Cherry and Chocolate Love

This recipe is a combination of family recipes. The frosting recipe was based on the white icing that my Great-Nana’s friend, Mary. The cake is based on the Nana’s butter cake recipe that was passed to me by my Grandma Connie (HI GRANDMA!) I guess that makes each recipe at least 3 generations old! The recipes must have been made with plenty of love if they were worth passing down!

RECIPE: Cherry and Chocolate Love
Makes 8 Servings 

Measuring Utensils
2 Round Cake Pans
Oven set to 350 degrees
Cooling Rack
Frosting Spatula
Frosting bag

2 Cups Sugar
1 Stick ButterDSCF0162
4 Tablespoons Crisco
Pinch of Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Cup Milk
Cherry Jam
4 Eggs
2 1/2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Milk
5 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Crisco
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Salt
Maraschino Cherries

1) In a mixer, combine the sugar, butter, and Crisco until creamy.
2) Add the vanilla, salt, and baking powder. DSCF0160
3) Beat in the milk, cherry jam, and the four eggs, and then slowly add the flour.
4) Grease and flour the baking pans and then pour have the batter into each baking sheet.
5) Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
6) When the cake is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean, move the cakes to a cooling rack.
7) Once the cake has cooled for a few minutes, flip the cakes out of the pans and let them finish cooling on the rack.
DSCF01638) In a pot, over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour until thick and lump free. Set to the side to cool.
9) Once the milk/flour mixture is cooled, put it in the mixer with the crisco, white sugar, a splash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the cocoa powder.
10) Beat on high (#8) for about 5 to 8 minutes until fluffy and light.
11) Place one of the cakes on a plate, spread with chocolate frosting, and then top with the other cake.
12) Use the frosting spatula to cover the entire cake with a layer of frosting.
13) Fill the frosting bag with the rest of the chocolate frosting and have fine pipping the top of the cake.
14) Top with 6 maraschino cherries. DSCF0167

I think I am getting much better at making frostings from scratch. Just two years ago, I had my strawberry volcano cake with the frosting that exploded in a lava flow over the entire counter. Now, I am pipping chocolate frosting like a semi-pro. DSCF0168

My husband liked the chocolate frosting, but my favorite part was definitely the cake. The chocolate and cherry combination was out of this world tasty!

Fun with Meringue

I have a riddle for you. You are planning to make a dessert and grilled Korean BBQ ribs for company, however the weather turns bad, like thunder, lightening, and a tornado is forming out in the county. Your husband decides to bake the ribs at 300 degrees for two hours instead of grilling. What do you bake at low temperature that makes a fancy dessert in a small amount of time?

The answer? Meringue, and you have fun with it!

RECIPE: Fun with Meringue 
Makes Many Servings 

Piping Bag
Lined Baking Sheet
Oven set to 300 degrees
Cooling Rack

2 Egg Whites
Splash of Vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 Cup Sugar
Chocolate Frosting

1) Let the egg whites come to room temperature before adding them to the mixer with the vanilla and cream of tartar. DSCF0147
2) Beat it all together until soft peaks form.
3) Continue beating as you sprinkle in the sugar slowly.
4) Use a spatula to transfer the meringue into a pipping bag.
5) Have fun pipping the meringue into cookies, or have fun and pipe out sheets of meringue and little directions.
6) Bake the meringue in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the bottom just slightly turns golden brown.
7) Move the meringue to a cooling rack. DSCF0149
8) If you want to have fun, place a meringue sheet on a plate, top it with bittersweet chocolate frosting, a sprinkling of pecans, another sheet of meringue, frosting pecans, and decorative meringue cones. DSCF0150
Its not a cake, but it made a creative dessert! It was a low baking temperature quick result!


My husband told me that he has never had gnocchi before, and I couldn’t believe it! He has eaten just about anything or everything, and gnocchi seemed so benign compared to some of the things he has eaten. So I wasted no time in whipping up a batch of gnocchi, and he loved it! This is a relatively cheap vegetarian meal that will make you feel like a classy home cook.

RECIPE: Gnocchi
Makes 3-4 Servings 

Potato Masher
Cast iron pan
Cutting Board
Slotted Spoon

2 Potatoes
1/2 a Stick of Butter
5 Cloves Garlic
2 cups Flour
1 Egg
Parmesan Cheese

DSCF01541) Peel the two potatoes and place in my a pot of water. Cover and let boil.
2) When you can easily stick a fork through the potato, remove it from the water and place it in a bowl.
3) Mash the potatoes and then stick it in the fridge to chill the potato down.
4) Begin melting the butter in a cast iron pan over low heat.
5) Mince up five or so cloves of garlic and add it to the butter.  Season with a sprinkle of parsley.
6) Remove the the potato from the fridge when its still warm but can be handled with your hands.
7) Measure out a cup of the mashed potato, and if there is any leftover, put it aside for later. DSCF0155
8) Add two cups of flour and 1 egg to the cup of mashed potato. DSCF0157
9) Use your hands to combine the flour, egg, and potato and then kneed it until a dough forms. Don’t over kneed or work the dough though!
10) Bring a pot of water with salt to a boil
11) Roll out bits of the dough into long snakes of dough.
12) Cut the dough with a sharp knife into little pieces. Add them to the water and let cook for 3 minutes.
13) Once the gnocchi has cooked, scoop it out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop it into the garlic butter sauce.
14) Stir the gnocchi and ensure that the butter sauce evenly coats everything.
15) Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and enjoy!

This gnocchi is a fluffy potato pasta coated in a light delicious garlic sauce. It makes you feel like you are having a classy lunch, when you actually were able to make it all in about half and hour with ingredients you had around the house.

Beer Grain Sandwich Bread

So this is my last beer grain recipe! For now… Anyway this is very much a classic soft sandwich bread. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the grocery shelves right next to the wonder bread. I think the bread came out a little sweet, and would recommend cutting the sugar content a bit. My husband loves sandwiches with this bread, and I found it pairs perfectly with a fried egg.

RECIPE: Beer Grain Sandwich Bread 
Makes 3 Loaves 

Mixer with Dough Hook
Pastry Board
Loaf Pans
Oven set to 350 degrees

3 Cups Warm Water
2 Tablespoons Yeast
1/4 Cup Honey
5 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1/3 Cup Molasses
1 Tablespoon Salt
3 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 Tablespoons Spent Beer Grains

1) In the mixing bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, honey, and all purpose flour.
2) Place the mixture in a warm location for 30 minutes and let it get bubbly.
3) Then add the rest of the ingredients and kneed for 2 minutes on speed 4 in the mixer until a dough forms.
4) On a floured pastry board or counter, kneed the dough by hand until smooth and elastic.

5) Place the dough in a bowl and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
6) Grease the loaf pans and then divide the dough into three pieces and place in the loaf pans.
7) Let the dough rise again until it comes up above the loaf pans a bit.
8) Bake at 350 degrees until the inside of the bread is 160 degrees, so 30-50 minutes.
9) If you like a soft crust, melt a bit of butter and brush it over the surface of the hot bread as soon as its out of the oven. DSCF0373

Extra Grains Whole Wheat Bagel

If you haven’t guessed yet, the extra grains in these whole wheat bagels are spent beer grains! I just used a little bit of them, but even the hint of beer grains really added another dimension of flavor to these bagels. I may add an extra tablespoon the next time I make them to kick it up another notch!

RECIPE: Extra Grains Whole Wheat Bagels 
Makes 10 Bagels

Food Processor
Mixer with Dough Hook
Pastry Board
Slotted Spoon
Cooling Rack
Lined Baking Sheet
Oven set to 425 degrees

1 1/2 Cups warm Water
2 1/4 teaspoons Yeast
2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons Salt
4 teaspoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Spent Beer Grains
Poppy Seeds
Sesame Seeds

1) In the mixing bowl, combine the warm water, maple syrup, and yeast. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
2) Run the spent grains quickly through a food processor to break the size down a little to make them more manageable in the bagels.
3) Add the whole wheat flour, salt, brown sugar, and spent grains to the mixture.
4) Mix and then continue to let the dough kneed on 4 or 6 speed level (medium) for 8 minutes.
5) Place the dough in a bowl and set someplace warm for about 20 minutes.

6) Divide the dough and shape it into bagels by gently rolling it out on a pastry board and then looping it together to form a circle.
7) Bring a pot of water to boil with one to two tablespoons of molasses dissolved into it.
8) Boil the bagels for 30 seconds on each side, then place on a cooling rack to drip.
9) When the bagels are still damp, sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or your favorite toppings.

10) Once all the bagels have been boiled, transfer them from the cooling rack to the lined baking sheet.
11) Bake for 15 minutes in a 425 degree oven, and then return the finished bagels to a cooling rack. DSCF0366

My favorite way to eat these bagels is with scallion cream cheese. However, they make excellent egg sandwiches, especially when you used pepper jack cheese. If you have extras, you can freeze them, but they tend to go fast.

Biertreberbrot (Beer Grain Bread!)

My husband has been home brewing again, which means I have been surrounded by the delicious smell of grains. He knows to put some of the leftover grains to the side for me to bake with, and the rest get to become part of the garden compost. You may notice a few posts over the upcoming days using spent beer grains, but I wanted to post this one first! Biertreberbrot is a German style spent grain bread I read about online, and I decided to give it a shot!

RECIPE: Biertreberbrot 
Makes 2 Loaves  

Food Processor
Pastry Board or Clean Counter
Lined Baking Sheet
Cooling Rack
Cast iron pan
Oven set to 450 degrees

2 Cups White Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Instant Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Spent Beer Grains
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk

1) Before you start, I recommend putting the beer grains through the food processor for just a little bit to break them into smaller pieces. This lets you keep the flavor, but not risk grains getting stuck awkwardly in your teeth.
2) In a mixer with a dough hook, combine all the ingredients in the order listed above.
3) Mix on low until a ball of dough forms.

4) If you have a kitchen aid mixer, turn the speed up to 4 (or medium if you don’t) and continue to let the dough kneed for about five minutes.
5) Turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board or counter. Kneed until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
6) Place in a bowl and let rise for 1 hr in a warm location.
7) Divide the dough into two pieces and shape into two loaves on a lined cutting board.
8) Let the dough rise again for another hour, being sure to start heating your oven half way through the rise.
9) Place a cast iron pan on the bottom shelf of the oven, when you go to put the bread in add water the pan to create a cloud of steam.
10) Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to about 400 degrees for the next 15-20 minutes.
11) Let the loaves cool before cutting and serving.


This bread has a hearty dark flavor, but a perfect amount of chewiness and a great texture. My husband decided he didn’t want the roast chicken we had planned for dinner, and just cut himself another slice of the bread! I froze the second loaf to use with a cheese fondue in the next month!

Chicken and Dumplings

The weather is getting colder and that means it is becoming soup and stew season. One of my favorite things to make with stews is homemade dumplings. My nana made dumplings for stews, my mom made dumplings for stews, and now I do as well! My husband said these came out as one of my best sets of dumplings ever, though I think that’s because he hasn’t had them since last winter!

RECIPE: Chicken and Dumplings
Makes 3 Servings 

Cast iron pot
Cutting Board
Wooden spoon
Measuring Cup
Pot with lid

Three Drum Sticks
Bay Leaf
2 Carrots
4 cloves Garlic
Ground Black Pepper
3/4 to 1 cup Flour
1 Egg

DSCF03361) Begin by tossing some chicken (preferably with bones) into a pot with water and a bay leaf. Let cook until the chicken is falling off the bone and you have some nice broth left.
2) Pour the broth into a measuring cup and put the shredded chicken to the side in a bowl. The bones can be tossed or put in the freezer to use later for some stock.
3) Cut the carrot into pieces, I prefer to do the skinnier half of the carrot and coins and the thicker part as half coins. Throw it into the cast iron pot to start cooking.
4) Dice the onion and add it to the softened carrots, let cook until the onion becomes translucent.
5) Mince about 4 cloves of garlic and sprinkle them over the onions and carrots.
6) Chop up some mostly fresh parsley and sprinkle it over everything. 
7) Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and let them simmer for a bit.
8) In another pot, start bringing about 3-4 cups of salt water to a boil. 
9) In the measuring cup of chicken broth, stir in a small handful of flour with a fork until it turns into a slurry.

10) Pour the slurry over the vegetables, continuously stirring to form a nice gravy. DSCF0341
11) Stir in the shredded chicken to the gravy and let it start heating up.
12) In the measuring cup, combine about 3/4 to a cup of flour, an egg, and just enough milk to get a very thick dumpling batter.
13) Drop forkfuls of the mixture into the boiling salt water and cover to cook for about 5 minutes.
14) Scoop out the dumplings and move them into the gravy to soak up the flavor before serving. DSCF0343

This meal can be deceptively filling! The dumplings and chicken also reheat great for leftovers the next day. Next time I make this, I will use bigger pieces of chicken, but sometimes you just have to use what you got! DSCF0346

You are the Mac to my Cheese (Mac & Cheese)

My husband is a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. Whenever we grab something to eat from the local BBQ join, he always orders a huge side of their mac and cheese. Their stuff is seriously dreamy, and I can only imagine the amount of butter, cream, and love they put into it. This recipe is my attempt to mimic the style of their mac and cheese (in a slightly healthier manner). It mus have worked because my husband already asked when I’m going to make it again.

RECIPE: You are the Mac to my Cheese 
Makes 4-6 Servings
Depending if its the meal or the side

Cast iron pan
Cutting Board
Cheese Grater
Baking Dish
Oven set to 350

1 1/2 Cups dry Macaroni
1/2 to 3/4 of a Stick of Butter
1/2 cup or so Flour
Garlic Powder
Black Pepper
1 Cup Skim Milk
8 oz Cheddar Cheese

1) Cook the macaroni in the pot of water as directed on the box until al dente.
2) In a cast iron pan, melt 1/2 to 3/4 of a stick of butter over low heat.
3) Once the butter is melted, sprinkle it with flour and stir until a thicker even consistency is formed. You want to make sure there are absolutely no clumps.

4) Season the mixture with garlic powder and freshly cracked black pepper.
5) Slowly stir in the skim milk, stir constantly.
6) Shred the cheddar cheese and add it by the handful to the mixture stirring until everything melts into the perfect sauce.
7) Pour the pasta into a glass baking dish and pour the sauce over it. Stir to ensure sauce is evenly coating the pasta.
8) You can bake it right away, or cover it and keep in the fridge until the next day.

9) Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until the edges bubble and the top starts to brown just a little.

This mac and cheese can be served as a main course with vegetables sides, or as a side at a cook out. The recipe is also very easy to scale up if you are cooking for multiple people. The leftovers even heat up great in the microwave.

The asparagus we had as a side was baked in a pan on a different shelf in the oven from the mac and cheese with fresh lemon and some black pepper, so delicious. My husband still doesn’t believe me when I tell him I never ate asparagus before dating him.

Beans on a Tortilla

I didn’t really want a taco, but I was wanting beans and tortillas. So I’m not really sure what to call this meal except for beans on a tortilla since that’s pretty much what it is!

RECIPE: Beans on a Tortilla 
Makes 2 Servings 

Cast iron pans
Cutting Board
Can Opener

Avocado Oil
Pinto Beans
Banana Pepper Powder
Can of pineapple for munching

1) Begin heating some avocado oil in a cast iron pan.
2) Chop the onion and add it to the cast iron pan.
3) Carefully slice the the jalapeno and remove the seeds before add it to the to the onion.
4) Open and drain the can of pinto beans. Rinse the beans in fresh water to make sure all the canned liquid is gone.

5) Pour about half the beans in with the peppers and onions and stir.
6) Season the mixture with cumin, paprika, and some banana pepper powder.
7) Heat a second cast iron pan over medium heat.
8) Once hot, heat the tortillas on each side in the pan before serving on a plate with a helping of beans on top.
9) Serve with some homemade spicy salsa over everything. DSCF0288


German Chocolate Cake, two forks please!

I wanted to make a cute two person German Chocolate Cake for our date night the other night. The issue I ran into, was I don’t have small cake pans. So I got creative. This recipe may look like it has a lot of steps or ingredients, but I promise that its really easy to get a good result! Here is my naked German Chocolate Cake, two forks please!

RECIPE: German Chocolate Cake, two forks please! 
Makes 2 Servings, and lots of leftovers 

Glass Measuring Cup
2 Round Cake Pans
Oven set to 350 degrees
Cooling Rack
Large Circle Cookie Cutter

1 Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
2 Cups Flour
8 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate
1/2 Cup Water
2 teaspoon Vanilla

1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 Stick Butter
3 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Cups Coconut
1 1/2 Cup Pecans

1) In the mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar. DSCF0301
2) Separate the eggs and place the yolks in with the butter and sugar and the whites in another bowl.
3) Mix the milk and flour into the mixer.
4) In the glass measuring cup, combine the semi sweet chocolate, water, and vanilla. Melt in the microwave stirring every 10 seconds to ensure it melts and doesn’t burn.
5) Pour the melted chocolate into the mixer and beat it in.
DSCF03026) In the separate bowl, beat the egg whites using the hand mixer until fluffy and makes soft mounds/peeks.
7) Use a spatula to slowly fold the egg whites into the batter.
8) Grease the baking pans and pour the batter into them.
9) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10) While the cakes are baking, start working on the frosting/filling. Over medium low heat, melt the butter into the evaporated milk. DSCF0303
11) Stir constantly as you add the egg yolks, and then add the pecans and coconut, continuing to stir until it begins to thicken.
12) Let the filling cool.
13) After the cakes have cooled a little on the racks, flip and remove them from the pans.
14) When completely cool, use the large circle cookie cutter to cut out the center from each cake.
15) Place the filling in the center and on the top of the cake, letting it soak in and drip.
16) Combine the leftover cake and filling in a bowl using a spatula and make into cake balls or truffles if desired.