Friday, June 29, 2012

Getting Away


We're heading out tomorrow morning for vacation!  This week was insane at work and I am SO ready to get away! We're looking forward to just being - soaking up some sun and getting to enjoy being together without the busyness of life.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and 4th of July - see you next week!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been wanting to make the famous Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies for a while now, and they did not disappoint!  These are cookies for serious chocolate chip cookie lovers.  They are loaded with chocolate, they are super moist and chewy, and they are probably the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.  They aren't hard to make, you just need patience as the dough sits in the refrigerator for a couple of days so all of the flavors can meld.  As long as you use the dough within 72 hours, you can make several batches of cookies, which I really liked because, as everyone knows, cookies fresh out of the oven are the best.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate, at least 60% cacao content
sea salt, for sprinkling

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla.  Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5-10 seconds.  Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.  Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.  Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Scoop mounds of dough (slightly smaller than golf balls) onto baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15-18 minutes.  Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another wire rack to cool a bit more.  Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated with plastic wrap against dough, for baking remaining batches the next day.

source:  The New York Times

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Weekend

This past weekend my parents came to visit.  We had such a good time!  We loved having my parents in our new home enjoying it with us, especially our dinners out back on the porch.  We also went to the farmer's market, played tennis, went shopping, met my aunt and uncle for brunch in a cute French café, and just enjoyed talking and catching up.  We really enjoy having people in our home and are excited to have the room to be able to do it more!

{dinner Friday night}

{Saturday morning farmer's market}

{fresh flowers}

{tennis Saturday evening}

{fresh peaches from the farmer's market}

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Easy Summer Dessert: Fruit Pizza

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the bloggers who always seem to make the lives look perfect.  You know what I mean? Pink peonies on the bedside table, a hair never astray, a fresh pedicure at all times? Let me tell you that real life around here does not look like that.  Real life around here is me falling down the steps on Tuesday.  Not my prettiest moment. And how does that even happen?!  Real life around here is leaving work every night this week feeling like I've accomplished nothing.  Real life is a spinach smoothie for breakfast....and a triple chocolate chunk muffin. Real life is us going on vacation in a week without hotel reservations yet (eeps!).  And to top it off, I totally used store-bought cookie dough for this fruit pizza.  This is real life, folks.

Fruit Pizza
16-18 oz package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
8 oz cream cheese, softened
7-8 oz jar of marshmallow creme
fresh fruit

Pat cookie dough onto an ungreased pizza pan or cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and done.

Mix together softened cream cheese and marshmallow creme until well blended.  Spread onto cooled cookie crust. Arrange fruit on top.  Cover with plastic wrap or store in airtight container and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Wedding Moment

Yesterday I was thinking about Father's Day and then I was remembering my favorite moment with my dad on my wedding day. After I was in my dress and before we took pictures, I met up with my dad so he could see me for the first time in my wedding dress.  It was such a special moment:  his seeing his littlest girl in her wedding dress about to get married, and my suddenly feeling like a little girl hoping my daddy would like my new dress.  It was wonderful to have a few moments with my parents before the wedding, especially before my dad walked me down the aisle to give me away.  I love having these pictures of that special moment!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pepperoni Bread

Have you ever had pepperoni rolls?  When I was in college, my mom would make them and send them back to school with me.  I would eat them for days:  it was a touch of homemade food in my life and they were delicious.  Well this pepperoni bread is like one giant pepperoni roll.  I think it's easier to make than dozens of the smaller version, and it tastes just as good.  Have a great weekend!

Pepperoni Bread
12 frozen bread dough balls 
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
4 oz sliced pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Spray counter lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine dough balls and roll/pat into a 12x18-inch rectangle. Combine butter with seasonings.  Brush mixture on dough, reserving a small amount to brush on top later.  Arrange pepperoni on top of seasoning mixture and sprinkle with cheese.  Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly roll style. Tuck ends under and place, seam side down, on a large sprayed baking sheet.

Brush with reserved seasoning mixture.  Using a sharp serrated knife, cut several vents in the top.  Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.  Remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

source:  Rhodes Home Baked Family Favorites

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pretty Mantels

I haven't made too much progress as far as decorating our home, which means the mantel in our family room is still bare. I'm having a hard time deciding what I want to put on it, and how simple or decorated I want it to be.  Naturally I've turned to blogs and Pinterest for inspiration.  Here are a few pretty mantels that have caught my eye.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Do You Do For Fun?


The chapter I'm reading this month from The Happiness Project is all about play and having fun.  So for the June goals in my own happiness project, I started thinking about what I like to do for fun.  I realized that there are several (and probably even more) types of fun.

1) Some things are fun for what you get out of it.  Like reading the classics.  Personally, I did not actually enjoy reading Anna Karenina.  But I like knowing that I have read it, which makes it fun now.  So that's not exactly pure fun; it's more of a fun-because-it's-done kind of fun.

2) Other things are fun as a whole, but may include certain steps that aren't fun.  I love having a blog and that is something that is definitely fun for me.  But when I'm struggling with good lighting and can't get the exact shot I want, it's frustrating in that moment, instead of fun.  

3) And then there's just pure, easy fun.  And that is the kind of fun that I want to focus on this month.  Things that I want to do just because I want to do them; not because they are beneficial or I feel obligated to do them for any reason.

When I was trying to figure out what things I enjoy purely because they are relaxing or fun, I kept coming back to this quote from The Happiness Project: "What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you'd enjoy now."  So I thought about that, and I came up with a pretty short list of things I liked doing when I was 10:  reading, coloring, cutting pretty things out of magazines, and baking chocolate chip cookies.

And that is how I came up with my "goals" for June:

1. Read books for fun.  I have a stack of books that I know I should read, but this month I'm setting those aside for just fun books.

2. Color.  I've always found coloring a wonderful stress-reliever, and I think it's because it produces nothing and benefits no one - it's just fun and relaxing.  So I want to bust out my old coloring books and crayons.

3. Get back on Pinterest.  I haven't been on Pinterest much lately, but I really do enjoy finding pretty things and filing away fun ideas that I find.

4. Try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  When I was 10 my best friends and I would make chocolate chip cookies all the time.  It's refreshing sometimes to make something as simple and basic as chocolate chip cookies.

So what do you do for fun?  What did you do for fun when you were a ten-year-old?


Monday, June 11, 2012

Raspberry Financiers

I had never made little financiers before, but with browned butter and fresh berries, can you really go wrong?  Happy Monday!

Raspberry Financiers
1/2 cup + 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar; additional for dusting
5 large egg whites
2 Tbsp honey
2 cups fresh raspberries, halved

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until browned bits begin to form.  Continue to simmer, frequently scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan, until fragrant and dark brown, but not burnt, 6-7 minutes. Scrape butter and all browned bits into a medium bowl.  Let cool for 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, process almonds and flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground.  Transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar.  Add egg whites; mix until smooth.  Fold in honey.  Fold brown butter into batter.

Arrange a rack in middle of oven; heat to 375 degrees.  Coat a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour 1 generous Tbsp batter into each prepared mini muffin cup.  Top with 3-4 raspberry halves.

Bake until cakes are golden brown and just cooked through, 15-16 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove cakes from pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

source:  recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Things, Lately

surprise flowers from my husband

catching up on magazines

the first corn on the cob of the summer

my new favorite bracelet - my sister got it for me in Tanzania!

home decorating+keeping books I can't wait to read

bringing the green MG home

my yellow summer purse

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stress Relieving Tip

Here's a secret:  when my neck is tight with tension or stress, I massage in this Peace of Mind and it's instantly soothing.  It has a peppermint-y smell, which is relaxing, and it even tingles a little when first rubbed in.  It's small enough that I can carry it in my purse when we travel, and I usually keep it on my nightstand to use at night before bed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Read: The Dressmaker

Just finished reading The Dressmaker.  It was so good!  I hadn't really read anything since finishing The Hunger Games trilogy last month, so it was nice to enjoy reading again!  I didn't realize this until after I finished the book, but the story is based on the transcripts from the hearings after the sinking of the Titanic.  Finding out bits and pieces of a story are true always makes them better in my mind.  The book starts with the Titanic sinking, but then continues with the lives of several of the survivors - their stories and their connections with each other.  Much of the book also involves the hearings that happened in New York and D.C.  I was unaware of that part of the Titanic story, so I really found that aspect of the book fascinating.  If you're looking for a fun and easy read, this is a good one!

What have you most recently read?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blueberry-Poppy Seed Bread

I love lemon-poppy seed muffins and bread, but Caleb doesn't get into lemon-flavored things much.  When I saw this recipe for blueberry-poppy seed bread, I thought it would be a perfect compromise for us!  I'm so excited that it's berry season - baking with fresh berries is one of my favorite things!  

Blueberry-Poppy Seed Bread
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
2 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 5 mini loaf pans (about 5 x 3") with nonstick cooking spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Beat the milk, vegetable oil, eggs, poppy seeds, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until combined.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well combined.  Fold the blueberries into the batter with a spatula.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake until golden on top and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a rack and let cool about 10 minutes, then remove the loaves to the rack to cool completely.  

source: recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, May 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Donut Day!

It's National Donut Day!  Today Dunkin Donuts is giving away a donut with a purchase of any beverage. And even better, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free donut per person - no purchase necessary!  A fresh glazed donut (yum!) is one of my guilty pleasures so I will definitely be stopping by for a donut on the way to work :)  Happy Friday - and happy June!

(image via)