Thursday, December 18, 2014

1 Week...3 Pecan Pies

I know I keep saying I have been baking over and over again but here is the proof...

Since November I have baked and not blogged about salted caramel toffee cake like this...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holy its Thanksgiving week! How is it that Fall always seems to pass me by and now it feels like winter practically.  Oh wait now I am just's 70 degrees outside?!?  Just last week though it was in the 30's though for days.  I just don't know what to do...I mean last week I was all soup with toast for lunch and now I want to be grilling out burgers for dinner and throwing my flip flops on.  It is Thanksgiving week though and this year for the first time I will be spending Thanksgiving with Charles' immediate family, and now my family.  I am super pumped and excited to be contributing some pies this Thanksgiving to the feast. 

To get into the spirit of Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago, as well as to send treats to Charles office I made these pumpkin cranberry white chocolate chip cookies as my first recipe out of Joy the Baker's new cookbook Homemade Decadence.  These cookies were so freaking good and I can't wait to make them again.  They are sift and fluffy with great fall pumpkin flavors and the tart fresh cranberries and white chocolate chips add great depth of flavor.  They would also make some seriously delicious whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting in the middle....hmm maybe next time.  You should definitely give these a try though, because the are SO good!  Enjoy!

Before heading off to Laguna aka my happy place a couple of weeks ago now, I went to my very first Scotch tasting with Charles.  It turns out I kind of like it...wouldn't beat out Bourbon right now, but I don't hate it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Ultimate Carrot really it's seriously delicious

Okay, okay, I know its only Thursday, but can we please talk about the weekend?  About sleeping in and mornings lazing around with a good book and a giant cup of coffee.  I see this in my future. Sometimes I feel like weekends in DC really start on Thursday even when you do have to work on Friday.  Fridays in my office are always just a little bit more the fall and winter they involve really its a thing.  In the spring and summer they involve flip flops and florals.  It helps to change things up a bit and is definitely better than Mondays.  I am really excited for this weekend, because it is going to be all about good food.  All about enjoying the simple things...dinner with friends at a great restaurant; waking up on Saturday with no plans and nothing to have to rush off to.  Plus, a little baking to wrap up a nice Sunday with some great fall light sneaking through the windows.  The light I can't catch baking in the early morning hours or after work now.  Hopefully I can catch a few good shots.

Recently, I have been writing about trying to see things from different perspectives.  Paint Nite really showed that we all perceive the things we see differently.

Friday, October 31, 2014

This is my everyday life...and Maple Cinnamon Granola

I am not afraid to admit that my everyday life is a little boring.  And I am totally okay with that, work can be busy enough at times.  Let's just say I enjoy routine, so that when something is spontaneous its even more fun.  The everyday looks a little like this...

This is work...well the real work and how I help pay the bills.  It involves days with a messy desk that gets cleaned before heading home every night.

Some days there are doughnuts, because some days doughnuts are needed and ones that I didn't have to bake.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake? Roll? Swirl?...Unicorn Squares?

Have you ever realized how much you can really learn about yourself when you hear a friend talking about someone she or he knows?  How much you can and can't relate to the person they are describing.  I have been continuing to try to think about who I am, how others may view me, and to try and think about things from other peoples perspective over the past few weeks.  Now there are a few good people in my life who can really put things into perspective for me.  Who help me get out of my head and see things through a different set of eyes.  Do you have those people in your life?  Those who can help straighten things out, turn your thought process enough just so you can get out of your head for a second?  

I don't know what it is about the fall, but its the time of year when I get more stuck with my own thoughts and start thinking about the past more than normal.  Maybe because the fall can be so routine.  Growing up there was always the start of school, the anxiety of starting new classes and then knowing a month in their would be endless amounts of homework.  Now, I know that the fall is endless meetings, and just trying to stay ahead of the game as I count down the number of meeting weeks left, even as we start to plan for the spring.  But I have Charles to thank for trying/forcing me to enjoy the now, "getting me out of my head" and not just thinking okay what's later this week, what's next weekend and the following weekend and so on.  To think more along the lines of what can we do that's fun today or tonight that we haven't been planing for all week.  Let's be spontaneous, because sometimes the best memories come from unplanned adventures.  This week I decided it was time to be spontaneous with baking too, with some early morning baking, before the meetings and the meeting planning.  Something delicious just to make Tuesday a little better.  

Sometimes, mid-long run, when I really shouldn't stop, I just have to, to capture the shot.  Sadly this is about as spontaneous as I get some days...Taking a new route down a different road.

Down to the good stuff:  So I wasn't really sure what to call these.  They are the texture of a cinnamon roll and yeast based, but yet they are not a roll.  I asked for suggestion on Instagram, someone said to call them a fall fritter, someone said send them to NC, but the best might have been Unicorn Squares.  What would you have said I call them?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making a childhood dream come true...a giant "Reese's" Cup

This is a giant "Reese's" cup...
This is what making a childhood dream come true can look...
This was a challenge that I was worried I might fail...
This involved making a mold by cutting and forming aluminum cake pans...

Sometimes life...or you know a co-worker...throws you a challenge.  Sometimes we bring those challenges on ourselves by let's say...

...making our self wake up before the sunrises, because we know catching a shot like this will make it worth it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dipping my toe into the flavors of fall...Carrot Pumpkin Cupcakes

Have you ever felt behind on life?  Like your weekends have been crazy, and between work during the week, and life there has not been enough time to even really play catch up?  Don't get my wrong, I do this to myself, I over commit, get overwhelmed and sometimes just need a week off.  I have been baking though, just not blogging.  Sometimes I don't feel like I have much to say, so I need to take it back to the basics.  Back to the food.  Over the past couple of weeks there has been...

A vegetable tart with vegetables straight from the Farmer's Market.

Cake...Lemon cake with a vanilla wafer layer in the center.  Served with home made lemon ice cream.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Banana "Bread" Bourbon Ice Cream Sandwiches

A little bourbon goes a long way, especially when its good bourbon.  I have grown to love bourbon over the past few years now.  Some people crave wine after a long day; well after a long week all I want is an Old Fashioned..strong and just sweet enough.  I would have to agree with George Bernard Shaw's thought sometimes...that "whiskey is liquid sunshine."  It can make you forgot all of crap that can happen in week for just a little bit.  I however am NOT encouraging heavy drinking in this post...I am just saying how it is for me personally.  So when I stumbled upon the recipe for these ice cream sandwiches when I was trying to figure out what to make with the overripe bananas sitting in my refrigerator I was very excited.  I might not should have served them on a Friday afternoon in the office...but well I did...AND they were delicious.

Let's talk about the cookies first.  These cookies taste like banana bread, soft, light, moist and with a little crunch from the pecans.  You could really just serve them by themselves...which  I did when I sent some with Charles to his office.  I mean I will be honest, I was meaning to send some ice cream sandwiches with him, but the ice cream is just too soft with the bourbon in it and I knew there was no way it was making it on the metro ride downtown.  

Okay so the ice cream...the ice cream is simple.  Take a things of vanilla ice cream and either blend or food process with bourbon and then re-freeze for at least 24 hours.  Learn from me and do the ice cream the day before you make the cookies...then it won't go melting all over the place as fast.  These ice cream sandwiches really turned out the way I hoped they would.  The are a super fun "adult" ice cream sandwich that is a little "fall" with the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and a little "summer" with the cool vanilla bourbon ice cream.  Give them a try sometime and Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Insight and an "Old Fashioned" Cocktail Cake

What is your dream (job)? But really what are your dreams in life?  The first question, is my favorite interview question to ask.  What is it that you truly would love to do if nothing was holding you back?  Not money, time, nothing could get in the way.  I ask this even though I myself don’t have one dream.  I love meeting planning, I would love to learn more about “fun” event planning and get to do that in the future, but baking for a living is another dream.  I mean it’s probably okay to have a few life goals around ones’ career, right? 

Ever since reading this article ("No Time to Think") that Joy the Baker shared a couple of weeks ago, I am have been really trying to figure myself out.  To try and see how others see me, and think about what I really want to be doing, what would make me happier.  Don’t get me wrong, I probably took the completely wrong thing from this article, but it left me thinking. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Tart

I have to admit I actually made this recipe last month and I have been going back and forth about whether or not to post it.  You see the thing is I really didn't like the way the pictures came out, BUT the tart was so rich and delicious I feel like the recipe deserves to be shared.  I mean seriously all starts with an Oreo crust, followed by a thick layer of salted caramel and chopped peanuts.  Then there is a layer of peanut butter pie filling and its all topped off with chocolate ganache!  I mean its part peanut butter pie, part Snickers.  Creamy and crunchy with the smooth chocolate ganache; this tart has serious texture and flavor.  It is definitely worth giving a try sometime!

So let's talk about the more recent...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adventures & Pistachio Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

And we are back to the little things...the things that can make everyday a little bit more exciting.  This past weekend, well really the past week really, has been wonderful because of the little sometimes everyday things.  Like getting to have lunch with a friend when lunch is normally eaten at my desk.  Going to a concert after work with friends on a Thursday instead of going and working out again.  

Going for an early morning run Friday and finding a few words of encouragement along the way...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I know...more blueberries....Blueberry Pie Bars

This past weekend was well...relaxing and tiring all at the same time.  Seems crazy, but you know what I am talking about.  Since it is the end of July again it was time for the annual Tour de Shore ride from Philadelphia to Atlantic City.   James and I made it, and somehow with out getting caught in any of the rain showers coming through the area.  That was the tiring part.  It was nice to just hangout at the beach Saturday, sleep in, walk to Wawa for breakfast and Rita's for dessert and just have a general plan without all the details being planned out.  

A little pre-ride on Saturday, plus Charles and I had to try out James' tandem.  I was seriously so afraid I was going to injure myself before the ride the next day.  You would have thought I didn't know how to ride a bike.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some seriously delicious Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I have been thinking a lot lately on my drive into rides are my places for I might have planned most of my wedding in my head on the rides to and from North Carolina over the past couple of years.  (Sorry for the run-on sentence there.)  Today I think I finally came to the conclusion that some people/things never change, that sometimes first impressions are correct, and that I probably need an attitude adjustment and a couple happy pills so I don't end up with even more wrinkles/gray hair.  

Don't get me wrong, everything is not doom and gloom.  Work is good, baking is great and married life is going wonderfully, but it kind of just feels like something has been a bit off lately.  Therefore, I feel like if I could realize a few little things, come to some conclusions and try to change(yes I just said some things don't change) a couple other things, everything might be a little more easy going and a little less stressy.  While I attempt these things, I will just continue to zone out a bit to the entire Sam Smith album, bake a few sweet things (like this frosting) and run, bike or dance around the house to bring the not so frown back to a smile.

I mean this song...seriously

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sweet Summer Cherry Preserves

These cherry preserves have been a long time coming.  That being said I did not buy these cherries with the intent of making cherry preserves.  Okay, hold on, I need to take a step back here.  This past February, yes about 5 months ago now, I was at a meeting at The Montage in Laguna Beach.  If you have been reading these posts for a while now, you might know that The Montage is my happy place, and if I could move there I would in a heart beat.  Any who, when I was out there this past February they had these huge homemade English muffins at breakfast, and I fell in love with them.  I would toast one up and then cover it with my other new found love, cherry preserves, and it was my little piece of heaven over the course of a long meeting week.  I didn't grow up eating cherry preserves, we had our fair share of strawberry and of course grape jelly, but cherry was foreign.  So, when I got tired of eating cherries at my desk and getting my fingers stained red about a week ago, I decided it was time to use the remaining cherries to finally make preserves.

Well they turned out exactly like I wanted them too!  Chunky, with a little bit of tart to go along with the sweet.  They scream for a toasted English muffin, but I won't judge you if you only have toast in the house.  I honestly might have to make some pancakes and serve the preserves alongside sans the syrup.  That or grab a nice soft cheese and some toasted baguette.  Either, way I would definitely recommend making these sometime, or this weekend, before sweet summer cherries disappear for the season.  Enjoy!

While Charles was away this past weekend with the guys, I had some ladies over for Reef Cups by the pool.  I have to give a serious shout out to Krista for the idea behind these watermelon ice cubes.  Pure genius, and I can't wait to make some more with the rest of the huge watermelon I still have.

Down to the preserves...they are super simple to make!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Black & White Salted Caramel Pecan Cake

I think I might need to take a little break this weekend.  I have been on a bit of a baking in between this week and last there have been 5 pies (2 apple, 1 lemon meringue, 1 chocolate peanut butter and 1 strawberry rhubarb), 3 mini apple crumbles, lemon bars, blueberry pie bars, cherry preserves and this cake.  Oh and we have two office birthdays on the same day next week.  Not saying I don't love it; just saying I might need to take a baking break this weekend.  It has been a lot for my little kitchen, and my hands are a bit tired of washing dishes.  

In between the baking though I have been trying to get "fit" this summer, and get ready for long bike rides (I am supposed to ride from Philadelphia to Atlantic City next weekend...say what?!?) and start training for long runs.  It's tough though!  It is seriously hot and humid in DC...I mean I am literally dripping when I get done with a morning run, and I am finishing by 6:30 AM!  But sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do...that or give up, which is not an option.  

Plus, let's be real I exercise so that every now again I can eat what I want, or at the very least to be able to not feel terrible about trying all of the desserts I bake.  This week I really tried to get back on the bike, save some gas, and bike to work.

The best part about a bike ride to work is watching the sunrise over the Potomac.  In the far left really small you can even see the Capitol Dome.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Salute to the South...Blueberry-Cherry Buckle or Cobbler, you decide

This might sound a little crazy, but do you ever get a little produce happy at the farmer's market or grocery store?  Like where everything, both fruits and vegetables all look delicious.  Well this totally happens to me...and did last weekend.  I left the grocery store with peaches, blueberries, cherries, peppers, onions, green beans and zucchini.  Honestly the blueberries and cherries were for a purpose.  Ever since our last to visit Charles' grandmother in Williamsburg, VA at the end of May I have wanted to make a buckle.  You may ask why, but it is a result of our Saturday morning routine at Honey's house.  Saturdays we wake, drink coffee either eat breakfast at the house or go out, but no matter what we always end up watching cooking shows on PBS.  This probably drives Charles crazy; I on the other hand absolutely love it!  Any who, last time we were there Martha (you know the one and only Martha Stewart) was making a blackberry buckle and it looked so delicious.  It was also the first time I had ever heard of a buckle...which is really a warm fruit cake made in a cast iron skillet and the fruit literally buckles over the cake.  

So, I had my fruit (blueberries and cherries)...I wanted to change things up a bit since blackberries aren't really in season anymore...and some nice evening time before Charles got home.  Well per the norm...I got a little over zealous with my fruit and my buckle turned out more of a cobbler.  The blueberries and cherries went really well together and the buckle turned cobbler has a nice thin cakey top.  Next time though I know, over fruiting a buckle leaves you with a cobbler.  Give it try, just follow the recipe for the right amount of fruit or don't either way you end up with something delicious.  Enjoy!

A few more picks from my week in South:

Our third city on our tour of the South was Bluffton, SC...more specifically the Inn at Palmetto Bluff a Montage Resort.  Lets just say Charles and I didn't want to leave there and would go back in a heart beat.  We got there and decided a nice bike ride on beach cruises to check out the property was totally necessary.  Then to cool off drinks by the pool!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest Post: Banana Whip & Summer from Miss Amy

Last summer I had the pleasure to start working with Amy.  A Maryland girl who went to school in one of my favorite cities in the South...Charleston. (Was I just there recently...yes!) I was so excited when she started, because I could, although now "old", relate to her experience at The Academy since she started practically right out of school.  I didn't know at the time though that I would be making another friend in the process and one who loves to bake.  So, you know those people that are always, well mostly always, smiling, who bring laughter to the office, but still get there stuff done.  Yeah so that's Amy.  There have been many late working nights over the past year, but with them all it has been fun.  When she mentioned she might have a guest post for this month I was excited; as I have been asking her to do a post for probably 10 months now.  

Sometimes we just have to get dressed up for work...Amy is the cute one on the right.

From Amy:
Recently I have found that I have been over booking my weekends.  It’s the summer so there always seems to be so much going on that I want to do it all.  For the past two weekends, I have been pretty go go go doing different things each day which includes being in multiple cities in one weekend.  I love doing things and spending quality time with others, so when I plan out my weekends it does not seem like a lot, but when the weekend gets closer I think I am a little crazy for all that I have going on.  My weekends never seem to have time for me to do things around the house, but at the end of the day I love it that way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A great dessert for a virtual cookout this Fourth of July...Gluten-free Strawberry "Pop-tarts"

We headed South this Saturday for a Southern Adventure for the week and are very excited to be spending this Fourth of July week in the South.  Our first stop was Grifton, NC just outside of Greenville to see Charles’ parent’s new house and hangout for the day.  It was so nice to see them, and to have some real home cooked food, with barbecue chicken, grilled corn and some Southern style green beans.  Plus, some delicious blueberry cobbler!  The next day we headed down 95 and 26 to Charleston, SC for a wedding.  We had to stop in Husk for a late lunch and some simply amazing food because I have been wanting to go for three years now!  The journey continued yesterday to Bluffton, SC, then on to Savannah today.  Before hitting the road to head South though there were gluten-free strawberry “pop-tarts”.  Which would be a simple and easy thing to bring to a cookout this July 4th.  No fork or napkins necessary!

Part One of our Southern Adventure...

We had to stop by the Alma mater since we were in the area.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A lot on my mind led to Baked Blueberry Maple Donuts

Do you ever have one of those days where you just need to be able to take your mind off of everything?  But, when you try to, the wheels just keep turning making things a little worse than they were to start with.  I have found my tried and true method for fixing this...just figure out what to bake and go for it.  Last night, I went just a little crazy or as Charles said this morning "nuts" and tried for a few to many things, so much so that if I had brought some fruit to work and orange juice there would have been a continental breakfast for the office.  This is what I would like to call a Friday breakfast of champions...  

There were pecan cinnamon rolls...I know this is not going with my get fit summer, but sometimes you just have a craving.

Oh and gluten-free strawberry "pop-tarts" with fresh strawberry filling and sprinkles of course!  Can't forget about all of my gluten-free peeps in the office.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Food for thought...

So I started thinking about food and eating habits last night.  I was thinking about how I would not sit down and eat half a pint of ice cream in front of a crowd of people, but have no problem sitting at home on the sofa and doing so.  I have to admit I have been going through one of those periods of not eating as healthy as I should, and it let me to think about if the world "knew" (like if I Instagramed everything I ate every day for a week or month) would I eat as poorly as I do some days.  So, in my hope to get healthy again this summer, so I am actually prepared for the upcoming bike and running races I am going to pull out some healthier fruit based recipes over the few weeks.  I am going to start to try and think about whether I would eat XYZ if I had to Instagram it first or would I maybe pick up a summer peach instead.  For the meantime though I leave you with the last time I went healthy baking for a month back in February 2013.  I think I need to make some of the cinnamon raisin muesli asap to kick start this attempt at healthy eating.  It is such a great alternative to oatmeal during the hot summer, and is jam packed with flavor and texture.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Baking for blogging...Lemon Blueberry Tart...oh an I'm a Mrs.

I think I have been putting off this post long enough...

Holy cow I got married!  The day finally came almost two weeks ago now and as I said that day..."my Pinterest dreams came true."  Besides getting to marry my best friend and the man I love; all of the hard work, DIYing, time and planning all came together for more than I could have hoped.  It made the fact that I still can't feel the tip of my right index finger from spray painting too long totally worth it.  It made carrying around and moving boxes of chargers, table runners, beer, wine, decorations, etc all worth.  BIG thanks to all of those who helped in carrying all of those boxes too!  Another BIG thanks to Courtney for acting as wedding coordinator for the day and keeping Charles and I on schedule.  A few pics from the day and then on to what this blog is really about...desserts...this time lemon blueberry tarts.

...straight from Pinterest...with hand-cut circle menu cards and hand spray painted wine bottles.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate and Pigs?

Okay I have been meaning to post this for about two weeks now...but hey there was a little on my mind getting married last weekend and all.  Back to that later.  This cake though was the groom's cake for the wedding three weeks ago.  I honestly wasn't even going to blog about it because I forgot to take a picture of the inside.  Turns out the groom did though and was willing to share.  

I might have had the most fun I have ever had making this cake.  It was a complete surprise for the groom and I was ecstatic to get to make it for him.  I chose the inside filling because I had heard from him before that he loved this cake he had from Crumbs one time with an Oreo cream filling.  This is not for those who don't enjoy a rich cake though.  It is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate with pigs on top...of course I would not recommend eating the pigs though, unless you just enjoy chewing on fondant.  The cake was devil's food cake, with vanilla frosting filling with tones of Oreos crushed and mixed in, with chocolate ganache on top and Reece's and KitKats around the outside.  It turned out looking and tasting exactly the way I wanted it to, and definitely made me want to experiment more with fondant.   Bonus though is that is tasted great too, unlike most decorative cakes.  Enjoy!

Sunrise over Old Town...there was some early morning running (pre-wedding) before a meeting a couple of weeks ago and I just had to snap a shot.