Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Carrot Cake Cookies with Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract

Hello friends!  I hope you and your families are doing well.  When the shelter-in-place order was issued for my county, I found myself staying at home stress baking.  Lots of cookies, bread and brownies have been consumed as we try to make the best of this unfortunate circumstance. 

 With the help of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, I'm back to share with you “Better Your Bake” tips and tools to help home bakers learn and master the basics of baking.  Nielsen-Massey is working on releasing new tips and videos.  In the meantime, you can bake your way through to the next level with their technique-based videos from last year.  

To participate, I was invited to share a recipe inspired by a “Better Your Bake” tip.

As I was looking through my saved recipes, I came across my favorite carrot cake recipe and decided to turn it into cookies, just in time for Easter!  


Ingredients Cookies
1 cup butter, softened  
3/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
4 medium (2 cups) carrots, grated 
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Ingredients Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 stick salted butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions Carrot Cake Cookies
Heat oven to 350°F.  Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until well mixed.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Stir in carrots, raisins and pecans. Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool completely. *Once cooled, use round cookie cutter to achieve round cookie shape perfect for sandwiching filled cookies.

Directions Cream Cheese Frosting
Combine powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl; beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Watch “How to Fill a Homemade Pastry Bag for Piping” to learn how to make one in the comfort of your own home.

*This post was made possible through a partnership with Nielsen-Massey. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Baking as a Form of Self Care with Nielsen-Massey

 I'm back today to share a no-bake cheesecake recipe, sponsored by Nielsen-Massey.  As a member of their sampling team, I was sent a bottle of Pure Vanilla Extract to create my own recipe inspired by the "Bake for You" theme.

Baking is a delicious form of self care.  I enjoy being creative in the kitchen.  It's relaxing!  I turn my music playlist all the way up to get me going for each step of the recipe.  It's also a great stress reliever and has many therapeutic values.  

It's so satisfying to see the people you love enjoy something you've made.

My son and daughter love cheesecake.  It's irresistibly decadent and creamy.  My son loves it so much that he requested it for his last birthday.

I took my kids' love for cheesecake and my love for fresh fruit and flowers and ran with it!  The pure vanilla flavor takes center stage.  This simple recipe, with a buttery-cookie crust  will make your kids eat every bite of their carrots to be rewarded with this dessert!

Ingredients Cookie Crust

2 cups cookie crumbs
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup salted butter, melted

Ingredients Cheesecake

2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract
three 8-ounce cream cheese blocks
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream 
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
 2 Tbsp powdered sugar 
 2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
mixed berries for topping

Place cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl and stir with a fork until combined.  Press into the bottom and sides of tartlet pans, then set aside.  Whip the cold heavy whipping cream into stiff peaks, then set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth using a mixer.  Add sour cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar, lemon juice and mix until smooth and no lumps appear.  Slowly fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture until combined.  Pour combined mixture into prepared tartlets.  Chill at least 4 hours before serving so the mixture can set.  Top with berries!  Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*This post was made possible through a partnership with Nielsen-Massey.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 10, 2020

New Art for My Bedroom

Collaborating with brands is a great opportunity for bloggers.  I enjoy creating content to showcase here on my blog.  I was recently contacted by Photowall--a company focused on quality, creative design and custom-made products.  Photowall is an established company with its own factory and offices in Sweden. You'll find the perfect wallpaper, stylish posters, canvas and framed prints for your home in their collections.  You can also create your own, by uploading your photo or illustration. 

I was looking to add new art above the window seat in my bedroom.  Previously I had a mirror hanging there, but two mirrors in my bedroom felt like one too much.

 mirror #1

mirror #2

 My style is constantly changing and evolving.  I would say now that my vibe is decorating with less.  I love neutral tones and keeping clutter at a minimum.

I chose a framed botanical print to give my bedroom a touch of nature on a cold, winter day.

Shipping was fast and free all the way from Sweden!  Once delivered, I was so excited to open my package.


Photowall was generous enough to allow me to choose a second print for my friend.  She chose a custom-framed poster by uploading a photo and having it printed.  The new art is a focal point in her dining room.  Everything she needed to hang the poster on the wall was included in the package.  Although attaching the two wooden molding pieces was a tiny-bit difficult, the quality of the art is beautiful.

*This post was sponsored by Photowall. No financial compensation was received, however I did receive art to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Applegate Natural and Organic Meats

*This post was made possible through a partnership with Applegate.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade! 2020 seems to bring more opportunities and experiences! I feel more confident to try new things and motivated to stick to goals. Because 2020 is so powerful, I wanted to bring in the new year with realistic resolutions. Instead of trying (and failing) to reach unrealistic expectations, I want to be kinder to myself and incorporate healthier meals into my diet.

No better time time than now to start with Applegate Natural and Organic Meats!  I've heard of the organic brand before, but never gave them a try until they sent me some of their products.

Applegate is the nation's leading natural and organic meat company that is focused on changing the meat we eat.

Applegate products are GMO and antibiotic-free, without artificial ingredients or chemical nitrites that come from humanely raised animals. Applegate’s portfolio includes a large range of products that are Whole30 approved, gluten free and sugar free.

Founded in 1987, Applegate produces high-quality natural and organic hot dogs, bacon, sausages, deli meats, cheese and frozen products. Their products are made without GMO ingredients, and are sourced from farms where animals are treated with care and respect and are allowed to grow at their natural rate, all part of their mission - Changing The Meat We Eat®.

High-quality can mean many things, but to Applegate this means their food is: 
• From animals raised humanely without antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants 
• From animals fed a vegetarian or pasture-centered diet (our beef is 100% grass-fed) 
• Free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates 
• Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives

Turkey burgers constantly get a bad rap for being drier than beef, but it's all about the quality and preparation for the perfect burger.  What I love about Applegate's turkey burgers is that I don't sacrifice flavor by picking a healthier choice.  When I cooked them in the air fryer, they were juicy, perfectly seasoned and extremely satisfying!  They are a great alternative with less fat than a traditional beef burger.

Because I had too many to hoard for myself, I made a burger bar to share with the family.  Inspired by charcuterie boards you may have seen at holiday parties, I dressed up my board with typical toppings and finishes for the perfect Applegate meal.  Needless to say, it was a hit!

Nothing beats a juicy burger with the perfect fixings.  Applegate made the switch to healthier eats so much easier for the new decade. I'm excited to stock up the fridge and freezer with more of their goods. 

What are you most excited about in 2020?  Do you have any resolutions?

*Applegate turkey burgers are made with the following Turkey Raising Practices: (compared to practices outlined by National Turkey Federation) 
No antibiotics ever 
Applegate Humanely Raised 100% vegetarian diets, no animal by-products 
More space (up to 50% more) and better air quality 
Lighting system designed to reduce stress and promote natural growth Minimal beak conditioning and no toe alterations 
Environmental enrichments 

**Notable facts about Applegate turkey burger ingredients: No chemical nitrates or nitrites 
No artificial ingredients or preservatives 
No fillers 
No GMO ingredients.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Chocolate Doughnuts with Peppermint Glaze

This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey.  I am pleased to be invited back to share a holiday recipe using products from their Holiday Flavors Bundle.

Christmas is a time for baking.  I have a lot of fun making holiday treats for my family to enjoy.  To give a classic doughnut recipe a holiday twist, I incorporated festive extracts; like peppermint and Bourbon vanilla.

Weekend mornings we sometimes drive and pick up doughnuts.  Here's how I made these delicious doughnuts at home.  
Ingredients Doughnuts
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/2 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 large eggs
 6 tablespoons sour cream
 1/4 cup milk
 1/4 cup vegetable oil
non-stick spray
crushed candy canes for garnish

Ingredients Clear Glaze
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon Pure Peppermint Extract

Directions Doughnuts 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray doughnut pan with a non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, oil, eggs, and Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together until smooth. Place doughnut batter in a plastic bag, snip a corner off the tip and pipe batter into doughnut pan. *Be careful not to overfill. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of a doughnut comes out clean.

Directions Glaze
Combine water and sugar and Pure Peppermint Extract in a small saucepan with a whisk.  Bring to a boil.  Boil until the sugar dissolves and the syrup turns clear.  Allow glaze to cool slightly above room temperature, then brush each doughnut with a very thin coat of glaze and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

*This post was made possible through a partnership with Nielsen-Massey.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Very Merry Christmas Campaign

I prefer shopping online during the holiday season.  I'm not a fan of crowds and busy parking lots simply make me anxious.  Besides, most of my family lives beyond an easy car ride.  Shopping for thoughtful gifts online and having them delivered to their door takes the stress out of gift giving.

I partnered with Wayfair to share a holiday wish list for gift giving as part of their Very Merry Christmas campaign.  I'm so happy to work with them because I truly love their products.    

I put together a fun list of presents I know my home-decor-obsessed family and friends will love.

wall accentsHanging Stoneware Wall Decor // More Wall Accentsblankets & throwsMckenny Throw // More Blankets & Throwsall picture framesGeometric Picture Frame // More Picture Frames
vasesStoneware Table Vase // More Vasesall storage containersVegetable and Flower Wicker Basket // More Storage Containersall plantersTerracotta Pot Planter Set // More Planters
mugs & teacupsPrimitive Coffee Mug // More Mugs & Teacupscandle holdersArtisan Wood Candlestick // More Candle Holderscoffee mugs & teacupsAerne Coffee Mug // More Coffee Mugs
scented oils & diffusersMarble Essential Oil Diffuser // More Scented Oils & Diffusersmixing bowlsHobnail Stoneware Mixing Bowl Set // More Mixing Bowlskitchen canisters & jarsKitchen Canister Set // More Kitchen Canisters & Jars

1. I love the look of this ceramic wind chime.  The pieces look handmade and totally unique.  This would make the perfect finishing touch for your home or garden.

2. A cozy throw blanket to snuggle up with this winter.  The stripes and fringe trim are an eye-catching accent.

3. This picture frame would look great on a desk or mantel.  You could personalize it by including a sweet family photo.

4. A modern vase to hold flowers or stand alone on a shelf.

5. Surprise the garden lover in your life with a wicker basket to carry in fruit and vegetables harvested fresh from their garden.

6. This is a cute little planter set.  I love the fluted shape of the pots.

7. Coffee mugs are a practical gift.  This is perfect for someone who is serious about their morning coffee!

8. Candlesticks always make a nice gift.  Adding just a touch of black into your home decor is edgy, yet sophisticated.

9. These stoneware mugs received great reviews on Wayfair's site.  They come in a few colors, but the beige/tan option will coordinate nicely in a neutral palette.

10. Oil diffusers will keep your home smelling great.  They've become pretty popular lately and I can see why!  Not sure what to get that person who has everything?  They make the best gifts.

11. What to buy for someone who likes to bake?  Mixing bowls are a perfect gift for blending ingredients.  Pretty and functional!

12. Some things are too good to give away.  Who am I kidding?  I'd be tempted to keep this canister set for myself.

Happy gift-giving season!  Keep Wayfair in mind when it comes time to shop for home-decor-obsessed family and friends.

*This post was written in partnership with Wayfair.  All opinions expressed are my own.