Lemon Blueberry Pie Bars

I’ve been looking for a fun blueberry recipe, something new and different. Of course there’s blueberry muffins, bread, pancakes, pie… But I came across this recipe for lemon blueberry pie bars on Pinterest and I was intrigued. A lemony pie crust with a cream cheese blueberry filling, topped with a lemon crumble. It’s not too sweet and has multiple textures going on. 

I doubled the recipe and made it in a 13″x 9″ and the bars were pretty thick, as you can see from the pic. 


Lemon Blueberry Pie Bars

Ingredients

FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUST

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

zest of one lemon, divided

2 cups all-purpose flour

FOR THE FILLING

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1-5.3 ounce container lemon flavored Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

pinch of salt

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups fresh blueberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil. Leave an overhang on the sides. Set aside.

To make the shortbread crust: stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and half of the lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until combined. Reserve ¾ cup of the shortbread crust and place in the refrigerator or freezer until needed. Press remaining crust evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese on high until smooth. Beat in eggs, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add sugar, lemon flavored Greek yogurt, remaining lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and mix thoroughly. Add flour and mix again until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

Pour filling into crust and add a few blueberries on top of filling. Remove reserved crust from refrigerator and crumble over top of the filling (you may need to separate into crumbs with a knife or fork). Sprinkle with sugar. Bake bars for 60 minutes, or until toothpick placed in center of pan comes out mostly clean. Allow pan to cool at room temperature on a wire rack. When completely cool, chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

When bars are completely chilled, lift out of the pan using foil overhang and cut into squares. Top with lemon zest before serving. Bars can be stored covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Recipe from Fresh April Showers 

Chocolate Cake

Ok, whoever was tasked with telling me National Chocolate Cake day was last week really fell down on the job. I mean, chocolate cake is my favorite. Like, the thing I would take on a deserted island, last dinner on earth favorite. How could I miss this? Luckily, I don’t need a special occasion to make chocolate cake. So there. 

Usually I make this chocolate cake because it’s easy and foolproof. But I was in the mood to try something different so I went to Pinterest and searched for a new one to try and found his one by Life Love and Sugar. Hers looks delicious because she used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder. I didn’t have any, so I just used my go-to Trader Joes cocoa powder. 

The recipe is one bowl (bonus!) and comes together in about 10 minutes. I halved the recipe and make it in 6″ pans so we didn’t have too much leftover (i.e I wouldn’t eat that much cake).    

 Chocolate Cake
Yield: 3 layer 8 inch cake

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake 

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup boiling water

Chocolate Frosting

1 cup butter

1 cup shortening

8 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder

1/4 cup milk as needed

Instructions

1. Grease three 8″ round cake pans. Line with parchment and set aside.

2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.

3. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.

4. Add boiling water to mixture. Mix well.

5. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 300 degrees for about 28-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

6. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

7. Make frosting- Beat together butter and shortening until smooth.

8. Slowly add powdered sugar and cocoa and mix on low.

9. Add vanilla and milk and mix until the frosting is the right consistency.

10. Once cakes are cool, fill and frost. 

Recipe adapted from Life Love and Sugar

Kentucky Butter Cake

Time for another bundt! When you google bundt cakes or search on Pinterest, Kentucky Butter Cake comes up a lot. A LOT. So I decided to try it, though I normally opt for chocolate cakes 😊

This is a quick vanilla pound cake-type bundt. After it’s done baking, however, you pour a sugary, buttery glaze over the top (bottom) while it’s still hot. Yes.  

Once it’s cooled, you will unmold it and it will stick to the pan. And you will feel badly even though you oiled and floured the pan and the recipe warned you it was tricky. Then you will scrape off the stick cake bits and try to patch it back up. But then you’ll convince yourself that there was no way it wouldn’t not stick (that’s proper grammar), so you cover it up with some powdered sugar and strategically take your picture.   

The cake is moist with the crunchy glaze. Delicious. There are lots of recipes for this out there (did I mention that?), but I used this one

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

So, I’ve been baking for a while and I have a confession. I don’t own a bundt pan. I know. I have a tart pan, a tube pan, every size of round pan, etc. but no bundt. Shame. 

My sister-in-law lent me her bundt pan a few weeks ago so I thought, “I’m going to make a bunch of bundts while I have it (I know, just go buy one)!” 

First off, I had a giant can of pumpkin and some leftover cream cheese frosting so I made a pumpkin bundt and thinned out the cream cheese frosting to a glaze. And then drizzled homemade caramel over the top. Moist and not spicy, it’s an easy and quick yummy dessert. Or breakfast :)  

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Ingredients

2-1/2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

3 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

Confectioners’ sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

2. Transfer to a greased 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely. 

Halloween Pumpkin Cake

Happy Halloween! I’ll be honest- before we had kids, I actually hated Halloween. Even when I was a kid. Now, it’s one of my favorite “holidays”- seeing the kids dressed up and having fun. As I write this, my oldest kids are working together to fill treat bags for trick-or-treaters tonight, while my 4 year old is watching Halloween Wallykazam (really, the worst show). 

I made this cake for a birthday last week- the request was for classic Halloween decorations. The cake was pumpkin with cream cheese frosting.   

The recipe for my favorite pumpkin cake is here. It can be made in a 9″x 13″ pan (no need to layer). Have a fun and safe night!

Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream

Halloween countdown day 3! I’ve now posted more in the past 3 days than the past year and a half. 

So, I make a lot of cakes. But before I made cakes, I had never really heard that people didn’t like chocolate cake. And when I say “people,” I mean humans over the age of 10. Yeah, little kids don’t like chocolate cake. But adults?! No! 

Then I started making cakes for other people and not liking chocolate is like a “thing.” There’s actually a lot of people who don’t like it. And then one day, my daughter, my own flesh and blood, and BEANSY no less, tells me she doesn’t like chocolate cake. 

Hhmph. 

So this post is for all those other people. People who like chocolate cake. Smart people. Just kidding!

This is my favorite chocolate cake recipe. This isn’t the one I use for my cakes because it’s too soft and isn’t study enough. It’s moist and super easy. I usually replace the coffee with milk because I don’t normally have coffee lying around, but you could stop by Starbucks and grab a cup. 

For the hazelnut buttercream, I use Italian Merengue or French buttercream and Hazelnut paste. I buy my hazelnut paste at Orson Gygi, but I’m sure you can get it online. 

 
And now for the chocolate cake recipe:

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (Serves 8)

Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten, Clarkson/Potter Publishers, All Rights Reserved

Butter for greasing the pans 

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans 

2 cups sugar 

¾ cups good cocoa powder 

2 teaspoons baking soda 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 cup buttermilk, shaken 

½ cup vegetable oil 

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee 

Chocolate Frosting 

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut 

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar 

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. 
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. 
  3. Place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting 

  1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake. 

Stenciled Halloween Cookies

I don’t make sugar cookies often, but I started seeing posts on Instagram from the Cookie Countess and I had to try it. I have an air brush and I’m always looking for ways to use it. So, a few weeks ago she had free shipping on any purchase so I took advantage. 

I got the polka dot stencil and the thin stripes stencil, along with the magnets to hold he stencils in place. I also got a few others, but I’ll save those for another day! 
I made pumpkin cut outs and a couple kitties- the cats were small so I didn’t make many of those. I outlined and flooded them with 20 second royal icing and let them dry completely.  I then used my airbrush with Americolor airbrush colors.  

 This was my first try with a chevron stencil, where I learned to point the airbrush straight down instead of at an angle like I do with cakes. 😳

Below is the finished product:  

These were made with Americolor Orange and Yellow sheen, bright orange and super black. If you don’t have an airbrush, you could try Wilton’s Color Mist to try to achieve similar results. 

  
Below is a royal icing recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle. Check out her site for the cutest cookies you’ve ever seen. 

Royal Icing

Yield: Approximately 5 cups

Ingredients
2 pounds {one bag} confectioner’s sugar {907 grams}
5 tablespoons meringue powder {approximately 53 grams}

2-3 teaspoons oil-free extract or emulsion

1/2-3/4 cups warm water

Instructions

  1. Begin by stirring the flavoring into half the water.
  2. Using a paddle attachment, gently mix the sugar and meringue powder. It’s not necessary to sift the sugar beforehand, but you can if you like.
  3. With the mixer on it’s lowest setting slowly add the water/flavoring mix to the dry ingredients. As the water is added, the icing will become thick and lumpy.
  4. Continue to add the remaining water {this may or may not be the entire amount} until the mixture reaches a thick, honey like consistency. At this point, turn the mixer to medium speed and whip 2-4 minutes until this icing is thick and fluffy. Mixing time can vary greatly so watch carefully and stop mixing when the icing is this enough to form a soft peak.

Pumpkin Bread (Quick n Easy)

What? It’s been over a year since I posted? How did that happen? Well, I believe those last posts were me on my phone in the middle of the night with a newborn baby who didn’t like to sleep. Fast forward a year later and we’re in a new state, and I get to stay home with my kids. New chapter and we’re loving it. 

Halloween is quickly approaching and fall is in the air. Actual fall, not the fall in Southern California where it’s 90 degrees and you go to a pumpkin patch in the parking lot of a mall. Fall where the leaves are changing and you get earaches when you run in the morning. You take the good with the bad. 

I’m counting down to Halloween this week with some fun recipes. This pumpkin bread comes together in less than 10 minutes and doesn’t even require a mixer. Awesome. You could add a glaze or crumb topping but it’s delicious all on its own.   

Pumpkin Bread

Prep time: 5 min

Bake time: 40 min

Serves: 1 loaf (can easily be doubled)

Ingredients

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 c canola or vegetable oil

1/3 c whole milk

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups all- purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x  5″ loaf pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil, milk and eggs in a large bowl until blended. 
  3. Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix until just blended. 
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top so it’s equally distributed. 
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out on rack to cool completely.