Valentines Day Dessert Contest Ideas

Every year our ward has an awesome valentine’s day party. Last year I did the photo-booth for it. This year they asked if I wanted to do it again, but I’ve done it several times in a row now and I’d like to actually participate and enjoy the party this time. TH and I are going to slow dance with a toddler tugging at our legs and it will be romantic.

Part of the festivities happening at this party will be a Valentine’s Day Dessert Contest, and I have decided I’d like to win. I recently picked up some silicone heart molds, and that has to be a good start, right? The rules for this contest are that your offering needs to be red or pink in some way. It also needs to be something that’s good for a group, so no individual cheesecakes (as cute as they may be).

Here’s what I dug up on Pinterest.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

Maybe I could even make the beet cake in the shape of a heart?

Banana-Split Ice Cream Torte

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Layer Cake

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Cake with Easy Whipped Cream Frosting

Cherry Blossom Strawberry Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

POM Cupcakes

And maybe I could make the cupcakes heart shaped using the marble trick?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Russian Fruit Cake

 What do you think? Which one will help me take first prize (which is probably a chocolate bar or something 🙂 ).



Caramel Apple Cake

We hosted dessert night for our fellow Mormon business school students and their families. It was inspired by dessert nights we used to have with some of the Mormons families at Company X, and it was awesome. Something like 10 couples and 12 kids all in our apartment living room at one time. Toys were broken, way too much dessert was eaten, and the only rule was to bring something sweet (or savory) when you showed up.

I decided to make this caramel apple cake, as seen on Pinterest of course, but made a few changes that I think are worth following. The apple spiral pattern on top? I’m pretty sure that was lying dormant in my brain somewhere based on this very old post by Orangette. She arranges food so beautifully. I think the holes in top look a little bit funny, but don’t skip out on them. They really help the caramel soak in, and none of my guests knew this was a whole wheat flour dessert.

Whole Wheat Caramel Apple Cake

Adapted from Lick the Bowl Good

Apple Cake:
1 1/2 100% whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil, like Grapeseed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples

Caramel Glaze:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a stick of butter to prepare and grease your pan.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl use a mixer to beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on high until mixed well. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Add in the apple chunks and mix until apple chunks are combined well.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. It will be difficult to tell when it’s done, because it is so dark. Make sure you don’t overcook it!
Poke holes in the top of your cake with a wooden spoon to allow caramel to soak all the way through (very essential with the 100% whole wheat flour). While the cake cools, prepare your caramel glaze.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium heat, add in the brown sugar and vanilla. Cook until combined, and then spoon in the heavy cream. Simmer for 2-3 minutes at a gentle boil.

Pour the glaze on top of the cake. Let cool for about 30 minutes, but serve warm. Would be delicious with a spoon of ice cream on the side. (I will do that next time.)

Gluten-free Granola

You know Word of Wisdom living blog? My favorite blog? Skip posted a recipe for Katie’s Granola that I was so excited about, because I really wanted to provide That Husband with a breakfast option that wasn’t Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats. The recipe that Skip posted is delicious, and my mom and husband ate it up. My dad? He didn’t get a chance to taste it because he’s gluten-free.

My parents have a pretty amazing cupboard when it comes to gluten-free baking products, so I set about trying to figure out a gluten-free combination that my dad could enjoy. I feel I’ve sufficiently tweaked the recipe enough to post it here, and please note that you don’t have to be gluten-free to enjoy this. I’ve been serving it up to all sorts of people and everyone has given it a thumbs up so far.

Let’s do this tutorial post Pioneer Woman style, shall we?

First assemble the cast of dry ingredients. Oat flour, old fashioned oats, oat bran, unsweetened coconut (get the biggest flakes you can!), and chopped nuts of your choice (walnuts, pecans, and slivered almonds all work great). The magic ingredient I don’t have pictured here? Cocoa! Pretend like you see a container sitting there.

Mix it all up in a giant bowl.

Now the wet ingredients. Hot water, coconut oil, honey, vanilla. Another oil like grapeseed could work, but I highly recommend using coconut.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl. I microwaved it a little bit to get the coconut oil to melt completely.

Pour the wet ingredients all over the mixed-up dry ingredients.

When you’re all done mixing, it should look chocolaty and delicious like this.

Arrange the mixture on two baking sheets.

And pop them into an oven set to 250 F. You’re going to cook this for just over 2 hours. 2 hours and 10 minutes seems to be the magic number for me.

Every 20 minutes take the pans out and stir the mixture around so it cooks evenly. When it’s done, let it cool all the way and scoop it into containers of your choice. Skip suggests storing in the refrigerator, but we eat our so fast I don’t think spoilage is an issue for us. 🙂

I like mine best as dessert, sprinkled over a few spoonfuls of full-fat Greek yogurt.

That Wife’s Gluten-free Granola

Adapted from Katie’s Granola found on Word of Wisdom Living


10 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups oat flour
2 cups oat bran
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups coconut
3 cups nuts of your choice (Skip points out that cutting back to 2 cups, or even less, would be a great way to save money)

4 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup water
1.5 cups honey
1 cup coconut oil


1. Assemble all ingredients
2. Preheat oven to 250 F
3. Mix together dry ingredients
4. Mix together wet ingredients
5. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient bowl and mix together
6. Spread an even layer on two baking sheets
7. Bake for approximately 2 hours, stirring thoroughly every 15-20 minutes
8. Cool completely, scoop cooled ingredients into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator

Raw Chocolate Brownies with No Added Sugar

I made these raw brownies for TH for his birthday. Surprisingly good! I agree with her, worth investing in the expensive dates. I didn’t add in the almonds, which was a mistake, they needed the texture. My mom said they tasted a bit too much like dates, but TH and I agreed that the only thing we would change would be adding even more cacao and a little bit more sea salt.

The best part about these? I felt like I ate dessert, but I didn’t have that gross sugar-high feeling that I get after regular brownies (particularly those from a box mix). In part because these are so rich that you really don’t want to eat more than one. Frequent commenter Sophia pointed me to My New Roots, the blog where this recipe came from and though I don’t plan on going all raw anytime soon, she is sharing an abundance of incredibly healthy vegetarian-friendly recipes that I would love to try. This lentil salad is calling my name…

Recipe Posting Etiquette

A quiche recipe I’ll be sharing with you soon. With proper accreditation of course. 🙂

One thing that I’m not very good at when it comes to blogging is doing follow-up posts. I’ll ask for help, and then never tell you what changes I made because of your input! I’m going to try to change that, and I’m going to start with some tips on what to do when you want to post a recipe on your blog, tips cultivated from the feedback you gave me!

First, I think it’s important to define why it’s important to source properly. Not only is it the legal thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Imagine you put hours and hours into… photographing a wedding. And someone liked the pictures so much that they posted the entire wedding set on their blog, and mentioned in passing that you took them (or didn’t mention you at all). What they should have done was picked a favorite photo, talked about what they liked about it, and sent their readers to your blog to see the full set. Or they should have emailed you to ask if they could feature your photos and had explicit permission. Makes sense right? Same thing with recipes. That is the reason why we should all be thinking about this, because not sourcing or getting proper permission is stealing from the original author.

I think the most important thing to remember when trying to work out the multitude of questions that can arise when thinking about this issue, is what a person can “own”.

I own the pictures I take.

No one ever owns a list of ingredients.

I own the recipe directions as written out in my own words.

You have the same right as well. So if you invent a portobello mushroom pie, take a picture of it, and post it on your blog, the written out directions and the picture of said pie belong to you. They are your creation, and no one should be using them without giving proper credit or your permission.

So is it okay to take a recipe from my blog, copy and paste the ingredients and directions on your own, take your own picture and put that up on your blog? No. You need to rewrite the directions in your own words. And you definitely should be sourcing me as your inspiration with a link back to That Wife.

There is definitely a gray area in all of this though. For instance, I pinned this Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard White Lasagna from Coconut & Lime. Looks delicious doesn’t it?

Legally I can take the list of ingredients, paste it into a post, write out the instructions in my own words, and include my own picture. Personally though, I think that doesn’t give Coconut & Lime the credit she deserves for a really fabulous (looking) entree. So I’m instituting some new guidelines for myself:

If I invent something or use a family recipe, I’ll post it right here. It might be based loosely on something I’ve seen in the past, but as long as I didn’t make it with a cookbook sitting in front of me, I’m calling it my own.

If I use a recipe elsewhere on the internet as-is I will use my own picture as a teaser, and I will write notes with any minor change I’ve made, but I won’t post the recipe here. I think the person who originally developed the recipe deserves the credit.

If I use a recipe elsewhere on the internet and make really significant changes (using a different type and amount of flour, using a completely different cooking technique, etc), I will write out the recipe here, along with my notes because if I make big changes you want to be able to follow them in order to duplicate it. I think this is an area that gets abused in the food blogging world. Swapping out dark chocolate chips for milk chocolate in a cake recipe does NOT constitute significant changes. I will of course always link to the page that inspired my adapted recipe.

If I use a recipe found in a cookbook, I will get permission from the cookbook author to post it, and if that isn’t available I will simply tell you how much I loved it and hope you check it out from the library or buy a copy of your own!

If you post recipes on your blog I encourage you to think about sourcing properly and making sure that blog traffic/hits go to the rightful owner. Sites like Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen and others rely on advertising and hits to make money, and when you keep the traffic on your own blog instead of sending people to see them you are stealing a little bit of the money the deserve. Show them how much you appreciate having them as a resource!

Oh, and one more note that I almost forgot. Let’s say you are browsing Amy’s blog and you fall in love with the cupcakes that have Oreos in them. If you look closely at her post though, you see that the recipe originally came from Beantown Baker.  Who deserves the credit and the hits when you send people over to figure out how to make them? In my opinion Beantown Baker does, unless you follow Amy’s recipe word-for-word. If you are posting an adapted recipe I think it is only fair to say you found the recipe through Amy, but the original author was Beantown Baker.

I do have one more question. I have a cookbook from around 1913 that belonged to my great-great-grandfather. Is it old enough that I can freely post recipes without the need to get permission from someone? Same question for out of print books, if readers are unable to find the recipe elsewhere, can I be the source?

A few links based on the excellent feedback you gave me:

If you are puzzling through this same thing, I highly encourage you to read through the comments on my original post on this topic.

Echo Day pointed me to this post with a quick list of dos and donts when it comes to posting recipes.

MrsW suggested we check the copyrights of each cookbook to determine whether we can post an individual recipe. Genius!

Erin found a link on Smitten Kitchen’s FAQ page that can help us puzzle through this.

If you’re really stressed about these issues like I was, read this post Amy linked to called Recipe Attribution by David Lebovitz.