Baking Hack: Heart Cake with Pans You Have

I bake in a small condo kitchen or my houseboat galley and take pride in the fact that I can cook or bake almost anything either place. Storage space seems to be the limiting factor. The key is to stock only pots, pans and utensils that have a variety of uses. I say they must “earn their keep” and I try not to buy “one use” items. For instance, the rack from the broiler pan makes a fine cooling rack and a strainer works just as well as a colander for draining pasta.

I love the idea of making a heart-shaped cake with pans I already have. After all, how often will you use a heart-shaped pan? All you need is one round and one square cake pan. Of course, two 8-inch pans or two-9-inch pans.

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You’ll also need a large tray or cake plate. If all else fails, cover a piece of cardboard with foil.  Simply place the square layer on the tray. Cut the round layer in half forming two half circles. Place the cut sides of the half circles touching 2 adjoining sides of the square layer to form a heart shape.  Cover with frosting and decorate as desired.

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For your Valentine cake, use one of your favorite cake recipes or try this wonderful Sour Cream Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe.

Do you have any easy baking hacks? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Fun for Kids – Little Breakfast Pizzas

Notoriously picky eaters, kids can sometimes be overwhelmed by too much food. One trick that seems to work is to make smaller versions. Mini muffins, silver dollar pancakes, sandwiches cut into small squares or triangles – just to name a few.

As a young child, I remember my elementary school class taking a field trip to a local bakery. I don’t remember much about the bakery itself, but I do remember they gave each of us a little loaf of standard white bread. I loved that little loaf of bread! What is it about miniature versions of regular foods that appeal to kids? I don’t know, but to this day I remember that little loaf of bread.

With that in mind, I thought little personalized pizzas might really appeal to children. Not that they don’t like the larger version, but small is fun. With a Martha White® Pizza Crust Mix, preparing the crust is a breeze and kids will love pressing out the dough to make their own mini pizza.

Once prepared, the dough can be topped with any of their favorite toppings, but how about making little breakfast pizzas? This recipe calls for cooked sausage, cheese, tomatoes and colorful bell peppers. Mixed with an egg and spooned over the crust, it becomes a great breakfast.

You know better than anyone what your kids like to eat, so adapt the recipe to appeal to them. Little Sausage Breakfast Pizzas can be fun to do as a family on the weekend. You can make little pizzas with their favorite toppings for dinner. The whole family will love them!

Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding with Smoky Bacon Highlights Winter Brunch

If the winter months seem long, and cabin fever is setting in, maybe it’s time to invite some friends over for a cozy winter brunch. Whether you sit around the kitchen table for a traditional breakfast, or relax in the den with finger food, the casual camaraderie is sure to warm your heart. In the South, we’re all about sharing food, so don’t hesitate to take your friends up on their offer to bring something.

No matter what the menu, topping it all off with this delectable Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding with Smoky Bacon is sure to delight your guests. We’ve talked before about bread puddings made with biscuits, but this one is even easier. Begin by baking up muffins using a Martha White® Blueberry Flavored Muffin Mix. The muffins can be made in advance and placed in the freezer if you want to get a little head start.

Cut muffins into cubes and place in a baking pan or dish. The custard is rich with cream, eggs and flavored with brown sugar and maple syrup. Pour the prepared custard over the muffins and top with chopped toasted pecans. Bake and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and syrup. The sweet and savory flavors are so enticing everyone will be coming back for more.

Football, Friends and Food

The big game is coming up! If you’ve been missing the camaraderie of fall tailgating, here is your opportunity to do it again. You may not be at the game or even outside for that matter, but you can create the same exciting atmosphere right there at home. Although, I’m all about food, it’s the people that really make a party fun.

Having a game day party can be as easy as inviting a bunch of folks over and asking them to bring a dish share or as complicated as preparing all of the food yourself and decorating to the hilt. If you’re a tailgater, you obviously don’t begrudge the work!  Whatever you plan to do, the food must be plentiful. After all, this big game day is the second biggest eating day of the year following Thanksgiving.

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“Sakes Alive” Chocolate Fudge Bars

A good party consists of both savory and sweet food items.  If you’re the hostess or bringing something sweet to a friend’s, chocolate is a safe bet. Sakes Alive Chocolate Fudge Bars are easy to make and baked in a 9×13-inch pan, makes plenty for a crowd. My personal go-to recipe is Double Chocolate Saucepan Brownies. Double the recipe and bake the brownies in a 9×13-inch pan, for a bunch of hungry fans.

What’s your go-to game day snack?

What’s in Your Pantry for Winter?

Do you ever wish you had a quick, warm dessert for supper or to serve unexpected company? You’re in luck, this is exactly what I had in mind when creating the “What’s in Your Pantry?” series. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know you have the ingredients on hand to create a quick and easy recipe anytime?

A warm fruit crisp is just the thing on a cold day. Homey and casual, it’s perfect for a family supper or to serve company. Below are two suggestions for crisp recipes you can whip up at the last minute.

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When making these suggestions, I try to keep in mind the ingredients you probably always have on hand. We loosely interpret pantry to include common refrigerated ingredients and those easily kept in the freezer.  For these recipes, I’m assuming you have oats, brown sugar, butter, maybe pecans or other nuts, dried cranberries or raisins, and of course a few packages of Martha White® muffin mix. If so, all you need is a couple of cans of pie filling and frozen fruit.

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For the Cherry Berry Crisp, you’ll need a fruit flavored muffin mix. The recipe calls for Wildberry, but a Blueberry flavored mix would also be good.  Use an Apple Cider flavored muffin mix for the Apple Cider Crisp. The recipe calls for dried, fresh or frozen cranberries, but you could also substitute raisins in place of cranberries.

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Quick Crepes for Dessert

Many years ago, I remember my soon-to-be husband taking me to a restaurant that served only crepes. Neither of us had eaten crepes growing up, so I found this to be a bit unusual. The restaurant offered an array of delicious fillings rolled in the delicate eggy pancakes. From main dish to dessert varieties, we thought they were wonderful!

Many restaurants followed suit, but after a few years, crepes almost disappeared from the restaurant scene, but have now resurfaced into our food culture. Occasionally I made them for us at home and was amazed at how easy they are to make. Although seemingly delicate, the extra eggs make them pliable, easy to turn and to roll around the filling.

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A few years ago, Lemon Poppy Seed Crepes were one of the winners in a Martha White® recipe contest. Made with Martha White® Lemon Poppy Seed Flavored Muffin Mix, eggs, milk and water, they are quick and easy to stir up.

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Using an 8-inch non-stick skillet and 1/4 cup of batter, assures the right thickness and makes them easy to turn.

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Filled with sweetened cream cheese and topped with an easy-to-make berry sauce, they are delicious and fun.

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After trying your hand at this simple recipe, you may want to try some main-dish versions filled with creamy chicken or seafood.

 

Let’s Make Yeast Bread

Quick breads like biscuits, cornbread and fruity nut breads are much more a part of our Southern heritage than yeast breads. Probably because corn was sometimes the only grain grown on small farms. The wheat grown in the South is low protein and better for quick breads or soft yeast breads.

If you have not made yeast breads, but always wanted to try, Holiday Cinnamon Rolls are a great place to start. They’re not totally dependent on texture, providing a variance in finished product from a little chewy to light and airy – delicious either way.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Yeast is a plant that produces gas to make the dough rise.  When adding the liquid it needs to be warm, but not hot. Recipes will usually suggest the proper temperature which you can check using a thermometer. Just remember, it should be similar to the temperature of a baby’s bottle.
  • Forget the gentle handling. Most yeast doughs need to be kneaded for several minutes to create the elastic structure needed for the dough to rise.
  • Most recipes suggest putting the dough in a warm place to rise. Alice Jarman, who started the Martha White Test Kitchen, always let her dough rise in a cold oven with a pan of warm water on the rack underneath. But it will rise on the counter or even in the refrigerator.

Give it a try. You’ll enjoy the process and the wonderful results.