Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Brown Sugar

Have you ever decided to bake and got the whole process started and realized you are missing brown sugar? It happens to me all the time. Luckily there is a solution:

1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
Just place the two ingredients in a bowl and mix really well with a fork. It will be clumpy at first but if you continue to mix and fluff it will eventually resemble store-bought brown sugar.
Cool note: In the process of refining sugarcane there are two products produced, white granulated sugar and molasses. Commercially produced brown sugar simply puts the two back together; less molasses for light brown sugar and more for dark brown sugar.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


For Gabby's birthday brunch my mom and I made two different types of frittatas; Potato Basil and Sundried Tomato and Artichoke. I did a crazy thing and had never made the recipes before the day of the party. Luckily they both turned out great! The Potato Basil we had had at my friend Holly's. It contains some flour and baking soda so is almost a frittata-quiche hybrid. The Sundried Tomato and Artichoke is a straight out frittata. Both taste awesome!
One interesting thing to note, we baked the frittatas in both metal and glass pans. The ones in the glass pans browned and crusted better than those in the metal pans.
Potato Basil Frittata
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
2 c. peeled and 1/2-inch diced boiling potatoes (4 potatoes)
8 extra-large eggs
15 oz. ricotta cheese
3/4 lb. Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, about 10 to 15 minutes. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small dish in the microwave.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil. Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 50 minutes to 1 hour. It will be rounded and firm in the middle and a knife inserted in the frittata should come out clean.
Sundried Tomato and Artichoke Frittata
18 eggs
1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jar of sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 15 oz. jars of artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1/2 c. Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2  c. crumbled feta cheese
In a large bowl, whisk the 18 eggs together.
In a medium pan, saute the onion in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the onions and garlic to the eggs. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. Add the parsley and salt and pepper. Stir in the feta cheese.
Pour the egg mixture into a 9 by 13 glass Pyrex dish that has been coated with cooking spray. If you want, you can add extra cheese to the top of the egg mixture once it is in the pan. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
Let the egg casserole cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into squares and serve.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Bubbles

We made bubbles for Gabby's birthday party. Bubbles are easy... dish soap and water.

If, however, you want giant bubbles that don't pop easily there is a recipe:

6 c. water
1 c. Dawn dish soap
1 T. glycerin (first aid section of most pharmacies)

There is actually a science to this. Check out this article, it's pretty interesting!

And I would be remiss if I didn't say this... Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Perfect Presents

This is a picture of Nate from a year ago with his "rock star guitar". My mom got it for him. He loves it to this day. She has a knack of getting the kids, me and well everyone the perfect present. Whatever she gets inevitably becomes a favorite. Her birthday is coming up in a couple of days and I'm struggling to get her a gift. She has clothes. She has nearly every kitchen gadget out there. It's the age old question of what to buy someone who has everything. Any suggestions?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Raspberry Topped Lemon Muffins

Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins photo

These little morsels are shockingly good. Tart from the whole raspberry you put on top but sweet enough that you want to pop one after another! My mom and I made these for Gabby's birthday party. My sister shared the recipe with me a few years back and it's one I pull out each raspberry season.

The only downside to this recipe is that it requires buttermilk. I never have it on hand. Luckily, I blogged about a quick fix last week!

Raspberry Topped Lemon Muffins


1 1/8 c. sugar, divided
4 t. finely grated lemon peel (from 2 large lemons)
2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 c. buttermilk
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 pints fresh raspberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with paper liners. Mash 1/8 cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl until sugar is slightly moist. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg. Beat in buttermilk, then vanilla and lemon sugar. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter among muffin cups until 2/3 to 3/4 full. Top each muffin with a raspberry. Bake muffins until lightly browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, just under 20 minutes.

Note: You can make 14 standard muffins. Place 4 raspberries atop each large muffin and bake for 36 minutes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Wreath

I've become a huge fan of Pinterest. While the rest of the world is, I'm sure, onto the newest latest and greatest fad, I've just recently joined Pinterest. There are so many fun ideas and it is great for the do-it-yourself crowd. I've been wanting to make a wreath for sometime and when I came across this cocktail umbrella wreath, I knew I had to make it.

The materials are simple: a swimming pool noodle, a box of cocktail parasols, duct tape and some ribbon to hang the wreath.

Start by bending the pool noodle into a circle.

Duct tape the ends together, go crazy with the amount of duct tape you use. The little bit shown in this picture wasn't enough to hold the pool noodle together. After about a day the noodle split and I ended up with a horseshoe. I had to pull apart the top and REALLY duct tape it shut. So learn from my mistakes and use much more duct tape than you think you will need the first time around. Remember gravity is working against us!

Loop some ribbon around the noodle. This ribbon will be used to hang the wreath so make sure it is more color-coordinated than the ribbon I used (didn't fully think that part through).

Start poking the cocktail umbrellas through the noodle like your performing acupuncture on the poor thing.

Depending on the angle you insert the umbrellas, you may need to trip the toothpick end a bit so they don't poke through the back of the wreath.
Don't be stingy with the umbrellas. The fuller the wreath the nicer it looks. The best part about this wreath was the cost: $4.19; $3.69 for the umbrellas and 50 cents for the pool noodle!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Serving Ice Cream

Serving cake and ice cream for a large party can be stressful. Scooping ice cream takes time and you want to get your guests cake and ice cream before the ice cream melts.

Our friend Aaron taught me a trick a few years ago that saves time and relieves some stress. Instead of scooping ice cream "a la minute" scoop it in advance. Simply take foil lined baking cups line a baking sheet, put a scoop of ice cream into it, repeat until the tray is full, cover and freeze.

When it is time to serve dessert, simply grab a baking cup of ice cream and set beside the cake.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Party Details

Gabby's 2nd birthday party was a fun affair. The sun was out and everyone was ready to party. We made a tub full of bubbles... (how to will be posted later in the week)

A fun cocktail umbrella wreath that screams party time... (how to will be posted later in the week)

Sugar cookies...

Brunch with banana bread, pumpkin bread, blueberry coffee cake, sugar free applesauce...
A potato and basil frittata and a sundried tomato and artichoke frittata (recipes will be posted later in the week).
I'm not sure if she understood that the party was in her honor but she seemed to love every minute!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Gabriella!


Today is our little Gabster's birthday. She is a Terrible Two! We've actually felt some terrible-ness today...she is an exhausted grump. Hopefully she is still recovering from our busy weekend and this isn't a start of a new and challenging phase!

It's hard to believe she is already two. We packed up the crib last night and she is now in a big girl bed. It was emotional moving on to this next phase but also exciting watching her quirky personality begin to show!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Buttermilk

Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins photo

I don't know anyone that regularly keeps buttermilk in their fridge. I often will decide to bake and realize that buttermilk is the one ingredient I am missing....frustrating. There is a quick cheater method to making buttermilk that will get you by:

1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1 cup of milk

Let the milk curdle for about 10 minutes and use as your recipe specifies.

I still do buy buttermilk if I know in advance what I am going to be making. It may all be in my imagination but I feel like the recipe turns out better with actual buttermilk.

I made the above muffins for Gabby's 2nd birthday. I remembered the buttermilk. I'll post this recipe and details of the party later in the week.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! We're celebrating the birth of our nation with the traditional small town parade, a BBQ, fireworks and this Jell-O recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker blog.

First make the Jell-O. I chose to do two colors but you can do four! Simply add 1 c. of boiling water to each 3 oz. box. Refrigerate until solid.

Next, make your gelatin bloom.

Mix in the condensed milk.

Take the colored Jell-Os and cut into squares. Toss into a 9x13 pan and mix.

Pour the condensed milk mixture on top and level out. Refrigerate until solid. Take a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and enjoy!

Stained Glass Jello
4 boxes (3-ounces each) Jello (or store brand gelatin dessert) in different colors
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (Knox)
For each flavor, dissolve one box of Jello in 1 cup of boiling water. Pour into a square container that is about 6 to 8″ square and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight. (Try to use the same size for all four so that the blocks will come out the same. In this case the smaller the better – I used 8″ pans and felt my “blocks” were a little too flat.)
After chilling the flavors, cut them into small blocks.
Carefully mix the blocks in a 9×13-inch pan.
In a separate bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin into ½ cup cold water. After the gelatin blooms, add 1½ cups boiling water and dissolve. Add the can of condensed milk. Stir and let cool. Pour cooled milk mixture over Jello blocks in 9×13 pan. Skim off any small bubbles that are created when you pour the condensed milk on the Jello pieces. Chill overnight or at least 3 hours until firm.
Cut into blocks or shapes and serve.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Dish Detergent

Have you ever tried to run a load of dishes in your dishwasher only to find that you ran out of dish detergent? That happened to me this weekend. Luckily there is a homemade fix:

Put 3-4 drops of Dawn dish soap into your dishwasher. Don't do more than 3-4 drops as you might end up with a sudsy mess!

On top of that fill the detergent holder with baking soda and run as you normally would. Your dishes will come out sparkly and clean. I'm not sure I would do this on a regular basis but in a pinch it works great!