Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Whenever a summer crowd gathers, I make sure to have these Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches on hand.

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

It may not officially be summer yet, but here in Southern California and in my backyard in particular, we are in full summer mode. Now, for the next four months, it’s nothing but shorts, t-shirts and flip flops for us.

When I gather my entourage together for our weekly Sunday barbecues, my husband is the master of the grill, and I am the diva of dessert. For those hot California nights throughout the summer my gang usually demands these Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches.  Made with homemade crunchy, crumbly peanut cookies and a huge dollop of your favorite ice cream, these are a summer treat that will make you a real hero.

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches 

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Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

The past couple of weeks I have been somewhat obsessed with this blueberry compote I’ve been making. Especially in Southern California now, there has been an abundance of fresh blueberries everywhere, and I can’t seem to get enough of them.  Anyway, I’ve been whipping up this tasty little concoction and pouring it over vanilla ice cream, waffles and pancakes. I can sometimes be found at midnight, standing over my sink with a spoon and eating it straight from the container.

This past weekend I had the whole family over for brunch and I made these Blueberry and Yogurt Parfaits in tiny shot glasses. They were a big hit.

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

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Blueberry Compote

Blueberry Compote

Mama’s Tips:

This is a great compote to use over ice cream, waffles, pancakes, cottage cheese as well as yogurt. Just store in the refrigerator in an air-proof container. It should last about 2 days.

You can make this compote the day before you make the parfaits, just assemble the parfait at the last minute.

These are perfect when you’re having the whole gang over for brunch. Use 3 ounce shot glasses and make parfait shots. It a nice way to start off any brunch.

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Blueberry and Yogurt Parfait

Recipe: Easy 

 
 

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

S'mores Mini Cheesecakes

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

My foray into the ranks of the Girl Scouts of America was a brief and un-momentous part of my life as I entered the fourth grade. All the girls in my class were joining, so naturally I wanted to be part of this elite service-oriented group. I mean, they got to wear an array of brightly colored embroidered badges on a banner across their chests, who wouldn’t want to do that. And so I did what any red-blooded American elementary schooler would do, and I enlisted.

I knew immediately this might be a decision that I would regret. Being the fashionista that I was, even in the fourth grade, my heart sank as soon as I tried on that green, military-style scouting dress. Oh no, this was bad. There was apparently no way to doll this outfit up. The deal breaking moment came when we had a camping weekend out in the woods and  to my horror there were no proper “facilities”. I called my mother and had her rescue me from this terrible fate.

But there is a silver lining in all our life’s experiences. It was in the Girl Scouts (yet ever so briefly) that I was introduced to that heavenly concoction they call s’mores. In life, what could be better than graham crackers with melted chocolate and marshmallows. Bless the Girl Scouts. That snack was the inspiration for these S’mores Mini Cheesecakes. You don’t need to be a scout to enjoy them.

S'mores Mini Cheesecakes

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

Equipment needed:  electric mixer, mini cheesecake pan, kitchen torch

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

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S'more Mini Cheesecakes

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

Mama’s Tips: 

You can leave your cream cheese and eggs out overnight so that they will be room temperature. The cream cheese is so much easier to beat, and will incorporate into the batter easier when it is room temperature.

S'mores Mini Cheesecakes

S’mores Mini Cheesecakes

Recipe: Intermediate 

 
 

Apple Raisin Loaf Cake

Apple Raisin Loaf Cake

Apple Raisin Loaf Cake

Those who know me know that Mama, (that’s me) is not much of a reader. I am definitely not a reader of fiction I can tell you that.  When I’m able to harness my attention to read though, I do like a good biography or something historical. But what I really love are cookbooks. I have bookcases all over the house just filled with every kind of cookbook you can think of, though most are about desserts. That shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I love cookbooks because you can go back and look at them over and over again, which is not something I would do with other kinds of books. And I love pictures! I will rarely buy a cookbook that isn’t filled with lots of tantalizing photos. One of my favorite cookbooks is “The Modern Baker” by Nick Malgieri. For those of you out there who like to bake, or if you just want to give it a shot, this should be your book. Every recipe is a winner. So many breads, cakes and cookies in this book, and not enough time to make it all. So, I’m sharing this Apple Raisin Loaf Cake recipe from the book. Hope you give it a try. I bet you’ll love it.

Apple Raisin Loaf

Apple Raisin Loaf

Mama’s Tips:

To grate my apples, I used a box grater like this.

If you line your baking pans with a piece of parchment, and lightly brush the parchment with butter, you will not have a problem with the cake sticking to the pan.

I kept this cake wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, and it stayed fresh for 4 days.

Apple Raisin Loaf

Apple Raisin Loaf

Apple Raisin Loaf Cake

From “The Modern Baker”, by Nick Malgieri

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Parchment lined loaf pan for Apple Raisin Loaf

Parchment lined loaf pan for Apple Raisin Loaf

Apple Raisin Loaf

APPLE RAISIN LOAF

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

So often in life we are confronted with crucial life altering decisions. One of the most difficult for me is “Sweet or Salty”. I know you struggle with this one too. It’s not a decision that one can make lightly, and more often then not, I opt for sweet.  However, there are those times when it’s not about the sugar,  but rather that salty crunchiness.

The solution is whipping up a batch of homemade Soft Pretzels. Don’t be intimidated, you can do this. They’re really easy, and so worth the effort. The end result is salty and crunchy on the outside, and soft and doughy on the inside. They’re best right out of the oven. I serve them on family poker night with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. These are so good, I usually make two batches…and there’s never any left.

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

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Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

Mama’s Tips

To portion your dough into 8 equal pieces; cut the dough in half, then cut each half in half, then each quarter in half. Remarkably, you will end up with 8 equal pieces.

Boiling the pretzels in the baking soda bath will give the pretzels their golden color and will create the classic crunchy exterior, leaving the inside soft and doughy.

After shaping the pretzels into their signature shape, I like to place them on a sprayed cookie sheet into the fridge for about 10-15 minutes as I find this makes them easier to handle.

When adding the baking soda to the boiling water, step back and add it slowly.  Adding it all in one shot will cause the water to erupt and you could burn yourself. I learned this the hard way.

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

Recipe: Intermediate

 
 

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

I’m a bad, bad girl. Yesterday it poured here  in Los Angeles, something it never does except maybe 5 times a year. So when it does happen, we folks here in LA become disoriented and don’t know what to do with ourselves. Above all we don’t drive because what sane person would drive in the rain? Definitely not me.

So getting back to why I’m a bad, bad girl. Since I was unable to leave the house due to the aforementioned rain, I decided the next best thing to do was to stay home and bake doughnuts. Makes sense, right?  And what better doughnut to make on a gloomy day but Toasted Coconut Doughnuts with a sweet vanilla glaze with lots of chopped macadamia nuts on top. I always say, when you can’t go out and play…make doughnuts.

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

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Toasted Coconut Doughnuts before glazing

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts before glazing

Mama’s Tips:

To make filling the wells of the doughnut pan easier, pour the batter into a spouted measuring cup.

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Toasted Coconut Doughnuts

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

I’m not much for Hollywood award shows, but I’m not gonna lie, I love the Academy Awards. I love the spectacle of it, the gowns, the speeches, the whole shebang. I was invited to an Academy Awards party at a friends house this Sunday and interestingly enough, it’s all girls. Is this event something that just doesn’t appeal to men? Don’t they want to see who’s wearing what? I guess not.

My participation required that I bring a dessert, which I’m always happy to do. To pay homage to classic Hollywood, I’ll be bringing a classic cake. This version of Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake is chock full of fresh blueberries and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze. I’ve decided to top mine with a sprinkling of sliced almonds.

Anyway, I’m hoping for “The Imitation Game” to win best picture, I would be curious to hear your choices. And please take a look at another one of my bundt cakes here.

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

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Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Butterscotch Pudding Shooters

Butterscotch Pudding Shot Glass Dessert

Butterscotch Pudding Shot Glass Dessert

As a kid growing up in Philadelphia I can clearly remember those February days trudging home from school through several feet of snow. Our noses were frozen, our hands were numb and our toes were all but frozen off.  After peeling off layers of clothing, hats, gloves and boots, my mother always greeted my brothers and I with a dish of butterscotch pudding and a dollop of whipped cream. It was like instant warmth and coziness in a bowl.

I have taken that beloved family treat and turned it into a Butterscotch Pudding Shooter. The base of this dessert is a creamy, homemade butterscotch pudding that is layered with a crunchy gingersnap crumble and topped with a cinnamon spiced whipped cream. Say goodbye to Jell-O pudding and Cool Whip and hello to homemade because this is so easy to make.

For my other shot glass desserts look here, and here and here.

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding Shooters

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Butterscotch Pudding Shooters

Butterscotch Pudding Shooters

Mama’s Tips:

The components for this dessert can be made in advance (earlier in the day) and then assembled at the last minute.

If you’re not going to serve the pudding warm, but instead going to use it for the shot glass dessert; place it it a shallow bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding so a skin will not form and the pudding’s consistency remains creamy.

Butterscotch Pudding Shot Glass Desserts

Butterscotch Pudding Shot Glass Desserts

Recipe: Easy

 
 

Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins

Oh how I love the smell of cinnamon and chocolate in the morning.  Now tell me, who doesn’t like to start their day with cake. Well, I do. This morning I have cousins Ted and Mary Alice visiting from West Virginia and we’re going to start the day off with a hot cup of “joe” and these Coffee Cake Muffins. Why do you think my relatives travel all the way across the country to see me…that’s right…because I give them cake in the morning.

I give you my word, that you will be a hero if you awaken your family to the smell of cinnamon, chocolate and toasted walnuts wafting through the house.   We ate these straight out of the oven, because God forbid we should wait 10 minutes for them to cool. Go ahead…be a hero.

Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins 

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Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

I remember the days (not fondly) when New Year’s Eve meant finding a wild party,  a cute dress and a cuter date. It was so much pressure. For the last decade or so, we’ve been doing New Year’s at my friend Cindy’s. No carrying on or debauchery,  just good food, good friends and a good time. We  watch the Times Square Ball drop on TV, and at 12:01  we all pack up and go home. It’s my kind of night.

I’m in charge of dessert this year and I’ll be bringing these Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters. They’re an elegant dessert, and festive for any occasion. It’s a piece of lemon meringue pie in a shot glass, perfect for those who just want a little somethin’ after dinner.

I just want to wish everyone who’s followed my blog a healthy and happy 2015!

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

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Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters

Lemon Meringue Pie Shot Glass Desserts

Lemon Meringue Pie Shot Glass Desserts

Recipe: Intermediate