Friday, August 30, 2013

Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake

I received my September issue of Southern Living Magazine in the mail.  The fall issues of magazines are my favorite.  This issue is not disappointing at all it is chalked full of wonderful recipes it was hard to decided what to fix first.

I decided on the Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake.  It is a simple recipe packed with a ton of flavor and just a beautiful cake.  Now I did have my issues with the Caramel sauce and that is because I live at high altitude and have yet to perfect caramel.  But I'm not giving up.  The recipe I used is from the magazine unless noted differently.  If I do use a high altitude recipe it will always be stated as such.

Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake
Southern Living Magazine - September 2013 issue page 100

2 1/3 cups finely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons apple pie spice  *
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups peeled and grated granny smith apples
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider caramel sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cup of toasted pecans into 2 buttered shiny 9 inch round cake pans.  Stir together flour, soda and spice in a small bowl and set aside. Stir together eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add flour mixture stir until just blended.  Fold in apples, carrots and remaining pecans.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pans and allow to cool on the wire racks, completely.

Place one cake layer, pecan side down on serving plate.  Spread top of the cake layer with 2/3 cup of Apple Cider Caramel Sauce; top with remaining cake layer, pecan side down. Spread Mascarpone Frosting (recipe below) over top of cake. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Caramel Sauce over frosting and swirl into frosting.  I took a 2/3 cup of whole pecans toasted them and coated them with the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce and placed on top of the cake.

* If you are unable to find the apple pie spice like me you can use 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground cardamon.

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
Southern Living Magazine - September 2013 issue page 98

1 cup apple cider
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

Over medium heat cook cider in a 3 quart saucepan stirring often for 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in brown sugar, butter and whipping cream.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.  Refrigerate for up to one week.

Mascarpone Frosting
Southern Living Magazine - September 2013 issue page page 100

1 8 oz container mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 cup whipping cream

Whisk together mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla until just blended.  Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into mascarpone mixture.

Reminder:  Cookbook Giveaway on Living Rancho Delux's Facebook Page
Jam Hands

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's a Facebook Giveaway

Cookbook Giveaway on Living Rancho Delux Facebook Page

In honor of Facebook now allowing Giveaways I will be giving away a cookbook:

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some by John Currence This cookbook is not available until October 1st. 

The Rules:

Since the book will not be released until October 1st I will take entries until October 1st midnight eastern time. Winner will be announced October 2nd and must reply within 48 hours with their address.

Leave a comment on my Facebook Page

Share my Giveaway on Facebook

That's it, easy as pie, over and out

Apple Raisin Shortcake

Fall is right around the corner.  Pretty soon the air will have a crisp bite to it and the leaves will be changing colors.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I have already starting making my favorite  fall comfort foods.

When you think of shortcake you think of spring and strawberries.  It's time to change things up and make that shortcake a fall classic with Apples and Raisins.  Even if you are not a whiskey drinker it's worth buying a small pocket size bottle for this recipe.  Whiskey with butter makes desserts so incredibly delicious.  That leftover whiskey will not go to waste I have other recipes where I use whiskey check them out.

Apple Raisin Shortcake

Apple and Raisin Mixture

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup good whiskey (you can sub apple cider)
3 cooking apples, chopped (your choice to peal the apples I like them rustic so I leave them on)
1 cup raisins

Melt butter in a saucepan on medium low, add brown sugar and vanilla stir until brown sugar has melted.  Add apples, raisins and whiskey stir until completely coated with sugar mixture.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally.  You want the apples a little soft but still have a bite.

Inspired by Alton Brown's Recipe

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup International Delight French Vanilla Creamer
melted butter to brush shortcakes

Pre-heat oven 450 degrees.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening.  Mix in ID creamer and drop by large spoonfuls.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and gold brown around the edges.

Top shortcake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and apple raisin mixture, make sure you spoon the syrup over the ice cream.

Until Next Time,

Shared on Weekend-Potluck #82

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

FOOTBALL SEASON!  I have a bunch of teams I cheer on however, the number one team I cheer for are the New Orleans Saints.  I have been a Saints fan for over 30 years, yes even during the paper bag days.  That reminds me I need to get a Number 9 Drew Brees jersey.  I currently have a jersey but that player has long left the Saints and that calls for a new jersey.

I know it's pre-season football but hey at my house football is football and every game needs Game Day grub.  In honor of the "Pig Skin" I am making Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Day One

Large Pork Butt

Pork Rub

3 tablespoons San Antonio Style Quick Chili Mix
3 tablespoons Lawry's Seasonings
3 tablespoons Chili Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

Trim pork butt of excess fat and sprinkle generously with pork rub (any extra rub place in a airtight container).  Wrap tight with cellophane place in a casserole dish in the refrigerator overnight. 

Day Two

1 32 oz box beef broth 
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 bay leaf

Sear pork butt in a skill then place in a large dutch oven at beef broth, carrot, onion and bay leaf.  Cover and place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 4 to 6 hours until it is tender.  Check every 2 hours to see if it needs more liquid.  If it does need liquid just add water half way up the pork.  Allow to cool to handle, remove any fat and shred pork.  I like to crisp up the pork for my sandwiches.  I heat olive oil in a skillet and add the shredded pork. On a medium high flame I cook the cook until it just starts to crisp but still tender.

You can also put it in a slow cooker overnight on high.  I would add a 2 cups of water to the broth for the slow cooker.   Reserve some of the broth to dip the buns in.  The pulled pork also makes great tacos, nachos, burritos and enchiladas.

Bonus Hint:  The rub mixture is also delicious sprinkled lightly on watermelon, cantaloupe and apples


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
zest of one lemon
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 large head of cabbage
3 carrots
1/2 onion, grated

Using a food processor chop cabbage and carrots finely (I will hand chop the cabbage and carrots after I run them through the food processor).  Place in a large bowl mix in the grated onion.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour oven cabbage mixture.  Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serve on top of the pulled pork sandwich or as a side dish

Building your sandwich you can add your favorite BBQ Sauce, Onions or Cheese

Monday, August 19, 2013

Barilla Veggie Farfalle Pasta Dish

I sometimes have a tendency to over think and over add things to recipes.  This is one time I listened to that little voice in my head that said no you do not need to add that.  It started with red pepper flakes, I have a love affair with red pepper flakes I decided to leave them out of this dish figuring the cajan seasonings was enough spice.  I was also toying with the idea of adding balsamic vinegar and that voice again said don't do it.  

I didn't tell my husband about the items I was going to add.  During dinner I asked him what he thought of the dish.  He said everything that I put in the dish was the right combination of flavors.  My little voice said I told you so.

Barilla Veggie Farfalle with Chicken, Bacon, Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1 lb box Barilla Veggie Farfalle - Freshly Pureed Carrots and Squash (or your favorite pasta)
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 container of brussels sprouts, cut in half
6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 450 degrees - Cover a sheet pan (jelly roll pan) with aluminum foil.  Add the asparagus and brussel sprouts to the pan.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables add bacon, salt and pepper toss and spread out over pan evenly.  Roast in hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes until veggies are tender and bacon is cooked.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Sprinkle cajun seasonings over cubed chicken so all of the chicken is coated.  Place pieces of chicken in the hot skillet cooking a small amount at a time.  Cook on both side approx. 3 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and continue cooking chicken until all chicken is cooked and set aside.

Cook pasta according to directions drain and put back into pot.  Add the vegetables and chicken to the pasta.  Heat remaining olive oil add garlic cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, do not brown garlic.  Pour over pasta mixture and toss.  Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Jam Hands

Friday, August 16, 2013

Light Dinner Wednesday

Wednesday is dedicated to a light dinner I will pick up vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread from the Farmer's Market and fix it for dinner.  

I don't always do "no-cooking" as our light dinner.  Sometimes I roast vegetables and serve it with a rustic bread or it might be gazpacho soup or a grilled cheese sandwich with a small salad.

Wednesday dinner was wonderful no turning on the oven, watermelon, blackberries, white cheddar cheese, Greek Yogurt, pistachios, brie cheese and rustic bread.

A relaxing stress-free evening - Simple Pleasures

Do you dedicate a night to cooking light? and What do you fix?

Until Next Time,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Baking Partners August Challenge

August Baking Partners Challenge is "World Cookies"  

We had our choice of making one or more of the following cookies - Speculoos from Dutch, Kourabeithes from Greece, Biscotti from Italy and Chinese Almond Cookies from China.

I make Biscotti often so I thought best that I stay away from something I am already familiar with my choice was to go with one of my favorite cookies and that was the Chinese Almond Cookies.  The only time I have them is when I go out for Chinese food.

I must say I didn't expect them to be so easy to make although I do need to work on getting the dough more round, mine came out oblong.  I don't usually have a problem with high altitude with cookies but with this recipe I did.  There was not enough moisture since this is a learning experience I went with adding a little more Amaretto.  It did add the moisture however my cookies did not puff up they are more like a biscuit.  I have no problem with that they are great dipping in my hot tea and coffee and the flavor is delicious. 

I want to thank Suja of Kitchen Corner Try It for suggesting Chinese Almond Cookies and finding the recipe from The Secrets of Baking-Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts by Sherry Yard

Chinese Almond Cookies
Yield 3 dozen 

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
6 ounce (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup for rolling
1/2 cup almond paste
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Amaretto or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white lightly beaten
1/2 cup almonds (I chose almond slivers I had them on hand)

Sift together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.  Using a standing mixer or a hand mixer cream the butter until it is a pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sugar, almond paste, orange zest, salt and Amaretto.  Cream together on medium speed until it is smooth and lump free for about one minute. Add egg and beat at low speed for 30 seconds or until fully incorporated.  Add flour a little at a time until all flour is incorporated and forms a ball.  Remove small handfuls of dough from the mixer and plop them down the middle of a sheet of parchment paper, creating a log about 2 inches wide and twelve inches long.  Fold the parchment over creating a sausage.  Chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  When the dough has chilled remove it from the parchment, pour the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar onto your work surface and roll the log in the sugar.  Using a sharp knife cut 1/3 inch rounds off the log. Place the cookies two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each cookie lightly with the beaten egg white and press almond into the center of each cookie.  Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment directly on your work surface and allow to cool to room temperature.

In the next day or so I will be posting a link to this blog post where you will be able to view the other cookie recipes that other members of Baking Partners blogs.  If you would like to become a member of the Baking Partners please click on this Link to our Facebook Page

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leftover Bread?

Leftover bread going to waste?  Make croutons!  I didn't realize I had two half eaten La Brea Bakery loafs of Roasted Garlic Bread going to waste.  If it wasn't roasted garlic I would have made some bread pudding so instead I went with making some croutons.

There is no right or wrong way to make croutons you make them to your taste, with herbs you have on hand, your favorite cheese(s).  I used the herbs I had in my garden and leftover cheese in the fridge.


Leftover bread cut into cubes (I did mine pretty thick - I like them that way)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small skillet heat butter, olive oil and the rest of the spices over low heat for 6 minutes.  Place cubed bread on a jelly roll/cookie sheet.  Drizzle butter mixture over cubes of bread along with half the cheese and toss to coat bread.  Top with the remaining cheese bake for 10 - 18 minutes depending on the size of the cubes.  Check on them often once you get to 10 minutes.  Keep in an airtight container.  I love the bigger croutons to dip in soup.

Bonus Helpful Hint: I even keep the crumbs, cheese and spices that are left on the bottom of the pan.  I put them in a airtight container and keep in the fridge to use over the next few days.  There is so much flavor in those crumbs.  Sprinkle on your cheese before making your grilled cheese sandwich, sprinkle on your popcorn after you toss your popcorn with butter, sprinkle over your pasta before serving.

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Urgent - Bloggers and Readers - Need Your Help

A fellow Blogger FarmGirl Gourmet needs our help.  Please hear me out and pass this along.

I am a firm believer in Small Businesses they are the back bone of this country and we are losing them right and left to big businesses that don't give the personal service and unique items to sell.

Heather at FarmGirl Gourmet has come up with a great idea for a Spice Block and is using Kickstarter to launch and start this unique idea.

Heather is down to the zero hour and is so close to funding this project.  

I have already backed Heather and I am asking you to do they same.

$5.00 is all I'm asking you to pledge that's a trip to Starbucks and ask your readers, friends and family to do the same.

This is a nice way to Pay It Forward

Thank you for hearing me out


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer is coming to a end....

Did you miss me?  After a few family emergencies and a much needed break I am back.

I know it's August and you are at the end of your family vacations, getting the kids off to camp, going to the beach or pool, backyard bbq's, and the kids sporting events just to name a few things that have kept you busy this summer.  And now it's time to start getting the kiddo's ready for school.  I am going to add one more item to that list and don't hate me....The Holidays. 

Do you want a stress free holiday season?  Who doesn't!  It's time to start planning now.  Go out a buy yourself a notebook just for the holidays and keep it in your purse or backpack and take it everywhere you go.  Jot down ideas that pop into your head. 

Last year I was having a hard time getting through the holidays.  I had planned to blog recipes, shopping, decorating then my daughter moved out and not just a few miles away but 7 hours away.  I lost interest and did nothing on my blog or in my home.  I'm done feeling sorry for myself and getting into the holiday spirit.  

I bought my notebook and I have put on the Christmas Music to start getting in the mood and started going through recipes, getting ideas for decorating and shopping which I will be sharing with you from now until next year.   

Important Dates

Halloween - October 31st (Thursday)
Thanksgiving - November 28th (Thursday)
First Day of Hanukkah - November 29th (Friday)
Black Friday - November 29th (Friday)
Cyber Monday - December 2nd (Monday)
Christmas - December 25th (Wednesday)
New Years Eve - December 31st (Tuesday)
New Years Day - January 1st (Wednesday)
Super Bowl XLVIII - February 2nd (Sunday)

There's an App for that

Haunted Halloween Escape from TeraLumina Games - Free
Chow Thanksgiving from CBS Interactive - Free
TGI Black Friday from Ecatcher, Inc - Free
Butterball Cookbook Plus from Publications International - Free
Light My Fire: A Hanukkah App from The Jewish Museum - Free
Jewish Days from Kosher Penguin LLC - 99 cents
Christmas Music 10,000 Free from Zaggle, Inc - Free
White Christmas from sknetworksinternet - Free
The Christmas List from - 99 cents
Dreamdays Countdown to the Days that Matter Lite - from Yao Liu - Free
New Year Countdown from Sevenlogics, Inc - Free
All My New Years Resolutions 2013 from KakE Software - 99 cents
Achieve It! from Quenton Jones - Free
Party Planner iParty Delux from Netanel Vision - $1.99
PlanBe, Calendar & Task Organizer from NemusTech - $3.99

I am hoping to inspire you to get into the holiday spirit early, give you ideas for gifts shopping or homemade, decorating, parties and wonderful recipes.  

Until Next Time,

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