Marie’s Red Velvet Cake

My aunt Marie is a fabulous baker. She can make anything and it will be as good as it looks. You see, she takes great pride in making sure her baked goods are pretty. This Red Velvet Cake is beautiful and is a great dessert for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. I made it as cupcakes last week, and the recipe turned out beautifully. I fancy myself a Red Velvet Cake connoisseur and this one is the BOMB. Perfect every time. Just follow the recipe carefully. Baking is really chemistry and the ingredients in this recipe proves it.

My recent attempts to remove artificial colors and ingredients gave me a twinge of guilt when I poured in the 2 T of red food coloring. Next time, I may leave it out. I suspect it will look more like a cappuccino. If I do it, I’ll have to rename it or nobody will like it…I considered calling it White Velvet Cake, but is won’t be white, and who would eat a Tan Velvet Cake? I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we always do. You just have to give Marie props for the recipe!

Marie’s Red Velvet Cake

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons red food coloring

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup(1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 (16oz) box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecan pieces, chopped

Pecan halves, for garnish(optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Tap out excess flour. If using cupcake tins, use cupcake liners.

Combine the buttermilk, vinegar, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. ( I tried to just mix in a 1 cup measuring cup and it nearly bubbled over). Into a second mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa , and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 3-4 minutes, until thickened.

Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the egg mixture, beating for at least 2-3 minutes after each addition. This is important.  When all of the ingredients have been added, beat for another 3-4 minutes on high speed. Mix in the red food coloring and vanilla until smooth and well mixed. Divide the batter between the two cake pans. This recipe yielded 2 dozen cupcakes. I spooned into the prepared lined cupcake pans, filling 2/3 of the way.

Bake on center rack in the oven for about 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean . If making cupcakes, bake for 20 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool COMPLETELY before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting. If you jump the gun, the frosting will melt and you’ll end of with a mess and be very sad after all this work.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on high speed for 3-4 minutes. , until completely combined and smooth. Add the pecan pieces and mix until just combined. Sometimes, I just spread the frosting before adding the pecans and just sprinkle the pecans liberally on the top only or the sides only of the cake. For the cupcakes, I just spread the plain frosting and used the pecans as a generous garnish.

If you are making the recipe as a cake, place the first layer on the cake plate and frost the layer avoiding the the edges by 1/2 inch. Place the second layer on top and frost top and sides carefully. Decorate with pecan halves if desired.

 

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Under My Roof

I remember all too well my parents quoting the “under my roof” saying. I’m pretty sure that they were looking forward to the day that they weren’t constantly enforcing their house rules. My hubs and I seem to spend in inordinate amount of time reminding our children of what our house rules and it gets exhausting.Clean up after yourself…clean out the car that we pay for and you are driving, don’t leave food in your rooms, bring down my silverware, no flammables in your room, no members of the opposite sex allowed upstairs, parents must be present at friends’ house for visits when opposite sexes will be present, eat breakfast( okay, this isn’t a house rule, just a good idea), be kind, don’t sass your momma or daddy, the list goes on and on…

Ironically, my parents seem at their happiest now when their brood of children, in-laws, and grandchildren are back under their roof. Of course, they aren’t enforcing rules anymore…So, while I treasure these teen parenting moments,( insert coughing fit), I’m hoping for a day that “under my roof” takes on a new meaning for me too.

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Margie’s Fried Dill Pickles

While I have never made these and have never had Margie’s either, I love me some fried pickles. Since I’ve never eaten anything from Margie’s kitchen that I didn’t like, I’m certain they are yummy. I also may use the same recipe to fry jalapeno slices…

Fried Dill Pickles

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon salt

sliced dill pickles

1/4  cup milk

1 cup self-rising flour

oil for frying

 

In shallow dish, combine egg, milk, and salt.

Put flour in another dish. Place pickle slices on paper towels to dry. Dip slices in egg mixture, coat with flour. Heat 1/4 inch oil in electric skillet to 375 degrees ( I don’t have one, I’ll substitute a cast iron skillet on medium heat). Fry pickles turning to lightly brown on each side. Drain well.

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Chicken Pot Pie

I think Paula Dean has given Southern food a bad name. The Southern food that I grew up on was not drenched in sour cream, mayonnaise, and cream of anything soup. The only time I remember cream of chicken soup was when I was sick and my Momma or Granny made it AS SOUP. They didn’t use it in Chicken Pot Pie, or noodles or chicken. If chicken pot pie is what you want, you’ll need a good working knowledge of how to make a white sauce!

This is not how my Momma makes Chicken Pot Pie. Sorry Vee. I have combined how my Momma made it and added a few time-saving tricks that do not affect the results. Before you read this, don’t have a hissy fit about the skin and the bone-in the chicken. They keep the meat moist! Also, my daughter doesn’t like chicken. She says she’s vegetarian, but not very strict about it. I made this and left out the chicken, but still used the chicken broth. I used more cream at the end and it was slap your momma good! I think I ate more of it than she did!

4 chicken breasts, bone in with skin.

1 onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

red potatoes, peeled(or unpeeled if your family prefers it that way) and cut into large pieces

4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 small container fresh mushrooms, cleaned and quartered, saute in separate skillet until tender.

green beans, I use frozen

broccoli, 1 head

butter 4 T

Chicken broth. about 3 cups

3 T flour

Pie Crust ( if you don’t have time to make homemade, use Pillsbury from the refrigerator section/NOT the frozen one).

Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle liberally with salt and fresh pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil and pop in oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. When chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, take out of oven and let stand to cool
off. Save the juice. We’ll use that for the sauce!

Saute onions and celery in 1 T butter until translucent. Add carrots and potatoes. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add chicken broth. Cook until vegetables are tender. Throw the green beans and broccoli in for just a couple of minutes.

While veges are cooking, debone chicken and break chicken into bite size pieces. Put in a large casserole dish. Salt and pepper to taste. When veges are finished, use a slotted spoon and fish them out. Put them on top of chicken. Salt and pepper this layer to taste. Top with cooked mushrooms. Keep the liquid from the veges at a simmer.

To start the white sauce, melt butter and add equal amount of flour. You can do this in microwave or stove top. Cook for just a little bit…not looking for a roux, just cook the flour taste out. Whisk this into cooking liquid. Add reserved chicken juice from roasting chicken breasts. Salt and pepper to taste. Add milk or cream to have enough to pour over the casserole. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, but still needs to be thickened.

Unroll pie crust and place over assembled pot pie. Sprinkle with celery seeds and dot with butter. Poke holes to vent the steam. If you prefer, you can cut the dough into strips and lay over instead. Just depends on the look you are after. If I use an oval or rectangle dish, I do the strips. If I use a round dish, then I just put the whole thing on there.

Bake at 375 until pastry is golden and browned.

 

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I Won’t Break These….

I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions. However, we all need to step back and re-evaluate our paths from time to time. One of the best ways to do that for me to look back to see where I’ve been.

Looking back 5 years:

  • I had just started/joined a new bible study/prayer group after a disappointing attempt at another one.
  • My children were just about to make the leap to adolescents.
  • I was still working in my own “field” part- time, and feeling a little burned out.
  • My husband had just asked me to help him relocate his office.

Back to the present:

  • I love my “Bible Study Girls”. Their presence in my life is nothing short of a God thing. We pray together, laugh together, and cry together. Thank you God.
  • Both of my children are in high school. My son has only one school semester left living at home full-time. While this is really weird, it is also a good thing. He is ready to go and I see his confidence grow as a young man every day. My daughter has big plans and I’m looking forward to standing beside her with only the direction that the Lord whispers for me to give.
  • I am now working full-time with my husband and it is working beautifully for us
  • We are surrounded by dear friends and family
  • The Lord spoke the Word to me to Write. He didn’t tell me where, but he sent me to a class to learn how to set up a blog. I will see where the writing thing takes me.
  • We have been blessed beyond measure with health and having enough. My minister would call this “margin”. This is the part that I am excited to open myself up in prayer for. We will not over schedule or over spend.

Our New Year celebration was the quietest yet. We had a basement full of bumbling teenage boys, a sweet dog getting as close to his human momma as physically possible, and a teenage girl spending the new year with good friends.

In lieu of a list of resolutions, I saw that one of my friends is using a “Three Words” plan. I kind of like it. The 3 words that came to my mind immediately…Prayer, Family, Service. So, I will try to keep my heart, eyes and ears open, and mouth closed a little more. I will celebrate the little things with my kids and husband. I will let those who are important to me that I appreciate them. I will wait for the Lord to send us the service that He wants us to work on. Amen.

Happy New Year friends! What 3 words will take you into 2013?

 

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