Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

There are some things in the world that I say the darker the better. Topping the list of those things are coffee and chocolate. A piece of dark chocolate is one of the most sinfully delicious things around – even better when it is paired with a cup of espresso.

So, with that in mind, I have a real treat for you lovers of all things dark and rich. Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. A rich, dark cupcake base full of chocolate and coffee and topped off with a creamy, sweet caramel frosting. They are incredible!

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Soft White Sandwich Bread

We go through a lot of bread at our house. My husband likes sandwiches for lunch, and honestly, there are very few meals I don’t think can be improved by a slice of bread.

I bake fresh loaves of French bread (try my recipe here!) a few times a month to go with our meals. Husband loves it, and we can finish off a loaf in a matter of days. It’s a fraction of the cost, has less preservatives and ingredients, and really, it tastes amazing.

Since that has gone over so well, Husband issued a challenge to me – he wanted to stop buying sliced sandwich bread, but only if I could find a good recipe.

I can’t say no to a baking challenge so I hopped on to Amazon.com and ordered a Pullman Loaf Pan and started scouring the web for the perfect sandwich bread. It’s been a comedy of errors so far – some were too dense, too crispy on the outside, or the flavor was just wrong.

Finally, after much tweaking, I found THE sandwich bread recipe. It’s soft and fluffy on the inside, and has a perfectly light crunchy crust. It slices like a dream and makes great toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.

The best part? It costs less than a dollar per loaf to make your own. That’s so much better than the $2, $3, and sometimes even $4.00 loaves at the store.

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Flawless French Bread

My husband made a joke once that my bread cookbooks were just like porn for me. It was a silly joke, and I rolled my eyes at him, but he’s right; there are few things in this world I love more than bread. Store bought bread, bakery loaves, homemade loaves – if you can slice it and put butter on it, I’m a fan.

We got a bread machine and a lovely bread stone and loaf pan for our wedding, so I’ve really enjoyed expanding my repertoire of bread recipes. A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at french bread with our new bread stone. I get so frustrated with myself when a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly the way I want it to the first time, so I made sure to pick an easy one. Thankfully, I found an amazing one from Julie at My Mundane and Miraculous Life. Her Easy Peasy French Bread has a mere four ingredients and is miraculously 😉 good.

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25 Amazing Christmas Cookie Recipes

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you’re enjoying a holiday full of food, friends, family, and joy.

I always look forward to my Christmas baking, especially the cookies. Each year, I make some traditional Italian cookies like Pizzelles, and of course, sugar cookies. But I always try something new and fun as well. I tried a lot of these recipes over the past year and they’re absolutely delicious. They would be a welcome addition to any Christmas dinner or cookie swap.

There are flavors for everyone – coffee, peppermint, pumpkin, and so much more.

In no particular order, here are my favorite 25 cookie recipes from this year.

All photographs are property of their respective bloggers.

25 . Cookie Dough Ritz Crackers from Crazy for Crust

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Recipe Here

24. Apricot Oatmeal Cookies from Amy’s Healthy Baking

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Recipe Here

23. The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever from In Katrina’s Kitchen

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Recipe Here

22. Cinnamon Marscapone Cut Out Cookies from Bakeaholic Mama

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Recipe Here

21. Toffee Crunch Chocolate Cookies from Roxana’s Home Baking

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Recipe Here

20. Espresso Snickerdoodles from Lemons for Lulu 

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Recipe Here

19. Italian Ricotta Cookies from Love Bakes Good Cakes

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Recipe Here

18. Hot Buttered Rum Cookies from Babble

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Recipe Here

17. Red Velvet Cream Cheese Thumbprints from Something Swanky 

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Recipe Here

16. Snowflake Filled Snowman Cookies from Hungry Happening

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Recipe Here

15. Peppermint Shortbread from Mom on Timeout

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Recipe Here

14. Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies from Handle the Heat

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Recipe Here

13. Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting from Cooking Classy

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Recipe Here

12. Vanilla Bean Christmas Sugar Cookies from Lauren’s Latest

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Recipe Here

11. Cranberry Pecan Pie Crust Cookies from Home is Where the Boat Is

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Recipe Here

10. Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Inside Bru Crew Life

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Recipe Here

9. Butter Almond Meltaway Cookies from Back for Seconds

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Recipe Here

8. Penguin Cookies from Delightful E Made 

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Recipe Here

7. New York Cheesecake Cookies from KitchMe

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Recipe Here

6. Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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Recipe Here

5. Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies from Averie Cooks

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Recipe Here

4. S’mores Cookies from Baker Girl 

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Recipe Here

3. Triple Chip Pudding Cookies from What’s Cooking Love

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Recipe Here

2. Brownie Cookies from It Bakes Me Happy

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Recipe Here

1. Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Creme Cookies from Bakers Royale

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Recipe Here

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I did!

Featured Friends: Raia’s Recipes

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Raia is the stay-at-home-mom of four crazy kids who loves to create simple and healthy recipes. After finding out she was gluten and egg intolerant in 2010 she started her recipe blog to share her love of gluten-free baking (and chocolate) with others. In her spare time she enjoys doing laundry and dishes… not really.

Check out her blog, Raia’s Recipes, and follow her on Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook.

Links:

FB – http://goo.gl/Uq70Hp

Twitter – http://goo.gl/yPQm5A

Pinterest – http://goo.gl/HyO5rv

G+ – http://goo.gl/FeAJol

Blog – http://goo.gl/j9WmEZ

Would you like to be a Featured Friend here on THI? Sign up! I welcome everybody, of all blogs! 

 

Valentine’s on a Dime Part II: Valentine’s Dinner

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Valentine’s on a Dime

Part II

As it is with most holidays for me, the best part is the food. Valentine’s Day food to me means rich truffles, gooey cakes, piles of cheesy pasta, and yummy appetizers. And the occasional cocktail or glass of sparkling blush wine.

Sometimes my fiancé and I go out to a restaurant, and sometimes we stay home. This year, we’ve decided to go out to a favorite place strictly for appetizers, drinks, and dessert. This is a great way to save a few dollars – share a plate of appetizers and stick to drinks and dessert.

But I so love making delicious meals for my fiancé and I have a lot of friends who really enjoy cooking as well. I’d like to share some delicious recipes for a Valentine’s Day dinner of drinks, appetizers and desserts that will really impress your sweetie!

Drinks

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This Lava Flow drink from In The Kitchen with Jenny features coconut rum and strawberry flavor

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Feel like a sweet, bubbly drink with no guilt? Try my Skinny Punch!

Check out BuzzFeed for another 21 Pretty Pink and Red Drinks! I have my eye on the Sparkling Strawberry Sangria!

Appetizers

What’s dinner without a little something beforehand?

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This Chocolate Strawberry Cake Cheeseball (yes, you heard that right!) from Alyssa at What’s Cooking Love will seriously change your perspective!

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Buffalo Chicken plus cheese and potatoes will make anybody happy! Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins from Call Me PMC

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Buttery, Cheesy Pretzel Bites and marinara dipping sauce! I can’t wait to try these. Buttery Parmesan Pretzel Bites by Lemons for Lulu.

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A bouquet of BACON. Seriously, what says ‘love’ more than roses? Roses of BACON, that’s what. Check these Bacon Bouquets from Our Best Bites!

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Valentine’s Day is always a chilly day, so try my friend Steph’s Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Dessert

The best part of Valentine’s Day Dinner!

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This is a recipe of mine, and it’s a huge favorite in our house! Boston Cream Pie with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

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I have three words for you. Chocolate. Cookie Dough. Macaroons. Enough said. Thank you, Bakeaholic Mama!

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These heart shaped cupcakes by Persnickety Plates look amazing, and they feature my favorite brand of chocolate, Ghirardelli!

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This layered fudge featuring conversation hearts by Crazy for Crust is almost too cute to eat…almost!

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I featured one of Alyssa’s recipes above, but I couldn’t resist adding a second. Imagine an incredibly moist red velvet cake full of hot fudge, Oreos, and cream cheese frosting. I’m making one of these for my fiance to take to work this week! Try this Red Velvet Poke Cake

Happy eating and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thanks for stopping by for Valentine’s on a Dime! Please go visit all of my friends featured above! You won’t regret it!

The recipes featured belong to their respective bloggers. I only claim my own recipes as my own.

Valentine’s on a Dime!

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We all want to do something nice for those we love on Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to break the bank to do it!

Here are some great ways to treat your sweetie!

Groupon:

Groupon is the most amazing company! They offer “groupons” for certain services for a fraction of the price. You can check for special ones in your area, but there are also national deals for things like Cookie Baskets, massages, and gift baskets!

Penny Chocolate Truffles:

Who doesn’t love truffles for Valentine’s Day? But if you go and buy a big box, it can cost a LOT of money. For a mere $3.98, you can purchase the ingredients to make 36 custom truffles! That’s ELEVEN CENTS per truffle! This recipe from Kraft is great! You could add sprinkles or peppermint or fruits or whatever your sweetheart likes! Penny Chocolate Truffles

Oreo Truffles:

Here’s another variation of delicious Penny Truffles. All you need is one package of Oreos and one and a half packs of cream cheese! Smash the Oreos as fine as you can (or use a processor) and mix them with softened cream cheese. Roll them into little balls and put them in the fridge. Once they’re hard, dip them in melted chocolate. This will cost a mere $5.98 for FIFTY Oreo Truffles! That’s TWELVE cents a piece! Even better, Oreo has new delicious flavors like Cookie Dough and Krispy Mallow Treats, and old favorites like Golden and Birthday Cake!

Printable Buzzfeed Coupons:

I love Buzzfeed, and they are offering a really cute set of printable love coupons “That You Would Actually Want to Receive!” Or even better, make your own! All you need is some paper and a little creativity!

Store Gifts: 

If you still want to get them something from a store, use the amazing website Retail Me Not! They provide coupon codes for ALL your favorite stores and restaurants! Get them something they really want, and save a few dollars!

Dinner:

Want to make your sweetheart a great Valentine’s Dinner at home? Stay tuned for Part II of this post, featuring recipes from myself and some of my friends! You won’t want to miss this!