Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Somehow the last day of 2010 is upon us. For me, these past 365 days were a roller coaster ride - exciting, stressful, encouraging, and frustrating. But through each and every day, my family and friends have surrounded me, supported me, loved me.

This morning I will take my traditional run through Central Park, the only spot on this island not filled to the brim with tourists. Unlike any other run during the year, I reflect upon the past days, reset myself, and adjust my focus while hearing only the crunch of my feet against the packed snow.

I have a feeling this upcoming year will be incredible. I look forward to honing my writing and photography, while sharing recipes and a glimpse into my sweet life with each of you. Thank you all for allowing me to steal a few moments of your day to express my thoughts and discoveries.

Mike and I will ring in 2011 with his family, hopefully sealed with a kiss and the sweet taste of champagne lingering on our lips. I wish all of you an exciting, safe evening as you ring in a healthy new year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Stollen


Christmas morning. Presents unwrapped and revealed, empty stockings rehung, and the decorated tree breathing a deep sigh of relief. Breakfast in my family is a secondary thought to the excitement of the morning and the turkey in the oven.


But this year, the morning before Mike and I fought the tourists and traffic to escape the city for a quaint Christmas in southwestern Virginia, I kneaded the silky, spicy stollen dough between my fingers and incorporated the dried fruit smelling of fresh orange juice and comforting bourbon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


Recently, the gym I frequent installed several new pieces of equipment whose televisions broadcast an extended number of channels. I cannot tell you how many times I wished for the Food Network to be offered, convincing myself I would positively work-out more often if it were available.

So while trying one of the new machines, I was ecstatic to flip to the Food Network and find one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Giada, whipping up an array of food to eat after an afternoon of ice skating.

Suddenly there were images of oatmeal cookies, chock full of dried cranberries and chocolate chunks, flashing across my screen. And just like that, my motivation to lose those stubborn five pounds was wiped away as quickly as the towel dabbing beads of sweat from my forehead.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Alice's Tea Cup & An Interview


Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Leti of ‘Becoming Lola’ for tea and scones at the famous Alice’s Tea Cup on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The storefront is like a fantasy playroom for every little girl - knickknacks, pink tutus, and butterflies fluttering across the ceiling.

Leti emailed me a few weeks prior to our meeting and expressed that she would love to interview me for her sweet blog. As if that weren’t enough of a compliment, she confessed she had been a long-time reader of my blog, meaning she was reading when I thought my parents were my only readers! She must have loved the “Hi Mom!” comments.


It is no secret that my little blog has evolved quite a bit this past year and a few more of you lovely readers stop by my little home on the Internet each day. I cannot express how excited this makes me and I hope you are finding something to your liking.

I am also a devoted blog reader and love the thrill of stumbling across a new one to add to my list. But before I become a regular reader of any blog, I like to know a little about the person who’s words I am reading. I think becoming an invested reader of a blog is, on a very basic level, similar to beginning a relationship. Just a little glimpse into some one's life and a hint of what really makes them tick can be the beginning of a beautiful thing.


So, if you want to know a bit more about me, skip on over to read my interview on Becoming Lola. Stay awhile - as if the whimsical photographs and sweet words hadn’t already enticed you to linger.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate-Peppermint Cream Whoopie Pies


What is it about the month of December that makes me crave the combination of deep chocolate and creamy peppermint? During any other month in the year, a dessert boasting these flavors would not tempt me in the least.

But, with the first whiff of woodsy pine trees and the first glimmer of twinkle lights I instantaneously want the chill of peppermint on my tongue.

A mere one day after Christmas, when the presents have been unwrapped and the tree is looking somehow barren, peppermint does not cross my mind. So with only a span of 25 days each year, I think it is important to feed this craving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baker's Gift Idea: Inspiring Photographs & A Giveaway!

Let’s be honest, at various points in our lives in the kitchen, we all hit a roadblock, leaving us uninspired and yearning for an ounce of creativity.

We all have our own way of moving past this inconvenient obstacle and, for many people, it is through photography, transporting them to another place, having their breath taken away by a finished product, or reminding them of the beauty of a single ingredient.

I have always thought one of the best gifts you can give a cook or a baker is something that contains a plethora of these photographs - a cookbook or a magazine subscription.

But I also think a single photograph, framed and hung somewhere meaningful will have just as much power to inspire creativity in the kitchen.

So today, as Christmas day is rapidly approaching and we search for those last few gifts, I would like to give something to you, my readers, to inspire your own kitchen adventures in the coming year.

I am giving away one (1) 5”x7” print of your choosing from my Etsy shop!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gingersnap Ice Cream


I love the boldness of flavors in a gingersnap cookie - the spicy ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom exquisitely balanced by the sweetness of the molasses - exploding on my tongue with the first nibble.

Not every person favors this flavor profile, in fact most people either love or hate this ginger-infused dessert. Fair warning: if you are not smitten with gingersnaps, you will probably want to skip this recipe.

Unlike many gingersnap ice creams, crushed gingersnaps are not mixed into a milder tasting ice cream base. Instead, this recipe infuses the custard with all the spices and sweetness you find in the cookie. The flavors are not shy, which is exactly why I love it so much.

If you are like me and crave complex, comforting flavors of a gingersnap whenever the temperature dips below freezing, you should spin a batch of this ice cream immediately.

Do not allow the cold weather deter you from enjoying a generous scoop of this frozen deliciousness. The spiciness will take the chill off any winter day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baker's Gift Idea: Dishcloths

Is it just me or is Christmas approaching extra rapidly this year? I somehow convinced myself an extra week existed in December, a conviction which I sadly discovered to be completely false as I glanced at my calender this morning.

So, if you are still searching for a few functional items to gift the baker in your life, here is another suggestion: good-quality, durable dishcloths.

Dishcloths! Perhaps not glamorous, but an invaluable item on baking days. I always have one nearby to keep my work space neat and tidy.

Many different brands make dishcloths, but my favorite are from Williams-Sonoma, which are available throughout the year in a variety of colors. If your baker has been extra good this year, you might consider throwing in the matching towels!

Williams-Sonoma Dishcloths, Set of Four (available in-stores) $8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Balls


These little confections always have a place among my family's Christmas festivities.  The silky, rich chocolate coats the slightly crunchy peanut butter ball, epitomizing a classic flavor combination. 

Not only are these treats delicious, albeit quite addictive, but they are incredibly simple to whip up.  

The simplicity of the recipe allows children and grown-ups to enjoy reaching into the mixing bowl together, which is exactly how my sister and I learned this recipe.  Some children will enjoy the messy job of working the peanut butter into the dry ingredients (my sister) and other children will enjoy shaping each peanut butter ball to uniform sizes (me).

With a couple of these chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls, a steaming cup of hot cocoa, and a toasty fire, you will be ready to snuggle in for a long winter's night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Where Women Cook' Launch


Yesterday afternoon, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the launch party for a beautiful new magazine, Where Women Cook.  The event took place in Chelsea Market and brought together inspiring women of various blogs as well as the influential women of Chelsea Market.

The line wrapped around the corner, inching along as eager women patiently juggled winter coats, cameras, shopping bags, and purses.  Eventually, I caught my first glimpse into the event, an energetic room filled with smiles, laughs, and an amazing collection of vintage aprons.


It was immediately evident why the line was creeping so slowly along - each of the women was taking the time to greet each person, sign each and every publication, and pose for countless photos.


First up, Amy Scherber of Amy's Bread here in NYC.  Her production kitchen, with floor-to-ceiling windows revealing busy bakers kneading, shaping, and baking countless loaves of bread, is housed right in Chelsea Market.

It was very much a thrill for me to meet Amy face-to-face.  Her story and recipes were of constant source of inspiration during the bread module of pastry school, for both myself and my classmates.  Her newest book, Amy's Bread, can be found on the bookshelves of the most accomplished pastry chefs, bakers, and foodies in the city.


Then onto Mary Cleaver of The Cleaver Co. and The Green Table, also located in Chelsea Market.  I have been meaning to indulge with a glass of wine and good eats at The Green Table for some time.  

Next, the beautiful Suzy Eaton of Suzy Eaton Designs.  I absolutely cannot wait to pour over her food styling portfolio.


I caught Elizabeth Maxson of The Adventures of Elizabeth just as she was about to leave.  Of all the beautiful kitchens featured in the magazine, I could relate to hers the most - needing to make a functional, beautiful space out of a small kitchen with a limited budget.  On a completely unrelated note, I loved the ruffle sleeves on her jacket!

Also, this photo shows a glimpse of the perfect runners on each table - reminiscent of old flour sacks and personalized with the word 'create'.  Love!

Mamma Agata of Mamma Agata Cooking School and author of Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine greeted me not as though I was the hundredth person to meet her, but as though she had been waiting all day to see me.  I cannot even imagine how warm, inviting, and friendly her cooking school must be.  Perhaps one day I will visit the Amalfi Coast and discover for myself!


Next, the hip Marsey Iverson was sweet enough to sign my magazine, complete with a smiley face.

Then, artist Megan Halsey, who created a beautiful page in the magazine.


Celeste Shaw of Chaps Coffee Co. and Cake in Spokane, Washington caught me completely off-guard when she snapped my picture right after I captured her signing my magazine.  

I am now terrified some awful photo of me will now appear on the internet, with my eyes closed and mouth agape.  I should probably hop the next plane to Spokane, drink from her pretty blue 'Cake' coffee mugs, and try each item on the menu.  I'm all about stress eating.

Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon of The Fancy Farm Girl and The Fancy Farm Girl Photography was responsible for the breathtaking photography throughout the magazine.  Her photography is incredible and I totally wanted her necklace!


The beautiful Serena Thompson of The Farm Chicks, blogger, and author of The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen: Live Well, Laugh Often, Cook Much and The Farm Chicks Christmas: Merry Ideas for the Holidays.  She is also a contributing editor for Country Living magazine and just opened 'Farm Chicks' storefront in Spokane, Washington.  Oh, and she is also a wife and mother to four little boys.

Inspired yet?  Me too.

Serena's kitchen was my absolute favorite in the entire magazine - bright, colorful, functional.  It was evident that the space was the heart of her home and the photos made me want to jump in there and make a batch of cupcakes with her sweet cupcake liners.  I may have told her that, although I did resist the urge to tell her that I also wanted her beautiful, glossy hair.


Jo!  The powerful woman behind this great new magazine, appearing a bit more relaxed than an hour before.  Despite her proclaimed nervousness, I hope she was able to take in all the energy and excitement of the event.

That's MaryJane Butters of MaryJanes Farm giving me a sweet smile.


This table was manned by Rozanne Gold, Sarabeth, and Molly Wizenberg of Orangette.  Her book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, has been on my list of books to read for far too long.


Patricia Helding of Fat Witch Bakery, who drew the Fat Witch logo for each person!

The glowing Sarma Melngailis of Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck.


And finally, the main attraction of the event, sitting perfectly perched at the head of the room, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman and author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.  

As a blogger, Ree is an incredible inspiration to me.  Each of her posts, whether about food, family, or other adventures on the ranch feel as though she is opening her arms and welcoming me, and each of her thousands of readers, into her life.  Her writing is honest and funny, never fussy or self-centered.  

Standing across from her in real life, my knees shaking in my boots,  her smile and friendly, "Hi there!" immediately put me at ease, at least enough to carry-on a decent conversation.  She is not only amazingly beautiful, but her demeanor is as down-to-earth as she seems through her daily entries.

Not surprisingly, her kitchen is one my favorites in the magazine, although I already had a sneak peak into the space awhile back from both the LA Times and Bakerella.  Each time I wait impatiently for my cookies to bake, six at a time, in my counter top oven, I imagine baking in her sprawling kitchen, equipped with multiple ovens and more than two burners, looking over the Oklahoma countryside. 

One day later, I still do not feel I have full absorbed how exciting it was to meet this wonderful group of women.  So much talent and energy contained in one space, together to celebrate the beginning of an incredible new magazine.

I have so enjoyed flipping through my issue of Where Women Cook, looking at the spaces of these creative women and bookmarking recipes for the future.  The magazine evokes memories of the women in my own family, busily working in their kitchens, a place where I have always felt most comfortable and at home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Gelato with Salted Caramel Sauce & Candied Bacon


I consider myself incredibly blessed to be dating a handsome, driven, supportive man.  For the past five years (!), it has been amazingly comforting to know I have someone to make me laugh each and every day.

But, as with most relationships, there is just this one, nagging thing I desperately wish I could change about him.  He remains steadfast in his unwillingness to change, however, although not for lack of trying on my part.

It is not the fact that he consistently hangs his towel on the wrong hook (at least he hangs it up, right?), not because he hands me the remote to turn off the television every night, not because he goes deaf when I start doing dishes, and not because I seem to be the only person in this apartment who seems to know how to put on coffee for the next morning.

I consider these minor and, mostly, livable quirks of which it is not worth the effort to demand change.

So, what is this one lingering thing that drives me crazy?

The boy does not like fruit desserts of any variety.  None.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baker's Gift Idea: Ateco Round Cutter Set

Another great gift idea of the baker in your life, or in yourself, is one that I reach for over and over again in my baking adventures.

I purchased these last year with a gift certificate I received after graduating from pastry school.  Since then, I cannot count the number of times I have used these rings.

They are not only perfect for cookies and biscuits, but also ensure baked goods fit perfectly in whatever container I may be presenting the final project.

These 12 rings have a happy home in this metal container, which makes for tidy storage when I am not using them.

Ateco makes these sets for lots of different shapes and I imagine I am not the only baker who dreams of one day, owning each and every set.

But a set of simple, classic circle cutters are the perfect beginning of such a collection.

You can find this set of circle cutters in most cake decorating stores, or online:

Happy Baking! 

Sugar Cookie Dough


Decorating sugar cookies during the holiday season is a simple pleasure for both children and parents. I still remember the decorating station my mother would set-up for my sister and me, icing, sprinkles, and cookies galore.  Armed with a mug of hot cocoa, we were entertained for hours.

But sometimes, the hectic pace of the season can make mixing up sugar cookie dough seem more like a task than an enjoyable tradition.

After I started decorating sugar cookies and subsequently receiving not-so-subtle requests from my friends, I learned to always keep at least one batch of this recipe on hand. While sugar cookie dough only keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, it can, gloriously, be frozen for up to three months.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Tart


When it comes to leftovers, the savory components of Thanksgiving dinner receive all the love. Turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pies, turkey soups, turkey paninis. Potato pancakes. Cranberry sauce by the spoonful.

Mike and I were absolutely sick of turkey by day three of trying to create something incredible from our leftovers.

While there was not a crumb of Thanksgiving pie to be found, I was left with three lovely machintosh apples from the farmer's market and one bag of fresh, ruby cranberries.


So, technically, this is Thanksgiving leftovers, dessert-style. Served alongside a perfect quenelle of homemade vanilla ice cream, these flavors provide a beautiful transition to the holiday season.

And with a presentation this beautiful, who would ever guess these are leftovers?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baker's Gift Idea: BeaterBlade Mixer Attachment

Last year, I received the BeaterBlade attachment as a Christmas gift from my parents. I had been eyeing the seemingly brilliant product during each and every excursion to a certain kitchen goods store.

However, I was always somewhat hesitant to purchase the attachment, not because of the price, but because I was not certain how well this product would actually perform.

As most of you know, I have a typical closet-sized Manhattan kitchen - meaning every new product or appliance I decide to purchase, no matter the size, must work perfectly all the time.

Almost a year and countless cookies and cakes later, I can hardly imagine my world without this clever little tool. Life with the BeaterBlade is one where phrases like "scrape after each addition", a phrase us bakers have put up with for far too long, do not exist.

So if you are looking for a unique, time-saving, sure to be used over and over again gift for the baker in your life (or yourself!), I cannot recommend the BeaterBlade enough.

As a note, the BeaterBlade is available for many different mixers and models. To ensure you gift the correct attachment, this handy guide is available.  BeaterBlade can be purchased from the following:

Happy Baking!

Mercat de la Boqueria


While Mike and I enjoyed our sun-filled days in Barcelona, it became quite apparent that we were lucky enough to be in a city boasting an incredible array of food. The Mercat de la Boqueria, just off La Rambla, was no exception to this observation.  The indoor market was filled with vendors manning stands of vegetables, fruit, meat, cheeses, nuts, chocolates, and candy.

We so enjoyed walking the aisles and were even lucky enough to find one of our favorite breakfast places right amongst the energy and pace of the market - a restaurant that deserves its very own post. Be sure to add this to your "must do" list while in Barcelona.  You do not want to miss food shopping amongst the locals.


Mercat de la Boqueria
Placita Boqueria, 1
08002 Barcelona, Spain
933 182 017
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