Apple Crisp Bars with Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
Apple Crisp is Mike’s favorite dessert. I worked on perfecting a recipe just for him (heavy on the brown sugar) and then thought we also needed to try making apple crisp in bar form. Because it’s important to come up with a variety of ways for your man to consume his favorite dessert. And of course, these too needed to include more brown sugar.
Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
These bars are sweet and delicious and perfect for these chilly fall days. And your house will smell amazing when making it…even if you’re not a fan of apple desserts, it’s worth it just for the heavenly aroma.
Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
I made these a few month backs for the Summer Picnic we styled and photographed for 585 Magazine – they make a perfect picnic treat as you can eat them without needing a plate or fork…and they can even be wrapped nicely too!
Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
Apple Crisp Bars with Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups AP flour

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, leaving extra hanging over the ends, spray with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light & fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla, mix until combined. Add flour and mix until combined and dough is crumbly. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until dough is slightly puffed. Remove from oven and set aside, maintain oven temperature.

While crust is baking prepare the apples & topping.

8 cups apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup flour
½ cup sugar

In a large bowl, combine apples, flour and sugar. Mix until apples are thoroughly coated. Arrange apples on baked crust.

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium bowl, mix together first five ingredients. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Spread topping over apples in an even layer.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until topping is golden and apple mixture is bubbly.  Let cool, lift apple crisp using the extra foil at the ends as handles, and cut into bars.
Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought
Tips for baking apple desserts:

      • use a variety of apples, not just one kind – I like to include at least one Granny Smith when baking apple desserts
      • if possible, use apples that are slightly soft – they cook faster so you can be sure that your apples are cooked through and you won’t get crunchy apples in your dessert (deal-breaker in my book!)
      • make sure to slice your apples thin – this will also help to make sure your apples are cooked through

Apple Crisp Bars @themerrythought



DIY Paper Doll Costume

DIY Paper Doll Costume @themerrythoughtI loved paper dolls when I was little so when this costume idea came to mind, I was so excited! This is a great last minute costume, you probably have most of the supplies that you need on hand already – just run to the store and pick up some foam board for $1! I think 8 year old me would be dying over this costume.
DIY Paper Doll Costume @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-Foam Board
-X-Acto Knife
-Hot Glue Gun and/or Mod Podge
-Permanent Marker

How to make it:
-Draw out the dress and accessories on the foam board. Look for “vintage paper dolls” online if you need some inspiration! Don’t forget the tabs!
-Use an x-acto knife to cut around the designs.
-Use x-acto knife to put a hole in each side of the waist of the dress. Put a long piece of string through and glue down across the front of the dress (where the fabric will be glued over it.) Repeat with other accessories.
-Cut out fabric and glue in place. (I used Mod Podge and a hot glue gun depending on the fabric/part of the outfit.)
-Use permanent marker to outlines the tabs.

***If you don’t want to use fabric, you can try painting it or glueing on some colored paper.
DIY Paper Doll Costume @themerrythought DIY Paper Doll Costume @themerrythought DIY Paper Doll Costume @themerrythoughtYou can even make a few different outfits and change throughout the night! If you aren’t the paper doll type, try out this Cuckoo Clock Costume!

xo. Caitlin

Made By Graham Giveaway

Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
We’re excited to announce a giveaway with one of our sponsors, Made By Graham! Cindy, the creator and designer of Made By Graham, designs and hand makes beautiful, simple jewelry.  We love the minimal pieces she designs and she’s generously offering two readers a chance to win a pair of these gorgeous spark simple arc earrings!
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made by Graham specializes in stylish, modern earrings and necklaces that are perfect for everyday wear or a night out.  We are pretty smitten with these arc earrings and the velocity spike pendant necklace designed by Cindy.  They have quickly become favorites!
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
If you’re a lucky winner of a pair of these earrings you’ll get to choose the size (small or large) and material (silver or gold) you’d like.  And the giveaway is open worldwide!  Be sure to check out Made By Graham to see all the amazing pieces offered and enter the giveaway below!  Good luck!
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought
Made By Graham Earring Giveaway @themerrythought

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Menu Pumpkin

DIY Menu Pumpkin @themerrythought DIY Menu Pumpkin @themerrythoughtWhen I was little, we had these menus holders from an old restaurant at our house that my mom printed out little menus for and used at a party she hosted at our house. I remember loving them so much – I loved to play restaurant and I remember seeing the menus in the back of the cupboard from time to time and dreaming about parties I could have with my friends so I could finally use those for real! Those menu holders disappeared over the years, but I still find myself loving gatherings that have a menu at them. It’s such a sweet touch!

This simple painted pumpkin menu is a great option for any fall gatherings you have coming up. All you need is a big pumpkin, some paint, and a paint brush.
DIY Menu Pumpkin @themerrythought DIY Menu Pumpkin @themerrythought DIY Menu Pumpkin @themerrythoughtWhat’s your favorite way that you’ve seen a menu displayed?

xo. Caitlin

Explore Rochester

Rochester Public Market @themerrythought It’s easy to think you need to go on long road trips to get to see exciting cities with delicious food, fantastic views, interesting shops… we’re definitely guilty of some serious wanderlust. We scroll through our Instagram feeds and see gorgeous photos from all over the world and we take our own towns for granted. It’s important to remember that wherever we live, it has something unique to offer – something that someone exploring ice caves in Seattle, camping in Joshua Tree, or eating at Mas Tacos would love to see or experience. We’re trying to better appreciate where we live by getting out and trying new places and stopping by the ones that we already love. So this weekend we went out to explore Rochester a bit! Our first stop was at the Rochester Public Market – we grabbed some donuts and some fresh supplies for some recipes we’re working on this week.
Rochester Public Market @themerrythoughtRochester Public Market @themerrythoughtThen we stopped by Abode. We’ve been following them on Instagram for a while now but hadn’t had the chance to swing by the shop. We’re so glad we did – we know where we’ll be doing all of our Christmas shopping now!  They sell mostly vintage with some new and handmade products in there from local makers and small businesses. We chatted with Amanda for a bit and got excited to hear about some upcoming events in Rochester that are right up our alley!Abode - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtAbode - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtAbode - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtOur last stop of the morning was Hart’s Local Grocers, we’d heard a lot of good things about their sandwiches, so we made sure to stop by just in time for lunch!  This grocery store definitely needs to be on your list of places to check out; I know it seems odd to add a grocery store to your go explore list, but once you’ve been you’ll understand!  We loved the overall feel of the place – every worker was so friendly and seemed so happy to be working there, the sandwiches (& goodies!) we tried there were great and it’s just a sweet, fun place to check out as well as pick up a few groceries. We’re so excited this grocery store was revived and we’ll definitely be back for lunch again (oh sweet pork carnitas…yes definitely get that sandwich when there!).
Hart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtHart's Local Grocers - Rochester, NY @themerrythoughtObviously ended the outing with a few macarons….

So what about you – do you love exploring the local places around where you live? If you’re local to Rochester, any good places we should add to our explore list??

xo. Caitlin, Manda & Marla

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