Today’s a very special day… IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! This year to celebrate my 33rd birthday, I wanted to make my own cake. I have the had the privilege of meeting Amirah Kassem several times, working with her and hiring her bakery Flourshop a couple times. She’s the one who’s the mastermind behind the Rainbow Explosion Birthday Cake! (P.S. She has a book called The Power Of Sprinkles that we all need in our lives PLUS she sells her cake kits at Williams Sonoma).
I’m hoping I was able to do her proud this year when I made my own at home! I didn’t use her Cake Kit this time, but I did follow her guidance (and inspiration)! It was super fun and fabulous… and made a HUGE mess! ha
I started by using Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix and then followed some simple online recipe hacks to making that $2 box cake mix taste like a $6 slice you buy at the store (directions below)! Then I bought a Easy Layers Cake Pan Set on Amazon from Wilton – it’s a set of five, 6-inch pans which means you can divide one box of cake mix evenly so it’s super easy.
To color the cakes, I followed after Amirah’s lead and bought Chefmaster Neon Liqua-Gel Food Coloring to get bright, bold colors. WARNING: Be careful not to get on your hands because you’ll have to wash them A LOT to get it off. Once I mixed the cake, I divided into 5 Glass Mixing Bowls so I could color. I have to admit… I made the first cake by using only a few drops (3-5) and it came out significantly faded. So I panicked and made a second version with over double the food coloring which looked so much better, so I would go that route!
Once the cakes are cooked, make sure they cool down FULLY (to the touch and won’t crumble) before you start to assemble. If you’re making an explosion cake, you’ll want to start by cutting a hole out of the 3 middle layers. I was able to do this using a champagne flute! If you want just a regular rainbow cake (I made both), then you can skip this step overall. PRO TIP: To assemble, ice and decorate so much easier, do yourself a favor and get a Rotating Cake Turntable, it’s worth it. Then it’s just icing, layers between cakes and filling up the explosion tube with sprinkles before adding the top layer (with no hole in it).
After you have it successfully stacked and iced, then it’s the fun time. SPRINKLE PARTY!! Btw… I bought 2lbs of Sprinkles to make sure I wouldn’t run out and I made 2 cakes and still have about half left! The easiest way to get sprinkles to the sides is to not worry about making a mess and literally grab handfuls and just place them all around it until you cover ever inch of the white icing. You don’t even have to ice it to perfection, because the sprinkles will hide any imperfections. 🙂
You can check it all out in my YouTube video below!
Cake Box Hacks to Make it Taste Better:
Replace Water with Milk (I used Almond Milk even)
Replace Vegetable Oil with Melted Butter + Add MORE! (I used a whole stick)
Add an Extra Egg (Also since we’re coloring the cake, you can keep the yolks)
Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
1/2 cup solid shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In your Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, cream the butter and shortening on medium speed using the Paddle Attachment until light and fluffy for about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla and scrape down the bowl occasionally.
Gradually add powered sugar, one cup at a time, staring by mixing each cup on a low speed then beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl after each cup of sugar is added. When all sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear dry and stiff.
Gradually add milk or heavy cream, adding small amounts at a time until the desired consistency is reached; continue to beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Don’t tell your favorite Barista, but did you know you can make your own sous vide egg bites at home?? Who needs the Starbucks when you got the Instant Pot? #amirite?
I’m am ALL about breakfast, to me it most def is the most important meal of the day and I rarely (if ever) will skip it. However, I also don’t always have a lot of time (yes, even during Quarantine), so I’m always looking for something quick and easy while also being delicious and satisfying. This used to mean stopping by a coffee shop on the way to work, but not anymore!
I know what you’re thinking… the idea of microwaving eggs does NOT sound appealing, but technically that’s what they’re doing at the coffee shop. With this recipe, I can make a double batch that yields 14 egg bites, giving my husband and I two a day for an entire week. This means if you make these on a Sunday then you’ll get more of your morning time back during the week. How does that sound? Plus they’re DELICIOUS!
My personal favorite and go-to is broccoli cheddar, but the possibilities are endless! You will need to purchase the silicone molds in order to make this work, but I promise you, you’ll find yourself making egg bites so regularly it will be worth it! Plus, I’ve seen people online using them to make muffins, brownie bites and so much more.
Here’s the equipment you’ll need to make these egg bites:
The molds double as storage containers so they’re perfect! When you’re ready to eat, just pop a couple out on a plate, microwave for around 1-minute and then enjoy! Check out the video on YouTube to see how easy they are to make (don’t mind my disastrous mess).
Broccoli Cheddar Instant Pot
Egg Bites Recipe
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese
1/4 Cup Broccoli
Add eggs, broccoli, cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese to blender (or food processor) and process until smooth
Season as desired (salt, pepper, etc.) and pulse to make sure it’s well mixed
Divide egg mixture evenly between the compartments of the silicone mold (single batch = 1 mold or 7 bites / double batch = 2 molds or 14 bites)
Add 1 Cup of water to the Instant Pot before lowering the filled silicone molds into the Instant Pot
Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the vent to seal. Select “Steam” button and set timer to 10 minutes.
After cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for around 10 minutes
Remove the molds form the Instant Pot and allow bites to cool before serving, or covering with lid and refrigerating for 5-7 days
My love for bread is no secret! I recently made bread for the first time (see blog post), and it was fun… but time consuming! I wanted to try again, but this time putting all my kitchen gadgets to work, to see if they can help simplify the process!
However, I couldn’t just do one at a time, I had to do a full blown BREAD-A-THON and make them all at once and do a taste test in the end. Oh man, was I in bread heaven.
Here’s a breakdown on the three methods I tried with notes:
Air Fryer Bread
While this one, did require a Kitchen Aid to properly mix and knead the dough, it was super easy and required less time! Plus it cooked in the air fryer in just 20-minutes!
Pros: – Only 1-hour resting time – Cooks in 20-minutes
Cons: – Requires Kitchen Aid AND Air Fryer
Instant Pot Bread
It’s tricky to really call this “Instant Pot” bread, considering it requires finishing in the oven or air fryer. However, it was by far the most beautiful in both shape + color.
Pros: – Beautiful presentation – Crust comparable to store-bought wheat bread, great for sandwiches
Cons: – Time consuming, with 2-hour resting period, 40-minute Instant Pot cooking time followed by Oven baking
For this, I used the Lékué Silicone Bread Maker which is convenient because you mix it in, proof in it AND even bake in it! Perfect bread for 1-2 people.
Pros: – Best taste + flavor – Easiest to make, with only the bread maker + an oven required – Uses baking powder vs. yeast
Cons: – Small portions means it’s more of a daily task – Requires 2 resting stages
Overall, I found the Instant Pot and Air Fryer breads very similar in taste and what you can use it for (sandwiches, avocado toast, etc). The Instant Pot bread was a bit denser overall, so in the end I would go for the Air Fryer option over the Instant Pot because I like the lighter version, and less time consuming. However, at the end of the day, I have to admit that my favorite and easiest overall was def the over version, using the Lékué Silicone Bread Maker! While this is smaller portions, it’s easy enough (and considering fresh bread only lasts a couple days), it’s a great go-to for a bread fix!
Check out my YouTube video to see the bread showcase showdown in action!
Air Fryer Bread Recipe
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Butter a 6-by-3-inch round pan and set aside.
Combine the butter, yeast, sugar, salt and 1 cup warm water in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 cup of the flour at a time, waiting for each addition to be fully incorporated before adding more. Once all of the flour is added, knead on medium speed for 8 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Add the pan with the dough to a 3.5-quart air fryer and set to 380 degrees F. Cook until the bread is dark brown and the internal temperature registers 200 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
6-8 grams instant yeast OR 7.5-10 grams Dry Active Yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup cold water
Make Bread Dough: In a large mixing bowl, add in all-purpose flour, then salt. Mix them very well.
Add in instant yeast, and mix them very well.
Push all the flour mixture to the side by creating a well in the middle. Gradually pour cold water into the well, then mix the flour until well incorporated to form a wet sticky dough. Make sure all the flour is mixed in. Depending on your flour, you may need more cold water.
Cover the dough with a lid or food wrap to retain moisture.
Rising Dough: Let dough rise to almost double in size for 2 hours at 75°F (24°C) to 85°F (29°C). Then, you can continue to step 3 or place it in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours.
Shape Bread Dough: Lightly dust your work surface with some flour. Place the dough on the dusted surface. To prevent the dough from sticking to your hand, wet your hand with a bit of water before you fold the dough.
Fold the bottom part of the dough up, then pull and stretch the top part of the dough and fold it down. Flip the dough over and roughly shape it into a round “ball” shape.
Grease the bottom of a round baking pan with some oil, then place the dough in the container. Cover the container with a lid.
Pressure Cook Bread: Add 1 cup cold water to the Instant Pot. If you’re using a closed container with no removable bottoms, place the container directly in the water. If you’re using a pan with a removable bottom, add a trivet and place the pan on top of it.
Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 40 minutes + 10 minutes Natural Release. Open the lid carefully.
Uncover & Bake Bread: Soak up the water on the lid, then remove the lid. Measure the bread’s temperature with a meat thermometer (core should be 180°F – 190°F).
Place the bread container in a 450°F oven for roughly 12 – 18 minutes until the bread crust is beautifully brown.
Cool & Slice Bread: Remove the bread from the container. Place the crusty bread on a wire rack and let it cool down for at least an hour before slicing into it.
When I was just a boy I remember my uncle taking me to Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House in Chicago. It was a restaurant he went to growing up and wanted to make sure my brother and I got to experience it as well. They don’t take reservations, and even though the place is not tiny, there is ALWAYS a long line of people waiting to get in the door.
Why was the line so long? What could be worth waiting this long for? Well, once we got in and ordered, I quickly found out why.. the famous APPLE PANCAKE (so famous they sell them frozen online). It’s a giant pancake filled with caramelized apples that I swear tasted even better with each bite you take. Plus when you’re just a kid – it’s almost as big as you are, which made it even better!
Well, I don’t know about you, but we’ve been cooped up indoors lately and haven’t been to Chicago in so long, I’m long overdue for getting my fix of this pancake of perfection. Seeing as today is my 3rd wedding anniversary, I wanted to do a little something special for breakfast. Then as if it were a SIGN FROM ABOVE… last night we were watching Mean Girls on TV and in the final scenes when they’re announcing Spring Fling Queen, they mentioned the winner received 2 gift certificates to Walker Bros. Pancakes. [FUN FACT: Mean Girls was written by Tina Fey, who’s a Chicago native so she’s a big fan too!]
But that’s all I needed to hear… that was the inspiration I was looking for! Now I’m happy to report back that I found a recipe online to create this masterpiece at home and it was a SUCCESS… not to mention surprisingly easy overall.
The key is using Granny Smith apples, so you get tart, crisp apple taste combined with butter and cinnamon sugar (aka, things that make everything taste better). You prepare it in stages to ensure the sugar caramelizes to get sticky & sweet, then bake it to perfection in a cast iron skillet so crisps perfectly.
While sadly, I didn’t make a video for this one, I had to share considering how delicious it turned out. Hope you all enjoy as well!
Apple Pancake Recipe
2-3 Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
Powdered or cinnamon sugar, to serve
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel, core, and cut apples to small bite-size pieces. I used a Thin Apple Slicer & Corer then cut them into thirds. In total you should have about 3 cups of chopped apples.
In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger (if desired, I didn’t use) and set aside.
Cut the butter into chunks and place them in a deep cast iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the butter is melted.
Take the skillet out of the oven and sprinkle the 1/3 cup brown sugar over the melted butter then carefully spread the apples on top of the brown sugar and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the apples. Once complete, put the skillet back in the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar.
While that’s in the oven, in a medium bowl whisk the flour with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk (I used non-fat since that’s what I had), whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the milk, add in the vanilla and the eggs, one by one. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. By now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples.
Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples, then place back in the oven to ake for about 20 minutes, or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.
Once it’s done, I suggest carefully flipping the pancake out of the skillet onto a large cutting board to serve. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or more cinnamon sugar if desired (mostly for looks), then cut and enjoy!
Today’s my husband’s birthday and since he’s a HUGE fan of lemon cookies, I wanted to make a Lemon Bundt Cake for him this year. I found this recipe to make it in my Instant Pot, because this way I can make a smaller version (perfect for two), plus it’s honestly easier than baking with an oven! Plus, there are tons of cute and useful accessories for the Instant Pot, which turn it into a bigger, better kitchen gadget!
Here are some of the gadgets I used to make it happen:
Once you have these tools, it makes baking in the Instant Pot a breeze! Just check out my video on YouTube to see how easy it was.
Instant Pot Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice divided
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 cup water
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon half-and-half (or milk)
Spray a 6-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour,* baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, yogurt, butter, egg, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and lemon zest with a hand mixer until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with the hand mixer until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Lay a paper towel over the top of the pan (this will help catch excess moisture from the steam inside the pot), then cover the paper towel and pan loosely with aluminum foil.
Pour the water into the pressure cooker pot and place a steamer rack trivet in the bottom. Place the foil-covered Bundt pan on the trivet (or drop in with silicon sleeve)
Close and lock the pressure cooker lid, make sure the pressure/steam-release switch is set to sealing, and set the cooking time to 35 minutes at high/normal pressure. It will take 6 to 7 minutes for the pot to come to pressure before the cooking time begins.
After the pressure cooking time ends, allow the pressure to release from the pot naturally, about 30 minutes.
Carefully remove the Bundt pan from the pot and cool on a wire rack.
While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, half-and-half (I used Almond Milk), and remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to make the lemon glaze.
When cool enough to handle, invert the pan over a serving plate and remove the cake. Drizzle with the lemon glaze.
It’s my husband’s birthday week so we gettin’ crazy up in herre! I’m making two of his favorites from my recent baking extravaganza, this time with a twist.
First I’m miniaturizing the Pumpkin Banana Nut Muffins recipe, using these great silicon mini muffin molds I found on Amazon (similar here). I made the recipe, same as my original blog post, but since they’re smaller I kept a close eye on them while baking! The dough was a bigger batch than the mold, so I ended up making a few “overflow” muffins as well. I ended up only cooking them 20-minutes and they came out looking BEAUTIFUL!
The second recipe I made sadly didn’t turn out as beautiful. I really loved the Paleo Chocolate Avocado Cake I made last month, and I had some ripe avocados that I needed to use so it was perfect timing. The silicon molds I bought also included a donut mold (similar here), so I was excited to make my first donuts and thought this recipe would make perfect chocolate cake donuts.
MAYBE they would, if the recipe was more cakey vs. fudgy… or if I would have greased the molds before pouring the batter (oops). Anyways, turned out it was my first full-blown baking FAIL! They completely stuck to the mold and virtually disintegrated (into an incredible crumble mind you), when I removed them. Not to worry – I for sure will still be eating every last crumb! At least they looked pretty in the pink mold.
Anyways, check out my video on YouTube to see how much fun I had making them! Looking for the recipes? Here are the links to blog posts:
It’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means it’s time to be Patriotic people! What’s a better way to do that then by making a delicious & colorful “salad” to enjoy outside? Okay, I’ll be honest, calling it a salad is a total stretch. But the way I see it, if you think of the pretzels as the croutons, the cream cheese & cool whip filling as the dressing and then the strawberries in jello as the fruit… together it totally makes a fruit salad! This way you can tell yourself, you’re just enjoying some salad… NBD!
I made this delicious and incredibly easy treat because I saw Chrissy Teigen tweeting about how she got tired of baking and wanted to move on to jello molds. Once I saw one of her replies from a fan saying she made a Strawberry Pretzel Salad I was hooked and destined to make it for myself!
Watch the video on my YouTube below. I was in a pretty “goofy” mood this day, so I think you’ll especially enjoy this one.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad Recipe
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter (1.5 sticks)
1 cup & 3 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) container of whipped topping, thawed
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry flavored Jell-O®
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture onto cooled crust.
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer.
It’s official, I’ve reached a new level of quarantine craftiness… I’ve made my own candle! It was super easy to do, and pretty fun! After binge-watching Facebook videos (yes, I totally to that), I stumbled across a candle D.I.Y. video and was like “I can do that!” Who doesn’t love a good candle, am I right? Plus I already have a lot of essential oils, so I figured it’s the perfect time to give it a go!
You’ll need to either purchase a D.I.Y. Candle Kit, or if you’re like me and have some supplies already, then here’s a list of the essentials you’ll need to make your own candles:
Mold, Container or Jar (There are lots online, or use Mason Jars)
Once you have everything, it’s super easy to make! You melt your wax down, add in your colors and scents, then set it in your mold or jars to harden. It will take some trial/error to figure out the right amount of scent to make it rival a $70 candle, but I’m excited to keep trying… next I’m going to try different shapes, colors, etc. What do you think I should make?
I’ve always felt connected with Oprah, both of us have a vast love of bread in our lives! Well now, I’ve officially started baking my own… and guess what? It was super easy!
I made this delicious No Knead Artisan Bread recipe, and it was so easy to do, it’s approved for every amateur (probably kids too)! The thing about making bread is, you have to have patience, since it involves a lot of resting and rising time. However, you do get the benefit of having your home filled with the sweet, sweet smell of successfully delicious bread!
Watch my video on YouTube to see just how easy it was.
No Knead Artisan Bread Recipe:
3 cup – warm water
2 packets of yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
additional flour for dusting
Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a 5 quart bowl. Stir to mix. Add all of the flour at once and mix with a spoon until the dough is wet and sticky with no dry patches. Cover with plastic wrap, but do not seal airtight. Let it rise for about 2 hours at room temperature.
To make a loaf, sprinkle some flour onto the surface of the dough. Scoop up a handful of dough about the size of a grapefruit. Rub the dough with a layer of flour while gently stretching the top around to tuck the sides into the bottom to form a round, smooth loaf. Put the loaf on a cutting board dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Let it rise, uncovered, for between 30-90 minutes.
Dust the loaf liberally with flour. Slash the top with a cross or three lines with a sharp knife and slide it the oven, preheated to 450°F. Carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray or metal pan at bottom of the oven and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the loaf feels light and hollow.
Matcha is just EVERYWHERE today isn’t it? You know something has gone mainstream, when it makes its way to Duncan Donuts! I have to admit, I jumped on the bandwagon about a year ago when I discovered a Matcha Latte with Oat Milk – to DIE for!
Matcha comes in a powder (here’s what I bought on Amazon), so it’s easy to make yourself at home, and makes it great for baking too, which is exactly what I did once I found this recipe for Green Tea Biscotti Cookies. I’m not going to lie, as you’ll see in the video, I was expecting this to be a total failure. I’ve never made Biscotti cookies before, and they require baking in stages and the dough itself is as dry as you’d think based on the cookie. Well I got lucky this day and the cookie crumbled in my favor!
Watch the video on my YouTube below. And no… sadly this video is NOT Sponsored by KitchenAid, I’m just that big of a fan of my stand mixer.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder, and salt. Slowly mix into the butter mixture until just combined. Fold in the slivered almonds.
On the prepared baking sheet, form the dough into a 12 inch long log, about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches wide.
Beat one additional egg in a small bowl to make egg wash and brush over the top of the log of dough. Sprinkle with the raw or granulated sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven until firm and golden on the bottom, 22-25 minutes. Allow to cool until able to be handled.
Reduce oven temperature to 275˚F. Use a serrated knife to cut the log on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the slices back on the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until crisp, 15-20 minutes. Flip the cookies to the other side and continue to bake until other side is crisp, another 15-20 minutes.
Allow to cool to room temperature before enjoying or storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.