1-2-3 Lemon Cookies

My mother is a baker; the kitchen barstools, something of a counseling couch in my childhood home.

This isn’t breaking news to anyone who befriended any of our family in the last 1-to-30 years, plus is likely 100% responsible for my personal sweet tooth and affinity for knowing my way around a spatula. I spent hours of adolescence sitting at the counter watching my mother bake, talking, and consciously or not, committing her motions to memory. A love of baking for me is as much about the sugar as it is about the bond it gives us.

In no small part due to our regular kitchen-counter counseling sessions, there are parts of baking & cooking that come as naturally to me as laughing. I don’t remember exactly when or where I actually learned some of it all. In the same way, there are “recipes” that I just know. One of them is this 1-2-3 Cake Mix Cookie -a lifesaver on a day I want to bake, but not really really bake, you feel me?

God bless you, Betty Crocker & Sandy Mosier for the gift of these cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 boxed cake mix of choice (in the summer for me, it’s always lemon. Give me lemon EVERYTHING in the summer.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

Today, I added a good squeeze of 1/2 a lemon because I had one, and I wanted to for a boost of lemon flavor (non-essential, obviously).

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Mix up all of the ingredients. The dough will be a bit sticky-looking.
  • Drop about a teaspoon size onto your greased cookie sheet, or in my case, my pizza stone that I cook everything on (ungreased).
  • Bake for about 9 minutes! Brown the little cookie bottoms, and expect them to be delightfully chewy.
  • I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar today as they cooled, because I’m nothing if not vain about cookie presentation, #priorities.

(Dough to Done for reference.)

Autumn Indulgences: my 4 c’s

“I love fall.” –The thread uniting basic white girls across America the moment temperatures dip just low enough to bust out a blanket scarf and snap a story sipping pumpkin spiced anything logo’d with the green mermaid stamp of approval . Truth: I am not immune to this sentiment. There’s a reason it’s so wildly and mockably popular! Fall is terrific. To me, it’s the seasonal precursor to the most wonderful time of the year –a little taste of the best season to come, but everyone isn’t grumpy about being cold or sharing the road with shoppers and sludge, yet.

I also find it an easier season than ev.er. to convince myself I deserve/need/earned/can’t-live-without a serious number of guilty pleasures.

Coffee
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Starbucks run. Keep your pumpkin-spice, though, and I will drink all of the Chai Tea Lattes you have with a side of *one of everything* on the holiday menu, thanks.

The ole’ Karber coffee maker tends to start working double-time, too, with the changing of the leaves (in the interest of still keeping some of our money in the bank). IMG_9690

Ye true coffee geeks across America forgive me – I love me some local beans, too, but more often than not I’m brewing:

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You guessed it. Starbucks Medium House Blend + Bailey’s (non-alcoholic) Vanilla Creamer

Smooth. Easy. Available at Kroger. Typically on sale at Kroger. Makes my house smell like I’m lounging in a super fleek Starbucks, minus congregations of high-schoolers and SAHMs, plus I don’t have to wear real pants (admittingly a point less to do with the coffee bean concept, and more with at-home brew.)

Cardigans
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Sweater weather. Longline/Boyfriend/Duster/Maxi/Squishy-Blanket-Disguised-as-Sweaters cardigans have been my favorite of favorite fall obsessions.

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Although sweater-weather south of the Texas Panhandle (I’m realizing) is more of a state of mind than an actual thing, frigid office air conditioners have still bred plenty of necessity to humor this card-carrying cardigan hoarder. Plus (!), now that we’re nearly all the way to gosh-dang Thanksgiving, Mother Nature is *finally* beginning to see things my way around here, too.

A few that top my lust list (at a variety of price-points):

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Candles
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use a million tiny fires around my apartment to warm up!” -Okay, obviously not. Fall candles just smell the coziest, and as temperatures dip, who doesn’t just want to feel cozy?

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I have -easily- two to ten candles lit on any given evening in our 900ish square feet of space (which is all about having scents that blend, as much as it is having a potential candle addiction). 2 for $24 Bath & Body sale? Yankee Candles from Home Goods? Anthro-anything? I don’t discriminate, although I naturally end up with an overflow of B&B candles 10:1.

Calories
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), better really start packing it on for hibernation!” –What I think my mind actually convinces my stomach needs to happen for the last three months of the year. (If only.)

From carrot cake in the break room, sharing meals with company passing through, Friendsgivings, practicing Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, to snacking on friend’s practiced Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, why is there more. food. everywhere. starting this time of year?

Rarely is it the healthy stuff, either. It’s the good stuff. Nobody’s whipping up extra fruit salads or lettuce wraps –it’s the heavy, sugary, gluten-laden, glorious breads, cakes, pies, cookies and candies. This is such a fun time of year to bake for the same reason I burn through ten trillion candles – I love the coziness of baked goods.

I tried a new-to-me, easy recipe, and I feel like you need it in your life: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread.

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It’s fairly heavy bread, with a heavenly balance of banana and cinnamon. Just trust me and follow the link for the road map to banana bread bliss.

Do you have any obsessions particular to fall, or have you read this not understanding a single word of my crazy? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Celebrating National Doughnut Day: Baked Doughnuts

National Donut Day - Baked Doughnuts

Today is National Doughnut Day. Why we’re all in the office is beyond me. Some sort of three day weekend seems appropriate here.

Everyone has an “I could be filled to the brim, but there’s always room for that food” food. The hands down winner out of the entire food universe for my belly: Doughnuts. Or Donuts. I don’t discriminate deep fried goodness.

Something I missed deeply in our short stint living in the Midwest: doughnut shops. Like real doughnut shops. Sort of everywhere. To my freshly Kentuckian dismay, I didn’t realize an abundance of specialty doughnut bakeries was Texan. (I will neither confirm or deny the correlation between this unpleasant discovery and our move back to Texas. Nope.)

I’m not talking Dunkin’ Donuts (which I actually had for the first time living in Louisville.) That’s like comparing mass produced Walmart cupcakes to the cupcakes of your favorite local cupcakery. Good? Sure. The same? No way, dude.

What started as a cute, little kitchen adventure this week for me to try my hand at crafting one of my favorite sweets became a full-on feast of breakfast pastries fit to rival a Thanksgiving dinner. (I will neither confirm or deny the level of hyperbole in that statement.)

Donuts

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As a novice doughnut maker, I chose the baking avenue opposed to frying -this time. My confidence levels are pretty high in the doughnut department now. We’ll see what happens.

Below are the links to the different types of donuts + glazes featured. I mixed and matched doughnut to glaze to my little heart’s content from different websites.

The first recipe I tried, here, are a very basic buttermilk cake doughnut with a simple super sweet vanilla-ish icing glaze, here, that I dyed pink with food coloring and topped with sprinkles. Because if it isn’t obvious I have a thing for sprinkles.

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Trivia:  What do you get when you fill the doughnut pan cavities with a liiiittle too much batter?

Finger Cupcakes

Finger Cupcakes!! (as my witty husband so loving started calling them as my first attempt at obviously not doughnuts were pulled from the oven. I feel a multi-million dollar industry in its infancy.)

But, second time’s a charm.

Finger cupcakes

Honestly? The whole batch basically tasted like the cutest little doughnut-shaped cupcakes. Which was delicious. I’m definitely saving this one for the next baby shower or gender reveal brunch/breakfast I’m in charge of. Little baby pink and blue cake donuts? Yes.

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The second doughnut I tried was a blueberry cake with a simple sweet glaze, both here. They looked fantastic, but didn’t taste very… blueberry. The spices of the recipe overpowered any blueberry flavor, in my very humble opinion, which might forever be a mystery to me. (The recipe also involves the word “curdle” which is up there with my least favorite words of the English language.)

The third doughnut was this simple recipe + this maple glaze. This might have been my favorite doughnut tasting cake doughnut, and the glaze was pretty delicious, too. They were definitely best with the maple glaze completely fresh, although extremely sticky. The glaze will soak in overnight, not become a set icing. Which is totally tasty heated up in its own way.

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Judging that all of the Finger Cupcakes have miraculously disappeared from the kitchen, I would say the buttermilk pink minis were Austin’s favorite, too.

TIP:

The most helpful hint I picked up in my “research” was to spoon the dough into a Ziplock, clip one corner, and pipe the dough into the doughnut pan cavities. Saved. My. Butt. And basically this entire project.

Donut making Tip

I learned this week there’s a whole wide world of doughnut recipes I’m about to become extremely obsessed with testing. If you have a recipe to shoot my way or plan on trying any of these, comment below or with the talking bubble near the title! (And hey, if anyone knows a killer blueberry recipe, I’m all ears.)

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake Brownies

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Can we agree that Bailey’s Irish Cream is a little slice of heaven on earth?

If you’re unfamiliar, this sweet, creamy whiskey based liqueur is divine for sipping on the rocks -or my personal favorite- mixing into a freshly brewed cup of joe for what we refer to as “happy coffee” in the Karber house.

I’ve been obsessed since turning 21, and darn near lost my mind when I found this recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake Brownies. If you’re throwing any St. Patty’s celebrations this weekend, you’ll want to add these to the menu.

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Fudgey, flaky homemade brownie layers, creamy cheesecake in between, and the perfect amount of Bailey’s to make these an indulgence worth every last calorie.

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INGREDIENTS 
Serves: 24 (1 9×13-inch pan)

Brownie Layers:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set to the side.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate, careful not to scorch, stirring gently until smooth and shiny. Cool slightly.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  5. Whisk together eggs, sugar and Irish cream in a larger mixing bowl until combined.
  6. Pour in chocolate/butter mixture and continue to whisk until combined.
  7. Fold in flour mixture with spatula, until just combined. Set aside.
  8. Make cheesecake layer: With a mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add Irish cream liqueur, egg, and yolk; beat until well combined.
  9. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. Spread cheesecake filling evenly across batter then top with remaining batter, smoothing out the top.
  10. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan.

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Does it get more Irish than this? St. Patrick’s Day has a fighting chance as a top holiday, yet.

Have you ever baked with Bailey’s, or have a St. Patrick’s Day dessert I should try? Comment below or with the little talking bubble near the title!

One of the best cookies I’ve ever made ever.

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Thanksgiving a few weeks out, I was poking around looking for something sweet to try and found one of those “oh my goodness that might be one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life” kind of cookie recipes:  Salted Caramel Coconut Thumb Print Cookies.

(Did your mouth water a little reading that? It should have –mine just did a little.)

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The classic shortbread. The toasted coconut. The smooth caramel. The gritty sea salt. Heaven.

When my timer rang, I was too anxious to wait for them to cool before immediately taste testing to see how they turned out. My first thought was oh wow, should I even add topping? That cookie could stand on its own…

But then while waiting for them to cool, I took a piece of one that had crumbled apart in the oven and dunked it in a little caramel drizzle just to see and oh my goodness, that seriously kicked it up a notch…

And then they actually all cooled, and I topped them with caramel and a little sprinkle of sea salt and BAM– there it was, these cookies were on a whole new level. Thank you Pinterest, thank you Mom for the baking genes, thank you whoever realized salt and caramel belong together, and thank you Martha Stewart for your genius recipe. 

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Now mine aren’t quite as pretty as Martha’s (and let’s be honest, probably not as delicious either), but these cookies are pretty darn delicious –and I had a pretty great time making them.

Are they involved? Yes. If you exclusively bake with break and bake dough then these might feel like an undertaking, but they’re nothing crazy. This is the kind of recipe that really lets you work with your hands, be inside your head for a little bit, and feel like you’ve truly made something –right before scarfing down a whole heaping plateful with a glass of milk.

I’ll give you Martha’s recipe, then a few notes of my own.

CaramelCookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Large, flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and beat to combine. Press dough together in plastic wrap, then roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Dip each ball in beaten egg, and roll in coconut. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press an indentation into each with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheets from oven, and re-press indentations. Bake cookies until golden, 9 to 10 minutes more. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

  2. Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt. Rewarm caramel if it hardens before all cookies are filled.

ROBIN’S NOTES

  • I actually didn’t do the whole melt the candies and mix with cream thing, but I wish I would have. For the sake of shortcuts and not being able to find caramel candies at my Kroger, these are topped with caramel sauce out of a jar. It’s a bit runny, and of course didn’t set like the melted candies would have. I think it could have totally helped my presentation to do it the right way. (But they are mmm mmm good.)
  • I also didn’t press my dough in plastic wrap, which again could have aided the presentation, but I probably will always skip this step for no other reason than because I don’t want to. I did find the cookies I made in the first round that went in the oven turned out best. I definitely spent the most time packing and rolling those little dough balls tightly and got a little sloppy toward the end, and as I mentioned above some of those fell apart in the oven. (If you have a husband, he’ll eat up the little broken pieces gladly while he waits for you to let him touch the others –experience speaking.)
  • Wow, did I get a little crazy with the coconut? I thought I sort of nailed it until I compared photos and realized I may have gone a little coc-o-nuts (Ha! Aren’t I hilarious?) And I’ll  probably always do it like this because I really like coconut.
  • When cookie-recipe-makers say something like roll dough into 1” spheres…I don’t really know what that means. I feel like it’s something similar to telling your hairdresser you want to take an inch off –an inch means thirty different things to thirty different people. I usually just make what I feel like is a good sized cookie dough ball and go from there. I decided I thought mine might be a little big, and added about 1-2 minutes of cooking time because they weren’t quite done after the 20 minutes. Doing this, this recipe still yields about 30 cookies (and a couple little crumble snacks.)

For gifting, for feasting, or for personally pigging out in front of Netflix from under a cozy blanket, this is the best time of year for trying out fun, new food. Let me know what you think if you’ve tried this recipe or plan to, comment below or using the little talking-bubble-thing near the title!

Simple (-y amazing) Banana Pancakes

Daily Sprinkles Easy Banana Pancakes

I’m a craves-waffles-at-midnight kind of breakfast food person. I absolutely love it.

While we grew up, my mom always felt guilty for working, and made a point of waking up early to ensure we ate a hot breakfast before she left to teach school (later realizing our friends’ stay-at-home-moms mostly slept in and fed their kids cereal.) I believe my love of all things breakfast stems from these early childhood memories (coupled with my insane morning person tendencies.)

 The calm, rainy Saturday us Kentuckians experienced this past weekend simply screamed Jack Johnson mellow acoustics, inspiring me to venture into the world of banana pancakes for the first time.

Boy oh boy, am I glad I did. So glad in fact, I’m sharing the recipe with you in case you’ve had similar depravity from banana pancakes in your life. I’m hooked.

Daily Sprinkles Easy Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Wheat Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon (like, a teaspoon plus a pinch -I love Cinnamon.)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp White Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Bananas (mashed)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

Directions

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, sugar).
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients in a medium bowl (mashed bananas, egg, milk, vanilla, vegetable oil).
  3. Stir dry flour mixture slowly into wet banana mixture (batter will be lumpy).
  4. Pour roughly 1/2 cup of batter onto heated griddle, cooking both sides until golden brown. (Yields 6 pancakes.)

(Slightly tweaked from this easy recipe on My Baking Addiction to fit our personal tastes.)

As shown above, we garnished ours with creamy peanut butter, walnuts, and maple syrup. Yum.

Let me know how yours turn out, and what other toppings you like to use! Comment below or by clicking on the little thought bubble up near the title.

 

Home Sweet …How did I get here?

Really, the time to start a blog would have been about 10 months ago. When I tell you why, though, you’ll understand why it never happened, (and why the stories from that time were probably gold).

The last half of 2013 I was finishing my bachelor’s degree with a 17-hour course load, working in marketing for a financial institution 30 hours a week, packing up my childhood room (and three closets of clothes) in preparation to move cross-country to a state I had never visited, job-hunting online in a state I had never visited, apartment hunting via Internet, too, in a state I had never visited. I was planning a large (and kept getting larger) mostly DIY wedding for New Year’s Eve, and had a surprise root canal the Monday before Thanksgiving. The cherry on top:  back surgery about a month and a half before Christmas (meaning through most of this fun, I was walking like a hunch-back 87-year-old.)

I developed an affinity for wine.

Alive on the other end, I could say that I’m stronger, it built character. I have actual battle scars. But I wouldn’t soon say any of that is really true -except the part about battle scars (lift with your knees, y’all). What we have now is actually the same Robin, maybe more well-rested with fewer caffeine jitters, and in quite a new season of life. In a matter of weeks, I suddenly became a wife, a college graduate, and a resident of Kentucky -leaving the only dot on the globe I’d called home for 22 years.

The past few months have been full of firsts, adjustments, experiments -surprises. I wouldn’t say at the point of normality we’ve finally reached with our lives that every day is super different (for which I’m extremely grateful), but everyday certainly has different sprinkles that make it special.

And that is what this blog is about.

Sprinkles of kitchen successes (and fails), thrifty style ideas, simple DIY projects, an assortment of homemaking tips from a new wife in a new city -the little, pretty things that exist in life for us to enjoy.

I definitely wouldn’t claim to have figured it all out -but I think that’s the point, too. Maybe we can learn something together.

logo(Leave a comment by clicking the conversation bubble  up next to the title of this post!)