Books Books Books: Affordable Ways to Obtain More

I am such a bookworm. I have a serious book shelf problem. Yes, you read that right. Book shelf problem. Not enough book shelves to properly house all of my books.

Financially, I am living pay check to pay check. In other words, I’m constantly broke.

Because of this, I look for ways to save money on things I love, like booksbooksbooks.

Let’s talk getting books for little to no cost. Ready!?

  1. Sign up for Book Bub emails. I LOVE THIS EMAIL! You can choose your preferred genres, if you want daily emails, etc. And guess what? You get an email chock full of books that are currently on sale on a variety of platforms. These are e-books so if you’re not interested in them, skip this, but! keep in mind, Book Bub finds amazing deals. I mean, I downloaded 4 new books today for $0 to my Kindle. Yup. Freeeeeee.
  2. Sign up for newsletters from your favorite authors. No joke, a lot of authors do discounts, special sales, or even free e-books.
  3. Bookmooch! I adore Bookmooch. I am a person that reads a lot of books and sometimes, I feel that pull to keep the book so that I can read it again later but typically, I just pass them on. Bookmooch allows you to list any books you’d like to give away. Each book you list gives you a portion of a point. Bookmooch points allow you to “mooch” books from other people.
    In other words, you go browsing and find Joe Schmoe from Washington has a copy of Great Gatsby and you have been dying to read that again (true story). You send a mooch request. Joe agrees to send the book to you and boom. You’ve got Great Gatsby!
    The only cost associated with Bookmooch is the cost to ship books out. You can set up a profile stating that maybe you’ll send books out once a month or once a week. Whatever works for you.
    Personally, I tend to send mine out when I can afford the extra couple bucks to do so and not many people mind.
    If you’re picky about the condition of your book; be sure to check the condition descriptions. Sometimes you get some really worn copies and others you get a first edition Wuthering Heights hardcover. (yup.)
  4. Book Outlet and Book Depository. Both of these sites have really fantastic prices and excellent selections.
  5. Books A Million’s Millionaires Club. Seriously, I know, this is a big chain and it’s not the same as shopping local. I know, I know, I know. But! They have fantastic bargain book prices. They have a huge YA collection (Hands up to the over 30 crew that love YA! *Waves frantically*) and they offer discounts on everything. The club cost $25 a year and it gets you 10 to 40% off. You get lots of coupons and the coffee and tea offered at Joe Muggs is pretty delicious. Side note: don’t drink the Frappe unless your stomach is cool with artificial everything.
  6. Amazon Prime. Again, this has an initial cost and is a giant corporation. BUT! They obviously offer a giant selection and because Kindle is Amazon’s baby, you can find a ton of ebooks here. Bonus to being a Prime member (and I geek out over these two things) you get one free new release every month is you sign up for the Prime Reading newsletter annnnnd you get 10 titles at a time (also offered on Prime Reading) to borrow.
    In an effort to de-stress this Christmas. I borrowed 10 Christmas/Holiday reads that were geared for children and blew through most of them in one night. I’m actually still working on Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien which is just gorgeous and creative and lovely.
    The 10 titles you borrow can be kept as long as it take you to get through them and then you just click return when you’re finished and you have space to grab up another.
    Oh! And! If you like Audiobooks; you can stream featured Audible audiobooks for free as well. Yup!
  7. Which of course brings me to the most obvious money saver for books-GET A LIBRARY CARD! I can’t bear the idea that people are actually saying libraries are becoming obsolete. I adore my library. I used it all through middle and high school. Both rounds of college (a whole different story) and still now as an adult.
    I’m also super impressed that libraries have found a way to kind of keep with the times.
    My local library offers two different e-reading options; 3M and OverDrive. 3M-which follows whatever rules your library has for borrowing. So I could borrow up to 3 titles at a time and have them for 3 weeks each. This one has a super convenient app so if you like reading on your phone, download it.
    OverDrive allows you to borrow for 1 week at a time and I’m not sure there is a limit. I love the wish list feature on OverDrive because I am always finding more things I’m interested in reading. I have a Kindle so I tend to use OverDrive for my ebook borrowing. This allows it to get sent right to my Kindle. Speaking of, I have one waiting for me now-note to self, charge your Kindle.
  8. And just to even it out. Net Galley. Authors and publishers want their book to be read. They want buzz. They want feedback. If you like giving feedback, sign up for a Net Galley account now! The agreement is if you read it, you review it. It doesn’t need to be a huge review but by all means, have at it. You can link the account to a blog, a youtube feed, whatever you’d like. It’s super easy to sign up and you can find some great reads on there.

Woo! Now get to it, grab some new books and get reading. Personally, I find reading to be incredibly relaxing. It is my go-to de-stresser.



Let me re-introduce myself..

My name is HOV.

Wait. No. My name is Erika.

My brain does automatically fill in song lyrics on a regular basis though.

I’m also constantly spouting off trivia knowledge and weird grammatical rules.

I dance (pretty horribly) any time I need to laugh.

I organize, re-organize, and organize just about anything put in front of me.

I don’t know how to remain focused any more.

Hence, the tweak to this lovely little blog.

I am 34 years old and stressed on a regular basis.

A year ago, I became the head of my household. Suddenly, instead of splitting responsibilities with my incredibly independent mother and saving for vacations, dreaming up business ventures, and planning on moving into my own home, I was faced with needing to shift my plans.

First off, let me say, I am not complaining. I am not upset that I am a care giver. I am not angry that I spent the last year alternating between my Dad (who has since passed away) and my Mother’s needs. I am not.

They did everything they could possibly do for me. They we’re always supportive (in their own ways) and spoiled the crap out of me (and my older sister). We grew up well despite struggling. My life has been a lovely one.

In my adulthood, because adulting in hard and you know it, I have some how procured several stress related ailments.

I was a care free and full on silly child.

I am a hopeful to be care free adult who is incredibly awkward who is definitely still silly.

Those ailments I mentioned. The not so cute IBS. The super inconvenient Vertigo. The scary ass sounding Care Giver Burden. Oh and the stress induced lack of sleep and lack of focus.

I have turned into a ball of stress. Sometimes, its super manageable. Light a candle, grab a book, *poof* I’m good.

Other times, I sit at work and try not to sob.

I am stressed. This year, I am hoping that perhaps if I let myself fall back into things I loved. Things that are so a part of me. Things that bring me joy and make me smile. I am hoping that if I can just pull those into every day again. I can be Worry Free.

Before you say anything, I hear you thinking “worry free? yeah right.” I’m not saying that I will NEVER WORRY AGAIN! Ha! I know that isn’t a possibility.

I believe that I can live without feeling consumed by stress though. I know I can.

Now, let’s start having some fun, shall we? 🙂

Mickey Waffle Obsessed!

Just a few weeks ago I traveled across the country to California and enjoyed a 4 day vacation with my bestie at non other than Disneyland. Yes, that’s right, Disneyland! It was by far the best vacation I’ve had and far too short. I am seriously considering relocating to the West Coast at some point in my life. So, gorgeous!

Any who, since we’ve been back we’ve been craving all the delicious food we had while we were there and no craving has been worse than the Mickey Waffle.

Have you tasted a Mickey waffle?
IMG_0306Not only is it completely adorable, it’s also absolutely delicious.

The texture is crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The taste is just sweet but not too sweet and We ate one for breakfast every day we were there and have been craving them ever since. So I did what any curious craving baker does–I went on Pinterest.

I love Pinterest.  It’s made for people like me that love to collect recipes from anywhere and everywhere. I searched “Mickey Waffles” and boom, a recipe with ingredients I currently had at home popped up.

Now, I do not own a mickey shaped waffle maker, so I knew it wouldn’t “look” right. I do have a pretty fantastic waffle maker though, so  figured I may get the texture right. Personally, and I wish I had a cross-section picture of the waffles we ate at Disney, I think they use fresh vanilla and possible other spices in the waffle. The waffles have this coloring that isn’t that creamy blonde color a waffle typically have. Fresh vanilla is hella expensive though so I don’t have that readily available in my home. I do have some kick ass vanilla extract though (Spice Islands Madagascar Vanilla, SOOOOO Good!) so that’s what I used (and what this particular recipe called for).

I make waffles fairly often so I know my basics. I have to say, I have never whipped egg whites for a waffle before this one and woah, does it make a world of difference. Here’s how my waffle came out:


Soooo pretty. It has just butter and powdered sugar on it. The waffle was beautiful and it tastes amazing. Light in texture, eggy and buttery. Just a tad sweet but not so much that it no longer feels like breakfast. Really, really good. Sadly, not a Mickey Waffle though. At least not the Disneyland ones.

I think the next time I try these, I’ll add more spice to the batter and see what happens. Maybe in playing around, I’ll end up with a more Mickey-esque waffle. The recipe is below for you to try on your own if you’d like. Please comment if you know of a Mickey Waffle recipe that tastes like the Mickey waffle at Paradise Pier in Disneyland orrrr have any ideas on spicing up this recipe.

Recipe from The Disney Chef

<b> Mickey Waffles (WDW)</b>

4 eggs, separated

1 – 2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup milk

¼ cup (half a stick) of butter or margarine, melted, cooled to room temp

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


  1. Beat egg yolks in a large bowl until the sugar is thoroughly mixed and the yolks are thick and sunny colored.
  2. Add the milk, cooled melted butter, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  3. Add  flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well, but be sure not to overmix (overmixed batter will be frothy with lots of bubbles). If the mixture is too thick, add more milk until the mixture resembles that of thick pudding.
  4. In a separate bowl, using a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter. DO NOT MIX. This will take a while, be patient.
  5. Pour batter into a waffle maker and bake as instructed for your waffle maker until golden brown. These will expand so use less batter than you normally would. I use scoop that’s about 1/4 of a cup and did one and a half scoops.
  6. Serve however you like your waffles. If you’re going for the “plain” Disney version, put a tiny bit of butter and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Makes 6 waffles

Neighborly Goodness

I live in a small community full of neighbors. I do mean full. Each house has 2 to 4 people in it and we’re in close quarters. However, I really don’t know many of my neighbors names. We all wave and are courteous to each other. I know that the lady a street over has a dachshund that looks just like my Aunts old pup and she alllllways barks at me. I know that the woman across the street is best friends with the woman that lives in the house that faces the wrong way.

The one’s I do know are pretty fantastic though. George and his sister Jan live next door. She’s super active in all of the awesome trips the retirement community (yup, I live in a place that owns a retirement community) provides. I know Gary, he’s the resident handyman and used to work with my family eons ago. And of course, I know Doris.

Doris and her family are probably some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s been our Avon lady for the past 20 years and her daughter is just good people. Now, one of the days Doris stopped by to drop of Avon, I was making Chicken Stuff.

Oh yeah, super specific name for a recipe right. Look, its a chicken casserole with stuffing on it and I named it when I was like 6, what do you expect. I was a pretty literal child.

I was making stuffing from scratch for the first time when Doris came over so we got to talking about casseroles and really easy recipes and she goes, “Oh yeah! We just made our favorite. It’s a cornbread pot pie casserole.” WHAT?!

She shared the cliff’s notes of the recipe and then said she’d be sure to share it with me. Sure enough, the next time Avon catalogs showed up at my house, so did this recipe. DSCN2822

Oh yeah! Today, being a full day off for me, I decided to go for it and let this be my new recipe of the month.

Let me just say, I made a lot of substitutions here. First up, I have butter in the house always. I love butter. I use it all the time. Thus, I did not go out and spend money on margarine, I used butter instead.
Chicken broth came courtesy of the lovely bouillon we keep in the pantry. No fancy homemade broth or the store bought liquid goodness.
I also am not a fan of canned vegetables, specifically the mixed ones. I hate, let me repeat, hate peas and green beans. Usually, that’s what’s in a can of mixed veggies. I went with the bag of frozen veggies, the steam fresh kind that always taste so good. It’s a little less expensive than fresh ones and what I wanted just didn’t look great.

The recipe instructions are pretty simple. You make a roux with flour and butter. Add your liquids and the cream cheese, which by the way, how genius is it to thicken this with a cream cheese with veggies and seasoning in it already!? Love it! Add your seasoning. Then you pop in your meats; chicken & ham. Last pop those veggies in there and let it cook for all of 5 minutes. It looked so amazing!


This gets popped into a pan. I used a weird 13 x 7 ish pan. It’s a casserole dish we use a lot. and with all the ingredients I wanted to make sure I had enough room for the corn bread part!

On top of the stuffing you add a corn bread mix (I went with Krusteaz Southern Style), a little milk, and an egg all mixed up and happy. Drop it by the spoonful or if you’re like me, just throw it on and see how it goes.

Bake the whole thing in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes and boom, you’ve got dinner!


So delicious and so flippin’ easy! We had it for both lunch and dinner today and still had a ton left. I’d say it could easily serve 6. You want to try this one!

Corny Chicken Pot Pie

For the Filling

1 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsps Flour
3/4 C Chicken Broth
1/2 C Milk
6 oz Veggie Cream Cheese (this is almost one tub of cream cheese)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
6oz of Ham, diced
2 C Chicken, chopped
1 Bag of mixed veggies (I used Steam Fresh: Corn, Asparagus, and Carrots)

For the Topping
1 Pkg Corn Bread Mix
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1/3 C Milk

Let’s Cook!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Spray your favorite casserole dish, you want something at least 10″
Over medium heat, in a medium size pan (see the photo above for the pan I used), melt the butter.
Once melted, add the flour and stir together. Let the flour cook for about 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken broth, milk, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the cream cheese has incorporated with every thing else.
Add the chicken, ham, and vegetables. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Until just combined and thickened.
Pour mixture into your casserole dish.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the egg and milk into the corn bread mix. Take the mix and add by spoonful over the filling or just dump it evenly onto the filling, much like you would a crumble on an apple crisp.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered or until the corn bread topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.


Next time I make this, I think I’m adding shredded cheese to the topping just for an added touch. Have fun and enjoy!


It’s Flavor of the Month Time!

Hello and welcome to a new feature on this blog: THE FLAVOR OF THE MONTH! Woah, that was a little intense. I am excited though! This is all about sharing what I’ve made that you can get on my lovely little Etsy store or by subscribing to the Out of the Box sampler box.

This is the first month I’ve participated in the Out of the Box sampler and I was a little nervous to say the least. Looking at the companies in the box, I’m one of few people that specialize in eatables rather than beautiful bath products or candles. And I was going with a candy!?

Personally, I love fudge! I mean really, who doesn’t love fudge? I’m one of those people that has trouble walking away from the giant tables of fudge in candy shops. Oh, candy shops. They’re just so tempting. I’ve been known to buy a good 4 or 5 pounds of fudge at once just because I couldn’t decide on flavors.

A few years back, I started making my own. Now, in my family, my sister is the one that makes fudge. She makes this delicious, super sweet, chocolate fudge every year at Christmastime. I love it so much, I just never even thought to try making my own. Then I stumbled upon a “Quick and Easy Cake Batter Fudge” recipe and I had to try it. I love cake batter flavored anything and this recipe really was super simple (comment below if you’d like to see this recipe). It took all of 10 minutes and poof, I had fudge.

Next up, I attacked peanut butter fudge, and again stumbled upon a super easy recipe that has since become a request from family and friends. I’ve even had a few orders for it from co-workers, it’s that delicious.

Last year, I decided that my peanut butter fudge and my sisters chocolate fudge definitely curbed my sweet tooth but I am a lover of all things spicy. In my collections of recipes (because I do get them from everywhere) I discovered a spicy chocolate fudge and I was hooked. I had to make it!

On it’s surface, it’s a pretty standard fudge. Just some chocolate and evaporated milk, a little vanilla. All things you’re used to in a chocolate concoction. Then it gets fun!


see that, right there. That’s cinnamon and a touch of cayenne. I like mine to have a bit of a kick so I pop a little more than it ask for in the recipe. The warmth from the cinnamon comes through in each bite and then the cayenne just leaves this little tingle on your tongue.

It’s perfect for winter because it just warms you a little bit with the spices while the chocolate gives you a lovely little hug. I love it!


These are how my little samples came out. The bags were so small, I could quite get my business card attached but everyone did get a card. By the way, isn’t my logo adorable? My niece is quite the artist and created it for me. If I ever decide to have a store front, that logo will be how you find me.


I like to make my fudge in 8×8 pans. In sets up with this little ridges on the edges that always taste delicious. I like to cut it up into smaller, more bite sized pieces. This particular fudge isn’t a soft fudge. It actually sets up pretty stiff and it will definitely dry out if you leave it out too long.

I love it! If you’d like to give it a try, go ahead and visit the store 🙂 FOTMJ will get you free shipping on an order placed this month.

Now, what am I going to make for next month’s box?


2016 Intentions!

Hello my long neglected blog! How are you? I’ve missed you. I’ve also missed writing about my adventures in baking and cooking and that particular creative piece of me. Thus, with the end of 2015 and a new year beginning, I’d like to set a few intentions for this space.

First, I will be here. I mean that. I will be here on this blog and I will share my successes, my failures, my adventures, and my tips for baking without being so caught up in the panic that a bubbling over pot or some seized chocolate can create.

Now that we’ve got that little promise out of the way. Let’s talk about what I’ve been up to and what I’ll be doing this year.

In March of 2015, the day job I’d had for over six years ended and my idea to start up a blog about baking and a store where I could sell my baked goods became more of a focus and less of an idea. In April, I was licensed by the state of Maine (that’s where I’m coming to you from) to create and sell baked goods out of my home. At that point, I opened an Etsy store (God, I love Etsy! Don’t you?!) featuring some of my best cookies, a granola everyone loves, a few sweet breads.

The first month or so, I did pretty well. Then the orders dwindled. I’ve never been much of a marketer so I had to figure out what I could do to draw people in. I already had a few people order via my posts on Instagram so I continued my habit of posting whatever I was making.

In August, I provided goodies for two charity events. No money from that but so much fun and so many happy people. I’ve heard that you have to give your talent away for free for a long time before you’ll really make any money from it. That is just fine with me.

On to my awesome news! About a month ago, I received a message on Etsy to join a team. The teams are kicking around for sellers to help each other out. Wouldn’t you know, it was a team that makes subscription boxes! Now I had just so happened to be discussing the idea of starting a subscription box but wasn’t at all sure how to go about it. And then poof! This happens. So I joined the team and went to check out their subscription box and see if I wanted to be a part of it.
The Out of The Box Sampler Box is just what it sounds like: a box full of samples. The samples all come from stores on Etsy and each box has its own theme. I signed up to contribute right away! I’ll be contributing the whole year so, look forward to posts about the Flavor of the Month! Each month, whatever I’ve included in the sample box will be available on my store for the same month so you can get it in the sample box if your a subscriber or order it full size from the store.

Now to the other fun adventure I’ve decided to take on this year. You know the book, blog, and movie Julie & Julia? God, I love that movie. I have the book but I haven’t read it yet. I adore Julia Child and loved the idea of just making yourself attack an entire cookbook and just making everything in it. I’ve wanted to do something like that ever since.

A few months ago, I became consumed with the idea of making space before I needed to get all the Christmas decorations out. I have a small storage room in my home and in one corner was this pile of 40 boxes. These boxes were full of who knew what. So I began sorting through and reorganizing. In the bottom of a pile of pictures in a box was a plastic bag full of things from my grandmother’s house.

My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away 17 years ago. When she passed away we each took a few mementos and her photos were split up between the kids. My mom got custody of Nana’s recipe books. Nana was an amazing cook and an even better baker. She made everything pretty much from scratch and most of it by memory. She rarely wrote any of her own recipes down unless someone asked her too, so it’s amazing how many we actually had in this bag. When I found the bag, I instantly sat down and started thumbing through it.

There it was, her scrawly handwriting on faded notebook paper. I decided to pop them into a new notebook for safe keeping. Then I realized, these were some pretty fascinating recipes and wouldn’t it be fun to test them out and see what we actually liked now.

So I’ve created a challenge for myself. This year, I will try out my grandmother’s collection of recipes. At least one a month. Now here’s the kicker, my grandmother’s recipes rarely have instructions. Usually it’s just a temperature on the oven and a list of ingredients, so this will truly be an adventure. I can’t wait to get started and share this adventure with you.

So there you have it! My intentions for 2016! I hope you’ll join me and give yourself your own adventure in baking this year. Remember, there’s nothing to worry about, just trust your nose and your gut and your good to go.

I hope 😉

The Thing I Can’t Seem to Master…Yet!

I, like many people, am a huge fan of pie. Pies are just one of those quintessential desserts that everyone can make. Pies seem incredibly simple. I mean, it’s just crust, filling, and a topping sometimes, right? Well, technically.

In all actuality, a pie ranges from incredibly simple (instant pudding in a ready made pie crust) to ridiculous complicated (handmade crust and a range of spices and fruits) and it takes a certain finesse to get them right.

Now, I know how to make pie crust and it comes out deeelicious every time. I can make apple tartlets and blackberry pie bars without any issue. They come out amazing and beautiful each time. Since I was 6, I’ve made mini pudding pies for Thanksgiving. These ones are Jell-o Instant Chocolate Pudding, Fresh Whipped Cream, and Keebler Graham Cracker Crust. Guess what, they’re still just as yummy and I love making them.

Here’s my personal challenge: cooked pudding/cream pies.

It makes no sense to me. I have made pat e choux (I’m spelling that wrong I’m sure) from scratch, including the pastry cream, and it’s held up. Somehow, when I go for a cream pie in which I cook down the filling though, it ends up soup.

Just last month, I set out to make pie for my Aunt’s birthday. Her favorite is Coconut Cream Pie. So, I set out and scoured my cook books for a recipe. I ended up landing on the one featured in my Betty Crocker cookbook (amazing. Get one if you don’t have it already). Simple. Just make a pudding, add coconut milk and shredded coconut, and boom you’ve got coconut cream.

I bought a ready made shortbread crust because I knew my Aunt would love it and it would cut down on the time it would take to make the pies. Oh, yes, I made two different pies. We’ll get to the second one in a moment. I did everything the recipe told me to. Albeit, I was confused at how long I needed to actually let the filling cook. I enlisted the help of my mother who refuses to make instant pudding and instead swears by cooked pudding. She even said it felt good.

I finished up, poured it into its crust and put it in the fridge–OVERNIGHT.

In the morning, it was loose. It was not pudding like texture. It was not cream. It was coconut soup in a shortbread crust. I was crushed. I had my mom taste test it and she determined it was absolutely delicious, but not the right texture. What to do?

In the spirit of being a worry free baker, I shoved it in the freezer for 15 minutes and then back in the fridge while I made some fresh whipped cream.

By the way, fresh whipped cream is one of the single easiest things to make and utterly scrumptious every time. Here’s how I make mine:

In the bowl of your mixer (if its been chilled, even better), pour 1 carton (12 oz) of heavy whipping cream and beat on a medium speed with a whisk attachment. Let it go and dance in your kitchen while you figure out what you’re going to do with your coconut soup. When it starts to set up and look like whipped cream, add sugar to taste. I tend to throw in a couple tablespoons, whip it again, and then taste it.  That’s it. It should be at a stiff peaks stage when your done. Try not to eat the whole bowl by yourself.

Back to my coconut soup. I decided the only thing I could do was to serve it in a bowl. So I covered it in my fresh whipped cream and did just that. I used a big spoon and cracked the crust so that there would be sugar cookie crust crumbles in the coconut concoction and served it in lovely little bowls. It was not pie, but it was the flavor my Aunt wanted and she ate it happily.

Now! I did have another pie which was successful! A couple years ago, I went on a fabulous road trip and wound up in Leroy, New York: The Birthplace of Jell-O. I am from a Jell-O family. We love that brand and have always had either Jell-O or pudding in our house for as long as I can remember. The Jell-O museum was fantastic and I left with a fantastic cook book that is spiral bound and chock full of Jell-O and Cool Whip recipes.

From there I found the Cool and Easy Pie. I wish I’d taken a picture because it came out perfect. Fluffy and pink. So fun!

This was certainly an easy pie and I’m pretty sure you could use any Jell-O flavor to make it. It took no time and it set up like a dream. So one pie came out and was still in pie form. I’ll pop that recipe below so you can try it for yourself. It’s a really light pie that’s just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you have any tips on how to make a successful cream pie with a cooked filling, please let me know! I am determined to master this!

Cool ‘N Easy Pie
From The Jell-O Brand Cool Whip Recipe Collection

2/3 C Boiling Water
1 Pkg (4 Serving Size) Strawberry Jell-O Gelatin
Ice Cubes
1/2 C Cold Water
1 8oz Tub Cool Whip
1 Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Stir boiling water in the dry gelatin mix for at least 2 minutes or until completely dissolved.
  2. Add enough ice to cold water to measure 1 cup and add to the gelatin.
  3. Stir until slightly thickened, then remove any unmelted ice
  4. Add Cool Whip and stir with a wire whisk until melted. *This part is fun and kind of messy. Make sure you’re using a medium to large bowl to do this*
  5. Refrigerate the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick enough to mound.
  6. Once thick enough, spoon into the crust.
  7. Refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.
  8. Leftovers, if there are any, should be stored in the refrigerator

My Whole House Smells Like Peppermint…Yum!

Hello my dear neglected blog! I have been baking up a storm and it’s about time I get to sharing recipes and stories of what it’s like to bake and just go with the flow. Now! On to that peppermint!
I have been baking for as long as I can remember. When I was little, it was about getting to mix up the cookie dough or frost the cake more than anything else. As I got older, I got more into finding new recipes and trying the out on a weekend here and there. Here and there became every weekend and now I’m always baking something new and loving just about every minute of it.
Along the way it’s become a known fact that I love to bake and take requests. Five years or so ago, I began getting commissioned to make things for special occasions. I’ve made a tye-dye cake for an anniversary, a Twinkie cake for a wedding, and a cavalcade of birthday treats. This weekend was one of those commissioned weekends.
One of my co-worker-turned-friends hit me up to make some birthday treats for her son’s celebration this weekend. The treats requested: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, No Bake Cookies, and a cake. I have been collecting recipes forever. I adore the Food Network. I think Pinterest is a gift from the Gods. I get lost in cookbooks. I rip apart magazines. Oh, and I frequent many a baking blog. Needless to say, I get excited when someone hands me the reigns and says, “Whatever you think.”
So, I busted out this amazing cookbook I got from a charity yard sale, Best Recipes From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Jars by Ceil Dyer and started perusing the cake section. Old Fashioned Cocoa Peppermint is what I landed on and thus, my house smells like a giant candy cane. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a chocolate cake with peppermint in it. It does not use extract for its peppermint though, nope, crushed candies.
It just so happens that my sister brought down a half bag of peppermint candies a couple weeks ago. I’m a big believer in utilizing whatever you have in your house to make your recipes. So, this half bag of candy got pulverized by my food processer, which created a giant cloud of peppermint dust that has now wafted through the entire house. Worse things could happen, right?
The cake itself went together pretty easily. Just the standard creaming of butter, sugar, and eggs. Then adding your liquid and dry ingredients by alternating each while mixing. This process became quite the mess despite my spatter shield (Kitchen Aid makes pretty cool things) and the mixer only being on 2. I’d suggest mixing at the lowest speed possible. If I make the cake again, I’d pop it on Stir instead to keep down the splatter.
Once you have all of that incorporated and happy, you just add in ½ cup of crushed candies. My thought is the texture will be just enough crunch and the taste will have that awesome hint of peppermint that goes so well with chocolate.
The recipe states it’s intended for 2 9inch pans, which it worked out well. The cakes do not rise much at all and actually, in my case, I ended up with a ton of air bubbles and a strange well in the middle of the cake. Essentially, it’s not an even surface but! That’s why we have frosting. When your cake comes out a little crazy like that, just be sure to face the not too pretty parts to the middle and boom, no one has a clue. This works out best in most cases anyway because then you have a flat bottom and top for your cake. You can also trim the middle, if it does that whole poof in the center, to even it out. In this case, my cakes were flat, just not too pretty.
The frosting is fudge icing with more crushed peppermint added. This chocolate frosting is delicious on its own but the peppermint adds a lovely hint of yum. Yes, hint of yum.
Once the cake was completely cool, I frosted it with an icing spatula. I put just enough in the middle to fill in the weird dip in the cake and get to the sides and stacked them. Then it was all about just getting the rest of the cake to be frosted. I like the slightly messy look, rather than a smooth frost, so I simply let my spatula do the work and left the little waves in it. It looked lovely when it was completed.
The review from the Birthday Boy was that it was delicious. I don’t think he even wanted to share it.
Want to try it? Of course you do! Here’s the recipe:
Old-Fashioned Cocoa Mint Cake
From Best Recipes by Ceil Dyer
2/3 Cup Butter
1 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Eggs
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Cocoa
1 ¼ tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 1/3 Cup Milk
½ Cup Crushed Peppermint Candy
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs until fluffy, and beat 3 minutes on high.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
4. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients until mixed. It’ll look like a standard chocolate cake mix.
5. Blend in crushed candy.
6. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9 in cake pans
7. Bake for 35 minutes.
8. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Cocoa Peppermint Icing
From Best Recipes by Ceil Dyer
Yields 2 ¼ cups of icing
½ Cup Butter
½ Cup Cocoa
3 2/3 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
7 Tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Crushed Peppermint Candy
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan or microwave
2. Add cocoa and heat for 1 minute or until smooth, stirring constantly.
3. Alternately add sugar and milk and beat until a spreadable consistency
4. Blend in vanilla and candy