Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Happy Adoptaversary!


I had this wonderful, endearing post written on March 3, which was my dog’s 1 year “adoptaversary”. Why didn’t I post it, you ask? Unfortunately I somehow deleted all but one paragraph messing around trying to add pictures from my iPad! Major bummer! I never had a chance to sit down and get back to it until now…almost a month later. In any case, here is the recreation of that post complete with a homemade doggie treat recipe!

Gemma Pooches

Gemma Pooches

One year ago today we adopted our cute and crazy mutt, Gemma Pooches (yes, I gave her a middle name! Is that a problem?). As I mentioned in an earlier post, the adjustment to being a first time dog-mom took me a little longer than I expected. You see, I have never owned a pet…unless you count the beta fish in a vase (remember when those things were all the rage?) I had in college. Sadly little fishy only lasted a week or so…so I don’t really count that. Anyway, I have never really been around animals that much and have had allergies to dogs & cats all my life. I have been getting allergy injections over the past 5 years and my tolerance for dogs improved greatly…doctor gave me the ok to have a pet.
Hubby loves dogs and after hearing non-stop about our friends’ dog and seeing the joy he got from playing with him I randomly said “Let’s get a dog.” He said ok, but I know he thought I was full of ‘you-know-what’. I started checking on the internet for adoptable dogs and we spent a few weekends checking out some shelters and adoption events…all with no luck. I finally found a shelter that was a little bit further from us and we headed there to see if we would find the one.

Gemma loves the pool!

Gemma loves the pool!



I first just have to commend this shelter for being so clean and taking such great care of the dogs. The first thing I noticed (besides the craziness of so many people looking and trying to adopt) was how happy the dogs were. There were other shelters we visited that I literally started to tear up because the dogs just didn’t seem happy or most of them were just lying in their cages looking defeated. They also had many volunteers who were in and out taking the dogs for a walk or to play. Our volunteer knew a great deal about the dogs we looked at and was very helpful. We met a few dogs, but Gemma was the one I had a connection to. Now, this is where I have to stop and say that a year ago I would never have said such a thing…I really didn’t get the whole “animal lover” thing and figured a dog is a dog. There was just something about her, though, and although we liked some of the others I just had to have her.

Gemma paying it forward...donating food to the shelter that cared for her until she found her furever family!

Gemma paying it forward…donating food to the shelter that cared for her until she found her furever family!

Gemma was basically everything we said we didn’t want in a dog. For some reason, I had it in my head that I wanted a male dog, not really sure why that was, but in any case Hubby didn’t necessarily care about the gender. We did agree though that we didn’t want a dog that was too young or active. Gemma was female, only 10 months old and although she is half boxer and half beagle…her temperament is ALL Boxer! She is so full of energy and would literally play 23 hours a day if she could (I think she would at least take an hour to eat and sleep!). Our friends cautioned us about “Boxers being crazy, hyper and stubborn.” While this is somewhat true I’ve learned that with the right owner they are awesome dogs!

Gemma is a great study buddy!

Gemma is a great study buddy!

We brought her home and I was completely neurotic…every little thing scared me; I was your typical first time mom…just with a dog instead of a baby! Lucky for me, Hubby is always the voice of reason and doesn’t feed in to my neuroticism…I finally calmed down a bit and Gemma & I enrolled in mommy & me classes…ok not really, it was just basic dog training, but we both benefited greatly. I have to admit that I didn’t think we were going to graduate considering we were put in the timeout room during the first session, but as the weeks went by I gained more confidence and Gemma learned her commands like a pro…I finally saw how smart she really is. After our training and reading lots of books and articles I understood how to be a good pet parent to a headstrong dog and Gemma and I have bonded into best buds.

Gemma cooling off in the lake after some dog park fun!

Gemma cooling off in the lake after some dog park fun!

Fast forward to the present and I am “one of those animal people”. I love Gemma and can’t imagine life without her. If I can, I take her wherever we go. When we went on vacation I called our dog boarders every other day because I missed her so much. I can’t wait to get home each day and see her and look forward to warmer weather so we can get back to our neighborhood walks and play days at the dog park. I post more pictures of her on my Facebook page then most parents do of their children. I still can’t believe I have become this person…and most people who know me can’t either!! Such a transformation.
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The public service portion of my post is this: For those of you who might be considering a pet for the first time…I say make sure you are ready for the work and responsibility that goes into it…and if you feel you are willing get out there and adopt!! Don’t get stuck on “breeds” or wanting puppies…there are too many dogs who are waiting for a home of their own. Trust your gut…even if the dog you like isn’t what you have in mind!
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To celebrate Gemma’s adoptaversary I made these healthy (don’t tell her that!) homemade dog treats. The original recipe can be found here. I modified it just a bit omitting the wheat germ (because I didn’t have any) and applesauce, and increased the amount of pumpkin (to make up for the lack of applesauce) and added peanut butter because Gemma just loves peanut butter! Also, this makes a lot of treats, especially depending on the size cookie cutter you use, so I recommend freezing some and taking them out a little at a time. They only last about 5 days since they have no preservatives.
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Homemade Healthy Dog Treats
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup ground flax seed meal
1 tbsp. raw honey
3 eggs
½ cup olive oil
1 cup water
½ cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and flax seed. Set aside
3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients; honey, eggs, oil, water, pumpkin and peanut butter. Stir until well-combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Form dough into a ball and roll out flat onto a well-floured surface until about ¼” thick.
5. Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until treats are very brown and very hard.
7. Allow to cool before serving.

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Chocolate Candy Cookies


A friend of mine calls me her “personal pastry chef”. She is always asking me to make baked goods for her, especially when there is a party or event coming up. Her son’s birthday was this past Saturday so she asked me to make some cookies and bring them to the party. She said it was because he just loves my cookies, but I am really thinking his mommy loves them too! 😉

I chose these because I thought they were a good choice for a kid’s birthday party with the candy pieces making it look nice and festive. I’ve made these before and I typically am not a fan of using shortening in recipes, but after much trial and error making substitutions, I’ve found that the best way to make these is to just go ahead and use the shortening. These will make 3-4 dozen cookies depending on how big or small you make them. I usually make my cookies about 1”-1 1/2 “ just because I personally like a smaller cookie, plus they tend to keep their shape better and not run together. Make sure you do not skip the refrigeration step. This will save you a big headache in the long run. Also, remember to put the dough back into the refrigerator between batches.

One last word of caution….you will not be able to just eat one of these!! Enjoy!!

M&M Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 ¼ cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 bag (12 oz) candy coated milk chocolate pieces (i.e. M&M’s)

  1. Thoroughly cream together shortening, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, except the candy. Add to creamed mixture a little bit at time, beating on low and until well combined.
  3. Stir in the candy and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour up to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. When ready to bake, drop the batter into 1” round balls onto the cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow to sit for 2 more minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
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Zucchini Bread


Well for those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you probably know that the zucchini from my garden has been quite plentiful so far. Like I mentioned in a post a while back, I planned to make zucchini bread. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to it until this weekend. I made a couple of loaves and gave them out to my neighbors along with a zucchini. I had so many large zucchini I had to get them out of the garden because they were starting to kill the other plants!

I love this zucchini bread recipe, which I originally found on www.allrecipes.com. I’ve tried others but this one is my favorite. It is super moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I have to say zucchini bread is my favorite thing to make from zucchini…of course that’s only because it is a baked good…and I love baked goods! 😉  The recipe makes 2 loaves, so you’ll have some to share if you feel like it! It also freezes well. Also, I forgot to take pictures of the bread before I wrapped it up for the neighbors, but you get the point!

 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cup sugar

2 cups uncooked zucchini, grated

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Combine the oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium until well combined. Stir in the vanilla extract and the zucchini.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add this a little bit at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium.
  4. Divide the batter in half and pour into two greased loaf pans.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until baked through.

 

 

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Mini French Loaves


Cooking for only two people can be a challenge at times. It seems like most recipes make enough food for a family of 8!  This seems to be especially true with baking and although I’ve played around with baked good recipes to make a smaller batch…sometimes you just don’t want to do the math! Or your math is off and your final product is not what you thought it was going to be. Take this recipe for French Bread, for example. I cut the recipe in half and still got a ton of bread! Luckily my brain was actually working for once and I thought why not make some “mini-loaves”? The mini-loaves are the perfect size for 2-3 people. I only use one loaf at a time and freeze the others (I use my Food Saver for this and the bread comes out as fresh as the day it was first made!).

By the way, I’ve been making almost all of our bread & buns lately myself. I am really starting to loathe store-bought bread. If you are hesitant to make your own bread or think it is a lot of work…think again! That is part of the reason I stayed away from it for so long. I’ve also found that the bread/rolls I make myself freeze much better than store bought and so I am not wasting nearly as much as I used to. Again…only 2 people can eat so many hamburger rolls, so I would throw them in the freezer but 2 weeks later they would be freezer burned and all around nasty…and into the trash 4 or 5 rolls would go (I can’t be the only person with this problem, right??)! This is not the case with homemade bread and rolls…so not only is it cheaper to make…I promise you won’t end up wasting it!!

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This bread is yummy as a side dish for soup or other dishes. I served ours with some Summer Corn Chowder!

Mini French Bread Loaves

(Makes 4 “mini” loaves)

3  cups all-purpose flour

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1-1/2 teaspoons cornmeal

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

  1. Using a stand mixer with the dough attachment, add all ingredients except for the flour to the mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and stir until well combined.
  2. Slowly add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time.
  3. Increase speed and allow dough to knead for a few minutes until it forms one solid ball and is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. The dough should be smooth and elastic and should not stick to the bowl or the hook when removing it.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down and divide into four. Allow to rest on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
  6. Shape each piece of dough into a rectangle. Sprinkle a parchment lined baking sheet with the cornmeal and place the dough on the baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife make 3 diagonal slashes in each loaf. Cover and allow to rise for 40 more minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the 375 degrees F.
  8. Prepare the egg wash by adding the water to the egg white and gently beating with a fork.
  9. Brush the egg wash on top of each loaf and bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before slicing. Can be served warm or room temperature.
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Cake Pop….Failure?!?! I Think Not!


Not to toot my own horn…but I can bake! My baked goods are pretty awesome. There is only one problem….they rarely look “pretty”. I don’t know why but no matter how much I practice, or how careful and meticulous I am when I’m decorating…they just don’t turn out like the baked goods I see a lot of others make. To me taste is more important anyway, but when you are serving your food to people who are not your family the first thing they are looking at is the “prettiness”. I mean, if you have two trays of cupcakes and one looks beautiful and the other one looks like a 4 year old slapped some icing on top…which one do you think people are going to try?

So with that in mind, I am not sure why I thought making cake pops would be any different than the cakes, cupcakes, or the cookies I’ve made in the past….tasty but not pretty!

Each month at work we have a “staff training day” where we basically shut down so that we can focus strictly on meetings, staff development & training. As part of this, I like to treat my staff…whether it’s donuts, or bagels, pizza or my often requested “baked goods”.  I wanted to bring something different that I hadn’t brought in yet so I decided to give Cake Pops a try. I asked friends their opinions on making them and did a lot of research and read a lot of tutorials. I came to the conclusion that they did seem like a lot of work but really didn’t seem too difficult. How hard is it to screw up making a little ball of cake on a stick?

I saw this cute picture on pinterest which is how I totally envisioned my cake pops would turn out. Since the 4th of July was coming up I thought this would be a really nice presentation for my employees. Then I really became ambitious when I decided I wanted the cake in my cake pops to be multi-colored!

 

I was so pumped to make these awesome cake pops! I used my favorite white cake recipe and a basic buttercream and even making them “multi-colored” (red, white & blue for 4th of July) worked out nicely. I was moving along so well…thinking that I was right…a lot of work, maybe a little time consuming but overall not difficult. Adding the icing a little bit at a time to each color cake, they formed nicely into a “play-dough” consistency. I melted some chocolate and dipped the ends of the sticks in and then inserted the sticks into the cake balls. I put them in the freezer to just “firm up” and allow the chocolate on the stick to harden and become a binder for the cake to the stick.

They were looking pretty good….

All that was left was dipping them into the chocolate. From what I’d read and the advice I’d received I knew this part would probably be the “hard” part of the process, but since I wasn’t doing anything too fancy I figured it wouldn’t be so bad.

Until I started the first few and this is what I got…

Frustrated, I continued on. I took the advice of a friend to add shortening (I felt like this was good solid advice because this suggestion was also on the package directions.) to the chocolate to help thin it out, as can happen when it is over heated. Although this did seem to help a little bit and when I started dipping the pops again, it did not completely destroy the cake pops, they looked nothing like I wanted them to! The chocolate was still too thick (which I now have learned was probably because my shortening was too old and really didn’t do much to help out the chocolate. Since making these the other day I saved a few to be dipped later after I had a chance to purchase a new jar of shortening and it was much easier…still not pretty but easier!).

I was able to salvage about 30 pops that I was only partially embarrassed to serve my employees. Mostly everyone assured me they did not look that bad, but I’m pretty sure this was just because they were scared to tell the boss the truth. Only one of my employees (who is also a fairly good friend) was honest and said “wow, if you could decorate you could make so much money opening a bakery.” Thanks….I think!!!

So what was the ultimate outcome of this cake pop saga?

They tasted awesome!!!

They looked horrific!!!

It was basically just the usual…nothing fancy from this baker!

So even though they weren’t as pretty as I had planned, I am still sharing my recipe and the steps I went through to make them. Like I said these tasted great…and if you are better at decorating and working with chocolate than I am then you will definitely have success and will impress whoever you are making them for!

The final question is: ”Would I make them again?” The answer: “Maybe”.

To those of you brave enough to try them…may the decorating gods be with you!!! 😉

 

Cake Pops (Makes 50-60 1” cake pops)

1 white cake

1-2 cups buttercream icing

2 pkgs. (12 oz.) white chocolate melting candy

1-2 tsp. vegetable shortening

Lollipop sticks

Food coloring**, blue & red

Block of Styrofoam

(**Instead of using food coloring in the cake mix I used Wilton Icing Colors. This made a very rich color and I didn’t have to use very much at all.)

  1. Prepare the cake mix as directed. You can use a box mix, but I always prefer from scratch!
  2. Divide the cake mix evenly into three bowls. Add red food coloring (or Wilton Icing Colors) to one of the bowls and blue food coloring to another bowl, to desired color.
  3. Pour each bowl of cake mix into a separate pan or use a muffin pan. (Since you’ll be crumbling it up it doesn’t matter as long as it gets baked! :p) Bake as directed.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the icing (you can use store bought if you like) and set aside.
  5. Allow the cake to cool and once cool enough to handle crumble the cakes into three separate bowls (one for red, one for blue, one for white).
  6. Add about 2-3 tbsp. of icing into each bowl and mix with your hands. Continue to add icing a little bit at a time until the cake forms a large ball. You want the cake to be just moist like Play-dough.
  7. Next form the balls, take a little bit of each color cake and mold together into a round ball. Once all the balls have been formed place them in the refrigerator or freezer for about 10 minutes just to firm up.
  8. Melt a little bit of chocolate according to the directions on the package. This will be for the sticks. Dip the end of a lollipop stick in the melted chocolate and then insert it into the center of the cake pop about half way through. Be careful not to push the stick through to the other side.
  9. Return to refrigerator or freezer for another 10-15 minutes to allow chocolate to harden and cake balls to continue to firm up.
  10. Melt one bag of chocolate per the package directions. Add 1-2 tsp. of vegetable shortening if chocolate is too thick. Make sure to melt the chocolate in a deep dish or glass so that the cake pop can be completely covered by the chocolate. At this step, you can decorate the pops however you choose with different color chocolates and adding sprinkles, etc.
  11. Dip the cake pops in the melted chocolate and insert into a piece of styrofoam to dry.
  12. Cake Pops will be ready to eat immediately or can be frozen for a later time.

 

 

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Cookies for Inspiration


So I’ve been feeling very uninspired to blog this past week. I’ve been cooking up a storm and even have a list of foods I’ve made that I want to share….but I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and share my thoughts.

However tonight I made these really good butter cookies appropriately called “Meltaways” because they literally MELT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!

One of my employees had asked if I would be so kind to make cupcakes or cookies for her classroom’s picnic tomorrow.  Since I had just made cupcakes for them I wanted to do something different, however I was met with a challenge since the Individuals we serve have various degrees of developmental and physical difficulties and quite a few of them cannot eat regular food such as a cookie. I was determined to come up with something so I set out on Google and searched for soft cookie recipes. I came across these Meltaways at a blog called Landee See, Landee Do.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, however my method of adding the ingredients was a little different based on some of the comments that I’d read from others who had tried to make these. I also doubled the recipe and I got almost 5 dozen cookies out of it (unfortunately I wasn’t really focused on making them all similar in size so some got a little bit on the larger side). They came out great and are the perfect texture for our Consumers with special food texture requirements.

These were really easy and quick to make and are a nice change of pace from the usual cookie recipes you come across.

Now…if I could just stop eating them!!!!  (Oh yeah….if you haven’t figured it out…these ARE NOT diet friendly :)!)

Meltaways (Source: Landee See, Landee Do)

1 lb. (4 sticks) salted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 C. cornstarch

1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 C. flour
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
  1. Using a mixer beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes. Stop one time to scrape down the sides.
  2. Add the sugar and beat well until combined.
  3. Add the cornstarch a little bit at a time and beat until well blended.
  4. Mixing on low speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Dough should be thick and manageable. If it is too thin add up to the full 2 cups (I used just under 2 cups, about 1 3/4 c.) if it is starting to get crumbly you’ve added too much.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets and gently flatten with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 2 more minutes, then remove cookies from cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Cool completely and add frosting. Be careful when handling these cookies as they are quite delicate!

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Add food coloring, if desired.
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Slimmed Down Cakes!!


Well, as expected, this week’s weigh-in was not a pleasant one….gained 2 lbs. Although I am not surprised between feeling lousy (stupid allergies!) and eating badly (it had to be the all you can eat meat buffet I took Hubby to for his b-day or the ice cream cake I made him!) I’ve just had a rough week. I’m really hoping I can get my butt back in the saddle ASAP because summer is quickly approaching and I am nowhere near where I want to be. I just have zero motivation…even the things that normally motivate me are not…just feeling kind of blah.

So I’m wondering what those of you out there do when you feel this way? How do you keep up your motivation? I really could use some advice. It’s so disheartening when I was doing so well and I thought I was really changing for the better…here I am 2 lbs heavier…:(

Anyway, enough of that pity party nonsense. Let’s get to something more interesting…like CAKE!

So as I mentioned in Sunday’s post I wanted to share some “Slimmed Down” cake recipes. I do not actually have my own recipe that I’ve come up with but I can tell you what I’ve found to be the tastiest recipes from others. Hungry Girl offers this information for cake mix and I’ve tried the pumpkin, diet soda, and yogurt versions. I have to say that my favorite is the pumpkin. It is the truest to tasting like whatever flavor cake mix you are using and has a nice texture and remains moist. The yogurt is pretty good too and the diet soda version is just “ok.” It makes an unusual texture (but stays moist) and depending on what flavor combo you use (for example: vanilla cake mix with lemon lime soda) you can taste the flavor of the soda.

Cupcake Made from Yellow Cake Mix and Diet Lemon-Lime Soda

Then there’s microwave cakes…I’ve seen so many different ways to make microwave cakes either from scratch or with a cake mix & have tried most of them, that it’s hard to even keep track of which is better than which. However, I have to say my favorite at this point is a recipe I came across on the Taste of Home website Community Boards called 3-2-1 cake (If you do a google search for this you will find a gazillion bloggers have already blogged this so I’m not sure where the recipe originated). First and foremost it’s only 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus (most of the other individual microwave cakes are 3 or 4 WWPP) and second it is the easiest to make. Basically you combine a box of angel food cake with any flavor cake mix in a large Ziploc bag. Then when you want cake you simply measure 3 tbsp. of the angel food/cake mix mixture into a small microwaveable dish, then add 2 tbsp. of water stirring until all the lumps are gone and then microwave for 1 minute! Comes out perfect and tastes great!

Another one of my favorites is to make a pumpkin cake in the microwave using 2 tbsp. of yellow cake mix, 1 tbsp. of pumpkin, and ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice. This cake is great with a scoop of fat free vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. The individual cake is also only 2 WWPP.

Last month when I made Hubby his Cadbury Cupcakes, I made a slimmed down version using devil’s food cake mix and pumpkin. Below is the recipe to make 4 cupcakes and a slimmed down frosting (will make enough for the four cupcakes). You will need a food scale to weigh the ingredients of the cupcakes. This is the best way to figure out the appropriate amount for a small batch of cupcakes. If you want to make the Cadbury cupcakes like the ones pictured, just add one mini Cadbury Crème Egg to the batter. This will make the WWPP go up to 4.

 

Slimmed Down Devil’s Food Cupcakes (Adapted from Hungry Girl)

Makes 4 cupcakes (WWPP = 3)

3 oz. devil’s food cake mix

2.5 oz. canned pumpkin

  1. Combine cake mix and pumpkin in a bowl and mix until well combined. Mixture will be thick, but do not add water!
  2. Divide batter into a muffin tin.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree F preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Slimmed Down Vanilla Frosting(Makes enough for 4 cupcakes, approx. 1 tbsp per cupcake. WWPP = 1)

2 tbsp. fat free Cool Whip, thawed

1 tsp. Sugar Free Fat Free Instant Vanilla Pudding

1 tsp. fat free or skim milk

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined and smooth.
  2. Top each cupcake with approximately 1 tbsp. of frosting.
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The Best Yellow Cake Ever…Seriously!


You know what I hate? I hate when I come across a recipe that someone calls “The Best (insert food name here). In this instance, however, there is no other way to describe this cake. It is just that good!!

The flavor is perfect, the texture is perfect…what more can I say? The key to this recipe, however is that you must not substitute anything. I have learned this from experience…when I first started out cooking and baking I didn’t really understand the difference between butter and margarine so I would use them interchangably….the cake was still good but using butter is very important. (On a side note…I always use butter for everything now. I can’t even remember the last time I bought margarine…it has to be a good couple of years!) Another time I made this, I was out of cake flour so I did a quick search on how to substitute cake flour (2 tbsp. cornstarch and just under 1 cup of all purpose flour) and made it that way. Again, it was good, but nothing special and the texture was a little off as well.  Now I only make this with the exact ingredients the recipe calls for and it comes out great every single time.

Yellow Cake

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups white sugar

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 – 9 inch round pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped.
  7. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.
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Easy & Delicious Chocolate Frosting


This is a really easy chocolate frosting and it tastes great. It is also great for when you are “In a Pinch” like the other night when Hubby called and said he was going to pick up our goddaughter so she could stay over…could I possibly make a birthday cake for her?? Of course I did…in no time at all. I hadn’t made this frosting in a while so I forgot how good it was and especially how easy!

If you have trouble with the consistency, simply add milk if it is too thick or add more powdered sugar if it is too thin, but be careful…if you add too much sugar it will be too sweet. If this happens, just add more cocoa powder a little bit at a time until you get it to your taste preference.

If you are really in a hurry soften the butter in the microwave and combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix it all up…you don’t even need a mixer! I always use my mixer because I think the consistency is better, but if you are really in a hurry you could definitely just whisk away! 😉

This makes a TON of frosting, so you may want to cut the recipe in half. This is more than enough for a two layer cake (2 round 9″ cake pans). Don’t be alarmed by the amount of butter…it’s definitely not healthy in the least but it tastes awesome. My theory when it comes to cakes & frosting…might as well do it right. Later this week I’ll share some Slimmed Down versions of cake & frosting for those of you who are watching what you eat…but ultimately there is nothing like the real thing!

Quick & Easy Chocolate Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. In a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla. Then add the cocoa a little bit at a time until well combined.
  3. Add the milk and mix until light and fluffy.
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Golden Cornbread


This is my favorite cornbread recipe. It has a great texture, it’s moist and it is has just the right sweetness. It is also really quick and easy to make and so much better than the boxed kind. I made this to go with our Smoked Ribs, for a real southern barbecue meal!

Delicious!

Smoked Ribs, Green Beans & Corn Bread

Cornbread (Makes 12 large servings)

1 cup flour

1 cup corn meal

2/3 cup sugar

3 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a glass 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.
  4. Cut into 12 large pieces, or 24 small pieces. Serve warm.
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