St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Glad to report that I made it to Austin this weekend and got to see my pregnant sister and feel lil Kim kick, punch and hiccup a few times.  Babies are amazing.  I don’t think there will come a time in my life that I am not completely and totally in awe of a pregnant woman.  That little kid has fingers, toes, and eyelashes!  Incredible.  I cannot wait to see my little niece in just a few months…

I also got to see my nephew, my parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and many relatives and family friends at my Grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration on Sunday.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with those people.  I am so blessed to have such incredible family and friends!

Back in Amarillo tonight and remembered that I had some of this cake leftover in the fridge.  The piece I ate today wasn’t as good as it was 5 days ago, but it was still tasty.  It was crazy gooey and delicious freshly made!

In my search for the origin of gooey butter cake, I discovered that the cake’s roots are in St. Louis.  I know next to nothing about St. Louis.  I do know that this is the home of the well known Gateway arch, which is the tallest man-made monument in our country standing at 630 feet at its highest point.  It is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and it located near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  I had no idea there was so much historical significance to the arch!  Maybe I will plan a vacation to see some historical sights in the USA someday.  Someday…


Baked Rice Custard

Rice pudding is such a comfort food for me.  It is always so wonderfully creamy, rich and just slightly sweet.  Rice pudding is perfection in a bowl…or on a plate I guess if you like it that way.

Rice pudding has an incredible number of variations.  It is eaten in many different parts of the world.  Each type of rice pudding uses slightly different ingredients and flavors, but most come together in the same way and have similar textures.  In Sweden, rice pudding (Risgrynsgröt) is eaten at Christmas.  Coincidentally, Christmas is when my family eats rice pudding…we just can’t shake those Swedish traditions!

I’ve made rice pudding using the recipe given to me by my mom.  It is delicious.  We have always, and will always, eat this delicious dish cold sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, which is also traditionally Swedish.

I did not know until later in life that there were many ways to eat rice pudding.  You can eat it warm or cold.  You can eat is plain, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, served with fruits or fruit sauce, with or without raisins and nuts, or if you live in Iceland you might top off your pudding with blood sausage.  I will stick to cinnamon sugar.

Most rice puddings include these basic ingredients which are used as a springboard for all types of puddings:

  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Sugar (or some sweetener)
  • Flavoring (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

What about eggs, you ask?  My family has never used eggs.  I never even really considered the use of eggs in rice pudding, until I came across a rice custard recipe.  Being one who enjoys trying new things, I decided to make this Scandinavian baked rice custard this past weekend.  Could it live up to real rice pudding?  Or would it surpass all my expectations and be…God forbid…better than “real” rice pudding?

This rice custard was definitely different than rice pudding but definitely delicious.  I liked the texture that the eggs provided.  It kept its shape when served, unlike my mom’s rice pudding which had a tendency to spread a little.  The flavor was incredible.  The combination of the vanilla and almond extracts is wonderful.  I would recommend adding in about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

I served this with a cranberry sauce that I put together with pantry items.  Lingonberry jam, if you can find it, would be good as well.  Or you can eat is plain, which is wonderful.  I tried it warm after a little cooling time, and the next day after it had been sitting in the fridge.  Either way is yummy.

The question is, was this custard better than the pudding?  No.  They are both very good and I will make them both in the future, but there are just too many great memories attached to eating my family’s version of rice pudding.  Try both and let me know your opinion, though.  I am biased.

Scandinavian Rice Custard

Courtesy of Group Recipes

  • ½ cup medium grain white rice
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • dash of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten just slightly
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • dash of cinnamon, if desired
  1. Add rice to boiling water; boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain rice in a colander; rinse and drain well.
  3. Put rice into a well buttered baking dish; stir in the butter and salt.
  4. Mix the beaten eggs with the sugar and salt.
  5. Stir egg mixture into the milk.
  6. Add the extracts and cinnamon ;pour over the rice.
  7. Set rice dish in a larger pan that is half filled with hot water (be sure to use HOT water).
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes (center of pudding should still be jiggle-y in the middle, but rice must be done).
  9. Stir rice every 10 minutes the first 30 minutes of baking.

Photo courtesy of

Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut, Walnuts & Chocolate Chips

Bethenny Frankel was on the Today Show yesterday talking about her cookbook, The Skinny Girl Dish, and I was inspired to search for a healthy dessert recipe to try out.  I found a recipe for banana oatmeal cookies that sounded very tasty.  To my dismay, I did not have all the ingredients.  So I searched a bit more, and saw some other tasty sounding banana cookie recipes, but none were exactly what I wanted, so I made my own.

These are definitely not the original healthy banana oat cookie that inspired me, but they are yummy and at least a bit healthy thanks to the bananas, oats and protein packed walnuts!

I love the coconut and the dark chocolate chips.  You could easily omit the coconut if you’re not a fan, or substitute the walnuts for pecans, or go nut free if you must.  Milk chocolate chips would be good, and peanut butter chips would also be terrific.

My only complaint with these cookies is that the banana makes them very moist and they become soft when stored in an airtight container, and they will stick together.  Make sure to cook them so that there isn’t a gooey center, and don’t store them on top of each other.  Another way to avoid stickiness is to eat them all, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have some help.  Here is the original healthy recipe, and here is my version.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut, Walnuts & Chocolate Chips

  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, smooshed up good
  • 2 cups oats
  • ¾ cup coconut
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips, dark or milk
  1. Cream together butter, shortening and sugars.  Add in egg and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Stir in bananas, then stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  3. Mix in oats, coconut, walnuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and baker for 10-11 minutes until browned lightly on top.

Mamma’s Rice Pudding

Some foods will always remind me of my childhood and of family.  Among these are my Grandma June’s pecan pie, my mom’s chicken velvet soup, dutch babies, bar-b-cups, spritz cookies, Swedish rye bread at Sundbeck Christmas, Swedish pancakes, and the Rystrom family’s rice pudding.  Of course there are plenty more now that I begin brainstorming, but I’ll focus on this one today.

ricepudding7I asked my mom where this recipe originated but she doesn’t really know.  Her mom made it when she was young, and I plan to make it for my kids…whenever they choose arrive.

My mom grew up in Richvale, California.  Her dad, better known as Gramps, is a rice grower in Northern California, and so they ate a lot of rice growing up.  My mom met my dad in college and he brought her to the great state of Texas.  Thanks to my sweet Californian mother, I don’t have too much of a Texas accent, and I ate of lot of perfectly cooked rice as a kid.


Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.


This challenge really snuck up on me.  I guess I could blame it on the fact that last week was my first week of school, but really I am just a little forgetful sometimes and I have a bad habit of putting things off.  This week was really too busy to make this cake, so I had to wait until yesterday.  I have never baked and assembled a cake this involved so quickly!  It still took me a while, about 3 hours start to finish.  This is an accomplishment, in my opinion, especially when you consider the 6 sponge cake layers, chocolate buttercream, the caramel coated triangle cake pieces and assembly.


Buttermilk Cakes

I made SmittenKitchen’s raspberry buttermilk cake a few weeks ago.  The cake was so lovely that I decided to try it with some different additions.  Since I had blueberries, half a bag of raw blanched almonds and a tube of almond paste already on hand…that’s what I used.  The other ingredients in the cake are readily accessible in a bakers kitchen; 1 egg, 1/2 stick butter, sugar, flour, buttermilk (You can make your own!) baking soda, powder, salt and sugar.  Easy.

blueberry2Buttermilk Cake #1

The first cake I made was a blueberry almond cake and it was, in my opinion, incredibly delicious.  Tart and juicy blueberries in a sweet, tender and moist cake with crunchy almond paste crumbs on top.  The blueberries sank into the batter as it baked, but the almond paste stayed on top so it was able to get a little brown and crunchy.  I sprinkled regular granulated sugar on top as well.  I did not use lemon zest in the cake.  I thought it might not combine well with the almond, but it would probably be great.

I get so worried about overcomplicating a dish that I tend toward simple flavors and fairly normal ingredients.  If you want something crazy, make this.  It grosses me out a bit, but my 7th grade Texas History teacher, Mr. Dennis, made this for us as a Christmas treat when I was in his class, and it was good…so maybe Velveeta cheese is better for more than Cheater Queso?  If you’d like to make a bit more work of your queso…try this. After reading this post and drooling on my keyboard, I might have to try it as well.

Back to buttermilk…the possibilities are endless with this cake.  This recipe is definitely one I will be experimenting with.  It lends itself to fruit additions perfectly, but I would be willing to try chocolate pieces and various nuts as well.  Pecans and walnuts would be tasty.

Buttermilk Cake #2

I absolutely love almond, so next I tried a cake with chopped almonds in the batter and a sprinkle of the almond paste on top as I did this last time.  I used 1/3 white and 1/3 brown sugar in this cake, 2 ounces of chopped toasted almonds in the batter and about 2 ounces of crumbled almond paste on top.