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Baked

Black Forest Cake

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Perhaps I may have given off the impression that I hated making desserts that needed baking. That’s not what I was aiming for at all. In all honestly, I do prefer no-bake sweets and desserts better. If I did go through the trouble of baking some desserts, there are really special people I wanted to please that day.

Today is one of those special occasions. I have just finished off the last slice of this delicious cake. There are many variations of this recipe and rarely do I find something worth doing again and again. In fact, this cake is so delectable that I always give them out as birthday cakes to many of my adult friends and family.

Making this will require an assistant because it’s more fun that way. Gather up your kids when you’re in the process of whipping up the frosting so that they can lick off the extras on the bowl or spatula. I tell you, baking would be less tedious this way.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Description

  1. Prepare the oven and preheat to 350 °F or about 175°C. Next, grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Dust it with flour and cover each of the bottoms with wax paper.
  2. Combine 2 cups of sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix these dry ingredients well. Then add all the wet ingredients: eggs, milk, oil and a tablespoon of vanilla and beat until well blended. Pour this batter into the greased pans.
  3. Place them in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Another way to test is to thrust a toothpick in the middle of the cake and take it out. When it comes out clean, the cake is done. Let cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from the pan.
  4. Prepare your cherries by draining the syrup and reserving half a cup of this juice. Then in a separate bowl, combine the juice, the cherries, cornstarch and a cup of sugar. Next, pour this over a 2-quart saucepan. Allow to cook over low heat until thickened. Make sure you’re stirring constantly. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla and set aside. Cool this before using.
  5. Take out a hand mixer. In a bowl, combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar with the mixer until you see stiff forms appearing.
  6. It’s time to slice a layer of the cake with a long serrated knife. Be careful in doing this because you can’t break off any of the cake layers. Break apart one sliced layer into crumbs and set aside. Reserve 1 and ½ cups of frosting for decorating the cake and set aside. To assemble the cake, start by laying down a base – a sliced cake at the bottom. Spread frosting and top with cherry sauce. And then add another sliced layer and repeat the frosting and cherry sauce mix. On the last layer, use up all of the remaining frosting in order to include the sides of the cake. Pat on some of the crushed crumbs on the side. Spoon the rest of the cherry sauce in a pastry bag and start decorating the top of the cake as you wish. Be generous about frosting the top and the sides of the cake and finish off with the last of the cherry topping. Best served chilled.

Black Forest Cake 2

Banana Crumb Muffins

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Banana Crumb Muffins 2


I wake up earlier than everyone else in mornings because I have to prepare big breakfast meals for the family. I roll out of bed, still groggy and utterly desperate for coffee. Then I decide to warm up yesterday’s banana muffins, poured the fresh batch of coffee and then I’m ready to go to work.

Nothing wakes me up than the site of delicious pick-me-ups like baked goods hot from the microwave. I made these banana muffins yesterday for a bake sale. I bought home some of the extras so I could enjoy my labor of love. Initially, I wanted to secretly stash them away for myself but then again my kids love baked sweets as much as I do.

I heat up the muffins so the kitchen would smell like them when the family comes in to eat. It’s not a bad way to start your mornings. They’re dessert energizers. I can tell you that.

Banana muffins are very light so they’re a perfect starter; a prelude to a full load of breakfast favorites. I start with coffee or tea with this muffin. And when I’m halfway full, I have some bacon and eggs. It’s not entirely bad to start an entire day this way.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Description

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 375°F or about 190°C. And then lightly grease a 10-cup muffin tray or line them up with muffin paper.
  2. Take a large bowl and then mix together 1 ½ cups flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Next, stir the banana mixture into the flour blends. Mix together into a batter. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon of butter and then add this into the mixture until you see it turn into a coarse cornmeal. Next, sprinkle this topping over the muffins.
  4. Place the batter into the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin. If it comes out clean, they’re ready.

Baked Ziti Pasta

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Baked Ziti Pasta 2
This is a tried and tested recipe for baked ziti pasta that needs very little changes. It is pretty much perfect just the way it is and makes an ideal healthy mid week family meal. Despite all the rubbish about no carbs in your diet they are essential for providing energy to our bodies and I never feel the slightest bit guilty when making this meal and nor should you. Actually now that I think about it I did make one change to this recipe and that was to how I layered it. I placed the sauce on top of pasta and then I added the toppings. Be sure to stir the sauce through the pasta to make everything nice and consistent. When preparing your pan grease well or spray with a good non stick spray, you will glad you did when it comes time to do the dishes because it makes cleaning a breeze. This recipe makes plenty so if you don’t have a big pan use two smaller ones. One lady emailed me saying she was disappointed because I never mentioned that this dish needed to be covered when baking I am sorry I just assumed everyone knew that. So please everyone – bake this with a covering of aluminium foil or use a covered baking dish. This is an absolutely delicious savoury and creamy dish and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do whenever I make it.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Description

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Blueberry Muffins

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I have to participate in a bake sale in a few days due to my daughter accidentally signing me up in her school as the main proponent for this project. I’ve never done the baking and the selling part in bakes sales before because I’ve just always been the kind of mom that buys the goods and eat them. I will no longer be that mom pretty soon.

But since I am doing this, I am planning to impress my daughter by baking two kinds of muffins. I decided to showcase both banana and blueberry muffins.  This is my practice run. I got my blueberries fresh this morning. So they are ripe and ready. I always make sure to wash these and dried on paper towels. This way I won’t get water in during the baking process.

My kids love blueberries and I am hoping this would be a hit that day (fingers crossed). But if not, it wouldn’t be a total loss. I figured that if I don’t sell them all then I can take the left overs home with me. This way I would have pre-breakfast muffins probably all week with my early morning cup of coffee. Now that sounds like a plan.

I am using this classic muffin recipe and gave it a little twist. This used to be a secret but now I am choosing to share it to you. I am hoping this one gets you through many bake sales too.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400°F or about 200°C. Next, degrease your muffin tray with oil or line them up with muffin paper cups.
  2. Then, in a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Place the vegetable oil into a 1-cup measuring device and add the egg and enough milk to fill up the cup.
  4. Pour this into the flour mixture. Next, fold in the berries slowly. Then, spoon in the batter to fill the muffin tray to the top and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  5. For the crumb topping mixture: mix together ½ cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, ¼ cup butter and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
  6. Mix these ingredients with a fork and use it to sprinkle on top of the muffins before baking.
  7. Place the muffin tray into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. When done, take them out to cool down.

blueberry muffins 3

My Best Banana Bread

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Banana Bread

Sometimes our kids can be the best sources of information. We were discussing quite a lot on the subject of bananas and how healthy they are. Apparently, my youngest learned it from school and so she naturally told me everything about it. She talked a lot from the ride going to school and then again on the bus home. She caused her sister quite the craving for banana and peanut butter sandwiches.

As I was making them, I suddenly realized that I bought home a bunch of bananas for a reason. My daughter had also subconsciously made me want to eat bananas and all things I can bake using it as the main ingredient. Probably it’s why I chose to bake banana muffins the other day too.

Today, I went ahead and made some banana bread. I was planning to serve this with vanilla ice cream on top but the family normally just enjoys it as is. Whatever the case, I was determined to put the banana discussion to rest by asking my daughter to stop talking about it and give her these as peace offering.

I think the smile on her face told me I was already forgiven the moment I took it out of the oven. It should work the same way for your family. Nothing puts an issue to rest than a hot plate of forgiveness served with a piece of bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Description

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F or about 175°C and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Do it lightly.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Next, take the butter and brown sugar and mix them together on a separate bowl as well.
  3. Add the egg and mashed bananas and mix until well blended. Pour this into the flour mixture just to moisten. When they’re all evenly combined, pour this over into the loaf pan.
  4. Place the loaf pan into the oven and bake for 60 to 65 minutes. Or insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf and if it comes out clean, the bread is ready.
  5. Take it out of the oven and let it cool off for 10 minutes. Then turn this out into a wire rack. Cut them into pieces right before you serve.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

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Sometimes the kids can’t stop munching on junk food which bugs me whole lot because I can’t seem to get them to snack on something healthier. Admittedly, I knew they weren’t the biggest fans of vegetables. As parents I might have had a hand on that too. This time, I am beginning to change things at home starting with our food.

I vowed that I would make them eat healthier. So I thought about incorporating meats into their snacks. Probably some meat recipes I have on my arsenal might work out as filling snacks. This chicken recipe is special because it would do just that. I find that it’s very good as a snack in between meals (believe me they’re perfect for it) as well as lunch. When I first made this, the kids when bonkers for it; which prompted me to be creative about my presentations so they don’t lose interest. They’re the same chicken nuggets we love but with a twist here and there.

I am sharing this recipe to you in the hopes that it would help other mothers do the same thing. It’s an easy dish which could keep your kids interested to eat their lunch/snacks from now on.

Ingredients

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Description

  1. Prepare the oven and preheat to 400°F or about 200°C.
  2. Slice chicken breasts into 1 and 1/2-inch bite-sized portions. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, basil and thyme. Mix these well.
  3. Melt some butter in small skillet and set it aside on a small sauce dish for dipping.
  4. Next, take each chicken piece and dip into the melted butter first and then coat it generously with the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the well coated pieces into a greased cooking sheet in a single layer. Bake the pieces on the oven for 20 minutes. Serve after it has cooled down.

Chocolate Donuts & Crushed Pistachios

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Chocolate Donuts & Crushed Pistachios 2
Making your own donuts is such a delight. I never knew it would taste so much better this way. I used to love donuts from a box because they’re effective pick-me-uppers on days when you just have low energy. Having those days are like an excuse to have two or three donuts without judgment. Cheat days is what I call it. Ever since I learned how to make my own donuts, I’ve been spreading my “cheat days” all around friends and family.

It’s a little tough to make at first but when you see the green of the pistachios and the melted chocolate, you’ll be glad you did it. Trust me on presentation alone, you’ll get instant points. I honestly thought I couldn’t pull this one off having made none in the past. What got me through it is the desire to keep the donut covered in the brown goodness and then have to taste it afterwards.

You can tell I am crazy for desserts. And I am hoping that you would be the same; starting with this wonderful chocolate and pistachios combo. There’s nothing to dislike in this one.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, crushed
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp soy or almond milk
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup soy milk or creamer
  • 4 ounces vegan chocolate chips

Description

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare your donut pan and spray it with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder, baking soda and salt. These are the dry ingredients to mix well. In a separate bowl, combine apple sauce, soymilk, vanilla and oil. Whisk these wet ingredients together.
  3. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir well until you get a good batter.
  4. Then spoon the batter into the donut pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes. You can tell that the donuts are ready if they spring back when pressed a little. Remove from oven and let it cool down. You may transfer it on a cooling rack if you have it.
  5. Next, it’s time to make the chocolate ganache. Start by placing the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Then heat up your soymilk until it’s ready to boil (there will be a thin layer of skin forming on top when ready). Pour over the chocolate chips and cover for 5 minutes. Stir together just as the chocolate is melting. Make sure there are no lumps of chocolate on this mixture.
  6. Dip each donut into the ganache. You can choose to dip the entire donut or just the top. Let the ganache set completely before sprinkling on the crushed pistachios. Best served as soon as chocolate has set.

Cherry Cheesecake

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I am a big cheesecake fan and quite possibly still a fan of all desserts that don’t require a lot of baking. Just place them in the ice box for an hour and take out whenever the cravings and hunger pangs take over. What’s absolutely fun about these kinds of cakes and pastries is the fact that you can eat them off the bat. Perhaps, that’s just the sweet tooth in me talking but really when I see ready-to-eat and easy-to-prepare desserts, my world stops.

Thankfully, I share this enthusiasm with my family. They do have their mini cravings once in a while and I pretend to love those pastries that came from a box. All I really want to do is take out all the contents of the cupboards and think of what to whip up. I don’t run a restaurant kitchen at home so I don’t have baking ingredients on stock most of the time. But by chance I discovered this recipe and have never let it go since.

This cheesecake recipe is the chicken noodle soup of the dessert category. It makes me feel good making it for the family and it gives me comfort knowing that there’s always a slice waiting for me.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 (12.5 ounce) can cherry pie filling

Description

  1. Take your graham cracker crumbs (crush them up because that’s more fun), sugar and margarine. Then mix them together in a bowl. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated well.
  2. On a pie plate, place the crumbs and press until you make a decent pie crust out of it.
  3. Take another bowl where you can add in the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat these ingredients together until you get a smooth and spreadable mixture.
  4. Next, pour this entire mixture over the pie crust you prepared. Smooth it over with the help of a spatula. Refrigerate this until the pie sets in about 2 -3 hours.
  5. Spread the cherry pie filling over the top and refrigerate just minutes before you serve. Best served chilled.

Baked Potato with Mushrooms and Cheese

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I don’t know about you but watching cheese as it melts makes me hungry. Anyone who can resist a cheese and potato combination must dislike food or something. But for the life of me, why would you? There’s nothing to disapprove about this recipe. This dish is basically hyped up mashed potatoes with just a bit more cheese added to it (abundantly so). It would be the perfect complement to steak or fried chicken dinners. Yum!

It’s healthier too because you left the skins on the potatoes not just for presentation. Now some people may not want to eat the skins and that’s perfectly fine. They’re missing out though because I’ve learned that potato skins contain more nutrients than the flesh itself. It really is more nutritious to eat the skin. Anyway it’s perfectly clean. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly before you start baking at all.

If you’re the world’s biggest fan of mashed potatoes like I am, then this recipe will knock your socks off. It’s flavorful and the mushrooms give it a new texture. Plus, the cheese is just heaven. The kids will love this recipe as much as you do. I can tell you that!

Ingredients

  • 6 small russet potatoes (about 7 ounces each), scrubbed
  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large green onions, chopped
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely grated white cheddar cheese

Description

  1. Start by baking the potatoes. Set the oven to preheat at 375°F. Using a fork, pierce each potato several times and place them directly on the rack. Bake for at least an hour. When done, they should break open easily just don’t destroy the skins on them.
  2. While potatoes are baking, melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms for about 7 minutes or until golden brown. Stir frequently. Then add the green onions, cook until wilted and set aside.
  3. Take the potatoes out from the oven using your mitts and cut them in half, lengthwise. Slowly scoop out all of the cooked flesh, place it on a bowl and leave the skins intact. Add sour cream, cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter (not melted) to the bowl and mash all ingredients together. Mix well after.
  4. Then take the mushroom and green onion and add them to the mashed potatoes. Add half a cup of cheddar cheese and mix well. Season to taste using salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven again to 375°F. Then take a spoon and mound in the mashed potato mixture gently into the skins. Sprinkle each with about a tablespoon of cheese. Place each potato half on a baking sheet. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate just before baking.
  6. Bake the potato halves until all the cheese melts through. That takes about 25-35 minutes depending on how long the potatoes have been refrigerated. Serve hot.

 

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