Thursday, December 29, 2011

Date Nut Cake- Project Vintage Recipes December recipe

My mom brought me a copy of this Nut Cake recipe that belonged to my great grandma Stauber.  It's part of the recipe collection that she gave me last Christmas, but got mixed in with her recipes at home.  We decided to make this together while she was in town visiting for Christmas.  It was fun to be able to work in the kitchen with my mom and try something new.  This Nut Cake recipe is written out on an old note card by someone named Mrs. Carter.  We aren't sure who Mrs. Carter is, but my grandmother sure loved this recipe.  It was well used and even has some grease stains and markings to prove it.   After making this vintage keeper, we know why she loved it so much.  It's a super moist and delicious cake that is wonderful any time of day.  Perfect with a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon cup of tea.  The amount of baking soda seemed a bit much when preparing, but the end result is perfect.  My husband and I agreed that the one thing that would make this incredible would be to soak the nuts in bourbon for a few days (or up to a week....some drunk nuts) and then add the drained nuts to the batter.  Of course, what's not good soaked in bourbon??  Yum.  We absolutely love the taste, texture and easy preparation of this dessert!  Enjoy~

Nut Cake (recipe from the early 1900's)

The original recipe:

1 lb dates chopped fine, pits removed
2 tbsp baking soda
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup natural brown sugar
1/2 cup organic white sugar
2 well beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (King Arthur's brand)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans, but walnuts would be great too)


Place chopped dates in a large bowl and sprinkle with baking soda.  Pour boiling water over the dates and let sit until cool.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars and then add the beaten eggs.  Mix until creamy.  Sift the flours with the teaspoon of cinnamon and then slowly add to the butter mixture until all is incorporated.  Add vanilla, dates (with water) and chopped nuts and stir until blended.  Pour into two 9 inch greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.  This can also be served topped with fresh whipped cream.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Sangria

I love Sangria any time of year, but a large pitcher of this delicious red wine cocktail looks especially festive for the holidays.  I use agave nectar in my cocktails as a substitute for sugar and simple syrup.  It's a little sweeter than table sugar, so add it to taste if you are making your own substitutions.  Enjoy~

Holiday Sangria
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse


  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy or spiced rum
  • 1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur (recommended: triple sec or Grand Marnier)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup light amber agave nectar
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 pear, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 unwaxed red apple and 1/2 unwaxed green apple, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle sparkling water, chilled


Prepare your fruit...

Combine everything but the sparkling water in a large plastic container or glass pitchers.

 Cover and chill completely, 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the sparkling water.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shrimp Shooters

I have been admiring the mini parfait glasses at Pier1 for months, but added them to my "want but do not need list" for party entertaining.  However, I was super pumped when I found them at Marshall's for less than half the price!  Score!!  There are so many fun things that you can serve in these mini dishes.  I love them for layered desserts, but they also make perfect glasses for serving shrimp cocktail.  I added a small romaine leaf, cocktail sauce, a medium size peeled shrimp, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little lemon zest.  They make a beautiful presentation and a tasty bite-sized tapas dish.  This is a healthy holiday appetizer that you can feel great about serving to your guests!  Enjoy~

Shrimp Shooters

Cooked fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on) you can use frozen cooked shrimp, just thaw according to package directions
romaine leaves
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
cocktail sauce (recipe below)

Cocktail sauce:
1 cup organic ketchup
3 tbsp horseradish (or more to taste)
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
dash salt
dash Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients and serve with shrimp. 

Place a small romaine leaf in each mini parfait glass.  Add cocktail sauce and place shrimp on top.  Squeeze a little lemon juice over each shrimp and top with a little lemon zest.  Easy breezy and oh so elegant!  Chill until ready to serve.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Balls

After playing around with making cake pops this Halloween, I thought it would be fun to do a cake ball for my Christmas cookie exchange.  I wanted to try a new twist on the cake pop recipe, so I added one of my favorite things in the whole world to the cake crumbles.....NUTELLA (a.k.a heaven on a spoon).  I knew that it would work incredibly well as a binding agent instead of the frosting that normally holds a cake ball together.  I also added chopped hazelnuts for a great crunch.  A new family favorite was born this week.  These little chocolate hazelnut balls are dangerously delicious! 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Balls

1 Devil’s food cake, baked and cooled (box or homemade)

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, chopped finely
1 (13 oz) container Nutella

12 oz bag Ghirardelli bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp shortening

Royal icing for drizzling

*Optional: Sugar sprinkles

Prepare cake and cool.  Break cake up into sections and place into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Set mixer to low and mix until cake is crumbly.  Add nutella and mix until just incorporated.  Add hazelnuts and mix until combined.  Roll into tablespoon size balls and refrigerate overnight.

Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler until smooth.  Dip balls one at a time with a fork and allow to dry and harden.  Drizzle with royal icing and top with clear sugar sprinkles.  Store in the refrigerator.

Easy Snowman Pancakes

This is a super easy way to make cute snowmen for breakfast (no fancy molds required).  I just use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and pour three overlapping circles of my favorite clean-eating pancake batter to form a snowman shape.

 Decorate with whipped topping, raisins, chocolate chips, craisins, nuts, etc.  The kids had so much fun making their own this weekend.  You don't have to be Martha Stewart to make cute treats for your kids, just a little imagination.  These guys couldn't be more simple and they were greeted with huge smiles!  I also add a little oat bran and ground flaxseed to my pancake batter for added health benefits.  A small amount will not alter the taste or texture of your baked goods.  Enjoy~

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cheesy Pancetta Pasta Bake

This recipe is a modified version of my Southern Style Mac and Cheese, lightened-up.  It was such a winner in our house, that I wanted to share this variation.  I love just about anything with cheese in it.   The pancetta adds great flavor to this dish.  Since this recipe only uses about 4oz, you get the great flavor without much added fat.   I served this as our main dish with steamed broccoli.  A very kid-friendly meal.  Enjoy~

Cheesy Pancetta Pasta Bake

8oz uncooked penne pasta, cook according to package directions (I prefer Dreamfields, it's a low-glycemic, low-carb pasta that actually tastes good!)
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz finely diced pancetta (Italian bacon)
1 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
1 ½ cups 50% less fat Cabot's sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 ½ cups 2% organic milk
½ stick smart balance butter, melted
Dash ground mustard
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil macaroni according to package, drain and cool.   Saute diced pancetta over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered (about 5 minutes or so).

Drain and set aside.  In a large bowl, add drained pancetta and all other ingredients (reserving 3/4 cup cheddar cheese for topping).


Toss with cooked macaroni and spread into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly golden on top.

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Family Fresh Meals

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fit and Fabulous Fridays #13 Holiday Edition

It's Fit and Fabulous Fridays link up where amazing foodies share their favorite healthy recipes!!   I welcome all blogging friends to link up and join the fun. This is a place for you to showcase your amazing creations, make my readers really hungry and add to my fit recipe collection. I really appreciate all of you and the great recipes that you share. It would be awesome to see some lightened-up holiday favorites!  Have a fabulous weekend!!!!

Here's how it works:
  • Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your recipe.
  • Please leave a link back to this post in your post and grab my button for your blog(please pass the word to your blog friends for more fabulous recipes!)
  • Share your delicious and fit recipes from this week.
  • Leave me a comment telling me that you've linked up.
  • Please visit at least two others and comment on their wonderful additions to this party.
  • "Like" my facebook page for updates and link party reminders
Thank you for being a part of my link party! I love sharing recipes and look forward to trying yours! Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kitty Litter Cake

My son did a presentation on Cat Care for his 4H project at school, so I thought it would be funny to send in a kitty litter cake to go with the theme.   It didn't count towards his grade, but his class got a big kick out of it.  I asked him if anyone was grossed out and he said "no, mom, they loved it!"  He, initially, wasn't a fan of bringing in the cake.  When I told him I was baking a kitty litter cake, he said "Gross!  No one's going to eat that!!"  However, when I told him what was in it (all of his favorite sweet treats), he was completely on board.  I found the "litter box" at the dollar store.  It wasn't an actual litter pan, but it looked convincing enough.  This is a great cake to make for Halloween, or anytime you want a good joke or conversation piece.  Doesn't it look soooooo appetizing?????

Kitty Litter Cake

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) package golden oreos
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls


  1. Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).
  2. Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.
  3. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often.
  4. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won't need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.
  5. Put cake mixture into a clean, washed (never used, please) litter box.
  6. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs.                
  7. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper.                 

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