Upside Down Cake with Pineapples and Cherries

Upside down cake 10It’s time to go retro! It’s nearly Spring in the Southern Hemisphere which naturally calls for a fruity cake. I use my basic vanilla cake recipe for this upside down cake and I always use buttermilk as it ensures the cake is moist and fluffy.

Let me give you a rundown of my most recent attempt. Off I go to the supermarket, taking a leisurely stroll and enjoying the warmer weather. I get there and start cruising the aisles for ingredients. For some reason I’m in a bit of a daze so I’m standing at the tinned food section, see a large tin of pineapples and grab it without reading the label properly. Perfect. Right next to the pineapples is tinned cherries. Again, I grab a tin and carry on with my shopping. I get home, filled with excitement (it doesn’t take much, baking does that to me), and open the tins. Crap. I’ve bought chunks of pineapples instead of rings. Oh bother. Not to worry, we’ll carry on as usual. I open the cherries and I’m like, these aren’t glacé cherries. Really? Double crap, double bother. Now, I’m so excited to bake this cake so I soldier ahead, cut the cherries in half, remove the pips and make the batter. The reason I’m telling you this is because traditionally, pineapple rings are used, be they tinned or fresh, as are glacé cherries. But no, I had to complicate things. You can use pineapple chunks, they work beautifully, as do regular tinned red cherries, just remove the pips. However, you can substitute the chunks with rings and red cherries with glacé (I recommend this to avoid the schlep).

Upside Down Cake with Pineapples and Cherries

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: Prep time 10 minutes, cooking time 40-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

Upside Down Cake 1Supplies:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Pineapple rings or chunks
  • Glacé cherries

 

  • For the cake:
  • ¼ cup pecans, crushed in your hand
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Making it happen:

Upside Down Cake 21. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Melt ½ cup of butter in a heavy-based saucepan on medium. Once it’s melted, add ½ cup of brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it starts bubbling. Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a 25cm (10″) cake tin.

Upside down cake 112. Layer the pineapple pieces and cherries in the melted butter syrup and sprinkle the hand-crushed pecans over them (give them a decent hearty squeeze to crush them).

 

 

Upside Down Cake 53. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and stir/whisk until well-blended. Whisk in the eggs, melted butter and vanilla, stirring until thoroughly mixed.

 

 

Upside Down Cake 64. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake at 180 for 40 minutes, until a toothpick instered in the middle comes our clear. If the toothpick is still wet, back for another 5 minutes until the toothpick passes the test.

 

 

Upside Down Cake 9 15. Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Hold a plate or cakestand upside down over the cake tin, pressing down firmly. Flip over, tap the cake tin gently and slowly remove. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Chicken Florentine

If you’re looking for a new favourite meal, this is your guy. It’s dish-intensive but sooooo worth it! Hopefully you have a dishwasher, or kids, because kids need responsibilities and dishes need washing!

I don’t know where to start when describing this dish. Bacon. Chicken. Two different types of cheese. Creamy mushroom soup and extra cream! It’s a taste-fest like no other. The Husband immediately informed me that this is his new number one. I never thought I’d see the day. I mean, dude would live on lasange if he could, but along came this delight and knocked it off its top spot. They say change is good… except when The Husband asks you to make it again two days later!

Chicken Florentine

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 minutes + 30 minutes oven time
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Chicken Florentine 1Supplies:

  • 500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks
  • 200g bacon, cut up and cooked
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 500g spinach, par cooked
  • 400g chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tin condensed creamy mushroom soup
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herbs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 200g grated cheddar
  • 200g grated mozzarella
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Making it happen:

Chicken Florentine 21. Cut up the bacon and fry in 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, until cooked, about 10 minutes. Set aside but keep the juices in the pan.

 

 

Chicken Florentine 32. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks. Dredge them through flour, shaking off the excess. In the same pan, fry the chicken pieces on medium heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for another 5 mins. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Chicken Florentine 93. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, par cook the spinach, just enough until it softens slightly. Spinach, when uncooked, takes up a large amount of space, and you’re only par cooking it until it shrinks.

 

Chicken Florentine 84. Preheat your oven to 200°C (mine takes 10 minutes to heat up to that temperature, making this the perfect time to switch it on). Pour the condensed mushroom soup and cream into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Italian herbs and lemon juice and stir well. Add the cheddar and stir until melted.

Chicken Florentine 65. In a deep dish, spray cooking spray at the bottom and layer the spinach across the dish. Place the mushrooms over the spinach and pour half the sauce over the mushrooms. Spread the chicken pieces on top and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken, making sure you cover the entire dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta.

Chicken Florentine 7

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Edgar Allen Poe Edition

I love this man – dark yet deep. However, you don’t have to be a Poe fan to appreciate this week’s quote. Dreaming is vital to sanity, both daydreaming and the unconscious dreams that filter into our minds when we’re in comfortable slumber. The two are intrinsically different though. At night, we have no control over the movies that play in our head but during the day, that is an entirely different matter. Without fantasizing, there are no goals, no visualizations of what we desire and therefore limited motivation to achieve them. Dream big but fantasize bigger.

Image: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

 

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut cupcakes 9

I’ve recently developed quite an affinity for coconut, ever since I used it in truffles. I always used to underestimate its taste but I’m now a firm (actually, somewhat flabby) believer. I had some desiccated coconut in the cupboard so I modified my traditional vanilla cupcake and cream cheese frosting recipe to accommodate coconut flakes and coconut milk and the result was amazeballs! These cupcakes are smooth, moist and the perfect balance of flavours. You don’t want them to be too vanilla-y or almond-y because the coconut will go unnoticed, and similarly, you don’t want them to the coconut to overpower the other flavours. This recipe incorporates all of those flavours and brings everything together with a light and fluffy creamy frosting that will leave you wanting more.

Coconut Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 -16
  • Time: Prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 15-18 minutes
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Coconut cupcakes 1Stuff coconut dreams are made of:

  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • ½ cup coconut milk (+ 2 tablespoons for frosting)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut (+ another ½ cup for frosting)

Making it happen:

Coconut cupcakes 31. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides when needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well mixed, again scraping down the sides. Add the vanilla paste (or essence) and almond essence and stir until combined.

Coconut cupcakes 42. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In three stages, add the dry ingredients and coconut milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry, mixing until just combined. Add the desiccated coconut.

 

Coconut cupcakes 53. Pour the batter into 12 individually lined muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clear.

 

 

Coconut cupcakes 6Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 100g butter, room temperature
  • 150g plain cream cheese, also room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk

Coconut cupcakes 71. Cut the butter into small cubes and allow to reach room temperature. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on high until light and fluffy, 3 – 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and beat only until it’s fully mixed, about 5 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Coconut cupcakes 82. Sift in the icing sugar, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until loosely combined, then beat until fully combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla essence and almond essence and give the frosting one last beat. Ice the cupcakes and generously sprinkle desiccated coconut over them.  

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

I love roast potatoes. I would happily live on them if I didn’t mind not being able to fit through doorways. They are a staple for any roast, though, and I always add pan drippings but you can make these potatoes without them. Reason? You roast them in chicken stock with rosemary and garlic, and that gives them flavour in abundance! They roast in the stock which boils down and leaves you with crispy, rosemary and garlic-infused potatoes. Don’t turn them halfway through as they will break up. It’s pretty simple – add all the ingredients, pop the roasting tray in the oven and leave until they’re golden brown. Hashtag droolfest.

Note that I didn’t add garlic to this dish because I used pan drippings from my roast chicken, which contained copious amount of garlic. However, if you’re not using pan drippings, add either a tablespoon of minced garlic or 6 crushed garlic cloves.

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

  • Servings: 6 side servings
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Roast potatoes 1Supplies:

  • 2kg potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Leaves from 1-2 rosemary sprigs (1 if large, 2 if smaller)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pan drippings/roast chicken juices (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic/6 crushed cloves (if not using pan drippings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Making it happen:

Roast potatoes 31. Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F).
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Drizzle olive oil over them and stir to fully coat them. Add the rosemary (and garlic if applicable) and thoroughly stir. Pour the chicken stock (and roast chicken juices if applicable) over the potatoes, stir and place in the oven on the middle shelf.

 

Roast potatoes 42. Roast for 1½ hours until they’re crispy and the stock has boiled down. Serve hot.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Truffles

Mixed truffles 1This month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies was a challenge! The theme is ‘sweets and colours’. How hard could it possibly be? Well, as it turns out, it was not as easy as I thought, but that’s the whole point of my and Ann’s monthly challenge – that we challenge each other and ourselves.

I racked my brain and Googled it for days, trying to find something that would suffice. Then something happened. I made Oreo truffles and fell in love. I mean, an unhealthy, obsessive, I-want-to-consume-all-of-you type of love. My mind was made up, this is it. This is the recipe. But why stop there, right? I wanted to add variety, so I came up with dark chocolate, chilli and almond truffles rolled in sesame seeds. I was in a quandary… which was my favourite? I couldn’t decide. So, to complicate things more, I added one more to the mix. White chocolate and coconut truffles with blue food colouring. The coconut perfectly compliments the sweetness of the white chocolate. I’ve separated the recipes into individual printable versions, but they are all delicious.

Oreo Truffles with Peppermint Crisp Topping

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Time: Prep time 20 mins Chill time 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Oreo 1Stuff dreams are made of:

  • 120g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 150g crushed Oreos
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • Peppermint Crisp, crushed

Making it happen:

Oreo 21. Break up the Oreos into halves. Blitz in your food processor until they resemble find crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, halve the Oreos and put them in a Ziploc bag. Crush with a rolling pin or mallet.

 

 

 

 

 

Oreo 32. Put the cream cheese into a bowl and stir a few times to evenly spread it across the bowl. Add the Oreos and vanilla paste/essence and mix thoroughly, either with your hands or a tablespoon. (I used the back of a tablespoon.)

 

 

 

 

 

Oreo 53. Scoop out a heaped teaspoon’s worth of Oreo mixture into your hand and roll into a little ball. They are very rich so I don’t use more than one teaspoon of Oreo and cream cheese mixture. Put the ball on a baking tray lined with grease-proof paper, repeat these steps until you have finished all of the mixture. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Oreo 64. Melt the milk chocolate and cream and using two forks, dip the Oreo truffles into the melted chocolate, covering the entire ball. Sprinkle the crushed Peppermint Crisp over the truffle and repeat the process until you’ve used up all of the chocolate mixture.

 

Oreo 95. Place the truffles back on the lined baking tray and return to the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. You can also freeze them.  

 

White Chocolate and Coconut Truffles

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: Prep time 20 mins Chill time 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

White choc ingredientsStuff dreams are made of:

  • 80g double thick cream
  • 250g white cooking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence)
  • 1 teaspoon blue food colouring (optional)

 

Making it happen: 

White choc 31. Chop up the white chocolate into small pieces. Melt the double cream on medium-low. As soon as it starts bubbling, take it off the heat, add the butter and stir until fully melted. Add the chocolate pieces, stirring until fully dissolved. Add the vanilla paste/essence and stir it in and then add the food colouring, stirring until fully mixed. Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours.

 

White choc 52. Once the chocolate has chilled completely, pour the desiccated coconut into a bowl. Spoon the chilled chocolate into your hand, one full teaspoon’s worth, and roll into a ball.

 

 

 

White choc 73. Roll the chocolate ball in the coconut. Repeat until you have finished all the chocolate.

 

 

 

White choc 8

4. Refrigerate until  you’re ready to serve. These truffles may also be frozen.

Dark Chocolate and Chilli Truffles with Sesame Seeds

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Time: Prep time 20 mins Chill time 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dark choc 1Stuff spicy dreams are made of:

  • 80g double cream at room temperature (or thick cream)
  • 250g dark chocolate cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder

Making it happen:

Dark choc 21. Chop up the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the double cream on medium-low heat and stir in the butter. Stir in the caster sugar. Once the cream starts to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, whisking until it’s fully dissolved. Add almond essence and chilli, stirring thoroughly. Pour into a shallow bowl, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.

 

Dark choc 72. Once the chocolate and chilli mixture is completely chilled, remove from the fridge. Place the sesame seeds in a bowl and, using one teaspoon’s worth of truffle mixture, roll them into a ball in the palm of your hand, and roll the ball in the sesame seeds, covering all sides.

 

 

20150814_0954283. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all of the chocolate chilli mixture and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.