OMG Peanut Butter Pie

Did you know this past Sunday was Pi(e) day? Did you know there’s a peanut butter pie? A pie, of peanut butter?!?!?! Madness, you say? Poppycock? You are not alone, friend, for I can assure you that was my initial reaction when a particular young lady informed me of its existence. But low and behold, peanut butter pies do exist and are not some rarity invented by a small tribe living in some far corner of the world; possibly in some near-unapproachable mountains. With peanut butter trees.

Oatmeal Oatmeal Crust

I wasn’t able to find the person credited with the first peanut butter pie but my first mental image, after the Pinatu Mountain Tribe was a 19th century Heather, dressed like Madam Curie with a high necked dress, analyzing peanut butter in test tubes. Best. Job. EVER. Whoever is responsible for its inception, I take my hat off to thee.

Madam Heather

Recognizing the awesomeness of peanut butter and pie, this was something I had to do and I did so immediately. I decided to go with an oatmeal crust which worked out well, but turned out a bit harder than I would have liked. Be sure not to over bake your crust when you try this! I wish I had more photos, but I took this to work and it did not last long. Be sure to have a glass of milk handy.

PB Goodness

Peanut Butter Pie

Oatmeal Crust
2 cups oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons honey
1 stick butter; cut into four pieces
pinch of salt

Peanut Butter Filling
1 lb peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt

Chocolate Glaze
8 oz bittersweet chocolate; roughly chopped
1 stick of butter; cut into four pieces
2 tablespoons cream

Preheat your oven to 375° and grease a 9 inch pie pan. Run the oats in a food processor for about 30 seconds, then add your remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. Evenly distribute your crust into the pie pan and up the sides and bake for 15-20; just until the crust begins to turn golden at the edge. Don’t over bake or you will have a harder, but still delicious, crust. Let cool completely.

Mix together all your ingredients and pour/spoon into your pie pan. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Melt your chocolate and butter via the double boiler method. Once fully melted, remove from heat, add the cream and stir until well combined. Let sit in the fridge for a few minutes to thicken and cool. Pour over your pie and place in the back in the fridge until glaze hardens. Serve and enjoy.

The first signs of Spring came out in style this past weekend with some excellent sun, a light breeze and warm temperatures that helped you forgot the horror that snowpacolypse. On Sunday a group of of us went on our first outdoor climb of the new year at Great Falls. Despite rather high water levels we had a blast and got some excellent climbs in.

Apples And Pears Pot Pouri

Inspired by the weather, I ventured out to the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturday, which has actually been open since January. Props to that. There’s something calming about Farmers Markets; centering. Scores of people walking about just talking, sampling food; no rush, no place they have to be. It’s just a contrast from the usual everyday life in DC where actually forget about how much stress and urgency we’re practically swimming in.

Yukon Golds Yukon Golds - Quartered

With us being on the tale end of winter, I honed in on the root vegetables; beets, leeks, potatoes… and a few apples of course (huuuuge Fuji’s. yum!) The leeks ended up in a nice simple, but delicious potato leek soup and I have visions of a small batch of borscht for the beets. The potatoes, yukon golds to be exact, had their own destiny.

Oven Baked Yukon Golds

A very smart person once said that the secret to good food is to use fresh ingredients and do very little to them. While it’s easy to to consider the potato as nothing more than bland, there is an essence of flavor somewhere and simplicity is the best way to draw that out. Local fresh is key here. Potatoes start with a rather thin skin when just yanked out of the ground and this thing tends to get thicker as the months roll by (which I can promise you is happening with spuds at your local megamart). When looking for potatoes at your local market, look for paper thin and you won’t be disappointed. Then, toss with a bit of oil, some salt and pepper and then whatever herbs you may like (fresh if you got em but dried if you don’t).

Oven Baked Yukon Golds
Consider this a guideline. Throw out the cookbook (or, put it back on the shelf).

Yukon Gold potatoes
herbs (rosemary, thyme…)

Preheat your oven to 400°. Cut your potatoes into 1.5 piece cubes, most likely just in half unless there notably large; in which case quarter them. Toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Start with one and add more if necessary for a light coating. Throw in a tablespoon of fresh herbs or a teaspoon of dried and set on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes until the pieces are easily pierced but still firm. Let cool briefly, serve and enjoy.

Kitchen Tips – Save Those Burnt Cookies!

It’s that time of year again: the holidays!  Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, BAKE-A-THON….  The smell of baked goods is in the air!  Few things suck more than taking a fresh batch of cookies out of the oven only to discover, *gasp*, the cookies are burnt!  (funny story, my mom use to always burn the biscuits ever so slightly so we called it her Trademark.  she did not appreciate that as much as the rest of the family)

The artistic side of burning sadness.

The artistic side of burning sadness.

Fear not, loyal readers, DinnerCakes is here for you with today’s Kitchen Tip.  All you need to remedy this terrible tragedy is a microplane grater and faith.  For cookies that are only slightly burnt or simply over browned you can gently grate away all that bad stuff.  This works best with your non-chunky cookies (like sugar), but is always worth a shot.

Ok, these probably can't be saved

Ok, these probably can't be saved

There, you are now ready for the all that the holidays can throw at you (ha!).  Go forth and bake!

Ahhhhhh, Halloween!  Quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year.  When else can you act (and dress) completely wacko without being considered a social pariah or candidate for a padded room?  I still haven’t decided on a costume this year and time is running short.  A friend and I are throwing a super hero and villians themed party and I haven’t been able to come up with an original, entertaining idea (suggestions welcome).  Alas!

Pretzels and Dough Future Broom

With most hallween-style foods, it’s all in the decoration.  You take a cookie and make it an eyeball, or a pumpkin, perhaps going extreme with a tombstone topped cupcake.  All cool (and tasty), but there are but there are some pretty cool inventive stuff out there as well.

Witch Broom

This was a cool idea someone shared with me some time ago; taking use of pretzels in a non-chocolate-covered way.  Plus, the 3D aspect I’m a fan of.  Cookie witch hats and brooms!  A great activity to do with kids.  Treat these as guidelines.  Use whatever cookie you want; just be sure it’s one that doesn’t “spread” too much during baking.  Shortbread is a great option.

witch hat

Witch Hats and Broom Cookies

Prepare any cookie dough you’d like.  For the hats, just bake some flat cookies.  Once cooled cover with a chocolate icing or ganache.  Top with a hershey kiss and pipe some frosting around the base.  Voila! Super Shortcut: Take fudge-striped cookies from the grocery store (the ones with the chocolate covered bottoms) and simple top with a hershey kiss and piping.

For the brooms, take some pretzel rods and break them in half.  Roll some small, flat balls of dough and poke the pretzel in it.  Set is on your pan and press the teeth from a work to make the broom bristles.  The taller these balls are the more they will spread, so be warned. Bake per the recipe (if you don’t bake till hard, you can repress the indentions a bit when they comeout).  Once cooled, drizzled chocolate frosting or ganache where the cookie and the pretzel meet.  Enjoy!

Mini Lemon Pound Cakes

The first thing I tried baking in my new place was, one of my favorites, pound cake.


I’ve tried a number of different pound cake recipes in search of a favorite – CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch, Martha Stewart, William Sonoma and Food Network. But I think the best recipe I’ve tried so far is from Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking (the last time I made it was for my Red, White and Blueberry Trifle on July fourth).


So when testing the oven I wanted to make something that I’ve made before and that I know is great, but I wanted to experiment with the flavor a little. I’m not a lemon person (I can’t stand strong lemon tasting desserts), but I’ve had some excellent lemon pound cakes before – just a little hint of it can be extraordinary. After some tinkering, this method gave me just the right amount of lemon.


I poured my batter into a mini bundt pan (it was actually a mini pumpkin pan from Williams-Sonoma, but it’s basically the same as a mini bundt pan), and I baked it for about 18 minutes at 350 F. Be careful and watch the timing – the cakes will dry out more quickly when cooked in minis instead of in a loaf pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and the top should be firm to the touch, but the cakes will still be very blonde instead of golden.


If you don’t have the Art and Soul of Baking (please buy it!), you can find the complete recipe on Instead of 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, use 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla and 1/2 tablespoon of pure lemon extract (still use the vanilla bean pod, though). Leave the other ingredients unchanged. When the pound cakes are baked, poke multiple holes in the cakes and, using a cooking brush, brush cakes lightly with additional drops of lemon extract. Check it out!

You know what I hate? Going through the entire baking process, whether it be a cake, muffin, etc only to pull it out of the oven, let it cool and then attempt to separate it from its baking pan, only to have it stick and tear instead. RAGE!

I hate it so much that I use to practically immerse my pans in non-stick spray (dripping from the pan), then powder with flour. The problem with flour, however, is that it clumps very easily and can be quite difficult to properly distribute across the entire pan; even if your sifting. That’s why I switched to sugar. Sugar does not clump and is much easier to properly distribute. Now the health nuts out there may be concerned with adding more sugar to their dish, but you shouldn’t need much.

Give it a shot and see if you like it.

Our 200th Post! Plus Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

Today is an exciting day at DinnerCakes because we get to celebrate! Not only is it our last work day before the start of a long holiday weekend, it’s also our 200th post! (Insert blaring trumpets here!)


A lot has changed around here since Edwin and I first started documenting our culinary adventures, making messes in the kitchen and packing away more food than we probably should.

If you’re new to DinnerCakes, we invite you to take a look around and enjoy a sample of our favorite recipes and most memorable recent posts:

Chef Edwin’s Favorites

Heather – Ghost Baker’s Favorites


But we also can’t forget, fourth of July weekend is upon us! Every year my husband wants to throw a party… not a fourth of July party, but specifically “America’s Birthday Party,” with party hats and all. Unfortunately he hasn’t yet moved from the idea stage into the logistics stage.

I’m all for celebrating America’s birth, but I’m not so much into cakes decorated like flags and such – that’s why a red, white and blue trifle works perfectly for me!

pound cake slices

This time of year is all about berries that burst with color, and I think they look amazing in a trifle bowl. I made a Double-Vanilla Pound Cake from Sur La Table’s “The Art and Soul of Baking.” You can even see the little vanilla bean flecks if you look closely. It’s an amazing book that offers a deep dive to those looking to get serious about baking. You can find the pound cake recipe reprinted here – the only thing I changed was that I used non-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream and I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (removing two tablespoons of all-purpose flour and replacing it with two tablespoons of corn starch, to imitate cake flour).

berries in trifle bowl

The pound cake turned out perfectly and full of delicious vanilla flavor. I also added vanilla pudding, fat free Cool Whip, and loads of blueberries and strawberries to my trifle. I tried hard to restrain myself from adding any extra sugar or sweeteners like coconut, jam or a spritz of juice. While these things can definitely make your trifle either more sweet or tart, the fresh berries, vanilla pound cake, Cool Whip and pudding give it enough flavor that it doesn’t need any extra.

What are you making for fourth of July festivities?


Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

Double-Vanilla Pound Cake (or pound cake of your choice, cubed)
1 pound strawberries, washed and sliced
1 pint blueberries, washed
1 3 oz. package of vanilla pudding
2 cups milk (for the pudding)
1 regular size container fat free Cool Whip

Combine 2 cups of milk with vanilla pudding mix on medium heat and bring to a boil, stir constantly. When done, set aside to cool.

Cube pound cake and add a layer to the bottom of the trifle bowl. Surround with a layer of strawberries and blueberries. Drizzle some pudding over the pound cake, followed by three dollops of Cool Whip. Repeat the layering process until complete. Scoop a large dollop of Cool Whip on top to complete. Serve chilled.

Lightened Up Strawberry Cake

It seems fitting to share this cake today, just after father’s day, because this is a cake I worked on with my father in mind.

batter that looks and tastes like strawberry ice cream

I’ve mentioned before that my dad adheres to an extremely strict and healthy diet (no eggs, butter, oil, cheese, etc.). This is hard for me, because I think trying to make desserts healthier is a slippery slope. I’ve been scorned by too many dry bran muffins and eggless applesauce cakes.


However, I saw a recipe for a Pink Lady Cake on Smitten Kitchen, and I thought it might translate well to a healthier version. Instead of a large triple layer cake I decided to cut down on the portions and make it into a bundt cake. I also used egg white substitute and I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter’s new Cooking & Baking sticks.

lightened batter

I also left out the cream cheese frosting. The cake was so moist that a rich frosting wasn’t necessary (nor did it fit with my plans of being healthy!). This is great with just some fat free Cool Whip and fresh sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

lightened strawberry cake

Lightened Up Strawberry Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 5/8 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter’s new Cooking & Baking sticks, room temperature
3/4 cups pureed frozen strawberries
equivalent of 4 egg whites using Egg White Substitute
1/3 cup non-fat milk
2 drops red food dye (makes it nice and pink)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour bundt pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add room temperature butter and strawberry puree; mix to blend the ingredients. Raise speed to medium and beat a few minutes until fluffy (at this point, Smitten says, the batter looks like strawberry ice cream and warns not to try it – and she is not lying! It’s delicious!).

In another large bowl, whisk substitute egg whites, milk and red food dye to blend. Add the whites batter gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl well periodically and mixing only until combined. Pour batter into bundt pan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes (keep an eye on it though to prevent overbaking), or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of cool with and fresh strawberry slices.

Day #6 of Rainbow Week – Pastel and Tie Dye Cupcakes

You’re looking at day six of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Well, we’re nearing the end of Rainbow Week! We hope you’ve learned some new things and that you have plans this weekend to make lots of colorful rainbow treats like today’s post – Pastel Tie Dye Cupcakes.

adding pastel


Back in the day I loved tie dye – and let’s be honest, I still do.


Last weekend I was at a wedding for great couple; my husband and I met the groom back in high school. One of the groomsmen made a nice slide show of memories for the couple which was shown at the wedding. He joked with me that he had a bad old photo of me he considered including. Once he described the photo I remembered it exactly – I was wearing an old pair of jeans that I turned into bell bottoms using some tie dye fabric. Hey, who cares what he thought, right? I thought they were cool…


Making rainbow cupcakes like these can even be more fun than rainbow cake because each individual cupcake can have a unique pattern – colored layers, marbled/swirled batter, just color in the middle, etc. I used pastel purple, teal and pink, along with a few other colors, in yellow butter cake batter.


I was also able to do a little test, baking regular cupcakes alongside rainbow cupcakes to see how the color affects the batter. The answer is, as I believe Edwin mentioned and as I found out, that the color does affect the batter, particularly this time.


Pastel colors, because they’re lighter, require more gel. Whereas Edwin and I use only a small amount of primary color gel for the rainbow cake and rainbow cake cones, I had to use the whole tube of pastel color gel to color the batter – oy! All the stirring needed for pastels unfortunately makes the cupcakes more dense. So I might recommend sticking with primary color gels for the best tasting cake, although the teal color did turn out pretty cool!

inside cupcakes

Yellow Cake & Frosting

I used the same Williams-Sonoma yellow cake recipe here as I did for the cake cones. If you don’t have the Williams-Sonoma “Desserts” book, I would recommend this recipe available online by Martha Stewart for a basic yellow butter cake, adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.” It is very similar to the one I used. A box yellow cake mix will also work.

To frost the cupcakes, I used a light and fluffy fat free Cool Whip. A Seven Minute Frosting would also work well. Anna at Cookie Madness has a good recipe for Seven Minute Frosting, and Joy the Baker has a Seven Minute Frosting that you can make pink or green (just in case you want even more color for your cupcakes!).

In case you missed Edwin’s detailed instructions on “How To Make Your Own Rainbow Cake” earlier in the week, please check it out for very useful tips and advice before you begin.

Day #3 of Rainbow Week – Rainbow Cookies

You’re looking at day three of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Back in Richmond, where both Heather and I grew up, there’s a local chain of grocery stores called Ukrops. My family didn’t go there often (there were closer grocery stores and Ukrops was never open on Sundays), but I always looked forward to the times we did for one reason and one reason only: rainbow cookies. As Heather likes to remind me, they weren’t particularly good cookies. In fact, they were quite dry. But when you’re a kid there’s something awesome about multi-colored cookies; just like there’s something awesome about cereal that looks like cookies (Cookie Crisp you were, and are, so amazing).

Rainbow Cookie Dough

I haven’t been to Ukrops in a long, long time, but what Rainbow Week would be complete without rainbow cookies? Today’s recipe follows the same principles from our first post, with a few exceptions. First, because cookie dough is much thicker than cake batter, food color drops are really your only option. It’s just too difficult to mix and distribute the gel. Since most cookies are pretty dense (when compared to a cake), you’re options are a lot larger. Just don’t pick something, well, cake-y like a black and white cookie and you should be fine. Try with 5-10 color drops in the divided good and you should be good.

Blue Cookie DoughRed Cookie DoughTri-Color Dough

I decided to work with sugar cookies, a pretty simple and resilient cookie. You can work in one, two or three different colors (or more I suppose). With most sugar cookies I’d wager you’d have approximately three teaspoons of dough for each cookie, so divide the portions by the number of colors you want accordingly and put them together as shown. Then roll around in your hands until you get a smooth looking ball. Place them on a baking sheet and flatten them to the width specified with your recipe. That’s it!

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

Finding the Right Sugar Cookie Recipe

Most general cookbooks should have a sugar cookie recipe for you to use; and if it doesn’t you should write the author(s) a scathing letter. I personally used the one from Joy of Cooking (my cooking bible) for these.

If you’re looking for a good sugar cookie recipe, try Lydia’s recipe over at The Perfect Pantry. I’ve used it on many occasion with good results. Simply Recipes also has a recipe you could try. Enjoy!