Real Life Pins

Salt Dough Handprint Christmas Ornaments

You have to admit, if you could freeze time and hold on to those tiny little squishy baby hands forever, you would. So why not create a keepsake that allows you to see them and hold on to those memories year after year? I wish I had done this when Marielle was a newborn…those little tiny fingers were one of my most favorite things about her. But, it’s a great memory for her one year milestone as well. It’s really easy to create these. All you need is salt, flour, water, a straw, ribbon and mini cookie cutters (whatever shape you like) and sand paper or a nail file. I happen to have a little heart shaped cookie cutter so I used that.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Mix Together…

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

Knead the dough until the ingredient are combined and you have a slightly sticky, but not crumbly, dough. Roll dough out onto a floured surface and use a large biscuit cutter or small glass bowl to cut a circle in the dough.

Place your child’s hand in the center of the circle and press down. Make sure you press down on each finger and palm so that you get a good imprint. Mine were a bit shallow, but you can still see it.

Using a drinking straw, punch two holes in the top of the circle for ribbon.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out a few shapes from the remaining dough, and punch a hole in the top of those as well.

Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake for 3-4 hours, or until the ornaments are hardened.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Using a fine grain sandpaper or nail file, smooth out any rough edges around the ornament.

Thread your ribbon and year charm through the ornament, tie a bow, and you’re finished! You can choose to seal or paint the ornament if you like. Sealing is quite easy, simple dilute Elmer’s glue with a little water and brush on. I’m choosing to leave mine as is…mostly because we made these two days before Christmas and I wasn’t about to hit the craft stores…or any store for that matter! While mine do not look like the ones on Pinterest, it was still a fun activity and created a wonderful memory. Merry Christmas!

Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments

Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Egg Roll Apple Pies with Nutmeg Whip Cream

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

I realize I’m a little late in finally posting this…and the reason it’s so late is because I thought I already did! But there it was in my draft folder, just waiting to take its place on my blog. I made these little delights last fall and apparently never got around to sharing it with the rest of you, and now, they are all over Pinterest. Oh well.

I’m sure by now, you’re aware of the fact that you can put pretty much anything in an egg roll wrapper…from spinach and feta, to marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni. Just mix up your favorite combination, roll it up and bake it in the oven. Since one of my most favorite treats in the whole world is apple pie, why not make little dunkable apple pies in an egg roll? It’s as easy as it looks and it tastes delicious. You can do the same with cherry pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, peach cobbler…you name it, you can roll it up in an egg roll!

I’m pretty picky when it comes to apple pie however. Most of them are too gooey, too sugary and too cinnamony. My mom’s apple pie recipe is in my opinion, the best, but I know I’m probably biased. So feel free to add as much sugar and cinnamon to your apples as you please.


  • Egg Roll Wrappers (The number needed depends on how full you fill your wrappers) But, about 12-14 should do.
  • 6-7 Apples (Granny Smith, Haralson, anything tart and crisp) peeled, cored and chopped into mini cubes
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1-2 T cold butter cut into tiny pieces
  • Milk
  • 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Dash of nutmeg


  1. Core and chop your apples into mini cubes and place into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and combine with the apples. Mix until well combined. Here is where you can adjust your spices because also depending on the size of your apples you may need more or less.
  3. Lay out your egg roll wrapper onto your counter or cutting board. Brush all sides of the wrapper with milk. Place 3-4 tablespoons of the apple filling in the middle of the bottom section of the wrapper. Place a couple dabs of butter on top of the apples.
  4. Fold the left side and the right side over the apple mixture as shown in the photo, and then fold the bottom section over next. Then roll up until completely sealed.
  5. Brush the tops of the egg roll pie with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. You may need to adjust your baking time depending on the size of your rolls.
  7. In a medium bowl, beat a half pint of heavy whipping cream with a dash of powdered sugar and nutmeg until firm. Serve with the warm apple pie egg rolls.

apple pie egg rolls 1apple pie egg roll 2apple pie egg rolls baking sheetDSC00272

Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake

It’s springtime (well, kind of…) here in Minneapolis. The sun is bright, the sky is blue, and it’s a balmy 45 degrees 🙂 The funny thing about Minnesotans is that when it’s 45 degrees in the fall, we turn up the heat, get out the sweaters and start hibernating for the winter. When it’s 45 degrees in the spring, we open the windows, put down the convertible top, and start thinking about planting our gardens. I love spring. I’m ready to put away my recipes for heavy soups and comfort foods, and bring out the fresh veggies, citrus fruits and bright, fresh flavors. This year for Easter, I made an incredibly decadent, fresh, lemony layer cake, constructed of two layers of Meyer lemon cake and one layer of creamy cheesecake, covered in Meyer Lemon cream cheese frosting. Where did I find this recipe? Pinterest of course!

This dessert is made with Meyer Lemons. What exactly are Meyer Lemons? They are a soft skinned cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. The hint of orange gives these delicate lemons a mild flavor, perfect for flavoring this dessert. They look pretty too. I almost missed them at my grocery store because they had taken on a beautiful light orange hue instead of bright yellow.

The recipe is long, and pretty involved, but worth every minute spent! Out of courtesy to the original recipe developer, I’m going to link to the original recipe on Recipe Girl’s blog here: Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake. Thank you Recipe Girl for the AMAZING recipe! Tiffany took photos as I baked this amazing cake. It was definitely a favorite and I will be making it again in the future!

Using the cheesecake and cake layer theme, there are so many variations to this particular cake.


  • Raspberry puree as the filling in between the layers as opposed to frosting
  • Lemon cheesecake and chocolate cake layers
  • Plain cheesecake and red velvet cake layers
  • Plain cheesecake, yellow cake layers with lemon curd filling
  • Chocolate chip cheesecake with chocolate cake layers and dark chocolate ganache, raspberry garnish
Meyer Lemon Cake 1
Mixing up the dry ingredients
Zesting the Meyer Lemons
Zesting the Meyer Lemons
Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
The recipe uses Sprite...pretty sure this is a secret key ingredient!
The recipe uses Sprite…pretty sure this is a secret key ingredient!
I use a kitchen scale to make sure my cake layers are perfectly even.
I use a kitchen scale to make sure my cake layers are perfectly even.
Cutting the cheesecake layer so that it will sit even with the other two layers.
Cutting the cheesecake layer so that it will sit even with the other two layers.
Assembling the cake!
Assembling the cake!

Meyer Lemon Cake

The Finished Product!
The Finished Product!
I found this cute little mini bunting cake decoration on Zulily...cute huh :)
I found this cute little mini bunting cake decoration on Zulily…cute huh?
I decorated the cake using blueberries around the bottom, and raspberry almond silver flowers and slivered Meyer Lemon peels.
I decorated the cake using blueberries around the bottom, and raspberry almond silver flowers and slivered Meyer Lemon peels.
Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Real Life Pins: Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

It never fails. Every single time we buy bananas, we buy too many. We always say we will eat them before they go bad, but unfortunately for me, I pretty much like bananas that are still slightly green..and then anything after that is overripe. Brendan simple forgets about them, so we’re always left with tons of bananas left over on the counter. I was getting tired of making banana bread and wanted to find something a little more interesting to use up our old bananas. I found (on Pinterest of Course) this yummy recipe for Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting. They had me at brown butter frosting…anything with brown butter is simply amazing so I knew I had to try these. These taste best warm out of the oven…but I refrigerated them for about a week and they were still delightful. The key to these is using lots of super ripe bananas…I used 4 and could have even used 5.

Recipe Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

Ingredients for Bars

  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Brown Butter Frosting:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease and flour 9×13 glass baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy.  Blend in bananas and vanilla extract.  Add flour, baking soda, salt, and blend for 1 minute.  Stir in walnuts.
  4. Spread batter evenly into pan.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. For the frosting, heat butter in a large heavy saucepan (preferably a le creuset type pan) over medium heat until boiling.  Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately. You will see the butter start to form little brown bits at the bottom of the pan, this is when you should remove it from the heat.
  6. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk directly into the pan. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting).
  7. Once the bars have cooled slightly, spread the frosting over the bars.


Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Poulet a la Moutarde (Chicken with Mustard Sauce)

My husband LOVES mustard. But not just any mustard, Dijon mustard from France, and only from France. I have tried to buy every Dijon mustard on the shelf and there isn’t one that is spicy enough for him. We were in Paris a few months back having dinner with some friends of ours who live there. They happen to have a jar of mustard that Brendan loved…so what did they do? They packed it up and sent it home with us. Crazy thing is, this mustard was just your basic mustard from the grocery store, but it was 100 times better than anything we had here. So now that we’re home and have this huge jar of spicy mustard, I had to find things to make with it! I stumbled across this super simple, absolutely fabulous recipe from none other than Martha Stewart of course, for a chicken with mustard cream sauce. It’s so good…so easy, and is helping us make our way through the jar! I usually double this recipe to make extra sauce because one can NEVER have too much sauce. You can also play with the amount of mustard you use. My husband requested more than double the amount 🙂 Did I mention this only uses ONE pan? Perfection. Oh one more thing…I obviously found this on Pinterest.


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (Please don’t substitute half and half or milk…you will regret it)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon or oregano. I used oregano because I love it, but you can use either.


  1. In a large skillet, add olive oil and preheat over medium-high heat.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  3. Add chicken to skillet and saute until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, turning once.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add chicken broth into hot skillet.
  5. Whisk in the cream, mustard and tarragon or oregano.
  6. Cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes until sauce is thickened.
  7. I added the chicken to the skillet and continued to cook for another 2 minutes just to submerge that chicken in the sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, Everyday Food

Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Real Life Pins: Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies

I’ve recently added a new category to my blog, Real Life Pins. I’m sure you are all fully aware that I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. However, I also spend a lot of time actually trying the things I find on Pinterest, especially recipes and household ideas. Have you had these things? My husband is obsessed with Lofthouse cookies. Our local grocery store also makes a version of these that are pretty amazing…soft, chewy, sweet and absolutely addicting. And while it would be impossible to replicate these cookies (I’m not a fan of preservatives) and I love a good buttercream frosting, these are still really good. Soft, chewy and the perfect treat. I decided to make these for my husband who has spent the past week sanding our front porch floor getting it all ready for me to enjoy. So while he was outside power sanding away, I stayed inside the air conditioning on this 95 degree day and baked him a special thank you treat. I found this recipe on Pinterest and to be honest, I have no idea who to credit as I’ve seen the same recipe on several blogs with no links to an original creator. So, if you happen to know the original creator, let me know 🙂 I also cut the recipe in half…there is no reason why we would need 48 cookies in this house…

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup light sour cream

Buttercream Frosting (You can also use a different type of frosting if you prefer)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream (to make it easy to spread)


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.

3. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be a little sticky! Don’t add more flour. Divide dough into two sections. Flatten into rectangles about 1½ inches thick, then wrap with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper, silpats or PAM spray.

5. Lightly flour the countertop or pastry mat and the top of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes. In my opinion, it’s okay to take these out a tad early… Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cook cookies completely before frosting.

6. To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in powdered sugar.  Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired, and beat until combined.

7. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles. I used a pastry bag and large round pastry tip to apply my frosting. Using an offset spatula works as well…add lots of sprinkles, and enjoy!