Recipe: Raspberry-Dusted Lemon Donuts

Thankfulness is something that's important to me. Maybe that sounds weird and a little obvious but I feel like I may care about it (or at least think about it) more than other people. It's important to let people know that you care about them and value whatever small amount of time they put into making your life better. And when it comes to nice things you can do to show someone that you care about them, my favorite one is creating food for them. Whether it's baking a cake for a birthday, making soup when someone's sick, or whipping together cookies to tell someone thank you, making food for someone has the perfect amount of "above and beyond-ness" to make people feel cared about and loved.

Baking with someone in mind feels personal and sweet. You need to remember that they are a total chocolate addict or maybe that they hate lemon desserts. And though any amount of thankfulness is good, baking takes a little extra time. Time you used to make something for someone important to you.

With the current state of the country, I'm enjoying how much focus is being placed on creating a kinder world to combat recent events. This week, think about throwing some cookies in the oven to thank your coworkers. Make your significant other some donuts for no reason other to say i love you. Invite your friends over for brunch and let them know how much you appreciate them. Every little bit helps in creating a kinder, more thankful (and sweeter) world. <3

Raspberry-Dusted Lemon Donuts

Makes 12 donuts

For Donuts:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 oz freeze dried raspberries, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare donut pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin by mixing lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and working the two together with a spoon (or fingers) until mixture is clumpy and fragrant. In a large bowl, mix together flour, lemon sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands) cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is sand-like with bits of butter throughout.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in sour cream and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Before completely combined, add the lemon juice and continue to fold together until mixture is smooth.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe the batter evenly among the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Once the donuts are fully cooled, place wax paper underneath your cooling rack and start making your glaze. Add powdered sugar and water into a medium saucepan and start whisking them together. The mixture will be very stiff and not come together easily. Once it is mostly combined, heat glaze over medium heat, whisking frequently. The glaze will start to come together and thin out. Remove from heat when the mixture is warm but not hot. Dip each donut into the glaze and let cool on the rack. The glaze will harden quickly, so after dipping each donut, sprinkle with crushed raspberries and press them lightly with your fingers.

Keep donuts in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Recipe: Double Chocolate Crumb Sour Cream Cake

It's Tuesday and I've brought you chocolate. 

Now, I'm not an all-the-chocolate-all-the-time-give-me-that-lava-cake kinda girl. I like chocolate, but not in large amounts. I want my dessert to be a little more balanced. Give me a vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream or a fudgy brownie with vanilla frosting and I'm good to go.  

But this cake gives you that multi-layers of chocolate feel, without being overwhelming. Moist sour cream cake with chocolate chips throughout? Check. Chocolate Crumb? Check. Extra chocolate chips added to the crumb for good measure? Double Check. Your chocolate addicted friends will be impressed and you get to use up some of those bags of chocolate chips you have lying around! Which is always a win for me. Let's get to it.

Double Chocolate Crumb Sour Cream Cake

Yields one loaf cake

For cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For topping:
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf by buttering the bottom and walls. Line with a piece of parchment paper that's long enough to hang over on both of the long sides of the pan. Press parchment paper against butter so it sticks.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt until combined. In a separate bowl, toss chocolate chips with a tablespoon of flour and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla until thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix in half of the dry ingredients. Add sour cream and combine. Scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold in floured chocolate chips until they are evenly throughout the batter and scrape into the prepared loaf pan.

To make your topping, mix together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add in cubed butter and using a pastry blender or your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and small pieces of butter are throughout. Stir in chocolate chips. Evenly distribute crumb topping over the cake batter.

Bake cake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean of batter. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes and then use the parchment paper to remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!


Cocktail: Pomegranate Gin Slush

It's my birthday and you better believe I'm celebrating it from weekend to weekend. I know that a lot of people aren't fond of birthdays, and maybe I won't be when I'm 65 years old, but until then I'm going to love the hell out of my birthday. I make sure to take a vacation day from work, take the day to relax and think about my life and what I've created for myself, feel grateful, get together with friends, and definitely make sure I eat a good meal (or two).

So because we need to take a moment and celebrate, we're breaking out the blender for this cocktail. I know it's winter and cold and blah blah blah, but this drink is basically an adult slurpee and that's worth turning up the heat and enjoying a frozen drink.

I hope you all have a lovely week, because I'm incredibly grateful for those of you following along at home. I'm thankful that people come to this little part of the internet I've created and hopefully you enjoy it. Cheers! 

Pomegranate Gin Slush

Makes 2 drinks

2 cups ice
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup gin
1/2 lime
pomegranate seeds, optional
lime slices, optional

**If you have a smaller blender or are worried about too much liquid for your blender, half the recipe to make one drink at a time. 

In a blender, add ice, pomegranate juice, and gin. Using a fork, juice half a lime into blender and pulse until the drink is slushy. Pour into a pint glass and garnish with pomegranate seeds and a lime slice. Enjoy!


5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

Cake For Breakfast from the Unusually Lovely Blog

Hi friends! It's been a little while since I chatted with you about what's going on in my life and talked about some of my favorite things. Christmas, my week off from work, and New Years feels a little like a blur to me. We ran all over the place spending time with each family during Christmas. My week off from work I struggled with wanting to relax, but also giving myself a hard time about not knocking enough things off my to-do list. (Am I the only one who struggles with that?) I ended up prepping a handful of blog posts and decided to feel good about accomplishing that much. I drank a lot of tea, and lattes, and delicious toast. We had a low key NYE, playing board games with friends and lighting off sparklers on their balcony. And then it was time to head back to work. I'm feeling mentally ready for 2017. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head. I've made some plans for new endeavors. I've bought a new camera lens and got an ice cream maker for Christmas. I'm hoping for good feelings and mostly positive vibes this year.

In other news, here's five things I'm loving this month:

  1. A few months ago I signed up for Studio DIY's Can't Clutch This monthly subscription box. I got the first about a week before Christmas and I have to say, the quality of these are spot on. The outside material is super nice and the pattern is vibrant. The hardware is solid and doesn't feel flimsy or like something I need to be gentle with. And I've received more compliments on this bag than any one I've owned! Definitely worth $20 and I'm amped to see this months!
  2. I was on the hunt for a new everyday eyeshadow. I wanted something that was matte, neutral enough to just throw on with most outfits but that also stands out, and could be gussied up with fake lashes and eyeliner. At some point I heard beauty bloggers Anna and Lily both talking about an Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow in Caramel and it sounded like it might hit all those markets. It's perfection. I've worn it pretty much every single day since I bought it.

  3. I recently decided that I need a place to keep all my lists in one place. At work, I keep lists on every piece of paper within arms length. I make lists for what I need to get done during the course of a weekend. I make lists of blogging tasks I need to get done. So, I finally picked up a planner to get all those lists and ideas into one place. Though this one doesn't have a month view, I LOVE how much writing space I have each day. And space with and without lines. Also, it's gorgeous.

  4. One of my recent personal goals is to drink more water because TBH, there are days when I don't drink any. I thought maybe having a water bottle that had measurements on the side would be helpful and would motivate me to drink more. I received this water bottle for Christmas and so far it's been perfect. It fits in the cup holder of my car (which neither of my other water bottles do!), has the measurements on the side, and doesn't leak at all. The mouth of it is also easy to use while wearing lipstick, which gives it bonus points in my book.

  5. This one is maybe a little odd coming from me, but I only recently purchased a bottle of St. Germain and since then I've been putting it in all kinds of things. I added it in this Tangerine Elderflower Spritz. On NYE I throw together a quick cocktail with pomegranate juice, St. Germain, and gin. And I'm sure I'll be making some new cocktails with it in the future. 

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Recipe: Brownie Layer Cake with Strawberries

Hi 2017! I hope you're here to bring us a year full of laughs, creativity, and opportunities. And as for a new year resolution? Mine is: eat more cake for breakfast. So I've brought you quite a cake today to kick that year-long goal off.

This cake is seriously decadent. Fluffy vanilla buttercream and strawberries between layers of fudgy brownie. A small piece is all you need.

Brownie Layer Cake with Strawberries

Serves 8

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 cup flour

Vanilla Buttercream
From this Joy the Baker Cookbook
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3–4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 pint strawberries

Make the Brownie Layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep three 6-inch round pans by lining the bottom with butter and parchment paper and greasing the sides with butter. Set aside.

In a heat-proof bowl, melt butter and baking chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in sugar and eggs (one at a time). In a seperate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet with a rubber spatula until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the three pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbles. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make Buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter for 2–4 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape the butter from the sides of the bowl and add 3 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat on low, increasing to medium speed as the mixture combines. Add milk and vanilla. Beat on high for one minute. If you like a thicker frosting, scrape down the sides and add up to another 1 cup of powdered sugar, beating well.

Assemble Cake: Once the brownies layers have cooled, remove the domed tops of each layer with a large knife (like a bread knife). This will create an even overall cake. Place the first layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Take three strips of wax paper and place each of them underneath the edge of the cake, so that when removed, no frosting will be on your plate/stand. Take a third of your frosting and spread it evenly over the brownie using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Slice several strawberries and place the slices onto the frosting, working from the outside in, in a single layer. Add the second brownie layer and repeat. Add the third brownie layer. Place half of the remaining frosting on the top of the cake, spreading it out evenly from the outside in with an offset spatula. Now frost the sides. Working in small areas and pressing into the layers, cover the sides of the cake with frosting. To create a "naked" cake, use an icing smoother to evenly distribute the frosting, smooth it out, and remove excess frosting. Because the brownies are so rich, this cake doesn't need a ton of outside frosting. Top with whole and halved strawberries. Serve the same day as assembling/frosting.