Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

chocolate peanut butter cupcakesChocolate and peanut butter is a favorite flavor combination in our house. Peanut butter cups are our not-so-secret guilty pleasure, and we usually have a stash somewhere in the house. After seeing chocolate peanut butter cupcakes in the display cases at a local bakery, we knew we had to try creating our own.

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Easter Egg Cakes

Easter Egg CakesDon’t these cupcakes look delicious? No, the picture above isn’t of hard boiled eggs. Just cupcakes. Or as we like to call them, Easter Egg Cakes.

Five years ago, I was living in Southern France with a host family. Their four-year-old son was very excited to paint eggs for Easter. Like most kids in the US, I grew up dyeing hard boiled eggs, which were eaten within a few days. I was very curious when my host mom pulled out a set of shadow boxes, holding an eggs her sons had painted each year for Easter. How could she save eggs year after year without them rotting? The answer was by only saving the shells. My host family showed me how to drain, clean and prepare eggs to paint. Once dry, everyone picked their favorite egg for the shadow box, and the rest were displayed around the house. I so enjoyed this twist on a familiar tradition that I brought it home and painted eggshells with my family for Easter the next year. I’ve always broken and discarded eggshells, and the idea of carefully preserving them was foreign and intriguing. What other unexpected ways could I use eggshells?

Would you have ever believed that eggshells make terrific cupcake molds? At first glance, these eggs look like hard boiled eggs decorated for Easter. Crack them open, and they are full of cake! Magic. Do you remember being a kid a getting completely caught up in the magic and wonderment of every holiday? These cake-filled eggs bring me right back to those days.

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Best Ever Banana Cake

Banana CakeHands down, this is the best ever banana cake. It’s rich, moist and very, very banana-y. While some banana cakes have a subtle banana flavor, this one is unapologetic. If you love bananas, you will love this cake. The tangy cream cheese frosting balances perfectly with this sweet cake.

This recipe is from my cousin Dani. Several summers ago she and her family were visiting from Arizona and we decided to make a cake. We had a big group, so we decided to double the recipe. Except we forgot to check how much cake the original recipe would make. As we added ingredients, our batter got larger and larger, and we started searching for bigger mixing bowls, and eventually ended up using one of Grandma’s large stock pots to mix the batter. Whoops. We baked enough banana cake to feed our entire family, extended family, and still have left overs.

Banana Cake
Yup. This happened. We made cake in a pot.

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Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Cookies

oatmeal cranberry pecan cookiesOne of the many perks of working at a university are the beginning of semester festivities. One of the favorite traditions (for students and staff alike) is “cookie week”, when university staff pass out cookies to welcome students and faculty back to campus. The most popular cookies are cranberry walnut. These massive cookies are soft and gooey and packed with enough oatmeal, cranberries and nuts that we can pretend they are healthy (they’re not, I read the nutrition facts once). Now that we are half way into the spring semester, the next cookie week (and batch of cranberry cookies!) is more than two months away. Instead I made my own!

I decided to swap out the walnuts for pecans because I prefer pecans, and I didn’t have any walnuts and was not in the mood to run to the store. I think the pecans go nicely with the cranberries- even better than the walnuts! My go-to oatmeal cookie recipe actually came from the side of a can of oats, and it lent itself well to oatmeal cranberry pecan cookies! I’d recommend using dark brown sugar for a richer flavor, and if you like, you can use coconut oil instead of vegetable shortening (the cookies will spread out more, so make sure they have plenty of space).

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Super Bowl Cookies

Super Bowl CookiesSuper Bowl 50 is right around the corner, and whether you’re an avid football fan, or in it for the commercials, you’ll probably be tuning in to watch on Sunday night.

I love sports, including football. I’m looking forward to cheering on my team, the Denver Broncos. I might be a Minnesota girl, but my cousin Daniel is a huge Broncos fan, and after years of watching sports together, coupled with too many heart-breaking losses for the Minnesota Vikings, I finally converted to the Orange Side. Even though the Broncos are my team, the Carolina Panthers have had a great season, and they are definitely a fun team to watch. It should be a great game!

Sports fan or not, everyone can agree that Super Bowl snacks are one of the important parts of the evening. In preparation, I’ve baked up special treats for the big game- Super Bowl cookies for each team. There’s no need to pick a side- these cookies are delicious for everyone.

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