Gingerbread Loaf Cake

When I first set out to make this cake, I knew it was going to be a total experiment. I’m sure there are still some adjustments to be made (like why did it fall in the middle?) but it actually turned out so good! It was fluffy and moist and full of Gingerbread/Christmassy flavor! And the frosting… oh my. Let’s all just take a moment and savor this cream cheese goodness that would be delicious on pretty much ANYTHING.
 

Last year, when I made gingerbread cookies, I gave a little history of the European origin of gingerbread, so I’m not going to get into all that again. Feel free to read up on last year’s post. And maybe make some cookies while you’re at it.

I like making this cake because it is a nice change of pace from the typical cookie you see a lot but you still get that familiar holiday flavor.

Gingerbread Loaf Cake

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ teaspoon ground ginger (you can add more if you want more ginger flavor)

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup molasses

½ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cream cheese icing:

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

Zest of one orange

Juice of half an orange

½ cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt. Set aside.

 

In another bowl, whisk together the softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Then add the molasses, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix well.

A little bit at a time, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool slightly and remove from the pan to cool more.

Meanwhile, for the icing: mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Then stir in the zest, juice, and cranberries.


When the cake is cooled, pour the icing on top. However much or little you want. 

 

Chop up a few extra dried cranberries and save a tiny amount of zest and sprinkle over the top of the frosting just for decoration. Let the icing set before cutting in and enjoying!

 

This is especially good with a cup of coffee!! (but then, what isn’t?)

 

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Pecan Pie

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my family was always a big pie family when I was growing up. I remember often having various pies at celebratory events and everyone has their own favorites. For example, I love chocolate cream (which is 100% a real pie, regardless of what my sister says) and my mom is a big fan of coconut cream—with no whipped cream, and lemon meringue—no meringue. My dad loves him some berry pie. I’m not sure what my brother’s favorite is, but I think he’s a berry fan also. Either way, we all love pie.

That means when it comes to Thanksgiving, we take dessert pretty seriously. There are always a few pies to choose from and we tend to stick with the traditional ones: Pumpkin, Pecan, and Apple. Sometimes we change them up a bit like making a pumpkin cheesecake or a chocolate pecan pie, but the traditional base is always there. 

This year will be no exception. I’ll be making a pumpkin pie, this pecan pie, and my sister-in-law is bringing a caramel apple pie that sounds devine (seriously, who doesn’t love that flavor combo?!).

I think sometimes people are intimidated by pies, but you don’t have to be. They are not that difficult and if you want to buy your crust to relieve some of the pressure, by all means go for it. I doubt anyone would notice. My favorite store-bought crusts are the ones you find in the freezer that are already in a dish.

I love all three of the Thanksgiving pies I mentioned, but I think pecan may be my favorite. Here’s my recipe for a delicious pecan pie: 

Pecan Pie

Pie crust (store-bought or homemade. If you use my recipe at that link, make sure you add about a tablespoon of sugar since this is a sweet pie.)

2 cups chopped pecans

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup whole pecans

Chop your pecans and set aside. You can buy them pre-chopped, which is fine, but you need the whole ones anyway, so it may be cheaper to just buy a bigger bag of the whole ones and chop some of them yourself. Also, I like chopping them myself because then I get different sizes some are teeny and some are just small, so it adds to the texture of the pie.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt your butter. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Add the salt, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk. In a small bowl, beat your eggs. Slowly add them into the corn syrup mixture and whisk until combined and smooth. Remember this is all off the heat. You don’t want to make scrambled eggs. 

Add your pecans and stir.

 

Pour the filling into your prepared pie crust and top with the whole pecans in whatever design you’d like. The filling is thick, so the pecans should just lay right on top.

 


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, or until the filling is set. 


TIP: Check about half way through. If the crust is already nicely browned, wrap it with some foil to keep it from burning while the rest of the pie finished baking. You can do this with any pie.

 

Serve with some whipped cream and enjoy!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving pie/dessert??

 

Apple Pie

So recently, my girl Amber over at What Makes Me Amber made a pumpkin pie. She said she had never made one before and that surprised her. It got me thinking about making something surprising that I hadn’t made before and I realized that I’ve never made an apple pie.

I know, right? Of all things, I’ve never made an apple pie. It seems so basic. Like, baking 101. Well, somehow this one escaped me. Since it’s Fall, I figured now would be the perfect time to try this one out. Let me tell you, it was super easy! Even the lattice crust was easier than I ever thought. And while it was baking… oh the smells wafting through my house were just heavenly! I wish there were someway to share that with you all, but alas, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.

1 double pie crust recipe. (store bought or homemade. You can use my basic crust recipe here, but add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Also, double it because you need a bottom and a top crust for this)

Filling:

6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced. I used a combo of Fuji and Granny Smith

juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all-spice
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a big bowl, add all of your filling ingredients and mix well to coat the apples. Set aside and let them sit for a few minutes.


Meanwhile, roll out half of your crust and put it in your pie pan.

Fill your crust with the apple mixture. Don’t forget all the juices that come out from letting them sit! Set aside.

Roll out the other half of your dough and either top your pie and cut out slits or, if you want a lattice crust, cut out strips. You don’t need a scalloped cutter to do this, you can just use a knife if you don’t have one.


To Lattice: Start out with all the strips in one direction, then fold back every other strip. Lay down one strip in the opposite direction. Fold the strips back over and fold back the other strips. Repeat, alternating strips, until the pie is complete.  If those instructions weren’t clear enough, you can watch a YouTube video like this one. (skip to the :35 mark).


Those little leaves are tiny cookie cutters. Totally optional, but adds a nice little touch.


Once the top crust is complete, bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft.


If you feel like your crust is getting to dark, you can loosely cover with some foil until the baking is complete.


Now, just serve up a slice (or two) and grab some ice cream!

Black Bean Brownies

Let me guess. The title of this post made you think I was crazy? Thought so. I thought I was crazy at first too, but I promise you all, Black Bean Brownies are totally a thing. 

I’m not a huge health food stickler and I am about as far from a granola mom as you can get, but I’ve been really looking into eating cleaner and removing unnecessary things from my life. That includes my food. I figure, if we (my family and I) eat cleaner and healthier the majority of the time, it won’t be as bad when we do go get a cheeseburger or a slice of pizza every once in a while.

So I began my research and in doing so discovered black bean brownies. At first I was super skeptical. I mean, how good could they be? They are made out of black beans, for crying out loud. But, I figured if they worked out, I’ve figured out a way to make brownies with no flour or butter and get extra fiber and protein into my kids. 

I’m so glad I stuck with it and made the brownies. They turned out delicious! And my kids loved them! They don’t even know they are full of beans!

I couldn’t really find any one recipe that I loved so I made my own. The whole thing makes 16 brownies at 160 calories a piece. There is still regular sugar in the brownies, but I’m not really very familiar with sugar substitutes yet. I did do a little research and you don’t really save too many calories on something like Agave syrup vs. Regular sugar. Everything in moderation.

I would definitely recommend making these. They are perfectly cakey and chocolatey. You would never guess they had beans in them. They are a great way to get added nutrients into your day, especially the kids. 

Black Bean Brownies

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 eggs

1 T coconut oil

¾ cup sugar

½ t salt

1 t baking powder

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided (you could use cocoa nibs too and save even more calories)

In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips until smooth.

Gently stir in ½ the chips and pour into an 8×8 greased baking dish. Top with the rest of the chocolate chips and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 

My sweet tooth will be my downfall, dear readers. If there is any candy or chocolate or cookies lying around, I’ll definitely be sneaking nibbles here and there… and here again. Ice cream in the freezer? Forget about it. It’s a wonder I’m not a 500-pound diabetic.

My husband, however, is the opposite. As far as sweets are concerned, he can take ‘em or leave ‘em. He’ll have a bite or two every so often, but his self-control is admirable. And possibly inhuman. I’ll have to check into that.

Since I love sweets and I love to bake, him not really caring one way or the other makes it a bit difficult when I want to make something. Sure the kids can have some too, but I don’t want them scarfing down sweets all the time. Usually, it means my co-workers benefit. I make sweet things, leave them in the breakroom and watch them disappear. Nothing goes to waste and I get my fix of both eating the sweets and making them.

That being said, I did not take this pie to work. It stayed in my fridge while I took bites out of it here and there… and here again. It was so good. Like really, so good. You know what, just try it for yourself. You’ll see. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Chocolate cookie crust (you can make your own, but I bought mine. Still amazing.)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter
1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Remove it from the bowl and set it aside.

Back in the mixer, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until combined and creamy.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. It will now be almost like peanut butter mousse. In fact, that is what it will be called going forward because doesn’t that sound marvelous?!

Pour the peanut butter mousse into the prepared pie crust and smooth out.

Put it in the fridge to set up for about 30 minutes or so.

Now, at this point, I melted half a bag of chocolate chips and poured it over the top. This was big mistake and I felt it as soon as I poured the chocolate. What I should have done was heat up some heavy cream and add some chocolate chips and make a ganache.

How I did it, ended up with a thick, hard, chocolate shell that made it difficult to cut and was way too rich. After the chocolate hardened, I ended up just removing the shell. I just popped right off.

You can always drizzle chocolate over the top or make a real ganache, but honestly, the pie was better after I took the chocolate off the top. The peanut butter mousse filling was heavenly and the chocolate crust was plenty of chocolate to complement the peanut butter.

I’m thinking this mousse would make a really good cake filling too. Or you know, just in a bowl with a spoon….

No-bake Lemon Cream & Raspberry pie

Growing up in my family meant eating a lot of pie. We had our share of other desserts, but when it came to special occasions, we did eat a lot of pie. Apple, strawberry, boysenberry, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, coconut cream. You name it, we had it.

 I love all of them, but my favorite pie is chocolate cream. This, however, has led to many a discussion between my sister and me about whether or not this is actually a pie. In her opinion, it is pudding in a crust. I said, by that definition, then strawberry pie is just strawberries in a crust. And what about chicken pot pie and quiche? Where do they fit in? This has turned into a very circular argument, with neither of us willing to cede our opinion.

For the love of sisterhood and pie, we’ve agreed to set our differences aside and agree to disagree.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t make enough pie. I don’t know that there’s a rule for this, but I feel like, as a self-proclaimed food blogger, I should be making more pies. Well, good news for you, my tens of readers. I made a pie last night. It was super yummy, and best of all, really easy!

I may have exaggerated a little bit when I called this a No-Bake lemon pie, because I did bake the graham cracker crust, but you don’t have to. You can just put it in the fridge and use it that way or you can buy a premade one from the grocery store (and then it would be even easier!) Just do whatever your heart desires with your crust.

 For this pie, you will need:

 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 jar of lemon curd (can be found at the grocery store near the jelly/jam)

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup of powdered sugar (more if you want it sweeter)

Frozen raspberries (or really any frozen berry you like)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until it resembles wet sand. Pour into a pie dish and spread out evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes then let cool completely. I put mine in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. Or you can buy a store-bought graham cracker crust and skip all this.   

  

While your crust is cooling, prep your filling. In a mixing bowl, whip your heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. In a medium bowl, dump out the contents of a 10.5 oz jar of lemon curd and add half of the whipped cream. Gently fold the two ingredients together until well combined. Don’t stir because you’ll deflate your whipped cream. Just gently fold. Set aside

  
  

In another bowl, defrost your berries in the microwave. I put them in for about 2 minutes. They were thawed, not warm, and contained a lot of yummy liquid.

Add the berries to a blender and blend well with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Set aside.

  
  

Time to assemble.

Pour the lemon cream filling into the cooled pie crust.  
  

Spoon a circle of the berry puree on top of the lemon.

  
Add the rest of the whipped cream to a ziploc bag (or piping bag, if you have one) and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe the cream around the outer edge of the pie. Or, really, you can put the whipped cream on however you want. It’s your pie.

    
   

After we had our dessert, I actually put the leftover pie in the freezer. It was really good that way too. A little like ice cream pie.

Fair warning, that while this pie is really delicious, it is really tart! I’m sure you could add more sugar to counter-balance the tartness from the lemon curd, but that’s up to you and your tastebuds. I thought it was just right. The hubby and my 2 year old also loved it. (The 5 year old was too busy with Paw Patrol to care.)

I’m sure even my sister would like it, even though she might not classify it as a real pie :0)

Cake Mix Cookies

I discovered cake mix cookies a few years ago and I wondered where they’d been my whole life. They are an amazing addition to any busy mama’s arsenal. Need a last minute batch of cookies? Cake mix cookies. Want a sweet treat for the kids (or yourself, let’s be honest here) but don’t want to dirty a ton of dishes? Cake mix cookies. Cake mix on sale at the grocery store? Cake mix cookies.

Cake mix cookies are super quick and easy, and they turn out soft and moist and completely delicious.

All you need is a box of cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Mix everything together and drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes. I get about a dozen decent sized cookies out of a box.

See? Easy Peasy!
I made this batch with Funfetti mix because I had it on hand, which is strange because I never have Funfetti cake mix on hand.

Other really yummy flavor combinations are German Chocolate cake mix with pecan/coconut frosting, yellow cake mix with mini chocolate chips, Red Velvet cake mix with cream cheese frosting. The possibilities are endless!