Peanut Butter Cake. Nuff Said.

Yes, I recognize that the posting of this recipe less than 24 hours behind my Ripped in 30 update is nonsensical. The fact that I am posting something nonsensical is not news to you, so lower your eyebrows and do NOT judge me.

No, I didn’t eat a bite of this cake. Didn’t even lick the icing spoon or anything. So, there.

Defensive, much?

Yes, I’m sending it to The Boys so it will be out of my house.

No, I cannot monitor Big Daddy’s consumption of it while he’s at work with it.

Disclaimers over. *Sigh.*

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I’m posting this recipe today for a number of reasons:

1. I can’t have any, and I think that, at least, somebody ought to be eating this today. Or tomorrow. But certainly by the end of the weekend.

2. I mentioned it in an earlier post. Teasing is not nice.

3. I promised my friend, Nicole, I would because she’s super brave. Spiritual courage should be rewarded. With food. I’m a Southerner. That’s what we do. Holla, Nicole!

4. Most importantly, it was one of the most favorite foods on earth of my Uncle Les, who, as of last weekend, is now eating it with the Lord at the biggest banquet table anyone’s ever seen. Finally free from cancer-related nausea, homeboy’s ready to eat!

You’re a one-of-a-kind, mister, and you are missed.

________________________________________________________

This recipe was ‘created’ by my mother, The Mad Knitter. My Granny (my dad’s mom) made it all the time and, for some, as-yet-unknown reason, no one bothered to learn from her how to make it. After Granny had joined the Lord at His banquet table, we started contemplating how to get one of those cakes we were sure she was up there eating without us.

Earthlings get left out of all the good stuff.

Anywho, my mother, being the culinary genius she is, got in the kitchen and tried this and that until she came up with this, here recipe.

Side note: all pics were taken by the Diva, which may or may not explain the flying saucer positioning of the finished cake. Our countertops are perfectly level.

Bottom line is, it’s a basic, yellow cake with peanut butter fudge for icing. Only good can come from this. I’m just sure of it.

Like making any type of candy, it’s important to get everything set up ahead of time.  Here you see the cake set-up.  I’ve got my cake plate (Read: cheap, plastic cake-taker thingy I send to work with Big Daddy…not my cut class cake pedestal. For sure not.) with the first, prepped layer on it. I’ve got strips of waxed paper underneath to catch icing drips. When we’re done, I’ll pull those out and have a nice, clean cake plate.

Even The Boys appreciate a nice presentation. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.

I have those horrendous 9-inch round cake pans, so I only get two layers. However, if you have the cutie, little 8-inch pans, you can get three. Three makes for a fabulous presentation. Much more drama! Oh, and later I’ll tell you how to make it the lazy way with a 9×13 yellow cake. Take your pick.

Each of the layers will be leveled (one has already been done for you) with a large, serrated knife. Just lay the knife on the cake parallel to the countertop, and slice across. You’ll see the ‘cake top’ in the background there. These are much revered and cherished in our household.

What? She’s drinking orange juice, for goodness’ sake. Well, okay, it’s Sunny D, which is like orange-flavored sugar, but we’re getting there. Plus, the cake has eggs and, well, eggs are in it. (Ignore the bread in the background. I’m making breadcrumbs for my chicken burgers.)

No, I didn’t eat any cake top. *Sigh.*

There’s alot of sighing in this house today.

Anyway, I’ll level both of them before I even begin prepping for the icing. When the icing comes to the right temperature, things move rather rapidly. You’ll see.

If you notice that your cake seems a little dry (mine’s not today, but they have been in the past), just bring a simple syrup (1 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of water) to a boil on the stove, let it cool a bit, and spoon a bit over each cake layer before icing. Problem solved. I am a problem solver.

Also, creamy peanut butter, sugar, butter, and a small can of evaporated milk. And a candy thermometer. And a pan. And a cake plate. And a stove. And a spoon. And a spreader. Nevermind. You get it.

The peanut butter jar is proof that I shop at stores other than the Wal-Mart.

Now, we’ll set up the icing. Put the sugar, butter, and milk into a saucepan with the thermometer (Wal-Mart!) clipped on. Do not turn the burner on.  Put the peanut butter in a cup over to the side. The recipe calls for a cup. You can see it’s a generous cup. It’s really more like a cup and a tablespoon. Or two. Or three.

In the sink is a bowl of cool water. We’ll use it to bring down the icing temperature to where we need it to spread on the cake. You could wait for nature to take its course, but I don’t have that kind of time on my hands.

Now turn on the burner…maybe medium or medium-high. Heat the sugar/butter/milk mixture to 212 degress (F).

Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until creamy smooth.

Place the hot pan into the cool water and keep stirring until the thermometer reaches 150 degrees (F). Do not stop stirring. If you do, the outside will be cool, and the inside still hot-ish.

Now, spread a bit of icing on the first layer. Stop just before reaching the edges. It’ll squirt out when you put the second layer on if you don’t.

With the second layer on top, spoon some icing onto the top. With a spatula or knife, start moving the icing to the sides. If it’s still a little warm, it’ll slide down the side. That’s okay. Don’t panic. Just keep picking it up and putting it back on the cake. Eventually, it will get cool enough to stick. No worries.

Once the sides are covered, spoon the remaining icing on top and spread until smooth. Now, you could spread this stuff for hours until it’s just perfect. I ain’t got that kind of time. Just spread it until it looks pretty good and call it a day. Leave it out in the air to continue cooling and hardening. Like fudge.

Slice and enjoy! Do not publish the fact that you have this cake on-hand. Unless you want to share it with, like, the whole neighborhood. I’m just sayin’.

This person, with whom I may or may not share a gene pool, has even less cooking patience than do I. She bakes her cake in a 9×13 pan, pokes some holes in it, and pours the warm icing over the top. It doesn’t look as pretty, but it tastes yummy still!

And, once, just once, The Mad Knitter made this with a chocolate cake instead of yellow, thinking chocolate and peanut butter would be good together. We prefer the yellow, but that’s just us. Try both. One for you, and one for me. I’ll be eating broccoli.

Click, print, clip, and cook: Peanut Butter Icing

Go forth and make cake,

AinW

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake

My Mammaw has been making this cake as long as I can remember. Usually, she buys a tub of frozen strawberries in syrup and a container of Cool Whip and lets them sit out on the counter until they are thawed. Then, she makes the cake and serves it with a generous helping of strawberries and juice and a big, ole dollop of Cool Whip plopped right on the top.

She’s been doing this so long that she now has a complete set of cereal bowls that say Cool Whip on the side.

A few years back, she walked over to her couch, sat down, declared herself done with cooking, picked up the remote, and turned on the football game. Smart, huh? I guess when you’re 81 you can do that.  Of course, the first thing I did after her declaration was march over, sit myself down on the couch beside her with a pen and paper in hand, and start writing as she dictated, from memory, every recipe she’d ever made.

Now who’s smart?

This is the best, most moist pound cake you’ll ever eat. And easy-peasy, too!

You know me. If it ain’t easy, I can’t make it.

Here’s what you need:

A little cream cheese, some butter, a bit of sugar, eggs, and cake flour. You can get it right on the baking aisle at the Wal-Mart.

And vanilla. I forgot.

Make sure it’s pure vanilla extract because life’s too short to cook with imitation vanilla.  Mexican vanilla’s best, but the stuff I bought last time I was there is long gone. If any of you is in/from/near Mexico and get some vanilla, buy an extra one for me. I’m stuck with Great Value nilla here in the hills and am becoming increasingly disgruntled about it.

Now back to our regular programming…

Let the cream cheese and butter sit out until they reach room temperature. If you don’t have time in your life for this, you can pop them in the microwave for a bit. Remove the metal wrapper from the cream cheese first.

I won’t tell you how I know that this is necessary.

Also, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the sugar, cream cheese, and butter…

…until it looks about like this.

Separate one egg. I do that little trick where you flip the yolk back and forth between the shell halves, letting the white drip out into the bowl on the left, then dumping the yolk into the other bowl, but if you have one of those fancy, egg separator gadgets, more power to ya.

With the mixer on low speed, add the yolk and mix.

With the mixer still on low, add 1/2 cup of the flour and mix to combine.

Repeat this add-egg-yolk, add-flour combination 5 more times, reserving the egg whites.

Once all the flour and egg have been incorporated, add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

RIP my adjustable teaspoon measuring spoon. Miss you already. Dang dishwasher.

Pour the egg whites into a separate mixer bowl.

Beat to stiff peaks.

Pour the beaten whites into the mixed cake batter.

Fold.  Now, listen people. Folding is gentle. The purpose of the beaten egg whites is to add lightness, fluffiness to an otherwise packy cake.  Don’t kill the moment. Gently flip the spatula over and over until the egg whites are incorporated, but not dead.

When it looks like this, stop folding. Resist the urge to continue folding. It’s not necessary.

Pour the batter into a well-greased tube or bundt pan. Place the pan onto a baking sheet. Just in case.

I can’t tell you how I know this.  Just do it.

Bake: one-and-a-half hours.

Or until it looks like this.  Unreal. That crusty part on the top? That’s the absolute best part of the cake. Period.

When it’s cool, flip the cake out onto a plate, slice, and serve.

Now, if you get some fresh strawberries, slice them, put them in a bowl, and cover them in sugar, in a few hours they’ll have a nice, little syrup with them, and you can put them on a slice of this beauty.  Furthermore, if you get a pint of heavy whipping cream and whip it up with, say, a cup of confectioner’s sugar and put it on top of that?

Oh, nevermind.

Don’t tell my Mammaw. She likes her frozen strawberries and Cool Whip.

I haven’t had any sugar in 15 days. Please make this cake and eat a piece for me.

Please.

Here’s the printable. Click, print, clip, and bake: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Lovin’ Mammaw for this one,

AinW

Vanishing Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Bars

I found the recipe for these little beauties in one of the greatest places to find good food.

Besides church cookbooks, one of the best places to find new recipes is on the back of cake mix boxes and, as it turns out, inside the Quaker oat box.  I did doctor it up a bit (of course), though.

My uni-dimpled, in-house food critic says these are the best thing I’ve ever made. He says that a lot; however, his rapid consumption of these might point to truth-telling this time.

Here’s what you need:

Some butter, oats, sugars (white and brown), flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, raisins, and vanilla.

And two eggs. I forgot.

All regular stuff you probably already have. Nothing fancy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the mixer, beat the softened butter and two sugars until they are yummy. Like this.

Then, add the eggs and vanilla and whip her up.

Next, set up a separate bowl with a sifter of some sort.

Run the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt through it.

Incorporate the flour mixture into the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla mixture. Then, mix in the oats and raisins.

Press the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until done throughout.

Cool and cut into squares.

Serve them to your in-house food critics. You’re sure to see the dimple.

Notes:

1. One could, if he/she wanted, make these into cookies.  Drop the mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool a minute on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

2. One could, if he/she were so industrious, bake them for his/her favorite nephew’s Pizookie Party in little, cast-iron skillets.

3. One could, if he/she were so moved by the Spirit, top these with, say, a scoop of vanilla ice cream while they were still a bit warm.

4. One could, if he/she were so inclined, add a cup-and-a-half or so of chocolate chips to the batter. I’m just sayin’.

Click, print, clip, and cook: Vanishing Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Bars

In love with oatmeal and raisins,

AinW

Easy-Peasy Whipped Icing

As promised, I’m posting the icing recipe I used when I sent The Boys some cupcakes awhile back.

The recipe comes from this kid.

Not that sweet, precious kid on the right, but the other one. The one on the left.  Though she’s only a few years behind me, she’s the youngest of the grandchildren in my family.  Therefore, she is, and always will be, The Kid.  She’s an excellent cook.

Here’s what you need to whip it up:

Some shortening, some powdered sugar, almond extract, water, and, the kicker, non-dairy coffee creamer.  I used food coloring, too, but you can just roll with the white if that’s what you’re feeling.

With the mixer, beat the shortening, creamer, and extract.

Gradually beat in the sugar.

I don’t have enough patience for ‘gradually,’ which is why I usually have a significant amount of powdered sugar to clean up on the back-end. It’s okay. I count the clean-up energy expenditure as my daily exercise, so it all balances out.

Anyway, once all the sugar’s incorporated, it looks about like this:

Here’s where the water comes in.  Add between a half and three-fourths of a cup while the mixer is running. Stop adding water when it reaches your desired consistency.  Here’s mine:

Here’s where I squirted a little blue food coloring in and let the mixer do the work.  I have no idea why I chose blue, or any color for that matter. It was a nice day, and the sky inspired me.

Yeah, that’s it.

Scrape the bowl down and check to make sure everything’s copacetic.

Now, you could just eat the icing with a spoon.  Or, you could spread the icing onto the cake/cupcakes at this point. I went another route. After I ate a spoonful, of course.

Not having any fancy cake decorating tools, I turned to my trusty gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

Fill one corner of the bag with as much icing as you can effectively work with. I can work with alot. The level of effectiveness is debatable.

Cut the tip out of the icing-filled corner and commence ta icin’.

And there you have it.  Now, these here cupcakes ain’t gonna win any Cupcake Wars, but they’ll work for us regular folk. Besides, if I got too fancy, people’d think I was tryin’ to put on airs.

Rustic cupcakes are a social survival tool for me, really.

This icing recipe works for any type of cake or cupcakes. Heck, it probably would even be good on some sugar cookies.  I went with regular shortening and creamer and almond extract. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I used butter-flavored shortening and/or peppermint-flavored creamer and peppermint extract.  Or what about French Vanilla creamer and vanilla extract? Or chocolate flavored creamer and peppermint extract? Or regular creamer and lemon extract? Or regular creamer and rum extract? Or…you get the point…the combinations seems endless.  Let me know if you come up with a good one.

Click, print, trim, and go: Whipped Icing

Go ice something,

AinW

The Best Basic, Yellow Cake You’ll Ever Eat

I’ve been cooking again.  I take it in spells, really.

After a long bout of traveling hither and yon, my little family is all back together again in one place: the boonies.  Big Daddy had been traveling a bit, too, and is now back at work with people whom I’ve affectionately named, “The Boys.”

The Boys are the men with whom Big Daddy works.  They seem to like my cooking. Alot. Nearly the moment Big Daddy reentered their presence, their first question to him was, “When’s the food coming?”

It’s nice to be missed. I’m sure they missed Big Daddy, too, though that’s speculation at this point.

I felt obligated to comply with The Boys’ request. They do, after all, take such good care of my Big Daddy every day.  I made them a few things, all of which I’m going to share with you this week. Because they’re yummy.  And it’s spring. And spring should be yummy.

Wait, what?

Nevermind.

The first is a Basic Yellow Cake. This recipe is one I pilfered from my Mammaw, who uses it as the base for her world-famous Caramel Cake. Okay, maybe it’s not world-famous, but it’s pretty famous in my world.  My mother, however, uses it as the base for her world-famous (again, my world) Peanut Butter Cake. I have an uncle who’d give his eye teeth for a slice of that baby. My mother pilfered the peanut butter icing recipe from my other grandmother, who’s now eating Peanut Butter Cake and homemade biscuits with the good Lord at that great banquet table in the sky.

Holla, Granny!

And now I’m officially way off-topic. Here’s what you’ll need:

“Is that a boxed cake mix?” you ask. Life, the good life, doesn’t have to be so difficult sometimes.  Ain’t no shame in my game.  Any kind of yellow cake mix (I use what’s on sale because that’s how I roll), a small package of instant vanilla pudding, 4 eggs, some oil, and some water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now, here’s the tricky part:

Dump all that into the mixer bowl and turn her on.  It’s like rocket science we’re doing here.

Now, because I was sending this to The Boys, who may or may not be able to handle the cutting of an actual cake, I went with cupcakes.

While you wait for them to bake, your local Diva will probably be happy to lick the beater as she reads her Bible lesson aloud to you.  It’s about Judah and Tamar. It’s juicy. It requires accompanying cake batter.

Fifteen minutes in the oven, and out comes delicious, moist, fluffy, golden goodness.

Now, at this point, you have two choices. You could (a) frost them and send them to work with Big Daddy,…

… or (b) forget the icing, call them muffins, and eat them for breakfast.

I’m just sayin’.

A few notes:

1. A layer cake and a 9×13 cake are done the same way. Just bake them a little longer. About 25 minutes and 30ish minutes respectively.

2. You could, at this point, top the cake with store-bought icing, dispose of the evidence, and still get the marriage proposal you may be seeking.

3.  A chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding is made the same way. And equally moist and yummy. I haven’t tried other flavors, but, if you do, let me know how it goes.

Click, print, clip, and cook: Basic Yellow Cake

Icing recipe coming up this week…stay tuned.

Let them eat cake!

AinW

At-Home Pizookie Party

In San Diego, there’s a great restaurant where “the kids” go to have what they affectionately term, “Pizookie Parties”. The kids are some of the students from the high school where I was formerly employed, and the “restaurant” is actually a brewery, so I’m hopeful that they’re really having parties filled with Pizookies and not something else.

You are, aren’t you, boys?

“What’s a Pizookie?” you ask.  So glad you want to know. A Pizookie is a cross between a pizza and a cookie. It’s a pizza-cookie. It’s a Pizookie!

See how they did that? Clever, huh?

A Pizookie Party would include a trip to this particular location for the purpose of partaking of, um, the Pizookies.  There’s no code.

Since I’m not in Kansas (San Diego) anymore, and since my punk nephew with the one-dimpled face had a birthday recently, I thought I’d make my own Pizookie Party for him.

And so we did. Only ours was Southern-style. Instead of fancy, metal, San Diego pans, we used small cast-iron skillets, just like the ones in which we make cornbread. Only smaller. The cookie skillets were about six inches across. The cornbread skillet’s about ten inches across. Oh, and my pineapple-upside-down-cake skillet (the same one I make chicken fried steak in) is about twelve inches across.

I just got hungry all of a sudden. Maybe my sugar’s low.  That’s a problem best fixed with a cake ball, for which I’ve yet to acquire the appropriate cast-iron skillet. But I’m on the lookout.

Anywho, we had four of these little skillets, so we made four types of Pizookies.

Snickerdoodle. This is the one in which The Bubbe wanted his candles (above).

Peanut Butter. This is the one into which the Diva dug with all her might. Homegirl’s got mad Pizookie-eating skills.

Oatmeal Raisin. This one may or may not be my favorite, which may or may not explain why I zoomed in so closely with the camera. I may or may not have been taking this picture with one hand while simultaneously holding my spoon in the other, waiting to pounce.

Chocolate Chip. My father may or may not have eaten his weight in this one.

A more noble and loving auntie would have made each of the four cookies from scratch. However, this auntie’s nights had recently been taken up with this.

And the baby wasn’t the only one who was worn out from the stress of it all.

Therefore, we just ran right down to our neighborhood Kroger and bought cookie dough, pressed it in the skillets, stuck them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, and disposed of the evidence before anybody knew what was happening.

The Diva ain’t the only one with mad skills.  She may or may not get them from her mother who may or may not get them from her mother.

I can neither confirm nor deny.

Besides, they got et (that’s eaten to you non-Southerners).

Dump a scoop of ice cream on the top of each of them, throw some spoons out, put the Pizookies in the middle of the table, and watch your fingers. It’s a feeding frenzy.

Great Whites on the idiot in the cage ain’t got nothin’ on people around Pizookies.

And, while it’s true that I was not able to find the time to make, from scratch, birthday Pizookies, rest assured, friends and gracious readers, that I did find make the time to locate, purchase, transport, assemble, and test out the perfect birthday gift for a six-year-old boy.

My sister’s thanking me every chance she gets. She couldn’t possibly be more welcome. Payback for the make-up and nail polish she bought the Diva the year she turned three, before my sister had any children, is a killer.

Auntie-of-the-year,

AinW

A Valentine’s Treat

It’s Valentine’s Day, y’all!

It should come as no surprise to you that this holiday, like most all in my life, are somehow related to food.  This is why I have to weigh-in with you every week.

Well, that, and I have a little Wendy’s Double Stack fascination.

Anywho, here’s what’s on the menu this Valentine’s Day at our house:

The World’s Best Sugar Cookies, hands down.  Turns out, sugar cookies ain’t just for Christmas, y’all!  Please, please make these for your family. Only, when you do, throw an extra cup of sugar and another teaspoon of vanilla in the dough. Extra sugar and vanilla make me happy. The icing is just confectioner’s sugar and water, with a bit of coloring.

If you’re lacking a Valentine, this’ll bring ’em from far and wide. Big Daddy’s gonna eat himself silly on these.

We’ll be having these, too.

I’ve made cake balls for you here before, but never these. These are Valentine’s Day, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake Balls.

And the best part? They’re strawberry, so I can count that as fruit, right? Just use the regular cake ball recipe with a strawberry cake mix and strawberry icing. They’re delicious.

Or, at least that’s what the Diva told me.

And, while this is not exactly on the menu, I thought it important.

They’re no baby toes, but they’re almost as cute.

Love one another,

AinW