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Category Archives: Sweets

Classic Cherry Pie

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If you had trouble accessing the Preacher Tuna Salad recipe yesterday, I apologize. I accidentally posted it twice and deleted the original, making the link most everyone got lead to nowhere.  You can click here to view the recipe.With the 4th of July holiday quickly approaching, I thought it was about time I shared my favorite cherry pie recipe.  Maybe it’s all the red, but it just seems very festive to me! :)  There’s nothing fancy about it, unless you consider a lattice top crust fancy, but it’s a very good pie and excellent with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I love the flavor the almond extract adds, to me it is the essential key to a good cherry pie.

I love my Perfect Pie Crust above all others, and is the crust pictured here.  I highly recommend it for any and all pies, but truth be told, I just as often use a box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts.  Judge me if you must, but it saves so much time!  If you buy pre-made crusts, don’t bother with generic/off-brands, they are awful. Pillsbury is pretty good if you don’t have time to make your own.

Classic Cherry Pie

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Pastry for a two-crust pie
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 (14.5 oz) cans tart cherries in water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
Milk & coarse sugar for top crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one pie crust and line a 9” pie plate; place in refrigerator. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar & cornstarch and mix well. Drain the juice from the cherries into the pan with the sugar & cornstarch; set the cherries aside. Stirring constantly, cook the juice mixture over medium heat, until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, almond extract, and food coloring, if desired, until butter is melted. Stir in the cherries. Spoon into prepared pie plate. Roll out second disc of dough and cut into strips with a pastry wheel or pizza cutter. Arrange strips on top of filling to make a lattice design. Seal and flute edges. Brush milk over crust and sprinkle with sugar. Place on middle oven rack and put a cookie sheet below to catch any spillover. Bake 30 minutes, then put a pie shield on the pie to protect the crust from over-browning. Bake another 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Cool at least two hours or overnight before serving.

Veronica’s note: I tend to cook my fruit pie filling until extremely thick, as I prefer my pies not to run at all when cut, as you can see in the photos. If you like yours to run a little, just follow the directions and you’ll be fine. My weirdness for cooking it until nearly cement is not included in them. :)  Also, I have a step-by-step video tutorial on another pie that includes how to make a lattice design here.

**Be sure to visit my “Current Favorites” in the sidebar at the right for other recipes that would be a great addition to your July 4th menu.**

Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

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Are you a crunchy granola bar person, or a chewy granola bar person? I’m the latter.  My favorite granola bars are the Sunbelt Bakery ones. and it has been a quest of mine for a long time to find a recipe that would duplicate their soft, chewy texture.  I felt that baking them wasn’t the way to go, as all the ones I baked were just a little too firm, a little too dry, and not chewy enough.  I made lots of my own recipes in the search to find that perfect recipe, and never did find it.

Until Sarah.  She posted a recipe for Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars and my search ended there.  I’m tellin’ ya, coconut oil is such a good friend in the kitchen.  Makes great cookies, coffee, and granola bars!  These are exactly what I was looking for, and a little healthier than Sunbelt Bakery’s with the flaxseed, honey, coconut oil, and lack of processed/weird ingredients.  And totally crazy delicious!

Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

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2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed* (I used whole)
1/2 cup mix-ins of your choice (I used peanuts)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
1/3 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (I used butterscotch chips)

*You can use wheat germ, wheat bran, or more rolled oats in place of the flaxseed.

Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil or wax paper, and grease well with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together cereal, oats, flaxseed, and mix-ins. In a saucepan, stir together honey, brown sugar, and salt. Turn heat onto medium-low, then stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 60 seconds, then remove from heat and gently mix in coconut oil and peanut butter, careful not to splash. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix to combine.

Press mixture into prepared pan, then evenly distribute chocolate chunks over top. If you mix the chocolate in, it will melt. Press into granola mixture with a spatula then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and wrap in aluminum foil or wax paper for easy transport.

Recipe source: The Pajama Chef

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Whoooooa Nelly, y’all.  I’ve been making the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for six years, after trying recipe after recipe and finally settling on the one I thought was the BEST and the only one worth making.  Until I made this one.  Which is much easier, and even better.

I won a blue ribbon at the 2011 Kansas State Fair for my Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  And these are better, in my humble opinion. :)

My ideal chocolate chip cookie is crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and have superior flavor.  This one beats every recipe I’ve ever tried and knocks my standards out of the park.  So crispy on the outside, so melty and chewy on the inside, so chocolate & brown sugar-y, with just a hint of coconut flavor.  It’s that coconut flavor that makes it for me.  It’s not in-your-face obvious, and I’m not sure anyone who didn’t know the coconut oil was in there would be able to put their finger on the flavor, but it adds a little something extra that just kills it for me.  It’s out of this wooooorld, people.

I’m weird about labeling my recipes with “Best,” aside from World’s Best Salmon, and avoid it since my definition of best is likely different than your definition of best.  (Hint: any time you see the word “favorite” in a recipe name on my blog, that’s a recipe I consider “best.”)  So I won’t say these are the best.  I haven’t tried every single recipe, so I can’t say it’s the best. But it’s really, really good.  And definitely worth a try, even if you have already found your best.

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

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½ cup virgin coconut oil, room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)

With a mixer, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda for 4 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the egg and vanilla and whip another minute. Add the flour and stir together by hand until almost combined, then add the chips continue to stir until combined. Press a sheet of plastic wrap down on top of the dough and refrigerate while the oven is preheating.

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Once the oven is preheated, remove the dough from the fridge and scoop out enough dough to make 1-inch balls using either a cookie scoop, or a metal spoon. If the dough has become too firm, you can smoosh the balls together and roll in balls, or leave the bowl out a few minutes to soften a bit before scooping.

Space about 2” apart on cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, just until beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and allow to rest on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Store cookies in airtight container or Ziploc bag(s) with air pressed out.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Veronica’s note: Virgin coconut oil is different from regular coconut oil and you can usually find it by the healthier oils, like extra-virgin olive oil, in a glass jar. If you have coconut oil and aren’t sure what kind you have, look for the word “virgin” on the label. If you can’t find it, it’s most likely refined, but the final test is to take a sniff. It should smell lovely, like coconut, and taste the same way. Regular coconut oil will likely work, but won’t give it the special flavor.

Recipe source: adapted from Alida’s Kitchen

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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It’s been a while since I made this cake, but it was so incredibly good that I still remember the feel and taste of it in my mouth. You know a recipe is good when the end result leaves that kind of impression. Soft, warm, gooey, sweet, rich, nutty, crunchy, creamy, pillowy – basically, everything good. A whole lotta yum.  There is frosting mixed into the cake. And then it’s topped with even more goodness. Need I say more?

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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Printable recipe with picture

Cake:
1 (15 oz) box Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 (16 oz) tub Coconut Pecan Frosting
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with oil and set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients except the pecans and beat together until well combined, a minute or two, then stir in the pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Rest on a cooling rack while you make the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Continue to stir until heated through, then stir in the pecans.  Pour over the whole cake, or individual slices.

Recipe source: The Country Cook

More cake mix favorites:

Chocolate Italian Love Cake – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Italian Cream Cake – chock full of pecans, coconut, and maraschino cherries, topped with cream cheese frosting. To die for.

Cookies ‘n Cream Cake/Cupcakes. I didn’t like Oreos until this cake.

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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I was assigned to Karen’s blog, Cinnamon Freud, for the Secret Recipe Club this month. She’s a counseling psychology doctoral student who also loves to cook and bake. How genius is her blog name?! I know she must get that a lot, but it’s true. Genius.

So anyway, last month I chose banana bread for my SRC assignment and Debra suggested I do banana bread every month because of my outrageous obsession with it. Although I didn’t intend to take her up on that challenge, as soon as I received my SRC assignment, I looked to see if Karen had a banana bread recipe, because I had a bunch of bananas that were really overripe and needing to be used. And she did – this recipe, in fact.  I made this bread the same day I received my assignment – the quickest I’ve ever done it!

Since she simply called it banana bread, and I have way too many banana recipes on my blog to call it just banana bread, I added her blog name into it.  I couldn’t resist – it’s just so catchy!  :)  My second choice for this bread’s name would be “Dessert Banana Bread.”  This bread has more sugar than normal (which I totally am on board with – the more sugar the better, as far as I’m concerned), making it a bit more indulgent and appropriate for dessert…with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce on top, of course. haha! ;)  Oh and I have to tell you this bread is excellent with black walnuts. I made one plain, one with black walnuts. They were beautiful – sweet, dense, soft & velvety, just perfect.  These disappeared FAST – a definite winner!

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc)
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and any mix-ins you want to add. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until blended, then add the remaining ingredients, beating until combined. Add approximately 1/4 cup dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

Spread into prepared loaf pans & bake for 55-70 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe source: Cinnamon Freud

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I usually keep my recipe posts and baby posts totally separate, but since I haven’t been posting very much period, I just can’t resist including some baby love. :)  Here he is being a cloth diaper and baby leg warmers model. :D

Be sure to check out the other Group C Secret Recipe Club contributions this month by clicking the linky frog below!

Biscoff Butter Bars

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This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Annie’s Noms and I was in heaven. A baking blog with the majority of recipes given with grams instead of cups!  Be still my beating heart. :) While I enjoyed scouring through her recipes to find the one, I actually found it in the first thirty seconds but just had to keep looking because, hello. A baking blog. I love you and all your desserts, Annie!

I knew before I even saw the recipe that her Biscoff Butter Bars were exactly what I wanted to make. Hello. Biscoff and butter? Gimme gimme. If you haven’t had Biscoff yet, it’s cookie butter – smooth and creamy like peanut butter but made with lightly spiced cookies instead of peanuts.  Yes, seriously, cookie butter really is a thing, and it’s so good.  I encourage you to try it.  Most supermarkets, including Walmart, sell it now, and can be found by the peanut butter usually. Annie likes to eat it on croissants and that sounds like heaven!! Personally, I try not to buy it too often because it inevitably gets eaten spoonful by spoonful until I’ve devoured the entire jar in a shamefully short amount of time. But adding it to a butter-laden recipe, while perhaps even more sinful, makes it a lot easier to share with others and keep it off my own hips.

Unfortunately, I ended up eating more than my fair share anyway. Although I over-baked them a bit (something I previously considered an unforgivable culinary sin until I had a child and realized that over-baking is sometimes unavoidable), they were so good it was hard to stop eating them. Butter makes everything better, even something as perfect as Biscoff.

Please stop by Annie’s blog to see how beautiful these bars are when baked perfectly, and check out her other yummy desserts!

Biscoff Butter Bars

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Printable recipe with picture

½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
½ cup (3 ½ oz / 100 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (3 oz / 84 g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ½ oz / 242 g) all-purpose flour
1 (14.1 oz) jar Biscoff Spread

Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a 9×9 in pan. Place the butter and sugars into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on med-high speed. Add the vanilla extract and flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Press half the dough into the greased pan (wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate) and bake for 12-14 minutes, until puffy and ever so slightly firm to the touch. It will not look done.

Allow the base to cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled, spread the Biscoff over the base, leaving a 1/4 inch gap around the edge. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the Biscoff and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffy, very lightly golden and slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Slice into 12-15 bars.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Annie’s Noms.

Microwave Peanut Butter Cookies

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For some reason I’ve never had the urge to make one of those quick and easy chocolate mug cakes that are done in the microwave.  I’ve saved recipes for them, thinking it sounds like a fun idea, but I guess it seems like too much work to mix up the ingredients for such a small cake. Especially since I know I’d have to do it at least twice in a row to satisfy my sweet tooth-lol.

But a microwave cookie?  I had to try that.  (Don’t forget my second favorite food group is “Cookies,” with “Dip” being the first-haha.)  The original recipe was for a single cookie but I don’t keep a carton of Egg Beaters on hand and didn’t want to measure out a single tablespoon of egg white from a real egg, so I just multiplied the recipe by four to use a whole real egg (I’ve got mad baking mathematical skillz and knew that a whole egg = 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons, just like I know how many ounces is in a cup of flour & sugar so that I don’t have to use measuring cups!).  This yielded four cookies, which is totally preferable to one cookie in my world.  :D

Dennis and I split the cookies and both loved them!  They are soft and chewy and totally hit the sweet spot. So simple and you don’t even have to turn on the oven.  Now that’s a summer dessert I can get behind. Extra bonus for those with food allergies: these are naturally gluten and dairy free!

Microwave Peanut Butter Cookies

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Printable recipe with picture

½ cup (4 ¾ oz) creamy peanut butter
¼ cup (2 oz) brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg

Use a fork to mix the peanut butter and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Stir in the baking powder until completely incorporated. Mix in the egg until batter is uniform, thick & smooth. Remove ¼ – 1/3 of the batter and place on a small microwave-safe plate. Press into a thick cookie shape about 2″ in diameter and microwave 1 minute. Allow to cool while repeating with remaining batter. I preferred these when just a little warm.

Makes 3-4 large cookies.

Recipe source: adapted from Carrot’s ‘n Cake

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