11/26/2013 4:49 pm
So I had posted previously about one of the desserts that I will be making for thanksgiving this year, now I’m going to share another.
This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman- I just LOVE her. I’ve done so many of her recipes, I love her style, her show, her blog, her “homestead” ha! I just love everything about her. Her recipe for pecan pie is so so so easy! She calls it “The pie that’ll make you cry”- it’s just that good!
You first start off by making a pie crust. The Pioneer Woman recommends this one, which is the one I make. Or, you can purchase a pre-made pie crust. FYI- Trader Joe’s sells a great one (in their frozen section). But honestly, the crust takes no time at all to make.
Here’s what you need for this awesome pie-
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup
- 1/2 cup Dark Corn Syrup
- 3/4 teaspoons Vanilla
- 1/3 cup Melted Butter (salted)
- 3 whole Eggs, Beaten
- 1 & 1/2 heaping cups Pecans
(Note: I’ve changed a few things on her recipe, rather then using one cup of light corn syrup, I use 1/2 cup light and 1/2 cup dark- I think the dark adds a great flavor. I also do not chop my pecans like the original recipe states. I like the look of the whole pecans when the pie is finished.)
Here’s what you do-
Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrups, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
Pour pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
Pour syrup mixture over the top.
Bake pie at 350º for approx 50 minutes.
Be aware that your pie should not be over jiggly when you remove it from the oven. If it shakes a lot, cover it up with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until set.
I’ll also be baking an apple crumb pie for Thanksgiving this year. We only have about 10 guests coming. Too many desserts? Never!
Our small group is meeting the Friday evening after Thanksgiving, if there are any leftovers, I might just be bringing them with me!
So what desserts will you be making this year? If your unsure, you might want to add this one to your list. You’ll definitely wow your guests!
Happy Thanksgiving friends!
11/21/2013 3:14 pm
I was lucky enough to be invited to a very special evening of wine pairing and chocolates. Not just any chocolate- See’s chocolate. My favorite.
I got to try a few different red and white wines provided by Domaine Somm, along with specific See’s chocolates that paired well with the certain wines. For example a bordeax chocolate- which happens to be one of my favorites, goes wonderfully with a merlot wine. And an apricot buttercream and peanut brittle goes great with a sweet late harvest pino grigio. The salty and sweet combination is outrageous!
I was able to check out the new prototype See’s shop at the Tustin Marketplace- grand opening tomorrow, Friday 11/22/2013. This shop is more then double the size of a traditional See’s Candies shop. It has not 1, but 2 candy counters, multiple checkout registers and is extremely spacious, which makes it perfect for the upcoming holiday season. This store will get you in and out in no time! Who wants to wait in those long lines, right? You know what I’m talking about.
I got to take a “behind the counter” tour. Ahhmazing!
It was such a fun night. I’ve always wondered what it looked like on “the other side”- now I know! All those candy boxes are labeled, so it’s easy for the See’s employees to locate each piece of candy. Whether you are customizing your own 1 pound box of chocolates or just wanting to try a piece. See’s candies are so great! Check out their new “pie” collection-
I got to sample the apple pie truffle- oh my! Seriously, who needs to bake anymore? (ok, I’m just kidding…kinda) But seriously, it tastes like the most amazing little apple pie perfection.
There it is! I highly recommend you stopping by the new See’s at Tustin and requesting a sample of this delish little treat!
Here’s a few interesting tidbits I learned about See’s Candies-
All their candy is made in America
Their chocolate is aged to perfection
Their classic black and white checkered floor was the flooring that Mary See had in her actual kitchen
Their famous bon bon candies are still the original Mary See’s recipe
So stop by and check out this new See’s Candies shop. You’ll love it!
See’s at Tustin-
2985 El Camino Real, Tustin, C.
11/15/2013 7:00 am
I’m constantly driving by this unique little bakery located off El Toro Rd. in Lake Forest. I’ve always been very intrigued by the name of it “Bye Bye Sugar”. Is it really a bakery full of sugar free desserts? What kind of desserts would they even offer? How good can a sugar-free dessert be, right?
Well, I had the pleasure of meeting with the owner and checking this little bakery out (open 7 years at this location), and I was very surprised at how yummy the desserts not only look, but they taste fantastic!
If you can think of a dessert, they probably have it! All these sugar-free treats are baked fresh on the premises.
Browsing this intimate little shop I noticed many customers coming in and out, and they sure knew exactly what they wanted. Many regulars frequent this bakery. It’s absolutely perfect for anyone whether a diabetic, watching your sugar intake, or just want to try something new and delicious.
Xylitol is used in place of sugar in all their desserts. Let me tell you, you’d never know these sweets are sugar free- It blows my mind!
This bakery not only offers baked goods, but a selection of coffees, ice cream, smoothies, jams and salad dressings.
And I was very excited to see these there-
SUGAR FREE CHOCOLATES and they taste really good!
Don’t be surprised if you see their items in your local Mother’s Markets stores, and Whole Foods (soon).
Some of their top selling desserts include their chocolate eclairs, fruit tarts, brownies, custard and strawberry filled napoleons, lemon bars and turnovers.
And I was lucky enough to be sent home with this little yummy, and then my husband stole it!
Sugar-free Tiramisu. It did not disappoint!
So why not give it a try? Stop by and check it out. Tell them Dessert Before Dinner sent you!
Bye Bye Sugar Bakery
23635 El Toro Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630
11/11/2013 6:46 pm
Over the weekend my little fam and I took family photos at Heritage Park in Irvine. It’s been YEARS since we’ve taken photos together. It was definitely time! I searched our closets, found some cute outfits and I asked my mom-in-law to take the photos (she just so happens to have her degree in photography, and is amazing!).
Here are some of the photos that I love from our shoot:
If you are on my Christmas card list, don’t be surprised if this one shows up! It’s my favorite. How beautiful is that backdrop? And it was perfect weather and lighting for the photos.
I LOVE this one of my boy Charlie and I. His face is just priceless! (He’s at that age where he does not care for kisses from anyone!)
Here’s our Mommy/Daughter photo. I love my girlie.
And of course the love and I.
Why not ask a friend or family member to take your family photos? It’s a lot less expensive then hiring someone, and just so much fun!
Now on a different note, have you thought about desserts you might be serving for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday?
I’ve already started making my list. I probably should be thinking dinner/side dishes, but I’m just too excited about dessert! It’s been a few years since we’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and I just want everything to turn out perfect. So here’s what I’m thinking- the traditional apple pie, a pecan pie (my fav) and a pumpkin gingerbread trifle.
I’ve always wanted to make a pumpkin gingerbread trifle, and this year I’m doing it!
Here’s what you need:
2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup gingersnaps
Here’s what you do:
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in any type of clear glass bowl, but I think it looks best in a trifle dish!
You can even divide up the recipe and serve in mason jars-
How cute is that?!?!
Or even try mini trifle dishes-
I’d love to know if you give this beautiful dessert a try!
Enjoy and Happy (almost) Thanksgiving friends!
11/01/2013 9:18 pm
So Halloween is over…
I happened to be at Target today and noticed that we went straight from Halloween to Christmas. NO Thanksgiving. NO Thanksgiving greeting cards, NO Thanksgiving decorations, NO nothing for Thanksgiving! What’s up!!??!!
As much as I love Christmas, the Thanksgiving holiday happens to be one of my favorite holidays as well, and I want to slow down and enjoy and appreciate one holiday at a time. Life is moving so fast as it is. Let’s just take a moment to live in the present.
Here are some fun sweet treats to make for the month of November-
Broiled Apples: (recipe from Real Simple)
- 6 apples, cut into slices
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup rum or 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 pints vanilla ice cream
- Turn on broiler. Toss the apples with the lemon juice, butter, and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Broil the apples about 8 inches from the heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and broil until melted.
- Heat the rum or maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Serve the apples warm with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with the warm rum or syrup.
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies:
I made these delicious little treats last year, and have to say they are a favorite of mine. Here’s the recipe-
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350F and butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking pan.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla for a few minutes, until fluffy; beat in the flour just until combined.
Divide the batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl) and stir the chocolate mixture into one bowl. Stir the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg into the other bowl.
Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan, smooth the top.
Spread the pumpkin batter on top.
Drop large spoonfuls of chocolate batter on top, then gently swirl the batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until just set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Pumpkin Pie Pudding:
this one is super easy!
1 3/4 cups cold skim milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 small package of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Stir milk and instant pudding together until smooth, stir in pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Chill and then serve. Top with whipped cream.
I hope you take the time to enjoy the month ahead. Enjoy the colder weather, enjoy your loved ones. Let’s all just slow down a little!
Happy November friends!
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it”.
10/16/2013 8:01 pm
We have been so busy lately. I have to admit, it’s getting a little overwhelming.
With the kids starting school, getting back into the swing of things, schedules, homework, soccer practices, soccer games, birthday parties… Sometimes it can be too much!
I had a chance a few weeks ago to hang with my best friend from high school. We had a chance to just forget about all the craziness in our lives, relax and enjoy each others company. We made lunch, talked, played with the kids, laughed a lot and of course baked! We made the Pioneer Woman’s “Monster Cookie” recipe, and replaced the classic m & m candy with these fun Fall pumpkin spice flavored M & M’s. I made these last year around this time of year as well. They are definitely a favorite of mine!
Here’s what you need:
- 2 sticks (1/2 Pound) Butter (salted) Softened
- 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 1-1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
- 2 whole Large Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1-1/2 cup Oats (either Quick Or Regular)
- 1/2 cup PUMPKIN SPICE M & M’s (more To Taste)
- 1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped (more To Taste)
- 3/4 cups Chocolate Chips (milk Or Semi-sweet)
- 1/2 cup Peanut Butter Chips
- 2-1/4 cups Rice Krispies
Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter with sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add to mixing bowl and mix till combined. After that, add in remaining ingredients in whatever quantity you prefer. Add more nuts if you’d like, or more M & M’s, more peanut butter chips or chocolate chips.
Add Rice Crispies at the very end, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix!
Use a cookie scoop to scoop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, then allow to cool on a rack.
What a fun filled baking day! Here’s how our cookies turned out:
Why not invite a friend over and bake together?!?
In other news, I had a birthday last weekend. Celebrated the 6th anniversary of my 25th
Here are a few photos from my birthday-
This time of year just makes me feel extra thankful. Thankful for my sweet family and husband. Thankful for friends. Thankful for life, for a savior who has given me all these wonderful blessings in my life.
Hope this season brings you much happiness, love and laughter (and a little baking too!)
I’d love to hear from you if you give these cookies a try!
PS- I’m thankful for this little blog of mine too
10/14/2013 12:57 pm
Black bugs, bright bugs, flying bugs, slimy bugs – we like bugs!
This month Pretend City Children’s Museum introduces its new interactive scavenger-haunt exhibit opening! Eight dazzling and busy bug filled areas will engage children in discovering and learning about various insects and bugs. Each experience includes a collection of take-home trading cards for the learning to continue at home.
The Bug Bog experience is $3 per child with paid Pretend City admission.
Children 3 years old and younger are FREE!
Regular admission can be purchased at the door or online.
$3 Bug Bog admission is purchased at the front desk only.
Bug Bog ends October 31st, so hurry in to Pretend City!
Pretend City Children’s Museum
29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
10/01/2013 7:00 am
OK, I love to bake and make desserts pretty much ALL the time. I’m baking at least once a week, no matter what. The only thing that stops me from baking is the weather being so HOT! I can’t stand the house being heated up from the oven while my A/C is running. And with it being Fall now, and all the yummy pumpkiny recipes out there, it’s driving me crazy that I’m not creating sweet treats as often.
So let me tell you how I get a little of my baking fix in while the weather is so hot- It’s called Scentsy. If I can’t bake, at least my house can smell like I am! Let me tell you a little about this company that I love so much-
“Scentsy candles are a safe, wickless and flameless alternative to traditional candles. Experience beautiful home decor and amazing fragrances without the health risk of lead, the cleaning hassle of soot (that black mess candles leave behind) and avoid the dangers of an open flame—especially important with kids and pets!
Scent-memory is pretty amazing! It’s so easy to transform the way a room feels, simply by warming a new, wonderful fragrance! (There are 80+ scents to choose from! And I might add lot’s of yummy FALL scents!)
The Scentsy Family extends beyond home fragrance—including Layers bath, body and laundry products and Velata, fun fondue!”
OK, so first you choose your warmer. Choose from cute designs like these one’s here:
Here’s my personal favorite-
You can choose from full size/large, mid size/medium and small/plug-in warmers (all warmers plug in). There are SO many different styles and designs, you are sure to find one that you’ll love and work with your home decor.
Next step is you choose your fragrance wax (aka- Scentsy bars). If you can think of a scent you love, Scentsy probably makes it!
Here are a few of my favorites for Fall/Winter:
Cinnamon Vanilla, Cinnamon Bear, Huckleberry Sage, Pumpkin Roll and Baked Apple Pie, Cider Mill
And here are a few of my favorite anytime fragrances:
Black Raspberry Vanilla, Ocean, Sunkissed Citrus, Clean Breeze and Luna.
Next step is you break off a few pieces of your Scentsy wax bar, place the wax in the warmer, turn it on and your done! Pretty soon your house will be filled with the amazing Scentsy fragrance. Yum!
The thing I love about Scentsy is you don’t have to worry about an open flame like you do with regular candles. You turn on your warmer and the light bulb will heat up the wax to about your body temp. This also means that the wax WILL NOT burn you, which is a relief when you have littles at home. What I normally do, is I’ll turn on my warmer in the morning, then turn it off before I go to bed at night. It’s totally safe if you leave the house and forget to turn it off, just think of the Scentsy warmer as an equivalent to a lamp/night light. No worries at all! I love Scentsy!
Website to purchase from:
How about host a party to earn discounts and freebies?
I’ve hosted a few parties now! Read about my experience here-
My friend Lisa Matro is an independent Scentsy Family Consultant, and she has put together an AWESOME Scentsy Gift Basket worth over $100 for one very lucky OC Family reader to win. This basket includes 3 Scentsy fragrance bars, room spray, travel tin, scent circle, hand cream, hand sanitizer, hand soap & lip gloss. (all in a variety of flavors), and your choice of one large Scentsy warmer: either the Candy Corn, Creepy Crawly or Scarecrow. All you have to do to enter this giveaway is tell me why you’d love to win this gift basket, and I’d love to hear what your favorite scent is! I’ll chose a winner via random.org on 10/5/2013. Not to worry if you don’t win- you’ll be able to be on her email list, so she can update you on all the latest Scentsy promos and deals! Good luck friends!
This is the actual gift basket you will have the chance to win, with your choice of one super cute Fall inspired warmer!
CONGRATS TO CALVIN- ENTRY #10. YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE SCENTSY GIFT BASKET GIVEAWAY! THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE ENTERED!
09/24/2013 12:10 pm
I’ve been on a rice crispy treat kick lately. Maybe because the weather’s been a little on the hot side, and this is such a quick, easy no-bake treat to make. I’m obsessed with these- click here.
I’ll be making them as a part of my kiddies soccer snacks this weekend- I think most kids will approve! (and rice crispy treats are a good treat to bring because you can avoid nut allergies)
I thought these ones sounded very interesting. I love anything with pumpkin. Why not give it a shot?
Here’s What You Need-
Nonstick cooking spray
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 (10 oz.) bag mini marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups crispy rice cereal
2 oz. dark chocolate chips (optional)
Here’s What You Do-
Spray a 13×9 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Stir in pumpkin puree and cook until warmed.
Add in marshmallows, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Add the rice crispy cereal and stir until combined.
Pour mixture into pan, spread out evenly and gently press down. Refrigerate to set for at least 1 hour. Cut into squares and drizzle with melted dark chocolate, if desired.
09/20/2013 7:00 am
I’m extremely honored to have been chosen to be the “Critic’s Choice” for the Best Of OC, for the Orange County Register.
You may have gotten the Best of OC magazine along with your Sunday OC Register last weekend. I’m SO excited to share with you my articles and choices for best cookie, ice cream and cupcake in Orange County!
26022 Cape Drive, Suite B, Laguna Niguel
Donna Billman started her company in 1993; being a single mom, she was just looking for extra income. She started by selling her cookie dough to friends, and word quickly spread about how wonderful it was. Now Donna B’s is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
It’s hard to choose only one cookie from Donna B’s; they are all amazing. Flavors include maple bacon, oatmeal toffee, shortbread and Reese’s tiramisu, but the best cookie, in my opinion, would have to be Donna’s Decadent. This cookie isn’t just any chocolate chip cookie – it’s crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, moist, and oh so chocolaty. It includes chocolate and butterscotch chips, walnuts and coconut. It’s chocolate chip cookie perfection with a coconut, butterscotch twist. Decadent it is, indeed!
Best ICE CREAM:
23730 El Toro Road, Lake Forest
Brü Grill & Market offers a changing variety of fresh-made gelato and sorbet flavors. From the classic chocolate and vanilla to fun seasonal flavors like peppermint, Brü is sure to have a flavor you’ll fall in love with.
My choice is Brü’s bourbon gelato. It is just so different. It’s creamy and smooth and has a wonderful, unique flavor of sweet bourbon. I’ve yet to find anything quite like it.
All gelatos can be ordered individually, but Brü primarily is a full-service restaurant. Call ahead or order to-go to skip the fuss. Or give in and try the flourless whiskey Brü Cake, which has gelato on the side.
23624-D El Toro Road (The Orchard), Lake Forest
From the cookies and cream cupcake, which includes an actual Oreo cookie baked right in the center of the cupcake to their famous birthday cake cupcake, a delicious yellow cake with rainbow sprinkles baked inside, frosted with a smooth vanilla bean butter cream, Frostings uses only the highest quality ingredients to make its offerings beautiful and delicious. The best cupcake would have to be the Night and Day, a deep, dark chocolate cake, topped with signature vanilla bean frosting, rimmed with pure white chocolate vermicelli. It’s the perfect blend of dark and white chocolate. Each cupcake sells for $3.50, which is well worth it!. The cupcakes are large!
Give Frostings a try – any cupcake you choose in this adorable little boutique shop is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth you might have.
Hope you are able to get out there and try out these incredible sweets- they will not disappoint- PROMISE!