Texas Country Cooking

Texas Country Cooking

Monday, January 13, 2014

Comfort Food

Each of us has some food in our past that is special - maybe a meal your mother made or something special a grandmother made.  One of mine is that my Pa-Paw kept elephant peanuts (those orange candies) in the bottom drawer in their kitchen almost every time we came for a visit.  I don't buy them but I think about him when I see the packages at the store.

Another favorite is the recipe I am sharing today.  It is one that I always prepare when I am in need of comfort.  Also - one of my brothers is a truck driver and used to make runs that would bring him by our home.  I would always fix something special for supper for him and tried to make this cake for him.  I would always send a big piece of it with him so he would have some later.  My husband actually likes to eat it in a glass with milk poured over it.  I hope you enjoy it as well.  Just as a warning - it is very rich, but oh so moist!

Wesson Oil Cake

2 cups flour                                                          1 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar                                                         1 cup Wesson Oil
2 tsp soda                                                            2 eggs
½ tsp salt                                                             1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 X 13 pan by spraying with Joy or grease and flour the pan.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Add 1 cup very hot water.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched.

Begin preparing the icing about 5 minutes before the cake is done.

1 stick butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet (cast iron is the best).  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  I use a whisk at the beginning to be sure all the lumps are out and everything is combined well, then switch to a spoon.  Continue cooking until thick.  Pour over warm cake.

** Because I am an airhead - completely forgot to get a picture of the cake after the pouring the icing over it.  Of course - we had a slight mishap as we were pouring the icing over the cake.  The cast iron skillet is a large one as I doubled the cake and icing recipe.  My husband was helping pour when the pan slipped out of his hands and gouged a piece out of the cake and icing went flying (I really think it might have been a freudian slip as he really wanted a piece of the cake and it was going to a dinner at the church!).  Fortunately, since the icing is just a little thicker than a glaze - it just sort of filled in where the pan fell and no one could tell.  

Anyway - this is truly one of those comfort foods for me!  I adore Wesson Oil Cake and the icing is unlike any I have ever had anywhere else.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014


We were very fortunate to have our son home for a couple of weeks during the Christmas break.  One evening he asked if I had ever tried to make the soft pretzels like you get at the mall (Think Auntie Annies!).  I have actually looked at recipes but they really looked hard and I knew I would never, EVER get those pretzel shapes correct!  However - he found a recipe where for Pretzel Bites.  I looked at it, thought it should be pretty easy so we went for it.

Here is the recipe with a couple of sauce recipes at the end as well.  Enjoy!

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 ounces butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
Vegetable Oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. Coarse Sea Salt

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in a large bowl.  Mix well until combined.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour; mix well until all is combined.  Continue mixing until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.  If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time.  Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball.

Oil the bowl (I dislike washing dishes so I just used the same bowl).  Add the dough, turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm spot until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.  (I put the bowl in the oven with the light on and it rose beautifully!)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a long rope measuring approximately 22 inches; cut the dough into 1 inch pieces to make pretzel bites.  I processed all the dough before moving onto the next step.

Bring the water to boil over high heat and add the baking soda.

Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution for about 30 seconds.  I did in batches of about 15 pieces at a time.  Remove with a large slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed or use parchment paper.  Make sure the pieces are not touching.  Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the sea salt.  Place into the oven and bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.

** If you want to make cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites - instead of sprinkling with salt before baking, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Cheese Sauce Recipe
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook 1 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until smooth and all the cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.