Saturday, December 1, 2007

Peppermint Ho-Ho Cake

I used to make this cake years ago (as in I haven't made it for about 8 years) minus the peppermint and called it a "hoho cake" in reference to the white filling, chocolate cake, and chocolate glaze resembling a giant Hostess hoho cake. For some reason I came up with the idea to try it with the addition of peppermint flavoring and crushed candy canes in the fluff. It's very refreshing this way. It wasn't until I started typing the ingredients that I realized the whole "hoho" thing means something different for Christmas. Ya know... Ho-HO... as in what the big guy says... anyway... Put however much peppermint you like in it. Here's hoping everyone likes it at the toy drive at church tonight!!

1 chocolate cake mix (and ing. to bake cake)
1 container chocolate frosting
12 candy canes (pulvarized to bits in the blender)
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened)
1 stick of butter (softened)
3 C powdered sugar
1 8 oz. tub of cool-whip (thawed)
peppermint flavoring to taste

Mix cake mix and bake. Set aside to cool. While baking and cooling, mix together the cream cheese, stick of butter, powdered sugar, and peppermint really well with a mixer. Add peppermint a little at a time, (they have different strengths depending on which one you use) and take a little taste after mixing in. You can always add more, but you obviously can't take any out. I add about 3/4 teaspoon of the one I use. Then slowly FOLD in the cool-whip until all is fluffy! Put in fridge to get cool and thicken a bit.

When cakes are cooled and filling is thickened a little, slice the cakes in half horizontally, so you now have four layers of cake. Place first layer on cake stand or plate, spread 1/3 of peppermint fluff close to edges (not completely, as it will ooze when you add more layers on top) and then sprinkle crushed candy canes all over. Repeat this two more times. After last layer is placed on top, place in fridge to chill for an hour or so. After cake has cooled, place frosting in microwave for 15 seconds at a time until pourable. Pour frosting over top of cake and let it "ooze" over the top and down the sides. Sprinkle more candy canes over the top and put back into fridge to stay cool!! Enjoy!!

Oh yah! Be sure your top layer of cake isn't wider than the rest of the layers, because if it is, then all the chocolate glaze drips off the sides and pools at the bottom instead of running beautifully down the sides as it's supposed to! Yes, that's what mine did up there, but oh well, we'll it eat anyway!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

And A Little Holiday Cheer: Monkey Bread

In my house, we have but one real holiday tradition. We make Monkey Bread every Christmas eve and that is what we eat Christmas morning before, during and after gift opening. I have seen recipes for Monkey Bread that use refrigerated biscuits, and while I'm sure that it's a heckuva lot easier than my recipe, I like the tedium of my way. I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine way back when... and though I cheat for the whole dough rising part (I make the dough in my bread maker), I'll write the recipe as written and not how I do it!

For the Bread:
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus a pinch for yeast
1 package yeast (this is roughly 2 1/4 tsp if you use the jarred yeast for the breadmaker)
2 tbsp shortening (plus more to grease pan and bowl)
3/4 c. milk, warmed
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 1/4 c. flour

For the coating:
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c. nuts, chopped (We never include the nuts, actually - and it's still good)

For the Icing:
1/4 c. milk
2 c. powdered sugar

1. Put warm water and pinch of sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over top. Stir, let yeast soften and dissolve. About 5 minutes.

2. Place shortening, warm milk, sugar, salt & egg in mixer bowl. Grease bundt pan and a medium bowl.

3. Once yeast is dissolved and foamy, add it to mixer bowl; mix well with dough hook. Slowly add flour. Knead on medium-low 1 minute or by hand 5 minutes. Place in the greased bowl; cover with plastic. Set dough in warm place and let rest 20 minutes.

4. Make coating: Put melted butter in a bowl. In another bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts; sprinkle 2 tbsps nut mixture in Bundt pan. Cut dough into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll into balls.

5. Dip balls in butter, then roll in nut mixture; place in prepared bundt pan.

6. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes in pan.

8. Turn bread out of pan; cool 20 minutes on rack or plate.

9. Make icing: in small bowl, stir milk into powdered sugar. Drizzle over bread.

*Random note: This is the first year I actually have a bundt pan. I've always used an angel food cake pan. IF you use an angel food pan, put a cookie sheet underneath it - I've had years where the buttery mix oozes out, drips and the smoke alarm goes off. Not good. This year I'll be using my bundt pan now that I finally have one.

Beef & Beer Chili

I made this for dinner the other night and 75% of the household liked it (my five year old was the lone holdout because she doesn't like beans...).

1 1/2 c chopped red onion
1 c chopped red bell pepper
8 oz lean ground beef (Though we used a whole pound and it was fine...)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (19 oz) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt added diced tomatos, undrained
1 (14 oz) can low-sodium beef broth
1 (12 oz) bottle beer
1 tbsp yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Combine first four ingredients in large dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

Yield: 4 servings.