Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Cookies!

Some quality baking time with the cousins...

I had a great plan to do lots of baking during my week off before Christmas.  I got off to a good start with cookie baking with my three cousins who live away at school.  Laura, Rachel, and Hilary came on Wednesday and helped me bake up some delicious Christmas cookies.  My plan was to continue baking more treats the next day, but inevitably, a cold decided to sneak attack me right before Christmas.  Not wanting to contaminate my family with my germs, I decided to put some of that baking on hold until I'm feeling better.  Matt's family is coming in this week to celebrate a late Christmas, so I'm hoping my symptoms subside enough for me to whip up some more holiday treats this week. 

Thank goodness for my cousins on Wednesday, though!  We made some great cookies that my family all enjoyed on Christmas Eve! 

Chocolate Mint Cookies

The girls insisted that this batter was delicious.  Due to the raw eggs, I was unable to try it out! 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This is a Hilary specialty.  She makes these every year for her family's Christmas party, and they are a huge hit.  They never last very long! 

Chocolate Chunk Macaroons

These were a new one this year.  I had coconut, so I thought I'd try out a Martha Stewart recipe.   I added the chocolate chunks instead of the traditional cherry.  They didn't turn out very pretty, but they were very chewy and yummy....


Surprisingly, these are my favorite this year!  Very chewy and the perfect amount of cinnamon....

We also made chocolate chip cookies, which I didn't get a picture of.  Hilary jinxed the cookies by saying that hers have been turning out flat lately.  Well, of course ours turned out pretty flat!  But they were still chewy and delicious...just didn't get a picture.

We also made the dough for some sugar cookies, which is still sitting in my fridge.  Hopefully they will get made this week.  So much for my plans of lots of baking!

After the girls left, I whipped up some Gluten Free brownies for a co-worker of Matt's.  He has celiac disease, and I try to make him a baked good each year.  I made brownies from a Red Mill mix, but some day I'll work up the nerve to try a Gluten free recipe from scratch. (If anyone has a great recipe  I should try, please feel free to share!)   I made them in my mini muffin tins so that he'll have the perfect bite size snack.  I wrapped them up to go with the rest of his gift, and I think it turned out pretty cute....

Thanks for all of your help, Rachel, Laura and Hilary!  I had a great time with you that day.  Hope we can make it a new yearly tradition!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Last year vs. This year

The ornaments I recieved last year certainly had a theme to them...

(Thanks, Mom!)
(Thanks, Aunt Arlene!)

(Thanks, Mom!)

And one from this year still held on to last year's theme...

(Thanks, Mom!)

This year's ornaments had a new theme....

(Bought this one in Bryant Park while shopping with my girls...)

(Thanks, Laurie & Dave!)

(Thanks, Mom & Dad!)

 (Thanks, Dad!)

This little boy isn't even here yet, and he's already being spoiled!  Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snickerdoodle Mini Cupcakes

Merry Christmas!

My aunt and uncle host a Christmas party every year, which centers around Santa, who comes around the neighborhood on a firetruck.  Its always a great time, and I get to see a bunch of cousins that I don't get to see nearly enough.  I wanted to make something festive, bite-size and delicious.  I decided to flip through Marth Stewart's Cupcake Cookbook and see what would inspire me.  I saw the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes that I've been wanting to make for awhile.  I changed up the recipe a little to make them mini cupcakes.  It also forced me to make Martha's Seven Minute Frosting, which has always intimidated me.  It requires egg whites, corn syrup and a candy thermometer...all things that usually intimidate me.  I don't have a candy thermometer, but I seemed to be successful without it.  I think on a cake, this frosting would be way too much but on a mini cupcake, it was perfect.  These cupcakes were light and cinnamony (I know, that's not a word), and I think perfect for the occasion.

I should have cut this recipe in half as it yielded almost 100 mini cupcakes!  I took some over to a neighbor, and will also be taking some today to a Christmas Tree Trimming Party. 

Merry Christmas!  I hope you all have peaceful and happy holidays....

Congratulations, Lauren and Shawn!

A work wedding shower...

My coworker and friend, Lauren, is getting married on New Years Eve.  We decided to throw her a small shower at work to celebrate the big day!  Lauren is using a shade of purple for her wedding colors, so I thought the Lavendar Brownie Cupcakes from the Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook would be perfect.  First of all, the brownie recipe is to die for.  So. Flipping. Delicious.  Then, the lavendar icing added such a subtle spice punch.  Fantastically indulgent.  Martha added sugared edible flowers to the top, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that.  So instead, I simply piped the Bride and Groom's initials onto them.  Not as pretty. 

The recipe says that it should yield 24 cupcakes.  After making one batch, it seems to only yield 12.  So, I had to make another.  Turns out I just put too much batter into each cupcake liner.  I used the same scoop I use for regular cupcakes, and I think I should have used about half that batter.  However, still delicious...

Congratulations, Lauren and Shawn.  Can't wait to rock out with you on New Year's Eve!

Happy Birthday, Erika!

To be 25 again...

Our friend, Erika, celebrated her 25th birthday last weekend.  Although she isn't a big dessert person, she still needed a cake to blow out her candles!  I made some vanilla cupcakes with Hershey's Cocoa frosting....simple and delicious.  For the cake, I made a devil's food cake with chocolate ganache icing.  It didn't turn out quite as pretty as I had hoped, but Oh Boy was it delicious!  Perfect dessert for a late night party!

I topped off the cupcake with a chocolate covered sunflower seed.  Looks purple in the picture, but it was actually of Erika's favorite colors.

I found these decorative cake wires at Michael's and thought they might be fun.  I topped them off with some sparkly baubles.    The only problem was that my battery to my camera died while I was taking pictures, so this is the only one I got of the cake...

Monday, December 6, 2010

He'll be handsome, like his daddy!

Its a BOY!!!!!

We found out the day after Thanksgiving, and I immediately started crying of happiness.  I suspected all along that it was a boy, and I was right!  I spent the following week in Raleigh, NC with my parents buying the little guy lots of argyle sweater vests and other adorable clothes.  He's going to be one well-dressed little boy! 

I promise this little boy will learn to brothers and dad aren't too shabby at it, and I'm determined that he will know how to bake, too!

p.s.  I promise to post more this month...lots of Christmas baking to do!

Pink and Purple Peace Cupcakes

Happy Birthday, Amanda!

You remember my girl, Kate, right?  Well, one of her besties is Amanda, and Amanda celebrated her birthday in November.  Her mom asked me to make cupcake favors for her birthday party.  The only directives she gave me was pink, purple, hearts and peace signs.  I had fun making these and think they turned out cute.  I hope Amanda liked them, too!

The birthday party was at Build-A-Bear, which doesn't allow cake in their store, so Amanda's mom wanted to give them as favors.  I found these awesome boxes at  Very cute!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Baking more than cupcakes...

So, I have a small reason why I haven't blogged in awhile...

I've been baking my own little cupcake.  That's right...Matt and I are expecting our first child in April!  We're very excited and cannot wait to meet him or her.  I'm sorry I've been so neglectful of the blog, but any type of baking or cooking has been a little difficult with all of this morning sickness, which they should call all day sickness!  I've been feeling much better lately and am looking forward to baking lots of new things in the kitchen. 
Needless to say, I've been coveting this shirt for awhile now!

Pink themed baby shower

Pink, pink and more pink...

A few weeks ago, my cousin, Karen, aka my best customer, asked me to make a small cake for a "Sprinkle" she and her friends were throwing for their friend, Deb.  The only theme I was told was "pink" since this will be her first girl after a few boys.  I've been wanting to try a quilting technique I have seen, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.  Since these ladies are classy people, I didn't want to "baby" the cake up too much with storks and bears and such.  I just wanted it to be pretty in pink.  I made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and topped it with pink fondant and candy pearls. 

 I told my cousin to tell people not to look to close.  Its like a Monet, from far away, it looks pretty, but up close its a big old mess.  (Bonus points if you get the movie reference).

I love the quilting technique and hope to perfect it in the near future.

I had some leftover ribon and a cake box.  I always think it makes it extra special when it arrives in a nice package!

And the mommy-to-be.  I've never met you, Deb, but I'm sure your little girl will be precious!  Congratulations!

Happy 30th Birthday, Jennifer!

I love the 80's!

One of my bestest friends, Jennifer, turned 30 in August, and her sisters and friends decided to throw her a totally awesome 80's suprise birthday party.  Not only was I excited to celebrate Jen, my mind was spinning with ideas for the desserts!  I thought about this party for months and couldn't wait to get started. 

This is the first time I've used fondant in such large quantities.  I decided to try out Duff's line at Michael's and used a lot of his products.  I have to admit, I loved most of them.  Well, except the white fondant.  Awful.  When I opend the package, the fondant was liquid!  I don't know if I got a bad batch or what, but I was definitely disappointed.  I will stick with my homemade recipe for now.  However, the black fondant was fantastic.   Also, I used some of his cake tatoos.  They were fun to use and worked well for the tie dye cake. 

First, we have Michael Jackson gloves and neon RayBan sunglass sugar cookies.

Next, we have a Rubix Cube chocolate cake!

Miss Pacman chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

Simon vanilla cake.

The total package. 

The cake for Jen to blow out her candles.  Neon tie dye cake!

The inside of the much fun to make.

And finally, the fabulous Repetto sisters, all decked out in their 80's gear (Jennifer is on the right).  Jen was completely surprised, despite my bad acting trying to get her there.  And her sisters picked her the perfect outfit for her to change into once she arrived.  Happy (belated) birthday, Jennifer!  We love you!

Happy 30th Birthday, Matt!

Very belated at this point, but...

better late than never, right?  I've had some technical difficulties, but it hasn't stopped me from baking...only blogging.  Sorry for the two month delay since my last post! 

Anyway, my fantastic husband, Matt, turned 30 in August, and we celebrated him by enjoying his 30 favorite things.  Included in that list is friends and family.  We had our loved ones over to commemorate the awesomeness that is Matthew.  Also on the list was vanilla cate and argyle, so I combined the two and tried to make an argyle cake.  Its not my best work, but pretty cute.  I want to attempt it again in the future, but perhaps a little better...

I can't remember if I've showed you my cute cake stand before...I think its summery and fun!

My brother, Jimmy, and sister-in-law, Abby, took the theme of Matt's favorite things to heart when they bought his birthday gift.  If you've ever seen Parks and Recreation, you will understand.  They made him a Ron Swanson gift package including Omaha Steaks, Scotch, Cigars and a photograph of Ron Swanson himself.  I don't think Matt could have received a more perfect gift!

Happy Birthday, Matthew!  I love you and I hope you enjoyed your week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cherry Pie

My cousin, Hilary, is going back to school next week, and my aunt and uncle invited us for dinner.  I wanted to make something summery (is that a word?) to take.  Matt suggested cherry pie.  I couldn't find a recipe I loved so I (nervously) tried my own.  Cherry almond pie.  I used an almond crumb crust from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and used two bags of frozen cherries, a few teaspoons of cornstarch, a half cup of sugar and a teaspoon of almond extract.  I put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and heated until it started to get thick.  Then I poured it in the shell and topped with the remainder of the crumbs.  Then baked at 350 degrees for an hour.  I was nervous to take it, but it turned out great!  This gave me a little more confidece to try my hand at creating new recipes.  There was only one small piece of pie left at the end of the night, so I'll take that as a good sign.  Very summer, not too sweet, and perfectly baked.  Delicious!

I started to put the crumb topping on when I realized that I should probably snap a picture of the filling.

Look at that delicious filling! 

That beautiful pie dish was a wedding shower gift from Hilary herself...

The crumb topping really made the pie.  I think this might become my go-to pie recipe from now on...

See you at Thanksgiving, Hilary!  We love you and will miss you!

Happy 30th Birthday to Us!

Several months ago, four of my best friends and I decided to spend a weekend at the beach celebrating us, our 30th birthdays, and over 15 years of friendship.  That's right.  This year marks that fact that we've known each other for over half of our lives.  That makes us old.  Well, me anyway, since (as my friends continued to remind me all weekend) I am actually the only one who has turned 30 so far.  The rest will fall in line in the fall...I can't wait.  In celebration, I made some cupcakes honoring us.  I have to admit, though, that I took the easy way out and killed 3 birds with one stone.  Not only did I have to make the cupcakes for the weekend,  I needed a dozen for Matt's co-worker's son who recently had surgery.  Also, I was having lunch one day with a friend of mine who lives in Massachusetts, and I wanted to give her some to take home, as well. 

Anyway, I used Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcake recipe and her Dark Chocolate Frosting recipe.  I'm not bashing Martha, but I hated her dark chocolate frosting recipe.  I couldn't seem to get it thick enough, so I put it in the fridge, but then it was too solid to work with.  So frustrating.  I was finally able to make it usable but I'm not sure I'll be using that recipe again in the future. 

Katie and I had a great time catching up at lunch.  I cannot wait for next year when she moves back to the Philadelphia area.

Matt's co-workers son, Matt, is doing well now.  He's a brave kid.

Each of my best friends on black fondant.  I didn't take great pictures, but the liners were black with white polka dots. 

Sorry for the poor quality pictures...


And here we are getting ready to go out to dinner on Saturday night.  From left to right:  Tara, Jen, Lauren, Me, and Denise.  I love these girls and wouldn't know how to get through life without them.