Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Salute to red velvet

Playhouse of Wilson is staging “The Red Velvet Cake War” this weekend, so I thought I’d pay tribute to the play’s delicious namesake.

I didn’t feel ambitious enough to make a red velvet cake, and I’ve already published a wonderful recipe for red velvet cupcakes, so I went with red velvet cookies. And to make them even easier, I made my cookies from a cake mix!

If you’ve ever made cookies from a cake mix, then you know just how easy it is to come up with perfect results. If you’ve never attempted cookies from a cake mix, then this is a good place to start!

I used the Duncan Hines recipe, which uses three ingredients: a box of red velvet cake mix, 2 eggs and 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil. Powdered sugar to decorate is optional, so are the white chocolate chips I mixed into half of my batter, with very good results.

It takes less time to mix the cookies than it does to mix a cake. I used my very small cookie dough scoop, which is 1 teaspoon, to form my cookies. They bake in eight minutes.

I was worried my cookies would be more grayish than red, but I shouldn’t have worried. These cookies are a beautiful red, and the white chips make them even more special.

Give this recipe a try or substitute another cake mix if you don’t want a red tongue when you’ve finished eating!


Playhouse is hoping some of you out there will enter a red velvet cake in their cake contest Saturday. Have your cake at the Boykin Center between 7 and 7:30 p.m. so the judges can get to work tasting. The winner will receive a Playhouse season ticket and T-shirt as well as a $50 gift certificate to any Wilson restaurant.

“Red Velvet Cake War” opens Thursday and continues Friday and Saturday night at 8 and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for adults.

If you buy a ticket Thursday night, you get a second one free.

Red velvet cookies
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
  • White chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine one box of Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix, two eggs and one-third cup vegetable oil using a hand blender or wire whisk. Stir in 1 to 2 cups white chocolate chips.

Form teaspoon-size balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or baking pan about one inch apart. Slightly pat down the top of each ball.

Cook for 8-10 minutes (the top of the cookie will crack).

While hot, lightly sprinkle the top of the cookie with powdered sugar if desired.

Duncan Hines

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Appealing apples

I love fall. The cool mornings, sunny afternoons, leaves that color the landscape with oranges, reds and yellows.

I love making soups and breads and almost anything that calls for apples in the ingredient list.

Last week, when I made a quick visit to my favorite grocery store, I saw that not only did they have in a supply of this season’s fresh apples, but they were also on sale. I quickly picked up a few yellow delicious to eat with our dinner of turkey Sloppy Joes and got a few more Cortland apples to make baked apples the next night. Neither variety disappointed.

I look forward to apple season each year. When we were young, Mama and Daddy would take my sister and me to the mountains each fall, and we’d always come back with apples. Sometimes we even picked them ourselves. I looked forward to taking those apples home to enjoy in Mama’s cobblers and apple buns or stewed on the stove and served alongside pork chops.

I had thought I’d make an apple cobbler for supper Saturday night. My son was grilling burgers and hot dogs for us, and I wanted something to go along with our meal. But instead, I decided to try something new, an apple crisp.

I looked through a number of recipes and then put my own twist on one. The dessert is so simple to make and is in the oven in 15 minutes, probably. The house smelled so good while the crisp was cooking.

I do love the smell of apples cooking, especially if there’s cinnamon involved.

The crisp was a golden brown on top, but underneath was a layer of perfectly cooked, soft apples.

I scooped some crisp in dessert cups and topped each with vanilla ice cream. The crisp was still hot, so the ice cream quickly melted.

Oh my, oh my, this dessert was so good. There were five of us eating the apple crisp, and everyone loved it. I especially liked the combination of textures with the soft apples, smooth ice cream and crunchy oatmeal topping. Yum, yum.

I can’t wait to make this again.

Apple crisp
  • 4-6 medium cooking apples, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour cut apples into ungreased pie plate and spread evenly.

In a bowl, mix brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon. Add melted butter and vanilla and stir well until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples.

Place pan on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil in case the apple juice runs out while the dessert cooks.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm with ice cream on top.