Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pecan Upside Down Cakes

 Pecan Upside Down Cakes

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
Orange peel curls (optional)

1.    Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat 12 jumbo muffin cups with nonstick spray for baking; set aside.

2.    In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and honey. Cook and stir over medium heat or until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and shredded orange peel; set aside.

3.    In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4.    For batter, in a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and lemon colored. Add oil, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until combined. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until smooth.

5.    Place 2 tbsp. of the pecan mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup. Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of the batter into each cup. Place muffin pans on a foil-lined baking sheet.

6.    Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife or narrow metal spatula, loosen edges of cakes from sides of muffin cups. Invert cakes on to wire racks lined with wax paper. Spoon any pecan mixture remaining in the muffin cups on to cakes. If desired, garnish with orange peel. Serve warm or cool.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pasta with Peas and Ham

Instead of dealing with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, we came home with half a spiral-cut ham. (Yes, we did have turkey on Thanksgiving - but Ken and I ended up with the leftover ham instead.) As much as we like spiral-sliced ham, we got tired of eating it after a few meals and I had to find creative ways to use it. When I'm not feeling very creative and need recipe inspiration, I usually head to the Epicurious website, which is where I found the following recipe. I was immediately drawn to it because one of my favorite dishes at Tiramisu contains pasta, ham and peas. Although my pasta was pretty good, it didn't even compare to the Tiramisu dish . . . but that's okay. It wouldn't be such a treat to eat at Tiramisu if I could replicate their pasta at home!

Pasta with Peas and Ham 

1 pound pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp. water
6 oz. cooked ham, cut into strips (chopped prosciutto would also work)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, warm 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic during last minute of cooking.

3. Add the peas and water to the pan and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in the ham and cook 2 minutes. Add the cream; bring to a low simmer and cook 5 minutes.

4. Drain pasta; place in large serving bowl. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons butter into the cream mixture over low heat until melted. Stir in the cheese. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  - Adapted from