PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE, TIKA’S BEST

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE (3)
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE. LOOK AT THE EDGES OF THE ROUND CAKE. THIS WAS BAKED IN A CAST IRON SKILLET

     This has been my only pineapple upside down cake recipe forever.  I cannot count the times I made it for my parents for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthday dinners, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.  It was their very favorite and I made sure they had it often.  If you can bake it in a cast iron pan, you’ll end up with a slightly crispy outside that you will go crazy over, as well as a tender moist cake.  It isn’t necessary to use a cast iron pan, but as with cornbread, cast iron will give you the best results. It is truly a beautiful cake, and if baking it for guests, trust me; they WILL be impressed. 

     You will note that my recipe calls for crushed pineapple instead of rings.  I’ve done this for years because you get a full taste of pineapple with every bite, instead of hit or miss.  I chop my nuts for the same reason.  Cherries?  I really don’t count them. I just drain some on a flat dish, cut them in half, and place them all over until it looks pretty, and call it good. 

INGREDIENTS:

This recipe makes a 9 x 9.  Double to make a 9 x 13 (The batter will be too much for an 8” pan. It’s very fluffy. If you only have 8”, make a mini cake with the leftover batter)

 Cake:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup milk

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp allspice

¾ tsp cinnamon

1 ¼ cup AP flour

Topping:

¼ cup butter

½ cup brown sugar

1 small can (8 ½ oz) crushed pineapple in juice, drained

12 maraschino cherries, cut in half

6 pecan halves or walnuts (I like to chop them)

 

PREPARATION:

In mixer bowl, beat sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Add vanilla, milk, salt, baking powder, allspice and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Add flour, and mix. Set aside.

In whatever metal cake pan you’re using, put it right on the burner to melt the butter.  (If using glass pans, melt butter in microwave). Remove from heat.  Sprinkle brown sugar over butter and make sure to spread the butter and sugar evenly.  Next, add the drained pineapple.  (I hope you drink the juice.  My kids always fought over it when they were little). Evenly spread out the halved cherries and nuts.  Pour batter on last and bake 35-45 min at 350° F.  Use the toothpick test.

Here comes the fun part.  Put the cake on a wire rack.  Place whatever gorgeous serving dish you’re going to serve your cake on, upside down on top of the cake. Wait ten minutes.  Using pot holders, pick up plate and pan together.  Flip it over, and like magic, the cake will pop right out.  Every once in a while you’ll get a small bit of the topping that stays in the pan.  No problem.  Since this cake needs to look perfect, take a butter knife and scrape it out of the pan.  Spread it on the cake and blend it in.  Nobody will ever see it.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE (3)
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE. LOOK AT THE EDGES OF THE ROUND CAKE. THIS WAS BAKED IN A CAST IRON SKILLET

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015

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PIZZA

PIZZA

     Who doesn’t love pizza?  I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person who didn’t love it.  Having a pizza party at your home is awesome!  You make the crust and let people put their own toppings on.  Kids from two to ninety love making their own.

 

EASY HOMEMADE PIZZA

I have found this pizza dough recipe to be easy to work with and it will rise beautifully in the oven. Tastes pretty darn good, too! I always make at least a double batch and freeze some.  It’s so handy to have on hand.

INGREDIENTS FOR TWO CRUSTS:

2 pkg. active yeast
2 cups tepid water (90°-105°F)
2 TBSP sugar
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
5½ – 6 cups AP flour
4 cloves crushed garlic
OPTIONAL HERBS:
Parsley, onion powder, about ¾ tsp each
Basil, Italian seasoning, about 1/2 tsp each

PREPARATION:

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar. Wait a few minutes. Add oil, salt, and garlic. In an electric mixer, using your dough hook, mix in 3 cups flour and mix for about 7 – 8 minutes on med/low speed until the dough begins to become cohesive. Add remaining flour one cup at a time, and mix for about five minutes. Dough should be only very lightly sticky. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size.

Punch down and then remove dough to a floured surface. Cut dough in half. Knead until smooth and elastic. Remember to flour your hands and/or the top of the dough if it is too sticky. Place dough on floured baking sheets or pans. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.

Add sauce, cheese and toppings, in that order. Bake at 500° F for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted, browned and bubbly and underside of crust is golden.

EASY HOMEMADE PIZZA SAUCE:
This sauce takes NO time at all and your family will love it. Make a double or triple batch and freeze the leftover. I do it all the time.

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBSP olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large can crushed or chunky style tomatoes
½ small can tomato paste
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp Parsley
I like my pizza sauce a little on the sweet side, so I often add a teaspoon of sugar.
PREPARATION:
In sauce pan, heat oil and cook onion and garlic until slightly tender. Add paste and tomatoes and bring to simmer. Add seasonings and simmer for just a couple of minutes. DONE!

PIZZA (2)

PIZZA

 

PIZZA (3)

PIZZA STROMBOLI

 

 

PIZZA (8)

PIZZA (9)PIZZA (10)PIZZA (11)PIZZA (12)

PIZZA (13)

PIZZA (3)

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015

 

RUSSIAN TEA CAKES, ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES, MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES

RUSSIAN TEA CAKES, ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES, MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES, ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES, MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES

Call them whatever you want. They’re all so similar that you won’t have a problem renaming them. I do know, however, that some Italian recipes use anise. I am posting my Russian grandmother’s recipe which is the only one I use. The recipe is well over 100 years old.

You can mix them and have the first tray in the oven in about five minutes. Love that? I thought you might!

INGREDIENTS:

In mixer bowl, combine:  1 cup soft butter

½ cup sifted 10X sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Sift together:  2 ½ cups flour

¼ tsp salt

Add:  ¾ cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)

PREPARATION:

Roll dough into 1” balls.  Place 2 ½” apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Raise rack so they don’t burn on the bottom, or use parchment paper or silicone baking sheet.

Bake until set, but not brown.  400* for 10-12 min

While still warm, roll in 10X sugar.

YIELD:  40 COOKIES

Ready to go in the oven
Ready to go in the oven
FULLY BAKED COOKIES. They have firmed up, but not browned. That is perfect.
FULLY BAKED COOKIES. They have firmed up, but not browned. That is perfect.
Dip very warm cookies in confectioner's sugar. Use a small deep bowl for this.
Dip very warm cookies in confectioner’s sugar. Use a small deep bowl for this.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES, ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES, MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES, ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES, MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015

AFRICAN VIOLETS

AFRICAN VIOLETS
AFRICAN VIOLETS

Many of you probably don’t know what an avid gardener and houseplant person I am. Unfortunately, where we live, it is difficult to have outside plants due to an overpopulation of deer. What I do grow is behind a fence, in pots, in one corner of the driveway. *sigh *big sigh. The other issue here is that we have underground springs in the back and on the sides of our house. So unless I want to garden in the front yard, I’m stuck.

This brings me to some of what I grow indoors where there are no stinkin’ deer and no underground springs. Pictured below are my african violets. I have loved growing them forever. The best window in our house to grow them is the laundry room. Contrary to popular believe, african violets love sun, as long as they are not too close to the window. If the hot sun shines directly on them, they won’t like it. You can filter the sun with sheer curtains, just be careful about growing them on a window sill because they may get burned. You’ll see some babies mixed in here which are still too young to blossom, and since space is limited here, I don’t have as many as I normally would.

     Hope you like them.

Gail

2015-11-08 17.44.11
AFRICAN VIOLETS
AFRICAN VIOLETS
AFRICAN VIOLETS

SHRIMP SCAMPI

SHRIMP SCAMPI
SHRIMP SCAMPI

     Shrimp scampi is easy, trust me.  And the best part is that it is restaurant quality delicious.  In fact, this recipe is better than many restaurants.  It’s a wonderful dinner for special occasions, too.  It tastes so labor intensive, but it isn’t.  The actual cooking time is less than five minutes. Yep, less than five minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

12 – 16 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Drizzle of olive oil

4 TBSP butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chardonnay wine

Parsley

Salt and pepper

Serve with lemon wedges

PREPARATION:

In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and melt butter.

When it’s come up to a nice strong simmer, add garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the seasonings and wine. Bring back to a simmer.

Add shrimp and flip them continually so they absorb the flavors of the butter and garlic. When they are pink (3-4 minutes), it’s time to eat!

Yes, it’s that simple, really!  Serve with lemon wedges.

Shrimp Scampi (2)

SHRIMP SCAMPI
SHRIMP SCAMPI

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015

ORZO WITH GARLIC PARMESAN SAUCE AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

ORZO WITH GARLIC PARMESAN SAUCE AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS
ORZO WITH GARLIC PARMESAN SAUCE AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

     A delicious side dish that’s quick and easy.  Customize it by changing the Brussels sprouts to asparagus, peas, or other favorite vegetableI think it would be wonderful with fish, meatloaf, poultry, or just about anything.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup orzo pasta

¼ cup butter

1 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP garlic, minced

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup milk

Parsley

Salt and pepper

2 cups Brussels sprouts, cooked

PREPARATION:

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain.

In a large skillet, place butter and olive oil.  Sauté garlic until tender. Add the Parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Add cooked Brussels sprouts and cooked orzo.  Heat through.

YIELD: 6 servings

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015

AUTHENTIC FRENCH BAGUETTES

AUTHENTIC FRENCH BAGUETTES
AUTHENTIC FRENCH BAGUETTES

Authentic French Baguettes (2) Authentic French Baguettes

     Let me start off by saying that this is not one of my original recipes.  Although not difficult, it is very time-consuming and requires a slow fermentation in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours.  Plan accordingly if you decide to give these a try.  You will NOT be sorry.  To say that they are out of this world might be a gross understatement.

Cooks Country says:  “Why this recipe works:

For a homemade baguette that rivals the best from Parisian boulangeries, we took a trip to France to learn firsthand what it takes. The problem with most published recipes, we discovered, is that all the small details that matter are glossed over. For an authentic wheaty flavor, we add a bit of whole-wheat flour (sifted to remove some of the larger pieces of bran that would otherwise add bitterness and make the loaf dense) to the white flour. Mixing the dough in a machine and then using a series of gentle folds to develop the dough creates the perfect tender, irregular internal crumb. Next we employ a long, slow rise in the refrigerator, which delivers the complex flavor of fermentation while making the recipe flexible, since we can bake the loaves anytime within a three-day window. To shape the loaves perfectly without overworking the dough, we employ a multistep approach that gradually transforms them into baguettes. Finally, we ensure a crispy, crackly crust by moistening the couche, the pleated linen cloth that holds the loaves as they proof, and by starting the loaves beneath a pair of upturned disposable roasting pans to trap steam as it evaporates from the exterior of the dough.

Authentic Baguettes at Home

Most American baguettes are doughy and pale, and the recipes we found weren’t much better. To get it right, we went to Paris to learn from the masters.

Watch the Video  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/8048-authentic-baguettes-at-home?tag=atkntk-20&extcode=LN15B3QAA&sourcekey=CL15023AA

Makes four 15-inch-long baguettes

If you can’t find King Arthur all-purpose flour, substitute bread flour. For best results, weigh your ingredients. This recipe makes enough dough for four loaves, which can be baked anytime during the 24- to 72-hour window after placing the dough in the fridge. For tips on folding and slashing, see “Why Some Bread Doughs Are Folded” and “Slashing Rustic Loaves” under related content. It’s essential to watch our video on making baguettes.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1 1/3 ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
  • 2 (16 by 12-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pans

http://www.wisegeek.org/ Malt powder or malt flour is present in numerous baked goods where it imparts a natural sweetness. It tends to make baked goods browner and shinier. Malt powder may be used alone to make malted milk shakes, a combination of ice cream, sometimes flavored syrups, milk and maltpowder. Alone and uncooked, this flour can have a bitter aftertaste, which is usually not noticeable when it is mixed with other ingredients.

There are two types of malt powder available. Diastatic malt powder is allowed to develop enzymes, which digest starches into sugar. When diastatic malt is used in baked goods, it tends to result in sweeter, smoother, and higher rises. The extra sugar it produces helps feed yeasts used to make yeast dough, so less yeast can be used.

Much more common is non-diastatic malt. This does not have enzymes but it can still impart wonderful flavor, and lovely appearance to baked goods. Non-diastatic malt is common in malted milk powder. Both forms may be available at your local health food store, but non-diastatic malt is usually easier to find. Some non-diastatic malts are blended with maltodextrin, to be used as a sugar substitute.

In total, there isn’t much nutritional value to malt powder. About one and half teaspoons (4 grams) have approximately 15 calories. This is comparable to sugar, which has about 16 calories per teaspoon. It is fat free, but isn’t rich in vitamins. Mostly, it functions to provide extra flavoring in foods, and with diastatic malt, to help conserve yeast and rise bread. Malt affects appearance and may be desired for its ability to give nice brown crusts to bread or to cause bagels and biscuits to shine.

To use diastatic malt in bread, the key is to be sparing. You should plan to replace about one teaspoon of sugar in the bread with half a teaspoon of malt. The malt should be mixed in with yeast while it proofs. Malt is also used as a way to convert carbohydrates to sugar in beer. A lot ofmalt will give the beer a more alcohol taste. This is why it’s valuable to use a small amount in bread; too much can make yeast in bread overproofed, and the dough will be hard to work with. The final product can have a faint alcohol or sour smell, which is considered highly undesirable.

Instructions

  1. 1. Sift whole-wheat flour through fine-mesh strainer into bowl of stand mixer; discard bran remaining in strainer. Add all-purpose flour, salt, yeast, and malt powder, if using, to mixer bowl. Fit stand mixer with dough hook, add water, and knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms and no dry flour remains, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  1. Holding edge of dough with your fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward center. Turn bowl 45 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 folds). Cover with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times. After fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 72 hours.
  2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, pat into 8-inch square (do not deflate), and divide in half. Return 1 piece of dough to container, wrap tightly with plastic, and refrigerate (dough can be shaped and baked anytime within 72-hour window). Divide remaining dough in half crosswise, transfer to lightly floured rimmed baking sheet, and cover loosely with plastic. Let rest for 45 minutes.
  3. On lightly floured counter, roll each piece of dough into loose 3- to 4-inch-long cylinder; return to floured baking sheet and cover with plastic. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly mist underside of couche with water, drape over inverted baking sheet, and dust with flour. Gently press 1 piece of dough into 6 by 4-inch rectangle on lightly floured counter, with long edge facing you. Fold upper quarter of dough toward center and press gently to seal. Rotate dough 180 degrees and repeat folding step to form 8 by 2-inch rectangle.
  5. Fold dough in half toward you, using thumb of your other hand to create crease along center of dough, sealing with heel of your hand as you work your way along the loaf. Without pressing down on loaf, use heel of your hand to reinforce seal (do not seal ends of loaf).
  6. Cup your hand over center of dough and roll dough back and forth gently to tighten (it should form dog-bone shape).
  7. Starting at center of dough and working toward ends, gently and evenly roll and stretch dough until it measures 15 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide. Moving your hands in opposite directions, use back and forth motion to roll ends of loaf under your palms to form sharp points.
  8. Transfer dough to floured couche, seam side up. On either side of loaf, pinch edges of couche into pleat, then cover loosely with large plastic garbage bag.
  9. Repeat steps 4 through 9 with second piece of dough and place on opposite side of pleat. Fold edges of couche over loaves to cover completely, then carefully place sheet inside bag, and tie or fold under to enclose.
  10. Let stand until loaves have nearly doubled in size and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your fingertip, 45 to 60 minutes. While bread rises, adjust oven rack to middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  11. Line pizza peel with 16 by 12-inch piece of parchment paper with long edge perpendicular to handle. Unfold couche, pulling from ends to remove pleats. Gently pushing with side of flipping board, roll 1 loaf over, away from other loaf, so it is seam side down. Using your hand, hold long edge of flipping board between loaf and couche at 45-degree angle, then lift couche with your other hand and flip loaf seam side up onto board.
  12. Invert loaf onto parchment-lined peel, seam side down, about 2 inches from long edge of parchment, then use flipping board to straighten loaf. Repeat with remaining loaf, leaving at least 3 inches between loaves.
  13. Holding lame concave side up at 30-degree angle to loaf, make series of three 4-inch long, 1/2-inch-deep slashes along length of loaf, using swift, fluid motion, overlapping each slash slightly. Repeat with second loaf.
  14. Transfer loaves, on parchment, to baking stone, cover with stacked inverted disposable pans, and bake for 5 minutes. Carefully remove pans and bake until loaves are evenly browned, 12 to 15 minutes longer, rotating parchment halfway through baking. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Consume within 4 hours.

Making Parisian Quality Baguettes

Gentle shaping is key for authentic texture. For the best flavor, here’s what we do:

AUTHENTIC SHRIMP LO MEIN

SHRIMP LO MEIN
SHRIMP LO MEIN

I have to say that I am very excited about the way this dish turned out.  Typical of Chinese food, it is light handed with the spices, allowing the true flavors of the food to come shining through.  It was easy, as well as delicious, and I plan on making it again soon!  If your family doesn’t care for seafood, or if you have leftover chicken or pork, use that instead of shrimp!

I served it with egg rolls and my Asian chicken.  The chicken recipe is posted.

INGREDIENTS:

2 egg whites

4 TBSP corn starch, divided

12 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ½ cups snow peas or ½ cup frozen peas, thawed

2 stalks celery, cut diagonally (about 1 cup)

1 cup shredded carrot

1 medium onion, sliced from top to bottom

1 cup sliced mushrooms

SAUCE:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp grated fresh ginger root

1 chicken bullion

4 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

3 TBSP honey or sugar

2 tsp sriracha sauce

12 oz canton or noodles of your choice

PREPARATION:

In a medium bowl, beat 2 egg whites with 2 TBSP corn starch using a whisk. Set aside.

Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a medium skillet over medium/high heat.  (Make sure your shrimp is dry.  If not, pat dry with paper toweling)  Place shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle with 2 TBSP corn starch.  Stir to evenly coat.  Place 5 or 6 shrimp in egg white/corn starch mixture and flip to coat.  With tongs or slotted spoon, let excess batter run off. Fry until lightly brown and crispy, flip and cook other side.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Keep warm. Continue until all shrimp is cooked.

Cook noodles and drain.

In a large skillet over medium/high heat, add a few TBSP canola oil.  Add carrots, mushrooms, and celery.  Cook for 2 min. Add onion, cooking 2 minutes more. Pour the sauce in and stir.  Add cooked noodles and stir to coat with the sauce.  Allow a few minutes to reheat.

Plate the noodles and vegetables.  Place shrimp on top.  Serve.

VEGETABLES FOR LO MEIN. BROCCOLI WOULD BE A GREAT SUBSTITUTION FOR THE PEAS!
VEGETABLES FOR LO MEIN. BROCCOLI WOULD BE A GREAT SUBSTITUTION FOR THE PEAS!
SHRIMP LO MEIN
SHRIMP LO MEIN
SHRIMP LO MEIN, ASIAN CHICKEN AND EGG ROLLS
SHRIMP LO MEIN, ASIAN CHICKEN AND EGG ROLLS

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By Tika for CHEW WANNA EAT? © 2015