Pumpkin butter cake

I like to think of this recipe as a redneck twist on pumpkin pie. In truth, it’s a holiday twist on a popular redneck recipe, but let’s not split hairs. This decadent, gooey, decidedly bad-for-you dessert has become a holiday favorite among my friends and family, and it’s well on the way to becoming a tradition. Butter cake really isn’t a cake at all, more like a dense cake-pie hybrid; not even the most stoic pumpkin pie loyalists are immune to the allure of this stuff.

Skip to the short version

“Throw the box away, directions and all. Feels good, doesn’t it?”

Having been born and (mostly) raised in California, I had never heard of butter cake before a few years ago. All desserts in California are strictly forbidden by law to have flavor or calories, and they must also include organic agave syrup, Brussels sprouts, and lima bean flour. My spouse, a proud Texan, set me straight and introduced me to butter cake, and I have been a huge fan ever since. This particular recipe is essentially the same as Paula Deen’s, but with a couple of minor tweaks.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 box of regular old yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 box (or bag) powdered sugar (16 oz)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg


Other stuff you’ll need

  • an electric hand mixer
  • a large mixing bowl
  • a 13×9 baking dish
  • insulin


Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Open up the box of yellow cake mix and dump the contents into the mixing bowl. Throw the box away, directions and all. Feels good, doesn’t it? It’s fun being a kitchen rebel. Melt the stick of butter (30 seconds in the microwave will do the job), pour it into the cake mix, and give it a quick spin with the mixer. Add the egg and mix well. On a quick aside, you need to be careful anytime you are mixing any hot ingredients with raw egg. If you add one directly to the other, you run the risk of partially cooking the egg before it can get properly mixed in. Anywho, when you’re done you should end up with a bowl of thick yellow stuff the consistency of cookie dough. Lightly grease the 13×9 baking dish and press the cake mixture into the bottom in an even layer. You don’t need to be gentle – just smash the hell out of it and make sure it gets all the way into the corners.

It looks like cake batter, but it's oh so much better.

It looks like cake batter, but it’s oh so much better.

Now it’s time to start working on the filling. It’s very important to make sure the cream cheese is room temperature at this point – it won’t mix right when it’s cold. You can attempt to carefully microwave it if you so desire, but I never like how it turns out. If you’re working with refrigerator temperature cream cheese, really your best bet is to just leave it out on the counter and go do something else for 45 minutes.

Mix the (now softened) cream cheese and the pumpkin until well blended and silky smooth. Melt the butter and add it to the mixture along with the vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon – feel free to double up on the cinnamon if you like. I find that nutmeg tends to clump, so make extra sure there aren’t any nuggets of the stuff lurking around in the sugar mixture. Biting into a powdery pocket of nutmeg is similar to eating underarm deodorant; avoid this if you possibly can. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, taking care not to fling powdered sugar into the farthest corners of your kitchen.

Pumpkin pie, eat your heart out.

Pumpkin pie, eat your heart out.

Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the cake layer. Using the back of a spoon, “coax” the pumpkin mixture into the corners of the pan and make sure the whole thing is nice and level. Carefully place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes.

When the timer goes off, take the cake out of the oven. Don’t think, just do it. The cake will appear to be very liquidy, but don’t panic. Trust me. The first time I made this I thought I had completely screwed it up, but this is how it’s supposed to be. If you are using a glass pan, you will be able to see that the cake is nice and toasty brown on the bottom – that means it’s done. Resist the urge to bake it for longer and just let it cool for a while. It will set up nicely over the next hour or so.

Nomming will happen very soon. Oh yes, very soon indeed.

Nomming will happen very soon. Oh yes, very soon indeed.

Slice it into squares, serve it with ice cream or Cool Whip or however you like it, and enjoy. You may never buy another pumpkin pie again.

I'm going to skip dinner and just have more of this.

I’m going to skip dinner and just have more of this.



tl;dr

Pumpkin butter cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 box of regular old yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 box (or bag) powdered sugar (16 oz)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg


Other stuff you’ll need

  • an electric hand mixer
  • a large mixing bowl
  • a 13×9 baking dish


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick of butter, melted. Press mixture into the bottom of lightly greased baking dish. Mix cream cheese and pumpkin until well blended. Melt remaining stick of butter and add to pumpkin mixture, along with vanilla, and 3 eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet, stir until evenly blended. Pour into baking dish on top of cake mixture. Bake for 50 minutes. Center will appear runny but will solidify as cake cools. Slice and serve once completely cooled.



See also


Turkey Herder Pie

With bare cupboards, a grumbling stomach, and no idea what to make for dinner, I somehow managed to throw this shepherd’s pie clone together in about 45 minutes. To my utmost astonishment, it didn’t suck. I quickly grabbed a pad of paper and scribbled down the recipe, and because I’m super nice I’m going to share it with you.

Skip to the short version

A completely non-authentic shepherd's pie rip off. We loved it.

A completely non-authentic shepherd’s pie rip off. We loved it.

It was just another regular old Sunday night at home, and there was nothing to eat. The pantry, freezer, and refrigerator were all in that familiar “blah” phase that takes places right before one drags oneself to the store to restock. Just as I was lamenting the grocery situation, my wife Shawn said, “Doesn’t shepherd’s pie sound good?”

” Fire up the broiler and show those stupid potatoes who’s boss “

We had barely any food in the house at all, so shepherd’s pie was very unlikely. “Oh sure, and why don’t we ask Bruce Willis to deliver some for us in a free Rolls Royce?” I said. Well, that’s what my brain wanted to say. My mouth, being tired of constantly getting into trouble thanks to my brain, decided instead to say “Sure, I’ll see what I can come up with.” My brain was horrified. Shawn was right though, shepherd’s pie did sound good.

There are a bajillion recipes out there, each one a little different, but there are some common themes. In a typical shepherd’s pie (aka, cottage pie), there is usually some kind of meat simmered in broth and Worcestershire sauce, some kind of vegetable, cheese or cream, onions, and mashed potatoes. I rummaged the freezer again and came up with some ground turkey I had forgotten about. The spice rack yielded beef bouillon powder and some dehydrated onions, and the pantry coughed up a box of instant potatoes and a can of corn. Well whaddya know. Rock and roll.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp dehydrated minced onions
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp beef bouillon dissolved in 1 cup hot water (or 1 cup beef broth)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar is best)
  • 2 cups prepared instant mashed potatoes


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brown the turkey in a skillet with the olive oil, dehydrated onions, and garlic powder, being careful not to overcook. When the turkey is barely done (don’t worry, it’ll cook quite a bit longer), add the boullion or broth, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, thyme, and paprika. Stir well and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 or 15 minutes. Salt to taste and remove from heat.

This is an obligatory picture of cheese.

This is an obligatory picture of cheese.

Layer the meat mixture in the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish and cover with the drained corn. Add the cheese in another even layer, and then carefully spread the mashed potatoes over all of that using a rubber spatula. If you want to get fancy (and who doesn’t), take a fork and lightly scrape the top of the mashed potatoes to give it some texture. The resulting tiny little peaks of mashed potato will get toasty, ramping up the “Wow, look what you made!” factor.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned. If they still aren’t browned after 25 minutes, fire up the broiler and show those stupid potatoes who’s boss. Remove from oven, dish up generous scoops of meaty goodness onto whatever plates you happen to have clean, and do be careful not to sear the flesh from the roof of your mouth. If you can come up with a better name than “Turkey Herder Pie”, I’m all ears. That was the best Shawn and I could come up with while under the influence of a respectable post-dinner food coma.

Super awesome tip: If you have a Dutch oven (tee hee), you can make this entire recipe in the one piece of cookware without having to do the skillet-to-baking-dish transfer thing.

Mmm, I do love me some tiny little toasty peaks of mashed potato.

Mmm, I do love me some tiny little toasty peaks of mashed potato.



tl;dr

Turkey herder pie

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp dehydrated minced onions
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp beef bouillon dissolved in 1 cup hot water (or 1 cup beef broth)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar is best)
  • 2 cups prepared instant mashed potatoes


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brown turkey in a skillet with the olive oil, dehydrated onions, and garlic powder. Add boullion or broth, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, thyme, and paprika. Stir well and simmer uncovered for 10 or 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Salt to taste and remove from heat. Layer meat mixture in the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish. Cover with drained corn, then cheese, then mashed potato. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until mashed potato layer is lightly browned.



See also


Experimental pizza roll

I nearly named this recipe “pizza doh” because it really didn’t look like it was going to turn out, but in spite of itself it ended up being something humans can eat. My better half described this recipe as “a fun way to eat pizza”, and I think that description is spot-on. The entire process of preparing this was equal parts recipe and experiment, and the results were favorable enough that I’ll be making this again.

Skip to the short version

” The tube detonated with a doughy ‘wump’ “

As usual, I did not come up with this idea myself. I was not influenced by any one recipe – simply browsing through dozens of “pizza roll” and “rolled up pizza” recipes available on the interwebs was enough to get an idea of what to do.


Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni (I’m pretty sure they come in gaggles. If not, they should)
  • green olives to taste (Read: The whole jar.)
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Set your oven to 375 degrees F.  Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and mentally prepare yourself to open the tube of pizza dough. I know that opening the tube sounds simple, but it didn’t go so smoothly when I tried it. Perhaps it would have helped if I had read the directions, or perhaps I am exceedingly sub-par when compared to whatever Pillsbury considers to be the lowest common denominator. Regardless, when I pulled the little triangular tab, the tube detonated with a doughy “wump”, shredding the pristine sheet of rolled up pizza dough that was once inside. Super. If this same exact thing happens to you, welcome to the slow class – there’s an available seat right here next to mine. Do your best to patch together the tattered dough remnants into something vaguely rectangular and place it on the sheet of foil.  Try not to dwell on this humiliating moment.

Add a layer of pepperoni directly onto the Frankendough, covering as much area as you can.  Next sprinkle some shredded cheese…. No, not sprinkle. Sprinkle is too small of a word to describe how cheese is applied. Heap some shredded cheese on top of the pepperoni in an even layer. Wait, you’re saying. WAIT. Where’s the sauce?? Aha! That’s all part of the plan. The sauce comes later. Much later. For now just keep your socks on and do what I say.

Add any other toppings you like at this point, namely green olives. Lots of ’em.  I’m not sure if any other pizza toppings actually exist, but if they do feel free to use them I guess. You can also dash a bit of Italian seasoning over the top of everything as well, and maybe add some garlic powder and Parmesan if you’re feeling extra sassy.

It ain't pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

It ain’t pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

Starting at one of the shorter sides, carefully begin rolling up the whole mess into kind of a large mutated burrito.  Lightly rub the top with some olive oil and a dust bit more Italian seasoning on top to help hide the horrific scars.  Stick it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I don't remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

I don’t remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

Ah. Well this is awkward. Quickly, cut the roll into slices before anyone notices that the whole operation has gone pear-shaped.  At this point, just pretend like everything that has happened so far has been according to plan.  The more confident you seem, the less likely guests will be to question your methods.

Serve the roll slices with some warmed up pizza sauce (for dipping) and try not to burn off all the flesh from the roof of your mouth.

Well hey, that didn't turn out so bad afterall.

Well hey, that didn’t turn out so bad afterall.



tl;dr

Experimental pizza roll

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni
  • green olives to taste
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Open tube of dough and lay on a flat surface. Layer on pepperoni, cheese, olives, and any other toppings you like. Roll up dough and pinch trailing edge against roll to seal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Slice roll and serve with heated pizza sauce.


Tater Tot casserole

My wife Shawn and I have a lot in common, especially our tastes in cuisine. We particularly enjoy comfort food type dishes, and we have quite a collection of recipes in this category. We tend to cook these dishes while we are camping (we have a 5th wheel RV trailer the size of Iceland and an equally massive redneck truck to tow it with), so we have dubbed this sort of food “trailer trash”. We love the heck out of it.

Skip to the short version

” If you’re a wimp, top with the recommended two cups of cheese “

This recipe is fits squarely into the above category, and we couldn’t be happier about that. It’s apparently a classic, but it’s a new one on us. The version we initially came across was this one, but you can find unsurprisingly similar recipes here, here, and here. It includes all the cornerstones of blue collar cooking, namely meat, cheese, potatoes, and cream of chicken soup. There is no way this can suck.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef (We prefer to use ground turkey. Get over it.)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (10.75oz) cream of chicken soup.
  • 1 small package (16oz) frozen Tater Tots
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. If you don’t know what “F” means, I’m not going to explain it. That’s your fault for not paying attention in school. In a skillet, sauté the onion in a little butter and olive oil. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. If you prefer a bit more onion-y-ness in your food, brown the beef first and add the onion after. Or, if you are feeling particularly lazy, you can use dehydrated onion instead.

Stir the cream of chicken soup into the ground beef mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and spread evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Top with the frozen Tater Tots in whatever form of symmetry makes you feel good about yourself. In a related side note, do not attempt to eat a frozen Tot – they are crazy disgusting when not cooked. I’ve heard. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the Tater Tots are golden brown. Don’t worry about the cheese, we haven’t forgotten it. That comes next.

omg   cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

omg cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

Remove casserole from oven and, if you’re a wimp, top with the recommended two cups of cheese. If, on the other hand, you feel more fiercely independent and confident in your kitchen abilities, add three cups of cheese. OR FOUR. Don’t let some stupid recipe tell you how much cheese is enough – that’s your decision dammit. Once you have added the appropriate amount of cheese, return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, say 5 or 10 minutes.

Serve with a nice… Actually, you know what? Screw the side dishes. This has everything in it already. Just eat it!

Trailer trash heaven on a plate.

Trailer trash heaven on a plate.



tl;dr

Tater Tot casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (10.75oz) cream of chicken soup.
  • 1 small package (16oz) frozen Tater Tots
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sauté onion in butter and olive oil, add ground beef/turkey and cook until browned. Stir in cream of chicken soup, salt and pepper to taste, and spread evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Top with frozen Tater Tots and bake for 30 minutes or until Tater Tots are golden brown. Remove casserole from oven, top with cheese, and return to oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.



See also