Archive for category Family

Caramel Soaked Cake with Burnt Caramel French Buttercream

caramel cake


I’ve been baking (and now posting!) again. It’s glorious!  Between a new baby and a major house remodel this year, my kitchen (and energy levels) were a bit out of sorts. I’m happy to say that my new kitchen is gorgeous and 90% finished. I am busy at work breaking it in!

For some reason last year when my daughter (still sounds strange) was born, it didn’t hit me that her and my hubby’s birthdays are 9 days apart…. This year I fit in a decadent cake for Jason while planning baby A’s big first birthday bash. I have all the juicy details of her party to share, but first the caramel-soaked cake that my not-a-day-over-21 (ha!) cutie requested.


Bam! I sat over a hot flame on my new gas oven preparing not one, but 3 batches of caramel for this bad boy. It was my first time making a french buttercream and it was the highlight of the cake for me. Especially the subtle dark caramel notes and the creamy texture. The cake held up in the fridge for the better part of a week, but the caramel sauce began to crystallize a bit after that. The white cake recipe was pretty good, but I expected it to be more moist with the caramel soaked in. You could easily substitute your favorite white or yellow cake recipe. (while you are at it… share the link in the comments!)

We may have eaten a few slices for breakfast with coffee and then had it for dessert that night too… It was seriously a treat and when I make it again, I’ll share with friends – maybe. Keep in mind that this recipe has a good number of steps and you might use all of your saucepans a few times.  You can prepare the cake layers one day and then frost/drizzle on the second day if you are short on time.

Here is the full recipe and instructions if you want to reproduce this tasty treat in your own kitchen. (Trust me you do).

Inspiration from here, here, and here.




Lemon Ricotta Fritters w/ Berry Compote


When my mom comes to visit, we cook. Can’t help it. Actually come to think of it, it doesn’t matter where we are there is always good food around. I have to admit, when my mom is in my kitchen – I feel like an amateur. I always learn a new trick or two and her food just tastes better than mine!

It’s funny because being critical of our food is also kinda hereditary. We have a running joke that if mom thinks something she made is good, then it will be one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. And these lemon ricotta fritters were just that!  Seriously, they were gone before we could get a proper picture….

Lemon Ricotta Fritters

(Thanks to hubs for instagramming the shot above or there would be no photo evidence!)

A light dusting of powdered sugar and a little berry compote to dip them in and we were savoring every last nugget! We started with this Bobby Flay recipe, though we added more lemon zest and improvised on the berry compote. Here’s our version:


Hot Chocolate on a Stick with Homemade Marshmallows

People ask you also sorts of questions when you are pregnant but the recent favorite is about what I’m craving.  I haven’t had too many strange midnight snacks… the weirdest was that I wanted mini marshmallows, uh….frozen.  (You should totally try it, hubby liked them too).  A close second to that is chocolate and anything with cheese or carbs.  I know it sounds like I’m in junk food heaven but I’ve actually been eating tons of leafy greens, lean proteins and fruit for the most part.

Anyway, back to marshmallows.  I have been wanting to make them from scratch for a long time, but I had filed them away as one of those difficult recipes that you should only attempt when you have extra patience.  To my surprise, they are actually relatively easy if you have the right tools!  I came across these cute snowflake shaped ones and thought they would make a perfect topping to Hot Chocolate on a Stick which I first discovered on Pinterest, my new favorite source of inspiration.

We have a recent Christmas tradition of only getting gifts for the kids, so I thought Hot Chocolate on a Stick would be a fun inexpensive surprise for the adults. I wrapped them up in twos in cute gift packaging  and printed up some little personalized labels to go along with them! I also put instructions on the back to heat up 8 oz of milk and stir in the stick for almost instant hot chocolate. Aren’t they fun?!

 Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Here is the recipe if you want to make up a batch yourself!

I learned that you should always make a few extra in case the kids want to enjoy some too….

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows




Elmo Smash Cake for Baby V!

Coming off a couple of insane weeks of travel, Jason and I made the trek from Atlanta to our sleepy hometown of Vero Beach.  There were lots of reasons to celebrate – new babies, several birthdays, recent engagement and of course the whole reason we had a long weekend – Independence day!

Elmo Cake

When a long weekend and your nephew’s first birthday party coincide, you just don’t miss that! In fact, no matter how exhausted you are, you volunteer to make the smash cake ’cause that little man is only turning 1 once.  Elmo agrees.

We also volunteered to bring an Elmo fruit platter that was inspired by a photo on Pinterest (sorry, after much googling I still can’t find the original source of the photo). While I was helping Elmo paint a masterpiece, hubs meticulously arranged strawberries, mandarin oranges and blueberries into this:

Awesome job right?  My man may let me take over the kitchen most of the time, but he’s got serious skills.

As for the details of the cake, my original goal was to limit the use of food coloring. I also wanted to keep it mostly buttercream (fav recipe here) so little V could smash it easily.  Unfortunately I realized it’s almost impossible to achieve that “Elmo red” any other way.  By making removable marshmallow fondant decorations, he was able to smash it and get more cake than frosting. See?

He even shared the lemon cream cake (1/2 of this recipe) with mom & dad who noticed the subtle lemon & tried to sneak in a few extra bites :).

I express my love through cake and I hope when this little guy gets older he sees the family pictures of his first birthday and knows there are a lot of people who think he’s pretty cool, crown and all!

Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Baby V!


Happy 2011!

Whew, this year has absolutely flown by. I’m doing double takes every time I see 2011 because it just looks weird!

For me, this year in particular holds a lot of milestones.

I celebrated 7 incredible years of marriage to my amazing hubby, finished my PhD, made tons of progess on the house and grew alot personally. My mom overcame breast cancer and my grandma is working hard recovering from a stroke. My first niece and nephew were born just 9 days apart! I took my first trip where I needed a passport, started this blog and began working out more regularly.

Life is sweet even through the ups and downs and I’m so thankful for all the blessings.

Brief Intermission

You guys and gals are long overdue for an update.  I haven’t stopped blogging, and no Martha Stewart did not put out a gag order to stop me from “fixing” her recipe.  Sometimes life gets in the way of the plans we make and although its not always fun, I grow a lot in these times.

Two weekends ago my sweet “Maw Maw” had a severe stroke.  I got in the car and drove the 7 hours to sit with her and hold her one functioning hand in the hospital.  Its always tough to see the people you love go through something like this, but I am so glad that she is recovering.  We are hopeful that over the next few months with speech, occupational and physical therapy that she will regain her mobility again.  She has a big heart and a strong spirit and although its difficult, she reminds me that I have a lot to learn and even more to be thankful for.  At 86, she has fought through health complications before and she isn’t giving up this time.

After I got home, Jason and I decided to whip up these handmade cards to send her as a pick me up.

I will be posting more projects soon and, of course, I still owe you the still-tasty-but-not-1000-calorie version of Martha’s tart. In the meantime, please say a prayer for my grandma.

Little Letters

Jason and I don’t have kids yet. Well that’s not technically true we have one – Ms. Abbygellers Princess Fuzz Bucket herself (Abby for short). But you probably can’t see her…she has invisible superpowers.

But you know what I mean, the sweet bald drooling kind that cuddle and suck on their toes.  So you can imagine our excitement when last year at Thanksgiving both of my sister in-laws announced that they were pregnant!  Fast forward to the end of June/beginning of July this year and we have THE most adorable nephew, Vince (Vbear) and niece, Alice – just 9 days apart!

Told you they were cute!  So what is a new aunt to do other than spoil and snuggle them as much as possible?  I had been collecting diapers and other baby goodies as part of my weekly coupon shopping so I put together a basket for each babe.  I wanted to add a personal touch and I got inspired to make a decorative wooden letter for their nurseries.  Using two coordinating scrapbook papers (blues and browns for baby V and purples and yellows for Ms. Alice), I outlined and cut out the paper to exactly cover the letter and glued it on.  Then I just let it dry overnight. Here is the final product:

And what they look like in the nurseries!

Alice’s room has clean lines and modern crisp furniture. Vince has a nautical themed nursery with lots of fun colors (aren’t those capiz mobiles awesome!). I am so thrilled that they each have a little something in their rooms from Aunt Amy and I can’t wait to spoil them some more!

Happy Grandparent’s Day

Allow me to introduce my Maw Maw.  She is a kitty loving, mother of 8,  and a die-hard Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s fan. She makes a mean chili mac and fluffy homemade waffles.  She is strong and beautiful, not to mention hilarious and a little bit stubborn.  Since Jason and I moved to South Carolina, we haven’t been able to get together as much.  This picture was taken at my house in 2006 as we were heading out to the Riverbanks botanical garden.   Happy Grandma’s Day, Maw Maw, I love you!