Rum Cake with Pecans

nuts on topCake and rum… a happy pairing. We brought this to a dinner party last night and it was a big hit. Perfect summer dessert.
Although this recipe does use rum, the alcohol is cooked out of the cake and the glaze that covers it. So the entire family may enjoy this. And I do mean enjoy. This is an easy cake to put together. Then after it cools, you make a simple glaze and gently start pouring it over the cake. Several times until it soaks into the cake for a very moist dessert.

rum cakeIngredients for Rum Cake
1 package yellow, white or vanilla cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil
1/2 cup dark rum – 80 proof
1 cup chopped pecans or nut of choice

Directions for Rum Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Spray or grease the bottom of a bundt cake pan
Chop nuts and sprinkle in the bottom of the cake pan.
Mix the rest of the cake ingredients together and beat on medium for two minutes.
Pour over the nuts into the pan.

Bake 45 – 50 minutes. Let cool
When the cake has cooled – 10 – 15 minutes, tip it over onto a serving plate so that the nuts are on the top.
Use a sharp toothpick or fork and poke holes all over the top and sides of the cake.
Make the glaze and pour slowly over the cake. Let it sit and then spoon more glaze onto the cake. Repeat until it is all absorbed.
spoon glaze
Ingredients for rum glaze
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup rum.
Heat in a pan on the stove and boil for a minute or two to thicken the glaze. Begin to spoon onto the cake right away. If you like, save a little glaze to drizzle over the cake before serving.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. garnish

Lemon Slice Cookies

lemon slices3Crave lemon? This cookie would be perfect any time of the year, but I made them with the appropriate Christmas colors just for you. They are basically a shortbread cookie – rolled in colored sugar, frozen, sliced, baked, then frosted with more lemon icing.
Delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

I got the basic recipe from the November 2015 Taste of Home, but their recipe didn’t work out. The shortbread never got beyond crumbles. So I tweaked the ingredients and then moved ahead. They are delicious. Cannot wait to have them on my tray of Christmas goodies.
They only make about 18 cookies, so you might want to double the recipe, which I did. The basic measurements below are for the single batch. But when you discount the ones you eat raw, and then freshly baked and then the ones you have to taste to see if the icing is right… make a double batch.
lemon slices2
Lemon Slices
1 cup butter (no margarine)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 TBS lemon peel
1 1/4 all purpose flour
1 egg
Colored sugars or sprinkles

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 TBS lemon juice
Directions for Lemon Slices
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer. Add the other ingredients, except for the colored sugars.

Roll out a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap.
Dump the dough on the sheet of paper and then form the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inched in diameter.
Once formed into a log, sprinkle the sugar over the dough and cover all sides.
Freeze the dough an hour or longer.

To bake – preheat oven to 375 degrees
Slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices and set on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 10 – 12 minutes until brown around the edges.
For icing, mix with a fork in a small bowl. Spread onto the warm cookies and sprinkle with more sugars.

Cool and share with friends.

Gingered Up Gingerbread Muffins

ginger muffins with ginger

Weekends are the time to bake, right? A dessert or a breakfast treat to enjoy as a family. When my kids were little, I made a gingerbread dessert that was delightful on it’s own. Sort of a sweet, chewy cake like creation. When we added ice cream or a little cream cheese-orange frosting it became more amazing and more dessert-like.

I started getting serious about ginger a few years ago and found that cardamom was a delightful pairing. And to complete the dance, I added candied ginger. You can find this treat in the health food section of the grocery store. I like to munch on a piece or two just to clear my head. But you can add it to muffins and these amazing cookies (previous blog post)for a chewy surprise. You know how chocolate chips really make those cookies? Adding candied ginger is that added embellishment that makes you search for that extra pop of flavor. They are usually dipped in sugar which keeps them from sticking together in a pile of ginger gooeyness.
bite 2

If you cannot find candied ginger, these will still be far better than any other gingerbread muffin you have tried. The ramped up spices ensure that you will know this isn’t some whimpy tasteless ball of dough. Don’t you hate it when something looks so tempting at the store and in a weak moment you buy it and then when you get it home you realize it’s horrible. Tasteless. I rarely buy bakery items because of this. No worries, that won’t happen with these gingerbread muffins.
gingerbread header
Gingered Up Gingerbread Muffins Ingredients
Makes 12 – 14
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour (a mix of AP and WW pastry works well.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBS ginger (Yes! a tablespoon)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS cardamom
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 12 muffin cups or use paper wrappers.
Sift the spices and dry ingredients together. (Really, do sift the spices to get the lumps out.)
Pour boiling water over the butter and mix gently.
Add brown sugar, molasses and egg. Whisk gently or it will splash all over you.
Add the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a mixer until blended.
Add the candied ginger last and blend by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. The batter will be thin, but don’t add more flour or you will ruin the texture.
Bake about 12 – 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

I keep some on the freezer for holiday visits from my grandkids and they are a favorite.
bite 1
If you want to call them cupcakes, you will need to add a bit of frosting. Check this recipe for Orange cream cheese frosting.

Share with friends, or freeze a few for another time. This is a perfect weekend treat.

Lessons Learned from My Weekend Flops

on paper

peanut butter barIn my ongoing quest to eat healthier I have uncovered two of the worst recipes out there. At least two that I have tried. I’m certain there are other clunkers to be found, if I just keep looking.

The first was called “Chunky Monkey Muffins” from I adore that site and often use it for inspiration. Such a clever title. This recipe said that it was vegan and gluten free. While my diet doesn’t require either vegan or gluten free, I thought it would be a great one to try for my grown family with all their dietary needs.
The second was supposed to be a high protein breakfast bar. But first to the muffin mess.
chocolate banana muffins
As for me? I’m just trying to limit the sugar in my diet. I’ll eat meat happily, and eggs and bread. But I digress…
I was drawn to the recipe, in addition to the cute name, because it calls for two ripe bananas and I seem to have a steady supply of overripe bananas. (Our store had a sign for a while asking us not to break up “bunches of bananas,” so I end up bringing home huge bunches of bananas that seem to become overripe in the car ride home. They have removed the sign, but I still feel as if a produce thug is ready to jump out of the apple bin and pounce on me when I tear a banana family apart. Guilt, my ever present companion.)
This recipe also used dates with the bananas. No problem, I keep dates on hand because my chunky monkey hubby eats them like candy. No other sugar required and they were quite sweet. That was their saving grace.
There was one ingredient that I didn’t have – palm shortening. This was in addition to coconut oil. Since I didn’t have that I swapped out butter. (I know that’s not vegan, but they weren’t coming here this weekend. When push comes to shove, there is only so far I will tread into vegan territory.)

The top of the muffin was supposed to be sprinkled with chocolate chips and walnuts. In an effort to be good (which goes against my very nature!) I skipped the chips and added unsweetened coconut.
The resulting muffins? At first glance, I noticed that they sank in the middle. Not a confident lot, those muffins. The recipe called for baking soda and they must have meant baking powder which would have given them a bit of lift.

But that was only the beginning of their troubles. The tops of the muffins were flavorful with the chocolate/banana/walnut combo. But when you hit the middle and bottom you were treated to an oil well. Literally. Oil oozed out of the muffin papers. The bottom of each muffin looked like an oil spill in the ocean. Dark and murky. Not something to savor with morning coffee.
greasy bottom

Will I try the recipe again? You betcha! I’m the person who tips my hairdresser even after I’ve gotten another horrid haircut.
But I’ll add real flour, an egg and some oats. And cut the oil at least by half. But I won’t serve them to my vegan/GF family members. Stay tuned.
peanut butter bar

The next experiment was from a book called 500 Low-carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, published in 2002. The crazy thing is that I have no notion of how it got on my cookbook shelf. I have dozens and dozens of cookbooks, which I read, study and mark up. But this one is unmarked, although a bit yellow from age. A mystery! In spite of the fact that it could have been left by some outer space demon, I read through it and decided to try “Kathy’s Peanut Butter Protein Bars.” Sounds perfect for a busy work morning. A make ahead bar that you can devour and be on your way.

My first clue should have been that it was “Kathy’s” recipe. Not Dana’s, the cookbook author. She said it was a reader, but reader of what? Or whom?
peant butter yuk

But I am a succor for peanut butter, so I pressed on – literally one night about 10 pm. This one called for peanut butter, cream cheese, butter and gobs of protein powder. Seriously 1 and 3/4 cups of it. I have vanilla protein powder that’s flavored with Stevia, so I thought that would be good.
After mixing this crumbly mess in a bowl with a very heavy wooden spoon, you then press it into a pan and let it chill.
Chilling did not save this. It was crumbly and way too sweet, even though I didn’t add in the recommended extra 2 TBS of Splenda. Two tablespoons? And no one really uses Splenda anymore do they? It would have been utterly inedible with any more sweetener.
chocolate save
Ken and I both choked down a piece in the morning…with a lot of coffee. It was wretched. The next day, I thought I could save it by making a bit of chocolate with coconut oil, unsweetened chocolate and Stevia. I heated it, poured it on and let it chill. No save grace. Ken mumbled something about “just stopping for a breakfast sandwich” at a fast food joint.
I scraped the chocolate off and ate just that. Zoe the dog was the only one who was interested in the crumbly bottom. She a succor for peanut butter.

Zoe has the best job

Zoe has the best job

save or notI will continue to search for a high protein, low sugar breakfast bar. But not one that adds butter and cream cheese to peanut butter. What was I thinking? Now to find out who left this cookbook in my shelves…