Sunday, December 30, 2012

It won't be long before we'll all be there with.....


Snow!!! We got about 8 inches of snow overnight. Miss Bailey has been very excited to run and leap around. She definitely loves it!

My mother-in-law and I had a chance to attend a brunch class at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI. We learned about making a number of brunch dishes and cocktails. The cocktail today seems to be very appropriate. Enjoy!

The Snow Day Martini
from the Ocean House

1 oz Ketel One Vodka
1 oz White Creme de Cacao
1 oz Creme
1/4 oz Grenadine
1 mint leaf

Add all ingredients except grenadine to shaker with ice. Shake, strain into martini glass. Add grenadine at the end and garnish with mint leaf.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

In the Face of Joy

Why does the world only open its eyes when a tragedy occurs? Why does it take so much heartache, pain, anger, disappointment, and loss for something to change? I've been thinking a lot about the fact that all too often change occurs in the face of tragedy. When will change occur in the face of joy? I see my students walking in the halls, phased by very little other than the latest twitter or facebook post. They don't necessarily see that the world is right outside the school walls and what that means. People are always in need of kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness. We teach students to donate during the holidays, send condolences in times of loss or grief, to cheer before a big game, to compete for who can raise the most money for charity. Those are all well and good, but when do we teach them that kindness should be an everyday thing? Is it not our responsibility? Then who, parents? Yes, I suppose parents should teach this, although there are still some adults who do not practice this. I'm not saying that you need to give away money or gifts, or even donate time. I'm simply saying that if you see something that can be changed do it before you are forced by the face of tragedy.

It is difficult to not think about the little children and teachers/school professionals from Newtown who will not be celebrating Christmas with their loved ones. I can't help but hope that all the angels get their wings this Christmas.
The cookie today was made as part of a cookie exchange party with my family. We had many different types of cookies (see at right). These cookies are in the second row from bottom, enter.
Pistachio Cranberry Orange Icebox Cookies
adapted from Gourmet December 2006
Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
 finely grated fresh orange zest from a whole orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 
1/2 cup shelled  and chopped pistachios (not dyed red)
1/3 cup dried and chopped cranberries  
1/4 cup turbinado sugar 

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter, granulated sugar, zest, and orange juice in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.

Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Slice and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle turbinado sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.
(*Shout out to my hand model Audrey*)

Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.) Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.

Merry Christmas! PS: My father-in-law is home!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home for Christmas

When someone you love finds themselves in a vulnerable situation you want to help. What do you do when you can't?

My father-in-law was admitted to the hospital last week. He complained of weakness in his legs and little to no feeling in his hands. It was awhile before we got any answers, or any indication of answers. He ended up having surgery on his spine to correct a bulging disk. Everyone we spoke with assured us it would be a quick recovery.

Unfortunately, it only got worse after the surgery. He became a completely different person on the drugs they put him on. It was a moment when we all felt so helpless. My mother-in-law was able to get him new doctors, who offered hope. They originally scheduled another surgery on his spine to correct bone spurs, but cancelled it until a later date. They had him doing physical therapy and we got photos of him walking sent to us at work.

After two weeks of holding our breath he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility yesterday. He was admitted and they immediately had him working on walking up and down the stairs! His goal is to be home for Christmas, a goal we all hope he meets.
Marbled Molasses Loaf Cake
adapted from Baking and Books
Oven 350
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Generously grease a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat to combine the ingredients well.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until the mixture is light, fluffy and smooth. 1 to 2 minutes. Stop several times to scrape down the bowl.
Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately starting and ending with the flour, beating at low speed after each addition.

Scoop out about half of the batter into a medium bowl, and add the molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Stir with a wooden spoon mix everything into the batter well.

Add both batters to the pan, thin layers at a time, alternating between the plain and spiced batters. Run a knife through the batter to swirl the batters together.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

**I gave this away as a gift, so I couldn't cut it. However, it is a beautiful marbled loaf inside!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Anyone Out There?

It's become more and more difficult to get my posts completed for Sunday. Although, I'm not entirely sure anyone besides me has noticed....anyone out there? I have been frantically working on the first half of my thesis. It's due in a couple of weeks...I think I can, I think I can.

I can not wait to be done with taking classes and writing papers. It's almost June, right? I'm all for being a lifelong learner, but does it have to involve papers every week?

This week I made a special birthday dessert for my dad. He requested Devil's food and cream. We had a large Italian dinner with family and then enjoyed the dessert for this week. I have to say these were beautiful cupcakes and probably the best ones I've made so far!
(If you are reading this, hello!)

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
adapted from
Oven 355
Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 cup good quality dark chocolate, melted
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 stick 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar

Cream Filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla pod or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar

Chocolate Buttercream
2 sticks 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
6 cups confectioners sugar

For cupcakes:
Mix together melted chocolate, buttermilk, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to thoroughly mix between each one. Set aside.

Sift together the flour and the baking soda. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the chocolate mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until the texture of barely whipped cream.

Fill cupcake liners 1/3 of the way with batter (I used a large cookie scoop for each).

Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

For the cream filling: Beat the cream with the vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form.

Fill a piping bag with the cream, push the tip right to the bottom of the cupcake and slowly fill the cupcake while pulling upward.

For the chocolate buttercream:
Mix the melted chocolate  together with the cocoa powder and milk till it forms a smooth paste.

Beat the butter till light and fluffy, then add the chocolate paste and 2 cups of icing sugar and beat at high speed till it is well mixed in and fluffy again.

Add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, and make sure that you beat the icing at high speed for 5 minutes after each addition. Fill a piping bag with buttercream and frost cupcakes as desired.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday?

My grandmother and I decided to press our luck and go shopping on Black Friday. Technically, she decided that's what we were doing, but I gladly went along. We decided to go to only a few stores and not start until 11am. We had a wonderful time, with almost no signs of it being a crazy shopping day. We ended up not really buying much of anything. However, it was so much fun spending time together. We even got to have a quiet, calm lunch at the Octagon. They offer a great and reasonable lunch menu. So happy to have been able to have this time with her!

Deep Dish Cranberry Apple Pie
adapted from

2 prepared pie crusts
6 Gala or Honey crisp Apples
102ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons (1/2 of a stick) of butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the rack in the lower third.Peel, core and slice the apples. In a large bowl, combine the apples, cranberries, brown sugar, maple syrup, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and lemon juice. Place the filling inside the prepared pie shell. Sprinkle top with sliced butter. Place other pie crust on top, making sure to vent. Bake 35 minutes. Then cover pie with foil, reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 45-60 minutes (or until apples are tender). Let cool 2-3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


You may have noticed that I took a break this weekend. I did not bake anything new and I did not get the blog posted in time. However, I have a really good reason. My husband got a job!!!!! It's been about six months of waiting, praying, stressing, interviewing, and banding together. We made it through and now know that we can handle and survive more than we think. It seems fitting that we get this good news right before Thanksgiving. We are full of thanks for so much! Our family, friends, home, puppy, jobs, and health. I hope you all have a Happy and Joyful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I recently taught a class about Universal Product Codes (UPCs), also known as bar codes. The class learned about what the numbers of the bar code stand for and how to find out if a number was wrong. We even started talking about our own UPCs....our Social Security numbers, and what those numbers mean. The QR code (those squares that appear on everything now) were also a topic of conversation. I had learned about most of the codes in my Number Theory classes but I didn't know that the UPC was invented by IBM....or how they convinced supermarkets to use the bar code we use today.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Blondies
adapted from

Oven 350
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Melt butter in the microwave and stir into a large bowl with brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla to the sugar mixture.

Once mixed well, stir in half of the flour mixture at a time. Fold chocolate chips into batter.

Pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on rack before cutting.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's been a long week without power. We lost power Monday afternoon and it finally returned late Friday night. Luckily, we had many friends and family members with power, hot water, and hot coffee! We finally broke down and borrowed my parents' generator Friday night, only to have power restored a few hours later! This week's baked good is a nod to our blackout week.

(our neighbor's tree that fell down)

Makes 12 mini bundt cakes
Oven 375

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup dark chocolate bark, chopped

Espresso Glaze
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup dark chocolate bark, chopped
2 tablespoons warm water

In a mixing bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Slowly add liquid mixture to flour mixture. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes and add hot water. Mix for an additional minute.

Pour batter into mini-bundt pans (previously greased well). Sprinkle dark chocolate onto each. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pans.

While cakes are cooling, mix espresso and warm water in a small bowl until espresso is dissolved.

Mix in powdered sugar.

Drizzle over cooled cakes and sprinkle with dark chocolate pieces.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


We've been preparing for Hurricane Sandy! It's pretty calm outside now, but the weatherman says to prepare for quite a storm. Schools have already been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday (no complaints here)! Hope everyone stays safe!

I've been enjoying Taylor Swift's new songs. I especially like this video (mainly because it takes place in Paris)! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
adapted from
Oven 350

2 2/3 cups flour
3 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs

Combine first 8 ingredients, up to and including salt. Set aside. Combine pumpkin, sugars, and oil in mixing bowl. Mix until incorporated.

With mixer on low, add in eggs, one at a time. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

Fill cupcake tins (already lined with cupcake liners) with batter.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.

Top with your favorite frosting and even a drizzle of caramel. Or leave plain, they taste just as good!

Makes 8 dozen mini cupcakes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Rest

As the month of October flies by, it's important to take time to enjoy the autumn. The baked good this week is perfect to serve with tea, cocoa, or coffee and enjoy a minute of rest.

English Muffin Breadadapted from One Good Thing by Jillee
makes 2 loaves
Oven 350

2 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 pkgs rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
5 1/2 cups flour (all purpose, whole wheat, etc)
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Mix together all the ingredients (by hand or in mixer).

Divide mixture between two well greased loaf pans that have been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Let rise in pans, 30-60 minutes, or until dough reaches the top pf the pans. Bake for 35 minutes. Brush loaves with melted butter. Bake additional 10 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Best when toasted.