Friday Favorites


I managed to combine both Friday favorites and Weekly Minnie in the same post today. I plan on catching up on some TV shows, baking & reading this weekend. What about you? After this past week's craziness I'm looking forward to just chilling out. I am in need of some good book recommendations though, for next week. What are you reading? What book do you recommend?

Have a fabulous weekend! xo

Friday Favorites:

Blog Challenge: Five Essentials


Awhile ago I put out a call for a blog challenge. Some of you answered including my very good blogging buddy Jen. If you haven't read her blog I highly suggest you check it out. Her posts include topics on everything from home decor, to books to thought provoking personal passages. Jen's fabulous DIY projects always leave me speechless and her interior design talents shine through various "chic" posts. I am so happy to present our blogging challenge to you - Five Essentials.

So please head over to Jen's fabulous site and check out her blog challenge post on Five Essentials For a Home with Heart.

And thank you Jen for participating and being such an amazing blog/twitter buddy.

I receive a lot of emails and comments asking for recommendations for baking utensils etc. While you can go to Williams-Sonoma and pay for a $15 dollars for a plastic spatula sometimes the best items are more affordable and efficient. From my kitchen to yours, here's my five essentials for baking:

1. A silpat baking mat.
You don't need to have any fancy baking pans, as long as you have a silpat. I love, love, love mine and find they are worth their weight in gold. These baking mats are long lasting and will also help to prolong the lifespan of your pans. Did I mention they are made in France? So you know they must be good.

2. A good set of mixing bowls.
A good set of mixing bowls is essential to basic baking. I found these bowls by KitchenAid on sale at a local home decor store. Make sure you get a set that has at least three different sizes, should be dishwasher safe and have a rubber sticky bottom.

3. A good quality mixer.
Contrary to belief, you do not need a stand up KitchenAid mixer to bake & create delicious desserts. For years I used a simple hand held mixer to mix batters for cakes, dough for cookies and whip meringues into submission. It wasn't until I got married (and we had a gift registry) I finally recieved my stand up mixer. So don't be dismayed that you don't have a fancy mixer, because even the most simple hand mixer can produce wonderful results.

4. Measuring Cups
I know it might seem silly including measuring cups, but recently I bought my first set of stainless steel measuring cups and spoons and I do notice a little bit of a difference. I prefer them over plastic now. Not to mention the spoons have smaller measurements such as 1/8 tsp and even a spoon that is a pinch! Yes, I will be the first to admit that a new set of measuring spoons including a pinch makes me happy.

5. Springfoam Pan
For the longest time I made all my cakes in those Baker's Secret small round pans. It wasn't until I baked somthing from Juila Child's The Art of French Cooking, where she requested the cake be baked in a springfoam pan did I buy one. I cannot recommend these pans enough. I love the fact that there is no more flipping the pan over (once it has been baked) and then the cake all sticking to the bottom and it getting all stuck and quite frankly not quite pretty. I only use this pan when making cakes now. I love it!

Guest Post: Steph's Carrot Cake


I am thrilled to have Steph from Steph's Bite By Bite guest posting today. If you are not familiar with Steph and her baking delights I highly recommend you visit her delightful blog & Twitter asap! I am constantly in awe of her baking talents, enthusiasm for life and generally bubbly personality. I am honored to call Steph a blogging buddy and have her share a special recipe with you all. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie from Steph's Bite By Bite. I’m on a mission to make the kitchen not seems so scary and to share some yummy recipes, some drool worthy pics, and even some kitchen failures, as I discover them bite by bite.
This is my first guest post ever and I decided this would be the perfect time to make some vegetables...errrrttt (record scratching)...sweet vegetables! Ok, I can see that I’m loosing you. How does Carrot Cake sound?!

There I think that got your attention ;)

Carrot Cake is the best dessert ever, because I have the mind set that two big slices are half of my daily vegetable intake. Is that wrong?

I can’t help it!

The cake is so moist from all the sweet carrot shavings, crunchy walnuts add some texture, and the juicy raisins are that sweet surprising pop that just make me go crazy for this cake!

Not to mention that I could eat the frosting by the spoonful.

See! Veggies can taste good.

This cake was very easy to make and looks like it took quite a bit of time. I love when I can pull a good fake out on people!

I hope you’ll give this amazing recipe a try, cuz hey, we all need to eat more vegetables!

Carrot Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours


-2 cup flour

-2 tsp baking powder

-2 tsp baking soda

-2 tsp ground cinnamon

-1 tsp ground ginger

-3/4 tsp salt

-3 cup grated carrots

-1 cup chopped walnuts

-1/2 cup raisins

-2 c sugar

-1 cup canola oil

-4 large eggs

Frosting Ingredients

-8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

-1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp), room temperature

-3 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

-1 tbsp vanilla extract

Getting ready

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon , ginger and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped walnuts, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Friday Favorites


I am so excited for this weekend, because I am going to be hanging out with two of my favorite people! My best friend & her husband are coming to visit. I haven't seen them in seven months and even though we talk every week I still miss her so much.

What are your long weekend plans?

Friday Favorites:

Recipe: Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


I decided to make these cookies on a whim. I especially enjoyed the white chocolate in combination with the cranberries.


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Stir chopped milk chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until milk chocolate sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Happy Valentine's Day Sneek Peek!


Happy Valentine's Day Lovelies!
Just wanted to share with you a sneek peek of what's to come on this week's blog.
Strawberry Jam filled Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream icing.

Stay Tuned & enjoy the day!

Friday Favorites!


Image via Flickr

I hope everyone has been having an amazing week! Mine started off a little rough with a nasty case of the stomach flu but I'm happy to report all is well and good now.

I am so excited to share with you that I am in the midst of planning our very first trip to NYC this spring. I've already bought the guidebooks and am feverishly planning out the itinerary day by day. But I have to ask you, my lovely blogging buddies for some recommendations. Do you have a favorite restaurant, museum, coffee house or bakery? I am looking for these kinds of things - especially food. So, I want to hear from you. Please feel free to email me or leave a comment, I would really appreciate it.

This weekend is going to be filled with cupcakes, brownies, pasta, wine & love! Will be tweeting my Valentine's Day Cupcakes so be sure to stay tuned.

Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine's Day Weekend filled with love.


This week's favorites:

Wordless Wednesday


A sculpture at Branicki Palace

BiaƂystok, Poland.

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins


Hey Lovelies!

As you know my favorite form of comfort food is baked goods. With the recent winter storms blowing through I decided to make these blueberry muffins to warm me up. I love, love, love the hint of nutmeg in the topping. It has a lot of flavor and adds an extra crunch to the top. These muffins are a great addition to any brunch or coffee break.



Makes 1 dozen

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Working over the bowl, toss blueberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons flour mixture to lightly coat; set aside the flour mixture and the blueberries.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add milk, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If desired, in a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of muffin batter.
  4. Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Friday Favorites


I have to get something off my chest and to be honest I debated whether to post this at all.

I don't know about you but I am really feeling the winter blues this week. The snowstorm in combination with some dental work has left me with a case of the "blahs". I'm also having a difficult time at the gym lately. Not really feeling motivated & in a rut of sorts. I'm debating quitting and buying a treadmill (since that & my trainer once a week is all I ever use). So there's that. Also, as much as I do I'm not seeing the results that I've been working towards for two years now.

Also -

I posted this on twitter the other day, just something that crossed my mind while debating the gym situation. I am a healthy woman who get's exercise regularly, I eat sensibly & rarely eat out. I don't smoke and only drink a glass of wine occasionally. So why I am constantly thinking about my weight? Why am I always trying to be skinner than I already am? Why am I not comfortable with my own body sometimes?

Now, this isn't meant to be a pitty party or even a ploy to make anyone feel bad for me. Because really I have nothing to complain about. I have a wonderful supportive husband, family & friends. I guess I just really needed to write this down. To make note and move on.

So I apologize dear friends but today I needed to write this post for me, because really life is beautiful, wonderful and should be enjoyed. I promise to be positive, bright & sunny from this moment on.

This is a special edition of Friday Favorites. These posts/blogs really brightened my day & helped me in more ways than one.

Snow Day


Recently a snow storm decided to blow through my sleepy little town. I decided to take some photos of the aftermath in my local park.

Recipe: Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas


I don't know about you, but after the holidays I was feeling, well a little bloated and if I'm going to be completely honest, my skinny jeans didn't fit right.

For the next couple of months I will be sharing some of my favorite healthy but delicious recipes. This goat cheese and mango quesadilla recipe was super easy to make and really flavorful.


Serves 8

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • 6 whole-wheat tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Spread goat cheese on tortillas. Divide mango, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro on one half of each tortilla. Fold tortilla over filling.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook quesadillas until cheese softens and tortillas are crisp and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side (if skillet begins to scorch, reduce heat to medium). Transfer quesadillas to a cutting board and cut each into 4 wedges. Serve immediately.
Source: Everyday Food, January/February 2011

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