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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

It has been a long-standing tradition that my stepdad Mark, stepsister Brittany, and her friend Emily bake around a dozen apple pies the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.  And let me tell you, they have quite the system down.  It is really very impressive.  I have never assisted in the preparing/baking of the pies, so I don't know Mark's secret recipe, but I love to be in the kitchen during the festivities.  This year I was working on homemade cinnamon rolls.  More on that later.

This is Brittany.

And Mark.

I think I have a glass of red wine in my hand in every picture on my blog!

Here is my mama, Sara, with her stuffing.  It is vegetarian, with apples and craisins, and truly the best EVER!  You are so cute, Mom!

And her beautifully decorated table.

Hope you all had an equally stupendous Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays,


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finally! A big party!

Saturday night was my sorority's formal at the W Hotel.  So naturally, I was inclined to have a pre-party.  Lately I have been living to entertain!  Actually, this party was a good way to justify spending a bunch of money on my apartment.  But, I can FINALLY say that it is done - decorated, cute, and very homey.

Of course I had to prepare a menu for my gathering, which consisted of my staples:

Red wine
Rosemary seasoned cashews
Gouda cheese and grapes

(Recipes for my [mom's] bruschetta and cashews are on the recipe page.)

Favorite quote of the night:  "Karly, your sister makes really good salsa!" - Phil

The crew. 

To my dismay, we look like a bunch of booze hounds.  You can only see liquour bottles on the table!  Despite how it looks, there is yummy food hiding behind all of the drinks!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate chip coconut muffins - go big or go home

Here is my attitude toward muffins - and cupcakes for that matter:  why make standard when you can make jumbo?  Something about jumbo muffins makes them taste so much better.

My Friday morning ritual consists of the following:  waking up semi-early, biking to Bordertown coffee where I get a latte and a delicious homemade baked good, and being "productive" (usually blogging or catching up on my weekly shows - so not really all that productive).  I realized last night that I have spent WAY too much money this week and couldn't justify spending five more dollars on coffee and goodies.  But how can I go without coffee and a pastry on Friday morning?!  My solution?  Bake my own Bordertown-worthy jumbo muffins - chocolate chip coconut muffins with a hint of cinnamon.

My Friday morning ritual was just as good, if not better (and cheaper)!

My "hiatus" from coffee shops didn't last long though - unsurprisingly.  Karly and I stopped for a latte at Caribou before work on Saturday morning.  Can't get enough!



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chocolate carrot cake

Sunday was my friend and roommate Sarah's birthday.  As a special birthday treat I baked chocolate carrot cupcakes, topped with a thick and delicious layer of cream cheese frosting.  Sundays I usually go home for the day,  so I was lucky enough to have my mom's company in the kitchen. 

2 C flour
2 C sugar
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
2 T cocoa
1 1/4 oil
4 eggs
3 C grated carrots

First chop the carrots.  I bought a bag of matchstick carrots and the chopped them.  It is much easier than chopping an entire carrot!

Beat all ingredients all ingredients until well mixed.

This doesn't look entirely appetizing,  but the batter should look like this.

Spoon the batter in to a 9 x 13 inch cake pan or a cupcake pan.  I always use a jumbo muffin pan.  Bake at 350 until toothpick comes out clean.

They came out a bit flatter than I wanted, but all the better for a mountain of frosting.

For the frosting:

1 - 8 oz package of cream cheese
4 C powdered sugar
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 t vanilla

Beat all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  The frosting will be pretty dense.  Spread over cooled cakes.

This is half batch, but make a full batch because I ran out!

To add a decorative garnish to my finished product, I chopped up milk chocolate chips to add to the top of the frosting.

Look at this adorable platter that Blair made!


We had Brette and Emily over on Monday night to enjoy cupcakes and coffee.  Here is the beautiful birthday girl!

What a delightful social hour!



Monday, November 8, 2010

I have died and gone to pastry heaven

A road I frequent quite often is 46th Street in south Minneapolis.  Usually I am on my way to Lake Harriet or to Great Harvest in Linden Hills, but on this particular day I decided to stop at a bakery that I have been eyeing for quite some time now.  Patisserie 46 is located at 46th and Grand, and I may even venture to say that it is the most impressive bakery I have ever been to in the world, including any bakery I have been to in Europe. (And believe you me, I spent an unusual amount of time in bakeries during my 4 month stay in Barcelona).  Needless to say, it was that good, and you MUST go.

When I walked in, I could hardly contain my excitement over finding such a gem, before even ordering anything.  The atmosphere was just so fantastic!  People filled the outdoor patio, and inside was busier.  Customers sipped perfectly frothed lattes and hot cocoas.  A barista carried out a tray of lattes on the house in adorable in-house mugs.  Modern and vibrant artwork hung tastefully on the walls.  And the pastries.  There aren't any words.

I told the woman who rung me up how fantastic this place was, and she replied, "Thank you."  I proceeded to ask if she was the owner, and she said, "One of them."  Her husband is the chef, and her brother, who was the barista that day, is in the business as well.  I could hardly contain my excitement and had to walk away before I embarrassed myself;  it was like I was starstruck!  I wanted to pull her aside and ask, a) will you hire me?  b) how did you get started and how the heck have you made your bakery so successful, and c) will you be my new best friend?

I ordered an almond croissant and have never had anything quite like it.  The outer crust was crisp and flaky, but the inside was so soft.  I don't think I have savored every bite of something like I did with that croissant.  And the almond flavor did not overpower, as it oftentimes does.  YUM doesn't even begin to cut it.

In short, go to Patisserie 46, and when you do, invite me!



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An oldie but goodie

Last week was my friend Rachel's birthday, so last night she hosted us for a night of wine and sweets.  Can't get much better than that.  What the gathering really did, though, was give me an excuse to go to Surdyk's for the second time in less than a week ;)  I love wine but am CERTAINLY no connoisseur, so Surdyk's is a bit overwhelming for me.  When picking a wine for Rachel, it seemed best that chose according to the label.  I chose one - a Spanish tempranillo - that screamed Rachel and Andy (Rachel's husband).  Wish I had a picture - it featured a mod drawing of a guitarrist (Andy is a guitarrist) - very fitting.

The get-together also gave me a great excuse to procrastinate some more on my homework so that I could bake.  Don't ask me why choosing what to bake was stressful.  That, my friend, is beyond me.  I was thinking cute pink cupcakes, and then I thought better - pink is not exactly in season, nor is it really Rachel.  You are probably thinking, this girl is crazy, and I guess I probably am.  Anyhow, I decided on the classic monster cookie.  I have made them plenty; they are quick and easy and always a crowd pleaser.  I also figured it was about time I added the recipe to my blog - I have definitely made them enough.  I over-baked the cookies a bit this time, they are usually softer but still tasted good.

Check the recipes page for the recipe, and enjoy!

This was the first time being to Rachel's apartment, which is absolutely darling.  It makes me feel like a bum for not being as proactive about mine!

And I just had to add this in here (I put the cookies on it).  I made it at Color Me Mine, and it is so cute, if I may toot my own horn!