Monday, January 23, 2017

Chocolate Layer Cake with Irish Cream Cheesecake Mousse

A Kicked up Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

What's better than chocolate cake?  In my family chocolate cake is one of the top five favorite desserts.  I know this because I took a poll.  The only other cake to make the top five desserts list is our favorite carrot cake.  We usually prefer our chocolate cake with a simple chocolate buttercream frosting, but occasionally I try to mix it up by introducing a new filling to the cake like this Irish Cream Cheesecake Mousse.

Irish Cream Mousse Chocolate Cake
Irish Cream Mousse Chocolate Layer Cake

Recently, I made our favorite chocolate cake with this yummy Irish Cream Cheesecake Mousse filling.  The Irish Cream mousse is the same as in the Irish Cream Trifles I made for a special New Year's Eve dinner to welcome 2016.  Those individual trifles were delicious and I thought the cheesecake mousse would also pair perfectly with our favorite chocolate cake.
Chocolate Layer Cake with Irish Cream Cheesecake Mousse

Our favorite chocolate cake is made using the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Cake recipe and "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting.  This is a dependable cake recipe.  It's easy to make and always tastes delicious.  That's why it is always the chocolate cake I make for my family.  The mousse couldn't be easier to make.  With just five ingredients beat together for a couple of minutes, you'll have a delicious mousse ready to spread on your cake's layers.

Make this cake at least a day ahead of when you plan to serve it.  You'll want to chill the cake completely to allow the mousse to set and make the cake easy to slice.    Leftover cake can be sliced into individual servings, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for another day.  This cake freezes beautifully.

Bailey's Cheesecake Mousse
Bailey's Cheesecake Mousse

Bailey's Cheesecake Mousse 

  • 2-8 ounce blocks of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 container Cool Whip, defrosted

To Make the Cheesecake Mousse Layer

 Mix together the sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl until well combined. Beat the cream cheese, sugar mixture, and Irish Cream liqueur together with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Fold in the Cool Whip.

To Make the Chocolate Layer Cake

Prepare the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake or your favorite chocolate cake using two 9-inch cake pans.  When cool, slice each cake layer in half.  Spread one layer with one-third of the cheesecake mousse.  Top with another layer of cake.  Spread that layer of cake with another third of the cheesecake mousse and top with another layer of cake.  Spread the remaining mousse on the cake and top with the remaining layer of cake.

Chill the cake for at least two hours.  Then prepare the "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate frosting and frost the sides and top of the cake.  Chill until ready to serve.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nana's Carrot Cake Recipe

A Traditional Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

There are carrot cake recipes in abundance everywhere you look online.  This carrot cake recipe is the one our family has loved for years and years.  It is my mom's recipe and has become a favorite of many of her grandsons.  For that reason, this cake is usually a required dessert on our holiday table.  At one of our recent family gatherings, I surveyed the family asking what their favorite recipe was.  This cake was one of the top five favorites.

My Favorite Carrot Cake
Nana's Carrot Cake

You don't need a holiday as a reason to make this carrot cake.  It differs from many other carrot cake recipes in that it does not include raisins or pineapple.  The star ingredient in this cake is the carrots, with the addition of a few chopped walnuts if you choose.  The cake is topped with a yummy cream cheese frosting that is a delicious complement to the cake.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Made as a 9-inch layer cake, you'll find this cake makes an attractive presentation.  You can also make it in a 13 x 9-inch pan as an everyday dessert.  I like to cut the cake into individual servings and freeze them.  You'll find this cake freezes very well.

Nana's Carrot Cake

Print Recipe
Makes one 9'' layer cake
Nana's Carrot Cake
Nana's Carrot Cake
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups of grated carrots, approximately 5 large carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3-3 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour your pans well. I like to line the pans with parchment paper to make it easier to remove the cake layers from the pans.
Mix eggs, beating until foamy.  Add oil in a stream and vanilla.  Beat well.  Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder together.  Add to egg mixture and mix well.  Fold in carrots and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake in your preheated 350-degree F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes our clean.  Cool the cakes for ten minutes in the pans and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool frost with cream cheese frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until well combined.  Add the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla.  If the frosting feels too loose, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Make This Yummy Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie for Lunch

A 250 Calorie Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie 

It never fails that in January, after the holidays and during the height of the dreary days of winter, I begin having thoughts of healthier eating.  It could be those extra pounds that were added from all the holiday goodies or it could be the head cold that always seems to appear in early January.   Whatever the reason, one of the first things I think about changing is adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet.  Smoothies help me do that.

Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie
Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie

One of the great things about making smoothies in winter is that frozen fruit and smoothies are a match made in heaven.  It's helpful there is so much delicious frozen fruit available at reasonable prices in grocery stores today.  Visit the frozen fruit section of your grocery store and let your mind wander through all the possible combinations of fruits you can imagine.  Don't stop there.  You'll want to consider adding a vegetable or two as well.  For the vegetables, I usually head to the produce section of the store.  I like fresh spinach, kale, or beets for my smoothie vegetable options.
250 Calorie Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie

This Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie is made with frozen blueberries and a frozen mixed fruit assortment that includes peaches, pineapple, grapes, strawberries and mango.  Good stuff!  I also add a healthy handful of baby spinach.  You wouldn't even know the spinach is in the smoothie by looking at the color.  Other healthy ingredients include almond butter, ground flax meal, and almond milk.    One of these smoothies is approximately 250 calories.  If you also add a half of a medium banana the calories in this smoothie will increase to approximately 300 per serving.

Watch Me Make a Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie 

A Healthy Blueberry Smoothie
A Healthy Smoothie

Blueberry and Mixed Fruit Smoothie

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves One

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 120 grams mixed frozen fruit
  • 1 Tablespoon natural almond butter
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal
  • A handful of baby spinach
  • 1 cup 30-calorie per serving almond milk


Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of your blender.  Blend on high until the ingredients are liquefied and smooth.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kick Up Your Breakfast with Spiced Bacon

 How to Make Spiced Bacon for Breakfast

Does your family enjoy an occasional bacon and eggs breakfast?  Once in a while, we take the time to have a bacon and eggs breakfast in the Just One Donna house.  We're usually all running in different directions in the morning, so having a sit-down breakfast altogether doesn't happen very often.  When we do have the time, I sometimes like to kick up the flavor with my spiced bacon.

Spiced bacon and eggs for breakfast.
A Bacon and Eggs Breakfast with Spiced Bacon

It's very easy to make this bacon.  Cook it in the oven on a foil lined baking sheet topped with baking racks.  The foil makes for easy cleanup.  It will take about thirty minutes to cook the bacon, so you'll need to plan ahead accordingly.  If you like a little spice in your life, you'll enjoy this bacon on your breakfast table.
Make Yummy Spiced Bacon

Donna's Kicked Up Spiced Bacon

Makes about 16 slices

Spiced Bacon Ingredients
The Spiced Bacon Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon, thin sliced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.  Top the aluminum foil with baking racks.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, chili powder, and cumin.  Pour the mixture onto a plate.  Dip each slice of bacon into the mixture coating both sides of the bacon well.  Place the coated bacon on the rack in the baking pan.

Bake your spice bacon on a rack in the oven.
Spiced Bacon Ready for the Oven

Cook the bacon on the center rack of your oven for about 30 minutes, or until well-browned and crisp.  The time will vary based on the thickness of your bacon, so start checking it after about 25 minutes.

Browned, Crispy, Spiced Bacon
Browned, Crisp Spiced Bacon - Ready to Eat

Cool the bacon on the rack and serve with your favorite eggs.  I think this bacon is perfect with a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast.

Spiced bacon and eggs for breakfast
A Perfect Bacon and Eggs Breakfast
Would you like to know how I make my eggs?  Click the link for my Perfect Bacon and Eggs Breakfast post.

Spiced bacon makes a yummy appetizer when wrapped around bread sticks.  Read about my Spiced Bacon Appetizers.

Check Out More Great Breakfast Recipes:

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Best Ever Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

My Recipe for the Perfect Sugar Cookie with Buttercream Frosting 

One of my all-time favorite cookie recipes is my sugar cookie with buttercream frosting recipe.  The recipe makes a delicious sugar cookie that is sweet, but not too sweet.  The cookies have a tender, cakey texture that pairs perfectly with a buttercream frosting.  I'm sure you have heard of those famous buttercream topped sugar cookies sold by Cheryl's Cookies.  Cheryl's Cookies are delightfully decorated but are very expensive, sixteen for $36.99, including a colorful tin when I last checked. 

Sugar cookies with buttercream frosting
Best Ever Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
While there may be very good reasons to order cookies online, it is easy to make attractive, colorful and delicious sugar cookies with buttercream frosting at home. If you are looking for a copycat Cheryl's Cookie recipe you'll want to try these.  I think these cookies are better, and that's why I call them the Best Ever Sugar Cookies.  
Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
Yummiest Sugar Cookies

All you need to make these Best Ever Sugar Cookies is this great sugar cookie recipe and a few simple ingredients that you may already have in your pantry.  This is also a perfect recipe to make with your children or grandchildren.  Everyone can have some fun with the decorating.

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies.
Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

Fourth of July Sugar Cookies
Add Some Red and Blue Colored Sugar for Patriotic Celebrations

Halloween Sugar Cookies
Halloween Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies with Butter Cream Frosting

Printer Friendly Recipe

Makes 2 1/2 dozen 2-inch round cookies

The ingredients for sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.
Sugar Cookie Ingredients
The Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
The Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  your choice of food coloring


To make the cookies:  

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your electric mixer until light and fluffy.  

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.   Gradually stir the flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Form each into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.  Chill the dough for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.  Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven.  The size of your cookies may impact your cooking time, so be sure to check frequently. 

The baked sugar cookies.
The Baked Sugar Cookies
The cookies should be golden but not browned.  Remove cookies from pan and cool completely before frosting.

A light golden botom on your sugar cookie is perfect.
Don't Brown the Cookies

To Make the Buttercream Frosting:  

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk, about one-third in each addition.   You may not need to add all the milk to get the spreading consistency you need.  Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Go ahead and lick the beaters.  Just a taste is OK!

Watch My Video-How to Make Buttercream Frosting

To Decorate:

Use separate bowls for each color of frosting you will be using for decorating your cookies. Be careful adding your coloring.  A little goes a very long way.

Buttercream frosting is easily tinted with food coloring.
Three Frosting Colors
Set up an assembly line.  First, put dollops of frosting on the cookies and then spread the frosting using an offset spatula.

Frosted sugar cookies with buttercream
The Frosted Cookies
 Add a few colorful sprinkles on each to gild the lilies...

Sprinkle colored sugar or sprinkles on your sugar cookies.
Add Some Colorful Sprinkles
These cookies will freeze nicely as well.  Just be sure to let the frosting set before packaging for gift giving or freezing.   Make some today and put them in your freezer for later.  You'll be happy you did!

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Honey-Oat Bread

A Hearty Honey-Oat Bread Perfect for Toast or Sandwiches

This honey-oat bread has become a favorite at my house.  It's the reason I had to immediately replace my bread machine recently.  Not that a bread machine is required to make this bread.  It's just that a bread machine makes the bread making process so easy there is no reason not to make this bread.

Sliced Honey-Oat Bread
Honey Oat Bread

Be warned that once you start making bread at home you won't want to buy bread at the store ever again.  The cost of a comparable loaf of bread in the store is only one reason. More importantly, one bite of a freshly made loaf of bread is a taste of heaven.
Honey-Oat Bread

Let's talk for a minute about using a bread machine.  Quite frankly, I use the bread machine just to mix and knead my dough.  I prefer to bake the bread in a traditional loaf pan in my oven.  I don't like the shape of the bread baked in my bread machine or the hole made in the bottom of the bread by the bread machine paddle. You can use a mixer, but I find that the bread machine takes all the guess work out of the process when I use the dough setting.  I just add the ingredients and 120 minutes later the dough is ready to transfer to a loaf pan. It's as easy as can be.

Honey-Oat Bread

Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes one loaf

Honey-Oat Bread Ingredients
Honey-Oat Bread Ingredients
  • 1 cup lukewarm water, add 2 Tablespoons more water in winter/low humidity
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant, or bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

Bread Machine Directions

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed.  Set the machine on the dough cycle.  My bread machine dough cycle takes 120 minutes.

Making Honey Oat Bread in a Bread Machine
At the End of the Dough Cycle
After the dough cycle completes, remove the dough to a lightly floured counter.  Gently deflate the dough and shape into a rectangle loaf.  Place the loaf in a lightly greased 9-inch loaf pan.

Honey-Oat Bread in a loaf pan
The Honey-Oat Dough in Loaf Pan

Cover lightly with plastic wrap that you have sprayed with cooking oil and set aside to rise.  In a warm kitchen, the dough will take 30-60 minutes to rise above the rim of the pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while the dough is rising.

Honey Oat Bread Ready for the Oven
Risen and Ready to Bake
Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread for approximately 30 minutes, until the bread is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the bread reads at least 190 degrees F.

Baked Honey-Oat Bread
Baked Honey-Oat Bread
Remove the bread from the pan to cool on a rack.  I like to run a stick of butter across the top crust to make it soft and buttery.  Alternatively, you can melt two tablespoons of butter and brush the crust with it.

Butter the crust when still warm
Rub Crust with Butter
Let this bread cool completely before cutting.  Use either a serrated knife or an electric knife to cut the bread.  Either will help you to cut a slice just the thickness you want without squishing the bread in the process.  The texture of this bread is lovely.  It is perfect for sandwiches and yummy for toast.

Honey Oat Bread
Lovely Texture, Yummy Flavor
You can wrap this bread well in plastic wrap and store it for a few days at room temperature...if it lasts that long.  The bread will also freeze nicely.

Are you looking for other bread recipes?
No Knead Bread, a yummy, crusty bread.
Anadama Bread, a long-time family favorite, from my nana.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Delicious Oreo Truffles

How to Make Oreo Truffles 

I was introduced to Oreo Truffles five years ago when I visited my sister in Ohio.  I think they called them Oreo Balls then.   Whatever they are called, Oreo Truffles are tasty little bites that are perfect any time of year or for any occasion.  They have become a staple for Just One Donna holidays, but they are also a tasty treat for a summertime barbecue.

Oreo truffles
Oreo Truffles

All the Oreo Truffle recipes are basically the same, so there is no specific attribution for the recipe I am showing you.  Whenever I make these truffles I use semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chips for the candy coating.  Most of the recipes I have seen online use almond bark. I've tried almond bark but prefer chocolate chips.   Choose whatever chocolate option you prefer.
Delicious Oreo Truffles

There are many different Oreo flavors available today you may want to experiment with.  I have tried the mint Oreos and the peanut butter Oreos, but keep coming back to the traditional creme filled Oreos for this recipe.

It couldn't be easier to make these truffles.   Let's make a batch of Oreo Truffles, shall we?  I made this quick video to show you just how easy they are to make.

Chocolate chips, Oreos and Cream Cheese
Oreo Truffle Ingredients

Oreo Truffles

Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 40
  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco) 
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips, optional

How to Make Oreo Truffles

Break a package of Oreos into the bowl of a food processor.  You really need to use a food processor for this because you want the cookies to be processed into small, consistently sized, crumbs.

Add Oreos to Bowl of Food Processor

Pulse the cookies for ten to twelve pulses, or until they become crumbs.

Oreo cookie crumbs.
Process Cookies Into Crumbs
Next, add the cream cheese in chunks to the bowl of your processor. Process the cream cheese and cookies until the mixture is well combined.  The mixture will clump to the side of your bowl.

The Oreo cookie and cream cheese center for the truffles.
Process Until Creamed

Roll one-inch balls and place on a wax paper or parchment-lined sheet pan.  You'll make approximately forty one-inch balls.  Chill the balls in the freezer for one hour.

Make forty balls from the Oreo and cream cheese mixture.
Roll into Balls

Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in your microwave at 50% power for 3-5 minutes.  The shortening will help to make the chocolate coating glossy.

Melt chocolate chips to coat the Orea and cream cheese mixture.
Melt Chocolate to Coat

Using two forks, roll the balls in the chocolate and set them back on the lined sheet pan.  Return the balls to the freezer to set for 15-30 minutes.  I know these look a teensy bit messy, but they are easily trimmed with a knife.

The Oreo Truffles before being trimmed with a knife.
Allow Truffles to Set

Melt the white chocolate chips in your microwave at 50% power until thin enough to drizzle over the Oreo Truffles.  Once set, package the truffles for longer term keeping.  They keep well in the freezer.  Before serving set the Oreo Truffles on the counter for 15-20 minutes to thaw a bit.

Oreo Truffles
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