Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shabby chic beach wedding dessert table

shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableIt's been a while since I've featured a dessert table and this one, submitted by Josephine of Sugar Canvas, was too lovely to pass up.

Sugar Canvas is dedicated to the design, planning and creation of dessert buffets in the Cayman Islands. 
shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableThis gorgeous dessert table was the centerpiece in the wedding that was held on a private beach on the 7 Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. The colors were mint, peach and ivory with a touch of gold.

It couldn't be more lovely. I am a major lover of anything shabby chic.
shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableThe bride and groom opted for the focus of the desserts to be fairly simple such as cookies, brownies, coconut cream and vanilla cupcakes as well as donut holes. shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableRibbon cakes are so gorgeous and I love the light peach color against the mint cake stand. shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableThis is a great idea for any brunch or dessert table. Simply buy store-bought donut holes, and add them to a skewer or lollipop stick. shabby chic beach wedding dessert table shabby chic beach wedding dessert table shabby chic beach wedding dessert table shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableI am a big fan of the burlap and lace details throughout this table. shabby chic beach wedding dessert table shabby chic beach wedding dessert table shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableMini pie pops with all different flavors. I'm hungry. Also, I adore that mini heart bunting. shabby chic beach wedding dessert tableThis table is stunning and I'm sure it was a special treat for all the guests. Thanks so much to Josephine of Sugar Canvas for sending it my way.

Vendor credits:

Hand Painted Mason Jars: The Shabby Chic Wedding
Printable Food Labels: Sunshine And Pop
Linens, Table Rental, Backdrop Set Up, Flowers: Celebrations Ltd Cayman
Sweets Styling, Monogram Sugar Cookies, Custom Cupcake Toppers, Pie pops and Doily Cake Bunting : Sugar Canvas Cayman
Two Birds Cake Topper: DoTheDeco
Catering: Kirk Market
Love Is Sweet Banner: Franny Chicago
Cupcake Wrappers: Brightsoslight
Photography: Kenroy Lumsden

Monday, April 14, 2014

Carrot cake sandwich cookies

carrot cake cookie sandwichesI love cookie sandwiches. I know I've mentioned that multiple times before. And these carrot cake sandwich cookies are one of my faves. They are moist, not too sweet and totally delicious. Perfect for spring, perfect for Easter, perfect for anytime.

Juliet absolutely LOVED the carrot cake cookies, she had one before I added the frosting and devoured it faster than I've ever seen her eat anything. Then I tried one and I got it.
carrot cake cookie sandwichesIt took me about 45 minutes to take the photos for these cookies because it was my first time shooting with my new Canon 7D and I was getting so frustrated. The settings are all in different places and I was having a hard time getting a good shot because I didn't know how to make the adjustments with exposure and focus that I needed.
carrot cake cookie sandwichesI'm pretty sure these cookies toppled over right after I clicked the shutter for this photo

My mom would love these cookies, she loves carrot cake. I took this batch to work today but just realized I better save a couple for her!

Carrot cake sandwich cookies (recipe adapted via Cooking Light)

Ingredients

2 cups shredded carrot (I used organic baby carrots and shredded them in my food processor with the grater attachment)
2/3 cups packed brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine shredded carrots and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar in a bowl, toss to coat. Place carrot mixture in a fine mesh sieve; let stand to drain for 10 minutes. Discard liquid.

Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium microwave, safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds or until melted. Add oil, rind, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; stir with a whisk until well-combined. 

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, remaining brown sugar (about 1/2 a cup), cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. 

Add carrot mixture and butter mixture; stir until just combined. drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets; gently pat down to flatten. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes or until set. Remove pans from oven; let stand for 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on a wire rack. 

Combine cream cheese, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. 

Add powdered sugar, beat at low speed 1 minute or until well-combined. Spread about 1 tablespoon icing on flat side of cookie; top with another cookie, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cookies. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies


peanut butter oatmeal cookies
After Erik, Juliet and I spent a bunch of time outdoors last Sunday (in the awesome 60 degree weather) we needed something to do the rest of the afternoon. So we made cookies.

I am a big fan of the Weelicious site (and cookbooks) because the recipes are generally pretty easy and healthy. And every single one I've ever made has turned out well.

I am a big peanut butter fan, like eat a huge spoonful right out of the jar big. And Juliet is too. She always asks for peanut butter with a spoon and a bowl and she eats it right up. peanut butter oatmeal cookiesThese peanut butter oatmeal cookies are great with a big glass of milk for dunking. I was really tempted to turn these into sandwich cookies with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting but then I decided to stop while I was ahead. I really didn't need these sitting around my house tempting me so I sent them with Erik to work the next day.

If you love peanut butter, you'll love these cookies. I might get crazy next time and add some chocolate chips.

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies (recipe via Weelicious)

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and honey for a minute.

Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter and beat for 1 more minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until combined.

  1. Drop 1 tablespoon of the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten down with the palm of your hand and make a checkerboard pattern with a fork. 

  2. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

St. Patrick's Day baking recipe round-up

St. Patrick's Day desserts{Photo credits: Martha Stewart and Eat Drink Pretty}

My plans for the weekend include dinner with girlfriends, spending time with Erik and Juliet and lots of baking. I have a major baking bug right now and can't wait to roll up my sleeves in the kitchen. Hopefully Juliet will feel like joining me.

I looked back in the Eat Drink Pretty archives and found this post on mixed berry Irish scones. I remembered the day I made these scones (one of my first times) and stressed about the texture not being right and that they didn't turn out as I hoped. But then I added jam and cream and the scones transformed. They were so delicious. Even though I made these years ago I can still remember exactly how they tasted.

And then there is bread baking, a favorite of mine. I'm eyeing that Irish butter soda bread.

And how can you go wrong with desserts? My mom's famous pistachio dessert isn't technically Irish, but it is green so there you go. A perfect St. Patrick's Day dessert.

St. Patrick's Day baking recipes:

Irish butter shortbread
Irish brown soda bread
Irish coffee cupcakes  
Mixed berry Irish scones
Lime squares with pistachio graham cracker crust
Pistachio dessert 

Do you have any plans for the weekend to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? We will be laying low for the most part but then on Monday my ad agency will be throwing a big party with a band, booze and traditional food. I'm looking forward to it. My work knows how to throw a damn good party.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No bake strawberry-lemon cheesecake

No bake strawberry lemon cheesecakeOne of my favorite things is getting together with my big family on the weekends. We do this about once a month to celebrate holidays or birthdays. Last Sunday we gathered at my house to celebrate a bunch of birthdays; Erik's, my younger brother Joel and my sister-in-law Nikki.

We made a big Mexican meal including:

Shredded chicken tacos (in the crockpot, so easy)
Beef tacos (for both the chicken and beef we use this homemade taco seasoning)
Homemade spanish rice (from my mom)
Homemade corn cake (Nikki makes this and it's delicious)
Chips/salsa/queso
Fruit

And for dessert Erik asked for cheesecake. It's one of his favorite desserts (along with pistachio dessert) and when I saw this no bake recipe I thought it looked great.
No bake strawberry lemon cheesecakeThis cheesecake was really tasty. I will admit that making 12 individual cheesecakes was a bit of a pain, and a bit time-consuming. Though it was still much easier than making regular cheesecake in the oven. If that would have been the case I would have been stressing out about cracks in the cake and whether or not the spring form pan was leaking. And no one wants to experience me stress out in the kitchen. Especially me. No bake strawberry lemon cheesecakeI bought these pretty individual glass bowls from Target a few years ago for an ice cream sundae bar I put together at a party. So I literally have a bunch of them, which is usually a waste of space, but came in handy on Sunday. No bake strawberry lemon cheesecakeDespite the fact that I complained on Instagram about these cheesecakes being a pain to make, I'm glad I made them. They turned out great and everyone enjoyed them.

Looking back I have a good reason why the cheesecake took longer and more effort than it should have. Juliet was napping so I had to take the food processor into our laundry room to make the crust (it's far away from her room so she wouldn't here the noise). And then I had to whip the filling with the blender in there as well. Making dessert in your laundry room is really not ideal!

No bake strawberry-lemon cheesecake  (recipe slightly adapted via My Baking Addiction)

Makes 12 individual cheesecakes

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1 (8 oz package) of cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (8 oz) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 package frozen strawberries, thawed
Optional: fresh strawberries for topping

Preparation

In a bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until well-combined. Divide evenly into the individual serving bowls and press down to form a crust.

In a large bowl mix together the lemon zest and sugar until combined. Add the cream cheese and mix with electric mixer until smooth. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Fold in the whipped topping using a rubber spatula.

Mash the strawberries with a fork and partially drain any liquid. Then fold in the strawberries to the cream cheese mixture carefully.

Spoon in filling to each bowl and smooth out with the back of the spoon. Top with fresh (strawberries if using).

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Note, these are fairly small portions of cheesecake but they were perfect for my family. We tend to overeat when we're together (um, hello, we went through 2 bags of tortilla chips) so by dessert we are usually too full to eat much. If you want a larger dessert than double the filling recipe (no need to double the crust recipe).

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homemade oreos

Homemade oreosHomemade oreos!

These cookies are really damn good. I made them for the Super Bowl party we were having with my family and promptly took the leftovers to work yesterday. I had to otherwise my Weight Watchers diet would have been dunzo. I've been really committed for over a week now so I can't let a tempting little cookie cramp my diet-style.
Homemade oreosThese are the best dunked in milk. I even brought milk to work today so my coworkers could get full enjoyment.

I really have a thing for sandwich cookies. They are so much better than non-sandwich cookies. I think it's because my best friend Kristin and I used to get these cookies at the mall called Double Doozies. They were huge cookies with, like, a pound of frosting in between. That was back in the day (way, way back, maybe the 90's?) when our metabolisms were awesome. Homemade oreosThe filling in these cookies is pretty much an exact match to real Oreo filling. The secret? Shortening. Sorry about that but you can't make an Oreo cookie without it. You just can't. I found an organic vegetable shortening at the grocery store which made me feel a teeny bit better about using this as an ingredient. Really though, the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup shortening which is not much at all divided between all the cookies.

The chocolate cookies aren't perfect replicas of Oreos but they come pretty darn close. A few coworkers today thought these were even better than real Oreos. So I deemed this baking experience a huge success.

Juliet loved them too. Mom-of-the-year style I basically let her eat anything she wanted on Sunday. So after a couple cookies and a mini cupcake she was hyper as heck on sugar. When Bruno Mars came on at half-time my little girl was raising the roof big time. She was dancing, twirling, jumping up a storm. It was awesome and adorable. Unfortunately, bedtime later was neither of those.

I love baked goods that only require one bowl for all ingredients and this one fits the bill (for the cookies anyway, obviously you need a separate bowl for the filling). The cookies come together super quickly and if you bake frequently you will definitely have all the ingredients in your pantry. The shortening might require an extra trip to the store but I assure you it's worth the effort.

But whatever you do, don't forget the milk.
Homemade oreos
Homemade oreos (recipe slightly adapted via Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 1/4 sticks butter)
1 large egg

Filling ingredients

1/4 cup shortening, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set two racks in the middle of the oven.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix on low until combined. Add the butter and egg and mix on low until the dough comes together in a mass (this takes a while, about 2-3 minutes).

Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Take teaspoon sized dough and roll into a ball and place on baking sheets lined with parchment 2 inches apart. Flatten dough with your hand before putting into the oven.

Bake for 9 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks. Be sure not to handle the cookies for a minute or two so they can firm up.

For the filling, add the shortening and butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, mix on low speed for until well combined. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar and mix on medium to high speed for about 2-3 minutes (until filling is light and somewhat fluffy).

To assemble the cookies, scoop a spoonful of filling into the middle of a chocolate cookie and place another cookie on top, gently pressing together to sandwich.

Dunk in milk and enjoy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sparkling cranberry white cake

Sparkling cranberry white cakeErik and I hosted a dinner party for 8 of his colleagues on Friday night. After a busy and stressful week at work, I knew we needed to keep the menu relatively simple and light on the prep work.

On the menu:

Appetizers
Brie and blue cheese with crackers and baguette
Caramelized onion tarts with asiago cheese
Cream cheese with pepper jelly served with crackers

Main course
New York strip steaks
Creamy mashed potatoes
Roasted asparagus

Dessert
Sparkling cranberry white cake with lemon filling

After seeing this beautiful image on Pinterest, I was inspired to do something similar. But I knew there was no time to make a homemade cake. That's when Target bakery saved the day. On Thursday morning I called and put in an order for an 8 inch white cake with lemon filling (lemon and cranberry pair quite nicely together). I told them white frosting only and please keep it simple (I didn't want any ruffles or edging). They agreed to put the order through even though they typically require 48 hours. And the cake was only $16.99. Thank you Target.

I've been wanting to make sparkling/sugared cranberries ever since I saw them on 101 Cookbooks 4 years ago. I had to go with a super modified version because I waited until the very last minute to prep the cranberries on Friday evening. And they turned out great.

When the cranberries were sugar-coated and sparkling and absolutely gorgeous, I literally dropped them (gently) by the handfuls on the cake. I assumed the bigger the pile and the bigger the cranberry mess I made atop the cake, the lovelier it would be.

And I was right. 

Sparkling/sugared cranberries (recipe adapted via 101 Cookbooks)

Ingredients

1 bag of fresh cranberries
3/4 cups water
2 3/4 cups sugar

Preparation

In a small sauce pan bring 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Let simple syrup cool for about 20 minutes then add cranberries to the pan (be sure it has cooled down quite a bit because you don't want the cranberries to burst). Let cranberries steep in the simple syrup for at least 15 minutes to overnight (my cranberries were only in the simple syrup for about 20 minutes).

Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes (this gets them nice and sticky). Add 2 cups sugar to a large bowl. In about 1 cup batches, drop cranberries into the sugar and fully coat them. Remove and transfer to another baking sheet. Continue with remaining cranberries until all have been coated.

Allow cranberries to dry for at least 30 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and serve or add to cake (or cupcakes or tarts, etc).

Eat and enjoy!

Fresh cranberries are so tart, I was wary these would be edible because I didn't allow them to steep in the simple syrup for very long. But trust me, they were perfect. The sugar coating gives you a sweet burst as you bite into the tartness. This balance is just awesome. Even Juliet loved them and kept asking for more.

I posted this photo on Instagram on Friday and it was quite a hit. Our guests devoured the cake and loved the cranberries. I ate the leftover cake right out of the container standing over the countertop yesterday. Yum. Yum.

Be sure to head over to this post to see if you were the winner of the Nespresso giveaway. The winner is announced in the Rafflecopter widget and I will be contacting them on Monday. Thank you so much for all the entries, I was super pumped about the response!

I'll be posting regularly this week (I'm off work all week after Monday, hooray!). We are staying in town for the holidays and will be eating great food and enjoying time with family.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cranberry orange sherbet

Cranberry orange sorbetI made this pretty cranberry orange sherbet for my family's holiday appetizer party a couple weeks ago. The sherbet was refreshing and had a nice, semi-sweet tartness that balanced the heavy, savory appetizers we had that day.

I've never made sherbet before and it was relatively easy. It's a light dessert and a nice change from all the pies, cookies and cakes that are typically served around the holidays. Cranberry orange sorbetI'm having a bunch of girlfriends over on Saturday for more cookie baking and hanging out. I am going to whip up another batch of this sherbet and see how it tastes dropped into a glass of champagne. Best idea ever?

Cranberry orange sherbet (recipe via The Vintage Mixer)
Ingredients
1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 ounces)
1 ½ cups of orange Juice
1 cup water
½ to ¾ cup sugar 
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Pinch of salt
2.5 teaspoons gelatin or 1 packet (I use Great Lakes Unflavored gelatin. Gelatin can be found in the baking aisle of your grocery store) 
1 extra large egg white
Instructions
In a medium pot add the cranberries, orange juice, water, sugar, lemon juice, thyme and salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer until all of the cranberry skins pop. Remove the pot from the heat and drain out the liquids through a mesh sieve. Taste the liquid for sweetness and adjust to your palate. 

Chill of the mixture for 20 minutes. While the mixture is cooling mix 3-4 tablespoons of the juice from the pan with the gelatin and whisk to dissolve the powder. Once dissolved place the gelatin mixture in a heat safe bowl tall enough to fit in a small pan with a few inches of simmering water (or you can use a double boiler). Whisk the mixture until it is transparent.

When finished with the gelatin, place the cranberry mixture in a blender or food processor and turn on. Through the top of the processor, pour in the gelatin and the egg white. Blend for a minute. Place in a container and freeze overnight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oreo peppermint crunch cookies

Oreo peppermint crunch cookiesThis cookie is yummy. Basically it's Christmas in a cookie. Pepperminty. Chocolately. Soft. I am a sucker for a soft cookie. I am definitely adding it to my annual holiday cookie baking list for many years to come.

When I first tried this cookie at the baking party on Sunday I wasn't blown away by it. But then I had one yesterday and I thought it was awesome. Turns out no cookie tastes that great after you've tried 8 different cookies and are beyond full and sugared out. Have I mentioned that I'm supposed to be on Weights Watchers? Yeah that's working out really well.

Anyway.

In addition to these oreo peppermint crunch cookies the gals and I also made:

Gingersnaps
Farmhouse chocolate mint cookies (my sister in law, Nikki, makes these every year and they are amazing)
Russian tea cake cookies
Coconut macaroons
M&M cookies
Puppy chow
Peanut butter blossoms
White chocolate cranberry cookies
Pretzel M&Ms

I'm probably missing a few. Needless to say we each had plenty of cookies to take home.

Oreo peppermint crunch cookies (recipe via Inside BruCrew Life)

Ingredients
1 white cake mix
1 stick butter, melted (8 Tbsp.)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup Oreo cookie chunks
1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch pieces
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Combine the cake mix, melted butter, egg, and extracts. Beat until well combined. Add the cream cheese and beat in gently until combined. Stir in the peppermint crunch pieces and chocolate chips. Then stir in the cookie pieces with a spatula. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 36 balls. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Be sure to take them out right at 9 minutes. They are meant to be very soft cookies. 

Leave them on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes. Remove the cookies onto a cooling rack. Store in a sealed container. 

Or devour all 36 cookies immediately. Your choice. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies

The weekend was really nice. Really laid back. Snuggly and warm. One of my favorite things about each weekend is that Juliet and I usually nap together. She is such a little cuddler, she'll cuddle up super close and we'll nap together with her head nuzzled under my chin. Weekends go fast and I need to soak up every second I have with her, the naps help me do that and it's the best thing ever.

After our nap on Saturday afternoon I was feeling a little cooped up in the house. But it was raining and cold outside so getting out and about wasn't really an option. So we baked cookies instead. I was super wary of trying another baking session with Juliet because the last time I attempted to bake with her she opted for sitting on the floor banging on pots and pans.

But this time? Totally different. 

It's only been a couple of months but wow what a difference. Juliet stood up on a chair next to the counter (I know, not the safest but she was fine, I hope to purchase this kitchen stand for kids at some point but it's pretty spendy we'll see) and stirred, poured ingredients, stole chocolate chips. She loved every second of baking with me. We both had a lot of fun.

These cookies are healthy. They have no oil or sugar. Ok so the chocolate chips aren't the healthiest but they add sweetness to the cookies so they taste like a treat. I love these cookies with my morning coffee (they have oatmeal in them so it counts as breakfast right?).

Juliet liked these cookies but didn't love them. I suspect she is getting too used to regular cookies (with lots of sugar and sprinkles) that she gets at daycare as treats. These pumpkin oatmeal cookies used to be her favorite so I thought these chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies would be an even bigger hit. So far they are not her favorite so I've been eating most of them myself.

Chocolate chip and peanut butter oatmeal cookies (recipe via The Skinny Fork blog)

Ingredients
2 Ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used natural and/or organic peanut butter)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together the bananas, peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips; stir until well combined.
Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool slightly.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pumpkin milk shake

After our friends and I feasted on chili, corn bread and queso dip last Sunday we were all craving something sweet. I hadn't planned anything for dessert but luckily I knew I had ice cream. Someone mentioned pumpkin ice cream and I quickly brainstormed, then did a google search and found an extremely easy recipe for this pumpkin vanilla shake.

I had all the ingredients and the recipe was extremely easy, we had dessert in about 5 minutes.
Having canned pumpkin on-hand is awesome. Besides using it in my recent pumpkin baked goods (cookies and scones) I've also added it to Annie's organic mac n cheese for Juliet (she loved it) and most recently in this delicious shake.

I quadrupled the below recipe since there were four of us in need of dessert. Truthfully I could have eaten the whole batch myself. Yum.

Pumpkin vanilla shake (recipe via Real Simple)

Ingredients (makes 1 shake)

1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Pinch of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice (optional)

Preparation

Blend together all the ingredients until smooth.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A fall picnic

{Photo credits: Midwest Living}

I love the idea of a fall picnic. Picnics in the summertime are pretty common, but once fall's crisp weather comes around picnics sort of fall off the radar. But who says you can't bundle up in sweaters and scarves and cozy-up to an outdoor meal?

I am sooooo doing this.

I got the inspiration as I was flipping through the recent issue of Midwest Living magazine. The beautiful fall colors, the warmth of a plaid blanket-turned tablecloth, the caramel apple bar.

Yeah, a caramel apple bar. How brilliant is that?  

{Photo credits: Midwest Living}

Erik and my house is surrounded by tall trees. In the fall it is a gorgeous explosion of reds and oranges. We can picnic right in our backyard or head to a nearby park.

As far as a picnic menu, here is what I'm thinking:

Hot apple cider in thermoses
BLTs and/or caprese sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper
Mac and cheese bites (Juliet would adore these)
Kettle chips
A caramel apple bar (as shown above)

or if you wanted to go for more of a brunch-style picnic:

Coffee/tea and hot apple cider in thermoses
Individual herb and blue cheese quiche (great option because they can be served at room temperature)
Fruit salad in mason jars
Homemade pumpkin pie pop tarts

Yum. I can't wait to do this. I'm guessing a temperature of 60ish degrees or higher will be needed, especially with a toddler. The nice thing about a picnic with a little one is they can run around and you don't have to worry about them whining about being stuck in a high chair.

Have you ever been on a fall picnic?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Delicious melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies

I had time on Sunday afternoon to whip up some yummy pumpkin goodness, right in time for the first day of fall. I thought Juliet would enjoy baking with me, but in reality she was not interested and instead dug through the tupperware cabinets and banged on pots and pans. Regardless, we were still in the kitchen together hanging out and she was happy and so was I. I know she'll love baking with me when she gets a little older. And while she didn't care to help me bake she sure loved these cookies and kept asking for "moooreeee".

These cookies are from Better Homes and Gardens and they are a recipe I pinned a while ago. I've made pumpkin donuts and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bars but never pumpkin cookies. I think these are the best pumpkin recipe of all the pumpkin recipes I've ever tried.

These cookies are soft and really freaking delicious. The frosting is a perfect balance to give the cookies a bit more sweetness. I added extra pumpkin into the frosting because, hey, you can never have too much pumpkin.
My sister Katie and her husband Drew came over as I was taking the cookies out of the oven and they both gave a thumbs up. My coworkers are in for a treat Monday morning because I'm bringing about 40 of these into the office. If I don't, I'll eat them all myself by Wednesday. And that does not need to happen.I halved this recipe because I noticed it said this would make 60 cookies. And I sure the heck don't need 60 cookies sitting in my house.

Melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies (recipe adapted via Better Homes and Gardens)

Ingredients

cups butter, softened
cups granulated sugar
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon salt
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg
eggs
teaspoons vanilla
15 ounce canpumpkin
cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon (optional)

Preparation

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

2.Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreasedcookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

3.In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Makes about 60 cookies.

Modifications: I added a tablespoon of pumpkin into the frosting to give it a hint of pumpkin flavor. This made it a little wetter than it should be so I had to add a couple additional tablespoons of powdered sugar. 

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. We had amazing weather in MN and took a trip to the apple orchard. It is so much fun experiencing those things with a little one. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Berry yogurt popsicles

{Photo taken with iPhone 5, edited using the VSCOcam app}

Toddlers eating popsicles are messy messy messy. It was 90 degrees today so I took Juliet outside to enjoy a homemade popsicle, wearing a diaper only, I'm no fool. She enjoyed sharing her treat with me, it was tasty and she really loved it. Every time it dripped she said "uh oh", which was, of course, darling. She is 17 months today!

This recipe can be changed based on your favorite fruit. You may end up with some extra liquid after pouring into the molds, I just poured it into a cup and Juliet drank it like a smoothie.

Berry yogurt popsicles

Ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used frozen raspberries)
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons natural sweetener such as honey or pure maple syrup (I used maple syrup)
Optional: 1/4 cup fruit puree (I added prunes, Juliet loves them and they are functional too...you know what I mean) You could also add a pouch puree such as Ella's Organic Pouch or Happy Baby Pouches, for added nutrition

Preparation

Combine all the above ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Divide evenly among 4 popsicle molds (I found ours at Target). Add a wooden popsicle stick and freeze for a minimum of 5 hours.

To remove the frozen popsicle, run under warm water for about 20 seconds.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade graham crackers

I am so excited to have a food post today. It's been too long.

I've had a weird relationship with cooking/baking lately. It has been one of my hobbies/passions for the past five years or so. But ever since Juliet was born the thought of being in the kitchen prepping a big meal or baking has been really overwhelming. I don't know if it's because I have less time now or what. But for example, when I actually do go to cook a meal or bake something, I'll look at all the ingredients on the counter and then the thought of having to clean everything up and a million other things run through my head and I get anxiety about the whole thing. This never used to happen. I used to love having an entire Saturday stretched before me with numerous recipes to master. Getting the yeast out and spending time waiting for bread to rise was actually enjoyable for me.

I'd like to get back there. I really would.

I experienced a glimpse into how how I used to feel when I'd bake last weekend when I made Juliet homemade graham crackers. I was actually excited as I baked and thrilled when they came out of the oven. I almost wanted to wake Juliet up from her nap just so could taste them right away. Don't worry, I didn't wake her up. I'm not that crazy.

So back to these graham crackers. They are amazing. And while I do use that word more often than I probably should, it really and truly applies to these graham crackers. They taste just like the store-bought version, only way better. And they are so much healthier. No extra, artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup. And man would these be good used for s'mores.

Once Juliet woke up from her nap, she agreed with me. LOVED these things. And now that she has enough teeth, she can happily crunch her way through a whole cracker. Erik loved them, too. And though I probably shouldn't admit this, the dough is almost better than the baked cookie. There aren't any eggs in the recipe so it's ok to take a taste of the dough, right?

Homemade graham crackers (recipe via Weelicious, this cookbook is awesome, I've made a few things from it and they were great)

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup honey (I used pure organic maple syrup instead)

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a food processor or standing mixer, combine the flours, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.

3. Add the chilled butter to the mixture and pulse/mix until the mixture resembles course meal.

4. Add the honey or maple syrup and 1/4 cup water and continue to mix until well combined.

5. Remove the dough, shape it into a flat disk, and place it between two large pieces of parchment paper.

6. Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into crackers or shapes (I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter, which worked well. Make sure to roll the dough thin enough, mine was a tad too thick).

7. Place the crackers on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. They're a little soft when they come out of the oven, but they firm up nicely.

8. Cool and serve. Store, covered, on the counter for up to 1 week or up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

I felt very proud of myself for baking these and even though they are just silly little graham crackers, I felt somewhat inspired. I should make time for baking if it's important to me. Either I need to coordinate baking time with Juliet's naps or Erik needs to take over and give me an hour or two to be in the kitchen uninterrupted. I just need to make it a priority.

I'd love to get back to more regular food posts on Eat Drink Pretty. I'd love to hear your comments about recipes I share.

In the meantime, please make and enjoy these graham crackers, either for yourself or for your little ones. They are so worth it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our Easter

Last week was pretty great.  I had Wednesday and Friday off work.  Random days off work to spend with my sweetie are the best.  And days to myself are pretty great too.  I had my first ever full day to myself on Friday.  Juliet's daycare was closed all week so Erik's mom flew in from North Dakota and watched Juliet Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday was a Jenna/Juliet day and we went to the Children's Museum with my good friend, Jill and her two boys.  Then we went to lunch (3 kids age 3 and under and they did great!) and after Juliet and I spent the rest of the day hanging out, playing, napping, etc.

Thursday and Friday was all about Grandma and Juliet and they had a blast together.  Erik and I really appreciated Karen coming down for the weekend.  She also got to spend Easter with us, which was awesome.

My "Jenna day" was amazing.  I met Jill at the spa for a facial and a massage, followed by lunch, followed by a couple hours of shopping.  I felt no momma guilt.  I knew I needed this day.  I needed a little time just for me.  And I REALLY needed new clothes.  My body is different these days.  I'm actually smaller than before I was pregnant, but things are just...weird.  Clothes fit different and the boob situation is not ideal.  Luckily I found some decent things that I actually like and feel pretty good in.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike shopping?  I really do.

My sweetie wore a beautiful Easter dress on Sunday, a gift from my aunt Chris (and Juliet's godmother).  She was just the prettiest little thing in that dress.  She also loved that big stuffed bunny and kept giving it kisses and snuggling with him on the floor.  Check out how much she's grown and changed since last Easter!!
I am trying to move towards healthier/cleaner living and eating lately and I had ambitions to make my own natural egg dye (using fruits/veggies/spices) but I ran out of time and ended up finding this ntural dye from my favorite baby boutique called Pacifier.  The dye is made up of fruits and plants and is 100% safe and free of chemicals.  It produced beautifully colored eggs!  Some were sparkly, some were swirly.

The company Wee Can Too also makes edible crayons and other art supplies.  I am thinking of getting some for Juliet and my niece, Chloe, they both like to taste their crayons!
The picture on the right are the snacks we put in Juliet's Easter eggs for an egg hunt.  I didn't want to do candy and toys or trinkets that are small enough to fit into an egg and would be a choking hazard.  So we stuck with organic snacks like yogurt melts, veggie crisps and puffs.  They aren't exactly the most healthy things but for a special treat it is fine.  We kept Juliet's Easter basket simple and free of candy.  There is nothing wrong with a little candy here and there but I think Juliet is a bit young for it.  We got her books, flashcards and another Lollacup, which is the best straw/sippee cup out there (in my opinion).  Yes, it's spendy but totally worth it.  Pretty eggs!!  Also, Erik's breakfast for the next week or so. I didn't get many great photos of Juliet digging into her basket because it was early in the morning and the lighting was terrible.  Luckily, I did get a few cute Instagram photos (follow me @eatdrinkpretty).

Karen bought Juliet the cutest rain boots, rain jacket and umbrella.  She is all set for puddle jumping once she starts walking and it gets warmer outside.  Aunt Chris also dropped off a big basket full of adorable clothes for Juliet.
After we opened Easter baskets we went to church with my family and then came back to our house for a big Easter brunch.  My whole family was over and we feasted on way too much food as usual.

As I mentioned before, but Erik and I host most of the gatherings with my family because our new home is perfect for entertaining.  But we do potluck style so it's not too much work for us.  Everyone brings an item and it works out great.

The brunch menu consisted of two egg bakes, cheesy potatoes, scones, donut holes and a balsamic/mustard glazed ham.  The spread was delicious.
Erik's mom ordered an edible arrangement and we had that for dessert along with this beautiful Lemon Orange Chiffon cake that I made (with some help from Karen).   I've made this cake a few times now and this last time it ended up being a tad dry.  I'm not really sure what happened but maybe I left it in the oven for just couple minutes too long.  It was still really good.  I've made it with store-bought orange juice and squeezing the orange juice fresh.  Honestly, unless you have the most perfectly ripe oranges you'll be better off using store-bought juice.  Aunt Chris gave Juliet an adorable personalized onesie that said "Juliet. Official Easter Egg Hunter".  So cute!  I wouldn't say this is the greatest family picture ever...but Erik looks really handsome!It's pretty impossible to get a decent photo of Juliet and her cousin!  They are very busy little gals and don't want to sit still.  I hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend as much as we did!