A Man’s Favorite {Applesauce Cake}

cake

I made a cake from my Gramma’s recipe box this week – A Man’s Favorite (Applesauce Cake).  It was a perfect cake for a weeknight fall meal – simple flavors, ingredients I had on hand, fast to mix up, and made a smaller-than-most sized cake.  My gramma got this recipe from a friend of hers from when they lived in Texas – I just love her penciled in addition of Applesauce Cake after A Man’s Favorite.  I have to wonder if someone was being cheeky naming the cake this, or were they serious and it was the man’s favorite?

 batter

I especially liked the addition of my homemade applesauce and a full cup of raisins.

frosted

I added a quick powdered sugar glaze by whisking together until smooth: 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1-2 teaspoons almond milk.  

I don’t have much to report on right now – I’ve been busy with some big projects at work, wrapping up some artworks and fun decorating ideas at home, and I have been trying to squeeze in as much outside time as I can right now.  It is the most ideal weather right now, in my book, 50s and 60s in the mornings and 70s in the afternoon.  Walking, biking, and enjoying my fair city has been at the top of my agenda.

A Man’s Favorite {Applesauce Cake} 

1/2 cup crisco (I used margarine)

1 cup sugar

1 cup seedless raisins

1 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons hot water

(Optional: add about 3/4 cup of nuts walnuts or pecans)

Blend crisco, sugar, and egg thoroughly in one operation.  Add raisins and applesauce.  Then add the spices and salt with flour, and add in several portions.  Before the last of the flour is added, stir in the soda dissolved in hot water.  Beat well, pour into a greased loaf or tube pan and bake about 1/2 hour in a 350°.  (I found it to take about 1 hour to bake thoroughly, but test it with a knife, in the center, to see if it comes out clean).

Blueberry Peanut Butter Granola Bars

b.pb.granola

These granola bars are so good and simple to make.  I first made my own home made granola bars from a recipe in Parents magazine, and when I realized how easy it was and how much I was overpaying at the store (!) I started to figure out my own combinations.  This is my favorite one by far – it doesn’t last long around here. Read on for the easy recipe.

IMG_3342

These granola bars are sweetened and held together with honey, coconut oil, and some help from ground flax meal.

IMG_3343

Flatten them to your desired thickness.  Thicker bars will be chewier and thinner bars crunchier.  You could also simply crumble this to make granola to mix in with yogurt or eat as cereal.

IMG_3301

In other news, we have been having ridiculously beautiful weather around here lately.  The mornings are down-right chilly and the afternoons warm enough for tees and sometimes tanks.  I am soaking this up.

IMG_3320

On my afternoons and one day off in the week, we have been hitting up parks.  This fantastic park is in Urbandale.  While I couldn’t get my cautious toddler to walk out on this rope contraption, I sure loved it!

IMG_3340

I’ve been getting out on walks sans children – just me and the dog briskly walking down the block is one of the most gloriously quiet moments of solitude I have ever experienced.  It is downright religious, I am not joking y’all.  Endorphins are a wonderful thing.

IMG_3313

And of course, I am enjoying the lovely weather with these two cuties.  Hard to believe that Quinton is already almost 3 months!

Blueberry Peanut Butter Granola Bars

1. In a large bowl, combine: 4 cups oats, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup peanut butter powder, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, and 1 tablespoon ground flax meal.  

2. In a medium bowl combine: 1/2 cup honey, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/2 cup melted coconut oil.  Combine liquids with oat mixture and stir until well combined.

3.  Pour mixture into 9 x 13″ rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Press into rectangle that is about 1 inch thick.  Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  When done, remove from oven, allow to cool, and slice into bars.  Makes about 15 – 20 bars.

Bourbon Apple Pie

bourbon.apple.pieA looming due date creates all sorts of projects for me – cleaning, organizing, packing hospital bags, readying the baby room, and even baking pies.  Actually, it was not a looming due date that caused me to bake these two pies, but the return of family from out of town.  Eric’s sister and her family just arrived in town to become residents of the Des Moines area, so these were welcome back pies.

pie I did try something slightly different with my tried and true apple pie recipe though – the addition of bourbon and brown sugar in the filling.  See below for the recipe.  strawberry.rhubarbThe second pie was a strawberry rhubarb pie – one of my all time favorite flavor combinations.    The strawberries do an excellent job mellowing out the tart rhubarb.  I am ever so grateful to be able to buy reasonably priced and high quality fresh rhubarb now that we are back in Iowa.  The only way to actually get decent rhubarb in North Carolina was to buy it frozen.

 

Dad’s Pie Crust – makes a double crust for a pie

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
3 tablespoons ice cold water
3 tablespoons cold vodka

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  In a medium mixing bowl, use a pastry blender to cut in cold butter until pieces are coarse crumb size.

2.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice cold liquid at a time; gently toss with fork.  Push moistened dough to side of bowl.  Repeat using rest of liquid.  Dough will be dry, do NOT give into temptation to make dough moister by adding more liquid.  This will make your dough tough.  Divide dough in half; form into a ball.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to flatten ball of dough.  Roll dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.  Do not overwork the dough and do not allow dough to warm up.  Refrigerate while preparing filling.
4.  Carefully transfer dough to pie pan, by wrapping around a rolling pin, not allowing it to stretch.
5.  Transfer filling into pie pan.  Repeat step 3 and 4 for second ball of dough.  Gently drape second circle of dough over the filling.  Use your fingers to seal the edges of the dough.
6.  Optional: brush dough with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Cover edges in foil.  Place piece of foil on bottom rack of oven.  Place pie in preheated oven, on middle shelf.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400°. Reduce oven to 350°, remove foil, and bake another 35-45 minutes longer or till crust is golden and filling is bubbling.
7. Let cool on wire rack.

 

Bourbon Apple Pie Filling

Ingredients:
3 lbs of tart apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1. Peel and slice 3 lbs of tart apples.  Place in large mixing bowl.  Add lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and bourbon.  Mix well and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

S’mores Cupcakes

I dreamed up these bad boys in celebration of Eric’s birthday celebration with our families.  I made them late Saturday evening after a day-long celebration of kids’ birthdays at a friend’s house and then later at Chuck E. Cheese.  This was Greta’s first time at Chuck E. Cheese and she was not at all disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was a little anxious as she crawled around in the tunnels far above my head on her own.  I kept having nervous thoughts about what would happen if she decided she was claustrophobic or panicked – how on earth would I get her down?  Luckily, a friend of hers from school had an older sister there who helped her down when she did decide that she was not going to take the tunnel slide down.  Anyways, we both survived and after she finally tumbled into bed, I stayed up making these delicious cupcakes.  It was late and I was tired, hence the cell phone images.
To make the graham cracker base, I crushed graham crackers in a large bowl with a spoon.  I then layered them in the base of the cupcake liners.  Next time I am going to create layers of graham crackers within the cupcakes for more of the graham flavor and add chocolate chips of pieces of chocolate for an even better s’mores experience.
I poured the batter on top of the crushed graham crackers.  Even adding a layer of grahams on top of the batter could be very tasty.

After the cupcakes were finished baking, I added the marshmallows on top and returned them to the oven to soften.

For the large cupcakes, I used 2 marshmallows.

Once the marshmallows are soft, simply flatten them with a spoon.

Once they are flat, allow to cool or place them under the broiler to brown them.

We celebrated Eric’s birthday Saturday with our two families with a nice lunch and then these tasty treats.  It was a cold and down-pouring kind of day, though the two previous days were warm enough to wear tank tops and enjoy time outdoors.  Today we awoke to a snowy landscape – not the first time Eric has had a snowy birthday!  Such is spring in Iowa.

S’mores Cupcakes – makes about 2 dozen standard cupcakes, cake recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare cupcake pan with parchment cup liners.  Add crushed graham crackers to the bottom of each cupcake liner.  In a medium bowl combine: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder.

2. In a large mixing bowl or mixing stand beat: 3/4 cup butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add 2 cups sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes).  Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total).  Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 

3. Alternately add flour mixture and 1-1/2 cups milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.  Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more.  Drop batter into prepared cupcake liners.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Place large marshmallows on the tops of each cupcake and return to oven for 1-2 more minutes or until marshmallows are soft enough to flatten with a spoon.  To brown the tops of marshmallows, place under broiler for 30 seconds.  Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.