With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Patriotic Fruit Crostada


My blog has been glitch-y lately.

I write posts and they don't show up.  I add pictures and they're nowhere to be found.  After this happened with two of my different posts, I did what any great blogger with an inkling of internet skills would do.

... I headed down the shore and hoped the problem would take care of itself by the time I came home.  Well needless to say I just got home from lovely beach town USA and I just couldn't wait to share this with you anymore.

This crostada is so so good.  I liked to think I saved it from its misery however.  Halfway through making it I knew it wasn't going to turn out well, so I just put the recipe aside and went with my instincts and what I thought was great.


And it turned out so much more wonderfully then I could've ever imagined.  With a plop of freshly made whipped cream on top, this will make any summer get together just perfect.

So make this crostada, make the people in your life happy.  Meanwhile I'll be busy planning my next trip down the shore again!

Enjoy!

Patriotic Fruit Crostada
Sevings: 6-8

Ingredients:
For crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 unsalted cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1 Tbsp heavy cream

For filling:
1/4 cornstarch
1-2 Tbsp water
2-3 stalks of rhubarb cut into small pieces
6-8 oz raspberries
10-12 strawberries
4 oz blueberries
1 egg white
sanding sugar

Directions:
To make crust, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined and dough comes together.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  To make filling combine water and cornstarch in a large saucepan and stir.  Add fruit and cook on medium heat until some fruit breaks down and mixture thickens and bubbles.  (about 4-5 minutes)  Let fruit mixture cool completely.  If fruit mixture seems very runny put through strainer to relieve some excess liquid.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out chilled dough to a 9-10 in circle and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Place cooled fruit mixture in the center and spread out slightly, leaving a 1-2 in border.  Wrap side of dough up leaving some open in the middle, pinching sides where needed.  Brush the edges of the dough with egg white and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving warm with whipped cream or ice cream.  Enjoy!

Recipe: A Mary original

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Ginger Brownies


I have to be honest with you.  

I'm not the biggest brownie person out there.  Don't get me wrong, I will gladly eat a brownie if you place one in my hand, but truthfully I would much rather be munching on a soft pretzel, or a scone, or a blondie.

The only brownies I can actually remember swooning over were choc-full of chopped oreos and cream cheese, and basically didn't resemble brownies at all anymore.  Does that still count?  

Somehow I think not.

Anyway, despite brownies not being on the top of my all time treats list, somehow I always feel compelled to whip them up.  Maybe it's how easy they go from one bowl to pan, maybe it's because making them feels so comforting and familiar, maybe it's because they smell so damn good in the oven...

Whatever the reason is, whenever I see a brownie recipe in the cookbooks or blogs I scan, I usually put it in my mental archive of things to try.


These were no exception.  Every time I passed the page with these chocolate ginger brownies, I just knew I had to try them.  They were simple.  They were sophisticated.

Both crystalized and ground ginger give these brownies a definite kick.  Something I could see being pulled off at a fancy party, but not so out-there that picky eating kids wouldn't wanna give them a try.

I liked them, I did.  But like I said, I'm not sure in the brownie category I'm always the best judge.  I was able to walk right past them this morning, but other people have had their hands in the brownie jar at a least a few times a day each.

So if you like brownies, or just like making brownies like me, give these a try.  They're a definite spin on the usual stuff, while still being just as easy to make in a cinch.  And no matter, that's always a winner in the kitchen for me.

Enjoy!


Chocolate Ginger Brownies
Servings: 16 small brownies

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves.

Preheat oven to 325.  Liberally spray an 8x8 baking dish with baking spray.  Chop crystallized ginger.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg, ground ginger, salt, and cloves.  In a saucepan combine butter and chocolate over medium heat until melted.  Take off heat and stir in sugar, eggs, ginger, and flour mixture.  Stir just until all ingredients are combined.  Poor batter into prepared dish and smooth with a spatula.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cook on a wire rack completely.  Cut into slices and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cookie Monster Cupcakes


C is for cookie that's good enough for me.

Does anyone else remember that campaign awhile back where Cookie Monster was going to have to eat only vegetables from now on?  I really hope that idea fell by the wayside.  I'm all about teaching kids healthy eating habits, but in my opinion teaching that desserts are an off-limits "no-no" at all times just makes everyone want to eat even more of them.

I'm thinking we should teach instead, moderation.  Or put our efforts into campaigning against a much creepier mascot, like Ronald McDonald or something.

Someone get on that and I'll be on board immediately.

Anywho, Father's Day is tomorrow!  These would be a totally awesome thing to whip up for whoever the special man in your life may be.


They are some of the easiest specialty cupcakes I have done yet, but they still have that wow factor to make them perfect gift material.

For my dad, I'm thinking brunch tomorrow and maybe cookies.  It's all up in the air though, I love creating surprises :)




Cookie Monster Cupcakes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
12 cupcakes of any flavor baked in paper liners
1 cup (or can) of vanilla icing tinted blue (white some white reserved)
24 white candy melts
24 brown m&ms
12 mini chocolate chip cookies

Directions:
Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely.  Cut slit in each cupcake and insert 1 mini cookie in each.  Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe irregular looking "fur" all over the cupcakes.  Place two candy melts on each cupcake for eyes.  Dab a tiny bit of white icing on each m&m and place on each candy melt to finish eyes.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe seen on various different blogs.



Monday, June 13, 2011

A Cupcake in the Name of Love


I have a lot of different ideas about love.

I'm a romantic.  I'm a realist.  I try to walk the line in life between what I have and what I hope one day can be.

I'm so lucky to have so many types of love in my life right now.  Love of family, love of friends, love of where I'm at and love of where I'm going.

As for that other kind of love, the knock your socks off, smiling in the middle of the day kind of love...
One day I'm sure I'll have that too.  I know the kind of love I like to give is the kind worth sharing.

I have faith.

For now though, an accidental heart cupcake in the name of reminding myself that no matter what bad things may cross our paths in life... we will always still have the ability to love.

And today, for me, that's enough.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Poptart Truffles


Can you believe it's already summer?  Except it's actually only June 10th, and summer doesn't officially start for another 11 days.  Except it's been 100 degrees for the past 3 days and counting.

It's funny how life works sometimes.

So even though it may not actually be summer yet, it certainly feels like it's rolled in with full force.  I only have a few weeks left of the summer classes I'm enrolled in and truthfully the time has literally flown by.  For some reason or another I've found myself super busy lately... but in a good way.

I created these back months, ago (when I was on a truffle kick) and I have to say I am very proud of how they turned out.


More and more lately I find myself going less and less by necessarily what a recipe says, and more so just doing my own thing.  And sometimes going completely sans recipe.  It's liberating let me tell you.

These are reminiscent to the strawberry shortcake popsicles that I used to love as a kid, and like every other truffle made with cream cheese, I naturally love them.  


I think you'll love them too.



Have a really great weekend.  Mine looks to be filled with friends, pool parties, time in the city, lots and lots of good food and laughter...

And maybe a surprise or two.  We all know I love a good surprise. :)

Enjoy!


Strawberry Shortcake Poptart Truffles
Servings: 20-30 truffles

Ingredients:
1 box unfrosted strawberry poptarts
4-6 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
8 oz white candy melts
rainbow sprinkles

Directions:
Chop poptarts up into small pieces.  Process in food processor with 4 oz cream cheese until well combined.  Add slightly more cream cheese if mixture is dry.  Roll into truffle sized balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Freeze for 20-30 min.  Melt candy melts in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth.  Dip each truffle with a fork and let excess candy melts fall back into bowl.  Place dipped truffle back on waxed paper and immediately add sprinkles if desired.  Continue with all truffles until all have been dipped.  Freeze dipped truffles for 10-20 minutes or until firm.  Transfer to a serving platter and keep in the refrigerator until serving.  Enjoy!

Recipe: A Mary Original



Friday, June 3, 2011

Red Velvet Cake with Coconut Pecan Icing


Red velvet cake is just one of those things that is absolutely synonymous with the south.  And it seems to be on the rise in popularity in all parts of the country lately.

Awhile back I made red velvet cake cookies, which were divine, and red velvet cupcakes are definitely on my list to conquer, but I just couldn't pass up the rustic old time feel when I was flipping through my one cookbook "Southern Cakes".

It looked so homey and warm and basically the cake version of a big hug, and let's be honest we know I'm not the first person to turn down a hug, be it from human or from cake, so I was sold.

Even though my psyche and personality stem from far above the Mason-Dixon line, I am glad I took the leap of faith and dove into southern cooking with this cake.  Eating a slice with a cup of tea on a rainy day was just divine.

However, it's been 95 degrees the past four days in a row... so I don't really wanna think about hot tea.  Maybe I should work on posting more frequently when things are actually relevant.  Not that red velvet cake is ever not relevant.


One thing that had me laughing the entire time is that in the book, the icing is described as "nubby".  Not sure why I found that so entertaining, but entertain me it did.

After lots of critic review, we decided it was in fact nubby.  So while everyone is off catching the "red velvet cupcakes train", be unique and make a layer cake instead.

People will oo and ahh as you cut into it, and I won't even spill the beans that you got the idea from me.

I know, I know... I'm glad I'm here to make you look good too.

Enjoy! :)


Red Velvet Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting
Servings: 10-12 slices

Ingredients:

For Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 (1 oz) bottle red food coloring
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 baking soda
1 Tbsp white vinegar

For Coconut Pecan Icing
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp flour
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:
To make cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9 inch cake pans generously with baking spray.  Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  In a second small bowl combine vanilla and buttermilk.  In a third small bowl combine cocoa and red food coloring and mix until blended.  In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth.  Scrape the cocoa/food coloring mixture into the bowl and beat until well combined.  With the mixer at a low speed add the flour and the milk 1/3 at a time, alternating until all is combined.  In a small bowl combine baking soda and vinegar, and stir quickly into cake mixture.  Pour into greased pans and smooth with a spatula.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside on cooling racks to cool.

To make icing, combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat on the stove, stirring often until mixture becomes paste-like.  Remove from heat and scrape into a small bowl.  In the meantime beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add the sugar 1/3 at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition.  Add the milk and flour mixture (once cooled) and beat until smooth.  Stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans.

To assemble cake place one layer on a cake stand.  Spread a layer of icing on top.  Top with the second layer of cake.  If icing is too runny to spread on cake firm in refrigerator for ten minutes at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Spread icing over top and sides of cake, smoothing where desired.  Let cake sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Once served, store in the refrigerator for best results.


Recipe Adapted from: Southern Cakes