Category Archives: Desserts

Happy Father’s Day! Circus Peanut Salad

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Happy Father’s Day to all the special men in my life, my dad and my husband.  My father is a man with strong morals and even though he didn’t always know the perfect thing to say or do sometimes as I was growing up, I always knew he would be willing to do anything for me and wanted me to be happy.  The picture below is of me and my dad.  My mom tells me that I tried on that dress before dad got home and asked her something about looking pretty in my dress and dancing…I think, something like that.  When dad came in she told him what I had said and he comes in and tells me how beautiful I was in my dress and he just had to dance with me, and there we are, dancing in the family room.

me and dad

My dad is a simple man, but the little, simple things like that stick with you…and make me realize as I am raising my son the little things like this…or how dad would give us a “horse ride” on his back right before bed, those are the memories Alex will take with him and cherish as he grows up.  Bernie is a great dad and is already helping me make those memories for Alex.  I couldn’t have picked a better daddy for my little boy.

Alex and Daddy

I obviously love to cook for people, that is how I show I care.  Evidently I am a lot like my dad’s mom, in that way.  She was an Indiana gal raised on a farm and a great cook.  A while back my dad found her hand written recipes and I am really excited that he gave them to me.  It is really neat to have her hand written recipes and gives me a connection to her to hold onto.  It also makes me wish she was still here, I could have learned a lot from her in the kitchen.  Dad has been asking about this circus peanut salad for so long – no, not peanuts but those big, bright orange, pure sugar candies…you know the ones- and I thought this would be a nice surprise for Father’s Day.

We had another dessert but I had to have dad taste test this before I left and evidently I pulled through and it tasted like hers!  I can’t wait to try more of her recipes in the future and dad, I have an extra bag of circus peanuts so you will probably be getting another batch in the future!

Circus Peanut Salad

Circus Peanut Salad

Circus Peanut Salad, from my Grandma

Ingredients:
30 Circus Peanuts, cut up into small pieces
1-6oz package of orange jello
2-8oz cans of crushed pineapple
2 cups boiling water
2 cups cold water
1 container whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Dissolve jello in boiling water.  Once jello powder is incorporated, add circus peanuts to dissolve.

Drain cans of pineapple and add juice to the cold water.  Mix pineapple liquid with the first mixture.  Place in fridge and allow to partially set.

Mix whipped topping and crushed pineapple.  Fold whipped topping mixture into the jello and place back in fridge to set.

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Chewy Brownies

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I had actually never made brownies from scratch, I can’t believe it. Bernie’s mom loves chocolate so whenever she comes over I try to have something with chocolate for dessert. I have made cupcakes and various other treats and this time I thought brownies would do the trick. At first I thought I wanted something with some mix-ins or caramel but then I realized I am a working mom with 1,000 other things to do and I just wanted a good, fool-proof recipe that would be relatively easy. When I saw this recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated I knew it would be good, and who doesn’t love a chocolaty, gooey brownie? These are really rich and fudgy, perfect to go along with a tall glass of milk. While it is really tempting to eat right out of the oven, try to wait until they have cooled, they will be much easier to get out of the pan.

Cook’s Illustrated Chewy Brownies, from Project Domestication

Ingredients:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. + 2 TB boiling water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 9×13 pan or line with foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa powder into boiling water until combined. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until melted and combined.

Whisk in butter and oil. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, whisk until smooth.

Mix in sugar until fully incorporated.

With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and salt until combined. Mix in chocolate chunks.

Scrape the batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake 35-40 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares (if you can resist!).

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Strawberry cake – with real strawberries!

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Have you ever searched for a recipe for strawberry cake?  It is really hard to find a recipe without strawberry jello or something else that is artificial.  My mom wanted a strawberry cake to celebrate her birthday and this fit the bill.  I was thrilled to find this recipe that actually uses real strawberries!  This is a really moist, dense cake but it is fresh and has a delicious strawberry flavor.  I cut back the sugar, which I usually do, and I don’t think the flavor or sweetness suffered – there is plenty of natural sweetness from all the strawberries in the recipe.  The cake has a nice light pink color – without any food dye.  I used this strawberry frosting, which has an intense strawberry flavor from the strawberry reduction!

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Strawberry Cake, from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients:

For the strawberry puree:

  • 24 oz very ripe strawberries, hulled
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (optional)

For the cake:

  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8-9″ cake pans or cupcake pan.

Wash, hull and slice strawberries.  Places in a medium sized bowl and toss with sugar if desired, let sit for 1-2 hours until nice and juicy.  Puree strawberries in food processor and set aside.  Reserve 3/4 cup of puree for the cake.  The rest can be used in frosting, or something else.

In a separate medium sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, whip butter until fluffy, then cream sugar into butter until smooth.  Incorporate vanilla extract and egg whites one at a time.

Mix in flour mixture gradually until just combined.  Combine strawberry puree and milk and fold into batter by hand.

Bake cake for 25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean (cupcakes about 15-20 minutes).  Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Yields one two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes

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Happy Birthday Grandma!

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies

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Let me warn you, making these was a really bad idea.  These were so good I could not leave them alone.  Thank goodness my parents were kind enough to let me bring some over so I didn’t gobble up the whole bunch in one day.  My parents and Bernie described these blondies as pumpkin coffee cake, I think it taste like pumpkin pie goodness.  They are super moist and you get a little sweetness from the white chocolate bits.  Bring on the pumpkin for fall!!

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies, from Cate’s World Kitchen

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease 9X13 pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree. Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares!

And look at this little boy who has been growing like a weed the last month!!

Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

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I love oatmeal.  Not only is it a healthy option, being a whole grain, but baking with it just provides such good flavor.  I am not saying oatmeal cookies are healthy, but they sure do taste good.  My all-time favorite cookies are made with oatmeal, Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies.  Those are going to be hard to top, but these cookies are still delicious.  A little crunch on the outside and moist on the inside, the texture is perfect.

Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, from Baking Illustrated

Ingredients

1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raisins (not packed)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.

With mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.

With a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula, stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture.  Once combined, stir in oats and raisins.

Working with 2 tablespoons of dough each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets – at least 2 inches apart.

Bake until edges turn golden brown, approximately 22-25 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack.  Let cool at least 30 minutes (or not, like me) and enjoy!

This is supposed to yield 18 large cookies, but I ended up making about 24.

Nutrition per cookie (yielding 24 cookies): 215 calories, 8.8g fat, 5.2g saturated fats, 36.1mg cholesterol, 70.7mg sodium, 42.7g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 25.9g sugar, 2.4g protein

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Really

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Ok, so I have declared a previous recipe the best for chocolate chip cookies – and it is good, but I really think I have found a replacement.  Now, I have to admit that during my pregnancy I have turned to Bernie while eating things like frozen pizza and “pigs in a blanket” and said they were the best ever, surprised when he didn’t share my enthusiasm.  To my defense – Bernie really liked these too.  I used bittersweet and milk chocolate because I didn’t have any semisweet and, I liked the mix.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium-sized bowl, set aside.  Using mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.  Next, beat in vanilla and eggs.  Stir flour mixture into wet mixture until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven and enjoy!

Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies

Mother’s Day and Strawberry Cake/Cupcakes

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Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful Mom.  She is the strongest woman I know and I am so thankful for everything she has done to help me become the woman I am today.

Me, my Mom, and Sister-in-Law Laura on Mother's Day

Mom got to pick dessert for our lunch today, and she picked this strawberry cake.  I have made this cake 3 times now, in the last month, since finding this recipe.  This is the first recipe for strawberry I have found that does not include strawberry gelatin in the ingredients – all of the flavor comes from fresh strawberries, as does the nice pink color.  I have made a cake and also cupcakes, and both are delicious.

Strawberry Cake/Cupcakes, from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients

3/4 cup strawberry puree – see below
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature

***for the strawberry puree you can use either frozen or fresh (hulled) strawberries (I have used both, and they were both fine).  If you use frozen strawberries be sure to thaw and drain juices.  Just puree strawberries in a food processor and you are all set.  I used about a dozen fresh strawberries and that is plenty for 3/4 cup.  Another option is to puree extra strawberries to use as a filling in your cake.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, for both cake and cupcakes

Line cupcake pan with paper liners or grease two 8-inch cake pans.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in vanilla extract, milk and egg whites – making sure each ingredient is mixed in well before adding the next.  Fold in strawberry puree.

If making cupcakes, fill liners about 2/3 full.  Bake about 18-20 minutes for cupcakes and about 25 minutes for two 8-inch cake pans or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cakes cool before frosting.  These taste wonderful with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting.