Tag Archives: Recipes

Valentine Cupcakes, Cookies, and Cheesecake

Valentine cupcakes were a hit for Valentine’s Day this year. Kate and I baked up a gorgeous batch of chocolate frosted strawberry cupcakes with adorable Valentine sprinkles. We couldn’t seem to stop there because we followed that up with some of the cutest sugar cookies frosted with a lemon frosting and, again, more Valentine sprinkles.

Valentine cupcakes

Over the last year Kate and I have really gotten in to baking treats for holidays. We bake treats from scratch throughout the year everything from chocolate chip bar cookies to brownies, but we’ve never really focused on holiday treats aside from traditional Christmas things. It used to be that we would bake sugar cookies at Christmas and maybe an angel food cake at Easter. We changed it up this year by adding to our cookie cutter collection.

We bought a set of different sized heart shaped cookie cutters for Valentine’s Day. Then we ran across the cutest shamrock cookie cutters so now we have plans for St. Patrick’s Day cookies. And, we’ve already stocked up on Easter shaped cookie cutters as well.

But, back to Valentine’s Day! The Valentine cupcakes were inspired by Kate finding the most adorable red and white polka dot cupcake liners. The Valentine cupcakes became our spin on chocolate covered strawberries by using a strawberry flavored cake batter and homemade fudge frosting.

cherry cheesecake for Valentine's DayMy gift to Mike this year was a cherry cheesecake. Cheesecake is his absolute favorite dessert and I’ve finally gotten around to learning how to make cheesecake. Christmas marked my first New York style cheesecake and for Maggie’s 10th birthday I made a triple chocolate cheesecake.

So, for Valentine’s Day it seemed only right to make a decadent cheesecake with a homemade cherry topping. Although the picture doesn’t do it justice, it was a huge hit. I’ve actually found that making cheesecakes from scratch isn’t all that hard and it’s so worth the trouble!!!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I tested out new recipes over the holidays. Christmas marked the first time I had ever made a cheesecake from scratch. It turned out so well that I tempted fate and made another successful run for Maggie’s 10th birthday, a triple chocolate cheesecake.

My husband loves apple pie, cheesecake, and pecan pie. Not in that order. I make his favorite apple pie for Thanksgiving every year and this year I tried my hand at pecan pie and the aforementioned cheesecake.

Chocolate Pecan PieI’ve never been a fan of pecan pie. I like pecans, although usually I’m not really big on having them in cookies, brownies, fudge, etc. Until last December the only pecan pies I had tried were store bought and I just wasn’t a fan of the gooey, sticky, gelatinous filling with pecans perched on top.

Google made finding a recipe easy, unfortunately, most recipes called for corn syrup and I’m not a big fan of that either. I finally found a pecan pie recipe by Trisha Yearwood that I decided to try.

I make my own pie crust from scratch so I started with that. The pecan pie I made for Christmas followed her recipe exactly. I decided to make another pie after New Year’s because Kate and I felt like whipping something up one afternoon. This time I added a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the recipe. I also don’t go to the trouble of arranging pecan halves on the top of the pie, I chop them all up and mix them all right into the pie filling.

Here’s the recipe with my alterations. 🙂

Pecan Pie

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick butter), melted
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
One 9-inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked, or homemade pastry


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs until creamy. Add the chopped pecans, chocolate chips, melted butter, milk, flour and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

Bake the pie for 55 minutes. Check for doneness by shaking the pan slightly. The pie should be firm with only a slight jiggle in the center. It will set more as it cools.

31 Days of Tying Up Loose Ends: Day 18: Tiny Moments

31 Days of Tying Up Loose Ends Oct 2011Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s ridiculous how fast the holidays have come up on us, isn’t it?

Last year I opted for a new sweet potato recipe. I love Guy Fieri. Long before he was hosting game shows, I really loved the way he cooked and I adore “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” So when I came across his “Whiskey Glazed Sweet Potatoes” recipe I had to give it a try.

After all, I love sweet potatoes, love whiskey and I always dig cayenne pepper.

I followed the recipe exactly and sadly, it just wasn’t a good fit.

When FlyLady started announcing her Cruising Through the Holidays missions I flipped open my home control journal and found my mini-holiday journal for Thanksgiving! I had completely forgotten making it last year but there it was, menu and shopping list all ready to go!

The only thing I wanted to change was the sweet potato recipe. We discussed sweet potatoes and the “not much of a hit” recipe from last year around the breakfast table and I made a mental note to do a search for a new recipe. Then life happened and I promptly forgot all about searching for that recipe.

Over the past few years I’ve experienced moments that can easily fall under the category of “dark night of the soul” and through those there were moments that helped to restore my faith a little. I’ve had to work through a lot of heartache and I’ve had to rediscover my own sense of faith. What I’ve discovered, happily, is that whatever source you view out there as your own, whatever makes you feel more connected to something bigger than you and humanity – isn’t relegated to once a week or a few holidays a year. There is a magic to be found in everyday, little moments where you realize that you aren’t alone and you are always, perpetually connected to and working with something much larger than yourself. Even if it’s something as mundane as sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes momentarily forgotten I tripped over to the Avila Valley Barn website to see what sorts of things they had going on for October. They had section on recipes. I clicked and was happily surprised to find that they had only ONE recipe listed and guess what? It was Sweet Potato Casserole.

I got a little zing of gratitude and had another one just typing this out. I’m convinced, that sometimes God, the Universe, insert your own title here, gives you those tiny moments to support your faith and increase your trust for when the harder moments appear.

Loose end? Well, I’ve got my recipe for Thanksgiving and a delightful lesson in gratitude as well.

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

2 Cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
2 Cups cooked yams, mashed
2 Cup sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup milk
2-1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup brown sugar
2-1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 Cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all main ingredients together and pour into a greased baking dish.
Blend all topping ingredients and sprinkle over sweet potatoes/yams in baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until brown sugar melts.
Recipe may be doubled or tripled.


Check out all my posts in this “31 Days of Tying Up Loose Ends” series here.

And, you can check out all the other 31 Dayers here!