Friday Favorites | No. 14

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's Friday again folks! On the work front, the spring semester is coming to a close today which means that campus will be very quiet for the next couple of months. Come August...that will all change so I am going to make sure to enjoy my summer months and free weekends!

Here are my top five moments from this past week:

1. Since I have started seriously working out again, I thought it would a good idea to have something that would track my progress as well as motivate me to keep working out and achieving my goals. So Saturday I went out and purchased the Fitbit One! It does all the things above plus tracks my sleep patterns. Its a pretty nifty little tool and I am totally loving it.

2. On Sunday my mom made a tomato and mozzarella tart with fresh basil from America's Test Kitchen. It was amazing and we will definitely be making this again during the summer.

3. I have been on such a smoothie kick lately and can't get over how good this Orange Julius smoothie is. Tastes exactly like a Creamsicle and brings me right back to summers as a kid.

4. The weather in the evenings this week has just been perfection! I have been taking full advantage of it by going on long walks with Jasper and eating dinner out on the patio.

5. My co-workers and I (far left) enjoyed a little post-stadium run football on the field early Thursday morning. Love the perks of working in college athletics.

What will you be up to this weekend? Tell me about it below!

Cherry Danish Bars

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day. I love it because you can chose to have something sweet, savory, or both! Most mornings I make myself a smoothie or munch on granola bar with a cup of coffee. Nothing too special or earth shattering, but it gets the job done.

Sometimes though, you have to switch things up. And that is just what I did for breakfast the other morning!

Cherry Danish Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 (21oz.) cans cherry pie filling

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then grease a 15x10x1 inch baking sheet and set aside.

In a standard mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt until fluffy. Then add one egg at a time, making sure to beat in well before adding the next one. Mix in the vanilla bean paste and fiori di Sicilia. Lastly, add two cups of flour and baking powder until no traces of flour remain. It will resemble a thick cake batter consistency.

Take 2 ½ cups of the batter and spread out evenly with a large offset spatula onto the greased baking sheet. If the batter is sticking to the spatula, spray the back of it with a little cooking oil.

Follow by spreading the 2 cans of cherry pie filling over the batter. Drop the remaining batter by the spoonful over the cherry filling and bake til golden brown for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the baking sheet cools on a wire rack, start making the vanilla glaze. In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk, then whisk until smooth. Drizzle the vanilla glaze over the top of the bars and allow to set. Using a knife, cut the Danish into bars and serve! 

The cake-like bottom layer and top is so moist and full of vanilla citrus flavor from the addition of the fiori di Sicilia. It really elevates the Danish and pairs so well with the cherry filling and sweetness of the glaze. This is definitely the perfect treat to make for a lazy weekend morning breakfast!

Slightly adapted from Inspired By Charm

Orange Julius Smoothie

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nothing says "good morning" like a nice tall glass of orange juice! It starts the day off on the right foot and gives your body a great boost of vitamin C.

But lets be honest, regular OJ can get a little mundane. So the other day I decided to refresh my morning juice routine and make an Orange Julius smoothie. This cold, frothy and creamy smoothie is very simple to make and tastes just like the version you would pick up at the mall.

Orange Julius Smoothie

{yield: 2}

1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup water
8 ice cubes

Place all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth and frothy. Pour into glasses, add a couple of fun straws and enjoy!

Friday Favorites | No. 13

Friday, April 18, 2014

So here we are again...

Can you believe its Friday already? I sure can't. This week flew by and I'm not sure why, as it was a pretty uneventful on my end. But I guess uneventful is a good thing sometimes. I am sure come August with the start of school and football season, I will be wishing my weeks were uneventful!

Here is a look back at my top five (small) moments of the week:

1. With Easter coming up on Sunday, I have been busy this week planning our family brunch with my mom and cannot wait to make and photograph all of our appetizers, sides, main dishes and dessert! What will you all be up to for the holiday?

2. I had a lot of fun adding a little flair to my favorite holiday candy Peeps on Tuesday.

3. I went and did a little shopping on Wednesday for an upcoming baby shower I am attending. I found out that anything in baby size (i.e. socks, outfits, hats) is just absolutely adorable and I wanted to buy the whole store!

4. I found this watermelon mojito recipe from Martha Stewart yesterday. Just sounds like summer in a glass and I cannot wait to try it out tomorrow!

5. I have finally had time this week to catch up on a lot of recorded TV shows that were on my DVR....its the little things that make me happy!

Hope you all have a great weekend and a Happy Easter!

Marshmallow Bunny Bark

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We are hosting Easter brunch at our house this year and I am really excited because my cousin Karina will be in port and can celebrate Easter with the family! Karina is an amazing figure skater and retired from competition last year. She is now a skater for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  Every other Saturday or Sunday she ports in Ft. Lauderdale and drives down to spend the day with family; the rest of the time she is out to sea traveling to the different ports of call in the Caribbean.

Karina loves all things related to candy or sweets. I usually send Karina back on the ship with some type of goodie like rice krispy treats or macaroons. Last Easter I made her these adorable marshmallow bunny macaroons to share with her cast members on the ship.

This year I decided to make her and our family members marshmallow bunny bark to take with them after brunch. The sweet white chocolate pairs so nicely with salty pretzels and soft bunny mallows. This is a treat that definitely has something for everyone!

Marshmallow Bunny Bark

1 lbs. white chocolate candy melts
1/2 cup pretzels
1/2 cup spring M&Ms
A handful of mini bunny marshmallows
Assortment of sprinkles or jimmies

In a microwave safe bowl, break up the white chocolate and microwave for 30 seconds at at time; stir after each heating until fully melted. This process for me only took a minute total.

Take a cookie sheet and line with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate and spread evenly with an offset spatula.

Now comes the fun part! Sprinkle the M&Ms and pretzels over the chocolate.

Then add the mini bunny mallows to the white chocolate and finish with decorative sprinkles. I pressed the bunnies down with a little pressure to make sure they really stuck to the chocolate.

Place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Then take a knife and gently cut the bark into small pieces. Feel free to break up the bark by hand if you are making this with small children.

This marshmallow bunny bark would be a great addition to anyone's Easter basket, goodie bag or just placed in a bowl on your table for guest (and yourself) to munch on during the day. I packaged mine up in decorative paper bags and added a little edible grass on the bottom to act as a cushion for the bark.

I have a pretty good feeling that Karina will love this little extra Easter treat that she can enjoy back on the ship. Well...that's if she doesn't eat it on the drive back to port first!

White Chocolate Peeps

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Peeps are probably my favorite Easter candy. There is just something about the soft marshmallow and the super fine sugar that just are so perfect together. They are my weakness.

During the Easter holiday, I really enjoy giving boxes of Peeps to family and friends. This year I thought that it would be fun to spruce up the chicks a bit with white chocolate and sprinkles before I handed them out. The end result was so cute and really elevated the average run of the mill Peep into something special!

White Chocolate Peeps

{yields: 15}

White chocolate candy melts
1 box (15) of Peeps chicks
Assorted Easter or spring sprinkles or jimmies

The first step to creating the white chocolate Peeps is to resist the urge to eat the entire box (I found that keeping the Peeps wrapped until you are about to dip helped a lot with that).

In a microwave safe bowl, add the white chocolate and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, string after each heating until fully melted. Allow the chocolate to cool for a couple of minutes while you get the sprinkles and Peeps set up for the assembly line.

Take a single Peep and dip the bottom into the chocolate and tap off any extra. Then place in the sprinkles and roll around until the white chocolate is covered.

Place the Peep on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to set for 30 minutes. To speed up this process, place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Once the chocolate is set, remove from the cookie sheet as these little chicks are ready for packaging!

The options are really endless on how to package the Peeps up. You could place some in a clear goodie bag tied with a bright ribbon or stack them up in a Mason jar. I placed mine in a small wooden crate I found in the dollar bin at target and nestled three to four Peeps in edible grass with a couple chocolate eggs. I love the way they turned out!

But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how they are packaged. The people who receive them are going to be so impressed with the treats, that they won't be able to resist eating them!

Friday Favorites | No. 12

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ah we meet again...HAPPY FRIDAY everyone!

Hope you are all looking forward to the weekend. I will be busy working our spring football game and softball series Saturday and Sunday. I will be outside and its looking like we will have some beautiful non-humid weather...I guess that's not too bad!

I did have a really good week, so I can't complain too much about not having the weekend off. Lets check out my top five moments:

1. On Friday of last week, I got to spend the day at South Beach cheering on the sand volleyball team during their annual Surf & Turf tournament. We had beautiful weather, watched some great volleyball and I didn't get sunburned! It was a great day.

2. I was invited to go and see the 2014 Stars on Ice show on Saturady night. I had so much fun watchign Team USA skaters like 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Wagner along with 2014 Olympic champion ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis.

3. I made a lemon blueberry clafoutis this week and as always, it was a major hit with my family. 

4. Tim and I went to see the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Florida Panthers. We had a fun little date night and the Flyers won (yay!), 5-2.

5. I have been working out really early in the mornings before work and I am actually enjoying it (I can't believe I am saying that)! I captured this amazing sunrise coming up over the Miami skyline Thursday morning while working out at the football stadium.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at my top five movements. Enjoy your weekend! 

Family Recipes

Thursday, April 10, 2014

One of the best things about having this little blog is that I get a chance to share my family recipes with all of you. Most have been handed down from generation to generation and my favorite to make have to be the dessert and pastry recipes (shocking, right?!). However, there are a lot of great savory dishes that I love as well. I guess you can say that I am pretty lucky to have such great role models in the kitchen!

I recently noticed that some of the older recipe cards in my families collection are starting to deteriorate due to old age. So the other day I took some time to sit down and re-write them.

I found these decorative index cards at Target and just simply copied the recipe down onto the new card and placed them in a small box for easy access in the kitchen.

I had a lot of fun doing this project and hope that it will inspire you to talk with your family members and document treasured family recipes. 

Lemon Blueberry Clafoutis

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

With spring officially here, I am leaning more and more towards making lighter desserts. The french custard-like dessert clafoutis (pronounced clah-foo-TEE) is perfect to make when you are looking for something simplistic to showcase fresh in-season fruit.

Clafoutis is traditionally made with black cherries, but do to the flavor of the batter, you can really add any type of fruit or fruit combination that you would like. I chose to add fresh lemon and juicy blueberries because I knew it would pair so very nicely with the creamy vanilla bean batter. 

Lemon Blueberry Clafoutis

{yield: 8 servings}

3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup fresh blueberries

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and use a non-stick spray to coat a 9 inch cake pan, then set aside. Using a standard mixer with the whisk attachment, add the three eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth.

Take a lemon and rinse it under water. Dry with towel and use a microplane to zest making sure to stop before the pith as it can be bitter. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze out 1 tablespoon of juice. Be sure to remove any seeds.

In a separate bowl, add the heavy cream, fresh lemon zest, juice and vanilla bean paste and whisk until combined.

Add the cream batter to the egg batter and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour into the cake pan and sprinkle the top evenly with fresh blueberries.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned and a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. Since this is a custard-like dessert, the middle will be a little wiggly.

Allow the clafoutis to cool on a wire rack. It will deflate a little as it cools. Before serving, dust the top with a little powdered sugar or leave it just as it is.

This is great to serve at the end of an Easter brunch or a dinner party as it wont weigh down your guest after a meal like a layered cake might. If you are not a fan of blueberries feel free to experiment with other fruit combinations. The options are really endless for this rustic french dessert!

Friday Favorites | No. 11

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yay! Its finally Friday. This was a calm week to what my schedule usually is like, but a good week none the less. I have linked up with Lauren today to share my top five moments. So with out further ado...

1. Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day with great weather. I got a chance to snap this photo of the softball game I was working and am so grateful that I get to call this work.

2. Jasper also enjoyed the weather on Sunday afternoon while I took him on a walk around the lake.

3. My mom's birthday was on Tuesday and we went out to dinner to celebrate. The meal started off with pineapple-blueberry margaritas with chips and salsa. Delish!

4. For dessert we went home and had the individual banana caramel cream pies that I made on the blog this week. They are so good and so easy to make!

5. Today I will be at South Beach cheering on our sand volleyball team during their annual beach tournament. Again, someone pinch me...this is my job.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments below. 

You all have a great weekend! :) 

Individual Banana Caramel Cream Pies

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Today’s recipe is not a ground breaking dessert, but it sure is a delicious. I upgraded the classic banana cream pie for my mom’s birthday yesterday. Creamy vanilla pudding, buttery graham cracker crumbles, ripe bananas and caramel sauce sure sounds likes a sweet way to end a birthday dinner to me!

I know what you are thinking though. Pie for a birthday? Birthdays and cake go hand in hand with each other. 

However, my mom loves pie. I love it too (what can I say; I am my mother’s daughter) and figured that she probably wouldn't mind blowing out her candles on a pie this year.

And I was right! She loved it. I loved it. The rest of the family loved it. I am sure you will love it too. So head to the store and pick up these simple ingredients and you will be well on your way to creating a crowd pleasing dessert!

Banana Caramel Cream Pudding

{yield: 6 servings}

Vanilla Pudding:
1 package (5.01oz ) vanilla instant pudding & pie filling
3 cups cold milk

Graham Cracker Crumble: 
2 ½ cups crushed graham crackers 
4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 ripe bananas, sliced
½ cup caramel sauce
whipped cream (for garnish)

For the pudding, add 3 cups of cold milk to the vanilla pudding mixture and whisk for 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely set, about 5-10 minutes. I used instant pudding to save time, but you could make the pudding from scratch as well.

The graham cracker crumble is very simple to make. In a food processor, add graham crackers and blend until you have roughly 2 ½ cups of crumbs. In a separate bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and then combine with the graham cracker crumbs.

Spread crumbs onto a small cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 -12 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown. Allow crumbs to cool completely.

To assemble, start with 6 Mason jars or small parfait cups. If you do not have any, you can make this in a trifle bowl or large baking dish. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the graham cracker crumble into the bottom of the 6 jars.

Then using a large cookie scoop, add the vanilla pudding over top of the crumble and spread out evenly.

Top the vanilla pudding with a  layer of sliced banana and drizzle with sweet caramel sauce.

Repeat this process one more time with the 4 ingredients.

Finishing the individual pies with a third and final layer of the graham cracker crumble.

Refrigerate for at 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and another drizzle of caramel sauce. Due to the bananas in the pie, this dessert is best served on the same day as making.

A great way to store these babies is just by popping the tops of the Mason jar back on and placing in the fridge until ready to serve. 

This is also great if you are making them at home and bringing them to a friend or family members house. Just twist off the tops and serve with a spoon!

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