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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pizza Monkey Bread

We have pizza night at least once a week at our house.  I love pizza night because nobody complains about it!  This pizza monkey bread was a fun way to change things up and the kids loved helping stuff the pizza rolls.  Entertainment + dinner prep?  I call that a win.  

We are sharing the recipe over on the Rhodes rolls blog today, so head over there for the printable!

Monday, June 13, 2016

No-Bake Lemon Jello Cheesecake

I'm all about a no-oven summer, at least as much as I can help it.  I can't totally avoid it, I still need baked rolls, bread and cookies.  But I do try to plan more meals and treats that require no-oven in the summer time. Are you that way too? 

This no-bake cheesecake fits my no-oven requirements perfectly! My friend, Leticia, shared this recipe with me back when we were in high school. We made it at least a half a dozen times during our senior year - somehow it didn't end up in my own recipe collection and I had to get it from her recently.  We served it to our friends and the missionaries from our church, who came for dinner, and it was a hit!  I can't believe I've gone 12+ years without this yummy stuff!

Now some may argue that this isn't cheesecake -  and it's not your typical baked cheesecake. Since there is jello in it (along with your more typical cheesecake ingredients, sugar, cream cheese, graham cracker crust, etc) - it's got a nice firm but spongy texture. It's light and lemony and I like to make sure the crust is extra thick - I'm a sucker buttery, sugary graham cracker goodness!  Mmm, I'll take another slice right about now! 

Serve it plain and simple or garnish it with a small quartered lemon slices or a lemon zest curl if you want to get it a little fancy! Or I've seen recipes for candied lemons too. That would also work well.  

Keep cool out there this summer and enjoy some cheesecake!

No-Bake Lemon Jello Cheesecake


For the Crust:
1 ½ sleeves graham crackers, crushed to crumbs (about 2 ½ cups of crumbs)
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk (or substitute 4 ounces milk and 8 ounces heavy cream)
1 small box of lemon jello
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½-1 lemons, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Lemon slice quarter or lemon zest curls for garnish, optional


Pour the canned evaporated milk (or substitute listed in ingredient list) into a small bowl (glass or stainless steel) - and place it in the freezer until the milk starts to freeze to the edges of the bowl (for me this is about 30-45 minutes). While this is freezing - In a small mixing bowl mix lemon jello packet with the envelope of Knox unflavored gelatin until combined - then add one cup of very hot water and stir until dissolved. Place the lemon jello mixture into the fridge and chill until it’s sticky on top (it should stick to your finger if you touch the top - if it’s still runny it’s not ready) but don’t let it firm up too much.  This usually takes about the same amount of time as the freezing the milk.  

While you’re waiting for the milk and jello to be ready start on the crust. In a gallon size zip top bag place 1 ½ sleeves of graham crackers and zip closed.  Roll with a rolling pin until the crackers are crushed as evenly as possible (or blend in a blender until you have crumbs).  Pour the crumbs into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir until combined. Add melted butter and stir until evenly combined. Press the crumb mixture into a 9x13 glass or metal pan using your hand or the bottom of a glass cup until the mixture is firmly packed down

Mix the cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla until smooth with a hand mixer (or in a blender).  In a clean bowl with clean beaters - whip the frosty milk until fluffy (it won’t be quite as fluffy as cream - but it gets very frothy).  Add the chilled and sticky lemon jello mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat/blend til smooth. In a large bowl fold in the whipped milk into the cream cheese/jello mixture until combined and pour over the graham cracker crust. Smooth evenly across the curst.  Chill covered for at least 2 hours, preferable 4+.  Serve chilled. Cut into square and serve. Garnish with lemon slice quarters or a lemon zest curl if desired.


Originally shared on Eighteen25. Adapted this recipe from one my friend, Leticia F. gave me.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Fudgy Doctored-Up Chocolate Cupcakes {from a cake mix}

In our family it's always been a tradition to make a birthday cake or cupcakes for celebrating the kids birthdays. It all started with our talented mother! Our mom made some of the most amazing cakes for us when we were kids! And the taste of homemade is waaaay better than store bought.  This recipe combines homemade with a cake box mix that's doctored up to make the best cupcakes ever!  The cake mix saves you time on measuring out all the ingredients, but with a few doctored up tips these deep rich, fudgy texture of these doctored up chocolate cupcakes are out-of-this-world good!

You start with a basic devils food cake mix (if you prefer a white or light colored cake mix try using instant vanilla pudding instead of chocolate).  So you'll get about 24 cupcakes.  But we've added some extra things to make these over-the-top-good.  You'll put everything in that the cake mix calls for (except you'll sub milk for water, and add one extra egg), plus you'll add a box of instant chocolate pudding mix and a cup of sour cream.  Those few things really help get that yummy fudgy texture that makes these soooo good! 

You can frost these however you like.  Below we have a recipe for our favorite cream cheese frosting.  It calls for chilled cream cheese which makes it really hold together well. It's so easy to pipe and doesn't run like some cream cheese frosting recipes we've had before. Pictured above are the rocket-ship cupcakes, which were frosted with a big round tip. I actually didn't even use a real frosting tip. I just put some tape on the side the little insert that you put a frosting tip on to make it a circle and piped it on that way.  The chocolate/vanilla swirl cupcakes were frosted with a Wilton 1M (large star) tip.  Here is an awesome video that shows you how to do cupcake frosting just right.  That's what I followed. 

Top with any sprinkles or cupcakes you like. I have found buying sprinkles from the grocery store bakery is really cheap. They'll sell me a big tub for $2-3. I get way more that way then I do buying small bottles on the baking isle.

Doctored Up Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
2 tablespoons flour (for high altitude only)
1 box devil’s food cake mix
oil, eggs, milk instead of water, and one extra egg as called for on the back of the box
1 cup sour cream (low or high fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 cupcake liners

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, chilled
6 ½ tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (clear if you want it to stay white)
⅛ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with 24 liners.

Combine the dry cake mix package with the instant pudding (and 2 tablespoons of flour if you’re at a high altitude - over 4,500 ft).  Add the amount of oil from the box, sub milk for the water that the box calls for, and add one extra egg from the box directions.  Add the sour cream and vanilla.  Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Fill each baking cup ½-⅔ full. Bake for 19-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove each cupcake from the tin onto a cooling rack.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and salt. Mix until incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Frost by hand or pipe in a bag with a Wilton 1M tip for swirls or a round tip for a smoother look. Top with sprinkles if desired.  Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:

Originally shared on - the cupcake recipe by Leesh; Cream cheese frosting recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats