The Baker Upstairs: July 2018

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!
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