Girl, don’t do it…

It’s not worth it.

I’m not gonna do it, I was just thinking about it. I’m not gonna do it.

I did it.

The recipe for Southern Living’s Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. Holy nutmeg! The perfect marriage of spice cake and pumpkin bread.

I am NOT one of those people. I don’t like rushing seasons or holidays because I inevitably get bored with them too soon. I want to put things out at an appropriate time so I can enjoy them all season long.

But the spices in this cake… pure pumpkin heaven! I had to. Just this once. I’ll now go back to summer and 100+ days and flip flops and tank tops.

But for one little Saturday in August, I simply HAD to have a little bite of Fall.

Plus!, this recipe calls for candied pecans to be sprinkled on top but I used regular pecans so basically, it’s diet food.

Don’t make this recipe too soon, (don’t do it, girl) but put it on your Fall Bucket List. It’s one of the best bundt cakes I’ve ever had (no hyperbole needed.)

Looking forward to sweaters and hot cider and football games. But not yet. There’s a little more sand-between-the-toes days to come.

enjoy!

Hawt Chocolate

We made a deliciously rich and decadent hot chocolate recently that I decided must be a part of my #2020s20HolidayCrafts. I insist you make it immediately then sit back with a good book and one of those arm-knitted throw blankets and have yourself a merry MERRY weekend-before-Christmas.

This recipe is adapted from a Southern Living magazine hot chocolate recipe.

I mean… it starts with Half and Half and milk. So you know it’ll be good. It continues with a half a can of dulce de leche. Need I say more?

Shaved dark chocolate, heavy cream, girrrl. This is some extra livin’.

After pouring a mug full of heaven, add about a tablespoon of Tennessee Honey whiskey then top it off with some homemade whipped cream.

And why not add a chocolate rolled wafer cookie while you’re at it.

ENJOY some grown-up time and thank me later.

Tennessee Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


4 cups half and half
1/2 canned or jarred dulce de leche
8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, extra for topping
Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1C cold heavy cream
chocolate rolled wafer cookies (like Pirouette)

Whisk together 4 cups half and half and 1/2 cup dulce de leche in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until heated through (about 10 minutes)

Remove from heat and whisk 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt until the mixture is smooth.

Next, beat 1 cup of cold heavy cream in a cold bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form (about 1 minute)

Pour hot chocolate mixture into 4 serving cups. Add a tablespoon of whiskey. Top each with whipped cream, a drizzle of de leche and shaved chocolate. Serve with chocolate rolled wafer cookies.

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2020’s 20 Holiday Crafts: Sucker for Stars (2/20)

I’m not sure how many of my 2020’s 20 Holiday Crafts will involve stars, but I’m willing to bet there will be more than a couple. I am a sucker for stars at Christmastime.

I made these few projects with a fabulously -scented salt dough. Let me give you the recipe first:

SCENTED SALT DOUGH

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground clove
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 10 drops orange essential oil (this is optional but it smells HEAVENLY!)

Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients and the essential oil
  2. Slowly add the water until you have a workable piece of dough. Not too wet and sticky. It should be about the consistency of Play-Dough.
  3. Roll out the dough and cut out the desired shape that you want for your ornaments: snowflake, tree, star, etc.
  4. Using a straw (I used one of our stainless steel straws), make a hole in the middle or at the top of the dough shape. Hint: It sounds like a small detail but after making a hole in an ornament, I then blew at the top of the straw to remove the dough from my straw. If you let them build up, they’re difficult to get out. A build-up inside the straw can make the hole punch less exact.
  5. Place the dough shapes on a baking sheet. Essential oils can be difficult to digest sometimes. So if you’d like to keep your oils from getting onto your baking sheet, line with parchment paper so you can discard it later. I used some oooooold baking sheets that we no longer use for cooking.
  6. Bake the shapes at 170 degrees for one hour then flip them over and bake another hour. Depending on the thickness of your shapes, you might want to go another half hour (I did for mine but they are pretty thick.)
  7. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on cooling racks.

I used my shapes for a star wall hanging, using a piece of driftwood I’ve had stashed away…

a dual string star garland…

and some tree ornaments.

Other options: You can stamp a word on the shape before baking it or using a live pine section, impress it into the tree shape. One of my bigger stars could easily be a candle holder which would require making a larger hole in the center before baking. There are many different ways you can use these salt dough shapes.

The ongoing scent of this salt dough is amazing. It fills your house while they’re baking and they hold the scent really well. I can smell them when I walk into a room where they are. The salt is what dries them so you can use them year after year if carefully wrapped and stored.

I used some baker’s twine, jewelry cording and macrame string. You could use ribbon or thread – it’s whatever matches your aesthetic. Another hint: I bought a handful of this black and white baker’s twine at Target last year in their Christmas clearance at 80% off. Look for items that a store has earmarked for ‘Christmas’ but you could use all year long – like I do this twine.

As always, if you try this project please send me a picture. I love seeing your creativity in the process! ENJOY!!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcake Perfection

I humbly submit to you that I have just made (and this can’t be stated strongly enough) the best cupcakes the world has ever known.

without rival

underrated brilliance

beyond compare

These are the phrases that leapt to mind when I bit into these amazing Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes.

Overstated? Impossible. Mere adjectives do not do them justice. These cupcakes could bring about world peace.

They involve some of my favorite color combinations: blue, yellow and cream cheese!

Below is the recipe. (You’ll thank me)

A bright, light, summer treat.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: just follow the directions
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INGREDIENTS FOR CUPCAKE BATTER

* 1 and 3/4 cups + 2T flour, divided
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
* 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
* 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (zest your lemon before squeezing it for juice)
* 3T fresh lemon juice, divided (there’s nothing like freshly squeezed lemon juice)
* 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
* 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
* 1 large egg + one egg yolk, room temperature

INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING

* 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1) 8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
* 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
* 1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good vanilla)
* 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

DIRECTIONS FOR CUPCAKE BATTER

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl combine the 1 and 3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – set aside
3. In a separate bowl combine the sour cream, milk and 2T of lemon juice. Whisk well to combine – set aside
4. Place blueberries in a small bowl. Add remaining lemon juice and toss to coat the berries. Add remaining flour and toss to coat – set aside
5. In mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy
6. Add in the granulated sugar and lemon extract and beat until well combined
7. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix well. Reduce speed to low
8. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined
9. Add half of the sour cream mixture until just combined
10. Repeat with remaining flour and sour cream mixture until just combined
11. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the floured blueberries and lemon zest
12. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 of the way full
13. Bake for 16-20 minutes (check at 16 minutes with a toothpick)
14. After removing from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring cupcakes to a cooling rack

DIRECTIONS FOR FROSTING

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy
2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in the powdered sugar and lemon juice, beating until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes
3. Add in the vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest. Beat until smooth. (If the consistency is too thick, add a teaspoon of milk, but only if necessary) The frosting should be creamy and spreadable, but also thick enough to hold its shape.
4. Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
5. To decorate: shred lemon zest on top of the cupcake. Add a couple of blueberries and sprinkles of your choice.