Tag Archives: Baking

Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Topping

Easy blackberry cheesecake

There are few desserts as rich and delicious as cheesecake.  Personally, I prefer cookies, but Piyush–who swears he does not like sweets!–is definitely a “cheesecake man.”

In fact, he likes it so much that it’s all he wanted for Christmas.  No presents, just cheesecake.  Heck, that’s easy enough!

I first made this particular cheesecake during the last season of Master Chef.  There was a pressure test where the contestants had to bake a cheesecake in an hour.  I was stunned!  At that point I had never actually baked a homemade cheesecake before, but I knew it had to take longer than an hour!  Continue reading

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The Easiest Chocolate Cake Ever (and it’s Vegan)

I have a “thing” for chocolate. I love everything about it.  It’s smell, it’s taste and–most especially (at the risk of sounding like some sort of chocolate obsessed crazy lady who is in clear need of psychological assistance)–it’s ability to “pick me up” when I’m feeling down.

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Dressed up with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Rasberries and Pistachios

The only thing I might love more than chocolate is cake; and if it’s a chocolate cake, then I can promise you that I’m a happy lady!

This cake is magic, and will definitely lift anyone’s mood.  The recipe is fool proof, and the cake comes together quickly and without much effort.  It is also a vegan!  That’s right, there are no eggs or butter–and yet the cake is still deliciously decadent!  Who would have thought?! Continue reading

Mini Vegetarian Korma Pies with Whipped Coconut Cream for National Pie Day!

Mini Korma Pies

Mini Korma Pies

I’ve had a lot of requests for this recipe, and I’m not really sure why I haven’t posted it. But hey, it’s never too late…right?

I created this recipe for a pie contest that was held way back in September.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but that’s okay.  You see, I made 300 little pies the night before because Piyush and I had to transport them to Minneapolis by early afternoon the next day.  Living a couple hours away from Minneapolis, I knew I wouldn’t have time to prep and travel the day of.   Continue reading

Breadcrumb Cookies…Holiday Edition

I realize Christmas has come and gone, and I also realize (as of today!) King’s Hawaiian has had my recipe for Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macadamia Nuts and Holiday Sprinkles posted on their blog for well over a week now, yet I haven’t blogged about it.  I wanted to share the recipe with you all, dear readers, but was waiting until it was posted on their blog.

How it escaped me that it had been posted, I’ll never know.  But, it’s all good!  I’m going to share now!

King's Hawaiian Breadcrumb Christmas Cookies!

King’s Hawaiian Breadcrumb Christmas Cookies!

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Chicken Sausage, Pesto and Gruyere Croissant Rolls…and a Giveaway!

Giveaway is now over!  Sadly, I didn’t get a response from Emily R. before the Jan. 2 deadline, so I have to pick a new winner.  Emily, if you read this…send me a message!  I can’t send you the sausages, but I’d love to send you a little something else! 

New winner:  Congratulations to commenter #3 (picked via random.org), tcarolinep!!!  I’ll be sending you an email! 

It’s no secret that my family loves cinnamon rolls.  Especially my Grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls.  Oh man!  They’re soft and doughy, sweet–but not too sweet–they’re everything you could ever want in a cinnamon roll…and more!

Because I work on Christmas this year, I won’t have time to go to Grandma’s and have a taste of her fluffy cinnamon rolls, nor will I have time to whip up a pan of my own.  Instead, I plan on making Piyush a quick and easy recipe using Gold’n Plump Chicken Sausages, pesto, gruyere and pre-packaged croissant roll dough.

Freshly baked Chicken Sausage Rolls

Freshly baked Chicken Sausage Rolls

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The Pie Disaster.

I’ve been working on a few new recipes lately.

Some have been good…but not perfect.

Some have been complete failures!

These little pies would be an example:

I made these delicious, mini crusts using tea biscuits, pistachios, butter, flour and a few spices.  They were incredible!  They firmed up perfectly and popped right out of the pan I used to bake them.

Then I whipped together a filling.  This is where it all went down hill…fast.

I aimed to make a delicious chai flavored filling.  Kind of like a custard, I guess.  Something the consistency of key lime pie would have been perfect.

I wanted to use real tea because too often (almost always) things that advertise themselves as being “chai” flavored don’t even contain tea at all!  They toss together spices–usually an abundance of cinnamon–and call it “chai.”

Chai is the word for tea, it’s not just a simple spice mix.  And since I’m already on my soapbox, I might as well say that “chai tea” is a ridiculous thing.  Chai is tea.  They mean the exact same thing.  “Chai tea” is tea tea.  It sounds so silly.  (I’m looking at you, Starbucks!!!) 

oops.

So, I brewed some really strong Darjeeling chai–flavored with all the essential spices: black pepper, cardamom, bay leaf, ginger, clove and a little cinnamon.

The tea was fantastic.

Unfortunately, when I added the tea to the rest of the filling ingredients the mixture thinned out more than I had planned; but it still tasted quite good.

I decided to bake it anyway, knowing that it would probably thicken up, and it eventually did…after it had already caused my beautiful crusts to crumble.  😦

I think it would have probably worked if I tossed the pie shells back into the pan and baked them that way instead of putting them on a cookie sheet and letting them stand free.

Oh well.

You win some, you lose some.

Lesson learned.

Not everything can be perfect and beautiful all of the time.  Not me.  Not life.  Especially not pie.

 

 

The Easiest (& Best!) Banana Bread…and a Weekend Away

After a change in our plans, Piyush and I decided to take a weekend trip to Grand Marais, MN.

Grand Marais is a small town located on Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.  It holds a very special spot in my heart; and, in my opinion, just might be among the most beautiful places on this Earth.

Riding the waves of Lake Superior…

When I was a teenager, my parents purchased a cabin in Grand Marais–off the famous Gunflint Trail.  Now, if you’re from Minnesota–or even Wisconsin–you’re probably pretty familiar with the term “cabin.”  If you’re not, “cabin” is a term that usually describes a second piece of property and can mean anything from a rustic shack in the woods to a magnificent mansion on the banks of Lake Superior.

My family’s cabin is definitely not a mansion, but it’s no shack either.  It’s more like a charming cottage, hidden along the banks of a beautiful lake about 10 miles away from Lake Superior.

I absolutely love it there, and it really does feel like a second home.

View from the dock at the cabin. It’s so peaceful!

Unfortunately, Piyush and I only seem to venture to Grand Marais about one or two times a year.  I wish we could go more often, but it’s 6 hours away…and there just aren’t enough weekends in the summer (and there is way too much snow in the winter!).

Piyush and I left Friday morning and decided to take our time.  Usually we’re in such a rush to get to the cabin that we don’t really stop or enjoy any of the sights along the way (excluding Duluth.  We always stop in Duluth).

This time we stopped at a few antique shops, played 18  holes of golf, and even stopped for some pie.

Betty’s Pies is a relatively famous Minnesota destination.  Personally, I think it’s history is more interesting than the pie, but  I’m not much of a pie person.  We picked up a Bumbleberry pie (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry) to share with my parents.  When I opened the box, this is what I saw:

Isn’t that the maddest pie you’ve ever seen?  I got such a kick out of the pies angry-face!  It still makes me giggle.

pie in the woods!

The filling was yummy! …the crust, meh.  It was pretty dry.  But I guess dry pie is better than no pie, right?  …Right?

Piyush and I also stopped for dinner at The Angry Trout.  The food was amazing, and I wish there was an Angry Trout clone in Rochester!

Fresh grilled trout (caught in Lake Superior), Minnesota wild rice, and a big veggie salad

The trout was fresh caught in Lake Superior, and the taste was incredible.  I don’t usually enjoy fish all that much, but I think I could eat this everyday!!!  YUM!

The view from the restaurant was pretty incredible too…

The Angry Trout Restaurant: Grand Marais, MN

Once we finished with dinner and began driving north on the Gunflint Trail, I noticed all the beautiful wild flowers were beginning to bloom.  Lupine, roses, and blackberries (among other things) grow wild along the roads.  It’s such a lovely welcome, and I always look forward to it.

Wild Lupine

Wild Roses

Lake Superior

The weekend was so relaxing, but unfortunately it rained all of Saturday.  We didn’t get to spend much time on the water, but that’s okay.  Just being in Grand Marais was good enough for me!

Now…on to the banana bread!  

This recipe for banana bread is the easiest version I’ve ever come across.  It is also probably the first thing I really learned to bake myself.

The recipe allows for all sorts of variation, and a lot of times I’ll toss in some dark chocolate or dried cranberries.  It always turns out incredible, and I’ve never baked a dry loaf.  There really isn’t anything worse than dry banana bread.  Yuck!

This recipe makes amazing muffins!

I couldn’t tell you where this recipe came from.  I don’t know if it was from a book, my grandma, or maybe I found it online.  I don’t know.  I’ve had it for well over 15 years.

What I do know is that if you make this banana bread…you won’t regret it!

Easy Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 browned bananas- smashed
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. butter- melted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together smashed banana, and the melted butter.  Once everything is combined, add the egg and mix again.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is combined–but don’t over-stir.  Add any mix-ins (chocolate, dried fruits, nuts…) and stir until they are evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 325 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven, let cool a couple minutes and remove from loaf pan.  Let the bread cool on a rack for about a half hour or so.  Enjoy!
**I sometimes sprinkle the top with raw sugar crystals before baking.  It makes the crust have a pretty shine.  🙂 **

This recipe freezes extremely well!