» November 2011 «

Lemon Molasses Spice Cake + Maple Syrup Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope right about now your tummies are full and you are enjoying friends and family. For our Thanksgiving, Linda invited us out to the farm to celebrate with her family. I was asked to contribute a dessert–one dessert…too many options.

In an attempt to branch out from my typical holiday dessert contribution, rum cake, I decided to try making a spice cake of sorts to take to the farm. I already had a box of Duncan Hines lemon cake mix, and in an attempt to not waste, I decided to add spices to the pre-made mix and see what happened. Although the finished appearance was less-than-wonderful, the cake tasted absolutely delicious and super moist!

Spice Cake Ingredients:

1 box of lemon cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1/2 c. molasses
1 1/3 c. water
1/4 c. oil
3 eggs
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

The maple syrup frosting is courtesy of Country Living.

Maple Syrup Frosting:

2 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. whole milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water and oil. Add molasses and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add spices.

Grease two circular cake pans with shortening. Divide batter between pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely before removing from pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting by mixing the sugars, butter and salt on medium speed. Continue beating and add the maple syrup in a slow stream. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy, add milk as needed.

P.S. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m extremely thankful to have my own kitchen in which I can bake whenever and whatever I want to.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes + Cinnamon Frosting

Can I tell you a sad story? I haven’t baked in a month. True story. On Thursday, I was working on homework and I my oven called to me…or maybe it was my sweet tooth. Either way, it was time to bake. Our weather has been incredibly cold this week, I’m thinking winter is definitely here. So what better way to celebrate than with hot chocolate cupcakes and cinnamon frosting!

I saw a facebook status that someone had made hot chocolate cupcakes so I set scoured the internet in search of a recipe.

Here are two that I thought looked most appealing:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I didn’t have any unsweetened baking cocoa in the house and saw other recipes where they used an actual cup of hot chocolate so I figured, why not give it a shot?

The frosting is basically the same as the one for my Rummy Shortbread Cookies except, no rum and I added 2 tsp. of cinnamon.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup hot water
2/3 cup Godiva hot chocolate
3/4 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla


First, heat your oven to 350 degrees. If you have a silicone cupcake tray like me, lightly butter your tray. If you have a metal tray, line the muffin cups with paper liners.

Grab a bowl and mix flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix hot water and Godiva hot chocolate until dissolved.

In a large bowl, beat shortening for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Alternate adding flour and cocoa mixture to the mixture, don’t over mix.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool slightly before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tip: While these were baking, they seemed to puff in the middle then settle so they have a weird hollow middle but once they cool and settled they looked and tasted fine, without any hollow middle. So don’t worry if you go to stick a toothpick in and get a pocket of air.

Happy Baking!

Thankful: The Husband

I love birthdays and no, I don’t just mean my own. I love celebrating life, and the people you love in it. I know many people dread their birthdays, another year, another letdown, blah, blah, blah. If you don’t love celebrating your birthday, at least let others enjoy the celebration, because guess what? You matter!

What better way to let someone know you love them and feel blessed to be a part of their lives than by celebrating the very day they were born? I love making others feel special. Setting aside an entire day just for this purpose is worthy of celebration. I mean, how many days do we set aside for the purpose of blessing someone else? Not many.

What is my point? Well, one of the many reasons I LOVE November is because it is both my birthday month and my sweet hubby’s. Yes, of course I love my birthday but I really love having an excuse to celebrate Jack. So, to continue our “Thankful” series, I am EXTREMELY thankful for Jack.

Jack and I met at church when I was in 5th grade. His mom was the children’s minister and our sisters had played t-ball together. Jack and I didn’t cross paths much until high school however, when my mom’s strategic choreography had us dancing opposite parts in a play for a church fundraiser. Jack played the school principal and I was the librarian (funny now that he’s a librarian). My mother, of course thought she was so sneaky. After a few, not-so-subtle hints from my father that Jack should take me out golfing (my dad eats, drinks, and breathes golf), we decided to do just that. From that day forward a beautiful friendship formed that grew to love and here we are 9 years later, married and living clear across the country from our old stomping grounds.

Jack and I have been married over 3 years now and I wish I could put into words just how incredibly thankful I am to have him as my best friend and husband. Although we have already celebrated his birthday this month, I wanted to officially add him to my list of “things” I’m grateful for and wish him a very happy birthday. Jakie, I’m so glad you were born and so happy with the life we are building together.

Thanksgiving gives us time to reflect on what and who we are most thankful for. Who are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Blog Love: Oh Happy Day!

Oh Happy Day! Simply reading the name of this blog lifts my spirits. Since it is Friday, I thought what better way to celebrate such a happy occasion than by introducing you to a cheerful, creative, and inspiring blogger.

Jordan from Oh Happy Day! is my hero. She is smart, talented, and super creative. She and her family recently moved from San Francisco to Paris for one year. Her posts are filled with breathtaking photos of Parisian scenery, shops, and fashion. She is a party planner and letterpress printer with tons of creative DIY projects and home decor ideas that are sure to inspire.

Here are a few of my favorite Oh Happy Day! projects:
Giant Confetti Bags
DIY Alligator Pinata
Flag Sculptures

Happy Friday!
Graphics: Oh Happy Day!

November + Family

I love November. This is not simply a passing phrase for me, I wholeheartedly love November! November is my Christmas–if a November fairy came to my house, I would clean the chimney, set out cookies and milk, and probably write him a letter.

There are many aspects of November that I love, however, the best part for me, is of course, Thanksgiving. Growing up, this was always my favorite family holiday. We would all watch the parade, eat German pancakes, and sip hot chocolate. Then mom would get to work making her famous rice salad while dad worked on the turkey. Kendra and I would help where we could and sing along to our favorite tape, “Amy Grant Christmas.” The joy of Thanksgiving was simple–we were together and we were thankful.

This togetherness is what I most love about Thanksgiving. Living in Tennessee, I have come to realize the extent to which I’ve cherished my family’s Thanksgivings together. Four years have gone by without a family Thanksgiving and every year I realize just how much those days meant to me. We are no longer able to be together physically, but I carry my family with me throughout the holidays–continuing their traditions, remembering the past, and looking forward to what the future holds for all of us. I am incredibly grateful for the times we have had together.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this month I will be highlighting a few of the many things that I am grateful for and I would LOVE to hear from you too! Leave a comment or head to our facebook page and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving memory, food, tradition, or simply tells us what you are thankful for this year.

Wishing you a very blessed November, may you be filled with thanks and surrounded by those you love and who love you.

Picture of the Day: Farm Life

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.
-Anne Bronte