It’s 2017 and I’m Back!

This post is being updated from 2015 when it was initially written.  That was the day that I flipped the switch and started blogging on a self-hosted site with a paid domain.  And now for the good news…  I’m back!  Blogging back here at my old stamping grounds – yay!

Please continue to stay with me as I share my new recipes, DIY projects, photographs, and my simple country life back here where it all began.

Mini Blueberry Cupcakes

Wish me luck!

Pizza Focaccia Bread – Ready in 1 Hour

This is a new favorite in our house.  A fresh and flavorful pizza bread that can be made and ready to serve in an hour.  Yes, you heard me correctly, 1 hour!   And if you’re intimidated by making bread have no fear…  Seriously, this recipe is great for beginner bread makers.

Pizza Focaccia Bread

3/4 c. warm water

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Toppings

1/4 c. pizza sauce

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

8 slices pepperoni, cut into small pieces

2 dashes of Italian seasoning

Spray a 9” pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add water, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Let sit for a couple minutes.  Add oil and flour; mix thoroughly.  On a lightly floured surface knead dough for about 1-2 minutes.  Place dough in the prepared pie plate and press out.  Poke holes in the dough (as shown below).

Top dough with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese (as shown below).  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes;  bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

I like to dip this bread in fresh pizza sauce.  It makes a great appetizer, compliments a fresh salad, and can be served with a meal.

Either way, it won’t last long – I guarantee it!

A Simple and Wickedly Good 4th of July Dessert–Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Even if you haven’t given  4th of July  dessert a thought at this point I think you might after looking at these pictures of these simple and wickedly good ice cream cookie sandwiches.

Of course you can buy cookies from your favorite bakery to make these but they aren’t the same as using chocolate chip cookies made from scratch. 

I filled these sandwiches with  Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream made with 1/2 the fat .  (This is not a sponsored post. )  I’m just sharing one of my favorite products with you.  My new favorite Edy’s  flavor is Mud Pie; coffee ice cream with chocolate cookie chunks and fudge swirl.  I have to admit it rocks the ice cream world. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of margarine, or butter

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 c. mini semi-sweet dark chocolate chips

Makes about 16 cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two  cookies sheets with cooking spray.

In a large bowl cream together margarine, sugars,  egg, salt, baking soda, vanilla.  Add flour and mix completely.  Fold in mini-chocolate chips.  Drop by dining teaspoon onto cookie sheets about two inches apart.  Bake approximately 8 minutes until cookies are light golden colored and are slightly firm to the touch.  Be careful not to over bake.

Move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before making ice cream sandwiches. 

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Sweet Happenings For Valentine’s Day

Thanks to Temptation Candy out in California, The Joy of Caking is hosting an awesome Valentine’s Day CHOCOLATE giveaway!

Temptation Candy has assured me that one lucky reader of The Joy of Caking will enjoy a package filled with delicious chocolates similar to the ones pictured here.

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED – CONGRATULATIONS TO ZOE MONTELEONE! 

To enter, all you have to do is follow Temptation Candy on one (or all) of their social media sites and then leave a comment (in the comments section only) letting me know which site(s) you are following them on.

https://facebook.com/temptationcandy

https://twitter.com/temptationcandy

https://pinterest.com/temptationcandy

Rules of the giveaway:

Open to US residents only (excluding Alaska and Hawaii); (1) entry per person; winner will be selected on or about Friday, February 13, 2015; winner will be notified by email, if winner does not respond within 24 hours then an alternate winner will be selected; winner must provide a valid street address (for shipping reasons) which will be forwarded to Temptation Candy – sorry, NO P.O. Boxes.  The prize will ship directly from Temptation Candy

The chocolates featured in this post are courtesy of Temptation Candy.  Any opinions herein are my own and I have not been financially compensated to write this post. 

Healthy & Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

Every year, for many years, I have broke a promise to myself and it all has to do with soup.  Yes, I said it all has to do with soup.

You see, each year I have told myself that this is the year I’m going to make Homemade Butternut Squash Soup.  But then I never do make the soup and there has never been a good reason for it either.  Just lame excuses.

This year, I finally kept my word to myself and made the most delicious and healthy soup imaginable.  I now realize that all that procrastination was crazy.  The most time consuming part of making this soup is the peeling and cubing of the squash – which I enlisted my hubby to help me with.  If you want to speed this soup making process up a bit then I suggest purchasing the squash already peeled and cubed from the vegetable section of your favorite supermarket.

This soup recipe fits my tastes and expectations perfectly.  There was no disappointments and I’m adding it to my tried-and-true recipes in hopes that I’ll make it for many more years to come.  If you try this recipe please let me know what you think of it.

Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter (or margarine)

1 small onion, diced

1/2 c. diced carrot

4 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. skim milk

1/4 c. half & half

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and oil on low heat.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Once onions are cooked, add carrots, squash, and broth.  Cover; bring to a boil until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the mixture.  Return to low heat and stir in milk, half & half, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt & pepper to taste.  Do not bring to a boil.   

This soup makes a great appetizer or entrée.  I served it as an entrée with a salad and homemade Almost Texas Roadhouse Rolls that I’ll be sharing with you in a future post.  

Although the ingredients are different, this soup reminds me of Panera’s Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup – yum!

What is your favorite soup recipe?

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?

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies and Merry Christmas!

My daughter just  introduced me to a cookie that I’ve never had before.  I can’t imagine how this one slipped past me in all the years that I’ve been baking!  This little shortbread cookie has now made it’s way to the top of my “favorites” list .

These cookies have probably garnered their name from the fact that they are so tender and will melt in your mouth.  Yep, one right after another!

We got the recipe from Taste of Home’s website.  If you’d like the recipe to these delicious little gems please follow the link I just provided.

mint cookies 013

Happy baking, and Merry Christmas!

Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Brownies

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve made something really chocolaty and rich to share here on my blog.  Since I feel a wee bit irresponsible for not making more chocolate goodies for you, I’m making it up to you by sharing my newest chocolate brownie creation.

If you like the combination of mint and chocolate together then stick around.  These brownies (in my opinion) have the perfect texture; cake like and fudgy.  And the flavor is delicious – and that’s coming from someone who would normally prefer peanut butter to mint most any day of the week. 

These brownies will surely fit perfectly in your holiday cookie gift boxes this year.  If you don’t make cookie boxes, but are expecting to entertain guests this holiday season, then serve these up with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice cream and drizzle a little hot fudge on top – they’ll be a hit!

Instead of using mint chocolate chips in these brownies, I used Ovation Dark Mint Filled Break-A-Part candy.  These scrumptious candies come in the shape of an orange and they break apart into 20 pieces.  They also come in a variety of other unique flavors so you can really get creative when you bake using these.

Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Brownies

1/2 c. margarine, melted

1 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 c. dark chocolate mini chips, melted

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. baking cocoa

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. chopped Dark Chocolate Mint Ovation Candy, (1/2 c. for the batter and 1/2 c. for the topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8”x8” glass baking pan.

In a large bowl, add margarine, sugar, eggs, an melted chocolate dark mini chips; mix thoroughly.  Add baking powder, salt, cocoa, and flour.  Mix all ingredients together until blended.  Fold in 1/2 c. of chopped Ovation candy. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the pan of brownies.  Remove brownies from oven and immediately sprinkle remaining 1/2 c. of chopped Ovation candy on top.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.

Ovation Break-A-Parts also come in Milk Chocolate Raspberry, Almond, Pumpkin Spice, Orange, and Key Lime, and Dark Chocolate Orange.  Which flavor would you pick to bake with?

Candy provided by SweetWorks Candy.  I was not compensated for this post and the opinions are my own.

Double Chip Vanilla Cookie Bars and Mercantile Reminder

When I decided to make these cookies I had biscotti on my mind.  But as you know, biscotti is a bit more time consuming to make since it has to be baked twice. I wanted a cookie that was comparable, but with less work.   I think I’ve created a solid cookie bar that has some of the characteristics of biscotti, but tastes much more like a yummy shortbread cookie!

Double Chip Vanilla Cookie Bars

1/2 c. margarine

1 egg

2/3 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. mini dark chocolate chips, plus more for the tops

Sprinkles (optional)

In a large bowl, cream margarine, egg, and sugar.  Beat in salt, baking powder, vanilla, and flour until completely mixed.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Using your hands, form dough into a rectangular shape (approximately 8” long x 4” wide x 1 1/2” thick. Place shaped dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Wrap the parchment paper over the dough and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

While cookie dough is in freezer, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a separate cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from freezer and slice cookies about 1/2” apart.  I used my Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter and it worked like a charm.  Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet and bake for approximately 13 minutes, or until cookie has set.  *You may need to adjust baking time if your cookies are thinner or fatter than mine – I got 16 cookies from this batch.  I suggest setting your baking timer a little early to make sure you don’t over-bake your cookies.

Remove baked cookies from the oven and sprinkle mini chips on top, also colorful sprinkles if desired.  Return cookies to your warm oven and leave them just long enough to let chips melt slightly.  Remove from oven and move to cooling rack.  Store in airtight container.

I thought about drizzling some chocolate on top of these but amazingly, I did use some restraint!  These cookies go perfect with a nice cup of tea or coffee.  They are also hearty enough to transport without crumbling into pieces.   I’ve decided I will be making these and adding them to my Christmas cookie gift baskets that I share each holiday season.  Try making them yourselves, I think you’ll agree!

Just a reminder that the Antique Flatware auction is going to end this week on the 31st.  Don’t forget to place your bid!

 

Ten Bloggers Present – The Fall Harvest Dinner!

2013 fall harvest dinner_001

Dinner parties were once one of the most common forms of entertainment in this country.  Homemakers would set their tables with their finest dinnerware, make their favorite recipes, and invite some of their closest friends over for an evening of cocktails, delicious food, and great company.   

Some of my most favorite pictures are of my grandparents hosting dinner parties back in the day.  The women in the photo’s wore pretty dresses and heels, and the men donned dress slacks, dress shirts, and ties.  And as you can imagine, the photo’s depict adults having a great time dining and socializing.

With entertaining on my mind, I have invited some of my closest blogger friends to help me host a virtual Fall Harvest Dinner Party.  Each dish, including the table décor, signifies our beautiful fall season.  If you’re looking for Thanksgiving dinner ideas, you’ll likely find something from our dinner that you can put to good use later.  I am sharing just a tease (here at The Joy of Caking) of our dinner and the bloggers who helped make this all possible.  For loads more pictures, recipes, and to get to know each of these great blogger friends of mine better, please visit each of their sites.  I promise not to disappoint you!. 

Our dinner party begins with a beautiful Festive Fall Table created by Sandra of Sweet Sensations. Sandra has a real knack for coordinating and designing some of the most beautifully decorated tablescapes I’ve ever seen.  She claims it is nearly impossible for her to separate herself from the world of sweets and parties and I believe it! Have you ever seen the beautiful cakes she makes?  Sandra blogs to us from Michigan, and she tells me that her regular job as a fitness professional allows her to indulge moderately in all things sugar – lucky girl!  She say’s “it’s a good thing that I’m as passionate about working out as I am passionate about sweets!”  I only wish I could say the same Sandra.

I ask you, what’s a dinner party without a cocktail or two?  This scrumptious looking Apple Pie Cocktail with a Twist is brought to you by Terra of Café Terra Blog.  This cocktail looks like it would wet just about any whistle.  I know it would mine!  In my opinion, Terra is the ultimate cocktail queen – at least she is in North Carolina where she happily resides.  If you can think it; she can mix it!  Terra has been blogging for over three years.  By day she is a food safety/quality assurance specialist that checks on restaurants and hotels.  As a recipe developer, Terra say’s “I have discovered I love baking/cooking with booze.  So to add to my list of fun, I started creating cocktails with all the extra booze in my bar!”  Keep um coming Terra!

When Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary graciously offered to make us one of her yummy appetizers for our dinner I couldn’t wait to see what she would bring.   This French recipe for Eggplant Caviar sounds so unique and delectable.  I love the creativity that flows from Dionne’s kitchen, and I drool over all of the belly filling food she shares.  Dionne say’s “I love writing, cooking, eating and photography. Strengthening my culinary skills was something that I found myself doing after my daughter was born. It was something that we could do together, no matter what our financial situation, and we could have that in common.”  Dionne operates their family by day and squeezes in time for food blogging when she can.  She’s a very busy girl especially since her and her “other-half” co-founded No More Hungry Nights in the state of Washington,  an organization dedicated to ending hungry nights one house at a time. They provide food donations, job connections and even training for local families in their community.  KUDO’S to both of them for taking on such a huge problem! 

I know that a new mom like Monet, from Anecdotes & Applecores, is probably more focused on feeding her sweet little Lucy than helping host a fall dinner party – but Monet is an amazing girl.  She always bakes delicious treats and writes from her heart  –  two of the things that I enjoy immensely about her.  Today, she brings an enticing Goat Cheese with Herbs de Provence to our dinner table.  While this recipe sounds like a fancy and time consuming appetizer, I’m sure she will tell you otherwise.  Monet writes and bakes in colorful Colorado.  She just recently finished her MFA in Creative Writing and she is currently working on a memoir about food and family.  Monet invites you to visit  Anecdotes and Apple Cores where she say’s,  “I share simple recipes that are meant to be shared.”  And while your there, be sure to ogle (like I do) over sweet little Lucy!

Goat Cheese with Herbes de Provence v1 (Anecdotes & Applecores)

Amy, aka “Ms. Toody Goo Shoes, has created a sapid Roasted Pear Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette for us to feast upon.  After a lengthy career in the TV industry,  Amy reports that she has ”hung up her dress-for-success clothes and pulled her domestic ‘genes’ out of storage.”  Now that she isn’t rushing off to catch the 7:52 every morning, she spends her time writing from her home in New Jersey about the things she always wished she had time to do when she was working; like baking, traveling and interior design. Amy’s great sense of humor and her creative writing skills make me laugh and keep me coming back for more.  And I haven’t even mentioned all of the other attractions she shares on her blog; like recipes, home decorating ideas, and her road trips! 

Jeanne is the author/blogger behind Inside NanaBread’s Head.  For our fall dinner she has prepared Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with Almond & Honey Streusel – yummy!!  Jeanne compares her blog to her junk drawers – filled with tidbits, trash & treasures – so open with caution; you never know what might fall out.  I can completely relate to that!  She writes from the big state of Texas about the things that make her world brighter.  Jeanne’s blog is much like mine in that she offers a little of everything – food, family, travel, an occasional craft or sewing project.  On occasion you may even get an update on the mildly exotic fruit that they grow; including pineapples, bananas and a new papaya tree.  Jeanne say’s she’s “prone to bouts of sarcasm, and believes that a good sense of humor is one of life’s greatest gifts.”  She’s always made me feel very welcomed at her blog, and she once told me if she ever wins the lottery she’s inviting me to a “girl’s getaway” she’s planning.  Hey, you never know!  Drop by her blog for a visit, poke around for a while, and say hello. Her door is always open.  

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple - Ready to Eat - Inside NanaBread's Head

My contribution to our dinner is a Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken.  Since I’m the baker in our house, and my hubby is the cook, I asked him if he would mind helping with the entrée for our dinner. Since he loves to cook, he was more than willing to roll up his sleeves and help out.  I’m so fortunate because the two of us can work side by side in the kitchen and produce some pretty tasty meals together.   Since this is a super long post I am going to be sharing his recipe in a new post tomorrow – so be sure to stop back for it!

Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake brings a beautiful and flavorful Pumpkin Challah to our table all the way from Indiana.  Liz credits her mom as being an amazing cook, but not much of a baker. She say’s, “when my sisters and I yearned for a sweet treat, I turned to our trusty BH&G cookbook and zeroed in on the dessert tabs. My love of baking began in my childhood kitchen.”  She married a chocoholic and together they had 3 children with plenty of sweet teeth.  Liz began blogging in 2010 (the same year I did) to chronicle her baking journey. She amazes me because I don’t think there is a day that goes by that she doesn’t post something delicious on her blog.  I love reading all the great stories she shares with her great recipes.  Drop over and say hi, and ask her how many times she’s had a fire truck at her house.

Pumpkin_Challah (4) harvest dinner

Sharon and Denise are the makers of these tender and buttery Onion Rolls. Did I mention I love Onion Rolls?  Both are sisters born a scant 17 months apart, best friends, and the brains behind BeBetsy.   BeBetsy is a place to find fabulous food, flirty fashion, beauty trends, creative artists and a lot of inspiration!  Both gal’s tell me that they “like the idea that a modern woman can have a career, then carry her baby or grandchild on her hip wearing a fabulous dress and heels (or flats if her feet are killing her) and all the while admitting that she loves to cook, sew and garden, and finds the greatest joy in friends and family.”  I enjoy dropping by and linking up to their linky party every Tuesday.  It’s called Brag About It.  Please feel free too do the same! Lucky for me, these two ladies from the Wild West (Utah and Nevada) have become great long distance friends of mine.

Anne, a baker and blogger From My Sweet Heart, resides in a suburb of Washington, D.C.  Her dish to pass is my favorite part of any meal – dessert!  I can almost smell Anne’s Cinnamon Applesauce Tart, can’t you?  Anne admits, “I grew up in a generation where you always had dessert; even if it was after a weeknight supper; and even if it was only Jell-o. And to this day, when I dine at a restaurant, I always glance at the dessert menu first! I began baking later in my life.”  I can completely relate to what Anne says about always having dessert – that’s the way I remember it too!  She and I both appreciate vintage kitchen items and you will likely see many of them in the beautiful photographs that she takes for her posts.  Ann amazes me because she has a job that keeps her very busy by day, and yet she still manages to produce some of the most perfect looking desserts that I’ve ever seen. Grab yourselves a cup of coffee and head over to From My Sweet Heart for a slice of this delicious tart.

Thank you for coming to our Fall Harvest Dinner.  We all hope you have enjoyed yourselves, but remember it’s not over yet!  Hop on over to each of my friends blogs and pick up their scrumptious recipes for this meal, along with Sandra’s tips on setting a winning table.  And if you forgot to bring a hostess gift don’t fret; just pin, tweet, or Facebook our party and we’ll forgive you!