sarahgrand

Month: July, 2012

Christmas in July

Around this time of year, I start to miss the winter–bundling up near the fireplace, baking cookies with christmas music on in the background, driving around to see the lights on neighborhood houses–I just miss that overall feeling of “holiday cheer.” Today I’ve put together some photos of my favorite holiday cupcakes. I came up with the wreath brownie cupcake, and my sister made the rudolph vanilla cupcakes.

I plan to do a post on brownie cupcakes in the near future, but for anyone wondering, a “brownie cupcake” is simply a brownie in cupcake form. Just pour brownie mix into cupcake liners in a muffin tin. I really like this idea because when I bake brownies in a pan, they usually get all crumbly and messed up when I try to cut them into squares. I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t like when that happens! With brownie cupcakes, there is no mess, plus they’re really cute. My only warning about brownie cupcakes is that they take less time to bake than brownies in a pan, so they can get dried out if you don’t keep checking on them in the oven.

Here’s the wreath brownie cupcake I came up with:

And here are the rudolph vanilla cupcakes my sister made. I’m not sure if she came up with this idea herself or if she found it online. She used chocolate frosting, vanilla wafers, pretzels, mini marshmallows, and red M&Ms.

Merry Christmas in July!

Roses

My friend got these roses and I decided to take a few pictures of them. I think these were the most beautiful roses I’ve seen in my 20 years…I didn’t edit any of the photos, they seriously looked this good!

Orzo Salad

Pasta salad is one of my favorite foods, but I eat it pasta all the time, so I decided to make this orzo salad to change things up a bit. I didn’t use a recipe–I just kind of threw in some of my favorite vegetables and cheeses that I thought would taste good in it. It turned out delicious, plus it’s perfect for the summer!

So here’s what I added to the cooked orzo:

  • A light coating of olive oil
  • Feta cheese (I love feta, so I like to add a lot)
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese balls (Even though I like fresh mozzarella, looking back, I think the orzo is fine with just feta. Do whatever you want though!)
  • Red onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Tomato

This combination of vegetables and cheeses was great, but what I love about cooking is that you have the freedom to add whatever you want and make any recipe your own. So, if you have leftover meats/cheeses/vegetables, you could just boil some orzo, add some oil olive, and throw them in–it will probably be really good. The second time I made orzo, I added a little cucumber and some black olives, which I thought were nice additions.

Here are the vegetables:

The finished product:

Enjoy the weekend!

Mini Apple Pies

Last summer, my friend and I decided to make mini apple pies for my sister’s engagement party. Mini pies are not only cuter than their normal-sized counterparts, but they are also more convenient–no mess involved in cutting up slices! We used my friend’s recipe for the filling and store-bought dough for the crust. We rolled out the dough and cut two circles for each mini pie, one bigger than the other. We put the bigger circles in the bottoms of a greased muffin tin, so that edges of the circles came just over the top of the pan. We filled the crusts with the apples and sealed each pie closed with the smaller circles. After coating the crusts with egg wash and cutting little holes in the top, we put the mini pies in the oven to bake. Sorry I don’t have any pictures showing the process of how we constructed the pies (We made these last summer before I started this blog, so I didn’t think to take pictures until they were done!) We never really used a set recipe–we kind of just went with our intuition for the thickness of the crust, how much filling to use, etc.–but if you want more detailed instructions, I found this recipe online that’s pretty much the same thing and really helpful:

I never realized how easy to is to make any dessert mini. As obvious as it sounds, just do everything exactly the same, but on a smaller scale. For the mini pies we just had to use a muffin tin instead of a normal-sized pan and for my mini layer cakes I just had to use a circular cookie cutter to get the cake layers.

Here’s the finished product:

We had some leftover filling after we made the mini pies, so I went out and bought some more crust and made a normal sized pie a few days later. Here’s a slice of the normal sized pie à la mode:

Have a nice afternoon!

Disney World Photos

Someone was playing the Bix Beiderbecke Pandora station at work the other day, and the music immediately reminded me of Disney World. Whenever my family goes to Disney World, we stay at a hotel on the Boardwalk. Even though the Boardwalk opened in the 1990s, it has an old-fashioned feel to it, which I love. There is a candy shop with things like big swirly lollipops, candy apples, cotton candy, etc., a little bakery, a dance hall–it just gives off that charming old fashioned vibe, you know what I mean? I had never heard of Bix Beiderbecke before the other day, but his 1920s jazz songs transport me back to that Boardwalk…I hope to go back again soon! Here’s one of his songs:

 

I think this is the perfect kind of music to have playing in the background if you’re working on something–it’s enjoyable, but not distracting. I’ve included some pictures from my family’s recent trip to Disney World (Photo cred to my dad). I tried to choose ones that give off the 1920’s boardwalk vibe. Hope you enjoy!

Fancy Nails

I usually like neutral colors on my nails (think beige, gray, or light pink), but every so often, I decide to go crazy and make my nails really interesting. This holiday season, I spotted Sally Hanson’s Salon Effects nail polish strips in “Snow Bunny” and immediately had to get them. Though I love the pattern, I thought it be overwhelming to use the strips on all of my nails, so I decided to paint some nails pink with Essie’s “Raise Awareness Polish” (which by the way, is one of my absolute favorites!). As a final touch, I decided to add some sparkle with with Nail Bliss’ “Bling Nail Appliqués” because, after all, who doesn’t love a little sparkle? I’m kind of getting the urge to do my nails fancy again sometime soon, so let me know what you think!

Crazy, Colorful Cupcakes

When I saw this picture from Meadham Kirchhoff’s Spring 2011 collection on Tavi Gevinson’s blog, I was inspired to make some crazy, colorful cupcakes.

If you liked the first picture from the show, you should check out these links:

I love everything they make!

Mint Chocolate Chip

Today is my dad’s birthday, and he loves the combination of mint and chocolate, so this post is dedicated to him! I’ve made these mint chocolate chip cookies twice and both times they were a hit. I’m not the biggest fan of mint, but even I thought they were really good. If you want to try something a little different the next time you make cookies, check out this recipe. They’re just as easy to make as regular chocolate chip cookies, plus they’re a lot more unique.

Here’s the mint chocolate chip cookie dough:

 

The finished product:

And I’m just going to throw in a mint chocolate chip themed graham cracker too:

Happy Birthday Dad!

Fancy Animal Crackers

These were some of the easiest, cutest treats I’ve ever made! All I did was ice the backs of animal crackers with Wilton’s pink cookie icing and decorate them with sprinkles/chocolate chips/whatever toppings I had on hand. For such simple treats, these are surprisingly delicious. And since animal crackers are so small, you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating them!

If you don’t have animal crackers on hand, pieces of graham cracker work equally as well.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jacques Torres’s Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is amazing! I followed this recipe (with only one minor change) and made some of the best cookies my family has ever tasted. The one change I made was that I added even more than 2 pounds of chocolate to the cookie dough! I know that sounds crazy, but I love chocolate and wanted some in every bite. Rather than buy pre-cut morsels of chocolate, I bought two huge blocks of chocolate (one semi-sweet and one bitter-sweet) at Whole Foods and coarsely chopped them as the recipe suggests. One advantage of buying the blocks is that when you cut them, you get all of these chocolate shavings that you can throw into the cookie dough too. I like to think the shavings make the actual dough infused with chocolatey flavor.

Old Photos

These are some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken over the past few years:

And there will be many more pictures to come in the future!

Clothespin Frame

When I redecorated my room, there was a big empty space over my bed. I found a white clothespin frame at Pier 1 and filled it with things I made from leftover scrapbook paper and stickers.

Here are some of my favorite pieces inside:

The finished product:

No more empty space above the bed!

Mini Layer Cakes

Isn’t everything cuter when it’s mini?

A Colorful Cupcake

All you need is food coloring!