Monday, August 20, 2018

Experimental Apple Walnut Cake

I came up for air on Saturday after finishing The Diva Sweetens the Pie. Last weekend, there were three pies in my refrigerator! But they're gone, and I found myself searching cupboards for something sweet. The sunflower seed and cheese crackers did not do the job.

We're somewhat low on fruit at the moment, but we had apples and walnuts. Thus it was decided that I would bake an apple walnut cake. But when I got going, I wondered if I could do the whole thing in the food processor. This is the result of my experimentation.

We did chop the apples by hand, but everything else was done in the food processor. If you try this, use the pulse button most of the time and be sure to scrape the sides occasionally.

Note that the apples will be on the bottom. If you would prefer, you could mix the apples with the dough to spread them out in the cake.

This isn't the fancy cake you would serve company, but it's a nice cake for munching, which was just what I wanted.

Walnut Apple Cake
made with a food processor

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.

4 cups apple chunks or slices
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts
3 eggs

Combine the milk with the vinegar and set aside. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Peel and core the apples, cut into slices and then into chunks.  Pour the apples into the pan and spread.

Place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts in the food processor. Pulse until the walnuts have disappeared. Add the eggs and pulse several times to combine. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the butter and the milk. The dough will be thick. Pour over the apples and spread across the pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Lemon-Blueberry Dump Cake from Peggy Ehrhart

A very warm welcome to our friend, Peggy Ehrhart! Peggy writes the Knit & Knibble Mysteries. Don't miss her giveaway of a copy of DIED IN THE WOOL! Enter at the bottom of the this post.

My sleuth Pamela Paterson usually bakes from scratch, as do I. But sometimes a person wants a shortcut. In my cookbook collection I have something called Dump Cakes & One-Bowl Baking, found long ago at a garage sale. The premise is that the cook starts with boxed cake mix and canned fruit and then dumps the cake mix on the canned fruit, tops the creation off with lots of butter, and sticks it in the oven. The result is something in the cobbler or crumble family.

In my Knit & Nibble series, the Arborville knitting club’s most unlikely member is Roland DeCamp, a hard-driving corporate lawyer whose doctor advised he take up knitting to lower his blood pressure. Club members take turns hosting the group and providing the evening’s nibbles. When it’s Roland’s turn in Murder, She Knit, he’s determined not to be outdone by other members who have shown off their culinary skills. He resolves to bake a sweet treat, but something manageable—a dump cake.

It turns out pretty well, though as his patient wife Melanie observes, ice cream has come to the rescue of many a cook. 

In my version of a dump cake below, I substituted fresh fruit—blueberries—for the canned fruit Roland used. I added a bit of sugar to the blueberries, but the cake mix is already so sweet that blueberries can probably be used as is. The recipe could also be made with four cups of sliced peaches or other fresh fruit and with plain yellow or white cake mix.  

2 pints fresh blueberries, about 4 cups
1 box lemon cake mix, about 15 ounces

1/4 cup sugar, or less

1 stick butter, cut into about 28 slices
A bit of soft butter for buttering the baking dish.

Butter a large Pyrex or ceramic baking dish, 8” X 12” or 9” X 13”. Add the blueberries in an even layer. Sprinkle the sugar over them if you are using it.

Dump in the cake mix. Spread it over the blueberries.

Lay the butter slices on top of the cake mix layer. Four in one direction and seven in the other works well. The point is for the butter to cover as much of the cake mix as possible.

Bake the dump cake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. You can test it for doneness by poking it with a wooden toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dump cake is ready.

The top should be light brown. It will look crumbly.

Serve the dump cake warm—not hot, or at room temperature, with ice cream if you like.

Peggy Ehrhart is a former English professor who writes mysteries and plays blues guitar. She holds a doctorate in Medieval Literature, and her publications include a prize-winning book dealing with classical mythology in the Middle Ages. 
Her Maxx Maxwell mysteries, published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage, feature a blues-singer sleuth. Sweet Man Is Gone appeared in 2008 and Got No Friend Anyhow appeared in 2011. Both are out of print but available on Kindle.  
Peggy is currently writing the Knit & Nibble mystery series for Kensington Books. Set in the charming (fictional) town of Arborville, New Jersey, the series features amateur sleuth Pamela Paterson, founder and mainstay of the town’s knitting club. The first book in the series, Murder, She Knit, came out in March. The second, Died in the Wool, will appear August 28, and the third, Knit One, Die Two, in May 2019. Peggy recently signed a contract to write three more books in the series. 
Peggy is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is an enthusiastic crafter, dating from her childhood as a member of the 4-H Club in rural Southern California. She also plays guitar with the Still Standing Band. 
Visit her at .

Leave a comment to enter to win a copy of DIED IN THE WOOL. 
Remember to leave your e-address so Peggy can contact you if you win. Good luck! 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Chicken Francese #Recipe @PegCochran

I had this dish in a restaurant recently for the first time in years.  I'd forgotten how good it is!  I decided to make it for dinner at home and found a good recipe on Genius Kitchen.  These are the original measurements--I changed things up a bit.  I can never bring myself to use that much butter in a single dish!  My modifications are noted in the directions.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally and pounded to an even thickness
olive oil
1 cup chicken broth (I probably used a bit less)
1 lemon, juiced
3 eggs (I managed with only one egg)
grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, crushed (I minced mine)
parsley (I didn't have any)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I used way less--probably two tablespoons) 

Cut your chicken in half horizontally and then pound.  I think pounding the chicken tenderizes it.  These were fork tender.

Nice and thin!

Dust breasts with flour.

 Beat egg(s) and add enough grated Parmesan to thicken.  Dip breast one at a time.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan until hot and shimmering.  Quickly brown chicken breasts on each side then remove to a plate and keep warm.

    Quickly saute garlic until golden then deglaze pan with wine.  (Dry vermouth will work in a pinch.)

    Add broth and butter and cook until butter has melted.

    Add lemon juice to taste and return chicken to pan.  Coat with sauce.

     Serve with rice or pasta to soak up delicious sauce!  

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    But fetching coffee isn’t exactly her idea of fun, so when veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.

    Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. . . .

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    Catch up with me on Facebook!
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    The long-awaited wedding of Monica and Greg is the highlight of the harvest season in Cranberry Cove, drawing friends from far and wide to help them celebrate. Among the guests are an old college friend of Monica’s and the woman’s boisterous new husband, a man with many enemies and more than a few bitter women in his past. When he turns up dead on a boat, the victim of a fatal stabbing, Monica steps in once again to unravel the mystery.

    As she dredges up clues and wades through a long list of suspects, Monica’s sleuthing becomes all the more pressing when the local police are convinced that her friend did the deed. Monica will have to clear her name fast and track down the real culprit as the killer threatens to bring her sweet wedded bliss to a bitter end.

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    Friday, August 17, 2018

    Peach Almond No-Bake Sort-of Cheesecake

    It started with the peaches—perfect tree-ripened globes of glowing red shading into yellow. I was running through the market getting a few essentials but the peaches stopped me in my tracks and I grabbed up a few and brought them home. (My humble apologies to all the vendors of local farmers markets, which I adore, but I have a deadline to meet and my husband is having cataract surgery and I’m leaving the country next week, so I’m just a wee bit short of time to make a side trip for local foods.)

    So what do I do with the peaches? I scour my fridge and come up with leftover ingredients of a lot of prior dishes—none of which is enough for an entire new dish. But! I can combine them! So, I had cookies left over from an earlier cheesecake crust, and a bit of almond paste, and a package of cream cheese (and as always, plenty of butter and sugar). Surely I can put these together somehow?

    Then I had a brainstorm! During the last few weeks, where I live (and in a lot of other places) it’s been hot and humid. Why not make a no-bake cheesecake? Many of the crusts can go either way—if you want it to hold together, just chill it for a while before filling it. The filling doesn’t need cooking anyway, if you̵