Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I had some blueberries left over from Christmas breakfast that I didn't want to go to waste so I decided to make a pound cake. I had also made some caramel sauce so I drizzled that over it, Yummy.
Although I think anything drizzled with caramel is yummy.

You will need:

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (but I used white)
1/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
 In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, cream cheese, oil, butter and vanilla. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed.

Batter will be thick

Stir in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Yes, I used a cake mix, but sometimes I just need to cut a corner. It still tasted fantastic.
I also made a powdered sugar glaze to pour over it, but I gave it away before I got a picture.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, December 26, 2011

Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce

Apple Pie... my nemesis. I really avoid making this all American dessert. I am just as patriotic as the next person, but I really just don't care for it.... ssshhhh... it will be our secret.
Now my husband on the other hand, loves this pie. He requests it often that it has become a joke in our house.
This year for Christmas, however, I showed him!
Yes folks,

I searched all over the internet and Pinterest to find a recipe worthy of my Christmas present.
I found an intriguing recipe over at The intriguing part was that she too is not fond of this pie. I thought if she liked it, maybe I could handle it.

I must confess, I did not make my own crust. But I promise I will....eventually.
She does make her own crust and it looks yummy so go over and check her pie out.
Her pie is so pretty, you can find it and her recipe here.

I did make a few changes, but this is what you will need:

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of one lemon
1 egg (for egg wash)
A palmful of white sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, toss the cubed apples with the juice of the lemon and set aside

Let me tell you, this step did not help me like making apple pie.

In a large skillet melt the butter and brown sugar together over low heat, it will look a little granular and oily, I know that sounds weird, but go with it. Add the apples and turn to coat.  Increase the heat to high and cook, turning occasionally, until most of the wedges are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

Immediately scoop the apples and their juices onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the flour and cinnamon over the apples and toss them until the flour disappears.
Allow the apple to cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the pie crusts that you made or bought and line a  pie plate with the first crust. Scrape the apples and all the sticky juices into the crust and top with the second piece of dough. Crimp the edges together and cut a few small slits into the top to allow steam to escape.

 In a small bowl, scramble the egg with a few teaspoons of water or milk and brush over the entire top crust. Sprinkle with lots of granulated sugar. I actually had some coarse sugar and it made the pie look so sparkly and pretty, however, I might have overdone it with the egg wash. Note for next time.

Bake for 25 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Allow to cool for about two hours before serving, it will still be warm.

Now this pie was good just like this, served warm with a bit of vanilla ice cream. My husband loved it and savored every bite. Me,well, I have not been converted to "love" and apple pie, but I did manage to eat a slice or two. Then! I thought, this recipe was called a "Caramel Apple Pie", that is why I made this particular recipe. I did not taste enough caramel. soooo... I went to my trusty caramel sauce recipe, made a batch and......

That is more like it. Apple Pie, swimming in Caramel, topped with vanilla ice cream.
That, my friends, is something I will gladly stick a fork into!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookie Exchange Recipes

Ah cookies.... I love cookies. 
When you get a chance to go to a party where cookies will be given... go! My only fault in having this party was not inviting more people. I could have had more cookies! There's always next year. This one was just for a few mom friends, but next year I think it needs to be expanded a bit.
We had a great time taste testing each other cookies and sipping cider and coffee.

I thought I would share the yummy recipes. 

We will start with mine. 
I went to cookiesandcups for mine.
She posted a great tutorial so please, if you decide to make these, check her out.

Salty Caramel Oat Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cups finely crushed pretzels
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups rolled oats
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
caramel sauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped cashews
1 tsp coarse sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350°
Line a 15x10x4 inch pan with foil

With your electric mixer beat butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla until incorporated.
On low speed add in your pretzels and flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix in your oats.
Set aside 1 cup of your batter.Press remaining batter into prepared pan.

In medium saucepan combine your caramels and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.
Pour caramel on oat batter. Sprinkle the cashews, chocolate chips and remaining oat batter on top.
Sprinkle your coarse sea salt evenly over top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until top starts to golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
When cool lift bars from pan with foil and cut.


Next up is Heather's recipe. She was gracious enough to host the exchange.



1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Coarse sugar


Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Separate or cut dough into 4 (4x7-inch) rectangles; if using crescent roll dough, firmly press perforations to seal.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar on cutting board. Place 2 dough rectangles on sugar; press lightly. Brush both tops of dough with about 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Place one rectangle on top of another; tightly roll both short sides of the dough rectangle so they meet in the middle.

Repeat step 2.

Using a serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 slices. Place cut side down, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Press each slightly to flatten.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

Instead of (or in addition to) the granulated sugar, try these variations: cinnamon and sugar or citrus zest and sugar.
Palmiers keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. If desired, palmiers can be recrisped in a 300°F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.


Next is Jessica's cookie which she found in Parenting Magazine. Very inventive.

Pomegranate Drops

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (3/4 cup) dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, patted dry

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla; beat on low until well combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat until just combined. Fold in chocolate until evenly distributed, then very gently fold in seeds.
3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until light brown (centers may not appear set). Remove and let cookies stand 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Cool a bit on wire racks. Serve cookies warm. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to three days.


Then there is our friend Veronica. Her and her family are missionaries to Liberia. She said that she is able to make these cookies there from fresh pumpkin. The pumpkins are a different color, but still taste the same. They were yummy.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 1 tablespoon melted butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and
1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by
tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency. 


Last but not least, there is Heather's mother in law and my dear friend, Gayle. Her recipe is so simple, but was my favorite. Going to definitely be making these as snacks for my kids.

White Chocolate Ritz Crackers

40 Ritz crackers
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
8 ounces white chocolate

Take Ritz Crackers and make sandwich cookies out of them using peanut butter for the filling.

Melt the white chocolate according to package directions.

Dip each cookie in the melted chocolate, covering it entirely.

Place on wax paper.

Store in air-tight container for up to one week.


There were also some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I did not receive that recipe.

Heather read an awesome poem about 1 Corinthians and how we need to remember to love our family and children during this time of year. Sometimes we get so caught up with Christmas that we forget it's true and wonderful meaning. I praise the Lord for my friends. I thank the Lord for my family and the love I have!

I hope you enjoy a few of these recipes, I know I did, maybe more than I should!

Merry Christmas!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Son's 5th Birthday and Cars Cake

When I asked my son what kind of birthday party he wanted I already had an idea in my mind that I was going to sell to him. He had other plans though. He was very convincing. He wanted a Cars party. I tried and tried to convince him otherwise, I've already done a Cars party after all, for his 3rd birthday. But alas, he won, it is his birthday after all. I will have to save my other fabulous ideas for my other two sons. Hopefully they will amuse mommy a little more.  As for the 5 year old, he knows what he wants and how to talk mommy into it. I was going through some pictures of cakes and he loved the idea of having a track on the cake.
Thus, my Cars cake was born!
It was a little more challenging then I had hoped getting that track around the cake. After seeing his face light up with excitement, I knew it was all worth the effort.
I will share some of the details of the party with you, just in case you want to throw one of your own. Feel free to steal use any of my ideas, because, well, I might have taken a few ideas from Pinterest myself.

I was able to set some things up the night before to surprise him in the morning.

My indoor "car wash" of sorts. This was fun while it lasted, but after 10 little boys running through it, well, let's just say my son may have had the bright idea to swing from one. Yeah, that didn't work too well and down most of it came seeing as they were held in by push pins in the ceiling. Sigh... boys.

I used some outdoor tables for the boys. This worked really well and we just served them their food, less hassle that way. I'm all about the easy way. They loved having their own tables too.

Let's take a closer look at the party table. The only thing missing is the chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. I also made chicken chili for the adults. Don't worry, it was a chilly day so warm food was welcomed.

I had grand hopes of making alot of these cookies, but let's face it, I have to stop somewhere. I opted to just make some for the boys. They enjoyed having their name on them. They are chocolate sugar cookies that I love from LilaLoa, that I covered with red fondant and piped their names on with royal icing.

I also had some chocolate covered pretzels, just because. 

And of course... cake!  
For little snacks, I had rainbow fish crackers and Cars graham bites.

I also found this game at the party store. Pin the car on the.. uh... car. Genius.... I know.
I am directing traffic and look very bossy, but they had to stay on track.

I found this game at a party store too. You fill it with candy and have the kids pull out these tabs until the candy fall out the bottom. 

Time to sing Happy Birthday! He was having such a great time! Makes my heart happy.

Then I had an insane thought... let them play with the cake before I cut it. Let's just say, I'm glad it was covered in fondant, because you can peel it off before you eat it. I rescued the cake before it was completely covered in boy germs.

My sweet boy had a fabulous day and I left with a smidge of my sanity. 
All in all... a great day!
Happy Birthday!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Swedish Coffee Bread

Has your husband ever pulled the "my mom used to make" line on you. Always encouraging right? Well, usually, my husband is rewarded with a scowl when he says this, but not this time. I really enjoy making this bread. Granted, his mom stills makes it better than me, but I think that is because she grounds whole cardamoms and I used the already ground ones. That's my story and I'm stickin to it!
Meanwhile, I would like to share his family tradition with you.

You will need:

2 cups milk (heated hot)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar + 1 Tbls
1 teaspoon salt
2 yeast packs or 2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 cup water
25 cardamom pods, crushed (I use ground cardamom)
2 eggs, beaten
8-10 cups flour

Heat milk, than add 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter cardamom and salt. Take off heat to cool. If I need it to cool quickly I put it in the fridge for a while. Just don't add the eggs while it's hot, for obvious reasons. I, of course, learned the hard way... hot liquid cooks eggs... who knew

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and add 1 Tablespoon of sugar. You should start to see it bubble. Make sure the water is just warm, not cold, not hot. Trust me.

Put the cooled milk mixture in your standing mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the eggs and yeast mix. Gradually add 5 cups of flour.

*Imporant Step* After the 5 cups of flour is combined, let the dough sit for 15 minutes. That's right, set the timer and walk away. Drink a cup of coffee, eat a cookie... just walk away.

After you have let it sit, add 2 more cups of flour and mix.

You are going to knead in the rest of the flour so grab your mixer and a floured surface.

Put the dough on the board and start kneading in the remainder flour another cup or two.
Oh yeah, and you might want to take off you rings. As you see, I forgot to, I was picking dough out of that thing for days.

Once you have kneaded the dough to your liking,it should be elastic and smooth, place in a greased glass bowl and cover with a damp towel. Again, walk away and let it rise. Watched dough never rises...
so I've heard.

The dough should double in size. When it does, pound it down with your fist.

Then put back on floured surface and roll form into a loaf shape.

Cut into six somewhat even pieces.

Roll those six pieces into balls adding and taking until they are as even as you need them to be.

Take one ball of dough and roll it out.

Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut into three slices not cutting through the top, as shown above.

For those of you who never learned how to braid, here you go. Fold the right end over the middle.

Then fold the left end over that one.

Then the middle section over that left end.

Continue this until you can go no more and pinch the ends shut.

Place the dough on cookie sheets and cover with towel to rise some more. Umm... yeah... walk away again.
This is an all day process... I know.

After it has sufficiently risen, place in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.
They should be a nice golden brown.

Now is the time to melt that 1/4 cup of leftover butter. 
While the loaves are still hot, brush the butter over the bread.

Sprinkle with a bit of sugar. or alot. whatever your heart desires.

Let cool on wire racks. Well at least cool enough so that you won't burn your tongue.

It is Swedish "Coffee" bread after all, so brew some up and enjoy!

On a side note: I have substituted cinnamon for the cardamom and received rave reviews. 

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,