Tag Archives: Easy

Z is for Zebra Cupcakes

Zebra Cut Out

Whew! And here we are – this baking/blogging marathon is nearing its end after quite a busy month!

Before I share this month’s final recipe of the Blogging A to Z Challenge with you, I do want to thank each and every one of you for visiting this blog; for liking and sharing and commenting on the posts.

I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to visit your blogs and websites – what amazing talents you possess and share with all of us. Thank you!

And now for the recipe …

ZEBRA CUPCAKES

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite chocolate cake

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite vanilla cake

Preheat oven to 350* and place paper liners in each of 24 cupcake tins.

Using only one flavor at a time, place one tablespoon of cake batter in each muffin tin, being sure the batter is even and reaches the edges.

When done, carefully place one tablespoon of the second flavor in each tin, again making an effort to spread the batter evenly and to the edges.

Repeat as often as you are able, filling each tin 2/3 full.

Bake until done, according to cake recipe directions.

Allow cupcakes to cool, then decorate with white frosting drizzled with chocolate – or the other way around!

Devour and enjoy!

Zebra Cut Out

As you might imagine, the completion of this Challenge is just the beginning of a fresh, new year for this and my other two blogs

Creatzart.com and DiscoveringHome.com 

and like you, I am impatient to get underway and looking forward to many more shared culinary adventures!

Thank you.

 

Y is for Yellow Donuts

Some days are just doughnut days. Along with a big glass of cold milk or a hot cup of aromatic coffee, a fresh doughnut can make even a Monday morning feel … well, better.

But it isn’t always possible to get to the bakery before work, and those days-old prepackaged wonders at the convenience store only make the idea of a fresh-baked, still-warm pastry even more tempting.

So, here is an easy and quick substitute until a trip to a proper bakery can be arranged.

 

Yellow Donuts

1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix (or any flavor you might like)

1 cup water or milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

  • Combine all ingredients and mix until combined, but do not over-beat.
  • Preheat mini doughnut maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Pour mixture into doughnut wells, and cook per instructions, or until golden brown. Using wooden tongs to remove the cooked doughnuts is very convenient.
  • Frost or generously dust with powdered sugar.

A note about cake-mix doughnuts: I did not know what to expect when I made this, my very first batch of cake-mix-doughnut-maker …rings. Well, these are not exactly the consistency of cake doughnuts, but they are not just ring-shaped cupcakes, either.

I was surprised to find that after 24 hours, the frosting, and/or the powdered sugar melds with the cake to create a much improved and fairly reasonable doughnut facsimile.

Because I discovered a brand new mini-doughnut maker at a thrift store for under $10.00, I was happy to give this recipe a try, but I don’t know that it would have been worth four times that much just to conduct this experiment that resulted in good, but not amazing, quasi-doughnuts.

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W is for Wiggle Jiggle Gelatin

A quick dessert, an unexpected ingredient, or a sneaky way to include veggies in any meal … available in a rainbow of flavors and colors … tah dah – it’s gelatin!

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Since 1682, this versatile ingredient has been used as a simple source of protein ideal for soldiers on the move. But within 200 years, patent-holders and cooks pushed that proverbial envelope and began mixing the granulated gelatin with fruit juices and syrups to make tasty jellies.

I am delighted to write about gelatin because I have two vintage cookbooks that elevate this wiggly-jiggly desert of my childhood to unexpected – and sometimes bizarre – culinary heights.

From the 1928 cookbook comes a sponge made with pineapple juice and rice. Other delicacies include a shrimp and orange salad, or the refreshing cucumber and Cayenne pepper salad.

Included near the end of the same cookbook are certain Rules that hold true even today; Metal molds chill more quickly than those made from other materials; placing the filled mold in a bowl brimming with crushed ice and salt speeds the jelling process considerably, and a rotary beater is necessary when whipping the dissolved gelatin.

Although undated, the ‘newer’ cookbook appears to be an early 1970s collection of recipes. Returning to gelatin’s roots as a basic protein, some of the recipes combine lemon, orange or cherry gelatin with ham, duck, bleu cheese, chicken or crab meat.

At first those might sound like unnatural pairings, but the flavors of ham and pineapple or turkey and maple are really quite good- even without the neon coloring.

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Whipped Blue – 1 small pkg blue gelatin dissolved into 3/4 cup boiling water, then whipped until doubled in bulk. Serve cold!

So, here are some handy ideas for easy gelatin desserts that have been inspired by 1928 cooks and 1970s kitchens. Have fun!

Creamy Delight

1 ( 3.4 package) Jello gelatin

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup heavy cream

Stir the instant gelatin in the boiling water until completely dissolved. Cool in fridge until syrupy. Add the heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or chill in fridge. As mixture chills, it will become more firm.

Seafoam Splurge

It tastes much better than it looks – really it does!

Mix equal parts Whipped Blue with Creamy Delight, while still soft.

Chill and serve … perhaps with gummy fish?

Festive Coconut

1 tablespoon brightly colored gelatin powder

1 1/3 cups coconut

1 clean jar

Combine powder and coconut in jar, shake vigorously until coconut is uniformly colored.

Happy Cake

1 pkg cake mix, flavors such as yellow or white are best

1 small pkg instant gelatin, any flavor

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

  • Preheat oven to 350*

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, colored sugar or coconut.

T is for Tarts

So simple, but so lovely and delicious. These tarts are perfect as a little something to take to a potluck, or to share with the office, or to give as a thank you gift.

Make as many or as few as you need; taking into account their nibble-bility factor!

Choose your favorite, most flavorful preserves and prebaked, ready-to-use tart shells.

Tart with Preserves

Combine two parts preserves to one part confectioner’s sugar, adjust as needed until thickened. Add two teaspoons almond extract. mix well.

Spoon into prepared tart shells.

Tarts Spoon

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add a touch of whipped cream or frosting.

Tarts Pan

S is for Salad

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of this incredible planet, this post celebrates gardens and gardeners.

Salads are actually quite a lot of fun to create – the components are limited only by the season, one’s preferences, and the size of the bowl. Any memory of salad as iceberg lettuce with pale tomato quarters drenched in heavy dressing is nothing more than a fading gastronomic nightmare.

Fresh greens are just the beginning.

Add some fruit, a splash of fresh lemon juice …

Homemade dressing, beans, shredded veggies and cheese …

Hard boiled eggs, raw cauliflower, a sprinkle of seaweed …

With sun and rain and fish emulsion (yuck), bright and happy gardens will flourish and soon fill farmers’ markets and our kitchens with dew-fresh veggies and fragrant fruits. Splurge, indulge and delight in the bounty that is spring and summer!

Best FriendsFor Mona.

 

Q is for Quilt Cookies

As part of the Indiana Bicentennial, many communities throughout the state are making quilts, hosting quilt shows, and offering classes to those unfamiliar with quilting.

Knowing that Scout groups, teachers, civic clubs and families often look for kid-friendly ways to incorporate history and the arts into their meetings or lesson plans, I thought it might be fun to make edible quilts. A tasty lesson is no less a lesson!

Q Cookies Store

Although the same idea can be applied to cupcakes, sheet or round cakes, this ‘recipe’ is for cookies. And considering how … challenging … the implementation of these great ideas can become when working with younger children, this particular approach is very easy and pretty cheap.

Before starting, you will need:

 

Store brand sugar cookies – try to buy at least three times as many cookies as there are children in order to offset nibbling, breakage, disasters, etc. And it might be helpful to use larger cookies so they will have more space with which to work.

Assorted colors of frosting – the pre-made/packaged tubes are convenient, but can get pricey when dealing with a larger group.

One option is to divide your favorite frosting recipe into as many colors as you have time, children, and imagination. Fill individual sandwich bags with each color, then snip the tip off, making a small opening for the frosting.

Working with cookies flipped top side down to use the flatter, smoother side of the cookie, draw a grid or pattern with one color frosting.

Q Cookies Frosted

 

Allow to set, then fill with colored frosting.

TahDah – it is now time to eat your quilt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

O is for Oversized

What is better than a cookie?

An oversized cookie … and a very big glass of milk.

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This is another easy-peasy recipe that requires nothing more sophisticated than a large pizza pan or baking stone to make it something memorable.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup well packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups (generous) chocolate chips, mini candy coated chocolates, etc.

Preheat oven to 375*

CombiDSC_0002ne flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in chips.

Dump the entire mixture onto the parchment lined pan, or stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes – approximately. When using the baking stone, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions – you might have to start baking the cookie in a cold oven. If using a large metal pizza pan, remember that this oversized cookie will take a tad longer than smaller, individual cookies.

Certainly, beginning with a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe makes it simple, but to liven things up, just toss in any flavor chips (I actually found cinnamon and lemon and even fruit flavors at a local bulk foods store), or mini-candy-coated chocolates, red cinnamon candies, or anything else that sounds good.

These oversized cookies were always a big hit with my students — and a lot quicker to bake than a zillion individual cookies.

Don’t forget the gigantic glass of milk, too!

 

 

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