Winter Body Scrub

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I couldn’t resist. I had so much extra cinnamon and sugar that I was itching to make a body scrub. I picked up this adorable jar at Target, and here we are!

It’s winter, and let’s be honest, we are all dry and need a good scrub to get that dead skin off (ew).

I actually got a beautiful scrub and body butter set for Christmas and I loved the scrub. The scent was very fresh and I loved it, but I also wanted a sweeter scented one that I could use as well. I found this super easy to make! Hopefully you have everything in your kitchens to create this as well.

(You need a jar)

2 Cups brown sugar

3/8 cup of honey

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cinnamon

You basically just mix all these together in a bowl, and use your hands to mash up the oil and everything together. I added slightly more vanilla to give it a cinnamon-vanilla scent. The coconut scent just barely comes through, so it smells great and it feels amazing.

 

If you try this out, let me know how it goes!

-Heather

 

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Spontaneous Snow Day Baking

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Yesterday was the winter day I had been waiting for.

I’ve waited literally all season for snow, like real, accumulated snow.

As I saw the snow falling I decided to do an impromptu recipe. I’m not here to share the recipe or review these cupcakes. I’m simple sharing the joy of finding a recipe that you have all the ingredients to inside your warm house while the first snow fall of the season is happening.

I wore a big wool skirt from mod cloth and a nice comfy sweater and a frilly apron. And I got to baking. And you know what? I didn’t do anything else yesterday. And it was so fun.

Let this be your invitation to take a day to make up a recipe and have fun with it, no matter how messy it might get. Or redo your room. Or paint a picture. Do something spontaneous this week that takes up your day, that makes you forget about the usual distractions in life. If you do, let me know how it went.

-The Very Spontaneous Heather

A Cozy Autumn Treat

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More than ever, I’ve been looking for more ambitious recipes to try.

When I first looked this up, I thought, “Wow this looks delicious.” When I read how to make it, I put my phone right down. Yeah right! There were so many steps and I was not about to take a day making a cake. About an hour later, I looked at it again.

If you have a good solid amount of time and want to tackle a fun Autumn dessert, I firmly urge you to create this, because it was hands down the best thing I’ve ever baked, ever. I got the original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. 

Ingredients:

Cheesecake Portion:

-16 ounces cream cheese, softened
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 Tablespoon flour (The small amount lets the cheesecake rise)
-3 large eggs

Pumpkin Cake Portion:

-3/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (You can add a bit more for a more intense flavor in the pumpkin part of the cake)
-1 and 1/3 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
-1 cup flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (Again, add more if you want it more flavorful)
-1/4 teaspoon salt

Frosting:

-4 ounces cream cheese, softened
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Add more for more flavor)
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1-2 Tablespoons normal milk
-chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray your Cheesecake Springform pan with a non-stick spray. Wrap aluminum foil on the bottom and tightly around the outside walls of the springform pan. Set it aside to be ready for the Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cake batters.

2. Make the cheesecake first: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium speed in a large bowl – about 3 full minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and flour and beat it on a low level working up to a medium speed. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. Do not overmix the filling after you have added the eggs. Set aside.

3. Make the pumpkin cake:Before adding your ingredients, take your pumpkin and measure it out not a paper towel, and then blot it dry with another paper towel. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and blotted-dry pumpkin together until mixed and there are no bumps in the texture. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix it until it’s smooth. Avoid overmixing the pumpkin cake batter.

4. Spread 1 and 1/2 cups of the pumpkin cake batter over bottom of prepared pan. On top of the pumpkin batter, drop large spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter. (I did this until it almost covered the pumpkin layer.) Add the rest of your remaining Pumpkin Cake batter. Repeat with remaining cream cheese batter. Mine actually covered the pumpkin batter almost completely, as seen in the picture. Do not swirl with a knife. See photo above of what my cake looked like before going into the oven.

5.Find a roasting pan and put your springform pan inside. You’re basically going to have a cheesecake bath and the foil around the springform pan prevents the water from leaking from the bottom. Fill with about 1 inch of hot water. This allows the cake consistency to remain spongy and moist instead of baking like a normal cake.

6. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until the center is almost set. If you find the edges are browning, loosely place aluminum foil on top of the cake as it bakes. Do not open the oven while it bakes, or the cheesecake will crack! When the timer goes off, lift the oven door a crack. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour. After, take it out and let it sit until it’s cooled completely. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight (preferred). Loosen the cheesecake from the rim of the pan and remove the rim.

7. Make the cream cheese frosting (this can be made up to 2 day sin advance – cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.) Make sure your cream cheese is room temperature before starting, it makes a difference. Use a handheld mixer to mix the cream cheese and butter together on a low speed, working your way up to a medium one until the texture is creamy. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on a lower speed for about 30 seconds, then turn up to high speed and beat until it’s a creamy texture. Beat in 1-2 Tablespoons of milk, depending how thick or thin you want the frosting. Spread onto chilled cheesecake. Top with pecans, if desired.

8. Cut into slices and serve cheesecake chilled. This made a lot of very dense, rich cake, so you most likely will have leftovers unless it’s for a party. You can cut the cake into slices and refrigerate them for up to 4 days.

I know this was more complicated than a pumpkin latte, but it was so rewarding and it’s a perfect Thanksgiving dessert idea! Side note- I actually made this on the day of the lunar eclipse, and my mom and I drank some cleansed moon water with our cheesecake the next day!

If you try out the recipe, let me know what you think of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

-Heather

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

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Without noticing, the shift in weather has made me crave the tasty fall drinks that mark the beginning of a new season.

I found this recipe at thekitchn and had to try it out. There were a few changes on the website for people that had tried it and wanted to tweak it, so I gave those directions a go and it turned out beautifully. Everyone who had some was extremely impressed at the pumpkin spice taste.

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
Black Pepper (Just a pinch!)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk (You can add a cream substitute if you want, just nothing too heavy)
1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form

Directions:

  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
  3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
  4. Add the Pumpkin mixture to your coffee or espresso. We used normal, freshly-made coffee and divided the mixture into three cups. Our whipped cream wasn’t home made, but you can do whatever you want for the toppings. Instead of using spices on top, we sprinkled tiny fall leaf sprinkles to make it more festive. (Side note- I never drink caffeine and used decaf coffee. If you generally don’t do well with caffeine, you can still make this recipe!)

If you try out the recipe, let me know what you think! I couldn’t resist doing a fall recipe since it’s getting to be chilly and crisp outside.

-Heather

Chocolate Overload

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Happy June!

I made homemade brownies for the first time yesterday, and I had to share them with you! The recipe I found is from Style Me Pretty. I decided to give them a try, and they were delicious.

 Ready in 40 Minutes                   Moderately Easy                  Made 16 Squares

Ingredients

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch slices
1¼ cups pure cane sugar
¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 cold large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup overflowing cup chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees placing your rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper (we used coconut oil spray but anything will do).
To brown your butter, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, while stirring constantly with a whisk or rubber spatula. After about 5 minutes, you should notice the butter foaming a bit and starting to turn a deep golden color. Keep stirring for another 3-5 minutes until the tiny reddish specks appear and your butter smells nutty and delish.

2. Remove your pan from heat and stir in the sugar until incorporated. Next, stir in the cocoa powder, salt and baking powder until completely blended,. Let this mixture cool for 10 minutes. **Very important to remove mixture from heat source and let cool for 10 minutes or a minimum of 5.

3. Add one of the eggs, stirring the mixture vigorously. Once incorporated fully, add the second egg, again stirring vigorously. The mixture should thicken a bit and have a glossy texture, but shouldn’t separate or become difficult to stir.

4. Add in the vanilla extract and the flour, stirring until just incorporated. Now, beat them brownies! Stir vigorously for about 1 minute.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips. Or chocolate slivers or almonds or whatever else you can dream up. Traditionalists…stick to chocolate chips or chunks and you can’t go wrong.

6. Pour batter in the lined pan, swirling the top with a knife if so you fancy,.

7. Bake on the lower rack for about 25 minutes. Some ovens might go a little longer, but the important thing is not to overcook.
Once the brownies are completely cool, dig in. And maybe scoop some vanilla ice cream on top.

-Heather

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

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I was in the baking mood yesterday and though it was time for chocolate chip cookies. After being sick for about 2 weeks, I was happy that I was feeling myself again. I love baking, it usually brightens my spirits. I did a twist on my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe.
First of all, this was the first time I’ve used a pudding mix instead of granulated sugar. We still used brown sugar, but the taste of the pudding mix replaces the large amount of normal sugar that is usually used for cookies. I just used a Jello Vanilla Pudding package. The recipe called for 4 ounces, and the Jello packed was 3.4 ounces. But it all worked just the same!

These are pretty rich, so I suggest if you’re making them that you make a lot of small ones so you can eat them in small doses. That’s what I did and everyone seemed to like the portions. Also, this might be a good recipe for an Easter dessert! Lots of chocolate and great flavor.

Also, I didn’t crush up my oreos too much. I left some of them quite big and it made for interesting cookies!

I got this recipe from Food Fanatic. I was excited to find an oreo cookie recipe that wasn’t the ones where you just bake the whole oreo. That sounds good, but would be way too much for me! This gives enough of oreo flavor without being overwhelming. I’m really happy with how them came out.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces vanilla pudding mix, instant
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
10 oreos, crumbled and crushed
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant pudding, and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg plus egg white and mix until just combined.
4. Add the flour-pudding mixture and mix until the dough is moist all the way through. Then stir in the crushed Oreos and chocolate chips.
5. Spoon the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets by the rounded teaspoon (these cookies are small!) about 2″ apart.
Bake for 10- 12 minutes.
6. Let the cookies cool slightly before removing them from the cookie sheet.

10 Favorite Foods

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First off, how could I not have done a favorite food post before? I think one of the most enriching parts of life is what food we choose to eat. And to me, it’s one of the more exciting things in my day. I love food! I’ve picked out my 10 favorite foods to share with you today.

1. Macarons

I’m talking about the French ones, and the ones pictured are some that I got at the Patisserie on Newbury Street in Boston, and this picture I took pretty much showcases how delicious they are.

2. Cheese

I know this is kind of vague because most of my favorite foods have cheese in them. But I just love cheese! I love going to fancy parties where there are cheese platters. My nonnie calls me a “cheeser”.

3. French Toast

I think this has become my favorite breakfast food. I used to love chocolate chip pancakes the best, but French toast has come in first now. My boyfriend makes the best version by using lots of syrup and cinnamon when cooking it, and it’s literally to die for. I also like having fruit on top of it. There is so much that you can do with flavoring in French toast, so it’s made my list.

4. Burgers

I’m slowly realizing this unhealthy list. But burgers are so delicious and usually if I’m having a hard week, a nice Five Guys burger will do the trick for me.

5. Salad

Finally, a healthy option. If I’m going out for lunch, my everyday choice is usually a salad because it refuels me and doesn’t leave me feeling groggy from 1-5 p.m. when I have a bunch of work to do. My favorite salads are Southwest and Asian Chicken.

6. Pasta

I’m Italian, so I have pasta around twice a week (minimum). I know this isn’t particularly healthy, but I grew up on spaghetti! I love Alfredo and Penne A La Vodka sauces. My favorite pasta is from a small gourmet restaurant down the street from my house.

7. Ice Cream

I have a serious weakness for ice cream. I’ll even eat it in the winter or fall, it’s so good that I just don’t care. My favorite flavors are Cookie Dough and Peppermint Stick. However, me and my friends have been going crazy for Ben & Jerry’s Core ice creams lately.

8. Chocolate

How could I not include this? I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate most of the time. Some of my favorites are Hazelnut and dark chocolate, Ghirardelli’s mint chocolate squares, and the Orange chocolates that you crack and they split into slices. I usually get a bar of chocolate when I’m making the drive to Boston, and it’s the best treat for the road. Dark chocolate is also slightly better for you (that’s what I keep telling myself).

9. Tuna Melts

This is probably the least luxurious food on the list. However, I love a god tuna melt for lunch. I love getting it at Subway, but I also love making at my house. A can of tuna is pretty cheap, and toasting it on some good bread with cheese makes my whole afternoon happier. I also sprinkle parmesan on top after it’s been toasted and it’s a delicious touch.

10. Pizza

If you ask anyone who knows me at all, they’ll tell you my favorite food is absolutely pizza, and I literally eat it almost every other day (again, not that healthy).

What are your favorite foods?

-Heather

Autumn Apple Cake

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Hello everyone!

I made a fun apple cake yesterday and it ended up being a hit! It really isn’t that hard, and this was my first cake recipe from scratch.

This is a chunkier apple cake, and the size of the chunks reminds me a lot of apple pie. But the consistency of the cake is amazing with the apple, and it’s thicker like a coffee cake.

It seems like you’ll need a lot for this recipe, but honestly I had all the ingredients but the apples and custard right in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy this little fall treat!

Ingredients: 

3 c flour

2 t baking powder

1/8 t salt

1/4 t cloves (ground)

1/4 t nutmeg (ground)

6 oz butter (can be cold)

3/4 c sugar

2 large Granny Smith apples and 2 large Golden Delicious apples (or just 4 Granny Smith if you’d like)

2 eggs

2/4 c milk

2 T sugar (for top of cake)

1 pack of vanilla jello pudding (for an easy custard)

 

Directions:

1. Grease and flour a taller pan to give it a thick up-and-down shape

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves together in a big mixing bowl

4. Cut your butter into pieces and mix it with your fingers. That’s right, just keep mushing the butter into the flour mixture until it’s the same consistency and a bit crumbly. (Obviously wash your hands before this)

5. Add the sugar to the flour mixture

6. Peel and cut your apples. We took the cores out of the apples, split them into 4 pieces, and cut each of those 3 or 4 times. Some pieces were chunky, but it works well for the cake.

7. Add the apples to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly

8. In a small bowl, mix milk and eggs together, and then add to the apple mixture and mix until you get a very dough-y batter.

9. Empty the dough into the ready pan and try to smooth out every part with a spatula or spoon.

10. Pour the sugar on top and all over the surface of the batter before putting it into the oven

11. Let it cook for 40-50 minutes (with a smaller pan, mine was completely ready at 40 minutes) and check when it comes out by sticking a toothpick in the middle

12. For the custard sauce, you could make your own from scratch, but I was hesitant to do that this time. I bought a vanilla jello pudding pack and added the milk over the stove until it came to a low boil. While it was still thin, I poured it on top of the slices, and it worked beautifully with the cake!

 

I was pretty proud of this cake to be honest with you! It’s perfect for a cold autumn night with your friends or family (as you can see, Rex liked the cake too).

Try this out and tell me what you think!

-Heather

 

Pumpkin Brownies

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Hello there!

I made the simplest of recipes last night, but I thought it would be a fun little one to share. I also got these adorable recipe cards from Anthropologie and they’re perfect for my baking posts so you can all see how to make the brownies and what you’ll need.

The 1 can of pie is exactly what you think, it’s pumpkin pie filling. These brownies are not the texture of normal brownies, so beware! They are very rich and have that pumpkin taste, but it isn’t too overpowering.

Try it out and let me know what you think,

-Heather

Peanut Butter Cookies with Ingredients Sitting in your Kitchen!

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Hey everyone!

I made a pretty easy peanut butter cookie recipe, and all the ingredients are easily found right in your kitchen. I got the recipe off of Better Homes and Gardens, so go check out the website for the specifics. You really just need the basics: 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 and 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder, and an egg.

I first mixed the butter and peanut  butter in a big bowl because all the ingredients are being mixed in, so you’ll need a lot of room for everything. After the butter and peanut butter mixture is smooth and creamy, start adding the granulated and brown sugar.

After mixing in the sugars, I added the egg and beat that in until it was even. Then I added the vanilla extract and baking soda as well as the baking powder. The consistency at this point is kind of gritty.

I then mixed in the flour, and I really had to mix this in good because it was a bit dry until I worked it into the batter. I then refrigerated the dough while waiting for the oven to eat to 375 degrees. It’s easier to form the dough into 1 inch balls while it isn’t so sticky, so refrigerating helps with that a bit. After waiting about ten minutes I rolled the balls and put them in a small ball with a good amount of granulated sugar so the dough is coated in sugar. You then place them on the cookie sheet evenly.

I used a fork to press into the dough before putting it in the oven. However, it was sticking to the fork, so I filled a glass with water and dipped the fork in before each cookie so the dough didn’t stick. I cooked them about 7 or 8 minutes, or until they got too brown around the edges. Tell me what you think!

 

-Heather