Lucky Charms Cake Mix Cookies

I’m a huge fan of cereal. Any cereal. I can eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The sugary, food-colored kind is my favorite though. We were trying to think up a few fun recipes and it got me thinking –what can we make with cereal? What else goes well with milk? Cookies, duh.

Lucky Charms Cake Mix Cookies

These cookies are cakey and tender, they actually kind of remind me of cupcake tops (aka the best part). This recipe can be adapted to use any cereal (and trust me I’ll be doing that), but since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, Lucky Charms were the perfect choice. Besides tasting good, they’re super cute and colorful.

The base of this recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s Gooey Butter Cookie recipe.

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18 oz) box moist vanilla cake mix
1 cup Lucky Charms marshmallows

Directions Set oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Using a wooden spoon, stir in Lucky Charms marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours until firm. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until set.

Lucky Charms Cake Mix CookiesOriginally, I tried using the cereal pieces along with the marshmallows, but they got way too chewy and gross and didn’t add much to the flavor of the cookie. I would definitely recommend avoiding them. Just pick out all the cute marshmallows. They’re are the best part anyway.

Lucky Charms Cake Mix Cookies

Warm Up With Nutella Hot Chocolate

Based on all of the snow and rain pictures that I’m seeing across social media this week, I think it’s safe to say we could all use a little hot chocolate. If you want to warm up and don’t give a fuck about the calories, you need this hot chocolate in your life. It’s my favorite recipe because it contains NUTELLA.

Nutella Hot Chocolate!!!

 

In fact all you need is Nutella and milk. That’s it.

Ingredients:
2 cups of milk
1/3 cup Nutella

Heat the milk in a small pot over medium heat. Add Nutella and whisk until it’s combined and frothy. Pour into mugs and enjoy.

Optional: If you want to get really wild, sprinkle with a pinch of flaked sea salt.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

 

 

Champagne Drop Donuts with Champagne Glaze

Champagne. Donuts. My thought process for this was simple, I love champagne and I love donuts soooo… let’s make champagne donuts! And let’s put champagne in the glaze too, because obviously. Drop donuts are super easy because you basically just mix up the batter and drop spoonfuls of it into frying oil. They magically puff up into golden nuggets of yum.

Champagne DonutsChampagne Donuts:

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine (I recommend ‘extra dry’)
1 cup sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground nutmeg

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Beat together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, and champagne. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon to drop mixture into hot frying oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Champagne Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup champagne

In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and champagne until smooth, adding the champagne slowly. The glaze should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

While they’re still warm, dip the donuts into the glaze and then place on a cooling rack. Let cool and then serve.

Champagne Donuts

They’re crispy on the outside and fluffy cake on the inside. These donuts are perfect for a New Years Eve party, Valentine’s Day, a fancy luncheon, brunch, whatever! Eat them in your pajamas while watching Grey’s Anatomy. Who even needs a reason? Just do it.

Champagne Donuts

 

 

 

A Really Easy Apple Butter Recipe. Promise.

Remember when I told you guys about how I went apple picking and ended up with an absurd amount of apples? Well here’s what I did with most of them. I MADE APPLE BUTTER. This recipe is pretty much fool proof and you probably already have the ingredients stashed somewhere in your pantry.

I’ve seen plenty of variations, but this is how I like it. I like to let the natural flavor and sweetness of the apples to shine, so I don’t like to use as much sugar as other recipes call for. I also like the taste that the honey and orange add. Using apple cider instead of water gives a deeper and stronger apple flavor.

Easy Apple Butter Recipe

5 pounds of apples, peeled and chopped
2.5 cups apple cider
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
zest of half an orange
2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

First, core and peel about 5 lbs worth of apples. Then chop them into chunks.

Apple Butter Recipe

Then combine the apples with the other ingredients and cook covered over medium heat until the apples are soft.

Apple Butter Recipe

Next, use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. A regular blender works too.

Apple Butter Recipe

At this stage you’re going to put it into a 275 degree oven and bake it, uncovered, for a few hours until it has darkened and reduced to your desired thickness. About 3 hours should work. Check and stir every 30-45 minutes. It should simmer a little but not boil and splatter. If it does, reduce the temperature a little.

Once it’s all done you can store it in airtight containers for up to a week. Better yet, jar it and store it for later or give it as a gift.

Apple Butter Recipe

 

Here’s a bonus breakfast non-recipe-recipe for any left over apples you may have.

Baked Apples

Make a hole in the apples and fill them with a mixture of your favorite granola cereal, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Throw in some raisins if you want. Top with a pat of butter. Put 1/2 cup of apple cider and a couple of bay leaves in a baking pan with the apples. Bake at 275 until the apples are tender and the granola topping is lightly browned.

Baked Apples

 

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Pie with Speculoos Cookie Crust and Pecan Streusel

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

I love baking pies, you guys. For me there’s no better way to spend a cold autumn morning than baking a pie and listening to my favorite holiday mix. We’ve finally had some cooler weather and rain in California, so it was time to wake and bake. Pumpkin? Nah, been there. Sweet potato? Nah, done that. Butternut squash?  Yes. Butternut squash is probably my most favorite of the squashes, but I’d never had it in pie form, so I was unreasonably excited.

I didn’t feel like using regular pie crust, either. I’m such a rebel \m/. I thought maybe it would be nice with a cookie crust. *Light bulb* Have you ever had speculoos cookies? Jesus C. they’re good. They’re spiced and very crunchy. Perfect for crust making.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for. The filling has a similar consistency to pumpkin and sweet potato pie, but it has more of a fruity aroma and taste. The spiced cookie crust paired well with it and gave a nice texture. I added a pecan streusel on top because I like the roasted nut flavor along side all the sweetness. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a foodie d-bag. I won’t go on and on with the Top Chef style food chatter, but basically the pie is yummy and you should make it. Here’s the recipe.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust
Speculoos Cookie Crust:
1 pack of Speculoos cookies, 1 1/2 cups of crumbs
5 tbs melted butter

Use a blender or food processor to finely crush your cookies into crumbs. (If you don’t have either of those appliances, put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Melt butter on stove stop or microwave. Mix melted butter and crumbs together until it has a wet sand consistency. It should hold together when you pinch it. If your crust is still a little dry and won’t hold together, you can add a bit more melted butter until it does.  Put in pie pan and use your hands or a measuring cup to press and flatten the crumbs to the bottom and up against the sides.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it has set and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

This part of the pie is optional but highly recommended.

Pecan Streusel Topping

Pecan Streusel Topping (Optional):
1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss ingredients together and reserve for sprinkling on top of pie halfway through baking.

Now for the filling.

Butternut Squash Pie Filling Recipe

Pie Filling:
1 large butternut squash (approx. 2- 2/12 cups of puree)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

There are a few different methods to cooking the squash. First is the method I used because it gives a nice roasted flavor and cooks faster:
1.Peel, cut into large chunks, and roast at 400 degrees for 40-ish minutes.
Or, alternatively you can:
2. Cut it in half and bake it cut side down, for about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Peel, cut into large chunks, and boil until tender.

Let it cool and then puree it.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice and mix really well. Stir in the butternut squash puree and cream and mix until smooth. Pour into the prepared pie shell.

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Bake for about 45 minutes until filling has set and slightly risen in the middle. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. [Note: If using optional streusel mixture, sprinkle onto pie after 20 minutes and then continue baking for 25 more minutes]

Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

 

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Up until this week my husband and I had never had a concord grape. Well, aside from the grape jellies and juices made from them. They have been seemingly unfindable in our local markets, and believe me we have searched! A few days ago, across a crowded room, I locked eyes with the voluptuous purple grapes sitting there in the produce section. It was like finally finding the one you’ve always been searching for. I know, I know, THEY’RE JUST GRAPES (blahblahblah), but I was very excited.

Anyway, the grapes are good. They taste exactly how I thought they would, because they basically taste like grape jelly. I can get down with that.

Now we had to decide what to do with them. Rosemary seemed like a great companion. For acidity, balsamic vinegar sounded perfect. White balsamic though. It’s is milder in flavor and has its own taste that we prefer over regular balsamic vinegar in this particular recipe.

Spoon cakes are great dessert to whip up. No cooling, frosting, or layering required. Just pour the batter into a pie or baking dish and then spoon it out for everyone once it’s ready. Spoon cakes also have a casual style and appeal that I like for family style meals and gatherings.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, and Rosemary Spoon Cake

Anyway enough of my rambling, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients
1lb Concord Grapes
1tbs Honey
1tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
1tbs Rosemary (Roughly chopped)
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8″ deep pie dish or cake pan.
In a bowl, toss the grapes with honey, white balsamic vinegar, and rosemary and set aside.
In another bowl, sift the flour, salt, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes, until thick and pale yellow (a ribbon should form when you lift the beater).
Fold in the dry ingredients gently with a spatula, until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter into the baking dish, and gently spread the grapes on top. They’ll sink and settle nicely into the cake.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

This tastes best when served warm. It also tastes amazing with vanilla ice cream. To me, nothing is better than a warm piece of spoon cake with cold ice cream. Get. It.

Concord Grape, White Balsamic, Rosemary Spoon Cake

Mini Pie Cupcakes – They’re Cupcakes with Pie Inside!

Mini Pie Cupcakes? Mini PieCakes? CupPieCakes?

Call them whatever you want but these are my new favorite things. Remember the pie-cake I made? It’s almost like that, but in cupcake form. Sure, the cake was good, but most of the time I’ll pick cupcakes over cake. This version is more simple and mild, but still very delicious and interesting. These cupcakes were a lot easier to manage and took a lot less time than the monster pie-cake. So if you’re feeling intimidated by pie-cakes because of flavor and effort, try this instead.

This time I made the cake and frosting from scratch, which I very much prefer and will do next time I attempt a pie-cake. What I didn’t make from scratch were the mini pies. It would be simple enough to do that using a mini cupcake tin, but it wasn’t necessary because Trader Joe’s has the best mini pies ever. Are you familiar with this medley of fruit pies? Well, you should be.

Trader Joes Mini Pies

All you need to do is whip up some cake batter and frosting (your own recipe or boxed is fine) and buy (or make) some mini pies. If you’re using frozen pies, let them thaw out for a bit.

Pie inside of a cupcake!

I made my favorite yellow cake recipe. It has a classic flavor and is the perfect density to hold the pie.

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Cream room temperature butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat. Gradually add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time) and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add them to the butter mixture alternating with the milk.

Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Pour a small amount of batter into the liner and push it up the sides a little. Place the mini pie in and top with more cake batter. Bang the pan on the counter to make sure everything is settled in there. Then bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Mini Pie Cupcakes. Pie inside of the cupcake!

The frosting I used is a simple buttercream.

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

Cream together the butter and vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar and add it to the butter mixture. Scrape down the bowl often to make sure all everything is mixed in. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until it’s your desired consistency. Beat until smooth for about 2-4 minutes.

Pie filled cupcakes!What you get is PIE INSIDE OF CAKE IN CUPCAKE FORM. You get the best of both worlds. The pie center is so good. And the piecrust goes super well with the fluffy cake. It’s basically a dream hybrid dessert.

Introducing the Banana Split PieCake

Let’s talk about pie-cake. It’s like the turducken of cakes. A piecaken? Who knows where this thing even got started but the first one I ever saw was when Charles Phoenix made his cherpumple (cherry/pumpkin/apple) cake. It’s 3 layers of cake with pies baked into each one. I always try explaining this to people and they look at me like I have three heads until I show them a picture. So here.

Cherpumple
Naturally I was excited by two of my favorite things coming together to make a monster dessert and I wanted to make one.

I figured it could work with other flavor combos, and I just so happened to have been craving a banana split, so I devised a plan to make my very own banana split inspired piecake.

To me the perfect banana split consists of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams topped with pineapple, chocolate, and strawberry sauces. Lots of cherries and whipped cream. So, I would do:

Vanilla cake with Cherry Pie
Chocolate Cake with Pineapple Pie
Strawberry Banana Filling
Whipped Buttercream Frosting
And then a topping of cherries, chocolate sauce, and more bananas.

Sounds good right? I went out and bought all the ingredients and then I thought, “WHO THE F IS GOING TO EAT ALL OF THIS WITH ME?” I figured it would be better to bake it while we were in Florida visiting family and friends. I could serve it to them at our little shindig. So I put it off and waited until we got to my friend Alan’s house.

Alan has a great kitchen for cooking and baking, but Alan is also a bachelor who had nothing I needed to properly execute this cake. I used some serious ingenuity, my friends. I ended up mixing my boxed cake up in a giant stock pot, by hand, with a wooden spoon. Don’t even ask me how I did the rest. It’s all a blur. I will tell you that Winn-Dixie sold me rancid butter so I gave up and bought canned frosting. I will also tell you that Publix didn’t have a pineapple pie so I had to make one. Luckily that’s the easiest thing to make. For the filling, I melted 4tbs melted with 4 tbs flour and then mixed in a large can of crushed pineapple, a tbs of honey, and a tbs of sugar. I threw it into a frozen pie shell and topped it with more dough. It made a very suitable pineapple pie. Oh God, who am I? Sandra Lee?

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 pineapple pie, homemade or store bought
1 cherry pie, homemade or store bought
2 cups macerated strawberries (mix 1 pound of strawberries with 2 tbs sugar, let stand for 30 minutes)
2  large bananas, sliced
Frosting
Chocolate sauce
Maraschino cherries
Anyway it was time to put this cake together so here’s what I did…

Pour half of your cake batter into a deep 9″ cake pan. De-tin the pie and plop it inside.

How to make a PieCake

Then cover with more of your cake batter.

Something I learned for next time is that I won’t use all of the batter and I won’t follow the box instructions for baking the cake. Because of the pie in the middle, the cake takes forever to bake. Most cakes bake at around 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I think baking at a lower temperature is better, like 325 or so, for a longer baking time, about 60 minutes. That will help the cake bake evenly so you don’t end up with dry edges.

How to make a PieCake

After baking, let the cakes cool completely before taking them out of the pan. Then make your filling. I just macerated strawberries by mixing about one pound of strawberries with 2 tbs of sugar and letting them sit out for about 30 minutes.

Now put it all together. Lay the first layer on a platter, frost it, top with strawberries and sliced banana, then lay the next layer on top. Frost and top with bananas, chocolate sauce, and maraschino cherries.

Banana Split Pie Cake
Banana Split PieCake

Here’s what it looks like inside.

Banana Split Pie Cake

Not a bad first attempt! It was tasty and verrryyy filling. Now that I’ve picked up some tips and I’m back in my own kitchen, I think I’m ready for another go at it. Now I just need to decide what flavor combo to do next. Banana Split PieCake!

 

 

Super Simple Date Nut Cake Recipe

Remember all those dates I bought during a trip to Shields Date Garden? I’ve already been putting them to use, and not just by shoving them into my mouth and spitting out the pits like a semi-automatic weapon. I’ve been using them in recipes, like this cake recipe I found in vintage community church cookbook from 1953. Dates were all the rage back in the day.

This cake is moist, sweet, and nutty. It’s like a coffee cake or banana bread in flavor and consistency.

Date Nut Cake

The recipe is super easy and requires almost no skill. You basically just dump everything in a bowl and bake it.

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped dates (medjool dates are perfect. They’re soft and sweet)
1 cup chopped nuts (The original recipe calls for walnuts. I used pecans. Almonds also work well.)
1 cup hot water
1 level tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

In a bowl, pour hot water over dates and nuts. Let cool while making the rest of the cake. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg, date/nut/water mixture, baking soda, and flour. Mix well and pour into cake or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Date Nut Cake

 

Sidenote: How cute is my new cake stand from Oh Joy for Target?

Date Nut Cake

 

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Easy Pumpkin Challah Bread Recipe

Mmmmm bread! Get in my belly, gluten.  Fall means feeling the need to eat all things pumpkin, all the time…right? Well here’s a really easy pumpkin bread recipe. It’s basically pumpkin challah, hollaaaaa! (sorry, not sorry). You can slice this and use it for sandwiches, toast it up or French it for breakfast, or use it for bread puddings.

Pumpkin Challah

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 1 large egg yolk for eggwash
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

First, proof yeast by mixing the dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Add a pinch of sugar and mix. Let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.

Use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks with remaining water. Add salt, oil, honey, pumpkin, and spices. Mix well. Switch to a dough hook and add yeast mixture to the bowl. Stir until combined. Slowly add flour 1 cup at a time until incorporated. Dump dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Put dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it rises and doubles in size, between 1-3 hours. Dump the dough back onto your floured work surface and punch it one or two times.

Pumpkin Challah Dough

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use your dough to form a loaf. Make light slices across the top. Let the it sit, covered with a kitchen towel, until it rises and doubles in size again.

Pumpkin Challah Dough

Use remaining egg yolk and water mixture to glaze the top of the loaf. Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes.

Pumpkin Challah Bread

Now eat it.

Pumpkin Challah Bread