Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cookies and Christmas Cheer

A week ago, I began baking cookies for the Team in Training cookie auction and carried the momentum all the way through Christmas. 

I put together cute cookie tins as gifts for friends, coworkers, and family. In addition to the chocolate chip, world peace, and ginger cookies I made for the generous cookie auction winners, I baked up lemon sugar cookies, cinnadoodles, and chocolate Nutella cookies from Cookie Cravings, the beautiful cookbook from Two Peas and Their Pod. I also made Biscoff snickerdoodles, almond ice box cookies, frosted Christmas tree cutouts, and even banana nut bread and orange cranberry walnut bread. Needless to say, I ran out of butter multiple times, and barely had enough sugar left to sweeten the iced tea to serve on Christmas. I love giving homemade gifts and I always hope they are equally enjoyed by those I love! I didn't photograph a single recipe after finishing the ginger cookies, so I will share some of our Christmas decorations here instead!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ginger Cookies

I originally made these cookies for my older sister on her birthday a couple of years ago. I discovered them on David Lebovitz’s website, and the recipe sounded great. I love a chewy cookie and these were loaded with spicy ground cinnamon and ginger, candied ginger, and even a little black pepper for extra spice. To top it all off, they are a nonfat treat! 

I love the idea of sandwiching a scoop of ice cream between two cookies. Of course, that would negate the nonfat aspect of these cookies, but a cute little ice cream sandwich would totally be worth it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Team in Training Cookie Auction

This week, I am hosting an online cookie auction to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training! My sister, Melissa, is racing in the Los Angeles Marathon in Spring 2013 and has set a goal of raising $1,550 for patients and families battling blood cancers. I invited her to tell you a bit about her journey and her passion for this organization.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks

This year, Dan and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new home.  It was a beautiful holiday shared with our families and followed by the first snowfall of the season! I wanted to share a few pictures from the big day. I didn't post any recipes today, but please leave a comment if you see something especially tasty that you’d like to try!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Roll

One of my husband’s favorite desserts (dare I say his most favorite?) is pumpkin roll. A moist, spice-kissed, pumpkin sponge cake rolled up with sweet cream cheese filling – what’s not to love?  

For the last few years, pumpkin roll has been a staple in the fall and especially at Thanksgiving, right alongside the pumpkin and apple pies.  It’s so tasty!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Apple Turnovers

I hope you are enjoying the first official weekend of fall! I love the changing leaves, sweaters, scarves, and the pumpkin spice latte (though not as much as it’s more delicious cousin the gingerbread latte).

I spent Saturday morning babysitting my nephew, which involved lots of hockey, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, inspecting every mailbox in the neighborhood, running up hills, and playing golf in the front yard. Then I watched at least three episodes of Parenthood on Netflix. I’m hooked.

I also made some yummy apple turnovers. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sprinkle Cupcakes

Sprinkles are the best! Don't you think?

Whether you call them sprinkles or jimmies, I think they instantly make any dessert more fun. Soft serve ice cream? Rainbow sprinkles please! Glazed doughnuts? Pink sprinkles please! Cupcakes? What do you think? Sprinkles, of course!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Biscoff Snickerdoodles

At the beginning of the summer, I bought my very first jar of Biscoff spread and I fell in love at the first delicious creamy spoonful.  I had read about the stuff from David, Jenny, Maria, and Jessica, and proceeded to immediately made these Oatmeal Biscoff Cookies, shortly followed by these Biscoff Stuffed White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Heavenly. And I have not been without a jar in the pantry since.

Have you ever tired it? If not, please get yourself to the grocery store immediately and buy a jar (or twenty). Biscoff spread (available in either creamy or chunky varieties) is made from Biscoff cookies, which are known mostly as airplane cookies. To me, it tastes just like Teddy Grahams. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Décor

Over the past two months, we have accomplished quite a bit around the house. While the grass has not grown in thick and lush in our rocky topsoil (go figure) the main floor is mostly painted and cuartain-ed (or would it be draped?). The living room curtains have a bit of shimmer and are the perfect icing on the cake.

The living room color is called ‘Underseas’ and I don’t think I can describe it any other way. We painted the kitchen and breakfast area a couple of shades lighter to brighten it up a bit, and I really love how it turned out.

The dining room, sans table and chairs, may be my favorite in terms of décor thus far. The wall color is called 'Labradorite', after the deep blue gemstone of the same name. I adore the contrasting color of the rug (which I found deeply discounted on Gilt a few weeks ago) and the crisp white curtains to frame the windows.  What do you think?

The most recent addition to the dining room is the beautiful china cabinet my mom brought to us when she visited from Memphis a few weekends ago. The cabinet, which my parents bought 33 years ago, survived the trip in the back of a moving van and matches perfectly with the wood finish of the floors. (Thanks Mom!) We quickly filled it with our wedding china and a few other keepsakes from friends and family. All the room needs now is a table and chairs in time for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raspberry Cream {Wedding Cake} Cupcakes

Three years ago today, I married my best friend, love of my life and lifelong baked goodies taste tester. One of the best parts of that day, besides marrying Dan, was the wedding cake. We chose our cake from It’s A Piece A Cake Bakery in San Diego and it was nothing short of fabulous.

The top and bottom tiers were French Bavarian – a scrumptious white cake with layers of vanilla cream and raspberry – and the middle tier was Chocolate Mousse – delicate chocolate cake filled with white chocolate mousse and macadamia nuts. The whole thing was covered in the best buttercream frosting I ever tasted. It was one hundred and twenty five servings of pure deliciousness.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

This weekend, Dan and I took our nephew to Dillner Family Farm in Gibsonia probably during the hottest couple of hours of the entire weekend. We toured the farm, including fields of lettuce, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. We get a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) from the Dillners every week, and in addition to the peaches and blueberries I picked up on Thursday, we were able to pick our own blueberries right from the blueberry bushes on the farm. Did you know blueberry bushes have to grow for three years before you can harvest the fruit? I had no idea! 

Our nephew loved picking the berries (“boo babies” in two year old speak), and they were so delicious eaten right from the bush, warmed in the sun. Each one was a burst of pure blueberry flavor.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Did you know that June 14 {yesterday} is {was} National Strawberry Shortcake Day? It also happens to be Flag Day and the birthday of the United States Army. Happy 237th birthday! What better way to celebrate than with a strawberry shortcake?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting Settled

Dan and I have been moved into our new home for over a month now and we could not be happier. All the boxes are unpacked, save two full of picture frames that we will hang after we paint in a couple of weeks! Here are a few recent highlights!

The kitchen is of course one my favorite spots! I love the warmth of the cabinet and floor finishes contrasted with the bright stainless steel. This kitchen has already churned out numerous goodies and treats, and there are certainly many more to come! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Strawberry Sherbet

So much has happened over the last month, and I began this post in an attempt to describe it all. As I started to list the highlights, I decided that all these very exciting changes in my life deserve more attention than a mere bullet leading up to an ice cream recipe. Over the next few weeks, I promise to share more of our new house, neighborhood, and food adventures.

But for now, I am going to start off summer with a recipe for strawberry sherbet made with ripe local strawberries, which are beautiful and abundant this time of year. The two baskets I picked up from Shenot Farm Market in Wexford last weekend were bright red, juicy, and perfect for this sherbet. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

World Peace Cookies

I spent most some of Tuesday evening packing up the kitchen before this weekend’s quickly approaching move. Dan, however, was out taking his very last exam in law school. By the time you read this, he’ll be finished after four years of reading, exams, and memorizing rules and case law. I am so proud of my man! Don’t you think he deserves a tasty reward? I do.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

I have made this banana bread twice this week – once to share with coworkers who claimed they had never enjoyed any of my office offerings and again because I didn’t have any left to share at home after making it the first time. This afternoon (after I savored a warm, buttered slice), I brought half the loaf to a friend who immediately peeled off the plastic wrap and took a big bite – en route to the gym, no less. (I hope he saves some for his wife!) Then I went for a run because the gorgeous 70 degree sunny day left me no choice! But I digress…

This has been my go-to banana bread recipe for a few years now, ever since Dan gave me the Baking Boot Camp book by Darra Goldstein. The bread is dense and moist, and bananas are certainly the star of the show, complemented by toasty pecans and sweet honey. I love it for breakfast, dessert, or snack!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

These cupcakes were awesome. Or so I hear. Actually I hear they were “flippin magical.” But I wouldn’t know. You see, I am allergic to cocoa and have been all my life. But since many people in my life love the stuff, why would I inflict my chocolate-free lifestyle on others?  So when my sister visited this weekend and we made cupcakes for a little spring fling, we made a batch of vanilla cupcakes (for me) and a batch of these little chocolate beauties.

The recipe for the chocolate cupcakes is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours and includes cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Then, we added some chocolate chips just for fun. Why not? And while Ms. Greenspan’s chocolate glaze sounded delightful, I tend to prefer mountains of frosting on my cupcakes, even when I am not the one eating them. I suppose I express my love through frosting.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The last few weeks have been quite exciting for Dan and me. We have been busy planning for our new home in Pittsburgh!  Last weekend, we got to see the progress on our new house, and even got a sneak peek of our brand new ovens from which delicious baked goods will soon be flowing! Aren't they pretty???

Soon, they will be nestled between maple cabinets right in here (just off to the left out of the frame) - 

And soon, I will be happily cooking and baking with a view to our family room...

...And serving holiday meals in our dining room!

As you can see, things are still in progress in our new home, but it is really coming together!  It will not be too much longer before we make the big move - stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are the best kind of cookie. I just love them, and I certainly cannot be trusted with a plate of them sitting around.  I’m sure there are valid arguments for chocolate chip or frosted sugar cookies, but peanut butter will always be my favorite. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

I love Irish Soda Bread.  I love its rustic crust.  I love it with salty Irish butter smeared on top.  I love it with whole wheat flour (which makes it Irish Brown Bread). I love it with raisins (which make it a Spotted Dog).  I love it with caraway seeds (what on Earth does that make it?).  With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, it is a staple quick bread, regardless of what you add to it or what you call it. 

When I made this beautiful loaf last week, I wanted a simple recipe using the basics – flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk (and caraway seeds because I couldn’t resist that distinctive flavor).  Where do I start when I’m looking for simple?  Alice Waters.  That’s where.  She has not let me down yet.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Scones

I have some catching up to do.  We have enjoyed almond birthday cake, monkey bread, scones, and even cookies mixed in the blender in the last couple of weeks and I had intended to share them all right here.  But clearly I haven’t gotten round to it.  So where to start?  How about with the chocolate (and white chocolate) scones I made for Valentine’s Day breakfast this week?  Sound good? Perfect.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

For Christmas, I received Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, a cookbook I have been eyeing for quite a while.  While I missed the boat on Tuesdays With Dorie, I am no less excited to start tasting the delicious cookies, pies, tarts and brownies in her beautiful book.  Last weekend, I baked her recipe for Bill’s Big Carrot Cake when Dan and I had some friends over for dinner (two thumbs up, for sure!).  This weekend, I baked the Brown Sugar Bundt Cake, with apples, ground walnuts and raisins.  This cake was delightful warm from the oven and dusted with powdered sugar, but it is just as delicious, if not more so, the next day (which I just confirmed as I write this).  Dorie says it will keep for 5 days wrapped at room temperature, but I don’t see that happening around here.