Brightening a Cloudy Day

Yesterday was a fairly dreary day here in the Finger Lakes. Clouds and rain filled the sky.  However, plans had been made.  My daughter and her husband were going apple picking (rain or shine) and they promised to bring us a taste of their harvest.  In return, I offered to make Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese for dinner.  A fair trade in both our opinions.  We always like to fill our family’s bellies when we have them for dinner, and considering that most of our family doesn’t like to cook, it’s a fairly easy task for us to accomplish. 

When my daughter walked in the door her hands were full with a bright and colorful bouquet of flowers.  Apples were not the only thing she had been picking.  What a perfect way to brighten an otherwise cloudy day. 

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of these flowers to share here on my blog.  As for the Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, the recipe will be forthcoming one of these days.  And the apples?  I’m going to make a batch of homemade applesauce.

Hope these help color your day bright!

Easy & Irresistible M&M Cookies

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve made cookies of any kind.  You see, I had this lame theory that if I didn’t make cookies then I wouldn’t eat so many.  A few packages of Nutter Butter’s later and one disproved theory…

I’m sure you don’t mind my lack of willpower.  Especially when I’m sharing pictures and recipes of cookies that you too may decide to make one day soon.

These M&M cookies are very good.  Trust me!

Easy Irresistible M&M Cookies

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. shortening

1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c. M&M candies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla, and butter.  Add baking soda, salt, and flour; mix well.  Fold in M&M candies.

Drop by the teaspoon full onto prepared cookie sheets giving them enough space so they won’t bake together.  Bake for 9-10 minutes, don’t over bake.  Cool before transferring from cookie sheet to a baking rack.

Store in airtight container, or freeze in Ziplock bags and pull them from the freezer as needed.

What’s the last cookie you made?  Or bought?

Cooking Light Carrot-Cake Bars

The idea of baking lighter treats appeals to me, and there was a time many years ago, when I was in the habit of using egg whites and applesauce every time that I would bake a cake, quick breads, etc.

My how times have changed… 

While shopping my most favorite thrift store recently, I stumbled across a Cooking Light cookbook for a quarter.  I know, what a bargain! This cookbook has every recipe from the year 1999 that was featured in the Cooking Light magazine so I snatched it up and figured maybe it’s time I get back on the light wagon. 

The recipe for Carrot-Cake Bars is one of many that caught my eye in my new used cookbook.

These bars turned out moist, tender, definitely not oil laden, and delicious.  Yea!  I did make a few slight changes to the original recipe.  First, I used all-purpose flour in place of the whole-wheat flour the recipe called for.  I also used 3/4 cup of sour milk (made with skim milk) instead of the buttermilk, and I skipped adding the raisins.  I think not adding the raisins was a mistake.  While I am not a raisin lover, I do think they add a nice subtle flavor to your treats.  And lastly, I used only 1 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal which I think this was a good move.  Below I’m sharing the original recipe with you.  So feel free to go with it, or make your own modifications.

Carrot-Cake Bars from Cooking Light (Original Recipe)

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. margarine or butter, softened

3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. regular oats

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. shredded carrots

1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 11×7 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat sugar and margarine until blended.  Add buttermilk, vanilla, and egg whites; beat well.  Add flour and next 5 ingredients; mixing until combined.  Stir in carrots and raisins.  Pour batter into a prepared baking dish.  Bake for approximately 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool in pan and serve.

According to the Cooking Light Cookbook, these bars (original recipe) have 121 calories, 2.3 grams of fat, 3.1 grams of protein, 23.3 carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 138 mg of sodium.   I added a few calories to my bars because I drizzled a thin buttercream icing on top.  Shame on me I know.  But look at the calories I saved elsewhere.

Do you like baking and cooking light?  Or do you say –  Ah, what’s the sense?

Table for Two in The Pink Paradise

I have been thoroughly enjoying the Pink Paradise this year – as usual.  And while she hasn’t actually seen the pavement yet, she has come in quite handy.  I love to spend time in her reading, napping, and hosting cozy dinner’s.  This table for two is my idea of a perfect picnic.  No bugs, a nice summer breeze coming in through the window, keeping undercover in case of rain, and of course electric if we need it.

Sometimes I wonder if I should sell her and move on to my next project, while other times I think that is an insanely crazy idea.  Especially after enjoying a nice dinner and playing cards in her like we did tonight.  If I do decide to rehab another camper I’ve already made up my mind that I’ll pick a completely different theme, different colors, and select one that has a little more lounging around space.  

If you were going to restore a camper what would you want it to look like?

Test Kitchen–Yellow Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently had to make a birthday cake to take to a celebration so I went looking for a yummy recipe.  And as I’ve said before, it’s photo’s that help convince me if I will or won’t make a recipe.  And that my friends is why I love Pinterest.  So many pictures, so many recipes, so many creative people! 

Once I found a convincing picture with a recipe that I was happy with, I pinned it on my Party! board went to work. 

I did make a couple modifications to this recipe.  I used margarine in the cake since I was nearly out of butter – I saved the butter for the frosting.   I also used skim milk instead of whole milk, and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla to the batter for good measure. 

I made a 6” double layer cake and 6 cupcakes from this recipe.  I baked the cupcakes for about 11 minutes, and the cake for about 26 minutes.

And how did this cake recipe fare in my book?  The cake was delicious and received a lot of compliments, but it was a bit heavier than I had expected.  I would have preferred a lighter version.  The frosting was perfect because the cream cheese helped cut the sweetness that you’d find in a typical buttercream frosting.

 

So, are you like me?  Do you need a picture of a recipe to convince you to try it?

Tuxedo Brownies – You Just Might Have Seen These Before

 

Years ago when I started blogging I made one of our favorite treats and shared it here on my blog.  But since The Joy of Caking was literally unheard of back then, this recipe didn’t get near enough the attention it deserved.   Yes, these mini brownie cups filled with a delectable white chocolate and cream cheese filling are delicious and absolutely deserve a re-visit.  For my original post, I modified the  recipe slightly by making a chocolate, not white chocolate filling.  But as you can see, I filled this batch with the white chocolate filling.  Oh, so good!

I can’t take the credit for this recipe.  As I indicated in my original post, the recipe came from the Pampered Chef Celebrate Family, Friends & Great Food Cookbook. You can get the recipe by visiting my original post by following the link highlighted above.

I am sharing these brownies at a 4th of July celebration that we have been invited to and I’m sure they won’t last long!

And just in case someone doesn’t want one of these chocolaty little morsels, I also made white cupcakes using heavy cream and frosted them with white chocolate pudding frosting.

Which of these two desserts would you choose?

One Bowl Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I know my blog posts are getting farther apart these days but please hang in there.  I haven’t forgot you!

This weekend I was looking at coffee cakes lined up on a shelf at my local grocery store and I was so tempted to buy one to satisfy my never-ending sweet tooth.  But I knew better.  I knew a store-bought coffee cake wasn’t going to stand up to a moist, tender crumb, cinnamon coffee cake that I could produce in my very own kitchen.  I was certain that buying one would be a waste of my money and only yield disappointment.   Instead, I dug out my mixing bowl and did the right thing, I made my own from scratch.  And let me tell you, no disappointments here!

This cake is so simple to make.  And you all know how simple I like to keep my baking.  One bowl recipes suite me just fine.  The order of the ingredients is exactly how I added them to the one bowl I used to make this cake.  Also, I mixed by hand; not electric mixer.  So go ahead, give this recipe a try.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. sour cream

1/4 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling/Topping

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 7×11 glass baking pan using non-stick cooking spray.

Put all of the ingredients (except the filling/topping ingredients) in a large bowl and mix by hand until everything is combined.  This batter will be stiff.  Mix the filling/topping ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

Pour 3/4 the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top.  Add remaining batter on top, and swirl a butter knife through the mixture several times.  Top with remaining cinnamon and sugar filling/topping and bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

I bet this cake would be delicious with a raspberry filling too.  What do you think?