My mother doesn’t waste food. Like nothing. It could be that she cooks everyday or that she doesn’t eat out unless we take her. Whatever it is, other than my sister and my habit of stockpiling snacks, she doesn’t have more than what she needs – in food. Her household hoarding habits are a different story to be addressed later.
I confided in her one day that I hate wasting vegetables that I never get around to cooking. She looked at me as if I had just revealed to her that I was working for the devil. In an attempt to gain understanding, I asked her if she ever deals with that problem. She just shook her head no. Now, with just my grasping for a way out of this conversation, I told her the following: “You know, when I come back from work, I just don’t feel like cooking so we pick up something.” Like kryptonite to Superman. Disappointment would be an understatement.
In short, my mom uses everything she buys. And, I – well, I’m trying my best.
So, when I made this cake, I had four egg yolks left over (from here) that I needed to use. Otherwise, the guilt would eat me alive. And, I would much rather eat pudding.
Oh and by the way. No skin. I know this is a heated debate, but no skin. The fact that the word to describe that layer is called ‘skin’ is just enough to say no skin. So, if you are like me and no skin – cover like above – place the plastic wrap on top of the pudding itself. If you are a skin person, cover the top of the dish without touching the dish.
Adapted from Taste of Home
Yields 6-8 servings
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add milk and egg yolks and stir until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened.
- Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring several times. Pour into individual dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 2 hours.
My husband’s family doesn’t care much for birthday celebrations. But, they do make an effort for their mother. In a family full of boys one her, it’s quite sweet to watch them devise a plan to celebrate her birthday. This year, we were short on time and put together a quick plan to accommodate a rowdy baby and a son who was only in town for a short period of time.
Taking into consideration my mother in law’s preferences for cake, I knew I had to construct something light, not-to-sweet and definitely included fruit. As long as I’ve known her she’s ordered these magnificent cakes with glazed fruit, slivered almonds and whipped cream frosting. With hours to make it, I found some supplies I had on hand to put together a cake she would love.
With my favorite American buttercream being too sweet for her taste and not having time to make Swiss meringue buttercream, my options were limited. So, I tried something new based on what I had on hand. I’m so glad I did. This cake was a hit. Bringing back memories of when she would bake cakes for her sons, she ate her cake happily. It was a good day.
Frosting using heavy whipping cream can be finnicky and not always the stable when you want to make a presentation. Although you can stabilize it with powdered sugar, this frosting using Cool Whip is way more stable. Especially with the addition of powdered sugar, I was able to keep the cake and frosting in its proper form through the afternoon while we ate pieces of the cake.
If I would have changed anything, based on supplies I had on hand, I would have added more blueberries on the top. If you want to make more layers (cut each layer in half for a four layer cake), just make sure you double the filling and frosting. I had just enough frosting for a filling layer, the outer layer and just enough for piping.
Berry Vanilla Bean Cake with Whipped Frosting
cake slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction and also used here
makes a two layer 8′ inch cake
- 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cups berries (mixed or pick one)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 (8oz) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar. sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. If you make cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. If you are baking cake layers, grease two eight-inch round cake pans.
- In a large and separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium heat, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, until the mixture is very light/pale.
- Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Carefully add and mix in half of the milk mixture until all is combined. Then, mix in half of the flour mixture until fully combined. Add the remaining milk mixture until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture until incorporated. Once everything is incorporated, beat the mixture for a good 2 minutes to ensure that everything is smoothly combined.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. Cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare filling: While cake is baking, in a bowl, mash together the 1 cup of berries coarsely - I still like big chunks. Pour in sugar and mix together. Set it aside.
- Prepare frosting: In your stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer (using a large bowl), whip together the heavy cream, instant pudding powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until its smooth and getting thick. Remove from the mixer and by hand, fold in the whipped topping until fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Once there are no white streaks, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. Once firm, assemble and frost cake.
- Assemble and frost: Place one layer of cake on a cake board. Spread the fruit to within an inch of the border. Then, spread the whipped frosting on top of the fruit and then place the final layer on top. Frost the cake completely.
Meet one of my favorite desserts – EVER. It’s not hard considering that I’ve admitted that my favorite food is all things Mediterranean. Luckily, baklava is just as easy to make as it is delicious. All in all, this recipe is just the same set of steps repeated over and over again to create a buttery and flaky dessert that’s sure to wow your guests.
I am going to just say that baklava is an addiction. It’s a rare treat reserved for special occasions in our house, but once available, I wish someone would ration this.
adapted from Food Network
- 1 (16 oz) package of phyllo dough, thawed
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 16 oz chopped roasted nuts (I prefer a mix of pistachios and walnuts)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cup water
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup honey
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 clove of cardamom (or a pinch of ground cardamom)
- 1 tsp rose water (optional)
- 1 2-inch piece of orange peel
- Preheat oven to 350F. Using the melted butter, butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan.
- In a food processor, pulse the nuts until you reach your desired consistency. I prefer a mixture of finely ground nuts with some chopped pieces mixed in.
- Toss together the cinnamon, cardamom, nuts and white sugar.
- Unwrap the phyllo dough and place under a damp cloth so it does not dry out.
- Place two sheets of phyllo dough in the pan and brush the phyllo with butter lightly with a pastry brush.
- Repeat with two sheets until you have a layer that’s 8 sheets deep.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture over the phyllo dough.
- Place another two sheets of phyllo and brush lightly with the melted butter.
- Repeat with the nuts and the phyllo dough.
- Top the last layer with another 8 pieces of phyllo dough.
- Using a sharp knife cut the phyllo dough (into diamonds or squares) within half an inch from the bottom of the pan.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown and crisp.
- After placing the baklava into the oven, prepare the syrup. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water and heat over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Add the vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon stick, cardamom, rose water, and orange peel. Allow this mixture to come to a boil and reduce heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom and orange peel. Let it cool while the baklava bakes.
- Once the baklava is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the phyllo dough.
- Cool and cut all the way through.
Indian desserts, to me, are hit and miss. Jalebis are one of them. Made wrong, the whole thing is a huge miss. With that said, you wonder how a form of funnel cake soaked in sugar syrup could go wrong.
I actually hated these as a child while living in India. Once I left for the states, I missed them instantly. A quintessential celebratory dessert, these are perfect for the holiday season or to make for a loved one for the new year. Whatever the reason, get your stretchy pants ready.
My mother in law makes these every Christmas and this year, I decided to take a try. I’m glad I did. Once you get the form right, the whole process is fairly simple. It helps to know that the batter should be a thinner pancake batter. Also, make sure the oil is hot when frying and to soak in the sugar syrup as soon as the jalebi comes out. If the oil isn’t hot or you wait too long to soak, you could have an oily soggy jalebi – a no no. Also, a squeeze bottle dispenser is somewhat integral to make sure you get the right consistency in the spirals – similar to an empty mustard container or this.
adapted from my mother in law
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp chickpea (besan/gram) flour
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch of ground cardamom
- a few drops of orange food coloring
- 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of rose water, optional
- Proof the yeast and lukewarm water in a large bowl (mix the two and set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy).
- To the proofed yeast mix, add the flours and mix until all lumps are gone.
- Mix in yogurt, sugar and 1/2 tsp oil until you get a thin pancake batter like consistency. You want it to flow like fast ribbons.
- Put the batter aside for 1 hour to set in a warm place.
- After setting, mix the batter again. You will notice little air pockets like pancake batter.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan.
While the oil is heating make the sugar syrup because you want the syrup to be warm. Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cardamom, food coloring, lemon juice and rose water (if using) and whisk to incorporate. Remove from heat immediately.
- You can test the oil to see if it is hot enough by dropping a bit of dough in the oil. If ready, the dough should instantly float back up without burning or getting too brown.
- Fill the dough into the squeeze bottle.
- Squeeze the batter into the oil in a spiral shape about 3-4 inches in diameter. Work fast so that the dough doesn’t unevenly cook.
- Fry until golden brown and flip the jalebi if necessary to cook evenly on the other side.
- Once fried properly, soak in the syrup until fully soaked (about 10 seconds) and then remove.
- Serve hot. Store in an airtight container, which should last you about 4 days. But, remember, the fresher the better.
Filed under Desserts, Indian
I have dreams about this pie. Wicked dreams. If I had to fight someone for this pie, I would. And, if we’re talking last piece – it’s on like Donkey Kong. No joke. This is a serious pie. Ever since I made this for Thanksgiving, I have been looking for reasons to make it again everyday since then.
Oh this pie is the mac daddy of all pies and really just should have a holiday on its own. Albeit usually seen during Thanksgiving, this pecan pie, my friends, needs a special place at your dining table. I have held off making this pie in fear that I could not even compete with the store-bought version to which my entire family has grown accustom. And, using a recipe that lacked corn syrup really made me nervous that people wouldn’t have the nostalgia of the ‘typical’ pecan pie. Luckily I’m dead wrong and I will be making all pies for all future pie holidays.
Also, it’s not a looker per se, but it’s all substance. Don’t judge this pie by my evidently rushed pie crust formation.
Oh, and the crust. It’s the only time that flakey can be a marvelous thing. It has taken me a while to develop this pie crust and I can say that I’m so happy with it that I declare (yes, declare) that I’ve done it. Perfectly flakey and light without being too weak to hold oodles of golden brown sugar and toasted pecans.
yields 8 servings
Filling adapted from Allrecipes.com
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp half and half
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup whole pecans for decorations
- 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, recipe below
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Add in the brown sugar, white sugar and flour, and mix well.
- Finally, add the half and half, vanilla and nuts.
- Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell. Top with pecans for decoration, if using.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- Then, reduce temperature of oven to 300F and bake for 35-40 minutes.
yields one 9-inch crust
- 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes – keep it chilled
- 4 tbsp ice water
- Sift together the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea sized pieces of butter. Pour the water over the mixture and using a fork until the mixture comes together into a ball.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.
- Roll out the dough, and place in a pie plate. Fill and bake.
One of my favorite combinations is banana and chocolate. More so than chocolate and peanut butter. (Gasp!) And, as it seems like I have a thing for baked banana items, chocolate banana bread is one of those things that have been on my to-bake/cook list for a while. And, as usual, I had the perfect amount of over-ripe bananas sitting around for just this occasion.
Won. Der. Ful. And, that would be an understatement. We actually made two loaves. Binks was devouring piece after piece of the first loaf when we received some news from a neighbor, which deserved (at the very least) a loaf to be gifted. That was probably the saddest my husband has ever gotten about banana bread in his life.
This bread is really a denser cake that is full of deep, rich chocolate flavor, without losing the banana foundation. The chocolate chips in the bread add so much that it really moves this up from a ‘bread’ to a ‘dessert’. I can promise you on my loaf pans and the pathetic look on Binks’ face when I moved one loaf away from him that this is absolutely addictive.
Chocolate Banana Bread
slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 1 cup chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips work great here)
- Preheat over to 350F.
- Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, cream butter, salt, and sugar together.
- Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
- Mix in baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
- Mix everything until well incorporated, about 3 minutes in an electric mixer.
- Add chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes – 55 minutes, until a toothpick entered in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, invert the loaf onto the cooling rack.
There’s always room for ice cream. That is my motto. Always. There is no wrong time for ice cream. That’s the sub motto. All in all – ice cream is my favorite. I usually make it often, but this summer days went and I never got around to it. Recently, I saw this ice cream and I bookmarked it instantly. What a way to preserve summer while also embracing fall.
It’s also a great way to embrace coffee. Around this time, Starbucks becomes a regular part of my life with the reintroduction of the pumpkin spice latte. Now, I can have my coffee and dessert in one beautiful bowl…for breakfast. The flavors in this ice cream – the pumpkin, the spices, the coffee – totally stand out in the most harmonious way.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream
barely adapted from Annie’s Eats via My Kitchen Addiction
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1 and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp granted nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- Dash of ground cloves
- 1 cup whole coffee beans
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Whisk occasionally until the mixture is fully heated and the sugar has melted.
- Stir in the coffee beans.
- Heat to just under a simmer, then remove from heat, cover and let it steep for an hour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Return the saucepan to the stove and heat again over medium heat. Once the mixture has warmed through, using a ladle, pour a thin stream of the milk mixture into the whisked eggs, whisking constantly so as to not cook or curdle the eggs. Once fully incorporated, return the egg mixture into the milk mix in the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon (170-175F).
- Pour the custard through a mesh strainer into a fridge-safe storage bowl. Whisk in the instant coffee powder and canned pumpkin until fully incorporated. Let the mixture cool slightly, cover and place in fridge until completely chilled.
- Place in ice cream maker and freezer per your machine’s instructions.
I love lemon cakes. Bright and full of flavor, I recently made this loaf cake to take along with us on a road trip to New Orleans. The latter of that deserves a different post. For now, let’s talk cake. As fall is finally here, I try to take an inventory to clean out and restock. In my freezer, I had frozen raspberries calling to be used.
Reminiscent of raspberry lemonade, the citrus flavors lighten this denser cake. This cake is perfect for breakfast, accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea, and Mumford and Sons playing in the background. Add celebrity gossip to the mix and you get my routine during the baby’s morning nap time, which has now become my most favorite part of the day. And, you know, cake always helps.
Lemon Raspberry Cake
barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Ina Garten
- 1 and 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 cup + 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 3 extra-large eggs
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest (from 2 small lemons)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 and 1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen, which should be thawed)
- 1/3 fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
- Sift together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil.
- Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Mix the raspberries with the flour to coat. Add the raspberries to the batter and gently fold in so as to not bleed color everywhere.
- Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, cook the lemon juice with the 3 tbsp sugar over medium heat until fully dissolved. Set aside.
- Once the cake is done, remove from oven and leave in the pan to cool for 10 minutes. Then, remove the cake from the pan and poke holes in the cake with a toothpick. Pour the lemon syrup over the cake to absorb. Let the cake fully cool.
Friends come. Most go. Some stay. Few stay through it all. Through heartache, fights, distance, late night consoling, weddings, birth, death, and everything else. For those people, there should be a word more meaningful than friends. I’m very fortunate to have one of those friends. We met in college, became roommates, and have stayed great friends since. For fear of jinxing anything by calling her my best friend, I just call her – well, I call her whatever I can think of. I’m obviously on the better side of this friendship deal.
Seeing each other through all of life’s ups and downs, we make it a point to keep in touch. Luckily we live about 30 minutes apart and meet up once a month. What started as a girls’ night out has now become a couples’ night in since the baby. Our girls’ night out was a dinner followed by a guilty-pleasure movie. Ninety percent of the time, we’d end up missing the movie because we’d be too busy catching up on life, including but not limited to husbands, family, celebrities, work, and dessert. Always dessert. Despite moving the party indoors, dessert is still mandatory. And, for these type of friends, the no-nonsense, solid friends, you need a dessert of the same caliber.
Some people are meant to be pairs. She is that one. The macaroni to my cheese. The cookies to my milk. The chocolate to my peanut butter.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman
- 26 Oreos, divided
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
- 1 and 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 (8 oz) package Cool Whip, thawed
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Make the crust: In a food processor, process 25 Oreos until they become fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the crumbs and stir to moisten and combine. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until the crust has set. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
- Make the filling: In an electric stand mixer, cream the cream cheese. Add the peanut butter and beat with the cream cheese until incorporated. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Spread to even out the filling.
- Loosely crumble the one remaining Oreo and sprinkle over the pie for decoration.
- Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours to set.
Filed under Desserts, Pie