The boys are back in town … or, in our case, the girls.
For six years, my husband has been a dorm parent in a boys’ dorm at the private high school where he teaches and we live. We were in one dorm for a year; and then, when we moved into our last apartment, another dorm for five. I LOVED those boys – and still do, of course. We knew at the end of last year with us moving it was likely my husband would be assigned to a different dorm. And he was. A girls’ dorm.
Most of my part in dorm parenting has been baking for the boys. It brings me a lot of joy, and I think it helps them feel a little more like school is home. I was a little hesitant about the girls’ dorm, wondering if they would eat like the boys do. I have been assured from every side that yes, they do.
So now I have 40 high-school daughters. And they wiped this platter clean the other night. Mr. V said one even said she doesn’t usually love chocolate, but she really liked this cake!
We’re living in a house now, so we’re not in the dorm with the kids, which is kind of weird after six years of being in one. But we’re still on campus and eating in the dining hall and trying to love these kids like our own. So I’ll still be baking up a storm!
Slightly adapted from Barbara Bakes. I love bundt cakes because they are so easy to serve and don't require as much frosting (I am not huge on frosting), but you could also bake this as a 9x13 or a layer cake, adjusting the time.
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
5 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup water
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 T honey or corn syrup
3 T heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray with flour and set aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together butter (cut into slices), cocoa powder, salt, and water. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Add the remaining butter mixture and stir until uniform. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until uniform.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack or platter to cool completely.
Put chocolate chips into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Add honey or corn syrup and heavy cream on top. Microwave 30 second on high power, then stir together until the chocolate is smooth. If it will not all melt, give it another 15 seconds or so. (Do NOT add more heavy cream once the chocolate is hot; it will make it seize up.) Drizzle or spoon over top of the cake and let set.
My blogger this month was Nicole, who blogs at I Am a Honey Bee. She is a lifestyle blogger who shares lots of recipes, for delicious things I want to make like Homemade Cheez-Its, Coca-Cola Carnitas, and Crockpot Cool Ranch Chicken. She is married and has a young daughter named Autumn, and they recently moved to Florida. I looooove all her Mexican-inspired recipes, and I will definitely be trying out some this summer (when I have to cook. About three weeks, people!).
For now, though, I decided to make this snack mix with half a jar of cookie butter I’ve had sitting around awhile. What’s up with that? I think I had hid it from myself because I kept eating apples with about half a cup of cookie butter for dipping … So I unearthed it from the cupboard and used the recipe to make this delicious snack! (Cookie butter is also called Biscoff, from the kind of cookies used to make it.)
Confession: I went to a discount store to shop, because it was near where I was the other day. And they didn’t have any kind of Chex, so I used plain Cheerios. I think the Chex shape soaks up the coating a little better, but any unsweetened cereal should work if you’re in a pinch!
I got an ice cream maker for Christmas this year. It’s the attachment for my KitchenAid, so I love that it’s not really a whole other appliance to store. I just throw the bowl in my chest freezer to keep it cold, and the couple other pieces up with the rest of my KA stuff.
But I had only made ice cream once! What is my problem? And that time it was a simple coconut milk ice cream for when we had David off dairy. That one turned out hard as a rock in the freezer, although the kids still loved it! But I was unsure of how to proceed with a more “normal” ice cream.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel big strips of zest from two lemons; set aside. Juice the lemons to get 1/2 cup of juice. Place juice and 2 T sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour into a measuring cup and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Ice Cream Base
To prepare, measure out the two cups of milk. Then, measure cornstarch into a small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of the milk and whisk to make a slurry. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk salt into cream cheese and set aside. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and the zest from the lemons. Bring to a bubble and let boil 4 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed. Remove from heat; add cornstarch slurry to the pot and whisk. Return to heat and let cook until it thickens somewhat, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat; whisk in cream cheese mixture. Pour ice cream base into a gallon-size freezer bag and seal; then place the bag in the ice water, submerging. Let sit for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is cool.
To make the ice cream
Set up your maker per instructions. Remove zest strips from the ice cream base, then add base to the maker. Start it up, then drizzle in the lemon syrup. Let churn until ice cream is the consistency of soft serve. Remove to a container with an airtight lid, pressing parchment paper onto the top of the ice cream before sealing with lid. Freeze for 2-4 hours before eating.
Do you ever eat cookies for breakfast? We sure do. One of my kids’ favorite breakfasts is Giant Breakfast Cookies. (They also love having Popsicles for breakfast.) I am all about making their food fun so that they are more likely to eat healthier things. And since these cookies are probably way healthier than any muffin I make, I say go forth and make cookies for breakfast!
I also eyed the Irish Soda Bread (which I love, but the one I made most recently flopped in a big way) and Lemon Garlic Hummus; but in the end I was searching while I had sick kids at home and couldn’t go to the store, so I had everything on hand for the peanut butter cookies. Plus, cookies.
That said – for some wacky reason I didn’t have any whole wheat flour, which I ALWAYS have. So I did use white flour in mine, but I mixed in some oat flour to give it a little more healthfulness. I would definitely use white whole wheat flour if I had it on hand.
1 1/4 c. flour, preferably whole wheat (or a combo of all-purpose and oat flour)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Move mixture to a large bowl.
Your mixture should only be warm, not hot; if it's too warm, wait for a bit to make sure the eggs don't cook in it. Once it's just slightly warm, add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and baking powder) into the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Form dough into golf-ball sized balls and place on sheet, then press down slightly. (You can criss-cross with a fork for a traditional peanut butter cookie look, if you like. I didn't.) Bake for 7-8 minutes. They won't look done, but take them out anyway. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Best served warm!
For these to be truly low in sugar, use a natural peanut butter that is just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Even "natural" peanut butters usually have sugar and oils in them. I like Smuckers brand.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: my kids will eat basically anything if I puree it and put it in popsicle form.
Spinach? Yep. Mango? Uh huh. Flax seed, chia seed, coconut oil, coconut milk, carrots – basically anything healthy that they normally won’t touch, they will eat in frozen form!
I finely shredded a beet for Sweet Beet Cookies and had a little bit leftover. I decided to dump it in my Vitamix and add frozen strawberries for a fun, richly red freezer pop. Seriously, the beet gives these a really gorgeous color and an added punch of folate, vitamin C, and potassium, among other nutrients.
I used homemade almond milk in these because we have David off dairy at the moment, but you could definitely use any kind of milk or yogurt you want. Enjoy!
Ruby-red popsicles with boosts of nutrition from some shredded beet and chia seed.
2 c. frozen strawberries
1/4 c. shredded raw red beet
1 1/2 c. almond milk or other milk
1 tsp. chia seed (optional)
1/2 a ripe banana
water as needed
Add all ingredients except water to a high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth, adding water if needed for it to blend smoothly. Serve as is or freeze in popsicle molds.
If you make this with fresh strawberries and want to serve as a smoothie, you will need to add ice for the proper frozen texture. If you are making it into popsicles, it doesn't matter if it's more liquidy than icy.
I grew up using the 70s version of the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook quite a bit. We didn’t have a lot of cookbooks, other than some church collaborations. In fact, my mom doesn’t even usually cook from recipes. But she got that big red binder for her wedding, I think, and when it was time to bake sugar cookies to decorate, she always opened it up.
Once I got married, I had my own Big Red Cookbook, but it was the newer, 2001 version. All I could remember was that my mom’s sugar cookie recipe came from the big binder and had cream of tartar in it, but none of the recipes in there seemed to match. A few years into our marriage, we found the same version of Big Red that my mom had in a used bookstore and grabbed it up. Still, the sugar cookie recipe didn’t call for cream of tartar. I was so confused.
Then – aha! There are TWO sugar cookie recipes in the older cookbook. Mom’s recipe is the Deluxe Sugar Cookies. I don’t know what makes them deluxe, but to me no other sugar cookie tastes just right. These are soft but the bottoms are sturdy; the taste has that almost tart flavor of a snickerdoodle due to the cream of tartar.
I was so glad to find this recipe again. I am no great decorator of cookies, but I took a cue from Betty there, too: she suggests letting an Andes mint melt on the top of a hot cookie and then spreading it around the top for “frosting.” Bingo! They don’t look awesome, but they taste delicious. And thanks to it being 2015 instead of 1976, we have Andes creme de menthe chips to make this even easier.
So just in case you don’t have your own classic cookie recipe for the season, this one makes a perfect cookie for decorating and snacking, with or without frosting.
Yield: 40-60 cookies, depending on size of cutters
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
With a mixer, cream together powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, and egg until uniform. Stir in flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar until you have a smooth dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Let dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then roll out on a clean, floured surface to about 1/2 an inch. (Thin, but not too thin.) Cut out with cookie cutters and transfer to lined cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool before decorating.