Friday, March 30, 2012

Lesson #120: Rhubarb Crumb Cake Muffins

Justin LOVES, LOVES, LOVES rhubarb, so I'm sure there will be no shortage of rhubarb recipes on my blog. Since I was in the breakfast mood this week, I decided to make rhubarb muffins with a crumb cake top. These were so good that I had to freeze some of them so we didn't eat them all in one day!

The cake is fluffy, tangy buttermilk cake with a ton of diced rhubarb. It isn't too sweet because the crumb topping is a mixture of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and melted butter. The muffins take a bit longer than cupcakes to bake, so I would recommend checking them often. You would hate to under-bake these muffins because the rhubarb would be soggy in the middle.

LESSON LEARNED: Place a liberal amount of the crumb topping on the muffins before they bake. Some of it sinks into the muffin so it will look pretty bare if you don't use enough.

Recipe for Rhubarb Crumb Cake Muffins

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lesson #119: Strawberry Scones with Meyer Lemon Glaze

I've decided that I've been seriously lacking on making breakfast treats. I first made these scones a few years ago back in Arizona to take to a neighborhood coffee. They went over VERY well, so dug the recipe out to make these again.

Needless to say, they were again well received. I took some to my mom's work and my grandma's house. Everyone who tried one of these had good things to say. These breakfast biscuits were light & fluffy and studded with diced fresh strawberries. I topped off the scones (not that they needed it because they were super moist) with a Meyer lemon glaze. I got super excited when I saw a whole bag of Meyer lemons super cheap in the grocery store (gotta love the low prices in Toledo!), so that's the real reason why I made this glaze.

LESSON LEARNED: These are best enjoyed the day they are baked. You can mix up the dough, cut it out, and freeze the disks ahead of time. You can bake them straight from the freezer!

Recipe for Strawberry Scones with Meyer Lemon Glaze

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lesson #118: Baked Apple Dumplings

For one week during the summer, you will find me working at my brother's concession stand at our local county fair. One of the biggest sellers are apple dumplings. Because of certain restrictions on what they are allowed to sell, the ones we use are frozen from a large chain store. They are OK (but nothing to get excited about if you are a foodie), so I decided to make my own version. These are heads and tails above the ones we sell at the fair. :)

Golden delicious apples are cut in half horizontally and stuffed with butter and raisins. The apples are wrapped around a pillow-y buttermilk biscuit dough which is sprinkled liberally with cinnamon & sugar. The apples are perfectly tender and surrounded by a soft tangy and slightly sweet dough. I would recommend making these just because they make your house smell WONDERFUL!

LESSON LEARNED: To make these fancy enough to serve to guests (or just yourself), drizzle a little caramel or butterscotch syrup on the plate.

Recipe for Baked Apple Dumplings

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lesson #117: Root Beer Float Cupcakes

I decided the combine the idea of a root beer float with a cupcake. Since I've made cherry cola cupcakes before, I thought this would be a fun idea for a cupcake. Boy, I was right!

I substituted root beer for some of the milk in my favorite vanilla cake recipe, topped the cupcakes with a slightly sweet whipped cream, and garnished with a cherry. I'll definitely be bringing these back during summer grilling season!

LESSON LEARNED: These are best enjoyed the same day they are baked. Even in the refrigerator, the whipped cream becomes "deflated" after half a day.

Recipe for Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lesson #116: Mini Molten Lava Cakes

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I went on a week long cruise to the Caribbean. While I wasn't too impressed with the food on the ship, I did enjoy the molten chocolate cakes served with dinner. One night last week I had an intense craving for chocolate, so I looked around in our pantry and discovered we had all the ingredients to make these cakes.

At first I wasn't sure that this recipe would work out. I had to scale back the quantity from the recipe I had and I wanted to try to flip the cake out of the dish onto a plate without breaking. Well, it turns out that you need a little finesse and patience to succeed. The first time I baked one of these cakes, I couldn't wait the five minutes of cooling before removing the cake from the dish, so it totally broke open and I had chocolate "lava" everywhere! :)

Fortunately, the next day, when I baked up another cake I waited and it turned out perfectly. It still tasted just as good as the night before, so don't worry if they break open!

PS - I broke open these cakes on purpose so I could show you the chocolate lava!

LESSON LEARNED: You can mix up the batter for these cakes and refrigerate them for a few days before baking. Just add a few minutes onto the baking time!

Recipe for Mini Molten Lava Cakes

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lesson #115: Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream

My husband and I are moving at the end of the week, so over the past few weeks I've been trying to use up the odds and ends in my freezer and refrigerator. I realized that I had some leftover cake in the freezer from making these parfaits, so it was the perfect excuse to try this ice cream recipe.

Pieces of yellow butter cake are tossed with a honey butterscotch sauce and then folded into a vanilla ice cream. It definitely brought me back to the days of eating birthday cake with a scoop of ice cream - except it's all in one DELICIOUS bite!

 LESSON LEARNED: Be aware that adding the butterscotch sauce will alter the texture of this ice cream. As you add more sauce, the texture becomes slightly icy, so it's not as perfectly smooth and creamy as some ice cream recipes I post. It still tastes yummy though!

Recipe for Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lesson #114: Sassy Shamrock Sugar Cookies

I think that I use holidays and seasons as an excuse to work on my cookie decorating skills. This time around I tried to free hand some shamrocks with royal icing. Some of them looked a little off (those didn't get their picture taken!) and some of them were I decided to call them sassy shamrock sugar cookies.

LESSON LEARNED: No matter what these cookies look like, they still taste good!

Recipe for My Favorite Cutout Sugar Cookies

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lesson #113: Shamrock Shake

I've been seeing commercials for Shamrock milkshakes, so I thought I would make one at home. You could definitely start with a store bought ice cream and blend it with peppermint extract, green food coloring, and milk. I decided to go the homemade route by making a fresh mint ice cream (with no extract!), hot fudge sauce, and freshly whipped cream. I did add a touch of green food coloring so it would be pretty for the picture and look more like the one on TV.

I would describe the flavor as an earthly mint instead of a "hit you in the face" mint found in extracts. To me, it tasted fresh and clean, but my husband still prefers the extract. The milkshake would be equally YUMMY either way you make it!

LESSON LEARNED: Looking for the correct ratio of ice cream to milk? I've found that if you use 2 parts ice cream to 1 part milk, the result is a creamy and thick milkshake.

Recipe for Shamrock Shake

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lesson #112: Butterfinger Rice Krispie Treats

Combining Butterfinger candy bars and rice krispies into one delicious dessert? Yes, please! The rice krispie treats are made with melted marshmallows, peanut butter, and chopped Butterfinger candy bars. On top, I melted milk chocolate and topped with more candy. These are so fun and super DELICIOUS!

LESSON LEARNED: Cut these into bars first and then sprinkle with chocolate/candy. You will get an even distribution on top and they are less messy to cut.

Recipe for Butterfinger Rice Krispie Treats

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lesson #111: Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

These bars quickly became one of the favorite desserts I made last week. They have 3 distinct layers which come together to form an additively good treat. The first layer is a crispy cereal layer which is held together by a sugary syrup. The second layer is a combination of creamy peanut butter and milk chocolate. The third layer is rich dark chocolate. One of the great things about this recipe is that there aren't too many ingredients and doesn't take too long to put together. The longest part is waiting for the bars to chill so you can cut them!

LESSON LEARNED: Serve these bars in small pieces because they are pretty rich!

Recipe for Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lesson #110: Bread for Busy People

Do you love fresh baked bread? Do you not have much time to make it? I've found the perfect recipe for you :) It's quick, easy, and doesn't require a special mixer. If you have 5 minutes to mix up and gather ingredients, then you have time to make this bread.

Here's the lowdown on how to do it. Gather flour, yeast, salt, and lukewarm water. Mix these together in a bowl just until combined. Loosely cover the bread and let it rise for 2 hours. If you aren't going to bake it right away, cover it and place it in the refrigerator up to two weeks. When you are ready to bake it, grab a handful of dough, shape it, and let it sit on the counter while preheating the oven. Finally, you bake it and let it cool.

The recipe makes enough for 4 large loaves, so you could mix it up on the weekend and have fresh-baked bread during the week with dinner. If you want rolls, make smaller loaves and cook them for less time. If you want whole-wheat bread, substitute some of the white flour for whole wheat. It's really that SIMPLE! Check out the results below.

LESSON LEARNED: This bread tastes even better after the dough has been refrigerated for a few days. The flavor develops to become slightly tangy.

Recipe for Bread for Busy People

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lesson #109: Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

After my last attempt at making a layer cake, I decided to try again. I would not be defeated by a simple layer cake! This time, I decided to make a tripe chocolate layer cake: dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate filling, and white chocolate buttercream. Could you tell that I was craving chocolate that day?

Since my husband and I didn't need a whole cake, I decided to half the cake recipe but use the full filling and frosting recipes. I ended up with two 6 inch cakes instead of two 9 inch cakes and A TON of frosting and filling. Just FYI, this is still too much cake for two people! I froze slices of cake until I can give it away to friends and family in Toledo.

I think it was a huge improvement from last time! Hurray!

LESSON LEARNED: The filling needs ample time to set up in the refrigerator. I didn't wait long enough and some of the filling spilled out of the cake. It still tasted good though!

Recipe for Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
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