It's Christmas

Well now that Thanksgiving is just a memory to be stored in that wonderful memory bank that we humans have where we can withdraw all those happy memories out of when we are feeling blue and down in the dumps, as that old saying goes.  Actually, through many scientific studies and health related research, it has been proven that recalling happy memories can enlighten you and ease your pain, make you smile and even laugh out loud.  However if you choose to recall only sad memories the opposite happens as your pain will become intense, you will be sad and depressed and instead of laughter there will be tears. Personally, like most people, I have both types of memories  and I can assure you  that the research theory works. Actually, my memory bank is working overtime storing the many memories that I deposited in past Novembers, both happy and sad as well. 


Now as the Christmas holiday season is here we will once again be tempted with all the  not so healthy traditional holiday foods.  So unless we want to join jolly old Santa Claus with his belly full of jelly, remember to enjoy all that wonderful holiday food, but in moderation and adapt the strategy that I use by eating healthy 80% most of the time and eat what you crave in moderation 20% of the time.  Also, if you overindulge one day, limit your intake the next day and drink more water. Hey, it works for me. You can find the guidelines for the Mediterranean Diet by clicking All Post at the top of the page and selecting New Year-New You Jan 2017.


My last update featured recipes and ideas for using all my harvested tomatoes from my garden and the generous offering from my son-in-law’s magnificent garden and although I shared several recipes and ideas, one that I truly wanted to share was my mom’s Tomato Soup Cake that she always made out of tomatoes from her huge garden. Unfortunately, although I searched all her cookbooks and written notes, it was nowhere to be found.  Although, I came across an 0ld Campbell Soup Cookbook from, the late 50’s, or 60’s and in the book was a recipe for Tomato Soup Cake.  Unfortunately the recipe called for a Spice Cake Mix-I know it wasn’t mom’s, because mom didn’t use cake mixes.  But neither do I, an I experimented and used the homemade cake mix that I made awhile back and made the cake and I must say, it was delicious.


I pride myself, because I try not to use processed foods and I usually can decipher how to create my own mixes for almost everything and I have shared some over the years. But I understand that people are very busy today and that time is at a premium, so I am usually reluctant to share them with you.  So for the few who are more interested in wanting to know what they are ingesting-think stabilizers, food coloring, artificial flavors etc.-rather than convenience, have fun with these recipes.  Remember you can use this mix to make anything that is made with a store bought cake and talk about convenience, you store the mix in your refrigerator and it is always handy.


Homemade Cake Mix


10 cups all purpose flour, sifted*

Or

5 cups all purpose flour, sifted

5 cups white whole white flour, sifted

6 cups sugar*

1 ⅓ Tbsp. salt

5 ½ Tbsp.  baking powder

1 cup butter or Crisco*


*I simply place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl  and measure the flour in it and gently shake it to release the flour.  Also 6 cups of sugar may seem to be a lot of sugar, but this recipe is equivalent to 4 boxes of cake mixes. I assume that you could use a granulated type sugar substitute that is equal to sugar, but I have not tried it.  Actually I use Florida Crystals Organic Raw Cane Sugar grown and harvested in the USA, rather than an artificial sugar produced in a lab.  *Crisco is not what it use to be and all the good qualities in Crisco certainly out way the very few ingredients that you may question. Take a minute to check the Crisco ingredients and information on the package.  Also keep in mind that Crisco is primarily used for frying and baked food, and these foods are only to be eaten in moderation.


Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Place 2 cups of flour in a processor with the butter or shortening and process until crumbly or simply use a pastry blender and press until crumbly. Add remaining flour and mix until blended.


Store mix in a covered container in the refrigerator for approximately 6 weeks.  May be frozen in freezer bags or container. I like to place 4 cups of mix-the same amount that is in a boxed cake mix-in individual freezer bags and place them in a container in the refrigerator for my convenience.


Now the fun begins and with the following directions you will be able to make any flavor cake beginning with the 4 cups of mix-minus the stabilizers, artificial coloring and flavors-because you will be adding natural ingredients to the mix.  However, it may take a few attempts to create everything to your liking.  Remember, all stoves are not alike as stoves are calibered differently.  Also the age of the stove also comes into play as well.  Like most appliances, technology has taken over and they perform totally different than the older models. So be patient please.


Yellow Cake Mix


4 cups mix

3 eggs

2 tsp. Vanilla

¼ cup butter

1 cup milk


White Cake Mix-Add 4 medium egg whites instead of 3 whole eggs.

Spice Cake-Add 1 tsp. Cinnamon, ½ tsp. and Allspice and 1/4 tsp. cloves.

Chocolate Cake-Add 2 extra Tbls. milk, 2 squares of chocolate, melted and 3 Tbls. cocoa powder.

Lemon Cake-Add 1 tsp. Lemon zest and ½ tsp. Lemon extract.


Directions-Place mix in bowl and make an indention in center of mix and add eggs, vanilla, butter and milk and special additions to mix.  Beat with an electric mixture on low until blended.  Beat 2 minutes longer to smooth. Place batter in baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and lightly floured.   Bake 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cake or when cake springs back when pressed gentle.


Each 4 cup portion of mix will yield 2- 8 inch layers or 1-13x9 cake  or 1 tube pan cake or 1-Bundt cake or 12 muffins or cupcakes. Also may be used in any Dump Cake recipe and there are hundreds and by the way, Dump Cakes are not a new food phenomenon as many believe as they were introduced many years ago when my children were young. You know the saying “What is old, is new again.”


Well because this recipe for Mom’s Tomato Soup Cake began my adventure into the world of homemade cake mixes and the amazing and delicious delicacies that you can create with them, as well as the time that you can save using them, I think that it only fair that I share that recipe first.


Mom’s Tomato Soup Cake-Recreated




4 cups homemade cake mix

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp. Cinnamon

½ tsp. Ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. Allspice

pinch Cloves

½ cup water

1 ½ cups tomato soup-I used my roasted tomato sauce tomato soup in my last update

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins or to taste-I always use a little bit more

1 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Spray a tube pan with butter flavored cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients well and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or when cake is gently pressed and pops back.


The best part of this kitchen experiment was creating all kinds of cookies using the homemade

cake mix. What a no-brainer, dumping 4 cups of cake mix in a bowl an adding a few ingredients and different add-ins and it looked like I was up all night making cookies.


Homemade Cake Mix Cookies




4 cups Homemade Cake Mix

½ cup butter or margarine

1 to 2 Tbl. milk

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 egg

½ cup nuts, optional*

1 cup chips-any flavor or M&M type candies or cut up candy bars like snickers. Be creative!

Spread parchment paper on cookie sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat cake mix, butter, vanilla and 1 Tbl. milk with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth.  If dry add more milk and beat until blended.  Bake 10-12 minutes

Peanut Butter Cookies


4 cups cake mix

¼ cups packed brown sugar

2 Tbl. water

1 cup peanut butter

¼ cup shortening or 0il

2 eggs

Granulated sugar for dusting, optional


Prepare cooking sheets with parchment paper and if making Reese's Peanut Butter

Cups, spray miniature muffin pan with butter flavored cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Beat cake mix, brown sugar, water, peanut butter, shortening or oil and eggs on medium speed of electric mixer until smooth.

Plain Peanut Butter Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten with fork dipped in sugar horizontally and vertically. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Store in airtight container at room temperature or freeze.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Scoop batter with small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Using a teaspoon, make a indention in center of cookie and fill with jelly.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and remove to cooling rack.  Store in airtight container or freeze.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.

Remove wrappers from candy

Spray miniature muffin pan with butter flavored cooking spray.  Roll batter into 1 inch balls and place in pan.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and remove from oven and immediately push a candy into the center of cup and cool in pan until cool enough to place on cooling rack.  When completely cool place in refrigerator until glossy.

Hershey Kisses Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Scoop batter with small ice cream scoop or spoon and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten with the back of spoon or palm of your hand.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey Kiss in center of cookie, cool on pan for 10 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Store in airtight container at room temperature or freese.


Homemade Cake Mix Rolled Cookies




4 cups Homemade Cake Mix

½ cup Crisco

⅓ cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat cake mix, shortening butter, vanilla and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds and at high speed for 1 minute.  Divide in four equal parts and chill for an hour. Roll on floured board approximately 1/4 to 3/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes.  Cookies may be sprinkled with decorating sugar before baking or painted with frosting that resembles Royal Frosting after baking by following the simple directions below.  To bake cookies place on parchment lined cookie sheet for 5 to seven minutes or until slightly brown on edges.  I like to remove them when there is a fine line of browning on the edges. 


Purchase a container of commercial frosting such as Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines White Frosting.  Place in small microwave safe bowls, like custard cups for each color you will be using.  Microwave 20 seconds or less until melted. Remove from microwave and stir lightly and add the color that you will be using and stir until combined.  I used 4 bowls, one I left white, one yellow, for the stars, and red and green.  You actually paint the frosting on the cookie-so buy an inexpensive package of artist brushes-they usually come with three sizes.  Store the brushes with your baking supplies. Unfortunately, in my haste, I selected a whipped frosting when it should have been a regular thickier type.  The frosting I used for the cookies in the photo produced a glaze rather than a thicker shell like frosting, when it dried. 


Using just the above simple recipes I was able to make several dozen cookies in a short amount of time.  I suggest that you check out your cookbooks for ideas as you really can mimic any cookie recipe using these homemade cake mix recipes


I also experimented with several Dump Cake Recipes and they all worked out well with the Homemade Cake Mix recipe.  I will only share one of them today because as you can see, this is getting to be a book, and with all the chores that you have to do to get ready for the holiday, I am certain that reading this is not one of them.  Although the cookies will help fill that holiday cookie tray.


Using both of the recipes, I created a variety of over six dozen delicious cookies that included the following:  chocolate chip, M & M cookies, potato chip butterscotch cookies, Coconut Thumbprint Jelly Cookies, Snickerdoodle Cookies, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies.  No, I didn’t overindulge, although I did sample a few and I shared trays with family and friends and my cookie jar is always full and there is always someone's hand in it!


There are many many Dump Cake recipes around as they were the rage this year (again), so you can choose any one to try with your homemade cake mix.   I simply combined some frozen blueberries and some frozen sliced peaches that I had in the freezer. You may want to stock up on some frozen fruits and vegetables that have been on sale as they are just as nutritious as some of the fresh that are in the market this time of year.


BLUEBERRY/PEACH DUMP CAKE

Note:  The adorable arrangement was designed by  my grandson's talented wife as a Thanksgiving gift!



1 can of blueberry pie filling

1 16 ounce bag frozen peaches. Thawed

4 cups Homemade cake mix

½ cup of butter or Smart Balance, cut into pieces

1 Tbl. lemon zest, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13 x 9 inch baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

Mix blueberries and peaches together and spread in pan.  Add lemon zest to Homemade Cake Mix and sprinkle over fruit filling and sprinkle butter or Smart Balance in single layer over mix. If you feel that the topping is dry, gently sprinkle water or juice to match over the topping and continue to bake for a few more minutes.

Bake 50-55 minutes.  Cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving.  Can be topped with frozen yogurt.


If you are on Facebook I am sure you have seen this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins

using every manufactured cake mix on the market.  Well it works very well with The Homemade Cake Mix as well.  I always try to do a little different spin on my recipes by adding other ingredients to the recipe.


Pumpkin Spice Muffin




4 cups Homemade Cake Mix

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp. allspice

Pinch cloves

1 15 oz. can pumpkin or squash

Raisins or dried cranberries, as desired

Pecans or walnuts,as desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a medium muffin pan with cooking spray-Add can of pumpkin or squash to dry mix.  Add spices and add-ins. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take out of oven and place on wet towel on a safe surface and muffins will not stick.




CREATIVE CORNER


In the Creative Corner today is Kara and Greg from Connecticut pictured at their annual Prelude To Christmas Party for family and friends.  The highlight of the party is an early visit from Santa transported by their towns colorfully illuminated fire engine with Rudolph leading the way.  Plans have to be made early in the year for this special fund raiser visit from Santa and it is always a very special treat and a great evening.  



I am sure it was a great evening and I would like to give a big shout out to Kara and Greg from Connecticut for their thoughtfulness and generosity and say THANK YOU, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THIS SEASON IS ALL ABOUT.


Note-If you have been observant you will notice at the top of the page the date for posting was suppose to be December 10 and that is the date I started this update. However, through my own carelessness, stupidity or whatever, I burnt my right hand and it was impossible to use my keyboard as well as paint the cookies and I apologize for that.  Call it selfish, but because I put so much time in to the update, I was determined to get it posted.  


HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 

FROM MY HOME TO YOURS





DISCLAIMER-HealthyCookngForToday.com is intended to supply my readers with timely medical information and suggestions for  healthier food choices and is not intended to give medical advice, which should be obtained from your personal physician.