King Cake Recipe for Mardi Gras, Super Bowl

January 25, 2010

It’s Mardi Gras season down in New Orleans, and I’m sure the people there are celebrating even more with news that the Saints are going to the Super Bowl. I grew up near Baton Rouge when the Saints were first getting established, and I well remember all the losing seasons when they were known as the ‘Aints and fans wore paper bags over their heads. Now they are going to play for the NFL championship for the first time in the franchise’s 43 years. With Super Bowl Sunday on February 7 and Mardi Gras on February 16, I’m sure lots of people will be having parties. And every party during Mardi Gras has to feature a King Cake.

If you’re not familiar with King Cakes, they come in many different flavors, but they are similar to coffee cakes and perfect with a good cup of coffee with chicory. If you’d like to know more about the history of King Cakes, here’s a great write up at Mardi Gras Unmasked.com.

As you might guess, King Cakes are great to serve to a crowd. They’re good for breakfast or dessert, and they’re good to serve at your next mother-daughter book club meeting. Here’s my recipe:

King Cake

(Recipe Makes Two Rings)

Basic Dough

* 1 envelope dry yeast
* 1/4 cup warm water
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup butter
* 2 egg yolks
* 2 whole eggs
* 4 cups (or more) unbleached flour
* 1/2 cup + 1 tsp. sugar

Mix yeast with warm water and 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. flour. Bring milk to a boil then stir in butter and sugar. Pour into a large bowl and mix. Once mix is lukewarm beat in egg yolks, whole eggs, and yeast mixture. Beat in approximately 2 cups of flour until dough is fairly smooth, then add enough flour to make a soft dough you can form into a ball. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl, turn dough once or twice to coat, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Pat down cover with damp towel and refrigerate overnight. Remove dough from fridge. Divide in half. Shape each half into a long sausage shape. Roll dough into a 30″x9″ rectangle as thin as a pie crust. Let dough rest while you make the filling.

Filling

* 16 oz. cream cheese
* 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
* 4 Tblsp. flour
* 4 egg yolks
* 2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Divide filling in half and place each half in a one inch strip down the length of each dough shape. Fold one end of the dough over the filling and onto the other side. Crimp at ends so filling won’t come out. Shape dough into rings, place each on a separate cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and let stand 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Brush with egg wash and cut deep vents into cake. Bake for 20 – 35 minutes until risen and golden.

Icing

* 1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
* 2-1/2 Tblsp. milk
* 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Once cake has cooled spread on icing. Sprinkle colored sugar crystals of purple, green and gold over the icing before it hardens. (You can buy colored sugar or make it yourself by placing ½ cup of regular sugar in a zip lock bag and adding one drop of food coloring at a time until you get the color you desire. For purple mix equal parts of red and blue.)


Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

April 17, 2008

My daughter Catherine can’t get enough of this super simple pie that’s easy to prepare for a mother-daughter book club meeting. Catherine loves just about everything with peanut butter, but she’s not alone. Every time I make this recipe the pie disappears so fast I think I should have made two.

Peanut Butter Pie

  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 tblsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • about 1/2 cup (or slightly more) peanut butter
  • 1 tub (8 oz.)  Cool Whip, thawed

Blend all ingredients together and spoon into a graham cracker crust. Refrigerate. You can purchase a pre-prepared graham cracker crust, but making one is easy too. I make a chocolate graham cracker crust.

Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tblsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients together and press into a pie tin. It will be loose and crumbly, so refrigerate until cold before spooning the pie filling in. You can bake it at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, but my family prefers it unbaked.

It’s that simple. I got the recipe from my mom, and she also finds that the pie is gobbled up quickly every time she makes it. Enjoy!


Yummy Peanut Butter Cup Brownies Recipe

June 12, 2007

These brownies with a peanut butter surprise have been a hit at more than one mother-daughter book club meeting. Be sure to have lots on hand when you serve them

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Place the chocolate into a double boiler with simmering water. When the chocolate is nearly melted, stir in the butter, cut into small pieces. When melted, stir the mixture until it’s smooth. Transfer the top of the double boiler to a cooling rack and let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9 x 9″ square cake pan. Dust it with flour and shake out the excess.

Combine the sugars in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and beat until well blended with an electric mixer on medium speed. Blend in the vanilla extract; add the cooled chocolate and mix until blended.

Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl, then stir into the chocolate mixture.

Make peanut butter filling by combining the following ingredients in a medium sized bowl:

  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 ounces soft cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Beat with an electric mixer until evenly blended.

To assemble the muffins:

Line 18 to 20 cups of a standard muffin tin with bake cups.

Fill each muffin cup about halfway with brownie batter. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter filling into the center, pushing it down a little into the batter. Cover the filling with another spoonful of batter. The cups should be about 3/4 full.

Bake for 15 minutes, until well risen and cracked on top. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.


Karen’s Picnic Fixings

May 22, 2007

At last night’s mother daughter-book club meeting one of our members proved you don’t have to cook a complicated meal to make everyone happy. In fact, with two picky eaters and one vegetarian in our group of 12, this turned out to be quite a hit. The book was Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, and we had a picnic to go along with the one in the book. This meal was also great for our hostess, who arrived from picking up her daughter from piano just minutes before the first guests drove up. Obviously, this idea can be adjusted to the taste of any group.

Karen’s Picnic Fixings

Provide the following for mix and match according to taste:

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet pickles, dill pickles
  • Olive assortment
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with veggie dip
  • Sauteed sweet red, green and yellow peppers
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Sliced cheese assortment
  • Mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup
  • Wheat bread, sourdough, rye, tortillas

Sandwiches can be grilled. This is a great meal to follow up with ice cream sundaes or banana splits for dessert.

For more ideas of meals to serve at your book club meetings, check out the recipes section under categories.


Show-Ling’s Chinese Dumpling Recipe

May 16, 2007

One of our mother daughter book club moms grew up in Taiwan. When we read Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang, she made these wonderful Chinese dumplings that we all loved. She insisted they were very simple to make, and said that she threw it together after she got home from work and before everybody started to arrive for our meeting.

She happily shared her recipe, and I couldn’t wait to try it on my own. The dumplings were just as good as I remembered from our meeting, but I think it will take a little practice before I can do them fast. This makes a great theme meal to go along with any book set in China.

Show-Ling’s Chinese Dumplings

  • 1 pound ground pork (you can use ground beef, chicken, or turkey)
  • 1/3-1/2 small bag of prewashed baby spinach (you can substitute with other vegetables of your liking)
  • 3-4 heads of green onions (scallions)
  • one small piece of ginger root
  • cilantro (for sauce)
  • garlic (for sauce)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon
  • vegetable oil, 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1-2 packages of dumpling wraps (make sure that you DON’T get the thick style kind)

To make:
Chop ginger, green onion, and spinach in a food processor.
Combine with ground meat in a big bowl. Add vegetable oil, salt, pepper, sesame oil, mix well with a spatula. Place some stuffing in the middle of the wrap (make sure to thaw out the wraps ahead of time, microwave is NOT recommended), make sure you don’t over-stuff it.

Apply water to the edge of the wrap and seal the edge by folding one side over the other. It’s important to make sure that the seal is tight. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

Put the dumplings in one by one (you might need to do it in batches). Gently stir once to make sure that the dumplings are not stuck to the bottom of the pot. If you do it too hard you’ll break the dumplings.

Add one cup of cold water after the dumplings have boiled and repeat three times. After you the dumplings out, rinse them quickly with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. You can probably also coat them with some olive oil to prevent sticking.

Sauce:
Chop a few heads of garlic and some cilantro, mix with some soysauce, sesame oil, and a bit of water. If you want, you can also add vinegar, chili sauce.

This amount is enough to serve 2 adults and 3 kids age 10–14.


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin Recipe—Great to Serve at a Meeting

March 22, 2007

My kids love these muffins and so does everyone else I’ve cooked them for. They’re great to serve at your book club meeting, to have for breakfast, or to eat as an after-school snack. And they’re easy to make too, since everything mixes together in one bowl. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1-2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tblsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add pumpkin, eggs and melted butter. Mix together and spoon into muffin tins lined with baking cups. Fill cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.


Easy Recipe—Only Three Ingredients for These Peanut Butter Cookies

February 24, 2007

If you like peanut butter, you’ll probably like these cookies. And this has to be the easiest cookie recipe I’ve ever made. I got if from a vice-principal at my daughter’s middle school and tried it out on my writer’s group last night. It was a universal hit.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Roll into small balls and place on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 – 9 minutes.

These are really yummy, and I even had a couple with my coffee this morning.