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Filtering by Tag: Desserts

Banana S'mores

Tabitha Helms

It hit me today. You know, that little nudge from somewhere deep inside that says, "It's time for chocolate." You try to push the thought away knowing your waistline certainly doesn't need anything. But then the big, angry, PMS voice comes in loud and clear, "GIVE ME CHOCOLATE NOW!" So of course, you hop right up and oblige. We don't mess with PMS around here. ;) Trying to be somewhat "good" about giving in so easily to this craving, I decided I was going to add some fruit to the mix. I'm sure you've seen these floating around on Pinterest. They were super easy, quick, and hit the spot for that little craving of mine.

Banana Smores_1

Ingredients: 2 large marshmallows, cut in 8ths 1/8 c mini chocolate chips 1 ripe banana, peeled

Directions: Slice open the banana, try to leave it in tact on the bottom; don't cut all the way through. If you do, it's not that big of a deal. Open it up, sprinkle it with your marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Banana Smores_2

Wrap it up in foil and bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes or until chocolate is melted and marshmallows are gooey.

Banana Smores_3

Open it up, and eat it with a spoon!

Banana Smores_4


Note:  The ends of my banana were a little overdone and didn't taste very good. If the banana is a darker shade than the rest, then it's probably best not to eat that spot.  ;)

Eggless Cookie Dough

Tabitha Helms

My sis and I were craving chocolate this evening but we didn't want to mess with a whole ordeal. Mom mentioned we had chocolate chips in the pantry, and I remembered I had seen a recipe for eggless cookie dough on Pinterest. It was simple, quick, and hit the spot for our chocolate craving! I personally suggest halving this recipe because you and I both know that you will be sorely tempted to eat the whole thing, and this is really more than 1 serving. ;)


Directions: Mix together

3/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c butter, softened

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 c milk (I used nonfat, but I think any would work fine)

1 c flour

Pinch salt

1/2 c chocolate chips

We dipped ours in pretzels for a nice salty contrast. Delightful!

Rainbow Cupcakes

Tabitha Helms

882627_10151555363675390_749646176_o Sometimes, the school year is laid out such that multiple holidays/celebrations happen at once. When that happens you have to double up and teach multiple things at once. Our St. Patrick's Day party landed on a scheduled science day. So I decided to do two in one. We did the science of mixing colors and made rainbow cupcakes to eat for St. Patrick's Day.

It was a bit of a time crunch to do in the classroom. Kindergartners aren't the most patient people in the world. So it was trying for them to have to wait for the cupcakes to cook and cool and get frosted. We barely had time to eat them.

It was a fun project though--super easy. You just mix up a regular batch of white cake mix and separate it into different bowls to mix in food coloring. Gel food coloring gives darker, more vibrant colors if you prefer that. We used regular, liquid food coloring. After mixing in your desired coloring, you either scoop a little from each bowl into muffin cups or combine it all in a cake pan and cook at the desired temperature/time for your type of baked good.

I finished mine off with frosting, white marshmallows for clouds, and rainbow sour candy from Sprouts' bulk foods section for a rainbow. They were a major sugar rush, haha. But the kids of course loved them.


Strawberry Shortcake Bites

Tabitha Helms

It’s a new school year and every month we have teacher potlucks. The theme for this month’s potluck is “salads,” but I saw there was a space for desserts, so I scratched out the potato salad I had planned to bring and decided on a sweet treat considering Mom was reminding me I needed to use up the strawberries that I had forgotten were in my fridge. I found this recipe on (of course). I’ve tried it the way that I saw it made on there–on big skewers with lots of strawberries and angel food cake. It was delish. But for a potluck, I thought I’d try it in a smaller size. Here’s what I came up with: Ingredients:

1 cup milk chocolate meltables

2 cups strawberries, halved

1 six pack package angel food cake minis, but in 8ths

1 box bamboo party forks


Easter Cakes

Tabitha Helms

It’s been a little while since I’ve tried cooking something new. No time for that with finishing up my graduate program and being on the job hunt. Life is crazy busy. I have been very involved at church lately though, and we’re having an Easter carnival this weekend. I signed up to bake cakes for the cake walk. I have a confession. I have a thing for cute, kid cakes. You know the ones I’m talking about–the ones that you can’t help but giggle at the sheer cuteness and creativity involved, the kind that kids ooh and aah over when they see it. I enjoy these cakes the best. I want to make people smile. So, with that thought in mind, I set about making a couple awesome creations. Due to my time shortage, I used a boxed cake mix. I poured half of the mix into an 8″ wide circle pan and the rest into a dozen muffin cups.  They came out beautifully. I stuck the circle cake in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to work with, and left the cupcakes out to cool.

The circle cake was taken out of the freezer and cut as follows:

The pieces were stuck together with frosting and extra frosting was put on each side of the bunny to make it look fatter. I doused the whole thing in shredded coconut, stuck in a few jelly beans for the nose and eyes, sprinkled green food colored, shredded coconut around it and got the cutest, fuzziest looking bunny you’ve ever seen.

The next job was the cupcakes.

First, I toasted a panful of shredded coconut for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from burning.

I turned the cupcakes upside down.

I spread a light coating of yellow frosting around the edges and piled some extra high on the top (which was really the bottom).

Then I scooped toasted coconut around the edges and top to stick to the frosting.

To finish them off, I put hot tamale candies for feet and the little cockscomb on top of their heads. I put sixlets in a squirt of frosting for the eyes, and used a toasted almond for the beak. Cute as can be!

Better than Julian Apple Pie

Tabitha Helms

Thanksgiving. The very word emulates savory aromas of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the devious scent of homemade pies. I don’t know how your family does Thanksgiving, but mine is mostly from scratch and we always have a gazillion homemade pies. I had a few jobs this year–many of them being combined efforts.  The ones I stake my claim on however are the rolls, which I have made previously and are incredibly simple (You can let the dough rise in the fridge the night before, then stick them in the muffin pans in the sun until you’re ready to throw them in the oven. Packaged rolls don’t even come close to the warm, softly browned rolls fresh out of the oven. A brilliant idea to make them on behalf of my mom!) and I also claim the apple pie with a little help from mom whose job was the dough for all the pies.

I’ve made this pie before, but this one turned out absolutely incredible. It was my favorite by far out of the pumpkin, bumbleberry, and pecan pies that were out that evening. Even my mom who usually doesn’t care for apple claimed it to be better than Julian’s apple pies, with hearty agreement from my dad. Baking pies from scratch is a lot of work, but it is a million times better than the boxed kind. You will never enjoy a boxed pie or store-made pie as much as you will a homemade one. Just sayin’.


  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup  cooking oil
  • 5 T  cold water


1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Pour oil and water into a measuring cup (do not stir); add all at once to flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into 2 balls; flatten slightly with your hands.

2. Cut waxed paper into four 12-inch squares. Place each ball of dough between 2 squares of paper. Roll each ball of dough into a circle to edges of paper. (Dampen work surface with a little water to prevent paper from slipping.)

3. Peel off top papers and fit 1 piece of dough, paper side up, into a 9-inch pie plate. Reserve one portion for use as a top crust. Remove paper.


  • 6 cups  thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  •  Dash  ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon  butter or margarine


1. In a large mixing bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Combine granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to apples and toss until apples are coated. Set apple mixture aside.

2. Prepare Pastry for Double-Crust Pie. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball of dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter or margarine. Trim pastry even with pie plate. For top crust, roll out remaining dough. Cut design in top crust for ventilation. Place top crust on the filling. Seal and flute the edge.

4. Line cookie sheet with foil and place pie on it for overspill. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


This year my fiancé and I decided to do a final year of separate Thanksgivings, so I sent along an apple pie for his family to enjoy. I must say it turned out so beautifully that I had to post a picture for you. I made the top using a leaf-shaped cookie cutter and a knife to score the designs on the leaves. Layer the dough over the top. Brush the top with cinnamon for a beautiful, dusty brown coat on the top.

Ready to go in the oven

Hot and ready to eat!

Blackberry Cornmeal Cupcakes

Tabitha Helms

My brother and his (then) fiancé got me a couple fabulous books for a college graduation gift. One of them was Martha Stewart’s cupcake book. The recipes all sound so amazing! I just want to have a cupcake party and make a million different kinds. My first try was these blackberry cornmeal cupcakes. We had some blackberries in the fridge and cornmeal made it sound a little more healthier….so like a muffin, right? What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake anyway? But these cupcakes were delicious. Just the perfect amount of sweetness. Not overdone like most frosting coated cakes. Ingredients: 3/4 c. flour 1/4 c. yellow cornmeal 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 c. sugar 1/4 c. buttermilk (or 1/4 c. milk w/ 1/4 T. white vinegar or lemon juice, let stand 5 min.) 1 eggs 3-1/2 T. butter, melted and cooled 16 blackberries

Directions: Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Pour over flour mixture. Whisk to combine. Don’t over mix. Fill each lined cup with 1/4 c. batter. Top batter with 2 blackberries in each cup. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 T. sugar. Bake, rotating tins halfway through for 20-25 minutes or until browned on top. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are baked but will keep up to 2 days at room temp in an airtight container. Makes 8 cupcakes

Gum Paste

Tabitha Helms

First news first: my best friend is engaged! Whoohoo!! So excited for both of them. Very excited that I no longer have to lie and keep secrets too. That was rather stressful. ‘ At the beginning of this week plans for an engagement party were put into action and I was enlisted to bake the cake! I did some research to find the perfect one. Google searches of “proposal cakes,” “engagement cakes,” and “congratulations cakes” flooded my search engine to no avail. I couldn’t even find a wedding cake topper of a guy down on one knee with a ring. Really? This wasn’t supposed to be that hard! The only one I could find was something along these lines:

I had never used fondant before and I needed to feed 20ish people, so this idea was way out. I managed to find a regular birthday cake that looked like a present (something I’ve done before), but instead of candy, it used gum paste for the ribbon and polka dots.

Having been a faithful viewer of cake decorating shows the past year or so, I decided it was time to move up in my baking abilities and attempt the gum paste. I watched some how to videos, read some instructions from professionals, double checked the container’s directions and gave it my best shot.

Overall, I was very impressed with myself. My arms got very tired from kneading the gum paste for so long and working in the yellow food color. But it did turn out rather well. Pat on the back for me, and encouragement for you–if a non professional like me can make it work, I bet you can too!

Yellow cake – Nicole’s favorite!

Chocolate frosting, with piping bag bottom edge

Gum paste shapes set out to dry overnight

1st step in bow assembly

2nd step, add the loops

3rd step, add the knot to the center

Piping bag with writing tip

The finished product!

Layer Cakes

Tabitha Helms

Yesterday was Nicole’s birthday. Apparently she only likes yellow cake with chocolate frosting. So I put my creativity to the test and whipped up a three layer cake. Previously I had only made a two layer cake where the layers were the same size. My aunt bakes quite a bit and had a bunch of different sized pans so I got ready for a new adventure.

Ingredients: 1 box yellow cake mix milk, oil, and eggs called for on the box 1 can chocolate frosting 1/2 T milk fun sprinkles birthday candles butter knife straight edge knife 7-1/2″ round cake pan 5″ round cake pan 3″ round cake pan

Directions: Make cake mix as directed on box. Spray pans with nonstick spray and dust with flour. Pour to same height in each pan. Each sized pan takes different times to finish baking. The 3″ pan was around 20 minutes. The other two weren’t long after that. Remove from oven and let cool. Carefully flip upside down and remove from pans when cooled. Sometimes you can leave them upside down on a cookie rack and leave them until they come out themselves. I had to shake mine a bit after cutting around the edge with a butter knife.

Use a straight edged to level the tops of each cake.

Add 1/2 T of milk to the can of frosting and stir well. This makes it easier to get a smooth frost without cake crumbs in it. Put the largest cake on the plate it will be served on and frost.

Stack the middle cake on top and frost. Use extra frosting to smooth one cake into the next. Do the same with the top layer. Use the butter knife that you used to frost the cake and dip in water. Smooth the frosting with the watered knife. Repeat when the frosting begins to stick to the knife. This technique will give the cake a glossy look. Add fun sprinkles to the cake, stick in some birthday candles (22 for my cake!) and you’re ready to go! Store in the refrigerator.

After dripping wax all over to light the candles…

Smiles from the birthday girl!

Major lung power needed for all those candles!

Excitement through the smoky haze at having blown them all out at once!


Red Velvet Cupcakes

Tabitha Helms

Ever since having one of Claim Jumper’s red velvet cupcakes when given one from my site supervisor at work last year, I have wanted to make the attempt at trying a red velvet recipe. I discovered Joy of Baking recently and decided to give her Red Velvet Cake a whirl. I decided to make mini cupcakes of them instead because I’m bringing them to small group and it’s a known fact that people are more likely to eat sweets when they’re miniature. :) I recruited my best friend to help me with these delightful treats.


2 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup applesauce

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (can make by using 1 T vinegar and filling it up to 1 c of milk and let it sit 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream cheese frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the applesauce, sugar, and eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Fill miniature muffin pans sprayed with non-stick spray with the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Add frosting and sprinkles for a delectable mini treat!

Nicole in action!
Swirly frostingness.
The talented bakers!
Sprinkle goodness
Took a million of these to get just the right angle. haha

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Tabitha Helms

Growing up one of my favorite things to do was decorate sugar cookies cut in festive shapes for each different holidays. Pumpkins, shamrocks, hearts, Christmas trees, etc. I haven’t done it in a while apart from Christmas but was in the mood to let my creative juices flow for Valentines Day this year. I tried a sugar cookie recipe from Martha Stewart and attempted to use royal icing with “flooding” techniques. It was so fun! I felt so creative and actually didn’t mind cleaning up the ridiculous mess I created for myself.


* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk

* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies, optional (1 box of powdered sugar, beat in 2 egg whites, add 1/8 cup of water.)


1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.

2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

5. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional. The Icing listed under ingredients is for the outlining of each cookie. To fill the cookie and flood the center, add more water–1/4 cup or so, then drizzle in center with spoon. Tip the cookie or use the spoon to make the wetter icing reach the edges. To do a swirl, drizzle some more of the wet icing, dyed with food coloring on top of the already flooded cookie. Use a toothpick and move around in the wet icing on the cookie to create the swirls.

Making a mess in the kitchen

Sprinkle Cookies

Frosted Cookies

Swirled Frosting

Cheesecake Cookie Cups

Tabitha Helms

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s cheesecake that’s a cinch to make and has your guests oohing and ahhing with delight. I’m a firm believer that you can’t go wrong with cheesecake, and these are a nice muffin size for individual helpings. I don’t know about you, but my waistline seems to be much more willing to accept a piece of cheesecake that’s only as big as a flat-topped muffin. I found this from Very Best Baking years ago and have used it over and over again since then.


1 (16.5 oz) package of refrigerated cookie dough, log shaped

2 (8 oz) packages of reduced fat cream cheese

1 (14 oz) can reduced fat, sweetened, condensed milk

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling


PREHEAT oven to 325° F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups. Place one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup.

BEAT cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Pour about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.

BAKE for additional 15 to 18 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Top each with level tablespoon of pie filling. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Holiday Cake Bon Bons

Tabitha Helms

This year’s Christmas, baking project ended with a slightly burnt finger and chocolate on everything, but don’t let that alarm you. They turned out quite adorably; they were so fun to spruce up in some oragami boxes and see through paper and ribbons! Ingredients:

1 box of cake mix

1 container of frosting

1 bag of candy meltables

Optional decorations (sprinkles, candy canes, etc.)


Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with baking spray with flour. Prepare cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Pour into pan. Bake 30-33 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, crumble the warm cake; stir in the frosting until well blended. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Shape into balls. (If mixture is too sticky, refrigerate until firm enough to shape.) Freeze 30 minutes. Melt the candy meltables in double broiler or in the microwave according to package directions. Dip the balls, one at a time, in candy coating using a wooden skewer or fork to hold them. Place on aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet. Decorate as desired. Refrigerate cake balls about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight container.

The nice things about these is you can do any flavor you want and decorate them however you want! It definitely gets messy with the shaping into round balls and coating in candy….I’ve never been very good at that. I had chocolate on the dishtowel, my jeans, my neck, the burner knob, the cabinets, the oven, you get the picture. I found some cute mini muffin cups with snowmen on them to put the candies in.