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Feb 14 15

Cherry Chocolate Cake

by KellysCravings

Cherry Chocolate Cake
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I previously posted about Valentine’s Day 2012 and 2013 but I have yet to talk about our family famous Cherry Chocolate Cake. My mom can’t remember where she got this recipe but has had it for a very long time. I was in grade school, maybe around 10 years old, when my dad asked if I wanted to help make my mom a birthday cake. Let me preface by saying at this point, I wasn’t in the kitchen very often. There are only four ingredients and the directions say to mix by hand. I looked at my dad and said, “EW, I’m not going to mix this with my hand!” My dad had to explain to me “by hand” means no stand mixer or hand mixer, just stirring with a spoon. The reason is so you don’t crush the cherries. Afterwards, this cake got renamed in our family as the Stir by Hand Cake.

It’s one of my favorites not only because it’s so easy, but the pie filling makes this cake super moist. I’ve seen many versions of this recipe online but nothing beats the simplicity of this one. Plus, I love the addition of the almond extract instead of vanilla, it really boosts the cherry flavor. You can spread your favorite frosting on top, but I love it just the way it is. Since my kids were little, I’ve served this every Valentine’s day for dessert. Remember my last post about my youngest not liking cake too much? Nothing gets him more excited for Valentine’s day than this cake. And he will always ask for seconds…and thirds!

Cherry Chocolate Cake
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1 Chocolate cake mix (no pudding kind)
1 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 21-oz. cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix all of the above ingredients by hand. Pour into a greased and floured 9” x 13” pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Jan 26 15

Grandma’s Brownies

by KellysCravings

Can it really be the start of a New Year? That means my birthday is just around the corner. But before my birthday, it is my youngest child’s birthday. Since he was a little boy he has never been a cake person. On occasion he may take one bite of a cupcake or cake, but he will usually pass on these treats. When it’s his birthday, he will always request brownies. Nothing really beats my grandma’s brownie recipe. My mom says this is the recipe my grandma always made. We aren’t sure where the recipe originated, but it is unusual because it doesn’t have a leavening agent. This recipe is so simple to make and so decadent. It just melts in your mouth…I’m guessing it’s all that butter!
Besides our love of brownies, my son, my grandma and I are all Aquarians. This year would have marked my grandma’s 100th birthday! Unfortunately, she passed weeks before my son was born. When my son and I make his birthday brownies from my grandma’s recipe, we are all together in a way. I read a quote once, “A recipe is a magic trick: It makes the past live.”

Grandma’s Brownies
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1 ½ cups shortening or butter or combination of both
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
¾ cup cocoa
⅓ cup milk
2 cups flour
nuts – optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 13” pan.
Mix in the order given alternating with milk and flour.
Pour into pan.
Bake 30 minutes. Cut into bars.

Dec 1 14

M&M Oatmeal Cookies

by KellysCravings

M&M Oatmeal Cookies
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Really, it is for our family. My kids get into the spirit of Christmas too. Maybe because we finally get the weather we love. One of our favorite Christmas things to do is bake M&M Oatmeal Cookies for Santa. Remember my love for M&M Cookies at Diddy Riese? We save all our little M&M packages the kids collect on Halloween and we make these cookies a few days before Christmas. This recipe is a take on a classic Nestle Choc-Oat-Chip Cookie, but we love the colorful and crunchy candies inside. Happy Christmas to all!

M&M Oatmeal Cookies
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1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
2 cups M&M candy, plain, peanut and peanut butter
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels and nuts; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 to 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Oh, don’t forget about the reindeer.
M&M Oatmeal Cookies2

Adapted from: Nestle

Nov 10 14

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

by KellysCravings

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
I have never posted about my love of pumpkin foods in the fall. Me in the fall!
One Sunday the beginning of October, my family went to Trader Joe’s. We filled our cart with everything pumpkin in the store such as: granola, yogurt, bagels, cream cheese, ravioli, biscotti, soup, bars and oh the list goes on. But my favorite pumpkin item there I have talked about before: Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix.

I have previously posted another bread recipe Layered Pumpkin Loaf. But, the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread has been my favorite fall breakfast treat. I found it online back in the dark ages from a bed & breakfast location. I wish I knew more about this place other than I found a fabulous recipe that my entire family looks forward to every fall season. I mean can you really go wrong starting your day with chocolate?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
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4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 15oz. can pumpkin
1 12oz. package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs and sugar. Mix in rest of the ingredients.
Spray 2 loaf pans or 24 muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Fill pans.
Bake in a preheated oven approximately 60 minutes for bread or 20 minutes for muffins.

Adapted from: The Carriage Inn

Mar 14 14

Queen Mary

by KellysCravings

Queen Mary
Happy 3rd Blogoversary to me! While I’ve been too busy eating to post much in the last year, I thought today would be a perfect time to update my site. (See previous blogoversary posts: Lego Marshmallow Pops and Pistachio Ice Cream.)

I have been to the Queen Mary many times for all sorts of occasions including my senior prom, an engagement party, a wedding and even a funeral. This latest outing was for my bi-annual tea with my mom, Debbie and Kim in December. (See previous tea outings: Millennium Biltmore Hotel and Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge)

RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. Queen Mary was officially retired from service in 1967. She sailed for the last time to the port of Long Beach, CA, where she remains permanently moored. The ship now serves as a tourist attraction featuring restaurants, a museum, and hotel. The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Queen Mary Tea Room did not disappoint. It was a rainy day but cleared up just before arriving at the ship. We sat near a window which overlooks the Queensway Bay. The four of us all had the Windsor Tea; they also serve lunch. The staff here was quite attentive and was able to get us what we needed before we really needed it. As usual we were all quite stuffed by the end of our visit.

Queen Mary2

There is currently an exhibit with Princess Diana memorabilia. While we did think about going, Debbie and Kim said they had gone to Kensington Palace while they were in England in 2002. I said I had been there in 2001. We all thought it would be similar to what we had already seen.

Jul 4 13

Diddy Riese

by KellysCravings

Diddy Riese
Anyone who knows me or my blog understands my love of ice cream. Is there anything better on a hot summer day than an ice cream sandwich? A college friend of mine introduced me to a place in Westwood, CA called Diddy Riese (pronounced DD Reese). I remember back in the day (20 years ago) when their freshly baked cookies were $.25 EACH! I’ve thought about this place many times over the years.

My mom has been seeing a Retinologist Doctor at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA Medical Center since December. We’ve come up for many visits but never get around Westwood because her appointments are SO long. The kids are now on summer break and time was on our side last week. After lunch, my mom treated us all to Diddy Riese where they’ve raised their prices to $.35 per cookie and $1.75 for an ice cream sandwich. Where in LA can you get a deal like that? Of course we all had the ice cream sandwiches. I got Mint Chip Ice Cream sandwiched between two M & M cookies. Heaven!
Diddy Riese Menu

Mar 14 13

Lego Marshmallow Pops and Lego Water Bottles

by KellysCravings

Lego Marshmallow Pops
Happy 2nd Blogoversary to me!

Two years ago I started this blog to share my love of food. Some recipes and restaurants have not made it on because we ate the food so fast I forgot to photograph it!

Last year’s Blogoversary talked about my love of Pinterest. My youngest child recently had a birthday party. A Lego theme was requested so I scoured Pinterest for some goodie bag ideas. While I’ve always wanted to make my own cake pops, I wasn’t really sure how. I thought big marshmallows would do just fine. I affixed an M & M with frosting on top before dipping them in yellow candy melts I bought at Michaels. The problem with that was the M & M started to melt. Next time I will try a small marshmallow. Then I melted chocolate chips to make their little faces.

Lego Water Bottles
For the water bottles, my hubby created these on Photoshop and I had copies made at Office Max. I removed the water bottle label and taped our own on.

Feb 1 13

Strawberry Raspberry Jam

by KellysCravings

Strawberry Raspberry Jam
Last Valentine’s Day I sent my kids to school with some fabulous treats. This year will be a different treat. Over the summer I went on a jam making kick. I previously wrote about my Orange Marmalade and Plum Jam. My kids and I wanted to take full advantage of the fresh summer fruits. Not only did we make Strawberry Jam and Raspberry Jam, but also Cherry Jam with Rainier Washington Cherries. I had a little bit of strawberries and raspberries left over, but not enough to make a whole batch of jam so I combined the two into one flavorful jam! It is the perfect color for a Valentine’s Day treat!

Strawberry Raspberry Jam
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2 cups prepared strawberries (buy about 2 qt. fully ripe berries total)
2 cups raspberries
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
1 pouch Sure Jell or CERTO Fruit Pectin

Bring boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Stem and crush strawberries and raspberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups crushed strawberries into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.

Add sugar; stir. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

If berries are extra ripe, use 3-3/4 cups prepared fruit and add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.

Adapted from: Sure Jell

Dec 26 12

Cyclops Cookies

by KellysCravings

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Since I met my husband, my mother-in-law has been saying how Dylan’s favorite cookies are the Cyclops Cookies (aka Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies). She has pointed them out in magazines over the years but I have just never made them. Frankly, I had never even eaten one! Last weekend she was staying with us so we could celebrate Christmas early with her. Most years we make her Gingerbread cookies. She and the kids not only made the gingerbread cookies, but they also made the Cyclops cookies! I got to eat one straight out of the oven – melted chocolate in the center of a warm peanut butter cookie. Peanut butter and chocolate have always been the perfect pairing to me!

Cyclops Cookes
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½ cup butter
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
48 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

In a large mixer bowl beat the butter or margarine and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the white sugar and the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat well.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour baking powder, salt and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed gradually add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Beat until well combined. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in additional sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate kiss atop each cookie. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool.

Yields: 4 dozen cookies

Adapted from: All Recipes

Oct 29 12

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie

by KellysCravings

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie
Last year I talked about our Halloween traditions. This year I’m going to talk about my good friend, Christina. October is breast cancer awareness month. Christina, or CP as I like to call her, has been battling breast cancer all year. She found out early this year that she had breast cancer through her mammogram. She also tested positive for the gene. After undergoing chemotherapy, she had her double mastectomy in August and just five short weeks later, she had a hysterectomy. She is one of the strongest and most resilient people I know.

About five years ago, CP and I were at a friend’s house for a Pampered Chef party. They made this recipe for Tangy Pepper Pecan Brie. It was delicious. I love the sweetness of the preserves and the spiciness of the jalapeno. CP made this at my house last year for some of our girlfriends.

I made a Sundried Tomato Pesto version earlier this year. Lately I have substituted the apricot preserves for my homemade orange marmalade. It is just as fantastic.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
Every 2 minutes, there is a new diagnosis
Every 14 minutes a life is lost to the disease
85% of all diagnoses have no family history
In honor of CP (who is 45), my cousin, Grace who died of breast cancer at 33 and Nonna, my grandma-in-law, who beat breast cancer last year…PLEASE go get your mammogram!

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie
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1 loaf (16 ounces) French baguette
1 4-inch round (8 ounces) Brie cheese with rind, room temperature
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
¼ cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 425°F. Chop jalapeno and combine with the preserves; mix well.

Cut Brie in half horizontally. Place one half of Brie, cut side up, onto center of Stoneware. Spread half of the preserve mixture evenly over bottom half of Brie. Top with half of the pecans and remaining half of Brie, cut side up. Spread remaining preserve mixture over Brie; sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Using a bread knife, cut baguette on a bias into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange baguette slices around Brie. Bake 8-10 minutes or until baguette slices are golden brown and Brie begins to soften. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

Camembert cheese can be substituted for the Brie, if desired.