cranberry bliss bars

it was an all-starbucks weekend when my mom was in town to help dog-sit my dog nephew rocco and house-sit for my brother while he, kari, and bode were out of town.  things started off with a couple of post-workout pumpkin spice lattes on saturday and continued into that evening when we tried out this copy-cat recipe to make our very own cranberry bliss bars.  they are mom’s favorites during the holiday season, and since they aren’t out just yet for purchase at your local starbucks cafe, we decided we would make our own!

can’t you just hear the Christmas tunes on your radio now?

my mom, the expert on how a cranberry bliss bar should taste, tried them for breakfast this morning and said they were divine.  i bit into a forkful myself and declared the same, even though i’ve never actually had one from a starbucks store!  the chocolate chip chunks combined with the cream cheese frosting and chopped craisins make for a delicious, rich bite that pairs perfectly with some fresh fruit and a steaming cup of coffee.  our only tweaks to the recipe?  more craisins in the batter and some orange zest in the frosting.  oh yes, that is exactly how i will make them next time, and i’m sure that will not be long from now.  🙂  the seasons are changing, and we are ready for all the holiday-themed treats we can get!

breakfast of champions.

bon glaze – buckhead, ga

20161001_191805

yesterday morning phillip and i opened the windows in the condo to let in the newly arrived fresh autumn air and then i hustled out the door for a couple errands.  after dropping off the dry cleaning, i crossed roswell to try out bon glaze, a darling donut walk-up just up the street from us here in buckhead.

their sign went up several months ago, and within the past couple of weeks they celebrated that they are now open for business.  i pass by bon glaze every day i drive to work, so you can imagine i was intrigued by the name and also their slogan:  doughnuts – bacon – coffee.  once i saw that they were open at last, i knew i needed to check it out.

first, bon glaze is not a sit-down kind of place.  it’s just like a street vendor you might find in a big city:  you walk up, order, and await your scrumptious food to be prepared and delivered.  perhaps if it’s possible they can install some benches around the area so that folks are invited to have a coffee and a donut, chat it up with friends, and then order more donuts.  i mean, i’m just saying…

anyway!  it’s a good thing i got there when i did because after i ordered folks came flocking as though a beacon from atop the store was beckoning them to come eat.  i mentioned to the cashier that it was my first time at bon glaze, and i was grateful that his cheery demeanor was more than happy to make some recommendations.

wanting to go for a combination of sweet and savory, i ordered the breakfast sandwich, a blueberry sour cream cake donut, a classic vanilla bean glazed donut, and the boston cream.  do be advised that the breakfast sandwich and waffles (yes, they have waffles) are made-to-order, so you can easily devour one or two of the other donuts while you wait or even order more.  i think these guys know what they’re doing. 😉

anyway, i managed to keep my hungry paws off the donuts until i made it back home to share them with phillip.  we first tried the breakfast sandwich since it had a warm egg, bacon, and cheese between two halves of a classic glazed donut.  the sweet icing from the donut with the salty bacon and melty cheese made for a fabulous combination.  although i wanted more, i’m glad i only had half because there was more to enjoy.

20161001_094803

among the remaining three, each of them was indulgent and sinful in their own way.  the blueberry sour cream was flavorful and perfectly cooked – not too overdone and not too sweet.  i would gladly order this customer favorite again.  the vanilla bean glazed was outstanding.  it melted in my mouth with each bite and certainly sets the standard for a traditional glazed donut.  as for the boston cream?  well, let’s just say eating one of these could be your dessert.  the chocolate is rich and the donut, again, perfectly cooked.  however, phillip and i both agreed it needed a touch more cream on the inside.

20161001_094806

even though donuts don’t tend to be my breakfast food of choice, i would gladly go to bon glaze again for a sweet treat.  it’s close by, the donuts are handmade, and the quality of their product is undeniable.  each of the donuts we had this weekend i would certainly order again, but you can bet i’d be more than happy to try some of the bon bons, the espresso cream donut, or the chocolate-glazed bacon next time.  if you find yourself in the buckhead area and have a sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied, stop on by bon glaze and treat yo’self!

20161001_094824

chocolate sheet cake

chocolate cake

folks, this recipe comes to you straight from the pioneer woman.  i made this classic chocolate sheet cake this past weekend for mother’s day, and i think it’s safe to say that our mothers and everyone else partaking in the celebration very much enjoyed a slice.  this cake is decadent yet somehow not too sweet.  be warned, though, that a small piece will do you just fine, especially if you top it with some vanilla ice cream.  noms!

the sprinkles were a recommendation from milo, and someone even commented that the cake reminded them of those irresistible little debbie treats called cosmic brownies.  i think i can safely put them both in the ‘i only need one but will eat the whole box/pan’ category.

da vinci’s donuts – sandy springs

i was on my way to work this morning and had every intention to make a quick stop and grab a bagel to eat for breakfast.  it was after i accidentally passed the light to go to panera bread, though, that i had to be spontaneous and make a change in plan.  as i leisurely cruised up roswell, it dawned on me that there is a donut place right on the way to the office, and i hadn’t yet tried it.  even better, i had a coupon!  well, that made the decision easy!

i took a left off glenridge, swung into a parking spot, and opened the door to the sandy springs location of da vinci’s donuts.  with that first step, i was in donut heaven.  the donut smell was so authentic that i felt like i had been transported to another place.  i don’t know where exactly, but i imagine it’s a place filled with puppies and chaise lounges and lots of windows and donuts stacked on platters on every surface you can see.  sure, we’ll call that donut heaven!

anyway, the whole idea here at da vinci’s is to make a really great donut that you can top yourself or enjoy with one of their specialty creations.  their cake-like donut is a great base for whatever you’re going to put on it.  and one of the best parts?  they’re small!  i know, a small donut?  how can that be a good thing?  well, when you’re eating it with chocolate icing or maple bacon, less is more.  and since i had a coupon, i was ready to try nearly every option they put in front of me.

i quickly decided on the da vinci’s dozen, 16 donuts placed in a donut box that actually looks quite similar to another type of food delivery box.  interesting…

with so many to select, i was able to practically get one of each specialty flavor they had out that morning.  how nice that it worked out that way!  i couldn’t help but smile as i looked at those cheery donuts peeking back at me.  almost too cute to consume!  almost.

when i got to the office, i immediately dug in, as i was pretty hungry.  i chose to go with the cinnamon and chocolate glaze on my first round.  the first thing you’re going to notice about any of their donuts is how light they are.  this place has cake donut making down to a science, and you may come to believe they have that recipe just about perfect.  the cinnamon donut was soft and scrumptious and not too sweet.

20160505_082950

the chocolate glaze, though, for me personally was a step above the cinnamon.  the chocolate glaze is the perfect consistency for this little donut, not overpowering.  after the three bites it took me to finish it off, i concluded that their version represents the quintessential chocolate glaze donut.  how’s that for a review!

20160505_090020

and since there were a few donuts left in the box, i decided a third mini donut couldn’t hurt.  this one was by far my favorite, the strawberry shortcake.  i mean, come on!  how precious is this little cutie pie!  the smell alone was enough to make me drool.

20160505_103647

if you feel your sweet tooth itching for satisfaction down here in the atlanta area, i highly recommend you take a chance on da vinci’s donuts.  if these pictures and adjectives aren’t enough to convince you, here’s the last argument i’ll make:  they also serve jittery joe’s coffee!  noms!

sublime doughnuts – atlanta, ga

so, i’ve got a mound of vacation days to use before the new year rolls around, so i recently took a week day off from work to let the computer and myself kick back and relax.  i thoroughly enjoy taking time off during the week in my town because it gives me a chance to explore and do things that don’t fit into my weekend schedule.

on the slate that day was a visit to my sister-in-law’s office, a hydra facial at phillip’s mom’s office, and then lunch with my man.  despite the strong desire to sleep in, i got my morning started so as not to waste the day.

with a little time to kill before meeting up with kari, a brilliant idea hit me like a ton of bricks:  get a quick bite at sublime doughnuts!  my dad had seriously told me about this place years ago, and my first visit was long overdue.  google maps directed me to 10th and hemphill, and after a few missed turns, i found a parking spot just for the kessie girl.

i had no idea what to expect but was delightfully surprised as i entered.  i think the word to describe it all would be happy.  the upholstered chairs and cheery colors are quite welcoming, and the staff reflected the atmosphere.  the ladies at the counter were helpful and pleasant and ready to answer my many questions.  they gave me the quick run-down of the selection, especially those that would travel well (i was going to birmingham that night with phillip to visit my parents and planned to bring a few back for them).  i picked out half a dozen with their help and showed myself to a table.

in a spot across from me was an employee who i assumed had to be the manager.  we chatted for a few minutes before he hopped up to help with the growing line of loyal (and maybe new) patrons.  if i’d had a bit more time to spare, i surely would have talked off his ear.  i don’t at all doubt he would have been fun to interview.  next time!

with a sweet tooth like mine, i knew something chocolate-y was in order, so i bit into one of the a-town creams.  every bite of this doughnut was perfectly balanced, from the flavorful dough to the subtle chocolate to the rich and decadent cream filling.  despite how i’m describing it, you should know that it isn’t at all too sweet.

i easily could have had another, but i refrained.  i didn’t want these strangers thinking i was a total junk food addict.  speaking of junk food, did you ever read the berenstain bears as a child?  i vividly remember the one titled junk food, the words in big, bulbous purple letters on the yellow cover as papa bear, brother bear, and sister bear gorged themselves on candies and chips.  oh, and we cannot forget mama bear, looking on in disdain and disgust.  does it mean something that i so clearly recall this specific adventure of the bear family?  probably so, but until those subconscious realizations surface, i’ll obliviously carry on in life.  join me, won’t you?

bear family

as i headed out, i thanked the manager kindly for the exceptional service and delectable treats.  “you’ve made the start of my day a great one,” i said.

“well,” he replied, “it’s all about spreading the doughnut love.”

nicely put!

the next day in birmingham we had the rest of the half dozen for breakfast.  mm, nutritious!  mom and dad loved the caramel apple fritter.  i had a nibble of the orange dream star that was utterly divine, and phillip practically was doing backflips after enjoying the reese’s peanut butter cup doughnut.

IMG_20151015_082747

all in all, i’m extremely glad i finally made a visit to sublime doughnuts.  the place and its staff are so genuine that you’ll have a hard time walking out of there without a smile on your face.  🙂

IMG_20151015_082608

turtle pretzels

ladies and gentlemen, i present to you the easiest treat ever made by man:  turtle pretzels!  okay, i don’t think they’re really called turtle pretzels, but they’re something i made last thanksgiving with the family, and i never really got the name.  so!  turtle pretzels they will be!

this recipe is so stinkin’ easy that i am not even going to break it down into ingredients and directions.  you can literally read the instructions here and be good to go!

preheat your oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit.

grab a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.  if you ran out of parchment paper like i did, use tin foil instead.  place those window pane pretzels on there, just a little spaced out.

pretzels

next, violently tear open a bag of rolos.  i use the word violently because when i cut and ripped mine open, i had rolos everywhere.  it was like an early rolo Christmas just for my tiny kitchen and me.  then, because you don’t want to look too much like a mess, place them all next to the bag nicely as if they had just come out that way.

rolo bag

unwrap those little candies and place one atop each pretzel.

pop the cookie sheet into the oven for two minutes.  only two minutes, kelsey?  doesn’t that seem a little short?  well, yes, in the grand scheme of things two minutes is not very long at all, and you don’t need a long time with these little guys.  they just need to warm enough so that we can smash them down, which we’ll do in just a moment, if you’ll be patient.

after those long and excruciating two minutes are up, pull the cookie sheet out and press a pecan half down on top of each rolo.  the reason you only need two minutes is because if you go any longer, all that caramel surprise inside the rolo will squirt right out, and that’s not what we want.

let the treats cool and harden and then store them in an airtight container.  then take them to your company holiday party and watch them get scarfed up by all your ravenous coworkers who cannot get enough of your baking.  happy holidays!

chocolate and more chocolate

chocolate

i was so kindly reminded recently that it had been a while since i had brought a homemade treat into the office for everyone.  well, way to be subtle…ha.  anyway, i did admit i hadn’t baked in a while, so i made these simple treats for this ravenous crowd:  life by chocolate cupcakes.  they’re so tasty and easy that you need to give them a try yourself!  click on for the recipe.

Continue reading