Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mississippi Mud Sheet Cake

I decided today that it was time to introduce my children to Mississippi mud cake.  The poor little darlings don't get enough sugar and butter in their diet, you know.  I can remember my mom making this a few times when I was a kid and I always loved it so much.  I went with this recipe I found at Hostess With The Mostess, because...well I just love a sheet cake.

At first I was a little disappointed with the flatness of the cake, but after all the deliciousness is added on top, turns out it's just perfect the way it is.  

Mississippi Mud Sheet Cake



1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into big chunks

½ cup cocoa

4 eggs, beaten well

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Mississippi Mud Frosting:

One 16-ounce box (about 3 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar

½ cup cocoa

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

½ cup milk or evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups mini-marshmallows, or 3 cups marshmallows, quartered


To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the cocoa and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the butter is melted and the mixture is well blended, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the beaten eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and pecans, and beat with a wooden spoon or spatula or with a mixer at low speed until the batter is well combined and smooth, and the flour has disappeared.

Quickly pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at the 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched gently in the center and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. *I only left mine in 17 minutes and that was plenty, the sides were just about to get crispy*

Prepare the frosting while the cake bakes; so that you will be ready to poor it over the hot cake. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the cocoa, and stir to mix them well. Add the melted butter, milk and vanilla, and use a large spoon or mixer at low speed to beat everything together well. Set aside until the cake is done.

Remove the cake from the oven, scatter the marshmallows over the top, and return the cake to the hot oven form about 3 minutes, to soften the marshmallows.

Place the cake, still in the pan, on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel. Pour the frosting all over the marshmallow-dotted cake, and cool to room temperature. Cut into small squares and serve.

*I didn't put the pecans in my cake, I sprinkled a few on top with the marshmallows*

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!  Next installment will be another edition of Seven Sporadic Questions featuring my first blogger from across the pond. Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork

Just between you and me, I have no idea what or where Cafe Rio is.  But I kept reading the praises of the pulled pork by this name and really wanted to try it.  I'm pretty glad I did.

This pork is so easy, and So tasty...a little sweet and little spicy.  I was rather full from test bites before dinner and didn't have much room left for the main event.  But I managed to muscle through it anyway.  Who could resist it in a taco rolled up with cilantro lime rice?  Not me!  

Here's the recipe from  Hope you like it!

3-4 lb. Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast
2 small cans El Pato Tomato sauce (found in the mexican aisle, this is a key ingredient)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
Wrap pork completely with foil, place in crock pot and pour ½ cup water around roast. Cook for 8 hours on low. Remove roast, drain juices, remove fat and shred. Dump the tomato sauces and brown sugar into the crockpot, stir together and add shredded pork back in. Cook two additional hours on low.

Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken broth
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbs. butter

Combine rice, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and the juice from 1 lime in a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook according to package directions. When rice is cooked, juice the additional lime and add in butter. Stir to incorporate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Petit Fours and Potatoes

I know I'm getting more and more sporadic as time goes on, not sure what my deal is.  But I recently got the wild idea for making petit fours for a baby shower.  I've always loved the idea of petit fours, they're just so...petite!  And I can eat way more than four of them.  This is the result, I'll say they turned out a little "rustic". 

They seemed to make everyone happy anyway, and were certainly tasty.  I just used a boxed cake mix, split it in two, and put raspberry jam in the middle.  I followed the process found at a blog called "Fly Through My Window" for the frosting.  It was fun, but pretty sure it's something I can put behind me now.

These potatoes, I've made them several times and they're SO delicious.  We love to eat them with grilled skirt steak with chimichurri...yum!

I'm not really sure where the recipe came from.  My husband printed it from somewhere a few years ago and we like it so much we've managed to keep up with the recipe.  Here it is...

Grilled Potatoes with Parmesan and Herbs

3 pounds small red skinned potatoes  (or whatever smallish potatoes you have on hand)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain potatoes and cool.
Prepare grill (med heat).  Cut potatoes in half, transfer to a large bowl.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and toss to coat.  Grill potatoes until golden, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.  Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over and add remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Crumb Topping

I had a can of pumpkin that has been sitting on my counter forever, just begging me to do something with it.  I found this recipe from "Food & Wine" and saw that it required only ingredients that I already had, so I went for it.  Heaven forbid that I have to make a trip to the store!

These smelled delightful when they were baking...all cinnamon-ey and pumpkin-ey.  Smelled like fall may have actually arrived.  When I had one warm out of the oven, it really wasn't everything I had hoped for.  It just tasted like something was missing.  And the cream cheese filling didn't really stay in the middle like it was supposed to, but oozed up the sides and out the top a little bit.  That didn't really bother me, I enjoy oozing cream cheese.

When I had one later that had cooled off to room temperature, I liked it a lot better.  And you can never go wrong with crumb topping.  

Here's the recipe:


  • Filling
    1. 1/3 cup cream cheese
    2. 1 large egg yolk
    3. 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Topping
    1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2. 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    3. 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
    5. 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Muffins
    1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    3. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    4. Pinch of ground cloves
    5. 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    6. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
    8. 2 large eggs
    9. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    10. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    11. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree


  1. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Cover and freeze until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers. Press the mixture into small clumps. Refrigerate the topping until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the brown sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat in the dry ingredients until evenly incorporated.
  4. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Drop heaping teaspoons of the cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and spoon the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.

I was really excited to get to try a Tervis Tumbler as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program.  I had never heard of them but thought they looked great.  You know how some girls have a thing for shoes?  I have a thing for anything that holds beverages.  Anytime I'm out somewhere and see some new or interesting water bottle or travel mug, I have a hard time holding back.  I'm not sure why really.  But I digress....  this mug is just perfect, and I love that it's insulated.  I hate when my glass gets condensation all over the place.   In fact, it was the perfect size to hold one of these....

Have you seen these at in the stores?  It's like a juice pouch for grown ups, except there's no straw attached.  You just throw it in the freezer, and in a couple of hours you have a delicious frozen drink.  And the tumbler kept it nice and slushy for quite a long time.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fresh Tomato and Cheese Pizza

I will give you 3 guess as to what cookbook this came from.  Clearly, I'm obsessed.  Sometimes, that's a good thing.

It's a good thing if you like delicious and somewhat better for you pizza.  It starts with Bittman's "Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough", then is simply topped with a tomato and cheese mixture.  My daughter said it tasted like an Olive Garden pizza.  I think it was a compliment.

I personally loved this pizza.  I loved the flavor and texture of the dough, and it reheated well too.  It made me a happy girl.

Here's how to do it:
For the dough
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings
about 3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 tbsp chopped basil or fresh oregano
Salt and black pepper

1.  Combine the flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups water.  The dough should be relatively sticky and wet, like biscuit batter.  If not, add a little more water.

2.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and put it in a warm spot.  Let the dough sit for at least 6, or up to 12 hours.  (The longer it ferments, the more complex the flavors). 

3.  When you're ready, heat the oven 500F.  Generously oil a baking sheet or large ovenproof skillet.  Dust your hands with a little white flour and fold the dough over in the bowl a few times.  It will be sticky, but resist the urge to use too much flour.  Gently press the dough into the skillet or onto the baking sheet...doesn't have to be perfect.  Drizzle the top with 2 tbsp olive oil.

4.  Put 1 tbsp of the oil in a skillet over med low heat; when it's hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently until it softens, about 1 minute.  Raise the heat a bit and add the tomatoes; cook, stirring frequently, just until most of their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Let the tomatoes cool.

5.  Toss the tomatoes with the mozzarella, Parmesan, and herbs.  Spread the mixture on the pizza dough and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese melted, about 8 to 12 minutes.  Let stand for several minutes before slicing so the cheese sets.  

This is the part of the post where I'd like to tell you about the totally awesome Bauducco Panettone I received as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program.  And it was so awesome we tore right through it without doing anything creative (or photogenic).  We were also unknowingly assisted with a rather large portion of the chocolate chip panettone by our friend Rinny.  

Yes I know chocolate is bad for dogs, someone should tell Rinny that.  
Don't worry, he's okay :)