Vegan, Whole-Grain, Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread

Whose garden is already being overrun with TONS of zucchini??  I would raise my hand but guess whose zucchini plants didn’t take this year–yeah, mine.  But I must be the only one because I am being blessed by everyone else’s overabundance from their gardens and have already started grating and freezing loads of zucchini.  I did want to use some of it right away though so decided on, what else, zucchini bread.  I love zucchini bread, always have.  I know that people get tired of it but I could eat it all day (uhh, which is NOT good, just fyi).  My favorite is a variation with lots of spices and pieces of black walnuts throughout, just like my grandma always made it.

Coincidentally, my friend Joelle had just posted this recipe and I decided to use it as a base for a healthy version.  If I’m going to use something as nutritious as zucchini in my baking, I have real issues with adding in refined sugar, unhealthy oils and unecessary fats (exception:  this recipe).  Seems kind of pointless, to be honest.  So I went for the extreme opposite and made this as healthy as I possibly could.  And what resulted was the best pumpkin zucchini bread I have ever had.  I really am not joking.  It was so moist and dense and had the perfect flavor.  I really had to pace myself with this stuff because let me tell you I could have eaten it all in a couple of days.

I had read that chia seeds could be used as a substitute for butter in baking which was interesting to me so I went ahead and used them along with some canned organic pumpkin (a million times better than the stuff at Wal-mart) and I really think that it worked even better than oil or butter in the recipe.  Very exciting!  Definitely look forward to experimenting more in the future.

Enjoy!

1.5 from 2 reviews
Vegan, Whole Grain Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2.5 c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I prefer pink himalayan)
  • 1 T. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Allspice
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • ¼ c. Almond Milk
  • 1 c. Honey (or Agave)
  • 1 c. Pumpkin Puree
  • 6 T. Chia Seeds, soaked in ½ c. Water
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Shredded Zucchini, wrung with paper towels to rid excess liquid
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a medium bowl combine almond milk, honey, pumpkin puree, chia seeds that have been soaked in water and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and gently fold in until everything is just combined. Add zucchini and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed throughout batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes checking periodically to see if a tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
Notes
Serves 12

 

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Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Photo by Food Network

I really, really wanted to make this Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich Cake this past weekend but it just did not happen!  I was too busy working on brownies and sugar cookies and all kinds of other tasty things.  I’ve been dying to share it with all of you ever since it showed up in my inbox last week.  So I finally decided I am just going to post the recipe on my blog, even though I haven’t personally made it.  I figure it has to be good, I mean how can you go wrong with ice cream sandwiches, strawberry and mint ice cream and chocolate?!  The answer is you CAN’T.  Just not possible.

Someone make this and let me know how wonderful it is!

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 10, 3.5-ounce Rectangular Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • 1 Pint Strawberry Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • 1 Pint Mint Chip or Pistachio Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • ½ c. Oreos or Chocolate Wafer Cookies, finely crushed (about 12 cookies)
  • Chocolate Shell Topping, for spreading
Instructions
  1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Arrange 5 ice cream sandwiches snugly in the bottom of the pan. Spread the strawberry ice cream on top in an even layer. Press the remaining 5 ice cream sandwiches on top, then spread the mint chip ice cream evenly over the sandwiches. Top with an even layer of crushed cookies, pressing gently.
  2. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and freeze until set, about 4 hours. Uncover, then lift the foil to remove the cake from the pan. Invert onto a platter, remove the foil and spread with the chocolate shell topping. Serve immediately or cover and freeze for up to 2 days.
Notes
Serves 8

 

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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

 

Brace yourself:  I’m about to introduce you to ice cream that will forever change the way you look at ice cream and prevent you from ever eating any other ice cream ever again.  Ever.  Sounds pretty serious, huh?  Am I exaggerating?  No.  Being melodramatic?  Ok, maybe a little.  But I am dead serious when I say this is the BEST ice cream I have ever had.  And I’ve tried many.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is the genius of Jeni Bauer.  She is a huge advocate of the highest-quality, most fresh and extremely pure ingredients and it completely shows in her ice creams.  I was trying to remember the other day how I had even heard of Jeni’s in the first place and then it came back to me–Askinosie!  As in Askinosie Chocolate.  He is based here in my hometown of Springfield, MO and of course I follow him on Facebook and Twitter and I remember not too long ago he was constantly posting about a collaboration he had done with Jeni’s and I eventually had had enough!  I had to know what this ice cream was all about!

So, I hopped online and quickly was lost in the photos and descriptions of all her ice creams.  I mean, seriously…Whiskey & Pecans, Brown Butter Almond Brittle…these just were not your run-of-the-mill cookies n’ cream and mint chocolate chip flavors.  I went to put one in my cart and quickly discovered the minimum purchase was four pints and a total of $48!  Eek!  Yeah, couldn’t justify that.  I was sad.  Very sad.  But life went on and then one afternoon it hit me–what if a store in my little ole town of Springfield, MO sold Jeni’s?!  (can you say, “DUH”?)  Sure enough I discovered two local grocers, Mama Jeans and Homegrown Foods, that carried Jeni’s and made my first official purchase of Roxbury Road!  Think rocky road but with the best chocolate ice cream you’ve ever had, HOMEMADE marshmallows (which I’m a huge advocate of), roasted almonds in every bite and a hint of caramel.  Absolutely, amazingly, delicious.

Jeremy and I agreed since it was pricey, we’d make our little pint last and savor every bite.  Well, someone didn’t hold up their end of the deal..and it wan’t ME.  So naturally I decided I needed to do a review on my blog and share the goodness with the world which of course meant buying more.  Yay!  I picked up Brambleberry Crisp and Salty Caramel.  The Brambleberry Crisp has swirls of Brambleberry Jam which is made up of three different berries and delicious pieces of oat streusel.  I think it might be my favorite so far.

The Salty Caramel is almost indescribable.  Imagine the most amazing salted caramel you’ve ever had, in ice cream form.  And I love reading the ingredients label and seeing things in my ice cream I actually recognize such as real cream, berries, sugar, etc and absolutely NOTHING artificial or cooked up in a lab.  I honestly can’t do the ice cream justice describing it; you really have to taste it for yourself!

As for the price, at $9.99 for a pint from the store, sure it’s a little pricey but there is a reason–it’s WORTH it.  Jeremy and I can go to our local custard joint, load our custard up with all kinds of toppings and easily spend $10 between the two of us.  And we have nothing to show for it after about 10 minutes.  With the Jeni’s?  Yep, we’ve still got plenty in the freezer.  Now if I can just keep Jeremy out of it….

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Bakery Review – Pinkitzel in Oklahoma City

Warning:  This post contains many pictures.  I apologize in advance.  However, I originally had 50 and managed to narrow it down to 20.  And yes, I know you’re dying to see ALL 50 so I have a slideshow at the very end of this post with every. single. photo.

Ok, so I’ve talked about the little trip Jeremy and I took to Oklahoma City and the bakeries we visited, here and here.  But I have saved the best for last.  Pinkitzel is the sole reason I wanted to go to Oklahoma City.  Ever since finding them online a few months ago, I have been absolutely DYING to visit.  And I finally got to!  Since I have ambitions of opening my own candy shop one day, Pinkitzel is a MAJOR inspiration in my book.  I was so excited to go.  Probably too excited.

From the moment we walked in, I tried to contain myself but it was hard!  I’m sure the employees thought we were nuts…Jeremy taking pictures, me jotting down notes…yeah, we looked crazy.  At least I felt like I did.  But I didn’t care!  I was in candy heaven and no one was raining on my parade.  First off, the decor is AMAZING.  Totally my style and pretty dang close to what I’d choose for a store of my own.  It was black, white and hot pink with a rococo/baroque feel to it.  The party rooms were out. of. this. world.  There is a black and white one that could be accented with the colors of the person’s party/event they are having.  I believe the room was set up for an engagement party when we were visiting that day.

And then you have a red/pink room that is very girly and a little smaller, probably more for a young girl’s birthday party or even a bridal or baby shower.  Both of the rooms were so neat and over the top, pretty much like everything in the store.

There were also tons of fun merchandise and nicknacks and novelty gifts.

And the candy.  Oh, the candy.  So much to choose from.  I tried to be really picky but still get a good variety–at $3.75 for 1/4lb, this stuff wasn’t cheap!  But I can honestly say, it was totally worth the price.  A million times better quality than the stuff you’d get somewhere else (like our local shop in Springfield, Mr. Bulky’s) and the selection was just phenomenal.

My only regret about this place was spending $9 on three, yes THREE, cupcakes that were horrible, instead of using it on more candy.  Yes, you are doing the math correctly…$3 each.  I had read reviews that people posted online saying the cupcakes were from somewhere like Sam’s Club and just frosted different colors and sure enough…that’s what they were.  Except I like the cupcakes from Sam’s Club (shocker, I know) and I definitely did NOT like these.  They were even smaller than a regular size cupcake (if you can imagine that) and so loaded with artificially flavored frosting they were nearly inedible.  Let’s just say it was a good thing we were sitting right next to a trash can.  They also had a selection of chocolate truffles that were decent.  Not the best, but definitely ok.

BUT, the candy more than made up for the cupcakes and truffles.  I think it’s clear that the main product focus is the candy and it’s worth every penny.  I truly wish I’d just stuck with candy but I have no doubt I’ll be back to this place.  It’s sensory overload in every way and I love it!  Definitely make sure you stop in if you’re ever in the area!

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July 4th Cakes!

Happy July 4th!  How are you celebrating today?  We have zero plans today (except staying inside in the air conditioning!) and then we’re heading to a get-together our church is putting on with bbq, games for kids and of course, fireworks!  I will say fireworks are making me extremely nervous this year with the dry conditions and potential for fire but I’m just gonna try to relax and not freak out and tackle every little kid I see with a sparkler too near to grass.   Hopefully I’ve done enough preaching to all my friends and family on Facebook.  I’m sure they just loooooove me and my paranoid ways right now.  Oh well!

Anyway, onto a more pleasant topic:  CAKE.  I love cake…cheesecake, ice cream cake, cake-cake, cupcakes, cheesecake-cakes…you get the point.   And these patriotic cakes are perfect for July 4th, whether you’re celebrating today or this weekend.

Have a safe and fun holiday!

July 4th Bundt Cake

Berry Star Cheesecake

Hidden Flag Cake

Red, White and Blue Sprinkles Cake

Simple Star Cake

Berry Vanilla Ice Cream Cake

Flag Ice Cream Cake

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Lemon Bars

One of Jeremy’s co-workers, Amy, just had her baby, Mr. Cannon Bailey Crocker.  He is sweet and perfect and mom and dad are soooo happy he finally showed up.  Jeremy’s office is pretty much a bunch of guys (with the exception of Amy) and it’s kind of like one big family…we all know each other, hang out together on occasion and when someone in the office has a baby, the wives make food!  So we got a meal sign-up sheet together for Amy and her family and I immediately knew what dessert I was going to make her even before I figured out what main dish I’d be preparing.  It’s all about priorities, right??

Amy had mentioned not too long ago that she loves lemon bars.  Perfect!  I already had a couple of recipes that I’d made before but I wanted to try a new one.  So I found this one by Ina Garten and it is so, SO good.  Definitely the best lemon bar recipe I have tried yet, by far.  I love the ratio of crust to filling.  Usually it’s half crust and half filling (which is not enough filling, in my opinion) but this recipe was about one-third crust and two-third filling.  The lemon filling was the perfect balance of sweet and tart and the crust was flaky and buttery.  This recipe is a keeper!

3.6 from 5 reviews
Lemon Bars
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Filling
  • 6 Large Eggs at room temperature
  • 3 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Grated Lemon Zest (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 c. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (8 lemons)
  • 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
For the Crust
  1. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer. Combine the flour and salt and with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Add vanilla. Gather the dough into a ball and press gently and evenly into the 9x13 pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  2. Bake the crust for 18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on, set to 350 degrees.
For the Filling
  1. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Cut into triangles or squares and dust with powdered sugar.
Notes
Makes about 20 servings.

 

 

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Red Velvet Funnel Cake

My niece is a genius.  Yes, she is one of the sharpest, brightest, most creative and beautiful little girls I know.  But I’ve now confirmed she is a CULINARY genius as well.  My sister-in-law, Rachel, had mentioned a loooong time ago that Joslyn misunderstood something she said once and mistakenly thought that she and Rachel were going to make red velvet funnel cakes, instead of cupcakes.   Ummm, can you say brilliant?!?  I immediately tucked the idea away in the back of my mind knowing one day I’d get around to it and I am so happy to finally announce that day has come!

Now I’ve only made funnel cakes once in my life when I was a kid and I seemed to remember it being fairly easy and so, so fun and most of all extremely YUMMY.  The same can pretty much be said this time around but I must have forgotten how MESSY it was.  Umm, yes, this was messy.  I’m just going to be honest–get a funnel cake pitcher.  There’s a reason they make these, people.  Do not attempt to use a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (like I did) or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off.  I basically had to hold my finger over the hole of the tip while Jeremy poured the batter into the pastry bag (it turned out to be a VERY loose batter) and then release it into the oil  Don’t get me wrong…it worked.  Oh it totally worked.  But messy?  Yes.  And I HATE messy.  As a matter of fact, you could probably even use an empty, clean ketchup bottle which I know a lot of people do for pancake batter, which has a very similar consistency and would be much more controllable.  If only I had thought of that before…

Besides the messy factor, this red velvet funnel cake was super easy to mix up, required an absurd amount of red food dye (eek!) and was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS with a generous amount of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream and fresh blueberries.  And if you want just a plain funnel cake but still want to be patriotic, just dye the basic recipe red or blue and voila!  I think it is such a fun dessert for the 4th of July!

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Funnel Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • ⅓ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1¾ c. Buttermilk
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Red Food Dye (lots)
  • 1 Bottle Vegetable Oil (I used 7 cups)
  • Powdered Sugar, Ice Cream, Blueberries, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. And the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until smooth. Add the red food dye until you have the red color you desire (I used about half of a 1 oz. bottle).
  2. Pour the oil into a large skillet. Heat oil until a thermometer reaches at least 290 degrees (even though the original recipe called for 360 degrees, mine only ever got to 290 so I went with it and it worked). Release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Mine were pretty large, about 7-8 inches in diameter. Fry for about two minutes until it no longer looks raw. Using large tongs, grab the funnel cake in the middle (NOT the edges..they are crisp and could break) and gently turn over. Fry for one more minute and then place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up additional grease. Dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar and top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries.
Notes
Makes 5 large funnel cakes. Note: This is NOT a sweet funnel cake, which is why I recommend topping it with a generous amount of the powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, etc...it pairs perfectly with those things.

 

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Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy baking has come a looooong way.  Especially in my kitchen.  I remember back when I did most of my “healthy” baking and it consisted of mass amounts of whole wheat flour, Splenda (God forbid) and tons of egg whites.  Thankfully, I now know what healthy really means….REAL ingredients that are not artificial, preservative laden bombs.  And most of those recipes honestly, well, they weren’t that great. Let’s just leave it at that.

But the healthy recipes I’m finding nowadays are a whole other story.  They are chocked full of nutritious and real ingredients.  And I have yet to come across one I did not LOVE.  Seriously.  Such is the case with these cookies.  I found the original recipe on the Texanerin Baking blog and only tinkered with it a bit.  Ok, that’s a lie.  The first time I made it I messed with the recipe ALOT and while I managed to create what could be considered the most amazingly delicious healthy peanut butter and chocolate chip fudge EVER, they didn’t quite bake up like a cookie.  Not to say they weren’t good..just not very cookie like.  So I tried the recipe again and stuck as close to the original as possible with only a few minor changes.  And they. Were. Awesome.

Don’t let the beans throw you off…it’s amazing how great they work for gluten-free baking and meld seamlessly with the other ingredients. The first time I used beans for these Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting, I was highly skeptical, but the recipe turned out awesome and honestly it was one of the best chocolate cakes.  In my opinion at least.  So give beans a try in your baked goods!  They add loads of protein and fiber which our bodies need!

Enjoy!

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • ½ c., plus 2 T. All-Natural Peanut Butter (no oil, salt, sugar, etc)
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Honey
  • 1 t. Baking Powder (I use aluminum-free)
  • ⅛ t. Salt (I use Pink Himalayan Sea Salt)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, until very smooth. Scrape the sides and top to get the small pieces of chickpeas and process again until smooth. Scrape into a medium size bowl and stir in the chocolate chips. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Drop by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Makes 14, 1½" cookies. Note: They are best to eat on the first day and are the most like a traditional cookie. The next day they are still yummy but the texture changes just a bit and they seem more like cookie dough.

 

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July 4th Cupcake Inspiration

I just love these patriotic cupcakes from a few of my favorite blogs.  So creative and soooo tasty looking!  Makes me want to grab a sparkler and get the party started!

Enjoy!

Red, White & Blue – Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Photo by Love From the Oven

Color Swirled July 4th Cupcakes

Photo by Bake at 350

Blueberry & Raspberry Cupcakes

Photo by the Cupcaketologist

Berry Patriotic Cupcakes

Photo by Kitchen Daily

Cute Star Candy Cupcakes

Photo by Grey Luster Girl

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Photo by Bakergirl

Bomb Pop Cupcakes

Photo by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

 

 

 

 

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Cherry Star Turnovers

July 4th is on a Wednesday this year.  Middle of the week.  No vacation days before.  No vacation days after.  I’m not liking it.  Not one bit.  Especially considering everyone in my office is taking off leaving me alone to man the phones and do what else?  Hmmm, not sure.  I’m predicting a lot of Words with Friends.

Since it’s going to be SO WEIRD to have July 4th in the middle of the workweek, I thought we could use something to get us into the patriotic spirit first thing that day!  And that something are these fun star pastry pie turnovers.  Made of puff pastry and cherry pie filling (store-bought or homemade) they are the perfect breakfast treat!  I would actually liken them more to a turnover than a pie…flaky layers of buttery dough and ooey gooey cherry filling.  My only frustration with these things was the amount of cherry pie filling I could fit into each star.  I carefully placed four cherries in the middle of each and was able to just barely fit another star over the top and seal it shut.  So it’s a little more puff pastry than filling but they are still quite delish.

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cherry Star Turnovers
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 21 oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling (you'll only need about ½ a cup..or double the recipe and use more!)
  • 1, 17.3 oz. Box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets total)
  • 1 Egg White + 1 T. Water, whisked together (for egg wash)
  • 1 T. Coarse Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
  • Flour (for dusting)
Instructions
  1. Thaw puff pastry on kitchen counter for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold one sheet of puff pastry. (I did not roll it out any thinner, just unfolded and cut with my cookie cutter, but feel free to do so if you'd like...you might get a couple more turnovers that way.) Using a 5-inch star shaped cookie cutter (yes, you need a VERY large one), cut out four stars from the puff pastry sheet and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush egg wash onto edges of each star. Put one tablespoon of cherry pie filling (I literally picked out four cherries and placed in the middle of the stars..didn't want all that goo oozing out as it baked) in the middle of each star. Unfold the other puff pastry sheet and cut out four more stars. Place on top of the stars on the baking sheet. Crimp edges of the star with a fork to seal (I dipped the tines of the fork into the egg wash periodically). Brush egg wash onto the top of each star and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut a couple of small slits into the top of each star.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or eat warm.
Notes
Makes 4 star turnover. *There is alot of leftover puff pastry scraps with this recipe. I used a small star cookie cutter and just did smaller star puff pastry bites. They need less time to cook, about 15 minutes.

 

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Red Velvet and Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Can I be honest?  If I had the option, I’d make a different kind of ooey gooey butter cake every week.  I am totally not joking.  EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.  Who knows, if things got really crazy I might even make TWO different kinds in one week!  I just love it so much.  But that would bore you, wouldn’t it?  I mean, you’d think “Wow, Sarah, seriously?  What about cookies and pie and brownies??”  Right?  Oeey gooey butter cake 24/7??  Boring!  And I definitely don’t want to bore you so I will refrain from indulging my ooey gooey butter cake obsession.  For now.

I actually realized it’s been about a year since I have posted this recipe for Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake so I thought it was high time I make one.  And man, it is such a struggle to make desserts for the 4th of July that are red, white and blue.  Let’s face it, unless you go the totally unnatural red and blue dye route, what are you left with??  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  That’s it!  So I thought this cake might be a little different but still incorporate the patriotic tones of July 4th.

And bonus: this cake is AH-MAZING.  It was all I could do to keep from eating the whole thing.  Poor Jeremy is really cutting out sugar right now and proclaimed that he would be relinquishing his duties as my official taste-tester (I know, I know…how dare he?!!?), but he could not resist having a bite of this cake.  It is so good.  Whatever get-together you have coming up, take this and it will be gone in no time!

Enjoy!

Red Velvet and Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1, 18.25 oz. Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Stick Butter, melted
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 Drops Red Food Coloring (the cake mix was a bit dark and I wanted a bit brighter red)
Ooey Gooey Filling
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3¾ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Stick Butter, melted
  • 1 c. (11.5 oz.) Blueberry Spreadable Fruit (or jam/preserves)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combined the cake mix, egg, butter, vanilla and red food coloring and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add in butter. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Stir the blueberry spreadable fruit to get it loosened up and then drop by spoonfuls on top of the filling. Gently swirl the blueberry spreadable fruit with a knife into the filling.
  4. Bake for 42-45 minutes until filling looks set and no longer wet or jiggly. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars

Lately I’ve been doing more healthy baking and noticing that I feel like I’m using the same ingredients over and over again for a lot of the new recipes I’m trying.  You’d think that everything would taste the same using the same ingredients repeatedly, but it’s truly amazing the different variations you can get just with a few simple ingredient swaps.  For instance, I’ve done Cinnamon Apple Pecan Oatmeal Bars which have really similar ingredients to these and I’m discovering the quinoa can be used in lots of healthy dessert recipes, yet somehow these Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars are still unlike anything I’ve made.

They remind me of a cross between banana bread and oatmeal bars and are very homey and good.  The original recipe called them 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars but of course they had more ingredients than that after I was done with them so the name changed a bit.  They could also be considered gluten-free (although there is debate whether oats are truly gluten-free, so please use your own judgement) and have very little added sweetener, which is nice.  All in all a great recipe and one that I’ll make over and over again.

Enjoy!

Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Large, Very Ripe Bananas, Mashed
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey or Agave
  • 2 c. Rolled Oats (I used 1 c. thick-cut oats and 1 c. rye oats)
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (or just use another cup of oats)
  • ½ c. Pitted, Chopped Dried Dates
  • ¼ c. Chopped Nuts (optional--I omitted just because)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the mashed bananas, vanilla and honey in a large bowl and stir until combined.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together the oats, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the quinoa, dates and nuts (if using).
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 12 bars.

 

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Bakery Review – CocoFlow and Bricktown Candy Co. in Oklahoma City

Pretty waterway on our short stroll from CocoFlow to Bricktown Candy Co.

A couple weeks ago I posted about a trip Jeremy and I took to Oklahoma City to visit a few bakeries and cupcake shops, all in the name of research, of course!  We started out our day bright and early with Sara Sara Cupcakes and from there hit up CocoFlow and Bricktown Candy Co.  I won’t go into many details because either of these places because I honestly wasn’t blown away by them.  But here’s a quick rundown with lots of pictures!

Patio outside of CocoFlow.
One of the bakery cases at CocoFlow and a shot of the interior.

I choose CocoFlow because I thought it would be neat to go to a place that wasn’t cupcakes and instead focused on chocolate truffles.  I was actually really excited to visit this little shop right in the heart of Bricktown.  It was a very unassuming, cafe type space.  When we got there, there was actually a chocolate making class in full-swing which I thought was SO cool and wanted so badly to join but we would have had to have previously signed up so it was a no-go.  They had a pretty good variety of chocolate truffles to choose from, a few jars of HUGE cookies and some other miscellaneous baked goods.  I choose a Chili Truffle, Marzipan Truffle, Peanut Butter Cup and Coconut Macaroon.  Jeremy got a lemon bar.

Truffles at CocoFlow.
Peanut Butter Cup at CocoFlow.

My first indication of the quality of this place was when employee waiting on us unwrapped the previously made (who knows when?) lemon bar right in front of us and plopped it on the plate and then proceeded to ask if we wanted powdered sugar on it or not.  Umm, sure.  She then proceeded to ring up our treats (unsuccessfully) and after five or six attempts we were finally able to pay and headed outside to sit on the deck, in the lovely late morning weather.

Lemon Bar from CocoFlow.

I’m going to be honest here…the Chili Truffle was a huge bomb.  We wondered if we got the right thing because there was absolutely ZERO chili/heat to this thing and it was coated in granulated sugar which I just thought was weird.  The Peanut Butter Cup was actually a massive chocolate ganache truffle, dipped in chocolate and then topped with a dollop of peanut butter.  The Marzipan Truffle was again, a thick layer of ganache, a very thin, barely there layer of marzipan and it was dipped in chocolate.  The lemon bar was ok.  Lemon goo and a shortbread crust and almost too sweet.  My favorite (and the only thing I liked..actually I LOVED this thing) was the Coconut Macaroon.  It was decadent and chewy, had loads of almond flavor and was dipped in a dark chocolate.  It was divine.  Needless to say we won’t be back to that place…unless of course, to get a coconut macaroon.

Truffles and Coconut Macaroon from CocoFlow.

Bricktown Candy Co. was also nothing to write home about.  I was kind of shocked by the aesthetics of this place.  They have a prime location in the heart of a historic district but the inside is very rundown, warehouse like.  It’s pretty big and divided into one side which is primarily bulk candy and the other side is gelato and almost every bottled drink and soda known to mankind.

Bricktown Candy Co.

The candy was ok but pretty much the same thing I can get at our local Mr. Bulky’s.  Not the best or freshest but definitely not stale and gross.  Just good, standard candy.  I did try the gelato and it was actually really good…if it hadn’t been 11 in the morning I probably would have gotten some but it was just a little early for ice cream (But ya know not too early for chocolate, cupcakes and candy.  Ugh.).

A shot of the bulk candy side of Bricktown Candy Co.
Taffy and other miscellaneous candy at Bricktown Candy Co.

My biggest issue with this place?  The teenager girl that was working the cash register, smacking her gum and talking on a phone the WHOLE time we were there, including while we were checking out.  Gee, sorry are we interrupting your highly important conversation??  Don’t mind us, just customers wanting to GIVE YOU MONEY.  I mean, really?!  It was so rude.  To make matters worse, one of the managers was there and knew she was on the phone and apparently didn’t think anything of it.  We totally felt like we were an inconvenience to this girl’s phone call.  Yeah, not going back.

Ok maybe for gelato…maybe.

Gelato! It was good. The peppermint was my favorite.
Walls of Soda at Bricktown Candy Co.
This was the side of Bricktown Candy Co. that had the gelato, soda and other paraphernalia.

Ok, so not such great choices on my part but it was still fun to try some new places.  And the day definitely gets better!  Next review–Pinkitzel!

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Blueberry Lemon Icebox Cake

A few days ago I posted some dreamy ice cream treats, one of which happened to be a Strawberry Icebox Cake.  As I mentioned in that post, I have wanted to make an icebox cake forever and decided that now was the time!  Add in the fact that I had been OBSESSING about making something with blueberries and lemon and voila!  This delicious dessert was born.

So, was an icebox cake everything I thought it would be?  Ummm, YES.  And more.  I can see why these things were so popular with our grandma’s back in the day…super simple to make and unbelievably delicious.  Once the cake sets overnight, the layers of graham crackers get perfectly soft and the thick, whipped cream filling is almost mousse like sandwiched between everything.

In my humble opinion this is THE perfect summertime treat…simple, gorgeous and bursting with fresh blueberry and lemon flavor!  Enjoy!

Note:  If you don’t like lemon, feel free to omit it or substitute almond flavor, etc.  It’s a very versatile recipe!

Blueberry Lemon Icebox Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 6 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 T. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice (2 large lemons)
  • 4 t. Finely Grated Lemon Zest (2 large lemons)
  • 12 Whole Sheets of Graham Crackers
  • 4 c. Fresh Blueberries (reserve about ½ c. for garnishing the top of the cake)
Instructions
  1. Line a large, 6½x11x4-inch loaf pan with foil, letting the foil hang over either end of the pan to use as "handles". Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a chilled bowl of an electric mixer (I chill my bowl and my whipping beater in the freezer for at least 30 minutes), whip 3 cups of the heavy whipping cream on high speed until thick and slightly stiff. Beat in ¾ cup powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of vanilla. Beat in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
To Assemble
  1. Spread a layer of whipped cream in the bottom of your pan. Place 4 sheets of the graham crackers on top of the whipped cream (they may overlap a bit in the middle and that's ok). Cover the graham crackers in another layer of whipped cream and cover the whipped cream with a layer of blueberries. Gently spread a layer of whipped cream over the blueberries. Cover with 4 more sheets of graham crackers, a layer of whipped cream, blueberries, whipped cream and 4 more sheets of graham crackers. Cover with foil and let set in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Before inverting the cake onto a plate, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until thick and stiff. Add the remaining ¼ c. powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. Place a large plate or platter over the top of the loaf pan and gently flip over. Carefully remove the pan and then gently and slowly peel away the foil. Quickly cover the cake with the whipped cream (see note below) and garnish with reserved blueberries. Slice and serve immediately.
Notes
Serves 10. Note: I only covered the top of my cake with the fresh whipped cream because I thought all the layers were pretty and wanted them to show.

 

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Cupcake Wars Watch Party!

Robyn and I--ready for the show!

One of the best things about being on Cupcake Wars??  The huge, insanely fun watch party we got to throw!  Of course we HAD to make cupcakes for everyone to eat while watching so we made three of the four kinds of cupcakes that we made on the show (Red Velvet, Take 5 and Bananas Foster).  And we did not make just enough for everyone to have one measly little cupcake…no, no we made 750 cupcakes…enough for every person there to have one of EACH cupcake.  Insane!

Here are some fun photos from the night…

Frosting the Bananas Foster with that AMAZING brown sugar buttercream.
The Take 5 Cupcake--chocolate cake, salted caramel filling, peanut butter buttercream, topped with pretzels, peanuts and chocolate bark! The clear favorite of the night.
Doesn't she just look so cute and innocent?? Don't be fooled! Caught her red-handed (pawed?) chowing down on a box of Red Velvet cupcakes!
The BIG cupcake display!
More cupcakes!
Crammed into the living room....
...and the bedroom...and a few other rooms. Hah!
Hmmm, which one (or five) do I want???
The big, blow-up outside screen didn't quite work out. There was too much sunlight to see the screen! Bummer. 🙁
Another angle of the living room.
There we are!! Go Red's Cupcakes!

All in all, I think Red’s Cupcakes definitely brought it and yeah, TOTALLY should have won.  But hey, you can’t win ’em all and in the end I think our cupcakes were beautiful, our display was amazing and we gave it our all so we’re proud of what we did!  Robyn will forever reign as Cupcake Goddess and I, the Candy Queen!!  Hah!

Thanks to everyone who watched and cheered us on and for all your support!!  Love and appreciate each and every one of you!

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The Best of Brunch for Father’s Day

Photo Credit: Foodbeast.com

Brunch, it’s what every dad wants.  Trust me on this.  Sure, when you ask him what he wants for Father’s Day he’ll throw out the usual grilling/golfing/fishing ideas, but what do men REALLY want??  Food.  Homemade, from scratch, fill-your-belly FOOD.

Now I know that typically the word “brunch” invokes thoughts of girly tea rooms and fine china and quiche and ya know, things that don’t sound too manly.  But throw in a couple meats (bacon, sausage, etc) and some kind of breakfast casserole (one with eggs and hashbrowns and loads of cheese and absolutely NO vegetables…unless it’s jalapenos..those are manly) and brunch is no longer just for the ladies.

And I’m sorry, but it just wouldn’t be brunch without something sweet.  Luckily, I have a few recipes that would fit the bill for any dad’s mid-morning sweet tooth.  Like these Mini Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins.

Or maybe he’s a health nut…this Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola is uber-healthy and most importantly delicious.  Great plain, with milk or over greek yogurt with fresh berries.  Yum.

For the chocoholic, these Triple Chocolate Muffins will totally give him his fix.

Another healthy AND gluten-free option–Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins.

Lastly, Berry Bread Pudding (minus the ice cream..I mean, this IS breakfast after all).  My personal favorite.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these options.  Pick one (or two!) and get to baking!

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Dad’s Like Cupcakes Too

And cookies.  And cake.  And brownies.  And…well, you get the idea.  Sometimes dad’s even like to get in the kitchen and show-off their baking skills!  If your dad falls into any of these categories, may I suggest some of the following gifts and ideas, perfect for Father’s Day?

I think every dessert-loving dad should own this shirt.  Ok, scratch that–every REAL MAN should own this shirt.

Real Men Can Bake apron.  Says it all.

These beer themed sugar cookies are soooo cute.  Oh, maybe cute is the wrong word…probably not very manly.  Oh well.

He likes pancakes?  And bacon?  And beer?  No problem–he can have all three for breakfast!  Nothing says “love ya, dad” like Beer and Bacon Pancakes.

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Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cupcakes

I’ve got your dessert for Father’s Day.  Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cupcakes.  Also known as, the manliest of manly cupcakes in the history of mankind.  Ok, at least that’s MY take on them.  And I think my husband would agree also.  And any other man that has the extreme pleasure of tasting one of these amazing cupcakes.  They combine what I understand to be essential manly ingredients such as peanuts, pretzels and beer and turn a cupcake into something a REAL man is not ashamed to eat.  ‘Cause really…cupcakes are cute!  And what man eats something cute??  I know of none.

I will be honest–you could just stop with the chocolate stout cake.  The cake recipe makes a little more batter than is needed for the cupcakes so I ended up having five cupcakes that were only chocolate cake and uuummmm, yeah…AH-mazing.  I topped one with some simple homemade whipped cream and it was out of this world.  Just an idea if you don’t want to bother with the peanut butter cheesecake.  But may I suggest you bother??  Because it really is worth it.  The combination of the whipped chocolate ganache buttercream, chocolate stout cake and creamy peanut butter cheesecake is just out of this world.

Really, truly the PERFECT treat for any dad on Father’s Day.  Make them.  You will automatically become his favorite child.  Promise.

Chocolate Stout Cake recipe adapted from Epicurious 

Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Stout Cake
  • ¾ c. Guinness Extra Stout
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules dissolved in ¼ c. Warm Water
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 c. White Sugar
  • 1½ t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c., plus 2 T. Sour Cream
Peanut Butter Cheesecake
  • 1 lb. (2, 8 oz. pkgs) Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¾ c. Firmly Packed, Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ¼ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs, room temperature
Whipped Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1½ c. Bittersweet/Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Sticks Unsalted Butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened
  • ½ c. Crushed Pretzels
  • ½ c. Chopped, Dry-Roasted Peanuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 35 regular size muffin tins with cupcake liners.
For the Chocolate Stout Cake
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring stout, coffee and butter to a simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sour cream just until blended.
  3. Add stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined, taking care the stout mixture is cool enough that it will not cook the eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake
  1. Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the brown sugar, peanut butter, heavy whipping cream and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined.
  2. Place a scant 2 T. peanut butter cheesecake in the bottom of 30 of the muffin tins. Top with 2 T. of the chocolate stout cake. Bake for 20 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
  1. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy whipping cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate chips and let set for one minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is smooth and melted completely. Stir in vanilla. Beat the chocolate mixture on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.
  2. Frost each cupcake with a VERY generous amount of frosting (I did a very thick layer of frosting) and top with crushed pretzels and chopped peanuts. Refrigerate overnight and let set out at least 5 minutes before eating.
Notes
Makes 30 chocolate stout and peanut butter cheesecake cupcakes and 5 chocolate stout cupcakes. Note: I made the chocolate stout mixture first, then the cheesecake and then finished the cake, just so the chocolate stout mixture had time to cool adequately.

 

 

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Chocolate Malt Brownies

Two things were in my mind when I came up with these brownies:  1. Father’s Day and 2. Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.  I actually made these a couple of weeks ago for a Memorial Day get together with my family and because I knew my parents would be making and bringing their famous homemade vanilla ice cream to the dinner, I wanted something super chocolate and decadent to go with it.  And I knew Father’s Day was around the corner and what dad doesn’t love chocolate??  I don’t know any.

I didn’t do much searching before I came across a recipe from Betty Crocker for Milk Chocolate Malt Brownies.  I rarely search for something online and choose the first thing that pops up but with these I thought, why not?  I didn’t want to spend hours looking for what I thought might be the “perfect” recipe and it’s Betty Crocker…how can you go wrong?  Of course I made a couple of minor changes and topped my brownies with a super decadent dark chocolate malt frosting.  If you’re thinking, “Wow Sarah, these sound rich and ridiculously good”…yes, you’d be right.  They are ridiculously good.  A little goes a long way, trust me.  And I will tell you the longer these set, the softer/better they become.  Although the malt balls on top do get chewy…but I kind of like ’em like that.

These are great for your dad, your uncle, grandpa, brother, nephew…whoever you know and love who also happens to be a dad!  Nothing says love and thanks like homemade brownies!

Chocolate Malt Brownies
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Malt Brownies
  • 12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules
  • ¾ c. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1¾ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Malted Milk Powder (plain, NOT chocolate)
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Salt
Chocolate Malt Frosting*
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 6 T. Whole Milk or Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1½ c. Malted Milk Powder (plain, NOT chocolate)
  • 5 oz. Whoppers or other Malted Milk Balls, coarsely chopped
Instructions
For the Brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips, butter and instant coffee granules in a large bowl in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder and salt and gently fold into the chocolate mixture, just until there are no white streaks and the flour mixture is incorporated. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Chocolate Malt Frosting
  1. Beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Slowly beat 2 cups of the powdered sugar until thoroughly incorporated. Beat in 3 tablespoons of the milk or heavy whipping cream and the vanilla. Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar and milk/heavy whipping cream. Beat in the cocoa and malted milk powder at low speed and then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Spread frosting over cooled brownies and sprinkle with chopped Whoppers or other malted milk balls.
Notes
Makes 12-15 brownies. *This makes a very thick layer of frosting so if you'd prefer less, I'd suggest making half of the frosting recipe.

 

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