Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

posted by on baking, cooking, Nebraska

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Nebraska Sunset

Going to grandma and grandpa’s meant having access to wide open land, horses, tractors, grandpa’s collection of classic cars, and a television with an antenna fully loaded with a few local Nebraska TV stations.

Luckily I had my two sisters and plenty of cousins and family to keep me busy when we were around, but when it was time to come inside we would turn on that little television, nine times out of 10 landing on PBS for lack of a better choice (I was too young for Jeopardy at the time).

My sister, cousins and Grandpa – Thanksgiving 1989

PBS was the mainstay and I was quickly hooked on the likes of Bob Ross (art nerd, remember?) and anything that had to do with cooking or “how to.” Of course if you really wanted to dig back we could talk about Ghostwriter, Reading Rainbow, Mister Rogers, Mr. Bean, Bill Nye, The Red Green Show, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, Zoobilee Zoo… I digress.

Not much has changed for me since the 90’s in the world of TV. In the last couple of years I’ve ditched expensive cable’s thousand channels full of garbage and gone back to having just a few channels coming through my antenna (HD, mind you). The TV is seldom on but if it is and Game 3 of the NLCS is rained out for example (Go Giants!) I still land on PBS.

I still dig the shows that hit my passion of cooking and baking. Lidia’s Italy in America and America’s Test Kitchen aren’t shows that I necessarily go out of my way to watch but just as if I were a kid again, sprawled out on grandma and grandpa’s living room floor with that creepy ceramic cat staring back at me, I’m hooked when I catch them. It’s somewhat nostalgic at this point but all of this came to me today after I finished reading an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about Christopher Kimball. It’s a longer read but a must in my opinion.

“Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.” -Christopher Kimball 

Who doesn’t want to read about a man and his success after a quote like that?

posted by on baking, Denver, high altitude, homemade, Phoenix


Out of curiosity, I wanted to know the history of the snickerdoodle. I can’t remember the first time I tried one, but if I could only take one cookie with me should I ever get stranded on a desert island, it would be the snickerdoodle.

Many sources say that the word snickerdoodle may have come from the German word “schneckennudeln,” which directly translates to “snail noodles”. Go and Google that word and pictures of  cinnamon pinwheel pastries that resemble snails come up.

The recipe I have for snickerdoodles is one I used while I lived in Denver and it held up beautifully at the high altitude. I made them a couple of nights ago, here in Phoenix, and they were just as cakey & sweet as ever. Mine don’t turn out as flat as other recipes, but I like that when you bite into them, there’s a slight crunch from the sugar and cinnamon on the outside and the inside is soft, moist and tender from the cream of tartar.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar & 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to roll the dough in)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Combine the softened butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Blend in the vanilla & eggs and mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda & salt.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients a little at a time into the wet mixture and blend with a mixer well after each addition. You may have to finish mixing the dough with a wooden spoon, it will be thick!
  5. Shape the dough into 1″ balls and roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. (These don’t flatten out a whole lot, so you should be able to fit a dozen on a baking sheet with no problem)
  6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. The tops will be cracked and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on a wire rack.
  7. Keep the snickerdoodles in an airtight container to keep the insides moist! *these also keep well in the freezer if you roll the dough into balls, freeze on a flat sheet and store in freezer bags for later use.*


posted by on baking, homemade, quick

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This recipe is not mine but I’m really excited to share it with those of you who choose to or demand a gluten free lifestyle. Peanut butter cookies are a favorite and this recipe from Miss Kait is just what the world needed!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 egg
    that’s it…really

Mix all ingredients together – her recipe says to roll into balls but it looked like such a mess. I just spooned the dough onto my cookie sheet and flattened with a criss-cross pattern with a fork and sprinkled some sugar on top before baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

original recipe found here (check out the rest of her blog too – she has some really amazing stuff to share!)

posted by on baking, Denver, grandma, homemade

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The sisters, kids & bf all recently loaded up in a car in Denver and headed back to my small hometown in Nebraska to help celebrate my mother’s 50th birthday. Mom knew right away what she wanted me to bake for her birthday cake. Grandma K’s spice cake. I didn’t know that there was a recipe out there but apparently Grandma used to make this cake when my mom and her siblings were growing up. Thanks to Aunt Karolynn for giving it to us!

What you’ll need:

  • ¾ cup mayo
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons Karo syrup (dark)
Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Seriously, that’s it.) Since it was momma’s 50th we decided to get a little creative and make 2 sheet cakes and cut out a ‘5’ and a ‘0’.

My niece Temperance was my little helper!

I used parchment paper to draw out and use as a stencil for the ‘5’ & ‘0’.

My sister (the one who went to culinary school!) crumb coats the cakes for me before I put on the buttercream.

The birthday girl and her finished cake! Certainly doesn’t look 50, does she?

Trust me when I say the frosting is what makes this cake and brings out all the spices in it.
Buttercream Frosting – what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (do not melt!)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, SIFTED
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk
  1. Beat butter for a few minutes on medium speed. 
  2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on the lowest speed and mix fully with the butter.
  3. On medium speed, add and mix the vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk. 
  4. Beat for approx. 3 minutes. 
  5. Add remaining sugar if needed or add more milk if thinning out is needed.  

**I used some extra cake mix to bake my nephew’s 1st birthday cake since we were doing a joint party that weekend. My sister wanted Cookie Monster – I did the best I could.**

Me working on the Cookie Monster cake.

Finished! Yes, his eyes are too close together…

Mason before the destruction!

I saved the best photo for last! photo credit: AJ Vicens

posted by on baking, Colorado, Denver, high altitude, Holidays, Phoenix

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I hate making things from a box. Cake mixes, cookies, brownies – they will never compare to baking them from scratch. The one exception? Angel food cake. I refuse to attempt this from scratch when the boxed version reminds me of so many good things from my childhood.

When I lived in Denver angel food cake was the one baked good I really missed. I could never get the cake to cooperate with the high altitude even after making the suggested adjustments. (If any of you out there can help out with this or have some tricks of your own, let me know!) 

This was our first 4th of July in Phoenix so I ran to the store and picked up a box of angel food cake mix and was ready to go! Here’s my version:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 angel food cake mix
  • fresh or frozen strawberries
  • sugar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla
  • whipped cream (made from scratch or not – it’s a holiday for crying out loud!) 
  1. Follow instructions on the box to make the angel food cake, letting cool upside down on a bottle as shown.
  2. In a small sauce pan add strawberries, sugar (I don’t really measure this, just sprinkle a good amount on) and heat until bubbly.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract and 1-2 spoonfuls of cornstarch and mix well. Simmer for a bit then remove from heat and let cool until thickened.
  4. Cut the cake very carefully in half, letting the sawing of the knife do the work for you. Spread the bottom half with whipped cream, top with strawberry sauce & put the top of the cake back on!
  5. Finish off with whipped cream on top and around edges and remainder of the strawberry sauce.

Don’t worry about it being messy – it’ll be gone quick!


cooking vs baking


posted by on baking, cooking, gripes, healthy, leftovers, quick, vegetable

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The idea of spending more than 30 minutes cooking a meal is annoying to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the kitchen but I’d much rather spend 4 hours with the precision of baking. Throw “a bunch of sh*t” in a pan and cook it is my theory when it comes to dinner (which is exactly what I did last night).

I had a couple of almost empty boxes of elbow pasta, some feta cheese, frozen corn, frozen chopped spinach, and a half can of diced tomatoes leftover in the fridge. I heated up a tablespoon of butter, threw in the frozen spinach, corn, can of tomatoes with the juice, mixed it all up until it was hot and bubbling and added some finely chopped garlic at the very end. Feta cheese was sprinkled on the top after it was dished up. Bonus: it made about 4 servings so the boyfriend and I had leftovers for lunch which, in my opinion, was even better reheated the next day (you’ll have to ask him how it was cold – yuck!).

posted by on baking, Holidays, homemade

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I’ve been holding off on posting this recipe. It’s something from my childhood that always reminds me of my mother and Christmas in Nebraska.

Growing up, mom would go all out. Cut-out sugar cookies, her famous rum balls (if you want this recipe, you’ll have to ask her – I’ve never been a fan – a subject for another time), and the crème de la crème – the peanut butter cup cookie. Trust me. It won’t get any better than that – unless you a) hate peanut butter or b) heaven forbid, you’re allergic!

I guess at some point I’ve come to realize this blog was just as much, if not more, for me than my six or seven readers. So, here’s another recipe to add to the archive. I hope you love it as much as my family does.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ cup softened margarine
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg

Beat the above ingredients until smooth.

  • 1¼ cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Peanut butter cups (if you can find them, the dark chocolate ones ar—–

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until well combined.

Roll into balls and place in mini muffin tin and bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes until the tops are lightly brown. Remove from the oven and press your peanut butter cup into the middle of the dough.

**Place the muffin pans in the freezer for a few minutes so the chocolate won’t melt**

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