Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

As promised, here is part two of my late holiday post series, where I will share some Thanksgiving dessert recipes. It’s so late it’s just in time for this Thanksgiving! Can I pretend I did that on purpose? 

Last year, much like the year before, we invited some friends over for a sort of potluck style meal. I’m not all that social but I do like to be hostessy from time to time and I really enjoyed it. Living in a military town with most of our families miles away, it’s nice to come together to create a nice holiday experience for each other.

Everyone brought stuff, so I think we just made the turkey and a couple other things. I love baking and really wanted to try this Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie. I ended up looking up a couple other recipes and modifying it cause I like to mess with things, but this one is nice and simple. 

My other dessert is a little more extravagant and actually from Halloween, but it works for Thanksgiving too. I’d been watching Eugenie Kitchen on YouTube. She makes a lot of slice and bake cookies. They’re kind of like polymer clay canes, so of course I was intrigued. 

I was inspired to create my own design and, at the same time, decided to try a No Spread Cookie recipe from Pinterest. It didn’t work that well for this technique. They turned out okay but next time I would probably use a regular sugar cookie recipe or these amazing Pumpkin Sugar Cookies.

I get that making art out of food is probably not everyone’s thing, but if you like that sort of challenge, it can be fun. 
So there’s a few recipes and ideas; try one or all and let me know how it goes! I’d like to do some more experimenting myself but wanted to get these posts done at least before this year’s holidays! 

Carrot Cake in a Jar Recipe & Birthday Care Package

One of the most depressing things about deployment is spending special occasions apart. I mean it’s one of many things that suck, but special days always remind you of who you want to be with most, and sometimes you just can’t.

But, one of my favorite ways of dealing with that has always been making epic care packages. I’ve sent many, but I didn’t have a blog during our last two deployments. And this time he left right before his birthday and the holidays and our anniversary. Yay military life! But at least I will have lots of ideas to share.

Joe, like my brother, always likes carrot cake for his birthday. So I’ve made many of those as well, and even mailed one before, each layer in a ziploc bag, with store-bought frosting. This time he told me it might take even longer for mail to arrive, so I wanted to try the jar cake thing I’d been hearing about.

I read mixed opinions about whether or not it works and, never having tried any kind of canning by myself, I didn’t want to send him an experiment that might go wrong. So I ended up mailing the the cake the usual way and making a little jar cake for myself, to eat pathetically by myself on his birthday and see if it worked.

Mail was relatively quick this time and both cakes turned out fine. I didn’t hear the “pop” with mine, but I could tell the lid had sealed because there was no room for it to move when poked – and it was pretty hard to get off 3 weeks later! The only thing I would do differently is use a smaller jar so it would bake more evenly. And make better frosting, but that can’t really be helped.

So, without further ado, here is a link to the cake-in-a-jar instructions and the carrot cake recipe I used. You can, of course, make any kind of cake, or even use a mix. Personally I’ve always been a fan of homemade, especially when it’s for someone special!

Carrot Cake Recipe

Cake in a Jar Instructions

I boxed up the cake with frosting, party plates, etc, candles, a card, and some other stuff he’d asked for, and ordered his actual gift online. FYI, for Crossfitter soldiers, Rogue Fitness has a website just for mailing to APO addresses.



I kinda forgot to take pictures so these ones are old, but you get the idea!
I hope this is helpful for any far-off loved ones you may have, military or otherwise. Stay tuned for Christmas care package ideas!

Delicious Lemon Cake Recipe


When it comes to dessert, as I may have mentioned, I’m a chocolate kinda girl. I have a sweet tooth in general and I’ll try almost anything once but my mom once said she doesn’t waste calories on sugar that doesn’t have chocolate attached to it, and I kind of take after my mom.

But we were having some friends over for a birthday, and I was told she likes lemon cake. Believe it or not, avid baker that I am, I have never made it. Like I said, chocolate lover. But I like a challenge and I like to make people happy, so I set out to find a recipe.

There were several options ranging from boxed cake mix with some add-ins to super fancy and time-consuming. When I bake, I almost always bake from scratch, but I do have my limits. So I found one that looked like a happy medium.

The recipe, from {Baking is a Science}, does include three separate components: the lemon cake and the cream cheese frosting, which are both pretty easy, and the lemon curd, which has to be stirred for 15 minutes straight.

But – speaking as a chocolate fanatic, remember – it was totally worth it. Everyone loved it, and my friend and I agreed that the lemon curd is the best part. It is very tart, which balances perfectly with the mellow flavors of the cake and frosting.

I put the curd on top instead of in the middle, with piped frosting around it (and with frosting in the middle). If you would like to frost the sides as well, I’d double the frosting recipe.

My only complaint is that the cake was a little spongy. Which some people like and that’s fine. I just prefer a denser cake, I guess for it’s richness and appearance and easier frostability (is that a word?).

Next time I might try this extravagant looking “Ultimate Lemon Cake” from {Rock Recipes } or this one with blueberries added from {Sally’s Baking Addiction}. I like to experiment. But if you’re looking for a classic lemon cake of moderate difficulty, I’d totally recommend the one I made here!

Ginger Molasses Cookie Recipe


While I was watching all 8 seasons of Desperate Housewives on Netflix, I often found myself relating to some of the main characters. Usually Susan, the clumsy artist who wants to be liked by everyone. And sometimes Bree, the OCD 50’s-esque homemaker.

One of my favorite quotes from the show comes from a scene where Bree is defending her new cookbook against a critical reporter. The reporter claims that it’s really a “look how great I am” book designed to make other women feel bad. Bree explains that she doesn’t think she is great, that she struggles and fails like everyone else, but “there’s always a chance to get something right, even if it’s just a casserole.”

For me, if it’s not something crafty, it’s usually food, especially cookies. I have practiced the classic chocolate chip to perfection, if you can ever say that, but not everyone is a chocolate fiend like me, so I try to do something different once in a while.

I practically forget about real cookbooks with all the recipes on the internet, especially Pinterest. But my “Cookies” edition of Taste of Home magazine (from a friend who knows how much I love to bake) seemed like a good place to look for a quick, simple classic.

The Giant Molasses Cookies recipe I found did not disappoint. They’re crispy, chewy, sweet, and spiced, and, as mentioned, great for the holidays or overseas troops (or sending to the troops for the holidays. If you’d like to do this but don’t live surrounded by soldiers, you might check out Soldiers’ Angels).

Get the recipe {here} and let me know how they turn out!

Making beautiful, delicious things can really be therapeutic. I can’t fix all the world’s problems, or even all of my own, but I can use the skills I have, and hopefully brighten someone’s day in doing it.

Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies Ever!


Just wanted to write a quick post to share this awesome 3-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe.

My friend Katie taught it to me a few years ago, and it can be found in various places on the internet. Not trying to steal anyone’s original, I’m just not sure where it came from!

It’s super easy, super quick, and also happens to not have any flour if you are on a paleo-ish diet. Though it does have regular sugar.

You can add baking soda, vanilla, chocolate chips, whatever, but all you need is the three main ingredients. A friend said mine tasted like sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate chip cookies all mixed together!

So here’s the recipe!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together, then roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork if desired. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy, and please share if you like it!

Delicious Paleo/Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I love muffins. They’re sweet, buttery, fluffy, delicious – and so not paleo. Unless they are.

I’m sure there are lots of great paleo muffin recipes out there, but I liked the simplicity of this regular one, so I did my own modifications, and I was impressed with the results.

You can find the recipe {here} at Designed Decor, and I will explain the substitutions below.

But first, disclaimer, since I’m kinda making stuff up here. I am not any kind of expert on gluten allergies, hardcore paleo dieting, or nutrition in general. I’m just pretty good at making tasty healthy-ish food, and I like to experiment and share what works for me & my husband (he, on the other hand, has spent considerable time studying nutrition & fitness).

If you just want gluten-free, all you have to do is substitute a gluten-free flour blend for the regular flour (assuming there’s no secret hidden gluten in any other ingredients?) and you can barely tell the difference. Mine even had those beautiful muffin tops that bakery muffins have, which I’ve always had trouble with, even in regular baking (hint: fill the muffin cups all the way full).


For paleo, you can use any combination of grain-free flours: almond meal, flax seed meal, coconut flour,* tapioca starch, etc. You can also substitute almond/coconut milk for the sour cream (or just leave it out), olive oil for the butter, and palm crystals, honey, etc for sugar (though we still think regular sugar, in moderation, is the best bet).


In my paleo baking experience in general, bananas and other fruits (or veggies: pumpkin, zucchini, etc) work really well with the alternative flours. It makes for some great flavor combinations too! Feel free to add nuts, raisins, or coconut flakes.

The muffins I made yesterday were pretty much a hodge podge of what we had left until I go to the store, but they still turned out amazing (although not fluffy, because I was too hungry to remember to use baking soda). If anyone’s interested I can write out a more specific recipe once I “perfect” it.

So there you have it! Let me know how they turn out, and if you like this post, please social share!

*read the bag cause apparently you can only substitute this for 20% of the flour. But it does seem to help balance the texture, and, in my opinion, tastes wonderful.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcake Recipe

Just wanted to write a quick post to share a delicious dessert recipe! I found these on Pinterest (of course) and my friends loved them!


The idea is that, by adding cream cheese filling, you don’t have to frost them. You just spoon it on before sticking them in the oven and it kinda sinks into the middle. Hence the “surprise.” So they are pretty quick and easy!

I also discovered that you can substitute white corn flour for all-purpose flour if you are silly like me and go to the store without checking your recipes, and you happen to have leftovers from a cultural baking experience. Seriously, a girl who loves to bake running out of flour? How does this happen? But yeah, they tasted fine, just a slightly different texture. Take that, mean people on the internet who think you can only do things one way 😉

Edit: once they cooled off, the weird texture was more noticeable. Sorry if my advice went badly for anyone 😦

Anyway, get the recipe {here} at The Capitol Baker, and enjoy!

“I Can’t Believe These Are Paleo” Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve probably mentioned that my husband likes to tell people he married me for my chocolate chip cookies, which I sent him every month during his first deployment. So I’m not sure why I never tried to make a Paleo version until a friend of mine tried it first. Probably because I thought they wouldn’t turn out right. But, in the words of Thorin Oakenshield (because I’m a nerd like that), “I have never been so wrong.”


These are so delicious that another friend, who doesn’t even follow the Paleo diet, asked for the recipe. They do taste a little different of course, but the texture is almost perfect. Definitely worth it for the healthy-ish factor. Especially since you might want to eat a lot of them.

I found the recipe {here} at It’s pretty easy for Paleo. The main ingredient is almond flour, with a little bit of coconut flour, which I think soaks up some of the oil from the almonds. It also called for coconut palm sugar; I cheated and used the white sugar I had. Whatever, almost Paleo.

Here’s how mine turned out. Don’t they look like “real” cookies?


The blog I found it on {here} has a list of other Paleo cookie recipes if you’d like to try them.

Also, I have a favor to ask. This blog is pretty new (thanks new followers!) and I would really love some feedback. For example, writing style: not sure if I’m funny or just annoying. Feel free to comment or email, and I might just throw in a coupon for my Etsy shop 😉

Hope you enjoy the recipe (and the random Hobbit reference)!

Making Religieuse: a Delicious Cultural Experience

My husband Joe is currently taking French classes as part of his Army training. He’s not used to sitting all day and doing work that is mentally, rather than physically, demanding. But there’s not much in life he doesn’t give his very best at, so I think he’ll do fine.

If you know Joe well, you also know that behind his tough exterior (6’4″ and covered with muscles and tattoos) and blunt honesty is a super sweet guy who will go out of his way to make someone’s day special.

Joe’s teacher is from France. Teaching language school in the military can be a tough job at times. So when she mentioned how much she enjoys religieuse pastries, he thought it would be nice to make some for her and the rest of his class. And since I’m pretty good at baking, he asked if we could do it together.

The religieuse, meaning nun, is a round pastry with another small pastry on top, filled with crème patisserie, and covered with chocolate ganache or one of many exotic flavors of glaze. It’s basically a super fancy cream-filled donut. It looks a little bit like a figure in a nun’s habit, hence the name.

We started this project one evening after Joe got home from work, not realizing how busy he’d be that day or how much work would go into it, partly due to all the measurement conversions. If you ever use a European recipe, I suggest figuring that out ahead of time!

So he made the choux pastry while I made dinner (paleo zucchini sausage roll-ups with pesto that I will have to blog about later) and I had to finish the rest while he ran his tri-weekly Crossfit training group and caught up on French homework.

I was already doubting whether my skills would measure up to those of the bakers in France. But it’s the thought that counts, right? So I put on some French café music and kept going, complaining to Joe about how many pots and bowls I would have to wash. (Seriously, I don’t think anyone considered that when they wrote the recipe).

Our pastries were a little flat, but I managed to squeeze the vanilla crème inside them, and when the ganache reached the right consistency, I spread/poured it over the top. I finally tried one after Joe went to bed, and as I savored the near perfection of what we’d created – a soft, crispy pastry with thick, just-sweet-enough vanilla crème patisserie and an amazingly rich chocolate ganache, I was suddenly reluctant to give them away!


When Joe came home from work the next day, he told me how much his teacher like the pastries. She said I could open up a bakery – in France! We also had some leftover crème and ganache, so I made some quick popovers to use it up (and shamelessly reward myself for all my hard work).

In our modern world of convenience foods, it felt really good to make something that took some time and effort – that felt like not only real food, but art. I kept thinking, these are so legit they don’t even have vanilla extract, they have the seeds of a single vanilla pod scraped out by hand (it tastes amazing and you can see the tiny black specks in the pastry crème). Also, the French are not afraid of butter, which gives the ganache it’s singular richness.

Of course, I wouldn’t cook like this every day, but I was very proud of myself, and I felt I’d had an interesting cultural experience. And, no doubt, helped put a smile on someone’s face.

So if you’re ever in the mood for spending a couple hours on a dessert, here’s the recipe: Choux Pastry Religieuse. I would suggest cutting the ganache ingredients in half.

Let me know if you try it, or if you’ve had a similar cooking experience!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

The title might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but my mom and I have been making these cookies for years, and they always seem to get the most compliments. I got a lot of practice perfecting the recipe during my husband’s two deployments. Can’t give him hugs and kisses? Then I will give him every wonderful thing that I can cram into a box, especially goodies baked with love. He never gets tired of my chocolate chip cookies, in fact he still tells people they’re the reason he married me!


My mom taught me a lot of things, including most of what I know about cooking. The original recipe is from the back of the Tollhouse bag, but I attribute its greatness to one little modification she shared with me years ago. If you like thick, chunky cookies that are crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, and that don’t spread across the pan and make a mess, all you have to do is cut the amount of butter in half. There are some who would disagree, but I’m convinced this is the secret to success! You can always spice them up by adding oats, nuts, dried fruit, or other flavors of chips, or just follow the recipe as is, with half the butter. So without further ado, here is the recipe (see the original here). 


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine (1/2 cup), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yields 5 dozen cookies (or, if you make them big like I do, about 2 1/2 dozen).

As I mentioned, I have a lot of experience with care packages, having also volunteered with Soldiers’ Angels. If you have any questions about mailing baked goods, or what else to mail, let me know and I would be happy to write a post on it! Enjoy the cookies!