Chocolate Cake Extreme Chocolate Cake Extreme

Who’s listening to Christmas music?

What do you mean it’s September?

If it makes you feel any better, last year I started listening to Christmas music in July, sooooo baby steps.

This one is amazing. This one is also amazing. And this one is a ridiculous family classic that never seems to get old no matter what time of year.

I love Thanksgiving and Fall and all the pumpkin recipes, but CHRISTMAS!!!! It’s my very favorite holiday.

Speaking of holidays, Labor Day!! Yay for a day off…except I’m self employed and it just means my kids are home to keep me from getting any work done. So, I guess it IS a holiday. A perfect day to bake a thing or two, right 😉

This recipe I’m sharing today is based off of my perfect chocolate cake recipe and my best and easiest chocolate frosting recipe. So, I basically smashed those two together, but used specialty dark chocolate cocoa powder in place of the regular cocoa powder. That stuff is SO good and it’s what gives this cake such a dark and rich appearance. {Got mine from Fred Meyer, which is a Kroger store.}

Cinnamon Swirl Donut Bread Cinnamon Swirl Donut Bread

Hold onto your hats friends, I’ve got another *fat pants* recipe for you, and this one is RIDICULOUS. I’m so so excited to be sharing this recipe with you today because it is so amazingly good!

A sweet cinnamon swirled cake, baked until perfectly moist and then dipped into melted butter and coated with cinnamon and sugar!! If that doesn’t make you excited for dessert, then I don’t know what will.

You have my friend Machel to blame. Last week, she employed me to create a clone to a very very similar item found at her grocery store a few weeks prior. I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so of course I gladly accepted and a few days later here she blows.

This is a pretty simple loaf to make, you just need to be prepared to get a little messy whilst dipping the whole loaf into melted butter…and then cinnamon and sugar.

Chocolate S’mores Skillet Cookie Chocolate S’mores Skillet Cookie

I’ve teamed up with Crisco®, as a Crisco Creator, to help inspire home cooks with new recipe ideas and cooking and baking tips using Crisco® products.

Well, howdy friends! It’s been a while since I’ve brought you a dessert recipe, so here lies an amazing one that I hope will be reason enough to stop what you’re doing to make immediately.

This Chocolate Skillet S’mores Cookie is to die for and is so so simple to make. If you have any experience baking cookies, then this recipe will come easy to you. Lots of basic ingredients thrown together to create a crispy edged, soft and chewy skillet cookie that happens to be filled with all the good stuff that makes s’mores so amazing.

I love using Crisco® All-Vegetable Butter Flavored Shortening Sticks for a recipe like this because if you ever run out of butter {which I do all the time} then this is a great alternative that just so happens to have 50% less saturated fat than butter¹. You might be surprised to learn that there are many ways to cook and bake with Crisco® shortening to make savory dishes and sweet desserts. It also delivers higher, lighter-textured, moist and tender baked goods which you can see in this recipe.

Peach Dumplings Peach Dumplings

I just spent a good portion of the day watching music videos from the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Ohmygosh, it all takes me back.
N*Sync, 98 degrees, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Brandy, the list goes on!! I can’t handle the unfortunate hilarity. Since I grew up with no cable tv, I never got to see these music videos. So deprived was my childhood.

So for some reason, I was entranced into a freshman high school spell that sent me into a 2 1/2 hours 15 minute watching spree of said music videos.

Here are a few observations for you. You’re welcome:

Justin Timberlake is so much cooler now. {Though his chunky turtleneck in this video is pretty RAD.}

The Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson relationship certainly didn’t last long {3 1/2 years!} despite their amazing reality show. *Please note my sarcastic use of the word amazing in the previous sentence.

The mother in me had a minor heart attack over Britney Spears’ school outfits in this video.

What ever happened to Jojo?

Lauryn Hill has such a pretty voice. Especially in Sister Act II. PS- Jennifer Love Hewitt in this movie is prime.

I don’t care what you say, I will forever love this song.

Ah, memory lane. You were such a good way to blow my otherwise productive evening.
Anyways, I’ve been seeing recipes for these dessert dumplings float around for quite some time now, and I thought it was about time I made my own, without the soda in the bottom. Typically, the recipe calls for a can of mountain dew poured into the bottom to create a lemon-lime sauce in the bottom. I thought that sounded gross, so I made my own. Slightly different, but so delicious. It’s like a weird peach pie stuffed into crescent rolls. Warm, comforting and delicious. Especially delicious with ice cream, though I have yet to find something that ISN’T better with ice cream. But I digress.

Lemon Cheesecake Tart Lemon Cheesecake Tart

Hi Friends!

I just made it to Utah for a fun long weekend with two of my best friends {Amy and Amy….or as my parents call them “the Amy’s”} that I haven’t seen for…gulp…5 years!!

I’m a bad friend.

Our kids are going to play together and we are going to have a blast I’m sure.

So, considering I pulled into my bff’s driveway at 10:30pm and it is now 12:54am, I’m gonna make this brief. Plus, odds are my grammar is going down by the second.

I made a dessert! Ha-za! And it’s good.

Are you sick of lemon desserts yet? Cause I never seem to tire of them.

I was feeling sassy and had a few packs of cream cheese in my fridge, so behold! A cheesecake! And, by golly, it is divine. Not too sweet and slightly tart from all that lemon. It is a nearly perfect dessert that doesn’t take to terribly long to throw together. Plus! Lots of regular, everyday ingredients that you probably will already have. #winning

So, enjoy your weekend and have I will see you on Monday with another new post! And if you’re in Utah between Salt Lake City and Eagle Mountain, let me know what restaurants I need to try 🙂 Thanks, friends!! xo

No-Bake Cookies No-Bake Cookies
Double Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes Double Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes

With all the crazy things I’ve been reading in the news lately, I thought the world could use a few cupcakes.

I don’t like talking about sad and upsetting things on my blog and I’m not really going to start now and dive into these deep issues that I’m referring to. {If you’re reading this and are outside the United States, you may not know what I’m talking about.} BUT, I will say please be kind to each other. You may feel helpless like you can’t do a thing to change the world for good, but you know what?

Today you can be kind to the people around you, no matter who they are or what they look like.

I have found myself saying “I want to help, but I can’t do ____”.

And then a small voice reminds me “But you can do _____.”

I want to let you all know that the same thing applies to you. There are lots of things you and I will never get the chance to do and odds are the majority of us won’t be well known and have a huge platform to instill world peace.

BUT, we can look up when we’re at the grocery store to smile and acknowledge every person we pass. We can teach our children to play nicely with every kid at school. We can agree to disagree with people over political, social, hot button issues and still respect them. We can not pass judgements or say blanket statements. We can see beyond skin color, sexual orientation and social status to understand that those people are a lot more like us than maybe we thought.

In a world of hate, anger and fear, I urge you to be the good.

We can’t do a lot of things, but there is something we all can do.

Fruit Flan Fruit Flan

I’ve got the yummiest treat in the world for you today! This is called Fruit Flan…not to be confused with dessert pizza.
I grew up eating this stuff and even for birthday’s I would request it–that’s how much I love this.

The crust is a cream cheese based pastry, the filling is a mixture of almond extract, vanilla pudding and whipped cream and the top is just fruit. It’s so much better than a cookie pizza with a cream cheese frosting and it all holds together perfectly. If you wanted to make this for your upcoming festivities and decorate this like a flag, that would be quite patriotic of you. I had more than red and blue fruit to use so I opted for a random-yet-colorful fruit flan.

All you need is time to throw this together. It does take about two hours, but that includes refrigeration and cooling times. But no part of this could be considered hard. All simple ingredients and easy steps. Take a peek at the step-by-steps and see what you think! We are currently in Arizona with my sister and her family for the long weekend, and we will probably be making this for the long weekend 🙂 Yay!!

For the pastry, grab some flour, salt, butter and cream cheese.

4th of July Cupcakes 4th of July Cupcakes

These might be the most patriotic cupcakes in the world. And the easiest too.

For all you folks that are in charge of dessert at your 4th of July festivities {like I was last year} this post is for you. Because if you are anything like me, you will forget that you are in charge of dessert. Or you will be sure to make a note so you don’t forget and yet you will forget none the less.

Either way, this recipe is basically 2 packages of cake mix thrown together in a hurry, sliced in half, rearranged and then filled and topped with homemade vanilla buttercream. Because I will use cake mixes but I draw the line at store bought frosting…or something like that.

And believe it or not, I took all these photos LAST YEAR because I actually forgot I was supposed to make the special 4th of July treat and couldn’t have posted these July 5th. How lame would that have been? So I saved them for THIS YEAR! I totally meant to do that 🙂

Anyways, these are fun for the kids, taste great and won’t take forever to make. Add a few sparklers to the top if you’re really feeling festive and enjoy!

Better than Paris Crepes Better than Paris Crepes

My love of food and cooking has always been with me, but didn’t really blossom until I went away to college and had to cook for myself. At first, I’d eat out a lot {hello freshman 15 25} but then I started copying my Mom’s recipes to have copies in my recipe box so those semesters away, I could make good food. Crepes was at the top of this list.

When I made them for the first time in my Sophomore year for myself {and by default for my roommates too} one of my roommates and best friends, Amy, insisted these were the best crepes she had ever had. She was the one who deemed these better than Paris crepes because she had just spent a semester studying abroad in Europe.

Surely she has been mistaken I thought. There is no possible way these could be better than the crepes you get is Paris. It’s PARIS.

But then I went to Paris last Fall and tried them for myself and by golly, I think she was right.

Lemon Dessert Lasagna Lemon Dessert Lasagna

I’m currently on vacation in Hawaii, so I’m going to make this brief:

Vacationing with kids is not a vacation at all. DON’T BE DECEIVED.
Even though we are in Hawaii {and it is the epitome of paradise} DON’T BE DECEIVED! Our kids are with us so it’s not very paradisiacal.
I’m eating a lot of food. And it’s all very, very good.
Groceries and food in general is very expensive in Hawaii, so #3 makes things tricky in keeping me on any kind of budget.
I don’t stay on a budget, in case you were wondering.
Beauty Tuesday didn’t happen because I’m wrangling kids, have a very obvious sun burn and have some super awesome frizzy hair thanks to the humidity here. Sooooooo, the opposite of beautiful? I’ll be back on track {I hope!} by next week.
I love lemon. You should know this by now.
I made a dessert involving lemon and it is good.
You should make this dessert.
That is all.

Lemon Butter Cake Lemon Butter Cake

Any fellow readers out there who also grew up on Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram? My Canadian side is starting to show when I start dropping THOSE names.

If you grew up in Canada in the 80’s, you will know exactly who I’m talking about.

Why do I bring up obscure Canadian folk singers who specialized in children’s songs? Because this damn song has been in my head for DAYS and it basically sums up my life.

I think I’ve complained talked about this before. Maybe on last Friday’s post? I’m too tired to read it through at this point. I’ve got a zillion and one things to do before we leave for Hawaii and the to-do list just keeps on coming.

Things like fix the fridge, fix the microwave, get a new stroller, get my husband a consult with a surgeon {nothing serious} and take the baby to the doctor that weren’t on my list last week have gotten put to the top of my list this week. Isn’t it great when you already have a busy week planned and then ALLTHETHINGS get shot to hell?

You love it when that happens too? Oh you guys. You really are my people.

So, yeah. The ‘I am slowly going crazy’ song is my literal reality.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that Blake turned 3 recently!! What a sweetie pie that boy is {usually…ha!} We will be doing a post all about his birthday soon, but I wanted to share this amazing amazing frosting recipe for his cake. {Scroll down to see his cake!}

YOU GUYS. Have you ever had sour cream in frosting before? It is NUTS. So so good. It adds a lovely tang and creaminess you just can’t get with any other dairy product. Plus this frosting paired with my Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe? Pure heaven.

Of course this frosting would be good on just about anything, but that’s a different story for another time.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Salted Caramel Ganache Chocolate Chip Cookies with Salted Caramel Ganache

I made these cookies yesterday and just about died at how freaking delicious they turned out to be.

Obviously warm chocolate chip cookies are incredible when done right. But yours truly decided to take things into ridiculous territory and add some warm salted caramel ganache {which is fancy talk for caramel melted together with cream and then sprinkled with sea salt}.

Thunder thighs be damned. I will eat cookies forever more.

I got so excited about this recipe that I changed my editorial calendar so I could share this recipe immediately. Everything got discombobulated, but that’s ok. These cookies? Totally worth it.

A few things to note:

I used a SECRET INGREDIENT in the cookie dough. They turned out deeeeelightful. No, it’s not crack.

The caramel bits make life so easy, but if you can’t find those, just use regular caramel squares, unwrap and use this recipe as stated. It’s all the same stuff.

Feel free to use smaller flakes of sea salt. I used bigger pieces so you could see them in the photo a little better.

That’s basically it! Please please please go make these today and eat them all warm. Your life will change for the better. If I had a bakery, I would make these and sell them for millions.

And yes, math is not my strong suit.

Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Sick kids are the worst. Snotty noses and fevers galore over at my house. The girls {Brooke and I} are magically immune to this nonsense. The boys? Notsomuch.

Poor Blake started it all with his stuffy nose and spiking fevers. {I blame the kids at the gym daycare. Actually, I just blame the gym. And possibly the treadmill. And the teacher that teaches total body conditioning.}

Then the second day we were in California, this glorious virus made its way to my sweet baby. Cue all the curse words.

THEN Gordon decided to work out yesterday and suddenly can’t bend over, lift his arms to any degree, squat, sit, crouch, etc. etc. because of said work out. Obviously, he’s not sick like my sons, but he sure is acting like it. Watch the first 10 seconds of this as a reference to understand the scope of what I’m dealing with.

My complaints about the gym making my sons sick and my husband nearly useless may or may not have to do with my vendetta against exercise. But, I digress.

Anyways, my little boys are having trouble sleeping, Eddie still has trouble nursing from time to time because he can’t breathe and his fever, though not super high, is still there which means his little body is trying to fight off whatever this is and I get to stay on top of his medicines.

I feel like Blake has turned a corner and is definitely on the mend, but Ed is still in the thick of it.

Gordon? It’s not looking good.

Mixed Berry Streusel Pie Mixed Berry Streusel Pie

So, I don’t typically talk much about my husband on this blog of mine. I mean, sure I’ll talk about his biceps and overall large muscle situation or how dreamy his dimples are, but beyond that I think you’re pretty much left in the dark. {Except for maybe this birthday post from last year?!}

Well, guess what folks? It’s about time you were brought into the light because he is more than just a muscle man pretty face.

Fred Meyer is Honoring Heros this month and they asked me to honor him by making one of his favorite recipes.

Fiiiiiine. If I have to….

Salty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Salty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Carrot Cupcakes Carrot Cupcakes
Chocolate Cobbler Chocolate Cobbler

My husband loves chocolate. This should not be new information to any of you readers who have followed my blog for a while now. He cannot cannot cannot get enough.

“Hey Gord, vanilla or choc…” CHOCOLATE.

Always.

When we were just starting to date eons ago {and he was beginning to see that he was, in fact, desperately in love with me} I made him a chocolate pie without knowing that he was chocolate’s #1 fan.

You guys. That sealed the deal. We were married later that year.

Well, if you faithful readers know anything about me, it’s that I LOVE lemon. Like, take away all the carbs and cheese and just give me all.the.lemon.things.

“Hey Lauren, what is your love langua…” LEMON.

So, valentine’s day is always interesting at our house. Chocolate AND lemon together does not a good combination make.

Oh, love: it’s what makes things wonderfully complicated at our house.

But because I love my husband, I make him something chocolatey and he finds me something lemony. This year, I’m making this chocolate cobbler.

{Perfect Every Time} Snickerdoodle Cookies {Perfect Every Time} Snickerdoodle Cookies

Here I sit, like a ticking clock.

No baby yet. My body is allegedly prepared, my house is spick and span as clean as its going to get and my bag is packed, in the car all ready to go! I literally just need a baby 🙂 My doctor was telling me that the odds are in my favor that I’ll be having this little dude by the weekend, but I’d rather just have him now, thanks. I’m sure my impatience isn’t helping the baby get here quicker by any means, but what else am I supposed to do? Bake?

Oh yes: BAKE!

And baking is what I’ve been doing….because I obviously refuse to give birth to a skinny baby. And my 6-month aversion to sweet things has slightly subsided. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m 94% sure it’s a sign that labor will begin in the next 24 hours, right? Riiiight?

Anyways, my husband is a chocoholic and typically if I’m going to make cookies, it’s chocolate chip. But when I call the shots slash when I get wicked cravings for things, husbands be damned. Snickerdoodle cookies it is. I love chocolate, but I love non-chocolate cookies more. It’s a problem?!

At some point during my sophomore year in college {when I gained a *leetle* more than the freshman 15} I found this recipe for Snickerdoodles. Mind you, this was 10-ish years ago so of course I have no idea where this recipe came from. My bad. But since I’ve been using it, I haven’t found a snickerdoodle cookie recipe I like more than this. I’m actually shocked that I haven’t posted this recipe before today. This honestly is a fool-proof recipe that you’ll continue to come back to again and again. Slightly crispy edges with big chewy centers, these cookies are the epitome of perfection.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Danish Chocolate Cream Cheese Danish

It’s the little things, you guys.

That sentence probably doesn’t make any sense, but it’s something I’m going to be working on this year as an informal resolution of sorts: to pay attention and enjoy the little things in life.

For instance: last week, my friends came to pick me up and take me out for an impromptu birthday dinner/baby shower. I have some pretty stellar friends, you guys 🙂

They were super sneaky and made sure to get my husband in on the surprise! I had a bit of a suspicion that something was going to happen, but wasn’t quite sure what. Man oh man, sometimes when you get caught up in mothering two kids and growing a third that you forget how fun girls’ nights are on a random Monday night. There was nothing complicated or fancy about it {which is totally my style} and completely casual and fun! I suppose they could have made it more complicated {like this baby shower I threw with a friend….oops?!} but honestly, I wouldn’t of had it any other way.
The more I think about this, the more I realize how much I enjoy the little, uncomplicated aspects of friendship. Believe me, I could do without some of the drama too, but it’s truly the little things that I am trying to focus on and remember, like this thoughtful party.

Crack Butterfinger Brownies Crack Butterfinger Brownies

Sometimes I post recipes I’m testing onto my Facebook page and you all become like rabid animals asking like a broken record “where’s the recipe? where’s the recipe?”

Calm down, folks!

You ask, I deliver.

I mean, not all the time, but usually I do my best to oblige.

Chocolate Christmas Bark Chocolate Christmas Bark

Chocolate Bark for Christmas. Seems like an easy thing to pull off right?

Generally speaking, yes, it’s a super simple sweet treat that everyone seems to love. But when my little family is involved, things tend to get a *leetle* more complicated.

Or a lot complicated.

Who knew that I could deeply, DEEPLY offend my daughter for offering to put dried apricots on her little chocolate bark? Or that my husband would scoff at the idea of chips in his chocolate bark? {Um, we’re not related.} Or that my two year old would want everything under the sun on his chocolate bark? {I sort of saw that coming…}

You guys. I assure you that my family is an easy going bunch, but when it comes to their desserts, I obviously had greater expectations that we could all get along in love and kindness.

Guess not?!

So once we got these all made and cut into pieces, we each went our own ways with our customized Christmas Barks and called it a day.

If you don’t have anyone with a strong opinion in your household, you can make this Chocolate Christmas Bark in mere minutes with any toppings you have in your pantry. If you do have a couple of those highly opinionated folks, you might want to abort this idea until they are MIA.

I speak from experience. I tell you because I care.

June’s Shortbread June’s Shortbread

There once was a lady named June.

June was friends with my Mom.

June made this amazing shortbread.

Once day, my Mom asked June for the recipe.

June said “ok” and my family has been making this ever since.

Since I can remember, my Mom has been making this recipe for Christmas every year. She made it for my teachers at school. She made it for Christmas parties. She made it for cookie exchanges. She made it because we would request it. Why? Because everyone who tried this angelic shortbread loves it and then proceeds to ask for June’s recipe.

So, I decided to share this recipe for June’s shortbread today because it’s a fool-proof recipe with 4 main ingredients that will blow.your.minds. Who knew shortbread could be so delicious? Not this girl. But I grew up eating this for 29+ years, soooo all shortbread in comparison can’t hold its own.