Monday, November 27, 2006

Delicious Rum Cakes Make Perfect Holiday Treats

Last Friday I appeared on the KGUN (ABC-9) morning show in Tucson, Arizona. I shared my favorite holiday recipe, Rum Cakes, with the audience and the crew. They were a huge hit! Not only are these cakes the perfect size to give your favorite people as a holiday treat, but they are also incredibly yummy... and, well, a little addictive!

Secret Ingredients Rum Cake Recipe

1 cup pecans, chopped
1 (18.5 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum

1/4 pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum


Grease and flour bundt pans. Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pans. MIx all cake ingredients. Pour batter over nuts. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Prepare glaze while cake is in the oven.

For the Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in rum.

Cool cakes. Invert on serving plate. Prick top. Drizzle and smooth glaze over top and sides. Allow cakes to absorb glaze. Repeat until all glaze is used.

Be sure to enter our contest for your chance to win one of ten FREE Secret Ingredients Heirloom Cookbooks!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Beautiful Gifts

Gift wrapping presents doesn't have to be boring! Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks:

~ For items 4 x 6 inches and smaller, you can use a sheet of 8.5 x 11, beautifully decorated paper. You can find papers like the one we chose at scrapbooking stores, art stores, and stationery stores. Be sure to choose a paper that bends easily; handmade papers with fibers and plants often crack or separate as they bend.

~ Satin ribbon is an inexpensive, elegant way to dress up your gifts! Satin and grosgrain ribbons can b purchased for very little money, often 99 cents per roll, at craft stores such as JoAnn's and Michael's. Ribbons can be used alone on hard-to-wrap gifts, or tied over a beautiful, matching wrapping paper!

~ Making your own wrapping paper is a great project to do with kids, and a wonderful way to get them more involved in the holiday preparations. Choose bright colored butcher paper, and stamp or color onto the paper with sponge stamps, markers, watercolors or crayons. Encourage your kids to fill the whole paper, edge to edge, with their own creative holiday designs!

Here at Secret Ingredients, we hope your holidays are bright and festive!

For wonderful gift ideas, remember to check out our website. We offer Heirloom and Keepsake custom cookbooks; gifts full of traditions, memories, and holiday cheer.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yummy Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Thanksgiving is one of the greatest times each year to enjoy family and delicious food. So, have you planned your meal?

This year I will be traveling to Tucson to spend Thanksgiving at my friend Beth's house. I will also be stopping by KGUN, Tucson's ABC station, to appear on their morning show on Friday the 24th. Super exciting! If you are in Tucson, tune in!

Beth and I will be cooking our Thanksgiving meal together. She is planning some Thanksgiving classics with a southwestern kick, while I will be preparing Southern family recipes that date back several generations. I thought I would share them with you.

Mamaw's Rolls
Guests beg for the leftovers! This recipe really is incredible.

1 cup cold water
1 cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
2 well-beaten eggs
1 package yeast cake
6 cups flour, unsifted

Place first four ingredients in boiler.
Heat until dissolves. Add another cup cold water and 2 well-beaten eggs.
Put 1 package yeast cake in lukewarm water. Put yeast in other mixture when it gets warm-cool.
Add 6 unsifted cups of flour (not quite full cups). Set aside. Let rise, double cover, and put in refrigerator.
Cut on floured board. Pat with melted butter and fold over. Cook at 400° till done.


Buttered Peas & Carrots

½ cup water
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots
10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed

In a large skillet, combine ½ cup water, 1 stick butter, cut into pieces, 3 tablespoons sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt over moderate heat until the butter is just melted. Add 1 pound carrots, cut into 1/16 inch slices, and stir them to coat with the mixture. Cook the carrots, covered for 4 minutes; stir in a 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed, and cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

My mother added this recipe to our Thanksgiving meals about 8 years ago. We love it!

Mom's Pumpkin Cheesecake

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12
single crackers)
½ cup ground pecans
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
3 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds natural cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon sifted cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
Whipped cream and whole pecans for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°. Make your crust by combining all ingredients. Mix - coating crumbs with butter well. Pat crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Place in freezer while preparing filling.

Prepare the filling: Mix ¾ cup sugar, pumpkin puree, 3 egg yolks, cinnamon, mace, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat cream cheese and 6 tablespoons sugar until smooth. (I use my electric mixer.) Add cornstarch and blend well. Add vanilla and lemon extracts. Mix again until very smooth. Add spiced pumpkin puree to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until you don't see any traces of white to make sure it is extra smooth.
Pour filling over crumb mixture in springform pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until sides have risen. The center will still be somewhat soft. Remove from oven. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and release the side. Remove cheesecake from pan bottom.
Garnish with whipped cream rosettes and whole pecans.

Be sure to include your favorite Thanksgiving recipes in your Secret Ingredients custom cookbook. Also, be sure to enter our contest for your chance to win one of TEN free Secret Ingredients heirloom cookbooks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Unique Holiday Cards

As Thanksgiving draws closer, so does the season for Holiday Cards. Personalizing Holiday Cards can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for people with extensive mailing lists. Here at Secret Ingredients, we’ve put together a few neat ways to make personal, quick cards to celebrate the people you love!

1. Recipe Cards:

Buy pretty Holiday cards, and insert a copy of a recipe that reminds you of the recipient in each. Be sure to copy onto simple, pretty paper, and include a little note about the recipe. Using family recipes, handwritten and stained from use, makes it all the more personal and memorable.

2. Keepsake Cookbooks:

Secret Ingredients recently introduced a new product, Keepsake Cookbooks, which are postcard-sized, personalized perfect-bound cookbooks. These books are perfect to send as both cards and gifts! The books have a customized Dedication Page, where you can include a Holiday Letter to all the recipients. We offer two beautiful Holiday styles, as well as two all-purpose Family styles. These unique and stylish cookbooks are both personal and useful.

3. Holiday Books:

A friend of mine makes Holiday Books to send out every year instead of cards. Each member of her family creates 2 index-card sized pages, and then they are printed onto blank index cards, stacked together, and the edge is sewn with bright red thread on a sewing machine. The little books are a wonderful alternative to store-bought cards, and it is wonderful to hear the stories of the year from many points of view; hers, her husband, and their children. These books are surprisingly easy to make, and are a perfect blend of personalization and ease of creation.

Best wishes to each of you as you make your own Holiday Cards! Please let us know any wonderful ideas you have, or any neat things you’ve seen, as we’re always looking for new takes on Holiday classics!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Add Your Favorite Quotes to Your Heirloom Cookbook

If you are creating a family cookbook for your children or future generations, favorite quotes can make your cookbook even more personal! Our Heirloom Cookbooks can accommodate up to 250 recipes, and our Recipe form helps you enter your recipes quickly and easily. The form includes fields for a Caption and personal notes or stories. The Caption field is the perfect place to add your favorite quotes.

Here are some of the SI team's favorite quotes:

“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”
- Elsa Schiapirelli

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
-Laurie Colwin

“Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.”
-Georges Blanc, from ‘Ma Cuisine des Saisons’

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
-John Ruskin

“Laughter is brightest, in the place where the food is.”
-Irish proverb

“My mother’s menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it.”
-Buddy Hackett

Of course, your quotes don't have to be cooking related. If you need help finding good quotes, check out the following websites:

  • Wisdom Quotes

  • The Quotations Page



    **Reminder for Holiday Orders: If you are building an Heirloom Cookbook for a holiday gift, we ask that you finish your cookbook project by December 1. To guarantee that you get your favorite customized options (Binder and Dividers), go ahead and Checkout. You will have time to finish your project after you Checkout. This just allows us to pull your inventory.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Healthy Make-Over of a Thanksgiving Tradition

My best friend Beth has been in the kitchen again, creating another delicious
Secret Ingredients recipe. We wanted to give a Thanksgiving Tradition, Sweet Potato Casserole, a healthy make-over. The result is this jewel of a recipe:

Secret Ingredients’ Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups chopped sweet potatoes
2 cups baby carrots, peeled
4 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Zest of ½ orange
1 cup crushed canned pineapple with juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Boil sweet potatoes and carrots in large pot until soft- about 15 minutes. Drain and mash until smooth. Add brown sugar, ginger, orange zest, pineapple with juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine well and pour into a greased square casserole or individual ramekins.

Combine crumble ingredients and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake in a 400˚ oven for 10 minutes. Serves 8.

Note: This recipe is low in sugar, low in fat, and absolutely delicious! Leave the peel on the sweet potato for maximum nutrient intake. For a fat-free variation omit crumble topping.

Did you know that Secret Ingredients is giving away ten FREE Heirloom Cookbooks at the beginning of December? Click here to enter. Posted by Picasa

Keepsake Cookbooks are here!

Last week we had a lot of excitement at Secret Ingredients. On Thursday we launched our new product line, Keepsake Cookbooks- just in time for Christmas! If you haven't checked them out, click here to read all about them.
Our new Keepsake books are perfect for Holiday gifts for friends, neighbors and family members. They are also the perfect size (4" x 6") to give as wedding favors or at family reunions.

Each Keepsake Cookbook includes the following features:

  • A full-color photograph

  • A personalized Dedication page

  • Include 25 recipes or as many as you like (Keepsakes accommodate hundreds too if needed)

  • Customize your cookbook cover!

  • Table of Contents

  • On Friday, ABC7 Chicago WLS welcomed Secret Ingredients and me on their morning show to discuss our Heirloom and Keepsake Cookbooks. Thank you WLS! Posted by Picasa