Helping Hands in the Kitchen: Celebration Treats

April 5, 2022

In my family, April is a big birthday month In April, I have 3 daughters, 2 granddaughters, and friends/family with birthdays in April. So, for me, April is a BIG food month. Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite special occasion or birthday recipes. These recipes can be enjoyed any day of the week and for any occasion.

Each person in my family has their favorite dish they request for their birthday, but I have a son-in-law that requests Bar-B-Que Pork Ribs every year.

BAR-B-QUE PORK RIBS

I like to use a “cook-in bag” or line the pan in foil because they make cleaning up much easier, but neither is necessary.

Pork ribs or some pork roast may be trimmed or cut for easy serving. You might want to make 3-4 ribs per person plus extra.  Remember, leftovers like this are delicious and always welcomed!

I like to salt and pepper the pork and add some sliced onion on top for flavor. For the Bar-B-Que Sauce, you can use your favorite off-the-shelf or your favorite recipe, or here is a good one I often use!

BBQ SAUCE:

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ¼ cups packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon – ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon – ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Don’t let it go dry. Taste and adjust to your liking.
  3. When I use a cook-in bag, I put the ribs/pork inside the bag, onions, cover with sauce and fasten the bag as instructed, put 3-4 small holes with a sharp knife in the top, and put in a 325-350 deg F oven until tender. This will depend on the size of the meat – check it at about 50 minutes, but make sure it is tender and done. If you don’t use a bag, cover the meat while in the oven and check often. Don’t let it go dry. Add more sauce if needed.

When serving, be sure to take the extra sauce and cover the roasted ribs. I don’t add extra liquid to the bag because the pork has fat in it and will make melted liquid as it roasts.

YAKITORI CHICKEN

This can be made inside either with a grill pan or a heavy skillet, or it can be cooked over an outside grill. They can be cooked on skewers or pieces of chicken (light or dark meat, marinated.) I learned to make this when we lived in Japan for 3 years – MANY years ago!

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon s water

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients, and marinate the chicken for up to 2 hours.
  2. Cook 7-8 minutes, until brown and done.

OPTIONS:

For 2 pounds of chicken – use 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup water, ½ cup packed brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon granulated garlic. Marinate and cook.

Alternatives: Use beer instead of water, use other herbs and spices to your tastes, or add flavorings like sesame oil, onion, and peppers.

POTATO SALAD

For the potato salad, adjust quantities to meet the number you serve. Use about one medium potato per person and add some extra for good measure.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds of potatoes (Russet, Red, or Yellow Gold)
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2-3 Tablespoons diced onion
  • 2-3 Tablespoons diced celery
  • 1 Tablespoon diced pimento pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon diced green pepper
  • 4-6 Tablespoons pickles (sweet relish, dill relish, or pickles diced small)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil potatoes, remove skin and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Boil eggs until hard-boiled. Then peel and chop large dice.
  3. Combine all in a large bowl. Stir to combine well. Taste. Adjust to suit taste.

Keep refrigerated. You can add or delete ingredients, just add the amount accordingly. Use your best judgment. 

COLESLAW

This recipe came from my mother-in-law many years ago and I’ve preferred it ever since.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds of shredded cabbage (This can be a combination of red and green cabbage and can also include carrots)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup whipping cream (NOT whipped)

Instructions

  1. Place the cabbage in a covered dish in the refrigerator for several hours (makes it crisp).
  2. Mix other ingredients in the order given 30 minutes before serving.
  3. Pour over the cabbage.
  4. Chill and serve.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour or cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package German brand sweet chocolate, melted
  • Coconut-Pecan frosting

Instructions

  1. Mix flour with sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Stir the butter to soften.
  3. Add flour mixture, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate (cooled). Blend.
  4. Then beat for 3 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. Scrape the bowl frequently.
  5. Pour into 2 or 3 well-greased and floured 8” or 9” layer cake pans.
  6. Bake at 350 deg F (preheated) oven for about 30-35 minutes until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake in pans 15 minutes then remove from pans. Finish cooling on rack (lightly place aluminum foil over the top to keep it moist.)
  8. Spread frosting between layers and on top.

COCONUT-PECAN FROSTING:

  1. Combine 1 cup evaporated milk (NOT sweetened), 1 cup granulated sugar, 3 slightly beaten egg yolks, ½ cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a saucepan.
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. About 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Add 1 1/3 cups angel flake coconut and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. Cool until thick enough to spread, beating occasionally. Don’t let it cool completely though. Makes 2 ½ cups.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour (not self-rising)
  • 12 egg whites
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest – optional (you could use orange, lime)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. In a mixer bowl beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. (1-2 minutes)
  3. On medium speed, add sugar by gradually sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites until shiny and thick.
  4. Add the vanilla and zest if using. Beat about 1 more minute.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer and add the flour by hand, mixing in about ¼-1/3 cup at a time and blending with a rubber spatula slowly without deflating the egg whites until all flour is added. Just until you can’t see any loose flour.
  6. Pour into an ungreased 10” tube pan (if making half recipe use a small tube pan.)
  7. Smooth top and bake 35-40 minutes until springs back with light touch and is browned.
  8. Remove cake from oven and invert on a flat surface. (If your pan does not have “legs” to hold it up, set pan on an empty glass bottle to let it cool so the cake won’t sink.) Let it cool inverted.
  9. When cool, run a spatula or knife around outside and center tube to loosen and remove the cake (with the bottom of the pan ) from the sides. Then run the knife or spatula around the “top” of the cake and remove the bottom to show your flat top angel food cake.
  10. Place on a dish or cake board. Serve!
Happy April Birthdays chocolate cake

So, use these recipes for your birthday celebrations – OR any day of the week! They are all easy, and you are all great cooks!

Bon Appétit!

With Love,

Granni K

To download these recipes, click here.

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