Baby Shower

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Just two weeks after the craziness of the holidays I was in charge of throwing a baby shower for our friends T & K. It is their first baby and as a mom of 3 boys, it was kind of fun to throw a girly party.

We had lots of yummy food and I spent all night the night before decorating. Guests wrote funny messages on diapers and advice and well-wishes in a notebook for the parents. We had labor-predicting bracelets as favors and a onesie decorating station. I made squares of my favorite fabrics from my stash into iron-on patches so our guests could create a wearable masterpiece. I also put out fabric markers and paints. We got 16 onesies that were definitely cute enough for Baby Sophia to actually wear. I was really proud of how everything turned out and I think everyone had fun. The parents-to-be definitely got a lot of great presents!
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Share the Scoby Love

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With every batch of kombucha that is made, the scoby starts to get a bit thicker. Translucent gummy goodness is a sign that the scoby is having a baby. I hadn’t separated my fused mama/baby scoby until this last batch. I realized that as the holidays approach maybe a little starter kit with a scoby (swimming in the brew it was born in) directions and helpful hints (handwritten for a personal touch) and a bottle of my latest batch may be a fun gift for one of the kombucha lovers in my life.

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I know so many people who enjoy a bottle of store bought kombucha, and most probably don’t enjoy the $4 price tag. Just like anything else, it’s so cheap to make and I achieved success with my very first batch with zero experience or knowledge prior to giving it a shot. I have read a lot of blogs and websites discussing methods and equipment and was able to get a pretty solid working technique down quickly. (although I did use a spicy tea last time without realizing the essential oils may be harmful to my scoby, I guess we’ll see if it is ok by how my current batch pans out)

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Williams-Sonoma sells this kit online for $70 and even though the glass jar is cool, I think it’s a total scam. I don’t think I’ve spent $20 on supplies and I’m on my 5th batch.

I think I have a recipient in mind for my first little kit, if I get a good response I may continue to spread the scoby love around.

What are your favorite DIY gifts to give this time of year?

Baked Sunday Mornings: Good Morning Sunshine Bars

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I was really excited about this recipe, it’s something I knew everyone would love and it was a great quick and easy treat to throw together, even on a busy week night.

I had a friend in town who happened to be vegan so I cut a few pieces for her before I added the milk chocolate. I was feeling lazy so I just melted the chips in a glass bowl and used a teaspoon to Jackson Pollock the top of the bars.

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I have to say, these were perfect. I loved them immediately after they were made and they were amazing in the morning with coffee. They were definitely NOT a morning treat for my boys, they got them in the evening after dinner.

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The bars were a yummy and elegant upgrade from the usual cereal concoction: rice crispy treats. These would be great for one of the many bake sales we have at the boys’ school and I know I’ll be making these again sooner than later!

Go over and see what everyone else thought!!

Next up: Antique Caramel Cake!! I’ve wanted to try this one and there are two good things about it–1. It uses ingredients I almost always have on hand 2. It’s only two layers so I shouldn’t have a lot leftover. I’m going to try and plan making this around dinner plans, Baked cakes are always perfect for sharing with friends!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake

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When it came time to bake this cheesecake I realized I had an 8″ and a 10″ springform pan, but not a 9″. Ah, well. We were going to dinner at our friends’ house so the 10″ seemed like the way to go.

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I increased the amounts a bit for the crust to accommodate the bigger pan. I wasn’t sure how far up the filling would go so I extended the crust to the top of the pan. I had a bit of crust leftover, so that went into the freezer to be made into Compost Cookies at some point in the future.

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It seemed to take forever to get to 160 degrees. I know it was because of the bigger pan, but finally after about 80 minutes it was all set. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before we had to leave for dinner. (it’s a bit hard to bake with three littles running around! 😉

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We popped it in their freezer the second we got there and settled in to get some very much-needed grownup conversation/cocktail time. Our five wild boys entertained each other and it was a really nice way to end a stressful week.

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After a lovely dinner of tacos and sampling assorted ciders (we all really want it to be fall now) we decided to cut the cheesecake. It had been in the freezer for about two hours and was chilled through. I forgot to bring almonds for garnish so I had to use a larger amount of sifted powdered sugar to cover the 3 thermometer holes. (I’m so glad I didn’t attempt to eyeball it, I would have seriously under-baked it)

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The verdict from the grownups: it was really great, a nice light way to end a meal and a nice balance with the beverages we were drinking. The kids weren’t as into it at all. The filling wasn’t sweet enough for them, but they did all like the crust.

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I hate to admit that I did not seek out fresh ricotta and I can see how that would have made a huge difference in the filling. I also didn’t buy amaretto, I subbed fresh orange juice instead. I loved the almond-orange combo and would definitely make this again. If I wasn’t going to use fresh ricotta next time I would add a bit of honey or more orange or bite the bullet and buy the amaretto. The filling was nice but not quite perfect. (in my perfectionistic opinion) I did notice that unlike a lot of my cream cheese-based cheesecakes this one didn’t crack at all, the top stayed smooth and beautiful.

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Overall I really really liked it and will definitely add it to the rotation. I love sharing food with family and friends and was glad I could include this cheesecake in our festivities.

Go over and see if my fellow bakers were less cheap/lazy than me and if using fresh ricotta improved their fillings!

Next up: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles….awwww yeah!!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies

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It’s a miracle these cookies ended up in the oven– the dough was so smooth and tasty on it’s own. Almost like pudding.

And if you know me at all, you know that chocolate pudding is one of my huge weaknesses.

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But they did get baked and I was very happy with the final product. Soft and chewy cookie, perfect size. They taste even better as they cool. I used a medium scoop and got about 30 cookies.

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We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and my sweetie suggested I make homemade chocolate malt ice cream sandwiches for the dessert.

I was planning on making these cookies for them but loved CCCSCs so much that I made a second batch of dough just for the sandwiches. (without chocolate chips)

The original batch of cookies I am definitely keeping for snacking. 🙂

I had a ladies’ clothing swap to go to and took a bag of cookies with me. Otherwise I know I would have single-handedly eaten them all!

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Since I had to throw out more than half of my Mississippi Mud Pie, I was happy to share the cookies with friends. We made a valiant effort, but it was just too much pie for two people to handle. A batch of cookies is much easier to finish off!

I’ll include the outcome of the ice cream sandwiches in a separate post, it was my first time making chocolate malt ice cream and I can’t wait to let you know how it turned out!

In the meantime head over and see how my Baked Sunday Mornings friends’ cookies turned out!

Next up: (in two weeks) Banana Mousse Parfaits! Can’t Wait!