Key Lime Pie

I cannot, CANNOT let summer go by without making a key lime pie.   It is the quintessential summer dessert, in my opinion.  Tart, sweet and creamy with a crumbly graham cracker crust…just divine.  The best slice I’ve ever had is at a place called the Donut Hole in Destin, FL (who also happen to have AMAZING doughnuts…duh) where we’d vacation every summer when I was a kid.  The anticipation of the one slice of pie was unbelievable and I would savor every last bite knowing I wouldn’t get it again for another 364 days.  But now that I’m all grown up I can make my own, wherever and whenever I want!  Ah, perks of being an adult.

Now I know many people are big advocates of juicing a bunch of those cute little key limes to get the perfect key lime flavor for their pie, but I happen to really like Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice.  I love the flavor it gives my pies and yes, I’ve done it both ways and honestly can’t tell a difference.  Maybe I’m just not enough of a snob but hey, it works and this pie gets rave reviews every time I make it.  Oh and did I mention it’s a breeze to whip up?  Because it totally is!  Enjoy!

4.5 from 4 reviews
Key Lime Pie
 
Ingredients
Key Lime Pie
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 Egg Yolks, beaten
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 c. Key Lime Juice
  • Juice and Zest of one Large Lime
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Whipped Cream
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Key Lime Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, lime juice and zest, and vanilla. Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack and then in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Garnish with homemade whipped cream.
For the Whipped Cream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream until thick and stiff. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Pipe onto key lime pie.
Notes
Serves 8-10.

 

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Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

Not so long ago I made my first batch of gluten-free brownies.  While good, they relied heavily (as in it’s the main ingredient) on an absurd amount of almond butter.  Not that I’m complaining..I love almond butter and could (and do!) eat it by the spoonful and as an ingredient in many baked goods.  However, it made for one calorie-laden gluten-free brownie.  So since I had also been experimenting with chickpeas in my baking lately (like these awesome Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookies) and wondered if I could use them for some of the almond butter in this recipe.

The results?  Fabulous.  The chickpeas produced a slightly softer, cake-like brownie with the same richness as the original recipe.  And I love that it cut back on the fat and calories while injecting a good amount of fiber.  I took these to a dinner and people preferred these over the totally NOT healthy frosted sugar cookies I brought and were asking for the recipe!  Yep, a keeper.

Enjoy!

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Organic Almond Butter (no salt, oil, sugar etc added)
  • 1 c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas processed in a food processor until smooth with ¼ c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1½ T. Vanilla
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules dissolved in 2 T. Hot Water
  • ½ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (or whatever you have)
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chips or English Walnuts, etc (try to find chocolate chips that are not made with refined sugar, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond butter and chickpea/almond milk mixture on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey, vanilla and coffee. Beat in cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Spread batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Makes 24 brownies.

 

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Dark Cherry Fruit Leather Roll-Ups

As stated in previous posts, I am loving all the fruit this summer.  I can’t say it enough.  I don’t know if I just forgot how good berries and cherries and melons were or if it’s the fact that we are consciously trying to eat more fresh fruit, but everything is just sooooo good this year.  And as usual when the cherries show up in the store, I find myself standing in front of them, debating wether or not to spend the money and get some.  Like, every. time.  I will seriously stand, debate, put some in my cart, put them back, stand there some more, see if I can cut something else from my grocery list then resign myself to the fact that they are a little too pricey and slowly walk away.  How sad is that?!?  So when I found some gorgeous cherries at Braum’s (of all places!) on sale for a ridiculous price, I snatched them up.

Of course I initially wanted to eat all of them right away.  But then I saw this recipe for fruit leather from Baked by Rachel and that was it–I KNEW what I was doing with those cherries.  I was nervous since I’ve wanted to make fruit leather, gummies, etc before but have always been scared of leaving my oven on for 15 hours and not having it turn out and some people said it worked, some said it didn’t so I just never tried but this time I was going for it!  Of course, I STILL put the leather in my oven a little too late in the evening for the five hours baking required and ended up waiting until 12:30 at night to pull it out of the oven.  Yes, I’m 31 and that’s late for me.  Anyway…

I pulled it out and knew immediately it wasn’t coming off the parchment paper.  Ok, not to panic.  Haha, yeah right, I totally panicked.  And then I went to bed.  That’s right, I went to bed and FORGOT about the fruit leather sitting on top of my stove.  And you know what?  It worked!  Apparently setting the pans out in the open air overnight for about eight hours was the right thing to do because the next day I was able to slice and VERY GENTLY peel them off the parchment paper!  Sweet!  And wow, are these things amazing!!!  Jeremy loves them, I love them and my niece and nephew love them (and the kid test is the true test if you ask me).  I totally plan on making them again but trying a different fruit and subbing sucanat for the sugar so they are a little more healthy.

Have fun!

Dark Cherry Fruit Leather Roll-Ups
 
Ingredients
  • 5 c. Dark Bing Cherries, pitted
  • ¼ c. plus 1 T. Water
  • ⅓ c. plus 2 T. Sugar in the Raw (or granulated sugar which is what the original recipe calls for)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine cherries and water and bring to a boil over high heat, cooking and stirring until all the cherries are soft and have broken down a bit. It will take about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth (mine had the tiniest pieces of cherry left in it and I actually loved it). Return to saucepan, add sugar and cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between the two baking sheets. Use an offset spatula or the back of a large wooden spoon to spread the mixture as evenly and thin as possible without the white of the parchment paper coming though. Spots that are not thin enough, may not cook/dry completely (I had one small spot like that but it wasn't a big deal).
  5. Bake in the oven, rotating pans every hour for 5 hours or until just slightly tacky. Remove from oven and let air dry on the baking sheets for at least 8 hours.
  6. With the parchment paper, lift and move the fruit leather sheets onto a cutting board. Using a pizza slicer (or extremely sharp knife), cut the sheets into 6 strips each (for a total of 12 strips). Starting at the edge of one sheet, gently peel the leather away from the parchment and roll up. Wrap a piece of parchment around each roll-up and secure with string or tape. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 12 fruit leather roll-ups.

 

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Chocolate, Cupcakes and….Dehydrators?

My birthday weekend has come and gone.  I ate some good food, opened gifts and had quality family time.  Oh!  I even managed to see a movie–The Amazing Spiderman.  It was…ok.  Lots of action, some suspense and no girly, mushy, lovey, dovey romance junk, so that’s good.  I even got to indulge in my favorite concrete creation of vanilla custard, Oreo, brownies and cherry juice (courtesy of my hubby’s genius) at Andy’s.

As for the gifts, here’s a quick little roundup of some fun things I got…

A dehydrator!!!!  We’re getting into a raw food diet in our household and upon further research, I’ve discovered dehydrators are used in a LOT of recipes.  Unfortunately, this one gets a little too hot to be considered “raw” so I’m getting another new one!  (and yes, I do see the irony in posting about our new raw diet on my dessert blog).  Oh and a new cookie spatula!  Very exciting since mine went missing a couple months ago.  Yes, these are the things I get excited about.

Fun little mug and some Russell Stover raspberry cheesecake filled chocolates…yum.

Ice cream books!!  I am so excited about these.  I’ve had a huge urge to make my own ice cream the past couple of months and cannot WAIT to try out some of these recipes.

Technically not food but how could I not share these with a name like Pink Sugar?  This is my favorite perfume/body wash/lotion ever.  I get compliments on it every time.

And thanks to my in-laws and parents, I’ll be purchasing a bigger, badder food processor in the near future so no picture of that yet, but soon, very soon.

It was truly a great weekend and I wish I could do it all over again….every weekend!  Haha.  I’m blessed to have such great family and friends to celebrate with and thankful for all the love they showed me!

 

 

 

 

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Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Streusel Topping

I can’t seem to get enough of the amazing fresh fruit from our farmer’s market this summer.  I find myself buying more than I can possibly eat before it goes bad, but I try!  Peaches, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon…there’s just so much summertime goodness right now.  And I couldn’t let the whole summer go by without making a cobbler!  This recipe was super easy to throw together.  I had it in the oven in 30 minutes and it only took another 30 to bake up.

I did make a couple of changes.  I wanted some oats in my streusel so I cut back on the amount of pecans and also used less blackberries because the ones that I got were so amazingly sweet, I couldn’t bare to use them all in the cobbler.  They were way to good just eaten fresh.  But I still liked having a few scattered throughout the cobbler.  It was perfect, in my opinion and totally hit the spot, warm and gooey out of the oven with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Streusel Topping
 
Ingredients
Streusel
  • ¾ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Pecans, toasted
  • ½ c. Thick-Rolled Oats
Filling
  • 5 c. Fresh Peaches, sliced (about 5 large peaches)
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 3 T. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 1 c. Fresh Blackberries
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease a 9x9 pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the Streusel
  1. Stir together the brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour, pecans and oats until blended. Set aside.
For Filling
  1. In a large saucepan, stir together peaches, flour, sugar and nutmeg over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, leave over medium heat until juices have thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in blackberries. spoon mixture into pan. Crumble streusel mixture over hot peach mixture.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
Notes
Serves 12

 

 

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Baking with Zucchini

Hi friends!  To follow up my majorly delicious (and healthy!) zucchini bread recipe, I thought I’d share even MORE recipes for baking with zucchini!  Just in case your garden overfloweth like so many people I know.  If you see more than you can bake at the moment, not a problem!  Just freeze your grated zucchini and thaw it out at a later time.  And I’ve included a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy recipes so there are options for everyone!

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread by Bittersweet Blog

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache by the Repressed Pastry Chef

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins by Florida Coastal Cooking

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by My Baking Addiction

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches by The Hall Family Blog

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting by Brown Eyed Baker

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins by Eating Clean Recipes

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries by Two Peas and Their Pod

 

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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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