Author Archives for geekycooker

About geekycooker

Hi, I'm geekycooker but also known as Bev Davis. I have long been Interested in cooking. I started cooking as a teenager and really haven't stopped since. I'm originally from the South but with many stops along the way now live in Michigan. I am a history major and still have a love for history, so you may find bits of historical information about food in my posts. And remember to always cook with love. Thanks for taking a look at my blog.

Feud Cake

If you have ever visited Panama City Beach, Florida, chances are that you have eaten at one of America’s  most famous restaurants.  That would be Captain Anderson’s.  The restaurant is known for fresh seafood from the nearby Gulf of Mexico.  In fact, you can go early and watch some of the fishing boats returning from a day of fishing.

As well as seafood, Captain Anderson’s is also known for a cake called Feud Cake.  However, the Feud Cake was first served at a restaurant in downtown Panama City called the Seven Seas Restaurant.  That restaurant was open from 1953 to 1967 and was owned and operated by the Patronis brothers, who later opened Captain Anderson’s.

Anytime I have been fortunate to eat at Captain Anderson’s, I always had the Feud Cake for dessert.  It is a cake made with finely chopped pecans and topped with lots of  whipped cream.  The nutty flavor of the finely chopped pecans compliments the slightly sweetened whipped cream.

For the cake in this post, I used a recipe from The Panama City Junior Service League cookbook, Bay Leaves, originally published in 1975.  It is primarily a collection of favorite recipes.  The Feud Cake recipe was contributed by the Seven Seas Restaurant.  My copy of Bay Leaves was gifted to me by a beloved family member.  Bay Leaves cookbook is available from several sources online.

According to the cookbook, the name of the cake is derived from a legend that two families claimed ownership of the recipe.  Their argument turned into a feud, with the families forgotten but not the cake.

I used a small amount of cream cheese in the whipped cream as a means to stabilize it.

Feud Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Feud Cake

16 ounces pecan halves

8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

Use a food processor to finely chop the pecans and set aside.  You should have about 5 cups of finely chopped pecans.

Beat eggs at a high speed for 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat to combine.  Gradually add sugar.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture.  Beat another 5 minutes.  Add the pecans at low speed to moisten well and beat for about 1 minute.  Pour the mixture into 3 greased and parchment lined 8 or 9-inch cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes come out clean.    Cool in pans 10 minutes.  Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake to help loosen from the pans.   Remove from pans to wire racks, discard the parchment paper and cool completely.  Frost layers and sides of the cake with the whipped cream.  Garnish the top of the cake with pecans halves, if desired.

Feud Cake Topping

1 tablespoon softened cream cheese (optional)
4 cups  heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

With the wire whip of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low adding a little of the whipping cream at a time.  When all the cream is incorporated, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat on high until stiff peaks are formed.    

Notes:

This post is dedicated to the people in the Florida Panhandle that recently underwent the destruction of Hurricane Michael.  A virtual hug, if you will.

On October 10, Hurricane Micahel roared ashore as a Category 4, with winds as high as 155 miles per hour.  Panama City and towns east of it, to include the military installation, Tyndall Air Force Base suffered great devastation.

I am a native Floridian and proud to call Panama City my hometown.   My heart broke watching and reading about the devastation caused by the hurricane.  Hopefully, recovery will be faster than anticipated.

Apple Butter

Have you been apple picking and perhaps have lots of apples on hand?  I have a lot of apples on hand but I’m too lazy to pick them.  It is just too easy to buy them from farm stands and the farmers market.  Pictured below are local Honeycrisp and Cortland apples I used for this recipe.

I still have plans to use some of the Honeycrisp apples in an apple pie but in the meantime I made some homemade apple butter.  I didn’t realize how easy it is to make.

A lot of the recipes use a slow cooker but for this recipe I used the stove top method.

Apple butter does not contain any butter.  It is basically concentrated apple sauce flavored with spices such as cinnamon and ground cloves.  Chunks of the apples are cooked with the spices and usually apple cider.  Once the apples are tender, they are pureed and cooked again until the apples are dark brown and caramelized.

A benefit of making apple butter is that your house will smell amazing.  There will be no need for one of those expensive candles.

I made two separate batches for this post.  The first batch I used Honeycrisp apples and for the second batch I used the Cortland variety.  I think I prefer the Honeycrisp apple although a lot of recipes recommend using a softer variety such as the Cortland.

Apple butter tastes great on hot biscuits, toast,  and English muffins.

Apple Butter

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 pounds of apples (washed and dried off)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup apple cider

Peel, core, and chop the apples.  Coat apples with lemon juice as you are cutting them and place in a large Dutch oven.  Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt.  Sprinkle over the apples.  Toss to coat well.  Stir in the apple cider.

Cook over medium heat uncovered, until apples are tender, about 30-45 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree the apples.  (Or carefully transfer the mixture to a blender or food processer and puree, then pour back into the same Dutch oven.) Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30-45 minutes.  Apple butter is done when it is thick and jam like in consistency.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Makes about 3 cups of apple butter.  

Note:
Apple butter freezes well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grilled Cheeseburgers

Autumn may be officially here but that doesn’t mean we can’t still grill outside.  There will be a lot of nice days before the snow starts to fly.  Hopefully, that is.  Actually, I grill year round.  Below is a picture from four years ago.  We got a lot of snow that year so it took a little bit of effort to get to the grill.  However, I do prefer to grill when it is much nicer weather.

 

One of my favorite foods to grill is the hamburger.  I think a lot of us love a juicy, smoky, grilled burger with melting cheese on it.

I use a natural gas grill for all of my grilling.  I started out using a charcoal grill which is probably my favorite way of grilling.  But gas grills offer a lot of convenience in the cooking and the cleanup.

This burger has some of the usual favorites such as lettuce, tomato, and cheese.  It also includes a great sauce.  The burger sauce is really quick to whip together and includes ingredients probably right in your fridge.

I used baby gem lettuce and an heirloom golden-orange tomato on a toasted brioche bun for the burgers.   However, your favorite lettuce, tomato, and buns may be used.

The heirloom tomato I used is a Golden Jubilee and, according to Burpee Seed Company, has been around since 1943.  During the summer, a gardening friend gave me some of these lovely tomatoes.  They are the very best tomato and slice up beautifully.  These tomatoes have a mild delectable flavor and are low in acidity.  I was also able to find these tomatoes at my local farmers market. They are now my favorite tomato for sandwiches.

 

Usually Cheddar cheese is the cheese of choice for burgers.  But for this post, I used Muenster cheese.  It is pale in color with an orange rind.  Muenster cheese has a mild flavor similar to American cheese and melts wonderfully.

If you want to grill up the perfect burger, there are a few things to remember:

Use 80/20 ground chuck, an 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat ratio.

Salt the burgers just before grilling.  Salt will extract moisture from the meat, leaving it dry.

Make a thumbprint in the middle of the patty.  This will keep the burger from puffing up while cooking.

Flip the burgers just once and don’t flatten them with a spatula.

Grilled Cheeseburgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cheeseburgers

1 pound ground chuck
salt
4 slices Muenster cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted
gem lettuce
sliced tomatoes
cooked bacon slices (optional)

Hamburger Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 tsp Dijon mustard

For the Hamburger Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients.  Serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to 1 week.

For the Cheeseburger

Prepare the gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400°F)).  Brush the cooking grates clean.

Divide the meat into four equal portions.  Gently form each portion into a 3/4 inch burger.

Lightly season the hamburger patties on both sides with salt.  Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat with the lid closed for about 4 minutes on the first side.  Flip over the burgers and continue grilling for approximately 3 minutes.  Add a slice of cheese to each burger and continue grilling until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the grill and set aside while preparing the buns.

Spread the hamburger sauce on both sides of the toasted buns.  Build a burger on each bun with the gem lettuce, tomato slice, burger, bacon (if using) and then the top bun.  Serve immediately.  

 

 

 

 

Notes:
The USDA recommends cooking ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F for safety reasons.

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

Here it is September.  Fall is not officially here yet but it will be later this month.  I don’t mind fall at all.  It is probably my favorite season.  September is also a good month because it is my beautiful daughter’s birthday on the 15th.  Happy Birthday Sam.

Aster is the flower of the month for September.  I don’t have any asters in my flower garden but I do have a lot of hydrangeas.  Hydrangeas are her favorite flower.  Here is a bouquet she picked from my flower garden.

Sam discovered this dessert in one of my old Taste of Home magazines and has made it several times now.   Possibly it is her favorite dessert.  I’m not sure.  Her favorite dessert for a long time was Amish Apple Pie.  That was then replaced with Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, which I always make for the holidays and her birthday.  Both of the recipes can be found on my blog.

I thought I would give this recipe a try to see if it is as delicious as she claimed.  Now, this dessert does have cool whip as an ingredient.  I’m not too fond of cool whip but I don’t mind using it on occasion.

I can confirm that this is a delicious dessert and also easy to make.  Even if you are not fond of cool whip, you are going to love the rich and smooth flavor of this dessert that includes both chocolate and peanut butter.  There is a layer of oreo cookie crumbs for the crust, a creamy peanut butter layer and then a layer that includes chocolate pudding and more whipped topping.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies  (such as Oreos), divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed, divided
15 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 package (3.9 ounces size) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix

In a food processor crush 16 of the oreo cookies.  (Reserve 4 cookies for topping.)  Combine with the melted butter.  Press into an ungreased 8 or 9-inch square dish; set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Blend in half of the whipped topping.  Spread over the cookie crust.  Sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups.

In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix, and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Blend in remaining whipped topping.  Spread over the peanut butter cups.

Roughly chop the remaining Oreo cookies and sprinkle over the top.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  

Notes:
1. A plastic Ziplock bag and rolling pin can also be used to crush the cookies.
2. This is a  dessert that doesn’t require any baking and is great for potlucks.

A daughter is a gift of love.”  Author unknown.

 

 

Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Tart

I have been fortunate to have been gifted with zucchini and tomatoes this summer.  But it seems like that is never enough fresh veggies.  I still visit my local Farmers Market for more delicious fruits and produce found there.

We all know summer will be over sooner rather than later.  I do love the butterflies that find the flowers in my yard.  Here is a butterfly still enjoying the purple cone flowers in my back yard.

The last time I went to my local Farmers Market, it had the most beautiful selections of produce and fruit.  It was really busy and I couldn’t take any pictures.  So, I am sharing a gorgeous picture that Fulton Street Farmers Market posted on their Facebook page.  I don’t think they will mind.

Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables and I like to cook it different ways.  One of my favorite recipes is the classic Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie that won the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1980.  This recipe sort of reminds me of that classic.  Instead of using crescent dough, this tart is light and crispy from using puff pastry.  It has the creaminess from the mozzarella and feta cheeses.  This tart is great as an appetizer or as a side dish.

Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed if frozen

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese   (4 ounces)
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 in rounds (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Press the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 by 9  inch loose bottom round tart pan.  Cut off any excess dough from the sides of the pan.  Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing.

Layer the mozzarella cheese, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, sliced onions, and chopped sun dried tomatoes over the puff pastry in the pan.  Arrange the zucchini in concentric circles on top of the cheese mixture.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, heavy cream, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper with a fork or whisk.  There should be about a cup full.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until custard is set and lightly brown.  Let the tart cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:
A 9 inch deep dish pie crust can be used instead of the puff pastry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

Next to strawberries, fresh tomatoes are my favorite produce of the summer’s bounty.  From a simple tomato sandwich on very soft white bread to a fabulous tart on puff pastry, you have a lot of delicious food options for the humble tomato.  To me, tomato soup is a perfect comfort food and made even better with the addition of a grilled cheese sandwich.

I hope you have been enjoying all of the good summer produce.  I have visited the Farmers Market several times and been gifted with produce from friends with home gardens.  Here are some lovely tomatoes and zucchini a friend gave to me today.

I make tomato soup quite often.  If I make it when fresh tomatoes are not available, I use a good canned tomato product.  I have already posted a favorite recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup using fresh tomatoes.

However, I noticed that a lot of food bloggers and cookbook authors were roasting the tomatoes prior to making the soup.  I wanted to give that a try.  I can confirm that roasting the tomatoes does intensify the flavor and sweetness of them.

Here are the tomatoes I used for this recipe.  They were a larger size but perfectly fine for this recipe.

Recipe inspired by Roasted Tomato Soup from Tyler Florence.

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
basil for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and dry the tomatoes.  If desired, peel them.  Cut the tomatoes in half or in quarters (depending on size).  Place the tomatoes and onions on a large baking tray.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tomatoes soften and start to caramelize.

Remove the roasted tomatoes and onion from the oven and transfer to a large dutch oven or pot.  Add the chicken or vegetable broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until soup thickens slightly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until desired smoothness.  Add the butter and heavy cream.  Serve warm, garnished with basil leaves.

 

 

 

 

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Jiffy Corn Casserole

I only discovered this recipe for Jiffy Corn Casserole about 5 years ago.  A friend gave me the recipe, and I have been making it since then for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners.  It may be my favorite comfort food now.

There are several different versions of the recipe.  Some recipes do not have eggs or the cheese in them.  I think that this version that includes both eggs and cheese is perfect.

The recipe uses a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix which can be used to make muffins as well as other recipes such as the corn casserole in this post.  The muffin mix is widely available in most USA grocery stores and also from Walmart.

I didn’t know this till researching this post but Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is made by a Michigan Company.  The Jiffy Mix brand is a product of the Chelsea Milling Company located in Chelsea, Michigan.  The mill was established in 1901.  The Jiffy Mix product was first marketed in 1930.  Some of the other products made by Jiffy Mix include muffin, cake, fudge and pie crust mixes.

The Chelsea Milling Company is about a two hour drive from Grand Rapids by way of I96 East.  They do offer tours of the Jiffy Mix plant.  I need to remember that this summer for a day trip.  It should be an interesting tour.

This Jiffy Corn Casserole is delicious, easy, and makes a perfect side dish for your holiday dinner.

Jiffy Corn Casserole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 – 14.75 ounce can cream style corn
1 – 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 – 8.5 ounce package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease or spray with non-stick spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream style corn, whole kernel corn, eggs, sour cream, muffin mix, melted butter, and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Pour into the prepared casserole dish.  Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50  minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.  Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes longer or until the center is firm.

Notes:
1.  The recipe is titled Spoon Bread Casserole on Jiffy’s website.  It doesn’t include cheese and uses smaller cans of corn.
2.  This is a very easy recipe as you simply combine the ingredients and bake.

 

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