Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake


It's October!  It's time to wear sweaters and drink pumpkin lattes and listen to your children change their minds over their Halloween costumes every 7 minutes!  That last part aside (make up your damn mind!), I really do love this time of year.  It takes me a hot second to fully embrace that appreciation, however.  If you ask me in mid-August if I'm looking forward to fall, I'll cry in your face.  But now that it is upon us, I'm totally in the mood for it.  Football Sundays, pumpkin patches, soup weather and baking up all the traditional autumn goodies.  BRING IT ON, CINNAMON AND NUTMEG AND GINGER.  Sorry for shouting.  

The other day, I watched my "virtual friend" Audra make this live on her Instagram, muted, because I was supposed to be watching my daughter's karate class.  Anyway, even with no sound I knew I had to make it myself.  So I did, and let me tell you... WORTH IT!  It's good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack, whatever you fancy, and best served in my opinion with ice cream or coffee.  Or both. Go wild!!  And enjoy the season.

Recipe HERE.

The cutest little helper in all of the land...

Happen Bakers: Faith Quintero


Hello!  New Happen Bakers time!

Meet Faith, a 14 year-old girl who reached out to me on Instagram.  After checking out her page - named FaithfullyCreated - I was COMPLETELY blown away by her talents.  A true artist, Faith whips up sweet confections that rival those displayed in the trendiest of bake shops.  Um, hello Kids Baking Championship??  Scoop this girl up at once!  Many of her recipes are her own, and they are all decorated in the most original way.  Catered for friends and family, Faith's attention to detail is beyond anything I've seen from someone so young, and it's evident her skills will take her far.  In a world where kids can be absorbed by tablets and social media, it's so refreshing to see what someone like Faith can accomplish.  

Go check out FaithfullyCreated now, and continue reading below to learn more about this talented baker!  By the way, gotta give the girl a shout out for the name pun... wink wink :)    

Click HERE to get Faith's original recipe for her FaithfullyCreated Chocolate Cake.

When did you start baking?

My grandma inspired me to bake when I was 2 years old. 

How did you learn?

I learned how to bake by watching and helping my grandma bake cookies and brownies.  But now I learn new tips and tricks by watching hours and hours of YouTube.

What do you love most about it?

The thing I love about baking most is the joy on the faces of the people I bake for and the fact that it helps me through tough times and to de-stress.  

What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?


What's your dream dessert?

To eat the world's most expensive ice cream or to make a cake taller than me.  

Name 3 celebrities you'd like to bake with...

Most epic kitchen fail?

My most epic kitchen fail were my first four attempts at a vegan cake (IT WAS DISGUSTING).  

Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I love to listen to anything I can dance to while baking (but no cursing or country music).  Mostly Shawn Mendes. 

Favorite food site or YouTube channel? 

My all-time favorite YouTube channels are ManAboutCake and HowToCakeIt...I watch hours of them!

When you're not baking, you are...

...doing homework, sleeping or hanging out with friends. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

 I hope it doesn't take me 10 years, but I am saving up for a 36-inch KitchenAid oven so that I can take my business to the next level and open a bakery!

Thank you Faith!  Continue to blow the world away!    

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms


If you follow my Instagram Stories (also referred to as compete-and-utter-nonsense) then you know I recently grew a pumpkin plant that rival's Jack's giant beanstalk.  Well, it didn't quite reach the sky, but it did coil itself around every other living thing in my front yard and crept its way towards our porch door.  Because it wanted to come inside.  And live with us.  And eat my children.  
No, no, I kid...this was not a scary pumpkin plant!  It was my friend!  Every morning I would sit beside it with a cup of coffee, and we would chat.  Or, I would chat, and it would listen.  The chats led to songs, which led to me deciding I should share my morning ritual with the Internet World.  Was that a good decision?  Hahahahaha.  Hahaha.  I mean, what even is a good decision, am I right?

Anyway.  Then one day I cooked my plant and murdered it, The End!

FINE.  I'll tell you more than that.  Over time, the plant bloomed blossoms.  Is that a sentence?  But there were no pumpkins.  I turned to the Internet World once more, and asked them where my pumpkins were.  7913 answers later, I came to the conclusion that my blossoms were NOT, in fact, going to produce pumpkins for me this year.  I confirmed this with a professional, and thhheeennnn I cooked my plant and murdered it.  The End Again!   

For those curious about the method I chose to make my stuffed, fried squash blossoms... 
I followed this recipe.  They were delicious, but next time I might try a tempura batter instead of using bread crumbs.  See below for more things I learned along the way... and thank you for joining me on my pumpkin plant journey!    

1. If you fry a cheese-stuffed shoe it will probably taste good.
2. You can have a black thumb and still grow a pumpkin plant.
3. All of my Instagram followers are pumpkin experts.
4. Regina Falange lives on.
5. My neighbors don't mind me singing to nature.   

1-Minute Lentil Dip


You guys, I've discovered the most delicious, effortless dip in all of the land.  Me, I've discovered it, no one else, ALL the credit lands HERE.  No, that is a lie.  My friend's mom made it for me, and she discovered it from Trader Joe's.  In fact, when I went to TJ's to buy the 3 ingredients - that's right, THREE ingredients - required to make it, the employee ringing me up said, "best. dip. ever."  He knew.  From eyeing my feta cheese, cooked lentils and bruschetta sauce, he knew what I was up to...

There's really no recipe.  You combine everything and, voila!  You have a dip that's best served, in my opinion, with Trader Joe's Pita Crackers.  (By the by, this post has NOT been sponsored by TJ's...I'm just a loyal fan.  Remember "2-Buck Chuck?"  Oh, those were the days...)  

However, if you like measurements and all that jazz, you can find the recipe HERE.

Carson pointed out it's not the most appetizing dip in all of the land, and he has a point, but that doesn't matter.  One bite and you will agree.  

Also, TJ's calls it a "salad" - but I'm not down with that.  It's a dip, if you ask me, and that's where I stand.  The End.

Happen Bakers: Judith


Meet Judith, the newest member of the Happen Bakers club!

I'm particularly excited about this one, because unlike Michelle and Lilah, I have never officially met Judith... which means young bakers are now reaching out from across the country to share their talents!  In this case, Judith is a 13 year-old girl living in South Carolina who has been baking for the past five or so years.  What began with simple sugar cookies quickly developed into more challenging desserts, such as scones, tartlets, muffins and impressive cakes.  Now, her friends and family come knocking and requesting her decorated confections for birthdays and celebrations, and Judith is happy to comply.  In her own words, she wants to "use her abilities to serve others" - um, do you think her mom is proud?!  I'm not her mother, but I sure am, and it's precisely young females like Judith that define what a Happen Baker is: a positive individual, creatively paving their way through this world in the most delicious way.   

Learn more about Judith below as she whips up these delicious Lemon Tartlets!  
(My younger self is saying... what is a tartlet??)  

Recipe for the Lemon Tartlets with Lemon Curd HERE.  

When did you start baking?

I started baking when I was about 8 years old and I was inspired by watching my mom bake.  I also had been getting into baking and cooking shows and, of course, I wanted to try it too!

How did you learn?

The first thing I baked was simple sugar cookies which led me to learn a lot about baking.  I also learned a lot from watching my mom bake and watching videos and tutorials online.

What do you love most about it?

I love baking for many reasons.  One thing I love most about it is it is a way to be creative and express myself.  I think of it as my form of art.  

What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

The most challenging thing I've baked was a unicorn cake because the decorations were very difficult.  

What's your dream dessert?

My dream dessert is a lemon cake with blueberry frosting and simple and elegant decorations.

Name 3 celebrities you'd like to bake with...

Duff Goldman, Rosanna Pansino and Linsey Lam who won the Kids Baking Championship season 4.  

Most epic kitchen fail?

My biggest fail in the kitchen was when I was making a cookie cake for a birthday.  I pulled it out of the oven and was trying to slide it onto a plate when it slipped out of my hands and I dropped it in the oven and it made a huge mess.  I had to make another one quickly because the birthday was very soon!

Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I haven't listened to music while baking, but I may give it a try.  Until now I usually hear my little sister and brother whooping and hollering in the background.  

Favorite food site or YouTube channel?

I love the Food Network website and I also enjoy watching Rosanna Pansino's YouTube channel.

When you're not baking, you are...

When I'm not baking I'm running, singing in my choir or playing the piano.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I want to be using my abilities to serve others.  I also want to open a bakery and want to have been on a baking competition TV show.  I want to give to others and provide my services in many ways.

Judith - you are a superstar and your creative, kind spirit shines through your baking!
Until next month, Happen Bakers...

Muffuletta Sandwiches


Hello.  I love sandwiches.  I love them like Joey Tribbiani loves them, and yes, I had to google how to spell "Tribbiani."  I think if I had to pick, a good Italian sandwich would be my favorite.  I still dream at night about "The Godmother" from Bay Cities in Santa Monica.  It is literal PERFECTION. Do you have a favorite?  I also love a good turkey, mayo, lettuce and tomato on a soft roll stuffed with crunchy potato chips.  Should we talk about sandwiches for another hour?  No?  Ok.

Recently, I went to see Dave Matthews Band at Jones Beach on Long Island.  I know!  I did a cool thing!  I'm still fun!  We even rented a party bus and went early to tailgate, which is where these sandwiches come in.  I wanted to bring something that would be easy to eat yet robust - something to, you know, stand up to all the adult beverages we brought.  These.  Were.  Perfect.  

The "muffuletta" sandwich is usually served on ciabatta or focaccia and consists of various Italian meats, cheeses and a signature olive salad.  You could probably buy a store-bought version of the salad that would work, but for this recipe I made my own and it was totally worth it.  I only wish I had doubled it so I could have leftovers for dipping with crusty bread.  Since it's too hot and humid EVERYWHERE to cook, you should probably make these sandwiches and call it a day.  Joey Tribbiani would be all like this...   
{You can find the recipe HERE.}

I see you, Jimmy.  

You can't hide.  

Flattening the sandwiches.

Party bus ready!

Happen Bakers: Lilah DeBoer


It's time for a new Happen Bakers, and this time I'm featuring my cousin Lilah!

Lilah DeBoer (and some trivia for you: DeBoer is my middle name) is a 12 year-old girl about to enter 7th grade in Olympia, Washington.  Her parents, my cousins Trent and Betsy, are no strangers to cooking and baking.  In fact Lilah's grandmother, my Aunt Pam, has always been a culinary inspiration of mine, and it's evident that Lilah has inherited similar passions from her family.  We live far away, but I've watched her love of baking in particular grow through photos and social media (legit can't remember what life was like before Instagram).  What began as helping her mom pour and stir quickly transformed into Lilah taking over, and just the other day she whipped up some Lemon Rosemary Sandwich Cookies with a mascarpone curd filling like a boss.  A BOSS!  (Do I sound old and nerdy when I say that?  Somewhere my son is rolling his eyes.)

For this Happen Bakers blog, she made a Strawberry Shortcake, and below you can learn a little more about her.  Watching Lilah over the years mature into a young female with strong goals has inspired me.  I hope that she, and all the "Happen Bakers" out there, motivate you as well to continue cultivating your own passions.  Make it happen, ladies!    

Recipe for these Triple Strawberry Shortcakes HERE.  

When did you start baking?

I've been helping my mom in the kitchen since I was three but I started to really get involved when I was seven.  At seven I started cooking on my own and I feel like that's when I got inspired from the cooking show MasterChef Junior which I am hoping to audition for.  When I saw kids around my age making advanced dishes I thought, why can't I try that too?

How did you learn?

I learned from helping my mom and dad and observing how they cooked, then caught on and started to do it myself.  

What do you love most about it?

I love baking for many reasons, but what I find most exciting about it is the finished piece.  After all the hard work in the kitchen it's always amazing to see the final thing and especially eat it!  

What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

One of the most challenging things I've baked is probably my lemon tart.  To make your lemon curd and have your tart crust be on point sometimes is pretty stressful.  I also find that having several things going at once can get me all tied up. 

What's your dream dessert?

My dream dessert is creme brûlée.  I like this dish a lot because it reminds me of family.  I make creme brûlée every time I visit my Grandpa.  We visit mostly during the holidays so I'm always surrounded by my family and friends, making creme brûlée for all.  Another reason why I love it is because of the flavor and the two textures: creamy on the inside and crunchy on the top. 

Name 3 celebrities you'd like to bake with...

1. Christina Tosi because I've seen her on MasterChef Junior and I look up to her as a baker.
2. Gordan Ramsay because I could learn many new skills in the kitchen.
3. Julia Child because she was a trailblazer for women and chefs. 

Most epic kitchen fail?

I made cupcakes from this one recipe and they exploded in the oven and the frosting turned out tasting really bad.  I was so embarrassed to serve them to my parents but now I look back on that day and laugh about it!

Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

The entire La La Land soundtrack, I love the movie and the songs and it just makes me feel even more excited to bake.  

Favorite food site or YouTube channel?

Food Network.  I've found so many amazing recipes from there and they've turned out to be great.  I also like the tiny food videos, I find those fun and interesting to watch!

When you're not baking, you are...

When I'm not baking I'm mainly outdoors hiking or backpacking.  I love to ride horses and have been taking lessons.  I also love to go kayaking with my dog Pella swimming along side me, or sometimes just chilling at home on our deck.  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself finishing up culinary school and ready to open a restaurant of my own.  I also see myself living on my own farm with lots of horses to ride.

Thank you Lilah for inspiring us!  
Stay tuned for a new Happen Bakers next month...


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