BundtBakers: Shirley Temple Cake


It's been a while since I've participated in #BundtBakers, but when I saw the theme for March was cherries, I knew I had to participate.

Tom loves cherries in baked goods, but for some reason doesn't like fresh or frozen cherries. Since he's the main person (aside from my coworkers) who eats the desserts I make, I wanted to find a cake that used either cherry filling or maraschino cherries instead so he'd like it.

I think nearly everyone as a kid ordered a Shirley Temple when out at a restaurant with their parents, right? While the adults were ordering cocktails, you ordered a Shirley Temple because it was a drink with a name, making it much more special than something like a soda, tea or lemonade. Or at least, that's how it went for me.

I found quite a few recipes for Shirley Temple cake but they all used boxed cake mix and I wanted to make the cake from scratch. Finally I found a recipe by Tastes of Lizzy T that didn't use a cake mix and decided to alter that one a bit.

Shirley Temple Cake
Adapted from: Tastes of Lizzy T
Servings:12-16 slices
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    • For the Cake:
    • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 ½ cups sugar
    • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce (or 5 eggs)
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 tsp lemon extract
    • ¾ cup 7 Up, Sprite or any lemon-lime soda
    • 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries without stems, juice drained and reserved
    • For the Glaze:
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon extract
    • 2-3 tbsp water (or milk)


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray or lightly butter and flour.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the applesauce and mix until combined. (If using eggs, add in one at a time until fully combined).
3. With the mixer running on low speed, add in the flour ½ cup at a time. When all of the flour is incorporated, add in the lemon extract and lemon-lime soda.
4. Fold ¾ of the cherries in by hand using a silicone spatula. Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan.
5. Bake for 1 ½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Let the cake cool in the bundt pan for 10 minutes, then poke holes into the cake with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Pour the reserved cherry juice over the cake, allowing it to soak in.
7. Invert the cake on a wire rack and let cool completely.
8. Line a baking sheet with foil.
9. When the cake has cooled completely, place the cake and wire rack on top of the prepared baking sheet and drizzle the glaze on top. Place remaining cherries on top.
10. Let rest for 10-20 minutes or until the glaze has hardened. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and cut into slices. 

This cake smells heavenly. I've mentioned how I rarely even eat the sweets that I make anymore, but I couldn't pass up trying a slice of this cake. It's sweet and fluffy and absolutely perfect. The taste of the soda doesn't come through, but the cherries are bursting with flavor and it's not hard to think of the Shirley Temple drink when having a slice of this cake. 

Since my vegan coworker has started eating the desserts I make, I try to replace dairy ingredients with other baking alternatives, such as the applesauce for eggs and the water for milk.

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Glazed Cherry Coconut Cake Sneha's Recipe
Bundt cake chocolate and cherries Merce`s Cake
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake The Queen of Scones
Lem on Cherry Babka A Day in the Life on the
Mary Berry Cherry Cake Palatable Pastime
Cherry-Port Swirled Bundt Cake with Almond Streusel All That's Left Are The Crumbs l
Cherry Brownie Bundtlets Food Lust People Love
Shirley Temple Bundt Cake Cookaholic Wife
Banana Split Bundt Cake Patty's Cake
Cherries zebra bundt cake Paty Co.Candy bar
Lemon Maraschino Buttermilk Bundt Cake Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice ...

#PiDay: Lemon Meringue Pie


It's Pi Day! But in the world of food bloggers, it's more like Pie Day! Whether you celebrate the day with 3.14 or a slice of tasty pie is up to you, but of course I had to make a recipe and share it with you for today.

I knew right away I wanted to make a lemon meringue pie. I can't believe I've been blogging for nearly a decade and have never made one before. I've made pie crust, lemon curd and meringue topping but never once have all of those things come together to make a pie, until today.

Coleen of  The Redheaded Baker is hosting this Pi(e) Day event! Scroll down to see what the other bloggers have made.

While I knew what I wanted to make, I kept putting off making it because the pie needs to be refrigerated and the eating plan I'm doing currently takes up 98% of the fridge, leaving a mere 2% for my husband. So this past weekend, I knew I was either making the pie or backing out of the event, regardless of available fridge space.

It started off really well. The crust baked perfectly, the curd was delicious and the meringue held up nicely. And then the oven took longer than anticipated to preheat so the cute little peaks the meringue once held began to melt. "Okay, I told myself, no big deal." After baking, cooling and refrigerating I went to take a picture and unfortunately found that somehow the middle of the meringue and lemon curd had turned into soup and had dissolved the crust. I'm not even sure there's baking science to explain that, but still. I was now without a pie.

Luckily I had extra curd leftover, but nothing else, so I decided I'd pop in the store and pick up some phyllo shells and make mini meringues. 

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 15 mini pies
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    • For the Lemon Curd:
    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • zest from 2 lemons
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 large egg
    • For the Meringue:
    • 2 egg whites
    • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 package mini phyllo cups


1. First prepare the lemon curd, by zesting both lemons. Squeeze the juice from them, adding in an additional lemon if necessary, until you reach ¼ cup.
2. In the bottom pot of a double boiler add ½ cup of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In the top pot, add the butter and sugar and stir until melted.
3. Reduce heat to medium low and add in the lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.
4. Removing the top pot from the heat, pour the egg in while whisking constantly. Return to the heat and increase back to medium. Stir every few minutes until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the mixture through, discarding any solids. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it against the top of the curd so a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
7. Prepare the meringue by adding the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer and beating on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Then pour in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time until fully combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.
8. Place the phyllo cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add a heaping tablespoon of the lemon curd into each phyllo cup and top with the meringue.
9. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the meringues are lightly browned.
10. Let cool completely and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Aren't these mini pies adorable? They're the perfect bite of sweet and tart and I had a hard time not eating them all myself! 

Pi Day Pie Recipes

#BakingBloggers: Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Calzones


The March theme for #BakingBloggers is calzones. I don't think I ever ate a calzone until I met Tom.

My mom never made them and if we ordered food out, it was either pizza or cheese steaks. Obviously, I've now had quite a few calzones over the past few years but when I saw this challenge I knew I wanted to make something different.

I saw a recipe using pretzel dough instead of pizza dough for the calzones and I had to look no further. I knew I'd stuff it with ham and cheddar cheese and serve it up with a honey mustard dipping sauce.

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Calzone
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings:8 calzones
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    • For the Pretzel Dough:
    • 1 ½ cups warm water ( 110-115 degrees)
    • 1 packet dry active yeast
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
    • 2 tbsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    • ¼ cup baking soda
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • For the Filling:
    • 1 lb. ham, chopped into pieces
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
2. Add the sugar, salt, flour and butter. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until a shaggy dough forms and the mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3. Grease a bowl and set aside. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes, then place in the prepared bowl and cover. Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
6. Loosely roll each piece into a ball and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
7. Roll out each piece of dough into a 8-10 inch circle. Divide the ham and cheese down the center of each and then fold the dough over to create a half circle. Crimp the edges with a fork to make sure they’re sealed.
8. Preheat the oven to 425. Bring a large pot of water to a low boil, then add in the baking soda.
9. Carefully lower calzone dough into the boiling water and cook for 15 seconds, then flip over and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, shaking off excess water.
10. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Lightly beat an egg and brush on top of each calzone. Sprinkle kosher salt on top.
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes before serving.

There's an Amish market up the street from our house and they sell all kinds of delicious things stuffed inside of pretzel logs. These calzones reminded me of them, except for the obvious shape difference.

You'll want to let them cool a little bit before eating them as the cheesy is quite melty and steaming hot inside. If you're entirely impatient like I am, slice them in half about a minute or two after them come out of the oven (while you're making the honey mustard) and by the time you sit down to eat them, they'll be cool enough.

If I could eat bread more often, I'd definitely keep these on a regular rotation, but for the time being they'll be a once in a while treat. 



#ImprovCookingChallenge: Lemongrass Mixed Berry Cobbler


It's #ImprovCookingChallenge time again! The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients.

If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page. If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.

The ingredients for March are blueberries and lemongrass and I'll be the first to admit that I was stumped. I've never really cooked or baked with lemongrass before, but I did know that you could buy it in paste form made by Gourmet Gardens. I ordered one of those right away and decided I would figure out the rest later.

Finally the idea of a cobbler came to me. I wanted something easy I could whip up after work (seeing as this recipe got made only a few days ago) and something that would still be on the healthier side but felt like a dessert.

Lemongrass Mixed Berry Cobbler
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
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    • 2 ¼ cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
    • 1 lemon
    • 2 tbsp lemongrass paste
    • 4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup old fashioned oats
    • ⅓ cup oat flour
    • ½ tbsp stevia
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place 4 ramekins on top.
2. Add the mixed berries to a medium bowl. Add in lemongrass, zest from the lemon and juice from the lemon. Stir to combine. Divide mixture between the ramekins.
3. In another bowl, add the softened butter, old fashioned oats, oat flour, stevia, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until combined.
4. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the crumble mixture on top of the fruit, covering it.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fruit is softened and crumble is golden brown. 

Note: oat flour can be replaced for all purpose, wheat, or almond flour. Stevia can be replaced with sugar or other sugar substitutes. 

This cobbler is exactly what I wanted it to be! Light, fruity, fresh and sweet. Really, how could you go wrong with that combination? The lemongrass flavor is mild with the berries and the crisp topping has the perfect amount of crunch. 

#FestiveFoodies: Irish Pub Salad


So I have a confession to make. It's 2:30 am, less than four hours before this post goes live, and I'm just now typing it up.

I decided on this recipe three weeks ago and intended to make it that weekend until I realized that I needed more than a few hours for the green beans to pickle. I put it off until the next weekend and it simply didn't get made with everything else going on, which was the same story for last weekend.

But I didn't forget about it, I had notes on my computer, phone and in my journal that this needed to be made. And somehow despite all of that, I completely forgot. A few hours ago, I went to bed. And then around 2 this morning, I woke up with a start remembering that this salad was still nothing more than a mere idea.

To be honest, I debated on going back to bed and making the salad in the morning, like any reasonable person, but I work an earlier shift on Friday's and rarely get up early enough to have extra time to pull this off. Then the wind howled and my decision was made. We're currently experiencing a Nor'Easter with up to 70 mph wind gusts so there was no guarantee I'd even have power or internet to make this tomorrow.

So I carefully climbed over the cat and tiptoed downstairs to get this recipe made. While my pictures are never amazing to begin with, I will apologize for these as they were hastily snapped and edited.

At least I already had the hard boiled eggs and green beans pickled right? :)

Irish Pub Salad
Source: Reluctant Entertainer
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    • For the Pickled Green Beans:
    • 1 cup fresh green beans, ends chopped
    • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tsp sugar or ½ packet stevia
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • sprigs of fresh dill
    • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
    • thin slices of onion
    • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • For the Salad:
    • 2 cups torn lettuce (or spinach) leaves
    • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
    • ½ cup cucumber, thinly sliced
    • 2 hard boiled eggs, halved
    • ½ cup pickled green beans
    • salad dressing of your choice

1. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it cool.
2. Measure green beans to the length that will fit into a 16 oz. mason jar. Trim ends if needed.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. When the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook for 1 minute before transferring them directly to the ice bath to stop the cooling process. Drain and set aside.
4. Add the peppercorns, crushed red pepper, dill and onion slice to the mason jar. Place the green beans on top and pour in the brining liquid, leaving ¼ inch of space. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days to allow the flavors to develop.
5. Prepare the salad by adding the lettuce to a bowl. Top with the tomatoes, cucumber, hard boiled eggs, pickled green beans, and slices of Irish cheddar cheese. Drizzle salad dressing on top. 

*Note: I make hard boiled eggs using my Instant Pot. I place the eggs on the trivet with 1 cup water and cook them for 5 minutes, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick release for the remaining pressure and put the eggs in an ice bath until they are cool enough to peel. 

I'll admit, eating a salad in the middle of the night wasn't exactly appealing, but I couldn't share a recipe with you without tasting it. For the sake of time, I used bottled ranch dressing and thought it was perfect. I loved the vinegary pickles mixed in with the fresh vegetables. The cheese and eggs were a nice addition to make this a heartier meal. 

I can't wait to make this salad again and eat it during normal food consumption hours. In the hour its taken me to create and write this post, the wind has kicked up something fierce and I saw a trash can lid go rolling down the street. My fingers were flying over the keyboard to get this finished! 

Now I'm going to drag my weary butt back to bed and hope for a massive bucket of coffee tomorrow, but since you'll be reading this during normal waking hours, you should also check out what the other Festive Foodies have made for St. Patrick's Day! Also, since I'm way too tired to proofread, let's hope this recipe and post make sense, and please, let me know if it doesn't!

Bailey's Irish Cream Mini Cheesecake Bites from Daily Dish Recipes Beef and Guinness Pie from Everyday Eileen Chocolate Guinness Cake from Cindy's Recipes and Writing Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles from The Freshman Cook Celtic Knot Rolls from Cooking With Carlee Colcannon from A Day in the Life on the Farm Colcannon with Kale from Simple and Savory Corned Beef and Cabbage from Tip Garden Corned Beef Sliders with Horseradish Sauce from New South Charm Double Chocolate Fudge for St. Patrick's Day from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Fisherman's Pie from Karen's Kitchen Stories Instant Pot and Slow Cooker Dublin Coddle from All That's Jas Irish Cheddar & Dried Cherry Soda Bread from Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Irish Nachos from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures Irish Potato Leek Soup from House of Nash Eats Irish Pub Salad from Cookaholic Wife Irish Soda Bread Muffins from Jolene's Recipe Journal Irish Soda Bread Scones from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen Leprechaun Bait from Palatable Pastime Pretzel Shamrocks from Family Around the Table St. Patrick's Day Lucky Chow from Soulfully Made

Traditional King Cake


Talk about sneaking this recipe in just under the deadline. My Instagram has been full of recipes for King Cake for weeks now but I just haven't had time to make one and share it with you. The first time I made a king cake was a few years ago when I decided to host a Mardi Gras themed party.

After visiting New Orleans last year and loving every second of it, I knew I needed to get this cake made and shared with you so you could love it as much as I do.

King Cake came to New Orleans by way of the French in the late 1800's. It is shaped like a crown and decorated in three royal colors; green for faith, gold for power and violet for justice.

It's called king cake to honor the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. A coin or a plastic baby is hidden within the cake before it served (but not before it is baked!) and believed that the person who finds the token will have good luck for a year.

King cake is a yeasted cake which scares off quite a few bakers, but as long as you have active yeast and some patience, you will have no trouble whipping together this festive cake.

Traditional King Cake
Source: Love Bakes Good Cakes
Servings: 12
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    • For the Cake:
    • 2 packages active dry yeast
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) water
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • For the Filling:
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • For the Glaze:
    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
    • 2-3 tbsp water
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • green, yellow and purple colored sugars

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the beater blade attached, pour in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast packets on top.
2. Add the unsalted butter, milk and sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
3. Add 2 cups of the flour, egg yolks, salt, lemon zest and nutmeg and mix until it comes together. Add in the remaining 2 cups of flour. Switch to the dough hook and process on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a large, greased bowl, turning over the dough once to coat, then cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm location until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Combine the filling of cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the dough leaving a ½ inch border.
6. Starting with the long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll or cinnamon roll style and pinch the ends to seal the seam. Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, forming the dough into a ring.
7. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 and brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
9. Place the wire rack over a lined baking sheet for easier clean up. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and the lemon juice to create the glaze. Add more water until it reaches a consistency where it can be drizzled over the cake.
10. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and then sprinkle sections of each color of sugar over the cake to created colored “wedges”. 

Isn't it gorgeous? The cake is very similar to a cinnamon roll covered in sweet glaze. I used green, yellow and purple sanding sugar which was a tasty little crunch against the super soft cake. 

If you make this and want to insert a coin or plastic baby, you'll need to allow the cake to cool completely after coming out of the oven, then flip it over and insert the token. Add glaze and sugar then see which one of your lucky taste testers gets good luck for a year!

#BakingBloggers: Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars


It's time for #BakingBloggers again! The theme that was most voted for was cheesecake!

I am terrible at making and photographing an entire cheesecake. I don't know why, but every time I try it, it ends up even more amateur than my regular photographs. So I made cheesecake bars partially to avoid that, but also because it's easier to take bite-sized foods into work for my coworkers.

I think I've mentioned before that I rarely eat or even try the baked goods that I make. But these were just too pretty and tasty looking to pass up, so that should tell you something!

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife
Servings:16 bars
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    • For the Crust:
    • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    • For the Filling:
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • For the Topping:
    • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ¾ cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together until the texture becomes like wet sand.
3. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and use a silicone spatula to press the crumbs down into a flat, even layer. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling by adding the cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
5. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the baked crust.
6. In the bowl of a mixer, add butter, brown sugar and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, flour and salt and mix until combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
7. Drop rounded spoonfuls of the cookie dough mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Allow to cool on the counter to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.
10. Remove from the refrigerator, slice into 16 squares and serve. Keep refrigerated if not serving immediately. Cheesecake bars will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Sometimes it's hard to get a graham cracker crust to hold, but this one held up perfectly even when sliced into bars. The cheesecake is light and sweet and the cookie dough provides just the right amount of crunch from the mini chocolate chips. I definitely want to make these again!

Baking Bloggers


#FoodBloggerLove: Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins


Food Blogger Love is back! The event is hosted by Allison of The Pintertest Kitchen  and was created as a way for bloggers to show love to other bloggers. The event is a little different this year as us bloggers had the choice to either make a Valentine's Day related recipe or request to be assigned another person's blog and make a recipe from their blog, in their style of cooking, or made with their favorite food.

I chose to be assigned to a blogger and received Sarah of The Pajama Chef. Like me, Sarah blogs for fun and likes simple but delicious recipes. She's a wife, mom and fur-mom to her 3 kitties. She likes running, caramel lattes and staying in pajamas, hence the name of her blog. Her recipes balance between healthy and indulgent but absolutely won't leave you wandering the aisles of the grocery store for some hard to find ingredient that you'll use only a teaspoon of.

We've participated in a few events together, but I'm not sure that I've checked out her blog recently.

Right now Sarah is doing a really cool feature where she interviews other bloggers to see how they eat, asking questions like how many meals they make at home, who they're cooking for, how they meal plan, and what their best tips are for meal planning. I think this is SO COOL!

Let's face it, meal planning is hard, even if you're a food blogger. There needs to be some creativity, ingredients that your whole family will eat, recipes that don't take hours and hours of prep and things that actually look appealing.

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down in front of the computer, Pinterest open and just scrolled and scrolled and scrolled because nothing looked appealing. If I asked my husband he'd suggest pizza on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, breakfast on Wednesday, burgers on Thursday, pizza on Friday, tacos on Saturday...I think you get where I'm going with this. 😊

Anyway, it only took me a few minutes of scrolling through Sarah's recipes before I knew exactly what to make. I sometimes ask my coworkers for suggestions and this time was told "maybe something on the healthier side?"

I grinned. "Healthy" desserts? Those are my favorite to make because I love the flabbergasted look on someone's face when they tell me how good a dessert was and then I drop the "oh and it was healthy for you too" bomb.

Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins
Barely Adapted from: The Pajama Chef
Servings:14 muffins
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    • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    • ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
    • ¼ cup honey
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two muffin pans with paper or foil liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add in the coconut oil, Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla. Stir in the mashed bananas.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, using a flexible spatula to fold ingredients together until no lumps of flour remain. Carefully fold in the blueberries as well.
5. Fill each muffin cup ¾ of the way full.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and let muffins cool completely.

These muffins are delicious and like expected, no one believed me when I told them how healthy they were! 

In addition to great muffins and tips on meal planning, Sarah also has a ton of other recipes. The ones that intrigued me the most where Buffalo Pretzels, Strawberry Ginger Smoothies (you know my obsession with ginger...these are getting made ASAP!), Honey Mint Glazed Chicken and Triple Chocolate Brownies.  And that's not even touching her collection of breads, breakfasts or side dishes! 

Show Sarah some love by checking her out on social media:

Meal Plan Monday - February 12-18th, 2018


Is it just me or has winter crawled to a snail's pace? At least it's the middle of February, but I feel like we've been in the winter months for at least 6 months now. Which is about 5 more months than I can stand.

Luckily I have a lot of stuff this spring to look forward to, like my girl's trip to Vegas in the beginning of April and possibly a trip to Texas at the end of April. While I'm hoping those two things hurry these cold months along, it also made me realize I haven't done much to be ready for vacation...like lose that last 10 pounds that's hung around for more summers than I can count. Hopefully I can manage to do it in time and if not, at least before the summer is good enough for me.

I initially planned to switch between the Fast Metabolism Diet and the Food RX plan from now until I go on vacation, but since these first 28 days have been 50% failures, I've decided I'm going to just stick with FMD right up until the week before vacation.

In keeping with that, the menu is as follows:

Monday: oatmeal pancakes with rhubarb sauce and turkey bacon

Tuesday: stuffed pepper soup

Wednesday: crock pot pepper steak and onions

Thursday: grilled chicken with green beans

Friday: sheet pan cashew chicken

Saturday: spaghetti squash spaghetti

Sunday: Italian turkey burger soup

Phase 1 - spelt pretzels and berries
Phase 2 - turkey patties and mushrooms
Phase 3 - berry cobbler

Phase 1: balsamic beef roast with quinoa and tomatoes
Phase 2: balsamic beef roast over salad
Phase 3: Irish pub salad

I won't be taste-testing any of the baked goods I'm making this week but there are cookie dough cheesecake bars, coconut rhubarb bread and King Cake made and shared just in time for Mardi Gras. 

#ImprovCookingChallenge: Philly Cheesesteak Twice Baked Potatoes


The theme for this month's Improv Cooking Challenge is steak and potatoes and for some reason, those two ingredients really stumped me. We eat steak and potatoes pretty frequently, but that didn't seem anywhere near creative enough to share with you.

It took until the weekend before this recipe was to be shared before inspiration finally struck and it came via the Super Bowl. Tom had asked me to make appetizers and seeing as he wanted the Eagles to win, I wanted to do something Philadelphia related. Cheese steaks were the obvious choice, but how to include potatoes?

I scrolled through all of the appetizer recipes I had pinned and landed on twice baked potatoes and knew that would be the perfect combination. Who doesn't like twice baked potatoes or cheese steaks? It was a match made in cheesy, carby heaven.

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page.

If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.

Philly Cheese Steak Twice Baked Potatoes
Source: Cookaholic Wife
Servings:8-10 people
Printer Friendly

    • For the Potatoes:
    • 1 lb. baby yellow potatoes
    • 1tbsp olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • For the Topping:
    • 1 lb. thinly shaved beef (or deli roast beef)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 cup provolone cheese, shredded
    • salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. Prick the potatoes with a fork. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes over and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
4. Remove potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool.
5. In a medium skillet, cook the beef until fully browned over medium high heat. Then transfer to a cutting board and dice into small pieces.
6. Add olive oil to the skillet over medium heat along with the onions and bell pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. Slice the cooled potatoes in half and use a spoon to carefully scoop out the inside, leaving a thin layer around the edges of the skin to make them sturdy enough to hold the filling.
8. In a large bowl, stir together the potato filling, steak, onions and bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scoop the filling back into each of the potato halves. Top with shredded cheese.
9. Return to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 

Tom wasn't sure if he was going to like these and ended up loving them and telling me I should make them again. I definitely will! And maybe if I want to take a little credit for the Eagles winning because of these, then so be it. 😀

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