Ingredient: vegetable oil

A Case for Boxed Cake Mix

I am a Mom that went to culinary school whose kids like boxed cake mix! I’ve tried many a homemade cake from yellow to red velvet and every frosting imaginable. While they do love my cream cheese frosting they still like, dare I say it, canned frosting and boxed cake mix better.

So when my daughter suggested we do one of those doctored up box cake mix recipes, to add something chocolate to our family holiday celebration. I reluctantly agreed. My only caveat was that it couldn’t have any other processed ingredients. We came really close but the one my daughter wanted had instant pudding in it. I caved.

The directions were “SOOO” complicated. “Empty contents of Bag”. Add in this. Stir in that. I persevered. We greased the pan and baked the mix for the prescribed 30-35 minutes. The whole time I was mumbling under my breath and sighing. How could this be? I make great cakes! Most kids would kill to have me as their mom!

The timer went off and out came a good-looking moist cake. Huh, maybe? We’ll see. It cooled. I poked. It seemed moist and had a nice aroma. Since I managed to get out of the store without buying a can of frosting, I suggested a hack, I knew. The finger taste test was good and so far my daughter approved.

Once the cake was sliced in half, filled and frosted we put it out and we were ready for the harshest of critics…the family. They loved it! Of course every body thought it was one of my recipes and of course my daughter couldn’t wait to tell them it was a doctored up cake mix.

Well at least I can take joy in knowing that there is homemade cake and frosting that I can make with my daughters that they will like. So from my family to yours, enjoy!

*One note- I would love to give credit where due but I honestly don’t remember where this came from. It was a quick screenshot on the phone and off to the store before mom changed her mind.

A Case for Boxed Cake Mix
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A Case for Boxed Cake Mix
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Ingredients
Vanilla Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. In a mixing bowl pour cake mix and pudding mix. Turn on mixer and add sour cream. Slowly add vegetable oil.
  2. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
  3. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  4. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  5. Pour into 2 prepared (greased & floured) 8” round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan then turn out and cool completely on rack. Frost and serve.
Frosting
  1. Blend together marshmallow fluff, butter and vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar until well blended and consistency is as desired. If it gets too thick you can add some whole milk a couple drops at a time. Frost cake and serve.
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Try Something New! Graham Cracker Edition

When I read a post where the first thing the author does is make an excuse, I have to admit it is a huge turn off.  Julia used to say something to the effect of don’t make excuses for your food whether it’s bad or good, everybody already know’s. Well, Julia, true that but sometimes life just rushes by and you get behind.  The ironic thing is I have been writing like crazy, because I have so much to say!  It’s the cooking and picture that seem to set me back.  So here I am to catch up and I think this first one is a good one.

We finally got a little cold snap her in Los Angeles.  I love to think that means we can have a fire in the fire place and snuggle up.  I mean what else can you do when it is 50 degrees out (pause for groan from the east coast)? A fire in the fireplace almost always means S’mores.  So tonight it meant making my own graham crackers.


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I don’t know why I wanted to make my own graham crackers. There was something so intriguing to me. I imagined it would be very complicated so it never occurred to me that I would share it here, under try something new. It was super easy!

I went looking for “Graham” flour. Guess what? Its really just whole-wheat flour that is not sifted during the milling process and is ground coarsely. You can find graham flour in some health food stores. For my purposes I used plain whole-wheat flour. I started with a recipe from King Arthur Flour Company. I made the first batch exactly as directed. One of my daughters is not a big cinnamon fan and I thought it could be a little more “wheaty” so I made some adjustments and the following is my recipe. It really is simple.

My advice is to be patient when rolling out the dough. You do want to get them very thin. You also will want to have a ruler handy, if measuring out as squares, which is the proper graham shape. I admit I got bored of that and made some squares and some circles with a biscuit cutter. Finally don’t forgo the pricking with a fork. This helps them keep their shape, without puffing up.

Homemade Graham Crackers
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Homemade Graham Crackers
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a medium bowl. I used a stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, honey and milk. Blend into flour mixture, until a ball starts to form. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if necessary.
  3. Wrap and chill the dough for about an hour. Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured board an knead gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or line with parchment, 2 baking sheets.
  5. Roll the dough to 1/16"; make sure the board stays floured so the crackers transfer easily.
  6. Cut the dough into 3X# square and prick them with a fork several times. Place on prepared pans and brush tops with a little milk. You can sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if you wish.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely, on rack. They will keep well wrapped at room temperature for a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

My daughter had mononucleosis the last two weeks of the school year.  This certainly caused a lot of stress in our home.  I spent quite a lot of time on the phone with teachers and counselors trying to get extensions, exceptions and retakes arranged.  As a result, I was given the unique task of videotaping my daughter’s culinary I final.  You may think, “How fun!”, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

I have taught both my daughters to cook, but not in a formal, culinary, way.  It was always, watching me cook, or making some “family” recipe or something special. I have never approached teaching my daughters to cook  from an instructor perspective, but now I was being asked to watch another teachers work.  It was eye opening to say the least.

I do not want to admonish the teacher, at all.  I have never taught 40 kids at one time. Nor do I ever want to. I spent the hour of videotaping, biting  my tongue.  I wanted to rescue her from mistakes.  I held my breath, terrified that she would cut her finger off, as she moved the knife towards her, rather than away.  Did she wash her hands as often as she should have? Did she change cutting boards? Is that dice bite sized? It was daunting!

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By the end of this week, she had received her grade and ended the year with an B in the class (good thing!) and a high B on the final.  It just goes to show that, as parents, we are much harder on our kids.  I am proud of the work my daughter did.

The recipe she cooked was for Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice.  This project was originally assigned as a group project.  Since my daughter wasn’t in class, the recipe was written without her.  When I tasted the recipe, I thought it was good, but could use a little refinement. The photo is of the original recipe, then I offer my changes.  Happy cooking and remember to practice your knife skills!

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Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Ingredients
Servings: dinner entrees
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over a medium high heat; add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring. Reduce heat to medium flame and add tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with cayenne, curry, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. Stir in reserved tomato juices.
  4. Add the chicken, potates, and stock; Simmer and stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon Chicken mixture over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve Hot
Recipe Notes

There should be plenty of juices that have thickened from the potatoes.

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