recipe || pumpkin bundt cake

When one of your dearest ones has a 30th birthday and she has a deep love for the season of fall as you do, you make a pumpkin cake to celebrate her. It is the only right and appropriate thing to do.

And that is just what we did last night with our beautiful friend, Rachel. We feasted on Irish Stew, creamy mashed potatoes, and crusty bread with Kerrygold butter while we shared such good conversations, and we were all so very happy. We then lit our pumpkin candle and cut into this pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and ventured into the sunroom to sit and enjoy the evening air. 

This cake was a delightful close to our meal. As pumpkin is, it was not overly sweet, so the cream cheese frosting adds a nice little topper of richness and sweet to complete the autumnal ensemble. It is a bundt cake and oftentimes bundt cakes can be rather dry, but this one is not. It's perfectly moist and good. I think next time I might a bit more vanilla to the frosting and perhaps another time, if I am craving more decadence, I'll add in some chocolate chunks, but it is lovely as it is and I wholeheartedly say "brava."

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Pumpkin Bundt Cake

2 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk*

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)**

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine sugar and oil until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition. 

Transfer batter to prepared bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely before preparing the cream cheese frosting. 

For the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter; mixing until well-combined and fluffy -- about 2 minutes. Gradually add in confectioners' sugar. Once the confectioners' sugar is completely incorporated, mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla and milk. If frosting appears to be too thick, slowly add in a little more milk until you reach the desired consistency. If desired, add pumpkin pie spice and mix until well-combined. Spoon over cooled cake.

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Recipe via My Baking Addiction

*I ended up using about 4 tablespoons of milk, but I added it one at a time. And I probably could have thinned it out a tad more to make it a bit more pourable.

**I left the pumpkin pie spice out because I just wanted the purity of the cream cheese.

recipe || blueberry streusel muffins

In all my kitchen love, one thing I have always struggled with is buying a perishable ingredient for one specific recipe, forgetting about it, and letting it go bad rather than utilizing all its goodness to the fullest extent. 

So, when I had to buy a large amount of blueberries for that (delectable) blueberry pie I made last week I was determined to use all those tiny balls of blue, and not just as the topping to my morning granola and yogurt, as good as that it. Hubby put in his vote for streusel-topped muffins, so I pinterest-ed for 1.5 minutes and found this gem of a recipe.

The result:

The most delightful blueberry muffins and not one blueberry wasted. I feel proud.

Bakery-Style Blueberry Streusel Muffins*

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used whole)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups blueberries

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp unsalted butter, melted

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray or line a 12 cup muffin baking pan.** Prepare the streusel topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter with the sugar, add the eggs, mix, then add the milk and vanilla, mix again. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently combine using a rubber spatula until moistened. Fold in the blueberries until just incorporated. 

Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups, top with streusel and bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.***

*recipe via little sweet baker

**I actually got 16 muffins out of the batter.

***The timing she described here worked perfectly for me, too. They were completely baked through, but still moist and fluffy.

These are happy little muffins, bursting with blueberries and perfect with morning coffee.

Happy Baking, lovelies!

recipe || champagne-vanilla cupcakes

There is always a reason to bake cupcakes, but when your sister and her boyfriend get back in town for school, your mom and little brother come for a visit and your little brother hasn't been to visit in 5 years, and it's your birthday and wedding anniversary month, I'd say the reasons to bake cupcakes are without argument.

If you've never made cupcakes with some sort of bubbly in them I encourage you to do so now. The alcohol bakes out and you are left with fluffy, light baby cakes that are perfect for any sort of party or shower or Thursday afternoon.

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I prefer using Prosecco or another bubbly wine like Moscato because the flavor of champagne is not everyone's cup of tea. We chose to use a different icing recipe since the custard frosting was a bit more involved than we had time for and this buttercream frosting is tried and true.

Cupcake Recipe from Food Network*

Buttercream Frosting Recipe from Pinterest

*I used vanilla rather than the vanilla bean this time around

Pipe out some frosting and add a few decorative edible pearls and voila!, my darlings! Simple elegance in cupcake form.

Happy Baking, lovelies! 

 

recipe || this years birthday cake

Each year the question comes, "what kind of birthday cake would you like this year, my Love?" And each year, I answer differently. I don't have my one special cake, the one and only that I want to have year after year. I just love cake too much to not want to try all the kinds. So each year, I give it some focused thought and see where the cravings lead. 

This year: chocolate.......chocolate on chocolate. I've had several "best" chocolate cake pins adorning my sweets pinterest board for a while now so one was chosen and that became this years birthday cake. 

And to just brag on my J a bit......he made one darn good chocolate cake. The man is multi-talented, never ceases to impress me. He and AK put the whole thing together and, truly, that has made every piece even better. They even put sprinkles on the top just because they know I love them. The frosting on this cake, especially, was so fluffy and decadent, a bit of what dreams are made of, I think. It's just a really good chocolate cake. 

Thank you, my loves. You make everything more wonderful.

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Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the cake: add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Frost cake with......

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

5 cups confectioner's sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Directions

Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner's sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Original recipe via Pinterest

And as one little extra piece of goodness: if you like the chocolate, peanut butter combination, then dollop a little scoop of creamy peanut butter onto the plate of your chocolate cake and eat them together. I assure you, life as you know it will be better. You can thank my mama for that.

Enjoy your indulging, friends.

recipe || roasted tomato soup

Do you know what inspires me? Someone who has a dream tucked into their heart, something they probably keep quietly to themselves for a time, praying about it, asking the Lord to give directions and clarity as to if and when the steps for that dream ought to begin. Then, one day, they whisper it to their spouse or dear friend or parent and say, "what do you think about it?" And over time they began to share it with a few more people, asking for prayer, asking for help or added inspiration until, finally, it is time to start fitting the pieces of that dream together.

The hard work begins the putting feet to the dream. How exciting and exhausting it must be, how vulnerable and hopeful that person must feel. But how sweet to be on a journey of learning to trust the Lord all the more; to see what He will do with it, whether it is to grow and flourish, or whether it doesn't come to really ever "be" at all and it is something that must be let go. Either way, He pushes and prods, stretches and grows, encourages and comforts. After all, He knows those private dreams we hold better than we really do, and He knows how He is going to us them, for our sake and His.

I've thought about all these things many times as I've followed The Yellow Table blog. Anna, the lovely one behind said blog, relayed her journey a while ago as she created and wrote and published her first cookbook, The Yellow Table. It was fascinating to read about that journey and incredible to see her work ethic and her passion behind putting together those pages. A story like that catches my eye, it sparks my creativity, and it absolutely makes me feel all the things.

And then she goes and cooks so beautifully! This roasted tomato soup of hers is our favorite favorite of all the tomato soup recipes we've tried. I love the balance of her soup, and the grilled cheese recipe she has in her book to accompany this soup marks the yummy box with a good, hearty check.

Eat, my friends, and be satisfied.

Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup

Ingredients and Recipe on the blog: The Yellow Table.

Buy her cookbook. It is so well done, truly a soothing cookbook for me to flip through. It is a favorite to keep on my Magnolia cookbook stand as the cover is lovely and reminds me, every time I glance over at it, to always be looking for opportunity to gather people around my own table. There's something magical about the way food and conversations meld together. I love what it does.

I hope this week is off to a delicious start for you, lovelies. Happy Monday.

 

recipe || chocolate crispy peanut butter balls

J and I were talking the other day about how there are certain things at Christmas time that instantly sends us back to our childhood; sights, sounds, tastes, that instantly cause a flood of memories to wash over us. We love those conversations because it reminds us of the grace of God to have given us the families He did, parents who formed the traditions yet flexed when it was needed, who let sprinkles and paint go everywhere and let us eat "one more" christmas cookie, who danced to the music and let us wrap presents with 150 pieces of tape and who made the memories that we've carried with us for years.

We love those conversations because they inspire us to carry on those traditions. We get to take the soundtracks of our childhood and the treats and the ornaments and mold them into our little family, sharing with Anna Kate where they came from and the memories attached to them. And we get to make our own, the memories, the traditions, the favorite treats and music that AK will carry with her for years to come and, Lord willing, into her own home one day. How beautiful is that when you stop to think about it?

These chocolate crispy peanut butter balls are one of those carried over traditions for me. I know many people make peanut butter balls but my mom's recipe is my absolute favorite and it comes from the Creme de Colorado cookbook. These were always a staple in the "thank the teacher" Christmas gifts and the neighbor goodie bags, plus being the treat that was so easy to sneak out of the container without a clear sign that you had been there. I am strictly a creamy peanut butter type gal but I make an exception for these little circles of goodness. They are far from looking magazine shoot ready but they certainly do the trick.

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup margarine, softened*

2 cups crunchy peanut butter**

2 cups rice krispies cereal

Chocolate Coating:

6 ounces german sweet chocolate

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 ounces parafin wax

Directions

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Chill.

In top of double boiler over boiling water, melt German and semisweet chocolates with parafin wax, stirring constantly until smooth. Using a wooden pick inserted in ball, dip balls into chocolate mixture, one at a time. Set on waxed paper to harden. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

*we use butter, always

**I might add a little creamy peanut butter in there to just help bind it all a bit more. as you're stirring it all together just see how it's coming along and go from there.

What are you favorite Christmas treat recipes? I always like to learn of new ones!

recipe || chicken gnocchi soup

Good Morning, you lovelies.

Happy Monday to you!

I will not lie to you, this morning has not started off in the most bright and sunshine-y of ways in our little home. It was a less than stellar night with the furry member of our family and when I did sleep I was dreaming of large amounts of stink-bugs (which I hate!!) dangling from our ceiling in a surprisingly organized pyramid formation. And then our Little's start to the day immediately began with tears and disobedience, requiring heart talks from two groggy, sleep-deprived parents. 

On mornings like this there lies a strong temptation to be resigned to "hard" for the rest of the day and throw the towel in right at the start. How many times I've done that, not even fighting to think rightly or be patient or choose joy because "it's just going to be one of those days." Let's parse that statement for all the sinful responses that are there, goodness. 

Praise Jesus, there's that glorious "but." That "but" that is ours in Christ Jesus, "because of His great love with which He loved us." Throwing in the towel isn't the only option, with which reminder He gently prompted my heart with this morning. After tearfully hugging J goodbye for the day, fighting the urge to grab him around the legs and beg him to stay home, I trudged back to our bedroom. As I tidied the bed, with a still struggling 5 year old in the next room, tears flowed as I just begged the Lord for His help. And the verse that came to mind was one of my favorites:

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

There it is, that wonderful, glorious "but." That reminder that His love never ceases, His mercies never end, His faithfulness is great! Even if the day is full of "hard" I have hope. I have every reason to fight for those right thoughts though I just want a pity party, to pursue that patience that is dangling by a thread, and to choose that joy even when the tears fall. And that can be done, not through my individual weary efforts, but because of His sufficient grace, because of that strength that is make perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Days like these are edged with such beauty, when I get outside of myself to see it, because they are pictures of a good Father who lovingly brings me to the end of myself and says, "Be content with weaknesses. For when you are weak, then you are strong."

So we are laying our tears and our weariness and our sleeplessness at His feet and choosing to see His work, to recognize His loving ways, and to "leave all resultings, do the next thing." 

So, dear ones, I hope that you have a lovely day, resting in the truest things about you. And here's a cozy recipe to write into your dinner menu this week. It's especially perfect on a rainy day. 

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and grated*

4 stalks celery, chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 rotisserie chicken + 1 cup reserved broth from bottom of the chicken container**

7 cups water

8 chicken bullion cubes

1 (16 ounce) package potato gnocchi

4 cups half and half

1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup cold water

5 tablespoons cornstarch

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Get your onion and garlic peeled and chopped, your carrots peeled and grated and your celery chopped. Heat a large pot up over medium high heat. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in it. When the oil is hot toss your chopped veggies into the pan. Cook them over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Take the rotisserie chicken out of the package and set it on a plate. Pour the broth that is left in the bottom of the chicken package into a large measuring cup. You should have about 1 cup of broth from the pan. Pull the skin off of the chicken, and take the meat off of the bones. Chop it up with a sharp knife. When your veggies are done cooking pour the broth from the chicken and 7 cups of hot water into the pot. Add 8 chicken bullion cubes and give it a nice stir. Add the chopped chicken and bring at the soup to a boil.

Open the package of gnocchi and pour it into the pot. Let the soup come to a boil again and allow the gnocchi to cook for about 3-4 minutes. The gnocchi will be cooked through when they float to the top of the broth. It should happen pretty fast. Chop up about 1 1/2 cups of spinach and toss it into the pot. Pour in 4 cups of half and half, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir it around a bit and let it come to a boil. 

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup cold water and 5 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix it well and pour it into the soup pot. Bring the soup to a boil, while you stir. It will thicken as the soup reaches a boil. Taste it and season it to your liking with salt and pepper. 

Enjoy, my friends, in all its coziness!

Original recipe via Pinterest

*I don't peel the carrots, I chop them. Go crazy.

**I use a rotisserie chicken or chicken breasts that I've baked with olive oil, salt, and pepper. And I always use chicken broth from its own container. 

***I half the recipe for J and I. It makes plenty!

recipe || pumpkin bread

Little woke up with a bad cold yesterday morning, complete with fever, so our day of running errands quickly shifted to a day of being home, clad in pjs until sometime after lunch ;), and spilling flour all over our countertop as we mixed together a batch of pumpkin bread -- our first of the season. 

AK has been all about wearing my boots or heels lately as she loves the "tap tap" sound they make on the kitchen and bathroom floors. So there she stood on her little stool, stirring pumpkin bread batter, her little feet swimming in my "wedding shoes" as she calls my nude heels. Take note, folks: even when baking fashion must not be forgotten.

Fall brings with it the most delicious smells. Sweet, savory, and spicy all have their place in this season and are each, in their own way, full of comfort. I set the loaves of pumpkin bread to bake while my hubby was out for a run yesterday morning and as soon as he walked in the door after his run he exclaimed, "It's fall!" 

Our afternoon coffee was made a bit better today.

Pumpkin Bread - from my mama

3 1/3 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well*. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 1 hour. Makes 2 large loaves or 7 baby ones (if you so desire to give them as gifs.)  

*I like to mix it up by hand so that I can make sure all those dry ingredients are pulled up and mixed in well. 

 

recipe | shrimp scampi

There are those dishes that you just want to tack on the menu plan every single week. This is one of those; fully hubby and friend approved and will cause you to keep ripping off "just one more" piece of bread so that you can soak up more of the goodness.

It's such a good summer dish; it is fresh and bright and just really happy. Even with the cream it is not overly heavy. So you must make it before the summer officially comes to an end. However, know that in this house, at least, it will make an appearance in all seasons.

Shrimp Scampi with Cherry Tomatoes

3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 pound bucatini, spaghetti or fettucine

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

1 pound cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon paprika (I left this out)

1 teaspoon chile flakes

1 cup white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Directions

Fill a high-sided skillet set over high heat with water. Add 3 tablespoons of the salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, and gently stir using tongs to make sure the pasta doesn't stick to itself. Cook the pasta for 12 to 14 minutes, and then drain.

In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the garlic, shallots, tomatoes and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon salt. Salute until the onions are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the paprika and chile flakes, and salute for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the cream and return to a simmer for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cover with the sauce. Cook, stirring to make sure the shrimp cooks through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chives and parsley, and toss to mix. Serve the shrimp and sauce over the pasta.

Enjoy, my friends!

recipe courtesy of Tia Mowry at Home

recipe | strawberry ice cream

A few summers ago when we were visiting our family in Texas my mom made homemade strawberry ice cream, and I've never seen my husband so excited about ice cream before. Weeks afterward, he would make the comment, "Babe, we have to make that ice cream mom made. We have to!"  I'm the sweets-lover in our home, but he leaves me in the dust when it comes to this ice cream.

We have a family farm we love to go visit about 25 minutes away, across the river, in Indiana. Each season they have different things that you can come pick at their farm, and when June hits, it is strawberry season. At some point in the month of June, we make our way up there to partake, and this June was no different. This time, though, we took the shortcut and just bought the already picked strawberries from their market to take home and turn into this creamy creation. J made it a couple evenings later while I was away at my Titus 2 group, but when I walked in the door at 11:15 he had a spoon ready and waiting for me to try. He was just as excited as usual, and it was just as wonderful.

You have to try this recipe, friends. It's bound to bring an extra dose of happy. 

Strawberry Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed & sliced

4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 3/4 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Make sure that your ice cream bowl is nice and frozen, ready for mixing.

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the berries, reserving juices. Mash or puree half the berries.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and reserved strawberry mixture into frozen ice cream maker bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20-25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved sliced strawberries and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

*My mom just uses 2%. We've done whole milk before, but J used a combo of 1 cup 2% and 1/2 cup half-and-half this time. Anyway you choose it's good.

recipe | italian lemon cake


My darling mother passed on many things to me; her smile, her vocal inflections, the way that she stands like a flamingo while she's cooking, and her love for all things lemon. That tart, refreshing, light wonderfulness that is lemon. It makes us happy. 

So when springtime hits, my eyes start scanning cookbooks and pinterest pins for anything and everything lemon. Throw "italian" in the title and I will undoubtedly have a go at that recipe, pretending that I'm whipping it together in my little Italy apartment to later be enjoyed with a cappuccino. Springtime and lemons are a fabulous combination for dreams.

Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake

2 cups + 1 tablespoon flour

1 3/4 cups icing/powdered sugar

4 eggs

2/3 cup whole cream (heavy cream or whipping cream)

7 tablespoons butter, melted

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 9 1/2 inch bundt cake pan. 

In a large bowl beat on medium speed eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.* Melt butter and let cool completely. Grate the peel of one lemon. 

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then alternating with cream, gently fold into egg mixture with a spatular. Keep folding until mixture is combined then gently fold in lemon peel, vanilla, and melted butter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Let cool, then dust with powdered/icing sugar. 

Original recipe via pinterest

*Give these a decent amount of time to whip together. Don't rush it. Make sure they truly have that "light and fluffy" look to them. 

Enjoy, fellow dreamers.

recipe | blueberry lemon scones

I love a good scone. They are memory-fueling for me. My mom made countless batches of scones as we grew up, both savory and sweet; the sweet ones always being served with a dish of mock devonshire cream, a glorious concoction of powdered sugar and cream cheese, and various jams and jellies. Thus, the memories kick in almost immediately when I begin to make scones, and, with that, a longing to head to TX to share brunch or afternoon tea and scones with my mom, my sisters, and any dear friends who might pop by. 

So, now, I continue the tradition in my home, making new moments with my little girl and planting memories in her mind and heart. The sweetness of that circle will never be lost on me. 

The other, less sentimental, reason I love a good scone is that they really are a blank canvas. You can make plain, blueberry, blueberry lemon, raspberry, orange, orange cranberry, chocolate chip, cheddar, cheddar bacon chive, almond......truly, endless options. You can drizzle with a glaze or slather them with butter or cream or jam; or be really daring and have the glaze with the cream. Scones are one of those things that can claim a spot on your kitchen art palette, with a most delicious result.

Enjoy these memory-filled, dense pillows of goodness, my friends.

Blueberry Lemon Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus 1/4 cup lemon juice

dash of vanilla

1 cup blueberries, washed and dried

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients.

Starting at low speed, beat the butter and dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter breaks into small pieces. Then stir in the milk, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until moistened.

Place the dough on a floured surface and fold in the blueberries, being careful not to break them. Form the dough into a long rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into 2 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally, and then cut those pieces in half again. You should have 8 triangles total.

Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 17 to 21 minutes. Let cool.

Recipe from Tiffani Thiessen

*On her show, Dinner At Tiffani's, Tiffani Thiessen makes these scones and serves them with homemade honey butter and blackberry jam. I wasn't able to try the jam recipe this time around, but the honey butter was a perfect little addition. And make sure you're using a good quality honey.

recipe | chicken marsala & mashed potatoes

Earlier last week we had the sis and her man over for dinner -- we like to feed them home-cooked things as often as possible as they are in that stage of life that is gloriously marked by college cafeteria food. Also, because we love them. I opted for a good comfort food meal and these mashed potatoes were on the menu. I got them all mashed up and dipped my spoon in them to check the salt and pepper balance. After taking said bite I quietly concluded, with my eyes closed and my arms thrown into the air, that I will never make another type of comfort-style mashed potatoes again. They are just that good. Look at the ingredients list and you'll understand why. 

This meal will not be making any diet list, but on the weekends we splurge, and this was our splurge. Any sauce involving mushrooms, wine, and cream is a win in the Coobs household and when it covered potatoes that are filled with butter, cream, and cream cheese, the combination is utter decadence. I believe that this is the very type of meal that Julia Child would cook up and then proceed to exclaim joyfully over throughout the whole of dinnertime, as she soaked up every last bit of the sauce with her baguette.

In her honor, Bon Appétit!

Chicken Marsala

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

12 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered

1 cup Marsala wine

1 cup beef broth

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream

mashed potatoes or cooked noodles, for serving

chopped parsley, for serving

Directions

Hold one hand on top of one piece of chicken, then use a sharp knife to carefully slice it in half horizontally. Pull the two pieces apart. Repeat with the other chicken breast, to give you four thinner chicken cutlets total. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, then pour the flour in a dish and dredge the chicken pieces in flour. Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken cutlets and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, until browned. Then turn them over and cook them on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. They should be well browned and cooked through. Remove them to a plate and set them aside. 

In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and stir them around, cooking them until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the Marsala and beef broth, stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the liquid reduces by half. Whisk the cornstarch into the cream in a small bowl. When the sauce is dark and rich, pour in the cream mixture and let it bubble up and thicken for another minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. To serve, place a piece of chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes or noodles. Then spoon on some of the sauce and sprinkle on the parsley. 

*Trader Joe's sells thinly sliced chicken breasts so that's the perfect shortcut for this dish. 

Stovetop Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or unpeeled and scrubbed clean

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/4 cup heavy cream, more to taste

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4 ounces cream cheese

Directions

Cut the potatoes into wedges. In a pot or large saucepan, boil them in water over medium-high heat until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Pour them into a colander to drain them, to set aside. Return the same pot to the stovetop over medium heat and add the milk, butter, cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to heat the milk mixture and melt the butter, then add the cream cheese and stir as it melts. When the mixture is melted and creamy, throw in the potatoes and turn off the heat and use a potato masher to mash them until they're totally smooth. Put the lid on the pan and keep warm, splashing in a couple tablespoons of cream if you need to reheat them. 

original recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime

recipe || buttercream frosting

It's almost Valentines Day, sweet friends. Do you all have special Valentines Day traditions or favorite things? Our Valentines Day celebrations have morphed over the years and these days our choice of celebration is simple and all together; handwritten notes and Little-original cards, sweet treats and chocolate milk, and, occasionally, a gift will sneak in there. Truly, our favorite thing is a day all together at home with time to read and play games, sip our coffee and indulge in pink and red frosted treats. 

This buttercream frosting has been a staple in our home since AK's 1st birthday. It topped the pale pink and light green cupcakes at her party that year and has been used for many a special occasion in our house. J isn't a big frosting guy but this recipe makes him glance over at me with that "Babe, this is so good" look in his eyes. What's that saying about a good thing that doesn't need to be changed?

IMG_2068.JPG

Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature

2-3 cups confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

*I usually double the recipe: so start with 2 sticks of butter and then add in 2 full cups of powdered sugar at first and all the vanilla and cream. My ratio usually turns out to be a bit more cream to sugar because I like it a bit more light and fluffy and tasting of cream.

original recipe via Pinterest

recipe || candy cane rolls


These bits of yummy have been a Christmas morning tradition in my family since forever. I wasn't a huge fan of them when I was a kiddo -- the texture of the filling threw me -- but I can't imagine Christmas morning without them now. I just can't get enough of the tart and sweet cranberry type goodness this holiday season! They are the perfect compliment to a savory egg dish and a hot cup of coffee as your snuggled in pjs Christmas morning. This was my first time making a batch of candy cane rolls by myself and now, having completed them, I have made two observations:

1) My mom, gramma and mother-in-law are amazing. these babies are a bit time-consuming, particularly with extra little helping hands ;) (which I love), and to produce enough to feed all the mouths they have over the years....my goodness. My appreciation for all those precious ladies have done to fill tummies over the years knows no bounds. 

2) You can't have too high expectations. As you can see, the candy-cane shape is a loose concept in a few of what I produced. I guarantee they taste good, though. 

I love how a simple thing like a candy cane roll can be a source of memory making and tradition. They've been a part of my family for all these years and since J and I have been married they've made their way into our home and the home of our Coobs side of the family. To have been in the kitchen making these with my gramma and my mom, to introduce them to my mother-in-love, and to now be making them with my own daughter? That's just a whole beautiful lot of wonderful.

I hope you lovelies enjoy them!!

Candy Cane Rolls

1 cup milk

4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

1 cup butter

1 package yeast

1/4 cup warm water 

2 eggs

Filling

1 1/2 cups finely chopped cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Directions

Scald milk and then cool to lukewarm

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, salt and grated lemon peel. Cut in the butter until coarse. 

Dissolve yeast in warm water and then add yeast, milk and 2 beaten eggs to flour mixture. Combine lightly. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 hours to 2 days. 

Filling: Put all ingredients into saucepan and cook on medium heat to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes and then cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Divide dough in half and roll one half into to an 18 by 15 inch rectangle on floured board. Spread 1/4 of cranberry filling onto center 1/3 of dough. Fold over the right 1/3 and spread another 1/4 of the filling on it. Fold over left 1/3. Cut the dough into narrow strips, about 15. Twist each strip and form into candy cane shape. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes. Cool and then frost with a powdered sugar frosting. 

Note: these can easily be made and frozen, which is so helpful! Just make sure that you take them out to thaw on Christmas Eve and then they will be ready for you to partake of that beautiful Christmas morn. 

 

recipe || cranberry buttermilk breakfast cake


cranberries during the holiday season have become a must have for me. cranberry sauce at thanksgiving -- "it's like a tradition. you get a little piece of turkey on your fork, a little cranberry sauce, and a TOT!" #namethatshow -- sugared cranberries topping desserts and cranberry filled baking, particularly throughout the christmastime season.

I made this breakfast cake for dinner the other night with a frittata (which recipe I will be sharing soon) and it was just wonderful. plus, it was the coziest thing with a cup of coffee the next morning. the tart of the cranberries is just so good in a fluffy buttermilk cake! and it has the ever essential orange zest in it -- cranberries perfect companion. enjoy, my friends

Cranberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

the zest from 1 orange 

1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter with orange zest and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. 

Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, then check for doneness by touching the top gently or by inserting a toothpick. If necessary, return pan to oven, check every five minutes or so. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

original recipe via pinterest

recipe || indoor s'mores


we made indoor s'mores the other night. AK's face perfectly expresses the sentiments we all feel when it comes to s'mores. s'mores are one of those things that I will eat until I make myself completely sick. I cannot get enough of that chocolate, toasted marshmallow, graham cracker combination. and now having a way to bring the magic inside? I might have to be cut off. 

sitting around our table, pj-clad, chocolate-y marshmallow goodness stuck to our chins, just being together was a pretty wonderful way to spend a monday night.

Indoor S'mores

1 cup chocolate chips

8 large marshmallows

graham crackers for dipping

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, add the chocolate chips. Snip the large marshmallows in half and top the chocolate chips with them. (You could also use a scoop of mini marshmallows alternatively.)

Once the oven is up to temperature, add the skillet to the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the marshmallows turn golden brown.

See with graham crackers for scooping.

*original recipe via Pinterest

*I used my 10 inch cast iron skillet pan. In the recipe she shares that she used her 6 inch. So I dumped a whole bag of chocolate chips in and used about 21 whole marshmallows. 

Enjoy! It's one magical dessert, my friends. You will not be sorry.

 

recipe || chocolate cake roll


I needed to make a gluten-free dessert for our small group this past week and came across several on the Smitten Kitchen Blog (love it) and the one that jumped out to my chocolate adoring heart was this Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll. I wasn't able to go to our small group that night but J came home with an almost empty platter and extremely encouraging remarks from our friends, which a few text messages later verified. Hooray! 

And I was glad to have a little bit left to enjoy myself with a cup of coffee. 

For the Cake Layer

6 ounces semisweet bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons water or strong coffee

6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or oil a 10-by-15-inch shallow baking or jellyroll pan. Line the bottom lengthwise with a piece of waxed or parchment paper that extends up the short sides one inch.

Melt chocolate with water or coffee in a small saucepan over very low heat until it is 75 percent melted. Remove from heat and stir until the remaining chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to beat until yolks are pale and ribbony. Gently stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until they hold stiff peaks. Stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into the chocolate-yolk mixtures to lighten it. Fold the remaining whites into the cake batter in three additions. Pour batter into prepared and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cake layer feels dry (but very soft) to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will still seem a little underbaked.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cover the top with a light damp towel or two layers of damp paper towels for 10 minutes. Gently remove towels; don't fuss if they have a bit of cake stuck to them. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Sift one tablespoon cocoa over the tops of the cake and cover the cake with a thin tea or flour sack towel that is a little longer than the pan. Place the back of a baking sheet or a large flat tray over the towel and invert the cake and paper onto it. Gently peel back the parchment or waxed paper that lined the pan. Sift the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder over the top of the cake (that was, one minute ago, the underside). Using the towel underneath to help lift and roll the cake, roll the cake from short end to short end with the towel inside. Let cool completely, encased in its towel.

For the Filling

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (use more if you prefer a sweeter filling)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 to 2 tablespoons liqueur of your choice, such as Grand Marnier

Directions

Once cool, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Get your serving plate ready and place it near your cake roll. Gently unroll chocolate cake and remove tea towel. (Be careful as your towel will be covered in cocoa powder.) Spread whipped cream filling evenly over cake. Gently use waxed or parchment paper once again to reroll cake (I just used my hands). Place on serving platter, seam side down.

Serve immediately in 1-inch thick slices or refrigerate until needed.

Recipe via Smitten Kitchen.

I love her site. You must, must check it out! Also, she has pictures with this recipe which were very helpful for my visual learner brain. My roll did not turn out nearly as beautifully as hers, but her story with it made me feel better, and it still tasted excellent. Enjoy!

recipe || salted caramel & chocolate pecan pie bars


Though my Instagram account might suggest otherwise I really do make things other than sweets in our home. The crisp, chilly fall days just call for baking and every recipe I have tried of late has been received with cheers and hugs and dancing around and when that happens the recipe must be shared.

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

pinch salt, optional and to taste

Filling

8 ounces roasted salted pecans, halves or pieces okay; about 2 cups*

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips**

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup whipping cream or heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Crust - In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or your hands, cut butter into dry ingredients until evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form. The softer the butter is, the quick and easier it is. 

Turn mixture out into prepared pan and pack down firmly with a spatula or hands to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer.

Filling - Evenly sprinkle the pecans over the crust. Evenly sprinkle with the chocolate chips; set pan aside. 

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, whipping cream, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt. Remove bowl from microwave, and whisk until mixture is smooth; it's okay if butter hans't completely melted. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power. Remove bowl from microwave, and whisk until mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Slowly and evenly pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans. 

Place pan on a cookie sheet (as insurance against overflow) and bake for about 30 to 32 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling vigorously around edges, with bubbling to a lesser degree in center. Allow bars to cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 3 hours, or overnight (cover with a piece of foil and/or put pan inside large Ziplock), before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 minutes.

original recipe via pinterest

*I used the same pecans she suggested there -- from Trader Joes. 

**semisweet chocolate chunks are good, too. ;)

Enjoy, my friends!

recipe || pumpkin molasses whoopie pies


Our fall weather is taking its sweet time kicking into its full extent, but I've been answering the mid-80 temps with lighting fall candles, pulling on sweaters, and filling mixing bowls with spices, sugar, and pumpkin puree. I anticipate the coming of fall each year like a little kids awaits Christmas morning, so no matter the temperatures I will dig into its goodness in full force. 

Pumpkin Molasses Sandwich Cookies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon homemade pumpkin pie spice

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup molasses

2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 large egg

1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Filling

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, mix the last of the dry ingredients by hand to avoid over beating. You will have a very soft dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough is sticky, so the longer times it can chill the easier it is to work with. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 24 pieces (or use a small cookie scoop), and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the balls in the sugar, then place dough balls on prepared cookie sheets and use the bottom of a glass to ever-so-gently press down on the cookies. Do not over crowd. Bake the cookies one sheet a time for 7-9 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch. Remove baking sheets from the oven. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack. Repeat with second batch of dough. 

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and mix for about one minutes. Add in vanilla and continue mixing on low speed until vanilla is fully incorporated. To assemble the cookies, pipe or spread the filling on the bottom of one cookie. Top with another cookie and press together gently to create a sandwich cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

*original recipe via pinterest