Project 365- Week One {2013}

Are you guys used to writing 2013 yet? I, for sure, am not. Where did this past year go? I have had a great year! Here are some highlights:

I turned 18

family

Graduated high school

- Went to Maine for vacation with my family

road trip

- Did a bunch of amazing photo sessions including shooting my first weddings

- Went skydiving

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- Started college

- Celebrated another great Christmas

christmas tree 1

And lots more!

For Christmas this year I got the new iPod touch, which I’m super excited about because I can now take my own Instagram photos all the time (before I had to borrow my dad’s iPhone). I have decided to do a Project 365 with Instagram photos- I think it will be an awesome way to document my year and I’m really excited about it!

For my Project 365, I am using Instagram to take the photo and am using an app called Collect to keep track of all the photos. The Collect app is great because it will send you a reminder to take your photo, you have a calendar of the month and you put the photo in each day (which looks cool) and you can add a description that details whatever you did that day. Super fun! I’m not doing a themed Project 365, I’m just taking a photo that describes part of the day. Here are my photos from this week, and follow me at amiliaphotography :)

1.1.13- Sleeping Fenway

1.1.131.2.13- Family Photo Shoot

1.2.131.3.13- Christmas Lights 

1.3.131.4.13- Photo Session with my Sister

1.4.131.5.13- The Loveless Cafe

1.5.13

1.6.13- Sisters

1.6.13

Stay tuned for more Project 365 posts in the following weeks :) And for some tasty recipes!

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Healthy Recipe Ideas

If you’ve spent any time at all on this blog, you may have noticed that most of the recipes I post are of the…unhealthy variety ;) I love baking somewhat crazy and delicious desserts. But I have seen a HUGE spike of people searching the blog for my healthier recipes (I’m assuming with the new year’s resolutions coming in) so I thought I would list some of my healthier recipes in one post so it would be more convenient for you guys!

Disclaimer: I’m a fan of eating healthy, but I also believe that fad diets and restrictive diets are pointless. Eating healthy is a day-to-day challenge and some days I do well and some days I don’t. But if you try telling yourself that you’re never going to eat a dessert again, it generally won’t work out well. I hope we can all do better at striving for balance, which means checking out these healthier recipes but also indulging a few times a week :)

*Anything labeled “Daniel Fast” is Vegetarian, Vegan, and Daniel-Fast approved* 

Also, for those of you interested in the Daniel Fast, I answered a lot of questions about it in THIS post :)

Healthy Breakfast and Snacks:

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I love smoothies! They are so easy to make and very customizable. Depending on what you put in them, they can provide you with fruit, dairy, and protein to kick-start your day! I usually try to add some sort of fruit, yogurt or milk, and peanut butter :)

Daniel Fast Smoothies

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Smoothie

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I also love breads and muffins! Here are two recipes that I have adjusted to make them much lighter than the usual muffin/quick-bread, but you really cannot tell the difference between these and their less-healthy counterparts.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Healthier Banana Bread

Zucchini Bread

Healthy Lunch and Dinner:

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These recipes are all ones that I love and think taste really good. I recently made Hot Spinach Dip again and was reminded of how good it is! And the Daniel-Fast approved Potato Wedges and Veggies is one of my all-time favorite meals!

How to Make White Rice

Salad with Maple Mustard Chicken Tenders

Hot Spinach Dip

Daniel Fast Chile

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Potato Wedges and Veggies

Daniel Fast Lettuce Wraps

Daniel Fast Taco Salad <- another really great one!

Daniel Fast Vegetable Soup

Desserts:

Cookie Dough Balls

Gigantic Peanut Butter Candy Cookie <- I included this one because it makes one cookie which lets you have dessert without too many leftovers!

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Top 10 Recipes of 2012

I can’t believe it is actually 2013. I will write another post reflecting back on this past year (and share some photos from my fun New Year’s Eve), but for now, here’s a look at the top 10 most popular recipes from 2012 :) Enjoy and happy baking!

1. Mini Peanut Butter and Nutella Cheesecakes- For two years in a row these delicious mini cheesecakes have been number one! I made both a peanut butter and nutella variety, and they were both delicious. These cheesecakes are not only tasty, but they look so cute they are sure to impress anyone!

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2. Nutella Swirl Brownie Bites- My sister still talks about these and wants me to make them again. The recipe is incredibly simple and results in small, amazingly fudgy, and nutella-filled brownies.

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3. Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting- Usually I’m a chocolate girl, but these Vanilla cupcakes were so good! I also had a lot of fun piping on the frosting and I think they turned out so cute :)

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4. Gooey, Delicious, Incredible S’mores Bars- These might actually be number one in my book! They are so gooey, sweet, buttery, and delicious. Possibly one of the best things I have ever made :)

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5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies- These cookies intrigued me from the moment I saw them! I think the best part of making chocolate chip cookies is eating the raw dough, and these cookies let me eat cookies and dough all in one! Brilliant!

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6. Healthier Banana Bread- This Banana bread tastes just as good as my non-lightened-up favorite. A delicious, flavorful, and healthy banana bread is always wonderful to have around the house!

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7. Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel Truffles- This is a combination of all my favorite foods! Pretzel, peanut butter, and chocolate :)

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Honorable Mention: Felt Hairbow Tutorial- These were really #8, but since they aren’t a recipe, I won’t count them. They are a really fun craft project, though, and I often wear the bows I made :)

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8. Gooey Peanut Butter Reese’s Bars- These are at the top of my list of favorites, too, right up there with the s’mores bars. These are so gooey and so delicious!

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9. Swedish Meatballs- I’m so glad these made the top 10! Swedish meatballs are one of my favorite foods and I always love it when my mom makes them :)

meatballs web11

10. Mini Corn Dog Muffins- I have made these several times this year and my family absolutely loves them. They are so cute, tasty, and easy to make.

corn dog mm web4 copy

And, because I can’t resist, here are a few of my favorites that didn’t make the list :)

Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls- These will forever be one of my favorite foods. I would eat them everyday if I could :) I would wager that you will never have a better cinnamon roll than these.

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Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake- I may or may not have stood in the kitchen, eating piece by piece of this cake straight out of the pan ;)

Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake

Gooey Nutella Bars- These, along with the s’mores and reese’s bars, are in my top 3 favorite desserts of the year. So tasty! My kitty thought they were great, too :)

gn-bars-web2

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Appetizer Round-Up: New Year’s Ideas

I can’t believe New Years Eve is one day away! 2012 has been a really great year for me, especially the last half of the year with the start of college. I am happy to celebrate this past year and look forward to the year to come :)

My family usually does a bunch of appetizers on New Year’s eve and then we movies until midnight. This year we are going to a friend’s house for a party, so we are doing our appetizers and movies tonight. In this post I’m rounding up some of my all-time favorite appetizers!

Tonight we are making Jalapeno Popper Dip. This is one of my family’s favorite dips- it’s spicy, creamy, and crunch!

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We are also having Mini Corn Dog Muffins which are super tasty and easy to make.

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Even easier than the Mini Corn Dog Muffins is this Easy Peasy Ranch Dip. You just mix a few things together and you have a delicious dip for veggies!

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This Christmas I made Hot Spinach Dip and was reminded of how much I love it. So tasty!

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And every Thanksgiving I make this Pumpkin Pie Dip. It’s sweet which is a nice change from all the savory dips.

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These Cheeseburger Pockets are also super tasty! The filling for the rolls is so good, you could even just eat that as a dip! (Don’t judge these by the pictures, they really are yummy!)

hamburger pocketsSo there we have it! Some of my favorite appetizers. Do you have any New Year’s traditions? Do you stay in or go out?

 

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Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

lofthouse cookies web-7

Ahhh Lofthouse cookies…how I love them. They’re those cookies that they sell in grocery stores with the holiday-themed frosting. Whenever someone brings those to parties, I definitely eat my share! There’s a recipe going around that claims to be a copy-cat of the Lofthouse Sugar Cookies so I knew I had to try it and see if they lived up to their grocery store counterparts!

lofthouse cookies blog-3So what did I think? These cookies were definitely really tasty. I decided to add some maple flavoring to the frosting and I think it was a delicious contribution. I brought these cookies to a get together at a friends’ house and they were devoured! They’re easy to make and decorate and were definitely a hit. But do they taste like the Lofthouse cookies??? Well…I’m afraid not. I was a little disappointed because these don’t taste like the ones from the store. The flavor is a little different and they’re a little bit softer (which isn’t a bad thing).

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However, I definitely don’t regret making these cookies (and I don’t think my friends do either!) but I will say if you’re expecting cookies that taste exactly like Lofthouse, you might just have to go buy some from the store ;) These cookies are very delicious and easily customized for whatever holiday- you can even change up the shapes if you want.

lofthouse cookies web-8

So, I hope you enjoy these cookies and try making them, even though they aren’t identical to the grocery store ones. They’re still very good :)

Tip: These cookies do spread out so if you’re trying to make them into different shapes, I wouldn’t try anything that has a lot of detail.

Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1.5 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream

Buttercream Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract (or maple flavoring)
2 cups powdered sugar
Small pinch of salt
3 tbs. heavy cream
Sprinkles

Directions: 

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, either with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract extract and sour cream, and beat at low speed until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat at a low speed until just combined.
  4. Once the dough has come together, divide it into two parts. Flatten the dough into rectangles about an inch thick, then wrap it with plastic wrap. Put the wrapped dough into the refrigerator overnight, or for at least two hours.
  5. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  6. Lightly flour the countertop 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, until cookies are slightly golden around the edges. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cook cookies completely before frosting.
  7.  To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and vanilla extract (or maple flavoring). Slowly beat in powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. 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.
  8. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles, if desired. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container.

Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod

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