A collection of home-grown recipes from my little kitchen to yours - mostly sweet, but some savory. Really whatever I've been mixing up...between family time, dirty diapers, tantrums, and cuddles...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mandarin-Cranberry Sour Cream Bundt Cakes

With Spring *almost* here (praise GOD!!!), I couldn't help but crave something with a bit of zest-ee-ness.  Recently, those huge bags of mandarin oranges have been ripe and on sale, so why not bake something with them???  For Christmas, I got a really cute mini bundt cake pan that I also desperately wanted to use...and thus this recipe was born!  The cake batter is fairly sweet, so adding the fresh cranberries give little tart pops here and there.  Hope you like it!

Cake Batter

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
Zest from two mandarin oranges
4 eggs
2 2/3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk with a tsp of white vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Juice from the two mandarin oranges 1 cup fresh cranberries (mine were frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour your bundt pan.  All together, my mini bundt pan uses 9 cups of batter for the 4 mini cakes (the amount in this recipe).  Instead of doing mini cakes, you can do the same recipe and use it for one large bundt pan, the only thing that will change is baking time (probably a bit over an hour, but you'll have to watch it!)


Beat together the butter, sugar, and mandarin zest.  Beat it until it lightens in color, scraping as needed.  Add in the eggs one a time, mixing and scraping down the bowl well after each addition.  

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and put it aside. In another bowl, stir together the sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla. 


With your mixer on low speed, add to the creamed butter mixture in a third of the flour mixture, mix, then half of the sour cream mixture, and mix.  Then add another third of the flour, followed by the rest of the sour cream, and finally finish with the remaining flour mixture. Add the juice from both mandarins and beat the batter for about 30 seconds, until it lightens in color. Fold in the cranberries last.

Fill the bundt pan(s) with the batter, smoothing the tops.  Makes sure you leave a bit of room for the cake to expand while baking...if you have any excess batter you can fill a mini loaf pan, bake it off, and have a snack later :)


Bake the mini bundt cakes for about 25-30 minutes, turning the pan half way through.  The sides will begin to golden, and a toothpick inserted will only have a few crumbs on it.  If you use one large bundt pan, I would presume it will take about an hour or a tad more to bake, but check and turn the cake at 45 minutes, and check in 10-15 minute increments afterwards until it is done.

Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes, and thenturn out onto a drying rack until they are room temperature.  While they are cooling, you can make the frosting.

1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Zest and juice from one mandarin
1/2 tsp vanilla 
Dash of salt

Pretty much just mix all the frosting ingredients together until smooth, and if it's still a bit to thick, add some drops of water until you get the right consistancy.  Drizzle over the cooled cakes and allow the frosting to set.  

 Then eat and enjoy!  Yay Spring!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vanilla Bean Banana Bread

So I always buy all these bananas and never eat them all before some get gross and mushy (I'm a green banana kind of girl).  So, instead of tossing them in the trash, I toss them in the freezer!  You'll notice that they literally turn black and rock hard.  

Then comes the day you want some crazy-good banana bread!  Once you've accumulated six frozen, over-ripe bananas, take them out and leave them on the counter until they are completely thawed, and beyond soft. If you prefer, you can pop them in the microwave for 30 second intervals until they are sufficiently soft.


When you get ready to make the batter and add the bananas, all you have to do is snip one end of the bananas off and all the inside banana "goop" comes slopping out - you don't even have to mash them...so much easier than cutting and mashing up fresh ripe bananas.   

In addition, the vanilla bean adds a different flare to a typical recipe, and the raw sugar on the top creates a crispy crust that's just to die for.  Hope you enjoy this banana bread as much as I do!

- ½ cup butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla bean, scraped (or substitute an additional
½ tsp vanilla extract)
- 6 overripe bananas, frozen, then thawed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Coarse sugar in the raw

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and bananas until well blended. In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; stir just to moisten, do not over-mix.

Fold in pecans if desired.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle the coarse raw sugar evenly over the batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Key Lime Frosted Cookies

Confession.  I'm borderline obsessed with key lime, and while I love my momma's crazy good key lime cheesecake, I wanted a quick-fix dessert that could satiate my summertime craving, without taking a whole day to prepare!  My good friend, Erin, brought an orange version of this cookie to Pennsylvania when she and her hubby came to visit, and I was hooked!  When thinking through a seasonal desserty snack to bring to a bible study, I couldn't keep my mind off these cookies.....but why not do a key lime version????  Anyways, they were an absolute hit - a great combo of sweetness and tang - definitely not for the faint of heart! 

- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup key lime juice
- 3 tbs lime zest

Set your oven to 375 degrees.  Start making the cookie batter by blending the sugar and butter until fluffy, and then add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and eggs, making sure it all comes together well.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, and then incorporate they dry ingredients into the wet.  Don't over mix, or the batter will get a bit tough.  Lastly, add the juice and zest.  Using a small ice cream scooper, drop batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart to allow room for spreading.

Place sheets into the oven for about 10-12 minutes, rotating midway through the baking.  The cookies will be soft when finished baking, and there actually shouldn't be too much browning around the edges.  Allow time to cool on a rack while you whip up the frosting.

- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbs lime zest
- 3 tbs key lime juice, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt

Combine all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl until all of the lumps and clumps are gone.  Frost the tops of the "mostly" cooled cookies, allowing the slightly-warmer-than-room-temp cookies to soften the frosting, melting the wonderfully tart topping all over the ooey, gooey cake-like cookies.......then TRY to not eat the whole batch :)  Hope you enjoy this little recipe to kick-start the summer!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Traditional Fruit Crisp

Everyone loves the classic cobbler, and what's great about this one, is that I use a mixture of frozen and fresh fruit! Now of course you don't have to use frozen, but think about it.....frozen fruit is fruit that's been harvested while it's at it's ripest, and then flash frozen so you can use it anytime of the year! And.....I royally hate peeling and slicing peaches, to be honest, so that might be the real reason for the frozen fruit :) So, here's a wonderful classic that is so easy, you can whip it up last minute! All the ingredients are one's you'd have already around the house. I've also experimented with many different combos of fruit, so just use what you have hanging around! The bulk of this recipe came from my wonderful mother-in-law, Beth, and from my grandmother-in-law, Duval Lee. Love ya'll and thanks!

Crisp Topping
- 6 tbsp butter, room temp
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or sub with more oats)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all topping ingredients together with hands, mashing, until coarse and crumbly. Set aside while putting the fruit part together.

Fruit Part (for lack of a better name...)
- peaches - frozen or fresh, enough to fill a small casserole dish
- a small package of blueberries
- 1/2 cup sugar, more or less based on the sweetness of the fruit
- 2 tbsp flour

Mix all of the fruit filling ingredients together. Just as a note, if you plan on using frozen peaches, I've found it's nice letting them come to room temperature before mixing with the other filling ingredients so you can drain off some of the excess liquid, or you'll end up with soup! Put the fruit mixture into a buttered baking dish or small casserole dish, and top with the crumble mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the topping is slightly browned and crisp! Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.....mmmmmmmm!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Some people say that you should never mess with a classic.  In the baking world, this translates to: don't mess with really good plain cheesecake - ie.  stop making funky flavors and messing with the original!  The graham cracker crust, the smooth cream cheese filling, the sour cream topping.  There was a time in my baking life that I believed this wholeheartedly, but no more!  Especially when daring to make a chocolate cheesecake, there's a huge potential of over-doing it - when the chocolate masks the fact that it's actually cheesecake you are eating!  While this recipe has LOADS of chocolate in it, you will find there to still be a light filling and a strangely familiar crust, considering it is also made with graham crackers...just chocolate ones!  So, dare I say, break out of your shell, and dare to be blown away by a *tasteful* rendition of the classic!

- 2 packets of chocolate graham crackers, crumbled in the food processor
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbs cocoa powder
- 4 tbs granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup), melted

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the dry crust ingredients together in a bowl, then add the melted butter, stirring until combined.  Dump the mixture into a 9 - inch springform pan, pressing the crumble down with your fingers, and allowing the crust to travel up the sides of the pan, about half way.  Place in the oven, baking the crust for about 10 minutes - be careful to not over bake!  Because it's chocolate, you can't see any browning, so keep alert with your nose :)  Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you whip up the filling - reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees while you're at it.

- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules
- 3 bricks of cream cheese (24 oz), room temp is best
- 4 tbs cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temp
- To decorate, a chocolate bar

Melt the chocolate first, giving it time to cool off on the counter (I put the chopped chocolate in a glass bowl and heat it in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until most is melted and then just keep stirring it until it's smooth).  In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, vanilla, and instant coffee until the coffee has dissolved - set aside.  In a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer), beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the cocoa and salt.

Scrape down the bowl and paddle, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Keep doing this until the mixture has no clumps and is smooth - at this point, you can't over mix!  Add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Now, scrape the mostly cooled chocolate into the batter, and blend until combined well.  Beat in the sour cream mixture.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition, but don't over beat the eggs!

Pour the filling over the baked crust, smoothing out the top with a spatula.  Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (rotating if needed).  Then, turn the oven off and leave the door closed with the cake still in there for 30 more minutes!  Don't open the oven during this time (doing this helps the cheesecake not crack).  After the 30 minutes, take the cheesecake out of the oven an place on the counter to come down to room temp by itself - this takes a few hours!  After it's cooled down, you should store it in the fridge with aluminum foil over it until you serve it, at least about 3 hours (warm cheesecake is not good!).

To decorate, use your peeler to shave curls of chocolate onto the top of the cheesecake.  I do this by placing your chocolate bar on the counter near your oven while whipping up the cake - the warm oven softens it up just a bit so the curls form easily and don't break apart.

Hope this is everything you wished for in a chocolate cheesecake!  Enjoy, and happy indulging!