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Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole: A Thanksgiving Staple

Pretty much anyone you talk to will tell you what their non-negotiable Thanksgiving dish is.  For some it’s pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes.  For me it’s Stovetop stuffing (original recipe).

And for my mom it’s this sweet potato pudding.

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole, her must-have for Thanksgiving. None of that marshmallow nonsense here.

And I have to admit, it’s pretty doggone good.  None of those nasty marshmallows here.  No, sir.  This is creamy and warm but not too sweet—the only really sweet part is the topping, which has a great crunch to it.  It’s really easy to put together and is always a crowd pleaser. [Read more…]

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Birthday Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Every year (minus last year), I make myself a special birthday cake.  I try to pick something that’s really captured my imagination, that seems a bit fancy and more complex than I’d usually convince myself to tackle.  Something special.

This year, for reasons I can’t even quite explain to myself, I made a vanilla spice Coca-Cola cake with salted peanut frosting.

Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Frosting

Yes, you read that right.

It’s kind of conceptual…while I’m not a fan myself, boiled peanuts in Coke is considered a Southern delicacy.  Consider this the deconstructed cake version.  But without the weird texture issues.

vanilla-spice-coke-cake-with-salted-peanut-frosting-sliced

It was really a gameday decision.  I’d pored over my whole Pinterest dessert board and nothing was really jumping out at me.  But then I finally got it into my head that this vanilla spice Coke cake was going to be my base.  I’ve never had a traditional Coca-Cola cake, but my understanding is that it’s almost always chocolate.  When I ran across this recipe from Local Milk, I was intrigued…the way the flavor profile was described so beautifully, and as an interesting transition into fall,I decided it had to happen.

vanilla-spice-coke-cake-with-salted-peanut-frosting

But the frosting that went along with it was just way too finicky for my exhausted and busy self to deal with.  I looked at tons of different recipes but nothing really felt right, until I saw this salted peanut frosting.  Since I love all things peanut butter, I was on board right away, and I thought that it would be a fun complement to the cake.  While this was a bit overly sweet for my tastes (or maybe that was because I also ate a gallon of queso, so I felt a bit ill), the flavor was bomb and the cake was insanely moist.

I’ll definitely be revisiting this recipe down the road, and not just for a special occasion—the cake base itself (minus frosting the layers) was super easy and fast.  As you can tell, frosting cakes is not my particular skill set.

So happy birthday to me, and cut yourself a huge slice of cake and pour a Coke! [Read more…]

Apricot Linzer Torte

I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. And BOY, was I wrong about this.

Apricot Linzer Torte

See, for the past two or three years, basically every time I’ve gotten with my friend Shalya for dinner, the conversation has eventually turned to food (okay, fine, it’s on food 92.5% of the time), and every single time she’s begged me to make a linzer torte.

Apricot Linzer Torte slice

Every single time.  And I always told her she was a weirdo, because who is obsessed with linzer torte, but fine, yes, I’ll make a linzer torte if she comes to my house.  But that day finally came.  And it was glorious.

Apricot Linzer Torte closeup

See, in my (limited) experience, linzer torte is basically just a simple buttery pastry crust with some jam in it, and a lattice topping.  Something that’s fine adorning a bakery case somewhere, but not something that anyone ever really chooses.  Fine, and sturdy, but not setting the world on fire.  Which just goes to show, I have been eating the WRONG LINZER TORTE all my life.

Apricot Linzer Torte slice closeup

This linzer torte recipe is anything but “fine”.  The dough basically punches you in the face with a combination of spices so aromatic my house smelled like heaven.  Pair that moist, tender spiced crust up with slightly chunky apricot jam, and you have a simple and perfect match made in heaven. [Read more…]

Jam Streusel Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is like the Sound of Music in real life.  It’s all about my favorite things.

Jam Streusel Coffee Cake slice

Jam?  Check.  Streusel?  Check.  Excuse to eat dessert for breakfast?  Check.

jam streusel coffee cake jam swirls 2

Coffee cake is kind of a perfect food.  It is easy to whip up and throw in the oven, leaving you to focus on other things.  It can be made the night before if you’re on a tight schedule in the morning.  It’s fancy enough for a brunch or shower.  It CAN even be a dessert.  And this recipe is particularly great, in that the cake itself is lovely and light and moist and fluffy—helped along by the buttermilk, greek yogurt, and extra egg yolks. [Read more…]

Levain Bakery Copycat Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Yeah, that’s a mouthful.  But these cookies deserve all of that name and more.  They probably are the best cookies I’ve had in my life.

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

So, this all goes back to December, when some sales rep sent us a box of cookies from Levain Bakery in New York.  These cookies weighed like 5 pounds each and were the size of your fist.  Now honestly I’m rarely that tempted by store-bought or bakery cookies.  I’m a homemade girl all the way.  But I was stressed and there were these chocolate ones with peanut butter chips that were calling my name.

So I broke off a piece of one and took it into a meeting with me…

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Game over.  I became instantly obsessed (and I ate the rest of that cookie, duh).  We decided to order more and then found out it was $75 for four cookies, which…NO.  So I decided that, hell or high water, I was going to perfectly replicate these cookies.

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

And I believe I’ve gotten like 99% of the way there.  I tried a couple different copycat recipes and this was definitely the closest.  I also read through a lot of the comments and suggestions and found a couple that make a big difference, so I’ve incorporated them into my recipe below.  One other thing I’ve found is that I actually like them better the next day, vs. fresh.  The texture sets and they become moist and amazing and dense, and a little less rich than fresh out of the oven.

Fair warning, each cookie is like 550-600 calories.  But it’s definitely worth it on occasion.  Trust me and make these NOW.   [Read more…]

Banana Cake with Caramel Frosting

It’s kind of crazy that I’ve never made banana cake before, because it’s something that my extended family made quite a bit when I was growing up.

Banana Cake with Caramel Frosting slice

But it was always with cream cheese frosting, and then a few years ago my sister had a brainwave and threw this caramel frosting on instead.  And a legend was born. (I may be being melodramatic)

banana cake with caramel frosting sugar butter beat

Now don’t get me wrong, I really like banana cake with cream cheese frosting (pretty much anything with cream cheese frosting, for that matter).  But there is something about this sugary, crackly caramel frosting that just adds the perfect depth and complement to the moist, dense cake.  The fact that it’s crazy easy is just the icing on the cake…so to speak.

Banana Cake with Caramel Frosting slice2

This is also a cake that is perfect to make the night before, because this frosting really seals in the moisture of the cake.  And, of course, use up the billions of browning bananas sitting on your counter.

I haven’t eaten a banana in probably six months, but I still buy them like clockwork, with the best intentions.  This is a thing everyone does, yes?

Humor me… [Read more…]

Chicken with Creamy Feta Sauce

I just realized that it’s been MONTHS since I brought you a main dish recipe, which is crazy!  So making up for that now with an insanely easy and super delish entree that is great for dinner as well as to pack in your lunch for work all week.

Chicken with Creamy Feta Sauce

(Confession: I made this recipe Sunday evening so I could have awesome, healthy lunches all week long.  And then I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner that night, because I was going to be healthy all week.  Does anyone else do that?)

chicken with creamy feta sauce chives chopped

Don’t be scared by the idea of a feta cheese sauce—it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of feta specifically, but rather contributes a super creamy, slightly salty, weirdly comforting flavor without owning it.  I’m not the biggest fan of feta, but I am a BIG fan of this sauce. [Read more…]

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

There is no such thing as having too many coffee cake recipes.  That’s like having too much cheese, or too many raw sugar packets, or too many pairs of shoes.

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake

Honestly, I have one coffee cake recipe (a cinnamon-streusel one) that is the best in the world, and my go-to under any and all circumstances.  And I’m just now realizing that I’ve never posted it.  So…that will need remedied.  But in the meantime, this one—if you like the combo of espresso and chocolate—is definitely a keeper.

Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake slice

The sour cream gives this a lovely moistness and a dense but somehow light crumb.  Everyone at work totally raved about the taste and the texture, so you could probably switch up the toppings if the chocolate/espresso flavor combo isn’t for you.

espresso chocolate coffee cake ready to bake closeup

The original recipe (link at the bottom) calls for you to split the topping and batter, and have a layer of topping in the middle.  Since I was using a big springform pan I definitely didn’t have enough batter or topping to make this work, but if you go the bundt or tube pan route, you may want to give this a try.  Either way, the melted chocolate, deep espresso notes, and little spikes of cinnamon make this worth getting up in the morning. [Read more…]

Drunken Cheesy Bread

Question:  what should one serve at a girls’ night with wine, tiramisu, and Magic Mike XXL??

Drunken Cheesy Bread

Answer:  drunken cheesy bread.  If you answered anything else, you’re wrong.

Drunken Cheesy Bread closeup

This recipe has been burning a hole in my Pinterest board, but I felt like I couldn’t justify making it for just myself on a random Sunday night.  So when my friend Casey came over for a long-overdue girls’ night, I knew what was on the menu.

drunken cheesy bread gruyere closeup

In addition to be delicious and decadent-feeling, it’s also deceptively-simple and easy to prepare.  It literally took five minutes to put together (and that was just how long it took to grate the gruyere), then we popped it in the oven, drank some wine, and 20 minutes later a bubbly, cheesy delight popped back out.  The flavors together are AMAZING, and the wine soaks into the bread and creates a silky, almost custard-like texture. [Read more…]

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt

In general, puppy chow is at the top of the list of “foods I’m never, ever allowed to have in my house”.  Because I will eat it ALL—I love it.  But I think this specific recipe may literally be my favorite food in the world.  It is that good.  Life-changing, even.

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt

When I first saw this recipe on Food 52, I was obsessed, and couldn’t wait to try it out. The dark chocolate twist was right up my alley (I’m definitely dark vs. milk), and I knew the sea salt would add a perfect balance to what can sometimes be an overly sweet snack. I also made a few changes based on my own preferences…I decreased the amount of powdered sugar and increased the peanut butter (and the chocolate chips, a little) to tailor it to my exact tastes.

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt done

And I done good. Now *this* is what I call a Sunday night…

Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt finished

I took this into work (okay fine, what I hadn’t already eaten the night before) and we devoured it in no time flat.  [Read more…]

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