In The Kitchen: Birthday month closes with trio of recipes

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By Robin McDaniel
Blount Today

May was the "Happy Birthday" month for In the Kitchen. It has been a year since we started this column, and, I have to tell you, the sweetest part hasn’t been the cookies, cakes or candy.

It’s been the response from readers.

As In the Kitchen’s birthday month draws to a close, I want to thank all the folks who have had such nice things to say to me and those who email comments, questions and suggestions, that I truly appreciate and enjoy the feedback. The
majority of you always say, "I love the recipes because they are so easy."

I guess in today’s fast-paced world, if we are going to get to spend any time in the kitchen, it has to be on things that are quick and fairly easy. That’s OK with me, because I cook a lot and still like the easy ones.

Readers are encouraged to email or write to me if they have recipes they would like to share, or if they have lost a recipe that I might have or one of the other readers might have. I will publish these request if I can’t find the recipe, and will be happy to share your recipes with others.

One of the first recipes I had in the column was from my cousin Lisa Baldwin. I wanted to include another from her for the anniversary edition. Her recipe for Lisa’s Mixed Berry Cobbler, is one of her family’s favorite desserts.

Lisa’s Mixed Berry

2 pkgs. (16 oz. size) frozen mixed berries (or you can make your own combination)
1 box cake mix
2 cups of any lemon-lime carbonated drink (sugar-free also works)

Spread thawed berries in bottom of 13 x 9 inch cake pan that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Spread dry cake mix over top of berries, then pour carbonated drink over the top. Don’t stir. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Uncover and bake another 40 or 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm and with a scoop of ice cream!

My niece Emily Longhurst gave me a recipe several weeks ago for Shrimp Scampi that brought a lot of good feedback, Well, Emily has a husband who doesn’t like shrimp, so she came up with a delicious chicken pasta dish just for Glen. Here is Emily’s Chicken Florentine With Pesto Penne Sauce.

Emily’s Chicken
Florentine With Pesto Penne Sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 jar Alfredo sauce or 1 (4.5 ounce) pkg. dry Alfredo sauce mix
2 Tablespoon pesto
1 (8 oz.) pkg. dry penne pasta
1 Tablespoon Romano or Parmesan cheese

Place oil in large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Add garlic, sauté for about 1 minute, then add chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Add spinach and sauté for about 4 minutes.

Prepare Alfredo sauce according to package directions. Stir in pesto, and set aside. Boil pasta for 8 to 10 minutes in lightly salted water. Rinse under cool water, and drain. Add chicken/spinach mixture to pasta. Stir in Alfredo/Pesto sauce. Mix
well. Top with your choice of Romano or Parmesan cheese and serve.

Let’s end with something sweet. One of the most requested recipes I get and one of the most popular ones folks keep bringing up to me is Granny Moore’s Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing. While Granny Moore’s cake is the favorite in our family, there’s nothing wrong with being a first runner-up. This Chocolate Candy Cake is the definite runner up in our family, and, when the fudge frosting flows down the side of this delicious cake, it gets quite a few first place votes itself.

Chocolate Candy Cake

2 cups plain flour (all-purpose)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine flour, sugar and soda. Mix well and set aside. Combine water, butter and cocoa in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Take off heat, beat well, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans or a 13 x 9 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool before frosting.

Chocolate Candy Cake Frosting

1 stick butter or margarine
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine butter, milk and cocoa in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When it starts to boil, add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Remove for heat and stir until it starts to lose its gloss. Spoon about 1/2 of the icing on first cake layer, lay second cake layer on top of first and drizzle the remaining icing on top. You won’t have to spread it as it will thicken on its own.

This cake is one of those that is actually better after a day or two.

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