Thursday, January 30, 2020

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

On the last day of my vacation in California, I baked some cookies and a Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Cake. I love lemon anything and I wanted my family to have something to enjoy after breakfast. I never feel well on the day I fly back home as I do not enjoy being a plane and my stomach is in knots. However, I did enjoy my warm slice of this crumb cake, and highly recommend the recipe from I Am Baker (link below). The combination of the fresh lemony taste with the creamy cream cheese layer and the crumb topping is so amazing. Lemon lovers this is a great recipe to try. I omitted the glaze as I did not want it to be so sweet but you can add it if you wish.

Lemon cream cheese crumb cake just taken out of the oven

Crumble Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed

3/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

Crumble Directions
In a medium size bowl, use a pastry cutter, processor, fork, or your hands, and incorporate the butter, flour and sugar; set aside.

The butter should end up in small pieces the size of a pea.

My slice of warm lemon cream cheese crumb cake - so good!

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

8 ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature

Cream Cheese Directions
Using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy; about 1 minute. Set aside.

Yummy slice!

Cake Ingredients
2 cups All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

3/4 cup Granulated Sugar

2 tablespoons Lemon Zest

1/3 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

2 Large Eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup Milk

Adding the cream cheese mixture

Cake Directions
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Heat oven to 325°F.

Grease/flour a 9-inch square pan; set aside.

Using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy; about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and combine.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Cream cheese layer spread all on top of the cake batter

Add the milk and lemon juice and mix until combined.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

Pour cake batter into prepared square cake pan.

Using a spatula spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter covering it completely.

Crumb topping added over the cream cheese layer

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the cream cheese mixture covering it completely.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Oven temperatures vary. I checked my cake at 40 minutes and adjusted the time accordingly.

Check cake by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean the cake is done. My cake baked in 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let it cool for 1/2 hour before serving.

For the Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake visit, I Am Baker:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

On New Year's Day, I baked a Lemon Meringue Pie for my father-in-law. Every time we visit our family in California, I make this for him. This is the recipe his Mom made him and it is his favorite dessert. I used Marie Callender's Pastry Pie Shell as it bakes up really well and is a time saver. I do not use a lot of the meringue on top of the lemon filling as my father-in-law just likes a little bit. The lemon filling is the real star in this recipe. If you want more meringue just double the recipe.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pie Crust

1 Marie Callender's Pastry Pie Shell

Heat oven to 400°F.

Thaw the frozen pie shell for 10 minutes.

Using the tines of a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the pie shell.

Bake for 12-15 minutes; until browned.

Let the pie shell cool completely before filling; about 30-40 minutes.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Pie Filling

1 Jello Brand Cook & Serve Lemon Pudding Mix

3/4 cup Sugar

3 Egg Yolks, beaten (Reserve the Egg Whites for the Meringue)

3 cups Water

Dad's slice

It is so yummy. This pie was gone quick.

In a medium size saucepan on low heat, combine with a spatula the Lemon Pudding Mix, sugar, 1/2 cup water and egg yolks.

Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups water.

Increase heat to medium.

Bring to a full boil stirring constantly. It will thicken quickly so keep an eye on it.

Cool for 5 minutes, then stir and after 5 minutes, stir once more.

Pour the lemon filling into the pastry pie shell.

Marie Callender's Pie Shell ready to bake

Lemon Jello Cook and Serve


3 Egg Whites

1/3 cup Sugar

1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Heat oven to 350°F.

Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy.

Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form.

Making the lemon filling

Lemon filling cooking
Lemon filling is cooked

Add the cream of tartar and mix for 15-20 seconds.

Immediately spread the meringue over filling.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until meringue has browned on top.

Cool at room temperature and place in the fridge to set for 4-5 hours.

To make Pie Crust from scratch, I recommend Ina Garten's recipe:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Wednesday, January 29, 2020



While visiting family in California during the Christmas holiday, I not only made Snickerdoodle Banana Bread but also Snickerdoodles. I first baked these cookies in 2014 for Allen since I was given his Grandmother Anita's handwritten recipe. My entire family enjoyed them and said they tasted just like the ones she used to bake. Snickerdoodles have pretty crackly tops that are covered in cinnamon-sugar. It is one of my favorite cookies to bake. Give Snickerdoodles a try if you have never baked them before. I think you will love them as much as my family and I do.


Yield: About 2 Dozen Cookies

2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar

2 Large Eggs


Dough ready to roll in cinnamon-sugar

Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture
2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar

2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Rolled and ready to bake

Here they are out of the oven

Using a handheld or stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar; about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.

Scrape sides of bowl and mix again for 10 seconds.

With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

25 cookies cooling


Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon form a ball of dough.

One by one, roll in the cinnamon-sugar and repeat until done.

Place dough balls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Snickerdoodles, close-up


The cookies will puff up, but then flatten out and when they begin to crack, they are done.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

See my Snickerdoodles post from 2014:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Snickerdoodle Banana Bread

Snickerdoodle Banana Bread

When Allen and I were on vacation in California one of the first things I baked was Snickerdoodle Banana Bread. I have to say it was so yummy and the aroma while this baked was divine. I love cinnamon and use it in my baking whenever possible. I used pecans, since that is what we had at the cabin but walnuts are traditionally used. You can use any nut you like or leave them out if you cannot eat them. The cinnamon-sugar topping compliments the banana bread, and the crunch of the nuts take it over the top. I did not have 2 loaf size pans at the cabin, so I used 2 9-inch round cake pans and they worked out great. Sometimes you just need to improvise when baking away from home. I enjoyed a slice (or two) with coffee and watched from the dining area, the lovely trees outside and some stellar jays eat bird seeds. I hope you give this recipe a try.

Yummy banana bread

Bread Ingredients
4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tablespoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 tablespoons Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Salt

4 Ripe Bananas, mashed

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/3 cup Milk

2 cups Granulated Sugar

4 Large Eggs

1 cup Walnuts (or pecans or any nut or leave out), chopped

Banana bread

Topping Ingredients
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, mashed bananas with a fork; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

My slice of banana bread
Grease 2 loaf pans or 2 9-inch round cake pans and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the tops of the pans. Reserve the rest to sprinkle over the tops of the batter.

Using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until incorporated; about 1 minute.

Add the milk and mix together.

Add the eggs and the mashed bananas, and mix until incorporated.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Using a spatula fold in the pecans, or walnuts, etc. (if desired).


Pour evenly into loaf or cake pans.

Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check at the 40 minute mark. Ovens vary and my bananr bread baked in 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in pans for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Snickerdoodle Banana Bread recipe, visit Shugary Sweets:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Red Velvet Snowball Cake

Red Velvet Snowball Cake

While Allen and I were on vacation visiting our family in California, I took advantage of my time off and baked whenever possible. I think red velvet cake is the perfect cake for the Christmas holiday, and adding coconut over the cream cheese frosting gives it a snowy-winter look. I originally made red velvet snowball cake back in 2011 after finding the recipe in Redbook, and made it several times since (see link below). This time around I used a different recipe for red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting from a few years ago that I made for Allen on Valentine's Day. The crumb on this cake is so tender and moist. The combo of buttermilk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and cocoa powder make this a divine red velvet cake. The cream cheese frosting is so creamy and yummy. If you love red velvet cake, you really need to make this recipe.

Red Velvet Snowball Cake

My slice of Red Velvet Snowball Cake

3 cups Cake Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

2 cups Granulated Sugar

1 cup Vegetable Oil

4 large Eggs, separated

1 and 1/2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Distilled White Vinegar

AmeriColor Gel Paste Food Color, Super Red

1 cup Buttermilk

1 package Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Red Velvet Snowball Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened

4 cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

2-3 tablespoons Whole Milk

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Red Velvet Snowball Cake

Heat oven to 350°F.

Spray cake pans or lightly butter/flour 2, 9" cake pans; set aside.

Separate eggs: yolks in one bowl, and egg whites in another bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until smooth and creamy; about 1 minute.

Add sugar and beat on high speed; about 2 minutes.

Such a pretty cake for Christmas

Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds.

Add vegetable oil and beat on high for 2 minutes.

Add egg yolks, and vanilla extract and combine on medium speed just until incorporated.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 5-10 seconds.

On low speed, add the distilled white vinegar, and super red gel paste food color (add a little at a time until you reach desired color).

Yummy Red Velvet Snowball Cake

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk until incorporated.

Whisk or beat egg whites until thick and foamy for about 2-3 minutes, and then fold into the cake batter with spatula until incorporated.

Pour batter into cake pans, 2/3 full.

Bake for 30-32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake baked in 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in pans for 30 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Snowball Cake
While the cake is cooling make the cream cheese frosting.

On medium speed using a hand held or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth; about 2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 2 minutes.

On high speed, add the vanilla extract and 1 more tablespoon of milk if needed to thin out, and beat on high for 1 minute.

Such a great tasting cake; it was devoured really fast

Place first cake layer on cake stand or plate, and cover with cream cheese frosting.

Spread the coconut flakes over the cream cheese frosting.

Add the second cake layer on top and frost the cake.

Add coconut flakes on top of the frosting covering it completely.

Cake batter ready for the oven

Place the cake in fridge to set.

Cover and remove 1/2 hour from fridge before serving so it comes to room temperature.

Store cake up to 5 days covered in the fridge.

For the Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe visit, Sally's Baking Addiction:

For the Red Velvet Snowball Cake recipe visit: Redbook:


-Sophia/Two Frys

Saturday, January 18, 2020

California Christmas Vacation

California Christmas Vacation

It was so great visiting our family in California for the Christmas holiday. We spent over two weeks out there and stayed in my sister-in-law Kristen's cabin in North Fork, CA for 8 days. North Fork is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and is the geographic center of the state of California. The cabin was so beautiful and relaxing and my second stay in a cabin. The first was in Twin Lakes, CA in the Eastern Sierra and I could seriously get used to this kind of life. Allen and I had the best sleep ever as it was so peaceful and quiet. Every morning we had lots of deer, turkeys and birds outside the cabin just steps from the entrance. We had a real 13-foot pine tree that Kristen picked out before we got there and we celebrated Christmas together. The pine smell was divine and it was fun decorating the tree. I got to read, bake (see forthcoming posts) and just enjoy my vacation away from home. We indulged in much needed rest on this trip, and spent quality time with family. We were not able to see all of our family and friends, but spent time with as many as possible. Here are pics of some of our grub. Enjoy!

The day before we headed out to the cabin, my father-in-law Cleo took us to In-N-Out Burger while we were out finding a gift for a special someone, my mother-in-law Laurlee. I refer to them from here on as Mom and Dad. This place is a must visit for burger lovers like me! The server was so friendly and I love coming here.

Allen always going for the peppers!

In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out staff working their magic

My burger and fries

Burger close-up

Fries close-up
We also try to go to Jack in the Box when we visit, and this was my spicy chicken sandwich I ate for lunch one day. Yum!

Spicy chicken sandwich from Jack in the Box
One rainy day we went out shopping and brought back 2 Papa Murphy's pizzas to bake at the cabin. We got a Cowboy and Hawaiian, and I made a salad.

Pizza, salad, and my cow tree decoration gift from Mom

Yummy Papa Murphy's
Mom made a hearty and rich beef stew for dinner one night.

Slow cooker Beef Stew
On Christmas Eve, we went to service at The Little Church in the Pines in nearby Bass Lake. It was a beautiful service.

The Little Church in the Pines

My candle burns bright
 We had a great Christmas day dinner at the cabin, and invited neighbor/friend Mike to join us.

I set the table

Enjoying a great dinner together on Christmas day! 

Allen baked the ham


Allen made the asparagus


Allen made the stuffing

Kristen baked the sweet potatoes in the wood burning stove

Mom made corn casserole
The day after Christmas we enjoyed a pot roast and veggies dinner. After the veggies were roasted and the other one steamed, Kristen plated them all. The veggies looked so pretty and were yummy. The pot roast was going to go in the slow cooker but it did not fit so she had to cut it in half. That did not work out so she ended up baking it in the oven. It was so moist and delish.

Mom made pot roast in the oven; it was too big for the slow cooker

Pot roast

Kristen and I prepared the roasted veggies

Allen roasted tri-color potatoes and carrots

Tri-color roasted potatoes, carrots, and steamed broccoli, cauliflower and green beans
On one afternoon, Dad, Mike, Allen and I went to Chuckchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, CA. We ate at the California Market Buffet and played a few slots. The buffet had a vast selection with cuisines ranging from Mongolian, Mexican, Italian, and more, but my favorite section was the desserts (see pics below). It was a fun afternoon!


Mike and Sophia

Gingerbread house

Another gingerbread house and desserts

Desserts galore

My coconut cream pie and crème brulee
We drove up towards Whiskey Falls but did not have chains on the tires so we did not get very far. It was cool seeing some snow though. The roads were a bit icy the further we drove so we turned back for safety reasons.

Yay some snow!
After our brief drive in the snow, we went to Casa Velasco in Bass Lake for dinner. We love this place!

Allen and me ready for some yummy Mexican food!

Sis Kristen with her yummy food

The best chips and salsa

Allen enjoying  a chip with salsa

Allen trying all the hot sauce on our table with his food

Allen's pulled pork burrito grande

Tapatio to go with Allen's pulled pork burrito grande

My ground beef burrito sans the cheese

Left to right: Sophia, Allen, Kristen

Sunset on the way back to North Fork. Big fire around here and many trees were destroyed
When we got back to Allen's hometown, we visited with our friend Mike one afternoon and went to Anita's Mexican Restaurant. I was feeling under the weather so I ordered the chicken soup with veggies, and it was magically delish and comforting. Mike got some tacos, and Allen a super burrito and Green Chile relleno. It was so great to catch up with Mike.

Allen and Mike

Allen's pulled chicken super burrito

Allen's Green Chile relleno

My chicken soup with veggies - so good to the last drop!
Mom and Day took us to Country Waffles for lunch one day. I ended up with leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Huge portions. Yum!

My The Joe Scramble: ground beef, onions, mushrooms, spinach, potatoes, scrambled 
eggs (hold the Monterey jack cheese)

My biscuits; shared one with Dad

Allen holding up a favorite: Palo Alto Fire Fighters Habanero Pepper Sauce

Allen's Scramble and Tapatio
One night Allen made Scrimp Scampi and Mom made the rice.

Shrimp Scampi

Rice Mom cooked
There were 2 nights of grilling steak on Allen's new grill.

Allen grilled some steaks


Salad I made

Sweet potatoes and sliced avocado

One day Dad took Allen and me to Sweet Tomatoes in Pleasanton, CA for lunch, and we were surprised to see Kristen there with her friends. She was coming over later in the day but that was a funny coincidence. The food offered is buffet style and consists of a large salad selection, various soups, pizza and desserts. It is yummy.

Sweet Tomatoes
Allen made lunch plans with his friend Bill and we were so happy to finally meet his wife, Tia. We went to Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in Dublin, CA. This is a restaurant featuring hot pot dining and a first for all of us. It was a great experience and the food was delicious. Hot pot dining is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and is a great way to share a communal dining experience with your family and/or friends. For the soup base, one side was chicken and the other spicy. We also ordered beef skewers, steamed dumplings, and rice. The tea was tasty and calming, and a perfect compliment to our meal. The food cooks real fast in the steaming hot liquid and it was fun. I will definitely go back there.

Allen and me at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Bill and Tia at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

The 2 soup bases - guess which one is the spicy side

Thinly sliced meat, tofu, veggies, and seafood to cook in the soup bases

A lovely selection

Beef skewers

Tea, rice, water

My soup bowl which I kept adding to as things were cooked

Nice buddha art and restaurant decor
One of our last stops on vacation was to El Pollo Loco for dinner. I love this place! This place is casual dining and offers great rotisserie chicken, salads, and plenty of sides.

Allen's meal and sauce selection

Allen's Tapatio Fries; I stole one and it was delish

My food: rotisserie thigh and leg, black beans, and mexican rice topped with pico de gallo and avocado sauce
Here are some pics of the cabin. I love this place and was fortunate to be able to share this time with family.

The cabin and the lovely Christmas tree
Love this house decoration

Deer decoration Mom gave Allen

Sophia and Allen, Christmas Day
Kristen, Christmas Day

Dad, Christmas Day with a present from Kristen

Mom, Christmas Day with a present from Dad

Awesome wood burning stove
View from the back deck

Beautiful nature

Amazing view from the back deck

Turkeys out the kitchen window

I see some turkeys outside

Deer just outside; pic taken from inside the cabin. 
The turkey going for the bird feeder on the back deck
Stellar Jay on the tiny snow pile left from previous snow; Kristen would put bird seed on it
I hope you enjoyed some of our vacation photos.

-Sophia and Allen