Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baileys Brownies

In the first chapter of Deliciously Sinful by Lilli Feisty, Phoebe unsuccessfully attempts to make vegan brownies. Not having any reason to deprive myself of dairy (which happens to be one of my favorite food groups), I didn’t experiment with vegan brownies in my own kitchen. I did, however, decide to make some with alcohol! Since I like to keep things simple with the first go-around of a kitchen experiment, I used a brownie mix. All I did to booze up these brownies was substitute Baileys (I used the mint chocolate variety) for the water called for on the box. They weren’t very boozy, but the brownies tasted great so I’m deeming them a success until I figure out how to get a stronger Baileys flavor with brownies made from scratch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Muffins

Those familiar with Cindy Woodsmall's Ada's House series know that the series title refers to bakery Ada runs with help from Cara and Deborah. So to go along with The Harvest of Grace, I baked Apple Muffins from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss. (A review of this cookbook, which was provided for review by the publisher, is coming but I need to test out a few more recipes first.) Now I am far from a fearful baker, the target audience, but I love simple recipes that don't require much in the way of special equipment. These muffins were so simple that I actually had all the ingredients at hand (thanks to a coworker who provided the apples from his orchard). The recipe was easy to follow and made precisely 12 muffins. And even better, they were absolutely delicious!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Summer Squash Muffins

Like Alison’s father in Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves, I’m not much for eating the “healthy” stuff preferring steak and potatoes for dinner followed by calorie-laden desserts. I’m one of those who gets her vegetables by drinking fruit/vegetable juice blends. But I will experiment with ingredients in my baking; so when a coworker brought in some massive squash from her garden, I decided to see what I could bake. I headed to since the site allows you to search by ingredients. It came back with this Summer Squash Bread that I turned into muffins (just bake 20-25 minutes instead of the 45 minutes called for in the recipe). The batter didn’t look too appetizing, so I wasn’t sure about these, but they tasted great.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lemon Fluff

I have been terrible about posting! All of August went by without a peep and now September is almost over too. This doesn't mean I haven't been baking, I just haven't gotten it together enough to transfer the pictures from my camera to the computer and do a write up. I promise to try to do better.

Back when I reviewed Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards, I intended to post something pie-related. See in Sunset Bridge, there's a character with her own pie shop. I don't make very many pies though, so I made Lemon Fluff instead. It's a simple, no-bake lemony dessert which I wasn't very impressed with (although a few coworkers said they liked it). First off, the recipe (which I found in one of my mom's magazines) called for a 9x13 pan. As I started pressing the graham cracker crust into the pan, I started thinking the crust would be too thin and transferred it to an 8x8 pan instead. I'm glad I did. And although it had great lemon flavor, I didn't care for the texture that came from the cream cheese mixed with evaporated milk. Not my most successful kitchen venture...maybe that's why it took so long to make it online.

Friday, July 15, 2011

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

One of the minor characters in The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross is always in the kitchen coming up with something great to share with Clementine. I'm not nearly as creative as Eli nor do I have all the space and ingredients afforded by Clementine's wealthy parents, which is why a cookbook like In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine is pretty perfect for me. The authors have created these recipes precisely for people with small apartment kitchens. The recipes don't call for any unusual equipment (who has room to store all of that?) and many are for smaller serving sizes, which is great because I hate making a great dish that I quickly grow tired of because I'm stuck eating it all week long. I'll admit that not all of the recipes in this cookbook appeal to me, but one that I was quite pleased with was the White Cheddar Mac and Cheese. It takes a bit of effort and dirties a few pots and pans, but the end result was so yummy. Two recommendations: Stir the mac and cheese about halfway through the baking time and always use good cheese like Tillamook.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dijon Chicken Salad

Picnics and the 4th of July just seem to go together. So here's my recipe for Dijon Chicken Salad, which makes an excellent picnic sandwich.

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup Dijonnaise
2 oz. shaved Parmesan

Mix it all together. Serve warm on sourdough.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

S'mores Brownies

These S'mores Brownies are incredibly easy and absolutely delicious. I brought them to work for a coworker's goodbye and everyone raved about them. I'm not sure where the original recipe came from, but my mom passed it along to me.

All you need is a 13x9 brownie mix and the ingredients called for on the box plus graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips (though I substituted butterscotch this time around). After greasing the pan, line it with graham crackers; pour the brownie batter over top. Bake according to box, but when five minutes remains add the marshmallows and chips to the top. Bake the remaining five minutes.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes

I'm a bit behind in posting this one, but for Easter I made a modified version of the Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes from the cookbook, Cupcakes: From the Cake Mix Doctor. I love cake mix recipes and this cookbook provides some of my favorites. And to tie this into a book I reviewed, let's go for Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. In that book, Emily bakes tons of cupcakes and brings them into work (which is exactly what I did with these) as part of her grieving process regarding the loss of her husband. Emily's boss doesn't appreciate the baked goods, but fortunately for me, my coworkers love the cupcakes.

Here's how I modified the recipe for Easter: I used Dove Dark Chocolate eggs instead of Hershey's Kisses and Easter-colored M&M's instead of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I also used a dark chocolate buttercream for the frosting. The end result was delicious. Check out another modification (with plenty of pictures) at Sweet & Saucy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry includes a number of recipes that Ginny makes throughout the novel. I decided to try her grandmother’s shortbread recipe. It’s very simple with just 2 cups of flour, 2 sticks of butter, and ½ cup of sugar mixed together and then baked at 350 degrees. My first batch was tragically burnt (I checked halfway and they looked ok, but the final minutes did them in), so I reduced the baking time to 16 minutes for the second batch and was quite pleased. Shortbread is a little plain, but still delicious.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Raspberry Angel Food Cake

When she isn't romancing a former flame, Tara from The Sweetest Thing is baking up a storm (she's going to be taking care of food for the inn she owns with her sisters). The ARC of the second book in the Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis includes a casserole recipe, but I don't like casseroles so I'm not about to make one. Instead, I'll share this incredibly simple and oh so yummy Raspberry Angel Food Cake.

The original recipe came from one of my mom's magazines, but I made one small change: raspberry extract. All you need to make this is a box of angel food mix (and anything the mix calls for), a small box of raspberry Jello, and vanilla and raspberry extracts. Just mix up the angel food according to the box, then add a teaspoon a piece of the extracts. Pour about half the batter into the angel food pan; add Jello powder to the remaining batter, then swirl it into the pan. Bake according to the box. Even if you've never baked before, you can make this.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mocha Madeira Cake

Murder Takes the Cake includes a few recipes in the back. The one I decided to try was the Mocha Madeira Cake. What appealed to me is that this cake is topped with sugar rather than frosting. For whatever reason, I’m not that much of a frosting fan.

This isn’t a light, fluffy cake, but rather more dense. It’s also definitely for chocolate fans (the flavor is excellent if
you love chocolate like I do). Madeira cakes are traditionally served with Madeira wine (hence the name), but I was satisfied with a large glass of milk.

This is a completely from scratch cake, but with only five ingredients, it's quite simple. The recipe calls for self-rising flour, which I bought before realizing that it's just regular flour with baking powder and salt already added. Definitely make your own self-rising flour if you have a recipe that calls for it. I'm going to be baking a lot of biscuits to use it up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Pie

I thought it might be fun to bake in conjunction with some of the books I review. Not every book mentions food, but quite a few do. Baking pies comes up in Welcome to Last Chance when Ray (who has a head injury) decides to help Clay find a mate by ranking the single women in town. Ray thinks the ability to make a good pie is important. One pie-related issue brought up is whether it’s alright to use store-bought crust. Because I love shortcuts, I use a store-bought crust almost every time. I used the Keebler Ready Crust and one of Keebler’s recipes to make this yummy Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Pie.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Not long after I made the Cherry Crumb Muffins featured in my review of the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, I made another variation of their basic muffin: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins. Once again they were delicious and easy to make. These muffins use the same base, so they actually just get easier and easier to make. Since these muffins weren’t a part of the cookbook review, I decided that I could do what I always like do and change something. I added far more chocolate than the ¾ cup called for because I love chocolate. If you do too, I would recommend adding chocolate because even with the extra I felt there could be more. My other suggestion would be to mash the bananas a little (I’ll try this next time I make them) because I would’ve liked for the bananas to be more distributed throughout the muffin rather than coming in large chunks here and there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When I first started reviewing books, it didn’t occur to me that cookbooks might be a part of that. The first one I reviewed, 5 Ingredient Fix, focused more on cooking meals than baking. I’ve always preferred baking to cooking, but was pleased with the easy recipes featured. I’ve actually succeeded in cooking a few meals for myself! Quite the feat for someone who prefers the convenience of restaurants and microwaves. Baking, on the other hand, has always been something I was willing to put the time in for; though I love to “cheat” with mixes.

After reviewing the cookbook from the Clinton St. Baking Company, I started thinking that I might enjoy blogging about baking in addition to my book reviews. So here it is, my baking blog.