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100 If you have friends (or children) with milk or egg allergies, this cake is a delicious and easy alternative to cakes loaded with eggs and dairy. It’s very chocolatey, so I usually use vanilla icing. If you decide to use chocolate icing – be prepared for a chocolate high! Like last week’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Eggless Milkless Dark Chocolate Cake works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together or any other fun gathering. And you don’t have to have an allergy to love this cake!

Eggless, Milkless Dark Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 stick margarine (1/2 cup) melted and slightly cooled

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons vinegar

2 cups cold water

Directions:

1-Preheat over to 375ºF.

2-Combine in large bowl: flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.

3-Add margarine, vanilla, vinegar, and cold water. Mix until well blended.

4-Pour batter into greased and floured pans. (See notes).

5-Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (See notes).

6-Cool, then frost as desired.

Notes:

1-This recipe makes a 2-layer cake using 9” diameter rounds or 8-9” square pans. Or you can make a sheet cake or bundt cake.

2-If you make a 2-layer cake or a sheet cake, 30 minutes baking time is usually enough. If you make a bundt cake, it might take slightly longer to bake. Check for doneness using either a cake tester or a toothpick to make sure the center of the cake isn’t still under-baked.

3-Remember, if you’re making this cake for someone with a milk allergy, use vegetable margarine and either soy or rice milk for making a “buttercream” icing with a box of powdered sugar.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from author, Allison Merritt.

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Jaleta's CC Oatmeal Cookies The recipe for these delicious cookies comes from science fiction writer, Jaleta Clegg. These cookies are perfect for a book club or readers’ group get-together or for the kids when they get home from school. Like last week’s Oven Baked Chicken Bruschetta, Jaleta’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies get great reviews. And now, a few words from Jaleta and the recipe:

Have you ever put cooking scenes in your stories? I can’t stop myself. I love cooking and I don’t see that changing for people in the far future, when my stories tend to happen. Picture it: a starship flying through the cosmos, the crew gathered in the galley cooking dinner. I have a thing for RVs. I guess it shows in my books. Right now I’m channeling the Winnebago scenes from Space Balls and the kitchen scenes from Firefly.

I’ve got a main character that loves to cook. It’s her way to destress and connect. She loves playing with new spices and ingredients. Jasyn understands the role food plays in society. It not only nourishes our bodies but our souls.

I can picture Jasyn making a batch of these wonderful cookies in her tiny kitchen on her ship. I can also picture the other crew members – Dace and Clark – devouring them, just like my kids in my kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 t. salt

2 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. white flour

2 1/2 c. quick cooking oatmeal

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. dried cranberries (optional)

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Beat until very light and fluffy. Add flour, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. Stir until well mixed. Set aside while the oven preheats. Or cover and refrigerate for several hours. (Letting the dough rest allows the oats to absorb moisture and makes the cookies softer.)

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray. Scoop cookie dough in one inch balls onto sheets. Bake for 9 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the sheets. Makes 5 – 6 dozen cookies.”

biosmall Jaleta Clegg loves writing what she knows – science fiction and cooking with the occasional bit of silly horror thrown in for laughs. She loves concocting dishes with bizarre names such as Chilled Monkey Brains, Radioactive Dog Spit, and Snake Surprise. New spices and strange vegetables are common on her table. Her children have learned to taste before complaining. You never know what you might enjoy until you try it. Find recipes on her blog every Thursday: http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com and links to her writings at http://www.jaletac.com

Thanks again to Jaleta Clegg for sharing her recipe. Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from speculative writer, Jennifer Allis Provost.

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Before I get to the recipe, here’s the link to a Book Giveaway that’s expiring in a few hours. Please make a comment and maybe win a copy of Beth Barany’s book!

These easy-to-make, melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies vanish quickly from the cookie jar every season of year. The recipe makes a large batch, so cutting it in half is a possibility for those less enthusiastic about crispy, crunchy, sugary treats! Like last week’s Baked Caramel Popcorn, Drop Sugar Cookies work well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, kids’ party, or any other fun gathering.

Drop Sugar Cookies

Step #1: Make cookies.

Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup softened margarine (or butter, if you prefer)

1 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4-1/4 cups flour

Directions:

1-Cream margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl.

2-Beat in eggs.

3-Add oil, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix well.

4-Combine cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and flour in another bowl. Then, add the dry ingredients to the liquidy dough. Mix well until cookie dough forms.

5-Cover with plastic wrap and chill several hours (or over-night).

Step #2: Make & Bake the cookies:

1-Preheat oven to 325°F and spray cookie sheets with vegetable cooking spray (like Pam).

2-Place about 1/2 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl. Find a flat-bottomed glass, and place beside the bowl with the sugar. (Add more sugar to the bowl as needed).

2-Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet allowing a couple of inches between dough balls.

3-Flatten the dough balls with the flat-bottomed glass. Here’s how: Dip the glass’s bottom in sugar, then press a dough ball flat. Re-dip the glass’s bottom in the sugar, then flatten another dough ball. You’ll probably need to re-dip after each cookie.

4-Once cookies are flattened, sprinkle lightly (remember you’ve already added a bit of sugar when flattening the cookies) with colored sugar or sprinkles.

5-Bake in oven (about 8 minutes, but it depends on how thick you’ve made your cookies) until cookies are lightly browned at the edges.

6-Using a pancake-flipper, remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

7-Repeat steps 1 through 6 until dough is gone.

8-Serve when cooled or store in an air-tight container until ready to eat. Enjoy!

Notes:

1-You’ll get a “rhythm” going when making these cookies, so after the 1st sheet, the flattening process will go quickly.

2-I put the cookie dough back in the refrigerator between batches to keep it firm and easy to handle.

3-A trick I use to cool my cookies and not have to deal with cookie racks: Place a layer of heavy brown paper (the kind you wrap packages with) on the counter. Place cooked cookies, hot from the oven, on the brown paper rather than on racks. The paper absorbs any extra vegetable spray or other grease. Plus, when you’re done, just fold the paper up and toss it away – crumbs and all!

4-These cookies freeze well. Once cooled, they can be put in a tightly-sealed container and stored in the freezer for several months.

5-By the way, I press the dough balls out so my cookies are thin, and therefore extra crisp. I have to watch the baking cookies carefully so they don’t burn. If you make your cookies thicker, and therefore softer, they burn less quickly. But still keep a close eye on your Drop Sugar Cookies.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from speculative writer Phoebe Wray, author of the mystery-thriller, In Adam’s Fall..

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Fans of banana bread will find this recipe not only easy to prepare, but extra flavorful because of the addition of vanilla and cinnamon. Like last week’s Cream of Crab Soup in a Jiffy, Too Easy Banana Bread works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, a luncheon, or any other fun gathering.

Too Easy Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray 9” x 5” loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray (like Pam).

Ingredients:

1/4 cup margarine (or butter), softened

3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup banana, mashed

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (for real cinnamon lovers, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon)

2 cups of baking mix (Jiffy or Bisquick or similar mix)

To make bread:

1) Cream together margarine and sugar.

2) Add eggs, then mix until blended.

3) Add vanilla, banana, and cinnamon, then mix until blended.

4) Add baking mix, then stir until well blended.

5) Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Then, place in oven and bake 55 minutes.

6) Cool slightly on a rack before removing Too Easy Banana Bread from pan.

7) Slice and serve warm, or store in refrigerator (or freezer) for later use.

Notes:

If you love nuts, and you’re sure no one you’ll be serving the bread to has a nut allergy – you can stir in 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts at the end just before putting the bread in the oven.

Too Easy Banana Bread is easier to cut when it’s cool. To warm up – you can either toast it in a toaster or toaster oven, wrap the bread in aluminum foil and warm in the oven, or cover it with a paper towel and warm in the microwave.

Here’s a trick I use for the too-soft bananas at my house – when a banana (or part of one) becomes overly ripe, cut it in pieces, then smash. Place the smashed banana in a 1 cup container, put on a lid, label the container, then pop it into the freezer. (I use 1-cup soft margarine containers). Keep adding to the container until it’s full. When you’re ready to make Too Easy Banana Bread, get the frozen mashed banana out of the freezer. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours (or better yet, over night), then use it in the recipe. Don’t worry if it seems “watery,” it will work just fine.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from speculative author Cindy Young-Turner.

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This fancy-looking and delicious bundt cake is easy to make, because it begins with a prepared cake mix. Chocolate-lovers and fans of “black-bottom cupcakes” will especially enjoy it. Like last week’s Over-Night Shrimp Dip, Easy Fudge Ribbon Cake works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together or any other fun gathering.

Easy Fudge Ribbon Cake

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.

2) Grease & flour a 10” bundt cake pan. (Or spray pan generously with a vegetable-based cooking spray)

3) Make cake.

For cake:

1 package chocolate cake mix (2 layer size).

Ingredients listed on back of box for preparation of the cake mix.

Directions: Make cake according to directions on package. Pour into a prepared bundt cake pan.

4) Make filling.

For filling:

1- 8-ounce package of creamed cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons softened margarine (or butter)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1- 14-ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: In a small bowl, beat creamed cheese, margarine, and cornstarch until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour the creamy mixture evenly on top of cake batter.

5) Bake for 50-55 minutes.

6) Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

7) Make glaze.

For glaze:

2 Tablespoons softened margarine (or butter)

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Cup confectionery sugar

2 Tablespoons boiling water

Directions: Mix ingredients together, then beat until smooth.

8) Place cake on serving plate and glaze, beginning at the top and letting the chocolate dribble down the sides. Serve.

Notes: Seriously, no one will imagine you used a boxed cake mix. I’ve had more requests for this cake recipe after I’ve served it than any other. – Vonnie

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a “dark” guest post from author Ripley Patton.

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