Sunday, February 19, 2012


today, i want to share an amazing quote with you. sometimes, there is so much power in one little sentence and for me, this sentence embodies this.

"You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone outta be."
- Elizabeth Gilbert

how many times have you wished for something in your life, but not had the courage to make it come to fruition? though i may not know the exact number myself, my hand is raised for having had it happen to me. but on those moments, those brave occasions when we walk on the tightrope of joy and defeat, when we cross over from wishing to happening, we feel alive.

even when we might topple over on the way to our dreams, the mere notion that we tried makes us feel alive. be courageous enough to live your life and follow your dreams. wishing and hoping are beautiful notions, but making those wishes your reality is truly the bees knees.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

.snickerdoodle cookie bottom cupcakes.

seriously. am i allowed to start this post with seriously? sure i can, it is my blog after all. but folks, this is seriously going to be your new favorite cupcake.

here's the deal, it takes the magic of a snickerdoodle cookie and bippity boppity boos it to a cupcake. they magically combine so much so that the bottom of this cupcake is in fact a snickerdoodle cookie. seriously.

i wish i had invented this genius recipe because i'd take it on the road and sell it in on corners, shouting to the onlookers, COME ONE, COME ALL, GET YOUR COOKIE, GET YOUR CUPCAKE, GET YOUR COOKIECUPCAKE,SERIOUSLY!!

you'll make these. you'll love these. you'll make them again and again. first, there's cookie dough on the bottom, then cupcake batter piled on top.

when these babies come out of the oven, top them with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

bite into the layers of cookie and cupcake and you'll feel as if you've died and gone to snickerdoodle heaven. seriously.

snickerdoodle cookie bottom cupcakes
from how sweet it is
makes 12-14 cupcakes

cookie layer

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combine, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until dough comes together. Add in milk. If dough is crumbly, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until it comes together.

Refrigerate dough while you make cupcake batter.

cake layer

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 whole eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons (or however much you’d like for thicker cookie bottoms) of cookie dough in the bottom of the liner. Even out the dough with the back of a non-stick sprayed spoon. Using an ice cream scoop, drop batter (about 2 heaping tablespoons worth) on top of cookie dough mixture. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

cinnamon cream cheese frosting

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy and combined. Gradually add in powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing on medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl for 4-5 minutes. Finish with adding cinnamon, then mixing until combined once more. Frost cupcakes as desired and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar. Cupcakes should be refrigerated after about 1-2 hours of sitting out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

.happy heart (for everyone) day.

for those of you madly in love or even angrily liking someone, valentine's day is a glorious time for you to basque in romance. on the other hand, if you'd like to shove cupid's arrow where the sun don't shine, then this is a terrible, miserable, corporate-created day for you. hey, i've been on both sides of the valentine's fence; so, i get it.

although i'm hopelessly in love with my newish husband and have little hearts floating in my eyes, this won't be that kind of post. what i'd like to chat about instead is all the love we can all find on a day like this; with or without the smooching.

on v-day especially, life can be depressing for some of us. let me try (notice i said try) to give you some ideas to cheer you up. make a list of ten things you love that don't include romantic love. i'll go first.

1. the way my puppy dogs both want to snuggle as close as they can against me when they're napping
2. any happy feedback i get from my baking or blogging
3. the way my hpff still lets me laugh at all my own dorky jokes after all these years
4. real mail written by a real person; especially if there's a p.s.
5. watching netflix tv shows like the office and parks and recreation unabashedly one right after the other
6. cheese
7. my new camera and the fun i'm having with it
8. alarm-clockless weekends
9. a clean house
10. board game nights

now, if you don't smile at some point when making your own list, then let's move to plan b. write 5 things that have touched your heart in a joyous way over the past year. i'm not going to lead by example on this one in fear of leaving something more breathtaking out than the item before. but rest assured, i have 5, more than 5 even, and some of them are from my crappiest days. i'll wait for you to make yours...

ok, if you're still feeling like the 'scrooge of valentine's current,' let's try one more tactic. pick that one person, that one child, that one pet or that one imaginary friend still in your life that makes your heart (not romantically) skip a beat and close your eyes. wait, read this first and then close your eyes. phew. that was a close one.

think of that one person or pet you've picked out and travel back to one of your favorite memories with them and how happy it made your heart. ok, now go ahead and close your eyes and try it. open your eyes. please tell me there was at least a little smile even on the inside.

well folks, i've done my darndest to ensure that we all have a pleasant valentine's day. a day about love is a day for all of us to rejoice in because love comes in so many forms.

p.s. the best kind of love you can possibly imagine is the kind you give away.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

.heart in a hole.

my eye guy has a special breakfast he makes. i request it, so does my hpff, his mom...we all love it. he didn't have a name for them; so, i called them eggbreads when we first started dating. you may know them as egg in a basket, cowboy eggs, one-eyed-jacks, matter what, i'm pretty sure you'll call them good.

with valentine's in the air, i decided to make some for him for breakfast. let me show you how. heat a pan over medium-high heat on your stovetop and coat it with a little butter as if you were about to make a grilled cheese.

grab as many pieces of bread as you'd like. use your favorite kind; which for us is oat nut. nutty.

normally, my eye guy just tears a rough hole out of the center of the bread to leave a little cubby for the egg. because i was valentinesing this breakfast up, i used a heart cutter instead.

now, spread your bread with a wee bit of butter (or a wow bit if you'd like) and place it on your heated pan.

crack open an egg and drop it in hole you have created in the bread. basically, you're about to begin frying an egg with bread just wrapped around it. amazing.

after a couple of minutes, take a spatula and carefully flip the whole thing over at once just like you would with a grilled cheese sandwich. add salt and pepper to taste. in our house, we like our eggs a little runny. if you don't, cook yours longer. like i said, do what you do when you do fry an egg. do. (just thought i should throw it in again for good measure)

now, you've got a couple extra pieces of bread to toast. the holes! in this case, the hearts! put some butter on those cuties and serve on the side. some people like to use them to soak up egg as they eat. i decided to serve them on the side with a little strawberry jelly. yummy.

what a heart-y breakfast!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

.mocha cupcakes topped with coconut buttercream.

when my friend, michelle, asked me to make cupcakes for her daughter's baptism celebration, i was all too happy to do so. i was so happy to do so in fact that i made two varieties. knowing chocolate was a favorite of my friend's, i started searching for a new recipe. she has already had my tried and true chocolate cupcake. thankfully, i stumbled upon a mocha cupcake with coconut buttercream frosting recipe. oh yes.

you're going to want to make these soon. they're really a rich tasting cupcake with a light, yet intricate frosting. start by whisking one egg and 3/4 cups white sugar together.

this recipe calls for coconut milk. how fun is that? i know it isn't something you probably already have in your pantry or fridge, but it is worth getting for these cupcakes. plus, it works well in your coffee or even tea as a little treat. to your whisking bowl, add 3/4 cups coconut milk.

because i'm the luckiest girl in all the kitchen worlds, i then went to my pretty blue mixer to keep the batter going. whether you have a standing mixer or a hand mixer (maybe just your hand), to your egg, sugar and coconut milk, mix in 1/2 cup melted butter and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. mix on medium speed. while we're thinking about it, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

in a separate bowl, sift together 1 and 1/8 cups all purpose flour, 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. don't forget to throw some over your shoulder for good luck.

then again, when you're using dark cocoa powder in a recipe, i don't think you really need much luck. you've already got the good stuff. take your dry ingredients and slowly mix them into your wet ingredients.

now, add in two tablespoons of sour cream. you're welcome to use low fat if you're on a cupcake diet like i am.

the last ingredient, and arguably the most important to some people, is the addition of chocolate chips. fold them into your batter by hand or with your mixer on low.

line your muffin tin with liners and plop rounded scoops into each tin. fill them about 2/3 full. i was able to get 15 cupcakes out of the batter. if you want bigger ones, they'd make a nice dozen.

bake for around 15 minutes. i think my oven has heating super powers; so, i always check my baked goods with a toothpick before the recipe's time is up. these were probably done for me around 13 minutes.

while your cupcakes are baking and then cooling on a wire rack, let's get cracking on that frosting.

cream two sticks of softened butter in your mixer. slowly add in the confectionary sugar. you'll use about 3-4 cups and if you add it too quickly, you'll end up with a powdered puffy rain all over your kitchen counter tops. don't be like me and add it very sloooowwwwly. increase your mixer speed now and add a tablespoon of vanilla extract. at this point, you have a yummy white buttercream. now, let's get (coco)nutty! add 1-2 tablespoons of your coconut milk and 3/4- 1 cup of shredded sweetened coconut.

once your cupcakes are completely cool, feel free to frost away. i used a large opening tip. i don't know all the fancy schmancy names of tips yet. i started in the center and just squeezed until mounds of coconut buttercream sat dreamily on top of each mocha chocolate cupcake.

to make an extra point of prettiness for a little lady's baptism, i decided to girly it up with sweet pink roses. this was my first dip into the fondant pool and i think it is safe to say i'll be back.

the cupcakes tasted sophisticated and simply sweet at the same time. this is one of those recipes i'll be revisiting again in the future. oh, and remember how i mentioned i made two varieties for the celebration? the other is right around the corner...

mocha coconut cupcakes
adapted from how sweet it is
makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/8 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

3 tablespoons instant coffee powder

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 cup chocolate or cappuccino chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth, then stir in sour cream. Fold in chocolate chips and mix. Line a muffin tin with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Frosting

2 sticks of butter, softened (1 cup)

3 2/3 cups powdered sugar + more if needed

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of coconut extract (if you don’t have this, no big deal)

1-2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla and coconut extracts, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue to whip for another 4-5 minutes, continuously scrapping. If frosting is too thick, add coconut milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar gradually until it thickens. Fold in shredded coconut and mix until just combined. Frost cupcakes, then sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Monday, February 6, 2012

.rosemary flatbread.

if i had a daughter, maybe i'd name her rosemary. actually, i wouldn't, but i truly love the scent and taste of rosemary so very much that any recipe with it is sure to win me over.

gather your main characters, rosemary, salt and baking powder. also, go ahead and preheat your oven to 450 and stick an empty baking pan in there to heat up.

add the rosemary, salt and baking powder to your flour and stir in a medium-sized bowl. punch or dig a well in the center. here's your chance to take out a little aggression if you need to do so. i understand.

into that, pour your olive oil and water.

take a wooden spoon or spatula and mix all your ingredients together. it will appear crumbly and coarse if you're anything like me. begin to knead the dough together with your hands to try and make it cohesive.

tear a third of your dough ball off and roll it out with a rolling pin. i lined my pin in cling rap to keep the dough from sticking to the wooden roller.

carefully remove your preheated pan from the oven and place a round of parchment under your flatbread. drizzle it with more olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and scatter with rosemary. take a moment to enjoy the scent of the rosemary...whifffffff. mmm.

bake on the warmed baking sheet for 8-10 minutes and it should come out a little bread-like and a little crackery and a lot yummy.

i liked to pretend mine were clouds so i could play that game where you lay on your back and stare up at the sky and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. except, it would be really weird for me to lay on the floor and hold the flatbread over my head; so, i instead just stared down at it while it rested comfortably on a plate. the game was still just as fun.

conveniently, my eye guy and i had soup for dinner that night and the flatbread was a lovely accompaniment. p.s. the soup recipe will be arriving to an adorable blog near you soon.

rosemary flatbread
from smitten kitchen
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.
Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.
Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).
Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.
Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Friday, February 3, 2012

.doggie delights.

i just want to share some little happies. i didn't know the term little happies until i met my friend lauren. if i had to guess, i'd say it is her favorite quote, "i've got a little happy for you!"

she especially loves to give my fur babies treats because she has the heart of a fur mamma herself.

we went to a local dog bakery together and i bought way more treats for my pups than should have been allowed. i vowed to never do that again.

these puppy desserts are fantabulous because they're all natural ingredients, but the dogs think they have done something exceptionally great to earn such a treat. face-licking good.

sometimes my dogs say to me through their eyes so much. things like- "what's all over my face?" oh, and "you're the best fur mommy ever!" i swear it.

i thought today i'd give you a little happy with just some cutie pie pics of my furry loves...poptart and applejack. with names that sweet, they're irresistible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

.creamy gouda and spinach gnocchi.

if you have never tried gnocchi before, do yourself a favor and pick some up. there are lots of ways to enjoy it and gnocchi even cooks more quickly than pasta does. to make this creamy, cheesy gnocchi with spinach, let me take you for a little recipe ride.

heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add one clove of chopped garlic. in a separate large pot, begin boiling water for your gnocchi.

now, put in your skillet about a cup of fresh spinach. continue to cook it in the garlic oil over medium heat until it becomes cooked through.

in a large skillet, you're going to make a rue. a good friend of mine taught me how to make a rue a couple of years ago and now i love using the method any chance i get. heat three tablespoons of butter, 3/4 cup milk, and about 1/2 cup of flour. stir until you have a paste-like consistency. if it is too thin, add a little more flour gradually. if it is too thick, add a little more milk gradually.

as your rue is coming together, add your seasoning. salt, pepper and herbs. my eye guy and i recently found the cutest little store that sells herbs, coffee, tea, spices, and all kinds of yummies. i was pleased to use some of these herbs for the first time in this tasty little number.

into your creamy rue, shred in your cheese of choice. i used a white chipotle gouda. the chipotle wasn't overwhelming in this particular cheese and just added a hint of smokiness.

taste your creamy, cheesy sauce to see if the flavor is spot on. if it isn't, add a little more of this or that to bring it to the taste you want. stir in your garlic sauteed spinach. what you now have my friends is an incredible homemade sauce. they don't jar deliciousness like this.

to your boiling water, add your gnocchi. in case you were wondering, remove it from the package first. i like to use tri-color because i think it's pretty. hey, sue me.

as soon as the gnocchi floats to the top, which should just be a few minutes, remove it from the water and drain it.

stir the gnocchi into the sauce and top with shaved parmesan cheese if you have it. this is a hearty dish with a depth of rich flavors that will make you want to shout about it from the rooftops. or from your dining room chair- just don't scare your neighbors with all that hollering.

spinach and creamy gouda gnocchi
what you need
1 package gnocchi
3 tbs butter
3-4- 1 cup milk
1/2-3/4 cups gouda or white cheese of your choice
parmesan for topping (optional)
1 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced
1 cup spinach
1/2-1 cup flour
italian herbs
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

what you do
saute spinach with olive oil and garlic over medium heat. remove this from the pan and now melt butter with milk and flour to make a rue. season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and herbs. then, add shredded cheese. if the sauce is too thick, add more milk and if it is too thin, add more flour.
add the garlic spinach back into the sauce.
boil the gnocchi until it rises to the top; which should take just a few minutes. blend the cooked gnocchi into your homemade sauce and then top with parmesan cheese if you have it. yum.