Rainbow Cheesecake Bars

Hello, friends!

I have made quite a few delights for Pride Month but wanted to make sure I ended the last week pride month with a NuNaturals recipe! This is a modified version of these cheesecake bars. I made them for Jon’s birthday and he enjoyed them immensely. I replaced the sugar with NuNaturals Monk Fruit 1:1 sweetener. This would have been keto, but I decided to use leftover mint girl scout cookies for the crust. ๐Ÿ™‚

I pulsed the cookies in my food processor and added melted butter. Then I smushed it onto a parchment paper-lined square pan and baked it for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. The rest of the ingredients in the first picture made the filling (I only used the egg whites in this recipe and used the yolks for brunch later).

I have seen rainbow cheesecakes where there’s a layer of white cheesecake and then a layer of swirled rainbow cheesecake on top as a second layer. This recipe is lighter in part because they are cheesecake BARS, not a full cheesecake. So I did not use a white layer below and split all of the cheesecake batter into 6 cups to color.

One trick to lifting cheesecake bars is to have parchment paper to pull up. I have seen people bake with metal clips on and I plan to eventually. I don’t have any so these adorable chip clips from my mom helped keep things in place while I added the colors. I have seen people do blobs and swirl them. I wanted to make the rainbow colors stripes, but not in ROYGBIV order (they are in order, but they don’t start with red. Which is pretty pink. I digress…). Then I used a knife to swirl the edges of the colors to make it sort of tie-dyed. I think it looked pretty dope:

See that top piece of parchment that wants to fold in? It did while baking and ruined (what would have been) the perfect shot of the baked cheesecake. Here’s the full pic (followed by a cropped pic to soothe my ego):

You know what fixes blemishes like that? Whipped cream. And I just happened to have some leftover whipping cream in the fridge. I painted the inside of a pastry bag with rainbow colors then filled it with the whipped cream. Boom. Magic.

I should also add that this painting technique for piping also is shown off in this Instagram reel when I made these adorbs meringues. I used this recipe and once again subbed sugar for NuNaturals Monk Fruit 1:1 sweetener. You might say this post is full of monk fruit, food coloring, and merriment.

Happy Pride, y’all! I hope you enjoyed these recipes. I also wanted to share a little highlight of some of the treats I made this month (I didn’t share the Transgender pride flag cookies because I assembled them wrong for the picture. I did make sure to use the flag colors in the unicorns seen on the bottom left though):

As NuNaturals often inquires, Isn’t Life Sweet?

XO,

Done with Booze.

Hello, dear readers!

Today is a special day because it is my two-year soberversary. I had no clue my last drink WAS my last drink. But my last drink was poured from a freshly opened bottle of Courvoisier, which I took from my dad’s woodshop after he passed. It sat on all of my bar carts and I never drank it. I decided it was fitting to drink that on my last night in Austin, where I had just earned my PhD. Then I left the bottle in ATX and headed to Pennsylvania for the summer.

Then something happened in PA. I don’t know what “clicked,” but I told Jon “I am not going to drink for the rest of 2019.” There was no terrible drinking story that happened before this decision (they exist, for sure, just not immediately before/close to the time of the decision). I just wanted to see what it would be like to remove it as an option. Previously, I drank socially and also at home when stressed. Inevitably EVERY time I drank I decided to eat alllllllllllll the foods as well. It was not helping my goals for fitness or body composition. So, I thought half a year of not drinking would be an interesting experiment.

Well, friends… that experiment has resulted in two years of sobriety. I feel weird about the word “sober.” I don’t go to AA or get triggered when I see people drink. But drinking didn’t serve me well. It made me have crap sleep, eat weird foods, have gastro issues, and WAS A DEPRESSANT. Not good for people literally diagnosed with depression (aka me). So I’m done. Done with booze.

The best way to sum this decision up is Chris Cooper’s Done with Fish moment in Adaptation. Watch this short clip if you haven’t seen it. He’s so good in everything but this role is special. And this sentiment is perfect:

Meryl Streep’s character was interviewing Chris Cooper’s character about how he was able to walk away from something he used to be passionate about. He explains how he used to be obsessed with salt water fish and had SIXTY tanks in his house!

Then one morning, I woke up and said, “Fuck fish.” I renounceย fish, I will never set foot in that ocean again. That’s how much “fuck fish.” That was 17 years ago and I have never stuck so much as a toe in that ocean. And I love the ocean.

I love a manhattan, but fuck alcohol. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mocktails

While “that’s how much fuck alcohol,” I do love a cocktail glass. So I wanted to share a few recipes using some ingredients from Hunt and Gather Dry Foods. I posted a full YouTube video here. In said video I may or may not hug some cocktail glasses.

If you aren’t a YouTuber, I have included pictures of the cocktails below, along with ingredients.

Main Ingredient/Star of the Show: I received the coolest jar of amazingness from Chantal (aka Hunt and Gather’s Goddess of Dry Foods). I saw her making these on Instagram and was OBSESSED because they are so beautiful:

Pictured above, this Hibiscus Rose Cocktail Kit smells AMAZING! The jar is filled with Hibiscus, Rose Buds, Lemon, Orange, vanilla Bean and a sugar cube dyed with beet root powder. I was so pumped to use it (but also sad because it is beautiful- I now understand when people say my cookies are “too pretty to eat.” Okay, thanks- but eat the cookie plz).

I digress… First, I followed her sage advice and steeped the contents of this jar with some OJ (my pals who imbibe would add booze here to infuse it). Then I strained out the beautiful dried flowers and citrus. What remained was a beautiful burgundy liquid.

I decided I wanted to make mocktails three ways with this:

730 Sparkler

  • 1 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
  • 1 part Topo Chico or Clean Sparkling Yerba Mate
  • Garnish with Strawberry

This is poured over ice, so it will stay nice and chilly on a summer day! This is called the 730 sparkler because that’s how many days I haven’t had a drink. I had to use a calculator because I don’t keep track. ๐Ÿ™‚

Coupe de Ber

  • 2 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
  • 1 part tea
  • splash of bitters
  • garnish with blueberry skewer

This one is served in a coupe glass, which is generally used for cocktails made with an ice shaker. Since these ingredients were already cold, I did not use a shaker. However, the skewer of blueberries is frozen and can be used as a “stir” in the drink to keep it cool without watering it down.

Cerci Arnold Palmer

  • 1/4 cup mocktail mix
  • 1/2 cup sun tea
  • 1/4 cup strawberry lemonade

This goblet, paired with the deep red color from the mocktail mix, has Cercei Lannister written all over it. Though she’d be pissed when she took a sip and realized it wasn’t wine. She’d be all “who gave me this?!” And I would hide and let this badass handle it:

I also made a delicious arnold palmer with the Watermelon, Blueberry, and Basil Sun Tea Kit. I did not place the tea in the sun (May is quite rainy in Texas), so it steeped overnight in the fridge instead. This was so delightful. I used a stevia-based strawberry lemonade to mix with it. Here’s a quick video of the process of the drink below. You can see it is lighter because the cocktail mix was still steeping when I made this tester for the video. ๐Ÿ™‚

Odd Timing…

So some might not think that moving to a new state to start a new job is a good time to stop drinking. Or a pandemic, perhaps. Or a snowstorm where one flushes their poop with melted snow in the middle of said pandemic? All valid points.

I had no idea that the Courvoisier I took from my dad’s woodshop would be my final drink. OR that it would be the weekend I earned my PhD- LITERALLY poured into a glass that said “Dr. Amber” on it. But that’s when it happened. And I am so happy it did.

I want to end this by quoting Snoop Dogg as he accepted his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

Last but not least, I wanna thank me.

I wanna thank me for believing in me.

I wanna thank me for doing all this hard work.

I wanna thank me for having no days off.

I wanna thank me for, for never quitting.

XO,

Nafas

Food is my love language. If I care about you as a friend or family member I would like to feed you. My favorite way to do this is to find new and interesting recipes a friend or family member would enjoy trying.

Everyone’s family has dishes that are important to them. My dad’s cheesy eggs were the best. No one can top those. My mom’s carrot cake is only rivaled by her chip dip. I am certain I have eaten both within 24 hours and felt better for it.

The Arabic word nafas, translated to breath or spirit, is the energy people put into food preparation that makes it seem exceptional to the people who eat it. Bottom line is, if the person making it isn’t feeling it you aren’t going to fall in love with the dish.

My favorite cooking show is The Great British Bake Off. I enjoy this show because it is so supportive and positive. Val, a former contestant and overall angel of a human being, once stated:

The book Like Water for Chocolate covers this (thanks again for letting me borrow that, Jeca!). The narrator of LWFC told us “With a little imagination and a full heart one can always prepare a decent meal.”

Similarly, Eric Ripert, hugely famous chef and pal of my favorite chef Anthony Bourdain, once noted:

“If you have in your life something cooked by someone in your family who put love in the food โ€”ย you feel something, something. There’s a sensation, and Iย think a lot of people have the same experience โ€” that can make the difference in between something that has been cooked by someone who loves to cook andย loves to put good energy in that food to make you happy. … It explains why you can feel the love in the food.”

From Ripert’s book 32 Yolks

Bottom line: Food made by someone who cares about you just tastes better.

Food Rituals

This post is about a serving dish instilling that same feeling of being cared about. It is a simple milk carafe from my childhood, which I have spent so long trying to find a replacement for. Then, without warning, it was on my front porch. My mom mailed it to me as a surprise! Thanks again, mama! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the carafe, which was part of my school morning breakfast routine for years:

I was an only child growing up, which meant that I had a lot of alone time. I was a kid who took her time getting ready for the day and had no younger siblings to herd or older siblings to push me through the morning routines before school.

My parents both worked and my dad left earlier in the morning to avoid rush hour going to and from work. We all shared one full bathroom, which meant we got ready in shifts. My dad used the bathroom first, then my mom. I would shower while my mom had coffee and picked out her work outfit. Then she’d go back to the bathroom to finish getting ready while I ate breakfast.

Before my dad left for work, he’d put a bowl of cereal on a placemat with this pink carafe full of cold milk. Whenever I would amble to the kitchen table, my breakfast was waiting for me! No soggy cereal. No rush. It was ideal for my stubborn “I’ll get there when I get there” childhood self.

This was not the part of the ritual I remember most (though I must admit that the satisfying crunch of freshly milked cereal is not lost on me). Usually in the morning my dad would follow me around the house, calling me princess and making jokes. I would stare through him with a hardened gaze, similar to Bill Laimbeer:

Always so angry, Bill...

Anyways, while he pushed every button possible and I glared and stomped like a four-eyed Joe Pesci, my mom would counter this with “she’s not awake yet!” or “leave her alone!” And my dad wouldn’t because pissing off a small child is almost always hilarious. And there was a pink carafe of mia culpa waiting in the kitchen anyways. He would take off for work and I’d eat my cereal, reading the back of the box for entertainment.

I think the most interesting part of this is knowing there’s no pictures of me using this carafe. It was a part of my morning ritual just like my toothbrush and backpack. It was not considered “special” but a humble part of our morning routine.

It was more than that, though. It was a gesture from my parents that said “we are all doing our own thing and the cereal is waiting for you when you’re ready.” Being seen like that, knowing that your parents are aware that rushing you is a disaster, feels like a hug. It is a gesture that shows so much love. That carafe was full of nafas.

Dunkaroos

Seeing and holding this carafe brought back so many memories. The recipe this week is a simple one for when you have too much icing. I made adorbs cupcakes for my friend and had leftover buttercream. SO- there was no choice… I had to make dunkaroos!

I bought these adorable birthday cake bunnies from Annies Organics with the hopes to use them for the Easter Brunch. Alas, they arrived after so they became dunkaroos!

Side bar- I did not pick up on the fact that Dunkaroos had an Aussie twist. But the shapes were basketballs and sneakers as well? So the Dunkaroo mascot was a sneakerhead who lived in Australia but knew how to dunk basketballs AND “arroos” as well? Strange stuff. I guess I didn’t question most commercials after Nancy Reagan made me afraid of fried eggs.

I usually sign off with my logo, but I found this when looking for a solid Laimbeer pic. Enjoy!

XO,

P.S.-If you have no idea who Bill is or why he’s so angry- watch this

Seasonal Treats

I LOVE a seasonal treat.

There’s something special about making a treat or meal that is tied to a time of year. Peanut butter eggs taste better than peanut butter cups. Pumpkin pie is a key November staple. Peppermint ALL DAY in December, right? These times are special.

I love walking down Target’s seasonal section looking for baking ingredients or serving vessels/bags. When I was scrolling through my Instagram Grid recently I noticed that the Easter vibe was SO present. It made me wonder if other holidays were the same.

They were!

Let’s take a tour of some of the more recent holiday/seasonal times with a look at “the ‘gram,” AKA what my Instragram grid looked like at these time periods.

This is basically a guided tour of The Louvre… but food pics. You’re welcome.

Fall/Thanksgiving

This time was full of pumpkin. Somehow I did not do many Halloween treats. I realized after some investigation that this was because I was having pretty bad depression in October. When my mood stabilized in November (thanks Zoloft!), I hit Turkey Day running.

I made my first pie crust from scratch. It was wicked good, but my pie plate was a little too large so the crust was not substantial.

I am not sure why that recipe was a liar, but I took it personally… just like MJ in basically every 5 minutes of The Last Dance (Bad Boys 4 Life). To redeem myself, I doubled the recipe next time to make a Buttermilk Pie for my Bobcat BFF Jess.

Christmas Time

During Christmas I was hyper-focused on mailable treats. But I also made a Yule Log cake for me and Jon. He is not a “cake person,” but loves a Red Velvet with Cream Cheese frosting. I make holiday cakes in that flavor combo so I am not eating cake alone. This theme will pop up again for Easter.

The pic on the bottom left was the first Panettone we’d ever eaten. I turned it into french toast because of course I did. I also made round foods, pork, and rice for the new year because, as Michael Scott once said “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.”

Valentine’s Day

This is easily my favorite baking holiday. I truly do not care about Valentine’s Day (or Sweetest Day for that matter). But I love pink and hearts and sparkles and THIS HOLIDAY HAS EVERYTHING.

I’ve always loved the classic foil heart-shaped box of chocolates, so I made several treats you could create to fill the box. I also recommend eating the chocolates as you make the new stuff because you deserve chocolates, too! The waffle on the top left was for Galentine’s Day, a Leslie Knope tradition.

Easter/Spring

This is the most recent holiday I baked and make delish foods for. I made cake popcicles for the first time (which Jon dubbed “the personal pan pizza of cakes”). This was made using the red velvet/cream cheese frosting combo so he would share with me. I was going to make carrot cake ones, but he said he didn’t like carrot cake (narrator: but he did).

I have realized while planning this post that there aren’t a lot of good food holidays coming up. Basically the next good one (in my opinion) is Halloween. So what can I celebrate until then?

  • Pretzel Day (yes, office fans that’s on April 26th)
  • Apple Pie Day (May 13th)
  • Donut Day (June 4th)
  • Ice Cream Day (June 7th)
  • Eat Your Vegetables Day (June 17th)
  • Strawberry Sundae Day (July 7th)
  • French Fry Day (July 13th)
  • Milk Chocolate Day (July 28th)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (August 4th)
  • Potato Day (August 19th… and every other day imo)
  • Waffle Day (August 24th)
  • Cheeseburger Day (September 18th)
  • Queso Day (September 20th)
  • Ice Cream Cone Day (September 22nd)
  • Coffee Day (September 29th)
  • Cinnamon Roll Day (October 4th)
  • Pierogi Day (October 8th)
  • Cake Decorating Day (October 10th)
  • Day of the Nacho (October 21st)

These “national holidays” were found on the internet. For all I know someone threw darts at a dartboard then made the site, but damned if I won’t celebrate NATIONAL POTATO DAY.

Which one would you celebrate?

XO,

Easter Picnic!

Many moons ago my husband and I had a chill picnic whilst gazing at Lady Bird Lake. It was one of my favorite memories from when we lived on the east side. This year we have decided to have a picnic in Zilker! I am insanely excited to make something rad.

I will share pics of our Zilker picnic next week, but wanted to share some fun ideas BEFORE the holiday in case you’re socially distanced from your fam and looking for something fun to do this weekend.

Deviled Eggs

Fun Fact: In Lancaster County PA these are called “daisy eggs.” I assume this is because of the high Mennonite population. It has been a minute since I dyed eggs for Easter, so naturally I did that first:

After this adorbs photo sesh, I peeled these eggs and used two remaining tablets for dying the egg whites. This particular kit (from Target) had a purple and pink tablet that did not need vinegar to dye eggs. So I saved those to dye the whites without having a weird vinegar taste (also I feel like pickled eggs have a strange texture to them).

Here is my IKEA pictures only explanation of the process:

I made the filling in a food processor. It was the yolks, some Sir Kensington’s special sauce, low fat mayo and a squirt of mustard. I will probably add capers when eating them, but check out this SAVED BY THE BELL REALNESS:

Amazing, if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

Where my Peeps at?!

I also decided to make peeps. I don’t love peeps. They are not my fave Easter candy. But I do think they are adorable. So I decided to make my own with a twist. I made meringue cookie bird peeps and homemade marshmallow bunny peeps!

The meringue cookies were made using this recipe and watching videos of people pipe peeps. The pink bunnies were made with this recipe (I subbed NuNaturals sweetener for their liquid stevia). I am still perfecting the texture on this one and will make a post on marshmallows with NuNaturals once it is perf. Until then, you can watch this reel of how these were made.

Easter Picnic Amazingness!

As we discussed, dear reader, am planning an Easter Picnic! I decided to have a photo shoot of my dream spread for funzies (and blogzies):

I think my favorite part of this picnic was eating a lunch made from these ingredients afterwards. ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of these items will make the Zilker picnic spread, but others will not because of travel purposes. The last picnic we did was on Lady Bird Lake when we lived a 5 minute walk away. This weekend we will walk quite a bit to the location, so it means I have to be more savvy with my menu choices. Stay tuned for that!

I realized that my color combos were pretty 80s…. I’m not sure if I will REQUIRE a 80s themed dress code for the weekend picnic, but it is still on the table at this point….

XO,

Bake Sale!

I saw that the Bakers for Change Organization was promoting chances for bakers selling goods for funds to support the Asian community after the horrific events in Atlanta. I wanted to do something, but I wanted it to be a super small scale because I am not a baker in a commercial kitchen. Instead of joining their amazing cause, I did a tiny one on my own which was available to my friends and family. Here’s the flyer I made:

I was able to send some snickerdoodles and brownies to friends and family. I also had a few people who donated to the cause without baked goods! Also, my mentor/pal Eric (long time listener, first time caller) donated to help offset the postage/supplies. So cool!!

Check out these happy little treats:

I mailed these dudes out this morning and am so happy that we collectively raised $200 for the Asian Mental Health Collective. Thanks to all who participated! If you didn’t and you’d like to, click that hyperlink to donate.

P/S- I asked Jon (aka my photographer when I need to be in the shot) to take a picture of me holding the brownies for the picture at the top. Looks great, right? Well the full length photo has me doing cosplay from PeeWee’s Big Adventure.

Have a great weekend! If you need me, I’ll be emotionally eating… I mean TESTING these cookies after that whole Francis realization… Emotional eater? “I know you are but what am I?”

Thanks again to all who donated!!!!!!

XO,

Galentine’s Day

For those of you who are unaware, Galentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated on February 13th. Leslie Knope (from Parks and Recreation) holds a brunch to have fun with her female friends. It is a day where ladies get together to celebrate friendship.

Generally speaking, I like to give gifts to pals… mostly made of sugar. Here’s an example of the copious amounts of sugar I shoved toward my peeps in mid-February days of yore:

Sadly, this year is socially distanced. Austin has been at Stage 5 for a while, but we recently moved to Stage 4. Once we are in Stage 3 I plan on mailing some pink and red sugary treats to my friends (where gender is not important- friendship is).

Until then, I wrote this post with a few ideas for your Galentine’s Day. Or any day, really. These are mostly breakfast foods, as Leslie Knope loves breakfast foods, especially waffles!

Waffles

I made a video about this waffle, which is the KEY Galentine’s Day brunch item:

My family used to chop up Easter candies and add them to pancakes. I did something similar here. I chopped up a candy bar (shown in the next section) and added it to the waffle batter. Delicious.

If you do not have a waffle iron, you could make Galentine pancakes instead! Here’s a pile of mini pancakes with sprinkles and a chocolate-covered strawberry. Still festive and no extra appliance required:

Pancakes seem too “every day?” How about some cinnamon rolls topped with pink cream cheese icing and sprinkles?!

Last Minute Ideas (No Oven Needed)

Are you reading this on February 13th? Happy Galentine’s Day if you are! I have provided two ideas. One uses store bought cookies and the other requires only a microwave in this video (okay, fine… a microwave IS an oven, but it is the oven for people who don’t like to bake).

Chocolate Bars

Candy bar molds are cheap and I am obsessed. Yes, you can use any mold (I am sure some people have spheres from the great cocoa bomb experiment of December 2020). However, making an ACTUAL candy bar made of smaller squares makes me feel like Willy Wonka. You can learn more of these in the video, but if you have no interest in motion pictures, know some of these have M&Ms and some have leftover cake crumbles from last week’s post (I froze them for this purpose).

“Store Bought is Fine.”

As Ina Garten has said many times, you can TOTALLY buy delish food from stores and use that instead. We received a gargantuan bucket of Cheryl’s Cookies from my husband’s work. So I put some in the cute handmade heart I made. BOOM. Magic. Also, I kept these wrapped because they’d be fresh whenever my Galentine eats them AND Cheryl doesn’t think I’m trying to start a turf war.

What if my Valentine/Galentine has a favorite recipe that doesn’t make sense as pink/red/heart shaped?

Great question, self! I completely understand this query and think that people should get what they WANT as gifts, especially if it is a recipe you’ve made them before and they like them. For example, one of my Galentines Jeca likes my Molasses Cookies, which are not pink. They could potentially be heart shaped, but they are crackle-top cookies and a broken heart seems a bit to emo for a gift. So, I made the damned Molasses Cookies. End of Story.

Enjoy your February, friend!

However you choose to celebrate Galentine’s Day, remember you deserve a delicious treat. So make yourself a waffle. Or pancake. Or PB&J. We all deserve one- 2020 was weird and 2021 is kinda cray fillet as well.

And, since we are close friends, please don’t tell Leslie Knope that I like my waffles the NORMAL way… with three gallons of syrup and 2 gargantuan pats of butter:

XO,

Quit Playing Games with my Heart (of Chocolates)

Well, we all know the DELIGHT of Valentine’s Day chocolates. Really, any sweet. However, I am partial to the foil heart of chocolates. It is old school and classic. Sadly, nowadays these hearts are mostly packaging. I’m glad I am not married to Russell Stover, because check out this crap:

Also, you probably cannot tell, but the top center chocolate was cracked. Like REALLY, Russell?!
You couldn’t ensure each of the like 9 chocolates in this gargantuan heart were unscathed???

If I am being fully honest, I prefer my baked goods to most candies. So I decided to spend the past two weeks filling this Russell Stover heart with BETTER options. It does not take two weeks to make ANY of the recipes below. I just spaced out the making of them so I did not go into a sugar coma while testing these. I’m selfless, y’all.

First up? Merengue Cookies (arguably the healthiest one since they are mostly Egg Whites…. basically a Rocky Balboa type of gift).

Merengue Cookies

Now, I LOVE a merengue cookie. I love pavlovas. I am obsessed with ALL the magic whipped egg whites have to offer. They are majestic. How in the world did FOUR egg whites make all of these treasures?! Answer: They were whipped with sugar and cream of tartar, then piped by yours truly. Obviously.

Also, can we talk about how FULL this heart shaped box looks now? The one with nine socially distant chocolates is depressing. Get with it, Russell. We have emotional eating to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since this recipe was so bountiful (you truly have no idea what treasures await when those four room-temp egg whites are waiting in the mixer to do their thing), I had some extra fun styling some photos. In fact- this was the first recipe where I was able to use that sweet canister from West Elm (on the left). It reminds me of the estimation jar from elementary school, but in a fashionable Greg Brady kind of way.

Craft Break

I did these cookies and put them in the heart-shaped box. Welp… real talk? I did not like Russel stealing my Thunder. I put the open box on top of the branding to hide it, but that would be boring for several shots. SO… I rebranded it… I love a craft, okay?

This will be the box featured for the rest of the baked goods:

(Can you hear me saying “ta-dahhh” while making jazz hands at the computer? I totally did)

Cake Truffles

I LOVE Milk Bar’s birthday cake truffles. They. Are. Amazing. I decided it would be fun to make cake truffles using a mug cake. So, I microwaved three mug cakes individually and cooled them in a shallow bowl (see below- they are in the teal bowl on the top right). I mixed this with the icing packets and rolled them into tiny cake balls.

Christina Tosi, aka my goddess and savior, suggests rolling them in a thin layer of white chocolate and her confetti cake crumbs. I omitted the white chocolate step by rolling the truffles in the crumbs while they were still warm out of the oven. They stuck and I put them in the freezer. I included a close up of the crumbs below because OMG look at them!

The leftover birthday cake crumbs were frozen so they could be part of a Galentine’s Day post for next week.

Stay tuned. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I decided to actually use the insert of the Russell Stover chocolate heart for these darlings. I know the typical chocolate-covered strawberries have stems and are full. These are strawberry halves with no tops/stems, which I think fit nicely in the box insert. I also do not like how you have to awkwardly put the stem somewhere when eating a full strawberry. The stem is great for dipping and for holding the finished product. But at what cost??? Since there’s no weird stem leftovers on mine, these little dudes can be the star of an espresso-filled Fika Friday or chill on top of an adorbs pudding snack.

Oh no- I forgot!

Did you forget a Valentine’s Day treat for your babe/dude/soulmate and still want to spread some sugary cheer? Welp, call on your local Girl Scout to order a box of cookies. Then put said cookies in a heart-shaped box. No heart-shaped box? Slap a sticker on that bad boy.

Did we just become best friends?

yup.

Sidebar: you can support Girl Scouts living in the NYC shelter system here. Realize it five minutes from your soulmate’s house? Buy the cookies, explain this AMAZING cause, and then cuddle. ๐Ÿ™‚

Retraction

It is not normal to retract something before publishing it. However, I enjoyed giving Russell Stover candies crap because of the exponentially disappointing candy to heart-box ratio. When I googled ol’ Russ to make sure I spelled his name right I found out he was a chemist that discovered how to ensconce ice cream with a chocolate shell.

Due to this, mea culpa Russ. Love you.

-Ber

xo,

Snail Mail

Everyone needs Cosmic Brownies in their lives, am I right?

After the red/green theme of the holiday items I sent I was feeling like throwing some rainbow sprinkles into some delish treasures to mail! There were so many reasons to celebrate: I had former students who were student teaching, accepted to law school, and coming back for their first post-holiday classroom teaching experience. Those people needed FUNFETTI SCONES!

My niece had a birthday coming up. I sent her gift directly to her, but also wanted to send some treats. I asked what she wanted and she basically said “no raisins.” I decided to put sprinkles in EVERYTHING since the treats I was sending to Montana were also celebratory. I thought it would be fun to make Cosmic Brownies, since she’s in high school and that’s a lunch box treat. I also thought I’d make Blondies for the first time… with SPRINKLES of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

These were the LEAST photogenic, so I added that cute milk jug with a straw to help a Blondie out.

Finally, I sent a small treat to our parents because the Christmas ornaments we purchased arrived well after we mailed their gifts. They said “we miss you SNOW much” and would make less sense next holiday when we see them. Therefore, brownies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Real talk: check out how happy these three batters look together:

Awe.

We are still in Stage 5 in Austin, so I am laying low on the snail-mail baked goods for the time being. I hope to mail some Valentine’s Day items next month (TBH I already bought the supplies, so they are going in the mail at some point). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how AMAZING the USPS has been this season.

Thank you, USPS!

I sent a billion packages over the holidays, some took like 2 weeks to arrive to their destination. I knew the USPS was hammered, so I wanted to send them a thank you the next time I was at the Post Office.

I ended up getting a dozen Shipley’s donuts. I asked the staff to put each donut in an individual bag instead of a traditional box of 12 so people would feel more comfortable eating them. I hope they enjoyed them and used some sugar to plow through the January returns people inevitably drop off.

XO,

Snail Mail Cookies

I did not go home last year for Christmas. I was working in Montana and flights out of there on a normal day were astronomical. I did not dare book one with holiday markups! The plan was to have a chill Christmas at the apartment, then travel to visit family on Spring Break or at summer break. Then Covid happened and stopped those plans.

So, for the second Christmas, my partner and I are chillin at home. This one, though during Covid times, has to be INFINITELY better than last year. We had the flu and I made a pancake with chocolate chips and watched Susperia hopped up on cold meds. Do not recommend.

I mailed gifts to friends and family last year. This year I mailed cookies because baking is my love language. It is how I show people I appreciate them. I also craft, but I only finished two of my planned projects. Any crafter will tell you this is a yearly ordeal where we say “next year I’ll start earlier.” Then we don’t. This cycle continues until we die and our family/partners stare in horror at the stash of craft supplies we never used. I don’t make the rules- this is just what happens.

I digress.

Cookies! Here’s a fun video of the cookies I made. There were three items I mailed: holiday scones, roll out cookies, and iced sugar cookies. Generally I make a few iced sugar cookies, but this year was summed up with one large cookie. You’ll see.

Holiday Scones

My holiday scones were a modified version of the funfetti scones from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I use her recipes a lot, as they are user friendly and from scratch. The mods in this recipe were pretty straight forward: I replaced half of the white chocolate chips with peppermint chips and regular sprinkles with holiday sprinkles. I also did not put much glaze on the top because the peppermint sprinkles were very sweet. These were great with coffee. I finally got to use my mini scone pan and will mos def be making another version of these for my next mail call.

Butter Cookies

I bought this sweet rolling pin on etsy! It actually embosses nordic designs onto cookie dough! It worked well, though it took me a bit to figure out the best pressure to use when rolling and dough temperature. I assumed the butter cookie dough* had to be SUPER cold to roll out, but it turned out it worked better mostly cold so it had some give when the rolling pin did its thing. Here is a shot of some of the all-star cookies:

After this photo shoot I let them cool, then dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled them with ground pistachios or red jimmies. I had leftover chocolate and pistachio, so I made some pistachio bark. And by “make pistachio bark” I mean I used a spatula to pour the chocolate on top of the pistachios and waited for it to harden. It looked fancy though:

*I did not add all spice to this recipe as suggested. I wanted the buttery flavor to be the star. Just an aside in case you were really invested in this…

Dumpster Fire Sugar Cookies

The last cookie is my iced sugar cookie. I have used the cut out cookie recipe from Make it Sweet since I first started perfecting my sugar cookies. If you follow the steps and chill the dough as suggested, the shapes hold up PERFECTLY in the oven. You could put the cutter over the cookie and then faint at the accuracy. Make sure you put some pillows down first or have a fainting couch at the ready.

This cutter is from etsy and had an embossed piece with it. I used it, but I iced them so you cannot actually see the embossing on the finished products. It was nice though because it acted as a guide for the flames and the dumpster outline.

2020 Snail Mail

As with all USPS packages, some have arrived to family and friends and some are hiding in piles waiting to be delivered. I am glad I heat seal the bags. Hopefully these bad boys hold up. If not, it is the thought that counts? Do we get a re-do next year? Asking for a friend.

Shout out to the USPS and all of the people busting ass this holiday season. It has been a weird one and we appreciate you.

xo,