Thursday, February 27, 2014

An update.

I miss this blog. I have been having major spam issues that I can't fix. I haven't decided if I am going to abandon it, and start over, or keep trying to fix it. Either way, I miss blogging.
Blogger Tricks

Monday, April 29, 2013

Easter 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coconut Cream Bars!

We first tried a version of these Coconut Cream Bars at a family reunion last summer and were hooked immediately. It's so simple to make, and it's rich, creamy, coconut perfection. You could also serve this as a pudding just by leaving it whole. I couldn't even wait until it had cooled. As soon as it came out of the oven, I was shoving a piece into my mouth.

Coconut Cream Bars
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3 cups whole milk
3 tbs. room temperature butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream softened butter and sugar in mixes. Leaving the mixer on, add eggs. Once combined, add coconut. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour and milk until well mixed. Grease a 13X9 baking dish and pour mixture in. It should be very thin. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Eton Mess!

Sometime last week, Eton Mess popped into my head randomly. I'd never had it before, but suddenly it was all I wanted. Eton Mess is an English dessert made of delicate meringues, fresh fruit and heavenly whipped cream. Seriously, is there anything better than fresh whipped cream? We decided to make our own meringues, and spent last Sunday discovering how absolutely perfect this dessert is.

Eton Mess

For the meringues:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of Cream of Tartar

 Preheat oven to lowest setting (between 175F and 200F).
Spray baking sheet/s with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature. In a stand or hand mixer, beat egg whites on low until they become frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat on medium until egg whites for soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually. Beat on high until egg whites form stiff peaks.
Transfer egg whites to pastry bag (we cut the end off of a food storage bag), add a tip, and  pipe swirls onto the baking sheet. Bake for two 90 minutes to 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave meringues in there until oven has completely cooled. This helps them dry.

For the Fruit (the possibilities are endless):
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup blueberries
2 tbs. sugar

Combine fruit in bowl with sugar. Mix and set aside or place in refrigerator.

For the Whipped Cream:
1 pint heavy cream
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients and mix on high until cream has thickened and becomes stiff.

In a large bowl, break up meringues into small pieces, add whipped cream and fruit, leaving a little to pour over top. Mix gently until ingredients are combined. Top with leftover fruit.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sour Cream Apple Pie: A Love Story

In celebration of National Pi Day, we wanted to share our favorite pie with you. I found it online a few years ago and it is amazing. We've made it with peaches during the summer months and it was just as delicious.  When we took that first fateful bite, it evoked the feeling of first love. We wanted to make it mixed tapes and walk it home from school. We wanted to pick the neighbor's flowers for it and stand under it's bedroom window with a boom box blasting Peter Gabriel. We wanted to bring it home past curfew and not eat or sleep for weeks after it's parents forbid it to ever see us again. We wanted to, years later, get choked up whenever we randomly hear American Pie in a convenience store/elevator/traffic jam. We wanted to remember it as a beautiful moment frozen in time, when we're old and gray we'll know that that's the one that got away. It's THAT good! Now you know you want the recipe.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (adapted from Bon Appetit)

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. flour

1 1/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4-5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Pie Crust (Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee) 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
  2. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the topping, in a bowl blend the butter, sugar, cinnamon and flour until the mixture is well combined. (for this I used my favorite tool, my hands.). Cover and chill the topping.

To make the filling, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and flour until the mixture is smooth. Add the thinly sliced apples and stir the apples into the filling. Mix well.
Spoon the filling into the chilled shell and crumble the topping evenly over it.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet in the middle of the preheated oven for 1 hour to1 hour and fifteen minutes. 

Plate a sheet of foil over the top of the pie during the last 15 minutes to prevent the top from burning. Transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely.

Get out your Lisa Frank stationary, spray it with Jean Nate, and be prepared to write it love notes.
Cut yourself a piece. Love it, and don't ever let it go.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The first time I saw Paris.

Click for item details: The first time I saw Paris.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A very sad Lush review.

Lush Geo Phyzz Bath Bomb
I really don't know where to begin with this one. In my mind, I had envisioned this post as going a completely different route. After reading so much about Lush products over the years, we had been dying to try the delicious looking bath bombs and bubble bars. Unfortunately there wasn't a Lush store in our area.
A few months ago, we noticed that all of our favorite YouTube beauty channels had at least one Lush review. After watching all of them and deciding that we could wait no longer, I did what I do best.
I went to their website and researched the hell out of them. I fell in love with their company. I loved how personal it seemed, was charmed by the fact that they don't use packaging in-store, made googly eyes at the products and made up my mind to order some online.

I decided to do one more search for a nearby store and as luck would have it, one had opened in Providence. For the next couple of days, I planned our shopping trip. I wanted to try their face masks, shampoo, bath bombs, bubble bars, bath melts and massage bars. I even picked out specific products after reading descriptions and online reviews. Everything was beautiful and promising. Within days we were walking through the Providence Place Mall, barely able to contain ourselves.

Lush You've Been Mangoed Bath Melt
When we spotted the Lush store, it was as if we had spotted an oasis in the desert. Lots of  "Oh my God! There it is!" and "I can't wait!" were exchanged in the thirty seconds it took us to reach it. We expected the store to smell like what we imagine a Parfumerie in Heaven would smell like.
Before we even stepped one foot inside of the store, a sign that something was horribly wrong hit us. The smell. The awful, unforgettable, migraine inducing smell. Like if there was a star made up of hippies and then that star collapsed in on itself and formed a super concentrated black hole and you could smell it as you were getting spaghettified, that's what Lush smells like.
We ignored it and pressed on. We were greeted by really friendly employees and we made our way to the bath bombs. I still had the highest of hopes. Maybe the individual products wouldn't smell like the store did. Nope. I was wrong. For two people who had planned on buying half of the store, we could not for the life of us decide on one single bath bomb. We split up and moved on.
It was at this time that I noticed everyone touching everything. Specifically, what I had found so lovely online was actually kind of gross in person. No packaging means that the bath melt you're going to use on your bare skin, has already been handled by countless people. For me, it was like all of those faceless people washing their hands in my bathwater. If that doesn't bother you, I wish I was you. I'm a legit germaphobe.
We went around and around without choosing any products. The freshly made face masks looked old, the shampoo smelled horribly, the super cute seasonal bubble bars smelled worse. I wanted to take to my bed in a fit of despair, but since Jane Austen is not writing my life, I just kept calm and carried on.

Lush Sunny Side Bubble Bar
When we finally reconvened, the only thing we could utter was, "Uhhhhh..." and finally, "Yo, this place stinks!". Of course, all of this was whispered, it wasn't Lush's fault that I had built them up in my mind only to be met with bitter disappointment. We decided we had been there long enough and it was now time to actually buy something. We bought something (even though we hated how almost everything smelled) because we wanted to give Lush a fair chance of winning us over. Maybe the products would be amazing once we used them, maybe they would smell delicious when coupled with water. I don't like to make up my mind about something until I've fully explored it.
After a demonstration from one of the salesgirls of the Lush Sunny Side Bubble Bar, we decided to buy a few of those. We also bought the Geo Phyzz Bath Bomb and the You've Been Mangoed Bath Melt, which was the only item I had actually planned to purchase, though I was very disappointed by its scent.
We bout the same products for my sister. Our total was a little over fifty dollars.
Here's where they lost me forever. In front of us in line was a child with a woman who was buying her lip balm. The cashier convinced them to buy something or other at the register and stuffed her large, paper bag full of samples. When it was our turn to pay, we declined the up-sell, got an attitude, and were handed our little bags (the ones you see in the photos). We just took them and left.
Sorry, but you can't blame that on not wanting to use packaging as a lip balm was just unnecessarily placed in a giant bag.
As we were walking to the car, we became more and more annoyed at the service we had just received. We were nothing but nice while we were there and no, there is no delusion there whatsoever. Even if we had been rude, we just spent fifty dollars in your store! We were so depressed and angry that we didn't even stop in at Sephora. If you know us, you know exactly how angry and sad we must have been to skip out on our favorite place.
When we got home and tried the products, we were more disappointed than ever. Though the bath bombs left our skin feeling soft, it was certainly nothing to write home about. The smell was just as bad outside of the store and we still have some of the bubble bar left over. My sister was also not impressed with their products and she wasn't at the store with us, so her opinion was as unbiased as it comes. 
There is good that came out of that excursion. We were so incensed by being treated so dismissively and so disappointed with their products that the same weekend, we learned to make our own organic bath products which our friends and family love.
I still wish I had fallen head over heals in love with their products and there is a good chance that we'll give it another go in the future, but for now, we'll happily use our own products which don't come with attitude and smell heavenly. 

Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables.

We had this for dinner tonight and OMG, it was sooo good and light and deceptively spicy. I will admit now that I am not so good at making any type of Asian or Asian inspired food, which is a shame because Korean food is our favorite. We've been slowly getting better. Stir Fry was pretty much a staple of last year's dinner menus. The more we try, the better we get. We recently made scallion pancakes and pot stickers that did not make me want to cry.
We were very happy with the way these noodles turned out. It was our first time cooking with rice noodles and I plan on stocking up this weekend. The only thing I would do differently would be to make less. I made enough food for three days worth of meals. Also, a lot of sweet and spicy recipes call for sugar, but I have this weird thing about adding sugar to fruit and vegetables so I used honey instead.

Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables
 vegetable or olive oil
1 pound of shrimp
1 package of rice noodles
1 onion
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 carrots
1 1/2 cup of mushrooms
1 cup of bell peppers
1 1/2 cups of broccoli
Korean Sweet and Spicy sauce to taste (it is really spicy)
ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of honey
soy sauce
toasted sesame oil (optional)

Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Heat wok until it begins to smoke. Add oil. Once the oil is very hot, add garlic and onion. Allow a minute to brown slightly. Add vegetables. Keep the heat high. Add seasonings. Once vegetables are almost cooked, add shrimp and drained noodles. If needed, add a little water for the noodles to finish cooking. The shrimp will cook in a couple of minutes and will turn pink. Keep stirring everything so it cooks evenly. Once you turn off the heat, you can drizzle some toasted sesame oil over the noodles.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars!

We have been in love with these Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars since we were kids, they're pretty much a staple at every family function. Unfortunately, they are so delicious that they're usually the first to go. By the time we try to sneak a second bar, there are only tiny, tasty crumbs left.
I hate to admit that it took us until last month to realize that, "Hey, we're grownups! We can make these whenever we want!".
So, Monique combined her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with a portion of her famous cheesecake bar recipe, and magic happened. What I love most about this recipe is that the cookie part is made from scratch. You can definitely use store bought dough, but in my opinion there is a huge difference in quality. Where the ready made cookie dough becomes too crispy, homemade cookie dough remains a little soft and chewy. We also use semi-sweet chocolate chips so the sweetness won't be overwhelming.
If you bring these bars to your next function, everyone will love you forever.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

For the cookie:
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 sticks of room temperature butter (1 salted, 1 unsalted)
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
cooking spray or butter for greasing the pan

For the cheesecake:
2 8oz packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 cup of granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a stand or hand mixer, cream both sticks of butter with granulated and light brown sugar until well combined and fluffy. Stop to scrape sides of bowl so ingredients become well incorporated. Add eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla.
 In a separate bowl, whisk flour and baking soda. Add to sugar and egg mixture in batches. Once well combined, mix in chocolate chips by hand.
Grease a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Evenly spread most of the cookie dough along bottom of pan, reserving about a cup of dough for topping.

Mix cream cheese and sugar until soft. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. You may have to scrape down the sides of bowl a few times. Once well combined, spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cookie dough.
Add pieces of remaining cookie dough to top of cheesecake and bake for 35 minutes or until cookie topping is golden brown. Allow to cool before covering and placing in refrigerator. Cut into squares when ready to serve and fall in love.

"... the Aristocrats!"

Hi! I noticed some of our posts haven't been posting properly, so I will be re-posting some of our favorites. I think this happened when we merged our old blog with this one.
We visited Newport, Rhode Island, a lovely town by the sea which was once the home of the very wealthy and very fabulous. Since we had about one hundred dollars between the two of us, we were also feeling very wealthy and very fabulous. My mother's hand me down Michael Kors bag made me feel especially glamorous.
Unfortunately, our favorite Newport restaurant was packed, and after driving around the block a billion times, we spotted the Spring Seasons Inn (86 Spring St.) advertising their tea room with a cute flag.

When we found this lovely tea room, I had been reading a romance novel about a time traveling English knight and every other word in the book was either tea, scones, or clotted cream. Before I had read the last word, I vowed to find a proper tea room where we too could be lovely ladies. This proved harder than it seemed, the tea room part, not the lovely lady part.
Since we couldn't believe our good fortune at having found this tea room, and since we were into being very classy, we proceeded to speak like Downton Abbey extras the entire time we were there. I think I shall indulge further.
Upon parking the automobile, we made our way up the steps and rang the door bell. We were promptly greeted by a young lady (we assumed her to be the innkeeper's daughter). We were lead down a hallway, taking notice of  a quaint gift shop which was positively delightful. The gift shop was filled with darling, little teacups and loose tea.

We were escorted to the dining room where we chose a charming table by the window with a view of the garden.

Much to our delight, a small group of church ladies was seated at the dining table betwixt ourselves (the lovely ladies) and another cozy table for two. The innkeeper regaled us with menu choices and left us to our own accord. It was then we noticed that the church ladies had lovely British accents, and that made us feel even more continental and chic. It doesn't take much to make us happy.

We chose the " "Tea for Two" (about 15.00 each) which consisted of tea, scones, sweet cream, finger sandwiches and petits fours. The agreeable innkeeper then brought our selected teas to the table. Himalayan Peak Darjeeling Organic black for moi and Monique selected a cool and refreshing organic, peach iced tea. Both teas were simply to die for.

We were advised to select our tea cups which are kept displayed atop the piano and we gracefully glided to said piano and selected suitable patterns for a lady. We both had our hearts set on a lovely blue and gold tea cup but were far too ladylike to choose this whilst the other coveted it's delicate beauty. We did take the tea cup to our table, however because if we couldn't have it, nor could anyone else. Diplomacy, we always say.

Dainty sandwiches. Roasted red pepper hummus and black olives on a sun dried tomato wrap, egg salad with dill and cucumber cream cheese with mint. So good.

 Petits fours. Red velvet, lemon bars, carrot cake and cheesecake. 

 The cranberry scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream were delicious.

This is what the table looked like before we filled our plated with delicate delicacies.

I think in our minds we were all:

But then we pulled out our cell phones and started taking pictures so we were more like:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Vintage Side Tables: Before

Late last summer, we were happily driving along when I spotted these two lovelies across four lanes of traffic. I can spot pretty things like nobody's business. We arrived at the roadside, collective yard sale just as they were closing up. The sellers were so eager to get rid of these vintage side tables, that we bought them for $2.50 each. Five dollars! I usually read about people scoring amazing deals and think I'll never be that lucky, but this time I was wrong. We started working on them last year, but Monique came down with a horrible cold and the refinishing project was shelved. Spring will be here in fifteen glorious days, which means these two are getting dragged out to the yard and finished properly.

We're still undecided on colors, we're thinking white or gray. I'm in love with Anthropologie hardware. Below are my favorites. I'm actually leaning toward the second knob even though it's not usually what I'd go for. I also love the rabbit and fox. We recently made our own drawer knobs for another project and I'm pretty enamored with those. I just can't wait to start working on them again.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dear Spring, please hurry!