Dawn Butler, Eggs and Pasta and Legumes, Vegetables

Cheesy Cauliflower Puff

1 package (4-ounces) cream cheese
12 ounces fresh cauliflower florets (or you can use a combination of broccoli and cauliflower, about 3 cups total)
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup biscuit mix
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Cut cream cheese into cubes. Place in a medium bowl to soften.
2. Cook cauliflower in microwave or on stovetop. Let stand 3-4 minutes to cool, then chop coarsely.
3. Combine grated cheese with cream cheese. Stir in biscuit mix and ricotta cheese until well blended and smooth.
4. Stir in cauliflower, eggs, and salt until well blended.
5. Coat 2 quart baking dish with spray; transfer mixture into dish. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.

Dawn Butler, Eggs and Pasta and Legumes, Vegetables

Tomato Bread Pudding

3 pounds plum tomatoes such as Roma, halved lengthwise
1-1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 head garlic, left whole (contains 10 to 12 cloves)
10 cups cubed (1-inch) country-style Italian bread (1 pound)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
2 cups coarsely grated chilled Italian Fontina (9 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish, 13 by 9 inches.

Toss tomatoes in a bowl with herbes de Provence, 1 tablespoon oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan.

Cut off and discard 1/4 inch from top of garlic head to expose cloves, then put on a sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in pan with tomatoes until tomatoes are browned but still juicy and garlic is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Cool garlic to warm, then force through a medium-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula, discarding skins. Reserve purée.

While garlic cooks, toss bread cubes in a large bowl with remaining oil until coated, then spread out in a large 4-sided sheet pan and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic purée, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cheeses. Transfer bread to baking dish, then pour egg mixture over bread and add tomatoes, pushing some down between bread cubes. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown in spots, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cake, Desserts, Elaine Walker

3-Layer Salted Caramel Apple Cake

Cake Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
4 cups unsweetened applesauce

Frosting Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup salted caramel sauce

Garnish:
salted caramel sauce
chopped peanuts

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the pans, tapping out any excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix on low for an additional 30 seconds to combine.
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
  10. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes.
  11. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and allow to cool completely.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together.
  2. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixtures comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and vanilla; mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. (It might seem like it won’t get to the fluffy point, but stick with it, it’ll get there!)
  6. Add the salted caramel sauce and continue mixing until combined and fluffy. (If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it reaches a fluffy consistency.)

Assemble the Cake: If any of the cake layers are domed on top, trim the top off to create flat surfaces. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1¼ cups of the frosting on top. Add the next layer and top with 1¼ cups of the frosting. Add the third layer on top and spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Return to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes prior to serving.

Store the cake in the refrigerator. Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Cake, Desserts, Elaine Walker

3-Layer Pistachio Cake

Frosting:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake:
1 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 whole egg
1 tablespoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups milk
3 eggs whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

Frosting Directions, Part 1:

  1. Mix sugar and flour together in a sauce pan and then whisk in milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thick and begins to boil (about 15 minutes start to finish, should be considerably thick).
  2. Pour into a bowl or Tupperware, cover with plastic wrap pressing it against the mixture, and then place in the fridge until no longer warm (if you leave it in overnight, let it come to room temperature).

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if using a dark colored pan, preheat to 325 degrees F).
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of 3 (8-inch) cake pans with shortening and then dust with flour.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Puree pistachios in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped and then take 2 tablespoons and add it to the dry ingredients.
  5. Continue to puree the rest of the nuts until it becomes a powder. Mix into the dry ingredients.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, whip the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the whole egg and the vanilla until just combined.
  7. In 3 batches, alternate mixing the dry ingredients and milk into the butter. Mix completely before adding each additional batch. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  8. In a separate mixing bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until it reaches soft peaks.
  9. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter until combined.
  10. Pour batter into 3 cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Frosting Directions, Part 2:

  1. Place cold frosting mixture in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on low speed using the paddle attachment.
  2. Add butter a tablespoon at a time and then cream cheese an ounce at a time.
    Turn up the speed and beat until smooth.
  3. Mix in the honey and vanilla until combined.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. Using a large serrated knife, cut off the tops of cakes to make them evenly flat.
  2. Place one cake round on a plate or cake platter and then frost the top of it.
  3. Top with another cake round and frost again.
  4. Add the last cake round and then add a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) to the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes and then frost the cake with the remaining frosting (save some of the frosting in a piping bag if you wish to decorate with frosting).
  6. Garnish with extra frosting, pistachios, and/or berries as desired.
  7. Store cake in the fridge until ready to serve.
Cake, Desserts, Elaine Walker

Strawberry Cake

Cake
2-1/2 cups sifted cake flour (Do not use all-purpose flour.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 pound fresh strawberries (to make 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree. See directions below.)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries (in the grocery store dried fruit aisle. Do not use the chewy/gummy dried strawberries. You need FREEZE-dried strawberries which grind into a powder.)
one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
salt, to taste

Strawberry Puree Directions:

  1. In a blender, puree 1 pound of strawberries. You should have a little over 1 cup.
  2. Stirring occasionally, simmer the puree over low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup.
  3. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. I always make the reduced puree the day before so it has plenty of time to cool down. I cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Use 1/2 cup in the cake. Discard any leftovers or spoon on ice cream/yogurt/add to smoothie.

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk just until combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  8. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.

Frosting Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if needed.

Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.

Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Alternatives
Sheet cake: Pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cupcakes: Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Makes 2 and 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

Beverages, Elaine Walker

Egg Nog

4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar

4 cups light cream
1 teaspoon rum extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil*. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.

Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

* If the eggs curdle, place the mixture in a bowl on top of a large bowl of ice water and beat rapidly with an electric mixture.

Reduced recipe for singles:
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

1 cup light cream
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice

Follow directions for main recipe above.

Cat food, Elaine Walker

Ground Beef Cat Food

1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water (divided)
1 tablespoon fat (exactly)

Fry ground beef until medium well.
Remove the ground beef, preserving 1 tablespoon of the fat. Discard rest of fat. Cool cooked beef in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water.
Add to the tablespoon of fat and blend well.
Pour into skillet.
Gradually stir in the 1 cup of water and bring just to a boil.
Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

When beef and broth are cool, put them in a blender and pulse on high for 15 seconds twice, resting at least 15 seconds between the two. Add more water if needed to reach the desired consistency (like baby food).

Spoon into baby food jars, only to 1/2 full, as it is high in fat. Makes about 10. Freeze what will not be eaten within a couple of days.

Cat food, Elaine Walker

Chicken Cat Food

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chicken fat drippings
1 cup and 1 tablespoon water, divided

Bake chicken thighs at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chicken fat. Pour mixture into a skillet or saucepan. Turn heat on medium high and whisk continuously. Gradually add in 1 cup of water. Heat until gravy just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

(Note: Do not put hot meat or liquid in the blender – it will cause it to short circuit.)

Blend the chicken with the gravy, pulsing on high for 15 seconds twice, resting about 15 seconds between pulses, until mixture reaches the consistency of baby food. Add more water if needed to reach the desired consistency. Spoon into 8 jars.

Refrigerate what can be eaten in a few days. Freeze the rest.

When serving, warm in microwave only to room temperature. (If refrigerated, it takes about 15 seconds.) Then add a small amount of warm water until the mixture has the same consistency as Gerber chicken baby food.

Dad, Dawn Butler, Mom, Salads

Green Salad with Blue Cheese and Pears

1/4 cup pear preserves
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 small glove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pear preserves
8 cups loosely packed Bibb and Romaine lettuce
2 Bartlett pears, chopped
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted in a skilled with a little sugar

Process the 1/4 cup preserves and the next five ingredients (vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper) in a blender and process for one minute. Gradually blend in the olive oil and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and gently stir in the 2 tablespoons of preserves.

Place the lettuce in a large serving bowl. Top with pears, blue cheese, and walnuts. Drizzle with the salad dressing.

Candy, Elaine Walker

Peanut Butter Fondant Parfait Cups

2 cups smooth natural peanut butter (like Stonewall Kitchen. You can substitute cashew butter or almond butter, if you prefer.)
1/2 cup coconut oil, organic
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (not imitation)

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the nut butter with the coconut oil. Stir in the pure maple syrup until smooth and well blended.

Spoon into mini muffin tins (paper lined) or baby food jars (Gerber 2.5 oz size). If using baby food jars, fill 1/3 full. Makes about 20.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

If desired, top with cream fondant and then chocolate glaze.

Cream Fondant:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a medium sauce pan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Clip on a candy thermometer and cook the syrup to 238F or soft-ball stage. Remove from heat and, without stirring or scraping, pour into a baking dish or pie plate. Without excess movement, place in refrigerator (with pot holder or towel underneath) and let cool.

When the bottom of the pan no longer feels warm to the touch, remove it from the refrigerator and stir the fondant by hand with the wooden spoon. (If you don’t wait long enough and the fondant is still warm when you start stirring, it will taste grainy. If you wait too long and the fondant is cold when you start stirring, it will be too hard to stir.) Continue stirring for 15 to 30 minutes, until the fondant becomes very thick. Spoon into muffin tins or baby food jars, creating a layer on top of peanut butter fudge. Fondant is very sweet, so this layer should be thinner than the peanut butter layer. (You may have some leftover.) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze:
7 ounces dark chocolate, melted (use high quality chocolate like Lindt)
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla. Spoon into muffin tins or baby food jars, creating a layer on top of the fondant. This layer should be about the same size as the fondant. Baby food jars will not be full.

Serve immediately or keep in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Can be served chilled (chocolate glaze will be hard) or, for a softer dessert, at room temperature (remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving).