bake and listen

Tapioca, anyone?  

In my experience, folks either love tapioca pudding or severely dislike it - something about the texture. But to me, that gooey, chewy pearl is a delight in my mouth. (I also love boba tea.) So it's something I make regularly from scratch (it's a far cry from the store-bought!), especially when I have extra milk to use up. Also, it's a dessert I've always loved that's also gluten free! Yippee! So here is the basic recipe for Fluffy Tapioca Pudding (from the Kraft Minute Tapioca Box), and then I will share with you my modifications. 

Fluffy Tapioca Cream 

3 Tbsp. MINUTE Tapioca 

 2 cups milk 

 1 egg, separated 

 6 Tbsp. sugar, divided 

 1 tsp. vanilla 

1. Combine tapioca, milk, egg yolk and 3 Tbsp. sugar in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 min. 

2. Meanwhile, beat egg white in small bowl with mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating constantly until soft peaks form. 

3. Bring to full boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly stir egg white mixture into hot tapioca in saucepan until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Cool 20 min. Stir before serving.

My modification is that I almost ALWAYS make a double batch - because with 2 or 3 tapioca pudding lovers, you can polish off a double recipe in 2 days - but that's my family! Lol. The other thing I do, because I love the ultra fluffiness and goodness of egg whites, is double the egg whites (so if you're following me, double batch plus double egg whites is 4 whites for the win! But I'll spell it out for you in the ingredients below. :) The last modification is taking some of the sugar out, because most American sweets recipes are ultra-sweet. 9 tablespoons was just barely enough last time I tried it, so I would recommend 10 or 11, depending on your sugar-loving level. One more thing! As a shortcut, I put the milk in a large glass measuring cup in the microwave for about 7 minutes (less if you are doing a single recipe), and that GREATLY speeds up the process of getting the milk mixture to boil. 

Jen's Fluffy Tapioca Cream

 6 Tbsp. MINUTE Tapioca  

 4 cups milk  

 2 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, separated  

 9-12 Tbsp. sugar, divided  

 2 tsp. vanilla  

1. Combine tapioca, milk, egg yolk and 6 Tbsp. sugar in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 min.  (Speed method is to add only a tiny bit of milk to this mixture and put the rest in the microwave to warm.)

2. Meanwhile, beat egg white in mixing bowl with mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating constantly until hard (another mod! The original says soft peaks, but I've always loved hard peaks in this pudding) peaks form.  

3. Bring to full boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Fold egg white mixture into hot tapioca in saucepan until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Cool 20 min (who can wait 20 minutes?). Stir before serving.

There you have it! If you want a nice light treat for those nights of gift wrapping by the fire, or just want to enjoy something different, try my fluffy tapioca cream! You'll be glad you made a double batch! 

(Why not pair with red wine?!)

Caaaaarramel Corn 

Justin Kauflin
"Maybe This Year," my original Christmas song

Not sure what to bake for your kids’ teachers, coworkers, or others for whom you would like to give a small gift? Search no more. Our family’s caramel corn recipe is the perfect solution. 

I remember many a holiday night boiling the caramel, baking, and stirring batch after batch of caramel corn, because that was the gift we would give to all our friends and teachers every Christmas. (We also used to make peanut brittle, but I haven’t made that in a long time). 

This stuff will melt in your mouth, while maintaining a salty-sweet crunch….and it is oh, so addictive. Most things I can make myself resist at some point, but this one is especially hard. Hence why it is largely reserved for the holidays, because who doesn’t need to gain an extra few pounds? Bwahahahaha. Trust me, though, the moment your taste buds sing it will be worth it, and you can give small amounts to everyone else and they will love it, and keep a portion for yourself. I won’t tell if you won’t. 

Mom and I made it a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving, since most of my family came here, so I snapped photos of our process….I enjoyed my fair share while we were making it (hey, I ran a 10K Thanksgiving morning!), and then watched once we joined up with the rest of the family as literally the entire remaining 6 quart tray steadily diminished throughout the afternoon and evening. What can I say? A winner is a winner! 

Baked Caramel Corn 

6 qt popped corn (this can be done on the stove or in an air popper) 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter 

2 cups packed brown sugar 

1/2 cup corn syrup (aka Karo) 

1 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp vanilla 

This recipe easily doubles. When making for a large group or to parcel out for gifts, we usually double it. Just make sure your pot is large, because the baking soda and vanilla will cause the mixture to puff up. 

Melt butter in large pot; stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda, then vanilla. Gradually pour over popped corn, mixing well. (This will sink and stick to the bottom of your tins/pan, so make sure you scrape it up and cover the popcorn as best you can.) 

Bake in 250º oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15. Remove from oven; cool complete and break apart. Serve and enjoy!















Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, homemade caramel corn! 

This week I'm pairing it with Justin Kauflin's new Christmas albumChristmas Candy. It is absolutely delightful - his precision, harmony, and voicing are exquisite, and this solo jazz piano album will melt your soul just like this caramel corn will. 

While you're at it, check out my original Christmas song "Maybe This Year," a song about finding real love...perhaps this year under the Christmas tree.  

Merry Christmas to all!!  :) 

Black Tie Mousse Cake  

I hardly ever bake "gourmet," because of the time involved and the practicality of spending hours making something that will subsequently get devoured. But, my daughter asked for a Black Tie Mousse Cake (like Olive Garden's) for her birthday, and how could I say no? We'll do almost anything for our kids. I was a little apprehensive, because it's a four-layer cake with ganache and even piping - a chocolate cake layer, chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, the chocolate ganache, chocolate chips on the outside, white chocolate drizzle, and ganache piping, and I don't make recipes this complicated very often! I followed the directions carefully - and was very pleased with how it turned out! 

Listen: Kicked

Here is the recipe I used:


And here are pictures from my process:

The first 3 layers

Starting to spread the chocolate ganache

Full top spread of the ganache

Chocolate chips on the outside

White chocolate drizzle

Finally, the ganache piping!

Today's music selection is my song Kicked, which is about perseverance, haha. 

The cake was a hit! Everyone, kids and adults, loved it, and only two small pieces were left. 

Pumpkin Banana Bread 

Spotify Playlist  <<<  Listen here while you bake!
iTunes Playlist  <<<

So I just made my own pumpkin banana bread, and it is SLAMMIN’! I’ve made Better Homes and Gardens’ banana bread for a long time (with a few of my own modifications, and it works well with Gluten Free flour, too. My kids love it!) Today I only had 2 ripe bananas (it calls for 3), but I had pumpkin pack in the fridge, so I pulled it out and substituted, and viola! Delicious, delicious, delicious! I’m a sucker for a moist dessert, and also love everything fall and pumpkin, so this hit all my “yes” spots. I almost always add mini chocolate chips to my banana bread; it gives it that extra little dessert feeling. The recipe calls for nuts, so you can definitely put those in, too, or instead, if you’re feeling a little nutty. 

Without further ado….. 


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

   (I use America’s Test Kitchen’s GF flour blend

1 1/2 tsp baking powder 

1/2 tsp baking soda 

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 

1/8 tsp salt 

1 egg 

2 ripe, mashed bananas 

1/2 cup pumpkin puree 

1/2 cup sugar 

1/4 cup cooking oil 

scant 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or nuts 


1.  Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients (sans sugar), stirring well. 

2.  In a mixing bowl, beat the egg, bananas, pumpkin, sugar, and cooking oil together. Slowly add the dry mixture, stirring until just moistened. 

3.  Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350º or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes (if you can hold yourself back!), serve and enjoy!


Spotify Playlist or iTunes Playlist for Baking and Chilling Out