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dessert

Food & Recipes

A Wine + Chocolate Girls NIght

January 28, 2016

*This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make E&C possible. 

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January is a long month in the Midwest. I mean, after New Year’s there is a long stretch filled with cold days without much to celebrate. So what’s a girl to do? My answer was to get the girls together for a wine and chocolate party. It was the perfect way to break up the weekday routine and host friends in our newly renovated house for the first time. Although the house isn’t finished quite yet, we have a few finished rooms and that calls for a party!

The good thing about not having much on our walls right now was that I had a nice open wall to set up the spread of wine, chocolate, fruit, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped marshmallows. I was aiming to keep things on the simpler side so it wasn’t too hard to pull together on a busy weeknight but I tried to get a lot of “wow” for my minimal effort.

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Because it was a weeknight and our kitchen isn’t yet finished, I used boxed dark chocolate cupcake mix in these pretty pink foil liners I got from Walmart. The frosting was also purchased, but piping it on with either a piping bag or a zip top bag with the end snipped off makes it look a little more homemade. I topped each cupcake with a Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day chocolate and I think they turned out pretty cute!

The marshmallows were dipped in melted milk chocolate and once the chocolate hardened I used paper pop sticks and ribbon to finish off the look. And I added some fresh fruit to the mix for a lighter option and the fact that fresh fruit feels like such a luxury in the middle of a Midwest winter, doesn’t it?

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When we moved back to Iowa from Minneapolis I was a little worried we would have a tough time finding good wine locally. Growing up I remember the options being seriously limited, but I was happy to discover that has changed. Small-town Iowa has upped their game in recent years. The night’s wines were a selection of red wines (pinot nior, merlot and cab) from Josh Cellars, which has always been a favorite.

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Sometimes life feels so busy and hectic that I feel as if I don’t have the time during the week to do fun things like girls night. It can be hard to coordinate child care, the busy schedules of others, food and drink, etc. But I was reminded last night that it’s absolutely worth it, and maybe even necessary, to take time to build and maintain relationships with the women in our lives. As everyone left, we all agreed that we should make it a regular thing. Thanks, ladies, for taking the time out of your schedules to make this happen!

Madison

Food & Recipes

Quick and Easy No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

November 10, 2015

Pumpkin No-Bake CookiesNo-bake cookies, the kind with cocoa and oats and sugar, are a favorite in our house. They’re easy, tasty and store well for quite a while, which is important when your home crew of cookie eaters is small. I remember my mom telling me stories of how her mom would make these cookies, and the idea of continuing on with that tradition makes me smile.

quick-and-easy-no-bake-pumpkin-cookies_01I don’t make no-bake cookies all that often, but when I do they’re always a hit. Now that it’s pumpkin-everything season, I thought it was high time someone made a pumpkin adaptation of this classic no-bake cookie! That someone, I guess, was me because I’m sharing the recipe over at BettyCrocker.com. And chances are you already have all the ingredients you need sitting in your pantry. Hop on over for the full recipe and step-by-step instructions: Quick and Easy Pumpkin No-Bake Cookies.

Madison

 

Food & Recipes

From the Archives: Fritos Scotcheroos

October 30, 2015
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Today, just in time for Saturday football games and Halloween, I’m dusting off a recipe from the archives. Joe had a work potluck today and specifically requested that I make these Fritos Scotcheroos. And who am I to deny Joe and his co-workers these amazing bars?

Before we get too far, let’s be clear: These are not healthy in any way. In fact, I think I remarked yesterday while making them that they might be the least healthy recipe on the site. But there is a time and place for over-the-top decadence, and when you’re looking to indulge, I think these bars are a pretty good option. They are the prefect mix of sweet and salty! Just be sure to cut them small to avoid going over-the-top.

You can find the recipe HERE

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Food & Recipes

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

September 22, 2015

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Joe recently celebrated his 28th birthday. I can’t believe that we’ve been celebrating birthdays together for the last 6 years. Where in the world has the time gone? This husband of mine, well I have to say that I think he’s the best. The nearly 4+ years we’ve been married and the years we dated before that (including a little while in high school, too!) have been some of the most wonderful, heartbreaking, difficult, joy-filled years of my life. Isn’t that what doing life with someone else is all about? It’s a study in contrasts, it’s work and elbow grease and it’s always, absolutely worth it.

So, my love, this year and every year I celebrate you. Your go-get-em attitude, your stubborn nature, your zest for life, toughness and compassion all rolled into one. You’re the best dad for Ainsley and the best husband for me. We couldn’t be more thankful for your presence in our life and I pray for many, many more birthdays to come. Here’s to making 28 our best year yet!

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Also: I made yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting for Joe’s birthday. And, gasp!, I used a boxed mix. Because I love Betty Crocker and because sometimes it’s really all about the frosting anyway. :) The recipe below is just for the frosting, because I’m sure you don’t need me to repeat the instructions for making cake from a box!

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, if necessary to reach spreading consistency
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate chips and butter, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. In a large stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter-chocolate mixture, sour cream, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and well-combined. If necessary, add a little milk to reach a firm but spreadable consistency. Store frosted cake or frosting in the refrigerator.

 

Food & Recipes

Almond Flour + Coconut Flour Coffee Cake

July 27, 2015

This post is brought to you in partnership with Lavazza. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe around these parts. Truth be told, having a baby has hit my cooking game hard and I’ve been ever so slowly working my way back into the kitchen. Mornings have been all about quick, nutrient-packed smoothies and all the coffee, because Miss Ainsley still doesn’t have that whole sleeping through the night thing down. When you have a baby, it seems like everyone wants to talk about your baby’s sleep. “How is she sleeping?” is by far the most common question that I’ve received over the past five months. And when your baby isn’t sleeping great? Well it can feel a bit discouraging. In all fairness, Ainsley isn’t a bad sleeper or a good sleeper, just a very average sleeper. Now that I’ve accepted that fact, it’s easier to not be bothered by the night wakings and sleep deprivation.

When you have a baby, everything sort of comes to a halt in your life. My world? Totally rocked. I’ve been slowly “re-claiming” my life by venturing back into running and working out, cooking, spending time away from Ainsley and doing things I’m passionate about. It’s a balancing act to find the time to still be “you” while taking on this huge responsibility of mommy! Anyway, I digress…

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