Cinnamon Roll Cake

This summer has definitely been a busy one! And I cannot believe it’s already coming to a close.

During the summer, I had to say goodbye to my fiance every week as he traveled to various churches to help with revivals.  Was it difficult to be without him for most of the summer?  Yes.  But I am so proud of the work he and his fellow Engage team members accomplished!  (Want to know more about the Engage program? Click here)

One of the very first weekends he was gone, Jeremy asked me to make a cinnamon roll cake that a church family had made for the team.  Naturally, I said “sure!”  Of course I would try out a new recipe! I’m always in search of the next best thing in the dessert world.

Well, what had happened was…… the summer got busy.  And I mean, I-have-something-every-weekend-and-have-zero-downtime busy.  Cake orders have been flying in! (Yay for that!!) And wedding planning, as it turns out, takes a lot of time and research.

So I was a little delinquent on the baking of the cinnamon roll cake.  May I add….technically, technically, I’d never specified a date to bake it. I’d just said I would.  So, technically, I wasn’t delinquent…just procrastinating. 😉

 

Finally, much to Jeremy’s surprise, I made the cake! And it really was delicious.  Especially right after it came out of the oven, and when heated up in the microwave later. (I’m a “have your cake and eat it too” type of gal.)Cinnamon Roll Cake

Now it’s time to share the recipe with you!  I’ll share the original, then tell you how I made it a tiny bit more healthful.  (Shhh, I hadn’t told the recipient about that. It’s ok, was still delicious.)

 

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Makes ….not sure. Maybe 20 servings?

Cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Topping:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13X9 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, begin making the CAKE. Mix together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder. Then add milk, eggs, and vanilla. Cinnamon Roll CakeStir just until combined. Then add melted butter and stir until well blended.CinnamonRollCake2
  3. Pour cake batter into greased pan.
  4. Mix together ingredients for the TOPPING.CinnamonRollCake3
  5. Drop topping by spoonfuls on top of cake batter. Using a knife, swirl topping into batter.
  6. Bake for 28-32 minutes at 350 F.Cinnamon Roll Cake
  7. After taking cake out of the oven, mix ingredients for GLAZE in a bowl. Drizzle glaze over warm cake. (I didn’t need all of the glaze.)Cinnamon Roll Cake

 

Now, this cake looked delicious and all but holy butter sticks, people!! It sometimes pains me to put in the amount of butter and sugar  in recipes.  So most of the time I don’t.  This is what has lead my mom (twice) to say “don’t try to make it healthy….I want the real thing”.  I don’t listen to that very well.  (See Lightened Up Texas Sheet Cake Recipe)

For this one:  I made a half batch since it was just a few people eating the cake. But here are the changes I made:

  • Used 3/4 cup sugar in cake batter
  • Use egg substitute instead of eggs
  • For the topping, I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. I also used a scant, unpacked cup of brown sugar. Oh! And I didn’t need all of the topping.
  • Didn’t use all of the glaze.

Did these few changes make it a healthful cake?  Not by a loooooong shot. But it made me feel better to at least improve a tiny bit.

 

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Almond-crusted Chicken Tenders

Ready for a new recipe??  I know, I know, it’s been a WHILE!

But I’m back with a good one! I’m biased, of course, but I think these chicken tenders were yummy.

AlmondChickenTenders

With a coating made of bread crumbs and chopped almonds, the fat that is in this recipe is a healthy, unsaturated fat. And by baking the tenders, they’re a more healthful alternative to their frozen, pre-fried counterparts. Simple, fast, healthy, and delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

 

Almond-crusted Chicken Tenders

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 1/4 cup whole, raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place raw almonds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for a few minutes, until slightly toasted. Once toasted, finely chop almonds.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Place a cooling rack (like you’d use to cool cookies) on top of an ungreased baking sheet. Lightly spray cooling rack surface with nonstick spray.
  3. Set out three shallow bowls. In one, place whole wheat flour, salt, and black pepper. In the second, scramble egg and milk together. In the third, mix together the breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and chopped almonds.IMG_2176
  4. Trim fat from chicken tenders and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. A few strips at a time, very lightly coat the chicken with flour. Shake off excess flour. Dip in egg mixture and shake off excess egg. Then coat with breadcrumb/almond mixture.  IMG_2178

    This part gets a little messy...

    This part gets a little messy…

  6. Place coated chicken tenders on cooling rack-lined baking sheet.IMG_2179
  7. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside and outside is golden brown.

 

Pair with a starch and veggie of your choice. 🙂  I chose carrots with yogurt ranch dressing and broccoli. (Ok, so I didn’t have a starch at this meal, but the broccoli was on borrowed time, and I couldn’t let it go to waste.)

 

 

 

Banana Pudding, Revisited

You may remember a previous post.  It’s one of the most popular on the site!

That post is super old, so it was time for a remake.  Time for prettier pictures. Time to tell some funny stories about the last time my family made the banana pudding.

My mom made this pudding for our family’s Thanksgiving.  (While I made these sweet potatoes.) As per usual, hilarious moments happened the entire time.  Now allow me to preface this by saying that my family reads my blog, so we joked about the blog often that day.  To keep things short and sweet, funny moments will be bulleted:

  • When I first started this blog, my mom laughed as I took pictures of my food. Now, a couple of years later, she said “Ew, don’t take the picture with that background….Hang on.”  Then got out a towel for a better background.
  • While mashing the sweet potatoes, I heard a scream.  Turned around to see that the handle was stuck on the sink sprayer and water was going everywhere.  We both laughed for a while with that one.
  • The banana pudding may have been a few cookies short.  They were used by us to clean out the “leftover” pudding in the bowl.
  • **When I told my aunt Chrissy about this post, she said “will it be the real recipe this time?”  Which means, “you DID include the cream cheese, didn’t you??”  I laughed.  Yes, this is the “real” recipe. :)**

Banana Pudding

Makes …a lot. Maybe 10-12 servings?

Ingredients

  • 2 (1-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding mix (I use sugar-free)
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 14-ounces can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed (I use fat free)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, very soft
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1-2 packages Chessmen cookies (or shortbread cookies)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk, and condensed milk for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add cream cheese if desired and whisk to combine. Be sure the cream cheese is very soft so it will not be lumpy once it’s mixed in.
  3. Fold whipped topping into pudding mixture until well combined.
  4. Line bottom of separate container with cookies/wafers. You could also layer the side of the bowl.  If doing this, you can use some pudding as a “glue” so they stand up straight.
  5. Carefully layer half of the pudding mix and 1 1/2 sliced bananas on top.
  6. Repeat layering cookies, bananas, pudding. Top with final layer of cookies.

So there you have it! An updated post on one of my family’s favorite recipes…cream cheese included and everything. 😉

The Perfect White Cake Search

Everyone knows about it, and everyone’s had it before….white cake. The staple.  The safe bet, because most people are picky about their cake flavors.

It being such a classic, you would think that every self-respecting cake decorator would have their favorite white/vanilla cake recipe.

But that’s so not true.  And, surprisingly, white/vanilla cake is possibly THE most difficult cake to make.  Why? Because there isn’t a flavor to cover up the cake’s imperfections.  It has to be sweet enough, but not too sweet.  Vanilla tasting, but still mild flavor. And the perfect crumb because, let’s be honest, it’s much easier to make a moist cake if you’re adding some other flavors to the thing.

It’s cake, but without all of the bells and whistles.  Unless you make it look like this….

Sweet 16 at Tiffany's

But even after you look past the pretty decorations, it’s still just white cake, and it has to be good.  Because everyone knows what it should taste like, and people are critical with their childhood favorites.

Lately, I’ve still been searching for the perfect white/vanilla cake recipe.  I don’t normally share the recipes that I use for Little Bit Sweet, the baking business. (Yes, I’m keeping secrets from you…sorry)  But now that I’ve discovered a better version of my old white cake recipe, I’ll share a couple of the old ones for you to try.  These were good, but just not what I was looking for.

Here’s the one I’ve been using for the past year or so:  Simple White Cake

Analysis:  It’s really good!  But it’s much more dense than I’d like.  And I often decreased the amount of sugar because it forms a bit of a sugary crust on the cake itself when it bakes.  Not a bad thing, but it makes it more difficult to carve into shapes like this:

And the latest recipe tried: Veganbaking.net

Analysis:  It’s good. And it’s vegan, which is a plus for my needs as I have vegan friends and clients.  Nice crumb/texture.  But just wasn’t….right.  A little “flour-y” tasting for me.  Not a ton of vanilla flavor to it. Like I said before: it was good, just not the quintessential white cake I was wanting.

So, alas, I go back to the drawing board again.  I like the white cake recipe I’m now using, but it could always be better.  I want the white cake that brings everyone back to their childhood.  Meaning their grandma’s recipe or mom’s recipe….not the white cake you’d get at the grocery store for your birthday cakes 😉  Not that there is anything wrong with those!! I love them.  They’re just not the perfect white cake…

Shortcut Mini Fruit Pies

Sometimes, you have to exploit technicalities.  For instance, technically I haven’t had Starbucks all week…because I’ve only had it the past three days. 😉  And technically things are “home baked” even if you take shortcuts.

Like these mini pies.  I have no shame in the fact that I used store-bought pie crust and canned pie filling.  (Ok, a tiny bit of shame about the canned pie filling because it’s a gloopy mess and I should have made something better-for-you out of fresh fruit)

But overall, not much shame. They were, in fact, baked in my home.  Therefore, they are “home baked.”

I’ve said this type of thing in a previous post as well.  I’m all for shortcuts when I’m short on time…or feeling a bit lazy. Life is busy!

So if you’re like me and want something quick and easy that is still a show stopper, these mini pies are for you.  Super simple and they don’t take very long to throw together.  Here’s how to create them:

Mini Individual Pies

You’ll need:

  • 2 Ready-to-bake pie crusts
  • 1 can ready-made pie filling (I used blueberry) OR make your own filling
  • 1 egg white
  • ~1/4 cup granulated sugar

Thaw pie crusts at room temperature for 30-45 minutes, or until you can roll them out without them breaking. Roll pie crust onto a floured cutting board.

Using a glass, cut out little circles.  Try to cut them out as close together as possible, to get as many mini pies as you can.

Repeat with the second pie crust.

Smush together (how’s that for technical language) remaining pie crust scraps, roll it out on a floured surface, and cut as many extra circles as possible.  There will still be a tiny bit of pie crust left over, but oh well. I was able to cut a total of 38 circles.

Transfer half of your mini crusts to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch between each crust.

Carefully spoon ~1-2 tsp pie filling into the center of each crust.  You want to have about 1/2 inch around the outer edge to seal the top and bottom crusts, so try not to over fill your pies.

Mix a little water with the egg white to make an egg wash, and brush the edges of each pie crust with the egg mixture.

Top each pie with another mini pie crust.  Use a fork to press the edges together, and to make a pretty little edge.  Brush the tops of the pies with a little more egg wash. Sprinkle each with a little sprinkling of sugar.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut 4 small vent holes in the top of each pie. This is a VERY important step…unless you like for your pies to explode in the oven.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the pies begin to brown.

 

Serve these little guys all by themselves or along with a little vanilla frozen yogurt.  Yum!

Feel free to get creative with flavor combinations!  Others to try:  pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, cherry, strawberry, peach, the list goes on and on….

These are especially great for pot lucks.  As a matter of fact, the pies in the pictures were sent to my church get together and were perfect!  Everyone could just grab them without a big mess.

 

 

 

Gluten-free, Vegan, and soooo Delicious!!

I know what some of you may be thinking.  “Gluten free?  AND vegan?? ….does it taste good?”

But keep an open mind because I promise that these are good!  And you don’t have to make them gluten free OR vegan, but this is to give an option to those that may have to have a GF option. Those that follow a GF diet can attest to the fact that it can be very difficult to find tasty baked goods that are still GF.  But I promise it’s possible.

The original recipe for these cookies can be found on AllRecipes.com.  Click here to see it.

I then modified the recipe with egg replacer and GF flour to make it a GF & Vegan recipe.  These cookies were tested by my coworkers and got great reviews! Both from omnivores, vegans, gluten free-ers, and gluten eaters. Besides, they’re fudgy chocolate cookies…talk about a crowd pleaser!

GF Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from recipe on AllRecipes.com

Makes ~3 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp Ener G Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (be sure it is gluten free! No wheat starch in the ingredient list)

In a medium bowl, beat together cocoa powder, sugar, and oil.

In a small ramekin, whisk together egg replacer and water.  Add to sugar mixture and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add to wet mixture, mixing just until combined.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop about 1 tsp dough and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar and place on baking sheet.  Flatten each ball a little bit.  The cookies don’t spread, but do rise.  So flatten them to about the size you’d like to see in your cookie.

Bake 10-12min, immediately moving them to a cooling rack after removing from the oven.

Estimated nutrition information (per cookie):  86 Calories, 1.7g Fat, 0.6g Saturated fat, 71.8mg Sodium, 38mg Potassium, 20g Carbohydrates, 1.5g Fiber, 13.2g Sugar, 1.1g Protein

These cookies are small but very delicious.  Keep them soft by placing a slice of bread in the container with the cookies. Strange, but it works!

Want s’more cupcakes? …thought so.

It’s 71 degrees outside!! Fall!!!!!  Well, Texas fall.  I’m loving this weather, and it puts me in the mood for all things fall.  Pumpkin carving, getting ready for the holidays, and bonfires.

And what’s better than s’mores when you have a fire in front of you?  Nothing….the answer is nothing. 🙂

 

Since I was taking goodies to work, and building a bonfire in the middle of the office is frowned upon, I had to find a way to make s’more sans fire. Cupcakes were the perfect option.

This isn’t really a “recipe” because you can change it up to fit your preferred tastes.  I made chocolate cupcakes as the base of this dessert, but you could choose vanilla or some type of graham cupcake if you’d like.  I was already making chocolate cupcakes for the PB frosting in the last post, so just made a few more chocolate for the s’mores.

These were definitely a hit!  Next time I make them, I’ll be trying them with a graham cupcake instead.  I think it would make it even better.  (If you happen to have a graham cupcake recipe, please share!)

S’mores Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 24 prepared cupcakes (vanilla, chocolate, swirled, or graham…you choose)
  • 1/2 container marshmallow fluff
  • ~6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 1/2 of an 11.5oz bag)
  • 2tsp vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup crushed honey graham crackers

Fill cupcakes with marshmallow fluff. Click here to see how to do that.
*Note:  if you don’t want to use the packaged stuff, you can make your own marshmallow fluff with this recipe.  But it doesn’t hold it’s shape as well and seeps into the cupcake*

Melt chocolate chips with shortening in a microwave safe bowl, melting on high at 30 second intervals just until melted.  If the chocolate seems too thick for putting on cupcakes, add another tsp shortening.

Dip cupcakes in melted chocolate or spread a little on each cupcake’s top.

Top with crushed graham crackers.

Enjoy!!