Salted Pecan Brown Butter Blondies

Salted Pecan Brown Butter Blondies, Cookies, Cookie BarsWhen you're pregnant, the cookie cravings are real.  Cookies and dark chocolate - that's what I've wanted the most the last eight months, and I could have eaten this entire pan of blondies if it weren't for the inevitable weigh-in at my doctor's office every two weeks that keeps me in check.  I mean, if you can't have all the cookies you want while you're pregnant, when can you?

Years ago, there was a dessert I used to love getting after dinner at a local restaurant - a blondie topped with ice cream and some sort of amazingly decadent buttery sauce.

Banana Pecan Cream Cheese Muffins with Maple Glaze

Banana Muffins, Banana Pecan Muffins, Banana Cream Cheese Muffins, Salted Maple Glaze, Breakfast, PancakesEveryone needs a good banana muffin in their recipe box, but it's a recipe I haven't posted on my blog before, due to not being completely happy with either the texture of the banana muffins I've baked or the quality of my photos.  These, though, these banana muffins are keepers, and I'll be baking them again and again over the years.

They don't have a cream cheese filling in the center, as you might think from the name, but rather, cream cheese is whipped into the sugar and bananas before being mixed into the batter, so the whole muffin has a lovely tang and creaminess from the cream cheese.  The cream cheese (which replaces the butter or oil in the batter) creates a really beautiful crumb, light and fluffy, soft and moist for days.  I always add cream cheese to my pound cakes, as well, and, like sour cream, it really does wonderful things for baked goods.

Orange Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Orange Coffee Cake, Orange Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Orange Streusel Coffee Cake, Coffee Cake, Breakfast, Cake for BreakfastIn just seven more weeks, we will grow from a family of three to four!  It's all kind of surreal, how much life can change in such a short amount of time.  In the last four years, we got married, bought and partially renovated a house, had a baby boy, and are about to have another.  It's been so amazing to watch our first baby grow into an inquisitive and funny little boy, and I'm so excited to give him a best friend.  Who would ever have thought that I'd be the mom of two little boys?

On Saturday morning, I made this orange sour cream coffee cake, adapted from the eggnog coffee cake I made for Christmas, and this one might be even better.  The cake is beautifully light, soft and tender, infused with orange juice and tangy sour cream, moist and buttery, topped with crumbly streusel lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and drizzled with a sweet orange glaze...

Valentine's Shortbread Cookies

Valentine's Day, Valentines Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Shortbread Cookies, Royal Icing, Heart Cookies, Love Letter CookiesThere are generally just two occasions for which I will decorate cookies - Christmas and Valentine's Day.  This time, instead of the usual sugar cookie base, though, I baked a batch of buttery chocolate chip shortbread cookies, which are far tastier, in my opinion, than plain sugar cookies.

The cookies are wonderful on their own, with a cup of strong hot coffee, or dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed nuts, toffee, or a bit of coarse sea salt...

A Valentines Berry Pie

Pie, Cherry Pie, Berry Pie, Valentine's Day, Valentine's Baking, Heart Cutout Pie, Rose Pie
It snowed over the weekend, a quiet, lazy-day type of snow that made everything so beautiful.  And when it snows, I love to bake, so I made a little pre-Valentine's Day pie in one of my mini pie pans.  I had originally planned on this being just a cherry pie, but with it being February, I couldn't find any frozen cherries, so I chose a mixed bag of frozen cherries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

A splash of lemon juice in the filling keeps it from being too sweet, and the simple, warm spices of cinnamon and cloves really enhance the flavor of the fruit.  The pie filling reminded me of a red Danish fruit sauce my mom makes at Christmas - sweet, tart, and complex with five or six different berries and red fruits - which my family would always spoon over ice cream or pound cake...

Tiered Cake with Silhouette Dog Toppers

Cake, Wedding Cake, Dog Cake, Dog Cake Topper, Dog Silhouette, Naked CakeBefore leaving my paying job to be home full-time with my son, I was working for a company that makes toys and things for dogs and cats.  We've stayed in touch over the past year, and last week, they asked me to make a cake for a big company party of theirs...

Hey, Girl

Red Velvet Cake, Hey Girl, New Year's Day, Hey Girl Cake TopperExcept for the outside lights on the house and the wreath on the door, Christmas is put away, the needles from the tree and ornament glitter all vacuumed up, and everything is back to routine.  After having my husband home during the week over the holiday, it's been hard to have him go back to work, and Phoenix has missed him, too, but baby boy and I are finding our own routine again, as well as both recovering from a little cold.

Our New Year's Eve was quiet; we spent the evening with some friends, then came home early to put Phoenix to bed, then watch movies in our pajamas, eat popcorn and wait for midnight.  And there was red velvet cake to welcome in the New Year as well...