Thursday, November 14, 2013

pina colada cupcake frosting party!

I had a request for pina colada cupcakes and went right to work experimenting with flavors and recipes to come up with something spectacular. I started by adding coconut & pina colada drink mix to an old fashioned pineapple upside down cake recipe. YUM! But the BIG STAR of the show was the pina colada FROSTING and that’s the recipe I want to share with you immediately.
It's SO delicious; I think I would scrap the cake & just serve shots of this frosting! It is the perfect tropical delight for those warm summer days by the pool cold winter evenings by the fire! Yes, it’s the middle of November & I’m STILL in denial that summer is over. One taste of this & I'm back to July! My recipe is alcohol free but you could definitely add rum or rum extract to the recipe for the authentic pina colada kick.
I used THIS non-alcoholic Master of Mixes Pina Colada Mixer & it’s so good. It’s basically lots of sugar, cream of coconut & pineapple juice. It’s available at most grocery stores. If you prefer not to use it, you may substitute equal parts of pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Another unusual frosting ingredient I used is Jello brand Coconut Cream Instant Pudding mix, just the dry powder, straight out of the box. 

Pina Colada Frosting
click here to print the recipe only
Yields: 3 cups frosting

1/3 cup dry Jello Coconut Cream Instant Pudding mix (a full box has about 1 cup)
1/3 cup pina colada drink mix
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon coconut extract or to taste (you may prefer 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
½ cup salted butter
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
4 cups confectioners sugar
OPTIONAL: ¼ teaspoon rum extract OR 2 teaspoons light rum

1.     In a small bowl, add instant pudding mix, pina colada mix, vanilla extract, coconut extract, pineapple juice & rum or rum extract, if using. Whisk together until thick and smooth. Set aside.
2.     In a large separate bowl, cream butter and shortening with electric mixer.
3.     Add pudding mixture to creamed butter mixture.
4.     Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed after each addition until smooth and fluffy. If thinner frosting is desired, add additional pineapple juice.

This makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, decorated as shown. I garnished them with toasted coconut*, fresh pineapple slices & well drained maraschino cherries. 

*To toast coconut in the microwave, place 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut on a paper plate, cook on high with set microwave for one minute. Don't walk away. Watch it like crazy & pull it out several times and stir it up and put it back in until perfectly toasted. It will take less than 2 minutes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

mini peach pie party!

I’m a sucker for PIES AND I’m a sucker for anything mini..SO with that combination, I’m turning into a MINI-PIE-MAKING-FOOL! These little pies are SO fun to make AND eat! I grew up living for that occasional Saturday morning trip to the Hostess outlet where my mom would always buy me a fruit pie (had to be cherry). And these are about 1,000 times yummier.
 My daughter bought me THIS Wilton mini pie press at Bed Bath & Beyond (never shop there without a 20% off coupon) for about $5 & I LOVE it. You could easily make mini pies without it though, see note at bottom of post for directions. They are super easy & SO DARN CUTE. You basically cut pie crust into rectangles, fill, press & bake. YUM!
I made homemade pie crust but you could DEFINITELY use a store bought refrigerated pie crust. I made a double recipe of my usual pie crust & it made the perfect amount for 8 mini pies.

I have a list of pies I’m planning to make with this little gadget including ham and cheese hot pockets, pepperoni and cheese pizza pies, apple pies, cherry pies & chicken pot pies. I also want to experiment with freezing them before baking so we can have fresh hot pie at a moment's notice. I’m pretty sure it’ll work. And I probably shouldn't admit this but I'm going to FRY some!

Mini Peach Pies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes 8 mini pies


Pastry for two standard 9 inch pies, rolled out but not baked (I doubled THIS RECIPE)
Fresh peaches, peeled, sliced and cut into bite sized pieces to measure 3 cups (about 4 small to medium peaches)
½ cup sugar (add an extra tablespoon if your peaches aren’t very sweet)
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on taste
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1 beaten egg to seal the edges of your pies
3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon to sprinkle on top of pies.


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for baking your pies. Have your pie crust dough prepared and rolled out but not baked. I rolled out half my crust, made 4 mini pies then rolled out the other half & made 4 more.

2.  In a medium bowl stir together the peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Place in a strainer. Save the juice to drizzle over the vanilla ice cream you serve with your pies.
3.  Cut pie crust into 4 1/2" x 3" rectangles. I cut it with a pizza cutter. You need two pieces of pie crust dough for each pie (top and bottom). I doubled the recipe of my pie crust and it made 16 pieces so 8 mini pies, perfectly.

4.  Press one piece of pie crust into the side of the mold with the crimped edges. (See the P.S. below if you don't have the mini pie press.)

5.  Top with 2 tablespoons of peach mixture. Place a little pat (less than a teaspoon) of butter on top of the peach filling.

6.  Brush edges of dough with beaten egg and lay second piece of dough on top. Close the pie press to crimp edges and seal pie. Trim excess dough if necessary.

7.  Remove mini pie from pie press and place on prepared baking sheet. Piece with a fork or cut slits into top crust to vent. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar mixture.

8.  Bake for 15 to 18 minute or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream drizzled with drained peach juice.
P.S. If you don't have the mini pie press just assemble the mini pies on your baking sheet: place a piece of pie crust on the baking sheet, spoon filling in the middle of the crust, add pat of butter, brush edges with egg, cover with top crust and seal edges with a fork all the way around. Vent, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar & bake.

Monday, September 2, 2013

frosted peanut butter cookies and a giveaway party!

Are you a certified peanut butter lover like my husband? He lives in fear of running out of PEANUT BUTTER. He likes it EXTRA crunchy and he eats it everyday.  He seriously gets upset if he thinks someone has touched his peanut butter. Trust me, I wouldn’t dare even think of getting between him and his pb! My main grocery duty is keeping the man in peanut butter and I do it well.

These cookies make him very happy even though, believe it or not, the cookies don’t have any actual peanut butter in them.  They are bursting with Reese’s peanut butter chips, plus frosted with creamy homemade peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.
 I adapted the recipe from a YUMMY bakery in Bountiful, Utah called Cutler’s Cookies. They teach cookie classes occasionally and very generously share their recipes.  All of their cookies are SO delicious! Two cookie baking tips I learned from the owner of Cutler’s is 1. They ALWAYS use cake flour. It makes their cookies SUPER soft and light. 2. They scoop the cookie dough onto parchment paper and freeze the cookie dough balls so they are always ready to bake a fresh batch at a moment’s notice. If they run out of cookies in the bakery case they can have more ready to sell in about 15 minutes. This cookie dough freezes perfectly & if you have it in an airtight container it will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you ever get a chance to go to Cutler’s they have three locations in Davis County, Utah. Besides cookies, they have gourmet sandwiches, homemade bread and delicious soups.

Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes about 20 large cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 ¼ cups cake flour
1 12 ounce bag Reese’s Peanut Butter chips
Peanut butter frosting, recipe below
Chopped peanuts or mini chocolate chips to garnish, if desired

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda until creamy.
3.    Add eggs and beat well.
4.     Mix in flour until just blended together. Stir in peanut butter chips.
5.    Using an ice cream scoop, drop on parchment-lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. They are large cookies so I only bake 6 at a time. 
     **Note: To freeze cookie dough to bake later: after scooping onto parchment lined cookie sheet and before baking, I stick the pan in the freezer for a few hours so they are individually frozen. Then I put the frozen cookie dough balls in a zip lock bag so I've got fresh cookies ready to pop in the oven at a moment's notice. Here is a batch going in the freezer to bake later.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. I always slightly underbake my cookies because I like them soft & gooey. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.
      7. Spread peanut butter frosting on cooled cookies & sprinkle with chopped
           peanuts or mini chocolate chips, if desired.

 Peanut Butter Frosting

½  cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk to thin for desired consistency

1.    Cream together butter and peanut butter.
2.    Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth.
3.    Add milk a tablespoon at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy.
AND...for those celebrating back to school or to cheer up those who aren't celebrating (like me), I'm giving away this SWEET handmade apron. My friend, Kim, made this and she is a VERY talented seamstress. The apron is ADORABLE! It is generously cut to fit all sizes; it's reversible with a deep pocket on both sides, has a cute ruffle at the bottom and coordinating ties at the neck and waist. Everyone is eligible for TWO entries, see directions below. Contest ends Saturday night, September 7 at midnight.
Contest is
26 total entries
And the winner is...
results powered by
Entry #9Lisa J.
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR PLAYING! CONGRATS LISA J.! Enjoy your new apron! I'm emailing you now.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

grandma clark's zucchini bread party!

I’m so thankful that I grew up with two sets of doting grandparents. I’m blessed to have known all of my grandparents and have many years and memories with them. My grandmothers couldn’t have been more different but they were both wonderful examples to me of living a simple life, having high morals and spreading seeds of love.
Today marks 7 years that my Grandma Clark has been in heaven. My grandparents met when grandpa was 6 years old and grandma was 4. Grandpa was in first grade; he went home that day and announced to his mother that he had met his future wife. They were engaged on Christmas day when grandma was a senior in high school. She spent the summer after her graduation making quilts, sewing pillowcases and canning vegetables to prepare for their wedding. They were married for 53 years before Grandpa passed away in 1992.

Grandma and Grandpa Clark lived on a 140 acre farm, their favorite book was The Bible and they believed that every meal should include bread and butter. Grandma loved having family over for lunch and you could count on lunch being at noon, straight up, 12:00, don’t be late. If you were lucky it would include her cubed steak and brown gravy. If you were really lucky it would include mashed potatoes and her famous chicken and noodles.

As a very young child one thing I loved about mealtime at Grandma Clark’s house was that they had SOFT margarine that came in a little plastic tub. Oh, it was very special, no wonder I licked it off my bread  and asked for more. No one else I knew had little plastic tubs of soft margarine. I would slather it on the cornmeal mush Grandma would fry for breakfast. I would wash it down with a big glass of orange TANG. It was full of sugar but Grandma served it for breakfast and I loved it.

She must have had a hundred of those little plastic butter tubs in her cupboard and she put them to very good use. They had a huge chest freezer in the basement and grandma would buy many different flavors of ice cream, her favorite dessert. She’d divide it into the plastic butter tubs and label it for individual servings. The freezer was full of ice cream in butter tubs and you would think you were at an ice cream parlor when she opened the heavy freezer lid. After dinner we would go to the freezer and ponder the flavors as grandma would read them to me. I would consider each one and take my time deciding, knowing there was no where else in the world to have this opportunity except at Grandma Clark’s house. I was just about as tall as the freezer and I can still feel the excitement I felt when the ice cold air hit my face, waiting a millisecond for the mini cloud of vapor to clear so I could see all of the little bowls of ice cream neatly labeled and stacked.  It was usually a battle between chocolate and butter pecan. Inevitably someone else at the dinner table would claim to have the same dilemma so I’d grab one of each and we’d split them both.

To remember Grandma today I made her delicious zucchini bread.  It’s simple with the perfect sweetness and full of cinnamon and walnuts. It freezes well and makes a great little after school snack or giveaway treat.
I love you, Grandma! My kitchen smells like yours tonight. xo
Grandma Clark's Zucchini Bread

click HERE to print recipe only


3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 cups shredded zucchini (I put the shredded zuke in a strainer and press the excess water out of it.)
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans 


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease loaf pans. I also like to line the greased loaf pans with greased parchment paper. 

 2. Beat eggs, sugar and oil. You can use an electric mixer but I use a whisk. 
3. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
4. Stir in flour. Batter will be VERY thick. If you started with a whisk, trade it for a wooden spoon. 

5. Stir in zucchini.  Stir in nuts.

6. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for 50 minutes to one hour. I baked it in two smaller loaf pans for 40 minutes and made 24 mini muffins, baked for 15 minutes. 

To test doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, it's done.

Grandma always served this with whipped cream. Enjoy!  

Friday, July 12, 2013

snickers ice cream cake party!

Go ahead, handcuff me and take me to jail. I'm guilty! This recipe is pretty much assault with a deadly weapon! It's got two layers of chocolate brownies, RICH peanut nougat ice cream, layered with chopped Snickers bars and drizzled with hot fudge and caramel sauce.

My daughter found the recipe on Pinterest & requested it. I happily accepted the challenge. Just a word of warning, it needs to be frozen for at least 6 hours. I tried to serve it after 2 hours because I am very impatient when it comes to dessert & it was a mess. We stuck it back in the freezer overnight & it was perfect! I'll make it a day ahead the next time. I'm pretty sure I've never used the word "decadent" on my blog. I was saving it for THIS!

Seriously, these ingredients could only mean...DANGER!!
Snickers Ice Cream Cake
recipe from

Brownie Layer
1 boxed brownie mix, mixed according to directions, batter divided in 2 and baked separately, in 2 layers in 8 inch springform pan.

Nougat Ice Cream
1/4 cup milk
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
8 ounce Cool Whip, thawed

Other Layers
1 16 ounce jar of hot fudge sauce, divided
1 16 ounce jar caramel sauce, divided
1 11.5 ounce bag mini Snickers, chopped and divided for 3 layers

You need to bake the 1 brownie mix into TWO layers. I only have one 8" springform pan so I divided the batter, baked half the batter in the pan, removed the baked brownie, washed the pan & then prepared the pan and baked the 2nd half of the brownie batter.


1. Grease an 8 inch springform pan & line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, cut into an 8 inch circle. Also grease the parchment paper.

2. Mix the brownie mix according to directions on box. Divide batter in half & bake 1/2 of the batter in an 8 inch springform pan. Set the other batter aside to bake when the first brownie is baked. Bake at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes.

3. Let brownie cool for a few minutes & remove sides from springform pan & place brownie on cooling rack. Wash springform pan. Grease pan, layer bottom with parchment paper, grease parchment paper and bake 2nd half of brownie batter for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Wash the springform pan again so it's ready to assemble the cake in.

4. Mix milk, cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter with electric mixer until combined.

5. Fold in cool whip.

6. Line the sides of the springform pan with parchment paper. The parchment paper needs to be higher than the edge of the pan because the cake will be taller than the rim of your pan. It was tricky for me to get the parchment paper to stay where I wanted it on the sides of the pan and it was a easier after I put the first layers in the pan. The brownie held the paper in place after I placed the first layer.

7. Place an 8 inch round cake board in the bottom of the pan. This is optional but I recommend it if you plan to move the cake off of the bottom of the springform pan to serve. If you don't care about moving the cake off the bottom of the springform pan to serve, you won't need the cake board.

8. Place a brownie layer in the bottom of the pan.

9. Pour 1/2 cup hot fudge sauce and 1/2 cup caramel sauce over the brownie. Top with 1/3 of the chopped snickers.

10. Top with half of the nougat ice cream.

11. Repeat steps 8, 9, and 10: layer brownie, caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, nougat ice cream.

12. Place cake in freezer for a minimum of 6 hours but can be made several days in advance, if wrapped well.

13. When ready to serve, remove cake from  springform pan and remove parchment paper from sides of cake.

14. Top with remaining chopped snickers and additional caramel and hot fudge sauce. Allow cake to sit out for 15-20 minutes before serving or it will be difficult to cut through. Cut with a hot knife. I heated a glass of water in the microwave, dipped my knife in the glass of hot water, wiped it dry & cut.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

coconut cream cake party!

Happy birthday to my husband, Mark! I won’t give away his age but I’ll tell you that he robbed the cradle when we got married 23 years ago. :) July birthdays are THE BEST! His is the 1st & mine is the 16th. We love celebrating our birthdays together & typically celebrate all month. German chocolate is Mark’s go-to birthday cake but I decided to change it up this year since I just made him a German chocolate cake for Father’s day a few weeks ago.
I got this recipe from our family cookbook that I compiled many years ago. It’s from my sister & it was her father in law’s favorite cake. The Graham family cookbook is one of my most special treasures. It includes recipes from my Grandma, like Granny's Sunday Possum (she’s a jokester, it’s BEEF!), my mom’s FAMOUS holiday dinner rolls and peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and LOTS of other delicious recipes from my siblings, aunts, uncles & cousins! I’m so lucky that my family LOVES to cook!

I think this coconut cream cake is going to become a tradition in our family too! It's super easy & delicious AND VERY RICH and starts with a cake mix. This is my favorite white cake mix & I used it for this recipe.
If you’ve never bought a can of cream of coconut, the stuff is AMAZING! Make sure you buy CREAM OF COCONUT and not coconut milk.  You can buy it at WalMart or the grocery store & it’s sold by the drink mixers, right by the margarita salt & the bloody mary mix. It may be somewhat solid (& alarming) when you open the can, don’t worry, after one bite you won’t care how it looks, go ahead have a taste, it's tropical paradise! You may need to liquify 1 cup of it to pour over the cakes by placing it in a bowl & microwaving it on low for a short time. If it’s solid, keep 1/2 cup solid for the frosting.
Coconut Cream Cake


1 15.25 ounce extra moist white cake mix
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup whole milk
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, divided (1 cup in cake mix, 1 cup to garnish frosted cake)
1 can sweetened cream of coconut, divided (The can contains 1 1/2 cups. 1 cup will be used to drizzled on the baked cakes and 1/2 cup will be used in the frosting)
3 cups coconut buttercream frosting, see recipe below OR your favorite buttercream frosting

1. Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. I used 9 inch but recommend 8 inch pans. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, egg whites, oil and milk on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in 1 cup flaked coconut.

4.  Pour into prepared pans.

5. Bake for 24-29 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

6. Place cakes on waxed paper or parchment paper. While cakes are still warm poke holes in the cake. I used a wooden chop stick.

6. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of cream of coconut onto the holes of each cake. If your cream of coconut is solid put it in a bowl and microwave it on low for 30 seconds to liquify it. DON'T pour it all in the middle of the cakes, pour it near the edges of the cake also and in all of the holes.You want it to be evenly distributed and not all soaked into the middle of the cakes. Allow the cake to completely cool. 

7. Place one cake layer on your cake plate. Spread 1 cup of frosting onto the cake. Place the 2nd cake onto the frosting and spread 1 cup frosting on the top and another cup of frosting on the sides of the cake. Garnish with additional cup of flaked coconut.
8. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Wilton

1 cup Crisco, solid vegetable shortening
1 cup butter, I use salted butter
1/2 cup cream of coconut, it's best if it's more solid than liquid. If it's liquid refrigerate it for awhile
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 cups confectioners sugar (approximately 2 pounds)
** 2-4 tablespoons milk

Cream butter, shortening & cream of coconut with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup  at a time, beating well after each addition on medium speed. Start mixer on slow speed after each addition to avoid a powdered sugar explosion/mess. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. ** If frosting is dry, add milk, as needed and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

You can also make this recipe without the cream of coconut & plan to use the milk.

This recipe makes more frosting than you will need to frost this cake. Refrigerate the extra frosting in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Re-whip leftover frosting before using.

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