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Some Updatey Stuff


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Well my weekly posting was short-lived, but life has been a whirlwind lately.  Look how much my boy has grown up since I last posted! Can you even believe he’s the same baby I introduced you guys to less than two years ago? Time just FLIES when you’re having fun, and I’m enjoying every fleeting second.

In other news, I was interviewed after dropping off my (whopping three) baked goods at the fair this year, and ended up in the Hutchinson newspaper on Saturday. If you click the photo you can enlarge it to read it if you like.

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So now everyone knows I’m just a wannabe. Ha!! And by the way, it’s not true that I place 3rd every year. I’ve placed 3rd twice (for my Favorite Banana Bread and Black Walnut Banana Bread), and didn’t place at all the other times. So yeah, pretty much doomed. It’s also not true that I’m “cautiously optimistic,” as I have no hope for placing with the banana bread competition this year.  In fact, I have no idea what recipe I’m even going to make even though I have to make it today. But I’m entering anyway. Pretty sure I’ll be doing this until I die, I’m all in and can’t stop now, even if it feels foolhardy and a time waste at this point. LOL! For new readers, you can see all about my banana bread journey here.

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We’ve also decided to do some fundraising to try and give our son a sibling, and I raised $320 (profit) selling a ton of cupcakes at my sister’s shop recently, and am currently organizing a garage sale that will be mainly donated items. My wonderful friend, Holly, started a Gofundme page for us that you can check out here if you want the scoop.

Joshua is currently recovering from his first bout with strep throat, which has been hard on all of us. Thankfully he loves his medicine and is doing so much better already.  It is so hard seeing your baby in so much pain, and I was so relieved when the doc said it was strep. If it had been a virus we just had to ride out, I don’t know what I would have done with myself. I was about to lose it, because nothing I did was enough to make him feel better, not the Motrin every four hours, not the Hyland’s cough syrup, not diffusing Thieves oil, not feeding him fresh pineapple, and he could hardly stand to eat and drink so he lost his baby fat again. (He had the stomach flu at the beginning of the year and couldn’t eat for almost a week, that was the first time he lost it.)  So everyone is much happier now, and we’re all trying to catch up on lost sleep.  Hopefully Joshua will be eating like a pig soon and getting back the little thigh rolls I adore so much.

I’ll be sure to update you guys on the banana bread competition when I find out. If you don’t hear from me this week, you can assume it’s more bad news. Ha! ;)

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TILT: My two favorite cake piping tips

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Welcome to another edition of Things I Like Thursday (TILT)! Today begins a series containing the many things I love to use to make cake & cupcake decorating quick and easy.

I’m going to start with just TWO piping tips, because I use them for nearly every cake, and/or cupcake I make. They are very inexpensive, and worth the small investment. Each of these have had about twenty five years of use between my Mother and I, and have stood the test of time. I would not be nearly so fond of making cakes and cupcakes if it weren’t for these tips.

The first is Wilton’s “Icer Tip” #789. I used it to frost both wedding cakes above, and nearly every other cake I’ve ever made. It’s wide and flat and you use it to pipe frosting in an even layer in stripes all over your cake.  This means you don’t have to crumb coat it, it means that once you stripe your cake, all you have to do is smooth the lines.  (Don’t forget my water bottle trick for a perfectly smooth finish on your frosted cake!)  You can see me in action using my trusty icing tip in the video below.

The second is just as invaluable to me, as I now go the easier route of cake-making, doing cupcakes instead.  All it takes is 1-2 seconds per cupcake to pipe on a pretty swirl and voilà! You’re done. It’s probably the fastest thing you’ll ever do with this nice a result.

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I use Wilton’s Tip 2110 (1M) for nearly all my cupcakes, as I just prefer the size of swirl it makes, and I also use it to decorate my most popular cake on this site, the Cookies ‘n Cream Cake, along with CW’s Strawberry Shortcake, and many pies, like Key Lime Pie, and yesterday’s Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie. Pretty much anything requiring a swirl of whipped cream, this is the tip I use.  I have a video tutorial on how to use it to frost cupcakes here if you want to see this tip in action.

I hope this TILT was helpful, and that you haven’t been overwhelmed with the sheer amount of links I was able to provide in just one post. Ha! Catch you next week with another cake-y edition of Things I Like Thursday.

Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own, I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t stand behind 100%.

Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

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In looking over all the food photos I have in my “future blog” folder, I’m noticing a trend. Everything is baked in the oven! In the past, I’ve tried to save most of my baked recipes to share in cooler weather, but I just bake so much in summer, that’s really all I’ve got for you. Even the main dishes I’ve been making have come from the oven.  Am I the only one? Maybe I’ve got some Australian readers eager for baked treats & casseroles? haha!

So these are a box mix recipe which I know, is probably a food crime combining wonderful virgin coconut oil in conjunction with a box mix, but it’s really good! If you’re wanting a good from-scratch coconut oil brownie you might be able to just sub coconut oil in my favorite Fudge Brownies recipe.  But if you’re in a hurry, this one will do you.

My usual trick to make box mix brownies taste homemade is to sub melted butter for the oil, but I was out, so I used coconut oil. The slight coconut oil flavor mixed with the Kahlua (I used my homemade stuff) is pretty out of this world. Using the coconut oil changes the finish on the top and although it’s got that flaky crispy layer, it’s dull, not shiny. I also noticed they were harder to remove from the pan, but nice and fudgy and the flavor is much better than just following the instructions on the back. Enjoy!

Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 fudge brownie mix
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua, room temperature

Mix all ingredients and bake according to package directions.

Veronica’s note: You want the ingredients at room temperature to keep the coconut oil from hardening during the mixing. If it hardens, it will not mix evenly. Also, if your box calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/2 cup coconut oil, not 2/3 cup. Mine turned out pretty thin in a 9×13 pan so if you like thicker brownies, go with a smaller pan.

You can’t see in this photo, but he’s already holding a half-eaten brownie while reaching for another. These are definitely Joshua-approved. I served these to five other children and three adults besides myself, they were a hit all-around.

Apricot & Pineapple Jam

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This is yet another winner from my Foodie Mama’s cookbook (I think she still has a few available, just let me know if you’re interested) that she has not only won a blue ribbon for, but included it in a coffee cake recipe and won a blue ribbon for that as well. She’s pretty much unstoppable. :)

I don’t know what to tell you about this jam other than it’s really good! The pineapple isn’t very pronounced, but does decrease the intensity of the apricot a little and make it more exotic.  If you do adult Easter baskets like our family, this would be a wonderful addition.  A certain Mother-in-law may be getting one from the Easter bunny this year! :)

Apricot & Pineapple Jam

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. dried apricots
1 quart warm water
6 cups sugar
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
5 whole cinnamon sticks
5 pint jars

Soak apricots 3 hours in warm water. Process in a food processor with blade attachment until finely ground. Place apricots and the undrained pineapples into a medium pot. Add sugar and cook rapidly until thick, stirring often. Pour into prepared jars. Insert one cinnamon stick to each jar and processes with simmering water bath about 5 minutes. Cool jars completely.

Veronica’s notes: I didn’t measure my soaking water, I just put the apricots in a very large bowl and covered them with twice as much water as the line they came to in the bowl. I let them soak for 8 hours, just because I was too busy to get back to them any sooner, and then drained before processing. I also did my canning the cheater way I learned from Suzie and Erin, which doesn’t include processing the jars in a water bath. I just put the jam in the sterilized jars and screwed on the caps and the heat from the jam sealed them all, as it always does. I only do this with jams or cranberry sauce, basically stuff with lots of sugar in it (which if you didn’t know, is an incredible preservative), and have never had any go bad within a year, though I’m not making any guarantees here and this certainly isn’t FDA approved. There’s my disclaimer so try it at your own risk. :) And perhaps it was because I didn’t process my jars in a water bath and reheat them once the cinnamon stick was inserted, but I couldn’t detect any flavor that the stick imparted so would likely just skip that ingredient unless I was going to can them properly. I might even try stirring a little cinnamon directly into the jam next time, which sounds so lovely to me.

Recipe source: Splendour In My Kitchen by Marina Castle

Daddy’s Boy

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby/toddler update, and even longer since I shared a video.  I took this one recently and I love it so much that I just had to share. I think it’s my favorite video to date. Joshua has suddenly turned into a Daddy’s boy and calls for his Daddy all day while he’s gone at work. This particular day, Dennis went in very early to work and Joshua didn’t get his usual morning time with him.  When I put him to bed, he woke up crying every 15-30 minutes for two hours until I finally allowed him to stay up a bit longer and wrestle with his favorite person.  You can tell he missed him. This just fills my heart so much.  Oh, and don’t be frightened by Den’s appearance, he was utterly exhausted but he got to sleep 12 hours the next day and no longer has those awful sunken eyes.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I just couldn’t resist sharing this V-day card I made on PicMonkey just now. You may not be able to tell, but Joshua’s been very sick all week with a tummy bug and has lost a lot of weight. Today he’s starting to feel better and has his smile back. Best Valentine’s Day gift ever!

Sweet Potato Cookies


I was assigned to Saundra’s blog, Famished Fish, Finicky Shark, for the Secret Recipe Club’s Cookie Carnival. I found her recipe for Sweet Potato Cookies just after having bought a bunch of sweet potatoes on sale. I adore sweet potatoes and love baking with them (and eating them baked, and in stew, and in a casserole, and even raw cut into sticks….try it before you make that face). So sweet potato cookies – I was all over it.

What impressed me about this recipe is not only does it have sweet potatoes, which is totally unique and fun, but Saundra came up with this recipe herself.  There was no link to credit her recipe elsewhere, and I have to admit, I was skeptical. Seriously, who makes a recipe for something like sweet potato cookies and gets it right the first time?! Did she really just say “oh, I’ll throw this butter in here and add some sugars and flour and sweet potato and other sundry and various awesomnesses,” and then shazam! There was magic? Apparently so, because I went a-Googling and could find no recipe like hers anywhere. Um, Saundra? You’s be amazin’.  If I tried to do some shazam’ing like you did, there would have been a big sha-THUD and  no zam to be found.

So I should have left well enough alone because as we already know, Saundra is the amazing one, but I didn’t have enough butterscotch chips so I did some tinkering.  I will say I LOVED this base cookie recipe sans chips. So much love.  I could have just eaten the entire batch of dough by itself. Like wow.  It’s soft and tender and not very cakey like I’d expected.  Perhaps because I didn’t make her recipe according the original ingredients, I would have preferred this without any chips at all and just the glaze.  Both of them made it too sweet.  So make your choice, I would either go with her original recipe, or make mine with the glaze but leave out the chips.

I sent these to some friends in the mail along with my award winning chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies, and one friend’s husband chose these as his favorite of all three so even being oversweet, they are pretty darn good to outrank two of the best things I make!  Thanks for sharing this fun and delicious recipe, Saundra!

Sweet Potato Cookies

1 ½ cups sweet potato puree
¾ cup unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
2/3 cup cinnamon chips (optional)

Glaze
¼ cup unsalted butter
Two dashes of salt (I forgot this so I added some salt flakes on top)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats; set aside.

To make the sweet potato puree, peel a large sweet potato or two medium and cut into chunks. Cover with water in a saucepan and boil until very tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and measure out 1 ½ cups- if you have extra, set it aside for another use. Mash with a fork in a mixing bowl along with the butter to melt it into the potatoes.

Add the salt, pumpkin pie spice, and the sugars. Beat for several minutes until lightened and fluffy. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla, beating until well combined. Ad the flour and stir it in. When nearly mixed, add the chips and stir until incorporated.

Using a small cookie scoop, place the cookies evenly spaced apart on prepared cookie sheet and press down with fingers to flatten slightly. Bake for 8 minutes, or until they are starting to puff but still look ever so slightly underdone. Allow to cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely-they will be very soft. Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the solids separate and turn a deep brown and the butter turns golden. Stir in the sugar and vanilla until as mixed as you can get it, smashing out lumps, then add cream a teaspoon at a time until you get your desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies or put in a Ziploc bag, snip the corner, and squeeze over the cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Recipe source: Famished Fish, Finicky Shark

Be sure to check out the other Cookie Carnival cookies for some Christmas baking inspirations – just click the linky frog below!

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