forty eight

Mini Post: Banana Graham Pudding Parfait

This mini post is going to be a life saver to you someday, I almost guarantee it. You got a last minute invite to a potluck dinner party and were explicitly told to bring dessert. You search in your freezer for an unopened container of ice cream (as if), you look in the cabinets for a bag of cookies that aren’t yet stale (no luck), but you do happen upon three boxes of instant pudding. Now, you probably bought these nine months ago becuase the box was retro looking and they were 79 cents each, and you almost throw them out every time you look on that shelf, but the expiration date says 2016 so you never do. I’m pretty sure this will happen to you if it hasn’t already (if the former, you’ll appreciate a use for those boxes. If the latter, you should probably go out and buy some pudding). This is a dessert that, depending on how instant your pudding mix is, could take all of 15 minutes to put together. AND you probably won’t have to go the store to buy extra ingredients. Just in case anyone hasn’t noticed this about me, I don’t like going to the grocery store if I’m suddenly in the mood to cook. Artists don’t have time to go out and buy paint if inspiration hits!!!! (lol guys that happened forgive me I know I’m not an artist) But #srsly, if I ever get a cookbook deal at least a whole chapter, if not the whole book, will be based around a master list of groceries one should always have on hand so they don’t have to go to the store all the time! IT. WILL. HAPPEN.


Parfaits (makes about 3-4 depending on how big you go)

– 1 box instant pudding (chocolate or vanilla, you pick)

– 1 banana

– 4 graham cracker’s worth of crumbs

– mini chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts

Cook the pudding according to the directions on the box. Let cool completely and then layer into parfait cups along with banana slices, graham crumbs, chocolate chips, and nuts. Continue for as long as you can. Top with crumbs! Boom! Lightning fast dessert!


(Had to share this. However, as adorably retro as this box is, I’m not sure the My*T*Fine was chocolately enough for me. I recommend Jello brand.)



Desserts, DIY

forty seven

Almost-Cookie Jar

This post is a DIY and a recipe! One of my favorite things to give for gifts are homemade baked goods. It’s an almost foolproof gift idea: they will definitely be delicious, they will not break your bank account, and there is no way the receiver will want to return them for a trendier sweater or store credit and risk ruining a great relationship because you don’t know what the appropriate monetary equivalent of your friendship is!! This is also a great gift for a friend who is far away, which was my reason for making this particular Almost-Cookie Jar.

The Almost-Cookie Jar contains all the dry ingredients one would need to make cookies; it’s the jar receiver’s job to add all the wet ingredients, spoon the cookies out, bake, and eat! Just make sure, jar makers, to include full ingredient list and baking instructions.



– 1 quart mason jar (I found one at a craft store for $1.50! How great is that??)

– 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 1 cup cooking oats

– 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds

To assemble: Carefully measure out all ingredients and layer them in this order in the jar, making sure to pack everything in.

First: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
Second: oats
Third: chocolate chips
Fifth: brown sugar
Sixth: granulated sugar
Seventh: chopped nuts

Put the top on the jar and cover it with a square of cute fabric and tie with ribbon or string.

Attach the following info along with the ingredient list: Stir the contents of this jar together in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 slightly beaten egg, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Roll the cookies into balls and bake on a parchment covered cookie sheet for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Yum!


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Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I don’t think anyone’s a stranger to the Chipwich, that cookie sandwich you could get from the ice cream truck on hot summer days during a long afternoon at the park. I know two things to be true about this treat: 1) It was always at least two full dollars more expensive than everything else at the truck and 2) One always risks breaking several teeth if one intends to eat their cookie sandwich immediately following purchase. I ask you, is this wallet and mouth shattering dessert worth it? Yes. The answer is yes. Whoever thought this  up was a hero*. Ice cream AND cookies. You don’t have to choose between them any more!

chipwich packaging

I’ve recently realized that the ice cream truck no longer goes down my street every day. And if that weren’t heartbreaking enough let’s also keep in mind that since the tips I make as a café-counter girl are the majority of my spending money (and yesterday I made a grand total of $1.75 in a full half day shift) I can’t really afford to spend double that on a snack. Sigh. Can you hear the violins playing? Who wins at first world problems? This girl! I decided that the economical decision here would be to make my own version of the Chipwich. And boyyyyy was I right. These are awesome. I’m so serious. Plus I went for the rainbow sprinkle side decoration instead of the more traditional mini-chocolate chips. Make these. I’m not kidding. 

*His name was Richard LaMotta. And although he was not a hero, he did go to law school and start his own record label before inventing the Chipwich, successfully marketing it, and eventually selling it to a division of Nestlé. This guy.

Cookies (adapted from Nestlé Toll House)

– 2 1/4 cups flour

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp kosher salt

– 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

– 3/4 cup granulated sugar

– 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 2 eggs

– 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

– 1 cup chopped nuts (optional (walnuts or pecans are the best))

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line several baking pans with parchment paper. Sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla with the second egg. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts until just combined. Drop rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake 9-11 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before moving to preparation of the sandwiches.

Sandwich Preparation

– 1 gallon (more or less) of your favorite flavor of ice cream/frozen yogurt (I was going for classic so I went with vanilla, obvi. This or this are my favorites of the store-bought varieties)

– Rainbow sprinkles for outside decoration (feel free to get creative here: chopped nuts, peanut butter chips, candied ginger, ets)

Once the cookies have cooled, place them back on the baking sheets. Line the cookies upside down on the tray. Slightly soften the ice cream and place generous scoops on half of the overturned cookies. Use a spoon to smush down the scoops a bit and turn the other cookies right side up on top. Place the sprinkles in a bowl and roll the edges of the sandwich in them. Put the sandwiches in the freezer for at least 15 minutes and then devour!

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PS- I try to blog about most things I make, but I don’t get to everything. You should follow me on Instagram, where I post pictures of everything I make. Encourage me to post more by asking for recipes!


thirty two

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with not-at-all-vegan Raspberry Cream Cheese filling and Buttercream Frosting

Now there’s a mouthful of a recipe! But #srsly, these are worth it. Don’t be frightened by the v-word titling the recipe: I pinky swear, you wouldn’t have known they were vegan unless I told you. Okay, if you’re still wary, the amount of dairy that consumes the other 2/3 of this dessert will certainly make up for it! The cupcakes themselves are incredibly light, not too sweet, and pretty much amazing on their own, then with the filling and frosting they basically become out of this world decadent. I made these to try to convince all my favorite people not to move away for the summer while I hang in my hometown crying and alone independently exploring my passions. Wouldn’t you hang out with me for a few months if I showed up at your door with these? Lemme know.

Cupcakes (adapted from A Beautiful Mess, a blog so trendy I almost can’t take it. They’re amazing.)

– 2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour (the batter gets super liquidy, so first add the 2 1/2, then slowly add more as you see fit)

-2 cups granulated sugar

– 2 tsp. baking soda

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 2/3 cup canola oil

– 2 cups water

– 2 tsp. vinegar

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin or cupcake pan with paper liners. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer the dry to the wet and mix well until all lumps have disappeared. Fill cupcake pan most of the way full and bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.


– 6 oz. whipped cream cheese

– 1/2 raspberry preserves

Combine cream cheese and preserves with an electric mixer until smooth, then store in the fridge until the cupcakes have cooled.


– 1 1/2 cups softened unsalted butter

– 1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine butter and 1/2 cup of sugar at a time with an electric mixer until creamy and smooth and at your desired sweetness. Add vanilla. Store in the fridge until the cupcakes have been filled.


Once the cupcakes have cooled completely use a knife to cut a small cone in the center of the cupcake. Spoon the raspberry filling into a pastry bag (or ziplock storage bag with the tip cut off) and fill the cupcake until they’ve just overflowed a bit. Use a spatula or a butter knife to cover the top of the cupcake with the filling. Then spoon the filling into another pastry bag (I also decided to use a festive piping tip*) and frost the center top of the cupcake so a little pretty pink is still showing. Store in the fridge to avoid a melted buttercream situation unless you’re planning to devour immediately!

Sorry for the weird yellow lighting that seems to have happened in the kitchen is apparently not a photo studio nor is my iPhone a d3000….

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*comme ça: closedstar_tip



(Kinda Key) Lime Pie

I arrived home for spring break just in time for a little snowstorm (yay….?). But honestly, being snowed in has never been something I mind, ’cause I can play in the kitchen for hours without anyone telling me to ride a bike, soak up the sun, go running, anything-that-does-not-in-fact-sound-like-fun-when-it-is-thirty-something-degrees-out. Why do people like the darn outdoors so much in the winter? When did passing time in a warm kitchen become passé?! I don’t KNOW. But I apparently get very passionate about this!

Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying I’ve been doing a lot of baking this week! I rang in the first days of spring (even though it was 36 degrees out, I ❤ NJ) with a very springy looking pie: lime! It’s one of my favorites. Not only in its infinite deliciousness, but also in its color; not green, not yellow, a pastel shade somewhere in between the two. I’ve re-named the color Retro Refrigerator. What do we think, appropriate? I’ve always wanted a job naming paint colors. Maybe this is how I’ll start! Regardless of any future careers in color naming, I should probably just tell you a quick history and the recipe so we can all go on with our lives….Key Lime pie gets its name from the tiny limes that grow in the Florida Keys, and it got started in the late 19th century in that area. It became pretty famous in the very retro year of 1965, when Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr., introduced legislation calling for a $100 fine against anyone advertising “Key lime pie” not made with real Key limes. The bill did not pass. Bummer for Bernie. I thought I’d be true to his cause by calling my lime pie a Kinda Key, because I did not in fact use the Florida limes. Sorry guys. It was still delish. And here comes the recipe!

Pie (recipe from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking Cookbook)

Graham Cracker Crust

– Crumbs made from 9 graham crackers (about 1 1/4 cups)

– 2 tbsp. granulated sugar

– 5 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large food processor, crunch the crackers until they are crumbs (no need to make them into graham cracker flour). Add the butter and sugar, pulse a few times and dump into a 9-inch glass pie pan. Using your fingers press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then leave out to cool. Leave the oven on.


– 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

– 4 egg yolks

– a little over 1/2 cup lime juice (about 5 full limes)

Whisk the egg yolks and the milk together, then whisk in the lime juice until completely combined and a bit thick. Pour into crust and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely then move to refrigerator and chill for about 8 hours.

Whipped Cream (topping)

– 3/4 cup cold heavy cream

– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1 tbsp. granulated sugar

Whip cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and sugar. Pour over top of pie and garnish with a little lime zest. Doesn’t it taste like spring?

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

twenty seven

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Hello! I have returned! The world is no longer coming to an end! And what better way to celebrate than to put chocolate in something that is traditionally healthy?! I used to hate bananas, and sometimes I still do. The taste is fine, just something about that texture always freaked me out. As a small child, there were few things I hated more than being given a slice of banana bread complete with giant mushy chunks of cooked banana. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me shudder. However, it’s one of my family’s favorites, so I came in contact with the smushy banana bits much more often than I’d like to recall. Then, one day, the problem was solved- I decided to WHIP the bananas with a beater after their original fork-mashing. Challenge completed. The chocolate chips add a really great extra pizazz as well!

Banana bread became a standard in American cooking in the 1930s with the advent and popularization of baking powder and baking soda, but it was not until 1950, when the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book (published by the United Fruit Company before their official name change to Chiquita) emerged, that banana bread became more widely accepted and enjoyed. Oh, the joy of cookbooks that feature food with faces and human clothing!



– 1/2 cup butter, softened

– 3/4 cup granulated sugar

– 2 eggs, lightly beaten

– 3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork and then whipped with a beater until smooth(ish)

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 tsp. baking soda

– pinch of salt

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

– 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large loaf pan with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add beaten eggs and combine. Add bananas and combine. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (except for melted chocolate). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then dump out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold, however I very much recommend warm, as the melty chocolate is basically slammin. Enjoy!





twenty six

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

News flash, another baked good post!

While the most historical information I could find about apple cake were a super brief description of traditional Devon, Somerset, and Dorset Apple Cakes (all coming from those parts of England) with no date given whatsoever and Jewish Apple Cake, based on Apple Kuchen (German for “cake” for any interested parties) with once again no date. Nevertheless, there were a large number of recipes from the 50s! All seven recipes I used to create this one all incidentally had titles somehow involving either “Mom’s”, “Mommy’s” or “Mama’s”……why? I’ll tell you!


I don’t know.



– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp ground cloves

– 1/2 tsp kosher salt

– 3/4 c unsalted butter, room temp.

–  1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

– 3 eggs

– 1/2 cup buttermilk (as I’ve said in many posts before, I use dry buttermilk in my recipes, so…yeah, check it out. It’s very handy)

– 5 cups peeled and diced apples (I find that apples on the more tart side, like Granny Smith, tend to be the best when baked)

– 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 glass baking dish. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves (and if using, dry buttermilk) in a bowl. In an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk (or again, if using dry, then the water/recommended liquid) being careful not to overmix. With the last batch of flour add the apples and walnuts as well. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!



– 3/4 cup REAL maple syrup (none of this Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth’s stuff. If you use it I’m coming for you)

– 1 1/2+ cups confectioner’s sugar

– 1/4 cup unsalted butter

– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan on low heat melt the butter, then turn heat to medium and add syrup.  Cook until reduced, about 5 minutes. If the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat until they subside, then turn heat back up.  Take off the heat and pour mixture into a bowl.  Using an electric mixer add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and whip until desired consistency is achieved. Allow frosting to cool (HAH!) and then frost the cake and devour!



twenty one

German Chocolate Cupcakes

According to The Food Timeline, historians have placed German Chocolate cake in 1957 Texas. A recipe for the cake was sent to a Dallas newspaper by a housewife (I love when that happens) calling bakers to use a brand of dark baking chocolate developed by American Sam German. So, German Chocolate cake in fact has nothing to do with Germany! Who’d have thunk it?

I have adapted this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa’s German Chocolate Cupcake recipe. The coffee, sour cream and buttermilk mixture make the cakes perfectly moist and not too sweet, which is perfect because the topping (a fantastically sticky mixture of coconut, butter, and nuts) takes care of any sugar cravings immediately. In short, these non-German desserts are so good you probably need to stay in America to eat more of them after the first batch is finished……….and on to the recipe!


– 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

– 2/3 cup granulated sugar

– 2/3 cup dark or light brown sugar

– 2 eggs at room temperature

– 2 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 cup buttermilk or appropriate amount of dry buttermilk and water (as I said in a previous recipe, use dry buttermilk as it is much easier to always have in the fridge than real buttermilk, which I don’t believe anyone actually drinks.)

– 2 tbsp. strong coffee or espresso

– 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

– 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Ghirardelli)

– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

– pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pans with 28 liners (Fact: this recipe says it makes 14 cupcakes. Fact: I made 28 perfectly sized cupcakes out of this recipe. Fact: the barefoot contessa is clearly making some ridiculously large cupcakes. Fact: you can make your cupcakes as big as you want) In an electric mixer combine butter and sugars and blend on high speed for about 5 minutes for prime fluffiness. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, coffee, and the buttermilk (if you are using dry buttermilk, add the water at this time instead). In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt (AND the dry buttermilk powder if you’re using it! It’s very easy to forget this step! Don’t!) On low speed alternate adding mixtures in thirds, starting with the sour cream mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides occasionally and to make sure batter is completely blended. Divide the batter between cupcake pans (I used large soup-spoonfulls) Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.


– 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

– 1 12 oz can evaporated milk

– 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

– 5 large egg yolks lightly beaten

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 tsp almond extract

– pinch of salt

– 2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut (you can use sweetened, but I think that tends to be too much sugar)

– 1 cup sliced blanched almonds

– 1 cup chopped pecans

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the milk, sugar, egg yolks, both extracts, and salt with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a simmer on medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Don’t let it boil! If it gets lumpy whisk vigorously off the heat. Take mixture off the heat and pour through a sieve (there’s an 87% chance a few lumpy bits of cooked egg are hiding in this mixture) then add the coconut and the nuts. Let cool for about an hour, then frost cupcakes. Warning: Do not try the topping before frosting the cupcakes. It will be too delicious and you will probably eat it all.

Desserts, Musing, Snacks


Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently realized that in all my attempts to impress my readers with fancier recipes I’ve neglected to include ANY cookies. How?? Why?! When anyone says “housewife” doesn’t your brain immediately jump to a woman with one of those cute little half aprons over her pretty dress pulling a freshly baked tray of cookies out of the oven? (brief digression: Why would they only wear half an apron? Did they not spill on their tops?) Anyway, I decided it was about time to make a batch of my own for the blog, with a festive twist of course.

Also, I am fully aware that the first chocolate chip cookies are not native to the world’s retro years, however there are hundreds of recipes for them that surfaced in the 50s and 60s. I have combined several (from Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Nestle Toll House) to create this supercookie.


– 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

– 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

– 2 eggs

– 2 tsp vanilla extract

– 2 cups all purpose flower

– 2/3 cup cocoa powder

– 3/4 tsp baking soda

– pinch of salt

– 2/3 cup chopped 83% dark chocolate

– 2/3 cup chopped 60% chocolate

– 2/3 chocolate chips (any % you’d like)

Preheat oven to 360 degrees. In a bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl combine cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into sugar mixture until combined. Drop rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 9-12 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool slightly before cooling completely on wire racks. Seriously. These bad boys are HOT.



Dark Chocolate Pudding

So before I give you the low-down on the pudding I made recently, let’s take a look at the oddity that was 1950s television. This was a popular commercial for Jello instant pudding in the 50s. (PS- notice how the video is actually on the blog, it’s not just a link? Figuring out computer-y things FTW!)

In addition to sexist commercials, by the 1950s the Jello company was also creating gems like savory gelatin mixes (because we all know dinner just isn’t complete without a nice mixed vegetable or “Italian” gelatin salad. Mmmm!)

I propose we just ignore this now and move on to the delicious part, shall we? The recipe I used is a combination from pudding recipes in Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook (published in 1950) and Smitten Kitchen, a cooking blog far superior to mine. Enjoy!


– 1/4 cup cornstarch

– 1/2 cup sugar

– pinch of salt

– 3 cups whole milk

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 7 oz dark chocolate chips (I used 70%, because I am a chocohalic and a purest when it comes to baking with my vice- none of this milk chocolate nonsense in MY kitchen I say!)

– chopped chocolate, chopped peanut butter chips, toffee chips, raisins, nuts, whipped cream (optional toppings)

Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler (or a glass bowl atop a pot of boiling water if you’re lacking in kitchen supplies!) Slowly whisk in the milk, careful to scrape up all the sticky bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, whisking occasionally to get out all the lumps. When the mixture starts to thicken, add the chocolate and stir for a few minutes more until the pudding is thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Place a sieve over a large glass measuring cup and pour pudding through just in case there were any sneaky lumps in the mixture. From the measuring cup pour the pudding into dainty teacups, mugs, or simple ramekins. Chill for at least 30 minutes (you will not succeed) then top with desired topping or leave the pudding cups naked (scandal!)

(..slightly blurry pictures, apologies!)