Category Archives: dessert

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Recipe Yields: 24 standard size cupcakes (using a Size 16 Scoop)

I never thought I would say GO Lakeview Bulldogs! No way not from growing up a Golden Flash! Go Champion Flashes!!  However, my cousin’s daughter, Meg,  graduated from Lakeview High School this year. I was asked to make cupcakes for her open house this weekend.

Luckily I moved back to the Pittsburgh area . I am am only 81 miles from home instead of 500 plus. I was able to prepare the cupcakes in my new quant 1920 home. I love baking and making cupcakes, even though I just moved back and still have boxes everywhere… How could I say no! I laughed initially because I honestly don’t think I have ever made vanilla cupcakes.

These are super fun and easy to make and don’t skimp out on not using a vanilla bean to add the little black flecks of tasty vanilla with each bite.

Of course when I made the cupcakes for the event I Quadrupled the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup of sugar

1 vanilla bean, vanilla seeds scrapped

12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter,  (1 1/2 sticks of butter (room temperature))

4 large eggs, (room temperature)

3/4 teaspoon salt, kosher

3 cups of all purpose floor

11/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 1/4 cup of buttermilk,(room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Buttercream Frosting I used this one and had to make 2.5 recipes of the batter! It really does pipe beautifully

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line with paper liners 24 light in color muffin tins. Set aside.

2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla bean seeds, and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, mix after each addition.

3. In a medium bowl sift together the baking powder, salt, and flour. Set aside.

4. Start incorporate on a low speed some of the flour mixture, alternate and gradually add some of the buttermilk in three parts, swapping between buttermilk and flour until all the mixture is incorporated. Be cautious not to over mix.

5. Portion out the batter using a size 16 scoop into prelined muffin tins. Bake for 8 minutes and rotate in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes. All the cupcakes to cool in tin for 5 minutes and remove from tin and allow to cool on wire rack for the remainder of the time frame. Prior to frosting.

6. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frosting using buttercream recipe link. Or your favorite go to frosting.

Enjoy!

Sea Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Brownies



I recently asked my husband, what dessert he would like for his sweet treat for his lunches? I enjoy packing his work lunches. I always like to include a few proteins, whole grains, veggies, fruit, salty snack, and sweet goodie. 

Also, I love packing lunches for my husband and I because brown bagging is a resourceful way to use leftovers. Packing a lunch daily can really help save money & reduce waste. So many people dine out or order in for meals for lunch breaks. This habit can be easily $10-20 a day downtown in a city; not to mention high in  unnecessary & unwanted calories. 

His response to my question for his sweet treat was brownies. I asked what kind and he mentioned a traditional style (last week I had made Blondies).  I couldn’t bare making Plain Jane Brownies; therefore, I spiced them up a tad. This led me to the mix up of a beautiful marriage salted caramel,peanuts, and chocolate. 

Prework:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Foil line a glass 9 by 13 baking pan and spray generously with canola oil cooking spray

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil

4 oz of extra dark chocolate (63% cacao), plus more for drizzle 1-2 tablespoon melted 

4 Tablespoons of natural peanut butter

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 scant cup of dry roasted unsalted peanuts

1 1/2 cups of pretzels (wheel or mini pretzel shape)

6 ounce jar of sea salt caramel sauce or homemade prepared caramel sauce, plus 1-2 tablespoon for final drizzle

A few pinches of Sea Salt for final sprinkle (optional)

This recipe yields 16 large brownies or 32 mini
Directions:

  1. Take over a double broiler and melt the chocolate, coconut oil, and peanut butter. Once the mixture is melted add in the applesauce, & sugar. Remove the double broiler and add in the eggs one at a time with a whisk and lastly add in the vanilla. Set aside.
  2. In the meantime, whisk together the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder. Add the liquid chocolate mixture to the flour. Mix until combined.
  3. Pour 1/3 of the batter on the bottom of the prepared 9 by 13 pan. Layer the pretzels evenly on top of the batter (it is roughly 47 pretzel wheels), than sprinkle with the peanuts. Drizzle with half of caramel sauce. Place the remaining 2/3 of batter on top of the nut, caramel, pretzel layer. I find using a plastic spatula sprayed with cooking spray makes for easier spreading.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of the brownies clean. Place the brownies on a wire rack to cool. Allow the brownies to completely cool before removing from the pan.
  5. Using the foil sides, lift the brownies from pan and place on parchment paper.
  6. On a diagonal drizzle with caramel and chocolate. Lastly sprinkle with sea salt. Store in a sealable container. Cut to your desired serving size.
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container 

Macadamia Nut Blondies


Today is Macadamia Nut Day. Instead of adding walnuts into your oatmeal or your favorite trail mix try giving the macadamia nut a try. Macadamia nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and plant substances that might lower cholesterol.

My husband and I went to Hawaii this past May and Hawaii is famous for their native Macadamia Nuts. One thing we noticed while we stayed on the various islands of Hawaii, these nuts are added to just about every baked good from cookies to quick breads. Today I thought I’d add them to a blondie bar. 

Prep time: 15 minutes Bake time: 25- 30 mintues



This recipe yields: 24 Blondies 

Essential Tools for the job & pre work:

  • 9 inch baking pan
  • Parchment paper (optional but will make life easier)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line baking dish with parchment paper; enough to get sides to pull the Blondies out to make for easier cutting.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-2/3 cups whole wheat pastry  flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup chopped finely macadamia nuts

Directions:

1. In a stand mixer attacjed bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add applesauce and mix. Beat in eggs one at a time & add vanilla. Set aside.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, spices and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Lastly fold in the macadamia nuts. Spread into a prepared 9 inch square baking pan (I did use a dark pan). The type of pan will effect the cooking time). If your pan is lighter you might need to bake it longer. 

3. Bake in the center rack of oven for 25-30 minutes or until set and golden brown & toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using parchment “handle” pull bars out and place on cutting board & cut into 24 bars. Store in a airtight container, whole wheat products don’t last as long as AP baked goods.



Whole Grain Oat and Raisin Cookies

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I was getting ready for our Topsail Trip this summer and made a batch of these cookies for our road trip down. The journey usually takes 12 hours on average for us. I always look forward to the road trip. My mom always says it is not always the destination but the journey it takes to reach the destination. I love this piece of advice,  and I learn the older I get the more I find truth to the quote.

We make a lot of memories on our drive down and back to Topsail. We put on various xm stations (90 on 9, The Blend, Highway, Y2K Country) and hit the cruise control. We usually get lost along the way but we always find new markets, cars for sale, or antique stores along the way. We laugh about getting lost later.

To fuel our journey,  we pack our car with a lot of snacks so we don’t have to stop as much.  Plus it saves us some money to spend later ….. on another vacation (hehe). My husband always says more than half of what I pack is food. Which is true and I guess because that is the dietitian in me.

I did make one healthy swap on these cookies and it was to incorporate more whole grain by using whole wheat flour. Next time I will try and decrease the saturated fat and sugar content by using unsweetened applesauce.

This recipe yields: 36 rather large cookies (when you use a number 40 cookie scoop)

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 egg

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp (soften)

3 cups Old fashioned Oats

1 1/2 cups of raisins or your favorite dried fruit

Tools for the job: 

2 half sheet cookie sheets: Line with Parchment paper

#40 cookie scoop

Oven : Preheat to 350 degrees.

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl attached to a stand mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the sugar and cream the two together. Add in the eggs one at a time and lastly add in the vanilla.
  3. Gently add in the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix on low until incorporated. Caution not to over mix.
  4. Lastly fold in the oats and raisins.
  5. Use a number 40 cookie scoop to portion out the goodies on the parchment lined pan.
  6. Make sure to keep the cookies about 2 inches apart from one another.
  7. Bake for 11-12 minutes on 350 degrees.
  8. Remove from pan right away and allow to cool on wire rack.

Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Last Tuesday was my husband and I’s 9 year wedding anniversary. Every year as a tradition I make him one of his favorite dinners. The dish is usually chicken parm and fettuccini alfredo, but this year we did things a little differently. We made dinner together, I love cooking and baking with him in the kitchen. I find it gives us the time to talk about the day and plans for the weekend.


One dinner item I wanted to make sure was done before he got home was dessert. We were talking the other day about cookies and he mentioned to me he liked double chocolate chip cookies growing up. I couldn’t believe after 9 years of marriage that he just now mentioned he loves double chocolate chip cookies. Every time I telI him I am in the mood to make cookies his answer is always chocolate chip so I guess that is how these double chocolate cookies never came up in conversation.  He explained to me, he used to love going to the Oringal Cookie place in the mall and he would order these as a treat. From that point on I made it my mission to find the ultimate double chocolate chip cookie recipe. These cookies are rich in chocolate and will definitely satisfy your chocolate craving.

This recipes yields 56 cookies, using a size 60 cookie scoop

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (I love Rob’s Red Mill)

3/4 cup of Dutch Processed, High Quality Cocoa Powder ( I prefer Penzey’s)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp finely grounded espresso

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of brown sugar (not packed)

2 sticks of butter (unsalted), softened to room temp

2 eggs

 

2 tsp high quality vanilla extract

1 bag of Extra Dark Chocolate Chips 63% Cacao 11.5 oz bag ( I used Guittard)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Parchment paper line 2 half sheet baking pans. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl sift the flour, salt, soda, cocoa, and espresso then whisk the dry ingredients together thoroughly.  Set aside
  3. In a stand mixer bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy (approximately 1-2 minutes). On low speed add one egg at a time and then the vanilla. Continue to mix on low until the ingredients are incorporated; however, be careful not to over mix.
  4. While keeping the mixer speed on low, gradually add in the dry sifted ingredients into the wet batter. Once there are no signs of dry residue fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  5. Using a cookie scoop (size # 60) portion out the cookies evenly on the half sheet parchment paper lined pan. I placed 3 cookies a cross and 12 to a pan.
  6. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10 minute, remove the cookies from oven and allow the cookies to rest on the pan for 1 minute than remove to a wire rack for the remainder of the cooling process.

Eastermallow Popcorn Treat

 

  
 

This year my husband and I tried to make most of our Easter goodies from scratch for our family’s Easter baskets.  Let’s just say these Easter bunnies have been busy! 

Ingredients:

14 cups of freshly popped popcorn

Salt to taste 

14 oz marshmallows fluff

1 TB unsalted butter

Directions
:

1. In a very large microwavable safe bowl place marshmallow fluff and butter. 

2. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds & stir. 

3. Slowly add the popcorn and fold the popcorn into the fluff by using a spatula. Caution; the mixture will be very sticky. A helper in the kitchen is ideal for this process. Spread the popcorn onto parchment paper. 

4. Sprinkle with your choice of sprinkles. We used a whole container of large egg sprinkles. 

5. Allow the sticky popcorn to set for two to three hours. Cover with parchment paper. 

6. Place the popcorn mixture into plastic baggies or glass jars. 

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chip Bars

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I love to take recipes and make them healthier. These bars called for butter and regular ap flour. I went ahead and made the switch to whole wheat pastry flour and substituted the butter for some canola oil and pureed pumpkin. I know not everyone likes pumpkin so if not use a really ripe banana or unsweetened applesauce. This will help with the moisture. My husband loves….loves pumpkin and he couldn’t even tell I added it to this baked good.   Also I swapped out the semi sweet chips with dark chocolate chips.

This recipe yields 15 bars

Predirection:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray with cooking spray a 9 by 13 inch glass pan.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs (lightly beaten)

3/4 cup brown sugar or raw sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup pureed pumpkin

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium to large bowl mix flour, salt, soda, and baking powder with large spoon.
  2. Add in canola oil, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Mix all ingredients well and fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread the batter into a prepared glass 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Spread the batter evenly with spatula. The trick to making sure the batter does not stick to the spatula is spraying it with cooking spray. Make sure the batter is evenly spread &  place the pan in the preheated oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 17 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center clean (without any wet residue).
  4. Enjoy!

 

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Vanilla Bean Cake with Vanilla Buttercream 

 

My nephew is turning 4 years old in a few days! Wow I cannot believe it. He is growing so fast! Today we celebrated his birthday family style at my mom and dad’s with a pizza party! 

This year the cake design was a hot ever changing subject which kept me on my toes. At first my nephew wanted a robot cake and than one with motorcycles. 

He also loves batman right in the moment so eventually we made him a batman on a motorcycle cake. 

I searched high and low for the perfect vanilla cake recipe, which was hard to locate. I couldn’t find a vanilla cake note worthy but now have one for keeps. 

Predirections
:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep 2, 9 inch baking pans lined with parchment paper and sprayed with bakers joy.

Yields 16 serving

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups All Purpose flour

1/2 a vanilla bean (seeds)

1 tsp high quality pure Vanilla extract 

3 Large eggs room temperature 

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. 

3. Beat with paddle attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed the butter and sugar until white pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time mixing after each addition and scraping down sides often. 

3. Decrease the speed of mixer and slowly add the dry ingredients and milk alternating between dry ingredients and milk. Beat until just combined. Be careful to not over mix.

4.Divide the batter into 2 prepared 9 inch baking pans. I weighed my and it was about 521 grams for each pan. Make sure to allow the air bubbles to release by slightly picking up the pan and dropping it onto the countertop gently. 

5. Bake both pans at the same time for 17 minutes or until toothpick comes out with little crumbled and no wet residue. 

6. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack for remainder of time. 

**Once the cake has cooled completely I like to wrap it in plastic wrap and place it bake in the cleaned 9 inch pan and place in the deep freezer overnight. This helps when you go to frost the cake so the crumbs don’t go everywhere in the frosting later.**

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

1 # or 4 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature 

8 cups of sifted powdered sugar 

2 TB pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

Blue food coloring gel (optional)

**Sprinkles for center layer is optional

Directions:

1. Cream the butter  in a stand mixer and gradually add sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. 

2. Add heavy cream and food gel coloring. Beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. 

3. Place the pan side down on a cardboard cakeboard. Top with generous amount of buttercream. (I actually saved some white frosting for the center to layer with sprinkles). My nephew loves sprinkles.  Spread the frosting evenly. Top with second layer of the cake. Place the round side ontop of the frosting. Make sure to center and level. Place generous amount of frosting on top and fill in the sides. Remove excess frosting and decorate as you wish. We used a some black fondant for the batman and city. 

Enjoy I know this little guy did! Happy 4th Birthday Max! Aunt Nelli loves you!  

  

Ice Box Key Lime Pie

  

This is a tribute to the 2015 Topsail vacation. We were on vacation last week and everyone wanted Key Lime Pie! We didn’t want to spent $18.00 for a pie so we made key lime martinis instead. 

This weekend was Labor Day weekend and we decided to make the pie from scratch. The bonus is everyone that wanted the pie on vacation was at the party (well almost everyone but my sister)! Sorry Jen we didn’t even save you a slice. 

This recipe is a spin off of Ina Garten’s recipe. I changed a few things around including the crust and I tried the milk with fat free since that was the only kind I had at home. 
When we were on vacation we couldn’t find key limes anywhere! The bottled juice you can find in the stores is subpar. When I planned the menu I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to find key limes but low and behold the strip district had them! Yazzie!

Predirections:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a food processor to pulse waffers into crumbs. 

Ingredients for the Crust:

1 2/3 cup of crushed reduced fat vanilla wafers

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 TB unsalted butter melted 

Filling ingredients:

7 large egg yolks (room temperature) look for pasteurized eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 can (14 oz) fat free sweetened condensed milk

2 TB key lime zest

3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

Crust Directions: 

1. Place in a bowl wafers crumbs, butter, and sugar combine until butter is incorporated throughout. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie dish. Make sure that the crust is an even consistency throughout the entire dish.

2. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Directions for the filling:

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in a electric mixer was fitted attachment for five minutes. I use speed eight and it only took about 4 1/2 minutes. The appearance will be thick and creamy. 

2. Juice speed to medium and Inc. add to the sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, & lime juice.

3. Pour into the cooled prepared pie crust. 

4. Freeze overnight. 

5. Remove from freezer right before slicing into. 

6. Enjoy with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. My go to is on TOH website. The only change I make is I use a whole tsp of pure vanilla extract. 

Whole Grain Raisin Oat Bars

 
 I love baking… I know no surprise!  Today I was reviewing my food network magazine September 2015 edition and came across the 50 bars insert. I must say I adore the inserts of 50 recipes of a specific item!! I couldn’t wait to try one …. Okay so I tried two tonight. I did some mods to the oat bars (#15) and this is what I came up with. 

Pre-directions
preheat oven to 350 in line a glass 9 by 13 baking dish with foil. Set aside.

This recipe yields 18 bars

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of rolled oats (not instant)

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter softened

1/2 a cup of unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup Canola oil

2 eggs

2 cups of raisins

3/4 cup of brown sugar (not packed)

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

Directions:

1. In a stand mixture cream together, butter, applesauce, vanilla, and canola oil with both sugars. 

2. Decrease mixer to low and add in rolled oats, flour, salt, and baking powder. Also add eggs at this time adding one egg at a time. 

3.  Finally add in raisins and mix one last time until all raisins are well incorporated. 

4. Place batter in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven an allow to cool before cutting into bars.