Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

 

Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

Russ saw me making these bars the other day, grinned and said, “I LOVE baking season!”. Lol. He certainly does. Him, the boys, and I admit to a fondness for it myself. It’s funny; the rest of the year, I’m not as big on making cookies. I’m more of a quick bread, yeast bread sort of baker The whole plopping cookie dough down, or cutting, shaping, etc, drives me nuts. I shamefully confess that my attention span is that of a four year old in many ways and standing or sitting still to get something repetitive done isn’t a favored pastime. But at Christmas I’m all about the cookies.

The standing long enough to shape or roll though is exactly why I love bar cookies πŸ˜€ I get the dough in a pan, top with whatever if that is part of it, bake, cut, eat. What could be easier, right? These are delicious. Not really the type you’d put on a cookie tray though, so don’t use them for that. These are the ones you put out with the rest of the desserts. They are large, hearty bars, meant to be eaten with a fork.

Kind of still on topic, do you have your tree up yet? This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had a real tree. I grew up with fakes ones, used them my whole life, but Russ decided this year that he wanted aΒ  real one. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think I had this vague expectation that the house would suddenly smell all Christmasy and piney. But *sobs* it doesn’t. It’s like having a fake tree in the house, but we have to keep it watered. It IS prettier than the fake tree we had, though. That one had seen better days and I’m pretty sure the mice had attacked it when it was stored in the garage.

Back to the cookies *as she rushes from one topic to the next like a crazed caffeine fueled toddler*, these are fantastic and as I said, perfect for the holiday dessert mix. The crust and topping are similar to a cakey sugar cookie, filled with a sweet and tangy mixture of berry pie filling and chocolate chips. Sugar cookie, fruit, chocolate. Do I even NEED to say more? Seriously; make these. They are wonderful, plus the fact that they use canned pie filling pushes them into the easy category as well, which is always a plus, especially this time of year. *I adapted this from a recipe on the BHG site*

Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temp
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract, divided
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 21 ounce cans of your favorite pie filling- I used cherry and strawberry (you won’t use all of the second can)
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Glaze-
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond (or vanilla) extract mixed with
  • 2 teaspoons half and half or milk (you may need a touch more cream to get the consistency glaze you like; start with this)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, on low speed, beat together the butter and shortening. Add in the sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of the almond extract and beat well.
  3. Still using the mixer on low *unless you enjoy being covered with flying flour*, carefully beat in 2 cups of the flour. Get a heavy wooden spoon and use that to mix in that last cup of flour.
  4. Scoop out and set aside 1 1/2 cups of the dough. Press the rest into the bottom of a 15×10 inch baking pan. I find the easiest way to do this with sticky dough is to dump it all in the pan, then lightly flour my fingers to press the dough in, repeating the flouring as needed.
  5. Bake the dough at 350 for 12 minutes. it will be just starting to turn a pale brown at the edges.
  6. While it bakes, stir the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract into the pie filling.
  7. After taking the crust out, carefully spread with desired amount of pie filling. I used about 1 1/2 cans. One can isn’t enough; two is a bit too much. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, then dollop spoonfuls of the remaining cookie dough evenly over the fruit filling.
  8. Continue baking at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown.
  9. Let cool for an hour, then glaze. The glaze is easy peasy. Just whisk together the glaze ingredients, adding more milk if you want it thinner and drizzle desired amount over the pan of bars. When totally cool, slice into squares.

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Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

Glazed Double Berry Sugar Cookie Bars

 

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28 Delicious Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving Leftovers) Recipes for 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 2

It’s that time again; time for the annual Thanksgiving post. After almost 6 years of blogging, I have accumulated quite a few recipes that work in this category, so I have to cull some out so as to not end up with a post with 50 different additions. πŸ˜›

Let’s start with entrees. Because…turkey…ham. Yummy. πŸ˜€

This Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Glazed Ham is my absolute favorite way to make a ham. The ham turns out so moist and tender with such a delicious sweet/salty flavor you’ll keep coming back for.Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Ham-001This Sesame Soy Turkey Breast is fantastic if you’re a cook who’s willing to leave the traditional box a bit on Thanksgiving. This glaze can also be used on a whole turkey, a chicken, game hen, you name it.

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

Sesame Soy Turkey Breast

I know that a lot of families like to serve a pasta dish as one of the main dishes so I’m including our favorite, this Cheesy Sausage And Meatball Pasta Bake. This makes a LOT, so it’s perfect for Thanksgiving, when a lot of people are there, with everyone getting as little bit of each dish.Cheesy Meatball And Sausage Pasta BakeLet’s move on to appetizers; those little bits you put out to keep everyone from storming the kitchen begging for food. πŸ˜›Β  One of my favorite easy dips (and when I say easy, I mean it) is my White Trash Dip. I know; such a classy name, lol. But it is great for appeasing the hungry mongrel hordes and quick to throw together, which is always a plus on Thanksgiving.
White Trash Dip
I have adored Boursin Cheese for years, but man, that stuff is expensive for the small amount you get. So I started making my own years ago. This is soooo good and always a hit. It’s creamy, great with veggies like celery sticks as well as crackers. If you have any left over, it also makes a great stuffing for chicken breasts.

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Ahhhh, side dishes. What would Thanksgiving be without 50 side dishes to serve with the turkey and ham? One of my all time most popular posts here at From Cupcakes To Caviar is my Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac And Cheese. This makes a HUGE pan of mac and cheese, so it’s perfect for the holidays.Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & CheeseYou can’t have turkey without mashed potatoes, right?
I was never a mashed potato fan until I made up these Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes. I totally love these. They are creamy, buttery (boy, are they buttery) and with a subtle tang from the cream cheese.

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

If you want to go a little different, you can’t beat these Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables. The potatoes and veggies get all crispy on the outside and all soft and tender inside. So, so good.

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

I was never a cold pasta salad sort of a person until I made up this Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad a few years ago. It’s great during the holidays for people who may want something a little lighter (and with no meat in it, lol) but still full of flavor.Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad
I have a major thing for Winter squashes. To me, they stand so far above the ubiquitous Summer squashes. I took one of my favorites here and stuffed it to come up with Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries. This is a fantastic addition to the holiday meal or a great light entree on it’s own.

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce, right? While I admit to a secret love for the kind that slithers out of the can with a loud plop, I also love homemade cranberry sauce and make a large batch every year. My Spiced Spiked Cranberry Sauce is a perfect foil for all the rich dishes you’ll be serving. The brandy is completely optional so don’t let that turn you away from it. Spiced Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Now we come to the breads. I’m not normally a big one for breads, but hot and fresh on the holidays? I tend to go for them more at that time. And these Angel Biscuits have become a family favorite. Since they have baking powder in them as well as yeast, they are fairly foolproof, which is great for the less experienced cooks out there.

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

The rolls I have been making for years are these Oatmeal Yeast Rolls. They are so fluffy and soft; perfect hot spread with butter or later as a mini turkey sandwich (Yes, I know this is a bad photo. The post is an old one, when my photography skills were sub-par, to say the least. The rolls however, are amazingly good)

Oatmeal Rolls

Oatmeal Rolls

I love to make a few loaves of bread for Thanksgiving as well as rolls. They are so good with dinner and make fantastic sandwiches the next day. I particularly love to make my Loaded Baked Potato Bread, The flavors in it go wonderfully with a turkey sandwich!

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Here in the south, a lot of people like to make cornbread to go with dinner, even on the holidays. My Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread is a favorite. It’s fluffy, not at all dry like so many cornbreads can be, with just a touch of sweetness.

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Then, of course, we have the part of dinner that everyone looks forward to; dessert! And man, you know I have some desserts to share with you! I have to start with the classics, of course, so here is my favorite- my Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie. This one is posted with a really good cornmeal crust, but you can use your favorite crust. Just make sure it’s a deep dish one. Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie In A Cornmeal Crust
That pumpkin pie tends to be my husbands favorite. Mine however will always be Pecan Pie. I love it slightly warmed with heavy cream poured over it. So bad for me, but so delicious!Deep Dish Pecan Pie

The last few years, my favorite pecan pie has had to vie with this Cranberry Apple Cake. I can’t say enough good things about this cake. It’s absolutely delicious and I can’t imagine the Thanksgiving meal without it now. It’s sweet, tangy, crispy, just a wonderful dessert that I look forward to all year.

Cranberry Apple Cake

Cranberry Apple Cake

If you want a classic (not to mention, heavenly chocolate goodness πŸ˜€ ) you’ll want to make this wonderful Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing This is a favorite with pretty much all age groups, and even those people who say Thanksgiving should be all about the pies. I’m not even normally a cake person and I love it!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

If you want to do a different apple dessert, my Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce would be a great choice. It’s easy to throw together the day before you need it and then just warm up the sauce when ready to cut and serve. Again, I’m not huge on cakes, which is why if you see me posting one, you know it MUST be good.

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

Or maybe you prefer a classic apple dessert? I find myself going for this Old Fashioned Apple Crisp all year round, but it’s a delicious choice on Thanksgiving!Old Fashioned Apple Crisp 2

I have a couple of desserts for you that are a bit more elegant, plus not as heavy. The first is one I love; my Elegant And Easy Lemon Almond Cake. This cake is light and filled with the flavor of almond and lemon; perfect for the family members who want a little something for dessert, but don’t want the heavier sweets.

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

The other one is one of my more recent creations- these Skillet Pears With Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce. These are wonderful if you have a smaller gathering. The pears end up tender and juicy and the caramel sauce is fantastic.Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce 9

So, what to do with leftovers once Thanksgiving is over? When you tire of just making a plate of leftovers, I have some things you can do with some of them. If the title says chicken, obviously you can sub in that leftover turkey staring you in the face.

We love Mexican food in my house. Yes, I know that much of what we all call Mexican food has been totally Americanized, but it’s still delicious, so who cares? One of my family’s favorites are these Cheesy Chicken (Turkey) And Chorizo Enchiladas. They have the perfect mix of creamy, spicy and cheesy. I make them all year round, but they are a perfect way to use up leftovers.Cheesy Chicken And Chorizo Enchiladas 2

Everyone makes soup after Thanksgiving. But I have one here that doesn’t need to have you simmering stock for hours on end. I can eat a boatload of my Quick And Easy Turkey, Bacon And Cheese Chowder. This is comfort food at its best and it doesn’t have to cook for hours.Quick & Easy Turkey, Bacon & Cheese Chowder

Along the Mexican lines again, I almost always make a pan of White Chicken (Turkey) Enchiladas in the week after Thanksgiving. These are soooo darn good and everyone scarfs them down.

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

You may still have some turkey left even after those (I know I will; I always buy too much!) so my Cheaters Easy Chicken (Turkey) And Dumplings never fails me. It’s warming, comforting and filling and tastes great!

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

If you have leftover cranberry sauce (and you know you will), make a loaf of my Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. It’s an easy way to use up some of those leftovers and it makes a yummy breakfast or light snack.Easy Pumpkin Cranberry Breadthanksgiving

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

I, like so many people, have always had a fascination with the Amish lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle because, while I have read a good amount about their religion and respect 9and even agree) with a lot of it, it seems to be more than JUST a religion, but a lifestyle also. Especially in this day and age where so many of the Amish are forced by necessity to interact in the modern world, yet still choose to stay true to a life that forbids many of the things we all take for granted. There was a time in my life when I seriously considered trying to find a way to gain entrance into their world, but I came to realize that while I’m far less “modern” than many I know, I’m still probably too “of the world” to survive happily living as they do.

That said, I do, however, love what is considered the typical form of Amish cooking. Is what we do out here that is called Amish 100% accurate? I’ll probably never know. But it’s easy to find some foods that claim to be of the Amish spirit, at the very least. Add that into that category. Homey and comforting, using home canned goods (preferably) like my Spiced Apple Butter, generally made to feed a lot of people, and delicious. This recipe covers all those bases πŸ˜€ I adapted an old Amish apple butter bar recipe I had and this is what I ended up with.

These bars are utterly delicious. You have a streusel style crust covered with a rich cheesecake style later, then topped with large dollops of apple butter and more streusel. You go from sweet and creamy to crunchy and nutty to tart and fruity in each bite of these. They are perfect for the family and after school snacks, perfect for a potluck or church dinner and great for a family dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You know the drill… πŸ˜€

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, (10 minutes, 350 oven)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks ( 1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups apple butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and butter the foil or spray it with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix in the butter, combining until it is a crumbly mass and no dry flour mixture remains.
  3. Set aside 1and 1/2 cups of the streusel and then press the rest of the streusel firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the crust is just a light golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, make your filling- in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and blend just until combined. Beat in the eggs just until well combined. Sprinkle the flour/cinnamon mix over the top and stir that into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. When the crust is ready, pour the cream cheese batter over the top of the crust and smooth. Evenly dollop the apple butter over the cream cheese filling, then use a spoon or butter knife to gently swirl it into the filling. Sprinkle the reserved streusel over the top.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely. You can cut if then, but I found it slices better if chilled. Either way, cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated for storage.

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce 9

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Every year, I look forward to this season. Fall and I are good friends. It allows me to breathe like a relatively normal person and I…well, other than gush its praises, I’m not sure what I do for it, but we’re BFF’s nonetheless. I THINK *I say this with fingers crossed and a furtive prayer that I’m not proved wrong* that Summer is finally over here in Kentucky. And that, my friends, makes me oh so happy. We live on ten acres of land and my asthma makes outdoor time difficult for me in the Summer. So, I stay inside and look longingly at our woods and imagine myself sitting in the front yard, under our at least one hundred year old maple tree with a book. Now, I can go outside and see what my Fig tree is doing, see if the pecan tree has grown at all and just go into the woods and breathe deep. There is nothing like the scents in the woods during Autumn.

I also love the foods of Autumn, in case you’ve missed that in the last five and a half years πŸ˜› One that I feel doesn’t get enough Autumn love is pears. They are wonderful most of the year, but right now, they lean more towards fantastic. So when I saw the base for this recipe in a C.I. cookbook, I had to make it. BUT… and here is where it is no surprise because I have said these words about 900 times in the last years, I had to change it up. I wanted it to have more of a Fall-ish (yes, that is now a word. I said so.) flavor. Plus, I like a bit of butter in my caramel which theirs didn’t have. So, what did I do? Besides adding butter, I added some warm Autumn spices and some orange zest to the caramel. Those changes, plus some vanilla extract, took this from good but ordinary to outstanding. The tender pears covered in caramel, that is itself sweet, creamy and with the subtle flavors of Fall, was wonderful. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the it, because ice cream, and it took this completely over the top.

Don’t be nervous over the idea of caramel sauce. This one is quite easy and the whole dish takes just one pan.

You know the drill… get to cooking! <3

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

  • 3 ripe (but not mushy) pears. I used Barlett because it’s a wonderful all around pear.
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could sub about 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, in which case add it in at the same time you add the vanilla)
  1. Slice and core the three pears and set aside. In a large skillet (I used my cast iron. Just cooking in it feels rustic and Autumnish), pour the water. Add the sugar to the middle of the pan. Gently stir to make sure all of the sugar is wet, then turn the heat to medium high. Add in the vanilla extract, spices and salt and give it another gentle stir.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
  3. Add the pears, cut side down, to the bubbling sugar (be careful not to splatter on yourself!) and cook until the pears are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. While it cooks, add the butter and orange zest (if using instead of orange extract) to the heavy cream and microwave for about 90 seconds or just until barely hot to the touch.
  5. When the pears are tender, slowly pour the cream around the pears. Give the pan a gentle shake to help mix it and continue to cook until the sauce is a light golden brown color, about five minutes.
  6. Then, you can either serve the pears straight from the pan (which is what I did. I just moved some to a smaller pan for the photo, lol) or transfer them to individual plates and serve with sauce puddled around them. No matter how you serve them, sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon and grate some extra orange zest over the top.

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Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

 

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Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppy Seed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppy Seed Gooey Butter Bars

It was 80 some degrees out yesterday. I turned the oven on ANYWAY. I need to be committed. During the time that these bars baked, the temp in the house went up to approximately 426 degrees. No, really. Would I lie? Next week, it is supposed to get down to the high 70’s during the day and the low 60’s at night. I can’t EVEN begin to explain my excitement over possibly being able to open the windows and sleep at night with real air, not recycled. Think prepubescent girl going to see her favorite boy band type of excited. Then double it.

These bars made the melting of all my skin layers worth it though. I have a major love for shortbread crusts on cookies ANYWAY (for whatever odd reason, they make me think of Christmas. Don’t ask. I dunno.), and the crust on these bars is sooo buttery, so crispy/crumbly, just the way a good shortbread should be. Add on a gooey, creamy topping filled with the flavors of lemon and butter, with the crunch of poppyseeds and I was in Heaven. Warning though; you notice the slightly grayish cast my bars have? I think I let my poppyseed love go a bit too far. These still taste fantastic which is why I’m posting them anyway, rather than remake them to have a better color for a photo, but yeah… a bit gray. So, in the directions, I am cutting them down a tablespoon. Feel free to add back in another tablespoon if you don’t mind the color.

You know the drill…

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

  • Crust-
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Topping-
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil, then butter the foil or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients. Beat on low speed with a hand mixer until it holds together and resembles coarse crumbs. Dump this into the prepared pan and press all over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes, until it is a light golden brown.
  4. For the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, corn syrup, lemon zest, vanilla and lemon oil.
  5. In another small bowl, whisk together the flour and the poppy seeds.
  6. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended and creamy. Add in the egg and again beat until well combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mix, alternating with the lemon juice/corn syrup mixture. Beat until well mixed after each addition.
  8. Spread the mixture over the crust, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The top will be a light brown and the center will still have a very VERY slight jiggle. It will all firm up as it cools. You don’t want to overbake these as you’ll lose the whole gooey texture. They’ll still taste great, but they will be much firmer.
  9. When done, let cool in the pan until completely cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares. You can store these at room temp if you know they will be gone within a day or two. Any longer than that, and I’d suggest the fridge for storage.

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Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

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Baklava Cake

Baklava Cake

Baklava Cake

Back when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, yogurt was NOT the big money product it is now. It was just eaten by the earth mother types and hippies and people tended to look at you like you were crazy to be eating this runny soured stuff. I, of course, though neither an earth mother nor a hippie (a fact that I always mourned. Had I been born about 10 years earlier, I would totally have been a stupid teen at Woodstock or living near Haight Ashbury), loved yogurt. Not plain; I thought it was nasty. But give me a cherry Yoplait and I was in heaven. I recall my older sister warning my then husband to watch out for me or I’d exist solely on yogurt and granola bars. Yeah, my pattern of poor eating choices goes WAY back.

Now however, you can get so many different styles and/or flavors of yogurt that it boggles the mind. We always have at least a full shelf of yogurt here at our house and besides eating it as is (still no plain though; ick!), I love to use it in cooking. Regular style yogurt, Greek, plain, flavored, you name it, I’ll find a way to incorporate it into baking. Well, this time, I took a recipe I had had forever for a yogurt cake and messed with it. Because…me. This originally came from what used to be recipezaarΒ  and was a fair bit different. It had a syrup that was poured on it, which made me think of Baklava, one of my favorite desserts.Β  So I flavored the syrup to taste more like the one that gets poured over baklava and added more spice to the cake itself, as well as using a lemon yogurt in it to give another added layer of flavor.

This is a wonderfully moist cake. The syrups soaks in, flavoring it all and the cake itself has a wonderful taste, spiced and a bit lemony with a background hint of almond and vanilla. I served this with a simple vanilla yogurt I flavored. This isn’t the worlds prettiest cake, but it’s completely delicious. This is great for family, for a church potluck or a picnic, a family reunion. It would also be fantastic late at night with a glass of dry red wine. Is this exactly like Baklava? Of course not. There’s no phyllo, not a ton of chopped nuts, etc. But it reminds me of it, thus the name.

You know the drill… πŸ™‚

Baklava Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil (you can sub lemon extract, but you know how I feel about that stuff. Just break down and buy some lemon oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
  • 1 cup lemon Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds, divided
  • Syrup-
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • zest from two lemons, in strips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Yogurt topping-
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (it’s a bit too tart without it)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or oil a 13×9 inch baking pan.Then start your syrup so that it has time to cool- Simply combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium pot,Β stir to dissolve the sugar somewhat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let it gently boil for about 15 minutes. it will reduce some and thicken up, though it’s not very thick even then. When that’s done, set it off the heat to cool.
  2. For the cake- in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks, the extracts and the brandy. Beat on low speed until well combined.
  3. In a clean (preferably glass) bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set to the side for now.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. Add it to the butter mixture, alternating with the yogurt (flour, yogurt, flour, yogurt, flour), beating well after each addition.
  5. Gently fold in the egg whites and half the toasted almonds, then spread the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. When done, immediately (and carefully) pour the cooled syrup over the cake, letting it soak in as you pour. If you don’t want to use it all, it stores in the fridge well and is wonderful used in a cup of tea. Once the syrup has been poured on, sprinkle the top of the cake with the rest of the almonds.
  7. Let it cool completely and serve with a dollop of the yogurt topping, which you make by simply combining the topping ingredients in a small bowl; easy peasy.

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Simple Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Pssst. Remember me? I’ve been gone for a bit, but I’m back. I more or less took the Summer off because let’s be honest, you and I… who the heck wants to turn the oven on and do something like bake a loaf of bread, or make cookies or cupcakes, or things like that, when it’s 90 degrees outside? With my being primarily a baking blog, it made more sense to just rehash some delicious old stuff on my facebook page and wait out the heat. BUT… I couldn’t wait anymore. I missed all of you!! But I still can’t bring myself to turn on the oven, because Summer won’t take the %$#$%$%@ hint and go away. It’s 87 degrees outside as I type and our ancient, senile AC is whimpering trying to keep the house cool.

So, since I just HAD to come back (did I mention that I missed all of you!?), I played around with a nice cool, refreshing type of dessert. It uses mascarpone cheese and lemon curd as well as cream; three of my favorite ingredients. Add in a touch each of vanilla extract and lemon oil along with some crushed meringue cookies and there you have it (I also used some raspberries in here just because I wanted some color, but we’ll call that optional, if only because my brother has accused me of not being able to make a recipe with less than 12 ingredients :-P. This is so easy you could have your kids make it for a treat. It’s cool and refreshing, but don’t just relegate this to the hot months. I plan on enjoying this one this Winter, too. I made this in small glasses glasses, but you could also do these in tiny “shooter” glasses.

You know the drill… get to cookin’!

Simple Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

  • 8 ounce container of mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup good quality lemon curd (I used Trader Joes brand; it’s the closest to homemade I’ve found)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil or lemon extract
  • 1 container vanilla meringue cookies (I can’t say ounces, because they vary. Plan on using about 20 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, fold together the mascarpone, lemon curd and extracts until no streaks of white remain
  2. Carefully fold in the whipped cream; again until no streaks of white remain.
  3. Cover bowl and chill for about an hour.
  4. In small glasses, layer the lemon mixture, then a layer of coarsely crushed meringue cookies, then about 3 raspberries if you’re using them. Repeat the layers until you reach the top of the glass (small glasses will be about 2 layers).
  5. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with a layer of crushed meringue cookie and a raspberry or two.Β  Also, if you want the cookie to be a crisp layer, serve immediately after assembling, because they will soften up as these chill.

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Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

 

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Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

The guys and I went to visit my second oldest son Cameron and his wife Tiffany last week. They live in Tennessee with a mountain view and it’s so darn pretty it will make your eyeballs bleed.Β  No, I’m not sure why your eyeballs would bleed. Don’t pressure me for logic here. I have a headache.

But…while we were there, Cam made a yummy dinner one night of a smoked brisket and some homemade refrigerator pickles (recipe coming soon, since I swiped it from him). For dessert that night, we had a Smores Pie my daughter in law made (also recipe coming soon. it was SO good!) and I also whipped up a three berry and nectarine crisp. I made one similar to this last Summer, but this one was much better, I have to say. It wasn’t as sweet, I’ve perfected my streusel since then (If I do say so myself) and I omitted the lime cream I served with that one and we had it with ice cream. So, so delicious and seasonal. This also doesn’t use as many nectarines, but instead I upped the berries.

If you don’t like nectarines, go ahead and use peaches. I prefer nectarines myself because they aren’t fuzzy, making it unnecessary to peel the fruit (thus saving time and also adding a bit of fiber to the crisp), plus they tend to be sweeter and juicier. But you do you.

You know the drill…. at least you SHOULD know it after five years of hearing me say it. Get to cooking! πŸ˜€

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

 

  • Streusel-
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, refrigerator cold and sliced thin
  • Fruit filling-
  • 3 ripe nectarines, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 6 ounce carton fresh blackberries
  • 1 6 ounce carton fresh raspberries
  • 1 dry pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup – 2/3 cup sugar (if the fruit is nice and sweet, go for the lower amount)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 3 quart baking dish; preferably a glass one, as metal pans can react with the fruits and leave the filling with a grayish tinge, plus metal with fruit can have an off flavor.
  2. Make your filling- In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients except the vanilla. Stir thoroughly but gentle so as to not mash the berries. Sprinkle the vanilla over the top and carefully stir it in. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and make the streusel
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the streusel. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Get it barely cut in, then it’s easier if you use your fingers to finish. Just grab the streusel and kind of rub it between your fingers and thumb to help combine the ingredients. You want to end up with pieces ranging from pea sized to quarter sized.
  4. Note- do NOT use warm butter. The butter has to be cold for streusel to work. Otherwise, it all melts when baked rather than ending up as nice crunchy chunks.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the crisp. If you don’t want to use it all (but why not?), just freeze what you don’t use.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden brown and the fruit filling is thickened and bubbly, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Serve warm, preferably with a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp 1

 

 

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake


No more rain!!!! I have now 8 children and 72 cats lost in the grass that we can’t cut because it’s too wet! And I don’t HAVE that many kids or cats here at any other time. The grass is starting to look like something out of a Stephen King novel. At night, I see eerie glowing eyes out there and I’m pretty sure I heard a satanic voice calling to me. Of course, I hear that same voice telling me to eat entire pints of ice cream, so that may have been my imagination. Plus, it’s Summer vacation now and my seven year old is home and it’s difficult to tell him to go out and play if 1) I’m afraid of him joining the eerie crowd, and 2) what can he do outside other than get wet and covered in ticks. The ticks are LOVING this weather. We can’t cut down their hiding places and every time the boys go out, we have to do a tick check when they come back in.

On topic, I have long had a steamy love affair with Milano cookies. Don’t leave me in the sameΒ state room with the chocolate orange ones them or I’ll finish them off before Cookie Monster can say “back away from the cookies!” I saw a recipe for cookies and cream cheesecake. It was the typical Oreo cookie type, which is of course wonderful, but I wanted something more Summery, more refreshing and bright. What better for that then lemon, right? So I grabbed some Lemon Milanos (gosh, I love those things!) and using that recipe as my inspiration, came up with this one. I used a store bought graham cracker crust because lazy is my hobby, but feel free to make a homemade one. This cheesecake is simple as can be, slightly tart and refreshing and has a mild crunch from the cookie pieces in it and on top. It’s nice and creamy but not overwhelmingly rich and man, does it fill a pie crust! On a side note,Β  I would imagine you could use any flavor of Milanos you want in this; just omit the lemon zest if it doesn’t go with the flavors.

You know the drill…. πŸ˜›

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

  • 1 9 inch graham cracker or cookie crust
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (cut this down to 1 1/2 if you’re using a different flavor of Milanos)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed Lemon Milano cookies, plus more for garnish (buy two bags. You’ll have some left over. Hoard those for yourself πŸ™‚ )
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  2. In another bowl (preferably with the bowl sitting in the kitchen sink, unless you like being splattered to death with cream), on low speed with a hand mixer, beat the cream until slightly thickened, then turn the speed up to high and continue beating until firm peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then gently fold in the cookie
  4. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top. yes, it is very tall and yes, that’s a lot of filling. πŸ˜€
  5. Cover the pie lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to over night.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with more crumbled cookies. Cut this into small slices. It IS a tall pie, so you’re getting a lot in a small slice. You should be able to get 12 servings out of this easily.

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Honey Bun Cake

 

Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake

When my three older kids were little (they range from 30 to 26 now), we were stone broke. I’m talking momma eats the tail of the chicken and says that is enough for her so that there was enough for an extra meal for the kids kind of broke. Needless to say, store bought treats were a rare…well, treat for them. One of the things they loved was when I would spend 75 cents (yes, I’m old enough that that was how much they were) on a box of Little Debbie Honey Buns for them. My son Cameron, now 28, especially loved those and I’d have to hide them from him. Personally, I never liked them. Too sweet, too goopy, too relatively flavorless. Even back then, while I couldn’t afford it, I was an ice cream sort of a gal.

All that said, when I was at the library recently, I took out the book “Blue Ribbon Baking From A Red Neck Kitchen”. I mean, I live in rural Kentucky. How could I resist anything with that title, right? While I didn’t find a million recipes in it that interested me, I just had to tab the one for Honey Bun Cake. Just the name made me think of my kids when they were little, so it was a moral imperative that I make it. πŸ™‚

This is quite a bit better than the Little Debbie ones. It is still really sweet, but it’s a sweet with flavor due to the cinnamon and brown sugar, not just a generic sweetness that overwhelms and gives you a toothache or 9. The cake is moist with a crispy edge and is perfect for the kiddos. It’s also really nice with a cup of coffee. It goes together in like 5 minutes max and that’s if you’re slow. So make this for a nice last day of school snack or a family dessert or maybe even a sweet treat to start the day. I promise; you’ll like it. πŸ˜€

You know the drill….

Honey Bun Cake

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Filling-
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I didn’t use those)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (truthfully, I didn’t measure; just sprinkled it over the brown sugar straight from the jar)
  • Glaze-
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (she called for 1/2 cup but it was REALLY thin with that amount, so it needs cut down a bit)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 13X9 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together on medium speed the cake mix, eggs, melted butter and sour cream. Beat for about two minutes, until the batter is thick and creamy looking.
  3. Pour about 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Carefully dollop and spread the rest of the batter over the top. Do your best to get to the corners, but life will go on if you don’t have every inch covered. it will spread as it bakes.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze, which is simply a matter of whisking together the glaze ingredients. Not hard at all πŸ˜›
  6. While the cake is still hot, poke holes all over the top. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, spreading to try to get it down into the holes also.
  7. Let it finish cooling in the pan, then slice and serve.

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Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake