April Pound Cake of the Month: Red Velvet

I definitely took the easy way out when baking this month’s Red Velvet Pound Cake. The ingredients from previous recipes included not only flour and sugar, but baking soda, baking powder, sour cream and a variety of “special” ingredients like a can of Sprite in January’s Lemon-Lime Pound Cake, strawberry glaze and cream cheese in February’s Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake and pecans and a homemade praline frosting in March’s Praline Pound Cake.

So when I finally found a recipe for Red Velvet Pound Cake, I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to try one that called for a box of cake mix as its basic ingredient. However, to be honest, I found recipes for several red velvet swirl cakes, but only one for a cake that would provide the red color of the cake I desired.

After a quick trip to the grocery, I baked this super easy, but delicious Red Velvet Pound Cake. Unlike the 2 1/2 to 3 hours required to bake the other cakes, I only invested about 1 1/2 hours this month so it can easily be made at the last minute and its festive appearance makes it a perfect choice for a special occasion.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 box white chocolate instant pudding (small)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup oil

I used sugar-free pudding, only because that’s all that was available at the grocery, and I wasn’t willing to make another stop for one ingredient. Fortunately, the sugar-free mix worked fine, and in fact, I’ll probably use it the next time I bake this cake.

Red Velvet Pound Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° and coat 10 cup bundt pan with baking spray.
  2. Combine ingredients in large bowl and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan to serving plate.

Since my large bundt pan is a 12 cup pan, I used a 6 cup pan and 3 mini cakes. The mini cakes baked for 20 minutes and the 6 cup cake baked 35 minutes.

IMG_4684

The recipe from Just a Pinch called for microwaving canned frosting to make a glaze, but I couldn’t go that far so I made a glaze from scratch that actually turned out to be more of a frosting than a glaze. Maybe I should have microwaved my frosting to get more of a glaze. Oh well, that’s something I can try next time.

IMG_4693

Cream Cheese Glaze (Frosting):

  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2+ tsp. milk

Mix cream cheese and butter until creamy either with a hand mixer or by hand. Gradually add powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Add 2 – 3 cups for desired sweetness. Add milk 1/2 tsp. at a time to thin frosting to more of a glaze and then drizzle over the cake.

IMG_4695

My glaze came out much more like frosting but I’ll sacrifice a little in appearance for taste. So glad I took a chance on this easy cake mix based recipe!

 

 

It’s Jambalaya Time

Red beans and rice, gumbo, muffuletta, and po-boys…foods that made New Orleans famous; but my favorite is the classic Creole version of Jambalaya. Chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice together in a single dish…scrumptious!

Of course, what better time to enjoy the food of NOLA than during the time of Mardi Gras celebrations. Inspired by the jubilee, jambalaya was on the menu last Tuesday.

IMG_3252The recipe we use for jambalaya is a modified version of one from the November 2013 edition of Southern Living. Their recipe calls for andouille sausage instead of the little smokies and a few additional spices, but we decided to make it a little less spicy and we’ve simplified the original recipe slightly making it our own.

Ingredients:

1 package little smokies, cut in half

2 TBSP. vegetable oil

2 cups diced sweet onion

1 cup diced celery

1 large bell pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 (10-oz.) cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, drained

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 lb. peeled, medium-size raw shrimp, deveined

chopped green onions

Directions:

Cook little smokies in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Remove little smokies.

Add diced onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, Creole seasoning, thyme, and oregano to hot drippings and saute’ 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in Rotel, chicken broth, rice, cooked chicken, and sausage. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Stir in shrimp, cover and cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions.

For the original recipe from Southern Living, click here.

This dish freezes well so that it can be made ahead or since the recipe above will serve 8-10, some can be served and a portion frozen for another time.

To Freeze: Prepare the recipe as directed. Line bottom and sides of a baking dish with enough aluminum foil  to extend about 3 inches over sides. Fill the baking dish with jambalaya and then cover and freeze. To serve, remove the foil and return the casserole to the original baking dish and cover and thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake at 350° until thoroughly heated.

Serve with crusty French bread. You may also want to serve Praline Pound Cake for dessert.

March Pound Cake of the Month: Praline

If you’re not willing to turn on the stove to prepare the icing for the praline pound cake recipe, don’t waste your time making this cake. The praline icing is what makes this cake special. The cake’s moist and flavorful but not particularly sweet…that’s a good thing since the praline icing and sugar pecans add the perfect sweetness for this cake.

IMG_3225This festive cake screams New Orleans making it the perfect Mardi Gras dessert. It’s not a difficult recipe, but expensive ingredients and nearly three hours of preparation may discourage some…but it’s worth the trouble.

I wish I’d planned a little more before starting this cake because making the pecans first would make sense and save time. The recipe calls for chopping and toasting pecans to be added to the cake batter and then the final step provides directions for the sugared pecans needed to top the finished cake. The next time I’ll make all pecans first.

IMG_3216

Praline Cake:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened $
  • 1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Click here for the recipe from the the December 2007 edition of Southern Living.

Praline Icing:

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Click here for the praline icing recipe from Southern Living.

IMG_3233

Sugared Pecans:

  • 1 egg white
  • 4 cups pecan halves (I bought a 1 lb. bag of pecans & used for batter and sugared pecans.)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Click here for the directions for making sugared pecans. This makes far more pecans than needed for the cake, but they can be kept in an airtight container to be eaten with or without the cake.

Instead of making one praline pound cake, I made a medium-sized cake (4 cup pan) and six individual cakes…perfect for sharing.

IMG_3230