Nov 102014

day drinkingI recently ordered this “Day Drinking in the South” long-sleeved t-shirt from Shop Football Tees. It is a part of their fall collection and I am relying on long-sleeved tees to keep me comfortable and cozy now that the temperatures are dropping. I love the color combination– the green and hot pink are so cute together. This color is “grass green” and it is also available in “crimson” which is a washed, rusty red color. Very cute. Being a Lilly girl, the green and pink combo was an easy choice for me.

I wore this shirt the first weekend I had it. It’s very comfortable and perfect to relax in while still looking cute. It got me thinking about what a unique, laid back atmosphere the South really has. There has definitely been a surge in the popularity of “Sunday Fundays” and brunching with booze lately. Now, I am not saying this recent phenomenon is exclusive to the South, but it has certainly been embraced wholeheartedly down here! And what was the original day drink? The mint julep…

Mint juleps are bourbon-based drinks traditionally associated with horse racing, particularly the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday of each May in Louisville at Churchill Downs track. 120,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs over derby weekend. That requires over 1,000 lbs of mint leaves! Mint juleps just consist of simple syrup, bourbon, and mint. They are sometimes served in a silver or pewter julep cup, which frosts better than a regular glass and keeps it very cold.

Early Times is the bourbon of choice at Churchill Downs, but any kind can be substituted. Other popular bourbon brands include Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Makers Mark. They have special bottles made for the derby, as well as bottles of premixed juleps! That would be great for a party.


There are also flavored bourbons that would be neat to experiment with. Bird Dog makes a blackberry bourbon that I think would taste great with mint.

Bourbons are a type of whiskey, so if you have a favorite whiskey that is not a bourbon (like Jack Daniels or Crown Royal), you could also use that and it would not greatly affect the taste.

So, what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

  • A bourbon must be made in the United States.
  • A bourbon must contain 51 percent corn.
  • A bourbon must be aged in new oak charred barrels.
  • A bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
  • A bourbon must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.

I’m a whiskey lover (that is what happens when you live in Tennessee!) and I have been inspired by this shirt to take on the challenge of finding the ultimate mint julep recipe to share with you all, and I think I have done it! It was hard work to make and taste test so many yummy drinks, but someone has to do it, right?

 What You Need:

  • Old-fashioned (also sometimes called a rocks) glass or a traditional silver/pewter julep glass if you’re fancy. I’m not fancy.
  • 2 oz. Bourbon/whiskey of your choice
  • 2 oz. simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Mint
  • Muddler (or a spoon if you do not have a muddler)
  • Crushed ice



Start out by making your simple syrup. You can make more if you would like, it just takes equal parts sugar and water! It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month, so if you think you will be using a lot, go ahead and make more! This is used in a lot of different drink recipes.

Mix one cup of water and one cup of sugar over low heat on the stovetop until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is clear (stir frequently). Store in the refrigerator.


  1. Put mint leaves in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. I usually do a thin layer across the bottom, but if you love mint, add more! It is hard to extract a lot of flavor, so don’t be afraid to do extra.
  2. Pour simple syrup over the top of the mint leaves.
  3. Muddle. Muddling just means to crush the leaves to release the flavor. If you don’t have a muddler, the back of a spoon works fine.
  4. Fill the glass with ice (on top of the syrup/mint combination).
  5. Add bourbon.
  6. Stir, stir, stir!

That is it! Just three ingredients, a few steps, and you’re ready to enjoy this traditional Southern mixed drink.

Here are some things I stumbled upon while researching mint juleps and want to share:

Mint Julep Spoon from etsy

Kentucky Bourbon Trail tours

Yessss. Definitely going to check this out for a weekend trip.

Julep cups

Pretty reasonable options on Amazon, if you for whatever reason think you need a dedicated julep chalice.

My “Day Drinking in the South” shirt is available from Shop Football Tees, in these two colors!


Oct 242014

Cookie dough bars

Question: who loves raw cookie dough?! Answer: everyone. Who picks and chooses their bites of cookie dough ice cream to make sure they get the most pieces of cookie dough? Cookie dough is simply the best. However, some people pay attention to that pesky little warning on the cookie dough wrapper that reads “contains raw eggs; do not eat.” {I am not one of those people.} This is a recipe for bars of cookie dough, containing no eggs, and finished with chocolate ganache, making it totally acceptable to eat them by themselves!

This recipe is extremely easy, and actually a no-bake recipe, which makes prep time a breeze! Just mix the ingredients together, chill until firm, then prepare the ganache and pour over the top before returning it to the refrigerator to chill!

Things you need:

(for the filling)

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

(for the ganache)

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (not mini)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with parchment paper. I got so excited to make these the first time that I just used a glass pie pan. Doesn’t matter.
  2. Beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla.
  3. Alternate adding flour and sweetened condensed milk until blended and then fold in mini chocolate chips gently.
  4. Press cookie dough mixture into prepared pan and chill for at least three hours.
  5. After the mixture has sufficiently chilled, combine the heavy cream and semi-sweet chips in a microwave safe dish. Heat on high in the microwave for one minute, then remove and stir. Continue heating in 30 second increments, then stirring, as needed until completely combined.
  6. Pour the ganache over the bars and chill for at least one hour, or until ganache sets.
  7. Lift bars out of the pan using sides of parchment paper, slice, and serve

I don’t really have any good photos of the finished product, because as soon as they finished chilling, my fiance jumped in the pan…half of the bars were gone in minutes (yes, that is his fork in the last photo). I’ll try to get better photos next time (there will definitely be a next time) and update this post!


Jun 172014

If you’ve ever read my blog or looked at my instagram or twitter, you have probably figured out two things: I like cupcakes and I’m obsessed with Target.

So last weekend, I was browsing the aisles at Target and wandered down the baking aisle when I came across watermelon cake mix. For 66¢. Okay. Well duh, I had to buy it. It sounded a little strange, but hello. I also found some watermelon frosting that was 83¢. So now, for a whole $1.49, I had an interesting baking project.


(I already had these watermelon print cupcake liners that were $1 from Walmart!)

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I think these cupcake mixes were on clearance just because they sounded so strange…probably didn’t go over great. But for less than $2, what did I have to lose? So I went home and mixed them up.

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The verdict:

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They turned out VERY CUTE and were surprisingly pretty good! The cake mix has black specks in it (similar to funfetti) so it looks like seeds. The cake did not have much of a watermelon flavor; it was very subtle. The frosting had a stronger flavor and reminded me of watermelon saltwater taffy. I loved the liners I had to match and I think all in all, this was a very well spent $1.49.

May 272014

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If you like pina coladas…then you will love this cake. I hope that song is stuck in your head now, because it has been in mine ever since I made this cake.

Do people outside of the South make poke cakes? They should, because they’re amazing and SO easy. I never hear about people making them in other regions though, so maybe they don’t. The concept is simple, and delicious: make a cake (typically the recipe will call for a boxed cake mix– hello, easy), poke holes in the cake when it is fresh from the oven, pour gooey, delectable liquid over the cake and let it drip down in the holes of the cake. Amazing, ooey gooey cake. There are so many variations on this kind of cake and it is the kind of thing that gets EVEN better the longer it sits and soaks up liquid.

I made this cake on Mother’s Day for my mother and grandmother because it has been their favorite cake for years. They are both huge coconut/pina colada lovers and this is such a sweet, refreshing dessert. You can sprinkle coconut on top as well, but we usually skip that because my grandfather doesn’t like the texture of shredded coconut.

Annnnd, it gets better with age. It’s amazing the next day. Might make you cry after two. Will definitely after three. It’s just that good. A pretty cake it is not, but that’s okay.

what you need:


1 box of yellow cake mix and ingredients to make said cake (oil, eggs, water)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 can or bottle cream of coconut

1 tub Cool Whip for topping

coconut if desired (for top)


Bake cake according to directions on the box, in a 9×13 pan.




While the cake bakes, mix sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut together (my cream of coconut looks funny since it was in a squeeze bottle).


As soon as you get the cake out of the oven, poke a TON of holes in it. All over it. Tear it up.

Pour the mixture evenly over the cake and allow it to seep down in all the holes.


Put the cake in the refrigerator for a few hours and allow it to cool off before topping with Cool Whip. Like I said above, it really is better the next day or even two days later 🙂 the longer it has to soak up that sweet, coconutty mixture, the better!

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I hope you love this sweet Southern dessert!

Apr 132014


I love baking on Sunday mornings/afternoons. I go to an early church service so when I get home, it seems like the perfect time to whip something up.

We buy a lot of bananas because they make such quick, healthy, and portable snacks. Inevitably though, we have a few that get too ripe before we get a chance to eat them. We had several like that this morning when I was trying to decide what to bake, so I looked up banana nut bread recipes. Instead, I found Banana Chip Muffins, which sounded YUMMY and very easy.


At first, I made the recipe exactly according to the book, but while putting the chocolate chips back in the crisper (that is what a crisper is for, right?), I decided to throw in some white chocolate chips and pecans as well!

They turned out VERY GOOD. It tasted like banana nut bread but the chocolate chips and white chocolate chips gave it an extra sweetness and melty goodness. In my baking cabinet, I found some Mardi Gras-themed cupcake liners that I had forgotten about (oops), so I used them for a little added fun!


The original recipe is from the Taste of Home Baking Book and is posted below.


Banana Chip Muffins

Prep: 15 mins                                                                                          Bake: 20 mins @375°                                                                                        Yield: 1 dozen

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

3 ripe or overripe bananas

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, beat egg, oil and sugar until smooth.


Stir in mashed bananas. Add flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir all ingredients together until just moistened. Add chocolate chips. ** This is where I added white chips and pecans as well.**

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Fill greased muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing.

This recipe was extremely easy– especially if you have a stand mixer– but also easy if you don’t. It was very good too. I have a major sweet tooth and this really hit the spot without being completely unhealthy for me! Hope you enjoy!

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