no kid hungry

All I want for my birthday is…

As per usual, the end of the quarter at school brings on Panic Mode. This quarter I’m trying to get my menu project wrapped up and it’s a LOT of work. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled recipes and ridiculousness soon. Pinky Swear!

Today is my birthday. I’m never very good at answering those, “What do you want for… (your birthday, Christmas, etc.)?” type questions. It just feels weird to ask for things. I’ve gotten a couple of awesome gifts this year without ever asking, and I like it way more when someone gives because they want to instead of because they feel like they have to.

But I’m going to ask you all for something on my birthday.

Go out to dinner tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or any time this month, really. But, don’t go to just any old restaurant. Go to one that is participating in No Kid Hungry’s Dine Out campaign. These restaurants have promised to help raise money to end childhood hunger in a variety of ways, from special menu items to giving you the opportunity to donate at the register. Some of them are really nice restaurants, and some of them are your local fast food joint, so how much money you spend, and donate, is totally your call. But, you have to do it by the end of September. Maybe even do it more than once.

Yeah, I’m asking as a birthday present for me, but really, I think we all win. You get to eat out, and kids right there in your community get better access to the nutritious food they need to do well in school, retain what they are learning, and keep their little brains and bodies working like they should.

Go here, type in your zip code, and find a place to grub. Just like that, you’re part of the solution. Feels pretty good,  yeah?

For the rest of the month, I’ll be talking about two things.

1) My trip to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. I’m so excited I could mess myself. But I won’t, because that would be embarrassing.


2) Organizations that are really putting it out there to end childhood hunger.

For a sneak peak, check out the guest post I did over on the Heroes Like Us site. There’s some great information about No Kid Hungry’s efforts to get every school kid a good breakfast every day, and also, a delicious and easy breakfast idea to help kick start your day. Lookie there, another win-win!


Let’s #SaveSummer

You guys, I REALLY want to get back to a regular posting schedule this summer. I’m working on it, and I’m a little frustrated that I haven’t been able to post consistently, but Life is Life, and we just do our best, right?

I did want to take some time today to talk about something pretty important for those hundreds of thousands of kids who are starting to get out of school for the summer. For lots of kids, getting out of school means freedom, running around the neighborhood with friends, trips to the pool,  vacations, and cook-outs with family, friends, and neighbors. But, for many of the 21 million children in this country who rely on free breakfast and/or lunch at school as maybe their only meal of the day, summer might be something a little scary. They could spend their summer months without enough to eat, and that just seriously breaks my heart.

large-f398cb9d6bc79ae5 Thankfully, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is stepping up. Families in your area, and all over the country, can text FOOD to 877-877 to get information on free summer meals being served in their area. The simplest thing you can do to help this effort is to post the info to your social media accounts:

“This summer, families can find free #SummerMeals for kids in their community by texting FOOD to 877-877 #NoKidHungry

However, there are lots of other ways to help, from donating funds, to reaching out to your Congressman to request their help in funding summer food programs. The folks at No Kid Hungry have made it so easy to find the way to help that works best for you. Just click the link to get started.

This is such an easy way to help save summer for millions of kids. I hope you’ll all take some time to help spread the word!

We baked a difference!

Hi folks! Just a quick update to fill you all in on how my very first Blogger Bake Sale went…

I spent the morning prior to the bake sale visiting all the different offices in my building to make sure they knew about it, and had my elves put signage up all over the place on the morning of the sale, just to make sure no one missed the fact that we were selling deliciousness for a good cause. We were set up by 11, with the intention of staying open until 1pm. We had everything from pink lemonade cupcakes, to marshmallow-dark chocolate brownies, to lemon-blueberry pound cake, and the line formed at 10:58am. Things were looking good.

(By the way, if you’re looking for a really great, straight-forward brownie recipe, this one is wonderful! I just added a layer of marshmallows on top during the last 3 minutes of baking to make them extra gooey.)

By noon we had sold 3/4 of our goods, and had raised over $200. In fact, things went so fast that I didn’t have time to take pictures before we had to start selling. By 12:45pm, we were totally sold out, and we had raised $311! That doesn’t count the few online donations we received, as well.


It was a crazy busy week, but in the end, totally worth it! My fellow bakers and I, plus our volunteers who helped set up, sell, and tear down, have a lot to be proud of, and we’re very lucky to work with people who are so generous. I will definitely be doing this again next year. Maybe I can organize something at school. Hmmm…

There’s still time to make a donation, if you’d like. Just head on over here.

Don’t die of shock, but we’ll actually have a recipe on Thursday, and it won’t be sweet OR baked! I’m going to share one of my favorite summertime snacks with you, so stay tuned.

“You owe me one.”

That’s what chef said to me last night as he was assigning out recipes for the evening. I was ready to volunteer to make anything else on the menu other than dessert, even the pain in the ass crab soup,  after last week’s gingerbread debacle. He had other things in mind.

“I think we all know who is in charge of dessert tonight, ” he said as he looked me right in the eye. “You owe me one.” And just like that, I was making Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze.

So off I went to the bake shop to get the pans, then back to the kitchen to get something into the oven as quickly as possible and start working on the back-up just in case the first one failed again. Why did the gingerbread collapse last week? Because I didn’t mix it long enough. At home, I don’t have a stand mixer. I do everything by hand, so I mix and mix and mix those cake batters to death. I assumed that the mixing time would be shorter with the stand mixer, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. My batter was under mixed and my cupcakes fell. Simple as that.

So, this week, I took that lesson to heart and built in plenty of time for mixing. Also, instead of doubling the recipe up front, I simply made the recipe twice (well, one and a half times). I’m not the best at math and while doubling a recipe sounds pretty simple, it’s actually really easy to screw one up if your math isn’t spot on.

This recipe as it’s written is meant for a bundt cake pan, but feel free to just make two 8 inch layers instead. I ended up doing a full bundt cake, plus half the recipe for another single layer cake.

2 Mixing bowls and a spoon and your stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one
measuring cups and spoons
medium sized pot
pastry brush (a cheap 25 cent paint brush from Home Depot is fine)
small bowl
bundt pan, tube pan, or two 8 inch cake pans

For the cake:
1 C unsalted butter at room temperature
2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
3 C All Purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2 C unsweetened applesauce
1 C raisins
1 C coarsley chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/4 C evaporated milk

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease and flour your cake pan(s).

Sift together the 10 oz (about 2 and 1/3 cups) flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. Set aside. Dredge the nuts and the raisins in the remaining flour so they’re well coated. This will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in well.

Alternate adding the applesauce and the sifted ingredients a bit at a time, mixing each addition in very well before adding the next, until all of it is incorporated and the batter is well mixed. (see? now i’m obsessed with mixing until my arm falls off!)


Fold the raisins and nuts into the batter. Pour into your prepared pan(s), making sure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. My bundt cake took about an hour and ten minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then carefully loosen the sides and invert onto a rack to continue cooling for another 30 minutes or so. This is a pretty moist cake, so it’s important to let it cool completely so it doesn’t fall apart on you when you try to cut into it.

While the cake is cooling, you can make the glaze.

Put at least a cup or so of cold water in the small bowl.

Combine the evaporated milk, the brown sugar, and the butter together in a pot over medium low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Keep stirring (not too vigorously) as the mixture starts to cook. You want it to reach soft ball stage, or about 220° – 235° on a candy thermometer.

Wash down the sides of the pot with your cold water and the pastry brush if you start to see the sugar crystallize on the sides.  You want to re-dissolve those crystals into the caramel before they have a chance to fall off in a big chunk into your mixture. Once that happens you have to start all over because just one little seed crystal can set the whole she-bang to solidifying. On top of having ruined the caramel, it becomes a giant pain in the tookus to clean the pan because it all seizes up into brown concrete.

When the caramel reaches the right temperature and consistency (drizzle-able? is that word? i think i just made it one), remove the pot from the heat and beat it with a whisk or a spoon until it thickens. If your cake isn’t ready to come out of the oven yet, leave the pot on the warm stove top while you wait so it doesn’t get too cool. You’ll probably have to give it another quick stir before you glaze your cake with it.

Once your cake is cool, it’s time to serve!

This is the bundt cake…


annnd here’s the other single layer cake…


As you can see, both are pretty delicious looking, so go with whatever works for the way you want to serve it.

I feel pretty vindicated this week… so vindicated, in fact, that I’m thinking I’m going to use this recipe for cupcakes to sell at our Blogger Bake Sale in a few weeks. Just a reminder, if you’re in the Denver area on May 2nd and want to stop by, feel free! If you are out of state and would like to hold your own bake sale, just join the team! Orrr… if you just want to contribute some cash to the cause, I won’t turn down your money!

Click here for all the details.

Best Laid Plans and All That Jazz

It’s a late post, and a quick one, but I promised an update today, and I try to be a woman of my word.

Plans are moving along. We’ll start recruiting bakers for the Blogger Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry hardcore on Monday. I wanted to tell you about all the fun recipes I’m testing, but as you know, school started this week, and it’s kicking my tooshie getting back into the swing of things.

I can tell you about one baking project I started this morning before I left for work. It’s a sourdough starter. I’ll do a full blown walk through after the weekend, but what I can tell you now is that it’s not a regular starter. I used the dregs from a bottle of a beer called Slap Your Momma in it. Those dregs still have a lot of little yeastie beasties in them, and those, along with the wild yeast that is naturally in the air, will hopefully join forces to make an interesting sourdough.

Here’s a picture of my infant starter. I’ll feed it a little every day to keep it bubbling and alive until it’s ready to use.


I’m hoping to make some delicious mini loaves to sell at the bake sale. Fingers are crossed!