Grace’s Second Birthday

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My baby girl’s birthday was yesterday, and it was all I could do to not cry.  Why do the teenage years seem to drag on forever, but when life really begins, does it go so fast?? It seemed like only yesterday that I held this tiny girl in my arms, staring into her sweet, newborn face.  Anyway, enough sappy-sweet stuff.  We celebrated Grace’s big milestone by having a bird-themed birthday party.  Right now, she is really into birds of all kinds, so I thought it fitting.

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I made vanilla sugar cookies and hummingbird cupcakes, and had caramel apple cider and lemonade for drinks.  My husband told me that all previous birthday parties I made too much food and sent goodie bags of desserts home with guests, so I decided to agree with him this year and make it simple.

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I purchased these really cool apothecary jars from Amazon as an early Christmas present and loved putting candy in them.  My original plan was to have the malt-ball robin eggs and chocolate eggs wrapped in the shiny foil, but I think they are only out around Easter.  Gumballs, sixlets, and Jordan Almonds worked as a close second.   And the birch straws added a nice touch.  (It was also nice that I happened to have them in the pantry. Yeah to reusing!) Continue reading

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Apple Puff Pancakes

So I have been on hiatus for a year and a half.  Wow, I wasn’t planning on taking that long of a break!  During my absence, I put off renewing my website domain name.  Actually, it was more of a lapse on my part, one of those I’ll-get-to-it-when-I-have-a-free-moment kind of lapses.  However, when I did get around to renewing it about a month later, not thinking too much about any repercussions that might have ensued, I was quite shocked that my blog name was no longer available.  WHAT??? I’ve had this blog name for 4 years. Four long years! After some investigating, a friend figured out someone from Japan had snatched up my name.  I am sure this person was waiting for me to BEG for my name back, at any price, but this only fueled my complete annoyance at this person (and complete annoyance is an understatement).  (By the way, if you do go to the website, it has absolutely nothing to do with baking.  Just warning you.)

But truth be told, I wasn’t fully sold on my web name.  It does come from my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, but my idea many years ago of starting a side business of baking out of my home came with too many bumps in the road.  So while creating a new blog name, I thought about what I wanted this blog to be, how often I would like to post, and what creative outlet I wanted it to serve.  With that in mind, I decided to just simply call it Holly Bakes, because, well, that’s mostly what I do on this blog.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll post every week, as I have two young kids and work full-time, but I can guarantee that what is put on here is fantastic food and something I hope you’ll try and share with your family.  And if you do, I’d truly love to hear from you.  Sometimes writing and sending posts out into cyberspace feels like such a lonely vacuum.  So, without further adieu, here is my first post in a year and a half.  Enjoy! xoxo

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We went to an apple orchard on a dreary, drizzly, October day.  Actually, this is quite common for the Northwest, so we were prepared with raincoats, umbrellas, and goulashes.  My parents have friends who own this orchard and had a fun morning planned for kids; both Matthew and Grace had a blast riding in a four-wheeler, eating delicious applesauce, and picking what apples they could reach.  I couldn’t help but laugh at Grace as she tried carrying the bucket full of apples as we moved our way down the row of trees.

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Easter Desserts

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So in early March, I came up with a list of Easter treats I wanted to make and share.  Tutorials on fondant Easter bunnies, little carrots, and cute eggs, all to go along with carrot cake cupcakes.  (And I don’t know why I like carrot cake, because I certainly do not like carrots.  In fact, they are the number one food on my list of Foods I Don’t Like, but there’s something about adding sugar that changes everything.)  I also wrote down ideas for decorated Easter sugar cookies and even a cake. 

Last post I said that we are moving, and in fact we are.  We get our keys April 5th!  It’s our first house and we are so excited.  However, it was a last-minute decision to list our condo before we move, instead of after.  As a result, my mom came over last Friday and helped me pack almost everything in my kitchen, to get ready for the open house.  And with the boxes being moved to the garage were my ideas for Easter treats.  The only baking “things” in my kitchen are cookie sheets and a 9″x13″ pan.  It’s really sad.

So what I’ve decided to do is give you a list of a few things I have made for Easter and some recipes from around the web that I think are fantastic.  They’re certainly ones I’ve wanted to make, and some are even on my Pinterest board.  Speaking of Pinterest, if you want to see more Easter or spring dessert ideas, check out the board titled SPRING.  Enjoy, and Happy Easter! xoxo

From the blog

Lemon Poppyseed Cake–Light and sweet, this is a nice cake with a raspberry filling.

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes–These cupcakes are super moist and paired with a cream cheese frosting–yum! Continue reading

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Truffle Cupcakes

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This month is literally flying by! I can’t believe that Spring Break is right around the corner.  This means spring is almost here.  This also means my maternity leave ends.  Which is sad for all.  But, it will be nice to get back to work, see my students, and think academically again.  When I left my students in mid-November, I told them I was returning on April 1st, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s Joke.  (My high school students didn’t get it–ahh, the humor is lost on them.)  At the time, it seemed like my break would be for so long, but that too has flown by. 

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I actually made these truffle cupcakes around Valentine’s Day, but between preparing lesson plans, working on a quilt for baby Grace’s nursery, (I’ll post that when I finish), and taking care of the ins-and-outs of two little cherubs, these yummy cupcakes didn’t make it out on the blog in time for the big romantic day.  That’s fine; they’re good any time of the year.  To make things easier, I used store-bought truffles, but you can make your own.  Continue reading

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Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

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There’s just something about peanut butter and chocolate.  I don’t know what it is, but it makes me happy.  Every summer during my elementary years, my family would drive 7 hours to camp at Lake Shasta.  There, at a dusty campsite, we would meet my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents for a week of skiing, fishing, and relaxing.  It was there that I watched my older cousin do something that I would have never been allowed to do at home: she broke off a piece of a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (reserved for s’mores, of course) and dipped it into a jar of peanut butter.  At first I scoffed at her culinary move, but she told me I couldn’t say it was bad until I tried it.  I did, but I had to make sure my mom wasn’t watching.  Getting in trouble on vacation merits a harsher punishment.  (And don’t ask me why I thought I would get in trouble.  I guess that’s how an 8-year-old thinks.)

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Since then, when I needed a quick fix for peanut butter and chocolate, I will break off a small wedge of a chocolate bar and dip it into peanut butter.   My college roommates would look at me with the same look I gave my cousin, and I gave them the same statement my cousin gave me: just try it.  Continue reading

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10 Valentine Desserts + Sugar Cube Hearts {tutorial}

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I thought I would share some of my top Valentine’s Day desserts with you, in case you haven’t made up your mind as to what you want to bake for the big day.  These desserts range from taking an hour or so to a few hours.  Some can even be made ahead of time (like the truffles and decorated sugar cookies).  Whatever you decide, they are sure to please whomever you are giving them to.  Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo

Pink and Red Sugar Cookies

Red Velvet Truffles

Rose Cupcakes

Black Bottom Brownies

Chocolate Heart Sandwich Cookie Sandwiches

Swirl Cupcakes

Valentine Cookies

Pecan-Oreo Fudge Bars

Oreo Truffles

Strawberry Pound Cake

Sugar Cube Hearts Tutorial 

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DIY sugar cube hearts are such a fun and simple embellishment to make. I say embellishment, because, just like scrapbooking, it adds the finishing touches on the final product. For cupcaks and cakes, instead of buying store-bought hearts, you can make your own, in whatever color and size combination you want. Since they are made of just sugar and water, they can last a long time, provided they stay out of the heat and don’t come in contact with liquid. Continue reading

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Sugar Cube Hearts {tutorial}

I am over at Sweet C’s today sharing how to make these easy, adorable sugar cube hearts.  I hope you’ll join me! Enjoy! xoxo

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