Chocolate Icebox Cake

Chocolate Icebox Cake

I made my first icebox cake a couple of years ago and fell in love with its simplicity and the infinite number of different flavor possibilities. Now that summer is here and we lose our desire to turn on the oven on a hot summer day, no-bake desserts are the way to go!

This chocolate ice box cake might very well be one of my most favorite desserts that I’ve ever made. Seriously! It’s so perfect and dreamy and chocolatey! My whole family was pretty obsessed with this cake.

Chocolate Icebox Cake

This icebox cake is pretty simple to make. All you have to do is whip up some heavy cream, add cocoa powder and sugar and then this whipped chocolate amazingness gets spread between layers of chocolate graham crackers. Oh, and I also threw in some mini chocolate chips for good measure!

Chocolate Icebox Cake

Strawberry Gin Smash

Strawberry Gin Smash

Tomorrow is the first official day of summer and while we’ve still got quite a bit of June Gloom going on here in the OC, it’s starting to warm up and I’m ready for BBQs and fruity and refreshing cocktails!

I don’t consider myself to be a big gin drinker. Definitely don’t hate it, but it’s not typically my first choice in a cocktail. Mint is another ingredient that I can’t say is my favorite unless it’s in ice cream.

But, in a smash cocktail? I love these flavors together and when you add fresh strawberries too? Count me in! This Strawberry Gin Smash is the perfect cocktail to sip on a hot day!

Strawberry Gin Smash

A smash is somewhat similar to a mint julep cocktail, except you’ve got gin instead of bourbon. A smash, as you might guess, involves mixing a bit of lime juice and sugar together and then muddling some fresh mint leaves and strawberries. Then you just top off your glass with gin, club soda, and ice and you’ve got a really light and refreshing cocktail!

You can add as much or as little sugar as you’d like. I add about a 1/2-1 teaspoon of sugar per drink. I also muddle one mint leave, but if you love mint, feel free to add more! If gin is not your thing, you can also make this cocktail with vodka.

This recipe is for two drinks served in tumbler glasses. You could adapt it as needed to be served in a pitcher if you’d prefer. Just make sure that you give the pitcher a good stir every so often as the sugar can sometimes settle on the bottom.

Strawberry Gin Smash

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper. It’s been about a gazillion years since I’ve had it. My dad used to make it for dinner sometimes and as a kid, I’m pretty sure that I thought it was the best dinner ever.

Making macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot/pressure cooker is so easy and delicious, I thought it would be easy to make an IP version of the classic boxed favorite! And I’m proud to report, this was every bit as delicious and comforting as I remember and even though I haven’t had it recently, much better given that it’s made with fresh ingredients!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

A couple of things to note before you start making this recipe! First, you have to freshly grate your cheddar cheese. Seriously. You may be tempted to buy pre-shredded cheese, but I can tell you it’s not going to melt the way you want it to. Shredded cheese often contains other ingredients to prevent clumping and impacts its ability to melt. So, get out the grater for this one. I promise it’s worth it! It only takes a few minutes and you can do it while the pasta cooks.

Second thing to note, even though there are 4 cups of water in the pot, you might get the burn notice as this is cooking. There’s a few ways to avoid this. First, make sure your pot is clean before cooking. Then, after browning your beef, you will pour a little water in and really try to scrape up those browned bits off the bottom of your pan with a spatula.

Finally, once I pour the macaroni in, I don’t bother stirring it all in with the beef and water. I just make sure most of it is covered. I think the macaroni not being directly on the bottom also helps avoid that warning.

One other thing – I’ve seen a lot of Mac and cheese or other recipes like this that call for broth over water. I’ve made it both ways and I prefer using just plain water. I don’t like the saltiness that broth adds or the flavor. Mac and cheese shouldn’t taste…brothy, IMO. So I like to use water, but if you would rather use a low-sodium beef broth, you totally can!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler

Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble – I used to have no idea what the difference was between these desserts. I always thought they were the same thing and the different names were just a regional thing. Finally when I started blogging back in 2011, I did my research and found that although they are very similar, the toppings are different.

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler

Crisps and Crumbles are often made with oats and have a less cake-like texture. Cobblers have a lightly sweetened biscuit-like topping. I think the only version of a cobbler I ever had growing up was topped with boxed cake mix topping, which of course, is delicious, but I wanted to finally make the real thing!

Blueberries and strawberries are just perfection right now and are obviously so great for the 4th of July. So a Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler it was!

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler

To make the cobbler topping, you just need some flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, butter, and milk. After mixing up the dry ingredients, I add the cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture with my hands. A fork or pastry blender would also work fine. Then I add an egg and touch of milk and that’s it!

What I like about cobblers is though the topping can be a bit thicker than crisps, it’s also less sweet. This cobbler is definitely sweet, but not overly sweet. I forgot to buy some, but I also recommend serving the cobbler with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top!

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler

Crunchy Baked Ranch Chickpeas

Crunchy Baked Ranch Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of those ingredients that I like to have stocked in my pantry at all times. I love being able to make a quick hummus, topping for salads, or for baking in the oven for a crunchy snack!

I’ve been obsessed with these taco chickpeas for a while and thought I’d give a new recipe a try with another one of my favorite flavors – ranch!

Crunchy Baked Ranch Chickpeas

These couldn’t be easier to make. After draining, I do like to take the added step of rubbing the chickpeas with a towel to work off some of the outer coating. I find the chickpeas get crunchier without it, but it doesn’t have to be perfect and you can skip that step if you’d like!

Crunchy Baked Ranch Chickpeas

Hummingbird Muffins

Hummingbird Muffins

I can’t quite remember the very first time I had hummingbird cake, but it was definitely some time ago when I was living in Tallahassee, which is actually pretty southern once you get out into the suburbs away from the hustle and bustle of the Florida State campus. I was blown away at how much I loved it.

I have always loved banana flavors and carrot cake so it’s only natural that hummingbird cake would instantly become one of my favorite cakes ever. I adore the warm flavors of banana and cinnamon and the added touch of crushed pineapple and nuts. It’s just dreamy and I haven’t had it in forever!

Hummingbird Muffins

Making a huge hummingbird cake for no reason would be pretty dangerous just sitting on my counter tempting me so hummingbird muffins seemed like a perfect compromise!

These muffins are a bit indulgent in the way of butter and are sweetened with brown sugar, but it’s much less compared to traditional hummingbird cake. And while I am madly in love with cream cheese frosting, I opted for some additional chopped nuts on top instead. Streusel topping would also be glorious if you’d prefer it, but I wanted to keep these lighter.

These muffins are fabulous for weekend baking or brunches. I made a batch and me and the girls ate a couple and stuck the rest in the freezer for snacks.

I opted to brown the butter for these. Browned butter is magical and adds incredible flavor to baked goods. If you are crunched for time or don’t feel like browning your butter, you can always just melt it in the microwave if you prefer!

Hummingbird Muffins