Thursday, September 24, 2009

.raspberry coffee cake.

I had a meeting the other morning for church and I thought I would take a little treat for us to enjoy. When I got there, I discovered my friend, Leesa also made a coffee cake! Hers was cinnamon sugar... mine was a really moist raspberry coffee cake. Absolutely delicious. Rather funny that we both had coffee cake on the brain though!

You can use any berry you want. I had raspberries in the freezer and wanted to use them up. The perfect choice, in my opinion!

There are three steps to making this cake: Batter. Berries. Crumb topping.

Put 1 lb of berries in a bowl and add 1/3 cup sugar.

In a mixing bowl, put 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.

In another bowl, mix together 2/3 cup sour cream, 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks, and 3 tsp vanilla. Set aside.

Cut up 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter into 12 pieces
and set aside.

With your mixer on low, alternate adding some of the egg/sour cream mixture and 1-2 pieces of butter until it's all combined.

For the topping, put in a bowl: 2/3 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp salt, 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 cup melted butter. Mix it well together.

Butter a 9x13 baking dish and spread out 1/2 of the cake batter. Sprinkle the berries over the top evenly so that the entire surface has berries. Dollop the rest of the cake batter on top of the berries. Don't worry about spreading it out.

Spread out the crumb mixture over the entire top. Bake in a 325* oven for about an hour. I had to cook a little longer because the center was a little jiggly. If your center is jiggly, then keep on baking! When the center is set, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Make sure it's completely cool before serving.

Bon appetite!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

.suzanne's spaghetti.

I was in Seattle this summer for most of July with the girls. When we got back, I went right to work helping my friend plan and cater her son's wedding reception. Four days before the reception, I got a call from my sister telling me my oldest brother passed away. He was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer at the end of July (just days before I came home from my vacation) and we thought he would have more time. Apparently we were wrong.

When I got back to New York from this latest trip to Seattle, we were running low on funds and my husband put me on a pretty strict grocery budget. I'm not used to budgeting! One meal that's very economical and something we all love to eat is spaghetti. If you've never made your own spaghetti sauce, you really should try because it's EASY and usually tastes a whole lot better than what you get in a pre-made jar. Here's what you need.

1 large can tomato puree
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 lb hamburger
2-3 italian sausage links, removed from the casing
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, pepper, and sugar
extra virgin olive oil
herbs (oregano, marjoram, basil)

When I make my sauce, I let it simmer all day long. This is one of the times I pull out my crock pot because I love for all of the flavors to merry together. You can't get that in an hour or two.

I use tomato puree versus tomato sauce because it's slightly thicker. I don't like watery spaghetti sauce! This helps to cut down on the liquid.

In a skillet, heat a little drizzle of olive oil. Brown the hamburger and sausage and break it into fine pieces by chopping it up with the blade of a spatula. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. When the aroma from the garlic and onion intensifies, dump it all into your crock pot.

Add the tomato puree, diced tomato, some salt, pepper, and about 1/2 tsp sugar. If you don't have fresh herbs, it's okay! I use a lot of herbs to season my sauce so dump in a generous amount of basil and oregano, then a little marjoram. Marjoram is a sister to oregano and has a gentle sweet flavor that is a great compliment to the sauce.

My oldest sister, Ronda, likes to add a splash of burgundy to her spaghetti sauce. I don't normally have burgundy on hand, but if you do, add a little!

Turn your crock pot on and let this cook all day long. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with some fresh grated parmesan cheese. We love spaghetti with fresh homemade french bread and a vegetable packed garden salad.

(NOTE: I usually have a lot of sauce leftover so I put it in a ziploc and freeze. This way, I have extra sauce for the future for a quick meal, or to make lasagna with.)

Next time you're looking for a cost efficient meal that your whole family will love, don't open a jar. Make this sauce and you'll save on the pocketbook and put smiles on your family's faces!

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