Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Velvet Cake Balls "hugged by" Hershey's Hugs

I tried making Red Velvet Cake Balls last year and I completely failed! I don't know all where I went wrong but they were hard as a rock and tasted terrible! I had a friend who recently made them and said they were a big hit so I decided I'd try again. I found a recipe on this really cute recipe blog and decided to try again. Well, let me tell you, this time was a success and these cake balls are SCRUMPTIOUS (Lamar says they are decadent). :) Here's the recipe:

Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix (you will need vegetable oil and 3 eggs).
1 1/2 cups of cream cheese frosting or 16 oz. can of cream cheese frosting.
I used the Cake Artisan's recipe for the can find it here. I halfed the recipe and still had some left over.
2 1/2 bags Hershey's Hugs (I bought 2 and that wasn't quite enough...I still had 2 balls left...I ended up melting a Hershey bar and some Dove milk chocolate hearts for those 2 balls and they were GREAT, too!).
Parchment or wax paper (I used parchment).

Bake the cake according to package directions.

While cake is baking, make the cream cheese icing. This icing reminded me of my Granny's icing. When I was 10 years old, Granny asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her a tub of cream cheese icing. She laughed but I was serious and that is what I got for my 10th birthday. The second I tasted this icing, I thought of Granny.

After the cake has completely cooled, crumble it up into pieces in a large bowl and mix 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese icing. Okay, this is where I realized I went wrong last time. I had trouble getting all the icing mixed in and didn't know what the consistency was supposed to be like. I didn't stir them enough last time and the consistency was all wrong. You have to really put a lot of elbow grease into this...stir hard until it's all mixed in and has the consistency of the picture above. I actually had Lamar stir it for me. It's good exercise! :) Also, I don't like canned icing and used the canned last time although after trying these, I think they'd still be really good even with canned icing. The next step is to roll the cake into balls (my balls were probably 2 inches around) and put them onto parchment paper in a 9x13 inch pan (a bigger pan wouldn't fit in our freezer).

Next, freeze the balls for 2 hours. This is another area where I went wrong last time...I did not freeze the balls before I put them in the melted chocolate. This is SO important because it holds the balls together when you are dipping them in the melted chocolate. Also, the chocolate hardens faster after dipping.

After the balls are frozen, unwrap the Hugs (I did one pkg. at a time) and melt in the microwave. I melted for 1 minute, stirred, and then put them back in for another 40 seconds, stirred, and they were ready to be dipped.
I poked a toothpick through the ball and covered it in the melted Hugs.
Last time, the balls fell apart completely when I tried to dip them in the white chocolate bark (another thing I did different last time). I think the reason they fell apart is because I hadn't stirred them enough so they were too crumbly and I didn't freeze them. It was easy this time!
I think it was so neat how the chocolate got hard so fast. I ended up using Hershey's Hugs because my friend used Hershey's white chocolate. I am a Hershey's girl and knew how wrong my balls turned out last time so I decided I'd use what she did. Well, our Kroger didn't have those so I got the Nestle white chocolate chips. When Mar and I were walking down the candy aisle at the store (we always have to get him Dove dark chocolate) I saw those Hershey Hugs and knew they'd be delicious on the cake balls so I put the Nestle back. How can you go wrong with Hugs?! :) You can't!
I think these look pretty...I kept imagining them with a white chocolate monogram on them. Good idea for a shower or something.

There you have it! Absolutely delicious!!!
Oh, the recipe made 33 balls.
If you want them cold, you can put them back in the refrigerator. They are really good cold!
One more thing: I didn't realize until a few years ago that red velvet cake is actually chocolate cake with red food coloring. I wouldn't try it before that because I didn't think red cake looked like it would taste good (I also had an image in my mind of that armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias and it looked really gross). :) When I found out it was just chocolate cake with red food coloring, I didn't hesitate at all to try it and LOVED it!! My favorite thing about red velvet cake is the cream cheese icing that usually accompanies it. I have heard so many people say they don't like red velvet cake but they like chocolate cake. Maybe they are like I used to be and don't realize it's just chocolate cake or maybe they don't like the cream cheese icing. Anyway, I'm so glad I discovered red velvet's my absolute favorite. I was missing out for years!!! :)
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

This is my absolute favorite chicken spaghetti. Lamar and Macy LOVE it!!! It's so so good!! The funny thing is that I got the recipe out of a low fat cookbook. The cookbook has the best recipes in it, other than the low fat part, so I just exchange all the low fat for the real thing and all the food is delicious!!! Mar and I always make this together which makes cooking a lot more fun! :)

2 small chickens (I buy the Rotisserie chickens from Wal-Mart or Kroger)
16 oz. spaghetti noodles
1 box of chicken broth (I forgot to look and see how many ounces it was...just buy the box that's big enough to cook the spaghetti in. If there's not enough broth just add water and it will still taste good...I've done it a lot).
1/2 cup chopped onions (I buy the chopped frozen ones).
1 chopped green bell pepper
3 stalks chopped celery
16 oz. Velveeta cup up
2 cans Rotel (I use mild...the recipe is still kind of spicy even using the mild)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz chopped mushrooms (I always buy the fresh).
1/2 stick of butter (to saute veggies in).

Cook spaghetti noodles in chicken broth. While spaghetti is cooking, pull chicken off of the bones and chop up into bite size pieces. Saute mushrooms, celery, onions, and green bell pepper in 1/2 stick butter. Put spaghetti and veggies in a big pot. Stir in chicken, Velveeta, soups, and Rotel. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Pour into deep 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Cooking the spaghetti and the veggies. By the time the spaghetti is done, it has soaked up all the don't even have to drain it.

Adding the Velveeta.

Voila! :)
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Red Velvet Cake.....Paula Deen Style! :)

Ingredients for cake:
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter at room temperature (I used unsalted)
2 eggs
2 tbs. cocoa powder
2 ounces flavorless red food coloring (I used 1 oz)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs. vinegar
Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 3 (8 inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for icing:
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened (I used salted)
1 cup melted marshmallows (I used 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream)
1 lb. box confectioner's sugar
1 cup shredded coconut (didn't do this)
1 cup chopped pecans (didn't do this)
Blend cream cheese and butter together. Add marshmallows and sugar and blend. Fold in coconut and nuts. Spread between the layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.
What I did differently: I didn't sift the flour because I don't have a sifter. I was sure to use cake flour, though. Also, I creamed the butter and sugar and then after that, just added all the ingredients. I didn't do all of that mixing in different bowls except for the baking soda and vinegar because that's supposedly important. I only used 1 oz. of food coloring. I also used a 9x13 inch pan. I like inside pieces of cake and you don't get as many inside pieces using smaller round pans. I cooked for 45 mins. and it was perfect. I also didn't use nuts or coconut because I don't like the texture or coconut and don't like nuts unless they're by themselves. Oh, and I melted the marshmallow cream for about 15 seconds in the microwave which made it much easier to get out.

The sweet little princess helped me. She actually was playing with Play-doh at the table and baking her own "cake". :) She cooked us "dinner", too. :)

I only used 1 oz of red food coloring and it was plenty red for me.

The icing! YUM!!!

Enjoying the icing!! Rosy kept asking me for more.

I got the recipe from the food network. I read all the comments and took notes. One lady said to be sure and wear an apron because you would no doubt get red on you. I thought there was no way I'd get red on me (I'm too careful for that). Well, I got red all over me!! That lady was right! I'll know next time!!! It happened when I was blending everything. I washed my sweatshirt right away so all the red came out. You can see the red on the recipe, too! :) Some of the other commenters said to use 1/2 pkg. of vanilla pudding or 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce to make the cake more moist. I didn't do this because I wanted to try it the regular way first just to see. I may want to add pudding next time. A cake just can't be too moist for me. :) I also got the idea for the marshmallow cream from the comments. Lots of people said the marshmallows were too difficult to work with. I got the idea to change the food coloring from 2 oz to 1 oz from a commenter also. Someone said they could taste the food coloring so I made sure the food coloring I got was flavorless. I couldn't taste the food coloring at all.

Here's the cake out of the oven...plenty red for me.
And, with the icing.

My sweet niece gave this cake a thumbs up!!! :) I give it a thumbs up, too!! It was really good!!! The only problem is now I have a HUGE temptation sitting in my kitchen. I know I'll eat a piece every day until it's gone. I'm going to have to bring it to my mom's tonight and share. :)
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shanny's Hot Buttered Rum Apple Cider

Okay, so we went over to Shanny's house to fold wedding programs for Molly. When we got there, Shanny had this AMAZING apple cider!!! She got the recipe from her sweet friend, Stacy Grundfest. Once you read the recipe, you'll know why it's so word...BUTTER!!!
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
6 Tbs. honey
6 oz. Rum
2 tsp. each of nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla
Spiced Apple Cider
Cream butter. Mix in sugar and then add vanilla, spices, honey, and rum. Mixture will refrigerate indefinitely. When ready to use, add one heaping tablespoon (we added 2) of mixture and one jigger of rum (optional...we didn't do this...and by the way, what's a jigger?) to each cup of hot apple cider.

Shanny (my sister) used Aspen cider spices for her apple cider. I think she got it at the Hallmark store.

Here's the SCRUMPTIOUS mixture that you add to the cider. AMAZINGLY delicious!!!

And here we all are holding our cups of cider.
It was so crazy, I had a full cup of apple cider sitting on the table. After we took the group picture, I started to sip on my cider and realized it was completely empty!! Somebody took my cup sitting on the table and downed my apple cider in about 1 minute flat!!! HA! :) I don't blame was THAT good!!!
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Lana's Cheese Dip (My FAVORITE of all time)!!!

At our NLR Bible study Christmas party this year, there was a ton of yummy food! I was so hungry when I went and headed straight for this YUMMY looking white cheese dip. There was so much good food there, but all I ate was that cheese dip...2 plate fulls. It was just so good, I didn't even try anything else, except a piece of fudge, which was also delicious. I HAD to get the recipe from my friend, Lana, who made it. It's SUPER easy!
2 pkgs. Cream Cheese
2 cans Rotel
1 lb. Jimmy Dean Sage sausage
Cook the sausage and combine all ingredients in a Crock Pot on high...Voila! Easy as pie!

These chips are my very favorite!!!
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Perfect Quiche Lorraine

We had Molly's bridemaid's luncheon at my house on Friday. My aunt Jeralu gave me an incredible quiche recipe (I have no idea where she got it but it looks like it was a copy from a cookbook). I have NEVER made quiche in my life and was surprised at how easy it was! Of course, it helped that Jeralu had cooked all the bacon for us in advance! Also, my mom and I chopped the swiss cheese on Wednesday so on Friday morning when it came time to make the quiche, it was a breeze! Anyway, here's the recipe:
Perfect Quiche Lorraine (Frances Goza)
1 lb. bacon crumbled
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. half and half
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Place bacon in pastry shell. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine remaning ingredients, stirring well (I just used a blender). Pour over cheese. Bake at 375 (is there not a degree sign on a keyboard?) for 65 minutes. We did not cook the pie crust first and it was perfect.

I made this again last night where I could take picures and put the recipe on here. I forgot the pie crust, though!!! I made a quick run back to Kroger and got some. The pie crust we used for the shower was Wal-Mart brand (I think) and it was better than the Pillsbury (go figure).


Lots of cheese

The finished product.

Okay, here's the quiche at the shower and it was better than the one I made. I think the reason was because we put a little bit of spinach in it.....just a handful of the frozen kind...we drained it well first with paper towels. Also, Marci threw in a little bit of chopped onion. I also think this would be AMAZING with mushrooms!! YUM!! Anyway, this was seriously the best quiche I've ever had and super easy!!! :) Thanks Jeralu!! :)
Just a quick side note: That shredded cheese looking stuff on top of the banana bread is actually butter. Marci wanted to make the butter pretty so she came up with that idea. :) Everyone thought it was shredded cheese! HA! :)
Okay, this has nothing to do with recipes but I thought the banner we made was so cute!!! I don't take any of the credit, although I helped make sister-in-law, Sabrina, is an amazing artist. She's even illustrated a book. She's so talented. My sister, Hannah, is an artist, too. She got her degree in art. My sister, Marci, is an artist, too. The artist gene completely skipped me. I can, however, cut and paste. :) We actually got the banner idea from Kelly at Marci thought our mantle was boring and I remembered Kelly's banner for Harper so we went to her blog and got ideas. Anyway, I thought it was SO cute!! :)