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  • Basic Butter Cake

    This recipe is adapted from the May 2003 issue of Health magazine (I can’t find the original recipe on their site, though). I hadn’t made it in a long time but found it when I was transitioning my paper recipes to Pinterest (where I’ve pinned over 450 recipes now!). This is the recipe promised in the C&H Light review.

    Basic Butter Cake

    Butter Cake

    nonstick baking spray (not cooking spray; baking spray contains flour and works better with baked goods)
    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup whole milk
    1 teaspoon powdered sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper and generously coat the bottom and sides with baking spray.

    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after addition. Add vanilla.

    3. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt with a fork or whisk until well-mixed. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, scraping and mixing until just combined.

    4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then remove from the pan.

    The cake is a nice afternoon accompaniment to a cup of coffee, but is a little plain by itself. I recommend sprucing it up with whipped cream and berries for dessert.

    Super Easy Apple Tarte Tatin

    I love this recipe because it’s so easy to make, and requires so few ingredients, yet it’s delicious and impressive. I really like the puff pastry from Trader Joe’s, which has a pretty minimal ingredient list and no trans fats.

    Easy Apple Tarte Tatin

    Apple Tarte Tatin from @cfoblog

    6 large Gala apples
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    pinch of salt
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

    1. Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into 8 wedges, and toss with the lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl.

    2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 10-inch oven proof skillet (preferably nonstick), melt the butter over medium-high heat.

    3. Add the sugar to the butter and stir until the sugar start to melt. Remove the skillet from heat and place apple wedges in the pan rounded side down, in a circular pattern. Fill the middle with apple wedges rounded side down. Add the remaining apples to the skillet, rounded side up. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

    4. Roll out the puff pastry and place over the apples to cover. Tuck corners under and make 3 slits in the middle to release steam. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

    5. Using an oven mitt, remove the skillet from the oven and let cool on stove top for 15 minutes. Cover with a plate and invert the tart onto the plate to serve. (You might want to do this over the sink in case any of the liquid falls out during the flipping process  – yes, I’m speaking from experience.) Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

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    Recipe Revisited: Slow Cooker Soy-Onion Shredded Beef

    One of the very first recipes I ever posted was for Crock Pot Shredded Beef Sandwiches:
    Slow Cooker Shredded Beef

    I’ve continued to make this dish regularly over the years, but as we’ve tried to eat less starch, I’ve taken to serving the beef by itself with some au jus. I usually do serve it with a roll or biscuit, but that’s mostly for the kids’ benefit.

    Slow Cooker Soy-Onion Shredded Beef
    Serves 6

    3 to 3 1/2 pound chuck roast
    4 smashed garlic cloves {smash with side of knife to remove skin and toss the whole clove into the slow cooker}
    2 tablespoons onion powder
    1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    2 cups water

    1. Place the roast in a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion powder, soy sauce and water. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. For a slightly thicker sauce, prop one edge of the lid up with a toothpick.

    2. Remove the beef from the slow cooker into a shallow dish like a pie plate. Shred the beef with two forks.

    3. If serving au jus on the side, use a ladle or fat separator to remove the layer of oil that’s at the top of the sauce in the slow cooker.

    Note: Leftovers freeze beautifully. I like to freeze big chunks of the meat, then turn it into hash using this recipe. I simply dice the meat into small pieces and start following the recipe in the middle of step 1, with the addition of the spices.

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    Matzo Brittle

    Matzo brittle is a great Hanukkah treat that’s super easy to make. This recipe makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty to share. I’ve adapted a friend’s recipe as follows.

    Matzo Brittle

    Matzo Brittle Recipe from @cfoblog

    1 10.5-oz box of unsalted and/or egg matzo
    3 sticks of butter
    2 1/2 cups brown sugar
    48 oz responsibly-sourced chocolate chips*

    1. Cover two half-sheet pans with foil, leaving overhang for easy cleanup. Line the cookie sheet with matzo sheets (slight overlap is fine).

    2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the matzos in both pans, and bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or until sugar mixture is slightly bubbly.

    3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the matzos in both pans and place the pans back in the oven for two minutes so the chocolate can melt. Spread the chocolate out,* then place the pans in the refrigerator and let cool for at least one hour. Break into small pieces.

    **The chocolate doesn’t have to be responsibly sourced, but read this Baby Toolkit post to find out why it should be. I was very happy to find bags of responsibly-sourced chocolate chips at Costco.

    **At this point, you could sprinkle on some crushed mints or tiny silver nonpareils. It’s not in the traditional recipe, but would be pretty!

    Super Easy Recipe: Strawberry Jam Pastry Tart

    Without really thinking about what I was going to do with it, I pulled a store-bought rolled pie crust out of the freezer and let it thaw. At dinner time, I had to decide what to make with the pie crust, and though I have a lot of apples, I really didn’t feel like making apple pie. So I decided to make individual pastry tarts instead. They’re really easy, and would be even easier if you have a square sheet of dough, or at least a sheet that holds together. I love Trader Joe’s products, and I’m really glad their frozen pie crust doesn’t have any hydrogenated oils, but I wish it wouldn’t unroll in pieces. If that does happen to you, just leave the dough sandwiched in the wax paper and push the pieces close together, then roll a rolling pin over the wax paper to fuse the pieces together again.

    Easy Jam Pastry Tarts
    Makes 8

    Strawberry Jam Tarts from @cfoblog

    1 pre-made pie crust
    1/2 cup jam (I used strawberry, but use whatever you have on hand)
    2 tablespoons heavy cream, half & half, milk, or egg wash
    2 tablespoons turbinado or other coarse sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Roll out the pie crust and use a pizza cutter to divide the dough into eight even pieces. Since my pie crust was round, I cut it into triangles, but rectangles would look lovely and might be easier to work with.

    3. On one side of each piece of dough, put 1 tablespoon of jam. Be sure to leave room at the edge for the crust to seal.

    4. Fold each piece of dough in half, covering the jam. Taking care not to squeeze the jam out, press the edges together. Press the tines of a fork along the edges to seal the tarts.

    5. Place tarts on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream or your preferred liquid (use what you have on hand). Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

    6. Bake the tarts for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool at least a little before serving, as the jam will be dangerously hot when you first remove the tarts from the oven.

    Note: I baked these in two batches in my toaster oven. They were better fresh, but the toasted leftovers made for a tasty breakfast the next morning. I think the baked pastries would freeze nicely, but I recommend making sure your dough is on the thicker side to prevent cracking.

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