This past Saturday I got to help my friend Betsy make a first birthday cake. I think it turned out SUPER cute and for the most part it was a very easy cake to make. You only need one, 9×13 cake and then a smaller circular cake if you choose to make a “moon”, like we did. It was so much fun!
Check out this link for more detailed insturctions.
(p.s. sorry about the pic quality…forgot my camera, ugh!)
I know everyone is getting really excited about the colder temps and winter-like weather that is happening right now, but we have PLENTY of fall left and I’m going to savor every last minute of it. Here are a few things I love at this time of the year (and some ah-mazing pumpkin recipes).
Fall Leaves. Can’t get enough of the beautiful colors. And it’s even better this year since this is the first fall in our new house and we have two gorgeous trees in our front yard. (and no, these are not our trees! I wish!)
Pumpkin Monkey Bread. I do believe I could eat this EVERY SINGLE morning for breakfast. I won’t! But I could.
Fall-Scented Candles. According to this blog, Bath and Body Works has a Bakeshop candle collection. Sad to say I haven’t been to the mall in so long, I have no idea if this is true or not! Shopping trip!
Andy’s Frozen Custard Pumpkin Pie Concrete. I think this is my favorite concrete concoction from Andy’s (besides my husband’s brilliant combination of cherry juice, Oreos and brownie mmmmm). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good photo which I suppose means one thing: I’ll have to go get a Pumpkin Pie Concrete and take my own photo. The things I do…
Lovely Fall Dessert Tables. I so wish I had been invited to this party.
So the initial sugar-high has worn off and your kids STILL have enough candy left to get them bouncing off the walls for several days. You need to get rid of that candy FAST. Try some of these delicious, Halloween candy-packed desserts!
I’ve been blessed lately with an overabundance of apples, as I’m sure many of you have. One of my favorite things to do with lots of apples, specifically Golden Delicious apples, is make my mom’s German Apple Cake.
She has been making this cake every since I can remember. As a kid, when the air got cool and the leaves started changing color, we knew that apple cake and apple crisp were in the very near future. Of course mine and my sister’s favorite part was each getting a beater to lick after my mom had whipped up the cream cheese frosting. I’m sure I tried more than once to either steal or somehow trick my sister into giving me her beater…I was obnoxious like that.
I love making this cake as an adult because not only of the memories, but I can appreciate the simple goodness of it even more now. The flavor of cinnamon and chunks of soft apples along with the smooth cream cheese frosting are downright yummy. And I love that it forms kind a kind of sugary “crust” along the edges. So, so, SO good. If you have apples coming out your ears, try this cake. You’ll love it.
4 c. Peeled, Sliced/Chunked Apples (About 4-5 apples. I prefer golden delicious.)
½-3/4 c. Black Walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
½ t. Salt
1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (which is what I did) or grease and flour.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the apples and walnuts, mix in thoroughly and let set for 5 minutes or so, allowing the juices to soak into the batter. Spread into your baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40) until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the butter and cream cheese on high until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.
Just one week ago I was digging my toes into soft, white sand, reading non-stop on my Kindle under a palm tree and eating waaaaayyyyyy too much food. It was a good five days in Cancun.
Here are some photos of the most important part of our trip…dessert! (Forgive the photo quality..taken with a phone…bad lighting..etc etc etc)
These are some of the gorgeous dessert buffets. I honestly can’t tell you what 1/4 of the stuff is and there wasn’t much that I liked, believe it or not. Oh, but I tried it ALL. Most of the choices were either way too sugary sweet coconut candy type things or bland. And the “cake”-like options were very dry. I did find a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in a chocolate purse-type shell (in first pic below, bottom right) that was good and another plain vanilla cheesecake thing (at least I THINK that’s what it was..hard to tell because the top half was green and it was shaped like an oval) that I liked also. I did find these little chocolate cube-like things that I LOVED and I actually found them in the shop at the resort. Turns out they were made of toasted amaranth and chocolate. Yep, totally going to try making them.
There were two little gems that I found on our shopping day. One is an amazing chocolate shop called Ah Cacao. They sold all kinds of chocolate, coffee, every form of vanilla, cookies and some of THE BEST brownies I have ever had. Oh and their chocolate covered espresso beans…AH-MAZING. They were dipped in dark chocolate and then had a crunchy outer shell, like an M&M. I wish I had bought more than one package.
This was a lovely little gelato place called Aldo’s. There’s actually alot of gelato places in Cancun, which surprised me. They pretty much started shoveling gelato samples into our mouthes the minute we walked up to the counter. But I’m not complaining! It was delicious! I ended up getting a waffle cone with Almond gelato–heaven!
And this is us on our last day of living like beach bums, soaking up the sun. Let me tell you, it was SWEET.
Amy Atlas has featured several baseball themed dessert tables on her blog the last few days. Seeing as how we are so close in proximity to St. Louis and (naturally) cheering on the Cardinals, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of the photos on here. Too see more, click on the link above each picture.
While I don’t typically like to be in front of the camera, I had to show off some of my latest finds to you all (and Jeremy agreed to not get my face in the shots so it was all good).
First up, a cupcake necklace from the Fair Grove craft fair. Love it!
Second, a delicious cupcake shirt from Forever 21.
I also found these cupcake socks while I was waiting in line at Forever 21 to buy my cupcake shirt. I couldn’t resist.
Obviously not fashion, but I couldn’t resist sharing this Hello Kitty that my friend Nicole got me for my birthday. Yes, I know how old I am…but I don’t care, it’s adorable!
That’s all for now. I won’t be posting next Monday or Wednesday due to a vacation in a very tropical location…but I’ll have a little recap of our trip the following Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!
So, you want to make fudge but are terrified of candy thermometers and have no idea what the heck soft-ball stage means?! Not to worry, I have a fabulous, EASY recipe for Maple-Walnut Fudge from the Brown Eyed Baker. In mere minutes, you will have creamy, delicious fudge without standing over a stove for hours or having to think about the atomic structure of sugar crystals. I have to admit, there are times when I’m making homemade candy that it feels like I’m doing some weird science experiment in a lab rather than just cooking in my kitchen. Thankfully, this was NOT one of those times.
This recipe was in fact super easy and, I believe, fail-proof. The texture was very smooth and the maple flavor was perfect. The only thing I did different was use two teaspoons of Pure Grade A Maple Syrup instead of the extract because that was all I had. If you’ve never made homemade fudge before, don’t be afraid…start with this recipe…you will be a fudge-making fool before you know it!
Butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square pan. Line with parchment paper or foil, and butter that; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly (no lower than medium-low) and boil for an additional 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and maple flavoring. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat the fudge on medium speed until thick and glossy – about 3 minutes. Fold in the walnuts and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Slice the fudge into 1-inch squares and serve. (Fudge can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.)
Holiday parties are getting into full-swing! The first round of festivities are gorgeous fall parties and spooky halloween bashes. Celebrate with one of these deliciously fun, fall themed desserts! My favorite are the black cats! What’s yours?
A few weeks ago on a nice, bright Saturday morning I took a little road trip with my friend Sharla to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets. We had a great time and scored some awesome bargains. However, my favorite find of the whole trip was this doughnut pan from Norpro. I have been wanting one for some time and was really excited to finally find one that was a great brand at a decent price.
The store where I bought the pan also had this apple cider doughnut mix conveniently placed next to it. I’ve been seriously longing for an apple cider doughnut from Edwards Apple Orchard from when we lived up in Rockford. This place is amazing…the coolest general store with all kinds of yummy stuff, finger lickin’ bbq, some of the best apple pie I’ve EVER had (and yes, we DID try a slice with cheddar cheese and it was good!!) and their beyond drool-worthy apple cider doughnuts! Jeremy and I have seriously discussed taking a weekend trip to Rockford just for the doughnuts at the orchard (of course I’d probably have to sneak in some Chicago shopping hehe). They also have a petting zoo, live music and apple picking galore! Oh how I miss it! Apparently, they don’t have a website but here are some pics I found.
Ok so back to my doughnut mix! I made them this past weekend with the new pan and I have to say that I loved both! The pan worked wonderfully however, the side of the doughnuts that were in the pan got a bit darker and a tad more done than the other side. Not an issue really, just looks kind of funny. And the mix was great! Not quite the caliber of the orchard doughnuts but really, really good. We liked them hot out of the pan, brushed with butter and dipped in cinnamon and sugar but they were even better after they had cooled off and set for a while. You could really taste the apple cider and the texture was very moist and cake-like. Loved them! Of course I’ll be trying from scratch doughnuts next but if I ever need any in a pinch, I’ll definitely go with this brand!
These are some of my most favorite cookies ever. I’m sure I say that about a LOT of cookies but I really mean it with these! This is another recipe from my friend Judy (I’ve never had a cake/cookie/etc of hers that ISN’T awesome) and it is one of the most wonderfully soft, slightly chewy, perfectly spiced cookies I’ve ever had. They are not too sweet and so yum…one of those you could eat 4 or 5 or 10 of without thinking twice. Or maybe that’s just me.
Totally addictive and perfect for this time of year.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening until softened. Gradually add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses; beat well. Add half of flour mixture; beat until combined. Stir remaining flour in with a wooden spoon.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the coarse or granulated sugar. Bake for 8 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
The nights are getting cooler which means it’s time to break out the hot cocoa and apple cider. I thought it would be fun to share some recipes for hot drinks, both classic and new. Oh and for those who prefer a bit of booze in your holiday drink, I’ve got a couple of those too.
My original intent for this post was that it would be a recipe for pumpkin BROWNIES (or blondies..whatever) but about a quarter of the way through whipping these up I realized that I was not going to end up with the dense, chewy, pumpkin-y brownies I was dreaming of but most likely, a cake. And I was right. I was definitely a little disappointed at first but got over it pretty quickly after my first bite.
It was probably one of the most moist pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had and so wonderfully spiced. It’s good enough to stand on it’s own without frosting but would most certainly be even more awesome with a layer of cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream. I took it to a family function and didn’t bring any home, so that’s a good sign! So, I suppose it worked out but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin brownie recipe!
In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and beat into wet ingredients just until combined.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
*I also put an 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in these but since they weren't thick like brownies, they all sunk to the bottom half of the cake. So, it's up to you if you want to add them or not.
It’s October! I am so excited about October for many reasons…craft fairs, pumpkin everything, Halloween candy galore, hot drinks, scary movies, bon fires…the list goes on and on. I think we should kick off October AND Monday morning the right way–with Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes! How delish do these look?! You might recall when I posted about the original Cinnamon Roll Pancake recipe on a previous post awhile back, but I think the pumpkin takes it to a whole other level! You better believe these are on the menu for breakfast next weekend!
Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a small, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for 40 to 60 seconds, just until butter is melted. Whisk the filling ingredients together and then pour it into a sandwich-sized zip baggie. Zip up the baggie and lay it on the counter while you prepare the pancake batter.
Prepare the Icing: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and cream cheese 30 to 60 seconds, just until butter has melted and cream cheese has softened. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine until smooth. Set the icing aside.
Prepare the pancake batter: In a large bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vinegar. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and brown sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until all is moistened.
Check on your cinnamon filling: Open up the baggie again and give it a good stir to re-incorporate any butter that may have separated. You want the mixture to thicken a bit- it's best when it's similar to the squeezing texture of toothpaste (which will eventually happen if you leave it on the counter long enough, but refrigerate for a few minutes if you need to). Don't try to use the filling for the pancake swirl unless it has thickened as it will be too runny! Snip off a small piece of the corner of the baggie.
Cook the pancakes: Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium. Use an ice cream scoop (or ladle) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or ladle to spread out the batter into a nice, even circle. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pick up your cinnamon filling baggie and squeeze the filling into the corner. Starting at the center of the pancake squeeze the cinnamon filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a cinnamon roll). Cook the pancakes 3 to 4 minutes, or until bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it is golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of cream cheese icing.
If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, use this combo of spices instead: 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites. My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these. The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate. And not only that, you make them in the microwave. Awesome!
Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger. But I, for one, will never know. Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe. How you ask? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute. They melted a little. So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each. The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump. Uh oh. I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.
No, it did not come together. I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter. So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped. The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits. So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it! That didn’t help. The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly. So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile. There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good. So I threw it away. Sigh. So depressing.
I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!! I mean, candy from a microwave?! C’mon! I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person. Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about. Yes, I was that depressed. It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up. Here’s my trip down memory lane…
Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun. And I didn’t screw anything up!
Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO. GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit. The place is cute, simple and clean inside. No frills. And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous! At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money. And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes. The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling. I’m a frosting girl all the way!
Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety. I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.
The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt. It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us. Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!
My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream. The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor. I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.
Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite. It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips. We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.
I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes. And I will go back! I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…
It’s Monday! Who’s excited?! Yeah, me neither. Thought I’d cheer you up with some delicious APPLE recipes from all over the blogosphere. It’s that time of year….apple cake, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie….the possibilities are endless! And so, so delicious.
I’m not a huge popcorn fan but every now and then I do love to munch on some caramel or cheese popcorn and it’s usually around Christmas when some member of my family sees fit to lug a HUGE tin of the stuff to our family holiday dinner. Ya know, cause there’s not enough food at those family dinners.
So the other day I remembered how my mom used to make caramel corn in the microwave. I mean, really, really good caramel corn. From the microwave! She sent me the recipe and I made it for the first time ever and I have to say it’s even better than I remember as a kid. Maybe I can appreciate it more now? Who knows. But for whatever reason I love the stuff and it’s very addictive.
I added my own little touch with some sea salt and then through in some homemade dark chocolate and peanut popcorn. The recipes for both are below and they are super simple but if you only choose to do one, make the caramel corn!
½-1 t. Fine Sea Salt (depending on how salty you want it to be)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
4 c. Popped Popcorn (NO butter or salt)
1½ c. High Quality Dark Chocolate Candy Coating (NOT chocolate bark)
½ c. Dry-Roasted Peanuts
For the Salted Caramel Corn:
Line a large cookie sheet pan with foil. Place Popped corn in a large brown paper bag. Set aside.
Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and regular salt in a large bowl. Microwave on high setting 3-4 minutes, stirring after each minute, until mixture comes to a boil (it only took 3 minutes for mine to boil). Microwave 2 minutes longer (without stirring) and then stir in baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over popped corn in bag. Close bag and shake well. Microwave for 1½ more minutes. Shake bag well. Microwave 1-1½ minutes more (I stopped at 1 minute because it smelled slightly burned and 3 or 4 pieces did burn--no biggie, just watch it). Add the sea salt and shake bag well. Pour onto the large cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
For the Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
Line a large cookie pan with foil. Place popped popcorn and peanuts in large brown paper bag. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into the bag over the popcorn and peanuts and shake well. Pour onto the cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
Serves...well, it depends on how well you share. :)