Coffee Cake

The best coffee cake.  Ever.

This is the claim of The Pioneer Woman aka Ree Drummond.  I think I have to agree!

I made her recipe last week on the morning of some relatives’ arrival for a week-long stay.  To my delight, they were all coffee cake lovers and polished off this breakfast delight easily.

I made a couple of adjustments but as I write this at 1:23am, I can’t recall those little changes.  No doubt I will remember when I make this again this weekend.

The recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman’s cooking blog.  Delish!


  • 1-½ stick Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Scant Sugar
  • 3 cups Flour, Sifted
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1-¼ cup Whole Milk
  • 3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff
  • _____
  • 1-½ stick Butter, Softened
  • ¾ cups Flour
  • 1-½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1-½ cup Pecans, Chopped

Preparation Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (or LARGER!) baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Serve warm—delicious!



My little Spud and Sprite turn 3 on St. Patrick’s Day!  I can’t believe how time has flown since I found out I was pregnant.  We’ve gone from this:



Our Fire Station Tour & Birthday party has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances but in the meanwhile, we are planning to celebrate their birthday by a morning at the park with friends and then heading back to our house for hot dogs and cupcakes.  Perfect birthday fare for 3 year olds.

There are dozens and dozens of recipes out there for chocolate cupcakes – dark, super dark, raspberry, ganache-filled, ganache-topped, lavendar, super moist, etc…whatever may suit your fancy is out there.  After looking at about more than a dozen, I’ve settled on this recipe from for both Shanna’s cupcakes & chocolate ganache frosting.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever

By a Cup Full Of Cake

Makes 28 cupcakes
Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( Dutch process like Droste or another GOOD brand)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled (cooled for about 15 min make sure its still melted though don’t want it to harden back up)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp water, heated to boiling ( have a kettle of water on the stove boiling ready to go)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
This can be done with a stand mixer or by hand with a hand mixer or whisk but it is more of a 2 bowl method than one if going the hand mixing route
1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center.
2. Place paper baking cups in regular sized muffin tins, spray edges around
cups lightly with cooking spray. If you have a small 6 cup muffin tin and you only
get 27 or 28 cupcakes fill the rest of the wells halfway with water and no baking
3. Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt)
in a large bowl.
4. In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer whisk eggs till slightly thickened and a pale
5. Add in the milk, vanilla, oil and vinegar and whisk/beat well
6. Add in the melted and cooled chocolate and whisk/beat until combined well
7. Either add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients OR the wet into the flour and mix
just to combine. Add in the boiling water and mix again just to combine. Scrape
down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the dry ingredients are
8. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups
9. Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and free
of crumbs or the cupcake tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Mine baked for
18 minutes.
10. Let cool for 5 min in pans and then remove carefully to a wire cooling rack. Cool  completely before frosting

Ganache Recipe


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces of chocolate ( baking bar or pistoles chopped up NOT chocolate chips)
  • I prefer using bittersweet or semisweet
  1. Chop up the chocolate and place in to a non reactive bowl like a stainless steel bowl.
  2. Heat the cream til it just boils then pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 min then whisk until the chocolate is all melted and smooth.
  3. Let sit out until thickened before dipping. If you chill in fridge it may set up too hard so usually an hour or so at room temp works just fine.
  4. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the cooled ganache.
  5. Chill.

I can’t wait to try this!

Date “Matrimonial” Bars

What to do when you buy a pound of fresh dates on a whim?  Post on FB for suggestions.  This was an overwhelming favorite (from


For the filling:

  • 3 cups coarsely chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

For the crust and topping:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold butter, cut into small cubes


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a nonreactive medium saucepan over low heat, combine dates, granulated sugar, and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. In a large bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, place brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Mix on low speed until combined. While mixer is running, add butter, 1 piece or 2 at a time. Mix until crumb like, with some lumps of butter no larger than pea size.

Using your hands, press and flatten half of crumb mixture into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Spread cooled filling over crust. Cover with remaining crumb mixture, patting lightly. Bake until lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into bars while still in the pan. Gently remove cut bars from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Date bars, stored in an airtight container, refrigerate and freeze well.

Pecan Sandies


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add water and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour; fold in pecans.
  • Roll dough into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and flatten with fingers.
  • Bake at 300° for 20-25 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Yield: about 5 dozen.

from Taste of Home.


Eggs Benedict

One of my all time favorite room service breakfasts is Eggs Benedict.  I don’t think I’d ever had it until I started working for Doc.  I usually tried to stick to healthier offerings but after 10 years plus of the same rotation of breakfasts, I finally decided to try it.  I don’t remember where I was but I was hooked.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad Eggs Benedict.  I mean – how hard can it be to ruin?  Even if you use a quickie Hollandaise sauce (Knorr – I know, I know…but in my defense I was at the grocery store, had forgotten to look up the ingredients for Hollandaise so defaulted to a packet of Knorr), it’s still pretty easy to make, right?

I just looked up the recipe for a highly-rated Hollandaise sauce.  It’s enough to make my cholesterol rise several points.  I think I’ll stick to Knorr for now but add a bit of more lemon juice to it.  I felt it lacked that citrus bite that I love about Eggs Benedict.  Here is the artery-clogging recipe for Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Benedict as seen on the foodnetwork.


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch salt


Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzlein the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.


  • 8 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
  • 8 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Brown the bacon in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.  (I used my George Foreman grill for both the Canadian Bacon – expensive stuff, btw! – and the English muffins.)

Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain.*

To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings

*that’s not the method I followed.  Here is the method I followed:

My little Sprite seems to have followed in my footsteps.  She ate 2 of them the morning I made them!

Trottole Pasta wth Spinach, Bacon & Tomatoes

We love spinach in our house.  The kids love it in pasta and I love in salads.  DH will eat it in anything.

I bought a bag of the pre-washed stuff the other day with the intent of wilting it with some olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes.  But I decided to google and see if there was anything else I could do with pasta and spinach.  Several recipes came up and I decided to do my own version of spinach, bacon and tomatoes – ingredients I luckily had on hand.

As I was putting it together, I was writing about it on Facebook.  (Addicted, anyone?)  Here is my recipe as I made it this evening.


  • 1 large bag of fresh spinach
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes (I would use 2 cans next time as I ended up with a lot more pasta than sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
  • fennel seeds
  • dried basil (or fresh if you have it on hand)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lb trottole or any larger “curly” pasta* – cooked al dente


  1. Boil large pot of water to cook pasta.
  2. Take bacon, cut into small pieces and cook in a deep skillet until nicely crisped.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Drop some of the bacon fat into the water for your pasta.  Discard remaining bacon fat except for what you would normally use to sautee (sorry – I still don’t do measurements!).  Think in terms of how much olive oil you would use when making a typical Italian sauce.
  3. Brown your chopped garlic and then add diced tomatoes.
  4. I was a bit hesitant about using canned tomatoes considering I had some fresh Roma tomatoes in the crisper but I don’t think I’d make this again without using the canned tomatoes.  It was that flavorful!
  5. Season with the fennel seeds, basil, salt and pepper.  Why fennel seeds?  I don’t know.  I walked into my pantry, looked through my spices, spied the little bottle fennel seeds and thought “Ah-hah!”.  So, I added them…and I am glad I did!
  6. Let simmer for just a few minutes – it will smell wonderful – and why wouldn’t it?  Bacon fat, garlic, tomatoes and spices.
  7. Don’t let it caramelize – it will change the taste – you really want it to be more like a fresh tomato sauce that hasn’t been on the stove for hours and hours like my Auntie Kay’s and Nanny’s traditional “gravy”.
  8. Your water should have been boiling by now.  Be sure to cook your pasta al dente.  For the trottole pasta I used, it took exactly 14 minutes to get to al dente.  Do not overcook your pasta.  You will be disappointed pairing this sauce with mushy pasta.
  9. While your pasta is cooking, drop your spinach into your colander.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain it into the spinach-filled colander.  This should nicely wilt your spinach.  Toss gently.
  10. Return the drained pasta and spinach to your pot and add the crispy bacon bits.
  11. Do a little more gentle tossing.
  12. Spoon up your pasta into your favorite pasta bowl, put a few generous spoonfuls of your sauce on it and top with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.  Enjoy!

Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins

This morning at our local HEB, Spud spied upon the blueberry display.  Cries for boo-berries didn’t stop ’til I picked up a container in plopped it in our cart.  What to do with blueberries besides let them at them?  Why, muffins of course!

I googled for blueberry chocolate chip and found this recipe from

Planning on trying this tomorrow morning!

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper baking liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir just until mixed (lumpy not smooth). Gently fold in blueberries and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling three-fourths full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.