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Peanut Butter Cake

My fella and my mom are both big peanut butter lovers. Chocolate covered peanut butter candy, peanut butter cream pie, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter straight out of the jar. . . it doesn’t matter what form it’s in. The one thing they each request for almost every birthday they have is a PB cake. My mother’s birthday is today, so I bet you can guess what she asked for. To me, the frosting for this cake is the best part of it. I swear, I could eat that and nothing else.

The Cake:
2 c cake flour
1 1/3 c granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 c Crisco
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c oily peanut butter *
1 c milk
2 large eggs
*The brand of peanut butter that I usually use for this recipe is Peter Pan just because it is a little oilier.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick of butter, softened
3/4 c oily peanut butter**
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
** Honestly, I just guesstimate the amount of peanut butter I put in both the cake and the frosting and try to get it as close as possible to the recipe amounts.. 

The Cake:
1) Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

2) In a medium sized bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together, then set aside.

Adding the last egg.

3) Cream together the Crisco and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Mixing in the vanilla and PB.

4) Mix in the vanilla extract and the peanut butter.

All of the ingredients mixed together.

5) Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition.

Just out of the oven.

6) Bake in three prepared 8-inch cake pans for about 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. This is a fairly thick batter, so I always weigh the cake pans before they go into the oven to make sure they each contain as close to an equal amount of batter as possible.

The Frosting:

Mixing the cream cheese and butter together.

1) Mix together the cream cheese and butter.

2) Then add the vanilla extract and peanut butter and mix well.

3) Add the powdered sugar and milk and mix until smooth.

Place strips of wax paper under the cake to keep the plate clean.

4) Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the frosting between each layer, on the sides, and on top of the cake. You can sprinkle chopped roasted peanuts on top of the cake for a little flair. My mom isn’t a big fan of roasted nuts and I couldn’t find my cake decorating tips, so I kept it very simple.


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Chicken Wiggle

I bought a new stock pot to cook Chicken and Dumplings in next week because the old one had begun sticking very badly. Of course, I just had to test it out (afterall, it wouldn’t do to ruin a whole pot of dumplings on Thanksgiving Day just because of untested cookware).

Chicken Wiggle is one of those dishes that is perfect for a cool night or when you just don’t feel well. It’s a little thicker than soup and maybe even stew; it’s about the same consistency as Chicken and Dumplings. In fact, the recipe that I use is very close to our Chicken and Dumplings recipe (with a few minor differences). You can substitute turkey instead of the chicken for Turkey Wiggle. I attended a small public school growing up, and Turkey Wiggle along with cranberry sauce was always served around the holidays in the cafeteria, and it was a very welcome improvement over the usual school lunches. There was a running joke on Turkey Wiggle day that the dish got its name because after taking a bite you could feel the noodles wiggle all the way down. Of course, you can’t feel them, but it sure made a lot of sense back then : )

The Ingredients:
4-5 chicken breasts
Reserved chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bag of egg noodles
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 can of carrots, drained and rinsed
2 cans of english peas, drained and rinsed
1 can of cream of celery soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
kosher salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

1) In a pot, boil the chicken in water. While it’s boiling, make sure to season the water with salt and black pepper. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the broth and allow it to cool, then debone it and either shred or cut it into large bite-sized pieces. Strain the broth.

Just after adding the noodles.

2) In a stock pot, combine the chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Bring the broth back to a boil and add in the egg noodles.

Just after adding the chicken and onions.

3) Allow the noodles to cook for a few minutes, then add the chicken pieces, onion, cream of chicken, and cream of celery. Make sure to stir in the cream of chicken and the cream of celery very well.

Just after adding the carrots and English peas.

4) Stir in the carrots, English peas, and the hard boiled egg slices. At this time you can season the Chicken Wiggle with a little more salt if you want to (because there are a few canned foods in it and the broth has salt in it, too, I usually only add a small amount of salt or none at all towards the end; so make sure to taste it before you add any, just in case). Allow the Chicken Wiggle to simmer on medium heat for about twenty minutes. Just before it’s done, you can add a little more ground black pepper (we like quite a bit of pepper in ours, so the amount I usually add is about 7-10 full turns of a pepper mill).

A hot bowl of Chicken Wiggle.
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Lemon Cheese Cake

Contrary to its name, there is no cheese in this old-fashioned Southern recipe. I’ve heard that the name comes from the fact that this cake resembles a big wheel of cheese. From what I know of her, my great grandmother was a wonderful cook and made the best homemade cakes (and one of those was lemon cheese cake). She passed on well before I came along, and although many of her recipes were passed down to my grandmother (and then on to me), lemon cheese cake was not of them. A few years ago, a cousin’s request for this easy, but delicious cake led me on a little search for a recipe that would taste similar and this is the result.

This isn’t necessarily the prettiest cake, mostly because the frosting is a little thinner than most. However, it’s delicious, especially if your like me and prefer sweets with a little tartness.

The Ingredients:
The Cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/4 c sugar
3 1/2 c cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt*
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
*I use kosher salt.

The Frosting:
9 egg yolks
1 1/2 c sugar
3 sticks of butter
Juice of 4-5 lemons
Zest from 2 of those lemons

1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set it aside. You can also sift the flour combination, too, if you want.

3) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the vanilla.

4) Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition.

The batter after the egg whites have been folded in.

5) Add the egg whites and fold them in.

6) Bake in three prepared 8 inch cake pans for about 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

The Frosting:

The frosting right after coming off the stove.

1) Mix all of the ingredients together and cook in a double boiler until the mixture thickens (takes about 25 minutes or slightly longer). Make sure to stir constantly. Allow the frosting to cool before frosting the cake (it will thicken even more after cooling off).

2) Once the cake and frosting have cooled, spread the frosting in between the layers and on the outside of the cake. Since the frosting is thin, you’ll most likely still be able to see the cake through it, especially on the sides.


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Balsamic Strawberries and Ice Cream

This is one of our very favorite desserts. The first time I made it, everyone was a little skeptical of vinegar and ice cream, but they love it now.

The Ingredients:
1 lb of strawberries, washed & sliced
2/3 c balsamic vinegar (you can really do as much or as little vinegar as you want, but we like a lot of it)
1/4 c granulated sugar
and last, but not least, ice cream (we love it on vanilla)

1) Wash and slice the strawberries (cut the large ones in half).

2) In a saute pan combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium heat. Allow it to simmer until the mixture slightly thickens.

3) Add the strawberries and allow it to simmer another minute before you remove it from the heat.

4) Serve it warm over ice cream and enjoy!