Friday, December 23, 2011

A Midnight Snack

I just got home from work at 1:30 am. I cooked up a quick dinner that my mom left me and started to bake some gingerbread men for a customer. But of course I have to try one! I'm staying up late... I'm putting in the effort... it's only fair right? Right.

Mmmmmmm. Warm gingerbread right out of the oven. This. Is. The. Life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Bitter Sweet Goodbye

As the Christmas season edges closer and closer, the end of the college semester ends. The normal college student would have had their classes all picked out for the 2012 season by now. However, I am finished with school! Crazy! I can't believe that I will no longer be driving back and forth from the college campus or waiting on the edge of my seat at 11:59pm because registration opens at Midnight and I fear not getting the classes I want. Nope. That is no more.

While I enjoyed school, I got in that mind set one time that it wasn't for me and I had no care in the world to continue but in reality, who doesn't have that moment? I am proud to say after a bit of jumping around, I have an Associates in Baking and Pastry Arts and have just finished my requirements for an A.A.S. in Small Business Management. I must say, I am quite proud.

I must say, I will miss the hustle and bustle of getting classes set up, the challenge of finding out which way to buy books is cheaper, as well as the homework (yes, I am a nerd.) however, I am kind of excited to be all done! Is it scary? Yes. But I'm just gonna take my part-time retail job and run with it until something fantastic comes along.

Not to mention, I still have quite a lot of learning to do! I have baking books to read, notes to take in the binding, recipes to write and to test, and of course a blog to write! The schooling isn't over. It just won't be in a sit down classroom anymore.

I must say, I am quite proud of my self for being as I am. I may have wanted to give up, but I never let myself. I think that's what matters. I have no regrets just happy thoughts for the upcoming year.

That's exactly how you should go about life.
Happy Thursday everyone!

Celebratory 'I <3 Cupcakes' Shot!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Amongst my many obsessions in life, Christmas Cookies rank very high on the list. They just have so much holiday spirit behind them. When I look at a Christmas cookie I just feel happy. Which... was why I was so thrilled to be a part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year.

Can you believe that because of this cookie swap, 22,000 were sent around the world? How fabulous is that?

I sent my cookies to North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey... All very local. But! I received my cookies from Arkansas, Arizona, and Washington State. It is pretty fun that these cookies were sent across the country just to make my holiday very special (:

A big thank you goes out to Nicole at The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie, Megan Pence at Country Cleaver, and Andrea at Recipes for Divine Living. All of your cookies were fabulous and truly mad my holidays special!

It was so fun waiting every day after the deadline to send. I felt like a little kid waiting constantly at the mailbox.

For my cookie, I chose to make Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with Cinnamon and a kick of Chili. The were a slight obsession at my house and I hope my enjoyed them just as much as my family did. They are very easy to make and have just the right amount of chocolate. I suggest these for any new addition for a holiday cookie tray.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
With a hint of cinnamon and a kick of chili

12 Ounces Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate
3/4 Cup Flour
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining 4 ounces. Mix your flour, cinnamon, chili, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
With a mixer, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add yours eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the melted chocolate, and beat until well blended. Gradually beat in flour on low speed until well mixed. Stir in your chopped chocolate. Drop dough by rounded Tablespoons on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake for about 10 minutes or just until cookies are set and cracked on top. Bakes about 30 cookies.

Enjoy! ( :

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tracking a Shipment!

I have just tracked the first cookies that I have ever mailed! How exciting is that? Even more exciting is that the cookies are part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! The swap had over 600 or so participants and deadline to send cookies was yesterday! This swap is on the move!

I cannot reveal what I made or who I made it for just yet, but my matches should be expecting their cookies by tomorrow! Can't wait to see what my matches have cooked up for me!

This has already been so much fun! I even have a disaster to tell you all about, but I'll get to that soon enough... I have to go wait by the mailbox (;

Happy Baking on this rainy Tuesday!

Boyfriend's 26th Birthday! I promised him no more store bought cake on my watch. The Martha Stewart Crepe Cake is absolutely fabulous!

Monday, November 21, 2011


With Thanksgiving just 3 short days away, my mom and I have finally planned what we will be cooking that day (and prepping days before hand). Last year we made it our goal to make at least one different item each year, and that tradition will continue this year!

Last Sunday we spent a few hours lounging in the living room and looking at the magazines we've both received throughout the year and had no time to read! What better time than a week and a half before big-old Turkey Day. In those two hours, we had our menu planned.

We browsed through Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart Living, and even Family Circle! We used bright yellow post-its to flag our favorite ideas, recipes, and decorating tips for the Holidays! (Might I say, Martha Stewart's December issue of living has the most flagged pages by far! I love Martha.)

What about you? What are you making for Thanksgiving? Do you have yearly traditions, or do you make different things each year?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't be that girl

You know... The one who is in a time crunch and doesn't have time to do things the way she usually does.

To bake my cakes, I use Wilton round cake pans. I have perfected the method of using Crisco to grease my pans followed by a nice coating of flour. So last week I used the last remaining drop of Crisco and totally forgot I needed more.

This weekend as I was baking my cakes for my first 'Jersey Shore' themed cake my first thought was 'I have no Crisco'. I had spray Pam (no, not the baking Pam spray... the olive oil one). I had used it successfully once before so I figured, why not? Let's wing it!

So that's just what I did. I sprayed a heavy coating of the olive oil spray and floured the pan nicely. Do you think it worked this time? Not. A. Chance.

Lesson learned: If you are in a time crunch, spend the time to run out and buy the product you need. Do not waste your time 'winging it' because you will just have to remake it.

How do you bake your cakes? Do you grease and flour, or just grease? What works for you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My first follower!!

I am so excited to have my first follower! My sister, my best friend, and my number one supporter! I love you! ( :

One of those days.

Its's cold, rainy, and wet outside. Not exactly the kind of day I hope out of bed for. More or less the kind of day that I hope happens when I am off work and able to sit around in my pjs and do nothing all day. Today that is not the case.

I have work today at 2:30pm. Only until 7:30, so that's not really a bad deal. The shift just falls in such a weird time of day. Besides, I have things to do. I hopped up out of bed this morning at 8:30 with goals in mind.

1. Make buttercream.
2. Melt white chocolate and dip cake pops.
3. Go for a run on the treadmill.

I hoped this would all be done by 11. Granted, it's just about 10:00, but there is NO way all those things will be done. In the past hour and a half I have managed to make two batches of buttercream that didn't even whip into a meringue and totally seize my white chocolate.

I had a feeling it was going to be one of those days.

Todays lesson: Don't rush.

I am afraid to walk over to check that mixing bowl...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Month in Review

This is my first, true day off in the past month and a half or so. I have been on turbo and now it's finally time to take a bit of a chill. I have no future wedding cakes to stress about, only a few small cakes for family.

I feel as though my fall totally flew by. I had minimal September and absolutely no October. And now while I have eaten probably about 2 bags of Halloween candy so far, I have yet to carve a pumpkin, watch a halloween movie, or even think about a costume for the Halloween party my sister is throwing on friday.

Oh boy am I behind. However, I have been up to some really great things. Please enjoy the photos I am posting of what I have been up to.

I will no longer slack on my blog. I will no longer slack on my blog. I will no longer slack on my blog.

Paisley Print Wedding Cake: Jill and Ryan 10/8/2011

Paisley Print Wedding Cake: Jill and Ryan 10/8/2011

Paisley Print Wedding Cake: Jill and Ryan 10/8/2011

Groom's Lego Man Cake (A true challenge for myself): Jill and Ryan 10/8/2011

Flower Pot Cookies for Bridal Shower
Idea Courtesy of: Sweet Sugar Belle

Wedding Favors: Teresa and James 10/21/2011

Cupcakes with dried lemon balm leaves: Teresa and James 10/21/2011

Cupcakes with dried lemon balm leaves: Teresa and James 10/21/2011

Cupcake Wedding 'Cake': Teresa and James 10/21/2011
Stand provided by: Scott at OhSoSweetStands

And in the spirit of relaxing, I am off to watch The View (;

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WFMW - Following Recipes

This week's suggested theme for We Are THAT Family's 'Works for Me Wednesday' was to describe something that does NOT work for you. This past week, something that does not seem to work for me is following recipes to the 't'.

I am obsessed with corn. It's kind of strange, but one of my favorite summer foods and summer flavors is good old corn on the cob. I came across this really great recipe from Bon Appetit (I do read other magazines... I swear!) called Roasted Corn with Manchego and Lime

This recipe is truly fabulous in every aspect that isn't actually written in the recipe itself. While I was lucky enough to have corn in the refrigerator, I was unsure where exactly I was going to get Manchego cheese, aside from taking a long trip up to the cheese shop where my boyfriend lives. And... They closed at 6:00. Oops.

As I googled substitutions for Manchego cheese, I had found that Manchego is actually a spanish sheep's milk cheese. If there was nothing else I learned from watching Rachael Ray daily at 10:00 everyday this spring, it was that anything with the word 'Pecorino' is a sheep's cheese. Pecorino Romano would be a perfect substitute and, even better, I knew I had it in the fridge.

When I came home from the store with my two limes, I got cooking. It went something like this..

'Oven preheated, check.'
'Corn ready to go, check.'
'Limes zested, check.'
'Now let me get out that cheese! UGHHHHH. Parmigiano reggiano???'

It would have to work.

As I worked further and further through the recipe, already substituting 1/2 green bell pepper sliced really, super thin for the two jalapenos the recipe called for (my boyfriend HATES peppers), I noticed one other thing I did not seem to have. Chives. How could I not remember the chives?

My only reasonable substitution was mint! Straight out of the garden! And while I know the sweeter flavor profile I have created was not exactly what Bon Appetit had in mind for this recipe, the out come for me personally was nothing short of fabulous.

So did we get all that?

1/2 green bell pepper in place of 2 jalapenos

Parmigiano reggiano in place of manchego

mint instead of chives

While I did enjoy my own incidental version of this recipe, I know I would love to try making the real version just to compare. If I were you, I would do the same. Not to mention... you might consider actually reading the recipe before making it unlike this doofus here (points finger at herself).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What makes a good cook book?

I stood in Barnes and Noble at 7:00 pm, Americano in hand (hot with one pump of classic syrup and enough half and half to make it caramel colored - if you must know), STARING at the large wall of cook books and baking guides tucked right into the corner where the music section used to be. I picked up a few books, namely due to my attraction to their cover image, font, or title. But then I began to think... If I personally didn't know what I looked for in a cook book, where exactly would I begin?

Do you start with the whole 'judge a book by its cover' thing? Do you block out the cover and just read the title on the binding? Or are you drawn to a certain font or shade of colors?

I know personally, I do tend to judge a book by it's cover. But! Only a book! And maybe a bottle of wine... but that's it. The next big thing is the title. It has to grab my attention and stand out from the rest. Finally, the book absolutely must have photos of each recipe. While I do admit I own books where not every recipe has a picture, the ones that do have the photos are even better. After all, how can we make it if we have no idea what it really should look like?

A blog post from 'A Slice of Cherry Pie' says that a good cook book has :
good photography
clear instructions
a theme &
recipes that work

I couldn't agree more with Julia from 'A Slice of Cherry Pie'. How about you? What do you look for?

No that you know my cook book preferences, I will share something funny with you... The book that I purchased from Barnes and Noble, even though it does have a nice picture on the front cover, has a mundane sounding title and no pictures with the recipes! You heard me.. no pictures. Weird right?

The book is called The River Cottage Bread Handbook (which can be found on the Barnes and Noble website) and is... can you guess? A bread hand book. - Now that was too easy...

What intrigued me most is that instead of facing with the binding out, the book was actually flushed against the wall, displaying the front cover. When flipping front to back (what a strange habit) I saw a 'how to' instruction guide on building your own oven. I had to have this book.

I will keep you posted on what I think of my new book as well as what I might have learned. Oh, and in case I decide to build my own oven this week, you'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bad Chinese

I will leave you for the night with one thought...

On the one night that you crave chinese, like really crave it to the point where you would do anything for a forkful of lo mein and a splash of soy sauce on that sticky white rice, isn't it absolutely annoying when all your high hopes of that craving are shot down by dry (and overly spicy) General Tso's, tough barbeque spare ribs, and over cooked wonton soup?

Grrrrrrrrrr. I want a do over so I can order from our usual place.

Just goes to show you that sometimes 'predictable' and 'usual' can be your best bet.

PS. I forgot to eat my fortune cookie. I am officially depressed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Peach Preserves

I will forever remember the first time I made Peach Preserves as the night Irene came to town. The rain, the gusting winds, the constant flickering of the lights, and the hopes that the power will stay on just a little longer so that my peaches would be fully cooked through (as well as my dinner). The price of having an electric stove.

Since I was home all day, I figured I would take a stab at crossing something off my summer to-do list (that really has yet to be touched).

Label and organize photos: started
Read The Help: 330 pages in
Read On The Road: Yeah.. Good Luck
Make a light box for when I take photos: Might help if I had a box to use...
Put all CDs in their rightful cases: Boring
Cut up Bon Appetit Magazines from '09 and '10: What if the lights go out?
Clean Out Computer: Boring
Corn Gelato: To time consuming, but sounds amazing
Go through Room: A constant project & ... boring
Freezer Jam
Peach Preserves

The last two options were neither boring or too time consuming. I decided to give them a go. While I have made freezer jam one other time this month, it did not have the right texture. I was fearful of it being too soupy and therefore it got this really strange, almost grainy texture. I am using the jam for a filling for my cousin's wedding cupcakes and I need to get it right! But that is another post, for another day.

Today is all about the Peach Preserve! I had a friends once who used to call her Grandmother 'Grandmom Peaches'. I just learned the other day that she called her Grandmom Peach because......... She made peach preserves! How did that one never process?

In the same issue of Bon Appetit where I got the recipe for the zucchini pickles, there is a fabulous recipe for 'Lord Grey's Peach Preserves.' The recipe uses Earl Grey tea bags to give some depth and floral flavor to the peaches. I however, did not have earl grey tea bags. I used good old Lipton Black Tea, and the flavor was spot on for me! I did both cut down and alter the recipe so the recipe I am giving you is my very own Peach Preserve recipe, cooked by following the directions from Bon Appetit.

Peach Preserves
5 Large, Ripe Peaches
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 T Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Black Tea bags

(also requires 2 - 12 ounce mason jars

Bring a deep pot of water to a boil. Cut a small, shallow 'x' into the bottom of each peach. Blanch the peaches until the skin loosens (about 1-3 minutes). Transfer the peaches into a large bowl full of ice water. Allow them to cool.

Peel, halve, and pit each peach. Cut them into slice about 1/3 inch thick.

Combine the peaches with sugar and lemon juice and allow them to stand for 30 minutes. (I chose to do this step in the same pot I was planning to cook them in. I saves one step and also saves a dirty dish!)

Place a small plate in the freezer (*now!* I made the mistake of waiting and the plate was not cold enough for me to test).
If you do not already have your mixture in the pot you wish to cook them in, transfer them over and add 1 tea bag to the pot.
Cut open the second and pour its contents into the mixture.

Bring to a boil, stirring gently every now and then and cook for about 15-20 minutes. To test the doneness, take the plate from the freezer and spoon some of the mixture onto the plate. If the mixture does not run, your preserves are ready!

Remove the tea bag and skim off any foam that may be on the surface. Ladle the preserves into your clean jars, wipe rims, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Canning is the best way to preserve a little bit of summer for the rest of the year. I look forward to waking up one day in January, with snow on the ground, and being able to pop open my can of Jersey Fresh Peach Preserves. How can it get any better than that?

Readers - Have you canned before? What do you enjoy canning the most? And most importantly of all, once the can is popped open, how do you enjoy your preserves? As a topping for waffles or pancakes? Spooned on top of pound cake or ice cream? Straight out of the jar with a big old fork?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Great Night In

I am sitting inside the comforts of my home while Hurricane Irene passes by. I am cooking dinner on my electric stove and hoping that if the power plans to go out, it will give me another 10 minutes to allow my pasta and chicken to finish up. I've made a mish-mosh of spinach, pasta, and 'grilled' chicken. If only I had planned ahead and picked some fresh basil before the rain came!!

I have also been busy making freezer jam, peach preserves, and taking lots of photos! I am prepping for many, many blogs to come!

I'll I can say is here's to a great night in and hopes that everyone is safe and sound.

Be Safe, everyone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WFMW - Zucchini Pickles: Pickling Tutorial P1

In the summer of 2009, I was lucky enough to complete an internship at a bakery with good values. While at school, all I was used to was low quality butter, Sweetex, and Primex. When I started at The Sweet Life Bakery, it was almost as if a whole new world was opened for me. All butter- buttercream, fresh and seasonal fruit products, and nearly everything was homemade. I was once told that everywhere you work will influence and round out what you will do in your future. Although I have worked at many other places, I must say that what I gained from The Sweet Life has had the greatest impact on my values and I am forever grateful of that.

Not long after my employment ended at the Sweet Life, I became obsessed with the ideas of all butter goods, seasonal products, local farmer's markets, and making everything from scratch. Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to see this summer's issue of Bon Appetit!

Not only does the pie on the cover look to die for, but the entire content of this issue is about using produce from your local market effectively and using produce that is in season and at it's peak taste and freshness. Also, if you are a gardener, the recipes in this issue are specifically designed to use up all that fabulous produce right in your backyard.

One of the recipes that I was most excited to try, was the "Zucchini Pickles" recipe. You might be thinking... "Zucchini... Pickles?". Yeah.. That was my first thought. Then, after a bit of consideration, I figured that cucumber and zucchini are practically cousins! They must be a hit!

Here is the recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine:

Zucchini Dill Pickles

2 lb. small zucchini
4 T coarse sea salt
12 fresh dill sprigs
2 t yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 t coriander seeds
1 t dill seeds
1/4 t saffron threads
4 garlic cloves
4 red jalapenos
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Your goal in cutting the zucchini is to make them 1. look like a pickle and 2. cut them to size so that they can properly fit in the canning jar:

Once cut, place the zucchini in a large bowl. Add 2T salt and 4 cups of ice. Add cold water to cover and top the bowl with a plate to keep each zucchini submerged:

Let the zucchini sit for two hours, drain, and rinse.

Divide your dill sprigs, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds, saffron seeds, garlic, and jalapeno evenly between each jar. The recipe calls for 2 - 1 quart jars. I used smaller, 16oz jars so to figure out how many jars I needed, I put as much zucchini as I could in each jar. This way you know you have just the right amount of space, or if you need more.

Bring the vinegar, sugar, remaining 2T of salt, and 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Add your zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally until they look a 'khaki' green color. This should be about 2 minutes. Once cooked, transfer zucchini into your jars and divide the hot syrup between them. Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch of space at the top.

Place your lids on the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow about a week to pickle, and enjoy! ( :

I have pickled my zucchini just this past Saturday so the wow factor is yet to be determined. I will be sure to follow up in a Part 2! Happy Pickling! ( :

P.S. I am eyeing up the pickles as they sit on my window sill. I. Can't. Wait.

(Works For Me Wednesday ( : )

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jumping Right In: Pickling Tutorial Teaser

This is both a test photo as well as a bit of a teaser of what is to come for my first official post and tutorial on my new and improved blogger location.

For all those who have followed me from my original location, thanks so much! I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you as well as getting your feedback.

For all those that have just stumbled across my blog, welcome! And thanks for joining me! Please stay a while. ( :


Why hello there blogger! It is time we meet again! Oh how I have missed you ( :