Category Archives: Home & Hosting

I love revamping my home. I love hosting a fabulous dinner party. I love throwing beautiful celebrations for the people I love. Interior decorating, party planning & the little touches that make your style yours.

How To Throw a FABULOUS BackYard Bridal Shower

When your best friend gets married and she asks you to be the maid or matron of honor, you should go all out for her special day.  Your most demanding job will probably be throwing your bride to be a bridal shower.  This celebration is all about her. It’s a time to gather all her female friends and family and celebrate the woman she is and the woman she’ll be as a wife. The months leading up to a wedding are an emotional roller coaster. Brides experience happiness, excitement, frustration, sadness, worry and anxiety.  The bridal shower is a unique event. It’s doesn’t compare to the grandness of the actual wedding and it’s on a different level than the girl party of a bachelorette.  The bridal shower is your chance to show her how much she means to you and all those that know her.

When planning my best friend’s bridal shower I had amazing help from her mom and sister who was the other maid of honor.  It was such a great bonding experience for us and I grew even closer to the most important women in her life. We came together with loving intention and the upmost attention to detail.  Here are a few of my tips for throwing a FABULOUS backyard bridal shower. It was not cheap but it was worth it for one of our favorite girls.

1. Figure out who’s house you can use for the shower and make sure the backyard can fit your vision. It’s best to use yours, the mother of the bride or a close family member. That way you can come and go as you please. You can make all the decisions without worrying about the home owner disapproving of what you want. You can guarantee the venue will be just the way you intend it to be. And it will be free! But keep in mind that you want your guests to be comfortable. A tent is a great idea as it protects from the elements because you can only guess what the weather will be like. You don’t want to get stuck in a bad situation if it rains or the temperature is too hot.

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2. Don’t tell her much about it. Let it be a surprise. Tell her what color to wear, what time to be there and ask her for the guest list. Other than that listen to her likes and dreams for her wedding and re create a spin off that is just as beautiful but slightly different.Let her relax and not worry about this specific part of the wedding process. Is she a modern or classic bride? What’s her favorite flower? What do you want her to see when she walks through the doors and lays eyes on all the work you have done to make sure she is in awe? Think about who she is to you and find the inspiration to create something perfect. (My bride talked about a coffee bar she saw somewhere so I added that to her shower. I also wanted to give her something to keep with a little message from her guests so I had people write a memory or something they liked about the bride and pin in to a cute cork board)

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3. Write down your vision and execute it one item at a time. Need inspiration? Use pinterest. There are so many beautiful things that can inspire you there. From food to decor to meaning full words. You can find great ideas and so much can be ordered from Etsy.

4. Start buying things a little at a time leading up to the day.  My BFM (best friend’s mom) did this and I think she was right on. She started stocking wine and paper wear, buying utensils and ordering food. That left the week before for the last minute things we forgot and the food purchase and pickup. It wasn’t overwhelming and we felt prepared leading up to the event.

5. FOOD! What’s a party without great food? Choose something you know you can accomplish both physically and financially. Food is expensive and you should figure out your budget early on so you avoid surprises and last minute splurges that you regret later.  It also can be overwhelming to prepare. We asked a few of our closest girls to bring a dish we designated to them. We also ordered a few signature items from a local caterer. And a couple talented friends/family made some beautiful cupcakes, heart shaped rice krispies and little parfaits.  We decided that dainty finger foods and pretty salads were easy and they fit in with the look we were going for. We did mac and cheese cups, caprese kabobs, fruit, heart shaped cheese, tea sandwiches and salads. For drinks we served only white wine, lemonade and infused water.

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6. Wake up extra early the day of. Don’t assume that a few hours is enough time. If you are someone similar to me, you really need things to be perfect for the people you love. You’ll think a couple hours is enough to set up but what if it’s not? What if a few things go wrong?  Give yourself at least 6 hours pre start time to get everything set up.  If you’re done early you’ll have more time to get ready, relax and/or enjoy a few laughs with the rest of your bridal shower team.  Having too much time is absolutely better than running out of time. (We started 8 hours before the start of the event and I still ran 15 minutes late.)

7. Make sure the little touches are focused on. The perfect flower arrangement and a few pieces that tie into the theme, as well as a memory for the bride, can really be the difference between a fabulous meaningful shower rather than a cookie cutter shower. Don’t just add pieces to add pieces. Get creative. Make sure that they compliment the overall look. I found so many pieces in my house that went with our theme. Candles, vases and picture frames were among them. That’s a great way to save a few bucks. But in my personal opinion the most important decor is the flowers. They are beautiful and they represent new and fresh beauty.  They are classic yet can be arranged in a trendy way if needed. Shop whole flower markets. Google and yelp to find the closest one to you. Pick them up the morning of the shower and give your self time to arrange them. don’t underestimate the time if takes. The pop of color or the drama of all white will add so much to the perfect bridal shower.

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8. Take plenty of pictures before the bride arrives. Make sure you get enough because she probably wont remember to capture all the details and she’ll want to look back and remember. Trust me. She’ll take pictures with the people there, but you should take pictures of everything that makes up this beautiful day. Get up close and use your amateur photog skills to get some cool shots focusing on the details.

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9. Toast the bride. Tell everyone what she means to you. Let her know how important she is to your life. Speak from the heart, tell a funny short story and explain what this moment and her soon to be marriage means to you.  Your words will stick with her and the look on her face when everyone raises their glasses to honor her will stick with you.

10. And last but not least, make sure you have a few trusted people to help you clean up. A group of 5 can tackle the aftermath so much quicker than you can by yourself. You will be so happy you have others to share the last bit of responsibility with. 2 is better 1 and 10 is so much better than 2. Keep that in mind. (We had so many flowers and with a few special women helping us out we got everything taken down and the flowers distributed amongst us all in less than an hour.)

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I hope you can find everything you need to make your special girl’s bridal shower everything you think she deserves. I hope she walks through the doors and smiles and cries because she loves it so much. Make her feel like the luckiest girl in the world. That’s your job as her maid of honor and the host of her bridal shower.

I hope you’ll PIN from this post to share a little advice on how to throw a Fabulous BackYard Bridal Shower!

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Xo,

Chelsie

…And to my best friend’s mom and her little sister/maid of honor, thank you for allowing me to be such a big part of this day and for wanting it to be just as perfect as I did. And thank you for not getting mad at me for being an obsessive perfectionist who needed every little thing to be just right. I love you and I feel like I got closer to you both with all the time we spent together. I’m grateful for those moments.

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Coffee Table Decor: Pop of Summer

I love spending some time on the weekends watching HGTV, buying fresh flowers and rearranging/decorating my apartment. My home is a place I love spending time in. It’s calm, pretty and relaxing here and I take pride in it. As seasons change I like to change decor. Adding pops of color or texture are a couple of my favorite ways to spice up my living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. Books, candles and accent peices are a few things that I always incorporate. Today, I decided to update my coffee table as summer quickly approaches. I’m into symmetry, color schemes, interesting shapes and gender neutral reading material.  Fresh flowers, gold peices and magazines are a few of my fave add ons. Here is today’s simple yet fabulous apartment coffee table design. Just in time for the #SummerYourHome challenge on Instagram.

What’s on your coffee table these days?

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15 Ways to be More FABULOUS in 2015

As I thought about my new years goals and what I wanted to change in 2015, there was one common theme.  I want to be more Fabulous!  Now what fabulous means… that’s were it gets tricky.  The definition of fabulous is: of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature.  I think being fabulous is an entire way of life.  It’s the way you think, act, react and live. It’s the way you take care of yourself, carry yourself and believe in yourself.  It’s intelligence, it’s beauty, it’s positivity.  It’s doing what you love and loving what you do.  I decided to come up with 15 ways to be more fabulous in 2015 and I wanted to share them with all of you.  Every year I work on becoming a better version of myself and this year in particular, I’ll work on making my life absolutely fabulous.

These are 15 things that I have chosen for myself. Some are about appearance because lets be honest, feeling good about the way you look does wonders for your confidence. Some are character building because doing a little soul searching is what everyone needs. And others are for creating a more well rounded me!

1. Take more weekend trips- Trips rejuvenate us and also give us something to look forward to. My husband and I live very busy lives.  Sometimes we forget about the importance of just being.  So we have decided that every other month we will take a weekend trip to get away and be with each other.  Every time we’ve done this in the past we have renewed the passion, love and fun in our relationship.  This year we will make an extra effort to spend time away together.  The months that I don’t go away with my husband, I will go away with my girls. Whether it be for a night or two, I want to spend some quality time with them.  We are wives and/or mothers and we are busy with work.  We miss each other and I vow to do the girls nights and sleepovers because I’m a happier person when I do.  My friends and sister are my true soul mates and our time together is never time wasted.

2. Try new kinds of fitness- I’ve been a runner for two years now.  I have spent the majority of my fit life, running and running and doing more running.  After running a marathon in November 2014, I’ve decided that this year I’m stepping back from long distance (although weekly runs are still on my schedule), I’m trying new things. Yoga, kick boxing, spinning, weight lifting and more are on my agenda. I encourage this in everyone because it is so easy to get bored with your fitness routine. The key is to mix it up so you continue to stay excited and look forward to what’s next.  Take classes with your friends, go on hikes, create new challenges and goals. Fitness is a must if you want to live a fabulous life.

3. Keep your nails done- Often when people think about nice nails they think about nail salons and pricy manicures but that doesn’t have to be the case.  You can give some TLC to your nails all on your own.  I feel like nails can give you a little glimpse into someones life. Plain nails can indicate the natural type or the too busy type.  Nails that are chipped can say “I once cared but now I don’t. I’m too lazy to fix the problem so I just won’t.” There’s just something about a well manicured hand that screams fabulous!  Everyone can see your hands.  You look at them every day.  Take care of them. Pamper them and for goodness sakes, beautify them! Whether it be a simple mani with a natural color or nail-tastic bright color that puts you in a good mood, just keep your nails done.  I go through phases with my nails.  I’ll go months without any polish or cuticle care.  Then I’ll be obsessive over it all.  This year, I’m making it a part of my bi weekly routine to pamper my nails.

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4. Take extra care of your hair and skin- Hair can really take you from feeling average and dull to extraordinary and fabulous.  A good head of hair can do wonders for your confidence.  It can be one of the most important accessories you have.  So cut it regularly, stay up on your color if that’s what you do, and wash it!  (There’s nothing worse than greasy hair and parts on it’s own.) Style your hair instead of always putting it up in a bun or ponytail. Curl it or straighten it or braid it or enhance the natural characteristics that make it so unique. But above all else, nurture it. I have never been daring when it comes to my hair.  I’ve been boring. I’ve waited too many months between coloring and cuts, and the gray hair and split ends are proof. 2015 will be different for me. Another important aspect of our confidence is our skin. Many of us have problems with ache, wrinkles and/or dark spots. Some of us are luckier and don’t struggle with these things as much.  Whatever your skin is like, do what you need to do to preserve its beauty and health. Drink water, eat well and find the products that work for you. This year I plan to get facials and spend more time researching the products and foods that will work to keep my skin beautiful. I’ll also be trying a few home remedies from this great article.

5. Focus on preventative health- Too many people wait until something goes wrong to really look at their health.  Are you living a healthy lifestyle?  I’m not talking about running miles everyday and eating a salad for dinner every night.  I’m talking about overall health.  Are you going to the doctor for check ups?  Do you see your dentist every 6 months?  Are you feeding your body well?  Are you controlling your stress levels?  Are you getting enough physical activity as well as sleep?  All of these things are so important and they do wonders for the way we feel about ourselves.  So try thinking more about preventing illness and injury this year.

6. Read books about fabulous women- Embrace aspects of their lives. Be inspired by their stories. Find pieces of their style that you can recreate in your wardrobe. Learn about their struggles and how they overcame them. And most importantly, appreciate the fact that they were and are fabulous women! Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, Eve Ensler, Marilyn Monroe and Carrie Bradshaw are a few of my favorites.

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7. Gain perspective- So many of us live in our own little world.  One in which we are used to our routine and our lives.  There is so much out there for us.  So many people to meet, stories to hear, places to travel and volunteering to do.  I encourage it all. Talk to a stranger and listen to their story. Go somewhere and see something you haven’t yet. And go out and help someone. In the end perspective helps build character and it makes us appreciate our lives.

8. Surround yourself with Fabulous people- You are who you hang out with right?  Encourage positive attitudes and lead by example.  Find people who share your mindset and goals. Talk about the appeal of hard work and success. Give compliments and help make others feel confident about themselves. Share vacation ideas, restaurant reviews and new life enhancing ideas that have worked for you.  But be careful not to be forceful or obnoxious.  No one likes someone who tells others how to live their lives.

9. If you are a dog person, make them fabulous too- Love them, train them, treat them to good food, dress them in pretty things (if you like that kind of thing).  Your animals are a big reflection on you.  If they are well behaved and well groomed that says something about their owner.  Dogs make our lives better so we should make their’s fabulous.

10. Wear more Pearls- There’s no explanation for this. Pearls are just FABULOUS! They can make any outfit a little more Fab.

11. Update your panty/pajama wardrobe- Throw out the old underwear and your grandma pajamas and replace them with a few pairs of grown woman, sexy sheik and flirty fun.  I am so guilty of holding onto underwear that have a hole, are faded or that I’ve owned for half a decade.  “They still do the job” is my way of thinking, but I don’t feel sexy or fabulous in those old pairs.  And my pajama game is weak.  Old sweat pants, t-shirts and many pairs of flannels that have shrunk and are now high waters!  They are horrible.  My husband really loves them, sike!  I just went through my drawers and through out all my old stuff. We all should pick up a few pairs of new panties. Add a new pajama set to your drawer every once in awhile. Slowly, or quickly, let go of all that old crap.  You are a grown and fabulous woman and your intimates should show that!

12. Spend time on your HOME- This is the place where you spend much of your life.  You sleep there, eat there, love there and relax there.  It should be a place that reflects your style.  It should be a place you’re proud of.  Your home is yours and it should look like you.  Decorate to show your personality. Keep it clean and organized. Create comfy rooms that you look forward to being in. Hang pictures, add color, find unique pieces and most importantly make it a place that helps you live better.  I love Home Goods, Target and Hobby Lobby for my home decor.

13. Eat great food in amazing places- Experience the food of different cultures. Dine in pretty restaurants, sit in unique coffee shops, go somewhere just to eat something you’ve never tried before. No matter if you love it or hate it, the experience will be worth it. Remember the tastes and textures. Take in the color and presentation. Enjoy it with the best of company.  Food is a fabulous part of life and it should be enjoyed with good drinks and better people.

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14. Learn how to do what YOU want- A very important lesson that many of us need to learn and embrace is to say NO. If you don’t want to go there or do that, then don’t. Say No when something doesn’t interest or benefit you. Say No when you’re not in the mood to be around those people. Say No when someone suggests something to you that you don’t like. Just say NO whenever you feel the need to.  So many of us are yes people. We try to help everyone, make them happy, look like superwoman, be easy going, spend time doing what others want us to do. You should always be #1 to you! Period.

15. Save Money- This is probably the most important thing on this list.  I know I’ve listed some things that require spending but the amount of spending is strictly up to you.  There are so many blogs and people out there that show you how to be fabulous for less. I saw this on a friend’s Instagram recently: Shout out to @polishedpractical_style

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Her comment included this quote: “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means. -Calvin Coolidge.”  People who save money are responsible.  They are conscious of their futures, the emergency situations that can arise and the fact that they are the only ones who can create a secure life for themselves. Someone who has it together and doesn’t try to live a lifestyle that they can’t afford, is someone to admire. Responsibility with a little risk is Fabulous in my book!

So there they are. 15 things I’m working on this year to be more fabulous than ever before.  This is my last year in my 20’s and I plan on going into my 30’s with a FABULOUS bang!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for the new year.

Xo,

Chelsie

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First picture of the New Year!

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AMAZING Gluten Free Rolls

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My dad has been insistent on me figuring out a perfect gluten free roll recipe.  I found one recipe and it was horrible so I didn’t have high hopes for my second try but I nailed it!  These were amazing.  We had them on Super Bowl Sunday with Jambalaya.  We haven’t had a homemade roll in a long time and these were just perfect.  They were still good a few days later too.  Warm them up, add butter and enjoy!

Things You’ll Need:

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups warm milk

2 TBSP active dry yeast

3 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix:  The one I used combined the following (Brown Rice Flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, potato starch, and xanthan gum)

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4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Prepare the muffin tins by using butter or oil to grease each tin and then add flour to each as well.

What to Do:

In one bowl, whisk sugar into warm milk.  Add yeast and whisk until it’s dissolved.  Set aside to let yeast begin to work.  It will begin to foam up.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

photo (1)In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat together eggs, vinegar and oil. Add the yeast mixture and mix.  Then add flour mixture and beat on low until combined.  Beat on high for 2 more minutes.

Add dough into muffin tins.  Fill them 3/4 full. Dip a knife in extra flour and slit the tops of each roll.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Let rolls rise for about 40 minutes. (I set them on top of the oven while it was preheating.)

After 40 minutes brush the tops of the rolls with butter and put in the oven for 20 minutes.  Check them to make sure they don’t brown too quickly. If they do loosely cover with tin foil.

Once they’re done remove them from the tin.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did!  Just because you’re G-Free doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous homemade rolls!

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Honey Jack Daniel’s Gluten Free Cupcakes

My husband isn’t a huge fan of sweets other than German Chocolate Cake and since my mom made it for him this weekend I had to get creative for his birthday dessert this year.  I decided on Honey Jack Daniel’s Cupcakes.  My husband is a lover of Jack Daniel’s so this seemed perfect!  I made these Gluten Free and they were AMAZING!

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What you’ll need for the Cupcakes:

Cupcake Liners

12 tsp butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

3 Tbsp milk

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The two most important ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What To Do:

-Preheat over to 350 degrees

-Mix butter and sugar until fluffy

-Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix

-In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  Add this to the wet mixture and beat until combined

-Add the whiskey and milk and mix until well combined

-Put cupcake liners in a 12 cup muffin pan.  Add batter evenly in each

-Bake for 16-20 minutes and test with a toothpick.

-The tops of these cupcakes will be somewhat hard but make sure the middle is done.

-Cool

What you’ll need for the Frosting: (If you are just going to spread on frosting rather than pipe it on, I would use half of these ingredients.  Im not a huge frosting fan so I used half the ingredients and still had plenty.)

24 tsp butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

1/4 cup heavy cream

What To Do:

-Cream butter until fluffy and slowly add the powdered sugar

 -Add vanilla extract and whiskey and combine

-Add the heavy cream a little at a time until the frosting is the right texture

-I used the back side of a spoon to spread on the cooled cupcakes but if you want them to look prettier you can use a icing tip and pipe the frosting on

What you’ll need for the Drizzle:

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

What To Do:

 Combine all ingredients in a small pan and heat until boiling. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.  Once cooled drizzle on top of cupcakes.

 

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.  If you are not a fan of Jack Daniel’s these are not for you.  But if you are, don’t eat too many. You might get drunk! 😉

Yay for another Gluten Free Success!

 

 

 

 

 

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Gluten Free Spiced Eggnog Bundt Cake

I have started experimenting with Christmas desserts and this bundt cake is amazing!  It is another dessert that does not taste gluten free and it’s perfect for the Holidays.  Eggnog plus Spice is delicious!

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What You’ll Need:

Bigger sized bundt cake pan

1 cup softened butter

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups Betty Crocker All Purpose Gluten Free Rice Flour Blend

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup eggnog

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. heavy whipping cream for the glaze.

What to do:

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees

– Grease and flour the bundt cake pan

– Beat the softened butter until creamy.

– Add in sugar gradually

– Add in eggs one by one mixing after each until yolk is blended

– In a separate bowl combine the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt.  Add into wet mixture.  Also add the eggnog. (Alternate between the flour and the eggnog starting with the flour).  Stir until smooth.

– Add in vanilla extract

– Pour half the batter into the bundt pan.

– Add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves into remaining batter.  Then spoon on top of plain batter.

– Swirl the batters with a fork.

– Bake for 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean

– Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.

– Combine powdered sugar and heavy cream.  Heat in microwave for 15 seconds.

– Drizzle over cake in whatever pattern you want.

– Eat and Enjoy!

The Holidays are definitely the time of year to enjoy desserts.  I hope your Christmas is full of sweets and love!

xo,

Chelsie

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake Roll

This is my last dessert post of the Fall.  And I’ve saved the best for last!  This very yummy cake roll is perfect for Thanksgiving dessert if you wanted to do something a little different.  I will be baking many of these today in preparation for tomorrow’s big festivities with family.  I wish you and your family the very happiest Thanksgiving!

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What You’ll Need:

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup pure pumpkin

3/4 cup gluten free flour (use regular flour if you’re not gluten free)

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon softened butter

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

1 clean, non-fuzzy dish towels

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The Process:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.  Mix eggs with a whisk until they turn light in color and somewhat fluffy.

3.  Add in the sugar and whisk together for a minute or so.

4.  Add in the pumpkin and vanilla and whisk together until smooth.

5.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients and add them to the wet mixture.

6.  Mix together until all ingredients are well combined.

7.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease.

8.  Pour the batter into the lined pan.

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9.  Bake for 12 minutes, until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the paper.  It will feel spongy.

10.  Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, then sprinkle powdered sugar over a clean (non fuzzy) dishtowel.

11.  Turn the cake over onto the sugared towel and remove parchment paper.

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12.  Roll the cake and towel together.  As you can see I like to keep mine in perfect place using a few spatulas 🙂

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13.  Let the cake cool in the towel for an hour.

14.  Whisk together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powered sugar.  (You will need to make sure the cream cheese and butter is soft enough to mix.)

15.  Unroll the cake very gently and spread the filling as evenly as you can.  Leave a little border around the edges exposed.

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16.  Gently roll up the cake again without the towel.

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17. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until it’s ready to serve.  When ready, unwrap and sprinkle with powered sugar.

Enjoy this very yummy gluten free dessert!  It is another one that absolutely does not taste gluten-free.  No one will notice.  Promise!

xoxo,

Chelsie

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