Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lemon Cream Cake

My mother in law loves the Lemon Cream Cake from Olive Garden. I decided to try and recreate it for her birthday. I got this recipe off of recipezaar. It was really good. I think the only thing that didn't measure up was the cake - since it was just a cake mix. When I make it again I will either make a cake from scratch, or my mom suggested adding 8 oz of cream cheese to the cake mix cake - I have never done this before, but I guess it makes the cake denser. I also did not have the lemon extract that it says is optional. I didn't feel that the cream had enough lemon flavor without it and so I added about 2-3 more teaspoons of lemon juice along with some lemon zest. I just kept tasting and adding more lemon until it was the desired flavor.


1 Betty Crocker white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 egg whites

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar (for garnish)

If you choose to use a different brand of white cake, use the manufacturer's directions instead of mine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch layer cake pan or springform pan.
Mix the ingredients for the cake following the procedure on box. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove cake from pan to rack to cool completely.

In a medium-size bowl, combine cream cheese and 2 cups powdered sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in lemon juice and extract, if using.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Using a spoon, fold cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream; set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add butter and dribble in the vanilla extract. Cut cold butter into flour mixture until mixture is in pieces no larger than a pea. Refrigerate until ready to frost cake.

When the cake is completely cool, cut into two layers. Reserve 1/2-1 cup of the Lemon Cream Filling. Spread the remainder of the filling on the bottom half of the cake. Place the second half on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining 1/2 cup of the Lemon Cream Filling. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the Crumb Topping, pressing it onto the sides to cover.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
Cut into slices; dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Succulent Braised Pork

We like to watch The Next Foodnetwork Star and this recipe came from the winner this past season. I have never braised anything before and this was so easy. The pork came out very tender and because it calls for pork shoulder it was very inexpensive. I also made her black bean recipe and it was very good served with the pork.

Succulent Braised Pork
courtesy Melissa D'Arabian

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine (you can use a cup of water instead of the red wine)
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Perfect Black Beans

courtesy Melissa D'Arabian

1/2 pound dried black beans
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 fresh garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped scallions, for garnish

The night before, soak the black beans in a large pot of water. The next day, rinse the beans, cover with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam. Stir in the onion and simmer 30 minutes more. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and vinegar, and taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn out into a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped scallions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Orange Syrup

courtesy Kjersten Bailey

My sister in law made this syrup for us a few Christmas' ago and I don't know why it has taken me so long to make it myself. It is so good!

Orange Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest from orange
3-4 T orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

Melt butter then add sugar, buttermilk, zest and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda (watch out - it expands).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apple-Pear Crumble Pie

courtesy KRAFT magazine

This recipe is perfect for fall. It reminded me of apple crisp baked into a pie. It was easy and delicious.

3/4 cup crushed Nilla Wafers (about 24 wafers)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 ready to use refrigerated pie crust
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large baking apples, peeled, sliced (I used granny smith)
1 large pear, peeled, sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Cool Whip or ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix wafer crumbs, brown sugar and butter until well blended; set aside.

Place pie crust in 9 inch pie plate. Spread cream cheese carefully onto bottom of crust. (I did not use all of the 4 oz - and the next time I make it I might leave the cream cheese off all together). Sprinkle top of cream cheese with half of the crumb mixture. Set aside. Combine fruit in large bowl. Add granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon; toss to coat. Spoon over crumb layer in pie crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and crust is lightly browned, covering loosely with foil after 25 min if necessary to prevent crust from overbrowning. Cool on wire rack. Serve with whipped topping or ice cream. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Simple and Meaty Skillet Lasagna

courtesy My Kitchen Cafe

I really like lasagna, but don't make it much because it can be a lot of work, and the last time I made it it was dry. This recipe is so nice because it is all in one pot, is really easy, and is moist and delicious. I have made manicotti where the noodles weren't cooked first and it didn't turn out how I wanted it, so I was a little weary of this dish, but the noodles cooked perfectly. My husband requested that this recipe be put on our go to recipes - which means any time I am menu planning and need some ideas from him, this is what he wants me to make.

3 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (these do not add spice - just flavor!)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
12 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 1 inch lengths
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (do not use fat-free)

Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a blender or food processor until they are coarsely ground and no large pieces remain.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is lightly browned and no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Scatter the broken lasagna noodles over the meat and then pour in the ground tomatoes and tomato sauce over the pasta. Stir in the basil and oregano. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat until the cheese melts, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cafe Rio Chicken

recipe courtesy Jamiel Bailey

I have to admit I have never tried the Cafe Rio chicken because I love their pork - but this is a really good chicken recipe.

5 lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)

1 sm bottle Zesty Italian Dressing

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in large crock pot. Cook on high for 5 to 7 hrs. (Jamiel cubes the chicken while barely frozen and then cooks it or you can shred it after it has cooked) Keep chicken in juice to keep moist and warm.

Lime Rice

This recipe is courtesy Jamiel Bailey.

This is my cousins copy cat recipe of Cafe Rio's lime rice. I had a rice I used to make when I did my Cafe Rio pork, but this recipe has replaced it. It is really good.

In pan sauté:

2 Tbsp butter, 1 yellow onion, chopped, and 4 cloves garlic, minced.


6 2/3 c. water
8 tsp. chicken bouillon
½ bunch cilantro, chopped well
2 tsp. cumin
2 sm can diced green chilies
1 Tbsp lime juice
½ tsp salt
3 c. long grain rice

Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Recipe courtesy America's Test Kitchen

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp grated fresh lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

For the Cookies:
Process the granulated sugar and lemon zest together in a food processor until the sugar is pale yellow and damp, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine, about 10 pulses. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about 15 pulses.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, egg yolk, and vanilla together. (Be sure to mix this at the last minute because it will curdle if mixed together in advance). With the machine running, add the lemon juice mixture through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, about 10 seconds. Continue to process until the dough begins to form into a ball, 10 to 15 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a clean counter and roll it into a 10 inch log, about 2 inches thick. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degress. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the dough into 3/8-inch-thick cookies. Lay the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown, 13-16 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

For the Glaze:

Whisk the cream cheese and lemon juice together in a medium bowl until smooth, then whisk in the confectioners' sugar. Spoon a teaspoon of the glaze onto the center of each cookie and spread it out evenly with the back of the spoon. Let the glaze dry completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.