Thursday, February 28, 2013

such a hunk

Happy Birthday to my Love!

(to quote the most used phrase on this season's bachelor)

I love you more every day.  

I constantly wonder how I got so lucky.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

nutella rolls & dark chocolate almond butter cups {recipe}

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is wake up, head to the kitchen and bake something delicious.

Reasons this is good:

1.  It makes my house smell wonderful.  
2.  I have a delicious homemade treat to serve when friends come over. 
(Or I can do baked-good drive-bys)
3.  It starts my day accomplishing something, (even if it is just cinnamon rolls)

Last week I found a couple recipes I wanted to try and they both turned our beautifully, so I thought I needed to share.

Nutella rolls from a gorgeous blog I recently found: Lingered Upon - recipe here

I absolutely loved this dough.  It rose perfectly and was so easy to work with.

before / after dough shots

The hardest thing about this recipe was spreading the nutella.  Just make sure it's room temperature and you've stirred it around enough.  I'll probably throw it in the mixer next time for a minute or so, just to make it more spreadable.

After they come out of the oven you flip over the pan (onto a plate please) and you get these ooey gooey delicious buns.

I also made these dark chocolate almond butter cups from Sprouted Kitchen.

Please excuse my messy paper liners.  They were still delicious even if they weren't too pretty.

I ended up with a bit more filling than chocolate so I made a few just topped with chocolate.  

Maybe it was because I used such a rich dark chocolate (73%), but I liked these best.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stress baking {+ a recipe}

I've mentioned it before, but I'm a bit of a stress baker.

The last few days have been a bit stressful for me and my family, 
so I decided to bake my stress away this weekend.  

Plus I wanted to try out a few recipes for a friends' bridal shower.  
All the bridesmaids are bringing a dessert for the dessert bar.

First, I made thin mints for my Valentine.

{Recipe from here - it was super easy and only took 3 ingredients}

With my mom's help, we made french macarons.

{Recipe from here - we quadrupled it.}

This recipe is incredibly forgiving.  

{fyi - use a bigger tip than this, you hand will thank you later}

And even though we did everything wrong, sifting the meringue powder with the almond meal, using wax paper instead parchment paper on one of the cookie sheets, 

we still managed to get a plate full of delicious Nutella filled cookies.

I think we'll make these for the bridal shower but with a variety of fillings.  Miette's book has some great recipe ideas.

Because there are 2 days on the weekend, I then decided to make Miette's graham crackers.  

I found the recipe while looking at the macaron fillings.  We had the the ingredients sauf one substitution.  No biggie.

Graham Crackers
slightly adapted from Miette

 - 1 cup all-purpose flour
 - 1/3 + 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt
 - generous 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
 - 2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
 - 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
 - 2 tbsp honey (we didn't have any honey so we substituted agave)
 - raw sugar, for sprinkling


Sift together both flours, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and honey and beat until fluffy, for about 5 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches.  Beat until just combined.  Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Unwrap the dough and place between two sheets of waxed paper.  Roll out dough into about 1/4 inch thickness.  The recipe suggests using a 3 1/4 inch scalloped cookie cutter for about 2 dozen cookies.  I wanted them a bit smaller so we used 3 inch, 2 1/2 inch and 2 inch cookie cutters, obviously we got more than 2 dozen.

Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet about a 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake until golden brown, about 14-16 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

P.S. After baking you could also crumble these up to use for a homemade graham crust for cheesecake or tarts.


What are your best stress relievers?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

cold weather {must-have}

Was anyone else freezing watching the polar bear plunge on the Bachelor this week?  
I felt chilled to the bone!

So I gathered a few of my favorite cold weather essentials.  I know you're thinking - what does a girl from California know about winter. But anyone who's ever held my hand or felt my toes through socks will admit that I know cold.

  1. My brothers delicious hot cocoa recipe.
  2. The perfect throw - personally I love the plush and faux fur throws found at Restoration Hardware.
  3. Beauty - Kiehl's Ultimate Hand Salve and Kate Somerville's Quench - the most amazing product I've ever found.
  4. A hot water bottle - don't laugh, I'm serious. I first discovered these when I lived in London and I don't care if it's old womanish but there is nothing better than being wrapped in your favorite throw with a cup of hot cocoa and a hot water bottle at your feet.  Nothing.  It's also nice to throw under the covers to warm your bed for you. :)  This is the one I have, but I'm thinking of getting one of these on sale at RH.  Seriously, you can't have too many.  Dan and my brother both use them when they're at my house. :)
  5. Cashmere socks - my favorite are from The White Company, but you can find them pretty reasonable priced at Nordstorm too.
  6. Cuyana cape - I was lucky enough to win this from a recent giveaway over at Caitlin's blog, Sacramento Street.  It arrived on Christmas eve and may have been the best present I received.  Everyone in my family tried it on and they all want one now, including my brother.  
  7. And who can survive winter with lip balm.  Honestly, I'm not too picky.  I think the best lip balm is the one that you have with you.
stay warm!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tylney Hall - Hook

When I was living in London, one of the places I "visited" was Hook in North Hampshire, England.

I use the term visited loosely as this is not a place that I would have thought to travel too.  I was there for work.  Most of us who were on international rotations in the London office were sent out on the client work that was outside of the city, which was considered less desirable.  

I didn't mind though.  I got to see parts of England I never would have and got to know the train system fairly well.  There were weeks I arrived back at my flat in London on Friday night only to pack, do laundry, repack and leave again early Monday morning.

As I was catching up on Downton Abbey last night, I was reminded of the place we stayed at in Hook: Tylney Hall

Unfortunately, I don't have too many photos.  But I do love these wintery sciences I managed to take during one of our weeks there.

Before our team went out there, it was kind of a joke around the office that we would be spending a couple weeks out of the year in Hook.  Apparently, it is not known for being one of England's great tourist destinations. And the hotel where the team had stayed previous years wasn't anything to write home about.

One night at a work dinner, I got to chatting with my engagement partner.  He mentioned that one of his favorite places that he'd ever stayed happened to be right outside of Hook.  Not knowing the price, he asked why we didn't stay there.

I immediately jumped at my chance and asked if I could book the team there if there wasn't much of a price difference.  Perhaps, because we were there in the winter months, the cost wasn't much more.

The rooms were all unique and adorable, exactly as you'd picture that English countryside charm.

My favorite part was the enormous breakfast they'd lay out every morning in the dining room. 
(Of course, my favorite would be the food.)

Tylney Hall in summer

Totally Downton Abbey, right?

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