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Goodbye 2015… Hello 2016!

I’m excited to finally be able to announce… We’re moving!

we're-moving

After five fabulous years living in Germany and traveling around Europe, it’s finally time for our family to say goodbye.  Dave has been reassigned to Fort Belvoir, Virginia with the US Army and we will be moving there late January 2016.

We’ve already been offered a house at Fort Belvoir too… Google Earth provided this picture! Isn’t it cute?  An all-American home in an all-American neighborhood!  It’s only a 3-minute walk to work for Dave and a 10-minute walk to Starbucks!  Can’t beat that!

Brackston Road

As I begin to look ahead to 2016, it’s hard not to be reminded of the life we have made for ourselves here.  A lot of things happened, both good and bad, in Germany that shaped who we are as a family and who I am as a person today.

Most importantly, I had my son Matthew in 2012.  He will be the most important thing I ever did in Germany.

Matty - Week 1-17

 

Emily joined the swim team 2 seasons ago… which was a complete game changer for her.  Swimming has shaped and toned her body and has given her self-confidence more than I ever have been able to.   That’s her on the right at swim practice last summer.  She’s my little fish!

Seavipers15-29

Of course, my husband Dave has been through a lot since moving to Germany.  He deployed to Afghanistan in 2013-2014 for his 3rd deployment to the middle east.  That deployment changed him forever… and not in a good way.  Shortly after he came back, he began to fall apart.  The combat he had experienced since deploying the first time in 2007 had finally caught up to him and he began to crumble under its weight.

Welcome-Home-Family-Sign

Unfortunately, the combat PTSD & depression he now suffers from brought him to attempt to take his life twice over the last year of us living here.  Which has brought us to our current situation moving to Fort Belvoir.  It is there that he will be able to get the comprehensive help he needs to recover from a decade of war.

We’ve also done so much traveling these last 5 years!

A Life Changing Pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican | JavaCupcake.com

There’s just too many places to list… so I’ll just share my two favorites.  This past October my husband and I were guests of the US Army Warrior Transition Battalion on a trip to Rome, Italy to meet Pope Francis and tour the city.  It was a life-changing experience for me.  You can read more about that trip here!

London-30

My husband and I also got to take a trip to London for a quick 4 days while my Dad was in town and was able to babysit our kids.  London is the #1 must-visit-again city we traveled to while living here.  I loved everything about it and only wished I had more time!!!

Finally, besides my children and family… the thing I will cherish most is the work I’ve been doing these last 6 month.

An Experience in Humanity - My time with the Refugees in Germany | JavaCupcake.com

Earlier this summer, I began collecting donations for the Syrian and Iraqi refugees living here in Germany.  I shoved my car full and delivered all I had collected to a local shelter, not knowing that my life was about to change forever.

The men I met at that shelter have shown me so much strength, will to live, compassion and unconditional love.  Their stories of war, destruction, violence, and death break my heart and make me wish the world was a very different place.  I have grown to love these men over the last 2 months with all of my heart and I wish I could bring them with me to the USA.  All they want is a safe home, to earn a living and to be loved… which is what we take so much for granted in the USA.

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Because of Facebook, I will always be connected with them and I pray that someday I can help them fulfill their dreams.

Let’s not forget about all the fabulous food I made this year… and all the awesome DIY and parties and tablescapes I made!  2015 on JavaCupcake has been a big year of growth for me!

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

One of the things I’m most proud of this year was the success I had baking some of my favorite German breads and desserts including this Christmas Stollen.   It was a goal of mine to bake as many traditional German recipes as I could while I was here and I think I scored big on that one!  Check out all my German baking & cooking here!

Here’s a look at some of my favorite bakes, tutorials, & parties from 2015!

Katherine Sabbath Inspired Cake | JavaCupcake
Katherine Sabbath Inspired Cake
Host a Tie Dye Party! Decor, desserts and game ideas... all without actually Tie Dying! #TieDyeTuesday | JavaCupcake.com
Tie Dye Party
Minion Birthday
Minion Party
How to host a My Favorite Things Party | JavaCupcake.com
My Favorite Things Party
The Most Epic Cupcakes Ever! Guinness and Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Biscoff Buttercream, Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream, Caramel Drizzle and a Chocolate dipped Bisocoff Cookie! | JavaCupcake.com
Guinness Biscoff Baileys Chocolate Cupcakes
Emmentaler Grilled Cheese Sandwich | JavaCupcake.com
Emmentaler Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There were so many more amazing things on JavaCupcake in 2015, so if you want to look at it all… click here!

2016 is going to be a big year for me personally and for JavaCupcake.  I have so many amazing plans already and I can’t wait to get to the USA to get them started!

new life

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake - There are FOUR layers of chocolate in this chocolate lover's dessert, plus a drizzle of sweet caramel on top. Recipe from @itsyummi (guest post on Java Cupcake)

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake

This chocolate poke cake recipe is rich, decadent, and unbelievably easy to make. It has five different layers of chocolate in it, making it an extreme dessert for the most serious of chocolate lovers.

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake - There are FOUR layers of chocolate in this chocolate lover's dessert, plus a drizzle of sweet caramel on top. Recipe from @itsyummi for JavaCupcake.com

Hello Java Cupcake readers!

My name is Becca Heflin and I’m the recipe developer and owner of It’s Yummi. Betsy asked me to share a recipe with you today and I’m honored that she did. There are some delicious looking recipes here on her site, so my extreme chocolate poke cake recipe will be in great company!

I was never taught to cook as a child, so I lived most of my adult life eating out or having frozen dinners and boxed mac ‘n cheese. When I was in my mid-40’s, I became a first-time college student. I decided to major in Culinary Arts, which is where I learned all that I know about cooking and baking. I absolutely love to create recipes from scratch, but I think it’s equally as fun to jazz up a boxed mix or use a starter to get a recipe going. I’m busy, but to be honest, it’s mostly out of laziness! Yep. I’m a lazy chef. I’ll use a shortcut when I can, but I also believe that the way to get the best flavors out of a dish is by making them from scratch.

On top of the chocolate cake layer is a thick layer of chocolate pudding. Again, you can go the homemade route and use my sugar-free chocolate pudding recipe, or you can buy a box of instant chocolate pudding mix. Your poke cake, your rules. 🙂

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake - There are FOUR layers of chocolate in this chocolate lover's dessert, plus a drizzle of sweet caramel on top. Recipe from @itsyummi for JavaCupcake.comOne of my favorite recipes was used to make the third layer of this poke cake. It’s a 3-ingredient chocolate ganache, made without heavy whipping cream. Ganache is typically made with 1 part chocolate and 1 part heavy cream. I created a recipe that doesn’t use cream because heavy cream has gotten so expensive lately. The last time I was at the store, they wanted almost seven dollars for a quart of it. That’s a big bite out of my grocery budget! You can certainly make your ganache the authentic way if you’d like to.

Anyway, this cake has a nice thick layer of chocolate ganache that sits on top of the pudding layer. It’s rich and loaded with calories, but it’s so flipping good that it’s worth the indulgence. Grab your favorite pair of stretchy pants and you’ll be all set.

 

Another component of this poke cake is the drizzle of sweet caramel that I used on the top. I have a great tutorial on my Snickers cupcake recipe post that explains how to make caramel from scratch. If you don’t want to fuss with the homemade caramel sauce, you can use store-bought, which is actually what I did when I made these. The nice folks at Best Boy and Co. sent me a jar of their caramel sauce to try, and this was the perfect opportunity to use it. It was very tasty!

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake - There are FOUR layers of chocolate in this chocolate lover's dessert, plus a drizzle of sweet caramel on top. Recipe from @itsyummi for JavaCupcake.com

OK, enough chattering. It’s time to share this delicious poke cake recipe!

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Chocolate cake topped with layers of chocolate pudding, chocolate ganache, chocolate whipped cream, caramel sauce, and mini chocolate chips. A true chocolate lover's dessert!

Ingredients

  • Cake
  • 2 cups granulated cane sugar (15 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (7.7 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ounces (1 liquid cup) milk, any variety
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted and cooled) or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 small (3.6 oz.) boxes instant chocolate pudding mix, divided in half
  • 32 ounces (4 liquid cups) milk (any variety), divided in half
  • 8 ounce tub of prepared whipped topping or 2 cups of homemade whipped cream
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter*
  • 4 ounces (1/2 liquid cup) whole or 2% milk*
  • 8 ounces good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed with a electric hand or stand mixer for 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. (The mixture will look very thin and runny at this point, but that's okay.)
  5. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish. Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Remove pan from oven and place onto a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. While cake cools slightly, make 2 separate batches of the chocolate pudding according to box directions, but use a large mixing bowl for one batch. To that large batch, use a mixing spatula or spoon to gently fold in the whipped cream until well combined.
  7. Also while cake is cooling, make a batch of chocolate ganache.
  8. After the cake cools slightly but is still warm, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke 6 rows of holes into the cake. Each of the 6 rows should have 6 holes across (total of 36 holes in the cake). Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to cover the cake with the chocolate pudding (not the batch with whipped cream added to it). Try to push as much pudding into the holes as you can.
  9. Pour the chocolate ganache layer over the pudding and use the same offset spatula to spread it evenly across the cake.
  10. Add the whipped cream and pudding mixture on top of the chocolate ganache and use a spatula to spread it evenly across the cake.
  11. Next, drizzle caramel sauce over the entire cake and then sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  12. Cover the pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Notes

* If preferred, you can omit butter and milk in the chocolate ganache and instead, use 8 ounces (1 liquid cup) heavy whipping cream)

I hope you enjoy this recipe! I would be honored if you visited me at It’s Yummi to see more of my recipes. You can also visit me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Extreme Chocolate Poke Cake - There are FOUR layers of chocolate in this chocolate lover's dessert, plus a drizzle of sweet caramel on top. Recipe from @itsyummi (guest post on Java Cupcake)
German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

German Christmas Stollen

Celebrate the holiday season with this traditional German Christmas Stollen filled with rum soaked raisins and topped with melted butter and sugar.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee or afternoon tea!

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

Every Christmas season in Germany, the local bakeries produce the most magnificent bread that I eat dozens of loaves of.  This Weihnachtsstollen (Christmas Bread) dates back to the 1500’s in Germany when it was first made with oil because during the Advent season butter was prohibited.  This oil based dough was hard and tough and not as good as when made with butter.  Over time, the people were allowed to use butter in the Stollen and it evolved into a sweeter, fruit-filled dough versus the flavorless dough of the 1500’s.

Today, the most popular and historic Stollen comes from Dresden and is baked and sold at the Dresden Christmas Market.   This tradition has been taking place since the 1500’s and draws thousands of people to the market every Advent.

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

The traditional Stollen is baked in a long bell-shaped pan, but bakers all across Germany also bake it free form in an oval-shaped loaf like I made here.

Typically, I am not a fan of making yeasted dough, but I really wanted to learn to make my favorite German bread before I left Germany.  This dough begins by mixing the flour and yeast together then adding warmed butter and milk.  The technique works perfectly for me because I always seem to ruin the dough when I have to mix the yeast with sugar and warm milk first.  This method of adding everything at once to the mixer makes it practically impossible to mess up.

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

This recipe comes from a baking Facebook group that I’m a part of.  An older gentleman that’s in the group has been making hundreds of loaves of this German Christmas Stollen for decades and was kind enough to share his family recipe.

I tried his recipe exactly as he wrote it and I ended up burning the bottoms of the bread.  It still tasted amazing, just a little too brown on the underside with an aftertaste that was less than to be desired.

So, I tried the recipe again making a few adjustments.  I added more rum, raisins and candied orange to the dough as well as doubling up on the baking sheet, lowering the temperature and raising the rack in the oven.   All of these changes helped to make the perfect Weihnachtsstollen you see here!

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

I love how beautiful the Stollen looks on the platter with my Christmas decorations on my dining table.  Serve the Stollen with butter and a hot cup of coffee and you’ve got the perfect treat for friends and family.

German Christmas Stollen | JavaCupcake.com

I even got out my beautiful Bavarian porcelain and antique gold silverware to enjoy a cup of coffee and Stollen when my German friend Mariele came for a visit.  We sipped on coffee and ate as our children played.  It was perfect.

Do you have a favorite Christmas bread?  Have you ever made this Weihnachtsstollen before?  I’d love to hear about it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!

German Christmas Stollen

German Christmas Stollen

Yield: 8 loaves
Prep Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

Stollen

  • 3 cups raisins
  • 250g (one heaping cup) candied oranges
  • 3/4 cup white rum
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 4 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 grated & dried peels of an orange
  • 1 grated & dried peels of a lemon

Topping

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Suggested Supplies

  • Oven size/large heavy/thick baking sheet (I used two large dark non-stick jelly-roll pans stacked on top of each other)
  • Parchment paper
  • Oven thermometer
  • Kitchen scale

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the raisins, candied orange and rum. Soak for several hours or overnight.
  2. Grate the orange & lemon. Place the grated peels on a baking sheet and dry in at 225F oven for 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together 3 cups of the flour and the yeast.
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, butter, sugar and salt the butter has melted and the mixture is warm stirring constantly to melt the butter. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, but still warm, add this mixture to the flour & yeast and mix on low until combined.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the beaten eggs, almond extract, and grated peels and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  6. Scrape the sides again and mix on high for 3 minutes.
  7. By hand, stir in the raisins and oranges soaked in rum.
  8. Replace the paddle with the dough hook on the mixer. Add 5 cups of flour and turn the mixer on medium for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a counter covered in 1 cup of flour. Knead the flour into the dough for 4 minutes. Pat the dough into a large ball.
  10. Oil a large bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat the outside in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, moist place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
  11. Punch down dough 3-4 times.
  12. Remove the dough from the bowl divide into 8 even pieces. I weighed the dough in grams then divided by 8. I weighed each dough ball to the same size to ensure consistency among my loaves.
  13. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  14. Form each piece of weighed dough into an oval shaped loaf the place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  15. Once all the dough is on the baking sheet, cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  16. Preheat oven to 375F degrees if using a light baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350F degrees if using a non-stick/dark baking sheet.
  17. Bake the dough for 30 minutes on the top rack in your oven. Rotate the pan 180 degrees then bake 5 more minutes. Check the bottom of the loaves to ensure they are not burning. Bake 5 more minutes if necessary but do not over bake! The loaves will be perfect when the bottoms are golden and the tops are firm and a light brown.
  18. Remove the baked loaves from the sheet and allow them to cool on racks until completely cool.
  19. Place the 2-3 cups of sugar into a rectangle baking dish.
  20. Brush melted butter over the entire top surface of each loaf the place in the baking dish with the sugar. Scoop the sugar over the entire loaf so it's covered completely. Tap off any extra and then place back on the cooling rack. Repeat with all the loaves.
  21. Dust a generous amount of powdered sugar over the top of each loaf.
  22. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a gift bag for storage. Do not place in a plastic box, the sugar will melt into the bread.
  23. The Stollen will stay fresh for 2-3 days but after that will begin to dry out. It's best if enjoyed immediately!

Check out these other German recipes I have made since living here!

Lebkuchen - a traditional German holiday cookie made with almonds, spices and honey | JavaCupcake.com

Lebkuchen – Traditional German Christmas Cookies

Schokokipferl | JavaCupcake.com #OXOGoodCookies

Schokokipferl – A twist on a German classic

Apfeltasche - German Apple Turnover | JavaCupcake.com

Apfeltasche – A German apple turnover

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge by The RedHead Baker for JavaCupcake.com

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

Quick white chocolate cranberry fudge with hints of orange is a delicious addition to holiday party trays, or package it up for a festive homemade gift!

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge by The RedHead Baker for JavaCupcake.com

Hi! I’m Coleen, and I blog over at The Redhead Baker. I share family friendly recipes for home cooks of all skill levels. I like to make baking easy, sharing the “why” behind the recipe. I’ve been blogging for six years, and my fiance and I live with our four-year-old son and two rescue dogs.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and in addition to nearly a dozen kinds of Christmas cookies, I love making different flavors of fudge. My quick fudge starts with two ingredients: condensed milk and chocolate, then can be varied with different additions. In this version, I use orange zest and dried cranberries.

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge by The RedHead Baker for JavaCupcake.com

White chocolate burns at a much lower temperature than milk or dark chocolate, so keep your oven burner on the lowest flame, and stir constantly to avoid scorching. Also, chopping your chocolate finely will help it melt evenly and avoid scorching.

Once thoroughly chilled, cut the fudge with a chef’s knife. If serving on a dessert tray, place the pieces on flatted cupcake liners. If giving away as a gift, place a few pieces of fudge in a cellophane treat bag and tie with a festive ribbon!

This is a very soft fudge, so keep it chilled as much as possible to keep its shape. If you want firmer fudge, reduce the amount of sweetened condensed milk to half a can (about 3/4 of a cup).

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge by The RedHead Baker for JavaCupcake.com

An original recipe by The Redhead Baker

Get more recipes from The Redhead Baker on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

Yield: 64 squares

Ingredients

  • 12 oz good-quality white chocolate, chopped finely
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest

Instructions

  1. Line an 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan with wax paper, leaving about 3 inches of wax paper hanging over the edges of two sides.
  2. Place the condensed milk and chopped white chocolate in a saucepan set over low heat. Stir constantly until the white chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the orange zest and cranberries.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm. Cut into 1 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch squares.

 

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100

The holidays are about dressing up and making memories with the ones you love.  This season, I created a festive & fun holiday outfit for under $100 that is just too fabulous not to share! Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

You may be wondering what this baking blogger is doing sharing a fashion post.  Let me explain.  A few months ago I started dreaming up an idea to host a Holiday Tea Party!  All my best girlfriends would come over wearing their favorite festive outfit, drink tea and coffee from my gorgeous new Bavarian porcelain tea set, eat good food and have a fabulous time!

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Of course, I needed something fabulous to wear to the party but knew it would be a bit difficult to put the perfect outfit together here in Germany.  I’m a larger woman and it’s difficult to find unique things to wear here… so I decided to DIY the outfit myself!

This was my vision.

Holiday Party Outfit

A black tulle skirt with a beautiful red satin belt and bow, a basic fitted white tee with Merry & Bright in gold glitter and a bold statement necklace to set it all off.

And this is the manifestation of my vision!

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

Unfortunately, I had to cancel the Holiday Tea Party due to extreme personal issues out of my control.  However, I did not want this beautiful outfit to go to waste.  So, I enlisted the help of local photographer Veronika Rayno of Bear Moose & Fox Photography to bring my vision to life in a holiday photo shoot!

Veronika and I ventured to the nearby city of Weiden, Germany and their Christmas Market to take these pictures.  The Weihnachtsmarkt made the perfect backdrop to showcase my ensemble!

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

The tulle skirt was made by a local seamstress Carol of Maddy’s Girl.  Carol had made a rainbow tutu for me in the past for the Nurnberg Color Run so I knew she would be able to help me create my vision for this skirt.  There are many places on ETSY and even at retail stores like Lane Bryant that you could buy a plus-size tulle skirt, but I have found them to be very expensive.  I wanted to ensure I had a quality skirt that fit my body perfectly which is why a local retailer was the perfect option for me.  Carol sized & fitted the skirt to fit my waist perfectly and measured to the perfect tea-length. The tulle skirt twirls when I spin and is simply gorgeous.  The total cost for this skirt was $45.

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

The merry & bright shirt came together so easily.  I designed the ‘merry & bright’ in Photoshop and found a vendor on ETSY to cut it on gold glitter iron-on vinyl for me.  Any plain white round neck shirt could have been used for this, so I chose an inexpensive one from my local department store.  The iron-on transfer took less than 5 minutes to apply making my shirt the perfect match for the tulle skirt.   The entire cost for the shirt was about $15.

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

Because I didn’t want to spend more than $100 on the entire outfit, I accessorized the look with a combination of jewelry I already had and a few purchased pieces.  The statement necklace came from H&M and the bow earrings & the black ring from C&A.  The rose gold Fossil watch and Kate Spade bow bracelet I already owned as well as the gold-buckled black ballet flats.  The purchased accessories cost $20.

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

The great thing about putting together a holiday outfit like this is that the accessory possibilities are endless.  Once you have the tulle skirt and shirt almost any accessories or shoes could be paired with it!

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

When I saw these bow earrings at C&A, I knew they’d be perfect for this outfit because I was going to wear my favorite Kate Spade New York bow bracelet.  The subtle matching of the earrings and bracelet bring the mixed pieces of jewelry together so effortlessly.

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

I really am just so completely thrilled with how the entire look came together!  It’s unique.  It’s one-of-a-kind.  It’s special.  It’s magical.

I couldn’t let the opportunity to be photographed in this beautiful tulle skirt pass me by, so Veronika also took a few shots of me to feature on my blog.  I didn’t want them to be holiday themed, so I took the red belt off the skirt and changed into a black shirt making my outfit completely new!

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

This photo by the grape vines was taken completely on a whim, but I absolutely love it.

Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

Being photographed really isn’t my favorite thing in the world.  I am not the most comfortable person in my body right now since I’ve gained back a lot of the weight I lost after my weight loss surgery in 2010.  However, I do like to feel pretty and I knew that creating this festive & fun holiday outfit would make me feel pretty!

No matter what size you are… looking and feeling beautiful doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  With a little planning, imagination and effort your dream holiday outfit can be possible too!

A big thank you to Carol & Veronika for helping to make me feel and look beautiful!  Festive & Fun Holiday Outfit for under $100 | JavaCupcake.com

Make sure to check out their websites and pages to help you make your next event perfect!

bmf-logoPhotos – Bear Moose & Fox Photography by Veronika Rayno

vintage-maddys-girl-logo1
Tulle Skirt – Maddy’s Girl

Iron-on Decal – Ann Marie Avenue
Statement Necklace – H&M
Earrings & Ring – C&A
Gold Bow Bracelet – Kate Spade New York
Rose Gold Watch – Fossil
Ballet Flats – Payless Shoe Source

Chocolate Snickers Cookies by Barbara Bakes for JavaCupcake.com

Chocolate Snickers Cookies

These Chocolate Snickers Cookies are an irresistible, rich, chewy chocolate cookie loaded with chocolate chips, peanuts and Snickers Baking Bites. 

These Chocolate Snickers Cookies are an irresistible, rich, chewy chocolate cookie loaded with chocolate chips, peanuts and Snickers Baking Bites. 

Hi, I’m Barbara from Barbara Bakes, and I’m excited to be guest posting today. On Barbara Bakes I share great recipes for cookies, cakes, and pies, as well as great family meals. I make baking for scratch easy with step-by-step photos and simplified techniques.

These Chocolate Snickers Cookies are an irresistible, rich, chewy chocolate cookie loaded with chocolate chips, peanuts and Snickers Baking Bites. 

Did you know you Snickers makes little Baking Bites? My daughter was excited to find them at the store and asked me to create a recipe using them. I decided to start with the chocolate cookie dough from my Triple Chocolate S’mores cookies and change them up by adding Snickers Baking Bites and peanuts.

I made the cookies two ways and still can’t decide which way I like them better. First I topped the cookies with the Snickers Baking Bites, and then I wrapped the cookie dough around the Snickers Baking Bite to make a stuffed cookie.

The cookies in the front of the picture are the ones topped with Snickers Baking Bites, the cookies in the back are stuffed with Snickers Baking Bites. I think they look prettier stuffed, but you get more Snickers in every bite when you top them with Snickers. Either way, it’s a great, must-make cookie, especially if you’re a Snickers lover.

Chocolate Snickers Cookies

Chocolate Snickers Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package (10 ounce) Snickers Baking Bites
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silpat liners.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until well blended.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.
  5. Using a small cookie scoop, drop by rounded scoops on to cookie sheets. Cut Snickers Baking Bites into three pieces and press into the top of each scoop.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are set, but still soft in center.
  7. Let cookies cool on the cookie tray for five minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Orange Cranberry Cookies Stuffed with Creamy White Dove Chocolate

Orange Cranberry Stuffed Cookies

Chocolate S’mores Cookies with a fudgy, chocolate cookie base studded with chocolate chips, topped with graham crackers and marshmallows, toasted and finished with a drizzled of chocolate.

Triple Chocolate S’mores Cookies

These Chocolate Snickers Cookies are an irresistible, rich, chewy chocolate cookie loaded with chocolate chips, peanuts and Snickers Baking Bites. 

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