Category Archives: Desserts

Mexican Brownies go gluten-free!


Tonight our group of friends from church got together to eat, visit and just enjoy our time.  Wow- what cooks we have!  We decided to have a mexican-themed dinner and I think it was as good as you could get in a restaurant….maybe better depending on which restaurant  you go to!!  I took the rice and a dessert.  So of course I took my Mexican Brownies (well the ones from food network that I love to make.)  One of our friends that was coming has to eat gluten free and I decided to make a half batch of brownies that she could eat.

I had no idea how they would turn out, but they were just as amazing as the regular recipe batch.

Oh so yummy even before the oven!

Recipe Changes for Gluten-Free


  • Substituted King Arthur 1 for 1 Gluten-Free Flour  for the flour and
  • Used Clabber Girl baking powder.  You have to watch the baking powder as some is not gluten-free.

The half batch cooked for about 18-20 minutes.

They were so good and when I got to our destination, the gluten-free batch was still warm so my friend was able to try one warm from the oven—delicious!




Change of Seasons


Saying that this has been a hard winter is quite the understatement. Heck, it is technically spring yet the winter weather still is hanging around.  We moved into our current home just a few days after Christmas. The week after we moved in the snow came and it didn’t leave our yard until well into March. I have never in my life lived with so much snow for so many days. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it….but I survived. On one of the not-so-bleak days this winter, my handsome fella and I went for a walk. We noted that the evergreen trees were a nice addition to the landscape in the neighborhood as winter would be so VERY bland without them.

I am so ready for the next season. I am ready for flip-flops and Capri pants. I’m ready for sitting in the backyard and soaking up the sun. I’m ready for a little color and vibrancy in life! The flowers of spring are always energizing and almost intoxicating as they change the landscape around us. Did you know to enjoy the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths that I love so much…they actually must be planted in the fall before the first hard frost? They require the cold of winter to become what they are meant to be.

I wonder how that plays into my life? I feel like I have been in a hard winter for a while.   Even in the hard winter there have been those pops of green from the “evergreen trees” to keep life from being bland and too depressing.  I am so thankful for the “evergreen trees” in my life.  I am ready though for the next season; I’m ready for the vibrant colors and shapes of the spring flowers.  Just as God has designed and shaped the flowers that will soon be coming, I know he has a plan for me. I can’t wait to see the design.

Did you know that in the basal center portion of the bulb for all of those wonderful flowers are the leaves cradling a baby bud that is just waiting for spring?  In many of the species, this bud already has the appearance of a flower while still in the bulb!  Just like God has that plan already laid out for me.  The basic framework for the next season in my life is all there.  The winter was necessary to shape me into the woman he wants me to be.  He has had the plan all along and has just been waiting to reveal it to me when the time was right.

So until then, I keep trusting him and walking forward knowing that a change of seasons is near.

As for a taste of spring now, I made this pound cake when my younger daughter had a friend over that was staying for dinner.  The friend doesn’t drink milk so my original plan for the evening dessert, ice cream, was out.  I looked around my pantry and then found this recipe on the Duncan Hines website.  It was so yummy and moist.


Pineapple Orange Pound Cake

Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan.

Combine together in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 package of Duncan Hines Signature Pineapple Cake Mix
  • 1 small package of vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 grated orange peel (about 1 Tablespoon)

Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for two minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted inot the center comes out clean.

Cool for 25 minutes in pan and then invert onto a serving plate.

Make the glaze:

Combine in a small saucepan and then simmer for 3 minutes:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Brush the warm glaze on the cake.

Enjoy!  The cake didn’t last 24 hours at my house.


Spring is Coming!

When a Tex-Mex Restaurant is Nowhere Nearby :(


Living in Pennsylvania allows us the opportunity to eat at a different pizza place or hamburger joint every night of the week but the Mexican food restaurants are few and far between and then to find a good Tex-Mex restaurant is impossible.  So I’ve had to learn to make some of my favorite dishes in my very own kitchen.  Tonight is Tex-Mex night at the Smith Casa!  We will be having cheese enchiladas, mexican rice, refried beans (courtesy of Trader Joe’s), and then some Mexican Brownies to top it all off.

The dinner is fairly simple to make but this particular enchilada recipe does get your hands a bit messy.

The brownies are to die for when they are warm out of the oven so I will probably whip those up right after putting the enchiladas in the oven.  Here is the recipe if you too would like to enjoy Aaron Sanchez’s recipe.  It takes about 20 minutes to prepare and then bakes for 20 to 25 minutes.  So you can be done within an hour!

Oh, so very good.

Oh, so very good.

Mexican Brownies

Preheat the oven to 350°

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.

Melt, in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat (do not boil)

  • 2 sticks of butter

Remove the melted butter from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Add to the butter and then stir with a wooden spoon until combined:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Mix together:

  • 2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix the batter until it is smooth.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy (about 20-25 minutes)

Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.


Apples and Bananas in need of a recipe!


This Spiced Apple and Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel Glaze is wonderful.  I can say that because I just finished eating a warm, piece of goodness and my house still smells of all the great fall spices.

Even my handsome fella said “mmmm….this is good….really good”

I can’t remember where I found the recipe but it was somewhere on a pinterest hunt.  Here is how I made it:

Spiced Apple and Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel Glaze

Makes one 12-cup Bundt or tube cake (could do it in two 8×4 inch loaf pans too)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour your pan and set it aside.  (My cake fell right out of the pan.  I used a papertowel to “paint” on the shortening and then dusted flour all around the pan)

Melt in the microwave:

  • 1/4 cup butter

Put the melted butter in a large mixing bowl and add to the bowl:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or canola)
  • 5 to 6 ounces vanilla or plain yogurt (I used on standard-sized individual container of Greek yogurt.  You could use sour cream too)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Whisk the above until batter is smooth and silky—about 1 minute.

Add to the silky, smooth batter:

  • 1 cup masked ripe bananas
  • 1 cup finely diced apples (I peeled about half of the apple)

Stir to combine


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you need or want to)

Stir the mixture until just combined- careful not to over-stir the batter

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 39 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before inverting it and removing the cake.

While the cake is cooling, make the caramel sauce.

Vanilla Caramel Glaze

(Makes about 1 cup glaze)

This is a fast moving recipe so have everything ready to go when you begin.

In a small saucepan melt:

  • 1/4 cup butter

Add to the melted butter

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

Bring to a boil, stirring nearly continuously.

Allow the mixture to boil quite rapidly for 2 minutes, stirring nearly continuously.  Remove the pan from the burner, allow it to cool for about 1 minute.

Vanilla Caramel Glaze in the making:

Vanilla Caramel Glaze in the making:

Add to the mixture:

  • 2 Tablespoons of milk (or cream if you have it)

Whisk aggressively to incorporate the milk/cream and calm any bubbling that occurred.

After any bubbling has calmed down, add to the mixture and whisk to combine:

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Add, 1/2 cups at a time, until you reach the desired consistency, of:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (Sifting it will help the glaze whisk up smoother and more silky…not lumpy.  I used about 1 1/2 cups of the sugar for my glaze)

Poke holes in the cake with a chopstick or skewer.

Pour the glaze over the cake and allow it to set up for a few minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

The recipe says that the cake will keep up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.  I’m not sure the cake will last two days at our house!

Spiced Apple and Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel Glaze

Spiced Apple and Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel Glaze


Blueberry Cobbler


On Saturday morning, my fabulous four headed to the local orchard just a mile away to pick blueberries.  We knew it would be hot but we were ready for a quick, successful pick.  Within 15 minutes we had just shy of 5 pounds of blueberries and we were done.  (Our reasoning is that we live close enough we can come back!).

Blueberry picking at Linvilla

Blueberry picking at Linvilla


Headed home with plenty of blueberries for the week.

So now I have all these blueberries and need to find some things to do with them.  I found several recipes online and tonight Heather and I made one for our dessert—blueberry cobbler.  It was pretty simple and indeed yummy.  Next time we make it we noted to double the crust and then sprinkle the top with sugar before baking.

If you find yourself with an extra 3 cups of blueberries, try this recipe.  I think you will like it!

Blueberry Cobbler

originally from as “Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler”

Preheat oven to 375°

Mix together:

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (all I had was Orange Peach Mango)

Pour the blueberry mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix:

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt

In a medium bowl cream together: (this is the doubled amounts as I said I would double it next time)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar

Beat in

  • two eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gradually add flour mixture, stirring just until ingredients are combined.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoons over blueberry mixture.  Try to cover as much of the filling as possible.

Sprinkle with sugar

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Yep, it was good! (photo courtesy of Heather)

Yep, it was good! (photo courtesy of Heather)


Peanut Butter Cupcakes


I found this recipe in anticipation of March 1 which is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, but we did not get them made.  We had some time this afternoon so I got things started and then my first born came in to help me finish the baking process.  We didn’t follow the recipe I found online exactly so I will just post what we did as I know it worked.  I would imagine that you have these ingredients already so don’t wait….get up and get baking, you will be glad you did.

PB & C Cupcakes (Peanut Butter and Chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375º

Line Muffin tin with paper cups (we did 12 large and then 21 small)

In a large bowl combine and then mix on high speed until creamy

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Gradually add, mixing until light and fluffy:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Add to the peanut butter mixture with the mixer running

  • 2 eggs (add one at a time)

In a separate bowl combine:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Keeping the mixer running, add the dry mixture to the batter a little at a time alternating with the milk until incorporated

  • 3/4 cup milk

Now distribute the mixture amongst the paper muffin cups.  For large cupcakes, fill 1/4 of the cup, place an unwrapped, upside down Hershey Kiss in the cup then fill to the 1/2 way point to allow for expansion while baking.  For small cupcakes fill 1/2 full using chocolate sprinkles rather than a Hershey Kiss.  (I used a Pampered Chef Rotary Grater that I’ve had for years).

We baked the large cupcakes for 18 minutes (bake until firm or a toothpick comes out clean….but don’t hit the melted chocolate when you check!)

The small cupcakes took about 9 minutes in our oven.

We removed them from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack.  Then we frosted with a bit of marshmallow creme and sprinkled more chocolate shavings on top.  YUM.

PB & C Cupcakes from

Cupcake Brownies


This recipe has been made twice within the last week at our house….for the residents of our house.  With only 50% of us liking chocolate, that is saying something.  This recipe brings the entire family together.  I have another homemade brownie recipe but my handsome fella does not like it.  He loves this one though!  I got the recipe from our Moms4Moms group that meets at our church.  Our Kitchen Queen shared some recipes in February that we could make for our families and I am glad she did!

Cupcake Brownies

Melt in a saucepan over low heat (or in a microwave….but I have only used a saucepan):

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir as needed to get the above melted and smooth.

Add to the mixture:

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar

Mix Well.

Add to the mixture:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour

Stir until blended and smooth.

Pour into WELL GREASED cupcake tins, filling 3/4 full.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until done (I stuck a toothpick in to make sure it came out clean)

When done press into the top of each cupcake:

  • 1 unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss

I make these in my 12 cupcake silicone pan and then also use a 12 cupcake mini-muffin pan.

I haven’t yet mastered the “easy” way to get them out of the mini-muffin pan but the silicone pan, well greased allows me to just push them right out.  The mini-muffin pan I use a knife around the edges and then a spoon to gently scoop it out.

I made these tonight for our Storm Snacks as we prepare for the Frankenstorm of 2012.

Cupcake Brownies to the right….I made a few more small ones this time as they are so fun to just pop into your mouth!


(If you would like to see how to make the Halloween Popcorn click here)