It’s a Funfetti Celebration!

soft bake funfetti sugar cookies

What a great weekend! My sister’s boyfriend surprised her with a trip to visit us for her birthday. He told her about it Wednesday night, they were on a plane 24 hours later and ENGAGED 24 hours after that! What a whirlwind!! It’s crazy how your life can change in a few short hours. Chelsey went from planning to spend the weekend hanging out in Atlanta, to being sent on the scavenger hunt of a lifetime that led her to a gorgeous cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where she would find her future husband waiting to propose. It was seriously one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever gotten to witness and I’m so grateful that he let us be a part of it.

DSC_0123

IMG_5082

Did I mention that on top of all of that fun it was also Chelsey’s birthday weekend? Lucky duck! I considered baking her a cake but Chelsey’s a little bit of an oddball when it comes to cake. The girl doesn’t like icing. I know, I know. Who doesn’t like icing? When she was little, our mom would bake her an icing-less funfetti cake straight from the box. And while a little bit of vanilla icing wouldn’t have hurt anyone, I have to admit, funfetti cake is pretty fabulous all by itself. Good call, Chelsey.

stack of funfetti cookies

funfetti cookies on cooling rack

So no, I wasn’t feeling a cake for this particular birthday celebration. Instead, I thought a few dozen Softbatch Funfetti Sugar Cookies would be even better! Chelsey loves sugar cookies, soft batch cookies, shortbread cookies and…you guessed it…funfetti. Naturally, these cookies were perfection for her. I sent her a photo of them as she boarded the plane and she sent me back an enthusiastic, “OMMMMGGGGGG!!!” I love welcoming people to our home with fresh baked goods. There’s just something about a plate of warm cookies waiting on the table to make people feel special and celebrated, and we had a lot to celebrate this weekend! Congratulations Chelsey and Seth!! We are all so excited for you to begin this new adventure together and can’t wait to celebrate this and all of your other special moments in life!

stack of funfetti cookies

Funfetti Cookies (makes approximately 28 cookies)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract (real vanilla extract may be substituted)
3 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, egg, extract, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use a hand mixer and beat for at least 7 minutes). Do not shortcut the creaming process; make sure dough is very light in color and fluff, stop to scrape down the sides of the mixer as necessary.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the sprinkles and beat momentarily to incorporate, less than 1 minute, or fold in by hand.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, form heaping two tablespoon mounds. Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line two baking sheets with silpats or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheets, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center. These cookies should not turn golden or brown at all and should stay white. Do not bake longer than 9 minutes for soft cookies because they firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
  6. Store cookies airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Recipe from Averie Cooks

inside of funfetti cookie

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

banana chocolate chip cupcakes

These cupcakes have been on my to-do list since I was on bedrest with Allie. After a doctor’s appointment one day in February, BJ took me to our favorite bakery in the world, Susie Cakes. You see we used to only visit Susie Cakes when we were already up in north county. Now however, they have opened up a location right down the street from us. BJ goes twice a week. It might be a problem. But back in February it was still a real treat to stop in, so we did.

We shared a slice of their seasonal special, Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. It was decadent and delicious. I’m a sucker for banana-flavored anything, and just so happen to have one of the best banana bread recipes around, so I knew this would be something I would want to recreate.

banana cupcakes in pan

banana chocolate chip cupcakes in pan

I took my recipe for banana bread and merged it with another great cupcake recipe. Perfection! These could have passed as muffins and been eaten with no frosting at all…but where’s the fun in that? I piped on some homemade cream cheese frosting, topped the whole thing with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips, and died and went to heaven. These jokers are good! The banana bread-cupcake-muffin-whatever-it-is, is lovely; not overly sweet with nice warmth from the cinnamon swirling around in the background. I love the addition of chocolate chips and fluffy cream cheese frosting, because they both serve to pull it all together and take the cupcakes from good, to spectacular. Who doesn’t love a melty, chocolatey, surprise in their banana bread? I mean cupcake. Same thing, right?

banana chocolate chip cupcakes

banana chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

So if you have some bananas that are quickly passing their prime on the countertop, go through your pantry and gather up everything else you’ll need to make these happen. Your friends and family will thank you. I took them to our Life Group last night and watched proudly as my two preggo friends devoured two each. I love feeding pregnant girls, they are the best! If there’s another time when a girl can eat two cupcakes without batting an eye, I’m not sure when it is. Unless I suppose you’re alone with your thoughts, two napping babies, and a cup of coffee. I’m not confessing anything here, I’m just imagining that a girl could get away with it then too. Especially if no one was watching. 😉

Happy baking!

cupcake garnished with banana slice

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 to 4 large very ripe bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (if you haven’t used this yet, please do ASAP!!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
mini chocolate chips, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe will yield twelve to eighteen cupcakes.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mash the bananas until smooth and stir in milk and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.
  5. In three or four batches, slowly add in the flour mixture, careful not to overmix but beating until just combined.
  6. Stir in the mashed banana mixture and chocolate chips by hand. Batter will be lumpy.
  7. Fill the muffin pans two-thirds of the way full and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool before adding frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick usalted butter, softened 
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and the cream cheese. Slowly blend in the powdered sugar. Be careful to have the mixer on very low speed so that you don’t end up covered in powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and then beat until smooth and well-combined.
  2. Side note- the longer you beat the mixture, the lighter and fluffier your frosting will be!
  3. Assemble the cupcakes by topping each with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips.

many cupcakes

What does Strawberry Shortcake mean to you?

strawberryshortcake

I love a good strawberry shortcake. If I see one on a dessert menu it’s always a given that I will be ordering it.  Make that any fruity dessert. I know I’ve said this before but when a dessert has fruit in it I feel like it’s practically healthy. Please don’t burst my bubble, I know I’m dreaming. Back to shortcakes.

When I was a little girl it was a real treat when my mom served strawberry shortcake after dinner. She usually made hers with the little round sponge cakes that can be found in the produce aisle by the berries. She would slice the strawberries, toss in some sugar to sweeten them up a bit, and pile them on the sponge cake topped with a dollop of cool whip. I loved it! It usually signified that summer time was here. Just imagining those little treats takes me back to warm southern evenings, playing with my little sister in the yard, drinking water from the hose pipe, and watching lightning bugs flicker in the twilight sky. Now that’s some yummy nostalgia for you.

It seems that everyone has a different idea of what strawberry shortcake looks like. For many it’s that yellow sponge cake, but for others it’s a slice of angel food cake or even ladyfingers. All are delish. Somewhere along the way I discovered another version of shortcake, one I’d like to argue takes the…cake…although it’s much less cake and much more biscuit. That’s right, my favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake is made with a crumbly, buttery, slightly sweet, drop biscuit.

A drop biscuit is a biscuit that has NOT been rolled out and cut into circles, it’s simply dropped (plopped, kerplunked, spooned) onto a baking sheet and baked. It’s free form; no fuss, no muss. It’s also easy. There are tons of recipes for these shortcakes out there, but I’ve included the easiest one I’ve used here. Don’t tell anyone, but I use Bisquick for mine. Who cares if it’s fancy, it’s tasty! I also like to mix it up with my strawberries and toss them with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. I like the subtle caramel flavor the brown sugar imparts, and to me the syrup created with brown sugar is thicker and richer in flavor than when regular granulated sugar is used. Want to take it even a step further? Add in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to your berries. There’s your fancy!

So what’s your favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake? I’m eager to hear what you love because who knows, it might become my new favorite down the road!

Strawberry Shortcake

2 1/3 cup original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Stir bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the melted butter until a soft dough forms.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls into 6 biscuits onto a greased sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, combine strawberries and brown sugar. Mix and let sit 15 to 20 minutes or until a syrup forms.
  5. With an electric mixer beat heavy cream on high speed until it begins to thicken up. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until soft peeks form. Chill.
  6. To assemble shortcakes: Slice the biscuits in half. Top bottom half of one biscuit with some strawberries and syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream. Put top half of biscuit on top like a sandwich. Top with another dollop of whipped cream and then more berries and syrup. Serve.

Interested in more yummy recipes and meal plans? Become a subscriber for just $5. Happy cooking!

sign_up_button

Let us eat cake!

hummingbird-cake-whole

I am so excited to be back in the kitchen!! Actually, I’m so excited to be anywhere other than the couch. Baby Allie has made her debut and all is slowly getting back to normal in the Purvis house.

After a brief stint in the NICU which resulted in one extra day at the hospital for us both, we came home on a sunny Monday afternoon. It was a really wonderful wheelchair ride through the hospital with my baby in my arms. When Kellan was born I was wheeled out in tears as I was forced to leave him behind in the NICU. I literally went home, showered, and immediately returned to the hospital to be with my baby. It was depressing. This time I was wheeled out in tears again, but they were tears of joy that my prayers had been answered and we were all heading home together. To God be the glory!

We were greeted at the driveway by both grandmothers and Kellan jumping up and down and cheering for us. There were balloons and flowers; quite the little celebration, and boy was I ready to celebrate! I knew friends and family would be coming to the house to see our new bundle and I wanted it to be a party…and no party is complete without cake.

So yes, 5 days post cesarean section and 1 day post hospital discharge, I baked a cake. It was awesome. The cake and the actual baking process, that is. If you’ve never had Hummingbird cake you need to remedy that as soon as possible. It is perfect for this time of year, overflowing with banana, pineapple, pecans and decadent cream cheese frosting. I can see it on the dessert table at Easter and Mother’s Day, or even at your Memorial Day festivities.

For me, it was the perfect cake to celebrate our sweet little girl’s arrival. It’s delicate in flavor, but makes a strong impact. Delicate and strong, just like a hummingbird and just like our little one.

Enjoy!

hummingbird-cake-slice

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

For the cake:

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed (see below)
2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 4 large or 6 medium-small)
1 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
3, 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel bananas, place in a small mixing bowl and mash. Set aside. Leave the oven heated to 350 degrees.
  3. Butter and flour 3-9 inch round baking pans. Trace the bottom of the pan (for all three pans) onto parchment paper, cut out circle and place in the bottom of each pan.
  4. In a sifter over a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Sift into the bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a second large mixing bowl combine the granulated and brown sugar; stir to combine. Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand to combine all ingredients into a smooth mixture.
  6. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar/egg mixture until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the flour mixture all at once and hand stir (do not beat) to combine the mixture fully.To crush the pineapple: Place 1 cup of finely diced fresh pineapple in a medium mixing bowl and using a potato masher, crush the pineapple. Add the fruit and juice to the batter. Also add the mashed banana and the pecans. Stir just until combined; do not over stir.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Tap the pans on the countertop to release any air bubbles and place in the 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks to fully cool before frosting. Be sure to peel off and discard the parchment paper.
Instructions for Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Cut sticks of chilled butter into 1 inch pieces and place in the bowl of a standing mixer (can use a hand held mixer if needed). Beat on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium until the butter is still cool but has softened together (about 3 minutes).
  2. Cut the cream cheese into 1 inch strips and add to the butter. Mix at medium speed until fully combined, and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar. Beat until well blended, increasing speed to beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Fold in pecans by hand.
Instructions for Cake Assembly:
  1. Place the first layer of cake upside down (the bottom of the cake will be frosted) on the serving plate. Cover with 2/3 cup of frosting. This will be a thin covering.
  2. Place the second layer of cake right side up (flat cake bottom onto the frosting) and frost the top of this layer with 2/3 cup again
  3. Place the last cake layer with cake right side up and use the remaining frosting to cover top of cake and the sides.
  4. Allow cake to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving and store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator. Cake best when made the day prior to serving!

Adapted from Boulder Locavore

 

Strawberry Fields

strawberryicecream

Last weekend I desperately needed to get my two year old out of the house for a little while. Kellan needed to burn some energy and Mom’s belly needed a break from being his drum set, landing pad, and pillow. Trust me I usually love having his attention and affection in whatever form it comes, but baby Allie needed some quiet time in utero. 🙂

On Saturday morning I did some research to find out what was going on in South Orange County and I ran across a U-Pick Strawberry Field a mere four miles from our house! Perfect! It looked super quaint and off the beaten path…much better that the strawberry field we pass from time to time that is flanked by freeways on both sides. This little local strawberry field is at South Coast Farms and boasts a backdrop of picturesque rolling hills. Not only does it have u-pick strawberries on weekends during strawberry season, it’s an organic farm and farm stand offering on site fruits and vegetables for purchase seven days a week. There’s even a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) where locals can subscribe to receive bountiful baskets of seasonal produce grown in the community. I’m really excited to give it a go after the baby comes as I imagine it will be the perfect inspiration for the healthy eating plan I’ll need to get back into pre-baby shape.

I was so excited for BJ to take Kellan to pick strawberries! Of course I so wish I would have been able to go with them, but it’s really all about the experience for Kellan and he always has the best time with his daddy! I sent them out the door with two empty baskets and anxiously awaited their return. Two hours later a very proud little boy marched through the door carrying a basket full of beautiful strawberries and sporting a huge smile.

“Look what I brought for you!” he beamed.

kpickingstrawberries

kstrawberry

BJ followed behind with the second basket of bright red berries. I could smell their sweet scent from the couch! We quickly washed up a few and tasted the treasure. They were so juicy, sweet, and soft enough to easily bite right into, but not mushy. I doubt there’s a more simple pleasure than the taste of freshly plucked strawberries. I knew right away what we needed to do with them. It was an unseasonably warm weekend so homemade strawberry ice cream seemed like it would be a winner…and it was!

strawberries

From my seemingly permanent perch on the couch, I coached BJ through the homemade ice cream making process. We started out with an ice cream base made of half and half, sugar, a vanilla bean, egg yolks and finished with heavy cream. I’ll admit, I jumped up off the couch and tackled the yolk-whisking part as I was less than confident that BJ’s effort was getting them to the fluffy state they needed to be in. (Whew! That was a work out for a girl who has been sedentary for two months!)

Once the base chilled, we stirred in about a pound of pureed berries and then let the ice cream maker do its thing. After only a half hour of churning it was ready to go into the freezer. This is the KEY to good homemade ice cream. Sure, you can go for it right out of the maker. That’s what most people do. But that’s also why most people’s homemade ice cream is really soupy and never makes it to the creamy, firm texture you expect from ice cream. We let ours freeze overnight but if you can’t wait that long, I would suggest at least 3 to 4 hours for better results.

This was some seriously good ice cream. I enjoyed a small bowl every night until it finally ran out, and even shared bowls with our Life Group. It got rave reviews…especially the texture. They couldn’t believe it was homemade!

You may or may not have a strawberry field from which to pick your berries, but I bet your grocery store is starting to stock some good looking berries. Give those a shot or use this same ice cream base with a fresh fruit that does grow in your neck of the woods. I promise it won’t disappoint!

strawberryicecream

Ingredients:

3 cups half-and-half
2 cups sugar
1 whole vanilla bean
9 whole large egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 lb. strawberries, hulled
2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Stir half-and-half and 2 cups sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out goodness inside, and add it in. Heat the mixture until it’s hot but not simmering or boiling.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks vigorously with a whisk until they start to lighten in color and get fluffy. You can use an electric mixer but be careful not to overdo it.
  3. Using a ladle, slowly drizzle a bit of the half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks, whisking continuously. This is called “tempering” the egg yolks and will bring them up to a warm enough temperature so that when you add them to the hot half and half the eggs don’t scramble. You can do this again for good measure if you’d like.
  4. Pour the tempered yolks into the saucepan with the rest of the half and half mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon for 2 to 4 minutes, cooking it slowly until it’s thick enough to coat the spoon.
  5. Pour the entire mixture into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer. This will get rid of any eggs that might have accidentally scrambled. Nothing is worse than ice cream with bits of scrambled egg mixed in!
  6. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate this mixture for 2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile, combine the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour the pureed strawberries into the chilled custard mixture and stir to combine.
  8. Now pour this mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

For more delicious recipes, weekly meal planning and grocery lists, become a Menu Therapy subscriber.

sign_up_button

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

saltedcaramelapplepiebars

If you’re looking for something to do with that batch of salted caramel you made with me last week, I have a recipe for you! We are right at the peak of apple season…the perfect time to pick some apples and turn them into pies, bars, butters, and jams. Apple nirvana! Combine apple season with the fact that salted caramel and apples go together like peanut butter and jelly, and you will soon agree that these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are the perfect way to kick off November. I snagged this gem of a recipe from my favorite website for all things sweet, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and made them for our Life Group last week. They were a huge hit! I suggest serving them warm and smothered with nothing but caramel, but my mom would argue that they’re best served up with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Either way, these bars are sure to become a fall staple in your house. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
1 large Honey Crisp apple, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

1/2 cup (40g) old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup (70g) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Salted Caramel recipe from below

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.
  3. Make the apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350F degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. Press them together tightly and press down to fit in pan. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Once cut, pour salted caramel sauce on top. Enjoy!

Menu Therapy Cooking Tip: How to Peel a Kiwi Easily

Kiwi Slices

I’m about to blow your mind with one of the greatest tricks I learned in cooking school. It came during my two weeks learning Baking and Pastry, a class that seriously scared me to death and had me in cold sweats. Baking is suuuuper tricky. For my final exam I watched in horror as my Charlotte slowly but surely turned into the Leaning Tower of Mousse and Ladyfingers, and nearly burned my eyebrows off peering`into the oven to see if my soufflé was planning on rising sometime this year. STRESSFUL. Classes like Baking a Pastry are surely why “desserts” spelled backwards is s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d. Holy cow.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand…the best and most practical trick EVER came from that same class and it changed my life. Seriously I was so pumped. I think my chef instructor was slightly annoyed at how excited this simple trick made me as it is certainly not a classic technique. However, it is easy and awesome and makes my day to day cooking easier and…awesomer?

So if you’re like me and have ever found yourself frustrated at the simple task of taking the furry, prickly, nasty little brown skin off of a kiwi, this video is for you!

Happy Peeling!

Bridal Showers and Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

When I got married seven years ago I had some of the BEST bridal showers ever. I was very lucky to have some seriously awesome friends from almost every stage of my life jump in and ask to throw me a shower. Lucky, lucky me! It was a really fun season and the outpouring of love I felt during that time has stayed with me throughout the years. So special!

Of all of the wonderfully generous gifts I received, the one that I have used the absolute most is probably this peanut butter pie recipe. No joke. At my kitchen shower all of the lovely ladies were asked to bring a copy of their favorite recipe, and that’s how I got my hands on this gem. I feel kind of guilty about it because I have no idea whose recipe this originally was, but now I am known as having the BEST peanut butter pie around. Whoops! I guess the secret’s out now- it’s not actually my recipe. I did make one considerable improvement to it by adding my own graham cracker crust instead of a store-bought one. One could argue that really takes this pie to another level, but all in all the credit really belongs to someone else. So dear friend if you are reading this blog and the recipe looks familiar…THANKS!!- And please let me know so I can pass the kudos to you!

My in-laws are driving down the freeway as we speak, coming to spend some time with Baby K. My father-in-law, Bill, LOVES this pie and will be thrilled to see it chilling out in the fridge. I don’t get to make it for him nearly as often as I’d like, so I made sure to have it ready and waiting for his arrival. Next to Kellan, I think this peanut-buttery goodness is going to be a sight for sore eyes.

This recipe is a breeze to follow and can be whipped up in mere minutes. You’ll have to let it set up in the refrigerator for a while, but no one said you couldn’t start the party early by digging in to whatever gooey remnants grace the bottom of your mixing bowl. Heck, spread it on a banana and call it a healthy snack…there’s fruit involved after all and we know how I feel about that.

Speaking of bananas, there are a lot of ways you can dress this pie up and make it your own. Layer sliced bananas on top of the crust before pouring the peanut butter filling in, switch the graham cracker crust out for one made with chocolate wafer crumbs, or add a caramel drizzle to the top…anything! Or you can leave it as is and take the credit anyway. I certainly won’t tell. 🙂

Peanut Butter Pie

 

For the crust:

2 cups of finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a lightly buttered pie dish. Use the bottom of a glass to make sure the crust is nicely pressed into the edges of the pie pan.  Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

For the pie filling:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Whip the heavy cream and granulated sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth and totally combined. Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until blended. Pour filling into the cooled graham cracker crust and chill for at least 4 hours.

Lemon Blueberry Cake with Raspberry Filling

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling

I love a good themed dessert, especially on the Fourth of July. When I was a teenager it was a store-bought cake mix topped with icing-in-a-tub and decorated like a flag with sliced strawberries and blueberries. I was so proud! A few years later it was a red, white and blue trifle with layers of sponge cake, vanilla custard, whipped cream, and of course, the standard strawberries and blueberries. Good stuff. Last year my sister came to visit on the 4th and we really went all out- Rice Crispy treats with red and blue sprinkles. Whatever, they were good.

This year I’m lucky enough to have stumbled upon my new favorite blog for all things sweet. Sally’s Baking Addiction is an awesome resource for satisfying your sweet tooth. Her recipes are super easy to follow with great baking tips and tricks tucked in along the way. She also has beautiful photographs of her treats throughout the cooking process, making each recipe hard to resist. Check it out!

I’ve been wanting to make the Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake from her website for a while. I don’t know what it is about dessert with fruit in it, but I’m always drawn to those recipes. I like to pretend that a cake, fruit, pie, or muffin laden with fruit, is healthy. Not just healthier…healthy.  So a layer cake bursting with plump blueberries and bright lemons? I might as well be eating salad! Yeah- I know I’m dreaming, but I don’t crush your dreams so please don’t crush mine. There has to be some sort of evidence to support this, right? Fruit is obviously more nutritious than chocolate so surely there’s some merit to my claim. Oh well.

Regardless, this cake has been calling my name for weeks and meets almost all of my July Fourth criteria.  White and blue. Now for the red. I could have easily just thrown some raspberries on top and called it a day, but that seemed like a little bit of a cop out. It makes sense and would have totally tasted fine, but it doesn’t really tie together with the rest of the cake. So maybe an actual raspberry filling? Whenever my Oma baked a layer cake she always used a fruit filling to go along with the buttercream filling. It was the perfect combination of sweet-tartness to go along with the super sweet buttercream. I decided to do the same and I am really happy with the way the cake came out. The spongecake has a very subtle lemon flavor that provides the perfect base for this decadent dessert and pairs well with both berries. The icing is probably the best buttercream I’ve ever made and will likely be my icing of choice from here on out. It’s so easy and delicious, and like Sally describes, tastes like “spreadable cheesecake.” YUM!

I hope you’ll try this recipe out for the 4th…or any time for that matter. It’s sweet, it’s fruity, and it’s super healthy- right? 🙂 Happy Fourth of July!

Sliced Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Raspberry Fililng

For the cake:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
zest + juice of 3 medium lemons
1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or non-thawed frozen
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the raspberry filling:

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the frosting:

8 ounces (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
1 – 2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 9×2 inch cake pans with nonstick spray or butter and flour them. Set aside.

Make the cake. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy – about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point.

Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, your bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 21 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the raspberry filling. Add raspberries, lemon juice and sugar to a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until berries begin to release juices and the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a small food processor and pulse until pureed. Add back to saucepan and bring to a low boil. Make a slurry using 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix well and stir into raspberries. Continue to cook over low heat until mixture has thickened and appears glossy, stirring constantly. Let cool completely.

Make the frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.

Assemble and frost. First, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with as much raspberry filling as desired, being sure to leave a 1/4 inch border around the cake so that the filling doesn’t ooze out when you top it with the 2nd layer of cake. Top the raspberry filling with the 2nd cake layer and spread frosting all over the top, letting it spill over the sides. Secure with a few toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding off one another.  Add the 3rd layer and secure with a few more toothpicks if needed. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. Top with blueberries, rasperries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut. Don’t forget to let people know that the cake is secured with toothpicks so that they are on the look out while digging in.

Check out the cookbook, Sally’s Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix

For more delicious recipes, weekly meal planning and grocery lists, become a Menu Therapy subscriber.

sign_up_button