Coffee Break

cake batter chocolate chip cookies

Hi! Let’s catch up. How’s your summer so far?

Summer Bucket List Progress

It feels wrong to describe summer without saying how fast it’s racing by. Every single year, without fail, the months of June – August flash by in the blink of an eye. This year is no exception because it feels like my last coffee break post was just yesterday!

Last time we chatted, I shared a summer bucket list with you. Let’s check up on that progress:

  1. Weekend at the beach
  2. Throw a big BBQ party – done!
  3. Family day trip to Hersheypark amusement park – done!
  4. Family road trip to Cleveland (visiting friends!) – done!
  5. Roast s’mores
  6. Make homemade ice cream
  7. Play in sprinklers – done!
  8. Day trip to the zoo
  9. Catch lightning bugs
  10. Pick strawberries (or any fresh seasonal fruit!)

When you work full time and have a crazy busy household, 4 out of 10 isn’t so bad! I need to plan a trip to the zoo and a day for picking fresh fruit. I’ve been holding off on those because we’ve seen record breaking heat in Maryland the past several weeks. It’s miserably hot and humid outside and the summer thunderstorms have been pretty scary. We lost electricity and had 3 trees fall down in a tornado warning storm earlier this week. Good reminder to always be prepared and stay safe.

Back in June, though, we crossed 2 items off the list with a weekend road trip to Ohio and a day trip to Hersheypark. My good friend lives in Cleveland and her baby shower was a few weeks ago, so we made it into a family weekend. Noelle’s always been great in the car and she didn’t mind the 6 hour drive. We timed it so she would nap for part of it.

Snacks also get toddlers through road trips!!

Hersheypark was a blast! We met some good friends there. I thought Noelle would be too little for all the rides, but we actually found quite a few she could enjoy. She loved the merry-go-round and we went on 2 or 3 super teeny rides together. After getting off one kiddie ride, she ran back to the line. My little adventure seeker! But most of all, Noelle LOVED watching the roller coasters whiz by. There’s one section of the amusement park where a roller coaster flashes by right over your head as you’re walking. She was in total awe.

We celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago. I made my triple chocolate cake into a sheet cake, topped it with vanilla buttercream, and we served it with ice cream. (See recipe notes about baking in a 9×13 inch pan.) Of course I forgot to take a picture of the cake, but here’s a snap of Noelle enjoying a piece.

noelle in high chair


We threw a summer party last weekend. It started out as a casual cookout with 6-8 friends, but we ended up inviting more and more and it eventually grew to 50+ people! Of course it was the hottest day of the summer with the “real feel” close to 110°F and humidity through the roof. We had plenty of ways to cool off including a 6 foot tall unicorn sprinkler. Can it really be a summer party without an inflatable unicorn?

inflatable unicorn

As I was busy getting the house ready, one of my dear assistants, Hilari, baked several batches of cookies for the party including cake batter chocolate chip cookies (pictured above) and bakery-style peanut butter cookies. For the cake batter chocolate chip cookies, Hilari added a couple extra Tablespoons of flour and rolled the cookie dough balls with 1 Tablespoon of dough each. The cookies were adorably bite-sized and puffy. She rolled the peanut butter cookies smaller too. Not a single cookie leftover the next day!

mini bakery style peanut butter cookies

Vacation in St. Michaels, MD

I’ve lived in Maryland for almost half my life and have never visited a beautiful little pocket of this state called St. Michaels. A few bloggers and I rented a beautiful Airbnb home nestled on the shore of Broad Creek. It’s so nice to get together with fellow food bloggers, a group of women I’m lucky enough to call my friends. We chatted about life, business, dreams, children, and exchanged advice on managing this career. It’s nearly impossible to be successful without the support of others and that rings especially true in a food blogging career. We ate some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had cooked by sweet Susie. I left feeling refreshed and inspired, an awesome perk after spending a few days in a gorgeous home surrounded by well-respected people. If you need recipe inspiration or just want to be inspired by creative women who are total bosses at their jobs, follow these friends:

group of bloggers sitting on a dock

group of bloggers sitting on front steps of a house

Photos by Ashton Kelley Photography

Recipe Reshoots

I’ve been working on several new recipes as well as updating photos from my blog archives. I recently re-photographed deep dish apple pie and monkey bread.

apple pie with a slice on pie server

top of monkey bread

I also created new blog posts for several staples:

July Baking Challenge

July Baking Challenge recipe: No-Bake Cheesecake Jars

July’s baking challenge recipe is super simple, but very celebratory. We’re baking the 30th Sally’s Baking Challenge!! There will be 3 winners, so make sure you participate this month. Layer the no-bake cheesecake with your favorite toppings, serve it parfait style, or even as a full no-bake cheesecake. I LOVE seeing your flavors and creations this month!!

individual no bake cheesecake jars with assorted toppings

Let’s see some of your no-bake cheesecake jars so far:

collage of no bake cheesecake jars images

collage of no bake cheesecake jars images

Ok, enough from me. Thanks for reading and have a delicious weekend!


  1. Noelle clearly must take after not only does she look like you but she also all about dessert too!!!!

    1. I meant takes after you.

  2. Last weekend was brutal heat in Maryland.

    We went to Hershey Park in June.

    1. Hershey is always a blast!

  3. naomi winkel says:

    My husband and I took a fun trip to Venice, Italy for 9 days. Our 3 kids went back to Michigan to visit family, we live in Minnesota. I became the Manager at the Apartment building we live at so I had a lot of things to do before we left for our trip. Our trip was the last week of June and I became Manager June 1st.

    1. Congratulations! So much to celebrate and I hope you enjoyed Venice. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever vacationed.

  4. Noelle looks adorable eating the cake! We’ve been through our own heatwave in Missouri, too…
    That apple pie looks absolutely amazing…it’s so hard to beat a classic!

    1. Agreed! And stay cool!!

  5. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Just listened to the podcast – such a great interview! Thank you for always being so open and inspiring!

    1. Thank you so much for listening, Laura!! xoxo

  6. Love this! The only thing on our summer bucket list is getting to the beach as much as possible! My husband has been home for the last few months with a brutal back injury but he’s back to work in the beginning of August so we are cramming it in! We’ve been a few times. Our sweet little Lily just loves it! Her favourite part is picking the rocks out of the sand 🙂
    Look how big Noelle is getting! Her hair is so blonde! What a little cutie. Lily doesn’t get sweets much either but she never really enjoys them when she does get! Though I made (your) red velvet cupcakes for my moms birthday this past weekend and she did like those! I think she had 3 whole bites lol.
    Enjoy the rest of your summer Sally! I hope you are able to cross off a couple more things 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve been up to and hoping your husband is feeling better. We hope to make it to the beach in August! Noelle has never tasted red velvet, but I assume she’d love it. Ha!

  7. Wow! Sounds like you’ve been having a fun summer, Sally! And I totally agree; it has flown by FAR too fast! I haven’t even done half the things I wanted to do. I still need to tick off the most important item on my summer to-do list…make baked alaska 🙂 Noelle looks absolutely adorable eating that cake; I love seeing the pictures of her, she’s such a beautiful child! And apparently, has a good sweet tooth 😉 And I am counting down the days until you announce the baking challenge winners. Even though it’s likely I won’t win, this is the first time I’ve entered and I am just so happy I did! Have a wonderful rest of the summer, Sally!

    1. Thank you so much for entering the July baking challenge, Erin! So glad you’re part of it this month. They’re a lot of fun. Enjoy the rest of your summer and I hope you get to that Baked Alaska soon 😉

  8. Summer is hot here in France-currently having our second canicule. Not getting much baking in since I don’t have AC and cannot heat up the apartment with the oven. On a couple of cooler days I did make treats. I made your wonderful lemon cake for a birthday party-filled with your lemon curd and covered in lemon buttercream and candied lemon peel. I also found freeze dried raspberries (thank you and made raspberry buttercream from your strawberry buttercream recipe which was also a big hit. We took a wine tasting trip to Bordeaux for my husband’s birthday in early July and I don’t think we are going anywhere in August…just trying to stay cool in 40 degree weather!
    Love that your little one is enjoying her summer. Summers do fly by so enjoy them!
    Cannot wait for cooler weather to get back in the kitchen and make more of your tasty recipes!

    1. Stay cool Amy!!! Wine tasting in Bordeaux sounds like a dream and so does that ultra lemon layer cake.

  9. With one more month left let’s check off the rest of those items on your bucket list, sounds like you are having a great summer so far. I feel you on the heat, we had record temps here and a couple of tornadoes hit on Cape Cod a couple days ago. Love that you got a chance to recharge with other bloggers. Added your podcast to my list to listen to, hopefully later today. Thanks for sharing a pic of a cake cover Noelle, she is so adorable. Oh, and no it is not a party without a giant Unicorn sprinkler, love it. Here’s to roasting s’mores and enjoying the warm weather while we have it. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Courtney! Hoping to check a majority of those items off the list in August. Hope you enjoy the podcast, thanks for listening to it!

  10. Sally, you are my baking guru! I love that you have a community of food blogger sisters and that you all went on vacation together. The photo of Noelle is so adorable. She sure is getting big. I have a question for you. Do you ever dry your own fruits? It is blueberry season here and I would dry some to use all winter in yeast breads if I had a decent method. They are great in place of raisins in lots of recipes! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Judy! Thank you so much. 🙂

      Besides making baked apple chips, I’ve never dried my own fruits before but maybe that’s something I should begin. I wish I had advice or could help. If you begin to dry any, let me know how it goes!

      1. Will do!!

  11. I love your recipes Sally but there are way to many ads in your video.
    Summer went by way to fast this year. I can’t believe we start school in a couple of weeks. I did not get anything done that was on my bucket list. I had better hurry.

    1. Thanks Theresa! I’m so sorry about that– which video are you referring to? There is one ad that plays before each video you view on my blog. There is usually a “skip ad” button you can click, too.

  12. Sue Ringsdorf says:

    You are such an inspiration, Sally! I’ve loved watching your blog and family grow. Thanks for sharing a little piece of your life with us. 🙂

    1. You’re so kind, Sue, thank you!

  13. Patty McGuire says:

    That Air BnB adventure looks like it was so much fun!! What a fabulous group to be a part of. I recognize so many of those names. I love the story about Noelle at the park. I bet that was so much fun. Thank you for all that you do, Sally. I appreciate your great recipes and your thoughtful tips and inspiration.

    1. Thanks Patty! It’s definitely been a fun whirlwind kind of summer!

  14. Amanda Stout says:

    Thanks for sharing Sally! Our summer bucket list is almost complete! 3 things left to tackle before school resumes in 2 weeks, one being a trip to the zoo too! I made my first drip cake for my birthday last weekend using your ganache recipe and it worked so well. It paired with the chocolate peanut butter buckeye cake for a beautiful design.

    1. I bet that cake was DELICIOUS!! Enjoy the last 2 weeks of summer and the trip to the zoo!

  15. Gosh, Noelle is so adorable!! I love how she managed to get cake all the way up to her forehead!

    We’ve had record-breaking temperatures in the Netherlands as well, but the thunderstorms haven’t been too bad – no tornado warnings, luckily. Other than those your summer sounds like a lot of fun!

    I’m planning on listening to the podcast when I get home from work. It sounds very interesting and I can imagine that with a full hour of time you can go a bit more in-depth. I’m also planning on making some yummy no-bake treats this weekend. I already did the cheesecake jars but I might just make the full sized version as well!

    Thank you for a fun read once again! 🙂

    1. We’re not sure how the cake ended up on her forehead. HA!! Stay cool, enjoy the no-bake treats, and thanks for listening to the podcast!

  16. Great podcast!!

    1. Thanks for listening, Andrea!

  17. You have the absolute BEST baking site of any out there! Your directions are always step by step, clearly written, and no fail. I have recommended your recipes to so many baking friends because they always come out perfectly.
    I do have a question. When baking the cake batter chocolate chip cookies and the peanut butter cookies mentioned in today’s COFFEE BREAK, how do you adjust the baking time when you are making them smaller? Thanks. I appreciate your help as I’d love to bake these over the weekend.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Mary! For smaller cookies, simply reduce the bake time by a few minutes- this will vary for each batch depending on how small you make them. For these specific cookies, Hilari baked them for about 8-9 minutes- until a little golden brown on the edges 🙂

  18. Sally what are lightning bugs? Do you actually like bugs? Enjoy the rest of your summer. (It’s crazy hot in California!)

    1. Hi Iram! Lightning bugs are fireflies– have you ever heard of those? Kids usually “catch” them in mason jars and watch them light up, then release them. (And no, I don’t really like bugs! Ha!)

  19. Love this! Looking forward to listening to the podcast. Summer does go by so fast!

    1. Thanks Abbey!!

  20. Rebecca Coppersmith says:

    If Noelle liked Hershey Park, you must try Dutch wonderland in Lancaster PA sometime. It’s a park designed for kids and there are a ton of rides for children under 3. Bonus, if you go before she is 3 her ticket is free! I have 2 boys, they are 6 and 3. We just started going to Dutch wonderland last year and they both love it! Have a great rest if your summer! I always look forward to your posts and can always rely on your recipes for scrumptious food!

    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation! Noelle would probably love it there!

  21. Love the podcast…your blog is The best, it is ALL about connection….I found your blog 2years ago when I searched the net about salted butter versus unsalted… I’ve embraced a new hobby for my retirement years and I’m grateful for it! BTW , Noelle is such a CUTIE!

    1. You are so sweet, Willa! Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes- thrilled that you’ve found a new hobby!! 🙂

  22. So nice that you went on vacation with fellow bloggers! I’m dying to try your monkey bread – it was a favorite of mine as a child and I haven’t thought of it since… I was so glad to see your recipe!

  23. Noelle appears to be a girl after her Mother’s heart. Dessert and all!

  24. Heather M. Whipple says:

    we are going to Virginia again for medical appointments for both Joseph and I .
    He has his usual two plasma exchange pharesis treatments this coming Tuesday and Thursday. I have a consultation appointment with a specialist at uva medical hospital in Charlottesville Virginia.
    Although I have been exercising since the week before July 4th. I might need surgery, it depends on what the specialist has to say.

  25. I listened to the podcast on my morning walk with my dogs today. I must have looked insane laughing out loud about nail biters and answering her questions for you (I knew your last meal would be crab cakes!!) I’ve been following you for awhile now and really loved learning some new things about you and your business. Keep it up. Your fans love you!

  26. I only got the chance to listen to the We Get To Know Podcast this week, Sally, but great job! It was very interesting! And also…Chris Pratt is totally the best 😉

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