Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Iced Gingerbread Cookies

There is a brand of store-bought iced gingerbread cookies that I just can't get enough of - they're soft, chewy and a little spicy, and I'm completely addicted to them!

I decided to see if I could get similar results at home, and I did!  Even better, I used a boxed gingerbread cake mix.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Baking with Bella - Gingerbread House!

My friend's daughter, Bella, came over today to decorate a gingerbread house with me, and we had such a good time!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baked Goods as Holiday Presents

I think giving baked goods as holiday presents to friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. is such a good idea!  It shows the recipient that you cared enough to make something for them.

You can go all out, and do everything from scratch, but if that idea is overwhelming, here's the easy method:

Holiday Gift Ideas for Bakers - Under $20!

The holidays are fast approaching, so I thought I would share some great gift ideas for any bakers you may know - and they are all under $20!

1.  Snowflake measuring cups for $11.99 - you can buy here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

I wanted to make white fondant snowflakes for cupcake toppers, but I couldn't figure out how to make them as small and delicate as I wanted. Then I remembered my Martha Stewart snowflake paper cutter (you can buy it from Amazon), and wondered if I could make it work - I did, and they're gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Peppermint Bark

Christmas snuck up on me this year a little…it feels like Thanksgiving was just a few days ago!

I have just the treat that will put you in the holiday spirit - marbled peppermint bark.  Mmmm…sweet and minty and crunchy.  So good!

Here's how you make it:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: Pillsbury Hot Roll mix

I saw a box of Pillsbury Hot Roll mix at the grocery store, and thought that I would try it, and let you all know what I thought of it.  I made the cinnamon roll recipe, found on the side of the box.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Bread!

Happy Thanksgiving to my amazing readers!  Hope you have a great day celebrating with friends and family.  I'm headed to my dad's farm in Virginia to spend it with my family, and I can't wait!

This amazing pumpkin bread is from an old family recipe called "Maine Pumpkin Bread."  I'm not sure what makes it from Maine, but this bread is lusciously tender and flavorful!

Although it has quite a few ingredients, you just mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls and then combine them - super easy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brownie S'mores Parfait

As I've mentioned here before, I spent my summers in Maine when I was young.  The best place for a cool treat was the local Dairy Queen, where I always ordered the Peanut Buster Parfait. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce and peanuts layered together...it was pure bliss!

I made brownies the other night, and had the idea of making a s'mores parfait - let me tell you, this dessert is CRAZY good!!!

Here's how to make it:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Homemade Granola

I'm on a big yogurt kick lately, and I love to make a mix of Greek yogurt, honey and granola.  I haven't found a granola mix that I love, so I decided to make my own!

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can easily adapt it to suit your cravings by substituting any nut or dried fruit that you want...almonds, pecans, apricots, dried cherries, etc.  Here's how I made it:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Baked Red Velvet Doughnuts

Did you know that today is National Doughnut Day?  In honor of this day, I decided to make these fun red velvet doughnuts...and you won't have to wait long to eat these cute treats, because they're made from a mix!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Cupcakes

Just some quick decorating ideas for Halloween cupcakes:

The spiderwebs are made by piping white frosting or gel in circles on chocolate frosting.  (I used Wilton Sparkle Gel - some grocery stores carry it.):

Then you drag a toothpick from the center out, all around the top, and you have a spiderweb!

For the "grass" I just piped green frosting through a multi-opening tip, but you could get a similar effect by frosting the cupcake and then lifting bits of it up with a toothpick.  Then just add store-bought pumpkin candies on top!

Hope you all have a wonderful and happy Halloween,
- Sugar Baby

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mini Gingerbread Bundt Cakes

I woke up this morning just craving gingerbread.  Does that ever happen to you?  You wake up and you just have to have something?  I was messing around in my cake pan cupboard, debating whether I wanted to make a round cake or square cake, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my mini bundt cake pans...they were a gift from my sister-in-law, and are all different fun shapes.  (If you don't have any mini bundt pans, not to worry - you can make this recipe in an 8 x 8 square pan.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Some of my favorite baking blogs

I follow many baking blogs, so I thought this could be part one of a series about my favorite blogs.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Cake Journal - This was one of the first baking/decorating blogs I ever visited!  Louise is amazingly talented with fondant creations and general baking deliciousness, and has recently added a variety of guest bloggers who each bring their own creativity to the mix.

Bake at 350 - Bridget's cookies are jaw-dropping beauties.  I mean, they are some serious baking eye candy, and she shares how to make her creations in simple, easy to follow steps.  Her cookbook, "Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations and Everyday" is filled with how-to photos and cookies that are not found on her blog.

Sally's Baking Addiction - This blog is so amazing, because Sally develops all the recipes herself, through trial and error, until she's happy with the end product.  So you can trust that her recipes work and will taste incredible!  [You may remember I linked to Sally's blog when I made her Soft-Baked Funfetti Sugar Cookies for 4th of July.]

Coco Cake Land - Oh my gosh.  I am so jealous of Lyndsay's piping abilities!  She makes the most gorgeous cakes with frosting roses, swirls, stars, etc.  I've learned so much about piping from her blog, as well as decorating cakes and cupcakes with sweet signs.

Bakerella - Bakerella is the cake pop goddess in my eyes.  She makes them in every variety you can think of, and they are cute as a button!  Angie quite a few books out, and they are a blast to look through and dream about making these sweets.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of this series - I would love to hear about your favorite blogs in the comment section!

- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

The recipe for this scrumptious bar is from Sally's Baking Addiction, one of my favorite blogs...here is the link.

I altered the recipe - I didn't go the vegan route with these bars, and I used regular flour instead of oat flour.  I also switched out the raisins for chocolate chips.  Ultimately, it's up to you how healthy you want to make them, and that flexibility is so great! 

You will love these bars, because you can eat them as your breakfast, as your snack, or even as your dessert.  They're chewy and nutty, and you can never go wrong by throwing some mini chocolate chips in there, am I right?  (I was so antsy to eat them that I cut them while they were still warm, and they crumbled a little - don't be impatient like me, let them cool all the way.)

Check out the rest of Sally's blog - I think you'll really love it!
- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Espresso Brownies

A confession: I have never been good at making brownies.  They just never turn out right for me...until yesterday!

I made espresso brownies, and they were delicious!  If you have a hard time making brownies, you've got to try this one.  It's from a book called Hometown Potluck Favorites, put out by Better Homes and Garden.  I altered the recipe a little, and here's how you make them:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Caramel Latte Cookie Pie

You may be thinking, "cookie pie?"  I gave it that name, because this amazing dessert is made with cookie dough, but resembles a pie!

The shortcut here is the use of store-bought sugar cookie dough and jarred caramel sauce, but you won't think it tastes like a shortcut at all...it's one of the most delicious desserts I've had to date.  I know you will be blown away by the caramel-y goodness.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gingersnap Cookies

I was flipping through Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen cookbook yesterday...it's a wonderful book, full of really unique recipes.  Tom is the owner of quite a few restaurants in Seattle, including Dahlia Lounge, where I had one of the best meals of my life!

A recipe for gingersnaps caught my eye, and sounded so good!  After testing out the recipe, I altered it to use ground ginger instead of fresh, and took out a step where you roll the cookies in sugar.  If you'd like to see the original recipe, you can find it hereYou won't believe how soft and delicious these cookies are - if you like a firmer gingersnap, you can just add two minutes to the baking time.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Vanilla Cream and Blueberries

As much as I love pound cake, it can be...well, a little boring.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised how scrumptious my version tastes!  I made a sour cream pound cake, and the addition of the sour cream makes it really moist and rich.  I plated it with a vanilla cream and blueberries, and the sweetness of the vanilla cream and the tartness of the blueberries really makes this dessert sing!

I found the recipe for the pound cake in the Better Homes and Gardens' New Baking Book.  It's one of my favorite baking books, and it's so loved that it's dog-eared and covered with post-its and scribbled notes. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Pumpkin Cheesecake

"Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale."  - Lauren DeStefano

All my friends are mourning the loss of summer, but honestly, I couldn't be happier!  I love autumn, and I can feel it coming...last night, there was a lovely chill in the air, and a big orange moon hung low on the horizon.  Sighhhh.

The beginning of fall always makes me want to bake things with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apples.  As I fall asleep, I'm thinking of soft cinnamon rolls, delicious apple crisps, and every other yummy autumn treat.

I woke up this morning with pumpkin on my mind, and not a lot of free time to make anything.  I had a No-Bake Cheesecake mix in my pantry, and I decided I would make it a pumpkin cheesecake and a Sweet Shortcut.  You will really love how easy it is to make this rich, creamy dessert.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lemon Sugar Cookies

These lemon sugar cookies are so divine...soft and chewy with a little zing from the lemon.  This is my mother's recipe from the 70s, and it calls for bottled lemon juice - gasp!  You can feel free to use fresh lemon juice if you'd like, but I actually like the flavor the bottled juice gives these cookies.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

I love these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes, and I've put some shortcuts in the recipe that I think you'll really like!

You start with vanilla cupcakes - it's up to you if they're from scratch, from a mix, or store-bought.  Then you just make a vanilla cream and a chocolate ganache before assembling.  Think those are complicated?  Not the way I make them!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

I've been reading more and more about ice cream cone cupcakes, where you pour the batter in the cone and bake it.  I was a little dubious about how they would turn out, but I'm happy to say that I finally made them, and they're amazing!

I just know you will love these treats, because they're adorable and super easy to make.  You can use a store-bought mix or your favorite homemade recipe, and you can play around with different frosting flavors.  I used vanilla cake batter in mine (the recipe can be found here).

To stabilize the cones when you bake them, you can place them in a muffin or cupcake tin, like so:

I'm not sure why I did the every other hole layout, but you don't have to be like me - you can just put a cone in every opening.

Pour the batter into the cone, leaving room at the top for expansion.  You might have to play around with this a little...I ended up putting batter about halfway up the cone.

Bake for the same amount of time you would for cupcakes, but I recommend that you keep an eye on them for the last five minutes in case they start to over-brown.

Let them cool, and frost!  I used a pink lemonade recipe (found here), and piped it on with a jumbo closed star tip, but I think you could use any tip, or apply it by hand, and it would look lovely.

Here's one cut in half, so you can see what the inside looks like:

I added rainbow sprinkles to mine, because sprinkles make my heart sing (ha!) though you can use any sprinkles you like.  If you're a fellow sprinkle lover, check out my marshmallow treats with sprinkles here.  They were gone in a flash, so make sure to stash some away for yourself!

NOTE: the cone gets soggy fairly quickly, so I would recommend making them the day you plan to serve them.

- Sugar Baby

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marshmallow Treats - with Sprinkles!

Ahhh, marshmallow treats...love that crispy, gooey, deliciousness.  What could make them better?  Sprinkles, of course!

I simply made a classic marshmallow treats recipe, and stirred in sprinkles with the cereal:


3 tablespoons butter
1 package marshmallows (10 oz. package =  around 40 marshmallows)
6 cups puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

  • Melt the butter over low heat in a large saucepan.
  • Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
  • Remove from heat and add puffed rice cereal and sprinkles.
  • Stir, stir, stir until they're well mixed.  Use those arm muscles to get everything incorporated!
  • Place mixture in a 13 x 9 x 2 pan that has been coated with cooking spray.
  • Use a piece of waxed people to help smoosh the mixture into the pan.

Important:  Let cool for several hours.  It may look cool, but you have to let the marshmallowy goodness really set to get the best results.

FYI - My recipe says to store these for no more than two days at room temperature, but don't worry...these babies will be LONG gone by then!

- Sugar Baby

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Apple Pie Napoleon

Making a pie from scratch can be intimidating, but have no fear - Sugar Baby to the rescue!

I have created an apple pie napoleon from frozen pie crust and canned apple pie filling, and it is SCRUMPTIOUS!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and flour a cutting board.

Defrost the pie crust per the instructions on the box/bag and unroll it onto the cutting board. [If it cracks or breaks, just smoosh it back together.]

Cut out circles - I used a three inch biscuit cutter, but you can use whatever you want to cut your circles...even drinking glasses!


Place the circles on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.


Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until crispy.

Microwave your pie filling until it's nice and warm...mmm.


Place one of the dough circles on a plate, and cover it with the warmed filling.

Do two more layers in this manner.


Garnish with whipped cream on top, and serve!



Oh, goodness...how to describe the flavors and textures of this delicious dessert?  Crispy, sweet dough contrasting with the oozy warm pie filling.

I cut it down the middle with my fork, and broke everything into bite size pieces.  I'm embarrassed to say that when I finished eating, I kept scraping my fork across the plate to try to get every last crumb and drop of filling.  I may have even licked the plate.  (Who, me?)

This napoleon is a really beautiful and unique presentation, and is a lot easier than making an apple pie from scratch.  These would be great for a dinner party dessert, and are a cinch to put together after the meal.

Hope you enjoy this!
- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jazz It Up - Store-Bought Cupcakes

We all lead busy lives, and there's not always time to make elaborate baked goods.  This cute little kitty is a perfect way to jazz up store-bought cupcakes:

I took a vanilla/vanilla store-bought cupcake, and added strawberry slices for the ears and nose, red hearts for the eyes, and licorice for the whiskers.  I think they are so adorable!

These cupcakes would be fun for kid's birthday parties or for the cat lovers in your life.  Children can easily make these, and lots of other animals - make a lion with a shredded carrot mane, or a monkey with banana slice ears.  Just have fun with the supplies you have on hand!

Hope you like these sweet kitties,
- Sugar Baby

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blueberry Crumble Muffins

I made the most glorious blueberry muffins today!  I had some giant Canadian blueberries, and was searching online for a good recipe.  I found one on the Food & Wine website that looked intriguing, and the resulting muffins are incredible.  Here's the recipe:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and put liners in your muffin pan.

The Crumble Topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Combine everything but the butter in a medium bowl, and break up any large pieces of brown sugar.

Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until crumbly.  [At first, the mixture will seem the farthest thing from crumbly, but keep stirring and incorporating the flour from the bottom of the bowl, and you will end up with crumbs the size of peas.  You can also do this with your fingers.]

Set aside.

The Muffins:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil  [I used vegetable oil.]
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup blueberries

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir with a fork.

In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the sugar, eggs and oil.  Beat on low speed until combined, and add in the whole milk and vanilla.

While your mixer off, add ALL of the flour mixture, then mix at slow speed until the batter is smooth.

Stir in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.

The Baking:

Spoon the muffin batter into the liners, about 3/4 full.

Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of the batter, and pop them into the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes before serving.


You will love these moist, crumbly muffins...you can warm them up and spread them with butter, or drizzle them with a glaze made with confectioners sugar and milk.  Any which way you serve these beauties, people will love them!

- Sugar Baby

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

I think I'm in the minority when it comes to spice cakes - I love the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and coriander together in a cake.  Yummmm.  But when I asked my friends, everyone said that it was okay, but not their favorite.  Well, maybe this version will bring people over to my side!

I saw this recipe on the side of a box of spice cake mix, and I knew I had to try it.  Adding apple pie filling is genius, because it makes the cupcakes incredibly moist and delicious...and the cinnamon frosting is crazy good!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Homade Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl

I have wanted to make ice cream for so long, but I just never got around to it - well, yesterday, I decided it was time!

It was super easy and I recommend it to anyone who wants to do it but hasn't yet.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fondant Birds - Cupcake Toppers

Two kinds of cupcake toppers - picks and circles:


These birds are as cute as can be, and are pretty easy to make.  I used two different sized leaf cutters(you can buy here) to make the body of the bird and the wing:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - No-Bake Chocolate Pie

As I've said before, not everyone has the time to bake elaborate creations.  This recipe is perfect when you're in a rush, and I promise that it's delicious!

I got this recipe from a Keebler graham cracker crust, but decided to switch it up and do an Oreo crust.  All you need is:


Monday, July 8, 2013

Doctor Who TARDIS Cake!

I had lunch with my friend Cortnie yesterday - she's a great friend, and we share a love of books and baking.  (She's a co-founder and senior editor at BiblioFiend, an amazing resource for book lovers.)  We were talking about making cakes from our favorite books and movies, and how cool a Golden Snitch or Quidditch cake would be, and she said, "What about a TARDIS cake?"  We sort of grinned at each other and said, "Let's do it right now!"

For those of you unfamiliar with Doctor Who, a TARDIS is a machine that can transport the Doctor to any place or any time in the world.  On the outside, it looks like a London police box, and that's what we decided to make!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of July Cookies!

I wanted to do something really simple for the 4th of July - these cookies are easily packaged and are portable for taking to your celebrations.  I adore cupcakes, but transporting them is not always easy, and the frosting can start to melt in the July heat.

I got this amazing sugar cookie recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, and slightly altered it.  The cookies came out so moist and tender with a tiny bit of crunch.  Absolute heaven.

Instead of mixing the red, white, and blue sprinkles in the dough like she did, I just sprinkled them on top of the cookies before putting them in the oven.  I also added two minutes to the baking time, but perhaps my oven is finicky.

Aren't they cute? 

FYI - I made the circle around the plate out of cupcake wrappers - so adorable!  This type of wrapper goes around the cupcake when it comes out of the oven, and I got them here:  Bella Cupcake Couture.

Hope you have a fabulous 4th of July...be safe!
- Sugar Baby

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet Shortcuts - Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies are SO good, and they are easy to make!  This is a shortcut because I bought the jumbo chocolate chunk cookies at a bakery to save time.  Softer cookies work better for this project.

Just place the cookies face up:

Scoop some ice cream and place it on the cookie:

Then close it up, and press down lightly.  I also rolled the sides in mini chocolate chips!

Tomorrow, I'm going to post some 4th of July cookies that are super cute!
- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

I just had to share this photo of the cinnamon rolls I made from Pioneer Woman's recipe!  They are the most glorious rolls - it takes a bit of effort to make them, but you are rewarded with this:

Soft, luscious cinnamon rolls with an amazing glaze...I didn't pour the glaze on as thick as she did, but they are still DELICIOUS!
FYI - The recipe says that it makes seven foil pans, but I ended up with six.  I think I'm going to share most of them with friends and family.  I also may have eaten a few of the rolls...cough cough...or maybe five or six.  I'll never tell!
- Sugar Baby