Category: Dessert

The Lunch Lady and her Cupcakes

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I am continuing the theme of peanut butter, if you don’t mind. I’m sure you don’t. Who would? And if you do mind, then you must not like peanut butter, and you might not also like marshmallow fluff from the jar, or even jelly. And then what kind of person would you be?

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On my last bloggy post, I talked about peanut butter by itself, and shared a PB cookie recipe. This post is about peanut butter with jelly. I love peanut butter and jelly. I love it on a sandwich. I love it when it’s made into other things (candy, cookies, cake, etc.). I love the combination. There is just something about the soft bread, nutty, almost salty spread, and sweet jelly. Did you know that the average American will have consumed 1,500 PB&J sandwiches by the time they turn 18? I believe it! That statistic might even be doubled in my house!

Yes, our love for PB&J sandwiches runs deep.

I think I also love the connection between them and cafeterias and school lunches. You may remember my love for all things cafeteria. I’m sure my love for the two are somehow tethered together. Do you remember your Lunch Lady from school? Was she scary? They are always scary in the books I read, growing up. I’m not sure why she’s made out to be the villain. Perhaps, because she’s the one slopping up that quintessentially icky cafeteria food (which I happen to find both delightful and intriguing)?

I bet if your Lunch Lady served these cupcakes, as a lunch dessert, instead of that old stale cookie, you’d love her. You would probably lose your fear for her sweaty-plastic-glove-and-hairnet-wearing self.

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You’d probably want to envelope her in a huge hug, thanking her for making these wonderfully clever and delicious cupcakes.

You’d probably ask her if she had any icy, cold milk to go with these.

This is starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

But trust me. You’d ask for milk, and a hug, and another cupcake for the road.

Probably. Or maybe that’s just me.

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I made these cupcakes for our Friday playdate. We ate them in celebration of my Small’s 2nd birthday (which was earlier in the week).

The actual cupcake was rich, and dense, and peanut-buttery, in all the best ways. When they were baking, the most amazing smells were filling my house. One had to have been a peanut butter lover to really enjoy this cupcake.

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The frosting was a light and fluffy, creamy, peanut-buttery buttercream. It took the cupcakes to another level.

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After liberally frosting them, I put a dollop of grape jelly on some and raspberry jelly on others. It cut the peanut butter flavor and really made these taste like the upgraded version of a PB&J sandwich.

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I think everyone enjoyed them. I sure did. They were wonderful, and not difficult to make at all.

I highly recommend them!

Here is the recipe:

http://cookiesandcups.com/the-lunchtime-cupcake/

I changed it a little. I did not put a filling inside the cupcake. I doubled the cake recipe (to make 24) and halved the frosting recipe. These kids did not need sky-high frosting! These cupcakes would be delicious with crunchy PB (I always fear that if I am making them for little mouths, they could potentially choke on peanut pieces, so I stick [get it? stick, like stick to the roof of your mouth!?!!] with creamy) and also with marshmallow fluff instead of jelly…or both.

Have a blessed Saturday and may it be as fun as these cakes!

Kristin

 

Ain’t “nuttin'” but a PB thang, baby!

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Soooo, it looks like we missed National Peanut Butter Day by quite a while, which was on January 24th this year. November, however, is National Peanut Month, so maybe I’m early! Yes, that’s it. I’m early. Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter? That fact makes each of those spoon-fulls that pass my lips seem a little bit more precious!

We eat a TON of peanut butter in my house (and elsewhere). I am very thankful that we have no aversions to it. It seems that we would be lost without it. We eat it at least once a day – on toast, on sandwiches, in desserts, with apples, with carrots, on a spoon, on fingers….

In preparation for an upcoming playdate, I made peanut butter cookies (and cupcakes, but we’ll save those for another day). I adore how “old fashioned” they look, with the fork marks on them. This particular version is both gluten and dairy free. I’ve made them before with this recipe and they always come out beautifully.

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They are soft, but with a little chew to them, just as they should be. They are rich with peanut butter flavor. They’d be delicious if you used crunchy peanut butter (I only had creamy). You could also add chocolate chips. Or you could keep them just as they are…perfect, soft, yet crumbly, reminiscent of a bakery peanut butter cookie.

Make them. You won’t be disappointed!

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/gluten-free-peanut-butter-cookies

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

It’s Snack Time!

It’s almost snack time around here.

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My boys live for snack time. They act like I didn’t feed them a well-rounded breakfast, small snack and lunch just before. Do you ever run into the old what-do-I-feed-“them” routine? Sometimes, I’ll serve them fruit. Other times, they have store-bought granola bars (sometimes I make them from scratch, but other times, ain’t nobody got time for that), raisins, yogurt, or applesauce. And, sometimes, I will make a snack with them that will sort of go with one of the library books we’ve checked out. It’s fun to tie together snacks and books.

Welll, today, this didn’t happen. But I already know what I’ll be feeding the boys for snack. I made no-bake Cheerios bars for them, earlier in the week.

They came out so pretty!

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It was a wickedly easy recipe, and for once (or twice, but that’s it, tops), I had all the ingredients, even the chocolate covered sunflower seeds!

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Give them a try!

http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/10/no-bake-honey-nut-cheerios-snack-bars.html

I used a mix of half corn syrup and half honey. As the recipe states, they do fall apart a little bit, but they boys didn’t mind. And they taste great. I also used raisins and sunflower seeds. This recipe could be easily adapted to whatever you have to throw in. I did leave them in the fridge to set up for a few hours, so maybe plan to make these earlier in the day, if you want them by nap time. 🙂

Enjoy!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Smalls!

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Today is my Smalls’ 2nd birthday. He has brought me so much joy in his little life. I am crazy about him. This kid has spunk. He’s fearless about so many things, and I secretly love that about him. Even though it can be scary, as a parent, for my child to go into things without thinking, it’s neat to see the joy that fearlessness brings him. On the flip-side, he’s very complex – he gets overwhelmed very easily in certain situations. He gets upset at things that are too sensory-oriented (he’s got some proprioceptive things going on). But…I LOVE that we have this understanding, me and him. I know when he’s got his issues, and he comes to me to make them go away. He trusts my hugs to make him feel better. I love his silly, fun-loving sense of humor, the way he loves to make people laugh, but also gets shy when directly addressed by others. I love his wild antics, his mischievous smile, the naughty twinkle in his eye, partially hidden by his dark, long lashes. I love his teeny, little button nose. I love his lanky, long, skinny stick legs that envelope me in a hug, like a little koala bear. I love his hands, they are still like little baby hands. I love his bouncy, golden curls that frame his face, and flounce all over the place, especially because he’s almost always running and jumping, everywhere he goes. He’s simply the best. And I’m so blessed and eternally grateful to be his Mommy. What a gift from God.

We had a little party for him over the weekend with both sets of his Grandparents. I went with a beachy, tropical theme. It was a little tacky. I love tacky. And it was kind of a nod to his first birthday party, last year, where I did an under-the-sea theme.

I cooked and baked allllll day.

I made a Pineapple Cilantro Pulled Pork in the crock pot. It was an easy(ish) recipe because the crock pot did most of the work. I simply seasoned the pork butt and made a BBQ sauce.

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It was delicious and FULL of flavor.

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/14/slow-cooker-pineapple-pulled-pork-with-pineapple-barbecue-sauce/

I also made a Porky Pineapple Fried Rice.

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It was also very good.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/06/25/pineapple-fried-rice/

I made green beans, too! I boiled fresh green beans, put them in an ice bath, and then sauteed them with a little bit of olive oil and garlic. Delicious.

I also made crescent roll octopi. They more came out like jellyfish. I don’t know how on earth I was supposed to get EIGHT legs out of them. But they came out so cute. The boys kept asking for “legs”.

It wasn’t weird at all.

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They were a hit. Just cut 7 (or however many you can, then call them “jellyfish”) strips on the short side of the crescent and then roll the top down to form the head. Use (or not) black olives for the eyeballs.

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Dinner was delicious.

But dessert…oh boy, dessert was where it was at.

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I have to say, and not to pat myself on the back, but it was my best ever work. It was DIVINE.

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I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, but I used Hershey’s dark cocoa in place of the regular cocoa (both turn out delicious). Because of that change, this cake was black and fudgey with a deep, complex cocoa flavor. It was insanely good.

https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake

I paired it with a white buttercream.

The buttercream was silky smooth. I just added blue coloring (Americolor Sky Blue). I used my offset spatula to make waves with the blue frosting.

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2013/06/double-chocolate-cupcakes-and-crispy-magic-frosting/

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I left some of the buttercream white and used that as the shore, and added graham cracker crumbs for sand.

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I decorated it with palm trees and a surfboard (all from Smalls’ first ever birthday cake last year), flamingos, fish and dolphin sprinkles, and gummy turtles (Smalls loves turtles).

It was so, so, so good.

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The combination was heavenly. And not because of what I did, but because of the recipes. So good. I can’t even stop thinking or talking about it. My mouth is watering for it now.

It was a great celebration. And today is family day – we will be showering Smalls with lots of love, fun times, and good food.

Happiest Birthday, my sweet, spicy nugget. May you always feel as loved as you are. <3

Blessings to you all,

Kristin

Sugar Sugar! Aww, Honey Honey!

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You guys know that I have an insatiable sweet tooth.

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It’s the reason I run (well, that and teaching my kids to take care of their bodies, setting a good example, living longer, blah blah blah). I’ve had this sweet tooth since before I can even remember. When I’d earn my allowance as a kid, I wouldn’t spend it on dolls or shoes (oh wait, yes I DID spend it on shoes…okay, so shoes AND a sweet tooth, I’m a real keeper), instead I’d have my Mom take me to the mall candy shop (The Sweet Factory, remember that place?!) and buy a little bag. I’d fill it with candy peas & carrots, sugar-coated ribbons, gummy peach rings, jelly beans, licorice, and jawbreakers. Those are such fun memories for me. As an adult, my tastes have matured a bit – I’m into classier sweets now, like Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, Snowballs, Twinkies etc. You know.

I love that dessert comes in so many forms.

Sometimes, the fruit produce is so good and sweet, you don’t even need (wow, that’s painful to say) dessert, of the baked or sugary variety.

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And other times, you come across a great find at Aldi and don’t have to make your dessert yourself.

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How NEAT that I found this at Aldi, of all places!

But other times, you make it yourself. And you enjoy making it and then eating it.

It’s a sort of therapy for me.

And I love baking for others. It’s my love language. Seriously. Don’t laugh.

We got together a few weekends ago with our wonderful neighbors for a dinner party. For my GF husband, I made…wait for it…kidney bean brownies! Don’t scrunch up your face like that! They were delicious. My original intent was to make black bean brownies, but I only had kidney beans. So typical of me. But, then I came across a recipe that would work for me.

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And wouldn’t you know, they came out delicious!

Here is the recipe:

http://eat2run.com/recipes/kidney-bean-brownies-w-gf-option/

They were moist and chocolately. We used the GF option (obvi).

For the rest of us carb-lovers, I tried a new Willow Bird Baking recipe. I’d been eying it ever since seeing Julie post pictures of the recipe in development.

Sure, mine didn’t come out as pretty as hers, but they were SO. GOOD. So simple, but so good.

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Gorgeous, tender, buttery shortbread topped with creamy, rich, dark chocolate frosting. Seriously. Make it. You probably have all the ingredients. I did, for once. HA!

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/07/10/shortbreads-with-dark-chocolate-frosting/

And a couple weeks ago, my sweet friend had a little, teeny, beautiful baby girl. So I made her mini donuts.

It’s what I would want.

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I used this recipe just recently and have used it many times in the past. It’s easy, but time consuming…and oh-so-worth it.

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

I think you could probably swap out the mix for any flavor – Red Velvet mini donuts? Spice mini donuts? I suppose the choices are endless.

And to round out my very sweet couple of weeks, we had a church community party potluck on Friday night. I wouldn’t have felt right subjecting those people to my cooking. So I baked.

I ran across a recipe on Instagram, by the Doughmestic Housewife, for Graham Cracker S’more Cups. I was sold – I both LOVE s’mores and HAD all the ingredients!

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It was a quick recipe, so I made it about a half hour before we needed to go. Of course, they didn’t turn out exactly right because of something I must have done, but my mini cupcake papers sort of saved them (the graham layer was VERY crumbly).

Graham Cracker S’More Cups – Doughmestic Housewife

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs

1/3 C sugar

6 T butter, softened

Mix crust ingredients and press into greased mini muffin pan. Press firmly to form a cup shape. Cook at 375 for 6 minutes. Add mini marshmallows (I only had big) and milk chocolate pieces and cook a bit longer until toppings start to melt. Remove from oven and let cups cook to warm.

Even though they sort of messed up, the flavors were amazing.

Here’s to a  sweet week!

Blessings,

Kristin

Banana-Rama

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

Orange.

Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn’t say “bananas”?

I just taught this joke to my four year old. He is super into jokes right now. It’s really cute. He never waits for you to say “Who’s there?” and he always changes something with the telling of the joke or the punchline. It’s great.

We’ve been making banana “ice cream” a lot lately. Like, more than we should. It’s just so good. I know I’ve posted about it on this blog before. It’s just too easy. And refreshing. And it’s SO freaking hot outside.

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It’s just bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen and then mixed in the food processor. I’ve been adding dark chocolate cocoa and peanut butter. It tastes like a Reece’s PB Cup, but with a banana.

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The kids think it’s an extra special treat, and it really is, even though it is entirely healthy and (naturally) sweet.

Do it.

Kristin

A Sweet(ish) TJ’s Review

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I have never been “accused” of being “vanilla” in my life, for either style or personality. But, even if I were, I would not be offended. How can you take “vanilla” as a cut-down? It’s beautiful, fragrant, tropical, floral, and so sweet (unless you try the extract…don’t do that…or let a friend try it, it’ll make a good prank!). Its speckled beauty perfumes frostings, adding both flavor and a delicious richness. Vanilla is very appealing to me.

So, when I saw these Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes on the shelf, amongst the Lemon Zinger Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, and GF Chocolate Cupcakes (sorry, Husband, I had to do research), I was immediately drawn to them. You could see the specks of vanilla in the creamy frosting. I chose these over chocolate (that sounds like a confession and it might as well be).

They came home with me. I felt like a proud, new Mama.  I was very excited. I put them in the fridge at home because it was a very hot day outside and I didn’t want any melty frosting. There is a time and a place for melty frosting. This was not it.

I digress. Frosting-talk easily makes me digress.

Don’t judge.

Anyways, I have to say I was very disappointed in these. Both the cake and frosting were hard, as if the cupcakes had been sitting on the shelf for way too long (and not in that Ho-Ho, Ding-Dong, Zingers, Twinkies sort of a way, because I can handle that shelf-life). I even kept them out on my counter and defrosted completely to try round 2. They were still too hard. The cake itself was crunchy in some places and looked a little too over baked. The frosting never got soft. I could tell that there was a good vanilla flavor in both the cake and frosting, but the hardened texture of both overshadowed any deliciousness.

Sorry TJ’s. These were not so good. But don’t worry, when it comes to cakes, cookies, and the like, I have a tenacious spirit. I’ll give your baked goods a second (third, fourth, fifth…) chance. I really want to like them.

Review Result: These were meh, but perhaps I got a “bad batch”? Stay tuned for future baked goods reviews.

In the meantime, if you want to make your own vanilla cake, see this blog post. In it is a recipe I used for an almond-y vanilla cake. So good. Try it.

http://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/happy-100-blog-posts/

Hope you’re day is as sweet as these cupcakes, but not as crunchy. Because that wouldn’t be good. Unless the crunchy parts were bit that were supposed to be there, like hazelnuts or toffee. Because then that would be like an extra bonus.

Yummy crunchy bits also easily make me digress.

Kristin

Root Beer Meringues

I like almost everything about the 4th of July – the fun, cohesive attitude of almost everyone around me, the swirls of red, white, and blue, the fireworks. I love it.

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And, I get really excited over the prospect of serving up hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and s’mores, and whatever other fun themed treats I come across in my recipe searches.

Yes, the food is always a very important part of any holiday or get-together, for me.

Yesterday, I made some very cute meringues. They are a great go-to recipe for anyone trying to avoid gluten, dairy, and fat. You can make them almost any flavor. I used my root beer extract and added 4th of July sprinkles to make these festive.

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The root beer extract was a nice addition. I found it at Walmart, of all places. Sometimes, that place really comes through – new extract flavors, $5 maxi dresses, watermelon bikinis, seasonal and odd flavored Oreos and other cookies. I digress. Anyways, these came out so summery and so light. And festive!

I’ve used this recipe before and it’s easy as pie…good ol’ American apple pie. Well, actually, it’s MUCH easier than that.

Try them. Try out new flavors too.

The recipe link is in this blog post:

http://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/sweetie-pie/

I simply replaced the cherry and almond extract amounts with the root beer.

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

Summer Shenanigans

We’ve been up to our old tricks again – doing summery things and eating lots of food. It’s how we do.

The week after my 30th birthday, earlier this month, my sweet friends took me to dinner at one of our favorite places. We got all fancy.

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I wore my “birthday cake” shoes that I got for my birthday a few years back (they are just so fun and the colors that I’d want on a birthday cake). I wore a dress that I found at Goodwill, and my necklace was a gift from a friend. I love getting fancy.

For apps, we shared the Mezze Platter (muhammarra, edamame hummus, goat-cheese stuffed peppadews, fried feta, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomato, and grilled pita).

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I cannot get enough of the goat-cheese stuffed peppadews.

For dinner, I ordered the Vegetarian Plate and shared with a friend, and she shared her Moroccan Lemon Chicken.

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And then they sang to me over flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

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They sure knew how to make a girl feel special. <3

The next day during naptime, I enjoyed one of my birthday presents with some trashy mags.

It was a good time.

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We celebrated my wonderful Husband on Father’s Day. I made him turkey burgers.

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His request. 🙂

On the next Saturday, I took my boys on a date while my Husband had to work. My Bigs was SO excited to go on a date, knowing it’s something that Mommy & Daddy do, and something that Mommy does with her girlfriends. He was beside himself. I took them to Panera.

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I haven’t had it in forever. I got the Thai chicken salad and wild rice soup. I got grilled cheese and yogurt (quite heavy on the dairy, I am now realizing lol!). The boys were fairly well behaved. We went to Old Navy afterwards for 50% off jorts and $0.25 bouncy balls. The bouncy balls made the boys’ night!

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I’d call it a successful date night. 😀

During the week, we went to a park playdate for a little friend’s 2nd birthday. It was so very hot out, but we had a great time.

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And lastly, I made some reeeeallly delicious pancakes for dinner last Friday. I used a GF mix that I picked up on clearance at Target. I made it DF and added fresh blueberries.

I served it with turkey bacon.

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I even tried one of those Pinterest ideas where you put pancake batter on the bacon. I wouldn’t say it turned out like it does on Pinterest. 🙂

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I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, Kristin

 

Bake me a cake as fast as you can!

Baking cakes is rarely a fast process.  I prefer to make them from scratch. And that takes a while. That isn’t a snobby thing. I don’t turn my nose down at cake mixes. Nope. I use those, too. If given the opportunity of time, I just like the process of measuring out each of the many ingredients a scratch cake requires. But, this blog post isn’t about a scratch cake. It’s about one made from a mix. I had picked up a few boxed mixes when my Publix had them on sale for $1. I mean, you almost can’t beat that (get it? beat it? like, with a whisk?). I used the Devil’s Food mix for the donuts I made earlier this month. And then I had a yellow cake mix left. What to do, what to do! In keeping up with my trying to use cookbook recipes out of my cookbook collection, I ran across one that would work with the ingredients I had, including the cake mix. Sure, the recipe actually called for white cake mix, but that really isn’t me, using or having the “real” ingredients, now is it? 🙂 The recipe, titled “Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake”, also came with a frosting recipe from scratch.

I had a Great-Aunt Ruth, myself. She was a ridiculously fun, eclectic woman. She had really long gray hair that she coiled into a bun on the very top of her head. She lived on her own little (huge) plot of land with my Great-Uncle after they moved back home from living on an oil rig in Cuba. She cursed (a no-no, but always a funny-at-the-time situation for my big brother and me – we’d giggle nervously), she kept marshmallows in crystal bowls on all the end tables, she would give my brother and I those little Lifesavers books (remember those? you’d open them and there would be a few rows of Lifesavers) every time we’d visit, she had a dog named Shasta that I only ever saw through the pressed cardboard barricading him in the laundry room (we used to think he was a Cujo-type dog because all he did was bark really loudly and slam his huge body against the barricade. We always felt he’d eat us, if given the chance). She had a brick chimney sitting in her yard, from her house that had previously burned down, and she kept it, as she re-built right next to the old plot. Near the yard chimney, was a koi pond, with huge koi fish swimming in it, that my brother and I thought were at least 400 years old (they seemed it, to our little selves back then).

Ahhh, yes, a cake by the name of “Aunt Ruth” was sure to be a delicious, exciting one for me.

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Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake

(I’d like to think my Aunt Ruth wouldn’t have the right ingredients all the time, too.)

1 package white cake mix (I used yellow and it turned out great)

1 1/4 C water

3 eggs

2 T vegetable oil

1 t vanilla

1/2 t almond extract

Mix all together, follow the directions on the box. Bake in two 8 or 9 inch greased/floured pans for 30 minutes (mine were done before then, but my oven runs hot).

The frosting intrigued me. I have always been interested in trying a flour-based frosting.

Creamy White Frosting

1 C milk

3 T APF

1 C (2 sticks) US butter, softened

1 C powdered sugar

1 t vanilla

*I also added almond extract to the frosting*

Combine milk and flour in a saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened. Cool.

Beat butter in a large bowl until cream. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in vanilla (and almond, if you are doing that). Add flour mixture and beat until thick and smooth.

The cake came out like a bakery cake. It was moist and fluffy (albeit a little crumbly), and the taste was wonderful. I must admit, however, that the icing was not my favorite. It had a funny texture to me, almost as soft as a Crisco-based frosting, but even more so. It was weird. But I am happy I tried it. I gave almost half the cake to my sweet neighbors and she said it was fantastic.

Recipe taken from: The Cake Mix Bible

Give it a whirl! Or not!

Kristin