Chocolate Toffee Truffle Cupcakes

Chocolate Toffee Truffle Cupcakes, Ganache Filled, Vanilla Bean Buttercream, Curly Girl KitchenWhen it comes to cake decorating, I far prefer working with tall, elegant layer cakes over cupcakes, but sometimes an idea just seems to work better in cupcake form.  Not to mention, it's good practice to pipe on all that buttercream and try out different techniques with piping tips I rarely use.  Although, admittedly, I still tend to stick with the ones I've mastered.

Easter Bunny Coconut Cake and Decoupaged Eggs

Easter Bunny Coconut CakeOur baby is too little for an Easter basket, but in a year or two, it will be so much fun to start our own Easter traditions with him, with egg hunts in the back yard, decorating Easter eggs, baking a cute bunny cake together, and seeing him wake up to a little basket of treats and toys at the foot of his bed.

For this year's Easter cake, I decided on a more simple and elegant design for a bunny cake, and I just adore how it turned out.  I started by baking my white chocolate coconut pound cake and frosted it with fluffy almond buttercream and toasted coconut...

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles
Our apple tree is in full bloom, and every gust of wind sends a sprinkling of white petals over the grass.  I so wish that the tree produced apples; how fun would it be to pick apples in the fall in our own backyard?

After the chill of morning wears off, I take our baby outside to inspect the progress of all our trees and plants, and he wants to touch everything he can reach.  The blooms on the lilac bushes are getting ready to open, and the rhubarb, sage and parsley are poking through the dirt in the small corner garden...

A Half Birthday

Six Month Baby Photos, Baby Boy, Birthday, Cake, Balloon, PolkadotWho would have thought so much could change in six months?  But that's all it's taken for the tiny little baby we brought home to grow into such a sweet little boy with the most adorable squeaky giggle and happy, silly personality.

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Tart
Pi Day dawned bright and sunny, and I realized I didn't have the ingredients on hand for a new cream pie I had been planning to make and surprise my husband with that evening, so I inspected the fridge and pantry to see what I might come up with...  We always have butter, sugar and flour, of course.  Bittersweet chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and luckily, cream.  And with just those few ingredients, this tart was born.

Lemon Pie, Cherry Filled Cupcakes, and Raspberries...

Lemon PieAfter more than two months of sewing like mad to get my Etsy shop up and running, I'm taking a little break to catch up on other projects.  I never stop baking, or dreaming of what I want to bake, but not everything I make ends up on this blog, either because I'm not satisfied with the recipe, or I feel uninspired by the photos I take, or I simply don't have time to put together the post.  The thing that makes me the most frustrated, though, is when I love the photos, but the recipe was just not quite right, which is what happened with this lemon pie...

Beauty and the Beast Cake

Beauty and the Beast CakeBeauty and the Beast is my most beloved of the classic Disney movies.  The music, the choreography, the characters, her dress, his giving her a library as a gift ... it's all so wonderful.

I've loved it since I was a little girl, and I'm so excited to see the new live version with Emma Watson.  This was the opening weekend for the movie, and although I wasn't able to go see it yet, I did make a cake to celebrate...

Cinnamon and Sugar Biscuit Doughnuts with Bourbon Dulce De Leche Sauce

Cinnamon and Sugar Biscuit Doughnuts with Bourbon Dulce De Leche SauceIf there's anything my husband loves more than doughnuts, it's freshly churned ice cream served with doughnuts.  Doughnut making requires time, though, and we definitely have less of that these days.

But other than quickly baked cake doughnuts, these biscuit doughnuts are about as easy as it gets when it comes to doughnut making.  Rather than a yeasted dough that needs time to proof and rise, these are made with the same recipe I've used countless times for my most perfect baking powder biscuits.  The dough comes together in less than five minutes, and needs no time to rest or rise... 

Classic Crispy Waffles

Classic Crispy Waffles
It's taken me quite a bit of recipe testing to come up with a recipe for waffles that I think is practically perfect.  Over the years, I've served my husband far too many soft, limp waffles that were essentially just waffle-shaped pancakes, and he ate them without complaint, but I knew they were all wrong.  Now, I love a stack of light, fluffy pancakes drenched in pure maple syrup, but not when what I want is a waffle that's golden and crisp on the outside and fluffy inside..

Purple Sweet Potato Cake

Pink Birthday CakeOne would think that if you roast purple sweet potatoes until soft and tender, blend them into a silky smooth puree and bake them in a cake, that said cake would emerge from the oven a delightful violet color, or maybe a purply pink.  But one would be wrong.

In fact, while the cake batter went into the oven purple, the baked cakes emerged a bizarre green color.  I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing there was some sort of oxidation effect during the baking process that was to blame... 

Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Granola Bars, paleo, gluten freeGranola bars and cereal bars were a pantry staple when I was a kid, but unfortunately, most store-bought granola bars are so full of added sugar and chemicals that they are nowhere near to being a healthy breakfast or snack.

These chewy granola bars are not only good for you, but so easy to make.  I plan to keep these on hand from now on, and when our baby is big enough, these will make a wonderful healthy snack for him, too.

Mix it up with some dried fruit or natural, unsweetened coconut, cashews or almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc., and the variations are endless...

We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake

We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake for Valentine's DayHappy Valentine's Day!

When I was in high school, I remember that my mom would leave a little note and present for my sister, brother and I to find when we woke up on Valentine's Day.  She would tell us how much she loved us, and the present was something simple and inexpensive, but something we would like.  I remember getting a cute little pin to wear to school one year.

Valentine's Day isn't just for sweethearts, but for everyone we love, and not that we need a day to remind us to tell the people closest to us how special they are, but it is a holiday I enjoy celebrating.  I especially like making everything into hearts.  Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast today, anyone?

Valentine Baby

Valentine's Day Baby Boy PhotographyOur baby is sick this week with his first cold, likely caught from someone at last weekend's Super Bowl party, on top of which, he had his four-month vaccinations and we suspect he may be teething, all of which seems to be upsetting his stomach.  He's thrown up all over me three times in two days, so we've had a bit of a rough week.  It breaks my heart to see him sniffling and coughing and not be able to do anything to make him more comfortable other than cuddle and kiss him.  I so want for him to quickly get back to his happy little self.

After the series of Christmas photos I took of our baby boy, I thought I might try to set up a fun little photo shoot of him for all of his first holidays this year...

Rhubarb Crumble and Custard

Rhubarb Crumble and CustardIt's no secret that I love Harry Potter; after all, I did name my baby Phoenix.  I didn't read the books when I was young, and it wasn't until I met my husband when I was 30 that I watched and fell in love with the movies, after which, I read through the whole series in a few months.

I never get tired of the movies, and even though we have them on DVD, any time I'm flipping channels and one happens to be playing, I have to tune in to that channel, even if it's just to listen to in the background.  I think that the Sorcerer's Stone and the Half-Blood Prince are my favorites (although their escape from and subsequent rescue of the captive dragon from Gringotts in The Deathly Hallows tops my list of favorite scenes), and even after seeing them dozens of times, I still tear up every time Harry gazes out the window of his bedroom his first night in the castle and feels happy and at home for the first time in his life.

It always seems to be Christmas, too, in Harry Potter world, which makes me adore the stories even more.  And because my husband knows me so well, for Christmas he gave me this, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  There are so many tempting, from-scratch English recipes for foods that were featured throughout the books, and they're accompanied by fun little quotes or excerpts from that particular chapter, which remind me again of just how much more detail the books contain that the movies don't.

One recipe that stood out to me right away, and was the first one we tried, was for Rhubarb Crumble with Custard...

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon Bananas

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon BananasOatmeal is one of the few cooked breakfasts I remember eating growing up.  Usually, there was cold cereal or pop tarts, instant oatmeal or cream of wheat, sometimes frozen waffles or scrambled eggs and hot buttered toast and jam, and on special occasions, pancakes or french toast with syrup and fruit.  But maybe once a week or so, on cold winter mornings, my mom would cook oatmeal before we left for school...

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond Chocolate Chip CookiesSo many times, I've almost bought a cute little cookie jar to keep on the counter - Target had one a few years ago that I seriously contemplated - but I don't make cookies often enough to really warrant keeping a container around just to store them.  A cookie jar is a bit of a one-trick pony, like a garlic press, which I also don't own, because why would I want another gadget to take up valuable space in the kitchen drawers when a knife chops garlic just fine?

I daydream about cookies.  As much as I love to bake and decorate (and taste) cakes, it's a cookie that I want in the afternoons with a second cup of coffee, so it's really a good thing that we don't often have them in the house, or I'd probably eat cookies every day...

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins
It didn't really feel like winter yet, not to me, at least, until yesterday.  In the winter months, Colorado is prettiest when it snows, because when the snow melts, everything is dry and brown until spring, so I prefer winters here to be white.

We've had a few scattered snowstorms over the past couple of months, although, disappointingly, not for Christmas.  Other than that, the days have been sunny and mild.  I suppose it's better for our heating bill, but just as I was longing for a gray, gloomy, chilly day, the snow came...

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Blueberry Orange Muffins
Muffins are probably my favorite breakfast food, and have been since I was little.  They're simple, sweet and cakey, which is probably why I like them so much.  And although there's something to be said for the delayed gratification of fancier breakfasts, I love making quick breads, since they're ready with minimal fuss, 20 minutes or so after mixing up the batter.

During Christmas vacation, each morning I made something special for breakfast, cinnamon rolls filled with homemade peach jam, waffles arranged like Christmas trees and dusted with powdered sugar, homemade pop tarts, pumpkin coffee cake, and these muffins...

Butter Pecan Pound Cake

Butter Pecan Pound Cake
When Christmas is over, I feel a little let down, while at the same time relieved to take down the tree and decorations and tidy up the house.  With Christmas put away, everything feels clean and uncluttered, which is exactly how a new year should feel...