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Category Archives: baking

My mom used to make the best key lime pie… It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart, with a beautiful, fluffy, toasted meringue on top.

Good lawd, I miss that pie.

She hasn’t made it in ages…She did make me a key lime pie for my birthday a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t the pie. It was still delicious, but with no meringue it just wasn’t the same.

So recently I was wishing for something a little sweet, but a little tart, and I had key lime on the brain after having a key lime truffle from our new candy store.

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The problem was, I wanted something super easy that didn’t involve seperating eggs. I wanted a decent, but lazy, approximation of key lime pie.

I found it while aimlessly scrolling through Pinterest one day. The recipe was from Weight Watchers, I think, and it was a bunch of fat-free this and sugar-free that. Yuck.

I made my own version, and it turned out really well. It took me no time to put together, and cleanup was minimal.

Look, it isn’t real key lime pie, but it works in a pinch.

Cheater Key Lime Pie

1 box lime gelatin
1/4 cup boiling water
2 single-serve containers key lime Greek yogurt
1 8 ounce package Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and let cool a bit. Stir in yogurt, then Cool Whip. Pour into pie crust, cover, and refrigerate until ready to eat. I think mine was in the fridge for a couple of hours and it was pretty good, but it was even better when I cut into it this morning to get a picture. I know because I, uh, accidentally got some on my finger and I had to taste it.

The sacrifices I make, people.

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This might be the perfect summer treat. Sweet, but not heavy…I’m already thinking of ways to fancy it up so I don’t feel like such a slouch next time I make it.

Now I think I’ll go accidentally eat the rest of that slice.


I’ve been clear on my stance on raisins… If you’re new around here, let me catch you up: I hate them. The taste is foul, they stick in your teeth, and they look like rabbit turds. I can’t really think of a single redeeming factor.

My child, however, loves the nasty little things… Give him a little box and he will gladly cram them into his mouth as if they were something actually delicious. He goes through phases… Sometimes he’ll only ask for raisins a couple of times a day, and others he’s a broken record.

“Rasins? Rasins, mama? MAMA. RASINS. I hab it, the rasins? Pease?”

So it was one of those days… And I was trying to get some work done so I didn’t leap up the second he asked for them, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. I found him sitting on the kitchen floor with a bowl full of raisins in front of him, happily stuffing his face.
“Hey, buddy…where’s the box?”

He beamed with pride and said, “I frow it away!”

Rather than find a container for the remaining raisins, I decided to make some bread. Oddly enough, I actually do like cinnamon raisin bread, and I figured I had everything to make it. When it was time for O’s lunch, I took a break from my audio files and gathered the necessary ingredients. Once he was safely contained settled in his high chair, I got to work.

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Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (this was just an attempt to use up some almond milk that wasn’t my usual brand…feel free to use 2 cups of regular milk.)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon  (or to taste, however you like your cinnamon/sugar mixture)

Preheat your oven to 350° and spray two loaf pans with Baker’s Joy.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon). Add oil, milk, and eggs (I like to measure out the milk, crack the eggs into it, and whisk it all together, but you do you) and stir until all is combined. Add raisins and stir again.

In a seperate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Scoop a little batter into each loaf pan, then sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on top. Keep alternating layers of batter and sugar until batter is gone. Make sure to get equal amounts into the loaf pans. Using a knife, swirl the batter and sugar together. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

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So yes, the term “quick bread” is relative here since it takes a while to bake, but it’s worth it. I didn’t get much almond flavor, and I was sad about that, but the brand of almond milk I got sucked. Seriously, it was like water. Lesson learned!

I have accidentally eaten three pieces already, so I should warn you that it’s pretty irresistible.

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Hey guys! Check out the article I wrote for Parade… These fortune cookies make a tasty Valentine’s Day treat. I should know, I ate a hundred of them while working on the article.

DIY Fortune Cookies

Anyway, check it out on Parade.com!


I happen to think Nutella is quite possibly one of the most delicious things on the planet, so when I ended up with this Jif salted caramel hazlenut spread as part of our Christmas stuff I was super excited.

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My MIL is the best.

O and I thoroughly enjoyed putting this stuff on almost everything, but I was afraid it would go bad before we could eat it all…the jar looks small but this stuff is pretty rich.

At first I thought about brownies, but then I discovered some white chocolate chips hanging out in the freezer and suddenly I wanted cookies.

I mean…O wanted cookies. Yeah.

I think you could use any hazlenut spread in these, so if you can’t find the salted caramel flavor don’t worry.

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Hazlenut white chocolate chip cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened (or use salted and omit the 1/2 teaspoon of salt)

A little over 1/3 cup hazlenut spread (I just used what was left in the jar. It was probably 1/3 cup plus about two tablespoons)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon  salt

About 1 cup white chocolate chips (again, I just used what was left in the bag)

Line one large baking sheet (or two small ones) with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. Add vanilla, hazlenut spread, and egg. Mix until combined.

In a seperate bowl, stir dry ingredients together. Add to wet ingredients (turn the mixer off when you add…trust me) a little at a time and mix until all is incorporated. Add white chocolate  chips.

Using a 3/4 measuring cup, scoop dough onto cookie sheets with a couple of inches in between. You should end up with 12 cookies.

Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°. Bake cookies for at least 15 minutes. Mine actually baked for 20, but if you like a slightly gooey texture 15 minutes would probably be fine.

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Let the cookies cool quite a bit before trying to move them. I let mine cool completely on the baking sheet, but you could transfer them to a rack by lifting the parchment.

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Now prepare to be annoyed, because your toddler will follow you around saying, “Cooie, mama? Pease?” for the remainder of the day.

I’m not even joking… I lost count of how many times he’s face-planted into my backside while begging for a cookie. It happens almost every time I stop moving.


Thursday evening, I made two pies… I had planned to only make one, a coconut cream pie for The BF’s grandpa (his birthday was Saturday), but the BF wandered in and asked if he got a pie. I had everything to make a chocolate pie, so I went ahead and made it because I’m such a pushover giver.

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Top: Coconut cream pie Bottom: Chocolate mousse pie

The BF was super pleased with his pie. Friday evening we took the coconut pie to Grandpa, and he said he had no plans to share it with anyone. He did offer a slice to The BF.

“No thanks, I don’t really care for coconut.”

“I know!” was Grandpa’s reply, and then he cracked up.

I was super relieved that he liked it so much, because I’d never made that kind of pie before…And I did it completely from scratch, from making the graham cracker crust, to separating five eggs for the custard, to the whipped cream, to even toasting the coconut. Also, who knew real, homemade whipped cream was so amazing? I may be addicted.

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Saturday morning, MIL and I took O to the local farmer’s market. We found tons of awesome fresh produce and lots of people to chat with. I ended up with an eggplant, some cute yellow pattypan squash, Concord grape jelly, and creamed honey. MIL stopped to buy a green pepper and the nicest guy handed O a cute little pumpkin. He promptly threw it to the ground, of course, but luckily the man just laughed.

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I didn't get a pic of the pattypan because it didn't last very long.

We stopped for lunch at my favorite Chinese place. I ordered cashew chicken and MIL had General’s chicken…we both got the hot and sour soup because it’s the best you’ll ever have. O was happy to eat everything we shared with him, and he wasn’t phased at all by the spice in the soup or the General’s chicken…He’s going to like it spicy like his mama, I think, and I couldn’t be more proud.

O took a nice, long nap once we got home, and when he woke up we headed to the State Fair. O had his first ever ear of Indiana State Fair roasted corn on the cob, and he loved it so much that he didn’t want to give up the empty cob. He also split a blue raspberry shaved ice with his daddy, and he loved the pieces of breaded tenderloin I shared with him.

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After we filled our bellies, we wandered around checking things out. I rode an elephant ( her name was Libby), and we bought a jar of maple cream at the pioneer village.

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We made sure to check out some animals, and the boy found a new friend in a nice little goat. The BF and I also found coffee mugs that I really should have bought.

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He had to give the goat kisses when we left.

Once it got dark, we headed to the midway. O rode a couple of rides with Daddy (mama would barf). I think O loved the excitement, because there was a lot of pointing and clapping and waving and, “See? SEE?!”

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We all had a blast and slept extremely well when we got home.

Sunday, I did some cleaning and The BF worked in his office while O ran around in an outfit he picked himself.

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That afternoon,  my SIL came over with my sweet niece and the kids chased each other through the house. There was a lot of squealing and giggling and THUMPTHUMPTHUMPing. The boy had so much fun that he slept until almost 9:30 this morning.

It was my favorite kind of weekend, full of family time, good food, and a lot of laughter.


Last week I tried a brownie recipe that I saw on Pinterest.  I was really excited about these brownies,  because the recipe called for Mexican hot chocolate tablets. I love Mexican hot chocolate, and I was just sure it would make an excellent brownie.

I mixed them up during O’s morning nap and popped them into the oven. According to the recipe they only needed 20 minutes to bake, so I cleaned up and took care of a few things while the house filled with the delicious smell of chocolate.

When the timer went off, I opened the oven door and could tell they weren’t done. Nothing an extra ten minutes wouldn’t fix…

Wrong.

In total, they probably baked for an hour before I finally gave up. I don’t know what happened, but something with that recipe was wrong. Queue sad trombone.

Talk about a major disappointment.  I still wanted something chocolatey and cakey, but I was mad at Pinterest.  I decided to go with something I had never attempted,  but I knew to be tried and true.

Ladies and gentlemen,  I present to you…

Coke cake.

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My mom used to make this for us all the time when I was younger. While I was at mom and dad’s on Friday, I asked for the recipe…Mom pulled out her trusty Millgrove Church cookbook and I wrote everything down, complete with mom’s changes (neither of us can follow a recipe exactly as it’s written).

Coke cake (adapted from the Millgrove Church cookbook):

For the cake:
2 sticks butter
1 cup Coke (not Pepsi, not generic, certainly no other flavor. Don’t even think of using diet. COKE)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine butter, cocoa, and Coke in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir flour, sugar, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Crack eggs into a seperate small bowl, add milk and vanilla, and beat until combined.

Once the cocoa mixture is boiling, remove from heat, let cool briefly, and pour over flour mixture. Stir, check to make sure it isn’t too hot (You don’t want scrambled eggs!), then add milk mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

For the icing:

1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons Coke
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Once again, bring butter, cocoa powder, and Coke to a boil. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir. Add nuts and stir again, then pour over cake and spread evenly. Let cool until icing sets (it’s more of a glaze, really).

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It’s perfect, chocolatey, moist, delicious. Not quite health food (uh, hello butter) but a wonderful occasional treat. This tends to be a big hit at pitch – in dinners.
Just try not to eat the whole thing at once. I know it’s tempting…but be strong.


I hate math. I mean, I really, really hate math. I checked out around third grade when long division showed up. In high school, I was the kid rolling her eyes and proclaiming that I would never use Algebra or Geometry (turns out, I was right). College? Forget about it. I dropped my one and only math class pretty much a week in. Did I say dropped? I meant that I just quit showing up.

Even though I think math is more Devil magic than anything, I get really excited about these silly nerdy holidays. I plan to celebrate by making personal pizzas for dinner. If you feel like getting into Pi day, here are a few recipes I recommend:

Mini apple pies

Peanut butter cup pie

Apple pie

Strawberry rhubarb pie

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Heart healthy pie crust

Hot fudge pie

Chicken pot pie

Cast iron skillet pizza

Chicken alfredo pizza

Are you excited for Pi day? How do you plan to celebrate?


Sometimes I think the most dangerous sentence one can say while scrolling through Pinterest is, “I have everything I need to make that!” Since I try really hard to keep my pantry well-stocked, I say it pretty frequently.

Such was the case a couple of days ago, when I saw this recipe for French Onion pork chops. I had planned on having pork chops for dinner, but I wanted to do something different with them.

While I continued to scroll, an email notification popped up. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Food52, but it’s quickly becoming my favorite website. I actually don’t regret subscribing to their email list because they always send me stuff that I want to try. Like, for example, this recipe for yogurt bread with molasses.

I ended up making both for dinner that evening.

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I used one of my cast iron skillets for the chops so I didn’t have to wash another dish. They turned out to be super moist, but very salty. I added some water at the end but the saltiness was still there. I got no complaints from the BF, though, so I will probably try this again without the soup mix.

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The bread was wonderful. There was definitely a molasses flavor, but it was pleasant, not OMGMOLASSES! I sprinkled a little cornmeal in the bottom of the skillet after the butter melted, just to make sure the bread wouldn’t stick. Next time I think I’ll throw in some oats and maybe a few other grains…Dried fruit might be good, too.

O and I have been enjoying this bread with everything. He had some with yogurt and blueberries for breakfast this morning while I toasted and buttered a slice for myself. It makes really good sopping bread, so it would go well with a saucy dinner or a soupy lunch.

I know I say this about every loaf of bread I make, but I also think it would make good French toast.

What I’m saying is, you need to make this bread.

Actually, you need to make this bread and invite me over…Because my loaf is almost gone.


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For the record, the farts have all been his.

Yesterday was the three – year anniversary of the very first time The BF and I went on a date. In case you wondered, we went to dinner and then to his buddy’s birthday party. I wore a dark blue argyle sweater, jeans, and brown boots.

Ok, wait a minute. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I will draw a blank…but I remember what I wore on a date three years ago?  That makes sense.

So yesterday I baked some cupcakes, took a shower, and did my hair and makeup…I mean, I used a curling iron. I haven’t used one of those in years, so it’s big news. I even got to wear my red jeans and my new boots. Hey, when I leave the house (for something other than the grocery store) I get fancy.

Anyway, because we are the most exciting people you know, we had dinner at a newish Mexican/Peruvian place here in town and then went to Wal-Mart. I thought we were there to get O diapers, but The BF walked in the wrong direction and ended up in the shampoo aisle. That guy remembered me saying I wanted to try this sulfate – free shampoo I read about and wanted to get it for me, but he forgot what it was called.

I can practically hear everyone saying, “Awwwwwww…”

So now I’m seriously tortured because my new shampoo and conditioner is sitting on the shelf in the shower mocking me. I don’t wash my hair every day (most times not even every other day) but the waiting is killing me…I’ve even been sneaking in to sniff the bottle all morning. I just have to be strong and tough it out.

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As for the cupcakes (because honestly, that’s why you’re reading this)…Wow. I know I have declared a couple of chocolate cake recipes the Best Ever! but this one is really, really good.

I used this recipe from the Hershey’s website , with a couple of minor changes.

Instead of plain water (bor-ring), I used cooled black coffee. I also threw in some ground black pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon.  I know that sounds weird but please just trust me and try it out… I put it in every chocolate cake I make. I thought I was the only one that did it, but apparently The BF’s awesome grandma was a fan of it, too. No wonder she and I got along so well…Great minds!

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For the peanut butter buttercream, I used Wilton’s recipe and altered it slightly. After following the recipe exactly, I decided it needed more peanut butter and added another 1/4 cup… In all, I used between 7 and 8 tablespoons of milk to get the consistency right.

These have been a big hit so far. I would definitely recommend baking them for your next special occaision… And if you don’t have anything special coming up, just find something to celebrate. Tomorrow is Friday? Well there you go!

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You know you want to.


I love peanut butter. I love it so much that I have actually eaten an entire jar with a spoon… not in one sitting, but by sneaking little bites here and there until I had consumed every bit without spreading it on or adding it to anything.

The first year of the boy’s life was a bit hard for me, because until that all – important first birthday, babies can’t have peanut products. I didn’t want to risk cross – contamination, so I stayed away from peanut butter for the most part. It was awful.

I wanted to check for a peanut butter allergy as soon as I possibly could, so the morning of the boy’s one year checkup I plopped a jar of peanut butter and a spoon into the diaper bag. I got a bit of a strange look from the nurse, but she brought me a timer and set it for 30 minutes.  I gave the boy a spoonful of the good stuff and waited. When the timer went off, we had a fresh bruise (from him falling onto a crate) but no reaction. Peanut Butter was safe!

Hallelujah!

Since that day, I have slowly introduced peanut butter to the boy in a few different ways. He isn’t super stoked about it on toast, bet he really loves it in cookies.

Ok, who doesnt…right?

Yesterday I wanted to make the boy a quick treat but I wasn’t in the mood to dig out a ton of stuff. I see five ingredient cookie recipes all the time and ignore them, but I thought I would give one a shot. I never found one that was exactly what I wanted, so I used a few Pinterest recipes as a guide and made one of my own.

Here’s my super – speedy peanut butter cookie recipe:

1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy but crunchy would probably be good, too)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1/2 cup oats

Preheat your oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients until well combined. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, then press down a bit. They will spread, so make sure to place them at least an inch or two apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before you move them to a cooling rack…They are super delicate straight from the oven. One pretty much disintegrated when I tried to move it right away.

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I may never make peanut butter cookies the normal way again. This recipe made 14 cookies and it was incredibly difficult to keep from eating them all. I made these while O was eating lunch (split pea soup with ham, taters, and carrots if you wondered…oh, and toast sticks), so we shared one (ok, two) when he finished. When still a bit warm, these have a slightly crispy exterior and a chewy middle. After cooling completely they become crispy and almost…flaky? Crumbly? I’m not sure how to describe it, other than delicious.

You really need to try these. If I didn’t already have plans to bake something tomorrow (it’s a Very Special Day) I would be baking another batch right now. Luckily, we still have a few left.

But not for long…



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