Category: Dessert!


Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Here’s a pecan pie for those who don’t really love pecan pie. I love pecan pie but I couldn’t resist the idea of adding more good stuff to one of my favorites.

The result? My kids, who don’t really care for pecan pie, LOVED this! Me? Turns out I’m a pecan pie purist. I love all the ingredients in this pie and thought I would absolutely love it, so I was surprised to discover I liked it but didn’t love it. Or it could have been that I was stuffed on the Chicken Artichoke Lasagna my daughter made for dinner and the plethora of sweets I’ve had lately. I’m not sure. I might have to make this one more time to decide.  :)Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Alex said he isn’t really a nut person – I beg to differ ;) – but he really liked this pie. Tish liked it because she doesn’t like the texture of regular pecan pie. She also might be a bit of a chocoholic so that helped, I’m sure. When she was younger, maybe in junior high, I remember coming home from work and her telling me she had spent the day reading a book and eating the chocolate cookies she’d found in the kitchen. That’s my girl!

I’d say this pie is definitely worth the try! It’s super easy to throw together, and you can use a pre-made pie crust if you don’t want to make it from scratch. I’m lazy. I used the refrigerated pie crust. The crust is not pre-baked and you should not prick the crust before loading it with the filling.

One thing I didn’t do well, though – I didn’t rub enough flour on the pie crust before putting it into the pie pan. Shame on me for not following the directions on the box! If you’re making a pie with a high sugar content, such as pecan, you need to put flour on the pie crust to help absorb some of the sugar and prevent the filling from leaking through the crust. Mine leaked through the crust and the result was a pie that didn’t come out of the pan cleanly. Lesson learned!

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

from Culinary Covers

Stuff you need:

1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
2 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest [I use the jarred grated zest found in the spice aisle.]
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup mini pretzels (about 18), broken into pieces
3/4 cup semi-sweet, bittersweet or extra dark chocolate [I used semi-sweet because that's what I had. The kids liked it so I'd use that again.]

Now what?

Preheat the oven to 350F. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Fold the edges over and crimp as desired. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. [Make sure you flour the crust first! Rub a Tablespoon or so on each side.]

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the pecans, pretzels and chocolate.

Pour into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes.

Cover the pie with foil and continue to bake until the filling is puffed and the center is just set, another 15 to 20 minutes. [I think mine took about 65-75 minutes. Might be my oven because my pecan pies take longer than the recipes suggest, so keep an eye on yours.]

Let cool and serve at room temperature.

Apple Bavarian Torte

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

I hope everyone’s had a good day! My mom is here from Chicago, my daughter came for dinner with her 4 kids, and we had a good, noisy afternoon!

Apple Bavarian TorteMy grandkids have an abundance of personality, and I find myself giggling and shaking my head quite often! The 6-year-old wanted to know “who caught the turkey” and wasn’t satisfied until we told her Butterball caught it. The 2-year-old helped me with the mashed sweet potatoes, or as she called them, orange taters. She enjoyed using the mixer and was ready to eat as soon as we turned it off!

The 3-year-old was playing puppy with his sister, running up and down the hallway on a leash, and got a nice lump on his forehead when he ran smack into the corner of the wall. And I didn’t notice when the 7-year-old slapped a sticker on my back. Hello, Kitty!

Oh, and I’m proud to say I introduced the two youngest to brown sugar – eaten right off the spoon! Sugar ‘em up and send ‘em home with their parents, I say!

We did the traditional staples for Thanksgiving: the turkey, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, mashed potatoes & gravy, rolls, cranberry relish and stuffing. Nobody seemed to care we didn’t have any vegetables, as long as we didn’t run out of rolls! I sent most of the leftovers home with my daughter. I made a pot roast the other day that we didn’t eat, so I sent that home with her too. Mom wanted to eat out, even though I had cooked. Wonder what that says about my cooking?  ;)Apple Bavarian Torte

For dessert we had the Pumpkin Pecan Crumble Pie I made / blogged last year (no, not the same pie – I made a fresh one!), and this Apple Bavarian Torte that’s been a favorite for years. It’s a cross between cheesecake and apple pie that’s not too rich or too sweet, so it’s perfect after a big meal.  As much as we love cheesecake (and that’s a lot!), this torte has just enough cheesecake filling to satisfy us. I sent about 1/4 of the torte home with my daughter, who said, “I wondered if I was going to get some of that!”

I normally make this with apples, although I’ve made it with fresh plums and fresh pears too. The plums make a great summer dessert! If you’re using plums, I’d switch out the walnuts for sliced almonds but use what you like best.

Apple Bavarian Torte

Slightly adapted from The Joy of Cheesecake, Dana Bovbjerg & Jeremy Iggers

Stuff you need:

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

5 Tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

Filling

1 pound cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apple Topping

3 medium apples, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Now what?

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Crust

Mix crumbs, butter and sugar in bowl. Blend well.

Press crumb mixture onto bottom of 10 inch springform pan and set aside.

Topping

Place apple slices in a large bowl and add sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir to mix well and to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Set aside while you make the filling.

Filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.

Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix until completely blended.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.

Layer the apple slices on top of the cheese mixture, then sprinkle the top with the walnut pieces.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 350F degrees and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, until filling is set and lightly browned.

Cool to room temperature, then chill.

When I was younger, Mom used to take us into downtown Chicago to shop. We’d take the commuter train down and walk over to State Street, where all the big department stores had their flagship stores. We’d spend the day in the beautiful, multi-storied buildings window shopping and enjoying the experience. At Christmastime we’d go downtown and look at all the store windows, which were fixed up with elaborate Christmas season displays. The sidewalks were filled with people crowding in to see the windows. It was a wonderful tradition that I’ll never forget!

Deerfield Bakery's Pecan Pie

Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Mom and I still go downtown when we get a chance. Most of the big stores are no longer on State Street, which is a shame, but we still enjoy it.  Lunch was always a part of our trips downtown, and that’s still the case. I remember eating many, many times in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field & Co. Even though it’s now called Macy’s, The Walnut Room is still there, and the current menu includes some of the traditional favorites we enjoyed years ago!

I have two vivid memories of food downtown. One was the Field’s Special from The Walnut Room — iceberg lettuce, sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, tomato and egg served open-faced on rye with thousand island dressing. Nothing special, but it was my favorite and I still order it!

The other is the Pecan Pie from Flo’s. I don’t remember much of the place except that it was more of a diner, noisy and crowded at lunchtime. I don’t even remember what we’d order for lunch, except that knowing me, it was probably a grilled cheese. That was my go-to meal when I was young.

But what I remember the most about Flo’s was the pecan pie. Oh, was it good!! It was served heated up, and the filling was warm and gooey and just to die for! I’ve never been much of a pie person because I don’t like regular pie crust, but Flo’s pecan pie was a wedge of heaven!!!

Pecan Pie from Deerfield's BakeryYears later, my favorite pie is still pecan pie – partly from nostalgia, and partly because it’s just that good. I recently had the opportunity to make a pie for a birthday celebration at work. I’ll admit I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust. I’d like to perfect a scratch-made pie crust, but that will have to happen when a) I have more time; and b) I don’t need it for a special event.

When the pie was baked, I thought it looked a bit darker than the pecan pies I’ve made in the past. It took me a minute to realize the recipe I used was a little different from any I’ve used before because it includes brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar. It was wonderful! I may try it again and use maple syrup instead of honey. Maple and pecans are great complements, so that should be good in the pie.

I did use more pecans than the original recipe. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of pecan halves but I didn’t think that was enough! I used somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 cups. If you don’t want a ton of pecans, start with the 1/2 cup and see if that looks like enough for you. If you’re like me and LOVE pecans, load ‘em up!

If the crust starts to brown too much while you’re baking, use foil and loosely cover the pie. Either foil or those crust protectors you can purchase will do the trick.

All the comments I received on the pie were positive, so I know I’ll make this one again!

Pecan Pie

Adapted from the Deerfield’s Bakery recipe published in Killer Pies

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

10 tablespoons packed brown sugar [I used light brown sugar.]

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

1 to 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, mix honey, corn syrup, butter and brown sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Once the butter and sugar dissolve, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. [If you add the eggs to the hot mixture, the eggs will scramble and ruin the pie.]

While the mixture is cooling, line the uncooked pie shell with the pecan halves. They’ll rise to the top while the pie is baking.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together and stir into the cooled sugar mixture.

Gently pour the mixture over the pecans. [They won't all stay in place, so don't worry if some float and move around.]

Bake for 1 hour, then allow the pie to cool before serving.

Kyoshi's Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Congratulations, Kyoshi Colahan! Banzai!!

A couple of months ago our karate instructor was promoted to 6th Degree Black Belt and awarded the title of Kyoshi.

This is a big deal in our system! It takes 3 1/2 or more years to earn your first degree black belt, and even longer to earn higher ranks. Kyoshi’s been studying karate for over 20 years.

Our club was at the belt test to celebrate with Kyoshi, and when we returned to class the following week decided an additional celebration was in order. Celebrations for us include food, of course! We love our Banzai Treats!

One of Kyoshi’s favorite cakes is a Chocolate Pistachio Cake. This is also a favorite of several friends at work. I’ve made this several times and in many forms – as a bundt cake, layer cake, regular and jumbo muffins, and as a sheet cake. This time, in celebration of Kyoshi’s promotion, I wanted to make a cake that represented his new rank / belt, so I went with a sheet cake.

This is a super moist cake, thanks to the pistachio pudding and it’ll hold for several days, assuming it lasts that long. If you want the cake a little bit greener, add a couple of drops of food coloring. I did to this batch and you can see the color in the picture below, but normally I don’t add any extra green.

Chocolate Pistachio Kyoshi CakeThe cake is just sweet enough that it doesn’t need a rich frosting. I frosted this with the butter cream frosting typically used to decorate cakes. If I wasn’t decorating it, I probably would have either dusted it with powdered sugar or just used a light chocolate glaze.

The Kyoshi belt in our system is red and white, so I used fondant to create the belt for the cake. I haven’t used fondant much, and could probably have done a better job, but it turned out OK. The more I use it, the more skilled I’ll become. At least that’s the hope!

Don’t wait for a big karate promotion to try this cake. ;-) It’ll quickly become one of your favorites!

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Adapted from Ann Byrn’s The Cake Doctor

Stuff you need:

1 (18.25 ounce) package white or yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package INSTANT pistachio pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup chocolate syrup* [I reduced this from 1/2 c. It was sticky with too much syrup.]
A few drops of green food coloring (optional)
Powdered sugar or light chocolate glaze, if desired

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix and sugar.
Add water, oil and eggs and mix well.
Reserve 1 cup batter and pour the rest of it into the prepared pan.
Stir the chocolate syrup into the 1 cup reserved batter.
Pour the chocolate batter over the pistachio batter and use a butter knife to swirl them. Don’t overmix or you will lose the swirly effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

NOTE: If you choose a different pan size / shape, follow the baking directions on the cake mix box. This will make a 9 X 13″, about 2 dozen normal sized muffins, 2 9″ cake layers…basically, whatever the cake mix would make.

Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake“What did you bring me?” That’s my son-in-law’s usual greeting for me. The last couple of times I saw him I didn’t have anything for him. My daughter’s no slouch in the kitchen but I like baking for him, so this time I sacrificed my beauty sleep and dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to bake for him. Seriously – this is a sacrifice. I love my sleep.

If you like glazed donuts or those commercially baked honey buns, you’ll like this. I made these for my friend’s birthday one year. Actually, I made 2 pans to take to work for her birthday – one with nuts and one without. She immediately took a pan to her car so she didn’t have to share!

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey. Cute, isn’t he?

You’ll be pleased with how simple this cake is to put together. The hardest part is putting on the topping – and doing it right. :D  As many times as I’ve made this, for some reason this time I mixed all the topping ingredients together. It made a cinnamon mud and that just didn’t look right, so I went back and read the instructions. Good idea, huh? I had forgotten it was just a matter of drizzling and sprinkling the topping ingredients and then swirling them with a knife.

My only excuse for making it harder than it had to be was that the oven was fired up long before my brain was!

I’m not a donut fan but I really like this cake. It’s good warm, and it’s good after it cools. It holds well due to the sour cream and oil that are added. This also travels well, and would be great for a picnic or BBQ. Enjoy!

Honey Bun Cake

from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Stuff you need:

Cake:
1 (18 ounce) package plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 – 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon [I use 2 Tablespoons. We like cinnamon!!]
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted [Or be lazy like me and just stir well.]
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Place cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in large mixing bowl.
Blend with electric mixture on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides as needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Time for the filling!
Drizzle the honey on top of the batter.
Next sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Using a butter knife, swril through the batter to slightly blend the topping with the batter.
Bake for 38-40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla in small mixing bowl and whisk or stir until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the top of the hot cake in the pan, spreading it to the sides with a spoon.
Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes more, and then serve warm.

I love cream cheese brownies! That’s because I love cream cheese and I love chocolate. Mix them together, and the taste is divine!Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies

I honestly didn’t think that combination could get any better…until I tried these Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies TL posted on our Chocolate Madness! board.

Oh my. Oh my, my, my!!!

I’ve never put berries in my brownies, but these I had to try. I love blackberries, and almost always have some in the house.

I was poking around in my frig and realized I had 4 packages of cream cheese, a full container of blackberries, and some stir fry veggie mix. Passing over the veggies, I was wondering what to bake this weekend, and was browsing our board. These jumped out at me – they looked like something I might like, and I had the time to make the multiple steps.

Blackberry Cream Cheese BrowniesTurns out they weren’t as difficult as I thought they might be! There are only 2 steps, not the 3+ I expected. The hardest part about these is stirring in the blackberries – and not eating them all. :)

They can be made with a boxed brownie mix (follow the cake-style notes on the package) and can be made gluten-free if needed. I made them with my Craggy Topped Fudge Brownies. The recipe calls for frozen blackberries. I had fresh, so I popped them in the freezer (in a single layer) for about an hour. Poof – perfectly frozen and ready to stir in!

These were delish just a few minutes out of the oven – with the berries still warm. Mmmm!! I keep trying them as they cool, just to make sure they still taste OK, and they do. But I’ll try them again in the morning just to make sure. Quality control, you know??

If you’re looking for an interesting brownie give these a try. They’re fantastic, I promise!

Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Adapted from Bless Her Heart
350F, 9×13″ greased pan

Stuff you need:

For brownie layer:
1 brownie mix for a 9×13″ pan plus ingredients for the cake-style method or your favorite brownie recipe that makes a 9×13″ pan
[I used my Craggy Topped Fudge Brownies:  http://munchiesmind.com/2012/07/11/chocolate-madness-craggy-topped-fudge-brownies/  Check the Mix It Up! page for the recipe.]
1 1/4 cups frozen blackberries
1/3 cup chocolate chips

For cream cheese swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Now what?
Beat all cream cheese swirl ingredients and set aside while you mix up the brownie batter.

Make the brownies according to the cake-style method on the package directions or make your preferred recipe.
Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and 1 1/4 cups of frozen blackberries.

Pour the brownie batter into the pre-greased baking dish.

Using a large spoon, drop the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter. Drag a butter knife through the cream cheese and brownie mix to create the cream cheese swirls.

Bake at 350F until a toothpick poked into the center of the brownie pan comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. This is kind of hard to tell, since you might be poking a juicy blackberry! [Mine took about 35 minutes.] 

Apricot Pecan BarsWow – these are good!

Make a buttery shortbread crust, top it with your favorite jam, crumble some topping and nuts over the jam, and bake until set.

Doesn’t that sound easy? It IS! And the result is AMAZING!!

These have been on my To-Bake list for quite a while, so when I needed a quick Banzai Un-Birthday treat for our Karate Club, I was ready to try them!

The recipe is adapted from the C&H Sugar website. I changed out the jam and the nuts to work with what I had in my pantry. We all really enjoyed the apricot/pecan combination! I’m sure several other combos would be good, too: strawberry/almonds and raspberry/walnut come to mind.

I suggest using real butter for the crust and crumble, because it’ll make a much better shortbread than margarine or shortening. The recipe has a glaze, but it’s really not necessary. I wasn’t going to add it, since my taste-tester and I both thought they were delish without it, but changed my mind and added it before I took the rest of the bars to Karate. Add the glaze or don’t, according to your preference. You’ll like them either way!

Apricot Pecan Bars

Adapted from C&H Sugar’s Glazed Peach Bars

Stuff you’ll need:

Crust and Filling Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened [I highly recommend real butter!]
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup apricot preserves [or peach, raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb...]

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if you’re not lazy like me (see Quick Tip)

Glaze Ingredients (Optional):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk (or to desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now what?
Crust and Filling Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F; arrange rack to center position.
Beat butter with sugar and flour; press evenly on bottom of lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Don’t bother to clean the bowl; just use it for the topping.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden around edges. Remove from oven. Stir up preserves and pour into center of the crust. Allow to stand 2-3 minutes, then spread preserves evenly over crust with back of large spoon.

Topping Instructions

Combine flour with sugar, butter and almond extract; beat slowly several minutes to blend.
Crumble evenly over top of preserves.
Sprinkle pecans over topping and return pan to oven.
Continue baking 20-25 minutes or until bubbly with golden edges. [I baked mine about 30 minutes until the filling wasn't sloshy.]
Cool thoroughly.

Glaze Instructions (Optional)

Whisk powdered sugar with milk and almond extract until smooth. Drizzle randomly over top of cooled, baked crust/filling/topping mixture. Cut into squares.

Quick Tip(s)
To toast nuts, arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet and “toast” under your oven’s broiler until golden, stirring frequently for even browning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

After making steak and a healthy vegetable slaw for dinner, I told The Pretty One I was going to make an unhealthy dessert. But these really aren’t all that bad, I don’t think. At least they’re not as bad as what I would have made if I had a ton of time and energy this weekend!

They sound like something you should eat in the winter (who wants hot chocolate when it’s 70 degrees outside?) but trust me – they make a great treat for spring days too!

These mix up in just a few minutes, and if you’re in a hurry to eat them (like me, believe it or not!) you can put them in the frig and they’ll set up even faster.

The chocolate flavor is “there” but not overwhelming. The mini chocolate chips on top add a little more chocolate goodness. The Pretty One declared these “delicious” and I have to agree. I’m having a hard time not eating the whole pan!

Quick, easy, and addicting. What more could you want??

Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

from Crazy for Crust

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons butter
10 ounces marshmallows
2 packets powdered hot chocolate mix
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 cup Mallow Bits (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Now what?

Spray a 9×13” pan with cooking spray. Keep the cooking spray close by. Measure out cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
Place butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave safe bowl. Melt for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on HIGH power, stirring every 30 seconds until they are melted.
Stir in the hot chocolate packets, then immediately stir in the cereal and pour into prepared pan.
Working quickly, spray your hands with cooking spray so they won’t stick to the mixture, and carefully press the treats into the pan. (Be careful – the mixture will be hot.) Sprinkle immediately with Mallow Bits and mini chocolate chips and press lightly to secure them to the top of the krispie treats.
Let cool completely before cutting into squares. If you are impatient and want to speed cooking so you can eat them sooner, put pan in frig for a few minutes.  :)

Carrots are good for your eyesight. Walnuts are good for your heart. Pineapple has anti-inflammatory properties.

Banzai Carrot Cake

Banzai!

Translation: If you eat this carrot cake, you’re doing good things for your body! It’s health food!

If that doesn’t convince you and you need another reason to try this cake, I’ve got a very convincing one. Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sensei Phil didn’t have anything particular in mind for his Banzai Birthday treats. Knowing he’s not a chocolate person, I suggested one of my favorite cakes – Carrot Cake! I thought our karate group would enjoy it. The consensus was the cake is good and the frosting is Banzai-worthy!

Carrot CakeThis is a delicious AND nutritious cake, and you should try it. There are a couple things you should know:

  • I bought already-shredded carrots in the produce section. I’m too lazy to shred them myself.
  • You can use pecans instead of walnuts, or eliminate the nuts if there is a nut allergy. Personally, I’d add the nuts if you don’t have to leave them out.
  • This is a great way to sneak fruit and vegetables into your family’s bodies. The ingredient list can be your secret!  ;)
  • The frosting amount shown is 1 1/2 times the original recipe. What can I say? I like cream cheese frosting. If I hadn’t used it all on the cake, I would have eaten it right off the spoon. You can make 2/3 of the frosting if you want – it’ll give enough for the cakes. But why would you do that? The frosting is why we eat carrot cake, right?

Make this. Eat it. Feel healthier because you ate stuff that’s good for you. Then have another piece. Carrot cake is health food, and the cream cheese frosting is just plain awesome!

Carrot Cake

Slightly adapted from Food.com

Stuff you need:

CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

FROSTING (See TIP 2 for a lighter frosting.)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened — the blocks, not the whipped stuff
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups icing [powdered] sugar

Optional for decoration: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
Pour into pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes for the rounds or 45 minutes for a 9×13. The cake will bake up fairly dark, and the centers will sink a little.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth; add the vanilla then the icing sugar and beat until creamy.

To frost: If using the round cakes, no need to frost the sides. Plop half the frosting on one cake and spread. You’ll have a nice, thick layer of icing. It’s OK if a little goes over the edges. Place the second layer on top and frost with the remaining frosting.
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and add a few chopped walnuts for decoration, if desired.

TIP: If you’re transporting the layered cake, put a dab of frosting on the plate before you put the first cake layer on it. It’ll act like a glue to hold the cake layer in place.
TIP 2: If you are one of the few people who don’t care for the thick cream cheese frosting, there’s a lighter version that’s also delish. Beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese. Beat in 1 jar (7 oz.) of marshmallow fluff. Frost your cake then lick the spoon and bowl clean!

We were getting ready for another big storm to hit KC. Like most people, I’m sick of the snow but what are you gonna do, right?

Well, with nasty weather coming in, I did what most normal women would do to get ready. First, I got a pedi. Everything’s better with fresh nails, right? And then, I baked cookies!Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

With fresh nails, warm cookies, books on my Kindle and plenty of movies, I don’t mind being snowed in!

We “lucked out” and this last round wasn’t as bad as it might have been. Still, I’m home waiting for the snowplow. We live on a cul-de-sac and are the last ones to be plowed out. It’s usually a combination of a bobcat and a snowplow. So far I haven’t seen either, but that’s OK with me. I’ve got cookies!

This recipe is simple and tasty. It doesn’t use any weird ingredients, so if you’re snowed in you might have everything in your pantry to make these now. I used peanut butter chips and no nuts, but you could use any combo of chips and nuts you like.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Slightly adapted from She Makes and Bakes

Stuff you need:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups oats (quick or regular – both work)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts [use any combination of chips and nuts that equals 1 cup]

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips [use any combination of chips and nuts that equals 1 cup]

Now what?

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars until soft and mixed.

Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add in the vanilla, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low until combined.

Mix the cocoa powder and flour together and add gradually with mixer at low speed.

Once combined, add in the oats and mix.

Stir in the nuts and chips and mix until just incorporated.

Form the dough into one-inch balls or use a cookie scoop and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes until set, but don’t overbake.

Let them cool for one minute on the sheet and then remove to a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container or bag.

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