#BundtBakers: Mint

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Let the countdown begin! We are ONE WEEK away from Christmas people! To celebrate I have a beautiful bundt for #BundtBakers today. #BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. This month’s theme is mint and our happy host is Laura of The Spiced Life.

Because it is only festive, I chose peppermint. The flavor of the popular holiday treat – the candy cane! And to dress it up, I used my fabulous star bundt pan. Who says stars are only fitting for Independence Day?!

This bundt is coming with me tonight to an ornament exchange party. Which means I didn’t bake this beauty until yesterday. That is the latest I’ve ever baked my bundt! As you know, the month I hosted (October’s caramel theme) I was cutting it close thanks to a tactical error in reading calendars. At least this time my “procrastination” had a purpose.

candy cane bundt cakeAnd of course, I can’t bring something to a party without first tasting it myself. So I can tell you that this cake tastes exactly like a candy cane. And because I just had to photograph the inside of this cake, I can confidently take it to the party knowing that it even looks like a candy cane!

Candy Cane Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • red food coloring
  • 3/4 C white chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3/4 C powdered sugar
  • 2 candy canes, crushed (optional)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a bundt pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in both extracts.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Mix in 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat with another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the last of the buttermilk, and ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
  5. Put 2 C of the batter into a separate bowl and color with food coloring.
  6. Pour 1/2 of the white batter into the bundt pan, top with the red batter, and finish with the rest of the white batter.
  7. Bake 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out cleanly. Allow cake to cool in bundt pan before removing to a cooling rack.
  8. Make the glaze: In a double boiler, melt white chocolate with heavy cream. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Glaze cake. Top cake with crushed candy canes, if desired.

*This recipe is adapted from Anna at http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com/2013/12/21/peppermint-candy-cane-bundt-cake-recipe/*

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If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. All recipes and photographs can be found on our individual blogs, on our Pinterest board, and the #bundtbakers homepage.

And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

Mint Chocolate Truffle Bundt from Stacy at Food Lust People Love

Creme de menthe butter bundt from Jane at Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Double Mint Mountain Bundt Cake from Laura at Baking in Pyjamas

Bundt cake with chocolate glaze and mint frosting from Aisha at La cocina de Aisha

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake from Rebekah at Making Miracles

Peppermint Cappuccino Cake from Renee at Magnolia Days

Mini Minty Bundt Cakes from Linda at Brunch with Joy

Fudgy Peppermint Bundt from Wendy at A Day in the LIfe on the Farm

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake from Andrea at Adventures In All Things Food

Chocolate bundt cake with peppermint dark chocolate ganache from Tux at Brooklyn Homemaker

Candy Cane Chocolate Bundt Cake from Cassie at Cassie’s Kitchen

Chocolate Mint Bundt Cake from Mara at Box of Stolen Socks

Double Chocolate and Mint Cheesecake Bundt Cake from Samantha at Un Mordisco Un Pecado

Peppermint Mocha Pound Cake Bundt from Tanya at DessertStalking Blog

Peppermint Candy Cane Bundt Cake from Mara at I love Bundt Cakes

Candy Cane Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake from Patricia at Patty’s Cake

Candy Cane Bundt Cake w/a Chocolate Ganache Drizzle from Teri at The Freshman Cook

Peppermint Whipped Cream Pound Cake with Shaved Mint Chocolate from Laura at The Spiced Life

Peppermint Patty Bundt Cake from Julie at Eat, Drink, Be Mighty

Peppermint Candy Bundt from Margaret at Tea and Scones

Mint Tea Mini Bundts from Kelly at Passion Kneaded

Candy Cane Cup Bundt Cake from Lauren at From Gate to Plate

Orange and Mint Bundt bread from Jelena at A Kingdom For a Cake

SRC: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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With the holidays the Secret Recipe Club takes a break the last two Mondays of December and first two Mondays of January. But that didn’t stop 60 of us from partaking in a virtual cookie swap – SRC style. That means we kept to our “secret santa” style assignments but mixed up the groups and limited recipe selection to cookies only! As luck of the draw would have it, I was assigned a blog I’ve already had for a normal SRC reveal day – The More Than Occasional Baker.

During my August post we were busy with just having moved from Florida to Ohio and I followed her tutorial for homemade vanilla extract. And now I get to put it to use! (I mean, I’ve been using it, it’s already half gone!) But I get to use it in one of her recipes!

As can be expected from the more than occasional baker Ros, there were plenty of cookie recipes to pick from. Her Double Chocolate Cookies look addicting and her Leftover Frosting Cookies intriguing. I ultimately decided to go with her Oat and Cranberry Cookies. (I did substitute raisins as that’s what I had in the pantry.)

I had to convert the ingredient list and grew nervous when the mixture I was looking at in my stand mixer resembled granola. I frantically looked back over the recipe and realized I forgot the eggs! I don’t recommend adding eggs last, but luckily the cookies still turned out! I got 3 dozen large cookies from this recipe.

 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 C old fashioned oats
  • 1 C raisins

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with both sugars. When fluffy, add eggs one at at time until incorporated.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add to wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until combined.
  4. Mix in the oats and raisins.
  5. Spoon dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. (Because of my egg mishap I had to press the dough together with my hands before placing on cookie sheet.) Bake 15 minutes, until golden. Let cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from Ros at http://themorethanoccasionalbaker.blogspot.com/2011/11/oat-and-cranberry-cookie.html *

 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

To see the other bloggers who participated in the Secret Recipe Club Cookie Carnival this month click here: 

Chicharrones de Pollo

Today is my dad’s birthday! And that means he gets to be front and center on the blog today.

I have no shame in admitting that I am a Daddy’s Girl. Just talking to my dad on the phone can make me homesick. I could pull out every positive adjective from the dictionary to describe my father. He is a very successful man who never once puts family second behind work. He travels a lot for his job and growing up we really only saw him on the weekends, but I never felt deserted. My dad knows how much I appreciate everything he has done for our family, I tell him in every Father’s Day and Birthday card. Yes, I’m one of those softies who just can’t buy the funny card – no matter how fitting.

Dad

Wedding photography by Cher Hanna

My dad’s birthday dinner is typically pierogi. It’s the test batch before Christmas Eve. With pierogi already on the blog Dad got free reign on the recipe I should post today. He asked for Chicharrones de pollo. Of course I couldn’t say no.

My father’s family is from the Dominican Republic, my dad was the first born in the states. So really this was a perfect dish to feature today. I don’t make Dominican food nor have I ever really eaten it. Dominican food is very similar to Cuban and Puerto Rican cuisine. I didn’t know if he had a recipe in mind and when I asked he pointed me in the direction of my aunt to get his mom’s recipe. But, of course my grandmother didn’t write down the recipe! So I found a couple versions of this classic Dominican dish and followed my aunt’s advice. I looked at the ratios of the ingredients in the marinade to adjust the quantity and added some seasonings. My aunt uses Ranchero Sazon de Criollo in her recipe but I don’t have that Dominican all-purpose seasoning on hand, so I had to compromise. I spent hours trying to find the ingredient list for this spice blend but had zero luck. Both of the recipes I used for inspiration put paprika in the flour – a step my aunt doesn’t do. But, because I don’t have Ranchero Sazon de Criollo I figured it’d help give it some more of the flavors I was missing.

Never having eaten Chicharrones de Pollo (at least that I’m aware of) I don’t know if my flavors were right, but I do know they were delicious. And funnily enough, the smell of the marinade made me think of my grandmother, the aroma was very comforting, so I knew I was at least on a good path. This fried chicken has a thin, perfectly crispy coating and a very bright flavor. I will definitely be looking for more Dominican recipes to add to my repertoire. I served the chicharrones with rice and beans.

Chicharrones de Pollo

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 tbsp lime juice (100 mL, between 1/3 – 1/2 C)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt, divided use
  • 1 1/4 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Place in a plastic bag with the cubed chicken. Let marinate overnight.
  2. Fill a high sided skillet with 2-3″ vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Test oil temperature by tossing in a pinch of flour, if it sizzles you’re good to go!
  3. In a shallow bowl mix flour, paprika, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  4. Gently shake excess marinade off chicken and toss in flour mixture. Knock off excess flour.
  5. Fry chicken in hot oil in batches of 10-12 pieces for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook another 1-2 minutes, until nuggets are golden brown. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

chicharrones de pollo

And I can’t write a post about my father without using his tag line: Do your best.

DIY Design Board

Today I am going to show you how you can make your very own design board. This simple DIY only takes minutes to do and is very cost effective. Sure, you could use a cork board, but finding one large enough for quilting can cost as much as $20 per square foot!

In Florida my mother-in-law created a temporary design board for me by simply hanging some flannel on the wall. She sewed some lightweight plastic rings at the top of the fabric and hung them on the wall. This design board worked great! But the version I have now is more multi-purpose-friendly and still temporary. I can now stick pins into it, allowing me to pin up papers or even piles of fabric squares. (The blocks below are part of Old Glory, or will be if I ever finish it!)

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DIY design boardHere’s what you need:

  • Foam board insulation, cut to desired wall size
  • Flannel fabric, cut to foam board size plus 3″ overhang on all four sides (remember, you’ll want a neutral color so it won’t clash with your projects)
  • Stapler*
  • Duct tape*
  • Command strips (optional)

*If you have a staple gun you won’t need the duct tape

Here’s what you do:

  1. Lay your flannel on a flat surface and place your foam board insulation in the center of it, words up.
  2. Tightly fold the flannel around the board and staple in place. Reinforce with duct tape.
  3. To hang on the wall use command strips for a temporary design board, or nail in place.

DIY design board

Bacon and Corn Stuffed Shells

The pantry and fridge in our home has been pretty empty since Thanksgiving. Before the holiday the only food items on the shopping list were those required for my Thanksgiving contributions. And for the cookies that needed to be made as soon as we returned. I provided 107 cookies for a Cookie Drive for the local unaccompanied airmen who will be spending the holidays without their families. The cookies were due on the 3rd so December 1st and 2nd was Operation Cookie in my kitchen. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing the recipes later this month!

I’ve also been slowed down with a wonderful December cold – which I have unfortunately passed on to my 5 month old. He’s taking it like a champ though and it’s not slowing him down.

And to top it all off my car’s check engine light came on before Thanksgiving and is finally awaiting its “doctor appointment”. Which means I have no means of going to the grocery store. I don’t think Sparrow appreciates the cold.

So I found myself brainstorming what I could possibly do with whatever I had in the fridge. I had some bacon, I had my staple of corn in the freezer, and I always have onions, there was some ricotta cheese left over from the twice baked sweet potatoes, and I had plenty of heavy cream. I also thought I had some jumbo pasta shells so that’s the direction I went. I still had to have Stuart hit the grocery store for a couple finishing ingredients (like more jumbo pasta shells, 7 wasn’t going to cut it, and Parmesan cheese) along with groceries for the rest of the week.

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This recipe, I am proud to say, is a Lauren original. And one that turned out quite well, if I say so myself! Loaded with cheese and cream it doesn’t exactly fit on a diet plan, but it’s a wonderful comfort food dish. This filling would also be great in ravioli for a quicker meal. Serve these shells with a side salad for a complete meal. The filling stuffed 14 shells perfectly, and we had 2 left over. So I’d say it feeds 2-3.

Bacon and Corn Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips center cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C chicken stock (or white wine if you have it)
  • 1 1/3 C heavy cream
  • 14 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 C whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 C frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 C + 1/3 C shredded Parmesan cheese, divided use
  • 1 egg, beaten

Steps:

  1. Cook bacon in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When crispy, remove to a paper towel lined plate. Saute onion in bacon grease until translucent. Season with S+P. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 60 seconds. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine), scrapping up delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a bubble and let reduce, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the heavy cream, whisking. Reduce the heat and let simmer 7-10 minutes, until reduced. Stir occasionally to prevent from burning.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Cook pasta shells according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  4. Prepare the filling: In a bowl combine ricotta, corn, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and cooked bacon. Season to taste with S+P. Stir in 1 egg.
  5. Spoon a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Spoon the filling into the shells when cool enough to handle and place in the casserole dish. Top shells with sauce, reserving 1/2 C for serving and/or leftovers.
  6. Bake shells for 20 minutes. Top with remaining Paremsan and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

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Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Happy Cupcake Day everyone!

Okay, so it’s not REALLY cupcake day.

That’s NEXT Monday.

But 25 other bloggers and I are celebrating a week early.

Coleen of The Redhead Baker set this party up and I’m happy to have found this group. If only for the excuse to make some cupcakes. (Cupcakes I sent to Stuart’s Crossfit gym for their monthly potluck. Eh, they’ve burned enough calories to not feel guilty about eating a cupcake or three, right?)  I put one of these cupcakes in Stuart’s lunch and the first words out of his mouth when he got home were “That cupcake might be the best thing you’ve ever baked!”

I decided to stay with the season we’re still technically in – Fall – and make Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting. This sweet dessert is a play on the beloved sweet potato casserole that honestly might as well be placed at the dessert table during Thanksgiving. As a bonus, if you’re still in that pumpkin craze feel free to swap the sweet potato for pumpkin, I’m sure it’d be equally delicious.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 C mashed cooked sweet potato
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 container (7.5 oz) marshmallow cream
  • 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 15 cupcake molds with cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sweet potato, butter, and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in buttermilk, vanilla extract, and canola oil.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add to wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until combined.
  4. Fill cupcake molds with batter. Bake 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Allow cupcakes to rest in mold for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  5. Make frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with marshmallow cream until combined. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.
  6. When cupcakes have cooled, frost with the marshmallow frosting.

*This recipe is modified from Erin at http://www.imperialsugar.com/recipes/desserts/cupcakes/Sweet-Potato-Cupcakes-with-Marshmallow-Frosting*

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Check out all of these other awesome cupcakes:

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes by The Redhead Baker

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes by The Cooking Actress

Vanilla Candy Cane Cupcakes by Noshing With The Nolands

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Nerds Cupcakes by Amy’s Confectionery Adventures

Vegan Midori Melon Cupcakes by NinjaBaker

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes with Candied Butter Pecan Frosting by From Gate to Plate

Dark Chocolate Rum Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream by Lemony Thyme

Gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting by Eva Bakes

Cranberry Apple Cupcakes by The Pajama Chef

Almond Joy Cupcakes by Our Eating Habits

Buttered Rum Cupcakes by Adventures in All Things Food

Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Cone Head Cupcakes with Ice Cream Frosting by The Spiffy Cookie

Candied Buddha’s Hand-Eggnog Cupcakes by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Almond Joy Cupcakes by Food Lust People Love

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting for 2 by Kate’s Recipe Box

Cranberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream by Cheese Curd In Paradise

Peppermint Patty Cupcakes by Comfortably Domestic

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Biscoff Marshmallow Buttercream by Making Miracles

Chocolate Cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting by {i love} my disorganized life

Lemon Cupcakes by Miss Information

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes by Kosher Kitchen

Peppermint Cream Cookie Cupcakes by Take a Bite out of Boca

Cupcake Christmas Wreath by Lick the Spoon

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Did you know that your slow cooker can be used for more than just pulled pork, Chinese take-out at home, and tailgating cheese dips? It can also be used to have warm and comforting beverages ready for you after an evening in the cold.

For Thanksgiving we went to Alabama to spend the holiday weekend with my in-laws. On Black Friday we had intended to go walking through a Christmas light display downtown. Because it was a chilly night my mother-in-law whipped up a batch of hot chocolate so we could warm up when we returned.

We never did go check out the lights, though. We got wrapped up in a very competitive game of Harry Potter Uno. (Side note: Can you believe this deck of cards is now over $60!?)

But we did still get to enjoy some home made hot chocolate!

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 6 C milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 2/3 C hot water

Steps:

  1. Place condensed milk, heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in slow cooker.
  2. In a large mug or measuring glass, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Cook on LOW 3 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from Melissa at http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2013/12/14/slow-cooker-hot-cocoa/*

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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