This month my dad turned 90! What a milestone birthday. With Covid going on, I couldn’t make my annual March trip to visit and celebrate with my family in Lebanon. But, I did get to make this brownie cake.
I’m calling it a brownie cake only because I decorated it like a cake and it photographed like a cake for my Instagram feed. I used the brownie recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home cookbook. It was my first time using it, and it is absolutely delicious. The brownies had a nice crusty surface and were incredibly moist and fudge-like on the inside.
I made 2 changes to the Moosewood Restaurant recipe: I used 7 tablespoons of pasteurized egg whites instead of the 2 eggs they called for, and I added 1/2 a cup of mini chocolate chips. Using mini chocolate chips ensures that the chocolate chips don’t sink to the bottom of the batter.
For the icing, I used a cream cheese frosting because I wanted to elevate the icing on the brownies, and I wanted to have a white background for the decorated cake. I colored some of the icing a teal blue and I used green M&Ms to make the number 90. To give the cake a festive look, I added sprinkles on the side of the brownie, and curled ribbons around the cake. It’s that simple.
Here’s the recipe for the brownies and the cream cheese frosting. The frosting is enough to ice two brownie pans, so if you feel like making half of the frosting recipe, go ahead. I have not made that small of a batch of frosting, but you decide.
Let’s face it, we can all use a quick, fun, and festive Christmas cake in our repertoire, and this cut-up snowman cake is the perfect one!
Do you remember cut-up cakes from your childhood? You know, before people started making amazing two and three-tiered cakes that are works of art? I may be dating myself, but I loved those old school cakes at birthday parties!
As far as cut-up cakes go, there is nothing cuter or easier than making this snowman cake. Mine is 5 by 11 inches, but you could definitely make it bigger by using two, larger, round-shaped pans. And, to make this simple, use a boxed chocolate cake and store-bought icing if you don’t have time to make a from-scratch chocolate cake.
When I make my Chocolate Orange Cake, I use two 8-inch round pans and have enough batter to make a rectangular loaf cake. The loaf cake is perfect because you can snack on it right away if you’re saving the bigger cake for a party. Or, you can use the loaf cake to make a snowman cake!
One of the fastest, healthiest, and most filling snacks my daughter and I make is the 1-1-1 smoothie. We make it for breakfast, and for mid-morning or late-afternoon snack times. It’s so easy and delicious.
Here’s why it’s called a 1-1-1 smoothie: we use 1 cup of high-protein milk, 1 frozen banana, and 1 cup of fruit.
The reason this smoothie is filling is because we use high protein milk. We love the Fairlife brand of milk. High protein milk is cold-filtered and results in milk that is 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than regular milk. It’s also lactose-free.
If you’re looking for a snack that is high in fiber, tasty, and portable, then you’re going to love my Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars! BTW, I have been meaning to share these for years now. You can probably tell that from the style of photos taken during my early blogging days. And, bonus, you can make these in gluten-free and vegan versions by checking the variations at the end of this post.
These Oat Bran Cereal & Fruit Bars are delicious. They’re sweet and a slightly heartier version of rice cereal treats with the added fruits and nuts. The base is made with marshmallows and your choice of butter, including vegan butter. Add any high-in-fiber oat bran cereal (I use Nature’s Path Multigrain Oat Bran Flakes) and 2 cups of other mix-ins, including your choice of dried fruits, almonds, coconut flakes, and pumpkin seeds/pepitas.
I’ve made these bars with all kinds of bran cereal, including using combinations of bran buds and oat bran flakes. This recipe is a great way to use up the last bit of cereal in a box and the last of any dried fruits on hand. Think of these bars as a ‘clean out the closet’ dessert option. Continue reading →
No-bake cheesecakes are a perfect summer dessert: they use ingredients you regularly have at home, don’t require an oven, and are easy to decorate with in-season summer fruits!
This recipe has been around for a long time. I remember it from when I was a kid, and I see it all the time on the Internet. It’s got a graham cracker crust that is topped with a cream cheese, condensed milk, and lemon/lime juice and zest. That’s it. Place it in the freezer or fridge to set, and top with whatever berries you have on hand. You can also top with cherry pie filling.
I make this no-bake cheesecake in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. It’s easier and more presentable if you use a springform pan, but you can use a regular pie plate or dish. You can even buy a ready-made crust from the store.
If you find yourself craving those large, decorated chocolate chip cookie cakes you can get at the mall, then you’ll love this post about making one for a celebratory occasion or as a gift for someone special.
I love classic-sized chocolate chip cookies as much as anyone else, but making a huge chocolate chip as a cookie cake is truly something fun and different. I can thank the Covid-19 pandemic for inspiring me to make chocolate chip cookie cakes as gifts. My daughter and I have made them for Canada Day, as graduation gifts, and as hostess gifts. You can check out my last post (click here) on making graduation day memorable with lots of desserts, including this cookie cake.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!
We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.
We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!
We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.
I always have energy balls or squares on hand because they’re the perfect snack right before a workout! Sometimes you don’t have time to eat something that takes a lot of prep time before you go for a run or before you head out the door. These chocolate almond bites are perfect as a grab-and-go healthy option.
BTW, you can also check out my recipe for Vegan Chocolate Fudge that I have shared in the past. The ‘fudge’ recipe is date-based whereas the recipe I’m sharing today is made with almond flour.
I’ve tried making energy balls with almond flour in the past and I love the texture and taste of almond flour, so I was very pleased when I came up with this recipe with the addition of cocoa powder.
What I like about making energy balls is the different ways you can ‘dress’ up these treats. Here, I’ve topped them with sea salt, peanuts, and slivered almonds. I highly recommend topping them with either peanuts or almonds so everyone knows that these energy balls contain nuts! Plus, it’s a fun way to decorate these bites and to make them presentable for gifting.
Eid Mubarak to all of my friends and followers celebrating this week! Today marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. And, it’s time to celebrate with lots of traditional desserts, like Qatayef!
I grew up in Saudi Arabia where I was lucky enough to experience all of the activities, sights, sounds, and tastes of Ramadan. The night life in the souks was incredible, full of music, open shops, lots of fun foods, and lots of staying up late. One Ramadan night my brother was invited to hang out in a tent under the stars in the desert and I will always remember his description of how magical that experience was.
When I was a kid, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year but, because it’s a lunar holiday, it moves back about 11 days a year. That means that it takes about 33 years for Ramadan to complete its cycle and that some years it’s easier to fast than others. For example, the winter months are easier in that the days are shorter, and the summer months are the hardest.
There are many traditions around Ramadan, including the daily Iftar, which is the meal eaten after sunset when breaking the fast for the day. Iftar is a meal often shared with family and friends and there is always lots of food. I loved being invited to my friends’ homes for Iftar and just hanging out. In the Middle East, it’s very common to be invited to business Iftar meals as well. You always wonder what the host will serve and you almost always hope it includes qatayef!
Qatayef are similar to a pancake stuffed with cheese or nuts or ashta (a type of cream). Qatayef are traditionally fried and served with simple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts on top. The qatayef I’m sharing here are not fried because I wanted to keep things light. If you want them fried, shallow fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven after brushing them with some oil. I stuffed these qatayef with a mixture of crushed walnuts, sugar, and orange blossom water.
Caramel popcorn is my favorite way to eat popcorn and, thank goodness, it’s very easy to make at home! As you know, I have a very sweet tooth, and this popcorn makes it to the top of the list for many reasons.
Caramel corn takes me right back to my childhood when one of my friend’s moms used to make it and sell it out of their house. I would treat myself to it after school on many occasions. Of course, caramel corn also has a nostalgic place in my heart because it reminds me of street fairs and festivals.
To make this caramel corn, I have to admit that I cheat a little bit with the recipe: I use micro-waved popcorn. It’s just easier and you get to the end result quicker. Of course, it’s healthier and more economical to make it with fresh popcorn that you make in a pot or in a popcorn maker or air popper. But, microwaved popcorn works just as well.
The secret to making this recipe is the baking soda. It makes the caramel sauce foam up and that’s how it becomes easier to spread over more of the popcorn. It ‘grows’ in volume with the soda.
I’m kind of a plain Jane person with my caramel corn, adding sprinkles to it occasionally. You can add many other toppings like candy, pretzels, peanuts, chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle, etc. You decide!
Here’s how I made the Caramel Corn in these photos:
8 cups of popped popcorn (or one 85g or 3 oz package of micro-wave popcorn)
1/4 c butter (salted or unsalted)
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 T white corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T sprinkles
Prepare popcorn and place it in a large mixing bowl, leaving plenty of room to toss the popcorn with the caramel sauce. Make sure you remove any kernels.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until everything is melted together and combined well. It will start to bubble slightly on the sides.
Add the soda and vanilla and keep stirring until the mixture foams up. Stir and let it cook for another 30 seconds.
Quickly spread the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a spoon until all the popcorn is coated.
Add the sprinkles after the popcorn is fully coated and toss again.
To ensure you separate all the kernels out, I recommend you place the micro-wave popcorn in a bowl and give the bowl a few light tosses so that the kernels settle at the bottom. Use your hands to carefully lift out the popped corn, without any kernels, and place them in your large mixing bowl.
Do NOT leave the caramel on the stove while you go do other things. It will burn. And, once you add the vanilla and soda, the mixture may splatter from the vanilla, and it will foam from the soda. You cannot walk away!
Work quickly to spread the caramel over the big bowl of popcorn.
Do NOT use your hands to toss the caramel and popcorn together – the caramel mixture is super hot!
What have you added to your caramel corn? Comment below!