Design to Dish: Peppermint Bark Thumbprints

christmas holiday cookie exchange swap recipe

One of my favorite things to do every holiday season is to make Christmas cookies; I can’t remember a single Christmas that didn’t involve lots and lots of flour, butter, and sugar. My family has a few all-time favorite cookie recipes that we make every year, but I’m always on the lookout for new, delicious Christmas treats to try out. A holiday cookie swap is the perfect place to discover dozens of amazing goodies in one fun-filled afternoon!

When I think of holiday flavor combinations, chocolate and peppermint jump out as a clear favorite. These Peppermint Bark Thumbprints start with sweet, buttery shortbread cookies, and are topped with two kinds of chocolate as well as a hefty sprinkle of crushed candy canes. They’re insanely delicious and pretty cute too, which makes them perfect cookie-swap material. Have you ever hosted a holiday cookie party? What show-stopping cookie would you bring this year?

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Design to Dish: Roasted Garlic Brisket

minted hanukkah dinner ideas brisket

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins in just two weeks! I’ve always, always wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I’m a fan of pretty much any and every holiday, especially one with beautiful, sparkly decorations, glowing candlelight, and incredibly delicious food.

Speaking of delicious food, this slow-cooked garlic brisket is a long-time family favorite and would be perfect for Hanukkah dinner. The recipe was given to my mom decades ago by a woman at church, and we’ve made it ever since when we need something a little more special than our usual pot roast. It is simple to make and tastes fantastic, as all good recipes should. Happy Hanukkah!

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Design to Dish: Harvest Pumpkin Muffins

By Melissa of  Lulu the Baker

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons. It happens during the fall, my favorite time of year, there are a million delicious things to eat, and it’s a simple holiday focused on family, love, and gratitude. I’ve always wanted to host a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner filled with mouth-watering food and beautiful details. Some of my favorites—including my grandmother’s delicious pumpkin muffins recipe (perfect for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning!)—are featured below.

thanksgiving breakfast harvest pumpkin muffins

I decided to go in a slightly new direction with the recipe for this post. When we think of Thanksgiving, we always think of dinner, but what about breakfast? For lots of us, Thanksgiving means house guests, and who wants to make a huge breakfast right before making a huge dinner? At the same time, something quick and easy like cold cereal isn’t quite special enough for a holiday or for out-of-town company. These delicious pumpkin muffins are a happy medium: they are quick and easy to make, and taste amazing. If you make the full recipe, there will be enough muffins to feed the army of relatives camped out in your living room!

Keep reading for the recipe…

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Design to Dish: Chocolate-Dipped Spiced Shortbread Cookies

By Melissa of Lulu the Baker

chocolate dipped spiced shortbread cookies

My October wedding anniversary might make me biased, but I just love fall weddings! Spring and summer tend to be the most favored, but autumn is a lovely and beautiful time of the year to get married, too. You can easily incorporate natural elements and rustic textures that are so season-appropriate, and I think fall strikes the perfect balance between cozy and glam—a fabulous combination for a wedding, don’t you think?

Today’s recipe, Chocolate-Dipped Spiced Shortbread Cookies, was inspired by the flavors of fall: warm, heart-warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, paired with rich, decadent chocolate. They are so irresistible! I meant to make a big batch to give to friends, but we ate them all by ourselves!

Keep reading for the recipe…


Design to Dish: Halloween Chocolate Sugar Cookies

chocolate sugar cookie cut outs halloween party ideas

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays—I love how the weather is a little cooler, the sky a little darker and moodier, the food comforting and cozy. Some people really go all in for creepy, gory Halloween stuff, but I prefer my Halloween whimsical, charming, and old-fashioned, and I love the idea of throwing a really wonderful, timeless Halloween party for friends and neighbors. My party would be full of pumpkins and treats, hay bales and cornstalks, and massive amounts of festive fall fun!

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved decorating sugar cookies (and eating them!). My kids love them too. It’s a great way to get in the spirit of whatever holiday is coming up. If you give the cookies a chocolate twist, they are even more perfect for Halloween! Chocolate sugar cookies cut out in fun Halloween shapes would be a great party favor for a Halloween or harvest party, or a fun party-time activity! Keep reading for the recipe…

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Design to Dish: Pink & Blue Oreo Pops

Written by Melissa of Lulu the Baker

boy or girl gender reveal baby shower party ideas recipes

Gender-reveal baby parties are all the rage these days! If you haven’t thrown one for a pregnant friend or had one thrown for you, then chances are you’ve probably attended one recently. Between the cute pink-and-blue decorations and the big-reveal moment, these parties—where you share whether you’re having a boy or girl with your friends and family—are tons of fun! Minted has lots of cute gender-reveal baby shower invitations, and I rounded up some really darling pink-and-blue party ideas to go with them. Balloons, confetti, cakes, flowers, and of course, treats galore—all in shades of pink and blue!

I started making Oreo pops a few years ago and couldn’t believe how easy and delicious they were! I made them to give away free with purchases at a pop-up shop I was participating in, and customers started coming by specifically to buy Oreo pops—they wound up becoming my most popular item! They’re just Oreos on a stick that’s dipped in candy melts, but somehow those humble ingredients come together to make a really adorable, gourmet treat. The combination of pink and blue Oreo pops looks especially cute together, and would go perfectly on a dessert table or as party favors at a pink-and-blue baby shower! Keep reading for the recipe…

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Design to Dish: The Best Red-Velvet Cupcakes

By Melissa of  Lulu the Baker

birthday party bridal shower girls night out theme

While I was browsing Minted a few months ago, I found this darling invitation for something called a “Red Velvet Revelry.” I love the idea of building a whole party around such a rich, decadent dessert! Everything about red-velvet cake is show-stopping, from the deep color to the delicious, tangy flavor. It’s the perfect centerpiece for a luxe birthday party, bridal shower, or girls’ night out, and it’s a great party theme that works any time of year.

After having a few not-so-stellar red-velvet cake experiences, I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cakes and cupcakes I ate were always dry and a little lacking in flavor. Then, I found a recipe for red-velvet cake that was tangy and rich, with subtle chocolate and buttermilk flavors, and everything changed! The cake baked up light and fluffy and moist—it changed my mind forever about red velvet cake! I’ve modified the recipe a little over the years and now have a go-to red-velvet cupcake recipe that is always a big hit! Read on for the recipe…

1. Red Velvet Revelry Invitations from Minted
2. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries from The Savage Feast
3. Gorgeous red and pink flowers via Style Me Pretty
4. Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below
5. Red and pink balloons via Snippet & Ink
6. Red Velvet Revelry party decor suite from Minted

red velvet birthday party bridal shower girls night out theme

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For the frosting:
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
cream or half-and-half

Line 30 cupcake tins with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and food coloring, and beat the mixture into the main bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, again beating until just incorporated. Repeat until all of the flour and buttermilk have been added. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar, then fold the mixture into the main bowl. Divide the batter evenly among all of the baking cups (I use my ice cream scoop!). Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until smooth. Beat in cream or half-and-half as necessary to reach desired consistency. When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them. You can either pipe on a thin layer of frosting, or spread it on with a frosting spreader.


Design to Dish: Applesauce Muffins with Caramel Glaze

Written by Melissa of  Lulu the Baker

fall autumn harvest party ideas

A few years ago, I read an article in a magazine about a family who planted espaliered apple trees around their garden fence and hosted a huge cider-pressing party each fall with their extended family. That’s pretty much the most perfect idea in the history of the world, don’t you think? I love autumn, I love parties, and I love apple cider, so a cider-pressing party really sounds like the perfect afternoon. Someday, I’m going to plant a big garden and with espalier apple trees all around the border and I’ll throw my own cider-pressing party, where you can all come drink fresh cider with me, eat delicious apple snacks, and enjoy the crisp, autumn air.

Speaking of apple snacks, these applesauce muffins coated in a luscious caramel glaze are ridiculously delicious. I made a batch for my kids’ after-school snack on their first day of school this year and I won’t tell you how many I ate (let’s just say it was roughly half the batch). The muffins are lightly spiced and lightly sweetened, and the buttery brown-sugar glaze is so good you’ll find yourself scraping the saucepan and eating it with a spoon! The applesauce muffins are sweet enough for dessert, but not so sweet that they can’t be perfect for breakfast or for a fall cider-pressing party! Keep reading for the recipe…


Design to Dish: S’mores Truffles

Written by Melissa of  Lulu the Baker 

glamping tipi dinner s'mores

Like many of you, I’m in denial that summer is quickly coming to an end. Luckily, the short shoulder season between summer and fall is absolutely dreamy! The days are still warm, while the nights are cool and there’s a little nip in the air. Which means now’s the perfect time of year to have a camping party! You can make it fun and kid-friendly with summer camp-themed games, or make it cozy and glamorous enough for an alfresco grown-up dinner party. Some s’mores, some twinkle lights…pure summer magic.

I got it into my head months ago that s’mores truffles would be a really awesome creation. But I didn’t just want to do jumbo marshmallows dipped in chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. I wanted to make actual truffles, complete with marshmallow-y ganache centers. After a little bit of research and some kitchen experimentation, I think we have a very delicious winning recipe! A rich, gooey, marshmallow center covered in creamy milk chocolate and a dusting of crunchy graham cracker crumbs. They’re the perfect party favors to send home with guests after your camping-themed party—a little bit of childhood of nostalgia with a grown-up twist. Read on for the recipe…

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Design to Dish: Sweet Potato Fries (With Printable Cone!)

Written by Melissa of  Lulu the Baker

summer birthday party ideas

I’m really excited to share today’s Design to Dish post with you! For most of my posts, I usually come up with a fun party theme to go with a Minted invitation, then find coolest coordinating party elements to share with you. But for this particular party, I actually got to put all my ideas into action! My littlest turned three years old on Saturday and we threw him a hot dog-themed birthday party inspired by the darling invitations (pictured above). It was so much fun and really easy to put together. For my kids’ birthdays, especially if they aren’t having a big party with friends, I tend to keep things low-key. A hot dog cookout is a great, low-stress, all-ages party theme that is tailor-made for summer, but could easily work all year round, which makes it just about perfect!

In addition to serving up grilled hot dogs, we decided to make some crispy sweet potato fries. My favorite way to have them is seasoned with a little bit of sea salt and some finely chopped rosemary. Presented in a classic red gingham paper cone, they make a perfect side dish for a hot dog cookout!

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