Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes (Photo courtesy BettyCrocker.com)

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes (Photo courtesy BettyCrocker.com)

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes from BettyCrocker.com are easy treats for holiday bake sales, parties and after-school gatherings. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist spice cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 cup chopped, peeled apple (1 medium)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup caramel topping
24 (3-sticks) cinnamon sticks
Ground cinnamon for garnish

1. Heat oven to 350F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
2. Make cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Stir in chopped apple. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely.
4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon frosting into decorating bag fitted with star tip; pipe on tops of cupcakes.
5. Drizzle with caramel topping. Top each cupcake with cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
SOURCE: BettyCrocker.com

Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Coffee Ice Cream Pie (Photo courtesy Pillsbury.com and General Mills)

Coffee Ice Cream Pie (Photo courtesy Pillsbury.com and General Mills)

I missed National Coffee Day on Friday, but do we really need a designated non-holiday for an excuse to sample Coffee Ice Cream Pie? I think not. This recipe from Pillsbury.com is quick and easy.

Coffee Ice Cream Pie
Yield: 8-10 servings

Crust:
30 thin chocolate wafers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons finely chopped cashews
Filling:
1 quart (4 cups) coffee-flavored ice cream, slightly softened
1 cup hot fudge topping, warmed
Whole cashews for garnish
Chocolate-covered coffee beans for garnish

1. In a medium bowl, mix crushed chocolate wafers, butter, coconut and chopped cashews. Press mixture in bottom and side of 9-inch glass pie plate; refrigerate 15 minutes. Carefully spoon softened ice cream into chilled crust. Cover and freeze about 2 hours or until firm.
2. Top individual servings with fudge topping; garnish with whole cashews. Cover and freeze any remaining pie.
Test kitchen tip: To make cutting the pie easier, remove it from the freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Substitute macadamia nuts for the cashews in the crust and garnish.
SOURCE: Pillsbury.com

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co.)

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co.)

The thought of Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies from McCormick & Co. just makes me smile.  These treats are a chocolate lover’s dream with a soft chocolate cookie dough base and semi-sweet chocolate chunks. You can switch out the vanilla with orange, coconut and peppermint extracts for flavor twists. Me? I like them just like this:

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Yield: 24 (2-cookie) servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets sprayed with no stick cooking spray.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
SOURCE: MCCORMICK & CO.

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake makes an impression at potlucks and Sunday brunch. A grapefruit is a cross between an orange and a pomelo, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A normal grapefruit tree produces, on average, 350 pounds of grapefruit in a season. Some older trees have been known to produce up to 1,500 pounds of fruit in one season. Florida grapefruit are split into two classifications, white and pink. Each has its own distinct taste. The Florida grapefruit season begins in September and runs through May.

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake
Yield: 9-10 inch cake or 9-12 servings

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons dried ginger
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
2 3/4 cups Dixie Crystals Free-Flowing Brown Sugar Shaker
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fine grated grapefruit zest, no white bitter pith
3/4 cup grapefruit juice, do not discard grapefruit peel
1/4 cup candied ginger
Grapefruit glaze:
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 cup Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
Candied grapefruit peel:
1 to 2 grapefruits from juiced fruits
1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and ginger together. Set aside.
3. In a stand or hand held mixer using paddle attachment, mix butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix well.
Add one egg at a time waiting for the previous added egg to be fully incorporated and mixture regains a smooth homogenous look.
Add salt and grapefruit zest. Alternately add flour mixture and grapefruit juice in 5 steps, starting with and ending with flour.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and place in oven. After 15 minutes in oven reduce temperature to 325F. Bake until center of the cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger or an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. If cakes becomes too dark before being done, cover cake with a lightly butter piece of foil. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before turning upside down on a serving platter.
5. Prepare the glaze by combining grapefruit juice and powdered sugar, cover with plastic food wrap and set aside.
Using a sharp knife remove outer zest from grapefruit peel. Ensure that only a minimum of white bitter pith is still on zest. Bring sugar, water and honey to boil. Add grapefruit peel and cover with a lid. Simmer on very low for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Brush cake with glaze and decorate with candied ginger and grapefruit zest.
SOURCE: Chef Eddy Van Damme for Dixie Crystals

Back to school with dairy: Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Back to school with dairy: Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Welcome to another school year, where the operative word is “new.” New clothes, new school supplies, new friends, new academic challenges. So why are you sending the kids off with the same old lunch? The Florida Dairy Farmers are ready with practical and delicious help for parents and teachers. Milk contains nine essential nutrients, all of which contribute to healthy bodies. And milk is the No. 1 food source of most of these, including calcium and vitamin D, in the diets of children, according to the National Dairy Council.
Every Thursday in August we are exploring how the versatility of dairy products fit into a busy school year. From packing lunches, power breakfasts to easy weeknight meals we will help you fuel up for another great school year. For a bonus, each dish is designed to have leftovers that will help with meal planning later in the week.
Today’s recipe is Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars. Here is an after-school snack that is best served with a tall cold glass of milk. I call them “Kitchen Sink” because I first made these in January trying to use up ingredients leftover from holiday baking. It seemed like everything but the kitchen sink was going into the basic mix! With these proportions in mind, you can make these your own by adding other cereals or nuts.

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars
Yield: about 18 bars

1 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons local honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups crisp rice cereal
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pretzel sticks
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chopped pecan pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. Spread oats in rimmed baking pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until just toasted, stirring twice. Remove from oven; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.
3. In a pan, combine corn syrup, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, and honey. Heat and stir on medium until peanut butter and sugar melt. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and salt.
4. In a large bowl, mix oats, cereal, pretzels, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds and pecans. Stir in hot corn syrup mixture. (I find it easier to put on food service gloves and mix with my hands.)
5. Press mixture into the baking dish. Scatter chocolate pieces over the top, pressing into oat mixture. Bake 12-15 minutes or until firm. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto a cutting board and peel off foil. Using another cutting board turn over so that the smooth side is down. Cut into bars and store in a plastic container with wax or parchment paper between layers.

Leftover strategy

  • Chop extra bars and stir into low-fat frozen yogurt, or plain low-fat yogurt for a weekend indulgence.
  • The bars freeze well and make a good offering for school potluck parties and after-school activities.
17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting was originally published in the 1940 edition of “Aunt Cora’s Vintage Cookbook.” You can find this recipe and other great tested dishes at DixieCrystals.com. Use the “Spoon & Sweep” method to measure the flour until required amount is obtained. Scooping measuring cup directly into flour bag will firmly pack flour resulting in too much flour required for recipe.

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting
Yield: 8-10 servings

Cake:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or lemon extract
Chocolate frosting:
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons hot water
1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Vanilla frosting:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft
3 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour two 8-inch baking pans and set aside. (Fitting a round piece of parchment paper on bottom of baking pan is highly recommended for easy removal of cake.) Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine shortening, sugar and unbeaten egg and beat with a slotted spoon until very light (2-3 minutes). Add extract to milk.  Mix and sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Add milk and dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Stir until flour is moistened then beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
3. Divide batter evenly into the pans and place in oven, bake for 25 minutes until center of cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  After 5 minutes turn cake pans upside down on parchment paper lined surface and allow to cool completely before cutting or frosting.
4. When cooled, prepare chocolate frosting: Stir 1/4 cup confectioner’s powdered sugar into egg yolks. Add melted chocolate, butter and water and blend thoroughly.  Finally, stir in remaining powdered sugar, beating vigorously until smooth.  Reserve 1/2 cup.
5. Prepare vanilla frosting. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until light and creamy. Add milk, vanilla and salt and beat until blended. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar. Scrape bowl well. Whip until very light and fluffy.
6. Place 1st cake round on a serving platter and spread with chocolate frosting, keeping 1/2 inch away from edge. Cover with 2nd cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with vanilla frosting. Thin the 1/2 cup of chocolate frosting with a few drops of water.  Drizzle slowly from tip of spoon on to top and sides of cake.
SOURCE: DIXIE CRYSTALS

Pimento-Bacon Cheese

Pimento-Bacon Cheese

Pimento-Bacon Cheese

Pimento-Bacon Cheese

June is National Dairy Month. So let’s raise an ice-cold glass of milk to toast Florida’s more than 100 dairy farms. And while we could leave it at that, there is so much more to this monthlong focus on dairy awareness. The possibilities are endless because milk is only the beginning of this culinary journey. Just check out our new campaign “Undeniably Dairy,” to see just how easy it is to help yourself to several servings of all things dairy every day. Every Thursday in June we are exploring how the versatility of dairy products fit into busy healthful, lifestyles with recipes that won’t bust the budget. Today’s recipe is Pimento-Bacon Cheese, a Southern classic that varies a bit from kitchen to kitchen from Florida to Kentucky and from the Carolina shore to Louisiana. Pimento cheese is many things in the Southern larder. At any given summer party the mixture can be a condiment, a sandwich spread and a dip. And it’s all good. You can blend other cheeses flavors, such as smoked gouda and Colby into the mix, but sharp Cheddar should dominate.

Pimento-Bacon Cheese
Yield: 3 to 4 cups

4 thick slices applewood bacon
2 (8-ounce) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimento, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces lower-fat cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
3 dashes datil pepper hot sauce, or to taste

1. Cook bacon in skillet 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon.
2. In a large bowl, combine bacon, grated cheese, cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise, shallots, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and hot sauce. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Time-saver tips:
• Buy already cooked bacon slices.
• Chill the cheese before grating. Cold cheese is easier to hold.
• Buy grated cheese, but make sure it comes to room temperature before mixing. This is a no-no in many Southern homes, but I have had good success when the cheese is soft.

Dairy and your health
Vitamin D, a key component of dairy products functions in the body to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, which help to build and maintain bones. Milk and yogurt that are fortified with vitamin D are good sources of this nutrient.

Florida Dairy fun facts
• Milk has played an important role in America’s history since 1611 when the first cows were brought to Jamestown, Virgina.
• According to ancient records passed down through the centuries, the making of cheese dates back more than 4,000 years.
• One gallon of milk is approximately 345 squirts of a cow’s udder.

Easy Breezy Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Easy Breezy Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Easy Breezy Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Easy Breezy Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

June is National Dairy Month. So let’s raise an ice-cold glass of milk to toast Florida’s more than 100 dairy farms. And while we could leave it at that, there is so much more to this monthlong focus on dairy awareness. The possibilities are endless because milk is only the beginning of this culinary journey. Just check out our new campaign “Undeniably Dairy,” to see just how easy it is to help yourself to several servings of all things dairy every day. Every Thursday in June we are exploring how the versatility of dairy products fit into busy healthful, lifestyles with recipes that won’t bust the budget. Today’s recipe is Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, a refreshing summer dessert that deconstructs the classic Florida treat from the crust to the topping.

Easy Breezy Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
Yield: 5 servings

Ice cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly-grated lime zest
Graham cracker topping:
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 tablespoon melted butter, or more if needed
2 tablespoons extra-fine sugar
Whipped spiced-rum cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon spiced rum
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1. Line a metal or glass loaf pan with wax paper. For the ice cream, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, Key lime juice and zest. Gently fold in whipped cream in thirds. Fold into the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze pan for 8 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the graham cracker topping. Heat oven to 350F. Combine crushed crackers, melted butter and sugar until mixture is the consistency of soft sand. Turn mixture onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and press flat. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool. Break apart and set aside in bowl.
3. For the spiced-rum cream, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add spiced rum. Beat until stiff peaks form, then fold in lime zest.
4. Remove loaf pan from freeze and let sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Dip an ice cream scoop in hot water and then pull through the pan to form balls. Serve in a bowl topped with graham cracker crumbles and the rum flavored whipped cream.

Time-saver tips:
• Buy a ready to use graham-cracker crust and crumble for the topping.
• Freeze the bowls and beaters used for whipping the cream in Steps 1 and 3.
• Freeze the ice cream mixture in cupcake paper lined muffin tins. The small increments will freeze faster and serving portions will be easier to control.

Dairy and your health
Calcium, a key component of dairy, is used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone mass. Dairy products are the primary source of calcium in American diets. Diets that provide 3 cups or the equivalent of dairy products per day can improve bone mass.

Florida Dairy fun facts
• Florida dairy farmers recycle about 170,000 tons of byproducts such as citrus pulp, brewers’ grain and whole cottonseed that are consumed by the cows instead of ending up in landfills.
• There are about 123,000 dairy cows in Florida that collectively produce about 2.34 billion pounds of milk a year.
• The total represents 277 million gallons of Florida-produced milk in the grocery

Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies

Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies

Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies (Photo courtesy The Hershey Co.)

Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies (Photo courtesy The Hershey Co.)

A platter of Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies will turn heads at any summer picnic. Blondies and their cousin brownies are timeless, simple pleasures. Easy to make from scratch, most recipes have five common ingredients: some form of chocolate (traditional or white), flour, sugar, butter and eggs. The increments will vary depending on the cook’s desired texture. Old recipes generally call for more flour and baking powder. Modern recipes use less flour and little baking powder to achieve a more fudgelike texture. Whether you like the squares dense and fudgy or compact yet cakey, recipes vary from plain Jane to wildly embellished with nuts, chips or fruits. I love chocolate, but today I want to share this blondie

Festive Fruited White Chip Blondies
Yield: 16 bars

1/2 cup butter
2 cups Hershey’s Premier White Chips (12-ounce package), divided
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Heat oven to 325F. Grease and flour 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in 1 cup white chips; remove from heat. Beat eggs in large bowl until foamy. Add sugar; beat until thick and pale yellow in color. Add flour, orange juice and white chip mixture; beat just until combined. Spread one-half of batter, about 1-1/4 cups, in prepared pan.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until edges pull away from side of pan; remove from oven.
4. Stir cranberries, apricots and remaining 1 cup white chips into remaining one-half of batter; spread over top of hot baked mixture. Stir together nuts and brown sugar; sprinkle over top.
5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and pull away from side of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.
SOURCE: Hersheys.com

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co., © Meredith Corp.)

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co., © Meredith Corp.)

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake is a keeper from the McCormick test kitchen. The dessert turns a simple ginger-and-orange cake into a modern “Fresh From Florida” twist on the old-fashioned upside-down cake theme. Serve slices with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt to toast Florida’s dairy farmers and keep the Dairy Month celebration going.

Blueberry-Mango Upside-Down Cake
Yield: 12 Servings

2 egg whites
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups peeled, pitted and sliced fresh mangoes and/or unpeeled peach slices
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup fresh blueberries and fresh peach and/or mango slices (optional)
3 cups vanilla frozen yogurt for serving

1. Place egg whites in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and ginger; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-by-1 1/2-inch round baking pan.
3. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Spread in prepared pan. Arrange 1 1/2 cups mango and/or peach slices over brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup blueberries.
4. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add half of the granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, beat the 1/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the remaining half of the granulated sugar and the vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed just until combined. Fold egg white mixture into batter; spoon over fruit in baking pan, spreading evenly.
6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
7. Loosen side by running a knife around cake; invert onto serving plate. Cut into wedges. Serve warm. If desired, top with additional fruit and serve with frozen yogurt.
SOURCE: McCormick & Co.