Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!

The kids and I worked on our Easter egg coloring yesterday and we all had lots of fun! The eggs came out so colorful! Here they are, drying out: 

My treasures, posing with the finished "product" :)

Proud with their work:)

Our Easter centerpiece this year (we started cat grass a week ago and it was ready just in time- so exciting- and springy!):

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chocolate Trifle with Homemade Pudding

For my Mom's Birthday party a few weeks ago I also made this chocolate trifle that I forgot to blog about. :) All chocolate lovers raved about it. It was a snap to put together. The only more time-consuming element was the homemade chocolate pudding but it so silky and delicious, it was definitely worth the few extra minutes. I made a batch of brownies and since I was pressed for time- (i.e. made this at 11:30PM) I simply used a box mix. I then layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip, repeating the layers a couple of more times and finishing of with chocolate syrup that I swirled around with a knife for a fancier presentation. It was almost completely gone by the end of the party! :)

Chocolate Pudding:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 3/4 cups milk 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  1. In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

This is a link to the original recipe for the chocolate pudding:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

White Texas Sheet Cake

This was a cake I made a couple of times last week. I had seen it on Pinterest and thought it sounded delicious- anything vanilla sounds great to me! :) Of course, I had to add a little bit of my own to the recipe: I couldn't resist throwing in some lemon zest, as I had fresh lemons and I love the flavor they add to vanilla desserts. It was extremely easy to prepare and it turned out very yummy! I had some excellent reviews!


1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. sugar
2 c. + 4 T flour
1/2 t salt
1 t soda
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1/2 c. sour cream

1 C butter
6 T evaporated milk
1 t vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar
dash of salt
1 c. pecans, chopped (optional)

Put butter and water in a large bowl.  Heat in microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir until all the butter is melted.  Add sugar, flour, salt, and soda.  Stir with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat well.  Stir in sour cream until all is blended. 
Pour into a 11”x17” baking sheet that has been greased and floured. 
Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted in center comes clean.
Remove from the oven and make the frosting.
Cook butter and milk for 3-4 minutes in microwave.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and a dash of salt.  Beat until smooth. Add nuts and gently spread on warm cake.

Cool and serve.

This awesome recipe came from:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring cupcakes

Anna and I worked on some spring cupcakes last night, for my son's spring party at school. We had lots of fun! Anna did quite a lot of decorating. I am so proud of her! She did a great job!

We started with these vanilla cupcakes to which I just added 1/3 cup of sprinkles to the batter:
(for recipe click here)
We then prepared our buttercream frosting in four colors:
(for recipe click here)
And after some piping and fun we transformed these:

into these:

Happy Spring! :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Golden Rum Cake

I am generally a fan of "from scratch" baking, but this recipe that starts with a boxed cake mix has won me over. I have to admit, I was sceptical at the beginning, but after reading all the rave reviews it had on the website where I found it, I had to give it a try. Wow! I can honestly say this is one of the moistest cakes I have ever tasted- between the pudding mix and rum in the cake itself and the rum glaze you add to it after baking it is simply phenomenal! And- always a bonus for me- easy, easy! It does have a little "kick" to it, so if you want to avoid that, just add the rum to the glaze a couple of minutes earlier to let the alcohol cook out. The flavor will still be there! This is great on its own, but I think it will be out of this world with a little vanilla ice cream on the side... :)))

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water (or milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum (I used Bacardi)

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
  1/2 cup dark rum (I used Bacardi)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. After the cake cools in the pan for about ten minutes, take a spatula and loosen it from the sides and from the center (bundt pan). Poke holes in cake using a fork or a skewer. Then, pour the hot glaze around the edges so it goes right down the sides and soaks into the bottom (which will be the top) and the sides of the cake. Also, pour some around the inner ring and then a little along the top (which will be the bottom).  Let it sit for an hour or two, upside down, and then flip it over onto a serving plate and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before serving. It is definitely better the day after.
4. To make the glaze: in a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.
Recipe courtesy:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I had been meaning to make Irish Soda Bread for this St. Patrick's Day and was looking for a good recipe to try out. Ina Garten was this year's inspiration. I love Ina. I love her recipes. I own most of her cookbooks. This recipe did not disappoint. It was exactly the kind of Irish Soda Bread I like. And while it may not be the traditional ISB, it certainly meets all my requirements for being a delicious loaf: slightly sweet, slightly crumbly, with raisins, nice flavor and definitely no caraway seeds. It turned out just the way I was hoping, and beautiful too! :)

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tbsp extra for currants
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants (I used raisins since I didn't have currants)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per slice (15): Calories: 205; Total Fat: 4 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 5 grams; Total carbohydrates: 37 grams; Sugar: 11 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 23 milligrams; Sodium: 312 milligrams

Recipe courtesy:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Green candied popcorn for St. Patrick's Day :)

This was another green-themed snack I made for my daughter's St. Patrick's Day party in school. It was funky looking and very yummy. :) Easy to make too.

4 quarts popped corn
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, does make mixture slightly more creamy)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
green food coloring

In heavy saucepan on medium heat melt butter then add sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt. Increase temperature to medium high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture boils, add in food coloring and stop stirring. Boil for 5 minutes (Do not stir). Mixture should be about 250-260 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla and baking soda. Working quickly and while mixture is foamy, pour mixture over popped corn and gently stir to coat popcorn. Place popcorn into a large roaster or rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 225° F for 15-20 minuted.

Special thanks for this yummy recipe to Skip to my lou

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Patrick's Day cupcakes

It is St. Patrick's Day this weekend! As tradition would have it, I am again one of the class moms in charge of sending in goodies for my daughter's St. Patrick's Day party in school. :) Of course, I had to bake something special. So, here are the cupcakes I whipped up for this occasion... They turned out pretty yummy and very, umm.... green! :))

Rainbow cupcakes with green magical frosting topped with green chocolate covered pretzels

Rainbow cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup rainbow colored sprinkles 
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners (for cupcakes).
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Blend vanilla, oil and sour cream.
Add flour and milk, alternating- starting and finishing with flour. 
Add the sprinkles and mix just to blend in.
Pour in muffin tins. Bake 18-19 minutes or until they test done.

Green Magical Frosting

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature
green food coloring (I use Wilton gel food coloring)
green sugar for decorating (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, for me it was ready in exactly 7 minutes. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. (It took my mixture a good 2 hours to come to room temperature and it was smooth sailing from there.) You can also refrigerate the mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting properly.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), pop the bowl on your stand mixer and beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work its magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Add green food coloring and blend until the color is distributed evenly. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour, or chill if you want a stiffer consistency for piping. I piped mine without chilling it and it was stiff enough.

Green Chocolate Covered Pretzels

30 or more pretzels
1 bag (12 oz) of dark green candy melts (I use Wilton)
sprinkles or decorative sugar (optional)

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
2. Put candy melts in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.Take it out of the microwave when there are still unmelted chips remaining, and stir until the final chips melt.
3. Drop each pretzel in the melted candy melts and submerge it slightly. Use a fork to pull the pretzel out. Shake the chocolate-dipped pretzel several times to remove excess chocolate, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. If you are using sprinkles, decorative sugar or small candies, sprinkle them on when the chocolate is still wet. Repeat with remaining chocolate and pretzels.
4. Place the pretzels in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate (or just leave out overnight- this is what I do).

Print recipe

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