by abby on May 11, 2012 | Comment
Mother’s Day is this Sunday and to help you celebrate we’re sharing a delicious blueberry coffee cake recipe! We heard about this recipe from one of our friends and couldn’t wait to try it out. It’s sure to make your whole house smell amazing this weekend. The recipe is simple enough for kids to help an adult create it, too.
Blueberry Bliss Cake
Serves 12, generously
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (I used unsweetened soy milk, which I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost frozen ones as they tend to muddle batter
1/2 -3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (nice rounded 1/2 teaspoon)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl.
Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture.
Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold blueberries into the batter. Spread batter into prepared pan.
For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter in pan. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle over batter.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
AND don’t forget it’s the last 2 days of our Mother’s Day Sale! Save 15% off cards for all occasions, handmade party garlands, and children’s prints. Happy Mother’s Day!
by abby on April 6, 2012 | Comment
Passover begins tonight and Easter is on Sunday, so I thought I’d share a great macaroon cookie that fits both occasions. The recipe is based off of a Martha Stewart one, but with a few of our own alterations.
Melt in Your Mouth Macaroons
Makes 15-20 (depending on the size of your macaroons)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (recommend organic coconut)
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate (Ghirardelli 60% cacao is wonderful)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper—this is very important— otherwise the macaroons will stick to the baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, salt, and chocolate chunks. Roll up your sleeves and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. TIP: If you like to have a few plain macaroons, mix the sugar through salt first and set aside a cup or two of the coconut mixture.
Wet your hands with cold water and form small to medium loose haystack shapes (about 1 1/2 tablespoons). Place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch between haystacks.
Bake until peaks and edges are golden brown, 12-18 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from oven and let the cookies rest for 2 minutes on the sheet to cool slightly. Remove the macaroons from baking sheet and place them on a wire rack to continue to cool.
These macaroons are best served slightly warm, but they can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!
by abby on March 16, 2012 | Comment
In my life Saint Patrick’s Day is quite special. For starters, my group of friends use this holiday weekend to reunite from far and wide. This would be amazing in itself, but the 17th also marks the day I met my boyfriend. Yep, he was a friend of a friend—the best recommendation you can find! All it took as that one introduction and we have been together ever since. Huge grin.
In honor of the 2-fold special weekend, I decided to create Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. Oooooooo….even the same starts your mouth watering. It’s a recipe from David Lieberman on the Food Network, but I of course added a few of my own twists. For starters, the original recipe calls for Guinness, however, I wanted to increase the chocolate, so I used Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout.
The chocolate stout enhanced the rich chocolate flavor without adding any more sweetness. These cupcakes are light in texture, but the stout keeps them soft and moist. To add a sweet high note, I paired the chocolate cake with my own rich cream cheese frosting. This simple cupcake recipe allow you to make a special Saint Patrick’s Day treat in about 40 minutes.
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
(yields 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (Ghirardelli is wonderful)
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 bottle stout beer (recommended: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout)
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 to 1 cup butter, softened
1-2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup box confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 24 muffin tins with paper liners or grease. (Hint: take out the cream cheese and butter for the frosting and let it sit on the counter to warm to room temperature)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 11-12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 11-12 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool 2 minutes before turning out.
Cream Cheese Frosting
While the cupcakes are baking you can create the frosting.
In a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and the butter until smooth.
Add the vanilla (I like 2 teaspoons)
Add the sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each cup. That’s it!
The frosting can be ahead of the time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days until needed. I recommend pulling it out of the refrigerator for a few minutes to help the frosting spread more easily.
I’m so looking forward to celebrating this weekend and know these cupcakes will create additional smiles. I’d love to know how your own cupcakes turned out and how you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.
by abby on January 6, 2012 | Comment
This week I’ve been working on a new illustration that features swinging monkeys. They have been a great help to keep my thoughts to warm, steamy tropical jungles rather than my snowy, cold upstate New York scenery.
In fact, my funny, furry friends inspired me to create a tasty and healthy dessert. What better way to add a punch of color and flavor to winter than with tropical fruits? This treat is so simple that I know you will want to try it yourself. Here’s the recipe.
Blueberry Banana Orange Parfait
1/2- 1 cup washed Blueberries
1 Medium Navel Orange
1 8 oz. cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
Glassware or jar of your choice
1. Add honey to the Greek yogurt and mix together well.
2. Peal orange and sliced into small chunks.
3. Select the glassware of your choice. Have fun with this decision! There are many options from wine glasses to canning jars.
4. Begin to layer. Start with a layer of blueberries at the bottom of your glass. Then add a dollop of the yogurt. You can gently spread the yogurt around with a spoon to cover all the blueberries. Next, create a layer with several orange chunks. Top with more yogurt. Repeat this process until you fill your glass and end with a yogurt layer.
5. Slice several pieces of banana and place them on top of the final yogurt layer. Ta-da! A healthy and fun dessert!
Feel free to add in your own favorite tropical fruits to this recipe. I bet pineapple or mango would be equally as delicious. You also can add a bit of granola or crushed flax seed to the top to add a little crunch.
Do you have a great healthy dessert idea? I love to hear it!
by abby on December 13, 2011 | Comment
My whimsical handmade stripes and dots paper garlands and ornaments are so fun that they gave me inspiration for another baking project.
I love the combination of stripes and dots. The black and white color palette adds the right amount of sophistication too. If I was to host a stripes and pok-a-dot party, I would want a dessert to match. Brilliant! My first thought was chocolate. So I baked decadent chocolate brownies and covered them with vanilla frosting. The fun part comes next! I decorated the tops of the brownies with black decorating gel into stripes and pok-a-dots.
FYI: save time and stress and buy black decorating gel instead of making black from frosting. You’ll be a much happier baker. Ta-da! Amazingly cute brownies to compliment your party’s theme.
by abby on November 8, 2011 | Comment
Over the weekend D and I hosted our 2nd annual Friends’ Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the point of the holiday is to gather together with family and friends.
Our Thanksgiving weekend was not to disappoint. We had an amazing selection of food and the laughs just kept coming. One of the dishes I contributed was the classic, Pumpkin Pie. I wanted to make it my own so I found inspiration from my Thanksgiving stationery and added hand cut dough leaves around the pie crust and on placed a few on top too.
Here’s my inspiration:
And here’s the final result:
Adding leaves to the pie was a great way to pull together the theme of the party. I was very proud of this festive pie. It looked lovely sitting on the dessert table and even more importantly, it was delicious—just ask D. He’s had a slice of it every night since Saturday!
by abby on November 1, 2011 | Comment
November first marks the start of the holiday season in my mind. It’s the time to decorate your home for the holidays, but more importantly its time to get those ovens warming and your baking tins ready! It’s the season for homemade baked goodies! I know that Thanksgiving isn’t really Thanksgiving without my mom’s Pumpkins cookies and her Pumpkin Pie. I can already see the filled cookie jar waiting for me….
To celebrate the baking season, I’ve collected three fonts that remind me of that same handmade love. These fonts would also work wonderfully as the typefaces for your labels or notes that get attached to the holiday goody bags.
Mishka is our first homemade goody font find. It’s a lovely retro-esque scriptface. I adore the elegant loops and swashes, but it’s not over done and the letterforms are still very legible. There just something very friendly and approachable about this typeface.
Rhythm One is our second treat for the day. It’s another script but this one is slightly more formal, even a touch metropolitan. I think it the geometric letterforms and the pointed serifs that give it this formality. Do you have a fancy dessert to gift? A note or label in this font would add the right amount of elegance.
Populaire is our icing on the cake. We are back to another friendly font, but this one is a sans serif typeface. Often sans serif fonts are cold and without much personality. However, Populaire is filled with character! The letterforms have little nuances that create a hand drawn look and feel. The condense letterforms offer you more bang for your buck when using this typeface on smaller baked good labels as well.
Well, we tasted three delicious typefaces today. I hope this gets your appetite ready for the next couple of months of delicious holiday type and treats.
by abby on August 23, 2011 | Comment
Summer is winding down here in upstate New York. Already these last couple of days, I’ve had to wear a sweatshirt while I’m sipping my morning cup of tea. The cooler morning reminds me that Fall is just around the corner and that also means the first day of school too! Sharpen those pencils, collect the notebooks, and clean out that lunchbox. To make the start of the school year a little sweet, I was inspired to bake a homemade dessert that could be easily added to child’s lunch.
I created Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum! These cookies are quick to pull together and using dark chocolate chips adds a great twist and reduces the overall sugar consumption too. I also purposely make my cookies on the smaller size. My philosophy is you get to enjoy the indulgence without the regret. One other tip for these cookies: avoid all those nasty hydrogenated oils by using Organic Crunchy peanut butter (I used the Wegmans kind). Grab your bowls and mixer let’s bake some cookies!
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup crunchy-style peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chips
(60% dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips recommended)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. This can take several minutes, about 3-5minutes. Add the sugars and beat smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.
4. Stir in the dark chocolate chips.
5. Drop by half-full rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between each one for expansion.
6. If chips allow for it: use a fork, lightly indent with a crisscross pattern, but don’t overly flatten cookies.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake! The cookies may appear underdone, but they are not. (My time was 10 on the mark.)
8. Cool cookies on sheet for 1 minute, then remove to cool completely.
These cookies are not too sweet. The crunchy peanut butter add a touch of crunch and roasted peanut flavor. Always the big kid at heart, D’s preferred method of eating a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is to dunk it in milk first, then take a bite. Enjoy the tasty treat and happy back to school!
by abby on July 5, 2011 | Comment
I hope your Fourth of July long weekend went well. The weather was just perfect for all the cookouts and picnics that I’m sure occurred. Alas, I came down with a nasty cold over the weekend, so my celebrating was very low key. The highlight of the weekend was creating a tasty dessert for D and I. I wanted to create something of the “red white and blue” variety. Plus, I wanted to use my cute individual tart pans, so the conclusion: Blueberry-Orange Tarts! Delish!
They were a simple to prepare AND can even be prepared the day before. If you want to show off with your family and friends here’s how you can do it too:
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (just about 3 minutes, cook until fragrant)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, preferably whole-wheat
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
Pinch of salt
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B, divided
1 medium orange
3 cups fresh blueberries
1. To prepare the crust preheat the oven to 325-350 degrees, depending on your oven. Toast the walnuts. While the walnuts are toasting crumble graham crackers into large crumbs. To avoid trans fats, look for graham crackers without partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
2. Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add in the cinnamon. Sir until blended.
3. Wash blueberries and place in a bowl. Zest the orange and sprinkle half of the orange zest on the blueberries. Set the remainder zest aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/4 inch up the sides of removable-bottom tart pans. A back of a spoon works well and so do your fingers! Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8-11 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
4. To prepare filling: Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Slice orange in half and squeeze juice into the smooth filling. Beat until all blended.
5. When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Sprinkle remaining orange zest on top of each tart. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up or these tarts can be prepared the night before.
This dessert is not too sweet. The ripe blueberries with a hint of orange offers a fantastic taste of Summer. Bring them to your next party!
by abby on June 10, 2011 | Comment
Happy Friday everyone! Thankfully, I survived the unbearably awful heat wave. I even had a bit of foresight earlier in the week by making several individual quiches in order to not have to touch the stove or the oven during our last 48 hours of 90+ heat. (alas this apartment and studio is without a/c). My little quiches were such a hit with D and myself that I want to share the recipe with all of you too. Are you ready for another round of kitchen magic?
D’s mother gifted me the individual tarte/quiche pans for Christmas. Yes, it has taken me this long to actually try them, but it was so worth the wait! Since we had six pans, I wanted to make a base egg and cheese mixture and then customize each pan with different vegetables and offer D a meat option. Everything I used, I already had in the house, so it truly came together very quickly and easily.
I also made a whole wheat crust, just to shake things up a little. I used my pie crust recipe from The Magnolia Bakery Apple Pie and substituted one of the white flour cups for a cup of whole wheat flour. Here are the details:
WHOLE WHEAT CRUST
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons or ½ stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into small pieces
5 tablespoons ice water
TO MAKE THE CRUST
Combine the white and wheat flour and the salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender (the most handy tool in my baking arsenal) cut in the butter and then cut in the shortening. I find it easier to add them separately. Keep blending until the mixture resembles crumbly sand and has small pea size pieces of the butter and shortening. Add in the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough is moistened. Using your hands, gather the dough together into a large ball. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Now it time to prepare the egg and cheese mixture along with the vegetables and the bacon. Yes, bacon. We had some left over maple bacon stripes from the weekend, so not wanting them to so to waste, I decided it would be a nice touch to add some crumbled bacon bits into a couple of the quiches. I cooked about 3 strips of bacon. While the bacon is sizzling, I diced up the onion and sweet peppers. Both the onion and peppers went into my base egg mixture. For cheese, we had a Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar block in the frig. It was wonderfully garlicy and turned out to be a great cheese to use for quiche, but, you can use a Swiss or Gruyere as well.
BASE EGG AND CHEESE MIXTURE
3 eggs, whisked
Egg White (from 2 eggs), whisked
1 cup shredded Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheese
1 ¼ cup milk (I used No Sugar Added Soy Milk)
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup of sweet peppers (I used yellow and red pepper)
¼ cup Vandalia onion
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
Salt and pepper
Maple Bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup broccoli, sautéed
¼ cup sliced, jarred jalapeño peppers
PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
Set oven to 375 or 400 degrees depending on your oven. My runs cooler, so I tend to increase the heat.
Chop the peppers and onions and sauté them in a bit of olive oil, until they are just beginning to soften. It won’t take long, maybe about 2-3 minutes. While, they are cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. Add in the shredded cheese, milk, and flour. If you are wondering why Soy Milk, well that’s the only milk I have in the house (D prefers it), so that’s what I used. Simple as that. Mix in the cooked peppers and onion to the egg and cheese mixture. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper too. Set that aside. Note: If you want extra vegetables, sauté them now as well.
Bring out your chilled pie crust to a floured flat surface. I cut the ball in thirds and rolled one piece out to fit my 4” quiche pan. Trim the excess dough and fold and crimp edges. Repeat until all 6 pans are lined with dough. Position the 6 pans onto a cookie baking sheet and place in the oven for 4 minutes. The dough just needs to begin to partial bake. Pull them out and set them on the stove. Turn the oven down 15 degrees (350 or 375).
Now’s let’s fill our quiches! If you are customizing your individual quiches, then place the extra veggies or meat into the dough-lined pans first. For example, in a couple of pans I placed crumbled bacon pieces and then transfer some egg mixture into the pan. I like using a ¼ measuring cup to fill my quiches. Other pans received sliced jalapeños AND bacon and another quiche was all veggie, with added sautéed broccoli.
Place filled quiches back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. You want the mixture to be solid and slightly golden brown on top. Serve immediately.
The first couple of nights we served our quiches with a green salad. Last night I sautéed fiddle heads with the remaining broccoli.—a very tasty side dish. We had these quiches 3 days in a row since each was slightly different and they were so delicious. Plus—the quiches reheat very well in a toaster oven. Bonus!