Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Ever since my bridal shower I’ve been on a major bundt cake kick. Bundts are pretty, quick, and require no frosting after they come out of the oven. A step to cake making that I find cumbersome and most times annoying, although delicious.

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I found this recipe from Lick the Bowl for a Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake. My husband has a mild obsession with snickerdoodle cookies so I figured I would try my hand at a cake version of the treat.

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This cake is AMAZING. Hands down scrumptious. The best part is the caramelized cinnamon sugar crust around the entire exterior of the cake. The only part of the recipe I’ve altered is adding a bit more cinnamon (3tsp rather than 2tsp).

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If you love cake, and love snickerdoodles run don’t walk to your kitchen and bake this little number up.

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Tripple B

Banana.

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Brownie.

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Bundt.

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Brilliant.

Found this recipe from Alida’s Kitchen while trolling Pinterest (and on a health kick). The whole wheat flour made it a little dense but that means it’s filling and won’t eat the entire cake in one sitting, so that’s a good thing right? I would recommend cutting the whole wheat flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 1/2 cup of white flour to make it a little less “wheaty” (anyone who’s baked with whole what flour knows what I mean) Other than that, I would totally make this ” Health Kick” treat again.

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Irish Soda Bread Pudding (booze not optional)

I was raised in a house that takes Saint Patrick’s Day very seriously. VERY seriously. Come March 17th every surface is covered with green paraphernalia, the bag pipe music is blasting through the rooms, the BIG stock pot gets dusted off and filled with corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes, the cabbage leaves are proudly adorned on our heads, and, most recently, the oven is consistently churning out my mother’s (award winning) Irish Soda Bread.

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oh, and lots of Guinness

She gave me a loaf to take home a day or 2 before the whole fam got together to celebrate the holiday (a few days early). This got me thinking,  a whole loaf of bread for 2 little people is a lot of bread, could there be anything else I could do with this fabulous carb fest? A quick internet search confirmed: Irish Soda Bread Pudding. (lightning bolt to the brain guys, seriously)

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I would describe this recipe as easy as making corned beef and cabbage is (hint you can successfully do both while drinking). A little advanced planning is required as the bread needs a few hours to soak up the custard deliciousness. I would say the advanced planning is well worth it. This dessert was amazing, texture, taste, undertones of Jameson. Perfection.

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Irish Soda Bread Pudding with Jameson Caramel Sauce

Irish Soda Bread Pudding

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ Tsp. ground cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. melted butter (slightly cooled)
  • 3 Tbsp. Jameson’s Irish whiskey (as I always say, generous tablespoons)
  • Drizzle of Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • A generous 6 cups of 3/4-inch cubed Irish Soda Bread

1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, spices and salt. Whisk in the milk, continuing until all the ingredients are well-combined and the sugar is dissolved. Whisk the Jameson and melted butter until just combined. Add the cubed bread, pressing down to submerge it into the milk mixture, and set aside to soak for around 30-40 minutes (minimum). By that point, most of the liquid should be absorbed.

2.  Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C).

3.  Grease a 9″x9″ baking pan.

4.  Pour the bread cube/custard mixture into the prepared pan.

5.  Drizzle Bailey’s Irish cream over bread mixture right before entering the oven.

6.  Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Best served warm with Jameson caramel sauce and an Irish coffee.

Jameson Caramel Sauce

  • 1 ½ cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. Irish whiskey
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk, divided

1. Combine sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Heat until sugar is dissolved.

2. Turn heat up and allow the sugar to boil. DO NOT stir if you can help it – swirl the pot around a bit. Boil for about 5-7 minutes until caramel turns a deep bronze. This happens very quickly and goes from caramel to burnt in a matter of seconds.

3. Shut off the heat and carefully add the vanilla, 1/3 cup milk, and whiskey. It will bubble up violently, so stand back!

4. Turn heat back on to medium and let boil, stirring occasionally until the caramel is smooth. Add the remaining milk and stir to combine. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

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Pear-fict Mini Rustic Tarts

One of my new years resolutions is to tackle (and maybe master) rustic tarts. I’m talking ground up. From that amazing crumbly buttery crust to the delectable filling.

My first attempt of the year was a rustic bourbon pear tart. If anyone is craving some pure earthy rustic goodness (with a little smokey bourbon kick) make this today.

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As for my first attempt at a tart crust I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t that far from my goal of tart crust heaven. The recipe (CRUST ONLY) was thanks to Sweet Fine Day. I will confess I have never made scratch crust before. The horror stories of the complication of a pie crust left me running for the refrigerator section poking that famous giggling dough boy.  Unfortunately our favorite sugar-rushed cartoon doesn’t make the crumbly, heavenly crust I’m determined to master. As far as I know scratch is the only way to go.  Do not be afraid to try this recipe. If you can manage your way around a typical scratch recipe you can handle this.

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As for the filling, I found this absolutely scrumptious rustic bourbon pear filling thanks to Design Sponge (FILLING ONLY).
For those that know me I doubled the bourbon, other than that minor change follow the directions as listed. Assemble the pie (lay out the pear slices pretty if you feel so inclined) bake as directed and enjoy a pure rustic symphony of flavor. These tarts actually get better a day or 2 after baking. The flavors really meld and intensify making for a truly earthy treat.

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Rustic Tart in a Rustic Cabin

A goal of mine while away on our weekend in the woods was to bake. Non-stop baking weekend to be specific. Unfortunately, sleeping in was secret priorty number one, and being lazy together was goal #2. I did manage to get a few things in the oven including this very simple (minor-ly labor intensive) rustic plum pie.

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Recipe thanks to Love and Cupcakes. The most laborious part was cutting and placing all the slices of plums. Frankly, if that’s the biggest thing to whine about this is truly an easy peasy dessert that looks stunning and tastes just as beautiful. Second hardest part is waiting for it to bake.

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For a Snowy (Blizzardy) Day

As most of the United States knows by now the North East just got clobbered with a large amount of snow. 6″ to 30″+  depending on location. My little part of the world received roughly 14″. The best part of snow and being snowed in is

1. playing in the snow

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and 2. Hot Cocoa.

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I happened upon this rather scrumptious (and very easy) recipe for white hot chocolate cupcakes from Betty Crocker. Claiming I “loosely followed” this recipe is an understatement, I substituted Super Moist Milk Chocolate cake for the specified White Cake.

The frosting created it’s own headache. I was not that successful in melting the white chocolate. Creating a lumpy half melted mess however, I was very successful with. To fix the problem I added dark chocolate and 100% cocoa chocolate. Adding the additional darker chocolates helped to smooth everything out and created a delicious not too sweet frosting.

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Lastly the roasted marshmallows were a bit of a pain to remove from the pan. Consider yourselves warned. Perhaps placing them on tin foil or another bendable surface will help to remove them a bit better.

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Finally if you didn’t just get dumped on with crazy awesome amounts of snow this recipe would be perfect as a post Valentines Day dinner chocolatey treat.

Pumpkins, Bats and Witches Hats

So a few years ago I impulsively purchased a set of fall inspired linzer tart cookie cutters. (Lets face it I’m a sucker for anything fall) They then sat in my drawer until a few weeks ago when I finally decided today’s the day to make some deliciously fall cookie sandwiches.

The recipe was from The Joy of Baking  and it was pretty good. I used apple butter rather than jam to make them a little more Fallish in flavor.

I also got to use my new flour sifter for the finishing touch of powdered sugar.

My favorite part of the cookie cutters is all the different fall inspired shapes including witches hats, black cats, bats, owls, pumpkins, and ghosts.

Just like Two Kids in Love

Time for a little lovey dovey super simple date night idea. Since The Fiance and myself are basically on opposite schedules most days we cherish a night together, especially one that receives the coveted title of “Date Night”.

There’s no reason Date Night needs to mean little black dress fancy restaurant and dropping easily $100 for one romantic evening together. Sometimes you want to behave like two little school kids, complete with mac and cheese and blanket forts.

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That’s right it was a pj totin’, “Goonies” watchin’, blanket fort buildin’ kind of date. (Really is there any better movie to watch in a blanket fort than “The Goonies”?) Building balnket forts as adults is basically a million billion times cooler than 6 year old blanket fort building mainly because couches can be turned on end and moved around for optimal fort awesomeness. We also incorporated Christmas lights for a more romantic ambiance.

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The Mac and Cheese was probably the best home made style I’ve ever had. Recipe was thanks to Pottery Barn. I highly recommend you all to give it a whirl. The cheeses I used included Parmigiano Reggiano, Gouda, Montery Jack, and White Cheddar. I also used French’s Dijion Mustard with Chardonnay Wine, I secretly think that mustard choice added the amazing flavor.

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It was probably one of the best dates the two of us ever had. No cares, no worries, just an excellent youthful movie and a kid favorite all grown up dinner. Did I mention dessert was brownie sundaes with rainbow sprinkles?

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Yeah that’s right. We don’t mess around in this house. I highly recommend a regress-ful date night (or afternoon). Acting like a kid is some of the most fun an adult can ever have. And best part of blanket forts in your own grown up apartment? No “Dad” shows up at 5 from work saying “alright, looks like you had fun today now take it down.” That sucker was up for easily a week of enjoyment.

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Nature’s candy in my hand or can or a pie… or pastry

I recently had some of my girlfriends over for an evening of Sangria, tapas and some much needed catching up. The sangria was flowing, the tapas were delicious but the dessert, a peach pastry, was fabulous.

Recipe was from Martha (love her) and rather easy for even the most unskilled of chefs. A pack of phyllo dough, some brown sugar, butter, and of course fresh peaches (Jersey grown is preferred) is all you need to impress your guests.

Add some vanilla ice cream for serving and there ya have it! A peaches and cream summer scrumptious dessert to enjoy.

Banoffee Pie Anyone?

Well folks, it’s finally here. The Olympics. (Or ‘Lympics as I lovingly call it.) I guess my admiration of the elite games can be thanks to my Father who is an avid runner, cyclist, cross country skier, and all around active guy. He always made time to watch the games, and include us kids,  for as long as I can remember. My favorite summer sport is Women’s Gymnastics (YAY USA GOLD! WOO!). I was a little die hard obsessed back in 6th grade when the 1996 Atlanta games rolled in with the Magnificent Seven (yes I hung their newspaper pictures all over my room, knew all their names and back stories and was beyond crushed when the VHS tape didn’t record Kerri Strug’s winning/injuring vault. It was all squibbly and snow covered. 11 year old me was devastated to say the least.)

So, anyway, due to my die-hard ‘Lympic spirit we had a few close friends over Opening Ceremonies night to ring in the latest games. We embraced the London spirit with Fish and Chips, New Castle beers, Snake Bites (what all the cool kids in the London pubs drink), and Banoffee Pie. Oh Banoffee Pie, my new love.

Snake Bites, is something my Sister, who studied abroad in London for a semester, introduced me to. I will confess I’m not a beer drinker. (And I confess this with the heaviest of hearts.) For you non beer drinkers like me, this drink is the tastiest beer you’ll ever have and super simple to make. Half a bottle of lager (New Castle Brown Ale), half a bottle of hard cider (Angry Orchard) and if you want to really fancy it up a splash of Squash. Hands down the tastiest beer I’ve ever had.

Now, for the main event. Banoffee Pie. Oh you British seductress you. I was searching for a classic English dessert to serve my guests. This Banoffee Pie thing continued to come up throughout my searching. Having never heard of it, I read on. Basically it’s an AMAZINGLY delicious pie which is also SUPER easy to make. I started baking as “Afghanistan” entered the stadium and finished (and ready to eat) before  “Madagascar” was announced, not too shabby.

Recipe by Curtis Stone. It’s a no bake pie (score one for perfect Summer recipe) and to make the recipe even easier may I suggest a pre-made graham cracker pie crust?  I found that 1 pint of heavy cream and everything else called out in the recipe was enough for 2 regular sized pies. I also American’d it up with a chocolate cookie crust, as well as the traditional graham crust.

So happy I took a shot in the dark on this strange named pie. It is absolutely delicious and magically easy. I’m right with Keira Knightly with her “you would have broken my heart if you said yes” comment, “Love Actually” anyone? One of my favorite movies. (I will confess I always thought she was saying felafel pie, not that that makes any sense but a much more familiar word than “Banoffee”.) With out a doubt my new favorite pie.