Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lemon Cream Cake

Top sprinkled with powdered sugar.
This is my attempt to make a cake similar to Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake.  It was wonderful!  However, it’s been so long since I’ve had the real thing, I’m not sure this measures up.  Still very good and my family agreed.

Lemon Cake mix (this is what I used…we really like lemon! The real cake has a vanilla cake though) or vanilla cake mix, mixed according to directions.

Crumb Topping:
¾ cup flour
6 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons butter, sliced into 8 slices
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar (this will be used right before serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together flour and sugar, toss with butter.  Cut butter into flour and sugar mixture.  You can use a food processor for this.  You want it to be fine pieces, almost like sand.  Toss with vanilla.

Bake half of the cake batter in a 9-inch springform pan (grease and flour pan) for about 20 minutes or until done.  This is the bottom half of the cake.   

Bake the second half of the cake batter in same pan (wash, dry, grease and flour pan after first half is baked), sprinkle the crumb topping over top of cake after about 5 minutes of baking.  Bake until done, about 15 more minutes.

Allow cakes to cool completely.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cold water
2 egg yolks, beaten
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces cream cheese, softened

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and flour. Stir in water until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Put back on the heat and bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the lemon juice and butter

Transfer to a glass bowl. Cover with clear wrap or wax paper.  Cool to room temperature without stirring. Refrigerate until chilled.

Beat the cream cheese.  Add the lemon filling and beat until smooth.

Assemble the cake inside the springform pan.  Place the bottom layer in the bottom (cut off domed top if necessary).  Spread the lemon mixture evenly over cake.  Add top layer.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle cake with 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar.  Using a mesh strainer is great for this!

Be sure to cut the cake with a sharp knife inside the springform pan.  Then remove the sides of the pan to serve the cake pieces.  This keeps the cake from squishing the cream filling out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls (My Favorite)

This is my favorite cinnamon roll recipe. It can be time consuming but if you have a bread machine, it’s much easier. Just use the dough cycle. When it's done, proceed with the recipe where you flatten the dough out.

My husband describes these as “not sugary, kinda creamy.”

Melt a stick of butter to have on hand for the smaller amounts of melted butter throughout the recipe. Be sure to stir well before measuring out what you need (this redistributes the solids).

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (you will need 2 packets but you won’t use all of the 2nd one)
1 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
½ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
½ cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
¾ teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (more or less)
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided (this is not mixed into the dough)

¾ + 2 tablespooons brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Add the butter, milk, egg, salt, remaining sugar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (I probably only knead 3 or 4 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12x17 rectangle (I have a cookie sheet this size and I just pat it out into it. You can really do whatever size you want.

Brush 2 tablespoons melted butter over the dough.

Mix the filling ingredients together (mix the dry ingredients first; then add the wet and stir). Mixture should resemble wet sand. Sprinkle/spread onto the dough as evenly as possible. From the long edge, roll the dough up as tightly as you can. Slice into 16 pieces.

Butter 2 round cake pans (I prefer the disposable foil pans; they don’t stick for some reason). Place the rolls into the pan; 1 in the middle and 7 around the one. Brush with 2 tablespoons butter. Let rise in warm place (a cold oven with the light on is a great place!) for about 30 minutes or until the rolls are almost to the top of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-20 minutes or until golden brown (I place them on the rack just below the middle one to help the bottoms get done).

Cream the cream cheese with the mixer (you can just whisk all this but it’s much creamier with the mixer), add the butter, milk, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until well mixed.

Spread over the rolls you want to use immediately; place the rest in the refrigerator until you are going to use it.

NOTES: It’s best to gently warm the leftover rolls one or two at a time in the microwave. Placing them in the oven tends to dry them out, though they are still yummy this way.

These freeze well! After assembling them, brush the butter on them, place some plastic wrap on the surface of the rolls and cover with foil. Freeze for up to a few months. When needed, thaw them and rise in a cold oven with the light on (you can speed the process by placing a large bowl or pan with hot tap water in it inside the oven). It takes about 2-3 hours. Bake as directed above. I’m sure you can thaw the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and just rise them the next morning…I just haven’t tried this yet.

The icing can be frozen as well. A freezer bag works great for this; just be sure to get all the air out of it before freezing. You can thaw it in the refrigerator.

If you want to bake them the day before and just re-heat, consider leaving the icing off. They seem to reheat a bit better, then you can add the icing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

This is my mom’s recipe.  It’s the one I’ve always used.  I’ve tried others before but they just don’t compare to this one.  It has the right amount of peanut buttery taste, sweetness, and softness (or crispness if you bake a bit longer).  You can barely bake (for soft cookies) or bake a little longer (for crunchy cookies).  My husband and I like soft; our girls like crisp (for dipping in milk!).  Since I get distracted easily and don’t always remove them early for the soft ones, I usually end up with some soft and some crisp.

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups flour (you can use 2 for richer cookies but I prefer 3 for the texture)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the sugars and blend well.  Mix in vanilla and eggs.  Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Place balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet (I use a cookie scoop, but you can just make small balls; about the size of a walnut or smaller).  Flatten with a fork dipped in white sugar to make a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Allow to cool for a minute or two.  Remove from pans to wax paper, a kitchen towel, or a cake rack. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Peach or Blueberry Cream Pie

This came from my Grandma Ann.  She always made it with blueberry pie filling, which is delicious!  I decided to try it with some peaches I had.  The result was really yummy!!
1 pie crust, baked as directed (a graham cracker crust can be substituted)

1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. cool whip
Beat the cream cheese, slowly add the powdered sugar.  Mix in the vanilla.  Fold in the cool whip.  Spread into cooled crust. 

Pie Filling:
Make a paste of:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water

In a medium saucepan, put:

2 cups blueberries or peaches (chopped)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (only if using peaches)
3/4 cup sugar

Add the paste mixture.  Stir over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, until thick.  You may need to lower it to low.

Spread the cooled pie filling over the cream filling.  Refrigerate until cold through (2-4 hours).

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Butter Rolls

These are the soft, fluffy kind of homemade rolls.  I cheat and let my bread machine mix, rise, and knead the dough.  This makes them so light and fluffy!  I will include "regular" instructions for those who don't use the bread machine with notes for those who do.

This makes a lot of rolls but don't worry, you can place formed (not risen) rolls on a wax paper lined tray and freeze until firm; put in a freezer zipper bag.  To prepare, place frozen rolls in greased pan and rise for 2-3 hours, bake as directed.


1 tablespoon fast acting dry yeast (you will need 2 packets but you won’t use all of the 2nd one)
1 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar (just 1/3 cup if using bread machine)
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees) (may need 1-2 tablespoons more in bread machine)
1/2 cup butter, softened (margarine can be used; I suggest real butter)
1/2 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (more or less)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Add the butter, milk, egg, salt, remaining sugar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (I probably only knead 3 or 4 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. You can simply pat the dough out (about 1/2 inch thick) and cut into squares or whatever shape. For a fancier way of doing them, roll each portion into a 12-inch circle, cut each circle into 12 wedges. Roll up wedges from the wide end and place point side down 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Curve ends to form crescents.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks.

BREAD MACHINE TIPS: When you do this by hand, you can decide whether or not to add all the flour. I add all 4 cups in the bread machine and watch it during the first mixing cycle. If it's too thick, I add 1 tablespoon water and another if necessary. You want a not-too-sticky dough but something that if poured out onto a surface, it flattens very easily.

Pour onto a floured surface, form as desired. The best way to get soft, fluffy rolls is to simply pour the dough out, flatten (don't knead anymore), cut into squares, move to pan, bake. Yum!

*NOTE: An oven with the light on is a great place to rise rolls if the oven is not being used to bake something else at the time. If the oven is already employed, the top of the stove is a good place (the heat from the oven will help them rise faster).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dark Chocolate Frosting

This is so yummy!  It’s not for the faint of heart, I’ll say that!  It can be fickle and you kind of have to know when to stop adding powdered sugar.  But it’s so worth it!  And hey, if you do end up eating it with a spoon, no worries…it tastes like a spoon full of fudge!  Worst case scenario, you crumble your cake and layer it with the frosting in a parfait dish (guilty!  I’ve done this before!).

1 stick butter, no substitutions

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar (you may need less; you may need more)

Combine the cream and sour cream in a measuring cup, mixing until smooth (or as good as you can get it).  Set aside.

Place a large saucepan with the butter in it over medium heat to melt the butter.  Over the heat, stir in the sugar, cocoa, and salt.  The mixture is going to be grainy and thick. 

Slowly add the cream mixture, while whisking.  Continue to cook without boiling until the sugar is dissolved (about 6-8 minutes).  If necessary, reduce the heat to medium low. 

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Allow to cool at room temperature, then whisk in the powdered sugar until desired consistency.   Use as desired.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes

True confession: I have been scared to try making homemade vanilla cupcakes. I’ve tried one recipe but with not-so-great results. Most recipes call for cake flour. I have nothing against it, really, it’s just expensive and not something I use often.

So, I found this gem on a website: and modified it a bit. When I baked them today, I was very surprised at the outcome! They were very easy to make (almost as easy as a box mix). They pull away from the cupcake liner for the most part. They’re very moist and spongy! They are tasty, even without icing! A winner in my book!

So, here’s my recipe…

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Stir these together in a mixing bowl:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


3 large eggs
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix with a mixer until the dry ingredients are moist. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until fluffy.

Fill liners 1/2 to 2/3 full of batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched (if it leaves an indention, bake a few more minutes).

Let cool completely on a cake rack. Frost as desired.