Winter’s last hurrah {pear nut torte}

Winter decided to have one last hurrah before allowing spring to show itself! I knew it was coming but wasn’t expecting any accumulation.  I thought it might just flurry a bit with a some sleet and rain.  Nope.  We now have about 4 inches of snow on the ground.  So what does one do with an unexpected snowfall?! We stayed in our jammies all day; we played games; J did some crafting; R did some racing; Ted did some filing; and I caught up on some chores, paid bills, & finally made it into the kitchen to make a pear nut torte.

pearspearspears

I have a bay window in my kitchen that allows for a wonderful view into the world.  I often go to these windows and peak out to see what’s going on and when I’m cooking I get rather distracted with these windows.  Today I saw a group of robins taking shelter under some bushes, searching for seeds; the brightest cardinal I have ever seen perched atop a street sign; snowflakes the size of my boys’ hands floating to the ground; and then a vast number of slightly smaller snowflakes, so numerous I felt I was in a snowglobe.  It was a beautiful day to be cooking in the kitchen!

pear nut torte

But fortunately I did not get too distracted with the serenity of the snowfall and got the pear nut torte baked!  I love how the pears cooked down in this recipe and how the pecans give it a little texture.  I didn’t add the raisins, just because I don’t particularly care for raisins in stuff like this.  The cake is absolutely delicious though.  My husband is eating his third piece right now!  Hopefully we’ll have some left for tomorrow – I just saw that schools are cancelled.  The boys will want some for dessert after lunch!

Pear Nut Torte

2 to 3 fresh winter pears (enough to make 2 1/2 cups)

1/2 c. butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1 c. raisins

Core the pears, but do not peel, and finely chop.  Cream butter and both sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add to creamed mixture and blend well.  Add chopped pears, nuts, and raisins.  Mix lightly but thoroughly.  Put into a greased and floured 2 qt. fluted tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes (check at 45 minutes, mine took less time) or until cake is done.  Cool a few minutes before putting on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

A simple but special treat {poppy seed cake}

A new soccer season started this week and this evening was our youngest’s first soccer game ever.  Our oldest has been playing soccer for years but it took a long time to convince our youngest to give it a shot.  This evening was amazing though!  He loved it.  He laughed.  He dribbled the ball.  He ran a mile (at least!).  This from the child whose favorite activities include drawing, dressing up, and creating things out of our recycling pile.  I thought this deserved a treat so I pulled out the cake I made this afternoon for dessert.  What a yummy ending to a special evening!

poppy seed cake recipe

This recipe has been on my fridge for months.  It’s on a little tiny square of newspaper Mema must have cut out many many years ago.  I was afraid it would get lost if I kept it with the other recipes but then it got lost on my fridge and I forgot about it.  That’s what happens to things I put on my fridge.  I should have known better!  I found it again recently when clearing the flyers and pictures off the door.  I realized that if I didn’t make it soon the recipe would get lost again so here it is!

poppy seeds

Fortunately, it was a very easy cake to make.  I had to make some assumptions because the recipe as typed in the newspaper doesn’t make everything clear (like what size container sour cream to add!?)  But it turned out great!  We ate it without any icing and it was delicious.  Tomorrow I think I’ll make a simple icing with powdered sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla for the rest of the cake.

poppy seed cake

Poppy Seed Cake

{clipped from a newspaper, submitted by Emily Mason}

‘Butter Batter’ cake mix

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. poppy seeds

3/4 c. oil

4 eggs

1 c. (8 oz. carton) sour cream

Mix all ingredients together.  Pour into a cake pan (oiled and floured) and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Note: make sure to oil and flour your pan;  I just sprayed my pan and the cake stuck a bit.

Enjoy!

Let the Holiday Season Begin! {Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies & Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake}

Rowan’s birthday is mid-September and I always feel that his birthday is the beginning of my holiday season.  First a birthday, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving with 3 niece/nephew birthdays thrown in around that time, then Jonas’ birthday, quickly followed by Christmas, and topped off with a New Year’s celebration.  I admit, this is my favorite time of the year but by New Year’s I’m done with the holidays and ready for a day (or a week!) at the spa!

This year, there is a severe peanut allergy in Rowan’s class.  He asked me to bring chocolate chip cookies for this birthday and with the allergy I cannot use pre-made cookie dough bought at the grocery store.  So why not try another one of Mema’s cookie recipes, right!?  Now, I am not the best at baking cookies.  In fact, other than no-bakes and pre-made cookie dough, I’m rather lousy at it.  I can successfully bake a cake or pie from scratch, I can make fantastic casseroles, I bake bread every week, but cookies are another story – they always flatten on me and become crispy.  But I’m always up for a challenge and thought I’d give it another go with the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe I found in Mema’s stash.  And what do you know… this one actually worked!  They are moist and delicious!  I was looking at this recipe and thought it looked like something that would come from a package so I checked my brown sugar, my bag of chocolate chips, and finally found where Mema got this recipe – there is an almost identical recipe on my butter crisco package.  I’m thinking maybe she got this off an older package of butter crisco (the recipe on my package calls for different kinds of chocolate chips and no pecans)?  Wherever she got the recipe, these are very very good!

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. butter crisco shortening

1 1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

2 T. milk

1 T. vanilla

1 egg

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. chopped pecans (optional – I omitted these with the nut allergy in Rowan’s class)

Mix together crisco, brown sugar, milk, & vanilla.  Add egg and mix in thoroughly.  Sift together flour, salt, & baking soda.  Add to wet mixture and mix.  Add chocolate chips and pecans.  Drop onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.  Yields 3 dozen cookies.

In addition to making cookies for Rowan’s class I also needed to make something for his birthday party the next day.  Of course he asked for a chocolate cake (big surprise!) so I used Mema’s “Chocolate Chip Cake” recipe, slathered it with a homemade chocolate butter cream frosting and topped it with some candles and we were ready for a party.  Oh my… very moist and delicious!  The boys ate it up and the adults came back for seconds.  One thing to note – the title of this recipe is quite deceiving – this is not a yellow cake with chocolate chips.  This is an extremely rich chocolate cake with chocolate chips in it so I am calling it a “Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake” – just so we know what we’re getting into here 🙂  Top it with chocolate frosting and you have made a little piece of heaven for any chocolate lover out there!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

1 Duncan Hines Butter Cake Mix

1 c. oil

1/4 c. water

1 small pkg. Jello chocolate instant pudding mix

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

6 oz. chocolate chips

1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Mix together cake mix, oil, water, pudding mix, eggs, & vanilla.  Add chocolate chips and chopped nuts.  Pour into a greased & floured bundt pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  Do not overbake.

So… happy birthday to Rowan and a big welcome to the holiday season!  I’m not quite ready for you yet but I think I can make do 🙂