Super Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This one is super easy.  I was going to make something totally different for a potluck I was going to on the weekend, but due to a stovetop malfunction (long story) I had to change my plans and I was scrambling on a Sunday morning to find a recipe I could make with the grocery store closed using only what I had on hand.  Luckily I had some pineapple, and this turned out pretty good.  It’s very light and airy.  I found this recipe on the BigOven.com iPad app.

Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup margarine, melted

pineapple, sliced in rings

maraschino cherries – I didn’t have these, but they would be a sweet, colourful addition

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pineapple juice – I didn’t have this either, so I substituted orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with melted margarine until completely incorporated.  Spread into the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.  Arrange pineapple pieces and cherries in a decorative design in the brown sugar.  Set aside.

In another small bowl, whip the egg yolks with a mixer until light yellow and thickened.  Gradually add in the sugar and beat well.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and juice.  Mix completely together.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold gently into batter.

Pour batter and smooth over pineapples in pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes.  Top will be brown, tester inserted should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Serve warm or cold.

This would be awesome with a scoop of ice cream, or some whipped cream, or even better, some rum enhanced whipped cream.  Yum!

Angel Lush Cupcakes

Beautiful, and delicious.

I found this recipe on the Kraft Canada website.  I made them for Easter and they were a hit.  They are light, airy, beautiful, and perfect for spring/summer.  To top it off, they’re super easy.

Ingredients

1 pkg Angel food cake mix

1 pkg Vanilla Instant pudding powder

2 cans crushed pineapple

1 cup cool whip topping

2 cups assorted berries.  I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Pour into pre-lined muffin tins, filling each cup to about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  They will puff up and the top will turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan.  Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to let them cool completely.  Meanwhile, make the topping.

In a medium bowl, combine powdered pudding mix and pineapple, including juice.  Mix well – you will see the juice from the pineapple combine with the powder to make a pudding like texture.  Add cool whip and mix in gently.

Top cooled cupcakes with pineapple mixture, and arrange your favourite berries on top.  Store in the refrigerator.  These can be made the day before and will still be wonderful.

Enjoy! 🙂

Tomato Salad

This is a quick and easy one.  So simple, and it goes over great during the summer at barbecues and potlucks.  We tease my Mom because once we were having a conversation about what food we’ll be remembered for when we’re gone.  She was concerned that there wouldn’t be a “special dish” that would inspire us all to think about her when we ate it.  My husband said to her, “don’t worry Cathie, you’ll always be remembered for your tomato salad!”

Don’t blink or you’ll miss this one – it’s that quick to throw together.

Ingredients

2-3 tomatoes or more – depending on size

1/2 large or 1-2  small onions (red onions or really sweet onions are best)

1 bottle vinaigrette salad dressing (I most prefer Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano for this)

Directions

Slice tomatoes and onions.  Layer in a casserole (like French White) with a lid.

Pour entire bottle of dressing over the tomatoes and onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

 

That’s it!  The longer this stuff sits, the better it is.  It’s even better the next day, so if you can make it the morning of, or even the night before, it’s best.

If you’re having burgers, some of us like to put this salad directly on our burgers for extra zing.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Burgers

Not quite “The Full Monty,” but pretty good nonetheless!

It’s my hubby’s birthday today, and he has requested for his dinner tonight, these stuffed burgers.  He will have to barbecue them, but he doesn’t mind at all, because the payoff is amazing.

Please keep in mind that these are just my version of these burgers, and you could change them up in hundreds of different ways.  Different meats, different stuffings, etc.  You’re only limited by your imagination!

Notes in blue I’ve added after making them last night.

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef I actually used one package, about a pound.

1 lb, or 4-6 links of your favourite sausages, removed from the casings – I actually used a little more than a pound, I found this in bulk in the meat section of the grocery store.  There was more sausage in these burgers than beef last night…and they were so good! 🙂

2 eggs – To be honest, once I got home I realized I had no eggs, so I took a chance and omitted them, as opposed to going back out to the store.  The burgers were fine without them.

a healthy shake of Worchestershire sauce

salt and pepper

1-2 onions, sliced finely

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced – I forgot to add before that once the mushrooms are sauteed, I chopped them slightly so that they weren’t so big inside the burger, and were more the same size as the bacon and onion.

4-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 cup or so cheddar or marble cheese, shredded.

Directions:

In a hot skillet, heat some vegetable oil.  Add  onions and cook slowly until caramelized.  Set aside.  In same skillet, saute mushrooms until tender.  Once cooled, add mushrooms, onions, bacon and the cheese and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine meats, eggs and Worchestershire sauce.  Combine together until well incorporated and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Divide meat into equal sized portions.  With this much meat you could probably make 8 or so burgers.  Take a portion and flatten it out on your hand.  Take a good bunch of the filling and set it in the center of the patty.  Then wrap the meat up around the filling, and roll like a large meatball in your hand.  Make sure there is no filling peeking out anywhere and it is sealed completely.  Carefully flatten the patty between your hands or using something flat, like a large can or plate.

The most important thing is that when the burgers go on the grill, that there is no sign of filling, almost like you wouldn’t know they’re stuffed.  The filling has to melt inside the burger and cook in there.  If there is any cracks or anything, the filling will leak out, and you’ll lose it.

Cook on barbecue until desired doneness.  Serve on large toasted Kaiser rolls with your favourite burger side.  Sweet potato fries would be good. What I did this time, was butter my buns and throw them in a frying pan for a few minutes so the inside looked kind of like what a grilled cheese looks like.  I find it easier this way, because buns can burn quickly on the grill, and buttering them adds just a tiny bit of crunch and so much flavour.

Change this up any way you want.  Use different cheeses, different veggies, sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would be good.  Gorgonzola cheese would be awesome too.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for alternative stuffings, meats, etc.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Buckle

I’ve made this recipe several times – I originally got it out of my Anna Olsen cookbook – Sugar.  It is also available on the Food Network Canada website.  It’s a great coffee cake type dessert.  I love using yummy fresh blueberries for this, though frozen, thawed blueberries work fine as well.

Ingredients:

Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

2 cups blueberries

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add alternately with milk until incorporated.  Spread batter into 9 inch springform pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle blueberries on top.

In a small bowl, blend together sugar flour and cinnamon for Streusel.  Cut in butter with your fingers until crumbly and no large bits of butter are left. Sprinkle on top of berries.

Bake for 45-50 minutes – cool before serving.

 

Another thing that I do, and I believe that Anna used it as the switch up in her cookbook, was to add a cream cheese layer.  I used a block of softened cream cheese beaten and mix in a bit of sugar and vanilla, and spread in between the blueberries and the streusel.  I would up the baking time if you do this by about 10 minutes, but still check with a tester in the middle for doneness.

This will keep in an airtight container for a few days.  It’s great with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of homemade sweetened whipped cream.  Don’t forget your cup of tea or coffee.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

A few years ago now, we decided to have a dinner completely on the grill.  We grilled up all kinds of yummy savory things – sausages, stuffed peppers, etc etc etc.  But what to do for dessert?  My buddy Renee solved that problem with these fruit kabobs.

In this hot summer heat, we usually try to cook dinner on the grill to help keep the kitchen cool.  But what about when you’re having company, and want to make something impressive for dessert?  You can have a no-bake option, there are plenty of those.  You can fire up the oven and defeat the purpose of keeping the heat down.  Or, you can have your dessert off the grill like the rest of your meal.

Many fruits grill up beautifully.  The little bit of char from the grill combines wonderfully with the natural sugars of the fruit.  Fruit that is normally sweet gets that much sweeter when cooked over a fire.

You’ll want to use fruit that will stand up to the grill and the heat.  Raspberries and such are not recommended.  You’ll lose them for sure.  Great fruits for grilling are pineapple, peaches, strawberries, melons, even bananas.  Go crazy, use your favourites.  The little treat in between the fruit makes it that much better.  Get yours before they’re gone!

Ingredients:

2-3 different kinds of your favourite fruits, cut into chunks, about 1 inch.

1/2 to 1 loaf french bread, cut into cubes roughly the size of the fruit.

1 cup cinnamon sugar – use 1 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon – you might not need this much, but you can save the rest for other uses.  It’s great sprinkled on buttered toast.

1/2 cup (or more if needed) melted sweet butter

A bunch of wooden skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes or so, or metal ones, whichever is fine.

Directions:

Simply roll each piece of bread in the melted butter and then cinnamon sugar.  Put the fruit on the skewers, leaving some room on one end for turning.  For every two pieces of fruit, put one piece of bread on.

Clean your grill to get all the remnants of supper off.  Lay a piece of foil over the grill at one end for the ends of the skewers to hang over so they don’t burn.  Grill the kabobs over low heat, turning as necessary.  It’s okay to get a few grill marks on the fruit and bread, but be careful, with the high sugar content these can burn easily.  There is nothing to cook through here, you’re just heating them up, getting things going.  The bread becomes candy like – it’s delicious!

These are delicious with a bowl of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, a nice fruit sorbet, or simply a big blob of Cool Whip or whipped cream to dip in.

Be sure to make lots, the average is 2-3 kabobs per person.

Enjoy!

Taco Salad

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the many milestones that occur this year in my husbands’ family.  Several birthdays, my in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary, etc.  There was quite a bit of food, and my sister-in-law Jennifer’s friend Sarah brought this delicious taco salad.  I made sure to get the recipe from her so I could try it myself.

I had never been much of a taco salad person.  I think I ordered it once in a restaurant when I was younger.  But this is a great recipe, though I imagine not much different than the other recipes floating around out there.

I made it this weekend, and it was so good.  If you’ve never tried it, you should definitely take a stab at it.  I guarantee the bowl will be empty before you know it!

Makes 1 very large bowl.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 head lettuce – I used romaine – chopped and washed

1/2 green pepper, finely diced

2 green onions, sliced

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 bag of corn chips, or tortillas – I like the scoop kind for some reason

1 bottle Thousand Island dressing

Directions:

In a skillet, brown ground beef, and add taco seasoning, according to package instructions.  Set aside to cool, refrigerate until completely chilled.

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, green pepper, green onions, tomatoes, cheese and hamburger.  Crumble chips into large chunks, and add to salad.

Add bottle of dressing, and combine completely.  Store covered in fridge until ready to serve.

This is great even the next day, you can throw some fresh chips in for crunch and a bit more dressing.

I have a friend that uses Catalina dressing instead, that would be good too.

If you wanted, you could fancy it up slightly by plating each serving separately, and line the outside of each serving with large restaurant style chips, garnishing with fresh tomato, green onions and cheese, making it a main course.

This is great as a side, to take to a potluck or barbeque, or really, it can be a meal in itself.

Enjoy!

Butter Tarts

Honestly, who doesn’t love butter tarts?  Many people are intimidated by the thought of making them, but they don’t have to be just something that you either pick up in a store or bakery, or something that Grandma used to make.  This is a fairly simple recipe, and there really is nothing like homemade butter tarts.  Give these a try and enjoy with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  Delicious!

Ingredients:

Pastry:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup shortening, cubed

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vinegar

Ice water

Filling:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 egg

2 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp each vanilla and vinegar

pinch salt

1/4 cup raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, whatever your preference.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour with salt.  With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and shortening until in fine crumbs.  In 1 cup liquid measure, whisk egg yolk with vinegar, and add enough ice water to make 1/3 cup.  Gradually sprinkle over flour mixture, stirring briskly with a fork until pastry holds together.  Gather dough, press into disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until chilled.

For the filling: In a bowl, vigorously whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 1/8 inch thickness.  using a 4 inch round cookie cutter, or clean empty 28 oz can, cut out 12 circles, re-rolling scraps if necessary.  Fit into 2 3/4 inch muffin cups.  Divide raisins or nuts among pastry cups.  Spoon in filling until 3/4 full.

Bake in bottom third of 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden.  Let stand on rack for one minute.  To prevent sticking, immediately run a metal spatula around tarts to loosen.  Carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to let cool.

Makes 12 tarts.

If you have a pastry recipe that you prefer to use that is different than this one, go ahead and use it.  You can add whatever you like to the filling.  A handful of coconut might be good as well.  Or mini M&M’s for the kids.

Enjoy!

Quick Oven Ham “Tetrazzini”

This was another one that my mom made a lot growing up, because it was quick and easy.  This recipe calls for ham, but you could also use chicken, leftover turkey, whatever you like and have on hand.  If we had ham on the weekend though, you could pretty much bet that we would have this dish one night through the week.  It’s still a family favourite.

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover ham, cut up – or more.

1 large + one small can (or 3 small) cream of mushroom soup.

1 can sliced mushrooms, drained, or 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed until tender.

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

1/2 tbsp granulated garlic.

1 package Extra Broad Egg Noodles (I prefer regular to no-yolk for this recipe)  cooked and drained.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large casserole dish or roasting pan with a lid or a dutch oven, combine all ingredients until well incorporated.  Sprinkle a bit more Parmesan cheese on top.  Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove cover and allow to bake until hot and bubbly, and the cheese on top begins to brown slightly.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

This is great with a salad and a slice of crusty bread or garlic bread.

Being a pasta dish and fairly neutral, it lends itself to many additions.  You could add several kinds of veggies to this – if you saute your mushrooms, you could do onions at the same time and throw them in.  Chopped red peppers would be a nice addition.  Par boiled broccoli florets could be added as well.  You’re only limited to the scope of your imagination.

Enjoy!

My Family’s Version of “Goulash”

Growing up, my parents owned a business, and spent many hours there.  Often times, my Mom would resort to quick, go to meals, because by the time we all got home, not only was everyone tired, and sometimes a little grouchy, we were always hungry.

We always had homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer, so many weeks we would have spaghetti 3 times, just because it was easy.  This recipe we always called “Goulash,” though I don’t think it actually resembles authentic goulash that much at all.  We just called it that because we didn’t have another name for it.

It is a great go-to meal and I still crave it sometimes.  It’s made with staples that most people keep on hand all the time and can literally go from walking through the door to sitting down eating in 20 minutes.  And some nights, quick, easy, tasty and filling is totally where it’s at.

Ingredients:

1 pkg. lean or extra lean ground beef

granulated garlic

1 large can tomato soup

1 can beans in tomato sauce

3 cups 5 minute instant rice

Directions:

Brown ground beef in large skillet with cover.  Season with granulated garlic to taste.  Once browned, add soup and beans.  Stir to combine.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Serve over cooked rice.

 

That’s it, that’s all.  And I’m telling you, it’s soooo good.

Enjoy!

If you’ve got a similar “family favourite” I would love to hear about it in the comments section.