Super Easy Sugar Cookies (1) | Espresso and Cream

First off, thank you so much for your kind words about our recent miscarriage. I plan on responding to each and every comment and have done my best to stay up-to-date with e-mails. I so greatly appreciate each word you’ve said to me and cherish each one. This post, a baby shower for my friend Stephanie, was planned months ago. Although the timing feels a bit forced in light of our recent news, I want to be able to celebrate with Stephanie in her time of joy. -Madison

One of my blogging friends turned real life friend, Stephanie of Girl Versus Dough, is having a little baby girl and today I’m getting together with a bunch of other bloggers to throw Stephanie a virtual baby shower. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend Stephanie’s real-life baby shower since I was out of town but I wouldn’t miss getting in on the virtual celebrations!

It’s been so great getting to know Stephanie in real life now that we both live up in the cities. She is, without a doubt, one of the sweetest people I know and that little girl is going to be born into such an amazing family!

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The cookies I made for Stephanie’s shower are my new go-to sugar cookie recipe. I love baking that doesn’t require a lot of fuss and these cookies certainly fit the bill. One of the things I hate most about sugar cookie dough is the fact that you have to refrigerate the dough before you bake it. I struggle with patience, so refrigerating dough is a challenge for me.

Thankfully, this recipe doesn’t require the dough to be refrigerated before you bake it. Major win in my book! And it requires just a handful of ingredients you probably have on hand, which is another major bonus. For those of you out there who don’t consider yourself much of a baker, I would suggest starting with a recipe like this. Adding a few colored sprinkles on top gives these cookies a decorative touch without much extra fuss.

Super Simple Sugar Cookies (2) | Espresso and Cream

Check out all the other ladies who are participating in the shower:

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes from Sarcastic Cooking

Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with Lemon Drizzle from Greens & Chocolate

Super Chewy M&M Blondies from The Realistic Nutritionist

Strawberry Cinnamon Twist Knots from A Kitchen Addiction

Lemon Shortbread with Salted Chocolate Drizzle from The Lemon Bowl

Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream from A Zesty Bite

Blackberry and Mango Curd Pie from Joanne Eats Well With Others

Pecan Sticky Buns from Warm Vanilla Sugar

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins from Garnish with Lemon

Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Susie Freaking Homemaker

Super Simple Sugar Cookies from Espresso and Cream

Raspberry Acai Frozen Margarita from Nutmeg Nanny

Berry Coconut Frozen Yogurt from The Law Student’s Wife

Pretty in Pink Buttercream Cups from Keep it Sweet Desserts

Broccoli Salad with Honey Toasted Walnuts from The Roasted Root

Neapolitan Baked Doughnuts from Climbing Grier Mountain

Giant Pink M&M and Raisinette Cookies from Steph’s Bite by Bite

No-Bake Rhubarb Cheesecake Parfait Cups from Hungry Girl Por Vida

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp from A Cedar Spoon

Freckled Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade from Take a Megabite

Vanilla Anise Cupcakes from Blahnik Baker

Mini Vanilla Bean Layer Cakes from The Baker Chick

Mini Blackberry Hazelnut Meringue Cakes from Eat Your Heart Out

Super Simple Sugar Cookies
 
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This sugar cookies come together quickly and don’t need to be refrigerated before you slice and bake them. That’s a major win in my book! This makes about two dozen small cookies, but feel free to double if you want a bigger batch!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Colored sprinkles, if desired

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and beat until just combined. Add in the vanilla, salt and baking powder and beat until combined.
  3. Add flour to butter mixture and beat until just combined. Transfer dough to floured work surface. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut shapes from dough, rolling and re-rolling as necessary to use up dough. Top dough with colored sprinkles, if desired.
  4. Place cookies on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake 8 minutes or just until light golden brown around the edges. Do not over bake. Remove immediately and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

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Although I may not be one for planning ahead, I’ve had this day marked on my calendar for the last 10 weeks. Ever since we found out just a few days before Valentine’s Day that we were expecting a baby due in October, I’ve had this day circled on my planner as the day I would publish a blog post announcing our good news. But as you may have already guessed, I won’t be sharing that happy news today. Instead, it’s with a sad and heavy heart that I’m writing about our second miscarriage in the last eight months.

It took me months to get up the courage to write about our miscarriage last time, when the emotions weren’t as raw and I had more time to process what we had experienced. This time I feel comfortable sharing about our experience in the hope that it helps others down the road in the same way that I’ve benefitted from hearing the stories and experiences of others. I’m not sure why miscarriage is such a hush-hush thing in today’s tell-all society. We talk about cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and the like in public forums but those who suffer miscarriages, or in our case recurrent miscarriage, are left to suffer silently. I refuse to fall prey to the lie that miscarriage is something to keep secret, and I think it’s our responsibility as Christian women to bring it into the light.

When we first found out we were expecting again, I was both elated and terrified. The idea of suffering another miscarriage so soon after our last was practically crippling. On the flip side, we had been trying to get pregnant for close to five months (temping, ovulation kits, the whole nine yards!) so that first positive pregnancy test ushered in a wave of pure joy. I knew the statistics: Only 5% of women have two consecutive miscarriages and only 1% have three or more consecutive miscarriages. In fact, your chances of a healthy pregnancy after a single miscarriage is actually better than if you had never had a miscarriage in the first place.

In the first few weeks of pregnancy I clung to those statistics, probably more than I should have. Additionally, I was feeling incredibly sick, something I didn’t feel with my first pregnancy, so I took it as a sign that everything was progressing as it should. As a precaution, my doctor put me on progesterone supplements to be safe, although my blood tests didn’t indicate any issues with low levels. We had an early ultrasound around the 7 week mark and saw a strong, healthy heartbeat and baby, which is, by many, considered a huge milestone and indicator that the pregnancy is progressing as it should. We felt comfortable enough to tell our family and some close friends and co-workers about our news and allowed them to share in our joy.

I continued to feel sick, went on a work trip, got sick some more and although I felt terrible I reveled in the sickness and the feeling of being pregnant; sickness was a small price to pay. Both of my sister-in-laws announced they were pregnant, meaning all of us Hofmeyer girls would be having babies within a six week span of one another. We texted frequently about our symptoms and how we were feeling, forming an even deeper bond over our shared experience of being moms together.

I started to write weekly pregnancy updates in the drafts folder of this blog. Weeks 6 through 11 are chronicled and tucked away, never to be published or shared like I had planned. There I detailed my symptoms and emotions week-by-week, wanting to remember every little detail, sure that I would be able to publish a post all about “pregnancy after miscarriage” instead of talking about that ugly phrase, “multiple miscarriages.”

Joe and I waited with great anticipation for Friday. We would be just shy of 12 weeks and at the appointment they would look for a heartbeat using a doppler. A healthy heartbeat and check-up would put us in the clear to tell everyone our news. I had no signs of miscarriage, no cramping or spotting or anything out of the ordinary. I had started to feel a bit better in the last week, but that’s to be expected as you near the end of the first trimester so I didn’t think much of it.

Our doctor, who is the most caring and gracious doctor I have met, eased my mind when she couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler. She said we could just head to the next room and she would do an ultrasound. The baby was small and probably hiding, and an ultrasound was more fun, anyway. But instead of hearing a heartbeat, I knew from the second she looked at the monitor that something was wrong. At 11 weeks it should have been easy to find and distinguish the baby, but instead our doctor squinted her eyes and said she only saw a baby that measured 8 weeks with no heartbeat.

My deepest fear realized. Life and our future changed in an instant. A big huge question mark about what this means going forward. It didn’t take long for the waterworks to begin as I sat in shock, our doctor holding my right hand, Joe holding the other.

I so deeply wish that I had a different story to tell, but I’m learning now more than ever that we don’t get to write our own story. My story and Joe’s story and the way our family will eventually come together is proving to be rockier than I had ever dreamed it would be. I’m heading in for surgery in the morning, and, quite frankly, looking forward to beginning the physical healing process. We will do tests this time around, pretty much all the tests we can do to identify the underlying cause of our miscarriages. During this time, I would so greatly appreciate your prayers, words of encouragement and, if you have them, your personal stories of pregnancy after a battle with infertility.

Over the next few weeks I plan to post a series of posts around the topic of miscarriage and my experience. Thank you so much for allowing me to grieve, process and share with you all. Your support, encouragement and uplifting words and prayers have meant everything to us over the last two days. The blog community (and our real-life community) never cease to amaze me. Thank you, thank you.   -Madison

Bran Snack Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream
I know, I know. The whole “bran cake” probably doesn’t have you dashing to the kitchen to make this recipe, does it? Hang with me for a moment and let me explain. I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before how much I love hearty, healthier, one-bowl cake that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. This cake is all that and more.

Growing up I remember buying the most amazing bran muffins at the local grocery store. They were made by the local Dutch bakery (we grew up in a very Dutch town) and were pretty much the best things on the planet. They were huge muffins, not in paper liners, and the bottoms of the muffins were gooey and covered in some sort of caramel glaze that soaked into the muffins and kept them moist. At the time, I thought I was eating something healthy. I mean, they’re bran muffins for crying out loud. Now I realize they were more than likely loaded with sugar and butter and calories only being disguised by the bran as a better-for-you treat.

Bran Snack Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream
So last week when the urge to bake hit me hard I decided to try and recreate those muffins with a healthier twist. This bran cake is made in an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan, though you could certainly use a round cake pan if that’s what you happen to own. Instead of being loaded with sugar and butter and all those bad-for-you ingredients, I made a light glaze to go on the cake and drizzled the cake with a couple tablespoons of honey right after it came out of the oven.

Joe, who is not one for healthy desserts and cakes, was a huge fan of this cake! Although I had to warn him about portion control. One slice of cake a day is really all you should think about eating, if you know what I mean. We’re talking about bran, after all.

Bran Snack Cake 3 | Espresso and Cream

Bran Snack Cake
 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Serves: 9 to 12

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 100% bran cereal (such as All Bran)
  • 1¼ cups milk (I used 2% but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square (or 8-inch round) cake pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, melt butter. Add brown sugar to butter and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into bottom of pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt until well combined. In second bowl, combine bran cereal, milk, egg, oil and sugar until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake immediately onto serving platter. Drizzle with the honey. Cut into squares to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Healthy Peanut Butter Pie | Espresso and Cream 1

How was your weekend, friends? Joe and I soaked up every ounce of the beautiful weather we had this weekend, and for the first time it felt like Spring really is on its way! We also finally got around to buying bikes! It’s been a long time coming, since my last bike was something purchased in middle school. Since Minneapolis has so many beautiful bike trails, we knew we were missing out.

Moving right along…Let’s talk about pie, shall we?

At our house, healthier desserts will always have a place at the table. I have found over the years that the less sugar I eat, the less I’m able to tolerate super sweet things. That’s not to say that my sweet tooth has disappeared completely. In reality, I find that I need to have a little something sweet every night.

One of my favorite desserts is peanut butter pie. It’s also a dessert that I don’t indulge in frequently because it’s usually quite unhealthy and loaded with fat and sugar. This weekend when the craving for peanut butter pie hit me hard I decided to come up with a healthier version that I could enjoy more often.

Healthy Peanut Butter Pie 2 | Espresso and CreamOne of my favorite tricks for making healthy creamy pies is to use silken firm tofu for the base of the pie. Make sure that the tofu you buy is silken firm and not another type of tofu or you won’t be able to blend the tofu as smooth as it needs to be for this recipe. If you’re freaked out about using tofu in your pie, don’t be! I promise you can’t even taste the tofu, and it’s a great alternative to cream cheese or whipping cream.

Each slice of this pie clocks in at around 175 calories per slice, meaning you can have a piece every night of the week without feeling guilty in the least bit. An added bonus of the tofu? It means that each slice of this pie has 8 grams of protein!

One final note: The vanilla pudding and pie filling is really important for this recipe. It thickens the filling slightly and really gives the filling lots of great vanilla flavor. Although I’ve only tried this recipe with vanilla, I’m guessing that chocolate, white chocolate, cheesecake or banana flavors would all be really delicious!

Healthy Peanut Butter Pie 3 | Espresso and Cream

Healthier Peanut Butter Pie
 
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This peanut butter pie is a healthier version of one of my favorite desserts. A slice of this pie comes in at around 175 calories per slice, and thanks to a secret ingredient (tofu!) each slice contains 8 grams of protein, too.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10

Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Filling
  • 2 (12 oz) containers silken firm tofu (make sure it is silken tofu for a creamy consistency)
  • ⅔ cup creamy or chunky natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix (just the dry mix)
  • 3 packets stevia or other sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl combine crust ingredients until well combined. Press mixture into an 8- or 9-inch round pie plate. Bake 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine all the filling ingredients. Blend 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth or nearly smooth. If you used chunky peanut butter, like I did, the mixture will not be completely smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut into 10 slices to serve.

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Happy Friday, friends! How have you been lately? This week just flew by, and we’re gearing up to have the warmest weekend in what feels like years. I can promise you I’ll be spending my fair share of time outside.

I think it’s time for another round-up of recipes I’ve worked on lately from around the web, don’t you think? Here are a few of my favorites:

Chia Seed Pudding with Raspberry Compote from Tasteseekers Kitchen (pictured above)

White Russian Cereal Cocktail Bars from Tasteseekers Kitchen

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Roll French Toast from Pillsbury.com

Double-Stacked Cinnamon Roll Cake from Pillsbury.com

Bunny Monkey Bread from Pillsbury.com

Ham and Cheese Sliders from Pillsbury.com

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back Monday with a recipe you don’t want to miss!

Madison

 

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