6.26.2013

A Lucky Leaf GIVEAWAY and {No Bake} Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifles


You've probably noticed that I've done a number of Lucky Leaf Giveaways and baked the same number of their delicious recipes [e.g., Cherry Cheesecake Pie, Mini Fruit Pies, and Cherry Coconut Squares].  And seemingly, each giveaway has been better the prior!  Lucky me and you, eh? 

But folks.  This is easily my favorite Lucky Leaf recipe to date.  It's absolutely scrumptious, the simplest to put together, and undoubtedly bears the cutest presentation.  See, getting better every time!


So let's get into this summa' time treat because we both know you just want to get to that giveaway, huh?

For this round, Lucky Leaf focused on crowd-pleasing summer time goodies that also gives us bakers some relief from the hot kitchen.  I mean really, who wants to sweat over a scorching stove and/or oven when it's 95+ and humid out?  My hand is firmly down.


Tilly reaaaaaaaally wanted a trifle!

So in addition to three [no bake] summer recipes, Lucky Leaf also sent me a package of four [too cute] mason jars, two mason jar carriers, and three different flavors of Lucky Leaf pie fillings.  And because I couldn't get enough of those dang mason jars, I had to make the [No Bake] Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifles.  And I'm telling everyone right now who plans on visiting us any time soon, I will be shoveling these into your face because they are that good.  For the life of me, I still can not figure out why I had never tried these types of adorable desserts before?  Shame on me.  But now [thanks to Lucky Leaf], I have a nice collection of mason jars.  So let the layering begin!

This decadent [yet fluffy and light] dessert includes layers and layers of summery yummyness.  Let's start with a cinnamony almond streusel nestled under a layer of fresh blueberries, topped with a [finger-dipping, addicting] smooth lemon cheesecake filling, and finished with buttery pound cake pieces.  Oh yeah, x2.  Yep, if you're using a mason jar you'll have enough room for double the layers.  And you'll still be coming back for more!


So I know mason jars aren't typically a staple in anyone's house, so it must be your lucky day!  As part of this go-around's giveaway, Lucky Leaf will send a winner a a package containing a Lucky Leaf pie filling, a mason jar, and a recipe card, so you can get going on your [no bake] summer time treats!

All YOU have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite summer time recipe, savory or sweet!  The giveaway will be only be open until July 12th, so leave your comment today!  Then, I'll randomly select a winner and announce the lucky reader soon after!  Easy peasy, if I do say so.  So get commentin'!  .

Adapted from Lucky Leaf

Ingredients:
Graham Cracker Streusel:
9 cinnamon graham crackers, crushed
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1 pinch of salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
 
No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Filling:
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1-1/2 c. Lucky Leaf Premium Lemon Pie Filling
 
1 (10.75 oz.) frozen pound cake, thawed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
18 oz. fresh blueberries
6 mason jars (optional)
 
Directions:
  1. For streusel, toss crushed graham crackers, light brown sugar, almonds, salt, and melted butter in a small bowl until butter is evenly distributed.
  2. For cheesecake filling, beat together cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Gently fold in whipped topping and pie filling until evenly combined.
  3. To layer, sprinkle streusel in bottom of jar until bottom is covered (about 3/4-inch thick).  Follow with blueberries, cheesecake mixture, and pound cake cubes.  Repeat steps until mason jar is filled. 
 
Yield: 6 servings

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6.19.2013

Father's Day PCCC

So here I am, writing to my lovely readers from good ol' Minne.  During the first weekend of the CWS.

Wait, what?!

Yeah that's right.  There must be something wrong with me.  Or I must really love my dad.  Probably the latter...


Doesn't he have the greatest daughter on Earth!?

Just kidding.

Wait, wait, wait...REWIND.

As you can see, I started writing this post pre-Father's Day weekend but as life would have it, I never got around to actually finishing it.  Oops.  So let's get back on track...

Please note Robbie flexing in the upper right picture; for Father's Day, we bought my parents new patio furniture!

Robbie and I spent Father's Day weekend in Minnesota.  We originally had plans to hit up the opening weekend CWS games but with a little thought, we felt we would have the most fun enjoying the games in the air conditioning with our pups and my pops, Dale.  We're all sports fanatics and since it's been some time since we've seen my family, a trip up North sounded just right.  And fortunately we have the rest of this week and upcoming weekend to catch our fair share of games.

But to further prove my point that I'm the best daughter ever, guess what I did?!

Well, I catered to my dad's good ol' classic tastes and whipped up a tasty batch of his favorite all time treat: PCCC.


Okay, I know I've mentioned what PCCC's are before but for the sake of you all, we can refresh: Plain [ol'] Chocolate Chip Cookies.

As you might notice looking through my recipes, 'classics' aren't usually first on my list.  Yes, I've definitely participated in them, but I tend to bake recipes with a little twist.  But like I mentioned, my dad goes for everything classic [I think it's a guy thing...] so he always gives me a hard time for using 'chocolate imported from France' or 'specially ground almond flour.'  Okay, I don't honestly use either of those but Dale has always been a jokester.  He keeps it lighthearted, gotta love it!

So for dad's special day, I opted to go with his wishes and surprise him with a batch of simple, straightforward PCCCs.  With a little twist...

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist!!


But it's actually a very subtle change, and we all agreed that if I wouldn't have mentioned anything no one would have really noticed.  Both Robbie and my dad actually asked if I had used different chocolate chips [remember, imported chocolate?]!  But the consensus was that the cookie was just dang good, plain and simple just like Dale likes them.

But to clue you in, the only change to a standard PCCC recipe is that this cookie uses bread flour [introduced by the food science man himself, Alton Brown].  See, not too crazy!  The result is that the cookie ends up a bit chewier and soft, which I absolutely love.  So if you're into the crunchy cookie, then this ain't for you.

But you'll probably regret not testing it out.  Just sayin.'

Anywho, hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day and were able to celebrate those special men in our lives.  I know we had a wonderful weekend, love you, dad!  .

My Notes:
  • To scoop my dough, I used a 1-inch cookie scoop.  But the original recipe suggested about 1.5 tablespoon (or just go with a scant tablespoon) if you don't have a cookie scoop on hand.


Ingredients:
1 c. unsalted butter
2-1/4 c. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. sugar
1-1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  3. In the large bowl with butter, add sugar and brown sugar.  Cream on medium speed until thoroughly combined.  Add egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined.  Slowly pour in flour mixture with mixer on low just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Chill dough until firm but pliable.  Heat oven to 350°F.  Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown, turning baking sheet at about 5 minutes to ensure even baking.  Remove from oven onto wire rack to let cool.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies


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6.11.2013

{No Bake} Nutella Cookies

And it's the beginning of the week once again.  But did everyone have a good weekend?!

Over in our neck of the woods, the weekend absolutely flew by because on Friday night, Robbie and I headed down to Kansas City for his sister's baby shower weekend.  We went down a bit early to see their brand new house, do a little shoppin', and of course hang out with the fam.  It's pretty rare for the entire family to get together due to distance, so we gotta take advantage when we can!


The weekend ended with the baby shower on Sunday afternoon and fortunately most of the immediate family were all able to attend, many of them making 5+ hour drives in order to celebrate the special occassion.  This will be the first grandchild in Robbie's family so you can imagine the buzz and excitement!  It was also really great to see all of Robbie's relatives again since I hadn't personally seen them since Kelli and Brett's wedding [Robbie's sister and brother-in-law] a few years back.  The shower was held at the soon-to-be-parents house and was filled with loads of gifts, summertime foods, and endless chatter.  So all in all, a perfectly lovely afternoon!

But you're probably thinking these [No Bake] Nutella Cookies debuted at the baby shower, huh?  Well, unfortunately they didn't quite make it that far into the weekend.  Well, the majority of them didn't.  But no worries, that wasn't the plan anyway.  And there were plenty of lovely desserts at the shower, Kelli's girlfriends had it all covered!


I actually made these [deeeeeeeeelicious] little chocolate nuggets as a weekend treat for everyone.  Kelli and Brett graciously hosted Robbie and I, his family, and his mom's sister, for the weekend so I figured a little snack was the least I could offer.  And luckily...these were a hit.

Do any of you remember the regular no bake cookies from your childhood?  Because I most definitely do.  And if you never had these, your parents deprived you of something fabulous.  And I'm only slightly joking...


These little mounds of chocolatey yumminess are downright addicting.  A couple bites of one just isn't enough, you'll find yourself going back for a second.  And third...  Trust me.  But what makes them so dang good?  Well...the chewy oatmeal, the richness of the Nutella flavor, and the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate concoction binding this simple recipe into a classic cookie you'll make for the kiddos [and yourself] over and over!  So despite your busy schedule, I know you'll have a hot moment to whip up these chocolate bombs [thank you, Jamie!].  Stove on...stir...and cookies!

P.S. I haven't mentioned the gender of the baby because Kelli and Brett have decided to wait to find out.  So we'll find out what 'Baby L' ['L' for Lauritsen, their last name] really is around July 19, when the little bundle is due!  So be on the look out for a baby post right around that time  .

My Notes:
  • I doubled the ingredients from the original recipe and the cookies turned out perfectly.  So if you're serving a big crowd [or people who can crush cookies], double away! 

Adapted from Six Sister's Stuff

Ingredients:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. milk
1-3/4 c. sugar
4 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. Nutella
3 c. quick cooking oats

Directions:
  1. Line baking sheets with wax paper, aluminum foil, or parchment paper; set aside.  In a large saucepan, whisk together butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder, over medium heat.  Bring to a rolling boil and then boil for 1 minute.  Remove bowl from heat.  
  2. Add vanilla extract and Nutella and whisk until combined.  Add oats and stir until completely incorporated.  
  3. Drop batter by scant tablespoonfuls on prepared baking sheets.  Let cool until set.
Yield: 30 cookies

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6.05.2013

Better Than Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

I've got an exciting recipe for you guys today so we're getting right into it.

Sweet and simple.  Just like this cupcake.

So I mentioned in my last post that I've been given the opportunity to bake cupcakes for a wedding reception at the end of June.  Which is [incredibly] fastly approaching.


But not to worry, as we see here I've been testing out cupcake recipes and also trying to create a cohesive design in my head for the display table at the reception.  With the help of the lovely bride, cupcake liners have been selected and ordered and a nifty three pack of [very affordable and versatile] square Cupcake Trees will serve as our main display pieces, each featuring a different flavored cupcake.  We're also planning to decorate the table and displays with the flowers that will be scattered throughout the reception. 

Not gonna lie, I'm a little excited about how this is all unfolding.  I've obviously never done anything close to this scale or significance, so this has been quite the learning experience but a complete blast!  I've got to say, I have even more respect for you business owners out there, every decision is critically important [keeping in mind the financials while also doing what's best for your customer] and there's just so much to think about!  Flat out.  It's insane.


But anywho, I said we'd get right into this cupcake but I got sidetracked.  As usual. 

Like I mentioned, we'll be having three different cupcakes at the reception: Nutella Cloud CupcakesHummingbird Cupcakes, and the unknown vanilla cupcake.  I've made vanilla cupcakes before but none that absolutely knocked my socks off.  I mean, they were delish but in the back of my mind I knew I could find the perfect one.  So with a little research, I stumbled upon that recipe I just couldn't pass up.


Cookies & Cups described this recipe as her absolute favorite vanilla cupcake.  And she openly admits that boxed mixes reign supreme in her house, so when her hubby gave two thumbs up to this recipe, she knew it was a keeper.  Because let's be honest, those boxed cupcake mixes are dang good but replicating the light, fluffy texture in a homemade version can be pretty tricky.  But Cookies & Cups did it and more.  Lucky for me!

So this recipe is actually quite straight forward.  A classic vanilla cupcake topped with a rich, smooth vanilla buttercream.  But the kicker is that it's simply done well.  I mean, really well.  Let's say taking those boxed mixes and kickin' it up a notch [or three] plus the added benefit of everything homemade.  We all know you can taste that extra lovin' when it comes straight from you very own kitchen, right?


The cupcake itself is buttery and truly fluffy [which is obvious in the pictures alone!] , made so by the use of cake flour.  I still haven't determined why we don't use cake flour more often, from my experience every time I've used it the cakes/cupcakes come out wonderfully light in texture.  But who doesn't love a dense chocolate cake every now and then...

Anywho.  I brought the batch of Vanilla Cupcakes into work because I knew I could get some honest feedback from a large crowd of co-workers.  And the consensus was.....

The frosting is bomb.com.


While everyone thought the cake was scrumptious, it was this frosting that did everyone in.  The not-too-sweet cupcake is paired perfectly with this rich, creamy, and smooth buttercream frosting, that seemingly melts away in your mouth.  It's the absolute quintessential complement to the buttery cake, making this a classic duo that you will want to keep in your repertoire.  I mean, it's so good I'm using this recipe for a wedding.  A wedding

So if you don't mind, it'd be great if any of you tried this recipe.  I know I'm asking you to totally sacrifice yourself and eat cupcakes, but that's what friends do for friends, right?  Thanks in advance!  .

My Notes:
  • I found that when I was mixing in the butter, there were some large stubborn pieces that wouldn't quite mix in but I simply used my fingertips to rub in the butter.
  • You can use whichever type of milk you'd like, but I went for the extra yumminess and used whole milk in this recipe.
Adapted from Cookies & Cups
Ingredients:
Vanilla Cupcakes:
1-3/4 c. cake flour
1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1-3/4 c. sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, at room temperature and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 eggs
1 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
 
Vanilla Buttercream:
1-1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350F.  Line standard muffins tins with liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake flour, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, for 1 minutes.  With mixer on low speed, drop in a few butter cubes at a time until all butter is mixed in and mixture resembles coarse sand.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, until just combined.  Slowly add in milk and vanilla extract, with mixer still on low speed.  Turn mixer to medium speed and beat for about 2 minutes or until batter is smooth [make sure to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as the mixture tends to clump in these areas].
  4. Fill liners about 2/3 full and smooth tops slightly. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until centers are set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. For buttercream, cream butter and shortening together in a large bowl until smooth (about 3 minutes).  Slowly add powdered sugar and once all is added, turn mixer to medium-high speed for about 1 minute.  Add milk and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until frosting is smooth [if the frosting is too thick, add more milk; conversely, if the frosting is too thin, add powdered sugar.  Little bits at a time though!]. 
  6. Once cupcakes are cooled, frost as desired.
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

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