Sugar Cookies + Royal Icing = Awesome!

I have long admired the many food bloggers who make amazing decorated sugar cookies. The kind that look like they came from one of those Cookies By Design places... only better. So when I offered to help plan a baby shower for one of my close friends I thought to myself, "what better take home than a decorated cookie?!" I figured, if all of these other women can do it, surely I can too. So I began my mission... to figure out how to make fabulous decorated sugar cookies that I wouldn't be embarrassed to give people at the shower. I searched blogs for cookie recipes and helpful tips. I learned a whole lot about royal icing... and the joys of lining and flooding (who knew?!). In particular, these blogs were helpful and inspiring:

Amanda at
I am Baker (absolutely stunning decorating, great recipe for chewy cookies)
Bridget at Bake at 350 (adorable blog, great decorating ideas and tips!)
Susan at
She's Becoming Doughmesstic (an all-around great blog with lots of inspiration)

So after much reading and several trips to JoAnn's for supplies, it was time to get to work! I decided to make some Christmas cookies to start. I needed practice! I stuck to the typical Christmas colors: red, green, and white. I practiced my lining (which was WAY harder than I thought it would be!). I practiced flooding (with a spoon no less...hadn't found a squeeze bottle yet). I practiced writing (which I ended up being much better at than I thought!).
Overall it was lots of fun! The cookies turned out delicious (I'll post the recipe at some point) and it gave me some confidence about taking on the shower cookies!

I think Frosty was my favorite of the day. But wait til you see the shower cookies!

TWD: Low & Lush Chocolate Cheesecake

The title of this post should be TWD: Back in Action! I was excited to see January's recipes posted on TWD this week... but it made me realize I missed all of December! I have to admit... the December recipes didn't thrill me. I wasn't jumping at the chance to make the Rosy Pear and Pistachio Tart or a pecan pie. But then I saw that the last December recipe (and the last pick for 2009) was this chocolate cheesecake. The one recipe this month that made me say "ooh, I can't wait to make that!" Lucky for me I had all the ingredients already in the kitchen.
I only made 1/3 of the recipe. Mr. LITK and I have eaten more than our fair share of rich food and sweets this holiday season... the last thing we need is a whole cheesecake in the fridge! Luckily it was easy to cut in thirds. I also used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I put the cheesecake in two ramekins and cooked them for about 23 minutes. I ended up with two adorable mini cheesecakes - perfect! Since I didn't start until I got home from work, they certainly didn't chill for 8 hours. But the cheesecake was still rich, creamy, and delicious. Definitely a recipe I'd make again! Thanks to The Tea Lady for a great way to end the year!

TWD Rewind: All-in-One Holiday Bundt

So I've been on a bit of a baking hiatus... at least when it comes to baking along with TWD and MSC. It seems like it was just Thanksgiving and the next thing I knew... this week is January 1st! I love the holidays, but I hate how quickly they fly by. Every year it feels like there is less and less time to savor them. To soak in the Christmas lights, the music, the holiday parties, the time with family. I think I listened to the one Christmas cd I had in my car a grand total of 5 times. And I love holiday music! Buying a condo and moving didn't help with the whole time-flying-by-at-the-speed-of-light problem. We moved in a little over three weeks ago and we're still surrounded by boxes! And we need a dresser for heaven's sake... I can't tell you how sick I am of digging through a box for underwear and socks every morning!

But I digress. What seems like eons ago, I made this delicious bundt for Thanksgiving. When Dorie says "all-in-one" she really means it... this cake has all your favorite holiday flavors. Pumpkin, cranberries, pecans, and a blend of yummy spices. The cake stayed really moist and the flavors blended together very well. Yum! Thanks to Britin of The Nitty Britty for a festive pick!


Same Lawyer, New Kitchen!

So I have missed several TWD posts.... I DID make the All-in-One Holiday Bundt for Thanksgiving (it was quite delicious) but haven't gotten around to posting about it.

The reason I've been MIA is because the LITK family has moved! We closed on a condo last week (after a very long and stressful process... which is a whole other story) and moved into our first home on Saturday! There are still lots of boxes to unpack, but we love it and are super excited to be homeowners!

Unfortunately that means all of my cookbooks have been in a box for weeks. I was thinking about baking up some sables for this week's TWD but yesterday we discovered that our gas had been turned off (that's right... the gas company discontinued our service instead of just transferring it into our name!). That means no oven and thus no baking until further notice. Unfortunately the gas company won't be out to start our service until Friday (which also means we have no heat or hot water until then!) but I've got lots of baking planned for this weekend. And I'll post about the delicious bundt cake too... it would be great for holiday parties or Christmas get togethers.


MSC: Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes

My second MSC post! MS Cupcakes Club is another online baking group where, once a month, we bake cupcakes from Martha Stewart's fabulous cupcake book. Last month was pumpkin cupcakes, and in keeping with the holiday theme, this month's selection is Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes.

Now I wouldn't normally associate sweet potatoes (as much as I love them) with cupcakes. But they made them really soft and moist, and added great flavor. The cupcakes are topped with mini marshmallows that have been "toasted" in the broiler. It was a little tough to get the mounds of marshmallows to stay together long enough to stick the pan in the broiler... and they certainly didn't take long to brown! I was afraid that once cooled the marshmallows would have a funny texture or would harden back up, but they stayed soft and gooey, and were a great addition to the cupcakes.

These would be great for Thanksgiving, or any fall party. Thanks to Karen from Karen's Cookies, Cakes & More for this month's selection!

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

I've never been much for crisps. If I'm going to eat dessert, I've always steered towards chocolate, peanut butter, and the like. I enjoy an occasional slice of apple pie a la mode, but generally speaking I like my fruit plain, simple, and undoctored.

So I wasn't particularly excited about this TWD recipe (chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef - a super cute blog!) Mr. LITK on the other hand, he like fruit desserts. So I figured if nothing else he was sure to like it. Well I was wrong... he loved it! And I thought it was pretty tasty too!

I quartered the recipe and split it into two ramekins. As you can probably guess by the name, the recipe calls for diced apples and whole cranberries, as well as dried cranberries or raisins. The crumble is a basic mix of flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon... with the addition of coconut and ginger (yum!). I had most of the ingredients, but no cranberries.... so off I went to the grocery store.

Now I live in a major metropolitan area. And I go to one of those giant chain grocery stores (Dominicks's if you must know). So one would think that I could find just about anything. Wrong. Remember the marscapone from a few recipes back... no where to be found. I was expecting, what with Thanksgiving right around the corner, that cranberries would be in great abundance. I checked the produce section: no fresh cranberries. Then I checked the freezer section: no frozen cranberries. Then I asked a remarkably friendly clerk: he looked at me like I was crazy and directed me to the jellied cranberry. So I had to improvise. I bought a can of whole cranberry sauce, thinking I could strain off the sauce and have whole cranberries left. What I learned was that whole cranberry sauce is basically jellied cranberry... with a few berries scattered throughout. And its not meant to be strained. But I managed to get a few cranberries out of it, and added in some dried cherries and the raisins.

Overall it turned out to be a nice mix and the crisps were delicious. We ate them hot out of the over with a big dollop of whipped cream - yum! Definitely a great cold weather treat!


TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

For this week's TWD challenge, I decided on the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake chosen by Kayta of Second Dinner. (Remember, for November we can bake the four recipes in any order we choose!) I was at my parents' house this weekend, and decided it was a good time to bake a cake - and to have three other people to help me eat it!

This is not the kind of cake you throw together on a whim. If company shows up unexpectedly, you do NOT whip up the chocolate caramel concoction. It's elaborate. And expensive. And time consuming. There are 20 ounces of chocolate and more than four sticks of butter in this baby! It's definitely a special occasion kind of cake.

Unfortunately, I wasn't too thrilled with the results. The overall consensus was that it was way too rich and buttery for our liking. Now I did make several substitutions, which probably didn't help matters. And I was also rushed for time. But I'm not sure I'll be making this cake again anytime soon!

For starters, I couldn't find chestnut spread and I wasn't about to order it online. So I used peanut butter and peanuts in place of the chesnut spread and chestnuts. In the P&Q some of the other bakers mentioned that chestnut spread has a high fat content (more so than pb?)... which might be why my cake dried out a bit, despite the 2 1/4 sticks of butter! The middle was pretty good, but the edges were a little crispy. I also didn't make the brandy syrup, which probably would have helped.

My favorite part of the cake was the ganache that went between the layers of cake. It started with a stovetop caramel, then cream, chocolate and (of course) butter. The chocolate-caramel combination was delicious, but it was a little too buttery for me. I don't like to actually taste the butter. It would be fantastic combined with powdered sugar to make a frosting though!

The glaze was also pretty tasty on its own... but the whole things together was just too much. I also didn't cool the cake long enough, so when I assembled it the ganache started to melt and it turned into a little bit of a mess.

I'm thinking of making the holiday bundt cake for Thanksgiving... so next week will be cranberry-apple crisps. I've never made a crisp before, so wish me luck!


TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

The month of November is a little bit different at TWD... we're allowed to bake the four recipes chosen for the month in any order we want. The choices for November are Chocolate Carmel Chestnut Cake, Cran-Apple Crisps, All In One Holiday Bundt Cake, and these cookies. How did I decide? Well the fun part of TWD is that I get to make a new recipe every week and bake along with lots of other fabulous bloggers... but this also means that we are never without treats in our house! I've been trying to halve recipes when I can, but I definitely take any opportunity to pawn the goodies off on other people... like my co-workers! We have a long meeting tomorrow afternoon so I figured these cookies would be a good pick me up.

As cookies go, I'm a fan of the chewy, gooey, and fresh from the oven variety. I've also been known to eat my fair share of dough before it even makes it in the oven! The recipe for these cookies says it makes 24 large flat cookies... I made mine a little smaller and didn't bake them quite as long in hopes that they wouldn't turn too crispy. I'd never baked with molasses before, but it gave the cookies a nice depth of flavor - sweet but still a little savory - and kept them nice and chewy in the middle. I also used only a teensy pinch of pepper and a sprinkle of allspice... and increased the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Overall these cookies were super tasty - they'd be great dunked in a cup of hot chocolate or made into ice cream sandwiches. Hopefully my co-workers like them!

Thanks to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for this selection - she'll be posting the recipe in a couple of weeks!


TWD: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

So I am a day late this week... oops! I went to dinner with two girlfriends last night and was just too tired when I got home to post. I need to start posting on Monday nights!

This week's recipe was chosen by April of Short + Rose. Until this week I've followed every recipe pretty closely (except for subbing in applesauce for some of the butter/oil in the allspice crumb muffins). This week, however.... I had to make some changes! First of all, I don't keep kirsch on hand (I actually don't even know what kirsch is... though I gather from the P&Q that its some sort of cherry liquor). We actually don't keep any liquor on hand (we're beer and wine people)... and I wasn't about to go out and buy a bottle of rum for a teensy 1/4 cup! I also couldn't find marscapone cheese at the grocery store. I spent 15 minutes scouring the refrigerated section but came up empty handed. So I used all cream cheese instead. I don't own a springform pan so I halved the recipe and made it in a Corningware casserole dish. Despite all of this, the torte came out really well! The bottom layer is a rich, fudgy brownie. I was a little concerned about the whole cherries (I think I've mentioned before I have texture issues), but they were hardly noticeable and just made the brownie more moist. The top layer was a creamy mousse - I'm sure the marscapone would have been delicious, but cream cheese worked well (and I even used 1/3 less fat!).

I followed the suggestion in the book and put a few tablespoons of leftover cherry preserves in my mini food chopper to make a glaze. I spooned this into a sandwich bag, cut off the corner, and piped lines on top of the torte. Then I used a butter knife to make the chevron pattern. It turned out nicely - and would be great for a dinner party.

Be sure to check the TWD blogroll to see how everyone else did!


TWD: Sweet Potato Biscuits

For this week's TWD post, Erin of Prudence Pennywise chose Dorie's Sweet Potato Biscuits. Isn't it funny how so many fall foods come in fall colors... like orange? I've made pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bread, roasted butternut squash, butternut squash soup.... and now sweet potato biscuits. I opted to use canned sweet potatoes for my biscuits because, frankly, its easier. I spent several hours last weekend peeling/slicing/grating pumpkins and squash and I wasn't too keen on re-visiting that just yet. So canned sweet potatoes it was!

This recipe was super simple and the dough came together pretty easily. It was a little sticky, but I tried not to overwork it (on the advice of many other TWD bakers). The biscuits came out really well. The were a little soft in the middle but they were quite tasty. They'd be great to dunk in soup or maybe for a fall spin on biscuits and gravy. Be sure to check out Erin's blog for the recipe and try them out!


MSC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes!

I'm super excited for my first MSC post! As I mentioned, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Club is an online baking group where members take turns picking cupcakes from Martha's book and we all bake along and blog about it. Martha + cupcakes + blogging = fabulous!

For this month's recipe, Kim of What the Whisk picked Pumpkin Patch cupcakes. Kim's blog is super cute - be sure to check out how her cupcakes turned out. The photos are stunning! And what a perfect pick for October. Coincidentally, I caught part of Martha's Halloween special on FLN this weekend - tons of cute ideas for party decorations and all things Halloween. Makes me wish I was throwing a Halloween party!

These cupcakes turned out super moist and rich. The combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves never disappoints... but what really made these cupcakes special was the addition of real pumpkin. I have to admit, it took me forever to peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds, chop it up, and grate it in the food processor. But it was worth it in the end. After all that time spent on the pumpkin, I went the simple route for decorating and used those mellowcreme pumpkins that line the shelves this time of year. They looked cute, but the next day the orange sugar had started to melt and create little orange pools around the pumpkins. Luckily my co-workers didn't mind and still gobbled them up!

The cream cheese frosting was also wonderful - it was fluffy, creamy, and rich. Probably the best cream cheese frosting I've ever had. The recipe made a TON so I had quite a bit left over. I spread it on low fat honey grahams and made sandwiches, then stuck them in the freezer to made pseudo ice cream sandwiches. Although Mr. QC loved the cupcakes, he said the frosting sandwiches were out of this world. Overall my first MSC adventure was a big success... and I'm looking forward to the next one!


TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

For this week's TWD post, Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table picked Allspice Crumb Muffins. As if I haven't mentioned it before, I love the tastes and smells of fall. These muffins were no exception. They came together easily and make a great grab-and-go breakfast. I've never used allspice before - it's said to be like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. There is definitely a savory, peppery taste to it. It was a nice contrast to the light and fluffy muffin. My fabulous taste tester, Mr. QC, loves pepper (the man puts it on everything... and heavy-handed is a bit of an understatement) so he really enjoyed these. Some of the other bakers had trouble with the crumble topping sliding off the muffins. Mine slid into the middle and sunk a little bit, but overall they held together pretty well.

Yum! Be sure to check out Kayte's blog for the recipe!


Pumpkin's Debut and Cupcakes to Come...

Fall baking just isn't complete without pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins.... I love it all. I especially love the aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg filling the kitchen. So when I came across a recipe for iced pumpkin cookies last week, I knew I had to make them. It was high time for pumpkin to make its first appearance of the season in this lawyer's kitchen! It was freezing in Chicago this weekend, so the hubs and I enjoyed these with a nice hot cup of tea... mmm!

The cookies turned out very moist and cake-like. The icing was a little gooey, but I think that's because I accidentally threw in the whole block of cream cheese - oops! - and made more of a glaze. These were best the first day I made them. After that, I stuck them in the fridge to keep them from getting too sticky.

I can't remember where I got the recipe from - I copied it without copying what fabulous blogger posted it. But here it is... enjoy!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
(Adapted from AllRecipes)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (**feel free to substitute 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves**)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I used fat free and it was fine)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by heaping tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
To Make Frosting: With an electric mixer, combine confectioners’ sugar, and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Feel free to add in an extra teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for flavor! Then you can either frost cookies with a knife, or drizzle with the help of a pastry bag and tip. (Or if you do not have a pastry bag, just fill a Ziplock bag with the frosting, squeeze out the extra air, seal, and then use scissors to snip a tiny hole in one corner, and squeeze carefully onto cookies.)

**In other exciting news, I joined another online baking group! Martha Stewart's Cupcake Club is baking its way through the book
Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. I love Martha and I really love cupcakes... so this was a no brainer! Once a month members take turns picking one of the recipes. Then, on the 15th of the month, we all post about it. I joined just in time to make October's cupcake selection... which also includes pumpkin! Watch for it later this week. Happy Columbus Day!


TWD: Split Level Pudding

For this week's installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla picked the split level pudding. The original recipe calls for classic vanilla pudding on top and chocolate ganache on the bottom. While I love a good chocolate and vanilla combo, I really love chocolate and coffee. So I flavored my pudding with some instant espresso, per one of Dorie's suggested alternatives.

The recipe was fairly simple, but as many other TWD bakers have mentioned, there were a lot of steps -- bring this to a boil, whisk it on the stove, put it in the food processor, back on the stove, back in the food processor -- whew! I tried to simplify by just using a hand mixer. The pudding was delicious and turned really thick and creamy on the stove. But when I mixed it with the butter for the final step, it turned a little chunky. Chunky pudding = no good.

It may not look too pretty... but it sure tasted good. Although I have to admit... next time I'm craving pudding, I may just stick with the instant kind!


TWD: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

Chocolate. Caramel. Peanuts. Yum.
Carla of Chocolate Moosey selected Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart as this week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. I've been looking forward to it all month - anticipating it would be sort of like a tart version of a snickers bar.

The challenging part of this recipe is making the caramel. That's right - making the caramel. No sundae topping caramel from a jar here. No unwrapped and melted Kraft caramels in this tart. Just sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and heavy cream. Burning the sugar is totally anxiety-producing. I followed Dorie's recommendation and measured out everything ahead of time. That helped. My mom was also in town to visit and supervised my sugar-burning debauchery. That also helped. (Thanks, mom!)

Overall it turned out really well!! I shouldn't have baked the crust quite so long, but it turned out like shortbread and tasted good. The caramel had the tiniest burnt flavor in spots, but stayed really creamy for the most part. And the ganache was delicious. I used an 11 inch tart pan (the only one they had at BB&B) but it worked just fine.

Check out that caramel-peanutty-goodness! Two thumbs up for this recipe - Mr. QC agrees! Up next week: my first crack at homemade pudding.


TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets

When I first read that this week's recipe was cottage cheese pufflets I thought "hmm... that doesn't sounds very tasty." I was envisioning something savory and lumpy. I have texture issues (anything suspended in jell-o is my worst nightmare) and although I like cottage cheese, I had my concerns. But leave it to Dorie to show us how cottage cheese can make a light and flaky crust! It gives the dough a little tang that makes you wonder what the secret ingredient is.

The cottage cheese is thrown into a food processor with the other ingredients and everything gets blended into a dough. As many of the other TWD bakers have mentioned... the dough feel as if it was made with paste! It's sticky and gooey... and tough to handle. I chilled it for about four hours before trying to roll it out. Then I used PLENTY of flour to keep it from sticking. As soon as you start handling the dough and it gets even the tiniest bit warm, it wants to turn back into a squishy mess. I had pretty good luck though, and got it rolled out and cut into squares with minimal hassle.

Once its cut into squares, you put a dollop of preserves on each piece. I used raspberry jam - which was delicious - but you can use any variety! It was interesting to see what the other bakers used - everything from blueberry to apricot to jalapeno! Then each square is folded into a triangle (similar to the apple turnovers from last week), baked, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

True to their name, my pufflets puffed up pretty well. My jam oozed out and made a huge mess... but other than that, they turned out pretty well. They tasted surprisingly like a struedel or a danish. They would be great served with an afternoon cup of tea of coffee!

Thanks to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for this week's pick. Be sure to check her blog for the complete recipe! Up next week: chocolate caramel crunch tart... I can't wait!


TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

I love fall. It is far and away my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the warm colors, and cozy sweaters and jackets. The lingering warmth of summer gives way to cool clear evenings. The holidays are on the horizon. I just can't say enough good things about fall!

Few things say fall more than warm apples and cinnamon. Wrap them up in a light flaky dough and add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream... I can almost feel the chill in the air! (Even though its still in the 80s in Chicago this week... but it will be here before we know it.)

This recipe wasn't overly challenging, but it did have a lot of steps. The dough had to chill twice -- first in a rectangular block, and then folded like an envelope. The thing that took me the longest was dicing the apples. I know I'm no speed demon with my chef's knife, but it took me forEVER to peel and dice four apples! The apples were mixed with cinnamon and sugar and tucked inside circles of dough. Here is a batch, fresh out of the oven!

I served them warm with vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon -- delish! My hubby (we'll call him "Quality Control") gave them two thumbs up. The dough made 16 turnovers the first go around. I collected the scraps, chilled them overnight, and got 8 more turnovers the next day. And I STILL had filling left over (I knew that was too much dicing!). I froze this second batch, so they're ready to pop in the oven whenever we want a freshly-baked turnover. (I must admit, they didn't taste quite as good re-heated, so I'm glad to have some to bake fresh.)

Thanks to Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen for this week's pick! Be sure to check out the TWD Blog to see how the other bakers did! And cheers to fall being right around the corner!


TWD: Chocolate Souffle

Souffles have always been something that intimidated me... in a baking sense of course. The idea that they're supposed to puff up just right and still manage to look good always seemed a little out of my league. Probably why I don't make bread from scratch very often (except with the bread maker - it's so much easier!) So I was excited but a little nervous to see this week's selection - chocolate souffle.

I made individual souffles in ramekins instead of making one larger souffle. And I have to say - they turned out really well! And tasted even better. Here they are rising in the oven:

They overflowed a bit. I've read that you can use parchment paper and a rubberband to make "collars" to prevent this. I'll probably try that next time. But I have to say, the recipe was amazingly easy to follow and came together pretty quickly. Here's the finished product:

It's a good thing I had my camera ready - about two seconds after I took this picture they started to fall (maybe the parchment paper would help that as well). But they were delicious - light, creamy, and decadent without being too rich.

Be sure to check out She's Becoming Doughmesstic for the recipe. And thanks to Susan for a great pick!


TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

It's here at last - my very first Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) blog post! As I mentioned yesterday, TWD is a blogging group where members take turns selecting recipes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. I came across it several months ago and have watched as the bloggers baked fabulous cakes, pies, tarts, and even a blanc manger! (Ok, so I didn't know what a blanc manger was either until I read TWD! Read about it here) I was excited to get in on the action... and now that I finally started my very own blog, I can! Thanks to Laurie for starting the group and letting me bake along.

This week's recipe was selected by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell - espresso cheesecake brownies! You just can't go wrong with brownies and cheesecake. Like many of the TWD bakers, I left out the glaze on top - although looking at some of the delicious pictures, I wish I hadn't! I had to make them in an 8x8 pan (because I don't have a 9x9 pan), so they were a little on the thick side. The brownies also dried out a little bit - the batter stiffened up while I was making the cheesecake layer (maybe because I used a Hershey's dark bar because I couldn't find baking chocolate at Target! That's what happens when you try to bake late Sunday night!). Overall the flavors were delicious and I'll definitely make these again!



I started reading blogs about two years ago, when I was planning my Chicago wedding. I read blogs about wedding dresses, invitations, flowers, themes... everything you can possibly imagine! I was overwhelmed by the number of creative and fantastic ideas out there... and by the bloggers' willingness to share them! I spent hours pouring over pictures galore, wishing I could plan a dozen weddings just to use all the fun ideas I saw (ok, not really... planning one was stressful enough!).

After the wedding was over, I felt a void. I still perused the occasional wedding blog... but I didn't exactly have a use for the latest invitation suite or guest book idea. But I decided that the fact that I had multiple friends get married this summer was excuse enough!

And then I found baking blogs. Actually, it all started when I clicked on a link somewhere to thepioneerwoman.com (I'll have to figure out how to make fancy links one of these days). I was instantly transported to Ree's life on an Oklahoma ranch - the kids, the cows and the daily adventures. If you've never read Ree's blog, you really must! Along with hilarious stories, she has tons of great recipes and photography tips! From there I linked to another cooking/baking blog.... and then another, and another and another! I found blogs like Smitten Kitchen, Tartlette, and Bakerella, just to name a few! And although I got tons of inspiration and ideas... there was no follow through. I didn't bake a single thing! (Ok, I made one of Ree's salad's for a BBQ once... but it was only a salad for Pete's sake!)

So after much deliberation (almost 15 whole minutes last week) I decided to start my own blog. Part of this decision came because I wanted to join the blogging group Tuesdays with Dorie, where a bunch of bloggers all take turns picking a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Turns out there's one eensy weensy requirement for joining a blogging group - A BLOG. And so A Lawyer in the Kitchen was born. I have no idea if anyone will actually read this blog (except my mom.... and my husband) but I think it will be a fun way to push myself to try new things in the kitchen! And who knows, maybe I'll talk about other things... decorating, crafting, entertaining, shopping.... what was I thinking becoming a lawyer? Thanks for reading... and look for my first Tuesdays with Dorie post tomorrow!