January 2011

My lovely sister-in-law is in charge of bringing a cake to her grandmother’s birthday this year. Making a cake yourself is almost always cheaper than buying one and usually better. Plus you totally get points for doing your best Martha impression for a relative. But, not all cakes are  created equal and you don’t need a lot of decorating skills to pull off a cool look.

Cupcake Fondu

Bake it Pretty

The Old Standby

Smitten Kitchen

Milkshake Cupcakes


Flourless Chocolate Cake (one of my favorites)

Triple Chocolate Trifle


Now I’m hungry! Happy birthday, Nanny!

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Lemon and Blackberry Swirl Squares

by J.S. on January 25, 2011

in Recipes

Ingredients For the Crust:
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup  all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  confectioner sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon pieces

For the Blackberry Curd:
12 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh blackberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon pieces

For the Lemon Curd:

6 large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Prepare the crust:

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment, as described in this tutorial.

Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and coarsely grind, about 15 one-second pulses. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse until finely ground, about 10 additional one-second pulses. Sprinkle the chunks of butter over the top of the flour-nut mix and pulse until the mixture holds together when compressed in your palm, another 20-25 one-second pulses. (See below for preparing the crust without a food processor.)

Press the crust mix into the baking dish, making it as even as possible. Freeze for 30-60 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the crust from the freezer and bake for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to color around the edges.

While the crust is baking, prepare the blackberry curd and lemon curd:

Place the blackberries and water in a medium-sized sauce pot over medium-high heat and stir. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until all the blackberries have become mushy, about 5-8 minutes. Pour them into a fine-meshed strainer set over a medium-sized mixing bowl and press the berry puree through using a spatula. Allow the puree to cool to room temperature. Discard the berry skins and clean the strainer for use in the next step.

To the bowl with the blackberry puree, add the sugar, eggs and yolks, lemon juice and salt (reserving the butter for now). Stir thoroughly until the mixture is even.

Return the blackberry mixture to the saucepan and set the burner to medium. Stir the curd continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. Cook until the curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon,This should take 10-12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter all at once. Stir until the butter has completely melted, then pour the curd through the strainer into a clean bowl.

For the lemon curd, whisk the ingredients together in a medium size bowl.

Pour the lemon curd onto the walnut crust. Spoon the blackberry curd on top and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until the curd has set but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool completely and refrigerate before cutting.

To cut the squares, lift them from the pan using the parchment paper as handles. Trim off the sides to make even edges if desired. Dust the tops of the bars with powdered sugar just before serving and use a sharp knife to cut them into squares. The powdered sugar will melt into the curd, making sweet glaze.

Keep refrigerated.

(Recipe adapted from cranberry curd bars and Lemon squares.)


Grapefruit Margaritas and Black Bean Nachos

by J.S. on January 24, 2011

in Recipes

This Saturday was Margarita night at our house. Instead of the traditional lime I went all out by adding some ruby red grapefruit juice to the mix. And what are margaritas without NACHOS??? A damn shame, that’s what.

Grapefruit Margaritas Ingredients:

Juice from 7 -8 limes

2 1/2 cups of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice

2 cups Italian Grape Fruit Soda

2 oz Cointreau

8 oz Tequila


Squeeze the limes into a pitcher. Add the Cointreau, grapefruit juice and stir until mixed. Add the soda and gently stir. Pour over ice and add limes to garnish.

Black Bean Nachos Ingredients:

1 can black beans drained

1/2 bag of white corn tortilla chips

1/2 bag blue corn tortilla chips

1 cup shredded cheese

1 Jalapeno sliced

1/4 green onions

1/2 guacamole

1/2 low fat sour cream

1/2 pico de gallo

1 lime


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Lay chips out on foil.

Squeeze lime over chips. Spoon black beans over chips, add cheese and jalapenos.

Bake until cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven and add Pico de Gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Serve.


Daily Inspiration: 1.21.11

by J.S. on January 20, 2011

in Daily Inspiration

from here via Pinterest

(I’m posting a day early because I will be away from a computer on Friday. Have the loveliest of weekends. xoxo J.S.)


Urbanog?! Where have you been my whole life?

by J.S. on January 20, 2011

in Finds

First, let me say I know these are super high. Some of us, (like me) need the height. Next let me tell that these are ONLY $24! Love, love. Urbanog, so nice to meet you, you cheeky devil.

Please, go browse. Don’t worry,your boss isn’t looking.

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Friday Cocktails: Autumn Orchard

by J.S. on January 20, 2011

in Friday Cocktails

from Bon Appetit


  • 1/4 cup Cognac (such as Camus VS)
  • 1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons pear liqueur (such as Rothman and Winter or Mathilde)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 lime slices


  • Mix first 6 ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Cover and shake vigorously 20 times. Strain between 2 coupe glasses. Float lime slices on top and serve.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2010/11/the_autumn_orchard#ixzz1BdFBXFDO


Obsessed with Clutches

by J.S. on January 19, 2011

in Finds

I admit it, I’m obsessed with clutches. I’m obsessed with making them, buying them, carrying them. Normally, the cheap ones look like crap and the expensive ones don’t make it home with me. Then I saw this cute little thing and my faith in cheap fashion has been restored. The gray number above retails for $32!  Not too shabby.

This one is $48.

Perfect for summer. This Emmerson Made clutch is $58.


Lemon Meringue Pie…take 1

by J.S. on January 17, 2011

in Recipes,Uncategorized

This weekend was my first attempt at Lemon Meringue Pie. Every time I cook I learn something about myself. One of those lessons is that I get bored very, very quickly. Anything that requires close observation is probably not for me. Which brings me to this pie. I normally steer clear of these things but figured since it’s a new year it may also be a new me. Well, it wasn’t. As you can see by the slightly brown meringue. So the first attempt didn’t rock anyone’s world, but fear not, I refuse to let this pie or my ADD beat me. I’ll give it another go…eventually.

By the way, the pie still tastes awesome, burn and all.

Ingredients (recipe adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen)

Lemon Filling:

  • 6 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons on lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
  • 1 recipe Meringue, recipe follows


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the egg mixture, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt add the butter and set the pot over heat (if possible start whipping the egg whites now). Whisk to combine. Stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, keep whisking until thickened and reaching 170 degrees.

To make meringue, in a metal bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites. When they begin to foam, add the sugar, lemon juice, salt and vanilla. Beat until its between soft peaks and stiff peak form. The Meringue can sit while you finish the filling.

Pour mixture into pie shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.

Meringue Topping:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Yield: topping for 1 (9-inch) pie

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Cranberry Lime Cocktail

by J.S. on January 17, 2011

in Friday Cocktails,Recipes


1 1/2 tsp cranberry sauce

1 lime

6 mint leaves

1 1/2 tsp honey

2 oz Hendricks Gin


Muddle the limes, mint, cranberry sauce, honey together in a cocktail shaker. Add gin and ice. Shake and pour into a cold glass.


I’m short. Like for real, short. Like below national average short. As if buying jeans doesn’t suck enough, you can imagine the added joy I get trying on jeans fit for a giant. Honestly, don’t even get me started, the injustices of women’s clothing are astounding.

Well, now we can at least wear jeans without looking like we’re melting. Here’s a GREAT hemming tutorial from Crapivemade.com. I’ve actually hemmed a few pairs with this method and it works great. Not cutting involved. Love it.

Char’s tutorial is below. Stop by and say hi to her, she’s a hemming genius.

First a quick run down on basic hemming. Try your pants on and have someone pin the cuffs at the level you want the pants to end up. On this pair it’s 2.5”.


Divide that measurement in half (1.25” on this pair) and measure from the edge of the factory hem that distance. Press all the way around.


Sew right up next to the factory hem. I like to start right before the most detailed side seam and make sure it’s lined up perfectly.


Go back to your ironing board and press the factory hem “down” and the part you just sewed “up”.


You can stop here if you want, but (especially after washing) you might find that the part you just sewed flips down and hangs out of your jeans or that your cuff flips up and makes the hemmed part visible.

Take your jeans back to the machine and stitch RIGHT on top of the seam line on both side seams.

(I left the thread tail on the 2nd picture so you can see where the stitching starts. Practically invisible, right?)

And here’s a look at the other seam:


Finished product?


Photos and tutorial from crapivemade.com