Monday, August 25, 2014

Strawberry Pudding Pops

This is the story of the time I bought strawberries.  Forgetting I bought those strawberries led me to buy more strawberries the next Costco.  Soooooo, I had some berries on my hands.  We're still having long warm days here, so my mind is on frozen treats.
Do you remember how awesome Jell-O Pudding Pops were?  I will not even try and fool you into believing these are as tasty as the treats Bill Cosby so wonderfully endorsed.  You would never believe me if I tried.  I gotta say though, the fresh strawberries are very tasty as an add in.
These pudding pops couldn't be any easier to make.  Mix up ingredients, freeze, enjoy.  Loved by adults and the toddler set.  I'm now thinking I need to make strawberry daiquiris and margaritas (not for toddlers, but because of toddlers)
Strawberry Pudding Pops
1 small box instant vanilla pudding 
1 and 3/4 cups milk
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 Tablespoon sugar
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. 
I can't think of an easier way to use up the remainder of those summer berries. Except maybe those cocktails....

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No bake peanut butter bars

Finally! We've had temperatures in the 70s and I could not be more happy!  I am completely adapted to typical Seattle weather.  I grew up in a very hot climate, but everyone had air conditioning, and lots of people have swimming pools.  When you don't have all these wonderful things to help you beat the heat, you start to get a little cranky.  However, I have a cure for this bake peanut butter bars!  No need to turn on your oven and only 6 ingredients separate you from this tasty treat.   
These bars taste very similar to Reese's peanut butter cups. Who doesn't love a Reese's peanut butter cup? Did I tell you about the blizzard I recently had? Reese's peanut butter cup pie! Um, yeah...awesome.  Peanut butter cups, pie crust, peanut butter chunks.  I typically get a mini size, but this time I went for small (wanted a large) and didn't have a single ounce of guilt about it.  I hope you have a DQ near you because this blizzard is worth every last bite. If you don't immediately have access to a DQ, make these bars.  I can't decide if I prefer them at room temperature, or right from the fridge.  I may need to make another batch for more research.  
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter + 4 Tablespoons reserved
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
In a medium bowl combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, 1 cup peanut butter.  Once combined, press into 9x13 pan.
Using your microwave, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter, stirring at 30 second intervals.  Spread over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to cutting.  
*I kept the pan in the fridge because of the warm temperatures.
*I think you could easily cut this in half and use a 9x9 pan, but I don't know why you would want to.
I hope you're making these right now....or eating that blizzard.
Here's another great no bake cookie recipe.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monkey Cupcakes, Banana with Peanut Butter Frosting

This summer we have been to approximately 534 birthday parties.  I tell everyone that my 2-year-old daughter has more friends, and gets invited to more parties than I do.  I'm not really complaining though.  All of these parties have a few major components in common.  My favorite? Cake.  Lots of parents are polite/concerned about their children's sugar intake and share with their kiddo.  Not me. We'll be taking two cupcakes please.  
I made these extra special cupcakes for one of Peyton's little buddies. He is a special friend who we've known since he was a newborn.  His birthday was a few weeks ago and we were finally able to get together and celebrate.  Things have been busy for him: he turned two and became a big brother all in a matter of 24 hours.  Lots of adjustments, but everyone deserves some cake and friends on their birthday.  When his mom told me she was doing a Curious George theme I knew I had to create a monkey cupcake.  
I did a simple banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting.  The "face" is made up of vanilla wafers and Betty Crocker decorating gel in black and red.   I'm only sorry that I did not take proper "blog photos."  They were so fun and tasty that I just had to share.
Monkey Cupcakes, Banana with Peanut butter frosting
Banana cupcakes
adapted from my banana cupcakes, makes 24
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with papers.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
With a hand or stand mixer beat the sugars and eggs until pale and fluffy. Beat in buttermilk.  Gradually beat in oil.  Add bananas, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.
Peanut butter frosting
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 Tablespoons softened butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
Combine all ingredients except for heavy cream, scraping bowl as needed. Once combined add heavy cream and beat on high until smooth and creamy.
Cupcake assembly
For monkey faces you will need regular and mini sized Nilla wafers
Frost cupcakes in a smooth layer.  Place large vanilla wafer at the bottom middle of the cake.  Place two small wafers on either side of the cake.  You may have to use some pressure to get the "ears" to stay in; the frosting will help them adhere.  Create eyes and nose with black decorating gel and a smile with the red gel.
These cupcakes were a huge hit with the toddlers.  They honestly took no time to put together. A simple way to add some fun to any party.
Oh yeah, I completely recommend dipping some vanilla wafers in the peanut butter frosting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Red, White, and Blue popsicles

Summer has hit a big way.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy nice sunny days. However, I really wish I had a pool and air conditioning, and a cocktail.  However, I only have a kiddie pool and these popsicles.  Alright....I had a cocktail.
These popsicles are simple layers of fruit and Greek yogurt.  I shared them with our neighborhood friends in an effort to keep the kids cool and occupied. You can make them just in time for your July 4th weekend.  I picked up some popsicle molds at Target, but you can easily use Dixie cups and wooden popsicle sticks.  Pureed strawberries, blueberries, and vanilla Greek yogurt will give you that patriotic look.
The fun thing about these popsicles is that they are so forgiving.  You can just layer in the flavors and they're bound to turn out great.  I'll give you the basic guidelines for how I made these, but you can really do whatever you like!
Red, white, and blue popsicles
2 cups strawberries
2 cups blueberries
1 and 1/2 cups Greek vanilla yogurt
Puree strawberries and layer in molds.  Allow to freeze for about 30 minutes.  Spoon yogurt on top of strawberry layer (about two tablespoons), insert popsicle stick and allow to freeze. Finally puree blueberries and fill popsicle molds.  Freeze until set, 24 hours is best. 
Nothing beats a cool popsicle on a hot day. I can't wait to try different flavor combinations.  Toddler approved!
On a completely separate note, I have to update you all on some blog stuff.  I inadvertently failed to renew my domain name.  In the midst of trying to alleviate this problem, someone snatched it up!  Who knew yumsandloves was so desirable?!?  It's been a very frustrating process for me.  I have put a lot of time and effort into this blog and it seems like someone is trying to take advantage of that.  For now I have moved my blog back to Please use this if you are trying to access old recipes and posts.  Looks as though all of you who are email subscribers should still be good to go. If you haven't signed up for emails, do it! Then you'll never miss out. Thanks for sticking around, and don't be a procrastinator like me!!  Okay...back to popsicles!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rainbow Cupcakes's been a lllooonnnnggg time since I last posted!  If I still have any people out there reading, thank you!  I have just been so busy and the blog sort of fell by the way side. However, I am not here to bore you with how busy I am.  Over the next few posts I'll show you some things that I've been up to.  One of the major things that happened in our house was that a special little someone turned 2!  Wow!  Can't wait to show you guys a few highlights, but I'll start with the most important...dessert!
My original plan was to make one big rainbow layer cake.  After some thinking, I decided to go with cupcakes.  Cupcakes are just so easy for serving, and for me they just signify party time! I still went with the rainbow layers and I think they turned out great.  Was this the easiest cupcake I ever made?  However, I think I learned a few things that will help if I make them again (not likely)!
I used this recipe for vanilla cupcakes and frosting.  However, I think these would turn out fantastic using a box mix.  I used the Wilton food coloring gels.  I think these work really well, and as you can tell the colors turn out so vibrant.  Just add a little at a time to get to the depth of color you like.  
I stuck with five colors and I think that is the most you can do in a cupcake.  Grab enough bowls for each color and a small dish of water (more about that later). I measured out slightly more than a cup of batter into each bowl and then added the gels.  I added about a teaspoon of batter to each cupcake liner.  To help you layer your batter, dip your finger in the dish of water and spread the batter out before adding the next color.  
Continue layering with the remaining colors.  
For some more great tips and a recipe using a box mix check out Our Best Bites.
I did invest a lot of time into these cupcakes, but I'm happy with how these turned out.  I learned a few things along the way:
you really don't need much more than a spoonful of each color. In a few cupcakes I used more than that and they turned out huge!  (I guess that's not a bad thing???)
The layers may not all be even and turn out smooth, but once baked, they look fine.  
Originally I started out with placing the red batter in the cupcake liners first.  Then I realized I wanted the red to be on top, so I had to reverse that. Perhaps that is an OCD thing I need to deal with, but I wanted my cupcakes to be in proper rainbow order!
I still hope to make that rainbow cake, but the cupcakes were Peyton approved!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twix Brownies

I haven't been baking much lately.  I wish I could say it was because I've been eating tons of, no.  Pretty sure you wouldn't believe me anyway.  No, I've just been busy, busy.  Busy with parties, kids, egg hunts, life, book reading, Scandal watching, oh....and eating Easter candy, lots and lots of Easter candy.
Brownies are perfect when you need a great baked treat.  These brownies only require one pot and some very simple ingredients.  I decided to take these brownies up just a notch.  I folded in some chopped up snack size Twix.  Also, some caramel bits, because I can.  Maybe I should have tossed in some Easter candy.  Oh yeah, I ate all of it.
Twix Brownies
makes one 8x8 pan
12 Tablespoons butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup flour
1 and 1/2 cups chopped Twix bars
1/2 cups caramel bits 
Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil, leaving a large overhang for removal.  Generously coat the foil with cooking spray.  
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter.  Remove from heat, whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Add the cocoa powder and flour, stir until just blended, careful not to overmix.  Fold in Twix and caramel bits.  Bake for 40 mins.  Brownies may appear underdone, but don't bake longer than 45 minutes.
I shared some, okay one, with Darling Husband and he didn't love the Twix.  I shared the rest with some friends and they loved the Twix.  I guess you better get in the kitchen and come to your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mini Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Cute, cute, cute! I just love mini things! Especially those that taste good. These cupcakes are a perfect little bite of vanilla.  I have had a real cupcake deficit in my home the past few months.  I used to make cupcakes regularly and take them to the office for co-workers birthdays.  Now that I have no office to go to, I don't regularly have an excuse to make cupcakes.  It's pretty sad really.
This craving for cupcakes just hit me.  I think I've mentioned that my favorite cupcake is vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.  Some may say that's boring, but I say it's a classic.  This recipe is anything but boring.  I got this recipe from Crazy for Crust, one of my daily reads, especially for sweet treats.  Everyone needs a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. This might just be your new favorite.
The original recipe makes about 12 standard sized cupcakes.  At the last minute I decided to make a mini version.  I rarely make mini cupcakes, but I think I'll be doing it more often.  It's a little dangerous though, mini cupcake are very easy to just pop right in your mouth. You don't think much about eating one, it's so tiny!  Might as well eat another, the first one didn't really count anyway.  Now I've lost count of how many I ate....oops.
Mini Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
For the cake:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup buttermilk *make your own by combining 3/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon white vinegar and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes
For the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1-2 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 and line mini cupcake tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, beat together melted butter and sugar, about 30 seconds, until thick and yellow
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in vanilla bean paste.
Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat until just combined, scraping the sides as needed, careful not to overmix.
I used a small cookie scoop to fill each mini muffin tin.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting: Again using your stand or hand mixer, beat butter for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is completely added. Beat in vanilla bean paste and one Tablespoon milk, add the other tablespoon if needed.
*I got about 40 mini cupcakes out of this recipe.  This made enough frosting for about 35 of them.  The cupcakes are plenty sweet and have enough vanilla flavor even without frosting..perfect for my little taste-tester.
My favorite way to eat these cupcakes; take off the bottom, place it on top of the frosting, and you have a perfect little cupcake sandwich. Repeat, repeat, repeat.