Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lime Honey Almond Cookies—Six Years of Blogging!

Lime Almond Cookies--Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free

I started my little old blog six years ago today!  So hard to believe and while my blog hasn’t evolved into the great food blogging websites that some have in that time, I’m happy to still be here.  I have discovered that baking and cooking and blogging and sharing are truly some of my passions in life and combining them all here on my little spot on the internet have been one of the greatest things for me. 

Yes, life is certainly crazy with four boys and I certainly could not be who I am in that part of my life without my amazing husband and all the wonderful family and friends around me.  I have found that I have needed and love being a small part of the food blogging world.  Times have certainly changed.  Six years ago, food blogging was still a rather new thing.  There were those already known.  When I started my blog, I actually didn’t even know about food blogging.  I just wanted to start keeping a written account of things going on with my family so I could share it with the rest of my family and friends. 

Just a few short weeks after starting to blog things that were going on, my youngest son, Sam, turned one and I posted about the lame cake I made for his birthday.  (How cute is my baby!  This picture is a lot better than the ridiculously not-that-great turtle cake I made for him.)

All my boys are growing up too fast!  Here they are almost six years ago.


Scott is now almost 16, is at least six inches taller than me, and has his driver’s permit.  Parker is 12 and finishing up the sixth grade accelerated program and getting ready for junior high (Yes, I know, for some reason it’s not called junior high anymore and is called middle school.  I was just telling Parker yesterday I will always call it junior high.  It’s kind of like how hard of a time I’ve had calling them flip flops now, they will always be that other word to me.)  Taylor is ten and lighting up our lives with his awesome talents of origami and balloon twisting that he has taught himself.  And little Sammie, he’ll be seven soon.  I can’t believe my baby is almost seven!  We need a new family picture!  That is on the list of things to do in the next year!

A lot has happened in these six years.  When I started my blog, we lived in Kansas as Kevin taught accounting at the University of Kansas.  We lived there for a total of five years, but when he did not get tenure there in 2010, we moved back home to Utah where he got a job at Utah Valley University and got tenure a year later.  We are here in Utah to stay and are happy to be near family.

Another change in our lives—in April 2012 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Can’t tell you how much I hate saying those words.  My grandmother died in 1947 at the age 24 from MS.  My mother was only about two years old.  We have always been told she had MS.  Not enough was known in 1947 to fight the things that come along with it.  It is believed she had an unknown infection that took her life.  THEN, in 1999, my sister, Mandi,  passed away at age 33 after being diagnosed at age 19 and having quite the big trials MS inflicted in her life.  We watched the disease take things from her as the short years went by.  It was definitely totally unexpected and a big shock to also be diagnosed. 

It has definitely changed my life and my family’s life.  But I plan to fight this little annoyance in my life with all I’ve got.  Right now, my biggest issue is that I always just feel tired and fatigued.  It wasn’t until all of this hit me that I really understood the difference between being tired and feeling fatigue.  Fatigue takes more out of you, you feel weak, like you just can’t do as much even if you want to.  I feel happy and blessed that I have never had to stay in bed and that I can’t take care of my family.  It has been hard for me to right how give up exercise as I was doing it before.  I will be making more adjustments, but know that getting back to some form of daily exercise for my body will be helpful.

Another thing I’ve changed is my diet.  I know it kind of stinks for a food blogger who loves baking goodies to have given up gluten and refined sugars (as well as most processed foods and some dairy).  That said, I am enjoying finding new things in the gluten free world and how enjoyable things still are using honey and dates and coconut palm sugar instead of refined sugars.  I consider it a fun challenge.  Does that mean all you’ll find on my blog now are those things?  No, I still love baking for my family and friends and do plenty of that.  I just no longer eat it.  Do these diet changes help with MS and other auto immune diseases?  Well, for myself, I don’t really know.  Everyone asks.  I made those changes last June.  I don’t know.  But I don’t really want to find out that I’d be a lot worse by trying to go back.  So here I am.

Six years later.  Happily plugging along.  This is the main reason why—Thank you, Kevin, for EVERYTHING!


Can we move on to cookies already?  I thought it would be so hard, almost impossible, to give up sweet things.  It hasn’t been that hard.  What do I really miss the most?  Sometimes I just want a good whole grain peanut butter and honey sandwich.  I have yet to find a gluten free bread as good.  I will keep searching and so far all the ones I’ve made are pretty good.  And you know what, I’m not gluten intolerant, so when really “necessary”, I do cheat.  A few times when Kevin and I have gone to dinner, I have taken a bite of one of our favorites—molten lava chocolate cake or some heavenly battered and fried artichokes we had once.  Delicious.  But I have found a bite or two and I’m okay, it’s not going to hurt me.  I’m sure I could even cheat more than that.  But I’m fine eating the things I do and don’t feel deprived.  Maybe that’s helped by not giving up chocolate.  I switched from my favorite 70% dark chocolate to eating 85%.  Now when I eat even 70%, it’s SO sweet to me.  Gotta have a little bite or two of my 85% just about everyday. 

Sometimes I don’t even have to have chocolate.  Like when I come up with cookies as good as these Lime Almond Cookies I am sharing today.  They are SO good.  And the are not only gluten free, but grain free (Paleo) as well.  They are sweetened with just a little raw honey—in other words—they are good for you! ;  )

Lime Almond Cookies--Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free 2

Lime Honey Almond Cookies, (Grain Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free) by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1  1/4 cups (120 grams) almond flour

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup (84 grams) raw honey

zest of 2 limes (about 1 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Combine the almond flour, arrowroot, salt and baking soda in a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Add the honey, zest and lime juice.  Pulse until well combined and the dough is all moist.  Add the chopped almonds and pulse a few times.  (You can also just stir them in if you want the nuts in bigger chunks.)    Form the dough into balls with a cookie scoop.  Press the dough firmly into the scoop with your fingers.  When the dough is released from the scoop, it should stay in its shape.  (You could also just form balls of dough with your hands.)  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cookies sit on baking sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 16.

Paleo Lime Almond Cookies 2-13-14

When I first tasted these, I thought they weren’t sweet enough and wasn’t all that thrilled with them.  After tasting more than one and having a few the next day, I’ve decided they are delicious.  They have a perfect chewiness to them and the lime and honey are great with the almond nuttiness.  I like them so much I came up with another version that doesn’t have lime but includes chocolate.  Stay tuned for those—and more—as I continue sharing all the things that make my life what it is.

And thank you so much to all my readers over the years.  I have made some of the greatest friends of my life, and it seems so silly to say since many I haven’t even met face to face yet.  How awesome is that!  It has been such a joy to actually meet some as well.  Kindred spirits, all of us food bloggers—what could be better than food, family and friends.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine’s Impressions Brownies

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine Impressions Brownies 2

Special thanks to Ghirardelli for sending me an amazing box of their Chocolate Valentine’s Impressions (and Easter with cute bunnies and baskets—love them).  Not only is all the chocolate great, and how fun are the Valentine messages printed on each one, but I LOVE the box they came in.  The top lifts open and it’s such a great box.  (I know, it’s the little things for me sometimes.)


Some of the Impressions on the milk chocolate squares are dark chocolate and some are white chocolate.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Impressions

Run to your nearest store and get some of these for your special Valentine!  I saw them at Target and was going to make sure to tell you that, but I also just saw them at our local grocery store, so I’m sure you can find them all over the place, wherever Ghirardelli chocolate is sold.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine's Impressions 3

Which would you like more—the white chocolate or dark chocolate?  I prefer to eat dark chocolate, but I love the way the white looks.    I wanted to make something yummy (read—chocolaty) with these, so I made brownies that were full of white chocolate, then I put the Impressions on the top.  Yes, I know it warped the chocolates a bit, but they were still delicious and fun.  You could just make the brownies then once they are cooled and cut you could lay a chocolate on the top, but I wanted them to stick, so they needed to melt a little.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine's Impressions Brownies 4

These were gobbled up here at my house.  You don’t HAVE to add the extra white chocolate to the brownies, but if you’re going to make chocolate brownies, you might as well go all out with the chocolate.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine’s Impressions Brownies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup natural cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (45 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces white chocolate bar, chopped

9 squares of Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine’s Impressions, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9 inch square baking pan with nonstick foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, let the stick of butter start melting over medium-low heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk together until all combined and the butter is melted.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes (to cool slightly).  Add the eggs and whisk to combine.  Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until well combined.  Stir in the flour and salt just until the flour is all combined.  Pour half the batter in the pan and spread evenly.  Lay the chopped white chocolate in an even layer over the batter then drizzle evenly the rest of the batter over the white chocolate.  Bake brownies for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Let cool for a few minutes while you unwrap the chocolates.  Set the Impressions chocolate evenly over the brownies.  You can decide how soon after the come out of the oven to do it with how much you want the chocolates to melt.  Let the brownies cool completely. (You can set them in the fridge, too, which hardens up the chocolate faster.)  Remove from the pan by lifting the foil edges.  Remove the foil and cut the brownies in to squares on a cutting board. 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Valentine Impressions Brownies

If you’d like a thicker brownie, you can bake them in an 8 inch square pan.  This is my go-to brownie recipe that I add all kinds of mix-ins to when I make brownies.  Man, I want one.   Thank you so much, Ghirardelli.  Now I’m already excited for Easter, too.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Vegan Oat Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)—#ElleAPalooza, In Remembrance of Elle

Vegan Oat Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, gluten free 3

You would NEVER guess that these packed-full-of-goodness cookies are vegan.  They are also gluten free and made with organic evaporated cane juice sugar.  All that said, I would consider them health food!

It’s with heavy heart that I write this post and share these delicious cookies with you.  The food blogging community recently lost someone we all loved, if even from our own computers, many having never met her in person, me included.  Elle from Elle's New England Kitchen, only 45 years young, a wife, mother of four and quite the firecracker, passed away suddenly on January 29th from a pulmonary embolism.  I have sure been thinking so much about her family and knowing they are the ones truly suffering.  I really did not know Elle very well (as she was called, though her name is Lee Ann), but we were Facebook friends and I enjoyed her blog for a number of years.  Not only that, but she always found and posted the best videos and photos of animals, cute and funny ones.  She was definitely an animal lover.


This might be one of my favorite videos of all time, Elle posted it two weeks or so before she died and she and I laughed and talked about it that day.  I, along with my boys, have probably watched this video 100 times.


Thanks, Elle!  I just love this and so many other things you brought to life. 

Including these cookies.  Along with many other bloggers, we decided to have this weekend’s posts be all about/for Elle.  Many of us chose something from her blog to make and share in her honor and in remembrance of her.  What do you think was the first thing I looked at from her blog?  Cookies, of course.  I was delighted to find these cookies.  Elle and her family often ate vegan, just because.  She made hers with dried cherries and walnuts.  I could have sworn I had some naturally sweetened dried cherries, but I couldn’t find them, so I ended up using some fruit juice sweetened cranberries.  THEN, as I was toasting the last of my walnuts, I burned them, so I used pecans.  No matter—you could use any dried fruit and nuts in these and they’d still be great.  Besides being packed with fruit and nuts, these have oats and chocolate chips.  Heavenly.  I want to go make some more right now!  I could just eat all the cookie dough—it’s vegan, no eggs—and so good. 

Vegan Oat Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free) 1-30-14

These are still a bit of a splurge for me as I rarely eat/use even organic cane sugar, but this time I did and these cookies were a great treat!

Vegan Oat Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Elle's Kitchen

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar

1/2 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon sunflower butter or cashew or almond butter, or tahini

1/4 cup almond milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Premium Gold ancient grains gluten free flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1  1/4 cups gluten free oats

3/4 cup fruit juice sweetened dried cranberries

3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl, combine the sunflower butter and almond milk and whisk together (this is the vegan egg replacement). Let sit.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and molasses using a fork to mix it together well.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the coconut oil and sugar mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Stir in the sunflower butter/almond mixture, as well as the vanilla and almond extract.  Add the gluten free flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, salt and oats.  Stir until all combined.  Stir in the cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips. 

Scoop dough balls (about golf ball sized) onto baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes.  Let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes then move to a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 20 cookies. 

Vegan Oat Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, gluten free 2

Many other bloggers are also posting delicious things from Elle’s blog.  You can check them out on Facebook at #ElleAPalooza.  What can you take from Elle’s passing, besides some great things she shared on her blog—always take the time to let those you love know how you feel, you just never know when it might be your last opportunity.  Thank you for that, Elle, and so much more.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake Crisp—Lucky Leaf Pie Filling and Giveaway

Cherry Cheesecake Crisp with Lucky Leaf Pie Filling 2-5-14

First of all, don’t you just love these colorful, square ramekins?  I think they are so cool and cute and fun.  Guess what?  One lucky reader can enter the giveaway I’m having from Lucky Leaf (Premium Pie Filling).


You can win your own Rachael Ray Bubble & Brown Square Singles Stoneware Set and some pie filling, courtesy of Lucky Leaf.  I received a set of the stoneware and some pie filling, too.  Thanks, Lucky Leaf!  While I’m not currently eating sugar (or gluten), so I didn’t get to try this cherry cheesecake dessert I came up with, my boys and husband ate it up.  Kevin loves cheesecake and they all love cherry pie filling. 

This cherry cheesecake crisp was so easy.  I wanted to make something that didn’t take a lot of time and when Kevin suggested cheesecake I knew that wasn’t as easy as he was thinking.  So I kind of just winged it and came up with this simple no bake version.  I didn’t really want to bother with a crust on the bottom, so I made a quick graham cracker granola to sprinkle on the top.  Kevin said it was really good (and he’s not really a granola or graham cracker fan).  He also liked that the cheesecake wasn’t too sweet.  He really doesn’t like super sweet things.  He said the cherry pie filling added just the right amount of sweet to this.  For making something up on the fly, hearing him say it was actually really good made me quite happy.

Graham Cracker Granola

The granola takes the longest for this and it’s super simple to whip up, the longest thing is waiting for it to bake in the oven and then cool.  You can make it ahead of time and store it in an airtight container.  There is plenty of it left that I’ll be making these individual cheesecakes again soon.  Raspberry pie filling sounds good, or strawberry…..ooh, peach.  The list could go on and on. 

Cherry Cheescake Crisp with Lucky Leaf Pie Filling

I love that Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Filling doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup.  And the cherry filling is FULL of cherries.  There was enough to make these four individual desserts and would have made a fifth, but one of my sons just prefers to eat the cherry filling without the cheesecake, so I left him some!

Cherry Cheesecake Crisp, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

6 ounces of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 ounces whipped topping (or you can use real whipped cream that is whipped first)

1—21 ounce can of Lucky Leaf cherry pie filling (or flavor of your choice)

For the granola:

1 cup old fashioned oats

4 graham crackers (2 ounces)

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon honey  (you can cut a little of the brown sugar and add more honey if you’d like)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a 1/4 sheet baking sheet with parchment paper.   In a food processor pulse the graham crackers until mostly finely ground (a few pieces are okay).  Or crush the graham crackers in a plastic zip top bag.  In a bowl, combine the oats, graham crackers, brown sugar and salt.  Mix together.  Add the oil, honey and vanilla and stir until all combined.  Pour the granola mixture onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and don’t touch until cool.  Break into pieces for the tops of the cherry cheesecake (there will be some small, crumbly pieces and that’s okay).

While the granola is baking/cooling, combine in an electric mixer bowl the cream cheese, lemon juice and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Add the sugar a little at a time while it is beating.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the whipped topping and beat until all combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and clean off the paddle attachment.  Fold it all together with a spatula to make sure it is well combined.  Spoon some of the cheesecake filling evenly into each ramekin.  Spread it evenly.  Add cherry pie filling to the top of the cheesecake.  Sprinkle with Graham Cracker Granola.  Serve and/or keep refrigerated until serving.  Store extra granola in an airtight container.

Cherry Cheesecake Crisp 2-5-14

Want some other recipe inspiration?  Check out all the recipes at Lucky Leaf.

If you’d like a chance to win that colorful stoneware set and some Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Filling, all you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment here on this post telling me what your favorite dessert is using pie filling.  Again, check out the recipes at Lucky Leaf if you need some help there.  For a second entry, follow Lucky Leaf on Pinterest  (#LoveableLuckyLeaf ) and leave me a comment here that you are now following them.

This contest is open to US residents only and will close by Wednesday, February 12 at 5 p.m. MST.  The winner will be notified by email, so make sure I have a way to contact you.

***Congratulations to Comment #4 Pam!  Your comment was chosen by the random generator and your giveaway package is on the way!  --Katrina, 2-13-14

Pam said...

I love to make cobblers with Pie Fillings so fast and simple and tastes like you have been slaving

February 06, 2014 3:54 PM

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Bombs—World Nutella Day

Raw Cacao Hazelnut Bombs 2-5-14

I couldn’t forget that today is World Nutella Day.  Unfortunately, I’m not eating Nutella right now (no sugar for me).  I know, SO SAD.  If it will help my health, it’s all worth it, right?  I still just HAD to make something with that chocolate-hazelnut combination, so I whipped up some quick, healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Bombs.  They are the bomb, hence the name.

These are a perfect treat for me (and anyone else!).  They happen to be refined sugar free, gluten free, grain free (which means Paleo), but they certainly have that taste to remind me of Nutella deliciousness. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Bombs (Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups hazelnuts

4 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

3/4 cup pitted dates (chopped to check for any seeds!)

2-3 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)

2 tablespoons almond milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put hazelnuts on baking sheet spread in one layer.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Remove as much of the skins as possible by putting the nuts on a towel, wrapping it up and squeezing the nuts inside the towel.  Most of the skins will come off.  You don’t need to worry about the stubborn skins. 

When the nuts are separated from the skins, put them in a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts are coarsely ground.  Add the dates and continue pulsing until it starts to combine.  Add the cacao/cocoa powder and one tablespoons of honey and pulse until all combined and the nuts break down even more.  Add another tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of almond milk.  Pulse again and check for consistency.  The mixture will start to ball up around the blade.  Taste and decide if you’d like a bit more honey and/or almond milk to combine it all together.  Roll in to about one inch balls.  Makes 16-20.  Keep refrigerated if you’re not eating them.

World Nutella Day Logo - February 5th

Check out all my World Nutella Day posts from years past. 

2013--Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies (Some of these were sandwiches with Nutella, like in the photo.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies 2-4-13

2012--Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies and Nutella Frosted Nutella Brownies

Nutella Chunk Cookies

Frosted Nutella Hazelnut Brownies 1-31-12

2011--Nutella Banana Oatmeal and Nutella Truffle Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Nutella Banana Oatmeal

Nutella Truffle Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies (2)

2010—I missed it! Sad smile

2009--Chocolate Graham Cracker Nutella S'mores

Chocolate Graham Cracker Nutella S'mores

Sheesh, after looking at all these Nutella treats, I need to go have one or ten of my Chocolate Hazelnut Bombs.

Check out World Nutella Day on Facebook and Twitter #nutelladay and other social media sites. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms—The Secret Recipe Club

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Frosting

Could you just look at and drool over this cupcake all day?  I could.  I practically did the day I made them.  Proud to say I didn’t even taste a cupcake.  Proud and sad.  I am not currently eating gluten and sugar, as many know, but I love making things with those ingredients for others.  And I will admit, I tasted the frosting.  It needed to be done.  Quality control, you know. 

This recipe for these awesome, perfect Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting is from my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment this month.  I had the pleasure of having Angela’s blog, Spinach Tiger this month.  I got to make something from her blog last year, too, as I filled in for someone at the last minute who wasn’t able to do so.  Last October I was in a hurry to pick something to make and made her delicious Banana Bread.  This month, since her blog was my “real” assignment, I spent a lot of time looking through all her posts and trying to decide what to make.  I actually chose her Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms.  It was on my list to make for a few weeks.  Then I noticed one of her more current posts for Shaved Raw Brussel Sprout with Raw Beet Pesto.  I had everything to make that salad except the Brussel spouts.  So I went out and got the sprouts.  And I haven’t had the chance to make the beet pesto and salad yet—but don’t worry—I WILL.  Everything about it sounds so good to me. 

I have been a little low on energy lately and all the sudden was freaking out last week that I still hadn’t made the soup or salad from Angela’s blog.  What did I do about that?  Instead of just making one of those things, I looked through her blog again for more ideas.  I’m so silly that way—or am I?  While checking out her desserts, since that is really what I love the most, I ran into these cupcakes and can’t believe I missed them before.  I eat quite healthy, tons of fruits and vegetables, very little meat and only gluten free, refined sugar free desserts, but I really do prefer to make, bake and post desserts.  Maybe it’s because I feel like I get better pictures of things like cupcakes and cookies and photographing a bowl of soup just doesn’t do much for me.

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting 2 I decided to get to work and make what Angela has claimed as the “Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting”.  I am so happy I did—see, not so silly.  Now I have a perfect chocolate cake recipe that was simple and I had all the ingredients on hand and most often do have them.

Since she mentioned that the recipe made a lot of cake, I decided to cut it in half.  The half recipe still made 20 cupcakes.  I made the full recipe of frosting since she also mentioned you can never have too much frosting.   The day I made them, I only frosted nine cupcakes.  I froze the rest of the cakes and have refrigerated the frosting to use next week.

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting 1-29-14 “One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?”

(Remember this song from Sesame Street?)

If you guessed the cupcake in the middle, you’d be right.  Why would anyone want to eat a cupcake with such a small amount of frosting?  Only if you’re my husband who doesn’t really care much for cake and really doesn’t like frosting.  So that was his cupcake and I frosted eight more the correct way for the boys (they each got two).  The cupcakes and frosting were a big hit with the boys and the little bit of frosting I tasted was delicious.

Besides cutting the recipe in half, I didn’t change a thing about Angela’s recipe.  So if you’re looking for a great chocolate cake recipe, run, don’t walk to go get it on her blog--Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Chocolate Fudge Frosting.

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

These baked perfectly in 18 minutes and came right out of the pan (sometimes if a little of the top of the cupcake went over the sides, it sticks with other cakes I’ve made).  That did not happen here. 

The only thing I would mention about the recipe, which is silly of me to have not done completely is to always use room temperature ingredients—including things like buttermilk.  My butter and eggs were room temperature, but I used cold buttermilk, which I was worried about when I saw the butter kind of chunk back up a bit.  Never fear—this recipe is also so easy that you just mix all the ingredients and beat them like crazy (in a mixer) for 3 minutes.  Though I was still worried about the little bits of butter I saw in the batter, I baked them anyway and there was no trace of unincorporated butter in the cupcakes.  (Yay!)  I would still suggest to make sure to use all room temperature ingredients.  I made sure all the ingredients for the frosting was room temperature and that is some delicious frosting!

Angela suggested for the frosting to begin with 3/4 cup of cream and to just use enough until you like the consistency of the frosting.  I ended up using 1/2 cup before I was satisfied.  The half recipe made 20 cupcakes and I made the full recipe of frosting.  After frosting eight cupcakes, it will be enough to frost the remaining dozen when I get them out of the freezer in a few days. 

Best Homemade Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

So the cupcakes were/are awesome!  A couple days ago, my ten year old stayed home from school sick (just a little cold).  I mentioned to him that I’d been really wanting to make split pea soup.  When I told him it has mushrooms in it he was no longer interested.  I made the soup anyway, but instead of adding the mushrooms, I just left them to spoon into my own bowl.  He got what he wanted, soup, split pea soup, with no mushrooms and I FINALLY got to make Angela’s Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms.

Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms and Croutons

I halved this recipe and wish I wouldn’t have so I’d have more to eat.  I’m usually the only one here who will eat split pea soup.  Taylor (the one who was sick) likes all kinds of soup and was excited to try this (minus the mushrooms).  He really liked the soup, even without mushroom and croutons (they were gluten free) and asked me when I was going to make it again.  The half recipe was just enough for the two of us for lunch and for me to have for dinner the next day.

Angela mentioned that her mother said you should never eat split pea soup without croutons.  I don’t think I’d ever eaten it WITH croutons.  I was excited to have the end piece of some gluten free bread I’d made left.  I cubed it up and toasted it in a sauté pan with a little olive oil.  After they’d nicely browned on each side, I sprinkled a little garlic salt on them.  Awesome.  My soup (in the photo) had the sauteed mushrooms in it and was topped with croutons and some shavings of parmesan cheese.  It was a great vegetarian soup.

Split Pea Soup with Baby Bella Mushrooms and Croutons, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Angela at Spinach Tiger

1 cup dried split peas

4  1/2 cups water

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 medium sized carrot, finely diced

1 rib celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

juice and zest of about 1/4 of a lemon

8 ounces baby bella mushroom, chopped

dash of crushed red pepper

half a bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan cheese, for top of soup

In a soup pot, add the olive oil and over medium heat, sauté the carrots, shallot and celery until soft.  Add the split peas, water, basil, bay leaf, lemon juice and zest.  Simmer for 35 minutes.  Add some salt and pepper and taste and adjust seasoning.  Remove the bay leaf.  You might want/need to add a little water here.  I added about 1/2 cup.

While the soup is simmering, sauté the mushrooms in a little olive oil.  Let them get nicely browned.  Add a little salt once they are done.  You can add them all to the soup when it is just about done, or add them to individual bowls if you are feeding some who don’t like mushrooms. 

Make croutons by toasting some cubed bread (I used some homemade gluten free bread) them with a little olive oil in a sauté pan.  Move them around and flip them on to each side until they are browned.  Sprinkle them with some garlic salt. 

Serve bowls of soup with croutons and shredded or shaved parmesan soup. 

Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms and Croutons 1-29-14Delicious food over at Spinach Tiger.  Check out Angela’s blog.  I will make that Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Red Beet Pesto SOON!