3 Favorite Recipes and 3 Years of Blogging

Today marks my 3 years in the blogosphere.  I hadn’t even given it a thought until WordPress sent me a congratulatory message this morning.

To celebrate my blog turning 3 years old, I decided a virtual party was in order, so here are a few of my favorite desserts for you to indulge in.

These HOMEMADE LEMON CUPCAKES are one of my favorite cupcake recipes. Moist and lemony – these are perfect recipe for any Spring or Easter celebration.

This OLD-FASHIONED CUSTARD PIE WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE is one of my favorite pie recipes.  The smooth sweet taste of custard is countered with the tangy strawberry sauce.  This pie will delight your flavor buds – guaranteed.

And these CHOCOLATE COVERED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE BARS are one of my favorite bar recipes.  These cheesecake bars will take care of any craving you might have for chocolate and cheesecake at the same time.  The caramel is just a huge added bonus.

Thank you all, for reading my blog and helping it grow.  Without you, the readers, it wouldn’t be what it is today.  Your interest is what inspires me to continue baking, writing, photographing, and sharing glimpses of my country life.




The Chocoholic Cupcake: Another Valentine’s Day Dessert

A couple weeks ago I announced that I was going to make a few  treats in an effort to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert.   The only requirement for the dessert; it must have chocolate in it.  And as you might imagine, this is becoming a harder chore than I originally thought.

The first recipe I presented was for Strawberry Kiss Cheesecakes.  They definitely hit the spot, and after making them I had to wonder if I would be able to top them.

Well… now I present the Chocoholic Cupcake.  The cake is dark, moist, and less sweet than a lot of chocolate cupcake recipes.  I like to top them off with either  vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting which is sweet and buttery and compliments the dark chocolate cake.

I have to say that it is nearly impossible to choose a favorite between the two desserts I’ve made so far.  I have at least one more dessert to make before picking a favorite, but now I’m wondering if we should celebrate Valentine’s Day with just desserts and wine!

Chocoholic Cupcakes

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. brown sugar, not packed

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. cocoa

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. skim milk

1 c. boiling water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes. 

Prepare cupcake tins by placing paper liners in each cup.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add sugars, eggs, skim milk, and oil.  With an electric mixer beat ingredients for 2 minutes.  Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa; mix again until completely blended.  Add boiling water and flour; beat until smooth and creamy.  Stir in vanilla extract. 

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

I couldn’t resist decorating these cupcakes with bright gumballs from SweetWorks candy, along with Hershey’s creamy milk chocolate hearts and kisses.  Both are so festive!

And drum roll please…. 

TheMaryJaneFam blog, Raising Jane Journal, featured photos of my one and only Pink Paradise today.  They also shared a link to my Tin Can Tourist post as well.   I feel so honored!  If you have a minute,  please hop on over there and check it out.

Also, an important reminder all you glampers  –  the International Glamping Weekend is scheduled for  June 1-2, 2013.  Follow the link above to find out more.

I shared this recipe at:



My Favorite Cream Cheese Recipes


It’s summer, and summer is a busy time for all of us.  The day’s are longer but the time seems to slip by faster. 

I’ve been busy working on the Pink Paradise and I’m just about ready to share another update with you.  But first, I thought I’d  share three of my favorite cream cheese desserts. 


Mini Lemon Cheesecake with Peach Glace’ Topping (bottom left)

Chocolate and Cream Cheese Crostata  & Mini Cakes (bottom right)

Chocolate Covered Caramel Cheesecake Bars (top right)

What is keeping you busy this summer?


My first cookbook came from


Grandma S


My sister and I recently received some cookbooks that belonged to my grandmother. As I was going through the books and her recipe cards, memories flooded my mind and impelled me to take a closer look at my first cookbook. 


From what I can tell, my first cookbook was a gift from, none other than, my grandmother. She gave it to me when I was fourteen, she passed away when I was eighteen. Fortunately for me, she inscribed the date in the book she gave me giving me a way to verify my claim. The book was The Joy of Cooking Vol. 2., specializing in appetizers, desserts & baked goods. The Joy of Cooking has some pretty extravagant recipes in it, and it reminds me of the eloquent side of my grandmother.  


What amazes me is how on target she was when she gave me my first cookbook. I love baking and desserts, and I love to make appetizers. I relate both to of the art of entertaining, something she also seemed very interested in.   

I believe appetizers should get your attention. They‘re an introduction to the good things yet to come. Desserts on the other hand should offer a grand finale, a big bang ending, leaving you with a lasting impression you’re not soon to forget, just like the memories I have of my grandmother.   

The Devil’s Food Cake Adventure


I have been baking for years.  Not on a professional level, just for fun, and usually to satisfy a specific craving I’m having.   I am a huge fan of cookbooks and recipes.  I love them…  Old or new, they inspire me.  I turn each page, or flip through the recipe card holder with enthusiasm.  If the recipe happens to have a photo that’s even better. I wait for that one recipe to stand out and yell pick me,  pick me.  Eventually it happens.  The recipe appears, capturing my full and undivided attention.  Until…                 

Somewhere between finding that inspiring recipe, the one that stood out against all others,  double checking to see if I have all the ingredients, and getting out the mixing bowl and measuring cups, something happens to me.  It’s hard to explain but I lose all sense of reason. I get the urge to experiment, be a non-conformist, fall off the recipe trail so to speak,  show my individuality and follow my sense of adventure.                 

Is it just me??                 

The other day I was looking through some recipes that were given to me.  I was excited to try a new one out.  My mind was fixed on something chocolate after seeing an array of sinful chocolate desserts ( like the Tower of Chocolate) at a local restaurant.                  

After careful deliberation I picked a recipe for Devil’s Food Cake.  The recipe was fairly simple, perhaps too simple.  I decided to substitute all-purpose flour in place of the cake flour the recipe called for since I didn’t have any on hand.  I also decided to use canola oil in place of the shortening the recipe called for. When the batter appeared a little to light in color I also opted to add a tablespoon of brewed coffee for effect and personalization.  What harm could this do?              

The cake didn’t turn out bad (considering it’s already gone) but I think there is room for improvement.  The frosting was its saving grace.               

Feeling a bit disappointed in how the cake turned out I did a little research.  My research reminded me that baking is a science of sorts.  Measurements are important, as are specific ingredients, heat, or the lack there of.   This research led me to the conclusion that when I make this “Devil” again, I will use the recommended cake flour since it has a lighter consistency.  I will also use the shortening because it is also lighter and doesn’t weigh the flour down like oil can when beating the batter .  For the tablespoon of coffee, I don’t think that had any bearing one way or another so if I have some I will probably use it.              

I don’t believe that all recipes are accurate, or have been tested. I think many are one persons perception of what they believe is good food.  Many are created by someone just like me – falling off the recipe trail.  Recipes will always continue to inspire me and I’m sure I  will continue to  be adventurous when I’m baking but when I do I’ll keep this in the back of my mind.  Changing a recipe it is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”