Oatmeal Cake

This oatmeal cake is similar to one that I have already posted but it is richer version and perfect for a family picnic, BBQ, or potluck party. I like to make cakes that I can bake in a 9 x 13 inch pan and then cut pieces easily as guests are ready for dessert. This cake is also easy to transport to a party.

1 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
½ cup shortening or butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup raisins (optional)

Pour boiling water over oatmeal and let stand while creaming together shortening, sugars, and eggs.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add flour mixture and oatmeal mixture together and add raisins if desired.

Pour into a 9” x 13” greased baking pan that will be able to go under the broiler later. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Check for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. Take the cake from the oven and spread with icing. Place cake under broiler until icing bubbles. Watch carefully.

Icing:

¾ cup butter
¼ cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook butter, milk and brown sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coconut, nuts and vanilla to the mixture. Add nuts, coconut, and vanilla to the boiled mixture above. Spread icing over hot cake.

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Strawberry Shortcake Ideas

At the height of strawberry season, we love to make strawberry shortcakes. Here are a few ideas to make them simply.

1) You can make the shortcakes from scratch with a simple recipe and one of my favorite recipes is Martha Stewart’s from her Martha Bakes series: http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/classic-strawberry-shortcake/
Any extra shortcakes can be frozen or refrigerated and used the next day.

2) One can also purchase the Pillsbury refrigerated buttermilk biscuits and bake those. Split them in half and add your sliced, lightly sugared strawberries.

3) Another option is to purchase the best shortcakes that you can find in your grocery or bakery.

1-2 baskets strawberries
~1 Tablespoon sugar
~1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
6 shortcakes (see above)
Whipped cream

Slice half of the fresh strawberries and add a touch of sugar and lemon juice (optional). Let the strawberries sit for at least 30 minutes to soften. Cut the prepared biscuits in half and add the sliced, softened strawberries to the bottom of the shortcake. Add whipped cream of choice. Place the top of the biscuit gently over the softened strawberries and add fresh halved berries around the shortcake.

Serves six

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Chicken Marbella made easier

Chicken Marbella was published in “The Silver Palate Cookbook” years ago. It remains popular. I have modified the recipe to make it even easier. Also, this recipe serves 2-4 people instead of 10 or more. Do not be put off by the plums because they absorb the sauce and are absolutely delicious.

1 chicken (broiler-fryer) 2 1/2 lbs., cut into serving pieces or use your favorite pieces to total 2 ½ lbs.
2 cloves of shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon oregano
~½ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
~½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ – ½ cup pitted prunes (plums)
2 Tablespoons Spanish green olives
2 Tablespoons capers with some of the juice
2 bay leaves

¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup+ white wine

2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the chicken pieces, shallots, oregano, pepper and salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers, and juice, and bay leaves in a large plastic sealable bag and mix well. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour the white wine around the chicken pieces.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes approximately basting with pan juices every 15 minutes. Chicken is done when the thigh yields yellow juice when pricked with a fork.

Transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers with a slotted spoon to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with cilantro. Place remaining juice in a gravy bowl and serve with the chicken.

Serve with vegetable of choice. Side dish ideas would be rosemary potatoes and sautéed mushroom and onions.

~ 4 servings

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Buttermilk Pork Chops

A friend of ours gave us this recipe. This is her favorite way to cook pork chops. This recipe results in tasty and juicy pork chops.

Four 1-inch bone-in pork rib chops
1 quart buttermilk
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowel or shallow pan, place the pork chops and cover them with the buttermilk. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the pork chops and pat them dry. Season the chops with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about three minutes on one side and then one minute on the other side. Be careful not to burn the chops. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for l0 minutes (or less) until the instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 135 degrees F. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

Serves 4

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Italian Butter Bean Salad

I use butter beans in this recipe but other beans (black beans, navy beans etc.) work well also.  This is a good and delicious way to use leftover beans from the baked bean recipe published in April.

5-6 cups baked butter beans
¼ cup vinaigrette (see below)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, grated
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt and ~1/4 teaspoon black pepper to taste.

Combine the above ingredients and taste for seasoning.

Serves 6 to 8 as side

Vinaigrette: (from my blog under Sauces, March 30, 2011)

1 shallot, finely diced (optional)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil or combination salad and olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine shallots, mustard and vinegar. Whisk in oil slowly, especially at first.

This makes approximately ¾ cup of vinaigrette and can easily be double.

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Baked Beans

There are many techniques for cooking dried beans. I use this method for dried butter beans but it can be used for black beans, cannellini beans, or Great Northern beans.

1 pound dried butter beans or other of your choice
1 large clove shallot, chopped
1 spring fresh sage
½ – 1 teaspoon salt
Olive Oil (1 Tablespoon plus more to drizzle at end)
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the beans and remove debris. Place beans in a bowl and add cold water to cover them by 2 or more inches. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit.

Drain the beans and place them in an ovenproof casserole that has a lid. Add fresh water to cover by 1 – 1½ inches. Add shallots, sage, 1 Tablespoon olive oil and cover. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

Place casserole in the oven and cook the beans until they are tender. This timing will depend on the size and the type of bean you are cooking. Cook approximately 45 – 60 minutes (or more if needed). Check beans for tenderness by eating 1 or two beans from different locations in the pot.

Add salt when the beans are tender and cook 5 minutes more. Drain the beans. Serve warm or at room temperature adding extra olive oil and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serves 10 – 12 people as a side

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Potato, Green Bean, and Mushroom Salad (Easter Salad)

This recipe is excellent and worth the effort. We often make it during Springtime especially for an Easter Dinner celebration. You just need a ham or lamb chops and you have a meal. The salad has potatoes, mushrooms, green beans, and baby greens. Just add bread and you have a wonderful dinner.

Dressing:

4 oz. pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup chopped shallots
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon

Salad:

8 small red-skinned potatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
7 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, stems trimmed (or other mushroom like cremini)
8 oz. fresh oyster mushrooms

12 oz. haricots verts or other green beans, trimmed
16 cups assorted baby greens
2 large heads Belgian endive, sliced

Dressing: Cook chopped bacon or pancetta in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and drain. Add chopped shallots and dried thyme to drippings in skillet and sauté ~ 2 minutes. Add white wine vinegar and powdered saffron. Remove skillet from heat. Whisk in olive oil and chopped tarragon. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Salad: Place potato wedges in a medium bowl. Add mushrooms in another bowl. Pour ¼ of dressing over each and toss to coat. Season potatoes and mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place mushrooms in a single layer on another baking sheet. Let the potatoes and mushrooms stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Cooks beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisply tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. Drain and refresh the beans under cold water. Drain well.

Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Roast potatoes wedges until brown and crisp, (about 40 minutes) turning once. Roast the mushrooms until brown and crisp, (about 15 minutes) turning once.

Combine the warm potatoes, mushrooms, green beans, assorted baby greens, and sliced Belgian endive in a large bowl. Toss salad with enough remaining dressing to coat completely. Sprinkle the salad with cooked bacon (or pancetta).

Serves 8

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