Invisible Apple Cake

I pinned a recipe for this Invisible Apple Cake a few weeks ago because it looked pretty neat, and I was ready to try something new and different. And I certainly got all that.

Cutting all the apples thin was what took the longest, but in my opinion there’s almost something calming about it. Plus, I may have eaten just about every other slice I cut.

Next, I had to mix up some batter, coat the apples in it, lay them in the pan, and drizzle the rest of the batter over it. Pretty simple. The last thing I did before sticking it in the oven was sprinkling some sliced almonds on top.

In the end, this dessert wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I guess that’s what you get for looking into healthier desserts…it’s the sugar and cream and butter that makes sweets so good. Honeycrisp apples probably would have been a better choice than the Gala that I used, since most of the sweetness comes from the fruit, but I don’t expect to be making this again. Nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t anything extraordinary.

It did look pretty, though.

Homemade Bagels

It’s the spookiest day of the year, and what screams “Halloween” more than a basket of homemade bagels?

Just kidding. I didn’t really go with the Halloween theme today, but I have no regrets. It’s never a bad time for bagels, especially the homemade kind.

I used the same recipe as I did last time—from Sophisticated Gourmet—and once again it was delicious. I did make one change, however. After our last experience with these, I knew that this time I would have to make a double batch! The recipe makes 8, but I doubled it and also separated it into smaller bagels, so I got 24 in all.

Since the cinnamon raisin bagels were so popular last time, I didn’t make any plain ones today. 14 were cinnamon raisin and 6 were just cinnamon (to give to my friends—for some ridiculous reason they don’t like raisins! I don’t understand that). I also tried making 4 pumpkin-flavored, since I had a bunch of pumpkin leftover from last week’s muffins.

Adding the purée made the dough super moist, but they turned out okay. The pumpkin taste wasn’t really apparent, but we still liked them. Next time, though, I think it’s going to be all cinnamon-raisin!

I can never seem to get these bagels smooth and seamless, but I think the bumpy, twisted, imperfect surface actually gives them a really neat look.

The entire bagel-making process is surprisingly fun, but my favorite part will always be the boiling. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe—you just have to try it for yourself! I took a video this time, but honestly not even that can capture the experience.

Maybe I’m being weird, but I really do love boiling those things. This is what gives them that “skin.” You have to boil them for at least a minute, but I like to go longer to make the outer layer thicker. If you’ve never had homemade bagels, this may not sound so appetizing, but I’m telling you, it’s something amazing that’s completely unmatched by any store-bought bagel.

After they’ve been boiled, the bagels need to go in the oven for about 20 minutes. The outsides get that slight crunch, and mmm…that’s what I call perfection.

These make an amazing brunch, as well as next-day sandwiches! If you ask me, toasting them for just a minute brings them to perfection.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Back at it again with brunch! Today I made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I’ve made these once before—about this same time last year, actually—and they’ve been delicious both times.

I used my own fresh, homemade pumpkin purée for this. Since I haven’t cooked with the canned kind, so I can’t really compare the two, but I do think it’s fun to bake the actual pumpkin.

I’m not exactly sure where the original recipe for this came from, but I did make a few changes to it today. First, I replaced half of the oil with applesauce, and then instead of two cups of sugar I put in one, plus a half cup of Stevia. Still tasted great!

My brother said today: “I hope we’ll see more of these in the future!” and I can guarantee that we will.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

I know it’s been a while, but you can rest assured that I have not given up baking! I just made this chocolate cake for my uncle’s birthday.

This was actually my very first cake (other than carrot cake, but that was a very different process) and you’ll be surprised to hear that I didn’t have any mishaps along the way! I could hardly believe it myself. Everything went as planned and it all turned out pretty perfectly, if I do say so myself.

I found this lovely recipe on Add a Pinch, and will definitely be using it again in the future! Absolutely delicious!

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Not long after I made that strawberry cheesecake ice cream, my mom bought some blueberries at the grocery store. She came to me and asked, “Hey…could you make that ice cream again? With blueberries this time?” Of course, I was more than happy to, and here’s how it went!

I used the same basic cream base as last time, but the fruit was a completely different process. With all the changes I’ve made, I’d say this is pretty much my own recipe now. Remind me to post it in the near future!

We all agreed that when I made the strawberry ice cream, there was not nearly enough of it for our ice-cream-loving selves. So, this time I made a double batch.

Having so much ice cream did result in a couple of issues. The cream on its own list barely fit in the ice cream maker, meaning I had to mix the toppings in by hand afterward. When we ate it, it was clear that I didn’t do quite as good a job as the machine. There was way too much graham cracker at the top, but next to nothing in our last servings. The berry flavor was almost overpowering at the end, since so much of it had sunk down.

Ice cream is ice cream, so I couldn’t call it bad, but I do believe that there are some improvements I can make in the future. Mainly just making sure everything is stirred in evenly. Aside from that, it was pretty great! Like I mentioned earlier, I will be sharing this recipe sometime soon.

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl

Since school started back up again, I’ve been looking for breakfast options that are quick and easy but tasty. Eggs every day can get boring after a while.

So, I turned to my trusty friend Pinterest for a way to spice up the mornings. And for the last few days I’ve been pinning and pinning and pinning! The first thing on my list was a smoothie bowl, so that’s what I made this morning!

I didn’t directly follow a recipe, but rather took the basic idea from the ones I saw and threw this together on my own. It turned out much better than I’d expected—sweet, satisfying, and surprisingly creamy! I can’t believe I’ve just been given the option to have what’s essentially ice cream for breakfast…only it’s healthy!

And I don’t mean “healthy” as in avocado brownies or whatever other ridiculous thing you make slightly better and call “healthy”. All that’s in this is:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • the few frozen berries we had left
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • a tiny sprinkle of Stevia
  • a couple of walnuts on top

Tip: Freezing the fruit beforehand helps to make your smoothie thicker…just make sure you peel the banana BEFORE you freeze it. Somehow, I didn’t think of this, and I ended up having to scrape the peel off of that rock-hard banana with a knife. I felt like I was whittling wood!

Also, I don’t have a fancy $500 blender, but the Magic Bullet worked fine given that I shook it a bit and gave the fruit a good spoon-stabbing.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Yesterday was the last day of summer, and before it was over I had to cross one more thing off of my list.

Cheesecake ice cream.

I’ve been craving it since the spring—don’t ask why, because I have no idea myself. As a special last treat before we dive into what’s bound to be the craziest school year of my life (freshman year + all online, WHAT??), I decided to make some!

The original recipe is from Handle the Heat, but I made quite a few changes of my own. It came out AMAZING!

Roasting the strawberries is something I never would have thought of, but it such a great idea! They were soft and juicy and this really brought out the flavor. Just like an ice cream shop (except better)!

So, onto the things I changed:

  • Instead of using 3/4 cup of sugar, I reduced it to 1/4 cup and added in 1/4 cup of Stevia. It was still perfectly sweet—not missing anything!
  • I omitted the corn syrup, which was optional.
  • We didn’t have any whole milk, so I used 2% and added in a little bit extra heavy cream.
  • Neufchâtel cheese in place of cream cheese. It’s essentially the same thing.
  • We didn’t have any sea salt, but regular iodized salt didn’t make any difference.
  • Rather than chopping the graham crackers (in a blender, I assume), I crushed them with a spoon. This way there was a little more variety in the sizes of the crumbles.

When mixing the berries and graham crackers in at the end, I held back just about 1/4 of the stuff to stir in at the very end. That way, there was a sort of ribbon of toppings in addition to the ones that were evenly mixed in.

This ice cream made a perfect last-day-of-summer treat! I will definitely be making it again.

Lemon Bar Tart

Everyone in my house loves lemon bars—especially my dad. They’re quick, easy, and delicious, so naturally they’ve become a pretty frequent dessert.

This time, I wanted to try something different. I got a tart pan for Christmas, which, as I’m sure you know by now, I love to use. So, I made a lemon bar tart—which sounds fancy, but is really just lemon bars made in a tart pan!

The tart turned out great, and I’m especially happy with the way it looked. I think that the thin lemon slices were definitely a good idea, and the dusting of powdered sugar was also a nice addition. I’ll be making this again for sure! (Even though the only thing that changed was the shape…haha!)

Here’s the lemon bar recipe that I used:

Berry Pancakes

A couple of years ago, my family was in Chicago and we had these AMAZING pancakes at a place called Wildberry. I still think about those pancakes…so for Father’s Day, I made them myself!

These were a hit. I made three kinds of sauces/toppings to go with the pancakes: a crème anglaise, a raspberry coulis (originally it was blackberry, but I didn’t have any of those so I substituted raspberries), and a sort of whipped cream topping, which I found in a crêpe recipe. Personally, the whipped topping was my favorite, but of course the pancakes tasted best with all three!

Call me lazy, but I just used store-bought pancake mix for the pancakes themselves. I was running short on time after making all of the other things, and the mix we have is actually pretty good.

Eggs Benedict

This week, I had planned to make English muffins, but then I decided to take it a step further with Eggs Benedict! I’ve never actually had Eggs Benedict before, but I think these were really good!

The hardest part of making these was doing everything at the same time. All of the steps were simple, but when I was cooking the muffins, poaching the eggs, cooking the bacon, and making the sauce all at once, it was a bit chaotic. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation for all of the multi-tasking my mom does when she cooks dinner every night!

Here’s the English muffin recipe I used: