Category Archives: baking

Pumpkin Crumble Cake

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Greetings, dear readers!  In honor of Autumn, and the commencement of the “all things pumpkin” season, I’m sharing a recipe for a pumpkin cake today.  No, this is not a cake in the traditional sense of the word – it’s kind of a mixture of a pumpkin pie and a crumble topping.  However, it’s yummy no matter what it’s called.

I found this recipe on livelaughrowe.com, and it’s called Pumpkin Dump Cake on Ms. Rowe’s site. However, that name didn’t sound super appetizing to me, so I’ve renamed this treat Pumpkin Crumble Cake.  It’s easy to make and is scrumptious, and is a great way to embrace the fall season.

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Pumpkin Crumble Cake
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Ingredients

29 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup sugar
12 oz. can evaporated milk
3 eggs
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup melted butter (next time I make this I’m going to try it with 1 cup instead)

 Instructions

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and salt
2. Beat well and pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan
3. Sprinkle cake mix over top, followed by the pecans
4. Pour melted butter over top
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes

Notes

Per livelaughrowe.com: Keep a close eye, burns easily or cover with foil after 30 minutes.
I followed her advice and covered the pan with foil after 30 minutes.  I baked the cake for 50 minutes total.

Serving Suggestions
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Okay, so I know the photo below looks a bit like stuffing, but it’s actually the Pumpkin Crumble Cake. Given that the pumpkin part on the bottom stays pretty soft, I figured that being able to plate a nice, tidy, clean-edged piece for a photo wasn’t going to happen.  So, I made a happy mound of pumkin-y, cakey, nutty goodness on the plate, and snapped away.  This is a great way to mix the flavors an textures anyway, and wouldn’t a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream be spectacular on the top?  I think so, too.  :]

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Happy Autumn, and Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Graham Cracker Toffee Bars Recipe

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Holy moly, these are good!  I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and had to give it a try.  I’m so glad I did.  Not only are these bars totally scrumptious, they’re quick and easy to make as well.  I love that combination in recipes.  :]

So far I’ve only made them with pecans, as called for in the recipe, but I’ll be making them with almonds next time.  And hmm, I wonder how they’d taste with some coconut in the mix – yummy, I’m sure!

Graham Cracker Toffee Bars Recipe
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Ingredients

  • Graham crackers (24 squares)
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • optional 1 teaspoon of vanilla (I forgot to put this in – will have to try it next time)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet, then lay down the graham crackers so they cover the entire cookie sheet. I used a 16″ x 12″ baking sheet and was able to fit four graham cracker squares across on each row.
  3. Melt butter using medium high heat. Add the brown sugar.
  4. Stir brown sugar into butter until melted. Bring to slight rolling boil.
  5. Cook and stir for two minutes. Add the chopped pecans.
  6. Pour mixture over graham crackers.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Cut while still warm.

Toffee_Bars2

This is what the pan of bars looked like when they were pulled from the oven – nice and bubbly.

If you give this recipe a try I hope you find it as easy and delicious as I did. Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Recipe: Ree’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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It’s been a while since I posted my last recipe, so I thought I’d do a little baking and share the photos of what I made. I’d never made a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake before, and decided to give Ree Drummond’s recipe a try. Ree, also known as the Pioneer Woman, is a whiz in the kitchen.  I was sure her version of this cake would be yummy and it was!  This is the first cake I’ve ever made in a cast iron skillet, and was glad to be able to put my Lodge 12″ skillet to work.

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Ree Drummond’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple,
2 tablespoons juice reserved
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
Maraschino cherries, stemmed (optional)

(Melody’s note: I used 1/4 stick more butter in place of the 1/4 cup shortening)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the cake batter: Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, 1/2 stick butter, the shortening, milk, eggs, vanilla and 2 tablespoons pineapple juice in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until well combined. (There will still be a few small lumps in the batter.) Set aside.

Melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; swirl to thoroughly coat the skillet. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, making sure it’s evenly distributed-you want the entire surface of the butter to be covered in brown sugar. Do not stir. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and layer the pineapple slices over the top. If desired, place maraschino cherries in the centers of the pineapple slices.

Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple slices and gently spread to even out the top. Bake the cake 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Immediately run a knife around the edge of the cake, then put a plate upside down on top of the skillet. Carefully invert the skillet so the cake is turned onto the plate. It should come out pretty easily; if bits of cake stick to the skillet, use a small knife to patch it together. Let cool slightly before cutting into wedges. It’s best served warm.

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I hope you enjoy making and eating this yummy cake as much as I did. Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Banana Nut Bread Recipe

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I’m very particular about my bananas – I don’t like them too ripe.  Too many brown spots and I’ll pass, thank you!  However, ripe bananas are perfect for making banana bread, or banana nut bread.  My mom used to make banana nut bread pretty often when I was young, and it’s a yummy treat.  Today I’m sharing my Banana Nut Bread recipe, which can easily be made without the nuts.

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Banana Nut Bread Recipe
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Ingredients
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1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup mashed, ripe banana (approximately 2 bananas)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and then add the milk. Beat until smooth after each addition.  Add flour mixture and the banana alternately to creamed mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.  Add the walnuts, and stir until well mixed.

Turn the batter into a lightly greased 8″ x 4″ x 2″ loaf pan.  Bake for 60 – 65 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan; cool completely before slicing – if you can wait that long to have a slice!  Note: Your bread’s crust should probably be a bit lighter of a brown.  I missed my timer going off because I was shooting blog photos outside.  ;]

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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My Blog’s 3rd Birthday!

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Yep, it’s true.  My blog is now three years old! I launched my blog in August of 2010, and have been blogging away ever since.  I’ve really enjoyed creating art and craft projects to share with you.  I’ve also enjoyed baking up recipes to entice you with, and am happy to have shared some of my other interests and adventures with you as well.

From trips to hole-in-the-wall restaurants to far-flung locales like Peru and Ireland, I’ve posted some of my images and experiences getting out and about in the world.  What fun!

I’ve also posted about my furry baby bunnies, Cypress and Pinto, and have shared my goofy pet mom pictures of them taken at holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

I’ve tried to make giveaways bountiful, because winning free things is so much fun!  Many of you have won goodies over the past three years, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Now What?
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As I embark on my 4th year of blogging, I’d love to know: what would you like to see more of?

Fine art?  (Photography, collage, drawing, assemblage, etc.)
Crafts? (Card making, jewelry, gifts, tags, etc.)
Recipes? Do you prefer savory recipes, desserts, or both?
Giveaways? What are your favorite types? (Gift cards, books, art supplies, etc.)
Photo haikus?
Travel?
Ethnic markets?

I value your input, dear readers, and would appreciate you leaving a comment sharing some of the things you’d like to continue to see , and/or things you’d like me to consider adding or beefing up.

Onward!
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I’m looking forward to more shared creativity and fun. Thanks for following my blog!  I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Warm regards,
Melody

p.s. If you’d like to “give my blog a birthday gift”, please consider making a donation to my Art Supply Drive to benefit at-risk children.  Details here.  Thanks!  :]

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Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bar Recipe

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As you may know, I published a collection of short stories earlier this year.  One of the stories in my book makes mention of a cookie bar recipe.  This particular story is set back in the 1800’s in New England.  The story’s main character is Savannah Forrester.  During the course of the story she develops a cookie bar recipe – one that she bakes for runaway slaves as they make their way through a local “station” of the Underground Railroad.  They’re running for their lives, and Savannah decides to sweeten their perilous journey with her baked goods.

The particular story I’m referencing is And Some for the Road, and this month I’m sharing “her” recipe – Savannah’s.  (The story begins on page 130, for those who have a copy of the book and are curious.  The cookie bars are mentioned specifically for the first time on page 137)  Here is the altered photo illustration of “Savannah”, just for fun.  I attached the handwritten cookie bar recipe to the vintage photo with red twine….

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And now, on to the recipe!

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Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bars Recipe
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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips OR 1 – 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, chocolate chips (or raisins) and nuts; mix well.  Press dough into the bottom of a greased 13″x9″ pan and bake for approximately 35 – 50 minutes.  Baking time will depend on whether you like your cookies softer or firmer.

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I hope you enjoy Savannah’s Starlight Cookie Bars.  Happy baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Orange Cranberry Muffins Recipe

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I opted to make muffins for this month’s recipe, and these Orange Cranberry muffins are tangy, fresh and sweet!  Inspired by a muffin I really enjoyed at Panera some time ago, I found this recipe on foodnetwork.com.  I particularly like that the recipe calls for dried cranberries, as it can be difficult to find fresh or frozen cranberries if it’s not fall or winter.  These muffins are yummy on their own, but would also be tasty with butter or fresh whipped cream.

ocmuffins

Orange Cranberry Muffins Recipe
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump.

Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

ocmuffin_detail

Note: I liked the dried cranberries, but will probably try fresh cranberries next time.  Please keep in mind that you’ll want to increase the measurement of cranberries if they’re fresh, since fresh berries take up more room in the measuring cup than dried…

Happy Baking!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe

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Are you familiar with Mavis at the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog? She is the Queen of Gardening and I seriously envy her yard and garden.  She featured this recipe on her blog in December, and I decided to give it a try.  Verdict?  Yummy!  The fact that it’s delicious and easy to make makes it a winner in my book.

Though Mavis dusted the top of hers with powdered sugar, I left mine plain. You know what would be yummy though?  Topping this cake with some cream cheese frosting.  You can find a recipe for the frosting here, on my Pumpkin Bars Recipe page.  You’d probably want to cut the frosting recipe in half though.

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Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe
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Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup of buttermilk ( I was a rebel and used regular milk)
1 cup sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Butter and flour an 8-in square baking pan and set aside.  You’ll want to do this even if you use a non-stick pan.  Trust me.
  • In a medium bowl combined the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until nice and smooth.  Mix in the applesauce and buttermilk, then add in the dry ingredients and mix again until everything is incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into your 8-inch prepared pan and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Happy Baking, y’all!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Biscuit Recipe

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Have I ever mentioned that I love biscuits?  Well, I do.  I really really do.  And, oddly enough, until very recently I’d never made them from scratch.  For someone that loves to bake and loves to eat biscuits it seems unlikely, but there you have it.

Now that I have made biscuits, and know how easy it is to have fresh biscuits on hand, there could be a problem.  But it’s a good problem to have, so I wouldn’t dream of complaining. Somehow I’ll muddle through.  ;]

As for what one puts on the biscuits, I haven’t gotten into the gravy thing.  Maybe that will come later. Thus far in my life I’ve enjoyed them plain, with butter, with honey, and with jam.  Yum-yum-yum-yum! Here’s the recipe I used to initiate myself as a biscuit baker.  I hope you enjoy it!

Biscuit Recipe
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Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP white sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk

Directions:
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  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.

Helpful Hints

  • Refrigerate the dough for about an hour before rolling it out.  This will make it easier to roll out and cut.
  • Make sure your rolling surface is adequately floured or you’ll end up with a sticky mess.
  • For easy cleanup, flour the inside surface of a full-size, rimmed cookie sheet and roll your dough out there.  The rim of the cookie sheet will help keep the flour contained and will make cleanup easier.
  • To make roughly six large biscuits, use a 3″ biscuit cutter.  A 2 1/2″ inch cutter will yield approximately 10 biscuits.
buttered_biscuit

How do you eat your biscuits, dear readers?  Savory?  Sweet?  Do tell.

Warm regards,
Melody

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Washi Tape & Cork Place Card Holders

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I was recently given a big bag of corks (Thanks, Megan!), and have started the fun process of coming up with things to create with them.  My first DIY with these corks is this set of place card holders.  These little beauties are fast and easy to make, and require few materials.  What’s not to love?

washi_placecard

Getting back to my bag ‘o corks, some of the corks are “natural” and some of them are made from foam and plastic.  Today’s project is made with the latter – the synthetic corks.  I found them to be more symmetrical, and therefore easier to wrap with the washi tape.  Washi tape is easy to work with, since it’s easy to peel up and straighten, and the color, pattern, and mix-n-match possibilities are endless!

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 Materials
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supplies

Synthetic corks
Washi tape
Xacto Blade
Cardstock
Pen

Directions
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  1. Wrap Washi tape around the cork.  The corks I used allowed for three “rows” of tape to be laid out next to each other, with a wee bit of overlap. You can use all one color, as I did on most of my corks, or mix and match, like I did on my black, white, and silver cork.
  2. Cut across the top middle of your cork with  your Xacto blade.  The cut should go all the way across the top, as shown, and should extend downward into the cork so the placecard can be slid down into the cork about 1/4 of an inch.
  3. Prepare the cards you’ll be displaying and carefully inset them into the cut foam slit. Make sure they’re centered so they don’t tip over.
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Not only are these super fast and easy holders perfect for place cards, they’re also great for labeling food and dessert platters.  You might also consider using them to hold cherished photos.
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Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear from you, dear readers.  Happy washi taping!
Warm regards,
Melody
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