Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake and Icing

When my kids were little this way their favorite cake.  I one point in my life I could make it from memory I had made it so many times.  The babies will be 30 in 20 more days and I have to admit that I can’t make it from memory any longer.

Since it’s made in a jelly roll pan it makes a fairly large cake.  It’s thin and almost brownie like but not as heavy or dense.  Once the icing is set, it almost tastes like chocolate fudge…yum yum!

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick oleo (do not use tub spread as it contains too much water)
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease and flour jelly roll pan  (approx. 17″ X 13″) thoroughly.
In a sauce pan, combine water, oleo and shortening.  Place on very low heat to melt.  When melted, add cocoa and vanilla and stir with whisk or fork to blend well.
In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, & cinnamon and blend with dry whisk.  Pour chocolate liquid mixture and buttermilk into dry ingredients; mix on medium speed with electric mixer just until blended.
Pour into prepared jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes then ice with following icing recipe.

Icing:
1 stick oleo
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
Melt oleo and cocoa together; add milk.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Add sugar and mix on high speed until well blended.  Ice cake while still warm but not hot.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I made this pie this past weekend. It was delicious and we ate the whole thing in just a couple of days which is pretty unheard of around here. This recipe is only for the pie filling and I’ve got a link to my Meringue recipe at the end of the pie recipe.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt (omit if using butter with salt in it)
1 1/4 cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons grated lemon zest (this is optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 9″ deep dish pie crust, pre-baked and cooled. Whisk all ingredients, except butter in a small bowl. Transfer to a non-reactive sauce pan (no aluminum or copper). Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk constantly as thickens. Once thick, continue to stir and cook for about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat; add butter. Mix well and pour into cooled, baked crust.

Top with meringue and bake per meringue recipe instructions.

Meringue

Meringue has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to make. One thing that I learned from personal experience is that the electric mixer does make a difference. I’m not talking brand of mixer but type. It has been my experience that a hand mixer did not have enough speed to whip the egg whites. You also do not want to use plastic or copper bowls for making meringue. Plastic holds oils which will cause your eggs whites to not whip up. Copper will turn your egg whites a yucky gray color because of the chemical reaction between the egg whites and the copper. A glass bowl is best and a stainless steal bowl is next best.

Since there as so many different types of pie requiring meringue, I’m going to post my meringue recipe first and will link back to it with each meringue pie I post there after. This meringue recipe is not a really sweet meringue and when whipped & browned just right makes a very beautiful pie topping.

Meringue

5 egg whites at room temperature-very important that they are at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggs in bowl & beat on low until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium & add tartar & salt. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time; beat just until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat. Spoon meringue over filling and spoon to edges making sure that it touches the crust all away around the pie. Place pie on rack in center of oven and bake until meringue is lightly browned; about 5-7 minutes. Do not allow meringue to over brown.

Homemade Chili

It’s really cold here today so tonight I will be cooking something to warm up our innards.  Chili is always great when it’s cold outside.  I’ve had this recipe since I was a young bride in my first marriage.  The Kids Dad brought it home from work one day from one of his co-workers.  You can adjust the spiciness by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper.  Hubby and I neither one like anything that is ‘set your mouth on fire’ hot so it’s pretty mild as I have it listed.  It’s great alone or over Frito’s for Frito Pie. 

Chili

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 16 oz. can pinto beans
1 16 oz. can refried beans
2 cups tomato juice
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes & green chilies (Ro-Tel)

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. molasses

Brown meat with copped onion.  Drain & rinse and return meat to 4 qt. stew pot.  Add spices and stir.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend.  Cook on low heat and let simmer uncovered for a couple of hours.  Can also be placed in crockpot or slow cooker on low heat.

Cake From Scratch

I’ve had this recipe for so long that I don’t remember where I got it. I like the versatility of the basic recipe. The directions for making different flavors follows the basic recipe.

Cake From Scratch

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For a yellow cake: Whisk together all dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until resembles fine crumbs. Add milk, eggs & vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, then high speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into 13″ X 9″ greased and floured pan. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

For Chocolate cake: Add 1/4 cup baking cocoa to dry ingredients and then follow the rest of the directions for a yellow cake.

For White cake: use 3 egg whites instead of the 2 whole eggs. Whites may be beaten and added separately for a lighter cake.

For Spice cake: Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves & 1/4 teaspoon allspice to dry ingredients.

Easy Pancakes and Waffles from Scratch

waffles

I have been searching for some time for a simple waffle recipe. Everything I found had too many steps or used egg whites that had been whipped and then folded into the batter. Who wants complicated early in the morning when you are trying to get breakfast on the table? Then this morning I had an epiphany, why couldn’t I use my pancake recipe and just add a tad bit more oil? After all that exactly what the package mixes have you do. So, I set out to experiment with my recipe and got lucky with the first batch. Here is what the final product looked like. I had some waffles left over so I tried freezing them. I just took one out of the freezer, popped it into the toaster and let me tell you it came out as good as fresh made. I’ll include the freezing directions at the end of the recipe.

Easy Pancakes and Waffles from Scratch

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons cooking oil (4 tablespoons for waffles)

In a large bowl whisk together the egg, oil and milk. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until well moistened, if over mixed finished product will be tough.

Pancakes:
Heat an oiled griddle or skillet over medium high heat. Test griddle by dropping a drop of water on griddle or skillet, water will sizzle and pop off of skillet if temperature is right. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Let set until the top looks dry and bubbled. Turn and allow other side to brown.

Waffles:
Since waffle irons are different, follow manufacturers directions for heating. Spray grids with cooking spray and then fill with a little more than 1/3 cup but less than 1/2 cup of batter (here again waffle irons vary, you may need to experiment to see what works for your waffle iron). Lift lid of waffle iron and check brownness after about 3 minutes; let waffle continue to cook until desired brownness.

Yields 8 four inch pancakes or 6 waffle squares

Freezing directions for waffles: Place on wire rack and let cool completely. Once completely cooled, put in freezer bag and freeze. To reheat, place in toaster and toast. You will probably have to toast longer than toast since it will be frozen.

Beef and Cabbage Casserole

I came up with this simple and easy recipe one evening when I was tired of the same old stuff all the time. If you like cabbage rolls then you will probably like this dish.

1 lb. ground beef, browned, drained and rinsed under hot running water
1 medium head of cabbage, cleaned, cored and shredded
1 can (26-32 oz.) Spaghetti sauce, your choice of brand and flavor (I use Del-Monte Garlic & Herb)
Grafted Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients in 11 X 15 oblong glass casserole dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-60 minute. Sprinkle top with grated Parmesan Cheese (optional and tastes great without).

Serves 4-6

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