Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lemon Pudding Cakes

When the chill of winter is getting you down and you are longing for warmer days, a sunny lemon dessert may brighten your day.

Truth be told, lemon has always been a favorite flavor and these Lemon Pudding Cakes have become a favorite way for me to indulge my love of all things lemon. I think you'll like them, too.

Individual Lemon Pudding Cakes

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Individual Lemon Pudding Cake
Lemon Pudding Cake

I love these lemon cakes because I'm a huge fan of little individual cakes, whether cupcakes or chocolate lava cakes. It's fun to make a special cake for each person and I'm always a fan of the forced portion control that results as well.

This is a straightforward recipe.  The ingredients are simple, and like me, you may already have them in your kitchen.

Flour, salt, egg, lemon, milk, and sugar. Don't you love it when you don't need to run to the grocery store to make something yummy?
Lemon Pudding Cakes

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Lemon Pudding Cake Ingredients
Lemon Pudding Cake Ingredients
Printer Friendly Recipe

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1 1/3 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place eight half-cup ramekins in a 13x9-inch baking dish filled with four cups of water.  The water level will be halfway up the outside of the ramekins.

Ramekins for Baking Lemon Pudding Cakes
Ramekins Set in a Water Bath
Next, beat together the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, beating for 3 minutes with your electric mixer until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.  It will look delightful.

Beating the Eggs
Beat the Egg Yolks and Sugar until Light in Color

While the eggs are beating, mix together the 1/2 cup of flour and the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set that mixture aside.

Zest one lemon and squeeze 1/3 cup of lemon juice from two lemons.

Stir the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar, making a very thick batter.  Beat the batter on medium speed for two minutes.  The batter will be very thick and lumpy.

Add the lemon zest, milk and lemon juice, stirring gently.  Using a silicone spatula to do the stirring will help you loosen the thick, lumpy batter from the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

Next, in a separate glass bowl, beat the egg whites until thick and foamy and add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Continue beating until the whites form soft peaks.

Soft Peaks of Egg Whites
Soft Peaks
Next, fold the whites into the egg and lemon batter.  Using a silicone spatula, fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to distribute the batter and lighten it a bit.  Then fold in the rest of the egg whites, gently, but completely.

Use a scoop to distribute the batter into the eight ramekins evenly.  Then place your pan on the center rack of the oven to bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Distribute Batter with an Ice Cream Scoop
Use a Scoop to Distribute the Batter

You'll know the pudding cakes are completely cooked when they are browned, puffed up high above the rim of the ramekins and some may be cracked.  Using different types of ramekins may result in your cakes cooking differently.

Puffed Cakes
Can You See the Different Results with Different Ramekins?

You'll be impatient to taste them because they look delicious and smell even better, but you'll want to cool them in the water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. You'll see that they will settle as they cool.

Cooled Lemon Pudding Cakes
The Cooled Lemon Pudding Cakes

I love to dig into these cakes while still warm and the consistency is light and delicate.  The flavor is sweet and lemony, just what I like is a spring dessert.

In my humble opinion, this recipe is a delicious way to showcase the flavor of lemons.  These lemon pudding cakes are easy to make and are a tasty treat.

For all of us lemon lovers, this recipe deserves a five out of five stars.  I call it a keeper.

Eating a Lemon Pudding Cake
Digging In
After you let the lemon pudding cakes cool to room temperature you'll be able to turn them out onto a plate after running a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully coaxing it free.

This results in a prettier presentation with the pudding covering the top of the cake.  You can either serve them straight from the ramekin or turned out onto a pretty plate.

A Lemon Pudding Cake
Lemon Pudding Cake
 Get other recipes for lemon lovers from my Pinterest board.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Best Ever Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

One of my all-time favorite cookie recipes is my sugar cookie with buttercream frosting recipe.  This recipe makes a delicious sugar cookie that is sweet, but not too sweet. 

These cookies have a tender, cake-like texture that pairs perfectly with a buttercream frosting.  They are a nice alternative to those famous buttercream-topped sugar cookies sold by Cheryl's Cookies.  

My Recipe for the Perfect Sugar Cookie with Buttercream Frosting

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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.

I love that you don't need to be fussy with your decorating to make these cookies attractive and perfect for any occasion.  I love them from Valentine's Day, but you'll see from the pictures that these cookies are perfect for every holiday.  They are also perfect everyday cookies.  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.  The buttercream frosting is delicious.  It sets up quickly and holds up well if you want to freeze your cookies.

This is also a perfect recipe to make with your children or grandchildren.  Everyone can have some fun with decorating these sugar cookies.

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

Fourth of July Sugar Cookies
Add Some Red and Blue Colored Sugar for 4th of July 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

  • 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 the 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 when 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!

These sugar cookies also make a yummy foundation for royal icing.  Here is a picture of my Fourth of July Fireworks Sugar cookies.

Fourth of July Fireworks Sugar Cookies
4th of July Fireworks Cookies

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Monday, December 30, 2019

Nani's Italian Stuffed Peppers

Don't we all have certain foods that bring us back to a time long ago, or make us think of a special loved one?  Nani's Stuffed Peppers is that dish for my hubby.  These stuffed peppers evoke memories of his Italian grandmother, Nani. They are authentic Italian stuffed peppers that make a perfect family-friendly dinner.

Authentic Italian Stuffed Peppers

Italian Stuffed Pepper
Nani's Italian Stuffed Peppers
Hubby loved these peppers so much that he was determined to learn how to make them.   Years ago, early in our marriage, he called Nani and asked her to show him how to make the stuffed peppers. He wanted to be sure the recipe would be passed on in the family.

Nani's Authentic Italian Stuffed Peppers
Like so many recipes our grandmothers used to make, this recipe was not written down. He watched her make the stuffed peppers making note of quantities. A handful of this and a pinch of that have been translated into the recipe you see on this page.

Hubby proudly makes these peppers at our house.  This is his specialty recipe.  He makes them often in the fall and winter of the year.  They are served for dinner about once a week during the cold weather seasons of the year.  We freeze them so that we always have stuffed peppers on hand.

I have never paid close attention to how these peppers were made.  After all, these stuffed peppers are Hubby's specialty.   Last weekend, I suggested to him that we make a batch of these peppers together, and that's what we did.  He also agreed to share this recipe with all of you.

Nani's Stuffed Peppers

Printer Friendly Recipe

 Makes 20 servings
Italian Stuffed Pepper Ingredients
Italian Stuffed Pepper Ingredients
  • 10 red bell peppers, cut in half
  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled and large diced
  • 2 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 loaf sliced white bread, blended into crumbs
  • dried basil, a handful 
  • dried parsley, a handful
  • 6 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Peel and dice the eggplant.  Dice the squash.  Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large deep-sided pan.  Add the squash and eggplant, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and saute until tender.  Add additional olive oil if needed to keep vegetables from sticking to the pan. Remove the eggplant and squash from the pan and set aside to cool.

The mixture will look like this.

Cooked squash and eggplant
The Cooked Eggplant and Squash
To the same pan add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook the beef until lightly browned.  Drain the fat from the beef and allow the beef to cool slightly.
When cooled return the drained beef to the pan.  Add the squash and eggplant mixture and stir to combine.  Add the eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, basil, and tomato sauce.

Stir to combine.  Add water, as necessary to ensure the mixture is moist.  You want the mixture to hold together.

Italian stuffed peppers stuffing mix.
The Stuffing Mixture

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Stuff each pepper half with the mixture.

When freezing your peppers for later: Wrap each filled pepper individually in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag for up to three months.

To Bake:  Place the peppers in a baking dish.  Drizzle generously with olive oil.  Bake uncovered until the stuffing mixture is browned and crusty and the peppers are tender.

Italian stuffed peppers
Italian Stuffed Peppers Ready for the Oven
Sometimes I make a spicier version of this recipe.  You can find my spicy stuffed peppers here. 

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Parmesan Crusted Pigs in a Blanket

I know what you're thinking.  Pigs in a blanket are so yesterday.  Well, you know, what goes around comes around and pigs in a blanket are back again.   Really, they never left.

Everyone loves pigs in a blanket and always have.  Go ahead and serve them at your next party. They are perfect for a holiday party or a Superbowl party or a backyard barbecue.  You'll see them fly off the plate.

Pigs-in-a-Blanket with Puff Pastry and Parmesan Cheese

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Pigs-in-a-blanket served with honey mustard
Parmesan Crusted Pigs in a Blanket
These kicked up, Parmesan-crusted, pigs in a blanket were inspired by a frozen, prepared version I purchased at the grocery store.  The grocery store frozen pigs-in-a-blanket were a holiday specialty item and I bought a box of twelve to try them out.

They were good, but a little greasy.  I was sure I could make them better and for less money. The store-brand cost approximately $0.42 each.  My version cost me about $0.24 each.
Parmesan crusted pigs-in-a-blanket.

You can prepare these pigs in a blanket in advance and freeze them so they'll be ready whenever you need a quick go-to appetizer.  Just brush them with a little egg wash and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on each before you pop them in the oven.

Don't forget the honey mustard sauce.  The sauce makes these appetizers pop in your mouth. You can make your own or use a prepared honey mustard sauce you like.

Pigs-in-a blanket made with puff pastry.
Pigs-in-a-Blanket Ready to Bake

Parmesan Crusted Pigs in a Blanket

Print Recipe
Makes 32 appetizers
  • 1 package little smokies sausages
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry, 2 sheets
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated, Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare your baking sheets with a sheet of parchment paper to fit. Defrost the puff pastry according to the package directions.

While the puff pastry is thawing, drain the little smokies sausages in a colander. You want the sausages to be dry.

Once the puff pastry is thawed,  working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the pastry sheet out using a rolling pin until the pastry is approximately square in shape.

Cut the pastry sheet into 16 pieces.  Lay a sausage in the center of each piece.

Pull up two opposite corners and pinch them together.  Place the pigs in a blanket on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. (They can be closer together if you plan to freeze now and bake later.)

When freezing for later, place your baking sheet in the freezer until your pigs-in-a-blanket are frozen.  Then place them in a freezer-safe bag for storage.  When baking from frozen just pick up from here in the directions.  Your pigs-in-a-blanket may need to bake a minute or two longer.

Easy preparation for pigs-in-a-blanket.
Preparing Pigs in a Blanket

Beat the egg with two teaspoons of water.  Brush the egg wash over each pig in a blanket.

Sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan cheese.

Place the pan on the center rack of your preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

Cool slightly.  Serve with honey mustard sauce.

To make the honey mustard sauce:  Mix 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard with two generous tablespoons of honey. Taste and add more honey if desired.

Honey mustard sauce takes these Parmesan pigs-in-a-blanket from good to great.
Pigs in a Blanket

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Stuffed French Toast for a Decadent Breakfast

Once a year I make this Apple and Pecan Stuffed French Toast.  It is delicious, but not exactly a healthy breakfast.  Decadent...yes,  But, this stuffed French toast is oh, so good.  You must have it at least once a year.  It's perfect for a holiday brunch.  I usually save it for Christmas morning.

Apple and Pecan Stuffed French Toast

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Decadent Stuffed French Toast
Yummy Stuffed French Toast

There are a number of reasons this Apple and Pecan Stuffed French Toast is perfect for a holiday breakfast or brunch.

  • You make it in advance.
  • It's a one-pan dish.
  • It can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.
  • It tastes like you went to a lot of effort. 
Decadent Apple and Pecan French Toast

This French Toast would also make a perfect, over the top breakfast for New Year's Day, especially because you can make it ahead of time.  That way you can just pop it in the oven New Year's Day morning and 40 minutes later you'll taste heaven in your mouth.

You can use any firm-textured white bread you like for this stuffed French toast.  I like to used homemade bread, like my honey-oat bread, whenever I can but I have used many different store-bought loaves of bread, too.  You'll want your bread to be a little stale so that it will absorb the custard well.

Stuffed French Toast

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 8-10

For the French Toast

The Custard for the French Toast
The Yummy Spiced Custard
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 2 cups fruit preserve, or cooked fruit (I prefer canned apple pie filling)
  • 1 loaf day-old bread

For the Topping

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • sweetened whipped cream, optional

Prepare a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with butter or non-stick spray.  Slice your bread.  Line the bottom of your pan with slices of the bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices.

The Bread for the French Toast
Cut the Bread to Fit the Pan

Next, add dollops of the cold cream cheese all over the bread.  Use the entire eight ounces of the cream cheese.

The Cream Cheese
Use All of the Cream Cheese
Then spread the fruit evenly over the bread slices.

Apples for the stuffed French Toast
The Apple Filling
Add a second layer of bread, cutting the bread to fit your pan.  Beat together the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour the mixture over the bread in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Mix together the 2 tablespoons of dark corn syrup, brown sugar, and pecans for the topping.  Cover and set aside.  You are all set for the morning.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and take the pan with the bread out of the refrigerator to warm for about 30 minutes.  While the French Toast is warming,  melt the butter and mix it with the other topping ingredients.  Spread the topping evenly over the bread in the pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until set in the middle.  Your stuffed French Toast will puff up and may spill over, so you might want to set it on a baking sheet in your oven.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest.  You'll want to let it rest at least 15 minutes, but it can rest for 30 minutes or more.  I think it is best when it is not piping hot.

Apple and Pecan French Toast
Serve Warm or at Room Temperature

Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream.  I told you, this is decadent.

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