Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolate Cake Recipes & Tips

January 27th is Chocolate Cake Day! I couldn't find an origin for this tasty day or an official website, but with a name like "Chocolate Cake Day" who cares! it's just a great excuse to make a decadent chocolate cake.

So in honor of Chocolate Cake Day, I've put together some recipes and tips for you. The recipes below include chocolate cakes from scratch as well as those using cake mix. Enjoy!

Try some of these chocolatey recipes:

Chocolate Cakes From Scratch

Chocolate Potato Cake Recipe
Chocolate Microwave Cake
Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cakes Using Cake Mix

Cherry Crown Chocolate Cake
Crock Pot Peanut Butter Cake
Swiss Cakes (uses yellow cake mix)

Tips for Great Cakes
by Amanda Formaro

Whether you make cake from scratch or using a box cake mix, nothing spoils your fun like a dry cake that requires something to drink just to get it down your throat. There are a few things you can do to be sure that your cakes always turn out great.

Room Temperature Ingredients
When a recipe calls for butter or eggs to be at room temperature, a common misconception is to leave the ingredients out long enough that you no longer feel a chill on them when touched, usually a couple of hours. This is incorrect. Room temperature ingredients are things that have been allowed to sit at room temperature for about 20-25 minutes. If butter is too warm, air molecules will escape and it will no longer be able to build structure, causing your cake to be flat due to the fat liquifying. For butter, your best bet is to remove the butter from the refrigerator, slice it into thin pieces and let sit at room temperature for no longer than 5 minutes.

The Right Flour
Most cake recipes call for all purpose flour. Unbleached and bleached all purpose flours are fine to use interchangeably, however do not substitute other types of flour such as wheat or bread flour. Cake flour is made from a softer wheat than all purpose flour and therefore has a lower gluten content and more starch. To substitute cake flour in a recipe that calls for all purpose, use the following equation:

1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour MINUS 2 tablespoons
1 cup all purpose flour = 1 cup cake flour PLUS 1 tablespoon

Want to read the rest of this article?
Visit Tips for Baking Great Cakes on Annie's Recipes to read the rest!

See you next week!

~ Amanda

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

National Cheese Lover's Day & Cheese Tips

January 20th is National Cheese Lover's Day! Says who? Honestly, I'm not sure. I couldn't find anything specific, nor could I find an origin of it or an official website. I found several different sites, but none of them of any official importance or significance, but really, who cares? Sometimes I think the internet just "makes up" days of celebration, so why not! It's a harmless "National Whatever" holiday don't you think?

So in honor of National Cheese Lover's Day, or National Cheese Appreciation Day, I've put together some recipes and tips for you:

Try some of these tasty recipes:

Recipes Using Cheddar
Cheesy French Fries
Chili Pepper Casserole
Shoepeg Corn Salad

Recipes Using Parmesan
Baked Ziti
Stuffed Manicotti
Amish Chicken Casserole

Recipes Using Ricotta
Lasagna Roll Ups
Ricotta Cheese Apple Pie
Spinach Lasagna

Recipes Using American Cheese
Scalloped Potatoes
Tuna Melt
Wild Rice Cheese Soup

To search for a recipe using a specific type of cheese, enter that cheese as your keyword in our search box at the top of our website.

Cheese Tips
by Amanda Formaro

There are literally hundreds of different types of cheese coming from many different countries across the globe. From Italy's Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to Colby from the United States, there are numerous flavors and varieties to complement just about every dish imaginable. You can purchase soft, semi-hard, hard, and fresh, as well as spiced and flavored cheeses. No matter what type of cheese you buy, it's important to store and handle them properly.

Storing Cheese

Too much air is the enemy, however cheeses do need a little room to breathe. When exposed to air for too long, mold can form and ruin a perfectly good block of cheese. Don't keep cheese wrapped as you get it from the grocer's deli (cheese you have sliced for you). Remove the cheese from the zipper bag and wrap it in waxed paper, this will protect the cheese, but still allow it a little room to breathe. Return the wrapped cheese to the zipper bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and store it in the refrigerator.

Freezing Cheese
If you decide to freeze your cheese, wrap tightly in waxed paper, then in plastic wrap. Wrapping directly in plastic wrap can transfer a plastic taste to the cut edges of your cheese. Place wrapped cheese is a freezer bag and be sure to mark it with what type of cheese and the date. You can freeze cheese for up to 3 months, but be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Freezing can change the texture of some cheeses, making them a little more crumbly and more difficult to slice.

What to Do About Mold
For many years it was thought that surface mold on a cheese could be harmlessly cut off and the rest of the cheese salvaged. While it's true that most molds are harmless in this regard, it's been discovered that some types of mold can produce a toxin that can seep into the cheese. The best solution is to cut off the mold 1/2" below its deepest penetration. Discard the moldy pieces. Mold forms when cheese is exposed to warm or moist conditions for too long and not being wrapped properly.

Want to read the rest of this article?
Visit Cheese Tips on Annie's Recipes to read the rest!

See you next week!

~ Amanda

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Corrected links

My apologies, the recipe links in the last mailing were incorrect. I have corrected them all and they are listed below :)

Try some of these tasty appetizers, dips, spreads and party foods:

Appetizers, Snacks and Dips

In less than a month, millions of people will sit down in front of their television sets to watch the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is synonymous with appetizers, finger foods, snacks and desserts. We've put together a sampling of recipes available from our site to help you get your party planning started!

Try some of these tasty appetizers, dips, spreads and party foods:

Potato Skin Nachos
Crunchy Zucchini Sticks
Chicken Nuggets
Bisquick Corn Dogs
Cocktail Meatballs
Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce
Nacho Rounds
Southwest Nachos
Veggie Bites

Texas Cheese Dip
Hot Salsa
Chili Cheese Dip
Creamy Crab Dip
Egg Salad Cheese Spread

Texas Ribs
Three Alarm Chicken Wings
Oriental Chicken Wings
Crock Pot Chili
Crockpot Jambalaya
Corn Bread Pizza

Almond Cake Bars
Baby Ruth Candy Brownies
Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Squares
Chocolate Marshmallow Squares
Peanut Butter Bars
Red Raspberry Cookie Bars

Appetizer Tips
by Amanda Formaro

Planning appetizers doesn't have to be hard. A little forethought can go a long way and help make party day a breeze. Keep these tips in mind when put your appetizer plans into action.

Dips and Spreads
Dips that contain sour cream and cream cheese can be made 2-3 days ahead of time. This is beneficial, as it allows the flavors to mingle while in the refrigerator. Stir once or twice a day to distribute the flavors and keep in a covered container.

Chop Chop
Vegetables such as celery, carrots, radishes, and zucchini can be chopped or sliced several days ahead of time and kept in sealed plastic bags or covered containers. If fresh herbs are called for, these can also be chopped, snipped or minced and kept in sealed plastic bags. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, and semi-soft cheeses, like Gouda or Havarti, can be sliced the day before and stored in plastic bags or covered containers.

Want to read the rest of this article?
Visit Appetizer Tips on Annie's Recipes to read the rest!

See you next week!

~ Amanda

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January is National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month! Seems fitting doesn't it? Soup warms you up, so it's great for cold weather. Clear soups are ideal when you are sick, which seems to come along with that cold weather! Soup is also a comfort food, can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, or cooked conveniently in the crock pot so that you come home to a warm meal.

To celebrate National Soup Month, be sure to add some of these wonderful recipes to your menu plans this month. Just click the recipe name to access a printable version!

Amish Chicken Corn Soup
Chicken and Rice Soup
Chili Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Lentil Soup
Old Fashioned Bean Soup
Wild Rice Cheese Soup
Vegetable Beef Soup

Soup Tips
by Amanda Formaro

Soup is comfort food, but it's also a hearty and inexpensive meal that can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, or cooked conveniently in the crock pot so that you come home to a warm meal. Here are some great tips for your next pot of delicious soup.

Too Much Salt
If you've accidentally become too overzealous with the salt shaker, all is not lost. Simply place a raw potato into the pan and simmer it in the soup for about 15 minutes. The potato will absorb the extra salt.

Thicken It Up
If you would like to thicken your soup, add a bit of instant mashed potato flakes to the simmering soup. Mix thoroughly. Another great option is to add pureed cooked vegetables, such as carrots or peas.

Flavoring Stock
Ever wondered about those inexpensive packages in the meat department? Pork neck bones, beef bones and ham hocks are ideal for flavoring stocks and soups. Pork neck bones are idea for hearty bean soup, as are ham hocks. ham hocks are also available smoked, adding a deeper element of flavor. Skim the foam after bringing liquid and bones to a boil, remove the bones, strain the sock into a separate container, then refrigerate for several hours. After refrigeration, remove the fat layer from the top and use the remaining stock in your soup.

Want to read the rest of this article?
Visit Soup Tips on Annie's Recipes to read the rest!  

Need a salad to go with that soup? We've added these new recipes:

Sunday Supper Salad
Swiss Cheese Salad

More Salad Recipes
More Soup Recipes

See you next week!

~ Amanda
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