Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Apple Cake--Photo Redo

This is the best apple cake in the world with the best butter sauce in the world. Because of that, it's hard to get a good picture since swarms of hungry savages descend upon it and eat it before you get the chance (or maybe it's just me, hiding in a closet and scooping it out with my hands). Either way, it goes quick, so my last picture just didn't do it justice.

You can eat it plain and it's fabulous.

Or with this pure evil butter sauce up on top. 

You can find the recipe (and original not-great picture) HERE.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Back-to-School Multi-Grain Cookies

(These are actually little mini-cookies.)

These cookies were discovered, as so many good things are, by accident. This weekend in preparation for the Sunday school lesson for the kids at my church, I was trying to make some "manna." Now I'm not claiming to know what manna was, but I'm just going to say that God certainly couldn't have gone too wrong if He'd made these cookies. Sweet with a touch of honey and a variety of grains. And I'll be darned if they don't vanish by the time the sun gets hot (Exod. 16:21 if you're not getting that super clever allusion there). 

Now since we don't have to hang out in the wilderness for 40 years, and since not everyone is on board with Moses and manna, I should tell you that these also make really excellent back-to-school cookies.

They're good to send in lunches; they're great for after school. They can even be eaten for breakfast in a pinch (though I should warn you that they pack a fairly sugary punch). They are not purely nutritious, but they're not without their virtues either.

Make them, eat them, love them. You'll become a believer.

Back-to-School Multi-Grain Cookies
adapted from Rae's Books and Recipes
Make about 24
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Cost: $1.70 ($.07/per cookie)
butter: .60, honey: .40, sugar: .10, eggs: .20, oat flour: .05, whole wheat flour: .10, flax: .15, white flour: .10

1/2 C (1 stick) butter, somewhat soft
1/2 tsp vanilla (and almond extract would kill it in these too)
1/4 C honey
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs (or 3 egg yolks)
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C oat flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C whatever fun flour or nut flour you'd like to add. I used ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat honey and sugar into butter. Add eggs. Add flours and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake on cookie sheet at 375 for 7-10 minutes. (Note: I made mine miniature and therefore am sort of guessing on time for the bigger cookies.

Let cool. Eat.


Monday, August 14, 2017

After School Snacks

Okay, folks, time for some honesty. I rarely do after school snacks. When my kids get home from school, I'm either staring at my computer screen, taking a nap, or racing them home after some errands. I know, I have a really interesting life. But even though I stink at this, I occasionally turn out something pretty awesome. And I'm always happy when I do. So I'm writing this post to inspire all of us if inspiring is what we need. Many of these are simple. Many of them are even healthy. And I really should get better because my kids are always STARVING when they get home and usually end up scavenging through cupboards until they find some year-old marshmallows or some equally unhealthy and generally horrible option to munch on.

We'll go from healthiest to least healthy.

1. Sweet Potato Chips. My biggest problem with these is that I end up eating most of them off the pan and then no one else gets any. Also, know that slicing them is the hardest part--you gotta get em thin. But when you do, they're sooo delicious.

2. Kettle corn. Easy, quick, good. If you have brave eaters who are popcorn lovers, you could try this even healthier option for homemade popcorn--Curried Popcorn.

3. Homemade Larabars. These can be really filling, so don't serve them right before dinner. Also, they're quite sweet, so just know that.

4. Whole Wheat Banana Bread (or muffins). At this time of year, we always have tons of spotty bananas hanging around. Not into bananas? Try this awesome chocolate zucchini bread.

5. Sour Patch Grapes (pictured at top). Regular grapes are healthier, sure. But these are sooo fun. Also, they're a great way to use up sour or otherwise lousy grapes.

And if you're looking for that classic cookie recipe, here it is:

6. Katie's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Or--for a healthier version of that old classic, try these whole grain, lower sugar chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Natural Gatorade

I guess I better confess and say that I can't exactly call this natural Gatorade because what is Gatorade exactly? It's like watered-down Koolaid with electrolytes mixed in, right? And this isn't really an natural version of that sugared, electrolyted drink. What it IS is water that's been pimped up with some natural electrolytes. 

That's right. I just told you that today's recipe is water. Maybe I should feel embarrassed about the state of my lameness, but the truth is that this drink is really very lovely and kind of addicting. I find that I now crave it when I've been out in the heat or had a really hard workout or both (nothing better after hot yoga). You get the hydration and the electrolytes without drinking a lot of sugars and/or sweeteners and food dyes. 

And I do feel that it has more oomph and helps me recover more quickly than plain water. Sometimes after a hot or hard workout, I get headaches and this seems to help with that. I'm not going to call it a miracle tonic, but maybe it kind of is. 

And is it dumb easy? Yes

And is it super cheap? Yes. ($.25 at its highest price compared to the $.99 of Gatorade)

And is it tasty? Surprisingly. 

Half the time when I take a swig of Gatorade, I want to spit it out. It just tastes so fake and almost thick to me. This natural Gatorade is just so refreshing. Note: If you drink Gatorade because you like sweet, red/blue/purple/orange drinks, then you won't get that sweetness from this drink and you might find that disappointing. This isn't sweet. It's a barely flavored water, but what it lacks in sweetness, it makes up for in refreshingness (totally a word). 

Now I'm going to warn you: In this drink I'll instruct you to add salt to your water. And you'll go, "Ew, gross. Who puts salt in your water?" Um, you do if you drink any type of Powerade or Gatorade or probably any other number of processed drinks (Gatorade checks in with a whopping 11% of your daily sodium intake--270 mg). But that's not the point. The point is that we're going to add salt, but this still won't taste salty. It's just a pinch. Even alone in the water, you probably wouldn't notice it, but with that lemon, it's actually a really nice complement. Just be sure to mix it in (or you'll get a somewhat nasty last swig of water). Also, you MUST use a natural salt. First of all, it supposedly has more benefits (the naturalists will tell you that iodized salt is really just a processed food), but perhaps even more importantly--it tastes better. There's not that little hint of iodine that you can sometimes taste in regular table salt.

Natural Gatorade
Cost: $.28
lemon: .25 (I can usually get my lemons for cheaper, especially from somewhere like an Asian market), salt: .03

2 C water
1 pinch (or 1-2 grinds) natural sea salt (I used pink Himalayan because I had a tiny sample from a market, but any natural sea salt will work)
juice from 1/2 lemon or lime

Mix it all together. Be sure to get the salt dissolved and mixed in (just stir it a few times) or you will taste a big swig of saltiness at the bottom. 

Drink it. That's right. It's not the rocket science of recipes, but try it. I'd love to hear what you think of it after a workout. If it works for you, leave a comment below. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

High Energy Snacks for Your Pregnant/Nursing/Ironman Friends

Now there's a title that will get all of zero searches...

But seriously, recently a friend of mine just had a baby. We took her these Magic Sevens because they are her favorite. I'm not sure if it was a good thing to do to a new mom or an evil thing to do to a new mom. But it did get me thinking of all the virtuously hearty snacks I could have brought her, but didn't, because I'm one of those evil-good friends.

And then our other friend completed his first Ironman. I didn't bring him any food, but I did ask how his sunburn was. Which I think we can all agree is insufficient consolation for not bringing high energy snacks to his house. #badfriend

Since I am clearly a bad person, I thought I'd try to make it up to everyone by posting some really great snacks for people who need healthy foods in those healthy bods that are burning calories like crazy. (Note: Posting recipes does not make up for not bringing food to people. This only confirms my bad person status. I apologize.)

1. Little Balls of Nutty Energy. I think the title says enough. 

2. Granola Balls. A similar theme to the nutty balls (wait, that doesn't sound how I meant it to sound...), but less nutty, more oaty.

3. Cheapskate Larabars. I love these with my soul.

4. Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies. Some of the best breakfast cookies on my blog.

5. Honey Lemon Tumeric Energy Bites. If you want to be trendy and natural and awesome.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Brownie Mousse Cheesecake

I should be posting red, white, and blue things right now. Instead I'm posting chocolate and cheesecake, and more chocolate. I still think it's pretty American.

My friend made a recipe similar to this for a party she threw a few months ago and it was so amazingly delicious that I knew I wanted to make it too. But when? My family is a little picky about cheesecake. So I worried that I would make this lovely, delicious thing, and have to eat it all by myself. There are worse fates in the world. But, well, I did turn 40 this year. And eating entire cheesecakes on my own didn't seem like the responsible thing to do. So I waited.

And then my niece visited. We had a birthday party for her. And she wanted cheesecake. Done and done. (P.S. EVERYONE--even devout cheesecake haters liked this recipe)

Now, I'm not gonna lie, this is fussier than a normal batch of cookies or wacky cake or whatever. BUT it is less fussy than something with three layers might normally be. The brownie is easy to throw together. The cheesecake is easy to throw together. The mousse is easy to throw together (and it doesn't have to be cooked).

That said, even though there is not too much hands on work, there is a very long, low cook time for the cheesecake, and several cooling periods. This needs to be made a day ahead when you have time to let things cool off. It just can't be rushed.

Now for a confession: I accidentally bought TWO fat free cream cheeses without realizing it. I pretty much consider fat free cream cheese Satan's cheese. But I unknowingly made my cheesecake anyway, and the texture was a little different than it should have been (which led us to discover my mistake). BUT it was STILL amazing. Even with the devil's cheese at its center. I'm sure there's a moral here somewhere, but I can't quite find it. Anyway, the point is that this is so good that even less than perfect ingredients will not destroy it (though, really, people, when making a brownie mousse cheesecake, please, just do the world a favor and use full fat cream cheese).

Brownie Mousse Cheesecake
makes 1 10-inch cake
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours (yup, you heard me)
Cost: Let's not talk about it on birthdays. Seriously, though--the total is about $8.50 or the cost of ONE slice of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, so it could be worse, right (unless you eat the whole thing yourself like an irresponsible adult, in which case, I cannot help you, friend)
Brownie layer: $1.50, cheesecake layer: $4.00, mousse layer $3.00 (Aldi prices)


1/2 C butter (1 stick, partially melted)
1/2 C cocoa
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C flour
3/4-1 C dark chocolate chips

Combine butter and cocoa. Add sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour just until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Spread batter in a greased  9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Bake for only 10 minutes. It's going to look raw-ish. It's going to be raw-ish. That's because you're going to bake it more when you add the cheesecake layer, so don't fret.

Allow to cool (or mostly cool) before adding the cheesecake layer.


3 packages cream cheese (24 oz total)
3/4 tsp lemon zest
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp whipping cream

Beat cream cheese. Add zest. Then eggs. Add vanilla and whipping cream.

Pour this mixture on top of your partially baked brownie.

Now you are going to do something slightly odd. You're going to bake it at a very low temperature for a very long time. This is going to keep your brownie from burning or overcooking while allowing your cheesecake to cook into velvety perfection.

Bake at 250 for about 2 hours or until the temperature at the center reaches 160. It'll still jiggle. [Note: Since I did make this with the wrong kind of cream cheese, you might want to check this before 2 hours to make sure that the weird fatless cheese didn't mess with it's cooking time somehow. I doubt it did but one can never be sure with the devil's cheese.]

Take it out and allow it to cool. This will take a few hours, so plan for that, my friends.


2 Tbsp cocoa
5 Tbsp hot water
7 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Combine cocoa powder and hot water; set aside.

Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Set that aside too.

Whip the cream, sugar, and salt. Instructions for whipping cream here if you need them.

Whisk the cocoa water into the melted chocolate. Be sure both have cooled somewhat (they can be warm, but not hot). Then fold part of the whipped cream into the mixture. Fold more in, and more again until it's a lovely chocolatey yum. This is mousse.

Spread it on the cooled cheesecake.

But you're still not done. It needs to set for about an hour. Otherwise it won't be as firm as it should be.

You can top this with a ganache or whipped cream and chocolate shavings (which is what we chose) or nothing at all).

All that waiting has been worth it. Enjoy!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

If you want cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you have a few options: 1) Wake up at the crack of dawn, 2) Eat breakfast at 10 in the morning after all your children have completely melted down and have been condemned to spend the rest of eternity in time out, or 3) figure out how to do the bulk of the work the night before.

Option 3 is clearly preferable, but it's also tricky. What if your rolls rise to the sun in your refrigerator and you open it to find yeasty bread bursting out of ever seam and crevice? Or what if they don't rise at all and you wind up serving tiny rocks of sweet calorie bombs to your loved ones (I won't say it's never happened before...)? What if what if what if?

On Father's Day I had the chance to experiment.

And the truth is that I don't know if there's exactly a one-size-fix-all solution. Yeasts act differently depending on how old or fresh they are, and also how the yeasting gods are feeling today. Every batch of dough has a slightly different amount of flour. Even changes in weather and humidity are going to affect your bread. So should you just give up? Um, no. We're talking about morning of cinnamon rolls here.

Below you'll find a how-to with a little bit of trouble shooting advice. May it make your mornings glorious.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Overnight:

1. Make your dough.
2. Roll out your rolls and add all the yummy stuff
3. Cut them and put them in a greased baking vessel
4. Cover that baking vessel with plastic wrap and possibly a lid and put it in your refrigerator.
5. Remove it the next morning and let it warm up a bit as your oven heats.
6. Cook your cinnamon rolls.
7. Enjoy bliss.

Trouble Shooting:

Scenario A: Your rolls don't rise at all. This happened to me. In this case, you'll need a few extra minutes, but only about fifteen.

Put the sad, un-risen rolls in an oven heated to a very low temperature--about 175 or 200 degrees. Leave it there for 3-5 minutes. Turn OFF the heat. Then leave it for another 10 minutes.

Take the rolls out, cover with a towel, preheat the oven, and cook. By the time the oven is heated, those rolls will have risen and you'll be good to go.

Total time: 15 minutes to get jump started, 10-15 minutes for your oven to heat, 15 minutes to cook (45, which is a lot, but way less than the 2 1/2 hours you're looking at if this is a from-scratch thing)

Scenario B: Your rolls rise to the heavens, leaving us mere earthlings behind to mourn their air-bubbled loss.

The most important way to stop this is just to get that dough cold ASAP. Put it into the refrigerator immediately. If your house is particularly warm and/or your yeast is particularly sassy (in other words, did your dough rise like a boss on its first rise?), put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then put it in the refrigerator (don't forget or your dough will freeze and when that happens, no amount of trouble shooting will save you).

And of course, if you want a fantastic recipe, HERE you go.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Vegan Coconut Lime Rice Pudding

I'm not a vegan and I won't even post a vegan recipe just for its veganiness That said, I often post a delicious recipe that also happens to be vegan. Truth be told, I didn't even realize this recipe was vegan at first. I was just experimenting with a coconut lime rice, and there it was. (I should also note that it is also completely gluten-free, so I'm pretty sure I'm not assured a spot in heaven.)

This recipe is also really really easy. In fact, you can make the base rice for this recipe to eat with any Thai or Asian meal, and then re-purpose it for dessert (should you choose; or you can just start with dessert; no one's judging here).

And while we're talking about re-purposing, you can absolutely eat this for breakfast. Make it with brown or black rice and you don't even have to feel the tiniest little bit guilty eating it for breakfast. Guys--it will be vegan, gluten-free, and whole grain. Not to mention that powerhouse in trendy nutrition: coconut milk. I'm just saying that you're probably a bad person if you don't do it. But, you know, no judgment.

Also, since this is rice based, it is so absurdly cheap for a dessert, well, I just can't help but love it. It comes in at about $.25/serving.

And did I mention that the hands-on preparation for this is less than five minutes...

Vegan Coconut Lime Rice Pudding
serves 8
coconut rice from Ahead of Thyme
Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $2.10 (that's about $.25/serving)
rice: .25, coconut milk: 1.50, lime: .25, sugar: .10

2 C jasmine rice (any other type of rice works as well, but jasmine is my favorite)
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 C water
1 lime
1/2 C sugar (regular will do, but if you're a real vegan, raw or natural sugars work too)
raisins (optional and I know they sound weird, but I liked them)

To prepare rice, put rice, coconut milk, and water into a saucepan. Stir it a bit to get rid of any large lumps in the coconut milk (alternately, if you have some foresight about lumps as opposed to myself, you can put the coconut milk and water in the pot and stir first, then add it to the rice). COVER with a lid and set to medium heat. Bring to boiling, reduce to LOW heat. Let cook until rice has absorbed all of the liquids, about 20 minutes. (If you don't cook this on low heat, you risk having the coconut milk burn/brown on the bottom of the pot.)

Remove from heat and let cool (you can leave a bit warm depending on whether you like your rice pudding warm or cold).

Add the juice from the lime. Add the sugar. Add a bit of lime zest if desired. Note: The truth is that the measurements for the lime and the sugar are COMPLETELY arbitrary (you heard me). You can make this as sweet or as tart as you like. I made it with several different levels of lime and sugar and found I pretty much liked it all ways. So start with a little of each, keep tasting and add more if you want.

Mix sugar and lime together with the rice.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Lime Cilantro Chicken

New addiction. Ad-dic-tion.

This is sooo good. And it's good in everything. It's good alone, or with rice, or with burritos, or in a salad (oh, in a salad--makes summer worth having). It's good however on earth you want to eat it. So I'm going to tell you from sad sad experience that you should quadramilla-duple it and then eat it with everything all the time (except maybe oatmeal; you might want to skip it with that, but then, who knows...).

It also takes less than 20 minutes to throw together (though if you have time to marinate it, it's even better). You can make it on the stove; you can make it on the grill.

Also, if you have cilantro haters, don't despair. I have a hard-core cilantro hater, but he was totally fine with this. Because it gets cooked, it's not an in-your-face cilantro flavor.

Lime Cilantro Chicken
adapted from Gimme Delicious
serves 4
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes (though an hour-1 day of marination is preferred)
Cost: $3.80
chicken: 3.00, lime: .25, olive oil: .20, other stuff: .35

Note: I did use fresh lime juice because I had limes. I'd recommend it, and you need the zest anyway. That said, don't not make this because you don't have limes. It might not be quite as punchy or amazing, but my guess is that it'll still be pretty darn fabulous.

4 chicken breasts
1/4 C fresh lime juice
zest of one lime
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (I used 1-ish)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar (or honey)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine everything except the chicken breasts, and whisk it together. Add the chicken breasts and marinate (even 15 minutes of marination will give it a little extra flavor, but it's still good if you don't have time to marinate).

Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts (reserve the extra marinade). Cook till one side is golden brown, then flip and do the same on the other side.

When they are nearly cooked, pour the rest of the marinade into the pan, coat the breasts, and cook.

When the chicken is done, serve on tacos, with rice, or shredded into a salad. (I hope you quadramilla-dupled it, cause you're going to be sad if you didn't.)


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Soup and Cake

This morning I read a quote so striking that I started to cry immediately upon reading it.

I have no doubt each one of us would move the earth for the people in those photos on our kitchen walls. But so often we don’t want to scare them with our power to bless and heal, so we move the world in increments of soup and cake. They may never even recognize the universe has been realigned for their good. It may be that our mother does glorious things right in front of us every day so often that she blinds us with commonness. Maybe she serves the whole world soup and cake every night.--Sharon Eubank

Has that ever happened to you? For me, it happened on the phrase "blinds us with commonness."

I still can't quite get over it.

And so I thought I would celebrate this concept with a few of my favorite soup and cake recipes. Serve it to the world every night.

Most of them are simple. A little life changing. At least day changing.

5 Favorite Soups

1. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Easy)

2. Meatball Soup. (Easy)

3. Moroccan Carrot Soup (Easy)

4. Thai Soup (Some weird ingredients, but totally worth it. Once you get the ingredients, it's easy)

5. Creamy Cheese Potato Soup (Beyond easy)

Okay--so I was going to rate those--you know, like intermediate, hard, easy, etc. Apparently, I only make easy soups. You should too. These are less than 30 minutes each to make, several of them closer to 15-20 minutes.

15 Favorite Cakes (How could I even choose? Clearly, I couldn't (though, truthfully, there's hordes more cake than this on my blog; I really did pick my favorites). You get a lot of cake from a lot of different, er, food groups. Spread them through the world, people.)

1. Best Chocolate Cake (Intermediate)

2. Best White Cake (Intermediate)

3. Carrot Cake (Easy)

4. Orange Bundt Cake (Intermediate)

5. Diana's Apple Cake of Awesomeness (Easy)

6. Peanut Butter Cake  (Easy)

7. Julia Child's Chocolate Almond Cake (Intermediate-hard)

8. Kentucky Caramel Butter Cake (Intermediate, a little harder if you make your own caramel)

9. Red Velvet Cake (Easy)

10. Wacky Cake (Dumb easy)

11. Coconut Cake (Intermediate)

12. Flourless Chocolate Cake (Easy)

13. Lemon Layer Cake (Intermediate) (Note: There is a lemon bundt cake and a lemon sheet cake on this blog, both of which I also consider noteworthy.)

14. Chocolate Volcano Cake (Easy)

15. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. (Intermediate.) Noteworthy for the amazing peanut butter frosting if nothing else.

Nothing says, "I think I have a problem" more than trying to list your favorite cakes. Oh dear.

But, seriously, is there any other food that feels like quite the act of love like making cake and soup.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake

I've had my eye on Kentucky Butter Cake for a while. Generally, those southerners know how to do both butter and cake, so it seems like a winning combination. But the thing that really pushed me over the edge was the caramel version I stumbled upon. Oh, that, and turning 40. Every 40-year-old needs something buttery, caramel-y, and southern on her birthday, don't you think? (It's that, or you go on some vegan wrinkle-fighting diet; I opted for the cake and wrinkles.)

It was fantastic in every way. And also not very difficult to make. I did mess my caramel up just a smidgeon so that it was a bit grainy, and the cake was still fantastic. In fact, the crunchy, delicious sugar didn't hurt it at all, and might have even made it better.

This cake uses a flavored creamer instead of milk. In the original recipe, it used an all-natural creamer with real milk and cream and stuff. That seemed positively righteous, and I intended to do the same thing. But then I accidentally bought the regular old fake kind of creamer. And it was still delicious.

So make this. I bet you can even mix up creamer flavors and toppings if you want. The possibilities....

Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake
adapted from Wishes and Dishes (how birthday appropriate)
Prep time: 30 minutes for cake and caramel
Cook time: 50 minutes
Cost: $5.50
flour: .45, sugar: .55, creamer: 1.00, butter: 2.00, eggs: .40, vanilla: .35, cream: .75


3 C all-purpose flour
2 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 C caramel coffee creamer (I used International Delight brand; they also make a "Pure" version with whole foodsy ingredients)
1 C butter (in somewhat melty state)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs

Butter Sauce:

3/4 C white sugar
1/3 C butter
3 Tbsp caramel coffee creamer
2 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel (for topping):

1 C sugar
3/4 C heavy cream (warmed)
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
crunchy salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch (standard) bundt pan--like, grease the heck out of it with a spray on grease. Nothing else works quite as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

To this add coffee creamer, butter, vanilla, and eggs, beating after each addition.

(See, you're done with the cake. Wasn't that ridiculously easy?)

Pour into your extremely well-greased bundt pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a fork inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

When it comes out of the oven, let it sit, and prepare the butter sauce:

Combine sugar, butter, caramel creamer. Heat until the sugar is dissolved (this is where mine got a little messed up; my sugar didn't completely dissolve), but don't let it boil (although life would probably go on if you did--probably). Take off heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Poke holes into the cake while it's still in the bundt pan. Then pour this beautiful butter sauce all over it, nice and slow, getting the sauce into the holes.

Now you're going to let the cake cool (or mostly cool) in the pan. I know you're afraid because it's always hard to get cakes out after they cool, especially bundt cakes. But I promise you that this worked for me, so it will work for you too.

When it's cool, turn it over on your serving platter.

Now you can make the caramel, which is always a pain in the butt, but worth it because homemade caramel is the best.

Add sugar to a large skillet. Let it get hot and melt, stirring occasionally. It might form some pesty chunks, but that's okay. Eventually it will turn a dark amber color. When it does, add cream and butter. Whisk in. There may be a few hard masses that don't dissolve. That's okay. Just remove them with a spoon.

Let your caramel cool somewhat and then pour or spoon it over your cake. I then sprinkled it with chunky sea salt.

I also made a chocolate ganache (1 C chocolate chips, 1/2 C cream, melt in microwave and stir), but it's not pictured here because it was ugly (but delicious, but ugly, but unnecessary, but still delicious).


Monday, May 1, 2017

Carrot Cake--Photo Redo

This week, for book club, we discussed The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I was planning to make homemade moon cakes as the treat. I googled them. I pinned them. But then I just didn't want to make them. I wanted to make homemade carrot cake instead. I wanted to bad. And so I did.

And then I realized that the pictures on this blog were from six years ago and that seemed very wrong, since I could barely take a picture at all back then. So today I present you with the best carrot cake. And some new pictures to go with it.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes
Serves: many (probably about 30)
Prep time: 10 minutes (with food processor)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $1.90 (not bad for 3 layers)
(carrots: .75, oil: .24, sugar: .32, eggs: .40, flour: .18, other stuff: .01)

1 1/2 C oil
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt
3 C grated carrots (just a bit shy of 1 lb)

Heat oven to 325. Grease three 9-inch pans and put wax paper on the bottoms, then grease again. 

Mix oil and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix it into the creamed mixture. Add the carrots, a bit at a time so as to avoid getting a huge clump of them somewhere (your kids will never go for that).

Pour batter evenly into the cake pans. The batter will be shallow. I suppose you could probably get it into two pans (though I can't 100% guarantee that), but I like to have the extra frosting. I guess I'm a bit of a frosting lush. Don't tell, okay. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out on a rack (or some parchment paper or waxed paper on your counter top if you don't have a rack). Let cool completely and then frost. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (with an orange cream cheese adaptation from me)
enough for 3 layers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: 3.10
(cream cheese: 2.20, sugar: .40, butter: .70)

2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz. total), softened
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and sour cream. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar.

An option for Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Add the zest from one small orange and 2-3 Tbsp of orange juice to make orange cream cheese frosting. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peanut Butter Mug Cake for Breakfast

So you know how the whole mug cake thing came and went (or maybe it's still going; I don't know). The idea was to make a little one serving cake in a mug and then microwave it and, voila, you had a perfect single-serving of deliciousness.

Yeah, I didn't hop on that wagon at all.

Because as we all know if we ever had a mother who liked to make brownies in the microwave: Baked goods are disgusting when not, ahem, baked. 

I would have gone on happily without any mug cakes or microwaved brownies for the rest of my life were it not for an unfortunate Easter craving. You see, I'm not a huge candy lover (quality dark chocolate excepted). But it was Easter and I so wanted something sweet. And Pinterest kept telling me I wanted something sweet. And suddenly, as fate would have it, a mug cake happened to pop up in my feed. Rather, a link titled something like, "The 11 Best Mug Cakes." And, truly, the pictures all looked divine (because, um, Pinterest and stuff).

So I thought, "Hey, I'm craving baked goods, and the universe just told me to make a mug cake. And if I hate it, well, it was just a little thing." Not much to lose.

And it wasn't. But naturally, I couldn't help but mess with that darn recipe. And even though I'd been craving a sweet baked good, I got to thinking that if I added a little whole wheat, well then, that would give it a nuttier flavor, and also justify my sins. And I'll be darned if it wasn't a right decent evening snack. A wee bit dry, perhaps, but worth the lack of effort I put into it.

And then the next day, I just kept thinking about it. Like, what if I added a tablespoon of pumpkin to keep it moist? And, oops, I forgot the leavener. And added chocolate chips. It turned out a moist, dense, healthy mug cake that I may or may not have been making for myself all week.

You should make it too. We'll all be on an old band wagon that might not even be a thing anymore together. And we won't regret it.

I can't help but think that it would be the perfect thing to whip up when you're in a hurry and take to work with you, or make your kids eat in the car while you run them to school because they got up late and missed the bus. For the 18th time this week. (not that my kids are ever late)

And please note the price tag. This is a super healthy breakfast guys (well, depending on your chocolate chip addiction). And you can't beat it for cheap.

Peanut Butter Mug Cake for Breakfast
serves 1, maybe 2 if you eat light (it's quite filling; I can't always finish mine)
Prep time and cook time: 2 minutes (cool it for a few minutes though.
Cost: $.30 ($.45 with chocolate chips)
milk: .03, sugar: .03, peanut butter: .15, pumpkin: .03, whole wheat flour: .06, chocolate chips: .15

1/4 C milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 C whole wheat flour (or 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour and 1 Tbsp oat flour)
1-3 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional, depending on your level of breakfast stoicism; my breakfast stoicism is quite low for the record)

Mix it all together.

Cook on high in the microwave for about one minute (Mine is usually between 1 minute and 10 second and 1 minute and 20 seconds.) Put it in for another 15 seconds if it's still not done. Note: You want it a little bit undone or raw looking in the center. It will continue to cook as it cools and that will give it just the right amount of moisture. If you cook it till it's dry-looking, it will taste dry.

Let cool for a few minutes (seriously guys, if you tear into this right of the microwave, you'll burn your tongue. Give it five minutes.)



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Good Frostings for Cinnamon Rolls

Since I made you cauliflower mash last week (which, btw, was perfectly amazing in every way despite the words 'cauliflower' and 'mash.' And you should try it and love it and feed it to your soul.) But anyway, since I made you vegetables mashed up (no matter how good they were), I figured that I owed you something perfectly unrighteous. Like cinnamon rolls. With several choices of frosting.

The great irony of this post is that there are all of ZERO posts of cinnamon rolls WITH frosting actually on them. Because as we all know if we are amateur photographers, it's easier to take a good picture of cinnamon rolls without frosting that with it.

Despite these nude photos of cinnamon rolls we shall persevere with the holy act of discussing how to properly dress them. Because there are so many wonderful ways to do this.

1. Cream Cheese Frosting. I remember coming out of college and having cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls at some church function. It was a coming-of-age experience for me. 

2. Bec's Buttercream Frosting. I want to disapprove of this one because it contains my nemesis, shortening. But I can't. It's fluffy and yummy and great on cinnamon rolls. 

3. Browned Butter Frosting. Introduce this into your life or die sad. 

4. Lemon Buttercream Frosting. If, say, you put blueberries and apples in some of your cinnamon rolls. Come on, guys. A-maz-ing. 

5. Orange Frosting. Here's that Lemon Buttercream's delightful fraternal twin. 

6. Salted Caramel Frosting. Because you love people and puppies and all good things. 

7. Vanilla Butter Frosting. Classic. The End. 

(This is the Lemon Buttercream in case you were wondering.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cauliflower Mash

Have you ever read a recipe and just started to crave it from the ingredients list? Recently, that happened to me. And I know just what you're thinking: Wait, why is this post labeled "Cauliflower Mash" because, seriously, has she gone daft? (Um, yes, well a little. But I've been that way for a long time.) Because who seriously reads the ingredients of something called Cauliflower Mash, as in the mash of cauliflowers; and then craves it?

Well, I mean, hear me out. Cheese. Let's start with that one. It's easy to love right. And olive oil. Garlic. Hard to go too wrong with minced garlic, right?

And then it had these wholesome, interesting-sounding things like white beans and cornmeal. They kind of intrigued me.

And the truth is that I've had cauliflower in a variety of delicious ways and always like it. But the other truth is that I've had versions of this on my Pinterest board for, oh, well, forever. Because, as per our discussion. Cauliflower. Mash.

I wasn't sure how it would really go over with the minions (and P.S., it didn't). But it was so gloriously delicious that even after making it, I'm still craving. It just hit a savory, nutritious spot that just met a need. Like, a wholesome friend, who's also really fun.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't let this sit on your Pinterest board for millennia. Make it. Love it. Serve it with meat if you must.

Cauliflower Mash
adapted from Pinch of Yum
Serves 4-6
Prep and cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $3.20 (that's $.50 for something a 40-year-old woman could totally eat for lunch. Teenagers and men cannot be accounted for in this reckoning and this will likely be a mere side dish to them. But us old ladies--this is all we need for a filling, well-rounded meal)
cauliflower: 1.50, milk: .15, chicken broth: .30, cornmeal: .10, cheese: .40, white beans: .60, other stuff: .15

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C milk
2 C chicken broth (you might need another if your mash is too thick; I added about 1/2 C more)
1/2 C cornmeal
1/2 C shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar and I did not regret it)
1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet with a lid or a 3-quart pot. Add the cauliflower. Mix it and sprinkle it with salt. Let it cook for a few minutes. It won't get tender, but will get a little flavor.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the milk and chicken broth. Simmer (with lid on, so a low temperature is best) until the cauliflower is soft. When it is, mash it up.

Then add the cornmeal and stir. It will thicken, and the cornmeal is not exactly tastable, but kind of there, adding yumminess and nuttiness and thickness. If you need to, add more chicken broth.

Now, if you want, you can add that can of beans. (Note: In the original recipe, they told me to mash the beans. I did the first time I made this, but didn't love the mashed beans. Better to just leave them whole so you don't get a weird bean skin thing happening in you mash.) They add protein and make this a lovely complete meal on its own. (Though this is also really good with meat; we had it with shrimp and it was amazing.)

Add the cheese, mix it up, and let it melt. Add more salt and pepper if needed.



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