Cooking Tools & Techniques, Just Desserts, Uncategorized

Choosing a Cake Topping – Icing or Frosting

Cake topping

Last week, when I posted about the red velvet cake and cinnamon-coriander icing I made for my husband’s birthday, I very deliberately chose the term icing in describing the cake topping. Frosting just wouldn’t cut it as a term to describe what I was making, because I learned something new last week. Icing and frosting are not the same thing.

Let me say that again. Icing and frosting are NOT the same.

Is anybody else as surprised by that fact as I was when I discovered it? There I was, merrily posting on Facebook about how deliciously addicting this “frosting” was. Then, shortly after that I began wondering about why we sometimes call what we put on the top of cakes “frosting,” while other times we call it “icing.” I can’t help it. I’m a total word nerd. These things actually do matter to me!

Were frosting and icing different words describing the same thing, after all, or are they actually two different cake toppings? The more I thought about it, the more curious I became about this issue. You might even say I became a bit obsessed with knowing the answer.

So, I did what I usually do when I want a quick answer to a pressing question. I Googled: “what’s the difference between icing and frosting?” Try it. I came up with over 11 million results. Apparently I’m not the only person in the world who’s curious about this. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know that because you’re curious about it too!

What are these differences? Basically, it all boils down to appearance, basic ingredients, consistency, main taste, and use.

As the picture above shows, frosting is much creamier than icing, and at times it can even look fluffy. I’m thinking now specifically of the Betty Crocker whipped frosting. We love that stuff at our house. My children can eat it by the tub! I should have known, by looking at the differences between the tub frosting and the cake topping I made by hand, there was surely a difference between frosting and icing. I just didn’t realize, at the time, that what I was making was not, in fact, frosting.

Concerning the basic (or, in this case, base) ingredients, frosting uses a cream or butter base. Icing can use a cream or butter base, as well, but it is much less common. I, for example, used milk in my icing recipe but no butter. Obviously, since milk is not as thick as cream, my icing was not anywhere near as thick as a typical frosting, and that is another major difference between the two – the consistency of the cake topping. Icing is much thinner – even sometimes runny – although it does harden as it cools. Frosting does not change consistency nearly as much over time

Because of the bases used for the different recipes, frosting and icing have slightly different tastes. Frosting is much more buttery tasting, while you taste mostly sugar in icing. This is certainly true of my icing recipe. The sugary taste was very strong.

The final difference rests in how the cake toppings are used. Frosting, obviously, is used to top cakes, but it is not used for much else because it is too thick. Icing can be used to top cakes, cookies (as my mother-in-law used to do, although she called her icing glaze – that’s another difference I need to investigate!), or pastries. It certainly seems to be more versatile.

If you didn’t know it before, I hope I’ve made it clear by now that frosting and icing are two completely different things. And, for those of you who are more visual, I’ve created this handy chart that clearly lays out their differences. Feel free to refer back to it whenever you need to, and let me know in the comments which you prefer for your cake topping – frosting or icing.

Frosting or icing

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

 

Cooking Tools & Techniques, Cooking with Herbs, Cooking with Kids, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking

Red Velvet Cake & Cinnamon-Coriander Icing

red velvet cake with cinnamon coriander icing

Red velvet is one of my husband’s favorite cakes ever, so when it came time to make his birthday cake I didn’t even really have to ask what flavor cake he wanted. But I had two different box mixes in the cabinet (chocolate and red velvet), so I did ask, anyway. That’s right. I said box mix. I’m all about saving time where I can, and I don’t think there’s any shame in that – especially when you’re a busy wife and mother of two little girls.

The girls begged for the chocolate. They don’t understand that red velvet is just a chocolate cake made with red food coloring. Even when I explained that to them, they acted like they didn’t believe it. Red cake just can’t be chocolate – at least, I’m sure that’s how it must seem when you’re seven and five years old.

Since I still didn’t have a new oven at the time, I knew I was going to have to try to bake the cake in the microwave, but I wasn’t too concerned about that. I’d baked several other things successfully in the microwave. This would probably turn out just as well.

I didn’t have any store-bought frosting on hand because my kids are cake frosting monsters. They have been known to raid my baking supply cabinet during the middle of the night and take out the tubs of frosting and chocolate chips and chow down. What I find particularly interesting is that, instead of throwing away the evidence, they’ll put the empty containers BACK where they got them. So Mommy still thinks she has plenty of frosting when, in fact, she doesn’t have any in the house. Life with children is anything but boring.

I made the cake batter according to the package directions (which, for me, was add 1 cup of water, 3 eggs, and 1/3 cup oil to the cake mix and stir together). My older daughter even got into the cake making with me by breaking the eggs, pouring in the water and oil, and stirring the batter until it was smooth and no longer lumpy. I did take over the stirring at one point when the thick batter got a little too tough for her to deal with, but she did an excellent job on her own.

We baked the cake according to my handy, dandy microwave baking guide.

First, I greased a Pyrex baking dish and poured the batter into the dish (the seven-year-old helped with this process a bit too) Then, I covered this with wax paper. I put it in the microwave on Medium-High Power (Level 7), but it wasn’t quite done on the top (there was still a lot of liquid batter) so I put it back in for another 4 minutes at the same power level. That didn’t look like it did quite enough, so I put it in for another 4 minutes and reduced the power level to 6. That did the trick. So, basically, you bake the cake on Power Level 7 for 11 minutes and Power Level 6 for 4 minutes, and you have a wonderfully fluffy cake! red velvet cake mix

While the cake was cooling (wait at least 15 minutes for this – the icing was ready before the cake cooled), I prepared the icing. You’ll find the amazing recipe below.

Cinnamon-Coriander Icing
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 2 mins
Total time: 7 mins
Serves: 12 servings
Far from being spicy, as I thought it might be, this icing is deliciously refreshing and lemony – and somewhat addicting!
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Measure out the confectioners sugar into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Pour in the milk and vanilla, and stir together slightly.
  3. Add the coriander and cinnamon, and whip the icing mixture for about a minute or two, until the mixture is creamy but thick enough for icing a cake.
  4. Adjust the amounts of milk and sugar as necessary (if mixture is too thick or too runny, respectively).

I’m not exaggerating when I call this icing “amazing!” (not much, anyway). Even the seven-year-old pronounced it to be “The best EVER!”

how to make homemade icing

The thing I love most about this icing recipe is its versatility. I mean, it would be completely delicious on just about any flavor of cake. I think I’m going to try it next on that chocolate cake mix that’s still in the cabinet. My husband’s birthday cake disappeared less than 24 hours after I made it. It’s time to make another!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

 

best sugar cookie recipe
After Dinner, Just Desserts, Old Family Recipes

Martha’s Best Sugar Cookies

robert and his mom
Martha and her son, my husband, on our wedding day – October 13, 2007.

As the title of this post suggests, this a recipe for Martha’s best sugar cookies.

At this point, you might be wondering: Who is Martha?

Quite simply, Martha Carol Kidd Campbell (formerly Witty) was my mother-in-law. This is a recipe she passed down to me before she died.

She entered this recipe in the Kentucky State Fair every year, and one year she actually won – third place. That’s why she kept resubmitting the recipe, just to see if she could ever win the top prize. Sadly, she never did.

Still, she never tired of baking these cookies for anyone and everyone – family, friends, and visitors to her church. Every Saturday she would bake a batch or two for the hospitality cart her church offered Sunday morning visitors.sugar cookies recipe

She even made several batches for our wedding. As you can see from this picture, we didn’t have very many leftovers!

I asked my husband if he minded me sharing her recipe because I thought it would be a nice tribute to her, and he agreed. He said his mother would probably love to make it possible for others to enjoy her special treat. So here’s how to make Martha’s Kentucky State Fair Cookies.

Martha’s Best Sugar Cookies
Prep time: 9 hours
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 9 hours 5 mins
Serves: 30 cookies
These are sure winners, if you’re looking for something to wow a crowd. My mother-in-law did consistently for years by making these!
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Parkay margarine*
  • 1 cup Domino white granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Martha White self-rising flour
  • Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups Domino powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • food coloring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put the margarine in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds on high power, until the margarine is melted.
  2. Pour the sugar in with the melted butter and blend with an electric mixer (on the lowest setting) for three minutes.
  3. Add the egg and continue mixing for 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla until completely blended into the mixture.
  5. Stir in the flour and form into a dough ball.
  6. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  7. After the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Grease two cookie sheets with Crisco vegetable shortening.
  9. Cut the dough into three equal pieces.
  10. Sprinkle flour lightly on your countertop and roll out dough pieces one at a time on the floured surface.
  11. Use a cookie cutter to cut cookies into a certain shape, or just hand-roll small sections of dough and flatten them out to make round cookies.
  12. Place the cookies on the greased cookie sheets.
  13. Bake cookies for about five minutes, until the bottoms are golden. “Golden” is the key here.
  14. To make the glaze, pour the powdered sugar into a medium-sized bowl.
  15. Stir in the four tablespoons of water.
  16. Add the food coloring, if desired.
  17. Brush the glaze onto the cookies right after you take them out of the oven.
  18. Let the cookies sit for about thirty minutes, and then enjoy!

best sugar cookie recipe

I asked my mother-in-law why she used margarine instead of butter. I’d always heard butter was a lot better for baking. She told me that (for this recipe, at least), butter always made the cookies prone to burning, so she never wanted to use it for this recipe. She was the sugar cookie expert, so I’m not going to go and change things now!

You will have some glaze left over after you decorate the cookies, so just throw it out. Or, if you’re anything like me and the idea of just tossing out something so delicious makes you cringe, you can store it in an air-tight container in the fridge and use it for your next batch of yummy cookies!

If you are looking for a quick and easy cookie recipe, this is not it. But if you’re looking for a really wonderful, yummy cookie that everyone is sure to love, this is the cookie for you!

One night, I made a batch of these for my daughter’s Awana class. The theme for the night was God’s love, so they wanted a heart-shaped snack. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use this recipe just as my mother-in-law did – serving the church by making delicious cookies.

I sweated for three hours (after making the dough and letting it set for eight hours in the fridge) to get these just the right size and shape. Here is a photo record of that cookie-making adventure, along with a list of things I learned in the process.

I am not the cookie baking expert. In fact, until my mother-in-law shared this recipe, I was a complete cookie baking idiot.

raw cookie dough
Some two-inch cookies cut out and placed on a greased cookie sheet.

I never could get them right – at least not the made-from-scratch kind. I could do the heat and serve cookies all right. I just couldn’t make real cookies.

It should be no surprise, then, that I had a little trouble figuring out just how thick I needed to make the cookies. Before this attempt, I had never used actual cookie cutters. I just made free-form cookies, and that worked a lot better for me.

sugar cookie recipe
This is how the cookies look when they’re done. They don’t even really look done on top, but you can see a little of the golden color peeking through along the bottom edge.

You can see from the picture that my first attempt failed pretty miserably. The cut-out hearts were crepe-sized, not cookie-sized. I had to redo most of them. My second attempt turned out much better.

It took me a while to get the cooking step just right, too. These cookies just don’t look done when they’re done. They’re fluffy and puffy, and they just don’t harden to “normal” cookie consistency until they cool.

It is really difficult to brush the glaze onto the cookies while they’re still warm, even though that’s the way you’re supposed to do it. It is possible. It’s just not easy.

red food coloring
I was trying for red, but I didn’t really get there. I stopped trying after 5 drops of red food coloring. You might see bubbles in the glaze (as you can see in the picture), but they don’t hurt anything. Sometimes you get them; other times you don’t.

I had red food coloring, so I thought I would make red glaze for the heart-shaped cookies. Ha! How wrong I was!

After five drops of food coloring, this is the darkest the color got, and I really didn’t want to add more food coloring than that. I guess I could’ve doubled it, but I thought it would be excessive. And I decided there’s nothing really wrong with pink hearts, so I left it the way it was. My daughter likes pink better than red, anyway!

When it was all said and done, these pink heart cookies turned out to be pretty terrific! Even my mom said they were pretty (and she is not one to offer much praise at all).

Things didn’t turn out quite exactly the way I wanted them to before I started this project, but it was fun making them. There was also some decent pay-off for all that hard work. The kids seemed to love them, judging from later comments from their parents.heart shaped sugar cookies

My mother-in-law dedicated her life to doing things for others. She was always on the move. I don’t think I ever saw her sit down for more than five minutes at a time – until the cancer finally beat her seven years after it first made its appearance.

I am so grateful she shared this recipe with me. I will be passing it down to my little girls when they are old enough to learn how to bake. My hope is they will treasure it enough to share it with their children and grandchildren, continuing the family sugar cookie legacy.

And maybe one day I’ll enter this recipe in the Kentucky State Fair, just to see if I can win the top prize for the woman who worked so hard to perfect this cookie recipe.

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

 

lychee fruit
Cooking Healthy Food, Exotic Flavors, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking, Super Sides

Lychee Nutrition Facts and Recipe

My family and I love to go to the local Chinese buffet. It’s a Sunday afternoon, after-church tradition now. We’ve been doing it for over seven years! You’d think we’d get tired of the same old, same old, but this particular restaurant switches up their menu just enough to keep things interesting. Our favorite things (the sushi, the coconut shrimp, the fried dumplings, etc.) are almost always there, but every once in a while they introduce something new to the spread.

Like yesterday, when they had these strange-looking little round things sitting out at the dessert table. I figured it much be some sort of fruit, but I didn’t have a clue what it was. Still, I’m an adventurous type, especially when it comes to food, so I thought I would try it. Our server came by the table before I’d taken a bite, and I asked her what they were.

“Lychee,” she said, pronouncing it “lee-chee,” or at least that was the way it sounded to me. She smiled at me like she didn’t really believe she was having to tell me what it was. What could I say? I was a lychee virgin.

I’d heard of the fruit before, but I’d never seen it in person, so I’d certainly never tasted it.

I speared one little fruit with my fork and cautiously stuck it in my mouth. Immediately, I tasted the ginger, and I wondered it if that was part of the fruit’s natural taste, but some later research online told me that probably wasn’t the case. They’d probably added ginger to it when they baked it.

My first overall impression? It was quite different from anything I’d ever had before, although the texture was somewhat reminiscent of baked pears, I thought. And it was spicy! But that was okay by me because I happen to like spicy food.

When I got home, I hit the Internet looking for more information about lychees. Turns out, by not knowing anything about this fruit I was really missing out! Lychees are amazingly nutritious!lychee fruit

For example, they:

  • Offer a great source of Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin C, and phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, indoles, isoflavones, lignans, and polyphenols
  • Provide high amounts of folate, iron, magnesium, and manganese, which are all required for the formation of red blood cells

Please note, however, that lychees are really high in sugar, which may prove problematic for some diabetics, so consume with caution – and ALWAYS in moderation.

During my Internet search, I even found a yummy baked lychee recipe to try at home. So, I made my husband go out and find some lychees (which was no easy feat in Louisville, KY), tweaked the recipe by adding some things, and baked my lychees in the microwave (like I bake everything else).

Baked Lychees
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 lb lychee fruit, peeled & seeded
Instructions
  1. Spray a Pyrex baking pan with Pam cooking spray.
  2. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt the butter.
  3. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger to the butter, and stir together thoroughly.
  4. Roll each lychee in the sugar mixture, and set on the baking dish.
  5. Pour remaining sugar mixture over the lychees.
  6. Put the dish in the microwave and cook on medium power for about three to five minutes, until sugar is caramelized.
  7. Serve immediately, and refrigerate any leftovers.

If you haven’t yet tried lychees, I highly suggest giving them a try. They’re a really different taste sensation at first, but in a delicious way – especially baked. Try this out, and see for yourself!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

 

healthy fudge
Cooking Healthy Food, Cooking Tools & Techniques, Cooking with Herbs, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking

Easy Five-Ingredient Organic Fudge

organic fudge

I was surfing through Pinterest not long ago (there’s no faster or easier way to find new recipes to try than browsing Pinterest), and I came across this recipe for healthy fudge using coconut oil. It’s probably no secret by now that I’m totally obsessed with coconut oil, so of course I was intrigued. And my coconut oil obsession has been joined by a confirmed obsession with coriander. So I thought it would be a cool idea to make the recipe “my own” by adding a hint of coriander into the mix. The end result was really tasty, and the coriander actually gave the fudge a hint of minty flavor.

I love the simplicity of this fudge recipe, and its health benefits. It’s perfect for those who are following special diets, including paleo and gluten-free diets.

Easy Five-Ingredient Organic Fudge
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours 5 mins
Serves: 16 pieces
This fudge is easy, delicious, and actually pretty healthy! No processed sugar – or, really, processed ANYTHING – involved.
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup organic coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup organic honey
  • 2/3 cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp organic ground coriander
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil in a microwavable container for about 40 seconds, or whip it.
  2. Stir in the honey and the cocoa powder.
  3. Add the vanilla and coriander.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  6. Cut into chunks to serve.

healthy fudgeMy husband and I tried a piece each right out of the fridge, and it was very hard at the time – almost the consistency of a candy bark. After leaving it out of the fridge for 24 hours, though, this issue was easily resolved, although I found out we really didn’t want to leave the fudge out of the fridge for too long because the coconut oil and honey started melting a bit, giving the confection a slightly oily/sticky texture. But it’s not that a big a deal. You can put it back in the fridge for a few hours, and it goes right back to being yummy!

I melted my coconut oil instead of whipping it because I don’t have a stand mixer, and I didn’t want to take the time out to find my electric hand mixer. Probably the texture would’ve turned out differently with whipped coconut oil. I don’t know if it would’ve tasted any better, though, because I really liked it this way. For a tutorial on how to whip coconut oil, check out this site. I’ll have to dig out my hand mixer for the next batch and try it out. I love the look of whipped coconut oil!

Now I want to know: Have you tried this recipe? What did you think?

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

chocolate egg
Cooking Tools & Techniques, Cooking with Kids, Gift Ideas for Everyone in the Family, Just Desserts, Old Family Recipes

Making Chocolate Eggs

making chocolate eggs

This past Easter (which at the time of this writing was less than a week ago), my mother and I were trying to figure out what we could do to take in as treats to my daughter’s first grade class (which only has 7 kids). My mom remembered the candy-making supplies and chocolate she had stored away, and we finally decided we’d try to make little candy pieces for the kids.chocolate eggs

She dug through her stored Easter stuff to see what kind of molds she could find and came up with those old green Jell-O Jiggler molds – you know the ones I’m talking about? She remembered trying to actually make the Jell-O eggs with them (I didn’t), and she said it never did turn out right for her. But I got the bright idea to pour our melted chocolate into them and see if we could make huge solid chocolate eggs. I was a bit skeptical, to be sure, but my curiosity won out, and I decided to give it a try.

Well, it turns out the whole thing was a lot messier and more time-consuming than I thought it would be. But, more importantly (and the thing that completely turned us off making 7 whole gigantic eggs) was the fact that it took a LOT of chocolate to fill in those Jell-O egg molds. I mean, we’re talking ONE bag of chocolate made about 2.5 eggs!

So, we filled up two of the egg molds (so my two little girls could each have one for Easter), and we poured the rest of our chocolate into much smaller Easter candy molds to share with the class.

When it was all said and done, the eggs did turn out pretty well (although one had some slight discoloration to it – I think because I paused in between pouring the melted chocolate because I ran out and had to melt more). I was thrilled with what we ended up with, although neither of my two girls seemed very impressed. They liked the little chocolate pieces a lot better. Go figure. Maybe they just found the prospect of eating the huge chocolate eggs too daunting. I think I’m going to have to cut them up into smaller pieces to actually get my kids to try eating them.

Still, if you’re looking for an extra-special treat to share with your loved ones next Easter and you happen to still have one of those old Jell-O egg molds like my mom does, you might want to try making your own solid milk chocolate eggs. Here’s all you need:

Wilton Light Cocoa Candy Melts (3 bags, if you want to fill all six eggs)
1 double-sided, hinged Jell-O Jigglers egg mold
1 double boiler or chocolate melting pot
1 squeeze bottle
Non-stick cooking spray

And here’s what you’ll need to do:chocolate egg

1. Melt one bag of candy melts in the double boiler or chocolate melting pot.
2. Spray the insides of the egg molds with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Using a squeeze bottle, fill two of the closed Jell-O egg molds to the top. If you see bubbles forming, tap the mold against the countertop a few times in between adding chocolate.
4. Continue melting and filling the egg molds until all 6 are full, if desired.
5. Stick the filled egg molds in the fridge overnight (or for about 8 hours).
6. Remove from the fridge.
7. Carefully open the top of the egg mold, and remove the chocolate eggs. These can be stored at room temperature until you are ready to serve them.

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

pear crumble
Cooking Healthy Food, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking

Autumn Pear Crumble

pear crumble.png

There’s no doubt fall is the season of the apple. And October is the month when bobbing for apples becomes a popular pasttime. But pears are popular at this time of year, as well, and October 25 is National Pear Day. Truth be told, I sometimes prefer pears to apples anyway, and since my family enjoyed my Applesauce Brown Betty recipe so much, I thought I would try something similar with pears. This Autumn Pear Crumble is a wonderful way to end a meal, whether it’s your traditional Thanksgiving feast or just a cozy weeknight dinner.

Autumn Pear Crumble
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 medium pears, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Honey-Nut Cheerios
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • Pam cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
Instructions
  1. Put the first 9 ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend on high power for about 30-45 seconds.
  3. Spray Pam into a 7 X 11 Pyrex baking dish.
  4. Pour out the pear mixture and spread evenly into the baking dish.
  5. Top with the wheat germ.
  6. Put the baking dish in the microwave and heat on high (Power Level 10) for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove and cover with wax paper.
  8. Put back in the microwave and cook on medium (Power Level 5) for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from microwave and serve immediately with a dollop of Greek yogurt or whipped cream on top.
  10. Refrigerate the leftovers.

I really love that I can use my very favorite kitchen tool, the Ninja Master Prep to make this dish even easier and faster. I used another one of my favorite things in this recipe, as well – coconut oil. I’ve been using coconut oil almost daily for about a year now, and I was fortunate enough to get contacted by the people at Island Fresh, who asked if I would write a review in exchange for a FREE 54-ounce container of their Organic, Virgin, Cold-Pressed, Unrefined Coconut Oil. Of course, I immediately jumped at the chance. I’ve been using this in EVERYTHING now – even my smoothies. It’s got a wonderfully light coconut taste that’s hardly noticeable in most recipes, as long as you stick with one tablespoon or less. It’s truly amazing stuff, and I love substituting it for butter in baking with crumbly things because it seems to help hold things together so much better. I’ve tried a few brands of coconut oil over the past year, and I can honestly say this one is the best, by far. I think it really made this recipe all that much more delicious, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Give it a try yourself!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

fluffernutter
Cooking with Kids, Just Desserts, Sandwiches, Super Sides

Five Fun Fluffernutter Facts

 

fluffernutter facts

Today is National Fluffernutter Day! Admittedly, before today, I’d never heard of this delicious PB&J alternative. But I thought I would give it a try, because ever since I learned how to make peanut butter fudge using marshmallow creme, I’ve been a big fan of the combination of peanut butter and marshmallow creme together.

And in my quest for more information about the fluffernutter, I came across some very interesting facts:

  1. Marshmallow creme, which forms the basis of the fluffernutter sandwich, was first invented in Massachusetts in the early part of the 20th century. Sugar shortages due to war hindered its production for a time; however, the gooey treat never really fell off the radar.
  2. The fluffernutter (also known as the “Liberty sandwich”) was actually developed, and the first recipe for it was published, by marshmallow creme co-founder Emma Curtis during World War I (hence, obviously, the presence of “liberty” in the sandwich’s name). Emma Curtis was the great-great-great-granddaughter of Paul Revere.
  3. Because of its vast popularity and its rich local history, the fluffernutter has been named the “unofficial state sandwich” of Massachusetts, and real steps have been taken to make that title official.
  4. In 2006, the fluffernutter inspired some severe anti-junk food legislation in its home state when State Senator Jarrett Barrios found out his son was being served fluffernutters every day at school. The amendment limited the serving of fluffernutters at school to once a week.
  5. Fluffernutters aren’t just popular here on Earth. Astronaut Richard Michael Linnehan, who was born in Massachusetts and grew up in New Hampshire, enjoyed a fluffernutter while he was onboard the International Space Station.

I guess, since I’m not from Massachusetts and don’t really know anyone who is, it’s understandable I’m not very familiar with the fluffernutter. Well, that is, I wasn’t familiar with it until I decided to make one for myself today to celebrate this delicious holiday. I made some modifications, though, to the traditional white bread, marshallow creme, and peanut butter sandwich.

First of all, I didn’t have any white bread in the house, so I used wheat. And I’m such a PB&J fan, I just couldn’t bear the thought of substituting the jelly with marshmallow creme alone. So, I got the bright idea to add raisins (about half an ounce), since they are made from the same fruit grape jelly comes from.

fluffernutterI was a bit skeptical at first, but it really was an excellent idea. The raisins were amazing in this sandwich! And I got to feel a little bit better about my indulgence in the “unhealthy” sandwich my adding something healthier to it – well, in addition to the whole wheat bread.

All in all, I’m glad I was introduced to the fluffernutter. It’s not going to be my go-to sandwich when I get a hankering for peanut butter. PB&J will always win out over the fluffernutter, as far as I’m concerned. But I can definitely see the appeal of this sandwich. And I love the many possibilities that exist in terms of fluffernutter variations. For example, I ran across several mentions of fluffernutter cookies.

Also, in the process of researching this sandwich, I ran across this delicious cake recipe. I have not had a chance to make it yet, but I’m filing it away for later. It just looks too good to pass up!

Now I want to know: What are your experiences with the fluffernutter? Do you prefer it over the PB&J, or is it the other way around? Talk back to me in the comments!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

mcdonalds frappe
Drinks, Just Desserts

Copycat Recipe: McDonald’s Caramel Frappe

mcdonald's frappe
A few years back now, McDonald’s introduced something that would soon become one of my favorite drinks EVER – the caramel frappe! I don’t know what it is about this drink. Maybe it’s the coffee. Maybe it’s the caramel (incidentally, I think the caramel frappe is SO much better than the mocha frappe, so it might actually BE the caramel that does it for me).

So, when my husband bought me the Ninja Master Prep as an early anniversary present, and then I found out this was National Frappe Day, I immediately started trying to figure out how I could replicate my favorite drink. I came up with what I thought was a delicious facsimile, but my husband tried it, and said it was good but “it could use a little more sugar.” So, if you’re really into sugar, like he is, you might want to add another couple of tablespoons of sugar…or maybe even double the amount of sugar in this recipe. I’m going to try that the next time I make this, and maybe that’ll satisfy my little sugar monster.

Copycat Recipe: McDonald’s Caramel Frappe
Recipe Type: Drinks
Serves: 2 servings
I’m so excited to bring this copycat recipe to you because it’s a variation of my very favorite drink ever – McDonald’s Caramel Frappe!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup frozen brewed coffee (about 4 ice cubes)
  • 1 cup ice (about 6-8 cubes)
  • 3 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Reddi-Whip and caramel topping for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pour 2 cups of brewed coffee (this fills about 4 cube squares) into an ice cube tray and fill the rest of the tray with water.
  2. Freeze for a few hours, or overnight.
  3. Put the coffee and plain ice cubes in the bottom of a blender.
  4. Add the caramel, sugar, milk, and yogurt.
  5. Blend for about one minute, or until well blended and smooth.
  6. Top with Reddi-Whip and drizzle with more caramel.
  7. Serve immediately.

The caramel I used for this recipe was the same caramel I made for my microwave caramel custard recipe. I really liked how it turned out then, and it was absolutely amazing in this recipe – and surprisingly similar in taste to the caramel McDonald’s uses in their frappe (at least as far as I can tell).

All I know is, from this point on, McDonald’s may lose a lot of my frappe business because now I know how to make my own delicious caramel frappe (and I have the tools to do it with).

Want to see more restaurant copycat recipes? Check out Foodaplenty’s guide to making 30 favorite restaurant-style meals at home. It’s only $4.99, and it includes dishes from Olive Garden, IHOP, Cinnabon, Cheesecake Factory, and so much more!copycat restaurant recipes

30 Restaurant Copycat Recipes

Want to see more before you buy? You can grab your very own copycat recipe of Red Lobster’s Crab Alfredo by clicking here!

 

 

 

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

brown betty
Cooking Healthy Food, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking, Old Family Recipes

Applesauce Brown Betty

 

applesauce brown betty

Today is National Apple Brown Betty Day! Nobody really knows how the brown Betty got its name. It’s said that it was named for the African-American slave who invented it hundreds of years ago. A recipe for the now-famous concoction was first published in Yale Literary Magazine in 1864. The original recipe used whole, fresh apples as its base, but a variation printed in the 1870s used crackers and applesauce, and this I found particularly intriguing. So I took the idea and ran with it and came up with something amazing that the whole family enjoys!

Applesauce Brown Betty
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings
This brown Betty variation was based on an 1870s version using applesauce and crackers. My whole family enjoyed it so much, they’re now asking to have it every night. Definite winner!
Ingredients
  • Pam cooking spray
  • 3 slices whole wheat bread
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups saltine cracker crumbs (about 1/2 a sleeve)
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Grease a 7 X 11 Pyrex baking dish.
  2. Put the bread in a chopper (I used my Ninja Master Prep) and chop into fine crumbs.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave, for about 45 seconds.
  4. Layer the breadcrumbs along the bottom of the baking dish, and pour the melted butter on top.
  5. Stir the butter and crumbs together and press down into a thin crust.
  6. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the crust.
  7. Layer the applesauce over the crust and spread evenly.
  8. In the chopper or a blender (again, I used my Master Prep), combine the cinnamon, crackers, nuts, brown sugar, and wheat germ.
  9. Process until everything is well blended into fine crumbs (about two minutes).
  10. Pour out into a bowl and stir in the maple syrup and water until all the crumbs are moistened.
  11. Spoon out on top of the applesauce and spread evenly.
  12. Put the baking dish in the microwave and heat on high (Power Level 10) for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove and cover with wax paper.
  14. Put back in the microwave and cook on medium (Power Level 5) for 5 minutes.
  15. Remove from microwave and serve immediately with a dollop of Greek yogurt or whipped cream on top.
brown betty

The thing I really love about this is (as I discovered later) it tastes just as amazing cold as it does warm. You really can’t miss with this one! I’m glad Betty (whoever she was) made this and shared it with the rest of us.

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

how to make custard
Just Desserts, Microwave Baking

Mini Caramel Custard Recipe

caramel custard.png

It’s National Caramel Custard Day. Yum! I love caramel, and my husband likes custard, so I thought it would be the perfect day to celebrate. I’d also read in one of my grandmother’s old microwave cookbooks that custard does especially well in the microwave. And my husband just got me a new silicone mini muffin pan (with extra deep cups), so I thought I was all set. As it turns out, I probably should have done a little more researching before I tried it.

Still, they turned out okay. They’re not the prettiest things in the world (most of the things I make really aren’t), but they are yummy. It’s probably not something I’m going to make all the time, but I’m glad I tried it. And I might pull this recipe out again for special occasions… maybe around Christmastime, since the flavor reminds me a lot of eggnog, and we’re all fans of eggnog in this family!

Mini Caramel Custard Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 13 servings
Caramel sauce lends a sweet deliciousness to mini egg custards, and there’s even enough caramel and egg mixture left to make another larger, but still individual-sized, custard.
Ingredients
  • Pam cooking spray
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cola of choice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • ground nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Grease a 12-cup mini muffin pan and set inside a Pyrex baking pan that is half-filled with water.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, water, and salt.
  3. Heat on high (Power Level 10) for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove bowl from the microwave and stir in the vanilla.
  5. Heat on high for 90 more seconds.
  6. Stir in the cola (I used Diet Pepsi because that’s what I had on hand, and it worked just fine).
  7. Pour into muffin cups until they are just less than half full.
  8. Reserve the remainder to use with the extra egg custard mixture.
  9. In a small microwaveable bowl, heat the milk for about two minutes on high power.
  10. While that cooks, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large pitcher.
  11. Stir the hot milk, a little at a time, into the egg mixture.
  12. Pour evenly into the muffin cups over the caramel.
  13. Place the muffin pan, inside the Pyrex baking dish, in the microwave and cover with wax paper.
  14. Heat on high for 6 minutes.
  15. Remove any mini custards that are done (the sides come easily away without any residual liquid, and the centers are jiggly like Jell-O).
  16. Sprinkle nutmeg on top of the done custards and put the pan back in the microwave.
  17. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute and check for any more cooked custards.
  18. Repeat this process until all the custards are cooked.
  19. When all the mini custards are done, pour the remaining caramel into an individual custard dish, and then pour the egg custard mixture on top.
  20. Microwave on high for 8 -10 minutes until the individual custard tests done the same way the mini custards did.
  21. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
  22. Pour any residual caramel sauce over the custards and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

how to make custardI didn’t really know what to expect from this recipe, this being the first time I ever made it. I also didn’t read far enough ahead in the directions before I poured the mixture into the muffin pans to realize that I needed to put the whole thing in water, so note to those of you who are wiser than I am: PUT THE FLIMSY SILICONE MUFFIN PAN INSIDE THE PYREX BAKING DISH BEFORE YOU POUR IN THE CARAMEL AND EGG MIXTURE! You’ll have a huge mess on your hands, if you don’t (unfortunately, I found this out the hard way).

This is really a yummy way to finish off your dinner, whether it’s a special formal sit-down affair or an informal family dinner night. Everyone in my family enjoyed this caramel custard recipe (thank goodness!). And I hope your family enjoys it too.

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

cherries jubilee
Breakfast, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Cherries Jubilee Syrup

 

pancakes with cherries jubilee syrup

It’s National Cherries Jubilee Day…and it’s also National Breakfast Month. I thought it would be fun to combine the two in a cherries jubilee pancake recipe. So, when I ran across this one, I had to try it out and share. This is a little more difficult to make than the usual old-fashioned pancake recipe I love, but it is so worth it. The next time you have brunch guests, you might want to give this a try to truly impress them!

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Cherries Jubilee Syrup
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 12 pancakes
An awesome variation on two old favorites – pancakes and cherries jubilee.
Ingredients
  • Pam cooking spray (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 10-ounce jar of maraschino cherries + juice and half the cherries in another jar
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract + half a cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
Instructions
  1. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, milk, vinegar, cream cheese, butter, orange juice, and vanilla.
  3. Stir vigorously for two to three minutes until pancake batter is well mixed. There may be lumps.
  4. Spoon out into heated skillet and cook over medium high heat for about 30-60 seconds per side.
  5. Transfer cooked pancake to a serving plate and top with the cherries jubilee syrup.
  6. To make the syrup: Heat the cherries and cherry juice, rum extract, lemon extract and water, sugar, and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  7. Cook, stirring, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  9. Spoon over the pancakes as soon as they are done.
cherries jubilee

I love this recipe, and I really love the fact that I can enjoy the cherries jubilee taste without all the alcohol or the potential for fire. I’m kind of a klutz in the kitchen, so I’m sure trying to set anything on fire on purpose would go really badly.

I’m glad to say, however, that this one was pure delight from start to finish…especially when it came time to eat the pancakes for our after-dinner treat. And there was plenty more batter left over for tomorrow’s breakfast. I can hardly wait!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.  

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!  

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.   

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?  

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page

butterscotch pudding
Cooking with Kids, Just Desserts

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding

homemade butterscotch pudding.png

It’s National Butterscotch Pudding Day! This is one day my husband, in particular, loves to celebrate. Butterscotch pudding is one of his favorites. His whole face lit up when I told him I was going to try to make some and write a post about it for today. And he said he might actually save some for me to try myself. Maybe.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make this homemade butterscotch pudding. I might not ever bother with that instant powdered stuff again!

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 70 mins
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings
This butterscotch pudding takes a while to get ready, but it’s easier than it looks. So much better than instant pudding!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbspns cornstarch or cornstarch substitute (see below)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbspns butter
  • 2 tsps vanilla
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and egg yolks.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a steady boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for about two more minutes until mixture thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until butter is completely melted.
  5. Let cool to room temperature, stirring a few times, and pour into individual serving dishes.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.

And if you’re anything like me, you don’t always have cornstarch on hand, but you can make an easy cornstarch substitute by mixing two parts water with one part flour (for this recipe, I put three tablespoons of flour and six tablespoons of water in a sealable container and shook it up really well to combine). Adding the water to the flour prevents lumps (although you still might have some), and the boiling helps take away the distinctive taste of the flour. I was afraid that the extra water would keep the pudding from thickening, but as you can see in the picture, it absolutely didn’t!

butterscotch pudding

By the time I whipped up a batch to put in the fridge, I saw it was time to make dinner, so I told my husband we’d have to save this pudding for dessert. His first response was, “What? We can’t eat that for dinner?” I’d already let him lick the spoon, so I’m assuming the pudding is a hit with my family – at least it is with my oldest picky eater.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe too. I’m looking forward to tasting it tonight after dinner, and I imagine I’ll have to make more of it very soon, because I’m sure my husband will have this batch eaten in no time!

Note: This pudding disappeared in a hurry, so I made another batch a few days later, except my six-year-old requested chocolate pudding. I took this recipe, threw in three tablespoons of cocoa, and we had chocolate pudding that was every bit as good as the butterscotch. Yay for versatility!

 

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

Cooking with Kids, Drinks, Just Desserts

Happiness in a Glass: Chocolate Milkshake Day

 

chocolate milkshake day

Today we get to celebrate one of my girls’ favorite drinks. It’s National Chocolate Milkshake Day! We’ve made them promise, though, that they will eat a decent dinner before we partake of the cold, creamy, chocolaty goodness. My husband, as a matter of fact, may forbid me from enjoying one because my sinuses are currently wreaking havoc on my system, and he’s afraid that the milkshake will just make things worse for me. He’s trying to look out for me, not punish me by keeping me away from something I love…at least, that’s what I keep trying to tell myself.

The chocolate milkshake is such a simple dessert drink. Here’s all you need to make it:

  1. A blender
  2. Milk (white, or chocolate)
  3. Chocolate syrup (if you use white milk)
  4. Two scoops of ice cream (either vanilla or chocolate)

Still, it’s one of the most amazing dessert drinks ever created, and it has a long and fascinating history.

chocolate milkshake day

The term “milkshake” was first coined back in 1885 to refer to an alcoholic whiskey eggnog-type drink. By the early 1900s, however, the milkshake had lost its alcohol and gained a number of delicious flavors, like the classic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Also, at this point, ice cream was included in most of the recipes. And why not? Ice cream makes pretty much everything better.

The history of the milkshake is inextricably connected with the history of the blender. The modern blender was first invented in 1922, and up until that point milkshakes retained their eggnogg-y form because they were mostly hand-shaken. The blender revolutionized the way milkshakes were made and served. Today, I wouldn’t even think of making a milkshake without a blender.

Milkshakes and “malteds” were all the rage in the 1950s, and it was about this time that a successful milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc bought exclusive rights to Earl Prince’s 1930s-era Multimixer and went on to use it to speed up milkshake production at his McDonald’s restaurants, which still proudly serve chocolate milkshakes.

Of course, in today’s more health-conscious society, the traditional milkshake is often ignored in favor of milkshake-like “smoothies,” which include more nutritious ingredients (and less refined sugar), but you can still get your chocolate fix with a smoothie. Just throw a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder in with a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt and a banana. Blend that together for 30-60 seconds, and you’ll have at least a pretty good chocolate milkshake substitute that will allow you to satisfy your craving with no guilt!

Now, tell me: Did you celebrate National Chocolate Milkshake Day? If not, why not?

 

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

Cooking Tools & Techniques, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking, Old Family Recipes

Potato Candy Cake Bites

 

potato candy cake bites

September is National Potato Month. As such, I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a bunch of potato recipes. The other day, for example, I posted a yummy potato soup recipe.

I also wanted to feature a potato candy recipe because I remembered making some with my mom one time, but it wasn’t the roll-out-the-log kind of potato candy that you can find hundreds of recipes of online. Her potato candy recipe was easier than that (or so I thought) – just mix all the ingredients together and roll them into little balls that you coat with powdered (confectioner’s) sugar. Well, I tried to do it from memory, and…it was a big, fat FAIL! I could NOT replicate my mom’s potato candy balls.

Since I came out with a big, sticky, ooey-gooey mess, I tried to make something of it by adding flour and baking powder and sticking it in the microwave. The result? A deliciously rich, thick cake that’s great for breakfast or snack time. No need to ice this baby. It’s perfect as is (the confectioner’s sugar is inside the mix, remember).

Thankfully, I was able to turn a near-food tragedy into a delicious food WIN! But I guess I’ll need to bug my mom to give me her potato candy recipe so I can see where I went wrong with that.

However, today I bring you what I affectionately call Potato Candy Cake Bites. Yum!

Potato Candy Cake Bites
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 24 bites
Here’s a fun new twist on an old favorite, potato candy!
Ingredients
  • 4 servings instant mashed potatoes, prepared according to box instructions
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together cooked instant mashed potatoes, peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and spices.
  2. Add flour and baking powder, and stir until combined. Mixture will be slightly thick.
  3. Grease an 8 X 11-inch Pyrex baking pan.
  4. Spoon potato candy batter into the greased pan.
  5. Cook in the microwave on medium (Power Level 5) for 10 minutes.
  6. Rotate once in the middle of cooking, if you don’t have a turntable (or, if your microwave is small like mine, and the baking pan gets stuck so the turntable can’t move).
  7. Microwave on high 4-6 minutes. Check the cake carefully at this stage.
  8. When the cake is done, the top will appear mostly dry (this cake stays pretty moist)
  9. Cut into 24 smallish squares to serve. These cake pieces are very thick!
Potato candy cake bites

I was pleasantly surprised by how well these little gems turned out (especially considering how disappointed I was when the potato candy didn’t turn out the way I thought it would). These things are super-filling, but super-delicious! My whole family loves them, and I hope yours does too!

 

 

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

Breads, Breakfast, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts, Microwave Baking

Fast Elvis: Microwave Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

fast elvis

We eat a lot of bananas around here – a lot. We can’t really keep them in the house (I’m surprised I had enough around long enough to make this recipe). And one of my favorite ways to eat bananas (besides banana bread) is to slather peanut butter all over the top of them. I don’t usually turn it into a sandwich, like Elvis did. I just serve the sliced bananas topped with peanut butter on a plate.

One day, I got the bright idea to put them together in a microwave quick bread recipe to see how they would turn out. Oh my goodness! I never thought this bread would be as yummy as it is, but yay for food experiments that turn out to be some of the best food you’ve ever eaten in your life. Here’s how I made this super yummy peanut butter banana bread that I’ve affectionately termed “Fast Elvis.” 🙂

Fast Elvis: Microwave Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 8-9 slices
Here’s a microwave quick bread recipe inspired by an Elvis favorite – peanut butter and banana.
Ingredients
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 6 tbspns butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup milk
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mash up the the bananas thoroughly with a metal spoon or fork.
  2. Fold in the margarine or butter and combine well.
  3. Add in sugar, egg, and vanilla, and beat together until you get a light, slightly fluffy mixture.
  4. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and milk.
  5. Mix together for about 30-60 seconds, until thoroughly combined (batter may still be lumpy, depending on how much you mashed the bananas).
  6. Lightly grease a microwave-safe loaf pan.
  7. Pour batter evenly into the pan.
  8. Cover with wax paper.
  9. Microwave on Medium High (Power Level 5) for 6 minutes. Rotate the pan once halfway through, if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable.
  10. Then, microwave on High for 4-6 minutes. Bread will spring back when touched, and the top will look slightly dry.
  11. Remove from the microwave and keep covered with the wax paper for about 15 minutes.
  12. Slice and serve.
Peanut butter banana bread

 

I dare you to try this bread recipe and not fall in love with it! It’s probably the best banana bread I’ve ever had.

 

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.

Breakfast, Cooking Healthy Food, Fruit for Dessert, Just Desserts

Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes

Apple-Cinnamon

I’ve mentioned before how my family loves pancakes. Well, this Saturday morning my husband woke up and asked for pancakes for breakfast. I didn’t have milk, but I knew I had half and half in the fridge, so I thought maybe I could substitute that. I didn’t realize, however, that I didn’t have much half and half, and what I did have (about a cup) was thicker than regular milk, so the pancake batter from my original old-fashioned pancake recipe wasn’t thin enough.

I also forgot to add the baking powder from that original recipe, and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the original recipe. It still (of course) wasn’t thin enough.

I had some yogurt in the fridge, so I added that in (about half a cup)…but then I realized it was Greek yogurt. I hadn’t done a thing but add protein and thickness!

Fortunately, I still had some applesauce in the fridge. And, since I’d already added a bit of cinnamon, I decided to put in a bit more (another teaspoon), along with a cup of applesauce, and call them “apple cinnamon pancakes.”

My family ate them just as well (or better) than the regular, old-fashioned ones, so I’d say my accident was a happy one. Breakfast success!

Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 pancakes
Applesauce and cinnamon give this old-fashioned pancake recipe a delicious twist. Serve with maple syrup, if desired.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsps butter (melted)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
  2. Dig a well in the center of the dry mixture.
  3. Pour in the half and half, egg, vanilla, yogurt, applesauce, and melted butter.
  4. Stir together until smooth.
  5. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Spoon the batter into the frying pan, one “pancake” at a time.
  7. Brown on both sides (about 30-60 seconds per side).
  8. Serve hot, with maple syrup (if desired).
3.3.3077
Cooking Up a Food Blog, Just Desserts, Old Family Recipes

Sharing the Love: No-Bake Cheesecake Update

I’ve always loved cheesecake. My grandmother used to make a yummy no-bake version with graham cracker crust. So easy, and so super delicious. I really, really miss that cheesecake. But mostly I miss her!

As part of the Foodaplenty 30-day Challenge for the second day, Alice Seba encouraged us to share a little link love.

This no-bake cheesecake recipe caught my eye… especially because it uses a shortbread crust instead of the traditional graham cracker crust, so I thought I’d feature it here today on my blog. It looks so very, very good. I can’t wait to try it!

Take a minute and hop over to the Crazy Cat Girl’s blog, and tell her Mishael Austin WItty sent you! I SO love her name, mostly because I’m a crazy cat girl myself!

No-Bake-Cheesecake

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

 

Fifteen years ago, I went to a party a friend was hosting and bought a stoneware mini loaf pan. I still have that thing today, and it’s just as awesome.

When I got married almost 13 years ago, I let the friend of a friend do a Pampered Chef bridal shower for me. I still have all those things too!

I’ve been buying Pampered Chef products at various parties (mostly online now) ever since. I have never been disappointed by a single thing I’ve bought with Pampered Chef.

So, when I recently attended yet another online party and saw that there was a $19.80 join special, I took the plunge. I’ve been enjoying Pampered Chef myself for decades. Why not share that love with others?

I’m so excited to start my Pampered Chef journey. I would be thrilled if you would consider joining me. Pampered Chef has so many tools that can help you as you seek to eat cleaner. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on my Facebook page.