Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coca-Cola Cake Recipe and Other Thanksgiving Desserts

I don't know what it is, but I've had several requests today for my old-fashioned coca-cola cake recipe. It's one of those holiday favorites that is extremely simple to make and tasty. Another one, that's also great for a crowd, is the Texas sheet cake. It's a tried and true favorite that never disappoints, and it's also fast and easy to prepare.

Both of these cake recipes can be made a day ahead, so they are good time savers too. And they will please those Thanksgiving guests who really don't like pie!

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake

1 cup Coca-Cola
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Mix together Coca-Cola, cocoa and butter. Pour Coca-Cola mixture over dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Add buttermilk and eggs. Blend well. Add marshmallows. (This batter is thin and marshmallows will float.) Pour in prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. Let cool, then frost.

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts

Bring butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola to boiling, then pour over sugar. Add vanilla extract and nuts. Spread over cake while hot.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water

In bowl, mix flour, sour cream, salt, sugar, baking soda and eggs.

In a pan, bring to boil margarine, cocoa and water. Add boiled mixture to dry ingredients, mix well, and pour into a large sheet cake pan, 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches, that has been greased and floured well. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. This batter is very thin.

1 box confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
6 tablespoons milk

Mix sugar, vanilla extract and nuts in a pan. Boil margarine, milk and cocoa and add to dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Frost cake while cake is hot, as the frosting is very thick.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Carve Thanksgiving Turkey

For many of us, carving the Thanksgiving turkey is an ordeal. It can be a daunting task if you don't know some simple techniques, and if you aren't a surgeon by trade. Here are some videos that walk you through, step by step the proper way to carve the bird. You'll have the technique down in no time, and everyone will enjoy the turkey so much more!

Stay tuned for more of these holiday diy videos.

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Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe for Thanksgiving

Casseroles tend to be popular Thanksgiving items. They are easy to prepare, and may be made a day or two in advance, and then re-heated to save time on the big day. Among the more popular casseroles for Thanksgiving are the classic green bean casserole, various potato casseroles, and of course you must have a sweet potato casserole!

Here is a wonderful recipe that I know your family will enjoy this year, and in the many years ahead:

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

1 large can sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs

1/4 cup margarine, melted
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Mash potatoes; add salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, melted margarine and eggs. Put into small greased casserole. Mix topping ingredients well and sprinkle over top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Classic Green Bean Casserole

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without my Aunt's green bean casserole. Of course it is the classic recipe from the back of the French's French Fried Onions can, and we are never disappointed. If you don't have the recipe, here it is -

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 (9 oz. each) pkgs. frozen cut green beans, thawed*
1 1/3 cups FRENCH'S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions

1.MIX soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions.
2.BAKE at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot.
3.STIR. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

You may substitute 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) cut green beans, drained or 4 cups fresh, cooked cut green beans.

This classic green bean casserole recipe has been enjoyed by my family for more than 40 years, according to my aunt, and we hope that your family will like it too!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

More Boxed Cake Mix Recipes

Boxed cake mixes are a great time saver, and cost effective too. This time of year, you can stock up on boxed cake mixes at the holiday sales. I noticed that my local grocerty is offering buy one get one free on cake mixes, and savings on other baking ingredients. Don't forget to use your coupons for additional savings too!

With the holidays approaching you may want to prepare desserts and other baked goods for your family and house guests. Here are great boxed cake mix recipes that will have them coming back for more:

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine melted
2 medium tart apples, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half into a greased 8-in square baking dish. Top with apples.

Combine the sugar, nuts and cinnamon, sprinkle half over the apples. Top with remaining batter and sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 9 servings.

Rum Cake

Cake ingredients:
1 cup chopped nuts
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.

Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pan.

Combine all cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until completely smooth and thick.

Pour batter over the nuts. Bake for one hour. Cool. Invert onto a platter. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick or skewer. Spoon and brush glaze generously over top and sides of cake. Allow glaze to absorb thoroughly before serving.

Glaze ingredients:
1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rum

Melt butter in sauce pan over low heat. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. The family coming together and having, usually, the same menu year after year - and enjoying it. This year, keep that in mind. You don't have to get fancy or overly creative with this meal, keep it simple so that you can enjoy the time together with your family and friends. This is not the time to try something new - stick with the tried and true recipes of years gone by. Your grandmother's pumpkin pie, and your aunt's green bean casserole, etc.

Here are some more of our favorites, and you'll find lots more recipes at FoodNetwork.com, Epicurious.com, and FreeOnlineRecipes.net - some of my favorite places to find the best recipes.

Easy Gravy

Pan drippings from the turkey
Turkey or chicken stock or broth


Pour the turkey pan drippings into a 2 cup measuring cup and skim the fat off. Put about 1/4 cup of the fat into a saucepan and stir in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Cook briefly, do not let it burn. Add enough turkey or chicken broth to the drippings to make 2 cups of liquid. Pour the 2 cups of liquid into the flour/fat mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of gravy.

Whole Cranberry Sauce

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce package Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, rinsed and drained


Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2 1/4 cups.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Thanksgiving Recipes

I'm really starting to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving, and I can hardly wait to make the dinner next week. We are having 8 guests, each from a different part of the world! It should be an amazing dinner party! I'm taking a lot of time to plan the Thanksgiving dinner menu, because I want it to be very traditional. Here are a few of the recipes that I'm considering including in addition to the pumpkin pies and probably a sour cream apple pie:

Wild Rice Stuffing Recipe

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (4 ounce) package wild rice (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium-size carrots, sliced
2 medium-size celery stalks, sliced
1 medium-size onion, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups regular long-grain rice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In 4-quart saucepan over high heat, heat chicken broth, wild rice, salt, thyme, and 1 1/2 cups water to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove carrot mixture to bowl.

In same skillet in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, cook mushrooms until golden brown and all liquid evaporates.

Stir long-grain rice, carrot mixture, and mushrooms into wild rice; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Stir in chopped parsley. Use to stuff a 12- to 16-pound turkey. Or, spoon into serving bowl; keep warm.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 large sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick butter), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crunch Topping
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Boil potatoes until tender. Remove skins when cooled. Put into a large bowl and whip them until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased casserole and top with the Crunch Topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

2 to 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh or freeze-dried minced chives
2 to 4 tablespoons sour cream, optional
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, warmed
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel potatoes; cut into chunks and put in a saucepan. Rinse and drain. Cover potatoes with water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan with garlic and chives. Cook over low heat for about 1 minute. Drain and mash the potatoes; beat in sour cream, if using, and then add the butter mixture and milk until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serves 6.

Look for more Thanksgiving recipes tomorrow!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wine Picks for Thanksgiving Dinner

It's really not that difficult to choose a good wine pairing for the Thanksgiving dinner, since so many types of wine are great with turkey and the trimmings. Here are a few of my all time favorite wines that are truly wonderful pairings for Thanksgiving feasts!

Red Wines
  • Beaujolais Nouveau - this is the first wine of the harvest in the Beaujolais region in France, it comes to market each year on the 17th of November - just in time for Thanksgiving.
  • Pinot Noir - aromatic, light bodied and soft textured. A perfect counterpoint to the many flavors of the Thanksgiving table.
  • Zinfandel - hearty, full bodied and flavorful. Especially good with spicy foods.

White Wines

  • Sauvignon Blanc - I especially love those from New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc has a bright fruit acidity and a herbaceous character that complements the many spices in the stuffing and side dishes.
  • Riesling - From the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is a wine that will please even the most picky. The light floral aroma and its soft, fresh fruit flavors pair nicely with the range of seasonings the traditional Thanksgiving dinner offers. The hint of sweetness offered by most Rieslings gives this wine great appeal for many palates.

Rose Wines

  • Grenache -light, crisp, and flavorful, but won't overpower the meal. From California.
  • White Zinfandel -Slightly sweeter, light and fruity. Refreshing.

Sparkling Wines

A sparkling wine or champagne will please nearly anyone. The diverse flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner are completmented by a sparkling wine that is slightly sweet.

If you are on a tight budget, but want to serve wine at your Thanksgiving meal, try one of the boxed wines. They are low-priced, and some are exceptionally good quality for the price.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Cooking Thanksgiving Turkey

For those of you who are a bit intimidated by cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, here are some how-to videos to help you make your best turkey ever!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Recipes

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin is a versatile and healthy ingredient that I love to use this time of year for pies, quick pumpkin breads, puddings and even in stews and soups for a savory option.

I suggest using canned pumpkin where possible as it is much less messy, and easier to use than fresh; however, if you want fresh - go right ahead!

Here are a couple of our favorite pumpkin pie recipes, and don't forget the whipped cream:

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie Recipe

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust*

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine filling ingredients in order given; pour into pie crust. Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool; garnish, if desired, with whipped topping.

* If using shallow frozen pie crusts, this recipe makes two pies. To bake them, preheat cookie sheet while preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F, then bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until pie tests done.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Recipe

3 eggs, divided
1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1/4 ts ground ginger
1/8 ts ground cloves
2/3 cup karo light or dark syrup
2 tb butter, melted
1 ts vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 prepared deep dish pie crust*

Preheat oven to 350.

*If using a frozen pie crust, do not thaw; preheat a baking sheet in the oven and place the pie on the cookie sheet to bake.

Combine one egg, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Spread in the pie crust.

In medium bowl, beat remaining two eggs, slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 2/3 cup sugar, the butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack. DELICIOUS!!!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Creamy Corn Casserole Recipe for Thanksgiving

Ok, it's time for the Thanksgiving countdown! With only 16 days to go, we have to start planning the Thanksgiving Day menu, guest list, grocery lists, etc. Now no Thanksgiving meal is complete for me without my grandmother's special creamy corn casserole. It is the perfect side dish, of many, to offset the turkey. And, of course, corn is a traditional dish to serve for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's my grandmothers recipe. I hope you'll try it and enjoy it too (P.S. it is so simple and easy to make, you'll want to make it all the time!)

Creamy Corn Casserole Recipe

1/2 cup butter, melted (please don't use margarine - it's a holiday)
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (or a package of frozen corn kernels thawed)
1 (16 ounce) can cream style corn, undrained
1 (9 ounce) package corn muffin mix
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, mix together butter, sour cream and egg. Stir in cans of corn and corn muffin mix. Spoon mixture into buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes.

Add cheese and stir well. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until dish is slightly puffed.

Let me know if you liked it!

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Holiday Cookbooks

Looking for a nice gift for someone who enjoys cooking? Or, maybe you'd like to get some new ideas for your own kitchen. Here are some of my favorite cookbooks that are sure to please. Most people who enjoy cooking often collect cookbooks, too. So these and others are always a welcome holiday or pre-holiday gift.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Top Ten Comfort Foods - Recipes

(Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes)

It seems as if the news about the economy is just getting worse everyday, with unemployment numbers skyrocketing - it's simply depressing. No wonder everyone keeps asking me for "comfort food" recipes. Comfort foods appear to be a growing trend for now.

Here are my top ten comfort foods in no special order, with links to their recipes. I hope you will try them and get some enjoyment from these meals. The good news is that most comfort foods are also cost saving recipes, too!

  1. Meat Loaf with mashed potatoes
  2. Classic Macaroni and Cheese
  3. Bread Pudding
  4. Chicken and Dumplings
  5. Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic Bread
  6. Chicken and Rice Soup
  7. Chocolate Brownies
  8. Green Bean Casserole
  9. Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes
  10. Creamed Spinich
Of course there are lots of other comfort foods. Much of what we think of as comfort foods depends on from what culture we originate and the cuisine of that part of the world. However, most comfort foods are simple, easy, and great tasting. What is your favorite comfort food? Let me know if you like these.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

First Lady Obama Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Michelle Obama offered this shortbread cookie recipe to Parents.com as one of her family favorites. We tried it and it is not bad at all. You may enjoy making these cookies for the holidays. Shortbread cookies stay fresh tasting for several days, just wrap them well or keep them in a decorative tin.

I wonder if she'll be serving these to all the dignitaries at the White House?

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond liqueur)
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg white
Chopped nuts or dried fruit (optional)

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line a 17 x 12 x 1-inch baking pan with nonstick foil. In large bowl, cream together butter and 1-1/2 cups of the sugar.

2. Slowly add egg yolks, and beat well until smooth. Beat in Amaretto and zest.

3. Stir in flour and salt until combined.

4. Spread dough evenly into prepared pan, flattening as smoothly as possible.

5. Brush top of dough with egg white; sprinkle with nuts or fruit (if using) and with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

6. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes or until brown, turn off oven and allow cookies to sit in oven (with door ajar) for 15 minutes. Cut while slightly warm.


Try adding 1/2 cup of any combination of the following:

dried fruit
mini chocolate chips
mini white chocolate chips

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