Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

Soft, chewy and full of cinnamon goodness, these cookies are perfect for Christmas!


Gingerbread is one of those quintessential Christmas sweet treats. This one is flavorful and a cinch to bake up.

No-Fail Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

This recipe makes great cut-out sugar cookies, and the royal icing is perfect for decorating.

Eggnog Cookies

Soft and cakey cookies with the perfect amount of nutmeg and all the flavor of eggnog.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

This recipe is sinfully simple, full of the flavor of Nutella and can be prepared in the microwave (or on the stovetop) in minutes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Celebrating With Chocolate Pound Cake

Friday was Mr. Picky's birthday. My Daddy turned 60 years old, and that sounds just crazy to me. Not that 60 is old, but looking back at my grandparents when they were that age, they just seemed so much older than my Daddy does. I come from good genes and a family that ages amazingly well, I can only hope that I age half as well as my Daddy and the rest of my family members have.

I suppose part of what made my grandparents seem so much older at 60 than my Daddy seems is that although graying my dad still has much of his natural hair color. But, beyond that, generation has a lot to do with it. My Daddy comes from the era of the hippie, so naturally his generation, for the most part, is a more relaxed and liberal generation than that of his parents. Maybe I'm way off base, but that's where I feel much of that comes from. Regardless of any of that, my Daddy is an amazing father and mother and truly the one person in my life who has always been there and supported me through the good and bad. He's the one person that without question will always be there and sacrifice for me. Sure, I've got other family that supports me and is there for me, and I've got a few close friends I know have my back and truly care about me, but he's my person, my real, true, always and forever best friend. We're a team. Even when I was a little girl, when it came to big life decisions for our little family of two my thoughts and opinions always mattered.

I know, I know, enough with the sappy stuff right? For the most part Friday was just another day, one Mr. Picky didn't even realize was any different from the last until he went to write the date out, then he realized he was another year older. It was no leisurely day of relaxation or fun filled activities for him. Nope, my poor Daddy was off building stuff, and although that sounds fun to lots of people out there, when it's your living it often feels more like, well, work. So, while he was off swinging a hammer and wielding a nail gun I was home marinating steaks and baking a birthday cake.

Mr. Picky is a man of simple tastes, and as much as it baffles my mind, he doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. I know, crazy right? Me, who can eat frosting by the spoonful, and will pick sweet over savory 99% of the time, I just can't imagine not wanting a cake filled with gobs of frosting for your birthday. I am so my father's child with many, many things, like for instance, I've got my daddy's tongue and temper. The sweet tooth though, I'm not sure where that came from, definitely not him. He would be fine without a birthday cake, but since that's completely unacceptable to me his cake of choice is a chocolate pound cake. I've been making the same cake for his birthday for about 8 years now. Sometimes I top it with chocolate ganache, which is how I love it. Mr. Picky prefers it plain. Not only does he find this cake to be acceptable, if he was going to love a cake, this would be the one. I remember once he tasted someone else's chocolate pound cake and told me it was good, but mine was better. That sounds like a minor thing, but trust me when I say that coming from him that's pretty much the equivalent of "Your pound cake is the best ever."

This isn't one of those super rich and fudgy cakes, but if you like chocolate and are a fan of pound cakes like we are then you should definitely give this cake a try. I've found that every time I bake this cake it spills over the sides of the pan a bit as it's baking, so this time I put a bit of the batter into a 6 inch layer cake pan, and it worked out perfectly. If you don't have a layer pan that small 4-6 standard size cupcakes should work also. My bundt pan is pretty vintage, so it's a standard-ish size, but if yours is a bit larger than normal you might not have any overflow, just keep an eye out while it bakes. And make sure that you grease and flour your pan very well, don't shortcut it and use cooking spray. One thing I always do when baking any kind of chocolate cake is to "flour" my pans with cocoa instead of flour. If you're frosting a cake it's no biggie, but I hate having little spots of flour show up on the outside of my chocolate cake.

The Bag Lady's Favorite Chocolate Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add flour and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 3/4 hours, or until cake is done. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and serve.

*If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup, fill cup to 1 cup mark with milk (whole, 2% or skim all work fine).

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Break chocolate into small pieces and put in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
2. In small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium-high heat, bringing just to a boil.
3. Remove cream from heat, and pour over chocolate. Allow to sit until chocolate has melted completely.
4. Add vanilla extract and stir using a whisk until completely combined. Pour over cake.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birthday Pupcakes For Millie

So..it's been a while right? Yeah, I know. Feel free to call me a slacker because part of my absence has definitely been because I was unmotivated, or in less desirable terms, lazy. Mostly though, my absence started off because I had a lot on my mind. I was pretty stressed over a few family matters, but am happy to report that all is fine. Many prayers were said, and much thanks was given when those prayers were answered, you have my word on that. But, I'll spare you my saga and say that I will try much harder to share my projects, my recipes and my not so exciting life with y'all regularly.

Today is a pretty special day in our house. We celebrate my baby girl's birthday today. Millie is three years old today, and time has really flown by. Of course, since she is a dog and not a human child, and we don't have her birth parents she hasn't been with us since birth, so she hasn't been a part of the family for a full three years yet. I remember her entry into the family like it was yesterday.

After much searching online we found a liter of English Labs in the Asheville area of the North Carolina mountains that came from gorgeous parents and champion bloodlines, exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a black girl, so we packed up the car with a new crate and plenty of toys and headed to the mountains in hopes of getting our girl. It was total love from day one. I won't like, she was H-E-Double Hockeysticks on four paws from the moment she got home and hasn't slowed up yet. She is absolutely the alpha to her two older brothers and the complete opposite of Duncan her yellow Lab brother, but she has a great temperament and the most amusing personality. I love watching her with Mr. Picky Eater. They have so much fun together and the most amazing bond. That little girl definitely has his heart.

She can be headstrong and frustrating when she wants to, but fuss at her and she turns into the most pitiful little girl ever. I've never met another dog like Millie and I wouldn't trade her for all the money in the biggest bank in the world. Along with her two brothers she's got my whole heart. I wanted so badly to bake my girl a birthday cake today, but her poor brother Duncan has so many allergies that I never get to bake goodies for them. His allergies are so bad that he's currently on a food trial, but that's a story for another time. When Duncan was a puppy, before we learned of his many allergies I did bake cupcakes for his first birthday, so I thought I would share that recipe with y'all in honor of my girl. These pupcakes and frosting are totally dog friendly, unless of course your dog has allergies to any of the ingredients. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or doesn't eat a variety of different foods I would start them out with a small amount, depending on the size of the dog, but since these are mild and not incredibly fatty you shouldn't have an issue.

Pupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
dog-friendly recipe

Yield: 20 pupcakes or 1 bundt cake

3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (quick-cooking works fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix mashed bananas and applesauce together, then beat in eggs.
Toss in all dry ingredients and beat until completely combined.
Bake at 350 degrees in lightly greased muffin tins or bundt pan. (Approximately 25 minutes for cupcakes and 30-40 minutes for bundt cake)

1/2 brick (4 oz) light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 bananas, mashed
small dog biscuits, candles or slices of banana for decorating

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.
Frost completely cooled cake/cupcakes and adorn with desired decorations


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