Category: Quick!


Fresh Apple Cake

Fresh Apple CakeHow about a quick and easy apple cake? The most time-consuming part about this is chopping up the apples. If you’re lazy like me, don’t bother to peel them. Just wash them well, and start chopping!

I used Granny Smith apples because that’s what I had in the house. Use your favorite kind, or a mixture of sweet with tart. I didn’t chop the apples too much because I like to have pieces in my cake. However, if you don’t like biting into apple chunks, dice them finer.Fresh Apple Cake!

The batter will be very thick. That’s fine – just make sure you’ve got the dry ingredients mixed evenly with the wet ingredients before smooshing the batter into the pan.

Make a 9 x 13 pan or split the batter into two 9×9 cake pans and keep one for yourself, and share the other with friends.

Fresh Apple Cake

Adapted from Midwest Living

Stuff you need:
3 cups flour [I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all-purpose flour.]
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sale
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 medium Granny Smith apples, washed and chopped [Peel if that’s your preference – or you’re not as lazy as I am.]
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Powdered sugar for dusting

Now what?

Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or 2 9×9-inch baking pans; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; make a well in center of dry mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil and vanilla; stir in apples and nuts.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be stiff). Smoosh batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. If you like, dust with powdered sugar or top each serving with sweetened whipped cream and an apple slice.

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I was invited to dinner at my daughter’s a couple of weeks ago. After we finished the chicken enchiladas she’d made, my son-in-law looked over and asked, “What did you bring for dessert?”

“Nothing,” was my reply. “Tish told me not to bring anything.” “What?!? Why’d you do that?” he asked his wife. It seems Alex had been hoping for the pumpkin cake I’d made last fall for him, and was disappointed when it didn’t appear. I promised to bring one the next time I saw him, which turned out to be last weekend for their kids’ birthday parties, and he was appeased. Pumpkin Spice Pudding for Alex's Cake

This cake is an adaptation of the Hornet’s Nest Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor. It’s crazy-easy and comes out perfect every time! Basically, you make pudding, fold in a cake mix, then top it with pecans and chips before baking.  The original recipe calls for vanilla pudding, butterscotch chips and pecans. The chips sink slightly into the cake to create holes, which mimics the appearance of a hornet’s nest. No frosting is needed, and would probably be just too much sweetness anyway. (Yes, there is such a thing as too much sweet!)

I saw some Jell-O Pumpkin Spice instant pudding mix in the store last fall and thought I could do something with it. I’ll admit I don’t get excited about all the pumpkin stuff on the market in the fall. It’s just not one of my favorite flavors, nor is it in the top 25 probably. But my daughter and her husband love pumpkin stuff and I thought I’d play with the pudding mix somehow.

This Hornet’s Nest Cake came to mind, because I think you could change it up to use whatever flavor pudding, cake mix, and type of nuts you like and come out with something that is both easy and impressive. So I went with pumpkin spice pudding, a yellow cake mix, a combo of butterscotch and white chocolate chips, and pecans. I thought it was good, but Tish and Alex liked it even more and requested it a couple times after that. Click for recipe.

Son-In-Law Cake (Pumpkin, Butterscotch & Pecans)The cake is moist, and the top layer is both sweet and crunchy, as the chips and nuts stay near the top of the cake and the nuts brown a bit. I haven’t checked the stores to see if the pudding is out yet, since it’s seasonal, but I’d guess it’ll be there soon if it’s not already. I was lucky and had stocked up at the end of last year’s holiday season so I still had 1 box stashed away.

If you can’t find pumpkin spice pudding, try butterscotch or maybe a butter pecan, if there is one, and add some pumpkin pie spice to the pudding mixture. Alternatively, use vanilla pudding and a spice cake mix, and add pumpkin pie spice to either the cake mix or pudding. I’d start with about a tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice, smell and taste your mixture, and add more spice if you think you want it.

I delivered the cake to Alex last weekend and he declared it, “All mine!” Since we didn’t cut it while I was there, I can only show you a picture of the un-cut results. But trust me on this one – it’s a really delish cake that takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together.

Give it a try and let me know if you make any variations to Alex’s version!

Oatmeal Whole Wheat CookiesHere’s a quickie cookie recipe for you to try. I adapted them from a healthy blogger and added chocolate chips so they wouldn’t be so shocking to my system!  🙂

As far as chocolate chip cookies go, there aren’t too many ingredients. They mix up quickly and make a somewhat small batch. I used a regular sized ice cream scoop to portion the cookies and got 11 big, soft cookies. You’ll get about that many — more or less — depending on how much fun stuff you add to the batter, such as chocolate chips, nuts, craisins, etc.

Like most oatmeal cookies, you can choose whichever add-ins and spices you enjoy to customize the flavor of the cookie. Oatmeal, raisins and cinnamon are a natural combination. Craisins, orange zest and extract plus dark or white chocolate chips is another good combination. Use what you like and try different combinations for variety. Click for recipe.

For this batch, I used craisins, orange zest, a splash of orange extract and another of vanilla extract, and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Orange and cranberry are a great combo, and the chips add an extra flavor layer. I think dark chocolate chunks would be great in these. White chocolate would be tasty too, if you like white chocolate (it’s not my favorite, but I’d eat it in this combo).

And if you’re reading all the whole wheat recipes on my blog and worrying that my sugar addiction is waning and I’m eating too many healthy things, don’t worry. I’m still here and planning more indulgent desserts.  I have to admit, though, that I’m enjoying finding recipes that are a bit healthier but in a stealthy way. I feel just a pinch less guilty eating them. And if you don’t tell there is whole wheat flour in these, nobody will ever guess!

Whole Wheat Apple MuffinsWow – these are good!

I was excited to find this recipe at The Goodie Plate that uses whole wheat flour and fresh apples. The blogger raved about the smell and the flavor of these muffins and I needed to see for myself just how good they are!

I’m glad I tried them – they’re delish! And my house smelled wonderful! Even though they use some whole wheat flour, they were incredibly moist muffins and not as heavy as I expected them to be. 

Of course I made a few adjustments to the recipe, because that’s how I bake, but they were simple tweaks. I added some chopped walnuts and some finely chopped candied ginger. If you’ve never tried candied ginger, it’s a sweet / hot thing that’s best eaten in small pieces, so chop it well. If you like the heat of ginger, like I do, make sure to add some to your muffins! If you’re not quite sure, stick with a small amount (maybe 1 Tablespoon) and adjust the amount in your next batch.Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

I used light brown sugar because my box of dark brown sugar was hard as a rock! I didn’t realize I could soften the brown sugar in the microwave by putting the brown sugar in with a small bowl of water near it, zapping for 1 minute, then checking every 30 seconds until it was soft. Dark brown would give the muffins a richer flavor, but the light brown was delicious.

I used two large apples, so I had very chunky muffins that made a batch of 18. I think they’d freeze very well. I didn’t think to throw a couple in the freezer before they all disappeared, but next time I will.

These are great for a healthier breakfast or snack alternative, and almost sweet enough for a dessert. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Banzai to Alex! We celebrated Alex’s birthday with these cinnamony Snickerdoodle Bars.

Banzai Birthday: Snickerdoodle Bars

Alex showing respect for Sensei (me!) who made his Banzai Birthday Treats! 😉

They have the flavors of a snickerdoodle cookie without all the effort and patience required to roll the dough into balls and then dip them in cinnamon sugar. (Have I ever mentioned I’m not the most patient person?) Once the bars are baked a simple sugar glaze tops them off.

This is one of the few recipes where I could just eat the batter off a spoon! I don’t say that often because I don’t like batter or raw dough, but there’s just something about these that I find irresistible! If you’re a cinnamon and vanilla fan, you need to try these! Click for recipe.

I found this recipe at Grin and Bake It awhile back and made a pan for The Pretty One to take back to school. He had to take them – – if I had kept them for myself, I would have eaten them all within a day! The Pretty One is a veteran snickerdoodle taster and raved about these, so I knew they were good. I even forgot to put on the glaze and neither of us missed it!

When I asked Alex what he wanted for treats, he told me he prefers vanilla over chocolate “if it comes to a cake-like creation” but didn’t specify anything other than that. Since these were so good the first time, I thought they’d be something the Karate Club would enjoy.

Snickerdoodle BarsThere’s not much to this recipe, and maybe that’s the key to it. The vanilla batter layered with the cinnamon sugar filling really work together for an enjoyable treat.

The most wonderful aroma will fill your kitchen when you bake these!

 

 

Snickerdoodle Bars

From Grin and Bake It

 

Stuff you need:

2 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon-sugar filling:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Now what?
Heat oven to 350. Spray or grease the bottom only of a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon-sugar filling in a small bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugars.

Gradually beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. [Batter will be very thick and sticky.]

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar filling evenly over batter. Dollop teaspoons of remaining batter evenly over cinnamon-sugar filling. [You won’t be able to spread it!] Gaps are okay. The filling can peek through.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over bars.

Chocolate Quinoa Brownies!I have no idea how I came across this recipe, but I guess it doesn’t really matter! I bookmarked this recipe a while ago, and ran across it yesterday when I was looking for something to bake today. Who wouldn’t want to bake on the 4th of July? It’s only 99 degrees here, and cooler than it’s supposed to be the rest of the week. Perfect time to turn on the oven, right? My concession to the heat was to bake this morning, before it was too hot outside.

I cook with quinoa frequently and like its versatility. I can use it for sweet or savory dishes, and it goes with most anything. In this case, quinoa replaces flour to give substance to the brownies. I wasn’t sure how these would turn out, but the reviews were good so I thought they were worth the try. I’m glad I made them – they’re really quite good!! Click for recipe.

These are very moist, more similar to the texture of a flourless chocolate torte than a brownie. The rich, chocolate goodness satisfied my chocolate craving, and so far I’ve managed not to eat the whole pan. (I’m so proud!) With proper blending, the quinoa isn’t noticeable, so if you’re looking for a healthy sneak or need something flourless, this is a good choice. The only change I made to the recipe was to add ¼ cup of walnuts to the top before baking. I think nuts accent the chocolate flavor and I like the crunch factor. If you don’t like nuts, leave them off and sprinkle powdered sugar on top after they cool.Mixing up Chocolate Quinoa Brownies

If these were cut into squares, I think they’d be OK to handle and transport, but they’re very soft and will need some support. For some weird reason I don’t own square pans, so I used a 9” round pan. (My birthday’s coming up, so there’s a gift idea for someone!) Anyway, the wedges would be great for plating up with some fresh whipped cream and berries!

Chocolate Quinoa Brownies are really easy to make – you put everything in a food processor and turn it on until your mixture is smooth, then bake! But I think I burned out the motor in my processor making Nutter Butter Truffles awhile back, and even if I didn’t, it’s boxed up in the garage and I was too lazy to get it out. Instead, I tried to use my stick blender. That didn’t work well; I think the mixture might have been too thick/dry. So it was on to my blender, which is quite sturdy and has a “Puree” function. That worked splendidly, and after a couple of minutes of whirling blades, the brownies were ready to go into the oven.

I wrapped a brownie and threw it into the freezer to see how they hold up. Hopefully, they’ll freeze well and I’ll have a stash ready for one of those times when I “need” a brownie!

 Chocolate Quinoa Brownies - Out of the blender, into the oven!Note: The quinoa used in this recipe is cooked with more water than normal for a smoother texture. If you’re making a larger batch of quinoa and measuring out some to make the brownies, mine measured about 2 1/3 cups of cooked quinoa, but you might want to use a little less. If you’re using quinoa cooked with the normal amount of water, yours may be a bit crunchier. That’s probably OK – just something to be aware of!

Have you tried chia seeds? Yes, those things we smear on clay figures then water and watch sprout. If you haven’t, you should. Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding

Not only are they fun for entertaining us, but they’re good for eating, too! They pack a pretty good nutritional wallop for just a small amount of seeds. Chia seeds were an important part in ancient Aztec and Mayan diets because of their richness in omega-3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants, high fiber content, and benefits of several other nutrients. They can be eaten as-is, no processing or cooking required. I put them in yogurt and smoothies and sneak them into muffins, oatmeal cookies, and most anything that doesn’t require a silky texture.

I found this recipe online at a site called skinnytaste. The original recipe uses mango, but I don’t like mango so I substituted frozen blueberries. Use whatever fruit you like, but be cautious about using something that browns when exposed to air, like apples or bananas. You’d need to toss those in a bit of citrus juice before stirring them in. Click for recipe.

Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding - ready to mix up!It takes no time to mix this up, but it needs to sit in the frig for 5-6 hours or overnight, so plan ahead. The finished pudding is light and refreshing, and I really liked it! The chia seeds mimic tapioca, absorbing about 4 times their volume in liquid, so if you like tapioca you’ll probably like this. Mine didn’t set up as thick as a regular pudding or tapioca, but that might be from all the moisture the frozen blueberries added. Overall I’d say it’s fairly healthy if you keep the sugar down or don’t add it at all (I didn’t use any).

Give it a try and see what you think. It’ll make a nice snack by itself or be a good component in a healthy breakfast. I’ll definitely be making this again, and stirring in whatever fruit I have handy!

Lemon Brownies

Lemon BrowniesMore citrus, please! Apparently I like citrus lately. I recently posted the Key Lime Cream Cake I made. Tonight I made Lemon Brownies. Ever heard of those? I hadn’t either, until I found this recipe! I wondered if the texture would be like a brownie or a cake. Recently I made an Apple Brownie recipe, but that had the texture of a cake. It was very good, but it was a cake, not a brownie, so I was a bit disappointed.  I like the dense texture of brownies — not the really gooey ones, but the heavier, drier type.

Well, I “needed” to know the texture of these! I had all the ingredients in-house for this and it’s very simple, so I gave it a try. I made a double batch to fill a 9 x 13 pan because I think making anything in an 8 x 8 pan is a waste of time. By the time I have enough “samples” to determine if I like something or not, there isn’t enough left for anyone else! So 9 x 13 it was. Click for recipe.

While the recipe called for zest and juice from a fresh lemon, I used dried zest from a jar and juice from a bottle. I suspect the lemon flavor may be a bit more pronounced with fresh zest, but I was not disappointed in the flavor of mine. Lemon Brownie Glaze

I wonder about making these with other citrus flavors such as key lime or tangerine, and think I’ll have to give those other flavors a try. But for now, I’m quite satisfied with my lemon brownies!

The only problem I might have is making them last until Monday so I can share them at work. I certainly don’t need to eat a whole pan of them myself, but I’m sure I could!

Lemon Brownies

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes
Stuff you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Now what?
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Mix in the softened butter.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice and zest.
Add to the larger bowl and mix well.

Pour into lightly greased 9 x 13″ pan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely before adding glaze.

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
additional lemon zest
Stir together and spread over cooled brownies.

Wow – it’s been too long since I posted any recipes! It’s not that I haven’t been baking, because I have. In fact, I’ve got my third cake for the week in the oven as I write this. I’ll get those recipes posted later. Raspberry Magic Bars & Peanut Butter Brownies

For now, since I’ve been such a slacker, here are two recipes I made recently to take to the dojo. I’m always hungry after a workout, especially after those two hour pre-black belt test workouts. And because I think every event needs treats (you know I do!), I made some goodies to help everyone replace the calories we’d just burned off. Both recipes are simple, and both travel well. Click for recipes.

Raspberry Magic BarsThe Raspberry Magic Bars are adapted from the classic Magic Bar recipe. Instead of using chocolate chips, these use jam or preserves for a fruity twist. I chose seedless raspberry preserves with almonds for the filling. The result was a very simple, but delicious treat which truly is magical! They are a very sweet bar, so if you prefer things a little less sweet, you can make some adjustments.

For me, the next time I make them, I’ll use a little less jam, substitute a stronger nut such as pecans or walnuts, and add some dark chocolate chunks or chips. I think the dark chocolate and raspberry will nicely complement each other. Mmmm… I can’t wait to try that combination! If you have a favorite preserve flavor or jam, use that instead of the raspberry.

 Peanut Butter BrowniesThe Peanut Butter Brownies were OK. I can’t say they were my favorite brownie recipe, but I’ll probably give them another try. They start with a brownie mix, so they’re fairly simple. Keep an eye on the baking time so they don’t dry out. While the recipe calls for creamy peanut butter, I think they’d be good with chunky peanut butter or with the addition of chopped peanuts or peanut butter chips.

There you go. Two sweets to help you get your sugar fix! 

This is a favorite cookie from my childhood, one that I enjoy as much today as I did when Mom made them for our family. I love the peanut butter with the crunch of the corn flakes – it’s breakfast without the bowl and milk! 

I ate these as a kid and I’ve made them for my kids. They’re simple to make, don’t require baking, and they’re delish! I love introducing people to this cookie – without fail, they are quickly gobbled up and people want to know how to make them. Click for recipe.

These cookies travel well and hold up nicely in the heat, so they’ve become a “go-to” recipe when I need something to take along. I shared them with my team when we helped build a house in the 96 degree heat last summer, and while they got a bit warm, they didn’t melt or fall apart.

The Recipe Guardians

This recipe is a family classic, and so important to us that it’s kept on our frig and guarded by my guys — The Chunky Monkey and The Pretty One. You can see it’s a well-loved recipe by the peanut butter speckles on the recipe card! 

Normally I make these with regular corn flakes. The cheapest generic brand doesn’t hold up the best, so keep that in mind when buying your ingredients. I have friends who make them with Special K, and I used Honey Bunches of Oats this last time because I had a lot in the house. They were good, with the honey adding a slight sweetness and the bunches adding a bit of extra crunch. I liked them, but will probably use regular corn flakes in the next batch because they’re a little less sweet. You can use regular or crunchy peanut butter, whichever you have on hand.

I hope you enjoy these! If you make a variation of this cookie, I hope you’ll share how you do it.