Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lemon Bars

Remember lemon heads?

First they are sweet and then.. BAM! sour... face puckering... and then done.

That is kinda how these are to me.

First bite you are like.. mmm.. and then ... Sour... and then sweet again.

Seriously, that's the only way to describe these.

The most important thing to know is that they are yummy.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
 First, make the crust.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.
Cut butter into chunks and add to flour mixture.  

Blend in with an electric mixer at low speed until mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs.

Pour into pan and press mixture down
(with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.

While crust is baking, make filling. Whisk together all filling ingredients in a large bowl.
When the crust comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour in filling mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set and does not jiggle when the pan is gently shaken.
Cool completely before slicing.
Top slices with confectioners’ sugar to serve.

Now, something to keep in mind.
Fresh out of the oven, they are warm and delicious, however very tart.

Put them in the fridge overnight and in the morning, they are perfection.


Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Ok, I'm going to admit something to you.

Try to keep it between you, me and blog-land. I use a cake mix sometimes! Shhh!! Don't gasp so loud.

I was really going to try a new white cake recipe, but I was running out of time and I saw that Duncan Hines box staring at me in the pantry. Before I knew I was whipping up my favorite box mix concoction. 

Judge me if you must, but you secretly love the taste of white box mix cake too.

To make myself feel better I made some vanilla bean frosting that was sooo delicious with this cake.

This was a for a special graduate I know. She is a very talented writer so I thought I would go with a very famous author for inspiration..... Dr. Suess.

I was thinking how every time I read something she has written, I either laugh, cry or am just plain proud of her. This saying seemed appropriate, "Oh, the places you'll go." Not just in her life, but where she takes you in her writing. Perfect for any graduate really. 

Congratulations to all the 2012 graduates!!! Oh, the Places you'll go!

My words of wisdom for you... there's always room for cake!

Easy and DeliciousVanilla Cake

1 Box White Cake Mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
(you can use no cream and use 1 cup of whole milk instead)
8 Tbls (1stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line three 8 inch pans (or whatever size you want to use) with parchment paper.

Place the cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well bended. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. 

Bake the cakes until they are light brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.
Allow to completey cool.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
1 vanilla bean 
1-2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbls heavy whipping cream
6 cups powdered sugar

Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean into the butter and shortening and cream until light and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.
Add half the powdered sugar and continue beating.
Add the vanilla and 1 Tbls of cream, continue beating.
Add the remainder of the powdered sugar and beat adding cream until you reach your desired consistancy.
Beat for about 5 minutes for optimum fluffiness.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chocolate Cake and Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

My son had his 3rd Birthday over the weekend and all he wanted for his party was to play basketball.

The theme for his party was a, of course.
I had tried a ball cake in the past and was not very successful, so to be honest, I just didn't want that kind of drama in my life right now.

He was sitting on my lap when I was looking for basketball cakes, when we came across I similar one like the one I made. He said, "That one", and there you have it. The decision was made.
I was happy too, it looked yummy and easy to put together. 

Since I was using Reese's pieces I decided to go with the Peanut butter-chocolate combo, always a winner.

I know the cake is not that hard, but here are a few tips. 

Try to resist putting the Reese's pieces on the night before.
The peanut butter oils start messing around with the Reese's overnight and caused them to make a little oil around the bottom.
Totally learned this the hard way.

Here are a few pictures of the process....

First make the basketball outline.

I also measured the distance on each side to try to get them as even as possible. This was for my husband's benefit. He likes things to be even.

Then just start filling in with orange. 
I know what you are thinking, what happened to all the yellow pieces.
Just go ahead and snack on those while you are making the cake.

Totally acceptable.

I did use a few of the yellow to attempt a 3 on the sides.


My cute lil' red head had a great birthday filled with friends and basketball!

Just FYI, that peanut butter frosting was a perfect balance of peanut butter and sweetness.
In case you are wondering if it is too peanut buttery, my husband, who is not a huge fan of peanut butter desserts,  he really enjoyed this frosting.

Chocolate Cake
adapted from the Hershey's recipe

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. 
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
Stir in hot coffee (batter will be thin). 
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
1-3/4c. creamy peanut butter
 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
 3 c. powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
Slowly beat in 1/2 of the confectioner's sugar.
Slowly start mixing a little of the cream to smooth the consistancy.
Beat in the remaining confectioners' sugar. Add the vanilla. 
If necessary, add a little more cream until the frosting reaches a good spreading consistency. Makes enough to frost one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9x13 inch cake.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Java Chip Cupcakes

Do you ever just NEED a cup of coffee.

There is a Starbucks in the Target where I shop. I can smell the coffee before I even walk through the doors.
The smell is like a magnet drawing me to their counter, before I know it I have ordered a Grande cup of goodness. 

It always makes my shopping with three boys a little less stressful.
Ah caffeine... gotta love it.

On a warmer day, one of my favorites is the Java Chip Frappaccino. 
I thought, why not make it into a cupcake! 
I know... yummy... you can thank me later.

To make it even easier it uses a box mix.

 1 Box Mix Golden Butter Recipe (I use Duncan Hines)
1/3 cup softened butter
3 eggs
 3 Tbsp. plain nonfat Greek yogurt + enough instant coffee to make 1 cup   

 Heat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans.

Make sure you have all the ingredients.

Let's start with the yogurt -coffee concoction.

 Put 3 Tbls of yogurt in a measuring cup and then fill up the rest with instant coffee to make 1 cup.

Put this mix in a large mixing bowl with the butter and box mix and start blending on low with an electric mixer. Add eggs and mix until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  
Pour batter in cupcake liners  
Bake for 15-20 minutes or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.

For the Frosting:
1 Cup unsalted butter
1 Cup shortening
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant coffee (or you could use Kalhua)
3 Tbls heavy whipping cream (about that much, you may need more)
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I use Ghirardelli semi-sweet)

Cream butter and shortening together.
Slowly add about 4 cups of powdered sugar. Cream for a minute to combine."
Add the vanilla and coffee. Cream to combine.
Add about a Tbls of whipping cream. Start adding a few more cups of powdered sugar. I prefer to use about 6-7 cups. Just keep taste testing until it reaches your level of sweetness. Yes, everyone's is different. 
Continue adding Tbls of cream until it reaches the consistancy you like.
Add chocolate chips and beat for about 5 minutes until nice and fluffy.

This cupcake seriously tastes like you are biting into a cup of coffee. So if you love coffee as much as I do, you must make this!

I also made a 6" round cake for my friend's birthday using this recipe.
Here is how the cake turned out.

So if you need a cup of coffee in the form of a cupcake, this recipe is for you!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Graduation Cakes

A great big Congratulations to all those graduating this year!

Whether it's kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, graduation is exciting!

My son starts kindergarten next year, which means I have all these milestones to look forward to. 

I love making graduation cakes. I have not shared them with you, so here are the ones I have made. Maybe you need an idea or just like looking at cake. 


This one was a gift to one of my favorite college grads!

High school graduation! I loved the little grad hats on top.

This one of was for a girl who loved basketball.... 
just kidding... volleyball, of course.

High school graduation for my brother in law and his tennis partner. My first attempt at the hats so they are a little wonky.

High school graduation for our church youth group.

High school graduation cake.
This picture doesn't really show the details, but it was green and white diamonds with all the graduates names on them.

That's all for today.
I would love to see your graduation creations!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Friday, May 4, 2012

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

These are my Dad's favorite cookies, so when my parents came to visit I knew I had to make them.

I have not been able to post this week because we have had some fun filled days. My boys, well, and myself got so spoiled. I love when my parents come to visit! 
Not just because we all get spoiled, but I love watching them play with my boys. I thought my dad was going to get stuck under the table playing hide and seek with them. 
My son also taught my dad how to play Angry Birds. A 5 year old boy teaching his Grandpa how to play a game... priceless.
They had Grandma wrapped around their fingers from the moment we picked them up at the airport. Any time they mentioned they liked something she wanted to run out and get it for them. 

I wish we lived closer, but living further away makes us appreciate them so much more and really enjoy the time we have with them.

Sigh... let's talk cookie...

This really was a delicious cookie and it baked up so yummy.
I'm usually not a fan, but I couldn't stop eating them.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
from the back of the Ghirardelli White Chip package

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour shopping list
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups or one 11oz bag white chocolate whips
1 1/2 cups chopped macadamia nuts


Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, blend into wet mixture.
Stir in white chips and nuts
Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets (I line with parchment paper)
bake for 10-12 minutes

These are definitely worth making, so yummy!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,