Creamy Custard Ice Cream Base

Homemade ice cream without the pain of manually churning!   You may use this base for almost all of your favorite ice creams. I use it for chocolate, banana, butter pecan, peach, rocky road, strawberry… I use it for almost … Continue reading

Christmas Eve Lasagna

Christmas Eve Red Lasagna

Every Christmas Eve I prepare lasagna, chicken French, and¬†Cajun eggnog. Sure, I have a display of Christmas cutout cookies and red velvet cupcakes, but it isn’t Christmas Eve until the lasagna is out of the oven.This recipe yields a 2-3 … Continue reading

Better than Grandma’s Pie Crust

Recipe yields enough dough for two flaky buttery pie crusts. I usually double recipe, which yields enough dough for one pie and a 9″ x 13″ pan. This crust is great for pies, cobblers, dumplings, etc. Although I’m posting photos … Continue reading

Lauryn’s Original Ultimate Chocolate Cake

A true creation of love, that thoroughly tested my chemistry skills. A delicious piece of cake with my absolute favorite dessert item, champagne!

A true creation of love, that thoroughly tested my chemistry skills. A delicious piece of cake with my absolute favorite dessert item, champagne!

When it comes to cooking I am always creating my own recipes based upon my favorite flavor profiles, familial cooking styles, and seasonal ingredients. Baking on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult task, with too much chemistry involved for this home cook. When baking I typically utilize familial recipes and add my own twist. One Friday, this spring, I was feeling adventurous and decided to develop my own recipe for chocolate cake. To my surprise it only took me two tries to develop a finished product that was moist, chocolaty, and not dense. Here’s the recipe! I hope you enjoy!¬†

Ingredients for Cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup 2% or 1% milk

3 eggs (room temperature)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sour cream (full fat)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons espresso extract

2 cups chocolate chips or coarse chopped chocolate chunks tossed in flour

1 large box instant jello chocolate pudding mix

Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting

2 sticks softened salted butter

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons espresso extract

2-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half, add more by the tablespoon full as needed for desired consistency

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare 2 (two) 8×2 round cake pans or 1 (one) 9×13 pan by lining pan(s) with parchment paper then buttering or spraying with cooking spray and coating lightly with flour.

Sift cake flour, sugar cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, pudding mix, and salt into large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and espresso extract. With mixer on low add all wet ingredients to bowl containing dry ingredients. Then slowly add milk, scraping bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Slowly fold in chocolate chips or chunks, do not mix. Pour batter into cake pan(s) and bake 40 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool for at least 2 hours.

To prepare chocolate frosting beat butter until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, and espresso extract. Gradually add cocoa powder and heavy cream. Mix on low. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time. Mix on low and increase to medium speed once thoroughly incorporated. Add more heavy cream as needed to thin out frosting if it seems tooth pick. Store frosting in cold place until ready to use. Frost cake as you desire.

Chocolate cake shown with fresh whipped cream and vanilla custard. My recipe for homemade vanilla custard coming soon ;-)

Chocolate cake shown with fresh whipped cream and vanilla custard. My recipe for homemade vanilla custard coming soon ūüėČ

Potato Latkes (Pancakes)

Potato latkes with fresh sour cream and homemade apple sauce brings back wonderful childhood memories!   Ingredients¬† 2 lbs butter/yellow potatoes, peeled 3/4 cup chopped scallions 3 large eggs, beaten 2 tablespoons all purpose flour OR matzo meal 1.5 teaspoons … Continue reading

Low Country Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits. One of the quintessential low country dishes great for breakfast, brunch, or in my home, the perfect after work snack. Low country cooking is unpretentious, yet flavorful. It is representative of true American flavors! Low country refers … Continue reading

Creamy Baked Macaroni

BLOGGER’S NOTE: PHOTOS ARE NOT INCLUDED AT THIS TIME. I WANTED TO ENSURE THAT THE RECIPE WAS POSTED PRIOR TO THANKSGIVING. I WILL UPDATE POST WITH PHOTOS AFTER THANKSGIVING, IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS.

This recipe juxtaposes my two favorite versions of macaroni and cheese: classic U.S. southern style baked macaroni and West Indian macaroni pie. There are several imitations of macaroni pie on the internet and do not do the real thing justice. Both macaroni pie and southern style baked macaroni are staple on holidays and Sunday dinners often served along side a green vegetable such as callaloo, steamed cabbage, or collard greens and of course, stewed or fried fish and fried chicken! I like my baked macaroni a little spicy so I add finely chopped habanero pepper, but feel free to leave it out. What separates my baked macaroni from that bland stuff is all of the flavor, the creaminess, and richness. Note, I did not include the calorie/nutrition information here. Why not? Because it’s calorie free of course!

Seasoned Bechamel Sauce

3 cups evaporated milk (carnation or Pet; you may also use whole, 2% or 1% milk)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons ground/dry mustard

1 teaspoon white pepper

***optional***- 1 habanero pepper seeded and finely chopped OR 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce/hot sauce

Remaining Ingredients 

1 lb “elbow” macaroni or this for traditional style¬†

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt for boiling pasta

1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil for boiling pasta

2 eggs whisked (remove the white string with a knife FYI this makes your eggs taste and smell “fresh” or eggy)

2 cups (1 lb) shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup (1/4 lb)   shredded pecorino romano

1 cup (1/4 lb) crumbly cubes (coarse chop using food processor) mozzarella or muenster cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large heavy bottomed pot (such as the IMUSA castiron pot) melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour by the heaping tablespoon full whisking thoroughly and constantly before adding more flour. Be careful not to burn.

Once all flour is incorporated add milk slowly while constantly whisking.

Reduce temperature to medium-low and add garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, white pepper, and optional hot sauce or chopped habanero.

Cook for 5-7 minutes or until rather thick. Reduce stove temperature to low.

Take a cup full of bechamel sauce mixture and add it to bowl that contains 2 whisked eggs. Slowly pour cup of sauce into eggs, whisking constantly, as not to cook/scramble eggs. Pour egg mixture back into remaining bechamel sauce.

Add 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar and pecorino romano into bechamel sauce.

Boil pasta with salt and oil until al dente/cooked but firm (about 8-10 minutes).

Drain pasta reserving about 1/2 cup of water. While still hot, return pasta to pot it was boiled in and add the reserved pasta water. Set pot aside. Be careful not to return pot to hot eye of stove.

Pour cooked pasta into pot with bechamel sauce. Stir. Season with salt (approximately 1 teaspoon).

Pour 1/2 of macaroni mixture into well greased/buttered (you can use a cooking spray to reduce the calories, Ha! Ha!) casserole dish or pan. Sprinkle with crumbly cubes of mozzarella or muenster cheese. Add remaining macaroni mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown.

 

 

Midwest Sunday Dinner* (Four Recipes in One)

* Full disclosure: I am not from the Midwest. My mother was raised in OH, but even she doesn’t eat the typical ¬†“Midwest diet” of meat and potatoes. This is simply my interpretation of a meat and potatoes meal. Also, I never ever order meatloaf when dining out because nothing compares to this moist flavorful meatloaf!

Homemade meatloaf served with fresh snapped peas, glazed carrots, and cheesy garlic mashed potatoes. All recipes are included in this post.

Homemade meatloaf served with fresh snapped peas, glazed carrots, and cheesy garlic mashed potatoes. All recipes are included in this post.

 

HOMESTYLE MEATLOAF  Serves 8

3 lbs of meat loaf blend (equal parts ground chuck, ground pork, and ground veal) OR 2 lbs ground chuck and 1 lb ground pork OR 3 lbs ground turkey (not turkey breast alone, make sure ground turkey is mixed with dark meat for better color and flavor)

2 yellow onions pureed using food processor

2 bell peppers (preferably red), diced

3 cloves garlic minced

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon beef seasoning OR salt

2 large eggs, whisked

1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

3/4 cups favorite bbq sauce or light brown sugar, extra sauce or sugar to top before cooking

Optional- 1/2 cup 1% milk or 1/2 cup plain tomato sauce

Ingredients for meatloaf shown. The bbq sauce, Boss Sauce, is my family's company. I will post information about it soon! We are expanding our market. It's delicious!!

Ingredients for meatloaf shown. The bbq sauce, Boss Sauce, is my family’s company. I will post information about it soon! We are expanding our market. It’s delicious!!

Ingredients for Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients for Turkey Meatloaf. Use dark meat turkey for better color and flavor.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In large bowl place ground meat of your choice. Create a well in the center of meat.

Fill well with onions, peppers, and garlic.

Meatloaf

Liberally season meat with dry mustard, cinnamon, ground black pepper, and beef seasoning or salt.

Meatloaf

Mix meatloaf mixture with clean hands until seasoning is well incorporated.

Add eggs, bread crumbs, milk or tomato sauce, and bbq sauce or brown sugar.

Meatloaf

Mix meatloaf mixture for another 3 minutes or until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Meatloaf

Line a large glass dish (do not use a shallow dish) with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Place meatloaf into pan and shape into a loaf  using hands.

Meatloaf loaf

Top loaf with 2-3 tablespoons of bbq sauce, brown sugar or 3-4 strips of bacon.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes – 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Please note that while cooking the meatloaf will generate liquid. Drain this from pan. You can save this liquid to make a quick gravy.

Final Meatloaf

 

(CHEESY) GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

2.5 lbs butter potatoes (all purpose potatoes, not white potatoes), peeled and cut into quarters or eighths

1/4 cup sour cream

2 cups half and half

1 stick salted butter

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 tablespoon salt

Optional: 1/2 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese AND 1 cup shredded Muenster cheese

Mashed Potato Ingredients

Directions Serves 8

In large stock pot bring potatoes to boil in (salted) water. Once potatoes are tender (fall apart when fork is inserted) drained potatoes, but return them to same warm pot and return pot to the stove. Turn of the heat/eye.

Potatoes

 

Immediately, add stick of butter, and half and half. Begin to mash in pot using a masher. FYI NEVER put potatoes in the blender. the starch becomes glutenous.

Mashed Potatoes

Once potatoes are smooth add sour cream, white pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir until smooth and seasoning well incorporated. If too thick add more half and half (or another milk) by the tablespoon full. Top with parsley flakes and serve.

If making “Cheesy” add shredded pecorino romano and Muenster cheeses when adding seasonings. Then top with parsley flakes.

Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Cheese is optional)

Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Cheese is optional)

GLAZED CARROTS  Makes 8 cups

12 large carrots peeled

2 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Not shown: ground nutmeg, salt, ground and cayenne pepper

Not shown: ground nutmeg, salt, ground and cayenne pepper

Directions

Julienne carrots (find instructions here, you may also slice them on a mandolin)

Julienne Carrots

In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar. Add carrots to pan and coat with butter-sugar mixture. Liberally season carrots with ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and if using, cayenne pepper. Stir carrots until well coated.

Carrots

Turn heat down to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender, but not mushy.  Serve.

Carrots

 

FRESH STEAMED PEAS

4 cups fresh snapped peas

1 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable base OR 1/2 tablespoon salt AND 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons unsalted/salted butter

These are fresh peas! They taste 100 times better than canned or frozen.  Not shown: Ground dry mustard, butter, garlic powder or water

These are fresh peas! They taste 100 times better than canned or frozen.
Not shown: Ground dry mustard, butter, garlic powder or water

Directions

In 4 quart pot, melt butter over medium heat.

Add rinsed peas, seasoning, and water. Bring pot to boil for 3 minutes. Reduce temperature to low. Simmer on low for additional 3 minutes. Serve.

An easy Sunday dinner! A great meal for impromptu guests. This meal will serve 8 dinner guests,

An easy Sunday dinner! A great meal for impromptu guests. This meal will serve 8 dinner guests,

Super Lemony Lemon Coconut Cake

Lemon Coconut

This is a fairly easy recipe for a great Spring time dessert. I created this recipe Easter 2014 because every lemon cake recipe I’ve ever used was never lemony enough. Trust me, if you like that tart lemony bite, this cake has it. How? I use lemon oil!! Lemon oil is approximately $10 for 0.5 ounce and goes rancid rather quickly, so it is best to refrigerate it upon opening. This is a great recipe for cupcakes too. I simply sliced the tops off horizontally, topped with curd, replaced the top and frosted. Makes 24 standard sized cupcakes, 1 3 layer 9 in round cake, or 1/2 sheet cake. By the way, this cake recipe is amazingly moist!! Simply remove the lemon ingredients and you have a great yellow cake recipe.¬†

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes, Triple Chocolate Sheet Cake (recipe coming soon), hot crossed buns, homemade peanut butter eggs, etc.

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes, Triple Chocolate Sheet Cake (recipe coming soon), hot crossed buns with cinnamon butter, homemade peanut butter eggs, etc.

Ingredients for Basic Moist (Lemon) Yellow Cake*

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup milk in a 2 cup measuring cup, add enough vegetable oil to bring milk level to 1 1/3 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs room temperature

1/2 teaspoon lemon oil (use an eye dropper)

2 teaspoons lemon powder

2 teaspoons ground lemon zest

2 drops lemon food coloring

*Simply omit the lemon oil, lemon powder, ground lemon zest, AND yellow food coloring  for a very moist basic yellow cake

Lemon Oil, Ground Lemon Zest, and Lemon Powder

Lemon Oil, Ground Lemon Zest, and Lemon Powder

Ingredients for Lemon Curd Filling

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest OR 1 tablespoon ground lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 teaspoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon salted butter

Ingredients for Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 tablespoons ground lemon zest/finely shredded lemon zest

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1/2 cup softened salted butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon oil

5 cups confectionery sugar

Ingredients for Coconut  Coating

3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Optional- 3 drops food coloring of your choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Prepare three (3) 9 x 1.5-inch round pans OR 1/2 sheet pan by either spraying with cooking spray or cutting wax paper to fit bottom of pans (spray pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper)

In large mixing bowl combine cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well incorporated.

Add the milk/oil mixture and butter to dry ingredients. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. While beating add vanilla (and lemon oil, lemon powder, and ground lemon zest if making a lemon cake).

Add eggs one at a time and continue beating on medium an additional 2-3 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of (3) 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

          While cake is baking make lemon curd. In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat add water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice,corn starch, and salt. Whisk ingredients until well incorporated. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Reduce temperature to low and remove pan from heat. Stir in butter and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. FYI the curd will be a pale yellow color. If you desire a more intense yellow color then add a drop or two of yellow food coloring.

Cool cake on wire rack for 15-20 minutes or until cool.

For frosting, mix cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Once well blended add confectionery sugar one cup at a time, adding next cup once the previous cup is completely incorporated. Add lemon zest, powder, and oil. Mix/blend an additional minute. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

When ready to assemble, place curd between cake layers. Frost cake. Immediately, mix coconut and food coloring. Pat coconut evenly over cake while icing is still wet. Cover/store cake appropriately.

Shredded Sweetened Coconut

Colored Coconut