Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Birthday Cake- French Vanilla With A Cream Cheese Frosting

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It’s that time again when I need to make a cake for a special friend. His favorite color is blue, so there was really nothing else I could have done. I wasn’t going to make a blue cake, but blue frosting, well that’s a whole different story. I going, to be honest, baking doesn’t come easily to me. I really have to work at it. I do take help where I can get it. For this recipe, I used a box cake mix. Listen, there are some really good ones that are available. It saves a lot of time and the measuring out of different ingredients, so why not?

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I’m starting out this cake by using three boxes of cake mix. I chose French vanilla.

The first thing that you need to do is to prep your cake pans with butter, parchment paper to fit each cake pan, and flour. You want to butter the pans first, then lay down the parchment paper in each one. Butter the tops of each circle of parchment paper. Next, flour each pan. I sprinkle a little flour in the bottom of the pans then roll the flour around so the inside sides of the pan are floured. Shake off any excess flour into the sink and then the pans are ready.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Oven Temperature: 350 degrees F.
Baking Time: 25-55 minutes ( times may vary depending on oven and different size cakes pans for this recipe)
Equipment; 5″, 7″, 9″ cake pans and parchment paper

Note: It’s important when baking that all the ingredients be room temperature. Using a toothpick or cake tester, after 25 minutes, check on the 5″ cake, then at 45 minutes, check on the 7″ cake. Then again at 55 minutes for the 9″. Remember these time may vary slightly.

Follow the instructions on the back of the cake box, eggs, water, and vegetable oil. Here’s the part where I make it’s semi-homemade. I add 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the wet ingredients. Whisk all those ingredients together.  I do each box one at a time to ensure each batch has the correct consistency.  Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, I slowly add in the dry ingredients from the box to the wet ingredients. I have a large bowl set aside to pour the first box of finished batter in. Repeat this process 2 more times. All the batter should now be combined in the large bowl.

Ingredients For A Double Batch Of Frosting:
4 sticks of softened unsalted butter
2-8 ounce bars softened cream cheese
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
4 cups of powdered sugar
2 drops of blue food coloring ( more if you like the color to be darker or choose any color you like.)

Place softened butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream those together for a minute until combined. Next, add in the vanilla. To that add in the powdered sugar slowly until all 4 cups have been added. Let all that combine before adding in the food coloring a drop at a time. Two drops total should be perfect for a pastel blue color.


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Double Fudge Peanut Butter Brownies

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It can get a little stressful in my house when, Steve’s team, the Miami Dolphins are playing. If they’re scheduled to play the New England Patriots, well, that’s a whole different kind of worry. As a loyal fan, he takes game day very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I love football too. I thought, how can I make this night extra special.

I thought, how about one of his favorites, brownies! Because I’ve been busy myself, I decided to take a little help from the store and make these semi-homemade.  I rushed up to the grocery store and picked up a really good box mix, and then added a few extra surprises to go into the brownies.

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The brownie mix was double fudge and included a fudge pouch inside, but I’d add more goodies. Peanut butter, more chocolate chips, and some new Nestle pumpkin white chocolate chips. This should do it. All I did was to follow the instructions on the box. To the dry mix, I added in a 1/4 cup mixture of the semi-sweet chocolate and pumpkin morsels. I stirred in the morsels so they would be coated with the dry mix.

Next, I also added 1/4 cup of cold brewed coffee to the wet ingredients before combining them with the dry. Coffee really enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

Next, I slowly added the dry to the wet ingredients until they were just combined.  I poured the batter into a buttered greased 8 X 8 pan. Next, I took 1 cup of smooth peanut butter and placed spoonfuls randomly, all over the top. I took a large skewer and swirled the peanut butter through the batter. This way every bite would have some of that creamy peanut butter. Finally, I sprinkled the top with a few more of the different flavored chocolate chips. I baked this according to the package and that was it.

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This worked out great!  It didn’t take that much longer to add these extra ingredients. The fact that I started out with a really good box mix and just added a few extra special ingredients gave Steve the impression that they were made from scratch. I made store bought brownies seem as though they were homemade and without spending a lot of time that I didn’t have.

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Semi-Homemade Biscuits

Semi-Homemade Biscuits (2)



These Semi-Homemade Biscuits are so easy to make, I promise you’ll be making them again and again. They are golden on the outside and tender and delicious on the inside.

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Equipment: 9 x 13 casserole or baking dish, rolling pin, square biscuit cutter
Yields: 18 biscuits

4 cups of Bisquick mix
1 cup of Sprite or 7-Up
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
1/2 a bar of room temperature cream cheese ( 4 ounces )
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
Melt the butter and pour into a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients and the salt together. Finally add the Bisquick mix slowly, DO NOT over mix. The dough will be sticky. Flour your surface and rolling pin. Add a little flour to the top of the dough making it easier to roll out. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about a 1/2 inch thick. Using a square biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 18 biscuits and place into your melted buttered baking dish, arranging them side by side. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the biscuits are hot, brush the tops with melted butter. Serve immediately.

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