The Ultimate Thick and Chewy M&M Cookie Bars

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I was going to make this M&M Cookie Bar recipe with my little cousin when she slept over the other night but we got so busy doing crafts and other fun stuff that we had to skip it! So I decided to whip them up tonight to try them out and see how they taste.

Oh. my. word. They are seriously amazing.
Remember those huge giant sized packaged cookies that were basically the size of your head that you used to get as a kid? These taste 100x better than any of those if you can believe it!

The cookie dough is thick, chewy and golden and the M&M chocolates are perfectly melted. It’s honestly taking all of my willpower not to gobble down the whole pan.

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The recipe is super simple & quick and you don’t even need an electric mixer.
These cookie bars would be so perfect for a kids sleepover or birthday party!

The recipe I used is by Christine at Fantastic Family Favorites. Click here for the recipe.

* The only change I made to the recipe was that I used dark chocolate flavored M&M’s instead of the milk chocolate because I didn’t want the bars to be too sweet.

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Happy Baking!
Natasha xo

Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S Cake

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We’ve went and gone bananas over this cake!

After my zucchini baking phase, I decided to switch things up a bit. Since I really enjoy fruit in baked goods, I decided to make a banana cake!

This cake tastes exactly like the banana bread that your grandma used to make, except without the hard (almost burnt) outer crust and the thick density of the loaf.
You get the same good ole fashion banana bread taste in a beautiful iced cake!
And lets face it – a cake is a lot more visually appealing than bread and is a lot funner to decorate! 😉

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(Add some chopped walnuts if you want an extra crunch!)

This cake really does have the perfect amount of bananas. Not too much that it overpowers everything, and not too little that you can’t even taste it. Not only is this cake fluffy, moist and light – while its in the oven, your house will smell like a sweet banana haven. While the cake was baking, I couldn’t wait to get it out of the oven and take a bite! Nummerz! You are going to want a piece right away – the smell is so mouthwatering and aromatic! (This is the cake to make if you are having guests over and want to impress them with something delicious-smelling baking in the oven hehe. 😉 )

Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S Cake
Moist banana cake topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 cup sour cream
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  10. 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approx. 3-4 bananas)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  3. 3 – 4 cup confectioners sugar (to your preference – I used 3 cups)
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. dash of nutmeg
  6. chopped walnuts {optional}
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9″x13″ inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer (using the paddle attachment), cream together the butter and sugar until light and smooth. Switch from the paddle attachment to the beater/whisk and beat in eggs slowly, one at a time. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla until evenly mixed.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and whisk a few seconds until mixed. Pour the dry mix into the wet mix and stir together. Lastly, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, {start checking at 25 minutes as oven temperatures vary – I kept my cake in for 34 minutes} or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing!
To Make The Frosting
  1. In the bowl of your mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla extract and the nutmeg. Using a spatula or your preferred tool, spread frosting evenly on the cooled cake. Top with chopped walnuts! {optional}
Rose & Lea http://roseandlea.com/

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Happy Baking!
Natasha xo

Double Layer Confetti Cake!

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I’ve been on a total baking kick lately, and I’m loving it. I’m definitely a beginner baker but I’m excited to learn more as I go along. I’ve been obsessed with all things baking and have been researching everything from different types of sugars to ingredient substitutions.

I’ve seen many different variations of gorgeous Confetti Cakes on various blogs & sites and I knew I had to make my own asap. My grandpa’s birthday party was yesterday and I decided to make him a confetti cake! I’ve never attempted to bake a homemade confetti cake before, only Duncan Hines box brands (which are actually really good!), so I was pretty excited. I searched through a lot of different recipes and read a lot of reviews and with the help of my mom, I put together my own version of the eye-catching confetti cake. Not without some trials and tribulations though!

1. Firstly – I didn’t have enough sprinkles! I don’t know what I was thinking but it was too late to run to a store so I ended up just using some red, white and green Christmas jimmy sprinkles which worked out fine! I didn’t use a lot as to not overpower the other colours but I think the red and green actually made the cake look a tad ‘manlier‘ which is good since it was for my grandpa.

2. The icing was a major problem.
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At first I decided to use a typical vanilla buttercream frosting, so I whipped it up and I was shocked. It was the sweetest tasting buttercream I’ve ever tasted. Like sickingly sweet. Almost like bad grocery-store-bakery sweet. It was also extremely thick.. (I will post the recipe below) so I decided to wing-it last minute and make my own whipped cream frosting instead. I’ve made simple vanilla whipped cream frostings before (strawberry pies) and I’ve always found that whipped cream tastes way better than any kind of buttercream or cream cheese icings. I can’t stand overly sweet, fake tasting icings.

Since I had SO much of the buttercream icing leftover from the first batch, (and I hate wasting things) I decided to use a small, small amount of the buttercream for the icing in between the two layers. It tasted fine in between the layers but next time I make this cake I won’t be making the buttercream at all. Just the vanilla whipped cream!
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The cake turned out super moist and delicious. It kinda reminded me of all the best parts of a Christmas sugar cookie (but in a cake) and who wouldn’t want that?! 😉

My grandparents both loved it and my brother (who is not a big sweets person at all..) even had seconds! My grandma has already requested that I make this cake again for her birthday (which is not until December).

The whipped cream was the perfect light icing, the sprinkles didn’t run at all, and the cake looked so fun and party-ish! Perfect for a summertime birthday!
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Double Layer Confetti Cake + Frosting Ingredients and Directions:

Ingredients:

3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (420 grams)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup no-fat plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sprinkles – Jimmies work best. Don’t use nonpareils (the round sprinkles), as the colours tend to run/spread.

Perfect Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting:

4 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoon icing sugar (or however much you prefer. taste as you go along)
1 tsp vanilla

Buttercream Frosting: (thumbs down! not making this again)

2 cups unsalted butter
6 cups confectioners sugar (way too much icing sugar!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or spray two 9-inch round baking pans and set them aside.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave for about a minute or until butter is melted. Transfer the butter to a larger bowl, and whisk in the sugars with the butter. Mix well, making sure all the brown sugar lumps are gone. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes thick and harder to stir. Whisk in eggs, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Slowly fold in sprinkles. Be careful not to overmix so the sprinkles don’t bleed their colour!

3. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-38 minutes. Oven temperatures vary so start checking around 25 minutes! Cakes are ready when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

4. In a medium bowl, whisk heavy cream with electric mixer on high speed for 3-5 minutes or until fluffy. Add icing sugar and vanilla and mix until combined.

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Until next time,
Natasha xo

Family Time

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Nicholas & Laura’s Birthday.

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Natasha made a Banana Cake (Nick’s choice!) with the help of her little cousins for Laura & Nick’s Birthdays.

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Mmm, The Keg dinner.

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Natasha & her little cousin putting on a performance for Canada Day.

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Grandpa with his girls.
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Natasha & her little cousin.

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Bubble time!

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Natasha posing with her drumsticks.

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Reppin’ our HEART band shirts. We looove Heart!

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Cousin Love.