Category: Dessert

Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

I am watching the movie Julie and Julia and Julie Powell asks this very question. So, IS there anything better than butter? When it comes to food, I am going to have to say, “no way.” Whether butter is oozing down fresh corn on the cob or being slathered on a fresh loaf of bread right out of the oven, butter adds richness and tenderness to everything. Whether it be sweet, salty or savory – chances are if it is made with better, it is going to be delicious.  And this Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting is definitely no exception.

In any event, I can’t write a blog about butter with paying tribute to my favorite, my tried and true and hands down the best frosting recipe I have ever tried. This is the recipe for my super easy buttercream frosting. Now please keep in mind that I am a frosting connoisseur. You know those kids that lick their cupcakes at birthday parties and don’t take a bite of cake. Well, I can relate to them. I love frosting – the good stuff anyways.

So please, trust me, this one is outstanding. If you have someone you want to impress I highly recommend making this buttery, creamy deliciousness! OK, here she is…

Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Fluffy Hot Chocolate

I am ruined. Never again will I be able to settle for a cup of hot chocolate concocted from boiling water and some powder in a white pouch. Even the so-called gourmet varieties are no match for the frothy, delicious mug of cocoa I came across, Fluffy Hot Chocolate.

This recipe takes real marshmallows that are melted into the milk and chocolate to make it delectable and by far the best cup of hot cocoa my lips have ever tasted. I like to add a little Irish Cream in mine to give it a little something special. Some of my friends prefer Kahlua and next time I may add some Peppermint Schnapps for fun.  For the kiddos, a little peppermint extract would be great and a bit of pumpkin pie spice for all the pumpkin lovers out there.

Whether this is for you or the kids, this is one seriously delicious hot beverage. As the days get colder and more dreary try this to perk up your spirits.

Fluffy Hot Chocolate

8 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking cocoa
4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Accompaniments and garnish ideas: Whip cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, chocolate shavings, espresso, liqueurs

In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until the marshmallows are melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and add any additional accompaniments you like.

A Perfect Donut

My weakness is homemade baked goods. I have been known to devour an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies in one day and my poor husband has come home to the smell of brownies only to find that my boys and I (mainly me though) have already devoured the entire pan. One caveat to this has always been donuts. There is an amazing local donut bakery in Seattle called Top Pot Donuts. Starbucks now serves their delicious, fried pieces of heaven and whenever I am feeling indulgent I will get one. With such great donuts and my own inability to make good ones myself, I have always turned to Top Pot and Starbucks for my donut fix. Until now…

Yesterday was a gloomy afternoon and I decided to take the challenge of making a batch of donuts with a new recipe I found. I was not disappointed. They came out of the fryer with a crisp crust and a soft, chewy interior. I was in love. I hope you fall in love with this one as well.

Yummy Donuts
(makes 1 dozen)

1 c. milk
5 t. yeast (or two packets)
1 pinch sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. warm mashed potatoes
½ t. salt
¼ c. sugar
2 T. oil

Microwave the milk for about 1 minute in the microwave. Make sure it is warm (not hot) and add the 5 teaspoons of yeast (2 packets) and a pinch of sugar and stir. Let stand for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Add the yeast mixture and mix the dough thoroughly by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook for 3 minutes.

Prepare your kneading surface by spreading a few tablespoons of flour on a smooth surface. Put the dough in the middle of the flour and sprinkle a little flour on top and on your hands. Knead the dough a few times. Once the dough has been kneaded, spread it out to be a half inch thick with your hands or with a rolling pin.

Now it is time to cut out the donuts, you can use a donut cutter or just use something about the same size and then find something smaller to make a hole with.

Place the donuts on a floured pan to let rise as you get the oil ready. Let them rise for a total of ten minutes (it takes about five minutes for the oil to heat up).

Pour about a half inch of oil (vegetable or canola oil) into a pan or you can use an electric fry pan, which is what I used. The oil needs to be about 360 degrees. If the oil starts to smoke it is way too hot. Test the oil with some of the scraps of dough and when it is ready, cook the donuts until golden brown on each side.
Allow the donuts to cool on a rack or on some paper so that the oil soaks off.

Now, you can either sprinkle these with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar, but being the chocoholic that I am, I decided to dunk mine in some chocolate glaze. Here is the recipe for that:

Chocolate Donut Glaze

1/3 cup butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 – 4 T. warm water

Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan until melted, remove from heat. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Gradually stir in the water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Dip the tops of the doughnuts in the glaze.

My Favorite Cookie

Growing up my dad referred to me as the cookie monster. I LOVE cookies, specifically chocolate chip cookies. I have made every single version of chocolate chip cookie you could imagine – the Toll House Recipe, Mrs. Fields’ alleged recipe, countless recipes from blog posts, the Food Network and of course the infamous $250 Neiman Marcus recipe. They are all good, but there is always something missing – maybe a little more brown sugar, less flour, more eggs, no oats and so on.

One day I Binged the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe and clicked on the link to Neiman Marcus and I stumbled upon their cookie recipe, but it was not the one that is the legendary myth. This recipe had much more brown sugar and less oats. OMG, these are SOOOOOOOO good! I never, ever will look for another chocolate chip recipe again. Seriously, these are the best!

I have altered the recipe slightly from the original version by changing the cooking time and omitting the espresso powder. If you love chocolate chip cookies, you must try this recipe. Here it is:

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 T. sugar
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 12 oz. package chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart and roll into a uniform ball. Bake for 9 minutes. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

The Easiest Cookie You Will Ever Make…

I love making cookies and there is no recipe I won’t try. From biscottis to linzer cookies, I have tried and made them all. I have to say that when I saw a recipe for cake mix cookies, I was skeptical but I decided to give them a try and my oh my am I glad I did! With a slight crunch on the outside and a soft, chewy inside, these were delicious and can be made in numerous ways by changing up the cake mix flavor and the candy you decide to put in there. I used M&M’s in my last batch, but next time I just might try some Heath bits or Snickers. Sounds so good, I will have to blog about that later. 🙂

Cake Mix Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 T. vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, M&M’s or other delicious treat

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, butter and eggs until smooth and well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.