Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bailey's Crunch Cake

Hi there friends...sorry I have been gone for a while.  Sometimes, you just lose track of everything, especially those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have been telling myself for weeks, well you know a couple of months now, that I need to be blogging more.  I mean I have been baking, and I have a baking blog, so why am I not sharing?  Truth is, I kind of feel like I lost my voice, so why share a bunch of nothing.  

So here is a little something...I have been thinking back over the craziness that was this fall.  Being gone three out of five weeks between in October and November is tough on "real life stuff," but also sort of fun.  I mean who wouldn't, even just a little bit, enjoy hanging out at a super nice hotel, getting out of the office, and being in Park City.  When you are at that many meetings, you can also really start to look into yourself, and think about how you are doing your job.  I might have been planning meetings at the same company for nearly 7 1/2 years now, but I know I am not perfect, there is always room for growth, and sometimes you need a little "honesty couch."  (That time where you can sit down with someone who isn't your boss, but has years of experience and can tell you areas for improvement, but knowing you won't get upset.)  I actually need to "schedule" my time for late January.  It's good to have friends and co-workers who can do this though; who you trust that the honesty goes both way.  An unofficial mentor you might say...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Salted Butterscotch & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you ever think about slowing down? Sometimes I forget to do just that when it feels like I wake up, rush to work, rush home (Even though I am probably sitting in traffic both ways.) walk Margeaux, figure out what to have for dinner and then it's time for bed and to do it all over again.  

It's hard being in a city where everyone always gives the appearance to be in hurry, where people are racing down the roads, walking, what my husband would call "DC pace," from place to place.  I sometimes forget how much of hurry, let's go, world we live in until I go home to North Carolina or like this fall spend three weeks on and off in Park City, UT.  It has made me want to spend even just a few minutes each day taking a slower pace or going on longer walks with Margeaux to enjoy the beauty in the everyday little things.  

Being gone for so long has also made me crave a home cooked meal, and has made me want to bake.  Not just crank a cake out overnight, but be creative. I haven't gotten too just yet, but I did get to make some spicy cheddar crackers and some salted butterscotch chocolate chip cookies for a bride this past week.  And let me let you in on a little secret...you thought salt and chocolate went well together...salt and butterscotch chips are better. So putting both in this cookie was pretty dang delicious, definitely one of the best cookies I have eaten in a while! So give these soft chewy cookies a try and enjoy! By the way, please, please eat one warm...maybe served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Beauty in the little everyday things...sunrise over Park City.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Peach Blueberry Buckle...for when you just can't let go of summer

So its fall, and I am ready to jump in feet first sort of!  Bring on the pumpkin and apple everything and the fun fall Starbucks cups. Fall for me mean it's time to start drinking hot tea again, it's time for flannel and boots, and most importantly ECU Pirate Football.  But before all remaining hints of summer are gone and the ground is completely covered in leaves, and I had to share this recipe with you.  It is perfect for those late summer peaches that are still in the store. You know the ones that are better for baking or making jam with because they are just kind mushy.  This peach blueberry "buckle" didn't exactly buckle because I put a few to many blueberries and peaches in it, but I am kind of the opinion that there is no such thing as too much fruit in this.  It definitely came out more cakey, but it absolutely delicious as a breakfast cake served warm.  Give it a try or save it for next summer, either way Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting in the form of a wedding cake

This week marked seven years of living in DC and working at The Academy.  It's been full of adventures and I can't wait to see what the future holds..and all of the different desserts to come.

This week is going to be about something new for me...my very first tiered cake and my sister-in-laws wedding cake.  I am a little late posting it, but I had to share the adventure that it was making it.  The task at hand was a blueberry lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting.  I made this cake a couple of months ago for my team member, Emily's, birthday, but this time I had to think about the best way to travel with the cake.  So, I made the cakes in DC, buckled the KitchenAid mixer into the back seat, and set out to frost the cakes in Grifton.  And well...the cakes survived the trip, the frosting came together and I managed to tier the cakes well enough to not have them come falling down. 

The cake itself was delicious, super moist with just the right amount of tartness to help some of the sweetness from the cake and blueberries.  It wasn't what I would call a traditional wedding cake, but it was absolutely delicious!  Someone even said it was the best wedding cake he had ever had, and that was coming from the minister.  So if you like blueberries and lemons, and basically want to have a muffin with frosting for dessert.  Enjoy!

Time for the frosting...the 10" cake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Triple Layer Cake" - Chocolate Chip Cookie, Brownie and Vanilla Cake

You know those moments when you are left with only your thoughts? Whether you are on a 7 hour flight, running a half marathon and trying to think about anything but how many miles are left, or just laying by the pool, sometimes they are what you really need. Sometimes I think we all avoid being with just our thoughts, because there are things in life we don't want to think about...other times you just have to make yourself do it so you can try and figure things out. 

Recently I can't stop thinking about what's next, and I DON'T mean kids. I mean, I really still enjoy my job, but I have been loving to meet with brides and help as a day of coordinator. BUT is it really okay if I have a side job?  I mean it's good because I am learning, like I keep learning here by making new recipes, testing my knowledge and skills, but I am not sure how others will see it.  After lots of thought though, I think I have to go for it so wish me luck! (www.whiskedawayweddings.com)

In honor of it, this week lets talk about cake. Let's talk about a cake that was fun, challenging, time consuming and required a lot of planning, just the way planning a wedding can.  This cake is no ordinary cake it is three individual layers that come together into an amazing birthday cake that just had to have sprinkles on top.  Whether someone prefers chocolate chip cookies over brownies over vanilla cake they are all here stuck together with creamy vanilla buttercream frosting.  So, if you have the time, and are looking for a fun dessert, give this one a try.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Peaches n' Cream Scones

Well it's been a bit well busy around here lately, but doesn't everyone claim they are busy these days?  I have started reading a book that talks about learning to spend and give your time towards things you are more interested in, rather than just giving and doing because you feel like you should.  I haven't made progress with this yet, but I will keep you posted.  

Let's see...the past few weeks have been...

A trip to Park City, UT for a few days with work...this fall is going to be crazy, but these aspen trees are beautiful. 

5 cakes in one week: 2 cheesecakes, the crazy cake below...

(From bottom to top: chocolate chip cookie, brownie, vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Classic Browned Butter Vanilla Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

My mind has been wondering lately and I keep having hard time concentrating on the task at hand...wonder what it means.  I'll just leave you with that for now...

Do you ever feel like you can never get enough sleep?  Or maybe it's just that getting up, taking Margeaux for a walk and trying to go back to sleep 30 minutes later just isn't the same as sleeping in on the weekends.  A couple of Thursday evenings ago, between taking Margeaux for multiple walks I made a cake.  It went like this...get home from work, take Margeaux for a walk to the park, come home make the cake batter.  Put cakes in the oven, then take Margeaux for a quick timed walk...she didn't do all of her business the first time around apparently...and there were cakes in the oven that needed rotating after 10 minutes.  A little while later...eat dinner, let the cakes cool for a bit and start the frosting.  Take Margeaux for another walk around the block.  Come in finish the frosting, get the bottom layer frosted, before she is begging for another walk...what can I say I am a total pushover.  (One of these days I will learn, but she did actual go to the bathroom every time.) Come in, finish frosting cake...realize I left all cake boxes in my office and improvise for storage for the night with the old tooth pick saran wrap trick.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grilled Avocado with Poblano & Queso Fresco

Well this is it for now on the savory side.  It has been a fun month getting to share some savory dishes here (Do you think I should continue to throw some on here every now and again?)  I thought I would round out the month with a new dish for me to make, but a take on one of my new favorites at Rose's Luxury.  We can definitely just go ahead and call this a copy cat recipe for their Grilled Avocado which is basically amazingly delicious, I wish I was eating one right now, and I hope it stays on their menu for a long time.  

Grilled avocado, if you have never tried one, almost melts in your mouth with of course a nice grilled flavor.  Charles said last night that it scoops out almost like ice cream.  To make it a copy cat and not knowing Rose's actual recipe, I grilled my poblano pepper and half a seeded jalapeno to get a nice char on each.  I couldn't find cotija cheese at the store, so I substituted with some queso fresco.   This turned out exactly like I hoped it would.   The peppers add great flavor with a little kick and a different texture.  The cheese adds a nice creaminess that softness the spicy nice of the jalapeno.  If you are a big fan of avocados, I would definitely give this recipe a try.  I know next time that I have to make two avocados because Charles wants an entire one to himself.  Now that the grill is out, these are definitely going to be in the mix this summer.  Enjoy! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

My go to Summer Pesto...Beet Greens & Pecans Pesto

Recipe 3 in my going savory/non-baked recipes month.  

Let's talk pesto...in the Owen's household (still a little weird to say), I am the only pesto eater.  Thus, if I make it like I have a tendency to do in the summer months, I generally incorporate it into my lunch menus.  This week I used it two ways, but there are plenty of uses for a good pesto.  This week as roasted vegetable and pasta salad with this pesto and then a prosciutto caprese sandwich with pesto instead of basil.  I don't know what it is...well it'd probably all of the yummy tomatoes that it goes so well with and the abundance of fresh basil...but pesto screams summer to me.  This recipe is simple easy, and if you don't use all of the pesto within a week or so, you can totally freeze it!  Give it a try this summer and Enjoy!

This week was...being a puppy parent on my own while Charles was in New York.  Having a screw in my tire...leading to me needing a whole new tire, but to literally brighten my day this rainbow came out of nowhere. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

The only burger I make at home...Buffalo aka Bison Burgers

Let's talk burgers...they come in all sizes, they are now made with all different meat or no meat at all, and let's be real the toppings are endless.  I feel like a burger could really say a lot about a person, what do your burger toppings say about you? Check it out  I wish my burger said..."I'm trying to be slightly healthy by having a buffalo burger with lettuce, tomato and avocado, but I also like my cheese and BBQ sauce too...not everything can be healthy."  These burger are my go to, they are my let me still try to impress my husband and cook a "man" dinner, but let me serve it with some sauteed spinach, since fries at home just aren't the same.  These burgers are incredibly juicy and filled with flavor...the key ingredients being, well other than the ground bison, jalapeno, onions, Worcestershire sauce and some Morton's steak seasoning.   If you have never had a buffalo burger, you should really give one a try, it really does taste just as good as a regular burger, but is leaner, has more nutrients and just better for you.  I use it for nacho night and in spaghetti sauce...pretty much anywhere ground beef would normally be used.  Give this burger a try and Enjoy!

This week there has also been some baking...even though I am going savory recipes this month, doesn't mean there isn't still room for plenty of sweet things.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Beet Hash aka Red Flannel Hash

Okay...I know I am stepping way out of the box here for doing a savory non-baked dish here, but stick with me...I promise it's delicious.  I figured with summer nearly upon us, we are all looking for new and different ways to use summer veggies.  I made this beet hash for the first time last summer after tasting the red flannel hash at Founding Farmers in DC.  Their beet hash is not nearly as beet heavy though with more potatoes and peppers.  What I wanted, after I had finished cleaning my plate, was for there to have been more beets, so I figured I would try making my own.  Don't worry though, there are still some potatoes in these to go along with them green peppers and onions.  This dish really makes for a great breakfast for dinner situation and lets you still have your veggies too.  Give it a try...if you like beets that is and Enjoy!

First things first, clean the raw beets, remove the greens (but clean and save them for later. We will be making beet green pesto with those.), cut off the root and clean with a brush.  Then peel with your handy dandy peeler.  This could definitely be done ahead of time, and just store the shredded beets in a container. (If their ends up being a lot of excess beet juice at the bottom of the container, discard before adding in the potatoes, green peppers and onions.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Life...just a glimpse

Once again I have been falling behind...so let's quickly catch up here friends...

In the past month there have been browned butter vanilla bean cupcakes with sprinkles for a baby shower.

A bridal shower with biscuit bar, my fav cinnamon rolls and mini spinach bacon quiche.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gluten-free Nutella Cupcakes

I have to admit...and it's a little sad...I just started watching Mad Men from the beginning just a few weeks ago.  I am totally wrapped up in it, which makes it convenient that Charles has been away a lot recently, and I have been able to just sit on the couch, hangout without Margeaux and veg after a few crazy weeks. (The last week of April was my last meeting of the spring, great weather in Southern California and a fun meeting.) This month has been fun though, and I will eventually have to get off said couch.  This month I have gotten to make cupcakes and muffins for a gender reveal party, cake for three office birthdays and a brunch full of baking for the future Mrs. Carmichael's bridal shower.  Let's talk about these cupcakes now though.  First off they are gluten-free and I promise you would never know it!  They are gluten-free devils food cupcakes with chocolate ganache, Nutella frosting and chopped hazelnuts.  OMG so delicious!

If you have never seen the sun set over the Pacific Ocean your missing something...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Some of the best cupcakes I have made in a while...Smore's Cupcakes

It's been a long time, but its been a bit a crazy around here...Charles and I got a puppy and she is both extremely cute and often very crazy...but that's a puppy for you right?  I've been baking to, but I have had a bit of writers block.  Sometimes I don't know what to say, well often times.  Plus, I often feel like I have to say something riveting here...when I could just talk about the food or well these cupcakes.  These were for Amy's birthday, and I was really excited to get to make s'mores cupcakes for her.  So let's talk about cupcakes, these cupcakes that I didn't want to stop eating; that were definitely some of the best cupcakes I have made in a very long time.  I really, really wish I had another one right now.  The cake is soft and spongy and the ganache with the toasted marshmallow fluff...OMG mouth watering so good! You should definitely make these soon and often.  Also, I can't imagine any adult or child that wouldn't love them!

Meet Margeaux...cute and a little crazy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quadruple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Warning this post is only minimally about the delicious bundt cake above...

Sometimes you just have to look up to enjoy pure beauty.

Or look at things from a different perspective.

This post is a little about life and a lot more personal...Last week was Northern California among the Redwoods and with delicious wine, this week it's Alexandria and the last full week of March will be Dallas...for me that is.  For my husband, last weekend was Austin, TX, this "long" weekend Florida, next week New York. We will meet somewhere in the middle though with the 8 nights/days we are in the same city.  I wouldn't normally chat about Charles and our relationship that much here in my little baking space, but this month I thought I would give him a shout out...it's a pretty significant month for us anyways, not than anyone reading this really cares.  As the story goes...10 years ago on February 28th we had our first date while watching the Oscars and a month later (March 28th) the "titles" were official.  Granted we had a break/brief hiatus in there, but we just won't count that alright?  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

One special birthday cake...butterscotch chip with butterscotch frosting

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of making my nephew's, 6th birthday cake.  This cake took one Uber car ride to the airport, one airplane flight, a couple more car rides until it made its way from D.C. to the bowling alley in Charlotte.  The tricky thing, you know besides all of the different modes of transportation, was that the cake weighed at last 15 pounds....no joke.  This was a pretty big cake to take on an airplane.  It was two 9" x 13" inch vanilla cakes with butterscotch chips layered on top of one another, with a thick layer of butterscotch frosting between the layers and coating the outside.  Plus, some fondant so I could have this birthday cake be extra special.  It was definitely a hit, and the best present I could have given my nephew.  My sister-in-law even called it the "Best cake EVER."  So, if you like butterscotch as much as my nephew, Cameron, then give this cake a try and enjoy! (P.S. you can totally make this as cupcakes, or as a simple three layer 9" round cake.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Apple Cranberry Crostata

Can you ever not figure out what to say because you have so much on your mind that you don't even know where to start? That's where I have been the past week. Trying to figure out what to say. Do I chat about the classes I started taking? How it's weird to be back in a classroom for a couple of classes and having to take quizzes. Or how last weekend we had homework where we actually had to make a PowerPoint and present it the next day. It's just so different since I haven't taken a class in...7 years!  That I am loving it because I am such an uber nerd and love learning.

Do I talk about how nervous I was about the actual execution of making my nephews birthday cake, decorating it with fondant and then having to carry it on the airplane. Crossing my fingers the entire time that first it would make it through security and then be "safe" in the overhead bin after takeoff and landing.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brown Sugar White Chocolate Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bourbon Glaze & Caramel

This has been a long time coming...well you know a month.  But that is a long time when a LOT of baking has happened between now and then.  This is a dessert that I deconstructed and then reconstructed in a new form at the request of a good friend for his birthday.  James gave me the challenge for his birthday, in December, to take his favorite dessert from a restaurant and make it into a cake.  They called their dessert a bread pudding...I would call it a mini bundt cake...but to each their own.  I mean I just took the flavors and incorporated them into this brown sugar bundt cake.  To say the very least this was a very rich cake with layers of flavor.  The base is a brown sugar cake that has white chocolate pieces throughout that melted while baking.  The cake was then topped with a caramel sauce, then a vanilla bourbon glaze and raspberry sauce just for serving.  Since it was served for breakfast, because well James always wants his birthday dessert for breakfast, I left off the ice cream.  Give it a try and Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Soft and Chewy Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

A day in the life of a meeting planner...

...just kidding I wouldn't do that to you.  Well in my real world, real job, 2015 has been officially kicked off with a week in Phoenix.  I had such high hopes going into this meeting that it would be a nice break from the cold; I was dreaming of mid-70's and sunny.  However, it was more like the mid-60's windy and chill...especially since I had only packed skirts to go with my work cardigans.  It really was actually beautiful, and great to kickoff the new year of meetings.  Overall only 20 more weeks of meetings to go now out of the 22 this year.  Granted I am thankfully only going to be at 9 of them since I have such an awesome team.  It really is fun though, even if we do work crazy hours sometimes.  

It's warm enough in Phoenix...most of the time...for the flowers to bloom and the oranges to grow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Birthday #3 for January...Buttermilk Spice Cake

Some firsts this month...
...This is the first Emeril Lagasse recipe I have ever made. 
...This is also the first spice cake I have ever made...not sure why I haven't had this cake in my life sooner.
...That almond cake I made earlier this month, was also the first almond cake I had ever made.
...Last night I made my first crostata and it looks a little something like this...it's apple and cranberry and totally what I wanted to make when it was cold and snowy outside.
Hmmm what else should I make this month?

It's January and I figure it is time to start trying new things.  I mean I guess it doesn't really matter that it's January...  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

6 Birthdays in 1 Month...starting with a Raspberry Almond Cake

One month, 6 office birthdays which will ultimately equal 6 different desserts.  Oh and somehow it passed me by, but it's been FOUR years now here whisking away...holy cow!  This will mark my 278th post; there have been about 252 recipes to go through this blog and my kitchen, plus I have been able to have several friends stop by and share their recipes with you.  You have gotten to travel with me to a few bakeries to hear how their owners started and travel with my as I stuff my face.  It has been a lot of fun the entire way!  So thank you for reading and being a part of my baking adventures.  Please, please feel free to comment anytime.  I LOVE hearing from you out there!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Starting off 2015 on a savory note...Pancetta Mushroom Onion Tarts

It was New Year's Eve and I didn't make something sweet.  To end 2014 I went savory and could not have been happier that I did.  These pancetta mushroom onion tarts are seriously delicious and I am not just trying to talk them up.  I am really just already trying to find another excuse to make them.  They are the quintessential French tart and super easy to make.  I was aiming for these tarts to taste like my favorite tart at Le Diplomate in DC, and I think I hit fairly close to the mark.  If mushrooms aren't your arch nemesis like they are a friend of mines, then your should definitely give these a try!  Plus you could definitely make these single serving size instead of making them finger food "party sized".  Either way Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cappuccino Pavlova x2

Well it's 2015...Let's see how many times I write 2014 before I get it right.  All signs are currently pointing for 2015 to be a year of growth.  To try something new and not wait around for life to happen.  Just last week my horoscope (and let me add I do not check more horoscope weekly, nor do I really believe there is anything behind them, but they are occasionally on point) pointed me in the direction of a quote by author Robert Moss, "If we wait until we are fully prepared in order to do something, we may never get it done," he says. "It's important to do things before we think we are ready."  I am going to try and think about this going into 2015 and really try to dive in this year.  To not be afraid of what could happen by take what does happen in strides.  The question then is, what are you going to dive into in 2015? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 All Wrapped Up

Oh what a year...

For baking...
This year there were 26 office birthday desserts; here are a handful.

There were challenges...making a giant Reese's cup; there were classics...carrot cake; and there were boozy cakes...an Old Fashioned Cake with bourbon and all.
This year I got to bake for friends...pies and cakes, including a pig grooms cake and bumble bee cupcakes for a baby shower; plus 103 cupcakes and one salted caramel cake for a wedding.

This year I have learned what it is to be completely exhausted from baking.  I did it again just last week.  8 cakes with 7 frosting and two fillings in two days.  I might have had to sit down in a chair to prepare brunch for the next day after baking all of these cakes.