Marisa loves PURPLE!
Oh yes, my beautiful niece does love purple - with a passion!!! I saw this recipe months ago and saved it to make as her birthday cake. Yes, I know that there are lots of ways to make a cake purple, but this had some really decadent ingredients. I was originally going to make it exactly as shown.
(photo from Sweet&
As a busy young adult who works full-time, is about to get her Master's degree, and now lives an hour and a half away, plans changed at the last moment from a Sunday afternoon to a Friday evening – just 30 minutes after I would be getting home from work. The open edges of this beautiful cake would not allow for prepping the mini-cakes ahead – it would dry out SO quickly! I consulted with my friend Maria (who does cakes and catering as a side gig) and we agreed I could make CAKE layers a few days ahead and FREEZE! She said it would not only keep it fresh, it would make frosting easier – I liked that!! Since it was my niece, I opted for my heart shaped pans. So on Wednesday evening I made the cake batter as instructed – OH MY, is this thick and rich (that's the vanilla and food coloring gel nestling, just to show the consistency)!!!
Seriously, you need an offset spatula to spread to the edges! I added the prescribed amount of gel coloring, added just a touch more... And something in me told me to only bake one layer.
It came out much lighter than I'd hoped,
so I added about the same amount of coloring to the remaining batter and baked another layer... better, but... Yep, more coloring!!! TADA!!! Trimmed the crowns and edges, packaged in heavy duty aluminum foil and froze. Thursday night I made a double batch of the buttercream frosting – I probably could have gotten by with one and a half batches, but ya know, you can never have too much buttercream!!! I might have been picky, but I wanted just a touch more lemon flavor (already using the zest and juice of a lemon per batch), so I added a splash (maybe a Tblsp?) of lemon oil – I didn't regret it!
As you can see, I schmeared the middle of each layer and did the piping around the edges. I wanted it pretty, but I wasn't about to waste my time, lol. BE CAREFUL AS YOU ADD EACH LAYER OF CAKE!!! You only get one shot at dropping it on the previous without destroying the beauty you just created!
Piped the entire top layer - really not that difficult and OH SO WORTH IT!
Garnished with blackberries, with more to place around the serving platter.
The ombre was NOT intentional, but it certainly worked! The cake was rich and decadent as well as beautiful! Easy in each step, and the way I did it worked on a tight schedule. Had batter and frosting leftover, so I even made a one layer for my friend. This is a keeper for SO many reasons – if I want to do a lime/margarita version, or peach, or cherry, or blueberry... I can always change up the coloring and extracts!
Enjoy <3

Posted by Linda :
Monday 18 March 2019 - 01:17:52
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Ghoulish Pizza
SO sorry I'm late with this!!! I happened to catch the tail end of the show, and Mario Batali had prepared this perfectly ghoulish pizza - which I simply HAD to make!
Awesome, right? And it tastes even better. I already had some pizza dough that I'd made using King Arthur's recipe, but I cooked them using the skillet technique from Mario - you've got to try it!!! Just like grilling pizzas, you've got a partially cooked crust with a crisp bottom that all you have to do is add your toppings and bake or broil a bit more. A "keeper" technique wink So, you slowly saute your onions in an oil/butter combo, and then simmer for a bit in some diluted balsamic vinegar with just a touch of sugar. This element I've made before, and even if the idea of the pizza escapes you, these onions are delicious!!! You spread some creamy goat cheese over the top of the crusts and garnish with the onion!!!
A couple comments here: as a viewer pointed out in the comments, add the olive oil to the goat cheese to make it easier to spread. I ended up adding more than the recipe called for, but I got the texture I wanted. Personally, I'd go with a bit more cheese as well... I hadn't purchased enough cipollini and that's why you see some sloppy rings. I made a second batch of the balsamic glazed onion, using plain old yellow onions... The cipollini were definitely the "ghoulier", but we didn't really notice a difference in the flavor. Now, we can't forget the "blood sauce" - a simmered mixture of equal parts red wine and sugar. I simply couldn't resist this brand -
cheesey Only a cup went into the sauce, and this was a very nice, dry Cabernet Sauvignon at a very reasonable price. Pop the pizzas under the broiler to your desired "darkness" and drizzle with the sauce.
You need not make it horrid looking, but the flavor combinations are sublime. I found a bit of salt and pepper accentuated the sweet, salty and savoriness of the dish. This is a dish worthy of year round enjoyment!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 11 November 2017 - 00:41:45
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Sweet and Salty and Seasonal ;-)
This makes an incredibly big batch, so have some airtight containers ready!!! But it's easy as can be: Toss the "salty" together (rice chex, pretzels, bugles)...
Gently bake with a glaze (butter, brown sugar, vanilla)...
Now, ME? I would have stopped here - those are peanut butter and chocolate pieces...
but it IS a holiday that's all about the sugar !!
It's on dozens of sites, but this is the one that I used for Harvest Chex Mix!

Posted by Linda :
Monday 30 October 2017 - 01:18:10
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Calling all Harry Potter fans
My niece Ris is in her junior year of college and shall be spending this next semester studying in Spain! I wanted to send her off with something silly, yet unique and maybe even thoughtful? I think I found just the thing when I stumbled upon a collection of recipes based on the Harry Potter series wink Now, I've admitted my lack of J.K knowledge in the past, and while it hasn't improved at all, who could resist Chocolate Frogsquestion? Step One: I bought the detailed molds she mentioned from Amazon; and Step Two: I MADE a batch! I liked the idea of the pretzels for crunch, so that's how I started.
They floated, but if I had waited, my molds would have overflowed. After about 10 minutes at room temp, I used a chopstick to push them down – a couple times – before I put them in the fridge.
Using this mold with the addition of pretzel bites, a single batch made enough for three+ trays, or over two dozen frogs!
I had some 3x5 plastic bags, so a frog went into each, packed into a simple container... And of course she gets the molds, recipe, a couple boxes of gelatin and one of Dark cocoa (I used “regular” cocoa for my batch) – I truly hope she can find sugar, milk and vanilla, or my baking gal is gonna be lost, lol! Bon Voyage – oops! Tenga un buen viaje!!! Love you, Lady <3 ps unless I messed up my conversions, personally I would add a bit/bunch more sugar. the pretzels add texture but do NOT crunch frown your call, as always...

Posted by Linda :
Monday 07 September 2015 - 19:08:48
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Ok, THIS recipe made me buy Popsicle molds
Over the years I've seen lots of recipes for popsicles. Some seemed interesting, so I tried them the way my Grandma made frozen treats – with an ice cube tray! I fondly remember a blend of orange and pineapple juice that was served in cubes and held with toothpicks (two per cube, as I recall). Those I made, and enjoyed. There was another from my youth – pudding made with either twice the milk or half the milk. Neither version brought back satisfactory memories. Some I found online turned out more like slushies, some froze so hard they simply wouldn't break apart and were oddly flavored ice, and then the creamy ones were SO delicious – but they wouldn't freeze into a solid form. I was about to give up, but then... Key Lime Pie POPSICLESquestion? Not only did it SOUND delicious, the recipe used a balance of water based ingredients (lime juice) with enough creamy stuff (I'll let you read the recipe) that it just MIGHT freeze and still be eatable? I bought some molds, and as they say, the rest is history, lol! Zest and juice some limes and blend with the rest of the ingredients – it definitely doesn't look like water, yet it's more fluid than some that included whipping in the process. I didn't have quite enough juice from my limes, so I rounded up with lemon juice - I liked the slight tartness.
These are the molds I chose – there are LOTS of types out there! I liked these as the end result could be portable – I could make several batches, and not risk losing any necessary parts.
Yes! The finished lime popsicles are coated with graham cracker crumbs! Just like what the pie crust is made of!!!!! See?
Some parts of preparing food require science. Baking is definitely one, and after my experience I'd suggest that freezing may be as well. Now that I know the balance between water and fat, as I've found that to be critical in this process, I'll be sharing more frozen summer(?) treats. Yes – you definitely need to make some room in your freezer!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 09 July 2015 - 02:32:53
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Two Treats in One
Looking for an inexpensive twist on a classic, simple meal? May I present Pretzel Dogs! We're talking basics here – it's too cold to attempt anything elaborate. Invest a little time (and I would double this recipe if you have kids), and you've got a tasty, available treat. This dough is very straight forward – the author uses a bread machine, but it's easy enough even if you don't have that. I'm blessed with a stand mixer (my KitchenAid and I have been BFFs for almost 30 years!), but this can be done by hand. It is a dense dough, so a little elbow grease is required – even though I let the KitchenAid do most of the work, I always finish by hand kneading. I left it covered with a towel in a semi-warm place for about an hour and a half. I couldn't quite roll it out to the dimensions requested, so I cut the strips and rolled each individually.
Wrap each strip in a spiral pattern around each hot dog, and pinch the dough together well.
The next step is to boil these in a baking soda solution – that is what makes them pretzels! The chemical reaction is what allows the outside to get crisp while keeping the inside soft. A similar technique is used in making bagels, btw.
Notice the difference between the two in the front and the others? That's after only about 30 seconds in the bath! And this is why you need to make sure you've carefully “pinched” your dough – it is so easy for the “twists” to unwind. Feel free to reposition the coils as needed, and when you have a tray full, brush with an eggwash and sprinkle with coarse salt. And BAKE!
If you plan on freezing these, I agree with the author – DON'T salt them. Salt in the freezer would make them soggy – just pull from the freezer, moisten with a spritz of water, sprinkle with salt and bake until warmed through. Honest, you bake them about the same amount of time you did the first round, a whole 15 minutes – but it's WORTH IT!!! I love my soft pretzels with mustard, and trust me, it works! And if you're one of those that likes cheese, let me just say that you're in for a treat!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 20 February 2015 - 08:21:54
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There's still time to do something "WOW"!
If you've got the ingredients and containers, you can still make one, or two... or ALL of these! I paid attention, and got some awesome gifts for the (almost adult) kids, but we “grown ups” decided to keep it simple this year. Surprise, surprise... I made a few things wink I like to have a theme, and since I've seen so many different recipes almost everywhere this season, I am fudging it. Yes, I've made a collection of what could arbitrarily be called “gourmet” fudge. A variety of fudges? It's not just your Grandma's chocolate fudge anymore... Remember that Pecan Pie Cheesecake version? Yep, some of that is going into the packages. And a couple years ago I shared that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough delight – that was a joy to create again! Honestly, this is the only one that requires any serious effort or any skill at all. All the others use sweetened condensed milk (Dulce de leche {ahem}) or marshmallows, marshmallow creme and/or white chocolate, which isn't chocolate at all... I HAD to make a peanut butter version, cause, well, that's my favorite classic!
Now here's where it got interesting! How about Mint Chocolate Chip?
If 'cookie dough' was great, why not Cake Batterquestion? Looks fun, doesn't it?
To create an even more indulgent indulgence (tee hee), I even stumbled upon a recipe for Jack Daniel's fudge... Let me tell you – smooth southern whiskey and dark chocolate, well... It's kind of a divine pairing.
I was SO tempted to add some pecans to that one, but it was so indescribably creamy, that I couldn't risk it. There's one more underway, so I can't share my results yet, but here's a copy of their pic
I'll have each type sealed, with a few varieties per box, but here is my imagining of the ultimate serving platter – that is, IF you find yourself able to share cheesey
Actually, this platter is for my workplace's buffet tomorrow - I've opted to omit the boozy variety, tho I'm bringing a sample for a buddy to take home wink

Posted by Linda :
Friday 19 December 2014 - 21:35:23
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Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Cream Cheese COOKIES! OH MY!!!
Prep time for these is literally about 5 minutes – and I made TWO batches!! Now, that is your actual effort – for best results, you've GOT TO let these chill overnight. But, OH Baby – these are good! I've seen a few versions of Crescent Roll based cookies, so I decided to go with the “wiki” to try myself, and to share with you. First, you whip some room temp cream cheese with sugar and vanilla, and then you spread it on an opened “tube” of crescent rolls. Pinch the seams together first, of course. I mixed my choice of dark chocolate and peanut butter chips, and then sprinkled, well, sort of evenly...
Now, here's the odd part – as you roll this up, narrow end to narrow end, the entire roll grows! Looking at that pic, you've got maybe a 6” x 12” base – yet what I ended up with was a bout a 13” log, approximately 2” in diameter. As I said, I made two batches – so once I rolled each, I wrapped them in plastic wrap, and gently “smooshed” them into an even log – and then chilled overnight (one will be frozen for future use).
Now, it was 80+ degrees today, our first “scorcher” of the season – and I turned my oven on for these wink
Very, very nice! A delightful cross between cookies and pastry – with absolutely NO fuss! Not too sweet (even when you hit that chip!), and superbly simple. I'll agree with the original post – use mini chips, or coarsely chop whatever blend you choose. Every single cookie looks different, and probably has a different flavor palate – actually, I LIKE that! But if you want them uniform, smaller is better. Next time I think I'll add some finely chopped nuts... I am SO glad I doubled this {tee hee}!!!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 14 May 2014 - 03:46:25
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There's still time!
White chocolate (tinted) covered strawberries. They look like carrots!


Cute simple Easter centerpiece. Buy carrots with greens and pretty spring flowers.


Happy Easter!

[Submitted by Salyab]

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 20 April 2014 - 15:08:14
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A Beautiful Bird's Nest
I was inspired by this delightful rendition, but I had to do it my own way. What can I say? So I started with my favorite carrot cake recipe (without the coconut – I'll explain later!), and created from there. First – why couldn't I use a bundt pan? It's circular, sloped on the side, already has a hole... So that's what I did! I didn't want to fill up my standard 12 cup pan more than halfway (how deep are nests anyways?), so I baked an 8”x8” layer to save for later wink. Adjust your timing, checking after about 30 minutes.
Apparently I didn't prepare my pan well enough, or perhaps carrot cake and bundt pans are simply not a good match, so there were some loose pieces. I did what they refer to as a 'crumb coat', a thin layer of icing to help hold it together, and chilled. Oh yeah – the icing... I still can't imagine any frosting other than cream cheese on a carrot cake, so I doubled the original recipe for that – but I added about a quarter cup of cocoa to turn it brown. So far so good!
Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have the patience for intricate icing techniques. Not that there's anything WRONG with that, but I needed a simpler plan. Now, here's why I left the coconut out of the cake – I dyed it brown, and patted it against the cream cheese frosting! Equal parts of red and green food coloring make brown – adjust as you like (in other words, PLAY) to get the shade you want. Add a teaspoon or two of water, and then “smoosh” your coconut strands in a plastic bag until you get the hue/depth desired. [HINT: I set a little coconut aside, used a touch of plain white, dyed a tiny bit green, and then tossed the entire bunch together].
Now, for the best part – fill the hollow with purchased malted milk “eggs” - and you've got an Easter dessert unlike any other!
Thanks again, Vanilla Bean Baker - your idea is magnificent! I truly hope you don't mind my tweaks... wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 20 April 2014 - 04:01:15
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