CAMP ORGANIZATION

My psychotic plan-ahead packing strategy apparently worked! I got a note from Ari’s counselors that they helped him unpack in a snap and he was the *most organized camper ever*. I’m thrilled TBH. They’re allowed to have a trunk at the foot of the bed to store things, drawers, and they have some shelves in the cabin. They can bring a duffle bag with bedding which gets put away until the end of camp.

I’ve linked everything below:

 

  1. TRUNK: This is super sturdy and rolls really well. Inside fits the trunk lid organizer, 2 sets of packing cubes (8 cubes, 2 shoe bags, and 2 laundry bags), and 2 small tupperwear boxes
  2. ROLLING DRAWERS: 4 drawers fit every day items, socks, underwear, jammies. Label with white tape and a sharpie.
  3. XL DUFFLE BAG: This will fold up and be put away until the end of camp. Fits mattress cover, bedding, dop kit, and shower caddy
  4. CUSTOM LUGGAGE TAG AND LABELS by me 🙂

 

Good luck, parents! I’m on an emotional rollercoaster and have spent my day refreshing the camp blog for photos of Ari!

xo

L

MY SKIN ESSENTIALS

While there were many things during the last year I could not control, one thing I could control was the quality of my skin! After using these products below, my skin really started glowing, and not just from rage! I made it a priority to use these on my face twice a day. Plus when you’re in your house for over a year, you really will get sick of looking at your own dumb face in the mirror and want to do something about it. This mother’s day, go ahead and get it for yourself… you know no one else is going to do it!

 

I go to Gilpin Facial Aesthetics for skin care and Botox. I love the staff! So friendly and knowledgable. The first time I went in I was like ahhhh help I look dead! Christine and Meredith swooped in and figured it out for me. Bonus, the office is gorgeous. I highly recommend going in for your own consultation, but these products have served me so well. I even made Jeffrey use the moisturizer and now he’s even more in love with his reflection (jokes).

 

*USE DISCOUNT CODE LOVE20 AT CHECKOUT for 20% off!

MORNING:

  1. Face wash: This is just a gentle wash that magically takes off my makeup so well (when I actually wear makeup). You just need a tiny bit, so it lasts forever.
  2. Glow pads: These pads are great for breakouts but also just for a general deep clean glowy look
  3. Serum: I use this all over including under my eyes. It’s supposed to help with fine wrinkles, so I’m all in.
  4. Eye cream: I’ve used other eye creams that have been heavy or made my eyes sting. This one is awesome and actually reasonably priced for eye cream.
  5. Moisturizer: I have super dry skin, and this leaves me feeling good all day. When I put it on at night I wake up and I’m still moisturized!
  6. Sunscreen: This is tinted so it makes me look a touch more put together while also protecting my skin from the sun
  7. Lip Treatment: When regular life resumes and people actually see my lips, this lip plumper is awesome! Make sure to just dab it on a tiny bit. A little goes a long way and it will tint your skin a bit.

NIGHT:

Just add in Alpharet as step 4 before eye cream and moisturizer and obviously no sunscreen or lip treatment. Leave the Alpharet on for at least 5 minutes before applying moisturizer.

 

Be sure to use love20 for a 20% off discount! I don’t make money on this FYI! If you need to just pick three things, I’d go with the glow pads, serum, and moisturizer. Okay and sunscreen. Hope this helps!

 

xo
Leah

 

 

 

 

EARTH DAY

Happy Earth Day! While I still have a TON to learn and change about how we live, one super simple way we’ve changed is by eliminating paper napkins and paper towels. We were going through an entire container every week it seemed! I promise you can do this with three disgusting- I mean- charming kids….they use their shirt as a napkin when they think I’m not looking anyway. I switched a couple years ago, and it’s seriously been so easy. I keep one roll of paper towels for like super gross bathroom messes because helloooo potty training, but we go through one paper towel roll every few MONTHS. Below are a few links of reusable cleaning cloths, napkins, and kitchen towels.

 

FAQ: Washing isn’t a big deal. One we use the napkins, I rinse off the food in the sink and wring out the water. I throw them in the laundry room sink (or you could have a dedicated bucket) until I’m read to put a load of laundry in. Wash the cloth napkins and towels and dry with your clothes. I only buy napkins and towels that don’t need ironing!! For the swedish dishcloths below, I put them in a mesh garment bag, so I can grab them out of the washer to air dry flat. One single dishcloth last months! I store the towels in a bigger kitchen drawer so they’re hidden away and the napkins in a smaller drawer where the kids can reach easily. I store the swedish dishcloths under the sink so they’re right there easy to grab.

 

Instead of PAPER TOWELS, try Swedish dishcloths

I use just one to clean the counters and kitchen table after meals. Wash them in the washing machine in a mesh garment bag and just let them air dry. 

Instead of everyday PAPER NAPKINS, try cloth napkins

GRAY PINSTRIPES:  organic cloth napkins   zero waste kitchen 17 x 17  (set of 2)

or these

Instead of PAPER HAND TOWELS, try pretty kitchen towels

Coal Cotton Tea Towels (Set of 3)

or these

or these

I have these in our powder room

Hope this helps!

xo

Leah

CROCHET DINO AMIGURUMI – FREE PATTERN

I just learned to crochet in December, and I’m loving it! My kids are loving all of their new amigurumi (crocheted stuffed toys) and have become little dictators on what I make next. Through YouTube and free tutorials I’ve found online, I’ve been able to come up with this super simple pattern for what could definitely almost pass as a t-rex. I’ve linked my favorite technique tutorials and materials below along with the pattern. When you first watch the tutorials, it all seems overwhelming! Just try it out on test yarn until you get the hang of it. My first crocheted piece looked lumpy and super weird, but my second looked better. Seriously… you can do this!

Big chonky dino

Teeny baby dino

 

MATERIALS I LOVE

This chunky yarn is sooo soft and great for making bigger things. Stitches are slightly harder to see when crocheting, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

This yarn for making tiny babies. Great for beginners – you can see stitches easily and pull through the stitches smoothly. Yarn is soft. It doesn’t get ratty like other small yarns. I used this as the white yarn for the teeth for the chunky dino too.

Fiberfill

Crochet hooks (your yarn will tell you what size to use, but this set has them all)

Safety eyes

Sewing needle for yarn

Yarn cutter (or scissors, but I like to keep this in my knitting bag since it’s not pointy)

 

ABBREVIATIONS WITH LINKS

Magic ring

st = stitch

sc = single crochet

inc = increase (2 stitches in the same stitch)

dec = decrease

( ) = the number of stitches you should have at the end of each row

 

BODY

Row 1: make magic ring with 6 st (6)

Row 2: inc on each stitch (12)

Row 3: (1 sc, inc) x 6 (18)

Row 4: (2 sc, inc) x 6 (24)

Row 5: (3 sc, inc) x 6 (30)

Rows 6-17: 30 sc (30)

Add in your safety eyes between rows 13 and 14. Space the eyes out with 5 or 6 stitches in between.

Stuff with fiberfill almost up to the top (you’ll fill in the rest at the end)

Row 18:  (3 sc, dec) x 6 (24)

Row 19: (2 sc, dec) x 6 (18)

Row 20: (1 sc, dec) x 6 (12)

Row 21: dec x 6 (6)

Finish stuffing with fiberfill and squeeze it around to get a good shape and firmness you like.

Cut the yarn with a long tail and thread a sewing needle through the end (fasten off). Pick up the front loop of each of the remaining 6 stitches and sew the body closed stitch by stitch (video here).

Thread the tail from the top of the body where you just closed the last row, down to the bottom center of the body. Thread back up to the head and cut the yarn close to the body. This sort of squares up the body so it’s not so egg-like. Push any remaining yarn into the body with your needle.

 

TAIL

Row 1: 4 st in magic ring (4)

Row 2: (1 sc, inc) x 4 (6)

Row 3: 6 sc (6)

Row 4: (1 sc, inc) x 3 (9)

Row 5: (1 sc, inc) x 4 (13)

Row 6: 13 sc

Cut yarn with a long tail. Slip the end of the tail through the last loop and pull tight. You’ll leave this open- don’t close it up like you did with the body.

Stuff with fiberfill.

Attach to rows 5-10 just by sewing through each loop onto the body. Pass the yarn through a few times before cutting off the access yarn.

 

ARMS + LEGS (make 4)

Row 1: magic ring 5 st

Cut yarn with a long tail. Slip the end of the tail through the last loop and pull tight.

Once you pull the tail it should make a C shape, but I like to sew it on in a little ball with a stitch.

Attach arms between rows 10-12 just to the sides of the eyes.

Attach legs between rows 3-5.

 

TEETH

Row 12 (from the bottom): Add 2 white v’s using any white yarn. You can space them one or 2 stitches apart (or touching like vv) just make sure they’re centered between the eyes.

 

Happy crocheting!

xo

Leah

SOFT, SUGAR-COATED HAMENTASHEN

SOFT, SUGAR-COATED HAMENTASHEN

Hamentashen are a traditional three-cornered cookie we (Jews) make on Purim! I grew up in St. Louis, MO. There was this great Jewish bakery called Pratzels, and I would look forward to their hamentashen every year. Most other recipes I’ve tried are crunchy, crumbly, dry, or tasteless. But this bakery made them soft, filled them with a delicious pie filling situation, and covered them in sugar. Sadly it closed, but I think I made a pretty good sub recipe which also doubles as a great sugar cookie recipe! Because this dough is so soft, I like to fold the corners over like you see in the photos rather than pinching the corners like you’ll see in traditional hamentashen.

IMPORTATANT NOTES:
  1. You really really need to chill the dough. Try and make the dough the night before or at least chill for a couple hours in the freezer. Divide the dough in quarters and wrap each in saran wrap. No need to make them into disks. The dough is super soft but keeps it’s shape. Stack them together and wrap in foil to avoid any odor contamination in your fridge.
  2. Keep the dough chilled for the whole process. So that means roll the dough out and cut the circles. Chill in the freezer. Add the filling and shape. Put the tray back in the freezer. Coat with sugar, and THEN you can bake. They will keep their shape so much better. Do it one tray at a time for the most efficient baking schedule: cut the circles and place on one tray, freeze, while that tray is freezing cut circles and place on the next tray, etc.
  3. Don’t overfill the cookies or have the topping be runny. I used about 7 chocolate chips / 3 cherries from the pie filling WITHOUT the juice.

 

RECIPE:

1 c. margarine (I know, right? Just trust me), room temp

1 c. granulated sugar

1 egg, room temp

2 tbsp whole milk, room temp (you can use half and half)

2 tsp real vanilla extract

3 c. flour (I always bake with bread flour)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Filling: cherry pie filling is my favorite, jams, nutella, chocolate chips, sprinkles

A little extra granulated sugar for the outside

4″ round cutter. You can make them smaller if you want, I just love them in this size, so they’re nice and soft.

 

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Sift all dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Mix butter and sugar til fluffy 2-3 min.
  3. Add egg and mix well.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients alternating with milk.
  6. Mix until just combined.
  7. Divide the dough into four parts, plop each down on Saran Wrap and wrap each tightly. Stack them up and wrap them all in foil. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least stick them in your freezer for a couple hours.
  8. Take one disc out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured board, 1/4″ thick.
  9. Cut 4″ circles and place on a parchment paper-lined tray.
  10. Chill in the freezer while you work on the next tray.
  11. Fill each circle with a SMALL amount of filling. I used about 7 chocolate chips OR 4-5 cherries (try to keep the runny parts to a minimum). The larger you make the circles, the more filling you can use and vice versa.
  12. Form triangles and pinch the corners together slightly to make sure they don’t fall apart and spill all the filling! This dough is really soft so I like to fold them over rather than pinch sharp corners like traditional hamentashen.
  13. Chill in the freezer completely while you work on the next tray.
  14. Once chilled, wet the dough a little with your fingers or a brush and sprinkle the triangles generously with granulated sugar.
  15. Chill again in the freezer again for 20 minutes or so. The longer they’re chilled, the more they will keep their shape. If you’re making way in advance, just keep them covered in the fridge.
  16. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until very very very slightly golden. The whole point is to keep these SOFT so please don’t over-bake them. Cool on the tray for a minute or two only, then slip the cookies still on the parchment paper off the tray to cool completely.

 

Mazel tov, you’ve made delicious hamentashen!!

 

xo

Leah

 

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE + 3 FROSTING RECIPES

The most m-0-i-s-t chocolate cake you’ll ever have. I promise! Jeffrey’s favorite combination is with the chocolate frosting recipe, and I think it’s incredible with marshmallow frosting or peanut butter frosting (all below). It’s definitely an impressive cake you’d make for company and the cake recipe everyone requests for their birthdays. VERY easy too, but you must keep an eye on it while you’re baking and follow my tips below.

SCROLL DOWN FOR CAKE AND 3 DIFFERENT FROSTING RECIPES.

For my favorite vanilla cake recipe, click HERE.

Here’s how a slice looks baked in a sheet pan- the easiest way to bake.

And here’s Jeffrey’s birthday cake from this year in 2 layer 8″ cake rounds:

Here’s what I look like when I see cake:

 

CAKE RECIPE

Adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (I use bread flour)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups (good!!) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (good) pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter two 8″ round cake pans or one 11×13″ sheet pan (I use a metal brownie pan)
Line with the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour (or use cocoa powder) the pans.
If you’re using a sheet pan, have the parchment paper hang off on either side so you’ll have little handles to pop it out when you’re ready to cool it.
  1. In a large bowl with a whisk, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. I actually don’t like using an electric mixer with this recipe- it’s too liquidy
  2. In a medium bowl, take the whisk and mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spatula or spoon.
  4. Slowly add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake about 20 minutes. Always bake for a few minutes less if you’ve never made this recipe before, so you don’t over-bake the cakes. You can always add more time, you can’t take away. When you start to smell it, it’s probably almost done. Give the pan a jiggle when you start smelling it. Keep adding 3 minutes on your time and checking it again. It should jiggle like solid pudding, not like jello. It will continue baking in your pan after you take it out of the oven. If you’re unsure, you can put a knife in the middle and it should come out with a few crumbs.
  6. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes (unless you’ve over-baked it*). Run a knife around the edges so the cake will come out more easily. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper. It’s a gooey cake, so the parchment paper on the cooling rack is KEY to keeping things neat. If you’re baking it in a sheet pan, you’ll already have the parchment paper to just pop off and place on the cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting or the frosting will melt.
*If you’ve accidentally over-baked your cake, pop it out of the cake pan immediately to cool on a cooling rack or it will keep baking. Scrape off any crispy parts. Combine 1/4 cup of milk with 1/4 tsp vanilla. Brush it all over the surface of the cake then cool completely before frosting.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING RECIPE

Adapted from Magnolia Bakery
* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve this recipe since you’re not covering as much area. This frosting is rich!
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons whole milk or half & half, room temp
12 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate)
1 small pinch fleur de sel / sea salt / kosher salt
1 teaspoon (good!!) vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Directions:
  1. To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Add a tiny pinch of sea salt. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, 3 minutes
  4. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth
  5. Add the melted chocolate and beat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.
  7. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium until fluffy.
Your frosting might be a little melty so keep your mixer and beater attachment out. Refrigerate the frosting in the mixing bowl for 30 min or until the frosting is more solid, then re-whip it with the mixer right before frosting the cake.

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

This will make the cake taste like a s’mores! We all LOVE this combo too;

* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve the recipe since you’re not covering as much area.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, room temp (or add 1/4 tsp salt to unsalted butter)

14 ounces Marshmallow Fluff

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon good vanilla

 

Directions:

Whip all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate for a bit if it’s too melty. You’ll be able to make prettier swirls if it’s cooled slightly.

 

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

Ina Garten
* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve the recipe since you’re not covering as much area. This frosting is rich!
Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Beat all ingredients except the cream in a mixer on low until creamy. Add the cream and beat on high until fluffy and smooth.

 

 

You are going to LOVE this!! Enjoy!
-L

CARAMEL COVERED CINNAMON ROLLS

My mom usually makes these for special brunches, but these are so good they should be shared with all of you! You must make the dough OVERNIGHT – sorry! But the good news is you’ll just pop them in the oven, make the caramel sauce while they bake, and have the yummiest smell filling your home! It’s Christmas Eve, and I just put the rolls into the fridge to rise overnight. Cannot wait to bake them tomorrow!

 

CINNAMON ROLL INGREDIENTS

2 packages of yeast (or 4 1/2 tsps)

5-6 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup very hot water

1/2 cup softened butter

2 eggs

 

FILLING INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon (mix with the sugar)

 

CARAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp karo syrup (you can sub maple syrup)

 

MAKE THE DOUGH THE NIGHT BEFORE:

Combine TWO CUPS of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.

Add hot water to dry ingredients all at once.

Beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add butter.

Add eggs one at a time,

Stir in remaining 3-4 cups of flour gradually. Use just enough to make soft dough which leaves the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto floured counter and knead 5-10 minutes or use a bread dough hook and mix for 3 minutes.

Cover with plastic then a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a about a 12×24″ rectangle.

Spread melted butter then sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture on top.

Roll up length wise (on the 24″ side).

Cut with a serrated knife into about 12 slices (see my ugly little bun on the corner? That was the two ends of the roll mushed together lol.

Place face side up on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet WITH SPACES in between. They will puff up lots and fill up most of the space on the tray. Made that mistake before and OMG they were massive and weird looking.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator, uncover, and let stand 10 minutes while preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Puncture any surface bubbles with a greased toothpick.

Bake 20-25 minutes. (check centers with toothpick until comes out just clean. Rolls will be slightly browned but don’t overdo it! I would always rather they were a little gooey than a little dry!

 

MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE:

While the rolls are baking, place 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tbsp Karo syrup in a large saucepan.

Boil slowly for approximately 10 minutes.

Keep a careful watch and stir it down if it boils up high at first. Let cook until deep caramel colored but don’t let it burn! This happens very quickly.

Pour over the rolls as soon as they’re out of the oven.

Enjoy!

 

GINGERSNAP CARAMEL PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE



I found these gingersnaps… mainly purchased for the tin… and OMG they are so good! I thought that in order to not eat the entire tin in one day, I better use them for a pie to be shared. Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to turn these cookies into the crust for a gingersnap caramel pumpkin cheesecake! I had extra batter since I used a smaller springform pan, and made 6 minis- so cute and easy. I actually liked the balance between crust and filling on the minis better than the cake… both great, don’t get me wrong. If you have extra minis, they would be perfect to drop off on a neighbor’s porch (which I did) since many cannot get home to see their families. Effing Covid.

Gingersnap Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Scroll down for the mini version (you don’t necessarily need to make a crust for this- just use the unbroken cookie as the base).

 

Crust and cheesecake via The Pioneer Woman

Caramel sauce via The Brown Eyed Baker

 

 

Crust Ingredients (for minis you just need the cookies):

12 oz. (about 54) gingersnaps plus 8-10 extras for the topping – THESE are the best!

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 dash of salt

 

Caramel Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup granulate sugar

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

1 tsp sea salt

2/3 heavy cream

 

Filling Ingredients:

4 packages (8 0z. packages) cream cheese

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 can 15-ounce pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

4 whole eggs

2 tbsp. heavy cream

 

Equipment:

food processor (or ziplock bag and a rolling pin could substitute)

9″ or 10″ springform pan

muffin liners or ramekins if you’re making minis

parchment paper

rimmed baking sheet

 

1. Make the crust:

Lightly butter a 9″ or 10″ springform pan. In a food processor (or large Ziploc bag), crush gingersnaps. Add chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse (or mix) until thoroughly combined. Press into bottom and sides of the springform pan. Chill crust for 20-30 minutes.

 

2. Make the caramel sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, but that’s okay – it will melt eventually – just keep whisking. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. At that point, whisk in the salt, and then add the butter all at once and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before using.

 

3. Make the filling:

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix again. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each addition. Add cream and mix until just combined.

 

4. Assemble the cake:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I did not not do this and the caramel leaked through and burned my oven… yikes. Pour a little less than half of the caramel sauce onto the crust (I prefer more on top of the cake), moving the springform pan around so that it coats the sides and bottom. Save the rest of the caramel in an airtight container for the top of the cake before serving. Put the crust back in the fridge to set. Pour the filling into the caramel-coated crust and fill up to the top of the crust. If you have extra filling, see below suggestion for minis. Place the cheesecake on top of the parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees, 1 hour and 15-30 minutes until jiggly but not soupy. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight. Remove rim of the pan then use a spatula to carefully remove the bottom of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Pour the rest of the caramel sauce on top. Top with crumbled gingersnaps. Slice and eat!

 

For minis:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place muffin liners or ramekins (lightly butter these) on the baking sheet. Instead of making a crust, just place a whole gingersnap cookie on the bottom of the liner. Cover it with a little caramel. When this bakes, the cookie and caramel will fuse together into a soft delicious crust. Fill each about half way with the cheesecake filling. Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes until jiggly but not soupy. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. They look cute in their liners or ramekins plus… it’s easier… no need to transfer! Top each mini with remaining caramel sauce and crumbled gingersnaps before serving.

 

xo

Leah

RBG COLLAR

All rise! This easy DIY Ruth Bader Ginsburg collar is the perfect halloween costume honoring the notorious RBG. Use whatever material you have around the house- felt, paper, an old sweatshirt, whatever. I cut this out from a reusable grocery tote bag and taped jewels on.

On this other version (modeled by my brother lol), I just drew lines and circles with a white paint pen. You can also jazz it up with jewels or pearls.

WHAT YOU NEED:

fabric / felt / grocery bag / old shirt

paint pen / paint / sharpie

scissors

string

hole punch

extra credit: jewels or pearls (I used strong double stick tape)

 

  1. Print out templates. To cut out and trace on another material, click HERE. To print out in black and white and use as your actual collar (like if you’re printing it to use on paper), click HERE.
  2. Cut out collar and trace
  3. Punch holes in either corner and string
  4. Decorate!

 

ROSH HASHANAH TREAT BOARD

Happy New Year to those who celebrate! I created a cheese-board-like creation with my favorite Rosh Hashanah treats: homemade challah, honey cake, and apples & honey. Also this wooden platter is the PERFECT size, food safe, and $39. Scroll down for the recipes!

HONEY CAKE

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBSP brewed coffee (warm)
  • ½ cup plus 2 TBSP orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray then line with parchment paper, leaving an inch overhang on each side.
  2. In a large bowl (no need for an electric mixer), whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice.
  3. Stir together with a wooden spoon or spatula until all ingredients are well-blended, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes. The cake should be SLIGHTLY jiggly. I like to set my timer to 30 minutes and check 3 minutes at a time. If it jiggles like pudding, it needs a couple more minutes. I hate dry bread, so undercooking it a tad keeps it moist.
  6. Immediately grab the parchment paper and pop out of the pans so it doesn’t keep cooking in the pan. See how the photo has that yummy looking puddle in the middle? That’s the good stuff. The bottom of this cake bakes up FAST, so you really don’t want it to burn.

RECIPE NOTES:

This recipe can be made in two standard loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9- or 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9×13-inch sheet cake, but baking times will differ.
Now onto the challah…

 

CHALLAH

This is my favorite challah recipe! IT. IS. SO. GOOD. Our family friend, Carol, shared this recipe with my mom and me, and we will forever be grateful. Chewy and slightly sweet. Spread butter on a slice and drizzle with a little honey. I usually like to braid a 4 part braid and form into a ring so that the challah bakes evenly all around (SEE POST HERE), but I wanted it smaller for the board- see this braiding technique for a round challah HERE. We traditionally bake a round challah for holidays.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tsp honey
1 pkg yeast
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs (+ 1 egg for egg wash – see notes for alternatives)
4 c bread flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Dissolve 1 tsp honey in 1/2 c. warm water in large mixing bowl which has been rinsed with hot water.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top, mix, let stand 10 min.
  3. Stir in oil, 1/2 c. warm water, sugar, 1 tsp honey, salt, eggs, and 2 c. flour. Beat well.
  4. Stir in remaining 2 c. flour. Dough will be sticky.
  5. Knead 2-3 minutes with a bread hook attachment or turn onto a floured board and knead.
  6. Round up in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hrs. It should have doubled in size. Gently put finger in top; if dough stays indented, it’s finished. If it bounces back, continue to rise.
  7. Punch down, cover, let rise again 45 min.
  8. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Divide into sections and braid (ring instructions HERE, round instructions HERE), tucking in the ends.
  9. Cover, rise 20-30 minutes.
  10. Brush with beaten egg yolk and 1 tsp water (or sub- see below). Optional: sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  11. Bake 400 degrees 15-20 min. The last 5 minutes or so, you can cover the top with foil so it doesn’t get too brown. Put a toothpick in the center of a braid and check for doneness. My mom and I like to under bake it just a tad so it doesn’t dry out- we like it a tiny bit gooey but it’s all to your preference.
  12. Eat! Delicious with butter and /or honey. Perfect the next morning for french toast.

RECIPE NOTES:

I always run out of eggs for the egg wash! You can sub with melted butter before you put it in the oven then a little when you take it out. I also spread a little honey on top to really take it to the next level.

xo

Leah

MY GO-TO YELLOW CAKE + MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

I updated my go-to yellow cake recipe! This cake is m-o-i-s-t, slightly dense but light, buttery, and absolutely delicious. I promise it’s easy and WAY better than boxed. The marshmallow frosting is nice and gooey and not as sweet as you’d think. The flavors go really well together! Scroll down for the recipe, but READ THESE NOTES FIRST:
  1. If you want your cake to taste fresh and delicious, use fresh and delicious ingredients. I know that sounds like common sense- but seriously- use GOOD and real (read: expensive) vanilla extract, use the best butter, eggs, milk, etc. It truly makes a difference.
  2. UNDER BAKE this cake. My rule of thumb is set the timer 5-10 minutes under what the recipe says and keep testing every 2-3 minutes. The cake should be firm with a little JIGGLE when you gently shake the pan. It will KEEP COOKING in the pan!! Put a knife in the middle and it should come out with crumbs on it- NOT clean. Clean means you probably over baked it. But still eat it. Obviously.
  3. IF YOU OVER BAKE IT and the bottom is brown, wait for the cake to cool then take a serrated knife and skim off the brown. Brush the milk soak on it, and it should help the moisture level.
  4. For the reason above, please please please line your pan with parchment paper buttered on both sides! Even I have over baked my cake (who meeeee?) and needed to resort to the cake shaving!
  5. For lazy baking, I use an 11×13″ baking pan you’d normally use for brownies. It’s one layer and easier to store than a layer cake. Still line with parchment and butter in case you need to pop it out.

CAKE RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temp
2 3/4 cups bread flour (I just always bake with bread flour, but you can use all purpose!)
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (to make your own, mix 1 cup of milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar and let it sit for 5 min)
2 tbsp good vanilla extract
Milk soak: 1/4 cup milk + 1 tsp vanilla
parchment paper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 9″ round pans or 1 9×13 pan with parchment paper (butter pan, place parchment paper down, butter parchment paper).
  3. Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Beat butter for 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat another 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly.
  5. Add flour mixture on lowest speed one cup at a time, alternating with milk. End with the flour mixture.
  6. Add vanilla and mix well.
  7. Pour into prepared cake pans.
  8. Bake about 20 minutes in the 9″ rounds or 30 minutes in the 9×13 pan until a knife inserted in the center comes out with crumbs. DO NOT over bake- the secret to the yummiest cakes (see notes above). The cake should jiggle a tiny bit in the middle like firm jello (not gooey pudding) and be the slightest golden brown.
  9. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5-10 minutes only, then flip out on a wire rack covered with parchment paper and cool completely.
  10. Mix milk soak together and brush over the surface of the cake before frosting.

MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

INGREDIENTS

1 cup salted butter, room temp (or add 1/4 tsp salt to unsalted butter)

14 ounces Marshmallow Fluff

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve the recipe since you’re not covering as much area. This frosting is rich!

 

  1. Mix butter on medium speed until smooth. Add in the Marshmallow Fluff and mix for an additional minute, or until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Turn the mixer to low and add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing until combined, then turn the mixer up to medium and mix for another minute. Add food coloring if you want.
  3. Scoop a small amount and drop onto the cake. Take an offset spatula or knife and cover the surface of the cake- it’s ok if crumbs get mixed in- this is called the crumb coat! Let that set.
  4. Scoop and drop the rest of the frosting on the cake and spread. Top with sprinkles!

RECIPE: FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES + JOSHIE’S 3RD BIRTHDAY

Joshie turned THREE! We had such fun day at my parents’ house, mainly directed by him since he’s in a SUPER bossy phase. Hilarious when it’s directed towards his brothers… not so much when it’s directed towards Jeffrey and me. My parents’ ordered this big balloon display from STL Balloons and an ice cream truck to come by!! He was shocked, and we all had so much fun. Since it was just the 7 of us, I didn’t really go all out like I usually would. Just a few details and lots of sugar. Joshie loves dinosaurs and the color blue which became the loosly-based-but-also-the-pandemic-so-whatever theme.

 

Since Joshie oddly doesn’t like chocolate, I made him my favorite sugar cookies and frosting but made them into easy bars. Like I said… pandemic whatever I’m not rolling and cutting these into shapes! SO simple and delicious. The cookie part is soft and fluffy and not too sweet. The frosting is from this recipe for swig cookies since I wanted that thicker frosting. SO good. If you’re using this cookie recipe for cut out holiday cookies, you might want a thinner frosting that dries. This recipe pairs really well together, but it’s not great for stacking and packaging. More just for eating.

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE RECIPE!

 

For the party hats, I cut out a spikey shape, scored the edge, folded it, and used double stick tape to secure it to the side of the party hats.


I made Joshiesaurus tattoos- he loved them!! Purchase in my shop HERE.

I got the little dinosaurs (natural plastic, non-toxic) HERE and then just put them in a 3 shape on a grocery store cake.

Social-distanced ice cream truck party with cousins and neighbors!

Georgie being weird and charming.


Momtern and Dadtern!

Now for the cookie recipe that everyone loved!

COOKIE RECIPE:

  • 1 c. butter or margarine (or half and half) room temp
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 2 tbsp whole milk, room temp
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 c. flour (I always bake with bread flour but AP is fine)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Sift all dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Mix butter and sugar til fluffy 2-3 min.
  • Add egg and mix well.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Slowly mix in dry ingredients alternating with milk.
  • Mix until just combined.
  • For bar cookies: press dough into a small sheet pan lined with parchment paper, press plastic wrap on top of the dough, and chill for a couple hours or overnight.
  • For cut out cookies, press dough into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap, chill for a couple hours or overnight. Flour the counter and dough really well. Roll out super thin if you want them to keep their shape otherwise they will puff up and be delicious, but not perfectly shaped. Might want to add a little more flour to the dough as you roll it out. Make sure to pop them back into the fridge or freezer once they’re shaped and on parchment lined baking pans before you put them in the oven to bake.
  • Bake 350Âş for 10-12 minutes until BARELY golden- for real. Don’t over bake these! They will continue cooking in the pan after you take them out of the oven.
  • Once cooled, use the parchment paper to peel the bars out of the pan, ice, and slice. Again, chill if you want cutting to be super easy.

 

COOKIE BAR FROSTING RECIPE:

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon sour cream
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk**

Mix all but food coloring and milk together until fluffy. Add food color if you want. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time if needed to thin out or soften the frosting. Spread onto cookies once cookie has been completely cooled.

Keep in an airtight container room temp for a couple days or frozen to keep perfectly fresh.

 

Here’s what the cookies look like rolled and cut before decorating. A little soft and fluffy, a lot yummy!

ICING FROSTING RECIPE:

9 tbsp butter, room temp

6 cups powdered sugar, SIFTED for real it makes a difference- sorry

3 tsp vanilla

1/4 + 1/8 cup whole milk

Mix all together until fluffy. You may need to add more milk if you want it drippier. Separate into bowls and add in food coloring.

 

xo,

L