Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Cake, Desserts

Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf



As the early spring weather brings the hope for a bumper crop of beautiful berries, green speared asparagus, and long stalks of leafy rhubarb, I’m always reminded of this recipe for Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf…

Years ago, when my children were young, I owned a home daycare that would serve the purpose of caring for neighborhood children (along with my own) and helped to bring in a little extra money in the process.  I must admit, the days were long and the children were often more work than I expected but every day brought with it a new set of rewards and cherished experiences.  

One early evening, just before a holiday weekend, a parent arrived late to pick up her only son.  She apologized for her tardiness and placed a cellophane wrapped Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf on the kitchen table before leaving.  She had presented it as a token of appreciation and as an Easter gift.   

That evening, I sliced the loaf and placed it on our dinner table to be served with our Good Friday meal. I served the loaf with a big pot of tea and was delighted with its moist and flavorful texture as the loaf was chocked with plump berries and crunchy pecans.  I quickly made a note to ask this parent for the recipe.  She obliged and I’ve cherished it ever since.  


Strawberry & Pecan Tea Loaf

2 cups fresh strawberries, diced

3 cups flour

2 cups + 2 teaspoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray, two 9 x 5″ loaf pans. Place strawberries in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with 2 teaspoons of sugar; set aside.

Combine flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl; mix well. Mix oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, mixing until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in chopped pecans. Divide batter into pans.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaves comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto wire racks; cool completely before slicing.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Cooking In Disney World, Desserts, Food

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

After vacationing this past week, I wanted to share a great recipe that I often make when I’m traveling. As I’ve mentioned before, my family frequently travels to our Disney Vacation Club time share to rest and relax.  I often pack a bag full of munchies, packaged mixes, peanut butter and jelly and a tin of homemade cookies for the road.  This year I put a box of angel food cake mix and a can of crushed pineapple in the food bag, along with all of the other essentials needed for a week’s worth of meals.   I was anxious to whip up this tasty treat for a late night dessert with the family. You’ll find this cake to be light and airy and full of flavor.  The tiny bits of pineapple are barely seen in the finished product but they pack a flavorful punch.  Unbelievably, the recipe includes only two ingredients (with the exception of an optional sprinkle of powdered sugar for a bit of pizzaz). Pair the cake with a handful of sweet berries and you’ve got a winner!

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

1 (16 ounce) package angel food cake mix

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray a 13X9″ baking pan. Simply combine cake mix and entire can of pineapple in a large bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool before topping with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Desserts, Food

Apricot and Oatmeal Fruit Bars

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I sent another care package to campus this week. Inside, I carefully tucked some dried fruit, a couple of containers of soup, a bag of granola, and a few homemade Apricot and Oatmeal Fruit Bars.
While I’ve had this recipe for a while, I have never really made this particular bar before. It’s adapted from the original that is printed on the inside of the Solo fruit filling label. When I recently stumbled across the recipe in my kitchen file, I realized that it was a much simpler version as compared to my traditional fruit bar recipe that I make with my homemade Concord Grape Jam.
Talking with my daughter this week, she thanked me for the package and disclosed that she had shared the bars with two of her good friends. I was given a big “thumbs up” as they both thought the bars were delicious. I was thrilled to hear that one of M’s friends requested the recipe and that’s exactly why I am posting it today. I originally started this blog to be used to share cherished recipes with family and friends and this is the perfect way to do just that.

Apricot and Oatmeal Fruit Bars

1 package yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (12 oz) can Solo Cake & Pastry Filling, apricot or your favorite flavor
Topping: 2 tablespoons cinnamon and brown sugar instant oatmeal mix.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9″ pan. Combine cake mix, and oats. Add margarine and egg. Mix until moist and crumbly. With damp fingers, evenly press half of the mixture into the baking pan. Carefully top this layer with the apricot filling; spreading over entire surface. Finally, top with remaining oat mixture. Sprinkle with instant oatmeal topping. Bake 22-26 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

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

Whole Grain Pineapple Carrot Cake

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Recently, I presented a home food preservation workshop and I asked all in attendance to bring along a favorite recipe for a potluck lunch. One of the items on the table was a moist, dense carrot cake. This bundt cake was presented beautifully on a footed platter with a light glaze that flowed down the sides of the dessert. I neglected to ask the gentleman that made the cake to share his recipe so I quickly searched the web for a similar treat when I returned home that day. I looked up a few great looking recipes and combined a few that I liked. This is what I came up with.
This is a doozy of a cake, great for the upcoming holidays. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Pineapple Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup unsweetened crushed canned pineapple, drained
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil, sugar, and eggs; mix well.
Stir in remaining 4 ingredients. Bake in prepared bundt cake pan for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Frost as desired.

I sent a little care package off to my children with a few yummy baked goods. This is a great idea for a co-worker or support staff gift.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Kids in the Kitchen

Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip

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Several weeks ago, my husband and I joined his extended family for a beautiful country club brunch. We had decided to plan the event without all of our children because their busy schedules seemed to foil all of our plans for actually getting together. Some kids were away at school, others had scheduled sporting events, and still others had obligations to employers and had to report to work. After days of shuffling schedules, we decided to have a quiet brunch, parents only.
Just before the day arrived, I headed out to the local kitchen store and picked up a few fresh new kitchen towels, wrapped them in tissue paper and popped them in gift bags to share with all of the woman attending the brunch. It seems we’ve adopted the custom of bringing little gifts to this annual event. We often bring flowers, or inexpensive jewelry, the latest gadget, etc., just to share some fun and celebrate Easter and the arrival of spring.
This year, one of the gifts that I received was a gadget called a Ratcheting Pineapple Slicer and I can’t tell you how wonderful this kitchen tool has turned out to be. The instructions that accompany the tool are fairly easy to follow and in no time at all, you’ve got a perfectly sliced pineapple with very little waste and cleanup is a snap.

Here’s how it works:

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As warmer weather begins to make its way up into the Midwest, communities welcome local farmer’s market vendors as they dust off their aprons and set up their wares in the bright weekend sunshine. Sweet colorful berries of every kind brighten the booths of local farmers.
This Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip recipe is a nice addition to a plate of freshly washed and prepared fruit. The unique mix of brown sugar and honey make for a tasty brunch treat or after school snack.

Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip

1 cup non-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
1½ teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
Plate with assorted fresh fruit.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts

Crazy Delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake

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We celebrated J’s birthday with this wonderfully delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake. After the birthday boy blew out the candles, the cake received rave reviews from the birthday crowd. This rich, chocolatey cake served along with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream makes for a delicious birthday treat. With just a few convenient ingredients, this outstanding dessert can be assembled in no time at all. It will disappear quite quickly so be sure to keep the basic ingredients on hand for another round of deliciousness!

Crazy Delicious Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake

1 box Devil’s Food Chocolate cake mix
(Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box)
1 box milk chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix (4 serving size)
2 cups cold milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 13×9″pan. Mix and bake cake according to package directions; cool completely. With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake every 1/2″. In a medium bowl, beat instant pudding mix and cold milk with a whisk as directed on package. Pour pudding evenly over cake. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Desserts

Yogurt and Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

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I really like using up the last of the yogurt container by slipping the contents into a smoothie, a parfait, or a muffin/cake mix. Last summer, I opened a large container of vanilla yogurt and as I pulled back the lid, I found a recipe for delicious muffins that included a bit of yogurt in the recipe. After making the first batch of the muffins, I knew that I would use yogurt to substitute for some of the added fat in many of my treasured recipes. The yogurt helps to moisten and lighten up the cake’s consistency and is certainly a healthier alternative to sour cream or added oil/butter.
This coffee cake recipe is a perfect example. Omitting sour cream and adding apples to the original recipe makes for a flavorful moist morning treat. In fact, enjoy this comfort food anytime. Add a piping hot cup of tea or coffee and a good book…and you will be set for a lazy winter weekend afternoon.

Yogurt and Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
2/3 cup oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 small tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray with cooking spray, a 9×13″ baking pan. Mix together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Fold in chopped apples. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir into liquid ingredients just until no lumps remain.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with the brown sugar and butter.
Pour half of the batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the batter with half of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Spread the rest of the batter over top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, cool before cutting cake.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

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With busy weekend activities, sporting events, and altered work schedules out of the way, we were finally able to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday. The suggestion of a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant was a welcome treat. While dinner was taken care of by the restaurant staff, we decided to choose a movie and gather at home to share a homemade chocolatey dessert.
This is a great last minute recipe as there are only three ingredients involved. Water, cake mix and premium cocoa. That’s it. The light airy texture of the angel food cake, mixed with the rich chocolate flavor of the cocoa make for a delicious valentine treat. A few scoops of French vanilla ice cream and a scattering of berries make this dessert a bit more decadent. What a wonderful way to spend a quiet evening with the family!

Chocolatey Angel Food Cake

1 pkg. (14.5 to 16 oz.) angel food cake mix
1/2 cup premium baking cocoa
powdered sugar (optional)
Fresh berries (optional)

Preheat the oven according to cake mix package directions. In a large bowl, carefully combine cocoa with angel food cake mix. Prepare and bake the cake mix according to package directions. Finish cake by drizzling with icing or sprinkling with powdered sugar; garnish with berries.

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Posted in Baked goods, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Dump It In Brownies

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Many years ago, while looking through a magazine at one of our regularly scheduled well visits for the kids, I stumbled upon this recipe for brownies. I was amazed by the simplicity involved in making this rich, chocolatey treat.
The first time I used the recipe, I had three small children in tow. All of them sporting hand-made aprons and propped up on stools to assist with the baking project. I had pre-measured all of the ingredients and had things lined up so that the kids could pour everything into the bowl before mixing. I kept saying, “Go ahead, guys…just dump it in!” Well, the look on their faces was priceless! Mom is actually letting us just dump this stuff in? I’m usually quite methodical when baking so my carefree attitude was really messing with their minds.
Weeks later, K asked if we could bake again. She asked if we could make the “dump it in” recipe. Well, the name stuck and that’s what we called these moist, delicious brownies ever since. I’ve changed up the recipe a bit but it certainly is a moist flavorful treat, that’s fun to make with the kiddos.

Dump It In Brownies

2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, dump in all ingredients. Combine well, stirring just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before icing. Sprinkle extra chips over chocolate frosting of your choice.

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