July 30, 2014

S'mores Cookie Bars

I know, I know, this isn't really very nice of me.  First thing in the morning on a Wednesday of all days!  Well, I did it so you could plan.  If you don't happen to have a Hershey bar sitting around your house, you may want to stop and pick one up.  I'm just sayin.

You're going to need it 

You're going to need it to make these S'mores bars this weekend. 

I've given you two and a half days to prepare yourself.  Well, you know what?  Why don't you just go ahead and pick up two in case you run out of these bars before you get to share them. Just to be on the safe side. 

All the school supplies are in the stores now so that means we're winding down summer, and that means we only have limited time to lounge around outside at barbecue's and such.  

These bars would be a welcome addition to any party.  They have marshmallows, chocolate and a graham cracker crust.  They're sweet and delicious.  But you don't need a fire to enjoy them.  No marshmallow roasting necessary. 

You're welcome. 

S'mores Cookie Bars

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows, plus a few extra for on top
  • 1 (1.55 oz) regular sized Hershey chocolate bar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line a 9x9 or an 8x8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the butter, stir until wet and then press down into the prepared pan. Bottom only. 
  4. The the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and the sugars and cream together until light and fluffy. 
  5. Add the egg and vanilla and mix. 
  6. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda and salt and whisk together. 
  7. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until combined. 
  8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows by hand. 
  9. Spoon the dough into the pan with the graham cracker crust, don't worry about making the layer totally even, as it'll even out more as it bakes. 
  10. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  11. Break the candy bar into sections and place into the freezer while the bars are baking.
  12. After baking for about 10 minutes, sprinkle the top of the bars with some more mini marshmallows and return to the oven to finish cooking. 
  13. When you remove the pan from the oven, carefully place the frozen chocolate pieces on top and then let the bars cool completely before cutting. 

July 28, 2014

Cherry Mousse Chocolate Cake

Let me just start out by saying, this cake is pretty amazing.  Let me also say, you need to devote several hours of your day to making it and then you're still not going to eat it until much later.  It isn't necessarily difficult to make but there are multiple steps involved. 

Of course, the end result is pretty beautiful and very tasty. 

So, here's what I suggest.  Read through all the directions first, and then set aside the appropriate time needed to make it. 

If you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, feel free to use it.  I did notice how the cake does seem more dense after this entire process is over.  I'm sure it's from locking in the moisture once the cake is created and has been frozen/refrigerated. However, the taste is the same as you'd expect from the cake. The mousse is very light, with just a trace of cherry flavor and the chocolate ganache just compliments the entire cake. 

If you're feeling particularly creative and just happen to have some fresh cherries on hand, this would be a fun cake for you to make.  I got to make Italian meringue for the first time with this cake. 

Don't forget, in addition to two round cake pans, you're also going to need a spring form pan.  Definitely a worthwhile cake to make, I think the next time I'll make it it will be for a special occasion.  It's just too pretty to not be oohed and ahhhed over. 

Cherry Mousse Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from Baking After Dark
Chocolate Cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (heaping) cocoa
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cherry Mousse
  • 10 ounces cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 5 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Chocolate Ganache
  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) dark chocolate
  • about 2 tsp (10 grams) butter
  • 1 Tbsp (10 grams) honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Spray and flour 2 - 8 inch (or 9 inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper
  3. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside. 
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and then add the cocoa and mix until smooth, add the water and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. 
  5. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth and it's begun to cool. 
  6. In the dish with the buttermilk, add the 2 beaten eggs, baking soda and vanilla extract.  Pour this mixture into the slightly cooled chocolate/flour mixture and stir until smooth. 
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick, then remove from the oven and set aside. 
  8. To make the mousse: In a medium sized bowl, add the sugar to the cherries and let them macerate for 2 minutes. Put the cherries into a blender and puree them until smooth. 
  9. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook until just at a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. When it starts to thicken, turn off the heat. Let cool.
  10. When the cherries are cool - Use a small heat proof bowl to add the water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top, let sit for 5 minutes. Put the dish in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds at 30% cooking power.  Stir.  Microwave again for 20 seconds at 30% power and keep this up until the gelatin is completely dissolved. 
  11. Add the gelatin to the cherry sauce and mix it well.  Refrigerate the mixture until it's needed later on. 
  12. Make an Italian Meringue: Use the bowl of your stand mixer, on low start to whip the egg whites, use the whisk attachment. 
  13. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp of water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes. 
  14. Move the speed of the mixer up to high and pour the sugar/water mixture into the bowl with the egg whites, be careful not to pour it directly over the moving whisk. Whip the egg whites until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. The egg whites will be fluffy and glossy looking. Move the mixture to another bowl, clean the mixer bowl and place in the freezer so it can be very cold for the next step. 
  15. Make whipped cream: Use the whisk attachment and mix the heavy cream and the sugar in the cold mixer bowl until soft peaks form. 
  16. Fold the Italian Meringue in with the whipped cream, folding by hand to make sure not to lose it's volume. Once incorporated, carefully fold in the cherry mixture into the whipped cream/Meringue mixture.  When completely combined, store in the refrigerator until the next step. 
  17. Remove the cake from the cake pan and place in a spring form pan that is slightly larger.  If you used an 8 inch cake pans use a 9 inch spring form pan, and so on. Place the cake directly in the middle of the pan so there is some space around the edges of the cake. 
  18. Put 1/3 of the whipped cherry mixture on and around the cake.  Level the top.  Place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. 
  19. Remove from the freezer and add the second cake to the middle of the pan.  Cover with the remaining whipped cherry mixture and level the top.  Freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  20. To make the ganache: In a medium sized heat proof bowl, add the chocolate, butter and honey.  Heat the heavy cream just to the point of a boil and then pour over the chocolate mixture. Let sit for 1 minute before stirring with a whisk until smooth. 
  21. Remove the cake from the freezer and gently open the spring form sides to release the cake.  Top with the ganache and decorate with some fresh cherries then refrigerate for an hour before cutting so it can set. 

July 25, 2014


One thing I remember from my childhood is my mom's baking.  She used to make the best homemade pizza's and dinner rolls.  Isn't it funny how some foods from so long ago are still the one's you compare all others to?

Well, she baked these popover's for us while I was in Oregon and they were delicious!  She doesn't bake much anymore but you'd never know it.  Very yummy and more importantly, they had the size that popovers are supposed to have.  I've made them before in a cupcake tin and I just didn't get the height that these had.  I think I need to invest in a popover tin.

A perfect popover is golden brown on top, almost hollow inside.  When you rip open the muffin it should have the perfect spot inside for some butter and jam.  Serve them hot!

Recipe from Betty Crocker

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450º
  2. Generously grease 6 popover cups, or you can use muffin cups. They will rise higher in a popover pan.
  3. Use a medium bowl to beat eggs slightly, add the remaining ingredients and just stir until smooth. Do not over mix.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for another 20 minutes or until deep golden brown.
  5. Remove from the tin immediately.

July 23, 2014

New York Cheesecake

While I was in Portland this past week, I was fortunate enough to spend a good amount of time with my Aunt Nancy.  Well, guess what? She's a foodie too!!  

I know, right?!

So, we had lots to talk about and had a blast making this cheesecake for her husband's birthday.  My aunt has been to New York many times and so she had some first hand experience with the cheesecake there.  She said this recipe was right on!  Since I've never been to New York city, I'll take her word for it. 

Can you believe I've never been to New York city? I've driven around it many time but have never actually stopped to check it out.  Oh well, maybe someday. 

We drizzled the top of the cake with some chocolate syrup first, then had some masserated berries nearby for those who wanted to add them on top. 

I have to tell you, this is one of my very favorite cheesecake recipes.  Exactly like you would expect from a great restaurant, only you get to eat the leftovers. :)  

Creamy texture with that little bite of sour cream on the top, combined with the graham cracker crust and honestly you don't even need other toppings.  It never hurts to add to perfection however, so pile on your favorite toppings!

New York Cheesecake
Recipe from Cooking With Sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 4 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Sour Cream Topping
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Topping suggestions: 
  • Strawberries - fresh and a strawberry sauce will be beautiful and delicious. 
  • Chocolate - sauce and/or shavings or even chocolate chips. 
  • Whipped cream
  • Mixed berries or any other type of fruit such as sliced peaches or even canned pie filling. 
  • Crushed cookies (such as Oreo's) or candies.  
  • Nuts such as chopped walnuts or pecans, alone or mixed with some of the options above. 
  • NOTE: I wouldn't put the toppings on the whole cake, I would wait until it's been cut and plated before adding the toppings just in case there are leftovers.  Some of the suggestions above might become soggy if they are left on top the cheesecake and then refrigerated again as a leftover. 

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 325º
  2. Wrap tin-foil around the outside bottom and sides of the springform pan, this will prevent anything from seeping out of the pan. 
  3. In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients together and press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. After you remove it from the oven, leave the oven on at the same temperature. 
  5. While the crust cooks, make the filling.  In the bowl of your stand mixer add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Mix until smooth. 
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Add the flour and mix until smooth. 
  8. Let the crust cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the filling.  Once the filling has been added, bake for 50-55 minutes.  The filling is done when the sides are pretty set but the center is still slightly giggly. 
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the sour cream topping. Leave the oven on at the same temperature. 
  10. Stir all the sour cream topping ingredients in a bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and mix until smooth. 
  11. Once the cake has cooled slightly, spoon the sour cream mixture over the top and bake for about 10 minutes. 
  12. Once removed from the oven, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake.  Let cool completely on the counter before refrigerating.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. 
  13. Slice with a hot, wet knife.  Wipe the knife each time a cut is made.  This will help make the slices easier and prettier. 
  14. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 

July 21, 2014

VooDoo Doughnut's - my Portland adventure

Some of you may know, and some of you may not, that I was on vacation this past week.  Well, first stop on my West coast adventure was Portland, Oregon.  Otherwise known as the place my mom and her family lives. We made the crazy decision to make our way into Portland one day for an adventure to find this well known doughnut shop.  VooDoo Doughnut has been featured in MANY ways, from blogs to television, it's a Portland must see spot. Their many varieties of doughnuts make this a favorite for everybody!

My mom, daughter and I caught a train into the city and then began our walk to the shop.  You see, it's not on the train route so get your tennis shoes ready because you WILL be walking.  Better yet, just drive there. After many city blocks and one wrong turn we finally made it.

The menu is extensive and so is the showcase.  There was a long line when we arrived but it moved quickly.  Lucky for us, there is a dozen doughnut option where they'll choose for you.  That's what we did.  There just wasn't enough time to sit and peruse the menu.

As you can see, we had plenty to choose from!

Now that I think about it, maybe walking was the best option.  At least we could burn off a few of those calories we consumed.  Don't worry, we brought the rest back for family to munch on.

Here's my breakdown.  Totally delicious and super unique and interesting options. I recommend you try something outside of your comfort zone and opt for something you will ONLY find at VooDoo Doughnut.  There are Vegan options as well. These toppings are truly unique and only found here so step outside of the standard "box" and try something new!

This is one of a couple of posts that I have from my vacation.  The others are recipes and then I can share some pictures.  It was such a fun trip!  Great to see all my family and friends, some of which I hadn't seen in 20 years!  Oh yea, that's because I went to Montana for my 20 year high school reunion! I just can't believe it!

July 9, 2014

Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze

Blueberries are in season right now, quick go pick some!  Just kidding, well not about them being in season.  They are, and you should if you're able. 

I have two blueberry bushes in my back yard and they are nowhere near enough for my family.  I pick about 20, bring them in and watch my daughter devour them.  If I want any, I better eat them outside.  Luckily there are plenty of farms around here where you can go pick your own.  My daughter and I did go pick a half gallon and it's already gone.  Took about three days. 

This bread was one that I made for the 4th of July party with my neighbors. Very moist, yet light and the fresh blueberries just popped in your mouth.  I topped mine with some leftover lemon glaze I made for the lavender cookies I brought.  (link below) and I thought it was a great combination.  You can't beat the taste of lemon with blueberries.  This recipe is nice because you can use frozen blueberries too, making it a bread you can enjoy anytime.  I'll make it again, for sure. 
Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze
Recipe form Taste of Home

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, while the mixer is on low. 
  5. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until creamy and smooth. 
  6. Add the flour and baking powder to a separate bowl and then slowly add to the creamed ingredients until smooth. 
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the blueberries, incorporate carefully by hand so they don't break. 
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean.  The loaf should be nice and golden brown on top. 
  9. Let cool completely before adding the glaze. 
Glaze recipe found here

July 7, 2014

Lavender Cookies with Lemon Glaze

This is the beautiful lavender I am growing in my garden. It smells amazing!  This is the first year I've grown it and I'm very surprised at how many things there are that you can use lavender in.

I had read a book one time that the character used lavender in cookies and I haven't been able to get that out of my head.

So, here's a quick run-down on lavender drying.  If you grow any yourself, just make sure not to spray it with any chemicals.
Cut the stalks that have the flowers on them.
Use a rubber band to tie around the bottom of the stalks.
Hang the bundle upside down from a wire hanger with a cloths clip, or some other type of clip.
Put a clean towel or sheet under the bundle so when the flowers dry up they can fall onto the sheet. Hang the bundle in a cool dry area, like a closet. (I hung mine from a cabinet on the counter because I don't have a clean empty closet)
It took about 4 days to dry.
You can either pluck the remaining flowers off my hand or you can roll the bundle in a clean pillow case and then pick through and get the buds.

I was able to find a ton of lavender recipes on Pinterest and the Internet.  I would like to try several more before the summer is over. 

Be careful not to use too much until you're sure you and your family like the taste.  It is a wonderful flavor but if you use too much it can be sort of perfume-y.  

I used a lemon glaze on top because I thought it might help those who didn't like the lavender flavor.  Turns out that it compliments that lavender so well, and I used the same glaze on a blueberry cake that I made as well. It is delicious!  It's got plenty of lemon flavor, I loved it!

Oh, and I brought these cookies to the 4th of July celebration in my neighborhood and everybody tried one.  Some of my neighbors LOVED them.  Makes me happy. 
Lavender Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp dried lavender flowers (purchased from a spice shop, or if home grown, not treated with pesticides) This amount can be doubled, if you're already familiar with, and like Lavender. 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the shortening, butter and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and blend, then add the vanilla and almond extract. 
  5. In a separate dish, combine the flour, lavender, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and then slowly add to the mixing bowl while the mixer is on low speed. 
  6. Use a teaspoon to add a rounded ball of dough to the cookie sheet.  
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Will be golden brown around the edges and pale on top. 
  8. When the cookies are cool, top with the glaze (see below)

Lemon Glaze
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients with a whisk until smooth.