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.