Pies for Pi Day

Anyone know what holiday is tomorrow (March 14)? It's one of my favorite holidays - Pi Day! Pi is a mathematical constant that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It's been determined to over a trillion places without ending or repeating digits. You can learn more about pi and Pi day here.

The first few digits of pi are 3.14159265358, hence the reason 3/14 is Pi Day. The holiday is extra special this year since the next two digits in pi are '15' and tomorrow is 3/14/15! Only every hundred years does that happen. I've always been a bit of a math nerd and even kept a journal when I was little to try to see how many digits of pi I could calculate. Even if you aren't a math nerd like me, Pi Day is a great excuse to enjoy another one of my favorites - pie!

Check out some of my favorite pie recipes from the last few years and celebrate tomorrow with  slice of pie! The recipes include fruit pies, quick and simple sweet pies, a savory pot pie, and pie inspired cupcakes.

Banana Caramel Pie - delicious pie filled with banana and caramel goodness!

KY Pie Cupcakes - cupcake with all the flavors of a KY pie!

34 Birthday Cakes/Cupcakes for Kids

One of my favorite types of cakes to make are cakes for kids birthday parties. Whether its sports, animals, or a beloved character, there are endless opportunities and options out there for themes! Today I'm sharing a round-up of 34 kids birthday cake ideas I've created over the last few years. Most have a blog post associated with them, so you can click on them to find more information about how I made the cupcakes/cakes.


First up are some cakes and cupcakes for kids who love flowers, rainbows, and creatures of all shapes and sizes. My personal favorites are the garden theme and ladybugs!

          Ladybug Cupcakes                  Flower Garden Cake/Cupcakes

    Butterfly Cake                                Rainbow Cupcakes

Banana Pudding Cake

One of my favorite aspects of blogging is being creative and transforming something that is ordinary. Whether its reinventing a classic dessert, repurposing an everyday item, or adding an unexpected ingredient, I love experimenting and adding my own twist. I recently watched an episode of Trisha Yearwood's Food Network show where she did just that with a Southern staple - banana pudding. I was so intrigued by the recipe, that I knew I had to try it myself! Trisha transforms the classic dessert into a cake, while maintaining all of the important elements - bananas, vanilla pudding, and vanilla wafers.

Both the vanilla wafers and the bananas are included in the cake which contribute to its rich flavor and moist texture. In fact the vanilla wafers replace the flour, I'm definitely trying that in other cake recipes! The final element of banana pudding is vanilla pudding. In the cake recipe, the pudding serves as the filling between the two thin layers of cake. Trisha's original recipe calls for a homemade pudding, but I used an instant box mix.

I've made a couple recipes lately that call for powdered sugar to be dusted on top of the dessert, such as my bananas and brown sugar french toast. Every time I have a recipe that calls for that I wish that powdered sugar was sold in a shaker dispenser at my local grocery instead of a box. My go to buttercream recipe calls for a whole box and I hate to open one just for finishing a dessert! After saying this multiple times, I finally decided just to make my own powdered sugar dispenser by repurposing a small Parmesan cheese dispenser. It seals nicely so I will have powdered sugar on hand the next time I need it to dust a dessert with powdered sugar; no more partially used boxes laying around!

Brown Sugar and Banana Baked French Toast

Any fans out there of the Food Network show, Worst Cooks in America? My husband and I enjoy watching the show and following the progress of the contestants. This past season, chef Tyler Florence replaced Bobby Flay as one of the mentors. At first we were disappointed, we really like Bobby Flay! We've tried many of his recipes (ancho chile fries, burgers, and bourbon ancho chile pork chops) and even been to a couple restaurants (Mesa Grill and Bobby's Burger Palace). Tyler Florence did a great job mentoring, though, and we ended up with a couple recipes we wanted to try out that he demoed on the show. For those of you who don't watch the show, each week the mentors teach the contestants a different skill and recipe. We've picked up some great tips, tricks, and recipes from the show.

The recipe that caught our eye this past season was Tyler Florence's french toast roast. I love french toast, but we have never actually made it. As I mentioned in my lemon blueberry pancake post last week, we don't typically cook much for breakfast in the mornings. My routine usually consists of some instant oatmeal. But, a couple weekends ago we decided to make the french toast recipe for a Saturday morning breakfast.

We LOVED the french toast roast! It takes a while to complete all the steps and make it, but it is well worth the wait and work. The roast is covered with a deliciously sweet brown sugar sauce and bananas. The original recipe calls for the bananas to be cooked with the french toast...I wasn't a fan of the cooked bananas. The same thing happened when I made our favorite bananas foster sauce (which would also be good on the french toast). I prefer fresh banana slices, so I've changed up the recipe some to indicate that. If you prefer them cooked, then place them in the sauce before cooking the french toast. We also left out the pecans, because my husband is not a fan. You could add a couple cups of chopped pecans or walnuts to add a crunch to the french toast.

Brown Sugar and Banana Baked French Toast ingredients:

French toast:
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 loaf brioche bread (best if a day old)
Brown Sugar Sauce
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Also needed:
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large bananas
  • Powdered sugar
Brown Sugar and Banana Baked French Toast instructions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Break all eggs and whisk together in a bowl
  • Add the sugar, cream, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to create the custard
  • Whisk the custard ingredients together until sugar is fully dissolved
  • Trim the crust from the brioche loaf and cut down until you have a cylinder (approximately 4x6)
  • Place the brioche in a dish and cover with the custard (this is NOT the dish you will be baking in)
  • Let the custard soak into the bread for at least 15 mins, turn the bread occasionally so it is soaked in evenly
  • While soaking, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for the sauce
  • Pour the sauce into a roasting pan - this will be what you bake the french toast in
  • After done soaking, melt 2 tbs of butter in a 10-inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Sprinkle the brioche with sugar and place it (sugar side down) in the pan
  • Sprinkle the top with sugar and leave in pan 1-2 minutes
  • Continue sprinkling each side with sugar and searing for 1-2 mins until all sides are golden brown
  • Carefully place bread over brown sugar mixture in the roasting pan
  • Bake for 15 mins, or until bread is caramelized
  • Dust with sugar and serve

French toast was on my recipe bucket list, so another one is checked off! Check out my list to see what all I've finished, and what is still to come.

Joshua Tree National Park

This past week I've been traveling for work and got to trade frigid snowy weather for sunny California skies! I love traveling and since I have a food blog I  sometimes follow up with a post about my favorite food spots (check out a few including NYCCincinnati, and Disney World). Sadly this trip was mainly airport and hotel conference food. We did eat at a couple local restaurants, but I just had some dental work and couldn't fully appreciate the cuisine. It's a bummer to not get to eat homemade tortilla chips and salsa at an authentic Mexican restaurant!

Instead of a food summary, I decided to share pictures from our tour of Joshua Tree National Park. Most my time in California was spent in hotel conference rooms, but my co-workers and I came in a day early to do a little site seeing before the conference began. My boss had noticed we would be near Joshua Tree National Park, so we decided to explore the area. I wasn't quite expecting how massive and beautiful the park would be, if you are ever in that part of California you have to check it out!

While visiting the park, we encountered two things you don't typically see: rain in the desert and snow in southern California. Hearing from the locals, both are pretty rare! We didn't let the cold (well cold for southern California), rain, and snow slow us down. We spent hours venturing through the park, taking pictures out in the rain, and hiking. My fitness band said we walked almost 12,000 steps in the park - it was a welcomed change after a previous day full of sitting around on planes and at the airport.

If you are unfamiliar with the park, you can read more about it here. The park contains two distinct environments, as you progress through the park you can see the gradual change from the Mojave desert to the Colorado desert. We didn't see any wildlife other than birds, but I was fine with not running into any snakes! The park contains Joshua trees, ocotillo plants, chollo cactus plants, large rocks and boulders, beautiful landscapes, and majestic mountains. It's hard to explain the beauty of the park, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Batman Cake

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na - Batman!

It's been a while since I've made a cake, but I had a chance to design and decorate a cake recently for a friend's family birthday celebration. Thankfully my friend gave me full reign to figure that the design of the cake, I love coming up with my own plan for the cakes.

I enjoy all the aspects of making a cake, but one of my favorite parts is trying to envision and design the cake in my mind. I am not a talented illustrator, so I usually leave the ideas in my mind and don't draw them on paper. I find sometimes the idea doesn't translate to the paper quite like I envisioned in my head. This is especially true if I try to get too complicated and make it very busy. Sometimes a busy cake works for a particular design, but most the time less really is more! I was pleased with the more simplistic design of this cake, it came out looking like what I pictured in my mind. Thankfully the family I made it for was pleased with the taste and the look!

Here's how I made the cake: