Best Ever Apple Fritter Cake

Best Ever Apple Fritter Cake.

So… this happened the other day…. this absolutely amazing “cake” that is like a pan full of apple fritters.

O M G!

It might not be the healthiest or quickest or easiest to make….

but it is sooo worth it!

With all the snow and colds and flu and healing going on around here…. we needed some serious comfort food.  We needed the house to feel warm and smell wonderful.
We needed some sweetness.  We needed some yummy for our tummy.

Everyone I’ve shared this with pretty much moaned with delight.

And I am right now trying to ignore it calling me from the fridge!  (Eat me…. you know you want me…)


If you are in the mood to treat yourself….

Or need to treat yourself…

Look no further!

Here is the recipe that I slightly tweaked from Cookies and Cups.

Best Ever Apple Fritter Cake

Ingredients:Fillings:

  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples (I used 2 large Gala – use your favorite!)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon

Cake:

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup chunky applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (or you can use sour cream)

Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Fillings:

Combine apples, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan.  Heat on medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes until apples soften and a syrup forms.  Set aside.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside as well.

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend butter and sugar for 3 minutes with electric mixer until fluffy.  Add applesauce, vanilla, and eggs, and mix until combined.  Gently mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Finally, add flour and Greek yogurt in alternating parts (flour, yogurt, flour, yogurt).  Mix until just combined.

Spread half of the cake in an Deep Dish Baking Stone (or your favorite 10-12 inch round or square or 11×13 rectangle baking dish).  Top with all of apple filling to cover batter.  Sprinkle with 2/3 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Add remaining cake batter and top with remaining 1/3 brown sugar/cinnamon.

Bake approximately 30 minutes until center of cake is set, but do not overbake.

Glaze:

While cake is baking, prepare glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.

As soon as cake is removed from oven, poke holes using a butter knife or wooden spoon handle all over the cake – 20-30 pokes.  Pour glaze over the top, spreading to cover completely and allowing to soak in the holes and edges.

Allow glaze to set approximately 20 minutes, and cake is ready to serve warm.  Also very good refrigerated cold – just depends on your preference.  (In our case, hubby likes it warm, and I adore it cold!)

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

One of the things I love to do around my birthday is bake Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

Having a birthday so close after Christmas, when everyone is really “over” sweets, Grandma made this simple cake for my birthday every year for as long as I can remember until she passed away.

May sound kind of strange that I like to bake my own cake these days, but I really do.  For me, it’s more than baking.  It’s reminiscing.  It’s sweet, loving memories.  It’s kind of a tribute to my Stella Star.

I use Grandma’s old tin measuring cup as I measure out the flour and sugar.  I grease and flour the pan – a square tube pan – because that is the way Grandma did it.   I crack eggs and stir and think of conversations Grandma and I had in the kitchen while she cooked and baked.  I put it in the oven and wait for the smell…. That smell that takes me right there to her kitchen.  Right back to that feeling of comfort and peace and unconditional love.

So yep – baking my cake gives me almost as much joy as eating it!

I love the way the outside is crisp and crunchy, and the inside is tender and moist and just a little sweet, but packed full of flavor.

This is a very basic cake.  A cake likely made in times when ingredients were simple, money was tight, and everything was made from scratch with love.  And I love it!

Do you have a recipe like this that is just as much of a memory as it is something to eat?  Something that is a ritual of love?

Here is our recipe:

Grandma's Easy Poppy Seed Cake

  • Servings: One Yummy Cake
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup poppy seeds
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 10 inch tube or bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.
Make a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla, oil, and milk.  Mix well.
Fold in poppy seeds.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn onto rack to cool.

When cool, sprinkle generously with sifted powdered sugar.

Enjoy!
Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Merry Grinchmas Celebration

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Merry Grinchmas Celebration.

As I sit by the fire late Christmas evening – basking in the warmth and glow of a wonderful Christmas holiday spent over the past week or so with many of those I love most, I feel so grateful.  The house is quiet, except for the dishwasher running, the fire crackling, and a holiday movie playing in the background.

I’m feeling peaceful and content.

There is nothing like the excitement leading up to Christmas, and I loved hosting three dinner parties three days in a row (and that’s not counting one the weekend before).  But there is also something very special too about the days that follow Christmas….

The calm afterglow…  The snuggling in…  The nesting…  Looking at pictures… Smiling at the memories.

Movies, books, leftovers, jammies…

Today, I want to share a fun party we had this past Saturday, the eve of Christmas eve, with our McHendy family.

My bestie, Jill and I decided we wanted to surprise our families with a theme, so we created a McHendy Grinchmas Celebration.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comA Happy Whoville feast –

complete with Roast Beast (Beef Tenderloin),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comWho Mash (Mashed Potatoes),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Greens (Sauteed Fresh Green Beans with garlic),

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand Cindy Lou Who Salad (Crisp Greens, Tart Pomegranate Seeds, Crunchy Pecans, and Creamy Goat Cheese).

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThis feast was preceded by some fun appetizers earlier in the day, including Grinchy Green Deviled Eggs,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGrinch Santa Hats,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand a Tortilla Wrap Christmas Tree.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd it was followed by a tiered tray of Grinchmas Cookies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand plenty of other sweet treats.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comEach guest received a little favor bucket that included a green ornament with a tiny red heart and lime green and red candies,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comas well as a Grinch beanie hat (which we all wore for a fun family photo – with the exception of hubby who wore a full furry Grinch onesie!)

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThe games planned took a different twist than intended, but ended up being just as fun!

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comThere were sleigh rides and races,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comI Spy the Who Hash,

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comand boxed games around the cleared dinner table.


Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comGuests of honor

adorned the powder room and office doors.

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comAnd as we ate and played and talked and laughed and cried, we celebrated being family in every true, authentic sense of the word.  And we reminded ourselves that “Merry Christmas doesn’t come from the store.  Maybe Christmas perhaps is a little bit more.”

Grinchmas Feast Christmas Party - TheCreativeLifeinBetween.comCheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Apricot Kolaches

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without baking Grandma’s Apricot Kolaches.  This year, I made them for our annual cookie exchange party.  Do you have classic cookie recipes you must make every year?

Apricot Kolaches & Christmas Cookie Baking

I finally got around to some Christmas cookie baking this weekend, and the highlight for my gang is the Apricot Kolaches.

apricot kolaches

Mine are not quite as perfect and beautiful as Grandma used to make, but they are getting thumbs ups around here.  Apricot Kolaches are a traditional Polish tender cream cheese pastry cookie with a sweet-tart apricot filling.  Grandma was 100% Polish, and her cooking and baking were like none other!

apricot kolaches 3

I remember Grandma painstakingly measuring each 2 inch by 2 inch square so that every singly one looked exactly the same.  I don’t have nearly the patience, but I smile remembering those days in the kitchen with her.  I can also now relate to the aching back and feet she had at the end of the day after rolling, cutting, filling, folding, baking, cooling, packing up…  And I wish I had a young Jodi to rub my feet and massage my legs with Jergen’s cherry almond lotion like I did for Grandma in the evening after an all-day baking session.

apricot kolaches 2

But the joy on Marty’s and Nick’s faces and the “Mmmmm’s” that escape their lips between bites make it all worth it!

(and then I have to hurry up and freeze some or they would be gone quicker than it takes me to clean up the dishes!)

I also made some of my Jodi’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies – a perennial favorite around here…

chocolate chip christmas cookies

…as well as some with dried blueberries and white chocolate chips using the same recipe (another of Marty’s faves).

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without some Peanut Butter Blossoms…

peanut butter cup cookies

And gotta have some Pittsburgh Thumbprint cookies too.  I made a batch with chocolate fudge and another with colorful sprinkles and green icing centers.

chocolate pittsburgh thumbprints

Here is the recipe I use for the Apricot Kolaches.

(The Chocolate Chips and Pittsburgh Thumbprints can be found by following the links to previous posts.)

apricot kolache making

APRICOT KOLACHES

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves or apricot filling (I use Baker’s)
1 Egg, beaten
Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar, for dusting

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed of stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Turn mixer on low, and gradually mix in the flour until a smooth dough forms.

Knead dough on lightly floured work surface, and gently form a ball.  Divide dough into fourths, flatten, and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet or baking stone with parchment paper.  Working with one piece of dough at a time (after bringing back to room temperature from refrigeration), roll out to approximately 1/8 inch thick rectangle.  Trim edges and cut dough into 2 inch squares.

Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of apricot filling into the center of each square.

Fold one corner into the center, dab with the beaten egg, then bring the opposite corner into the center and press firmly to seal.

Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 10 minutes.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cool on wire rack.

These cookies freeze well, and thaw quickly.

This recipe makes about a million ….  or at least feels like it when you are making them!  🙂
I hope you and your family will try these and enjoy them as much as we do.

Cheers & Sweet Hugs,
Jodi

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies.

So the thing about Christmas cookies is that it’s fun to make them fancy.

Well – sometimes fancy might mean taking a usual cookie (like my “Jodi’s Best Ever  Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and using Dark Chocolate M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (DARK Chocolate M&Ms is the key here! They are insanely delicious!), and then dunking them in some more dark chocolate….

…. but only half way….

to be fancy!

They are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

You can make these by simply following my tried and true recipe here and substituting Dark Chocolate M&Ms or your favorite Maybe you want to use chopped up Butterfingers or Snickers or Milky Way candies or maybe even peppermint sticks.

Go wild.  Get fancy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies.

Christmas cookie baking continues with these divine little shortbread “sandwiches.”

Buttery, tender shortbread cookies with a hint of almond kicked up with a generous spoonful of raspberry preserves and lightly dusted with sweet powdered sugar.

Such an elegant, beautiful, and mouth-watering treat!

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry preserves
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer.  Add vanilla and almond extracts followed by salt.  Add flour and mix until dough is formed.  Remove dough from bowl to counter and flatten.  Place in large Ziploc bag or wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick.  Cut circles with biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter.  For half of the round cookies, cut a hole in the middle with smaller cookie cutter.  Bake approximately 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid round cookie.  Top each with a cut-out cookie.  Dust top with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies.

I decided this past weekend to start my holiday Christmas cookie baking.

Every year, I make several of my same, tried and true faves, but I also like to try one or two new recipes, so I couldn’t resist the visions dancing in my head when I came across  these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies I discovered through a Pinterest search.

And – oh boy – they did not disappoint!

If you love the flavor combo of chocolate, caramel and pecan that makes the classic “turtle,” you are going to go nuts over these!

Hope you will give them a try.

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 6 doz.
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (divided – yolk for cookies, white for topping)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (please only use pure – not imitation)
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Topping:

  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • Egg whites (from divided eggs above)
  • 1 jar caramel sauce (your fave – I used Smuckers)

Directions:

Beat butter and sugar in mixer on medium-high speed until well blended – about 3 minutes.  Add egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract, while continuing to beat.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Reduce mixer speed to low-medium, and add half of the flour mixture.  Beat until incorporated, then add half of milk, followed by other half of flour mixture, and finally other half of milk.  Beat until all ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Place dough in Ziploc plastic bag or cover bowl tightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk egg whites until fluffy.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls.  Coat each ball with egg white, then roll in chopped pecans.  Place on baking stone (the only thing I bake cookies on) or cookie sheet.  Using a small spoon (I used a baby spoon) or your finger, indent each cookie ball in the center until a circle is formed.

Bake for 12-13 minutes.  Cookies will still be soft when you remove from oven.  Allow to cool on baking stone/cookie sheet.

Once cooled, remove to cooling rack, and spoon in caramel sauce.

Enjoy right away or pack in single layers in Ziploc freezer bags and freeze until ready to serve.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

S’More Cookie Bars

S’More Cookie Bars.

What S’more fun than S’mores?!

And what s’more perfect with hot cocoa or coffee than s’mores.

And what s’more delicious than campfire s’mores?

S’more cookie bars any time of year!

I love these adorable little cookie treats I learned from my daughter-in-law, Colleen, who first served them at a holiday cookie exchange she hosted a couple years ago.

They are simple.   They are fun. They are beautiful.  And best of all, they are SCRUMPTIOUS!

The teeny tiny miniature dehydrated marshmallows totally make them!  I purchased them locally at Make a Cake, a local, charming little cake and candy decorating shop, but they are also available online if you can’t find them near you.

Here is how to make them.

S'more Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

Directions:

After breaking all graham crackers and chocolate bars into rectangles, place one chocolate rectangle between two graham cracker rectangles forming a sandwich.

Melt Merckens milk chocolate one pound at a time in microwave.  Heat for 1 minute on high.  Stir well.  Heat 20-30 more seconds.  Stir well until smooth.

Dip each graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich into chocolate – coating 1/2 – 2/3 of cookie.   Let excess drip, and place on sheet of wax paper to cool and harden.  Dip 4-6, place on wax paper, and sprinkle with marshmallows.  Working in groups allows the marshmallows to stick to the melted chocolate before it cools to harden.  Continue until all are coated and sprinkled with marshmallows.  Allow to cool and harden.

They are ready within 20-30 minutes to enjoy or store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

P.S.  If you are local, I made these to share at the Berry Vine Gifts Christmas in the Woods Open House, which starts today, Friday, November 17th (10-6).  It also runs through the weekend, Saturday, November 18th (10-6) and Sunday, November 19th (12-4).  Come munch on one with a cup of cocoa while you browse the beautiful holiday handmade crafts, antique furniture, and gifts in this one-of-a-kind shoppe (including my art and Colleen’s rustic pallet signs!) 

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies.

When it comes to Butter Pecan….. I am an absolute FANATIC!

The way some people feel about chocolate………..
That’s my butter pecan.

Can anyone relate?

As early back as I can remember – even as a child going to Kerber’s Dairy with my grandpap for ice cream, I chose Butter Pecan.

Not chocolate, not strawberry, not chocolate chip, not vanilla……

But creamy, buttery, salty, crunchy, nutty Butter Pecan.

So when I came across this recipe at BakerbyNature for Butter Pecan cookies, I had try it, and O M G!

BROWNED Butter is the secret to these little delights.

And I will not be baking these often, because these – I cannot resist!

Make them if you dare!

Butter Pecan Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter (salted), melted and browned
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  •  2 tsp baking soda

Buttered Pecans

  • 3 cups pecan halves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter (salted)

Additions for Decorating:

  • 50-60 pecan halves
  • Coarse raw sugar

Directions:

Prepare Buttered Pecans by melting butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped pecans and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 mins, until lightly toasted.  Remove from skillet to a bowl to cool.

In same skillet, melt 4 sticks of butter for cookie batter.  Bring to a boil until butter just begins to brown, and then remove from heat.  (Watch carefully, as butter can turn from browned to burned quickly.  It takes about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, but it is so key to get it to the “browned” stage.)

Using electric mixer, combine sugars with browned butter on slow speed until fully combined.  Add vanilla and then eggs, one at time, beating until fully combined.

Add flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda – folding in with rubber spatula until fully incorporated, and then fold in the buttered pecans.

Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

If you have refrigerated overnight – let dough sit to room temperature to become scoopable.

Place golf-ball sized scoops of dough 1-2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly and press a pecan half in center.

Bake 8-9 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse raw sugar.  Let sit on baking stone/cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

ENJOY!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from BakerbyNature

Butterscotch Haystacks

Butterscotch Haystacks

Butterscotch Haystacks.

It’s a cookie?
It’s a candy?
Not quite sure what you call it….
but it is a scrumptious little treat!

Does anyone remember these little gems from their childhood?

A simple mixture of crunchy chow mein noodles, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, and dry roasted peanuts make a treat that looks like a tiny little haystack and is just the right mixture of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy.

I made these for a “Wizard of Oz” party, thinking they were just the thing to do with the leftover “straw” that fell out of Scarecrow.

There are a variety of ways people have made them through the generations…

With our without the peanuts… with or without the peanut butter.
Some add a bit of vegetable oil.
Some add a a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch chips.

How about you?

Here is how I made them.

And if you haven’t tried them, they are definitely worth a try!  Super easy and super yummy!

Butterscotch Haystacks

  • Servings: approx. 3 dozen
  • Print

Ingredients:

Directions:

Melt butterscotch chips in a large microwavable bowl in microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave an additional 30 seconds.  Stir again.  Add peanut butter.  Microwave 30 more seconds, and stir well.  At this point, mine is completely melted.  Add 30 second increments if necessary according to your microwave’s power until all is melted and smooth.  (If necessary, you can add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to create a smoother texture, but do not overcook or it will create a thick, gunky texture that will not work.)

Add bag of chow mein noodles and peanuts and stir gently until all noodles and peanuts are coated and ingredients are well combined.

Working relatively quickly before mixture cools, drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper or parchment paper.  Allow to set for several hours.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature or serve.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi