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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Firecracker Red White and Blue Cake

The 4th of July is this coming Thursday, so I thought it was appropriate to have RED, WHITE, and BLUE week.

I love the 4th of July. Growing up we always went to a neighboring town and watched my Grandpa ride in the parade. Some years he would have a big float, other years he would drive one of his antique cars. It was fun to see the excitement of the parade and see family that we didn't necessarily see any other time of the year. The parade was usually followed by a big family bbq where everyone would bring a dish to pass. So that also means lots of YUMMY food.

I hope that you all enjoy the recipes this week.. and enjoy your 4th of July.

So before I get to into this recipe. Take a deep breathe, trust me its not as hard as it looks.. It is actually quite easy if you follow instructions.

Has anyone been watching the new baking show with Jeff Foxworthy as the host, I must admit I am loving it. My dream would be to be on it next year... A couple of weeks a go they had to do a cake with a design on the inside. They had some elaborate cakes, and I was like that is amazing. Then when I was researching 4th of July ideas I saw this cake and was thinking it would be a good first baby step to try this out.

1 Boxed White Cake Mix
Water, vegetable oil, and egg whites (called out on the box)
blue food coloring
red food coloring
1 container white frosting
1 container of red, white and blue sprinkles

Set the over for 325 deg and grease a bundt pan. I used butter spray for my grease. 

Make the cake mix per the directions on the box. The cake mix I got required 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 3 egg whites. Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix till they are all moist on low for about 30 seconds. Then mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Take out one cup of batter and put into a seperate bowl and add the red food coloring. It took me a lot of food coloring to get the color that I wanted. I have to admit I added it slowly.. and ended up with 85 drops. Yes 85 drops. Luckily for you I had a mishap getting the first one out of the pan, so on my redo I found out that 85 drops equals at tsp. So if you add a tsp of red food coloring you will get a good red color. This is your red layer.

Take out another cup of the white batter and put it in a separate bowl. Add the blue food coloring. It took about 9 drops of blue food coloring to get a good color that I liked. As you guessed this is your blue layer.

Put the red layer in the bottom of the pan.

Then add the white batter. Do not mix them!

Then add the blue batter, keeping it toward the center vs going all the way to the edges.

Bake per directions on the box. I baked mine for 36 minutes, which was the high end of the range.

Now pay attention... After taking it out of the oven wait 15 MINUTES to take it out of the pan. If you do this then you will get a beautiful cake like this one.

If you get confused and choose to follow a recipe on the internet instead of the 15 minutes the cake box tells you. You will have an epic fail like this one.

So wait 15 MINUTES.. and life will be good.

Divide the frosting into thirds. Microwave the first bowl for 10 seconds and sprinkle on the cake, this is your white frosting layer. Take the second bowl and microwave for the same 10 seconds and put 3 drops of blue food coloring. Sprinkle on the cake, this is your blue food frosting layer. Then microwave the last bowl and add 9 drops of red food coloring. Sprinkle on the cake and you have all your RED, WHITE, and BLUE frosting layers. Sprinkle the top with the SPRINKLES.

TADA! You have a beautiful Firecracker Cake for the 4th of July.

Now cut a piece and enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from the betty crocker website.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mini Loaf Banana Bread

We were getting ready to leave for vacation and the last week at work was pretty crazy for both Jim and I. Lots of meetings and catching up on the things that we were going to miss the following week. I had bought this batch of bananas and we had never gotten around to eating them. I hate to see food go to waste so I was like what I am going to do with these tired bananas.

Did you know that ripe bananas are also called tired bananas? I saw that in a recipe once and thought it was so cute. So now I always like to throw in the term tired instead of ripe.

Anyway its the night before we are going to leave. Jim is exhausted and needing to mow the lawn and I am trying to pack and get everything ready and I decide I need to make banana bread with these bananas. I have to admit that I didn't have a go to banana bread recipe. So I searched the web and I found this recipe for mini loaves of banana bread.

I was like perfect... we can test one tonight, give one to the friend who is watching Ginny dog, and freeze one. Perfect!

The recipe turned out perfect and was super yummy! BTW did you know that banana bread always tastes better the next day. It allows time for the taste of the bananas to seep in.

This recipe is for three loaves.. Change the qty of each ingredient to match the number of loaves you would like.


 9 Tbsp shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
1.5 cups mashed bananas (I used 4 average sized bananas)
 9 Tbsp chopped walnut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I feel for breads especially its important to preheat the oven early to make sure its up to the temperature that you expect.

In a bowl cream together the shortening and sugar, I did this in my stand mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a seperate bowl compine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add part of this to the creamed mixture and then add a portion of the mashed bananas. Do this again until the dry mixture and mashed bananas are completely integrated into the batter. 

Fold in the walnuts.


Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

This is important, cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan. The time to remove the bread is critical for it coming nicely out of the pan. Once I learned this I always set a timer for the time of removal, so that I dont forget. If you do that it should come out nice, and make you smile.

Eat and Enjoy, Give to a Friend for them to Enjoy, or Freeze and Enjoy later!

This recipe was originally from the taste of home website.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Banana Peanut Butter Bomb Smoothie

While we were in Florida we ate at this great little bakery and sandwich shop. They had smoothies that looked awesome. I decided that I wanted to try replicate a few at home and share them on the blog. This one is filled with frozen bananas so it is perfect for bananas for breakfast week.

This creation of mine is super COLD, CREAMY, and THICK. Of coarse it is also super yummy. I'm hoping to get back in my habit of running in the morning. I'm thinking that these would be a good reward.


3 ripe banannas frozen
1 (5.3 oz) container of greek vanilla yogart
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp honey

Start out by cutting the bananas in slices and freezing them. I did mine the night before and they were perfect the next day.

Add all the ingredients into the blender, and puree until smooth. This may take a couple of minutes, since the bananas are frozen. You may also want to stop the blender half way through and wipe the sides, to make sure all the peanut butter gets mixed in.

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

This recipe was originally posted on Laura's Baking Talent.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

International House of Pancakes Banana Nut Pancakes

We just got back from a week long vacation in Florida. We went down for Jim's friends wedding and decided to extend the stay since we were already paying the airfare to get down there. We spent a couple of nights in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Vero Beach. We got lots of sun (a start to our summer tans), pool time, and got to walk the beaches. This was a great start to our Michigan summer where I hope we take more time to enjoy our yard and our beaches here. I would also like to find a friend with a pool for the pool time, but that might be stretching it a bit.

Moving on from the happy post vacation buzz I am happy to say that the blog has also reached its one month anniversary. YEAH! Thanks for all of those that have been reading and enjoying the posts. I would like to get more readers, so if you have friends or family that would be interested... please please feel free to share.

This week we will be doing a Bananas for Breakfast theme... starting with Banana Nut Pancakes which are based off the version you would get at IHOP.

One of the ingredients is banana extract, which honestly I had never heard of before. I looked for it in the spice aisle of our local grocery store and sure enough there it was... and trust me its is yummy in these pancakes.

McCormick Banana, Imitation Extract, 1-Ounce


1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp banana extract
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 banana

* If you do not have buttermilk on hand, which I never do. Then you can do this easy substitution. 1 Tbsp of lemon juice per 1 cup of milk, and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Put all of the ingredients except for the pecans and banana in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer. Mix until it is smooth.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and coat with butter or non stick spray once it is hot.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. The pancakes will grow to about 4 inches in diameter, if you are planning to do more than one pancake in the pan at a time. After you add batter, put in 1/2 Tbsp of pecans on top. This will allow them to be cooked into the pancakes.

Cook the pancakes about 1-2 minutes and then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut up the banana and put it on top of a stack of 3-4 pancakes and sprinkle on the remaining pecans.

Eat and Enjoy!

We had a lot of batter left over after we had made a stack for both Jim and I to enjoy.. so we put the remaining batter in the fridge. We used it about a week later, and it was still great.

This recipe came from the Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

As I was searching the web for strawberry shortcake ideas the strawberry shortcake dolls kept popping up. I remember having one when I was little and her friends Blueberry Muffin and Lemon Meringue. They all lived in a big Strawberry with their clothes. The latch on the strawberry eventually broke and I remember having to carry it very carefully, and there was a trick to close it...

Do girls today still love strawberry shortcake? I hope so. I read the wikipedia article about strawberry shortcake, and I think that I missed out on a lot of the "friends". Butter Cookie, Lime Chiffon, Raspberry Tart... I could do a blog theme for each character. I'm really kidding. I just thought it was funny that the doll came up when I was searching for recipes.

So back to Strawberry Shortcake the food :) I have to admit that of all the things I bake I really do love cookies the most. So when I found this strawberry shortcake cookie recipe I was ecstatic.

I made these late at night after work and they turned out amazing. I have to admit that we ate more than we should have after they were frosted. They also stored well in the fridge for the next couple of days.

The cookies have an interesting texture they are really like a shortbread cookie, thick sweet and addicting.



2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 deg and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix together the butter, shortening, and sugar until creamed together. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients: baking powder, salt and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the bowl.

Roll the dough into large walnut size balls and place on the parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake them for 8-9 minutes.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack. While the cookies cool make the strawberry frosting.



1 cup butter
1/2 cup strawberries
4-5 cups powdered sugar

Puree the strawberries in a food processor. They will form about a 1/4 cup of pureed strawberries. 

Beat butter in mixer with paddle attachment until it is fluffy. Add 4 cups of the powered sugar and beat until well mixed.  Add the strawberry purree to the frosting. Make sure it is well combined. Beat in more powdered sugar if needed to get the texture that you need.

Frost the cookies and enjoy!

This recipe originally appeared on glorious treats.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stawberry Short Cake Cupcakes

Ok... I have to start out by giving a disclaimer on this recipe. It is kind of a lot of work to make these cupcakes. There are lots of steps, and it takes some time to prep. However I also have to admit that they taste like little pieces of heaven. I actually sighed when I bit into mine. That really says a lot since I make and taste a lot of baked goods.

So here it goes Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes...

Start by making the strawberry filling

Ingredients for Filling

2 cups diced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Place the diced strawberries in a pan over minute heat and stir for 4 minutes constantly. Add the sugar and cornstarch and stir constantly for another 2 minutes. The mixture should become thick after you have added the sugar and cornstarch. Take it off the heat and let it cool while you continue to make the cupcakes.

Ingredients for Cupcakes

1 cup sugar1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 egg whites
1/4 cup yogurt
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 and 2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

To make the cup cake mix together the sugar and melted butter. I did this in a regular bowl by hand, so you do not need a mixer for this recipe. Then add in the egg whites, yogart, milk and vanilla. Mix until everything is combined well.

In a seperate bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until there are no lumps.

Put batter into cupcake liners, it will make 12 cupcakes. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Make sure the cupcakes cool completely before adding the filling or frosting.

The next step is to fill the cupcakes. Cut a hole in the top of the cupcake about half way through the cup cake and take the piece out. Fill the empty hole with the filling that you made earlier. Put the piece that you cut out back on the cupcake. Don't worry if it doesn't fit quite right, it will be hidden by the frosting.
Do this for all 12 of the cupcakes. Its now time to make the frosting.

Ingredients for Whipped Cream Frosting

1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
remaining strawberry filling

Mix the together the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla with mixer until stiff peaks form. This will take about 4-5 minutes. Then add the strawberry filling and mix for another 30 secs. Once done frost the cupcakes. If you have extra strawberries, put one on top of each cupcake.

Eat and Enjoy! These are amazing and worth the hard work. I always make half batches so we only had six and I wish I had made more of these. 

This recipe originally appeared on Sally's Baking Addiction.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Traditional Strawberry Shortcake

Not sure if I've mentioned this before or not but I live in the great state of Michigan. Its officially strawberry season and all of the local towns are having their Strawberry festivals. Its a great time to go out and enjoy the nice weather before it starts to get to hot and enjoy some STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. That is right you guessed it. Its officially strawberry shortcake week.

This week started with the posts that you will see later this week, trust me you will want to come back and look they are fantastic... but I wanted to start with a traditional strawberry shortcake recipe. Sometimes you just want the traditional dessert right?

It took me awhile to find a recipe that I wanted to use on the web. For starters a lot of them wanted you to use heavy cream, and it was a Sunday morning and I just didn't want to want to leave the house to get heavy cream. Then I realized a lot of them were in 8 inch round cake pans, which is ok since I have obviously have an 8 inch cake pan. The odd thing was that they would show these perfect round cut outs the size of biscuits from the round 8 inch cake pan... and the baking side of me was like that seems like a lot of work. The engineering side of me concluded that there would be lots of wasted shortcake that way. Taking rounds out of a round. So I finially landed on this recipe that took no heavy cream (yeah!) and baked in a 9 inch square pan.. and it said it was award winning. Ok I am in.

This is the recipe for the base:


2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Cream together the sugar and shortening, I did this in my stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine the salt, flour, and baking powder. Add about half the dry mixture and half the milk, mix till combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining milk and mix till combined again.

Put in a greased 9x9 square pan and bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated 350 oven. Cool completely on a wire rack if you have one.

This is a picture of my shortcake right out of the oven. Yum!

While the cake is cooling mix prepare your strawberry topping.

Strawberries 4 cups
1/4 cup Sugar

I had a little over a quart of strawberries which was a good 4 cups of berries. To prepare the strawberries cut off the stems and then slice them into smaller pieces. I picked up this awesome strawberry slicer at a local cooking show. It is really fun and easy to use. You can take some aggression out on those strawberries :) I found a similar one MSC Joie Simply Slice Strawberry Slicer if you are interested.

Once the strawberries are cut up cover them with the sugar and let them sit for 20 minutes. During this time they will macerate. Make sure you put them strawberries in a bowl that is big enough to fit your potato masher.

Macrerate: to soften or decompose (food) by the action of a solvent.

After 20 minutes mash the strawberries. Store in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Final assembly:

Cut a piece of shortcake out of the pan. Then cut it in half. Put the bottom layer on the plate, and top with strawberries. Add the second layer of cake and add more strawberries. Then top with some whipped cream. I used cool whip, but you could make your own if you like.

The base recipe originally came from the taste of home website. The topping originally came from the simply recipes website.

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spiced Up Campfire Smores

Ok.. admit it most everyone loves a smore... but sometimes it would be nice if there was something a little more to it... Its ok you can admit it... it would be fun to try something different.

What if you add a little strawberry to your smore....

Or if you added a little peanut butter or even crazier added a Reese peanut butter cup.... Its ok the Reeses and Hersheys will mix well in your mouth....

Or perhaps you would like an Elvis smore with banana and peanut butter....

And every smore party should have fun drinks. This is one of my favorite wines from one of our local wineries. Even if you are not drinking it by a campfire with smores, you take one sip and you feel like you are at a campfire eating smores.

I have to admit my dad is not a big smore fan... he will in fact take his candy bar and save it for later. Because as he suggests nothing is better than a hershey bar :) This is Jim saving a candy bar similar to my father.

Father's day is this coming weekend, perhaps I should send my dad some Hershey bars : )

I hope everyone enjoys the time with their fathers this weekend!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

S'more Puppy Chow

I posted this picture on my facebook account before starting the blog officially and I almost instantly got a question that asked what makes it "smore" puppy chow. Well it is smore puppy chow because the base is golden graham cereal vs the normal chex cereal and it of coarse has marshmallows.

Once again this is super easy and it only took me about 15 minutes to make and there is no baking, which I know some people love. It is awesome because it packs well so it could be a great snack or a gift for someone.

Have a borrowed Tupperware bowl.. perhaps return it with a little bit of this smore puppy chow :)


1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups golden graham cereal
 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Measure out the powdered sugar and put in a ziplock bag, the last step will be for you to cover your finished puppy chow with this powered sugar.

Like any no bake recipe I recommend that you have all the ingredients ready and measured, so there is no accidental drama. Put the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a large saucepan over low heat. I used the pan that I normally use for chili because you will want enough room to mix everything later on. Stir the chocolate and peanut butter constantly until it is melted. Add half the marshmallows and stir until they are mostly melted. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the cereal and the rest of the marshmallows.

Make sure the cereal and marshmallows are completely covered with the chocolate and peanut butter mixture.  Once complete pour the whole mixture into the prepared ziplock bag with powdered sugar. Shake the bag until each piece is covered with powdered sugar.

The puppy chow is now ready to eat. Yum! I cut this recipe in half when I made it from its orginal so if you have a big group you may want to double the ingredient qtys I have here.

This recipe originally appeared on

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Smore Cookie Bars

So its officially S'MORE week! 

I follow quite a few food and baking blogs out there on the web. Every once in a while I will see a recipe and it haunts me until I actually get to make the recipe. If the recipe is great than that's great, if the recipe isn't great and doesn't meet my expectations its extremely disappointing.

 I'm not sure if anyone else out there gets haunted by recipes.. but if you do then you should definitely get haunted by this recipe. It is ABSOLUTELY fantastic. For starters it is one of the easiest cookie bars that I have made..secondly it looks AWESOME. Look at those HERSHEY BARS on top.. I mean its a dessert with little pieces of hershey goodness. Lastly but certainly not least these taste AMAZING.

So as all your summer activities start up or wind down think about making these great cookie bars and sharing them with all your friends and family. Trust me you will look like a baking hero and they will love you for bringing them.


3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers, I used my food processor)
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini marshamallows and quite a few extra for the top
1 regular sized milk chocolate Hershey bar

Line your 8X8 or 9X9 pan with parchment paper. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Put the graham mixture into the pan and press it down to form the crust.

Cream butter in a mixer, add white and brown sugars and mix until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix till combined. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Once everyting is mixed together well, add the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Spoon the cookie mixture on top of the graham cracker crust and even it out. This is actually really easy to do since the mixture is very thick.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. While the cookies are in the oven break the candy bar into 12 pieces and put the pieces in the freezer. You are doing this so that the pieces of candy bar don't melt when you put them in the warm cookies later on. About 15 minutes into the baking process.. I peeked in and looked at the bars and decide that there weren't enough marshmallows. So add about a handful of marshmallows.
When the cookie bars come out of the oven put in the hershey bars from the freezer. I also added more marshmallows, because can you really have to many marshmallows? I didn't think so.

I have to admit that these cookie bars didn't sit around for long....

This recipe originally appeared on chocolate chocolate and more.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Greek Coliseum Dogs

We were recently at a restaurant that served some really good greek food. My husband had ordered an omelet and it came with tzatziki sauce. He got the omelet and the sauce and I think he feel in love with both.

It was a nice day and we were thinking that it would be great to grill out for dinner. So I was reviewing all the  International Hotdogs when I noticed that that we had never tried the Greek one... and you will never guess but it had tzatziki sauce.

So I was then on a mission to find tzatziki sauce and try this new version of hot dog.  I went to the local Meijers and found it in the International aisle. It was the smallest little jar on one of the highest shelves. I'm just over 5 foot so being on the high shelf is critical to understanding how difficult it was for me to find. I got it home and we made these wonderful greek hot dogs.  I have to say that I am a huge fan of tzatziki sauce now too. Peloponnese Tzatziki Spread, 3.5 Ounce.

I have to admit that I left off one ingredient kalmata olives, since I am not a big olive fan.


Your favorite hot dog
Hot dog bun
Cucumber (cut up in small pieces)
tzatziki sauce
kalmata olives (optional)

Cook hot dogs as normal, and top with the new ingredients. Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

German Pretzel Dogs


I have to admit that the German Pretzel Hot Dog is my favorite twist on a international hot dog. I love it because it tastes good, but also because you most likely have all the ingredients in the house already. Who doesn't have pretzels and mustard!

I have to disclose that the original recipe also calls out to add sauerkraut to make it even more german. I'm not a big sauerkraut fan so its not pictured above, but my husband loves it when he gets the chance to have it.

So I highly recommend trying this out on the grill tonight!


Your favorite hot dog
Hot dog bun
Pretzels (broken up into smaller pieces)
Mustard (add little twist with a spicier variety)
Sauerkraut (optional)

Cook hot dogs as normal, and top with the new ingredients. Eat and enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mexican hotdogs

So I hope that everyone enjoyed the first week of blog posts. I had great fun sharing my favorite peanut butter and chocolate recipes.

I know the blog is titled Laura's baking talent, but I will also be sharing some "non-baking" recipes that I enjoy. So as I hinted at the end of last week the theme of this week is international hotdogs.

After seeing an article in food network magazine, Jim and I became hooked on spicing up our hot dogs with these little twists.


Your favorite hot dog
Hot dog bun
Avocado (cut,chopped, diced into pieces)
Parmesan cheese
Chipotle mayonnaise

Cook hot dogs as normal, and dress as you like with the new ingredients. Eat and enjoy!