Saturday, March 8, 2014

New and Improved

Wanna see the latest Free Recipe Friday post?! Click on Charlotte Taylor Creates to see all the newest posts!  That is where it's all happenin' now!  The recipes here will forever remain though, but I will now be posting from the Creates site - check it out!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Trashy Traditions

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope yours is off to a great start.  We've had a very relaxing holiday season this year.  From Thanksgiving through to Christmas, we've had very little travel and lots of pajama wearing days.  THE best.

Our oldest daughter, Melody, completed her final two classes in December and The University of Texas at Tyler assures us her diploma is on the way.  Another milestone in December was watching our middle daughter graduate from Texas A&M University at Commerce.  So proud of them both and excited to see what 2014 brings in this new chapter of their lives.  My sweet hubs got a new position with the company he works for, which means less stress and no more working shift work.  P.T.L.

Speaking of the sweet husband has been THE sole creator of this week's Free Recipe Friday recipe for as long as we've been married.  We thought it was pretty common until a few of Rudy's friends didn't know what it was.  We call it Texas Trash.  It has nothing to do with trash except that we typically mix all of the ingredients in a giant clean trash bag - unscented of course.

James and I both grew up nibbling on this concoction and this is the only time of the year it's made.  We now feel compelled to share this little piece of heaven with you.  The makers of Chex cereals have caught onto this recipe over the years and have come out with their own version.  Chex Mix, as they call it, was created after their boxes of Chex cereals started disappearing off the shelves during holiday season. DO NOT BE DECEIVED - it is NOT the same, ha.  It lacks that extra something...that extra know, bacon grease.  Scoff if you will, but once tasted, you'll become a die-hard fan!

1 lb. butter - 4 sticks
1 cup bacon grease
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
10 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (a 10 oz. bottle)
1-2 tablespoons Tabasco (we use Louisiana hot sauce)

Heat the above ingredients in a medium size stock pot 
until well combined.  
We always taste ours and tweak it a bit - 
sometimes we add a little extra Worcestershire, hot sauce, etc.  
Feel free to make yours your own.  
Once all is completely melted and combined, take off the heat 
and let cool just a bit.

In a large CLEAN durable trash bag, 
combine the following:
1 box of Wheat Chex
1 box of Rice Chex
1 box of Bran Chex
1 box of Corn Chex
1 box of Cheerios
1 bag of pretzel sticks
1 can of salted peanuts
1 can of salted mixed nuts

Note: we are often unable to find one of the cereals listed above during the holiday season.  We either substitute something else (bagel chips, Cheezits, oyster crackers, etc) or do without, it's a-okay.  We are also not huge fans of peanuts, so we use 2 cans of mixed nuts and skip the peanuts.  If you want to use two cans of pecan halves or cashews it will be perfectly fine, and I will be your best friend.

After all dry ingredients are dumped into a large CLEAN trash bag (this works best with two people), gently, every so gently, combine the ingredients by rolling the trash bag between your arms until well mixed.  While one of you opens the bag back up, the other person can drizzle the warm broth mixture over cereals...trying to avoid inhaling the mixture or pouring directly on the bag itself (trust me on this one), and then roll bag again to completely coat everything.  Just twist the bag closed and hold tightly and flip that bag all around. Gently of course.

This mixture will fill about 6 deep disposable aluminum roasting pans or you can "bake in anything you can find" as my husband says.  Scoop the mix out with a large paper plate, measuring cup of whatever works best for you.  Bake these slowly with an oven temperature of about 300 degrees for several hours.  Stirring often.  This works well if you have double ovens.  Just be patient if you don't, and cook the pans full of goodness in shifts.  You just want to dry the mixture out a bit so it won't get soggy during storage.  The sound of the cereal hitting the pan will change as you stir and it will get louder, so to speak, in the aluminum pan towards the end.

Store cooled trash mix in good seal-able containers.  We use cookie tins and old popcorn cans.

Several chapters ended with the close of 2013, 
we are excited about what new chapters are opened in 2014.  
Wishing you a great new year 
enjoying tried and true family traditions 
with the ones you love!


Friday, November 29, 2013

. . .the Day After

Food hangovers, tight pants, piles of leftovers, and tons of trash.  Sound like your house?  Need an easy vintage breakfast idea without buying one single thing?  Mom's Fried Cakes.  A cross between a funnel cake, beignet and a donut.  Scrumptious.  Might as well forget starting that diet just yet.  If you have children in the house, as we do, you'll need to feed them SOMEthing, so why not these easy little treats?!
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1 cup flour
veggie oil for frying
powdered sugar for coating

Separate eggs and place yolks in medium size bowl.
Beat yolks with sugar using a wire whisk
until the sugar is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients
with the milk and mix well.
Add to egg/sugar mixture and whisk together.
In a small bowl, using a hand held mixer,
beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites into other mixture to combine.

Pour veggie oil in a heavy skillet or frying pan
until it comes about 1/3 of the way up the sides.
Heat oil on medium heat and drop batter by
tablespoonfuls to fry.
Rotating cakes to brown on each side.

These cook pretty fast, so have a cooling rack
or plate lined with paper towels ready to go
before you start as well as the powdered sugar.
As soon as they have drained, place them
on a serving plate and sprinkle heavily with
powdered sugar (we use a sifter) while they are still hot.

After the plate is filed up with these little fried cakes,
it will be like the best powdered donuts
you've ever tasted!
Quite similar to a beignet and delicious all day long!

These would be great for a yummy sweet breakfast
or for afternoon coffee or tea time.
You could probably cover these with a
cinnamon sugar mixture in lieu of powdered sugar
but am unsure if it would coat as well.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Rudy Takes the Cake

    Once upon a time there were three daughters that lived in a house and wanted cake.  Wait, that's almost daily!  It seems like at least one of these girls has a craving for something almost everyday.
   A few weeks ago, Rudy, had an instant craving for lemon cake.  It didn't take very long until we were all on board with that same craving.  We were having a lazy weekend, so we searched to find that perfect recipe that would satisfy us.  It had to be super moist, not too heavy, sweet and tart, with a little drizzled glaze for the top.
  When I set out to find a new recipe, my first thought is always, ALWAYS, my hero. The Contessa.  You know, THE Contessa, Ina Garten. Ahhhh.  That's where we found our dream lemon cake that day, and she did NOT disappoint.  Tons and tons of lemons let me tell you, lots of butter, good vanilla and you've got your recipe for the best lemon cake you'll ever want to eat.  Similar to a lemon pound cake, but softer and fluffier and lemonier than any other lemon thing in the world.  It may be Fall around here, even cold and slushy outside, but this lemony piece of heaven will bring warmth and sun shiny brightness to the depths of your soul.  Stretching it a bit much???  Go grab a bag of lemons and let's get started.

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons- yes, I know)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla (we use Mexican vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (appx 8 1/2 x 4 1/2)

Cream the butter with 2 cups granulated sugar
in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs,
1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. 

In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the lemon juice,
the buttermilk, and vanilla. 

Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, 
beginning and ending with the flour.
Scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops,
and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour,

until a toothpick (or ice pick) comes out clean.

While the cake is baking,
you'll want to make the lemon syrup.

Combine the remaining granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
with the remaining lemon juice (1/2 cup) in a small saucepan.
Heat on low/medium until sugar is completely dissolved.
Set aside.

When the cakes are done, remove from the oven
and let cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.
Remove cakes and place on a cooling rack
that's been placed over wax paper or a cookie sheet.
Drizzle the lemon syrup over the cakes slowly
using all of the syrup.  Let cool completely.

Now, prepare the lemon glaze.
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix the sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl

with a wire whisk until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the tops of the cakes
and allow it to dribble down the sides.
This my friends is deliciousness at it's finest.
We started eating ours right off the cooling rack.
For leftovers, you may cover yours with a tight fitting cake dome
 or place it in a good 
Tupperware container,
so as not to disturb that lovely glaze.
Now, I will mention we did indeed use a whole lotta lemons.
A whole bags worth, but you will be glad you did.

Rudy learned how to zest a bunch of lemons,
as well as, how to get the juice out of them.
We had a lemony lesson and learned lots and lots.

It is crazy the amount of zesting and juicing
that took place for this slice of sunshine,
but I don't believe it could get any better.

Impress your friends, impress your neighbors,
or just stuff your family's face.  Yum.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Dump, Stir and Bake

It's officially feeling like fall around here.  The trees showing off their rich beautiful colors and the smell of neighborhood fireplaces in action. Cool temps are not my favorite but, the beauty of the countryside makes it tolerable.

This week's Free Recipe Friday just screams fall.  Pumpkin Bread has been a staple in our family since I was a child.  Mom used to make hers in clean empty coffee cans.  Round bread!  It was the coolest.  My mom was very nifty and was great at using what she had.  There was never a year that went by that we didn't have this around Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Please feel free to make round bread, square bread, big muffins, little muffins, using whatever you have.  This recipe cannot be any easier.  Just gather the ingredients, dump them in a bowl, whisk them together, pour them in a sprayed baking dish of some sort and bake away.  There's none of this keeping dry ingredients separate, etc etc.  Just gather, dump, stir, bake.  And YUMMY!  Enjoy it now or enjoy it later.

1 can prepared pumpkin
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray 2 loaf pans, several mini loaf pans,
small or large muffin tins, etc. with non stick spray.
In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients.
Mix together using a whisk until
well combined. Divide batter among baking dishes
until all batter has been evenly dispersed.

Bake for appx 20 minutes.
Small muffins require a little less time,
loaf pans require a little more.
Adjust accordingly.
Remove from the oven when bread
does not jiggle in the middle or
a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Try not to over bake.

Once removed from the oven,
let rest in the pan for 3-4 minutes.
Remove bread from pans and set to cool on a paper towel.
I wrap mine while still quite warm
in a large storage baggie - this keeps them nice and moist.
These store well in the freezer,
so make ahead and have them ready for
early morning Thanksgiving Day Parade watching
or as you open gifts on Christmas morning!

We devour our pumpkin bread by toasting a slice or two,
top with a little butter, and spread with a little cream cheese.