Apricot squares

It was one of those days where I wanted to do some baking, but I ran out of eggs (as well as good ideas). It was also too cold to go to the grocery store.

I found some jars of apricot filling in the pantry. Mind you – I did not buy this. It isn’t something I usually bake with. I’m fairly certain that my husband bought it by mistake. I don’t hate apricot though, so I figured I’d better use it.

Any fruit filling works pretty well with a plain cake mix. It provides flavor and moisture, and also helps to bind the ingredients together. But I still needed to add at least 2 eggs. The fruit alone doesn’t do the same good job at binding as eggs do. So I had to improvise by making some kind of egg substitute.

Thank goodness for Google. I found out that if you combine water, vegetable oil, and baking powder in a specific ratio, it forms the consistency of a runny egg – helping to bind any baked good together. It was a worth a shot, and I’m glad I tried it – because in the end result, you couldn’t even tell there was no egg. This will make vegan baking a cinch from now on 😉

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Poppy seed bread

I’ve been doing a lot of Netflix watching lately, mainly because when I leave my house the air hurts my face. I absolutely HATE the cold. I’m shocked I haven’t moved out of the northeast yet.

But I digress. My current Netflix obsession is The Great British Baking Show. It’s so adorable. The contestants seem to genuinely care about their craft, being successful, and being good to one another. The competition isn’t intense in the slightest – nobody is at each other’s throats. Such a breath of fresh air!

I was watching an episode where the contestants had to bake different kinds of bread. They started by baking rolls using rye flour, then they had to move on to baking ciabatta loaves, and then they had the freedom to bake a bread of their choice. Overall, I was pretty inspired (and hardcore craving fresh bread) by the time the episode was over. My bread machine was calling me. I had a can of poppy seed filling left in the pantry from my Christmas baking, and I figured this would be a good time to put it to use. I was right 🙂

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Roasted sausage with root vegetables

Welp, it’s absolutely freezing. Freezing to the point where I don’t want to leave my house, or even my bed. Sleeping with 2 blankets kind of freezing. Enough snow to shut school for 2 days kind of freezing.

But you know what helps when you’re freezing? The oven being on.

I’m all about letting my oven heat up the house – or at least the kitchen. So a one-pan meal prepared in the oven was the perfect choice for dinner.

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Dark chocolate rum bundt

HAPPY 2018!

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s celebration with family and good friends… and most importantly, good food.

With every new year, I like to reflect on the last. Some years are better than others, and some years I never want to think about again. But there’s something all years have in common: I end them thankful. Thankful for being alive, thankful for having my family in my corner at all times, and thankful for opportunities to be a better version of myself.

Wait… I mentioned good food earlier. I am ALWAYS thankful for good food. And speaking of good food, today’s recipe is for a cake that I made for New Year’s Day last year. It was a big hit in my chocolate (and alcohol) loving family. This is exactly what food is meant to do – bring people together. Even people who don’t have much in common have at least one thing – they eat.

So what does 2018 have in store? Helping others has always been a focus of mine (which is why I teach), but I’m going to work on extending this beyond school. I’ve always been invested in my own health, but I want to be more consistent with exercise and worry less about trivial matters. I want to take more trips, and experience new things. I want to try different foods – for my own enjoyment, and for your reading pleasure. I want to be the best wife, daughter, teacher, and friend that I can be.

How about you? What are your hopes and wishes for 2018? Continue reading Dark chocolate rum bundt

Cream puff pastries

Let this be the dessert that closes out 2017.

These cream puffs are delicious and adorable. I have never met someone who didn’t love them.

This super-simple, super-tasty recipe has been passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, to me. These are a staple at any of our family gatherings, and for good reason – THEY RULE. When dusted with powdered sugar, they look super classy and sophisticated to boot. Nobody would ever believe how easy they are to make!

I’m sure you and your family will enjoy them just as much as we always did and still do. Bring them to a NYE party and impress your friends! =)

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Cinnamon & honey breakfast cake

Desserts for breakfast is probably one of my favorite things about the holiday season. There is always some kind of cake, cookie, or pie left over from the celebrations – and don’t lie – when you wake up in the morning, you go for it. We all do. No shame here.

Who doesn’t love cake for breakfast?!

I almost exclusively make this recipe as a breakfast cake – even though it is by no means a healthy breakfast. However, it goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea and it is sure to make your morning infinitely more delicious.

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Maple gingerbread

What’s a more classic Christmas cookie than a gingerbread cookie?!

These are absolutely perfect – crisp outside, chewy middle, the right amount of spice, and a sugar topping. The maple extract and syrup truly bring out the spicy flavor of the cookie  (rum extract with dark corn syrup works very well also).

Feel free to roll this dough out and use cookie cutters to make gingerbread men for a more kid-friendly cookie. Just don’t forget to adjust the baking time!

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Rainbow cookies

Anyone from NY knows that rainbow cookies are a big deal. They are a colorful staple in almost every bakery.

These traditional Italian cookies are chewy, soft, fruity, nutty, and chocolatey. They’re basically perfect, and beautiful to boot.

Making them takes a little bit of patience, but worth every minute. Give it a try! Continue reading Rainbow cookies