Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quick dessert from a cake mix

Cinnamon Swirl Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream. Stir by hand approximately 50 strokes, or until most large lumps are gone. Pour half of the batter into an ungreased 9x13 inch glass baking dish or well-greased bundt pan. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter in the cake pan. Spoon the other half of the batter into the cake pan, covering the brown sugar and cinnamon. Twirl the cake with a butter knife or icing knife until it looks like a honey bun (or whatever design you want to make).
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Frost cake while it is still fairly hot. Serve warm.
  4. To Make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.
An impressive cake coming from a cake mix! I love that. Fast, easy, yummy.

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread
from Starbucks

Chocolate Batter
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baknig powder
1/2 teaspoon baknig soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cocoa-Spice Sugar Crust
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground ginger
1/4 cup decorating or sparkle sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

Make the chocolate batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed, until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, water and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to butter, beginning and ending with the flour and beating just until blended. Divide the batter between the two pans, shake the pans to even the tops and set aside.

Make the cocoa-spice sugar crust: In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ginger and cloves. Sprinkle the surfaces of both batters with the cocoa sugar mixture, dividing evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely, run a thin knife around the sides to release the breads and remove from pans.

This was fun...tasty. Not too cinnamony-spicy, either, so don't worry about that part. The topping just adds a little different flavor, but really this bread is chocolate. No doubt about that! I think doing this recipe in little mini-pans could be nice, too. Just make sure to use that parchment paper or greased aluminum foil. A great bread (ok, ok, cake) for fall/winter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Different take on Spaghetti

Spaghetti a la Philly

Makes: 4 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) Spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 package (4 ounces) Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 package (8 ounces) spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons Kraft grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Cook the beef in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat.
  2. Stir the sauce and cream cheese in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 minutes or until the cream cheese is melted, stirring often.
  3. Place the spaghetti into a large bowl. Add the beef mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
The kids loved this. They love white spaghetti most, then this recipe, then red spaghetti. Stinkers. I thought it was good too, in fact, I think I upped the cream cheese to about 6 oz. This recipe is a good way to use jarred spaghetti sauce, because I usually don't enjoy store spaghetti sauce, but the cream cheese mutes the fakey flavor. Try this!

Friday, January 8, 2010

A crock pot dinner kids will enjoy!

Honey Sauced Chicken

3/4 pound chicken (of your choice)
1/2 tsp. salt (I skipped, but did sprinkle a little)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T chopped onion (or 1 T onion flakes)
2 T ketchup
1 T. vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced (I just sprinkled some garlic powder)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
optional: a couple tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water to add at the end to thicken sauce

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours or on high 1 1/2 hours. Chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce. Serve over rice or noodles.

Who doesn't love a good crock pot dinner? I was up for trying a new recipe, though I feared, and the fear continued as I smelled it cooking, that it would taste just like teriyaki chicken. Now, I love Teriyaki and all, but I wanted a different flavor. And luckily, when I tasted it, my worries flew away. So this is more honey-based than soy sauce-based, so the overall flavor is honey-ish, but not overpoweringly so. Which makes it super kid-friendly. We all enjoyed the flavor, and will make this again.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
  • 1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  1. In bread machine pan, place the first eight ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons water or flour if needed).
  2. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Brush with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Pinch seams and ends to seal. Place seam side down in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cover with foil; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove form pans to wire racks to cool completely.
You can of course use any white bread recipe you enjoy- I've tried the cinnamon swirl bread with my Amish bread recipe as well, and it was good. It is a little bit of a trick rolling the bread up so there are no air pockets, but it is doable, though it is always delicious even if it's not perfect! Also, use as much filling as you want- in this picture, I didn't seem to have quite enough cinnamon swirl for our family's preference, but do as you wish.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Great for a tea party, special occasion, or whenever!

Cake Ball Truffles
  • 1 package cake mix any flavor
  • 1 container prepared frosting (any flavor)
  • 1 block chocolate or vanilla chocolate coating (almond bark- find it by the chocolate chips at walmart or any grocery store)
  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended. Scoop with a little cookie scoop into balls and freeze until firm (you can dip into chocolate immediately, but frozen is easier to work with).
  2. When you're ready to begin, melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave on the DEFROST selection or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Be careful not to overheat, or chocolate will get thick and mushy!
  3. Using a fork, dip the balls in chocolate, making sure to coat the ball entirely. If desired, sprinkle with sprinkles, nuts, coconut or whatever you like. You can even dip in chocolate and then drizzle while chocolate over that. Place on waxed paper to set.
Possible cake combinations: German Chocolate Frosting w/chocolate cake, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, spice cake w/cream cheese, chocolate w/ chocolate...whatever you like.

I made these for Isabelle's birthday tea party. They were easier to make than I thought, and the results were appealing. It was a nice change from normal cake, fancier and bite-size. I tried chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, covered in chocolate. Very decadent! Next time I'll try red velvet.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

Overnight Blueberry French Toast
(adapted from
  • 12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish, and top with dallops of cream cheese spreading evenly over top. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.
  5. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast.
Rich and delicious! We enjoyed this Christmas morn, though if your kids don't take to blueberries, they'll just prefer some cereal instead. This was great the next day as well. Blueberry Syrup is great with pancakes too!