Minnesota Morsels. I encourage people to like my page if they haven't done this already. It will keep you in the loop on what my plans are for new recipes to be posted.

     I also want to say thanks to my followers of this blog! I appreciate you wanting to know when I've posted a new recipe and actually looking forward to what new dish I'm making. If your not a follower give it a try. You just might like it.

     Today the recipe I chose was a treat that my mom use to make and since my mom taught me how to cook I felt it was only appropriate to share a recipe that she handed down to me. These bars are called Chewy bars for good reason. The oatmeal base is very chewy and sweet. The frosting is a chocolate peanut butter combination that compliments the oatmeal bar wonderfully.

     Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Chewy Bars
4 cups dry oatmeal (I've used quick oats and old fashion oats)
3/4 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspon salt

Melt butter in the microwave. While butter is melting combine in a mixing bowl the oatmeal, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Once the butter is melted add to this combination and mix well and press into a buttered and floured pan. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until light brown and bubbly.
Melt in a microwave
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
Mix well and spread over warm bars. When cool, cut in bars and store in a  cool place to keep good and chewy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Little Red Barn Cake

Little Red Barn Cake
     I made a barn cake for my brother's birthday this weekend. He's always liked living and working on a farm so when I ran across a picture of a barn cake I decided to make my own version of this cute little cake for his birthday.

     This cake was very easy to make. You don't really don't have to have had any cake decorating classes to make this. I only used two different decorating tips that are very common tips. The white writing and thin white lines I used a #3 tip and for the roof I used a #12 tip. I also buy the disposable decorating bags. It makes clean up so much easier.

     The little figures on the cake are actually candles. There were four candles in the package. A chicken, cow, tractor and a little barn. I felt like the cake needed a little something and these were the ticket.

     To make this I used a boxed cake mix and baked it in a 9x13 cake pan. Just follow the directions on the box. Once the cake is cool turn it onto the cake platter that you are going to use to serve the cake. I wish I had purchased some of those cardboard cake platters for this one. Instead I had just put it on my cake taker base and now I'm hoping the red frosting will wash off well enough.

     Once the cake is cool I cut off the corners of the cake to make the angled roof of the barn. Then it was time to put a crumb coating on the cake. Make sure you thin the frosting out a little before applying. This coating is to help eliminate the crumbs that can sometimes come off and show up in your finished frosting coat. You can also put the cake in the freezer for about a half hour before putting on the final coat of frosting.

     After crumb coating it let the cake sit to crust over and then you can apply the red and brown frosting. Make sure you make enough red frosting to cover the cake. You can always use the left over red frosting and color it brown  for the roof. You don't have to get a nice smooth coat with this cake either. It's suppose to look like the boards in a barn so run your spatula in one direction to make the look of boards on a barn.

     The roof is easy. You will only coat the triangular sides and then use the #12 tip to make dots on the top of the cake. This will make a nice clean finish between the red and brown frosting. Again don't worry if the sides are not super smooth, it's an old barn and it should look rough.

     Now for the finishing touches! Use white frosting for the outline of the doors and the words that you want to put on it. You will need to thin out the white frosting a bit so it is easy to apply. Check out Wilton's for more information on frosting and decorating. Add whatever kind of cute cake tops or candles you can find and you are done! Trust me people will be impressed and it really doesn't take much decorating talent to do this cake.

Buttercream Icing
1 Cup solid white vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavor (Vanilla, Almond or Butter)*
7-8 teaspoon milk or water
1 lb. pure cane confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 Tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder (In case of egg allergies this may be eliminated)
Pinch of salt (optional, this will lessen the sweetness)

*Wilton Flavors may be used in any combination to suit your taste.
 Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Recipe from Wilton's Decorating Basics Book

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake
      I've been wanting to make cheesecake all summer and I finally did it. This is a recipe that I've used before, but instead of using blueberry pie filling this time I used cherry pie filling. It turned out just great! I think that with this recipe one could substitute any flavor of pie filling and it would taste wonderful.

     I did cheat a little with using an already made graham cracker crust, but I just wanted something that was quick and easy. So no harm in buying a pre-made crust. Besides I don't think one can go wrong buying the crust already done or if you're ambitious make your own.

     The one thing that I love about this cheesecake recipe is the simplicity of it. Trust me when I say anybody can make this and it will turn out great. You will impress your friends and family with this one. My family liked this so much that it did not last a 24 hour period in my house. It was gone in a flash.

     I guess I'll just have to make another one real soon.

 Cherry Cheesecake
2 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 graham cracker crust (9inch)
1 can cherry pie filling

In a mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, beating just until combined. Pour into crust. Drop 1/2 cup of pie filling by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the cream cheese mixture; cut through with a knife to swirl the pie filling.

Place pie on a baking pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Chill for 2 hours. Top with remaining pie filling. (I am using the remaining cherry filling to make some danishes.)