Plum Torte

Or, Sugar Plum Fairy Cake as Leah called it. This is without doubt the most amazing result for the least effort! A quick cake batter that rises beautifully around the plums and your whole house smells like the closing days of summer with those purple plums and cinnamon in the oven.

All those little crevices hold delicious Italian plums!
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 (ish) plums, pitted and quartered
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • cinnamon (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp depending on your love of cinnamon)
  • raw sugar (again depending on how much crunch you want)

Heat oven to 350. Prepare a 9 inch springform pan, by lightly spraying with cooking spray, or if like me, you don’t have one that size just use a 9 inch cake pan lined with parchment.

Cream butter & sugar together until light yellow and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is again light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir just until combined.

Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Lay your quartered plums around the top.

Sprinkle first with lemon juice, then sprinkle cinnamon over. I didn’t even measure – just sprinkled until it looked good to me. Lastly, sprinkle raw sugar over top, covering all areas, but not so much you can’t see plums! (Of course you could use granulated sugar, but I love the extra crunch of raw sugar).

Bake about 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and remove from pan.

This would probably work equally well with any stone fruit, but I’ve only tried it with plums. Let me know if you do try it with another fruit.

This recipe comes from smitten kitchen.com and Deb Perelman claims that it tastes even better the next day, but we certainly didn’t let that happen …..

Look at how many plums are on there, yet the batter rose up above and hid them all!
Ready for the oven, you can see the raw sugar on top, but still see all the fruit as well as the batter.

Dan Dan Mian Noodles

There is something so comforting about a bowl of noodles. I’ve got a fabulous recipe for Tan Tan noodles on here, but this is slightly different – and an entire meal in one bowl. Get as adventurous as you like with the add ins.

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth (use veg broth if you want to make this vegetarian)
  • 8 ounces egg noodles (Chinese style), rice noodles or Udon noodles
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3-4 baby bok choy
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 – 1 pound ground meat (I used pork but chicken would work well too)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped (I used crimini but that is what was available, use whatever you can find)
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Garnish suggestions

  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • green onions, slivered
  • fresh bean sprouts

Typically, Dan Dan Mian is a spicy dish ….. however I’m not so good with extra spicy food. To make it more authentic, drizzle with chili oil when you are ready to serve. You can either buy one and have it to dress up many dishes, or make a quick, easy one that lives in the fridge for ages.

Chili Oil

Heat skillet over med heat – add:

  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

Cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is fragrant – be careful not to burn it! Remove from heat and transfer to heat safe bowl or glass jar.

I got this recipe originally from http://www.halfbakedharvest.com – only tweaked it a bit for personal preferences. The chili oil is entirely hers.

Combine soy sauce, hoisin, black bean sauce, honey, vinegar, peanut butter & tahini. Stir well until smooth and creamy. (If the peanut butter and tahini are really cold it helps to heat up the mixture slightly). Add 1/3 cup water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook whatever noodles you have decided to use. Drain well and set aside.

In the same pot, add a little neutral oil and saute the onion, green onion, garlic and ginger until soft and fragrant. Add in 1/2 of your soy sauce mixture. Stir to completely mix it all in and heat up the sauce slightly. Add broth and bring just to a simmer.

In a shallow fry or sauce pan heat up a little neutral oil and add the ground meat. Allow to sit without stirring for a few minutes to help with carmelizing the meat. When mostly cooked, add the mushrooms and shallot. Cook until the mushrooms give up their moisture, and the pan dries out again. Add in the remaining soy sauce mixture. Stir to coat well. Allow the mixture to continue cooking until crispy bits appear. This is an important step as it adds a lot of texture as well as flavour to the finished dish.

Bring the pot of broth back to a higher heat and add in whatever vegetables you have decided to use. Make sure to add them in the right order so your don’t end up with limp veg – nothing sadder. I used bok chow and as soon as they were wilted but still crisp, I turned the heat off and added the spinach and bean sprouts.

Ladle noodles into the bowl and add your broth with vegetables. Scoop a generous amount of the meat mixture over top and garnish with the suggestions listed.

Turning this dish into a vegetarian meal would be so easy – omit the ground meat and use extra mushrooms in that step. Make sure to add extra fresh veg to make it a full meal.

Absolutely delicious!

Make sure to simmer until the meat & mushrooms dry out a bit, getting those lovely little bits of caramelization that add so much flavour and texture.

Add vegetables – as many as you want.

I like to keep fresh vegetables FRESH. I only add the spinach and bean sprouts when I remove it from the heat.

Serve with scallion pancakes for a total win!

Sourdough Pita

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Just look at those puffs!  I’m obviously a foodie weirdo given how exciting it is.

What??  Still with the sourdough posts?  I am still learning how versatile my sourdough can be, and these sourdough pitas were absolutely the best.  For the first time, with all my attempts at pita that puffed up beautifully – this recipe gave me a fantastic result. 8 pita, with 7 of them puffing up like a balloon and the 8th puffing up partially.

 

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 240 ml) warm water
  • 2 3/4 cups (13.75 oz, 385g) bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 25g) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz, 14g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, or in a large mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, and 1 ½ cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  2. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. Add the olive oil, sugar and salt then mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, add the remaining flour. Mix until the dough begins to clean the bottom of the bowl and form a ball around the hook. If mixing by hand add flour until you can no longer stir, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface to finish by hand. Knead 5 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
  3. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature.
  4. After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You’re basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast.
  5. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes the dough should be ready.  By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature.
  6. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight (see note). Remove the bowl from the refrigerator in the morning and allow the dough to come to room temperature.
  7. Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone place it in the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, place a baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven to preheat. If you have a dark colored baking sheet use that. A dark pan will absorb heat better than a light-colored pan, so the bread will bake faster and puff better.
  8. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Use a rolling pin to roll two pitas to ¼” thick and 7”-8” around. If the dough springs back too much let it rest for 5 minutes and continue rolling.
  9. Immediately place the rounds on the preheated baking stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake until they are puffed and the bottom is nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes. You don’t need to flip the bread. Remove the baked breads and wrap in a clean kitchen towel while you continue rolling and baking the pitas.
  10. The pitas are best the day they are made, but they also freeze very well.

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I did prep the night before, and this little ball of soft goodness sat on the counter for a couple of hours before retiring to the fridge for the night.

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Look at those delicate little air bubbles …… just what I was I was looking for.

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I think the secret to getting a puff is to not overwork the dough.  This amount of dough makes 8 pitas, roll each out to about 7″ and you will get the right thickness.

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I could have danced around the kitchen when I saw this puff!

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Steaming in the towel is part of the whole process.  The pita will collapse and stay ever so soft.

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This sourdough pita recipe came from baking-sense.com and if you want more information on how to create the perfect pita, just hop on over to that site.  I love how detailed their explanations are, complete with photos from every step.

Korean Kimchi Noodles

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Don’t you just love a noodle dish that is as versatile as whatever you have in your fridge or garden??  This is just what you need.  

NOODLES

  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup coloured bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered cabbage
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, diced fine (if you absolutely love kimchi go ahead and use more!)
  • 1/2 cup snap peas, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 Pound fresh noodles

GARNISH

  • Scallion, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Korean Chile Flake, Cilantro and Egg for Garnish

SAUCE

  • 1/4 Cup Gochujang paste
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar 
  • 1 tsp natural sugar
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package instructions. Strain the noodles and rinse well. Drain and set aside.
  3. Prepare the kimchi & vegetables and stir fry until almost cooked, then add in the bean sprouts – remove from pan and set aside.  Add bit of oil to the pan,  stir in the pork and cook 2 minutes. Add in the sauce, reserved vegetables and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in the noodles. Stir well to mix and coat.
  4. Serve with garnishes to taste.

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These are the assorted vegetables I had on hand today, and with the sauce it was delicious.  This makes a full meal in one if you pack in enough vegetables along with a little protein (if you are so inclined).  It certainly doesn’t have to be ground pork.  Today I had a wee bit of ground pork in the freezer so I used that along with some shrimp, (chopped up) but it could just as easily be any ground meat or tofu.

 

Korean Kimchi Fritters

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I am really not certain about how authentically Korean these fritters (Pajeon – pancakes??) are, but anything with kimchi & bound together with some potato starch is a step in the right direction.

We loved the way this entire bunch of vegetables was quickly tied together in a very light batter that puffed up and was still so delicate.  Don’t miss out on the dipping sauce – its the perfect accompaniment.

PANCAKES/FRITTERS

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup potato starch (or 1/4 cup each white rice flour and cornstarch)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup ice water
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped kimchi
  • 4 cups finely chopped or grated mixed vegetables (carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, kale, whatever you’ve got)
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch-long sections and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil, plus more as needed

DIPPING SAUCE

(highly recommend doubling it if you like dipping as much as we do)

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or garlic (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of granulated sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, potato starch, salt and baking powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine water, egg and kimchi. Whisk kimchi mixture into flour mixture, and whisk until smooth. Fold in vegetables and about three-quarters of the scallions. (Save the rest for garnish.)
  3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Scoop 1/4 cup portions of batter into the skillet, as many as will fit while not touching, flatten, and fry until dark golden on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to fry until other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with a little more salt. Continue with remaining batter.
  4. Before serving, make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, ginger or garlic (if using), sesame oil and sugar. Sprinkle sliced scallion over pancakes, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

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When you start with a big bowl full of these colourful vegetables you just know it is going to be delicious!  Today I used zucchini, orange bell peppers, red onion and the leafy parts of Gai lan.

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don’t overcrowd your pan – these fritters need some room to crisp up and not steam

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These were so good I can’t wait to make them again!

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I served the fritters with Korean Gojuchang noodles, and while it was all finger licking delicious, the colours and textures just cried for something green and crunchy – maybe lightly stir fried broccoli?  Strange given that this whole meal is so vegetable forward, but I really wanted something light and crunchy to go with it all. Next time.

I found this recipe on NYT cooking, and couldn’t wait to try it.  The fritters are as versatile as the vegetables found in your garden or fridge.  I love the way red onions cook up, so used those in place of scallions in today’s effort.

 

Sourdough pancakes

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Still looking for ways to use that sourdough starter or discard you created during this Covid-19 pandemic?  These pancakes are ideal!  You get that sourdough tang along with the fluffiest pancakes.  If you love buttermilk pancakes these will be a hit.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (or discard from your fridge)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (any kind will do)
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp butter or light oil of your choice

Whisk all the dry ingredients together, then add in the wet.  I used a separate bowl to mix the wet just to get the egg incorporated but you certainly don’t have to.

Mix batter together just until it the dry ingredients are absorbed.  Don’t overmix or your pancakes won’t be as tender as they could be.

Use a little cooking spray or butter on your hot griddle and pour 1/2 cup batter on for each pancake.  Flip when the air bubbles have popped (about 1-2 minutes) and then flip over for another 1-2 minutes, just until lightly browned on the second side.

Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze for easy week day breakfasts!

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This is from 1 1/2 times the recipe ….. a big batch of pancakes!

The BEST meatballs!

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When you request spaghetti and meatballs at Nana’s house you better be prepared to make the meatballs!  Stella loves to, and we all agreed that they were the absolute best meatballs ever.  In fact, I had a hard time keeping enough left in the sauce to have dinner.  Tasters kept appearing in my kitchen …..

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This shows a double recipe, all measured exactly to what Stella feels is the perfect meatball size …. 38 grams.  If you aren’t in a hurry your kids are great at this!

  • 1 pound ground meat (I like a combo of beef and pork)
  • 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk, any kind
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more to serve
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, plus more to serve
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, divided
  • Red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Place meat, crumbs, milk, parsley, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs, and one-third of your minced garlic in a large bowl, and mash everything together with a fork or potato masher until evenly mixed. Using wet hands if needed, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs and arrange on prepared tray. Roast for 12 minutes, until cooked through (you can cut one in half).

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Ground beef and pork well mixed and ready for forming.

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Making sure each meatball is 38 grams takes time …..

Stella's meatballs

Almost 7 now, Stella likes to do it all, even if Nana’s freaking (quietly!) while she puts stuff in or takes it out of the oven.

From this point you can serve them however you like – we like them simmered in a tomato sauce just until heated through.  They are so soft and tender with just the right amount of seasoning.  I always make enough to freeze half for another dinner, for us that means doubling this recipe.

This recipe came from the amazing Deb at smitten kitchen.com, and she also lists her easy tomato sauce for simmering  … if you haven’t been to her website, or read any of her cookbooks, make sure you do!  Always delicious, and manageable for doing with kid helpers.

Perfect & Quick Yeast Loaf

Sloan and Stella requested garlic bread to go with spaghetti and meatballs, and I can’t blame them.  With no intentions of running to town, I looked up a recipe for a quick, easy yeast bread that didn’t require over night resting and this one was just perfect.

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This one recipe makes two loaves, enjoy one for dinner tonight and treat someone to the other!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups warm water not over 110°F
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • cornmeal or flour for dusting
  • boiling water

Instructions

  • In a large bowl mix together the yeast, sugar, salt and water. Let this stand until the yeast is dissolved. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time to the liquid and mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy, but don’t give up!)
  • Knead It: Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl with a few drops of olive oil (preferred) or non stick baking spray. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Let It Rise: Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
  • Shape it: Punch down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.

Bake it:

  • Lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and lightly brush or spray them with cold water.
  • Place an aluminum roasting pan on the bottom of the oven. Fill 1″ deep with boiling water. Slide loaves onto baking stone* in a cold oven. Bake at 400°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Alternate method:

  • For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500°F for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  • * If you don’t have a baking stone, you are welcome to try using a flat cookie sheet. Please note your bread will not have as nice of a crisp crust.

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Any project is better when you’ve got Stella helping!

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A nice crumb, and not too crusty, this bread is ideal for when you haven’t planned it out early in the day or with sourdough, the day before!

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Toasted up, Sloan thought it was delicious dipped in her soft boiled eggs the next morning.

 

I found this on a site called gatherforbread.com and it fit the bill perfectly for deciding I wanted a French style bread the same day I needed it!  No overnight resting and so quick and easy to make, the results made it seem like I had worked a lot harder!  While not a true French or Italian loaf, it is similar and we thought it was just as good for toasting the next day.

Stella’s Quick Icing

Stella woke up with a desire to make a small layer cake. Takes after her Nana?? 🤣 She quickly put together my yellow cake with some leftover chocolate buttercream icing. The cake batter however was more than we needed for her layers so out came the donut pans.

We also had some blood oranges so she whipped up this quick icing glaze – and instructed me to get it on the blog!

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of one blood orange

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Stir together until you have a somewhat thick glaze. Dip your donuts in and allow to set. If you want a thicker coating allow the first one to dry a bit, and then dip again.

Yum, says Stella.

 

Strawberry Shortcake

This is my favourite basic white cake recipe.  It is quick and easy to do – light, fluffy, and tastes great.  In the spring it is the perfect way to make strawberry shortcake for any occasion.

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CAKE

1 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup butter (soft)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.  If you want to make a 9 x 13 cake, or a layer cake, double this recipe.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk until batter is smooth.

Scoop batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch, and a toothpick or tester comes out clean.

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This might just be sweet little Stella’s first whipped cream beater to lick …. but shhhh – don’t tell anyone, Mom and Dad are away!

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5 YEARS LATER – Stella is just as sweet, but now she’s serving up the desserts!