Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

CORNERIt’s been quite the week so far! I got a really great promotion at work (woohoo Manager of Communications), we are so close to finishing up our living room project, Mr. JD and I just booked a much needed vacation, AND I found the most adorable old dresser at the thrift store that I will turn into a coffee bar (stay tuned for more on that). $9, solid wood—awesome!

To celebrate, I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite cakes, the classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I must confess, I snagged the ingredients to make the cake for my mother-in-law, who came to help us peel wallpaper (UGH!), but the recipe makes two, one layer cakes, so it was actually kind of perfect.

This recipe isn’t vegan (you can make it vegan with egg beaters and Earth Fare vegan butter), but it is super easy—I basically follow the boxed ingredients and make it slightly healthier and add a secret ingredient! This recipe is super flavorful and reminds me of summer, it’s also not too sweet and not too rich, which is great because I hate the taste of butter!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large jar of pineapple rings, plus juice
  • 6 maraschino cherries
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. vanilla
  • 1 box pineapple upside down cake mix
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg with yolk
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • Coconut oil non-stick spray
  • 2 round baking pans

Directions:

IMG_20160412_183317First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out all of your ingredients. Next, open your can of pineapples and remove two full ring and place them in a bowl; leave the juice and the rest of the pineapple rings in the can. Next, open the bag of cake mix and empty into a large mixing bowl. Add two egg whites and one whole egg to the mix, in addition to 1/3 c. oil. Next, in lieu of water, add 1 c. pineapple juice. This keeps the cake super flavorful and moist, which allows you to cut some of the fat out of the cake (I like to use egg whites whenever possible). Mix the ingredients together with a hand mixer until completely smooth.

Next, in a separate bowl, melt the butter and the brown sugar. While this is in the microwave, spray your baking pans with cooking spray and get ready to arrange your pineapples. You can arrange these however you want, I like to take a knife and cut through the rings, essentially halving the pineapple rings and then arrange them in a pan so they will make a pretty design. Place three maraschino cherries in the center of the pan. Next, remove the butter and sugar mix from the microwave and add the vanilla, stir then empty into the two pans all over the pineapple. Next add the cake batter to the pan, making sure you spread the batter to the edges.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Each pan and oven is different, you’ll know when the cake is finished because it will pass the toothpick test and it will be a golden brown. Set the cakes to cool on a rack for about 40 minutes. Next, you are going to flip over the cooled cake after running a knife around the edges of the pan. Once you have flipped over the cake pan onto a plate give all sides of the pan a little knock with a spoon. This will help the cake loosen and fall from the pan beautifully.

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Last, enjoy with some orange spice tea (my style) or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (Mr. JD style). 🙂

 

 

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Christmas in a Crock-Pot: Slower Cooker Apple Crisp!

Merry Christmas!
I have a confession to make: I fully support the Christmas Creep. There’s nothing I love more than that feeling you get around the holidays. I love seeing Christmas trees in the stores…the other day I saw this dinosaur Menorah on Etsy and I missed the beautiful temples back in New England. I just love the holidays; Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus—I love it all!

IMG_20151108_183349Above all, my favorite is this certain Christmas smell that reminds me of a combination of cinnamon, cold air, and a cozy home. It’s. my. favorite. So, of course, I decided to make the most cinnamon-y thing I could think of, Crock-Pot Apple Crisp.

Because I was making this for other people besides myself, I made it with caramel—however this can easily be made vegan with a few swaps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Honeycrisp Apples (I don’t peel the skin because it’s good for you, but if you choose to use 5 apples)
  • 1/2 c. Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 c. Brown Sugar, parted into 1/2 c. and 1/4 c.
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 3 tbs Cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbs Nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. Flour
  • 1/2 c. Oats
  • 1/2 stick butter (swap out for 1/4 c. coconut oil if making vegan)
  • 1/2 bag caramel chips (or use this recipe for vegan caramel)

IMG_20151108_184516Directions:

  • Cut apples into small pieces and put into a bowl. Again, I keep the skins on because they are nutritious, but totally not a requirement.
  • Mix the 1/2 c. Maple Syrup, 1/2 Brown Sugar, Cinnamon Powder, Nutmeg, and a few caramel chips in the bowl with the apples and mix together. If you are using the vegan caramel throw in a few teaspoons.
  • In a separate bowl, add the 1/2 c. Flour, 1/2 c. Oats, Melted Butter (or coconut oil), and 1/2 bag caramel chips (or 1 c. vegan caramel sauce) and mix.
  • Add your apples to the bottom of your crock pot, add the oat mix to the top of the apples, then throw in the cinnamon sticks.
  • Turn your crock-pot onto low and cook for 4 hours. You can certainly cook it for less time than 4 hours if you like your apples a little more firm. Sadly, I have to cook the apples until they are about mush because I have a weird fruit allergy and can’t eat the apple skin unless its fully cooked.
  • Serve warm topped with frozen yogurt or coconut ice cream if you are staying vegan!

IMG_20151108_220014I love this recipe because I can make it vegan, I can literally toss everything into a slow cooker, and it smells like Christmas all day long. Also, it’s super tasty!

Pop Goes The Cupcake!

Humble

I am the first to admit if I can take a baking short cut, I totally will. Typically, I like to put the time and care into making things from scratch, like this lemon blueberry cake with citrus cream cheese frosting, but I don’t always have that kind of time. For these special occasions I revert to a magical recipe that requires just three things: boxed cake mix, cream soda, and a can of icing.

My husband has three loves in this world—metallica, me, and rainbow chip frosting. A few years ago they discontinued rainbow chip and my husband was so desperate for the sweet stuff that he took to the internet to try to buy some from Amazon (not even kidding). Well, a few weeks ago he found out that rainbow chips were back and that is when I decided to make this lower fat (not low calorie) version of these vanilla cupcakes.

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Because these cupcakes contain no meat/dairy—I do believe they are vegan, but that’s like saying twizzlers are vegan—while they may be the case, they aren’t necessarily healthy. Also, I am pretty sure once you put the canned icing on the cupcakes aren’t vegan any longer.

Alas, I needed a quick fix and a tasty dessert because I wanted to husband to do some volunteer work with me this Friday and what better way to sweeten a deal than with some cupcakes.

IMG_20151020_191853Ingredients

  • 1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 2 c. Cream Soda Pop (or diet cream soda if you are want to cut out more calories)
  • 1 can Rainbow Chip Icing


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl add two cups of the cream soda to the vanilla cake mix and mix. Next, you’ll want to generously coat your cupcake pan with cooking spray, as the cupcakes will be slightly sticky once they come out. Pop your cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. The time you take in the oven may be a little longer or shorter depending on the size of the molds in your cupcake tin—mine are larger cupcakes so they take the full twenty minutes.

Once your cupcakes are completely cooled, take them out of the tin, ice them and enjoy!