Category Archives: itty bites

lemonade layer cake


This cake has become a tradition for my mom’s birthday.  If you like lemon desserts, I promise you will love it!

Lemonade Layer Cake:

1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
6 T. butter, softened
1 T. grated lemon rind
3 T. thawed lemonade concentrate
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. fat-free buttermilk (or you can substitute with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice mixed with enough milk to measure up to 1 cup, and let it sit for 5 minutes)


2 T. butter, softened
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 tsp.thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with mixer at
medium speed until well blended, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda with a whisk.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Tap pans once on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pans. Cool cakes completely on wire rack. If baking the cake as cupcakes, bake them for about 20 minutes.

To prepare frosting, place 2 T. butter and the next 4 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended. Chill 1 hour.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, spread with 1/2 c. frosting. You can add berry jam on top of this layer if you’d like, or lemon curd (on the jam aisle). Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator (a large bowl works well, that way you won’t smudge the frosting). You can sprinkle the top of the cake with fresh berries before serving and it looks so pretty!

Serves 8-12, or 24 cupcakes.

ikea cookies


Have you had these before? Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve bought them several times at IKEA, and wondered if I could possibly make them myself. You know, so I won’t have to go to IKEA in order to add three thousand calories to my daily intake.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve figured it out. YES! After much scouring of the web for the recipe and not finding the right one, and experimenting and combining two or three different recipes, I’ve figured it out. And here it is for all you lovely people. ENJOY.

IKEA Dubbla Chokladflarn
{makes about 40 chocolate filled cookies}

2 1/4 c. rolled oats
10 whole almonds, finely chopped
2/3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/3 c. white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the oats in a food processor and pulse until the oats are finely chopped, but not ground to powder. Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl and add the almonds, flour, and baking powder. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and mix well. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and stir well to combine.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets (or use parchment paper). Make sure the balls of dough are no bigger than a teaspoon because they spread a lot! They will look way too tiny, but trust me…I learned the hard way! Leave 2-3 inches between each ball of dough. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove and cool completely on wire racks.

For the chocolate…I melt about 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 30- second intervals, stirring in between each interval until smooth and melted. Spread melted chocolate onto the back of one cookie and sandwich it with another similar in size and shape.

lunch and a good read

DSC_7909Yes, I admit, I do enjoy a good cookbook. I read them through like novels, and I think I actually like them more than novels because of all the gorgeous photographs to look at. The one I’ve been into lately is Jamie’s Meals in Minutes.  Love Jamie Oliver! So I spent a quick Saturday lunch with him today.

Lunch was two slices of homemade artisan bread…one topped with sliced avocado, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt.  The other spread with cranberry sauce, topped with a slice of Swiss cheese, spinach and ham. Mmmmm…


homemade tomato soup

I love the tomato soup they have at Zupa’s, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it at home. Not sure if it’s exact, but it’s pretty darn good if I do say so myself! If you like tomato soup, this will make you never want it from the can again…even my kids love it! I took two tomato soup recipes and sort of meshed them, leaving things out and adding things in as I went. Anyway, here it is. I hope you like it!
Homemade Tomato Soup

1/4 c. butter
1 onion, chopped
4 {14 oz} cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 {6 oz} can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 can chicken broth
1 c. cream
Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until they are soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cream. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes just to get the flavors going, then blend the soup with either an immersion blender or by doing batches in a regular blender. When it is all pureed, stir in the cream. Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese and homemade croutons.
Homemade Croutons
one nice French baguette
olive oil
pinch of oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt
Roughly chop the bread into bite-sized pieces. Toss the pieces into a saucepan over medium-high heat, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir occasionally until the bread is nice and toasty all around.
{I could eat the whole pan myself…}

pink poppyseed dressing

I promise you’ll like this recipe wayyyy better than yesterday’s recipe!
Brita {one of my favorite people on the planet and second-cousin on my dad’s side}, invited me and the kids up to her pretty mountainside house for lunch today. It was so nice to get out, especially with the kids being off track from school. The kids built castles and train tracks in the basement while we dished the latest for 3 1/2 hours!
She baked the best homemade mac and cheese {I need the recipe} and made a salad topped with this dressing. She made it from scratch, trying to copy the salad dressing from Kneaders. She brought some home from Kneaders, then tasted it back and forth with her own creation until they tasted exactly the same. She has a real knack for figuring out recipes like that. Anyway, she had a couple big jars of it, so she sent one home with me along with her recipe. Being friends with a cheffy person has such great benefits! :)
Try it on a salad with different lettuces, spinach, sliced strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, parmesan cheese, sunflower seeds, candied nuts, croutons, dried cranberries…just whatever you like best, really!
Brita’s Pink Poppyseed Dressing
3/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 red onion, quartered
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 t. dry mustard
Mix these together in a blender.
Then, over 30 seconds time, add the following while blending:
3/4 c. salad oil
3/4 c. corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Store in a big jar in the fridge, and then invite me over for lunch, okay?

pasta & chicken with creamy sun-dried tomato sauce

Get ready for a good dinner! This is a keeper I found in the Mary Englebreit Home Companion magazine, probably 5 years ago. I’ve modified it just slightly.
Pasta & Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
3 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts, diced into 2-inch pieces
2 T. flour
1 pound penne pasta (or any shape you like)
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 pint cream
1/2 c. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
{I get them at Costco because they cost less and they are already sliced in the jar}
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, or 3 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper
grated parmesan cheese {optional}
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet. Toss chicken in the flour, season with salt and pepper, and sear over medium-high heat, until golden brown and just cooked. Transfer to a plate.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions.
Add onion to the skillet and saute for a couple minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil to the skillet, scraping up any bits of chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in a good handful of parmesan cheese if you like.
Return the cooked chicken to the skillet to heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.
When pasta is cooked al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 c. pasta water to add to sauce if it needs more liquid, or for added richness, add more cream. Stir the pasta and sauce together in a big pretty bowl and enjoy!

last weekend at the cabin

Those were my snow boots when I was little.

{click on images for a larger view}
We spent last weekend at a the cabin with my family. Plenty of snow to play in, slippery garbage bags to wear while being pulled behind the snowmobile without a sled, homemade Oreos, laughing until there were tears, dance party, cousin bath time, naked 2-year-old zipping down the slide in the playroom, Swedish pancakes with berries and whipped cream, Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner, caramel popcorn, Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, not enough sleep, tiny snowman, playing on the swings, warming up by the fire, soaking in the hot tub, happy times!
Hawaiian Haystacks
{Perfect for a crowd! Serves about 12 people.}

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

4 c. milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken

6 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour and salt and stir. Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cream of mushroom soup and chicken. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

Serve over sticky white rice with any or all of the following toppings:

grated Cheddar cheese

chopped celery

chowmein noodles

pineapple tidbits

sweetened shredded coconut

toasted sliced almonds

chopped green onions

chopped tomatoes

sliced bananas

sliced olives