Tag Archives: dessert

S’Mores Cupcakes

With the start of the school year, we are back in full swing with Cub Scouts. I love to blog about Cub Scouts because it is such a big part of our lives and has been an incredible experience for our whole family. The Scouting program is awesome and I love sharing all of the fun and important stuff we do with all of you.

This past weekend, our Pack got together for a lesson on the Scouting principle of Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace means just that. It focuses primarily on camping and outdoor activities but the underlying principle applies to all areas of our lives. Take care of your environment; whether it is the outdoors, your school, your home, your room, the park, the movie theater; you get the idea. Wherever you go, whatever you do, be mindful of the environment and how you have an impact upon it.

And ALWAYS leave a place better than you found it. Which means sometimes we have to pick up after others too.

Rather than just talk about it with our Scouts, we wanted them to experience the lesson first hand. The best lessons are often learned by seeing and doing. So this past Saturday, our boys and their families spent a few hours cleaning up along the banks of the Salt River.

The lower Salt River is a major recreation site in our area and unfortunately, not everyone respects the privilege of enjoying such a beautiful place. A LOT of trash gets left behind. It was important for our Scouts to see first hand how even a little waste has a big impact when the effects of so many visitors is combined.

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They worked hard and cleaned up a lot of trash.

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We are very proud of our “Bear” and his understanding and respect for nature and the need to care for and protect the environment. He is passionate about it. Now, if we could just get that same passion to carry over to his room.

After all of that hard work and a lot of hand sanitizer, it was time for a treat. It was way too hot to roast marshmallows (and open fire isn’t allowed right now) so I decided to improvise and turn Scouting’s signature dish into a cup cake.

S’Mores Cupcakes

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I love to bake from scratch and have some wonderful chocolate cake recipes from my grandmother. But there are times when practicality wins out and you just have to break out the cake mix. I adapted a recipe from the cookbook “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn and came up with a yummy chocolate cupcake, perfect to feed a lot of hungry Cub Scouts. Three batches yielded 60 cupcakes. If you don’t “overfill” as I tend to do, you might just get 24 cup cakes in a batch.

Cup Cake Ingredients

  • 1 package Milk Chocolate cake mix
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 Cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Cup Cake S’More Toppings

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  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Bag of jumbo marshmallows, each marshmallow cut in half
  • Graham cracker pieces or mini graham crackers for garnish
  • Chocolate pieces for garnish

Cup Cake Directions

In pure cake mix fashion, put all of the ingredients together in your stand mixer and blend it all on medium to medium-high for a minute. Scrape down the sides and blend for another minute or until well combined and smooth. Line your muffin/cup cake tin with paper wrappers and fill each 3/4 of the way full.

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Then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs (about a teaspoon each). I made the first batch with the graham cracker crumbs placed in the bottom of the wrapper and the batter poured on top. It didn’t adhere to the cake like I wanted so I opted to sprinkle the crumbs on top.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

I love how they look with the graham cracker crumbs on top.

Next … the fun part.

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Set your oven rack, two spaces down from the broiler and then turn the oven to the broil setting.

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Put your cupcakes on a sheet tray and place a marshmallow half on top of each one. Place the marshmallow topped cupcakes under the broiler for 1 minute and 45 seconds. That is the exact amount of time my oven took to perfectly toast the marshmallows. The time needed in your oven may be different so keep an eye on them.

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Finish the cup cakes off in true S’Mores fashion with wedges of graham cracker and chocolate. The crackers can go on right away but let the marshmallow cool a bit before you add the chocolate or you’ll have a melty mess.

The boys and families of our Pack spent and afternoon doing our part to clean up a bit and leave things better than we found them. But our day wasn’t all hard work. Yes, there were yummy cup cakes but did I mention there was a also helicopter?

No? Ohhhh, there was a helicopter!

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Our Wolf Den Leader is a Sheriff’s Deputy and he arranged quite the surprise for our boys. For all of us, actually. When he told me he was setting up something cool, I was just thinking a few sirens and lights. Nope. There was a helicopter.

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Of course the boys LOVED it. And they deserved it. Hard work always has its reward!

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I know one little boy in particular who was in heaven!

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Really, does it get much cooler than that?

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We also had a visit from these deputies who patrol the river on ATVs. Very cool too! In fact, I’m pretty sure they have their own action figures. Well, if they don’t they should.

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The perfect spot to watch a helicopter take off!

A special thanks to Rob and our friends from the Sheriff’s Department for the work you do to keep our community safe and for so graciously giving a little of your time to make a kid’s day.

You guys rock!

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What’s for Dessert? A Gelato Bar!

It is time to talk dessert.

For the MVMT Dinner, we decided not to have the caterer provide a plated dessert and opted instead to put together something a little more fun.

A Gelato Bar.

I have “talked” your ear off in my last two posts about putting together an Art Deco themed event; The MVMT Dinner. So I am going to keep this one simple. Or at least I’m going to try. Really, I am. I am just going to tell you what I did (briefly – oh that is so hard for me) and let you see for yourself.

First, however, I must apologize for the less than stellar photography. A) I am not a professional photographer – although I do love it and aspire to be better at it. B) The lighting did not help. C) Running around like a, well, person putting on a dinner for 175 people and trying to snap a few pictures here and there at the same time, did not help.

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No, this gelato bar was not served on a cruise ship listing slightly to port. I did warn you.

Since I am starting this post with a disclaimer, I might as well fess up to another oops. I did not actually get a picture of the gelato portion of the G.E.L.A.T.O. bar.

I know. I set the topping portion of the bar up ahead of time and draped everything in black plastic table cloths. The gelato pans were placed in tubs of ice (black plastic dish tubs that fit two pans perfectly and actually looked great) but they were not brought in and “snuck” discretely under the tablecloth until after dinner had started. The gelato bar was not “unveiled” until dinner was finishing up and I didn’t want to be taking pictures of the gelato as guests were waiting to dish up. Okay, that isn’t entirely true, I WANTED to but just didn’t think it was in very good taste.

MVMT Dinner Gelato Bar InspirationAnyway, picture something like this – without the artful presentation on top (but I did have flavor cards). I love the artful presentation but the gelato looked pretty amazing on it’s own and I wanted it to be easy to serve from both sides of the table in order for the line to go faster. Okay, that really isn’t a good reason. I should have taken the time to put a little bit of artful presentation on top of the gelato.

Mental note made for next time. Spumoni? How does one decorate spumoni? Anyone?

The gorgeous inspiration photo above is from photographer Adrienne Gunde.

The gelato bar had nine different un-artfully decorated yet incredibly delicious flavors to choose from …

  • Triple Dark Chocolate (I suspended the “no sugar” rule for the evening and had this one)
  • Old World Vanilla
  • Sea Salt Caramel (and this one)
  • Cappuccino Hazelnut
  • Italian Pistachio (and a little bit of this one – it was just so hard to choose)
  •  Spumoni
  • Mango Sorbetto
  • Mandarin Orange Vanilla
  • White Chocolate Raspberry

I ordered the Gelato from Nick’s Gelato. The company is based in Phoenix but they ship all over the place. They were very easy to work with, even setting it up for me to drive downtown to the cold storage facility myself to save shipping and delivery costs. Budget. And most importantly, the gelato was delicious. I am a very happy Nick’s Gelato customer!

And then there were the Toppings …

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So, just in case you can’t read the crazy blurry picture above, let me tell you a bit about the toppings.

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There were caramel bits, gummy bears and peanut butter cup mini’s – boy are those dangerous – “I could never eat a WHOLE peanut butter cup but what harm could 25 minis do?” They’re small.

There were also Andes Mints pieces, Toffee bits, M & M’s, mini-chocolate chips, chopped hazelnuts, wafer cookies and Pirouette cookies.

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And of course, rainbow sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles are a must.

I added a bit of Art Deco patterned ribbon around this cute bowl from the dollar store and then attached a pretty embellishment that I printed out on cardstock. Why? Because I had to find something to do with that perfect ribbon. I do love ribbon. Someday I might just tell you about my ribbon drawers, yes drawerS as in more than one. Remember Monica – from “Friends”? She only had ONE ribbon drawer. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t tell you about the ribbon drawers. Forget I mentioned it. Let us never speak of it again.

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The fluted bowls also came from the dollar store. To give a little dimension to the table, I grabbed small candle sticks (also from the dollar store) and super glued them to four of the bowls.

Scoops

I found these great little topping scoops at Michael’s in the wedding section.

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I framed the table with a tall floral arrangement at the beginning of the toppings bar and a three-tiered silver tray filled with the wafer cookies at the other end.

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I purchased all of the toppings, every single one of them, at Wal-Mart.

Gelato. Toppings. What am I forgetting?

Oh, yeah – I got a little ahead of myself there. Before the gelato, before the toppings, the classic question “cone or bowl” had to be answered.

But don’t answer too quickly because these cones were dipped in chocolate …

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Cone or bowl?

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I dipped the “business end” of sugar cones in melted chocolate, some milk chocolate and some white chocolate, and then placed them on sheet trays lined with parchment paper to set. To serve them I bought a decorative cardboard 3-tiered stand and stacked them up.

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I also got to use my ribbon and hot glue gun again to attach a little bit of embellishment to the glass hurricanes I put spoons in.

Art-Deco-DetailingJust a bit more Art Deco flair!

So, there it is a fun and really easy to do Gelato Bar for an event big or small. It was such a hit that I am going to do an ice cream bar for Nathan’s upcoming birthday party and also tomorrow night for our first Cub Scout meeting. And yes, I will probably do the dipped cones again. I really love those little guys and am happy to spoil them a bit.

Ugg … “word count” over a thousand, my queue to wrap things up. So much for brevity.

But before I go, I just have to ask one question – Cone or Bowl?

Or Waffle Cone Bowl?

You didn’t see that one coming, did you?

 

 

 

Key Lime Pie – a Perfect Summer Treat!

Tangy & Tart. Creamy & Rich.

Key Lime Pie. I love you.

With that slightly crunchy buttery crust and smooth velvety filling. I can’t imagine a summer without you. But alas, I am no longer an eater of  gluten or sugar.

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And the limes on our lime tree are starting to ripen.

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And they are gorgeous and are just begging me to use them for Key Lime Pie.

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Can you just hear them? Pick me! Pick me! I was made for Key Lime Pie! You won’t be sorry!

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Yes, fragrant little lime, you are indeed destined for a pie. And no, I won’t be sorry because this won’t be just any pie. No, this Key Lime Pie is very special. It is gluten, sugar and guilt free.

Insert Hallelujah Chorus here.

GUILT-free.

As in no worry over calories, carbs, blood sugar spikes, tummy bulges or the need to spend 45 minutes on a treadmill just for a little indulgence.

No guilt. Zero.

But wait, it gets better.

There is no compromise here either. No rub. No sacrifice. Because this Key Lime Pie is delicious!

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.

As good as any I have ever had and that is saying something because I used to always make Barefoot Contessa’s Key Lime Pie, which is fantastic but sadly, not guilt-free or on plan for a gluten-free/sugar-free lifestyle.

No need for despair, there is hope!

Aand there will be Key Lime Pie thanks to Lauren at Healthy Indulgences.

I love Lauren and she doesn’t even know it. Her blog has been a lifesaver as I learn to use new ingredients and concepts in the effort to become good at this whole gluten-free/sugar-free baking thing. She has really mastered the craft and has created some very special recipes. I am looking forward to the day when I can venture out confidently on my own but for now I’ll stick to her stuff and will share her Key Lime Pie recipe with you.

She calls it Scrumptious Sugar-Free Key Lime Pie … and she’s not exaggerating.

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It is indeed scrumptious (and no, it is not green). I have made it twice now and it has been a huge hit with everyone who has tried it, including my husband who is still a bit of a gluten-free/sugar-free skeptic. I’m starting to win him over though and this pie certainly didn’t hurt.

It does require a few ingredients that you may not have heard of or have on hand but I promise, it is worth heading to the health food store or Whole Foods to pick up what you’ll need to give this a try. I know you’re curious. Don’t be afraid, give it a shot!

If you’ve been a “Trim Healthy Mama” for a while,  you’ll most likely already have everything you need.

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Next week, I will talk a bit more about “Trim Healthy Mama” (THM) and the changes that have occurred in my pantry but for now I’ll let you know that Xylitol has become my favorite sugar substitute. Lauren uses erythritol in her recipe and either one is fine. A note about xylitol, while it is healthy and fine for humans, it is very bad for dogs so make sure too keep it away from your furry babies.

The recipe calls for NuNaturals NuStevia pure stevia extract which is not easy to find. I had to order it online. It is a highly concentrated sweetener. You can find a similar version at Trader Joes but it is not quite as good (a little bitter). If you don’t have it, you can use 8 packets of an easily found stevia product such as Truvia. The combination of sweeteners results in a better flavor.

I did make one other change to the original recipe and added a whole lot more lime zest. Lauren’s recipe calls for 1/4 tsp. and I add 1 heaping tsp. because I LOVE the tart flavor the zest.

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The crust is so delicious and so much more nutritious with a blend of almond and pecan meal. Almond meal or flour is easy to find. As for the pecan meal, I just grind up pecans in my mini-food processor until they are a fine texture. Don’t go too far or you’ll end up with pecan butter.

One final note. The pie tastes best at room temperature but slices easiest right out of the fridge. When you go to serve it, slice it right away and then let it sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes – if you can wait that long.

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Now go grab yourself some limes and get baking!

Even if you are not normally a gluten-free/sugar-free kind of gal (or guy), I urge you to give this a try. The only thing you have to lose is dessert guilt!

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I photographed this gorgeous piece of pie this morning.

And then I ate it for breakfast. Guilt-free!

Enjoy!

This Trim Healthy Mama approved recipe is happily linked with other Trim Healthy Tuesday recipes at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen’ Nest.

Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

As I have worked my way through so many of my grandmother’s incredible recipes, I have come to notice a few things about her “style” or signature touches, especially with baking. Two big stand outs are the use of orange zest and sour cream as so many of her recipes call for one or both.

In her coffee cake recipe there is no orange zest but the addition of sour cream makes for a wonderfully rich and moist cake. I have made the cake a few times now and have been playing around with it, gilding the lily a bit.

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The first time I made it, I made the mistake of questioning grandma Ibby. Why would you want to top the cake with the streusel mixture and then end up with all of the “good stuff” on the bottom of the plate when you invert it out of the pan? So I put the streusel in the bundt pan first in order to have a pretty crumbly crunchy top to my cake. What I ended up with was an unattractive just about burnt mess. Sorry grandma, you do know best.

Still determined to update the recipe a bit and add my own touches, I decided to embrace the current salted caramel craze (a craze I am very fond of by the way) and add Fleur de Sel to the streusel. Let me tell you, that crunchy hit of salt on your tongue mingled with the sweet of brown sugar and spice of cinnamon – glorious. I’m talking Hallelujia Chorus G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

But how to finish the cake? How to add a little flourish to it without overdoing it or taking away from the beauty of the base recipe. I opted for finishing it with a simple maple glaze and Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze was born; a most welcome addition.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse sea salt
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I just do it with a fork, not with a mixer) and stir in the Fleur de Sel and chopped pecans.

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Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream

Cake Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Grandma’s Tip: Cream the butter for a few seconds before adding the sugar. Add the sugar slowly, a little bit at a time and then add the vanilla and cream 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.

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Grandma’s Tip: Crack each egg into a small bowl, not directly into the mixer. This way you will avoid any stray pieces of shell and the potential for a bad egg ruining your whole mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the sour cream; start and end with dry and mix each addition until just combined being careful not to overmix or overwork your batter.

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Take your time, do it right, enjoy the process and  you will end up with one gorgeous batter.

In a prepared 10 inch bundt pan (buttered and floured or coated with baking spray) spoon half of the batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Top with remaining batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with remaining streusel mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto a cake stand or serving platter – make sure your serving dish has enough room for the maple glaze to pool around the cake. Let the cake cool completely (about an hour) before icing with the glaze.

Maple Glaze

Maple-Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

MIx together until smooth.

Maple-Glaze-2The glaze should leave a sturdy “ribbon” when drizzled back into the bowl as you want it thin enough to run over the cake but thick enough to form a beautiful icing.

Drizzle over the cake and decorate the top with a few pecan halves or a light sprinkling of chopped pecans.

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Let me tell you what happens with the addition of the glaze.

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It puddles and pools around the base of the cake, seeping underneath and mingling with the salted pecan streusel creating a gooey almost caramel like sauce that is plate licking delicious.

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How I would love it if you could pull up a seat at our backyard picnic table under the blooming Palo Verde tree and enjoy a leisurely late breakfast. Happy conversation, a gentle warm breeze, bird song and the soft buzzing of honey bees in the tree’s yellow spring blossoms.

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I enjoyed just such a morning this past Saturday with a wonderful group of ladies who make up the prayer team I am blessed to be a part of. We spent some peaceful time in the comfort of the spring sun praying together and then enjoyed each other’s company as we shared this very special cake. My grandmother would have loved it; the prayer and the fellowship. And the cake.

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My grandmother’s original coffee cake recipe specified only “nut meats” in the streusel ingredients; leaving the possibilities wide open. I started with pecans, which is the recipe you have here. Next up, a walnut orange combo using the same basic batter and then having a little fun with orange; a bit of a tribute to her love of orange zest. I also have a hazelnut chocolate chip version rolling around in my head. Stay tuned!

Kitchen table, dining room table or backyard picnic table, I hope you find a moment to slow down, gather round and enjoy!

“Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

If you have read my blog for a while now, you are pretty familiar with the fact that I adore the Barefoot Contessa. Some people love Kobe or Tom Brady, some love Meryl Streep, some love JT, Adele, Ryan Gosling, or Bono. But me, I love Ina.

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One thing, well, there are many things, but one thing in particular that you will never see on my blog are the words “recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa”. 

I love taking a basic recipe idea and tweaking it to add my own unique touches – that is half the fun of cooking. And I will ALWAYS give credit where credit is due but I will never adapt Ina. It can’t be done. I can’t add anything that she hasn’t already perfected. At least according to my taste buds and that is why I love her. Well that and the fact that I feel like I could pull up a chair in her barn (LOVE the barn) and talk with her for hours over coffee and oh, I don’t know, Lemon Yogurt Cake.

And that is just what I am going to share with you today. What a coincidence. Lemon Yogurt Cake, one of my absolute, all-time, favorite “tessa”, as my five-year-old calls her, recipes. We watch her show quite a bit if you couldn’t guess.

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Originally, I had planned on sharing the crustless Quiche recipe I’ve been working on but it still needs some work before I put it out there; the finished product is too “liquidy”. Oh, if only I could pick up the phone and give Ina a ring …

“Ina, hi, it’s Dani. I’m great. Yes, the kids are fine. Thanks for asking. How’s Jeffrey? So glad to hear it. Listen, what are your thoughts on mini-crustless Quiche that turns out  just too soft and liquidy?”

And yes, she would know just what I mean by “liquidy”.

You have your dreams. I have mine.

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The Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

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So why is this one of my favorite Barefoot recipes?

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Lemons. I love lemon anything.

No mixer, just a whisk and a bowl – that I love!

It is light, made with yogurt and vegetable oil but it still has an incredibly rich flavor.

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And the lemon simple syrup … WOW!

In prepping for this post, I happened to discovered yet another thing I love about this recipe;

it is forgiving.

What do I mean exactly? Well, you know when you are outside weeding and suddenly you think “OH CRAP! MY CAKE” and run for the back door, bursting into the kitchen to find your assistant lying on the couch, remote in hand as he glances up and casually says “mommy dat stove been beepin”.

Forgiving like that.

Just keepin’ it real. And I can say crap – my kids don’t read my blog yet.

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Crap.

Lucky for him, he’s just too cute to fire.

Lemony. Quick. Easy. Moist. Light. Delicious. AND Forgiving. That is why I love this cake.

Note: the only thing I do a little differently than Ina (I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that) is simply that I don’t often add the glaze to the top as we are not big “frosting” people. We like the cake as is, moist with a bright lemon tang that is just right and not overwhelming. Although the glaze is a nice touch and I do add it when I’m making the cake as a gift.

In retrospect, this probably would’ve been a good time to add the glaze. Then you might have never known about the over-baking. Mistake covered up. But that’s just not my style. I’d rather have a little fun with it.

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Besides, Ina is so good that even when life happens and you overbake one of her recipes, all is not lost and you can still …

Enjoy!

I promise, I’ll bake a prettier one with glaze and update the post; just for you guys and for Ina. Her wonderful cake deserves a little bit better representation. But for now, let’s just bask in the freedom of admitting we aren’t perfect. And that’s okay! Besides, this is nothing. Oh the epic kitchen fails I could share with you – maybe someday.

Of course, you are MOST welcome to comment and share any of your memorable kitchen failures. I would LOVE to hear about them. We can be blissfully less than perfect together.

Easter, Friendship and Orange Sour Cream Cake!

So sorry I didn’t have a chance to wish everyone a Happy Easter yesterday but as you were hopefully enjoying a wonderful day with family and friends and not reading blogs, I’m thinking that even a day late it is still okay to say Happy Easter!

So, HaPpY EaSteR!

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We had a wonderful day, celebrating the Savior and enjoying friends old and new. A beautiful Spring day. Hunting eggs. Laughing. Breaking bread. Sharing life.

We do not have a lot of family close by but we are incredibly blessed to have friends who have become family.

Old friends. Friends who’s children have grow with ours. Friends we have cried with through the tough stuff (and there has been some tough stuff) and rejoiced with at the victories, the healing and the hope. Because there has been a lot of that too. They are moving to Texas this summer and I am reminded that life is filled with change. But they are family, that will never change, and distance doesn’t matter.

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Old friends we once lived next door to, shared a fence with. They are family too. I miss seeing them everyday; knowing they are right there, just over the fence. I promise, I do love them, I just didn’t get a picture of them yesterday. I’m still working on my “capturing the moment skills”.

New friends.  Isn’t it the best when your kid’s best friend has awesome parents?!  Not only are they good people but brave people, undeterred by the giant snake at the end of our driveway. At least it wasn’t poisonous.

Oh, how I wish I were kidding.

Easter-12One tiny tangent because I must forget about the snake and tell you what is in Eileen’s glass. Trust me, you want to know! It is simple but, wow; half lemonade, half Prosecco and a whole lotta delicious! Cold, bubbly, refreshing. Sooooo delicious! I see a few more of those in her an my future this summer.

One more guest and friend to tell you about. The Colonel. My husband’s former commander whom we love to visit with. His last name is Patton – if only he hadn’t retired and had become a general. I’d love to be able to say General Patton’s coming for dinner. Well, except that he’s Air Force. And nice.

So much and so many to be thankful for.

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We missed the family and friends we couldn’t be with and hope for many Easters to come where we can all be together.

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Oh, right, cake. I promised you cake. I’ll tell you about the cupcakes above some other time. The cake I promised is my Grandma Elizabeth’s Orange Sour Cream Cake. It was a big hit yesterday. I had to hide away one last little piece so that I could photograph it this morning.

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My plan was to photograph that last little morsel of cake with orange wedges but unaware of said plan, my husband ate my garnish. I plated one little slice of orange and stepped away for just  a moment; but around here, that’s all it takes. So instead, plan B, I threw in a few of the kid’s colored Easter eggs and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not sure which is more fun, making the food or photographing it.

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Orange Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar, extra fine *see note
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside to be used later. Beat the whites until you just have stiff peaks. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly (3-5 minutes). *Note: the recipe calls for super fine (also known as caster sugar). If you don’t have any, you can make your own by pulsing granular sugar in the food processor a few times.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure to thoroughly incorporate each. To the creamed mixture, stir in the orange zest and chopped walnuts (I leave the nuts out).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture, alternately with the sour cream; starting and ending with the flour. Beat well and then gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into a  well buttered and floured bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack that has been placed on top of a sheet tray.

Orange Simple Syrup:

Bring to a boil 2/3 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes. It will not reduce much and is not supposed to as it is a syrup to flavor and moisten the cake and not a glaze. Slowly spoon the syrup over the cake to let as much as possible absorb in.

Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and then gently move to the serving dish. Garnish with orange slices and a dusting of powdered sugar if you like.

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This would be a great brunch cake. Enjoy!

And finally, just a few more Easter Highlights from the Brew Crew …

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We always color eggs the night before Easter. My family did it that way growing up and I now have some of the best memories of the crazy eggs my dad would color and the fun we had together.

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I want my kids to have that too.

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Every year, I have taken a picture of my kid’s egg dye stained fingers. I love their hands.

 Every year, the hands are bigger and not quite as stained.

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They are getting so big. Older and more careful.

Pretty soon there will be no more messy little hands to photograph.

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This year, only Nathans.

Actually, I’m pretty sure this boy will be makin’ a mess for a long while to come.

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But wild messes or not, his still sleepy Easter morning face is what mommy will remember. Snuggles with his new friends left by the “Easter Bunny” and the calm before the “wild”…

Easter egg hunting. Big yard. Lots of eggs. TONS of fun!

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And thankfully, Easter egg hunting still seems to be cool; or at least not totally lame.

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A well deserved break. After all, those eggs don’t hide themselves.

I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but there is a silver bowl that sits as the centerpiece on my dining room table (in the very first picture of this post). It was a precious gift from my aunt; something she knew I really wanted but would never buy for myself. It is precious not because it is silver but because of what is engraved around it …

“Together with friends and family is always the happiest place to be.”

Pineapple Angel Torte

I think I might have been a little tough on Jello salad recipes in yesterday’s post; perhaps having a little too much fun at the expense of an iconic American dish.

Today, in an effort to make amends, I am going to share another old family recipe that has a filling quite similar to … gulp … a Jello salad. I also want to tell you about it because it is DELICIOUS and would make a perfect Easter dessert. Fruity, fluffy and very light, which is perfect after the ham and scalloped potatoes which are so often an Easter staple.

This torte is a favorite of my Aunt Andi, my mom’s sister, and my grandmother made it on her birthday for many years. I promise, it is that good.

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There is my amazing aunt. Pretty hot stuff, huh? I love those 60’s hairdo’s! Tres chic!

Her name is actually Diana but to us she will always be Aunt Andi. And she’s still just as gorgeous.

Pineapple Angel Torte

This recipe is a tough one with some exotic and complicated ingredients …

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Just kidding!

Here’s what you need …

  • 1 can – 1lb. 4 1/2 oz – Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 package – 3 3/4 oz – Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 1 Angel Food Cake

That’s it! I know right about now you have your doubts but I promise you, it is wonderful. If it just feels too much like cheating, I understand. If making an angel food cake from scratch would make you feel better, I won’t judge. You are safe here.

Here’s what you do …

Pineapple-Torte-5This is a great recipe for kids to help out with! Sara is stirring together the can of undrained crushed pineapple and the instant pudding mix.

Pineapple-Torte-8Mix until combined and let sit for 5 minutes.

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Next, split your angel food cake into three equal layers.

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Whip the 2 cups of whipping cream – I draw the line at Cool Whip but again, I won’t judge. Gross.

Nathan just peeked over my shoulder while I was writing, saw this picture of Sara and Grandma, put his head on my shoulder and said in a sweet, quiet voice “I miss grandma”. Me too, Nathan. Sniff. If you are new to my blog, that’s my mom – Grandma as she’s known around these parts. She comes down to visit with us a lot and we miss her when she’s not here.

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Add the whipped cream to the pudding/pineapple mixture

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and gently fold it in.

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Put your first layer of cake on your serving dish and spread with a third of your pineapple mixture.

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Repeat with the second layer.

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Top and finish with the remaining pineapple mixture. Chill for one hour.

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And there you have it, Pineapple Angel Torte.

Now, let’s back up for a second. You may have noticed that we could have been smarter about the layering of this particular cake. Angel food cakes are tapered. They are smaller at the bottom. Thus for proper balance and stability, one should invert the layers and construct the cake using the top, which is in fact larger, as the bottom. Sadly, Einstein was not in the kitchen with us that day. We did it backwards. My mom has made this cake correctly a million times so I blame her. Okay, now I feel guilty. It was all my fault.

The good news, it still tasted great. Thankfully, physics has no impact on flavor.

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Meanwhile, Sara has moved on (probably because she wanted no part of the backward cake layering) to help her great-aunt Andi with a big pot of Taco Soup (another family favorite). Yes, we made the cake when my aunt was here visiting. Just for her. I told you she was still gorgeous.

Pineapple-Torte-19See, once it is served, you can’t even tell it wasn’t perfect all along.

Enjoy!

I am pleased to announce that if you like, you can now follow my blog on Bloglovin. Because I have actually figured out how to set it up there. I think. We shall see.

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