The Ruby Princess Milky Way Martini

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! This Milky Way Martini is the one served in the famous Crooner’s Bar on board the Ruby Princess ship! Flavored with caramel vodka, cream, and creme de cacao, it tastes just like the candy bar!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am working with Princess Cruises on a series of posts based on my experience on their Ruby Princess Alaskan cruise. I have been compensated, but all of the opinions and photos are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep my blog alive!

So I’m having serious cruise withdrawals – so much so, that I have had multiple dreams about my Alaskan cruise with Princess Cruises. It’s crazy!

About once a night, I have a dream that I’m back on the ship and headed to my usual haunts – the Crooner’s Bar, International Cafe, the Lido Deck, or the Lotus Spa – complete with a book, my camera, and an alcoholic beverage in hand. Then I wake up and realize I’m back on dry land and get sad and wistful.

But then I remembered the amazing Milky Way Martini I had on board the Ruby Princess and I got excited because it’s totally make-able at home! And you guys – this version tastes exactly like the one served in the Crooner’s Bar!

The Crooner's Bar on-board the Ruby Princess. #adIf you’ve never sailed on the Ruby Princess before, the Crooner’s Bar is on deck 7 and is a swanky, 1950’s-style bar with dimmed lighting, a full grand piano, and the most sophisticated drinks, some named after the Rat Pack themselves. They have a huge list of house-made martinis, and I knew I had to try the Milky Way version!

The Crooner's Bar on-board the Ruby Princess. #adThe best part of the Crooner’s Bar is the ambiance. It really reminds me of a cool, 50’s-era bar/nightclub with plush seats, glossy wood furnishings, and the sophisticated menu. And when you order your martinis, they shake and pour them right at your table which adds to the classy feel of the bar.

Milky Way Martini at the Crooner's Bar on-board the Ruby Princess. #adWell… I change my mind. The best part of the Crooner’s Bar is the drinks, of course 🙂

And while I highly encourage you to book a cruise NOW, if you can’t do that, make this drink instead and pretend you’re sailing to Alaska. It’ll make you feel 10 times better AND will get you in the Halloween spirit!

So: let’s make this cocktail!

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! In a cocktail shaker (I found this one for $10 at World Market!), add your ice cubes. Then pour in…

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! 3 ounces of creme de cacao liqueur. You could use name brand, like Godiva, but I used the store-brand. Then add…

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! 3 ounces of caramel vodka! If you can’t find caramel vodka, in a pinch you could use vanilla. Lastly, add…

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! 3 ounces of chocolate-caramel coffee creamer – yep, the stuff you put in your coffee! This adds the perfect creamy element to this cocktail without sacrificing the buttery caramel and smooth chocolate flavors.

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! Then shake and strain that beauty into your chocolate and caramel-drizzled glass!

Cheers!

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious!

The Ruby Princess Milky Way Martini
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
This candy-inspired Milky Way Martini tastes just like the one served at the Crooner's Bar onboard the Ruby Princess ship! Creamy, chocolaty, and super sweet!
Ingredients
  • 3 ounces chocolate or creme de cacao liqueur, such as Godiva
  • 3 ounces caramel vodka
  • 3 ounces chocolate caramel coffee creamer (I like the International Delight version)
  • Chocolate and caramel syrups for drizzling glass
Instructions
  1. Using the chocolate and caramel syrups, drizzle around the inside and on the inner rim of a martini glass to create a cool pattern. Set aside briefly.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add in the creme de cacao liqueur, the caramel vodka, and the chocolate caramel coffee creamer. Secure the lid to the shaker and shake vigorously, about 30 seconds to one minute.
  3. Strain the cocktail into the martini glass, making sure to get every last drop!

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious! Buttery smooth, chocolaty, extra sweet, and a little strong… just like how the Ruby Princess does it!

This Milky Way Martini tastes JUST like the one served onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship! Creamy, ultra chocolaty with a smooth caramel finish in a chocolate & caramel-drizzled glass. So elegant and delicious!

Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

For more information about Princess Cruises, be sure to visit their website for info about booking a cruise, excursions, dining options, and more!

Pumpkin Churro Bread

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! Don’t want to choose between churros or pumpkin bread? Try my Pumpkin Churro Bread – the best of both worlds! Moist, fluffy pumpkin bread is coated with cinnamon and sugar for a sugary, crisp crust that is reminiscent of a piping hot churro!

Fawinter baking is my absolute favorite. Is it yours?

Oh – and fawinter means fall + winter baking. I didn’t want to choose between pumpkin and peppermint, so I just coined this dandy word so people know I’m A) insane, and B) serious about my love of holiday baking.

But this time of year – when the air gets that little crisp chill, when the leaves dance until they fall to the ground and crunch underneath our boots – is so magical. It just feels good after a particularly scorching hot summer, you know?

Anyway, cinnamon and pumpkin go hand-in-hand so you know this mashup had to happen. And I felt particularly good that I seemed to have created such a damn good bread with my own crazy mind.

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! Basically, you take my Best Pumpkin Bread recipe and bake it up nice and pretty. Wait it cool for a couple minutes, then carefully take it out of the pan and dunk that sucker in a pool of melted butter. I like using a pastry brush to make sure it gets into every crack and crevice of the bread’s surface.

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! Then take your buttery bread and dredge the living daylights out of it in a huge bowl of cinnamon and sugar. Spoon cinnamon sugar from the bottom of the bowl to pour over the top – almost like you’re basting it. This ensures there’s a thick coating of the cinnamon sugar, which – let’s face it – is the best part.

All that’s left to do is to slice it up and dig in!

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd!

Pumpkin Churro Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This Churro Pumpkin Bread is fantastic! A combination between crisp and crunchy cinnamon churros and a moist and fluffy pumpkin bread!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • FOR THE CHURRO COATING:
  • 1 & ¼ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease an 8" or 9" loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer, about 2 minutes, until fluffy and light. Beat in the pumpkin puree, followed by the eggs, one at a time. Add in the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour and hand-stir the dry ingredients in, careful not to overmix. Over-mixing leads to tough bread that sinks in the middle. Mixture should still see streaks of white from the flour.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist, not wet, crumbs. NOTE: the type of pan you use may increase your baking time. I like using foil pans, but glass pans or dark pans may result in a longer baking time.
  4. Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes. While bread cools, prepare your churro coating. Pour the butter into a shallow bowl, and in another shallow bowl, combine the churro coating: sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon until blended.
  5. Gently and carefully remove the bread from the pan and place in the shallow bowl of the butter. Using a pastry brush, brush the butter over the sides and top of the bread as if you were basting it. Make sure every square inch of the bread's surface is coated in butter! Using two spatulas to gently lift the bread from the butter and place in the shallow bowl of cinnamon sugar. Dredge the bread in the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating the sides and the top of the bread until fully coated. Let set and cool in the cinnamon sugar mixture before slicing and serving.

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! Moist, tender, fluffy pumpkin spice bread coated in a crisp, thick layer of cinnamon sugar goodness!

This Pumpkin Churro Bread combines a moist and fluffy pumpkin spice bread with a crisp outer cinnamon sugar coating, very similar to a churro! Super flavorful, easy, and sure to please a crowd! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

Monster Candy Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving! Perfect for Halloween, these Monster Candy Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are a super sweet treat! Egg-free “monster” cookie dough truffles filled with peanut butter, chocolate chips, oats and M&M’s are surrounded by fudgy baked brownies and coated in chocolate!

You know me and brownie bombs – I just had to revamp this old archived recipe and bring it back!

So you know I taste everything I make but don’t eat everything I make, right? Meaning: I obviously taste-test everything to make sure the flavor and texture is right, but there are few things I actually end up eating. But brownie bombs are a weakness, so I try to get them out of the house faster than you can say “bomb diggity.”

After I made these, I waltzed up to the front office of my apartment complex and dropped them off with the property managers. They go crazy for my treats and I am happy to continue fattening them up 🙂

But I also wanted to give some brownie bombs to my mail-lady because I HAVE THE WORST TIMING WITH HER.

Like, every time I sit and think, “she’s probably gone by now”, I’ll walk over there and she’s in the middle of it. I don’t live far from the mailboxes, per se – but it’s annoying to walk all the way over there and turn around and walk back home and then repeat in a half hour.

So I usually try to see if she’s finished with my mailbox at least so I can GTFO and leave her alone. And she’s always done, but this happened like for a week straight and I felt like she thought I was stalking her or something.

Anyway, I gave her a brownie bomb and I think that made up for the fact that she probably thinks I’m a psychopath who stalks her and/or my mail… which I am the latter. I grew up with so many penpals, so I find joy in getting mail. I’m weird, I know.

So not only are these Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs approved by yours truly, they are also postman (and postwoman) approved.

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving! These would be perfect for Halloween or Halloween parties because they use up M&M’s, which I always seem to have leftover from handing out candy, or when I was a kid and came back with my stash. Toss ’em into the egg-free peanut butter/chocolate chip/oatmeal cookie dough – AKA, “Monster” cookie dough – roll them into balls, then coat them with a fudgy baked brownie.

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving! Once it’s perfectly spherical and delicious, make it even more indulgent by dunking that sucker in chocolate and sprinkling it with more M&M’s. You know, for a little extra pizzazz. Life needs more pizzazz, don’t you think?

No tricks here! Just happy Treating all around 🙂

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving!

Monster Candy Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs
Author: 
Recipe type: Brownie Bombs
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are super fantastic and so flavorful! Egg-free "monster" cookie dough is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in rich milk chocolate. So festive for any time of year, but especially Halloween!
Ingredients
  • FOR THE COOKIE DOUGH:
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour (see Note)
  • 1 & ¼ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 cup miniature M&M's candies
  • FOR THE BROWNIES:
  • Two (9x13") pans of baked fudge brownies, cooled, edges trimmed and cut into 15 pieces per pan
  • FOR THE COATING:
  • 1-2 pkg chocolate CandiQuik
  • 2-4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ pkg vanilla CandiQuik
  • 1 cup additional miniature M&M's, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. First, make your cookie dough balls. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the milk and vanilla, followed by the peanut butter, then the flour until dough comes together and is sticky. Beat in the old-fashioned oats, followed by the mini chocolate chips and mini M&M's.
  2. Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop rounded cookie dough balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You should get about 30 balls of dough. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Once dough balls are firm, make your bombs. Take a square of fudge brownie and gently flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place a cookie dough ball in the center of the flattened brownie, and use your fingers and hands to pinch the brownie around the dough ball to seal it completely, rolling the brownie bomb in your hand if needed. Return to the baking sheet, noting that you may now need 2 baking sheets as the brownie bombs are larger than the cookie dough truffles.
  4. After the brownie bombs are made, melt the chocolate CandiQuik according to package instructions. Once melted and smooth, stir in 2 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter until blended. Dunk each brownie bomb into the chocolate-peanut butter mixture using a fork and coating all sides. Allow excess to drip off, then return to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining bombs. NOTE: You MAY need TWO (2) packages of CandiQuik to coat all the bombs, hence why the ingredients says 1-2 pkgs and 2-4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter.
  5. Melt the vanilla CandiQuik according to package instructions and drizzle over the chocolate bombs. Immediately garnish with chopped mini M&M's. Serve!
  6. NOTE: If you do not want to use raw all-purpose flour, you may heat treat your flour by baking it at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, or use different flour substitutes, such as almond flour, oat flour, coconut flour, or oat flour.

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving! Gooey, fudgy, chocolaty goodness! Everyone will go crazy for these brownie bombs!

These Monster Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are DELICIOUS! "Monster" cookie dough flavored with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and M&M's is surrounded by a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate and more candy! Perfect for parties, gifts, or just to cure a serious chocolate craving! Have a super sweet day!

Want more brownie bomb goodness?

These MINT OREO TRUFFLE BROWNIE BOMBS are a minty delight! No-bake mint Oreo truffles wrapped in a fudgy baked brownie and coated in chocolate & Andes Mints. So simple to whip up and a great way to impress anyone you serve!Mint Oreo Truffle Brownie Bombs

These Salted Caramel Mocha Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs are AWESOME. Espresso fudgy brownies are wrapped around egg-free chocolate chip cookie dough that's filled with a caramel candy and everything is coated in chocolate and sea salt. Sweet, salty, decadent, delicious!Salted Caramel Mocha Brownie Bombs

Pecan Pie Brownie Bombs

xo, Hayley

Maple Sugar Cream Pie

This Maple Brulee Cream Pie is fantastic! Just like my classic Sugar Cream Pie recipe, it is revamped with rich, cozy maple flavor. So irresistible! If you love my original Sugar Cream Pie recipe, you’ll flip for this Maple Cream Pie version! Creamy and smooth like custard-y creme brulee filling flavored with rich maple.

I have done it. I revamped my Sugar Cream Pie recipe.

I know they say “don’t mess with perfection”, but in this case I found a maple version just had to happen. Or else.

(Or else what, you ask? Who knows. It just sounded good).

This pie goes CRAZY on Pinterest and Facebook whenever I share it, and since maple reminds me of cozy fall weather, crunchy leaves, and soft scarves, I knew I had to make a maple version.

It has the same steps and ingredients as my regular SCP, but with a little extra sweetness from maple extract and maple syrup.

This Maple Brulee Cream Pie is fantastic! Just like my classic Sugar Cream Pie recipe, it is revamped with rich, cozy maple flavor. So irresistible! Note: Usually I wouldn’t blink twice if you used Mrs. Buttersworth or table syrup like that, but in this case, splurge for real-deal maple syrup. Costco has like, gallon-size jugs of it for under $10. It is worth it!

Most people don’t believe this custard is made without eggs because it is so creamy, thick, and dreamy – almost like a cross between cooked pudding and creme brulee filling. It holds up once it gets baked and cooled, then tossed in the fridge for a bit to chill. Just before serving, I preferred to dust each slice with some ground cinnamon to drive home that cozy fall flavor.

Whatever you do, make this bad boy!

This Maple Brulee Cream Pie is fantastic! Just like my classic Sugar Cream Pie recipe, it is revamped with rich, cozy maple flavor. So irresistible! *adapted from my Sugar Cream Pie recipe

Maple Sugar Cream Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
A fun twist on a classic favorite, this Maple Cream Pie has the same wonderful, creamy filling as the original but with a maple-flavored twist!
Ingredients
  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • FOR TOPPING:
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ cup cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the frozen pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet and par-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.
  2. While crust partially bakes, make your filling. In a medium saucepan off the heat, whisk together the cornstarch, granulated sugar, melted butter and heavy cream. Turn the heat onto medium and whisk constantly until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Mixture will suddenly become thick very fast, so use caution so it does not burn. Add in the maple syrup, maple and vanilla extracts and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the filling into the pie crust and smooth out the top. Drizzle the top of the filling with the remaining butter (for the topping) and the cinnamon sugar. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the top is light golden brown. The mixture may be a little jiggly in the middle; this is okay. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours to set.

This Maple Brulee Cream Pie is fantastic! Just like my classic Sugar Cream Pie recipe, it is revamped with rich, cozy maple flavor. So irresistible! Thick, rich maple-flavored custard filling with a spicy cinnamon sugar topping. So decadent and delicious!

This Maple Brulee Cream Pie is fantastic! Just like my classic Sugar Cream Pie recipe, it is revamped with rich, cozy maple flavor. So irresistible! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

15 Tips For Your Princess Cruise!

15 Tips for your Princess Cruise! In the interest of full disclosure, I am working with Princess Cruises on a series of posts based on my experience on their Ruby Princess Alaskan cruise. I have been compensated, but all of the opinions and photos are 100% my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links which earn me a small percentage should you purchase anything from the link  – at no cost to you. 

Hey guys!

So if you follow me on social media (you do follow me, right?), you know I took an AMAZING Alaskan cruise a couple weeks ago with Princess Cruises. I truly have no words to adequately describe how incredible the cruise was, but let me try: truly awesome, magnificent, fantastic, magical, life-changing, brilliant, fun… to name a few adjectives 🙂

While Alaska cruises are done for the season now, there are plenty of other cruises getting ready to set sail around different parts of the world, and I figured I’d compile this list of 15 Tips For Your Princess Cruise before you set sail so you’re prepared, comfortable, and ready to spend time enjoying the cruise rather than fretting over small things.

Whether you’re sailing with Princess on the Ruby Princess like I did, or you’re sailing another Princess ship or cruise liner entirely (although, I do love me a Princess cruise the most!), here are some tips & tricks I learned so my cruise was a smashing success.

Before You Leave

Here are some unexpected things you may not think to pack that were total life-savers for me!

  1. Over the door shoe organizer: It isn’t just for shoes, though if you’re a fashionista, it’s an obvious choice. Over the door organizers are a great way to save space and keep everything organized and tidy during your week-long (or more!) cruise. We hooked ours over a closet door where it housed some shoes, yes, but other things like makeup, medications, hot tools for our hair, and even organized our socks, under garments, and stockings. Since counter space (and closet space) is so limited in your cabin, this was a total game-changer.

Cruise Tips: an over-the-door shoe organizer is a secret life-saver for a cruise! Each pocket can house precious cargo since the cabin's have limited counter space. Corral socks/hosiery, medications, makeup, hot tools, and more!

2. Clothespins: I know what you’re thinking: laundry items on a vacation? But I promise it’s not like that! I traveled with my mom, but if you’re traveling with a family, this trick will be so helpful. Before you depart for your cruise, simply write on each family member’s initial on a handful of pins, then pin them to the individual shoe pockets on the organizer. Since my organizer was opaque, our initialed clothespins helped identify at a quick glance whose stuff was whose.

Bonus: initialed clothespins can be used to keep rogue dirty socks together for the correct person!

Cruise Tips: initialed clothespins make identifying everyone's belongings a cinch!

3. Power strip: Even though my mom and I were the only travelers in our party, between my computer, phone, her Nook book, my camera batteries, her C-Pap machine, and more, there were a lot of things that needed to be charged at random times. Since our cabin only had one (1)! accessible outlet, I was so grateful I packed this power strip. We could charge all of our necessary devices in this simple way.

Cruise Tips: bring a power strip, as sometimes outlets are limited in your cruise stateroom.

4. Seasick medication (just in case!): A lot of people are unprepared for rough waters should it occur, and seasickness medication is usually more expensive on board. I really liked the medication I took (the one I linked above). Not only was I able to function throughout the day (other medications in the past forced me to nap during important events on the ship!), I was never drowsy, it was a chewable tablet that I could take anywhere, and it was great to use when we unexpectedly hit some turbulence one night.

Bonus tip: In order for medication to work properly, take the pill 24 hours before you embark, then 12 hours before you embark, and finally 1 hour before you embark. This gives it a chance to enter your system and start working properly by the time you set sail.

5. Champagne or wine: Princess Cruises allows each party to bring along one bottle of alcohol on board, so take advantage of this and BYOB! Each room on board of the Ruby Princess has a refrigerator and ice bucket, and room service can provide you with stemware!

Champagne on board the Ruby Princess

6. Binoculars: These were SO awesome to have, and I’m so glad I packed them before our cruise! Some of our excursions (which I’ll detail in an upcoming post!) did not offer binoculars, but they were great to have on hand to spot animals in the wild, during our whale-watching excursion, and to spot the glaciers calving (AKA breaking apart) while we toured through Glacier Bay National Park.

Fun fact: did you know glaciers move toward the sea up to six feet a DAY?

Glacier Bay National Park

7. Magnetic chip clips: Nope, not for Doritos! Did you know that your cabin’s walls are magnetic?! Yep, the walls are made of metal and thus magnets stick to them. These chip clips are a great way to hang up important documents or things like your cruise card or itinerary so you never lose them under the bed, between the sheets, or at the bottom of your black hole of a purse. I used them to hang up our itinerary and WiFi codes so everything was easily accessible to my mom and I.

Cruise Tips - bring magnetic chip clips to your stateroom! The walls are magnetic and these clips are a life-saver to hold your cruise itinerary, cruise cards, and more!

Once On The Ship

Once you’re on board, remember these tips so your first experience is a positive one!

7. If you’re starving when you first get onboard, try to avoid the buffet – that’s where everyone goes to! Ruby Princess had so many dining options for lunch besides the buffet, including a hamburger grill, a pizza place, and a cafe. These are significantly less-crowded on embarkation day, so check them out! PS – these places should also be included in your dining package.

Chocolate milkshakes on the lido deck on the Ruby PrincessPS – Our ship had an ice cream bar on the pool deck where they offered homemade ice cream daily and milkshakes like this!

8. On embarkation day, room service can be a little slow due to the fact that everyone is trying to get your bags checked to your room (a wonderful service, BTW!). However, if all you want to do is eat and hang in your room for a breather, most restaurants and buffets on board will let you take a plate to go! (I did this with dessert a lot!) 🙂

A dessert trio on Ruby Princess

9. The main dining rooms and buffet restaurants tend to be crazy on the first night, so I recommend dining in a specialty restaurant on-board instead. Ruby Princess had SHARE by Curtis Stone, a six-course dinner menu with each course tasting even better than the last. I loved SHARE because the premise is to take time to spend with your loved ones and share memories, stories, and experiences. How cute is that?

Plus, this butter-poached lobster was LIFE-CHANGING. I repeat: a total life-changing lobster.

Lobster with beurre blanc from SHARE by Curtis Stone on the Ruby Princess

10. Take advantage of the maitre d’! Okay, not literally. The maitre d’ is your friend here and wants your experience to be memorable and exciting. He or she is basically a sommelier, party host, and food expert in the dining room. Ask them for their recommendations for certain dishes, wine pairings, or can’t-miss food offerings each time you dine. And since you often may dine with strangers at large tables in the main dining rooms, you can ask your maitre d’ to move you if needed.

11. Check out the spa and fitness center ASAP! Obviously, my mom and I were basically running to the Lotus Spa on embarkation day, and I’m so glad we did! Ruby Princess’ spa director took us through a comprehensive tour when we visited and showed us around the spa and fitness center. On embarkation day, the spa will usually offer discounts or free services when you buy a service, such as a free 20 minute scalp massage tacked onto your massage service, or a free manicure with the purchase of a blow-out. They also offer amazing classes in the fitness center, and they even have an acupuncturist on board! I just loved that we received complimentary treatments on top of the treatments we were already planning on booking!

The Lotus Spa on the Ruby Princess

12. You will never be bored on the ship – that’s a promise! But so you know what all the ship has to offer, take a brief tour around the ship to see the amenities provided. For instance, Ruby Princess had a mini golf course on the top deck, a private adults-only area, a tennis/basketball court, a casino, a teen and children’s center, and a club. If you don’t have a set schedule, it’s a great idea to figure out what you’d like to do on each day, or even each hour!

Mini golf course on top of the Ruby Princess

13. Pay attention to your ship’s daily newsletter! On it, you’ll find pertinent information about the day’s events, games, shows, excursions, weather, dining options, and more. On the Ruby Princess, ours was called “Princess Patter” and it was rich with helpful info. On days and evenings when we had nothing planned, it was nice to know there was a movie playing “under the stars” on the outdoor decks, or a Broadway show going on in the magnificent Princess Theater.

Princess Theater on the Ruby Princess

14. For excellent on-board and excursion recommendations, get to know your cabin steward. Ours was a jovial guy named Ricky who always made sure our stateroom had a full bottle of water, fresh linens and towels, and offered us some great recommendations for dining on-board. Your cabin steward travels with the ship for many weeks or months at a time, so he or she knows where to find the best food for your craving, how and when to avoid the crowds, and what excursions are a must-see!

Ruby Princess stateroom15. If you’re traveling with Princess soon, you’ll get to experience the new Ocean Medallion! The Ocean Medallion is a free, wearable device that makes your cruise experience personalized, simpler and extraordinary! The device holds your unique digital identity which is encrypted and it communicates with thousands of sensors on board and in port. It uses personalized information so the crew can serve you better – for instance, if you stop by the International Cafe on Day 1 and order your large vanilla soy latte extra hot with whipped cream, your Ocean Medallion device will register this. The next day you stop to get it, the crew will be able to view your order and prepare it for you! In addition, you can use the Ocean Medallion to unlock your stateroom door, make payments, speed up things on embarkation day, and more. This launches in November!

Ruby PrincessOverall, my experience cruising with Princess Cruises was a fantastic one and I would recommend it to anyone! Princess was perfect for a mom-and-me trip like I took, but it is also fantastic for whatever you’re celebrating, from birthdays to anniversaries to family reunions.

Have a super sweet weekend, and enjoy your cruise!

xo, Hayley

Perfect & Easy Tiramisu

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing. Tiramisu fans will fall in love with this simply perfect recipe! A few easy swaps makes it more approachable and easy to make any time of year with products that are easy to find.

I am a tiramisu NUT.

I really don’t know where this obsession started, because I have only recently hopped on the bandwagon. I certainly never had it growing up, but once I tried it, I was hooked. It’s easily one of top 3 favorite desserts and I order it whenever I see it on the menu.

But for some reason, I am not a huge mascarpone cheese fan. I tried to like it but it’s just not my jam, so in this recipe, I switched things up by using cream cheese. Cream cheese is an easy swap-out for mascarpone without sacrificing the hint of tang, the creaminess, or the amazing fluffy texture.

Usually for tiramisu, I like using Twinkies instead of ladyfingers because they’re easier to find and so similar, anyway, but I wanted this to be more authentic.

Plus, once I realized Whole Foods carries ladyfingers for cheap (on the cookie and cracker aisle!), the rest was history. Authentic tiramisu whenever I want, YES!

This recipe starts out like most tiramisu recipes but with little twists along the way. First, dunk your ladyfingers into a mixture of cooled, brewed coffee and a splash of Kahlua. Some people use brandy or Marsala wine, but I had Kahlua on hand and I liked that it played up the coffee flavor. Once your ladyfingers are dunked, line them up in the pan like little soldiers and top them with the cream cheese mixture.

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing. The cream cheese mixture is just cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and whipped cream mixed together to form one heavenly cloud of luscious deliciousness. Spread that over the soaked ladyfingers, then repeat the layers.

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing. Finish with a heavy dusting of cocoa powder on top and – this is the hard part – let it set in the fridge for a few hours. You’ll be glad you did, because it really allows the flavors to merry together. (Is it ‘merry’ or ‘marry’? Who knows/cares because I have tiramisu).

Anyway, get your forks out because I guarantee once you make this bad boy, you won’t want to share!

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing.

Perfect & Easy Tiramisu
Author: 
Recipe type: No Bake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is life-changing! A few simple swaps and easily accessible ingredients make it a real winner without sacrificing flavor or texture.
Ingredients
  • 24-28 ladyfinger cookies (I found mine at Whole Foods!)
  • ⅔ cup brewed & cooled black coffee
  • ¼ cup Kahlua or coffee liqueur
  • One (8 oz) tub whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2-4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipped cream (freshly made with 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped until stiff peaks form OR one tub (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed)
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Line a square 8x8" or 9x9" pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Mist lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brewed coffee and Kahlua. Dunk each ladyfinger, one at a time, into the coffee mixture and line the cookies up in the bottom of the pan - you should have 2 rows of ladyfingers with about 6 ladyfingers in each row. Break up any ladyfingers to fit if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the whipped cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer until fluffy and combined, about 1 minute. Fold in the whipped cream or Cool Whip gently. Spread half of this mixture over the ladyfingers.
  4. Repeat with dunking the remaining ladyfingers, lining them up, and spreading the remaining whipped cream mixture over top. Dust liberally with cocoa powder. Cover loosely and refrigerate until set, about 2-4 hours.

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing. This tiramisu is so flavorful, chocolaty and luscious with a fluffy whipped cream cheese filling and Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies.

This Perfectly Easy Tiramisu is exactly as the name suggests: SO SIMPLE. Layers of Kahlua-soaked ladyfinger cookies with a whipped cream cheese mixture and lots of cocoa powder! So simple and amazing. Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

Caramel Apple Layer Cake

Super flavorful Caramel Apple Layer Cake is easy and impressive! Two layers of moist, tender apple spice cake covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. A gorgeous cake that tastes even better than it looks! This Caramel Apple Layer Cake is bursting with flavor! With fresh apples swirled throughout the cake batter and a buttery caramel frosting, it’s a crowd-pleasing fall-favorite!

I have to say, I’m beginning to change my tune about layer cakes for one reason: the newfound appreciation for rustic-looking cakes.

If fondant and stuff was still a thing – much like Ugg boots with denim shorts or Charlie Sheen’s acting career – I would avoid it like the plague. But since everyone has loosened up on their fancy cakes, I have loosened my strict rule about never making layer cakes.

And you guys? It feels good to be free from those restraints, because this cake was worth it.

Sure, it’s not going to be on a Food Network cake challenge show (and I wouldn’t want it to be, anyway!), but that’s okay, because all the goodness is in the flavor of the cake, which is the most important thing, right? Haven’t you ever seen a gorgeous cake in the shape or likes of something but tasted it and it was dry and artificial-tasting? So anticlimactic.

Super flavorful Caramel Apple Layer Cake is easy and impressive! Two layers of moist, tender apple spice cake covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. A gorgeous cake that tastes even better than it looks! The cake starts out like a regular scratch yellow cake but gets amped up with the addition of fresh apples and lots of spice. Once it bakes and cools, you can assemble it – thankfully it is only two merciful layers – and frost it with the buttery caramel cream cheese frosting. I like that it is caramel + cream cheese because the cream cheese offsets the sweetness of the caramel some, and adds a nice, delightful tang.

Last thing you need to do (which I shouldn’t have to clarify)… EAT!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some lost time to make up with layer cake recipes.

Super flavorful Caramel Apple Layer Cake is easy and impressive! Two layers of moist, tender apple spice cake covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. A gorgeous cake that tastes even better than it looks! *cake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery cookbook

Caramel Apple Layer Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes/Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
This Caramel Apple Layer Cake has a moist and tender spice apple cake filled with creamy, buttery caramel cream cheese frosting. A delightful, easy layer cake recipe everyone will love!
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon, depending on how spiced you like it
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped, peeled tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • FOR THE FROSTING:
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup caramel sundae sauce
  • 4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 8 or 9" round pans with parchment rounds and liberally grease each pan. Set aside briefly.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla extract. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Alternate adding the dry mixture with the milk, ending with the milk, until the batter is smooth and blended. Stir in the apples.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist - not wet - crumbs. Cool completely in the pans.
  4. For the icing: in a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add in the confectioners' sugar, about one cup at a time, thinning the frosting out with the caramel sundae sauce if it becomes too thick. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
  5. Frost the layer cake in the middle and around the tops and sides of the cake. If you have remaining icing, you can pipe little details (like flowers or swirls) around the perimeter or edges of the top and/or sides of the cake. Finish with a little extra drizzle of caramel sauce.

Super flavorful Caramel Apple Layer Cake is easy and impressive! Two layers of moist, tender apple spice cake covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. A gorgeous cake that tastes even better than it looks! Moist, tender, flavorful spice cake chock-full of fresh apples and covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. There’s nothing better!

Super flavorful Caramel Apple Layer Cake is easy and impressive! Two layers of moist, tender apple spice cake covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. A gorgeous cake that tastes even better than it looks! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

 

Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS! These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars are so much easier than making cookies but have the same iconic cookie flavors you know and love. Packed with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, and lots of chocolate and miniature M&M’s, it is scary how good they are!

Since I work from home, I find that I don’t really put any effort into what I wear.

Some folks who work from home dress like they’re going to an office… but my “office” is the kitchen where everything has a flour or powdered-sugar residue and where eggs jump to their grisly death off of my kitchen counter. Wearing a skirt suit isn’t exactly wise in my position.

So every day (since it’s still hot as hell out), I usually wear denim shorts and a black shirt. Boring, easy, thoughtless. But I still continue to buy adorable retro-inspired dresses and pinup couture for my closet which looks more and more like a boutique every day as new packages roll in.

And yet – I never wear this stuff. But I want to. So lately I’ve been putting in the effort to dress up every day, even if I never step a foot outside of my apartment. Some of the dresses are more relaxed – like an oversize t-shirt – but some are fancy and twirly and fun. And you know what? I feel so much less schleppy and gross.

But it made me realize: classic shapes like my A-line dresses never go out of style, and neither do classic desserts. Enter: these Monster Cookie Bars which will always be top of the class. They start with a chocolate chip cookie-esque base that’s dressed up with hearty oats, creamy peanut butter, and miniature M&M’s candies to, jazzing them up with out-of-this-world flavor and great chewy texture.

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS! And because I’m all about a shortcut, these bars are so much easier to whip up than making drop cookies, yet are every bit as delicious.

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS! PS: they taste extra amazing when topped with a scoop of ice cream and lots of chocolate & caramel sauce. 🙂

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS!

Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15-18
 
These Monster Cookie Bars are supremely thick, chewy, hearty, and packed with amazing flavor from peanut butter, chocolate, and miniature M&M's candies! A must-try, and so much easier than making drop cookies!
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 & ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & ½ cups old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup miniature M&M's candies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" rectangular baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the peanut butter, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour and mix on low-speed until just barely combined. Beat in the oats, chocolate chips, and M&M's candies until just combined.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared baking pan evenly and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and set. Cool in the pan completely before cutting into bars.

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS! A quick and easy bar recipe that’s sure to please!

These Thick & Chewy Monster Cookie Bars taste just like your favorite monster cookie recipe but EASIER! Loaded with chewy oats, creamy peanut butter, gooey chocolate chips and crunchy mini M&M's, they're flavorful, thick, super chewy, and DELICIOUS! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls

Everyone will go crazy for these SECRET INGREDIENT Cinnamon Rolls! The magic ingredient makes the texture of these rolls unbelievably fluffy, tender and soft. A total crowd-pleaser!You won’t believe the magic secret ingredient in these Cinnamon Rolls! Extra fluffy, light and gooey, the extra ingredient contributes to this roll’s heavenly texture. You won’t go back to regular cinnamon rolls after you try these!

Okay, okay – in my defense, I was skeptical about these cinnamon rolls. When I read the recipe for them, I was perplexed and maybe a little iffy on even tasting them. But once I sunk my teeth into their light and airy texture and tasted all of that aromatic cinnamon and the incredible browned butter icing, I fell in love.

I am converted, y’all, and it’s a glorious thing.

I know you’re dying to know the secret ingredient, and that would be mashed potatoes. 

Yup, like the ones you serve with gravy on Thanksgiving day.

Regular ol’ mashed spuds are the magical ingredient to these extra fluffy cinnamon rolls, and your life will forever change when you take a bite just like mine did.

Now, because I am impatient and because baked potatoes and I have a long-standing rivalry, I confess: I bought prepared mashed potatoes at the grocery store. They’re usually in the prepared refrigerated foods section, often found lurking around rotisserie chickens and such in the deli. If you go this route: just make sure your potatoes aren’t seasoned! No one wants garlicky cinnamon rolls.

Everyone will go crazy for these SECRET INGREDIENT Cinnamon Rolls! The magic ingredient makes the texture of these rolls unbelievably fluffy, tender and soft. A total crowd-pleaser!Otherwise, you can get all Suzy Homemaker and bake your own potato or two and mash it yourself. I know baked potatoes are actually very easy to make, but we’re old enemies and I just don’t even bother with them anymore. It’s a long story, and next time I’m drunk, I’ll tell you about it.

ANYWAY, I digress. But from this point forward, I am so making these rolls because the mashed potatoes seriously make the rolls extra tender. They taste just like regular cinnamon rolls, yes – but the texture is where it’s at.

So if you’re bored this weekend, grab the leftover potatoes from the fridge and get baking! You won’t be sorry.

Everyone will go crazy for these SECRET INGREDIENT Cinnamon Rolls! The magic ingredient makes the texture of these rolls unbelievably fluffy, tender and soft. A total crowd-pleaser!*adapted from an old Better Homes & Gardens magazine

5.0 from 1 reviews
Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls are kinda-sorta AMAZING! No one will guess the top-secret ingredient that makes these rolls extra soft, tender and fluffy.
Ingredients
  • 4 & ¼ - 4 & ¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast (make sure it isn't expired!)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unseasoned, cooked & peeled mashed potatoes
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • FOR THE BROWNED BUTTER ICING:
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp whole milk
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 & ½ cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside briefly. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat and stir the milk, mashed potatoes, ⅓ cup butter, sugar, and salt until warmed and butter is just barely melted, about 120 degrees F. Pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl with the flour and add in the eggs.
  2. Beat with the dough hook attachment on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once combined, beat on high speed for 3 minutes, stopping the mixer to add in as much of the remaining flour as you can, saving some for kneading. NOTE: to avoid tough cinnamon rolls, use the flour conservatively, starting with the smaller amount and slowly adding where needed.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the remaining flour until dough is soft and elastic, about 3-5 minutes of kneading time. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the whole surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, roughly 45-60 minutes.
  4. Punch the dough down and turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13x9" rectangular baking pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
  5. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 18x12". Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough and sprinkle liberally with the brown sugar & cinnamon mixture. Starting from the long side of the dough, begin tightly rolling the dough into a roll. Pinch seams closed. Cut dough spiral into 12 equal pieces using either a sharp serrated knife or dental floss. Place the cut rolls into the prepared pan. Cover with another clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes).
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and they appear done in the center. Let set for 10 minutes before topping with the icing.
  7. For the icing: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once butter has melted, pay close attention as the mixture is prone to burning quickly. Watch the butter bubble, foam and fizz, stirring and swirling the pan often, until browned bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat when the butter is amber in color and nutty in fragrance. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl with the remaining icing ingredients and whisk to combine. Spread on top of still-warm rolls.

Everyone will go crazy for these SECRET INGREDIENT Cinnamon Rolls! The magic ingredient makes the texture of these rolls unbelievably fluffy, tender and soft. A total crowd-pleaser!I promise, you’ll flip for the nutty brown butter vanilla icing atop of these perfectly spiced and ultra fluffy cinnamon rolls!

Everyone will go crazy for these SECRET INGREDIENT Cinnamon Rolls! The magic ingredient makes the texture of these rolls unbelievably fluffy, tender and soft. A total crowd-pleaser! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

 

 

The BEST (and Perfect) Classic Apple Pie

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! This truly is the BEST, PERFECT Apple Pie recipe! A simple shortcut makes it quick to prepare, but the homemade, from-scratch apple filling is to-die for! Don’t forget the cinnamon whipped cream and caramel sauce!

I know I use the term “the best” a lot… and in every case, I believe it to be true! My built-in ratings system (family, friends, neighbors, strangers, my apartment’s office) love it and give me their critiques. If they don’t all love it, it doesn’t get “the best” title.

And this pie – it is no exception. It truly is my new go-to favorite apple pie recipe, and I hope it will be yours, too!

I know it’s a little early to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if you’re like me, you can never be too prepared. Or, if you’re like me, you bake apple pies all the time during the fall and winter. Consider this your new go-to!

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! What I love about this pie is that it uses a shortcut that will really help during the stressful time-crunch of holiday meal prep: refrigerated pie crusts. These things are a lifesaver in the kitchen, especially when you need appliances/counter space/everything else for other important components of your meal, like the turkey and sides. Of course, if you want to use your own homemade pie crust recipe, feel free!

The filling is the star here – made with two kinds of fresh apples, and lots of sugar & spice, the filling mixture thickens as it cooks and cools and has so much flavor.

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! Now pardon my slightly ghetto lattice crust, but truth be told, lattice crusts make me nervous since it requires lots of geometry and rocket science and stuff (or maybe I’m just really freakin’ stupid), so I made a mock lattice crust which I think looks just as pretty. Sprinkle on some coarse sugar before baking to really make this pie spectacular.

So whether or not you’re antsy for Thanksgiving, or you just want a slice of stick-to-your-ribs apple pie, save this recipe!

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe!

The BEST (and Perfect) Classic Apple Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
This truly is the BEST and most perfect Apple Pie recipe you'll try! The secret shortcut makes it a breeze to make.
Ingredients
  • 2 (14.1 oz) pkgs refrigerated pie crusts, almost to room temperature
  • 2 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • 2 lbs Gala or Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Coarse sugar for garnish
  • FOR CINNAMON WHIPPED CREAM:
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease a 9" deep dish pie plate with cooking spray. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the apples, sugars, spices, and salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then drain the apple mixture, discarding the liquid. Toss the apples with the cornstarch.
  2. On a flat, clean work surface, stack two pie crusts together and roll them out with a rolling pin until you get a 12"-13" circle. Gently drape the pie crust over the pie plate and pat in the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Fill with the apple mixture.
  3. With the remaining pie crusts, stack again and roll out to about a 10" circle. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1" strips. In a striped pattern, lay the strips a couple centimeters apart on the top of the apple surface. Brush the pie strips lightly with the egg wash. Going in a horizontal pattern, stagger the other pie strips and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle liberally with the coarse sugar.
  4. Tent the edges of the pie with foil or pie shields, and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 50-60 minutes more until the top is light golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
  5. To make your cinnamon whipped cream: with a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar and cinnamon together on high speed for about 5 minutes or until soft peaks form.

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! A classic, semi-homemade pie like this never goes out of style!

This truly is the BEST and most PERFECT Apple Pie recipe you'll try! A simple shortcut makes this semi-homemade pie a cinch to prepare! Gooey, flavorful, perfectly spiced, tender apple filling with a buttery sugar-sprinkled crust. Save this recipe! Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley