The Baker Upstairs: 2018

10.08.2018

One Hour Crescent Rolls

Yum
These one hour crescent rolls are so light and fluffy, and so easy to make, too!

These one hour crescent rolls are so light and fluffy, and so easy to make, too!

We've had a nice long stretch of cold and rainy weather here in Portland this week, and it is finally feeling like fall! I've already busted out my fleece jackets and fur-lined slippers, and I'm ready for all things cozy and warm. Of course, that means plenty of soup (my favorite food!) and plenty of fresh baked bread to go with it. When I have time to plan ahead, these crescent rolls are my absolute favorite. They're light and tender and heavenly, and have an amazingly soft texture. But on those nights when there's an hour until dinner time and I haven't planned anything out, one hour roll recipes are a lifesaver!

I've been making these one hour rolls for several years now (after getting the recipe from my very bestest of all friends Cortney) and they are truly fabulous. Just for fun, this time I decided to experiment with making the dough into crescent rolls. To my delight, it totally worked! The rolls came out light and fluffy on the inside, and crisp on the outside. Because they are one hour rolls, they will always come out a little heavier and denser than roll recipes with a longer rise time, but these crescent rolls are pretty darn close in texture to traditional rolls. We ate ours with our favorite cinnamon vanilla honey butter, and they were absolutely divine!

These one hour crescent rolls are so light and fluffy, and so easy to make, too!

If you're looking for some fabulous soup recipes to go with these rolls, this Panera-copycat broccoli cheddar soup, this instant pot chicken tortilla soup, and this tomato basil parmesan soup are my top three favorite soups! I make each of them at least once a month, and they are consistently delicious. Happy soup season!
One Hour Crescent Rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all purpose flour, more or less as needed
3 tablespoons melted butter, separated

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand for five minutes, or until foamy. Add the butter, salt, and 3 cups of flour, and mix until combined. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is only slightly sticky to the touch (be careful not to add too much flour!). Knead 3-5 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rise 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Gently punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a large circle, then spread with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cut each circle into twelve wedges, then roll each wedge up, starting with the wide end, to form a crescent shape. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise for an additional 15-20 minutes. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool slightly before serving and enjoy!

adapted from The Little Red Hen
These one hour crescent rolls are so light and fluffy, and so easy to make, too!

10.01.2018

Gourmet Caramel Apples

Yum
These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

Can you believe it's October 1st already? Between buying a house, moving, and chipping away at the endless list of house projects that need to be done, I feel like the summer flew by for my family. It feels like I haven't been able to really catch my breath since we put in our offer way back in early June, and now months have passed in the blink of an eye. We're now firmly into fall, and it feels strange and sudden to me. October is always one of my favorite months, and I love doing all of our family traditions, like visiting the pumpkin patch, picking apples, trick or treating in the neighborhood, and making all of our favorite fall treats. 

These gourmet caramel apples are a tradition my girls look forward to every year. They're made with the most luscious homemade caramel, and made even more delicious by adding chopped candy bars, nuts, and crushed cookies. I got the recipe from Ella Claire several years ago, and they never disappoint. In the last few years, we've started inviting friends over to decorate apples with us, and that has definitely added another layer of fun to our tradition! Over the years, we have each developed our own favorite combination of flavors for our apples, and the apple below is my favorite. I've heard them called apple pie caramel apples before, and I would say that's a pretty apt name. They are covered in creamy white chocolate, with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. So delicious, and such a great combination of flavors!

These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

My girls' favorite apples are the Snickers caramel apples below. They're covered in semi-sweet chocolate, then topped with chopped peanuts, and chopped Snicker's candies. They're the perfect combination of salty and sweet, and so tasty!

These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

My husband's favorite apples are the cookies and cream apples below. They're spread with melted white chocolate, then drizzled with melted semi-sweet chocolate and sprinkled with crushed Oreo cookies. So, so good!

These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

The sky is the limit with these apples, and you can really add anything you like to them! We've added M&M's, crushed butterfingers, toffee bits, crushed Nutter Butter cookies, chopped Reese's candies, walnuts, pecans, shredded coconut - you name it! They're always delicious. If you're making them in advance (like we do for our caramel apple parties), I would suggest dipping all of the apples in the caramel and letting them cool, then setting out the toppings and melting the chocolate when you're ready to start decorating. If you happen to have a fondue pot, it will help to keep the chocolate melted and easy to work with, but if not, you can just reheat it periodically when it starts to harden. You most definitely need to give these gourmet caramel apples a try!
Gourmet Caramel Apples

for the homemade caramel:
1 cup salted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

to make the gourmet caramel apples:
12 small to medium size green apples
12 popsicle sticks or caramel apple sticks
melting chocolate or candy melts
toppings of your choice (chopped candy bars, nuts, crushed cookies, cinnamon sugar, etc.)

Prepare the apples by scrubbing them clean and drying well. Insert a stick into each apple and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate at least one hour.

To make the caramel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir using a rubber spatula. Add the sweetened condensed milk slowly, stirring well to incorporate. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Dip each apple into the caramel, turning the apple around to coat all side. Let the excess caramel drip off the apple, and scrape a knife across the bottom of each apple to remove the excess. Place the apples back onto the baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.

To decorate the apples, start by melting the chocolate. Microwave at 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. To decorate, use a knife or offset spatula to spread chocolate around the outside of the apple, leaving a small amount of caramel showing at the top. Sprinkle with desired toppings.
These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel, and taste just like the ones from the candy shop!

9.04.2018

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Yum
These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

Hi friends! I know I don't usually get very personal on this blog, but I was thinking of a story as I was making these delightful mini chicken pot pies, and I thought it was worth sharing. Seven years ago, I was a stay at home mom with a newborn and a four year old. I had graduated from a challenging nursing school program the year before, and I suddenly found myself at home alone all day with nothing to keep my brain stimulated. I had plenty of tasks to do, like changing diapers, washing dishes, nursing the baby, reading to the preschooler, etc., but at times I was starving for contact with adults and the outside world. To make things even more challenging, our finances were very tight at the time, so I didn't have really any budget for luxuries or socializing.

Out of boredom and frustration (and thanks in part to the launch of Pinterest right at the same time) I just started making things. I relearned how to knit and started making baby hats and sweaters for my friends who were expecting. I learned how to cook all of the fancy foods that I couldn't afford to buy at the store, like baguettes and ricotta cheese. I planted a garden and made homemade salsa and pesto from produce that I grew myself. I started hand lettering again (one of my favorite things to do in high school) and made art for my girls' room. I repurposed old clothing into fun new outfits for the kids. I designed Harry Potter t-shirts for the premiere of the last movie. I rekindled my love of photography and took beautiful pictures of my kids (and started taking pictures of my food, which eventually led to this here blog!). I found so much joy in creating, in using my talents, and in finding ways to live a great life even on a shoestring budget. 

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I discovered instagram right around the same time, and I had so much fun posting all of my creations and projects and being able to share them with friends and family. Unexpectedly, though, the reaction I often got was, "You have WAY too much time on your hands," usually said with a snide tone and an eye roll. It really stung, and it made me feel like all of the things I was doing were a waste of time. Objectively, I didn't actually have all that much free time, between a newborn and a very challenging preschooler and a husband who worked 50-60 hour weeks. I was making the choice to spend the time I did have available making my life more beautiful and delicious, and the feedback I was getting was hurtful.

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I was thinking about all of that in the context of these mini chicken pot pies, because this is totally one of those recipes that will make people say, "You have way too much time on your hands!" These babies take a long time to make! They're made completely from scratch, from the pie crust to the filling. It's somewhat tedious to roll out the pie crust and assemble the lattice, and it's definitely more work to make six tiny pies than it is to make one normal size pie. If you're looking for a dinner recipe that can be finished in 30 minutes or less, this is definitely not your dinner! And yet... they are totally delicious, and totally beautiful. Each mini pie is like a work of art. I worked on them on and off all afternoon (between attending my seven year old's doll's birthday party, and helping my eleven year old edit the book she's writing), and I took my time and enjoyed every step of the process. 

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I think that with some time and perspective, I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to be that person who has "too much time on her hands." It's okay to be the one who designs custom labels for her daughter's school supplies, or spends 30 minutes constructing a tiny birthday card for a doll's birthday party. It's okay to plan ahead for back to school pictures and not just take them as we're rushing out the door in the morning. And just as important, it's also okay NOT TO DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS. When I was working full time as a nurse and my husband was in nursing school and I was stretched so, so thin and exhausted all of the time, I didn't have time for anything like that. And now I do! And neither of those situations make me a bad mom or make my life a waste of time.

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I'm sharing these mini pot pies because I love them, and they're completely delicious, and I think it's fun to be able to make things completely from scratch, without using processed foods. And I just happened to have several hours yesterday afternoon with nothing super pressing to do, and thus had time to create something beautiful for dinner. However, you do you! If you're looking for an equally delicious but much less time consuming pot pie recipe, this biscuit pot pie is quick and easy and always tastes delicious. (Just sub in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for the uncooked vegetables, and it will be in the oven in no time!) I definitely think the world would be a better place if we could find more occasions to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. So if you're a from-scratch homemade pot pie person like me, more power to you! And if you're a "pull the pot pie out of the box and microwave on high for 6 minutes" person, well, I've been there too (and it was delicious). I think we can all agree that no matter how much time you have on your hands, at least some of it should be spent eating pot pie. :)

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!
Mini Chicken Pot Pies

for the crust:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

for the filling:
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour and salt. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, and cut in using a pastry blender or the paddle attachment, until the pieces of butter are no larger than pea sized. Add the buttermilk, and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently work into a ball, handling as little as possible. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least twenty minutes, or until ready to use.

Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery to a small pot, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside. While the vegetables are cooking, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the second tablespoon of butter, then stir in the flour and cook until golden. Slowly add the chicken broth, followed by the milk, whisking constantly and adding a little at a time to form a smooth sauce. Stir in salt, pepper, and frozen peas and cook until heated through. Stir the cooked vegetables into the chicken mixture and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out half of the pie crust into a large rectangle, then cut into six large circles using a bowl. Press each circle into the well of a jumbo muffin tin. Scoop the filling into each well of the muffin tin, filling to the top. Roll out the remaining pie crust into a large rectangle, and cut into thin strips. Weave the strips into a lattice (this is an excellent tutorial, if you haven't done a lattice crust before). Press down on the lattice gently to stick the pieces to each other. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut 6 circles out of the lattice. Place a lattice top on each mini pie, and fold or crimp the edges together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg mixture over the top of the crust, spreading evenly. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling and thick. Let cool before serving.
These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

9.01.2018

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yum
This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

Hey everyone! It's International Bacon Day today, which means it's time to celebrate! It's hard to think of a food that isn't improved by adding bacon. Burgers? Check! Pasta? Check! Salad? Check! Donuts? Check! Bacon just makes everything better. One of my favorite ways to eat bacon is in this glorious and luxurious bacon mac and cheese. It's full of tender macaroni noodles, crisp bacon, and a silky smooth cheese sauce that is worth every calorie. It's topped with a buttery cracker topping, then baked to perfection. My whole family loves this mac and cheese and requests it constantly!

I think the secret to the perfectly smooth cheese sauce is the addition of processed cheese. I normally don't cook with American cheese or Velveeta (okay, maybe I did once), but I happened to have a few slices left over in the fridge from my kids' grilled cheese sandwiches earlier in the week, and I decided to throw them into the cheese sauce on a whim. Once all three cheeses melted together, it was perfectly smooth and thick and lovely. You can definitely substitute other cheeses for the cheddar and colby jack (I usually just use whatever I have on hand) but the combination of sharp cheddar and creamy colby jack was pretty fantastic! 

This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!
Bacon Mac and Cheese

for the mac and cheese:
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 pound macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
4 slices American cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

for the topping:
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together to form a paste. Cook 3-4 minutes, until golden. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked noodles and about 2/3 of the chopped bacon. Pour the macaroni mixture into a 9 x 9 baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed crackers, butter, and parmesan. Sprinkle the cracker mixture over the macaroni, then top with the remaining chopped bacon. Bake 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

For more bacon deliciousness, be sure to check out the posts below from my Celebrating Food blogging friends:


Cheesy Bacon Meatball Bites from Ashlee Marie
Bacon Wrapped Scallops from Savory Experiments
Bacon Egg Salad Sandwiches from Real Mom Kitchen
Instant Pot Bacon Cheddar Egg Casserole from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Bacon Breakfast Casserole from Creations by Kara
Bacon and Spinach Egg Muffins from My Mommy Style

and even more delicious bacon recipes from The Baker Upstairs:

8.22.2018

Peach Buttermilk Cake

Yum
This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

Hello friends! It's Eat a Peach Day today, so of course the only logical thing to do is to eat your peaches in cake form. This peach buttermilk cake is one of my favorite desserts, and it's perfect for this time of year, when fresh peaches are abundant and delicious. The cake itself is light and tender, and perfectly sweetened, and the fresh peaches on top add delicious flavor and keep the cake moist. This is one of those desserts that is super easy to make, but so pretty that it's perfect for entertaining, or bringing to a baby shower or potluck. 

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

I make another version of this cake using fresh strawberries, and I can never decide which is my favorite. They're both so delicious! This is totally my go-to dessert when I have friends coming over for dinner and can't think of anything to make. It's super easy, always gets rave reviews, and it's popular with both kids and adults. I like to serve it with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on the side, and it's so, so good!

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!
Peach Buttermilk Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup plus two tablespoons sugar, separated
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 peaches, peeled and pitted, sliced thinly

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 or 10 inch pie pan or cake pan, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and one cup of sugar until creamy. Stir in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced peaches on top of the cake batter, and sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for another 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

For more peach-related awesomeness, be sure to check out these fantastic recipes from my Celebrating Food blogging friends:

23 juicy peach recipes, perfect for celebrating National Eat a Peach Day!

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats from Pretty Providence
Southern Peach Pie from Savory Experiments
Peach Lemonade from Real Mom Kitchen
Easiest Way to Peel Peaches from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Mason Jar Peach and Raspberry Cobbler from Premeditated Leftovers
Peach Muffins from My Mommy Style
Almond Peach Bread from An Italian in My Kitchen
Peach Coffee Cake from Simply Stacie

and even more delicious peach recipes from The Baker Upstairs:

8.04.2018

Baked Meatball Penne

Yum
This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!

This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!

Can I just say that moving is kind of the worst? I mean, it's very exciting that we own a home now, and we're in a great location, close to my husband's work and my kids' schools. And it has been really fun to work on projects to make our house the way we want it. But this nonsense of unpacking, and living in chaos, and not knowing where anything is - it totally sucks! I've been unpacking and organizing one room at a time, but I'm coming rapidly to the conclusion that we own WAY too much stuff! I'm thinking that we need to have a major purge shortly, and donate or sell a lot of stuff. With all the chaos from moving, cooking has not been at the top of my priority list, so we've mostly been living off Trader Joe's frozen meals and whatever else I can throw together at dinner time. This baked meatball penne is the perfect easy dinner if you, like me, have very little time, energy, or willpower to cook dinner. 

This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!

Since my food options are fairly limited right now, I've been forced to get a little more creative with recipes. I had a bag of meatballs in the freezer, and rummaged around in a few boxes until I found some penne pasta and a jar of marinara sauce. This pasta took maybe 15 minutes of hands-on time, then baked into a big pan of cheesy goodness in about 20 minutes. Easy peasy, and super delicious!

This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!

This baked meatball penne seriously could not be easier to make, and everyone in my family loved it!

This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!
Baked Meatball Penne

1/2 pound penne pasta
8 ounces frozen meatballs (half of 16 ounce package)
1 16 ounce jar marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, add the meatballs and marinara sauce to a large skillet and heat until the meatballs are warmed through. Stir in the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Pour the pasta into a 9 x 9 baking dish, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
This cheesy and savory baked meatball penne is quick and easy to make, and the perfect hearty dinner for a busy night!

7.30.2018

Vanilla Cheesecake Mousse

Yum
This homemade vanilla cheesecake mousse is so luscious and silky smooth. All the taste of cheesecake, without any of the work!

This homemade vanilla cheesecake mousse is so luscious and silky smooth. All the taste of cheesecake, without any of the work!

Hey friends! It's been a minute. :) I posted almost a month ago about our new house, and then haven't posted anything since. The last month has been a blur of painting, packing, floor refinishing, moving, unpacking, and settling into our new place. We are finally 100% moved in (although far from 100% unpacked...) and it's exciting to see our house coming along, bit by bit! Anyway, since it's National Cheesecake Day today, I thought I might as well pop back in with a quick and easy recipe. This vanilla cheesecake mousse is one of my husband's favorite desserts. It takes just a few minutes to mix up, and a little bit of chill time, and then you've got an awesome cheesecake dessert that tastes like a million bucks!

As a rule, I don't like cheesecake very much (I know, I'm super weird that way!) but I do love this cheesecake mousse. It's so incredibly smooth and luscious, and has the perfect light cheesecake flavor. I love it with fresh fruit on top (or even a few spoonfuls of this delicious strawberry sauce or blackberry sauce), but it's delicious all on its own. The recipe makes about four hearty servings, but you could easily double or triple the recipe if you're making it for a crowd. This one is definitely a must-make!

This homemade vanilla cheesecake mousse is so luscious and silky smooth. All the taste of cheesecake, without any of the work!
Vanilla Cheesecake Mousse

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the corn syrup and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla until well blended. Add half of the whipped cream to the bowl and mix until smooth. Add the other half of the whipped cream and mix until completely blended. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

When you're ready to serve, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the mixture into each of four small serving dishes. Pipe or scoop the cheesecake mousse into the serving dishes.
This homemade vanilla cheesecake mousse is so luscious and silky smooth. All the taste of cheesecake, without any of the work!

For more delicious cheesecake recipes, be sure to check out these fantastic posts below from my Celebrating Food blogging friends:

16 mouthwatering cheesecake recipes, perfect for celebrating National Cheesecake Day!

Cheesecake Brownies from Creations by Kara
Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes from Pretty Providence
Coconut Key Lime Cheesecake Bars from Real Mom Kitchen
No Bake Berry Cheesecake Parfait from An Italian in my Kitchen
Dairy Free Cheesecake from Namely Marly
Cappuccino Cheesecake from Simply Stacie
Chocolate Almond Cheesecake in Jars from Premeditated Leftovers
No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake from Super Golden Bakes
Instant Pot Cheesecake from My Mommy Style

and even more tasty cheesecake recipes from The Baker Upstairs:


7.04.2018

Patriotic Cookie Cake

Yum
This patriotic cookie cake is so easy to make, and so festive for the 4th of July!

This patriotic cookie cake is so easy to make, and so festive for the 4th of July!

Happy Fourth of July everyone! My family has an extra reason to celebrate this year - we closed on our first home yesterday! We've had our share of twists and turns in our home buying journey (including an earlier purchase that fell through and pretty much broke my heart). The house we ended up buying is right down the street from our kids' school, close to my husband's work, and in a great area overall. It's in really good shape, but still has enough projects to do to keep us busy. I can't wait to make it my own! We've been working toward this goal for years now, and it feels totally amazing to have finally accomplished it, especially considering how competitive and crazy the housing market is in Portland right now. Hooray!

This patriotic cookie cake is so easy to make, and so festive for the 4th of July!

We won't move in for another few weeks, but we're planning to head over this evening to sit on the porch and watch the kids do sparklers. We haven't had a yard for the kids to play in since we moved to Portland, and I'm so excited to just watch them run around for a little while. How exciting is that? We'll also be celebrating with this delicious and fun patriotic cookie cake. It's super simple and quick to make, and tastes fantastic! It's loaded with chocolate chips and M&M's, with a soft and moist cookie base. I added a little bit of buttercream on top (mostly so I could decorate it with some fun sprinkles!) but it's delicious with or without the frosting. This cookie cake is the perfect way to celebrate today, and is easily adaptable for any holiday by changing out the M&M's. It's definitely one to add to your list!

This patriotic cookie cake is so easy to make, and so festive for the 4th of July!
Patriotic Cookie Cake

for the cookie cake:
12 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups red, white, and blue M&M candies, divided
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided

for the frosting:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons half and half or milk
red, white, and blue sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch quiche pan or springform pan and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the flour, corn starch, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. Fold in 1 1/4 cups M&M's candies and 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips. Press the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining M&M's and chocolate chips. Bake 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

When the cake has cooled, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon half and half. Beat until smooth, adding additional half and half as needed to make a light and fluffy frosting. Pipe the frosting around the edges of the cake, then add sprinkles.

adapted from Baking a Moment
This patriotic cookie cake is so easy to make, and so festive for the 4th of July!

7.02.2018

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Yum
This savory and flavorful pasta e fagioli soup is easy to make, and super delicious!

This savory and flavorful pasta e fagioli soup is easy to make, and super delicious!

I know, right? It's July, and here I am posting a soup recipe. I'm clearly insane. It's one of my quirks that I love soup so much that I eat it frequently year round, regardless of how hot it is outside. This particular soup, though, I actually made several months ago during the winter. It was during a time that I was really busy with lots of projects, and I think I made it on a day when I had cooked and photographed 4 or 5 other recipes. We had it for dinner, and I was so worn out that I just didn't think much about it one way or the other. The recipe made a lot, so I saved the leftovers in the freezer for another day, and we pulled it out to have for dinner last week on a lazy evening. I took one bite, turned to my husband, and said, "Oh my gosh! This is fantastic! Was it this fantastic the first time?" He claims that it was, and that I just didn't notice its brilliance because I was so exhausted.

Having (re)discovered how incredibly tasty this soup is, I couldn't wait to share it with you! It has amazing depth of flavor, considering that its simmer time is not all that long, and it's loaded with tasty veggies, savory sausage, and tender pasta. It's hearty and filling, but still feels like a light meal. I served it with some of these yummy Olive Garden copycat breadsticks, and they were so delicious together. This soup is definitely worth heating the kitchen up for! 

This savory and flavorful pasta e fagioli soup is easy to make, and super delicious!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

1 pound mild Italian sausage
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cups chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound ditalini or macaroni pasta, cooked according to package directions

In a large pot, brown the sausage until cooked through. Drain the excess fat, leaving about 1-2 teaspoons in the pot. Add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery, and cook until slightly softened. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the beans and cooked pasta, and serve immediately.

*If you are making this recipe ahead of time, keep the cooked pasta separate from the soup until ready to serve. The soup can also be frozen, with the cooked pasta frozen in a separate container and stirred into the soup when reheated.

adapted from Damn Delicious
This savory and flavorful pasta e fagioli soup is easy to make, and super delicious!

6.27.2018

Fresh and Tasty Brown Rice Bowls

Yum
These fresh and tasty brown rice bowls are super delicious, packed with protein, and loaded with fresh toppings!

These fresh and tasty brown rice bowls are super delicious, packed with protein, and loaded with fresh toppings!

Okay, Oregon locals, who here loves Cafe Yumm? A friend recommended them to me right after we moved here, and it took me a long time to finally try them out. I was pretty skeptical about their whole concept, until I tasted my first Yumm Bowl and it was love at first bite. If you're not local and haven't tried them, they are bowls with brown rice and black bean at the base, smothered with an amazing and flavorful sauce, then topped with a protein (I always choose chicken) and fresh toppings like tomato, avocado, grated cheese, sliced olives, sour cream, and salsa. They're healthy and fresh and delicious, and are totally filling while still feeling light. Once we discovered how good they were, my husband and I couldn't get enough and visited Cafe Yumm for lunch at least every other week. Pretty soon, though, the cost of all those bowls started to add up and our bank account wasn't very happy. We decided to try our hand at making them at home, and came up with this fun copycat recipe.  I'm still working on the sauce a little bit, because it doesn't taste EXACTLY like the Cafe Yumm sauce, but it's super delicious all the same!

These fresh and tasty brown rice bowls are super delicious, packed with protein, and loaded with fresh toppings!

We make these brown rice bowls at home at least once a week (and sometimes as often as 2-3 times per week) and we love them every time! They're so fresh and filling, and it's easy to customize them depending on what I have in the house. I've made them with barbecue chicken, taco-seasoned chicken, rotisserie chicken, and grilled chicken, and they're delicious each way. I always have cooked chicken in the freezer, and I like to make a big batch of brown rice and portion it out into meal-sized servings, then freeze it. I also buy cans of olives and black beans in bulk just to have them on hand for these bowls. Having the two main ingredients already cooked, and keeping most of what I need on hand really helps to make these bowls quick and easy to prepare. I definitely recommend using brown rice, because it adds some great texture and doesn't get soggy with all the toppings. We like ours with black beans, but you could easily substitute any beans you like. The most important part is to pile on the fresh toppings! My favorite way to serve them is with avocado, tomato, olives, sour cream, salsa, and grated cheddar cheese. Soooooo delicious!
Brown Rice Bowls

for the sauce:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (I used this brand)

for the bowls:
cooked brown rice (I like to use this recipe)
black beans, drained and rinsed
protein of your choice (chicken, tofu, steak, etc.)
fresh toppings: tomato, avocado, chopped olives, corn, cilantro, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc.

To make the sauce, add the oil, almonds, beans, and coconut milk to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate for one hour or until ready to use. To make the bowls, layer about 1/2 cup of brown rice in the bottom of a bowl. Top with 1/4 cup black beans, then spread a generous layer of sauce on top. Top with protein and fresh toppings of your choice, then enjoy.

sauce adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
These fresh and tasty brown rice bowls are super delicious, packed with protein, and loaded with fresh toppings!
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