Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

I had planned on the pistachio cake being the only St. Patrick's Day themed post, but couldn't pass up this fun twist on marshmallow treats. They're super fast to make, so you still have time to make them before the holiday is gone. I plan on taking some to my niece and nephews for an after school treat. You can find the recipe here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Double Pistachio Cake

St. Patrick's Day is coming up so that means everything green on the internet. When I think of green desserts, my go-to is always pistachio. A local grocery store makes THE BEST pistachio muffins. They are huge and have a crunchy sugar topping. I have yet to perfect my own homemade version, but stay tuned; maybe it will happen one day.

This cake is quick and easy. I don't use box mixes very often anymore, but I have found they work best in a pistachio cake. This cake has a small box of pistachio instant pudding in both the cake and frosting. If you are wondering how good it actually tastes, please know that my 8-year-old niece went for seconds and said she wanted this flavor as her birthday cupcakes. I'd say it was a hit.

Double Pistachio Cake

1 box white cake mix
1 small box pistachio instant pudding
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup water

Pistachio Frosting
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 package Dream Whip
1 small box pistachio instant pudding
A few drops of green food coloring, if desired
Handful of shelled pistachio, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8" or 9" cake pans by greasing and dusting with flour. I like to use parchment rounds also.

In the bowl of electric mixer, whisk together the white cake mix and instant pudding.  Add oil, eggs, and water and mix on low speed until incorporated.  Beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Divide batter between prepared pans and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes and then transfer to cool completely. I like to put mine in the refrigerator when they are almost cool and before I start to make the frosting.

For the frosting:  Using the whisk attachment, mix the milk, pudding, and food coloring together on low until incorporated and then whip at medium speed for 4 minutes.  Frost the cooled cake and top with chopped pistachios.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cake With Whipped Vanilla Frosting

We had a taste of spring here over the weekend and it made me want to make a pastel-colored cake and pretend I didn't need to wear socks anymore. Now we're back in the 20s with a chance of snow. That's living in North Carolina for ya.

I have been obsessed with the ombré and pastel-swirled cakes on Pinterest for a long time, but was afraid to even attempt it since I haven't had good luck with cakes in the past. Remember this disaster?? I expected to have another Pinterest fail but I think it turned out okay. I'm excited to play around with different color schemes and flavors in the future. You can find a great video tutorial on how to frost a swirl cake on Sweetapolita. Aren't her cakes beautiful?!?

Dark Chocolate Cake
Yield: Four layer 6-inch cake

Source: Sweetapolita

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 liquid oz. buttermilk
4.5 liquid oz. espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
75 mL (almost 1/3 cup) vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 (or 4) 6-inch round cake pans with butter, parchment paper rounds, and flour. Tap out excess.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl with dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Batter will be liquidy.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Try not to over-bake. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes and then gently invert onto racks to cool completely.

I only have 2 cake pans, so I used a serrated knife to slice each layer in half, creating 4 layers

It is best to refrigerate cake for at least an hour before frosting with crumb coat. When ready, assemble your layers with frosting in-between, apply a thin layer of white buttercream to entire cake, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. If you are using colors, you can mix your frosting colors at this time. It takes a little extra time, but I find that crumb coating makes it so much easier to frost cakes and not have crumbs coming off everywhere.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting
Source: Sweetapolita

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3-5 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, whip the softened butter for 8 minutes at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute. Increase speed and whip for another 6 minutes. It is best to use frosting immediately if frosting a cake.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies...Take 2

This is an update to a previous post from almost 2 years ago. It is one of the most popular posts I have ever done, but the original photos make me cringe. I still consider myself an amateur food photographer, but I like to think I'm a little better now than 2 years ago. One thing that helps is having a camera upgrade.

This time I used the Chocolate Creme Oreos to make them even more chocolatey. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies
Yield: Approximately 30 cookies

Source: How Sweet It Is

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the minis)
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies

Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and crushed Oreos. Refrigerate dough for at least 2-4 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet a few minutes and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Powdered Sugar Doughnuts

I might as well rename this blog Doughnut Boom. Today I bring you the classic powdered sugar doughnut. These always make me think of childhood. It was a happy day when mom brought home the mini Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a bag.

Powdered Sugar Doughnuts
Yield:  8 standard doughnuts

Source:  Cookie Jar Treats

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, sour cream, egg, oil, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add the wet ingredients, gently mixing until thoroughly combined. Try not to overmix the batter.

Spoon batter into doughnut pan, filling a little more than halfway. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. While doughnuts cool, pour 1 cup of powdered sugar into a ziplock bag. Place a completely cooled doughnut in the bag, close, and shake until doughnut is well coated in powdered sugar. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

Note:  These doughnuts are best the first day, but can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days. You will definitely need to add more powdered sugar after they are stored, because it soaks into the doughnut after a while.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies

Remember that snowpocalypse they said would hit us? Well, it's still happening.

Now about these cookies...they are crunchy, gooey, marshmallow-y perfection! Tomorrow is V-Day so think outside the box of chocolates and make these cookies for someone you like, love, or just tolerate. You can find the recipe on Shutterbean.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Shells Soup

The snowpocalypse is supposedly coming my way this week, so it's time for warm soup! I'm a little behind on the kale obsession, but I'm officially on board. I've made kale and bacon quiche, mushroom and kale calzones, and now this spicy sausage, kale, and shells soup. The original recipe called for orecchiette pasta, but my small town grocery store didn't have that. I ended up using the small shells and they worked just fine. Original recipe also called for Italian sausage, another thing I couldn't find, so I used fresh country sausage and seasoned with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.

Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Shells Soup
Source: How Sweet It Is

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound Italian sausage (or fresh country sausage seasoned with 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning)
1 cup small shells pasta
4 cups fresh kale, removed from stems and torn into pieces
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Next, add the chicken broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring liquid to a boil.

While soup is heating up, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing (if it's in casing) and add to skillet with a pinch of salt and pepper (Italian seasoning if using the country sausage). Cook until the sausage is browned, breaking into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the soup is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it's al dente. Add the kale and stir, cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese, then taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Add sausage to soup and stir. Serve with extra cheese, if desired. Make sure to turn off heat underneath the soup to prevent noodles from getting soggy.