So, what do you give you neighbors who help you move a house full of furniture for new carpet? How about, Mounds of Love cupcakes and Lemon Lavender cookies.

I mainly made these goodies for a bridal shower, but had some extra and thought I would express my gratitude to those that helped us move furniture for getting new carpet. And now I thought I would share the recipes :) 

Click here for the Lavender cookie recipe.

Mounds of Love cake/cupcakes:
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) chocolate pudding
4 eggs
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients, except for the mini chocolate chips, on low speed for 30 seconds. Then mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Fill treated cake pans or cupcake liners. Bake 350 degrees according to pan directions, or 
18-20 minutes for cupcakes.

This buttercream is what makes these cake/cupcakes taste like a mounds bar, and it is SO good!

White chocolate coconut buttercream
4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
2 T. milk
1/2 c. flaked coconut*
2 c. powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, melt white chocolate, butter and milk, over low heat. Stir continually to prevent scorching. When it is all melted and smooth, remove from heat and cool for 20 minutes. Mix in coconut and and powdered sugar. You may need to add more powdered sugar or milk to reach desired consistency. The icing does set up more once it is completely cool, so I use it a little thinner knowing it will set up more. 

*If you are not a coconut fan, you can omit the coconut and just have a very yummy tasting white chocolate icing.

Ice cake or cupcakes as desired and ENJOY! Careful this icing is very addicting. I love using it for many different things and I always get compliments on it. Let me know what you think.
I love it when the weather starts to turns warm and there is fresh strawberries in the store. I love using fresh strawberries for an easy way to jazz up a simple cupcake. 
For these cupcakes I used a basic white cake, then I filled them with homemade strawberry jam. Piped a buttercream 1M rosette (learned in Wilton Course 1) and placed a  fresh strawberry slice on top. Walla! You just took a basic cupcake and made it amazing :)
These are SOOOOO good! A couple of years ago my sister asked me if I could come up with a lavender cookie for her birthday. Ever since then she requests these cookies for her birthday. In the past I have made them with a strawberry cream cheese icing, which is really good too. This year I couldn't find any good strawberries (I think everyone used them up at Valentine's Day) so I decided to try a blueberry cream cheese and it was just as tasty. 

Using fresh ingredients is key to getting the best taste. I used to work at a place that has fresh bulk spices and that is where I buy my lavender flowers. I usually stock up when I go back to Colorado to visit, but they will ship product. Here is a link to their lavender flowers, the smallest amount will do because it doesn't take much. I also use fresh fruit in my cream cheese icing, it adds a true flavor and the best taste.

Here is the recipe: 

Lavender Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter, room temp
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 T. lavender flowers

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and extracts and beat until creamed together. In a separate bowl mix flour, salt, soda, and lavender flowers, add to butter mixture. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight or until firm (about 3 hours). Roll out dough on floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Icing

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
8 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. fresh blueberries or strawberries

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and shortening. Add in vanilla and salt and cream some more. Toss in the whole blueberries and let them mixer crush them up, if you do strawberries cut them up first. Mix in powdered sugar to desired consistency.

As you can see, I like to make a sandwich cookie with these. Simply pipe some icing on the bottom of one cookie and place another one on top. You can't help but feel sophisticated when eating these cookies :) They would be great if you are hosting a luncheon or afternoon tea. So, enjoy and let me know what you think.
My daughter chose a Chocolate Peanut Butter cake for the flavor of her birthday cake. It was a new recipe I tried and we all loved it so much, I wanted to share it here. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

1 box devil's food cake mix
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
1 1/3 c. water
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Combine cake mix, peanut butter, eggs and water in a large bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Spread batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees according to pan directions (see this post for a chart on baking times). Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

This cake is SO good with a... 

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream peanut butter and butter in a large bowl. Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, mix at medium to low speed until creamy (you may need to add a bit more milk, depending on the consistency you need) about 1 minute.
Sorry for a bit of blog absence, I am finally back from having Christmas #2 and #3 with family in Colorado. We always have a great time but, it is good to be back and getting in to our routine again. 
My tip this week is something you can do with all your leftover candy canes. It seems like every year I end up with leftover candy canes, doesn't everyone? It is a simple recipe of... 

Candy Cane Buttercream

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 tsp. flavoring or your choice (I love vanilla and almond)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Cream shortening and butter or margarine with a mixer. Add flavoring then add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (you may need to adjust amount of milk if it still seems to dry). Add in crushed candy canes. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerate any leftovers.

I love to use this recipe for fillings for Chocolate cakes or cupcakes, or icing cupcakes. It is also yummy on sugar cookies. You can try different flavors of cakes or cupcakes, but chocolate is my favorite. Or you can use your leftover candy canes for peppermint bark, see the previous post.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and your New Year is off to a good start :)
I wanted to share with you a family favorite at our house during the holidays. And this treat just so happens to be SUPER EASY! And super yummy of course. My kids are the ones who make this at our house now.

Peppermint Bark

1 box of candy canes (8-10 count)
1 bag of white Wilton Candy Melts 

Remove candy canes from wrappers. Place candy canes in a ziploc bag and zip shut. Crush up candy canes by hitting them with a wooden spoon or similar object. (This is the most fun part, you can get out some holiday stress while doing it)

Place candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. When chocolate is all melted add candy canes and stir. Pour mixture out on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and spread around and smooth mixture out until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cool completely then break into pieces and ENJOY!
Everyone loves that taste of cream cheese icing, but everyone knows is is too soft to use for most cake decorating. So what do you do when you want to decorate or even make icing roses in a cream cheese icing? You use a Decorator Cream Cheese Icing. This cream cheese icing has shortening added to it to help stabilize the icing so you can pipe borders, flowers and other decorations. I like to use this icing to pipe on top of cupcakes; it holds its shape really well. 
Decorator Cream Cheese Icing:

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
6-8 c. powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and shortening. Add in vanilla and salt and cream some more. Mix in powdered sugar to desired consistency (6 cups for thinner to ice a cake with, 8 cups for stiffer for decorations. I do a medium consistency for the cupcakes).

Variation: I like to add about 1 T. of orange zest for an orange cream cheese. It is great for carrot cakes.
Every year I like to make a treat for my husband's work for Halloween. So, I thought I would share with you one of the favorites, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream. One of the best things about these tasty little cupcakes is that they make your house smell sooooooo good when baking. I wish I had them in a scented candle, so I could enjoy the smell everyday. Because even though I like to bake, I don't want to bake the same thing everyday :) 
Pumpkin Cupcakes:
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 c. water
2 T. vegetable oil
3 eggs
3/4 c canned pumpkin

Combine cake mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add water and eggs; beat with a mixer for 2 minutes, add pumpkin; mix until well blended. Spoon mixture into lined cupcake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Maple Buttercream:
6 T. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
3-4 T. milk
1 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth with a mixer. Ice cooled cupcakes.

Note: The toppers on these cupcakes are simply piped out of Wilton Candy Melts. They make a super yummy topper for a cupcake.

I hope you all have a fun and enjoyable Halloween, and stay safe!
Everyone out there has a s'more cupcake recipe. Well, I thought I would share with you one that I came up with and like. I only like cupcakes with a filling, so my recipe has a marshmallow cream filling and is then topped with a chocolate ganache. Soooo good. Try out the recipe and let me know what you think.
S'mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust:
10 graham crackers, crushed
1/4 c. butter, melted

Combine graham crackers and butter. Press mixture into cupcake papers. Bake 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool completely.
Chocolate Cupcake:
1 box Devils Food chocolate cake mix
1 box (4 oz.) chocolate pudding
1 c. chocolate chips

Prepare cake mix according to box instructions adding in the box of pudding. Fold in the chocolate chips to cake batter. Pour batter on top of prepared graham cracker crusts, only filling liners 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely.

Marshmallow filling:
3 T. butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. marshmallow creme
1 T. milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix at medium speed with mixer until all ingredients are combined. Fit a pastry bag with a tip 12. Fill the pastry bag with filling, insert into top of cupcake and gently squeeze to fill your cupcake.

Chocolate ganache: 
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
8 oz. heavy whipping cream

Place heavy whipping cream in a small sauce pan on medium heat, once cream starts to come to a boil remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and all is combined in a rich chocolate color. Dip the top of a filled cupcakes into the ganache. Set aside and let ganache cool completely. Then enjoy!
Absolutely, you can have cake for breakfast. Especially when it is an Apple Spice Cake. Anytime I make this cake it never lasts more than two days. Note that this is not a cake that can be decorated, mainly because you won't want to wait that long to taste it :) I have even modified my original recipe to make it a little more healthy for ya too. Perhaps try making it for breakfast this weekend.
Apple Spice Cake
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. sucanat evaporated cane juice sugar 
(Using the sucanat cuts down on the amount of refined sugar, however you can all regular white sugar if you would like. You can find sucanat at health food stores, like Whole Foods.) 
1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. low fat sour cream
2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour (you can use all regular flour if you would like)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. chopped apples (about 2 large)

Spice mixture:
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. clove
1/4 c. sugar

In a mixer, beat sugars, margarine or butter, vanilla, and sour cream until well blended. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat at low speed until well blended.

Combine the spice mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of spice mixture to chopped apples and toss to coat. Fold apples into batter. Pour into a greases baking dish and sprinkle with remaining spice mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until the cake is done in the center and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool on wire rack. Then ENJOY!