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top 20 crowd pleasers to date

This was supposed to be a top 10 list but I just cannot do it.  Can’t pick 10 and can’t be “favorites” since I have waaay too many! So I narrowed it down to 50 crowd pleasers which was already terrifically hard to do.  Went back again and got it down to 30.  Then Rob…
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gingerbread and white chocolate chunk blondies

Soft moist gingerbread with sweet chunks of white chocolate throughout make these a little different and extra special.  Please don’t discount these based on the white chocolate because I love them!  I really love them.  Sylvie is right on board with me. Rob’s brother Eric  said “delicious!”  and Kathy and Thomas agreed.  They speak to us….
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eggnog snickerdoodles

Crisp and tasty, these cookies look and taste like winter holiday fun!  They are a great addition to any cookie platter – looking so festive, and a nice contrast to heavier and chippier cookies (which I happen to adore).  These are great for all those vanilla fans and those who enjoy a butter cookie with…
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banana streusel cake

I had to post this again.  Sorry for the repetition but made this last weekend and everyone raved.  It is my kids favorite.  I urge you to try it.  Now back to the original post:  This banana cake is scrumptious.  In the midst dealing with a flat tire, trying to fix the TV volume that was (and still…
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banana poppyseed cake with lemon poppyseed icing

So, as usual, I had some over-ripe bananas sitting on my counter and wanted to make something else besides my quick and easy banana bread or my favorite banana streusal cake.  But again, as usual, I was pressed for time and my hand is still not back to normal — so I wasn’t up for…
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cranberry shortbread cake

So I really wasn’t sure how this would come out, but good news….yummy!  A somewhat sweet, but more tart and refreshing cranberry filling nestled between two layers of soft and moist vanilla shortbread cake – so verrry tasty.  I happen to love cranberries and here mixed with orange zest and fresh orange juice just made…
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banana muffins (healthier version)

These were really really good.  So much better than I expected to be honest.  No butter, eggs or refined sugar!  Andy gobbled these up.  I mean really, he gobbled them.  Almost all of them!  He liked them best fresh out of the oven, all wet and warm.  Sylvie liked after toasting and enjoyed immensely when…
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pumpkin whoopie pies

Moist little pumpkin cakes sandwiched with a cream filling…truly yummy and so perfect for Thanksgiving or really anytime this fall.  My friend Ali wanted to try and taste these before her guests did, and thought a dry run was a good idea.  She does this with her whole Thanksgiving meal (save for the turkey!)  I…
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apple upside-down cake (walnuts optional)

Soooo very pretty.  Glistening and scrumptious looking.  This apple cake is really delicious.  Full of lovely cinnamon scents and seasonal apple flavor it is a beauty for your holiday table.  I brought this cake to Amy’s family and they at it up. My family too.  Everyone loved the top (originally the bottom) that is full…
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pumpkin choc chip cookies

So these are really good!  And so very different from any other pumpkin cookie recipe (or any cookie recipe) that I’ve ever made. Try them for Thanksgiving and I’m sure your guests or hosts will be smiling.  The nice thing about these is that they really are chewy and cookie-like and not so cake-y like…
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nutella fudge mini-cupcakes

Splendid little nuggets of goodness.  I mean ri-dic-u-lous!  If you are a Nutella fan then these are for you!!  Sylvie and I ate these right up.  I’m hoping Nutella fan Cousin Daniel did too (sent him a package).  If you are Nutella lover, try this recipe!  Nutella, eggs, flour and salt make Nutella flavored magic….
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peanut butter/milk chocolate chip moist & chewy cookies

These are CRAZY good and so different from any other peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had.  Many agreed – Beth said “beyond yummy pb cookies.”  and friend Rob said the cookies had the perfect amount of peanut butter flavor and chocolate.  Karen and Scott loved them and mentioned that I must have been channeling their…
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heartland turtle bars (amazing)

The best reviews so far!  True love.  Crazy love. Rob said really good.  Then about 5 minutes later turned to me and said “I really like those bars.”  (And this means that he was thinking about them for 5 whole minutes.)  Sylvie said OMG I love these!  Alisa followed my lead and mixed them with…
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THANK YOU!

For reading, commenting, BAKING, and encouraging me with this blog.  I really enjoyed this past year rambling on about lemon bars, chocolate cookies, ice cream (!!)  and more – and sharing it all with you. Almost 13,000 visits since October 19, 2009 (one year ago) and I hope you continue to enjoy it and share…
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crack pie

How can you not make a pie called Crack Pie.  Having never tried crack itself it seemed like an exciting pie to eat.  I pulled and saved this recipe from the September issue of Bon Appetit – featuring The Milk Bar’s desserts.  I knew our friend Jason would be a terrific taster since he does not…
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double fudge frosted brownies

Wow.  Really really good.  Really delicious! Everyone LOVED these.  I know, I know, I really do know, another brownie!  I couldn’t help it.  I can’t.  I needed a special treat for a family in need – and decided that the double fudge frosted brownies from my new book, Diner Desserts, looked like a match.  My…
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oatmeal cinnamon pancakes

“Mom, these are really good!!  I love them.  Thank you!” were Andy’s words as he sampled a new and very tasty pancake.  Yes, another pancake.  I’ve  become oddly addicted to “healthier” pancake recipes and determined to find different and new twists each time.  Alisa and Sylvie shared my photo stack and both like these more…
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smores cookie bars

I stumbled upon these on noshwithme.com and I’m so happy that I did!  Hilary’s write up was cute and I was eager to try.  These were a hit with most – especially kids.  Adults had varied comments…please, more chocolate, or how about semi-sweet or dark chocolate and others said please less fluff, but the general…
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cinnamon snack cake (w/some whole wheat flour)

“Mmmmm…mmmm …can you pack this for my snack?” was the first thing Andy said to me after sampling this cinnamon whole wheat cake.  Sylvie said this is “extra good!” and Greg said “so good mom, really really good.”  And Conor, Greg’s friend said “Amazing – and I love that it is for snacking – not…
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(grandma’s) mandelbread cookies

My grandma was a great cook and baker – and lived till she was 97!  Before she passed away, she handed me a glad bag filled with index cards – all written in her not so neat scrawl, but with many notes in the margins and “Excellent” written next to this one. These have been…
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buttermilk chocolate cookies (that melt in your mouth!)

I know I have many a chocolate cookie and brownie on this blog – but I think you can never have enough chocolate choices!  I read about these in Nicole Weston’s BakingBites blog and her write-up was so compelling that I had to bake them.  Another success.  “Incredible” Greg’s friend Matt said as he and…
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blueberry raspberry muffins

Please read my earlier post (daryel’s which choc, mac-nut, coconut, cranberry cookies…3 below) and about the Greenwood Mountain Inn for details on how I met owner’s Daryel and Rob who were kind enough to share this recipe.  My Rob loved these.  Ate one the day we arrived and traveled with one the day we left…
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red berry soup (with peaches, nectarines and currants)

I love fruit soups.  I really do.  After a delicious summer meal – it is nice to (sometimes) forfeit that heavy dessert and go for something light, refreshing and healthy.  Well, this is it.  Friends enjoyed this the other night.  Everyone just so excited by fruit!  As I’ve said before, Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts…
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brownie pudding

This is heaven.  Serious chocolate heaven.  I know I say that a lot – but I REALLY mean it (not that I haven’t before!)  And this photo does not do it justice.  It was taken at the end of the night after one glass of wine too many.  Oh well, unimportant because this will make…
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daryel’s white chocolate, mac nut, coconut, tart cherry or cranberry cookies (yes, he knows it’s a long name!)

Visiting day at my daughters camp means we visit then bring her home the following day.  My initial hotel reservation was lost, so I scrambled madly for a new place to stay which was not easy at all.  I must have called 25 inns, hotels, and motels…and miraculously found a room at The Greenwood Mountain…
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chocolate clouds

Light and airy these meringue-like chocolate cookies are tricky because you can’t just eat one!  So be prepared to loose control.  Rob really loved these.  He loved the full chocolate flavor combined with the delicate texture.  Lauren too was a big fan – she was very happy since the chocolate whoppers were just too rich…
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peach cake (pudding like on the bottom)

Friends know that I usually limit myself to one little mug of dessert usually mixed with vanilla ice cream.  However on this night, I needed a big over-sized mug!  Warm out of the oven, with freshly whipped cream and a little ice cream well, really  – this one spoke to me.  Loudly.  It is a…
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pomegranate grapefruit sorbet

Refreshingly cool.  The first bite is pomegranate, lemon and a little lime; the aftertaste is grapefruit.  YUM.  I love this.  I grew up eating tons of pomegranates and tons of grapefruit – so together in this light dessert, well…happiness!  Greg and Andy liked this a lot too.  Sadly, Rob is not a grapefruit guy –…
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summer fruit crumble (with a ton of different fruits!)

Plums, apricots, pluots, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, nectarines, peaches (and more) – this crisp has everything in it!  I wanted to take full advantage of all the fruits I saw and love at my local farmers market.   And I did!  Grown-up friends loved this…Amy, Judy, Marco and Michael all had verrry nice things to say although didn’t speak…
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lemony lime bars

Tangy an sour – with a crisp buttery base – these citrus bars are delicious!  Deeelicious. True love for me.  Alice Medrich warns readers that these have a serious pucker and bite and wow, they really do.  You can make these with lemon juice or lime juice, or as I did, with both.  In the…
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nectarine, cherry, and berry crisp

Yes, another fruit crisp.  I just love love love them.  So much easier than a pie and really (to me) just as good! Made this for Father’s Day – Rob’s family was in and I thought they would enjoy this.  (Served favorite fudgy brownies too for my chocolate lovers.)  Here the nectarine, raspberries and cherries…
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multigrain waffles

Filled with oats, whole wheat flour, flax seeds, eggs, Greek yogurt, buttermilk and more…these multigrain waffles will certainly fill you up.  Decided to try another breakfast treat for Andy and had success with these.  I had to fiddle with the recipe since I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand but they came out great!…
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apricot raspberry tart (with easy press in crust)

The apricots and raspberries together in this sweet make for a truly sensational bite.  This is my favorite of the three fruit desserts that I baked for friends recently. Jen’s too if I’m remembering right.  I meant to take notes, but just couldn’t manage to stuff myself and write about it at the same time….
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golden fudge cake

“Really good” and “really really really good” and “oh my this is really delicious Lisi!” were the varied comments (actually not varied – but overall great accolades) for this cake!  My father visited this past weekend and I wanted to make him a cake he would love for his birthday.  True love – ate it…
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cherry almond cobbler

If you like cherries and marzipan, then this is for you. I brought this cobbler along with few other treats to a dinner party.  This one was either LOVED and ADORED by people, or really not loved at all. Comments ranged from “this is my absolute favorite” and “hands down, this is amazing”…to “oh, this…
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peach blueberry crisp with pecan topping

This was so beautiful, but really, more importantly, scrumptious!  I brought this crisp with two other fruit desserts to a dinner party and this one was probably the most universally loved.  Fine Cooking Magazine featured this recipe months ago – it was the colors in the photo that propelled me to pull it, save it and eventually…
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marble cupcakes

I wanted to make a treat that would make both vanilla and chocolate lovers happy so I made these delightful marble cupcakes.  Andy, Greg, Sylvie – they all loved these and really enjoyed picking the one that suited them best.  Sylvie and her friend Melissa both picked plain (no icing which was shocking to me)….
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blackberry sour cream pie

What a truly pretty pretty pie!  Major hit. And just in time for summer entertaining (or just for you or your family).  Sylvie LOVED it – especially the graham cracker crust.  Lauren ate only the crust (oye).  But Andy – my chocolate loving son – was starving and asked for a bite which was surprising since…
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chocolate whoppers

Deeelicious!  All of us were in the mood for some chocolate.  I mean rich, heavy, serious chocolate. Chocolate that you can really bite into.  Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Whoppers fit the bill.  Andy’s eyes lit up as he surveyed the counter top – he was in heaven as he took his first bite (and too many…
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1-2-3-4 cake (yellow cake)

This easy, tasty and delicious traditional yellow cake is better than any you can buy in a box.  All you need are the basics in your pantry and you’ve got good cake.  This one is filled with layers of lemon curd and has an easy sweet buttercream icing – but you can do any thing…
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(delicious) date nut bread

This date nut bread is delicious.  Reader Heidi requested a date nut bread a while back, and I must say that it took a few tries to find a blogworthy one.  I made a sticky chewy gross one, a cake-y not enough date-y one, then some date nut cookies because I was frustrated…and then finally…
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blueberry cornmeal breakfast treat

My favorite part of Bon Appetit Magazine is the r.s.v. p. readers’ favorite recipes.  I love the letters people write – excited to share their thoughts regarding delicious meals and desserts that they’ve enjoyed all over the country.  This recipe came from a reader who stated that this cornmeal cake was her favorite breakfast treat…
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(gluten-free) chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

It seems like all of a sudden I have friends with kids or relatives who are on gluten free diet.  A reader recently too – asked me for some gluten-free recipes.  So I asked my friend Jill – who knows a lot about a lot – and she shared this very easy chocolate chip peanut…
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berry boy bait (cake)

I forgot about this cake.  Gave the recipe to my sis-in-law years ago – and thank goodness she held onto it.   I have no idea where it originated…or where the name boy bait comes from, but I can say that it is delicious!  The cake is light and fluffy, filled with fruity, sweet berries…
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flourless (and butterless) crazy delicious chocolate cookies

These cookies are phenomenal.  Seriously beyond anything that I’ve had in a while.  I’m so excited to share them!  They are flourless which is great for anyone who is gluten free (or for next years Passover.)  They are so rich and dreamy I had to double check again and again when I realized that there…
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chocolate chip (whole wheat) muffins

Greg kept saying…are these healthy?  Are they?  I said no not healthy at all (since he as an immediate aversion to anything whole wheat).  He sat down, took a bite and said, mmmm…good.  “These are good.”  I came clean.  Told him they were made with white whole wheat flour – and he said really?  Really?  And he…
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doughnut topping (for muffins)

This donut topping is just delicious.  Really simple…just cinnamon and sugar – on top of melted butter.  What is not to like?  Sadly, the muffin I tried was not too terrific, but I needed to share the topping.  Great for blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, apple or pear muffin…this is decadent and an nice change from a…
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date nut cookies

Reader Heidi longs for the date nut bread of her childhood and asked me to search around.  I tried twice, but no luck, neither were blogworthy which was a bummer.  I decided to take a break from the loaves when I saw the write up of this recipe that basically said these were a cookie version of date nut bread…
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chocolate covered Peeps

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…there is something truly joyful about a chocolate covered Peep!  Plain Peeps, nothing special, but dipped delectably in milk or dark (Rob’s favorite) chocolate — they transform into something spectacular.  I played around this time and planted the dipped peep on a bed of mini m&m’s and wow…
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matzoh bark and chocolate covered matzohk

Chocolate matzoh bark.  So delicious and tasty.  I’m not supposed to eat or drink chocolate, caffeine or alcohol (so sad, advice for vertigo)…but I know this is good (I confess, I had to nibble!)  The salty matzoh, the chocolate, fruit and nuts, it is all so seriously good.  Same thing goes for chocolate dipped matzoh.  Different…
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chocolate/caramel matzoh candy with sea salt

Many of my friends (and kids friends) keep Passover, so I wanted to try this recipe that I’ve heard about throughout the years.  I like the idea of a handy treat for those who celebrate.  My friend Stephanie happily shared the recipe from her “Passover Stuff” book and I must tell you that this is really good…
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(luscious) lemon yogurt cake

Mmmmm…mmm –  lemons again!  I know, I do know that we already have a lemon cake.  But this one is yogurt based and a little less rich.  Without butter, this cake relies on the tart lemon syrup that is poured and absorbed into the cake.  The sweet and tangy glaze completes it.  It is bright yellow, super cheery and certainly easier…
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(moist) bran muffins with fruit and nuts

So these muffins were a nice surprise…pretty good!  They are healthier than others – packed with bran, whole grains, fruits and nuts.  Not too sweet, these are truly meant for breakfast.  I did the math and there is about 1 teaspoon of butter in each muffin – making these a decent choice for an afternoon snack for you…
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burnt caramel pots de creme (with a little chocolate!)

Delicious.  Scrumptious.  Soothing.  These little pots de creme are worth your time and effort!  I made a healthy lunch for my friend Lori and after, I offered her a bite and she said “OhMyGod.  This is seriously Amazing!  Really.”  She proceeded to eat about half and happily exclaimed that her workout allowed this indulgence.  Alisa too –…
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(healthy) buttermilk pancakes

We all really like these pancakes.  Andy especially loves these fresh off the griddle.  I omitted the butter and replaced the white flour with King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour.  It is less dense than whole wheat and the pancakes look whiter which seems to have big appeal.  Mixed with buttermilk, eggs, and chips – these are…
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coconut jumbles

Big hit with ALL!  Rob, Alisa, Zach, Lauren, Sylvie, Alisa – even Greg and Andy who like me, do not even like coconut!  These are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside and are a really satisfying treat.  If the plain are too sweet for you, add some chopped bittersweet chocolate – my favorite.  I added…
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old fashioned peanut butter cookies

We are not a peanut butter cookie family – so these were a little hard to judge.  Took them to a party but since there were so many other gooey sweets (that I made :)), no one really sampled.  Zach and Lauren weren’t wowed (save for the ice cream sandwich form), but yesterday I gave some to Ali…
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(beautiful) blue cornmeal pancakes

The kids, Alisa, myself – we all adored these pancakes.  The blue cornmeal brings a slightly nutty taste and terrific texture to the pancake that was not only different but truly tasty.  And the blue hue was a hit with the kids (well, and the adults too!)  I will make these for brunch next time I’m hosting…and keep them…
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mendiants (chocolate rounds of goodness)

Be creative and have fun!  Little chocolate pools covered with nuts, fruits, seeds and berries.  Bite sized treats for your friends and family.  These are GREAT for a party – you can make weeks prior and they present so well.  And most everyone loves a bit sized morsel of goodness.  I happen to LOVE pretzels and…
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blueberry buckwheat pancakes

So again, trying to make some healthier pancakes and these were a success!  The blueberries burst with flavor and add a sweetness to this healthy batter.  Add maple syrup if you want to sweeten these up – or make a fruit compote instead.  Yum.  The were a hit with Alisa, Rob and me – the kids,…
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heath bar, m & m, cocoa nib or chocolate chip cookies

I happen to enjoy a good Toll House cookie and it is usually my go-to chocolate chip choice.  But I think I found another great one!  This recipe was listed as one of Joy’s favorite cookies in her blog… Joy the Baker.  I was curious about it because the cookie is made with bread flour and a…
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crystal almond pound cake w/citrus glaze

Truly one of the best cakes – my family loves loves loves this.  Rob said “every little bite has great flavor.  Sylvie said, ” It’s fanmazing!!” and the boys agree.   A hit with friends too – Amy said, “you will put this on the blog, right?”   This cake is moist and delicious – a melt in your mouth…
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pumpkin walnut bread

OK, so again, easy and delicious.  2 bowls, no mixer and lots of yummy spices.  Not too sweet pumpkin bread with lots of healthy walnuts make this an easy staple for a breakfast treat, brunch or an afternoon snack.  And save for the icing, it is dairy free (and it is still quite good without).  I made…
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strawberries with sweet mascarpone cheese

My vertigo sadly seems to be sticking… so again, I decided to make simple, easy and a somewhat healthy dessert.  Although as a busy mom of three I suppose I’m often bakin’ easy regardless of my motion sickness.  Anyway this sweet treat is sooo very much better than you would think.  The sweet cheese and the macerated strawberries are delightful on your…
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(seriously delicious) dried fruit compote with greek yogurt

The subject line in my friend Suzanne’s email read OMG!!! after she tasted this dessert.  “Such a treat,” she said.  “I savored every bite and didn’t want it to end.  One of my overall favorites!”  It really is delicious.  Do not skip this even if you think it isn’t for you.  It’s like that dress that you…
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valentine chocolates (kid style)

I love dipped stuff.  Soon I’ll make more grown up chocolates – and dipped dried fruits and nuts, but oh, there is nothing like a chocolate covered Oreo, potato chip, pretzel, marshmallow or graham cracker… I love it all.  So do my kids, their friends and my friends and anyone who came over last week. …
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oreo chocolate drizzle & graham cracker white chocolate drizzle ice cream

So if you read this regularly you know that for dessert I generally eat a small amount of ice cream later in the evening in one of my little mugs.  Magic in a mug.  My little baby magic mugs (given to Greg when he was a baby) are pictured today.  Time to share.  Now it can’t be…
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(delicious) devils food cake

It was Dani’s and Melissa’s birthday so I asked…what can I make for you?  Melissa said your meringues please and Dani said anything chocolate!  So I made the meringues easily enough – then found this devils food cake in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes that looked perfect.  (Funnily enough Rose adapted it from chef Joanna Chang who owns Flour in Boston and worked…
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banana streusel cake

This banana cake is scrumptious.  In the midst dealing with a flat tire, trying to fix the TV volume that was (and still is) stuck on mute, and driving the kids to and from activities…I noticed that I had three very ripe bananas sitting on the counter and decided that I must use them today.  I wanted something…
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butta cookies

These butter cookies are delicious.  Really so so very good.  Simple, yummy, buttery and rich.  All my tasters this week enjoyed immensely – Suzanne, Jamie, Zach, Lauren, Sylvie, Alisa and Greg.  Mike said they were his all time favorite – but thought they could look more enticing.  I happen to like that you don’t expect to be wowed – kind…
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jeweled winter fruit soup (delicious!)

Oh, I LOVED this.  Make this!  I served it to a few friends on Saturday and it was a huge success.  Very special – especially for a fruit salad (although I do love fruit).  The marinating syrup is delightfully refreshing – with fresh vanilla, ginger and citrus flavors.  It also presents beautifully.  This calls for some…
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chocolate chip rice krispie treats

OK, yes we all know how to make these – but my kids (or their friends) sometimes mention that mine taste better than those they buy at the bake-sale.  I often say it’s because I bake with looove and give them a big smile.  Truthfully though, the love comes from a little kosher salt and vanilla – and the added…
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caramel shorties w/sea salt

Ohmygoodness these bars are really tasty!  They are great for a party;  just so pretty to look at.  Everyone loved these – but especially Alisa – who loved the almond version.  The little specs of sea salt bring out the best in caramel and make these very addictive.  I wrapped most of the bars up and popped…
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chocolate popcorn

In my teens I loved go to the movies with my (then) new friend Pam (now old friend).  We both loved the movie theater popcorn and we both loved peanut and plain m&m’s – and we usually got it all and shared.  One day as we sat down, Pam turned to me, giggled and dumped the extra large packs…
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blue corn biscotti

I must admit I’m not the biggest biscotti fan – but I often see many eyes light up over biscotti (Val, Kathy, Mike), so I decided to make these again – since it’s been about 13 years.  And ohmygoodness…I’m getting sooo much crazy good feedback!  Melissa called to report that both she and her mom loved…
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chocolate yogurt muffin cakes

These muffins are moist and delectable – and great for a brunch treat.  They are very easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand right now.  I happen to love muffins with a textured top and the added chips and sugar (placed on top before you bake them) gives them a…
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