Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Pretzel Tart

I need to confess that it has been one of those weeks where all I want to do is eat.  Yes, I am eating me veggies for lunch, but then it gets to be 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I just want to stuff my face with sweets.  Yes, I think to myself am I actually hungry and no I probably am not.  I then try to eat a peach or banana or whatever fruit I happen to have and drink a cup of water to cure the food craving, but its just not working.  Plus, there was chocolate tart, you know, just lying around.  And it actually came out correct this time!

You see there is a back story to this tart.  I tried making it three years ago, when I wasn't baking nearly as much, and since it is a Food & Wine recipe, I followed the instructions to a "T".  Well let me just say, it didn't work.  The chocolate never set.  It was like the pretzel tart was a swimming pool of chocolate.  But of course we still cut into it and the chocolate kind of just slid everywhere.  Thinking back now, this really would have been the ideal time to go by some vanilla ice cream and just throw the "tart" on top.  

This time though, the chocolate set.  It was creamy and delicious, and pretzel crust complimented it so well.  This definitely is a chocolate covered pretzel in tart form.  Plus it looks totally impressive.  So, if you have a the time this would be a great recipe, that doesn't require a lot of ingredients you don't already have, to take to a dinner party, to your boyfriends parents' house, etc.  Enjoy!

Clockwise from top left:  Getting my frustration out on some pretzels...I tried doing this with my hands, then I tried the food processor, then I just took my rolling pin to them.  Rolling pin totes worked the best!

Pretzel crust coming together...gets chilled first as a ball for 30 minutes.

Then rolled out and placed in the tart pan and chilled again for 30 minutes then baked.  

Time for the chocolate filling.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Carrot Raisin Muffins

Happy Tuesday!  I know, I know its Tuesday, what's so great?  Sometimes though you just have to make the best of a Tuesday, when its a little too early to be excited for the weekend ahead, but your still thinking about the weekend you just had.  Its the awkward day of the week, when you can still ask co-workers how there weekend was, but it would be strange to ask if they have plans for the weekend ahead.  Tuesdays, are also great days to go ahead and plan a happy hour for Thursday, the best way to go into the weekend.  Somehow last weekend was a BBBBB weekend...aka there was BBQ, bluegrass, beer, bike rides and baking!  

Seriously though the first BBB, was a bluegrass, BBQ and beer festival held by the North Carolina State Society.  Oh to spend a night on the river around a bunch of southerners.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Time: Browned Butter Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Walnut Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Filling

Recently I have been dreaming...literally it has been my status for a few weeks now, when Charles finally asked what I was dreaming about.  My answer...I have been dreaming about life.  By life, I mean I have been dreaming about what's next and taking a leap of faith.  

I have been dreaming about new apartments with new kitchens to cook in. (I have lived in my current house for FOUR whole years now.  To put this into perspective, I have never lived in any other place, other than the two houses I grew up in, for longer.)  Do you ever just want to move so you can clean out the old stuff and sort-of start over again?  

I've been thinking about and wishing I could be more organized at that I have finally gotten my personal life more organized.  You would think with three physical calendars and two notebooks, I would be organized...what am I missing?  Have any tips you care to share?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tuscan Dutch Oven Bread

This past weekend was filled with new friends and old friends.  Parts of it were about remembering the past, but more of it was about making new memories with old friends and family.  There was a wedding, a couple runs, cupcakes for my dad, hanging out with my mom, and time spent with my "extended" family.  

To clear my mind and make room for the new, I went for a couple runs around my old neighborhood.  Along the way, I spotted this pink door and just had to stop and take a picture.  This door is definitely, newly pink and basically awesome.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A quick taste of fall in an unusual place...Apple Baklava

So here's the story...I left my house this morning totally content and ready to take on the day.  (The mornings are finally cool enough to drive to work comfortably with the windows down.)  Then I made a bad driving error, it was totally my fault, no accident occurred, but this lady totally yelled at me, out her window, into mine, that I "had to stop".  By the way...Clueless style..."I totally paused" and did look both ways a couple of times.  I just didn't see her car.  This completely threw off my morning.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back to the Basics: A Classic Vanilla Cupcake with a Twist

Happy Monday!  This weekend was all about these cupcakes...

About a celebrating a good friends engagement with, of course, champagne...

About trips to the farmers market that still have plenty of summer veggies...

About waking up early...Good morning DC!

Friday, September 7, 2012

S'mores Cupcakes

Do you ever have one of those weeks where your mind won't shut off?  Where you are constantly thinking about all that you have to do at work?  All the while thinking about what you need to be getting done in your everyday life too.  And at the same time, bits of time are also spent contemplating  the past, present and future.  

Where you have three different lists or more going at the same time?  A work to-do-list, a grocery list, a weekend-to-do list, a packing list...just so many lists that are in three different notebooks or calendars.  Don't get me wrong, I am not meaning to complain here.  I am definitely one of those people that would rather be busy than bored and just sitting around.  BUT sometimes I do just want to sit around.  Sometimes I really, really don't want to leave work and go to the gym even though I know it will help clear my mind if only for a bit.  Maybe this week I just had too much time on hands even though it didn't feel that way.  

I mean I took up some of that time baking these cupcakes, and lets be real, its hard to think about too much while baking other than what is currently at hand.  Contemplating too many things while baking can lead to cupcakes that fall in or turn rock hard from over baking or even just never get cooked all the way through.  

These cupcakes did not do this however.  I gave a new devil's food cake recipe a try, and to make these "s'mores" cupcakes I folded in pieces of graham cracker.  I was worried all of the graham cracker bits would fall to the bottom, so I didn't add as many pieces as I would have liked.  The graham crackers did not fall and next time I would definitely add more.  The graham cracker pieces almost melt into these light fluffy cupcakes.  I then topped these cupcakes with marshmallow fluff buttercream that was smooth and not too sweet, and went perfectly with the cupcake.  I topped the cupcakes with a sprinkling of crushed graham cracker and a toasted marshmallow.  Since, I love all things "s'mores" lately, I will definitely be making these again!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Coconut Cake

This past weekend was one of those great family weekends.  A lot of catching up, good times at the beach and plenty of yummy food.  Definitely one of those weekends that makes me miss North Carolina and the South.  Also a great weekend to say goodbye to the summer and welcome the fall with open arms.  There were even apple pie pancakes made Sunday morning, which I can't wait to make again as soon as I go apple picking this fall.

Seriously, I can't tell you the last time I had played in the sand before this past weekend.  I has so much fun with my nephews!

A little run across the island in the heat, but what a great view to have while running.