Dessert

Italian, pastry, French, homemade, cream puff, canoli, eclair, pudding, custard, kid, friendly, fun, easy, delicious, party, dessert, snack, fancy, chocolate, vanilla, Villa Italia, Schenectady

Not only have I not been eating healthy these first three months of 2013, but I'm eating downright terribly. It's not the lack of good food, it's probably the abundance of bad food that's going to kill me in the end.

One particular weakness of mine is Italian pastries. Kevin and I found the BEST Italian pastry shop in Schenectady, NY, called Villa Italia. We figure that since we only see each other once or twice a month, we have a right to indulge in as many cream puffs, cannolis, eclairs, and cookies as we can fit into our stomachs. It doesn't leave us feeling too great about ourselves, but oh my god are they delicious.

Italian, pastry, French, homemade, cream puff, canoli, eclair, pudding, custard, kid, friendly, fun, easy, delicious, party, dessert, snack, fancy, chocolate, vanilla, Villa Italia, Schenectady

So since I had a three week period where I didn't drive to beautiful (ha!) Schenectady, I figured I had to get my fix the old-fashioned way: by making them from scratch. And you know what? It was not nearly as difficult as I had imagined. ...continue reading

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Happy V-day everyone! For all the happy couples, enjoy your day. And for the lonely hearts out there? Keep your chin up, it could be worse. You could still be with that gross ex of yours. You know which one I'm talking about.

And even though Kevin is far away during this romantic holiday, I thought I would get in the spirit of love and make some red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow cream frosting. They came out a little messier than I would have liked, and the cute heart wrapper things I had set aside didn't work, but they still taste awesome!

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The coolest person in the world, Beth (HI BETH!!!) helped me make these this weekend, after she so bravely endured being my assistent during an engagement photo shoot for some friends. The girl has a knack for holding things, as it turns out. And that's not all she can do! Just look at her lovely chocolate decorations:

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Gentlemen? She's single 😉

(Kidding. I know that men don't read my blog.)

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bottle (1 oz) red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 jar (7.5 oz) marshmallow cream (fluff)
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350. Line cupcake tin with paper cups.

In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix 1/2 cup butter and sugar on medium. Add eggs and beat 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Stir in food coloring and vanilla. On low speed, alternate adding buttermilk and flour mixture. Beat in baking soda and vinegar. 

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake 20-22 mins or until they spring back up when poked.

To make the frosting: microwave fluff for 15-20 seconds, beat with butter on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Frost cupcakes, decorate as desired.

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It's not unusual (cue the Carlton dance!) for people to go through phases with their eating habits. For most people, that's something like "I love avocados  and I'm adding them to tons of dishes!" or "I can't stop eating pints of Ben and Jerry's since the breakup!" or even "I'm so broke this month all I'm eating is ramen and mac n cheese."

For someone like me (read: weird), these phases usually involve cereal. For new readers, understand that cereal basically raised me. As a child who hated everything her mother cooked, cereal stepped in. It was a quick breakfast before the bus came, it was dinner when mom made pot roast, it was a sweet dessert while watching tv.  ...continue reading

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I know, I know. I've been bad at blogging this year. But I've been great about everything else! I've been working hard at work, my book, some art projects, and oh yeah, a ginormous cake that totally blows away anything else I've ever made!!!

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That's right. The most epic cake ever, and totally a surprise for Kevin's 26th birthday (he thought I was making a tardis cake! Could we get any nerdier?)

I started this on Sunday and finally stacked it on Friday. It consists of 12 separate cake layers (chocolate and vanilla alternating) with buttercream filling, and about six pounds of homemade marshmallow fondant. People seem surprised when they discover how expensive wedding cakes are. I will guess that this barely made it under $100, especially when I take into account all the extra tools and supplies from Michaels I needed. It's almost creepy how much butter and sugar is in that thing...

I designed it months ago, knowing that Kevin's birthday falls only three days after our one-year anniversary (we always joke about our poor planning). I of course knew right away that I wanted to do Star Wars, because I thought it would work perfectly for the ambitious, multi-tiered design I had in mind.  ...continue reading

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So as always, I'm a little late posting these. They were supposed to be a Chanukah treat for all of you, but just like last year's Latke recipe, I kept convincing myself I had time to post them. I made them early enough, it's just whenever I sat down in front of Lightroom with over 150 photos to sort though and edit I would find something else that needed to be done. Like do some more online shopping, or check how many books I sold in the last twenty minutes, or check the word count on my current book.

You know, important things.

But, enough is enough. Just because I missed out on posting these as a Chanukah recipe doesn't mean they weren't good, and gosh darnit, they are not going to sit on my computer until next year. Because most likely, I will be a much better photographer by then, and so embarrassed by my crude attempt at food styling that I will refuse to post them.

Which, if I could find my archive of photos from a year ago, I'd show you the difference.  ...continue reading

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When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I never imagined that I would ever be considered a real "blogger."

But look at me now, going to christmas cookie parties with other bloggers! I had a wonderful time on Saturday with two lovely local food bloggers. On the left we have Steph, from over at Steph Chows, and in the middle is Tracy from Sugarcrafter. In the front you can see our wonderful array of cookies we whipped up to share!

Steph made the cutest little cinnamon bun cookies, which I had no idea even existed until she told me that was what she was making.

Look how adorable they are! Be sure to check out her blog in the next week or so for that recipe.

And wonderful Tracy made these flaky and delicious Kolatchky (spelling?), which I think are Slovakian, and filled with some of her incredible jam. Tracy was also our wonderful host for the party, and provided us with delicious snacks, including the most amazing hot pepper jam (go buy some from her!!!), which was so incredible on crackers and on Steph's fresh rosemary bread.

Ok, I think I'm done with the plugs for now 🙂

As for me, the lonely little jew who is also fairly new to the baking scene in general, I figured I'd stick to something I know a little bit about.

Balls. 

Candy balls, that is. Come on guys, get your head out of the gutter! Now, my normal go-to seasonal ball to make is a peanut butter ball that tastes just like reeses, but since Tracy is deathly allergic to peanuts, I figured I would skip that and try out an oreo truffle.

Note the festive Chanukah sprinkles!

I'm always fond of addicting little treats that take minimal work, and only have three ingredients and just as many steps.

You will need:

  • package of oreos
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 16 oz semi-sweet bakers chocolate

Crush your oreos using your preferred method. I chose throwing a handful into a plastic bag and rolling it with a heavy rolling pin, to avoid making a huge mess on Tracy's table. 

Add the cream cheese, and maybe a splash or two of whipped marshmallow vodka, and combine. Roll into 1 inch size balls (a loaded teaspoon works well) and freeze for 10-15 minutes.

Can I just say how insanely jealous I am of Tracy's natural light in her house? It does not take a million hours of setting up lights and backdrops when you can just stand next to a window, and I want it. 

After you pull the balls out of the freezer, dunk them in the melted chocolate, and that's it!

You can top them with sprinkles, or oreo crumbs, or drizzled chocolate...anything. What I'm trying to say is that this is the perfect easy to make recipe that will impress your coworkers and friends (are you sensing a trend with the things I post around holidays?) Minimal effort, maximum results.

So I survived my first cookie making party, and had a lot of fun in the process. Now go check out their lovely blogs to see the recipes for what they made, and be sure to bookmark them. You're definitely going to want to follow them.

 

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Star wars, sugar, cookies, frosting, icing, royal, piped, fill, 20 second, darth vader, yoda, boba fett, storm trooper, stormtrooper, return of the jedi, a new hope, empire strikes back, William Sonoma, cookie cutters, punch, sugar cookies

Hola. I'm not sure how many times I'm allowed to apologize for being a negligent blog updater, but...I'm sorry. Life is crazy right now for me, as I'm sure it is for all of you as well! Holiday season is nuts.

I won't go into too much detail, but my company is getting ready to submit our device to the FDA for approval so we've been running around like crazy gathering data and working on paperwork, I am taking a photography class AND a cooking class online (remind me to talk about that later!), I have my cruise in less than three weeks, and I'm hoping to finish the first draft of my second book by then. phew. 

But, look at this. STAR WARS COOKIES!

Star wars, sugar, cookies, frosting, icing, royal, piped, fill, 20 second, darth vader, yoda, boba fett, storm trooper, stormtrooper, return of the jedi, a new hope, empire strikes back, William Sonoma, cookie cutters, punch, sugar cookies

I guess since my last post was about an Avengers party, an unsuspecting visitor might get confused and think that I'm some sort of nerd. But luckily, my faithful reader, you know better. There is no doubt in your mind that I'm a HUGE nerd. 🙂

My boyfriend is the big Star Wars geek though, so when I saw these cookie cutters on sale at Williams Sonoma on Black Friday, I had to buy them, and surprise him with a batch or two. It gave me the perfect chance to dive headfirst into the time-consuming world of cookie decorating, but I ended up having so much fun, and it's hard not to love biting into a stormtrooper head.  ...continue reading

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Hulk, shots, jello shots, alcohol, drinks, glasses, theme, avengers, Marvel, party, food, easy, fun, Captain America, Thor, Loki, Bruce Banner, Iron Man, Tony Stark, Radiation, Hulk Smash,

Oh hey everyone, it's been awhile. Hope you all had wonderful thanksgivings, I know I did! Before I get into these too-cute-for-words painted shot glasses that I made for an Avengers party, a few announcements.

1. My book was free for five days on Amazon (I hope you all got your free copies!), and I sold a mind-boggling 16,000 copies. Yeah. That's insane. The promotion ended, but it's still only $2.99, so definitely affordable. And though I made zero dollars from the promotions (bye bye, imaginary $33 grand), the reviews are starting to roll in. For a self-published first time author, there is no greater buzz than reading another 5 star review!

2. I successfully "won" NanoWrimo this year, meaning that I wrote 50,000 words in the month of November. While my second book isn't finished yet, I've gotten more than half of it done already! I won't go into details, but I will leave you with this tantalizing hint: there is a lot of cooking involved, and maybe even a few recipes 🙂

3. I bought a new lens...it's glorious and I cannot wait to play with it! How did a rash decision to make a blog turn into an obsession with photography and cooking?!

But back to the Avengers!!! When I heard that my friend Beth (Whom I've known since 6th grade!!!) hadn't seen the Avengers or Thor yet, I was in shock. I mean...

Yum.

Being the cooking nerds that we are, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to make some awesome themed food for our (small) party. Here is what we came up with:

Hulk, shots, jello shots, alcohol, drinks, glasses, theme, avengers, Marvel, party, food, easy, fun, Captain America, Thor, Loki, Bruce Banner, Iron Man, Tony Stark, Radiation, Hulk Smash,

  • Thor's Hammer appetizers
  • Hulk Jello Shots
  • Captain America Cupcakes
  • Iron Man Pizza (not shown because it fell off the pizza stone and got all smushed)

These aren't really recipes as much as a bunch of ideas for your own Avengers party.

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To make Thor's hammers, we cubed pepperoni, summer sausage, and cheese. We wanted to use sharp cheddar, but found that the softer monterey jack worked better with the pretzel rods and cracked less often.

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For the adorable Captain America cupcakes, Beth brought simple vanilla cupcakes swirled with red and blue food coloring, and we topped them with circles of colored fondant. Three cheers for her engineering degree and her makeshift star fondant cutter!

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Ok, these are probably the cutest things I've made. And yes, I did spend an hour painting shotglasses for a three person party. And I don't even like jello shots!

But what I did was take a dozen or so clean, plain shot glasses. Then I traced this adorable angry hulk face (template from CuteasaFox.com) and made a stencil out of cardboard. Then, using a small brush and black acrylic paint, I colored in the stencil.

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And the best part about the painted shot glasses? You throw them in the dishwasher and the paint comes right off, leaving me with a dozen blank canvasses for my next party. I'm sure you could seal the design on there permanently if you wanted to, but I love the re-useability (that isn't a word, is it?) of them. Hell, I might start painting all of my glasses!

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The recipe itself is simple: I followed the directions on the box of lime jello (dissolve in hot water, add cold water, etc) and then added about a half cup of Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade and a dash of plain UV vodka for an extra kick.

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Then you slip them into the fridge for a few hours, and voila! Look how cute his little angry face is! Haha.

To be honest though, I would have preferred to just have regular shots instead of jello shots. I ended up eating them out of the glasses with a spoon, because the slimy feeling of a huge cube of jello slowly moving down my esophagus makes me gag.

But anyway, there you have it! Adorable Avengers party food for your next Marvel party. Now if you'll excuse me, I have another 50,000 words to write so I can finish my second book! 🙂

So it's just a few days before Halloween, and you realize with a panic that you wanted to make something cute for the kids to bring to school, or to hand out at work. You're running out of time, and you want something delicious and fun.

Dash and a pinch here, to save the day.

The answer is simple:

Rice crispy treat balls! Perfect and individually sized, and you can do a billion things with them. For example, the ones drizzled in milk chocolate and white (orange) chocolate are actually peanut butter rice crispy treats. You just add the peanut butter after you melt the marshmallows.

And the ones stuffed with candy corn have just a pinch of pumpkin pie spice in them, to jazz them up a bit.

Or what about halloween funfetti cake mix treats? Or pumpkin shaped treats? There's so many variations of these things, your possibilities are endless. Don't think you'll get many trick or treaters this year? Stuff your treats full of bite sized candy!

And the best part is, if you lose power (like a good chunk of us on the East coast are going to), and you have a gas stove? Bingo. You can mix and match ingredients you already have, while killing time waiting for the power to come back on.

I read somewhere that it's illegal (or was it impossible?) to say no to a rice krispy treat. And in fact, it was the first treat that I brought in to work that both my boss AND only co-worker got really excited about, and decided to ignore their diets for. So if it can please them, your coworkers/friends/kid's teachers will love them too!

All you need now are treat bags, ribbon, and if you're trying to promote your blog, fancy tags 🙂

*side note: I am typing this like a banshee, praying I can get this posted before the wind knocks my power out. We aren't even that far east, but my town loves blackouts like Joanie loves Chachie. So to all of my East coasters, stay safe, batten down the hatches, and ride it out. See you on the other side!