Category Archives: review

Apple Bundt Cake

Apple Bundt Cake

Oh, hi!

Thank you for all the well wishes and concerned messages. I’m feeling much, much better as the week progresses. So good, in fact, that I warmed up the house with the smell of baking apples last night. Both the warmth and the smell were amazing on a cold winter night!

I had a random can of apple pie filling in my cupboard that I wanted to use up, and after a little internet searching, found a recipe on the Lucky Leaf website. I used the low-sugar version of the apple pie filling and we skipped the glaze, but the cake was still delicious, especially with a warm with a cup of coffee!

Sugar Dusted Apple Bundt Cake (Lucky Leaf)

Lucky Leaf’s printable version of this recipe


  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (for pan prep)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (for pan prep)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 21-ounce can LUCKY LEAF® Premium Apple Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or bundt cake pan.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle bottom and sides of pan.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 cups sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla; mix well. Add LUCKY LEAF Premium Apple Pie Filling and stir. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Invert onto serving plate and cool. Drizzle with citrus glaze if desired.

Optional Glaze:
In a medium bowl, beat 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon orange juice for 1 minute or until smooth. Add additional orange juice by the teaspoon if needed for desired consistency.


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Cherry Cheezecake

Vegan Cherry Cheezecake

Yesterday was my daughter’s 17th birthday.  For her annual birthday dessert, she had a hankering for cheesecake.

When she was a little girl, she had a lot of issues with lactose. Over the years, she acclimated and did just fine with a variety of dairy. Unfortunately, over the last year or so, the lactose intolerance has re-asserted itself.

Lactaid works great for minimum dairy intake, but for things like pizza or cheesecake? Not so much.

So, no lactose and a request for cheesecake?

Thanks to Google and a simple vegan recipe found on …absolutely!

I altered several things, based on both what my daughter was hoping for, as well as my previous experience making cheesecake.

My notes are in italics.

Vegan Cherry Cheezecake

(original recipe from


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used a package of chocolate Newman-Os with the filling removed)
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup (I used agave syrup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Press into a 9 inch pie tin (I used a springform pan). Bake for 5 minutes.

Before preheating oven prepare a 9″ springform pan by lining the sides and bottom with parchment paper and then covering the bottom with aluminum foil. 

  • 1 (8 ounce) package firm silken tofu
  • 1 (8 ounce) container nondairy cream cheese (I used Toffuti)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (I used Splenda, but I might try Stevia next time)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch ( +1 TBS because I didn’t use confectioners’ sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk (substituted almond milk)
  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling (low-sugar)


In a blender (I used my food processor), combine tofu, vegan cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, and confectioners’ sugar. Dissolve cornstarch in soy milk, and add to the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into crust.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Reduce heat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C), and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until set. (It took an additional 15 minutes for mine to set.)

Cool on a wire rack, and then chill for several hours.

Invert onto a plate, and then invert again onto a serving platter. Pour cherry pie filling over the top, and serve.

If you use a springform pan like I did, you will not need to invert the cheesecake, just remove the outside of the pan and then slide onto a plate. I sliced the entire cheesecake into servings and then added the cherries on top of each piece. The leftover cherries and cheesecake were stored separately in the fridge.

The Verdict

If were to do this again, I’d stick with the graham crackers (maybe chocolate graham crackers!). The cookies had a much stronger flavor that I anticipated which overwhelmed the delicate cheesecake flavor.

Other than the slightly strong flavor of the crust, this was a nice substitute for “real” cheesecake. It had a lovely smooth texture and tasted the way my taste buds expected it to, which is 3/4 of the battle!

I used my food processor, which made quick work of creaming together the ingredients.

I’d definitely try the recipe again, possibly doubling the filling and using it as the base for something similar to the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake that my family loves so much.

I’m on the lookout for more lactose-free recipes. If you have any favorites, please do share!

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Recipe Review – Spice Cookies

Advent Spice Cookies

I love baking and making sweet treats, so much, in fact, that I restrict myself to birthdays and special occasions to keep from eating too many sweets!

Tis the season to make treats and goodies for friends and family. I wanted to try a new cookie recipe and pulled this out of an old favorite church cookbook that I’ve had for about 17 years.

They’re chewy with a bit of crunch, a bit like a gingerbread cookie, but with a bite of cloves. Very yummy!

Spice Cookies

  • 3/4 cup soft shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, dried and ground
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mix shortening, sugar, egg and molasses (I used my stand mixer). Sift together all remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. Chill dough. Shape dough into balls (I used a disher/cookie scoop). Roll balls in granulated sugar, placing 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I make all my cookies on mine!).

Bake 375° for 10 – 12 minutes. Cookies should be set but not hard. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack or clean dish towel. Recipe makes 3-5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of each cookie.

Advent Spice Cookies

Cookie dough, mixed and ready to chill.

Advent Spice Cookies

My handyVollrath disher.

Advent Spice Cookies

Dough balls, rolled in granulated sugar and ready to bake on my silicone baking mat.

Advent Spice Cookies

Fresh out of the oven…yum!

Advent Spice Cookies


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The Christmas Pudding Adventure

Christmas Pudding

I made a Christmas Pudding…for real! The ever awesome Cat Magraith shared a family recipe with me and I’ve saved it up to try. We were too busy getting ready for a trip for me to be able to make this for Christmas, but I did make it for New Year’s. Yum!

Christmas Pudding

Now, I need to know…does it look right?! I have no idea… I’m a girl from Texas, we have pie and candy for Christmas, not pudding.

I will admit, I had to do some internet searching to figure out what boiling the pudding meant. I ended up cooking the pudding in a Pyrex bowl, sealed with parchment paper and aluminum foil, cooked in a double boiler using my dutch oven on the stove top. It was a very improvised rig, but it worked! I got the basic set up idea from this video, though it is not the same recipe.

So…white plates. I’ve had them tucked away for years and years. So, why, do you ask, are they out now?

Well, my sister’s friend’s house burned to the ground a few days after Christmas, so I’m using white plates.

Here’s how that happened… my sister called to see if I had any handmade dishcloths on hand that I could donate to the collection they’re putting together to help her friend get started again. She knows that I tend to have a little stash of them. When she explained the situation;  house burned to the ground, two kids, the pet dog didn’t make it out of the fire, of course I couldn’t just give dishcloths! SO, with the help of my friend Marge, I rounded up two Linus blankets to give the kids, bought some towels and washcloths, Elena donated some stuffed animals and we threw in a few other happy things.

I really want new dishes, and have been thinking about it for a while (just ask bff Jewells, I talked about it a silly amount over Christmas – yes my life is that exciting). We’d been using our not-Fiestaware dishes for about 7 or 8 years, and I’m ready for a change.

hardhatcat's chickpea curry recipe
Here’s an example photo, trying another of Cat’s recipes.

I loved those dishes, but they’re a little past their prime (though very, very usable!) and because I really enjoyed those dishes, so I briefly debated giving away the white ones, but then I thought…their house just burned down, seriously, why should I give them plain white dishes? These people need happy. So I gave them my colorful dishes. And now, we’re using white plates. I don’t mind really, because their need was certainly greater than mine…and I’ll save the white plates for when one of my kids needs them, which with a kid in high school, seems all too close.



Recipe Review: Emergency Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake in a Coffee Mug

I made this from an email recipe that was going around.

It’s called Minute Chocolate Mug Cake, but I like Emergency Chocolate Cake. 😉

I sprayed one coffee mug with cooking spray and it definitely came out better than the rest…less mess in the mug afterward. For best results, eat it while it’s warm. It gets a little too dense after that.

Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

  • 1 Coffee Mug
  • 4 tablespoons AP flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
  • Small splash of vanilla

Chocolate Cake in a Coffee Mug
before baking

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well .. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

Serves 2…or 1, if you don’t mind a bit of a tummy ache!

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Recipe Review: Chocolate Balls

Truffles:  Chocolate Balls

I belong to a fun group of friends over on Live Journal called My Flist Cooks. We post recipes to share with each other. While there aren’t loads of recipes posted on a regular basis, what is posted is usually really tasty!

One of my favorite things about My Flist Cooks is the opportunity to try recipes from friends around the world.  Many of the recipes are family favorites and come highly recommended.  I love knowing that people I know and like enjoyed a recipe enough to post it on MFC.

As a treat for my family, I tried ‘s hardhatcat’s Chocolate Balls from her Truffles post.

Chocolate Balls
by hardhatcat

  • 250g packet plain biscuits, crushed (from Cat:  I crush mine in the blender, but a plastic bag and rolling pin will do the same thing)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 400g tin of condensed milk
  • extra coconut

Add dry ingredients to bowl and blend well.  Add condensed milk and mix well.  roll into balls and roll in extra coconut.  Store in airtight container.

Jen’s notes:

  • I Americanized my batch a bit by using most of a 12 oz box of Vanilla Wafers in place of the plain biscuits.   I did weigh them out so that I had 250g and I’d estimate there were about 10 cookies left in the package when I was done.
  • The sweetened condensed milk I bought came in 396g cans.  I didn’t adjust the recipe for that, but it didn’t seem to hurt anything, on the contrary, they were really moist.
  • I crushed the cookies in my food processor and then added all the ingredients right to the processor.
  • Having killed my last cookie scoop, I used a teaspoon to scoop out the mixture and roll it in coconut. I think it was a little too sticky because they went flat and looked more like cookies than truffles. After some time in the fridge, I was able to roll them into a nice ball shape.  If I make them again, I’ll pop them in the fridge first, and then roll out the balls.

My family LOVED them. They’re super rich and very yummy!  Thanks for sharing the recipe, Cat!

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Recipe Review: Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

The holy grail of soups in my world is Tortilla Soup (yes, capitalized, it’s that important!).  We spent a very brief stint in the 1990s living in Southern California.  The one thing I miss that I have never been able anywhere else is a Tortilla Soup as delicious as the variety I ate at Spoons in Tustin, CA.

I spent years ordering Tortilla Soup from every restaurant that we’ve visited.  I’ve had some really good soups, including a creamy jalapeno tortilla that was eye-water and extremely delicious, but I’ve never found anything to rival Spoons’ recipe.

This is one of the versions I make at home.  It is nothing like the fabled Spoons’ soup, but it’s still pretty darned good.  It takes about five minutes to cook, too, which makes it even better on busy nights with music lessons and such that require the mom taxi to be on call.

Six Can Tortilla Soup

I first came across this recipe on allrecipes, but have since seen it in a number church and community cookbooks (something I collect).  Wherever you find the recipe, it’s really hard to go wrong with!

  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2  (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (I prefer using 1 32 oz carton of organic free-range chicken broth)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken (I typically use leftovers, but this works, too!)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained

Garnish: (not listed in the original recipe)

  • tortilla chips
  • grated cheese (sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack are both excellent)
  • jalapenos (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)

Empty first five ingredients into a large cooking pot.  Allow to simmer a couple of minutes and then ladle into bowls.  Serve topped with garnish.  This makes a fantastic side or starter.  It’s great served with enchiladas, rice, or just by itself!


Tortilla Soup


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Recipe Review: White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

Elena's Birthday Cheesecake

I love trying out recipes and crafts I find online and it just occurred to me that I’ve never shared any of those with you.  Hmm, it’s about time!

If you like cheesecake, but you’ve never made one before, this is a FANTABULOUS recipe to start with.  The recipe includes minutely detailed step-by-step details.  Cheesecakes take a bit of patience and a springform pan.  Follow each and every direction and your cheesecake will come out perfectly.

You’ll find my comments in italics.

I’m trying out using larger photos in my posts.  Let me know if you like that and I’ll keep it up!

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake
clone of a Cheesecake Factory recipe
found at Top Secret Copy Cat Recipes


  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (filling removed) or 20 crumbled Oreo sandwhich cookies (filling removed)
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted I used real butter


  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves I used low-sugar preservses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature use real cream cheese, not lowfat or fatfree or your cheesecake won’t set properly
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs at room temperature
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped into chunks I used white chocolate chips


  • 2 ounces shaved white chocolate (optional) I used white chocolate chips
  • whipped cream (optional) Redi Whip works, too

Before preheating oven: prepare a 9″ springform pan by lining the sides and bottom with parchment paper and then covering the bottom with aluminum foil.  This step comes later in the recipe, but it takes a little bit to get it just right and I found that my oven was on for a silly amount of time while I wrangled with the parchment paper.

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet filled with about 1/2-inch of water into the oven while it preheats.

I used a large Pyrex baking dish.  Whatever you use, test it first to make sure the springform pan fits inside with a little room to spare.

3. This will be your water bath.

4. Combine the raspberry preserves with 1/4 cup water in a medium microwave-safe bowl.

5. Heat for 1 1/2 minutes on high in your microwave.

6. Stir until smooth.

7. Strain to remove the raspberry seeds, and discard seeds.

8. Allow strained preserves to cool, then put the bowl in the refrigerator until later.

9. Measure 1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs OR crush 20 Oreo cookie wafers (with the filling scraped out– in a resealable plastic bag) into a medium bowl.

If using Oreos, you want 20 sandwich cookies or 40 wafers.  Now, what to do with all that Oreo filling?

10. Mix in 1/3 cup melted margarine.

I used real butter.

11. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper.

12. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture flat into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side.

I didn’t do the 2/3 part, ’cause I like my crust just on the bottom.

13. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake in the water bath and prevent it from leaking.

14. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.

15. Use an electric mixer to combine the softened cream cheese with the sugar, room temperature sour cream, and vanilla.

You don’t have to use a stand mixer, but if you have one, it makes the work much easier.  You could also use a large food processor.

16. Mix on the lowest setting for a couple minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy.
17. You don’t want to beat too much air into the mixture, or it will fall and be grainy.

18. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

19. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture.

20. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs.

21. Remove the crust from the freezer and sprinkle 4 ounces of white chocolate chunks onto the bottom of the crust.

I chose to use white chocolate chips.

22. Pour half of the cream cheese filling into the crust.

23. Drizzle the raspberry preserves over the entire surface of the filling.

24. Use a butter knife to swirl the raspberry into the cream cheese.

25. Just a couple passes is fine, you don’t want to blend the raspberry and cream cheese together too much.

26. Pour the other half of the filling into the crust.

27. Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven.

Be very careful here.  By this point, the oven is hot and the water is HOT.  If much of the water evaporates while you’re making the cheesecake, add a more and close the oven for about five minutes before adding your cheescake.

28. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color.

Leave the oven door closed for at least 30 minutes.  The water bath helps keep the humidity in the oven high which will help the cheesecake cook evenly and will help to minimize cracking.

29. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool on a cooling rack.

Again, work carefully.  You’re going to have hot water dripping from the bottom.  I put a towel under my cooling rack for just that reason.

30. When the cheesecake is completely cool, cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to sit overnight.

Don’t be tempted to remove the springform pain for at least a couple of hours.  The cake will shrink as it cools and will pull away from the sides.  As long as you’ve used parchment all the way around, the cake will come out perfectly once it’s cooled.  It can take four hours or more for a cheesecake of this size to cool enough to go in the fridge.  Don’t be tempted to put it in too early, or you’ll end up with condensation all over your cake!

31. Before serving, sprinkle the entire top surface of cheesecake with 2 ounces of shaved white chocolate.

White chocolate chips!

32. To serve, slice the cheesecake into 12 equal portions.

33. Apply a pile of fresh whipped cream to the top of each slice and serve.

I like to add the whipped cream to the individual slices.  Not everyone wants it and it also ensures you have lovely stacked whipped cream and an not oozy deflated whipped cream.

Makes: 12 servings

Optional: if the birthday girl has the flu, put birthday candles in the bottom of a paper plate with holes punched in.

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