Category Archives: Baked Goods and Desserts

How to Make Skittle Sprinkles

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeSB50Sweeter #CollectiveBias

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There are some things in life about which it’s okay to get excited WAY early, like weeks or even months in advance. Chatting about summer vacay plays in January, playing Christmas songs in August, making a spreadsheet that counts down the 5,000 hours until your favorite TV show airs again–these are all perfectly normal reasons to be excited.

With my dad and brother, though, it’s the Super Bowl. Last September, I caught them whispering quietly about getting Super Bowl tickets, which cost as much apiece as my entire kitchen. Of course, the combined pressure of my mom and common sense eventually shut down that idea, but with the big game right around the corner, celebration day spirits at home are at an all-time high again. Luckily, I’ve found my niche in the family when these kinds of things happen–so into the kitchen I went this weekend for some Super Brainstorming!

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As you’ve probably realized by now, Skittles is an official sponsor of the NFL which means that Skittles is here to Make Super Bowl 50 Even Sweeter, and it just felt right to include my brother’s favorite candy in the celebration prep this year. After rummaging through some old recipe ideas, I finally decided that I wanted to make something fun and new to celebrate Skittles in a new way: Skittle sprinkles! The process takes a bit of time from start to finish, but it’s totally simple, plus you get to see your friends’ amazed faces when you tell them that you just transformed their childhood fav into an edible topping.

Of course, this meant that I was going to need a whole LOT of Skittles, so I hopped onto Amazon (a girl’s best friend), sifted through the Starburst and Snickers, and finally ordered some Skittles.… Read more

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No-Bake M&M’S® Cookie Butter Avalanche Bars

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeItAMovieNight #CollectiveBias

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Animated films are my jam, my cup of tea, my sweet love, my obsession and my vampiric life blood. If you don’t like animation, you may as well leave now because I’m pretty sure we can’t ever be friends again.

And no, you can’t have any of these bars on your way out. Hmph!

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Animated movie nights are one of my favorite bonding activities ever. If you want to find the want to my heart–because lezzbereal here, everyone does–you might suggest having a snack-filled animation marathon night and I might love you forever.

Every time I go home, my family and I make it a point to watch at least one animated film together, which is so delightful because sometimes I spend more time watching them than watching the film itself. This winter break, we decided to watch Hotel Transylvania 2, which is an adorable film about Dracula’s attempts to turn his half-human grandson into a true vampire. The plot was cute overload, but you know you’re watching a real gem when Blobby the Blob needs to use the bathroom in the middle of a dramatic race sequence and suddenly your dad is cracking up so bad that he is alternately coughing and laughing and quite literally falling off his chair for three minutes straight.

Ahh, families. Gotta love ‘em!

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The only thing that could have made the night better was having about a bajillion snacks on hand. My family and I are a bunch of huge snackers, so we decided to stock up on Orville Redenbacher 6 pack Movie Theater Popcorn Bowls (a very good idea), Milk Chocolate M&M’S®, and Coca-Cola.

Why these particular snacks? I’m so glad you asked!… Read more

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Bananas Foster Bread Pudding for #SundaySupper

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding 2--121915Have you ever brought something to a potluck and the only thought running through your mind as you’re dragging your feet from the car to the front door is: “Oh my god, this is SO hideous I hope nobody knows I brought this“?

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Truth be told, over half of the desserts I make when I’m alone at home look like they were pooped out of a woolly mammoth and left to fossilize for a few dozen centuries under mountains of snow. That’s one of the big reasons why food blogging is such a godsend. Making delicious stuff that looks like elephant dung, deeming it unpresentable to the public eye, and eating all the evidence so that nobody ever finds out you’re a big food phony with zero presentation skills…well, that’s kinda my specialty around here.

Then every once in a few Ice Ages, you uncover a real gem. A dessert that is absolutely horrendous to look at–something between burnt toast and your Aunty May’s leftover fruitcake–but tastes like a million bucks, and then some. This bananas foster bread pudding is exactly thatSo ugly and so, SO insanely good. Maybe you should bring it to your next ugly sweater party just so you can fit the theme!

The recipe is a twist on my favorite bread pudding recipe. It’s creamy, boozy, and sinfully good without feeling too heavy on the palate. Eggs, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, leftover crusty bread, and bananas are basically all you’ll need to make this last-minute dessert. Oh yeah, and a generous dose of coffee-flavored liqueur rum! You know, for that extra-great holiday cheers ;)

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I may have been cringing when I brought this bread pudding to our most recent holiday party, but you can bet your fancy pants that I was a proud pudding parent when I left that evening.… Read more

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Golden Oreo-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Blondie Cheesecake Bars

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I’ve just started reading Morton N. Cohen’s edition of Lewis Carroll’s collected letters and the pitter-patter of rain outside seems bent on creating the perfect England-esque backdrop for my rambles into this bizarre British author’s mind. I’ve reached a sort of rut as far as my dissertation writing is concerned, so after rereading what I had written so far, I’m taking a step back this week and trying to focus on gathering as many clues as I can around the creation of the Alice stories. It’s kind of like playing a game of Clue, only you’re the only one playing and the clues appear in pell-mell fashion, willy-nilly and wherever they please. I never imagined that the whirlwind after the World Food Champs would take so long to calm down, but things are mostly settled now and (as odd as it sounds) thankfully I can get back to my research with minimal interruptions during the holiday break. My inner homebody is beyond pleased at this quiet change.

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As I sift through Carroll’s letters from Oxford (where he served as a Mathematical Lecturer until 1881), I can’t help but fall in love with the author and his writing all over again. On Saturday, my British friend and I went on a long amble to the beach, where we strolled along the pier listening to live music and padded our way across the sand, far down the shore. I listened, fascinated, as he described his college at Cambridge and the lifelong groundkeepers who maintain the landscape and the ancient architecture that has seen so many developments yet stayed essentially the same since the 1300s. As we rolled up our jeans and waded into the Pacific, I found myself marveling at the fact that a place as many oceans and centuries away as 19th-century England could feel so close at the same time.… Read more

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Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Crack Bread

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As usual, life has caught up with my sorry behind and that means I’m behind here! I’ve been taking a 1-week sanity break after the World Food Championships, and another week to accommodate a nasty flu that popped up on Thanksgiving day. There’s so much to catch you guys up on!

Item number one is the amount of holiday festivities that have been going on here. Oh my goodness gracious, guys–the amount of food coma-ing happening has been obscene. Anybody else in the same boat?

Last night I hosted a White Elephant party for my international friend family, and it was SO much fun. By 5 PM, there were 18 people crammed into my stuffy apartment, and pretty soon there was a cheerful chatter filling up the tiny room as folks chowed down on all the great food my friend & I had whipped up that afternoon. (Fried rice, green onion pancakes, squash casserole, cheesy crescent rolls, jello cheesecake, maple brussel sprouts–forget stopping at “full,” you don’t go home from my food parties until you hate yourself :) ) It’s strange to think that we all met each other for the first time a scant two months ago, but one of my favorite things about international communities is how quickly they pull together. A few weeks ago, another friend of ours hosted a Friendsgiving at his much larger, much more impressive and jacuzzi-swaggering residence. There was turkey, this cheesy garlic crack bread which was praised over-the-moon, s’mores made over a real fireplace, and so much merriment that I just about thought I would burst! It’s joyous moments like these that make me swell with the holiday spirit and ooze candy canes out of my pores, not that anybody needs an image of that stuck in their heads today…

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In other news, my friend J is visiting for his residency interviews and he’s such a boss!… Read more

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Fluffy White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

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I never used to love scones. They always looked so bland sitting on the tray of continental breakfast pastries that I never gave them a second glance as I reached for an apple Danish or blueberry streusel muffin—poor dry, dusty hockey pucks!

Then a few years ago, I had my conversion moment. It happened during one of my friend’s weekly movie nights. We had all just settled down for the opening sequence of Singin’ in the Rain when she brought out a tray of scones—warm, buttery, fragrant scones that resembled their hotel counterparts about as much as Dobby looks like Hagrid. The heavens parted, choirs sang, and Gene Kelly stepped right out of the screen to claim the first one. For the rest of the movie, which I was watching for the first time, we hummed and sang and made up the words and munched on another melting scone, and yet another.

And another….

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Since then, I’ve been experimenting with no end of scone recipes. Oftentimes I’ll polish off an entire batch for the week’s breakfast without finding the time to photograph them—whoops!—but then at a recent Friendsgiving dinner, I had a fun conversation with my UK friend about the British naming of baked goods, which rekindled my dormant scone fanaticism…

From what I gathered, British cookies correspond with a very specific type of American cookies (your traditional round baked cookie, e.g. chocolate chip “cookies”), whereas everything else sweet falls under the category of the British “biscuit.” Of course, this begged the question of what the American biscuit—the fluffy, buttery kind eaten with jam and butter—was named, to which he pleasantly replied: “Those are sort of like scones, I think!”

(Which is about the most adorably British thing that any Englishperson could utter, by the way! Just FYI.)

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Of course, being the slightly obsessive-personality-disordered individual that I am, “scone” was a trigger word, and I immediately went home that night and whipped myself up a batch so that I could hoard them for the coming week.… Read more

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Vegan Coconut Scones

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I have so many updates (I mean, seriously. SO MANY!!!) for you guys from the World Food Championships over here in Kissimmee, Florida, but I can’t get into them now because we’re in the middle of soooo many crazy things and they haven’t quite sunk in as it is. But I’ll be tweeting and IGing pics as much as I can before I write my recap post (er, or posts) in a few days, so if you’re impatient then follow me on social media for the latest and greatest news!

But ermigawd I’m so excitedddddddddd. Also, please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to your comments or visit your lovely blogs in the upcoming week–I haven’t been out of the kitchen all this week!

Okay, that’s enough of a teaser for now ;) moving on!

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I made these vegan coconut scones the evening before my flight to Orlando last week–if you’ve never made scones at home before, you’re in for a real treat. Rather than being of the crumbly variety, this recipe yields a scone that is feather-light and omg-I-NEED-this-now kind of fluffy. I had neglected to ask my students whether any of them had dietary restrictions, but I love making vegan treats so I decided to try my hand at a dairy and egg-free scone.

Remember my “omg” moment like, 5 seconds ago?

Forget that for a minute. Because ermigawd these scones so gooooooooooood!

Yeah, I get excited pretty easily. But these really are amazing and simple to make!

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All it takes is some of your usual suspects: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, dairy-free margarine, etc etc. I also swapped in some coconut oil (to add that classic coconutty flavor) and some sweetened dried coconut for texture. If you’re not a fan of coconut, feel free to play around with this recipe as you like!… Read more

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Fail-Proof Baklava (if I can bake it, so can you)

Greetings from Florida!

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The weather is grubby, the condo is amaze-balls, and the adventures are just beginning over yonder in the Sunshine State. I’m sitting here in this spacious dining room with two suitcases’ worth of kitchenware sprawled over the counters, yet instead of thinking about the World Championships, all I can dream about are Disney World, Harry Potter, and endless days of buffets. Don’t worry, though! I’ve been practicing loads–not with baklava, mind you, which takes over an hour to prepare (though it’s much easier to make than you would think), but with a few special dishes that I’m excited to prepare for an actual panel of judges on Thursday. The two sort-of-secret recipes have gone through four rounds of revisions over the past few weeks (with my own friends, as well as the entire astronomy department–thank you, Anson and everybody!), so we’re keeping our fingers crossed–but all in all I’m here to have a good time, and that’s that. Wish me luck!

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In related news, I love traveling on my own. I love the feeling of connecting with random (non-creepy) strangers who just want to chat in unobtrusive ways with you.  On the first leg of my flight to Houston, I ended up seated next to a guy from Birmingham who was on his way home after a 4-month stint in LA with his firm. The next three hours flew by in a blur of increasing laughter and genuine interest, as well as a corresponding decrease in inhibition. We chatted about our families and sibs; stereotypes about Californians and Southerners, respectively; our work and school; our life goals (we’re both the same age); our travels and dreams for traveling even more. By the time our plane was about to descend, we had even had the one conversation that (to me) is a marker of a real connection: our least favorite imaginable death scenario.… Read more

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Jack Skellington Oreo Pops

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot decorate desserts for shiz. On a scale of one to disaster, I am definitely the onset of the apocalypse.

Welcome to How Not to Decorate Your Oreo Pops for Halloween 101…

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For a non-decorator, though, I have to admit that these Oreo pops are pretty damn cute anyway. Sure, they’re not chef-d’ouevres by any stretch of the imagination–but considering that I made this batch at 4 AM within 60 minutes, that’s got to count for something, right?

I made these for an adorable Halloween party that my friends over in the education/IS department threw last week. They weren’t the only themed appearances, either: there were spooky eggs, kitty litter cake, witch’s brew, and props & costumes galore!

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Last Sunday, the BIG Halloween festivities continued when my fambam and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth–Disneyland at Halloweentime is inexplicably amazing. The Dapper Dans come out to sing their ghoulish quartet songs in minor keys; the scent of pumpkin and $4.25 churros wafts through the air; the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his crew of mischievous misfits. But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret of all that made this Halloween at Disneyland the best one ever:

We ate dinner at Club 33!!!!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, Club 33 is a members-only venue located in New Orleans Square, right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Blue Bayou restaurant. Membership is something like $10K per year, with a base fee of goodness-knows-how-much and an interminable waiting list.

We had been waiting to go in for two full years now. My brother’s friend, whose dad is a member, helped us secure a spot for my very belated birthday celebration, but renovations on the restaurant set us back a solid 24 months.… Read more

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting for #OXOGoodCookies

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It’s that time of year again. OXO Cookies is supporting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and I get to share the deets with all of you!

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If you haven’t heard about them already, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity under the laws of New Jersey. Every year, they host this amazing campaign to donate funds to researching kids’ cancer. (Read: donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.)

So what does that have to do with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I’m sharing here today? I’m so glad you asked!

This month, OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign (up to their $100,000 commitment.) You can also look out for this sticker on their baking supplies, which means that they’ll be donating on your behalf when you buy labeled baking items:

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When OXO sent me this cupcake supplies set to use, I was over the moon. Last year I made these cookies for OXO and this year I decided to stick with the peanut butter theme by creating these deliciously vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The cupcake base is vegan, but you’d never guess it–it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe as well and involves literally throwing a bunch of ingredients all at once into a large mixing bowl! As for the frosting, you can’t really go wrong with PB&chocolate, can you?

No, I didn’t think so. Helloooo, best combo ever!

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If you’re looking for a great way to do good this holiday season, I totally recommend stopping by the store and buying one or all of these handy cupcake tools that I used to bake these cupcakes. I can vouch for the quality of these items: I’ve been working with OXO for nearly two years now and it’s one of the few brands I’ll trust to turn out amazing baked goods every single time.… Read more

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