Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut Recipe

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Can I say that you are in for one of the biggest treats ever? Shaina, from Food For My Family, is one of my foodie idols and I cannot believe she is going to be sharing her voice here on MomAdvice as a regular contributor! Her photos are always a delight for the eyes and her whole foods philosophy on a budget is just why I selected her to share with you.  

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut #recipe via MomAdvice.com

I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gone out for doughnuts in any given year. It’s a once-in-a-while treat, a special outing. There’s something about walking into a doughnut shop, the bell on the door tinkling after you. In a case behind the glass you find soft fried dough rolled in sugar crystals or glazed with a sparkling gleam, the warm air carried under your nose with the distinct softness of melting sugar and browning dough.

Doughnuts are winter foods, best consumed when frosty air is blowing outside. A doughnut and a cup of coffee or cocoa somehow makes the world feel warmer, the walls lean in a bit tighter to hug you in the center of this pocket of comfort you’ve created.

It was this idea, this contentedness that I chased on a day off school with my kids. Doughnuts are all about waiting and patience, but the payoff at the end is worth every second it takes to get there.

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut #recipe via MomAdvice.com

We gathered in the kitchen, all arms and hands and bodies huddled around the mixer, each measuring and dumping one ingredient after another to form the dough, soft and supple. In our hands we worked it before tucking it away as they went to play. Soon it was time for the shaping, and with a special cutter in hand, they each formed the rings and placed them on a baking sheet so we could again wait as they puffed in their warmed-oven home.

When the time came, in a bit of oil we fried each one to a golden perfection, our home instantly mirroring that doughnut shop smell. Small fingers ran through sugar as doughnut holes were rolled until coated. We stirred together glazes and dipped them in before sprinkling them with all manner of pantry goodies, licking the drips from fingertips.

Tips for doughnuts with your kids:

  • Have them measure and mix.
  • Teach little arms how to knead.
  • Rolling balls and cutting doughnuts is a fun and exciting job.
  • Leave the frying to the big kids and the adults.
  • Decorating is definitely a kid-approved job.
  • Eating is a family affair.

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut #recipe via MomAdvice.com

These doughnuts are dipped in a lime-kissed glaze and covered in crisp coconut flakes. You can simply roll slightly cooled doughnuts in granulated sugar for a more classic take, or you could get fancy and make filled doughnuts and long johns with this same dough recipe.

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, dessert
Serves: 10
 
Raised doughnuts with a lime-kissed glaze, sprinkled with coconut flakes.
Ingredients
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose or einkorn flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 16 ounces organic palm oil or other oil for frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and the vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
  2. Add in the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast, and mix with your hands or using a dough hook on the stand mixer until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead 10 - 11 times for the dough to come together.
  3. Return the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel or piece of plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled. Cut 20 or so 4-5" squares of parchment paper while you wait.
  4. Once the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl and roll it to about 1½" thick. Cut 3-4" rings from the dough. Place each ring on a small square of parchment. Place the dough rings on baking sheets and cover loosely. Place doughnuts holes 3-4 on each piece of parchment.
  5. Once all the doughnuts have been cut and covered, let them rise for at least one hour until they have puffed considerably.
  6. In a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil to 350º F. Once the oil is hot, add in the doughnuts, about four at a time. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  7. Remove the doughnuts to a baking rack to drain and cool slightly.
  8. In a shallow bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and the lime juice, starting with 2 teaspoons until a thick but still fluid consistency is reached. Dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze. Immediately sprinkle with coconut flakes and allow to set.

Coconut Lime Raised Doughnut #recipe via MomAdvice.com

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Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

 

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so I wanted to share a fun recipe for Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies that you could create as a fun treat to give or to share with those you love.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Walmart asked me to create a Valentine’s Day treat with one of their exclusive products they carry. Since I am such a big M&M fan, I decided to use their Red Velvet M&M’s in my recipe.

Do you ever have a really hard time with a recipe and then later wonder if it had ever been tested? That was the case with this project from start to finish. These cookies were supposed to be simple and straightforward, but the recipe ended up being written completely wrong. Thankfully for you, I spent a whole day figuring out what went wrong with this one and how we can fix it so that you can have an awesome baking day!

Please read this post carefully, I am offering you a load of tips for a successful baking day!! 

Are M&M’s Gluten-Free?

Let’s begin with the question, are M&M’s gluten-free? The answer is that most M&M’s are gluten-free. In fact, most of the varieties they typically carry, other than their pretzel variety, are gluten-free.

What I found with the Red Velvet M&M’s though are that they are gluten-free, but in high times of production, like Halloween & Valentine’s Day, Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy and some of those may introduce cross-contamination risks. These Red Velvet M&M’s are ones that could have been cross-contaminated. If this is of high concern, look for the plain M&M’s, preferably mini-M&M’s to help your dough hold up better. 

It is always important to read your labels carefully and know that Mars Chocolate always promises to call out any wheat, barley, and rye ingredients by name, as well as any cross-contamination risks on their labels. I recommend this information page for finding which Valentine’s Day candies are safe to eat.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Tips for a Successful Dough

As, I am a big fan of the Betty Crocker cake mixes, I used this to create my cookies.  As you can see when I mixed the ingredients together, this dough is very crumbly. To help make this dough really hold and stick together, add 3-4 teaspoons of water to the dough, until it really comes together. This will help when slicing your sugar cookie rolls.

The recipe that was written did not add this to the dough and so when I sliced them, the cookie dough crumbled. I had to add my water later and chill them again for another three hours. Once I sliced with the liquid addition, the dough held much better.

If you need these cookies to be dairy-free as well as gluten-free, please read the notes in the recipe on how you can create these without the butter.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Tips for a Successful Sugar Cookie Log

One more thing, I learned while creating this cookies is that it is better to make your sugar cookie roll WITHOUT the M&M’s in it and then add them to your cookies after so you can get beautifully clean slices.

Trying to cut through these Red Velvet M&M’s was a real challenge so I would encourage adding them after or just doing these cookies as a drop cookie. To do a sugar cookie roll, as pictured above with M&M’s, seek the mini varieties. Again, read the packaging carefully to insure that they are safe for eating.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Wrap your sugar cookie roll in wax paper and chill for three hours or more. Once you are ready to bake off your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then slice them and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or a well-greased cookie sheet. I prefer parchment paper, both for the ease of clean-up and how beautifully these cookies will set up.

Allow these to cool and then transfer. These cookies are very delicate in texture so you will want to give them plenty of time to set up. 

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

What Do They Taste Like?

These cookies are so delicious that you will NEVER know that they are gluten-free. The dough is so flavorful and the healthy dose of vanilla in the batter makes these taste like a cookie dough that you truly slaved over. The addition of the candies adds that yummy chocolate flavor that I think every good cookie should have.

With these helpful tips, I hope you will have a successful baking day and hope that this easy treat idea will help as you plan your own Valentine’s Day treats this year!

Can I Freeze These?

Cookies can be frozen! It is recommended that you wrap them in aluminum foil or in a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Let the cookies thaw on the kitchen counters overnight before serving.

What Other Ways Can I Spice Up These Cookies?

If you can’t have chocolate, there are many other ways you can spice these easy cookies up.

Add Sprinkles- Lightly beat one egg white and brush the tops of your cookies with it, then sprinkle with gluten-free sugar sprinkles.

Add Zest- Add 1 teaspoon of grated lemon, orange, or key lime zest

Switch Your Extract- Try a different extract in your dough like almond or butter

Make It Spicy- Add a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, or dust the tops with the egg white & a cinnamon & sugar combo.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Cake mix cookies that can be gluten-free and dairy-free for a fun treat to share for any holiday.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter- if dairy-free replace with vegetable shortening, MELTED
  • 1 large egg
  • 3-4 teaspoons warm water, just until you see your dough pull together
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup M&M's or read the post for other ways to spice up these cookies
Instructions
  1. Place the cake mix, butter (or vegetable shortening), egg, water, and vanilla in your mixing bowl and beat on low speed until well-combined.
  2. Using a spatula fold in the M&M's (if mini-sized) or reserve to press these into each cookie after they have been cut (if large-sized)
  3. Place the cookie dough on a sheet of wax paper and then press with your hands to form a long,approximately 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Tightly roll the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets well or cover these in parchment paper.
  5. Unwrap the dough and transfer to a cutting board and slice them in ¼-3/8" slices.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges,7-10 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies fully cool before transferring.

walmart_mom_disclaimer

Have you ever made gluten-free cake mix cookies? Do you have any tips for beginning gluten-free bakers on ways to increase success with cake mix cookies?

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Winter Activity Idea: Baking With Kids

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Today is my 36th birthday and someone special wanted to bake me cupcakes for my special day. We decided to test-drive the new Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and wanted to offer some pointers for getting your kids in the kitchen… so they can bake your birthday cake.

Aren’t I a smart mom?

Walmart asked me to share a beloved winter activity with you that we do with our kids. Of course, one of my favorite activities in the winter is baking. What I appreciate most about my kids is their enthusiasm for learning and helping in my kitchen.

Cooking together can teach your kids so much. Here are just a few lessons we worked on while baking a cake together.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Builds Reading Skills

One of the best parts about having your kids help you in the kitchen is that they can practice their reading skills. With picture tutorials on the back of many box mixes, it can help beginning readers navigate the ingredient list and list of supplies needed to cook.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Builds Math Skills

Cooking with your kids isn’t only helpful in just the reading department.  In fact, the biggest challenge for me as a chef involves all that math that goes into recipes. For young kids, understanding fractions and measurements of the ingredients can be tricky, but can offer an important lesson.

Don’t just have them do the measuring, but explain all those different spoon sizes or read the packaging of the butter to have them figure out how much a 1/2 cup equals.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Can Lead to Independence

One of the hardest things I have found about being a parent is having the patience to let them do it themselves. It is the same patience that I needed when teaching them to tie their shoes, to clean up after themselves, and to help in the kitchen. Yes, it is so much faster for me to just do it myself, BUT when they become adults, how will they ever know how to do anything if their mama always did it for them?

Instead of using things like stand mixers and big appliances to get the jobs done in the kitchen, invest in the time of having them mix and beat things by hand or with hand mixers. Allow extra time when cooking with your children to give them time to figure things out themselves and to create it on their own.

 

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Can Build Confidence

When we eat the food our  kids make we do a lot of oohing and ahhing over it. Really take in the details of their work and compliment them on their presentation and flavors of their dish.

We have always tried to do this with our kids and I get such a kick out of them when I hear them mimicking back to me what a great job I have done on dishes or on the flavors of the foods I put together for them.

 Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix

For those that asked about this Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix, I will be honest, and say that it really hit the spot. We baked these at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes and the cake was surprisingly light and resembled a sponge cake texture. The cake mix yielded 12 cupcakes and the cost on the mix was just $4.58.

When I shared about it on Facebook, friends chimed in with recommendations like adding a pudding mix to the cake or even a little extra vanilla, to boost the flavor. I am definitely going to have to try these additions! Layered with a thick layer of chocolate frosting though, and my daughter’s signature sprinkles, this cake was truly delicious.

If you are hosting a birthday party or need to bring in a gluten-free treat to school, I would highly recommend this cake mix for a fast and easy treat. The only difference  between making this and traditional boxed cake mixes is adding softened butter versus the oil.

Burkina Faso Fundraiser

On a personal note, I also wanted to thank you all for helping me celebrate my birthday this year by funding our wells for Burkina Faso. At this point, I am the proud owner of ONE WELL of clean water, which will give water to ONE THOUSAND people, through your donations. I am also almost halfway to my SECOND WELL. Can you believe that? In just three short days, we have collected almost $3,000 dollars! 

burkina_faso_collage_2

We still need to collect $1,000 for our second well. You can donate as little as $2 towards our cause. Here are four things you could “give up,” this week to help me give clean water to women & children. Just think of the lives you can help me save this week!

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!! It has been the best year yet!

 

walmart_mom_disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

In honor of MomAdvice.com’s tenth birthday, I wanted to share this recipe for an easy chocolate chiffon cake made with peppermint buttercream frosting, perfect for celebrating our special day with you. This chocolate chiffon cake is made from a cake mix and the homemade peppermint buttercream frosting is the perfect use of any leftover holiday candy canes you might have in your home.

10 Year Celebration

Since this is my own birthday week, we decided to devote this week towards celebrating this incredible milestone. Tomorrow I will be revealing our best giveaway yet and I will be calling upon you to help me fulfill our site’s birthday wish. I can’t even believe that the site has now been around a decade! Someone pinch me please!

In the meantime, let’s talk about making a birthday cake for our celebration.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

Truth be told, this is my sweet little girl’s birthday pick this year. It is a family tradition that the birthday child gets to pick their birthday cake each year from my big stack of cookbooks. She had her heart set on a chocolate chiffon cake, but the one that was featured in the cookbook was a bundt cake and I knew she was looking for that traditional layered cake that makes all parties special.

I did some web searching and figured out how to make this into a layered cake and then frosted it with a beautiful peppermint buttercream frosting to finish it off. We had to tint it pink though…this is after all, Emily’s birthday.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

I am a very humble cake decorator so I relied upon a few yarn pom poms on skewers to create a little cake banner over her cake. Peppermint candies crushed on top also act as a great eye distractor from my sad frosting skills.

Hey, a mom can’t be great at everything

 

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint FrostingChocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint FrostingChocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint FrostingChocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

We popped our cake in a cake carrier and transported it to Grand Rapids, Michigan where we took a family holiday in lieu of gifts this year. We got to celebrate Emily (just the four of us) and enjoyed several days of seeing the sites while enjoying a cozy cabin away from it all. I made my daughter’s birthday dinner request (a giant helping of Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein) and a  delicious slice of birthday cake was enjoyed by all. And I do mean ALL.

My husband, who seems to hate cake for some reason, wanted a second slice and the whole family agreed that this was the perfect birthday cake. The cake tastes so light and airy and the buttercream had just a hint of mint that added a creamy finish to the top of the slice.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening celebrating.

Now that we have covered the cake, tomorrow we will be covering the GIFTS.

Please come back tomorrow to see our big surprise!

Here’s a hint… this gift will help a thousand people! ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE.  Have I grabbed your interest yet?

See you tomorrow for the big reveal! 

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
A beautiful chiffon cake made from a boxed cake mix and laced with peppermint icing for the perfect duo of chocolate & mint.
Ingredients
  • 5 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 3½ cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup crushed peppermint candies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set aside two greased 8" cake pans.
  2. Place the egg whites & cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Beat with your mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form (approximately 2-3 minutes). Set aside.
  3. Place the cake mix, water, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat these until incorporated.
  4. Turn the egg whites out on top of the batter and fold it in until the mixture is light, but well combined.
  5. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly touched with your fingers, approximately 45-50 minutes.
  6. Invert them immediately and allow the cakes to cool for one hour upside down.
  7. Remove them from the cake pan and place them right side up again.
  8. Place the butter, peppermint extract, and 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  9. Blend to incorporate and slowly add in the remaining sugar and remaining milk. If the frosting seems too stiff, add in an additional tablespoon of milk.
  10. Decorate with crushed peppermint candies on top.

 

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Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

*This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers

Each year, I find myself coming to the topic of simplifying the holidays.  Don’t we just all wish this time of year was a little easier?  Despite my best efforts to simplify, it can feel impossible in the midst of the kid’s holiday programs, get togethers, shopping, wrapping, sending of cards, gift-giving, & holiday baking.

I don’t want to brag, but this year we really did achieve that simple holiday we have been longing for and I am partnering with Ritz to share how you can avoid the parade of endless holiday to-do’s and instead embrace a simpler holiday.

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Giving of Holiday Cards

 

I love, love, love having pictures that I am in and having someone else take them for me, but we lost track of time and weren’t able to book our usual family session. Instead of not sending cards, I set my camera up on a tripod and we took our family shot by setting the timer on our camera and having me jump into the family picture.   By getting everything set up in advance before my family came outside, we were able to get our picture in a mere five minutes.  Before everyone had their coats off, I had our photos edited and cards in the mail. The best part is that we have moved our family session to the Spring, a time of year we decided was much less chaotic, and will really enjoy it all a little bit more.

I will admit that I was also was more laid back about how we did our cards this year and enlisted one of my favorite helpers to assist me in this year’s mailing. Not only was she excellent at adding our stamps and sealing the envelopes, but she also kept me on track because she was waiting for me to get those addresses on so she could do her part with them.  It gave us time to chat while we were doing them and ended up being fun instead of a holiday chore this year.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Simplify the Holiday Baking

 

This year we decided to skip the big baking day and make easy treats instead. Although I usually love holiday baking, this year I focused more on creating knitted gifts than my typical holiday treat box. Fortunately, we found a fun holiday treat that we could make that didn’t require a bit of baking, but was just as delicious. On the Ritz Holiday Parade site, we found an easy recipe for Mint Thins to create together that tasted just like one of our favorite cookie treats, but were made with Ritz Crackers, chocolate, and crushed candy canes.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

It just goes to show that making holiday treats doesn’t have to be an elaborate baking day. My kids loved helping to crush (and eat!) the candy canes for our cookies and we enjoyed eating these while watching, “A Christmas Story,” this year. Yet another simple and easy tradition is born!

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Gift Giving

 

I often talk about our commitment to do the Four Gift Rule, but this year we took it a step further and asked the kids if they would like to skip the presents and just take a family adventure together. We gave them lots of options for places we could take a mini-vacation to and they chose a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan for our holiday getaway. We are so excited to take in all of the museums, holiday lights, ice skating, and see the sites of the city.

If your kids are struggling to come up with gifts this year or your home is overrun with just too much stuff, consider creating your very own, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” vacation in lieu of gifts. Not only did I have a lot less to buy this year, but I also get to spend four days with my family making incredible memories that I hope they will remember forever.

Start planning and dreaming ahead for next year though because those vacation rentals do go quickly!

 Ritz Parade Float

Focus On the Fun

 

Ritz wants to bring back the fun for the holidays and this year they have created a fun interactive Ritz Parade where you can visit the site and build your very own float. You can add up to twelve items on your float from toys, characters, celebrations, and banners. The pieces can be scaled to your desired size and placed anywhere on your float. Once it is complete, you can share your holiday float with others. It’s a fun little interactive tool that you can use to keep the kids busy while you are putting those last minute touches on those holiday festivities. Since we adopted a cat this year, we loved making a float of her for our holiday parade. I am sure this illustrates just how special she has become to all of us!

In addition, the Ritz parade allows consumers to unlock deals to help decrease the stress of gift buying! You can check out all the deals here!

For a little added holiday fun, check out how Ritz surprised shoppers with a fun rap. Get it? Rapping Wrappers!!

 

Happy Holidays, friends!

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy Mint Thin Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Looking for a quick holiday treat to share that doesn't require any baking? You must try these delicious Mint Thin "Cookies." You won't believe how good or easy these are to make (and eat!)
Ingredients
  • 2 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 36 RITZ Crackers
  • 1 candy cane (6 inch), crushed
Instructions
  1. Mix chocolate and extract.
  2. Dip crackers in chocolate mixture, turning to completely coat each cracker. Carefully scrape off excess chocolate.
  3. Place crackers in single layer on waxed paper-covered baking sheets; sprinkle with crushed candy.
  4. Refrigerate thirty minutes or until chocolate is firm.

 

This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers. I’ve received compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies

Monday, November 11th, 2013

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

The holiday preparation continues this week on the blog. Today  I want to showcase 5 easy ways to decorate store-bought pies for the holidays. Supermarket pies can still look beautiful and will taste even better with my ideas for some fun toppings and additions.

Walmart challenged me to share a fun Thanksgiving project with you and I knew that this was a topic that I have been thinking about a lot. Although we have a fantastic pumpkin pie recipe on here and even a step-by-step picture tutorial for making the perfect pie crust, I know that many of us just don’t have the desire to tackle pie baking. This post is especially for you and I hope you can create a swoon-worthy dessert table that will leave people guessing if you made those pies or not.

Spiced Whipped Cream

Add a Delicious Homemade Topping

Although your pie may not be homemade, your toppings can really stand out with just a few simple ingredients that will add a lot of flavor to your pie. One of my favorite toppings is a Spiced Whipped Cream that gets its hint of spices from ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and a little sugar. It is the perfect accompaniment to your store-bought pumpkin or pecan pies for the holidays.
Cranberry Crunch Pie ToppingAnother idea for layering on the flavors is to add texture through a fun crunchy pie topping. One of our favorites that I created for our pies last year was an easy Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping made from amaretto cookies and fresh cranberries.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.Add Unique Details

One of the greatest tools that I got for my holiday baking this past year was a set of piecrust cutters that I found on Williams Sonoma. Not only are these great tools to keep handy for masking any flaws on your homemade crusts, but they can double as a great detail to adorn store-bought pies.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Purchase pie crust from the refrigerated section of the store and then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Dip your cutters in a little flour and then push down and press these cutters to create your shape. Bake these adorable details in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Allow these to cool and then decorate the tops of your pies with these.

These little details are also so pretty to sprinkle on your dessert table and add that extra festive touch.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Make a Mini Pie Spread

When I spotted these adorable mini pies in the bakery section, I knew this would be another fun spin on pies to try for the holidays. These mini pies are only $.68 each and come in a variety of flavors year-round. For smaller families, these store-bought pies offer the perfect serving size and give everyone exactly what they love the most.

Adorn these with the smaller size pastry cutouts and add a bowl of spiced whipped cream in the center so that everyone can create their own pie experience.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Give the Gift of Pie

One of my favorite things to give as a hostess gift is a sweet treat for their hospitality. Nothing is sweeter than a little individual treat just for me after entertaining, at least that is my opinion, and one of my favorite gifts to give happens to be my little peppermint cheesecakes in a jar.

If you are short on time though, consider purchasing these mini pies as hostess gifts for the holidays. Dress it simply in some festive ribbon and tie a bow around it to create a sweet little gift to give for the holidays.

At just $.68 each, these are a sweet way to say thank you without spending a lot.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Create a Beautiful Display

I love that when I posted a picture of this pie display on Instagram & Facebook that people were asking if this was even real. I think it really goes to show that with a few easy details and staging, you can take store-bought pies to another level.

With this display I used mismatched cake stands in varying heights to create a display. Don’t be afraid to drape a cloth napkin over a stand to make it cohesive or even create a stand out of a teacup and plate and cover it with the cloth napkin, if you are short on serving pieces. If you have multiple dishes out, consider adding these cute chalkboard label frames to help people navigate the dessert table.

Sprinkle pastry cutouts along the tablecloth to decorate the display and pull in leaves, bare branches, or create a unique centerpiece like I did this year to add some color to the table.

I hope these ideas are inspiring and that you will find a new way to love store-bought pies this year with these creative details!  Oh, and enjoy all that free time you have now that you aren’t baking this year.

Winning!

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Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeIf there is one flavor we love around here it is snickerdoodle. Today I wanted to share an easy recipe for a chocolate snickerdoodle cake that you will flip for. This chocolate snickerdoodle cake is coated in a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting and adorned in a dusting of dark chocolate candy that adds that perfect finishing touch.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeThis week we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday. In lieu of an elaborate themed dinner and event, he had a sleepover with his best friend and we invited our family over for this cake and for a red, white, & blue trifle to celebrate.

I am the worst cake decorator known to man and produce some of the ugliest, most lopsided, and crumbiest looking cakes ever. I finally found the trick for me was to buy two 8″ Wilton pans (affiliate)  (instead of those 9″ pans that produced flat layers for me) and a good spatula (affiliate). This cake was put together in an hour and the prettiest cake I’ve ever made (if I do say so myself!). It is amazing what a little investment in tools can produce.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeAs is tradition, the birthday kid gets to pick their cake from my cookbooks every year. When Ethan selected this cake, I just knew it would be a hit. This cake is moist, rich, and laced in cinnamon. What makes the cake really taste delightful though is the light cream cheese frosting that it is coated in.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake

Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A rich chocolate cake laced with that snickerdoodle cinnamon flavor that our family loves!
Ingredients
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For frosting: 1 package low-fat cream cheese (8 ounces), at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3½ cups confectioners's sugar
  • Dark chocolate candy bar for grating on top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" pans and set aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, oil, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend for three minutes, or until well-blended.
  3. Pour evenly into two pans, smoothing with spatula.
  4. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Remove and allow to cool for ten minutes. Remove from pans & then cool for another 30 minutes.
  5. Place the cream cheese & butter in a mix bowl. Blend until combined. Add sifted cocoa powder, cinnamon, and confectioners sugar, and finally vanilla. Blend until combined and icing looks fluffy. Add an additional ¼-1/2 cup confectioners' sugar if needed.
  6. Ice cake and dust with dark chocolate candy bar shavings to finish.

Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor (affiliate)

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Summer Party Fun: How to Host a S’more Toppings Bar Party

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

If there is one thing we love about summer, it is our s’mores. Today I wanted to showcase a s’more toppings bar that you can create for a summer party and share some unexpected s’more flavor combinations you can try on your s’more toppings bar.

Walmart challenged me to create a summer party that anyone could replicate with just $25 in supplies. I wanted to host an evening for my girlfriends with a s’more toppings bar.

I love that this idea is easy, requires no cooking, and you can even encourage each of your friends to bring their own favorite topping or a drink to share. I displayed my toppings in inexpensive ice cream bowls that you can find over in the seasonal section of the store for a buck each!

S’more Toppings Bar Ideas & Combinations

 

Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Nutella

Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Dark Chocolate

Marshmallow, Strawberries, With Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Bars

Marshmallow, Bananas, & Nutella

Marshmallow, Strawberry, Banana, & Nutella

Marshmallow & Reese’s Cups

Flavored Marshmallows (Butterscotch, Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl, or Key Lime)

Andes Mints With Marshmallow

Lemon Curd & Marshmallows (hellooo, lemon meringue pie!!)

Marshmallow, Apple Slices, & Cinnamon

Marshmallow, Biscoff Spread, & Apples

Marshmallow & Biscoff Spread

Chocolate Graham Crackers, Marshmallow, & Strawberries

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

It was such a fun night and everyone walked away with a new favorite s’more combination.  If you have a load of toppings, you can write titles next to them or give your guests a helpful cheat sheet of suggestions to put together after roasting their marshmallows. Kraft paper can be found over in the shipping & home office supplies section of the store along with Sharpie pens for writing your own cheat sheet of notes.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.I had planned to host this at my own home, but a powerful gust of storms moved in and left us without power for several days. My dear friend graciously stepped up to the plate to host the evening and allowed me to setup my s’more topping bar at her house.

How awesome is this setup? I know, SO awesome!

I am so thankful for great friends, great times, and great food! I hope this inspires you for a get together with your own friends this summer or even a fun birthday party idea in the summer months!

This s’mores party was such a hit and I can’t wait to do it again and to do something this fantastic for less than $25? Absolutely priceless!

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What is your favorite s’more combination?

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Fresh Peach Sorbet

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Fresh Peach SorbetPeach season is upon us and what could be better than putting those fresh peaches to work in a peach sorbet. This homemade peach sorbet tastes rich and creamy, but is dairy-free and packed with fresh fruit, for the perfect summer treat!

Fresh Peach Sorbet

I was a kid that grew up on the good old-fashioned canned peaches and humbly admit that I had never eaten a fresh peach until this year. Once I tasted how delicious a fresh peach peach was, I realized just what I had been missing all of these years.

Each month, Walmart is challenging  me to use one of their produce items a new way and to share some easy tips for selecting your produce. Have you seen my past projects? I bet you would love our Baked Strawberry Doughnuts and Blueberry Sangria Lemonade that I created with some of the past produce picks.

Fresh Peach Sorbet

How Do I Pick the Perfect Peach?

Look for peaches that have a slight give when pressed, but try to avoid peaches that are heavily bruised. When examining the stem end, they should have a yellow, amber, or golden hue, but not a greenish tinge.

If you have peaches that you’d like to ripen further, leave them at room temperature in a dry area. Check them daily to see if they have reached the desired ripeness and upon reaching that, refrigerate them. Refrigeration helps to stop that ripening process so even those super ripe peaches will last a couple of days longer in your refrigerator.

This month marks one year that I have started my journey on a dairy-free diet. It’s been one of the hardest things I have done, but one of the most beneficial to my health. There are few things that I can’t replicate or substitute, and the only true challenges that present themselves are when I am not at home and able to control what is being served.

Although I have never been a big ice cream eater, sometimes I crave that ice cold treat in the summer. I decided to create this peach sorbet as a special treat for myself. I love this recipe for a lot of reasons; it is jam-packed with fresh fruit, it doesn’t even require you to peel a peach, it has no dairy, and it tastes like summer in a dish.

What’s not to love?

Fresh Peach Sorbet

Why Is There Alcohol in Your Sorbet?

If you don’t want your ice cream or sorbets to freeze as hard as a rock, you can add a little alcohol to your ice cream or sorbet recipes to keep the ice cream softer and easier to scoop. I promise that you won’t even taste it.

Alcohol basically acts as an anti-freeze agent in your ice cream and a little bit will go a long way in your recipes (only 1-3 tablespoons necessary per batch). To read more about the science behind alcohol in your ice creams or sorbets, check out this awesome post from David Lebovitz that explains it a bit more.

If you don’t keep alcohol in your home, try purchasing those mini bottles of alcohol for your homemade ice cream batches. I promise, you will thank me when you don’t have to wait an hour for the ice cream to thaw so you can scoop it!

Why Don’t You Peel the Peaches for the Sorbet?

Why make more work for yourself? Your food processor will do a great job of breaking the skin down in your sorbet and you won’t even taste it. I think it adds some pretty flecks of color throughout the batch and it is less work for you! That is what makes this recipe such a winner with this fruit!

Fresh Peach Sorbet

Fresh Peach Sorbet
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
An easy dairy-free sorbet packed with fresh peaches for a fun summertime treat! Low in calories, rich in fresh fruit, and easy to make!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 pounds fresh peaches (any variety)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lightly beaten egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
Instructions
  1. In a small heavy saucepan heat sugar and water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool syrup.
  2. Cut and pit your peaches, leaving skins intact.
  3. Add the peaches to your food processor and purée until smooth.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add syrup and lemon juice.
  5. Chill the mixture until cold.
  6. Stir in egg white and vodka.
  7. Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and run as directed (I churned mine for about 15 minutes).
  8. Serve sorbet immediately or transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for a few hours.

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A Monster of a Father’s Day Gift: Monster Cookie Bars & Monster Printable Cards For Dad

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Father’s Day is just around the corner & today we wanted to share a monster of a Father’s Day gift with a cute spin on the monster theme with easy monster cookie bars and printable monster cards for a special Dad in your life.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

This week’s challenge from Walmart was to create an inexpensive Father’s Day gift that would wow your Dad. Well, if your dad is anything like our Dad, he is certainly wowed with homemade treats and funny cards with a great sense of humor. Our idea was to mix up a batch of thick and delicious Monster Cookie Bars made with rolled oats, peanut butter, mini M&M’s (found over in their candy aisle), and chocolate chips.

Monster Cookies can be a bit of a monster to create as a drop cookie because of their monster size. I choose to echo the words of an amazing woman I once heard speak these wise words…

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Wise, right?

Bar cookies get a big fist pump from this busy mom and if a celebration requires a cookie, I often rely on these chocolate chip cookie bars to get us through whatever baking requirements are made for those occasions. These Monster Cookie Bars are equally delicious and offer that crusty exterior with that soft interior that makes, in my humble opinion, the perfect cookie.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

What Father’s Day would be complete without a card to accompany your sweet gift? We are so excited to debut these adorable Monster cards that you can print out to attach with your Monster Cookie Bars for your favorite Dad. We have included three fun printable cards for Father’s Day and then 1 that could be used for any occasion to accompany your sweet treat. Print these printables out on white card stock  and you will be all set for this Father’s Day!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.



Printable Monster Cards from MomAdvice.com.

Download Your FREE Monster Card Printables HERE:

Happy Father’s Day From Your Monster FREE printable card

Your Gift is a Monster! FREE printable card

Eat All the Cookies FREE printable card

We Are Your Spawn FREE printable card

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

I can admit that this family has had Monsters on our brain after getting a sneak peek at the Monsters University movie that is set to hit theaters on June 21st. While our family was at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, we got an exclusive sneak peek at the film. It is FANTASTIC, and dare I say it, even funnier than the first one. I have no doubt that your family will love it!

Our Monster Cookie Bars would really pull together a fun family night out to see this fantastic film and you can find loads of fun Monsters supplies in the party favors aisle of your Walmart store including fun cups, plates, and other party favors for an inexpensive night to enjoy while tackling your summer bucket list or our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.

Now that you have the printables, here is the deliciously easy and tasty recipe for these Monster Cookie Bars. We recommend preparing these in a metal 9×13 pan for best results!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Monster Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 15
 
Monster cookies made easy in a bar cookie. Be sure to pair these easy cookies with our free Monster printables.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut buter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini M&M's (approximately half a bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Mix in oats until well combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and mini M&M's
  7. Press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and set in the middle. Let cool completely in baking dish then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

 Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad readers (I know you’re out there!) and here’s hoping you get spoiled by a few of your favorite monsters!

Be sure to check back this week for more great Father’s Day gifts on a budget!

 

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