Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weeknight Treat - Fast Fruit Tarts!

Ever have one of those nights when you NEED a dessert, yet you dont feel like reallyyyyy baking, and you feel guilty for even thinking about sweets?

That is me, usually at least 3 times a week, HA!  I found a solution, a la my favorite, Martha Stewart - honeyed fruit tarts!

This treat is adapted from her Pies & Tarts book.  It's fast, delicious, and a little bit more healthy than a batch of brownies at least.  I used peaches and strawberries, because those are the fruits we had in our fridge, but this would be delicious with all kinds of fruits - pears, any type of berries, etc.  Also, if you are into specifics, Martha lists them in her recipe.  Me, I just read over the recipe, and eyeballed everything I had, so please excuse the vague recipe below.


  • Chop up about 1 cup of up fruit (I used 4 big strawberries and half of a peach)
  • Put it in a bowl, drizzle over some honey (use as much or as little as you like), and squeeze half a lime.  
  • If you like zest like we do, zest your lime half and mix that in with the fruits.  Cover with saran wrap and stick in the fridge.
  • Take out two squares of frozen puff pastry
  • Microwave for 10 seconds to defrost
  • Brush with water, milk, egg wash, whatever you fancy
  • Sprinkle with sanding sugar
  • Bake for ~15-20 minutes, or until golden brown
  • When its baked and puffed, pull out the pastry and squish down the center to form a little well
  • Let cool enough so that it won't burn your mouth
  • Spoon honeyed fruits into the pastry well
  • Eat up, buttercup!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morning Muffins in honor of my MUM!

Today is a huge day for my mom.  I am so, so, SO proud of her.  As of today, my mom has lost 20 pounds, and is officially OFF of her blood pressure medications!  Our family has a long history of hypertension, and my mom has been on blood pressure medication as long as I can remember.  I also have normal/wavering on high blood pressure, so I've been wondering if and when I'd have to join her on the pill parade.  Today she proved that we don't need it!  She has been exercising at least five days a week (usually more), doing boot camp, hiking, biking, weights, and the treadmill.  She's also recently been following Tosca Reno's "Eat Clean" plan, avoiding sugar, watching portions, eating more often and making healthier choices.  I saw her this weekend and she looks AMAZING, and now she is feelign amazing too!  GO MOM!

To celebrate her accomplishment, I baked up a version of Tosca Reno's breakfast muffins - sugar free, packed with natural goodness, quick and easy breakfast meal to go.  These little muffies are a great way to start the day - add some hard boiled egg whites on the side and you have your protein and complex carbs, and your metabolism will be totally fired up!


Morning Muffins - a recipe adapted from Tosca Reno's "Tam's Morning Constitutional Muffins"

1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. raw bran
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 egg whites
1/4 c. canola oil (You can be really good and use unsweetened applesauce instead..we just dont have any!)
1/3 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c. water
1 c. dried fruit - I used Trader Joe's mix of dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Line a cupcake tin with liners
-Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until just combined
-Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way
-Bake 25 - 30 min or until a toothpick comes out clean

Happy clean eating!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bridal Shower Cake - Stephanie and Rich

This past weekend I had the honor of making another bridal shower cake! This one is for a close family friend, Stephanie, who is marrying her sweetie this year!  Stephanie's wedding colors are so chic; navy blue and bright orange.  I LOVE that combo!  I think pairing a neutral with a bright is classy, fun, unique annnnd just overall the best.

I had a great deal of creative license with this cake- the only requests were no fondant and marble cake.  Easy enough!  I baked up a 2-tier chocolate and vanilla swirl cake (10" and 6") and then had fun with the filling and frosting.


For the filling, I made a bittersweet chocolate ganache, using Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream.  Who knew ganache was so easy?  Instead of leaving it a thick, fudgy ganache, I whipped it into more of a mousse consistency.  I could have eaten the whole bowl of just plain whipped ganache.  It was THAT good.


Whipped ganache as a filling!

For the frosting, I made up a medium batch of Maxine's Decorating icing, but flavored it with vanilla and heavy cream.  This was hands down the most delicious version of Maxine's Decorating icing that I've done.  It is SO worth using the heavy cream.

From the reviews I heard, the shower was a great success and everyone loved the cake!  Happy Wedding, Stephanie.  We love ya!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kappa Tuesday - Summer Simple

Ohhh Kappa Tuesdays, how I will miss you!  Shannon is starting a new job so last night was the final edition of Kappa Tuesdays.  We're going to try for occasional Kappa Sundays instead.

To wrap things up, Shannon provided a simple summer dessert of Strawberry Shortcakes!  She whipped the cream herself, chopped up some fresh strawberries and brought nice light shortcake shells.  Delish and perfect for the first full day of summer.  Summer always makes me think STRAWBERRY, I'm so happy that the season of fresh berries is here.  

What are your go-to summer desserts?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

D'Amici's...take two!

This week has been a long, AWESOME week.  The highlights were obviously the BRUINS WINNING THE STANLEY CUP  (I'm in recoup mode from the parade this morning) and me getting a new job!  To celebrate, hubs and I got sushi and decided to give D'Amici's in Melrose another try.  While the service hasn't changed, our desserts definitely got better grades this time around.

We got mini-versions of five different things and had a couple bites of each.  First up, mini mocha cake.

Mini Mocha Cake
Grade: A-
Comments: Awesome mocha frosting, good consistency but bland cake.

Almond Cream Cookie (can't remember the actual name of this one)
Grade: A+  this was our favorite!
Comments: Chewy almondy cookie, pastry cream filled chocolate dome--- awesome!  We inhaled this one.

Pecan Diamond
Grade: A
Comments:  Pretty much what we expected.  Good, but not extraordinary.

Mini Chocolate Torte
Grade: B-
Comments: Super soft cake that tasted okay, frosting tasted like it came out of a can from the grocery store- very unimpressed!  If they used real, high quality dark chocolate for this it would be amazing.

Coconut Mound
Grade:  A-
Comments:  Very dense, great coconut flavor, balanced sweetness with toasted coconut and chocolate topping.  Slightly dry, and would have been an A+ if there was just a little more chocolate.

Mini Ricotta Cake
Grade: C
Comments:  Our least favorite.  This was dry, bland, super light lemon flavor, and turned thick/pasty in our mouths when we were eating it.  Pretty gross actually and definitely do not recommend this one.

PS-- What do you think of the pictures on this post?  Hubby took them all- I think he's a great photographer and I might make him take them all for me from now on.  Thank you hubby!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Carrot Cupcakes for my Dad

June 12 is a special day in our's like a Father's Day warm-up.  It's Dad's birthday!  Nothing says June like searching for the perfect pair of "miracle socks" (aka polypropelene/COTTON FREE/hiking friendly), packet of Gu, or a classic Dad shirt.  You know, the kind you look at and say, "that is SO Dad." Bonus points from Dad if any of said items are made in the USA (note my festive cupcake liners just for him!)

This year I was in charge of making Dad the perfect dessert.  After some serious thought, I decided to do carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, AND one of Lindsay's famous Rhubarb Bakes.  My dad is definitely into the more healthy desserts, more fruity, less chocolatey, so I wanted to do something I knew he'd love.

I'm happy to report that both desserts were right on the money.  Look at this smile!!  I wonder if it has anything to do with the ridiculous cupcake toppers that I made just for him, hah!

In a fashion typical of my family, everyone had one or two cupcakes, one or two squares of rhubarb bake, AND we each had a scoop of ice cream- Brighams Coffee or Hood Moose Tracks were the two options Grammy decided to pull out of her freezer yesterday.  Don't worry, there were 3 others IN the freezer just in case. We are so unhealthy on birthdays and holidays.  But, I love it!

I used a carrot cupcake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and I *HIGHLY* recommend it.  The cake is incredibly soft and moist, and it's so easy to whip up!  I was a little nervous pre-bake, because the batter was very runny, but the result was a really decadent carrot cake.  Cream Cheese frosting recipe was from who else, Martha Stewart!

I have always avoided making carrot cake because I can't fathom the thought of turning these:

Into these:

However after some blog-hunting I learned that my second favorite kitchen appliance, my food processor, makes this a fast and easy job.  Recipes follow, happy baking!

Carrot Cupcakes adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen
This made 36 smallish cupcakes


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups grated peeled carrots
  • You can also add 1 cup of walnuts and/or 1/2 cup of raisins if you'd like.  I left these out.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 24 cupcake molds with papers
  • Blend flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl
  • In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, mix together sugar and oil until well blended
  • Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, mixing well between each egg
  • Add flour mixture and stir until blended
  • Stir in carrots (and raisins/nuts if you're using them)
  • Bake cupcakes 14-18 minutes.  Smitten recommended leaving the cuppies in the pan for 5 minutes before putting them on a cooling rack and this worked well for me.
  • Let cool completely before frosting- you don't want melty cream cheese frosting!

Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes 2 cups (I needed to make 2 batches of this to generously frost all of my cupcakes)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese brick, room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (start with one, add more to make it the consistency you want)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Put cream cheese and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth
  • Add in confectioners sugar, a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency
  • Add in vanilla extract, beat well, frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

S'More Bars and Operation Baking GALS

I recently learned of a great group online called Operation Baking GALS, and sent off my very first package with the group today!  Operation Baking GALS sends care packages to deployed soldiers to "Give A Little Support."

I signed up for a soldier and his team this month and was so excited to put together a care package for them.  The two baked goods I made were Chocolate Moon Rock cookies (Chocolate cookies with pretzels, oats and chocolate chips mixed in) and S'more Bars!  The S'more Bars are legendary.

I'm talking cookie dough crust, layer of graham crackers and a topping of marshmallows and chocolate.  YUM.  I'm  a little nervous that these will get melty on the way to my soldier, but fingers crossed that they'll be okay!

Soldier is from Maine, so in addition to my home-baked goods I wanted to include some Boston/New England specialties and a few melt-proof treats.  I picked up the day's Herald with TONS of updates on the Boston Bruins, an Improper Bostonian magazine, Stuff Magazine, a Metro (hey, why not), and then a bunch of snacks.  I figured adding in some Fritos, Easy-Mac and BEEF JERKY would be great little extras for a manly-soldier-man.

It was so much fun thinking about some things from home that a deployed soldier would enjoy and I can't wait to do this again next month.  I am SO proud to be an American, and so grateful for our country's brave service-men and women.  Operation Baking GALS is an amazing organization and if you're interested in putting together your own care packages, I highly suggest checking them out!  The other great part of this is that the USPS has military boxes that you can pick up for free, fill up as much as you want, and ship for a flat rate of $12.00.  My box was VERY heavy, definitely worth more than the $12 shipping fee!

Recipe for S'more bars follows, and I'd like to end this post with a big HUG and THANK YOU to USA Military, and a quote from one of my favorites, Zac Brown Band:

"I thank GOD for my life.  For the stars and stripes...may freedom forever fly,  let it ring!  Salute the ones who died, the ones who gave their lives so we don't have to sacrifice all the things we love."

S'more Bars 
From the "Favorite Brand Name 3 books in 1 Cookies, Bars & Muffins" cookbook

-1 package (18 oz) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
-1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
-3 cups mini marshmallows
-1/2 cup chocolate chips
-2 teaspoons shortening

-Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 13" x 9" pan, and press cookie dough into pan. (My food store only had 16 oz packages, so I used 1 and a half of those in my pan for a nice, thick cookie base.)

-Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over cookie dough

-Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Sprinkle with marshmallows.  Bake 2-3 minutes more or until marshmallows are puffed.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

-Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a small resealable food storage bag.  Seal up the bag, and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Knead the bag lightly, mixing chocolate and shortening.  If necessary, microwave another 30 seconds until mixture is soft and combined.  Cut off a small corner of the bag, and drizzle over bars.

-Refrigerate 5-10 minutes of until chocolate is set.  Cut into bars and serve!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kappa Tuesday - Raspberry Rhubarb Bake!

Well hello!  I'm sorry it's been a while since my last post.  Life has been busy, but the baking hasn't slowed down!  I'm kicking BostonSweetieBlog back off with a Kappa-licious bang for you.  I mean it.  Kappa-LICIOUS.

Last night our girls dessert was provided by the lovely Miss Lindsay.  She made an absolutely amazing dessert for us - Raspberry Rhubarb Bake with vanilla gelatto.  She brought all of the ingredients to dinner, quickly assembled everything, popped it in the oven when the chicken was done, and an hour later our dessert was ready!  This is warm, sweet, satisfying, and absolutely delicious.


The recipe is so easy, this is a GREAT thing to make for summer potlucks, parties, or when you're craving a sweet on a random weeknight.  The recipe is below.

Before I sign off- I have to give a shout-out to Shannon who provided our Kappa Dinner:  Rosemary chicken, sauteed green beans and rice pilaf.  It was SO good, and she was proud of how pretty she plated everything.  I know my blog is all sweets, but this meal was pretty sweet (ohhhh!) so thank you Shanns!  Here's a pic:

Coming up tomorrow: Smore's bars and a care package to a deployed soldier, my participation in Operation Baking GALS!

Raspberry Rhubarb Bake - serves 6
Recipe from Lindsay's mom's cookbook "One Dish Wonders"

Place 2 cups of sliced rhubarb (fresh or frozen) in a greased, square 8"x8" baking dish.  Sprinkle with half of a 3 oz. package of raspberry or strawberry Jell-O, 1/6 cup of sugar and half of a box of yellow or white cake mix (in that order.) 

Pour 1/2 cup water evenly over dry ingredients.

Drizzle with 1/6 cup butter or margarine, melted.

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender.

Great idea from Lindsay's mom Barb: "I would put the other half of the Jell-O and cake mix in ziplocks and stick them in the cupboard or freezer if you think it will be a while before you make it again.  Doubled, this recipe fills a 9" x 13" pan, which would be good if you were going to a group event."