Well, we got snow! 13 inches here on Chincoteague Island to be exact. I know that may not sound like much to many of you, but for our coastal area – it’s quite a bit. Have spent time outside playing in the snow with the boys, making batches of vanilla snow cream, and of course – baking!

These cherry streusel bars are a twist on one of my favorite go-to recipes. My favorite lunch spot here on the island, Sea Star Cafe, serves a very similar bar – usually in the raspberry or apricot variety. I can never resist adding one to my order when I see them in the case…So, with all this snow on the ground…I was really craving one with a cup of my Earl Grey. Sea Star is closed until the spring (as with most things around here). So, it’s not so easy to get my fix. What else is a girl to do, but get into the kitchen and make them for herself?

I must have been thinking ahead, because when I came across a jar of sour cherry jam – during my last pilgrimage to my nearest Whole Foods (“across the Bay”), I couldn’t resist putting it in my cart. I knew it would be just perfect for these bars!

And guys, I was totes right. The sweet-tart cherry jam, blanketing a layer of shortbread crust – and topped with a crunchy, nut-filled, buttery streusel topping. Heaven.

It’s going to be all you can do not to consume the whole pan, trust me…

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten

Christmas and  most of the Holiday have now past for the year, reserving one massive New Year’s Eve throwdown tomorrow night. One thing that I am always sad to see leave my stores for another year is cranberries…and I know I can’t be alone.

I did a twist on one of my favorite summertime loaf cakes (Lemon Blueberry) to come up with this divine winter version. A tender moist cake flecked with fresh orange zest and studded with ripe red cranberries. Once it’s baked, another punch of orange flavor is added in the form of a simple orange glaze that’s poured on while the loaf is still hot…allowing it to soak up all that goodness, and add to the moisture factor.

The sweet cake paired with the occasional tart bite from a cranberry is sheer perfection for breakfast with a cup of tea. This recipe is for one loaf cake, but I regularly double it – and freeze one for later!

And make sure to check back tomorrow – *somebody* may have a cranberry cocktail to share with y’all for the New Year’s Eve shenanigans goin’ down tomorrow night…stay tuned!

 

Orange Crush Cupcakes

The Orange Crush, in cocktail form  (not to be confused with the cloyingly sweet soda variety), is synonymous with our beaches here on the Eastern Shore. A few simple ingredients are shaken up to create one of the freshest and fruitiest drinks you’ll find.  They’ve long been one of my favorites in the summertime. So, I got to thinking – why not in cupcake form?

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe as my base – with a fruity twist from fresh orange juice and zest. And I gave the buttercream frosting a nice boozy kick with a splash of Triple Sec and vodka, as well as some orange zest for a little brightness. The flecks of orange were pretty in the frosting as well.

You guys, they TOTALLY tasted like the cocktail. But cake. I took one over to one of my early morning beach walks for breakfast, and I couldn’t resist a little photo sesh…Cake By The Ocean

Cake by the ocean, baby! If there ever was a cake deemed worthy of being consumed by the ocean – it’s most certainly these. Make them soon to welcome the warm weather! No regrets.

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse

If there’s one thing that I really love – it’s a super simple no-bake dessert. When I saved this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, it stuck with me in the back of my mind. It must have struck a chord with you guys too, as it got quite a few re-pins!

Just a few minutes to whip it together, some chilling time in the fridge, and we had a delectably fluffy and rich dessert – with a hefty dose of lemony flavor. I used lemon Jell-O as well as some fresh lemon juice and zest to really brighten up the one-note flavor that box gelatin often has. Worked like a charm.

Also, instead of the ubiquitous frozen tub of whipped topping that often is included in no-bake desserts, I opted for fresh homemade whipped cream – always a welcome change in a recipe as far as I’m concerned.

Topped off with some fresh berries and a sprig of bright green mint, it’s the ideal dessert to enjoy on the back porch as the weather warms up.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce that I’m now a Rodelle Brand Ambassador! I’ve long been a fan of their vanilla products, and look forward to working with them in my kitchen to create more sweet treats to share with you guys. Stay tuned!