Bakery Review – Sara Sara Cupcakes in Oklahoma City

Jeremy and I took a whirlwind trip to Oklahoma City this weekend.  The original purpose of the trip was to visit a little candy shop I have been eyeing online for what seems like forever called Pinkitzel.  From what I had seen of their website, this place seemed like a candy lovers dream and their decor was right up my alley–pink, white, black and Rococo everywhere!!  I was absolutely in love.  I had to go.  NOW.  So we decided to do it and after realizing it would take nearly 5 hours to make the drive, we booked a hotel.  Well, at least I thought we had booked a hotel. Jeremy surprised me by booking a B&B just outside of the Tulsa area.  It was so sweet…I think I’ll keep him. 😉

So knowing that we didn’t have to rush back and could just do whatever on Saturday, I immediately looked up other places around OKC we could get our sugar fix at.  I found a few cupcake places and narrowed it down to one and then also discovered another candy shop and a chocolate shop.  Fun!

We set out early (5:30!) Saturday morning and made it just in time for our first destination to open up.  Sara Sara Cupcakes is located in an old, historic party of Oklahoma City…and it is SO ADORABLE.  The house is quite aged, probably built in the early 1900’s which of course only adds to the charm.  They’ve painted the doors pink and the inside is totally white and clean/modern looking.  I loved it.

 As for the cupcakes, they were HUGE which made sense since they were $3.59 each.  I kind of freaked out about the price (however would I be able to try  my regular half dozen?!), but then I was informed that on that day they were 3 for $9…not bad!

So it was decision time…I hate this part!  I am HORRIBLE at making decisions, especially when it comes to dessert and I was struggling.  I can’t tell you how many times the employees at these places stare at me like I’m crazy while I stand in front of their bakery cases looking constipated and Jeremy is flitting around taking pictures.  Yeah…we probably look insane.  But oh well, all in the name of research!  So I managed to decide, with some input from Jeremy, and we came up with the following delightful cupcakes:  Coconut Cream, Crimson & Cream and Judge Joe Cannon.  I will say up front that these cupcakes are delicious and straightforward.  They were all homey and just good.  Nothing fancy or over the top.  Cake and frosting.  That being said, here’s the breakdown of each one.

Our least favorite was the Crimson & Cream.  And not because it was bad!  It definitely was not bad, it was just not our favorite.  The red velvet cake was the perfect buttermilk, red velvet cake…so moist and the cocoa was just barely noticeable.  Like red velvet should be.  Topped with a delicious, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting and chocolate shavings.  We liked it a lot.

Our next favorite was the Judge Joe Cannon, a banana cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chunks of Snickers.  I personally LOVED this banana cupcake because it was actually a super thick and dense banana bread.  Oh, it was soooo good.  However, the frosting was totally a let down…it was not a buttercream but more like a whipped topping that was greasy and slightly grainy.  I was really bummed about it because I loved the cake part so much.

And our absolute favorite was the Coconut Cream.   A delicious and moist chocolate cake topped with a milk chocolate frosting and yummy toasted coconut.  Loved it.

 

 Such a great start to the weekend!  If you are in the area, definitely pick up some cupcakes from them!

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No-Bake Peach Mimosa Cheesecake Bars

I am so, so, SO excited to share this recipe with you guys.  I was trying really hard to come up with a peach recipe that wasn’t a pie or crisp and man, was I having some serious inspiration issues on this one.  I wanted something cheesecake-y but NOT baked…the less oven time in the summer, the better, you know what I mean?  So I finally had an idea for something fresh and light and just overall yummy.  I can honestly say that these peach cheesecake bars are one of my favorite things I have ever made, if not THE favorite thing.  Yeah.  Good.  Really, really, really, good.

The recipe started with this brilliant idea I had for a boozy peach sauce and then it evolved from there to include a buttery, crumbly (but not too crumbly!) shortbread crust and thick, creamy no-bake cheesecake filling.  I have to say I could have stopped with the peach sauce…I literally was licking the spoon on this one.  It has the perfect combination of warm spices, peach and citrus.  Divine.  Add in the no-bake cheesecake factor and this is pretty much the perfect summer dessert.

I can tell I will be making LOTS of trips to my farmer’s market this summer. 🙂

No-Bake Peach Mimosa Cheesecake Bars
 
Ingredients
Champagne Soaked Peach Sauce
Shortbread Crust
  • 2¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ⅓ c., plus 2 T. Granulated Sugar
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1½ Sticks Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into small chunks
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans
Cheesecake Filling
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 7 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 oz. Whipped Topping (i.e. Cool Whip)
Instructions
For the Peach Sauce
  1. Make recipe as instructed previously for Champagne Soaked Peach Sauce (recipe was posted on May 30th), letting the peaches drain on a wire rack onto a cookie sheet. Make the sauce as instructed.
For the Shortbread Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil, letting the foil hang over the edges to use as "handles". Grease the foil.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Work in the butter with a fork or your hands (I prefer to use my hands) until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the eggs and vanilla until all ingredients are mixed together and then fold in the pecans.
  3. Gently press the mixture evenly unto the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool completely. In the meantime, make the cheesecake filling.
For the Cheesecake Filling
  1. In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Fold in the whipped topping.
To Assemble
  1. Using the foil "handles", left the completely cool crust from the pan and gently place the crust on a large platter/plate. Spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the crust. Place the crust and filling in the fridge or freezer (I used my freezer) for about 10-15 minutes in order to allow the cheesecake filling to firm up slightly.
  2. Remove from the fridge or freezer and top the dessert with the drained peach slices (as seen in the pictures) and cut into squares. Drizzle each square with peach sauce.
Notes
Makes 12-15 squares.

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Ice Cream Goodies

The days have been getting noticeably warmer lately…as in it feels like July and it’s only May kind of warmer.  And just about every day around 2:30 in the afternoon I start craving ice cream.  Ugh.  I then have to play referee between Good, Healthy, Angelic Sarah and Dessert Loving, Devil Sarah (umm, yeah that’s what it feels like!).  Thankfully, most days I am able to rationalize myself out of NOT eating Andy’s Frozen Custard for dinner.  And can I just say that is quite the feat when they are less than half a mile from your house?!  Don’t think I haven’t thought “hey, I’ll just walk there and that totally justifies eating it!”  Because I have.  Oh, I have.

So ice cream remains a treat, like it should.  And because I’ve got ice cream on the brain, I looked up some fun ice cream recipes online and wanted to share with you all.  Tell me these don’t get you drooling?!?

First, Key Lime Pie Ice Cream from yours truly.  I loooooove this stuff.  It totally transports me to Florida and white sandy beaches.  Ahhhhhh.

This recipe is from kevinandamanda.com and it’s for Homemade Ice Cream…WITHOUT an ice cream maker.  How brilliant is this??  Love how they do four different variations with the same ice cream base.

Nutella Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream by Kevin and Amanda

Next up are these Confetti Ice Cream Pops from Country Living.  I love that you don’t have to have a special ice cream popsicle mold…just use small paper cups!  Brilliant.

Confetti Ice Cream Pops by Country Living

While not quite ice cream per se, an ice box cake is a frozen treat that I have been wanting to try FOREVER.  And this recipe for a No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake has inspired me to finally do it!  It’s just so pretty.

No-Bake Strawberry Ice Box Cake by theKitchn

Chocolate Covered Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich.  Want.  Now.

Chocolate Covered Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich by Good Life Eats

Mint and chocolate are one of my weaknesses which makes this Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake oh so very tempting to me.  I think if I try it, I’ll use a boxed Devil’s Food Cake mix, just to save some precious time.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake by Southern Living

And last, but certainly not least, Almond Milk Ice Cream.  Jeremy and I have cut dairy from our everyday diet and I have been dying to try a recipe for almond milk ice cream.  This one looks good and I think I’ll try making it in my ice cream machine after mixing all the ingredients together and letting them chill.  I’ll definitely post my results on here!

Almond Milk Ice Cream by The Science of Eating

 

 

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Honey Almond Date Balls

Memorial Day weekend is coming, bringing with it lots and lots and LOTS of food.  And I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but here it’s in the 90s already!  And you know what that means…pools.  And lakes.  And…bikinis.  Yes, it’s already swimsuit season!  Yikes!  Are you ready?!?  It kinda snuck up on me, I gotta admit, but I am trying to incorporate more and more natural sweets (as in honey, fruits, etc) into our diet so we don’t look like the michelin man when we bare it all at the first water-type event this year.  Of course, can’t do anything about the whiteness (trying to avoid that pesky skin caner) but we CAN do something about the shape of our bodies and our overall health!

(Sorry, little peptalk for myself there.  Ahem.  Ok, back to the recipe…)

If you are watching what goes in your mouth this weekend (like me and my husband) and are kinda scared about the next 72 hours of festivities and merriment, may I suggest these Honey Almond Date Balls as a sweet and healthy alternative?  You might want to double or triple the batch because once people taste them, they will want more.  Seriously.  Jeremy doesn’t even like coconut and he LOVES these things.  I left the recipe alone for the most part except instead of rolling the balls in more almonds, I rolled them in unsweetened coconut.

We love ’em.

We’ve made a double batch for this weekend.

We’re ready to battle the crazy food war.

BRING IT.

Original recipe by David Lieberman

Honey Almond Date Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Raw Almonds (do 2 cups if you plan on rolling the balls in almonds)
  • 2 c. Pitted Dates, preferably Medjool
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey
  • ⅓ c. Dried, Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grind almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and a shade darker.
  3. Roughly chop dates and add to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and dates form a ball. Remove from processor to a bowl. And the almonds and honey to the dates. Mix together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Using a damp washcloth to dampen your hands periodically, for the mixture into 1" balls and roll in the coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or transfer to the fridge and they will keep for a couple of weeks.
Notes
Makes 25 balls.

 

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Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins

Every time I walk into the grocery store lately, all the beautiful berries are calling my name. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are just begging to be bought right now and I just had to find a recipe that I could use some of them in.  I was struggling to find something that wasn’t a pie or layered cake when all the sudden I remembered a recipe I had made years ago for Strawberry Almond Muffins.  I also remembered it was very good so I thought maybe I’d give it a shot…but with a few changes, of course. 😉

Instead of strawberries I decided to use blackberries and also wanted to add some white chocolate.  The original recipe called for all-purpose and whole wheat flour but I wanted a slightly lighter muffin so I went with cake flour in place of the whole wheat.  What resulted was one of the most delicious, tender and tastiest muffins ever!  Now you could say this muffin was verging on cupcake status but hey, I see nothing wrong with that!  All I know is I loved these and if you need a recipe to use up some berries, I encourage you to try this one!  Feel free to substitute raspberries or sliced strawberries, if you’d prefer.  You really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.

Enjoy!

Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Almond Extract
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Cake Flour
  • 1½ T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Sliced, Toasted Almonds
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 c. Blackberries (or more if you'd like)
Instructions
  1. Line 2, 12-cup regular muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Beat ⅓ of the flour mixture until the butter/sugar mixture, then beat in half the milk. Beat in another ⅓ of the flour. Beat in the final half of the milk and then the last ⅓ of the flour. Fold in white chocolate chips and almonds. Very gently fold in the blackberries and divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins (some of mine were quite full so you could probably get more like 25-28 muffins out of this recipe).
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack or eat while they are still a bit warm...they are VERY good like that. (I topped mine with a little white chocolate and single blackberry for the photos..up to you if you want to do that but be sure they have cooled completely if you do.)
Notes
Makes 24, regular size muffins.

 

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Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

This was my first time making anything sweet with quinoa and can I just say, I am forever changed!  Knowing that I can incorporate something into my desserts that is so nutritious and protein packed, is revolutionary.  Not kidding.  I was definitely skeptical how this would work, but once you mix all these ingredients together, you don’t even know the quinoa is there…all you know is that these balls are DELICIOUS.

I found this recipe on the eat, live, run blog.  I used her original recipe but once I had everything mixed up, it was VERY loose and absolutely not sticking together.  I might have done something wrong…who knows?  But I still thought the mixture tasted AMAZING and decided to just add some more stuff and hope it would come together.  The recipe was originally gluten-free but to get it to stick together I had to throw in some white whole wheat flour (which is the only one I had on hand).  You could use another type of gluten-free flour though if you have issues with gluten.

In the end, the balls stuck together nicely and tasted sooooo yummy.  They seriously remind me of an oatmeal cookie and are definitely my new favorite healthy sweet treat…well, after my No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats.  Those things can’t be beat.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats, dry
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa
  • 1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (or whole wheat pastry, almond flour, etc)
  • ½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • ⅓ c., plus 2 T. Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • ⅔ c. Dried, Unsweetened Dark Tart Cherries
  • ⅔ c., plus 2 T. Agave
  • ¼ c. Organic, All-Natural Peanut Butter (no added salt, oil)
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I use pink himalayan)
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats and next five ingredients. In a small pot on the stove, bring the agave to a simmer over medium/low. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and mix well until combined. Let cool. Add mini chocolate chips into mixture. Form into 1" balls with your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

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Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe was inspired my two things:  1.  The abundance of strawberries AND strawberry recipes right now and 2. my brand spankin’ new cupcake carrier!  That’s right, I FINALLY am the proud owner of a collapsible cupcake carrier (yes, I had to improvise for quite awhile to transport them!) all thanks to my boss.  A couple of weeks ago it was Administrative Assistant’s Day and my boss was out of town so obviously I knew I wouldn’t get anything and it wasn’t a big deal to me.  But he got back the Friday of that week and when I came back from lunch, this beauty was sitting on my desk.  Ain’t she purty?  And can I just say this thing ROCKS??  It’s both a cake and a cupcake carrier.  I was a little skeptical it would work, but it totally does and I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one yet!

As for the recipe, do you know how hard it is to find a strawberry cake recipe that doesn’t call for strawberry Jello and a white cake mix?  It’s dang near impossible!  But a couple of years ago and did manage to find one and for the life of me I can’t remember the website I got the recipe from but all I know is it’s titled Katie’s Strawberry Cake, so whoever Katie is, thank you!!  I was so happy when I found the recipe that I made it three times within two weeks…yes, it’s that good.

The method of this cake is a little different because you beat the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the liquid but have no doubt, it totally works.  I absolutely loved these cupcakes…there were small pieces of fresh strawberry in every other bite and the chocolate cream cheese frosting was to-die-for.  The only thing I’d do different is maybe just leave the chocolate out of the frosting next time and do a plain, vanilla cream cheese frosting, as the strawberry cake is such a delicate flavor it almost overpowers it.  But it’s still delicious.

If you are looking for a true “from scratch” strawberry cake, look no further!  This one definitely fits the bill.

Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Strawberry Cupcakes
  • 1 c. Strawberry Puree, room temperature (see below for recipe)
  • ¼ c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2¼ c. Cake Flour
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 12 T. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into 1" chunks
Strawberry Puree
  • 2 c. Sliced Strawberries
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Crisco
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
Instructions
For the Strawberry Puree
  1. Place strawberries and sugar in food processor or blender and puree.
For the Strawberry Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, egg, vanilla and whisk well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk thoroughly. Beat the butter into the dry ingredients on low speed and mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
  3. Add liquids to the butter/flour mixture and beat a medium speed for about one minutes or until evenly combined. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 30 more seconds. Place three tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin.
  4. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for a few minutes and then remove from pans and let cool completely.
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter, shortening, cream cheese, salt and extracts on medium speed until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar and then the melted chocolate and beat until combined (do NOT overbeat or the cream cheese will break down). Frost cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Notes
Makes 24 cupcakes.

 

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Sweet This and That

As you can see, I couldn’t really come up with a title for this somewhat random post.  Sometimes inspiration or whatever you want to call it just doesn’t strike and you have to call it what it is!  Hence, the title.

If you remember, back in March I visited my good friend Joelle and we had the BEST time shopping and eating our weight in cupcakes (see pics here, here, here and here).  And she also had the sweetest goodie bag waiting for me when I got to my room…it was packed full of my favorite sweet treats such as cayenne covered dried mango, dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts, gourmet hot cocoa and some other fun dessert-themed treats which I wanted to share!

I believe most of these came from World Market so if you have one near you, check it out for these items.

White Chocolate Mousse Body Wash and Body Butter.  Smells heavenly.  Trust me on this.

Cupcake Bath Fizz.  I love this little thing.  But it’s so cute I don’t want to use it!  What to do?!

Cupcake Mints.  The BEST way to “freshen” your breath.

This is a shirt I actually got at Kohl’s.  Had to share!  (Yes…I am FULLY aware that I am 30 and wearing Hello Kitty…and I don’t care!)

And these are my current obsession.  Believe it or not, I had never made cake pops until about a month ago but I LOVE making them and they are sooooo yummy.

Well, thanks for visiting and checking out my randomness!  Hope it made you smile. 🙂

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Sugar Cookie Bars

If you’re like me and LOVE frosted sugar cookies but don’t have the patience for the whole rolling and cutting part, I have a solution!  A completely delicious solution.  I had seen recipes online for sugar cookie bars but all the ones I was finding called for an absurd amount of flour (5 cups!), etc and a huge baking pan that I didn’t have and there was no way I was going to go look for and buy one just for this recipe.  So I played with the amounts of ingredients and am happy to report that I hit it out of the ball park on the first try!  These sugar cookies are made in a 9×13 pan and are absolutely, incredibly, amazingly YUMMY.  I love almond so I added that flavor.  If you’re not an almond fan, feel free to substitute more vanilla extract.  These bars and soft and slightly chewy and in my opinion perfect in every single way.  To say I had a couple would be an understatement…but we won’t get into that.

Hope you love them as much as I did!

Sugar Cookie Bars
 
Ingredients
Sugar Cookie Bars
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ t. Almond Extract
  • 3¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
Almond Buttercream
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 3 t. Almond Extract
  • 1½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 3 T. Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
Instructions
For the Sugar Cookie Bars
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and almond and mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. And to butter/sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Spread into baking pan.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick/tester comes out clean (mine were done closer to 15 minutes). Cool completely and frost.
For the Almond Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then add heavy whipping cream and beat until smooth. Spread onto cooled sugar cookie bars.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

 

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two

A little over a month ago I posted this recipe for some scrumptious no-bake peanut butter bites.  Since that time I have tinkered with the recipe just a bit and Jeremy and I now have a new favorite healthy sweet treat.  We both agree that these taste just like no-bake cookies except, of course, without the butter, refined sugar and all the other not so good for you stuff.  These are so delicious and so easy, all made in one big bowl.  We love them and think you will too!

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. All-Natural, Organic Peanut Butter
  • ⅔ c. Raw Honey
  • 1½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ t. Fine Sea Salt (recommend pink himalayan)
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ¼ c. Wheat Germ
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ c. Cocoa
  • ¼ c. All-Natural Chocolate Protein Powder (or just use more cocoa)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ, white whole wheat flour, cocoa and chocolate protein powder (if using) and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

 

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Cinco de Mayo Cupcakes

Hey guys!  In case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday!  I know the day is typically celebrated with LOTS of alcohol and good food but may I suggest a cupcake?  I’ve got a few drool-worthy options and yes, even a couple with a bit of alcohol thrown in!  The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake is my top pick to make…anything with cayenne and chocolate is a MUST make for me.  It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations!

How do YOU celebrate Cinco de Mayo??

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by cheekykitchen.com

Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by browneyedbaker.com

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Photo by bakersroyale.com

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by kokocooks.blogspot.com

Churro Cupcakes

Photo by dishingthedivine.com
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No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Ok, that title is a little misleading…it is kind of a baked pie, at least the crust is baked.  But it stays in the oven for such a short amount of time it hardly counts, hence I christen this pie, no-bake!

I dreamed up this concoction when brainstorming what to make my fabulous sister-in-law Rachel (of foodierachel.com!) for her birthday.  I wanted it to be something that she would LOVE not just something that sounded good to me or a new dessert recipe I wanted to try.  So I thought of peanut butter first…and then banana, caramel and chocolate.  Yes, pretty sure all these ingredients met the “will Rachel love it?”  criteria!

I have to say this pie was AMAZING…just the right amount of peanut butter, chocolate, banana and caramel.  It is, however, very rich so one slice is more than enough!  I made a homemade salted caramel sauce from scratch which I think sent it over the top, but for the sake of simplicity I’d just buy a good-quality caramel sauce if I were you–unless you are feeling very ambitious!

It was a big hit at our family dinner and I’m already looking for an excuse to make this one again!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 c. High-Quality Caramel Sauce
  • 1½ Ripe Bananas, sliced into ½" pieces
  • 1, 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
  • 1½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1¼ c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. Milk
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 16 oz. Whipped Cream Topping
  • 6 T. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, melted
  • 2 T. Dry-Roasted Peanut Halves
Instructions
For the Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack (I did pop mine in the freezer for a few minutes to speed things up).
For the Filling
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until completely smooth. Add peanut butter, milk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in ¾ of the container of the whipped cream, until there are no white streaks left.
To Assemble
  1. Pour the caramel into the graham cracker crust and spread evenly. Place the banana slices in an even layer over the caramel. Spread the peanut butter filling evenly into the pan. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the dry-roasted peanuts. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Cover with foil and freeze for 4-5 hours until mixture is stiff. Slice and serve immediately.
Notes
Serves 12.

 

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Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies

There’s really not much that needs to be said about these bars except that they have lots of butter, lots of brown sugar, lots of cashews and oh yeah, they will melt in your mouth.  I really don’t think you could have a more perfect combination of more glorious things.  If cashews aren’t your nut of choice, I’d imagine you could swap them out with toasted pecans or macadamia nuts.

You can literally have these whipped up in no-time…although the cooking time is an entirely different matter.  The original recipe said 35-40 minutes but mine didn’t get done until the 50 minute mark.  So I’d say just start testing them around 40 minutes and keep an eye on ’em.

Perfect treat for a lazy Sunday evening…

Adapted from bakeorbreak.com

Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 c. Packed, Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 8 oz. Salted Cashew Halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the cashews.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining cashews, pressing down lightly with your hands. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Notes
Makes about 12 bars.

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DC Bakery Review #3: Baked & Wired

Hi friends!  Yes, I have yet ANOTHER bakery review from DC…after this post, it’s three down, one to go! Don’t know if you remember, but in my Sprinkles post I mentioned that a lady there gave us the heads up about a place called Baked & Wired and I am SO glad she did–this place rocked!  My first impression of the place when we got inside was that it reminded me of my favorite coffee shop here in Springfield, MO, the Mudhouse.  The same kind of dim, cool atmosphere, hardwood floors, hodge podge furniture…pretty much knew it was going to be awesome right away.

As for the desserts…holy cow, I don’t even know where to begin.  Honestly, I don’t!  They had a HUGE selection that was pretty much impossible for me to capture the vastness of with my little bitty iPhone camera.  But I tried!  Right when you walk in you are greeted with several jars of massive cookies, some made into cookie-wiches with a layer of frosting in between.  Then you move on and it’s just a sea of homemade brownies, bars, biscotti and possibly the biggest cupcakes I’ve ever seen.  I’m not joking.  They were seriously the size of a small potting plant container…which come to think of it might be what they baked them in!

Everything was very reasonably priced, in my opinion.  The cupcakes were $4 each (worth it for how huge they were) and totally delicious.  The cake was super dense and moist, very reminiscent of a pound cake, and the frosting was thick, creamy and just plain good.  We LOVED them.  We also tried a couple of bars, a brownie and a cookie–all amazing!  I want to go back!  Too bad they’re in DC.  Or maybe it’s for the best.

Here are pictures of the goods with drool-worthy descriptions.  The only thing I didn’t get a picture of was the Mocha (chocolate cupcake with mocha buttercream) and The Flapjack (maple brown butter cupcake with caramel buttercream and candied bacon on top).  But you can use your imagination (which is probably higher quality than these camera pics–ugh).

Lemon Ginger Cookie: Two chewy ginger cookies with chunks of real ginger, sandwiched with lemon buttercream.
Phig Newton: Whole dates that have been cooked down with sugar, lemon juice, and spices to make yummy goo that is sandwiched in layers of homemade cookie crust.
Plain Jane Brownie: A straight up chocolaty brownie with the right amount of fudginess.
O.M.G. Bar: A graham cracker crust is layered with homemade caramel, marshmallow, and a bittersweet chocolate glaze.
Coconut: Vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream topped with lots of coconut.
Chocolate Cupcake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
The Tessita: Vanilla Cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate- hazelnut satin icing.
Elvis Impersonator AKA The Elvis: Banana cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting, drizzled with chocolate and topped with candy bacon..

So to wrap it up–this place ROCKS.  Delicious, sugary goodness…I highly encourage you to visit if you are in the DC area.  Oh, and I happened to find some pics that do the place justice.  You can see them here.

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Easter Desserts

Need some Easter inspiration?  I’ve got it!  Get your crafty on with these pretty pastel treats–delicious and cute!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Photo by creationsbykara.com

Crispy Easter Eggs

Photo by delish.com

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Photo by whatmegansmaking.com

Little Lamb Cupcakes

Photo by foodnetwork.com

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Photo by delish.com

Easter Candy Basket Cupcakes

Photo by bakerella.com

Easter Brownies

Photo by bettycrocker.com

Rice Krispie Treat Bird’s Nests

Photo by kidscooking.about.com

Floral Cake

Photo by delish.com

 

 

 

 

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Springtime Sweets Roundup

Spring is here!  Or is it summer??  It’s already 80 degrees in Springfield, MO and I’ve seen people running around in shorts for weeks (aaaaand it’s STILL March) and kids playing in backyard swimming pools!  What is going on?!  I’m going to assume that winter decided not to show up this year and we are officially in warmer weather which means seasonal springtime desserts!  Yay!

Do any of you guys love the fresh and fruity flavors of spring as much as I do?  It’s nice to get away from the “heavier” desserts of winter and indulge in some that aren’t quite as rich and decadent…well, ok, they’re still decadent but the fruit aspect lightens things up nicely!  And you don’t feel *quite* as guilty.  At least I don’t!

 

Lemon Tea Bread

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Strawberry-Rhubarb Frangipane Galette

Photo courtesy of the-dogs-breakfast.com

Black and White Angel Food Cake

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Lemon-Blackberry Mini Tarts

Photo courtesy of ohhowposh.com

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of delish.com

Lemon-Blueberry Pretzel Cheesecake Squares

Photo courtesy of pillsbury.com

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake

I can confidently say that after making this healthy version of carrot cake, I will never, ever make the regular, sugary, fat-laden version EVER again.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that!  I just couldn’t believe how good this cake was not to mention it’s full of fruits, veggies and whole grains.  I made it for a dinner party and it was a huge hit!

The only thing I was a little unsure of was how the cream cheese frosting would turn out.  I wanted something pretty close to the real thing so I read up on ways to make my own powdered sugar out of Sugar in the Raw and much to my surprise it worked!  All you need is a coffee grinder, food processor or blender, throw the sugar in and give it a good whirl and voila!  Homemade powdered sugar!  Ok, so it’s not quite as fine as the real stuff but close enough!

This cake was totally delicious, moist and guilt-free!  I promise you will L.O.V.E. this cake and never want the “real thing” again!

Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake
 
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Fine sea Salt
  • 3 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 Large Eggs, 3 Egg Whites
  • ½ c. Safflower Oil
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1½ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Grated Carrots, squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • ½ c. Chopped Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic Neufchatel Cheese
  • 1 c. Sugar in Raw, processed to powdered sugar consistency in coffee grinder (or food processor/blender)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Instructions
For the Carrot Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Fold in black walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Beat Neufchatel in an electric mixer until smooth. Add processed sugar and beat until granules have fully dissolved (there should only be a few). Beat in vanilla.
To Assemble Cake
  1. Trim edges off of cake and cut in half. Spread half of frosting on cake and place other cake half on top. Spread with remaining frosting and sprinkle with black walnuts.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

 

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Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake

I wanted to make something extra special for my father-in-laws birthday because he definitely deserved it.  He is one of the most selfless, giving people I know and his birthday lunch needed a fabulous cake!  Jeremy told me he had mentioned pineapple and yellow cake so I thought hmmm, Pineapple Upside Down Cake??  Sounded good to me!  Now I had never made one before but I had had plenty in younger days…Pineapple Upside Down Cake seemed to show up at every church potluck and family gathering we had.  You know the kind, made with boxed yellow cake mix and canned pineapple slices..and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that version but I wanted to try my hand at a totally from scratch Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com and only made a couple of changes, nothing major at all.  As for the cake, I really liked the way it turned out, more like a pound cake.  I thought the addition of almond flour was somewhat odd but it added a nice texture to the cake.  It was definitely better the second day after the pineapple juices and butter/brown sugar mixture had time to seep into the cake a bit more.  I served it at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and everyone loved it.  I’d say it was a successful birthday!

Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake
 
Ingredients
Topping
  • 1 c. Firmly Packed Regular or Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 5 Slices Fresh, Cored Pineapple (or 1, 20 oz. Can Pineapple Slices)
  • Maraschino Cherries
Cake
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 T. Cake Flour
  • 6 T. Almond Flour/Meal
  • ¾ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ c. Sour Cream
Instructions
For the Topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch, round cake pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly into pan. Pour butter evenly over brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the butter/sugar mixture and fill the center of each pineapple with maraschino cherries (I used 5 cherries in each center).
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, almond flour/meal, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter into pan.
  3. Bake in oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely or turn out onto a platter after 10 minutes and serve warm.
Notes
Serves 16.

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

The healthy recipes just keep getting better and better!  This week I’ve got a fabulous, super-quick recipe for no-bake energy bites…that taste like a cross between peanut butter cookie dough and no-bake cookies.  Can you say YUM??  They are full of good stuff that won’t send you on a sugar-high but instead provide a source of natural, tasty energy.  All you need is one bowl and handful of ingredients–get busy!

Recipe adapted from fooddoodles.com

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. All-Natural, Smooth Peanut Butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¾ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. Wheat Germ
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • Oats, Peanut Halves, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and roll in oats or top with peanut half. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 2 dozen.

 

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