Recipes

Grandma’s Rum Cake

I’ll never forget the day I stopped by grandmother’s house to ask her to share the family recipes. I pulled up a chair at her kitchen counter, pen in hand and she asked “Where do you want to start?”

I remember being a little girl having family picnics at the lake down the street from her house and for dessert she always would make her famous rum cake. My cousins and I would always feel so grown up because we were eating rum cake. LOL

So I asked for her rum cake recipe. She laughed, opened her recipe box and handed me a recipe card. It was the Bacardi Rum Cake recipe card. “It’s that easy”, she laughed. We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and writing down her recipes. 

This recipe makes the moistest cake you’ll ever eat. And it’s been popular since the 1970s, it’s soft, fluffy and super moist, bursting with rum and yellow cake flavor. Not to mention it’s easy to prepare, and perfect for any occasion.

You can use any rum. I use my favorite rum, 82°West 1911 Special Dark Rum. 82 West Distilling is a craft rum distillery in Tampa, right in Seminole Heights! 

It all starts with a cup of pecans sprinkled over the bottom of a bundt pan. Then you mix a package of yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and half a cup of rum until smooth. I did make one adjustment and added a tablespoon of Vanilla and mixed until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for one hour.

Once the cake is done, you prepare a simple butter-rum glaze made of butter, sugar, water and rum. Spoon the sauce all over the warm cake. Let it sit to soak in all the delicious butter-rum glaze and serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (You just use the cake mix as is, do not add other ingredients listed on the cake box.)
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix (92 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup cold water
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 

GLAZE INGREDIENTS

  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum or rum

CAKE DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of a greased bundt pan.

Stir together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vanilla, water, oil and rum.

Pour batter over nuts.

Bake at 325 in the oven for 1 hour.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Transfer onto a serving plate and poke top with a toothpick.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a saucepan.

Stir in water and sugar.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in rum.

Drizzle ½ of the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

Allow cake to absorb glaze.

Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of each slice right before serving.

Recipes

Family Pizza Night

Did someone say Pizza? Brian and I love making homemade pizza with the girls! 

Now of course, you can just go to the grocery store and buy the pre-made pizza dough but what’s the fun in that! While we practice the Stay at Home Order, get in the kitchen and make your own pizza dough. It’s super fun especially to do with loved ones! 

I have two recipes listed below; one for your regular pizza dough and one for deep dish pizza dough. They both are delicious!

Basic But Delicious Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for bowl to rest dough
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups All purpose flour, plus more to roll dough

Mix 1 cup warm water with the package active dry yeast and let the yeast bloom and foam, 5 minutes. Add EVOO, honey and salt and whisk together. 

Whisk together the 3 cups of flour and salt. 

If you have a food processor, slowly pour the honey mixture, to the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together in a sticky ball, about 20 to 30 seconds. No food processor, no worries, you can use a rubber spatula! 

Place the dough onto a floured work surface and knead, using the heel of your hand, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. This can totally count as your arm workout for the day!

Using a paper towel, pour a small amount of EVOO into a large bowl and coat the bottom and sides. Add the dough, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough stand until it is doubled in size, about ten minutes to one hour. The longer you allow it to stand and rise, the more flavor you will have.  I totally just sounded like Yoda! LOL! Okay back to the recipe. 

After ten minutes, plop the dough onto a floured cutting board. Punch the dough, literally, punch down on it and then puff it back up. 

We like to make several different types of pizzas so we usually make 3- to 4-inch mini pizzas. If you want just one big pizza, skip this next step. 

To make 3- to 4-inch mini pizzas, cut each dough ball into 4 piece wedges, then press or stretch into shape into a ball.

Want one big pizza? Press the dough out on the work surface into a 9 to 12 inch round, a long rectangle or an oval. Now if you used to work at a pizza place like Brian, you can get fancy and toss the dough up in the air. Or you can be like me and start at the center and work outwards, using your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick.

Here’s a little tip: let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter. 

Use your fingertips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Let rest another 10-15 minutes.

Looking for Deep Dish?

Brian is from Chicgao and he absolutely loves Malnatis! So one night, we tried to recreate their famous pizza. I’m not saying we nailed it but we came pretty close! If you are looking for a Deep Dish Chicago style pizza, here you go!

Ingredients

  • 3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups slightly warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided (1/4 cup melted, 1/4 cup softened to room temperature)
  • olive oil for coating

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use your hand mixer and a very, very large bowl. If you do not have any mixer, you can do this all by hand. 

Make sure you are using a LARGE bowl! The first time, we made this pizza dough, flour flew everywhere, which the girls and I turned into a flour food fight! I’m pretty sure Brian is still finding flour in places in his kitchen that flour should not be. 

Give those ingredients a quick toss with your mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon. 

Into the flour mixture, slowly pour the warm water and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Make sure it is not very hot or it will kill the yeast. Likewise, make sure the butter isn’t boiling hot. If you melt it in the microwave, let it sit for a few minutes before adding into the bowl. On low speed, beat (or stir) the dough ingredients until everything begins to be moistened. Continue on low speed (or remove from the bowl and knead by hand if you do not own a mixer), beat the dough until it is soft and gently pull away from the sides of the bowl and falls off of the dough hook- about 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too hard (it will be textured from the cornmeal), but if it feels too tough, beat in a teaspoon of warm water. Alternatively, if it feels too soft, beat in a tablespoon of flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it around so that all sides of the dough are coated.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours or until double in size.

While we wait for the basic or deep dish dough to rise, we usually make the sauce but I’ll tell you more about the sauce soon, below.

After an hour, remove the dough and place it onto a floured surface. Roll it out into a 12-inch circle. You want to stretch it out as much as you can to make a large circle. The dough needs to be stretched out enough to cover the bottom and sides of the baking pan. Remember we are making a deep dish dough! 

Using a rolling pin as a guide, place over a 9×2-inch (23×5 cm) deep dish cake pan or cast-iron skillet. We use our cast iron. We love cast iron, check out my blog in the Tips & Tricks section and you’ll understand. : )

Using your fingers, press the dough into the skillet or pan. Make sure it is nice and tight fitting inside the pan. Trim any excess dough off the edges with a small knife. Brush the top edges of the dough with a little olive oil. 

Now for the sauce!

The sauce is just as important as the dough! Yes, you can buy the jar stuff but come on! Why not go all the way! I’m going to share with you my Sicilian Pizza sauce and then I’ll share with you the best replica Malnati’s sauce. 

Sicilian Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic, chopped
  • 3 14 oz cans Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp Italian herb
  • 1 bay leaf

Best Replica Malnati’s Sauce Ingredients. 

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)*
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes*
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Sicilian Sauce Directions

Melt the butter and the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.

When all the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic, salt well, and saute over medium heat for about 7 – 8 minutes, until the onion rings begin to lose their shape and soften.

Add the canned tomatoes (with their juices) and bring to a simmer.

When simmering, reduce the heat and maintain a slow simmer for about two hours, stirring frequently.

Add the sugar, tomato paste and Italian herbs (if using dried herbs add now, if using fresh, add about 10 minutes before blending), stir and continue to simmer for about another hour.

Best Replica Malnati’s Sauce Directions

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt. Once melted, add the grated onion, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Once the onion has slightly browned after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, tomatoes, and sugar. Turn the heat down to low-medium and allow it to simmer until it’s hearty, fragrant, and thick- about 30 minutes. You’ll have about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce at this point. If you have more than that, keep simmering until the amount has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to be used. 

Now for the Pizza toppings, get creative! Brian and I have tried several combinations, I listed our favorites but honestly anything goes! 

Malnati’s Toppings

  • ½-1 cup of Malnati’s sauce, or more depending on how thick you like your sauce 
  • 2  cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Crumbled Italian sausage (about ½ lb)
  • Thinly Sliced Pepperoni 

Margherita Toppings

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese
  • A few fresh basil leaves

Veggie Toppings 

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Prosciutto Pizza

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • A few big handfuls of arugula

Lemon Arugula- no red sauce for this one.

  • EVOO, for drizzling
  • 6 ounces grated fontina cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4-6 Prosciutto slices 
  • 2 tablespoons white truffle oil
  • 2 1/2 packed cups baby arugula
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon zest, for garnishing

Recipes

Dutch Oven Bread

Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking? 

Even if you’ve never made homemade bread before, this homemade crusty bread is for you. It’s the perfect beginner recipe because it only requires 4 ingredients, there’s no kneading, and 95% of the work is hands-off. This recipe delivers delicious flavor, and a slightly crisp crust.  Not to mention the loaf is as big as your head… Brian and I had some fun taking pictures of how big it turned out. LOL

You can also add herbs and seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, dill, chopped onion, jalapeño, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, etc. Get CREATIVE!

So let’s get right to it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water 105 degrees F

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

Optional: If you are using herbs and seasonings add them to the bowl and combine with flour mixture

Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Let dough sit covered at room temperature for 18-24 hours.

After 18-24 hours (or at least 1 hour before you want to serve) preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a 5 quart dutch oven (or a baking dish) with a lid in the oven while it is preheating. 

While the oven is preheating, transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface.

Form the dough into a ball, adding a few tablespoons more flour if needed. The dough should still be slightly loose. Then cover it with a floured towel while the oven is preheating.

Carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Remove the lid and spray the dish with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

Gently put the dough ball into the baking dish so it’s evenly distributed.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown.

Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and let it cool on a rack before slicing.