#BundtBakers: Strawberry Crunch Bundt Cake

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This blog post should really be titled "The cake that didn't want to cake."

I've known that the theme for this month's #BundtBakers was strawberry for a few months now. I made my first recipe back in early June when strawberries were plentiful and cheap. It was a strawberry rhubarb recipe and it promptly fell apart as soon as I sliced into it.

I tried again the next weekend, thinking perhaps I just used too many strawberries and the cake was too moist. Nope, cake mush, take 2.

A few weeks later, I tried out my mini bundt pan making a Neapolitan version that I was going to top with chocolate covered strawberries. Which would have been gorgeous if the entire cake hadn't needed to bake for so long that it turned dark brown and you couldn't tell the difference between what was supposed to be chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.



Three failed cakes is where most people give up, but I'm nothing if not persistent. However, I am also somewhat logical and decided that my final attempt in making a strawberry cake to share with you was going to use prepared cake mix in hopes that I could finally get one right.

BundtBakers

And it worked! While not gorgeous or perfect, it turned out well enough that I could share it with you (and finally stop making failed strawberry cakes!)


#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. Our host for this month is Tammy of Living the Gourmet.




Strawberry Crunch Bundt Cake
Adapted from: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Servings: 12-16 slices
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Ingredients:
    • for the cake:
    • 1 box white cake mix, prepared
    • 1 box strawberry cake mix, prepared
    • for the frosting:
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup fresh strawberries, mashed
    • 2-4 tbsp heavy cream
    • pinch of salt
    • for the crunch topping:
    • 6 vanilla oreo cookies
    • 4 shortbread cookies
    • 4 oz. freeze dried strawberries
    • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray.
2. Prepare the white cake mix according to package directions. Pour ⅓ of the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
3. Prepare the strawberry cake mix according to package directions. Pour ⅓ of the batter on top of the white cake mix in the bundt pan. Repeat with ⅓ of the white cake batter, ⅓ strawberry and finish with the remaining ⅓ of the white cake mix. (Discard remaining strawberry cake mix or make cupcakes)
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by adding the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until combined. Add mashed strawberries and salt. Add in heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time to thin out the frosting if needed.
6. Prepare the crunch topping by adding oreo cookies and shortbread cookies to a food processor and pulsing until fine. Add in melted butter and pulse until it comes together. Finally add in the freeze dried strawberries and pulse until mixed in.
7. Once the cake has cooled, place a plate on top of the bundt pan and flip it over so the cake is upright on the plate. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake and then coat with the crunch topping.
8. Slice and serve. Uneaten cake should be covered and refrigerated. 





This cake is light and moist and full of strawberry flavor. It's not quite the same as those ice cream bars with a similar coating but it's still incredibly tasty. Tom had three slices before I reminded him that I was taking it into work. My coworkers had it gone within a few short hours. 



Fantastical Food Fight: Key Lime Coconut Rum Cake

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Last month I decided to join a new blogging event called the Fantastical Food Fight. It's hosted by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes . Each month there is an ingredient or theme and bloggers can make any recipe that fits under those guidelines.

I made an ice cream base last month using almond milk and unfortunately when it came time to put it in the ice cream attachment of my Kitchenaid, I realized it had curdled. There wasn't enough time to make a new base so I begrudgingly had sat out and vowed to make a recipe far enough in advance this month to actually be able to share with everyone.



The theme for this month is rum and my first thought was "Hey! Right up my alley!" I searched through a ton of different recipes trying to figure out which to make for this and eventually ended up settling on a cake recipe that I found on Inside BruCrew Life.



I've had some serious cake making fails recently (more about that tomorrow) so I decided to follow the recipe nearly exactly (replacing unsweetened applesauce for oil and coconut flavored rum for light rum or rum extract) to reduce my chances in cake failure and not being able to participate. 




Key Lime Coconut Rum Cake
Source: Inside BruCrew Life
Servings: 10-12 slices
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • for the cake:
    • 1 box white cake mix
    • 3 eggs
    • ¾ cup milk
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
    • ¼ cup key lime juice
    • 2 tbsp key lime zest
    • for the glaze:
    • 4 tbsp. Unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 2 tbsp key lime juice
    • ½ cup coconut rum
    • for the frosting:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup vegetable shortening
    • 1 tsp coconut extract
    • 1 tsp coconut rum
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup cream of coconut*
    • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
    • key lime slices

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch baking pans with baking spray or grease and lightly flour.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the white cake mix, eggs, milk, sour cream, applesauce, key lime juice and key lime zest and mix on low speed until fully combined.
3. Divide the batter in half and pour each half into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the batter on top and tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles.
4. Bake the cake for 25-28 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

5. Transfer the cakes to a wire cooling rack to allow to cool. 
6. Prepare the glaze by adding the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and melting. Whisk in the sugar and key lime juice, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut rum. 
7. Prick holes into the cake with a fork or toothpick and pour the glaze on top, allowing it to soak down into the cake. Let cakes soak for 10 minutes.
8. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and invert over a plate. Repeat with the second cake. Cut off the top layer of the cake to make it even, if necessary.
9. Prepare the frosting by combining the softened butter and shortening together in the bowl of a stand mixer and beating on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the coconut extract and coconut rum. Slowly add in the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, alternating with the coconut cream until both are used and a thick frosting has formed.
10. Spread a heaping layer of the frosting on top of one of the cooled cakes. Carefully lift up the other cake and place on top. Add more frosting to the top of the cake, leaving the sides naked. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top and then arrange lime slices on the frosting. 
11. Slice and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 


* Cream of coconut is referred to as the solid portion when you buy a can of coconut milk from the international aisle. You can also find cream of coconut in the drink mix section but it is thinner and you'll probably need to use less. If using the canned version, make sure to only scoop out the solids otherwise your frosting will separate. 



Isn't this cake adorable? It came together so easily! There is a mild lime flavor throughout the cake and then this sweet hint of coconut. 

Check out what everyone else made: 



Amazon Fresh: A Review

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Grocery delivery service seems to be the hot new thing. For the longest time, the only one I knew of was Peapod, which works with the Giant stores here. Then Amazon unveiled their Fresh program and Walmart followed up with their pick up service.

I've never really minded grocery shopping. I'm incredibly picky about my produce and know which times to go to the stores to avoid the crowd. I also love exploring the International Foods aisle to see what new-to-me things are out there.

I debated on using a service for a while. First, do I really want to pay for someone to deliver my groceries when I'm completely capable of going to the store and picking them out on my own? Second, do I trust someone to pick them for me?

I finally decided to try it out last weekend. Friday and Saturday we were supposed to have really bad storms and I will admit, grocery shopping in the rain is less than ideal. I checked out all of my options to see what would work best.

(mountain o'groceries)

Walmart - I'd still need to lug the groceries in the house in the rain and that was the main thing I wanted to avoid, so they were out.
Peapod - I price shopped between Peapod and Amazon and they were pretty comparable on most things, however in my area, they were out of 3-4 things that I needed so I decided it wasn't a good fit for this try-out.

Amazon was the winner, because of what they had to offer, the 30 day free trial and the fact that you get $25 off your first order of $100 or more.

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own. Amazon Fresh has no idea that I am leaving a review of their service and I have not received anything from them for the purpose of this review. 

Ordering: You sign up for the Fresh trial and then can begin adding things to your cart. It did take me a while to do this because I read nutritional labels so I had to open and enlarge multiple items to see what the best choice was. I did have a hiccup during my order; I'm not sure if the internet went out for a few minutes or what, but it told me nothing else could be added to my cart. I hopped on my phone to continue and then there were 12 packages of toilet paper and 7 packages of turkey bacon. Once I got those and the additional items that it had doubled during the glitch removed, it was pretty easy.
Grade: 4 out of 5 


What I ordered: To give you an idea of what filled up the totes
1 - romaine lettuce head
2 - gala apples
2 - packages baby carrots
1 - package red potatoes 
2 - cartons strawberries 
1 - carton blackberries
1 - carton mushrooms 
1 - cucumber 
1 - package baby spinach
2 - packages frozen peaches
3 - bell peppers
1 - package habaneros
1 - tiny package fresh tarragon
1 - honeydew melon
1 - watermelon
1 - package turkey bacon 
1 - package deli ham 
2 - packages deli chicken 
1 - 1 pound package ground beef
1 - block gruyere cheese 
1 - package prosciutto 
1 - quart milk 
1 - packet taco seasoning
1 - bottle taco sauce
1 - can black beans 
1 - box cake flour 
1 - brick cream cheese
 1 - package sour cream
1 - 12 pack toilet paper 
1 - jar avocado mayo
1 - bag shredded taco cheese 
1 - loaf bread
1 - package raw walnuts 
2 - 1 pound bricks of butter 


(What it all looks like out of the bag)

Delivery: You can choose what time you would like to have your groceries delivered and if you want to be there to accept the delivery or not. I was ordering at 8 pm on a Thursday and my options were morning deliveries for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I chose an unsigned delivery on Saturday morning between 6-8 am. They arrived at 7:33 am.

I don't have a covered porch so the bags were left on the front step. Since it had rained all last night the bottoms of them were damp and I had to wipe down my floors again after unloading, but this really isn't their fault, just a minor inconvenience if you choose grocery service to avoid rain and don't have a covered, dry area for them to place them.
Grade: 4 out of 5 

Packaging: Wow that's a lot of packages. I received 5 of their totes and two large paper bags for $100 worth of groceries. I use plastic bags at the grocery store because I reuse them as trash bags for the trash cans in the house and also to scoop out cat litter daily. I think it would have amounted to about the same.

Each of their green totes has a layer of padding in it, followed by a paper bag with handles and then there are frozen gel packs on the top and bottom with your groceries layered in between. They did a really good job of filling them up with like items and not smashing anything. I did have one tote with only a thin package of prosciutto in it, which was strange.
Grade: 3 out of 5

Environment: There is a lot more I could do to be environmentally friendly, but we do at least recycle. This order came with a lot of items to be recycled. All 7 of the paper bags and a plastic sleeve wrapped around each produce item. Each tote comes with at least 6 frozen gel packs in it, which I fully understand wanting to make sure the items are cold, but this was excessive to me. I kept 4 and had to throw out the rest because I simply don't have anywhere else to keep them.
Grade: 2 out of 5

Quality: This was the real category I was worried about. What would the quality of the produce be like? The carrots, lettuce, deli meats, cheeses, ground beef, dry goods, etc. were all perfectly fine. The strawberries were definitely past their sell date. They aren't moldy, but they're mushy. The mushrooms may survive a day or two in the fridge, but likely not more than that. Both of my apples were bruised.
Grade: 3 out of 5

Storage: To me, this is the biggest failure. You keep the totes until your next delivery and then they pick them up. The problem is that you also need to keep the padding in them. I removed it from 3 of the 5 totes and shoved it all into the other two. The three empty ones I was able to fold up like a reuseable grocery tote and shove them in an empty cabinet. The other two are currently hanging out in my dining room overflowing with the filling. If you lived in a small space or don't have a coat closet, like we don't, good luck finding somewhere to keep these. If anything, you'll have a mountain of cat face-scratching blocks or something for your kids to play with.
Grade: 2 out of 5

Cost: I eat a lot of produce. I would say it's 60% of our grocery bill each month. Meats make up 20% and then the rest is dry goods, paper products and cat litter. From the list above, you'll see there were minimal meats and dry goods and no cat litter. As disgusting as it is for two people, I typically spend $125-160 a week. The prices were pretty average to what I pay at Wegman's. There were a couple items that were more expensive but then quite a few cheaper so I think it evened out in the end. Before the $25 off $100 coupon, my order was $133 and it came to just under $108 with tax. If you order more than $40 worth of products, you don't pay a delivery fee.
Grade: 4 out of 5

Overall grade: 3 out of 5 

(A rare Itty sighting. She is quick pleased with the new face scratchers.)

I'll use the service again, especially since we have the free trial, but I'm not sure if its worth it to keep it long term. I think I'd rather go grocery shopping. I am going to try out using Peapod and Walmart's pick up service at some point and see how they work out for us. If you desperately need groceries and can't get to the store, I'd highly recommend it to anyone. However, if you are just doing it to be lazy and avoid going to the store and are picky about your food, maybe it's better for you to keep shopping yourself.

Improv Cooking Challenge: Peach and Hatch Chile Quick Jam

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As soon as I received ingredient suggestions for this year and paired them together, I instantly knew what I wanted to make for this month's ingredients - peaches and peppers.

Before Wegman's came around, I had never heard of a hatch chile before, but after their annual events where they put out stands in the parking lot and roasted the chilies right there, I quickly caught on to the limited time treat and started buying them in bulk so I roast and freeze them to have throughout the year.



Of course, I failed to take into account the date that we would be sharing this recipe and when Wegman's would be hosting their weekend hatch chile event. Unfortunately, this post is about two weeks before I can go buy them in bulk and with my freezer stash depleted, I had to opt for the canned variety of hatch chilies, which is still delicious and turned out great.

I do enjoy canning and have slowly acquired all of the supplies I need for it, but it is a time consuming process and in the summer the one thing I'm rather short on is time. I'd rather be outside or anywhere but in my kitchen over a stove. The best thing about this recipe is that you don't need to go through the canning process or even use pectin to hold the jam together. It's a quick jam heated up on the stove top that will keep in your fridge for a week or two.

For a longer lasting jam (good luck with that!), you'd need to follow basic canning procedures.



Peach and Hatch Chile Quick Jam
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 1 cup
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 3 medium ripe peaches
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 4 oz. canned hatch chiles
    • 1 cup water

Directions:
1. Peel and slice the peaches.
2. Add peaches, sugar and hatch chiles to a medium saucepan. Pour water on top and heat over medium high heat until boiling.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes or until all of the water has evaporated and mixture is thick and jelly-like.
4. Use a potato masher to break down the peaches into small bits. For a smooth jam, transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. 

5. Store in mason jar containers or a glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


If you have fresh hatch chilies, feel free to substitute them in this recipe. I used the medium heat level chilies and this was just perfect. If you aren't a fan of spice, choose the mild variety, or if you really love heat, use the fire spice level! 



Spread on toast, on top of a bagel with cream cheese, over chicken or pork, right out of the jar on a spoon...the possibilities are endless for this jam. 

Improv Cooking Challenge is a group of bloggers who make a recipe using assigned ingredients each month. Participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and use any variety of the ingredients available to them. If you'd like to join us, click here for more information, or visit our Facebook page. 





To check out what the other bloggers have made, look below and for previous challenges, check out our Pinterest board



FilltheCookieJar: Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream

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#FilltheCookieJar is a blogging event hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big where bloggers create cookie or bar recipes based off a theme. The theme for August was Grandma's Cookies.

This one threw me for a minute. I don't have any cookie recipes from my grandmother and I've already shared the recipe I have from Tom's grandmother,

I figured I would decide on an old-fashioned cookie recipe and go from there. I decided on molasses cookies and happened to be talking about it with my co-workers when one of the mentioned that I should make them into sandwich cookies and fill them with my whiskey buttercream. I pondered over that for a moment, could I really picture a grandma making cookies in her kitchen and adding some whiskey to the buttercream?



And well yes, I could. I'm sure even grandma could use a drink now and then. I pictured this older woman bustling around her kitchen, the counter filled with flour and sugar, a smudge of flour on her nightgown and she looks over at the clock and sees the grand kids are coming in less than an hour. She pauses, mind whirring and then swiftly makes her way into the dining room, grabs a bottle of whiskey from the cupboard and adds a splash to the buttercream. Then takes a swig herself and returns it back to its place.  Sure brings a new image of "cooking baking grandma" to mind, doesn't it?

Anyway, let's get onto the recipe, shall we?




Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream
Cookie Source: Pillsbury
Servings: 48 sandwich cookies
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • For the Cookies:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ½ cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • whiskey buttercream, recipe below 

Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and mix until combined.
2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until fully combined. Turn out the dough onto a piece of wax paper, wrap up and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the fridge, roll into a log and refrigerate again until fully chilled, at least a few hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Slice the dough log into ½ inch rounds, then cut into quarters and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and cool on cooling racks.
9. Match up like size cookies. Spread buttercream onto the bottom of one cookie and top with the other, creating a sandwich.


Whiskey Buttercream
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 ½ - 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp whiskey
    • ⅛ - ¼ cup heavy cream (or milk)

Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about ½ cup at a time until fully combined. Add in the salt and vanilla. Taste to see if the additional ½ cup of powdered sugar needs to be added.
3. With the mixer running, add in the whiskey and then drizzle in the heavy cream until the frosting loosens up enough to be spread or piped. Add more powdered sugar if it is too thin, add more heavy cream if it is too loose. 





Now that's a cookie! Molasses and whiskey totally go perfectly together. I made a half batch of these and froze the rest of the dough. I took them into work and they were gone in minutes. My coworker who suggested the idea said they were amazing and that he couldn't believe I used his suggestion. Hey, I know a good suggestion for recipes when I hear one!

See what everyone else made:

No Bake Date and Nut Cookies by That Recipe
Cherry Pie Bars by A Day In The Life On The Farm
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream by Cookaholic Wife
Hermit Cookies by Palatable Pastime

FoodieExtravaganza: Mini Peaches and Cream French Toast Casseroles

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I am always on the lookout for recipes to make using peaches. I absolutely love the last few weeks of July and the whole month of August because the peach displays in the grocery store are overflowing and perfectly ripe.

So of course I was on board to make a recipe using peaches for Foodie Extravaganza. #FoodieExtravaganza is blogging group where a theme is chosen each month from thenibble.com. We post on the first Wednesday of every month and bloggers take turns hosting. Our host for this month is Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm.



If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.



When I mentioned needing a peach recipe to my coworker (the same one who suggested adding the whiskey buttercream to the molasses cookies), he said I should make a stuffed french toast.

I love french toast but I can never master the art of getting it stuffed to the point where there is enough filling, it photographs nicely and it doesn't fall apart so I decided to do the next best thing and make a stuffed french toast casserole. Which is still pretty hard to photograph nicely, but I tried my best. 😊



Mini Peaches and Cream French Toast Casseroles
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2 servings
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 2 cups thick cut bread, cut into cubes
    • 2 cups peaches, chopped
    • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 ½ cups milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Grease 2 8 oz. ramekins with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up if the casseroles bubble over.
2. Add cream cheese and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fully combined.
3. Press a handful of bread cubes into each ramekin and top with ½ cup of peaches in each. Divide the cream cheese mixture between the ramekins and press into the bread and peaches. Add the remaining peaches and top with the last of the bread cubes.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and cinnamon. Pour half into each ramekin. 

5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
6. Place the ramekins on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Serve immediately.

I initially made this as a larger casserole in a 9x13 baking dish to take into my coworkers, but Tom was so upset that I didn't leave any home for him that I decided to make it again in individual portions. 





*To make a 9x13 dish portion: double the recipe 


If fresh peaches aren't available in your area, you can make this using frozen peaches as well. Allow them to thaw slightly before chopping.

Check out what everyone else made! 
 
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