Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brown Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream... and A Giveaway!!!


I cannot believe that it has been an entire year that I have been blogging!

Can you believe it!?!..... well, I can't! Where has the time gone?

Anyway, it all started with this post.

I have had so much fun sharing family recipes such as this one and this one. I've also enjoyed crafting things and posting about it.

It really has been a blast!

Another thing......

...... Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this blog. It really does mean a whole lot to me. I appreciate every comment that's been left. I love reading what you have to say...... truly, I do.

You are most certainly the best bloggity blog readers EVER!


To celebrate I wanted to bake a cake....... because, you can't have celebrations without cake, DUH!

I wanted to try my hand at making brown butter and incorporating it as an ingredient in the cake. Basically, you cook butter until it begins forming little brown bits and turns golden or slightly dark brown.

Let me tell you..... it's lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I thought the nuttiness of the brown butter cake would taste great with caramel. So I decided to make a caramel buttercream. Then, I thought I'd kick it up a notch by adding sea salt.

The nuttiness of the cake with the sweetness of the caramel all comes together with the slight saltiness of the sea salt. YUM!

Because I kinda like you, I'm giving away a Valentine care package.


In it you'll find the Be My Valentine Gift Set from Sweet Shop Lulu, the Heart Shaped Mini Pie PressJumbo Heart Sprinkles, and a Valentine Cupcake Party Pack from Wilton.

All you have to do to end up with this lovely package at your door step is answer the following question in the comment section:

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Update: This giveaway has ended!

Do you stay in and load up on chocolate and watch chick flicks (love to do this!), go out to a romantic dinner with your love bug, celebrate with friends? Spill the dirt!


One entry per person, please.
Contest ends on Wednesday, February 1st at 8pm Pacific Time.
The lucky winner will be chosen randomly.

* This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly, So Domesticated. Word.

And now for the recipe...

Brown Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

For the Brown Butter Cake:

  • 2-1/2 Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder 
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Brown Butter (Recipe Follows), Softened
  • 1-1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Whole Eggs, At Room Temperature
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1 Cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/3 Cup, Plus 2 Tablespoons Of Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • 1 Tablespoon Half & Half
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Add According To Taste
  • 1 Pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper for easy removal. 

Begin by combining the cake flour, powder, soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl cream the sugar and brown butter for 5-8  minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. Alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Divide the batter evenly into each cake pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until done. Check by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center. When it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and cool a few minutes. Loosen the sides of the cakes with a knife and remove the cakes. Cool completely on cooling racks and remove the parchment paper off of the cakes. Once cooled, wrap each cake separately with plastic wrap and place each in a large zip lock bag. Store in the refrigerator to chill. Once chilled, level each cake, if needed. Frost the cakes between, on top of, and around with Salted Caramel Buttercream. Store the frosted cake, covered, in the refrigerator. Remove 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 10 servings.

* I topped my cake with some cream puffs. I found them in the frozen section of the grocery store near the frozen pies and Cool Whip.

For the buttercream:

In a large bowl, cream the unsalted butter, caramel, half & half, vanilla, and sea salt. Add the sifted powdered sugar in a few batches at a time until combined with the butter mixture. If you want the frosting thinner, you can always add a little more half & half. Frost between, on top of, and around two 9-inch cake rounds. Store any left over buttercream in a container in the refrigerator.

Brown Butter
  • 1 Cup (2 Sticks) Salted Butter 
Place the butter in a large saucepan, preferably stainless steel, so you can see the bottom of the pan. Melt the butter on medium heat. Swirl the pan every so often so the butter cooks evenly. The butter will melt, then foam up. Continue to swirl the pan.  As the foam subsides, the butter will start to bubble. You should start to see little golden brown flecks developing in the butter. You can remove the butter at this point for a slightly brown butter. If you choose to cook the butter a little longer, watch carefully so the butter doesn't burn. 

Once my flecks began to darken from golden brown to a dark brown, I removed the saucepan from the heat. Let the brown butter cool a few minutes, so the flecks settle at the bottom of the pan. Then strain the brown butter into a heat proof bowl or container, so that most of the flecks are strained out. I left some of the flecks in my brown butter for an even more enhanced flavor. 

For this cake recipe, let the brown butter solidify. You can place it in the refrigerator to speed up this process. 


Now go enter this giveaway!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nutella and Cherry Heart Pies...


Hand pies have got to be one of my favorite treats. Along with Nutella ....... and cherries. Anything cherry, really.

If you haven't had Nutella, you must. Like right now.... get in your car, drive to the market, and pick some up... DO IT!

It's a chocolate hazelnut spread that tastes divine. I'll spread the stuff on pretty much anything.

Seriously, I will.

I saw this adorable pie press at my local craft store and just had to snatch it right up.

Actually, I snatched two of them right up.

I thought I'd include one of them in a fun Valentine care package that I'm going to be giving away as a prize for my Blogiversary coming up on the 28th. Celebrating 1 year of bloggity blogging...... woot, woot!

So consider this a little sneak peak.

Definitely check back here on Friday for the giveaway!!!

Now, for the heart pies...

The ingredients are pretty simple. All you need are some pie crusts, Nutella, and cherry preserves. An egg for an egg wash and some powdered sugar for dusting. Easy, right?

What's cool about this pie press is that it doubles as a cookie cutter....... score! I love multi-functional kitchen tools. LOVE THEM!

Now, that's a whole lotta yummy goodness right there.

Remember....... check back here Friday, January 27th for a fun Valentine Giveaway!

Nutella and Cherry Heart Pies

  • 2 Boxes (14.1 OZ) Pillsbury Pie Crusts
  • 1 Jar (26.5 OZ) Nutella Hazelnut Spread
  • 1 Jar (12 OZ) Smucker's Orchard's Finest Red Tart Cherry Preserves
  • 1 Whole Egg, For Egg Wash
  • Powdered Sugar, For Dusting (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).

In a prep bowl, whisk the egg yolk and set aside.

Remove the pie crusts from the boxes and unroll them. Working on a flat surface, use the Mini Pie Press to cut hearts out of the pie dough. Each pie crust round should yield 5 or 6 hearts. 

Place one heart cut-out into the pie press, then fill it with a tablespoon of the Nutella and a teaspoon of the cherry preserves. Take another heart cut-out and brush some of the whisked egg around the edge of the entire heart. Place the brushed side down over top of the filled heart cut-out that is in the pie press. Close the pie press, making sure to seal the two heart pieces together. Carefully remove the heart pie from the pie press and place on a lined cookie sheet. Continue this process with the remaining heart pie pieces until they are all assembled.

Brush the tops of each heart pie with the whisked egg for an egg wash. This will give the pies a golden color. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to cooling racks to cool. Serve warm with ice cream or cool completely and dust with powdered sugar. Makes 10-12 heart pies.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lemon Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Buttercream...

I've been wanting to make whoopie pies for a while now, as evident in one of my Pinterest boards.

I told you this whole Pinterest thing would be a problem. Anyway, I thought..."hmmmm, a cake mix may just work for this recipe!" And guess what?

...... It does!

Although the cake part of the whoopie pie did not come out as poofy as I'd liked, they were still delish. My kids enjoyed them, so they are definitely kiddo approved!

The raspberry buttercream with the lemony cake...... totally go together like peanut butter and jelly. For real.

I have to send some love out to Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. Her method and recipe for whipping up buttercream frosting is to die for!


Head on over there to check-out her wonderfully detailed tutorial!

I used it as a base and added fresh raspberries for this recipe. Also, if my frosting becomes to thick, I thin it out with more whole milk or half & half... depending on what I have on hand.

Now all I have to do is to try not to stuff my face with these babies. So far, I've been good. It is tempting though!

Lemon Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Buttercream

For the Whoopie Pies:

  • 1 Boxed Lemon Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Whole Eggs 

For the Raspberry Buttercream:

  • 1 Cup Salted Butter ( 2 Sticks), Softened
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 OZ. (Weight) Fresh Raspberries, Rinsed And Dried
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar (1 Pound), Sifted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, water, oil, and eggs until well combined. Set aside for about 15 minutes to thicken.

On lined cookie sheets, drop or pipe the batter by tablespoonful, about 2 inches apart. The batter will expand while baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool a few minutes on the cookie sheets before gently removing with a spatula. Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the butter, milk, and vanilla on high until light and fluffy, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Now add the raspberries and beat until well combined. Add the powdered sugar in batches until mixed in. Again, scrapping the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Place the raspberry buttercream in a piping bag with the desired tip. Flip the cooled whoopie pies so the bottoms are top side up. Pair them as best you can according to shape. Begin piping the buttercream onto one whoopie pie, starting from the edge and swirling inward. Place another whoopie pie right side up to sandwich the filling in between. Store covered in the refrigerator with parchment paper in between each pie, as they may stick. Makes 20-22 whoopie pies.  


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Queso Dip...


The one thing I love more than bread or pasta or tuna is........ cheese!

If you can top it with cheese, I'm there. Oh, so totally there.

With all the football games taking place and the Super Bowl approaching, I thought I'd make a nice cheesy dip..... queso dip, as a matter of fact.

I've never made a queso dip before and I was quite happy with how this turned out. Just make sure to keep it warm, so it doesn't coagulate. If you have a small crock-pot for dips, that will work perfectly to serve this in. If you don't have one, I suggest going out and buying one. They are pretty inexpensive and I guarantee that you will use it often. I've used mine for things like fondue and mini sausages in BBQ sauce.

By the way, I'm now on Pinterest.......

...... so, feel free to pop on by and check-out what I'm pinning. Although right now I'm just getting started and don't have too many boards as of yet.

I'm pretty sure I've doomed myself with this whole pinning thing.

Must. Detach. Myself. From. The. Computer!!!!!

Yeah, I'm doomed. DOOMED!

Queso Dip

  • 32 Ounces (Weight) Velveeta Cheese
  • 8 Ounces (Weight) Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 White Onion, Diced
  • 2 Jalapenos, Fully Or Partially Seeded, Diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • 1/3 Cup Half & Half
  • 1 Packet (1.25 OZ.) Taco Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, Or To Taste
  • 1 Can (14.5 OZ.) Petite Diced Tomatoes, Well Drained  
Begin by cubing the Velveeta and the cream cheese. Set aside in a bowl until ready to use. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter on medium heat. While the butter is melting dice the onion, jalapeno, and mince the garlic. Place in the melted butter and cook until soft.

Turn the heat to low and add the Velveeta, cream cheese, and half & half. Stir continuously until melted and combined with the onion mixture. Add the taco seasoning and cayenne pepper. Lastly gently stir in the drained tomatoes.

Transfer to a small crock-pot to keep warm. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 1-1/2 quarts of dip.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mango Strawberry-Banana Smoothie...


Well, I've been doing pretty well in my attempt to eat healthy and exercise for almost a week now. Let me tell you, I feel much better.

Oh, don't worry... I still plan on making some totally fattening things and sharing them on this blog soon.


Why deprive ourselves?

Everything tastes better with butter... and sugar... and chocolate... am I right? Sure I am.

I'm not a super big early breakfast consumer, but because I like to work-out after dropping the girls off at  school in the morning, I need to eat something so I have some energy. I also don't want to be starving during my 30 minute elliptical nightmare session. It's hard enough pushing through the work-out, so I don't want a growling stomach to go along with it.

I mean, I don't want to look like a total idiot at the gym. I know I shouldn't be self conscious while working out. Who cares... everybody is sweating and not looking their best at the gym... right? I'm always afraid I'm going to loose my footing on the treadmill or trip when getting off of the elliptical.

One time a few years back, I had a trainer. He would devise a weekly work-out plan for me and on the first day of the week he would instruct me on how to use the machines. Well, one of the machines was a pull-up machine. The one where you're up high hanging on the bars. You put your knees on a platform that moves up and down according to the weight adjustment you set. Do you know it? Anyway, getting on the thing was totally fine. Getting off...... well, that's another story.

Let's just say there was a loud crashing of about 70 pounds of weight. To top it off...... the gym was packed. Can you say mortification?

Moral of the story............... well, there really isn't one. But, what I can tell you is that this smoothie is yummy and it will keep your stomach from rumblin' and grumblin'.

Mango Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • 1 Cup Frozen Mango Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Banana, Chopped
  • 2 (4 OZ.) Containers Of Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 Cup Skim Milk
  • Non-Fat Whipped Cream
Place all the ingredients, except the whipped cream, into a blender and blend until well incorporated and smooth. Dollop with whipped cream and serve. Makes 2 small servings. 


Yours Truly..... The Self-Conscious Lady at The Gym,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garden Pasta with Creamy Lemon Sauce...


Pasta is a must in our household. We eat it quite a bit.

I like whole wheat pasta, but my girls don't. It's much better for you than regular ol' pasta... or so I've heard.

They will, however, eat garden pasta. It is high in fiber and has a nice serving of vegetables. Plus, it's really tasty.

I know creamy usually does not equal healthy, but I love creamy sauces. I thought I'd use a light sour cream, instead of a rue or heavy cream to thicken this sauce up.

The use of lemon adds a nice freshness to the dish. A hint of lemon works for me, but if you're a lemon fanatic you can always add more.

Cooking a little bit healthier doesn't mean having to give up flavor or all the foods you like.

...... Which totally rocks!

Garden Pasta with Creamy Lemon Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • 1-1/4 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1-1/2 Cup Light Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan, Divided
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Or To Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper, Or To Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Or Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Of Lemon Juice (About 1/2 Juice Of One Lemon), Or To Taste
  • 12 Ounces (Weight) Garden Delight Spaghetti Pasta, Cooked Until Al Dente And Drained

While you boil the water to cook the pasta, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Measure in the chicken broth and heat through. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Whisk in half of the parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Lower the heat to medium/low and bring the sauce to a simmer to thicken as you cook the pasta. 

After the sauce has thickened and reduced a little (about 8-10 minutes) remove from the heat. Drain and add the cooked pasta. Toss to completely coat. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over top. Serve with a salad and/or garlic bread. Makes 10 servings.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blueberry Almond Granola...


So we all know that everyone is trying to eat healthy the beginning of the New Year.

...... I am no exception.

I always set a goal to be healthier than I was the previous year. I'm going to really try to stick to my guns this time.

I told my husband the other night that I was thinking about cutting out all sugar in my diet. Then I suggested to him that maybe I try the Paleo Diet.

He said he'd support whatever I decided to do, but mentioned a few key points.

1.) I have a cooking and baking blog... how will the NO SUGAR fit into that?

2.) Cavemen hunted and gathered for their food... and the food was available according to season. Won't a diet such as this one be hard to maintain this day and age?

Yeah, I've pretty much re-evaluated my eating plans.

I could never cut out sugar ...... NEVER ...... I just figure I'll eat it in moderation. As for going Paleo...... doesn't really fit into my lifestyle.

So, after contemplating how I'm going to lose weight and get healthy...... I've decided to eat less, move more.

What I need to be doing anyway. Brilliant!

Anyway, I plan on making better food choices and exercising regularly...... and do my best to stick with it.

Over and out.

Blueberry Almond Granola

  • 2-1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Almonds
  • 1/3 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 4 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Melted
  • 2 Tablespoons Clover Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Dried Blueberry Craisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

In a large bowl combine the oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, honey, syrup, and vanilla extract. 

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. 

Evenly spread the mixture onto a large cookie sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The longer you leave the mixture in, the darker the granola will be. Once the granola is to your liking, remove from the oven and immediately stir in the dried blueberry craisins. Cool completely and eat as a snack, as a cereal with milk, or enjoy with yogurt. 


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