Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake

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So this was a big event for me baking wise.  I have been wanting to make a cake for a really long time, but just haven’t had the time yet.  I have made cakes before, but they were smaller.  This is my first real layer cake complete with frosting and filling, so I was really excited.  Mostly I make individual sized desserts like brownies, bars, and cupcakes.

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I wanted to do something different than your traditional chocolate and vanilla.   I found this wonderful recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I knew immediately I had to make it. Originally it called for raspberries, but since I didn’t have any, I substituted with strawberries and it came out wonderful!  Its a vanilla cake recipe and then filled with chocolate chips and strawberries…what more could you want?

Also, just to note, the recipe calls for it to be a 3 layer cake; however, I only had two cake pans, so I just made a two layer cake, which was delicious all the same!

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I brought it to my family for Easter Sunday last week, and everyone loved it! I think its just a really great recipe that can satisfy a lot of different people.

Original Recipe can be found here.

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What you need

Ingredients:

3 and ¼ cups (405g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, melted
1 and ¾ cups (350g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (480ml) buttermilk*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries
Chocolate chips (as many as you want!)
MILK CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3-4 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup (63g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 – 5 Tablespoons (45-75ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
salt, to taste*

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Generously coat three 9x9x2 inch round baking pans with nonstick spray (I used coconut oil spray). Set aside.

To make the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and then set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Then, vigorously whisk in the granulated sugar, then the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Once the wet ingredients are whisked together, slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until there are barely any lumps. The batter will be very thick – try not to overmix. Fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips – be gentle.

Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake for 22-24 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

Make the frosting: Cream the butter with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. This will create a nice creamy base for the frosting. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3/4 cup of cocoa powder. Mix on low. Add 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. If your frosting is too thin, add up to 1 more cup of powdered sugar. If your frosting is too thick, add up to 2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream. Taste and add salt if you prefer.

Assemble and frost: Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Place 2nd layer on top, and add more frosting on top and spread around the sides.

*I did not have buttermilk, so I just made it myself.  To do this for the 2 cups milk, add 2 two tablespoons white vinegar to it and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

* I forgot to add the salt and vanilla to the frosting and it tasted fine, it was just very rich.  These measurements are from the original recipe, so use if you like.

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This was such a delicious cake, I really recommend it if you’re looking for something a bit different or a bit more sophisticated.

Let me know how you liked it!

Love,

Jess

Earl Grey Cupcakes

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Happy Daylight Savings!

I slept right through my alarm, well I actually turned it off and then promptly went back to bed for another hour, so daylight savings time didn’t really affect my sleep schedule so much as it just put me back an hour into my day. But I actually love daylight savings because now it will be lighter, later at night, and it’s not going to be 5 o clock and pitch black.

Anyways, I feel like a broken record when I say I’ve been so busy lately.  These past two months have been insane, I’ve been living and breathing swan lake, and if i’m not in rehearsal, I’ve been at auditions.  Its been a crazy winter, but its dying down now, and I’ve finally had some time to bake.

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Cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake because you can have so much fun with flavors, decorating, and filling.  I love coming up with fun cupcake combinations, healthy or not.  Today I wanted to stray from the normal chocolate/vanilla and make something a bit more interesting.

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I decided on these Earl Grey Cupcakes from Mrs.B’s Kitchen.  They’re perfect because I love tea and I love cupcakes! The only problem I ran into was the measurements.  Her recipe uses the Metric system, so I had to convert it all to cups.  I think I may have make some calculation errors because the cupcakes came out very dense, almost scone-like.  However, they are still really yummy and I love the flavor, so it doesn’t bother me.

I used red food coloring to dye the frosting a light pink and then topped the cupcakes with edible pearls and silver sprinkles to give them an elegant touch.  These are definitely more sophisticated cupcakes perfect for an afternoon tea or dinner party.

What you need

4 Earl Grey tea bags

1/2 cup skim or low fat milk

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp almond extract

2 large eggs

1 cup self raising flour

1 cup flour

Frosting

1 stick butter

1/4 cup milk

4 cups powdered sugar

food coloring of choice

Pre-heat the oven to 350F line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk on a medium heat until it starts to boil. Take it off the heat and put the teabags in. Cover the saucepan and leave the teabags to infuse for 30 minutes, then dispose of the teabags.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the almond extract and mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, mix both of the flours. Add one third of the flour to the butter mixture and mix gently until just combined. Pour in one half of the warm milk and again mix until just combined. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added, ending with the flour. It’s really important to not overmix at this stage and only beat until the ingredients are just combined at each addition.
Spoon the mixture into the liners, filling each case to about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes.
Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then place the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, in a large bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and 2 cups of the powdered sugar until well combined and smooth. Be prepared to beat the mixture for a few minutes to get a delicious frosting! Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar and keep beating until well combined and creamy.
You can add a few drops of food coloring to the frosting and beat until the food coloring is evenly mixed throughout.

Original Recipe located here.

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I hope you like these cupcakes! If you try them out, Let me know!

Love,

Jess

M&M Cookie Oat Bars

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Valentine’s Day is this Saturday! Normally, I don’t really care for Valentine’s Day, as I never have anyone to spend it with, but it is a great holiday to justify eating tons chocolate, which I plan on doing this year.  Last year, I was on a chocolate restriction during Valentine’s Day, but at the insistence of my friends, I actually let myself indulge in a truffle.  I remember feeling so terrible and embarrassed about it, and thinking it was such a big deal that I had a piece of chocolate.  Now, I eat chocolate everyday, granted it’s usually dark chocolate, but its still chocolate.  I’ve learned that restricting only makes things worse, so let yourself indulge a little everyday.

I’ve been seeing my Instagram, flooded with Valentine’s Day dessert ideas, and I’ve been dying to make one of my own.  One of my best friend’s birthday is tomorrow, so I figured it was the perfect excuse to start baking! I found the recipe for these Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat bars on Pinterest from Half Baked Harvest. Normally, Valentine’s Day means chocolate covered strawberries and just rich chocolatey treats, but I have been really craving cookies lately.  You can never go wrong with a good cookie, so I figured, why not?

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Instead of filling these bars with dark chocolate chunks, I used festive M&M’s (which I know are not healthy) but it uses oats to reduce the flour and uses no butter, so I figured, its kind of healthy. I topped the bars with chocolate chips, and that was a great touch because it allowed there to be melted chocolate on top, since the M&Ms don’t really melt.

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Original Recipe: Half Baked Harvest

What you need

2 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
M&M’s to taste and a sprinkle of chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl with a mixer add the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, melted coconut oil, eggs and vanilla and beat until combined and the dough holds together

Fold the M&Ms into the batter and spread batter into pan. Top with more m&ms and chocolate chips.  Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and Enjoy!

*Note: I needed just a little more than 1 cup of coconut oil, I would recommend putting 1 cup in, and if you feel like you need more, melt a small amount more and add in.

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Hope you liked this Valentine’s Day inspired recipe!

Love,

Jess

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Oat Bars

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I’m going to start off this post by saying a few things I’m thankful for…First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family, they are always there for me through thick and thin, and I am so blessed to have my loving family always supporting me.  Next, I’m thankful for my health. This past year has been quite an emotional battle and with everything I’ve gone through, I’ve realized my health, emotional and physical, is one of the most important things in my life.  Last, to keep this brief, is my happiness.  I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. One of these things is that you have a choice everyday to be happy.  I’m thankful that I have come to the realization that life should be fun and free and full of laughter; being happy is something you are in control of.

So on a less serious note…

I got up bright and early today to bake some pumpkin bars! We are hosting thanksgiving this year, so my mom has lots to do and making my dessert was not on her list, so I got up early and hurried into the kitchen to get these baked without inconveniencing my mother. Thankfully, we’re not in charge of the turkey this year, my aunt is bringing it, so we just have to make the sides, which can still be quite a project.

I was looking over the dessert list for today and I realized there was no pumpkin dishes! You can’t have thanksgiving without pumpkin, so I decided to make pumpkin snicker doodle oat bars from hungry happens. I saw these on instagram last night and thought they looked so good.  Also, I’m not a fan of just plain pumpkin pie, so i’m hoping this will be a more fun way to incorporate pumpkin into thanksgiving.

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These bars almost didn’t happen.  We didn’t have the main ingredient, pumpkin puree.  My sister was out getting her daily starbucks, and fortunately she stopped at the grocery store on her way home.  So after I thought I had all the ingredients, I started making these.  I got all the way to adding the spices when I realized I didn’t have pumpkin pie spice.  Yeah…you can tell we are not pumpkin lovers in this house.  Anyway, we had apple pie spice, so I used that.  They still taste great, so I would suggest to use whatever you want or whatever you have. Anyway, they eventually were cooked and cooled and were a big hit!

What you need

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (+3 tbs later)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs vanilla extract
1.5 tsp apple pie spice
1 1/4 cups oat flour (if you don’t have this, just grind up 1 1/4 cup oats)
2 tsp cinnamon
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 9×7 brownie pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and let it cool.

In a large bowl, add the butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and combine. Add the oat flour slowly, in small increments, until just combined. Pour into the pan and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula.

In a small bowl combine the 3 tbs sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle this on top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cake to sit in the pan for at least 15 minutes but I would suggest even longer.

Once cooled, remove from the pan and slice.  I got 20 bars out of these, but if you want bigger bars, you can get 16 bars.

Hope you are all have a wonderful thanksgiving and enjoying the day with family and friends!

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Oh and just as a fun fact: The dishes my bars are pictured on are passed down the from my great grandmother, and so my mom wanted to use them for thanksgiving so that nana could be with us in spirit!

Love,

Jess

Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

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So, I decided to make a dish this week that you could bring to pass.  This dip is a really, really easy recipe that is great to bring to parties, gatherings, or any other get together.  One of the hardest things when I go to social events like these is dealing with the appetizers.  Appetizers are my weakness. I end up mindlessly eating and before I know it, I’ve eaten double the amount of food than I normally would.  The same thing goes for desserts, I’ll grab a cookie here and there and next thing I know, I’ve eaten a pile of sweets.

The best thing I’ve learned when in situations where food is around for the whole party is Make a Plate. If you get a plate and fill it up with all the food you want, you can then assess after you’ve eaten if your hungry for more and need to go back to the food.  In addition, it gives you an idea of how much you’re eating.  Instead of just grabbing chips and dip every so often, if you make a plate of all the various food items, you can still have a little of everything without having too much of anything.

Another thing I try to keep in mind is to Plan Ahead.  If you’re at a party and there’s going to be a meal served, keep that in mind when you pick your appetizers. A lot of times, when I want to go back for more, if I remind myself that dinner is coming, it will prevent me from overeating.

Last, remove yourself from the food if possible.  If the appetizers are in a certain spot, then once you’ve eaten enough, try to find a different place in the room to mingle.  If you remove yourself from temptation, it will be easier to wait till you’re hungry again.

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These are just a few tips I like to think about to stay healthy and happy but still have fun!  So the dish I created is a peanut butter greek yogurt dip.  I have seen this dip all over pinterest and have been dying to try it.  You know the classic peanut butter and apples, well, this is a healthy and more nutritious (and yummy) version of that classic combo.  I also added a little sweetness with some sprinkles of chocolate chips, but that is totally optional.  I figured this would be a great dip to bring to a party because it is so simple and quick.  If you’re not an amazing cook or simply don’t have time, this is a fast way to bring a healthy and delicious dip for everyone to share.  Even if you just want to make this for yourself, it’s a great snack or dessert. You can pair this with apples, bananas, pretzels, graham crackers, or anything else you want.

TIP: If you are bringing this for a large crowd double or triple the recipe, these measurements only made a small amount.

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Original recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

1 container plain greek yogurt

3 tablespoons peanut butter

3 teaspoons honey

Optional: Top with chocolate chips 🙂

Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir till combined.

This practically take less than two minutes, so its great if you are in a pinch or just simply want a yummy snack or dessert with little to no time wasted.

Also, something I wanted to mention.  I recently found out about Aloha.com, which is a wonderful website dedicated to health and happiness. They have a healthy recipe page that has so many different recipes that are all focused on health and nutrition. I am constantly looking for new recipes and love it when I can find a place full of healthy options. You can find there recipe page by clicking here.

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Oh also, I apologize for the brown apples in the picture.  I had to use very ripe ones and then mistakenly let them sit out too long before photographing.

Love,

Jess

Cinnamon Oatmeal Apple Bread

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Woah, it has been a while.  I thought it had only been 2 weeks but it turns out it has been 3 weeks since I’ve last posted which is really weird and not good.  I have been insanely busy lately though.  It is officially Nutcracker season, and now with rehearsals during the day in addition to all my ballet classes, it leaves little time for school, and no time for blogging.  I really wanted to make halloween treats to share, but like I’ve said before, my schedule has been crazy these past few weeks.

This is a dish I made a while ago, but I really loved it and wanted to share.  It wasn’t perfect, but that was mostly my fault because I didn’t put enough oil in the dish.  If you use the correct amount, which I will put on here, your bread will come out yummy, and not crumbly! Apples are one of my favorite fruits, and I love apple baked goods even more.  Since its fall, I’ve decided to go crazy with apples, and I’ve been eating them all the time and baking them in everything.

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This is Cinnamon Oatmeal Apple Bread.  The original recipe is from Lovely Little Kitchen, and she used a glaze on top, which I left off.  This wasn’t for any purpose, I simply forgot about it…Whoops. This recipe is supposed to make 2 regular loaves, but I ended up making 3 mini loaves.

CINNAMON OATMEAL APPLE BREAD

Original Recipe: Lovely Little Kitchen

Serves: 2 loaves or 3 mini loaves.

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut oil
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease two loaf pans or 3 mini loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients by hand until just combined.
Divide batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 43-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

After it cools for a bit, remove from pans and set on a cooling rack. Let cool, and enjoy!

*When baking I found that it took a little longer than 45 minutes.  Check at that time and then continually check after that till toothpick comes out clean.

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I found that it was still super yummy without the glaze, but by all means use her glaze recipe because it will only make it better.

I hope you like it and Happy Halloween!

Love,

Jess

Healthy Apple Muffins

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Fall is here! Yay! I love fall, the trees change color, the weather gets cooler, and pumpkins and apples become a staple in your household-what could be better?  In celebration of fall arriving, I made apple muffins!  I really wanted to make a recipe that was on the healthier side because I love muffins, but they can pack in calories and fat.  Also, ballet is in full swing, and healthier muffins just make me feel better.

My sister can get annoyed sometimes when all I make is low fat desserts, and no matter how much we all want them to taste exactly the same, full butter and oil desserts just taste better.  Theres no denying it.  However, I did win her over with these muffins.  She loved them- I think more than I did.

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She, unfortunately had a case of bad luck with apple muffins this weeks, which is why I wanted to make them for her.  My mom made apple muffins, which were really yummy, and unfortunately, we live in a wooded area and its ant season.  Well, we left the muffins on the counter uncovered, and the ants attacked.  Needless to say we got a pest control person to come out and spray the whole house down, so we are now ant free, but unfortunately our muffins weren’t.  That was one of the reasons I didn’t bake anything for an entire week.

Anyway, so after that fiasco, my sister bought an apple muffin at the local bakery.  This time it was left on the counter wrapped in plastic.  We left and one of our cats came up onto the counter and knocked it on the floor.  We returned to it being devoured by all three of our dogs.

Sooo, baked goods have not been surviving well in my household these last few days.

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I made my muffins with determination and kept them out of reach on a top shelf in the kitchen, which seemed to work out great. I used a healthy apple muffin recipe from A Pinch of Yum,  You can locate the original here.

What you need

For the apple muffins:
1½ cups finely chopped apples- I had a massive golden delicious that worked wonderfully
⅓ cup coconut oil-melted
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
For the topping:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Microwave the milk for a few seconds to bring it to room temperature.  Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes.

If you have unmelted coconut oil, you can microwave it or put it on a stove and heat it till its liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the coconut oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and allspice. Stir until just combined. Fold in the apples. Scoop the mixture into a greased or lined muffin tin – mini, regular, or jumbo sizes will all work.

For the topping:

Melt the butter and add the sugar and cinnamon, then spoon over the tops of the muffins.

The amount of topping is up to you, these measurements gave me just enough for all 12 muffins.  I would recommend doubling it if you want a lot of topping.

Also, if you love cinnamon, add more of it to the muffins-Go crazy!

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Hope you liked the recipe and are enjoying the beginning of fall!

Love,

Jess