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Ten Favorite Recipes from Willow Bird Baking This Year

I just moved to a new apartment, and my new kitchen is filled with boxes, boxes, boxes! A new recipe is coming your way soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d tide you over with some of my absolute favorite recipes so far in 2012. This is a hard post to write, and not just because I don’t have an internet connection at my new apartment yet.

(Did I mention that, by the way? To some of us, not having an internet connection sounds kind of like not having oxygen, but I’m actually enjoying the radio silence. My evenings are spent reading with little Byrd beside me. Nevertheless, I’ve missed quite enough important email, thank you very much. The internet will be installed next week.)

The real reason this post is hard to write, though, is because it’s so hard to narrow my favorite recipes down to just ten! In fact, I started out intending to pick my favorite ten recipes of all time — and quickly realized that was crazy talk. There’s been a lot of internal debate just to narrow it down to ten from this year.

If a recipe is sitting here in this post, it means for all sorts of reasons — a combination of taste, preparation fun/ease, and overall appeal — it left a huge impression on me. These would be perfect recipes for a special occasion, a sweet family breakfast, or to impress that new gal/guy you’re talking to. Or to eat on the couch while watching Honey Boo Boo (oh COME ON, you know you’ve seen it! I can’t decide if I’m morally opposed to watching it or not — it seems exploitative, right? — but it sucked me in.)

Without further ado (or further Honey Boo Boo),and in no particular order, here are my favorite recipes so far this year. What are some of YOUR favorite Willow Bird Baking recipes?

1. Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Coconut Cake & Coconut Whipped Cream
2. Sweet Orange Florentines
3. Gooey Chocolate Skillet Cake Ice Cream Sundae
4. Chocolate & Coconut Cream Pie Bars


5. Pumpkin Oat Snack Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing (especially when served as an ice cream sundae!)
6. Pork Bulgogi Bāozi (Steamed Korean BBQ Buns)
7. Tres Leches Coconut Cake Trifle
8. Gooey Butter Strawberry Shortcake


9. No-Bake Fruity Cereal Treat Cupfakes
10. Buttery Coconut & Almond Morning Buns


Byrd Wishes You a Happy Christmas!

Byrd and I want to wish you a very Happy Christmas!

I am grateful for family, friends, and a new year full of memories. But even these wonderful things aren’t the reason we celebrate tomorrow. This is:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

This passage is a sign to you as well — over 2,000 years after Jesus’s miraculous birth. He didn’t come for a certain group of people. His birth was a great joy for all the people. And that includes you!

If you’ve never begun a relationship with the Savior born in the city of David that night and if you feel He may be calling you to do so now, don’t wait. Go straight to Him just as the shepherds did. Please feel free to send me a note with any questions you may have — or even if you’re not sure quite what to ask.

In the meantime, happy Christmas to one and all!

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Thanks a Million

Willow Bird Baking just hit 1,000,000 all-time views. Typing something to you just didn’t feel like enough. Instead, I got out my sharpie-of-a-regrettable-color and wrote you a letter.

…A letter that you kind of have to be sideways to read. Okay, so I didn’t think through all the details. What can I say — I was filled with emotion!

Basically: Each and every comment, each and every visit, each and every kitchen triumph you’ve shared with me and with your families — each one has meant so much to me. Thank you so, so much.

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Willow Bird Weekly

Each week I bookmark tons of fascinating recipes, trek to interesting food-related places, find neat kitchen tricks, and make unique little dishes. Willow Bird Weekly is a miscellany of stuff I’ve collected throughout the week that I hope you’ll find entertaining.

Stuff I Can’t Wait to Make:

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pies on Bakers Royale
Banana Dream Cake on The Novice Chef (have I mentioned how much I love banana baked goods? Oh goodness.)
Oreo Brownies on My Baking Addiction
French Toasted Angel Food Cake by Sprinkle Bakes


French Toasted Angel Food Cake, photo by Heather

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies & Ice Cream Sandwiches by Buns In My Oven
Lemon Yogurt and Cherry Cake by The Boy Who Bakes
Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread by Confessions of a Foodie Bride


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread, photo by Shawnda

Stuff I Already Made:

For Katie’s birthday, I made my first vegan chocolate cake. It looked awful, but I promise it tasted great.


Photo by Katie

I used this recipe for the cake, and about 10 minutes into baking, I put a whole dark chocolate bar on top to bake into the cake. That turned out to be a good move, because it created a layer of chocolate goo — yum!

I used this recipe for icing, which ended up way more soupy than I expected. I added more confectioners’ sugar and some shortening in an attempt to improve the texture, but it still flowed down the cake like flippin’ lava. I used the Post Punk Kitchen directions, which called for melting the Earth Balance, and I wouldn’t recommend that. Next time, I’ll just soften it and use it at room temperature. At least it tasted good — especially with tons of toasted coconut on top.

Places I Went and Stuff I Ate:

This week was full of fun. I went to Katie’s cupcakes and cocktails birthday party, where I ate her fantastic vegan, gluten-free cupcakes and drank lots of sparkly pink lemonade. Katie writes Sweet Tater Blog, which is comprised of lots of cat hilarity, awesome healthy food, and great writing — you should definitely go see.


Highlights: Cat-in-a bag and Cupcakes

This is a little sneak peek of another fun thing I did this week, but I’m going to keep you waiting another couple of days to hear about it:


Why do I think it’s cute to make that face? HAHA.

Other fun food times this week:


clockwise from top left: personal trifle with leftover vegan frosting + berries + frozen cake, strawberry and pistachio cakes from Cakes ‘N Flakes, takeout from my favorite Tex-Mex chain, On the Border, and a baby breakfast burrito from visiting the Roots Farm Food truck with Vanessa.

Stuff That Rocks:

I got two awesome emails this week from readers who made gorgeous WBB treats! Becky won 3rd place in a BBQ Dessert competition with her cheesecake, and Susan made a patriotic Strawberry Cream Pie for the 4th of July.



Becky’s cheesecake (top) and Susan’s Strawberry Cream Pie

Another thing that rocks is all of the organizing I’m doing around my apartment. Turns out that if you want to clean your house, watching Hoarders is excellent inspiration. Within hours of watching a few shows, I had a huge box ready to donate and several trash bags full of things to be thrown away.

One of my favorite organizing tricks is my new “spice rack.” I saw this idea somewhere and finally got around to trying it — and it cleared up so much space in my kitchen:


That’s a shoe organizer that I bought for $6!

I love that I can see all of the spices available instead of digging through jars in a dark cabinet (hopefully this means no more buying duplicates!), and they’re all readily accessible. In addition to organizing my spices, I bought a $13 bookshelf to organize my extra books and threw away a lot of stale and out-of-date food lurking in the back of my pantry.

Be sure to share your organization tips with me in the comments this week; I’m on a roll! I’m even contemplating cleaning out my vacuum cleaner. We’ll see . . .

What fantastic recipes have you discovered online this week? What fun food experiences have you had? And what organizing tricks do you use around your house?

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Willow Bird Weekly

Each week I bookmark tons of fascinating recipes, trek to interesting food-related places, find neat kitchen tricks, and make unique little dishes. Willow Bird Weekly is a miscellany of stuff I’ve collected throughout the week that I hope you’ll find entertaining.

Stuff I Can’t Wait to Make:

Red, White, and Blue Macaroni and Cheese on Taylor Takes a Taste
Sour Cream Custard Brioche (Gâteau à la Crème Fraîche) on Not Quite Nigella
Fourth of July Fruit Pops by Bakers Royale


Fourth of July Fruit Pops, photo by Naomi

Melted Ice Cream Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Bloomin’ Onion Bread by Buns In My Oven


Bloomin’ Onion Bread, photo by Karly

Places I Went and Stuff I Ate:

The Charlotte Food Bloggers had their first weeknight meeting this week at one of the 987,945,2532 local frozen yogurt (a.k.a. froyo) joints that now exist in Charlotte. We went to TCBY, which is pretty old school, but they’ve revitalized their restaurants to be hip and self-serve (with lotsa toppings) to match the new trend.

I was going to forgo the froyo because I usually try not to eat much sugar during the week, but I checked out the nutrition stats on the TCBY website and they were surprisingly reasonable. A half cup of their froyo generally has about 100-120 calories and 15-20 grams soluble carbohydrates. I got about 1/2 cup of no sugar added strawberry froyo topped with strawberries, raspberries, and mochi. It was tasty, and only $3.50.

The Food Blogsters and I had lots of fun talking about how awesome Tom Colicchio is, how not-awesome some other unnamed TV personalities are, and how one might go about getting a date with Cam Newton. Fun times!

Stuff That Rocks:

Barbara over at Barbara Bakes was craving hot dogs, so she did what any rational human being would do and made bacon-wrapped cheese hot dogs.


Bacon Wrapped Cheese Hot Dogs, photo by Barbara

I just have two words for you, Barbara, from me and everyone else heading into this summer holiday weekend: thank you.

You know what else rocks? MY TURTLE. My friend Erin pointed out that Byrd has shown up on WBB a few times now, but Squirt hasn’t made an appearance yet. Well, here’s Byrd’s handsome older brother, Squirt. He’s a 6-7 year old Red Eared Slider and he lives in a 140-gallon tank in my dining room. Love this little guy!


“I AM smiling.”

But also, Byrd is cute. And she loves flowers.

Another thing that rocks is that my lovely friend Jordan from Kitchen Karate just opened a new online shop, I’m With Cupcake! It has lots of adorable items, and from July 2 to 3, you can use the promo code willowbirdbaking to get 10% off a purchase of $30 or more before taxes and shipping. You can only use the promo code once per purchase and it can’t be combined with any other offer.

Congratulations on the grand opening, Jordan!


And Then There’s This:


[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sSK_iW6P8Q]

What fantastic recipes have you discovered online this week? What fun food experiences have you had? What ridiculous ways do you procrastinate?

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