Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round Up!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of my favorite culture ever (no, I'm not joking) here is a round up of all my Mexican-inspired recipes that I have made over the years. Hope you enjoy!

Shown Left to Right/Top to Bottom:

Not shown but still a great recipe to make:

Fresh Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Tis the season for fresh berries galore! Every where I go, there are tons of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries! I get so excited because berries are my favorite things ever, and I eat them constantly during the spring and summer.

My one goal that I've had the last several months was to create a recipe for strawberry cake that didn't have any jell-o or preservatives in it. It might've been one of the most impossible things I have done, and every recipe I tried yielded to a weird cake that didn't taste right. Then, I finally found it.

This recipe is so simple, it's just a handful of ingredients, everything you should have on hand to bake this tasty cake. Just run to the store to grab some strawberries (or grab 'em from your fridge if you have a plethora like yours truly) and bake away! It's quick and easy and all you use is one bowl, a blender or food processor, and one spoon. Seriously, it's that easy to make a fresh berry cake! I haven't tried it yet, but I'm wondering if this would go over well with blackberries or raspberries??? Let me know if you try it!

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches with a Cream Cheese Filling

It's spring and although Easter has come and gone, I will eat happily eat carrot cake from March to May… as well as June through February. I'm not biased to seasons when it comes to carrot cake.

If you read my thoughts on my post for Carrot Cake Banana Bread, you'll see that I am very very picky about the kind of carrot cake I eat. I don't like pineapple in it, I am not a fan of coconut or raisins in it, I just like simple, rich, moist, spicy carrot cake. I also just like it topped with a simple cream cheese frosting. That's it. Simple is sweet in my books.

I love cake, seriously love cake, but what I love more is cookies. Seriously. Ask anyone. I love cookies more than any other dessert. That's saying a lot because I love cake and pie. So when I saw carrot cake cookies, my mouth started drooling. Hello, that sounds like the best idea EVER.

Let's take it to another level and whip up some cream cheese frosting and make some tasty cookie sandwiches. I'll leave you to it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Carrot Cake Banana Bread

Hello and welcome to my favorite part of spring: Carrot cake everything.

When I was growing up, I actually hated spring time cakes because they were usually full of coconut (Coconut Cream Pie) or too much nutmeg or allspice (Carrot Cake) or more coconut (German Chocolate) and I just hated every spring time cake except lemon.

But a couple of years ago, I was working at a hotel as a waitress, and I got to try a slice of carrot cake from the restaurant we ordered it from. Holy delectable carrot pieces, batman. It was delicious. I was impressed and shocked and shocked that I was impressed. I've had that particular restaurant's cake several times sense then, and have always enjoyed a piece.

One thing I am peculiar about when it comes to carrot cakes is what ingredients go inside of it. I find it quite odd, actually, that people bake pineapple in their carrot cake! What?! That's humming bird cake! I also am not a fan of raisins in my cake. What I DO love is walnuts in my carrot cake. Not pecans, but walnuts. They've got a nuttier flavor and add a depth to the cake that I don't think pecans can do.

Anyways, back on track, because this is not carrot cake. It's not banana bread. It's carrot cake banana bread. Whaaaaaa?!

Yes, ladies and germs, you read that right. Carrot cake banana bread with a cream cheese frosting! It's  beautiful medley of the spice of a carrot cake with a naturally sweetened flavor of classic banana bread. So moist and dense, so spicy and delicious. I ate an entire half a loaf by myself.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it's two bowls and no mixer required! I used a medium bowl and a large bowl and a rubber spatula. I was done in less than 15 minutes, and it only took that long because I grated my own carrots in my food processor. (What an over achiever!)

So with that, my only two tips are this:

1. Use an aluminum or paper loaf pan you can cut open. You don't have to make a mess in your personal loaf pan if you use one you can throw away! You might be able to see in some photos that my loaf pan was made of corrugated cardboard, and all I did to photograph it was that I ripped it open and sliced it out. It's a lot easier to cut and serve as well! I highly recommend a disposable loaf pan!

2. Don't over mix! If you do, your bread will be super dense and come out all flat and wonky! Once you mix the wet ingredients with the dry, fold and stir only as necessary. You'll yield in a taller and lighter bread! Yum!

Here are two more delicious breads that I love to make!

Spring Time Chocolate Covered Pretzel Wands

Pretzels wands have been a huge hit on my blog the last several months. I've even been selling them here in Norman. They are perfectly sized individual snacks for kids and adults alike. You can dip them in whatever chocolate you want and you can coat/decorate them in whatever toppings you want. They're easy to make and require three items from your kitchen (6 if you count the pretzels, chocolate, and sprinkles!).

Aren't these just so bright and festive?! I love them!

I'm going to keep this post short. As much as I'd like to delve into how awesome pretzel wands are, I got a lot of blogging to do to catch up you followers with what I've been doing lately! Here are some other photos of these pretty little things from different holidays!

But before I leave you with the recipe, here are some other pretzel snacks that I've got on the blog, too!

Spring-y Rice Krispy Treats

Welcome, Spring! It's so good to see you here!

Actually, in Oklahoma, we really only have two seasons: Tornado Season and Blizzard Season. Most people just call it summer and winter, but whatevs.

So Easter has come and gone, and it is so hard to believe we have just one more week in April. I feel like this year has flown by! Does this happen as you get older? Time just flashes? Oh well!

I was excited to make these for a spring time blog post because they are just so darn yummy! Do you eat Rice Krispy Treats? If you're anything like me, you can eat an entire 9" x 13" dish of rice krispy treats without blinking. I find them to be one of the most addicting sweets ever! That's why I don't make them too often, otherwise I'd be as round as a house!

This recipe is super simple, and literally only 5 ingredients, but I do have some tips for you to make these treats even better!

1. Don't skimp on the marshmallows. Normally, I'm not a brand snob when I'm in the kitchen. HOWEVER, there are a few things I don't skimp on when it comes to name brand items: vanilla extract, coffee, soda, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, and marshmallows.

No I am not kidding. Jet-Puff Marshmallows versus Great Value Marshmallows are two totally different things. Jet-Puffs are fluffy and light, like what a marshmallow would taste like, while great value is pretty dense for a marshmallow. No joke. Don't skimp.

2. Don't make these in a smaller dish. A smaller dish means a thicker treat, and these will scrape the roof of your mouth off if you compact them into a tiny 9" x 9" dish. Just use a 9" x 13" and you'll thank me later.

3. Grease your dish and your spoon well. I use canola oil cooking spray. It doesn't leave a nasty vegetable oil aftertaste on your treats and it makes it infinitely easier to press into the dish and pull out later to cut into bars. You can also spray the canola oil on your hands and press down like that.

4. Use the sprinkles! Sprinkles are so fun, and they add a fun and festive crunch to your treat! You'll love the extra color and so will your taste testers! Melted chocolate is also a great option, and adds a bit more flavor!

Here are two more tasty marshmallow treats!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flash Spring Time Recipe Round Up

Hello all! 

I've been a very busy girl. With a new full-time job (in a bakery!!!!!!), I've been very busy with Easter orders this weekend. 

What I'd like to do, though, is give you the opportunity to check out some of my tasty treats I've been baking lately. The only thing is that I don't have time to blog 5 recipes this weekend. So I'm going to link up my Key Ingredient recipe cards on this post so you have access to all the recipes. 

I hope you enjoy!

Some great dessert options for Easter Sunday!

Link Here --> Mini Canoli Cups

(No Photo) Link Here --> Lemon Sugar Cookies

(No Photo) Link Here --> Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Some great breakfast options for Easter Sunday!

Link Here --> French Toast Donuts

Link Here --> Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Link Here --> Cinnamon Honey Scones

Friday, April 4, 2014

Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches

You can't go wrong with funfetti cookies. You can't go wrong with classic vanilla buttercream. You can't go wrong putting those two things together. That's exactly what I did.

I got an email last week asking me to do an interview for this blog and my custom orders! The Oklahoma Daily wanted to take a photo shoot of me in all my baking glory Sunday, and I literally got the time settled the night before. So I had to come up with something pretty and quick, which is where I got the idea to make funfetti cookies filled with vanilla buttercream. 

Before I get down to the recipe, I wanted to share with you the newspaper I was in! I was on the FRONT PAGE! How exciting it was to see my kitchen with me in it on the front page of a newspaper!

The recipe is pretty simple, this is a basic sugar cookie full of jimmies. There is a little bit of cream of tartar to give it a delicious sugar cookie kick that I just love. But here are a few tips and tricks to help you bake these cookies successfully. 

1. Butter and egg MUST be at room temperature. Why? Because if you don't, the ingredients will not incorporate right and you will get a crumbly mess of dough. 

2. Use jimmie sprinkles only! If you use nonpareils, you might wind up with a very tie-dye dough. Jimmies are long rice-shaped sprinkles, and nonpareils are the little tiny round sprinkles.

3. Chill for at least 30 minutes, but let the dough sit out for about 30 minutes if you chill the dough overnight. I learned that chilling for 30 minutes developed a perfectly sized cookie, but when I chilled it for a couple of hours, my dough hardly spread and I had thick squatty cookies that didn't look as pretty.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Publication in The Oklahoma Daily

I'm excited and honored to announce that I was on the front page of a local publication in Norman, Oklahoma called The Oklahoma Daily! Read the article here or look at the embedded publication below!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Coffee Break #5

Hello friends! I'm trying to pick back up with this blogging business. I've been really busy the last several months and a lot of you know why, but if you don't, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with me for a bit.

In January, I had the exciting opportunity to start working towards opening up a physical bakery in Norman, Oklahoma. I had a lot of signs pointing in the right direction, so I felt obligated to follow the attempts and began learning more about opening up my own business. My partner, Irene, and I worked together to develop a business plan and get things rolling. In February, we decided to try to launch a Kickstarter Project and see if we could get the money raised through pledges of people who supported our idea to open a local bakery in Norman. While the project was a great experience, we did not meet our goal.

At this point in time, I've learned quite a bit about trying to run/start a business. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of passion, a lot of time, and a lot of knowledge. While I had the first three, I lacked the fourth, and in the end I didn't feel comfortable enough opening a business without knowing what it takes to actually run one. At the moment, Confections + Coffee, Inc. is on hold, and I'm going to take a while to educated myself on the ins and outs of running a baking business, including finances, laws, requirements, time management, employment, and everything in between.

I'm not sure if I will ever open the bakery, but in the end, I am so glad I tried to follow my dreams and am proud to say I took the risk just to see what it would be like. I'm young and have plenty of time to gain experience about the baking industry, and if I do decided to open a bakery later on in life, I know it will be right when I need to.