Monday, March 24, 2008

Hey There Chickadee!

Spring has definitely sprung here in the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico)! My tree is full of light pink flowers, the birds are chirping, and the sunshine is actually warm. I can't tell you how much a relief it is to start having warm weather. I was actually able to drive in my car yesterday with the windows down, music blaring and my arm hanging out the window. And boy oh boy there's nothing like having the warm radiance from above gently heat your skin.

So to celebrate the spring season, as well as Easter Sunday, I made some little chick cupcakes. I was actually browsing around Martha Stewart's website and came across the recipe for these little cuties. The second I saw them I just got the biggest smile and knew that I couldn't turn down the opportunity to spread the smiles, which I was overwhelmed with when I took them over to my parents house. My mom about died when she got the first glimpse at them.

I almost felt a little guilty biting into the head of these little baby chicks, but the second my taste buds registered the toasted coconut, the feeling of regret quickly passed. My yellow cake was so moist and was complimented well by the vanilla buttercream, and the crispness of the coconut. I couldn't find black licorice ropes (nor do I care for black licorice) so I used some left over brownies and rolled little pieces of them into balls for the eyes.

Hope Spring is on the way for you and that the little chicks remind you that warmer days are on their way :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Luck of the Irish

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick's Day! Seeing as how St. Patrick's Day was on a weekday it took me few days to get to the post...

I grew up in a family that goes all out for every, and I do mean every holiday. My mom (although I call her a dork now...secretly wanting to be her when I grow up) is a holiday fanatic. So it's no surprise that she has green coming out the wazoo on St. Patrick's Day. She loves her little leprechaun earrings and buying us St. Patty's Day underwear, she has a shamrock headband and even green socks, but there was one day that she took the addition of green to our life way too far.

I was in middle school and was coming downstairs ready to make a nice bowl of Lucky Charms, watch some Saved By the Bell and prepare for a long day of education. "Cling-Cling" the geometric shapes and colorful marshmallows filled my bowl. I open the refrigerator to grab the milk and about died. My "creative" mom had put green food coloring in the entire gallon of milk! All I kept thinking was mold, mold, moldy milk! Needless to say I did not have Lucky Charms that day or the next, and that milk probably sat in the fridge for four days without being used, until my dad, sick of starring at the disgusting chug, threw it away.

That is one of my "fondest" memories of St. Patrick's Day, one I'll never forget and never do to my kids (when I have them). And while I may not have green milk, I will have green cake. My vanilla cake got a few Irish kicks to it thanks to some Baileys and green food coloring. I also added a little mint flavoring and some chopped up Andes mints, with of course and overloaded amount of chocolate buttercream...mmm!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

It's the beloved 3.14! When I was younger this was probably one of my favorite days to go to school, I always looked at the month of March in hopes that the 14th feel on a school day. Now you're probably wondering why on Earth any child would want to go to school.

Well, the answer is Pi Day at school was simply that, it was Pie Day. My school would dedicate the entire day to everything pie, and much do I love pie! We would have pie walks and pie eating contests, pie tosses and pies in your face. It was simply heaven! And even though I was an undercover math geek March 14th was the one day I didn't have to be embarrassed to proclaim my love of math...because everyone else as doing it to. But after the 14th my admiration for math was again tucked away for another year.

It always amazes me the traditions one carries on, especially if they were ingrained in you from a young age. So when I began talking about Pi Day two nights ago with my boyfriend, contemplating what kind of pie to make for this glorious day I was shocked when he asked the dreaded question, "What is Pi?". My mouth almost hit the floor, I went on to explain to him my middle school memories only to get the "blank face" response. He had no clue as to what I was talking about, and here I am at 23 years old still believing that everyone celebrates Pi Day. My heart was absolutely broken.

To make me feel better (and to spread the word about Pi Day), this post is dedicated to all of you out there who never had the chance to experience all the great things Pi Day has to offer. March 14th should be filled with meringues and fruits, chocolates and creams, double crusted and crumbs, piping hot and frozen pies of all kinds! As an offering to anyones first Pi Day, I give to you Raspberry-Peach Crumb Topped Pie! Happy Pi Day bloggers!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pushing Up Daisies...

...Strawberry daisies!

I was so stoked to use my new little baking pans that I got and thought long and hard about what to make. I wasn't in the mood for chocolate, I wanted something light and cakey and the only thing I could think about was strawberries. Strawberries just remind me so much of warmer weather, which I am dying to have. So, to bring a little sunshine in my life I made these little Strawberry "Daisy" Cakes.

Once my little babies came out of the oven and curled up on the couch with a steaming cup of mint green tea, my latest book club book (Sophia's choice) and of course a plate of my little cakes. Not being able to wait another minute I took a small nibble (ok maybe not small) and was whisked away to a grassy field where the sun shines not stop, keeping me comfortably warm, while a nice summer breeze blows through the weeping willow. If only it were that easy! But escaping for a few moments is better than never leaving at all.

The recipe for these cakes is courtesy of
Martha Stewart, and actually starts with a packaged cake mix. But with the addition of fresh strawberries, and using strawberry nectar instead of oil, these cakes took on a flavor all their own. They were so moist on the inside, but had the golden crisp crunch to the outside, which my taste buds are a huge fan of. I also made a little glaze for them which just added to the moistest-ness, because once the hot cakes soaked all of the yummy glaze up the glaze was contained within every spongy corner of the cake.

Here's to the wishful dreaming of warmer days to come!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome Home!

Slowly but surely my quaint little apartment is becoming a home. I never thought it would be so difficult to turn something so foreign into something warm, cozy and comforting. My first days in my new home were very awkward, I didn't have much furniture, no decorations on the walls and found myself surround by plain, uninviting cardboard boxes! But over the last two weeks, and after many ventures to Target, I'm starting to see my home come to life.

The sophistication of cherry wood, the playfulness of colored plates hung on the wall as decoration and the many ideas of paint colors reeling through my head are giving my home the personality it was missing. And of course, nothing makes a home feel more like home than a good morning of baking. Adjusting to my little apartment sized kitchen was a little awkward but my Raspberry Coffeecake didn't seem to notice any differences :)

With the smell of warm raspberry in the morning circulating my apartment I knew I was no longer living in an apartment. This is my home, where many days of baking, sleeping, crying, laughing and living will take place. I look forward to these days with anticipation and fear. Anticipation in my first step towards "independence", adulthood and creating, for myself, the life I dream about. Fear of loosing my connection with my family, closing the door on my childhood and not living up to the hopes I have for my future.

But as the windy road of life unfolds before me, it's things like making Raspberry Coffeecake that keep me grounded and comforted.