Friday Things

Time for an installment of Friday Things:

1. You’re a better baker and definitely more organized than I am if you have time for an 18 Layer Red Velvet Cake

Sounds amazing and I’d love a slice. That someone else made.

2. Thanks to The Kitchn for featuring my Cranberry Bliss Bars. If you make one new holiday or seasonal dessert this year, my vote is for the Bliss Bars.


I also made Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies which are a slightly less decadent form of Bliss Bars, in cookie form. Cranberry and white chocolate is a perfect pairing for me.

3. These Be Present Long Versatility Pants, $71 – I am digging the color.

I’ve posted many times over the years about my love for Be Present, especially their pants. I have five pairs of the Mobility Pants, some with Lotus embroidery, some without, and in a variety of colors. I wear one pair every day, and I’m not kidding.

They dry in minutes, they’re light as a feather yet surprisingly rugged, and I travel in them whenever possible.I’ve been known to wash them out in hotel bathrooms and hang them up to dry overnight and be good as new the next day. And drawstrings are a bonus.

4. Want the secret to the best pancake recipe?

Cooks Illustrated made over 1000 pancakes in order to determine the best possible combination of ingredients and both buttermilk and baking soda are instrumental. They concluded that, “Pancakes made without baking soda not only lacked color, they lacked flavor, tasting unacceptably bland. The pancakes leavened with both baking powder and baking soda cooked up deeply golden with rich, nutty flavor.”

I love all the recipe testing and detective work they do which is why The New Best Recipe Cookbook is one of my most-used and trusted cookbooks.

5. Ina Garten doesn’t think of herself as a good cook. Jump to the last line in this article where she also shares baking tips and traditions.

And I would have given my right arm to be one of bloggers who were with her for this event.

6. Speculaas (Molded Ginger) Cookies – Biscoff Cookies, Biscoff Spread, and Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Spread are all relatives of Speculaas cookies.

“A specialty of the Netherlands and Belgium, these are cousins of gingerbread, only lighter and more delicately spiced. They’re also showstoppers, thanks to the intricately carved wooden molds used to make them, which form the cookies into images of characters and symbols from stories about Saint Nicholas, or Sinter-klaas, whose name day, December 6, kicks off the Christmas season in that part of the world.”

I’m currently in Aruba, a Dutch island, and the local store shelves are overflowing with speculaas cookies. Although they’re available year-round, they’re in abundance right now. At some point, I’d like to try the Saveur recipe and make my own.

7. Or just use this Dutch Cookie Butter

And make Cookie Butter Spread Ginger Molasses Cookies (No Bake, Vegan, with GF option) – No-bake cookie bites that come together in minutes when you can’t be bothered to turn on the oven or are too busy with all the other holiday hub-bub for yet another baking and roll-out project.

8. I want this Brooklyn Epiphanie Backpack Camera Bag, Brooklyn in Mustard $224.99 – Made for a DSLR, 2 to 3 lenses, and a laptop

“Meet Brooklyn – our stylish new backpack/crossbody bag! Brooklyn was designed to accommodate your 15″ laptop, iPad or tablet/eReader, camera + attached lens, 1 long lens, 1 short lens, flash, battery pack and wallet. Extra pockets ideal for storage of keys, cell phone, memory cards, business cards, travel maps and more.”

However, I love-love my Case Logic SLRC-206 SLR Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack (Black) bag, $73.30 – the best deal ever.

The backpack has been with me to Mexico City, San Francisco, Aruba three times, Babados and has logged tens of thousands of miles in overhead bins, dirty airports, and assorted hotel room floors and doesn’t show a lick of wear or tear.

I travel with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II a, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens, and my 17-inch MacBook Pro and it fits perfectly, with some room to spare. Although the bag technically specifies it fits a 15-inch notebook, my 17-inch fits like a glove. Although I feel like a pack mule when the bag is loaded and slung over my back, I couldn’t travel without it.

9. 12-Piece Le Creseut Bakeware Set, $219.95 at Willams-Sonoma, which I think is an absolute steal and available in six colors.

I’d buy the cutting board in this picture if I could, too. I have a thing for old wood boards.

10. This White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle sounds so good.

I’d like to eat a white chocolate and peppermint cookie and then wash it down with Peppermint White Hot Chocolate. Clearly I have a thing for that flavor pairing, and for white chocoalte and cranberries, but they’re combos that aren’t exactly popular in July so I’m taking full advantage now.

What are your Friday Things? Doing any holiday baking this weekend? Any favorite cookie, cake, or holiday recipes? Seasonal foods or flavors you’re especially enjoying lately?

Fun items you have your eye on for the holidays from cute pants to pots and pans to bags?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for two delicious giveaways over the weekend!


  1. I’ll take a closer look of those bliss-bars! Never heard of them. That backpack is too perfect to exist, if I only needed one!! My boyfriend is speculoos’addicted.. These friday posts you make I find very inspiring. But then again i really like your site generally! My absolute favourite is my fireplace. Whitout it we would be freezing :) it’s snowing like crazy here in Geneva!

    • Hi all the way from Geneva! Another reader said hi from Italy today – what a global village we all live in. Glad you like the Friday posts and inspiration and my site in general – you’re so sweet! And if you’ve ever made speculoos and have a fave recipe, LMK!

  2. I also am very fond of white chocolate and cranberry combo as well as white chocolate mint combo. In fact, I was looking for recipes with white chocolate and mint this morning and found that same bark recipe! I agree that the price for 12-piece Le Creseut set is a steal! (The cutting boards in the picture are fabulous!) Have a great weekend Averie.

  3. Congrats on the bliss bar feature, so cool! They look delicious and I’m definitely making them the second I can get my hands on some cranberries, they’re a bit difficult to find in Italy. Thanks for linking to the pancake article as well, fascinating and I can’t wait to read it. I’m not planning on doing any proper holiday baking this weekend, but I am planning on making myself a big ol’ gingerbread latte for my Sunday morning brunch. One of my favorite holiday treats!

    • Thanks for reading all the way from Italy! If you are able to get dried cranberries, I hope you can try them! Other dried fruit, like dried blueberries could work – but cranberries are just so unique and perfect in the bars! LMK if you make them!

  4. Oh mah gosh, that cake! I’m with you…I’ll take a slice as long as someone else makes it for me. :) Speaking of making it for me…how about making me some of those cranberry bliss bars!!! :-D WOW! And YUM!
    The photo with Ina Garten…how lucky!!

  5. Neither my credit card nor my waistline are safe around your blog today! want everything!! But especially the Le Creuset set and the red velvet cake.

  6. Check out this awesome looking cookie dough dip – right up your alley.

  7. That camera bag kiiiiilleth my soul.

  8. Oh my, that red velvet cake looks to die for! And I love the snippet you added about the baking soda in pancakes. I love learning all about the chemistry behind baking and how all of the ingredients do their thing. :)

  9. That cake is awesome but I don’t think I have the patience to make it either:-) And I am loving those awesome camera bags too!!!

  10. That tower of red velvet cake looks irresistible, but it’s definitely not happening in my little toaster oven!! The cranberry bliss bars are happening this afternoon though! I have a cute little fluted tart pan to bake the base in. My husband cut his thumb on a table saw (here at home) at the end of September and just returned to full police duty today….so these will be his “welcome back” treat tonight. He’s lucky to have all of his thumb intact and it has healed nicely. Congratulations on having your recipe featured–I know we’re going to love them!

    • Oh Paula, that is dedication making them in a toaster oven and a little tart pan, great idea! Heat-safe and small enough! I bet a glass pie plate would work too but the tart pan sounds even better. And what a nice treat for your hubs and glad he’s okay, but finger cuts are the absolute worst! Please LMK how you like the bars, toaster oven and all. You amaze me!

  11. Avery, you made me want to make that cake! I just need to find someone to share it with, or three of us would have to change our wardrobe soon… :) Husband already requested less baking, not that he doesn’t like it. Just when it’s there it’s really hard to resist. But cake does look fantastic and worth trying…
    I love that yellow camera bag, yellow is one of my statement colors.
    I hear you, I want that cutting board too, and not just that one. I think an old piece of wood has something enigmatic in it…

    • Old wood – tells such stories. And I could collect old dough boards if my budget would allow. LOVE them!

    • Speaking of old wood, about couple of weeks ago I bought an old oak coffee table. It was all dusty, covered in cobweb, and lady asked me about four times if I really want to buy it (she was selling it for… don’t hate me… 10 bucks!). I assured her that I want it, but she was all apologetic and somewhat uncomfortable. I told her that I am not bringing it back, and it give her some peace. She kindly advised me to sand it and paint it, but I told her that cleaning will do it. She gave me that look, but I said that it’s exactly what I need. Then she said: “It’s old”, trying to convince me. I felt as we were talking different languages, she didn’t understand why I needed that old table and didn’t want to paint it! Poor soul… :) I didn’t go explaining to her what you just said: that table tells a story… And I love it!

  12. I have to say those pants look hot…I may have to get my wife a pair so she can walk around the house in them and I can check her out ;)

    • Now that’s impressive that you think the pants are hot! And you totally need to get your wife some then! They are so soft and comfy and the whole line – I love it. I’ve had some for like 6-7 years, literally washed 1000s of times, and they are still ticking!

  13. You’re in Aruba right now? I’m so jealous! I bet the weather is still amazing there :) and I’m so making a spin-off of your cranberry bliss bars this weekend, AND your honey yeast rolls. I’m SO excited! Have a great weekend, Averie!

  14. Wow, that 18 layer cake is quite the feat. I congratulate the person who dedicated the time to make it. I personally stick to two, maybe three layers if I’m feeling adventurous. I remember a time in the distant past when I had a starbuck’s cranberry bliss bar, but yours look infinitely better, and why have just one when you can have a whole batch! I do think these will be on my Xmas baking list.

  15. I have not heard about Be Present – but you have sold me on their pants…I love pants like that – wish I could wear them to work….weekend plans…work Christmas party tonight…waterpark birthday party for son 5 year old friend during day tomorrow…ornament exchange party with girlfriends Saturday night…Sunday church…then hoping hoping BAKING!

  16. that cake is incredible, but it stresses me out to think about making it!!

    i’m trying out your nutella brownies with cream cheese frosting for our tree-trimming party tonight. i can’t wait to taste them… i almost died just reading the recipe!!!

  17. Crazy coincidence- I just decided to buy myself an early Chanukah gift and splurged an an Epiphanie bag! I got the London, the other option they make for camera backpacks, and it is seriously the nicest single thing I have ever owned. I thought I loved it online, but it’s even better in person. The price tag is a big hard to swallow, but it truly worth every cent!

    • Oh wow, CONGRATS! that is so awesome! The fact you bought it, it’s better in person, and it’s the nicest thing you’ve ever owned – congrats. And happy chanukah…we are a half and half household, although my hubs is about as un-practicing as they come :)

  18. Whoa, I seriously want that red velvet cake, and I also seriously for for the mental health of whoever made it, heehee.
    I don’t think I’m baking this weekend but I am probably most psyched to make these Italian Sprinkle Cookies:

  19. oh my gosh starbuck’s white chocolate cranberry bars were my faaaaaavorite when i could eat gluten! great post!

  20. I have never added baking soda to my pancakes. Maybe the reason I rarely make them is because they lack flavor. I had no idea baking soda could provide that. I feel like this is something I should have already known….lol!

    • Sometimes I add baking soda to recipes that don’t even ‘need’ it, just because it provides a bit of flavor – over and beyond the effect of leavening. I hate to over-leaven but sometimes the flavor is nice; i.e. in raw cookie dough balls it lends authenticity!

  21. Oh gosh, an 18 layer cake — I’m pretty sure I would max out at 4 or 6 layers. :) But it sure is fun to look at!

    Interesting on the pancakes, I’ve never really dealt with bland pancakes, but I do always include baking soda… as for buttermilk that’s hit or miss, since it’s not always something I have on hand (although you can make your own with milk/vinegar, right?)

    • “t’s not always something I have on hand (although you can make your own with milk/vinegar, right?)” <-- yes you 'can' but I never do; I just...don't use that much buttermilk or care to do the cheater's version. I just would use like 1/2 yogurt plus splash of milk for the equivalent of 1 cup buttermilk type thing.

  22. When I click over to the Betty Crocker site and see “Total time: 4 Hr.” that is my cue to navigate away from page! LOL! It sure looks pretty! But, I am with you. Give us a slice, that someone else made! :-)

    Friday thing for me? Going to go out with my hubby – all alone! We haven’t done that in ages. Boys off doing their fun stuff with friends!

    Hope Aruba is treating you well, Averie! :-)

  23. I still need to make those cranberry bliss bars, and that baking soda pancake thing was SO interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Lucky duck! Not only are you in wonderful, sunny Aruba, but you have unlimited access to Dutch treats!

    I’m also totally loving the pancakes tips

  25. I like Ina Garten and never miss an episode of Barefoot Contessa. I have made a few recipes of hers that I love but for the most part I tend to not like her recipes when I make them, more so than most professional chefs.

  26. Your Friday Things always make me want to go on a shopping spree…haha!

  27. Oh my – that CAKE! I have a sudden urge to go bake it… and ship you a piece, naturally!

  28. Okay, now I have something else to add to my list: a camera laptop bag. Awesome!

  29. I’m getting a headache just thinking about the process of baking that red velvet cake. holy mother of god.

    Congrats on the kitchen feature! my chocolate cookies w/ candy cane buttercream were featured recently too! We should both feel honored! I am in love with my The Best New Recipe Cookbook – still have to read through A LOT of it. Over 1,000 pancakes? Are they looking for taste testers for future endeavors? ;)

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I adore Ina!

    That white chocolate cookie brittle. I need that in my life. RIGHT.NOW. Hope you had a great weekend Averie! Thanks for the knife advice yesterday. Sounds like I need to increase my knife budget if I want a real good one. DUH!

  30. Your cranberry bliss bars are still on my to-do list.

    Regarding the 18-layer cake….I’ve made one before and it did not take too much longer to make, just more slicing.

  31. That cake is insane! Also, I love the camera bag.

  32. Pingback: Friday Things

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