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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

when I started the blog...

and a few years in...

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Entries in dessert (8)


Red velvet rice krispie treats.

It was just before Valentine's Day, I think, when I first saw red velvet rice krispie treats popping up all over blogland.

Five months later, I finally whipped some up.  I really should not have waited.  Here's how I made mine.

Red Velvet Rice Krispies


  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 11 ounces of marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup red velvet cake mix
  • 6 cups Cocoa Rice Krispies cereal


Line the bottom of a 9 x13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray (lining the bottom is not absolutely necessary but I like the insurance).  Set the pan aside.

Place the cereal in a large bowl— my wide stainless steel bowl worked perfectly for this.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  After the marshmallows are melted, add the cake mix and vanilla and continue to stir until fully incorporated

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cereal (working quickly) and stir and mix until the cereal is coated.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, gently pressing into shape, filling the pan and evening out the top. 

Allow to cool.  Cut, eat, repeat.




Cobbler, 2011 version.

Every summer, I dabble in the world of cobblers.  I am still happy with the quick and easy version I posted last year.  But as I mentioned in that post, sometimes--especially for company--you might want to take it up a notch.

This is the cobbler recipe I go to when guests are headed over and I'd like to serve something special (but still easy) and am not worrying about calorie count (because it ain't diet food).  I've made it five times this summer and have failed to take a shot of the finished dish each time...which is one of the reasons I've delayed in posting the recipe.  But as summer is drawing to a close, I figured I'd best just get it up here.  Even if you've enjoyed cobbler many times this summer, I think there is always room for more...

Company Cobbler

adapted from Paula Deen

4 C peeled and sliced peaches

2 C sugar, divided

1/2 C water

8 T butter

1 1/2 C self-rising flour

1 1/2 C buttermilk

ground cinnamon for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine fruit, water, and 1 C of sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, place butter in a deep-dish pie plate or a 3 quart baking dish and slide into hot oven to melt butter.  In a seperate bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining 1 C sugar--slowly add the buttermilk to prevent clumping.  Do not beat to death.  After butter is melted, remove from oven and pour mixture over hot melted butter.  Do not stir.  Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.  Batter will rise to top during baking.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.




Birthday flapjacks.

Just the other day it occurred to me that I started this blog a year ago.  A year ago today, in fact.  Grand plans for a special post would have been nice.  But really, what I generally do to celebrate is bake something special.  So today we had flapjacks.

Have you ever had flapjacks?  And I'm not talking about pancakes called flapjacks.  I'm talking about British Flapjacks.  A British co-worker introduced me to them forever ago and I instantly fell in love with the buttery, carmeley treat.  I hadn't thought about them in years.  But when I saw a recipe in my March Bon Appetit magazine (the article is a fun read as well), I knew I'd have to give it a go.  And today I made them--my kind of celebration, for sure.

The ingredients couldn't be simpler (but one ingredient might require a bit of a search):  unsalted butter, brown sugar, quick cooking oats (I used old-fashioned as that's all I had on hand), a pinch of salt, and golden syrup.  I found the golden syrup at Wegmans but not at my other area supermarkets.

You melt the butter, syrup, and brown sugar until everything is nice and gooey--a heavy bottom pot comes in handy to avoid overheating.  Next, you add the oats and salt, press into a pan, and bake untiil everything is nice and crusty.  Waiting for the flapjacks to cool is the hardest part...the aroma it gives off while baking is amazing.

Actually, I didn't exactly wait for them to cool and set up before I dug in.  And I'm okay with that.


A few notes:  the boys looooooved these.  Not a huge surprise, really, as they love oatmeal baked goods with a passion.  I envision lots of concoctions with their favorite add-ins--coconut, nuts, dried fruit, anything along those lines would work very well. 

Even after our flapjacks cooled completely, they were pretty crumbly.  I have a feeling it has to do with using old-fashioned oats instead of the quick-cooking variety--next time I'll stick to the recipe and compare.

Now, back to the year-old blog...I am very happy I started this little project a year ago and am determined to keep it up.  But I do have some thoughts and plans that I will share soon...nothing major, just some goals to help me get more done.  Here is my original post--the year went by awfully fast if you ask me.

xoxo, Sandra 

(flapjacks recipe after the jump)

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No-time-for-fancy cake bars.

We're headed to a dinner playdate later today and I wanted to bring a treat.  But Fridays are my day to get the house ready for the weekend, so I didn't have much time to spare.  I try to get all the laundry and cleaning done for the week so that we don't have to spend the weekend doing (or ignoring) chores.  Weekends are for having Charlie and Max home and with us all day--though Charlie is extremely busy at work right now and has had to work most weekends.  I try not to complain as it's important work he's doing and it's not like we don't get to see him at all.  But we miss him very much.  My heart really goes out to those of you with loved ones deployed or otherwise afar--I don't know how you do it. 

And speaking of heavy hearts, I think we are all struggling with emotions right now amidst this unbelievable world tragedy in Haiti.  The important thing, I think, is to do something, anything, and not feel small, insignificant or otherwise powerless.  One of our neighbors is organizing a clothes drive so our family will start there and figure out other ways to help and donate.

When I'm stressed or otherwise cannot make sense of things, I often turn to baking...another reason I wanted to make something today.  Due to holiday sales last month, cake mix was nearly free so I loaded up, even though I prefer to make cake from scratch when possible.  Plus, we have three spring birthdays coming up and after last year's cake fiasco, this year this mama may not try to do everything homemade!

Wow.  That sure was a long way to introduce my most recent cake-mix base recipe that I wanted to share.  I tweaked it until I was happy--happy being a quick, fuss free, cake-like bar that can handle any add-in you choose.   

Cake mix cake bars

1 box yellow cake mix

1 large egg + 1 egg white

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup mix-in (I used semi chocolate chips this go)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom only of 9x13 pan.
  • Mix cake mix, butter, egg, egg white, milk and vanilla in a large bowl--no need for a mixer, I just use a wooden spoon.  Stir in mix-in.  Mixture will be thick.
  • Spread evenly into pan.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Best if allowed to cool completely for an hour before cutting.

Hide the plate, else figure out a way to say no to this:

And because I do not want to leave you feeling as if I have not smiled much these past few days, here are a couple of images of things this week that made me warm and happy.

Max casually reading his brother's library book to him...

And William taking over a laundry basket to set up a comfy lounger--yet still not letting anyone else sit in "his" toddler sized chair and ottoman...




Cupcakes at hand.

Cupcakes.  Who doesn't love cupcakes?  I have been a huge fan (some would say pusher) well before boutique bakeries opened on every corner and made them trendy.  I like to always have the option of breaking some out for even the most impromptu of celebrations.  Here's my not-so-secret secret--they freeze beautifully.

When I make a batch, I set aside a half dozen for us to enjoy right away (naturally).  Then, I freeze the remaining dozen and a half from a standard batch--frosted and all (I like to put them back in the baking tin after they are frosted to set up in the freezer).  Once frozen (the frosting will get firm but never rock hard), I pop them into a ziploc to be handy as needed.  If you do this, just be sure to take them out of the ziploc while still frozen and allow to thaw at room temperature to keep the frosting lovely.  So, you just remembered tomorrow's school party?  No problem.  Spontaneous neighborhood happy hour?  Bring it.

If you make your cupcakes with fresh ingredients, I would not let them go in the freezer for more than 30 days (actually, we've never even come close to the 30 day mark--they get eaten up like crazy--so that's sort of a guess).  Oh, and another tip.  Next time you're shopping at a craft store, pick up an oversized frosting tip--I can frost two dozen cupcakes in no time with one of those!


Beach Brownies.

When we go away for vacation, we prefer renting a house for the extra elbow room. But quite often, we end up sacrificing space for location, cramming the five of us into some tight quarters just to be able to walk to the beach.

These, shall we say, "quaint" accommodations usually have an efficiency-style kitchen without a full sized fridge.  This is otherwise known as my worst nightmare as I still like to cook while away.  And to make it crazier, I also like to bake on vacation.  I can’t help it and yes, I know I need help.

Since Max has been such a trooper this week as he adjusts to first grade, I decided to bake something for him that might remind him of our summer trips.  It’s one of those so-called cheater recipes that start with a box mix, something I call Beach Brownies.  I like it because there are just 3 main ingredients, so you don’t have to fool around with eggs or oil or any of that other nonsense that won't fit in the mini fridge anyway.  As a side note, I feel the need to go on record saying I don’t have a huge thing, either for or against, box mixes (though I do know that some folks swear by them while just as many turn their noses waaay up at them).  Me?  I'm sort of like, meh.  Obviously, they are great for the convenience factor but because I try to avoid preservatives when possible, I make up a big batch of my own “mix” to store in the fridge and use for all of my quickie recipes when I’m home.  But that won't work on vacation so I don't hesitate to use a box mix.

The true beauty of this recipe is that you can play around with the flavors.  Below is the brownie version.  It produces a moist, slightly cakey, brownie that gets fudgier as it sits.  I think they're perfect for packing in picnic lunches because they don't disintegrate into melted chocolate goo.  Another variation we like is using a yellow cake mix and lemon flavored pudding.

Beach Brownies

  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • milk, amount as indicated in pudding directions
  • 1 (18 ounce) box chocolate cake mix
  • 1-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or other mix-in (optional)


  1. Prepare pudding according to package directions.
  2. Stir in cake mix, careful not to overbeat or incorporate too much air.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips or other mix-in.
  4. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
  6. Chow down.


We are CSA members to a farm and try to make it there a few times during the season to pick fruit.  We recently went for blueberries and managed to pick quite a haul.  Will, who usually does more quality control tasting than picking, even managed to pick a nice amount. 

I love blueberries and often bake them up in muffins, scones, and pies.  But I wanted to try a new blueberry recipe so turned to one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  Her post on Blueberry Boy Bait made my day (I love recipes with a story!) and the single-layer cake the recipe turned out made my boys smack their lips and ask if we picked enough to make it again and again and again.  Trying to be funny, I casually said, "oh, like to infinity?" which, of course, led to a dozen questions and my feeble attempt to explain the concept of an unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity to a four and six-year old--yea, that was a fun one.  I should have just left it at "it's what Buzz Lightyear says" because when I tried to simplify it by telling them "you can never get to infinity.  It's as big as you can get," they responded, "then what's infinity plus one?"  I made them be quiet with seconds.              

I'm linking to the recipe rather than reprinting here because the only modification I made is adding in at least twice the amount of blueberries (so a generous full cup).  I'll be trying it with other fruit soon. 





Recently a neighbor asked me if she could hire me to do cupcakes and the cake for her daughter's First Holy Communion celebration.  I was flattered that she thought of me--but there was no way I would charge a friend for cupcakes and cake.

I only had a few days notice and had a hard time thinking of an appropriate decorating theme.  Then I remembered some flagged pages in my Hello Cupcake cookbook. I love this book.  It's filled with the cutest ideas for just about every occasion. Except, of course, a First Holy Communion.

But it does have butterflies. Beautiful and delicate, they look like they might flutter off the page as you're flipping through the book. And with three boys, I doubted a butterfly-themed party was in our future so here was my chance--how perfect. Because, you know, First  Communion ...butterflies ... get it? Fine. I was reaching but look how pretty.  


Supplies: At least two different colors of melting candy wafer or chocolate (I buy the melting wafers at craft stores like Michaels or A.C. Moore); wax paper; butterfly template; permanent marker; sandwich sized ziploc bags.

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