pecans

Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Smoky Cheese Ball

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been told I make a pretty good cheese ball. Oh yeah, life of the party – right here. It’s honestly one of the easiest things to do. It’s so much better than store bought and worth the effort. The goal is to taste like cheese and be able to spread on a cracker. Because it’s so simple, using quality ingredients is mandatory; punishable by… a tasteless disaster! (Possibly.) Over the years I’ve made quite a few variations, and this one is a crowd pleaser every time.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened

12 oz Cream Cheese (1 1/2 bars), softened

1 1/2 tsp granulated Garlic

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp Milk

8 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded (can substitute with smoked cheddar)

3/4 cup Pecans

On the day I know I’m going to make a cheese ball, I get out my butter and cream cheese in the morning with my coffee. That way when I feel like getting to it, it’s ready to go. That’s like the extent of the difficulty. When you’re ready to get started I throw everything (except the pecans) in a stand up mixer. Although if you don’t have one, no worries; once everything is soft, it would be easy to mix by hand. Beat until creamy, scraping down the sides.

Now here is the trick for a perfect ball: Line a bowl with two sheets of cling wrap, in a cross pattern, pressing down with extra over the sides. Using a spatula, scoop the cheese into the center of the lined bowl. When all of the cheese is in, wrap the cheese with the plastic until covered and form a ball, pressing the cheese together lightly to rid of cracks and air pockets. Place back into the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (You can easily make this a day ahead.)

Before serving (or transporting to a Partay) toast the pecans. I like using the toaster oven for small batches like this, but stove top and conventional oven will work too. Heat in a dry skillet over medium heat (watching and tossing) or at about 350º for 6-7 minutes, just until you start catching the aroma of the nut. I don’t like the nuts over toasted for this. Then chop the nuts into small pieces. Remove the ball from the plastic wrap and roll around in the nuts. pressing nuts onto every open space. Don’t worry if the wrap left not-so-pretty lines, they will be covered with beautiful nut pieces! Place on a serving tray with assortment of crackers and spreading knife. Get ready to live.

Smoky Cheese Ball

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened
  • 12 oz Cream Cheese (1 1/2 bars), softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Milk
  • 8 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded (can substitute with smoked cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup Pecans

Instructions

  1. Let butter and cream cheese soften.
  2. Throw everything (except the pecans) in a stand up mixer. If you don't have one, no worries; once everything is soft, it would be easy to mix by hand.
  3. Beat until creamy, scraping down the sides.
  4. Line a bowl with two sheets of cling wrap, in a cross pattern, pressing down with extra over the sides.
  5. Using a spatula, scoop the cheese into the center of the lined bowl.
  6. When all of the cheese is in, wrap the cheese with the plastic until covered and form a ball, pressing the cheese together lightly to rid of cracks and air pockets.
  7. Place back into the bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (You can easily make this a day ahead.)
  8. Before serving toast the pecans. Heat in a dry skillet over medium heat (watching and tossing) or at about 350º for 6-7 minutes, just until you start catching the aroma of the nut.
  9. Remove the ball from the plastic wrap and roll around in the nuts. pressing nuts onto every open space. Don't worry if the wrap left not-so-pretty lines, they will be covered with beautiful nut pieces!
  10. Place on a serving tray with assortment of crackers and spreading knife.
http://sadiesnest.com/smoky-cheese-ball/