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DIY Fluffy Lamb Cake

Happy (early) Easter to those who celebrate it! I spent my afternoon making this adorable fluffy lamb cake – this one is easy enough for even an adventurous beginner. I can’t take credit for the design (stumbled upon it on Pinterest), but had to make it after my nephew saw it and gave his seal of approval.

You’ll need to purchase or make your own cake/icing (Immaculate Baking Co. cake mixes may be worth trying if you’re short on time – the ingredients are simple and don’t include preservatives).  Lyndsay from Coco Cake Land posted a great tutorial for decorating this cake on Handmade Charlotte.

My Tips:

In the spirit of saving time, I cut up marshmallows for the ears (rather than fondant), and melted chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.  I used a marshmallow for the nose as well, dabbing a little frosting on it and sprinkling with pink sugar.  If you don’t have piping bags, cutting the corner of a Ziploc bag will work (just make sure to tape the corner to reinforce before you cut).  Freezer bags are thicker and will work a bit better.  I didn’t have the Wilton no. 22 tip, but used a similar star-shaped one and it worked great.

What are you making for Easter?
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Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

I have been promising a bread recipe and here it finally is (we won’t talk about the slight anxiety attack encountered while the recipe was temporarily misplaced – the best things are worth the wait, right?).  The recipe I’m sharing today is about as basic as it gets, and it is delicious!  I usually try to stick to whole grains, but sometimes white bread just hits the spot – especially with cheese and garlic.  They are also a great roll when made plain (my favorite, slathered with sunflower butter).

Please note that this recipe is geared toward using a bread machine, but may also be made by hand.  Guidance can be found within the reviews section on the recipe page (link below).

Before you click the link for this recipe, make sure to read my tips below for recipe success and how to easily turn these plain rolls into cheesy garlicky goodness.

Click here for the ‘Soft Dinner Rolls’ recipe.

Basic tips:

  • The order in which you place ingredients into your bread machine matters.
    • Manufacturer suggestions may vary, but I always place all liquids in first, followed by dry ingredients.  In this case, I place the sugar as my first dry ingredient so that it can dissolve into the liquid more readily.  Finally, I proof my yeast in a minimal amount of water, then use my finger to dig a little well in the flour, pouring the yeast mixture into the well.
  • Margarine may be used instead of butter if you want a dairy-free option (note that not all margarine is dairy-free).  Make sure your butter or margarine is very soft (but not melted) so that it will mix well.
  • All-purpose flour may be used if you do not have bread flour.  I have always used Wheat Montana All-Purpose flour with great results (they make great non-GMO/unbleached flours).
  • Make sure your dough isn’t too dry or too wet.  Your ball of dough shouldn’t look like it’s melting and it shouldn’t look like it’s cracking.  I usually end up adding a little extra flour to this recipe, and my dough has just a tiny hint of tackiness let to it once it’s been kneaded together.
  • They will turn out okay with less yeast.  If you only have one packet of yeast, don’t worry – they’ll still turn out!
  • Eco-friendly tip: skip covering the rolls with plastic as they’re rising and use a damp dishtowel instead.

Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

Cheese/garlic tips:

  • While forming your dough into rolls/balls, place the desired amount of shredded cheese (I use a couple tsp cheddar) into the center and stretch your dough into a ball around it, pinching it shut on the bottom.  I store my shredded cheese in the freezer and place it in the dough while still frozen.  It should work just fine at room temp, but note that I’ve not tried it that way before.
  • Brush rolls with butter ( or margarine) after they’ve baked but are still warm.  After brushing butter, immediately sprinkle with your favorite garlic salt.  If you prefer fresh garlic, try adding a little minced garlic mixed in with your cheese.

Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

These freeze very well – loosely wrap in foil and stick in the oven to thaw for a few minutes.

Happy baking!

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Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free). These cake bars are another family favorite from Grandma Marie’s recipe box!  These were the bars we always had at potlucks and holidays – loved by all.  Not your typical carrot cake, these get their flavor from jars of….. baby food!  In fact, we all call them baby food bars, but I renamed them so as not to scare off anyone.  Sounds strange, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  Soooo good, cuts down on prep time and jars of organic baby food are easy to find.  Best of all, they’re easily adapted to be lactose or dairy free  if you choose! A baking note:  Batter will be light in color – it’ll darken a lot by the time it’s finished baking so don’t worry! Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Click on the recipe image below if you want it to enlarge and open in a new tab to print!

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars… made with baby food! (recipe easily made lactose or dairy free)

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays!

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Grandma's Ginger Crinkles Recipe! A family favorite, these perfectly spiced ginger crinkles are incredibly easy to make – great for the holiday season!  They also have molasses in them, but we’ve always called them ginger crinkles.  Years ago, after my mom inherited grandma’s recipe collection, I spent hours hunting for this one.  She had at least five ginger/molasses cookie recipes in her box.  I knew it was this one when I saw the recipe card, complete with molasses drippings and doughy finger smudges! This is a great recipe to try with the littles – my nearly 3-yo nephew rolled all the balls in sugar himself!  I wasn’t sure if he’d like the taste of a cookie with so many spices – but he loved them – great flavor that’s not overpowering. Soft and chewy, old-fashioned crinkles, and dusted with sugar – yum!  They can also be made thinner/crunchier if that’s your thing – simply flatten the dough balls a little with the palm of your hand and bake a few minutes longer.  Since they use shortening, they are also lactose-free (assuming you use Crisco, which qualified at last check).  Here we go!

Grandma Marie's Ginger/Molasses Crinkles Cookie Recipe | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

-click on above image to save or print recipe-

Grandma's Ginger Crinkles Recipe!

Thinking ahead tip:  freeze some dough balls after you’ve rolled them in sugar – then bake later!

Happy Weekend!

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gooe raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

I promised my raspberry brownie recipe ages ago but didn’t have photos to go with it until now.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day –  these are gooey, fudgy and decadent – best eaten with a fork (and a scoop of milk chocolate ice cream?)!  The best part (aside from eating them) is that they contain whole wheat flour and are easily made lactose-free.

(By the way, I think I’ve finally gotten this dual blog thing down – so no more random photos popping up to email subscribers!  Yay – and thanks for your patience!)

First, the printable version:  click on the image below to enlarge, then print.  

gooey raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

Brownies: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar (make sure there are no clumps)
  • 4 oz (8 Tbsp) unsalted melted margarine (as usual, I use Fleischmann’s unsalted because it’s lactose-free)
  • 2 tsp milk (I use oat milk, any type will suffice)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite flavor-wise is Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/3 C white whole wheat flour (I’ve not tried it, but you could likely use regular whole wheat as well in these)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (if making lactose-free, double check ingredients on these!)

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 1/2 C raspberries (if frozen, place in colander & run under lukewarm water until thawed a bit)
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 C sugar

Prepare raspberry filling:

  • In medium sized microwave-safe bowl, combine flour & 1 Tbsp water (taken from your 1/4 C water). Stir until smooth.
  • Pour in remaining water (discard an additional 1 Tbsp if you used frozen berries as they’ll have more moisture).
  • Add sugar, stir until combined.
  • Last, add raspberries and stir/mash them up into your mixture.
  • Heat in microwave until boiling (you’ll need to watch – it may take a few minutes depending on your microwave).  Allow to bubble/boil for ~30 seconds.
  • Stir/mash your berries again and then return to microwave and heat them until bubbling/boiling for an additional 15-20 seconds.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • (if you do not want seeds in your filling, allow to cool 20-25 min. before straining mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth.)

simple microwave raspberry sauce

Prepare brownie batter:

  • Preheat oven to 325•F.
  • Lightly spray/grease (bottom ONLY), a pie plate with 8 inch or less diameter across the bottom; then, lightly flour and shake off excess.
  • In large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy.
  • Add both sugars and mix on low or stir by hand until well combined.
  • Add melted margarine, milk, cocoa, flour, salt and vanilla.  Stir by hand until all dry ingredients are combined into mixture.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Pour half of batter into pie plate.
  • Pour/spread raspberry filling on top of batter.
  • Top with remaining brownie batter (it’s okay if the raspberry filling doesn’t stay underneath the batter – see photo below).
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Start checking with toothpick at 50 minutes – remove from oven as soon as a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool about 30 minutes.  At this point, you may choose to serve them warm & gooey (YUM!), but they won’t have fully solidifed yet.
  • If you’ve waited to eat them until cool, cut with a butter/table knife (makes a cleaner line than a sharper knife).
  • Optional: garnish with chocolate syrup and fresh raspberries.

brownie layers

brownies cut

brownies 2

Have a dessert recipe you want see next?  Let’s hear it!

Happy Tuesday :)

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Gluten-free Cider Donut Holes (easily made lactose-free)

I have been craving donuts since fall… but not just any donuts – the apple cider kind you find at farmer’s markets and orchards.  Last night I finally took the plunge and decided on a recipe to try.  I opted for a gluten-free version because I have been piling in the white flour this week and my body sure can feel it.  The only gluten-free donuts I’ve ever tried were some obscenely expensive frozen ones from the grocery store.  Yuck… I figured anything could be better than those.  I also wanted a recipe that could be easily made lactose-free.  Oh man, these are gooood!  I used Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Pear Cider because they didn’t have any of their spiced apple cider available, and it left the donuts with just a warm hint of pear flavor!  I am fairly new to gluten-free baking so can’t take any credit for this recipe (though feel free to read my hints and substitutions below) — visit gluten free on a shoestring for this and other gluten-free donut  recipes.  This has inspired me to work on a naturally sweetened (ie applesauce, molasses or honey) version next – fingers crossed!

My hints/substitutions:

  • I used a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker (I usually don’t bite on these gadgets, but found one on clearance and it really made the whole process super quick and simple!) Don’t worry if you don’t have one, oven-baking instructions are given on the recipe.
  • If you’re using the Babycakes machine, you’ll want to fill the bottom wells almost full (but not quite, or the first ones you fill will start to rise over the edge by the time you fill the last few).  4 minutes was the perfect length of time for baking (they will look fairly light on the top half even when they’re done).
  • If you prefer a heavy coating of cinnamon/sugar, you’ll want to roll them in it IMMEDIATELY after removing from the pan or it won’t stick.
  • Best enjoyed right after baking (they’re still great and tender once cooled, but the texture may seem just a bit more spongy like an airy muffin).
  • For a lactose-free version, simply replace the butter with unsalted Fleischmann’s margarine or Earth Balance buttery sticks (but be aware, the latter has a distinct flavor).
  • Rather than apple cider, I used Pear Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joe’s – worked beautifully.
  • I should but don’t have a kitchen scale, so rather than using the gram measurements for flour/corn starch, I lightly spooned the full amount of flour into the measuring cup and then added 3 Tbsp corn starch (or 1.5 if you cut the recipe in half).

Gluten-free Cider Donut Holes (easily made lactose-free)

What’s your favorite kind of donut?

 

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Whole wheat challah bread

I have never eaten challah bread before, but have heard it makes wonderful french toast, so I had to try making some.  I used a whole wheat (well, half whole wheat) recipe from King Arthur Flour and it is delicious!  It tastes a little like a mild sweet hawaiian bread.  Visit the King Arthur site for the recipe, but feel free to check out a few hints below (as the original recipe may leave you with dry bread).

Hints:

-Add 1.5 Tbsp orange juice (to combat any bitterness from the whole wheat flour)

-The recipe calls for 2 C bread flour & 2 C whole wheat pastry flour – this is too much!  Start with 1.5 C of each, and sprinkle in additional if necessary (you want the dough to have just the slightest bit of tackiness).

-A bread machine works beautifully for combining/kneading and the first rise – just set on the dough cycle!

-Note, I accidentally diluted my egg wash a bit too much, so yours may turn out with a shinier finish.

Happy Sunday!

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