Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake Piece

This cake makes me homesick for Texas. It’s a classic. And no, you cannot substitute any other nuts for the pecans. : ) My kids won’t eat anything with nuts, so if I’m feeling nice I will make the cake and only put the pecans on half the cake. The cake still tastes good, but it is not the same.

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 butter
1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 2 teaspoons lemon juice and enough milk to make 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs

For the frosting:
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray a 13 X 9-inch pan with cooking spray and dust with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Combine the water, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer until blended. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs; beating well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool.

For the frosting, combine the butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread over the hot cake. Sprinkle the cake with the chopped pecans. Let the cake cool completely before serving.

You can bake this cake on a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan. Just cut the baking time to about 17 minutes.


Candied Pecans

I made these candied pecans to add to salads.  They are excellent on a salad of mixed greens, fresh fruit (strawberries, mandarian oranges, pears), goat cheese and sweet poppyseed dressing or raspberry vinaigrette.  They are also wonderful for snacking. 

Candied Pecans

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayenne
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

In small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and cayenne.

In medium skillet, combine butter and sugar mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted.  Once sugar has melted, add the pecans and stir until the nuts are coated.  Pour onto a sheet of aluminum foil and let cool completely.


Strawberry Pecan Bread

From September 8, 2007:  I baked a batch of this strawberry bread today.  I love strawberries and pecans together.   I used frozen strawberries that my son and I picked at the beginning of Summer at Belvedere Plantation in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  This recipe made 6 mini loaves (baking time about 40 minutes).  I’m planning on freezing individual servings for quick breakfasts for weekdays.

Strawberry Pecan Bread

2 packages frozen sliced strawberries (10 oz each), thawed
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Oil 2 (9- x 5-inch)loaf pans well; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine strawberries, eggs and oil; stir to mix well. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and pecans.

Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Pour into loaf pans; bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Brownie Biscotti

It is about time to start my holiday baking (I give cookies as gifts). Biscotti are some of my favorite cookies to bake. They are low-fat, crunchy, and wonderful dipped in hot coffee. These brownie biscotti are very good. If you are planning on giving them as gifts, you will have to hurry up and package them so that you don’t eat them all. The only (slight) problem I have with this recipe is that it ONLY makes 2 dozen cookies.

Oh, a good tip: line the baking pan with foil and then spray the foil with cooking spray…this makes it so much easier to remove the biscotti log from the pan after the first baking. Enjoy!

Brownie Biscotti

2 T. butter (or margarine), softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cups chocolate chips or white chocolate chunks
1/4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg, egg white and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. add to the egg mixture and stir until almost combined. Add chocolate chips and pecans and stir just until blended.

Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into an 8” long log. Place the logs 2” – 3” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and flatten each into a rectangle that is about 3” wide.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until firm and starting to crack on top. transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Place logs on a cutting board, trim the ends and cut each diagonally into 1/2” to 3/4” thick slices with a sharp serrated knife. Place biscotti cut side down on the cookie sheet. Return them to the oven for 20 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen biscotti.

Recipe source: One Smart Cookie by Julie van Rosendaal


Colorado Cowboy Cookies

Colorado Cowboy  Cookies

I made these cookies recently and they were super yummy. I used 1/8 cup of cookie dough for each cookie instead of 1/4 cup and they were still pretty honkin’ big. I used pecans instead of walnuts (it’s a Texas thing). These cookies would be great for a bake sale or a nice lunchbox treat.

Colorado Cowboy Cookies
Source:  Olive’s Sandwich Shop in SoHo, NYC

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (about 4 ounces)

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat until just blended. Stir in the choand walnuts. Cover dough and chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly before continuing.)

Arrange 2 racks in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 baking sheets. Form dough into balls, using 1/4 cup dough for each. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten with hand to 3 1/2-inch rounds. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and firm in center, about 4 minutes longer. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.


Texas Pesto

Texas Pesto

I absolutely adore cilantro and always welcome ways to use even more of it.  Years ago I had a cilantro-pecan pesto at a Central Market in Austin, Texas and was hooked.  This recipe is very similar to the pesto I had in Texas.

This Texas Pesto is versatile.  I used some to make pizzas (pesto instead of tomato sauce) topped with mozzarella, onions, red bell pepper, black olives, and artichoke hearts…..they were delicious.  The pesto is also great as a dip with tortilla chips.  My friend, Donna mixes a few tablespoons in with rice for a pretty and delicious side dish.

Texas Pesto

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper (I used a whole chile)
1/4 cup toasted pecans
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Prepare the pesto by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.


Cranberry Praline Bread

cranberry praline bread

This bread is so good.  I baked a batch of the festive mini loaves to give as gifts.  The sweet praline glaze really adds to this quick bread.

Cranberry Praline Bread

Bread Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Glaze Ingredients:
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and cranberries in small bowl; toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine sugar, sour cream, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat just until moistened. Stir in cranberry mixture and 1/2 cup pecans by hand.

Spoon batter evenly into 4 greased and floured mini (5 1/2×3-inch) loaf pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans.

Meanwhile, combine brown sugar and 1/3 cup butter in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil (3 to 4 minutes). Spoon glaze mixture over warm loaves. Immediately sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans.

TIP: One greased (9×5-inch) loaf pan can be used instead of the 4 mini loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.

Yield: 32 servings (4 mini loaves)

Recipe source: www.landolakes.com