Posted in Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert



I was looking for a refreshing, lite dessert this past Halloween weekend and I remembered this four-ingredient, low-sugar treat that everyone seems to enjoy.  I usually store the finished product in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack, but it’s also crazy delicious frozen. 

If freezing this treat, dump the mixture into a 13X9 baking dish, spread evenly and freeze.  Then, slice it into squares before serving.  (I use the sugar-free ingredients to assemble this recipe but using the “regular”  ingredients will work just as well.)

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert (low-sugar)

1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, sugar free

1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese

2 (3 ounce) packages orange sugar-free Jello

1 can Del Monte Mandarin Oranges (no sugar added), drain well


In the order provided, mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Desserts, Food

Saturday Morning Apple Crumble

This is one of my most favorite times of the year.  The morning temperatures are a bit brisk but not too overwhelming and the afternoon sun shines across the fields of trees bearing copper, red, and gold leaves.  As I sip on my first cup of morning coffee, I enjoy nature’s beauty and feel blessed to live on a hilly country road away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  The comforting quiet of the weekend morning is something I will never take for granted as I plan my day and bake/cook for the upcoming week.

Yesterday, my daughter headed to a local orchard to pick up some piping hot apple donuts and a variety of crisp, ripe apples for a weeks worth of lunches.  I slipped a few of the apples out of the bag to assemble this tasty, crisp dessert. If I’m in a hurry, I often use homemade apple sauce as the base for this recipe but it’s quite quick to pull together which ever way you choose to make it.  Serve with a cup of coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream… It doesn’t get any better than this.

 

Saturday Morning Apple Crumble

10 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13X9″ pan by spraying with a non-stick baking spray. Place apples in a large bowl, mix sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Let stand so the mixture becomes juicy as water is released from the fruit.

Meanwhile, combine oats, remaining flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda.  Mix in the egg; stir until combined.  Evenly pour apple mixture into baking dish.  Crumble oat and flour mixture evenly over the apples.  Pour melted butter evenly over the top of the assembled dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

 

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Gifts

Toffee and Coffee Brownies



This is one of my family’s favorite brownie recipes.  When my twins were headed back to Purdue after a short fall break, I decided to send along a special “study” treat.  The addition of coffee and chocolate in the recipe are sure to inject a bit of a caffeine boost needed for long study and homework sessions.  

Due to the use of a traditional boxed brownie mix, these chocolatey treats come together quickly.  Adding three eggs to the batter makes for a moist and chewy texture, while the toffee bits contribute to the sweet and crunchy topping for this dessert.  I guarantee these treats won’t last long after you cool and frost them!  They are super rich and delicious! 

By the way, finals week for college students isn’t far off…  Wouldn’t every student love to receive a batch of these gems in a care package? Simply bake the brownies, then cool and wrap.  Next, place a jar of pre-made frosting and a bag of toffee bits into a shipping box along with the brownies.  Your student can frost and sprinkle the toffee mixture over the batch after the package has arrived. Don’t forget to encourage your student to share with friends and floor mates.   Oh, yah… You’ll be one popular parent!

Toffee and Coffee Brownies

1 package brownie mix for 13 X 9″ pan

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup brewed coffee

1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter, slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 cup milk chocolate chips, optional

For Topping

1 16 ounce container of rich and creamy pre-made milk chocolate frosting

2 cups Heath Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick baking spray and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine brownie mix with eggs, coffee, butter, and extract.  Stir in optional chocolate chips.  Continue to stir until thoroughly combined, about 50 strokes. Evenly pour and spread brownie batter into prepared pan.  Bake according to package directions, usually 20 – 28 minutes. 

Allow to cool completely.  Spread a thick layer of pre-made milk chocolate frosting over brownies; sprinkle liberally with Heath Toffee Bits. Serve and store in an air-tight container.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Desserts

Oatmeal Snack Cake

 There are very few recipes that I bake where I don’t use oatmeal as an ingredient in some form or another.  I often stir a handful of oatmeal into the batter for cakes, cookies, and muffins.  Or, I might sprinkle oats over the top of the batter just before popping pans into the oven.  I even stir oats into my ground beef when making meatloaf, hamburgers, or meatballs.  I’m a big fan of the flavor, texture, and health benefit that oats can bring to many recipes. 

This Oatmeal Snack Cake is chocked full of flavor and is great with a cup of coffee, packed in the lunchbox for a mid-day treat, or served with a scoop of ice cream after an evening meal.  The sweet glaze drizzled over the top of the cake is optional but it dresses things up a bit.  Mostly, I just bake the recipe the way it’s written, slice it after cooling, pack it into a Tupperware container,  and wait for it to disappear.  


Oatmeal Snack Cake

1 1⁄4 cups boiling water

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1⁄3 cups flour

1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon  baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon  vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cups walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13X9″ baking pan, set aside.  

Pour boiling water over dry oatmeal; set aside for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine sugars and oil until well blended. Add eggs, vanilla, and cooled oatmeal, mix thoroughly.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Stir in raisins and nuts.  Pour into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Drizzle with icing or sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Desserts, Homemade Mixes

Sweet and Salty White Chocolate Snack Mix

The next time you’re looking for a sweet treat this one will not disappoint. Great for holiday gatherings, this party mix is completely addicting.  Make a quick batch, place it out on the counter and BAM, it’s gone in a flash. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this delicious treat! It’s a sinful mix that will satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.



Sweet and Salty White Chocolate Snack Mix

1 (10 oz) package mini twist pretzels

5 cups toasted oat cereal rounds

5 cups crispy rice or corn cereal squares

2 1/2 cups salted peanuts

1 (14 oz) package peanut M&M candies

2 (11 oz) packages white chocolate chips

3 tablespoons canola oil

Line a few (3) jelly roll pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a very large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chips and oil for 2 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring once. Microwave on high for 10 seconds and stir until smooth.  Pour over cereal mixture and combine well. Spread into prepared pans, cool and break apart.  Store in an airtight container.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Desserts

Applesauce Spice Cake

Family Day at Purdue University brought us down to campus for a weekend of fun and football.  When looking over recipes to serve on the tailgate table, this applesauce cake caught my eye.  As many of you that frequently bake might testify, I rarely follow a recipe as it’s written.  I am constantly checking my stash of leftovers to see how they can be transformed into deliciously satisfying baked goods.  This week, I adapted an apple cake recipe that I found in an old community cookbook to create this moist, dense cake. I had made applesauce earlier in the week and I was looking for ways to use it up before having to freeze it.  This cake fit the bill and everyone enjoyed its apple and cinnamon spiced flavor.  The recipe is especially good with a cup of hot tea or coffee on a cool fall or winter day. 

Applesauce Spice Cake

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups applesauce (chunky or homemade style)

1 cup canola oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup whole oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray, with cooking spray, a 13×9 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, mix first six dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, and eggs; mix well.  Pour dry ingredients into applesauce mixture and combine until well blended.   Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle batter with oats and nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food

Quick Fix Brownies



We spent a beautiful day in Chicago on my brother’s boat yesterday. I volunteered to bring along some munchies so I turned to my favorite brownie recipe to add to the collection of appetizers and desserts.  These brownies hold up well when traveling and they slice into dense dark chocolatey squares, perfect for a family outing.  A regular cake mix is used for the brownie base.  This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please all of the chocolate lovers in your life!

Quick Fix Brownies

1 (18 1/4 oz) devil’s food or dark chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar 

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set the oven rack to the second-lowest position.  Spray with cooking spray a 13×9″ baking pan.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients except chocolate chips (and walnuts) until smooth.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts, if desired; mix to combine. Spread batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes (do not over bake).   Cool completely before frosting with a frosting of your choice.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Desserts

Easy Blueberry Upside Down Cake





This time of year, there are plenty of local blueberry farms lining the county roads throughout the Midwest.  In early July, rustic hand painted signs announce the arrival of a new blueberry crop at many of these farms.  Last Sunday, I stopped at one such farm to gather a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.  To my surprise, there were “slim pickings” available for sale. The unprecedented soggy, Midwest rains and cooler summer temperatures have made a bit of a mesh of things.  When I asked if they had any blueberries for sale, the owner expressed her disappointment as she said the crop was a bit overripe and the berries seemed uncharacteristically  soft.  I usually bring home a 25 pounds box, but instead, I purchased only two pints.  Hopefully, I can visit another stand with a bit more success.

For a quick summer treat, I assembled this incredibly easy recipe that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.  It’s much like a traditional upside down cake that usually includes pineapple.  Instead, a few cups of berries are used to top the tender butter cake.  I hope you’ll give this simple recipe a try. It seems the flavor grows as the cake sits for a bit.

Easy Blueberry Upside Down Cake

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 package yellow or butter cake mix + recipe eggs, oil, and water

1 teaspoon almond extract

Coat the bottom of a 13×9″ baking dish with butter; sprinkle with brown sugar and blueberries. Prepare cake batter according to package directions.  Add almond extract, mix well.  Evenly spread the batter over the blueberries.

Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate. If desired, serve warm with ice cream.  

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, holiday, No-Bake

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

  
This weekend, we had the pleasure of visiting my sister and her family for the July 4th holiday. One of the activities that we enjoy most is remaking recipes that have become a tradition in our family. This no-bake cake is a winner. The July 4th weather is usually warm and breezy so the ice cream cake is a refreshing treat after a long day of grilling, baseball, and fireworks. Just pop the finished cake into the freezer at the start of the day and it will be waiting for you when you want to sit down and enjoy time with family and friends. What a great, no fuss, dessert!

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

1 package (20 oz.) Oreo cookies

1/4 cup margarine, melted

1 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1 package (8 oz.) Cool Whip (thawed)

1 jar (16 oz.) hershey’s hot fudge or chocolate syrup

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups or your favorite chocolate candy, optional

Lightly spray, with cooking spray, a 9×13″ pan. Crush cookies in the food processor or put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Add melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Carefully spread the softened ice cream over the cookies. Evenly layer on the Cool Whip. Warm the fudge or chocolate until pourable in the microwave and drizzle over the Cool Whip. Sprinkle nuts over the entire cake. (Add the mini candies, optional.) Freeze for at least two hours or until firm. Enjoy!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Cranberry and Pecan Glazed Donuts



For the longest time, I’ve wanted to try making baked donuts. This past Christmas, I ordered two donut baking pans to put under the tree as a gift to myself.  (How many moms out there have done that before?)

I did my homework before ordering the pans…  I wanted something that was non-stick and had no seams in the donut bed so that the batter could lay evenly without getting trapped in the metal seam.  I found the perfect pans at Norpro.  

This past week, as my oldest daughter celebrated a birthday, I decided to make a tray of donuts in lieu of a traditional cake. She was scheduled to have back surgery the afternoon of her birthday and I wanted to bring a special bite-sized treat along so that she could nibble on a mini-birthday-donut the morning of the procedure.  

As I scoured my cookbooks and kitchen files for a suitable recipe, I spied a boxed muffin mix that carried a small picture of a basket of mini-donuts posted on the back of the package.  To my surprise, the recipe posted beside the picture was for baked donuts.  I thought…well, let’s give this a try.

So after a few alterations, I came up with this recipe adapted from Krusteaz Guilt Free Baked Donuts.





Sweet Cranberry and Pecan Glazed Donuts

Donuts:

1 package Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Fat Free Muffin Mix

1 can cranberries (enclosed in the box), drained and liquid reserved

3/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon almond extract

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Reserved cranberry liquid

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray with cooking spray, the donut baking pans.  For the donuts:  In a medium bowl, carefully stir together the muffin mix, cranberries, orange juice and extract.  Combine just until blended.  Place the batter in a gallon-sized sealable bag (or a pastry bag). Snip the plastic bag 1/8″ from the corner.  Evenly pipe the batter into the mini-donut baking pans.  Bake 8-12 minutes or until donuts spring back when touched.  Cool and remove to wire rack.  

For icing:  Place all icing ingredients (except nuts) in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle or dip donuts into the icing then sprinkle with chopped nuts.  

Note:  I also used the regular sized donut baking pan for this recipe.  Alter baking time by adding 10 minutes or until light golden brown and donuts spring back when touched.