How to Host a Simple Family Dinner.

Cross your fingers for a sunshiney afternoon.

Arrange a bouquet of fresh cut flowers in bright colors.

Cook a stick to their bones kind of meal.

(pasta bolognese, a fresh green salad, hot oven baked rolls with butter)

Serve that dessert they never get sick of.

Easter was such a treat this year. It was simple, but indulgent, with weather to compliment the mood. I was so happy to have found endless bouquets of ranunculus when I went to the market to buy flowers on Friday. They are my absolute favorites this time of season, and a great accessory to any table with their deep variety of colors. In an attempt to take the guessing out of the meal, we went with the family favorite. Like I said, want to host a seamless feast, just go with the favorites… sometimes simple is the best policy.

Just of a few of my favorite instagrammys from the day.. @thefreshissue

xoxo

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Step by Step Fresh Pasta @ Oven&Fig!

As some of you may already know, I have quite a love for a local restaurant in my town, Alfredo BYO

Last month the owners and I came together to create a blog- which we decided to call the Oven and Fig. Adorable!

I am writing and photographing each piece we do together. Right now we are working on one post per month- in the restaurant business, time is oh so precious. It is such a blast!

For our Christmas edition we decided handmade pasta would be our recipe of choice…. You thought my hand rolled gnocchi were fun and delicious?

These little guys are quite a contender. 

Check out the new post HERE … and let me know what you think!

7 Minutes to Heaven… & Handmade Sno Balls.

On a picture I instagramed this morning of my chocolate cupcakes, I think I used the term … redefining waking and baking one cupcake at a time? In my defense I was still half asleep. 🙂 

But seriously – the last two weeks, every morning I have rolled out of bed, PJs still on, hair still a hot mess, just to go straight down to turn on the oven. This morning was suppose to be my first morning of a little R&R, but, I had a tad bit of seperation anxiety from the kitchen. 

I had buttermilk left, and since about the only thing I didn’t make for the party yesterday were chocolate cupcakes, that was just going to have to be where I got my fix. And, let me not forget to mention the unquenchable craving I was having for 7 minute frosting. 

Please tell me you guys have stuck your finger in a bowl of this stuff at least once in your life?

It is a frosting that defines the word divine. It’s like marshmallow fluff, except totally not. It’s so much better, and has a flavor I just can’t explain.

click, print!

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Spread A Little Holiday Cheer.

Diane Keaton was on the Ellen show yesterday. I love her. Her movies are fabulous, her style is unique, and she is just all around fabulous. I was listening, not really watching, until she started talking about when she was 23, and how she was work in the hair department for a production company, and how she was basically miserable. She then equated that to her broad observation of what the 20s – 23 year olds experience of the world is. It’s confusing, you feel lost, you’re out of school – a place that had been your reality for so long – and now you’re a little unsure of what motivates you. My ears perked up – not only because I am 23 – but because I think what she said, although not necessarily true, is an important statement to remind yourself of every day. Look at where she is today – and my reality was once hers.  

This is the first holiday season where I actually feel like I have time to do what I love – bake a smile on people’s faces – and even still I am not sure how I can actually make this into a living. I know what motivates me, and I am really not lost, but I guess I am confused. Confusion caused by the lesser evils of the issues in the world – the issue that I have so much that I love – so what to actually pursue first?

I just cleaned the last crumb off the counter after two days of baking for a holiday party for my favorite lady in the world. I loved every minute of it – I love all the prep, and the sugar, the butter, the vanilla. I don’t love having to clean all that up, but I love making it into something! This party was a drinks and dessert secret santa exchange for a group of moms. 

We agreed on a bunch of mini desserts. 

Christmas confetti cupcakes, which I decorated with green icing and sprinkles to look like tangled strands of christmas lights!

Grown up goldfish – different than my original recipe – with a hint of finely chopped dried rosemary. 

Vanilla spritz cookies with an essence of cardamon…. probably my most favorite spice next to cinnamon. 

Chocolate Chip Brownie Santa Hats, strawberries with a dab of cream cheese frosting. 

Mini red velvet cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting, and a swirl of candy cane crunch frosting. I cut a little hole for a popsicle stick, and then tied a bow. TaDA, peppermint lollipop cupcakes!

Gingerbread cupcakes, with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and a scare of my gingerbread marshmallows.

Not pictured, was one of my favorite Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding pies, and the delicious treats B picked up from the Candy corner at the Wayne Farmer’s market. 

The night was then completed by what B has named the Snowflake Martini.

1 bottle of Cranberry Vodka 

1 bottle of Triplesec

1 bottle of white cranberry juice

1 bag of frozen cranberries

Ice 

Sugar (for glasses)

So, as I am staring and the broom and dustpan, dreading a midnight sweep, all it takes is thinking about how much fun it was to create all of those delicious sweets and how much fun the ladies had to tonight, to realize that the crumbs are nothing. 

We all start out somewhere. So if you are 23, and like Diane Keaton did, feel a bit confused, just make sure that every day you do what you can, to do what you love…. and you will get there one day. 

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa & Homemade Gingerbread Marshmallows

To a girl that carries around the deer park gallon jug of water every day – and never drinks anything but water, every day, and every night – starting my day with a big mug of cinnamon hot cocoa was like a huge deal. I think my heart actually skipped a beat with the first sip. So, excluding the occasional hot chai, or decaf iced coffee or tea, I have been off the drink wagon for almost 3 years. No soda, no sugary drinks at all, no coffee, no caffeine ever, no nada. It stops being boring after year one – or I wouldn’t have made it this long. 😉

The cause for this morning’s indulgence? Homemade gingerbread marshmallows.

The effect? Melty ooey goey gingerbread marshmallows floating on top of the freshly whipped cream in my beautiful mug of cinnamon hot cocoa.

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Christmas FUNfetti Cake… from scratch.

It’s amazing what getting into an argument with a guy will do to a female. Me being the female in this case. 

Start my day with a text gone wayyy wrong at 7 am, and instead of going to the kitchen and grabbing a big glass of water, I go in the refrigerator to take butter out so it can start softening. Call it emotional eating, stress baking, whatever it is, it happened and it happened oh so gracefully today. 

My bad morning of texts somehow coincided with a similar bad morning for one of my bffs, which resulted in an hour long phone conversation, all the while I one handedly crafted a stand mixer bowl full of nothing other than the batter for a batch of homemade funfetti mini cupcakes. Fun right? (ha. pun very much intended). Red & Green Christmas funfetti of course. 

Any red and green sprinkles work – as long as you don’t use sanding sugar, as it melts and bleeds.  

But you can’t just throw them into the mix. The secret is to coat the sprinkles with flour before mixing them into the batter. This way, it is easier for them to stay suspended in the cake batter, and not just sink to the bottom. (the same tip goes for placing chocolate chips in brownie batter. Coat them with cocoa powder to bake your best brownie)

Obviously – I made these cupcakes seasonal, but use whatever sprinkles you like! Lot a hot pink funfetti cake? Sexay.

click, print!

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Little Bites in the Big City.

The city was glistening this weekend. When my friend Wesley at Free People asked me to bring sweets to their holiday coat drive event in December, all I could think about was how perfect NYC is for the holidays. Everywhere you turn the store windows are festive, the fashion is cozy, and as annoying as shoving your way through midtown might be, there is no better time of the year to see the city alive. 

Now, when we think holiday desserts, there are a few classics, that we can’t seem to keep our hands off of. No holiday season passes in my house without peppermint bark, gingerbread cutouts, sugar cookies, and decorated spritz cookies. With a small budget, I had to be selective… with desserts? Almost, impossible!

As much as I wanted to create little Free People gingerbread girls – I will have to save that for another day 🙂

Instead… I did Holidays the Free People way. Hot pinks and bright sparkley colors – and everything but red & green.

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Ginger & Spice & Everything Nice!

My head is so deep in the mixing bowl right now I am surprised I am even finding the time to write down my thoughts.

It’s midnight, I’m exhausted. Too exhausted to even remember what I actually did today.

I just snuck one of my gingersnaps out of the tupperware for my midnight snack. Certainly can’t forget that I made those today. They are sooo good it’s SILLY. Snappy and spicy with that thing that molasses does to a cookie. If I don’t stop I will go sneak another one.

The purpose of making them besides the obvious – tis the season – is that I need to make a bunch of different crusts that require gingersnaps to make an appearance. I have an order for a pumpkin cheesecake, there is another pumpkin cheesecake for my family dinner, and then a traditional pumpkin pie in the works.

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