Cranberry Bars


This recipe isn’t Whole 30.  This recipe isn’t Paleo.   This recipe is good, old-fashioned baking and it has cranberries.  Win and win again. This week’s recipes are all courtesy of  Christina Lane at Dessert For Two.  You already know how much I love  Dessert For Two.  I have posted many of her recipes over the years.  Christina Lane is my favorite blogger ever.

What you don’t know is if  I had never come  across Dessert For Two there would be no A Solitary Feast.  It was never my intent to start a food/recipe blog when I started adapting recipes for one or two.  My intent was to adapt some recipes for my friend, Steph, who was moving out on her own for the first time and I wanted to encourage Steph to  cook.

When I gave her the recipes, Steph started telling  me I should start a recipe blog.  I kind of blew her off because 1.  I didn’t really know what a blog was.  2,  I didn’t really think anyone outside my circle of friends and, maybe, my mother would be interested in the recipes.  The idea of recipe blogs intrigued me enough I wanted to  check it out, though.

The very first blog I found was Christina Lane’s Dessert For  Two.  I love to bake as much as I love to cook so I tried her recipes right away.  I fell in love.  I have made dozens of her recipes over the years.  As I watched Dessert For Two bloom and grow, I started thinking there might be some place on the internet for my dinner recipes.  Three months later I posted my first recipe on A Solitary Feast.

Christina is not only my cooking and baking inspiration she also inspires me as a person.   In a world that seems to take pleasure in tearing you down, Christina has taken time to build me up and encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone.  In a world full of negative, she is a bright and shining positive.

Cranberry Bars

From Dessert For Two

6 TBS butter, cold and diced

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 1//2 cups leftover cranberry sauce

1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.  Leave enough parchment paper hanging over the sides to help remove the bars after baking.  In a medium bowl, add the  flour, sugar and salt.   Add the diced butter to the flour.  Using your fingers,  rub the butter into the flour.  You will know when the butter and flour are mixed well when it sticks together when you lightly squeeze it in your fist.  Spread the flour/butter into the bottom of  the prepared pan. Using  your  hands,  press the  crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the  pan.  You want to press relatively  hard  so the flour/ butter  mixture sticks together to form the crust.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, stir the vanilla into  the  leftover cranberry sauce.  When the crust is done baking, spread the cranberry sauce over the crust.  Bake another 20 minutes or until  the crust is golden brown.  Let cool in the  pan before slicing.

Instapot Mini Spaghetti and Meat Sauce


I got my  Insta Pot Lux 3 quart mini on Sunday.  The first thing I made was Christina Lane’s Insta Pot spaghetti and meat sauce.  As  you know,  I don’t usually use store-bought ingredients in my cooking.  However,  I found a Whole 30 compliant marinara sauce i wanted to try for my next Whole 30 so I thought I would use this recipe to try it.

The quality of the sauce really matters in this recipe. I used Rao’s Roasted Garlic Marinara sauce that I bought at Walmart.  For a store-bought sauce, it wasn’t bad.  The store bought sauce made the hardest part of this  recipe deciding if you stirred the raw noodles enough to prevent them from sticking together

This recipe is enough to feed one very hungry person or two normally hungry people with a salad.

Instapot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Small Batch Chicken Broth In A Mini Pressure Cooker (Whole 30)


Calling all mini pressure cooker (3 1/2 quarts or less) owners.  There is finally someone creating pressure cooker recipes just for you.   Christina Lane, of Dessert For Two, is pressure cooking’s newest fan and she is creating small batch recipes for her Instapot mini and sharing them with us.

I really like this recipe because it is almost impossible to find a broth without sugar or soy in it. Why? Why? Why?   The batch makes enough for one reasonably sized batch of soup.

A Small Batch of Chicken Broth In The Pressure Cooker

Yellow Cake


At the end of December I stepped down from my cake decorating position and went back to my old position as a cashier. While I don’t regret my decision, I really miss decorating cakes. I really want to keep improving my skills and trying new ones. I couldn’t see how though. I am single and don’t need a whole cake sitting around tempting me and I can only bring so much cake to my coworkers.

It didn’t take me long to start thinking miniature cakes for one or two, that is what I do after all. The first step was to decide on what size cakes I wanted to do. I decided on 4″, 6″ and 8″ cakes in round and square shapes. I could use my collection of spring form pans for the round cakes and I have 6″ and 8″ square pans already.

The second step was finding some small batch cake recipes to try and use as a template for my recipes. I settled on a recipe from Debby Maugans Nakos’ Cookbook, Small Batch Baking. Her to frost this cake recipe for classic yellow cake made a perfect 4″ round cake. I will be using her recipe to scale all sizes of my cakes.

I know this cake looks like I have never decorated a cake before but I am relearning how to frost a cake with a spatula instead of a scraper and I am still looking for the perfect frosting recipe. The one I used for this cake tastes good but isn’t right for actually creating any frosting designs.

Classic Yellow Cake

1/2 cup flour
3 TBS buttermilk
1/8 tsp baking soda
Yolk of 1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBS butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Place the oven comes rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda; mix well. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and butter; mix well. In another small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; mix well; mix well. Add the buttermilk mixture and combine until just blended. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges of the pan and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

The Dessert for Two Cookbook — A Review

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Contrary to what my mom thinks, I am pretty particular about the cookbooks I buy for my collection. I have a rather strict set of criteria a cookbook must meet before I buy it, the most important being will I actually use it. If it fails to meet two or more of my criteria it stays on the shelf.

I have been looking forward to Christina Lane’s Dessert for Two cookbook since she announced it last summer. I finally got to pick it up a few weeks ago. It meets every one of my criteria and it has the added bonus of being a small batch cookbook. Something I don’t get to see very often and recommend even less.

Here are some of the things I like about Christina’s cookbook.

1. The majority of recipes in her book have not appeared on her blog. There are some recipes like her chocolate chip cookies and her sugar cookies that have appeared on her blog but there are just enough repeats to make the cookbook feel homey and familiar to those of us who have followed her for years. There are more than enough new recipes to make those of us who have followed her for years curl up on the couch with our sticky notes and book mark page after page. Oh, maybe that is just me but I don’t think so.

2. Christina’s desserts use common, easy to find ingredients. I bet you have all or the majority of ingredients for at least some of the recipes in your kitchen right now.

3. Christina’s recipes are 100 percent reliable. I am a fairly competent cook and baker but I have had cookbooks where recipe after recipe I have tried fails and fails spectacularly. If you follow Christina’s clear, concise directions you will always have a great end product.

Just so you know, I have received no compensation of any kind for this review. I am just a big fan of Christina’s blog and book. She has inspired everything I do here on A Solitary Feast. I just wanted to let you all about an awesome blog.