lemon-thyme shortbread cookies

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This was my first attempt at making shortbread cookies, and they turned out great! It was a little unusual working with a chalky dough that is more fragile than the traditional flexible dough, but the end results are well worth the extra effort. I love all shortbread, but the thyme and lemon zest in this recipe really makes it stand out.

This recipe called for some special utensils that I didn’t have, like a pastry blender and a pastry wheel, but I substituted things I had. Instead of a pastry blender, I used a fork to mix in the butter with the dry mixture. I confess it is an arm workout, but it can be done. Using a pastry blender will make your life easier.

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And I didn’t have a pastry wheel so I just used cookie cutters. It was a little difficult trying to remove the cookie cutter without breaking the dough, causing the shapes to be not as well defined as I would have liked, but they still turned out pretty well. And I would recommend cutting the cookies closer together than I did. I left a lot of space between them so I didn’t yield as many cookies as I should have. But all these notes are about presentation. No matter what utensils you use to make these, they will taste delicious!

I took these cookies to work for a mini tea party I threw on Friday afternoon. I love bringing people together, especially over tea and cookies. I even brought some of my great-grandmother’s china to work for the mini party.  Is it just me, or do things just taste better when they’re served on china? Paper plates and utensils just don’t cut it. Happy baking!

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homemade brownie bowls and butterscotch for ice cream

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On Saturday, I threw a baby sprinkle for my good friend, Kristine, for her second baby. She chose an ice cream social theme. So cute!

For the occasion, I made brownie bowls. I also bought waffle bowls as a backup in case the brownie bowls didn’t turn out. (It was a new recipe. You never know!) When my guests saw the waffle and brownie bowls, they asked, “Can we have both?” I thought, “Genius! Why hadn’t I thought of that?” This is why we’re friends. They take a good idea and make it great. So we added the brownie bowl inside the waffle bowl, and we had no regrets.

For ice cream, we served vanilla and chocolate flavors. The toppings included mini M&Ms, sprinkles, chopped mixed nuts, maraschino cherries, crumbled Oreos, Reece’s Pieces, strawberries, bananas, Torani’s dark chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and last but not least, the homemade butterscotch. The butterscotch was rich, and you could taste the butter and brown sugar in it. It was SO good!

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I mean, ice cream by itself is good, but then you add the homemade butterscotch, all the toppings, and voila, it’s ambrosia-of-the-Gods good. The butterscotch is really easy to make; it only contains 4 ingredients, and it lasts up to two weeks in the fridge. Also, it’s great to put over bananas for breakfast. Yum!

For the brownie bowls, you can use any brownie recipe (including brownie mixes). Follow the directions to make the brownies, and then, while they are still warm, take a tablespoon, carefully press down the middle, and allow them to cool. That’s basically it, though I do recommend spraying the bottoms of the muffin pan with oil but not the sides because you want the batter to stick to the sides to help create the bowl shape. Happy baking!

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For the punch, I combined Hawaiian punch, Sprite, and a splash of orange juice. Then added lemon slices and rubber duckies on top.

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key lime pie

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I prefer making things from scratch, but sometimes you just run out of time.  For the key lime pie, I bought a 10-ounce ready-made graham cracker crust instead of making my own. I feel a little guilty because I remember how delicious the homemade version is.  This key lime pie is one of my dad’s all-time favorite desserts. My mom has made this recipe on several occasions, and she agrees the crust is just as good as the filling, so even though I didn’t make my own crust, I included the graham cracker crust recipe. You won’t regret making it!

The key lime filling is super easy, and only takes about ten minutes to assemble. When baked, the filling has the consistency of a custard and has a nice balance of tartness and sweetness. And contrary to popular belief, key lime pie is actually yellow, not green. I should note that you don’t necessarily have to use key limes for this recipe; I used large conventional limes from the grocery store, and it turned out great! Enjoy!

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