I’ve been in a bit of denial that summer is just days away from being over. Fall is just around the corner, but it’s still in the 80’s here in Minnesota. And that to me still screams summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. It’s probably my favorite season. So I am taking the approach of savoring the last gorgeous days of summer while anticipating fall.

I’ve partnered with Blue Bunny to help spread the word of their Final Cone-Down contest, which is all about savoring summer to the very last cone. Now this is something my three year old can get really excited about. When she woke up from her nap  on Sunday (yes, my 3.5 year old still naps! Such a beautiful thing) she came downstairs to see an ice cream table set up and the promise of an ice cream cone with gold sprinkles.

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you know that my daughter Juliet is an ice cream fanatic. I supposed most 3 year olds are. If it were up to her she would eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And while I do sometimes let her over-indulge I don’t quite let her enjoy her favorite treat that much.

This partnership was a perfect match and made my daughter a very happy little girl.

IMG_5843Because every little girls wants sprinkles on top of their ice cream cone. Besides sprinkles, Juliet is a purist when it comes to ice cream. She loves vanilla and strawberry best. 


I invited my family over on Sunday afternoon to savor these last summer days and enjoy an ice cream buffet.

It included:

Gingersnap pumpkin spice ice cream sandwiches. What? Yes. You heard that correctly. Recipe below.

Pumpkin spice shakes

Pumpkin spice affogato

Mini apple pies with a scoop of pumpkin spice ice cream

Pumpkin coffee cake with streusel topping and a maple vanilla glaze  

Vanilla ice cream cones with gold sprinkles

It was all quite indulgent and delicious. Pumpkin spice ice cream!!! So easy to make using a really good vanilla ice cream.

One thing I learned the hard way, photographing ice cream is not easy! It melts. Like really fast.

My approach to most dessert tables is a mix of store-bought and homemade elements. Because I’m a working mom of two and I’m busy. I don’t have time to make everything homemade. Incorporating both is a good balance I think.

The star of the dessert table, and the base of most of the desserts was the pumpkin spice ice cream. The recipe is below and is super easy and super delicious. You know you all have cans of pumpkin in your pantry, here is another way to put it to good use that doesn’t include baking.

IMG_5814A pumpkin spice shake. Easy peasy. All you need is vanilla ice cream, pumpkin spice (if you don’t have it you can use cinnamon) and canned pumpkin puree. Recipe at bottom of the post. 

IMG_5796For you coffee lovers. A scoop of pumpkin spice ice cream with hot, steaming coffee poured on top. 



IMG_5773Super easy gingersnap pumpkin ice cream sandwiches. Made with store-bought cookies. 

IMG_5855She was so patient as I made her wait to eat her cone while I took photos! 

IMG_5862Until September 22nd you can participate in the Blue Bunny Final Cone-Down to win prizes like personal electronics and other gear. Entering to win is super easy. Just take a photo enjoying the last days of summer and share it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #FinalConeDown and #BlueBunnyWinBig. Full details are available on the contest page.  

And the fun doesn’t stop here. I’m giving away 5 vouchers for Blue Bunny ice cream. Because everyone needs 5 quarts of ice cream in their freezer, am I right?

To enter simply leave a comment below with how you’re savoring these last days of summer. Be sure to leave your email address. Eligible to US residents only. Contest will end at midnight on 9/22/15.

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Blue Bunny. As always, all opinions are my own. 

5.0 from 2 reviews
pumpkin spice vanilla ice cream
  • 1.75 quart of blue bunny premium vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until incorporated.
  2. Scoop into a cup for malts.
  3. Add between two cookies for a sandwich.
  4. Add coffee to a scoop in a mug for an affogato.
  5. Serve on top of apple pie.
  6. Serve immediately.




This banana cake is a blend between a moist cake and dense banana bread and it is incredible. I served it to my family on a Sunday evening with coffee and we all pretty much marveled at its deliciousness.

I made this cake because the frozen bananas in my freezer were taking up precious space but another banana bread loaf sounded boring. I searched Pinterest and found this awesome recipe, and modified it a bit to include my favorite cream cheese frosting.


I’m no professional baker or cake decorater so these layers are uneven. I could have frosted the entire cake to make it a bit more pretty, but I am a fan of naked cakes and I felt like this cake is maybe a tad on the healthier side with all the bananas, so I hesitated to over frost it.


The slices of this cake were lovely, but I didn’t want to cut and slice the cake simply for photos. I wanted the cake in all it’s glory when my family arrived.


Even though I didn’t frost the entire cake, there was still plenty of frosting goodness to go around.

Next time you have overripe bananas taking up space give this awesome banana cake a try. Be sure to enjoy it with a mug of hot coffee. And don’t be afraid to eat it for breakfast. 

banana cake with cream cheese frosting
  • Cake
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups mashed bananas, about 4 bananas
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans with oil, then dust evenly with flour and shake off excess.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  4. Mash bananas with 1 tsp lemon juice.
  5. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip together butter, 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, granulated sugar and light brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp vegetable oil.
  7. Blend in eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition.
  8. Stir in vanilla and mashed bananas.
  9. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk in 3 separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition.
  10. Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans and spread batter into an even layer.
  11. Bake in preheated oven 45 - 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
  12. For the cream cheese: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated.
  13. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  14. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low.
  15. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally).
  16. Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using.


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It’s no surprise that I love holiday baking and entertaining. Every year the women in my family gather together for a big cookie baking day and I inevitably host at least one, if not more, get-togethers at my place.

Last year Erik and I hosted a holiday appetizer party and it was so much fun. We had Thanksgiving-inspired foods like a mashed potato bar, cranberry cream cheese dip and green bean casserole quiche bites (so good!)

And as much as I love savory appetizers, when the holidays start to roll around there is nothing I love more than spending the day baking sweet treats. Now that Juliet is old enough she participates and while that makes everything a bit more messy and adventurous, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I am attempting to enforce a new rule in our household of no TV until after dinner. This applies mostly to Juliet who loves running in the house after daycare and laying on the couch with her beloved Peppa Pig. Many days we let her because she has had a full day of activities at daycare with her friends and honestly, she likes to unwind much like Erik and I do when we walk in from work. But I hate that she sits in front of the TV for an hour or more.

So I’ve been trying to plan activities every evening when we walk in the door from work/daycare. Ideas I’ve come up with so far include:

– Painting on her easel while I cook dinner
– Helping momma with dinner
– Playing in her playroom including her favorite activities; tea party, puzzles, letters (on her alphabet mat)
– Calling Grandma on FaceTime
– Playing outside on her playset or jumping in leaves (we will not be able to do this much longer)
–  Baking

We baked these pumpkin gingersnap cookies as one of our “no TV” activities last week. The other day Erik and I agreed that this stander/Learning Tower was one of the best things we ever bought for Juliet. She uses it multiple times a day (she loves to eat breakfast in it and it allows her to be counter height to help cook and bake with me). It isn’t cheap, but over years of use is so worth it. It’s pretty big though, so you should have a fairly decent sized kitchen for it.

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I made this carrot cake a couple Sundays ago for one of our Soup Sunday meals and for my mom, who was celebrating her birthday. Carrot cake is one of her favorite desserts. I had ambitions to make this into a beautiful two layer cake to display nicely on a cake stand…but I went the easy route instead and poured the batter into a pyrex and avoided the task of building and frosting a cake. The original recipe calls for this to be a sheet cake anyway and it. was. so good.

Quite possibly one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. Hands down best carrot cake I’ve ever made (and eaten!). 

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Last weekend we had my family over for a fall-inspired gathering. The party was a part of my partnership with Food Should Taste Good and we had a whole spread including 3 different types of chips and dips, soup, roasted squash tarts, and a lovely dessert table that included these amazing chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

I found the cookies on Pinterest via Sally’s Baking Addiction blog. The cookies are easy and seriously one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The pumpkin puree helps them stay super moist and chewy and these cookies are totally egg-free. Which for me really meant that I ate way too much of the cookie batter. Oops.

These are chewy, soft, perfect. I’ve been bribing Juliet with these cookies all week (i.e. if you eat a good dinner you can have a cookie). I’m not proud of the bribing but sometimes it’s what works, you know?

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