Tag: vanilla

Shark Week Cake

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In case you live under a rock and didn’t know, it was Shark Week a few weeks ago. We go bonkers for Shark Week in our house. My husband and I have been watching it for years, even before kids. It’s a thing. And now, it’s a thing for our kids. For this year’s, I prepared an entire homeschool session based around sharks. We checked several shark books out from the library, I had the boys watch a show on different kind of sharks, we went fishing, and I made cake. Because…cake. I tried to get them to eat fish for dinner, too, but they were having none of that. #moreforme

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I had so much fun making this shark cake. Honestly, I have fun making any cake, but this one was especially fun for me. Cake. Icing. Sharks. Cake. Sprinkles. Icing. Cake. Sharks.

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I made a one-layer (soooo, basically no layer(s)? not sure, too meta for me) vanilla almond cake, with a creamy, vanilla almond frosting.

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I used the I Am Baker method of swirling the frosting into rosettes and added some extra “waves”.

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I made blue toned white chocolate shark fins, used white pearl sprinkles for bubbles, and used dolphin and fish sprinkles.

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Shark Week Cake

Cake:

Recipe adapted from: White Cake Recipe, goodiegodmother.com

**The recipe below makes a one layer 8 inch cake**

1 C sugar

1 1/4 C flour (APF)

1 t baking powder

1/2 t kosher salt

6 T canola oil

1 T egg white (I always have liquid egg whites on hand)

1 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

1 C milk (I used coconut)

Sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease one 8-in cake pan and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a smaller mixing bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add sprinkles (I used green and blue) and mix together. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched (mine took 30). Cool the cake for 10 minutes before letting it cool on a wire rack.

Frosting:

Recipe adapted from: I Am Baker, Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

**Recipe has been halved**

1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened

1 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

3 C icing sugar (or more, as needed)

2 T milk (more or less, as needed)

pinch salt

Blue food coloring (I used Americolor Sky Blue)

Purple food coloring (I used Americolor Electric Purple)

White chocolate

Sprinkles

Beat the butter in bowl of stand mixer on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Turn the mixer to low speed to slowly add in the icing sugar. Whip for at least 6 minutes on medium high. Add food coloring and mix until fully integrated. Add more milk to the frosting, if too thick. Add more icing sugar, if too thin.

For the white chocolate shark fins:

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a pan. Melt white chocolate chips on the top of a double boiler (microwave will also work, I just find a double boiler more consistent). Whisk until smooth. Add a few drops of food coloring and whisk again. Once smooth, spread out onto the parchment paper. Place in the fridge until hardened. Once it is, use a very sharp knife to cut shark fin shapes.

To assemble:

Place the one-layer cake onto your serving platter. Scoop the blue frosting into a piping bag, fitted with a 1M tip. I didn’t need a coupler. Make frosting rosettes all over the cake. Once it is covered, go back and add a few flicks of frosting, for “waves”. Stick white chocolate shark fins into icing, add a few pearl sprinkles around it, as “bubbles” and sprinkle the entire cake with fish and dolphin sprinkles.

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El fin. <– get it?

Enjoy!

Kristin

Dessert Tonight: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Avocado

I love dessert. And, because of that, I am constantly looking for healthier dessert alternatives that aren’t bowls of fruit. I love bowls of fruit, also, but Imma be honest – compare it does not, to a happy bowl of decadent ice cream or a perfect slice of frosted cake.

Tonight, I put together a really delicious and super healthy dessert recipe, one that is better than a bowl of fruit – Chocolate Avocado Mousse. The avocado makes the mousse ridiculously smooth and creamy, and even little bit airy. The dark cocoa powder adds a richness. Why should you use avocados in your desserts? Well, despite being high in calories (which is why it is important to eat the suggested serving size), avocados are chock-full of vitamins, including Potassium, B, C, and E vitamins. They are low in sugar, high in fiber, and high in the good kind of fat (that helps combat the bad cholesterol).

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

4 Servings

2 ripe [enough] avocados

2/3 C dark cocoa

2 T honey

2 T pure maple syrup

1 t vanilla extract

1/3 C unsweetened coconut milk (more or less, if needed)

Put all ingredients into a food processor. Whiz together until smooth. Transfer the mousse to individual serving dishes and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (try to avoid refrigerating for too long, as the avocados will turn brown [not that you’d see it in the rich chocolate], and affect the flavor).

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I mean, forrreeeaaallllzzz, look at that creaminess!

ENJOY!!

Kristin

A Work Week’s Worth of Overnight Oats

It’s summertime and the living’s…definitely busier than our school year! The mornings, especially, have been busy. To ease into my early mornings (sidenote: whyyyyy are my kids waking up so early during summer break???), I’ve been making overnight oats the night before, so that I might have an already-ready breakfast, that is both really delicious and really filling. It’s been very helpful in getting my day moving.

Simply put, overnight oats is (are?) oatmeal, made the night before (or at the very least, an hour before consuming). It is a great time-saving breakfast. Oatmeal is very filling (and high in fiber), and helps me to snack less between breakfast and lunch.

The formula to making overnight oats is very simple – equal part oats and liquids. For my liquid component, I use both unsweetened coconut milk and Greek yogurt. I also like to add chia seeds (high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids) and [golden] ground flaxseed (high in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber). The more ground flaxseed I add, I find that I need to add a little more liquid. You can choose whatever toppings you enjoy – fruit, jam, chocolate, coconut, nuts, etc. You can eat it hot or cold. I rather enjoy it cold.

Below are some of the delicious flavors I made this week.

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Berry Crumble Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C coconut milk

1/4 C plain Greek yogurt

Almond extract

Strawberries

Raspberries

Mix liquids and oats together. Layer with toppings in a container. Store in refrigerator overnight (or for an hour, at the least).

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Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Sliced almonds

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Mango Coconut Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla bean paste

1 T coconut oil

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Mango

Sliced almonds

Coconut flakes

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Blueberry Peach Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Peaches

Peach Jam

Blueberries

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Strawberry Nutella Overnight Oats

1/2 C oats

1/4 C vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 C coconut milk

1 T coconut Oil

Vanilla extract

Chia seeds

Ground flaxseed

Strawberries

Nutella

Enjoy!!

Kristin

Crepe VPK & Mom’s Morning Out Lunches

When I was in high school, I went to France with my parents. While I appreciated it as much as any snotty-nosed punk high school girl who was away from her boyfriend would (aka not as much as I would now), it was an amazing trip. I saw priceless art that I may never have the opportunity to see again, I stood in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, I saw king’s castles, I did loads of shopping (I brought back clothes that wouldn’t even be in style in the States for over six months – sure, many of my classmates laughed at the styles then, but they appreciated it later), I went to a high fashion show, and I ate. Lots of good food, including many delicious crepes – some filled with ham, broccoli, and cheese, and some with Nutella and raspberries. All of them delicious, wrapped up in a cone shape, still steaming in the Paris air.

When I found a crepe recipe in my 100 Days of Real Food cookbook, it brought me back to that fab trip to Paris. While I had never made a crepe before, I thought it would be “similar” to pancakes. Boy, was I “wrong” (I feel like Joey on Friends, using his air quotes incorrectly). After many tries, I was able to make 3 decent crepes that would suffice for my boys’ school lunches (the recipe makes 16-18 thin crepes). Practice makes perfect, right?

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For my Bigs, I packed two crepes, some maple syrup, and some raspberry jam for dipping. I also packed a mandarin orange, blueberries, a few cinnamon apple sticks from Trader Joe’s, and a yogurt squeeze.

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My Smalls requested peanut butter for dipping, so I packed that and one crepe. I also packed blueberries (he likes those now), raisins, and a few cinnamon apple straws. He will have peanuts and applesauce for snack.

Here is the link to the recipe. I added almond extract.

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/08/16/recipe-crepes-for-breakfast-or-dessert/

Au revoir,

Kristin

Shortcut Shortstacks for Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday. And it coincides with Pancake Day. I read, today, that people who would be giving up sugar, eggs, and/or milk for Lent would feast on pancakes the day before Ash Wednesday in an effort to rid their pantries of those ingredients so that they would not go bad. Is that as fascinating to you as it is to me? What are you giving up for Lent? I have decided to give up desserts (save for a few pieces of birthday cake for a few important birthdays). #amicrazy #yes

To keep with this newly found (to me) tradition, I made gluten and dairy free pancakes for dinner tonight, with a fresh strawberry sauce and creamed honey (from Trader Joe’s – one of the best purchases of my life).

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I used a shortcut King Arthur Flour GF pancake mix and made it even better.

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These were SO good. I am embarrassed to say that I allowed my Bigs to eat, um, eight of these. Smalls ate a few less and without strawberry sauce (he is on a no strawberry kick).

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Gluten & Dairy Free Shrove Shortcut Shortstacks

1 pkg King Arthur Flour GF pancake mix (15 oz.)

2 large eggs

4 T coconut oil (you can use other oils or 6 T melted butter)

2 C milk (I used 1 C cashew milk, 1 C coconut milk)

1 T vanilla bean paste

2 t almond extract

Whisk together the eggs, oil (or butter), and milk. Whisk in the mix. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat your griddle pan to 350F. Scoop out the batter and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side (look for bubbles to pop).

Serve with fresh strawberry sauce.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

2 C fresh or frozen strawberries (I used frozen)

Place in a saucepan on medium heat, until softened. Put into a food processor and whiz until fully processed. Strain to get the larger unprocessed chunks out. Place back in saucepan to thicken.

EAT.

Happy Lent!

Kristin

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Have you ever heard of something that is half whole wheat? And that is both cake and a muffin at the same time? Me neither. Until now. These are so good, they’ll knock your socks off! I was inspired to make these for two reasons – 1) I had two completely brown, sad, and huge bananas on my counter (they were so pitiful and self-loathing, that they wouldn’t even hang on my banana hanger anymore), and 2) my oldest son had a craving for banana cake after a classmate brought some in his school lunchbox and who am I to mess with his cake-filled dreams.

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These came out so moist and soft, and with a tender crumb, just like cake should be (unless it’s wedding cake. I adore and crave a dense wedding cake.). I used both whole wheat flour and cake flour. I love when healthy and delicious collide.

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They are full of cozy, homey banana flavor and spiced with warm cinnamon.

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If given the opportunity, I would have eaten the whole pan.

Fortunately enough for me and my waistline, I was not afforded that opportunity.

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I also made a few mini muffins, perfect for little hands.

I hope you make these sweet little things and find them to be as easy and delicious as I did.

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Recipe makes 12 standard muffins, 12 mini muffins, and a little extra for a tasting (I used a mini spring form)

Recipe adapted from: “Banana Upside Down Mini Muffins”, Weelicious Lunches

2 large ripe bananas (or about 3 medium)

3/4 C buttermilk (I made mine with cashew milk and vinegar)

1 large egg

3 T oil (I used peanut, you can use canola, vegetable, or coconut)

1 t vanilla

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C cake flour

1/3 C packed brown sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla, and whisk together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.

Pour into the cupcake wrappers, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tins.

These are truly bananas! Try them.

Kristin

Christmas Sugar Cookies (and decorating with my boys!)

I made sugar cookies with my boys yesterday. They’re finally at the age where they can do it “properly” and enjoy it. Did I say “they”? I meant that my four and a half year old can do that. My two year old ate every sprinkle that crossed his path. And that was a lot of sprinkles. Enough to dye his mouth green for the duration of the day.

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I only needed about 30 cookies for my church group ladies and this recipe made more than that. I gave each boy their own little sheet of dough, pan, and apron, and set up the cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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Bigs sort of had an accident with the green sugar. Instead of opening the sprinkle cap, he unscrewed and dumped. Oops.

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I think he’d call this a “happy” accident. It all worked out. They had so much fun and their little cookies were so cute.

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They enjoyed eating them with big glasses of (coconut) milk.

While their cookies were baking, I got to work on mine.

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I wanted to do simple cookies this year. I used a star, Christmas tree, and sleigh cutters, and made thumbprints.

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I decorated them using my gold and silver sugars…

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…green sugars, and Christmas colored nonpareils.

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I have no idea what this thumbprint cookie is all about. I just went with it. If you squint, it could be a wreath-like thing.

Whatever, it’s a cookie.

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I love the way they came out! And, as equally important, they were delicious! I think my church gals will really enjoy them.

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These cookies are sturdy, but not overly-crunchy, and filled with vanilla and almond flavors. I added vanilla bean paste to amp up the vanilla flavor. I love seeing black speckles of vanilla beans in desserts.

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To me, they taste of Christmas!

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies

Adapted from: Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, lovegrowswild.com

  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ t vanilla extract
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • ½ t almond extract
  • 3 C of flour
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • colored sugars and nonpareils
  • cookie icing, if desired
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
  3. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a baking sheet. I prepared my baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars and nonpareils and bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 40-50 cookies, depending on your cutter size.

Enjoy!

Kristin

Happy 100 Blog Posts!

100

This is Sprinkles in my Lunchbox’s 100th post! I can’t believe I’ve already hit 100. I guess I had a lot to say! And mostly, I’ve eaten a lot.

100 posts might not seem like a lot compared to the beautiful blogs I follow, but for this little bloggy blog I started back in October 2013, almost 6 months ago, it’s a big deal. For me, anyways. It’s a dream that I made happen. I am happy I did it. It’s cathartic, it’s fun, and it’s been a great purpose for me.

To celebrate, I made a 100th Post Cake. Because…cake.

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Right away, I knew what recipe I wanted to use for my celebratory cake.

I used Willow Bird Baking’s White Sheet Cake with Fluffy Whipped Icing.

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I have been following Willow Bird Baking for about five years, and the writer of the blog, Julie, is such an inspiration. When I decided to start this blog, I would refer back to hers for moral support. And she always has such lovely writing, great pictures, and fabulous recipes. There was one post, in particular, where she gave out advice to other food bloggers. I loved her advice. She also had a recipe with that advice. I loved her recipe. I knew I had to make it.

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So I did. To celebrate. Not that you need, in my humble opinion, a “real” reason to make a cake. Who’s with me?

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I halved the recipe, since I knew that if I didn’t, I’d eat a whole cake. And as much fun as that sounds, I don’t want to set a bad example to my little boys. And other reasons. Apparently sitting down with a full cake on your lap and a fork in your hand is frowned upon. But whatever.

I used a weird sized pan because that’s what I had.  It still came out. I could have used a 9×9 for a thicker cake, but there is something about a long cake that looks so appealing to me. And it was short and squat too. Sort of like a cake made for a dollhouse.

Even cuter.

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Julie was right – the addition of the almond extract, in both the cake and the frosting, really gave the cake a bakery taste. I love a bakery taste. I love almond cake. So delicate. So bakery.

I love the word, “bakery”. It conjures up the most beautiful pictures in my mind. “Cake” does too. Is that weird?

The cake itself was really easy to whip together.

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So was the frosting.

Moist, white, almond-cake, covered in a sweet, smooth frosting.

Yes please.

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Thank you to my family, friends, and followers of this blog. I am so thankful to have an audience that cares what drivel I find myself writing down each time. I am grateful for you.

And thank you to Julie, for being a great starting point for me, a mentor of sorts, and an inspirational support.

Thank you friends!

Sincerely and God Bless,

Kristin

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Recipe for the cake and frosting that you need to try yesterday:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2013/02/05/white-sheet-cake-with-fluffy-whipped-icing/

Sweetie Pie

hearts

Tomorrow is a big day in Bigs’ class – it’s his Valentine’s Day party! No matter how many old (relatively speaking) pictures I show him, he doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day last year. So this time around should be groundbreaking for him. I think he’ll really enjoy it! The parents of Bigs’ classmates have been invited to a potluck lunch in his classroom, and we are so excited! I was in charge of desserts. Obvi. It’s what I do. Plus, they may not know it, but none of the other attendees want anything I’ve cooked. Blarg.

will you be mine

I made three different desserts. I love variety. I think that’s why I love buffets so much (don’t judge). I need options. Lots of options.

All the desserts I made for tomorrow are gluten free. Not only is my husband GF, but one of Bigs’ sweet classmates is. I love being able to make desserts that everyone can eat. AND that taste great!

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The first dessert I made was a Cherry Vanilla Almond Meringue Cookie.

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I doubled the recipe and it made approximately one million. The recipe called for cherry extract, but as my life typically goes, I did not have that. I did, however, have a Duncan Hines Cherry Vanilla Frosting Starter (powder intended to be mixed into vanilla frosting). It added both a lovely cherry vanilla flavor AND color. I also added Wilton pink (rosa) gel color and extra almond extract to make up for the vibrant cherry flavoring. They came out so festively pink and delicious!

http://momspark.net/holiday-dessert-cherry-almond-meringues/

The second dessert I made was a chocolate cookie I first made about a week ago – Vegan Chocolate Haystacks. SO GOOD! And easy. Two of my favorite things.

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This time, I used Hershey’s DARK chocolate cocoa and they came out richer and more chocolatey.

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

And lastly, I made a GF chocolate cinnamon cookie that I’ve made half a dozen times before. They are really unbelievably good. These were the first cookie I’d eaten that really broke my own personal stigma against gluten free food.

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Chock FULL of chocolate chips, these little babies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummers. This is a family favorite cookie in our house, long before my husband went GF and DF.

http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

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I put the desserts in a hot pink tray that I found at the Dollar Store. I also found the little vase there as well. It says, “Love” in different fonts on it. I filled it with conversation hearts. I think it looks cute.

I meannnn, this would be a lovely addition to any Valentine’s Day table!

Even one’s own personal table for one, if that’s your case. If single, I’d DEFINITELY make sure I were eating well.

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I can’t wait to tuck into this (my portion ONLY) tomorrow!

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Happy Valentine’s Eve Eve (so lame)!

I am sadly missing out on a Mommy Night Out making chocolates due to horribly inclement weather. Such a bummer, but I’ll pinch a cookie out of the batches I made today and pretend I’m in a chocolate factory (using the depths of my imagination).

Valentines

Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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