cakes · Cookies · dessert · Love · muffin · Pie · Valentine Treats

Five Sweet Valentine Treats

Since Valentine’s Day is a week from today, I thought I’d share a line-up of sweet treats for you to make for a sweetheart, a child, your Bible study friends or whomever you may want to shower sweet kindness on!

You may be tempted to buy one of those big cookies in the mall, but this first recipe is every bit as good, is so easy and only costs about $2, $3 to make!  It is so yummy!!

Colossal Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 cup chocolate pieces – chips or M&M’s – Pink and Red Valentine would be pretty, or you could use just chocolate chips
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Reserve 1/3 cup candies for decorating.  Set aside.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; mix well.  In another bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla; beat well.  Add flour mixture; mix well.  Stir in 2/3 cup candies.  Place dough in center of a 13″ or 15″ round pan and spread out to sides.  Decorate with reserved candies.  Bake 16-18 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool completely.  Cut into wedges to serve.
Yield:  10 servings

The following recipe is one I made my husband  on Valentine’s Day when we were dating.  He loved it so much that I’ve made it over and over on subsequent Valentin’e s Days! We all know the way to a man’s heart!

Sweetheart Fudge Pie
1/4 Cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet real chocolate pieces
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
9 inch unbaked pastry shell
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbl chopped maraschino cherries

Cream butter with brown sugar; add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Melt chocolate over hot, not boiling, water; add to creamed mixture with coffee and vanilla.  Stir in flour and walnuts.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool.  Whip cream stiff (I like to add about 1/4 cup powdered sugar).  Fold in cherries.  Spread on top of pie; decorate with chocolate or candy hearts.

Red strawberries are perfect for Valentine’s Day.  Here’s a treat so start the day –

Strawberry Citrus Muffins

1 1/4 Cups chopped strawberries
3 tbl. margarine, melted
2 tsp grated orange or lemon rind
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar I reduce this to 1 cup – it’s plenty
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray
2 tsp sugar I like to use the coarse sugar on top
1/2 Cup strawberry jam (optional) But why wouldn’t you?!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix just until mixture is blended.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.  Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until mixture is moist.  Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray ( or you could use pretty heart-shaped liners).  Sprinkle with 2 tsp sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.  Remove muffins from pan immediately.  Serve with jam, if desired.

More Strawberries…

strawberrry shortcake1

Lite Strawberry Shortcakes


  • 3 1/2 cups halved strawberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • Whole strawberries (optional)
    1. Combine 1 cup strawberry halves, 1/3 cup sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 2 1/2 cups strawberry halves. Cover and chill.

    2. Preheat oven to 425°.

      Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).

    3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Pat dough into a 6 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 6 squares. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

      Split shortcakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place each bottom half on a dessert plate. Spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each bottom half. Top with shortcake tops; spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each top. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping; garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.


Lastly, think about anything you could cut into a heart-shape, using a cookie cutter.

  • Toast
  • Biscuits
  • Pancakes
  • French toast
  • Cookies – Here’s my favorite Sugar Cookie recipe


Here you go, friends!  I hope you have fun baking up a sweet treat for someone you love!

Denise Signature 150 px





baking · cakes · dessert · entertaining

Best-Ever German Chocolate Cupcakes

Last week I shared with you about the Fall Bridal shower I had the joy of hosting.  However, I left you hanging about the most important component of the day – DESSERT! I had asked the bride-to-be what her favorite cake was and learned that she loves German Chocolate.  I set out looking for what looked like the best Cupcake recipe.

German Chocolate Cupcakes a.jpg

I found it via Pinterest – it is Ina Garten’s recipe – always a winner in my book!  These were the most moist little cakes – even before the decadent icing was added!  The buttermilk and sour cream do the trick!  Even if you don’t love German chocolate icing, you need this chocolate cake recipe!  But if you’re a German Cake lover, too, I bet you’ll love them as much as we did!!


The recipe says it Makes 14 cupcakes – I got more like 21!


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 14 paper liners.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

3. Divide the batter between the cupcake pans (I use one rounded 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop per cupcake). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For 14 cupcakes


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup chopped pecans


1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the milk, sugar, egg yolks, almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens a little and coats the back of the spoon. Don’t allow it to boil! If the mixture gets lumpy, turn off the heat and beat it vigorously with a whisk. **My personal note on this would be to cook it a little longer than five minutes, or at least be sure you can refrigerate it overnight so it has time to get nice and thick!  My icing did drip a little, but it was spreadable the next morning and delicious!

2. Off the heat, add the coconut, almonds, and pecans and allow to cool about 1 hour. Frost the cupcakes with a dinner knife or metal spatula

Whatever your need for cake is in the near future, these little chocolate cupcakes will make your guests smile!  I plan on making these again this week for a whole different celebration and a new icing!  I’ll share in an upcoming post!

Happy baking!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Bread · breakfast · cakes · Cooking · dessert · Dinner · Easter · entertaining · main dish · memories · Side dish · Sunday Dinner

(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

Easter dinner 2017 a

If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.


When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –


Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!


Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!


Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!


Coconut Cake


One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:


We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

baking · cakes · dessert · hospitality · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – A Healthy, Yummy Dessert

Angel Food.jpg

Cooking Light has great recipes for Angel Food Cakes.  These cakes have no fat, making them a healthier dessert than most.  The nice thing about baking your own Angel Food cake is:

  1. They taste better
  2. You can add flavorings
  3. They cost pennies
  4. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it

This recipe  – Cafe’ au Lait Angel food has a coffee flavor and we love that!  Cafe’ au Lait means coffee with milk.  This recipe also has a custard-like sauce to serve with it,which gives the coffee flavor it’s “milk addition.  It takes regular old Angel Food to the next level, and certainly makes it company worthy!  Here’s the recipe:

Cafe’ au Lait Angel Food Cake


  • Cake:
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour – Don’t have any?  Try this – Take one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur) –  I didn’t use this or substitute
  • Remaining ingredient:
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk, and set aside. Combine espresso and hot water, stirring until espresso dissolves; set aside.

  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. Beat in espresso mixture and vanilla extract. Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

  5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

    I had to work just  a little to loosen my cake from the pan, but it did come out whole after a few little “tugs” with my metal spatula.

    I saw that eggs are on sale at Kroger this week for .79, so it’s a good time to make one of these cakes!  I’m going to attempt to upload a video  this Wednesday of how to make this cake.  You can see just how simple it really is!  It’s really fun to venture out a little a make something a little challenging.  I hope you’ll give this a try!  Plus it’s just fun to say – Cafe’ au Lait!

    Happy baking!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    baking · cakes · Fall · Gifts · hospitality · outfits

    Friday Favorites – OOTD video and Pie Workshop!

    Happy Friday, friends!  This has been a packed week, but filled with lots of fun blessings!  Let me share some of them with you:

    I held my first Apples of Gold Workshop last night.  It was a class to teach how to make Pumpkin Rolls and Pies!  We had eight ladies attend and we had SOOOO much fun!
    The pictures below show

    1.  The calm after the (flour) storm!  Every lady rolled out pie dough and we covered every inch of my island with our flour, dough and fillings.  It was so great!
    2. Cutie Pies as I call them, because aren’t they cute?! Each lady made a pie in a Mason Jar lid and everyone was so creative and did a fantastic job.  They got to eat the fruit of their labors, of course!
    3. I demonstrated the technique of making a sponge cake and rolling it up and filling it.  Pumpkin Roll is loved by many and can be made ahead and frozen, making it a great dessert for Thanksgiving dinner!


    I bought some little plastic silver coffee spoons at the Dollar Tree and turned them into Chocolate Spoons for coffee or hot chocolate for when you want to turn your beverage into a bit of a dessert.  They would make great gifts, attached to hot chocolate packets and slid into seasonal bags!

    I encouraged the ladies last night to use this holiday season to share the Gospel.  Bake up something or fix these spoons up and give them to a neighbor or co-worker and tell them you trust this will be good, but one thing we can always count on is that God is good (Psalm 34:8) and share the Gospel with them!


    Then lastly, I did a quick video of my OOTD (Outfit of the day) .  You can check out my You tube channel under Denise Cunningham and subscribe so you’ll be notified each time I upload a video. You can just click on the You Tube Icon on the video below and it will take you to my channel. I’m thinking of adding some Christmas prep videos in the next few weeks, that you won’t want to miss!

    I have a little video of the Chocolate Spoon tutorial that will be posted later today!  I hope you’ll come check it out on my channel.

    What have you been up to, what are you wearing and how are you experiencing the blessings of the Lord this week?

    Stay refreshed!

    Denise Signature 150 px

    baking · Bread · cakes · entertaining · Prayer

    Friday Favorites

    My week has been full…full of activities and blessings!


    It started on Friday night when women gathered to join the True Woman Conference Simulcast – Cry Out!  We spent three hours at church reading Scripture, worshiping, and praying.  Those hours went by incredibly fast because we were so caught up in the splendor of our Savior! We are planning a five-week prayer time so that this won’t be a Moment, but a Movement!    We will be meeting up until the time of election on November 8th.  Will you join us?  We need to be praying for our nation!!



    I went to our local library this week – something I hadn’t done in a long time.  I LOVE THE LIBRARY!  There’s just something about picking up books, leafing through, reading a little, and then tucking a special treasure under your arm and taking it home for a couple of weeks!  I brought home a favorite – a Gooseberry Cookbook for a little inspiration for a party I’m hosting this weekend.  Their books are full of seasonal recipes and great ideas!  Who owns one or more of their books?


    I grew up going to Pioneer Girls.  Now it’s a club for boys and girls – Pioneer Club.  I get to help teach the first and second graders, and last Wednesday they were mesmerized with Miss Sharon’s story of a puppy who didn’t want to obey.  We’ve been leaning about God’s gift of the family and the importance of obeying their parents. I think they all went away with the understanding that fences (rules) keep us safe.  Great job, Sharon!  Are you serving in your church?  What do you do to share the Gospel with others?


    I got to bake French Bread loaves for an Autumn supper I’m hosting for our Apples of Gold gals.  These loaves will accompany a harvest salad and three kinds of soups!  I’m making Cream of Wild Rice & Chicken Soup and two others are bringing Beef with Barley and Potato.  It’s supposed to get really chilly this weekend, so this soup menu will be perfect!  I’m also making Texas Sheet Cake and Pumpkin Crunch Cake for dessert.  These are both great cakes, but the Pumpkin Crunch…oh wow!  I’m hoping we can have a fire in the fire pit and enjoy the patio in the evening!  What have you baked this week?


    Yesterday I had the joy of praying with friends.  One had a birthday and we gave her the gift of our prayers.  There were tears, of course, but we had the sweetest time together!  What better thing to do when you gather with friends?  We could talk all day long, but talking to the Lord about our friends is the best conversation!  Who needs you to stop and pray with them today?

    That was my week!  I’d love for you to answer one of my questions and tell me about your week!

    Stay refreshed,


    baking · cakes

    Banana Cake


    I had an urge to bake recently, so I went to one of my cookbooks that always inspires me – Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is that?  I love her recipes!  I found a Banana Cake recipe that uses up those black bananas that are no longer worthy of breakfast offerings.  I regularly pop that over-ripe fruit in the freezer in little sandwich bags and keep them for recipes like these.  The sugar spots on the bananas makes them especially good for baking!  So don’t throw them away…freeze them for this Cake!

    Here’s the recipe for the cake:

    Banana Cake

    3 very ripe bananas, mashed
    3/4 cup granulated sugar – I used 1/2 Cup and it was great!
    1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Grated zest of 1 orange
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
    Walnut halves, for decorating (optional)


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. Note:  I used a five inch cake pan and a 7 inch pan, and the batter filled both to the perfect depth for a nice, deep cake!
    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
    In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.
    Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves, if using.


    The day I made this I didn’t have any cream cheese for the icing she suggests, so I found another recipe for Banana frosting and adapted it just a wee bit so I wouldn’t have to leave home for an ingredient.  Unlike the cake, the icing is made using a ripe (not over-ripe) banana.  The result is a lightly flavored banana icing that goes perfectly with the cake!


    Here’s the icing I chose to add to this super-moist cake:

    When you make the icing for this cake, if you find that the butter and bananas look like they’re curdled in your mixing bowl, and you wonder if they’ll really mix and be smooth, don’t lose heart – just keep adding the powdered sugar and it will come together just fine.

    Banana Icing

    • 1/4 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • About 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

    In a mixing bowl, cream butter, mashed banana, vanilla and lemon juice.  Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy but still soft enough to spread.


    This is a cake that begs for a glass of milk or cup of coffee and makes for the perfect ending to a meal, or becomes the best part of having a few friends over because you get to serve this simple cake.

    You may just sit around waiting for those bananas to turn black so you can whip this recipe together!  Yes, it’s that good!

    Happy baking!