Move Over Carrot Cake, I’m Coming For You! MB Recipe 34

Last week I finally treated myself to cake. Yes, cake! I have been avoiding the Cakes chapter of the Magnolia Bakery cookbook for a couple months. But I finally decided to make the cake that most intrigued me: the Hummingbird Cake.

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The Baking Bug is Taking a Vacation

It shouldn’t be a major surprise to long-time blog readers that it’s been a while since I’ve baked.

The month of March was filled with crafting adventures. But I’m also starting to spend less time at home. I have been given the opportunity to get back into community theater this spring. I’ll be stage managing a play that consists of a small cast of 8 actors. It’s a really funny play and I can’t wait to jump on board.

What does this mean for the blog?

It means I’ll be posting more infrequently. Most of my free time will be devoted to theater and then resting and seeing friends. But, I do plan to bake this Friday!

So I’ll be posting about that next week, even if it isn’t a recipe out of the MB cookbook.

Until then, friends….

What a Weekend!

As I alluded to last week, I spent a good portion of my weekend in NYC. Our first stop was Brooklyn where we spent the afternoon with two other couples playing board games, consuming yummy brunch bites, and the cookies I made for the occasion.

After that, my boyfriend and I made the trek up to the Bronx so we could see the NY Botanical Gardens Train Show and NYBG GLOW event. This is something that I never knew I wanted to do…in fact, I didn’t even know the Train Show was a thing. I’ve heard about the Gardens before, but never went. Come to find out, the Train Show is kind of a big draw for New Yorkers and those of us in the suburbs alike.

Sunday was movie day. We met up with yet another couple to watch the new West Side Story movie and I highly recommend it. The movie blew me away and I have no complaints. Afterwards, the four of us went to dinner at a restaurant near the movie theater. The food was mediocre, but the company was wonderful.

While I was driving home from the dinner, it hit me. This was the first time in nearly two years where my weekend was this busy. Everyone I had socialized with was vaccinated and boosted so we all decided we would be as safe as we could be. It was definitely nice to relive the “old times” before the modern plague. Hopefully one day, we can get back to doing this more regularly.


This week my workplace is having its annual Holiday Party. We are fortunate enough to have it catered but some of us are still bringing desserts or appetizers. Obviously, I am bringing a dessert. I decided on the original Banana Pudding recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. I realized that I haven’t made the basic version yet, just some variations on the original. Plus, this dessert is somewhat easy to make and it looks stunning when done!

Though the banana pudding does not require any true “baking,” this weekend I’ll be making and decorating sugar cookies. Pics to come!

Magnolia Bakery 15 – Lemon Vanilla Bundt Cake

Sometimes you’re just in the mood to bake a cake.

That was me one day last week. I had been feeling a little out of sorts and figured baking a yummy treat would help cheer me up. I also wanted to bake something other than cookies. Eventually, I settled on yet another recipe out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Kitchen Experiments: Making Vanilla Extract

A couple of weekends ago, my partner and I finally put an idea of ours into action. We would try our hand at making our own vanilla extract. This is something both of us wanted to do for a while, but life always caused delays to it actually happening.

We were first inspired to do this separately, getting the idea from different chefs. He is a fan of Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel and I became obsessed with a TV chef on Discovery+ who also uses her own vanilla extract. Additionally, I first stumbled on this idea from one of Ina Garten cookbooks where she details the steps to making one’s own bottle of vanilla.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 4

  • Name of Recipe: Zucchini Bread
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 5.0 out of 5

Every year my family plants a garden in the spring and in the late summer and into the early fall we reap the harvest. Tomatoes of various sizes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, string beans, cucumbers, the list could go on. While many of our plants are very prolific (this year, especially, the cherry tomatoes), our zucchini plants this year did not do as well as usual. While we still were able to eat some home-grown summer squash, the numbers were far fewer than in years past.

One day, our fridge was overloaded with some large zucchinis, so I figured it’d be a good idea to whip up some zucchini bread. You know, kind of like April 2020 when everyone had those bananas that were beginning to turn brown and the whole world started baking banana bread.

I was a little hesitant to try Ree’s zucchini recipe. After all, I love the one that we use in our family from my grandmother. So, PW had big shoes to fill! And guess what? It did!

This recipe came together quickly and the bread baked beautifully. I also like that it makes two loaves. It was smart on Ree’s part. The first loaf didn’t last very long so it was good that we had a second one to eat through. The bread was super moist and flavorful — the addition of cinnamon really makes the flavors pop.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again!

I have some progress pics below…

Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 1

  • Name of Recipe: Teriyaki Salmon and Kale Sheet Pan Supper
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The first recipe on this journey was an easy one. I also loved that it was a sheet pan recipe, so clean up was extremely minimal.

This recipe was so easy and almost hands-off, so there were no pitfalls except for the fact that I think I need to add more kale to the sheet pan. That stuff really cooks down, like spinach, and I forgot about that.

There were basically three main steps to this dish: kale on the pan and season, add salmon and cover with teriyaki, bake! Super, super simple. It’s a wonderful week-night meal since it can be ready in under 25 minutes. It is also an easily scalable recipe. As a first recipe, this one was the perfect choice. It was not very involved and it tasted amazing so it gave me the renewed confidence that I needed for this project.

Here are some pictures below, since I’m trying to take more of them during the cooking process.

The seasoned kale on the sheet pan
The sheet pan with the teriyaki-covered salmon, ready for the oven!

See? An easy recipe with only a few ingredients and only one dirty dish. This is a true winner!

The finished meal with a side of white rice.

We served this meal with a side of white rice, but it would be even better with brown rice or quinoa!

I can see why people flock to Ree’s website and TV show. Her recipes are simple and are designed for modern parents — quick recipes, easy clean up makes for a real winner in my book. I have a feeling I’ll be coasting through these Sheet Pan suppers in no time! Who wouldn’t want a beautiful and tasty meal with little cleanup?

Magnolia Bakery Handbook #7 – Brown Sugar Cookies

Last week, I came home from work and was in the mood to bake. But, by the time I got home, ate dinner, and did some chores, I was not in the mood to go to the store. So, I had to pick a recipe that called for ingredients that I already had on-hand.

Enter Brown Sugar Cookies from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. I recalled that this recipe was in the book and they looked interesting, so I seized this opportunity to make them. The only downside was the recipe required that the dough chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Ms. Lloyd says that her cookie recipes should actually chill overnight before baking, but 30 minutes will do. In fact, I let this chill for a little over an hour before I started the baking process.

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Braided Everything Loaf

After the tiny finger cut debacle of July 18, I quickly realized that the location of the cut would make it difficult to work in the kitchen. Even with the use of the bandaid doing things was an awkward experience.

So, I had to wait until the cut was mostly healed before I was able to dive into cooking and baking again, especially for blogging purposes.

But that doesn’t mean I stayed out of the kitchen! Over last weekend my friend and I made a braided loaf of bread. But we spiced it up a bit — literally! We added Everything Bagel Seasoning to the top of the bread and that added so much flavor.

I didn’t really take pictures of the process, but I do have a photo of what it looked like after it came out of the oven.

Doesn’t it just look divine!