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

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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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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a sweet cake for a sweet girl.

I never thought I would have stories that truly define the word baffling. I never thought I would have to add the stories of the last few weeks to my own. But I also never thought I would find so much love in one little cake for one little girl.  One little girl that puts a smile on my face with every little word, and every big smile. That is why, when her mama asked me to bake a birthday cake for her 2nd birthday, I knew it was just the thing I needed to brighten up my baffling days.

The only guideline? Pink.

A cake as cute as my little Colette. She is a pint size little lady, with a personality as big as her appetite. I love watching her munch on her bowls of snacks, and studying her mastermind climbing skills as she gets herself on top of the kitchen counter to sip on her sister’s left over hot cocoa… she is my kind of girl.

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How to: A Ruffled Birthday Cake.

Didn’t I say I was dreaming of baking this cake on Friday? Well I forgot to mention the little tid bit of information that there was actually the perfect occasion for that to happen – Mama’s birthday.

Now, Mama might not have wanted to celebrate this year, especially not two days in a row, but when you have a daughter like me, it is pretty damn difficult to avoid sweets and birthday candles. However, as much of a birthday princess as I am, for the first time I kind of understood the feeling. I’ll remind you all that this year was the beginning of the end, the year I didn’t welcome turning another number older with open arms – yup, from here on out we are just getting, dare I say that we are actually getting, old? Oy vey.

However, I think I have the perfect fix for the dreaded birthdays that all of us 21 and overs will face once a year… The beautiful birthday cake. Ruffles, the quintessential little girl’s fashion dream, and the perfect celebratory cake accent.

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The Day My Camera Fell in Love.

 

 As promised, here at the photographs from this Saturday’s Food and Drink writer meet up at R2L restaurant. The restaurant itself is located on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place on 16th between Market and Chestnut streets. A truly hidden gem, the luxury of your dining experience begins as soon as you board the single hidden elevator at the back of a corridor that takes you to the restaurant lobby. A unique experience in that way, but also a special one because of the endless views of the city that are at your disposal from any table in the place.

We were seated in one of their private rooms for the duration of the food photography chat. 

The natural light was ideal for photographs. I could only dream of having great exposure like that every day!

After Chef Stern spoke to us, and photographer Eric Mencher gave us a few tips and told us about his experience in the the food photography industry, out came the stars of the day. 

The Food. 

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Love’s Kitchen (and a giveaway)!

Introducing this week’s obsession,

movieshut.info

you can find it in your “new movies” collection, my little Netflixers.

A British film made for gourmands, food lovers, and romantics alike, Love’s Kitchen is positively adorable and truly inspiring. The plot is predictable but in that perfectly acceptable, feel good kind of way. The actors are all lovable, and, if you didn’t fancy a man in Chef whites before, you will as soon as the first scene comes to a close! It’s a tear jerker at times, leaves you LOLing at others, but mostly it is a film that has your mouth watering at some beautiful examples of English cuisine. And oh, the kitchen! The kitchennnn!!! A huge farm table sits in the center, where all the prep is done.. one day.

I am sure you will have no trouble falling love with this movie as I did, but what I really can’t get out of my mid is the Chef’s signature dessert, a Trifle. It looks divine. Each character that gets a spoonful between their lips has the reaction that every professional and amateur alike wishes for. Just sheer bliss. See for yourself …

And now, I want input from each one of you to help me find the best ever Trifle recipe.

Please comment below and leave a link to a great recipe or give a cookbook suggestion and tell me what your absolute favorite dessert is I will choose one of you to whom I will send a yummy gift package to thrill your sweet tooth!

You do the searching I do the baking… not a bad trade right?

🙂 

Giveaway ends Thursday 10/20. Open to all my US readers!