Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Some recipes carry memories better than others. From the taste and smell to all the little steps and directions, this Caramel Apple Chunk Cake recipe reminds me of time spent in the kitchen with my mother — and learning how to make caramel roses.

As I scooted around in my own kitchen this Easter, listening to music and hoping my cake would turn out, I could see the story of this recipe making another loop. This time, it was just me cutting the apples and sifting the flour. I worked alone but confidently through the directions, with no second guessing or uncertainty.

Even so, as I softened the caramels and rolled them out into petals I could see my mother’s hands, beautiful and strong, showing me how to do it that very first time. I felt connected to her and grateful that she had taken the time to make those memories with me, because the most wonderful gift you can give to your children is your time.

I will always have that day and carry that piece of her with me. And it makes my heart so happy to think that in 10 years or so the story will come full circle, and I will be teaching my own daughter (or son) how to make caramel roses.

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ShinyHappyPeebles

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Let me begin by saying that this is a decadent and rich cake — a destroyer of diets! However, in my own curvy opinion, it doesn’t hurt to indulge in some homemade goodness once in a while. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tart apples
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ÂĽ cup whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 350Âş and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.

2) Peel and cut the apples into ½ inch chunks. You should get about 3 and ½ cups of apples.

3) Generously grease a 12 cup sponge cake pan. Coat with flour, tapping out any excess. I like to use a Bundt pan that I inherited from my grandmother. I love the shape and the weight of it!

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Just think of all the cakes this baby has seen!

4) In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

5) In a separate large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until thick and smooth — about 3 minutes.

6) Add orange juice to the large bowl, followed by the sifted dry ingredients. Mix completely.

7) Toss the apples and chopped pecans in 1 tablespoon of flour, then add into the batter.

The batter will be very thick.

The batter will be very thick.

8) Transfer the cake batter to your pan and smooth out the top. Cook about 1 hour. Let cool 5 minutes before glazing.

9) To make the glaze, mix the butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil – about three minutes. This is honestly the best part of the whole, darn cake!

You could put this stuff on Wonderbread and it would taste like heaven!

You could put this on cardboard and it would taste like heaven!

10) Drizzle the glaze onto cake after it cools, reapplying as it drips down. Best served warm!

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

Caramel Apple Chunk Cake

The caramel roses are just a garnish, so if you don’t have the time or the patience, the cake will still taste fabulous without them!

Caramel Roses:

I use the individually wrapped Kraft Caramels, the same kind I use to make Caramel Apples at Halloween.

1) Unwrap one caramel and knead it between your fingers and palms until it gets soft. Roll the softened caramel into a small ball.

2) Coat the ball lightly in granulated sugar and use a rolling pin to shape it into a petal. Press the petal in the sugar and set aside. It usually takes 4-5 caramels to make enough petals to create a rose.

3) Jelly roll one petal into a spiral to create the center of your rose. Wrap the other petals around the center, pinching at the bottom to secure them. Adjust and open the petals as needed.

4) Use a knife to cut off the excess at the bottom and create a flat surface for placing the flowers on and/or around the cake.

5) Chill them before adding to the cake — and make sure to add them at the last minute or they will literally wilt!

Caramel Roses

Caramel Roses

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Birds’ Nests

Happy Easter! To celebrate, here’s another Pinterest Challenge I’ve been saving: Birds’ Nests. Check out the original recipe by The Curvy Carrot here. Her version makes 12 servings, so I just doubled the recipe since I have several family functions to attend!

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 ounces (1/2 of a large bag) of chow mein noodles
  • 36 mini Cadbury eggs

1) Grease the wells of a muffin pan with butter or shortening.

2) In a large pot, melt the peanut butter and the chocolate and butterscotch chips. The original recipe says to microwave, but I’m always wary of burning chocolate. Stir on low heat until smooth and completely combined.

It's like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

It’s like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

3) Add the chow mein noodles, stirring carefully until completely coated.

4) Using a large spoon, fill the wells of your muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon. Press in three cadbury eggs on each nest. The original recipe says to add the eggs at the very end once the nests are chilled, but I prefer them to be slightly secured to the chocolate coating.

5) Chill the nests for 1 hour, or until hardened.

Relatively easy instructions, but I will say this is definitely a messy recipe — though I didn’t really mind having to lick chocolate or peanut butter off my fingers!

TheCurvyCarrot's Birds' Nests

TheCurvyCarrot’s Birds’ Nests

After tasting them, I think these are more appropriately catergorized as a candy versus a cookie.

ShinyHappyPeebles's Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’s Birds’ Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles' Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’ Birds’ Nests

Now, halfway through making these I realized I only have one muffin tin … so the last half of the batch looks more like nests for baby pterodactyls.

It's the Easter pterodactyl!

It’s the Easter pterodactyl!

It's the Easter Pterodactyl!

Actually, these look even more like real nests.

Pinterest WIN on this one, for sure! I think this is the closest I’ve come to making something that actually looks like the beautiful picture with the original recipe. An Easter miracle, indeed!

Deck of Love

I have been saving this project from my Pinterest Challenge for a very special occasion: our 1-year anniversary!  Since the traditional gift for your first anniversary is paper, it seemed like the perfect present for my other half.

Deck of Love

ShinyHappyPeebles’ Deck of Love

I love handmade presents! Plus, this is such an unconventional use of an every day item. 🙂 While the time investment is substantial, the cost is minimal.

Here is what you need: deck of cards, hole punch, binder rings, card stock, adhesive spray.

Supplies: less than $20

Supplies: less than $20

Take one of the joker cards from the deck to create a stencil for punching the holes in the other cards. Using a printer or a ruler, create a table of 1.25 by 2.25 inch rectangles on the card stock. I would recommend making more than 53 because you will make mistakes!

You could print the words on the card stock, but again, I prefer the personal touch of something handmade. I like that each card has my words for Bryan in my handwriting.

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52 Reasons I Love You

To attach the card stock recantgles to the playing cards, I used an adhesive spray. Some people find it hard to work with, but I like the even, light coating it provides much more than other pastes which can be too thick and warp the paper. Just get some cardboard from the recycling and go outside.

After I finished gluing, I split the deck into four and put weights on for a few hours to secure the bond. Double check that your cards are in the right order (and none have stuck together) and then put on your binder rings. Voila!

Deck of Love

Deck of Love

I also used some name tag stickers on the inside and back covers to write a personal message.

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All in all, I am thrilled with how this project turned out! It is a wonderful affirmation of our relationship, and I hope it will be something my husband can turn to on rough days for a boost of self-esteem or a reminder of how much I love him.

I would call this a Pinterest WIN — and a marriage WIN! 🙂

Nutella Mug Cake

It is Day 5 of my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge. And today, I have a major sweet tooth. So, I skipped ahead to Nutella Mug Cake!

Sorry, meatloaf. Maybe you’ll get made on Sunday.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella

1) Combine all ingredients in a LARGE mug. Mix the dry ingredients first and add the Nutella last.

I used my ginormous cat lady mug, which is usually reserved for ramen noodles.

Giant Cat Mug

Giant Cat Mug

I also ran out of Nutella (imagine that) and had to substitute 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter.

2) Whisk ingredients with a fork until smooth. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

3) Top with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, etc. I pulled out my fat-kid card and threw some mini-marshmallows on top during the last 30 seconds of microwaving.

You should definitely check out this blog: livelovepasta. They use normal-sized mugs there.

livelovepasta

livelovepasta

My marshmallows may have been a little white-trash compared to homemade whipped cream, but it was still delicious! Some vanilla ice cream would have been lovely, too.

ShinyHappyPeebles

ShinyHappyPeebles

However, this is definitely a two-person dessert. Or, a very unhealthy lunch for someone with a major sweet tooth. 🙂

Mug o’ Mac & Cheese

It is Day 4 of my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge. I am so glad today’s recipe was simple, because I had zero time to spare!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pasta
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1) Add pasta and water to a large mug. Even in a large mug, a little water is going to boil over. Microwave on high for two minutes, then stir. Repeat at two minute intervals until water is completely absorbed.

2) Add milk and cheese to cooked pasta. Microwave for another minute. Stir until the pasta is coated in cheesy goodness! Add salt and pepper to taste.

How easy is that? Actually, the microwaving and stirring is a teensy bit tedious.

But look — a normal-sized mug!

TheNapTimeChief at babble.com

TheNapTimeChief at babble.com

I just used regular, shredded cheddar cheese as the recipe directed, but you could really play around using different cheeses. You could also throw in some bits of ham or sausage!

ShinyHappyPeebles

ShinyHappyPeebles

Convenience-wise, I don’t think making this in a mug really works. Next time, I’ll probably just toss these same ingredients in a small saucepan. Still, it’s a great comfort food to keep in your pocket for rainy, lazy days. And either way, this is certainly healthier than neon orange powdered cheese in a pouch!

Banana Bread in a Mug

Day 3 of my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge! Today, we are having Bannana Bread! Check out the original recipe here. It’s a great recipe, but I made a few alterations: some on purpose, others … not.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • pecan pieces, handful
  • brown sugar, to sprinkle on top

First, I have to ask: does anyone actually own a 1/8 teaspoon measurer? Or am I the only one just eyeballing it with a 1/4 teaspoon measurer?

1) Use a big mug because the banana bread will rise and expand and attempt to do summersaults in your mircowave. I selected this lovely Harry Potter mug. 🙂

I solemnly swear I am up to no good!

I solemnly swear I am up to no good!

2) In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Now, I accidentally forgot to add the brown sugar in the batter when I made it because the original directions just said to add sugar. I missed the implied plural. And so, I have made my directions a smidgen more O.C.D. 🙂

3) Add egg and combine until incorporated with dry ingredients. Don’t over mix!

4) Stir in vanilla, vegetable oil, milk, mashed banana, and pecans. I added the pecans to this recipe, because I like a little crunch! Feel free to use any nut you like, or make yours sans nuts.

5) Pour the mixture into your mug. Pop into the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

6) Remove and sprinkle with brown sugar and more pecans. Microwave an additional 1 minute. Let sit for 1-2 minutes because it will be nuclear hot!

You might find someone to help you eat this, because I found the portion to be a little much for one person, at least for breakfast anyway.

Here is PassThe Sushi‘s Banana Bread:

See how it tried to escape her tiny mug?

See how it tried to escape her tiny mug?

And here is mine!

ShinyHappyPeebles' Banana Bread in a Mug

ShinyHappyPeebles

It turned out more like a yummy banana cake — perhaps because I missed the brown sugar in the batter — but I do believe I made up for my error by garnishing with brown sugar and pecans. They make a delicious, caramelized topping!

What I love the most about these microwave recipes, besides the convenience of single servings and fast cook time, is that I have yet to go shopping for supplies. They all use basic ingredients that most people have in their home on an average day.

French Toast in a Cup

Day 2 of my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge! Check out the original recipe here.

I found it a little hard to follow with the directions split up with step-by-step pictures. I love including pictures, but I also like to have all the important parts in one place so I can review the whole process before beginning. I am a nerd.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of bread
  • butter, 1/2 tablespoon
  • 1 egg
  • milk, 3 tablespoons
  • cinnamon, sprinkle
  • vanilla, to taste
  • syrup, if desired

1. Lightly toast the bread and cube into 1-inch pieces. I used two slices of bread, because who just eats one piece of French Toast?

2. Microwave the butter in the mug until melted; slosh around until the inside is coated. Fill the mug with the bread cubes.

3. In a small bowl, combine egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour into mug over the bread pieces. Stir around until they are evenly coated. Microwave for 1 minutes and 20 seconds.

Once again, these people are using Lilliputian-sized coffee mugs.

Staged photo, anyone?

PrudentBaby’s French Toast in a Cup

I’m sorry, but that photo is just too pretty. Nothing comes out of the microwave looking that pretty. Mine certainly didn’t!

ShinyHappyPeebles' French Toast in a Cup

ShinyHappyPeebles’ French Toast in a Cup

Pretty easy recipe with minimal mess — though I would say it turns out more like a bread pudding. I still prefer some crispy on the outside, mushy on the inside, skillet French Toast!