Growing up I used to love baking with my mom. I can remember countless days following her around the kitchen watching her prepare dinner, asking if there was anything I could do to help. Baking was something we enjoyed doing together. She always let me ice the cake or put sprinkles on cookies. Even now, on holidays or when we have dinner at my parents' house, you'll find my mom and I chatting in the kitchen as we prepare the meal.
Many of us have a favorite childhood food that immediately evokes a fond memory and a feeling of comfort. Maybe it was your go-to after-school snack or your grandmother's traditional holiday cookie recipe. Even celebrities have their favorites. In fact, Nick Katsoris, author of the children's book series featuring Loukoumi, the fluffy lamb, has gathered the favorite childhood recipes of more than 50 celebrities.
Loukoumi's Celebrity Cookbook (Loukoumi Books; $19.95) follows Loukoumi and her friends, Dean the dog, Marika the monkey and Fistiki the cat as they meet Aunt Cat Cora (yes, a character based on the celebrity chef from Iron Chef on Food Network) who helps them make her childhood favorite dish -- Grandma's Special Cream Cheese Cake. She helps Loukoumi and her friends measure ingredients and prepare the dessert while sharing baking safety tips. The best part? A minimum of $2 from the sale of each book will be donated to Chefs for Humanity and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I am thrilled with this -- anything that gives back to help sick children is just wonderful.
The book begins with a children's book, which I loved, and is then divided into different sections of recipes such as weekend breakfasts, lunchtime favorites, after-school snacks, family meals and desserts. You'll find recipes from Oprah Winfrey, Matt Lauer, Jennifer Aniston, Eli Manning, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, George Stephanopoulos and more.
I thought it would be fun to highlight a recipe from the cookbook to give you a taste of what to expect. Faith Hill, Grammy award-winning entertainer and a mother of two children, grew up with the following recipe, which is a perfect dessert to make with your kids and serve on Mother's Day. "I love this Coca Cola Cake. It is so rich and decadent -- you need to drink a lot milk with it," she said.
Coca Cola Cake
-2 cups unsifted flour
-2 cups sugar
-2 sticks butter
-2 tablespoons cocoa
-1 cup Coca Cola
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
-1/2 cup butter
-3 tablespoons cocoa
-6 tablespoons Coca Cola
-16 ounces confectioners' sugar
To make the cake ...
1. Sift flour and sugar in bowl.
2. Heat butter, cocoa and Coca Cola to boiling point. Pour over flour/sugar mixture.
3. Add buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, vanilla and marshmallows. (Batter will be thin and marshmallows will float to top).
4. Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
To make the icing ...
1. Combine all ingredients and heat until boiling.
2. Pour over cake while hot.