Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holidays

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I spent the weekend with family and it was wonderful. We made homemade pasta which may just be a new tradition for us! I am taking this week off from work and I am thinking alot about my New Years resolutions for 2012! Please check back January 1st as I begin blogging again about the designs that inspire me and some great DIY projects. I also have a few design projects to post and don't forget I am always available via email at and I am accepting design clients for January 2012. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes for the new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chocolate Cake Pops

 Merry Christmas Eve!


Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Cake Ball Mix

What you need
1 batch Dark Chocolate Cake
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon milk (or more, as necessary)

Bake the cake and let it cool completely on a rack. This is a very moist cake, which is ideal for this recipe. It's best to let it cool overnight at least. When it is completely cool, break the cake into a large bowl. Crumble it with forks or your fingers until it is in fine crumbs.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk together until smooth. Pour into the cake crumbs and mix with a spoon. Then continue mixing with your fingers, kneading and mixing until fully incorporated into the cake. Check to see if it will roll into a ball. It should: this makes a very malleable, easy-to-handle cake mixture. But if it needs a little extra moisture, add milk a spoonful at a time.
When the mix is completely done, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. You can leave the mix refrigerated for several days at this point. I left mine in the fridge for about three days before making the balls. You could probably also freeze this.

Making Cake Pops

What you need:
Lollipop sticks (found at Michael's, JoAnn's, or other craft stores)
12 ounces chocolate chips
12 ounces white chocolate bark
Edible wax, optional
Colored sugars, candies, and other decorative sprinkles

How to make the balls:
Prepare two large baking sheets by covering with wax paper or parchment. Take a bit of the cake mixture and roll it into a smooth ball. If you want to use the lollipop sticks, stick one into the end of each ball, pointing upward, as you put the ball back down on the sheet. [Note: I cut the long lollipop sticks in half; they seemed a little long for the size of the balls.] Repeat until you've used up all the mixture. As each sheet fills up, put it in the freezer so that the balls harden.

How to decorate the cake pops:
Melt chocolate or white chocolate in a double boiler on the stove. If you want to make the coating a little more resistant to melting, add a small square of wax to the pot and let it melt too. Stir well. Dip each ball into the chocolate until covered. Dip in sugar, coconut, sprinkles, or anything else you'd like to decorate with. Put it back on the sheet to harden.

Don't refrigerate these; it will cause the coating to weep or melt. They can be frozen, however.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Meals The Best of Nestle Kitchen.
Preparation Time: 20 mins - Cooking Time: 18 mins  - Cooling Time: 20 mins cooling - Makes 22 cupcakes


2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/3 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Baking Cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red gel-paste food coloring
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
4 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Candy sprinkles (optional)


For Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Paper-line 22 muffin cups.

Sift flour, baking cocoa and salt together into a medium bowl. 
Whisk together sugar, oil and eggs in large mixer bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in food coloring. Gradually stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk (adding flour in three additions and buttermilk in two). Combine baking soda and vinegar in small bowl (it will foam); quickly fold into batter. Divide batter between paper cups, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cupcake springs back when touched. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For cream cheese frosting:
Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy, scraping bowl occasionally. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes; decorate with sprinkles.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Truffle Pops

Via Dashing Dish


Recipe courtesy of Dashing Dish, healthy alternatives to the food you crave.

Ingredients:Gingerbread Truffle Pops:
  • 1 cup gingersnaps or gingerbread cookies
  • 4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
For Coating:
  • 1/4 cup sweetener
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate, melted for drizzling
  • 12 sucker sticks, or popsicle sticks
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper, or foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place cookies into food processor container, and pulse until cookies reach a fine crumb, (mixture will resemble a coarse meal.) Soften cream cheese in the microwave for 20 seconds, and mix with gingerbread cookie crumbs, sweetener, and cinnamon.
  3. Roll or scoop mixture into 1-inch balls. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sweetener to make the coating, and roll truffles in coating.  Place truffles on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Microwave white chocolate for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave an additional 15-30 seconds, or until chocolate is melted. Using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over the top of the truffles.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, or freeze for 15 minutes to allow truffle to set up a bit before placing sucker stick. Once truffle is firm enough to handle, gently press sucker stick in the center bottom of the truffle. Place pops in a decorative glass or jar. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
*Note: You may also skip the last step, and simple leave them as truffles!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Dark Chocolate Truffles

Happy Wednesday! Just a few days left until Christmas, I have family in town for the Holiday and I am taking a week off from work so I may be absent for a bit until the end of December. I wanted to post some photos of my Dark Chocolate Truffles that I made as gifts this Christmas. I found some sweet little boxes at a craft store and wrapped them up with a bow!

I found these cute Martha Stewart candy cups at a craft store and thought they were perfect!

(These truffles do not ship well and should be stored in the fridge or freezer so that they do not melt.)

I hope you are all having a great Holiday season and remember to slow down and enjoy the time spent with family and friends! I am so excited for my time off and I am still hoping for some snow...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lime Coconut Cookies

  • 2 Cups Basic Cookie Dough (See recipe below)
  • 6 Tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 Teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon water
  1. Shape 2 cups of Basic Cookie Dough into two 8-inch logs, roll in coconut and press coconut into dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment. 
  3. Cut each log into 16 slices.  Arrange 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until tops look done and coconut is golden brown.  Let cool on cookie sheet 3 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire rack; let cool completely.
  4. Combine sugar, lime juice and water in medium bowl. Whisk well to combine. Drizzle over tops of cookies.
Basic Cookie Dough:
  • 3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup (2 Sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt onto wax paper.
  2. Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar and beat with a mixer until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until evenly blended. Dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days. Makes about 4 cups dough.
Recipe by Jean Kressy courtesy of Relish.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hamptons Dream Home & Dark Chocolate Truffle Recipe

I can't believe Christmas is in less than 7 days! I still don't feel quite ready and I am really hoping for some snow to make it feel more like Christmas! I am also making yummy dark chocolate truffles today which always make it feel like the Holidays.

Today I wanted to feature a home designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects. Here are a few words taken from Alexander Gorlin Architects about the project: "Our recently completed 12,000 square foot summer house for a family of four in the East End of the Hamptons takes full advantage of its location between the bay and the ocean to offer views of both. With an emphasis on entertaining, the house includes guest suites, staff quarters, an outdoor pool and a rooftop terrace." Sounds amazing to me, I have family near the Hamptons, it is such a beautiful part of the country. I suggest that everyone visits
 Beautiful use of materials on the facade of the house!

The vaulted ceilings bring in even more light and the natural elements are calming. The interiors give the look of a beach house while not being themey.

I love the view-through fireplace and walls of floor to ceiling windows.

I would love to have this view from my dining room. All of the glossy surfaces and white reflects light making it feel even more open and airy. Those are the perfect pendants!

Check out that stairway and the amazing custom slab table.

High quality craftsmanship pays off in any project and durable materials last forever.

The drapery is installed in a track to hide the hardware and there are multiple layers of drapery so you can control the amount of light in a beautiful way!

The free-standing tub is gorgeous. I love how the wood paneling wraps into the interior of the space, creating a connection between the architecture and the interior design!

Wood paneled shower stalls is a perfect way to accommodate large number of guests.
Clerestory windows are perfect for a bathroom, they give privacy with tons of natural daylight.

A view through the entire house is such a great design and all of the windows bring in natural light and outdoors!

This boardwalk is fabulous, what an easy walk to the beach...
Chocolate Truffles...

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Truffles courtesy of Ghirardelli!
Yield: 30 Truffles
  • 1 3/4 cup(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup(s) Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1/3 cup(s) heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


    • In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the chocolate chips. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and pour into a shallow bowl.
    • Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, at least 2 hours.
    • Using a melon baller or small spoon, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in the cocoa. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
    • Note: The Unsweetened Cocoa can be replaced with 3/4 cup of chopped almonds or pecans.

    I have made these truffles many times and they are melt-in-your-mouth amazing! I am making them tonight and I will try to share more photos of mine later! Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cookie Of The Day: Glazed Lemon Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple.
Makes 48 cookies| Hands-On Time: 20m | Total Time: 1hr 45m



  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.
  2. Divide the dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oven to 350° F. Slice the logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.
    To wrap: Give a nut tin a second life. Wipe it clean with a damp towel, then peel off the label. Tie a bow with extra-wide ribbon to hide any glue remnants. Note: If nut allergies are a concern, use a coffee can instead.
    To freeze: Instead of refrigerating the dough, freeze the logs for up to 2 months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions, cutting and baking the dough from frozen, and use the upper end of the time range.
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marshmallow Chocolate Chunk Cookies

After sharing the Handmade Honey Marshmallow recipe from 33 Shades Of Green with you yesterday I thought it would be appropriate to share a cookie recipe that called for marshmallows! I found this on the Real Simple website and can't wait to try them. They seem really simple but oh so yummy!

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple.
Makes 44 cookies| Hands-On Time: 20m | Total Time: 1hr



  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and half the chocolate. Microwave on high, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth; let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in the marshmallows and the remaining chocolate. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Drop mounds of the dough (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until firm around the edges and cracked on the tops, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Creative DIY Wrapping Paper & Homemade Honey Vanilla Marshmallows

With a little imagination you can create unique one of a kind wrapping paper for your Christmas gifts this year. All you need is: brown parcel paper, old maps, newspaper, book pages, fabric, festive ribbon, twine or string and sparkly embellishments. You can add intrigue to brown or white parcel paper using a home made potato or celery stamp or create a one of a kind print with a spruce tree sprig dipped in paint. Once you have designed your paper, add twine or ribbon and use floral wire to attach holly sprigs, berries, seasonal greenery or brightly colored buttons.

Here are some examples of homemade Christmas wrapping paper found on Pinterest.

A creative use for butcher paper, sewing tape and a white pen!

 Maps and red ribbon...

Use newspaper and embellish it with ribbon and a colorful homemade gift tag.

 You can use the pages from a dictionary and choose words that you wish to present on top of the gift.


Sheet music...

Tear out a crossword puzzle or print one off the internet.

Pretty pieces of fabric remnants...

You can use store bought stamps or you can make them yourself!

This rose pattern is created by cutting the end of a bunch of celery and using it as a stamp. 
I think it is such a great idea and it makes an amazing print!
Instructions found here.

 Personalize your ribbon with a rubber stamp. This ribbon is so simply beautiful!

Instead of a cookie...
Today I wanted to share a recipe with you for Handmade Honey Vanilla Marshmallows from Alissa over at 33 Shades Of Green. I have always wanted to make marshmallows and I am excited to try this recipe, click Here to see the full recipe. Check out 33 Shades Of Green blog for lots of delicious recipes and some creative design ideas, I love the gift tags she designed for the marshmallows, so unique!

Image courtesy of 33 Shades Of Green.
This weekend I will be wrapping up all of my last minute Christmas shopping and am excited to share photos of the presents under the tree next week! Have a happy and safe weekend and don't forget to indulge in your favorite Holiday treats,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookie Of The Day: Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.


  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop bittersweet chocolate into small bits, and melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk until just combined. Divide the dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. On a clean countertop, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. Using your hands, roll the pieces into a ball shape. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake until cookies have flattened and the sugar splits, 12 to15 minutes.
  4. Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread & A Holly Wreath

Today was a beautiful day; sunny, blue skies and 28 degrees! I am so lucky to have a gorgeous holly tree in my backyard so today I trimmed some holly branches and used some of our remaining Christmas fir tree trimmings to make a wreath for our front door. Wreaths are an easy DIY that people often overlook. Here are the materials you need to make a wreath: 18" double wire wreath frame, green floral wire, pruning sheers, wire cutters and 6" holly & evergreen boughs.
 Our holly tree...

The frost was so beautiful, it looks like snow.


I like to trim the leaves off some of the holly branches.

 First I attach the fir boughs to the wreath frame to give the wreath a solid and full base.

 Then begin attaching the holly around the wreath equally, for a balanced look.

And here it is!

I ran out of thick ribbon so I used a small piece to hang the wreath on my front door. There are also very nice metal wreath hangers at craft stores that are very nice too!

I love making wreaths and recommend you try it too! Nothing says welcome more than a wreath hanging on the front door (especially a candy apple red door!).

Cookie Of The Day: Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Recipe courtesy of Annie's Eats.
For the shortbread layer:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling 
Yield: about 5 dozen small bars

  • To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325° F.  
  • Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden.  (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  
  • To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.  Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)
  • To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.  Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.  

Have a wonderful Wednesday!