Monday, December 30, 2013

Dreams & a "Snickers" Cake

When your growing up adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up.  Then when you are really in the process of growing...aka going to college and taking classes, the question becomes what do you want to do when you graduate?  Generally during this period in life, the answer normally involves your dreams and aspirations; your dream job, a company you would love to work for, a city/state where you would like to be living while doing this job.  Then you graduate, and if you were born in the 80's and maybe even the early 90's, you were brought up thinking that directly after college you would just sort of automatically have job.  This of course is no longer the case, sometimes, like in my case it is several months searching for a job, and generally somewhere along the way, the dream job, with the dream location goes out the window and its more about finding a job that is in the general field you wanted to work in.  (That is not to say some of us don't get lucky, and find the job and the field that allows us to grow into our dream job.)  And we all work, we do what has to be done because now we are the adults. Then at some point, probably after 2-3 years of being in the working world, our dreams come back to the surface, and we start wondering again what it is we would truly love to be doing, to make our mark on the world, to follow our heart.  

I got to meet up with a friend for drinks over the holidays who is finally getting to truly live his dream.  Despite all the fact that for a while all odds (including having brain surgery) were against him, despite all of the incredibly hard work he is now doing, including crazy Army workouts, he never gave up and he loves every minute of it.  I can only imagine that this is what it feels like to be living your dream. When all of the continuous hard work is worth every minute of lost sleep or time away from friends and family.  It is always this time of year that the question asked is what will your New Years Resolution be?  I say we should all resolve to work a little more toward our dreams this year.  To looking into our hearts and really thinking about what we would truly love to be doing in life.  I myself don't want to forget why I started this blog three years ago now.  To have a place to share and a reason to bake constantly.  So after three years...and a couple hundred recipes here is another cake to add to the list.

It wouldn't really be a "Snickers" cake without an actual layer of melted together Snickers now would it?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hazelnut White Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes things fall apart...well duh...what I really mean is sometimes friendship fall apart. Sometimes it is because people move or there is a big falling out or sometimes its more subtle.  I have had this happen a few times in my life with super close friends and it never really gets easier.  I continue to always wonder how the other person is doing, whats new in their life and there are of course always things that remind of specific people.  Seriously it can be years...since college and even since high school.  But this is really just something that happens in life and in someways is part of growing up.  We all change, our priorities change as we grow up, in our 20's we really start to truly figure out who we are, and for some people its even significant others that get in the way.  I have to wonder though, does it ever get easier? Is there ever a point when you lose a friend, and your aren't really sure why, but you stop questioning it?

At this time of year, or well next Tuesday aka Christmas Eve, I always try to get my old friends together for brunch, and although not everyone can make it, its always a good gathering, a great time to catch up, and there is always plenty of food and drinks.  But its this time of year too that makes me think of those old friends, to send up a little prayer that all is well in their world and wish them happy holidays.  Baking brownies and cookies always reminds me of this as well...especially anything with hazelnuts like these brownies.  Long story short there was an attempt to make hazelnut macaroons in high school that did not turn out so delicious.

A little Christmas spirit...Thanks again James!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Holidays Twist on the 7 Layer Bar and a Giveaway!

I started running again  the other really running a long distance.  I was calling it my test run to see where I was at as I prepare for a marathon in March again.  This  post however is not meant to be a humble brag.  It really more about that feeling you get when you are running by yourself, or well doing anything you really enjoy, that requires a little extra effort.  Running for me is my time to be "alone" while surrounded by others.  I get to observe, while never having to speak to anyone.  I might do a slight nod of the head to acknowledge and say "hi" to another runner, but once we pass, its back to being just my time.  It is my time to choose whatever path I want to take that day, to go for however long I want to...or well can that day.  A time to either think intently about something or maybe not really think about anything at all.  

We kind of all need an activity that allows us to do this, whether its cooking, baking, biking, crafting, doesn't really matter what the activity is.  It is much more about the way it makes you feel.  So this past Saturday the activity was running, while other days its more about baking.  For some, like my friend Michelle, its experimenting with new things.  This past weekend that just happened to be making Almond Joy body butter for the holidays which she is giving away along with body scrup!  You can check out her blog here: Mrs. Alexandria & Ms. Jax enter to win or enter the win at the bottom of this post.  Most days though, outside of her "real" job, Michelle is baking and selling dog treats.   What is this "thing" for you?

Friday, December 6, 2013

German Chocolate Cake for a birthday

Have you ever gotten to the point where it is always going to be slightly awkward with someone?  Like you used to be friends, but the fact is now you will probably never be more than acquaintances?  Like you used to be friend who would hug to say hi, hug to say good bye, but now even if you were about to bump into each other there is some sort of force field that stops this from even happening.  Maybe this is totally just me, but I literally almost physically ran into an old friend the other day, like we should have collided, because lets be real I run into things all of the time/am only really paying attention to where I am walking about 60% of the time, and my friend just was not even looking up.  (First I know I should be paying more attention, but truthfully since I can almost remember I have a problem with cutting corners and running into door frames/walls fairly often.)  I am really not trying to go anywhere with this; it was more just an observation...or maybe the universe knows...doubtful though.  One of these days I will probably run into someone though while I am carrying a multi-layer cake.  It is kind of one of my fears that this will happen, or that for some terrible reason, my cake container will just break while I am carrying it to my car on the way to work with a cake like this one it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Your Choose...Muffins or Cupcakes...Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Pumpkin Raisin

I have a problem recently.  I literally just looked the pictures on my camera...of food of course...and could not remember what exactly I had made.  I could tell there was cream cheese frosting, I always remember cream cheese frosting, and there was salted caramel drizzle too.  I just couldn't remember what exactly was underneath.  So I had to go back and play a little Nancy Drew on myself.  Thank goodness for my mild obsession with Instagraming everything I bake, so I could read the caption of what was exactly in these cupcakes.  I do remember they were delicious though and that you could not tell they were gluten-free at all.  I remember I made them for a co-worker's birthday, even though she wanted just muffins, I couldn't resist making some of them cupcakes.  These cupcakes just come out so moist with great texture from the carrots, zucchini and raisins.  And do I even dare say they are not too terribly unhealthy as pumpkin is used instead of oil? Also, you could definitely add some pecans for a little crunch if you are into that sort of thing.  

In the future though, I need to remember this moment, and start getting my blogging done a little bit sooner than two months later...oops.  Enjoy!

"muffins" fresh out of the oven

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Perfect for Fall...Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

How is it that sometimes the simplest things can put you in the best mood to start your day? Maybe in the middle of driving in traffic on the way to work your favorite song comes on? Maybe its just the sunlight and how it shines on the water or driving through the red, orange and yellow fall leaves.  Today was one of those days, where I wish I could just keep driving or at least maintain the "great day" through out the day at work.  Not let some of the bs that can some days sneak in from nowhere sneak in.  To just enjoy the simple things, and get the work done that has to be done, because there is another three meetings to plan next week. To maybe listen to that song that got you in a great mood a few more times that morning.  I admit...this is totally a pep talk to myself...but some days we have to give ourselves one. Other days we have to leave it to "Kid President" for a pep talk.  Don't forget though...a word from Kid President..."Create something that with make the world AWESOME!"  

Sometimes the best way for me to make my day a little better is to bake...maybe spend Saturday kneading, rolling out and baking some pumpkin cinnamon swirl bread.  I have had this recipe pinned on pinterest for a really long time, and was happy to finally get around to making it.  It turned out delicious!  Almost a cinnamon roll in bread form...with one of my co-workers even requesting that I top it with cream cheese frosting/glaze next time.  It was prefect toasted up and spread with just a little butter...or in my case fake butter, but still.  So if you have a little time, this bread is most definitely worth a try!  Enjoy!

A few more everyday things that can make a least for me.

Coffee and multigrain pancakes from my favorite West Coast breakfast spot.  If I could figure out how to recreate their pancakes I would make them all of the time!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Classic...Lemon Bars

Okay real life got in the way again, and I haven't been able to hangout here.  In the world of sweets, with delicious things baking in the oven.  I spent about 9 days in California, planning the largest meeting I have ever been a part of with a fantastic team.  Before that, it was really just late nights in the office with little time for after work baking of blogging.  So these are way over due for posting, and were made at the request of Charles' co-workers...shout out the Manhattan team at CoStar.  These are being posted for you.  These are some seriously delicious lemon bars though, sweet and the right amount of tart lemon flavor.  A bit time consuming, because of how long it takes to squeeze lemons...but if I had a juicer it would definitely save me some time...guess that's my own fault.  Oh well.  Enjoy!

Some fun pictures from California...

I do love running in new places, especially finding new routes in California

Friday, October 11, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake with Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I have been trying to read more "fun" books lately to try and take my mind off of all of the work of real life.  Sometimes the fun books are completely different than my life and other times they hit closer to home than I might have originally started out thinking.  The most recent book had a quote that I knew immediately I wanted to share because it really clicked with me...

"Interesting how garbled and confusing the past becomes under the anesthesia of time.  You try to count the years and make come sense of them, but almost immediately they blur and become one bit thing.  The past."  
                                            -Beth Harrison(Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave him the Wrong Finger)

I have this feeling often, because I hate to admit that I totally still ponder about things in the past.  Not that I regret them, but there are still times I wonder how something went in the direction it did at the time.  There are still moments where I can't help but wonder...Why?  I know they will all blur as I move into the future and live in the present moment; like how I sometimes forget I have made and shared some of the recipes I have here on this blog. Some days I think I am having a new and interesting idea for something to bake, and then I realize...oh I have made that before.  

This one is definitely different new though, as the birthday boy I made it for came up with a list of potential things I could make, but his one request was to make it on here.  So...this is for you Adam.  Thanks for all of the ideas and taking my combination of two of them.  I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your birthday dessert!  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baked Carrot Cake Donuts with Cream Cheese Glaze

You would think I would learn and maybe go to the doctor, but its that time of year again where my allergies kick-in.  Literally in less than 12 hours, I got back from Chicago on a Friday around 2 a.m., went to bed and woke up with a stuffy nose.  This is seriously a yearly occurrence, but instead of going to the doctor I just deal with it, drink some tea, and do things in my free time that make me feel making donuts. Donuts I have been dreaming about since I made these chocolate ones back in August.  Plus, these are my first attempt to step my toe into the fall...I am not fully ready to pull my boots out of the closet or the pumpkin out of the pantry, but I am ready for the warm flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  

These donuts came out exactly like I had literally hoped and dreamed they would.  They have the great warm flavors of cinnamon and ginger with the nutmeg and cloves leaving you wondering what the extra spices are.  I took James advice and tried out coconut on some, but topped other with my preference, toasted pecans to go along with the cream cheese glaze.  So you choose, but either way I would definitely recommend giving these a dry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Late Summer Vegetable Tart

This has been a crazy month with things really starting to pick up at work.  The month started with a Sunday watching triathletes and wishing I was one, when I in fact was only there to run the 10K portion of the race.

Then the following weekend I was off to Chicago for work.  Since we finished up early on Saturday, Amy and I played tourist and went for a bike ride around the city.  The only problem was, I somehow ended up with a men's bike that was WAY to big for me.  Oh and I totally tried to poorly ride my the hybrid bike I was on through sand...which almost resulted in me falling with the bike into the lake.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Deconstructed Turtle Cake

One of my simple joys in life is getting to bake for people, especially new people.  I love seeing their reactions when they try a dessert, because I like to view them as "semi-unbiased" taste testers. Last weekend I had the honor of baking a birthday cake as a surprise for the former CEO of a large health system in the northwest and a long time member of the company I work for.  I wanted to make something he would really enjoy, so I did a little baking detective work. I began by first asking his daughter what she thought I should make...something "turtle" or a hula pie was her response.  Then to get a second opinion I asked his about a chocolate mousse cake?  Since they ended up giving me very differing ideas, I called his admin who decided I should go for the "turtle" cake.

The result was this cake.  I thick single layer devils food cake, frosted just on the top with salted caramel frosting.  Then a layer of toasted chopped pecans drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate and salted caramel sauce.  This came out perfect moist, with fluffy frosting, crunchy pecans and the drizzle of chocolate and caramel on top, really make this a sort of deconstructed turtle cake.  This cake is very rich and full of flavor, but I knew it would be and that is why I left this cake naked on the sides.  This is the perfect cake for any one who likes chocolate, salted caramel and pecans...aka turtle candies.  Also, if cupcakes are more your thing, you could definitely turn these into cupcakes.  Either way, cake or cupcakes, both are delicious.  Enjoy!

This recipe required two types of caramel...both salted but slightly different.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cinnamon Mocha Cupcakes...a request from my dad

There is something going on here.  I don't mean here like in this blog, let's be real these are really just my wandering random thoughts for the day including this one.  What I mean is here in the world...Going south sometimes I realize how much inequality there still is between races, genders and even sexual orientation.  Somehow living in D.C. I sometimes forget this because of simply how many different people there are.  Living here, well any big city I guess, you meet so many different people, and make friends that are literally from all over the world.  True, people do clump together in groups, I just hung out with a group of people the other night and 95% of them went to Florida State, but those groups will always at times run into other groups like different puddles converging.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Do you ever have the days where you feel like doing nothing?  You somehow manage to drag yourself out of bed and get ready for work when it happens to be a weekday.  Its the weekends where its harder though, because sometimes, you have no real plans other than cleaning the house and laying by the pool.  Which at that point why can't you just stay in bed an extra hour.  Isn't your body maybe trying to tell you that you need to rest a little?  That was completely 100% this morning.  When I did finally get up, I realized after making my to do list that I might be trying to be a little to ambitious with my plans for the day, when I could barely pull myself out of bed by 10 o'clock.  I really think I needed the sleep and the break from reality though.  With everything ramping up at work, and trying not to slow down here, sometimes you just have to take a moment or maybe just a morning.  Last week when I wasn't sleeping in though I was getting up early before morning to bake the cake and the following morning to frost the cake...I was just a little to tired when I got home from work to frost the cake.  What can I say, it seems lately there is more baking in the morning because I am down for the count once I hit the sofa to eat dinner.

This cake though turned out truly delicious.  It was Molly's choice for her birthday cake and I am glad she chose it.  I myself would never have probably chosen to make a lemon cake.  It is just not one of those things I am drawn to in a flavor for desserts.  The cake came out light and fluffy with just the right hint of lemon.  The frosting though is what made this cake, creamy and sweet with a bit a tang from the cream cheese and a bright lemon flavor.  This cake is kind of perfect for the summer, so give it a try and enjoy!

Also cheers to the last days of summer...

to the final peaches...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The perfect office treat...Baked Chocolate Donuts with Sprinkles

Okay its donut time...It has just been way too long.  Plus a co-worker came into town last week for a work "retreat" and said he wanted chocolate donuts, and I thought...I can totally make that happen. What is better than homemade chocolate donuts...well homemade chocolate donuts made with sprinkles.  And even though these donuts caused me to get up at 5:15 am before going to work...the smile on Michael's face totally made it worth it.  These donuts are fluffy and chocolaty and the sprinkles add great crunch.  Plus, they have the flavor of the chocolate donuts you probably grew up eating as a kid, but these you got to bake.  If sprinkles aren't your thing, than toast up some coconut and sprinkle that on top. Either way, give these a try because they are absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chocolate Chips? Oreos? How about both in a cake....Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Cake

Sometimes you just need to be when a co-worker for his birthday asks for chocolate chips or Oreos.  I immediately nix the "or" and go for "and" instead.  Like do I do a chocolate chip and Oreo layer cake with both actually in the cake.  Or do I try this as some sort of whoopie situation.  Somehow while thinking about it over the weekend I went back to adding both in one cake kind of like I did with putting an entire key lime pie in a cake here

So here is the layout...

And yes those are little drawings for the chocolate chip cookies and Oreos on top.  This cake ultimately came out exactly like I wanted it to.  The cookie layer stayed soft and not too crispy; the cake was light and fluffy.  The Oreo cream filling added the right amount and essence of Oreo for this cake.  The cake is then topped with a vanilla bean buttercream frosting...but only on top, because lets be real, this cake does not need frosting all over it. This cake is seriously delicious, it is a little sweet, but a great birthday cake for someone who likes Oreos or chocolate chips...definitely if they like both.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ready for the weekend...Maple Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am ready for the weekend...even though I have to say this week did seem to actually fly by. Last weekend though there were muffins among other fun things.  Let's see there have been a few firsts in the past week.  1. I finally completed my first hot yoga class which admittedly was my first yoga class in a studio.  2.  Saw my first professional soccer game  3.  I finally saw The Star-Spangled Banner last Monday with my brother and sister-in-law.  4. I gave my first tour monuments tour with Charles for my brother.  Let's just say it an action packed weekend, which makes me even more excited about this one.  Happy Friday!

Okay, so you might be thinking how on earth or why did I make muffins with blueberries, white chocolate chips and maple?!?! Well my brother and sister-in-law make their pancakes sometimes with blueberries and white chocolate chips.  Thus, my goal was to turn their pancakes into a muffins and it was definitely a success.  These were light seriously simply delicious. The blueberries burst a little while baking and the white chocolate chips and maple give these muffins great flavor.  Trust me when I say, these muffins are definitely worth a try.  Enjoy!

Chelsea vs. Roma

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Blueberry Strawberry Pie

We all have our role models in life.  Sometimes they are people we don't even know but admire aka Joy the Baker who has been able to pursue her dreams, accepts her faults, and lives life for all that it can be. Sometimes they are people we see almost daily like our best friends and a few co-workers that have "been there", who we have worked with a while and are easy to talk with.  There are also the people that make us think outside of the box we tend to live in, even if we would never dream of going as far outside of the box as they go.  The girl who writes The Dalston Years is basically my complete opposite and will not apologize for who she is, which is kind of amazing.  She takes life on face-first and is completely ready to live and take on any adventure that comes her way, which I can totally respect.  

Each of these types of people mold us a little, just like everyone we meet in life, and especially those that we spend time with, and get close to, even if only for a little while.  I am thinking about this as I am trying live life just a little bit more in my own way.  Let's be real here though, I am never going to be the girl who goes out and parties every weekend, but I can make an effort to make more plans.  To cross more things off of my "bucket list," which is now more of a list of things to do before I am 30, now that I am only a few years away.  Like volunteer more and be involved, finally go bungee jumping, learn to bake challenging things and basically try to remember to bake them as long as they are supposed to be baked.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Tipsy Plum Shortcake Birthday Cake

Hi from Dallas!  First off why am I in Dallas? I of course head to Texas right when it is finally cool in DC but 104 here.  Oh well such is life and work.  Really though, in all seriousness no complaints...I get to stay at a nice hotel, get out of DC for a few days, and I have to say my hotel contact here is amazing!  Which is super helpful when FedEx loses one of the two boxes you have shipped to Dallas filled meeting supplies.  I am super glad that there is an office depot so close!  
On a more fun note though, this past weekend was amazing and I would not have asked for a more fun 27th birthday.  Plus, I got to make Kathryn's birthday cake since she was in town, and her birthday is the day after mine.  Her request was "how about something with plums?" response "I can do that."  So what we have here is a classic final cake topped with honey bourbon whipped cream then a layer of fresh plums drizzled with honey.  This is my tipsy plum shortcake.  Enjoy!

A few Pics from the weekend:

Sometimes your birthdays need to start like this...a nice run in the rain to start the year off right.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Disgustingly Rich" Almond Brownies

Okay Holy Cow...I turn 27 this week!  I am not really sure where the last year of my life has gone.  But I have to say I am so excited for my 27th year.  Okay I know this is going to sound completely weird, but since I was a little kid I always thought, for some strange reason, that being 27 was going to be great, like that good things would happen when I was 27.  Maybe my kid self thought that 27 was when you really became and adult?  I don't about this, some days I feel like an adult and some days I don't.  I do know that in my 27th year I will be making a step toward this by getting married, and having all of the changes that this entails.

Plus, I am going to try to keep pushing myself this coming year. ..maybe another marathon?  This past weekend though was the bike ride from Philadelphia to Atlantic City.  It was a great ride and we had perfect weather!  What way to better reward myself than having a brownie and then sending the rest to Rachel since she was the 20th recipe giveaway winner.

These brownies came out just as I remembered when I ate them as a kid.  They are rich, soft and chewy!  Basically delicious!  Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Eggplant Zucchini Tomato Tart for a light summer lunch

I have been slacking here.  I have been baking and not posting.  It's just been kind of crazy, with so much going on in the evenings and I am still playing with my new's just not quite as easy as picking up my iPhone to take pictures in the middle of baking.  

In all seriousness, this summer has been flying are we almost to the end of July?  There is just not enough time for all of the summer things I want to bake, or enough time to enjoy the summer laying by the pool and reading.  I am not going to let this summer run a way just yet though!  I want more free movie nights in Crystal City and more Jazz in the Sculpture Garden!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Parmesan Biscuits

With my basil plant a little out of control (it is enjoying the crazy rain and then sunshine that happens most days now in DC) I was looking for new recipes to throw basil into.  That and apparently I really love the sun-dried tomato basil combination, as in the past 12 months I have made savory sun-dried tomato cupcakes and sun-dried tomato basil Dutch oven bread.  The combination of these ingredients baking in the oven is seriously one of the best smells.  I have loved this flavor combination since high school when I worked in my first restaurant, Cafe Carolina.  Out of all of the baked goods we made from savory to sweet, the best smell that came out of the oven was from the sun-dried tomato basil baguettes.  This smell almost made it worth while to be getting to work around 7:00am.

So this summer, I am putting a twist on the classic biscuit and adding in sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.  They are a simple twist on a classic, easy and delicious, plus they come out tender the way any good biscuit should.  Also, you can totally make them gluten-free by switching out the flour with any gluten-free substitute.  I used my favorite, Pamela's Ultimate.  Enjoy!

Everything prepped and ready to go.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

I need to be blatantly honest here for a minute.  This morning was one of those mornings where I had to literally drag myself out of bed.  I woke up with all of my confidence drained and didn't want to go to work.  I literally slid out of bed because even Charles was telling me to go get ready.  Do you ever wonder why some days you honestly just want to stay in bed and not move...hide away from the world for just a day?  I mean this past weekend I was full of confidence gliding around New York, like I lived there and going for runs through Central Park like it was an everyday occurrence.  But today, today I just didn't want to face "it".  I did not feel like I had any right leading or having to give tasks to others when I didn't want to be doing anything myself.  Ultimately I did put my big girls pants, okay well skirt on and head to work.

But it left me thinking, am I the only one who has days of complete self doubt?  I honestly can't even say what brought it on.  I had a great four day weekend hanging out with my mom in DC and New York.  We ate delicious food, shopped and just strolled around New York.  (Pictures from New York) But then Monday morning came around and I had a serious case of the Mondays.


Before Monday came around and before heading to New York, for the 4th of July cookout at my office, there were these Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.  These cookies were originally made for Courtney and inspired by her favorite dessert.  I had done the cream cheese technique used in these cookies last fall for pumpkin cheesecake cookies, but I was a little nervous about how they would turn out in regular cookie dough.  Well, they turned out delicious!  Delicious as in I wish I had one right now, I may have had 3 or 4 in one day delicious.  Delicious as in I made the twice in 3 days.   Seriously, you kind of just need to try these if you like oreos and cheesecake.  Soft and chewy with bits of cream cheese and crunchy oreos; these cookies are the truly oreo cheesecake in cookie form.  Enjoy!

At the National's game on the 4th of July.  Our Nation's past time...

The most complicated part of these cookies is creating the cream cheese pieces.  Cut and then...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The perfect time of year for Mojito Cookies

I don't know what it is about summer, but it leaves me craving mojitos, hanging out with friends and generally doing nothing productive.  Oh my house is dirty oh well...and wait I should totally go for a run this evening...oops probably not the best idea after an afternoon cocktail.  Maybe I can go for an easy bike ride instead.  I crave these probably because they are cool and refreshing, plus I might have mint just growing in a pot on my front porch.  So while I was laying at the pool one afternoon and dreaming of having a cocktail while making baked goods I thought up these.

These are a cakey cookie.  There are not hard crunchy bits to these cookies.  They are light and fluffy with a lovely lime taste and just right hint of mint and rum.  Definitely a cookie that screams of summer, of picnics and relaxing.  So if you love mojitos as much as I do, or just are in the mood for something a bit different give these a dry.  Oh and did I mention they are low-fat because they are totes made with part butter and part low-fat ricotta cheese...

What's up baking from the coffee table...butter and sugar creamed, plus dry ingredients mixed.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Toasted Oat & Coconut Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you ever feel like you get a little behind on life?  Like it takes weeks for you to get some minute task done.  Or you have been meaning to stop by an old spot, but didn't get it done for a year.  Or maybe you have been dragging your feet about really sitting down and spending the time to think through what it is that you really want.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes we all need a break and to just escape, but I keep having to remind myself of a quote I read from Lincoln a few years ago...
"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."
                                                                                                                -Abraham Lincoln
Sometimes we have to just get stuff done, cross if off the list, and make those hard decisions...I think I am just giving myself a pep talk first actually get stuff done this weekend and second to figure out what's next in life and how to best prepare for the future.  Right now I know the best way for me to plan, that doesn't require me to make a hard decision right this minute, is to keep baking.  When the time is right, everything else will fall into place.  So, in the mean time I will just keep trying to figure out different ways to get oats into recipes, chocolate into new cookie creations, and spread the love through baking.
It only took me a year, but I finally made it back out to my grandmother's old house.  Sometime in the future this barn will be torn down, along with her house, so I just had to visit one more time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

200th Recipe! Browned Butter Pecan Biscoff Cookie Cake

Somehow it has been crazy around here.  I don't know what's going on because its the summer and its supposed to be time for relaxing and hanging out with friends.  Don't get me wrong, I am making time to do said things but it sometimes feels like there is very little time to sit around and day dream.  Which let's be real, sometimes that is all I feel like doing.  This cake was a day dream...what's better than dreaming of cake?  Admission it was totally an after lunch, I am craving something sweet and can't really concentrate right this minute on the work task at hand day dream, because what, oh what am I going to make for my 200th recipe.  But in all seriousness a lot of thought went into this cake.  I mean I could have made anything, but I wanted to something over the top and unique, but not terribly complicated.  There might have even been GChats about this cake that went something like this...
Lauren: I might have to buy the TJs kind and make frosting with it
Meghan: omg that would be amazing
what kind of cake?
Lauren: hmmm
spice cake? Vanilla cake?
Meghan: spice cake might overwhelm the spread
that stuff is seriously good
Lauren: haha
what about between sugar cookies?
or honey cake? brown butter cake?
Meghan: oooh
brown butter cake would be perfect
Well this cake turned out exactly like I wanted.  The cake is moist and rich, it has an almost decadent flavor and the frosting has a slight crunch from the cookie butter that is creamy and spicy.  I can't wait to make is again and it is definitely the perfect 200th recipe for me!
It's officially summer! 
Which mean...Jazz in the Sculpture Garden.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Updating a Classic...Strawberry Lemon Bars

Sometimes we just have to switch things up, take a different route to work, try something new a menu where you always get the same thing...or even add strawberries to lemon bars and see how they turn out.  These turned out just as a I hoped they time I am going to have to try strawberries.  These were lemony and tart but sweet and the strawberries really complement the flavor.  A co-worker who rarely eats sweets, went back for a second one and said he wished he could have it from his review mirrow like an air freshner because they smell so good.  These are really easy and simple, and it is the prefect time of year for them.   Summery with the light lemon taste with hints of spring strawberries.  I would deifnitely recommend trying these and enjoy!

To change things up this week, a meeting in the city with a view.