Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Homemade peanut butter cups

My mom, sister and I got together last weekend to make an old childhood favorite, chocolate peanut butter cups.  When my sister, brothers and I were little my mom would always draw a heart in a newly opened jar of peanut butter.  Because she always did this, growing up I believe peanut butter came with a heart drawn in it's smooth top.  My mom is really awesome, she has a way of making everyday things like opening a jar of peanut butter special. 

Chocolate peanut butter cups

Ingredients

1 package chocolate almond bark
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
 2 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter

Preparation

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter and butter.  Gradually add in the confectioner's sugar and stir to fully incorporate.

Melt the entire package of chocolate almond bark over a double boiler, over low heat, stirring frequently.  

Line mini muffin cups on a baking sheet or in a mini muffin tin.  Drop melted chocolate into the bottom of the muffin cup to cover the bottom.  Add a teaspoon of peanut butter mixture (rolled into a ball then flattened a bit) into the cup and cover with chocolate. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

These are easy, fast and way more delicious than the store-bought version. They would be a perfect edible gift, just wrap a few in a cellophane bag and tie with a label and ribbon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Real party: a butterfly birthday party

Lindi of Etsy Shop, Love the Day, sent me this spectacular butterfly-themed party she threw for her daughter London's fourth birthday.  Lindi designed all the printables and styled the party herself, with the help of some fabulous vendors (complete vendor list at the bottom of this post).

No detail was spared for this well-styled party. Everything from the delicate dessert table to the pretty garland is absolutely perfect.  No doubt that this party can serve as inspiration for weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, etc.

Photo credits to Jon and Melissa Photography




I love this different use of a teacup and those heart-shortbread cookies are adorable.



A picture-perfect party scene.

















Thanks so much to Lindi for sending this party my way.  Be sure to check out her Etsy shop and blog!

Vendors:

Fairy Costumes: Halo Heaven
Flower Headbands: The Little Pea
Linens: Mandi Jackson
Printables and Styling: Love The Day
Ruffle Garland: Hank And Hunt
Cake: Rene Takes The Cake
Lemon Curd Tarts, Blueberries Pies, Cupcakes, Chocolate Mousse, Marshmallows, Dipped Cookies: City Sweets Shop

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

{Photo credit: Martha Stewart}

It's easy to have a lot of love for Thanksgiving. It's a day spent with family and eating great, comfort food. It's warmth and love wrapped in in one day. It is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year.

There is lots to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving. If your family is anything like mine you'll go around the table and say what you're thankful for. Growing up my siblings and I would giggle and/roll our eyes and never take it seriously. But now as an adult it's a tradition I really enjoy.

I wish you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Homemade crackers

I love to bake but I am not actually the hugest fan of sweets.  Don't get me wrong I adore a pretty cupcake but I usually end up eating one of the 2 dozen I bake and giving the rest away.  I am more of a salty/savory gal. 

So when my sister asked if I would bake her homemade crackers for her upcoming birthday I thought it was an awesome idea (click here for the recipe that inspired my sister from Much To My Delight blog).  Why not bake more savory items?

These crackers would be a perfect snack on Thanksgiving while waiting for the big meal. They would be great by themselves or paired with a dip. Yum. Now that's my kind of baking.

Photo credits and recipes:

Green-Peppercorn Cornmeal Crackers via Epicurious
Flaxseed, Fig, and Walnut Crackers via Epicurious

Olive Oil Crackers via 101 Cookbooks

Olive Biscuit Cookie (these are sweet and salty) via 101 Cookbooks

Gruyere-Thyme Icebox Crackers via Martha Stewart 
Thyme Crackers via Martha Stewart

Salt-and-Pepper Crackers via My Recipes
Blue Cheese Cocktail Crackers via My Recipes 

Are you all as excited for Thanksgiving as I am?  If you are still searching for the perfect turkey recipe be sure to check out this Parmesan-Sage Turkey recipe.  It is my absolute favorite, I've made it for the past five years. 

I am definitely going to test one of these cracker recipes and I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Real party: a garden party first birthday

Corinne of Etsy shop Style My Party sent me this adorable garden-themed party she hosted for her daughter's first birthday.  With the temps dropping below 20 degrees in MN today this sunny, bright party has me dreaming of summer.  And just wait until you see the cutie little birthday girl. 

Photo credits to Center of Attention Photography.

All the gorgeous printables were designed by Corinne.  Make sure you check out her Etsy shop for her entire collection. 


Simple pink cupcakes in pretty liners. 




I warned you!  Isn't she just gorgeous? 

Thanks so much to Corinne for sending this sweet party my way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cheddar-herb bread

What better way to spend a cold, icy Sunday then inside the warmth of your kitchen baking bread? I found this recipe while perusing the web for ideas for the handmade gift post I wrote last Friday. As soon as I found it I knew what would be baking in my oven over the weekend. 

This recipe is very easy and the bread comes out moist, savory, rustic.  You can smell the dried herbs as they bake into the bread.  I ate the bread with a simple salad with champagne vinaigrett and a poached egg.  Maybe I shouldn't admit it but this was my first time ever poaching an egg.  It turned out perfectly.

Cheddar-herb bread (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. dried cilantro or parsley
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter (cold)
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan. Mix the first six ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl.

With a pastry blender (I just use my hands), cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheddar cheese. In a bowl combine 3/4 cup milk and 1 egg, slightly beaten. Add to crumb mixture all at once. Stir quickly with a fork to moisten. Spread in prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto wire rack; cool completely. Makes 12 servings.





This was such an amazing breakfast and so simple.  I would eat it everyday.  I'd love to hear of any cooking adventures you had over the weekend, please comment and share!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homemade gift ideas

My husband and I stopped giving each other gifts for the holidays and birthdays about 4 years ago.  Instead we put money aside and saved up for nice dates and vacation.  I've definitely never been a big gift-giver anyway so I was glad that Erik was on the same page. 

Despite that, I love the idea of giving handmade, homemade gifts.  These aren't just ideas for the gift-giving around the holidays, but they can be hostess gifts, gifts for a friend having a bad day, a gift for a colleague on their last day, etc. 

Gift ideas pictures above (click for photo credit and recipes/more information):

Orange-Cardamon Marmalade
Chunky Cranberry Relish
Holiday Cheese Straws
Marinated Feta and Olives
Pumpkin-Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel
Mocha Hot Cocoa Mix


Sweet and Savory basket (with Jalepeno and Cheddar Skillet Cornbread) 

More homemade gift ideas:

Three pepper spice cookies 
Homemade Vanilla.  Recipes at Joy the Baker or Simply Recipes
Gingersnap Shortbread 
Italian Nut Biscotti Sticks
Cheddar-Herb Bread Mix
Chocolate-Peppermint Sandwiches 

Here is a list of materials you would need to pull everything together:

Varying sized mason jars (can be found in the baking aisle of your grocery store, Wal-Mart, Ace-Hardware or online)
Ribbon or twine
Cellophane bags
Fabrics (such as burlap, holiday themed, floral, etc)
Craft paper (for labels/tags)
A hole punch (can be found at Michaels or any craft store)
Weaved baskets (can be found at Michaels or any craft store)
Parchment paper
Boxes/containers 

I would be happy to give or receive any of those lovely handmade gifts.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blinis!

{Photo credits and recipes: Smoked salmon blini puff, Sunday Suppers blinis, Blinis with smoked salmon, Chive blini with creme fraiche, Yukon gold potato blini with eggplant caviar, Fresh corn blinis

A group of my girlfriends and I recently started having dinner theme nights. We choose one ingredient and each bring a dish that contains that ingredient. Last dinner was all about mushrooms. I made a spectacular mushroom pate, Emily made mushroom risotto that was out of this world, Natasha made a mushroom and potato dish and Shannon made roasted cauliflower with truffle oil.  Everything was delicious. 

Tomorrow evening we are having a seafood theme dinner. Ever since Sunday Suppers posted about blinis earlier this year I have had them on my list to make. I decided to attempt a non-traditional blini; a smoked samon blini puff. Sounds pretty amazing, right? It's the photo in the upper left hand corner. The puff pastry is what really sold me on the recipe, much easier than making homemade pancakes. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Smoked salmon blini puff (recipe via Pepperidge Farms)

Ingredients

1/3 cup crème fraiche

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1/2 of a 4-ounce package thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 12 pieces
12 sprigs fresh dill
3 teaspoons black caviar, tobiko or salmon roe

Preparation

Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the crème fraiche, lemon zest and black pepper in a small bowl.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Using a round cutter, cut the pastry sheet into 12 (2-inch) circles. Place the pastry circles onto a baking sheet. Prick the pastry circles thoroughly with a fork.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Spoon 2 teaspoons crème fraiche mixture on each pastry. Top each with 1 piece salmon and 1 sprig dill. Top with the caviar, if desired.

Fortunately, I found a local seafood store (if you are in MN, check out Coastal Seafoods!) that carries caviar. I opted for the more affordable version, salmon roe.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Real party: an adorable baking party

This sweet party was sent to me by Brittany and Sara of One Charming Party (you may have also seen it on Amy Atlas last week).  This might be one of the most amazing and adorable parties I have ever seen; cute little gals, gorgeous desserts, baking twine, etc.

Photo credits to Nicole Hill Gerulat.
As told by the gals at One Charming Party:

"At this party we had seven activity stations: decorating chef's hats, dipping chocolate strawberries, making chocolate candies, making mini apple pies, assembling mixed berry tarts, making strawberry jam, and decorating cupcakes. Also the custom doll cake topper was made by us to look like the birthday girl."













Delicious little pie bites (like pie pops minus the stick). 

Head over to Amy Atlas' blog for tutorials on the baking hats and cupcake wrapper garland.

Thanks so much to Sara and Brittany for sending this party my way!

To transform this theme into an adult party all you need is to add is a few bottles of champagne!  Hmmm, I just may be having this exact party with a couple girlfriends (Brooke and Maija!!!) in a couple weeks. 

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spinach puff pastry quiche

I am pretty much obsessed with quiche and tarts. This spinach puff pastry quiche was nothing short of delicious. Quiche is so versatile. Once you have a good egg/milk/cream ratio down you can pretty much subsitute the filling with anything. I love that this recipe called for puff pastry. It is so easy to just take out of the freezer, thaw for 45 minutes, roll out and place into the pie dish. So flaky, buttery, yummy.

A quiche baking in my oven usually means I am preparing brunch for my honey or some friends. Brunch is one of my favorite meals. Mimosas, bloody mary's, freshly baked banana bread, eggs, bacon. It just doesn't get much better.

This quiche is vegetarian, easy and full of flavor. The most time consuming part is making sure you drain the spinach well so it doesn't make your crust soggy.  I served the quiche with a simple leafy green salad with a champagne vinaigrette. 

Spinach puff pastry quiche (recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients

1/2 17 1/4-ounce package (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup half and half
3 eggs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll puff pastry to 11-inch square. Transfer to 9-inch diameter glass pie plate. Trim edges. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Below are links to all the tarts/quiche recipes I've tried over the past year or so:

Zucchini and goat cheese tarts
Bacon, onion and parsley tart
Chorizo, onion and onion quiche
Mushroom shallot quiche
Tomato, basil and mozzarella quiche

Do you have a favorite quiche recipe?  I'd love to hear it!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest post: holiday cake with a touch of spice and lots of charm

I am very excited about today's guest post for many reasons; it is by Lisa of With Style and Grace who is incredibly sweet and very savvy in the kitchen, the post includes a delicious (and light) pecan spice cake recipe and who doesn't love adorable mini bunting?

Mini bunting is all the rage in the blogosphere right now and Lisa found a unique way to make it the perfect cake topper for your Thanksgiving dessert.  She included a very easy to follow tutorial in this post.

Lisa and I met a few weeks ago when she was in Minneapolis traveling with her husband on business. We had a fabulous champagne lunch with great conversation. Lisa's blog, With Style and Grace blog is a favorite of mine, it contains daily content all about baking and parties. 

All photo credits to Lisa of With Style and Grace.

As told by Lisa:

If your mother-in-law is anything like mine, master of all pies, there’s no competing. This year, add a touch beauty to your dessert table with this Pecan Spice Cake and charming DIY bunting. Whether you’re playing hostess or volunteered to bring the dessert, you’re friends and family will be impressed, even your mother-in-law.

Attention: Go ahead and leave your fat pants tucked away because this recipe is waistline friendly.

Pecan Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Frosting recipe adapted by Ina Garten via House Beautiful

Cake Ingredients

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 chopped pecans, toasted

Frosting Ingredients

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

2 (8-inch) round cake pans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (or butter if you prefer). Line bottoms of the pans with wax paper; coat with cooking spray (or butter). Dust each pan with 1 teaspoon flour.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, beat medium-high speed 1 cup of brown sugar and ½ cup butter until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until combined. Fold in 1/3 cup pecans. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes on wire racks. Invert cake layers onto racks; cool completely. Discard wax paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread about ¾ cup frosting evenly over one layer; top with second layer. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake. Sprinkle with pecans (optional).



Bunting Materials

Fabric
Cardboard
Needle & thread
Wooden skewers
Messaging optional
Alphabet stamps
Ink pad

Bunting Instructions

Cut the cardboard in the shape of a triangle. Using a pencil, trace the triangle cutout on fabric. Depending on the width of the cake &/or the desired message, trace 6-8 triangles. Following the penciled triangles, cut fabric. With the needle & thread, one by one, stitch fabric triangles together, leaving enough room at both ends to tie onto the wooden skewers. Once you have your messaging, stamp the letters onto the fabric triangles. Tie the ends of the thread to the wooden skewers and insert into the cake. Voila!



Thanks so much to Lisa for being a guest blogger on Eat Drink Pretty! I can't wait to test out this cake recipe, perhaps I will bring this as my dish to Thanksgiving this year.

Don't forget to visit Lisa's blog With Style and Grace!