Apple Crisp + Mini Apple Crisp Pies

Confession: I am not a big pumpkin spice fan. I think it smells amazing, but I really don’t go nuts for EAT ALL THINGS PUMPKIN SPICE like most of the internet does in fall. For me, it’s all about the apple crisp! I love apples, and the combination of soft baked apples with cinnamon sugar is great on it’s own. But mix that with a topping of oats and brown sugar that is a perfect balance of chewy and crisp – now I’m over the moon. This is the first year where I finally feel like I’ve perfected my apple crisp recipe, so of course I had to share so you can make your own!

Ingredients:

6 apples (this year I used Macintosh and Cortland, but it can be made with whatever is on hand)
roughly 1 tbsp lemon juice
roughly 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cups butter

*Note: This makes a LOT of topping. The crumble is my favorite part, so this will fully cover your apples with a good layer! If you like less, half the ingredients for the topping section!*

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Preheat your oven to 375F. Then start with slicing your apples and removing the skin. I do this by hand, as I broke my all in one corer, peeler, slicer shenanigans, but if you have one of those, use it! So much quicker.

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Place your apples in a 9″ pie pan and squirt with lemon juice (I don’t measure that, hence the ‘roughly’ in the ingredients). Then sprinkle on some cinnamon.

In a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Cut in the butter with two knives. This can be a very tedious step as it takes a bit of time, but you want it to look like a crumble. I switch between kneading the butter in with my hands for a bit, then resuming the cutting together with knives.

Place your crumble on top. I press it all down in the nooks and crannies with my fingers as I love the topping. If you halved it, you should have some apples still showing through.

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Bake for 30 minutes or until your topping is golden brown! Let cool for about 10 minutes, then serve either plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Now, that is delicious, but I wanted to try something a little different just for fun, and it turned out great! Introducing…..

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Mini Apple Crisp Pies!

They are the perfect serving size, either plain or with vanilla ice cream, and you can eat it with your hands (well, maybe not with the ice cream…).

These are so simple to make, with a few minor changes to the original recipe.

First, don’t slice your apples, cut them into 1/2 inch cube(ish) shapes. Mix with lemon juice and cinnamon in a bowl.

Then, take a store bought pie crust (or a homemade one if you’re super ambitious – I was not!) and using a 4″ circle cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.

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Place them in a greased muffin tin, and fill with apples. Top with crumble! A few notes: One (store bought) pie crust makes about seven mini crisp pies. Therefore, I would only use three apples vs. six, and definitely halve the topping ingredients otherwise you will have a ton of apples and crumble left over. Which you could always just make a smaller apple crisp with, so really, it’s up to you!

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Anywho, bake these for about 20 -25 minutes at 375F and you have a perfect little handheld treat!

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And by treat I mean breakfast. Yum.

Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies

It’s no secret that baking is one of my favorite fall activities. I love to bake goodies for people. We celebrated my best friend’s birthday this past weekend, and she absolutely loves my pumpkin spice cookies. So of course I had to make a fresh batch! These pumpkin spice cookies are one of my absolute favorite cookies to bake. They bake up soft (the only way to go if you ask me), and have a perfect balance of sweet between the cookie and icing.

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These cookies always seem extra special to me as I only make them in the fall. I suppose I could make them any time, but they are just such a perfect fall cookie (especially since pumpkin spice is all the rage!). Whip up a batch with the recipe below!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour (I split mine half white flour, half whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar (I cut mine down to 1 1/4 cup – it makes a difference with how sweet the icing is!)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  • In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in egg and vanilla until creamy, then beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  • Add in dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly together.
  • Drop tablespoonfuls onto lined cookie sheets (foil or parchment paper). Bake for 15 – 20 min (I find 16 minutes perfect!).
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make sure they cool completely before icing them.

Icing Ingredients:

2 cups confectioner sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl until a semi-thick icing is formed. Add more milk to thin if necessary.
  • Once cookies are completely cooled, just smear some on with a knife. The icing will harden some on the outside after a bit, but it never gets crunchy-hard – it’s one of my favorite icings for that reason. The perfect texture!

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If you’re not an icing fan, these cookies are just as yummy without icing. I love them plain with a cup of tea. If you are making a plain batch, I highly recommend using the full 1 1/2 cups of sugar so they don’t taste too bland or get a bit overpowered by the spices. Enjoy!

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OmNomNom: Gooey Chocolate & Cream Cheese Cupcakes

One of my goals for September was to bake three new recipes! I love baking, but often feel like I fall into the rut of only baking the same few things. I recently did a giant recipe cleanout, and saved only three baking cookbooks (and of course my personal handwritten one!). At the beginning of the week I had my hubby and our neighbor page through them and mark the recipes they’d like me to try. I love having people to make food for!

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My first recipe pick was from this book. Our neighbor’s birthday was yesterday so I figured it was fitting to make his choice of cupcake!

He selected Gooey Chocolate & Cream Cheese Cupcakes. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with that title.

recipe

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They came out great! I am actually not a huge cream cheese fan in baking (something about sweet cheese just rubs me the wrong way), but these were really tasty. The gooey cream cheese topping isn’t too sweet the way some cream cheese frostings can be, and it went really well with the chocolate cupcake. I think the one thing that could have improved them would have been to remove than from the oven five minutes earlier than I did. The recipe called for 20 – 25 minutes, and at 20 minutes I couldn’t tell if they were done (the toothpick maneuver is out for these particular cupcakes as they are supposed to be gooey in the center!), so I stuck them in for five minutes more. I shouldn’t have. They weren’t overdone by any means, but I think they’d have had a better texture without that last five.

The recipe pic is hard to read, so here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it!

Gooey Chocolate & Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Generous 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
Scant 1/4 cup baking cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup superfine sugar*
4 tbl sunflower oil (I just used veg oil)
3/4 cup water
2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cream cheese (I used neufchatel cheese)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark would be good too)

*You can easily make superfine sugar by putting regular sugar in a food processor for 1 – 2 minutes. That’s how I always make mine.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with liners (the recipe says it makes only twelve, by mine made fourteen so prepare for extra).

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cups of the sugar. Add the oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla, then stir until well combined.

Place the remaining sugar, cream cheese, and egg in large bowl and beat together until well mixed. (Although I usually make things by hand, I definitely recommend using a hand electric mixer for this – beating cream cheese is a pain!) Once well mixed, stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the cake batter into paper liners and top each with a spoonful of cream cheese batter (I filled mine very full as these don’t rise a ton). Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes (definitely 20!). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Enjoy!

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Definitely deliciously decadent. That gooey topping is just so great, especially with the melted chocolate chips in there. So good warm out of the oven!

Lime Mousse Pie with Homemade Blackberry Sauce

I tried out this new recipe (with my own tweaks) for our Fourth of July celebrations, and I am so glad I did! This is a fabulous summer recipe. Firstly, it’s a pie. Hard to go wrong with pie. But the flavor! Sweet and tangy lime mousse, topped with Cool Whip, blackberry sauce, and fresh blackberries is such a great combination that just screams SUMMER!! in my mouth. Yum.

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What you’ll need:

  • A ten inch graham cracker crust (I used a nine inch, and had a huge amount of filling left over, but if you only get a hold of a nine inch, just eat the extra filling. Om. Nom.)

For the mousse:

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbl lime zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 7-8 average sized limes)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 drops green food coloring¬†(optional – I did not add this in)
  • 2 1/2 cups Cool Whip

For the blackberry sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (I used a combo of both)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 lime juice (I did not use fresh for this but the bottled kind instead)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Normally, I would homemake my graham cracker crust, but since I had a lot of food to prep for the weekend’s festivities, I went the easy way and bought mine. Feel free to make your own.

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To make the mousse:

Start by zesting your limes (two limes gave me more than one tablespoon of zest, but I don’t think only one lime would have been enough) and then juice your limes as well. This is the longest, and most tedious part of the process. I actually don’t mind putting in the effort to squeeze out the juice – it gives it such great flavor compared to bottled!

In a medium bowl, mix together the condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and granulated sugar. If you are adding in food coloring, add it in now too. (Quick tangent: I actually added in blue food coloring to mine in an attempt to make it red, white, and blue for the fourth. Yay festive, right? Wrong.¬† I added in EIGHT drops and still ended up with a very greenish teal pie, haha! So I really don’t think you need the added green food coloring – the lime juice makes it nice and light green all on it’s own.)

Once thoroughly combined, cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Next fold in your Cool Whip. Now if you aren’t a Cool Whip fan, feel free to make your own with whipping cream – again, I was just going the easy route here.

Once folded together, gently spoon into the pie crust and chill for at least six hours, though I recommend at least twelve.

To make the blackberry sauce:

*Note – this makes a HUGE amount of this sauce. I still have half a mason jar of it in my fridge! I would say you could easily halve this recipe and have enough for the pie and more.*

In a medium saucepan combine the blackberries, sugar, lime juice, and cornstarch. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly. Cook and stir for two minutes more or until it has thickened a bit.

Press through a fine mesh sieve into a mason jar and discard solids. Cover and chill until serving time!

 

When the pie is ready, serve each slice with a dollop of Cool Whip, drizzle on some blackberry sauce, and top with fresh blackberries. Devour.

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Lemon-Thyme Chicken

Although I am actually not a huge fan of lemon flavored foods, I love this meal. The lemon doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors, and it’s a great combination with thyme. Plus, the lemon smells amazing, and just screams SPRINGTIME!! and FRESHNESS!! while it’s cooking. To me at least.

You will need:

  • 2 -3 cloves garlic
  • 1 – 2 tbl olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cups chicken broth
  • ground thyme
  • salt and pepper

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Start by zesting one lemon.

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Then mince your garlic cloves.

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Combine your olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and 1/2 tsp thyme in a bowl. Mix until combined.

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Place your chicken breast in a pan, and pour in the chicken broth. Pardon my really old, stained, glass pan!

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Then pour on your oil mixture, evenly covering both chicken breasts.

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Sprinkle on some more thyme – I didn’t measure, just a light dusting. Add on salt and pepper.

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Cut your second lemon into four wedges.

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Squeeze the juice evenly over the chicken,

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and then place the wedges in the pan.

Cover with foil, and cook at 375F for about fifty minutes, then uncover and cook for another ten. Serve with your favorite rice, and your veggie of choice! Make sure you drizzle the cooked juices over the rice – it’s heavenly.

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Enjoy!

-Kayly

 

Making Fruit Popsicles

It’s about time for another recipe! Once spring shows up, I am ready for sunshine, and with sunshine comes ice cream. However, since the birth of my daughter, I’ve really started paying attention to what we eat, and looking for alternatives to sweets with all the extra sugar. Enter fruit popsicles. These have been a favorite around here since my miss was old enough to have them. They take some prep time, but they are so worth it!

You’ll need:

  • A food processor
  • Spatula
  • A small sieve/strainer and spoon
  • Paring knife
  • Fruit
  • Any additional flavorings (I used chocolate sauce, peanut butter, and Nutella)
  • Popsicle molds/forms

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Gather all your fruit. I used strawberries, raspberries, and bananas for mine – all the house faves!

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I made the raspberries first. Put a bunch in the food processor – I didn’t measure, but I’d say I used about 1 Cup worth.

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Since mine were frozen, I had to stop and scrape the edges several times, and I added in a bit of hot water to thaw them as they processed, and made a puree.

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Now, the tedious part. Sieving out the seeds. I put scoopfuls of the raspberry puree into the sieve, and mashed it all around with a spoon repeatedly until only seeds were left. It takes time, but is so worth it to have lovely smooth popsicles.

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Then I poured it into my popsicle molds. I made one just plain raspberry, then filled the other halfway so I could mix it with strawberry.

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Then I started on strawberries! After taking off the stems, toss them in the food processor until you get a puree.

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Then sieve just like the raspberries. For the strawberry, I filled the rest of the half-raspberry to make a mixed berry pop, and filled another empty halfway to make strawberry-banana.

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For the rest, I mixed it with some chocolate sauce to make a chocolate-strawberry pop – YUM!

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Onto bananas, which seemed so easy since there are no seeds to sieve out! Just puree and go. Banana is my favorite, so I made the most variety.

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From top left, clockwise: Banana-chocolate-peanut butter, strawberry banana, banana-chocolate, and banana-Nutella.

And there you have it! Toss in the freezer for a few hours, or overnight as we did, and you have a delicious not-too-sweet treat. We use all natural peanut butter, so there is no added sugar there. The chocolate syrup does have sugar, but since I homemake that too (click here for the recipe I use!) at least there is no HFCS!

The best part is, my little thinks we are having ice cream popsicles, and thinks it’s the biggest treat to just have one in the afternoon. She watches me make them, but any frozen treat to her is ‘ice cream’ so that’s a bonus!

I hope you enjoy some – let me know what fruit combos you use! I have yet to try kiwi, but I think it could be delicious!

-Kayly

Strawberry Fields Salad Wrap

I rarely post ‘regular’ food recipes here. Baked goods, absolutely. I love to bake. And I love to eat what I bake. But as for normal food? Regular cooking or food prep? That I do out of necessity, not out of any love for it. However, the recipe I’m sharing today is one of my all time favorites for lunch or dinner. Inspired by a salad I had back when I was waiting tables in college, it is incredibly easy, incredibly delicious yet healthy, and not wildly expensive. All good things in my book!

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Start with one wrap. I use Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas for the health boost, but you can use any wrap you like. Gluten free or just avoiding carbs? Skip the wrap and eat this as a salad – I do that when I forget to buy wraps! It’s just as delicious.

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Lay down a bed of greens (at least 1 cups worth). I prefer this with baby spinach, but my three year old miss has gone on an anti-spinach phase lately, so we do green leafy lettuce which she will devour.

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Then slice up some strawberries on top. Generally, I only use two. Three if they’re small, but two usually covers it.

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Next up is chicken. I keep grilled chicken breast in my fridge as a household staple, so I just cut up some chunks of that and add it in.

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A smattering of dried cranberries is up next – very few; probably only a 1/2 tablespoon at most.

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Then a sprinkling of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Again, no more than a 1/2 tablespoon; I definitely think I use less.

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Top it off with a very small drizzling of balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I use very little; it adds a delicious tang to the sweet strawberries and cranberries, but I don’t like a lot of it.

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Wrap it up, and devour! This has been my go-to lunch for months. It throws together in five minutes, and is absolutely scrumptious. Enjoy!

-Kayly

White Hot Chocolate

Despite it being March, and spring is now really right around the corner, here in New Hampshire we are stuck in the low teens and single degree weather, with more snow on the way. As much as I love my state, by the end of winter I am so ready to pack up and move to the tropics. But I must persevere! To help alleviate my end-of-winter blues, I decided to try out one of my favorite things – have a go at a new delicious recipe!

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Now I love hot chocolate, and I’m a classic milk chocolate girl all the way, but my hubs has been jonesing for some white hot chocolate as of late. Rather than drop $3 per cup at Dunkin Donuts, I figured I may as well make my own. Apparently the fates agreed. About three days after we had the white hot chocolate conversation,I stumbled upon this post from Ella Claire Inspired¬† for Vanilla Bean White Hot Chocolate. Perfection!

Due to ingredient availability, I changed mine slightly from the original, so definitely click the link above to view the original recipe. Below is my version!

Ingredients:

6 cups whole milk
1 tbl pure vanilla extract
One 14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 squares Ghiradelli White Baking Chocolate, chopped

Combine milk, vanilla, and condensed milk in a pan on medium heat. Stir together as it heats and remove from heat once steaming. Add in white chocolate, stirring constantly until fully melted.

Pour and enjoy!

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My hubs was a happy camper. I topped his with whipped cream and some shaved white chocolate for extra decadence!

I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but this was really good! Sweet, that’s for sure, but so creamy and delicious.

This yields a lot. I ended up storing it in mason jars in the fridge. That way when you reheat it (which needs to be done in a pan – the microwave heats too unevenly and can burn the chocolate) you can pour it right back into the mason jar and drink up! I’m always for less dishes to wash.

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Enjoy,
Kayly

The New Year Beckons

What a fun holiday season! As you can see, I’m a bit behind on my holiday baking post. But better late than never yes?! I can’t believe I’m sitting on the doorstep of 2014. Part of me is really ready for the new year with new goals and new projects, but part of me is like WAIT! SLOW DOWN!! If the new year is here that means I actually have to start DOING those goals and projects. And I don’t quite feel ready. But I’ll get there.

Now, without further ado, here are the recipes (and photos) of my holiday baking gifts.

First up, Peanut Butter Blossoms. I whipped up a (huge) batch of these for friends and a couple events we went to in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I only ever have these at Christmas time, so even though they could be an any-time cookie, I always think of them as a holiday cookie!

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Get the recipe here!

This peanut butter cookie recipe spreads out quite a bit, so don’t smush your rolled dough balls too much with a fork. I love this recipe however as it makes wonderfully soft chewy cookies (my favorite!).

Next I made two batches of Peanut Butter Buckeyes. Apparently I was in a chocolate peanut butter mood for my treats this year!

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Get the recipe here!

These are a little messy when it comes to the chocolate dipping part (either that or it’s just ME who is a little lot messy) but they are so tasty. I have a lot of little candy boxes left over from doing the farmers market years ago and these tucked perfectly in there to give as gifts.

Every year I make a Chocolate Mousse Pie for my best friends mother. She adores it. I also made one for Thanksgiving this year and it was a hit.

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Get the recipe here!

I love this pie. It is the most decadent, rich, smooth, chocolatey thing I eat all year. Just heavenly.

I tried out a new bread recipe and whipped up some Honey Spice Bread to go with the Apple Butter I canned earlier this year. This was the only recipe I tried this year that wasn’t my own!

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Get the recipe here.

If I’m being 100% honest, I wasn’t over the moon for this bread recipe. I found it REALLY dry. It had great flavor, but the texture was too dry and crumbly for my taste. But with some apple butter and a cup of tea it was just perfect!

And lastly, I whipped up two batches of the Lemon Bar Brownies (from my previous baking post). One batch for my mum, and one for my mother in law.

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Get the recipe here.

Compared to last year, this was a relatively small holiday baking session for me. But I loved it. It was so nice not to feel swamped with baking and be able to enjoy each treat I made for people. See you in 2014!

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December Baking: Week 1

The first week of December’s baking was for my husband’s birthday. We didn’t have a huge party, just some friends over to play games. My husband is a big Magic the Gathering enthusiast – he goes every Friday for Friday Night Magic at our local comic shop, competes in some tournaments throughout the year, and is currently studying to become an official judge!

This year he requested a carrot cake – my first time ever making one! I consider myself a good baker; I can make a mean cupcake, and frost it prettily, but I haven’t actually made a layer cake since I was in high school. Which is almost 10 years ago. . .so I was a bit intimidated.

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But overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out! The cakes themselves seemed a little flatter than I was expecting, but once they were frosted it made for quite a decent sized cake. As for the decorating job. . .well, let’s just say it was made with more love than skill! The writing is legible (first time piping lettering!) so that’s a bonus!

Best of all, this cake was DELICIOUS. I got some recipe advice from friends, and had a couple people tell me that the Betty Crocker cake and frosting recipes were excellent. They were right! I’m not even a huge cream cheese frosting fan but this one was fantastic! I highly recommend it.

Click here for the recipe!

I also made a batch of Lemon Bar Brownies. Back when I was doing the farmer’s market, these were a best seller. I sold out of them every week. I think it’s the combo of fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh lemon zest that knocks these out of the park. It gives them such a great balance of sweet and tang. And their consistency is really good – so dense and moist.

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Click here for the recipe!

And finally, I baked my hubs a birthday surprise – Magic the Gathering cookies!! For those who don’t know much about MTG, these are the symbols of different types of cards in the game. My hubby loves iced sugar cookies so when I was browsing Pinterest ages ago and saw these, I immediately pinned them to make for his birthday! Go check out the original cookie post via Not Your Momma’s Cookie, which most certainly puts my cookies to shame. She has so many awesome cookies ideas; I’m sure I’ll use more in the future.

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The cookies weren’t actually that hard to make, just time consuming. And let me tell you, piping on designs with icing is NOT the same as drawing with a pencil! But they came out decently (other than two bloopers that I very unfortunately forgot to take pictures of before eating) so I will definitely make these again in the future!

Click here for the sugar cookie recipe, and here for the icing recipe!

Our gaming get together was good fun as always. I sat out on the Magic playing and got some drawing done, but definitely joined in for some Acension and Lords of Waterdeep (my current favorite board game).

Phew! Week 1 of baking accomplished. . .just in time to start Week 2 of baking! Stay tuned for Vanilla Cupcakes, Chocolate Cupcakes, Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, and Dinosaur Cookies.

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