Since I stopped teaching, I also am amazed at how much time I spend in the kitchen "piddling" around with food. Sometimes I do that instead of cleaning or weeding, so maybe it is just a place to escape what I really should be doing.
I have picked up a few kitchen techniques while "piddling" and cooking. For one thing, I use more silicone ware than most folks I know. I do not remember the last time I baked cookies on a bare cookie sheet. My silicone sheet pad is easy to use and to clean. The cupcake cups and muffin pan are also real scrubbing savers. And I hate paper cupcake cups, so that solves that. My silicone cake pan is great, but I have only one of those! The red loaf pans are the "bomb." Couldn't do without them. So I am a silicone baker, to say the least(or most.)
Yes, baking is sometimes more fun than ordinary cooking. And I am always looking for new baking ideas. A couple of weeks ago, I added a box of chocolate pudding mix to a red velvet cake mix. The result was very good, so last week I added a box of vanilla pudding mix to a butter cake mix. The result was a better vanilla taste and a bit denser. Not quite like pound cake, but better. I baked it in a long loaf pan until I was sure that the middle was done. That was a little beyond the baking time on the box, but I used a wooden toothpick to check the doneness. Even my "I don't like American cakes" hub liked this cake. And he didn't even choose to add icing to his piece.
My next cake endeavor will be to add pistachio pudding mix to a cake mix. I haven't decided which one yet. So far I have just added the dry pudding mix and kept the same boxed cake mix ingredients. No extra anything else! I notice on the Internet that bakers suggest adding extra eggs, etc., but for the time being I am sticking with just adding the dry pudding. I will keep you informed of my next cake bake-off.
No recipes from Just Plain Cooking today. The adding pudding was my one cake secret! Rumor has it that you should not add dry pudding to a boxed cake mix that already has pudding in it.