recipes

Cake Pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

chocolate pound cake cake pops

One of our favorite Christmas gifts this year is a cake pop machine. It’s like a waffle-maker, but it creates little balls of cake. Jason and Jenna love cake pops, but I’ve never liked the overly gooey texture and overly sweetened taste of most cake pops. Since receiving the cake pop machine, I’ve learned that most cake pop recipes involve mashing together cooked cake and frosting in order to make them pliable enough to shape into the little balls. The nice thing about the machine is that you can make cake pops out of cake – no frosting needed. We’ve tried a couple of recipes so far: first, a chocolate cake recipe, next a pound cake recipe and, yesterday, I tried a chocolate variation of the pound cake recipe. Our favorite so far is the vanilla pound cake – the density of this type of cake is well-suited to cake pops. I used a recipe known as Elvis’s favorite pound cake, which resulted in amazingly moist and buttery cake. But since pound cake doesn’t use baking powder or baking soda, the batter didn’t rise enough to form perfectly round balls. So the next day I tried again, this time adding a bit of baking powder and baking soda and substituting cocoa for a small portion of the flour – because we’re a family of chocolate lovers.  The result (photos above) tasted good, but didn’t have the richness or moistness of the original Elvis recipe. I may keep playing around with the proportions to see if I can get a better result, but it’s going to be hard to make anything other than the Elvis recipe. My family is hooked.

Favorite Summer Dessert: Fruit Pizza

My mom recently reminded me of my favorite dessert as a child: fruit pizza. I made one this morning for J+J as a surprise for when they get home from school.

It’s super easy to make and can be made with homemade sugar cookie dough or store-bought dough.

Step 1: Make the Cookie Crust

I used store-bought dough and pressed it into a pan and baked a little bit longer than the package instructions (about 15 minutes at 350 degrees).

Step 2: Make the Topping

I think the cream cheese topping is my favorite part. I mixed 1/2 container of whipped cream cheese (about 6 ounces) with 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/8 cup sugar. You can make it sweeter, but I find that the fruit and cookie dough provide enough sweetness.

Step 3: Top the Pizza

Once the cookie dough is completely cool, top the pizza with the cream cheese mixture. I added a fairly thick layer.

Step 4: Prep the Fruit

I think this would make a great 4th of July dessert with blueberries and raspberries, but today I had peaches, canned oranges, strawberries and raspberries on hand. You can pretty much use any fruit. Kiwi was always a favorite topping of mine as a child.

Step 5: Add the Fruit

I worked in circles from outside to inside, but you can arrange the fruit in any pattern you’d like. If J+J like this, I’ll probably try making it with them next and let them do the decorating step. Once all of the fruit has been added, I brushed a layer of lemon juice over the top.

Step 6: Chill and Serve

You can definitely eat this right away, and if the kids were home while I was making this that’s exactly what we would have done. But this is one of those desserts that tastes better the next day, so I recommend leaving it in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe for a Heatwave: Watermelon Gazpacho

The triple digit temperatures in Texas are making it very hard to grill outside, so we’ve been looking for more recipes for foods that can be served cold and, preferably, uncooked. Gazpacho is a clear favorite in this category, and I recently came across this recipe for a gazpacho with watermelon. I expected it to be sweeter and lighter than traditional gazpacho, but the addition of toasted almonds and smoked paprika give it a a much heartier, smoky flavor. I hope we don’t get tired of this soup too soon, because I plan on making this A LOT.

Favorite Breakfast Recipes

We’ve been eating fewer processed foods this year, trying to cook most of our meals from scratch. As a working mom, this isn’t always the most realistic pursuit, and I’ve been trying to find more recipes for meals that can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. Dinner is still a bit of a challenge, but I think I’ve got breakfast pretty much nailed with these three recipes.

Whole Wheat Yogurt Pancakes

This recipe has been adapted from Eating for Pregnancy and is higher in protein than most pancakes. Jason eats these almost daily so I almost always have a batch ready to go in the freezer.

Recipe

  • 8 ounces plain yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use coconut)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Whisk all of the wet ingredients together until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Heat oil or butter in a skillet and pour just under 1/4 cup for each pancake. Flip when the surface of the pancake begins to bubble.

Sometimes I double this recipe and then divide the extras into batches of 6-8 pancakes and store them in individual stacks in the freezer, so I can defrost only what I need.

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I use this recipe for banana muffins from Matha Stewart Living but use all whole wheat flour and mix in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. These also store well in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat them, defrost in the microwave and then place in a toaster oven briefly for a nicely browned top.

Granola

This one is more for me than the kids, but I think it’s starting to win Jenna over. I use this basic recipe from Katie Did and add almonds and ground flax seed. It’s really simple to make and stores well in an air-tight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Any ideas for dinner? I’d love to hear them.

Macaroni and Cheese Pancakes

I came across this video on making mac-n-cheese pancakes recently. I know, most of you are eating salads and veggies right now as part of a resolution to be healthier, but at our house, we’re all about cream, butter and baked goods. Ok, that’s not entirely true. But my son has a weight check next month and the looming appointment (and potential for disapproving looks from the doctor) has definitely impacted my cooking lately. We probably shouldn’t take his low weight as an excuse for our own excessive eating, but cooking separate meals for everyone is time-consuming … and, well, I love cream, butter and baked goods.

So when I saw a recipe combining two of my son’s favorite foods, I knew we had to try it. We’ve also recently had quite a bit of success getting him to combine foods lately (something he resisted before). We owe this entirely to the cheese and strawberry scene from Ratatouille. We can reference that scene and suggest nearly any pairing and he’s likely to try it – and usually he’ll even do an impression of the little French rat as he places the foods in his mouth.

My husband and I loved the pancakes, and we’ll definitely be making then again. J+J were much less enthusiastic, eating only a bit and then moving on to the more familiar version of this comfort food.

The video above gives instructions (and is pretty entertaining), but here’s the gist of it:

  • Boil elbow macaroni noodles and set aside to cool.
  • Mix pancake batter (we used Bisquick).
  • Pour  a little bit of the pancake mix into a buttered, heated pan.
  • Sprinkle a handful of noodles onto the batter.
  • Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese on top (we used gruyere and cheddar)
  • Cook one side and then flip, just like you would regular pancakes.

That’s it.

Making Lollipops

Homemade Lollipops

 

Homemade Lollipops

I chose the cake for Jenna’s garden party because it looked very cute and very easy. Little did I know the hard part would be the lollipops: finding simple lollipops to match the inspiration cake and my color scheme proved to be more difficult than I ever expected. Martha’s stylist has access to all of the lollipops of  NYC; I have access to all of the lollipops of Keller, TX. Online stores proved equally disappointing, so I was left with one choice: make my own lollipops.

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

It turns out that making candy is pretty easy. I used the following recipe and purchased a circle-shaped lollipop mold:

Recipe:

– 2 cups sugar

– 2/3 corn syrup

– 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Heat everything in a saucepan until it reaches 300 degrees. Use a candy thermometer. Once it reaches 300, you can add food coloring and flavor, if you’d like. Spray the mold with nonstick spray and then place a lollipop stick in each mold. Pour the liquid into the mold, working quickly so it doesn’t cool and get sticky. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.

The hard part is achieving the exact color that you want. I made the ginger-color lollipops using one drop of pink, but I was hoping for a very, very pale pink. Because the corn syrup had a slight yellow color to it, I couldn’t create pale colored candy. I only have a couple of days till the party, but I am considering finding a clear corn syrup and making another batch.

The other hard part is the clean up. Maybe there’s a trick to what you do with the leftovers, but removing the hardened liquid from anything its come in contact with is no small chore. I left some of the liquid in a measuring cup overnight, and then decided it was best to just throw the cup away. I also reheated the remaining candy in the pan and it solidified just as I was taking it out. So, here are a few examples of what not to do:

Leftover Candy Mess

Leftover Candy Glob

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup