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Kitchen Maven

June 29, 2015

The Cake That Broke My Will – Strawberry Dream Cake

A while back I decided to make some (delusional) resolution to cut back on my sugar intake.   And then this cake happened.  The cake that broke my will.

Strawberry Dream Cake - Hands down the best cake EVER.  Find it on

 Y’all, I’m not even kidding when I say that this is hands down the BEST cake I’ve ever eaten.  Better than any cake I’ve had in a fancy restaurant.  Better than even my expensive wedding cake.  It’s so good that this week officially marks the 6th time I’ve made it…in 2 months.  (Yes, I rock at resolutions).  I’d say I’m ashamed…but I’m not.  It’s amazing.  Light, soft, fresh, moist…just amazing.

Strawberry Dream Cake - Hands down the best cake EVER.  Find it on

Strawberry Dream Cake - Hands down the best cake EVER.  Find it on

From now on “Strawberry Season” will officially be “Cake Season” in my book.  And actually, I froze some of these strawberries and guess what…turns out they work just as well frozen and defrosted.  So it looks like every season is Cake Season now.  Yes.  I like the sound of that.

Strawberry Dream Cake - Hands down the best cake EVER.  Find it on Strawberry Dream Cake - Hands down the best cake EVER.  Find it on

I found the recipe here, and adapted it a bit. 
Strawberry Dream Cake
The best use for strawberries, hands down.
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Ingredients for cake batter
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur unbleached)
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  6. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  7. 4 egg whites, room temperature
  8. 1 1/3 cups low fat buttermilk (this is essential! do not substitute milk)
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla
Ingredients for strawberry filling
  1. 1.5 – 2lbs strawberries, sliced and cut small
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
Ingredients for whipped topping
  1. 2 pints whipped cream (I usually have some left over, so I freeze the rest…you could use 1.5 pints if you don’t want leftovers)
  2. 6 Tbs sugar (or 4.5 Tbs if you’re only using 1.5 pints sugar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Using vegetable oil, grease two 9-inch round cake pans and then line bottoms with parchment paper. (I trace and cut parchment paper to fit the bottoms…sides don’t need to be covered because you can use a spatula to separate the cake)
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine buttermilk & vanilla & set aside.
  5. Beat butter & sugar in a large bowl until very fluffy (I do about 3-4 minutes in my standing mixer)
  6. Beat in egg whites one at a time, until combined
  7. On low speed, alternate adding buttermilk and then flour mixture, ending with the flour. Do not overmix!
  8. Spread into pans & bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean (Mine usually does after about 21 minutes)
  9. Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes and then remove from pans to cooling rack.
  10. While cake is cooling, put strawberries and sugar into a large bowl, stirring occasionally. Let sit for a while so juices can run out of berries.
  11. Whip the cream with sugar until firm.
  12. Take one layer of cake and place it on a cake dish. Layer half the berries & juices on bottom cake & cover with cream. Also cover the outside of the cake.
  13. Place the second cake layer on top and cover with remaining berries & their juice. Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.
Best of Baby

A few notes:

1) I like to make this about a day in advance to give the juices some time to soak into the cake…it makes for an even moister, more delicious dessert!

2) When whipping the cream, the firmer the better, because you want it to act as a “frosting” for your cake.

3) You may be tempted to substitute the buttermilk with just a milk/vinegar (“fake buttermilk”) mixture.  While it’s ok for some recipes (like these super pancakes), it’s NOT ok for this cake.  I’ve tried it and the real buttermilk version is far superior.

4) Don’t want a whole cake?  Halve the recipe and make it single layered…still as delicious!


April 23, 2015

The BEST Pancakes…no really, I’ve tried them all

I’m hosting a brunch this weekend (how tres tres chic of me), so I thought I’d write about my favorite breakfast food ever. 

BEST Pancakes Ever

Pancakes.   I have a love-hate relationship with those delicious things.  Love, because well, I love them.  Hate, because I never seem to be able to find a recipe I like enough to make again.  And, believe me, I’ve tried them all, especially those trendy healthy ones.

Oatmeal applesauce pancakes?  Well intentioned, but I need me some butta.

Low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie pancakes?  More like low taste.  Again, butta!

Two ingredient banana egg pancakes Umm, I’m pretty sure that’s called a banana omelet.  Because they have zero resemblance to actual pancakes.

So here’s the conclusion I’ve come to.  Pancakes aren’t supposed to be healthy, they’re supposed to be yummy. Just don’t eat them every day and you’ll be fine.  Every other day is totally acceptable.

After scouring the internet and failing at way too many pancake recipes, I’ve finally put together one that I L O V E. They are fluffy, and flavorful, and rich, and have an indescribably perfect outside and I shall eat them all! Errry day, all day.  Oh wait, I mean every other day.  In the name of health, and all.

(Lumpy batter is the key to abperfect pancake…no really, that’s not me being cheeky.  Over mixing batter leads to dense pancakes…lumpy, just barely mixed batter = fluffy perfection!)

Best Pancakes EVER


-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 Tbsp baking powder
-1 Tbsp sugar
-2 eggs, beaten
-2 Tbsp vinegar
-1 cup milk + 1 cup cream (OR just 2 cups milk…but more cream = more yummy richness)
-1/4 cup melted butter


1) In a small bowl, combine milk, cream, and vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes (You could also just use buttermilk, but I never know what to do with the rest of it)
2) In a separate bowl, measure out dry ingredients 
3) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk mixture, and butter.  Add dry ingredients to bowl and gently stir with a wooden spoon.  Don’t over mix!  Remember, lumpy batter = fluffy pancakes!
4) On a hot and greased (use butter or coconut oil) griddle or pan measure out 1/4 cup of pancake batter per pancake. Flip when edges start to solidify and top starts to bubble. Keep heat on medium-low so as not to burn pancakes. Grease between each pancake.

Top with your favorite fixins.  Me?  I’m a powdered sugar or Nutella girl.  You haven’t had a good pancake until you’ve lathered it up nice and good with Nutella.

Best Pancakes EVER

What do you put on your pancakes?

February 27, 2015

Nutella Banana Monkey Cake – no monkeys included


I told my son we were making Nutella banana monkey cake for our church meeting, and he asked if we were putting monkeys in there.  Reasonable question for a toddler.After I told him no, there were no monkeys on the ingredients list, he asked if we could put ponies in there.  Umm, what? (Note to self: spend more time teaching toddler about animals)

Nutella Banana Monkey Bread

But weird eating habits aside, this cake basically exploded my concept of dessert baking.  I know most people just eat Nutella with a spoon (oh wait, is that just me?), but did you know it’s probably the best baking ingredient since, well, ever? Just look at this cake. Not only was it gorgeous (I mean, there’s Nutella literally spilling over the sides), but it was mouthwateringly delicious…because of Nutella.  Did I mention Nutella?  You really don’t even need any more reasons for why you should try this recipe out.  Nutella.

Nutella Banana Monkey Bread

For the Nutella holder…I mean the cake:
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup  sugar
1/3 cup of milk, warmed to 110 F
3 large overripe bananas, pureed
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla
For the best part, I mean Nutella sauce:
1 cup Nutella
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions for dough:

  • Combine warm milk, white sugar, and yeast in standing mixer bowl.  Let stand for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
  • In a separate bowl, puree bananas.
  • Once yeast is activated, add in melted butter and bananas to standing mixer and mix on low with a dough hook.
  • Gradually add in dry ingredients (flour, salt, nutmeg).  Knead with dough hooks for about 8 minutes. 
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled.

Sugaring the dough:

  • Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  • After dough has doubled in size, pluck out lumps of dough (ping-pong ball sized), roll in sugar mixture, and place into your bundt cake pan.
  • Periodically sprinkle some of the sugar mixture over the dough in the pan.

Glazing and baking:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • While oven is preheating, melt butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in brown sugar and stir continuously until mixture is light brown in color.
  • Pour glaze over dough in pan and bake for 15 minutes. Cover with foil, and bake another 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Turn cake over onto a large plate.

While cake is baking, make the magic sauce (Nutella glaze, obviously)

  • Measure out Nutella and chocolate chips in a bowl.
  • Bring cream to a low boil on stove.  Pour over Nutella and chocolate and stir until smooth.
  • Refrigerate to cool.

Ganaching (yes that’s officially a word):

  • Remove ganache from fridge.  Drizzle over the monkey bread and then dump the rest of it out in the center of the cake.

Last step, bring your cake to a party and take a bow as all of your friends ooh and ahh over your pretty, pony-free,  Nutella masterpiece.

January 19, 2015

Make It Monday – Asian Sensation!

Last time I did a slow-cooker freezer meal review, I called it “Thaw It Out Thursday”, but I’m playing around with a new blogging schedule….so Make it Monday?  That’ll work.

Slow cooker freezer cooking

This week’s addition: An Asian Sensation!

Ok, maybe sensation is a little overkill, but it really was yummy!

Slow cooker freezer cooking - Asian chicken

Ingredients (Freeze all of this together in freezer bag):

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into strips (or if you hate cutting raw meat like I do, you can use drumsticks, wings, etc…I went with drumsticks. 8-10 is good)
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper


  1. Thaw
  2.  Dump
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Eat

We paired this with some white rice and broccoli.  Drizzle the sauce over the rice for some added yumminess…and then wonder why it took you so long to discover crock pot freezer cooking!  (Well, at least that’s what I did).

For reals though.  Between a busy toddler and a wakeful baby, I’m about as wiped as my counter tops are not by the end of the day (I know, I was impressed with that analogy too).  I love that the most complex dinner prep I have to do is boil some water!

Slow cooker freezer cooking - Asian chicken

On tap for tomorrow’s dinner menu?  CROW.  Stay tuned.