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

 

microwave egg cooker
Breakfast, Cooking Tools & Techniques

Yummy Microwave Eggs

yummy microwave eggs

Yes! It’s true! You really can make yummy eggs in the microwave. I’ve done it several times before!

how to microwave an egg
Used with permission from AZAdam – http://flickr.com/photos/azadam/120126016/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3216130

It all started a few years ago when my older daughter asked for eggs for breakfast. I went to the kitchen, set the frying pan on a burner, and turned the stove on. The burner almost immediately started smoking. I was afraid that whatever was causing the smoking would catch fire (it’s happened before), so I turned off the power to that burner.

I tried another burner. Same thing. Then I went to another burner. Again, after a few seconds, the burner started smoking. All my burners had this same problem!

I was afraid to use the stove, and my little girl was still asking for her egg. So, I had to think of something. I, of course, turned to the Internet and found this interesting (if a little amateurish) video. Note: the baby at the end really doesn’t have anything to do with cooking the eggs. I would just turn it off after the first couple of minutes if I were you.

Here’s How I Made My Eggs in a Cup

Now, the chef in this video called her creation an omelet, but I’m not sure what I made actually qualifies as an omelet. It was actually more like scrambled eggs with a little cheese thrown in.

Ingredients:

  • one large mug
  • one extra-large egg
  • about one-fourth of a cup of mild cheddar cheese (more or less to taste)
  • a couple of dashes of salt
  • a couple of dashes of pepper

The technique:

  1. Crack open egg.
  2. Pour contents into the mug.
  3. Whisk the egg to break up yolk.
  4. Add cheese.
  5. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Stir lightly.
  7. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds.
  8. Stir the egg with a fork.
  9. Return to microwave and cook for 30 more seconds.
  10. Jab a fork into the egg to check for done-ness.
  11. Pour the egg out of the cup (or just eat it in the cup).

In the video, the cat lady sprayed her cup with Pam before pouring her egg mixture into it, and I’ve done this too. However, the first time I made eggs in a mug, I got distracted by my then three-year-old and one-year-old, so I completely forgot this step. I was really regretting that omission by the time all was said and done because the melted cheese stuck really badly to the mug. If you forget to spray the Pam on the mug (I never have since then), you’re going to have to soak the mug in water for about half an hour (at least I did) and then scrub for quite a while to get it all off.

I also personally love to add a little milk to my eggs before I cook them – just a tablespoon or two. I started doing that, and it does help keep the microwave eggs from being too rubbery.

When I’m making eggs for myself, I always add some favorite spices: thyme, onion powder to add a little more flavor, and probably some more ingredients – coriander’s always nice. And so is chervil, for egg dishes. These eggs, however, are surprisingly tasty to be cooked in a microwave with just cheese and salt and pepper. I never would have thought it was possible if I hadn’t tried it myself!

As I said before, this doesn’t really qualify as an omelet because there was no flipping involved, and it came out of the cup in one big block form – not a nice flat half-moon shape. Still, it’s an amazingly easy, fast, and tasty way to get the goodness of eggs anytime you want! Hooray for the microwave!

You don’t even have to use one of those specialty gadgets for cooking eggs in the microwave, although you can if you want to. Who knows? The eggs might turn out even better.

Some Nutritional Facts About Eggs

One extra-large egg has:

  • 80 calories
  • 6 grams of total fat
  • 2 grams of saturated fat
  • 237 mg of cholesterol
  • 7 grams of protein
  • 3% Daily Value (DV) of calcium
  • 5% DV of Vitamin A
  • 6% DV of iron

Eggs are also a great source of a few major B vitamins: B2, B5, and B12. And some studies show that eating two eggs for breakfast can even kick up your weight loss.

1529-lg

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.

breakfast recipes
Cooking Healthy Food, Cooking Tools & Techniques

Four Popular Breakfast Recipe Books on Amazon

 

popular breakfast recipe books

September is National Breakfast Month, so I thought it would be fun to look at what’s popular now in terms of breakfast recipes. Here’s a collection of four of the most popular books currently available on Amazon, according to their sales ranks and numbers of customer reviews. These books represent definite trends in what consumers are looking for in terms of food and nutrition. And the recipes inside prove that food is more than just something to use as entertainment or emotional comfort. Food can actually be used as medicine. So why not start your day off right by picking out one (or more) of the recipes in one of these books and see how much better you feel for the whole rest of the day.

Lisa Lillien, otherwise known as the “Hungry Girl,” is the author of 12 cookbooks. Her recipes focus on healthy eating, for the most part, especially in terms of cutting out calories and fat (and who doesn’t want more recipes that do that?). That’s where this book, published in 2011, comes in. It has 300 recipes in it, each of which results in a meal containing 300 calories or less. While this book does have other recipes in it besides breakfast recipes, the breakfast section is substantial – with over 60 recipes focusing on the very first meal of the day, including microwave egg mugs, oatmeal, and muffins!
The next most popular breakfast cookbook on Amazon focuses on a very specific problem – that of gluten intolerance. This is not an issue I’ve had to deal with personally, and thankfully no one in my family has an issue with this, but millions of people all over the world do, so there’s a very real need for recipe books like this one. It contains 99 recipes that (as is the case with the Hungry Girl book) include more than just breakfast dishes, but it does have some fabulous gluten-free breakfast variations on some favorites, including pancakes (and you know how I love pancakes!).
The premise of this next book, and its companion cookbook, intrigued me so much I decided to check it out for myself. I’ll have my own copy soon (so look for vegan-inspired recipes here in the future), but for now you can click on the links and check the book out for yourself. All indications (from the Bible) are that man was created to be vegan (or at least vegetarian), but that all changed after The Flood (if not before). I love the idea of getting the body back to its original state by giving it a natural vegan diet. And I love the idea of not completely depriving or limiting yourself from enjoying the foods that you love because the Bible also indicates that there’s nothing wrong with eating meat or animal-derived products. Will I lose a ton of weight? I doubt it. But I do think I’ll learn some important things about my body and how it reacts to certain foods. And I might just grow spiritually from it, as well.
For the past couple of years, all I’ve heard about is this idea of the paleo diet (which sounds pretty similar to a low carbohydrate diet, if you ask me, but I’m sure there are some differences). I’ve not hopped on the paleo diet bandwagon, but some of my friends have…and so have plenty of other people, apparently, judging by the popularity of some of the paleo diet books. I thought this one was especially neat because not only does it concentrate on paleo eating but it also narrows it down to diet-related food you can eat on the run (and most everyone is always on the run, these days). Unlike the other books on this list, this one focuses on only two meals – breakfast and lunch – but there are 100 recipes in here that are 100% portable. No wonder this book is popular!

breakfast recipes

I hope this post has given you some ideas for making the most important meal of the day more enjoyable and healthier…and you don’t even have an excuse for missing breakfast with all the on-the-go options. Have a wonderful, delicious National Breakfast Month!

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.

Cooking Tools & Techniques, Soups

Crock-Pot Hammy Potato Soup

crockpot hammy potato soup

I’ve mentioned my Grammy before and how I inherited a lot of cookbooks when she died, but (obviously) I had another grandmother. She was also a fabulous cook, and I inherited a lot of her old cookbooks too. I was thumbing through looking for something to fix for dinner, and I ran across a delicious-looking potato soup recipe that I thought we all might enjoy, so I gave it a try after tweaking it slightly to suit our tastes and the fact that I had some leftover ham I wanted to add in.

I thought it was wonderful. My husband thought it was okay, and the kids wouldn’t even try it! Well, that’s not entirely true. The four-year-old took one bite and said it was, “Yummy,” but then she asked for a hot dog. 🙂

Here’s the recipe for my yummy, hammy potato soup.

Crock-Pot Hammy Potato Soup
Recipe Type: Main
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 hours
Total time: 10 hours 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings
What do you do when you have a lot of leftover ham and potatoes? You make hammy potato soup, of course! At least, I did.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb cooked ham steaks, diced
  • 6 small baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 10.75-ounce can Campbell’s condensed potato soup
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 tbspns white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 stick of butter, sliced
  • 2 tsps parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic
Instructions
  1. In a large Crock-Pot, pour in chicken broth, water, half-and-half, and white wine vinegar.
  2. Stir until combined.
  3. Add in the flour, parsley, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic, and bay leaf.
  4. Stir well.
  5. Stir in the diced ham and potato.
  6. Layer the sliced butter over the top of the soup at regular intervals.
  7. Cover and cook over low heat for 8-10 hours.
  8. Remove bay leaf before serving.
hammy potato soup

This is a very filling soup, so you’ll want to serve it with something light, like a green salad. And be prepared to store the leftovers. To me, though, that was the best part of making this soup, because I think it tastes even better a day or two later!

 

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

I Can’t Live Without This Sandwich Maker!

sandwich maker

When I was getting married, I registered for a number of kitchen items (don’t most new brides?), one of which was this sandwich maker.

Proctor-Silex Sandwich Toaster

$16.99 on Amazon

Honestly, I didn’t even know what it was, and I didn’t have a clue of what to do with one. I’m not a big toasted bread sandwich eater. I like cold sandwich bread just fine. But everyone told me to register for things that I wouldn’t buy for myself, and this was certainly something I wouldn’t buy for myself, so I put it on there.

Fast forward seven years or so… My oven died and all my stove burners smoked whenever I tried to turn them on (which, because of an experience I’d had in our previous residence, made me afraid to even attempt to cook anything on the stove top), so I had to come up with another way to cook yummy food that my kids would eat.

I saw the unused (still in the box) sandwich toaster sitting there, and I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’ I used it to fix my older daughter’s breakfast one morning (she asked for pancakes – as I’ve said before, we’re pancake monsters in this house). To my extreme surprise, I discovered you could make deliciously light, fluffy pancakes (or, “pancake puffs,” as I named them) in just minutes…with very little mess. You can also make tuna cakes, omelets, and even individual pies. I’ve often thought about writing down some of my sandwich maker recipes. I think I’m really going to have to start doing that soon.

It’s amazing to me that I could go from not knowing anything about a certain kitchen appliance to feeling like I can’t live without it in such a short time, just because I ended up needing to find a different way to make pancakes. But I sure do feel that way about this sandwich maker. It’s one of my favorite appliances to use in the kitchen, and I even like playing around to see what new recipes I can come up with. So, it’s both functional AND fun!

This one little gadget has lasted for over a decade (that means it cost about $1 per year…except it was free for me because someone gave it to me as a gift). It’s the perfect gift for newlyweds who don’t have a lot of space…or who might not have easy access to an oven…and it’s definitely a great idea for college students living in dorms.

The Proctor Silex Sandwich Toaster is versatile, practical, and economical. It certainly has proven to be a life saver for me, more times than I can even count. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

So, I want to know: Do you have a sandwich maker? Do you love it? Have any recipes you’d care to share? Leave a comment and tell me all about it.

 

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 Kids

Amazing Microwave Brownies!

Microwave brownies!

After my grandmother’s passing, I inherited a lot of her old cookbooks – she had hundreds, I think! She loved to cook, and that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much. Many a good memory was made for me in my Grammy’s kitchen.

Some of the most interesting cookbooks I found focused on microwave cooking – and even microwave baking. My oven has been broken for quite a while now (we just never seem to have the money to fix it), so I’ve learned to do a lot of my cooking on the stove top and in my Crock Pot and microwave.

Recently, we had an after-church lunch, and they asked all the members to fix desserts. My daughter automatically suggested brownies, so I dug out this old recipe and took a stab at it. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, come on…microwave brownies? Really?

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out. The real test, of course, would come when I took them to church. Well, my six-year-old said they were really good. She ate three or four by herself. And one other girl commented that they were her favorites out of all the other brownies on the table! I’d say they were definitely a hit. I certainly didn’t bring any home with me.

This experience certainly did teach me something – never underestimate the power of the microwave for outstanding baking!

Amazing Microwave Brownies!
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 6 mins
Total time: 11 mins
Serves: 16 brownies
These brownies are so good, you’ll never believe they were baked in a microwave. I know I had trouble believing it myself!
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for about 1 minute.
  2. Add melted butter and continue stirring until thoroughly blended.
  3. Stir in flour and cocoa.
  4. Spread mixture evenly in a lightly greased baking pan (8-inch square or 7 X 11 inch rectangular baking pan).
  5. Microwave on high for 6 to 6.5 minutes.
  6. Rotate the pan once in the middle of cooking, if your microwave doesn’t have an automatic turntable.
  7. You will know the brownies are done when the top looks dry and it springs back when it is lightly touched.
  8. Let cool completely, and cut into squares to serve.

 

Want even more microwave dessert recipes? Check out this free recipe book from yours truly on Gumroad.

Don’t have a microwave to bake with? Here are some of the top-rated ones on Amazon.

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, Cooking Tools & Techniques, Cooking Up a Food Blog, Cooking with Kids

Donut Holes Disaster

It’s summer. The kids are home from school, and they’re hungry all the time. That means I run out of food in the house quickly.

Yesterday morning, I got the bright idea to try to deep fry my own donut holes. I wasn’t ambitious enough to try actual donuts, but I thought it would be easy enough to fry up little balls of sweet dough.

Turns out, I was slightly wrong. First of all, I didn’t have everything I needed to make the exact recipe I found online. Second, I didn’t really understand what I was doing (since it was the first time I’d ever tried to make donut holes),  so this was a totally new experience for me –  a bit of trial and error. Probably more error than trial.

Here’s basically what I used/did.

My Modified Donut Hole Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert/ Breakfast
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: About 20 donut holes
My modifed donut recipe. It was supposed to be quick and easy, but I didn’t think it was.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 quart oil
  • 1/2 confectioners, white, or cinnamon sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Mix together the vinegar and milk and let sit for about three minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla and blend well.
  4. Pour in the flour, baking powder, salt, and salt.
  5. Pour the vinegar and milk mixture into the flour/butter/egg mixture and mix well.
  6. Form the dough into one large ball and break off into smaller balls, rolling the dough in your hands to form the donut holes.
  7. Cover the donut hole dough balls and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  8. Heat oil on the stove in a large, deep frying pan or pot to a temp of 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  9. Fry the donut holes in the hot oil until golden brown, turning over once to ensure even cooking on both sides.
  10. Drain on paper towels.
  11. Dust with sugar of your choice while the donut holes are still warm.
  12. Serve immediately.

And here’s what I think I did wrong. I think I had too much liquid and not enough solid because the batter I got was basically the consistency of pancake batter. Note: DON’T try to deep fry pancake batter and expect to get donut holes. It’s not going to work right.

Maybe if I had used regular milk instead of coconut milk, that would have helped. Or maybe I should have used more flour. I’m going to try that next time and see what happens.

Also, the original recipe used shortening. I switched it to butter because that was what I had, and I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. I could have been wrong about that.

When everything was all said and done, this was what I came up with:

donut hole recipe

I affectionately call these my “donut blobs.” My older daughter said they were, “Yummy.” I thought they weren’t bad…just a little on the oily side (and not at all how I’d hoped they’d be). My younger daughter wouldn’t even touch them. And my husband liked them, but he commented on how the batter must have been too thin because they soaked up so much oil. I told him I thought the batter was too thin also. I guess that should’ve been my first clue to not try to fry them like I did.

Anyway, there’s always next time. I’ll report back on how my second experiment goes with these. Stay tuned!

Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 2.05.23 PM

Almost 20 years ago now, I had my first experience with Pampered Chef. 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 love it if you joined me!