Winter in OZ.

For the first time ever, the lovely folks over at Foodbuzz asked me to participate in their amazing 24×24 project. This is a special day each month where, all over the world, 24 food bloggers commit to posting 24 great meals at the same time. It’s big, and it’s fun, and I’m so blessed to have been a part of it!

Now, I must first mention that I live on Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. And even if you don’t know much about North Dakota, I imagine you’ve at least heard of Minot in a joke somewhere. After all, “Why not, Minot?” It’s where, “Freezin’ is the reason!” And to celebrate this, I chose to have a very special, themed lunch with some dear friends of ours that will be moving to a new duty station soon. Dorothy and her friends teamed up with me to present “Winter in Oz!”


We’ve been lucky so far this season. We’re 3+ months past when snow usually begins accumulating, and we’ve got just this small dusting on the ground. That’s my flowerbed above, and you can still see the bricks! After the massive flooding this past summer, this is a welcome reprieve! Still, our friends are moving to sunny California, so this last meal is helping them to say goodbye to Minot with flair! :-)


^^ Because I couldn’t leave these out. “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!” ♪♫

Other than decorations, let me walk you through our indoor (because no one wants to sit on snow, no matter how little!) picnic lunch, Wizard of Oz-style.

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Spiced Apple Cake with Mascarpone Browned Buttercream.

Have you ever tasted something so good that you wonder how you’ve lived without it? Have you?

Over the weekend, a guest brought his mama’s recipe of “Candied Yams” to my house for Thanksgiving. OMG, let me tell you… the buttery PECANS absolutely floored my tastebuds! How had I lived 31 Thanksgivings without it?! I had made my own Southern Sweet Potato Casserole, but this young airman’s yams blew my sweet potatoes out of the water! I savored every single bite, and I begged the spoonful of leftovers from him before he left our house. I used it to top a leftover cinnamon roll for breakfast the next morning, and oh!

It was a VERY good thing.

That’s the kind of GOOD I tasted last week when I created this new cake & buttercream. See?

Spiced Apple Cake w/ Mascarpone Browned Buttercream.

A lot of people have never had mascarpone cheese. Heck, a lot of folks have never even heard of mascarpone cheese. If you’re among either group, let me introduce you to your new best friend, mmkay? “Mascarpone” is a slightly sweet, Italian cream cheese. It’s a bit softer than traditional cream cheese. Previously, I’ve only used it as a spread on pastries, and I had some leftover in my fridge, so…

A star was born. A sweet, nutty, spicy, apple-y star that dances on your tastebuds in whimsy. And I promise you, this is the kind of whimsy you NEED in your life. There’s a bit of work involved, but the rewards are so worth it, I promise!

I was selected by Foodbuzz to create something new & exciting using both Duncan Hines® & and Comstock®/Wilderness® products, and I came up with this amazing dessert. I chose a Moist Deluxe Spice Cake for the Thanksgiving holiday, and sweet Apple Fruit Filling as the perfect complement. My favorite thing about Duncan Hines cake mixes is the absolutely VELVETY texture of their batter – seriously, it is SO silky-smooth! – and the light, perfectly-spongy texture of the final baked cake. Duncan Hines is my go-to brand when I’m making a boxed cake mix every time!

To make this cake, follow the steps below, or skip down to the recipe near the bottom of this post. :-)

Gather the ingredients:


Make the cake as directed on the package, substituting an equal part applesauce for the vegetable oil called for.

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Welcome to Life’s a Batch!
I’m Nicole, and I’m glad you’ve stopped by my little corner of the web! I’m a former Air Force wife whose passions are baking, cookie-making, and photo-taking… all to the benefit of my loves – my family! C’mon in to…read more.


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