A Bride and Groom Cake

wilcoxcake1A couple of our friends are getting married in a little over a week. (!!!) For some crazy reason, they are trusting me with making their wedding cake. The only reason I’m not completely hyperventilating is because it is their wedding cake, but it’s not the wedding cake. They ordered a plethora of cupcakes from a professional bakery for their guests, and they asked me to make a cake just for the two of them to cut into. Of course, when they asked, I jumped at the chance, as making wedding cakes is a dream of mine! And what an honor! Thanks Matt and Cassandra!

The bride is a super sweet second year teacher and about as far from a “bridezilla” as can be. Working off of her request for strawberry shortcake, which is traditionally more of a biscuit with whipped cream, I made a buttery yellow cake, stuffed it with fresh strawberries, and frosted it with a super light vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. As whipped cream wouldn’t have survived the Fresno heat, I think this cake is a pretty good stand-in. Strawberry shortcake all dressed up for her wedding day, perhaps? I just hope the bride and groom love it as much as I loved making it!

Carrot & Pineapple Cake for Dad

creamcheesecakedad2Hello blogging world!

Just checking in to say that Mrs. Webb is still indeed in the kitchen! (she’s just not been at the computer or behind her camera in a while)

Maybe you recall last year, if you’ve been with me for a while, when I made and sent my Dad carrot cake cookies in the mail. This year, I also was not able to see my Dad for his birthday, as he and my Mom were on a one-month road trip around the United States. Lucky them! However, as soon as they returned and I had an excuse to visit, I busted out my cake pans, grabbed a pound of carrots and a heap of cream cheese, and created my Dad’s favorite treat in honor of his missed birthday.

creamcheesecakedadI used an Ina Garten recipe, which called for a whole pound of carrots and had the interesting addition of diced pineapple. It resulted in very moist and flavorful cake that was still very toothy due to the cup each of walnuts and raisins inside. My Dad swore that this was the best carrot cake he’d ever had!

I envisioned a cake completely covered in rosettes (great how-to video here!), but as I ran out of frosting, I had to improvise a bit. Before I added the mini pearl candies around the border, the cake looked rather off-balance and top-heavy, but the border seemed to do the trick. These photos make it a little bit difficult to see, but I also added clusters of pearl candies on some of the rosette centers and sprinkled crystal sugar for extra sparkle. Don’t tell my Dad, but that gingerbread square that Happy Birthday was written on? That may or may not have been left over from a ginger bread house that never came to be back when my friend Amy and I got together in December! This cake was made in April, but still… it’s amazing how long gingerbread lasts!

I highly recommend making this carrot cake next time someone you love in your life requires a carrot cake. As for me, this may be the last recipe I ever need to try!

Check out the recipe here!

creamcheesecakedad3PS- Click here to see what I made for Mom this year! I didn’t get out my camera in time, but I snapped an instagram shot! It’s a tribute to her favorite childhood dessert, the Hostess Snoball!

Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two: Valentine’s Day Blog Swap!

heart shaped french toast - photo 1Valentine’s Day is almost here! As a special treat, today my humble little blog is being visited by my good friend Amy of Foods For the Soul!

Amy is a stellar photographer and baker, and has me salivating over every post with her healthier takes on meals and desserts. Not only does this girl have some serious blogger style, but we were also friends in high school! We had a lot in common then, and after a recent reconnection, have found that we still do. Back in the day, we looked up funny words in the back of our French textbooks, roomed together during at least one marching band trip, and even dated the same guy (but not at the same time). Nowadays, we share a love of running, baking, and food blogging.

Without further ado, I bring you my sweet friend Amy of Foods For the Soul and her heart-shaped french toast for two!

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After dessert, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I have a huge weakness for the baked treats—blueberry scones and cinnamon rolls and streusel-topped coffee cake. What girl wouldn’t, with a sweet tooth as big as mine?

But then there’s my guy, who skips breakfast nearly every day. He prefers eating a second lunch or extra savory snack, unless I toss him a fresh bagel as he heads out the door. Even then, it better not be sweet! Try poppy seed, onion, or—for the indecisive days—an everything bagel.

So I thought it’d be impossible to cook a breakfast we could both enjoy for Valentine’s Day (let alone have it be romantic!). But when I cracked eggs into a bowl to make french toast last weekend, he moseyed into the kitchen and snuck a taste while I flipped the second round of bread in the pan. He even asked me to pass the maple syrup when I handed him a plate!

February 14th just might start out on a sweet note after all!

heart shaped french toast - photo 2Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two
serves 2

You can make French toast bites out of the extra bread! Just slice into rectangular shapes and cook like normal.

6 slices wheat bread
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
¼ c. skim milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

  1. Cut each slice of bread into a heart shape using a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a large pan with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat for 1-2 min on the stove over medium-low heat. While the pan heats, whisk together the remaining ingredients (egg through nutmeg, if using) in a pie tin or bowl with a flat bottom.
  3. Dip both sides of one slice of the prepared bread in the egg wash, and cook for 2 min on each side in the preheated pan, or until browned. Repeat with the remaining bread. Serve hot with butter, syrup, jam, or powdered sugar.

heart shaped french toast - photo 3Mrs. Webb says…

If that doesn’t have you frantically heating up a skillet and digging out your heart shaped cookie cutters, I don’t know what will! For more sweet and healthy treats, I recommend checking out Amy’s Fudgy Beet Brownies and her Peanut Butter Nutella Popcorn Balls, the latter of which I actually got to taste!

Oh, and be sure to check out my Valentine’s guest post on Foods For the Soul today, where I show you how to make Truffle Stuffed Strawberries- a fun spin on a classic dessert!

Potato Chip Sandies

chipcookies1For last week’s “Fancy Friday,” I brought you dressed up peanut butter cookies. This week, I’m not sure if my featured dessert is a classy cookie dressed down, or an average cookie dressed up. Dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with crushed potato chips? Is your head exploding like mine was when I stumbled across this recipe?

Make these, and I assure you that your doubt will turn to sheer delight upon first bite! (Swear I didn’t mean for that rhymeage to happen. Rhyme- age. Totally a word.)

These are pecan sandies with a fun twist. My husband, who is known for proclaiming his dislike for a food based on his knowledge of a strange ingredient, loved these. After he had eaten two, I revealed the mystery ingredient, and he still loved them! Winner.

I may have mentioned before that sweet and salty is pure addiction to me. I cannot buy chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels for fear that I will eat the entire stock of it in one sitting! Thus, these cookies sent my tastebuds into an outbreak of the Hallelujah chorus and left my waistline begging for mercy.

This is why I am a runner…

chipcookies2Potato Chip Sandies
makes 10-12 cookies
recipe originally found at Keep It Simple Foods.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate for melting (I like Ghiradelli bittersweet 60% cacao!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream together butter, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix to combine.
  3. In a food processor, process potato chips until fairly small but not like breadcrumbs. A little texture is magical! (you’re going to start with a couple large handfuls of chips to get 1/2 cup crushed) If you don’t have a food processor, throw those chips into a large Ziploc and crush them with your hands!
  4. Add pecans and 1/3 cup of chips, and mix to combine.
  5. Divide dough into ten to twelve balls, roll in the remaining sugar, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  7. While cookies are cooling (on a cookie rack would be nice), melt your chocolate according to instructions on bag.
  8. When cookies are cooled, dip cookies halfway in chocolate and generously sprinkle remaining potato chip crumbles on top.
  9. Let chocolate cool to harden, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

Grapefruit Mini Scones for Two

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For as long as I can remember, my Dad had a grapefruit with his breakfast daily. Cut in half and sprinkled with a little blue packet of Equal, it was a part of his morning ritual and a fond memory of my childhood.

Occasionally, he would prepare one for me the same way as he prepared his, except he would sprinkle real sugar on top rather than the imitation stuff. If I wasn’t having a grapefruit of my own, he would sometimes squeeze a bit of the juice at the end into a large spoon and let me drink it. The best part, in my opinion!

All grown up and in my own kitchen, I still eat grapefruit occasionally. Today, I decided to do so in the form of a scone. Last year, I posted a recipe for a small batch of strawberry scones. Over the year, not much has changed: Mr. Webb still doesn’t love breakfast, but he will get out of bed for a scone (or three!).

Grapefruit Mini Scones

makes 6 mini scones

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grapefruit zest
  • 1/6 cup COLD butter
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeeze grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 T fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. grapefruit zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Sift together the first six ingredients, and then cut in the butter using a pastry blender or a hand mixer on low speed. The butter should be combined into the dry ingredients only to the point where the texture still looks coarse and there are still pea-sized chunks of butter.
  3. Combine the remaining three wet ingredients, and mix into the butter mixture just until everything is wet. Do not over-mix: I usually do this step with a spoon rather than a hand mixer to ensure that the dough does not become too smooth. The beauty of the scone is the flaky, buttery texture that is a result of the butter not being fully incorporated.
  4. Form the dough into a 3/4 inch tall disk, and then cut into six triangles. Spread the triangles out onto a parchment-covered sheetpan, and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk all glaze ingredients together, and after the scones have cooled for about five minutes, drop a spoonful of glaze onto each.

Avocado, Basil, and Tomato Lavash Wrap

avocadobasilwrap1
This isn’t so much a recipe as a “look at this yummy snack that I like to eat!”

Seriously, you could look at the title, glance at one photo, not read the rest of this posting and go ahead and make this yourself. In fact, I give you my full blessing to do so. You deserve to have some avocado and basil goodness in your belly: right now!

I mean, I did promise to post munchies on Monday, and what day is it?! Tuesday night…

Oops!

Would you forgive my tardiness if I made you a snack such as this?

avocadobasilwrap6

We like to make snacks every so often at work. Working in a grocery store bakery, we have constant access to day-old baguettes, bagels, and bread. Luckily, our friends in the produce department next door keep us supplied with too-soft or overripe fruits and vegetables, so our carb-lover’s paradise is slightly balanced out.

avocadobasilwrap7

This wrap was a product of a midday snack attack at work. I couldn’t get over the basil and avocado combo, and just had to recreate it at home when I got my hands on a pack of expired (but still fine!) lavash wraps!

avocadobasilwrap4

Avocado, Basil, and Tomato Lavash Wrap

1 lavash flatbread wrap
1/2 avocado
Handful of basil, torn
1 tomato, halved and sliced
Dash of salt

Spread the avocado over the entire lavash, and lay out the tomato and basil over the top. Sprinkle with salt, and wrap up the lavash starting at the longer end.

Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies!

pbcookies2Mmm… double. Double can be good, double can be bad.

Double scoop of ice cream? Good. Double shift at work because someone called out sick? Probably bad. Double date? Well, that’s just awkward…

Throw aside any and all preconceptions you carry of things that are double, and allow yourself to embrace the peanutbutter on peanutbutter goodness that is these little sandwich cookies!

pbcookies1Inspired by these cookies, I’ve scaled down the size of the cookie and swapped out the marshmallow creme for a luscious peanutbutter buttercream found in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I normally stay far away from buttercream, as it tastes a little too much like pure butter for my taste (imagine that! buttercream tasting like butter! ha!), but I could not stop stealing swipes of this stuff straight from the bowl.

To sum this cookie up further, all I can say is: good thing I run!

This is the first of my Fancy Friday posts. And I had so much fun doing it! True, peanut butter cookies are probably the least fancy dessert I could have come up with- but that’s the beauty of these babies. They are simple at heart, but the filling takes them to the next level. Be sure to read my note about these cookies the very bottom of the page before you are ready to make them!

pbcookies3Peanutbutter Cookies*

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural, worked great)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Or, if you’re old-school, mix with a large wooden spoon until incorporated.
  2. Make 48 balls of dough, about 10 grams per piece. Spread out on a couple of cookie sheets, and press down with a fork.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F, or until edges are crispy. Mine were done at ten minutes.

Peanutbutter Buttercream Filling

  • 1 egg white (from an extra large egg)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 4 oz butter (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup + 3 T creamy peanut butter
  • dash of salt
  1. Place the first measurement of sugar in a saucepan with the water. Stir to moisten the sugar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. While sugar water is simmering, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with its whisk attachment. Start whipping at medium speed, and gradually add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites are beginning to form loose peaks.
  3. (back to the stove!) When the sugar has dissolved into the water (should be at 248 F), remove the pan from the heat and begin adding the syrup to the whites, whipping on medium-low speed. Be sure to add the hot syrup slowly and to add it between the side of the bowl and the whites- so as not to cook the egg!
  4. When all the syrup is added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and allow to whip for 15 minutes, or until the whites are holding stiff peaks.
  5. Add the butter, in cut pieces, a few pieces at a time while the mixer is on medium speed.
  6. After all the butter is added, turn it up to top speed for a few second until it looks emulsified.
  7. Scrape all of the buttercream into a smaller container, and then measure 1 cup + 3 T back into the mixer bowl. Add the peanut butter and the salt, and use the paddle attachment to combine.
  8. Pipe the finished peanutbutter buttercream on top of the underside of one cookie and sandwich another half on top. Enjoy!

*Note: Mr. Webb and I agreed- this cookie was better the second day after spending the night at room temp in a covered container! They got softer overnight, preventing the buttercream from squishing out between the crispy cookies and making a mess. If you are going to bring these to a party or to a friend’s house, make them ahead!