Bake It Off

It’s already hard enough to resist singing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and then this happens…Bakers gonna bake.

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Recent Favorites

Whew, what a wonderful whirlwind this summer has been. Vacation, celebratory showers, birthdays–so many reasons to bake! Here are a few of my recent favorites.

Recent Favorites

The Spicy Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies win my top vote, I think they may be the greatest cookie ever.

The Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars were for Father’s Day, and while not my personal favorite, they received great reviews and were really easy. When in doubt, Betty Crocker always comes through.

Need a fancy treat? I made these Black Raspberry Brie Bites for a baby shower  – cute and so delicious!

Breakfast is always hard for me, I get burnt out easily. I’ve made these Spinach Muffins a few times, although recently I’ve turned in to one of those green smoothie drinkers. (Something I never thought would happen.)

Those are all my baking highlights and this past weekend I was able to do a little recipe testing of my own and will have an exciting treat to share soon. Hint: It involves blueberries!

Hello, Summer

Aren’t we all in disbelief that it is now June? Seriously, how did that happen? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s summer and ready for all that it brings: cookouts, cute dresses, weddings, vacation, flowers and vegetables from my garden.

This month my kitchen chalkboard has some wisdom from Queen Tina Fey. There are so many great things to do this time of year, I’m just going to say yes as often as possible.

Wisdom from Tina Fey

With the warmer temps, baking gets harder as I’m less inclined to turn on the oven. Sunday I was all set to make cookies but the AC went bust. I went ahead and made the dough and refrigerated it. Thankfully I was able to borrow a friend’s kitchen Monday night to try out a new recipe, Chocolate Raspberry cookies!

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

We tried out a few different baking times and 12 minutes seemed to be the perfect amount of time, but I still want to do some tweaking. They are a little chewier than I prefer my cookies, but I decided they are perfect for ice cream sandwiches…and I just so happened to have some Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp in my freezer!

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When life gives you chewy cookies and broken AC…make ice cream sandwiches!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

My Winter Survival Guide

I think it’s safe to say that most of us are asking, “Is winter over yet?” Oy vey. At one time I liked winter, but this year has been an entire new level—frozen pipes, frosty indoor windows, busted tailbones—enough already! It’s easy to fall into a bout of Cabin Fever. Here’s what is currently keeping me sane.

Trying new recipes. To accompany my tried and true Croque Monsieur, a Kale Salad from What’s Gaby Cooking (one of my favorite sites). This weekend I made this delicious Mexican Quinoa Casserole. I think both will become staples in my kitchen.

Wool pants from Banana Republic. A winter wardrobe must if you ask me. These were especially nice when the heat wasn’t working in my office last week!

Hot tea. My personal favorite is the Safari tea from Zen-Cha Tea Salon. It’s addictive!

The West Wing. My current binge show, now when I watch the news I can’t help but wonder WWPBD? (What Would President Bartlet Do?)

Planning fun times for spring. I start to get anxious when I don’t have travel plans, so I’m looking at a spring break trip to L.A. and a birthday trip for the summer.

Treats. When in doubt, a good treat will always help. Last week I had this amazing cherry and chocolate macaron from The Angry Baker, one of my favorite spots in Columbus.

 Macaron from The Angry Baker

How are you surviving the winter?

Hello, December

Am I the only one who can’t quite believe we’re in the last month of the year? Whew, 2013–you were a fast one. I survived enjoyed Thanksgiving and thanks to The Kitchn I think I made my best pumpkin pies ever. File these tips away for next year.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, how cute are these little guys? They were for a lucky preschool class and involved heating, rolling out and cutting Starbursts to make the feathers.

Thanksgiving

Now, moving on to December. I just made cranberry, dark chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies for my first cookie exchange of the season and will share the recipe soon.

I’m looking forward to catching up with good friends, eating lots of delicious food and wearing outfits that sparkle. What are you looking forward to this month?

To help you get festive, watch Jimmy Fallon and Rashida Jones sing about the holidays.

Sprinkles

Friends, let me tell you about my trip to heaven. I found it in the form of a cupcake shop in LA. You may have heard of Sprinkles, they’re famous for the Cupcake ATM and being the world’s first cupcake bakery.

Cupcake ATM
In my opinion, they make the most divine cupcakes on this planet. Many of their flavors are basic but they do them so well, there’s no competition. They also think outside the box with flavors like ginger lemon and chai latte. Heading to this flagship bakery was on the top of my list for my trip and I’ll be daydreaming of it for weeks. They recently added ice cream to the mix so I had a cupcake sandwich. Yeah. Dark chocolate cupcake and vanilla cherry ice cream. My world was rocked. If you find yourself near a Sprinkles cupcake, do yourself and favor and indulge. You won’t regret it.

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Summer Kitchen Tunes

In my opinion, nothing takes the stress away like a little baking and dancing to some great tunes. I put together a playlist of what I’ve been stirring and jamming along to recently. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Summer Kitchen Playlist

summerkitchentunes copy

Highlights

Closer, Tegan & Sara: I have to admit, I was never a huge fan of this duo but I really like their latest album. Closer is just a perfect belt it and stomp it out song.

Royals, Lorde: Oh my goodness. Obsessed. This girl isn’t even 18 yet and she’s already creating a ton of buzz after the release of her EP. Her debut album is set to drop in September. This song is sassy and I absolutely love it.

If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t on the Dance Floor], Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: Hate the name, love the band. Check out the video for this one. I’m pretty sure this song requires some spin moves.

Earthquake Weather, Matt Nathanson: One of my favorite human beings just released his latest album on July 16 (just in time for my birthday). Every single song is fantastic. It’s like a love letter to San Francisco. When my favorite song is constantly changing I know it’s an amazing record.

Call Me Maybe (Cover), Us: I love a good pop song, and you guys, Call Me Maybe is a great pop song. I won’t deny it but this version makes me feel a bit cooler.

What have you been listening to lately? Do you have a genre you like to listen to while you’re in the kitchen?

So Long, Winter

I think it’s almost safe to say so long to winter here in Ohio. Almost–it’s currently snowing. I actually like the cold weather and snow, but I’m happy to welcome the sun back to my life. The season did result in a lot of baking. My favorites were the Oreo Truffles and a new spin on Peanut Butter Blossoms. I finally tried a lava dessert for the first time and while it wasn’t bad, there’s definitely room for improvement.

Kitchen chalkboardHeart blossoms

Easy Baking: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Here’s an easy baking secret of mine: Betty Crocker. I love Peanut Butter cookies and I have yet to find a recipe that’s as moist as the Betty Crocker mix. When it comes to making my beloved PB blossoms it’s easy and thanks to Pinterest, I made them with Dove dark chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day.

Aside from baking I spent the winter doing a lot of cooking. For several reasons I’ve been working to become a five day vegetarian. I’ve tried some fantastic new recipes and have enjoyed eating healthier.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Avocado Pita Pizza with Cilantro Sauce from Two Peas and Their Pod
Creamy Avocado Pizza from Two Peas and Their Pod (I add goat cheese to mine)
Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas from the Kitchn

Spring is my favorite season for sweets, so it’s a good thing I’m eating so many veggies. Easter candy is the best. Reese eggs, Cadbury eggs–Yum! My absolute favorite are the Hershey Candy Eggs. I may stockpile these. And of course, I can’t forget Girl Scout Cookies! When I bite into that first Thin Mint it’s hard to believe I go most of the year without them!

What are looking forward to most about spring? 

On another note, if you have a few minutes, please vote for me in the TOMS Ticket to Give contest. This is the amazing opportunity to go on a Giving Trip!