Monday, September 30, 2013

Starbucks Lemon Loaf - The True Copycat Recipe?

 I know, I know I made a Starbucks Lemon Loaf last week. But I often try 5 or 6 varieties of the same recipe. Example: my four different Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipes. How could I not try out the recipe with the words "the true copycat recipe" in the title? But when I read the recipe it started with a boxed cake mix.

Now, I don't want to be a cooking from scratch snob - there is a time and place for a boxed cake mix. However,  I think a Lemon Loaf is something that is pretty easy to make from scratch. But once I Googled the Starbucks Lemon Loaf - this recipe came up time and time again on several blogs. Everyone said it was just like the Starbucks Lemon Loaf. Soooo...I just had to try this recipe.

I gave my husband a piece and asked him if he thought it tasted like the Starbucks version. He said that it was better. Last week I brought some Lemon Loaf to my friend Kim who just had knee surgery and I also served it to my friend who stopped by - but she lives 45 minutes away. My husband was away on business when I made the other Starbucks Lemon Loaf recipe. So the true unbiased taste test will fall on Kim's shoulders! I will bring her some this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

I found this recipe on a blog called Let the Baking Begin and I think that is a really cute name for a baking blog!


1 box yellow cake mix

5.1 ounce instant lemon pudding mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

8 ounces sour cream

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon Topping:

1/2 stick butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 x 5" loaf pans. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix and lemon pudding mix in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl combine the vegetable oil, eggs, milk, sour cream and lemon juice. Whisk until everything is well combined.

Add one cup at a tim of the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix on low speed (I just used an immersion blender) for about 15 - 20 seconds after each wet mixture addition. Do not over
beat or your cake will deflate.

Divide the batter evenly between two loaf pans. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack.

I placed the cakes on parchment paper in order to frost them.

Beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon extract until smooth and spread the icing over both loaves. Let the icing harden before slicing. Sometimes I make extra frosting (like today) - because I am a generous froster!

I love Lemon themed baked goods! I will let you know what Kim thinks tomorrow!

Okay - both Kim and I agree! The first recipe was a little better and more lemony! But try both recipes and decide for yourself!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Old-Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies

I found this recipe on the cooking classy blog. She has a lot of fantastic recipes!


I think these cookies look like the homemade version of the Mother's Old-Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies.


1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup of butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the oats into a food processor and pulse for about 15 seconds until the oats are partially grounded.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda,  salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground oats. Give this mixture a quick stir and set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip the butter with the granulated and brown sugar. Beat until the mixture is is light and fluffy - about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on the lowest speed - slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Allow the cookie dough to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Scoop the dough on to baking sheets - each scoop should be about two tablespoons.

Bake for approximately 11 - 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool.

Combine the powdered sugar and milk until a thick icing forms. Dip the top of each cookie into the icing.

Place the iced cookies back on the wire racks - it takes an hour or so for the icing to harden.

I am serving these for dessert with some vanilla ice cream. I also end up giving away a lot of cookies to my neighborhood friends. 

Next week I am going to start posting all of my Halloween craft ideas! So keep checking back because I have a lot of fun and easy ideas.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Old-Fashioned Gingersnaps

I love Gingersnaps! I am going to bring some cookies to some friends tomorrow morning. I can't be trusted with them in the house!

When I was in Junior League I was on several different committees and this one woman was on several of the same committees year after year we were on the same committee. And she would always make these awesome Gingersnaps! At almost every committee meeting she would make her fantastic Gingersnaps. Several people (including myself) asked her for the recipe and she refused to share. So whenever I see a Gingersnap recipe I always try it in the hope that it will be similar to  my nameless Junior League friend.

This recipe that I found in the October 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens was just about perfect. I love a Gingersnap with cracks on top that is just a little chewy.


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup unsulfured dark molasses (not blackening)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup coarse sugar such as turbinado


In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, cinnamon , nutmeg, allspice and salt. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, molasses, brown sugar, granulated sugar, the last tablespoon of the grated ginger and egg.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, stir well until a dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

After the dough has chilled set the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the turinado sugar in a small shallow bowl.

 Roll the dough into a 1 inch in diameter balls.

Roll the balls into the turbinado sugar Space the balls on the prepared baking sheets about  2 inches apart.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for 10 minutes for a soft chewy cookie or 12 minutes for more of the traditional crunchy snap. Switch the baking sheets between the racks halfway through the baking process. I switched mine at 5 minutes because I like a softer Gingersnap. Perhaps you want a crisper Gingersnap switch at 6 minutes.

Once you remove the cookies from the oven use a spatula and transfer the cookies onto wire racks.

Notes: while the cookies are baking your house has the most wonderful smell. This recipe makes approximately 40 cookies.

Served with a tall glass of milk these cookies are the perfect after school snack.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Starbucks Lemon Loaf

This is a Copycat recipe. I was almost tempted to run over to Starbucks and buy a slice so that I could compare. Then I decided to relax - which is super difficult with my type A personality. I found this recipe on and I did change the recipe a little - I added more glaze because the Lemon Loaf slices at my Starbucks have a lot of glaze. I will not be stingy with the glaze! I am a generous glazer! I also decided to use good old-fashioned elbow grease instead of my stand mixer.


1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons lemon extract

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

zest of two small lemons or one large lemon


2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon lemon extract

juice of two small lemons or one large lemon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spay a 9 x 5 loaf pan with a baking spray.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice. You can use your stand mixer - but I was feeling lazy and didn't want to clean my stand mixer. I just used a whisk and some old fashioned elbow grease.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well. Keep whisking until everything is well combined.

Stir in lemon zest and oil. Mix throughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Make sure that a toothpick comes out clean after 45 minutes.

After the Lemon Loaf comes out of the oven - whisk the glaze ingredients together.

Put the Lemon Loaf on a wire rack and place the rack over a baking sheet. Then pour the glaze over the Lemon Loaf.  Once the glaze has hardened gently slice the Lemon Loaf. It was hot so I placed the Lemon Loaf in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Then the Lemon Loaf sliced perfectly.

This Lemon Loaf turned out perfectly! I think it even tastes like Starbucks Lemon Loaf.

My little taste test!

Notice the heavily glazed top of the Lemon Loaf?

I think I might go to Starbucks tomorrow morning after all to compare Lemon Loaves!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Caprese Mini Tarts

This is a delicious lunch or light dinner with a green salad. They would also be a wonderful after school snack.


1 sheet of puff pastry (most boxes come with two sheets - save the other sheet)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into thin small slices

30 to 40 grape tomatoes, cut in half

3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped


Defrost one piece of puff pastry on your counter for 30 - 40 minutes. Once your puff pastry has been defrosted preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On a piece of parchment paper that is sprinkled with flour carefully unroll the piece of puff pastry.  Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 2" bigger all around.

Cut the piece of puff pastry into 4 pieces. Place the puff pastry squares on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Roll the edges up on the puff pastry and lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. The edges don't need to be perfect - we are going for a rustic look.

Place the cheese slices on the tarts.

After the cheese layer add the sliced cherry tomatoes.

Bake the tarts in the preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. The edges of the tart should be golden brown.

Once the tarts have been removed from the oven - sprinkle them with finely chopped basil.

Place your warm tarts on a serving platter.

This is the second time I have made these Caprese Tarts they so are simple to make.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Walnut Carmel Bundt Cake

I do not like the Back to School season. I love summer. I love long days at the beach and pool. I love barbecues and eating outside. I love vacations. And now we are getting ready for carpools and homework. Yuck! However, it looks like we are experiencing a late summer heat wave - so it will still feel like summer - even when my kids are back at school.

So I really don't know why I decided to get up early this morning and make a Autumn themed cake. I guess I really just wanted to bake something.

This would be a perfect after school snack or a before going back to school treat.  You can serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.


3 cups of flour

3 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups apples,  peeled and cut into small pieces

1 cup chopped walnuts

For Icing:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup butter, cubed

pinch of salt

1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray the bundt cake pan with a cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture 1/3 of the mixture at a time. Mix well after each addition.

Gently fold in the apple pieces and walnuts. They batter will be very thick.

Pour super thick batter into the prepared bundt cake pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Test with a fork or toothpick at 1 hour and twenty minutes.

Once the toothpick comes out clean remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then run a knife along the edges.

Invert the cake onto a plate. Let it cool for another half hour. Once the cake is cool you can make the Carmel Topping.


In an extra large saucepan combine the brown sugar, heavy cream, butter and salt. Stir constantly until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the powdered sugar. Stir constantly until everything is combined. Let the mixture cool.

I put the cooled mixture into a zipper top bag and cut a little snip in the corner and zig zagged the icing over the top of the cake.

My husband loved the homemade Carmel Sauce. I agreed - it was fantastic! I hope that everyone has a positive and productive school year!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Potato Dice

Last week in Hawaii we had some Potato Dice in the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian hotel. They were so fantastic that we went back a few days later and ordered them again.

Now I have decided to recreate this recipe at home. My husband gets slightly annoyed when I try to recreate restaurant recipes at home. Because I will be making Potato Dice for the next few weeks with a variety of different herbs. Tonight my Potato Dice were almost perfect. I really wanted to add some rosemary. However, I went to two stores and neither one had rosemary. And I had other things to do - like the Trina Turk Labor Day sale - I bought two cute dresses!

So I will try to buy some rosemary this week. Also my family wanted to know why I didn't make the bacon dip that they give you with the Potato Dice. So this week I will also be working on the Smoked Bacon Dip.


4 large potatoes, washed and cut into cubes

1 tablespoon of finely chopped dill

1 tablespoon of finely chopped sage

1 tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your potatoes. You do not need to peel them. Yeah! I don't like peeling potatoes.

Cut your potatoes into tiny cubes. And place the potato cubes on a large baking sheet.

Now sprinkle the potatoes with the sage, dill, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. I use a herb chopper from Williams Sonoma that finely chops all of herbs. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake the Potato Dice in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Try to stir the potatoes every 10 or 15 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy.

I put the Potato Dice in a serving dish and used them as a side dish for chicken kabobs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rope Tin Can Vases - Easy DIY

Everyday my husband goes to Home Depot.  I am making dinner and he yells at me that he is going to Home Depot - he will be right back.

We are packing up to go to the beach - and he yells at me that he is going to Home Depot and he will be right back.

He comes home from work with a Home Depot bag. What does he buy? I do not know or care. But I saw some cute rope vases, tin cans and coasters on Pinterest made from twine/rope. So.......the next time he shouted at me that he was running to Home Depot - I asked him to bring me home some heavy twine.

For this project you will need:

Twine (from Home Depot!)

Tin cans - labels removed and cleaned

Glue gun - glue sticks


A piece of cardboard or a paper plate

Start at the bottom and glue a piece of twine and keep wrapping the twine around and gluing every so often. Then I wrap around again. I did this on a large piece of cardboard - so that I wouldn't make a big mess on my table or countertop.

I made three rope can vases in about 30 minutes and used up all of the twine. No worries my husband will be going to Home Depot again tomorrow and I can ask him to get me a few more rolls of twine.

I decided to fill my vases with Sunflowers. I saw some beautiful Sunflowers today at Sprouts and decided that they would look cute for a Labor Day BBQ.

Don't these look cute? These would make wonderful party favors for your guests to take home.

I hope you have a fun filled Labor Day weekend!