Pinterest Test Kitchen #97 ~ Banana Pudding Cupcakes

A while back I hosted a baby shower for my niece who loves banana pudding. Because I am all about the presentation I just did not want to put a bowl full of banana pudding on the pretty dessert table and I did not want to do individual cups either for some reason that I no longer remember. I’m sure it was a good one though.

Because Pinterest is magic it didn’t take long for me to discover banana pudding cupcakes and they were a hit at the shower! I’ve made them twice now and tweaked the recipe a little the second go round and probably have one more adjustment that I’ll make the next time I make them.

The first time I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of using banana flavored pudding. (I totally got suckered by the Minion packaging.) I wasn’t a huge fan of the cupcake itself so the next time I made them I used this recipe for the cupcake and added mashed bananas to the batter. And while no one complained of the pudding I found it to be too thick so I will probably change it to just regular banana cream pudding and not make it with the sweetened condensed milk next time.

What you’ll need:

12 to 15 cupcakes 
1 box instant vanilla pudding (or banana cream), prepared
Nilla wafers, about 1/3 cup crushed and 12 to 15 whole ones for garnish
Cool whip
What you’ll do:
Hollow out a portion of each cupcake being sure not to go all the way to the bottom.
Sprinkle the Nilla wafer crumbs into each cupcake.
Spoon the pudding into the holes with enough extra to do a layer of pudding across the top of the cupcake.
Ice the cupcakes with the cool whip.
Garnish with the Nilla wafer.

Enjoy!

Test Kitchen #96 ~ Lemon Tart

I think this has become my absolute favorite dessert right now. For reals. It’s cool and smooth and tart and with just enough summer tanginess. It comes from a Taste of Home cookbook my mother gave us and my youngest daughter actually picked it out (along with about ten more but this is the only one we’ve tried so far.)

I have found that opinions can run pretty strong on the matter of lemon flavored desserts but I am solidly in the go for it camp. I think it taste like summer and is so yummy.

This tart is delicious and bonus…you get a great arm workout.

What you’ll need:
1 pastry shell, baked
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 TBS grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
What you’ll do:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in milk until smooth.
Cook, constantly stirring, over medium-high heat until it thickens.
Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir for two more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Take a spoonful of the hot mixture and stir it into the eggs yolks.
Return all of it to the sauce pan and return to burner.

Bring back to a gentle boil, stirring the whole time.
Cook for two more minutes.

Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon peel.
Gently add in lemon juice.
Cover and cool completely.
Fold in sour cream.
Pour into pastry shell.
Refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting. 
Garnish with whipped topping.
Enjoy!

It really is the perfect dessert for these hot summer days.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #94 ~ Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Pie

In the very beginning of my Pinterest Test Kitchen posts I merely linked to the recipe and shared any changes I made and what our overall reaction was to the recipe. Then for some reason I started typing them completely out and only linking to the original source. Actually I think the reason was because I hate clicking on a link expecting a recipe but then having to click through to another site just to get to it. Terribly lazy of me I know and somewhat hypercritical because I am going to probably start including more of those kinds of posts again.  Why reinvent the wheel, right? I’m sure that upon occasion I will still type out the whole thing but for today I am going to link to a delicious homemade pie from Pioneer Woman.

The only real thing I would change would be not using my large pie plate. As you can see it made for a thinner pie and pie should never be thin.

That homemade chocolate pudding filling?

So.Good.

I’ve actually bought the stuff to make a white chocolate version. Doesn’t that sound just delicious with raspberries on top? I’ll let you know how it turns out when I make it!

Pinterest Test Kitchen # 92 ~ Italian Cranberry Orange Pound Cake

Have you ever smelled something and the scent instantly transported you to a long ago memory? Noxzema does that for me. I smell it and immediately my mind is flooded with childhood recollections of sandy beaches and sunburns. Isn’t it remarkable how God engineered us so that scents and tastes can bring to mind such vivid memories?

One bite of this cake is a reminiscent mouthful of Christmas past. Seriously, it is the flavor of Christmas with its tangy orange zest, fresh cranberries and spicy overtones. The cranberries give it a zing like the crisp winter air. Rather poetic I know but really, it is the flavor of the holidays I think. Try it and let me know what you think.

cranberries_oranges_pound_cake_ homemade

What you’ll need:
For the cake ~
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
2 TBS orange zest*
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese**
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 cups fresh cranberries
orange_zest_cranberries
What you’ll do:
Whisk the first three ingredients together and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time.
Mix in the vanilla, orange juice & zest, spices, and mascarpone cheese until well combined.
Add in half of the flour mixture. 
Stir in the buttermilk.
Mix in the remaining flour mixture just until the flour disappears.
Gently fold in cranberries.***
Pour into a well greased bundt pan. (I am a huge fan of Bakers Joy.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Let cake rest for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Coat the cake with the orange glaze and allow to completely cool.
Pour the orange cream cheese frosting over the cake.
Orange glaze:
Mix 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar with 1/3 cup orange juice until smooth.
Orange cream cheese frosting:
Mix together 4 oz softened cream cheese with 1 TBS orange zest, 1/4 cup of orange juice, and 2 cups confectioners sugar until smooth.

This is one of those cakes that really taste even better the day after you make it and the flavors have all gotten cozy with each other so don’t be afraid to make it up ahead of time!

*    Orange zest…smells so good!
**  If you can’t find mascarpone cheese you can use 1/2 cup sour cream.
***My family enjoyed the cake but found the cranberries a little too tart for their liking. I figure the         next time I make this I may reduce the amount down or leave them out all together.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #86 ~ Chocolate Pisatchio Baklava

So, I am going to begin this post with a disclaimer. Actually more of a qualification. To me there is a necessary distinction that is, upon occasion, important to make. There is sometimes a difference between homemade and made from scratch. I realize this may seem like splitting hairs but for today’s recipe I felt it important to note.

Because I made baklava, y’all!

Now if I said I made it from scratch that would imply I had made everything from scratch…including the filo dough. But, while I did use store bought filo dough sheets, I did actually make the baklava. And can I say that never have I made such a nerve racking dessert in my life? Seriously, it’s not that baklava is necessarily that difficult to make but oh, my goodness I have never been so tense while baking anything ever! Those paper thin sheets are tedious to use but the result was a big hit at our teacher luncheon and worth every moment. Our kids’ school has some amazing teachers and I was really happy to do something out of the norm in appreciation for all they do.

Baklava is an impressive looking dessert and while not really complicated it is time consuming. All those layers! This is the original recipe I used although I did not make mine as thick as hers. She used a 9×13 dish and I layered mine in a jelly roll pan. I liked it better because I did not need to cut the filo dough to fit the pan but in hindsight I probably would have used less syrup so that it was not quite as wet although hers look pretty moist in her pictures too.

What you’ll need for the syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4/5 cup honey

What you’ll do:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil.
Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely before using.

(Trust me, it will have plenty of time to cool while you butter and layer your filo sheets with your chocolate mixture!)

What you’ll need for the baklava itself:
1 package filo dough sheets
1 stick of butter, melted (I actually used almost two sticks)
9 ounces dark chocolate chips
9 ounces pistachios or nuts of your choice, finely chopped
1 TBS cinnamon
What you’ll do:
Toss together the chocolate chips, nuts, and cinnamon.
Set aside.
Unwrap your filo sheets and cover them with a damp towel. This is a very important step so don’t skip it, it makes the filo sheets easier to work with.
Butter your pan.

Next, butter and stack eight dough sheets. 
(Remember, I was using a larger pan so essentially I was making two stacks side by side.)

Spread half of the nut mixture over the stacked sheets.
Butter the next sheet of dough on both sides and then continue buttering and stacking three more sheets.
Top with the remaining nut mixture.
Butter the next sheet of dough, again on both sides, and then continue buttering and stacking seven more sheets.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into squares. 

Because I wanted a more traditional look I then cut each square diagonally so I had a bunch of triangles.

At this point I got really excited because it pretty much looked like baklava…yay me!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, uncovered.
Cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 25 minutes.
Immediately pour the cold syrup over the whole pan and allow it to cool. 
I loosely covered mine and let it sit all night.

It was, like I said, one of the most intense things I have ever made but I have got to be honest I was beyond thrilled and feeling so very accomplished when it all came together and tasted good!

Pinterest Test Kitchen #84 ~ Kentucky Butter Cake

I feel like I owe my sweet Mother an apology. Since she has been looking after an elderly aunt lately I offered to make her some pound cakes for her church’s Thanksgiving dinner. And I made 36 really cute miniature pound cakes.

And they tasted good! Seriously, they were good pound cakes complete with five eggs and a whole cup of butter called for in the recipe. I’ve been looking for a good pound cake recipe for years now and really thought I had found the one that would be my go to. I even made a regular size one Friday night when we had friends over for dinner and everyone really enjoyed it.
But then a conversation on facebook came up and reminded me about this recipe I had pinned ages ago and never actually made. I think mainly because I was scared of it not flipping out of the pan well. But, flush with success from my previous pound cake triumph, I determined I would make it for our Sunday lunch.
recipes_pound_cake_
And that’s why I feel like I should apologize to my Mama. Oh, my goodness this Kentucky Butter Cake is my all time favorite pound cake recipe and definitely the one I will be making for family Christmas. There is this butter sauce that you make and pour over the cake that is just.so.darn.good.
What you’ll need:
1 cup of butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (I set mine out with the butter to be at room temp too)
1 TBS vanilla 
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of buttermilk
What you’ll do:
Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix well.
Pour into a well greased bundt pan. (I use Baker’s Joy and the cake slipped right out.)
Bake at 325 degress for 45 to 65 minutes depending on your oven*
*I always set my timer on the lower end…you can always keep cooking but you can’t undo overcooking. Once a knife or tooth pick come out clean it’s done.
What you’ll need for the butter sauce:
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 TBS water
2 tsps vanilla
What you’ll do:
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted.
Do not let it come to a boil.
Using a knife, poke holes all over the warm cake while it’s still in the pan.
Gently pour the butter glaze over the cake.
Let the cake sit in the pan in all that buttery goodness until the cake is completely cooled.
Flip it out onto a serving plate. (You might want to loosen the edges with a knife if needed.)
Kentucky_Butter_Cake_pound_cake
Dear goodness, but this is so simple and just so good! I’m not going to say it’s the best ever because you may not think so but that’s how it’s going down in my book, y’all.

Pinterest #83 ~ Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I had several goals over the summer that all involved the kitchen…everything from organizing to buying and making healthier meals for our family to cooking old fashioned oatmeal and not instant or quick oats. (I realize the bar was pretty low in some areas 😉

But needless to say I am happy that I’ve had some success in these endeavors and one of the most successful new recipes is probably these little energy bites. Quick and easy, they satisfy the craving for a little sweet something something but are relatively healthy. Sweetened with honey and made with creamy peanut butter they are a hit in our house.
honey_energy_bites_recipe_peanutbutter
What you’ll need:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/2 ground flax seed*
6 TBS dark chocolate chips (I bet white chocolate chips would taste heavenly!)
What you’ll do:
Mix together the first three ingredients until well blended.
Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Chill for 30 minutes before rolling into 1 inch balls.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Snag one every time you go into the kitchen. 
Never mind, don’t do that. 
You’ll find yourself making up reasons to go to the kitchen.
*Flax seed. I am in a sort of crash course on healthy eating so I had to look up flax seed, what it does and why we want it to do what it does. It’s a good source of fiber and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as other vitamins and minerals. It helps stabilize your blood sugar too. It contains lignans which help your body metabolize estrogen in a safe form and some studies indicate that it can  help reduce the risk of certain types of cancers in both men and women because of this. And apparently around 2 tablespoons a day can help reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. (Filing that away under important and good to know information.) King Charlemagne was quite the fan of flax seed and even had laws passed that required his subjects to eat it. Who knew? 
Apparently us now 🙂

Pinterest Test Kitchen #82 ~ S’more Pie

I have a weird relationship with s’mores.

I love the idea of them. How could I not?

I like the crisp crunch of graham crackers.

Melted chocolate? Love some, thanks!

Ooey gooey marshmallow? Absolutely!

But the three come together and I am just…sorta…kinda…underwhelmed maybe?

I think, for me at least, the three good things come together and cancel each other out.

Shocking, I know. And my camping enthusiast friends are probably second guessing their relationship with a crazy person but there you have it.

The truly funny thing is that I am fascinated by them. And apparently a lot of people are because if you type in “s’more” on Pinterest a lot of pins come up. And I mean a lot. And also a lot of categories…in a jar, gourmet, treat, camping, buffet, kit and, I kid you not, one labeled healthy.

Since Rob and I are the only ones to have this weird indifference to s’mores I decided to give this s’more pie a try one Sunday for our fellowship meal. The pie plate came home empty so I guess it was a success.

s'more_pie_recipe_Hershey_candy_bars

The only complaint I have is that it didn’t cut into nice slices…we ended up doing more of a scooping thing. This could totally be my fault though so who knows? If you try it let me know how your’s slices up.

What you’ll need:
1 stick butter, softened 
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz marshmallow cream
2 Hershey bars, unwrapped and separated*
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Hershy_candy_bar_s'more_pie_recipe

*The original recipe calls for way more candy bars than I needed…a tragic event that left me with a surplus of chocolate to hide share with the kids another day 😉

What you’ll do:
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together.
Add in the egg and vanilla.
Stir in the flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder.
Divide the dough in half, pressing one half of the dough along the bottom and sides of a lightly greased  9 inch pie plate.
Spread the marshmallow cream evenly on the bottom crust.
Place the separated chocolate squares on top of the marshmallow cream.
Sprinkle the marshmallows on next.
Pat sections of the remaining dough on top of  and all around the marshmallows.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
Allow to cool completely before cutting.
Enjoy!

Hershey_candy_bar_s'more_pie_recipe

Test Kitchen # 80 ~ Oreo Bars

Pinterest is flooded, I mean flood-ed, with gobs of recipes of every imaginable kind of rice krispie treat combination…milky way rice krispie treats, peanut butter cup rice krispie treats, salted caramel, cake batter, cookie butter and even a red velvet version.

And I am just not even tempted because…well, I don’t like rice krispie treats. I don’t enjoy the flavor or the texture. So normally I just scroll by those recipes if they pop up on my pinterest page.

But then I saw this recipe for a rebooted version that uses oreo cookies instead of rice krispies and suddenly my aversion disappeared. I made some slight changes based on what I had on hand (I used mini marshmallows and did not top mine with additional Oreos. I also don’t have a microwave so I made mine on the stove top)

Oreo_dessert_cookie_bars

Because I am me I was trying it out for the first when friends were coming over and instead of doubling the recipe I made two batches, one with regular oreos and one with golden oreos. I preferred the golden ones but the chocolate ones went fast.

What you’ll need:
1 package of Oreos, crumbled
1/2 stick of butter
5 cups of marshmallows
What you’ll do:
Melt the butter in a large stock pot.
Stir in marshmallows and continue stirring until completely melted.
Add in crushed cookies and mix completely.
Spread into a parchment paper lined 8×8 dish and press into an even layer.
Allow them to cool completely before cutting into squares.

They’re pretty tasty and keep well if you store them in an air tight container…if you have any left.

Oreo_cookie_bar_treats

This recipe came from one of my new favorite blogs so click on over and check out the tasty goodness from Kleinworth & Co.