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Tag 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


I think he knew something was up, because yesterday morning my boy started trying to wake up around 5:30. Birthday or not, this mama wasn’t having it. He did eventually go back to sleep, but at seven he was awake for real.

We went downstairs for a diaper change and some refrigerator oatmeal for breakfast. By the time he was done eating, The BF was awake. I decided to let O open his gifts from us so he could spend the morning playing with them.



He loved his new mixing bowl and measuring cups/spoons so much that he had to take them in the bath. He has so much fun pretending to cook.

The birthday boy took a nap while I showered and daddy went off to cut wood.

Once we’d all cleaned up and made ourselves all presentable-like, we went to the restaurant, where we ate yummy Mexican food and partied pretty hard.


We like to start 'em young around here. Ok, no we don't, there's no alcohol in that.


The bear is yellow cake filled with cocoa cream cheese buttercream and peanut butter frosting. The 2 cake is chocolate with cream cheese frosting.


A better pic of the cake topper I made.


My niece is super cute.

We had a wonderful time, and O loved seeing everyone. When we came home, he immediately stuck a pair of his brand-new big boy underwear on his head and went wild playing with his new toys.

As I was putting him to bed, I asked if he had a good day. He looked up at me with the sweetest smile and said, “Haybirday”.

I melted.

And then The Bf and I might have helped ourselves to another piece of cake.

It may be 81° outside, but my calendar says it’s fall. Time for football, sweaters, comfort foods, and chestnuts!

Lucky for me, my aunt’s front yard contains a very large and fruitful chestnut tree. I know it’s a giant pain in the ass for her (the tree stinks, and it drops spiny little pods all over her yard), but it’s great for me!

Yesterday, O and I went over to her house and gathered a grocery bag full of the tasty little nuggets.


Once we got home, I dumped them into a basket. These little guys are way perishable and will mold quickly, so it’s best to use them immediately. I planned to roast them today, so they hung out in this basket over night. As long as air can get to them, they should be ok for a couple of days.

This morning, I parked O in his high chair for breakfast, brewed a pot of coffee, and got to work. Chestnuts can be a bit of a pain to deal with, so I thought it best to get started early.

It’s a good thing, because I didn’t finish until 1:00 and I kind of never want to look at a chestnut again.

Just kidding.

If you’re lucky enough to find chestnuts and you want to try your hand at roasting them, here’s how I do it:

Roasted chestnuts

Chestnuts, in the shell. As many as you want, just remember that you’ll have to peel them. By hand.

Preheat oven to 400°

Rinse any dirt off of your chestnuts and look them over thoroughly. Discard any that are cracked or have holes.

With a paring knife, CAREFULLY (please don’t cut yohr finger off) cut an X into each nut. Make sure you get all the way through the shell… this will allow steam to escape so they don’t explode in your oven.


The bigger the X, the easier it will be to peel.


Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, cut side facing up. Roast for 25 minutes. If you hear a loud pop toward the end of the baking time, don’t worry. They generally don’t make a huge mess when they explode.


When they’re done, let them sit until cool enough to handle…they do tend to peel easier when warm, so try to keep an eye on them. Then comes the fun part! Peel the hard shell and papery layer off of each one. Yes, by hand.


This will wreck your thumbs.


This is what they look like after you’ve peeled them. If you try one now, you might just find yourself eating them as yoh peel them. Fair warning.


It isn’t a super quick process, so you might want to sit at a table. Invite a friend over to help…Just make it sound like it’s super fun. Also, convince your friend that chestnuts are gross so you don’t have to share.

Once they’re all peeled and your fingers are permanently disfigured, you can store them in an airtight container, either in the fridge (only for a couple of days!) or in the freezer (for up to a year). I stuck mine in the freezer so I can use them in a recipe sometime this week.

If they last that long…

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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?!”


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.


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.

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