Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays

Hello lovelies,

I hope you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and have a happy new year. I will be taking a short break to enjoy this time with my family. I'll return in the new year a year older and ready to get back to being Imperfect & Fabulous!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Soft and Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you have tried any of my cookies, you know that soft and puffy is how I think cookies should be.  I have long been on a quest to find a chocolate chip cookie that would have the perfect classic flavor, be chock full of delicious chocolate, and go from mixer to oven without days of chilling.  After making these Super Soft and Puffy Snickerdoodles inspiration struck.  I took a basic chocolate chip recipe, adjusted the amount of sugar, bumped up the flour, and added in some cream of tartar and milk just like in the Snickerdoodles.  The results were fantastic!

Start out by creaming together the butter and the sugars.  Once the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, crack in a couple of eggs, a splash of milk, and a little vanilla and beat it all together until well combined.

Add in some flour (I used white whole wheat but all purpose will work too), baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix until well combined.  Mix in a bunch of chocolate chips and you are ready to start scooping.

I made two sizes of cookies with this cookie dough, standard sized cookies for the teachers at Jake's school and "Lauren" sized.  To make standard sized cookies, use a medium cookie scoop and bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes.

For "Lauren" sized cookies, you are going to use an ice cream scoop, yep, an ice cream scoop.  Bake the "Lauren" sized cookies for 11-14 minutes.

Now that is a cookie!  Look at all of those chocolate chips.  These cookies are so soft, so chocolatey, so perfectly delicious. Y-U-M!!!!

Soft & Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 - 4 tbls. milk
  • 1 tbls. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add in eggs, 2 tbls. milk, and vanilla and beat well. 
  4. Add in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix well.  
  5. If the dough seems too dry add an additional 1-2 tbls. milk
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop cookies a few inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden.
  9. **If you want to make regular sized cookies use a cookie scoop instead of an ice cream scoop and bake for 8-9 minutes. 

I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snowman Birthday Banner

Luke's best buddy Calvin recently celebrated his first birthday with a "Winter ONE-derland" theme.  Isn't that such a cute idea!   Since I love crafting and will take pretty much any excuse to use my Silhouette Cameo I helped Calvin's mom make this adorable Snowman Birthday Banner.

To make this banner you will need white cardstock, blue cardstock, scrapbook glue, and ribbon.  I used the Tombow mono scrapbook glue but any brand will do.

I used my Silhouette software to make the snowman outline and cut them out on the blue paper.   Then I used the same outline but added a face and used that with the addition of the letters to make the snowman part.

Once everything was cut out we glued the white snowmen onto the blue bases and we were ready to put the banner together.  I find grosgrain ribbon to be the best choice when making a banner.  It is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the cardstock and since it is textured they don't slide around.  I used grosgrain ribbon on the Superman banner I made last year for Jake's birthday and it was the easy choice here.  We wanted the ribbon to look like the arms of the snowmen so we chose brown like branches.

String the snowmen onto your ribbon and you are ready to hang up your birthday banner.  This banner doesn't take much effort to make, but has a big impact.  It was the perfect backdrop for Calvin's first experience with birthday cake!

If you have a silhouette and want to make your own Snowman Banner, here are the cut files.

I'm linking up with Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies

A while back I found out about these amazing caramel filled chocolate chips.  As you probably know by now, I L-O-V-E caramel so to find an easy way to put caramel into my baked goods was a pretty exciting moment for me.  

I picked up a bag the next time I was at the store, but it took me a while to figure out their inaugural recipe.  After going back and forth I finally decided to make a chocolate turtle cookie.  I started with the same cookie base that I used in my Double Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cookies.  I swapped the peppermint extract for vanilla and changed my mix-ins to make these turtle cookies instead of Creme de Menthe.

This may have been one of my best dessert ideas ever!  These cookies are made in one bowl, there's no refrigerating the dough, they are rich, soft, chewy, and delicious.  What more could you ask for in a cookie?  I made them for the teachers at Jake's school, and I seriously contemplated getting up early that morning to make something else so I could keep these at home. They are that good!

Now that I have you drooling, I'll tell you how you can make them yourself.  Start out by creaming together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until nice and fluffy.  Add in some dark cocoa powder and a little vanilla extract and mix until the cocoa is completely blended in.  Crack in a couple of eggs and mix again. 

We want these cookies to be nice and puffy so add in some baking soda and a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch along with the flour.  I used white whole wheat flour, but all purpose will work just fine.  Mix it in until the dough is completely brown, no unmixed flecks of flour for these delights.  At this point you will have a VERY thick cookie dough.  You can stir in your mix-ins by hand, but I just used my mixer.  I figured that a few of the caramel filled chocolate chips would get broken, but that was okay with me.  I did give it a few final stirs with my spoonula to make sure all of the mix-ins were incorporated.

Use a cookie scoop to portion out your cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  I baked two cookie sheets at a time so I rotated them half way through the cooking time.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to the cooling rack to finish cooling.  These Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies are delicious fresh and warm from the oven, look at that melting chocolate.

They are just as good the next day.  I can't speak to how they are after that because I foolishly gave them away and only saved a few for us.  My guess is that you won't find out how they are after more than a day either but if you do, I think they will still be soft and delicious. 

If I had been serving these in a single layer on a cookie tray I might have drizzled a little caramel over the top because I can never get enough caramel, but they really don't need anything else.  These photos do not do them justice.  The dark chocolate cookies with the melty semi-sweet chocolate chips, crunchy pecan pieces, and sweet, rich caramel filled chocolate chips combine to create the perfect cookie.  

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cookies
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 heaping tbls. cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 package Toll House DelightFulls caramel filled chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix until the cocoa is completely blended in.
  4. Crack in both eggs and mix again until well incorporated.
  5. Add baking soda, cornstarch, and flour and mix until the dough is completely brown with no white showing from the flour.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips, pecan pieces, and caramel DelightFulls.
  7. Use a cookie scoop to put on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 8 minutes.
  8. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

I don't know about you, but I love a good seasonal cocktail.  We recently hosted both Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving and I wanted to have a festive cocktail so after some googling and brainstorming I decided on this Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail.  I haven't really had bourbon before but it seemed like the right seasonal choice, and it was a winner.

This cocktail is super easy to make and is perfect for parties because you make it as a big batch, not one by one.  This means you are free to mingle with your guests instead of playing bartender, score!

Start out the night before you're planning to serve by combining some bourbon with cinnamon sticks, a few shakes of allspice, and some freshly grated nutmeg.  I'm sure this would be good with the pre-ground nutmeg too.  That being said, the whole nutmeg is just as easy to buy, and if you have a microplane only takes a few seconds to grate and smells so wonderful!

Right before you plan to serve this delicious cocktail, combine the spiced bourbon with some sparkling apple cider.  That's it.  Some bourbon, some spices, and some sparkling cider.  This cocktail is easily doubled, halved, basically it can accommodate whatever size group you are serving.

The spices and the bourbon are seasonal and warming and the sparkling cider makes it extra festive.  This Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail is the perfect cocktail for any of your holiday get togethers or just a night in.

Spiced Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • a few shakes of ground allspice
  • half of a whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1 1/2 - 2 bottles sparkling cider
  1. Combine bourbon and spices and let steep overnight.
  2. Right before serving, add sparkling cider to bourbon and stir.  Pour into glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired.

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet BellaroosPin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

A few weeks ago we went to a potluck at a friends house, and I signed up to bring a dessert because they are my favorite thing to make.  I had been ruminating on the idea of a trifle with brownies and Nutter Butters for a while, but every time I went to make one it was just too hot to turn the oven on to make brownies.  We finally had a cool enough day so I decided to turn my little idea into reality.  This Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle turned out even better than I had imagined!  There were a bunch of kids at this party and not a single one of them got a bite of this trifle because the adults ate it all.  When we got in the car to leave Jake asked if we were bringing the rest home because he didn't get any; sorry buddy, the grown ups ate it all.  There were definitely some mommies and daddies going back for seconds and thirds but I won't name names. (;

Not only is this Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle out of this world delicious, it is incredibly easy.  Start out by making a batch of brownies, I used my favorite Ghirardelli mix.  I made mine in a rectangular pan so they would be thinner.  Once your brownies are completely cooled, cut them into bite sized pieces.  If you want to make this no-bake, you could easily substitute store bought brownie bites.  Take your brownie bites and layer them in the bottom of a trifle dish.  I used about 3/4 of my batch and then "disposed" of the remaining pieces by wolfing them down while hiding from Jake.

The next layer is peanut butter heaven, and by that I mean peanut butter pudding.  That's right, I said PEANUT! BUTTER! PUDDING!  Take a big box of instant vanilla pudding mix, some milk, and some creamy peanut butter and mix it up until it is nice and thick.  Then spread that peanut buttery goodness in a layer right on top of those brownies.

Now you need a little crunch, so take half of a package of Nutter Butters and put them into a large zip-top bag.  Get out your rolling pin and roll right on over those Nutter Butters until they are broken up into chunks.  You don't want them all crumbs, you want some good sized pieces.  Sprinkle the Nutter Butter chunks on top of the pudding reserving a few spoonfuls of the tiny crumbs from the bottom of the bag for later.

Get a container of Cool-Whip (I used the light) and spread it on top of the Nutter Butters.  For those of you who are new to Cool Whip like I was up until a few years ago, you have to defrost the Cool Whip first.  Now you want a little more chocolate, obviously!  Get some mini chocolate chips, you could use regular but the minis just seemed right to me, and sprinkle them all over the top along with the reserved Nutter Butter Crumbs.

You have just made the perfect Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle.  Try to share, but if you eat it all yourself, I won't tell. 

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
  • 1 batch brownies, cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 16 Nutter Butters
  • 1 container light Cool Whip
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Layer brownie bites in the bottom of a trifle dish.
  2. Make pudding by combining pudding mix, milk, and peanut butter with a hand mixer until smooth and thickened.  Spread pudding on top of brownie layer.
  3. Put Nutter Butters in a zip-top bag and roll over with a rolling pin to crush into chunks.  Sprinkle chunks over pudding reserving a few spoonfuls of crumbs for the topping.
  4. Spread defrosted Cool Whip over Nutter Butter Chunks.
  5. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and reserved Nutter Butter crumbs all over the top.  Chill until ready to serve.

 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Sweet Bellaroos, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, and Pinworhty Projects.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Wore - Mad About Plaid

Plaid has been all over the place lately and I'm smitten with it.  When I saw this shirt at Old Navy during one of their sales I snapped it up.  A lot of times I don't like long sleeved shirts like this because they feel constrictive to me, but this one is super soft and comfortable.  The colors and pattern are great for fall but the red also gives it a holiday vibe.

When the weather is just starting to cool off I think layering is the way to go.  I had a white tank underneath and then added this cream scarf on top.   It added just the right amount of extra warmth when it was cloudy, but was easily removed when the sun came out.

Paired with these medium blue denim leggings and my favorite cognac boots, I was ready for fall.

Plaid Shirt - Old Navy
Denim Leggings - Loft 
Scarf - Target - old
Boots - Cathy Jean - old 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

See's Candies at Fashion Island and a Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Since today is a day filled with delicious foods and being thankful, I thought it would be the perfect day to talk about chocolate.  I mean, I don't know about you, but I am thankful for chocolate!

Recently I was invited to a media event to check out the new See's Candies store at Fashion Island the day before it's grand opening.  If you can't tell, I L-O-V-E dessert so I was super excited to go.  To make it even more fun, I went with one of my very good friends and fellow bloggers, Amy.

Not only did I get to check out the new store, I got to sample to my hearts content, and did I ever.  If you have ever been to See's, then you know that you get a sample every time you go.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes when I'm running errands I decide I should pick up a Scotchmallow for Josh (those are his all time favorites and one of See's top 5 sellers).  Even though I tell myself it's for Josh, I'm the one who gets a yummy sample to eat right then so we both win.  This night I was welcome to enjoy unlimited samples...I was in heaven.  We also had a fun little head to head race where we packed our own 1/2 pound boxes.  We had two types to choose from but I filled mine with all Dark Butterchews.  If you haven't tried this one yet, I highly recommend it.  The Dark Butterchew is a chewy vanilla brown sugar caramel covered in dark chocolate and it is one of my absolute favorites.

I love dessert and I will happily eat the leftover Halloween candy in our house but there is no comparison between the preservative filled stuff in our Halloween bucket and the preservative free, aged chocolate heaven that you get at See's Candies.  See's make 100 delicious varieties of treats and sells over 1 billion pieces a year.  In addition to their standard fare, See's also has special seasonal candies and packaging.

I love the fall leaf on this packaging and don't even get me started on the seasonal pie truffles.  I'm not usually a fan of white chocolate, but the pecan pie truffle was OUT OF THIS WORLD!

See's makes it easy to celebrate any holiday.  Of course they have lots of great Christmas products, but they have Chanukah too!  Since we celebrate both holidays in our family, I love it when a store gives me one stop shopping like this!

While I was there the store manager brought this out for us to try and instructed us to eat it the way he handed it to us.

It was the See's Candies version of a peanut butter and jelly.  Seriously you guys, MIND BLOWN!

I'm not usually a fan of fruity chocolates so I never in a million years would have bought the Strawberry Cream but I am sooooo glad that he gave us this to try.  If you can't tell, it's paired with a peanut butter patty.  This combination was unbelievably good.  If I wasn't already super full I would have asked for another.

Now that I have you drooling over all of these delicious treats, See's and I have a little Thanksgiving treat for you.   Enter below for a chance to win a $25 gift card to See's Candies.  This can be used in any See's Candies store, the new Fashion Island location is great because it is located on the outside edge of the mall (near Macy's) so you can just run in and out.  You can also use the gift card online with FREE shipping, score!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was a guest of See's at this media event and received some See's products to take home.  The gift card for this giveaway was provided by See's.  All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I Wore - Tunic & Leggings

If you follow me on Instagram (I just got started so if you don't, please do) then you may have seen this picture of me a couple of weeks ago.

The beautiful lady next to me is my dear friend Amy, and she and I were lucky enough to get a preview of the new See's Candies store at Fashion Island.  I'll be posting all about that fun event later this week, but for now let's talk about what I wore.

Since I knew that I would be eating a ton small, ladylike amount of chocolate I wanted to wear something that glossed over my midsection.  This tunic was the perfect solution.  I picked it up at Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale but hadn't had an opportunity to wear it until now.  It's by Caslon which definitely runs big.  I had to get an XXS petite which is definitely NOT my normal size (I wish it was).  I love the visual interest added by the zipper details on the shoulders.

I layered it over my new Assets leggings to help smooth things out underneath my tunic and then added these cognac wedge boots to help balance it all out.  If you are still trying to decide what to wear on Thanksgiving, this would be a perfect outfit.

Tunic - Caslon - Similar
Leggings - Assets
Boots - Cathy Jean - old

I'm linking up with Style Elixer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Casual & Inexpensive Thanksgiving Tablescape

As you most likely know by now I am not a fan of dishes.  I love decorating, cooking, and entertaining, but I do not like cleaning up after it all.  So this year I decided to keep it simple and disposable.  I used this tablescape for our annual Friendsgiving and I'll be using it again with our family on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and Autumn tend to bring to mind orange and burgundy but I wanted a more neutral palette this year.  I started out with a basic white tablecloth (I bought two at Bed Bath & Beyond recently for $12 total!).  Then I added this burlap runner that I picked up at Michael's (with a 50% off coupon naturally).   I wanted to be able to reuse it so instead of cutting it to the length I needed, I had it go off the edge of the table and used binder clips to clip the excess to the bottom of the table.

I had originally planned to make my white pumpkins into votive candleholders.  I have seen this idea all over Pinterest but when Josh busted out the drill to make one, the practice pumpkin exploded.  Needless to say we decided to just leave them as is.  I spaced them evenly on the burlap runner and then sprinkled some mini pinecones in between.

In order to break up all the white I bought some craft paper and cut placemats out of it.  I'm not going to lie, this was more of a pain than I thought it would be.  Cutting them out was fine but since my craft paper was on a roll my placemats wouldn't stay flat.  I ended up ironing them with a burp cloth between the iron and the paper.  Even though it took a little more effort the result was exactly what I wanted.

As you can see in the pictures we used disposable everything; napkins, plastic silverware, plastic cups, and plastic plates.   This tablescape ended up being casual yet festive, rustic yet elegant, and most of all easy to clean up.  If you haven't figured out how you plan to decorate your Thanksgiving table, give this casual and inexpensive tablescape a try.

I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, PinWorthy Projects, Happy Holiday Linkup, Saturday Night Fever, Moonlight & Mason Jars, and The Weekend Social.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Wore - Practically Pajamas

So... Luke has decided that he doesn't take naps and that the 5 o'clock hour is a perfectly reasonable wake-up time.  As you can imagine, this results in one very tired baby and an equally tired (not to mention frazzled) mama.  After a particularly tough morning all I wanted to do was sit around in my pajamas all day, but we had a PTA meeting to get to so I had to get dressed.  I decided to wear the next best thing, clothes that feel like pajamas.

I picked up these pants at Old Navy a few weeks ago and while I think I probably would have been better off in an XS, they only had a S in this color and I really liked them so I bought them anyway.  The marled pattern makes them look a little nicer than sweatpants and they honestly could not be more comfortable.  They also have pockets which are perfect for slipping your phone or your keys into while running around at the park.  Old Navy doesn't have this exact pair anymore, but these are similar with a zip pocket which gives them sort of a moto vibe.

I paired it with a basic white tee and my favorite sweatshirt jacket and then slipped on some glitter TOMS to glam it up a bit.  If I'm totally honest, I'm not sure if I'm cool enough to pull this outfit off, but it's just so comfortable that I'm wearing it anyway.

I'm linking up with Style Elixer, Shopping My Closet, Pleated Poppy, and Get Your Pretty On.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Family Baby Food Review

I received free products to try but all opinions are my own.

If you follow my blog then you know that I mostly make my own baby food.  That being said, sometimes, it is just easier to buy it.  When Luke was 7 months old we went to England for my younger sister's wedding and I couldn't exactly pack my Beaba Babycook so off to Target I went to stock up on pouches.  By the way, I think we can all agree that pouches are pretty much the greatest invention in baby food.  They make it so easy to bring food on the go.  Anyway, I spent about 45 minutes in that baby food aisle because there were just so many choices.  Ultimately I came home with a variety of choices from a variety of brands because I just couldn't decide.  I should have just stuck with the one brand I had experience with, Happy Family.

Back when Jake was little I discovered the Happy Bellies cereals.  I liked that they included DHA and probiotics.  Since DHA is good for brain development and probiotics keep your digestive system on track this puts them a step above the other baby cereals out there in my opinion.

In addition to their high quality cereals, Happy Baby has a wide variety of products for your little one.  From puffs to teething wafers to pouches, Happy Baby has you covered.  Luke looooves their puffs.  I'm pretty sure he has an extra sense because as soon as someone opens a puffs container he is a man on a mission.  I have to prevent him from accosting other mommies if they have puffs in hand.

If I'm not making the food that goes in my little one's mouth, I like knowing that I'm giving him the best there is and Happy Baby definitely fits the bill!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Salted Caramel Blondies

We have officially entered the season of potluck celebrations and homemade gifts.  If you are like me and love to bring desserts to dinner parties or give baked goods at the holidays, you NEED to add these blondies onto your list of goodies to make.  They are out of this world good, unbelievably easy, and are made in one bowl, well actually one saucepan.  Every time I make these, I set a couple aside for myself before I serve them because otherwise by the time I go to eat one they are already gone.  You will definitely be asked for the recipe, though you may not want to share because then people will know that they aren't nearly as fancy as they look. 

Start out by melting 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat and add in some brown sugar, white whole wheat flour, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir it all together until its completely combined.  Then pour the batter into a baking pan sprayed with baking spray.

Now for the tricky part, just kidding, there is no tricky part.  Sprinkle some Maldon sea salt all over the top.  You want to use a nice flaky salt for this.  Table salt is not nearly the same thing.  The Maldon salt is so worth the price.  If you want another use for it, try these Salted Caramel Brownies.  Better yet, make both and serve them together as two sides of the salted caramel coin so to speak.

Anyway, back to the blondies.  Bake the blondies at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  These were baked for 17 minutes.  Let them cool completely before you cut them into bars.  These Salted Caramel Blondies are deliciously rich.  I recommend enjoying them with a tall glass of cold milk.

Salted Caramel Blondies
Recipe adapted from iVillage
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Maldon sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 11 x 7 baking pan with baking spray.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Turn off heat and add sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir together until completely combined.
  4. Pour into baking pan and smooth with a spatula.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt all over the top from high above the pan.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.
I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, Create It Thursday, and Pin It Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Cook it Craft It Share It, Weekend Social, Best of the Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Best Recipes, Weekend Potluck, Celebrate It, and Pinworthy Projects

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

The other day at Costco I saw Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix and I snapped it up.  I love pumpkin bread and since Halloween marks the start of my busy season (Halloween, Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and all 4 of our birthdays in a 74 day period) I like to make things easy when I can.  As a teacher myself, I know that it's always nice to get a little token of appreciation from the parents so when I volunteer in Jake's class I like to bring treats for the teachers.  This pumpkin spice bread was the perfect seasonal treat, but I wanted to make it a little fancier.  I decided to make it into a bundt cake and add a maple glaze.

This couldn't be easier.  Take 2 packages of Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix (the Costco box comes with 4) and mix it up with some water, vegetable oil, and four eggs.  Then stir in some chopped pecans because they are oh so good.  Pour the batter into a bundt pan sprayed with baking spray and bake at 350 for about an hour.

Let the cake cool in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes and then put it on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once your cake is cool, whip up your maple glaze.  In a small saucepan melt together 2 tbls. of butter and 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup.  Once your butter is melted, whisk in a cup of powdered sugar until combined.  Pour immediately over your cooled bundt cake.  I recommend pouring the glaze on once it is on the serving plate.  I did it on a separate plate and then moved it once the glaze had set.  This left me with a few cracks in the glaze but it still tasted delicious. 

If you aren't feeling the maple glaze, I also made this quickbread as a snack cake for a little Halloween party (1 package of mix and 1/4 cup of pecans baked in an 8 inch pan).   To make it more festive I used my silhouette cameo to cut out a little pumpkin stencil.  After cutting my snack cake into squares I laid the stencil on each and sifted a little powdered sugar over the top.  Lift off the stencil and you have pumpkin decorated pumpkin bread.

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
  • 2 packages Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  •  2 tbls. butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a bundt pan with baking spray.
  2. Mix together quickbread mix, water, oil, and eggs until combined.
  3. Stir in pecans and pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-65 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).
  4. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. To make glaze melt together butter and syrup.  Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.  Pour onto bundt cake and let set.

I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Whimsy Wednesdays, and Wednesday Whatsits,  Thrifty Thursday, Cook it Craft It Share It, Weekend Social, Best of the Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Best Recipes, Weekend Potluck, and Pinworthy Projects

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I Wore - Black & White

We are finally experiencing a little bit of fall weather, of course it's supposed to be back in the 80s later this week but I'll take what I can get.  I had a super busy day so I wanted to be comfortable but still pulled together.  If you've been following my blog for a while you have probably noticed that comfortable yet pulled together is sort of my thing. 

During Nordstrom's anniversary sale I tried all of the Spanx leggings and none of them worked for me.  I was super sad because my sister has a great pair that she picked up at a great boutique by her house.  That pair was not available at Nordstrom.  It turned out to be lucky for me because I found the Assets leggings at Kohl's.  If you aren't familiar with the brand, Assets is the less expensive line from Spanx.  These ponte leggings are great.  They aren't like wearing a pair of Spanx (I wouldn't call Spanx comfortable), but they do have a high rise and help smooth things out a little bit.

This tunic top is a super old one from H & M.  I wore it before, during, and now after my pregnancy with Luke.  The downside is that it is drapey so it can sometimes show a little more cleavage than I'm comfortable with.  I usually solve this problem with a little Hollywood Fashion Tape (love that stuff), but since I'm nursing that wasn't going to work.  Enter the Coobie.  What looks like a layering tank is actually my favorite new bra.  The Coobie bra is amazing!  I'm wearing the lace trim v-neck coobie in black.  These bras are super comfortable.  They are sort of like a sports bra in that there is no clasp, it's just one piece.  They are also super cheap and almost always have coupon codes, check RetailMeNot.

I topped my outfit off with my new favorite sweatshirt jacket, previously seen here, and the Payless dexflex Claire flats seen here, here, here, and here.  This outfit was the perfect combination of black on black.  The dalmation spots on the top break it up just enough to add some visual interest and made my comfortable outfit perfectly stylish for my busy day.  Speaking of my busy day, sorry for the poor quality of photos.  When I got home at 9:30 I realized that I had never gotten around to taking outfit photos for today's post so I had Josh snap a few quick pics.  Just focus on the outfit and not the poor lighting or my tired face.