Archive | December 2013

All smiles…and Cake Pops

Today I am all smiles because today’s the day Brandon arrives home from Australia. Hip hip hooray!!!  Can.not.wait. to hug him : )
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Confession: Ever since Brandon moved to Australia, I have a tradition of reading all the cards and notes he’s ever given to me each time we are about to be reunited. I’ve done this every time we’ve been apart and I even brought them all with me to Australia and did this when he went away on business trips. I like having them close to me because it just makes me feel like he’s with me.  Handwritten cards and notes=happiness in a box. They are the best gifts of all.

Truthfully though, I have a hard time stopping smiling around Christmas. Anyone else like this around this time of year? The joy in the air is absolutely contagious in my opinion! Last week I was all smiles in Connecticut with my sister and her puppies in Connecticut. Mostly we just shopped, did wedding-related, crafts, and baked, but I am pretty sure it was my favorite week of the year!
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I do believe that baked goods play a huge part in the joy of any time of year, but it’s especially apparent at Christmas. Baking and enjoying holiday goodies with my family is one of my favorite things about Christmas, so yesterday I decided I would devote a few hours to baking. Cleaning-up aside, baking is truly my favorite hobby. Cake pops were first up on my baking agenda since I’ve been excited to make them ever since I found a cake pop pan at T.J. Maxx. I’m pretty sure this pan is available at major stores, too, since cake pops are all-the-rage right now, but this was my first attempt using it and I absolutely loved it. Perfectly round cake pops, yes please!
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I am all about making desserts healthier, but for Christmas, I think the old-fashioned way is the best way, so real butter and real sugar make these cake pops a real winner! I opted to make chocolate cake with white chocolate and milk chocolate glazes, and lots of sprinkles of course. This homemade chocolate cake is super simple to make, too. Plus, with the help of the pan, it’s a fool-proof way to nearly perfect cake pops. I adapted this recipe directly from the pan wrapper itself, and it’s a definite winner. My Dad and I went crazy over the dough and the finished product.  If you make these, I think you will too!
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Christmas Cake Pops
Ingredients
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa (I used Godiva brand)
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
24 holiday lollipop sticks ( or regular, but I couldn’t resist the holiday sticks I found at Michaels!)
white chocolate, milk chocolate, or any type of chocolate for melting
Assorted sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, grease cake pop pan and set aside.
2) Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a medium pan on the stovetop and melt over low-heat, stirring until smooth. Then remove from the heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
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3) Add the sugar and cocoa  to the bowl and mix until well blended, then add the eggs in one at a time and mix until blended.
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4) Lastly, add the flour and salt to this and stir until well blended.
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5) Now add spoonful’s of the batter to the bottom of the cake pop tin (the side without the holes). Make sure you mound the dough over each hole, this way it forms a perfect circle!
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6) Place the top of the pan over the bottom half and secure the clips. Bake for 15-18 minutes. (Mine took about 17 minutes). Check them with a toothpick at 15 minutes to be safe! Once your toothpick is nearly clean, remove them from the oven.
7) Let them cool in the pan for 5-8 minutes, then remove from the pan and place them on a cooling rack.
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8) Now re-grease the cake pop pan and repeat steps 5-7 to use up the remaining dough.
9) While the cake pops are cooling, set out your bowls of decorative sprinkles. I used 4 different kinds because I have a sprinkles problem : –) Then use a double boiler to melt your chocolate (I melt about 1 cup of chips at a time). I started out with white chocolate first.
Side note: This is the biggest bag of chocolate chips I’ve ever used!
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10) Once melted, dip an end of your lollipop stick in the chocolate first, then stick it into the cake pop and roll in chocolate, shaking off any excess chocolate. Then decorate with sprinkles and place on parchment paper. Repeat this process until the cake pops are covered!
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These are perfect for any holiday party! I love them because they’re perfect if you’re looking for a  portion-controlled dessert and they are just so darn cute.
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Merry Christmas!

What’s making you smile today?

Do you have any traditions with your boyfriend/husband/significant other?

What’s your favorite type of cake pop?
Mine is vanilla with pink frosting (you know, the one at Starbucks!) but chocolate is a close second!

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Truth is…

Truth is… 
Time management has been a challenge for me lately. I love blogging, but I’ve had a hard time balancing school , work, and life over the last few months. One New Years resolution of mine will be to blog a couple of times a week, mostly because it truly makes me happy to write, reminisce, and share thoughts and recipes.
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Truth is…
Thanksgiving this year was one of the best that I can remember. Great food, great family and lots of laughs, I just loved it.
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Truth is…
I am mentally (and physically) exhausted from studying for finals. I have had 3 finals over the course of the last two days, and in the last two weeks, I do believe I’ve studied more  for chemistry than I have for any other subject EVER. Lets hope it pays off.

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Truth is…
I recently found out my anatomy & physiology credits from Australia aren’t being accepted for course credit at the college I’m attending, and therefore I must repeat A & P in America. Truthfully I cried for about six hours thinking about the effort and money I spent to take that class…but truthfully I know everything happens for a reason and it will all work out in the end.

Truth is…
I love my grandparents more than anything and selfishly I want them around forever. Watching them struggle with old age has been nothing short of challenging, so I’m always so happy when we’re together and we can dote on them.
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Truth is…
Friendship is a blessing. I spent last Saturday in Boston with some of my dearest friends and I truly loved each and every second.
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Truth is…
I really miss outdoor running. While in Australia, most of my workouts were outdoors and I sort -of became accustomed to it. I certainly enjoyed fall running to its fullest in New England, but Maine winters +snow+black ice+frigid temps=no more running for me. However last week and this week, I managed to sneak in one run each week on the “warmer” days, and walk/runs with my Mom. It was blissful!
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Truth is…
I’ve been making a protein shake each morning for breakfast to go along with my fruit and yogurt, and I am absolutely amazed at how long it keeps me satisfied. Arbonne protein powder for the win!
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Truth is…
The holidays are my favorite time of year. When else can you bake and shop every single day and not need an excuse to do it?
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Truth is…
My Mom and I may have a T.J. Maxx problem…just sayin’.
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Truth is…
I made these iced oatmeal cookies last week and they were EPIC. Mother Thyme is a genius. I’ll most definitely be making these  over and over again.
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Truth is…
Brandon arrives home for Christmas in 12 days. To say I’m a little excited would be an absolute UNDERSTATEMENT!
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Got any truths to share?
What’s your favorite thing about Christmas time?
Anyone else have a TJ Maxx “problem”? : –)