Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Birthday BFF - Part I

It's my BFF's birthday today! Happy Birthday Bitches!

She is such a wonderful friend.

I first met Beth in February 2004. My husband and I were in a small bible study group of about 10 people. It was based around the book, The Purpose Driven Life. (If you haven't read it, I implore you do. It's amazing!) Beth's parents were in the group as well.

I get little panic attacks when I'm in a group of people - mainly when it's people I don't know. I don't know why this happens, but it's been something I've been dealing with for years. I learned to suck it up and hide it very well and often use humor to deflect my uncomfortableness. Beth's Mama, Bonnie, would laugh at the things I said. On several occasions, she mentioned, "You have to meet our Beth! You'd get on so well with her!"

The Dubya's** invited us to their home for lunch on Sunday afternoon to meet the rest of their family. About 10 minutes after meeting her, I was like, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?"

Beth: Wanna go shopping?
Me: Always!
Beth: Wanna go now?
Me: Hell Yeah.
Beth: So, you like Value Village?
Me: Yeah I do!
Beth: Okay, let's go! 

Bonding over thrift items, I couldn't be happier.

You're an amazing girl Bethaniel. I'm so blessed you're in my life. I hope you have the best day ever. xoox

** last name kinda sorta changed to protect the innocent.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake

You know the statement, "You learn something new everyday"? Here is a little fact that I learned today. Disney Fairies (as in Tinkerbell and friends) apparently smell like cinnamon. Not like flowers, not like pine trees, or a sunny Spring morning, but cinnamon. Hmm.

I am a cinnamon LOVAH. It's one of my most favorite smells. Except for cinnamon candles. They smell like a bad mix of artificial spices and old ladies. Not a pleasant aroma to the nose.

I really love cinnamon rolls/buns, especially Cinnabon. Some of my favorite memories of dating my husband was introducing him to new foods. I remember this one particular time I made the six hour drive to see him and we went to the mall. (Later learning that he is SO NOT a mall kind of person, but I am appreciative he did those things to make me happy - and still does!) I introduced him to his first warm and gooey Cinnabon along with an ice cold pint of milk. I don't think I've ever seen a man so happy. 

As much as I love them, I find them tedious to make and can't be bothered, unless it's a special occasion or holiday. Until I found this number. It's got the star quality of a cinnamon roll/bun, but simplicity written all over it. 

Kind of like me. Gooeyness included.

Cinnamon Roll Cake
Recipe adapted and slightly modified from the Picky Palate

3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup butter, melted

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
⅔ cups nuts, optional

2 cups powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In an electric or stand mixer mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla. Once combined well, slowly stir in melted butter. Be warned: Once the butter is added, the batter will creep up the beaters! Have a spatula/scraper on hand.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. 

In a large bowl, mix softened butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nuts (if using) until well combined. Drop evenly over cake batter by the tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out nearly clean from center. (My cake took the full 30 minutes).

Don't be alarmed if there is some movement when time is up. The first time I made it, I panicked as it was super buttery and looked a mess. This is why I changed the butter portion for the topping from 1 cup to ½ cup butter and that did the trick! As long as the cake portion is baked and the toothpick is clean, it's fine. As the cake cools, the topping WILL solidify.

To make icing, combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields: 12-16 servings.

Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

It's been a wonderful holiday from beginning to end. Start to finish. I can't believe how blessed I am! I have a beautiful family who are happy and healthy, a lovely home in a lovely part of the world, incredible and amazing friends....I can't ask for more than that, but the Good Lord continues to bless me.

Of course with the holidays comes oodles and oodles of chocolate. I curse myself every New Year. I buy way too much and end up with even more. It's a illness I tell you. However, I would be lying if I said I don't get excited with the prospect of creating some new recipes or taking some I've had my eye on for a spin. 

However, this year I decided to bag up every last piece of chocolate and sent it with hubby to work. It's too tempting for me and figured it's better on their bums than mine.

Of course, asking me to abstain from sugar is like asking a fish to ride a bike. As amusing it would be to watch, it won't have a good outcome. 

So enjoy these mini pineapple upside down cakes. Sugar goodness. Chocolate-free.

But keep a chocolate stash close by. You don't want to hurt its feelings.


¾ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 can sliced pineapple rings
6 maraschino cherries

For the cake portion, I used a box yellow cake mix. Easy peasy. Just follow instructions on the back of the box. I substituted applesauce for the oil and added a few tablespoons of the pineapple juice.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray your muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.  I used a mini bundt pan, but if you don't have one, you can use a jumbo muffin pan or even a regular size pan.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir on low heat for one minute.

Place a pineapple ring in the bottom of each muffin tin. Add a cherry in the middle of each pineapple. If you use a regular tin, you will need to cut the pineapple to fit.

Spoon over a layer of the warm brown sugar mixture. Pour cake mixture over to fill muffin tin ¾ of the way full. 

Bake for 20 -25 minutes, depending on pan size you will be using. Let cakes cool in pan for 3 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake to help loosen in case it sticks a little. Place a wire cooling rack on top, and quickly flip over. 

Yields: 6 jumbo or 12 regular size cakes.

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eggnog Pound Cake

Christmas was awesome. Simply awesome. The big, jolly man made the trek to our house and came down the chimney - actually, this year, he came through the front door. My ever growing clever daughter asked, "How will Santa get through the glass on the fireplace, Mommy?" Sigh. 

I had to be one step ahead of clever clogs and pull out the big guns. A very special magic key, exclusively for Santa. Universal for any door. Thankfully, I picked one up several years ago on sale at the Hallmark Shop. Once I explained to her the procedure, she seemed content and asked no more questions.

After Santa delivered on the goods, he and I kicked back and noshed on some eggnog pound cake and tea while watching classic Christmas movies; stealing kisses here and there. Brings a whole new perspective to the classic Christmas song, "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus", except my kids were sound asleep and that song is utterly ridiculous. I mean, OUR Santa wears flannel pajama bottoms and a well loved and worn Scott Dixon Indycar racing t-shirt. If he actually dressed up as Santa and delivered presents like that, I may laugh at him for all eternity.

But for the record, Santa's an awesome kisser.


1 box yellow cake mix - I used Duncan Hines. You can also use a pound cake mix.
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1½ cups eggnog
4 eggs
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Eggnog Glaze: (optional, but AMAZING with this cake!)

1½ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat all ingredients together at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

Pour into two lightly greased 9x5-inch loaf pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2012! Happy New Year and Happy Baking! 

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Turtles

Wanna make the easiest treat on the planet? Then child, do I have the treat for you! The secret? It's only 3 ingredients. Yes, that's right my pretty. Three.

Now there is no excuse to show up to a Christmas party empty-handed. Unless of course you lose all control and eat them en route.

Which is a totally understandable.


1 bag waffle-style pretzels
Rolos - Here is a little tip I learned. When purchasing Rolos, buy the ones you find in a roll, not individually wrapped. Otherwise, you'll be peeling foil off for hours.
Halved pecans

Preheat oven to 300F. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, arrange pretzels and place Rolo on top.

Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes - just until the chocolate is soft. Take tray out of the oven and immediately place a pecan on top, applying gentle pressure. Be sure not to smush too hard or you'll end up with a mess.

Allow to fully cool at room temperature before enjoying or packaging.

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flourless Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now that Thanksgiving is over (and a wonderful day it was), my cookie selection for Christmastime begins. It's the one time of year I look forward to baking for 4 straight days in a row.

Where I come from, the definition of a Christmas cookie is, "Anything that is homemade during Christmas and for Christmas". Where I live, it's "Anything that looks difficult to make using lots of ingredients while donning the colors of red, green, and blue in or on it". I have actually gotten into several heated arguments with people about what a Christmas cookie is. My answer will always remain the same every time - if a cookie is made at Christmastime, it's a Christmas cookie. Period. Period. and Period.

While I love almost every cookie known to man, there are some I just do not. Cookies with any sort of dried fruit in them such cherries, apricots, or pineapple are forbidden near me (however, cranberries and raisins are embraced with open arms) and cookies with ginger as the main ingredient need not apply. I also don't like care for cookies that have way too many nuts or are swimming in powdered sugar. Someone once told me that shortbread is not a Christmas cookie. Tell that to any true Brit and they'll smack you senseless.

Of course, my Christmas Baking Extravaganza 2011 will kick off in a few short weeks, I can't forget about my wonderful gluten-intolerant husband. I know he will be pretty bummed that there will be cookies he can't eat without feeling the effects the following day. I have searched for some recipes that will appeal to him and his digestive system and found this delightful cookie. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Chip Cookies will make his days merry and bright. 

And score me an extra present in my Christmas sack! 

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Recipe Girl

 3 cups powdered sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (to ensure a gluten-free cookie, use gluten-free chocolate chips) 

Peanut Butter Drizzle
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with silicone mats for best results - you can also use parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt. 


Whisk in egg whites. You'll be looking for a brownie-like consistency. If the batter seems too thick, add another egg white, up to the 4th if needed. Add vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened. 


Gently stir in chocolate chips.  


I strongly recommend refrigerating batter for about 10-15 minutes. This will help avoid cookies spreading into one big cookie, but the key to avoiding big cookies is using scant a teaspoon when placing on the cookie tray.

Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets. These will spread, so allow for some room.

Bake about 14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Carefully place onto wire racks. Let cookies cool completely.

Melt peanut butter chips and milk in microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle over top of cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yields: About 2½ dozen.

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Banana Walnut Cookies

Did you ever have so many bananas that you don't know what to do with them? 

That's me. All the time. 

I am a sucker for slightly off bananas in the grocery store. I'll buy them, peel them, and stick them in Ziploc bags until I can use them. I found several bags in the freezer the other day and realized I need to curb my impulse for buying anymore.

As much as I love banana bread and muffins, sometimes I want something different besides the usual suspects. Like cookies. I always want cookies.

Enter Banana Walnut Cookies. I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but thought I have nothing to lose, aside from some of the bananas, and everything to gain, like freezer space.

As a girl, space is crucial. No matter where it is. The freezer should be no exception.


2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup ground flax seeds
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ cups mashed banana
½ cups steel cut oats, finely ground
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, flax seeds, and salt until well blended; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well blended.

Add egg and bananas. I pureed the bananas with ½ cup oatmeal to add some extra goodness. By grinding/breaking down the oatmeal with the bananas, it helps yield a smoother looking cookie.

Stir in the flour mixture on low speed until just combined.

Stir in walnuts.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing.

Yields: About 2½ dozen

Happy Baking!

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